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August 30, 2008

Sarah Palin - 24 Hours After McCain Rolled that Dice

I'm not sure that Sarah Palin will even be nominated next week at the Republican convention.  The hits on her are coming quick and fast.  If she's not thrown overboard, she seems to have the capacity to rally McCain's base in a manner that might prove threatening to Democratic hopes for the fall.  Both Geov Parrish and David Sirota caution us about dismissing Palin's positive impact on McCain's campaign.  And, if you don't listen to her or analyze what she is saying, she is an attractive addition for the low-information voters. 

But, first she has to get formally nominated and, I'm guessing, in the midst of McCain's passion for a short-term winning choice as VP and his passion for keeping his choice secret, she wasn't vetted properly

Steve Benen at Washington Monthly has been on the Palin case, along with both the Washington Post and the LA Times.  Benen has a compilation of quotes from Alaskan politicians and news folks dissing the idea of Palin as VP. 

Here's an example from State Senate President Lyda Green, a Republican from Wasilla, the town of 6500 where Palin was mayor prior to winning her election as Governor:

She's not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president?

The Washington Post has already written about an investigation into the July firing of Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan.  Turns out both she and her over-involved husband, Todd, put a little bit too much pressure on Monegan to fire her ex-brother-in-law and there is a investigation into the manner in which that was done that will cause her to be deposed sometime in the run-up to the election and may make a significant dint in her "reformer" image.

Apparently the citizens of Alaska don't believe her when she says that she did not exert undue pressure in the firing of well-respected Monegan.  However, there's an interesting video clip from the CBS TV Affiliate in Anchorage, KTVA, that steps through the details of the case from various sides and then asks the viewers to call in and vote on whether or not they believe the governor.  More than 87% said "No." 

If McCain is forced to withdraw Palin's name before she is even nominated, it's going to be quite a circus.  That's likely to really piss off the already pissed off earlier contenders for the Republican VP slot.  It's going to be quite a show.

Bring out the popcorn. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on August 30, 2008 at 10:35 AM in Candidate Races, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (4)

August 16, 2008

Elizabeth Gregory Home Survives

This is fantastic -- and unexpected -- news.

The call that went out last week to stave off closure of the Elizabeth Gregory Home, a women's transitional shelter and drop-in center, was answered by people with pockets big and small.

The Bainbridge Island woman, who asked to remain anonymous, remembered the years she spent struggling to make ends meet when she was a single mother with two children.

A story in last Friday's Seattle Times about the Elizabeth Gregory Home's dire financial situation resonated with her because of her own experience.

"There were some pretty tight times," she said. "I can understand how some people can live just one paycheck from disaster. It really struck a chord with me."

She wrote a check for $30,000 and mailed it to the Elizabeth Gregory Home.

She wasn't the only one.

Another anonymous donor sent a $30,000 cashier's check in an envelope without a return address. A woman walked into the drop-in center with a $10,000 check. People sent $25, $500, $1,000.

One week and $130,000 later, the women can stay. They got the news Tuesday.

"Some of them cried a little bit, just big smiles all over the room," said Ed Cozart, program director. "They finally got a good night's sleep."

I am actually stunned that so many stepped forward to save this shelter just four days before it seemed destined for the chopping block. The article had appeared on a Friday, at the beginning of a hot August weekend when many people are focused on their vacation, their planned hiking trip, their tee time the next morning, their family outing to the beach, etc. etc. etc. That so many answered this desperate call speaks volumes about how interested the citizens of this community really are when it comes to community matters. That's something for the local media honchos to get through their heads.

Congratulations to the women who need and use the Elizabeth Gregory Home and to the staff members who serve those needs.

And kudos to Noelene Clark, the reporter on the Times story. If it wasn't for that one ultra-timely article things might have panned out very differently.

Posted by shoephone on August 16, 2008 at 12:22 PM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (1)

August 14, 2008

The Olympics Can't be Good for McCain

Does the Olympics being on TV every presidential election year favor younger candidates?  I've never heard anyone comment on this but as I watch the coverage of the Olympics, with the focus on the strength and perseverance and gorgeous bodies, I have to wonder if it impacts how people look at the two candidates on a sub-conscious level. 

McCain just looks old in comparison to both these young people and to Obama.  And, since he has almost no gravitas, there is little to balance off the image of a guy who alternates between clowning around and grumping around. 

When I look back at the footage of Bush senior when he was running against the youthful Bill Clinton in 1992, I think the physical differences clearly favored Clinton.  Bush just looked so much older.  We all think that Kennedy's youthful good looks helped him against Nixon in 1960.  Were the pictures of the 1960 Olympics a part of that?  Reagan was a different animal.  Despite his age, he carried that Olympics sunniness and by 1980, Carter looked worn down. 

Add to that, Barack's ads are so in tune with the general tone of other Olympics ads - hopeful, focused on a graceful vision of the future - while McCain's first ad was glaringly off-putting.  Obama's latest Olympics ad is especially effective that way.

Gallup's daily poll would tend to lend credence to my theory.  Obama has done better against McCain every day since the Olympics started a week ago. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on August 14, 2008 at 12:11 PM in Candidate Races, Media | Permalink | Comments (2)

August 08, 2008

Transitional Shelter on the Precipice

A few weeks ago I wrote about Ernestine Anderson's need to make a huge payment to her lender or suffer foreclosure on her family home. I have no idea if anyone reading this blog helped out. I only know that I marched down to Bank of America and wrote a check for $100. Apparently, a whole lot of other folks throughout Seattle did the same thing because more than the required amount was raised in a few short days. Ernestine was able to keep her home, for now. A restructuring of the loan is in the works.

But Ernestine Anderson, as private as she is, remains one of the premier jazz and blues singers in the world. The women who count on services at the Elizabeth Gregory Home in the University District don't have that kind of fame going for them. But their need is very great. This article in today's Seattle Times details the situation facing the home's residents and others who "drop-in" to utilize its services that include food, shelter, case management, laundry, computer and email access and most of all, simply having a safe haven.

Homelessness isn't a sexy issue. Neither is poverty or lack of job skills. And most people plug their ears when the subject turns to domestic violence, which is so pervasive in our culture that 1 in 4 American women, rich or poor, will be abused in their lifetimes. And that's just the number that report it.

The Elizabeth Gregory Home's need to raise $30,000 in the next few days is absolutely critical. Without those funds, the home will close and all the women who benefit from it will be back on the street, without access and without services that would otherwise help them to re-enter the work force and rent apartments of their own.

We've got the Ten-Year Plan, we've got Real Change, we've got the Eastside Domestic Violence Program and we've got incredible advocates for social and economic justice in our upper left corner of the world. But the women of the Elizabeth Gregory Home aren't on everyone's radar, even among those who actively participate in community issues. You can do something that matters right now, today and next week. It's time for so-called "progressives" to put their money where their mouths are. Literally. As I did for Ernestine Anderson a few weeks ago, I will do for the women of the Elizabeth Gregory Home. I sincerely hope that you will join me in taking immediate action on something that is purely a community issue. Something that, ultimately, affects us all.

Tip O'Neill: All Politics is Local.

Ghandi: Be the Change You Seek.

Ram Dass: How Can I Help?

Posted by shoephone on August 8, 2008 at 12:42 PM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 07, 2008

There's Something About George

George Fearing is a very interesting candidate  who is running for Congress against Doc Hastings in WA-04.  He has several new video and radio clips available on his website and they are some of the most interesting campaign ads I've ever seen. 

My favorite video is called "A Day on the Campaign".   It's an oddly intimate picture of what he does every day to introduce himself to voters and potential donors.  There are several other video-clips; if you watch a couple you begin to see a man who is a little dorky (sorry George) but earnest and competent and almost courtly, in that old-fashioned Southern manner.  He just exudes respect for everyone he deals with.

I have met and talked with George several times and written about him before.  I did an in-depth interview with him last November as his campaign was just getting started.  He is a very straight-forward and open person who seems to be exactly as he presents to the public. 

I've watched as his campaign has grown and he's brought in a few professionals.  It looks from the outside to be run very well.  Every video-clip, every audio-clip is interesting.  He visits every part of a very huge district.  He has the support of Tomas Villanueva, who founded the United Farm Workers of Washington State.  There has been a significant voter registration project in the very large Latino community in Yakima and the Tri-Cities. 

George is very serious about exposing Doc Hastings and what he has done to our democracy.  He has written a series of essays, which were posted at DailyKos and also are collected on his websiteDengre, a regular poster at DailyKos, who has researched the various aspects of the Jack Abramoff scandals extensively, writes about Hastings, Fearing and this race:

In the circles of Hell reserved for politicians there is a special place for those pols who were specifically charged with fighting corruption and chose instead, to enable it.

John McCain is one of those politicians and so is Doc Hastings.

The ethically challenged Doc Hastings has been in Congress since 1994 and his career is highlighted by his extreme dedication to Tom DeLay and the Leaders of his Party. As for the people of his District, they are just the chumps who keep sending him back to Washington no matter how little he does for them. This year, his luck may be about to run out.

This year George Fearing may just send be the person running the campaign that sends Hastings packing.  If you want to see Washington State pull off not one (Darcy) but two Congressional wins, send a bit of money to George.  Take a few minutes to check out his very excellent videos and audios while you're there.

Posted by Lynn Allen on August 7, 2008 at 03:13 PM in Candidate Races, Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 04, 2008

Called to Action in a Time of Need

So many of us are on a mission to take this country back.  I see the action everywhere.  It is a somewhat bumpy path since we are flexing muscles we have not used in a while - these engaged citizen muscles.  There is a learning curve.  And, damn, but those Republicans are deceptive and seemingly willing to do just about anything to win.  So they manage to throw us off stride occasionally and this last week was such a time. 

But, nevertheless, incredible people are stepping up to run for office; people are taking on significant tasks as volunteers, doing critical research and writing about what this government has done; working very hard to elect more and better Democrats; contributing money; and more.  It's just truly an incredible "uprising" to borrow the name of David Sirota's very good book of the same name

Many, many people are leaving other careers or adding onto other careers to take on significant public service or citizen responsibilities.  It starts with many of our new Democratic candidates but includes so many of us as well.  Remember how many people took the time to attend the caucuses, many for the first time?  Some of them have gone on to volunteer for Obama or other Democratic candidates.  Some have contributed money.  Many have become precinct committee officers (PCO's) in their legislative districts (LDs).  Those who were already relatively active have added more - perhaps holding events or volunteering consistently.  Those already involved have stepped into hugely enlarged roles in the local Democratic organizations or campaigns.  It might be recruiting PCO's or training folks on using VoteBuilder or running the LD caucus or serving as LD Chair, a job that has become quite large of late.  It might be running for the legislature as Phyllis Huster in the 5th LD is doing or Michael Powell in the 2nd LD, among others. 

Candidates Drawn to the Fray

Obama himself, although already moving quickly into the national limelight, took the further step of running for President.  Darcy decided to run for Congress when it became clear that we needed a new crop of Democrats to shift the country's direction.  Peter Goldmark took on the job of first running for the 5th CD last cycle, and then this year took on the race for State Land Commissioner, a job he seems very well suited to.  George Fearing stepped into the fray by running against the odious Doc Hastings in the 4th Congressional District.  All of these people had the resources and skills to step into a very public role although they hadn't spend years working their way up from City Council positions.   They simply were called to help in a time of need.

Citizens Stepping Up

But so many other folks have assessed their resources and skills and stepped into the ring in different ways.  Others have jumped in when they may not have wished to but something needed to be done.  These are just a few friends who have taken on large tasks in the last few years:

1)  Bill Montgomery, a retired executive, has always been involved in his Dartmouth Alumni Association and maintains close social relationships with many Dartmouth alumni.  Now, deep into his retirement, Bill has taken on the fight to prevent a group of right-wing alumni (remember when a group of Dartmouth conservative students led the anti "political correctness" battle?) from taking over the Dartmouth Alumni organization with financial help from a conservative organization that attempts to impact higher education.  Bill is part of a group, called Dartmouth Undying, which has worked successfully to organize the normally non-political alumni to get more involved to counter a conservative slate of Alumni Board members trying to force the Dartmouth Administration to tack right.  On June 10th, the slate backed by Dartmouth Undying won all 11 seats and saw a lawsuit against Dartmouth dismissed shortly thereafter.

2)  Dan Seligman, a Seattle natural resources attorney, has created a website to monitor the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA).  Dan has been paying attention to  the BPA for years, unearthing questionable expenditures of public funds, drawing attention to policies that would raise ratepayer's electricity bills and, recently, requesting information on who gets free rides on BPA planes.  The new site, BPA Watch, was developed to inform the public, press and Congress about BPA, and to precipitate a broader debate about regional energy issues.

3)  Carol Friends, on the Board of the 41st Legislative District, retired late last year to be able to spend more time organizing newly involved LD members and PCO's.  They are now calling fellow Democrats to get them more involved, holding potluck dinners to talk about issues, and working on campaigns.  The 41st put together an election plan for their distict. It includes Voter ID, Get Out the Vote and precinct canvassing. Carol is also is coordinating with the state party for voter ID. This level of cooperation between Legislative Districts and the state party is unusual.

4)  Mark Hintz, Chair of the Snohomish Democratic Party, Luis Moscoso, all-around Democratic activist, Dave Somers, Snohomish County Council member, and a group of equally dedicated Snohomish residents, presented a proposal for a Human Rights Ordinance to the Snohomish County Council to deal with a string of human rights abuses in Snohomish County.  There have been a series of incidents around the county that uncovered anti-Immigration, anti-Native American, anti-African American and anti-Gay, Lesbian and Transgender sentiment in Snohomish County.  The HRC Ordinance would both put more teeth into prosecution and provide resources to educate citizens and prevent such incidents.

I could write about another dozen people I know personally who are allotting huge amounts of their time to help this country change direction.  Foremost amongst them, the many excellent blog writers we have in this region.  So could you and I welcome your additions.  We do live in interesting times and this call to action that so many of us feel is a welcome response. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on August 4, 2008 at 09:13 AM in National and International Politics, Taking Action | Permalink | Comments (1)

August 01, 2008

My Dream Ticket - Obama/Clark

I notice that Matt Stoller and digby are both pushing an Obama/Clark ticket and asking people to sign up at a new website created for the purpose of influencing that choice. 

Clark has many of the same appealing qualities that Obama has.  Both are thoughtful, fearless and direct.  Both have been working hard to elect Democrats up and down the ticket.

Clark was also against the Iraq War from the beginning and came to our attention when he was a military analyst on CNN during the start of the war who consistently talked about the importance of diplomatic solutions.  He also has a degree from Oxford in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. 

Clark is the most sought after supporter for Democrats around the country and he has been unstinting with his time and resources.  He was an early and firm supporter of Ned Lamont.  He endorsed Darcy and sent her money, both in '06 and this year.  When her house burned down, he put out a call to his email lists for assistance for her and raised $33,400 in a few days to "cover her back".

Here's what Matt says:

The political argument for Clark is simple.  He is a great surrogate for Democrats, with experience in 2004 and 2006 on the campaign trail, and a genuine national base of supporters.  In terms of governance, which is what Obama says is the most important criteria for his VP pick, Clark can help Obama deal with the mess that the Bush administration left behind.  As commander of NATO in the late 1990s, Clark won a war, so he is more likely than any progressive out there to be able to wrangle solutions from a military establishment that has been decimated by Bush's cronyism and incompetence.  That is really important moving forward, since rebuilding our national security posture is a critical challenge over the next eight years.

Digby agrees, focusing among other things on the effort we will need to make to salvage the forgotten war in Afghanistan. "Afghanistan is a NATO mission and he knows NATO backwards and forwards. Maybe showing that he has a grassroots constituency is one way to do it."

As does Nate Silver, the respected pollster at Fivethirtyeight.   

I think now would be the perfect moment to reject the faux-outrage culture of the Village and pick somebody who isn't afraid to call McCain out on foreign policy and military affairs. Steve Schmidt will send everyone in DC a case of smelling salts and a personal fainting couch, but unless Obama figures out a way to signal that he's getting off the hissy fit express, this campaign is going to be torturous. And we know one thing: capitulating to it doesn't work. They just up the ante.

If you agree that this would be the best ticket possible, sign up here.

Posted by Lynn Allen on August 1, 2008 at 10:10 AM in Candidate Races, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (9)