by Goldy, 04/30/2005, 12:06 PM

Well, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. While errors tend to occur in every election, they tend to occur in a random distribution. This is illustrated by the county by county breakdown of the mishandled provisional ballots and votes cast by felons alleged by Democrats.

County Votes Cast By Felons Unverified Provisional Ballots
Adams   117
Benton 25 37
Chelan 5  
Clallam 9  
Clark 35 1
Cowlitz 2 17
Douglas 4  
Ferry 4  
Franklin 4  
Garfield 1  
Grant 8  
Grays Harbor 1  
Island 5 27
Jefferson 2 16
King 31  
Kitsap 23  
Kittitas   25
Klickitat 2  
Lewis 17  
Lincoln 2  
Mason 1  
Okanogan 7  
Pacific 1  
Pierce 49 164
Skagit 11 1
Snohomish 27  
Spokane 65 3
Stevens 1 400
Thurston 25  
Walla Walla 5 331
Whatcom 4 17
Whitman 1 783
Yakima 55  
Total 432 1939

That’s 2371 disputed ballots in all, most from precincts that heavily favored Dino Rossi.

Yes, most of the mishandled provisional ballots were legally cast, but then so were most of the mishandled provisionals in King County. If you are interested in more than just inflammatory rhetoric, the important number to look at is the votes cast by felons, as this is the heart of the Republican’s lawsuit. In the outside chance the court might accept a “proportional reduction,” the 432 illegal ballots alleged by the Democrats are more than enough to offset the GOP’s King County felons, and still maintain Christine Gregoire’s lead. And Democrats promise that there are more coming.

All in all, not a good day for the Rossi camp, though I doubt it was much of a surprise. Their research clearly cherry-picked irregularities in pro-Gregoire precincts, and it would have been silly to expect the Democrats not to fight fire with fire.

I should, however, note one difference between the way the Democrats have gone about this and the way the Republicans have. The Democrats have not released the names of the alleged felons to the media, only the numbers. They have issued subpoenas, seeking to determine if any of these people should be removed from their felon list, before their names are unfairly made public. For this they should be commended.

by Goldy, 04/30/2005, 12:37 AM

The Seattle P-I reports that the Democrats have sent the GOP a list of 428 felons who cast illegal votes in the November election, mainly from pro-Rossi parts of the state.

Eventually, state Democratic Party Chairman Paul Berendt said, his side expects to meet or beat the total of 946 felon voters the GOP has claimed in its legal challenge to the election.

What…? In a state where meth labs are popping up faster than Starbucks, you didn’t expect to find a few felons outside of Seattle city limits?

Hopeless Senate hopeful and GOPolitburo Chair Chris Vance tried to put the best spin on it:

“The more the better,” Vance said. “They’re just proving our central point, which is that this election was so messed up, there’s no way to tell who won.”

Yeah… and that would be a great central point Chris, if the standard for setting aside the election was uncertainty. But the statute and case law are pretty damn clear that Rossi has to actually prove that Gregoire lost… and that’s why the GOP pinned their hopes on the court accepting a proportional analysis.

Yup, for the past couple of weeks its been proportional analysis this and proportional analysis that… and now that somebody’s bothered to look at the rest of the state for illegal votes, all of a sudden Vance is back to the “it’s a total mess” bullshit. Hoo-boy… sure sounds like an admission of defeat to me.

UPDATE:
And for those of you who don’t trust the P-I, the Seattle Times says the Democrats found 432 felons in 31 counties, including:

65 in Spokane, 55 in Yakima and 35 in Clark. In King County, Democrats say, they found 31 felons from Rossi strongholds.

Now how’d the BIAW Rossi camp miss those 31 felons in King County? They weren’t cherry picking, were they? Naaww… that would be dishonest.

by Goldy, 04/29/2005, 11:40 PM

Ooops. Almost forgot to give you guys your weekly sandbox. Hey… let’s see if we can try to keep some of the off-topic stuff in here where everything is on-topic.

by Goldy, 04/29/2005, 3:35 PM

[NWPT42] This morning I received a phone call from Detective Melinda Wilson, of the Seattle Police Department’s Internet Crimes unit, investigating allegations that I have repeatedly made “online requests” to “engage in sex with minors.” Apparently, one or two individuals have anonymously made three separate complaints to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) CyberTipline.

I cannot tell you how deeply disappointed I was to receive that call.

But of course, I’ll try.

I understand that I piss people off, and have come to terms with the fact that if I am to continue to honestly, openly and passionately express my views, I am going to attract the occasional threatening phone call or antisemitic email. And since my lack of anonymity makes me an easy target, I am aware that there is always a risk, however slight, that some rhetorically hopped-up right wing wacko — unable to effectively combat my words with his words — may resort to a deadlier weapon.

But this… this is beyond the pale.

There are few crimes more heinous or despicable than molesting children. But it is not the false accusation that offends me most, but rather, that precious resources have been diverted from investigating real crimes against real children… all so that my anonymous accusers could enjoy some sort of petty, political retribution against me for having the gall to speak my mind. In their mad rush to crush dissent, these conscienceless, cowardly brownshirts were even willing to exploit the exploitation of children, making themselves accomplices to the worst sorts of sexual predators.

You want to fuck with me…? Use a little imagination! There are plenty of ways to do it without harming innocent children in the process. But this shameless harassment not only shows how little my accusers care for the lives of innocents — and how much they truly hate democracy, hate free speech, and hate America — it is also a sad illustration of how fat and lazy some righties have grown on their spoon-fed media diet of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News.

What the fuck were they thinking? … “I don’t like what this guy writes on his blog, so I’ll just accuse him of being a pederast. After all, he’s a dirty, immoral liberal… everybody will believe it.”

[Deep breath.]

Before I continue, I should take a moment to reassure my friends (and respectful enemies) that I am not under any criminal investigation, so I should suffer no repercussions from this incident beyond this morning’s disturbing phone call. The police have a responsibility to follow up on all such allegations — as they should — and I appreciate how informative and supportive Det. Wilson was in explaining the circumstances. I was relieved to learn that the NCMEC actually receives very few fraudulent complaints, and these, like mine, tend to clearly stand out as such. I did not ask Det. Wilson whether she would investigate my accusers for criminally making a false complaint — in truth, I’d prefer the police use their limited resources to investigate the types of crimes of which I was accused.

I do not know if these accusations were the work of one or two isolated wackos, or the dirty trick of one of the right-wing organizations I frequently skewer. But either way, we should not lightly dismiss this incident, as I think it is representative of the growing mass hysteria emanating from some on the hard right’s angry fringe. Listen to talk radio, or read the posts on the right-wing blogs, or even in the liberally moderated comment threads here, and you’ll see that there is no crime, no moral outrage of which some on the right believe their opponents are not capable. This demonization of “the other” not only provides the justification for attacks such as I have suffered, but I fear it also represents a kind of mass projection that gives us a disturbing glimpse into what these people are capable of themselves.

Still, I suppose I should be flattered by the attention… or even grateful. For while the likes of Michele Malkin and Matt Rosenberg apparently feel the need to manufacture outrage over alleged left-wing conspiracies, my accusers have obligingly provided an example of how low some on the right are willing to go to punish those who dare to disagree with them.

I suppose there’s a reason the right-wing blogs are so intolerant of anonymous trolls… if they don’t know who you are, they can’t get you.

by Goldy, 04/29/2005, 12:00 PM

As reported Thursday in the King County Journal, Dino Rossi has once again firmly denied that he plans to run for U.S. Senate against incumbent Sen. Maria Cantwell:

Rossi, however, seemed to slam the door on that possibility Wednesday.

“I have four small children and I’m not sure how I’d make it work with the family without upheaval and difficulty for the kids. So, that really is not my focus,” Rossi told the Journal during an interview at his campaign headquarters in downtown Bellevue.

“My focus is running for governor and being governor of the state of Washington and turning the state around. So I’m not running for the U.S. Senate. I’m running for governor.”

Indeed, Rossi officially launched his 2008 gubernatorial campaign back on December 8, 2004. And I take him at his word that he’ll continue running for governor for another three and a half years. At least.

Of course, not everybody puts as much faith in Rossi’s honesty as I do. GOPolitburo Chair Chris Vance is such an accomplished liar himself, that he gets dizzy with cognitive dissonance at the thought of believing anything that comes out of a fellow politician’s mouth. And so he equivocates:

“There are people and organizations who will want to change his mind,” Vance said. “The senate campaign committee will try to persuade him otherwise.”

Or so Vance fears.

I have long speculated on Vance’s own comically grandiose quest for his party’s Senate nomination, an ambition I’m told he impetuously let slip as early as last election night (possibly after tipping back a few too many celebratory toasts.) But with the eventual nominee being chosen via a caucus in Karl Rove’s office, the odds of a Vance candidacy are about as good as that of Rossi winning his lawsuit. (Translation: “not good.”)

And finally, for those of you who think I’m just a partisan, flame-throwing windbag, I’d like to toot my own horn for a moment by congratulating myself on my sharp, analytical skills. While others have dwelled on the dynamics of a Rossi-Cantwell horse race, I have repeatedly stated that Rossi would not run for the Senate in 2006, (to borrow Marsha’s self-referential methodology)… here, here, and here. One can come off looking awfully foolish putting one’s political prognostications on the record, so you can’t blame me for patting myself on the back when one of my predictions comes true.

Speaking of which, you heard it here first: Maria Cantwell 52%, Rick White 47%.

by Goldy, 04/29/2005, 1:29 AM

Of all the contributors to (un)Sound Politics, Matt Rosenberg is perhaps the one who I kinda, sorta, maybe, almost respect the most. His politics are less predictable, his vitriol less vitriolic, and his writing more writerly than his fellow Drudge wannabes. But judging from his most recent post, I fear his coconspirators may be driving him snark raving mad.

Following the lead of conservative blogger-babe Michele Malkin, Matt bravely alerts the public to the latest threat from the vast liberal “moonbat” conspiracy: a nationwide plan to vandalize newspaper boxes on May 9!

Yes, if there was ever rock-solid evidence of the ever-present dangers emanating from us “Left Coast Lunatics,” it would be the um, anonymous posting of a poorly spelled call to arms, on Seattle IndyMedia’s “open-publishing wire,” that at last check has received fourteen comments… all of them negative. Meanwhile, the thread on Matt’s own (u)SP post contains several comments supportive of vandalizing the liberal press, including one idiot who suggests targeting “blue” businesses in general. Okay… that last comment was facetiously posted by me, but that’s besides the point.

The point is that the normally kinda, sorta, almost responsible Matt apparently has no qualms about casting aspersions on “Seattle moonbats” by citing a bullshit post of unknown provenance on an open blog, as evidence that the left is filled with idiots, sociopaths and common criminals. This would be like concluding all of HA’s readers are homophobes, because one of my anonymous, whacked-out holy-trollers apparently gets a kick out of typing the word “bunghole.”

It’s dishonest, misleading, and just plain lazy. And I would assume, embarrassing.

You’re better than this Matt.

by Goldy, 04/28/2005, 5:38 PM

Powered by Bigotry
Graphic courtesy of Mike Tidmus via The General.

I’ve laid off this story for a couple days, and there’s really not much information I can add to it that you won’t already find in the concise, fact-filled, link-laden, blog-like summation by Chuck Taylor on the Buzz page of The Seattle Weekly. Except maybe that Microsoft pays God Squad pretty boy (and hypocritical con-artist) Ralph Reed $20,000 a month in consulting fees.

Taken aback by the media storm over the company’s reversal of their longtime support for HB 1515 (and subsequent revelations,) Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates seemed almost apologetic — at least for Gates — promising The Seattle Times that um, next time… maybe, uh… they’ll reconsider, um… we’ll see.

The response to the stories surprised Microsoft. “Well, we didn’t expect that kind of visibility for it,” Gates said. “After all, Microsoft’s position on a political bill

by Goldy, 04/28/2005, 11:07 AM

I scan the Philadelphia Daily News online almost every day. Well… the sports pages, at least. But HA reader Spyder pointed me towards a column in Tuesday’s edition, by Temple University statistics professor Josh Mitteldorf: “My Election 2004 bad dream.”

Working with the National Election Archive Project, Prof. Mitteldorf co-authored a controversial statistical analysis of the November 2004 exit poll discrepancy; the exit polls predicted a Kerry victory by 3.0%, whereas the official tally had Bush winning by 2.5%… a discrepancy that cannot be attributed to chance. The report concludes that there is a strong case that “significant irregularities” occurred.

“The absence of any statistically plausible explanation for the discrepancy between Edison/Mitofsky’s exit poll data and the official presidential vote tally is an unanswered question of vital national importance that demands a thorough and unflinching investigation.”

Writing in the Daily News, Prof. Mitteldorf addresses straight on the common perception that people like him are conspiracy theorists:

On a recent flight to Nashville, I sat next to a man who asked what I was writing. Preparing a talk, I told him, for a conference of people sharing evidence that the 2004 presidential election was stolen. Without missing a beat, he asked. “Isn’t that next door to the convention on UFO sightings?”

Prof. Mitteldorf then proceeds to describe the “sober professionals, none who seem overtly loony” he met at the conference, who have reported to have uncovered massive voting irregularities throughout the nation.

I met David Griscom, a retired physics prof who spent months with colleague John Brakey poring over election tapes, signature rosters and “consecutive number registers” from Brakey’s Tucson home precinct.

They audited and verified, one by one, the 895 votes in the precinct and found: 12 innocent and unsuspecting voters who had their names duplicated on the roster and their votes for Bush counted twice. Twenty-two “undervotes” where the machine had failed to register a preference for president, and these had been dutifully and meticulously converted to 22 votes for Bush.

The “Republican” and “Democratic” co-directors of the polling place were a local fundamentalist preacher and his wife. Thirty-nine of their parishioners from another precinct had cast provisional ballots, which were (illegally) converted to regular ballots and passed through, all 39 for Bush.

I met Richard Hayes Phillips, a geologist from New Hampshire who was invited to Ohio to study the integrity of the vote, and realized that a complete inventory of lost and miscounted votes was needed. To date, Phillips has analyzed 15 of Ohio’s 88 counties, and by his most conservative estimate has found 101,000 uncounted Kerry votes – 136,000 is the margin by which Bush officially defeated Kerry.

I heard Clint Curtis talk about working in 2001 as a programmer for Yang Enterprises in Florida. He was assigned to a meeting with State Senate Speaker Tom Feeney, who asked to have a program written into the software that controls voting machines so that the totals could be manipulated without leaving a trace. Curtis, the whistleblower, is now unemployed. Feeney, the politician, is now the U.S. representative from Florida’s 24th Congressional district.

I was inspired to hear the travails of Ohio lawyer Cliff Arnebeck. After the Green Party raised $200,000 and obtained authorization for a recount in Ohio, Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell staged a charade in which every state rule about the conduct of the recount was thrown out, and two hand-picked precinct captains emerged from behind locked doors to report that yes, indeed the numbers were exactly right and all was hunky dory.

As my regular readers know, I have been reluctant to report on allegations of a stolen presidential election, but it is clear that there were significant voting irregularities in Ohio and elsewhere. Likewise, I have said little about a controversial statistical analysis of the results from Snohomish County, which by the way, is now rumored to be quietly considering scrapping their touch-screen voting machines (over the objections of County Auditor Bob Terwilliger) after numerous incidents of “calibration errors” and a number of election day complaints from voters, that screens registered a vote for Rossi when they intended a vote for Gregoire.

I have shied away from these allegations because there is no proving them, and I did not want to engage in the same sort of rumor and innuendo that passes for news on the right-wing blogs.

But as we prepare to head into the seventh month of unprecedented scrutiny of King County Elections, I’m just getting sick and tired of a double-standard that permits somebody like Slade Gorton — a former U.S. Senator and WA State Attorney General — to get away with the ridiculous “conclusion” that “King County has the worst election administration” in the nation.

Fuck you.

Many of the problems discovered in King County were systemic statewide, including mishandling of provisional ballots, and an inability to sufficiently screen the voter rolls for felons. And while there were dozens, possibly hundreds of potentially valid ballots left misplaced and uncounted in King (as well as other counties,) they represent a tiny fraction of the total ballots cast.

But for all the problems, it was nothing like the shit that went on elsewhere. It was in North Carolina where a computer inexplicably and irretrievably erased thousands of votes. It was in Ohio where tens of thousands of voters in urban precincts were forced to wait for hours in the rain, and where one precinct gave George Bush 4,258 votes out of 638 ballots cast. It was in Florida where tens of thousands of legal voters — mostly minorities — were wrongfully purged from the rolls, and where some voting machines were found to have actually counted backwards!

Yet question for a moment whether Bush actually won either of his elections, and the righties will laugh you off as “aluminum hat boy.” Meanwhile, the paranoid, partisan shills on the right-wing blogs and talk radio freely use words like “fraud” and “corruption” to describe our so-called “stolen election”… going so far as to suggest that Dean Logan deserves jail time.

What’s lacking from the Republican’s steady attack on the integrity of Logan and King County Elections, is perspective. There is no evidence of fraud, no evidence of conspiracy, and no evidence of official misconduct. The election was conducted in an extraordinarily transparent fashion, and has been excruciatingly scrutinized… and while a number of disturbing mistakes have been uncovered — mistakes that can clearly be fixed — they would have been insignificant if not for the bizarrely close gubernatorial election. Thus to attack our election as a “total mess” while dismissing the massive problems reported in Ohio, Florida and elsewhere, is an act of shameless hypocrisy.

If Rossi’s attorneys can prove that irregularities cost him the election, then he will prevail in court. But if they want to continue to characterize King County as having the “worst elections” in the nation, then it’s the Rossi folk who should be wearing the aluminum hats.

by Goldy, 04/28/2005, 1:28 AM

Oh my God… another 50 uncounted ballots have been discovered in incredibly corrupt and incompetent King County. No wait… they were discovered in Pierce County. Sorry. But King County Elections did just stunningly reveal another 164 unverified provisional ballots… oh wait… that was in Pierce County too. But there were another 37 unverified provisionals, right? Um… yeah… but that was in heavily pro-Rossi Benton County.

Wait… I’m confused. I’ve been reading the right-wing blogs and listening to talk radio, so I thought only Democratic King County made mistakes. My brain hurts!

by Goldy, 04/27/2005, 11:42 AM

In the aftermath of a sometimes contentious legislative session, Ken Vogel reports in The News Tribune today on a heartwarming display of bipartisanship… plans by the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian parties to reach out across the aisle(s), join hands, and sue the state in federal court to scrap the “Louisiana style” Top-Two primary system enacted by Initiative 872 last November.

Rarely does an issue serve to bring political foes so close together: Democrats and Republicans, Paul Berendt and Chris Vance… Goldy and the Snark?!

Yeah, that’s right… both Stefan and I came out against I-872, and rather strongly. Stefan called it a “dumb idea,” cogently arguing that it would weaken parties.

Those who don’t like political parties might think this is an attractive outcome, but bear in mind that parties provide important services to the democratic process (that’s why all democracies have them). These services include: organization, fund-raising, coalition-building, candidate recruitment and training, and most importantly the development of stands on issues and the ability to help voters identify candidates with a particular set of positions. If the parties wither away, other institutions will step in to fill the void.

Yeah, um… like the BIAW. Just look at their influence in the so-called “nonpartisan” race for the Supreme Court, where they single-handedly got Jim Johnson elected to the bench. And as Stefan explains:

In the absence of party organizations that tie candidates to platforms and identifiable coalitions of interest groups, elections will degenerate even more than they are into personality contests. Candidates who already have, or can purchase name recognition will have an even greater advantage than they have today: incumbents, wealthy individuals, moneyed interests and celebrities will all come away with even greater advantages than they have today. So will those who control media organizations and would be in an even stronger position to promote their favorite candidates.

Of course, the tool that he is, Stefan might just have been acting as a mouthpiece for his GOP overlords, but I choose to take him at his word (as long as it suits my purpose.)

In my own pre-election endorsements, my stated opposition to I-872 was decidedly more blunt:

“Waaahhhh! I want my blanket primary!”

That’s pretty much what voters and editorialists have been crying ever since the Supreme Court threw out Washington’s odd “blanket” or “open” primary.

Well get over it!

Besides, contrary to popular belief, I-872 does NOT restore the blanket primary… instead it replaces it with the equally odd but decidedly more stupid “Louisiana-style” top-two primary. Yes, I-872 gives you more choice in the primary, but it does so by giving you less choice in the general election… and that, after all, is when the majority of people actually vote.

I always felt reducing choice in the general election was the most compelling argument against top-two, but it would inevitably reduce choice in the primary as well. As it stands, Vance strongly discourages primary challenges in key statewide races (I don’t call him “GOPolitburo Chair” for nothing,) and the top-two format only serves to incentivize this antidemocratic trend towards strict party unity. For example, Democratic runner-up Mark Sidran nearly out-polled Rob McKenna in the September primary. If this had been a top-two primary, and McKenna had faced a serious challenger, only Sidran and Deborah Senn would have made it to the November ballot.

As the TNT reports, the parties understand this, and that is why they are planning to opt out of the primary system while they wait for their lawsuit to wend its way through the courts.

In the meantime, in the eight counties holding partisan elections this fall, the parties are trying to bypass the September primary, the first one under the new Top Two system. Instead, they’re pledging to use caucuses and conventions in which party activists pick candidates.

“That’s not what the voters thought they were voting for,” said Chris Vance, the state Republican Party chairman.

Yeah, no kidding Chris.

This maneuver will likely spark a second lawsuit. The state GOP has sent a letter to King County Elections:

“Only the candidates nominated by the Republican Party will be eligible to use the Republican name in the September primary,” the letter reads.

Not so, said King County elections director Dean Logan. He plans to send a response this week stating that anyone who files to run as a Republican will appear on the primary ballot as such.

As soon as Logan puts his decision in writing, Vance plans to sue King County, arguing the top-two violates his party’s First Amendment right to associate… and both the Democrats and Libertarians plan to join in. They will ask the court to reinstate the Montana-style system, or at the very least, allow the parties to chose their nominees via convention or caucus.

What I find most fascinating about this whole issue is that despite their rare show of bipartisan unity and cooperation, the parties have managed to blunder their way into the current disaster. The old blanket primary is probably starting to look pretty good to Berendt and Vance right about now.

Don’t get me wrong… I thought the old primary sucked. An open primary is an oxymoronic method for a party to choose its nominees, and ridiculously susceptible to gaming the system with cross-over votes for weak candidates. I should know: I’m an unrepentant Ellen Craswell and John Carlson voter.

But while I was as happy as anybody to see the old system tossed, you’d think the geniuses who challenged its constitutionality might have thought a little bit ahead about what might replace it. Was it really so hard to imagine that in a state that routinely uses the initiative process to send a big “Fuck You” to Olympia, the electorate might finger the party bosses with something worse?

If anything, this whole debacle just serves to prove the value of divisive, partisan politics. After all, just look at the shit they get themselves into when the parties are in total agreement.

by Goldy, 04/27/2005, 1:07 AM

I hope the Seattle P-I forgives me for pushing the “fair use doctrine” beyond its limits, and reprinting this Letter to the Editor from Monday’s edition, in its entirety:

I am a correctional officer at a major state correctional institution. I am a supporter of Gov. Christine Gregoire.

Reading of the Republicans’ assertion that statistics support the likelihood that felons voted for Gregoire, I have to raise a big red flag.

Based upon my observations of felons in prison, it is highly unlikely that most felons voted for Gregoire. It is more likely that felons would have voted for Dino Rossi.

During the long election contest, many inmates expressed their opinions to me. Inmates seemed attracted to Rossi because they would rather vote for a man and also because Rossi was promising to shake up state government.

The biggest reason felons are unlikely to have voted for Gregoire is her former occupation: state attorney general. Convicted felons do not support prosecuting attorneys. Many felons expressed concern that Gregoire might be too tough on them.

As one of my history teachers used to say, “Facts lie, and liars have facts.” The statistical analysis of the Republicans is not valid, because there are too many other factors that affect the way felons vote. Criminals do not support attorneys general.

Greg Senderhauf
Forks

Senderhauf’s comments reminded me of a Letter to the Editor in The Olympian, back in February. Brydon Stewart, recently released from a federal prison after serving 16 months for growing marijuana, wrote that the vast majority of his fellow inmates favored Republicans. Why?

Because in their view, Republicans were the virile, tough, action-taking, man’s-man party, while liberals and Democrats were reviled as soft, weak, passive, femme

by Goldy, 04/26/2005, 3:18 PM

Just a reminder that the Seattle chapter of Drinking Liberally meets again tonight (and every Tuesday,) 8PM, at the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue E. I can’t make it tonight, but I’ll pop open a PBR at home in a show of solidarity.

Also, The Olympian will be holding a live chat with WA Speaker of the House Frank Chopp, tomorrow at noon. If you have a question for Frank, you can submit it here.

by Goldy, 04/26/2005, 11:52 AM

I just downloaded Dean Logan’s 476-page deposition. Actually, the “redacted” version the Republicans provided to the Seattle Times is only 436 pages. That’s still a helluva lot of pages, but you can’t blame me for being curious about the GOP’s “40-page-gap.”

Needless to say, I haven’t had time yet to read the deposition for myself, so I’m not ready to comment on it directly, but please feel free to read it for yourself and use this thread to start debating the highlights (or lowlights, depending on your point of view.)

David Postman and Keith Ervin do a bit of preliminary reporting in today’s Seattle Times. Amongst the somewhat newish tidbits revealed, the number of mishandled provisional ballots in King County was closer to 785 (122 of which were unverifiable), three additional absentee ballots were found in the base of voting machines, some valid ballots were mistakenly rejected due to errors in the voter-registration database, and 208 ballots were set aside because they needed further research (some of which were later determined to have been valid, post-certification, after um… further research.)

When Logan was asked about his failure to implement recommendations issued last May in an Elections Oversight Committee report, Logan said that he simply didn’t have the time:

“We had to consider what changes in polling processes were the most easily achieved in time for a brand-new election in September in a manner that could contemplate the literally thousands of election-board workers being able to absorb and comprehend those changes in time to administer the fall elections,”

This is completely consistent with what was previously explained to me in my conversations with Logan and his staff. Prior to release of the report, they had already started implementing a new voter registration system — including all new software — and their primary focus was completing this transition as smoothly as possible before the September primary and November election. They knew about problems with provisional ballots, and they knew about inefficiencies in the voter credit process… but they had to complete the implementation of the new voter registration system before they could move on to other priorities.

As Adams County Auditor Nancy McBroom (a Republican) told me, “it’s hard to wave your wand or twitch your nose and fix everything at one time.” Given unlimited resources, perhaps Logan and his staff could have addressed more issues at once… but then, he wasn’t given unlimited resources, was he?

Yes, mistakes were made. But it in evaluating this election it should be remembered that while evidence of additional errors and mishandled ballots have been trickling out for months, giving the appearance of an election department in a constant state of disarray, the majority of these errors actually occurred all at once, in an intense and compressed period time, on election day and in the first few days that followed. Whether mishandled provisional ballots were discovered and revealed on one, two, three or more occasions is immaterial, for they were all mishandled on election day. And while handfuls of misplaced ballots have been discovered on several occasions, they were all misplaced at the same time.

And in a final irony, many of the errors by King County Elections workers — which Rossi and his surrogates have attempted to spin into a tale of Democratic corruption — actually disadvantaged Christine Gregoire! Remember, if that infamous batch of “no signature on file” ballots had been properly processed, Gregoire would have won the machine recount, and Rossi would have been widely perceived as a poor loser for paying for a hand recount that would have expanded Gregoire’s lead.

Whatever.

I’ll slog through the deposition and come back with my observations later. But I think Democratic attorney David McDonald’s savvy observation likely sums up its legal impact:

“If the transcript was available this morning and they didn’t have a press conference this afternoon, my conclusion is they probably didn’t pick up much.”

For a Rossi team that has fought this contest at least as aggressively in the court of public opinion as they have in the court of a law, their silence is deafening.

by Goldy, 04/26/2005, 9:56 AM

While we’re in reporting-the-obvious mode, ooops….

Allegations that Terri Schiavo had been abused or mistreated were international news in the final days of her life. Now the truth is being revealed about those baseless charges, but nobody is paying attention.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer ordered the release of nine abuse reports compiled by the Department of Children and Families at the request of the St. Petersburg Times and other news organizations. The reports list 89 complaints between 2001 and late 2004 about Schiavo’s care, including dozens that came in around the time her feeding tube was removed for short periods in 2001 and 2003.

The number of complaints substantiated by state investigators who made unannounced visits to Schiavo: 0.

They often praised the care Schiavo received, and they never found Michael Schiavo withheld care from his wife or was discourteous.

So I’m guessing all you self-righteous righties who attacked Michael Schiavo as an abusive monster, are going to take this thread as opportunity to post a sincere apology, right?

by Goldy, 04/26/2005, 1:39 AM

Ooops….

In his final report, the CIA’s top weapons inspector in Iraq said yesterday that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction has gone “as far as feasible” and has found nothing, closing an 18-month investigation into the purported programs of Saddam Hussein that were used to justify the 2003 invasion.

“As matters now stand, the WMD investigation has gone as far as feasible,” wrote Charles Duelfer, who led the Iraq Survey Group. “After more than 18 months, the WMD investigation and debriefing of the WMD-related detainees has been exhausted.”

No WMDs in in Iraq? Let’s see now, how can we spin this? Um… uh… I know: mission accomplished!

by Goldy, 04/25/2005, 12:57 PM

It always struck me as odd, the Bush administration’s vehement opposition to the reimportation of American-made pharmaceuticals from Canada, where they are often available for as little as half the U.S. price. The administration cites “safety concerns” as the reason it blocks Americans from buying drugs from other countries… a truly absurd notion when we’re talking about Canada for christsake.

Yeah sure, Canadians are technically foreigners… in the same way that the Scottish aren’t British and the Taiwanese aren’t Chinese. But to paint Canadians as “the other” is kind of like saying that North Dakotans are somehow less Dakotan than South Dakotans. I mean, let’s be honest… here in Seattle, we have a helluva lot more in common, culturally and politically, with our neighbors in Vancouver, British Columbia than with our fellow countrymen in say, Columbia, South Carolina.

It is thus laughable to “protect Americans” from half-priced statins, while a truly noxious Canadian import like Alan Thicke is permitted to freely cross the border.

Like most Democrats, I had simply dismissed the Republicans’ hard stance on Canadian drug reimportation as payback for millions of dollars in political contributions from a U.S. pharmaceutical industry eager to protect its huge profit margins. But recent events have suggested an ulterior, more devious motive.

Pharmacists across the nation are now refusing to fill prescriptions for morning-after pills and other forms of birth control, saying that dispensing such medications violates their personal religious beliefs.

An increasing number of clashes are occurring in drugstores across the country. Pharmacists often risk dismissal or other disciplinary action to stand up for their beliefs, while shaken teenage girls and women desperately call their doctors, frequently late at night, after being turned away by sometimes-lecturing men and women in white coats.

“There are pharmacists who will only give birth control pills to a woman if she’s married. There are pharmacists who mistakenly believe contraception is a form of abortion and refuse to prescribe it to anyone,” said Adam Sonfield of the Alan Guttmacher Institute in New York, which tracks reproductive issues. “There are even cases of pharmacists holding prescriptions hostage, where they won’t even transfer it to another pharmacy when time is of the essence.”

That is what happened to Kathleen Pulz and her husband, who panicked when the condom they were using broke. Their fear really spiked when the Walgreens pharmacy down the street from their home in Milwaukee refused to fill an emergency prescription for the morning-after pill.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Pulz, 44, who with her husband had long ago decided they could not afford a fifth child. “How can they make that decision for us? I was outraged. At the same time, I was sad that we had to do this. But I was scared. I didn’t know what we were going to do.”

Legislatures in twelve states have already passed or are considering passage of “conscience clauses” to protect pharmacists who refuse to dispense medication they find personally objectionable. In many areas of rural America, where a trip to the next closest pharmacy might entail a 100-mile drive, this exercise of conscience on the part of the pharmacist can effectively trump the medical decision of doctor and patient. And with giant retailer Wal-Mart displacing small town pharmacies throughout the nation, millions of Americans could find their access to birth control and other medications resting in the hands of a single corporation… a corporation that has already proven itself sympathetic to, and easily cowed by, pressures from the extreme, religious right.

Make no mistake… the right-wing Christian fundamentalists who have seized control of the Republican leadership are not only intent on outlawing abortion, but most, if not all forms of birth control as well. And so it occurred to me… what is the use of limiting access to birth control in this country, if it can be easily purchased from our neighbors to the North?

Now some might think it a paranoid reach for me to conjecture that the current ban on reimportation of drugs from Canada is somehow connected to the religious right’s war on birth control. But it would be naive to believe that the Dobsons and Perkins and DeLays of this world aren’t at least as devious as me. It is hard to say to what degree the right’s moral agenda drives its unshakeable opposition to drug reimportation, but you can be sure that the thought has certainly crossed their minds. These are people, after all, who have shown themselves to be exceedingly imaginative at devising ways to impose their world view on others.

And so, while Bush is clearly a shill for the pharmaceutical industry, it is fair to wonder if there is more to his firm opposition to drug reimportation than meets the eye. This is a religious war… and as in all wars, it is of paramount importance to secure one’s own borders.

by Goldy, 04/25/2005, 10:32 AM

From the day it was launched, Pacific Northwest Portal instantly became a must-have bookmark for anybody interested in perusing progressive news and views from the Pacific Northwest. The Portal aggregates feeds from dozens of blogs in Washington, Oregon and Idaho (including yours truly,) and serves as a one-stop-shop for progressive news and information resources.

Andrew at the NW Progressive Institute has been hard at work making the portal even better, including a new Highlights section and the addition of fourteen new blogs, for 106 in all. You can read about the changes on the NW Progressive Blog… which by the way, has received some significant updates of its own.

UPDATE:
As TJ points out, Andrew has posted a diary about Pacific NW Portal to DailyKos, and it needs only a couple more “recommends” to make the hot list:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/4/25/11208/6109

by Goldy, 04/25/2005, 12:45 AM

If you haven’t already done so, please read Frank Rich’s column on Justice Sunday in the New York Times: “A High-Tech Lynching in Prime Time.”

Anyone who doesn’t get with this program, starting with all Democrats, is damned as a bigoted enemy of “people of faith.” But “people of faith,” as used by the event’s organizers, is another duplicitous locution; it’s a code word for only one specific and exclusionary brand of Christianity. The trade organization representing tonight’s presenters, National Religious Broadcasters, requires its members to “sign a distinctly evangelical statement of faith that would probably exclude most Catholics and certainly all Jewish, Muslim or Buddhist programmers,” according to the magazine Broadcasting & Cable. The only major religious leader involved with “Justice Sunday,” R. Albert Mohler Jr. of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has not only called the papacy a “false and unbiblical office” but also told Terry Gross on NPR two years ago that “any belief system” leading “away from the cross of Christ and toward another way of ultimate meaning, is, indeed, wicked and evil.”

Another great column by Rich. Read the whole thing.

by Goldy, 04/24/2005, 12:08 PM

In a rare fit of frankness, our good friend Stefan over at (un)Sound Politics recently posted the following comment:

The P-I is almost as eager to expose King County corruption as is that blog with the veterinary proctology fetish.

This is an admission that, by comparison, Stefan is “eager to expose King County corruption.” So eager, that it clouds his judgment.

For example, in reporting on the depositions of Dean Logan and Bill Huennekens, Stefan concludes that King County “fraudently [sic] certified” the November election, constituting a “Class C felony.” Of course, Stefan hasn’t actually seen the depositions, but that’s okay, because he got the information directly from a totally reliable, objective source: GOPolitburo Chair Chris Vance. Um… Vance hasn’t actually seen the depositions either (nobody has… the court reporter hasn’t made the transcripts available yet,) but you can be sure his information is rock solid… because it came directly from Rossi’s attorneys. And as we all know, a lawyer representing a client in a legal case is always the best place to go for objective, spin-free, totally reliable information.

Not!

Yes, Stefan is so eager to uncover corruption, that he bases his conclusions on Vance’s spin of Rossi’s attorneys’ selective presentation of Logan’s recollection. And then he has the gall to follow up this exercise in irresponsible journalism by attacking the P-I for not covering these “damaging revelations”…? You know, revelations like….

3) there was inadequate accounting on blank ballots. How many were printed, how many were returned unused; how many ballots were printed “on demand” in the office, or which of the office staff even had the access and ability to print ballots on demand

4) polling place inspectors (who were appointed by the Democrat Party this year) got blank ballots to take home on Friday before the election; the number is known only to the nearest 20. The inspectors were not asked to account for and return any remaining unused ballots after the polls closed. They were simply instructed to destroy them.

Wow… Democrats printed blank ballots on demand, took them home, and never accounted for them! I can see how one might easily conclude that this damaging revelation is evidence of Democratic corruption… but since neither Stefan nor I are experts at election procedures, I decided to ask somebody who is… the always helpful Lawyer X. And as he explains, there’s no revelation here at all.

[The inspectors] get a shrink-wrapped package of sequentially numbered ballots in a quantity estimated to be what they need, rounded up to the next 20. On election day they bring the shrink-wrapped ballot to the polling place where they join the democratic and republican judges and observers. There have been no complaints that anyone showed up with the shrink wrap broken. The election workers are required to write down the ballot stub number they start with and the one they end with, to return all unused ballots to king county and to account for all ballots used or spoiled. There is no news here.

There are records of the purchases of the ballots, which are printed by Diebold and come shrink wrapped. It is correct that the software for the ballot on demand system does not record the number of ballots printed but the ballots are only printed at the counter in the main election office, in response to over the counter absentee ballot requests or at MBOS in order to make a replacement ballot.

I’m still not exactly sure what the “ballot on demand” system is, but I understand that King County is not the only county to use it. So what we’re talking about here are standard procedures which may sound suspicious to people who don’t know what the fuck they are talking about, but which in the end are really unremarkable, um… standard procedures.

Still, if you’re eager to find corruption, even standard procedures look pretty damn suspicious.

As I said in my interview on Up Front with Robert Mak, Stefan started with the conclusion that Democrats stole this election, and he has gone about desperately trying to twist the evidence into supporting his thesis. That’s fine. That’s a lot of what partisan bloggers do. And that’s why he’s perfectly comfortable drawing conclusions from third-hand accounts of depositions on election procedures he knows nothing about.

But real journalists, like those at the P-I, see their job as reporting the facts. And my guess is that they’ll continue to refrain from reporting on the depositions until they actually see them. Even then, it wouldn’t surprise me if the P-I got a few of the facts wrong… but at least it would be an honest effort, as opposed to the kind you get over on (u)SP.

by Goldy, 04/23/2005, 9:08 AM

I’m not kidding… these theo-fascists are scary, scary folk, intent on establishing God’s dominion over earth… which of course really means their dominion over us. They despise our Constitution as a document of the Enlightenment, and seek to replace it with a theocratic republic. But short of a military coup, they cannot achieve their Dominionist agenda without first undermining the independence of the judiciary, destroying a check and balance crucial to keeping America the world’s oldest functioning democracy.

However as the Los Angeles Times reports, impeaching judges apparently takes too damn long, so Evangelical Christian leaders and top Republican lawmakers — impatient to reach the end of times — are plotting a short cut: shutting down the courts entirely.

Evangelical Christian leaders, who have been working closely with senior Republican lawmakers to place conservative judges in the federal courts, have also been exploring ways to punish sitting jurists and even entire courts viewed as hostile to their cause.

An audio recording obtained by the Los Angeles Times features two of the nation’s most influential evangelical leaders, at a private conference with supporters, laying out strategies to rein in judges, such as stripping funding from their courts in an effort to hinder their work.

Both Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay participated in the conference, which was led by Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, and Focus on the Family founder (and certified nutcase) James C. Dobson. The conference discussed all sorts of creative ways of punishing, hindering or removing judges who don’t strictly adhere to biblical orthodoxy.

“There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and there’s more than one way to take a black robe off the bench,” said Perkins.

Man… what is this thing religious extremists have against cats?

Perkins said that he had attended a meeting with congressional leaders a week earlier where the strategy of stripping funding from certain courts was “prominently” discussed. “What they’re thinking of is not only the fact of just making these courts go away and re-creating them the next day but also defunding them,” Perkins said.

He said that instead of undertaking the long process of trying to impeach judges, Congress could use its appropriations authority to “just take away the bench, all of his staff, and he’s just sitting out there with nothing to do.”

For his part, Dobson was even more focused and sinister in his approach. He doesn’t much like the composition of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, but unfortunately, judges take way too long to die. (By natural causes.) His solution?

“Very few people know this, that the Congress can simply disenfranchise a court,” Dobson said. “They don’t have to fire anybody or impeach them or go through that battle. All they have to do is say the 9th Circuit doesn’t exist anymore, and it’s gone.”

That’s right, just click your heels together and we’re all in Kansas.

These people have no respect for man’s law. They hate secularism. They hate the Constitution. They hate America.

The right-wing Evangelical extreme is taking over the Republican party, and for all you economic conservatives out there who look at your alliance with these people as a cost of maintaining a Republican majority, I have a warning for you: when they’re finished with people like me, they’ll be coming after you next.