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July 30, 2007

Toothless GOP policy freakout...again!

The boneheads in the Washington state GOP, unable to resist the siren call of a craven race to the bottom, have decided to use the death of Zina Linnick to drive a political stunt. Many on the right have tried to use this as another flag to wave in their anti-brown-people "immigration" crusade, but that isn't really sticking since he came here legally and is a permanent legal resident. So instead they're going to make a display about sex offenders, as they did last year with their bogus (and now illegal) sex offender "notices", in order to scare people and try to make Democrats look "weak" on crime.

The claim is that they want sex offenders who fail to register to spend a year in jail. Under current sentencing guidelines, had Linnick's killer been caught earlier and charged with failure to register, he would have spent...you guessed it, a year in jail. His failure to register already classifies as a Class C felony, and combined with his prior convictions would have pushed him over the year mark, to about 15 months. (On the immigration front, an immigration court will decide if he should be deported, and will of course do so should he be convicted and sentenced to anything less than death.)

As usual, the proposals oozing forth from the GOP are toothless and symbolic, designed to placate a frightened public with a panacea of solution, steer some voters away from Democrats, and set up law enforcement as a fall guy when their laws inevitably fail to prevent someone's death at the hands of a sex offender. In classic Luntz fashion, it doesn't matter to the GOP if they work, and in fact it's better for them if they don't.

"Solutions" offered: Call an emergency 2-day session of the Legislature (something they would call a waste of taxpayer dollars if suggested by a D), mandatory one-year sentence for offenders who don't register, and a GPS tracking device.

All of which sounds great until you remember that A) a bill like this isn't going to pass in two days and this is just a stunt, B) judicial discretion exists for a reason, and C) the GOP will of course scream to high heaven when the state has to, you know...find a way to pay for all those GPS devices. Not to mention that they don't address the existing problem of how to find unregistered offenders with a system that is shorthanded and underfunded thanks to Republican funding priorities and anti-tax zealotry. (You'll recognize this as the same unspoken quandary preventing our deportation of 12 million illegal immigrants)

The bottom line is that over the years, we've cut our tax base through poorly thought-out initiatives and GOP grandstanding, resulting in underfunded fire protection and law enforcement. Add to this a federal GOP strategy built entirely around the idea of ensuring that government doesn't work, as the conservative worldview requires that government not work, and you see not just state and local, but federal funding for law enforcement cut. As the economy worsens for the have-nots, crime rises, and the remaining police have to spend their time dealing with day-to-day crimes and have no resources to do useful things like go looking for unregistered sex offenders. Instead, they have to wait for them to fall into their hands. What we're seeing with today's GOP press conference is their response to the down-line destruction they have wrought upon themselves. Life truly is circular, isn't it?

You really want to deal with sex offenders? I have a simple, three-step plan:

  1. Follow Goldy's advice and "stop being such a bunch of conniving, mean-spirited, ham-fisted assholes."
  2. Use your time in the legislature for policy, not politics. Knock it off with the anti-tax Eymanesque nonsense and figure out how we're going to keep paying our bills.
  3. Fully fund law enforcement, so they can dedicate resources to finding and prosecuting unregistered sex offenders.

It ain't magic. If police don't have the resources to find and track them, adding laws on top of laws requiring them to do so isn't going to change a thing. The GOP knows this, and they don't care, as long as they can keep their base frightened.

On the other hand, maybe the GOP could just tap Dino Rossi's idea bank! Lou Guzzo seems to have had a great idea for dealing with capital punishment.

Posted by switzerblog on July 30, 2007 at 02:57 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (2)

Interview with Gael Tarleton, Candidate for Port Commission

“Together, we can change the way the Seattle Port does business.” That is Gael Tarleton’s tagline for her campaign for Port Commissioner.  Very appropriate.  If ever there were an organization that needed to change the way it does business, it is the Seattle Port.

When I interviewed Gael, whom I’ve already been supporting, I was struck by how much her run for the Position 2 seat, currently held by Bob Edwards, is about helping the people of King County understand what the Port does, how it spends our money, how it benefits the region and how we can have input into all that.  She wants to build a Port community and she wants the voters to be part of that.

Hey, I think we need more of that on all our publicly elected councils, boards and commissions!

In response to my question about why she had decided to run for the Port position rather then for a city council seat, Gael gave me two answers.  She said that the Port holds the keys to a lot of the region’s economic viability, one.  Then, she said that the people need to understand how and what the Port does and have a voice in that as well, two.

As a candidate, Gael wants to make sure the voters get an informed view of the Port.  If elected, she wants to continue to educate the people of King County on decisions the Port makes and needs to make.  And, she wants to make sure the Port runs in a completely transparent way.  Transparency is the principle that she started her campaign with, prior even to the public disclosure about the $300,000 golden parachute that Port Commissioners Pat Davis and Bob Edwards tried to provide for former Chief Executive Officer, Mic Dinsmore.

Simplifying complex issues has been Gael’s role through several different jobs.  It’s clear it’s one she relishes.  And, I for one, would like to see someone with a focus on transparency and simplifying complex issues, both aimed at changing the way the Port does business, join the Port as a Commissioner.  I’m not alone.  Gael has a huge number of individuals and organizations who have endorsed her, as you can see at her website.

The full interview is over the fold.

Interview with Gael Tarleton, candidate for Port Commission, Position #2

Q: We already talked about why you wanted to run for this position rather than another.  Now, I’d like to know what it’s been like on the campaign trail.  The Port has not exactly been on the top of the list of what voters pay attention to.

GT:  Yes, the Port Commission has been a real mystery to this community.  A voter asked me recently, “How do you think you can bring the public’s voice back to the Port when most of the people don’t even think they have a voice or understand that they pay for the workings of the Port through their property taxes?”

That’s a fair question.  How do you hold a group of people accountable if you don’t even know what they are supposed to be doing for you?

It makes me realize how important it is for someone like me to be on this particular public commission. The Port’s mission is to serve economic goals and provide community benefits.  People need to know how that happens.  There needs to be a dialog about those goals and benefits between the Commission and the community.

Q: So, what about the controversy about the Port that has most caught  people’s attention - that golden parachute for Mic Dunsmore?  What’s your picture of how that all came down?

GT:  My job as an analyst is to connect the dots.  One of the things I connect is that Bob Edwards and Pat Davis are the longest serving members of the commission and as such, knew exactly what they were talking about when they were discussing a $300,000 golden parachute under what was called the H.R. 10 Policy.  As the only two members of the Audit Committee, Edwards and Davis would have had ample opportunity to have those discussions in private.

Judge Carroll’s released his findings in July.  He said, “It would be unprecedented to use the H.R 10 policy in this manner.”  He also said, “It would be understandable that new members of the commission, who were not familiar with the H.R. 10 Policy, would not understand.  Fisken wasn’t present.  Hara and Creighton were brand new.

In January, 2006, Bob Edwards was the presiding president of the Port Commission. 
Lloyd Hara, a new member of the Commission, suggested that there be an Audit Committee and assumed that he would be selected to be on the committee, given his background as an auditor.  He was not asked to be on the committee.  Jon Creighton was asked but chose not to be a part of that committee so it consisted of only Edwards and Davis.

That audit committee has the authority to meet in public but did not.

Q:  Is that what brought you into the campaign?

GT:  No.  I came in prior to the public knowledge of that “gift” to Mic Dunsmore. 

I started this campaign in early February, before the $300,000 golden parachute was on the agenda.  But I came in because of the lack of transparency in the Port Commission meetings, which is the reason the golden parachute was even possible.  It was a gross violation of public trust.  People didn’t often know what that golden parachute was about, but they knew it was wrong.

This is what public scrutiny should be about.

Q:  How else does the Commission need to be more transparent?

GT:   There are a number of ways of doing business that would make the Commission more transparent, educate the public and move us toward a Port community all at once.

I want the Commission to go out into the communities of King County and hear their thoughts on what the community benefits should be.  I want to establish a series of public meetings that explain what the Port Commission does.  We can talk about the tax levy, and how the decision is reached about how the tax levy is used, and what the current debt obligations are that we need to repay using that tax levy money. 

I really want the public to understand the process the Commission uses to determine how their tax dollars are used. People should know what percentage of the total budget is related to money that comes in from the tax levy.  The annual financial budget is published but it is difficult to understand what it’s about.

But that’s just the beginning.  Once you create a culture of transparency, you will begin to bring trust back to the institution and look toward the future.  You can get onto protecting the working poor, discussing the kinds of jobs we want to create, working with tenants and labor unions and businesses, sustain existing jobs, and bring in new ones.  We can insure that we have a really diversified, working Port – the airport, shipping, cruise lines.  We can focus on all the businesses that keep fishing, tourism, and shipping going.  It means we have to invest in certain kinds of businesses.

None of this will be possible if we destroy our environment or fail to make the Port safe.  None of it will work if we don’t have the transportation networks that the Port runs on.

Q:  You’ve mentioned a Port community.  What do you mean by that?

GT: Port communities have a very real impact on the quality of life of the citizens.  There is a real increased vitality in cities that are on the water and are real ports.   We all have a stake in this.  My goal is to help people understand that.

Q: What kind of support have you been getting?

GT:  I have wrapped up a huge number of endorsements.  Thirteen of the LD’s in the county have endorsed me; many, many elected officials; the Washington Conservation Voters;  the Alki Foundation; Progressive Majority; the Sierra Club and many more.   It’s been pretty much everyone except Labor and they are constrained because one of the other folks running for the position (Jack Block) comes from Labor.  I have told Labor that my door will always be open.

Q:  There’s been some controversy about a company you used to work for, SAIC, (Science Applications International Corporation).  What was that about?

GT:  I used to work at SAIC, which does a lot of work in port security technology, and I solicited contributions from friends and family, including friends at SAIC.  Ten former or current employees have contributed money. 

I understand the potential for conflict of interest and will recuse myself from any decisions.  The transparency that I want to bring to the Port – with open discussion of all contracts - will ensure that nothing untoward happens in this situation as well as other situations. 

One of the problems with Executive sessions that are not made public is that the public has no way to find out what they are talking about, including with contracts.  If there is a conflict of interest, we have no idea.  I will not contribute to that sense of secrecy.  I will use the open meetings to tell people when I have to recuse myself. 

This is how you build a culture of accountability.

(Note: Here is the link to the Seattle Weekly article that discusses this issue.)

Thank you.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 30, 2007 at 08:44 AM in Interviews, The Politics of Business | Permalink | Comments (9)

Republican-led Voter Suppression?

"Sometimes Voter-Suppression is as Important as Vote-Getting", a post that Noemie at Washblog wrote, is chilling.  She investigates a statement she found on a right-wing website on a post by Rose Strong, former Vice Chair of the Georgia Republican Party and a recent candidate for Chair of the Washington State Republican Party.  Strong wrote:

One of the reasons that we were competitive in the governor's election is due to our grassroots hard work and the siphoning off of traditional Democrat votes in King and Pierce Counties.

Noemie checked the Washington State Voter Registration Database and found that 350,000 voters have been taken off the voter rolls, mostly in Democratic-leaning areas.  Take a read.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 30, 2007 at 08:15 AM in Interviews, Strategery | Permalink | Comments (2)

July 28, 2007

Jane is Proud to be a Partisan

Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake had a powerful post up last week that describes perfectly how many of us feel about the need to fight to get our country back and to stand behind those who are labeled as "partisans" in an attempt to get them to shut up. 

Jane talks about going to the Holocaust Museum in DC recently with a friend whose parents were both holocaust survivors.  She wrote particularly about the "partisans" in the war.  These were the people, many of whom were Jews who had escaped from the ghettos or the camps and lived off the land behind German lines.  They fought a small but determined guerilla war against the German soldiers, paying often with their lives.  Here's the tale of one:

Twenty-three-year-old Hannah Senesh, a Hungarian Jew who emigrated to Palestine in 1939, was one of the thirty-two Palestinian parachutists the British dropped behind German lines to organize resistance and rescue efforts. Before crossing the border in Hungary on June 7, 1944, to warn Hungarian Jews about the extermination camps, Senesh, a poet, handed a poem to one of her companions. It ended with these lines: “Blessed is the heart with strength to stop its beating for honor’s sake. Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame.” Senesh was captured the next day and executed as a traitor to Hungary.

Jane's plea for supporting the "partisans" of today resonates. 

So the next time someone starts throwing around blanket condemnations of all “partisanship,” be suspicious. And remind them that this too is what it means to be a partisan:

The need to fight right now to restore the Constitution and end the war is strong, and that means some people are going to have to take a stand against a ruthless and intractable opponent. We need to rally behind them and acknowledge their heroism rather than stand back and allow others to tear them down as “partisans” for their willingness to do so.

Because sometimes fighting is the right thing to do.

I’m proud to be a partisan.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 28, 2007 at 07:15 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

NARAL is Hip

Washington Pro-Choice NARAL has figured out how to appeal to younger folks.  Earlier this week I was at a Karaoke event at the Mainstage Comedy and Music Club sponsored by NARAL - a fundraiser for young people.  It was a blast and at least 90% of the folks in the room were in their 20's.  Now, I find that they have made a YouTube video about the "grown-up" fundraising breakfast they had downtown at the Sheraton a month or so ago.  This is their first video, I suspect, and they are just learning how to make them interesting but it is a great start.  And believe me, if the camera person I saw at the Karaoke event was there to make a similar YouTube about that event, it will be a hit.

Learning to appeal to young voters is wildly critical for progressive organizations to figure out.  So kudos to Karen Cooper, the Executive Director.  She has known for years that the future of her organization lay in bringing in younger people.  She hires young women and they are often the face of the organization - as the woman who introduces the video-clip or the MC at the Karaoke event.

So, Karen sat at a booth at the Karaoke event with a huge Cheshire cat grin, seeing just how well her long-range strategy has paid off.  It was lovely to watch. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 28, 2007 at 06:56 AM in Media, Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 27, 2007

Meet my Dad - Everett City Council candidate

[Cross-posted at Washblog]

This is my Dad, Jackie Minchew. He's running for position 7 on the Everett City Council, and we could use a hand. I want to tell you about him, but I will tell you upfront that I'll be asking for contributions and (this Saturday!) help doorbelling for him, if you happen to live in the great Northwest. So yes, there is an ask for contributions, but this is more about introducing my Dad to people who should know about him. If you don't want to or can't contribute, that's cool, but please read on and learn more about him. He's pretty remarkable, I'm proud of him, and I think this community should know more about what he stands for. Also contribute. ;-)

Some biographical stuff - my Dad grew up in Arkansas in the '50's and '60's. Prime time for the civil rights movement! My grandparents were very blue-collar, my grandfather a WWII vet and lifelong civil servant, and my grandmother a factory worker until she retired. Before becoming a teacher, my Dad followed in their blue-collar footsteps and was never afraid to get his hands dirty (unlike his good-for-nothing son who blogs). I don't know if it means anything to him, but I'm still proud of his plaques for the years in which he worked at Dow Chemical without missing a day for illness or injury - all while attending college full time!

His political participation actually got started in high school, when one of his teachers ("Mama Mac", or Mrs. McLaren) told her students to get out and get politically active. Remember when we taught civics? So he joined "caravans" and got to work on some campaigns. This led him to involvement with campaigns for David Pryor (Mark Pryor holds his father's old Senate seat today) and Dale Bumpers. He's not proud of his two votes for Nixon, but he promises he's fully reformed. Hey, nobody's perfect! He voted for Winthrop Rockefeller to replace Orval Faubus after the infamous segregationist standoff in Little Rock (worth noting that my Dad has worked for all three Democrats who defeated Faubus in Democratic primaries - Bumpers, Pryor and Bill Clinton).

For a time, he disengaged from politics as many of us occasionally have. He had a young (and eventually ungrateful) son to raise, a wife to happily spend his time with, was finishing college and starting a new career...you know, stuff that commands your attention.

Ronald Reagan changed that. My folks were on to the "morning in America" nonsense from the get-go. Finally fed up, when '92 rolled around, all three of us threw ourselves into the Clinton campaign. We became voter registrars and signed up voters, we phonebanked. After that, he stayed interested but mostly kept his distance until I had "the" talk with my folks: Mom, Dad...have I told you the good news about Howard Dean? He swiftly became a vocal advocate for Dean, progressive issues, an active member of the Party and sought-out campaign volunteer (because his type-A workaholic nature is perfect for what we do!). His integrity and willingness to work tirelessly endeared him to folks at all levels of local politics, both in the Party and at the grassroots level. Those of you who work in netroots know that is a difficult line to cross and come back unscathed.

Anyhoo, to finish off the biographical stuff...after the Dean campaign, after my Dad threw himself into work for local candidates, Patty Murray, John Kerry, etc. (and my Mom flew herself to Florida to work with voters there), he kept up the energy. He became chairman of Democracy for Snohomish County, and this year was elected the Chair of the 44th District Democrats. Two years ago, he entered his first race, as candidate for Position 3 on the Everett city council. Running on a sustainable energy platform against an entrenched old-money incumbent, he couldn't quite get the votes he needed, but he scored a victory by making sustainable energy an issue in not just his campaign but others in the city.

This year, while sustainable energy is still a passion and he intends to fight for sustainable solutions on the council, he's shining the spotlight on a different issue. The new hot item for land developers, always on the lookout for cheap and profitable properties, is manufactured home parks. They swoop in, buy 10 (or 30 or 60) acres for a few hundred thousand, evict all the homeowners, then either sell it for a huge profit or build...whatever will make money. Meanwhile, the former homeowners, already living where they are not by choice but typically because they can afford nowhere else, are left with either no home (but still a mortgage to pay), forced to move their home at a cost which can actually exceed the home's worth, or forced to pay for the owner to bulldoze their home. It isn't just Washington, this is happening all over the country. The law provides owners the opportunity and protection if they decide to sell or redevelop. How many folks who've worked all their lives, paid their taxes, and have sunk what's left of their savings into a manufactured home must be forced to walk away from their home, or worse, have to pay to have their own home bulldozed, then go find someplace to live and keep paying the mortgage on the home that no longer exists?

My Dad describes this as "a cultural imperative that declares profit to be more important than people." This is exactly what we're talking about - a society that values profit over people, wealth over work, that uses people up and throws them away. He wants to start changing this. There are legislative ways to protect tenants and ensure they have a chance to survive. States and counties (New Hampshire and New Jersey are examples) have started passing laws to give tenants the chance to protect their property and helps level the playing field a bit for the little guy.

There are other issues my Dad sees as important, but you've read the important stuff - how he views society, how he views responsibility, the respect he believes we owe those who have worked to build the society we enjoy today. So you see why I'm proud of him, why I'm spending this Saturday doorbelling for him, and why I'm asking for your help. You see, he's got good endorsements from the Sierra Club, Washington Conservation Voters, DFA, and elected officials throughout the county. He's got good name ID. But he's got a primary coming up and after that (if we do our jobs right) a general election against a Republican who's funded by the pharmaceuticals.

So here's the deal: If you can, and you don't live someplace where you can knock on doors for him, we'd love a contribution. My Dad won't take PAC money and believes in listening to your voice, not your wallet, so we ask that you keep your contribution under $100 - 5 bucks, 10 bucks, 50 bucks - whatever you're comfortable with. And if you DO live nearby, stop by this Saturday for the Washington Conservation Voters day of action and knock on some doors with us! WCV has endorsed my Dad and two other great environmentalists, and we're meeting at 10:00am this Saturday, the 28th at Brian Sullivan's campaign HQ - 2110 Hewitt Avenue, Everett. This is politics getting local, getting personal - getting people-powered. Thanks for helping!

Posted by switzerblog on July 27, 2007 at 01:00 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (1)

News Stories: One Stunning, One Stupid

The stunning news:

A career that spanned more than 25 years and brought Stuart Greenberg national renown as a forensic psychologist ended abruptly Wednesday when the Seattle therapist, recently under criminal investigation for voyeurism, committed suicide in a Renton motel.

Investigators have yet to confirm reports that Greenberg, who left two notes, overdosed on pills -- though friends and colleagues believe the true cause was shame.

Indeed, it is a shame, mostly because the man was not yet made to answer for his actions. I take no delight in this news. There is no justification for glee or nonchalance when such a drastic act is taken. I believe that Greenberg, a man who, apparently, abused his power (and enjoyed financial gain) while helping to convict the innocent or aquit the guilty, should have been held accountable. The comments in the P.I. 's Soundoff section suggest the man had more than a few victims.

Now for the stupid, which is brought to us courtesy of religious zealots posing as pharmacists. They have filed a lawsuit against the state for demanding that they do their jobs and dispense medications including Plan B, the emergency contraceptive:

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Seattle, a pharmacy owner and two pharmacists say the rule, which took effect Thursday, violates their civil rights by forcing them into "choosing between their livelihoods and their deeply held religious and moral beliefs."

I have a suggestion for these poseurs: choose your deeply held beliefs and get into another line of work -- the sooner the better. You'll be happier for it and so will Washington's women. And by the way, the civil rights that are being violated are those of your female customers.

The article doesn't mention the names of the plaintiffs but I'd be very surprised if this man isn't the pharmacy owner in question.

Posted by shoephone on July 27, 2007 at 02:07 AM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (3)

July 26, 2007

CrossCut has updated it's navigation

Chuck Taylor announced CrossCut v1.1 tonight:

We've been in business not quite four months, and we've learned a lot in that short time, much of it from your comments and suggestions. The changes you see reflect just some of that. Crosscut will always be a work in progress, and we've already got plans for further refinements. For now we hope you'll find these improvements useful. Please let us know.

We haven't changed a core feature of Crosscut — guiding you to the best journalism and most important news in the "great nearby" of our Northwest, saving you the trouble of having to visit dozens of Web sites. Early each day, I and three other editors scan the region and summarize the news for you. And we post lots of original articles by our own writers and contributors, which appear on the home page under the Crosscurrent heading.

To our pleasant surprise, there are lots more excellent stories out there than we first thought, so much so that Crosscut has come to seem a little crowded and overwhelming to some readers. Let me explain how we now make it easier to navigate.

Quick take, I like it!

Technorati Tags:

Posted by Jeff on July 26, 2007 at 01:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 25, 2007

Judiciary Committee Charges Bolten and Miers with Contempt of Congress

White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers just found out that Democrats, now in the the Congressional majority, have made good on their vow to hold uncooperative White House sycophants accountable for things like lying and obstructing the oversight authority of Congress. Bolten refused to hand over emails central to the investigation over the fired U.S. attorneys and Miers, following Bush's orders, refused to even show up for testimony before Congress after receiving a subpoena two weeks ago. (If she wanted to plead the 5th amendment, she still needed to show up to do so.) Now the House Judicary Committee has charged them with Contempt of Congress, and if the White House still thinks it can scare either the House or Senate committees into submission, they've got another thing coming:

Last week, White House officials vowed that if the full House holds the two officials in contempt, they would block lawmakers' ability to bring the charges before a federal judge by preventing any U.S. attorney from pursuing such a case. The administration cited a 1984 Justice Department legal opinion, never adjudicated in the courts, that said that a federal prosecutor cannot be compelled to override a president's privilege claim.

In the memorandum, Democrats provide the first legal justification for countering the White House's view, saying that the 1984 opinion "does not apply here". For one thing, the Democrats contend, Bush has not  invoked the executive privilege properly because he has not furnished a signed statement or "privilege logs" specifying the documents being withheld. In addition, the memo says, "there is not the slightest indication" the 1984 opinion would apply to a former executive branch official, such as Miers.

There is no doubt that Bush will force this as far as he possibly can but it seems to me his current legal counsel, Fred Fielding, hasn't learned much since his days in the Nixon White House. Perjury and obstruction are huge matters, a lesson that Abu Gonzales is learning since his utterly dishonest performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. As Republican Arlen Specter said at that hearing, perjury before Congress is an "actionable" item -- meaning, indictment and conviction are called for. It's my belief Bush's band of crooks can only lie to Congress just so many times before committee chairs bring out the hook (as Conyers and Sanchez have done today) and until administration officials all start turning on each other, something we've already witnessed between McNulty, Gonzales, Comey and other current and former denizens of the Justice Department.

Not being a lawyer, I can only rely on friends who are lawyers and on the information provided by documents from the Congressional Research Service. As I said in a previous post, having read through those documents, the president's claims of deliberative privilege look very flimsy to me. If he wasn't involved in the deliberations over the firing of the prosecutors, he can't claim the deliberative privilege.

Some bloggers have been wondering why Congress didn't simply charge Bolten and Miers with "inherent contempt" in order to circumvent the need for a court fight with Bush. The CRS explains "inherent contempt":

Under the inherent contempt power, the individual is brought before the House or Senate by the Sergeant-at-Arms, tried at the bar of the body, and can be imprisoned. The purpose of the imprisonment or other sanction may be either punitive or coercive. Thus, the witness can be imprisoned for a specified period of time as punishment, or for an indefinite period (but not, at least in the case of the House, beyond the adjournment of a session of the Congress) until he agrees to comply. The inherent contempt power has been recognized by the Supreme Court as inextricably related to Congress’s constitutionally-based power to investigate.

There is one obvious advantage to this tactic, and that is that administration officials would be held right away, though the case itself would take a fair amount of time. It would also show that Congress is not willing to tolerate anymore legal obfuscations by the administration. Opposition to this administration's corruptions of the Constitution are imperative. The drawback, however, is that officials held in "inherent contempt" could only be held in jail until the current congress adjourns in January 2009. Also, it would give the Republicans and their benefactors in the MSM more fodder for charges that Democrats are relying on spectacle. My emotions tell me they should have charged the two with "inherent contempt". My reason tells me that the route they chose may be the better one after all. Conyers and Sanchez don't make major decisions like this without consulting the 35 lawyers who advise that committee. Since the 1984 law was never resolved in court, well, now may be the time. It's true that Bush has packed the courts with conservative-minded judges, some of whom may be wholly supportive of unitary-executive arguments. But even the SCOTUS has handed the administration some setbacks with regard to the rights of terror suspects. We can't know the outcome until the challenge is put before the courts. Why wait? The judges that Bush appointed will still be around for the next president, the president after that and so on. Either way, both kinds of contempt charges will take time to run their course.

Conyers, who's come under fire recently for saying now is not the time to push for impeachment, may have something else up his sleeve. Smart, successful lawyers lay the groundwork, they don't go off half-cocked like the crime boss lawyers in the White House. If it turns out that Congress and the American people can't rely on the third branch of government to uphold it's duty under the Constitution -- the duty to adjudicate, the duty to exact judgements according to the rule of law, no matter who resides in the White House -- then perhaps Conyers and Sanchez will find that the political remedy afforded by the Constitution is the only remaining option, and must be intitiated, convenient or not. 

Posted by shoephone on July 25, 2007 at 12:26 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (5)

July 22, 2007

The Next American Revolution

At the risk of being melodramatic, it seems to me that this country is in some desperate need of change.  I personally would like that change to be massive, relatively quick and completely non-violent and painless.  I think we are likely to see the outlines of what that change might look like at this year's YearlyKos convention as the participants in the convention engage our Democratic leaders in an extended discussion of what we want this country to look like.

There will be a lot of journalists there and a lot of political folk on blogger turf.  Some of our best national bloggers have been meeting with retired presidential candidates to consider topics of deep interest to the increasingly large number of folks in this country who are paying attention.  They will then ask all the leading Democratic Presidential candidates who will be there some real questions, including questions on 1) what it means that corporations have so much more concentrated power than they did when this country was founded, 2) what kind of government people think we ought to have and 3) how we ought to conduct foreign policy. 

There will also be an "Ask the Leaders" forum with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, and Sen. Charles E. "Chuck" Schumer.  And a panel of our newly elected Democratic Congresscritters.  And a panel of "Upcoming Leaders" - candidates, including Darcy Burner, who didn't quite make it last cycle but are sticking with it and are likely to win in '08.

Ideas for questions have been culled from readers and writers across the blogosphere.  There will also be opportunities for folks from the audience to ask questions - if they're quick enough to get in line at the mikes.  This is radical.  What comes out of this YearlyKos convention may well set the agenda for what we in the blogosphere, in conjunction with our leaders, choose to do in the next few years to change course in this country.   

It is a discussion that will need to continue in the blogs, in the traditional media, in the Democratic district and county and state meetings, at Drinking Liberally, and in the legislative bodies around the country including Congress.  It should be a back and forth between us and our Democratic leaders, culminating in massive change in the laws and the ways those laws are carried out. 

We have done this before.  We can do it again.  In fact it is how our country was founded.

The First American Revolution

There is an amazing book called "The First American Revolution" by Ray Raphael that describes the beginnings of the American Revolution.  Raphael writes about the decade before the Declaration of Independence was written, about the uprising that emerged out of the small towns surrounding Boston, without which our American Revolution might not have occurred in the way it did.  Recognizing that it's hard to take a well-researched book and summarize it into a few paragraphs, let me try anyway.

The New England colonies had come to have a great deal of local, democratic participation in their own governance.  There were elected colonial leaders, usually the more well-to-do, often lawyers.  But there were also vigorous town meetings and nightly talk at public houses. The hand of the British was reasonably light until about 1765 when the British Parliament tried to enact a Stamp Act, a tax on all official documents in the North American colonies.  For the British, it was an attempt to get the colonies to pay for the expenses of the French and Indian War.  For the American colonists, it was an imposition that they would not accept.  It was also the beginning of the rift between the British courts in the colonies and the small farmers in the towns of New England, especially eastern Massachusetts.

Research suggests that the rich were getting richer and the poor were getting poorer as the land became more and more divided between many sons and also less fertile, "worn" they called it.  The imposition of the Stamp Act made it harder for the poorest to protect themselves in court.  The farmers as a whole stood with the poorer of their lot and refused to use the stamps.  The popular response to the Stamp Act changed the political landscape of New England.  The court officials were stuck trying to serve two masters -  the Crown and the people.  The people began to instruct their representatives to the General Court, almost always the same wealthy families that had been elected for generations.  The citizens began to call for sweeping reform.

In 1768, the tone-deaf British Parliament and the Crown added another tax, on goods imported into the colonies, setting off another round of political restiveness and leading to a few new leaders being elected to office in place of the traditional leaders.  In 1772, in an attempt to gain full control of the judiciary the British also decided to pay the salaries of the court officers rather than have them subject to the demands of the people.

In response, a few Boston firebrands, led by Samual Adams, wrote a letter to the selectman of every town and district in Massachusetts, called the "Boston Pamphlet",  listing the many grievances the colonists had against the British.  By early 1773, 119 towns had responded, almost all favorably, many with great passion and articulate support.  The towns across the colony were primed for political upheaval and becoming organized for action.  The Boston Tea Party occurred on Dec. 16, 1773. 

The British responded by closing the port of Boston in May 1774 and then passing an Act of Parliament in June 1774 that effectively deprived the people of Massachusetts any effective voice in their government, contrary to the 1691 Charter that established the colony.  All judges, sheriffs, and other officials of the court would be appointed by the British governor and serve at his pleasure.  The Council, whose members had previously been selected by elected representatives from the towns, would be appointed directly by the Crown, all agenda items at every meeting in every town in Massachusetts were to be approved by the governor, and all jurors were to be appointed by the sheriffs who were appointed by the governor.

Common farmers and artisans saw that their freedom was on the line.  They also saw that the elite Tories who generally supported the British, were their opponents as much as the British were.  Meeting at public houses throughout the colony, the common people talked about what they could do.  They corresponded amongst themselves.  And then they effectively shut down the judiciary and refused to allow officials to do their jobs.  Working democratically amongst themselves and with no violent acts, they "convinced" official after official to quit the court, the Council, the sheriff's office, whatever role they had in maintaining the British rule.

How did they do this?  Well, here's an example.  Thomas Paine (not that Thomas Paine) was one of the local councilors who had not resigned.  On the morning of Aug. 27th, 1774, over two thousand men gathered in Worcester Commons, muskets in hand.  Worcester itself had only 350 adult men at the time; the rest had come from surrounding towns, having been alerted by riders from Worcester.  A very polite but firm group of men were invited into his residence, having convinced Paine they meant him no harm.  They told him he had to resign.  He argued he could do more for him on the inside.  They were adamant and Paine wrote a letter of resignation that included an apology to the people who had elected him.  They then required that he come out into the crowd, with his hat off, and read the letter of resignation to the crowd.  And then again, louder.  Written letters indicate Paine saw the crowd as very well-behaved but very insistent. 

This happened all over the colony of Massachusetts.  It presaged the gathering together of the founding fathers and the Revolutionary War that we think of as the beginning of this country.   It was bloodless and rose up from the common people, neither of which makes for historical amplification. 

And I think it is happening again.  Watch what we do at YearlyKos in less than two weeks!   

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 22, 2007 at 02:08 PM in National and International Politics, Strategery, Taking Action | Permalink | Comments (1)

Meet the College Republicans

A young liberal videographer, Max Blumenthal, infiltrates the College Republicans and gets some great footage of young Republicans talking about why we have to fight this war and why they aren't enlisting.  Bonus footage of Tom DeLay's speech on the linkage between abortions and immigration.  It's a hoot.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 22, 2007 at 07:55 AM in Media, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 21, 2007

Are the City's Bike Plans Contradictory?

Mayor Nickels says he wants to make Seattle into the #1 biking city in the country, a great goal when one considers we already have an avid biking community here (even Will is joining the ranks). With roads constantly being torn up for resurfacing, putting in new cable lines and redefining parking and bus lanes, not to mention the ever-increasing vehicle traffic, bicyclists need new paths of their own. A proposed "road diet" for Stone Way, between N. 34th and N. 40th Streets, bringing that swath of four-lane road down to two lanes and adding a bike path, was expected to serve the cyclists without putting too much strain on drivers. Unfortunately, that dream is no more because the Seattle Dept. of Transportation has nixed the plan and David Hiller, advocacy director of the Cascade Bicycle Club, is none too happy:

Stone Way connects to the Burke-Gilman Trail, and the Fremont Bridge is a major crossing for cyclists. So if the city can capitulate here, projects all over town are vulnerable, Hiller argues.

He admits being surprised the Fremont Chamber had more clout than the 7,400-member cycle club.

Chamber President Marko Tubic — an avid cyclist and former racer — said lower Stone Way remains "a heavy industrial thoroughfare."

One of the main critics of the Stone Way bike path has been Suzie Burke, the "land baroness of Fremont". Burke (whose father was a founder of Fremont, but not related to the Burke in the Burke-Gilman Trail) also fought with biking advocates a few years back over the redesign of the trail where it winds around her properties along the north side of Lake Union.

"I've never been in anything as convoluted as those negotiations," Burke says. "Stupid arguments. 'We have to have a bike path,' they said. Why?! They insisted the bike paths run along the railroad. Why?!"

Eventually, a compromise was reached, running the bike path along the water. But not before Burke was fed up. "You deal with people who don't have a dime on the table and don't have to be reasonable," she says.

That attitude has antagonized a lot of folks in Fremont. Apparently, having "a dime on the table" is the only thing that secures you the right to have a voice in your community -- otherwise, you're scum. As a major landowner, Burke is a formidable presence in the neighborhood and at the Fremont Chamber of Commerce.

I've frequently biked in that area, on and off the B-G Trail, and I have to agree with David Hiller. That 1/2 mile strip of Stone Way would be an obvious, and easy, connector between the trail and the south side of Wallingford. Success or failure is all in the planning and the design. Example: this past year, the city took out a thru-lane at 40th and Stone Way heading south, by creating a right-turn only lane leading to the Aurora Bridge. Since there is no proper signage in the block leading up to it, I, frankly, find that the right-turn lane is confusing because it seems to pop up without warning before you realize you're in it and unable to cross Stone Way. But from the left lane, crossing Stone, you're suddenly onto a four-lane road. If you're a cyclist riding south on Stone at that intersection... yikes, is all I can say.

As a contractor (and driver) who regularly patronizes businesses like Stone Way Hardware (north of 40th), Rodda Paint, Daly's Paint, and Hard Hat Tool & Supply (all south of 40th), I'd probably be expected to agree with Tubic that Stone is a "heavy industrial throughfare", and therefore, should be preserved as is. In reality, though, his argument is a little weak. Yes, there are trucks pulling in and out of those, and other, businesses, but it's nothing like what you see just south of downtown on 1st, 4th and 6th avenues -- that's an area I would advise a biker to avoid at all costs. The article also reports that one of Cascade's engineers says the vehicle traffic on Stone Way would be only mildly affected by a bike path. From my point of view, if drivers would just quit yakking on their cell phones and instead, pay attention to the road and follow the speed limit, there would be many fewer accidents and near-accidents. I can't count how many times I've nearly gotten hit while pulling out of the Rodda parking lot. The other part of the problem, I'm sorry to say, is the street parking that blocks the view of oncoming traffic.

If you think about it, a workable "road diet" wouldn't necessarily have to cut the driving lanes in half because a two-directional bike lane, like the one on the B-G Trail, is only as wide as one car lane. So, why not a three-lane road for motor vehicles and one lane for the bike path? No, I'm not a transportation planner, and I know full well that contractors use both the Fremont Bridge coming north, and Hwy 99 coming south into the area. Deciding which direction of Stone Way should have one lane and which should have two would likely stir up a whole new controversy and take about 17 years to resolve. After all, this is Seattle, where study and process last longer than the lives of most of our pets. I still think it's an idea worth looking into. Bikers already travel that road daily, and the danger of getting hit by a truck or car is much greater without a dedicated bike lane. The reason I'm on the lookout for bikers when I'm behind the wheel is because I'm a biker myself, and I know it's hard enough riding in traffic without having to fend off drivers who behave as if they are purposely trying to mow you down. Most importantly, the far right car lanes on Stone are too narrow to comfortably provide for a vehicle and a bike traveling side-by-side.

On a positive note, the city is finally breaking ground on a new portion of the Burke-Gilman Trail near the end of its proposed line:

Construction will now begin on a one-mile section from Northwest 60th Street near Ray's Boathouse to Golden Gardens Park on the Shilshole Bay that will cost $4.6 million. The project is being funded with city money, the Bridging the Gap property levy approved last year, the parks property levy and some federal money. The city expects to finish construction by the end of this year.

This is great news, and since the road to Shilshole is already one-lane each way past the locks there is no way the bike trail will affect road traffic at all. However, I'm compelled to point out the obvious: there is still no path between 11th NW near Leary Way -- just west of where the trail now ends -- and a mile north at NW 60th where the new portion will begin. The same controversy about industry needs stymied earlier plans for the connecting section, but in my view, that was a clearer case to make. Riding north from the trail end along the docks feels unsafe. It's tough to see vehicles pulling in and out, and there is no way to escape them because they don't have any other options for entry or exit. And I don't want to see a path that does anything to hinder our area's fisherman and boat and dock workers, who already take enough hits and have seen parts of their marina given over to yachts and pleasure boats. A new design currently in the works is slated for unveiling next year. I'm glad the Shilshole portion will be completed soon because it will bring more people out along the water, and the bikers deserve this. But it's a shame the city couldn't come up with the trail extension to connect with it sooner, because this means that we're in the same situation as before, at least for awhile: hopping off the trail at 8th NW, riding side streets through Ballard up to Shilshole.

So... one out of three ain't bad?

Posted by shoephone on July 21, 2007 at 01:10 PM in Environment, Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (3)

July 20, 2007

Pervert Psychologist's License Suspended

From the Times:

Meanwhile, the Psychology Board suspended [Stuart] Greenberg's license, which means he can't practice pending further action by the board.

Greenberg may request a hearing to fight the suspension. If he does, his credentials would remain suspended until the conclusion of that process.

According to the board, Greenberg hid a camera in the bathroom that was used by co-workers and patients at his practice. He "used the hidden camera to record, for his own gratification, images of others using the bathroom," the board's order states.

What a freak. Well, at least now we know where his true expertise lies.

Posted by shoephone on July 20, 2007 at 12:02 AM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 18, 2007

In the Wee Small Hours of the Senate Filibuster

It's about 5 am in Washington D.C. and I've just finished watching two speeches on the Senate floor, by way of C-Span. (The debate will be live-streamed by the channel all morning, and the vote on the Reed-Levin amendment to begin withdrawal in 120 days is slated for 8 am Pacific time. Think Progress is live-blogging the whole thing.)

I watched as two presidential hopefuls spoke their piece, with McCain preceding Clinton. While the senator from Arizona may not be able to resurrect his floundering presidential campaign he tried mightily to resurrect the excuses for continuing the Iraq occupation. He put a new twist on things by wrapping up his speech with, what I can only assume, he considers the golden nugget: that the overarching reason we must stay the course in Iraq is because a withdrawal could mean the end of Israel. Yep. That's it folks. If you believe the senator, that is now the cause celebre of this ghastly war our president started on false pretenses.

McCain gave a geography lesson (with map on easel) and spelled out the dangers for Israel if we leave, namely, that Syria and Iran are spoiling for war with the Jewish state, through its proxy terrorist group, Hezbollah. Now that the newest NIE has named Hezbollah the great threat in the region the ex-POW has glommed onto it like a spider to a fly. I'm not saying there won't be dangers, but heck, when have there ever not been dangers for Israel? I don't mean that to be flip. I'm a staunch supporter of Israel's right to exist, and to exist in safety, security and peace. And obviously, Israel is surrounded on all sides by Arab countries. Neither Syria or Iran have a peaceful, diplomatic relationship with Israel. Egypt and Jordan do. In any case, the unresolved Palestinian issue spills over into both, with Palestinian refugees fleeing to Jordan, and militant groups running guns through tunnels in Egypt. But, let's be clear, there is more at work here with McCain's conclusion than simple geography. His performance struck me as one of blatant fear-mongering, and that tactic has been sorely overused by the Republicans and the Bush administration, to the point where Americans no longer reflexively whip out the proverbial gas masks and duct tape. But what a dark and cynical tactic it is, especially with regard to the emotional subject of Israel's security.

Clinton, by contrast, was a study in practicality, reason, and clarity. Considering my own disappointment in her 2002 vote for the Iraq War resolution and her unwillingness to back away from it, I was a bit surprised to find myself so impressed by her speech. She articulated how Al Qaeda in Iraq is not necessarily the biggest threat to our troops, but its attacks are the most spectacular. Moreover, there is no way to deny that the country has devolved into what she called "a multi-sided, sectarian civil war". Finally, the Iraqi government, whether unwilling or unable, has not met any of the political benchmarks set up for them and here we are -- four and a half years later, no closer to resolution; instead, we are escalating the madness with thousands of more troops. Clinton predicted that September would bring only a mixed and inconclusinve report from General Petraeus and that we must disembark from the uselessness of the military surge. Instead, she said, "What we need is a political surge and a diplomatic surge".

Noting that our standing in the world has suffered so greatly and that the war has left us unable to meet the very real threat that a reconstituted Al Qaeda (replete with global cells) represents to us, Clinton focused on a three-stage plan for Iraq:

1) Bring our troops out

2) Demand that the Iraqi government meet responsibilities, or they lose our $ aid

3) Immediately begin intensive regional and international diplomacy

The senator included the imperative that we must plan the redeployment much better than the way we (Bush) planned the occupation. There was a repeated insistence on the problem of Iranian influence in Iraq, but she tempered the hawkishness she's sometimes known for by emphasizing that Iran's influence is not of a military nature, but a political one. Hmm. Wonder if the Bush administration has figured that out yet.

Clinton did a good job of concluding her speech with the financial burden placed on us all because of the war and occupation, which is costing $10 billion a day, everyday. The center of Bush's economic policy -- tax cuts for the rich -- has made paying for this war even more difficult, not to mention irresponsible.

I'd almost feel sorry for McCain if he could buy a miracle and end up the Republican nominee. If Clinton was top of the ticket for the Dems, she'd make quick work of him in the debates. In 2008, the prospect of reason (Clinton) meeting fantasy (McCain) in a debate format would clearly show which candidate had his eye on the ball. And it wouldn't be a he.

*I'm not endorsing Clinton or anyone else yet. But it's hard not to notice McCain's desperate attempts to rescue a flimsy campaign.

Update:The Senate Republicans just voted to block advancing the amendment, because they refuse to accept anything less than a 60 vote majority on all bills. This is not what the founders intended for governance. The filibuster-proof majority was not meant to be the standard operating procedure for every single piece of Senate legislation. Mitch McConnell is nothing more than an obstructionist, one who would deny the will of the American people. In his remarks just before the vote, he used the same tactics as Bush, conflating the occupation of Iraq with 9-11, the war in Afghanistan and the so-called War on Terror. It says a lot that the Republicans still can't deal honestly with the citizens of this country.

The Dems only garnered 52 votes to advance the amendment. Interestingly, Susan Collins joined with Republicans Snowe, Hagel and Smith in voting for advancement. Not surprisingly, Leiberman voted to block it. When will the Democratic leadership cut him loose from his chairmanship of the Homeland Security committee? Let him go caucus with Republicans. He rarely votes with Democrats anyway.

Posted by shoephone on July 18, 2007 at 03:02 AM in Iraq, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (3)

July 17, 2007

Harry Reid Retunes His Antenna

The next time someone tells you to shut up and let the big boys handle things, point them to Cujo's post, an excellent synopsis on the events of the last few days in the life of Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats. It shows clearly that not sitting down and shutting up, but storming the halls of power with our protests is very much in the interest of the party and more importantly, The People. Reid has located his old boxing gloves and suited up. He's forcing the Republicans to either show-and-tell on their filibuster threats or act like adults and quit obstructing The People's business. Cujo gives major credit to Mimikatz, as do I. He also quotes from John Nichols' piece in the Nation:

Harry Reid is finally coming to the realization reached months ago by the American people: That Democrats in Congress have been played for suckers by the Bush White House and its Republican allies on Capitol Hill.

The Senate majority leader's recognition of the realities of Washington in the Bush era -- as evidenced by his decision Monday to set up a scenario that could clarify the role played by Republican senators in maintaining the president's exceptionally unpopular approach to the Iraq War -- holds out the prospect that the politics of the debate over ending the occupation could change radically in the weeks to come.

Cujo makes clear that, as this is only Reid's first step in using the powers of the majority, we cannot let up just yet. The Senate Democrats are sick and tired of Republicans jamming up the works of government, to be sure, but the clamoring from the rest of us had a whole lot to do with this change in strategy.

It's difficult to see sometimes, but words have meaning. Our words, together with those of other party activists, made this happen. Actions also have meaning and our politicians sometimes respond to them. Without them, I suspect this this would have been just another day when the Republicans were allowed to obstruct a bill without even having to work hard [...]

I concur, wholeheartedly. It's time to make Republicans show their true colors for all to see -- as they consistently vote against the troops they so dishonestly claim to support, as they vote for ever more carnage in Iraq, and as they act to prop up an authoritarian dictator like Bush, whose approval ratings are still lingering between toilet and sewer. So, the filibuster battle is a great place to start.

Get a seat. Round One begins.

Posted by shoephone on July 17, 2007 at 09:21 AM in National and International Politics, Strategery, Taking Action | Permalink | Comments (5)

July 15, 2007

Sunday in the Church of Wes

Wes Montgomery died 39 years ago today. If you think you haven't heard his guitar playing, it's only because you don't realize that he has influenced every guitarist who came after him, jazzers and rockers alike. Wes was, without exaggeration, the master of his craft. He learned to play at 18, and after a few short years of gigs with his brothers, Buddy and Monk, he was "discovered" by alto great Cannonball Adderly and the rest, as they say, is history. His 1960 album The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery was the album I listened to endlessly as a music student, and it was those tunes that I practiced on my guitar, again and again and again. My friend Chris and I would stay up until all hours comping for each other while we traded solos over West Coast Blues. One might say we were obsessed, but Wes will do that to you. (Chris was the better player -- he had Wes' amazing 10-chorus solo down pat, and could then create one of his own that was almost as spectacular. I, on the other hand, usually ended up crying in the sink at 4 am, convinced I was just another musical fraud.) He later recorded a second version of Four on Six that is just as fantastic as the first one.

Wes' style was completely original. His solos were perfectly constructed stories, journeys that began with single note lines careening into dizzying octave runs, and finally landing in a sea of full-on chordal melody that left his listeners and musical peers marveling. Wes' music was about joy, and on one of the following videos you will easily see that expressed on his face as he played. He didn't use a pick but played every note and chord with his famous thumb, and was so dedicated to the music, and to executing those wonderful octaves, that he actually played through migraines -- not surprising when you consider that he was a perfectionist who usually felt that he missed on his solos. It was often remarked that he played like a horn player because he never played stock guitar "licks". The man who had seven children and worked a day job in a foundry to support his family until he finally made it big in 1965, will be remembered as one of the two greatest of his generation. The other, of course, was saxophone genius John Coltrane, who died one year before Wes. Trane's Giant Steps is the rollicking, hard bop standard to which all jazz players must eventually pay homage. Wes revered him so much he made the saxman's tune Impressions the mainstay of his live shows (this performance is of Wes with Wyn Kelly's Trio, in Brussels 1965). Their influence really can't be measured because it's a gift that keeps on giving.

Author Ashley Kahn did a piece for NPR a couple of years ago that explores why Wes' version of Impressions (and his playing in general) was so phenomenal. But if you really want to get a handle on the meaning of both Wes and Trane, you've got to check out the men who took their playing a step further, and thereby, became the most influential guitarist and saxophonist of the current generation. Pat Metheny and Mike Brecker were great friends and collaborators. Their live rendition of Pat's What Do You Want is like a tribute to their musical mentors. It's also a really fun, high energy, hard swinging performance that makes the loss of Mike Brecker, earlier this year, a bittersweet, nostalgic trip.

I feel honored to have been able to see both Pat and Mike play on so many occasions (separately and together). I think what they took from Wes and Trane, and later expanded on, is the ability to play shapes rather than scales, to play ideas rather than "licks". Thankfully, Pat is still very much with us, proving that, while he can venture into practically any musical style, he can play straight ahead jazz as well (or better) than any living guitarist. As for the other three gentle giants, who really were known for their humility as much as for their skill, they may be gone -- but their music lives on.

Happy Sunday to the memory of Wes. In classic style, he'd probably wonder what all the fuss is about.

Posted by shoephone on July 15, 2007 at 04:29 PM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (13)

July 14, 2007

Update on the Pervert Psychologist

The authorities are now weighing in:

A noted psychologist, now under investigation for voyeurism, had such a successful practice evaluating both sexual abuse victims and priests accused of molestation that several lawyers said the allegations against him might call into question numerous cases settled on the basis of his expert opinion.

"This guy had his finger on every single Catholic church perp in the state -- if not the region," said John Manly, an attorney who has sued the Jesuit Order for ignoring deviant priests and took testimony from the therapist.

At least once, Manly said, the psychologist evaluated a priest who had sexually abused dozens of women and girls, but apparently missed the signs.

I'm willing to bet the sexual abuse victims who trusted this guy and relied on his so-called expertise to jail their perpetrators aren't going to be very forgiving. Look for lawsuits in the near future.

The pervert claims he never videotaped clients (uh huh, sure), only fellow pychologists using the restroom in his office building. Well, gee. That makes us all feel better. Meanwhile, a former client of his commented in the Soundoff section and her memories about first (and lasting) impressions lend real gravity to the "creep" factor. Also, she names him.

Posted by shoephone on July 14, 2007 at 12:33 AM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 13, 2007

Disgusted With Democrats? Join the Club

As usual, the inimitable Dibgy nails the damn thing on its head. Her latest piece excoriates Democrats -- and rightly so -- for being the spineless, clueless Melvins they are in the midst of a Republican minority actually operating like a majority and therefore, still running the country. It won't make you feel any better about Dems fulfilling tiresome, empty promises to "take our country back blah blah blah..." but sometimes you've got to heed the message and not kill the messenger.

Right now, for example, we have the Republicans filibustering everything in sight and calling the Democrats a do-nothing congress. We have the president spending twelve billion dollars a month on a war the country hates and saying the Democrats are overspending. And oversight is being met with incoherence that better resembles a three stooges routine than cooperation. They are not behaving as normal politicians behave, they are behaving like reckless, emotionally deranged teen-agers daring someone to stop them. And like the nice, nurturing parents they are, the Democrats try to be reasonable and "talk" while the miscreant kids steal the money out of their wallet and take the family car --- screaming "suckers" as they peel out of the driveway.


I know that many of you feel that impeachment is the only answer and I'm not going to say you're wrong. What else can you do with an administration that is totally unresponsive to public opinion and the congress? They are not leaving the Dems much choice -- indeed, I almost think they pray for it, as a means to get their base enthused and test their Three Stooges theory of extreme politics on impeachment.

But, short of that, there are some other things that should be done immediately. First of all, Harry Reid has to make these filibustering jerks do a real damned filibuster or STFU. As Mimikatz at The Next Hurrah writes here, there is no requirement that the Democrats observe this polite procedural nicety of calling for cloture and then pretending that the filibuster happened. If the Republicans want to filibuster everything that comes through this senate they need to put up. Hell, Pete Domenici is already wearing his pajamas, all they need to do is roll in some cots and have a slumber party.

If only someone in the Democratic party was listening. I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by shoephone on July 13, 2007 at 08:36 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (16)

July 12, 2007

McCain Tottering; Guiliani Next?

This is getting fun to watch.  It's only a matter of days before McCain quits.  He has only $2 million cash on hand and a debt of $1.5 million.  In addition, he may be charged with breaking Senate ethics rules by using the Republican cloakroom in the Senate to try to raise campaign funds in a desperate attempt to raise more money from his remaining donors.  (And, as Adam B asks over at DailyKos, don't you want to know which Republican turned him in?) Charlie Cook says he's done.

Meanwhile the International Association of Fire Fighters has had it with Rudy running on his "leadership" on 9/11.  They have a powerful video-clip up on YouTube laying out the truth about Guiiani's leadership while mayor.  It's so Republican.  His administration did not follow the rules - or common sense - about acquiring needed new radios for the city fire fighters.  They did a sole bid and no testing.  The first time the new equipment was used in 2000, it failed and was taken out of use.  Firefighters went back to the old equipment that didn't work either. 

On 9/11, fire fighters were ordered out of the Twin Towers in plenty of time to make it out.  Not a one came out.  In contrast every single police officer made it out; their equipment worked. 

This video-clip went up less than 2 days ago and has already had over 40,000 hits.  Guiliani was already having difficulty walking the line on abortion and gay rights - not to mention that amazing set of photos of him cross-dressing.  His poll numbers have been dropping.  I'd guess he has about two months left before he's in nearly as bad shape as McCain.

So then we bring up the B team - in this case, probably Fred Thompson and Sam Brownback - to join Mitt Romney in the top tier.  Whew!  It'll be as interesting to watch the public turn away from them as it has the earlier crew.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 12, 2007 at 07:33 AM in Candidate Races, Media, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 11, 2007

Perverted Is As Perverted Does

Abuse of power takes many forms. So does perversion. When both involve a tacit abuse of trust, the results can reverberate widely.

A prominent Seattle psychologist, frequently used as an expert to evaluate child sex abuse cases, has been accused of installing a video camera in the bathroom at his office and secretly recording women using the facilities.

The 59-year-old man, a clinical affiliate professor at the University of Washington who also worked for a decade with the Seattle Archdiocese on abuse cases involving priests, was arrested July 3 for investigation of voyeurism and booked into the King County Jail. He was released two days later. No charges have been filed.

I can't think of a worse breach of trust in the professional realm than that of the therapist-client relationship. The entire relationship is based on the assumption of trust. And I wish I could say I'm surprised at this news but I'm not. Earlier this week I was talking with two other women at lunch about the losses of privacy we now have to suffer at the hands of government -- national, state and local. With more cities putting street cameras everywhere, with internet companies allowing -- even advocating -- for all kinds of personal, private information to be passed through the toobz (even when it could compromise the safety of domestic abuse and stalking victims) it's just becoming one long Orwellian f***ing nightmare. But then the conversation turned to the voyeurs and perverts all around us. Strange coincidence in light of today's news perhaps, but the fact is, it's not an uncommon topic of conversation among women.

Here's the really disgusting part of the story that will seem all too familiar:

Nationally recognized as an expert in pediatric psychology, the therapist has long been known to regulators at the health department for a series of eight complaints reaching back to the early 1990's.

Though none has resulted in any disciplinary action, three of the allegations were resolved through a 1995 court proceeding in Thurston County, which has been sealed.

Isn't that comforting? This is what abuse of power is really about. It's a complicitous relationship between the offender and the oversight authorities, where professional embarassment is actually deemed a worse insult than the one inflicted on the victims.

If I had a nickel for every creep in a position of power who has sexually harassed me I'd be a very wealthy woman indeed. My arranging teacher at a very famous music school on the east coast was one of the worst, but not the worst by a longshot. It's just that he had my academic future at his caprice. And just like the psychologist in the P.I. article, this particular creep was protected by those who were supposed to be protecting the vulnerable. In fact, complaints about him were so well known to the administrative faculty that the dean of women's studies held a special meeting about sexual harassment just so that all the women students (all 10% of us) knew to come to him immediately if the jackal in question tried it one more time. But, although the harasser was known to some of the older students, the dean warned them against mentioning his name in the meeting. Well, that's a policy made-to-order for the abuser. Later, as we walked out, I asked a fourth-year trumpet student "If this teacher has already been reported so many times, why are they giving him even one more chance? Why hasn't he been booted out of here already?" Her response was, "Considering this school's big name and all the money it generates, the wimps who run the place don't want the bad publicity, women be damned." 

That meeting and conversation took place before the teacher in question made me his next target, and believe me, he was so practiced at it that it was almost a month before I realized what was really happening. Because those in the know had been admonished against mentioning his name during the meeting, I had surmised they were talking about a different arranging teacher. In the end, I didn't report the harasser because I knew that, despite the lip service from the dean, nothing would happen to him. Not a damned thing. So instead, I threw it in Mr. Harasser's face that I was dating his favorite fourth-year male student, worked my butt off to write a perfect final arrangement that he couldn't not give me an A for, and left after that semester ended, for reasons having nothing to do with him. But I still had the A in my pocket, which was all I ever wanted. Nearly twenty years later, he's probably still looking for a date.

The creepy psychologist who was arrested wasn't named by the P.I. but he was named on the KOMO News website. Since I detest anything KOMO, I'm not linking to it. You can find it easily enough.

Posted by shoephone on July 11, 2007 at 11:59 PM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 10, 2007

"President Bush" Welcomes a New Lefty Blog

Matt Stoller and Chris Bowers are back.  The two former MyDD regulars are two of the best national bloggers on the scene.  For the last few weeks they've been preparing to start up their new blog, called Open Left

Today, they started up with a great comedic video-clip: a familiar fake Bush commenting on their reappearance on the scene.

I think it gives us a picture of the innovative slant they will be taking.

Thanks for being here, guys.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 10, 2007 at 07:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Jazz in Literature -- Thriving on a Riff

Sunday's New York Times had an essay, a sort of memoir, by novelist Haruki Murakami, in which he describes his early obsession with jazz and how it later shaped his writing. Murakami opened a jazz club in Tokyo in the 1970's, before he became a novelist at age 29.

One of my all-time favorite jazz pianists is Thelonious Monk. Once, when someone asked him how he managed to get a certain special sound out of the piano, Monk pointed to the keyboard and said: “It can’t be any new note. When you look at the keyboard, all the notes are there already. But if you mean a note enough, it will sound different. You got to pick the notes you really mean!”

I often recall these words when I am writing, and I think to myself, “It’s true. There aren’t any new words. Our job is to give new meanings and special overtones to absolutely ordinary words.” I find the thought reassuring. It means that vast, unknown stretches still lie before us, fertile territories just waiting for us to cultivate them.

These words resonated with me, not so much because I write, but because there are obvious similarities in the way all artists approach their crafts. I am first and foremost a musician, though I don't gig anymore. (That's out of necessity -- jazz doesn't pay the bills.) One of my old teachers used to talk to me about the Zen approach to playing, about playing "the space between the notes" (breathing). Like Monk, he spoke about the importance of playing with conviction. In other words, even if you hit the wrong note (and don't believe the b.s. that "there are no wrong notes in jazz" because there definitely are) but you play it with full conviction, hardly anyone will notice that it was a wrong note. And he talked about how there are only a finite number of notes (12, in Western music) and we have to open up and listen in order to play the notes that are meant to be played in that moment, without forcing it. All these things reminded me of Monk's words.

Murakami's piece got me thinking about something else: the confluence of different arts, and where one may reference the other. Dance and music can rarely do without one another. Painters often depict music and musicians in their works. But it's rare anymore to find authors who actually weave the music of jazz into their narratives. Fitzgerald's early short fiction, Tales of the Jazz Age, is not a collection of stories about jazz. Instead, it encapsulates a period in time (the Twenties) where he uses the music as the backdrop for a series of tales about the amoral, selfish and self-absorbed young rich. It's a subject he mastered in The Great Gatsby.

So, where is the jazz in literature? Two books I read in college fit the bill. Although Jack Kerouac wrote a novel called The Subterraneans, where jazz is practically the main character, it's not that great a book. On the Road, written a year before, was not only the first book where he makes jazz part of the story, it became the "novel of the beat generation". Truman Capote, asked for his opinion of On the Road, bitingly said, "That's not writing, it's typing." He was sort of right. It turns out that although Kerouac had written the book over a period of seven years that he'd spent... on the road... he later typed it up on a long scroll 100 feet long in just three weeks time, and when interviewed, would stick to the more dramatic telling that he "wrote" the whole thing in three weeks. The novel winds through four different road trips with characters closely based on his writer pals of the day, including poets Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady and Gregory Corso. Because Kerouac wrote in an almost frantic (100 words per minute) freedom-of-consciousness style, where he never reworked the chapters (until an editor later got to it), but just kept moving forward, it earned him renown as an improvisational writer.

Something would come of it yet. There's always more, a little further -- it never ends. They sought to find new phrases after Shearing's explorations; they tried hard. They writhed and twisted and blew. Every now and then a clear harmonic cry gave new suggestions of a tune that would someday be the only tune in the world and would raise men's souls to joy. They found it, they lost, they wrestled for it, they found it again, they laughed, they moaned -- and Dean sweated at the table and told them to go, go, go. At nine o'clock in the morning everybody -- musicians, girls in slacks, bartenders and the one little skinny, unhappy trombonist -- staggered out of the club into the great roar of Chicago day to sleep until the wild bop night again.

Those lines sound awfully cliche to me now, but since he wrote about going to jazz clubs, listening to Dexter Gordon and George Shearing, and the beauty of the music itself, that earned him extra cred with musicians. The book ends on a sad, lonely note, not unlike the mythology -- and caricature -- of jazz life at that time in America. One of the more interesting interviews Kerouac gave was on The Steve Allen Show in 1959, the year after On the Road was published. He reads an excerpt from the book while Allen accompanies him on piano. Watch the YouTube. It's great!

The other book is Ralph Ellison's masterwork, The Invisible Man. Ellison, a trained musician (on trumpet and piano), evocatively shapes a story about racism and alienation from a world that doesn't "see" its protagonist. The narrator searches for his identity, and, to an extent, liberates himself with his repeated listenings of Louis Armstrong's rendition of "What Did I Do to Be So Black and Blue?" It's not only that Ellison writes about jazz, it's also his style of crafting the narrative that's prompted a number of people, including a Christian minister who used to blog as The Jazz Theologian, to conclude that The Invisible Man is actually a jazz text. The Jazz Theologian sees the narrative in strictly musical terms -- from the prologue, which he imagines as the bass notes and arpeggios (the separate notes that make up a chord), to the body of the story itself, where Ellison returns to the arpeggios, mixing up the notes to expand on recurring motifs.

For a somewhat differerent take, this is from a review of Eric Sundquist's book, Cultural Contexts for Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man :

Sundquist makes the point by using a version of the durable comparison between the novel Invisible Man and jazz composition to declare that "Ellison's sense of history as a form of subjective temporality -- a constructed story, not a set of objective facts -- is perhaps the most profound" way in which the novel compares to jazz. In another place, commenting on the aural poetry of the novel, Sundquist quotes Ellison's own words about the technique of Romare Bearden to comment on the feel of fact. Bearden's juxtapositions on canvas, wrote Ellison, are "eloquent of the sharp breaks, leaps in consciousness, distortions, paradoxes, reversals, telescoping of time, and surreal blending of styles, values, hopes and dreams which characterize much of Negro American history."

Jazz isn't about facts. But it is about truth. It's also at least 50% about listening, and whether listening to the space between the notes or the notes themselves, the truth has to come through. The Fats Waller and Andy Razaf song "What Did I Do to Be So Black and Blue?" was originally written for a stage musical. It's the lament of a black woman who loses her man, because he's lighter skinned than she is, and can pass closer into the white world. It's both about her loss of love and the realization that because of her too-dark skin she can never move beyond her world, in which case, she and her man can never be together. The way Armstrong sang it, and the way Ellison's Invisible Man heard it, the song is purely the cry of a black man who feels the sting of racism in America. Same song, slightly different meaning. Is Armstrong's version not factual? That's irrelevant. It's his truth, therefore it is the truth in that moment.

Posted by shoephone on July 10, 2007 at 01:50 AM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (5)

July 09, 2007

The Bird Flu Pandemic is Still a Grave Possibility

My sister and brother-in-law looked at me skeptically when they were moving last week and had to deal with the water and stored food I'd strongly suggested they stockpile a couple winters ago. 

No, the bird flu has not yet arrived and I am completely grateful.  However, that doesn't mean it won't. 

Erica Barnett at the Stranger has a great article on why we should not forget there is still a strong possibility, she says certainty, that we will get hit on this planet with a pandemic the likes of the 1918 bird flu pandemic that killed between 40 and 50 million people around the globe. 

She focuses on taking care that we have a six week supply of food, water, medical supplies and toilet paper.  But in the process of trying to catch our attention on why we need to do this, she provides just the right amount of information from local and national specialists.   

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 9, 2007 at 08:59 AM in National and International Politics, Taking Action | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 04, 2007

Darcy Links 4th of July to Scooter's Commutation

Darcy Burner released this statement yesterday about the confluence of Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby on his obstruction of justice charge with what the 4th of July represents to this country:

Tomorrow we celebrate the ratification of the Declaration of Independence, adopted on this day July 4, 1776.

Yesterday afternoon, President Bush commuted the sentence of Vice President Cheney's former Chief of Staff and good friend, Scooter Libby.

Libby has been tried and convicted of the crimes of perjury and obstruction of justice. He had been the firewall that prevented Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald from learning whether or not the crime of leaking a covert agent's identity for political purposes went as high as the Vice President or even the President.

So, are all men created equal or not? Or are President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and their friends and protectors above the law? President Bush seems to think so. This commutation of Libby's sentence, this get-out-of-jail-free card, undermines the rule of law, the foundation upon which this country was created.

And is our 8th District Congressman, Dave Reichert, going to stand up for justice? Or does he think it's just fine that President Bush subverted the rule of law when he commuted Scooter Libby's sentence yesterday?

When Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence it included a litany of grievances against King George, most related to refusing to abide by the rule of law.

When the President of the United States subverts the laws of this country and the results of our court system, he skates dangerously close to the behavior that caused our founding fathers to rebel against the King George of their time. As the Declaration of Independence says, "A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people."

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 4, 2007 at 09:14 AM in Candidate Races, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Live Earth Gatherings on Saturday

This weekend is the time of Al Gore's Live Earth events.  Howie has the details

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 4, 2007 at 08:53 AM in Environment, National and International Politics, Taking Action | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 03, 2007

Bush and Cheney are a "Stain on the Presidency"

Keith Olbermann stands up for the Constitution. His special comment earlier tonight was, in a word, brilliant. There is nothing more I can add. Watch it. Then call your representatives and tell them to get their butts in gear, because we will not tolerate one more day of the criminality seeping out from under the Oval Office door and poisoning our nation.

Bush and Cheney are a "stain on the presidency". It is time to wipe out that stain. The survival of our American democracy depends on it.

Posted by shoephone on July 3, 2007 at 10:37 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

"Unimpeachably Impeachable"

That's the title of Ray McGovern's post on No Quarter. His strategy for making the case is straightforward:

There is a blizzard of possible charges warranting impeachment, and that is part of the problem. It’s not only outrage fatigue, it is knowing how to sort through what Thomas Jefferson called “a long train of abuses and usurpations” to select the most heinous, when it is difficult to discern which of them most offends our Constitution and the rule of law.

Suggestion: From the most heinous, select just one for which there is ready proof—one not susceptible of the kind of diddling that has been so prevalent in Washington these past several years.

Why not focus on a high crime that the Bush administration has already admitted to, with claims it is above the law and the Constitution: electronic eavesdropping on Americans without the required court warrant.

This is the same point that law professor Jonathan Turley was making on the talk shows last week. The president, daring us to challenge him, admitted he broke the FISA law and it is now time for Congress to investigate this criminal, unconstitutional action. We already know that Bush and Cheney are dangerously confused about their roles in government. Cheney thinks he runs the legislative branch while Bush hallucinates that he runs the judicial branch. It is well past time for tutorials. "Negotiation" is a non-starter. It is time for real accountabiltity. It is time for our congressional representatives to show their true colors:

Do they support the Constitution? Or do they support the criminal presidency? They cannot have it both ways.

Impeachment begins in the House, but the Senate has its lawful role to play, should articles of impeachment be moved forward. Congressman McDermott has taken a stand against the shadow government being run by Dick Cheney and joined Kucinich's effort to hold the Vice President accountable. Where do Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray stand? With the Constitution? Or with the criminals in the White House? They cannot have it both ways.

Marcy Wheeler (empytwheel) has begun to document even more evidence of high crimes with respect to spying on American citizens. She lays out the chronology of events surrounding the Duke Cunningham prosecution and the Department of Defense's spying program called TALON. As a refresher, the TALON program made it posssible for you and I to be surveilled by our government each and every time we met in small discussion groups or took to the streets to invoke our constitutional right to protest the illegal, immoral occupation of Iraq. It's the program that snared those most dangerous of American citizens, the Quakers. Whew. God only knows what peaceful efforts those Quakers could have gotten up to had the government not found their hideouts in time. Actual dialogues regarding the Bush mob's justification for a war we now know was built on lies may have been in the offing. And who knows where that could have led?

Here's the crux of it: just when Duke Cunningham's bribers -- defense contractors involved with and making money off the TALON program -- were identified by Carol Lam, the U.S. attorney prosecuting the case, and the fix was clearly in for them and the Dukester, all the records of the TALON program mysteriously and conveniently disappeared from DOD files.

Accountable much? Not with this crowd. The rotting fish of the Bush/Cheney presidency is not only stinking from the head down, the stench is wafting in all directions. The moorings of our democratic system are so loose they are about to float away and sink. It is up to the Congress to set this aright. So, where do you stand, representatives? Senators??? With the Constitution? Or with the criminal presidency? You cannot have it both ways.

Posted by shoephone on July 3, 2007 at 11:14 AM in National and International Politics, Strategery, Taking Action | Permalink | Comments (5)