Tuesday, November 30

News & Comment

Brad DeLong: China's money game, or, Yet Another Kind of International Chicken. The Iraqization of the occupation isn't going so well, clearly we should redouble our efforts. The shock and horror of indecency in America. The possibly disastrous 'reform' of Social Security.

Kevin at the American Street brings us some lessons from evangelicals, and also shared a link to an interesting election analysis.

Wired: The rocket fuel in our food.

DailyKos: The unnaccountable Congress. Dueling perspectives on the decision to allow universities to continue receiving federal funding even if they bar military recruitment. Latest noises from the DNC Chair race.

How to Save the World: Urban development warfare in Ontario. The problem with reporting the Gross Domestic Product.

Suburban Guerrilla: More Texas energy company misdeeds, and again, only the ones we know about. Whoever ends up in control of Iraq, they will eventually have to deal with the tiny problem of all that depleted uranium laying around, either having to clean it up or handling the resulting health problems.

Wampum: The Bureau of Labor Statistics will no longer collect gender data from its institutional survey. Temporary workers have now entirely lost collective bargaining rights. A liberal argument in favor of tort reform. If Democrats and liberals make assumptions based on a cartoon image of the South, they're bound to go wrong.

BBC: German multiculturalism hits a snag. Iran is pleased with the present nuclear agreement reached with the UN and EU. Iraq is currently experiencing a serious healthcare crisis. The international landmine conference opens with a request for a global ban. African Nobel Prize winner says it's time for Africa to stop making excuses over global warming. Locals express concern over possible opium spraying in Afghanistan.

Monday, November 29

News & Comment

Veiled4Allah: The UAE hosts a conference of moderate Muslims with the goal of taking the public discourse of the Islamic faith away from more radical elements. Saudi Arabia gets its first female pilot. Shirin Ebadi, the first Muslim woman to win a Nobel Prize, talks about hijab and other issues of personal choice. The Pentagon gets a clue. An article on moving past a view of Arabic populations as inscrutable Orientals who've always been the way they are today. Terrorism as human sacrifice.

A guest poster at Matt Gross' blog tells Democrats and liberals to snap out of the abused spouse syndrome.

BOPnews' Ellen Dana Nagler shares a moving post about recovering from addiction. This was graciously shared with us as a Thanksgiving message.

DailyKos: Meteor Blades writes about the energy policy and protecting the environment under the Bush administration. Dday writes about military recruiting tactics, with excerpts from an article describing the 'hard sell' technique they employ and the NCLB rule that mandates it. Larryrant shares a sermon for American Christians. Poeschek wonders if there's common ground to be found with Republicans via cherry-picking Pat Buchanan's words. Dashbro picks up the eternal question of the real problem with the media, which I venture to predict will be far from the last word, but shares some good insights.

I hadn't stopped by Tristero's blog for a while, and when I do, I find that he's hung up his keyboard. But not before leaving the Democratic party leadership with a post-election farewell. He echoes my own sentiment when he says, "The guys in charge right now are hopeless and they have to go. All of them. Right now." Amen.

As always, Avedon Carol has packed the Sideshow with great links. She starts with continuing voting irregularity coverage, scroll down for more on the topic, the mismanagement of the media and copyright laws, all the way to the revelation of the real reason marijuana is illegal. And she's right, the government now feels sufficiently emboldened that they no longer think it's even necessary to lie about selling out the public to the corporations.

Patrick at STCF makes the case for acting on global warming now, and points to an article about new research on Arctic warming.

Pandagon shares a priceless quote from the Rev. Jerry Falwell as spoken on this past Sunday's Meet The Press, the Religion Edition. It was actually an interesting roundtable, so if you have any interest in the intersection of faith and politics, read the full transcript. The skinny is, the wingnuts are coming close to dropping all pretense of rationality, and the press may have finally discovered the moderate and liberal strains of American Christianity. Update: Media Matters points out that Falwell lied on-air about past remarks blaming 9-11 on gays, feminists, the ACLU, and others Falwell finds distasteful.

Digby marvels at the widening parallels between commies and patriots.

MyDD: It's time for Newer Democrats. The declining numbers of foreign students applying to study in the U.S., and what this means to our long-term global power curve. The religious left gets organized.

BBC: The government of Spain, member of the 'Coalition of the Willing', stands accused of backing a coup in E. Guinea. Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has her house arrest extended. An ongoing log of daily life in Iraq. Human skin has a natural mechanism for killing E. coli. It should surprise no one that the current administration, in the absence of any imminent threat, has preemptively declared a willingness to take unilateral action against Iran.

UK Guardian: The debate on introducing national ID cards for UK citizens rages on. Some perspectives on the interaction between the state and the family. British liberals are left wondering where the Labour left has gone, as they watch a rightward march paralleling what we've seen here in the U.S.

Asia Times: The growing partnership between China and Iran undercuts U.S. leverage with Iran, and we can all thank China's growing energy addiction, as they learn to be just like us. The teetering American economy. How are we doing at caring for injured soldiers and the families of the deceased? The U.S. military and intelligence services rely heavily on high tech solutions, which may leave us vulnerable to low tech countermeasures. Where policy is unpopular, propaganda fails.

Sunday, November 28

Northwest Nibbles

Fred Meyer sued for rigging meat prices to include the weight of the packaging. Happens to be illegal, hope they learn not to do it again.

The Puyallup Tribal Health Authority looks at cutbacks to keep up with decreased federal funding in the face of rising need.

Mt. St. Helens keeps shaking, and Mt. Rainier seems to be waking up.

A test program aims to test introducing road tolls to the Puget Sound area.

Does the difficulty of a short transition outweigh the importance of an accurate vote count? Dino Rossi's staff certainly seems to think so, but then, that's hardly surprising.

Saturday, November 27

Democratic Values, v 2.4.0

Partial quote from Tom Vilsack's radio address today:

...At these holiday meals, you enjoy the company you have, but you can't help but think of those not present or no longer here. How many families with young men and women in the service of our country and those in harm's way experienced similar thoughts?

As we think about all of our blessings, we should always stop and say thank you for all those who have served to make America strong and secure. Our prayers should include those who have lost their lives and the families left behind and those who have been injured and the difficult times that lie ahead for them as they rehabilitate their lives.

With these thoughts and prayers, we should rededicate ourselves to ensuring that all who served our country receive the health and income benefits they've earned by their service.

The men and women serving in our armed forces, in our police and sheriff departments, in our fire stations, represent what is best in all of us: the willingness to serve in sacrifice for a better America. Their example calls all of us to a similar duty.

My parents used to remind me and now I remind my sons, To whom much is given, much is expected. As we count our blessings, may each of us reach out to those in need. As we give thanks for those who have served in sacrifice, may we also look for how we too may serve in sacrifice for our country. In doing so, we keep alive America's promise and give full meaning to Thanksgiving. ...

Democratic values on display. I'm glad Vilsack pulled out of the DNC Chair contest, but this is exactly what Democrats need to be saying. Not just until we win back control of a branch of government, but as a permanent center for our message.

Steve Gilliard wrote a great essay the other day about positive purchasing habits and engaging in community service that builds on the theme:

...2) Give positively

Supporting the USO and injured soldiers is a positive activity. One which celebrates the season and makes a point about the war. We haven't forgotten the wounded and damaged. Volunteering at the local VA or homeless shelter does the same thing. Support the poor and desperate in a meaningful, generous way. You can get a dig in, if you need to, but help people first. Hard hearts help no one. Toys for Tots is another positive act.

3) Do charity work

If you're a member of a meetup or Democracy for America chapter, do something positive. Hold a party for foster kids or pregnant teens. Do an event at an elder center. The idea is not to push politics, but to be seen as active members of the community. Be public minded citizens, and make it clear that you're doing your civic duty. Of course, shirts with donkeys on them wouldn't kill. I remember reading about a Dean for America chapter which cleaned up a park. That's the kind of thing people need to carry forward.

My point is that we need to start demonstrating our beliefs. If we want a better America, one where cruelty isn't in fashion, we need to do things which represent our values. Positive, helpful things which make us look like civic minded citizens who care about their community. I've seen how negative talk paralyzes a community, and fossilizes discussion. It eventually makes those people irrelevant as well. We need to represent a positive face to the community. Get positive stories out there about groups of Democrats helping people who need it.

...Politics is public service. You can't change minds when all people see are sterotypes. Sure, some people may refuse. And some people may be too pissed to do this. But when was the last time political people helped anyone but themselves? If you help people's kids, they may actually listen to you when other things come up.

...If you've never been poor and alone, you have no idea what a single act of kindness can mean to a desperate mom and her kids. Christmas is a hard time for them in this society, seeing things they can't afford. An act of kindness is not only a good thing, it also says they're not alone, that more than the church cares for them. ...

During the primaries, one of the ideas that I thought was most worthy of being carried on past the election and adopted by the party at large was DeanCorps. Democratic values could best be summed up by the themes of charity and good works, and conservatives have relentlessly worked to make liberal ideas about helping others sound like an inherently false ploy worthy only of contempt.

Wouldn't it be great if contempt was reserved for those who sneer at the very idea of public service? Take the first step, support the troops with things they really need this holiday season.

Friday, November 26

News & Comment

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving, & many blessings to count. And now, for the universal antidote to those warm and fuzzy post-food coma feelings: The News.

The Yellow Doggerel Democrat would like to alert you to the fact that Selective Service and the Department of Education have begun comparing databases. Link thanks to Eschaton.

Speaking of Eschaton: In honor of the holiday we just had, we are pointed to some Native American bloggers. Will a Texas election be overturned by legislative fiat? Finally, don't fall for the red-blue trap.

Making Light tells us that the troops need calling cards. Seriously. A note on emergency preparedness, and in a delightful tribute to creative theology, we are pointed to the Night of the Antinomian.

MyDD: More on the issue of issues. A post on the media framing of the DNC Chair race with a Brand Democrat ad supporting Howard Dean as chair, and also, a scorecard for the kerfuffle thus far. We haven't heard the last from Move America Forward, a front group run by a Republican PR firm that proudly lists the Nicaraguan Contras as former clients. Major companies to avoid if you're a Democrat or progressive. A discussion on the role of the political party.

Juan Cole more background on MEMRI, the organization that threatened to sue him, and on the blog response to the threat. Also, fallout from Fallujah just keeps coming, and we get more casualty reports.

DailyKos: National Guard soldiers preparing for deployment go on record saying that their training is inadequate, and so is the equipment they're likely to have on arriving in Iraq. Numerous studies over many years indicate that everyone is a potential torturer. Apparently, running a one-party state is harder than they thought. An orthopaedic trauma surgeon compares healthcare services in the US vs. the UK. Why ignoring voter suppression is a betrayal of minority voters.

Prometheus 6 shares some of the better excerpts from Bill Maher's New Rules, some alarming info on Asia's demographic time bomb, notes from the tanking of the dollar, and the planned new US passports that has the ACLU concerned about data privacy.

Digby makes a case for lawsuit reform and separation of church and state, explains the relationship between freedom and community, or how the Puritans became Yankees, and shares the history of the long-standing, bipartisan, popular sentiment in support of abolishing the electoral college.

This Western Democrat wrote before it was announced that our squeaker of a governor's race in Washington State would be recounted again, but makes some interesting points on bridging the urban-rural divide.

Feministing: Louisiana's public disservice announcements. A positive protest against violence in Afghanistan. What may be the first gay movie hero, even though they've gone to great pains to downplay it in the promo. The ongoing fight for the right to breastfeed.

How to Save the World on taking action vs. taking responsibility, and how the two concepts are at war with each other in US politics.

A glimpse into the freakish mind of G. Gordon Liddy, Nixon's Watergate thug.

TalkLeft: Racial sentencing disparities have only grown over the years. The general in charge of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib for the torture has been promoted.

Electrolite shares ten things the Chinese do better.

Ukraine talks about an East-West split, and a Guardian columnist declares western coverage to be hopelessly biased. But while I don't know very much about Ukrainian politics myself, any left of center afficionado of US politics could easily find Colin Powell's pronouncements on the sanctity of the Ukrainian vote count simply hilarious:

..."If the Ukrainian government does not act immediately and responsibly there will be consequences for our relationship, for Ukraine's hopes for a Euro-Atlantic integration and for individuals responsible for perpetrating fraud," Powell said in a briefing at the State Department.

"We have been following developments very closely and are deeply disturbed by the extensive and credible reports of fraud in the election," he added. "We call for a full review of the conduct of the election and the tallying of election results." ...

That's the Republicans for you. Charitably declaring that the citizens of other countries should have it better than we do here at home.

Saturday, November 20

Help The Recount

As we get set for a machine recount of the votes for the governor's race, the Washington State Democratic Party sent out a message to supporters:

...With only 261 votes separating Chris Gregoire and Dino Rossi out of 2.9 million cast, our race is at a tie. For that reason, every action we take is of vital importance.

...Many of you reported problems with voting machines in your precinct on Election Day. In a few instances we have received reports of ballot counting machines breaking down. We must make sure that these votes are accurately recorded.

We have reports of precincts that have reported more votes than the precinct has registered voters.

In King County, three precincts checked their machine counts against manual counts. Where voters had checked their candidate instead of filling out the oval, the machine count failed to count their vote.

The data we are collecting from auditors includes typos, and other incorrect or missing information. In each instance we need to track down the source of the problem. They could represent simple mistakes in reporting or worse, they could represent uncounted votes.

With problems such as these, the likelihood that we will need a manual recount is growing.

You have been very generous already, but we still need your help. In order to request a manual recount, counties must be paid up front...

Click here to contribute towards a hand recount, and email jaxon@wa-democrats.org to report any concerns or problems.

Tuesday, November 16

Morality and Values

Today's outrages included the revelation that along with sending the occasional deportee to Syria, it's become a routine practice to send detainees to Egypt, Syria, and Uzbekistan for interrogation. As if Egyptian and Syrian torture practices weren't bad enough, we now subcontract to Uzbekistan, where people can be boiled alive and their grieving mothers sentenced to hard labor for protesting it. They boil people alive, for gods' sake, and that's who the Bush administration funds and befriends.

Then there was the unprovoked shooting of a wounded and abandoned man in a mosque in Fallujah. After Abu Ghraib, it's hard not to respond with the weary thought that well, this was just the one they caught on film.

Speaking of Abu Ghraib, I thought it was bad enough that several former Iran-Contra felons had been rehired into government by the Bush administration, The Sequel. And I thought I was outraged when they got tripped up in lunacy like the attempted coup in Venezuela and the (hopefully) abortive Total Information Awareness project, though relieved that incompetence seemed to have trumped bad intent. Now we hear that the guy who drafted the memo purporting to lay out the legal underpinnings for torturing detainees in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, possibly the worst human relations disaster in my lifetime, will be the new Attorney General. You just had to know they were capable of finding someone more infuriating than John Ashcroft, and true to form, Team Bush didn't disappoint in Alberto Gonzales.

Even worse, only in today's America could the man who drafted that now infamous torture memo be seriously referred to as a moderate in an article calling the legal fiasco 'controversial.'

These are the values and morality of the Bush administration on full display. Kind of makes a person sentimental for the old-fashioned values of charity, humility, justice, loving your neighbor, and blessing the peacemakers.

Monday, November 15

News & Comment

David Sirota says that the GOP is playing with fire on public lands issues, and points up the opportunity available for Democrats to strongly ally themselves with the majority of the public on land preservation. It won us the governorship in the very red state of Montana, after all, which should demonstrate that there's nothing wrong with the Democratic party platform given a good candidate and sound strategy to advance it.

DailyKos: On orders from the White House, the CIA will be purged of 'disloyal' employees and 'liberal Democrats.' The military is calling up former servicemembers who've fulfilled their obligations to come back to active duty, in many cases, disregarding health concerns that would rule out regular enlistment. The Democratic party establishment wants to keep doing what it's always done, presumably on the basis that it's worked so well up until now. Meanwhile, Republicans tell moderates they're not wanted.

Asia Times: A book review of The Empire Has No Clothes, written by a former Cato fellow on the subject of American imperialism. This article starts of with a quote from the Iraqi blogger Riverbend and asks whether America will be any better off after smashing Fallujah than the Russians have been after leveling Grozny in Chechnya.

Ampersand explores the dishonesty of the anti-same sex marriage arguments before taking on the idea that elitist judges are responsible for the successes of the same sex marriage movement.

MyDD: How modern conservatism is damaging corporate profitability. Why the decision to focus the Democrats' efforts in swing states and to ignore safe states likely cost Kerry the popular vote. Finally, some more background on the struggle for the DNC chairmanship, and who to write to if this is an issue you care about. [Note, Howard Dean is currently a candidate vying for the DNC chairmanship.]

Go over to the Sideshow and read until you come to something you've seen before.

And ending the evening on an up note [knock on wood], Gregoire has gained a slight lead in the count.

Sunday, November 14

News & Comment

Laura Rozen finds an article discussing the connection between Al Qaida and the gem trade, a link that's been all but completely ignored by the Bush administration. Also, she points out that China is getting involved in Africa, and likely the Sudanese genocide, in a bid to secure its energy future. Now, if only there were a powerful country who was respected around the world as a fair and honest broker that could step in and try to negotiate a reasonable solution...

From Crooked Timber, Texas is working to strike mentions of evolution, pollution, contraception, global warming, and overpopulation from its school textbooks. If this is true, medical and science students can heave an enormous sigh of relief in coming years, because they will stop having to compete for space with applicants from Texas. Another post talks about how the costs of global warming will be inflicted on the global underclass, which may be the reason why Luddites like Bjorn Lomborg continue to insist that it won't cost enough to bother fixing it.

Dave Neiwert speaks about the Right's determination to eliminate the enemy, which is to say, liberals. Considering that the more radical among them consider Republican Senator Arlen Specter unacceptably liberal, that doesn't leave much hope for vast swathes of the populace.

This article about the censor wars whose most recent target was the airing of "Saving Private Ryan", brings up a couple other points of interest.

...Robert Knight, of the curiously named Concerned Women for America, told Associated Press recently that [Professor Alfred Kinsey] was akin to the notorious Nazi pseudo- scientist Dr Josef Mengele.

...The American Family Association also calls for a general boycott of Disney, because the company has encouraged gays to visit its theme parks, and of food giant Procter & Gamble for hiring gays. ...

BOPNews: The electoral map of 1896 will look curiously familiar to anyone who saw the map of the 2004 election, except that the parties are reversed. An article every Democrat and activist should read about how to be an opposition party, especially the part where it's explained that "If you didn't oppose [the party in power], then you can't later hold them responsible."

A Daily Kos diarist infiltrated the local Evangelical groups, the better to report back to the rest of us. Brings back a lot of memories. Thanks to Michael Berube.

Feministing on the bad science being passed on to women seeking abortions in some states, also resources that explain why gender inequality has become the prime mover in spreading the AIDS epidemic around the globe.

Juan Cole shares a guest article suggesting that Arafat's death won't solve much. In Iraq Ayatollah Sistani calls for a peaceful solution in Fallujah, and a plan to split Iraq into larger ethnic provinces is examined.

MyDD on the House races of 2006. It's never too early to start planning ahead.

Here in Washington, the governor's race is still too close too call, with around a quarter of the outstanding ballots here in King County. For any other races you might have been interested in, go to the Secretary of State site and browse to your heart's content.

Friday, November 12

Mary Cheney

The Cheney family didn't blink when Alan Keyes (R-Carpetbagger) specifically included Mary Cheney when referring to all gay people as "selfish hedonists." Then they famously freaked out when in the third presidential debate, John Kerry had the unmitigated gall to point out that she is in fact a lesbian whose family happens to care for her a great deal. So what treatment will this comment get:

...A Virginia pro-family advocate says the people who helped re-elect President Bush don't support homosexual relationships -- the administration apparently does. Joe Glover, president of the Family Policy Network, has worked tirelessly for family values, including the fight against legalized homosexual "marriage." He says it was conservative Christians who put the president back in office and who held to the belief that the president shared their views. But Glover says the day after the election, that all seemed to go out the window. "The day after George Bush was elected president again, because of this morals revolution taking place in our country, he allows his vice president to not only put his lesbian daughter on the platform, but to bring her lesbian 'partner' up on the stage with him," Glover says. "It almost seems to be a slap in the face from the get-go against the very conservatives that re-elected the president at a time when he ought to paying them some homage and respect." Glover says the Cheney daughter's open flaunting of her homosexuality is the antithesis of what the administration claims to stand for -- and that the post-election display sends a mixed message to Bush supporters. ...

A conservative is saying publicly that the mere public presence of Mary Cheney and her partner are "a slap in the face." Will the Cheneys ignore this insult to their beloved daughter, or will they get indignant?

If anyone were silly enough to take me up on it, I'll bet $100 that they don't make a peep.

Thursday, November 11

News & Comment

Kevin Drum takes a look at inevitability of Congressional incumbency and proposed an end to gerrymandering.

Digby has two must-read posts on the nature of the culture wars.

In case you've been hesitant to follow the Fallujah story that closely, Body and Soul brings us the unpleasant details. Matt Yglesias brings us a summary of the fight in Fallujah: "Boy -- guerilla force flees rather than stand and be slaughtered by better-armed foe. Who could have predicted that except every goddamn person on the face of the earth."

At Daily Kos, Pericles gives us all a Terrorist 101 quiz. It doesn't hurt to be reminded that triangulation is the policy of the establishment, whereas to a radical, the obvious enemy does double duty as best friend. Also, Kos shares a briefing on the diverse Latino voting picture, and they give the 2004 Democratic coordinated campaign poor marks for complacency.

The Left Coaster on the sad state of journalism, and the problem that poses for democracy.

Liberal Oasis talks about obstructionism and fighting back in a post that highlights the absurdity of Democrats reflexively taking advice from conservatives on how they should conduct themselves. Also, tax simplification

MB at Wampum suggests making the environment a prominent issue, both for coalition building and future campaigns.

The Sideshow talks spiritual strategy, and she has a whole bunch of other good finds that you should scroll down to read.

Dave Pollard talks about why intelligence gathering isn't enough.

In case you've been preoccupied with US and Iraq-related news, the BBC covers the exodus of foreign nationals from the Ivory Coast after the renewed violence. There are links in the sidebars to timelines, more pictures, and other coverage of the developing story.

Tuesday, November 9

News & Comment

MyDD: Real conservative values, as practiced, not preached. Why it's more important to reach the rural vote than the southern vote. How the House Republicans waged war and the House Democrats, not so much.

Also from MyDD, to create a better party, first fire all the consultants. Anyone remember what a good communicator Wesley Clark was before the brainwashing team consultants got hold of him?

Sisyphus shares some demographics to think about, and reminds Democrats that it's time to fight, anyway. A Democrat she quotes who thinks it's time to give up? One of the strategists involved with the Clark campaign, possibly the very guy who turned Clark from dynamic general to mealy-mouthed campaigner.

The Village Voice on the anti-choice agenda, courtesy of First Draft.

Digby talks about a below the radar effort to recruit Republicans on the job, and he finds the review I wish I'd written of Andrew Sullivan's bizarre behavior when he showed up on Real Time with Bill Maher last Friday. I watched the appearance, and found it curious that Sullivan talked about the electoral college having been instituted for the sake of the 'middle of the country'. But at the time of the founding of the republic, the middle of the country was somewhere around Pennsylvania.

What Steve Gilliard really thinks. Chris Bowers responds.

DailyKos: The backdoor draft is now catching people who already completed their inactive duty. Iraq is just a mess, and people expect that we'll be able to recruit thousands of Iraqis to work for police and army duty, which has become synonymous with painting a target on your back before leaving the house. A little bit of election hype debunked, and a few more bogus lessons of the election. Why Democrats should stop playing nice, aside from the fact that we're the only side to whom anyone would seriously make an appeal for 'peace, love, and understanding.' Why supporter email lists shouldn't be treated like a cash machine, but rather, an information distribution medium. The politics of crying vote fraud, and necessary voting system reform, something that Democrats should get motivated to work hard at for the next four years.

Finally, consider the possibility that Seattle may be under water by the end of the century if global warming causes sea level to rise by a meter.

Sunday, November 7

Thinking Ahead

Well, the national election results were... disappointing. But here in Washington, we held on to our Democratic Senator, and kept all our House seats. We've got both houses of the state legislature, which is good even if we don't know who the governor is just yet.

But though I'm sure I wasn't the only one who took the days after the election to regroup a little and get back to all the teings I'd put off until 'after the election', it's time to look ahead to the next one. So I'm sharing the following message with you in hopes that it gets to the right people:

Dear friends,

Due to the increased interest in the 2005 elections, and the large number of extensions that have been requested, we are reopening the IDF admissions process for the class of 2005 for everyone. Please postmark your application by November 9th to be considered.

The Institute for a Democratic Future, trains women and men ages 21-36 in political and public policy issues, the legislative process, campaigns and elections and how to prepare to run for office. Each year, the program accepts 25 emerging leaders in Washington state.

More information is available at www.democraticfuture.org

Dean Nielsen
Co-Founder, IDF


Dean M. Nielsen

Washington State Director
Progressive Majority
615 2nd Avenue #500
Seattle, WA 98104

(206) 443-5566
(206) 443-5599 fax

Washington site: www.progressivemajoritywashington.org
National site: www.progressivemajority.org

Tuesday, November 2

Voting So Far

First of all, if you have questions about voting here in Washington, go to the voter information website run by the Secretary of State.

Second, you'll be glad to know that virtually nothing newsworthy is happening during our election here so far. At least, nothing confirmable. The Secretary of State's office, as well as the state Republican and Democratic Parties all agree that things are going well. The worst thing so far is minor complaints called in to Republican party headquarters about poor lighting or difficulty reading ballots.

The press contact for the Secretary of State's office said that the election was in fact "running like clockwork," and that they've been getting compliments on how smoothly things are going.


It's been cold today, and periodically rainy, but that hasn't stopped high turnout with lines at polling places all over the state. This is Washington, after all, we don't shut down for rain. The Secretary of State is predicting an 84% turnout, a level of participation not seen since World War II. We've got over 400,000 new voters since 2000, a slight surge over the new registration numbers in that election year.

Over a third of Washington State's 3.5 million registered voters had already cast a ballot as of this morning. By yesterday 1.3 million absentee ballots had been received by election officials, out of 2.3 million issued this year. That number is already higher than the approximately 1.2 million absentee votes cast in 2000. According to any political party official you can get hold of, absentee voters tend to have a 70% turnout rate, so around 400,000 more should still be coming in.

If anyone's dreading the prospect of standing in line, check out this inspiring Guardian article about the observations of Florida's international election monitors.

Volunteer Efforts

According to the Democratic Coordinated Campaign figures, where efforts for all the campaigns are being handled jointly, there are around 10,000 volunteers working for the Democratic Party throughout the state. Around 4,000 of them are estimated to be in the Seattle area. Their press contact said that party offices are crowded throughout the state.

The Washington State Republican Party didn't have any figures available on how many volunteers they had out today. I was referred to the King County (Seattle area, if you're an out-of-state reader) Party, and was given an estimate of over 200 volunteers doing doorbelling and poll watching. Many of those volunteers have been participating in a 72-hour task force performing various GOTV efforts in coordination with the Bush campaign.

I had better luck with the campaigns. The Rossi campaign didn't have ready numbers, but estimated that 5,000 people were signed up in their volunteer database.

The state Bush campaign, who claimed 30,000 volunteers statewide. Their press contact described an unprecedented effort put into Washington State, saying that the party was within striking distance in what's considered a Democratic state. Even in King County, they said their numbers were way up over 2000. They said that 300,000 calls had been made over the weekend, 110,000 just yesterday. And apparently sixty thousand doors have been knocked on in the last few days.


When asked if there were any problems with the voting, the Bush campaign representative I spoke to said she was "not at liberty to comment right now." Apparently, some challenges are heading to court, and she clarified when asked that she was talking about Washington State, but she couldn't tell me anything about their nature. As of the time of this posting, the Secretary of State's office hasn't heard anything about any court challenges to the voting process in Washington state.

Vote Today, Bring Friends

Go vote, and when you do, bring someone with you. Take a family member, a friend, a co-worker, that cynic you know who's registered but doesn't think their vote counts, bring them all.

Today is expected to be a record turnout election, and you may have to stand in line at the polling place. Bring rain gear, and a snack or chair if you think you might need them. A roll of garbage bags can act as emergency rain ponchos for anyone standing in line with you who forgot their own rain gear.

Absentee ballots must be postmarked today (be sure there's still a pickup time left at any mailbox you use), or they can be turned in at a polling place.

Finally, be glad you don't live in Ohio, where Republicans will have thousands of challengers at the polls slowing up the voting lines even more. Orcinus notes that 45% of the electorate doesn't believe Bush really won in 2000, a number that's unchanged over the last four years, and if you read farther down, you'll find the list of Republican attempts to make sure it goes the same way again.

So remember: Today, we aren't consumers, we're citizens. Let's step out and blow some minds.

Monday, November 1

8th Congressional District Debate

After talking to them last spring, I got to hear 8th Congressional District candidates Dave Reichert and Dave Ross debate each other earlier this month. To my disappointment, Dave Reichert had started peppering his speech with enough Republican talking points that he now sounded like his robotic primary opponents. The spontaneity and rambling stories were really the only thing that took the edge off his hard right stances. Dave Ross seemed to have tightened up his speaking style, and was more engaged with the audience, but was recognizably the same Ross.

Not long in, the candidates were asked why someone from their party should be sent to Congress.

Reichert thinks the district should vote Republican because it's better for small business, and for him specifically because he's in touch with the community on things like the methamphetamine and handgun problems, and because he thinks marriage is between a man and a woman. He said that he differed from the president because he was concerned with the budget deficit, and that he would cut spending.

Ross said the district should vote Democratic because the "Republicans have had their chance" with their control of Congress, while failing to get a transportation bill to add a lane to I-405, and losing close to a million jobs. He said he differed from his party in favoring results based social programs that include faith-based initiatives, which should be supported only if proved to work.

The debate turned quickly to security issues with a question about the PATRIOT Act. Ross said it was important for law enforcement to be able to follow a person, instead of just a phone number, citing an example of a part of the law he supported. But he followed by saying that people were spooked by provisions allowing sneak-and-peek searches and searches of library records, causing him to support efforts to amend it. Reichert said that "since September 11th, this world has changed forever." He compared 9-11 to Columbine, offering the Colorado school shooting as another example of an event that changed the approach of law enforcement. He said the Act would evolve over time.

On Iraq, Reichert said he agreet that "we should fight terrorists where the terrorists are." He said it was premature to set a date for withdrawal, and that even if there was disagreement about getting to Iraq, the country should be made free and safe. Ross said that having been in Baghdad last summer, he thought the problem was the American face on the war, something it might be 19 months too late to correct. He said that "the best way, ultimately, to spread democracy is by example, not by force."

In responding to a question on the war on terror, Reichert said that we can't give up, even though 9-11 set the stage for a long war. He repeated the tagline that it was important to fight the terrorists where they are, not here. Ross had reported from Ground Zero, and said that of course we needed to fight terrorists. But he said that we also needed to fight for hearts and minds, that we couldn't win if we were seen as bullies. Ross said that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was right to ask if the U.S. was killing more terrorists than it was creating.

On transportation, Reichert said that he already had a record of bringing $28 million to the Sheriff's office, and would try to get on the congressional committee. He said he'd get money to expand the state road infrastructure. Ross said that it was important for the state delegation to work to develop a regional consensus, and find some middle ground between liberals who want to only add bike paths, and conservatives who only wanted to add roads. He said it was important to fund whatever moved the most people for the least amount of money, and to look at improving roads outside the major King County metropolitan area in places like Woodinville.

Reichert's healthcare plan is tort reform, medical savings accounts, medical associations to bring down insurance costs, and letting doctors make medical decisions instead of insurance companies. Ross said that Reichert's plan was mostly the Bush plan, costing more without helping those without coverage, didn't treat illness early, and pointing out that tort reform has a spotty record of results. He proposed the reimportation of discount prescription drugs and extending Medicare for all uncovered children.

On dealing with the deficit, Ross said he favored of rescinding the top bracket of tax cuts, saying that interest on it was $390 billion a year. He also said that there would be significant savings in getting people early healthcare when they first needed it, and that we couldn't afford not to try it. Reichert pointed to a history of cost cutting in his department, even to trimming costs from the purchase of patrol cars.

Reichert said that he "[didn't] really see a conflict there" between balancing the budget and cutting taxes. He said that spending cuts would fix things. Ross suggested cutting the $100 billion for the missile defense system that scientists say doesn't work. He didn't see why tax cuts for the top 1% should be kept with the costs of Iraq, healthcare, and transportation needs.

On outsourcing, Ross suggested reversing tax incentives to encourage companies to bring profits back home, as well as funding research and bringing new products to market. He said that the local Redhook brewery was started with a Small Business Administration loan, a program he says the Bush administration cut, and that he supported. Reichert said it was important to keep taxes low, world tariffs low, and to do away with bureaucratic rules and regulations.

Ross' education plan includes supplementing retraining, funding primary research at the University of Washington, and fully supporting special education. He said that the "best way to stop outsourcing, in the long run, is to be better than those countries" where the jobs are going to. Reichert said that he mostly agreed with Ross' education platform, saying that businesses supported these programs because they benefit from well-trained workers.

Ross said that the country couldn't afford to waste talent in a global economy. When it came to helping college students, he said that "talent is sprinkled everywhere, [but money and income] are only sprinkled some places." Reichert said that business partnerships should be encouraged to help college attendees, because they were the ultimate beneficiaries.

On the question of whether or not there should be federal parity legislation requiring companies that offered Viagra to offer birth control, Reichert said that he'd never been asked the question and would consider it. Ross said that "if [a plan] covers Viagra, it can sure as heck cover birth control."

Reichert said that federal money should not be spent on sex education "at all," favoring only abstinence education. Ross said that federal money should not be spent by ideology, and that results shouldn't be predetermined. He said that with abstinence and sex education, professionals should be entrusted with running these programs, and that funding should be cut off if they didn't work.

Reichert said that as a male, he couldn't understand the decision involved in abortion. But going to personal experience, he cited the Green River case, and a daughter who couldn't have children deciding to adopt. He said he would only support abortion in the case of incest, rape, or a threat to the mother's life. Ross said that being pro-choice didn't mean being pro abortion. He said that decisions need to be left in the hands of families, and that Congress was ill-equipped to make the decision for them.

As priorities, both candidates cited jobs, healthcare, and transportation. Ross said it was important to support both roads and transit, support research and small businesses, educate the workforce, and fix a healthcare system which left some families afraid to go to a doctor. Reichert briefly mentioned the issues, but as an afterthought to again solemnly proclaiming that the nation had changed after 9-11, and that soccer moms were now security moms.

In closing, Reichert said Congress needed someone who was a doer. He said he'd seen the chaos caused by lack of education and unemployment in the poorest homes, and the problems created when government bureaucracy got in the way of child protective and DSHS services.

Ross said that he felt the nation had taken a wrong turn in the last four years. He said the election was between ratifying those choices, or deciding to change direction. He said that national security wasn't only about terrorism, but also about having jobs and healthcare.


William Rivers Pitt:

...In George W. Bush's America, being even moderately liberal these days is like being a Red Sox fan. You know what needs to happen, you know what is right, and yet some cosmic force akin to the lingering shade of Babe Ruth always manages to ascend from purgatory and batter you into dust right at the moment when something good and great is within your grasp. If you do manage to get your lineup together - home run issues, grand slam arguments, All Star players - you will get completely outspent by the damned Yankees who are sitting in your division with more money than God and the will to use it. Baseball, like politics, has no spending limits.

...You have to capture the mentality of the Red Sox fan, as I have. You start every season and every game almost completely sure that you will be beaten soundly. You lick your wounds and dust yourself off and maybe cry a little into your pillow. But you always, always think to yourself, 'This could be it. This could be the year.' You do it because you want to be there at the turning of the tide. When that day does dawn, when some October night in a time to come absorbs the victory roar of people who have watched great-grandfathers and grandfathers and fathers live entire lives and die unfulfilled, when the Boston Red Sox finally win that championship, it will have been worth every moment of pain and disappointment. ...