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December 31, 2005

Ben Gets Really Angry at Sharkansky

'Why Politics Are Not Good For My Health' is the title of a post that my generally even-tempered friend, Ben, has put up on his tech-oriented blog. Jon and I are issuing him an invitation to post here directly in the future when he has political issues on his mind but in the meantime here is the post in it's entirety: 

Ok, if there’s one thing that gets me completely riled up, it’s Seattle’s very own unimaginably self-obsessed local jackass Stefan Sharkansky.

For those unfamiliar with him, he played the role of GOP media point man during the 2004-2005 Washington State Governor’s recount via his local conservative blog, Sound Politics.

Now, there’s plenty of tools on the Internet, right-wing and otherwise, so why, oh why, do I choose to get so riled up about this particular tool? Well, it has to do with his assertion that all of his conclusions are somehow based upon his skills as a “data guy”. Now, most people when faced with someone who claims to be a “data guy” are a bit put-off because they aren’t technical. So he seems to wield his meager technical skills as some sort of badge of honor because they give him a little bit of credibility.

His technical skills are not exactly something to brag about. As evidence of this, I give you exhibit A: Personal Fund.com, the sum total of his online technical resume before become Dino Rossi’s personal asskisser. It’s a really sad site, complete with a “News” section that has a mysterious 2-year gap between November 2003 and November 2005.

Another example of his dubious “data guy” experience is his pathetic “Voter Database” (found here). It’s about as simple as you can get and does absolutely nothing to reveal anything interesting about the data. What is this supposed to do? Allow enraged Republicans to check to see if their liberal neighbors aren’t supposed to vote? This is junior high school-level programming.

But the most glaring example of how he doesn’t deserve the term “data guy” is very simple: the GOP lost the election recount. For those of you who think that the recount was won because of fraud are simply wrong; it was won because a whole hell of a lot of smart Democrats worked their asses off to make sure that every single vote that could be counted was counted. This includes lawyers, canvassers and, yes, data guys like me. If the GOP had spent more time on how to actually win and less time on how to pump up their talk-radio ratings, they would have won. But they didn’t, and it’s because Sharkansky and his cadre of misinforming goons simply weren’t smart enough to win.

Sharkansky is not a data guy. He’s a third-rate programmer who likes living in the limelight of notoriety more than he likes putting technology to work for the causes he supports. And now, with the release of the first version of Washington’s Statewide Voter Database, he’ll no doubt write a series of misleading posts about how he, with his superior database-fu, has managed to uncover some kind of massive fraud perpetrated by Seattle liberals, only to have his claims shot down a few days later by grown-ups who know better.

I’ve put in a request for access to the new database as well, and I’ll be fact-checking every little thing he says.

Also, I’d like to add that I’m a very fair guy, with very little ego. There are pieces of my own technologies which could be picked apart and shown to be amateurish in the light of day. So, if anyone has anything to say in Sharkansky’s defense, I will read them with an open mind.

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 31, 2005 at 09:18 AM in Inside Baseball, Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 30, 2005

Women at the Top

Nice article over at the PI by Chris Mann and Charles Pope about our wonderful trio of Murray, Cantwell and Gregoire working for us in government.  Washington state is unique in having the top three offices in the state all held by women although two other states - California and Maine - also have two female U.S. Senators.  Here's a couple exerpts about women in politics and how they govern differently: 

What that means for residents is open to debate. Murray, Cantwell and Gregoire, all Democrats, insist they are simply doing what's best for the state and their constituents.

The difference, they say, involves motivation and methods that are based on collaboration instead of competition.

Works for me. I think we'd see a very different political scene if women were 50% of all elected politicians.   

"For men, winning the game is absolutely everything," Murray said. "For women generally it's not whether you scored more points but whether you move the ball. We want our kids to get an education, we want our families to be healthy and we want to be comfortable in our neighborhoods."

In a report on the impact of women in politics, Karen O'Connor, director of the Women & Politics Institute at American University, said research indicates that "the presence of women in legislative bodies makes a significant difference not only in what gets discussed, but also in what kinds of legislation are advanced."  O'Connor said data show that women legislators:

  • Conceptualize problems differently than men and are more likely to offer new solutions.
  • Are more likely to advance "women's issues," define women's issues more broadly than men, put them at the top of their legislative agendas, and to take a leadership role in those issue areas.
  • Are more likely to view crime as a societal, rather than individual, problem.
  • Are more likely to make certain that their policy positions are translated into new programs to help women.

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 30, 2005 at 08:41 AM in Media | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 29, 2005

The Unity Coalition

. . . or how about we get smarter about how we select the next Democratic Party State Chair.  A Unity Coalition of several different Party caucuses, including the African American, Agriculture Rural, Asian Pacific, Disability, Federation of Democratic Women, Hispanic/Latino, Jewish, Labor, Progressive, Stonewall, Veterans and Young Democratic caucuses, is planning to hold a Candidate’s forum and try to get the people running for Chair to come and talk with the Coalition and answer some questions. 

“I wanted someone I could trust,” said Luis Moscoso, the organizer of the event and the State Secretary of the Washington State Democrats.   

I had the opportunity to sit and talk with Luis and several other folks after a meeting last week and hear about the Unity Coalition he is trying to build quickly to exert some impact on the recently announced upcoming election for Party Chair, created unexpectedly by Paul Berendt’s announcement that he’d be stepping down.  One of the folks at the table, Noemie Maxwell, had recently written an interesting posting on this Unity Coalition that Luis was putting together to have an impact on selecting the new Chair.  We all wanted to hear more. 

Luis was elected last January by a pretty wide margin for someone who knew at most five people out of the 178 people voting prior to the election.  He says he thinks they were ready for some change on some part of the ticket and they liked his message.  State Secretary is an unpaid position and there has not been a lot of call for him to do much.  So he’s getting to create what he wants in the position and has chosen to focus on strengthening the various Party caucuses and building coalitions between them.

Luis realized quickly that he didn’t really like the process used in the elections and wanted to see if he could make some changes in the next election cycle.  Well, a piece of that election arrived early.  So he went into action. 

His idea is that the caucuses that participate in the forum will not endorse any particular candidate.  They will talk about what they want the new Chair to do and they will ask a series of questions to each of the candidates.  The questions will have to do with internal Party protocols as well as specific issues.

The Candidate Forum will be held on Sunday, January 8th at 2:00 at the Carpenters Hall Local 1797 at 231 Burnett Ave. North in Renton and interested Democrats are welcome to attend. Click through for Download UnityCoalition.doc flyers to distribute.

Pretty cool.  I’ll be talking to some of the individual caucus leaders between now and then to hear from them on what they can say ahead about what they will be looking for.  Then I’ll cover the Forum as well when it comes up.  Others might find it interesting as well.   

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 29, 2005 at 02:38 PM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Rodriguez Withdraws from Race for Party Chair

Greg Rodriguez, former Chair of the King County Democrats and one of the strongest contenders to replace Paul Berendt as Chair of the Washington State Democrats, has posted a letter on his website withdrawing from the race.  He talks about personal reasons and some long-time difficulties with some in the Democratic Party.  He then speaks eloquently about the needs of Party at this time and promises to support whomever is selected in late January. 

First and foremost we must run our Party in a more business like fashion. We need to provide our Districts and counties with up-to-date and efficient communications, lists and training resources. We must find and hire the most professional people and insist on the utmost levels of ethics and accountability. The thoughts and ideas of the Eboard, Chairs, and caucus leaders should be listened to and acted upon much more than they have been. Decisions should be made collaboratively and not done in back rooms and assumed that everyone will go along with them.

We must improve our voter file and technology presence. It is true we have one of the most advanced systems in the country, but that does not mean we should rest on our laurels. We must utilize the people that have the technological know how and who have offered support to this Party (but have been turned away) to make our system better and more user-friendly. Our website must be translated into Spanish and other languages as well as any printed materials we develop.

We have to pay more attention to our Democrats outside the I-5 corridor. This means in rural and urban places on both sides of the mountains. We will never regain a Democratic stronghold if we write these places off. It will not happen over night, but we must find ways to get our message out, recruit and train candidates, and work with our local County and District organizations to strengthen the Democratic base across this state. In addition, we must utilize all of our caucuses, our friends in labor, choice and peace groups, environment and yes even business to craft and deliver messages appropriate to the different demographics and geographies of the State of Washington .

We need to develop a Party leadership mentoring program and learn how to encourage our youth to take on more positions of leadership. We must end the politics of personal and organizational destruction that occurs even within our own Party. This will get us nowhere and in fact has caused people to leave the Party organizations in this State. While so many of our goals in this Party may be different, we have far more that are the same and should work more and more to find that common ground and assist our rising stars and growing organizations in achieving their fullest potential.

Thanks, Greg. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 29, 2005 at 02:24 PM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The Skinny on Abramoff

'The Enron of Lobbying' is what a colleague says about Team Abramoff, the gang of former Republican staffers that helped Abramoff build what the WAPO says could become 'the biggest congressional corruption scandal in generations'.  An article in today's Washington Post by Susan Schmidt and James Grimaldi is the best all-round account of Jack Abramoff's career - from its shady beginnings with his pals Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist in the College Republicans to his totally unscrupulous dealings with foreign governments and corporations, Indian tribes and Congressmen. 

Above all it is a story of hubris and greed:

For a time, all things seemed possible. Abramoff's brash style often clashed with culturally conservative Washington, but many people were drawn to his moxie and his money. He collected unprecedented sums -- tens of millions of dollars -- from casino-rich Indian tribes. Lawmakers and their aides packed his restaurants and skyboxes and jetted off with him on golf trips to Scotland and the Pacific island of Saipan.

Abramoff offered jobs and other favors to well-placed congressional staffers and executive branch officials. He pushed his own associates for government positions, from which they, too, could help him.

<snip>

"Everybody lost their minds," recalled a former congressional staffer who lobbied with Abramoff at Preston Gates. "Jack was cutting deals all over town. Staffers lost their loyalty to members -- they were loyal to money."

While we now associate Abramoff with domestic scandals, he cut his teeth on serving dicey international masters for great sums of money.  He worked with Oliver North, lobbying Congress for the Nicaraguan contras; he worked for Jonas Savimbi, the murderous Angolan rebel leader, to organize anticommunist guerrillas from around the world; he lobbied Congress on behalf of the apartheid South African government. 

A man with no moral compass, this guy.  No wonder there is great hope that he will turn over the goods on Tom DeLay, Conrad Burns and a host of sleazy Republican Congressmen to lessen his own time behind bars.

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 29, 2005 at 10:01 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 27, 2005

Something's Happening – Washblog in Transition

If you haven’t noticed, there are some interesting goings-on over at Washblog lately and more is coming.  Over the last year, Brian Moran has invited several fine writers and activists to write on the blog – Noemie Maxwell and Arthur Ruger amongst others.  He always wanted to have a large group of folks writing for Washblog but found, as many of us have, that it is hard to get folks to participate who don’t like to be in the limelight.  They may have an opinion and good ideas but they don’t have a good forum to share it in.  They can comment on what others have written but that is just reacting to what someone else has written.  It may not be the subject they actually want to write about.

To facilitate a more community-based blog, Brian decided to change platforms to go to what is called a Scoop-based platform, which is what DailyKos uses, because it encourages more folks to join in the conversation or start their own conversation.  Then, in October, he talked with folks from the Seattle Kos group who were thinking about creating their own community blog and proposed that they come in with him to make Washblog a community-based blog.  They have done much of the planning and will be going over to Scoop very soon. 

This is going to get very interesting.

We in the Northwest progressive blogosphere are rapidly creating a number of interesting places for people to go to get their progressive news and to learn about what they can do to get involved in electing Democrats and changing policies that matter to them.  There’s the NW Portal, Horse’s Ass, Evergreen Politics, Orcinus, Blatherwatch, our friends in Oregon and Idaho and now Alaska, and maybe 200 more.  Collectively, we are facing down the Republicans by exposing their unconscionable and ridiculous actions.  Then we are also pushing the Democrats, partly by covering their backs and partly by calling them to be bolder and more organized.  Now, with the new Washblog, we will also have something like a community coffee house to hold conversations. 

I’ve been talking to Brian about his plans and also checked in with one of the informal leaders of the Seattle Kos gang, who goes by the name of Switerblog when he writes on the blogs. 

Here’s a few questions I asked them in separate interviews.  First to Brian:

Q:  What do you see happening at Washblog in the next year or two?

BM: In the near term, my focus will be on the legislative session and on expanding coverage to Eastern Washington. 

Personally, now that the blog is more of a partnership and many more people are already writing on it, I have time to focus on other things – working with the Institute for Washington’s Future and getting more progressives elected. 

Q:  What would you like to see in the NW progressive blogsphere? 

BM:  The blogs are a key piece of the liberal infrastructure we are building.  I see our collective focus on raising awareness.  But I’d like to see this being more sustainable.  We need to find a way to generate revenues and create a progressive marketplace, like Air America is beginning to do.  I’d like us to find a way to support a few good bloggers financially.  It would make a world of difference to the development of the infrastructure and in moving the regional conversation where we want it to go. 

Q:  What are the kinds of people you’d like to bring into your Washblog community?

BM: Well, folks like Noemie Maxwell and Arthur Ruger who are already writing for Washblog.  Noemie is helping establish and grow the Institute for Washington’s Future – working to develop three community forums this next year on issues of longer term importance to educating and uniting progressives.  Arthur provides a national aspect to the blog.  He brings in the local angle on the Iraq War, particularly when he relayed what his wife, Lietta, was doing down in Crawford with Cindy Sheehan last August.  Lately he has been reporting on the Weyerhaeuser plant closures in Cosmopolis and elsewhere. 

Thank you.

And on to Switerblog:

Q:  First, about this candidacy of yours for Party Chair?

SB:  Well, to me it was obvious that it was a faux candidacy all along.  But not everyone understood that.  I was planning on carrying this through the election but just recently changed my mind.  I realized the candidacy was confusing some people so I’ve called it off.

Q: Sorry about that.  I think you would have been pretty good. So, back to Washblog.  What’s the background on your involvement with Washblog?

SB: SeattleKos had formed informally with folks who wrote on DailyKos like Seattle Liberal and Kathy Pelish and McJoan and me.  We wanted a lot more organization than we had so we started a Yahoo group and began keeping track of who was involved.  So, we’re individually posting diaries on DailyKos and then writing about them on the yahoo group.  It just seemed like maybe we could have our own blog and post on local politics. 

We were dealing with the question of what to name it when Brian came along and said he was doing something similar and was going to Scoop.  So we took him up on his offer and all moved over to Washblog, making it our local landing pad.  Some of us are already posting over there; others are waiting for diaries rather than going onto the Front Page. 

Q:  Where do you see it going?

SB:  The rough idea is to have a local version of Kos.  Initially we were thinking maybe we’d get to 200-300 people who posted on it but the way things are going already, I would guess we’d get past that fairly quickly.

Along with Goldy, we were right on top of the Voter Registration issue and it was clear that the Democratic Party and other blogs were watching us.  So we may be poised for a lot of growth.

Q:  What do you see as the challenges?

SB:  The biggest question for me is what we can get from the eastern side of the state.  We are going to do some serious recruiting over there.  At this point, almost no matter how the subject of East and West is initially addressed, it gets couched in generalizations and slams one side to the other and produces the inevitable flame wars. 

Q:  What is your role in all of this?

SB:  I seem to be the organizer.  I just fell into the roll since no one else was doing it.  I’ve come to be the group leader and people look to me to keep it organized. 

Q:  Is McJoan (one of the new front pagers for DailyKos) an active part of your group?

SB:  She has been.  She is from Seattle but has lately been spending a lot of time in Portland with family matters.  We are hoping she will have time to join us in discussing the local angle of issues.  But we have other stars and many hidden assets, people like Israelhand who have just started writing at Washblog. 

Thanks.  I am looking forward to this.

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 27, 2005 at 08:35 AM in Inside Baseball, Interviews, Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 22, 2005

Ron Sims on the Suppression of Voting Rights

Sims, King County Executive, has a guest column in the Seattle Times today on the widespread and troubling efforts to weaken voting rights protection in this country, of which our King County Republican registration challenges of this past election cycle were one. Indeed, Sims reviews the questionable tactics of Lori Sotelo:

Under press questioning, Republicans reluctantly admitted they did not have any evidence that the people on their list were engaging in vote fraud. At best, they had discovered a group of citizens who, either out of a lack of knowledge of the technical requirements of elections law or because of unusual personal circumstances, had made an innocent error on their registration forms.

Sims then puts the King County challenges into context and calls on our state legislators to ensure that all voters retain their precious voting rights. 

What recent developments in King County tell us is that the dark legacy of poll taxes and "literacy tests" is not as much a thing of the past as we would like to believe. Unfortunately, there is still an immediate need to protect voters from those seeking new methods to disenfranchise them for partisan advantage.

We need election-law reform, but that must mean strengthening our current protections rather than weakening them, as Republicans are proposing. What we need is strong, loophole-free legislation in Olympia that will bar, once and for all, the sort of mass-challenge abuses we just experienced here in King County.

Trifling with voting rights for our citizens is no small thing.

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 22, 2005 at 02:31 PM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Details of the Proposed State Budget

Carl over at Washington State Political Report has the details on Gregoire's proposed state budget.  As he says, the right people seem to be for it and the right people seem to be against it.  It must be pretty good.

The Olympian has an article on the budget as well which Carl condensed quite nicely.

We interviewed the governor last week and have the background and vision that supports this budget.

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 22, 2005 at 02:14 PM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 21, 2005

Smackdown!

In a breath of fresh air for thinking people everywhere, Judge John Jones delivers a massive smackdown to Intelligent Design:

Judge Jones, a Republican appointed by President Bush, concluded that intelligent design was not science, and that in order to claim that it is, its proponents admit they must change the very definition of science to include supernatural explanations.

Judge Jones said that teaching intelligent design as science in public school violated the First Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits public officials from using their positions to impose or establish a particular religion.

"To be sure, Darwin's theory of evolution is imperfect," Judge Jones wrote. "However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions."

David Postman at the Seattle Times covers The Discovery Institute's attempts to weasel away from this devastating blow to their pet theory (and core business.)  The irony of the Discovery Institute accusing a federal judge of "ignoring facts that don't fit his little theory" is just delicious.

Posted by Jon Stahl on December 21, 2005 at 11:06 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I'd Vote For Vote-By-Mail

Ron Sims appears to be steering King County towards all-mail balloting.  I think it's a sensible idea.

But what I think is one thing; what researchers have learned from studying Oregon's experiment with mail-in voting over the past five years is more interesting.  And thanks to the internets, you can read about it on the Oregon Secretary Of State's website.

The most interesting piece might be "Ballot Integrity and Voting by Mail: The Oregon Experience," by The Early Voting Information Center at Reed College.  In it, researchers conclude that mail-in balloting is one of the most secure and safe ways to vote.

       

Posted by Jon Stahl on December 21, 2005 at 10:35 PM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Conviction and Staying the Course

One of the regular commenters, MrsK8, over at firedoglake wrote a wonderful piece that was frontpaged, entitled "And Yet There Was Hope".  She talks about the solemn duty and spiritual conviction that she sees is needed for us to work toward our goals of freedom, civil liberties and rule of law in these difficult times. I'm quoting the whole of it because it is so good.  Reminds me to mention - if you aren't reading firedoglake regularly you are missing one of the best blogs on the Internet.   

Because we love what this country of ours is meant to represent in its principles and ideals (even though we have often fallen way, way short of them), we have a solemn duty to fight our hearts out. A SOLEMN DUTY. We need the kind of soul-searing commitment that says we will fight even if we don't know if we will succeed or can succeed. We'll fight because it is right, and because we owe it to ourselves, to future generations, and to the memory of our founders and those who fought to preserve the Union and those who gave their lives for the right to vote or the right to strike.

Although we must always see to it that we are working most efficiently toward our goals, we cannot TIE our fight to the measurement of immediate or short-term success. A line keeps going through my head, even though I don't remember if it's a quote from a historical figure, a religious figure, or a political figure: "to fight and not count the cost."

Our freedom, our precious civil liberties, our Constitution must be so sacred to us that we will fight to rescue them no matter how hopeless it might appear at any given moment. In such a struggle as we have here, we are BOUND to have moments of darkness, discouragement, a teetering on the edge of despair, but we must NOT give in to these emotions.

We should study examples here in our own history and all around the globe to get a renewed spiritual sense of how precious justice and civil liberties are, and what sort of nightmarish evils and struggles people have endured to secure their rights. Just think of Jim Crow, of the horribly impoverished but relentless dissenters in South Africa from townships like Soweto -- and what must it have been like for Nelson Mandela to have been in prison for so long? MLK's "Letters from a Birmingham Jail" are good to read, and the biography of Gandhi, and the story of those who have worked tirelessly for reconciliation in Rowanda and other war-torn areas. There are so many examples of people who have had nightmarish experiences in their battle for justice, and who haven't given up.

Expressing disappointment and looking for community support is sometimes essential and can be nourishing and healing to the soul. But we must never let ourselves succumb to discouragement, ultimately.
Bravo.

If ever there were a time for all of us to get involved, work our butts off on the 2006 elections, speak out and stand up and be counted, it is now. These are the times that try men's souls...but real men and women get up off their butts and do the work necessary to make things better. Let's get to work.

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 21, 2005 at 10:11 PM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Arctic Dodges The Bullet Again

Good news for America's natural heritage today. The Senate was unable to force cloture and thus ram through oil drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge by attaching it to a defense spending bill.

Maria Cantwell, finally showing some backbone after a string of high-profile cop-outs, led the opposition here. She deserves credit here -- Cantwell's always been very strong on the environment.

With a 2006 re-election fight brewing, Cantwell is clearly feeling some pressure to stand up for the core issues her progressive base expects her to defend. I hope that she carries this newfound enthusiasm through the elections and into her second term, instead of bowing to the right-wing agenda on trade, bankruptcy and tort "reform" as she has in the past.

Posted by Jon Stahl on December 21, 2005 at 02:20 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Getting to Know You

Interviews with candidates for the Democratic Party State Chair are showing up over at Washblog.  This is a very important position and we will want to really think about who is running and their thoughts on what we need to do in the state to build an even more robust party and ground effort so we can continue our blueward trend.  A relatively new blogger at Washblog (I can tell he/she's new because he/she doesn't have the hang of Typepad yet), Israelhand, has done interviews with Jean Brooks and Bill Harrington (cross-posted at DailyKos) and hopes to do them with all of the candidates. I will pass along some of the work he is doing, trying to focus our attention on what needs to be done in the Party no matter who is selected.

Here's a description of Jean Brooks from the interview:

Jean has been on the University Place city council since 1995. She serves as an alternate member to the Pierce County Health Department Board, member of the Tacoma-Pierce County Community Action Board, and member of the Aging and Long-Term Care Board. She was honored this year at the the 12th Annual WSDCC Magnuson Awards with the lifetime achievement award.

Jean has a personable, sharp-witted, and savvy presence that seems to translate well to the little screen. I live in University Place, so I see her quite often on UPTV, and our paths cross regularly. Jean seems to be on top of almost everything, and she radiates confidence and a sort of can-do energy.

And an exerpt of her response to what needs to happen:

We need to take a serious look at the way we are dealing with the grassroots. One phone call cannot replace face-to-face contact. We need to be acting at the precinct level, getting out and asking the voters directly about the issues, about what they are concerned about, rather that telling them what our agenda is going to be.  We have systems in place for statewide voter ID, but they are in disrepair.

A bit on Bill Harrington after the fold:

Israelhand's description of Bill Harrington, who is chair of the 2nd LD from the interview:

Bill is an avuncular-looking guy, with a striking mane of snow white hair, and a beard to match. He was relaxed and friendly, and seemed willing to listen. These are all good things for someone who has to deal regularly with the press, as the State Party chair must.

And an exerpt from Bill's response to the question of what needs to be done:

We need a massive outreach campaign to voters in our hard-to-get-at rural and agricultural areas of our great state. We need to take our message out to voters, one on one, rather than simply relying on television and mailing campaign strategies. The big loss in our electoral strategy is contact with individual voters. More and more, it seems, voters in these rural and agricultural areas are voting Republican, and this is a trend we need to reverse. Also, statewide, Republicans have more PCO's than Democrats, and this is a signal we are failing in our grassroots work."

Bill then provides some details of what is needed to strengthen our state-wide presence:

You know, Pierce County is in a unique position--- it can sink a state-wide candidate. And like too many of our counties, our voter identification is poor. The state party has the technical knowledge. I would like to see the state party buy a computer system for each county party, linked together with the state, to share information, and to let us all be working on a equal basis. Donor lists, voter ID--- in some cases our walking lists have 70% of the names with no party ID. A lot of those folks are Democrats, but nobody has ever talked to them.

Thanks to Israelhand.  We'll be looking at the interviews from several different writers and doing our own if we feel like there's more needed. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 21, 2005 at 12:33 PM in Interviews | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 20, 2005

It's Illegal. Period.

The NSA domestic spying program recently disclosed by the NYTimes, doesn't pass the sniff test.  Kevin at Washington Monthly has the barebones answers to questions of it's legality.  The bottom line:   

In other words, the president's program is almost certainly illegal unless you accept his unprecedented notion that we are currently in a state of war so grave that he has virtually unlimited power to override federal law whenever he considers it necessary. Even more importantly, by keeping his program secret, he has set himself up as the sole arbiter of whether his actions are legal or not. Neither Congress nor the courts are allowed any oversight, a position that is both breathtaking and dangerous.

As Jon asked a couple of days ago, "Can we impeach this clown now?"

And, as usual, Horsey puts it all in a cartoon that puts it all in perspective.

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 20, 2005 at 08:28 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 19, 2005

Breeze at her Back – Interview with Chris Gregoire

Chris Gregoire is likely to have another good legislative session this coming year.  Heaven knows, she’s due for some credit after the last year.  The governor and legislature actually accomplished a lot last year but that wasn’t the story then.  This year the dreadful court case is behind her.  Gregoire has most of her governmental team in place – people who are imminently qualified for their jobs.  There is an estimated $1.4 billion surplus in revenue coming into the state.  She has lined up about $200 million in spending she would like to see passed and she has also made it clear that she wants the rest to go toward a reserve for the possibility of difficult times ahead. 

With luck, the story will be on the actual good governance we are lucky enough to have here.  We have a governor and a majority in the legislature who are focused on the needs of the people of Washington.  The contrast between Washington State and the other Washington could hardly be clearer.  We live in a state where the Governor asks the people who have studied the issues what should be done rather than her cronies or the people who fund her campaign.  We live in a state where the emphasis is on funding education and maintaining and creating jobs and on finding innovative means to lower the cost of healthcare.  And there is so much more. 

In the other Washington . . .  Well, you know what nonsense is going on there.  The interview is after the fold.

Interview with Chris Gregoire

Thank you for taking the time to talk with me.

Q: Let’s start with your priorities for this next legislative session. 

CG: A big part of this session will be dealing with the supplemental budget.  There is currently a $1.4 billion surplus.  That’s the good news.  However, there are a number of essential expenditures that must come out of the budget.  For example, we have an increase in the caseload of social service agencies across the board.   We need $176 million to fund the state pensions properly.  Then we have a few strategic investments that this surplus will allow us to fund.  The rest we want to set aside for emergencies or a downturn in the economy. 

The biggest strategic investment is education.  We have a lot of tenth graders that are not able to pass the WASL.  That tells us we haven’t invested in students as we should.  We don’t want to lower the standards.  In the near-term we are looking into how we can help provide individual assistance to those students, by way of tutors or “English as a Second Language” programs as examples.  What will it take to help these students pass the WASL? 

Longer term we want to improve the schools, lower class sizes and get at the root causes of the inability of some students to do well in school.  On the latter, we are going to start with providing better daycare and pre-school for the youngest children to prepare them to learn better in school. We know that children who are intellectually, socially and emotionally better prepared at an early age are more likely to succeed in school.  I am proposing we fund a public-private partnership, the Early Learning Partnership Fund, to support high quality learning services in Washington, including an on-line ratings system for child care and preschools and a coordinated public outreach and education campaign to let people know the importance of early learning.

We will also be helping those who can’t afford to meet the skyrocketing costs of home heating.   I will be asking the legislators that the $7.6 million from a recent case that was just settled go to fund this need. 

We also need to fund biofuels and biodiesel research and development. 

We will also propose funding key investments for emergency preparedness, including funding for tsunami warnings and increased funding for the UW seismic warning system.

Then we have a set of selected strategic investment, including the cleanup of Puget Sound.   We need to address the conditions that have degraded the Orca’s environment.

In January we will also be looking at healthcare improvements.  As a state we serve 1.3 million people in healthcare.  With rising healthcare costs, that is expensive.  We are looking at the root causes of lack of quality, costs, affordability.  We want to look at how we can address those issues.  We are willing to take risks and be innovative.  I don’t think we solve the problem by cutting benefits.  Or shift the costs to those who can least afford it.

So we are going to go to what is called “evidence based medicine”.  There are huge inefficiencies in any healthcare system and we are going to tackle that and improve the entire system.  That will cost money but it will save much more in the long run. 

Q: Any plans for reforming the state tax structure?  How about the B&O Tax?

CG: I was down in Vancouver recently meeting with business folks asking for more tax credits.  I told them welcome mat was not out for that.  I told them that they needed to come back to me with proposals on restructuring the B&O Tax if they had difficulties with it.  This was the Association of Washington Businesses.  They told me they couldn’t get a consensus.  I told them, “I understand your criticism.  You give me a solution.”  We’ll see how that goes.

Q: How about your plans to assist in job retention and job growth?  I was touched at your efforts to find a new buyer for the Weyerhaeuser mill in Cosmopolis.  How is that going?

CG: We have some credible potential purchasers and we are reaching out to two different companies.  We are also reaching out to major purchasers of their products and asking them not to go away, letting them know we are trying to keep that mill there.

We have also put out bids for a feasibility study but haven’t received anything back which is disappointing.  We want information that says what we want to do is feasible. 

This mill has been in Cosmopolis for three generations.  It is integral to the economy of that area and has been like a family for those families who work there.  It is important for them that we keep those jobs there; they all love their jobs.  So we are working to make something happen.   
Q: There were several bills related to preventing or limiting outsourcing that came up in the last session although I don’t believe any of them made it out of committee.  Any thoughts on that?

CG: I was disturbed when I heard the state itself was outsourcing.  I asked for a review and we found two situations.  One was a sub-contractor.  One was directly a state agency.  We’re now asking when is it ever appropriate for the state to outsource.  With companies, I realize it’s difficult and we have to be careful about the messages we send to employers.  There will be a return message.  I struggle with this.   

We are the most trade-dependent state.  China and India are the places most jobs go to.  What I learned on my two trade missions earlier this year was that we need to have a more educated population.  We are capable as a nation of reinventing what we are good at and staying in the lead in creative, challenging jobs if we have a well-trained and well-educated workforce.  That’s what we need to concentrate on.   

Q: Gun control?  Any plans to plug the gun show loophole that has received some publicity lately?

CG: We haven’t done anything on that.  If the Legislature delivers something, I’ll look at it.  The tragedy at the Tacoma mall reminded us we need better gun controls.

Q: Let’s go on to a non-session related item.  How do you address the issue about folks who do not believe you were elected legitimately? There are still some out there. 

CG: Well, they spent six months challenging the legitimacy of that election.  The only result was a few more votes for me after lots of money spent on both sides.  I believe we won that election from the beginning.  With as much money as was spent to question the legitimacy of the election, I can see how people would be concerned and frustrated.  We need to go beyond it now.  I’m in office.  We have a state to run.  We need to run it.  I think we’re getting phenomenal things done.  I am looking forward to the new year.  This issue will get behind us.  I think that the citizens are concerned about what is important in their lives - health care, security, jobs, and education for their kids.  These are difficult issues and I’m prepared to deal with them.

Thank you.

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 19, 2005 at 09:50 AM in Interviews | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 17, 2005

So, Can We Impeach This Clown Now?

Now that Bush has admitted he ordered the NSA to violate the law forbidding spying on Americans without a court order, can we finally start the impeachment hearings and start the process of rebuilding a government that actually respects the rule of law?

I'm just wondering.

Posted by Jon Stahl on December 17, 2005 at 03:40 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 15, 2005

The Ever-Amazing Bill Moyers

"It's and old story: the greater the secrecy, the deeper the corruption," say Bill Moyers in a recent talk at the 20th anniversary of the National Security Archive, a non-governmental research institute and library at The George Washington University.  The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and Moyers' talk, although wide-ranging, focuses on the importance of the press, First Amendment rights and public disclosure.

He talks about LBJ and the Tonkin Gulf resolution and the errors made in the Vietmam War when the facts were not freely known or reported.  He talks about the on-going and consistent attempts by people in the current Bush Administration to keep information from the press, i.e. Rumsfield and Cheney fighing the Freedom of Information Act during the Ford Administration.  He talks about his own fight to report the truth on his PBS show, NOW, and the underhanded, corrupt and politically-motivated reactions of Ken Tomlinson to his show.  He talks about the Bush Administration's obsession with secrecy and the need for more push-back from the press.  It's a great read.  Here's one excellent paragraph:

I had hoped we would learn from experience. Two years ago, prior to the invasion of Iraq, I said on the air that Vietnam didn't make me a dove; it made me read the Constitution. Government's first obligation is to defend its citizens. There is nothing in the Constitution that says it is permissible for our government to launch a preemptive attack on another nation. Common sense carries one to the same conclusion: it's hard to get the leash back on once you let the wild dogs of war out of the kennel. Our present Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has a plaque on his desk that reads, "Aggressive fighting for the right is the noblest sport the world affords." Perhaps, but while war is sometimes necessary, to treat it as sport is obscene. At best, war is a crude alternative to shrewd, disciplined diplomacy and the forging of a true alliance acting in the name of international law. Unprovoked, "the noblest sport of war" becomes the slaughter of the innocent.

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 15, 2005 at 10:25 AM in Media, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 14, 2005

Senator Steve Johnson (R-47) To Retire

State Sen. Steve Johnson (R-47) will retire when his current term is up in 2006.   

As a senator, Johnson served as Majority Floor Leader in 1997, Republican Floor Leader in 1999, and Deputy Republican Leader in 2001 and 2002. He is currently the ranking Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and serves on the Legislative Ethics Board.

His rural King County district is a tight district.  Both Representatives from the 47th are currently Democrats.  An open seat there could be very exciting, and a good chance for a new State Democratic Chair to show whether he or she can field winning candidates in tough races.

Posted by Jon Stahl on December 14, 2005 at 09:14 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Real Christian Peace-makers

Not all Christians in Iraq are trying to convert the Muslims. I have to admit that when I first heard about the Christian Peace-makers who had been taken hostage a couple weeks ago, my first thought was "Not again.  When will these missionary types learn?"  But after hearing more, I realized we had some really brave, caring people who had been kidnapped, people who take the lessons of Christianity back to their roots and put their lives on the line to help people and prevent violence. 

So I was very happy to find that Geov Parrish has written an article in the Seattle Weekly on these four activists, entitled "Heroism With a Difference".  There are photos and a lovely piece on what these four members of the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) had been doing in Iraq and what the organization has been doing in other troubled areas. Here's a key exerpt:

CPT activists are pacifists, committed to active nonviolence. The CPT mission is to provide "faith-based nonviolent alternatives in situations where lethal conflict is an immediate reality." Activists like Fox, Kember, Loney, and Sooden know they are working in a war zone—that's the point. The idea is to save lives, by putting their privileged bodies in the way of violence, whether the threat is from Shiite death squads, Sunni gunmen, or trigger-happy U.S. troops.

Does it work? Iraqis must think so. Without support from host communities, groups like CPT wouldn't last a week. That support and their own wits are the only protection such activists have.

<snip>

For citizens of a country like Canada, Britain, or the U.S. to renounce their comfortable lives and willingly walk unarmed into such a setting, fully knowing that by their very citizenship they are prime targets for deadly violence, takes more courage than is ever demonstrated by most soldiers, who usually are cocooned on their bases, surrounded by all the weaponry and protection in the world. Such a commitment takes not recklessness or foolhardiness but a deep and abiding belief in the sanctity of all life and a willingness to work to save the lives of others, even as one's own life is endangered.

These four, along with their CPT brethren, are not likely to be released. It just doesn't happen, even in this case when the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a Palestinian resistance group, ask the Iraqis to do so. 

We can hold these courageous people in our thoughts and prayers for what they are doing there - trading their priviledged existence in the U.S or Canada or Great Britain for the risks of honoring non-violence and caring for fellow human beings in the midst of an horrendous war zone. As Geov puts it:

by their example, they are demonstrating in a way that occupying soldiers cannot that there are some Westerners who, no matter what their governments' policies, are willing to risk everything to help their fellow human beings.

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 14, 2005 at 02:42 PM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 13, 2005

Richard Kelley Not a Candidate for Party Chair

Just received an email from Richard Kelley, Chair of the 43rd LD, saying he is not a candidate for Party Chair.  Here's what he said:

I will not be a candidate for chair of the state Party.  It was not a hard decision, and it was kind of people to offer their support, but I think we will have a strong field of candidates and the Party will be in good hands.

Richard has been a great Party Chair for the 43rd and will hopefully be a key part of our State Party in other ways.   

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 13, 2005 at 12:24 PM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 12, 2005

Patty - Some Explanations Would Be Helpful

The Washington Post has a chart up on the top contributors and the top recipients of the Abramoff corruption machine.  Patty Murray is number 9 on the list, Harry Reid is number 10.  Not good.   Of course the majority of the folks on the Abramoff gravy train were Republicans but I really don't like seeing Murray's name up there and I think that she and Patrick Kennedy, #2 on the list, and Harry Reid need to clarify the situation pronto.

I have nothing but admiration and respect for Senator Murray and I really hope there is an innocent explanation and one that can be easily and quickly explained to the people of Washington State and the people of this country.

The media has been saying that both the Republicans and the Democrats are in this together.  It's just the way the game is played.  That's nonsense and spin. 

Those of us who pay deeper attention to the issues understand that we are in a different game these days.  The Republicans are deeper into corruption than Democrats or earlier Republicans ever were. Plus, with the "K-Street Project" going strong for the last decade and Republicans controlling the House, the Senate and the Whitehouse, there is really not much point in bribing Democrats. It is truly a 'culture of corruption' and we want to pin that on the Republicans as part of the argument for taking back the House and Senate in 2006.  This WAPO list makes it harder for us to do that.

Which brings us to why Patty's name is up there.  We need to know.

UPDATE:  The AP is reporting that Senator Byron Dorgan, Democrat from North Dakota, is returning the money he received from Abramoff's clients directly to them.  Dorgan, is #13 on the list of recipients of Abramoff money according to the WAPO list:

The top Democrat on the Senate committee investigating Jack Abramoff's Indian lobbying is returning $67,000 in donations in response to Associated Press reports that he collected tribal money around the time he took actions favorable to those Abramoff clients.

While Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., never met Abramoff and didn't take any actions at the lobbyist's behest, he nonetheless wants to return the money to avoid any appearances that tribal money was directed to him by the controversial lobbyist, his office said Tuesday.

That's the ticket.  Not even the appearance of impropriety.  Senator Murray?

 

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 12, 2005 at 09:10 AM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 08, 2005

Paul Berendt Retires at Top of Game

Berendt has great timing.  He’s been of tremendous help rebuilding the Democratic Party in this state – from the terrible blows of the 1994 election through the difficult court case following last year’s gubernatorial race. 

But the top down, “you’re either with me or against me” skills of this last era are the wrong ones for what is coming now.  Now we need a Party Chairman/Chairwoman who can rally the base for the grassroots and technologically savvy campaign we desperately need to stay blue and extend that blueness into the red and purple areas.

Paul was one of the first Democrats in this state to support Howard Dean, first as President then as DNC Chair. He sees and understands the future but he hasn't seemed to want to change the way he plays the game.  So, even though he's been a Dean supporter, the state Party has not been in alignment with the changes the national Party is working through.    

So, my hat is off to Paul.  He is going out as he said, “at the top of my game” and it is up to us to build on the considerable legacy he has left us and to bring the state Party into alignment with the actual way that the DNC is working these days. It's a tremendous challenge. Now let's find the team that can do the job. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 8, 2005 at 09:14 AM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (18) | TrackBack

"Republicans in Disarray" – The New Meme?

Chris Bowers over at mydd.com has an interesting post about the way the media is starting to pile on about the disarray in the Republican Party.  He thinks it is likely to be the story about the Republicans in 2006.

He talks about the race in the 48th in California, a solidly Republican Orange County district that the Democrats fought hard to win but didn’t have much of a chance in.   It was a three-way special election, held Tuesday to replace Christopher Cox, Republican, who was selected by Bush to be SEC Chairman. 

In the election, John Campbell, the Republican Party candidate, received 45%; Steve Young, the Democratic candidate, had 28% and Jim Gilchrist, one of the founders of the Minutemen and a former Republican who ran as an Independent on a strong anti-immigrant platform received 25%.

What does this mean for the Republicans in 2006 races?  Bowers quotes from a Bloomberg article:

Republican House candidates around the country in 2006 will likely face challengers such as Gilchrist focused on immigration, said Amy Walter, House editor of the Washington-based Cook Political Report, which analyzes congressional races. Anti-immigration candidates have already shown interest in races in Idaho, Utah and Arizona.

``It may be that we see candidates pop up in a number of Republican primaries, especially where there are open seats,'' she said.

Challengers such as Gilchrist hope to use the races to force Republican front-runners to move closer to their immigration positions and make it harder for Republicans in Congress to back immigration legislation that includes a temporary-worker program.

Set aside for a moment the feelings you might have about living in a country where 25% of folks in a Congressional District in southern California think that we ought to have vigilantes patrolling our borders.  Yeech!  (When Jean-Marie Le Pen, the ultranationalist leader of the French National Front party got between 15 and 20 percent of the vote, the national papers were up in arms.  The liberal candidate, Jospin, threw his support behind the traditionally conservative candidate, Chirac, who went on to win.) 

But Chris analyzes this from a political point of view . . .

Chris is looking at the spin the press is putting on it.  He thinks he is hearing an undertone of “Republicans in disarray.” But what he really likes is that the media is treating it as yet another sign that the Republicans have lost their famous discipline and may be moving into a time when they are the ones impossible to herd. 

Even better, the press is starting to shake off their fear, their shock, their caution, whatever, and report what is happening. 

It’s glorious to have the media paying attention.  It’s like – “Nice to have you aboard the reality train with us.  We’ve missed you but we’ve been holding the fort.  Now, you’ve got some great resources at your disposal and nice -sized audiences.  You can make an importance difference in helping the nation climb aboard as well.”

So here’s what I want the press to do more of:  Drill down on that “Republicans in Disarray” thing.  Then get under it.  I want the media to show the ramifications of what we are starting to see in the press with the corruption and ham-handed tactics of the Republicans.  I want them to talk about the way Republicans tuck money into bills for one after another of their corporate constituents, how they eliminate taxes of all kinds for corporations and wealthy individuals, how they support foreign nations that have resources we want or who are willing to support us in our foolish war, and I want them to talk about how Republicans are cutting money to support the least-well off of our citizens. 

I want people to really see what the Republicans have been doing to this country. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 8, 2005 at 09:02 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 04, 2005

And the next Senate Minority Leader will be...

With last week's resignation of Bill Finkbeiner as Senate Minority Leader, it's time to speculate on who'll succeed him.

Word on the street is that Senator Jim Honeyford (15th LD), who The Fink's second in command, and widely expected to be next in line, is not going put his name forward. Senator Mike Hewitt (16th LD), the current Republican Whip (3rd in the chain of leadership), supposedly has the votes sewn up.

We'll find out this week when the Republican caucus meets.

Posted by Jon Stahl on December 4, 2005 at 09:19 PM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

It's Possible, Even Likely . . .

. . . that the 2004 national election was rigged through the use of electronic voting machines.  Andrew has the goods over at NPI from the oddly underreported GAO investigation.  I have friends who have been saying this since the election.   I, like most Americans, simply have not wanted to believe it could be this bad.   Sadly, it may be. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 4, 2005 at 10:07 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 03, 2005

Read It and Weep – Iraq War Consequences

Brian Whitaker, columnist for famed British newspaper, The Guardian, discusses an article in the Forward Forum, a Jewish on-line magazine, on the horrendous consequences of the Iraq War.  It was written by Martin van Creveld, a professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and one of the world's foremost military historians.

Van Creveld says of our current situation, “The question is no longer if American forces will be withdrawn, but how soon — and at what cost. In this respect, as in so many others, the obvious parallel to Iraq is Vietnam.”  As the U.S. prepares to leave, he says the situation is far worse for us and the region now than then.  In Vietnam, at least there was a government in North Vietnam to negotiate a truce with.  His description of the likely scenario during and after withdrawal in Iraq:

A withdrawal probably will require several months and incur a sizable number of casualties. As the pullout proceeds, Iraq almost certainly will sink into an all-out civil war from which it will take the country a long time to emerge — if, indeed, it can do so at all. All this is inevitable and will take place whether George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice like it or not.

Van Creweld, btw, is the only non-American author on the U.S. Army's required reading list for officers.  Here is what he thinks is likely to occur in the region following the initial withdrawals:

Having been thoroughly devastated by two wars with the United States and a decade of economic sanctions, decades will pass before Iraq can endanger its neighbors again. Yet a complete American withdrawal is not an option; the region, with its vast oil reserves, is simply too important for that. A continued military presence, made up of air, sea and a moderate number of ground forces, will be needed.

First and foremost, such a presence will be needed to counter Iran, which for two decades now has seen the United States as "the Great Satan." Tehran is certain to emerge as the biggest winner from the war — a winner that in the not too distant future is likely to add nuclear warheads to the missiles it already has. In the past, Tehran has often threatened the Gulf States. Now that Iraq is gone, it is hard to see how anybody except the United States can keep the Gulf States, and their oil, out of the mullahs' clutches.

A continued American military presence will be needed also, because a divided, chaotic, government-less Iraq is very likely to become a hornets' nest. From it, a hundred mini-Zarqawis will spread all over the Middle East, conducting acts of sabotage and seeking to overthrow governments in Allah's name.

As for Bush, van Creweld calls for impeachment and trial:

For misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C sent his legions into Germany and lost them, Bush deserves to be impeached and, once he has been removed from office, put on trial along with the rest of the president's men. If convicted, they'll have plenty of time to mull over their sins.

Whitaker’s take on our situation now:

The inescapable fact is that the processes Mr Bush unleashed on March 20 2003 (and imagined he had ended with his "mission accomplished" speech six weeks later) will take a decade or more to run their course and there is little that anyone, even the US, can do now to halt them.

In his eagerness for regime change in Iraq, Mr Bush blundered into a trap from which in the short term there is no way out: the Americans will be damned if they stay and damned if they leave.

Both pieces are well worth the read. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 3, 2005 at 10:44 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bye-bye Berendt?

Josh Feit at The Stranger is tracking a rumor that Washington State Democratic Party Chair Paul Berendt may be departing soon, possibly to be replaced by Dwight Pelz.

Berendt, who's been Dem chair for 11 years, said the rumors that he may be leaving "are not without substance." But he added that "nothing is imminent" and he "does not have any new job offer." He said "some people have talked to me [about different jobs], and I'm keeping an open mind."

However, Berendt repeated that "nothing is imminent, and the rumors [that he's leaving] are premature."

Interesting.

(hat tip to Belltowner)

Posted by Jon Stahl on December 3, 2005 at 09:03 PM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

December 02, 2005

Interesting Democratic Proposal on Abortion

Our Democratic leaders are working on some very interesting policy proprosals that they can put forth to the public in early 2006.  A few weeks ago, I wrote about a new tax proposal that Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, developed. Today, we hear about an abortion reduction initiative called the "95-10" proposal that would develop policies to reduce U.S. abortions by 95% over 10 years by preventing "unwanted pregnancies" and, the best part, by providing "social support" for pregnant women.  According to an article in the Washington Times (ya, ya, I know, they are generally lock-step right-wing supporters but occasionally . . .),

Supporters hope to soften their party's abortion-on-demand image and attract evangelical Christian and pro-life Catholic voters who have been voting Republican in recent years.

Rep. Tim Ryan, a pro-life Democrat from Ohio and the chief sponsor of the bill, says, "I would worry if I were the Republican leadership, because we are going to provide the true, long-term solution to reducing the number of abortions".

Former Indiana Congressman Tim Roemer, also pro-life, is supportive.  Here's what he says:

"This bill will put front and center the fact that there are too many abortions in the United States and what can we do through health care tax credits, adoption, contraception, abstinence, appropriate education of teenagers on how to reduce unwanted pregnancies."

Roemer is currently president of the Center for National Policy and a distinguished scholar at George Mason University's Mercatus Center.  There are also pro-choice Democrats who support this initiative.  And because there are so many more pro-choice folks in our party, they will have to climb aboard if this is going to go anywhere.  More from the article:

How one views this proposal depends entirely on one's willingness to compromise on abortion rights. Pro-choice liberals will find a lot to like — the 95-10 plan expands women's health care programs, emphasizes contraception equity in health care plans, and makes adoption tax credits permanent. Better yet, it would demand full funding for the federal WIC program.

Then, there's the flip side. The "95-10" initiative also bans late-term abortions and requires parental-notification laws. That might be a little more problematic.

This might be a much-needed advance in a discussion that has been pretty well stuck for a long time.  Let the dialogue begin.

Hat tip to The Carpetbagger Report.

UPDATE:  Following a reference in a comment, I tracked down the organization, Democrats for Life, that sponsored the bill.  You can see the proposal for yourself at their website.  

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 2, 2005 at 06:19 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

December 01, 2005

Gregoire’s Poll Numbers Rising

The Survey USA monthly governor’s poll came out a couple days ago and Governor Chris Gregoire is polling at 44% approve/49% disapprove with 7% undecided.  Although it's obviously not great, it's up from the first SUSA Governor’s poll in June of this year when she was at 34% approve/58% disapprove with 8% undecided.  Ten point rise in 5 months; that’s the good part.  She’s still recovering from a horrendous deficit brought on by the Republican Noise Machine during the prolonged post-election recounts and court case. 

Chris Gregoire has done a bang-up job as governor but doesn’t focus on herself and her achievements so we don’t hear about it enough.  She works on understanding what needs to be done and then does it.  For her, it’s all about getting the right people together to do what is right for the people of this state. 

It is fitting that she gave the Democratic response to George Bush's radio address last weekend.  She is absolutely the opposite of him.  She is modest to a fault; she doesn’t brag about what she’s done or tear down other folks.  She is a strong negotiator and able to collaborate with many others and move them toward a common agenda.  As Attorney General, she negotiated the Tobacco Settlement, an astounding achievement if ever we saw one.  She also negotiated an agreement with the federal government over clean-up at the Hanford site that is likely to be so air-tight as to withstand Bush Administration attempts to demolish it. 

Gregoire is gracious to those who have opposed her in the past, both Republicans and Democrats.  If you didn’t see the tears in Ron Sims eyes on election night, Nov. 8, 2005, after she introduced him, you missed something.  And think about all those Republicans last year who wound up working with her on the Transportation bill at the end of the session – after they had taken some kind of Junior High-like vow not to work with the governor at the beginning of the session.  They came to understand they had a real governor in the Statehouse.

During the session she worked with the legislators in a hands-on, collaborative manner they hadn’t seen for years.  She put her considerable negotiating skills to work and was instrumental in getting several key pieces of legislature through.  The transportation infrastructure bill certainly – which she had to work on twice, once with a bipartisan group of legislators and businesses to get it passed, and again behind the scenes to defeat Initiative 912. 

She was quite helpful on the environmental bills that passed during the last session – the important clean car bill, the bill to restore Hood Canal and the landmark high-performance green building bill, for which she has received national attention. 

Public Works magazine's November cover story recognized Gregoire as one of "the most influential, high impact leaders in the public works community” for her work getting the high-performance green building bill passed in this state.

Working with Democratic legislators and a few courageous Republican moderates, she passed the best budget for K-12 education that this state has seen in more than a decade, including a targeted and permanent funding source for I-728 to reduce class size, and reinstatement of I-732 to increase pay for teachers.  They also reinstated coverage for 23,000 children stranded without health care in the previous Republican/Rossi – led Legislature and extended coverage to 17,000 more children.

Again, working with legislative allies, she fought for and created the Life Sciences Discovery Fund, using the $350 million bonus from the federal tobacco settlement that accrued to Washington State because she was the chief negotiator.  Those funds will support cutting-edge research and technology and create many new jobs. 

She led a bipartisan group of state legislators and business-folk to Japan and China earlier this fall, focused on building relationships and creating jobs.  She just doesn’t stop.  And boy, are we lucky.   

As we look forward to the next legislative session starting in January, it’s useful to remember how much was accomplished during this first year of the Gregoire administration.  We are blessed to live in a state that is moving forward because we have a Democratic-controlled legislature, albeit just barely, and a Democratic governor.  Whatever we can do to assist them and give them more recognition, we should do. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 1, 2005 at 11:38 AM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack