Tuesday, August 31

An interview with Jeff Griffin (D-WA 5th LD)

Kayne: Good evening. This is Kayne McGladrey of Pleasing to Remember. This is our first of a three part series of interviews with the Democratic candidates in the Fifth District. Next week, we'll hopefully be getting the GOP candidates to weigh in. I'm also an irregular contributor to the King County Democrats blog if you're reading this there. With me tonight is Jeff Griffin, a candidate in the Fifth District for the Washington State House of Representatives. It's good to see you tonight, Jeff.

Jeff: It's great to be here. Thanks for the invite.

Kayne: It seems like just yesterday we were talking about politics as well.

Jeff: I think it really was just yesterday.

Kayne: It might be that way. It's been quite a busy campaign season thus far, hasn't it?

Jeff: It's been a lot of fun, there's a lot going on.

Kayne: I'm pretty familiar with your background, so this is largely for the benefit of folks who don't know you. I've went through your bio materials, just trying to pick out things that would be interesting for folks, I hope. You helped to set up Eastside Fire and Rescue, and you also were elected as the a fire commissioner. What I'd like to know, first question, is how those experiences prepared you for campaigning.

Jeff: Well, my first time I ran for Fire Commissioner, I ran against a 23 year incumbent and unseated him by doorbelling a whole lot of houses, so I learned a lot about doorbelling. I've been active in politics in other peoples campaigns for years, but the reason I ran for Fire Commissioner in the first place was because I saw a system that had a whole bunch of little fire departments that were feudal in nature - each had their own administration, their own public education, their own training divisions and they had hard borders they weren't allowed to respond across, so we weren't getting the closest fire vehicle and crew, so I thought that made no sense and ran for Fire Commissioner. In fact it was only a couple, short years after I was elected, we were able to create Eastside Fire and Rescue, put more firefighters on the street for less money, response times were down across the board, and in fact call volume is up because the population has changed so that's a pretty good combination, and I'm pretty proud of it.

Kayne: Eastside Fire and Rescue has "Rescue" in the title - do they do anything beyond fires?

Jeff: They do quite a bit of technical rescue. High angle rescue, trench rescue, and swift water rescue. They're also famous for their participation in wildfire fighting. Mobilizations... they have some of the biggest experts and some of the instructors who teach all over the State and are mobilized all over the nation for major wildfires.

Kayne: So actually they do some of the instruction at Eastside Fire for the firefighters who are over in Eastern Washington?

Jeff: Yeah, we're real fortunate in this area to have some real top-notch experts working in the field, particularly trench rescue, high angle rescue, and swift water rescue. They're also participants in the eastside hazardous materials program, so they're real well-trained.

Kayne: Ok. Right now, when you're not out doorbelling, you're a fire captain, right.

Jeff: Yep. I'm a fire captain for the Port of Seattle Fire Department, at SeaTac airport.

Kayne: This past couple years, we've seen President Bush speak quite a lot about homeland security, and we've seen Patty Murray speak about improving port security. I'd like you to name some specific improvements that you could see to improve port security while you're in office.

Jeff: Some things I'd like to see happen, as opposed to what I've seen happen, working at the airport. I think we've more than doubled the amount of money we're spending on airport security but I don't think we've even come close to doubling the amount of actual security. There's some things that need to happen at the airport and one of those is baggage screening. There has to be 100% baggage screening for every bag that goes onto an airplane. Right now, it's very rare for a bag to actually get screened and you can put anything in the belly of an airplane that you want, and that scares the heck out of me. We've been challenged with all the new threats like anthrax, SARS, and all these new threats since 9-11 that are terrorism related. We were told that "help was on the way," and that we'd be getting additional dollars for training, and specialized tools. Some of the testing equipment even to identify if a powder is anthrax... the tool itself costs about $20,000.00. Well, I'll tell you what. The people that have carried the burden of that expensive equipment is the local fire departments, and they've had to do that by laying people off, or reducing other programs, and yet we still have to respond to those emergencies, and I expect that there is a place in government - State government and Federal government - to help every fire department be able to respond to these new threats.

Continue reading "An interview with Jeff Griffin (D-WA 5th LD)"

Friday, August 27

Heidi Behrens-Benedict (D WA-8th CD)

“I would recommend running for Congress to anyone. It is a profound and wonderful thing,” says Heidi Behrens-Benedict.

The Bellevue-based interior designer enjoys connecting with voters, and believes that representatives should come from the ranks of their communities. Behrens-Benedict started one of three previous campaigns by estimating the smallest possible budget needed to get a message out. No other Democrat wanted to run against an incumbent with a leadership role on the House Ways and Means Committee.

Behrens-Benedict says that she’s come to understand the needs of the 8th Congressional District very well. She doesn’t hesitate to list an unemployment rate that’s third or fourth in the nation as the district’s top priority.


“Taxes,” Behrens-Benedict says, “are the price of civilization.” They provide funding for services people want, such as roads, hospitals, schools, libraries, and the protection of public lands. She says the current administration and key Republicans appear to be “starving the federal government as it relates to human services.” Even though government is bigger than ever, and overall spending has increased, she says funding for these services falls short of the need for them.

If interest in education were more than lip service, Behrens-Benedict says, it would be better funded. She brings up the example of teacher pay, saying that master’s graduates are faced with taking a starting salary as a teacher for around $30,000, or a job in industry at around $80,000. Students, she says, should have access to smaller classes, better Pell grants, and forgiveness of student loans for key areas.

Behrens-Benedict also doesn’t believe that protecting the environment comes at the expense of the economy. She says that national parks and areas with great natural beauty generate a lot of money from tourism, adding to the economic benefits of clean air and water. Even Republicans, she says, value having fish in their rivers.

War and Terrorism

Coming from a military family, Behrens-Benedict says she is “resolute in [her] support of veterans.” But she says that we aren’t taking care of soldiers when VA hospitals are closing and around 40% of working age National Guard troops don’t have health insurance.

Behrens-Benedict says that when it comes to Iraq, the U.S. needs an exit strategy, and a true international coalition. She says the current administration has been arrogant towards long-term allies and friends such as France and Germany, and points out that the U.S. has now had to go back and ask them for help.

In the short term, she believes it’s important to be vigilant in tracking down terrorist cells. However, she says that the PATRIOT act needs to be thrown out, and that there are ways to fight terrorism without creating secret police.

Additionally, Behrens-Benedict criticized what she considers the under funding of port security, fire departments, police, and first response agencies.
In the long run, Behrens-Benedict wants government and the public to start thinking about taking steps to achieve peace. Saying that terrorism is much bigger than any one person, she believes terror cells will keep springing up if fundamental policy changes aren’t made.

Behrens-Benedict sees a solution in a generous foreign policy similar to the U.S. Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Japan and Germany after the two countries were nearly leveled in WWII.

Family Values

“I can’t tell you,” Behrens-Benedict said, “how much I loathe …those little sound bite[s].” She says the term family values has been used to vilify half the country as though they had no values, or don’t love their children. What does she believe are Democratic values?

Behrens-Benedict says that families should be trusted to decide when to have children, and government should focus more on what happens to them after they’re born. It’s cheaper, she says, to make sure children get a good start than to build a prison.

She does understand why some people are opposed to abortion. In that case, Behrens-Benedict says the goal should be to see that abortion isn’t necessary. She believes birth control should be readily available, including the morning after pill.

Behrens-Benedict’s idea of family includes the right of gay couples to form civil unions. She says civil unions are the future, and that she opposes a Constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Remembering the Community

Behrens-Benedict says she’s looking forward to remembering the needs of the people she’s talked to once she’s in congress. She says that every time someone in congress goes to vote, they have to pass through a gauntlet of lobbyists that “are not working for us. They’re working for corporations and other special interests.”

It’s important, Behrens-Benedict says, that people are “represented as ably and well as Weyerhauser, Boeing, and Microsoft.” Everyone will prosper, she says, if leaders in business and government keep in mind Henry Ford’s belief that you can’t lay off your customers.

Heidi Behrens-Benedict is running as a Democrat for election in the 8th Congressional District of Washington state. To find out more, visit her website.

Thursday, August 26

Alex Alben (D WA-8th CD)

Alex Alben believes that he can “hit the ground running” in Congress. The former RealNetworks executive interned with the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees before graduating from Stanford Law School. He’s testified before Congress, and worked with policymakers on issues of consumer protection and copyright law.

Alben says that during elections, most of the discussion is about popular topics like healthcare, war, and Social Security. Then when you get to Congress, the actual job ends up being about issues like taxation, intellectual property law, and media policy. With a career spanning the software industry and more types of media than most members of Congress, as well as a long history of experience in government policy, Alben is confident that he can handle the everyday work.

Alben is concerned about the health of the economy, and describes a global economic picture of dislocation that is frightening and painful to people losing their jobs. He says it’s a time when people see jobs that used to be done in the U.S. moving overseas, and “don’t see where their future is.” He points to the adoption of English as the main language of the business world, and the availability of English speaking workers in other countries as a reason companies in places like India can directly interact and compete with U.S. firms. He says combining the reduced language barrier with new communication technologies has made the world much smaller, harder to compete in.

Alben says it’s important to have a stronger safety net, but also to have leaders who “understand what these trends are, and get ahead of the curve instead of just reacting.” He says that in every normal year, tens of millions of jobs are created and lost, that the workforce is very fluid. Further, he says that it misses the point to focus on the jobs lost. It’s also important in his opinion to look for the opportunities to create new ones, and he says that if the U.S. leads in education, it can create more good paying jobs than it loses.

“I understand that having an educated work force allows us to create great products,” says Alben. He says there should be more investment in education at every level. Not only in college, but in making sure that all primary school children have access to something as basic as breakfast. It’s very important, he says, that the U.S. keep its reasearch lead so it can build new businesses and industries to replace those that are lost.

Alben says the 8th Congressional District has a world class work force and local businesses, and that the area is positioned to become a leader in fields like life sciences and renewable energy. He says that he “would like to see a research triangle on the Eastside.” If they have one in North Carolina, he sees no reason why there shouldn’t be one here. He says his experience in technology and the law can help advance that goal.

Alben’s position on fighting terrorism at home is that “we still haven’t made the right investments in Homeland Security.” He cited the Port of Seattle as an example of where more security infrastructure is needed, saying that currently, only 4% of incoming cargo containers can be inspected.

When fighting terrorism abroad, Alben believes the U.S. can and should do more to reduce nuclear proliferation. It’s everyone’s nightmare scenario for a terrorist to get hold of nuclear weapons or material, and says it’s important to make sure that it never happens. He says the country needs to take advantage of every opportunity to control nuclear materials and knowledge, especially working to prevent proliferation from Russia and Pakistan.

Investing in human development is a third avenue that Alben believes could be added to current steps to make the country safer. He says, “We’re really fooling ourselves if we think we’re more secure when 2 billion people in the world live on less than $2 a day,” and have little access to even primary education. Not only does he believe it’s the right thing to do, he says that the increasing perception around the world that the U.S. doesn’t care will work against American security over time. He says that bringing better economic conditions, education, and health care to other countries will not only create stable trading partners but be an investment in peace.

It takes money to invest in education and healthcare, a social safety net for displaced workers, better security at home, technology research, and good will abroad. Alben says Congress and the rest of the government should re-examine some subsidies, encourage other nations to participate in promoting human development around the world, and adopt better economic policies. He says that better fiscal policy would do something about a federal debt that costs the country $180 billion dollars a year in interest payments, and that promoting new industries will create a larger revenue base.

“We have a federal budget of $2.4 trillion, so I would hope in that budget we can find money for healthcare,” for the 40 million people Alben says have no access to coverage. He says these goals can be achieved by reallocating existing government revenue.

When it comes to social issues, Alben believes that the current leadership in Congress is out of step with the district and its values. He says that a majority in the district support protection of women’s rights and health choices. He would like to see Congress stay on the right side of the pro-choice debate.

Alben says gay marriage is something that needs to be left to individual states to work out, and that the Constitution has survived 200 years without a specific definition of marriage. Under the federal system, he says people will be able to decide for themselves when they see whether or not chaos results from Massachussets’ new law recognizing the commitment of gay couples. He also believes these are the wrong issues for Congress to spend so mich time on, saying that it would be more appropriate for the legislature to focus on jobs, education, and healthcare.

In a recent speech before the 48th Legislative District Democrats’ caucus, Alben questioned the seriousness with which the current leadership in Washington takes a variety of threats to the country. He said that while the U.S. has a color code for terrorism warning levels, maybe the country needs alerts for the environment, education, healthcare, and the increasing numbers of war dead.

Alben says that it’s important to work towards a good outcome in Iraq, but that “we deceived ourselves about how hard this was going to be.”

For more information, visit his website.

News & Comment

RozK has a long post, spurred by running into someone she hadn't seen for years, about irreconcilable political differences.

Crooked Timber with a post on the US' trade deficit.

Jake at 8 Bit Joystick talks about participating in a voter registration drive.

Atrios with two posts on the lies of John O'Neill, one of the chief proponents of the Swift Boat liars, and a partial transcript of the Daily Show Monday where Stewart and Corddry call the media out for falling asleep at the switch.

House Democrats' forum on rural and agricultural issues.

Ampersand talks about the growing Palestinian non-violence movement, which sounds like a promising development.

Guardian: Iraqi police detain journalists in Najaf. The Grand Ayatollah Sistani showed up to try and negotiate a cease fire. Sidney Blumenthal says Iraq has never been more dangerous to the US. Margaret Thatcher's son was planning to move to Texas when he was arrested in South Africa on charges of plotting to overthrow the government of Equatorial Guinea.

Wednesday, August 25

Diane Tebelius (R WA-8th CD)

Diane Tebelius wants to continue retiring Republican Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn’s legacy, saying that Dunn gave the 8th Congressional District great leadership. The current Washington State Republican Party’s National Committeewoman says the most important undiscussed issue in the race is that a Congressional seat is not a local or state office, but a federal job. She believes that her experience as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and as a U.S. Trustee watching for abuse in bankruptcy courts gives her a good background for working in Congress.

Tebelius also points out that she’s the only former teacher running for the seat. The job of teacher is, she says, the most difficult job. She says education is one of the most important issues in her platform, and that succeeding in today’s world requires a good education. But she says that improving education isn’t about money, it’s mostly about good teachers and parental involvement. Tebelius maintains that the No Child Left Behind Act is not only well funded, but has plenty of money, saying that it’s easy to throw the criticism that it’s an unfunded federal mandate.

Tebelius believes that the economy, far from being a problem, is improving. She says statistics show clearly that new jobs are being created every month. In focusing on small businesses as a way to drive the economy, she says it’s important to make sure they can operate. She says that women run many small businesses, and they provide a tremendous opportunity to ensure economic security. She sees excessive regulation of small business as an obstacle, as well as high taxes which she says would go back into further building small enterprises. In her two years as a U.S. Trustee, a position she retired from this year, it was her job to review the financial documents of numerous distressed businesses. She says the experience gives her an understanding of the problems facing today’s business owners.

Tebelius thinks the country needs to ensure that businesses have a reliable, viable energy supply, and that getting there will be complicated. She believes that it’s a multifaceted issue needing study in order to balance the Bonneville Power Administration, dams, salmon needs, and the gas supply. She sees a need for additional oil refineries in the U.S., saying that there aren’t enough to supply the fuel we need. She says that everybody recognizes that alternative energy is important, but also maintains that there is evidence on both sides of the global warming debate. She adds that President Bush has already been working on the issue of alternative energy.

Tebelius suggests that frivolous litigation is another barrier to small business success, saying that businesses shouldn’t be threatened with lawsuits. She says it’s important to do something about class action lawsuits, such as the legislation that recently passed the House of Representatives allowing federal courts to hear class action suits with over 100 plaintiffs from different states and involving sums greater than $5 million.

She sees similar needs in the healthcare field, suggesting that punitive damages in malpractice cases should be capped, and that mediation should be used to reduce the number of lawsuits that make it to court. She does not believe that medical damages such as hospital charges or lifetime care costs should be capped.

When it comes to making healthcare more available, Tebelius believes that small business is the place to start because they’re the source of most uninsured. She suggests allowing them to bundle insurance purchases together to take advantage of bulk buying, and avoiding the high costs of insuring only a handful of people, as many small business owners are now forced to do. She says that people should be allowed to put money away in health savings accounts for catastrophic end-of-life care, which she describes as the largest medical expense that most people will face.

On social issues, Tebelius doesn’t support a Constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage, believing that it’s an inappropriate tool. She believes that the Defense of Marriage laws now in effect are sufficient to define marriage, and that beyond that, the states should decide for themselves. If those laws were successfully challenged under the Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit clause, which would require all states to recognize gay marriages sanctioned in any other state, she says she would have to evaluate what steps to take at that point.

Tebelius would like to reduce the need for abortion by focusing on lowering the teen pregnancy rate, and allowing easy adoption. She also supports the over the counter availability of the morning-after pill, a stand at odds with the FDA who recently decided not to approve it for over the counter sales.

In her view, abortion restrictions should have exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. She supports the 2003 legislation that bans what the bill calls partial birth abortion, and what Tebelius calls late-term abortion. The bill is being challenged in federal court because it does not provide an exception for the health of the mother, and because the medical professionals bringing the suit believe the non-medical term partial birth abortion has been poorly defined. They say the definition as written would outlaw an abortion procedure used in the second trimester of pregnancy, as well.

Tebelius wants to let the courts decide the matter, and says that some experts disagree that the wording of the bill would prohibit any specific procedure. She says “absolutely not” when it comes to health exceptions for abortion in the third term of pregnancy. “I believe in the sanctity of life,” she said.

Tebelius also supports the death penalty as it’s currently implemented, and is confident in the way capital punishment is used. She does not believe that a recent spate of overturned death row convictions represents a systemic problem.

In terms of protecting our borders from terrorism, Tebelius praised the efforts of the Bush administration. She said that Congress and the administration had taken great steps to transfer 180,000 employees in 22 federal agencies under the umbrella of the new Homeland Security Department, a proposal that originated with Senate Democrats.

Looking abroad, Tebelius said the country needed to be focused on Iraq and Afghanistan. She said the country can’t allow troops to be put in harm’s way, and that it’s necessary to find Osama Bin Laden. She believes that the Bush administration is working both diplomatically and appropriately to resolve the hostile situation existing with the North Koreans.

“There are enough people who think they know better than the administration,” said Tebelius. She suggested that it was inappropriate to second-guess the president when it came to decisions like breaking off negotiations with North Korea when he took office in 2001.

Find out more at her website.

Sign Wars

Ross Hunter is running for re-election to the state legislature in the 48th District. In a recent newsletter, he urged supporters to stay out of the increasingly nasty sign war happening on the Eastside. Hunter is running unopposed in his primary, but circumstantial evidence would indicate that median strips throughout the 8th Congressional District have been the site of a proxy war between candidates in contested primaries. He gives good advice when he says:

Please, please, please do not get into a sign war with my opponents. Everyone has the right to put signs up (as long as they take them down afterwards.) The signs cost about $2.50 each, and take hours of volunteer time to assemble and distribute. Taking down my opponent's signs is illegal and undemocratic regardless of how you feel. Please don't do it.

Tuesday, August 24

News & Comment

Christopher Albritton reports from the ground in Najaf on a visit to the Imam Ali mosque. He shares his encounters and discussions with locals, and pictures from inside.

Corrente informs us that John Kerry will appear on The Daily Show tonight, and puts up two posts detailing what Bush was up to while John Kerry was volunteering to get shot at.

The American Prospect on the cowardice of the media in covering Swift Boat smears.

Wampum: A Bush policy that needs to be undone immediately. A serviceman who made it back from Iraq only to take his own life. Also, a pointer to an article by Kathryn Cramer on military privatization.

Left Coaster: Five more soldiers dead over the weekend. Is the standoff at the Imam Ali mosque, the most revered site in Shia Islam, turning into an Iraqi Alamo? Have the Swifties really done any damage? More about what happened thirty years ago. The Republican squad of whack-a-mole recycled hatchet men.

Al-Muhajabah highlights nonviolent activists in Syria, many of whom have now been imprisoned for years because of peaceful protest actions.

Talk Left: An Oregon prosecutor is being asked to resign because it's now been shown that he lied in a signed affidavit used by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. America has never been so unpopular in the Arab world as it is now after four years of Bush. Two intelligence officers to be charged in connection with abusing prisoners in Abu Ghraib.

Prometheus 6 highlights the trial in Afghanistan of three Americans accused of running a vigilante private jail, and a discrimination suit against the RNC.

World O' Crap finds a desperate Neil Boortz column suggesting that Democrats should vote for Bush to avoid two terms of Kerry followed by candidate Edwards. Neil, you can throw us in that briar patch any day.

DailyKos: Bush's medals, what there are of them. Latest Florida polls. It looks like the investigation into the leak of the name of an active CIA agent is narrowing in on Lewis 'Scooter' Libby. Finally, few choice quotes from Adlai Stevenson matched up with current political figures they resemble. My favorite - "An Independent is someone who wants to take the politics out of politics."

SEIU Group Health Strike

Why they're striking.

Congressman McDermott joined strikers yesterday.

Local news coverage of the strike, interviews and stories.

Monday, August 23

Bush: Campaign Finance Flip-Flop

From the uniter who wanted us to be a humble nation, we now hear the ridiculous notion that Bush is disappointed that campaign finance reform didn't go far enough. This could be construed as the high humor mark of the campaign, so let's review. Bush today, at a press conference [emphasis mine]:

August 23, 2004

THE PRESIDENT: I'm denouncing all the stuff being on TV of the 527s. That's what I've said. I said this kind of unregulated soft money is wrong for the process. And I asked Senator Kerry to join me in getting rid of all that kind of soft money, not only on TV, but used for other purposes, as well. I, frankly, thought we'd gotten rid of that when I signed the McCain-Feingold bill. I thought we were going to, once and for all, get rid of a system where people could just pour tons of money in and not be held to account for the advertising. And so I'm disappointed with all those kinds of ads. ...

THE PRESIDENT: That means that ad, every other ad.

Q Would you encourage Republicans not to give to --

THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely. I don't think we ought to have 527s. I can't be more plain about it. And I wish -- I hope my opponent joins me in saying, condemning these activities of the 527s. It's the -- I think they're bad for the system. That's why I signed the bill, McCain-Feingold. I've been disappointed that for the first six months of this year, 527s were just pouring tons of money, billionaires writing checks. And I spoke out against them early. I tried to get others to speak out against them, as well. And I just don't -- I think they're bad for the system. ...

Well, that's pretty clear. Bush signed McCain-Feingold specifically to get rid of people's ability to start groups like 527s. Which would be a great defense. If it were true. Here's Bush on the day he signed McCain-Feingold into law. First, his statements in support of the bill as they relate to contributions not made directly to candidates and parties, followed by his concerns about the legislation's shortcomings [emphasis mine]:

March 27, 2002

[FOR]...The bill reforms our system of financing campaigns in several important ways. First, it will prevent unions and corporations from making unregulated, "soft" money contri-butions -- a legislative step for which I repeatedly have called.

Often, these groups take political action without the consent of their members or shareholders, so that the influence of these groups on elections does not necessarily comport with the actual views of the individuals who comprise these organizations. This prohibition will help to right that imbalance.

...Third, this legislation creates new disclosure requirements and compels speedier compliance with existing ones, which will promote the free and swift flow of information to the public regarding the activities of groups and individuals in the political process.

[AGAINST]...However, the bill does have flaws. Certain provisions present serious constitutional concerns. In particular, H.R. 2356 goes farther than I originally proposed by preventing all individuals, not just unions and corporations, from making donations to political parties in connection with Federal elections.

I believe individual freedom to participate in elections should be expanded, not diminished; and when individual freedoms are restricted, questions arise under the First Amendment.

I also have reservations about the constitutionality of the broad ban on issue advertising, which restrains the speech of a wide variety of groups on issues of public import in the months closest to an election. I expect that the courts will resolve these legitimate legal questions as appropriate under the law.

As a policy matter, I would have preferred a bill that included a provision to protect union members and shareholders from involuntary political activities undertaken by their leadership. ...

Bush's statements do not call for stopping independent groups making issue ads, in fact that would be against the tone of his whole argument. His only expressed positions regarding contributions to groups operating independent of campaigns was that they should a) not support political actions that did not reflect the views of their members, and b) disclose their contributions with all possible speed. He unambiguously questions whether it's in keeping with the First Amendment to restrict groups and individuals from running issue ads near election time.

Not one single word supports the idea that he opposed 527s in principle at the time, and it would be very hard to argue that today's 527s don't reflect the views of their members and contributors. But this is an even larger step removed from candidate Bush's stand on campaign finance reform, as noted and quoted by none other than Rich Lowry in the very conservative National Review. This is candidate Bush talking with George Will during an appearance on ABC News' This Week [emphasis mine]:

January 23, 2000

GEORGE F. WILL: I want to see if you agree with those who say it would be bad for the First Amendment? I know you're not a lawyer, you say that with some pride, but do you think a president, and we've got a lot of non-lawyer presidents, has a duty to make an independent judgment of what is and is not constitutional, and veto bills that, in his judgment, he thinks are unconstitutional?

GOV. BUSH: I do.

WILL: In which case, would you veto the McCain-Feingold bill, or the Shays-Meehan bill?

BUSH: That's an interesting question. I — I — yes I would. The reason why is two — for one, I think it does respe — res — restrict free speech for individuals. As I understand how the bill was written, I — I - I think there's been two versions of it, but as I understand the first version restricted individuals and/or groups from being able to express their opinion. . . .

Usually, when the right debates itself in news articles as though they provided some kind of balance, they fail utterly. In this case, it's hard to think of a position on this issue that Bush hasn't taken in the last four years.

Also, I found this campaign finance classroom module on PBS. It's an educational supplement on the funding of political campaigns that looks interesting, and which I hope I'll have time to review in more detail.

Dave Reichert (R WA-8th CD)

When asked why he’s running for congress, King County Sheriff Dave Reichert will say he’s interested in having a “broader impact beyond public safety.” This is his 33rd year in the Sheriff’s office, and to him, “it seems like a natural progression.” He says he likes to turn the question back around, asking audiences why they’d give up their time to hear him speak.

Reichert says his three decades in the Sheriff’s office have shown a history of leadership, and given him a special insight into the needs of the community. He’s seen the problems of every type of neighborhood in the county up close, from the wealthiest to the poorest.

Reichert’s ongoing work coordinating local and federal law enforcement priorities will give him an advantage when it comes to homeland security policy, he says. He also believes that he’ll be able to make policy decisions without the “baggage” of wealthy special interests.


Reichert says education is important for promoting employment and keeping people out of crime and poverty. He said it’s important to address these problems “at the front end, rather than the back end,” by decreasing the need for rehabilitation in the first place.

Education funding, says Reichert, should mostly be the concern of the state governments, and he’s a supporter of charter schools. He opposes unfunded federal mandates, having seen the problems they create for local governments.


To help the economy, Sheriff Reichert believes in decreasing regulations on business and increasing efficiency in government.

He proposed putting services like public transportation and law enforcement into regional administration. He believes that it would be a good way to save on administration costs, eliminating redundancies. The main obstacle to such a plan, as he said, would be turf war controversies in local government.

He stated that some cities might be able to save between 30-50% on law enforcement costs by centralizing services. The King County Sheriff’s department, for example, saves money by allowing reports to be collected by phone when there’s no evidence to collect. Such a service could be shared over a larger region.

Church and State

Dave Reichert’s positions on abortion and gay rights would be at home in the most conservative religious circles. But they aren’t as rigidly ideological as that suggests.

He says his opposition to abortion stems from retrieving around 200 dead bodies in his career. When it comes to pregnancy prevention, he favors abstinence only education. Reichert believes he has an answer for unwanted children. His family adopted, and his daughter continued the tradition.

He doesn’t believe in formal recognition of any kind for gay relationships. To correct some of the legal hurdles this can create for gay couples, he favors changing the law so that “everyone has the same rights.”

When Sheriff Reichert visits his grandchildren’s preschool, he sees a community with a more diverse and multicultural future. He says that while he lives his own Christian beliefs, everyone has a right to free choice in religion, and that it’s very important to keep government and religion separate.

Freedom of Expression

When the World Trade Organization came to town in , Reichert was worried about the possibility of trouble. Sheriff’s department intelligence units had infiltrated “anarchist training grounds” where some groups were preparing for the planned mass demonstrations. He had units standing by to help, even though city leaders said that they would be unnecessary.

As it turned out, the ensuing riots started by a few of the participants badly stretched the county’s police forces. While riding with County Executive Ron Sims during the riots, he ended up being the only officer available to respond to an opportunistic break-in at a Radio Shack, chasing the would-be robbers away on foot.

It isn’t surprising to hear that a long-time sheriff strongly favors law and order. He publicly disagreed with Mayor Nickels’ criticism of police behavior during the protests, but at the same time, he took a harsh stand against an officer that he felt crossed the line.

A volunteer medic with one of the protest groups was filmed being kicked by a policeman from behind while kneeling on the ground. Reichert fired the offender immediately. The officer was reinstated by court order, but Reichert said that firing him was the right thing to do. He says that while it’s important to make sure that one person’s freedom of expression doesn’t interfere with the freedoms of others, you don’t end up with a police state.

When it comes to the PATRIOT act, he supports it, for now. The bill included communication reforms between federal law enforcement agencies, but other provisions are more controversial. Parts of the law that granted federal law enforcement officials the authority to inspect library and financial records without notice, or a court order, have some people worried.

Sheriff Reichert says that while we’re at war, he supports whatever measures can help keep us safer. He also believes that these types of laws should be allowed to expire.

The Outside Perspective

Karen Marchioro, a Democrat, ran Reichert’s campaign for King County Sheriff. She said that he was the clear choice in the race for Sheriff, where he ran as an independent, but also that it could be hard for him to manage running for congress while holding that job.

Ms. Marchioro admired what she called a responsible position on gun control. She said that as a Republican, his law enforcement background helps him in a party that traditionally takes an undiluted pro-gun position. “He knows,” she said, “what it’s like to respond to a domestic violence call when there’s a gun involved.”

Sheriff Dave Reichert is running as a Republican for election in Washington State's 8th Congressional District. To find out more, visit his campaign website.

Sunday, August 22

Keep Washington Blue

You'll notice a new sidebar section entitled Contribute. There's a link to a page where you can donate to any or all of the state Congressional and Senate races, as well as links to the state legislature committees, the county and state parties, and the national campaign committees.

It's crunch time. There are less than 3 months to go before the election. Send $5, send $20, send whatever you can. It counts. Even when you can't give much, you send a message of support to the party or candidate.

Most importantly, though, you take another step towards taking politics back. To paraphrase Howard Dean, real campaign finance reform comes in the shape of a lot of small donations. It means that the public is taking its government in its own hands, demanding to be heard.

If you can't give cash, look into volunteering with a local campaign. Walk precincts for a congressional or state legislature race, phone bank for the Murray campaign, stuff envelopes, or put up signs. Don't neglect volunteering with the downticket races, because a vote for a Democrat in a local office has a decent chance of turning into a vote for John Kerry. Plus, to have good national candidates tomorrow we have to support local officeholders today.

If you can't do that, talk to that friend of yours who never thought it was worth it to vote and tell them why it matters. You don't need to push, just get them hooked on paying attention to the funky soap opera that is US politics. It's the best show out there, even if the cast is a bit large.

If none of that appeals, find your own way to contribute, and remember to vote come election time.

Update: In the comments, Mark reminds me that another great way to get involved is to become a precinct committee officer (PCO) for your precinct. Even if your precinct already has one, you might look into being an acting PCO for a neighboring precinct that's going without.

Friday, August 20

Conrad Lee (R WA-8th CD)

Conrad Lee believes politicians should “remember that they’re fallible.” The Bellevue City Councilmember emigrated with his mother from China when he was 10 years old to avoid the communist government takeover. He’s worked as an engineer at Boeing, as a stockbroker, and as an employee of the City of Seattle working on waste management policy. Lee has been a member of the Bellevue City Council for 10 years, and only recently resigned from a Bush administration appointment as Regional Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration in order to run for Congress. “I’m a workhorse, not a showhorse,” said the candidate.

Lee is pleased with the progress Bellevue has made over the years he’s been on the City Council. The city has a AA bond rating, the second best credit rating available, and the lowest property taxes in Washington State. He has voted against every property tax increase, saying that the city doesn’t need them, and provides good services with the revenue they have. But he said that some tax is necessary to serve the public and build up infrastructure. He compares reasonable levels of taxation to the practice of tithing in Christianity, where everyone chips in to help, and that it should be considered a cost of doing business.

According to Lee, Bellevue gets most of its revenue from sales taxes, due in large part to the retail center that’s grown up downtown around the Bellevue Square Mall. He said that the city is fortunate to have such a good business climate, but that it wasn’t always this way. Lee described the relationship between the business community and Bellevue neighborhoods as hostile as recently as 12 years ago, saying that he worked with other council members to turn things around.

Lee believes that government should take in only as much money as necessary based on needs determined ahead of time. He criticized the tendency of government to add new programs without considering whether old, unneeded programs could be gotten rid of to save money. When asked about specific tax changes, Lee said that any tax policy needs to respond to economic circumstances, suggesting that they be evaluated on their results. He said that in bad economic times, such as now, taxes need to be kept low. Lee said concern should focus on maintaining economic and technological superiority, as well as boosting the availability of jobs.

“Education is a tool for us to become prosperous, because it makes us more competitive,” said Lee. While he said that most school funding comes from state and local governments, the federal government should take its share of education funding seriously, and sees a role in Congress as an education advocate. He said that the United States already attracts top talent from around the world, issuing more PhD’s than any other country, and that it’s important to maintain that lead. “You’ve got to have a very good K-12 education” as a foundation for that, he said.

Though the federal government doesn’t provide the bulk of education funding, they can pass regulations that require states to spend money without attaching the money to pay for them. Lee said that as a local official, he always stood up against onerous unfunded mandates. As a City Council member, he said he always made sure that any measure was fully funded before passing because it’s important to know the consequences of any legislation. He said he would vote against legislation in Congress that didn’t include the money to pay for its provisions. He said that education is a local issue where the federal government should only intervene if they need to.

However, Lee does say that he favors the federal government passing a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. “I believe in traditional marriage because of my values. I’m a Christian,” he said. Lee said that the subject is an issue that he would rather the government wasn’t involved in, but that people have forced it. He said that he doesn’t see any particular legal benefits he and his wife get by being married.

About abortion, Lee said it isn’t an option to him, though he doesn’t believe government should either make a law forbidding it or fund it with federal money. He said that he supports exception for rape, incest, and the health or life of the mother. Regarding sex education, he said that any education should be complete, laying out all the choices and consequences. Though he favors encouraging abstinence, he said that condom use and birth control should be discussed as well, because teaching people partial information distorts knowledge.

Lee said that he’s very interested in international politics, and that it’s important to be sensitive to world events. Even as a superpower, he said that the U.S. is linked to the global economy for both resources and markets, and needs to have good relationships with other countries. While he said it’s important to maintain policy independence, the U.S. shouldn’t act unilaterally, and should continuously engage with other countries when it comes to security issues.

Lee said that when it comes to allocating money to support security efforts at home, local governments should have significant say in how to spend it. He said that counties usually have their own established ways of coordinating, and may already own a lot of resources that local officials will know best how to use.

Regarding the PATRIOT Act surveillance provisions, Lee said that the unusual situation that exists after 9-11 requires some sacrifices, which he said amount to inconveniences. In his view, as long as the press and public are actively questioning the uses of government power, there's no need to worry. He also said that as a member of Congress, he’d ask tough questions about how law enforcement powers were implemented.

Lee is glad to be in a country where people have the opportunity to be free and to experiment. He said that “democracy can only succeed when everybody is involved and participating,” saying that because it isn’t a natural state, it has to be fought for. He considers democratic government and political freedom to be a form of protection for economic and religious freedom. He said that not enough people vote, and it’s important to encourage them to do so. “People need to feel that their vote can make a difference,” he said.

Find out more by emailing clee@ci.bellevue.wa.us. (No website yet)

Thursday, August 19

News & Comment

Juan Cole reviews the outing of an Al Qaeda mole in some detail.

MaxSpeak watched the 1971 Kerry vs. O'Neill debate and shares his impressions, as well as a link to where you can find it on the net. Next, he takes one, two, three swipes at unspinning the official line on the tax cuts.

Atrios points out a Gadflyer account of an evening in the 'No Spin Zone' with angry conservative Brent Bozell, and a Kerry-Edwards press release asking which campaign is in touch with 21st century threats?

Warblogging discusses FBI surveillance of protestors.

Daily Howler takes down the media frenzy over the sensitivity debate.

DailyKos answers the question of just how negative the Bush campaign really is.

Suburban Guerrilla shares the comments of a journalist on the Valerie Plame leak.

Electrolite finds a letter indicating that Kerry may have won the anarchist vote, and points to a Guardian article surveying the British public's attitudes about family leave policies.

If you love to despise Ann Coulter, World O'Crap explores her latest wingnuttery.

BOPnews: It's apparently being reported in the Arabic language press that Pakistani authorities are close to capturing Osama bin Laden. The income gap is steadily rising, and it isn't helped by the fact that the few new jobs being created tend to pay less than the jobs they're replacing. Another reason oil prices are so high - demand is rising fast as economies like China's rev up.

Josh Marshall talks about the implications of the Swift Boat attack ads.

Luke Esser (R WA-8th CD)

State Senator Luke Esser has served in the Washington State Legislature for six years, and enjoys representing the 48th Legislative District in Olympia. The Bellevue native feels that his experience as a legislator will be helpful in his run for Congress, and in dealing with taking steps to improve the economy for the region. He cites his nomination as Majority Floor Leader after only 11 months in the State Senate, the seven bills he worked to get enacted into law last year, and his willingness to work across the aisle.

Esser said that jobs and the economy are the top focus in this election, at a time when he said that so many are out of work or underemployed. Esser worked as part of the team that encouraged Boeing to assemble the 7E7 here in Washington State, participating in the effort to craft a package of legislation that would make the state appear more competitive. He said the project will create new jobs, and stabilize existing ones, serving as a powerful symbol of the state’s manufacturing jobs. He said he’s concerned by the fact that Washington State seems to be fighting two other states for the worst unemployment rate in the country.

Regarding ethical investigations into Boeing’s dealings on a military contract, Esser said it was an instance of one individual misbehaving. Esser said it’s appropriate to have rules regarding conflicts of interest, and a lot of scrutiny in public dealings where lobbyists are involved. Yet he also said that it’s inappropriate to question policies based on the suspected motives or industry ties of the person proposing the policy. He believes lobbyists for Washington State labor unions have made the state uncompetitive, and wonders if state employees should be the ones performing services like landscaping and food service at universities. He wants to open more state jobs to competitive bidding, and would like to expand the use of performance audits for state employees.

Esser said that it’s more important to look at getting more for the money the state does spend, especially in education. Though educators at local colleges have raised concerns about the way the number of students is calculated, he said that per student funding hasn’t changed much over the last few years when adjusted for inflation. He wants to see a more performance oriented way of looking at education based on the outputs of test scores and college acceptance rates, saying that money spent on education doesn’t always produce as much value as expected.

A specific funding problem for education that he said he’s concerned about is the way the primary education system pays its employees. He said that because a statewide payscale and per student funding standard is used, the school system ends up underpaying for teachers and students in urban areas, and overpaying in rural areas. It’s because of this that Esser said schools in rural areas of Washington state do better than those in other parts of the country. He said that private industry and the military deal with the issue by using cost allowances adjusted for the local cost of living. He said that only Hawaii, with a single school district for the whole state, has a more centralized education system than Washington State.

Esser said that he’d like to see the nation’s deficit drop, saying that the “key is to not let spending get out of control.” He said that military spending is at appropriate levels, but that domestic spending is exploding. He said that the economy is bouncing back, and the tax cuts are working, but it’s important to keep spending down. As an example, he said that the state budget grew more slowly last year than it ever has, but that he thinks they did a good job of funding necessary agencies with what they had.

Esser said it’s important to maintain vigilance here at home, and said that the country’s commitment to security shouldn’t be measured only in dollars. Though he said that federal funding for law enforcement and port security has improved. He said it would be a good idea to take advantage of technology like cargo containers that can be electronically sealed at their point of origin, as well as looking for better technology to use for border security.

On recent allegations of torture and prisoner abuse in Iraq, Esser said, “I haven’t heard anybody defend what went on. I think it’s important to us as a country and our credibility in the world to make certain that those responsible are held accountable.” But he said it’s important not to change our direction in Iraq, and to continue to track down terrorists wherever they are. He said our troops will probably be there for a while, and showing signs of weakness would just embolden terrorists in the area and here in the U.S.

Talking about his legislative record, Esser believes he probably does better than the average Republican in the eyes of the environmental community, and that he’s somewhat independent of his party on the issue. He said that he recognized the need to respect the will of the voters on the issue of a voter initiative to restrict bear and cougar hunting, even though he disagreed with the bill. He’s concerned that hatchery salmon might not be counted when fish stocks are measured to determine if stocks are endangered, and that they should be included if there are no meaningful differences.

Esser expressed interest in technology and intellectual property issues. He gave the example of a bill he sponsored making it a crime to take a hand held video camera into a movie theatre and make a recording, saying that there were huge problems with intellectual property involved. He said it’s “hard to believe that wasn’t specifically a crime in the state of Washington beforehand.”

Another issue that came before the state legislature during this last session was a bill that would have extended the state’s anti-discrimination laws to gay citizens. Esser said the bill was not good policy, citing concerns brought up by the Catholic Church that it would have put them in a position of having to hire people they disagreed with into their parochial school system. He said that his background as a Catholic is as much a part of what he brings to the legislature as his law degree. Esser said he would vote for any of the proposed federal Constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, but would prefer a version that simply prevents states from having to recognize gay marriages performed in other states.

Regarding abortion, which is mostly a federal issue, Esser supports the usual exceptions including permitting the procedure in case of significant health risk to the mother. He said we approved of the partial-birth abortion ban passed recently by Congress, and said he knows of experts who don’t think it’s the case that its language would also restrict procedures used earlier in pregnancy than the last trimester. The law does not include a health exception.

While Esser feels there may be a lot of issues that the public should consider more often, he said, “People are busy. And that’s one thing I think we all need to keep in mind if we lament the fact that pople don’t spend enough time thinking about particular political issues.”

Find out more at his website.

Back Again

Sorry for the hiatus, it was unavoidable. Starting today, we'll be counting down through the seven candidates for the 8th Congressional District. First the Republicans, then the Democrats, each group in alphabetical order.

I conducted the interviews this spring, and they've previously appeared on my other blog and in my school paper. Now they're appearing here for the reading enjoyment of visitors to the King County Democrats blog. So enjoy.

Tuesday, August 10

Bush on Antidepressants

Via Skimble, Capitol Hill Blue brings us the news:

...Tubb prescribed the anti-depressants after a clearly-upset Bush stormed off stage on July 8, refusing to answer reporters' questions about his relationship with indicted Enron executive Kenneth J. Lay.

“Keep those [ed. deleted] away from me,” he screamed at an aide backstage. “If you can’t, I’ll find someone who can.”

...One long-time GOP political consultant who – for obvious reasons – asked not to be identified said he is advising his Republican Congressional candidates to keep their distance from Bush.

“We have to face the very real possibility that the President of the United States is loony tunes,” he says sadly. “That’s not good for my candidates, it’s not good for the party and it’s certainly not good for the country.”

Well, that explains a lot.

News & Comment

First Draft notes that Kerry intends to revise the 1872 mining law that requires the government to sell public lands with valuable resources on them for the price of $5.00 an acre.

The Sideshow highlights another dirty trick to remove liberal voters from the rolls, which is probably the best argument I've ever heard for not registering by party, and shares some interesting links on everything from prison privatization to Alan Keyes.

The editor of a Lebanese paper decries the attitude of helplessness that he sees as a contributing factor in the Middle East's ongoing silence in the face of the Sudanese genocide.

A Middle Eastern paper alleges that the president of Iran has received a letter from the US discussing the possibility of cooperation.

King County's excellent financial management is reflected in a recent bond sale based on an AA+ credit rating, which along with the cities of Bellevue and Seattle is higher than the credit rating of other Washington State governments.

This Modern World takes another look at the influence of Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

DailyKos: Louisiana Rep. Rodney Alexander's entire DC staff resigned in protest over his last minute switch to the Republican party, which occurred too late for Democrats to field a candidate in his district. It comes to our attention that a standard line in Bush's stump speech declares that there's no point taxing the rich very much because they dodge taxes anyway.

Alas, A Blog brings us a bunch of links discussing same-sex marriage, points to commentary on the subject of what some call judicial tyranny, a case of legal action against a man who ran a sham abortion clinic, and how the Catholic vote breaks down.

Mikhaela Reid talks about how Bush's AIDS prevention policy is held hostage to a minority of religious opinion. And I think I'm in fairly stable territory claiming that only a minority of people of faith think it's a good idea to withhold condom education from regions where millions of people are dying from the fast-spreading plague of HIV.

Daily Howler gives us the rundown of an O'Reilly vs. Krugman episode of Meet the Press where the 'tough' Tim Russert sat idly by as O'Reilly name-called, lied, and dodged questions.

Body and Soul on the upcoming Afghan elections, pointing out the new face of torture in Iraq, and suggests that in regards to his environmental record, Obama is as good as his reputation.

Digby talks about how a conservative columnist has essentially called the military liars by calling into question Kerry's entire public record and receipt of prestigious medals, also, how seriously Porter Goss takes the investigative work of the CIA.

Pandagon on the contradiction in Republican arguments that stem cell research is bad, but IVF discards are fine.

Atrios finds a link explaining why a national sales tax is a very, very bad idea.

Monday, August 9

Adam Smith (WA 9th CD)

Congressman Adam Smith (Congressional Site, Election blog) represents Washington's 9th Congressional District, and he served as chair of the state delegation in Boston. I caught up with Congressman Smith for a couple questions after the state caucus on Monday, and heard his remarks at a forum called 'Technology, Politics, and Economy.'

The 9th Congressional District is a swing district that sent both Democrats and Republicans to Congress in the 1990's. It's generally more conservative leaning than, say, Seattle's Democrat-friendly 7th District. I asked Smith what it was about the Democratic party's message that he thought was most effective in reaching out to his mixed audience.

Smith said that what worked was the party's "opportunity agenda." He said that by supporting stronger public schools, higher education, and the right to organize, Democrats provide working class Americans with a chance to get ahead. He said that healthcare "transcends right, left, and center," but President Bush is doing nothing to fix it, while Kerry has a plan.

Smith also cited responsibility as an important issue, saying that "George Bush won't take responsibility for a single thing he's done." He said that his constituents are concerned about what distrust of the United States in the world means for their security.

Some members of the Washington State delegation wondered why Smith voted against what's come to be known as the Sanders Amendment, a bill which would have repealed a portion of the PATRIOT Act that would allow searches of library and bookstore records. Smith said he was concerned that the amendment was an "all or nothing" repeal of the contested portion of the law. He said that he would have preferred amending it to add further judicial oversight, but that wasn't an option.

Smith said that before the law passed, there were certain types of information that law enforcement didn't have access to, though parts of it went too far. He says that considering what he's discovered since the vote about what probable cause means when used in the PATRIOT Act, he would now vote differently.

Building on a theme he touched on in his Monday interview, Smith talked more about promoting opportunity at the Tuesday Democratic Technologist's forum, along with representatives from the information and biotech industries, as well as other elected officials with an interest in technology policy. He was introduced as an expert on telecommunications and digital signature issues.

Smith said that what was really important about the technological issues discussed at the forum was the economic growth potential they represented. He said it was important to convince the country that Democrats will foster economic growth, and to put together policy initiatives that will help the public cope with the rapid pace of changes in technology and the economic picture that have made them nervous.

Highlighting a specific issue, he cited the current battle over export controls on certain types of information technology as something that puts the United States at a competitive disadvantage. Speaking about a current regulatory climate where certain types of encryption and computer technology can't be sold overseas, he said that the situation would result in the United States falling behind, and potentially hurting our national security by losing access to the latest technology.

Summing up, he said, "Economic growth is what it's about, and technology is the key."

Update: This post was accidentally first published when it was meant to have been saved as a draft.

Thursday, August 5

Murray Campaign Kickoff

And now a word from Scott Hechinger, a press assistant working with the Patty Murray campaign. She held her kickoff breakfast Thursday, August 5th, and Hechinger sent over this account of the event:

I was there this morning, bright and early, along with over 1100 other supporters as Senator Patty Murray officially kicked off her 2004 Senate reelection campaign at Quest Field. As the event started at 7 AM, I expected to see a weary and sluggish crowd trudge into the rally, but instead I saw people eager and ready to celebrate the Senator’s announcement that she would fight to regain her seat in the Senate.

There were entire families, firefighters, and veterans; teachers, the disabled, and grandparents; the old and young. A boy held a sign that read, “Thank you Patty for keeping my classroom size small.” Everybody was eager to see the Senator, hear her speak, and help get her campaign started on the right foot. And when we greeted the Senator with a thunderous, enthusiastic applause, it only emphasized what we all already knew: Washington state is behind Patty.

While we all ate breakfast and drank our OJ, the Senator reminded us why she has been such a strong voice and advocate for our interests, for our state. She told us that she has always put Washington first, no matter what, every chance she gets and she will continue to do so. “Some people criticize me for telling the White House ‘no’ when they push policies that would hurt our state,” she said. “But that’s what you elected me to do; to stand up for our values and to fight for our state.”

And it’s not only the White House that Patty Murray stands up to: “when it comes to helping our state,” she told the crowd, “I’ll take on anyone—the special interests, foreign governments, even my own party.”

She’s not kidding either.

She fought against the Clinton Administration when they went after Microsoft, a vital part of Washington’s economy and won for her state. When Chinese producers were unfairly dumping their apple products and hurting Washington’s farmers and their families, Patty fought back successfully to protect Washington’s apple producers. And as the first woman ever to serve on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, she fought against the Bush Administration’s efforts to close three VA hospitals and today, they are still in use and taking in patients every day.

Her talk focused primarily on the importance of taking care of our own here at home. “To be strong abroad,” she explained, “we also need to be strong at home.” From fighting for our environment, bolstering the safety of our ports, creating jobs while helping to stop the flow of our jobs overseas, and working to ensure that everyone has access to quality education, Senator Murray is already working her heart out to make sure our state’s goals become reality.

But it doesn’t stop there. Not by a long shot. This is all just a microscopic sneak peak of Patty’s effectiveness in the Senate over the last two-terms and her promise for the next six years. Yet each example is evidence of her resolve and confidence to do what’s right for the state and for her country.

Now the campaign is on the move and with much momentum, thanks to all of her dedicated supporters willing to sacrifice a bit of sleep to offer their support this morning. After she finished her speech, she flew to Vancouver and from there she’ll head off to Spokane, the Tri-Cities, and finally end up in Yakima on Friday afternoon. This morning’s kick-off was the first of several events going on all across the state in the next two days, announcing her intention to return to the Senate for a third term. Over the next month, she will be traveling all over Washington State talking to everyday people, hearing their concerns, what they have to say, and spreading her message of optimism for our future.

Fifth Column

Republicans have long been charging that those of us whose political leanings are left of center form a treacherous fifth column in the heart of America. The book titles favored by conservative pundits have generally leaned towards comparing liberalism with dictatorship, if not outright treason. How curious then that a preponderance of recent security snafus are so closely linked with the Republican party that it almost seems unkind to bring it up. Almost.

-- Going to the most recently uncovered travesty, Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) is currently under investigation for revealing classified information to a FOX News anchor.

-- As previously mentioned here, a long-time conservative crony has facilitated North Korea's purchase of a dozen subs from Russia with their underwater launch capabilities intact. The fixer? The Reverend Sun Myung Moon, owner of the conservative Washington Times and friend of Bush. Apparently the Japanese media has been all over this, but our press corps has been missing in action, as usual.

-- Katrina Leung was a Republican party activist and fundraiser in California who used a relationship with an FBI agent to pass secrets to the Chinese government.

-- Ahmed Chalabi was formerly Bush's man in Baghdad, and the above link has a nice picture of him sitting just behind the First Lady during this year's State of the Union address. A "drunk" neoconservative revealed to Chalabi that the U.S. had broken the codes used by the Iranian government. Chalabi told the Iranians, who at first considered him an untrustworthy source, and the breach was revealed when they used the same compromised codes to report on Chalabi's information. It would be hard to think of a more strategically valuable thing to know about a country than their intelligence communication codes, and Chalabi erased that advantage with one stroke. The irony is that the Iranians, probably knowing of his felonious past in Jordan, were less trusting of him than the Bush administration.

-- Someone as yet unknown among senior White House staff revealed the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame to conservative commentator Robert Novak. Apparently, the same source shopped the leak around to several people in the Washington punditry class, but Novak was the only taker. Now that Novak has completely blown her cover, along with the name of a CIA front company, it's been learned that Plame had specialized for a long time in tracking weapons of mass destruction. Though she hasn't been out of the country in a while, she did formerly travel abroad during her missions. This leak has compromised everyone who's ever been in contact with her overseas in one of the most sensitive and crucial areas of investigation. It happened after her husband, one Ambassador Joseph Wilson, revealed that claims about Iraq trying to buy uranium from Niger were false and shouldn't have been included in the 2003 State of the Union.

These five incidents have all occurred or been uncovered within the span of the Bush administration alone. Five incidents that we know of. Can someone explain to me why the Republican party is considered strong on the defense of this country?

News & Comment

Atrios: This one deserves an entire post of it's own. North Korea now has 12 Russian submarines, missile launch capabilities intact, courtesy of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. When it comes to Moon, most people vaguely remember something about a cult that held group weddings. But Moon has been busy acquiring businesses in America, including ownership of the Washington Times, getting crowned twice with attendant congressmen in a Senate office building (I did not, could not, make that up), hanging around with the Bush administration, and apparently getting friendly with Kim Jong Il. Noted for anti-semitism, homophobia, ardent support for conservative causes, and the belief that he's the "True Father" of mankind, Moon announced not too long ago that he would be leaving the U.S. for good. How about an all expenses paid trip to Guantanamo Bay, pal?

Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing reviews 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised', a new book by Joe Trippi about political organizing via the internet.

DailyKos: The rundown of Donna Brazille's excellent performance on Crossfire Wednesday where she gave the best answer ever to the question of Kerry's Senate accomplishments.

Body and Soul: How bad Abu Ghraib got and who was involved (some links in the posts on Abu Ghraib contain graphic descriptions of abuse), Bush's crusade for votes, and the increasing disappearance of Iraq war coverage.

The Seattle PI runs several articles on Wednesday's decision by the King County Superior Court to rule gay marriage constitutional. The articles cover public reaction, how the gubernatorial candidates come down on the issue, and what the judge had to say.

The PI also covers gubernatorial candidate Ron Sims' state tax overhaul proposal, which would be a radical departure from the current system. The plan would remove the highly unpopular Business & Operations tax as well as the state portion of the sales tax, and replace them with a steeply graduated income tax. The plan does not include any type of general business tax, and Sims says the plan would lower taxes for 80% of state residents.

Guardian: Concern grows that oil prices could derail the world economy. Sidney Blumenthal talks about Bush's empty policies. Fellow Coalition of the Willing partner Italy provides a cautionary tale for America as its debt skyrockets.

The Navy Times discusses the ongoing problems with military absentee voting.

Wednesday, August 4

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Conneticut was among the first speakers to greet the Washington State caucus at the convention. Representative DeLauro chaired the platform committee, and came to talk about the party's vision going forward.

"Something has gone fundamentally wrong in Washington [D.C.]," she said. Then she asked the audience to consider "What values guide the people in power today?"

DeLauro wondered whose values gave tax cuts to the wealthiest, while leaving the nation in debt. She said that over half of Washington State taxpayers got less than a $100 tax cut, when some individual taxpayers got as much as $93 million in tax reduction. She said that people all over the country are tired of debt and lost jobs. In her own state, she said that around 40,000 had lost jobs, and that the figure was around 67,000.

DeLauro said there was a desire not only for fiscal responsibility, but for services that can only come with responsible fiscal policy. She mentioned environmental stewardship, making healthcare a right for everyone, and real respect for the troops.

She said that starving the government of resources only cut its obligations to the public. DeLauro said Kerry and Edwards won't be listening to Bush confidante Grover Norquist who famously said, "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."

DeLauro said that the country shouldn't be run on the principle of everyone for themselves, because we're all in it together.

Sunday, August 1

Convention Lag

Hello, King County Democrats. I didn't end up writing as much about the convention as I thought I'd get a chance to. But I did wind up with a fair number of notes, as well as interviews with our delegation. It takes a good bit longer to write about information than to gather it, and you never know when you'll have a chance to gather that much information again.

So, having missed a week's worth of a math class which is holding the final this coming Wednesday, I thought I'd ask your forbearance in sharing everything over the blog. Starting Thursday, I'll be posting from short Q&As with Congressmen Baird, Dicks, Inslee, and Smith. There are a couple good interviews with members of the state Hispanic caucus, and I'm planning on doing more followups with members of some of the other caucuses in our delegation. Convention delegates are generally community activists, so if you want to know what people are working on in the grassroots of the party, they're the ones to talk to.

Also, Congressmen Inslee and Smith both spoke at panels dedicated to technological issues, and I'm really looking forward to writing about the sessions. Congressman Inslee has been involved with the Apollo Energy Alliance for some time now, a group whose intention is to get our country started on a path towards energy independence within 10 years. Senator Cantwell also spoke at the Apollo event, and I'll be sharing her remarks as well. The panelists expected a full commitment to energy independence to yield around 3 million new jobs, in both research and manufacturing. Congressman Smith spoke at a Democratic Technologists' forum entitled 'Technology, Politics, and Economy.' The forum, many of whose attendees were from major software and cutting edge science industries, advanced the point of view that Democratic policies were more beneficial to the technology sector.

In a state like ours, without conventional energy resources and with a sizable technical and manufacturing workforce, reaching out to these sectors is crucial to bringing jobs and money into our state. Our policymakers get it.

Overall, it was a wonderful convention. It was great to be among so many proud Democrats, to get to hear their stories, and see their determination. The only apathetic people there were among the media, and I guess we're all used to that. The important thing is that 5,000 delegates and 15,000 guests are settling back in all across the country, reinvigorated for the fight ahead, and determined to take responsibility for the course of their country in their own hands.

And now, if you'll pardon me for a couple days, I have to take responsibility for the course of my trigonometry class.