by Goldy, 05/31/2005, 5:18 PM

Once again anti-business Democratic legislation is pushing jobs and businesses out of state:

Now that Washington state lawmakers have restricted over-the-counter sales of the ingredients used to make the illicit drug, some officials are worried that Idaho will see an increase in meth-related crimes.

“I feel very sorry for you (Idaho) because you will feel the aftermath of it now,” said Washington Rep. Tom Campbell, D-Roy. “Boise will become the preferred shopping mall of meth cooks in the area.”

Pseudoephedrine now accounts for as much as 7% of total revenues at some rural Washington Wal-Marts (second only to amonium nitrate,) while meth labs have become the state’s fastest growing industry. So it’s no wonder business groups are concerned about this overreaching legislation.

Jan Teague, president of the Washington Retailers Association, said businesses are worried about the cost of complying with the new laws and possibly losing customers who see the log as an invasion of privacy.

If you ask me Jan, I think you may have the makings of a voter revolt. You better contact John and Kirby over at KVI and see if they can help you get an initiative on the ballot.

by Goldy, 05/31/2005, 10:09 AM

It’s all over the news wires… one of the most intriguing political mysteries of the last half century may have finally been solved:

A former FBI official claims he was “Deep Throat,” the long-anonymous source who leaked secrets about President Nixon’s Watergate coverup to The Washington Post, Vanity Fair reported Tuesday.

W. Mark Felt, 91, who was second-in-command at the FBI in the early 1970s, kept the secret even from his family until 2002, when he confided to a friend that he had been Post reporter Bob Woodward’s source, the magazine said.

“I’m the guy they used to call Deep Throat,” he told lawyer John D. O’Connor, the author of the Vanity Fair article, the magazine said in a news release.

Still waiting for confirmation from Woodward and Bernstein.

UPDATE:
The Washington Post has confirmed that Felt is indeed Deep Throat.

by Goldy, 05/31/2005, 9:51 AM

[NWPT48]It’s week-two of Dino Rossi’s quixotic election contest trial, and I’m much more looking forward to this week’s proceedings than last week’s proceedings… mostly because this week is only four days long. That said, I’m guessing the Democrats’ testimony will be even more boring than the Republicans’, since at least the latter offered the tiniest prospect of dramatically producing a smoking gun.

Anyway, I’ll be following the proceedings live, and updating this post with tidbits and observations as they happen; if you are a connoisseur of tedium you can follow along on TVW. And as always I recommend you occasionally check out David Postman’s trial updates in The Seattle Times.

If wishes were horses, then Stefan would ride
On Saturday, our good friend Stefan over at (u)SP predicted that Dino Rossi would prevail, and the election would be set aside. So here’s my prediction: Stefan is delusional. (Some might argue that’s not so much a prediction, as a statement of fact.)

Okay… maybe Stefan’s not delusional. Perhaps he fully understands Rossi has lost, and his bold prediction is part of some propagandistic strategy that I’m just not clever enough to fathom. Or perhaps Stefan isn’t nearly as smart as I’ve given him credit for. He could just be wrong. Hey… people make mistakes… there’s no shame in that.

But I think it is just wishful thinking.

Nixon goes to Chelan (10:40 am)
State Elections Director Nixon “Nick” Handy is on the stand, talking about the challenges all the counties faced in conducting November’s election. Under questioning from Democrat attorney Jenny Durkan, Handy is outlining errors throughout the state, and after each example, he agrees that there is no evidence of fraud. The goal apparently is to show that there was nothing unusual or nefarious about the problems in King County.

At this moment, Handy is explaining that voter crediting is “administrative housekeeping,” and not generally a record of the number of people who cast votes:

“Many if not most auditors opted to go back and credit voters after the election was certified.”

He emphatically insists that comparing the number of people credited with voting and the number of ballots counted is not a measure of the authenticity of the election.

Handy not “appalled” (10:53 am)
Sec. of State Sam Reed had been quoted in the press as saying he found some of the mistakes in King County Elections to be “appalling.” Durkan asked Handy if he agreed with his boss’s assessment, and he bluntly said “No.” He described the problems as “inadvertent mistakes and errors of human beings who are working their hearts out,” and insisted there was no evidence of an attempt to sway the election or affect votes in one way or another.

On the topic of felon votes, Handy stated that voter registration is based on “the honor system” and that it simply would not be possible to do background checks on all registrants.

Durkan has finished her questioning, and the Republicans will cross after a 15 minute recess.

Rah rah sis koom bah (11:32 am)
Republican attorney Dale Forman called Handy a “cheerleader.”

Liberal blogger David Goldstein called Forman an “asshole.”

Rossi PR “unfair and inaccurate” (12:06 pm)
Forman doesn’t like Handy’s answers. So now he’s getting mad at him, accusing him of deliberately trying to undermine Rossi’s case. (Um… Dale… you are suing the SoS… you expect them to make your case for you?) In response, Handy made clear his own opinion about the GOP’s dishonest misrepresentation of this election, stating that their “public affairs campaign” was:

“…undermining the trust and confidence of the average voter in the election system, in a way that is unfair and inaccurate. I believe that.”

Court is in recess until 1:15 pm.

TVW fraudulently goes down (1:58 pm)
The court is back in session, but apparently TVW is not. About 10 minutes in, the stream went down, and I now I can’t even get to their website. So since I have no idea what is happening, I’ll just pretend I’m one Rossi’s attorneys, and make stuff up.

Attorney Dale Foreman shifted tact after lunch by telling state Elections Director Nick Handy that he had “pretty eyes.” When Handy responded that Foreman had liquor on his breath, Foreman angrily attacked Handy for being non-responsive, and insisted that he answer the question. Democrat Attorney Jenny Durkan objected on the point that Foreman had not actually asked a question. After some discussion, Foreman rephrased his question: “Nick… do I have pretty eyes?” Handy said that he didn’t really know, prompting Foreman to tearfully object to his own question. At this point, counsel approached the bench, and the Judge ruled that Foreman did have pretty eyes, but that the evidence was not admissible.

Oh… the TVW feed is back on. Damn it.

John Carlson (3:00 pm)
Ooops… almost forgot… Stefan and I will be on the John Carlson Show again today at 3:15 pm, KVI-570. And again, the rest of the week.

Perjury (3:58 pm)
Nothing breaks the tedium of following this godawful boring trial, quite like arguing with John and Stefan on KVI. It’s especially fun when Stefan shows his true neo-McCarthyite self, like this afternoon when he essentially accused Dean Logan of perjury. Well… he insisted that was my word, not his… but that’s the legal definition of lying on the witness stand.

Ah well, nothing riles up the right like veiled threats of imprisoning public officials.

Oh boy… recess! (4:39 pm)
Court has recessed for the day. We’ll come back bright and early with Dean Logan, who Stefan has accused of perjury, which is a convenient way of saying that anything he says that might hurt Rossi’s case is a lie, whereas anything he says that might help him is a grudging admission.

by Goldy, 05/31/2005, 8:59 AM

In a rare news conference this morning, President Bush was typically childish in attacking an Amnesty International report on Guantanamo:

President Bush called a human rights report “absurd” for criticizing the United States’ detention of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and said Tuesday the allegations were made by “people who hate America.”

When on occasion I must be stern with my daughter, it doesn’t mean I love her any less. And just this morning I reprimanded our new puppy (she dropped my Koran in the toilet,) but that doesn’t mean I hate her. Likewise, it is possible to love America, and be critical of her at the same time.

Our democracy is based on the free exchange of words and ideas. If anybody can be accused of “hating America” it is those who attempt to squelch public debate by dangerously branding all critics as traitors.

by Goldy, 05/30/2005, 5:45 PM

I’ll be back on the Kirby Wilbur Show, KVI-570, Tuesday morning at 7:30 am. Kirby and I will be discussing why Dino Rossi will surely lose his election contest.

Oh… I’ll also be back on The John Carlson Show, KVI-570, at 3:15 pm, discussing the same thing with John, and our good friend Stefan.

UPDATE:
If you’re interested, here is a clip from today’s show.

by Goldy, 05/30/2005, 12:15 PM

[NWPT48]One of the curious patterns I’ve noticed in the election contest trial, is how frank Rossi’s attorney’s have been with reporters after a long day of dishonesty in court. They opened the week by alleging “sinister fraud” and ballot box stuffing, claiming that this was enough to set aside the election. And yet at week’s end, the Republican’s lead attorney, Mark Braden, once again admitted to The Olympian that the key to their case is still proportionate deduction:

“If [Judge Bridges] says we have to show how individual voters voted, we lose,” Virginia-based Republican lawyer Mark Braden said Friday afternoon.

So not even Rossi’s attorneys believed that their own sloppy charges of fraud were grounds for setting aside this election. They acknowledge that they can’t win without proving that Rossi actually got the most votes. And oops… that’s exactly what they didn’t prove last week in court.

by Goldy, 05/29/2005, 1:50 PM

[NWPT48]There was a consistent theme to my appearances on The John Carlson Show. Each day both John and Stefan saw a series of Republican victories, while I remained nonplussed. Much of their legal optimism — manufactured or not — was based on the fact that Rossi’s attorneys won nearly every ruling or objection; Judge Bridges is clearly intent on allowing Rossi to present his entire case, such as it may be.

But as David Postman points out in his rather measured analysis in Sunday’s Seattle Times, looks can be deceiving.

There’s no question that Bridges’ rulings through the first five days of trial have almost exclusively benefited Republicans. But that may not be good news for Republicans.

There’s a belief among attorneys that a judge who thinks one side is likely to win will rule in favor of the other on evidentiary and procedural motions. That’s to reduce the likelihood that the case will be reversed due to a technical error, said University of Washington Law School professor Robert Aronson.

“But decisions like that have been known to backfire,” he said. The trial judge could be swayed if enough unfavorable evidence gets in, including some that should have been excluded.

Aronson said that’s more likely to happen with a jury trial. A judge in a bench trial

by Goldy, 05/29/2005, 12:43 PM

Has anybody seen people gathering signatures for I-900, Tim Eyman’s superfluous performance audits initiative? He’s got the sugar daddy, so he’s got the money… and he claims to be spending it. But I haven’t seen a single signature gatherer myself.

This weekend kicks off the stretch drive of the signature gathering season, so I’d welcome reports of where you’ve seen petitioners, professional or otherwise. Particularly for those of you attending Folklife and other such events, a little recon would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

by Goldy, 05/29/2005, 12:12 AM

The theme of the “case” presented by Dino Rossi’s attorney’s last week can pretty much be summed up by former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton’s embarrassing statement of April 6:

“I think it’s appropriate to come to the conclusion that King County has the worst election administration in any county in the United States of America.”

What the fuck?

Forget for a moment that most of the alleged illegal votes were not the result of official error. And ignore the fact that Republican allegations of errors in King County have been overblown, and deliberately taken out of context. Regardless of what really happened in KC, a claim such as Slippery Slade’s would actually require a comparative study.

And one place to look might be, gee… I don’t know… Florida?

In the wake of their incredibly screwed up 2000 election, Miami-Dade County spent $24.5 million to move from punch card ballots to touch screen voting machines. Now in the wake of another incredibly screwed up election, the Supervisor of Elections has recommended scrapping the system and moving to optical scan.

After repeated embarrassing glitches at the polls, elections officials in Miami-Dade County have recommended scrapping the county’s $24.5 million electronic voting system in favor of paper ballots with optical scanners.

Supervisor of Elections Lester Sola made the recommendation Friday in an initial analysis of the county’s voting system and the feasibility of adopting a new one. In his report, Sola said that adopting the simpler system could save county taxpayers millions and restore voter confidence by providing a paper record of ballots cast.

In April, an outraged Mayor Carlos Alvarez requested a study on the merits of the optical scan system after revelations that the Elections Department lost hundreds of votes during the March 8 slot machine referendum because of a coding error.

Ooops.

The fact is, errors occur in every election, and while I’m sure there were many counties that performed better than King, you can be certain that there were plenty that performed much worse, in Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin and elsewhere. (And by the way… I hear rumor that Snohomish County is quietly considering scrapping their touch screen machines too, much to the consternation of Auditor Bob Terwilliger. Hmm… I wonder why?)

Yes, the number of errors in this election exceeded Christine Gregoire’s margin of victory. But it is curious that Republicans would argue that this alone is reason to set aside the results and hold a new election, when they never suggested the same for the presidential election in 2000.

by Goldy, 05/28/2005, 9:28 AM

[NWPT48]Week one trial wrap-up: Dino Rossi lost the election, and now he will lose his election contest lawsuit. Justice will be served.

I’ll follow up with a more detailed analysis, but I just want to reiterate for a moment my sense that this entire trial is sham. The GOP spent good money on good attorneys, and you can be sure that going into their opening arguments they had a pretty good understanding that this was a lost cause. But they decided to drag the state through it anyway (and I’m guessing again, in the inevitable Supreme Court appeal), simply because they believe they can use this as a forum for scoring political points in the court of public opinion.

That may be true, and that may constitute shrewd political strategy. But it is fundamentally dishonest, shows great disrespect for the law and the courts, is counter to the very purpose of the contest statute, and in the long term, may be very harmful to our democracy.

Rossi and his surrogates have tried to argue that the Legislature couldn’t possibly have intended to make proving a contest this hard, but I believe that by their very disregard for the statute, they are proving the wisdom of its authors. The bar was set so very high, exactly to prevent contests from being abused for pure political gain in the way the Republicans are now frivolously attempting. Yes, Rossi has every right to pursue a contest, but he also has the responsibility to the voters of this state to drop his challenge and concede, when faced with the reality that he cannot prevail in court. And that reality became absolutely obvious to all but the most impartial observers weeks ago, when the Democrats produced their list of offsetting illegal votes, making it impossible for Rossi to prevail, even on his own dubious proportional deduction theory.

But instead of conceding, Rossi’s attorneys concocted a bold opening statement, filled with bold lies, promising proof of stuffed ballots and other fraudulent acts on the part of King County Elections officials. They have not only failed to prove these charges, they failed to present a single scrap of direct evidence to support them.

Unable to actually put Rossi in the Governor’s Mansion, the Republican’s focus has been to make Gregoire’s win a Pyrrhic victory. Listen to the right-wing blogs and talk-radio… they’re laughing at Democrats for failing to prove their case to the public, even as the GOP attorneys flop in court. This has been a week about smearing Democrats in general — and King County in particular — and they intend to harvest the anger and suspicion they’ve lovingly sown, in upcoming election battles against Ron Sims, Maria Cantwell, and Democratic candidates across the state. Utilizing their own peculiar political alchemy, the Republicans have managed to transform the consolation prize — public opinion — into a trophy more coveted than the Governor’s Mansion itself.

One can only hope that like their leaders in the other Washington, our local GOP has also overreached. Sims is as formidable a candidate as David Irons is weak, and voters will clearly see Cantwell’s main opponent as the Bush/Delay/Frist agenda, regardless of who Karl Rove eventually recruits to run against her. Beyond these two elections, memory of this contest will fade, and Gregoire will eventually run for a second term on the basis of her record in office, not the baseless charges of fraud that have been irresponsibly leveled against her.

And the big loser in all this — in court, at the polls, and in public opinion — will be Dino Rossi. That is, if justice extends outside the courts.

by Goldy, 05/27/2005, 11:24 PM

Man there’s a lot of shit going on the threads. Looks like you all really need this sandbox. Fire away.

by Goldy, 05/27/2005, 11:13 AM

Let me be the first to call for Attorney General Rob McKenna’s resignation. Or at the very least, a very public mea culpa.

Yesterday in the Tacoma News Tribune, Ken Vogel reported on McKenna’s outspoken support for the Building Industry Association of Washington’s (BIAW) efforts to unseat Gov. Christine Gregoire: “Attorney general lauds GOP ally for collecting evidence.” The BIAW gathered much of the “evidence” used by Republicans in their election contest lawsuit, and financed the bulk of Rossi’s unprecedented and dishonest PR campaign to convince the public that this was a stolen election, regardless of the facts. That McKenna would sympathize with these efforts is no surprise, but that he would be so blatant in his public praise for the BIAW at the same time his office is charged with defending the secretary of state — the primary defendant in the suit — is at the very least unethical… if not a total disgrace.

“He’s supporting the entity that’s suing him and it is totally inappropriate for someone who is defending the secretary of state’s office,” said State Democratic Party Chairman Paul Berendt.

McKenna gave the keynote speech at a BIAW meeting, and he was unequivocal in his praise for both the organization, and it’s prominent and controversial role in the election contest. How blatant were his comments? Well, the BIAW, in their typical arrogant fashion, quotes a few of them for us in its March newsletter.

Attorney General Rob McKenna was the keynote speaker at the BIAW General Membership Luncheon at the Board of Directors meeting in Olympia. McKenna praised BIAW’s efforts in electing pro-business candidates in the November election, as well as for the association’s ongoing efforts to aid Dino Rossi’s legal challenge by finding illegal felon votes. McKenna noted BIAW made the most efficient and effective use of its campaign resources, using creative and high impact ideas to achieve the “biggest bang for a buck.” “BIAW is powerful, principled and effective — three important attributes,” said McKenna. “BIAW isn’t intimidated. BIAW doesn’t wilt under pressure,” he said. “That’s why the left fears BIAW. If every organization was as principled, it would be a far better state.” McKenna concluded his speech by thanking BIAW for its fearless and courageous leadership, and encouraged the association to keep up the battle.

Creative ideas? Oh… you mean like mailing out a fraudulent survey to hundreds of Seattle residents in an effort to trick them into giving up their signatures. High impact efforts? I suppose that might be the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on direct mail, billboards, radio, and print advertising proclaiming “Felons vote, Soldiers don’t,” when in fact all the evidence shows that military ballots were mailed on time, and returned in similar percentages as regular absentee ballots. Pro-business candidates? Yup, that would be candidates like McKenna, on whom the BIAW spent millions of dollars in “independent expenditures” electing.

But regardless of how much McKenna owes his victory to the BIAW and its vicious, partisan hackery, as our state’s elected Attorney General, he steps far outside accepted notions of propriety in lauding and encouraging their role in suing his client. Given ass-licking statements like this, how can we expect McKenna’s office to impartially defend the state from lawsuits he clearly wants the state to lose? In closely following the court proceedings I have been taken aback when the secretary of state’s attorneys frequently side with the Republicans suing them. While the state’s attorneys have generally presented well reasoned arguments, being reasonable is not their job; our legal system is adversarial, and their job is to defend the secretary of state as vigorously as possible… as vigorously as the Republicans are pursuing their case.

McKenna does not have the luxury of picking and choosing cases to defend… he must defend the state from all lawsuits, and to the best of his office’s ability. When Christine Gregoire was attorney general, her office vigorously defended Tim Eyman’s stupid initiatives, as she was required by law. Hell… she even sued me to prevent me from putting my “horse’s ass” initiative on the ballot. That’s the type of impartial, nonpartisan execution of the office we’ve come to expect from our attorney general. And that’s the type of ethical and moral compass Rob McKenna clearly lacks.

When our state’s top law enforcement officer chooses to exercise his power for partisan political gain, all our citizens are at risk.

by Goldy, 05/27/2005, 10:38 AM

[NWPT48]This morning the Democrats are expected to ask Judge Bridges to dismiss the case. He’s not gonna, but I’d much prefer spending the afternoon in my garden than listening to this boring regurgitation of boring minutia. Still, I suppose I better tune in, if only to have something intelligent damned entertaining to say on the Carlson Show this afternoon. As always, The Seattle Times’ David Postman is once again providing regular trial updates.

Double, double toil and trouble
The attorneys pretty much spent the better part of a half hour arguing over the admissibility of evidence of a handful of double voters. Once again, Judge Bridges ruled to include the evidence even though the R’s missed statutory deadlines. Big whoops. Now they’re arguing over the admissibility of more evidence. Surprise.

Pro-Rossi partisans may take solace in the fact the Democrats’ attorneys continue to raise objections to admitting evidence, and the Judge continues to shoot them down, despite missed deadlines and other technical violations of the rules of evidence. Personally, I’m happy having all the evidence admitted, so that when the Judge eventually rejects the contest on the evidence, the Rossi folk can’t complain that they were cheated.

Dismissal? (11:47 am)
The Republicans have finished presenting their evidence, and the Democrats are now arguing a motion to dismiss the case. The Judge won’t, but it’s their job, and apparently it’s all a part of a vigorous defense. Which of course, begs the question: why isn’t the attorney general putting on just as vigorous a defensive on behalf of the attorney general?

Thoughts on the testimony of Nicole Way (12:01 pm)
My daughter falsified her math homework. Of course, she claims that she thought the numbers were accurate, based on the best information available at the time. But she failed to properly show her work, as required by the instructions, so one can only conclude that her answer was clearly fraudulent. I am very disappointed in her.

I bet Judge Bridges is hungry (12:41 pm)
The Republicans are taking advantage of the Democrats’ motion to dismiss, to practice their closing statement. They’re taking issue with some of the Judge’s previous rulings, including the precedent of Foulkes, and the standard of proof. Considering the court usually breaks for lunch at noon, I’m wondering if it’s so smart to criticize the Judge while his tummy is rumbling?

Judge rejects motion to dismiss (1:14 pm)
No surprise.

Carlson Show at 3:15 (1:51 pm)
Stefan and I will be back on the John Carlson Show this afternoon, KVI-570, at 3:15 pm. We’ll be disagreeing about stuff, and then when Stefan can’t come up with a rebuttal, he’ll just ridicule my assertions, and dismissively move on to something else. Tune in.

He said, He said (2:59 pm)
In rejecting the Democrats motion to dismiss, Judge Bridges said:

“I cannot imagine that our ladies and gentlemen of the state Legislature ever contemplated the situation we find ourselves involved with today, where the parties and their attorneys have spent not less than six months trying to figure out what happened here and trying to collect evidence to support their various theories.”

Stefan over a (u)SP thinks this telegraphs something that bodes well for the Republicans. Hmm. In the context of a motion to dismiss, I think that’s a little bit of over analyzing and wishful thinking. I’m curious what you all think.

GOP charges a sham (3:51 pm)
Just finished the Carlson Show, and we spent the last segment debating Danny Westneat’s column into day’s Seattle Times: “Shame on GOP for trial sham.” Read the whole thing.

Clark County couldn’t reconcile ballots (4:20 pm)
The Republican attorneys have argued that King County Elections stole the governor’s mansion from Dino Rossi, either through gross incompetence or outright fraud (or both.) They would like you to believe that only King couldn’t reconcile.

I wasn’t paying any attention, but David Postman reports that under questioning from Jenny Durkan, Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey admits that they couldn’t reconcile either, leaving 57 more absentee ballots, and 32 more poll ballots than voters.

Durkan: “Is the fact that you were able to reconcile the polling places within 32 an indication to you, as the auditor, that there was any kind of fraud in Clark County?”

Kimsey: “No.”

Kimsey also described King County elections director Dean Logan as a well respected auditor in the state with deep knowledge of state and national election law.

by Goldy, 05/26/2005, 11:16 PM

If you’re waiting for Dino Rossi’s legal team to prove their allegations of fraud and ballot stuffing, don’t hold your breath, because today they finished presenting their evidence with a whimper, not a bang. Not even the GOP’s lead attorney is convinced, admitting:

“I cannot point to anybody who committed fraud. We’re just saying clearly the opportunity was there and it looks suspicious.”

Um… I’m not an attorney, but I’m guessing that doesn’t quite meet the standard of “clear and convincing.”

Much of the fourth day was spent in a “Frye hearing” in which both sides argued whether the Republican’s proposed proportional deduction methodology is accepted science. I guess I should provide a wrap-up of the days events, but I don’t really feel like it. I’m tired, I’ve got other things I’d rather write about, and besides… what the hell do I know? So instead I’m going to leave the wrap-up to DJ, an HA regular, and real life statistician.

The Frye hearing started out with Professor Katz on the stand, being grilled about the binomial and multinomial methods he proposed to “fix” the election. Katz came off as nervous (“squirrel-like” comes to mind), defensive and even evasive. Much of the testimony seemed to be Mr. Burman trying to get admissions out of Katz about limitations of his method for adjusting a statewide election. As he did in his deposition, Katz repeatedly resorted to “my analysis is conditional on the data” as a way to avoid discussing the non-representativeness of the GOP felon voter list. Burman had to press hard, but finally got Katz to admit that if the underlying assumptions are violated you can get the wrong answer. My (possibly biased) opinion is that Katz’s weaseling answers and telescopic interpretations of questions did not leave a good impression on Judge Bridges.

In contrast to Professor Katz, Professor Adolph was calm, friendly and composed. He gave an outstanding summary of the problems in Katz’s analysis. Adolph’s expertise is ecological inference, and he gave an excellent summary of the issues. He then provided two examples of a so-called “ecological fallacy.” The first concerned estimating Ichiro Suzuki’s batting average using league or team statistics. The second example was to estimate the sex of felons using Katz’s method of ecological inference, and sex proportions at the county level. The resulting 95% confidence interval was that between 44 to 50 percent of the felons were male. The true proportion is 75 percent

by Goldy, 05/26/2005, 4:34 PM

According to The Seattle Weekly, Microsoft will be sending religious conservative operative Ralph Reed a pink slip with this month’s $20,000 consulting fee. It could be a result of the bad publicity Microsoft received after dropping support for gay rights legislation in the wake of threatened retaliation from Christian conservatives. Or, it could be because of Reed’s own ethical and legal problem. In any case, The Weekly reports that Reed isn’t the only Republican hired-gun accused of influence peddling, with whom Microsoft has had a long standing business relationship.

One source notes that Reed was on a Microsoft retainer while helping run the George W. Bush presidential campaigns of 2000 and 2004, raising ethical questions. But Reed now has gone a step further and filed to run for public office himself

by Goldy, 05/26/2005, 1:48 PM

Hey… real news. The first of what will be many civil decisions and convictions to come down against Tom Delay and his associates:

In the first major legal decision involving associates of Representative Tom DeLay, a Texas judge ruled today that a political action committee formed by Mr. Delay had broken campaign finance laws as it propelled the Republican Party into power in the Texas House in 2002.

Eventually, the Bugman is going to be squashed.

by Goldy, 05/26/2005, 9:23 AM

[NWPT48]I can’t tell you how disappointed I was to wake up this morning and find the TVW feed still working. Ah well, I suppose I better listen, and update this post as warranted. As always, The Seattle Times’ David Postman will also be providing regular trial updates.

The big news today should come out of the Frye hearing, in which the Court will hear the scientific basis for allowing the GOP’s proportional deduction methodology.

Here comes the exciting part…
That is, if you call testimony from statisticians exciting. The Dems have finished crossing Clark Benson, and the R’s main expert witness, Jonathan Katz has been called to the stand, so finally, the Frye hearing begins. Katz nervously commented to the judge that he’s never done this before, and didn’t know how this was going to work. To which Judge Bridges amusingly responded, “Well, I think Mr. Burman is going to work you over.”

Sure hope so. Stay tuned….

Burman works over Katz (9:54 am)
Polite, but firm. (Okay, now he just made a comment that wasn’t so polite, demanding that Katz look at him and answer the questions, rather than looking furtively to Rossi’s legal team for help.) Katz refuses to vouch for the reliability of the data set, and cannot say whether it was a scientifically designed or random sample.

Witness needs more water (10:15 am)
Katz has asked the court for more water. Burman’s thirst producing questioning focused both on the reliability of the data, and accepted scientific standards. Burman read from several sources that Katz vouched for, which laid out the principle that even the best available methods of ecological inference can be “wildly inaccurate,” and that in political science it is unreliable to infer from aggregate data. Katz admits that his statistical model relies on several assumptions, including “neighborhood homogeneity” and the reliability of the data.

Burman has finished with Katz (for the moment.) The Democrat’s statistical expert, Christopher Adolf, will testify after the morning recess.

Mmm… herring (10:33 am)
I took advantage of the break to surf around and see what others are writing, and I thought I’d point out this gem from our good friend Stefan over at (u)SP:

Burman brings up the red herring of the “ecological fallacy”.

That’s right, when you don’t have a rebuttal, just ridicule and dismiss the opposing side’s argument. Sheesh… sometimes I think Stefan practices his rhetorical technique by reading instructions from a how-to book. I Googled “ecological fallacy” and got 15,800 hits. Research it for yourself.

Good social science starts with good data (11:01 am)
That is the testimony of Prof. Adolph. Under Burman’s questioning, he is really tearing apart the GOP’s statistical analysis. I’m too busy listening to the testimony to comment in detail, but much of what Adolph testified to was covered in DJ’s excellent analysis of the his declaration here.

Adolph is now being cross-examined, and still sounds pretty confident.

Why not ask them? (11:21 am)
The Republican’s main refutation of Prof. Adolph’s testimony is that he is a non-tenured, former graduate assistant of the Prof. Katz, who he is now criticizing. Under cross-examination, Adolph suggested that an accurate way for determining the votes of felons might be to conduct a survey. When asked how one would possibly conduct such a survey, he bluntly proposed “since we have a list of illegal voters, I suggest asking them.”

They’re done with Adolf, and moving on to Prof. Mark Handcock.

GOP whimsy (12:51 pm)
Under questioning from Burman, Prof. Handcock stated that the “Principle of Insufficient Reason” was regarded in the statistical community as a “whimsical” notion. What wasn’t whimsical was the way the GOP attorneys tried to discredit Handcock, by showing that he doesn’t write about election data. Not surprising, considering he’s a statistician, not a political scientist. I know they’re just doing what lawyers do, but still, that doesn’t mean they don’t come across as assholes.

The main battle was over whether the GOP’s statistical methods could be applied to available evidence. The Democratic experts argued that the data was neither a scientific sample or represented the “universe” of illegal ballots. The Republicans’ response was that if the court accepted these ballots as the universe, then the methodology would be good. Handcock made a distinction between law and science.

The main point, is that while one could perform such an analysis on the available data, it still wouldn’t be scientific, no matter what the court ruled. And the R’s fight back that, well… the Dems don’t offer an alternative. But bad science is bad science.

This whole exchange is kind of like my eight-year-old getting pissy because she wants a bagel for breakfast and I don’t have one. I can’t give her what I don’t have. Likewise statistics simply doesn’t offer the court good science to accurately estimate for whom felons voted.

Court is adjourned until 1:30, and I’m taking my puppy for a walk.

John Carlson Show again at 3:15 (1:34 pm)
I just got a call, and John has invited Stefan and me back on the show today and tomorrow at 3:15 pm. I assume we’ll be talking about herring.

Court’s back in session. More later….

How the Judge WILL rule on Frye (2:03 pm)
I predict the Judge will adopt the Sec. of State’s position, that the evidence is admissible, but that it may not meet the “clear and convincing” standard of proof. This would be consistent with his rulings all along, that he allows nearly all the evidence in, and will eventually make his ruling on the evidentiary findings, not a point of law. This will make it very difficult to appeal.

How the Judge DID rule on Frye (2:16 pm)
Well, um… he didn’t.

Judge Bridges enunciated his “desire to make sure that as much evidence is available as possible” to the Supreme Court, which as I previously stated, has been his wont all along. And so he deserved to reserve ruling on Frye until later, and though it may not meet the letter of Frye, permit the parties to go ahead and present their cases. He did, however, address GOP attorney Mark Braden directly on the subject: “I have concerns.”

So… I suppose my prediction was somewhat accurate. The evidence will be presented, but he hasn’t necessarily accepted the science (indeed, he telegraphed that he might not.) That will be decided later, as well as the issue as to whether it meets the standard of proof.

And that bit of non-news was the biggest piece of news all week.

What David said (4:45 pm)
The court adjourned early today, and I have no idea why. After 45 minutes on the Carlson show and fielding a couple phone calls, I came back to find it all over. Not that I probably missed anything, as they were just taking testimony from expert witnesses who had previously been deposed. But if you’re really curious, I’d suggest you just read the latest updates from David Postman.

by Goldy, 05/26/2005, 9:03 AM

[NWPT46]After all the shit thrown at Newsweek for reporting allegations that interrogators at Guantanamo had flushed the Koran in a toilet, it turns out an FBI memo corroborates the charges:

The declassified document’s release came the week after the Bush administration denounced as wrong a May 9 Newsweek article that stated U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo had flushed a Koran down a toilet to try to make detainees talk.

The official memo was one of several the ACLU obtained via FOIA requests, and released yesterday. The documents describe a number of reported abuses at Guantanamo.

Former detainees and a lawyer for current prisoners previously have stated that U.S. personnel at Guantanamo had placed the Koran in a toilet, but the Pentagon has said it also does not view those allegations as credible.

In document written in April 2003, an FBI agent related a detainee’s account of an incident involving a female U.S. interrogator.

“While the guards held him, she removed her blouse, embraced the detainee from behind and put her hand on his genitals. The interrogator was on her menstrual period and she wiped blood from her body on his face and head,” the memo stated.

A similar incident was described in a recent book written by a former Guantanamo interrogator.

Newsweek should never have allowed themselves to be pressured into retracting the story. They had allegations, and they reported them. That’s what journalists do. By caving in to political pressure they have left the impression that a) the story was definitely wrong, and b) that it in fact triggered the protests in Afghanistan in which 16 people died. Neither perception is more credible than the original Newsweek story itself.

I expect some of my righty readers to angrily disagree with me, as you have already taken much solace in demonizing Newsweek. So I would like to point out a parallel to some local current events. While you seem offended that Newsweek would print such allegations without absolute proof, you seem to have no compunction that Dino Rossi’s attorneys would charge fraud and ballot stuffing in a court of law, without presenting direct evidence to such. Just strikes me as a tad hypocritical.

by Goldy, 05/26/2005, 1:43 AM

[NWPT48]I’m scanning the headlines coming out of Wednesday’s testimony in the election contest trial, and curiously, I don’t see any mention of stuffed ballots or fraud. And yet… this was the day the Republicans put the two witnesses on the stand who were supposed to prove the hyperbolic allegations that Dale Foreman made in his opening arguments.

Nicole Way insisted that she did not know the mail ballot report was inaccurate at the time she produced it, undermining charges that it was “fraudulent” or even “falsified.” And the non-expert testimony of GOP operative Clark Bensen was less than convincing. He examined 11 King County precincts (out of 2600) where there were a handful more — or less — ballots counted than voters credited, and somehow concluded that this was evidence that 875 ballots were stuffed. Whatever.

Apart from Thursday’s Frye hearing on proportional deduction, Rossi’s attorneys have pretty much finished presenting evidence. And that’s basically the sum total of the fraud theory.

As they have since the very first hearing, the R’s continue to cite the Foulkes case as precedent that the election can be set aside without proving that Rossi actually received the most votes. In Foulkes, ballots had been left unsecured, and there was clear evidence that a number of ballots were fraudulently altered as a result. One could argue that King County’s inability to reconcile absentee ballots was equivalent to the unsecured ballots in Foulkes, in that it might have created an opportunity for fraud… specifically, ballot stuffing. But unlike Foulkes, the Republicans have failed to present a single scrap of evidence that fraud — in the form of ballot stuffing — actually did occur.

The only fraud to have been proven thus far at trial, was the fraudulent claim of such in the Republican’s opening argument.

by Goldy, 05/25/2005, 10:04 AM

[NWPT48]It’s beautiful outside, and like an idiot, I’m sitting inside, watching the pointless proceedings from Wenatchee again. Oh well… I guess I might as well write about it. And as always, I urge you to check out David Postman’s “straight, cogent” trial dispatches.

Counting ballots the Nicole way
King County Elections mail ballot supervisor Nicole Way has strapped on her Depends and mounted the witness stand, where Republican attorney Harry Korrell will spend the next few hours trying to trick her into semantically contradicting the testimony in her deposition. Every time he succeeds, bells will go off in the courtroom, while balloons and confetti rain down from a trap-door in the ceiling. My understanding is that Davis Wright Tremaine’s contract with the GOP stipulates that the first attorney to secure a perjury conviction, wins a new Cadillac Escalade. Sweet.

Of course, the main purpose of her testimony is simply to recycle headlines of Way’s faulty mail ballot report, the centerpiece of GOP allegations of fraud. So this should be dramatic testimony, right? Right?

Meanwhile, on Zoboomafoo, the gang learns about different breeds of horses and how to care for them.

Losing focus (11:40 am)
It looks like the Seattle Times’ “straight, cogent” David Postman is having as much trouble keeping focus as I am. Postman’s last three trial updates have reported on “political celebrities” and judicial quips. With no actual news to report, his occasional updates are reminiscent of the tiny inhabitants of that speck of dust in Horton Hears a Who, yelling “We’re here! We’re here!” I know you are David, and I feel for you. But at least you are getting paid.

Anyway, after a brief recess, Democrat attorney Jenny Durkan has started her friendly, cross-examination of Nicole Way.

In other news, Mister Rogers shows how exercising, such as jumping rope, is good for you.

Breaking News: court breaks for lunch! (12:04 pm)
The court has adjourned until 1:30 for lunch… and I’m guessing a few drinks as well. When they return, Democrat attorney Jenny Durkan will finish her cross-examination of Nicole Way, which has managed to make the circumstances surrounding the erroneous mail ballot report sound much less “sinister.” Later this afternoon, the Judge will conduct the “Frye hearing” on the admissibility of the GOP’s proportional deduction methodology.

Meanwhile, the Boohbahs do a bending exercise, while in Storyworld, Aunty finds three droopy flowers. Can Mr. Man help her water the flowers in time?

Snarky Radio (1:57 pm)
A big thanks to Stefan over at (un)Sound Politics for reminding me that I’ll be back on the John Carlson Show with him, KVI-570, at 3:15 pm. Though according to the Snark, I’m only there for comic relief. Hmm. Well, I am “damned entertaining.”

For those of you who can’t bear to listen to right-wing talk radio, over on Dragonfly TV, youngsters check out alligators in Florida, snakes in Minnesota and worms in California. Also: entomologist Betty Faber, who specializes in cockroaches.

GOP calls cloture on Way filibuster (2:42 pm)
Nicole Way has finally been excused from the stand, but not before Jenny Durkan managed to extract the following statement about the mail ballot report:

“Before the 95 were found, I did not know the number was inaccurate.”

The point is, even though she couldn’t get the necessary reports out of the ballot tracking software to verify the numbers, she did not know that they were wrong at the time. She just couldn’t verify them. Now criticize her for being sloppy, or making a bad decision if you want… but this is not “fraud.” Hope somebody was paying attention.

Anyway, while I’ve been providing my own snide coverage and Postman has been scratching his head to provide some straight, cogent analysis (yet another update featuring a judicial quip), TJ at Also Also once again dazzles us with his intelligence by actually writing a coherent summary of the morning session. Hey TJ… you think Way looks weary? You should see the bags under my eyes.

The court is now taking a brief recess, but over on Reading Rainbow, LeVar Burton visits a New Jersey amusement park. Also: Arnold Stang narrates the story of “Archibald Frisby.”

Blinded by science… (3:44 pm)
And apparently deafened as well. The Frye hearing has started in Wenatchee, in which Judge Bridges will eventually rule on the admissibility of the GOP’s proportional deduction methodology… not that I’d know, considering the TVW internet stream is down. I don’t have cable, but apparently they’re missing audio on cable too. Andrew over at NW Progressive tells me that TVW has a power outage at their retransmission facility in Olympia.

Fortunately, PBS Kids is experiencing no such problems. Postcards from Buster visits Hinesburg, VT, where Buster seeks a gift for Mother’s Day and is helped by Emma and Lily; he also attends a Christmas-tree bonfire.

Everything I need to know in life I learned from television (5:28 pm)
TVW finally got back on the air, not long before the court dismissed for the day. If you ask me, a sinister error like this is clear evidence of fraud, and I intend to prove it. I rest my case.

While I was out of the loop, David Postman filed several of his typically straight and cogent updates. Apparently, we did not have a Frye hearing, as Clark Bensen, the Republican statistical consultant (and no, I’m not missing an ” ‘s “) is testifying as a “fact witness,” not an “expert witness,” and thus he is not allowed to express any opinion. Good thing that’s not me — a judge barring me from expressing opinion would be a sure fire recipe for a contempt of court citation. Anyway, read what David wrote.

By the way, Bensen’s testimony… that was apparently the evidence of ballot stuffing that the Republicans promised us on Monday. Yeah… right.

Tomorrow morning the Democrats will cross-examine Bensen, and then most of the rest of the day will be spent on the Frye hearing, in which both sides will present their expert statistical witnesses. And if there’s time at the end of the day, the Democrats will make their motion to dismiss. The judge will deny the motion, and then on Friday, the Democrats start presenting their case.

As usual, this afternoon’s episode of Cyberchase serves as an apt metaphor for the day’s entire court proceedings: the Hacker kidnaps the king of a fractured- fairytale world and demands a ransom of golden eggs. Then the Wicked Witch casts a spell that takes away everyone’s ability to count, making it impossible for the fairy-tale folk to gather the required number of eggs until the kids help them learn the role of place value in the number system.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Comic relief (11:54 pm)
Andrew at NW Progressive has provided a clip of my latest appearance on the John Carlson Show. Listen to me not being taken seriously.