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April 30, 2007

John Edwards Chose Seattle

Edwards is doing a bunch of events in Seattle and Everett tomorrow but he is in this area because he chose to be interviewed by Labor in Seattle and he chose to be interviewed tomorrow.  Every Democrat running for President is being interviewed in the next month or so as part of an AFL-CIO process to select a candidate to back.  Obama will be in Trenton, N.J.; Clinton will be in Detroit and so on.

The M.L. King County Labor Council, AFL-CIO is hosting a Union Member Town Hall meeting featuring Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards at Noon on Tuesday, May 1 at the Aerospace Machinists in Seattle.  This is not open to the public.  Labor families were invited to attend and ask questions which will be posed by three panelists to John Edwards. 

Pretty cool idea.  I like the way that labor is building on previous experience to really leverage their power.  This first set of interviews is part of an intense six-month effort "to engage union members and their families in the AFL-CIO’s presidential endorsement decision-making process". Then the national union will decide whether they want to back someone or not.  They have asked that individual unions not endorse a candidate until this decision has been made.  AND they will have a website that will be tracking how folks respond to the various candidates and their stands.

AND: if you're in a John Edwards kind of mood, last week his campaign put out quite a nifty video-clip of him talking about his background and where he grew up.  It's called "Mill Village Kids"

Posted by Lynn Allen on April 30, 2007 at 11:16 PM in Candidate Races, National and International Politics, Strategery | Permalink | Comments (1)

George Tenet Has No Integrity

Former CIA director George Tenet went on CBS' 60 MInutes Sunday evening and spewed his bitterness and vitriol all over the place. What he didn't do was take even an ounce of responsibility for the seminal role he played in the Invasion of Iraq. He offered phony apologies for the mistaken claims about Saddam's possession of WMD's, but mostly he just blamed everyone under the sun for the disaster our government has created in the Middle East, and the subsequent rise in terror attacks all across the globe. Then he bullied the interviewer, Scott Pelley, for 30 minutes. And he lied. He lied about the operating policy of torture that the Bush mob has been engaging in, is still engaging in, and continually glosses over with Orwellian phrases like "enhanced interrogation techniques" and "extraordinary rendition". Pelley tried hard to nail him on the secret prisons and the torture techniques. Tenet's response was a bunch of crap.

"The image that's been portrayed is, we sat around the campfire and said, 'Oh boy, now we go get to torture people." Well, we don't torture people. Let me say that again to you. We don't torture people. Okay?" Tenet says.

"Come on, George," Pelley says.

"We don't torture people," Tenet maintains.

""Khalid Sheikh Mohammad?" Pelley asks.

"We don't torture people," Tenet says.

"Water boarding?" Pelley asks.

"We do not -- I don't talk about techniques," Tenet replies.

"It's torture," Pelley says.

Good for Pelley. Notice that when he asks specifically about water boarding -- the process in which a prisoner is blindfolded, mouth covered with a cloth, held down horizontally and forced to endure buckets of water poured over the entire head, to simulate drowning -- Tenet catches himself in the middle of his talking point to say "I don't talk about techniques". That's where his entire performance falls apart, because everyone knows that water boarding is, indeed, considered torture. It's why the Geneva Conventions outlaw it. You remember the "quaint" Geneva Conventions that the pathetically incompetent Alberto Gonzales referred to at a Congressional hearing. Speaking of Gonzales: A group of high-ranking former intelligence officials sent a letter to Tenet on Saturday, basically telling him that he is so full of raw sewage he reeks -- and then they compare him to Gonzales.

You showed a lack of leadership and courage in January of 2003 as the Bush Administration pushed and cajoled analysts and managers to let them make the bogus claim that Iraq was on the verge of getting its hands on uranium.   You signed off on Colin Powell's presentation to the United Nations.  And, at his insistence, you sat behind him and visibly squandered CIA's most precious asset—credibility."   

You may now feel you were bullied and victimized but you were also one of the bullies.  In the end you allowed suspect sources, like Curveball, to be used based on very limited reporting and evidence.  Yet you were informed in no uncertain terms that Curveball was not reliable.  You broke with CIA standard practice and insisted on voluminous evidence to refute this reporting rather than treat the information as suspect.  You helped set the bar very low for reporting that supported favored White House positions, while raising the bar astronomically high when it came to raw intelligence that did not support the case for war being hawked by the president and vice president.

It now turns out that you were the Alberto Gonzales of the intelligence community--a grotesque mixture of incompetence and sycophancy shielded by a genial personality.  Decisions were made, you were in charge, but you have no idea how decisions were made even though you were in charge.  Curiously, you focus your anger on the likes of Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, and Condi Rice, but you decline to criticize the President.

They forcefully request that he donate half the proceeds from his book to the families of the Iraq War casualties. He won't do it, of course, because he is too busy seeking revenge against whoever leaked his legendary "slam dunk" proclamation to Bob Woodward. But just like Colin Powell, who could and should have stopped the insanity before the invasion ever took place, he is working to burnish his image. And just like Powell, he won't succeed. They are both damaged goods. But at least they're still alive -- unlike the 3,350 dead American soldiers and the 650,000 dead Iraqis. 

Posted by shoephone on April 30, 2007 at 01:39 AM in Iraq, Media, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

April 29, 2007

Bill Moyers Interviews Jon Stewart

Be sure to check out Bill Moyer's interview of Jon Stewart this past week:

Nobody is saying that, "9/11 didn't happen." What they're saying is, "We're not a fragile country, trust us to have this conversation, so that we can do this in the right way, in a more effective way."


You know, one of the things that I do think government counts on is that people are busy. And it's very difficult to mobilize a busy and relatively affluent country, unless it's over really crucial-- you know, foundational issues. That come sort of sort of a tipping point.


That the President says, "We are in the fight for a way of life. This is the greatest battle of our generation, and of the generations to come. "And, so what I'm going to do is you know, Iraq has to be won, or our way of life ends, and our children and our children's children all suffer. So, what I'm gonna do is send 10,000 more troops to Baghdad."

So, there's a disconnect there between — you're telling me this is fight of our generation, and you're going to increase troops by 10 percent. And that's gonna do it.

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Posted by Jeff on April 29, 2007 at 07:43 PM in Interviews | Permalink | Comments (0)

Vesely at Seattle Times Tries to Change the Subject

James Vesely, who, as moderator of the Burner-Reichert debate last October, repeatedly scolded the audience for expressing their approval of Burner, now scolds all of Seattle's citizens for paying too much attention to corruption at the Port of Seattle. In his latest diatribe against transparency and accountability, Vesely whines and moans that while Seattleites engage in stupid and "trivial" matters like getting the Port to clean up its act, British Columbia is going to surpass us in port business! Those clever Canuks are committing $3 million to improvements of their highways, rail and border systems -- instead of wasting time and attention on public corruption and schemes to steal more taxpayer dollars for personal gain. Well, maybe they don't have a greedy scoundrel like Mic Dinsmore, or an aider and abettor like Pat Davis, in their port system. But Vesely's playing the "pay no attention to that man behind the curtain" song and, unfortunately, his rendition is not very convincing.

All this suggests that while Port salaries and Port machinations are titillating, they are largely symbolic — and trivial — to the larger questions about who will direct Port policy and in what direction with both the property tax and the competition from abroad.

Yoshitani on Thursday said he could not think of "a business model that might work for both Tacoma and the Port of Seattle" — although you would have to start with the easy equation that Seattle has the brand name and Tacoma has the land.

While we debate the local and the obvious, the world is moving on significant new routes across the Pacific and would just love to eat our bacon.

Gee. If Vesely's right then... does that mean that Port CEO Yoshitani and Port Commission President Creighton don't know how to walk and chew gum at the same time? 'Cause I just have this funny feeling that they possess the abilities, experience and smarts to do both the walking and the chewing -- and a whole lot more besides. My only doubts are reserved for the crotchety old fart at the Seattle Times.

Posted by shoephone on April 29, 2007 at 01:05 AM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (2)

April 28, 2007

Dinsmore is Completely Full of... *%#!

It's very interesting that the Seattle Times was able to suddenly get hold of emails and "notes" regarding Mic Dinsmore's golden parachute, when it's Kristin Millares Bolt, from the Seattle P.I., who's been the intrepid reporter on this unfolding story. Even more interesting, Port spokesman Mick Schultz said he doesn't know how Dinsmore's personal notes got into the file in the first place. This clearly implies that the "notes" -- supposedly written in January and June of 2006 -- didn't make it into the file until very recently. From those "notes", according to the Times:

"I am to receive 2 weeks for every year of service (40+ weeks.). I also informed him [Port commissioner Bob Edwards] we have been quite liberal in our application" of the HR10 policy, wrote Dinsmore in his notes from the June 8 meeting.

More reference to "liberal" applications of the Port's severance policies. (I'd like to see names, dates and dollar amounts for those other retired employees that received the severances.) He then goes on to write that Edwards said all the commissioners had already agreed to those terms, but Edwards told the Times he doesn't agree with the way Dinsmore characterized the meetings. This is the first time Edwards has directly contradicted Dinsmore's claim, previously leaving the heavy lifting to fellow commissioners Hara, Creighton and Fisken. According to Dinsmore's "notes", he and the commissioners came up with talking points about how to announce his departure:

We discussed how we all will talk about it in a positive, constructive way. It's solely my choice. All should be credited for tremendous growth and success.

Look through the notes, one page each per meeting, and see if you don't agree they look like they were written up at the last minute -- say, in the last week. Considering that Schultz said he doesn't know how they got into the file...  and only one of the two meetings is dated (June 8). "January 2006" appears nowhere. Then there's this, from an email exchange between Dinsmore and HR manager, David Henderson:

A "confidential draft" schedule attached to the email adds that while being paid for the 40 weeks of "paid time off", Dinsmore also would accrue 285 extra hours of unused "extended illness" time. At the end,"... you would have 400 hours of extended illness for which you would receive a lump sum payment of 50% on your final paycheck on April 4, 2008."

That's a parachute that's golden, ruby, sterling silver and square-cut diamond all in one. But the request raised red flags when current CEO Yoshitani, his deputy, and the Port's general counsel realized the agreement hadn't received proper authorization. Henderson says he was "in the dark" about what was going on. But the icing on the cake is the pdf of Pat Davis' memo to Dinsmore, dated October 10, 2006, where she refers to his severance package and includes the following:

Human Resources and Development staff will be available to meet with you and explain benefit choices you have. During this transition I will be available to answer any questions you may have, or you may contact any member of the Human Resources and Development Team.

(emphasis mine)

Why was Davis nominating herself to be the only answering machine on the commission? Why not Edwards, or Creighton, or... Yes, she was still the commission's president, but could it really be because Davis was the only commissioner who knew about the golden parachute? The document has Davis' signature at the top, and at the bottom, Dinsmore's signature. But in the space provided for dating the document, Dinsmore did not date it. I guess somebody was in a real hurry to take the money and run. None of the other commissioners' signatures are on the document.

Looks to me like a whole lotta funny pieces of information crammed together in a file, some legit, some not, and setting off piercing alarms all over the Port of Seattle. At this point, the citizens can be thankful that Dinsmore isn't getting his package deal. But watching him and Davis scrambling to cover their tracks is where the real news, and the real corruption, lies. Like.a.rug.

Posted by shoephone on April 28, 2007 at 02:15 AM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (3)

April 27, 2007

My new Daily Show News blog

If I could do a little late-night self-promotion, please check out my new blog on The Daily Show. There's regular coverage of the show, Daily Show clips, upcoming schedules, links to author's books, et al. I'm also looking for more contributors. So, drop me a note if you're interested.

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Posted by Jeff on April 27, 2007 at 12:39 AM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Sony Cybershot Pays Tribute to HorsesAss and "Zoo"

I can't tell if Sony's new Cybershot advertisement "Your Father is not a horses behind" is a Northwest tribute to David Goldstein's blog (is that Tim Eyman at the end of the ad?) or a well-timed tie-in to Charles Mudede's Zoo. You tell me...watch the ad

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Posted by Jeff on April 27, 2007 at 12:37 AM in Miscellany, Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (3)

April 25, 2007

Karl Rove, the White House and Those RNC Email Accounts

Think Progress.org posts the letter that the Republican National Committee sent to Congressman Henry Waxman, listing the names of 37 White House employees using RNC email instead of White House email. The organization claims the total includes 50 people and that more names will be forthcoming.

In addition to Karl Rove's use of the RNC email address, it's expected that a few people in his Office of Political Affairs, sheltered snugly inside the White House, are also on that list. In fact, the letter shows 36 names plus one lone entry that reads "OPA intern". I doubt that Waxman will let that person's anonymity fly. There may be concerns about divulging the name of a White House intern -- especially one under the age of 18, and after the Foley sex scandal -- but it's the OPA that's at the bottom of current White House scandals. So, interns aside, I'll be highly suspect if Glynda Becker's name isn't on the revised list. She's the former Rove assistant who oversaw the political goings-on in the western states. That position made her the go-to gal for the WA State GOP's complaints (and, on occasion, threats) with regard to fired US Attorney John McKay. Becker acted as the liason between the cabal of Vance/ McCabe/ Williams/ Hastings and the interested parties in both Rove's and Gonzales' offices.

Posted by shoephone on April 25, 2007 at 11:45 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bill Moyers is Back

Must Watch TV - This Evening.  Bill Moyers begins a new PBS program with what looks to be an incredible show this evening.  Moyers interviews a bunch of high powered journalists on how and why did the press bought the administration propaganda?

9:00 this evening.  KUOW. 

And it looks like this show, Bill Moyers Journal, will continue weekly.  Yeah!

Posted by Lynn Allen on April 25, 2007 at 11:58 AM in Media, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

Online Poll - Vote Darcy - $$ to Campaign

Democracy for America has a poll up, asking folks who come to their site to vote for the first 2008 candidate that will get DfA support.  This is worth a lot of money to Darcy's campaign.  We are in the second and final round with only three candidates left and the poll is open only through today.

Please vote for Darcy.  As a bonus, DfA allows you to register and then NOT get email from them.

Posted by Lynn Allen on April 25, 2007 at 09:30 AM in Candidate Races, Taking Action | Permalink | Comments (0)

Recall Petition Filed Against Pat Davis

With some huge feeds by the P.I.'s Kristin Millares Bolt, the Northwest blogs are carrying the ball forward on the Port of Seattle's latest debacle involving Davis and Dinsmore. Lynn did a great job summarizing what happened at the Port Commissioner's meeting Tuesday.

Josh Feit, from Slog, has the goods on the recall petition filed against Commissioner Pat Davis.

Posted by shoephone on April 25, 2007 at 12:49 AM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 24, 2007

There's something for every Northwest blog at Crosscut

Has anyone noticed how multifunctional the CrossCut logo is for remaking the logos of the Northwest's top blogs?

Crosscut Logo

I bet there's an ep to be had in there as well...

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Posted by Jeff on April 24, 2007 at 11:16 PM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

No Fireworks at Port Commission Meeting

I have been increasingly interested in what occurs at the Port of Seattle.  The little I've understood has indicated that a huge amount of money goes in and out of the Port every year and that there has been little public or media oversight.  Alec Fisken, in his interview with me last week, indicated he thinks that there is no excuse for the large tax subsidies that the Port receives from King County property taxes.  There have been questions of wastage, extravagance and mismanagement on the part of the prior CEO. 

With the recent debacle concerning Pat Davis' attempted sweet side deal with the previous CEO, Mic Dinsmore, it seemed like an interesting day to get a sense of how the commission works in person.  So I went down to the airport and sat in on a regularly scheduled Port Commission meeting.  I'm glad I went.  I came away with a sense that there is once again grown-up supervision at the Port.  I think our job in the public is to make certain that we pay attention to the Port elections so that we can maintain a responsible focus and support the people who will be consistently thinking about the public's welfare. 

John Creighton, Board President, chaired the meeting.  It began on time.  After a brief introduction and a moment of silence for a longshoreman who had died on the job, Creighton brought the CEO severance issues that would be of interest to the public to the beginning of the meeting.  He also opened up the mike to the public.  Good signs all.

They began with the issue at the forefront of media attention: three items related to the CEO severance issue. 

First there was a motion brought forth by Commissioner Bob Edwards that there would be no additional severance pay for Mr. Dinsmore.  This motion passed unanimously. 

Secondly, Commissioner Hara asked to have the Port Board of Ethics authorize an independent organization to investigate the preparation and handling of the Oct. 10, 2006 memo in question.  He asked that the Commission instruct the Board to take all steps required for the investigation and to have that report completed in 60 days.  Commissioner Davis noted that she authorized the review.  Another unanimous vote.

The third motion was brought up by Tay Yoshitani, the new CEO and then moved by Commissioner Alec Fisken.   Mr. Yoshitani suggested that the "no recordings" policy for Executive Sessions be changed.  He suggested that the meetings be electronically recorded, for Port use only.  These recordings would not be available for the public.  Mr. Yoshitani said he thought that, had this system been in effect previously, it would have prevented a lot of the recent problems. 

Lloyd Hara said that he was pleased that Mr. Yoshitani brought this proposed change to the attention of the Board.  He indicated that he thought we were moving into a different era with the new CEO and some changes to the way the Port does business. 

The motions were clearly made to present a unified front to the public.  Whatever differences the Board had internally, they weren't sharing them publicly.  Unless of course, you count the pinched look on Commissioner Davis' face during this discussion.  The investigation may uncover some malfeasance later but for now, no fireworks.

There were several other issues on the agenda.  Like almost every other media person, I left shortly after these motions had been passed. 

Note: Ron K., writing a comment on one of shoephone's posts on the Port recently, pointed out two articles by Dean Paton in the latest issue of Washington CEO.  The first, entitled "Finding Safe Harbor: The Port’s New Pilot Confronts a Legacy of Inefficiency and Pollution" focuses on the Port as a whole.  The article deals with the mismanagement of the Port's real estate efforts, air pollution concerns, and the need to turn the Port around so that it can take advantage of increasing Seattle's percentage of the booming trade with Asia.  In it, Alec Fisken is quoted saying that Seattle is “the worst-managed seaport in North America.”  There is also a companion piece entitled "Maverick Alec Fisken Takes On The Port" profiling Fisken and his well-deserved reputation as a champion for good management and transparency.  Both are quite good for anyone wanting a good overview of the state of the Port.

Posted by Lynn Allen on April 24, 2007 at 02:31 PM in The Politics of Business | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rove Under Investigation: Power Points and Politics

The LA Times is reporting that Karl Rove is under investigation by the Office of Special Counsel. This is big news, primarily because the investigation is being conducted by a permanent office of the federal government, by a Bush appointee, Scott Bloch. While the White House is simulatenously being barraged with investigations led by Henry Waxman, they probably didn't expect to be nailed by one of their own. The charges are very serious, and very far-reaching.

Most of the time, an obscure federal investigative unit known as the Office of Special Counsel confines itself to monitoring the activities of relatively low-level government employees, stepping in with reprimands and other routine administrative actions for such offenses as discriminating against military personnel or engaging in prohibited political activities.

But the Office of Special Counsel is preparing to jump into one of the most sensitive and potentially explosive issues in Washington, launching a broad investigation into key elements of the White House political operations that for more than six years have been headed by chief strategist Karl Rove.

The new investigation, which will examine the firing of at least one U.S. attorney, missing White House e-mails, and White House efforts to keep presidential appointees attuned to Republican political priorities, could create a substantial new problem for the Bush White House.

The OSP will also be looking into interference into matters involving the U.S. Department of Interior and the political shenanigans by Laurita Doan, head of of the General Services Administration.

Boo-ya! Or should I say "Bring it On"? It's a good day for democracy.

Posted by shoephone on April 24, 2007 at 09:32 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gregoire Signs Domestic Partnership Bill

There's a lovely video-clip of Governor Gregoire talking about the importance of signing the new Domestic Partnership bill.  Here's the clip.

Thanks to Darryl at Horsesass.

Posted by Lynn Allen on April 24, 2007 at 08:06 AM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dinsmore Cries "Uncle!" and Gives Up Bogus Severance

Mic Dinsmore, formerly the highest paid Port CEO in the nation, now says he's giving up on the bogus "severance" package that has caused so much turmoil for his pal, the soon-to-be-ex-commissioner Pat Davis. But he really wants to make everyone feel good and guilty for taking away what he thinks he so *richly* deserves:

"There have been many, many recipients over the years," Dinsmore said in an interview with the Seattle P.I. "The policy was put in place initially to take care of people when we had eliminated their jobs, but the interpretation of when and how it gets used has been much more liberal."


"I asked for it because I had more than one opportunity to leave right after I made the announcement, but I wouldn't do that and committed to stay on," Dinsmore said. "I gave up the opportunity to move out the door in a more aggressive and rapid way because my belief and love for the institution is higher and greater than my personal benefit."

Is this the part where we're all supposed to get out our handkerchiefs? Obviously, Dinsmore is contradicting himself left and right with this pathetic statement. His love for the Port is higher and greater than his personal benefit, except for during the executive meetings where he, supposedly, asked for more of that personal benefit. So, which is it? Port love or money love? And how many executive meetings were held on the "severance" matter anyway? Port spokesman Mick Schultz says there were two, but Dinsmore claims there were three. With no minutes taken or notes made public we'll probably never find out.

Dinsmore also moans that Creighton, Hara and Fisken have "selective memories" about the meetings, but he doesn't address the rule that all salary discussions have to be held during public, not private, meetings. According to Creighton, the issue is very much on the agenda for Tuesday's public meeting.

The newest wrinkle to appear?

Davis is the subject of a recall petition filed this week.

Note to self: buy more hankies.

Posted by shoephone on April 24, 2007 at 12:29 AM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (3)

April 23, 2007

Darcy Reaches Out

Darcy Burner, a very active campaigner who is already running for Congress (again) in the 8th for next year's election, is trying a new approach to running for office.  She is actively reaching out to us, far more so than last year even, when she was a strong netroots candidate.  This year she is making brief video-clips of her time on the campaign trail.  She calls them the Trail Mix series.  She has done two so far - just putting them together herself on her PC and they are very sweet. 

This is the first. 

And here is the second.   

This is a different way of reaching out and I think we're going to like it - getting the opportunity to come along on the campaign trail for the ride.

UPDATE:  And if you'd like to vote for Darcy for the first Democrats for America candidate for 2008, here's that link.   (Thanks to Dan.)

Posted by Lynn Allen on April 23, 2007 at 10:53 PM in Candidate Races, Taking Action | Permalink | Comments (2)

Details regarding The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer settlement are to become public

Jim Lobsenz, an attorney for the committee, said the organization's lawyers had been negotiating for the documents with the Times and P-I since the settlement announcement last week. The committee is seeking the information to decide whether to proceed with a legal challenge of the 1999 amended JOA, which it thinks is anti-competitive and in violation of the state of Washington constitution. The committee is scheduled to argue the case before King County Superior Court Judge Greg Canova on July.

Read story at NewsCloud.

Posted by Jeff on April 23, 2007 at 10:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Seattle Times Editorial Pays Lip Service on Port Scandal

As noted on this blog last week, it was Seattle P.I. reporter Kristin Millares Bolt who broke the story on Port Commissioner Pat Davis' bogus bonus deal for retired Port CEO Mic Dinsmore. MIllares Bolt has been following the details closely and doing a great job. The other paper in our (whew!) two-newspaper town, the Seattle Times, was caught flat-footed until burying an article about the scandal in their business section (h/t to commenter Paul Elliott). Since they were bested by half, the Times has published an editorial all about the "undignified mess", wasting lots of ink deconstructing the term "severance" -- something I already defined in EP's first post on the subject. Moreover, they make the following untrue statement:

The five Port of Seattle commissioners are clearly of no mind to pay former CEO Mic Dinsmore a severance package[...]

In fact, one of the five Port commisioners -- Davis -- had every intention of paying the "severance". Um... memo to the Times: that's what this whole damn thing is about to begin with. No one can predict how long Commissioner Bob Edwards will continue trying to play both sides against the middle, but Hara, Fisken and Creighton have all staked out their territory.

When it comes right down to it, the Times thinks that Dinsmore was a "fine" Port executive and was paid accordingly. Yup. That would be the accurate description if you're alluding to the caviar nights and champagne dreams of Dinsmore's tenure as the globe-trotting, glad-handing dandy who gained a reputation as the nation's highest paid Port CEO. And instead of calling for Pat Davis' dismissal (either by resignation or impeachment) the Times says this is all that's required:

What remains at the Port of Seattle Commission is an undignified mess. Commissioners need to make some apologies and get back to the people's business.

"Commissioners need to"...? "Apologies"? Again, I must have missed the part where the other commissioners were at fault. From everything we've heard so far, the other commissioners were left out of the loop on the Dinsmore bonus and have implied that Davis is lying through her teeth. For elaboration, perhaps the paper's editors should read Lynn's interview with Alec Fisken. The Times is trying to have it both ways and comes up empty-handed, which sort of makes sense for a paper that has a very good reporting staff but a totally compromised editorial board.

The Port Commission's next public meeting is Tuesday, when the Davis-Dinsmore escapade will surely merit at least a comment or two from those other commissioners. I'm certain Millares Bolt will be there for the catch. Will someone from the Times?

Posted by shoephone on April 23, 2007 at 01:43 AM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (1)

April 22, 2007

Earth Day Special: Karl Rove is Still a Creep

At last night's Washington Correspondent's Dinner (the same one where 1970's comedian Rich Little totally bombed), Laurie David and Sheryl Crow sought to engage the Slithy Tove Karl "Turdblossom" Rove in a dialogue about global warming. He had something else in mind -- namely, acting like a bully and then taking the coward's way out. Plus, he's forgotten just who "the American people" are.

In his attempt to dismiss us, Mr. Rove turned to head toward his table, but as soon as he did so, Sheryl reached out to touch his arm. Karl swung around and spat, "Don't touch me." How hardened and removed from reality must a person be to refuse to be touched by Sheryl Crow? Unphased, Sheryl abruptly responded, "You can't speak to us like that, you work for us." Karl then quipped, "I don't work for you, I work for the American people." To which Sheryl promptly reminded him, "We are the American people."

At that point Mr. Rove apparently decided he had had enough. Like a groundhog fearful of his own shadow, he scurried to his table in an attempt to hibernate for another year from his responsibility to address global warming. Drama aside, you would expect as an American citizen to be able to engage in a civil discussion with a public official. Instead, Mr. Rove was dismissive, condescending, and quite frankly a bully.

Ultimately, we were left wondering what on Earth Mr. Rove was talking about when he said "the American people." If more than 60% of American voters, the Supreme Court, over 400 cities, the US National Academy of Sciences, numerous major US corporations, and others don't constitute the American people, then what does? The truth is, if this administration cared one iota about the American people, they would have addressed this problem long ago, and the sad reality is that this problem has been left to us, all of us, since the current administration has abandoned this issue entirely. In the absence of true leadership, we must guide ourselves. We can solve this, but we had better act fast.

Sad, really. But not surprising. The Loyal Bushies are fond of saying they don't follow polls, but it's gotten to the point where every single poll proves that the American people (the ones Rove claims to work for, though, in reality, he answers to no one) have recoiled from everything this corrupt administration touches -- starting with the privatization of Social Security, to the unfairness of the Medicare drug bill, to the disastrous war in Iraq, to energy policy and the causes of global warming and the necessity of finally doing something about it. The Loyal Bushies are complete and utter failures and the American people have said so, unequivocally, with the results of the November election which put Democrats back at the helm in Congress.

I hope Pat Leahy is working hard on that subpeona for Rove's RNC emails. It's long past time we nailed the bastard.

Posted by shoephone on April 22, 2007 at 07:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

US Attorneys to Hold Seminar at Seattle University

Postman notes that next month fired US attorney John McKay will be part of a seminar panel at Seattle University, where he currently teaches law. He'll be joined by fellow oustees David Iglesias and Paul Charleton.

Public Policy Forum - United States Attorneys: Roles and Responsibilities on May 9, 2007: The controversy surrounding the Administration’s recent dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys has revealed many misconceptions and disagreements concerning both the President’s authority concerning these public officials and their obligations to adhere to Administration policy and objectives. This program will examine these and other questions from the viewpoints of former U.S. attorneys, political scientists and constitutional law scholars, including former U.S. Attorneys Paul K. Charlton (District of Arizona); David Iglesias (District of New Mexico); and John McKay (Western District of Washington, now Visiting Faculty, Seattle University School of Law); James Eisenstein, Professor Emeritus, Pennsylvania State University; and Christian Halliburton, Associate Professor of Law, Seattle University School of Law; Laurie L. Levenson, Professor of Law; and William M. Rains Fellow and Director of the Center for Ethical Advocacy, Loyola Law School…

Two months ago, the DOJ's Michael Elston threatened the prosecutors with a major smear campaign if they dared to talk publicly about what had transpired with regard to their firings. Since then, the department has experienced a hailstorm of criticism and derision from all quarters. Unintended consequences and all that... Pretty funny.

Posted by shoephone on April 22, 2007 at 01:06 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (3)

April 21, 2007

Setbacks Amid Success

While on the whole, it's been a pretty solid year for environmental policy in Washington, with a number of strong new laws being enacted, the final days of the session brought two troubling setbacks.

While a massive Puget Sound protection bill moved forward, it didn't include a measure to halt expansion of a polluting gravel mine on Maury Island, right in the heart of our state's only aquatic reserve.  The Legislature also declined (again!) to provide permanent funding for the rescue tug that helps protect Puget Sound from oil spills.

It's extremely disappointing to know that we're trying hard to protect Puget Sound on the one hand, while failing to stop obvious threats on the other.

The culprit in both cases: well-funded gravel and oil industry lobbyists, who have too much influence, even with Democratic lawmakers. 

Posted by Jon Stahl on April 21, 2007 at 11:36 AM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 20, 2007

Apocalypse How? Daily Show on Frosty Hardison

Remember that Federal Way father who managed to get Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth temporarily restricted from public schools? The Daily Show did a feature on his version of global warming and the apocalypse. Apparently, he does impressions...

Read story at NewsCloud.

Posted by Jeff on April 20, 2007 at 08:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Abu Gonzales: Dead Man Walking

After Thursday's hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the only question remaining for Attorney General Gonzales is, "when does he announce his resignation"? He's had weeks to prepare for this session and he failed miserably. It was really a rather pathetic show, typifying the unparalleled ineptitude of those serving in the Bush Administration.

Republican support for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales evaporated before his eyes Thursday as a Senate hearing into the firings of eight U.S. attorneys generated more pressure for his resignation.

Struggling to keep his job, Gonzales sat stoically as former allies on the Senate Judiciary Committee turned against him. Two of the panel's Republicans joined Democrats in urging the attorney general to step down. Others sharply criticized his management skills or questioned his credibility.

"I believe that you ought to suffer the consequences that these others have suffered. I believe the best way to put this behind us is your resignation," Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., told Gonzales.

Instead of telling the truth about how and why eight US attorneys were fired, the senators (and we) witnessed a cascade of convoluted explainers, each one stupider and more unbelievable than the one that preceded it. Gonzales was totally outmatched by the likes of Pat Leahy, Chuck Schumer, Sheldon Whitehouse, Arlen Specter and Diane Feinstein. He couldn't remember pertinent meetings, discussions or even who was actually in charge at the Justice Department while this coup against the attorneys -- and the constitutional imperative of Senate confirmations -- was being waged. Gonzales was nailed to the wall by former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson (self-described "aggregator"), Michael Battle and Paul McNulty, who all gave the senators accounts far different from what the AG recollected.

It's too bad we in Washington don't have a senator on the committee because we would have heard more questions concerning the firing of John McKay. Gonzales and his testimony-preppers decided to stick with the "bad judgement on the LinX information- sharing issue" story. It's known that McNulty and others at the DOJ were angry by being outed as backward-looking cheapskates by McKay, but since no one ever warned him off of complaining to the newspaper or writing direct letters to McNulty asking for adequate funding for the info-sharing program, it just looks like he was fired without cause. McKay watched the hearings and was appalled, characterizing Gonzales' assertions about his so-called bad judgement "absurd". (Of course, cooler heads have already figured out that it's the phony voter fraud issue from 2004 that really got him dumped...)

As Leahy said in his opening statement, the DOJ is experiencing a crisis in leadership. Now that Abu's former supporters on the Republican side of the aisle are calling for his resignation, how long can he possibly last? And who's going to be the brave Republican senator who treks down to the White House to ask Bush to please, and finally, take his head out of his ass, where Gonzales is concerned?

Posted by shoephone on April 20, 2007 at 12:04 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (3)

April 19, 2007

Interview with Alec Fisken, Seattle Port Commissioner

Monday and sex scandals are so easy for us to get our hands around.  We love them.  Larger issues – like systematic misuse of the public’s money or outright undermining of the rule of law, not so much. 

PI reporter Kristen Millares Bolt has been all over a likely inappropriate “sweet deal” that Seattle Port Commissioner Pat Davis seemingly gave now retired Seattle Port CEO Mic Dinsmore.  Shoephone here at Evergreen Politics has been following this closely.  Today I talked with port commissioner Alec Fisken about the deal and also about the larger issues at the Port that it points to. 

First, let’s take a look at what has just been uncovered.  From a PI article yesterday morning, we get the deal that Davis gave long-time pal Dinsmore:

As part of his retirement package, former Port Chief Executive Mic Dinsmore will receive an annual pension of about $107,000, according to a rough port calculation in October.

Before he retired, Dinsmore received a $339,841 annual salary.


In question is a severance agreement OK'd by Commissioner Pat Davis in a memo that would extend Dinsmore's annual salary for up to a year past his retirement date.

Davis did not have the authority to make that deal and three of the other four commissioners dispute her allegation that the deal was made by all of them in executive session.

In talking about the implications of the deal, Alec Fisken, one of the three commissioners who disputes Davis’ picture of the deal, said today in the interview:

The thing for me that is frustrating is that the Port does these huge deals. The reality is that we have not been spending the public’s money wisely.  We waste tens of millions of dollars annually.  I have been saying, “Look, we’re not taking proper care of the public’s money.”

This incident is about a couple hundred thousand and it is very clearly wrong.   It is difficult for people to get their hands around the larger issues.  Sometimes it takes an issue like this that is easily understandable for people to see the bigger picture.

Follow me over the fold for the entire interview.  It's worth it.

Interview with Alec Fisken, Seattle Port Commissioner

Q: The PI has an article this morning that is pretty damning.  Two executive sessions took place last year where there are no notes, no staffers and three of the commissioners don’t have any recollection that the meeting occurred.  Comments?

AF: It is pretty clear there was no formal approval of this salary deal.  There was an executive session but no formal approval.  No one has claimed there was a formal deal.

It is just baffling as to why she went forward.  Why would she write a letter knowing it was not formally approved?  Why would Mic accept a letter knowing it was not formally approved? If they were brand new, it would be one thing but they have both been here a long time.

Q:  What’s the remedy?  What comes next?

AF: I’m hoping that my colleagues will get together and come up with a common statement, perhaps as early as today.  The good thing is we have a new CEO (Tay Yoshitani) and new commissioners.  I think we have new people taking it seriously.  I think we will be more and more careful about accountability and complying with the law.

I think we will rediscover the integrity of the port.  15 years is too long to do that kind of job. I think things have gotten a little sloppy.

Q: Anything you can say about what is happening behind the scenes right now?

AF: No, there isn’t.  We cannot meet except in a formal, announced meeting.  The next meeting is next Tuesday.  I’ve discussed with Lloyd Hara about whether we could all sign a letter on this.  He may be working on such a letter.  If he is, I hope it comes out soon.  We can’t legally sit down and talk about it except in a formal meeting.

Lloyd and John (Creighton, Chair of the Port Commission) are trying to do it right, which is great.

I would imagine that Mic will just drop the issue.

Q: What does this incident say about the culture of the Port and the manner in which it operates?  Some of us have had some serious questions about that culture in the past, possibly including you.

AF: It has been Lloyd’s perception that the commissioners have not always been part of the real decision-making process.  He has worked hard to get the commissioners involved.  This is just another example of the old problems that have faced us in doing so.  People have been making decisions that are not in strict accordance with the state’s rules.  The commission was not fully involved in this.

Hopefully there is change coming.  All the signs are that the new CEO, Tay Yoshitani, will be able to run this thing properly.  He has lots of experience.

Q: How might this issue impact elections in the fall? (Fisken is being challenged by Bill Bryant.)

AF: Well, my opponent’s primary supporter is Pat Davis.  It can’t  be helpful to his campaign.  I have a reputation as being a regenade, someone who has tried to point out what is wrong.  It may be helpful to me because clearly this was wrong.  But it’s always hard to tell how things will play out months from now. 

Q: There is speculation that Pat Davis may be forced to step down.  What do you think about that?

AF: There is no mechanism for forcing someone out so I don’t know how this plays out.  At this point it is just speculation.

Alright.  On that note, I’ll let you get back to work.  Thank you.

Posted by Lynn Allen on April 19, 2007 at 10:02 AM in Interviews, The Politics of Business | Permalink | Comments (9)

Showdown at the Port of Seattle

Port Commissioner Pat Davis is treading in some deep waters. She released a statement Wednesday in which she "categorically denied" acting unilaterally to authorize a severance package for retired Port CEO Mic Dinsmore. Commissioner Bob Edwards has, clearly, been silenced by a Port attorney. But the other three commissioners are challenging her veracity. Instead of saying "they're wrong" Davis said, "If some commissioners think they remembered it in a different way, that is their call."

It's their call? Sounds like she's being very careful with language. Either a meeting happened or it didn't and all we have to rely on is the memories and truthfulness of those involved, because if the meeting did take place no staffers were present and no minutes were taken. And none of the participants are required to make public their notes. Boy, there's some great accountability and transparency for ya. Davis is offended by the contradictions of Hara, Fisken and Creighton, but they are not backing down. In fact, I'd say things are really heating up for a showdown of monumental legal proportions.

"We never discussed it, and it was never brought up, like we said before," Hara said. "I can't comment on something that never happened -- this is such a wholly made-up set of stories that I can't believe it."


"I think that is probably a lie," Fisken said, after being read Davis' statement. "There is nothing there that explains why she would sign the letter without the public authorization to do so -- she could not legally sign the letter until it had been done publicly, and she knows that."


"I don't care to speculate how a commissioner with 20 years of experience felt it was proper to unilaterally sign a document before it was put to a full commission vote in public," Creighton said.

Not much mincing of words there.

To make matters worse for Davis, Dinsmore has unplugged the phone and won't talk to the press. He'll have to answer questions eventually, but don't expect one to turn on the other like on Law and Order. These two go way back and their lawyers are going to want to save not only their clients, but the Port of Seattle as well. Very dicey, to put it mildly.

Kristin Millares Bolt, the PI reporter, is doing a fantastic job on this story. Lucky for her, the Times doesn't seem the least bit interested, having reported nothing at all on it for two days running. It's a good thing Seattle is still a two-newspaper town. At least we can rest assured that one of them will be reporting the local news that matters. Greed, corruption and flagrant abuse of power are nothing to sneeze at.

Posted by shoephone on April 19, 2007 at 12:23 AM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (3)

April 18, 2007

Local Students leave school, join rally against war, recruiting

They decided it was more important to protest the Iraq war than to attend their afternoon classes. They were among several hundred students from about 20 area schools who walked out of class Wednesday to join an anti-war rally at Westlake Park in downtown Seattle.

Read story at NewsCloud.

Posted by Jeff on April 18, 2007 at 09:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

$28 Million for a Zoo Garage in Seattle

Flushing tax dollars down a wasteful project: "A recent forecast said the cost of the new garage would increase nearly $4 million above estimates. City taxpayers would pay $12 million of the total cost of $28 million, including interest."

Read story at NewsCloud.

Posted by Jeff on April 18, 2007 at 04:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pat Davis Pulls a Fast One on Behalf of Pal Mic Dinsmore

Uh-oh. I wonder who Pat Davis' lawyer is, because after this doozy she just may need one.

Port of Seattle Commissioner Pat Davis signed a document to extend the $339,841 salary and benefits of retired port Chief Executive Mic Dinsmore for up to one year past his March retirement.

Davis' approval of the port's payout to Dinsmore has upset other commissioners, who say the then-commission president did not have the authority to act independently and without a public vote.

Davis' action might also lead to litigation -- including between Dinsmore and the port, whose spokesman said the matter must go before the full commission before any disbursement could occur.

Dinsmore was already the highest paid port chief in the nation. Davis claims that she and the other commisioners discussed the matter of the bonus during a meeting, but John Creighton, Lloyd Hara and Alec Fisken say she's fibbing.

More details here on Dinsmore's charmed life as chief Commish.

Addendum: I'm using the word "bonus" rather than the word "severance", because severances are generally offered to those who have been fired or let go. Dinsmore chose to leave his job. Also, "bonus" sounds like "bogus", which is what Davis' gift to Dinsmore really amounts to. And then there's her bogus story that she and the other commishes had all discussed the matter beforehand...

Posted by shoephone on April 18, 2007 at 12:12 AM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (11)

April 17, 2007

Slashdot reports on PBDE ban: "Washington Bans Chemicals; Industry Freaks"

Are we seeing a series of tipping points on climate change and the environment? When Slashdot, the Web's leading technical news site, reports on Washington state's near ban of toxic PBDEs, there's some sort of convergence in effect:

"The governor of Washington is scheduled to sign legislation today to ban flame retardants called PBDEs in furniture, televisions, and computers in the state. This is despite the more than $220,000 the chemical industry has spent since 2005 to defeat the legislation. At a time when the federal government is largely ineffectual in regulating long-used but potentially dangerous industrial chemicals, the Washington ban could be the beginning of the end for PBDEs across the nation.

Read story at NewsCloud.

Posted by Jeff on April 17, 2007 at 03:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Carless in Seattle

A Seattle Kossack, Eugene, wrote about his adventures being carless in Seattle at DailyKos yesterday.  I thought I'd excerpt a few paragraphs of his excellent diary here.  Eugene talks about loving to drive, from the time he first began.  He gave up his car last October as an act of generosity; he gave his old Honda accord to his girlfriend when she took a new job in Monterey, California.  He has close to a year back here in Seattle finishing up school before he goes down to join her. 

Because she moved to CA, I had to get a new apartment. I looked around town for a neighborhood that was close to campus, near shops and urban amenities, and would allow me to walk or bus to where I needed to go. I settled on Greenlake, a 30 minute walk and a 15 minute bus ride from campus, and moved here in late October.

Immediately I began to worry again. The supermarket in our neighborhood closed in 2005 and the nearest ones were about a half mile away, on the other side of Interstate 5. It seemed too far for me. I seriously looked into getting online delivery from Safeway. I reserved a Flexcar anytime I had to go outside my neighborhood. The carless experiment wasn't starting off well.

But within 2 weeks I found my attitude had totally and completely shifted. I found that the supermarkets were only a 10 minute walk away, which was very easily doable. The bus service was fantastic, and thanks to a subsidized bus pass, it was an extremely cheap and effective form of mobility. I fell back on the Flexcar less and less often, and eventually stopped using it altogether.

The key was simple: practice. As I walked or bused to where I needed to go, my perceptions of travel time, of speed and immediacy, began to change. A 20 minute busride no longer seemed like an interminably slow journey, instead it was a leisurely trip through my city. The walk back from the supermarket wasn't an onerous hike, instead it was an opportunity to look at houses, watch the gray clouds roll in over the Olympics.

Eugene knows that his experience as a young single person in a good walking neighborhood is different from other peoples' experience, especially those folks with kids.  He cites Alan Durning, director of Sightline Institute, who is married and has kids - but who has just recently completed a year as a family without a car.  Eugene echos what Durning finds makes carlessness easier:

Like my experience on the other side of Phinney Ridge, Durning has found that the key is a good "walkshed" - a compact neighborhood, nearby shops and services, reliable and frequent bus service, and walk- and bike-friendly urban design. Ballard, where Durning lives, is like Greenlake a neighborhood largely laid out at the turn of the last century, and still maintains those mixed use principles that were common before World War I.

Eugene talks about and quotes Durning on the public policy aspects of carlessness.  He ends with:

Changing our attitudes is the most difficult part; changing our behavior is much easier once we convince ourselves we can and should do it. And that's precisely what I found about going carless in Seattle: the fear of it was much more difficult than the reality, which for me has luckily been a pretty damn easy reality. I hope we can get together and use the political system to produce land use patterns, public transportation alternatives, and other forms of support to make it easy for you to do the same, before you are forced to by inflation and peak oil.

Posted by Lynn Allen on April 17, 2007 at 11:49 AM in Environment, Taking Action | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 16, 2007

Sonics Owners Foul Out at the Buzzer

The Sonics ownership failed to win a boost for it's new digs, at taxpayer expense. Majority Leader Lynn Kessler determined there wasn't enough support to bring the issue before a full vote of the House. So now the Sonics are whining and moaning that they will have to move the franchise to Oklahoma City -- which, of course, is what they planned all along.

"This a staggering and quite likely a debilitating blow to our efforts to develop a world-class arena facility. Clearly at this time the Sonics and Storm have little hope of remaining in the Puget Sound region," owner Clay Bennett said in a statement.

After a meeting between the governor and House and Senate leaders Monday evening, it was apparent that the Sonics' proposal did not have enough support to pass.

Enough with this "world class" ridiculousness. It was former Sonics owner and eternal Starbuck's magnate Howard Schultz's egomania and petulance that led Seattle's voters to overwhelmingly reject the multimillion dollar subsidy by a whopping 74%. The die had been cast last fall, and Bennett and his buddies didn't have a chance.

But it isn't only Washington's citizens that are sick of subsidizing corporations, and it isn't only about sports stadiums either. The legislators had their lunches stuffed down their throats in 2003 when our triangulatingly ineffectual governor, Gary Locke, worked out his $45 million secret deal with Boeing over the assembly of the 787 Dreamliner -- and this was after Boeing had already shafted the state by moving its headquarters to Chicago. The legislators gave the company its $3.2 billion B&O tax break, but they were totally kept out of the loop about Locke's behind-the-scenes machinations (which included a clause to black-out pertinent documents and prevented future legislatures from rescinding the secret deal). Memories are long, and lessons are learned. Fool me once... well, you know the story. But Senator Margarita Prentice is, inexplicably, still mewing about how we need to craft a Sonics deal before the October deadline.

Now the pressing problem for the Sonics is how to get out of a nearly iron-clad contract that keeps them in the Key Arena until 2010. We're still paying off the stadium remodel completed just a few short years ago. Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis acknowledges the Sonics ownership hasn't been in touch, and the city's finance director, Dwight Dively, says the team will have to make up for revenue losses in ticket taxes, parking fees and luxury suites -- not to mention, business losses to restaurants and bars near the Key.

"The city would obviously want to be fully compensated for what we have had," said Dively, who declined to estimate the potential value of such losses.

Posted by shoephone on April 16, 2007 at 11:29 PM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tommy Thompson Loses the Jewish Vote

The phrase "tone deaf" just found a new patron, in the person of former Wisconsin governor and Bush cabinet secretary, Tommy Thompson. In his quest for the White House, Thompson gave a speech to a Reform Jewish group where he congratulated the Jewish people for one of their greatest historical accomplishments: the ability to make money. In fact, Thompson declared, it's part of the Jewish tradition. (Attach "clumsy" here):

Speaking to an audience at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington D.C., Thompson said that, "I'm in the private sector and for the first time in my life I'm earning money. You know that's sort of part of the Jewish tradition and I do not find anything wrong with that."

Thompson later apologized for the comments that had caused a stir in the audience, saying that he had meant it as a compliment, and had only wanted to highlight the "accomplishments" of the Jewish religion.

"I just want to clarify something because I didn't [by] any means want to infer or imply anything about Jews and finances and things," he said.


Well, I can't ascribe to what Thompson's intentions about implications were, but when it comes to inferences it seems to me that he inferred exactly what he said -- that it's part of the Jewish tradition to make money. And I feel a deep sense of happiness that my people were able to help Thompson understand what'$ really important in life, and how we can be$t help the pre$idential candidate reach tho$e $ame accompli$hment$ a$ the re$t of u$.

I would have attended the speech myself, but since my January trip to the State of the Union, I've been a little low on funds. You see, I haven't been a very good Jew these last three months, having not earned enough money to pay the rent, pay my taxes (oh gosh, that's due tomorrow!) and pay for another round trip flight to the nation's capitol. Oy gevult. Whatever is to become of me? 

Atrios drives the point home in his own comical way.  (h/t to Think Progress)

Posted by shoephone on April 16, 2007 at 02:06 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (3)

Seattle will remain a two-newspaper town for at least 10 more years

In effect, the agreement moves both papers back to where they were four years ago, when the Times began its efforts to close the P-I and end the JOA only now Hearst will receive $24 million from the Times. Read story at NewsCloud.

Posted by Jeff on April 16, 2007 at 11:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

April 15, 2007

Sy Hersh on Dick Cheney and the last 50 Years

Dick Cheney is like a cartoon figure to me.  More so even than Bush, who wears his emotional pain on his sleeve.  Or Rove who has some spark of playfulness in that fertile, crafty mind.  Cheney is consistently snappish and mean-spirited.  And he has spent his political life conspiring against the American people.  One small consolation has been that Seymour Hersh, writer for the New Yorker, has been watching Cheney for as many years as Cheney has been undermining democracy and promoting Republican control of well, . . . everything. 

Matt Taibbi has a compelling interview with Hersh in the Rolling Stone.  The article leads off with three paragraphs that tells you everything you really need to know about Dick Cheney:    

On May 29th, 1975, an aide to then-White House chief of staff Donald Rumsfeld sat down with a yellow legal pad and in careful longhand sketched out a list of possible responses to a damaging investigative report in The New York Times. “Problem,” the aide wrote. “Unauthorized disclosure of classified national security information by Sy Hersh and the NYT.” He then laid out five options, ranging from the most ominous (an FBI investigation of the newspaper and a grand jury indictment) to the least offensive (”Discuss informally with NYT” and “Do nothing”). Number three on the list, however, read, “Search warrant: to go after Hersh papers in his apt.”

The note’s author? A viper-mean Beltway apparatchik named Dick Cheney, who was making his name doing damage control for the Republican White House after the Watergate disaster. Coming so soon after Nixon was burned at the public stake for similar targeting of political enemies, the Cheney memo was proof that the next generation of GOP leaders had emerged from the Watergate scandal regretting only one thing: getting caught.

This year, an almost identical note in Cheney’s same tight-looped, anal script appeared as a key piece of evidence in the trial of another powerful White House aide, Scooter Libby. The vice president’s handwritten ruminations on how best to dispose of an Iraq War critic named Joe Wilson are an eerie reminder of how little has changed in America in the past three decades. Then as now, we have been dragged into a bloody massacre in the Third World, paying the bill for the operation with the souls and bodies of the next generation of our young people. It is the same old story, and many of the same people are once again in charge.

Seymour Hersh, now 70, has been writing since the Vietnam War era which gives him a pretty good perspective.  It was he who broke the story of the My Lai massacre, the event that was as much a shock to the nation then as Abu Ghraib was in Iraq.  Taibbi asks Hersh about whether America learned anything from Vietnam.   

We’re dealing with the same problems now that we did then.  We know from the Pentagon Papers — and to me they were the most important documents ever written — that from 1963 on, Kennedy and Johnson and Nixon lied to us systematically about the war. I remember how shocked I was when I read them. So . . . duh! Nothing’s changed. They’ve just gotten better at dealing with the press. Nothing’s changed at all.

Hersh's real disappointment has been with the press.  In the Vietnam era, the press became part of what brought Nixon down; that hasn't happened with Bush even though Hersh is convinced that Bush is far worse than Nixon.  But the press is in much worse shape than it was before.  Hersh says that you'd have "to fire or execute ninety percent of the editors and executives" and promote independent thinkers from within the newsroom and "they're not going to do that". 

So, what Hersh says basically is that 1) Cheney and his ilk have learned far better how to hide things from the American people and 2) the press is worthless in fighting this corrupt and vile administration.  However, even as I am dismay after reading and analyzing this interview, I notice that Hersh says:

What these guys have figured out is that as long as they have Fox and talk radio, they’re OK in the public opinion. They control that hard.

There have been interesting turn-arounds against both Fox and talk radio in the last few weeks.  The Democrats and their allies may have found a way to strike hard at Cheney and the hard-liners.  I'd like to think that a new sophistication on the part of the Democrats plus the power of the people unleashed in the blogosphere will make a difference. 

H/t to Howie in Seattle

Posted by Lynn Allen on April 15, 2007 at 10:53 PM in Media, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Washington State Steps It Up

Some really good news on fighting global warming this week, just in time for yesterday's "Step It Up!" day of action.  The state House passed (84-14), an aggressive action plan for shrinking our state's carbon dioxide pollution.

Clark Williams-Derry of Sightline Institute is impressed:

It seemed like all of our neighbors--especially California and British
Columbia--were leaving us in the dust on climate policy.  So while the
new policy isn't nearly as forward thinking as BC's, this bill -- provided it actually gets signed -- will probably get the state admitted into the cool kids' club.

Posted by Jon Stahl on April 15, 2007 at 09:55 PM in Environment, Policy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Meet the Press -- Ifill Makes My Day and Slaps Down Russert

I've come to loathe Tim Russert in recent years. He fancies himself the television journalist of the century but, in reality, he's just another inside-the-beltway Pompous Ass, playing "gotcha" with his guests. Today, however, the tables were turned on him, and it was sheer pleasure. Read the transcript or watch the video and see for yourself how this Pompous Ass honks and brays about his good friend Don Imus not really being a racist, homophobic, Jew-hating, sexist, mysoginistic creep. He just plays one on TV (and radio). After all, asks PA Russert, are we expected to hold the man accountable for mere words he uses in the quest for a laugh line? They're just words, it's not like he's engaging in real racism! Right. Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson put that stupid rationale in the proper context:

You don't have to wear a white sheet to be a racist... You don't have to burn crosses to be a racist.

But PA soldiered on in defense of his friend Imus, who has given him a platform many times on that once famous, now-defunct show. Unfortunately, this was one time when MTP's "roundtable" discussion included both Robinson and PBS' Gwen Ifill (who has been the target of Imus' not really real racism) and PA got his pompous ass handed back to him on a platter. Ifill, in particular, was not in the mood to put up with even an ounce of PA's lame defenses. She called out the mainstream media's talking heads, producers and managers for staying silent about Imus' repeated slurs (mostly against blacks and women) for years, until the dam broke over the offensive comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team, and even then -- they didn't pipe up with their criticism until the public uproar caused sponsors to pull their money back from the media corporations MSNBC and CBS Radio. But the big difference is that now there are women and people of color in the upper echelons of those media organizations, so for the first time, there was a firestorm of protest from within.

PA Russert trotted out his usual bill of fare, attacking liberals and Democrats for being hypocrites about rap music, while practically biting his tongue off about the exponentially egregious offenses of Limbaugh, Coulter, Malkin and the truly disgusting Michael Savage. Instead, he called out Lee Iaccoca for using Snoop Dog in a car ad. Ifill was nonplussed: "So, we're all hypocrites, Tim." But she really exposed him for the phony, greedy accomplice that he is during this exchange near the end of the show:

MR. RUSSERT:  And if Don, Don Imus takes time off and comes back and says, you know, “I was an addict, and I embraced that and tried to educate people about that and educate people about Autism.  I’m now going to dedicate my life to racial reconciliation and healing, and I’m going to talk about that on my new program”?

MR. ROBINSON:  Well, people will decide whether they want to sponsor, you know, whether they want to put it on the air, and whether they...

MS. IFILL:  Would you go back on his program if he did that?

MR. ROBINSON:  ...want to sponsor it, and whether they want to listen to it.

MR. RUSSERT: I, I—I’d, I’d certainly listen to it.  Absolutely.  I mean, if he is dedicating himself—if the, if the Rutgers women’s basketball team said they have forgiven him and they’re trying to seek reconciliation, and he dedicates himself to racial healing, that is, to me, is a very positive step.

MS. IFILL:  We’ll see.

To feel the full weight of that exchange you've got to watch the video. Ifill was as straightforward and focused as I have ever seen her. And make no mistake -- she is pissed off and not apologizing for it. As someone who has been very disappointed in her hosting skills on PBS' Washington Week, I welcomed this breath of fresh air. PA Russert, David Brooks, and John Harwood all did their best impressions of White Guilt Personified, but Robinson and Ifill were not buying in.

It's about time the mainstream media's breadwinners have been called to account for their own complicity in propping up the biggest offenders. Imus' comeuppance is a step in the right direction because he's a pig. Now I want to see Coulter and Savage, in particular, get theirs. These two hate-spewing freaks of the rabid right have made comedy of encouraging violence against those who don't agree with them. Coulter's recent comments about John Edwards started a backlash when advertisers pulled their ads from her website, and a few national newspapers pulled her syndicated column. But it's not enough. And Savage is still hanging on, with the help of Seattle radio.

I imagine it will be a cold day in Hell before NBC and the other major media corporations hold the right wing's worst offenders to account. A Coulter-black-cocktail-dress appearance on the Today Show is just golden for them. So, as with Don Imus, it will be up to the public to start the snowball rolling. I'm finally of the belief that we can actually succeed in hitting these deserving targets.

Posted by shoephone on April 15, 2007 at 02:30 PM in Media, National and International Politics, The Politics of Business | Permalink | Comments (1)

Abu Gonzales, the Cartoon Character

Eternal Consigliere to the President, Abu Gonzales, has just published his second trite apologia -- in the form of a Washington Post op-ed -- in a month. This one is almost an exact replica of his previous attempt, in much the same way that all the DOJ document dumps have contained numerous duplicates of emails and letters. The problem, of course, is that the emails the Judiciary Committee demands to see have suddenly disappeared into the oxygen-depleted atmosphere of RNC.org. Gonzales does himself no favors with these vain attempts at pre-testimony spin. What good is a heavy dose of White House PR when the public already weighed in with it's disapproval of the Bushian Follies last November? At this point, the only opinions with gravitational pull belong to the likes of Pat Leahy, Chuck Schumer, Sheldon Whitehouse and their colleagues. Worse still, Gonzales' latest plea for understanding is so filled with transparent lies that one imagines his inner thoughts spelled out in little cartoon bubbles right above his head. We don't have bubbles here, only brackets.

Given my convictions on this issue [Dear God, please don't let there be any convictions], I testified before Congress in January and will do so again on Tuesday [and I sure hope the two weeks of intensive prep from Fred Fielding works!]. I have personally spoken with many members of Congress over the past several weeks [and they all belong in Gitmo] to hear their concerns about this matter [I can't believe what a double-crosser Arlen has been!]. Additionally, I have instructed all Justice Department officials to make themselves available for on-the-record interviews with lawmakers and hearings before Congress [well, at least the ones who haven't been fired or retired like Michael Battle, Kyle Sampson, Monica Goodling... we have to protect our own...], and I have ordered the release of thousands of pages of internal documents [which, just to confuse you, will include even more duplicates, and many redacted copies of Karl's instructions for assimilation into the Borg].

All of these documents and public testimony indicate that the Justice Department did not seek the removal of any U.S. attorney [except for Cummins, Iglesias and McKay, who were specifically targeted by Karl] to interfere with or improperly influence any case or investigation [I will pray on my rabbit's foot three times that they forget the name of Carol Lam]. Indeed, I am extremely proud of the department's strong record of vigorous prosecutions [especially the witch hunts against Democrats], particularly in the area of public corruption, where Republicans and Democrats alike have been held accountable for their crimes [had a close call with Cunningham compatriot Jerry Lewis, but we're settling him in the Cayman Islands!].

It's almost pathetic (but still gratifying) to see how desperately the White House is scrambling, in the face of such obvious deceitfulness and deception. And how sad that Karl's Big Adventure at the airport Hilton yesterday turned into such a predictable dud. Not to knock the wind out of his bilious billowy sails, but Karl's much-touted event only seduced the die-hard wealthy Republicans, at three weeks notice. By contrast, Speaker Pelosi's event at City Hall had the Bertha Knight Landes Room bursting at the seams with 300 supporters. It was her fourth event in eight hours and was put together in a matter of days. And heck, everybody got to have their picture taken with Madam Speaker for free. There really are some pleasant advantages to being in the majority -- namely, that supporters will cut out of work to come by and cheer you on in the heart of downtown, rather than having to find you hidden away 20 miles south at the airport Hilton...

Good luck with Tuesday's testimony, Abu, because once Sheldon Whitehouse gets a hold of you, you're going to need all the luck you can scrape together. And then some.

Posted by shoephone on April 15, 2007 at 01:01 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 14, 2007

More on Regent University

Turns out Sara Robinson, who blogs at Orcinus, along with Dave Neiwert, is actually a student at Regent University this semester.  Regent University is Monica Goodling's alma mater and a big recruitment center for Bush appointees. 

Sara has written a very thoughtful piece on her experience there as an online attendee as part of a program in Future Studies she is completing at the University of Houston, also online from her home in Vancouver, B.C.

She says the discussions have been "surprisingly wide-ranging and non-doctrinaire".  Her professor has been challenging the students:

to move beyond dogmatic biblical literalism, and resist the common fundamentalist impulse to hide from the present by either retreating to a mythical past, or staking it all on an absurdly overdue Revelation-based vision of the future. He seems determined that tomorrow's evangelical leaders move away from positivism and toward critical realism -- a switch that's going to change both the theological structure and the practical priorities of the movement. In this department, at least, "because the Bible tells me so" is not accepted as a good enough answer.

Sara attends virtually so doesn't have to agree to the long list of what she can and cannot do on campus, the only reason she can be there at all.  It's nice to see there is some hope for a generation of evangelicals even if it was not in time for Monica and her cronies.

Posted by Lynn Allen on April 14, 2007 at 09:57 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Jane Talks about Baghdad Parliament Bombing

Jane, the blogger in Baghdad, has a couple of up-front and personal posts about being in the Green Zone before and after the bombing of the Parliament building and the killing and maiming of several Members of Parliament.  She was in the restaurant where it took place an hour prior to the bombings and in the hospital interviewing doctors and nurses when the first bloodied victims showed up.  Then she found herself at a memorial service for the fallen. 

It's a different kind of reporting, something you don't get from the old hands in the traditional media.

Posted by Lynn Allen on April 14, 2007 at 08:20 AM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pelosi Talks about Peace, the Internet and More

People are hungry for peace.  That's what Nancy Pelosi says in Seattle after her trip to the Middle East.  What a refreshing take on what is going on in the world.  Here's a video-clip.  Not sure where it came from but it is clearly Pelosi and it is in Seattle and it is fascinating.  MyDD has the transcript as well.

She talks about the importance of the Internet in bringing issues up to the political world.  She talks about how much young people and women in particular, but really almost everyone, just want to figure out how to find and implement solutions to the issues that divide us. 

What a welcome American envoy she must have been to other world leaders weary of the "leaders" this country has been sending the for the last six years.

Let me know if you know where she was yesterday when this was taped.  Thanks.

UPDATE:  I just received confirmation that this tape was from Nancy's talk at a DCCC Fundraiser luncheon yesterday. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on April 14, 2007 at 07:59 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

Pelosi Rocks Seattle

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, engaged in something of a whirlwind tour through Seattle yesterday. In the morning she held a fundraiser for the DCCC and afternoon found her at Seattle Biodiesel, where she made the pledge to continue supporting our region's efforts to reduce carbon emissions by using renewable sources of energy. She zoomed from there to Seattle City Hall, for an early evening reception with local activists and women's groups (more on this later).

It seems the only person who was disturbed by the Speaker's visit was Luke Esser, the state GOP's new whiner-in-chief. Lukey doesn't think the Speaker has accomplished enough in her first 100 days. I guess he didn't get the memo about the First 100 Hours legislation that passed weeks ago, dealing with a raise in the minimum wage, tuition aid for college students, new ethics rules in the Congress (rules that mop the floor with serial offenders like Tom "Bugman" Delay) and putting $14 billion of erstwhile profits for oil companies into a reserve for the development of renewable energy sources. And in recent days, Mrs. Pelosi pulled together Blue Dogs and Progressives alike to challenge Bush on the continuation of his Dirty War in Iraq. Yeah, you're right, Lukey, the Democrats have just been so lazy, huh? Wipe your nose and go running home to mommy, because it turns out that another state Republican doesn't want to share your snotty hanky.

One formerly prominent Republican joined the gaggle of big-name Democrats at the podium: former Seattle City Attorney Doug Jewett, a one-time GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate, now chief executive of Ramgen, a research and development company focused on energy-related applications of supersonic aircraft technology.

Jewett said before the news conference that he was impressed with Pelosi's commitment to alternative energy.

There are actually some forward-thinking Republicans -- unfortunately, there are also whiners who spend all their time lamenting the good ol' days of ancient Republicanville, where one could look over yonder mountain and catch sight of real movie stars like Ronald Reagan and true "Keepers of the Flame" like Bush's grandaddy, the Nazi supporter. But now we look around and just find lost and lonely momma's boys like Dino Rossi and... Luke Esser.

No matter. With Bush's approval rating still lurking between toilet and sewer at 30% (and falling), state Republicans can fret all they want to about Speaker Pelosi. She's making history as the first woman to hold the job, and as one of the most politically adept Speakers in Congressional history.

Her role as a standard bearer for American women is not far from her thoughts. The reception at City Hall was held in the Bertha Knight Landes Room. (Landes was the first female mayor of a major American city, taking office in 1926, just 6 years after women gained the right to vote.) Mrs. Pelosi spoke about the responsibility she felt the first time she met with President Bush after the elections, and how important it is that her accomplishments send the message that women can and should serve in the public, political arena. She offered these sentiments before a joyful, cheering crowd of about 300 of Seattle's most politically active women. There were educators, social services advocates and domestic violence counselors as well as representatives from organizations that train high schoolers to be future leaders. The president of the Seattle League of Women Voters was in attendance, as was 8th district candidate Darcy Burner, whom Pelosi invited to the stage and gave congratulations for bringing national attention to Washington State and helping to fuel the momentum for a change in leadership in Congress. I probably don't need to mention that the Mayor and the entire City Council proudly flanked the Speaker as she delivered her strong message of hope, dedication of purpose, and activism. Pelosi is physically small, but in person it's hard not to feel the immensity of her passion for positive change.

Though she was on a tight schedule to fly back home before the Congressional session resumes on Monday, she and her staff had made a promise that every single woman in that room would get to have her picture taken with the Speaker. She stayed until that promise was fulfilled.

Posted by shoephone on April 14, 2007 at 01:46 AM in National and International Politics, Policy | Permalink | Comments (2)

April 12, 2007

50% +1 = Democracy

The Washington State Senate passed a constitutional amendment to allow simple majority approval of school levies.  That's good news for those of us who like the idea of democracy, in which we (mostly) do things by majority vote.

Posted by Jon Stahl on April 12, 2007 at 09:07 PM in Ballot Initiatives, Policy | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 11, 2007

Real Math: You don't have street cred if you can't do the math

Crosscut admonishes the Seattle Weekly for leaving the math out of their "muckraking" piece on Seattle's Real Change Homeless Newspaper. It did sort of crack me up that Tim Harris closed his blog post with "They should stick to stories about how it's OK now to wear loud sweaters, or how there's too many cigarette butts on the sidewalks" and the Weekly's cover this week, "Inside the never say die world of dog rescuers!"

Read story at NewsCloud.

Posted by Jeff on April 11, 2007 at 11:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Local Ban on cellphone use while driving passes Legislature

It's about time! I think headsets will be legal. Washington will soon join a small list of states that restrict talking on a hand-held cellphone while driving.

Read story at NewsCloud.

Posted by Jeff on April 11, 2007 at 10:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Imus' contrition & the national quest for accountability... of SOMEone.

Cross-posted at: DailyKos and MyLeftWing

(as well as split off from the original post as advised)

Poor old Imus, got caught with his hand in the cookie jar yet again. He's certainly taking on hell of a flogging for it on a nation scale. Which he's had coming to an extent, but honestly, the overwhelming coverage and public beating seems a extreme in a sense.

There's a sub-text to it all, that I haven't seen addressed at all, let alone even voiced. Bear with me here...

As much as I'm LOATHE to keep this seriously unnewsworthy little story, there's something worth paying attention to in this whole thing.

I'll dispense with the obligatory caveats of the undefendable comments and record Mr Imus has quite clearly. That's really mostly irrelevant to my point here.

The intensity and single-mindedness across the nation over seeing him reap the consequences of what he's sown, is relentless. I believe it is also significantly enhanced by a larger, very visceral desire, perhaps obsession, in seeing real, substantial accountability be exacted for the many, many, MANY mistakes, crimes, and deceptions of our ongoing political process. For the never ending misdeeds of those in power upon this country.

After so many years of one scandal, one tragedy after another, with next to no consequences for those responsible. The craving for justice, for very REAL accountability is thick and raging in all our hearts. So much so, that it's become somewhat of an obsession by the public at large.

I think it's at least a big part of what's been driving the rabid pursuit of holding Imus here responsible and demanding there be very real punishment. Clear, severe consequences.

We're thwarted of receiving the justice our political elite, as well as the complicit/incompetent MSM, have coming for the long list of insult and injuries the public has been subject to for far, far too long.

Imus' little blunder here, added to all the rest of the little verbal faux pas', has created one HELL of a case of what the CIA refers to as "blowback".

We will no longer be denied justice, we will no longer leave misdeeds unanswered for. We will make such a noise that even GOD himself sits up and takes notice.

And we will demand justice at ANY turn that requires it and we will not relent. It's growing stronger and stronger as the days go by, as the craving continues unabated.

Let's just hope that the quest for it doesn't leave too much collateral damage as the demand becomes a perfect storm of retribution.

Posted by Erevann on April 11, 2007 at 09:46 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (7)

April 10, 2007

A brief introduction...

All theory, dear friend, is grey, but the golden tree of actual life springs ever green.

- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749-1832)

Having been recently invited to join in here in this fine Washington community, it seems only polite to properly introduce myself, so here goes...

I am James Murray; though most online know me as Erevann. Odds are, if you see that alias used somewhere, it's most likely me (though there does seem to be a young gamer in France who had picked up the name for a while). I was born in Detroit MI in 1972, with a surprisingly clear memory of my youngest years in the '70's. I recall clearly seeing Nixon resign on a black & white TV, Carter's presidency, the Iranian hostage crisis, and a personal keystone moment of Reagan's first inauguration, as I was in Catholic school in a tiny town in Kansas at the time. Oh yes, I know redstate living quite intimately.

I've been a presence online since the late 80's as a pre-teen on Prodigy, using a good old MacSE. Techie and tinkerer, I'm a software engineer, working one contract or another on the MS campus for almost a decade now. If it beeps and can electrocute you, I've probably toyed with it. But of course, that's my bread and butter (though sometimes, simply bread!).

My interests in the political realm revolve mostly around the communications, specifically the more cognitively oriented aspects of the never ending, macro and micro political discussion we are all engaged in. For instance, one of my favorite past times, is engaging those of a more rightward political bent, in face to face discussions. For actually persuading and disabusing people of particular misconceptions (which seem to run rampant in any age), there's no better method in terms of making real progress, at least in my experience.

For the time being, the focus of my writing consists of:

  1. How to address the stark divisiveness of American politics, the failures of communication as it applies to politics, world affairs, and engagement in discussion between diverse points of view.
  2. Perhaps more importantly, the welfare, support, and consequences of American military personnel both within and returning from combat.
  3. The culture, religions, and history of many of the worlds people and how they relate to politics and world affairs.
  4. Economic and employment issues, with a large dose of union/labor perspective.
  5. Lastly, an overriding theme of what ties these topics together, influencing the bigger picture perspective, at the local, state, and national levels.

I'll be sharing my personal experiences and conversations with our men and women in uniform in particular, as well as my habit of engaging in discussions with those from the other side of the aisle. Try to tell their stories and be the voices of those who wish to remain anonymous. I'll offer insight and advice, as well as accept and put into practice the same, on how best to keep the dialogue productive.

I am greatly looking forward to the discussion and input of everyone here. Since I began participating in the growing online political community, my experience and education concerning just about every topic imaginable has grown right along with it. It's given me hope these past years and despite everything, created in me a relentless optimism for the future, I can't help but seek to share.

I'm honored and grateful, having barely graduated from high school 15 years ago myself, to be invited and welcomed to join such knowledgeable and educated individuals, as are here in this wonderful little piece of the political blogosphere. I have a feeling that in addition to everything else, it's going to be a lot of fun!

Posted by Erevann on April 10, 2007 at 10:54 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (6)

Microsoft naysayer bandwagon gets crowded

Before those Washington State legislators fall over themselves to give more tax breaks to Microsoft, they should probably read up on the software giant's possibly declining fortunes. When Goldman Sachs takes you off their favorites list, there is a problem. "It's over after Vista," says one analyst.

Read story at NewsCloud.

Posted by Jeff on April 10, 2007 at 10:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sullivan's Background Being Questioned

The Seattle Times is reporting that acting US attorney, Jeffrey Sullivan, may have more skeletons in his closet than the occasional racial slur -- the kind that hinge on qualification for the job of top prosecutor.

In 2004, a state Court of Appeals ruled that Sullivan, as Yakima County prosecutor, had been responsible for "egregious misconduct" in a 2002 robbery trial when he connected a stolen gun to a defendant named Alexander Martinez, even though Sullivan knew of evidence disproving the connection.

"The State prosecutor's withholding of exculpatory evidence until the middle of a criminal jury trial is likewise so repugnant to principles of fundamental fairness that it constitutes a violation of due process," the court ruled.

Sullivan claims the matter was a clerical error.

Now some critics say the case was shocking enough to question making Sullivan one of the top law-enforcement officials in the state. His supporters, though, say enough doubt remains about Sullivan's role that it shouldn't disqualify him.

"You have to place it in context — things can happen," said King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng, one of several prominent backers. "He's a gifted trial lawyer in the courtroom, a wonderful advocate, a superb manager."

It seems the path to finding a replacement for McKay is becoming something of a long, hard slog. Sullivan, as McKay's right-hand man, appeared to be an easy fit for the job. Dozens of years of experience, well-regarded, etc. etc. etc. And, in actuality, there may be nothing to this latest red flag. The problem for the WA State GOP is that, with every turn, it looks more and more inept.

Has Maleng done an about face on his promotion of Rick White? If I was Maleng, I'd be running away from that Rick White mistake too. After all, it's just not good PR to promote someone for an attorney's job when he's not even licensed to practice. But now that Sullivan is facing questions, and Mike Vaska isn't seriously being touted by anyone, even those who put him on the short list in the first place, the search for McKay's replacement may be back at square one.

Posted by shoephone on April 10, 2007 at 08:39 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (4)

April 09, 2007

Monica Goodling - Only The Tip of the Iceberg?

It is gratifying that we are now seeing attention being paid to the increasingly deep levels of damage being done to the rule of law in the Bush Administration.  Heaven only knows where we'd be right now had we all - a blend of citizens and blogs and activists and traditional media - not called attention to all this.  And it is terrifying to see how many of levels of government have been damaged by this administration. 

On the visible level, we've had what will likely be judged criminal behavior from Jack Abramoff, Tom Delay, Mark Foley, Duke Cunningham, Scotter Libby, Ralph Reed, and Stephen Griles.   Of course, there have been and will be many more.  Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, others, may get away without seeing the inside of a prision cell. 

But these high level folks could never have done what they did by themselves.  We are only beginning to see in the basement where the sausage was being made.   

And one of the most hard-working young people servicing the great Bush monster administration was Monica Goodling, who just resigned from the position of senior counsel to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Justice Department liaison to the White House.  She was in the basement just a few short years ago, working in the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2000.   (Catch this great video-clip of her that Josh Marshall uncovered.)

Goodling was a 1995 graduate of Messiah College, an evangelical Christian school, and a 1999 graduate of Regent University Law School. 

Charlie Savage, writing at the Boston Globe yesterday, says:

The Regent law school was founded in 1986, when Oral Roberts University shut down its ailing law school and sent its library to Robertson's Bible-based college in Virginia. It was initially called "CBN University School of Law" after the televangelist's Christian Broadcasting Network, whose studios share the campus and which provided much of the funding for the law school. (The Coors Foundation is also a donor to the university.) The American Bar Association accredited Regent 's law school in 1996.

In 2001, Kay Cole James, then the dean of Regent's government school, was selected to be the director of the Office of Personnel Management for the Bush executive branch.  One out of every six graduates works in government; 150 of them work in the Bush Administration.   

The doors of opportunity for government jobs were thrown open to Regent alumni.

"We've had great placement," said Jay Sekulow , who heads a non profit law firm based at Regent that files lawsuits aimed at lowering barriers between church and state. "We've had a lot of people in key positions."

It got even easier in 2002 when John Ashcroft, who now teaches at Regent, "changed longstanding rules for hiring lawyers to fill vacancies in the career ranks."

The changes resulted in a sometimes dramatic alteration to the profile of new hires beginning in 2003, as the Globe reported last year after obtaining resumes from 2001-2006 to three sections in the civil rights division. Conservative credentials rose, while prior experience in civil rights law and the average ranking of the law school attended by the applicant dropped.

So, what are these young lawyers doing?

According to Dahlia Lithwick, writing in the Sunday edition of the Washington Post:

The express goal is not only to tear down the wall between church and state in America but also to enmesh the two.

Jeffrey A. Brauch, the law school's dean, urges that students reflect upon "the critical role the Christian faith should play in our legal system."

And Monica's role in this, the way Monica integrated her Christian faith into our legal system?  Here is emptywheel's theory:

You see, I think it highly likely that one of the reasons Goodling is pleading the Fifth is because she caused Paul McNulty to commit perjury. But another reason--a much bigger one, given the centrality of the politicization of DOJ hiring to the scandal surrounding the USA purge, is because she committed regular violations of the laws in place to prevent the politicization of our career employees.

T.R. Goldman and Emma Schwartz, writing at the Legal Times, take it from here.  They report that Monica was a close associate of the infamous Barbara Comstock, head of opposition research for the RNC and later the chief spokeswoman for Ashcroft.  Then, in 2005, Goodling:

moved into Gonzales’ office as a senior counsel and soon took on the responsibilities of White House liaison. In that post, Goodling served as the gatekeeper for the White House for all 400-some political appointees in the Justice Department, from U.S. attorneys and marshals to secretaries.

Interviews for U.S. attorney replacements took place with only a handful of people: David Margolis, the department’s top-ranking career official and a 40-plus year veteran; a member of the White House Counsel’s Office; the head of the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys; and Goodling.


When the ultimate plan for the firing of the other seven U.S. attorneys went into effect, Goodling rode the point, directing the public-relations team.

I personally would not be surprised if we find her fingerprints on the mysterious midnight insertion of the no-oversight of interim appointments clause into the Patriot Act.  The young Monica Goodling may turn out to be the junior Karl Rove, at the center of what will  be the old College Republican gang of another generation.  That group of hard-working young Republicans - Karl Rove, Lee Atwater, Jack Abramoff, Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist, to count a few, turned out to be rather significance characters.  And from another corner of the dank Republican cellar came Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and the gang of neocons left over from the Richard Nixon days.

I only hope is that we are able to use the technology of our times to uncover her role and the role of the other 149 Regent law school grads in the Bush Administration and then keep track of them so they don't come back to haunt us over and over for decades to come, as their Republican predecessors did.

Posted by Lynn Allen on April 9, 2007 at 09:47 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

April 08, 2007

Jane on NPR

The intrepid blogger who made her way to Iraq, Jane Stillwater, was interviewed this morning on NPR.  They reported that Jane was the first person who asked John McCain a question last week.  She compared sending our soldiers into Iraqi neighborhoods with the foolishness of sending soldiers into battle in World War I that Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote about in the "Charge of the Light Brigade".  She talked about the blunders of the Bush Administration in getting us in this war.  Needless to say, McCain didn't respond or comment; he just went on to the next question. 

Hearing about Jane reminded me to check in on Jane's blog again.  There I learned that she had been scheduled to be interviewed by CNN but her comments to McCain squelched that.  Too bad, she would have had an interesting perspective. 

On her blog, she talks about her experiences in the Green Zone, the only area she's been allowed to be in.  Here's how she summarized what she's seen: 

I’m tired of being in Iraq. I’m tired of facing tragedy here day after day. This country is in trouble. This country is screwed.

I’ve been in Iraq for a week now and already I’m ready to go home. Everywhere I look, there is tragedy – tragedy for the Americans, tragedy for the Iraqis. This country is like Humpty Dumpty. It’s a freaking broken egg. And nothing the Americans or the insurgents or the thugs or the Iraqi government can do will put it back together again and make it back into an egg.

So. If you can’t put the egg back in its shell, what CAN you do? Make an omelet? Sure. But even if you make it into the best omelet in the world, Iraq is still gonna get all eaten up.

I wrote a brief piece on Jane and how she arrived in Iraq a couple of weeks ago.

Posted by Lynn Allen on April 8, 2007 at 08:54 AM in Media, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (9)

Northwest Radio Show Fighting the American Taliban

Right here in the Northwest, Trinity United Methodist Church's Reverend Rich Lang has started a radio show to teach people that Jesus was not a material being that wanted to eradicate estate taxes and control your body:

Is evangelical fundamentalism the only way to practice Christianity? Of course not. In fact, many liberal Christians believe it is the wrong way.

Now, a progressive pastor in Ballard wants to do something about it on the air. Rich Lang, pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church, has started an exciting radio program called Living Faith Now to take back the faith and reclaim Christianity. An alternative Christian talk show, Living Faith Now lifts up the themes of nonviolence, compassion, cooperation and community. It will articulate the progressive family values of Jesus, his commitment of economic justice to the poor, care of creation, compassion for the excluded, and resistance to empire!

An example of some topics coming up in future shows are:

*** Why the Church must evolve.
*** How to be a spiritual family.
*** Prayer as revolutionary power.
*** Are We a Christian Nation?
*** Are Nuclear Weapons a Heresy?
*** What happens after we die?
*** Who would Jesus Bomb?
*** Can the Church be Gay? Homosexuality as Christian Sacrament
*** George Bush and the Spirit of Antichrist

Living Faith Now can be heard live in Seattle on KKNW (1150 AM) Fridays at 2 pm. You can also stream it.

This coming week (April 13) our guest will be Michelle Goldberg, author of Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism and we will discuss the question, “is the Christian Right still a political threat to democracy?”

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Posted by Jeff on April 8, 2007 at 08:33 AM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 06, 2007

Central Park Calls in the Dogs, Hoping They’ll Drive Out the Geese

story photo
New York City is using three border collies to solve their Canada Geese problem. It's a refreshing, humane and intelligent article in contrast to Seattle's gassing Green Lake's Canada Geese. Mayor Nickels so badly wants Seattle to become a major metropolitan city...take note Greg. Humane is in.

Read story at NewsCloud.

Posted by Jeff on April 6, 2007 at 10:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Finally a Port Issue (and Candidacy) We Can Understand

Bill Bryant, candidate for the Seattle Port Commission, is attempting to unseat current port commissioner Alec Fisken.  In this Democratic city, Bryant must have figured he needed to present himself as a liberal, especially when taking on one of the more liberal port commissioners.  I, along with many other Democrats, received a campaign letter from Bryant a couple of months ago.  It was interesting enough to make me think it might be difficult to choose between Fisken and this new guy, Bill Bryant.  He quoted Barack Obama.   He talked about caring passionately about preserving competitiveness and family wage jobs and about cleaning up Elliott Bay.   

He did not say that he contributed over $25,000 to Republican candidates from 1999 to 2006 while contributing nothing to Democrats. 

Bryant talked about the port needing new leadership.  Yep!

But I don't think we need a candidate who tries to cover up his Republican roots and the support he is likely to receive from a staunch, pro-status quo PAC mis-named Citizens for a Healthy Economy (CHE).   Noemie Maxwell of Washblog did a nice piece of investigation, talking with both Fisken and Bryant and digging out the numbers on CHE and Bryant's contributions.  According to Fisken:

CHE was formed to oppose Jack Jolley, who was challenging Port Commissioner Pat Davis. Jolley supported a phase-out of the levy and Pat Davis has fought to maintain it.

According to Fisken, these same interests are backing Bryant.  They have a strong interest in keeping that levy.  That's why CHE went after Jack Jolley last year and and want Alec Fisken out this year.  Both support a phase-out of a levy on county taxpayers.  Noemie clarifies the issue and gives us a reason to care: 

The Port of Seattle (POS) collects a property levy in King County of 23.17 cents on every $1,000 of assessed value. That's a projected $68 million in 2007. In contrast, Portland, Tacoma, and Vancouver, WA each collect less than $10 million per year. Port of Seattle Commissioner Alec Fisken tells us that, with the exception of these three ports, "most large ports in North America do not collect any taxes. In fact, most contribute money to their communities in the form of taxes or other payments."


An emerging consensus is that the levy is unique nationwide in its size and that it benefits big business but does not truly serve the public interest.

So, I thank and echo Noemie.  Don't be fooled by Bill Bryant trying to pretend he's a Democrat trying to do what's best for the working people of King County.  And pay attention to this levy issue.  I'm guessing that the Port has been under the radar for so long that almost no one can figure out what the real issues are.  It's time we figure it out.   

Posted by Lynn Allen on April 6, 2007 at 09:53 PM in The Politics of Business | Permalink | Comments (6)

April 05, 2007

A Real Life "Supporting the Troops" Post

James, who lives in Seattle and goes by the name Erevann when he writes at DailyKos, has a diary that reads like a short story - it is so well written.  I had to keep reminding myself that this was a real life story about helping out an off and on friend just back from Iraq. 

First, here's his description of the time he first connected with "Evan" years ago:

He takes the bottle and throws back a good 2 swallow throw, hands it to me and tells me to hit it, I'm going to need it. Then he winks at me, fucking WINKS at me, and starts shouting all sorts of insanity. "I'm going to kick your ass, you're dating my girl!" starts making noise and banging around, not coming near me at all. The whole time, with a cheshire grin like I've never seen.

After a little of this, he quiets down and explains. Seems he was fond of the idea of getting under her skin and making her sweat. Tell me he'd been listening to her tell him about me and had been observing me in the hours before we actually sat down and met, and as much as he'd love to actually hammer me, he couldn't, cause he knew I was a good guy and it wouldn't be right.

That's what I call good writing.

Then James talks about Evan's life since being back and forth to Iraq.   

Since going to Iraq, he's been there and back, and in a constant struggle with the VA over disability and care. Been through TX and GA, always nearby an Army base to be near his pals in the unit when they're stateside. He went over and drove a truck from Kuwait all the way through to Baghdad right at the beginning of the war and was stationed all around Baghdad over the time he was there.

He's back, and busted up pretty good, but he can still function physically. Due to his injuries, he has somewhat random fits of vomiting. He's also been diagnosed with PTSD. Most of the specifics of what happened while he was there, have been confined to the stupid or obnoxious stunts him and his pals pulled over there. Or his antics due to his SERIOUS penchant for insubordination and disdain for self-righteous officers. The closest he's come to talking about any combat, was a night in a ditch listening to gun-fire.

James will have Evan living with him shortly, his contribution to "supporting our troops".  I will interested in hearing more as time goes by.

Posted by Lynn Allen on April 5, 2007 at 09:45 PM in National and International Politics, Taking Action | Permalink | Comments (8)

The Kerrys in Seattle

John and Theresa Kerry were at TownHall Tuesday evening.  Senator Kerry was articulate and knowledgeable and pretty good at communicating a fierceness about the need for more rapid change.  He seemed more at ease with the 400 folks at TownHall than I recall him being on the campaign trail in 2004.  Makes you think there is something rather freeing in losing the presidency for these men like Gore and Kerry who had prepared much of their lives to be president and are now free of that compulsion.   

Theresa has a quality of creating intimacy that is profoundly unexpected in a public person.  She brings her own life stories and experiences into the conversation in such a manner than you think you are in the family room with her, having tea and chatting.  Her stories, of growing up in Mozambique and going around to bush families with her doctor father, are remarkable.

I liked the theme of the book they just wrote, "This Moment in Time," showcases ordinary Americans who've stood up to protect their land and community against polluters.  This is from an interview that Joel Connelly did with Kerry

"These people have fought to get the government to do what the government is supposed to do," John Kerry said Tuesday.

What does it say about Washington, D.C., when forces for urgently needed reform can be found in places such as the Yakima Valley and the Neuse River of North Carolina?

"It says our political culture is broken: It's sick," Kerry said in a Seattle visit. "The American people are leading on matters vital to the country. The capital is barely catching up."

I had planned on writing up what I heard them both say but a commenter over at DailyKos, beachmom, did quite a fine job of sharing what Senator Kerry, in particular, said, pulling from both David Postman at the Times and Joel Connelly at the PI

Posted by Lynn Allen on April 5, 2007 at 08:41 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 04, 2007

Was the University of Washington negligent in Griego's killing?

This UW police report shows that they were aware the killer had threatened to kill the victim just a few weeks ago.

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Posted by Jeff on April 4, 2007 at 12:25 PM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 03, 2007

Looking at Elizabeth and John Edwards with Cancer Lifeline Folks

The American public is hungering for authentic presences on the national front.  Even before the Edwardses announcement last week, that was clear.  The mostly positive responses to Elizabeth and John's 1-2 announcement that 1) she has treatable but incurable, metastasized breast cancer and 2) they were going to continue on his/their quest for the presidency despite that, have confirmed that idea.  In fact it appears that the courage and grace and willingness to talk about real things like death that they exhibited touched a cord for people.   Both John Edwards' poll numbers and his contributions went way up this last week.  The Seattle Times had both an editorial and a great article by Joni Balter that praised their composure and calm in the face of the cancer and their resolution to go on with a candidacy that clearly matters so much to them.

Syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman had this oft-repeated quote from Elizabeth that summed up her message and was delivered with a grace that we have rarely seen on the American political landscape:

"We're all going to die," said Elizabeth. "And I pretty much know what I'm going to die of. ... But I do want to live as full and normal a life as I can from this point on."

Like so many people, I was greatly moved and hugely impressed with the basic decency and integrity that their announcements showed.  I have found that people who grapple with their own death or the deaths of those closest to them, are often, not always but often, living with a spirit that is just a pleasure to be around.  They have had a fast path to becoming their essential selves and it shows. 

John Edwards has been very clear that he "is seeking neither votes nor campaign contributions by exploiting his wife's tragedy".   Nonetheless, when we see people doing an amazing thing right in front of us,  we as a nation are going to be more willing to allow them into our lives - which is likely to translate to votes.

I decided I'd check in with a couple of folks who are very familiar in dealing with individuals and families living with cancer and dying of cancer both.  So I asked my friend, Marian Svinth, current Chair of the Board at Cancer Lifeline in Seattle, if I might talk with her and Jan Gray, Executive Director of the organization.  Marian first gave me a little tour through the remodeled building in the Greenlake neighborhood where Cancer Lifeline has been located since 1999.  The building is the brainchild of Barbara Frederick, the long-time former Executive Director.   A lot of love has gone into the different small garden areas, indoor and outdoor meditation/prayer/family areas, art areas, kitchen, hallways, offices, all of it.   Dozens of organizations and families in the Seattle area have contributed to making this place very special, whether by bringing flowers by every week or loaning art or providing materials for incredibly touching and beautiful art projects.

There was one exhibit that particularly grabbed me.  There were several dozen individually made torso "masks" displayed in the upper hallway and down the stairs to the main floor.  Marian said that a department store had provided the bare plastic torsos of women's bodies.  Then individual women worked with these, using paints, fabrics, and cut-outs to describe visually how they felt about their breasts and tummies and pelvic areas.  They were stunning.   

I was there to ask Jan and Marian about how they saw the reactions to the Edwardses twin announcements and how it fit with their understanding of how folks living with and around cancer reacted.  My interview with them is over the fold preceded by a brief description of the services that the organization provides.

About Cancer Lifeline

Cancer Lifeline provides a toll-free 24-hour "lifeline" for people living with cancer.  Those in range of the facilities in the Greenlake area of Seattle also have access to a large array of classes, programs and resources.  For thirty years, Cancer Lifeline has been listening to those folks living with cancer, whether it be folks with cancer, cancer survivors or family, friends and caregivers of people with cancer.  The needs they address are informed by that listening and include:

  • Choice and control
  • Information
  • Opportunities to express feelings and emotions without being judged
  • Inclusion rather than isolation   

Interview with Jan Gray and Marian Svinth of Cancer Lifeline

Q:  The reaction to the announcement of Elizabeth's cancer and John's continuing candidacy has been very positive so far.  Does that surprise you?

JG:  Pleasantly so.  I think for many people the first reaction was, "Oh, my God, how could she?"  We're totally about choice and control.  When you reflect that question back to people, most people turn around their reaction.  In this case, I think people shifted to "How do you be negative about what is overall an incredibly positive statement?"

Q:  How does her reaction fit with your understanding of how people respond to news of cancer?   Especially people who are in their second cancer diagnosis?

JG:  She's been there, been through the treatment.  She has an idea of what that implies.  She's been dealing with it for two and a half years already. 

MS: She's been through the journey once.  It's not blind and terrifying.

JG:  What I say is, death is a minute.  Everything else is life.  People have commented to us on this.  For the most part, people are saying, "You go, girl!"  Also, there is good reason to be optimistic.  There are hormonal treatments that have allowed people to be well for years with this type of cancer.

Q:  What else did you see in her very public responses?

MS:  A lot of authenticity.  There was a congruence between the words and music.  It's easy to say you support "Control and Choice" but when someone's choice isn't the one you think you'd make, it can be difficult.  When someone is as congruent as she has been in how they speak and come across, it is much easier to see that this is really her choice.

JG:  Making that choice in the public arena must have been weighty.  Most of us do it in private.  They couldn't pretend for a moment that this wouldn't be fodder for the pundits.  Their reaction was amazing.

MS:  We got to see how well they dealt with it at the moment.

Q:  Do you see any political consequences?

JG:  As a feminist, separate from my role in this organization, I think it has really turned the political dynamic on its head.  We have a woman, Hillary Clinton, running for office.  Now we also have a man, John Edwards, who says his first commitment is to his wife.  He has already proven that he means it.  I don't think any other man in public office, Bill Clinton included, could say that and so clearly mean it.

MS:  John Edwards is the candidate who has already thought through his healthcare policy.  It was in fact driven in part by his wife's original diagnosis and treatment.  This situation will likely keenly inform the health care proposals in this next election.

Thank you.

Posted by Lynn Allen on April 3, 2007 at 03:12 PM in Interviews, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

More domestic violence: 1 dead in Atlanta CNN complex shooting

Mirroring events in Seattle, another domestic violence dispute ends in death of the victim in Atlanta. Which leads me to ask? Are guns making domestic violence too easy? When are we going to do something in this country about guns?

Read story at NewsCloud.

Posted by Jeff on April 3, 2007 at 11:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Time for Pharmacy Board -- and Governor -- to Get it Right

The P.I. printed a Sunday editorial that called on the Washington State Board of Pharmacy to quit dilly-dallying with patients' rights and approve rules that direct pharmacists to fill prescriptions, regardless of personal moral and religious views.

We've heard, time and time again, that this sort of change would remove pharmacists' authority and force them to act in a way that contradicts their personal beliefs.

We certainly don't advocate turning pharmacists into automatic drug-dispensing machines. But pharmacists aren't valued for their religious beliefs -- we have spiritual advisers for that. It's their useful, in-depth knowledge of pharmaceuticals that makes them indispensable to us.

That summarizes the debate in a way that makes total sense. It is a pharmacist's responsibility to not dispense a medication that might contra-indicate with something you are already taking. For example, you would want your pharmacist to alert you against a medication that could cause bleeding when you are already on a blood-thinner like Coumadin. However, it is not part of the pharmacists' job to use the prescription counter as their personal pulpit, and it's about damned time someone in a position of power said so. How about the governor? Gregoire has spent the better part of a year trying to find a "compromise" on this issue when a "compromise" is not appropriate. And it sets a very dangerous precedent when political leaders are so squeamish about offending the religious moralists among us that good medical policy is thrown to the curb. The prescription my pharmacist is required to fill comes from my doctor, and no amount of priggishness wafting from behind the counter should be able to circumvent the authority of the agreement between me and my doctor. Period.

This whole fiasco began last year when the pharmacy board passed a ruling in June that gave the moralizers and religious zealots the right to refuse medication to pharmacy customers. It was brought to the fore because some pharmacists freaked out over Plan B, the emergency contraceptive that prevents fertilization of an egg if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. The moralizers pushed the false theory that Plan B is an abortion pill -- which it is NOT -- and therefore, those who are opposed to choice should have the right to deny women the medication. Lynn Allen wrote an excellent, comprehensive post about the issue at that time:

The right-wing war on contraception is now being waged here in Washington State. Yesterday, the Board of Pharmacy endorsed a vaguely worded proposal that allows pharmacists the "right" to decline to fill prescriptions that are in conflict with their personal beliefs.

Although we could make a mockery of their intentions and mull over what pharmacists might choose to decline -- unmarried men with prescriptions for Viagra? People too undisciplined to excercise who take appetite supressants? Teenagers with skin disorders desperate to rid themselves of acne? It's clear that this, like other attempts around the country, is designed to decrease a woman's right to get emergency contraceptive medication.

Instead of settling the issue, it only fueled further debate when thousands of outraged Washingtonians weighed in to oppose any moralistic power grabs at the expense of their rights to medication prescribed by their own doctors. So, on Thursday, July 20, the pharmacy board voted to reconsider the earlier ruling. Then the governor worked her wiles for a "compromise" by last August 31, whereby pharmacists would be required to fill prescriptions, but she still left a loophole for the moralizers to not comply if there was another pharmacist on hand who would fill it. And of course, this did not settle the basic question of what to do with pharmacists who have personal issues with their customers' medical needs. That compromise only served to please self-appointed prescription preachers like Jim Ramseth, from Covington, who decided long ago it was up to him to draw the line on which prescriptions he would consent to fill. In fact, Ramseth left the August 31 meeting feeling very satisfied:

Jim Ramseth, a South King County pharmacist who has been outspoken about his right to make medical and business decisions based on his own moral code, left the meeting almost gleeful. The board, as he saw it, had done nothing to hinder him -- or his refusal to sell Plan B.

Because Ramseth refuses to stock Plan B at his pharmacy, the possibility of having another pharmacist on hand to dispense it is rendered moot. Women needing the medication are made to visit pharmacy after pharmacy, hoping that one will do its job in time. Remember, Plan B only works within a 72-hour time frame. So if you happen to live in a town populated by moralizing pharmacists, you'd best pack a bag and gas up the car, because you're going to be traveling some to get what you need. The ironic -- and truly sick -- part of that scenario is that not being able to find a willing pharmacist within the 72 hours makes it all the more likely that the woman will end up having an abortion, which is what the moralizers claim they are trying to prevent in the first place.

It's really a shame that the governor has allowed this to happen. She could have shown real leadership and done what Rod Blagojevich, Illinois' governor, did in 2005 when the zealots tried the same tactic there. He wrote up an executive order mandating that all pharmacists comply -- regardless of personal beliefs.  And our legislature could have acted by now to take care if this. Last summer, after the June ruling, legislators Jeanne Kohl-Wells and Karen Keiser promised thay would draft a bill. But so far, nothing. The pharmacy board is slated to make a final decision on April 12. What happens if the ruling allows pharmacists to opt out? Will we be hearing from the governor or the legislators? Since the legislative session is about to come to a close, let's hope that our elected officials won't wimp out. We need leadership on this issue. We need resolution about our rights. We need for them to finally stand up and do the right thing.

Posted by shoephone on April 3, 2007 at 09:51 AM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (2)

David Sirota on Union-Busting at Microsoft . . .

And other reasons for the political emergence of populism around economic issues such as jobs going overseas, trade and stagnant wage levels.  Sirota writes about the connections he made about this issue when he was visiting the Microsoft campus in Redmond.

Here's the first sentence he wrote in an article for the San Francisco Chronicle last Friday:

A RULE of thumb for understanding American politics: The federal government only reacts to popular will when the upper-middle professional class starts making noise. Everyone else's voice falls on deaf ears. This is an unfortunate reality, but it is reality.

Just as the protests against the Vietnam War are much larger than the protests against the Iraq War, largely because middle-class boys were being drafted in the 60's, Sirota contends that he recent emergence of economic populism as a potent politcal issue is due to the job anxiety that upper middle class folks find themselves in now.

Much of the article discusses the anger and anxiety of the well-paid Microsoft workers.  He says it all made perfect sense after he talked with Microsoft workers:

With buzzing twentysomething worker bees and beige low-rise buildings dotting a bucolic setting, the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Wash., looks like a cross between a university and a suburban office park. The comfortably tranquil image is carefully massaged by company icon Bill Gates, who cheerily testified to Congress this month that "anyone here in the United States who has [computer engineering] skills is going to have a super-high-paying jobs." Yet a darker reality emerges when talking to workers.

They pointed me to company documents published by the worker advocacy group WashTech, proving Microsoft salaries for mid-level full-time employees have been stagnating, even as company revenues rise. They fumed over how the company employs thousands of "permatemps" -- full-time employees technically designated "temporary" so the company does not have to pay them as well or provide them benefits.

Sirota talked discreetly with permatemps who say they are forced to compete with temporary, nonresident workers who are paid $13,000 less per year than American workers in the same jobs.  A total of 1.1 million American information-sector jobs have been eliminated in the last five years.  Here's what one of the Microsoft temps says:

"You can knock yourself out here and do your best and fix a thousand bugs," he said. "But at the end of that, they can -- and often do -- just say goodbye. And everyone here knows that."

And the Union-busting?

WashTech has tried to convert workers' anger into union drives. But those grinning, business-casual Microsoft executives have learned a thing or two about how to bust unions. One example: When a handful of Microsoft workers developing fledgling tax software took an initial step to unionize, the entire project was terminated by management.

Read the entire article.  Jerome a Paris, a regular commenter over at DailyKos has a graph and a post that back up what Sirota is saying 100%. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on April 3, 2007 at 09:31 AM in The Politics of Business, Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 02, 2007

University of Washington staffer killed by stalker, guns and domestic violence

story photo

I hate to say it but protection orders are for women who want to free themselves from annoying men. If you feel truly unsafe, you need to do whatever you can to escape the threat ... while also taking every available legal measure as well. Truly violent offenders are often only more enraged by protection orders - but not restrained by them.

How many more women gunshot victims have to land on the front pages before we see King County provide additional assistance to women facing threats like this?

I have to license my car every year and my driving skills every five, why can psychologically unstable people buy guns so easily?

Read story at NewsCloud.

Posted by Jeff on April 2, 2007 at 11:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Seattle has a new site for news, Crosscut.com

Crosscut.com launched this morning at midnight. Co-founder David Brewster has an introduction here and Knute Berger is back, mossback that is.

Disclaimer: I'm a minority investor in Crosscut.

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Posted by Jeff on April 2, 2007 at 11:42 AM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 01, 2007

What Happened to the Rick White Consideration?

It's curious that the major media organizations haven't probed into how Rick White, who's not permitted to practice law in Washington and doesn't have the qualifications required to be a U.S. attorney, ended up on the short list for that position. Dave Reichert, who was chosen to draw up the list of possible replacements for fired prosecutor McKay, put White's name into consideration. Then, just days later, after expressing concerns about the reasons McKay was purported to have been fired, Reichert said he thinks McKay should be given his old job back. Forget the fact that McKay has already said "thanks, but no thanks" to that proposition. Reichert's support for White seems to have evaporated in record time. The day the article about White's little problem of not keeping up with his bar dues was published, I spoke with someone in Reichert's D.C. office who claimed to know nothing about it. And what of King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng, who Reichert picked to lead the search committee? His office has refused to publicly address the issue. Two weeks ago, our own Lynn Allen called Dan Donohoe, Maleng's spokesperson, and received a "no comment".

Okay, they're embarassed to have made such a blunder -- and rightly so -- but the nagging question is: how did White's name end up on that list in the first place? How could he have been considered in the same league as Mike Vaska or acting U.S. attorney Jeff Sullivan?

White hasn't been much in the public eye (and as we know, has not been practicing law) since he lost his congressional seat to Jay Inslee. It's not as if he went to work for the Bush Administration, so at least he can say he wasn't just another neophyte being promoted from within. Today's Washington Post reports that the act of rewarding inexperience has become de rigeur where the prosecutors posts are concerned. And the lucky recipients of those jobs are expected to operate without regard for traditional standards of prosecutorial independence, but with total loyalty to Bush.

About one-third of the nearly four dozen U.S. attorney's jobs that have changed hands since President Bush began his second term have been filled by the White House and the Justice Department with trusted administration insiders.

The people chosen as chief federal prosecutors on a temporary or permanent basis since early 2005 include 10 senior aides to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, according to an analysis of government records. Several came from the White House or other government agencies. Some lacked experience as prosecutors or had no connection to the districts in which they were sent to work, the records and biographical information show.

Inexperience seems to be the calling card of many in the Bush Administration. There is, of course, one person in the White House with vast experience and that's Karl Rove. He's well-practiced in the art of nefariousness so it's a fairly sure bet that his fingerprints, if not his DNA, are all over the firings of the USA Eight. In McKay's case, it wasn't only the Attorney General's office that was fielding complaints from people like Bob Williams, Tom McCabe and former GOP chair Chris Vance. McCabe claimed to be communicating directly with someone in the White House, but it's not yet known who it was. (It's also possible that McCabe is blowing hot air, in an effort to burnish his reputation as a mover and shaker in Republican politics). Vance has said he was in frequent contact with Rove's assistant, Glynda Becker, and she has acknowledged that she received numerous calls from Vance and others about McKay and the (phony) voter fraud charges in the governor's race.

So, who is Glynda Becker, anyway? This woman, who was such an important liason between Rove and the disgruntled Washington State GOP, left her job at the White House last year to join a powerful lobbying firm called McBee Strategic Consulting. She has cut her teeth on Republican politics and, for someone so young, has an impressive CV that includes positions high up in the party. Here's the interesting part: before she got to the White House, she worked as a legislative aide.

Prior to joining the Bush Administration, Glynda spent more than seven years on Capitol Hill including as the Legislative Director for Congressman Mark R. Kennedy from Minnesota and on the legislative staffs of former Congressmen George Nethercutt and Rick White from Washington and in the Washington State House of Representatives in Olympia, Washington.

It's also no suprise that Becker has been a recent and reliable contributor to Riechert's and Doc Hastings' campaigns. Obviously, there is nothing inherently suspicious about contributing to campaigns, but since the information is public, candidates always know who's ponying up. Becker grew up as a very politically-minded Washington State Republican so it's entirely understandable that she would end up working for at least a  few Republicans with ties to the national party. Still, since she has an employment history with Rick White, is known to have communicated frequently with many state Republicans about McKay while working for Rove, and has given money to the man tapped to find McKay's replacement, it may inspire more than passing interest that her former boss somehow ended up as a contender for McKay's job. It's particularly interesting because, in White's case, he had no business whatsoever even being considered for that job. So, just for curiosity's sake: who floated White's name?

Posted by shoephone on April 1, 2007 at 01:33 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (4)