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July 31, 2006

Great Interview with Darcy

Great interview with Darcy Burner by Jason Black at LiveJournal. He's got both an audio-clip and a transcript up. Really good.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 31, 2006 at 11:07 AM in Candidate Races, Interviews | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Importance of Lieberman vs. Lamont

The battle lines are starkly drawn in this key primary race for the Senate in Connecticut.   Everyone who pays attention to politics understands that the outcome is critical to the future of the Democratic Party and therefore to the country.  This is a battle between the establishment and the progressive movement.   Chris Bowers of MyDD says:

Within the Democratic Party, the stakes could hardly be higher, as this campaign has become a symbol of what the progressive movement can (or can't) accomplish. This is why the establishment has now thrown everything it has behind the Lieberman campaign, whether it is the political establishment (almost every major Democrat both in and out of office has endorsed Lamont, plus every major progressive advocacy organization), the media establishment (the Lamont endorsement from the New York Times was a breakthrough, but the national punditry has lined up behind Lieberman, even in the pages of the New York Times) or the corporate establishment. Now, in the closing days of the campaign, Joe Lieberman's establishment backers are in a frenzy:

<snip>

Lieberman's campaign is now raising over $100K every day from the same people who funded Democratic campaigns from the late-1980's all the way until the netroots small donor revolution: "members of Congress, Fortune 500 executives and well-connected Washington big shots." These are the same people ineffective people who kept losing and losing to Republicans and thus from whom the progressive movement was thus started to take over the party.

A diarist at DailyKos, DemFromCT, adds:

And for those who do not understand the significance of a Lamont challenge, the point is that win or lose, the issue of the Iraq War and its descent into chaos, and the enablers in DC who refuse to deal with its reality, become front and center in a political campaign. That's where it has always belonged. Lieberman's eroding base is the war's eroding base. Finally, we may get to have the debate on the war we never had... and it's not going to be pretty for the people that took us there.

Here's the core of what the NYT said when they endorsed Lamont:

If Mr. Lieberman had once stood up and taken the lead in saying that there were some places a president had no right to take his country even during a time of war, neither he nor this page would be where we are today. But by suggesting that there is no principled space for that kind of opposition, he has forfeited his role as a conscience of his party, and has forfeited our support.

I got to have lunch with David Sirota, along with a few other local bloggers, last week when he was in town.  (See shoephone's thoughts on Sirota's talk at Town Hall).  We talked as much about the establishment Democrats who represent us in this state as we did about the corrupt Republicans.  Sirota says he thinks that we probably want to spend about 1/4 of our time trying to influence and eventually replace the Democrats who are too close to the corporations themselves and/or too far removed from the needs and desires of the people they serve.  They are a part of the problem; it's just that it tends to be secondary to the larger problem of the abject corruption and greed of the Republicans. 

I increasingly find myself talking about "transformative" candidates, those progressive Democrats who will truly represent the people they serve over the interests of the big donors.  Those are the candidates, like Lamont, who raise money from small donors (and, to be fair in his case, from himself), and who in turn seem unlikely to fall under the sway of the entitlement bug that seems to grip most elected politicians of either persuasion as they enter the hallowed halls.  In this state, Darcy fits that definition.  I think that one of our primary jobs will be to identify and support the transformative Democrats over and above anything else.  The future of our country depends on it.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 31, 2006 at 10:08 AM in Candidate Races, Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 30, 2006

Has Israel Already Lost?

Although the fighting continues, it increasingly looks like Israel is losing its first war.  Meteor Blades, writing at both the Next Hurrah and Dailykos, contends that it is looking more and more like Lebanon is Israel's Iraq.  This morning brings the sickening news that another 45-50 Lebanese civilians have been killed in the latest Israeli bombings and that the Lebanese government doesn't want Rice to show her face in Lebanon until there is a ceasefire.  I'm not going to attempt to summarize this lengthy and important post but here is a nugget from it:

Has Israel lost its first war? Over the past three weeks, it has shattered Lebanon's almost miraculous economic recovery and its democratic "Cedar Revolution." Its most vociferous external enemy, Hezbollah, whose communiqués always refer to it as "Israel," is now strengthened both in the eyes of once skeptical Sunnis and in the labyrinthine Lebanese political system. Its internal enemies may likewise have been strengthened, although that remains to be seem. What victories have been won?

Some of us warned that Israel's blistering "incursion" into Lebanon was unnecessary, wrong-headed, inhumane, counterproductive and harmful to Israelis' long-term interests, collecting a few epithets for our trouble. To punctuate that warning, there are now 700+ dead civilians, guerrillas and uniformed soldiers on both sides, thousands maimed, and an infrastructure in ruins.  Intense fighting still goes on, with women, children and other civilians still catching the brunt of it. The ceasefire that was arrogantly rejected by Israel and blocked by Washington just days ago seemed back on the table late Friday, with Condoleeza Rice practicing her piano tunes again.

Meteor Blades has done the heavy lifting of researching and writing about what Frank Rich, James Bamford, Kaveh Afrasiabi and Billmon have already written about this.  Take a read.


Posted by Lynn Allen on July 30, 2006 at 08:40 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Shorter Sirota: Think Nationally, Act Locally

David Sirota, renaissance man of progressive politics, spoke to a rapt crowd at Seattle’s Town Hall Thursday evening. The event was part of a tour to promote his latest book, Hostile Takeover: How Big Money & Corruption Conquered Our Government – And How We Take It Back. As the former press secretary for independent Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders, Sirota witnessed firsthand how the economic realities of D.C. politicking can infect the system so completely as to make good government and true public service rare commodities.

The predominant message of the book is that - despite the efforts of representatives like Sanders, who focus their policy objectives on what’s beneficial for the working people of America – the system has been rigged by special interest money filling the pockets of both Republicans and Democrats alike. Everything that happens in D.C. hinges on who has money, who doesn’t, and who is really served by legislation passing in Congress. Sirota makes the case that the worst forms of corruption are the legal ones, where campaign finance laws - and the Supreme Court - heavily favor special interests by  bolstering the theory that money = free speech.

While the media focuses on hot-button topics like gays, guns, and God, the corporate lobbyists concentrate on manipulating economic and military issues, because that’s where the impacts of legislation reign supreme. Lobbyists revel in the distraction that’s created by emotional, social issues as they quietly go about greasing the wheels of government. More importantly, it means the big money gets to frame the debates on legislation, and they succeed most when they frame the debates very narrowly. Sirota refers to this as the “artificial narrative”. Look at the recent energy bill. Congresspeople didn’t spend days and nights immersed in heated debate over whether wind, solar, hydrogen or biofuels offered the best hope for a fossil-free future. Instead they locked horns over which energy companies would receive the biggest tax breaks, and whether or not we should drill at ANWR.

This summary of David Sirota's Thursday evening talk in Seattle comes to us courtesy of "shoephone" a friend who attended and wrote about this on a new sub-blog (is that a new term?) at Firedoglake and agreed to cross-post the summary here.  Sirota has been described as being the conscience of the progressive blogosphere.  I think this summary illustrates that role nicely. Thanks to shoephone for covering this.

There's more after the fold.

The “artificial narrative” is also at work with respect to tort reform and bankruptcy law:

  • OSHA repesentatives plead with Congress to increase its budget to help protect workers from death or injury. Big business gets the president to set the tone by mischaracterizing the citizens' right to sue as "frivolous lawsuits" and workers protections as "too many regulations" on business. Result: the agency's funding is drastically reduced.
  • Senators like Evan Bayh do the banking industry's bidding by declaring that those spiraling into bankruptcy are irresponsible debtors forcing high interest rates for the rest of us. (Bayh has collected roughly $300,000 from the banking and credit card industries). Result: Bankruptcy protections for citizens are slashed, but are greatly enhanced for businesses.

So, how do we avoid getting paralyzed with despondency over the situation? We get involved, and stay involved – primarily at the local level - challenging those we elected to pass legislation that respects our values and our interests. This is a long-term fight, but Sirota notes that it took nearly 35 years for the current system to embed itself into our politics and become the routine. We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that today’s city councilmembers and state legislators are going to be tomorrow’s U.S. senators. If we get to them now, says Sirota, and put them on notice that they can’t get away with the politics-as-usual, we can effect a change that includes public financing for all elections.

Sirota’s Progressive States Network focuses like a laser on replicating good municipal and state legislation around the country, creating a nation-wide system of good government. Forget “trickle down” strategies. For Sirota and his network, America’s political playing field is going to be leveled by the American grassroots.

You can read more about David Sirota and his writing here.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 30, 2006 at 08:20 AM in National and International Politics, Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 29, 2006

Yes, Ted. Please Go For It.

Ted Stevens, I double dog dare you to sit in Jon Stewart's chair.  So does Carl.

Darryl reports:

Our favorite grizzled old coot-of-a-Senator from Alaska, Ted Stevens, apparently wasn’t happy about Jon Stewart’s characterization of his characterization of the internet.

Now he has offered to go on The Daily Show to defend his honor.

“I have a letter from a big scientist who said I was absolutely right in using the word ‘tubes,’” he told reporters. However, Stevens said he had not been invited to appear on the show to respond.

When pressed whether he was willing to go on the show, Stevens slowly grinned and said: “I’d consider it.”

Posted by Jon Stahl on July 29, 2006 at 02:19 PM in Media | Permalink | Comments (2)

Arab-American Response to Seattle Shooting

The American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee of the Arab American Community Coalition has issued a response to yesterday's awful shooting at the Jewish Federation in downtown Seattle.  Howie has the entire message.  Here's a piece of it:

The Arab American Community Coalition and the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Seattle denounces the apparent crime that took place earlier today at the Jewish Federation building in Seattle. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. We urge our law enforcement agencies to take immediate action against the perpetrator or perpetrators, and take all necessary actions to prevent such crimes from happening against Jews, Arabs and Muslims in the future

Violence against anyone because of ethnicity or religion does not advance the cause of peace, justice and liberation in Lebanon, Palestine or Israel. Attacks on civilians must stop in Gaza, Beirut, Haifa, and certainly in downtown Seattle.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 29, 2006 at 08:00 AM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 28, 2006

Responding to the State Supreme Court Ruling

Equal Rights Washington wasted no time in laying out the proper response to this week's muddled ruling that upheld the state's law banning marriage equality.  An email from them, that Carl wrote about at Washington Political Report, reminded us that the court was clear that the legislature has the power to pass a law that would grant full marriage rights for gay and lesbians.  If there is any chance this will happen, they will have to know that we want it.  Please let your legislators and Governor know that you support gay and lesbian families and want to be part of this vital and timely discussion.  This is a place we can have an impact. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 28, 2006 at 08:54 AM in Taking Action | Permalink | Comments (0)

Corporate Sponsors for McGavick

The State Democratic Party has posted a list of McGavick's corporate sponsors.  The list comes straight from McGavick's recently-released FEC report:

  • Insurance Industry: In addition to McGavick’s illegal $28 million golden parachute from his time as an insurance CEO, members of the insurance industry have shelled out more than $275,000—almost $65,000 in new FEC disclosures alone—directly to bankroll McGavick’s campaign. McGavick previously served as a lobbyist for the American Insurance Association, and his contributions from the insurance industry top all other special interest funders of his campaign.
  • Big Oil: McGavick, a big supporter of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, raked in another $8500 from the PACs of big oil – including another $4000 from ExxonMobil’s PAC ($5000 total to date), $2000 from BP’s PAC and $2500 from Conoco Phillips’s PAC.
  • Halliburton: McGavick accepted $1000 from Halliburton’s PAC, even as the company remains mired in scandal relating to abuse surrounding no-bid contracts Iraq and ties to VP Dick Cheney’s secret energy task force.
  • Social Security Privatizers: McGavick raked in another $4000 from the Financial Services Roundtable PAC, for a total of $5000 to date. The Roundtable is a group of approximately 100 CEOs of the largest financial services companies in the nation, who are at the forefront of the push for Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security. The Roundtable has already hosted two separate fundraisers for McGavick.
  • Rx Money: Even as McGavick fails to support drug re-importation from Canada, he accepted $2000 from Pfizer’s PAC, and another $10,000 from the PAC of Express-Scripts, one of the largest prescription benefit managers (PBM) in the country. [FreedomWorks press release, 12/15/04 (via PR Newswire)]
  • Ted Stevens: McGavick took a $2000 personal check from his good friend Ted Stevens – who appears to be making good on his pledge to seek revenge against Maria Cantwell for standing up and successfully blocking oil drilling in Alaska. FEC records show that Senator Stevens doesn’t donate much personally to other candidates, and has never written a check of this size to someone challenging a colleague.

It's hard not to compare such sponsorship to that of top sports figures who speak for their car or beer sponsors in return for the funds that pay their expenses for competing.  This list tells us pretty much who will get McGavick's attention if he becomes our Senator and who will help him write the bills that he will introduce in Congress.   It used to be that corporations supported former Congressional staff who had proved loyal or lobbyists they knew well for public office.  With McGavick, former CEO of Safeco, they are now eliminating the middleman.  They are going straight for office themselves. 

Let's not allow that.

Hat tip to Andrew at the NPI Blog.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 28, 2006 at 08:46 AM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (2)

July 27, 2006

Reichert Considered an at-risk Republican: Gets Help in Moving Legislation

Republican House Majority Leader John Boehner meets weekly with the staffers of 12 vulnerable Republicans to strategize how to use the legislative process to assist these candidates, one of whom is Dave Reichert.  The Hill News says:

The weekly gatherings are an opportunity for the leader’s staff to walk the rank-and-file staffers through the upcoming agenda and hear from the offices about the political climate in some of the party’s most competitive districts. The member input provides insights and intelligence from campaigns across the country that leaders can use to influence their legislative agenda and strategy during a bitter election year.

The article then quotes Kevin Madden, Boehner spokesman:

“We make every effort to work with key staff in these offices to sync up our legislative and communications offices so they have the very best access and the very best information about what issues the conference is working on and how we can help them message with constituents back home,” Madden said of the outreach effort with Republican incumbents in difficult districts.

Any surprise that fake-moderate Reichert's votes in the last couple months have been more in line with the views of his truly moderate district, as with his latest vote on stem cell research?  Or that he finally roused himself to act on the Homeland Security Interoperable Communications bill that the Republicans have been sitting on for years and that Reichert has been sitting on since he was appointed Chairman of a subcommittee dealing with Homeland Security last year?

UPDATE:  I found that article yesterday although it was written several weeks ago.  Then I note that Goldy has a post pointing to a later, related Hill article, entitled "Legislating for November".  Patrick O'Connor, author of both articles, says: 

The House GOP leadership is helping Republican lawmakers who have tough reelection battles by letting them take the lead on more legislation.

Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) was quick to congratulate freshman Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) yesterday after the House approved his bill to improve communications between emergency first responders.

“Representative Reichert should be commended for his work to ensure our first responders have the tools they need to continue to keep our nation safe,” Boehner said in a statement released by his office right after the House passed the freshman Republican’s bill, 414-2.

Several other Republican legislators who are also in tight races introduced legislation the same day.  There are very few weeks left between now and the election when Congress will be in session so they have to act now to help these guys.  Yet another reason to get the reins of government out of their hands come November.  This is not my idea of democracy. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 27, 2006 at 10:18 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (1)

County Council Transportation Committee Approves Sims' Bus Expansion Plan

Good news for those of us who want more and better transportation choices:

King County Executive Ron Sims' 10-year, $598-million Metro bus expansion plan got a thumbs-up Wednesday from the County Council's Transportation Committee, which recommended placing the measure on the November ballot.

The proposal won't go on the ballot until the full council debates the measure. That discussion is expected in late August, said Jon Scholes, aide to Committee Chairwoman Julia Patterson.

You'd think that something as obvious and non-ideological as providing more bus service to keep pace with population growth and give folks an alternative to ever-growing traffic jams might just maybe be a non-partisan issue.

Wednesday's action came on a split partisan vote, with Democrats Patterson, Bob Ferguson and Larry Gossett favoring the recommendation and Republican committee members Reagan Dunn and Jane Hague voting against it.

But no.


Posted by Jon Stahl on July 27, 2006 at 09:24 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (6)

David Sirota at Town Hall Tonight

Speaking at Town Hall this evening is writer and new media consultant, David Sirota.  He will be speaking about his new bestselling book, "Hostile Takeover: How Big Money & Corruption Conquered Our Government–and How We Take It Back".  Sirota formerly worked with Congressman Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana.  He was also instrumental in the development of PLAN (Progressive Legislative Action Network), now the Progressive States Network.  Here is a paragraph from Wikipedia that discusses what else he does:

Since May 2005 Sirota has been a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post, in addition to his own blog (which is published in parallel at Working for Change). He is a regular guest on The Al Franken Show. He is senior editor at the progressive newsmagazine In These Times, writes a regular column for the liberal The Nation, and has contributed to The American Prospect. He has also been published in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Baltimore Sun, the San Francisco Chronicle, and has been profiled favorably in Newsweek. He has also appeared as a guest on The Colbert Report, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, PBS Now, CNBC and NPR. Sirota is also the founder and co-chair of the Progressive States Network.

And he was on Goldy's show on KIRO Sunday evening.  Goldy says he wishes he's had more time with him.  The guy's good. 

His talk is at 7:30. (Town Hall is at 8th & Seneca).  Cost $5 at the door.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 27, 2006 at 11:37 AM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 26, 2006

The Democratic Wave is Building

Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institute is of the opinion that this is indeed a Democratic Wave year.  In an article out of the Institute, that was also published in the WAPO, he says,

If history is any guide, we're heading into a major political storm. And that means we could see a national tide in November that will sweep the Democrats back into the majority.

Virtually every public opinion measure points to a Category 4 or 5 hurricane gathering. Bush's job-approval rating is below 40 percent, and congressional job approval is more than 10 percentage points lower. Only a quarter of the electorate thinks the country is moving in the right direction, and voters are unhappy with the economy under Bush. Finally, Democrats hold a double-digit lead as the party the public trusts to do a better job of tackling the nation's problems and the party it would like to see controlling Congress.

My sister in Portland called earlier today and asked if there was any good news.  Thought I'd pop something up that is hopeful in addition to the Idaho news below.  After all the international news, it's a welcome possibility to think about and work for.

Here's the money paragraph from the article:

But my own reading is that the odds favor a Democratic takeover of the House. The 15 seats that the party needs for a bare majority is well below the range of minority-party gains in past tidal-wave elections. The national winds blowing against the GOP are strong and have not diminished over the past nine months. Credible progress on the ground in Iraq before November is implausible. The public's harsh evaluation of the president's performance on the economy is unlikely to be reversed by Election Day. Prospects for significant legislative achievements in the remaining months of this Congress are remote. Enough seats will be in play (including some that Republicans carried in 2004 with more than 60 percent of the vote) to allow Democrats to gain majority status in the House.

Mann doesn't think we can win back the Senate this year.  If Mann is correct on that, we can sure come closer - to the point where Bush can't just nominate another right-wing Supreme Court justice and not expect a huge fight.  Can you just see Jon Tester or Ned Lamont on the Judiciary committee?

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 26, 2006 at 09:36 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

Doonesbury Nails Bush

Trudeau hits it on the head.  This entire business of Presidenting is just awfully difficult to figure out.  Take a look.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 26, 2006 at 08:49 AM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

Justice for Washington Riders Rally in Olympia

Good ideas for better laws come out of citizen activists all over the issue spectrum.  It's amazing what happens when normal folks begin to think that they can influence laws and begin to trust that the legislators might listen to them.  Jimmy McCabe has a well-written article at McCranium discussing the needs of motorcylists and a rally and ride that state motorcyclists will be holding in August to promote awareness of the issues.  He says:

As gas prices continue to soar, we will all see more and more motorcycles on the road.  I have never been a big fan of legislating our way out of public safety problems.  But in this case I think Washington State could take some proactive steps.  First, lets get the cell phones off the road.  In my daily observations, they don’t belong there.  Second, increase driver training to include more information on motorcycle awareness and include a safety module in the road test.  Lastly, like the anti-profiling legislation, the legislature direct law enforcement to actively pursue investigations of wrong doing by motorists who injure or kill motorcyclists without bias.

Let’s face it.  Accidents are going to happen.  But Washington State is not doing enough and right now, we have the best group of legislators to get something done.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 26, 2006 at 08:45 AM in Taking Action | Permalink | Comments (0)

Idaho GOP Candidate in Trouble?

Our neighbors in Idaho just might have a competitive House race on their hands.  According to Jonathan Singer at MyDD, the Republicans are worried about losing ID-01, the open seat being contested by Republican Bill Sali and Democrat Larry Grant.  Apparently the House Republicans have a new fundraising program called "Retain Our Majority Program" designed to protect their most endangered seats, one of which is this seat in Idaho. 

This is a perfect example of the value of running good candidates, and Grant is a great Democratic candidate, everywhere.  Grant's first piece of luck was the Republican candidate who came out of the Republican primary in May.  Bill Sali is one of the true right-wing nut-cases (think Helen Chenoweth) that Idaho throws up now and again. He got only 26% of the Republican vote but that was enough to go on to the general.  Sali is so bad that many Republicans in Idaho are likely to either vote for Grant or pass o voting altogether.  One of his key issues is pushing a ficticious link between having an abortion and contracting breast cancer.

The second piece of luck is running in a year when Howard Dean is Chair of the DNC.  Dean put new, additional staff into Idaho quite early in his strategy, tripling the staff there early on.   Grant also knew to hire Julie to help with Internet communications. 

Just the other day, Julie sent along an article from the subscription-only "Roll Call" entitled "Rocky Mountain Highs: Mountain West Democrats Love Dean's Cash Infusion".  Here's a couple paragraphs from the article:

Money from the DNC "has made a world of difference," said former Rep. Richard Stallings, now the state Democratic Party chairman in Idaho. "It has essentially tripled my staff, from two to six. For years, we were unable to respond to every stupid thing the other side said about us. Now, I've got a full-time press person, a very good former reporter, plus two community organizers, one for the north and one for the south, and a fundraiser. It couldn't have come at a more opportune time."

"In some cases", said Corey Taule of the Idaho Falls Post-Register, "local Democratic Web sites are now much better than those of their GOP counterparts".

"The Dean money has inspired people to work harder, because they know the party has the assets to back us up," added John McGimpsey, who's running for the Legislature from an Idaho Falls-area district. "Having two field coordinators is incredibly helpful in getting candidates information and teaching us how to use the databases and the other
infrastructure."

Looking exciting. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 26, 2006 at 08:28 AM in Candidate Races, Strategery | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 25, 2006

Biofuels Northwest Tutorial

Last evening, over at Washblog, we had an online "conversation" about biofuels in the Northwest.  It was quite an eye-opener for me.  I simply didn't know a lot about the topic although I'm becoming aware of how important it is to our future in this country and in this state as the fossil fuel age comes, possibly abuptly, to an end.  Noemie Maxwell, who is coordinating a big project for the Institute for Washington's Future called "Back to the Roots" is hosting these online conversations and doing a great job of getting participation from people who know what they are talking about. 

Last night's conversation keyed off an essay that Greg Rock, co-owner of The Green Car Company and founder of Sustainability Watch, wrote entitled "Biofuels in the Northwest".  The conversation went on from there. 

If, like me, this is pretty new stuff for you, the record of the conversation is a tutorial in itself, particularly if you add in the run-up post that Noemie wrote earlier yesterday.  She describes the importance of paying attention to this issue, starting with a quote from a great new website called Harvesting Green Energy, put together by Peter Moulton of Climate Solutions,.

Today's starch-based ethanol industry (N.M.: corn, etc.) is a transition phase to a much larger industry based on cellulose, the stuff of which most of the plant world is made. The future industry will be fed by cellulosic materials including agricultural, forest and mill residue, urban wood and yard waste and fast-growing energy crops.

Noemie then adds more about why understanding these issues is so important.

There are many questions we must answer to get this right.   The investments and policy decisions that are creating our new energy industries -- both for electrical power and fuel -- are being made very fast.   What we do now will determine our state's - and our country's - direction for many years to come. 
At the core, what I am arguing here is that food and energy - the gifts from the sun that run our bodies and machines - also run our economy and our lives.  Everything we care about is connected to how we produce and distribute this stored energy.   Environmental health, economic justice and security, national security, community livability, wilderness protection, peace.

The "Back to the Roots" project is aiming, in Noemie's words:

to help focus civic attention on the question: how do we strengthen our commons?  Building more democratic food and energy industries -- which allow more opportunities and profits for local families and communities-- is an important element of this answer.

I have taken to calling this the democratization of our economy.  For our community, our security and our economic well-being, we need for local businesses to have control over our food and energy production.  The first major event for the year-long project will be an upcoming talk by Jim Hightower at TownHall on September 14th.  You can get your tickets at Brown Paper Tickets now.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 25, 2006 at 11:43 AM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Israel set war plan more than a year ago

Is this possible?  And, if so, was Bush aware of it?  So, where were the efforts to prevent this war? The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that Israel has been working on the invasion of Lebanon for over a year.  Matthew Kalman, foreeign affairs writer for the Chronicle says:

More than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to U.S. and other diplomats, journalists and think tanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail. Under the ground rules of the briefings, the officer could not be identified.

In his talks, the officer described a three-week campaign: The first week concentrated on destroying Hezbollah's heavier long-range missiles, bombing its command-and-control centers, and disrupting transportation and communication arteries. In the second week, the focus shifted to attacks on individual sites of rocket launchers or weapons stores. In the third week, ground forces in large numbers would be introduced, but only in order to knock out targets discovered during reconnaissance missions as the campaign unfolded. There was no plan, according to this scenario, to reoccupy southern Lebanon on a long-term basis.

I have great sympathy for Israel's position in the Middle East and for their concern about Hezbollah.  They were not getting international assistance to deal with the Hezbollah militants and their increasing provocations.  But this was avoidable!

Kalman goes on to say:

Israel didn't need sophisticated intelligence to discover the huge buildup of Iranian weapons supplies to Hezbollah by way of Syria, because Hezbollah's patrons boasted about it openly in the pages of the Arabic press. As recently as June 16, less than four weeks before the Hezbollah border raid that sparked the current crisis, the Syrian defense minister publicly announced the extension of existing agreements allowing the passage of trucks shipping Iranian weapons into Lebanon.

But to destroy them, Israel needed to map the location of each missile.

"We need a lot of patience," said Hanegbi. "The (Israeli Defense Forces) action at the moment is incapable of finding the very last Katyusha, or the last rocket launcher primed for use hidden inside a house in some village."

I can see, under the circumstances, why they feel the need to go into southern Lebanon.  I do have an argument with their decision to go into Lebanon and destroy a country and displace more than half a million people.  This is clearly a disproportionate response.  More than anything, I wonder what the heck the US was doing during this last year.  No diplomatic efforts to try to prevent what is likely to wind up being a horrible situation for Lebanon and Israel and all of us.  Hard to imagine that Bill Clinton would have allowed this to occur.  Or Wes Clark.  I say Wes Clark because he is the person I most want to have around regarding foreign policy issues.  I don't  really care if he is President or Secretary of State under a sane Democrat. 

Which brings us to President Bush.  Juan Cole, who is probably the most knowledgeable writer on the Middle East we have, says,

That this war was pre-planned was obvious to me from the moment it began. The Israeli military proceeded methodically and systematically to destroy Lebanon's infrastructure, and clearly had been casing targets for some time. The vast majority of these targets were unrelated to Hizbullah. But since the northern Sunni port of Tripoli could theoretically be used by Syria or Iran to offload replacement rockets that could be transported by truck down south to Hizbullah, the Israelis hit it. And then they hit some trucks to let truck drivers know to stay home for a while.

That is why I was so shaken by George W. Bush's overheard conversation with Tony Blair about the war. He clearly thought that it broke out because Syria used Hizbullah to create a provocation. The President of the United States did not know that this war was a long-planned Israeli war of choice.

Why is that scarey? Because the Israeli planning had to have been done in conjunction with Donald Rumsfeld at the US Department of Defense. The US Department of Defense is committed to rapidly re-arming Israel and providing it precision laser-guided weaponry, and to giving it time to substantially degrade Hizbullah's missile capabilities. The two are partners in the war effort.

Scary indeed.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 25, 2006 at 11:31 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Time for Dems to Start Winning

Howie has a great post up - an op-ed from Buzzflash on the need to start winning.  Well worth the read.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 25, 2006 at 11:22 AM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 24, 2006

Say hello to a longer commute

So, if we can live without the viaduct for a few years while it's closed for construction why can't we live without it forever and spend some of the money we save on even more mitigation, like expanded transit?

It's too bad the state doesn't really want to consider the alternatives as it "considers alternatives" in the planning process.

You can let them know what you think: awvsdeiscomments@wsdot.wa.gov

Posted by Jon Stahl on July 24, 2006 at 11:50 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 23, 2006

Frank Chopp

Andrew Garber at the Seattle Times offers up an election-cycle portrait of Washington State House Speaker Frank Chopp (D-43).  It's a bit of a puff piece, but it does offer a bit of a glimpse into the important role that Chopp plays in recruiting candidates and raising money for them from fellow Democrats. 

Of course, this is Washington State, not Washington DC, so instead of a smoke-filled room, Chopp does deals in the back room of a Wallingford Tully's.

Worth a read.

Posted by Jon Stahl on July 23, 2006 at 10:01 AM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (0)

McGavick Stalls Out

Goldy has a good analysis of the latest Elway poll numbers on McGavick.  Check it out.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 23, 2006 at 08:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Lt. Watada's Story Hits the NYTimes

The New York Times has a pretty good article up on Lieutenant Watada's decision to refuse deployment from Ft. Lewis to Iraq last month.   I was struck by Lt. Watada's thinking and about how he came to his decision.  He did his homework.  According to the article:

Lieutenant Watada said he began his self-tutorial about the Iraq war with James Bamford’s book “A Pretext for War,” which argues that the war in Iraq was driven by a small group of neoconservative civilians in the Pentagon and their allies in policy institutes. The book suggests that intelligence was twisted to justify the toppling of Saddam Hussein, with the goal of fundamentally changing the Middle East to the benefit of Israel.

Next was “Chain of Command,” by Seymour M. Hersh, about the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. After that, Lieutenant Watada moved on to other publications on war-related themes, including selections on the treatment of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and the so-called Downing Street memo, in which the British chief of intelligence told Prime Minister Tony Blair in July 2002 that the Americans saw war in Iraq as “inevitable” and that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”

Lieutenant Watada said he also talked to soldiers returning to Fort Lewis from Iraq, including a staff sergeant who told him that he and his men had probably committed war crimes.

“When I learned the awful truth that we had been deceived -- I was shocked and disgusted,” he wrote in the letter to his brigade commander.

Lt. Watada tried to work it out with his superiors:

The Army offered him a staff job in Iraq that would have kept him out of combat; but combat was not the point, he said.

Lieutenant Watada said he had volunteered to serve in Afghanistan, which he regarded as an unambiguous war linked to the Sept. 11 attacks. The request was denied.

So where is Watada's allegiance if not to obedience to his superiors' commands?  This is the most refreshing statement in the entire article.  Watada said in a letter to his Colonel that "he owed his allegiance to a “higher power” — the Constitution — based on the values the Army had taught him: “loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.”

No wonder the military is going to court martial him.  He is doing what no one in his line of command up through the President is doing: paying attention to the facts of the situation and basing his decision on what should be the bedrock of all our decisions:  the Constitution.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 23, 2006 at 08:46 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wolcott Puts Words to It

James Wolcott sums up what we are watching unfold in the world today and lays it squarely on the US.  He says

The war crimes of the United States compound by the minute, the hour, the day. I predict that George Bush, upon leaving office, will be the most despised president in American history. He will have his core support, the clotted, stunted brains that collect at sites like Lucianne.com and Powerline, but he will enjoy no Reaganesque orange sunset afterglow (or Nixonian self-rehabilitation), so deep, lasting, and tragic is the damage he's done, a damage abetted by a craven, corrupt political class and a press that even now, as the full dimensions of the disaster unfold before us, is unable to sound alarm, so accustomed as they've become to their role as sponges and clever snots.

He discusses Iraq and sums it up by quoting Robert Dreyfuss at TomPaine.com:

What is unfolding in Iraq is a staggering tragedy. An entire nation is dying, right in front of us. And the worst part of it is: It may be too late to do anything to stop it.

[snip]

The blame for this carnage must be laid squarely at the feet of George W. Bush. The U.S. invasion of Iraq was ordered against the advice of the CIA, the State Department and most U.S. military officers, and in defiance of the United Nations, America’s allies, and the Arab world. The United States attacked and destroyed a nation that had never attacked the United States, which had no weapons of mass destruction and which had no connection to al-Qaida.

Back to Wolcott:

As Dreyfuss observes, the death spiral will continue because the Bush administration is in self-hypnotic denial and, I would add, there is no peace movement or political opposition with any upward force. Compare Iraq with Vietnam, and the sense of resignation and futility is apparent. I will never forgive Joe Lieberman for undercutting John Murtha and muffling the urgency of Murtha's warnings about how rapidly Iraq was unraveling by issuing one of his classic mushmouthed pieties. He immediately gave the White House and the War Party bipartisan cover, helping ensure the policies that weren't working would continue not working as the death-toll tabulator rose and rose.

But it is not enough to blame Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Blair, Lieberman, the neocons, the liberal hawks, and other useless idiots. By our actions in Iraq, and our complicity and collaboration with the Israeli assault on Lebanon, American citizens are culpable for letting 9/11 turn them/us into passive accomplices. "The complicity of the American public in these heinous crimes will damn America for all time in history," Paul Craig Roberts rages at Antiwar.

Then he turns to Israel's incursion Lebanon, which we are learning this weekend has been planned for at least a year (and I'll cover in another post).  He quotes Robert Fisk:

I lived here through 15 years of civil war that took 150,000 lives, and two Israeli invasions and years of Israeli bombardments that cost the lives of a further 20,000 of its people. I have seen them armless, legless, headless, knifed, bombed and splashed across the walls of houses. Yet they are a fine, educated, moral people whose generosity amazes every foreigner, whose gentleness puts any Westerner to shame, and whose suffering we almost always ignore.

They look like us, the people of Beirut. They have light-coloured skin and speak beautiful English and French. They travel the world. Their women are gorgeous and their food exquisite. But what are we saying of their fate today as the Israelis - in some of their cruellest attacks on this city and the surrounding countryside - tear them from their homes, bomb them on river bridges, cut them off from food and water and electricity? We say that they started this latest war, and we compare their appalling casualties - 240 in all of Lebanon by last night - with Israel's 24 dead, as if the figures are the same.

And then, most disgraceful of all, we leave the Lebanese to their fate like a diseased people and spend our time evacuating our precious foreigners while tut-tutting about Israel's 'disproportionate' response to the capture of its soldiers by Hizbollah.

Wolcott looks at what might be in store in Lebanon, drawing on Larry Johnston of No Quarter:

During the next two weeks we are likely to see combat in southern Lebanon intensify. Most of the action will be on the ground rather than in the air. Both sides will suffer significant casualties. If the United States is perceived (emphasis on perceived) as encouraging or directing the Israeli response [we're already beyond that point, given the NY Times front page story this morning about the US rushing precision-guided bombs to Israel], the odds increase that Hezbollah will ratchet things up another notch by playing the terrorist card.

Apparently Hezbollah is even more active in the world in terms of terrorism than Al Qaeda.  Hezbollah has been quiet for the last ten years because they thought they could achieve results politically.  Up until now.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 23, 2006 at 07:59 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 22, 2006

Bloggers = Professional Citizens

Ezra Klein writes about how stunned the professional politicians are at the power of the Netroots to unseat Lieberman.  Three polls are now showing Ned Lamont running ahead of Joe Lieberman in a state where winning the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate pretty much means winning the race in November.  Anyone who thinks that Lieberman can win in November as an Independent is living in a fantasy world, in my opinion.   

As Klein considers why the pros are reeling, he comes to the conclusion that:

Lieberman is the canary in their coal mine, and if his sanctimonious song stops, so too may all of theirs. They never reacted this way to the Club for Growth primaries, or the Unions' promise to work against Melissa Bean, or NARAL's threats to primary Casey, because they were comfortable with the role and global motivations of those groups -- they were part of the structure, and they sought only to make it work better for them, not substantively challenge its mechanisms. The bloggers, however, are different, more unpredictable, less obviously invested in the perpetuation of this fine political system we have. And so they represent not a challenge to Joe Lieberman, but a challenge to the establishment as a whole. And that's why the establishment as a whole is howling.

Klein says that his conversations with the many establishment types who support Lieberman indicates they are in a rage "at this affront to tradition and orderly succession".  Klein says he's been forced to conclude "that what scares folks about Lamont is that he represents an assault on privilege -- Joe Lieberman's, to be sure, but also theirs, no matter what sector of politics they currently represent".
He quotes Josh Marshall as well who says:

I think the Lieberman skeptics are really on to something when they point out that in the Kondrackes and others there is this sense that for a well-liked-in-the-beltway senior pol like Lieberman to face a primary challenge is somehow a genuine threat to the foundations of the system. You'd think he was a life peer, if not an hereditary noble, suddenly yanked out of the House of Lords and forced to run for his seat like they do in the Commons.

In reading the comments on Klein's post, one of the commenters said that he/she considers bloggers to be a new group of people we have not seen in awhile - professional citizens.  Sounds about right to me.  There have been a number of folks out there doing this for decades.  But the bloggers are coming in large numbers to assist and we are in communication with one another and we are learning how to make our voices heard. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 22, 2006 at 01:06 PM in Media | Permalink | Comments (4)

Some Balance to the Dreadful World News

Sarah McLaughlin provides some hope in a week where the news can bring you down.  Don't expect roses and fairy tales though.  This video will have you in tears by the end. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 22, 2006 at 12:40 PM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

Score Another for our Negotiator-in-Chief

The Pharmacy Board appears to have come to their senses thanks in part to Governor Gregoire's behind the scenes negotiations with the Pharmacy Board and, in particular, Board Member Donna Dockter, who had pushed for a controversial clause giving pharmacists the choice to refuse to fill prescriptions.  Both the PI and the Times have the story but Josh Feit at the Stranger appears to have the story behind the story.

Indeed, Gregoire brought in Don Downing, a Clinical Associate Professor at the U.W. School of Pharmacy, to facilitate a solution. Downing was the perfect choice. Downing has a long history of working with women’s health advocacy groups to draft legislation and rules (and create programs) nationally and internationally, that ensure woman have access to things like emergency contraception. However, he was also “in synch” with Washington State Pharmacy Board member Donna Dockter, the pharmacist who drafted the June rule. Downing agrees with Dockter that there are situations when a pharmacist should be able to refuse to fill a prescription—that don’t have to do with religious objections, but rather, a host of other issues ranging from medical concerns to concerns about abuse and fraud. Dockter’s concerns are good ones, although, during the debate last Spring, she seemed incapable of recognizing that her proposal had a huge loophole in it which would have allowed self-righteous pharmacists to turn women away.

Downing worked with the pharmacy board and Dockter to amend the language—he says the controversial clause that gave pharmacists the open-ended power to simply turn down prescriptions is “gone.” He and Dockter met with the Governor this week to go through “paragraph by paragraph” the new language, and Downing reports that the Governor supports the new draft language.

Downing hinted that the new language will only allow a pharmacist to object for religious or moral reasons if the pharmacy has someone else on staff who will fill the prescription. He said: “We all agreed that the pharmacist has a responsibility to facilitate access and can’t send a patient on a wild goose chase.”

With win after win like this, no wonder the Governor's approval ratings are going up.  Survey USA has her at 52% approval, 45% disapproval, her highest yet.  It still doesn't do her justice but slowly the numbers are reflected the incredible job she is doing.

Hat tip to Carl for the pointer to the Stranger and to Goldy for the pointer to the SUSA numbers. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 22, 2006 at 09:35 AM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 21, 2006

The Message Behind Ralph Reed's Loss

Not only has Ralph Reed been stopped from moving into the Lt. Governor's job in Georgia but the numbers in the Georgia primary portend low turnout from the evangelical base in districts where Abramoff-related corrupt Republicans are running.  A Diarist over at DailyKos has a very well documented post up this morning about the issues that apparently kept the base away from the polls.

The diarist, dengre, titles his post "Forced Abortions = Trouble for the GOP Hotlist".  He says:

The sweatshops, forced prostitution and forced abortions that Jack Abramoff and his GOP pals protected led the voters in Georgia to stop Ralph Reed in his tracks.

Going into Tuesday the consensus was that Reed's famed ground game would deliver thousands of his Christian Coalition Zombies and add another stunning victory for the Abramoff/DeLay/Rove wing of the GOP. It didn't happen.

Now there was a lot of corruption that Abramoff, Reed, Norquist, DeLay and their other Republican pals in Congress were responsible for.  The issue that brought it home for the evangelical base, as the diary title suggests, was the forced prostitution and forced abortions related to the system of sweatshops that Abramoff and DeLay enabled in the Commonwealth of North Mariana Islands (CNMI). 

Georgia has proven that this is a potent wedge issue for the fall elections.

It exposes the hypocrisy of the GOP. The Christians who they have bamboozled for the last twenty years are catching on to being played for suckers. They are staying home or voting against the folks who exploited their Faith.

This analysis from Jim Galloway of Cox News points to a larger loss to the GOP and the impact of forced abortions as a wedge issue between the Republicans and the Christians they've exploited for decades:

The Republican race for Georgia lieutenant governor between Ralph Reed and Casey Cagle made Christian voters so uncomfortable that many stayed home -- sending ripples up and down the GOP ticket on Tuesday -- Republican and religious activists said a day after the primary.

He goes on to talk about three local Georgia races and then quotes state GOP officials:   

"Those three races are the best indication that the right flank of the Republican Party stayed home," said Rusty Paul, a Sandy Springs councilman and former chairman of the state GOP.

"The moderate wing of the Republican party showed up, but the pro-Ralph side of the party went to the beach," Paul said. "It had an impact all up and down the ticket."

The diarist references GOP blog, Peach Pundit, for the actual numbers, which said that  477,771 people voted in the Democratic Primary and 416,749 voted in the Republican Primary for the top ticket races, despite the fact that the Reed-Cagle race was hotly contested.  Republican  primary participation declined 36% from 2004 while Democratic primary participation declined only 23%.

But the loss did not happen of its own accord.  An organization called Campaign Money Watch, a watchdog group, spent $100,000 to campaign against Reed.  David Donnelly, director of Campaign Money Watch, recognized that the Abramoff/CNMI/GOP connection is a potent wedge issue.  He says, "Politicians who place political money before morals ought to be very worried."

The organization, a project of the Public Campaign Action Fund, used their money on television and radio advertising as well as a recorded phone message delivered to 200,000 GOP voters in the last few days of the election.  This was when the race swung dramatically against Reed and for his primary oppornet, Casey Cagel.  Prior to that, the race had been too close to call.  Here was the message:

Reed took money from Abramoff's American Indian casino clients through a variety of conduits and manipulated Christian groups to act as fronts to oppose gambling competition for the tribes. He helped Abramoff oppose legislation to extend protections to women and children employed by sweatshops in the Northern Mariana Islands, despite the fact that our government had reported that the employers forced employees to enter the sex-tourism trade. When these immigrant workers inevitably became pregnant, they were forced to have abortions.

Reed never once said that it was wrong to take the casino money and use Christian groups as fronts. And he refused to acknowledge that it was widely known what was happening in the Marianas -- ABC's 20/20 did an expose in the 1998 -- years before he took on the lobbying work.

Here is an effective TV ad Cagle ran against Ralph.

It seems clear that precise informational ads that clarify the message about Republican corruption, and particularly the incredible hypocrisy that Abramoff and Reed personify, work.   Prostitution and forced abortions is definitely in that category.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 21, 2006 at 12:52 PM in Candidate Races, Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0)

Meanwhile in Iraq

Gloom descends on Iraqi leaders as civil war looms.  That's the headline for a Reuters New story on Iraq today by Mariam Karouny.  "Iraqi leaders have all but given up on holding the country together and, just two months after forming a national unity government, talk in private of "black days" of civil war ahead."

Signalling a dramatic abandonment of the U.S.-backed project for Iraq, there is even talk among them of pre-empting the worst bloodshed by agreeing to an east-west division of Baghdad into Shi'ite and Sunni Muslim zones, senior officials told Reuters.  According to Reuters, senior politicians are close to giving up on preserving Iraq in its present form.   

It looks like a slide to civil war, one we in this country will probably not notice for awhile, given the distractions of the Israeli-Hesbollah conflict.  Our troops are apparently keeping a lid on the violence, hard as that is to imagine with 100 civilians dying a day now. 

Another article yesterday in Reuters reported 6000 civilian deaths in two months, according to statistics released by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).  "Insurgent, militia and terrorist attacks continued unabated in many parts of Iraq, especially in Baghdad and in the central and western regions."  And more from the same article

The Ministry of Health says that more than 50,000 people have been killed "in a brutal way" since April 2003. "All these bodies were unrecognisable and suffered serious torture," says Safa'a Yehia, senior official in the Ministry of Heath. "What is more shocking is that this included women and children. We have reached a serious deterioration in conditions and instead of an improvement of this sectarian violence, the death toll is rising without control."

So what now?  I had thought even two months ago that there was still room for a massive Marshall Plan for Iraq involving withdrawal of US forces and establishment of an international peace plan, paid for my the US.  Essentially reparations. Not that this administration would ever have done something so sane.  But, heh. . . Now I'm afraid we don't even have that option.

Digby and Poputonian, writing at Hullabaloo, one of the best blogs on the Internet, have kept focus on the Iraq situation.  Poputonian goes back to an op-ed piece from 2005 (sorry no attribution that I can find) by E.W. Chamberlain III, a retired Army colonel that is chilling.  The piece is called "Prediction".  In the article, he accurately calls the slide into civil war we are seeing now.

Washington doesn't differentiate between the religious sects in Iraq, nor does it understand that the concept of a state called "Iraq" was arbitrarily devised by the British and the French in the Balfour Declaration at the end of World War I as those two victors divided the spoils of war.

People in Iraq and Iran are Shiite first, and Iraqis and Iranians second.

Indeed, I heard a piece on NPR in the last day or two where someone said that Bush senior knew NOTHING about the Shias and Sunnis and their hostilities to one another - and this was during the first Gulf War.  The author predicted the obvious wins by the Shia majority and says that is not democracy as we know it.  In fact, he said that Shia clerics would never allow anything resembling democracy in Iraq.  He assumes, however, that it would become sufficient cover for US withdrawal.  Then Chamberlain widens out the consequences:

Probably even before the U.S. withdraws, the "democratically elected" Shiite government in Iraq will be aligned rapidly with Iran and will receive open and massive support. The Saudi Arabian government will continue to support the Sunni insurgency, as it does today, but the support will become open.

The Sunni insurgency eventually will lose as the full weight of a Shiite Iraq and a Shiite Iran overwhelms it. Numbers alone, coupled with a real war of attrition that does not discriminate between combatants and noncombatants or follow any rules of engagement, will result in horrific casualties and defeat.

This will not be the kinder, gentler, American way of war. This will be an Old Testament conflict with no quarter given.

It is hard to see what ruse we will use to leave Iraq but leave it we must.  Then, the prediction becomes truly terrifying:

The remnants of the Sunni insurgency will flee to Saudi Arabia. There they will foment discord because the Saudi royal family did not do enough and allowed the Sunnis to be defeated in Iraq. The royal family will be overthrown in a violent revolution in Saudi Arabia led by Sunni clerics who long have chafed under the pro-Western rule of the House of Saud. The Sunni clerics will emerge as the dominant power in Saudi Arabia. Americans and all other Westerners will be killed or, at best, ejected from Saudi Arabia, which has enough native petrochemical engineers and knowledgeable oil field workers, and can find other non-Westerners to run the oil fields. No Westerner need apply.

Of course, we need not fear another attack here at home from Osama bin Laden as all this occurs, because he will have fulfilled his fatwa. The only thing bin Laden ever said he was after was to remove the Westerners from Saudi Arabia, the Land of the Holy Places. This will be done when the clerics assume control of Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden will win the war on terrorism by achieving his goals with our unwitting help.

Predictions are just that - predictions, not fact.  But it is, nevertheless, a troubling and possible one.  A Saudi Arabia truly run by the Wahhabi clerics is unnerving at best.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 21, 2006 at 10:33 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 20, 2006

Interview with President of Washington Farmers Union - Jim Davis

Jim Davis says there are many Democrats in Eastern Washington but their sense of being a Democrat harkens back to FDR and Maggie and Scoop.  They are typically more conservative than we are here but they are firm Democrats.  Jim is a 4th generation dry wheat farmer in Douglas County and President of the Washington Farmers Union, a smallish organization that tends to be the Democratic balance to the more powerful Farm Bureau, a strongly conservative organization.

Jim lived in Seattle for awhile, working as a stockbroker, before the call of the family farm took him back to the other side of the mountains and a life that he truly loves.  Prior to settling back into assisting on the family farm, he had a stint in the military and worked as a professional farm manager in Moses Lake.  In 2000, Davis ran against Doc Hastings in the 4th CD.  He says he has great affection for both sides of the state although he can sure see the lack of common ground on needs and values. 

He thinks that our common energy needs may bring the two sides closer.  He sees the possibility of getting larger percentages of our electricity from wind farms and fuel from ethanol and biodiesel as an opportunity for us to pull together 

After talking with Jim about the “Back to the Roots” project that I am assisting Noemie and the Institute for Washington’s Future to pull together, I realized that I wanted to understand more about eastern Washington from someone who clearly thinks well about the issues and needs of the people of that region – or rather those regions, as Jim was quick to point out.  There are a lot of different areas in eastern Washington, none of which most of us on this side know much about.  I also wanted to know about being a Democrat on that side of the mountains.

The interview is after the fold.

Q: What is it like being a Democrat in your part of eastern Washington?

JD:  There are quite a few of us Democrats over here.  But the people are conservative, even the Democrats. It was disheartening to many of us that the Democrats like FDR, Maggie and Scoop who helped build the Party in the first place, have been discounted and disregarded.  We are definitely Democrats although it can be hard given how we are painted by the more liberal Democrats in Seattle.

Q: What are you thinking of there?

JD: Unfortunately we were painted with the liberal Seattle brush when the Seattle City Council passed their, now infamous, dam- breaching resolution.  It was, in my opinion, ill advised.  It was certainly unwelcome as far as many Eastern Washington residents were concerned, including Democrats, and it was used as a political bludgeon by the GOP to hurt the Democrat's candidates in many state and federal elections, such my own race against Doc Hastings. 

Also, the noise from the other Washington, Washington D.C., does not help.  My campaign motto when I ran for Congress was "We need less partisanship and more solutions".  I think we’d do better here as Democrats if people worked together more and explored the issues and found things to agree on.  We need more dialogue.

Congress isn’t listening. I do not believe that the values issues that the GOP trots out every couple of years to stir up their base is helping to move the country forward.  Gay marriage is a state regulated issue and Congress should not let these issues distract from more urgent national concerns.  They are not concerned with the problems that the average person is concerned about.

Q: You ran against Doc Hastings in 2000.  What was that like and how did it go?

JD:  I started from scratch and raised nearly $500,000 and I ended my campaign with no debt, a feat that I and my campaign team were rightly proud of.  I didn’t take a single day off in 18 months.  It was difficult to do but I knew how to raise money from the time I’d been a stockbroker.  I spent a lot of time on phone.  Spending that money forced Hastings to do the same.

You have to make sure your name is out there.  Jay Inslee was my mentor.  He was willing to invest in me and helped me learn to campaign on the phone.

Q: Do you have any words of wisdom for Richard Wright, now that he is running against Hastings?

JD: Wright doesn’t have a rural background.  He’s clearly a good person.  I’m been encouraging him to become familiar with entire 4th CD.  Some of most educated folks in the country are in the Tri-Cities.  He is more familiar with the high-tech portion of that district than the low-tech portion.  For his sake, it would be better if he spent more time cultivating all of it. 

Q: Let’s talk with the farming.  That’s clearly important to you.  (Jim and I had talked previously about the grueling schedule during much of the summer when he is harvesting the summer wheat and then planting the winter wheat.  I was beginning to understand that his life truly revolves around the requirements of making a living on the farm.)  How did you come to be where you are?

JD:  I was born in Coulee City in Grant County.  My paternal grandparents settled here long before Washington was a state.  I loved the family farm.  It was growing and they had need of my participation.  It was a good opportunity to use my management skills.  I’m now the General Manager. 

If life was all about money, I’d have stayed there in Seattle.  You’ve got to enjoy what you’re doing, though, and I really love this.  It’s not a complicated desire.

Q: You have wireless at the farm and that’s important for you.  How did that come to be?

JD:  I developed a keen sense of the lack of infrastructure in South Korea.  We had better telephone service in the Army than they had back at home.  Even when I got back to the states and lived in downtown Seattle, I couldn’t call home. 

The telephone polls in our county had been surplus and would rot out and fall over periodically.  Some of the polls were so short, they were barely taller than the snow-mobiles in winter. We had to climb the poles to fix them ourselves.  It was quite dangerous and we were afraid to service them in the summer because there was nothing to cushion our fall if the pole fell and took us with it.  So the need was clearly there.

The nature of farmers is that we will get it done.  We started a petition drive to solicit USWest to put up lines. It took a couple of years.  “Are you sure you have 18 people who want this line?” they asked incredulously.  “It’s going to cost $3500 per hookup”.  But we were desperate.  We were seeing an exit from the farming areas because we did not have the infrastructure.  People wanted to have telephones and TVs.  So, we went after it and got it done. 

That experience imbued me with a can-do attitude.

When I was a kid, we didn’t have electricity.  These are not things I take for granted.  Initiative #1, in 1931, created PUD’s.  That was key in rural areas on both sides of the mountains. 

Then from 1991-1993, I was a member of the Washington State Committee on Energy Strategy.  I pushed for the ability to connect all of WA state. This is really important for the continuity of communities.  If you are going to have folks be part of a more rural setting, it should be transparent.  They need to have electricity, telephone capacity, and now the ability to communicate by Internet. We presented to Governor Gardner. 

We are seeing the benefits of the Internet in rural areas.  In our health clinics, we have the ability with broadband to take an x-ray and email it to a specialist in a larger clinic.  The patient shouldn’t have to drive from Colville to Seattle when we can do this by broadband. 

Q:  What are the key issues for folks in eastern Washington now?

JD:  It is hard to generalize.  Benton county with the Tri-Cities is different from Yakima county right next door.  Tri-Cities.   There is a big distinction between the irrigated Columbia Basin farming area, which is about 500,000 acres, and the rural areas of Lincoln, Douglas and Grant counties, where they dry farm wheat. 

Q: How about for your part of eastern Washington?

We are really suffering from the high costs of fuel.  Our fuel costs have more than doubled in the last couple of years and it impacts the cost of fuel and the cost of chemicals and machinery.  On the other side, farmers have to take the prices they get.  I face competition with producers in Russia, the EU, Australia, and Canada.  We have to worry about the price of wheat in Romania.  Price becomes the defining value, not quality. 

The concern that most of us have is that folks in the cities don’t recognition that without farmers, American consumers can’t take food on their table for granted.  A handful of international corporations set the prices.  Is that in their best interest? 

Most countries recognize that cheap food is a security issue.  If we become dependent on foreign farmers, it is not in our national best interest. 

Q: I remember last year, I was surprised to learn from Lisa Brown when I was interviewing her that agricultural is the biggest industry in Washington State.  Agriculture is very important in this state.

JD: I was a history major in college.  Years ago, in his Cross of Gold speech, Willaim Jennings Bryan warned the nation, "burn down your cities and leave our farms, and the cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country".

It is important for us to recognize the value of farms in this whole state.  There is a huge agricultural industry on both sides of the Cascades.  There is farming and dairies in Snohomish and Skagit counties as well as across the state.

Q: What about the farm subsidy programs?  That is something I think that city folk don’t understand.

The federal farm programs began with FDR and continue today.  Over the years the program particulars have changed with the times but the goal remains the same, which is to provide support for our farmers and ranchers in order to provide food security for Americans.  The farm program design also introduced soil and water conservation to avoid another "dust bowl".  Many of the farm program benefits to farmers are designed to provide environmental protection for fragile lands that wildlife is dependent on. 

Frankly the public support for the Endangered Species Act can be a win-win for farmers, species, and the public if the conservation elements of the farm program are properly designed and administered. 

Each county has an elected Farm Service Agency County Committee of farmers that are elected by the eligible farmers in the county that serve as a governing 'civilian' body for farm program implementation and/or arbitration.  The county Committee is a local control interface for farm program administration and is unique in federal administration of federal laws and policy for any federal agency or department.  Each state has a State Committee that oversees the County Committees and the members of this committee are appointed by the Administration that is in power and they serve at its pleasure.

These farm programs are a good investment for everyone in this country because they ensure cheap, safe, and quality food.  It means the food has been grown using registered herbicides, with American laborers.  People who pay taxes and are stewards of the land care about the land.  American consumers need to understand that when wheat sells at $4/bushel, and a bushel makes 79 loaves of bed, the farmer is not getting much of the profit from that wheat.   

Consumers benefit from the high quality, safe food that is produced by American farmers.  I do not believe that it is in the national interest for Americans to become dependent on imported food any more then it is in America's interest to continue our dependence on foreign oil imports.  Most civilized countries in the world consider food to be a priority security issue.  We Americans, unfortunately, take the food that is so cheap and readily available, for granted.  Our federal farm programs are designed to provide the food security that the people of the United States depend on so that we cannot be held hostage to foreign supplies of overpriced, poor quality, unsafe foods.

Thank you.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 20, 2006 at 04:20 PM in Interviews | Permalink | Comments (2)

The BIAW Targets the State Supreme Court

Andrew at the NPI Blog has been doing a series on the "Walking for Washington" program the BIAW (Building Association of Washington) established to try to elect super-conservative Republicans to the State Supreme Court.  A week ago, Andrew read about how robust this program was becoming when an alert voter discussed it over at Washblog.  Dennis Higgins reported that an attractive young neighbor was knocking at doors obtaining information on how people felt about various judges running for the Washington State Supreme Court.

Andrew did his customary, thorough research and found that the "Walking for Washington" program was funded and organized by the BIAW to promote its slate of candidates for the State Supreme Court.  It was started in 2004.  The program pays conservative activists to knock on doors around the state, do voter ID and drop literature, according to PDC reports.  Andrew says, "the 'Walking for Washington' program has reported a total of $254,632.24 raised, with $173,717.18 spent". 

This program has slipped under the political radar.  Here we've been rightly congratulating ourselves on doing so well in the state legislature and in the federal races.  In the meantime, the right is out there trying to turn our Supreme Court into something that can stop any progressive agenda we develop in the state, just as the U.S. Supreme Court will be able to sway policy for a generation even as progressives manage to take back Congress and the Presidency.  There are a lot of big state organizations that have contributed to "Walking for Washington", including the Washington Restaurant Association, the Realtors PAC, the State Farm Bureau and a long list of other corporations.      

Given the judicial candidates they are supporting, Steven Johnson and John Groen to replace incumbent Justices Susan Owens and Gerry Alexander, this program and these financial backers are working to strike down worker and environmental protections.  Kudos to Andrew for focusing attention on it.  More boos to the BIAW for trying to subvert our democracy yet again.

UPDATE: Turns out Neil Modie at the PI has an article up this morning as well on the BIAW's financing of Groen and Johnson. 

Hat tip to Mickey in the comments.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 20, 2006 at 08:09 AM in Candidate Races, Strategery | Permalink | Comments (2)

Boomer Edition of Podcasting Liberally

Goldy was away and the boomers got the microphone at Drinking Liberally and did we have a blast - in a boomer kind of way.  I had been thinking it would be interesting to hear from other boomers about being involved in politics and social activism from one active period - the Vietnam War era - to another.  So I gathered together a gang of political and social activists from the Vietnam War era who are still active.   We talked about what we did in the good ole days and what we do now and how activism gets transmitted across the generations.

Joining me were Don Hopps of The Institute for Washington's Future, Alice Woldt of the Washington Association of Churches, Michael Hood of the blog, Blatherwatch, and Howie Martin of the blog, Howie in Seattle. N in Seattle was due to join us but he was busy at the 43rd LD Candidate Forum up at TownHall. (More on that in a later post). 

We discussed the demise of political parties, the impact of right-wing consolidation of the media, the impact of the blogs and much more.  We talked about why people aren't as outraged as they were back in the 60's and what it might take to get more folks involved.

The show is 53:43, and is available here as a 33.4 MB MP3.

[Recorded live at the Seattle chapter of Drinking Liberally. Special thanks to Confab co-creator Richard Huff for producing the show.]

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 20, 2006 at 07:48 AM in Media | Permalink | Comments (2)

July 18, 2006

Dems Kick Ass

Democratic Congressional candidates are outraising their Republican foes across the board.  This is great news.  If it were only a few races, the Republicans would be able to focus their prodigious fund-raising ability easily but this is widespread.

We know that Darcy has outraised Reichert in each of the last two quarters, despite Bush's giant fund-raiser for his buddy, Dave Reichert.  That was huge news.  Now we hear from the DCCC that Democrats across the country are doing the same.  Dean Nielsen of Progressive Majority passed along a Press Release from the DCCC. 

In open seats, Democratic candidates hold the advantage:

By and large, Democrats in open seats dominated the second quarter fundraising period.  With fundraising advantages by as much as $470,000 in the case of Peter Welch of Vermont, Democrats are strongly positioned for success in these seats.

In Democratically held seats, no Republican challenger has more cash on hand than the sitting Democrat.

Democratic challengers are in the best shape in history.  At the end of June 2006 there are:

          o 60 Democratic Candidates with $100,000 or more cash on hand
          o 47 Democratic Candidates with $250,000 or more cash on hand
          o 30 Democratic Candidates with $500,000 or more on hand
          o 16 Democratic Candidates with $750,000 or more on hand
          o 6 Democratic Candidates with $1,000,000 or more on hand

                + (CT-04) Diane Farrell
                + (CT-05) Chris Murphy
                + (IN-08) Brad Ellsworth
                + (NC-11) Heath Shuler
                + (NM-01) Patricia Madrid
                + (PA-06) Lois Murphy

          o 2 Democratic Candidates with $2,000,000 or more on hand

                + (FL-22) Ron Klein
                + (TX-22) Nick Lampson

Here's what they have on Burner:

WA-08: By raising an impressive $590,460 this quarter, Darcy Burner outraised Rep. Dave Reichert for the second quarter in a row, this time, despite the fundraiser he held with President Bush.  She has closed the cash on hand gap to just over $340,000.

And on Goldmark:

(WA-05) Peter Goldmark outraised Cathy McMorris by $84,700

This is great news. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 18, 2006 at 12:52 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (3)

Something About Ned

I get a lift from the Ned Lamont ads.   Maybe it's the creativity or the fact that he's willing to really give Joe a kick, but in an amazingly nice way - like, heh, it's just time for you to leave the scene and let someone who cares step in.  Or maybe it's Ned's bouyant optimism and obvious ability to be real.  Whatever it is, I like clicking in on his frequent new ads.  They give me a lot of hope for our Party.  Here are another three.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 18, 2006 at 12:37 PM in Candidate Races, Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 17, 2006

Darcy Gets Iraq Right

Our own McJoan over at DailyKos discusses Darcy Burner's position on Iraq today.  She begins by quoting Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institute discussing the increasing odds of a Democratic wave this year in Congress at the WAPO.   Mann lists four things that the Democrats need to do to take advantage of the possibility.  The last is to counter the Republicans attempts to link the war in Iraq to the fight against terrorism.  Fair point.

McJoan quotes Mann:

Will it work? No one doubts the Republicans' resourcefulness and discipline in castigating the "cut-and-run" Democrats while beginning to withdraw some U.S. forces before November. Less certain are the Democrats' skill in framing the election as a referendum on the Bush administration and Republican Congress.

McJoan says that Darcy Burner is one Democrat who knows how to articulate this key point. 

If this election is about Bush and the Rubber Stamp Republican Congress, Democrats win. There's one Democratic challenger who I think really gets this: Darcy Burner, one of our netroots candidates running in WA-08. She recently appeared on a local NPR station's current affairs program. She was extremely intelligent and well-spoken on a variety of issues, but articulated particularly well the Republican problem with Iraq.  She quotes Darcy from the KUOW interview of a week and a half ago when she replaced Reichert. 

We clearly need a Congress that is going to demand a plan for finishing the job and bringing our troops home safely. . . .  And at the moment, to be blunt, it looks like the choice is between a Republican policy of indefinite occupation and the demand for a plan to get out, which is what the Democrats would give you. . . . I think the military is much more likely to be able to write a successful plan for disengaging militarily from Iraq than the politicians are. The problem we have right now isn't that the military has in any way failed in their mission. . . . The problem is that we've got politicians in Washington, D.C. interfering with their ability to finish this. . . . At this point they're sitting over there getting shot at because the Republicans in Washington, D.C. can't figure out what their plan is to finish the job and bring them home. That's got to stop. . . . The Republicans have no plan. Their plan right now is indefinite occupation.

Burner comes from a military family. Her father was career Air Force, and one of her brothers serves in the Army's 101st Airborne and has served one tour of duty in Iraq, so she can speak to these issues with a degree of authority. What she does most effectively, in my mind, is to take the focus off of the idea that the Democrats have to come up with some sort of plan for Iraq, and to put the onus back onto the administration and the Republican Congress.

Darcy Burner is following Mann's prescription. She's making this election a referendum on Bush and the Rubber Stamp Republicans.

We need Darcy in Congress.  Let's do what we can to get her there.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 17, 2006 at 08:58 AM in Candidate Races, Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

43rd LD Candidate Forum Tomorrow

One of our most interesting statewide races this year will be in the Democratic primary in the 43rd LD.  There are six Democrats campaigning to replace Ed Murray who is running unopposed for the State Senate.  In the 43rd, winning the Democratic primary is essentially winning the race.  Tomorrow, Tuesday, the six candidates will be talking at a forum at TownHall that is open to all.  Well worth the time.  6:00 for the meet and greet.  7:30 for the forum.

N in Seattle has a post over at Peace Tree Farm explaining the race, the district and a bit about the candidates.

Let me pause for a moment here to state that in the 43rd, winning the Democratic nomination is tantamount to being elected to office.  This is the most Democratic Legislative District in Washington—Kerry beat Dubya 85% to 13% in 2004, and in that year Murray received 87% of the vote while fellow Representative Frank Chopp (the Speaker of the House) took 85%.

With Murray leaving his seat, six Democrats—all strong progressives, all with solid credentials and good-to-excellent experience, all worthy people—have filed for the position.  The primary election will take place on September 19, and whichever one of them wins a plurality of the votes in the primary (even if it’s just 20% of the total) will be the Democratic nominee.  And, to reiterate, the Democratic nominee will be elected to office in November, and, once elected, will in all likelihood retain the seat for as long as he or she wants it.

Here’s the roster of candidates for House Position #1 (listed in alphabetical order by first name)

* Bill Sherman (www.billsherman.org/), deputy prosecutor for King County and Clinton-era Interior Department official

* Dick Kelley (kelleyin2006.org/), political scientist, former DHHS Regional Administrator, Seattle deputy mayor, and policy analyst for the House Democratic caucus

* Jamie Pedersen (www.peopleforpedersen.org/), attorney at Preston Gates & Ellis

* Jim Street (www.jimstreet.org/), director of Reinvesting in Youth, former King County judge and City Councilmember

* Lynne Dodson (lynnetowin.org/), community college professor, president of AFT Local 1789, former chair of Washington State Jobs with Justice

* Stephanie Pure (www.peopleforpure.com/), legislative aide to Seattle City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 17, 2006 at 07:40 AM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 16, 2006

Newt Jumps The Shark

Newt Gingrich, in town to raise money for Dave Reichert and some other loser challening Adam Smith, is now shooting his mouth off claiming that we're in the middle of World War III.

Gingrich said in the coming days he plans to speak out publicly and to the administration from his seat on the Defense Policy Board about the need to recognize that America is in World War III.

He lists wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, last week's bomb attacks in India, North Korean nuclear threats, terrorist arrests and investigations in Florida, Canada and Britain, and violence in Israel and Lebanon as evidence of World War III.

He said Bush needs to deliver a speech to Congress and "connect all the dots" for Americans.

Has he stopped taking his medicine?  No, he's trying to reframe the 2006 elections, which are looking ever-worse for Republicans, by appealing to fear, jingoism and the right-wing's not-so-subconcious wish for the apocalypse.

Pathetic.  And yet another reason to vote for Darcy Burner, Adam Smith, Maria Cantwell and any other Democrat.  I want wackos like Newt sent back to the showers.  Again.

Posted by Jon Stahl on July 16, 2006 at 03:17 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 14, 2006

The Democrats Play Hardball

The DCCC, under the stewardship of Rahm Emanuel of Illinios, has released a new, very hard-hitting ad, entitled "America Needs a New Direction".  Whew!  They hit it out of the park with this one. 

Warning: You have to provide contact information to see the video.  I decided it was worth it even if it means another set of emails requesting donations from the Democrats.

UPDATE: So much for playing hardball. After a few complaints by the Republicans, the DCCC dumped the ad mentioned above and eliminated all links.  Now they have an ad up on the minimum wage. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 14, 2006 at 08:27 AM in Media, Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Perfect Storm

Turns out that the soldier, Stephen Green, accused of raping the young girl in March in Mahmudiya, Iraq, and murdering her and her family, was a troubled young man who never should have been allowed in the Army.  Nor would he have been allowed to sign up if the military had not been having so much difficulty recruiting for a war that our young people aren't sure they want to fight.  He was placed in a situation where horrific things were happened to fellow soldiers and he evidently cracked.  The consequences of this terrible deed perpetrated by this troubled young man and his fellow assailants, is likely to be felt for years.  Unfortunately, the conditions that led to this attack, are becoming more and more common.  This perfect storm, like the hurricanes in the Gulf Region, are likely to be seen again and again because the underlying conditions have changed dramatically.   

The New York Times has an article on Green which details his unfortunate life.  He appears to have been a disaster waiting to happen.  Green was born in 1985 in Midland, Texas, the town that George Bush grew up in.  Green's parents divorced and his mother moved him to a town south of Houston in the 6th grade.  Classmates remember him as a youngster always in trouble, getting into fights, being mad at teachers.  He did drugs and alcohol at an unusually young age and dropped out of school in the 10th grade.  Green knocked around for a few years, picked up a GED, and was arrested a couple of times for minor drug paraphernalia, and having tobacco and alcohol as a minor.   Shortly after he was released from jail in January of 2005, Green received a "moral waiver" and was inducted into the Army.  According the the NYT article:

The share of Army recruits who received “moral waivers” for criminal records increased last year and through the first half of 2006 by 15 percent from 10 percent or 11 percent before the war, according to statistics released this week. (According to the Pentagon, the number of waivers in 2001 totaled 7,640. The figure increased to 11,018 in 2005, and for the first six months of this fiscal year totaled 5,636.)

Green arrived in Iraq with Bravo Company, First Battalion, 502nd Infantry, part of the 101st Division.  It was not long before he was patrolling in the "triangle of death" south of Baghdad.  Bravo Company has seen some of the worst violence of any division in the military.  From the time in late 2005 when two sergeants of Bravo Company were shot dead at a checkpoint, seventeen battalion members were killed in four months, the last four months of Green's unfortunate enlistment.  Of those seventeen, 8 came from Bravo Company, which had had 110 soldiers.  Peter Kunk, the brother of the commanding officer of the battalion, Lt. Col. Thomas Kunk, said that Colonel Kunk had regarded this deployment as the most brutal stretch of his 22 years in the service.

“This is the toughest tour of duty he has ever had,” Mr. Kunk said. “You can tell by his letters. It has taken a terrible toll on him and his men. We’re heartsick about it. There’s been so many deaths, loss of limbs, injuries.”

Just as we will have years worth of hurricanes in the Gulf due to our government's rigid insistence that human activity is not the cause of global warming and increased hurricane activity, so too are we likely to have years worth of atrocities and years worth of troubled returning soldiers. All due to our government's rigid insistence that we continue putting young people into a situation in Iraq that is out of control because of an administration that doesn't know the first thing about diplomacy or war.      

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 14, 2006 at 08:16 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Colbert on Lieberman

An outrageously funny video-clip of Stephen Colbert's take on Joe Lieberman and the Connecticut primary is available on Ned Lamont's website. Boy, are Lamont's people good. He is going to be the new Senator from Connecticut.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 14, 2006 at 07:15 AM in Candidate Races, Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 13, 2006

The Cost of the War

Congressman John Murtha lays it out for us.  We are spending $8 billion a month in Iraq.  Taylor Marsh at her blog of the same name, shows us what Murtha thinks we might have spent the money on instead - items like equipping commercial airliners with defenses against shoulder-fired missiles, a one-time cost of $10 billion that equals 5 weeks of our ghastly war in Iraq.  Or a one-time cost of $350 million for making emergency radio system interoperable, a 9/11 commission critical suggestion that equals 1.2 days of the war in Iraq.

So, tell me, which kind of expenditure is making us safer in this War on Terror?

Hat tip to Christy at FDL

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 13, 2006 at 10:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

I Miss Monica

A catchy video-clip and tune from Dean Freidman, by way of the Contagious Festival at Huffington Post.  Someone has the right idea about making this serious business of politics entertaining.  Here's the link.

Warning: the tune is catchy like an old advertising jingle that just stays in your head for awhile. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 13, 2006 at 09:54 AM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

Snohomish County Dems - Upcoming Picnics

Time for Democrats in Snohomish County to get together and play.  The big Summer Picnic is called Freedom Day and will be held on Sunday, August 13th, at the Tulalip Amphitheater.  But four of the LDs  in the County - the 32nd, 1st, 39th and 38th - are holding their own picnics at other times.   Details for all after the fold.

FREEDOM DAY!
Sunday August 13th
11:00am to 4:00pm

Tulalip Amphitheater
10400 Quil Ceda Blvd
Tulalip WA 98271

All democrats everywhere are invited to the 2006 Snohomish County Democratic Summer Picnic – FREEDOM DAY!

This year the picnic will be held on Sunday August 13th at the Tulalip Amphitheater from 11:00am to 4:00pm. This is an annual event that has grown over the years -- and this year looks like it will be bigger and better than ever!

Please contact Betsy Foster at 360-629-9725 to find out about having a table for your candidate, your issue or your organization or how to help sponsor this event in a big way!

Meanwhile.....

This Saturday, July 16th, 2006
11:00am to 4:00pm

32nd Legislative District
Membership Meeting and Picnic
St. Edwards Park
14445 Juanita Dr. NE,
Kirkland WA

South Picnic Area #12 - by the flag pole and playground (same as last year)
POTLUCK - bring a favorite to share.

Thursday, July 27, 2006
5:00pm – 8:00pm

1st Legislative District
Picnic at Cedar Grove Park

Cedar Grove Park
22421 9th Ave SE
Bothell, WA

Burgers, hot dogs, vegi-burgers, chicken, condiments, plates, utensils and drinks will be provided.  Please bring a side dish or dessert.

Sunday, July 30th
12:00noon to 6:00pm

39th Legislative District
Krazy Kroquet

Home of Joel Selling and Nancy Truitt Pierce
12003 Woodscreek Rd
Monroe, WA, 98272

Monday, Aug. 7
6:00pm – 8:00pm

38th Legislative District Summer Picnic
Langus Park

Bring your boat to Langus Park, between Marysville and Everett on the Snohomish River!  We’ll cook hot dogs and hamburgers. Bring Salads and drinks!

For more information on any of these events:

Michele Meaker Pin, Corresponding Secretary
corresponding@snohomishdemocrats.org

Snohomish County Democrats
P.O. Box 5657
Everett WA 98206-5657
Office (425) 252-2305
Cell (425) 773-2826

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 13, 2006 at 09:49 AM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (0)

Neo-Nazis in our Military

With a desperate "the-ends-justify-the-means" operating policy, this administration has been allowing known skinheads and Neo-Nazis into the military in order to meet quotas.  National blog writer and local treasure, Dave Neiwert at Orcinus, has done the homework and it is chilling.  Neiwert quotes from a chilling Southern Poverty Law Center report, which the NYT picked up on as well.  Following the Oklahoma City bombings, the military had been toughening policies to keep extremists and extremist activities out of the military.  One DOD investigator, Scott Barfield, based at Fort Lewis, says that he:

has identified and submitted evidence on 320 extremists there in the past year. "Only two have been discharged," he said. Barfield and other Department of Defense investigators said they recently uncovered an online network of 57 neo-Nazis who are active duty Army and Marines personnel spread across five military installations in five states -- Fort Lewis; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Stewart, Ga.; and Camp Pendleton, Calif. "They're communicating with each other about weapons, about recruiting, about keeping their identities secret, about organizing within the military," Barfield said. "Several of these individuals have since been deployed to combat missions in Iraq."

Then the returning soldiers come back.  Neiwert has a photo of one of them, Shawn Stuart, speaking at the recent Nationalist Socialist Movement rally in Olympia.  "He liked to especially rant about immigration issues and talk about how when he came back to America, he found that we had let the enemy in through the back door. How we had let the Jews open it. That sort of thing."

And they recruit other folks while in the military, causing who knows how much trouble in the future.  Yet another example of doing what is expedient now with no thought of what will happen as a result of such short-sighted policies.  Dave adds some chilling analysis as well. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 13, 2006 at 09:04 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 11, 2006

Unrelenting Bad News for Bush

A couple days ago, Darryl at Hominid Views has put together the day's news - much of it unfavorable for Bush and the rest of the corrupt Republican leadership.  Actually it's mostly just what they've been doing catching up with them.

Several times over the last four months or so, I've read where Nancy Pelosi or some other Democratic leader says, "Gee, if only the election were held today.  We'd win."  It's my guess it's just going to get worse and worse for them as more and more comes out.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 11, 2006 at 10:28 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Here's Betting the D's are More Creative Than the R's

Notice a lot more YouTube clips lately?  Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post says he thinks that the proliferation of video and audio tapes floating around the political world lately are going to revolutionize politics and fast.  From the article:

"YouTube is a campaign game-changer, shifting the dynamics of how to reach voters and build intimate relationships," says Julie Supan, senior marketing director for the small, California-based firm, which by one measure now runs the 39th most popular Web site. "YouTube levels the playing field, allowing well-backed and less-known candidates to reach the same audience and share the same stage."

Even the seemingly simple act of posting footage of a politician's interview on "Meet the Press" or "The Daily Show" has a viral quality, because it can be seen by far more people than watched during a single broadcast.

I think he's on to something.  I have loved posting or passing along links to favorite video-clips recently.  These things are powerful.  For example, here are three of my favorites, a couple of which I've posted here recently:

"Ned Lamont has a Messy Desk" - a completely new kind of political ad, one that really brings Ned Lamont into your living room.

"The Rejected Katherine Harris Campaign Video" - a bitingly funny spoof of Katherine Harris' campaign for the Florida Senate

"The Inquisition - What a Show" - a Mel Brooks special from years ago that is hauntingly humorous. 

And no one would have ever seen the roast of Bush that Stephen Colbert did at the Washington Correspondents' Association Dinner unless we had this very democratic new means of sharing what's going on in one place with folks all over the country.  Transcript here.

And then there are the audio-clips of speeches, which extend the reach, as Kurtz said, of individuals, like Michael Greco, President of the ABA, talking about the crisis in our democracy brought about by the actions of the Bush Administration.  They take a little while to listen to but a lot less than making our to Town Hall. Not to mention, they're great for people who don't live where the speeches happen. 
Having access to the blogs and to the very entertaining new videos, is likely to change everything about politics, as fast as in this election cycle.   So, who is this going to benefit?  Clearly it will benefit folks who aren't interested in watching boring old TV news but still want some information and a "sense" of what's going on. 

But will it shift the numbers in November?  I'm betting so. I'm betting that along with the reach of the blogs and the ability of people to give small amounts of money to candidates online, the exponential increase in ability to show video and audio clips is going to benefit the Democrats.   

Howard Kurtz says that the YouTube site is only 18 months old.  It has 80 million videos that are viewed each day.   And the political clips tend to lean left.  Now, is that any surprise?  I would think that Democrats, progressives, liberals, social activists and all, are likely to be more creative in making these new types of media.  We live in the cities; we hang out with a variety of people; and we are more used to stretching ourselves to think in new ways.   Perhaps, most importantly, we are desperate to make our point of view heard and understood and have finally realized that lecturing doesn't do it.  (Or at least we're coming along on that one).  All good.  Should make a difference in reaching a new audience.

On the other hand, Karl Rove is a mean, nasty opponent and quite bright.  He started a whisper campaign in conservative Democratic West Texas in the 1994 election that pitted his candidate, George W. Bush, against Ann Richards.  He had local good-ole-boys put it out that she was a lesbian.  In the 1990 election, Rove put out bogus claims against Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower right before he was due to sail to reelection.  The story of the FBI inquiring into corruption charges days before election day cost Hightower the election to another future governor, Rick Perry.  The charges were patently false.  As Hightower famously quipped, "They caught me with my pants up." 

So this is not likely to be a walk-away benefit for the Democrats.  The Democrats will have to have SWAT teams that are prepared to counter the nasty Republican uses of these same technologies.  We have to play both offensive and defensive well here, folks, in order to use these new technologies to move our cause forward and take advantage of what would seem to be a natural advantage we have. 

Hat tip to Howie Martin at Howie in Seattle for the tip on the WAPO article.   

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 11, 2006 at 10:04 PM in Media, Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 10, 2006

Living Within the Law: Next Steps in the War on Terror

Michael Greco, President of the American Bar Association, gave a seminal speech a month ago that I bet you haven't heard yet.  It has not gotten much press despite the fact that it is spot on and despite the fact that Greco, as President of the ABA, represents 400,000 lawyers in this country.  Greco gave the speech at the Commonwealth Club of California on June 7th.  It is entitled, "Living Within the Law: Next Steps in the War on Terror".   A poster at DailyKos posted a link for the audio-clip and for the transcription (warning: pdf file) just a day or two ago.  Although the speech is perhaps forty minutes, I strongly suggest you take time to listen to it.  It is clear and concise and straight-forward.  Greco set the context for what the Bush Administration has done in terms of the Constitution and the rule of law.  He calls it for what it is: a threat to our democracy.  Here's a sampling:

Since 9/11, we have witnessed a number of - too many -- disturbing developments in the U.S. government's campaign against terrorism. We have learned about secret prisons, torture of prisoners and detainees, extraordinary rendition of detainees to nations that practice torture, abusive treatment by U.S. personnel, open ended imprisonment without charges or access to counsel, unauthorized intelligence gathering on American citizens, and more. Recent news reports have now brought to light another separation of powers issue: the increasingly frequent use of "signing statements" that the President attaches to duly enacted bills that the he signs into law.

The Prosecution concludes by asking the Jury, We the People, that we reach the only rational Verdict.

When any one branch of government attempts to place itself above or usurp the constitutionally-mandated roles of the other branches, our democracy is threatened.

We have now reached a point where all Americans must ask themselves whether these practices of our government are isolated and unconnected, or whether they form a pattern that threatens the very foundations of the rule of law in the United States.

Listen up folks.  This is get-real time. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 10, 2006 at 08:18 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0)

More on Wilson's Decision

Chad Lupkes shares his insider view of Mark's decision over at a wonderful post at Washblog .  He talks about the personal and the big picture aspect of the decision and it's good.  Here's the core of it:

Here, in very blunt terms, is why Mark Wilson dropped out of the primary race.  He was losing.  He never wanted to be a "protest vote".  He never wanted to be the "perpetual candidate".  He wanted to put the progressive message that he had learned from running for office and listening to us over the last 6 years to bear, and those of us who have actually listened to his message know that he learned a lot, and he knows our values.  He is now, and always will be from this point forward, a Democrat.  Big D.  Because he shares our values, and he knows our message.

But like I have been saying for two + years, there are two things that are needed to turn values into public policy via the voting booth.  You need a message, and you need the infrastructure to get that message out.

As I said yesterday, I have great respect for Mark for what he has done, both up until now and now.  I look forward to his influence on the campaign.  It seems that he is doing what us Democrats as a whole are looking to do: get real.

David Postman has a piece up today as well, about the role that Dal Lamagna played in bringing her campaign together with Mark and with a group of folks who were frustrated with Maria's Iraq War stance.  He too will be impacting her campaign. I had heard a bit about Lamagna at YearlyKos and so was not so surprised that he would be involved in this.  He is a national progressive, regular writer at Huffington Post and founder of Progressive Government, a group that has worked to put together a "shadow cabinet" of progressives and progressive ideas.  It's a bit uneven in my book but an interesting idea. 

If Maria and her folks are serious in bringing these new folks in, this will be a truly big tent (and I think fruitful) effort this year. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 10, 2006 at 05:44 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (3)

July 09, 2006

DNC vs. the World

Ian Welsh, picking up on Matt Stoller's rant about the ongoing epidemic of lazy reporting on infighting amongst the Democratic big dogs,  offers a consice summary of the difference between Dean's DNC and the DSCC/DLC:

There are serious disagreements within the Democratic party on strategy. They aren't just made up. One side believes in running generally conservative self funding candidates as much as possible and in giving up base voters in safe seats to try and score a few swing voters in swing states. They believe in the air game (ie. television ads) and in only trying to compete in districts where they feel the party has a chance this election cycle. The other side believes in the ground game, in the netroots and in organizing in all states and running everywhere. They believe that Republicans win not because they have more money for TV ads (though they do) but because they have spent over 40 years building an institutional advantage - they have more people working, all the time, to not only elect Republicans but to sell Republican ideas. This side believes that Democrats must come across as strong, and as believing what they say. They are happy to run Progressive candidates, or Conservative candidates as long as those candidates appear to be willing to stand up for what they believe and while they want to see some self funding ability, they aren't as wedded to the candidate with the most money, if the other candidate seems to have stronger community roots and a bigger volunteer base.

Posted by Jon Stahl on July 9, 2006 at 10:46 PM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 08, 2006

Kudos to Wilson; Kudos to Cantwell

News came out earlier today that Mark Wilson will be supporting Cantwell and working actively for her campaign.  Mark relates in an email to Howie (see entire email below) that he talked with Maria one-on-one and believes that they are close enough on the Iraq War issue now that he can withdraw with a sense that the issues he cares about will be addressed and championed in the Senate.  Kudos to him for taking such a position of integrity; kudos to Cantwell for bringing him around; and kudos to whomever worked behind the scenes to bring all this together.  And I'm glad that Dal Lamagna is also going to be actively working to relect Maria; his support from the progressive side of the Democratic Party will be appreciated.

I have been gravely concerned about this election and the tear in the fabric of our unified Democratic opposition to the Bush Administration that this primary election might have engendered.  I greatly appreciate that we have the opportunity to heal our differences and unite behind Maria with the enthusiasm that will take her back to the Senate where she belongs.  As Goldy says, she is not Lieberman and Wilson was not Lamont. 

We need every seat we can get in the Senate and can not afford to lose this one to the likes of McGavick.

Here's the email that Mark Wilson sent out (compliments of Howie):

    I am deeply grateful for all your support. As I have come to get to know many of you I have discovered great treasures of the heart and a vast wealth of the spirit from which I draw hope, courage and confidence.

    Now, though, is the time for unity.

    After 16 months of campaigning in Washington State for the US Senate, I have come to terms with issues of deep conscience.
    In all consideration, my opinion is the best remedy for meeting the challenges of the future, and to be victorious, is for me to withdraw my candidacy for the US Senate and to endorse and work with Senator Maria Cantwell for re-election.

    This is not a concession. My conviction is that supporting Senator Cantwell is the surest way to winning for us all.

    I stated all along that my goal in this effort was not to run against anyone, but to run for everyone. This has been a campaign of our values. And, that the highest priority is that we Democrats retain this important seat.

    Senator Maria Cantwell is the best choice for achieving that important goal. The fact is that Senator Cantwell has time and again stood, face in the wind of adversity, and persevered on our behalf. Now is the time to get behind her and push.

    Please join me in this important effort.

    Not long ago Senator Cantwell withstood the blowing chill from the north and courageously faced down Ted Stevens from Alaska and won a critical environmental victory on ANWR.

    There have been many instances, time and again, where her character has shined. With a Democratic majority in the US Senate she will rise and shine on our behalf again and again. Of this I am sure.

    I have had a deep and personal one-on-one conversation with Senator Cantwell. I came away convinced we are on the same path when it comes to solving the crisis in Iraq and the potential crisis with Iran.

    We agree there must be no permanent American military bases in Iraq.

    We are also in agreement that every American should have access to quality health care. We could not get any further from these important goals and remedies than with an insurance executive.

    Think about it. Access to health care or an insurance executive. You can't have both.

    The Bush, Cheney, McGavick Republican policies have been tragic for the people of Washington State, for the United States and for people all around the world. It will take tremendous effort to get on course away from the rocks of the Bush, Cheney, McGavick nightmare. But, with a Democratic majority in in congress in 2006 we can do it.

    As Democrats though, we cannot merely stand upon the rubble of the Republican ruins.

    We must articulate a clear resolute vision for the future with sound policies grounded in peace, progressive renewable energy solutions, access to quality health care, true human and civil rights including LGBT equality, while protecting a woman's right to choose and fiscal responsibility.

    We must lead the way to hopeful future for our children.

    Getting Americans back to work in good paying family wage jobs that cannot be exploited overseas to the lowest common denominator is critical.

    Getting control of an out of control system is possible with instant runoff voting and clean money public funded campaigns.

    This is the foundation for fair access to serving in our communities for those whose call to service is deafened by big money in politics.

    Unlike McGavick, who is able to campaign every day, Senator Cantwell still has a full time job-- representing us. On top of her job she is campaigning. She needs our support and help to unify all progressives behind her. She asked and I've agreed to work with her to help engage her campaign with you and all progressives.

    My values and issues have not changed. My strategy has.

    I will be taking an active full-time role in Senator Cantwell's re-election campaign. I will be a constant voice for the peace and justice community, for veterans, military families and labor. We all need to be fully engaged.

    The Bush, Cheney, McGavick policies have been tragic for the world, the United States, and for us here in Washington State. Mike McGavick, whatever he might say if elected would be another vote for the Bush Administration.

    You know we cannot do this without your help. It is time for the Washington State Progressive, Peace and Justice democratic community to come together again as a family united, working for our common goals for a hopeful future with real meaning for everyone.

    United our voice has resonance and is heard. Together we will win with Team Cantwell in 2006.

    I am excited about bringing our voices forward in this campaign. I am at your service.

    Sincerely,

    Mark Wilson

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 8, 2006 at 10:22 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (6)

More on the Lieberman/Lamont Race

The primary race in Connecticut is deeply disturbing to Democratic leadership for many reasons.  Howie at Howie in Seattle has gathered together three articles - from the London Times, the Boston Globe and the Washington Note - which focus on why this race hits the leadership so hard.  Take a read. 


Posted by Lynn Allen on July 8, 2006 at 04:23 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (0)

Foreign Policy Experts: We Are Not Winning the War on Terrorism

Regular Americans are losing their faith in our government being able to protect us. "Barely half of Americans today approve of the way in which the war on terror is being handled, and more than one third believe the United States is less safe today than it was before 9/11," says a report in the reputable journal, Foreign Policy.

As well they should be. Foreign Policy and the Center for American Progress surveyed 100 people from the highest echelons of America's foreign policy establishment, people who have run America's national security apparatus over the past half century. The consensus: "They see a national security apparatus in disrepair and a government that is failing to protect the public from the next attack."

The details:

Despite today’s highly politicized national security environment, the index results show striking consensus across political party lines. A bipartisan majority (84 percent) of the index’s experts say the United States is not winning the war on terror. Eighty-six percent of the index’s experts see a world today that is growing more dangerous for Americans. Overall, they agree that the U.S. government is falling short in its homeland security efforts. More than 8 in 10 expect an attack on the scale of 9/11 within a decade. These dark conclusions appear to stem from the experts’ belief that the U.S. national security apparatus is in serious disrepair. “Foreign-policy experts have never been in so much agreement about an administration’s performance abroad,” says Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations and an index participant. “The reason is that it’s clear to nearly all that Bush and his team have had a totally unrealistic view of what they can accomplish with military force and threats of force.”

Respondents sharply criticized U.S. efforts in a number of key areas of national security, including public diplomacy, intelligence, and homeland security. Nearly all of the departments and agencies responsible for fighting the war on terror received poor marks. The experts also said that recent reforms of the national security apparatus have done little to make Americans safer. Asked about recent efforts to reform America’s intelligence community, for instance, more than half of the index’s experts said that creating the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has had no positive impact in the war against terror. “Intelligence reform so far has been largely limited to structural reorganization that in most cases produced new levels of bureaucracy in an already overly bureaucratic system,” says index participant Bill Gertz, a journalist who has covered the intelligence community for more than 20 years.

The index’s experts were similarly critical of most of the policy initiatives put forward by the U.S. Congress and President George W. Bush since September 11. Eighty-one percent, for instance, believe the detention of suspected terrorists at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, negatively affects the war on terror. The index’s experts also disapprove of how America is handling its relations with European allies, how it is confronting threatening regimes in North Korea and Iran, how it is controlling the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and its dealings with failing states, to name just a few. “We are losing the war on terror because we are treating the symptoms and not the cause,” says index participant Anne-Marie Slaughter, dean of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. “[O]ur insistence that Islamic fundamentalist ideology has replaced communist ideology as the chief enemy of our time ... feeds al Qaeda’s vision of the world.”

Where the public and the experts disagree is in the thinking about the future. The public seems to be growing tired of the war on terror. The experts believe that the battle has just begun.

Accordingly, a majority agrees that the war requires more emphasis on a victory of ideas, not just guns. That is hardly surprising, considering that nearly 80 percent believe a widespread rejection of radical ideologies in the Islamic world is a critical element to victory. To win the battle of ideas, the experts say, America must place a much higher emphasis on its nonmilitary tools. More than two thirds say that U.S. policymakers must strengthen the United Nations and other multilateral institutions. At the same time, the experts indicate that the U.S. government must think more creatively about threats. Asked what presents the single greatest danger to U.S. national security, nearly half said loose nukes and other weapons of mass destruction, while just one third said al Qaeda and terrorism, and a mere 4 percent said Iran. Five years after the attacks of September 11, it’s a reminder that the greatest challenges may still lie ahead.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 8, 2006 at 12:16 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 06, 2006

Darcy to Fill in For Reichert

Dave Reichert bowed out of an interview on KUOW (94.9) tomorrow morning from 9-10 so the station wisely asked Darcy to step in for some time in front of the mike in his place.  Dan has the story, very colorfully illustrated and written.  Begs the question - Why not just ask Darcy to fill in for Reichert for good?      

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 6, 2006 at 10:42 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (0)

Know that the Waters Around You Have Changed

There is a battle going on for the soul of the Democratic party.   The nature of that battle has gotten clearer and clearer to me over the last few days.  Maybe it was the guitar player singing Bob Dylan tunes last night at the tavern I was at with some fellow bloggers.  Or the patriotic stirrings that seeped into my unconscious between romping with the kids,  eating grilled burgers,  talking with beloved family and watching fireworks over the fourth.   I have been thinking about lot about what is going on, specifically with the Democrats.  The Republicans are pretty hopeless.  The Democratic Party is what we have to work with to take our country back. 

I have been paying attention to the build-up and follow-up to this evening's debate between Senator Lieberman and his Democratic opponent, Ned Lamont, favorite of the netroots.  Kos has a list of the Senators who have said they will support whoever wins the Connecticut primary, the savvy Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama amongst them, and the Senators who have said that they will support Lieberman, even if he is running against the winner of the Democratic primary, including Chuck Shumer of the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee.  The Democratic establishment, the people most reluctant to give their power and influence, are on the defensive.  They have all sorts of reasons I'm sure.  Barbara Boxer, is inexplicably supporting Joe.   It's not cut and dried as to ideology.  But it is cut and dried as to who gets how important it is.   

This has to be a come-to-Jesus moment for the Democratic Party folks in Connecticut and, as Markos keeps saying, one for traditional Democratic establishment folks around the country. We mean business.  We are asking for democracy in the Democratic Party, asking for clarity that the winner of a Democratic primary will indeed be the person who gets the full support of the Party.  We like Ned and we don't particularly like Joe but there is more to it.  We don't want our own Diebold problem.

In this state, we have issues of transparency and competence in the Party.  I have been reading emails that have been sent around to Party members regarding concern about decisions or perhaps non-decisions made at the Convention in Yakima.  I was not at the convention but I did hear that some were frustrated at the lack of time that challengers to Cantwell received and, more uniformly,  that the discussion on the platform was not handled well.  It was terminated too early for some and took way too long for others.  There is concern about the immigration plank and possibly about the choice plank.  More importantly, there is concern about the process that the Party used to wrap up loose ends and make decisions.   Some folks would like to set it all aside for now in favor of concentrating on the upcoming elections.  Others are concerned that decisions are not being made in the ways they were represented to be made.  Some just want to try to figure out how to do it better in 2008, others want to begin the transparency now, clarifying what needs to happen now and taking the time to really prepare for the next time around. 

As far as I can tell, everyone is being respectful in their communications.  But it is a tremendously important issue and one that should probably  be aired out more.  The way that the Party deals with this, and particularly with the new people coming in with energy and a sense of doing things efficiently and effectively, will determine how relevant it is in the future.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 6, 2006 at 10:19 PM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (0)

Attacking bus rapid transit won’t get light rail built

As momentum builds for the Metro Transit Now! proposal, pro-transit, as well as traditional foes are attacking bus rapid transit (BRT), as a poor investment and as inferior to light rail. 

I’m a huge fan of rail, and I strongly support building new light rail lines rail from downtown Seattle to the Eastside and to Northgate with the 2007 Sound Transit Phase 2.  But my support for new rail is in no way in place of my support for BRT.

Critics attack the Transit Now! proposal as not “real” rapid transit, and criticize Metro for not having a good plan.  Metro’s new RapidRide routes will work when the cities partner with Metro to create bus only lanes, traffic light priority and pre-paid platforms to allow for quick boarding.  The extra long buses have up to five doors that can be fully utilized when the pre-paid bus stops are used.

The key issue here is the importance of creating transit corridors in this region.  New rail lines take time, and a major capital investment.  RapidRide routes can be implemented quickly and will improve mobility for major areas of King County.  Metro, and King County Executive Ron Sims are smart to include the RapidRide routes as part of a critical investment in new transit service.

Cross Posted on Urban Transit

Posted by EzraBasom on July 6, 2006 at 05:58 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (3)

Revolutionary Philanthropy: Providing Micro-Loans on the Cheap

Kiva.org offers regular folks the opportunity to lend small amounts of money to the working poor around the world.  And you get your money back at the end.  John S. Johnson had a post up on Huffington Post last week building on the Warren Buffett donation theme.  He says there are now many organizations doing this but singles out Kiva.org as being amongst the best: 

Founded by Matthew and Jessica Flannery in 2004, and inspired by the transformations they saw successful small business bring to poor rural communities, Kiva.org was conceived as a way to let average income individuals lend small amounts of money to the working poor -- anywhere. Now, with a small but talented team that leverages the Internet and a network of microfinance institutions to allow individuals to loan as little as $25 to a low-income entrepreneur in the developing world, Kiva has channeled more than $200,000 with a payback success rate of 100% to date. What makes this especially important is that capital from from people (versus banks) is fundamentally cheaper and more risk tolerant. Why? Because people value an emotional return; banks do not. People also have lower cost structures than banks (brick and mortar branches, brand building, etc). Aggregating loan capital directly from people, via the Internet, results in very affordable risk capital for small microfinance institutions worldwide. Today, there are about 10,000 microfinance institutions worldwide and they reach about 10% of the working poor. The other 90% either have no access to working capital, or if there's access, it is at an exorbitantly high interest rate (~100% - ~1000% from the village money lender). Clearly, existing microfinance institutions need to expand and new ones need to form in order to reach the other 90%. A major growth constraint for new microfinance institutions -- many with social missions and limited operating histories -- is access to affordable risk capital. Kiva.org's 'people powered' capital, thanks in part to free payment processing from Paypal, are at zero interest when they reach the microfinance institution. This new risk capital allows the microfinance institution to reach more of the working poor in their communities and lower the final interest rate to the working poor.

I personally have been looking for just this type of program for many years - an easy way to help promote micro-lending, the program that seems most capable of assisting poor folk out to start a business and work their way out of poverty.  I appreciate this information.      

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 6, 2006 at 10:12 AM in Taking Action | Permalink | Comments (0)

Walk the Walk - Become a Democratic PCO

If you've been thinking about talking to your neighbors about the state of this country and the need to elect Democrats, now is the time to jump in.  If you've been talking about reforming the Democratic party but haven't been able to bring yourself to do it, now is the time to jump in.  Applications to run on the September primary ballot for Precinct Committee Officer (PCO) are now available. These need to be completed and turned-in to the County Auditor no later than 4:30pm on Friday, July 28 with the filing fee of $1.  Rob Dolin, Communications Vice-Chair of the King County Democrats, has provided a handy link to a pdf document that can be printed out and mailed in. 

PCO's are the key grassroots leaders in the Democratic party.  PCO's distribute Democratic campaign literature to their neighbors befor the primary and general elections and also meet for the Legislative District and County re-organization meetings after the general elections in even-numbered years.  Training on how to do it will be provided.  It is an elected position so you will be running for office and your name will be on the ballot in the September 19th primary election  If you are interested in learning more about becoming a PCO and about what PCO's do, check this out.

We are in the midst of a reformation of the Democratic party in this nation - and the future of this country depends on being successful in this effort.  The Washington State Democratic party believes it is one of the best in the country.  For those of you who have attended a party meeting, especially one of the larger meetings, that is a scary proposition.  The meetings are run very badly and waste a lot of people's time without allowing and enabling good discussions about real issues.  New people often feel left out and feel like their ideas and contributions are not valued.   

Although they are undoubted better than they used to be and the folks in the Party are more open to  change than they were in the past, there is still a tremendous amount that needs to be done to make the Party in this state viable.  So, rather than whine, get into the fray.  Those folks who are working for change need you to be there, assisting that change.  Becoming a PCO is step one.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 6, 2006 at 10:04 AM in Taking Action | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 05, 2006

Free Movie

Washington Public Campaign is showing "The Big Buy: Tom DeLay's Stolen Congress" this Sunday at Trinity United Methodist Church in Ballard.  This is a feature-length documentary, telling the story of Delay's manipulation of redistricting in Texas, illegally using corporate funds - for which he has now been indicted and forced to step down from Congress.   It's worth seeing.    You will of course be encouraged to join and/or contribute to WPC's campaign in Washington State to get full public financing of elections, something similar to what Arizona and Maine already do, quite successfully but it is not necessary.  Come, and tell your friends.  RSVP here. 

Trinity United Methodist Church is located at 6512 23rd NW in Ballard. 

If you can't make it this Sunday, there will another showing of it On Tuesday, August 15th at 7:15 at the Phinney Neighborhood Center, along with a video narrated by Bill  Moyers on the same topic. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 5, 2006 at 11:01 AM in Policy, Taking Action | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wal-Mart Voters Flee Republican Party

Pollster John Zogby finds that people who shop at Wal-Mart are turning on the president.  Ryan Sager has a piece at Real Clear Politics discussing the shift. 

Zogby finds that while 85 percent of frequent Wal-Mart shoppers voted for President Bush's reelection in 2004 (and 88 percent of people who never shop there voted for Sen. John Kerry), Wal-Mart voters have turned on the president dramatically. In a poll taken earlier this month, they gave Bush a 35 percent approval rating -- compared to a 45 percent positive rating from born-again Christians, 49 percent from NASCAR fans, and 54 percent from self-identified conservatives.

Most worrying for the GOP: Fifty-one percent of Wal-Mart voters agreed with the statement that it's "time for the Democrats to take over and run" Congress -- as opposed to just 31 percent who think "Republicans deserve to retain control."

I often respond to the Zogby on-line polls and I've always wondered about the ever-present "How often do you shop at Wal-Mart?" question.  Now I get it.  Apparently weekly Wal--Mart shoppers make up 1/5 of the U.S. population. 

Sager links what Zogby is doing, in tracking these voters, with the Pew Research Center's identification of a "Populist" voter bloc as one of the three voter blocs that have consistently made up the conservative movement (along with what they call the "Laissez Faire Economic Conservative" and the "Social Conservative").  They define this group as "largely Southern, rural, lower-middle-class, female, socially conservative -- not big fans of tax cuts, but huge fans of government programs".   These are the folks we mean when we wail, "Why do these folks vote against their own economic interests?"  Looks like they may be coming home.  More from the Zogby polls:

But this year, voters are fed up with the war in Iraq, and other than that they're focused on the economy, immigration, health care and gas prices. None of this cuts in favor of the GOP with the Wal-Mart set. Wal-Mart voters are giving Democrats a 6-point edge as to who's better equipped to handle foreign policy, an 18 percent edge on health care and a 25 percent edge on gas prices (the parties are dead-even among Wal-Mart voters on the economy and immigration). What's more, moral values hardly rate as an issue this year, for any voting bloc.

Wal-Mart voters are simply not a viable, reliable conservative constituency. When Pew looked at the opinions of those pro-government conservatives in a 2005 study, it found that 94 percent favor a higher minimum wage, 63 percent favor the government guaranteeing health care to all citizens, and fewer than half favor drilling in ANWR. What's worst: more than half of pro-government conservatives held positive views of both Bill and Hillary Clinton.

I'm guessing that if the Democrats could figure out how to truly appeal to these "Wal-Mart Voters" and also single women (probably a fair overlap, now that I think about it, despite the photo that goes with this piece), we would be home free for a generation.


Posted by Lynn Allen on July 5, 2006 at 08:20 AM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 04, 2006

A July 4th Inspiration

I've been short on patriotic inspiration this year but found some in listening to Wes Clark remind us of who we are as a nation.  Take a listen to his 4th of July message.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 4, 2006 at 07:47 AM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 03, 2006

Goldy, The Shock(ingly Good) Jock

I finally managed to catch David Goldstein's radio show last night.   Gotta say, I think he did a great job. 

Holy cow, KIRO's website sure is awful, though.  (Don't ask, my stereo doesn't seem to get AM reception these days, probably because it has no AM antenna.  Michael, did you steal it for my own protection or something?)

Posted by Jon Stahl on July 3, 2006 at 11:39 PM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kyle Taylor Lucas: Sheldon-Slayer?

Can Kyle Taylor Lucas defeat DINO Tim Sheldon in the 35th District?  I don't know, and neither does the Seattle Times, but it sure wouldn't hurt to donate a few dollars to her to help out.  We need all our Democrats in the State Senate to, you know, be Democrats.

Posted by Jon Stahl on July 3, 2006 at 11:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

$450,000 to Study Blogs

As part of the war on terror, the Air Force is putting up $450,000 to study blogs.  The illustrious journal, Foreign Policy, in an article by Kyle Spector on their blog, has an exerpt of what has been learned so far:

Blog entries have a different structure," Ulicny said. "They are typically short and are about something external to the blog posting itself, such as a news event. It's not uncommon for a blogger to simply state, 'I can't believe this happened,' and then link to a news story."

Hm.  I can think of far better ways to spend that money related to blogs.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 3, 2006 at 11:28 PM in Media | Permalink | Comments (2)

Naming Names: Whistleblowers' Dirty Dozen

Larry Johnson, former CIA Agent and one of the great Speak-Truth-To-Power folks of our generation, has a post up at Booman Tribune on behalf of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition. 

The National Security Whistleblowers Coalition National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), founded in August 2004, is an independent and nonpartisan alliance of whistleblowers who have come forward to address our nation's security weaknesses; to inform authorities of security vulnerabilities in our intelligence agencies, at nuclear power plants and weapon facilities, in airports, and at our nation's borders and ports; to uncover government waste, fraud, abuse, and in some cases criminal conduct. The NSWBC is dedicated to aiding national security whistleblowers through a variety of methods, including advocacy of governmental and legal reform, educating the public concerning whistleblowing activity, provision of comfort and fellowship to national security whistleblowers suffering retaliation and other harms, and working with other public interest organizations to affect goals defined in the NSWBC mission statement.

Johnson says that the NSWBC has identified a dozen members of Congress who "by their action or inaction, have stood against real investigations, hearings, and legislation dealing with government whistleblowers who have exposed fraud, waste, abuse, and/or criminal activities within government agencies. These representatives of the People are not only standing against whistleblowers, but against the public's right to know, effective oversight, accountability, and ultimately against the democratic processes that underpin our society ".

The dirty dozen are:

Senator Hillary Clinton Democrat - New York Armed Services Committee
Senator Mike DeWine Republican - Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee
Rep. David Dreier  Republican - California House Rules Committee
Rep. Dennis Hastert Republican - Illinois Speaker of the House
Senator Orrin Hatch Republican - Utah Republican-Senate Judiciary Committee
Rep. Peter Hoekstra Republican- Michigan Committee on Intelligence
Senator Jon Kyl Republican - Arizona- Senate Judiciary Committee
Senator Joseph Lieberman Connecticut Democrat- Homeland Security Committee
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger- Maryland Democrat Gov. Reform Committee
Senator Rick Santorum- Pennsylvania Republican Senate Finance Committee
Rep. James Sensenbrenner - Wisconsin  House Judiciary Committee
Rep. Mark Souder- Republican - Indiana Gov. Reform Committee

Here's more: 

We, the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, together with whistleblower members of our partner coalitions, consider it our duty to advise Americans of these representatives' collusion with government and private interests to the detriment of the People. Our position is based on our concern for our nation's security, for accountable government, and the People's Right to Know what their representatives and government are doing in their name, all of which depend on vigorous congressional oversight. Our stand is not based on any political ideology or party – our coalition members include Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Independents. We do not ask you to vote for or against these individuals; nor do we ask you to choose a particular candidate over another. All we ask is that before you decide, you consider the true positions of these representatives with regard to their lack of candor or courage on core issues that matter to our country's well-being. Over the years, time and again we have informed these representatives about illegal government actions, agency fraud, and lying to Congress by administrators and bureaucrats. Yet these representatives have consistently refused to take any action and have instead betrayed the People they have taken an oath to serve. We hope that by appealing directly to the American people, we can help bring about needed reforms, since we have proven unsuccessful in our appeals to the following representatives.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 3, 2006 at 11:07 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

As Compared to this Guy

Dave Reichert Receives a "F" for Consistently Voting against Middle Class.  That's the headline that CoolAqua gives us as he reports on the grade that the Drum Major Institute, an organization that tracks the impact of legislation on the middle class, gives Dave Reichert for consistently voting against the middle class.  Here's what CoolAqua says:

Unsure about what "voting against the middle class" is?  Here's an example that you may find close to home.  Take a look at the back of your next credit card statement.  Notice the clause that allows your interest rate to be raised to around 30% if you pay late.  Note that there's no follow on sentence that outlines conditions wherein your interest rate will be lowered back down.  This is legalized loan sharking, a GOP payback to the credit card industry for helping keep them in power.    And who voted to pass this new legalized Loan Sharking?  That would be Dave Reichert.  So  if you paid your credit card bill late, and are now being charged an exorbitant interest rate as a result, just remember it as "Dave Reichert's Credit Card Tax".

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 3, 2006 at 11:31 AM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (0)

What Being a Parent Means to Darcy

How do I give this little creature the best possible world?  That's the question Darcy asked herself after her son, Henry, was born 3 years ago.  In an interview with Tracy Russo that was posted on the DNC blog a few days, among other questions, Tracy asked Darcy what made her decide to run.  I was quite taken with Darcy's reply:

Well after my son was born, I did what a lot of new parents do; I took a step back and said how do I give this helpless little creature the best possible world? I asked the normal questions everyone asks, ‘What do I feed him?’, ‘What school should he go to’? ‘Does he need a nap?’. I was responsible for giving him a better life and the more I looked at it there was no way to give him the kind of life I wanted him to have by just my individual decisions.

Our country was headed so much in the wrong direction that I decided we had to change the direction of the country. So then the question becomes, ‘How do we change the direction of the country?’ and I came to the conclusion that I had to give 100 percent of myself to make it happen. I knew we had to take back the House and that we needed 15 seats to do it and I believe it is going to take Washington State to make that happen. This is a critical junction and something I can do to make a difference.

As I write this, I am watching my 2 and a half year old niece, Nadia, jump up and down in her chair between bites of waffle.  "Look at me, Lynnie, look at me," she says.  That Darcy is thinking about my niece's future as well as the future of her son makes me puddle up.

Everyone in my family has upped their level of involvement in politics in the time since my niece was born.  We may well have done it anyway, given the truly awful governing we've been subjected to in this time.  But I know that thinking about Nadia's future has contributed to our sense of need to take our country back. 

But Darcy kicked up her level of involvement a way big notch over what most of the rest of us have done.  This is in keeping with who Darcy is and what she has already done in her life.    This is a woman who thinks ahead, who thinks big about what she can do.

One of the stories that Darcy occasionally tells about her own childhood illustrates this.  She says that she really wanted a computer when she was 12 years old.  After many pleas to her parents, Darcy got a computer for Christmas.  But her parents did not have much money and there was no software with the computer.  So Darcy, at age 12, wrote the code that would enable her to use her computer for writing.  No wonder she later got a National Merit Scholarship to attend Harvard.  And so on.  She is an extraordinary woman and we will be thrilled when she is one of our representatives to Congress. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 3, 2006 at 11:23 AM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 02, 2006

Upcoming Growth in the Blogs

At YearlyKos, I heard Chris Bowers of MyDD twice say he thinks the growth in the blogosphere is likely to taper off.  I firmly believe he is wrong.  (He does too.  The second time he muttered something like, "I just don't want to be disappointed.") I think that the growth will come in older, political astute readers who have not yet or are just now discovering the blogs as a source of news, equal to or better than the traditional media.  These are people who have mostly believed the nonsense about the blogs propagating inaccurate information.  These are people who want their country back, as Howard Dean would say.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a Gathering with about 35 politically astute women, my age and older, almost all of whom were not familiar with the blogs in any serious way.  I spent an hour with about a dozen of them, giving them a tour through the liberal political blogs.  They were astounded at the information that was available.  One woman said, "I'm cancelling all my subscriptions to newspapers".  Several others thanked me profusely for showing them a place where they could get the kind of news they want.

I am about to attend - I hate to say it - my 40th High School reunion and I expect that few of those folks read the blogs regularly.  I hope I am wrong but I doubt it.  Just in the last few weeks, as some of us have been contacting each other to see who is going, etc., I've been talking to several people I consider the most politically sympatico.  Same thing.  Very little use of and awareness of the blogs.  I suspect they think I am nuts to spend the time I do reading and writing on the blogs.  But I also suspect that some of them will start using the blogs more as well.

Over the last year, I've spent a bit of time in the offices of elected Democrats and their staff, showing them the blogs.  I helped organize the Bloggers-Legislative forum last January where the bloggers, and two of the only legislators who understood the blogs at the time, spoke about what the bloggers offer the Democratic electeds in terms of support and ability to influence the media.  Since then, several more legislators have begun blogging.  Also, since then, David Goldstein at Horsesass.org has instituted regular Tuesday podcasting from Drinking Liberally and then begun his wonderful Sunday evening show on KIRO, both of which often bring together bloggers and Democratic electeds.  YearlyKos received enormous media coverage.  David Postman, political writer of the Seattle Times, has taken up blogging and often highlights one or the other of what us non-paid bloggers say.   

With all this, more and more folks will be getting their news from the blogs, taking advantage of the incredible reporting and digging and sifting and commenting that we all do.  That's great.  But it's just a vehicle for us - the netroots and grassroots together - to rebuild our democracy.  Watch for much, much more of that over the next year.  There are a lot of very cool things about the burst upon the political scene here in this state as a result of the budding coalition amongst bloggers, the more progressive Democratic electeds, progressive organizations and the politically astute who are hankering to become politically active.  That's what this is all about.   

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 2, 2006 at 10:57 AM in Media | Permalink | Comments (2)

Calling Bush on the Carpet

The Hamden Decision was probably the big news of the week.  Eugene Robinson of the WAPO had a great article that laid out the implications of the decision:

It seemed almost too much to hope for, but the Supreme Court finally called George W. Bush onto the carpet yesterday and asked him the obvious question: What part of "rule of law" do you not understand?

The justices rejected the kangaroo-court tribunals the administration had planned for the detainees who have been held for years without charges at Guantanamo Bay -- proceedings engineered to have the appearance of due process but not the substance. The ruling is a complicated, nuanced set of concurrences and dissents that will take some time to fully digest, but the fundamental message is clear: Despite his outrageous claims of virtually unlimited presidential power, the self-proclaimed Decider doesn't get to decide everything.

"Congress has not issued the Executive a 'blank check,' " Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his opinion. Has anyone broken the news to poor Dick Cheney?

<snip>

Perhaps the greatest impact of the 185-page ruling is that it rejects Bush's claim that the necessity of waging the "global war on terror" gives him extraordinary powers that lie beyond the jurisdiction of the courts. The ruling reminds him of "the court's duty, in both peace and war, to preserve the constitutional safeguards of civil liberty."

The NYT, in an article written by Linda Greenhouse and others, chimed in with a couple good observations as well:

The decision was such a sweeping and categorical defeat for the Bush administration that it left human rights lawyers who have pressed this and other cases on behalf of Guantanamo detainees almost speechless with surprise and delight, using words like “fantastic,” “amazing,” “remarkable.” Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a public interest law firm in New York that represents hundreds of detainees, said, “It doesn’t get any better.”

<snip>

In the courtroom on Thursday morning, the chief justice sat silently in his center chair as Justice Stevens, sitting to his immediate right as the senior associate justice, read from the majority opinion. It made for a striking tableau on the final day of the first term of the Roberts court: the young chief justice, observing his work of just a year earlier taken apart point by point by the tenacious 86-year-old Justice Stevens, winner of a Bronze Star for his service as a Navy officer during World War II.

However, I think it's worth noting that this decision also makes it clear how close we are to a shift on the Supreme Court.  Had Chief Justice Roberts been able to vote on this case, the vote would have undoubtedly 5-4.  This comment from reader Mack at Firedoglake says it all:

One more Supreme appointment could tip the balance.
I see no cause for jubilation.
What I see is the the ante upped for the next SCOTUS appointment.
The Constitution literally hangs on that thread.
2008 cannot come soon enough for me.

As a reminder, we here in Washington State will have a lot to say about whether the Democrats are in a position to block Bush's next Supreme Court nomination.  Support Maria.   

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 2, 2006 at 09:34 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday Funnies

Howie Martin at Howie in Seattle says that we can't count on the traditional media to report what we need to hear and give us what we need to see.  I think he's correct and it is up to us to find and report the news that will allow us to rebuild our democracy.  He regularly passes along great pieces for the rest of us to  use as well, a great service.  He also monitors our local and the national blogs regularly and shares what we write.  He's more consistent about doing that than anyone else and I greatly appreciate it. 

Along that line, Howie put up this great YouTube videoclip about the Bush attack on the NYT. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 2, 2006 at 09:23 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)