Lottery’s new market: hooking teens

Last week I listened intently to the TVW stream of the testimony for and against HB 2872, which would raise the state gambling age from 18 to 21, and was surprised to find some of the most vociferous arguments against the bill coming from state lottery officials.

Well, now I understand why. Apparently, the dispassioned bureaucrats at the Washington Lottery have decided that hooking teen gamblers is the hot new market they’ve just gotta get into. The tediously titled “Washington Lottery Business Plan, 2005-2007 Biennium” clearly charts the Lottery’s approach towards “younger players.”

This age group represents the players of the future. It is important that future Lottery games be able to respond to and satisfy the demands of these and upcoming generations of players.

And how does the Lottery intend to create a new generation of players?

The young adult market (18-24 year-olds) is a key market the Lottery intends to pursue

The BIAW: militia funding, orca killers

So… what could possibly connect the dire plight of Puget Sound orcas with the right-wing extremist militia movement? Well, as Dave Neiwert reveals in a fascinating and disturbing post at Orcinus: the BIAW.

Last week the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) filed a 60-day notice declaring their intent to sue the government over the endangered species listing for Puget Sound orcas, claiming local pods don’t warrant special protection:

“You can almost say any individual school of fish can be listed,” Harris said.

Calling this “malignant misinformation,” Neiwert methodically refutes the BIAW with something he likes to call “facts.” But…

Facts matter little to organizations like the BIAW. Their ability to ensure that developers have as few restrictions as possible in bringing pavement to every corner of the state is all that counts.

Even if, in the end, every last orca simply vanishes from these waters. If the BIAW has its way, that outcome is not just predictable, it’s guaranteed.

It may be a death by a thousand cuts, slow and incremental. But groups like the BIAW are killing orcas just as certainly as someone out hunting them with guns.

Yeah, Neiwert knows a thing or two about orcas — hence the name of his blog — but he’s also an expert on the right-wing militia movement, and by association, the BIAW.

The Building Industry Association of Washington is an organization that not only is ruthless to the point of consciencelessness, it also has become an extraordinarily significant player in Washington state politics. They are, in fact, one of the most powerful funders of the conservative movement’s agenda here.

And, perhaps unsurprisingly, they also boast a history of dalliances with (and underwriting of) right-wing extremism, particularly the Patriot/militia movement of the 1990s.

Neiwert goes on to detail the “even darker side to the BIAW,” chronicling its key role in funding, supporting and organizing right-wing property rights, secessionist, and militia groups. One of the key players was Jim Klauser…

…until recently he remained associated with the BIAW by sitting on its Legal Trust Committee. Klauser ran one of the BIAW’s major subgroups, the Master Builders Association of King County, and the Snohomish County office of the BIAW just north of Seattle.

He also founded an organization called the Snohomish County Property Rights Alliance, which became a front for militia organizing and other far-right activity…


One of SNOCO PRA’s leaders was a fellow named Ben Sams, who organized an “anti-New World Order” militia meeting in Maltby, Wash. The keynote speaker at the meeting was a fellow from the Militia of Montana named Bob Fletcher, who displayed maps describing a planned United Nations takeover of the northern Cascades region.


Klauser’s chief partner in organizing the Snohomish County secessionists was a local rabble-rouser named John Stokes, who ran an organization called the Freedom County Committee. Stokes later claimed he had gathered enough signatures to force a secession vote, but he vamoosed to Montana at about this time and the signatures were not submitted for several more months; when they finally were, the numbers validated didn’t come close to meeting the requirement.

Of course, Stokes has continued to foment right-wing extremist politics in Montana, where he bought a radio station and began broadcasting the home addresses of local environmentalists, a la Radio Rwanda. His attacks on liberals are especially disturbing as potential precursors to similar attacks elsewhere.

One of Klauser’s chief allies, a former Whatcom County BIAW official named Art Castle, went on to cofound a local Bellingham group that engaged in similar far-right recruitment. Castle now operates the Kitsap Home Builders Association listed as a local resource by the BIAW.

Neiwert goes into great detail. Really… read the whole thing.

And these are the folk who are trying to pack our state Supreme Court? If the day comes when liberals like me need to start arming ourselves, we’ll know who to blame.

Organizations like the Building Industry Association of Washington represent, in many ways, the essential face of modern conservatism: their bottom line is money and power, by any means necessary.

And we need to stop them… by any means necessary.

Drinking Liberally, SOTU edition

Join us tonight for a special State of the Union edition of Drinking Liberally! The Seattle chapter meets every Tuesday at the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue E.; we normally start at 8 pm, but tonight some of us will be gathering a little before 6 pm, to entertain ourselves with real-time commentary, MST3K-style. Perhaps we’ll also play a little drinking game.

As an extra bonus, our host Nick has offered a free beer to anyone showing up wearing Seahawks gear. (I’ll be there wearing Eagles green.) And later tonight, in the 9 pm hour, we plan to record our first weekly podcast… unless we’re all to shit-faced by then.

Not in Seattle? Jimmy tells us that the newly recognized Tri-Cities chapter will gather to watch the SOTU at 5:30 pm, at the Tuscany Lounge, 1515 George Washington Way. And if you’re watching from home, be sure to link on over to WashBlog, where our very own Rep. Jim McDermott will be posting an official response.

[And on an unrelated note, Andrew just posted a diary to Daily Kos, celebrating the one-year anniversary of the NW Portal. Kossaks, please recommend.]

The WASL sucks

Courtesy of Andrew Wahl

As the father of an 8-year-old, I have to say that I hate the WASL. I have nothing against using standards to measure performance, but this stupid, rigid, top-down testing regime has turned our classrooms into the public school equivilent of a Stanley Kaplan test prep class.

Here’s hoping we develop a thriving local industry in taking WASL tests, because that’s about the only job for which some of our kids are going to be prepared.

Radio Goldy

People keep asking me why Tim Eyman, known for his stupidly conceived, and even more stupidly-er written anti-tax initiatives, would file an initiative aimed at overturning the recently passed gay rights bill.

Hmm. Well, this could be a reason. And this. And I suppose, this, this, and this. You see, Timmy is an initiative whore, and any opportunity to get himself in the papers or in front of the cameras fellating our initiative process seems well worth his while.

Or on the radio, for that matter. Timmy’s scheduled to appear on the John Carlson Show today in the 4 pm hour (KVI-570), to explain to listeners exactly why we should all celebrate our God-given right to discriminate against gays and lesbians. But as it turns out, I’m a bit of whore myself, so I’m slotted to be on the show sometime after 4:15 to share a few words with Tim.

Tune in if you can bear it.

UPDATE: (4:41 pm)
Tim accused me of trying to monopolize the debate. Now that’s rich.

UPDATE, UPDATE: (4:47 pm)
Um… judging from the fact that two of the first three callers wanted to talk about something else, it looks like Tim may have a little trouble generating buzz behind this initiative.

Stop playing games with teen gambling

I’ve been known to occasionally voice subtle criticisms of the Seattle Times editorial board, but when they’re right, they’re right:

RAISE the state gambling age from 18 to 21 for casinos, cardrooms, the state lottery and scratch tickets, horse racing and bingo games with cash prizes.

That is our starting point for the conversation the Legislature is likely to have between now and the 2007 session. Current efforts to raise the gambling age appear headed toward a task force to sort out the details. Companion legislation in both the House and Senate is getting bogged down in the artful muddle of questions about whether the church carnival ring toss constitutes gambling.

Yes, raise the gambling age; that should be both our starting point and our ending point in the 2006 session. The science overwhelmingly supports it, as does a bipartisan majority in both houses of the state Legislature. This is such a commonsense policy, that when queried, most voters believe the legal gambling age already is 21.

Even the two biggest players in the state’s multi-billion dollar gambling industry — the tribal casinos and the commercial card rooms — apparently recognize the terrible impact of gambling addiction on our youth. The vast majority of tribal and commercial casinos already refuse to admit patrons under the age of 21, and as long as the law is applied uniformly, they will not oppose SB-5523/HB-2872.

This bill is a no-brainer that achieves real results now, and is totally in line with the anti-gambling sentiments of voters who overwhelmingly rejected Tim Eyman’s stupid slot machine initiative in 2004. It will, in some form, sail through the Senate this session, and the only thing apparently standing in the way of a lopsided victory in the House, is Commerce & Labor Committee chair, Steve Conway (D-Tacoma).

At a hearing last week, Rep. Conway expressed concerns that the bill might have unintended consequences by outlawing carnival games. He suggested that the proposal should be sent to a “task force” for further study.

Hmm. This subject has been studied ad nauseam for years, and I sincerely doubt a new task force will come to a different conclusion. Every major scientific study has recommended raising the gambling age to 21, and most other states having already complied. With the explosion in access to gambling we have experienced over the past 15 years, and the media’s new youth-focused poker craze in full swing, it is long past time for Washington state to follow suit. If there is a problem with the language of the bill, fix it and pass it.

As to horse racing and charitable bingo, whose lobbyists would like an exemption, and the state lottery, whose representatives raised the issue of the cost of lost revenues, I think the Times succinctly picks apart their selfish arguments:

Are the casinos, cardrooms, lottery games, horse tracks and bingo halls prepared to argue they will go under if the traffic fades from 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds?

No, of course not.

As much as 50 percent of all gambling profits come at the expense of problem gamblers, and teens have three times the addiction rate of adults. It would be irresponsible to argue that the state lottery, for example, should be funding education on the backs of addicted teens.

The science is clear: the earlier the age of exposure, the higher the incidence of addiction. It’s time to stop playing games with teen gambling, and raise our gambling age to 21.

Filibuster Alito

Sen. John Kerry has a passionate piece on The Huffington Post, arguing the case for filibustering the Alito nomination.

So let’s get this straight. The time to fight is now – before we make the irreversible decision of confirming a new Supreme Court Justice. When you’re talking about the Supreme Court, you don’t live to fight another day. It’s a zero sum game. Once Judge Alito becomes Justice Alito, there’s no turning back the Senate confirmation vote. We don’t get to ‘take a mulligan’ when choosing a Supreme Court Justice. The direction our country takes for the next thirty years is being set now. Will it matter if we speak up after the Supreme Court has granted the executive the right to use torture, or to eavesdrop without warrants? Will it matter if we speak up only after a woman’s right to privacy has been taken away? Will history record what we say after the courthouse door is slammed in the faces of women, minorities, the elderly, the disabled, and the poor? No. History will record what we say and what we do now.

[ ... ]

I know better than anyone that elections have consequences and that the President has every right to nominate whomever he chooses to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. But I also know that Senators have the right – in fact, they have a constitutional responsibility, to question whether that nominee is the right choice. That is why the Framers required the Senate to provide advice and consent. We are not meant to be a rubber stamp. We need not rush to judgment simply to satisfy the political deadline of a State of the Union address.

I am convinced that Judge Alito is the wrong choice for America. In fact, I am convinced that he is a dangerous choice for America. This is a rare moment in Washington. We are facing the vote of a lifetime – a vote that will shape the law for generations to come. Despite the predictions of the pundits, the story is not over until the last vote is cast. We cannot win unless we try. The time to take a stand is now, to fight for the rights and freedoms of all Americans is when they’re endangered not after they’ve been diminished. It is time to take a stand against Judge Alito, and take a stand for the kind of America we’ve been for over two hundred years.

I know there are a lot of strategic reasons why the Democrats are ill-prepared for a filibuster at the moment, but I agree with Steve Gilliard, it’s better to go down fighting.

9am Monday morning shut down the Senate switchboard.
You can use these toll-free numbers (and ask for the Senators by name): 888-355-3588 or 888-818-6641.

And after you call the Senate, be sure to call Senators Cantwell and Murray directly:

Senator Maria Cantwell
Washington, 202-224-3441 (phone), 202-228-0514 (fax)
Everett, 425-303-0114 (phone), 425-303-8351 (fax)
Spokane, 509-353-2507 (phone), 509-353-2547 (fax)
Vancouver, 360-696-7838 (phone), 360-696-7844 (fax)
Tacoma, 253-572-2281 (phone), 253-572-5859 (fax)
Seattle, 206-220-6400 (phone), 206-220-6404 (fax)
Richland, 509-946-8106 (phone), 509-946-6937 (fax)

Senator Patty Murray
Washington, 202-224-2621 (phone), 202-224-0238 (fax)
Everett, 425-259-6515 (phone), 425-259-7152 (fax)
Seattle, 206-553-5545 (phone), 206-553-0891 (fax)
Spokane, 509-624-9515 (phone), 509-624-9561 (fax)
Vancouver, 360-696-7797 (phone), 360-696-7798 (fax)
Yakima, 509-453-7462 (phone), 509-453-7731 (fax)

And the new state chair is…

Well, the state GOP elected Diane Tebelius as their new state chair, but nobody got a majority in the Democrats’ first round of balloting. The results:

Dwight Pelz: 82
Laura Ruderman: 69
Jean Brooks: 13

There was apparently a touch of drama over a disputed proxy ballot for Ruderman. Had it been disqualified, Pelz would have been declared the winner on the first ballot, but the executive board ruled overwhelming ruled to count it. So now we eliminate Brooks from the mix and move on to round two.

FYI, all my information comes from Andrew Villeneuve of NW Progressive Institute, reporting live from the meeting while I sit comfortably at home drinking tea. I’m sure he’ll have a full wrap-up after the meeting, um, wraps up.

UPDATE: (5:52 pm)
Andrew just called… Dwight Pelz is the new Democratic state chair. Final tally: Pelz 95, Ruderman 70.

Now that we have a new chair, let’s go out there and kick some ass.

Equal rights a symbolic gesture?

Hyped up by the historic passage of HB 2661, which after 30 years finally adds sexual orientation to our state’s anti-discrimination laws, I decided to stop by the jam-packed party at the Paramount last night, one of several organized around the state to celebrate the hard fought victory. A couple of quick observations…

First of all, I discovered that a party organized by the gay and lesbian community is not a good place to pick up women… unless of course, you are one. Chalk one up to experience.

Second, the absolute joy expressed last night momentarily lifted me out of the cynical haze of political stratagem through which I often view the legislative process, reminding me of how the work of our elected officials routinely touches the lives of ordinary people. And it reminded me that the impact of such legislation reaches far beyond the actual technical language inscribed in the RCW.

In the days leading up to the historic senate vote, as passage became a foregone conclusion, some of the bill’s talking-point-opponents (you know… those who viewed the battle mostly in partisan political terms, rather than having a vested, principled or emotional interest) started to advance a new frame, which I suppose was intended to take the edge off the Democrat’s victory. Actual discrimination against gays and lesbians is exceedingly rare, we were told, and thus the bill is largely symbolic and unnecessary.

It was on this curious meme that our friend Stefan chose to base his rather measured post-vote post mortem:

Paradoxically, the bill passed precisely because of a shift in attitudes that also renders the bill largely unnecessary. Surely 30 years ago when the bill was first proposed there were many more cases of discrimination. Now (and fortunately, in my opinion), it’s scarcely less socially unacceptable to discriminate against gays than it is to discriminate against blacks and Jews. The bill passed by a slender margin not so much because there’s a still a serious ongoing problem with anti-gay discrimination that the bill is needed to fix, but because it’s perceived by many to be a largely symbolic gesture and the prevailing attitudes in the legislature, as in most cases, are a trailing indicator of public opinion.

Even if I were to concede the point that gays and lesbians are no longer the victims of discrimination, and that HB 2661′s passage was ultimately, largely a symbolic gesture — and I don’t — I would still have to take issue with Stefan’s conclusion that it was thus unnecessary. For many of those reveling at the Paramount last night, the actual day-to-day impact of the bill probably will be largely symbolic, but I can’t see how anybody who listened to yesterday’s floor debate and witnessed last night’s celebration could bring themselves to diminish the import of this symbolism.

It is symbolism that drives many in the gay and lesbian community to reject the “separate but equal” notion of civil union, and demand the right to marry their partner and legally call it a marriage. It is not enough to merely be tolerated; gays and lesbians want to be embraced by the larger society as full citizens, with all the same rights, privileges, and protections. This is not about gay rights… it’s about equal rights.

A while back somebody asked me why I was putting so much passion and energy into this issue, and the blog-room brawler in me responded, “because this is a fight we can win.” But the joy I was privileged to share last night reminded me that I’m not quite as cynical as I sometimes like to present myself.

Josh Feit just posted his own report of last night’s revelry over on Slog, and it provides some of the color missing from my own, brief, first person observations.

Somebody should put a bullet through Ann Coulter’s brain

Of course… I’m only joking. From the AP, via Fox News (via Orbusmax) for chrisakes:

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter, speaking at a traditionally black college, joked that Justice John Paul Stevens should be poisoned. [...] “We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens’ creme brulee,” Coulter said.

Coulter then added, “That’s just a joke, for you in the media.”


I imagine if I were to post a similar joke about, say… President Bush, I’d have the Secret Service kicking down my door. But whenever Coulter quips about killing liberals, we’re supposed to think she’s just being cute.

Gay civil rights bill passes Senate!

HB 2661 passes, final vote: 25-23.

After thirty years, sexual orientation has finally been added to Washington state’s anti-discrimination laws. Kind of hard to believe it took so long.

A lot of people have worked extremely hard on this issue for many years, but perhaps nobody has played a larger role in its passage than the Rev. Ken Hutcherson, whose ham-fisted grandstanding in the wake of the bill’s close defeat last year was crucial in creating the blowback that ultimately led to Sen. Bill Finkbeiner voting his conscience.

Thank you Rev. Hutcherson. My fondest wish is that you and Kevin Carns team up to direct the conservative legislative agenda in WA state.

Progressive Majority of Washington wants senators like Tim Sheldon, who voted no on HB 2661, to know that there is a price to pay for Democrats who betray core Democratic values. (You know… like equality.)

Progressive Majority doesn’t just elect new leaders, we hold the ones already in office accountable. But Senator Sheldon doesn’t get it

Why does Mike McGavick hate Seattle?

The Seattle Times’ Danny Westneat calls insurance industry lobbyist cum CEO cum senate candidate Mike McGavick on a subtly divisive bit of campaign sloganeering:

The other day, McGavick was speechifying in Spokane when he tossed out this odd quip: “I like to say I was born in Seattle when you weren’t embarrassed to say you were from Seattle.”

To concisely paraphrase Westneat… “Huh?”

I was born and raised in Philadelphia, a city that — thanks to its second-best proximity to the nation’s economic and political capitals (not to mention the legendary W.C. Fields) — has become a national icon of civic self-deprecation. Thus, as a relative outsider I have always found the typical Seattleite’s profound sense of civic pride to border on boosterism. I’ve often quipped that the secret to Philadelphia being one of the nation’s most affordable and livable big cities, is that unlike Seattleites, Philly-natives aren’t constantly trying to convince out-of-towners to move there and ruin it. Philadelphia is indeed a great city, but shhhhhh… that’s our little secret.

Of course, Seattle is a great city too, and Westneat’s take rings true to a 15-year transplant like me.

No, Seattle is so lacking in things to be embarrassed about that, ironically, it’s created the most embarrassing thing about us