Thursday, December 30

Please Help Tsunami Victims

I don't expect many people to be reading this page, considering the previously announced hiatus until the new year, but if you are...

Here's a list of aid funds for tsunami victims (including Doctors Without Borders), here are a few more, and here's Amazon's one-click donation form for the Red Cross emergency appeal.

This is a time for Americans to prove their generosity when other countries are in need, when over 100,000 people have been suddenly killed, and many more are in danger from a lack of food or sanitation. This is a time to say thank you for the outpouring of kindness and sympathy extended to us after 9/11.

Please donate today, please help.

Thursday, December 23

130 Votes

Well, my Christmas will be just a touch merrier now.

Seattle for Dean has the links. The P-I runs a retrospective on recount rhetoric, thought you'd enjoy these:

"We're going to make sure, in this recount, every single vote counts."

-Democrat Christine Gregoire, Nov. 17.

"We're going to be going across the state demanding they make every vote count."

-Rossi spokeswoman Mary Lane, Dec. 23

What a difference a month makes. Anyway, don't ever let anyone tell you that a single vote doesn't matter. We need to scrounge for every last vote, every single race.

Anyway, unless some major and unexpected event completely changes things, I'll see you in January.

Happy Holidays

Just in case you weren't hanging on the outcome of the governor's race to enjoy the season with your loved ones, the King County Democrats' blog would like to wish you and yours the merriest of holidays and a happy new year.

As soon as the outcome is clear, I'll be making my last post for the year in congratulations or condolences, and return sometime around January 2nd. Can't believe it's almost 2005. Where does the time go?

Anyway, spread goodwill, drive safe, be of good cheer, and don't do anything you wouldn't want to do twice. Trust me on that last bit ;)

Facing The Future

Republicans are flipping out after yesterday's court verdict and the likelihood that Gregoire didn't need it to win. That said, the election still hasn't been certified, and it will almost certainly face more court challenges from the Rossi camp. You know, the people who trust the voters more than the lawyers, or so they said when they were on top.

At any rate, whoever wins the governorship, they're going to have to deal with this. I'm not sure how, but my name wasn't on the ballot in November, and aren't we all lucky for that:

...A national report released yesterday, called "Out of Reach 2004," states that a full-time worker in King County must earn $16.04 an hour -- more than twice the state minimum wage of $7.16 -- in order to rent a modest two-bedroom apartment.

This "housing wage" is the amount a person working full-time must earn to afford the fair-market rent on a two-bedroom unit without paying more than 30 percent of his or her income in rent.

Minimum-wage workers in the county must work 90 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom unit, the report says, while statewide, minimum-wage earners are shut out of fair-market rent for even a one-bedroom unit. ...

Rising housing costs, particularly in the greater Puget Sound area, combined with low-paying jobs have forced many workers to pay half or more of their income to afford a roof over their heads, local and national housing experts said. Ideally, workers should not have to pay more than 30 percent of their income for rent, leaving money left over for health care, food, child care, transportation, savings and other living or emergency expenses, experts say.

Yet in Washington, the report says, a minimum-wage worker must work 80 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom unit at the fair-market rent. ...

...Bill Apgar, senior scholar at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, said while there "remains a broadly held perception that folks who can't afford rent are somehow deadbeats," the report is a stark reminder "that you can work full time and have a reasonable income and not even come close to an adequate home." ...

A Daily Kos diarist dealt with the same issue the other day. Though they were talking specifically about the cost of living in other states, the story is a familiar one all across the country:

...I am mainly looking at things over the last three decades (I was born in 1973). As an example, just before I was born, my father had gotten his masters degree in electrical engineering from Penn State University (a good school). He then moved to California and secured a job with a large firm out there with a starting salary of $18,000. In that same year he bought a house in Lomita, California for $30,000 and a used Porsche 911 Carrera (1 year old) for $6,000. In other words, for his one year worth of labor (ignoring taxes for the moment) he was able to purchase 60% of a house in a nice neighborhood in California or 3 Porsche 911's. Fast forward to today, and I have a friend that graduated with a master's degree in engineering from Princeton University (an even better school) in 2002. He was getting offers for starting salaries for around $60,000 or 3.3 x what my dad started out at. Here is a link showing starting salaries for electrical engineers in Los Angeles, CA. from

As you can see, it is right around the $60,000 mark. However, based on today's prices, the SAME house in Lomita, CA. is selling for over $400,000 (and the neighborhood has declined) and a used Porsche 911 sells for around $60,000 (the lowest price I could find on for a 3 year old 911 was 56,000). So while salaries for the same professional job have risen by 3.3x, prices for comparable homes and cars in the same area have risen by factors of 13x and 10x, respectively. This means that for the same year of labor that my father had to give up, my friend could only purchase 15% of the same house (in a declining neighborhood) or only 1 Porsche 911 (as opposed to 3). Similar ratios apply to non-luxury cars as well. You could buy a new car from GM or Ford in 1973 for a couple thousand dollars and today you are lucky if you can find a new GM or Ford for under $20,000. The biggest family expenditures are housing, transportation, education and healthcare and all of the big four have been compounding at higher rates than the general level of wages for decades. In the case of education and healthcare, the rate of increase has actually been ACCELERATING over the last four or five years with no end in sight.

Another way to look at wages is to look at the minimum wage. The national minimum wage in 1973 was $1.90 and today in 2004 it is $5.15. That is an increase of 2.7 x over the last 31 years. ...

But the national average median sales price for an existing single family home in 1973 was $28,900 and the national average median price as of the third quarter of 2002 was $218,000. So while minimum wage levels have increased by a factor of 2.7x, the average median home price has grown by a factor of 7.5 x OVER THE SAME TIME PERIOD. ...

Here is another story. My grandparents bought their home in 1955 in a nice neighborhood in a Philadelphia suburb for $14,000. The home was brand new construction. My grandfather was a bus driver his entire life and retired with a pension. My grandmother did not work full time, but did work as a cashier a few hours a week for some extra spending money. They did not live large, but they had enough (on a bus drivers salary) to pay off their home comfortably within ten years (not thirty), take month long summer vacations most years, raise two kids and put their kids through college AND STILL SAVE REGULARLY. Fast forward to today, and they have recently sold their home for $290,000 despite the fact that: (1) the house is now 50 years old, (2) the neighborhood has declined, and (3) they have not made any additions or major renovations since they bought it other than to enclose a small back porch. Based on that price, a bus driver today could not even afford to LOOK at the house, much less pay it off comfortably in ten years!! So my grandfather was a bus driver and it bought him a certain quality of life that today's bus drivers cannot have. I am not begrudging him, just pointing out the reality of the situation.

So we have wage factors for the average family growing at rate X and cost factors (for the major expenditures) growing at multiples of X. This has been happening over decades and it is analogous to putting a frog in a pot of water and slowly turning up the heat. If you picture a V turned on its side, that is what the chart looks like as there is an ever widening gap between wages and costs. The American family has responded to this growing gap by eliminating savings, taking on more debt to support consumption and swelling the ranks of two income households. The housing bubble has pushed the day of reckoning forward as home equity has been tapped to support consumption / pay bills over the last few years like never before.

Where is all this leading?

Well, if the now established trend lines continue, with costs compounding a couple of percentage points faster than wages for another 20 or 30 years, then something has to give. The average family has gone from living comfortably on one blue collar wage to just getting by with two non-blue collar wages. There is no more room to run. ...

We have troubling issues to face as a nation, but with the current administration in power, the states are going to be very much on their own. I hope our next governor is up to the task of working on these issues with us, because no matter who it is, there will be no free pass on coming up with creative solutions to these problems.

Inauguration day is January 12th. January 13th, we start holding feet to the fire, metaphorically speaking. We'll give the poor blighter a few years before we come with the pitchforks ;)

Recount Process - Almost, But Not Quite Over

Danny Westneat, a Seattle Times columnist signed up to work for a day as a ballot counter, and he found the process to be both scrupulous and exacting. He also found human vote counting to be far superior, easily spotting intent in cases where an optical scanner might be confused.

The Kos diary of Switzerblog reported similar experiences, and quashes an urban legend that escaped into the wild about a vote for Christine Rossi (thanks to a commenter for pointing this diary out). But after some time spent in the recount process, the Switzerati wants to end electronic voting, unless the vote machines are used to more precisely print out voter choices so that intent is clear.

But Seattle Times editorialist Joni Balter uses the recount to point out the divide in our state between King County and everywhere else. She notes correctly that the harsh and heated rhetoric over the recount only makes things worse, even though other county auditors would (and in some cases did) generally handle a recount just as King County is doing now. But she brings up some broader issues about the Seattle area's relationship with the rest of the state that should be addressed.

I'll give the last word to Christine Gregoire, who correctly speaks from an understanding that nobody really knows what's in those sealed ballot envelopes, except the final word on the will of our state's voters:

..."It is too early to declare victory," she said. "I hope tomorrow night we'll have the next governor of the great state of Washington."

Gregoire did not urge Rossi to concede. "I leave the decision about conceding to Mr. Rossi," she said. "I've been called on many times to concede. I've said when the manual recount is done, I will stand by the results." ...

Wednesday, December 22

Good News

Unconfirmed reports have Gregoire leading Rossi by 8 votes, even without adding the disputed King County ballots that the state Supreme Court has said can be counted.

Monday, December 20

Secretary's Office on the Recount

Just talked with a communications staffer in Secretary of State Sam Reed's office regarding the contentious recount appeal currently on the docket of the State Supreme court.

She said that the Secretary of State's current position under CW 29A60210 was "basically requesting that the Supreme Court make it clear that canvassing boards have discretion to correct errors or fix discrepancies in the count." Speaking for the SoS, she said it was their belief that "there is a safety valve", and that a previous Supreme Court ruling didn't say the ballots now in question shouldn't be counted.

To distinguish this motion to clarify from other battles fought over the recount, she said that in the previous State Supreme Court case the Democrats had insisted that all rejected ballots be recanvassed. This case, however, regards only correcting errors or inconsistencies in canvassing.

Fighting For Social Security

The Alliance for Retired Americans thinks that Florida Congressman Allen Boyd's endorsement of social security privatization is wildly irresponsible. I'd agree with that assessment, but how to back it up?

Social Security isn't the most interesting topic to anyone who isn't on it (amazing how much more fascinating it becomes when people retire), but Americans have grown up for a long time now to expect it to be there for them when the day comes. I remember the first time I got a Social Security statement outlining my expected benefits at some point in the distant future based on my payroll taxes to date. I thought, 'cool, I've got a pension.' A little bit extra to make sure my family would never end up footing the whole bill for my advanced old age, even if everything goes wrong between now and retirement. It was comforting.

That little bit of comfort, however, is about to be wiped away if the Republican leadership gets to add private accounts to the system. I also remember being glad after my California dotcom employer went belly-up that I'd put my savings in my savings account instead of following my friends onto one the ubiquitous e-trading services. Several of them ended up completely wiped out, most of them lost their proverbial shirts compared to their original investments, while I walked away with a savings account that saw me through a very lean couple of years. I attribute this not to savvy on my part, but to a healthy respect for my own ignorance.

I knew I didn't know enough about investing to get into the game, and at the time, I was too busy to spend enough time learning about it properly. In terms of outcome, I didn't end up wildly well off which I might have done if I were a very smart investor, but neither did I end up destitute which I might have done if I were the type of investor that the vast majority of people seem to be. For me, with my lack of stockmarket know-how, not being destitute is a reasonable outcome. Considering that the most likely outcome for retirees anywhere in the world without a social safety net is, in fact, destitution, the guarantee of a minimum standard that mostly keeps retirees warm, dry, and fed is a better outcome than the majority of people would be able to get on their own.

Or to sum up: Social Security is a tax we pay to keep our collective grandparents from starving in the streets.

But getting back to backing up support for Social Security, different arguments work better for different situations. I have the luxury of an easily persuadable audience here, but that isn't always the case when we go talk to people out in the Big Room. So to help me help you to make this argument, I yield the floor:

As to the importance of making our case, Digby explains how the parties developed their 'hard' and 'soft' images, and then outlines exactly how to fight for what you want when you're out of power. He then reminds us that people have been hearing that Republicans want to destroy Social Security for far longer than they've been hearing about any so-called crisis.

Nathan Newman explains that future wage increases would offset future benefit increases, particularly if they were accompanied by raising the $87K cutoff on the payroll tax. Speaking of which, remind people loudly and often that payroll tax only applies to income below that ceiling, while at the same time applying to incomes that fall below the minimum threshold for federal income tax.

Max Sawicky says that buying into the argument of permanent shortfall is a loser from the get go, why it doesn't make sense to borrow now to cover possible expenses 40 years from now, and how Clinton era congressional Democrats held the line against benefit cuts by leveraging Republicans' fear of standing for re-election against people who had opposed benefit cuts.

The DCCC blog seems to get it, pointing out an article on a stalwart longtime defender of Social Security, and that Democrats are starting to get with the message that there is no crisis. They also note that Democratic goodwill is running low for talks with the White House on Social security, but I have to wonder what exactly Bush has to do before elected Democrats realize that the goodwill in question is entirely unrequited?

Seeing the Forest on how sloppy journalism perpetuates the myth that Social Security is in crisis.

ThreeHegemons describes what privatizing their national pension plan did to Argentina. The NY Times' economist Paul Krugman elaborates further on where the money goes when you privatize, also going back to the Argentine example. From Krugman:

...Once you realize that privatization really means government borrowing to speculate on stocks, it doesn't sound too responsible, does it? But the details make it considerably worse.

First, financial markets would, correctly, treat the reality of huge deficits today as a much more important indicator of the government's fiscal health than the mere promise that government could save money by cutting benefits in the distant future.

After all, a government bond is a legally binding promise to pay, while a benefits formula that supposedly cuts costs 40 years from now is nothing more than a suggestion to future Congresses. Social Security rules aren't immutable: in the past, Congress has changed things like the retirement age and the tax treatment of benefits. If a privatization plan passed in 2005 called for steep benefit cuts in 2045, what are the odds that those cuts would really happen?

Second, a system of personal accounts, even though it would mainly be an indirect way for the government to speculate in the stock market, would pay huge brokerage fees. Of course, from Wall Street's point of view that's a benefit, not a cost. ...

Kevin Drum echoes Matt Yglesias in explaining how vitally important it is to make it clear that there is no Social Security crisis, something you probably didn't realize that you already know. President Bush, meanwhile, doesn't want to talk about it.

Matt's argument:

...I'm not sure the older liberals who run the show quite understand how overwhelmingly important it is to keep the "there is no crisis" message front and center in the Social Security debate. Most of the young people I know -- including myself until very recently -- have been taken in by a decades-long effort on behalf of privatizers into believing that Social Security is in "crisis," and that if we do nothing the system will "go bankrupt" before we retire, meaning that the system will somehow collapse and we won't get any benefits.

If you approach the issue from inside that frame, then no amount of cavailing about benefit cuts or "risky" stock market transactions is going to get you anywhere. A smaller benefits package and a stock portfolio that may or may not pay off looks like a really good deal compared to a bankrupt pension plan that gives you nothing. Once you understand that even if we do nothing whatsoever to fix Social Security and the Trustees' overly pessimistic predictions come true, the system will still have enough money to pay my generation more in real terms then current retirees get, everything looks different. Bush is offering us a guarantee of lower benefits and $2 trillion in debt to forestall the possibility that benefits will need to be lowered sometime in the 2040s. That's a terrible deal in a straightforward way. But only if you try and see the truth: There is no crisis. If you can't make people see that, everything else becomes pretty irrelevant.

Have you ever believed that Social Security was already in such a crisis that you'd never get anything from it anyway? I know I used to. Realizing that makes it easy to understand how important it is to counter this, though maybe you still need convincing that you aren't alone in having fallen prey to disinformation.

From the article above that the DCCC blog pointed to:

The result: Polls show that huge majorities of Americans lack confidence that Social Security will meet their needs in retirement. An often-cited 1994 survey found that more people between the ages of 18 and 34 believed in UFOs than believed Social Security would exist by the time they retired. ...

If you're feeling sufficiently motivated by now, contact Allen Boyd, and maybe explain to his staff why you wish he wouldn't go along with selling out our future retirement safety net. (D-FL) DC: (202) 225-5235, Tallahassee (850) 561-3979, Panama City: (850) 785-0812 (Thanks to Atrios for highlighting Boyd's role in whitewashing this.)

Recount Rally

Several dozen demonstrators lined opposite corners in front of Dino Rossi’s Bellevue campaign headquarters Sunday. From a block away, the blue and yellow Rossi signs on one side clearly distinguished his supporters from the diverse and mostly handmade signs urging a full count that includes improperly set aside ballots in King County. I talked to several Rossi supporters, and then moved over to the other side to talk with recount supporters, including some of those whose ballots were in dispute.

At issue, primarily, are 573 absentee ballots which were turned in properly and whose authenticity is not generally in dispute. They were wrongfully set aside because though signatures were on file for the voters in question, those signatures were not in the county’s electronic file. The ballots in question are still sealed in their signed absentee voting envelopes. It wasn’t until King County Councilman Larry Phillips discovered his own name on the list of rejected ballots that the mistake was discovered.

On Rossi’s side, two of the five demonstrators I interviewed stated that Rossi had “won twice.” Another, Michael D. went one farther, saying that it “seems like Republicans have to win three times.” Of the disputed ballots, Michael said “that’s what happens… [it] occurs in every election.” A number of them brought up an issue of military ballots that were mailed back late and weren’t counted, suggesting that if those weren’t counted, these other ballots shouldn’t be counted either.

Rossi’s supporters were led in chants by several campaign volunteers wearing sweatshirts whose fronts said “Rossi Recount 2004” and whose backs said “Re-Git R Dun.” The sleeves were printed with the number “261,” the number of votes separating Rossi and Gregoire after the first count.

Rossi supporter Marilyn T. told me that “[she goes] by the law regarding voting,” explaining that the State Supreme Court had said it was a retabulation, and it was important to follow the law to avoid confusion. She said a vote was from a citizen who followed instructions and turned in their ballot at the proper time and place, while a “ballot is merely a form.” About the 573 ballots in question she said that the county was accountable for them, but they were “not included before the election was certified,” and that the late military ballots should be counted if they were included. She said the “court ruled there was not a statewide standard,” but that the canvassing boards set the standards.

Maria Webster said of the 573 ballots, “I don’t believe in them. …They are not legal right now. It’s a recount of the votes that have already been counted.”

Paul Morris of Kirkland came up to talk to me when he saw that I’d taken an interest in his sign, and brought it over to make it easier for me to see his message: “Dems – Vote Late – Vote Often” Explaining his sign, he said that “if the majority of those [ballots] that are found are Democrats, they must have voted late.” About the 573 ballots, he said that “every vote should have been counted before midnight on the 2nd,” and that it was the King County Election Board’s problem. He said that they didn’t do anything wrong, but that they should “go over to King County and raise the roof.” *

Morris went on to say of the recount supporters that “just like any liberal would, they think they’re forgiven for everything they do wrong.” He said that the “liberal left” of Seattle was asking for late ballots to be counted, and that “they’re counting dead people’s ballots.” He said the demonstrators were probably mostly from Seattle because people on the Eastside were more conservative.

I went looking for a recount supporter from Seattle, and was able to find one. Martha J. pointed out to me that there were “no Christine Gregoire signs on [the demonstrators’] side of the road.” She said she was “making a statement that there’s a principle here that’s more important than who gets to be governor… Democracy is more important than who gets elected at any given moment.” Pointing to a sign held by a young teenage girl in pink sweat pants, she said that if a police officer was present they might ask about the sign saying “Dead people don’t vote,” which “could very easily be interpreted as a threat.” She said the Rossi supporters “act like they’re still campaigning.”

Martha J. was standing right next to Heinz Hecht of Bellevue, whose sign read “Count every vote.” He said that according to the signs and chants, Dino Rossi won twice, but “last time I looked, the Secretary of State had yet to certify anything but a recount.” He said you couldn’t win anything until the election was certified. Of the people standing across the road, he said “apparently their candidate is more important than counting all the votes. I find that objectionable.”

Jack and Diane Oxford of Enumclaw were demonstrating because their ballots hadn’t been counted. Diane Oxford explained that this election was the first time they’d voted absentee, and that they had walked their ballots to the precinct they’ve voted at for around 20 years. Their son, who also voted absentee that day, had wanted to hand in his ballot in person so they all decided to go. His vote was counted, but theirs weren’t. She said their votes were questioned because there was no electronic record, even though they’d registered quite some time ago. She said that it “really doesn’t have anything to do with party lines, it has to do with the right to vote. At least for me.”

Eileen Dunihoo of Shoreline was there because her son, Daniel Mair, had one of the 573 uncounted ballots. She said that he’d voted absentee since at least 2000 with no previous problems from his current home in the Czech Republic. On the 15th of November, Dunihoo said a letter was received asking for signature confirmation that had to be back the next day. Then a week ago, the said the election officials said they never received the ballot, even though the family had seen Mair’s name in the online list. Dunihoo said that her son voted on time via registered mail.

Greg Ellis of Bellevue carried a sign that said “Count All Our Votes.” He said he was “one of the 573 that supposedly they did not have a signature on file [for].” He’d been a registered voter for three years, and had voted at a polling place before. This election was the first time he voted absentee, saying that he’d been travelling a lot for work and hadn’t even got back to town until the day before. Ellis said he’d requested an absentee ballot, but because it had never arrived, he filled out and turned in an absentee ballot in person at the King County elections office in Seattle the Saturday before the election. He added that “they say they don’t have a signature on file, but I had to show them my drivers license to get the ballot,” so election officials must have known who he was.

At about 4pm, the recount demonstrators decided they’d made their point and packed it in. The Rossi supporters sent a contingent over to the newly vacant corner and cheered like they’d just successfully stormed a hill. The street was empty of passersby, traffic at the intersection was nearly nonexistant, and the only people within earshot were a few reporters and the last of the demonstrators heading home.

* King County's ballots weren't counted the first time until several days after the election because 83% of the county's million plus voters cast a ballot. Further, considering that this county is a deep blue dot in the middle of a lot of red, the odds of a majority of the 573 ballots being anything other than Democratic could charitably be described as slim. There are at present no credible reports of dead people attempting to vote in King County.

Sunday, December 19

Count Every Vote - Rally Today

The King County Democratic party didn't organize the following event, but I thought I'd pass it along in case anyone was interested. The rally is expected and intended to be quite orderly and very peaceful:

Rally at Rossi HQ

3:00 Sunday

330 112th Ave NE, Bellevue

A brief speaking program will include some of the 735 voters who were wrongly disenfranchised.

Friday, December 17

What Are You Doing? Tell us!

What's going on in your neck of the woods? If you're affiliated with your district Party, with a local grassroots effort, or anything at all that could be considered a Democratic Party related program activity, please write me so I can let everybody know.

Are you canvassing, planning a get-together, raising money for something, trying to organize around a local issue? Tell us. Please. You are the party, and without either your input or a bustling full-time staff of dedicated reporters, the activities of Democrats in King County are going to go underreported. More importantly, other King County Democrats looking for ways to help build the Party might be looking for something to do, and you, yes YOU, might know about the perfect thing for them to get involved in.

Send all submissions to natasha.the[at]gmail[dot]com.* Please include your phone number, and if relevant, the contact information for any organization involved so we can check the details. Not keen on posting any prank announcements for obvious reasons.

We'll retain editorial discretion about what to run, but in general I expect that King County Democrats have pretty good judgement about what announcements should make the cut.

Thanks in advance.

* Email address modified with [at] replacing the '@' symbol, and [dot] replacing the '.' in the actual address. Unaltered email addresses put out on the web can get flooded with inbox spam, and the little monsters don't seem to have gotten hold of this one yet.

Governor's Race

While I've been trying to force myself to remember what happens to alcohols in the presence of aqueous sulfuric acid, Kos diarist N in Seattle has been paying attention to the WA Governor's race. Here's his summary of the race as of Tuesday, with 32 of 39 counties reporting:

...The composite story through Tuesday is that, even with over four-fifths of all counties reporting, only about 32% of Washington's gubernatorial ballots have been recounted. A mere 13% of the recounted ballots were cast in counties where Christine Gregoire outpolled Dino Rossi. Some 439 new for-a-candidate votes have been tallied -- 184 for Gregoire, 248 for Rossi, 7 for Bennett. If we accept all numbers shown on the Secretary of State website, including the clearly-erroneous ballot count from Cowlitz County, the new-found vote rate is now 4.8/10000 ballots. From that value, we can estimate that the total number of new-found votes for a candidate might be 1375. That's down quite a bit from Monday (5.8/10000, 1687) and the weekend (7.1/10000, 2058). However, this estimate doesn't take into account the several hundred improperly-invalidated ballots from King County.

Wait-and-see remains the only rational outlook on the Washington gubernatorial race.

Here's his summary of Thursday's results, with Skagit, Thurston, and Whatcom Counties reporting in. Which is to say that only 40% of the states votes have been officially recounted to date. So waiting (patiently or not) remains the only option.

News & Comment

Sorry for the very light posting lately, but fall quarter finals have been eating my life. Without further adieu, I offer the following for your reading entertainment:

This is the result of our Iraq policy. Was it really worth it?

Digby looks at a timeline of how Republicans killed Clinton's healthcare plan when the Democrats controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress. Read. Learn. Take heart.

Middle Earth Journal agrees with Bob Herbert, and goes one farther to say that the administration has passed from denial to delusion. Ron, in case you hadn't noticed, it was a short trip ;)

Boffoblog talks a bit about selecting children by gender, touching on the problem this has become in some Asian societies who value boys far more than girls and now have a shortage of girls as a result of being able to sex screen pregnancies. And that's just going to be entertaining as all heck when it plays out in the world's biggest population centers as they grow into bona fide economic powerhouses. That is, it will be if you're very, very far away.

A Star From Mosul has action movies in her street that Jerry Bruckheimer had nothing to do with. Here, Najma posts a series of correspondences with another Iraqi talking about the Iraqis being killed or kidnapped by the resistance, and I would guess, a not insignificant number of opportunistic criminals.

Jesse at Pandagon takes on the conservative tactic of explaining why liberals should love their ideas because they *really* represent progressivism, in this case, regarding Social Security privatization. It's funny, but I seem to remember that just before the election (oh, so many weeks ago...) it was considered the height of paranoia by some to suggest that the president might be thinking about privatizing Social Security.

Scott at Poetic Leanings talks about the bounty of cancer, after having recovered from it in 1999.

Michael Berube on helping fellow Democrats through the next four years, and he talks about how what hard work it is to keep conservatives out of arts and humanities posts which involve low pay and intense scrutinization of mountains of literature that predates their culture war.

DunneIV speaks out in praise of idleness, meditates on the sin of bearing false witness, and worries about another world war. He's not the only one who's worried, though here I guess I should say something stupidly reassuring, like that I'm sure cooler heads will prevail. I guess I just did, but my heart isn't in it. Also, he put up a link a bit ago to a Jared Diamond essay on the worst mistake ever made by humans, which is a debatable but interesting perspective.

Guestblogger Ralph Taylor over at Nathan Newman talks about the death of environmentalism, which is to say the need for it to go the way of the dodo as a powerless single-issue lobby trivializing itself into irrelevance to the great detriment of everyone. He quotes from Adam Werbach of the Apollo Alliance, a group that's working very hard to frame energy independence as a jobs and national security issue.

12thHarmonic: A quarter of bird species endangered, while one in 10 will likely be gone by the end of the century. Just in terms of one of the effects this will have on our world, do you have any idea how many more insects we'll have to contend with if that many birds disappear? The cost in terms of disease epidemics and crop destruction would be epic and staggering. Let me repeat that; Epic and Staggering. And let's not even go into all the plant species that will disappear without birds to spread their seeds around. I just can't believe people don't get what a big deal this is, but it's true, they don't care and no one seems to be able to make them care. But Werbach is right, we simply can't rely on people caring about these things as a point of leverage towards fixing them.

Thursday, December 9

Nothing Wrong With The Party

Thanks to everyone that helped with the recount. Senator Kerry,, the DNC, Democracy for America, and many individual donors helped pay to ensure that every vote for governor is counted here in Washington State.

Yet no matter how the recount goes, many Democrats are wondering where the party goes from here. We did pretty well here in Washington, keeping our House and Senate seats and winning back the state legislature. It was a good showing, but it's hard not to notice the siege mentality that seems to be springing up in the ranks.

There are as many ideas about where the party needs to go, and what it needs to fix as there are people to voice them. After reading through a lot of soul-searching and navel-gazing (and writing some) about The Direction, it was a pleasure today to read this:
There is a Party of fiscal responsibility... economic responsibility.... social responsibility... civic responsibility... personal responsibility... and moral responsibility.

It's the Democratic Party. ...

That's the stuff. Click over for more.

Wednesday, December 1

Help The Recount

If you can believe it, I haven't really had much time for news lately besides checking the blog headlines. My newspapers for the past week are in an unsightly stack by the front door, and that's the very least of the things I've let slip lately. The reason would probably bore you, but I feel guilty about overlooking an important local issue: Paying for the recount in the governor's race.

The last news I heard about it, the money to pay for the recount was well in hand. As it turns out, not so much.

But Howard Dean's Blog for America has been watching Washington closely, and they've asked their supporters to chip in to the state party to cover the costs of a full hand recount. One that would have happened automatically if the first machine count had matched the second.

The deadline is Thursday. Tomorrow as of the time of this post, today as of the time you're probably first reading it. Please contribute to the WA State Democratic Party today if you can, so we can count every vote.