Open thread

144 years and 151 days after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation officially freed Alabama’s slaves, Gov. Bob Riley signed a resolution expressing “profound regret” for his state’s role in slavery: “We apologize for the wrongs inflicted by slavery and its after effects in the United States of America.”

And on October 29, 2151, I plan to apologize for calling Alabamans a bunch of gap-toothed, inbred crackers.

But it’s a gun-free campus!

A very serious situation at the Capitol Hill campus of Seattle Central Community College:

An anonymous threat scrawled in a men’s bathroom at Seattle Central Community College kept hundreds of students and faculty away from campus this morning.

About half of the 5,500 students at the Capitol Hill campus appeared to be heeding the college’s Wednesday advisory to stay home if they felt uneasy about the note discovered last week, said SCCC spokeswoman Laura Mansfield. The note, written in pencil on a toilet-paper dispenser in the science and math building, read: “I will kill everyone at SCCC on May 31.”

SCCC officials decided to keep the college open, but notified students and faculty to “use their best personal judgment” about reporting to work and classes.

I don’t know why anyone would feel uneasy about going to school at SCCC today. After all, Seattle Central is a gun-free campus (even for those with a legal permit), so how could anyone bring a firearm on the property?

Wait a sec… you mean criminals sometimes disobey laws?

—-

All kidding aside, as a matter of policy, banning people with concealed permits from carrying on campus is dumb. In essence, we’re banning people who have the most experience handling firearms (aside from police or military). Recent news shows how you cannot depend on “security” or even the police to be there when you need them. A more enlightened stance, a civil liberty-respecting stance, would be preferable to the current rules governing firearms on our college campuses.

Clay Bennett “out of ideas”

From the Seattle Times:

Sonics and Storm owner Clay Bennett says he’s “out of ideas” for landing an arena deal in Seattle and plans to file this November with the NBA for permission to move the teams after next season.

Of course, it’s easy to run out of ideas, when you only have one.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: there is some number in between $0 and $500,000,000 that would likely work for both Bennett and lawmakers, and that might be approved by voters. And the only way to find that number is to actually NEGOTIATE.

In addition to the Renton hoops palace we could re-explore the possibility of renovating Key Arena, or perhaps consider the Sabey property south of Boeing Field. And instead of asking taxpayers to pick up the bulk of the tab, we could start at a more typical 40/60 public/private partnership. And if Bennett and his partners simply don’t have the financial will or wherewithal to invest their own money in their own team, then perhaps they could consider bringing in some local partners or corporate sponsors who actually care about the local community and the local fans?

Of maybe, Bennett could continue pushing for the Renton project, with minor changes, but actually hire some PR and lobbying consultants who could put together a competent campaign that didn’t suspiciously look like he was deliberately trying to fuck it up?

I mean, if Bennett really wanted to keep the team in Seattle, he wouldn’t be so uncreative or intractable. And he wouldn’t be such a whiney little quitter. You know, qualities one doesn’t usually associate with successful businessmen.

Hmm. Makes one wonder if perhaps Bennett ever intended to own a Seattle team at all? In that context, his D.O.A. Renton proposal might prove just how brilliant a businessman he really is.

See, if as expected, taxpayers (and the lawmakers representing them) rejected his extravagant proposal, he could claim he made his “good faith effort,” and then pick up and move the team to Oklahoma City, where he’ll be greeted as a local hero. But if we foolishly caved to his demands, well, he still might end up with an Oklahoma City team… just not the Sonics.

The Renton deal would dramatically increase the value of the team, allowing Bennett and his partners to sell out, taking a couple hundred million dollars in profit… money which could defray the cost of buying a smaller market team, like the Hornets, and moving it to Oklahoma City instead. In that scenario, Washington taxpayers would indirectly subsidize professional basketball in Oklahoma. Sweet.

Yeah, I know, it sounds a little too devious. But the fabulously wealthy generally don’t get that way by being artless and uncalculating.

Or, by running out of ideas.

Somebody fix this park

dennysign.jpg

Denny Park, like the photo says, was the first park in Seattle. It was totally redone after Denny Hill was regraded back in the 30′s. Then, someone decided to build an office building in the park. In recent years the park has been used more by drug addicts and prostitutes, and less by folks from the neighborhood.

Thankfully, these folks are doing something about it.

I’ve bugged city government types every once in a while about this park, concerning the building. Usually, they don’t quite understand what the big deal is. This has impressed on me the need for regular citizens to get active on the things that are happening in your own neighborhood. Folks in city hall have a lot on their plate, so don’t be surprised if you have to lobby people to get things done. Just like the Friends of Denny Park are doing.

Dennis Kucinich: Friends with Fox

A few months ago, Goldy had Rep. Kucinich on his radio show. At the time I felt it would be wrong to speak ill of Kucinch on the blog just before he rolls into town. If I’m nothing else, I’m shameless in my loyalty to Democrats, even ones with a few screws loose.

Today, I end my silence. Here’s why:

Big score for Fox News and the CBC’s effort to legitimize Fox News with a Democratic debate.

While Barack Obama, John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, and Bill Richardson have all announced plans to skip the debate, they can console themselves with the fact that yes — Dennis Kucinich has decided to attend.

It’s actually quite hilarious how Kucinich tries to justify his validation of the right wing’s premier propaganda outlet — he’s taking his courageous stance on behalf of black folk!

What a weasel. Fox News is garbage; it’s president makes jokes comparing Barack Obama to Osama bin Laden. Dennis is all too pleased to play ball with those folks. Thankfully, the big four presidential candidates (HRC, Edwards, Richardson, and Obama himself) have skipped this debate. It’s going to be Dennis Kucinch and Joe Biden sucking up to Brit Hume for 45 minutes. Fun.

Tom Coburn, OK

Apparently, you can never be too rich, you can never be too thin, and you can never be too wing-nutty. With only three of ten Republican presidential hopefuls displaying the integrity to admit they don’t believe in evolution, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn is considering adding his authentic conservative voice to the GOP debates:

Sen. Tom Coburn is mulling an entry into the Republican presidential primary, according to sources inside and outside the Senate. Coburn, a senator from Oklahoma, is believed to be receiving encouragement from a small group of wealthy businessmen and philanthropists in the Oklahoma-Kansas-Texas region of the country.

Hmm. I wonder if any of those wealthy Oklahoma businessmen include Sonics owners Clay Bennett, Tom Ward and Aubrey McClendon, who have contributed nearly $10,000 to Coburn in the past?

“He’s all about faith, lower taxes, and staying the course in Iraq,” says an adviser outside of the Senate who has been speaking to Coburn.

He’s all about “lower taxes” huh? And, you know, one way to lower taxes is to not spend taxpayer dollars building $500 million hoops palaces for billionaires.

Coburn is believed to have the backing of several low-profile members of the so called “Swift Boaters,” men who financed the ads that doomed the presidential aspirations of Sen. John Kerry.

Yeah, well, I don’t really have anything snarky to add here. I just thought it might say something about the type of folk who support Coburn.

According to Wikipedia Coburn has said he favors the death penalty for doctors who perform abortions, and that homosexuality is the biggest threat to America. The inimitable Cliff Shecter thinks Coburn is just “another whackjob“:

He’s the freaking tool that says lesbians are in the school bathrooms, silicone breast implants are “healthy”, is blocking celebrating Rachel Carson’s birthday and and was against airing “Schindler’s List” on regular tv.

He’ll fit right in.

He certainly will.

FDA director to be put to death

A former director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was sentenced to death today, for taking bribes to approve untested medicines. Um, a former director of China’s FDA, that is.

The developments are among the most dramatic steps Beijing has publicly taken to address domestic and international alarm over shoddy and unsafe Chinese goods — from pet-food ingredients and toothpaste mixed with industrial chemicals to tainted antibiotics.

The Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court convicted Zheng Xiaoyu for taking bribes in cash and gifts worth more than $832,000 when he was director of the State Food and Drug Administration, the official Xinhua News Agency said. The court then issued the death penalty, the report said.

[...] In one instance, an antibiotic approved by Zheng’s agency killed at least 10 patients last year before it was taken off the market.

On the bright side, China’s burgeoning organ transplant industry just gained another healthy donor.

Drinking Liberally

The Seattle chapter of Drinking Liberally meets tonight (and every Tuesday), 8PM at the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue E.

Please join us for the first DL of the post-Charles Nelson Reilly era.

Not in Seattle? Liberals will also be drinking tonight in the Tri-Cities and Vancouver. A full listing of Washington’s eleven Drinking Liberally chapters is available here.

Doan the scandal thing

It is so hard to keep up with all the Republican scandals these days. One almost needs an instant message service just devoted to these scandals. Admittedly, quite a few came to light even before Congress jump-started its dormant oversight functions early this year. Now that the oversight machine has gotten warmed up, expect a new scandal to surface every couple of weeks or so.

One recent junior-level scandal is about to get bigger. Remember Lurita Doan, the Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA)? She recently gave testimony before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform investigating GSA misconduct. If you don’t remember, here is an exchange between Ms. Doan and Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) over a meeting she attended, on GSA property, in which the White House Office of Political Affairs presented strategies for winning the 2006 elections. The presentation included things like a list of targeted Democratic seats. Multiple witnesses reported that after the presentation, Ms. Doan stood up and said “How can we use the GSA to help the Republicans in the next election.” She, of course, had no recollection of the presentation or her own statements afterward.

The problem for Ms. Doan is that the activity, on the face of it, violates the Hatch Act of 1939. That isn’t just the opinion of a spiteful liberal like me; in fact, it’s the opinion of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (here is a pdf version of their report).

The report has gotten Ms. Doan a second date with the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on June 7.

The Chair of the committee, Rep. Henry Waxman (R-CA), just gave an interview to the Center for American Progress to explain the rationale for asking her back for a second date. In summary:

By pressing forward with the investigation, investigators have revealed a disturbing pattern by Doan to mislead and cover-up her true intent regarding these partisan briefings. Some examples:

  • When asked by the OSC investigators about her role in the briefing, she said “she was uninterested in the topic” and “was on her Blackberry…reviewing emails…and only periodically looked up and down.” But a review of her e-mail use during the meeting failed to corroborate that she was checking or sending email via her BlackBerry.
  • Doan claimed the GSA employees who spoke out about her were employees who were poor performers. The OSC investigators said that Doan’s claim regarding the witnesses “appears to have been purposefully misleading and false” since none of the seven employees had “between a poor to totally inferior performance.”
  • Doan claimed “she does not care about polls or election results.” But investigators report that Doan contributed $226,000 to Republican candidates and Republican organizations. Doan responded by testifying that the contributions had been “taken out of context.”

Here’s the thing. It is possible that this is an isolated case of a senior Bush appointee just not understanding the rules.

It’s possible…but why is it that every time something suspicious is investigated, it turns out that Republican appointees are breaking the law (or at least bending the law to the point of breaking) in order to squeeze out partisan advantage? And they never remember a thing about it afterward!

I’m talking Gonzogate (“I would never, ever make a change in a United States attorney for political reasons”), Monica Goodling (“I crossed the line of Civil Service policy”), Plamegate, the Armstrong Williams & Maggie Gallagher propaganda scandals, a fake reporter in the White House press corps, GAO-gate, and so on and so forth. And we’ve just scratched the surface.

Collectively, it is clear that (1) these people think they are above the law, (2) the GOP comes before country to them, (3) they feel being in power entitles them to use their power to keep power at any cost, (4) this abuse of power is systematic. The Bush administration’s great innovation has been to refine the concept of distributed power abuse it in a way that hasn’t been seen in generations (if ever before). It’s a pernicious, distributed, largely low-level abuse of power at all levels of government. And we have only scratched the surface.

When it comes right down to it, this current pack of criminals in the White House makes Richard Nixon seem like a real amateur.

Open thread

Not exactly seppuku, but…

Japan’s agriculture minister died Monday after hanging himself just hours before he was to face questioning in a political scandal, officials said, dealing a powerful blow to the increasingly beleaguered government ahead of July elections.

Hmm. Such a dramatic response to personal scandal could never become the fashion amongst corrupt Bush administration officials and other top Republicans, as D.C. area Home Depots would quickly run out of rope.

“The David Goldstein Show” tonight on Newsradio 710-KIRO

Tonight on “The David Goldstein Show”, 7PM to 10PM on Newsradio 710-KIRO:

7PM: Are the Sonics making a “good faith effort” to keep the team in Seattle?
The Seattle Times’ Danny Westneat chronicled today the changing moods of two Sonics bloggers, who have gone from working with Clay Bennett’s ownership group to secure arena financing to criticizing his efforts as “a complete and 100 percent zero.” Blogger Brian Robinson of SonicsCentral.com joins me in the studio to discuss the state of the Sonics. Is Bennett making an honest effort to keep the team in Seattle? Westneat doesn’t seem to think so.

8PM: Do you believe?
According to a new Gallup Poll, nearly one in three Americans believe the Bible is the literal word of God. Um… I’m betting nowhere near one in three Americans have actually read the Bible cover to cover. Meanwhile, tomorrow marks the grand opening of the Creation Museum in Peterburg KY, which argues that the Earth is 6,000 years old, and I suppose that the dinosaurs didn’t fit on Noah’s Ark. Even if you’re a person of faith, is this something we should be proud of, that so many Americans reject science?

9PM: TBA?
And update on the food safety crisis, plus other issues of the day.

Tune in tonight (or listen to the live stream) and give me a call: 1-877-710-KIRO (5476).

“What the f### else am I going to do?” Don’t let the latest dumb move by Democrats get you down.

From the Washington Post:

War opponents dismissed the bill as a capitulation to Bush and said they would seek to hold supporters in both parties accountable. But backers said the bill’s provisions — including benchmarks for progress that the Iraqi government must meet to continue receiving reconstruction aid — represented an assertion of congressional authority over the war that was unthinkable a few months ago.

Bush, who had vowed to veto any legislation with restrictions on troop deployments, announced he would sign the $120 billion package, which was approved 80 to 14 last night in the Senate, after a 280 to 142 House vote.

Surrendering to a president who manages 30/70 approval ratings is amazing to me. Amazingly stupid.

The message Democrats sent is…

  1. The are afraid of Mr “28 Percent”
  2. They don’t know that the majority of Americans actually support the Democrats on the war funding issue.
  3. That since Democrats won’t fight for the important “life and death” stuff, why trust them with leadership on anything?

It frustrates me that Democrats buy into the idea that they’ll be blamed, somehow, for not giving the President exactly what he wants. It is absolute bullshit, and political malpractice, to chicken out in such a obvious way. Democrats had real momentum, and they gave it away when they blinked.

Democrats initially showed real toughness by sending Bush a bill that funded the troops and ended the war. Predictably, Bush vetoed that bill (and vetoed funding for his own war!). Instead of realizing the vast storage of political capital they have on hand, Democrats folded quickly, and sent Bush a “clean” bill, which funded the troops without any real accountability.

And you know what? Maybe, at some point this summer, the coalition of Democrats standing up to Bush was going to break down.

But it didn’t have to happen this soon, this early, and in such a gutless manner.

A fellow liberal blogger asked me at last weeks’ Drinking Liberally if I too was quitting the Democratic Party… I had to smile, as I knew he was joking. I told him, “what the fuck else am I going to do?”

Some Democrats constantly throw in the towel in a way conservative activists don’t. First it was Bankruptcy Reform legislation, then it was John Roberts, then Sam Alito, then this. Certain lefties always threaten to ditch the party, to “work down ticket”, to stop doing whatever it was they were doing to support the candidates who have let them down. This goes on until the pain goes away, but is soon reignited by the next great “letdown.”

If I’ve managed to glean a difference between blogger activists and regular activists, it’s that the blogger activists are way too quick to throw in the towel. These so-called reality-based freedom fighters of the blogosphere are nothing more than fair-weather friends. It’s an odd thing to say, considering I’m a “blog-guy,” but the lack of resolve shown by liberals on the web illustrates why blogs are only good for so much.

The Democrats who know nothing of blogs are often the toughest. These Democrats know that the road is long, and it is hard, and that you can’t explode in outrage at every opportunity. Even if Democrats keep voting for more funding for Bush’s war, I’ll still be around. Somebody has to be, if only to tell them that they’re wrong.

Have you driven a Ford lately?

Gee… and I thought Republicans were for “open government.” But you wouldn’t know that from the way some of the righty trolls responded to my post about WA Attorney General Rob McKenna appointing Tim Ford to be his new “Open Government Ombudsman.”

Apparently, it is “insulting” to point out that Ford is not only a former (un)Sound Politics contributor, but like his predecessor, he’s also a former attorney for the right-wing BIAW. And apparently, it is antithetical to the spirit of “open government” to reveal the political biases of those tasked with safeguarding it.

All I did was point out McKenna’s penchant for packing his office with ruthless partisans, but I guess if that can be portrayed as an attack on the very notion of government oversight, then critiquing Ford’s analytical and legal skills must be downright anti-democratic. Which is exactly what Carl at Effin’ Unsound has done with his thoroughly entertaining fisking of some of Ford’s posts over at (u)SP.

I particularly enjoyed rereading Ford’s analysis of Judge Bridge’s Feb. 4, 2005 ruling that the court, not the Legislature, was the proper venue for hearing an election challenge. Ford gloated:

It was predictable. Even Democrat Legislators admit the election contest belongs in a court and not in the Legislature.

But that didn’t stop the Democrat party from trying to dismiss the election contest. They claimed that the Legislature is the proper venue.

Not only was this motion based on questionable legal arguments, but now there will be a “perception” that momentum has shifted to Dino Rossi. The newspapers will report on the Democrats’ loss, and the story will gain fresh interest. Keeping the story alive in the media is necessary to fight voter apathy, and the Democrats are helping the Republicans with questionable lawyering based only on the transparent desire to throw the election contest to a partisan tribunal in the Legislature. While the Democrats motion to dismiss doesn’t sink to the frivolous, public opinion will continue to favor Rossi because of bad lawyering by the Democrats.

Uh-huh. I love Carl’s response:

First, it’s called the Democratic Party, and you sound like an asshole.

But to the substance, lawyering by the Democrats won the case. Ultimately the lawyering was just so bad that Dino Rossi decided not to press ahead and appeal his bullshit case. So good call. And momentum? Really? It’s bad enough when sports commentators do it, but hiring someone who believes that lawyers should take it into consideration is kind of a demonstration of failing up ain’t it?

Of course, it is easy to criticize Ford’s legal analysis in hindsight. Anybody can do that. Who knew the way this case would play out? Who knew the Republicans’ evidence would be so weak? Certainly not Ford, who at the time was an attorney for the BIAW, the organization providing Rossi’s legal team with the bulk of their investigative and financial resources. If only there was a contemporaneous example of somebody getting the legal analysis right, where Ford got it so wrong, then we could really make fun of him.

Well… um… it turns out that three days before Judge Bridge’s ruling, I nailed it right on the head:

While conservative talk radio attacks the Democrats as hypocrites for now arguing that Art. III, Sec. 4 of the state Constitution gives the Legislature jurisdiction over a contested gubernatorial election, everybody has missed a very clever — and possibly decisive — piece of legal strategy. Remember, in Foulkes, the court also wrote:

Such jurisdiction would exist even without such recognition by virtue of Const. art. 4, sec 6, unless it were “by law vested exclusively in some other court.”

And as Lawyer X explains:

The GOP and Secretary of State argue that the Legislature has delegated its decision making power to the courts by means of RCW 29A.68.020 et al. If that argument is sustained, the court may have jurisdiction to decide this matter, but only within the confines the legislature has set up by its contest statute–not under any general equity jurisdiction.

“Not under any general equity jurisdiction.”

See, that’s the real reason Democratic attorneys are playing the Art. III, Sec 4 card. Unlike other elections, the Constitution clearly grants to the Legislature jurisdiction over contested elections for executive offices, and any such powers not specifically granted to the courts by statute, remain with the Legislature. If the Democrats win this one point, then the court must rule entirely within the narrow confines of existing statute… and that would be the final nail in Rossi’s legal coffin.

Brilliant attorney that he is, Ford ridiculed Democrats for “bad lawyering” that he predicted would shift the momentum to Rossi, but entirely missed the clever legal strategy on which the entire case turned… a strategy I had outlined just days before.

The Democrats never wanted this contest settled in the Legislature; that would have been a political disaster. The Democratic strategy was to force the GOP to argue — and Judge Bridges to determine — that the Legislature had specifically delegated such jurisdiction to the courts, thus forcing him to rule within the narrow confines of the statute without the possibility of resorting to any “plenary powers.” And that’s exactly what happened. The result? A new election was eliminated as a possible remedy, and Rossi’s attorneys were forced to meet the “clear and convincing” burden of proof as defined in the contest statute… a burden they never had a snowball’s chance of meeting.

Again, one could argue, how was Ford to know? Well how the fuck was I to know? I’m not an attorney — much to my mother’s everlasting shame — and yet I was able to figure it out with a little help from Lawyer X. And not after the judge’s decision, but three days before!

Yet Ford, with all his legal training and experience, couldn’t see through his Rossi-colored glasses to understand what was perfectly clear to an amateur like me. No wonder the Republicans and their BIAW patrons lost this case so badly. And no wonder that watching the same trial, our friend Stefan predicted that Rossi would prevail, whereas I predicted that he would lose. I had better legal advice than he did. (And I wasn’t delusional.)

So what does this rehashing of the 2004 election contest have to do with Ford’s cushy new job? Well, nothing. And everything.

No, there’s nothing wrong with McKenna appointing like-minded attorneys to top positions in his office, as long as they represent some of the top talent available for the job… and their primary qualification isn’t their BIAW pedigree. For if the AG’s Open Government Ombudsman is merely a partisan shill for an organization that hates government and absolutely despises the Democrats running it, then it calls into question the credibility and impartiality of the office.

It’s not for me to judge whether Ford is otherwise qualified, as once again, I’m not an attorney. But I’m just sayin’….