Tuesday, July 27

Firefighter For Kerry

Craig Soucy is a Kerry alternate from the 46th Legislative District, 7th Congressional District. He's president of IAFF Local 864 Renton Firefighters. He spoke with me on Sunday at the Washington State delegation party.

One thing that concerned Soucy before the convention was the firefighter's union strike in Boston, in the midst of an ongoing contract negotiation. Soucy noted that John Kerry had refused to speak at a recent mayoral convention held in Boston because he wouldn't cross their picket line. To Soucy's knowledge, Kerry has never crossed a picket line. He said that the city was encouraged to negotiate a contract so that the candidate and sympathetic Democratic delegations wouldn't have to avoid the convention.

Soucy's main concern is working families and their access to healthcare. He thinks it's a disgrace to outsource American jobs, when families here are losing theirs. At the same time, those who have jobs may be adversely affected if Bush's new overtime laws take effect. He's concerned that people could get asked to work extra hours without additional pay, or be arbitrarily asked to work weekends. He also says that Bush isn't health care, and that the cost of it has become the "biggest issue in contract negotiation ...for at least 3 years."

Another issue that's important to him is Homeland Security, and says that Bush has cut support for the Fire Act, cutting funding from 500 million to 200 million. Soucy says local governments are having to take up the slack. He says that firefighters are the first line of defense, showing up first in the case of a major event. That extra money would have bought more detection, containment, and mitigation equipment in case of a chemical or biological attack, along with more firefighters to operate them.

Firefighters are also serving in Iraq in National Guard and Reserve units that have been called to active duty. Soucy says that in his local, one member is serving on active duty with the Reserve, one has returned home, and another has lost a family member. He says it's hard on families because when someone is called up, they lose the difference between their civilian and military pay.

Providing event security has become more of a budget strain recently, as well. Before 9-11, Soucy says that people just didn't request as much security. Now, events like the DNC activate FEMA teams who are mostly made up of people who normally work at some local first response office which may be in another part of the country. They might include search & rescue teams, like the ones that responded to the Oklahoma City bombing. Some local jurisdiction has to pick up the cost of travel, lodging, and transporting equipment.

Having worked to help organize firefighters for Kerry, and hold Kerry fundraisers, he's also gotten a chance to get informed about other people's concerns. To Soucy, the convention is to get the message of John Kerry, John Edwards, and the party out to the public, but also to continue to get more educated about the issues.

Monday, July 26

Hey Kucinich Supporters!

Monday at the Washington State delegation breakfast, Dennis Kucinich showed up to kickstart our stay at the convention. He was full of energy, greeting us with the question, "Are you ready to join the effort to elect John Kerry as the next President of the United States?"

He said that the press kept asking, 'But don't you disagree about the war?' He responds that, "If we didn't disagree, we wouldn't be Democrats." He said that the media wants to split Democrats up in this election, but that we were of one opinion on electing John Kerry. In this election, he said that Democrats would demonstrate the first motto of the United States, 'Out of many, one.'

At the state party Sunday, I talked with one of the Kucinich delegates to get an idea what it meant to them to be here participating in the process. Chris Karnes, from the 6th Congressional and 27th Legislative Districts shared his views. Karnes is a 2nd year physics student attending Tacoma Community College.

Karnes learned about Kucinich from the MoveOn primary last year, which was the first time he'd taken a serious look at any of the candidates. He liked Kucinich's positions, and started attending Meetups. When he started working with the Pierce County coordinator, they weren't all sure what to do at first but "it all coalesced."

Karnes said that 75 people attended their precinct caucus, an unusually high number, and he served as chair for his precinct. He went further, and worked on the Pierce County platform committee, where he says that a resolution against the PATRIOT act passed unanimously. Wording opposing key provisions of the PATRIOT act is in the final platform document, similar planks must have been passed all around the country, though some provisions are also supported as necessary to national security. Another resolution that passed concerned cutting wasteful military spending, including new nuclear weapons development and Star Wars type programs. He says similar planks were passed in Thurston, Skagit, and King Counties, among others.

Karnes then served on the state platform subcommittee on government and political reform. They dealt with issues like electronic voting, voting systems, corporate power, and media reform. On a statewide level, he said, "People are aware that corporations have considerable undue influence." There were minor disagreements about the wording of the final version at the state convention, but the premise was well accepted. He said that Dean & Kucinich delegates stayed late at the state convention to help pass an additional resolution to oppose any draft for the Iraq war.

At every caucus level where they were represented, as many caucus attendees probably remember from their own caucuses, Kucinich delegates started with just under 15%. In most cases, they were successfully able to fight their way up to 15%, but it took a lot of work. Since Kerry had already secured the nomination, they lobbied Kerry and Dean delegates by phone and at the caucuses to switch over. Of those who switched over, Karnes says, "I am very grateful for that. I wouldn't be here without the support of Dean and Kerry people who wanted to make sure everyone had a seat at the table."

Karnes expects everyone to pull together to work for Kerry's election, but says "we're not going away." He would like to see more progressive changes in politics, but he'll stick with the Democratic party. An important priority for him is working to get the troops out of Iraq, saying that the situation will continue to overshadow domestic priorities.

Saturday, July 24

Jay Inslee's Campaign Kick-off

Today I attended Jay Inslee's campaign kickoff in Edmonds, WA. Today also marks the beginning of a 100-day countdown to the general election.

"Today, July 24th, 2004 in Edmonds, Washington is the beginning of the decline and the fall of the Bush empire"
-- Jay Inslee, First Congressional District

In his twenty-minute speech, Rep. Inslee went on the attack against President Bush's policies and the war in Iraq. He cited numerous failed policies, calling this "the most imporant election since the civil war." Rep. Inslee then motivated the crowd to spend the next hundred days supporting local candidates, going doorbelling, and working to defeat President Bush in November. Rep. Inslee is going to spend his next hundred days helping other Democratic candidates getting elected, as he is running unopposed in the First.

Rep. Inslee touched on his New Apollo Energy Project, to reduce our dependency on foreign oil. He also briefly spoke about foreign policy, the environment, and civil liberties, but motivating the crowd to volunteer was really the central theme of the event. Rep. Inslee then introduced Joe Wilson, the former ambassador to Africa who came to prominence last year.

"Her and I have been subjected to the worst possible attacks... and I will not stand by while my wife is sacrificed on the altar of 16 words that the President should have never, ever uttered."
-- Joe Wilson, Ambassador

Joe Wilson spoke extensively on how his life has changed after his wife was exposed as a CIA operative. The right-wing smear campaign against Joe Wilson is continuing, despite an ongoing criminal investigation. He believes that this is in an attempt to surpress free speech. "Who will stand up to the government, and who will stand up to the government if they can crush Joe Wilson?" Mr. Wilson's appears undaunted in the face of the opposition, and he's continuing with courage.

Mr. Wilson also recounted the events leading up to the famed 16 words in the State of the Union address. Three months before Mr. Wilson spoke to the media, the CIA was actively working to prevent the President from including the British intelligence on African uranium in the speech. As Mr. Wilson put it, "they'd probably like to blame the entire war on me."

Mr. Wilson also endorsed Jay Inslee, and encouraged the audience to get out and to encourage others to vote in November.

Voters I spoke with in the crowd said they were attending to show their support for Jay Inslee. When asked what their main concerns were, many responded with education, the environment, and employment. Selected voter interviews with photos are available here.

News & Comment

Well, it's almost time to go catch my plane for Boston. I'm done packing, but I can take my pick of being a) too hot to sleep, or b) too wound up to sleep. Thought I'd leave you with a few last minute links to stories that you may want to read if they hadn't come to your attention already:

The situation in Iraq is completely under control. Look, here's a Constitutional amendment on gay marriage! Pay no attention to that kidnapped Egyptian diplomat. If there's a bright side to this mess, and it's very hard to find one, it's this:

...The beheading of hostages has stirred opposition in Iraq, with radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who led a two-month uprising against U.S. forces beginning in April, joining the criticism.

"We condemn what some people are doing regarding the beheading of prisoners, and it is illegal according to Islamic law," al-Sadr said at the Kufa mosque south of Baghdad, where he led Friday prayers. "Anybody doing this is a criminal, and we will punish him according to Islamic law."...

An older article about WA 8th Congressional candidate Dave Reichert's campaign stance that there should be budget cuts to a program that helped catch the Green River Killer.

The politics of Costco and Walmart. You've heard the stories about how each company treats its workers, based on that, take a guess which respective political parties they contribute to.

Compassionate conservatism in action: 145,000 children lose healthcare due to cuts in federal programs designed to help low-income families. The programs are administered by the states, but federally funded, and we all know how well the federal government has been doing lately in keeping up its end of the funding bargain. The state of Texas is noted for both a large share of the cuts, and significant reductions in service to children still covered.

Whiskey Bar: Americans have taken a pay cut since 1972. With the aid of the Wall Street Journal and an economist from J.P. Morgan Chase, Billmon makes the case that not only does John Edwards' two Americas theme hold water, but that Republican policy is undoing a century of progress that made a middle class possible. It's very easy to forget that the existence of a middle class is a fairly new invention.

George Paine talks about the level of political discourse.

Avedon Carol has some things liberals should read, notably a pointer to a story where a Republican was caught in public talking about the need to supress voting.

Daily Kos: How mercenaries hurt the military and the war effort. Claims of mass graves in Iraq were highly exaggerated, not that it makes it any better for those who lost their lives. Why Democrats in safely 'blue' states shouldn't be surprised when elected Democrats in more conservative parts of the country don't toe the line on every vote, which seems only reasonable.

Body and Soul chronicles Bush's history of offending the religious.

Atrios: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz didn't believe Bin Laden was a threat before 9-11.

Have a good weekend & I'll see you Monday, live from Boston!

MSNBC Thursday

Don't want to forget to highlight some reason and sense coming from the nation's press corp. The Abrams Report [full transcript] opened with three guests discussing the just released 9-11 report. He started the segment praising the 9-11 commissioners for coming up with a unanimous report that partisans from either side would deal with on merits, and he politely enforced that sentiment when he cut off (the transcript doesn't indicate, but he did cut Pipes short):

DANIEL PIPES, DIRECTOR, MIDDLE EAST FORUM: I agree with Steve and Coleen that it‘s a good report but I‘ve got two other issues on my mind, not so much the technicalities of it but two other things. One is the fact that in the political environment, we see that there is a real move now to go back to the way things were pre-9/11. The Democratic Party in general is against fighting a war and instead of looking at this as a police action.

ABRAMS: But I don‘t want to get into the politics of this. I only just focus on the 9 -- let me take a quick break here. I‘m going to ask you all to stick around. The reason I chose these three people is for a reason and that‘s because when we come back, I‘m going to talk to them about what it was like at times for all of them, to be ignored before 9/11, when each one of them in their own way were warning about the danger of al Qaeda. ...

The discussion that followed, and I recommend reading it, actually managed to be informative. He closed the show with a fact that's become a major political football:

ABRAMS: ...The one I‘ve talked about is the nonsense about—quote—“long-established ties between al Qaeda and Iraq” and I think misleading statements from the vice president, who continues to perpetuate a myth about some longstanding relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda that helped somehow justify the war. As I have said before, there were other good-faith reasons to believe Iraq was a real threat, but this supposed relationship with al Qaeda, never one of them.

The commission found, while there were some—quote—“friendly contacts” between Iraq and al Qaeda, none of them ever—quote—“developed into a collaborative relationship.” And so the issue should now become moot, but, of course, it will not, because a few hard-core partisans will continue to ignore the evidence. Some have already chimed in, offering Clintonesque legalistic defenses.

For Cheney, the issue is not, were there any contacts between the two? It is, was their relationship significant enough that one justification for war against Iraq is the extent of that relationship? Of course not. Bottom line, the U.S. had—quote—“friendly contacts” with Iraq before the 1991 war. In fact, you could easily argue we had a collaborative relationship.

It is not a justification for anything. Hopefully, this report will focus everyone back on the real issues, how to make things better now rather than trying to justifying old mistakes. The fact that five distinguished Democrats, five distinguished Republicans were able to unanimously agree on everything in this report means that we should listen, we should act, we should regain focus on al Qaeda and the immediate danger we face. ...

This is what the media should do, in my opinion. Facilitate reasoned discussion, get your own facts straight, don't be afraid to say that someone is wrong when they are blatantly in contradiction of well known facts. It's a high bar, I know. But Abrams, at least, gets a high mark for Thursday's show.

Thursday, July 22

New Bush Commercial

A Bush commercial running in heavy rotation in our area on the cable news channels states that while John Kerry missed several thinly described votes (and those are worth a post each by themselves), he...

...found time to vote against the Laci Peterson Law, that protects pregnant women from violence. ...

First, Democrats objected to a portion of the bill that described a fetus in terms that give it the status of its adult mother in order to add further penalties, when they could have avoided the subject and simply added the penalties. It's clearly a foothold toward establishing legal precedent that could be used to move against reproductive choice. (We could take a lesson in persistence from this effort.)

But another assumption made in this statement is more insidious, and goes beyond the choice debate. The law set a punishment for a crime already committed. Even had it been in effect at the time of Laci Peterson's death, she would likely still be dead. She was not protected by the existing laws against murder, and they serve now only as retribution.

There are times when retribution is justified. I struggle with the issue of the death penalty when I read about the many cases where DNA evidence has exonerated Death Row inmates. It seems that perhaps we aren't wise enough to make decisions about these matters. I struggle with it more when I read about crimes of a horrible nature, where the perpetrator has been caught beyond shadow of a doubt. It's a hard question. But whatever way you think about the death penalty, it is not protection, but retaliation.

Putting someone in prison is retribution. It doesn't change what they did, restore their victims, or bring people back to life. It might prevent additional crimes by that person, but only if they're never let out again. Often, ex-convicts, brutalized by a Lord of the Flies prison culture, no better educated than when they walked in, and virtually unemployable, go on to commit other crimes. Many others spend their lives as drifters, sinking further into the substance abuse prevalent in our nation's prisons. Is this really the best form of protection we can think of?

Protection is putting more police on the streets. It's about giving those police training that allows them to inspire the trust and confidence of their local communities. It's about giving people a head start through education so that they don't grow up desperate and alienated, feeling that they owe nothing to their society. It's about providing early childhood healthcare and support services to families who can't afford them, so that undiagnosed conditions don't interfere with learning. It's about addressing and changing a culture that glorifies violence, through whatever means seem most productive. It's about making sure that counseling is available to families when they're having communication difficulties, and that there's a safety net to catch them when they're having financial difficulties.

Protection is necessarily a matter of prevention. And admittedly, there are some things that can't be protected against, people who can't be helped, and problems we can only come to deal with too late. But there are so many things that we can prevent, that we can protect ourselves and our families from, that it doesn't make sense to muddy the discussion by confusing protection in advance and retribution after the fact.

This country now imprisons more people per capita than any other country in the world. Maybe it's about time to start talking about other ways to protect our society.

Wednesday, July 21

2000 Election Flashback

You'd almost think this was a comment about Bill Clinton:

...But Hastert's No. 2, Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, said [he] deserves a zone of privacy.

"He, like every one of us, has a few things that we'd just as soon not talk about in front of our children from when we were younger," he said. "To his credit, and I wish more people seeking public office would have the credit to put their family first on occasion." ...

But of course, it was actually a comment about then Governor Bush made when it was revealed that at the tender age of 30, he had been arrested for drunk driving in Maine. After first lying about it:

...That 1998 exchange, documented in a September profile of Hughes in The New Republic, ended quickly with Bush saying he hadn't been arrested for anything after 1968, the year he was said to have been hauled in for a college fraternity prank.

...In an impromptu news conference Thursday night, Bush confirmed to reporters in Wisconsin that he was "apprehended" in Kennebunkport, Maine, in September of 1976 by a police officer who pulled Bush's car to the side of the road because Bush was driving too slowly after consuming a number of beers. His blood-alcohol content was determined to be 0.10, the legal limit at the time. ...

At the time, the Republicans found the timing of the announcement to be the most suspicious issue. Not the lying, not operating heavy machinery in public while intoxicated. This year, don't let them get away with the spin.

Tuesday, July 20

Candidates at the 41st LD Democrats' Picnic

Around 100 Democrats from the 41st Legislative District showed up at a lakefront park in Newcastle this past Sunday to share barbecue and listen to state and local candidates. I caught up with a mix of candidates and campaign coordinators so they could share their take on the races, and what they're doing to get heard.

Candidates running for reelection to a current office are noted below. All others are running for election, some in contested primaries.

Rep. Judy Clibborn: State House of Representatives, 41st, reelection

Clibborn says her main focus is going to people's doors, where she finds that people often know her from mailings. She says that funding education, transportation, and healthcare are the issues she hears most about. According to Clibborn, people were disappointed when two education initiatives, providing for smaller class sizes and cost of living adjustments for teachers, weren't funded in this year's budget. She says people are so interested in seeing something done about transportation that she's heard from constituents who were excited about a $0.05 gas tax which would go to new projects, and is finding more interest in mass transit and alternatives to roads. Clibborn says healthcare is probably something that needs to be handled at the federal level, with the state only able to put bandages on the problem.

She says her time in office has been characterized by working across party lines to get things done. In terms of constituent services, she says her office has worked to let people know she's approachable, and help them with government related case work.

Brian Weinstein: State Senate, 41st LD

The first issue mentioned by Kate Reynolds, Brian Weinstein's campaign manager, was Weinstein's belief in greater education investment. She said he believes schools "shouldn't have to make choices between a language teacher and smaller class sizes." Noting that Microsoft only plans to hire 8% of its future work force from the area, Reynolds said local children need to be ready to take those jobs someday. The Weinstein campaign is interested in looking beyond roads as a solution to transportation issues, such as light rail, more Park & Rides, or other mass transit solutions. Regarding healthcare, Reynolds said it was horrible that children had been kicked off the state healthcare rolls. She said Weinstein was looking at a model followed by Vermont, which offers coverage to everyone under 18.

"Campaigns really succeed because the volunteers get involved and take ownership." She described their doorbelling campaign as "very aggressive," noting that they'd knocked on 10,000 doors so far. They plan to begin phonebanking efforts shortly.

Alex Alben: Congress, 8th Congressional District

Campaign manager Ben Vaught says the campaign has knocked on 2,000 doors in the last week alone, and is raising the kind of money that will be necessary to face the Republican challenger in the fall. He says Alben has been out five or six nights a week trying to meet as many people as he can to find out what they want from a congressman.

Vaught says the main concerns they're hearing from people are the economy and Iraq. He says they've heard concerns about the jobless recovery, and wonder if the fluctuating economy is going to get better. On Iraq, he says people see it as a case where they've been lied to and taken advantage of, much the same as during the Vietnam war. Additionally, Vaught states that not only is Alben a supporter of a woman's freedom of choice, but that he'll stand up to fight for it.

Heidi Behrens-Benedict: Congress, 8th Congressional District

Michael Tivana, Behrens-Benedict's volunteer campaign coordinator says their campaign is going to every event, picnic, or legislative district meeting they can to increase visibility.

Tivana says the campaign's main issues are healthcare and economic development. On health care, he says they're committed to see everyone gets healthcare. We're going to start wi a program to get the corporation to pay their tax fraud money, which is over 300 billion a year, and use that money to start insuring children and work our way on up to get everyone covered." He said a particular focus was women's healthcare, pre-natal care, mammograms. An additional focus is promoting the government's responsibility to create a fertile ground for economic development by helping develop technology, infrastructure, education and venture capital.

Dave Ross: Congress, 8th Congressional District

Leslie Sax, Dave Ross' volunteer coordinator for the 41st. She's never worked for any other campaign, but has been listening to Ross on the air for years. Sax says the campaign has been doorbelling every night in Kent, Issaquah, and Bellevue, and has attended every recent public celebration they could. Viet Shelton, Ross' field director says Ross has personally been out meeting people at their doors, and that the campaign has visited 5,000 homes in the last three weeks.

Sax said Ross' pro-choice stance was important to her, including his support of requiring parental notification. She agrees with his position on the war, that though the country was duped into going in, it's important now to try to rebuild the country and leave as soon as possible. Shelton added that he thought Ross' positions on education, the economy, and the war, are the most closely in line with the 8th Congressional District.

Treasurer Mike Murphy: State Treasurer, reelection

Murphy has been State Treasurer for 7 and 1/2 years, and has worked as a treasurer for 32 years. He says his job is the best one in Olympia, and that "we manage all the money for the state, and we balance to the penny every day." Murphy, with a staff of 70, acts as the banker for Washington State, managing receipts, disbursements, debt, and investment. The treasury office is a Constitutional post in the line of succession after the Lieutenant Governor and the Secretary of State. Murphy says that while he does not yet have an opponent, he expects one, saying that treasurers never run unopposed.

Juanita Doyon: State Superintendent of Schools (nonpartisan)

Doyon said the campaign has been doorbelling all over the state, and reaching out to Democratic and Republican meetings, labor groups, and groups like the Washington Education Association. She says the state superintendent's offic oversees 43% of the state budget, and 296 school districts.

Doyon said one of the biggest issues was de-emphasizing the WASL test, and delink it from the graduation requirement. She opposes charter schools, saying that she thinks it's important to give support to existing neighborhood schools. Doyon says the punitive aspects of the No Child Left Behind act need to be fought. She points out that the graduation rate is now only 66% for all students, 53% for African Americans, and only 48% for Native and Hispanic students. She says it's important to bring vocational education art, and other engaging subjects back into schools instead of just teaching to the test.

Deborah Senn: State Attorney General

Senn says the purpose of the attorney general is to "represent the people of the state." She says the attorney general can oversee predatory lending, see that gasoline prices are fair, deal with identity theft, and advocate for the right to choose. She noted that current Attorney General Christine Gregoire had participated in the tobacco settlement, which has helped the state, as an example of the sort of work the AG's office does. She also cited efforts by the nation's attorneys general to prevent prescription drug companies from blocking cheaper generics.

Another issue she brought up was current U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft's recent actions to subpoena individual women's medical records as part of a case that would undermine reproductive choice. She had said earlier that she wouldn't allow private health records to be subpoenaed from this state.

Mark Sidran: State Attorney General

Sidran said he intends to be "wherever two or more are gathered," when it comes to meeting with Democrats across the state. He says it's important to him that the attorney general's office to be the best law firm possible for the state, and that recruiting and retaining quality law staff is an important part of the job.

He says consumer protection and anti-trust are two of the main issues dealt with by the AG's office. He intends to double the number of consumer protection attorneys dealing with consumer protection and identity theft, and create a victim assistance hotline available statewide for internet fraud and identity theft. He says the office could also do more to help local police and prosecutors deal with these issues better. Citing recent corporate crimes like the Enron and Worldcom scandals, he said his experience as a prosecutor would be helpful in handling such cases. Also, he says the attorney general is responsible for enforcing environmental legislation, and acts as the attorney for the Departments of Ecology, Fish and Wildlife, and others. He says he'd pick up where current Attorney General Christine Gregoire will leave off with pursuing the Hanford cleanup.

Andrea Darvas: King County Superior Court Judge (nonpartisan)

Darvas says her campaign is a grassroots volunteer effort, and she's been attending numerous district meetings, rotary clubs, chambers of commerce, and other gatherings to meet people personally. As a nonpartisan candidate, she's reached out for endorsements from prominent members of both parties, and 35 sitting judges. She says a lot of people tell her it's difficult to get information about judicial candidates, and thinks it's important to let people know more about her background and what the courts and judges do so they can have better information to base their votes on.

According to Darvas, "The Superior Court is the trial court of general jurisdiction in Washington State. What that means is it hears all criminal felonies, it hears large civil cases, those are lawsuits between businesses, lawsuits over land use, real estate, zoning, injury cases, death cases, family law cases, child custody matters, juvenile justice, and probate. So it's a very broad jurisdiction." She says it's the responsibility to uphold the Constitution, and support individual rights and liberties if the government should infringe on rights such as due process, access to a lawyer, and the right to a trial. Having grown up in a dictatorship, Darvas is committed to ensuring that freedom, the rule of law, and individual liberties are upheld.

She says she's spent 22 years as a courtroom lawyer representing the "demographic breadth of our community." She said that many excellent judicial candidates and sitting judges come from government service backgrounds, but that there's a need to add broader community experience.

Darvas added that she'd run into a lot of confusion over the new primary ballot system that will be in place this year. She said that even though voters had to pick a specific ballot to vote in the partisan races, the judicial candidates would be listed at the bottom of every ballot for everyone to vote on. She says it's important to vote for judicial candidates in the primary because if only two candidates are running, the primary decides the race.

Justice Barbara Madsen: Washington State Supreme Court, reelection (nonpartisan)

Madsen says she's making an effort to attend Legislative District meetings and picnics held by both Democrats and Republicans. She's been speaking with audiences at the Farm Bureau, the Women's Political Caucus, and other groups to work to understand their issues. Madsen's campaign is being managed by daughter Hillary Madsen, Director of Women's Affairs for the Washington State Young Democrats.

Speaking of her time serving in the court, Madsen says, "As a member of the Supreme Court, we have responsibilities outside the courtroom, and that is the administration of justice for the whole state. I'm the chair of the Gender and Justice Commission, which is one of three major commissions for the court. The other is the Minority and Justice Commission, and then the Access to Justice Commission. Each one of these commissions works on discrete issues, but the overall umbrella idea behind these commissions is to make justice more accessible for people in our state. And also to ensure to the extent we can that we have judges who are educated in the law, and educated as to their own biases so that we can make our court bias-free.

"Some of the things that we've done include a unified family court, which essentially guarantees that one judge is going to administer to a family in all of their problems, and all the issues that confront that one family. We can keep the cost down to that family, and we can keep the number of appearances down, so that the family is only required to come one or two times to the court instead of over and over to different judges with dif resp and diff orders that might conflict even.

"Another project the court has undertaken is to put in a courthouse facilitator in every courthouse. A facilitator helps people who are not represented by counsel, so they actually understand what papers they need, where they need to file the papers, how they can set a court date, and just all the procedural aspects of being able to get into the courtroom to see the judge to explain what their issues are. And that's something that's free of charge to members of the public, and it's funded by the state."

Madsen said that another responsibility undertaken by members of the court was personally lobbying state and federal legislators for court funding. She also noted that the court has provided opinions going back to 1889, as well as all court rules and statutes on their website allowing people to learn about the law from home. The full site has been up for a little less than two years, with the extended court opinion archives only becoming available six months ago.

Note: The above candidate statements were from campaigns that had a candidate or representative at the picnic. This posting is not intended to be a full list of candidates running for any office, and readers are encouraged to look into these races in more detail. We will continue posting more campaign statements and interviews as they become available.

Looking Out For Us

New Hampshire28,3328,469
New Jersey207,11457,148
New Mexico49,7409,512
New York575,051190,996
North Carolina231,14746,184
North Dakota10,9261,469
Rhode Island33,17810,054
South Carolina136,59552,700
South Dakota14,4813,056
West Virginia42,541546

This table is provided by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's office with the following statement:

"These numbers are still a good example of how the middle class is being squeezed, with job creation low, and given that over 90 percent of the new jobs created since August of 2003 are service sector jobs that pay an average hourly wage that is less than the national average. About 1.4 million of the jobs created are service sector jobs with an average wage of $15.24 - 41 cents less than the national average - and 203,000 of these jobs are temporary jobs. Approximately 370,000 of these jobs were in low-paying domestic industries, such as wait staff in restaurants and bars and retail workers.

"In addition, wages are at record lows. Over the last year, average hourly wages have fallen when adjusted for inflation [BLS 6/04]. Wages are now at the lowest point in two years, and the typical American family is making nearly $1,500 less per year. [EPI, 6/28/04; Census 9/03] The portion of the national economy going to wages is lower than it has been since 1966. In contrast, after tax corporate profits are the highest since the government began keeping track in 1947. [Wall Street Journal, 7/1/04]"

Monday, July 19

News & Comment

Campaign Desk posts the satiric rundown of last week's Daily Show talking points sendup. Click over to read the segment that culminated with Jon Stewart saying: "Keeping up with current events is easier than you think. Talking points. They're true because they're said a lot."

Speaking of talking points, Boing Boing points to a Salon review of Outfoxed, the new documentary about FOX News. Apparently, the DVD release is selling like hotcakes, and there will be limited theater releases.

Matt Yglesias finds a press faux pas, with journalists claiming that the French backed up the Uranium from Niger claim alluded to in Bush's State of the Union, while the French claim is based on the same forgeries as the British claim.

Dave Neiwert talks about what conservatism used to mean, vs. its current meaning, which seems to be all about hating liberals. Here he lays out the case that the theft of the 2000 election may be the largest under the radar issue of the 2004 election. And he finds it suspicious that the American press seem to mostly be ignoring what sounds like a huge story: accusations that interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi personally shot 6 captive insurgents to death just days before taking his current position.

Jordan Barab of Confined Space explains what neither Tim Russert nor Homeland Security Committee Chair Chris Cox (R-CA) seem to know about how chemical industry lobbying affects homeland security legislation.

The Guardian posts an article on the Kerry campaign whirlwind.

In Sudan, the genocide in Darfur continues. Militia in the company of government troops have taken to wholesale public rape and abduction of women as they continue to terrorize the black African tribal people of the region.

At least 10 are dead in another suicide bombing in Baghdad. The bomb was detonated outside a police station.

Max Sawicky says the New York Times apology for its pre-war coverage doesn't go nearly far enough.

Finally, Kevin Drum writes about stagnating wages for Political Animal. Stagnating wages, that is, for the working stiff whose wages are said to be purely at the mercy of supply and demand. Noting that CEO pay rose 27% in 2003, Drum suggests a contest:

Is this the free market at work? That's what I'm told. So I have a contest in mind: a prize for the least laughable explanation for why CEO pay has gone up 7x since 1980 based on supply and demand. At a minimum, winning entries should explain the following:

  • Why the supply of CEOs has decreased.

  • Why the demand for CEOs has increased.

  • Why the elasticity of the CEO demand curve is apparently steeper than for any other commodity on the planet.

Friday, July 16

Teresa For First Lady

Today, prospective First Lady Teresa Heinz Kerry spoke at a fundraiser for the Democratic gubernatorial campaign at the Convention Center in Seattle. The proceeds will help the eventual winner of the Democratic primary in September.


King County Executive Ron Sims spoke first, mainly focusing on tax reform. He says that the state's middle class is one of the most overtaxed in the country, and it's time to fix our tax structure. Elsewhere, Sims has proposed introducing a small, graduated personal income tax that would partially replace sales and property tax while reducing unpopular fees.

Speaking the gay marriage debate, Sims referred back to civil rights movement he grew up around to state his belief that there's no such thing as half a civil right. He also said that in a state that's fallen to 49th in K-6 class size, and 39th in teacher pay, significant improvements need to be made to be competitive with other regions.


Washington State Attorney General Christine Gregoire drew a parallel between herself and Heinz Kerry, noting that both were married to veterans of the Vietnam war, and were both determined to see that troops returning from Iraq got a grateful welcome. She said that she agrees with a statement once made by President Kennedy that a job is the best social program. Of Republican candidate Dino Rossi, she said that his moves to cut forty thousand children off healthcare and his opposition to the right to choose would take the state in the wrong direction.

Gregoire said that affordable and accessible healthcare was a right. She has previously said that she intends to use the employer bargaining power of the state government to negotiate better rates for state employees, and extend those rates to business. She has also proposed adopting a single billing system with a single form for doctors to use, saying it would reduce paperwork that adds to confusion and overhead.


Governor Gary Locke introduced Heinz Kerry, but not before talking about why he's proud to be a Democrat. He said that he was proud to be a member of a party that believed in equal rigts, equal opportunity, finding people work, and giving a voice to members of society who wouldn't be heard otherwise. He gave equal emphasis to saying he was proud that Democrats "don't believe that government should be scorned and dismantled," or view dissent as unpatriotic.

Speaking of President Bush, Locke contrasted the administration's unwillingness to extend unemployment benefits and efforts to cut overtime pay with a tax cut that gives more benefits to the top 1%* of taxpayers than to 90% of the public combined. In spite of Bush's promises to governors to fund No Child Left Behind, he said that after the massive tax cuts, the administration now claims there's no money for it. On healthcare, Locke said, "this administration has called in sick, and failed to report for work."

With that, Locke introduced Teresa Heinz Kerry as an exceptional leader and philanthropist. He noted that last year she was given the Albert Schweitzer Gold Medal for Humanitarianism from Johns Hopkins University.

Heinz Kerry

Heinz Kerry began by praising the two gubernatorial candidates, noting that after the primary in September, they'll only have around four weeks of general election campaigning and they'll need help. She also had kind words for Dennis Kucinich, whom she described as "wonderful."

On the campaign trail, Heinz Kerry said she'd seen that people in America aren't cynical and still have hope that if they work hard they can succeed. In spite of job losses, underfunded schools, and many other worries, people still want to believe.

"We have to work today to have leadership in our country that when they talk about values, they value them," she said. Speaking of growing up under a dictatorship in Mozambique, she noted that many people around the world only dream of the freedom we have here, "and we have got to cherish it."

Heinz Kerry studied government at a South African university, where the American form of government turned out to surprise her with people in opposite parties sponsoring legislation together and forming friendships. She noted with some amusement that in America, people from opposite parties sometimes even married each other. She said that around the country, both Republicans and Democrats were being shortchanged by this administration.

Explaining John Kerry's commitment to public service, she said, "all of us are public servants in the making if we choose to be." She said that Kerry was "offended and angered" by the way vets were being treated, saying the administration was speaking out of both sides of their mouths. Also, she said that you can't pretend to honor the firefighters of 9-11, then ignore their needs and close firehouses.

Speaking about foreign attitudes towards the U.S., Heinz Kerry said many people honestly wonder why those in other countries are angry. She compared it to having an unusually gifted child. You might not love them more, but you expect a lot. If that child messes up badly, your disappointment is greater because "your hopes were so high." She said that people around the world who love and admire the U.S. think of it as an idea of freedom, and of opportunity available in return for hard work. She said people are afraid that the idea is not sustainable, and that it may be gone forever. That they want to believe, and want their children to believe it's possible.

Heinz Kerry says there is nothing silly, soft, weak, or utopian about multilateralism. Instead, she says that religion, nature, and common sense dictatetaking care of each other. She asked, "is diplomacy a sign of weakness, or a sign of interest and engagement," suggesting that diplomacy should not be picked up on Monday and put down on Thursday. She asked, "is complexity a sign of doom, or a sign of opportunity?"

If Kerry wins office, Heinz Kerry says that "our work begins that day." She said Americans will need each other more than ever to rebuild the country and act as public servants. She went on to talk about Kerry's intentions for an administration, saying first that "we will have an attorney general who respects the Constitution of this country."

Regarding the environment, Heinz Kerry said that there would be someone at the EPA who valued it. She said she considers it a crime that scientists there have been embarassed, and some have felt forced to leave. She said that people's lives depend on the work they do, and that it isn't forgivable to work against wellness and safety. She said earlier in her talk that when it came to damaging the environment, "any right minded conervative would tell you [it's] not only dumb, it doesn't pay off." She expressed disappointment that Republicans had abandoned a tradition of conservation going back to Roosevelt.

In terms of education, she said it was important to see investment in it as a huge commitment, and that it was important to provide parents whatever help they needed to do a good job. She said a Kerry administration would offer a $4,000 tax credit for parents with children in college, and $2,000 towards a grandchild's education for seniors willing to volunteer for 10 hours of community service a week. For students willing to give two years to community service, they would get four years of full tuition at a state university, or an equivalent amount to spend at a private institution.

And Heinz Kerry said it was important to return to old principles of conservation and waste prevention. That the country should take advantage of lightweight materials and energy alternatives to reduce fuel consumption. Noting that even oil producing nations outside the Middle East are known for their instability, she said the country should never send a child to war over dependence on oil.

Finally, she said "We have a spirit of optimism that is particularly American. ...We must fight for it and never lose it.

* By way of reference, the top 1% of income earners made over $250,000 a year as of 1997. After years of spin, Republicans have managed to convince 19% of the public that they are in the top 1% tax bracket, with another 20% under the impression that they will reach it someday. It's as classic an example of American optimism as ever there was, but these beliefs distort the tax debate when public figures use nebulous terms such as 'top 1%.' I suspect that the polling data above would have been far more realistic if respondents had been asked if they made, or expected to make, over a quarter million dollars a year.

There's a time to use percentages in the tax debate, and in my opinion, that time is when talking about the share of taxes paid as a percentage of wages. Every such comparison shows that lower income citizens generally pay as high a percentage of their wages in total taxes (federal, state, local, and FICA) as their higher earning compatriots, and in states like Washington, they pay more.

Thursday, July 15

News & Comment

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks out on the genocide in Sudan. She closed her comments on the House floor as follows:

..."Our colleague Mr. Jackson pointed out that even if we acted now, still about 300,000 people will die. We hope we can lower that number, but it will certainly be higher if we do not act.
"How many times have we heard the public outcry: 'Why didn’t we stop the killings?' This is a crisis. This is an emergency. We must act now to stop the slaughter of thousands of innocent people."

A Daily Kos diarist points to Seymour Hersh talking about government tapes of child rape at Abu Ghraib, and adult prisoners who were so humiliated by what happened to them that they wrote their relatives asking them to come kill them. When I read about what went on there, though, I'm the one who feels humiliated. How did my country allow this to happen to people? How is it that the humiliation isn't attached to those who stood idly by and did nothing after getting months of reports from aid agencies and concerned soldiers? I'm not sure, but I do know that it isn't the victims of abuse at Abu Ghraib in those terrible months that deserve to feel ashamed.
Talk Left on the 6th Circuit Court rules that a recent Supreme Court ruling invalidates mandatory sentencing guidelines, which may now only be used as guidelines, not imperatives. Also, the increasing erosion of genetic privacy.
A NY Times op-ed on convention blogging.
Alas, A Blog alerts readers to a CBC story about a judge in Canada's Yukon province ruling to allow gay marriage. According to the article, Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie believes it's an example of the court extending freedoms to more citizens.
Juan Cole on the mismanagement of Voice of America, the U.S. government foreign news service. VOA has long been admired for independent reporting in other countries, so it shouldn't surprise anyone that the Bush administration has been tampering with it and misusing its resources in a shallow attempt to spread U.S. pop culture to the Arab world.
DunneIV finds a story about the depleted uranium (DU) contamination that's poisoning Iraq, a country whose cancer rates have skyrocketed since they were first showered with the radioactive dust in the first Gulf War. DU is ostensibly harmless when stored as ammunition slugs, but when a target explodes can give off dust that can lodge in the body and can't be removed. There are 4 million pounds of DU in Iraq.
An oldie, but goodie, from the Daily Howler. The history of the lies about Gore's mythical 'claim' to have invented the Internet. He never said it, not until he would later make wry commentary about the national joke it had become thanks to a host of lazy reporters and a few dishonest ones. Not a shining moment for the media, and not a one time incident, either.
The New Voters Project is working to get more people involved in politics, with a focus on young voters. I think it's a great idea, but it's probably even more important to make sure that more people see politics as an interesting subject that's highly relevant to their lives. Anyone who believes that can't be kept away from the polls. The organization talks about the downward spiral of young people not voting because they don't think politics has anything to do with them, and politicians not focusing on issues that have anything to do with them because they don't vote. Somebody has to give, but who will it be?
Over at Eschaton, there's a pointer to an article about a misbehaving bank that mysteriously has ties to the Bush family, though that isn't reported in the press articles about it. Scroll down past the entry for a comic skewering of Tom Delay, and to read about a conservative comparing Republican efforts to enshrine discrimination in the Constitution to the abolition of slavery.

Primary Post Mortem

Joe Trippi has posted the introduction to The Revolution Will Not Be Televised on his site. The money quote, though I think it might also apply to Republican Barry Goldwater:

An amazing thing happened in the presidential contest of 2004: For the first time in my life, maybe the first time in history, a candidate lost but his campaign won.

U.S. News and World Report as a seven part series on how Kerry turned his campaign around and won with a well-run field organization when everyone had written him off.

There's the political operative who stepped in to make the fixes.

How the Dean campaign tripped.

The native Iowa political machine that turned out the vote for Kerry in several crucial Iowa counties.

How the Kerry campaign worked for the support of Iowa's Governor, Tom Vilsack.

Why the Perfect Storm didn't work.

Finally, gaffes, gaffes, and more gaffes vs. a steady hand.

Wednesday, July 14

The Daily Show, July 13th

Transcript from tape, probably some random errors. From Comedy Central's 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart', your first choice in fake news. Excerpt, remarks from taped news footage indented in blockquotes:

JON STEWART: I want to start tonight with a bombshell finding by a Senat committee that the intelligence gathered in the months before the Iraq war was [pauses, laughs] horrendously flawed. To many, it has raised questions as to whether the Iraq war was justified. Well, yesterday in a 32 minute speech in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, President Bush mentioned a phrase 8 times in 32 minutes that served as a powerful rebuttal to the naysayers.
BUSH: Today because America helped to end the violent regime of Saddam Hussein, and because we're helping to raise a peaceful democracy in its place, the American people are safer.

JS: Oh. Oh good! We're safer. That's why we did it, because America is safer. Granted, some have said that iraq now is a bigger breeding ground for anti-American groups, and even Tom Ridge has said that Al Qaeda plans to attack us before the election, so some might think we're less safe. But...

BUSH: The American people are safer.

JS: Well, he said it again. That was his second time. So, you know, even Bush's own State Department released a report that, uh, once that report was de-****ed up, it said that there were more terrorist attacks last year than at almost any point since it's been tracked.

BUSH: And the American people are safer.

JS: Okay, but let me ask you this, just for schnicks between the two of us. What criteria are you using to prove that. I mean, what evidence is there, other than you saying it?

BUSH: The American people are safer. ...And the American people are safer. ...The american people are safer. ...And the American people are safer.

JS: So, basically, what it comes down to is this: The Bush administrations strategy to fight terrorism is repetition. You know what? Give us one final America is safer, and this time, give it a flourish that says stop questioning me about any of this.

BUSH: And America, and the world, are safer.

JS: Boom! Nicely done. Alright, on the subject of security, as you know, last week Homeland Security Director Thomas Ridge appeared ata press conference to tell us this.

TOM RIDGE: Credible reporting now indicates that Al Qaeda is moving forward with its plans to carry out a large scale atack in the United States, in an effort to disrupt our democratic process.

JS: [zombie-like] American people are safer. Yes, [unintelligible] they're planning an attack to disrupt our democratic process. It's scary, I know, but we're not going to let Al Qaeda tell us what to do. In fact, our government has decided if Al Qaeda tries to disrupt our democratic process, we're going to respond. By disrupting it first.

This week's Newsweek reports that DeForest Soaries, Chairman of the US Elections Assistance Commission recently sent a letter to Tom Ridge, urging him to make contingency plans in the event of a terrorist attack on, or right before an election day. In response, Ridge has asked the Justice Department to see what legal steps the federal government could take to postpone the election.

Just floatin' it out there. A little trial ballon. Spitballin' the idea. That the President of the United States could, under centain circumstances, declare himself Caesar.

But, before we overreact, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice was on Wolf Blitzer last night [quote below from this CNN transcript] and I'm sure she's got a perfectly good explanation as to why the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security are looking into suspending elections they have no jurisdiction over.

BLITZER: All right. Well, I just asked the question because there is this formal request for these contingency plans which has generated some concern.

RICE: Wolf, I don't know where that comes from. The Department of Homeland Security and our Justice Department are not certain where this has come from and exactly what people are talking about. The important point is we believe elections will go on as planned. We've done it before in this country. There is no reason to think anything else.

JS: You don't know where it comes from? Oh, let me fill you in. This guy here is DeForest Soaries [picture of Soaries], he heads the US Elections Assistance Commission. Your boss appointed him, here they are together [picture of Bush and Soaries shaking hands.] Ok. Then he wrote a letter to another guy [picture of Tom Ridge], I believe your boss appointed that guy too, who contacted the Justice Department [picture of John Ashcroft]. And that's where it came from. I can see why you're confused [picture of Rice], I meant this is a question of national security, and you're only, the uh, [pause] National Security Advisor.

Tuesday, July 13

Jobs & Wages

Daily Kos on why Kerry will be good for the economy, and the post includes a chart demonstrating that the worst job creation numbers under a Democrat were better than the best job creation numbers for a Republican.

Crooked Timber's John Quiggin reviews the studies indicating that higher minimum wages are good for workers, and don't negatively impact job creation as some claim.

Confined Spaces on the death of two construction workers in a confined space, and the very curious fact that a gun manufacturer is sponsoring OSHA's workplace violence conference.

News & Comment

How bad Abu Ghraib really was.

Talk Left highlights prison abuse in the U.S., and new allegations by the Red Cross that the U.S. may be engaging in secret detentions.

The GOP has a trial lawyer of their own on the ballot in Florida.

Alas, A Blog on marriage debate, examining the social implications of same-sex marriage and attitudes about the institution as a whole compared on an opinion survey of several countries.

Krugman has the goods on Tom Delay's campaign fundraising practices, and why they're probably in violation of Texas law. Excerpt:

...Now, e-mail and other Enron documents are revealing why Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, is one of the most powerful men in America.

A little background: at the Republican convention, most featured speakers will be social moderates like Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger. A moderate facade is necessary to win elections in a generally tolerant nation. But real power in the party rests with hard-line social conservatives like Mr. DeLay, who, in the debate over gun control after the Columbine shootings, insisted that juvenile violence is the result of day care, birth control and the teaching of evolution.

Here's the puzzle: if Mr. DeLay's brand of conservatism is so unpopular that it must be kept in the closet during the convention, how can people like him really run the party?

In Mr. DeLay's case, a large part of the answer is his control over corporate cash. As far back as 1996, one analyst described Mr. DeLay as the "chief enforcer of company contributions to Republicans." ...

Billmon has an interesting take on Republican-style class warfare, and discusses whether the elections could be postponed.

Monday, July 12

Hanging Together

Benjamin Franklin made the famous comment about hanging together or hanging separately, and he wasn't joking around about it. The American Revolution succeeded because this advice, or at least the sentiment, really sunk in among the colonists. Is the world so different today that his advice doesn't matter?

Sean Gonsalves writes in Alternet about how people strike it rich that would indicate otherwise:

...The report profiles prosperous people honest enough to acknowledge that their wealth, in large part, is owed to things beyond their individual control, which is obvious to any objective observer but studiously ignored by those with a cut-social-spending political agenda.

I like how Jim Sherblom, former chief financial officer for Genzyme Corp., puts it: "We are all standing on the shoulders of those who came before us. The opportunities to create wealth are all taking advantage of public goods – like roads, transportation, markets – and public investments. None of us can claim it was all personal initiative. A piece of it was built upon this infrastructure that we all have this inherent moral obligation to keep intact." ...

So, maybe we owe a lot to society as a whole, but surely the idea that success requires help is overblown? In an article responding to Bill Cosby's recent criticisms of black culture, Gonsalves offers advice to struggling students that could apply to many walks of life:

...Here's something that might actually help a black student, instead of paralyzing them with more guilt and condemnation. It wasn't until after I got my G.E.D. and started taking community college courses that I realized that the students who get "good" grades usually get help. Lots of it. They study in groups. They tutor one another.

That may seem obvious but I'll tell you why I never did that. I had internalized the neo-white supremacist idea (being peddled, perhaps unwittingly, by columnists like Sowell) that black people are intellectually inferior. To my young, naive, indoctrinated mind, I didn't equate getting good grades with "acting white." I equated asking for help with an admission of intellectual inferiority!

The real problem, as I see it, is that too often black youth try to mimic the visible values perceived as being "(white) mainstream." But if you don't know about the informal social networks and even government programs like the GI Bill that white brothers and sisters have disproportionately benefited from, and you combine that with the Horatio Alger myth of "rugged individualism," you have a recipe for black failure and white scapegoating. ...

Interestingly, popular culture's biggest cheerleaders of rugged individualism don't even practice it themselves. No one helps each other like Republicans, who run a political party so unified and determined to stick up for each other that it leads to some bizarre situations. Currently, John McCain is campaigning for Bush, but how many people remember what happened when he faced Bush in the 2000 Republican primary:

...It didn't take much research to turn up a seemingly innocuous fact about the McCains: John and his wife, Cindy, have an adopted daughter named Bridget. Cindy found Bridget at Mother Theresa's orphanage in Bangladesh, brought her to the United States for medical treatment, and the family ultimately adopted her. Bridget has dark skin.

Anonymous opponents used "push polling" to suggest that McCain's Bangladeshi born daughter was his own, illegitimate black child. In push polling, a voter gets a call, ostensibly from a polling company, asking which candidate the voter supports. In this case, if the "pollster" determined that the person was a McCain supporter, he made statements designed to create doubt about the senator.

Thus, the "pollsters" asked McCain supporters if they would be more or less likely to vote for McCain if they knew he had fathered an illegitimate child who was black. In the conservative, race-conscious South, that's not a minor charge. We had no idea who made the phone calls, who paid for them, or how many calls were made. Effective and anonymous: the perfect smear campaign. ...

Anonymous, but McCain only had one opponent at the time, and his middle initial was Dubya. Between a unified commitment to stay on message, their persistent efforts to get each other jobs, and a willingness to put their group project above even fear of incarceration, the Republican party has managed to achieve a staggering hold on our government. I don't like what they're doing with it one bit, but you really have to admire the persistence and strategy.

Maybe it's time for the Democratic party to start thinking in that direction. There must be a middle ground between having a herd of cats on one hand, and a group of talking point recyclers marching in lockstep on the other. The party used to be united around a grand vision which everybody (even people who disagreed) clearly understood, and which party members worked towards (even when they disagreed about how to get there.) Prometheus 6 finds an excellent article by Rick Perlstein on the long-term thinking that ties separate issues into a clear strategy and generates unity of purpose. As a bonus for Washington State residents, Perlstein explains it in terms of how Airbus managed to trounce Boeing by using Boeing's own discarded strategies.

The most sobering point of Perlstein's analysis is that when polled on ideology, a good majority of Americans agree with liberal and progressive issues, especially economic concerns. This is even the case in solidly 'red' states, with many issues cutting across partisan lines. It's like being a salesman who can't find a market for water in the desert. After a while, not even the salesman can blame the water.

Web Roundup

Over at Atrios, Athenae notes that Ron Reagan Jr. will speak at the convention, and below that talks about how very little the Republicans have accomplished considering that they've got the governance to themselves.

Daily Kos: Are you outrage fatigued yet? In case you aren't, there's a lot of buzz on the recent government inquiries about what would be necessary to postpone the election.

Ampersand talks about the difference between immoral and illegal. He also finds a link noting that a 73% of Republicans believe that reproductive decisions should be left up to women and their doctors even though 61% of respondents said that they wouldn't personally want an abortion.

Kevin Drum on serious conservatives.

Nathan Newman talks about an important blow against frivolous corporate lawsuits, the SEIU endorsement of gay marriage, how Kerry could make inroads with hunters, and the alarming percentage of newly created jobs that are only temporary employment.

Friday, July 9

Around The Blogs

Holden over at Eschaton shares the words of Rev Dr John Mann at a funeral service for a British soldier killed in Iraq, saying to Tony Blair and George Bush, shame on you.

Daily Kos with the picture of Bush stalking away from a press conference after getting huffy because he was being asked questions about Kenneth Lay.

Digby laments the terrible luck of the Bush administration that the original payroll records of Bush's National Guard service seem to have been destroyed. And even more inconveniently, only the records of a couple few month periods where he's thought to have been AWOL are missing. We all know how much they wanted to clear this up. But there's a ray of hope, after all. David Neiwert pointed last week to the ongoing work of Paul Lukasiak, who's thouroughly investigated the AWOL story, and believes that Bush was indeed a deserter.

Body and Soul with a dialogue on how the market-worshippers distort the discussion about healthcare, and also how only writers and foreigners seem to qualify as terrorists.

Seeing the Forest has more links and background on Ken Lay, Enron, & the Bush connection.

Just a Bump on the Beltway points out a new poll indicating that interest in the presidential race is at all time high.

Thursday, July 8

The Kerrys on Larry King Live

Both of the Kerrys sat down with Larry King for the full hour. Here's Senator Kerry's comment on the intelligence information used to justify the war in Iraq:

KING: Concerning weapons of mass destruction, do you think they believed it, or do you think you were mislead?

KERRY: Oh, I think many of us believed it based on the information that we were given, Larry, but it's ...

KING: You don't blaming the president for believing it.

KERRY: Here's -- I went to a briefing at the Pentagon where we were shown photographs and we were told, with specificity, what's in the photographs. And when you would try to find -- well what's the source for this? Do we have a -- well, we have you know -- this is from the following sources. We can't share all the sources, and so forth.

The fact is that with their sources, had I been president, would've raised remarkable doubts at that moment. Because when we've learned after the fact who the sources are, many of us knew those sources at that time, and we would have put doubt in them.

In addition to that, and much more importantly -- much more importantly -- they mislead America about certain weapons that were in fact available. Whether it was intentional or not, I can't tell you.

I'll just tell you that the responsibilities were not properly carried out. I think reports have come out publicly that show us that. But what's more important to me -- I mean people can make mistakes on intelligence -- is breaking one's own word as president in the manner in which you actually take your nation to war. When you say you're going to build an international coalition and do the diplomacy, do it. They didn't. When you say you're going to war as a last resort, and it really is the last thing we're going to do, mean it. They didn't.

They're very rushed to war, without the plans to win the peace, without adequate support, to minimize the risk to America, and to minimize the cost to America. The job of the commander in chief is to do both of those things and maximize the capacity of their success. ...

It's an interesting interview, and I liked what I heard from Theresa Heinz Kerry. King touched briefly on the fact that she'd been a Republican, and this is what she had to say about that:

HEINZ KERRY: I think what I've taken from my life always is that what matters about choices that one makes at this level -- and I don't mean at the presidential level, but in one's life -- questions about morality of issues, not you're right, I'm wrong, Republicans are bad, Democrats are good, or vice versa. It is what is in the best interests of people. And so, it's just the way I think. And so, I never judge things according to party lines.

KING: So you don't label yourself, Republican, Democrat, conservative, liberal.

HEINZ KERRY: No. [...] All my work is bipartisan, because what I'm -- as nonpartisan actually, because I look for solutions. I'm very practical. And so was my late husband.

And so, the transition doesn't come from anything that I have to change inside, it's more -- mind you, I did not change my party until two years ago -- a year-and-a-half ago.

KING: Wait a minute, you remained...

HEINZ KERRY: A Republican until a year-and-a-half ago, until Max [Cleland]* was defeated. And when Max [Cleland] was defeated the way he was, I was so very upset that I thought if Jack had been alive he would've been so offended by what they did to him, and I just left then. I was really upset by that.

He was a hero. With 3 limbs gone and they called him unpatriotic. It's just not right. ...

Other Kerry news: Picking Edwards has given the ticket a bump in the polls. The Kerry site now has a home for people of faith who support Kerry.

*Note: The transcriptionist used the name Max Green in error, when Mrs. Kerry was clearly heard referring to former Senator Max Cleland, D-GA.

Current Events

Very close Bush family friend Ken Lay indicted over Enron fraud. For everyone who got angry all over again when a Snohomish County utility released transcripts of Enron traders joking about ripping off consumers, it's good news indeed.

WA Senator Patty Murray spoke recently to the Washington Council on International Trade about the importance of workforce education and training, making the sensible point that it's cheaper to teach people basic skills when they're young.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi urges the Bush administration to restore Small Business Administration funding. For more information on House Democrats' plans for stimulating economic growth and improving the job picture, visit the In Focus: Jobs & Money section at their website, where they discuss outsourcing, training, health coverage, wages, and much more.

Schools in Seattle have promised to test extensively for lead, after parents' expressed anger over recently released 1992 findings that there were unacceptable levels of lead in many school drinking fountains.

WA Secretary of State Sam Reed takes steps to require paper audit trails for electronic voting by 2006.

Abortion moves up on the agenda for the 8th Congressional District race.

Washington and Oregon will sue the Department of Energy over nuclear contamination from Hanford.

Finally, just because it's interesting, the success of early humans was likely due to the advent of grandparents.

John Edwards

Atrios finds an example of how John Edwards practiced law, from the Washington Monthly:

...The defining case in Edwards' legal career wrapped up that same year. In 1993, a five-year-old girl named Valerie Lakey had been playing in a Wake County, N.C., wading pool when she became caught in an uncovered drain so forcefully that the suction pulled out most of her intestines. She survived but for the rest of her life will need to be hooked up to feeding tubes for 12 hours each night. Edwards filed suit on the Lakeys' behalf against Sta-Rite Industries, the Wisconsin corporation that manufactured the drain. Attorneys describe his handling of the case as a virtuoso example of a trial layer bringing a negligent corporation to heel. Sta-Rite offered the Lakeys $100,000 to settle the case. Edwards passed. Before trial, he discovered that 12 other children had suffered similar injuries from Sta-Rite drains. The company raised its offer to $1.25 million. Two weeks into the trial, they upped the figure to $8.5 million. Edwards declined the offer and asked for their insurance policy limit of $22.5 million. The day before the trial resumed from Christmas break, Sta-Rite countered with $17.5 million. Again, Edwards said no. On January 10, 1997, lawyers from across the state packed the courtroom to hear Edwards' closing argument, "the most impressive legal performance I have ever seen," recalls Dayton. Three days later, the jury found Sta-Rite guilty and liable for $25 million in economic damages (by state law, punitive damages could have tripled that amount). The company immediately settled for $25 million, the largest verdict in state history. For their part, Edwards and Kirby earned the Association of Trial Lawyers of America's national award for public service. ...

The article goes on to say that when he practiced law, jurors would often ask Edwards for his card after they'd heard him argue a case. Companies would consider settling when his name was brought up. Further, that he was in such high demand, he couldn't take all the case requests brought to him. Sidney Blumenthal writes about Edwards' advantages as a candidate, and brings up a quote from another of Edwards' trials:

...In one of his cases, involving a girl left brain-damaged by hospital neglect, Edwards told the jury: "She speaks to you. But now she speaks to you not through a fetal heart monitor strip; she speaks to you through me." The tradition for which Edwards now takes his stand is as open to demagogues as to statesmen, but in the mouth of a statesman it can undo a demagogue.

We can be proud, and relieved, that someone so persuasive and conscientious is on our side. But the words of Lila Lipscomb, whose response to losing her son in Iraq was featured prominently in Fahrenheit 9/11, are important to keep in mind:

...With this in mind, she intends to hold off deciding who to vote for (she knows who she isn't voting for) until she has sussed out John Edwards, the running mate announced this week by Democrat candidate John Kerry. "I really don't know anything about this man. I'm not going to listen to what the TV says; I'm not going to listen to what the radio says. I have to find a way for him to answer my questions, either by sitting down with him, or by being at one of his rallies. That's how serious this is to me. I'm not playing."

I think John Edwards will stand up well to scrutiny, but it's the scrutiny that's important. If more voters took the time to meet candidates for office, ask questions of their representatives, and become familiar with the issues, we'd end up with more people like Edwards in office. And when they got there, they'd get more reminders of what they were put there to do. It's a two-way street.

Good candidates can only win if people decide to get involved and pay attention. And they can only do good work in office if their constituents let them know they'll be supported in it.

Wednesday, July 7

8th Congressional Candidate Forum A Huge Success!

Last night the King County Democrats sponsored an 8th Congressional District candidates forum for the Democrats running for the September 14th Primary. All three candidates, Alex Alben, Heidi Behrens-Benedict and Dave Ross were in attendance. The room was packed with over 200 people to hear the candidates views on a variety of issues.

The evening started with 5 minute opening statements from each of the candidates. Following these statements the candidates answered pre-determined questions on healthcare, the economy, environment, choice and education. The responses were both spirited and thoughtful. The audience was then allowed to ask a series of questions that dealt with the war on Iraq, media conglomoration, and electability to name a few.

The forum was heralded as a success by many of those in attendance. The ability to hear the candidates in a more personal and drawn out session proved to help people get more than they do out of 30 second sound bites. I have to say that any of the three candidates would make a much better representative of the 8th District then we have had in a very long time.

The 8th Congressional District encompasses much of the east side of Lake Washington including the cities of Issaquah, Mercer Island, Bellevue, Sammamish, Maple Valley and Covington. The seat was held by Jennifer Dunn who will be retiring this year.Democrats have a great shot at obtaining this seat. I encopurage you to work for the candidate of your choice in the primary.

Remember no matter who wins the primary, we will all be supporting the candidate that will be our Democratic Representative in Congress from the 8th District.