These petitions are being submitted during today’s Sound Transit Board meeting at 1:00pm.
Archives for April 2008
As reported by both Postman and the PI’s Politics Team, Congressman Dave Reichert is challenging his Democratic colleagues in the state to join him in opposing House Speaker Pelosi’s attempts to prevent a vote on the Colombian free trade agreement this year. Reichert was one of 7 Republicans and 2 Democrats who traveled to Colombia with US Trade Representative Susan Schwab this past weekend. Here’s what he sent out:
Many times when Republicans were in the majority, my colleagues would call on me to go to my leadership to help the state, for instance when we learned of language that would allow supertankers onto Puget Sound. Today, I urge all of my colleagues in the Washington delegation – including Governor Gregoire – to join together and reject the Speaker’s effort to shelve this vital measure.
Reichert’s premise is that this trade agreement specifically helps the state of Washington because of how dependent we are on global trade. But this appears to be a questionable premise at best. Boston University International Relations Professor Kevin P. Gallagher, who has written a book on NAFTA, takes a look at this agreement:
The U.S.-Colombia Free Trade deal is one of the most deeply flawed trade pacts in U.S. history. It will hardly make a dent in the U.S. economy, looks to make the Colombian economy worse off and accentuate a labor and environmental crisis in Colombia. The Democratic majority in Congress is right to oppose this agreement and call for a rethinking of U.S. trade policy.
According to new estimates by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America, the net benefits of the agreement to the U.S. will be a miniscule 0.0000472 percent of GDP or a one-time increase in the level of each American’s income by just over one penny. The agreement will actually will make Colombia worse off by up to $75 million or one tenth of one percent of its GDP; losses to Colombia’s textiles, apparel, food and heavy manufacturing industries, as they face new competition from U.S. import, will outweigh the gains in Colombian petroleum, mining, and other export sectors, it concludes.
There’s a lot more that could be added to this that Gallagher doesn’t mention. Anything that weakens the Colombian economy to this extent will end up with more migrants in search of work and an increase the number of people willing to participate in illegal coca production. The failures of NAFTA in Mexico are likely to be repeated in Colombia, as both nations remain mired at the sharp end of America’s failed drug war, a no-win situation that no trade agreement will ever rectify and will continue to end up with more people fleeing here to find work.
But he does delve into another problem with this agreement, one that many people here in Washington State are likely to find troubling:
The deal amounts to a rollback of previous environmental provisions in U.S. trade agreements. Unlike past U.S. trade pacts, this deal doesn’t provide any new funding for cooperation, clean up, or compliance.
Finally, the deal has a little secret also not allowed under the WTO. It leaves open the possibility that ad hoc investment tribunals will interpret social and environmental regulations as “indirect expropriation.” Under such interpretations, multinational firms themselves (as opposed to states filing on a firm’s behalf such as in the WTO) can file suit for massive compensation from foreign governments. Under NAFTA such suits have been filed against the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. Indeed, Methanex Corp. filed a $1 billion suit against the state of California for banning a gasoline additive that was polluting water sources.
The Sierra Club has a page here on the Methanex suit and others that have been initiated within the NAFTA agreement. As Congressman Reichert continues to make efforts to demonstrate his “green” credentials, I’m curious whether he has concerns over whether environmental regulations that come out of Olympia could trigger lawsuits from corporations that are affected by them.
Finally, Reichert spokesman Mike Shields has some words defending our desired trading partner, Colombia:
Is it perfect? No. But it has made improvements and it is our friend and ally in that part of the world, particularly when they have a neighbor who is fashioning himself to be a Fidel Castro for that part of the world.
This is true. Chavez is most certainly fashioning himself as a Castro-like anti-American protagonist, but this gets back to what my main concern over this agreement is. The policies of the Bush Administration, both economic and military, are slowly isolating our Colombian ally while strengthening the hand of Hugo Chavez. And this trade agreement will likely move us further down that path as long as President Bush sees it as a reward for a government whose recent military encroachment on Ecuadorean soil earned widespread condemnation across the region.
UPDATE: Reichert has a column on this in today’s Seattle Times.
I don’t mean to sound paranoid or anything, but for some odd reason, it appears the BIAW’s Tom McCabe and Erin Shannon don’t like me very much. Was it something I said?[audio:http://horsesass.org/wp-content/uploads/goldy2.mp3]
Shannon calls me a “profane, ranting, raving lunatic”… and this from the woman who after the 2004 election gleefully told the Seattle Weekly:
“It was a big ‘Fuck you!’ to all the liberals out there. […] We are kicking their ass.”
Um… pot, meet kettle. (Really. Let’s meet up sometime Erin. I’ve always had a thing for trash-talking Irish women. Gimme a call.)
The whole clip is a hoot, with both Shannon and McCabe alternating between abusing me for my inflated sense of self-importance (apparently I’m one of those pathetic guys who “actually thinks he can make a difference and accomplish things” ) and repeatedly bemoaning the extraordinary influence they apparently believe I wield with the local press. Give a listen to this exchange:
Shannon: Yeah, and so you’re so important Mr. Goldstein, that we’d even waste our time. Here’s a guy who thinks that he’s so important and so influential that you’d actually take the time to go beat the you know what out of him with a baseball bat?
McCabe: That’s why I don’t want to talk about him any more.
Shannon: He’s ridiculous.
McCabe: But he is… he is influential in getting the Seattle PI to publish editorials, Erin, we just mentioned that.
So which is it? Am I “ridiculous” or “influential”? Both? (And Erin, as long as you’re wasting time telling me I’m not worth wasting your time, why not waste time together with me over a couple drinks? I understand a fondness for bars is one thing we both have in common.)
And as for that “baseball bat” thing? According to McCabe…
McCabe: Mr. Goldstein says that he believes that one day I’m going to beat him up with a baseball bat, and maybe I might even kill him. This is what he says about me, Tom McCabe. Very odd, odd thing.
Shannon: Yeah, and so you’re so important Mr. Goldstein, that we’d even waste our time.
Oh. So I guess, in context, Shannon was saying that I’m not important enough to even waste their time… beating me to death with a baseball bat. Not that such beatings are entirely out of the question, I’m just not worth the effort. Charming. Perhaps drinks wouldn’t be such a good idea after all.
In fact, I never said I believed McCabe was going to beat me with a baseball bat, or any other blunt object. Here is the quote to which he refers with the same sort of reverence for accuracy that he usual reserves for Nazi historiography:
And believe you me, the BIAW’s violent rhetoric is intended as a threat, and they fully understand the potential consequences of pumping up the anger. One of these days somebody like me is going to get the shit beaten out them by somebody like them — they’ll be waiting for me late at night with baseball bats, or worse — and when that happens our media elite, who allowed the BIAW’s dangerous rhetoric to go unridiculed, unchallenged and unchecked for so long, will be just as culpable as batshit crazy bastards like Tom McCabe and Mark Musser.
“Somebody like me is going to get the shit beaten out of them by somebody like them…” I never wrote that I believed that McCabe would attack me; I was merely repeating my oft stated belief that violent rhetoric eventually breeds violent actions, and that when such violence occurs, the instigators are as culpable as the violators. And if you take issue with that premise, go tell it to Charles Goldmark and Alan Berg.
But then you can’t really expect McCabe to even understand my words let alone accurately represent them, when he can’t even be bothered to learn my blog’s proper domain name, and bizarrely claims that HA is a blog “devoted to pummeling BIAW.” Talk about an inflated sense of self-importance, only 2.5% of my posts — 106 out of 4203 — even mention BIAW, compared to, say, 295 that reference Tim Eyman or 384 that mention Dino Rossi. Perhaps McCabe was thinking of HorsesAss.com, a site I’m guessing he’s much more familiar with?
This stuff bugs the hell out of me:
With rising condo towers and disappearing green space in Seattle, City Council members say the city needs more parks. A levy aimed at building new parks expires this year, and several on the council say the public would support renewing it.
But there’s one member of the public who does not support it — the mayor. Every voter-approved city levy since 2001 has originated with him. The City Council approved putting those levies on the ballot, but Mayor Greg Nickels proposed the property-tax increases, organized supporters and raised the money to fund the campaigns.
“We believe that this data indicates there is in fact pretty strong public support,” said Conlin. After eight years, the expiring $198 million parks levy has not met all of the city’s needs for community centers and parks, said Tom Rasmussen, chairman of the parks committee. Neighborhoods such as Belltown still need a park, he said.
Council members are now putting together a 20-member advisory committee to come up with a list of parks projects the public wants funded.
It makes me crazy that my neighborhood, neglected and ignored Belltown, is being used to justify millions in taxes that will ultimately benefit lots of other neighborhoods. Such was the case during the last parks levy. The project list shows just a single project in Belltown. Of course, Belltown has been promised a community center for years. What assurance do I have that another levy will get around to building it?
Meanwhile, for similar dollars per household, Sound Transit wants to build light rail north, east, and south. When surveyed, most folks around here find transportation to be a more pressing concern. While I’m concerned about not having a basketball court, the region’s economy doesn’t rest on my hook shot. (We should all be glad that it doesn’t.)
This is a city that does important small things (plastic bags) and important big things (fighting climate change).
Raising everyone’s property taxes NOW, in the same year Sound Transit could very well go to the ballot with a transit-only package funded by a sales tax, isn’t a great idea. See the update below.
If renewing the parks levy is so important, why don’t they already have a project list compiled? Here’s my plan: Find ten really important, we-can’t-live-without-them projects, and go to the voters with that list. In fact, combine it with funds dedicated for the remodel of the Seattle Center. (That might be the least appealing public space in the city, and could use some new resources.)
A while back, a prospective city council candidate went down to City Hall to find out what the council’s priorities were. They gave him a binder full of hundreds of “priorities.” Of course, if you have a hundred “priorities,” you don’t have any.
City Council candidates, when they stand for election, like to talk about making transportation a priority. This year, they can really do it.
I get email clarifying the tax issue:
Just to clarify, the Council is not looking to raise anyone’s taxes –
any levy that the city council is considering will cost the same or less
to taxpayers (when combined with the Mayor’s Pike Place Market levy) as
they’re paying now for the current Pro-Parks levy.
This week’s podcast featured a panel of highly regarded as well as disreputable northwest bloggers…taking a few potshots at David Postman along the way.
Topics of discussion include Will’s wonderful bus tour, Gov. Christine Gregoire as a retail politician, a follow-up on the BIAW controversy, an update on the Washington legislative races, the Dalai Lama and the lure of commerce, and The Responsible Plan (with a brief journey into the thought processes of Cokie Roberts).[audio:http://www.podcastingliberally.com/podcasts/podcasting_liberally_apr_8_2008.mp3]
The show is 49:42, and is available here as a 47.7 MB MP3.
Apparently, the BIAW has its own radio show-like-thingy or something, and… well… it doesn’t sound like they’re too fond of Seattle P-I columnist Joel Connelly:[audio:http://horsesass.org/wp-content/uploads/2008-4-8-biaw-calls-connelly-a-reptile-long.mp3]
Well, Tom McCabe didn’t specifically call Joel a Nazi, but rather a “self-avowed extreme environmentalist.” And since they equate environmentalism with Nazism, I can only assume that they believe that Joel is also a self-avowed Nazi. Meanwhile, foul-mouthed spokeswoman Erin Shannon chimes in with some constructive criticism of her own:
“His blood does run cold because he’s a little reptile. He’s a snake.”
But that’s nothing compared to what they have say about me. Stay tuned for more, coming up soon…
The Republican version of the Dems’ “Red to Blue” program is called ROMP, which stands for “Regain Our Majority Program.” But whereas Red to Blue funnels resources to Democratic challengers running in Republican held districts, the NRCC is pursuing an entirely different tactic with ROMP, prompting Daily Kos contributing editor brownsox to astutely observe:
Notice that this ROMP program, ostensibly focused on regaining the Republican majority, seems disproportionately tilted towards protecting incumbent Republican Reps. In fact, out of these 10 districts where the elephants hope to ROMP, exactly one is currently held by a Democrat, John Yarmuth of Kentucky’s 3rd District.
I find this to be a novel and fascinating method of Regaining Their Majority; by not targeting Democratic-held seats. I wish them the best of luck with this; I’m sure it’s going to work out just splendidly. Keep avoiding the Dem-held seats, and they oughta have that ol’ majority back in no time flat.
And yes, Dave Reichert is a charter member of ROMP 2008, yet another indication of just how vulnerable his colleagues understand him to be.
If you like DJ Noname, the recently s-canned midday radio dj who used to be at The End, you should check this out:
RADIO IS AWESOME TONIGHT!
The big day is here…so excited I can hardly stand it.
DJ W. Noname presents: RADIO IS AWESOME!
An evening of comedy, stories, local celebs (term used loosely) and the always amazing INSTANT WINNER to close down the show.
PLUS, THE URBAN BOMBSHELLS WILL BE IN THE HOUSE!
My goal is to make the oddest night to ever happen on a Seattle comedy stage! And I think I just might succeed. I sincerely hope you can come and support my maiden voyage.
INSTANT WINNER 930P
Limited number of VIP tix still available for $40, includes champagne reception before doors open at 7 and priority seating
MUCH LOVE AND SEE YOU TONIGHT! bob or dj w. noname
Peter Goldmark is running for Commissioner of Public Lands.
He’s a rancher, a farmer, a geneticist, and through much of his life has served the public. He served as agriculture commissioner under Gov. Mike Lowry, and on the Okanagon school board. He was a regent at Washington State University, and founded a group that helps farmers and environmentalists to work together.. He invented a species of wheat used by his neighboring farmers, and raises (what I’m told) some damn tasty grass fed beef. But to really get to know the guy, you have to know the back story:
Goldmark’s father, John, was a popular farmer and state senator in the 1950s who championed public power only to be viciously slandered as a Communist tool by a former Spokesman-Review political editor and a former legislator who had both sided with private power companies. In this fearful time of the Red Scare, John Goldmark was turned out of office and saw his life ruined.
He sued for libel in 1963 and won a huge victory against his accusers. But the stigma and whispers of “communist” played out tragically in 1985 when, on Christmas Eve, a drifter who hung around right-wing fringe groups, murdered Charles Goldmark, his wife and two children — thinking he was John Goldmark.
The savage attacks on his parents (Peter Goldmark was 17 at the time of the libel trial) and the later murder of his brother’s family may have shaped Peter Goldmark and his views of public service and politics.
If anyone has earned the chance to retire to the front porch and stay out of the public eye, it’s Peter Goldmark.
But I don’t think that wouldn’t sit right with him. That’s why he’s running for Lands Commissioner this year:
[W]e agree that we need new and better management of our state’s public forests, our shorelines, our aquatic reserves and our mineral resources. [We] agree that without sustainable management of these natural resources, we risk losing what is so special about our state. We can and must do better—it is time for a change.
I’ve spent most of my life raising wheat and cattle in the high country of Okanogan County. I have served as Director of Agriculture for the state, bred new wheat varieties and been named conservation farmer of Washington State. I will be the first Lands Commissioner to be a conservation award winning and committed manager of our lands.
I offer a new direction and positive leadership.
As usual, I’m not exactly sure what Danny Westneat is getting at. (That’s just kinda his style: tossing out apparently contrarian tidbits, and then leaving it to readers to impose their own agenda.) Danny interviews Ravenna’s renowned “oceanic garbologist” Curt Ebbesmeyer, who points out that those plastic grocery bags the mayor wants to slap a 20-cent fee on are just “one little battle out of a million.”
“If the mayor really wants to get on the stick, he should go after plastic bottles. Or plastic wrapping of food products. Or how about a tax or a ban on petroleum-based plastic, period?”
For his part, Danny performed his own field… um… beach research, confirming Ebbesmeyer’s remark:
I did my own garbology “dig” at low tide in Seattle’s Myrtle Edwards Park. In half an hour poking along 300 yards of shoreline, I found a demoralizing 173 pieces of trash.
Take out the wood (paintbrush), the metal (beer cans, foil wrappers) and the miscellaneous (earplugs, nicotine patches, ropes, a corncob, an orange traffic cone), and I was left with 137 pieces of plastic.
Top item, by far: Plastic bottles. Followed by plastic bottle caps. Then plastic lids and plastic cups. Plus a slew of plastic food packaging.
Number of plastic grocery or drugstore bags? One.
Sure, we get it Danny… one city discouraging the wasteful use of disposable bags won’t make much of an impact on such a huge problem (the way one individual conserving energy won’t slow global warming). But I know something that would make a difference, and quick: we could all, you know, stop littering!
When I was a kid in the early seventies the most visible element of the nascent environmental movement was a nationwide anti-littering campaign. It was drummed into us at school, it was relentlessly reinforced in PSAs on TV and on billboards. I even saw a state trooper pull over a car for dumping a handful of trash out the window on the Atlantic City Expressway.
Nowadays I witness trash spewing out of car windows or falling out of the hands of defiant teens on a regular basis. Recently I confronted a kid on a neighborhood playground for dropping their empty candy wrapper on the ground, and they just looked at me with one of those expressions of disdain reserved for, well, adults, before indifferently turning around and walking away. If that had been me thirty-some years ago, told to pick up my trash, I would have been mortified.
No doubt the social taboo against public littering was always strongest amongst affluent suburbanites, but it appears to be waning across the board these days, and I don’t see much of a concerted effort to reinforce it. So let’s start drumming it into our kids again, confronting offenders with reproach, and instructing the police to hand out littering tickets on our streets and our sidewalks. And let’s get that crying Indian back on TV again, for chrisakes.
Join us at the Seattle chapter of Drinking Liberally for an evening of politics under the influence. We meet at 8:00 pm at the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue E—some of us show up a little early to enjoy the cuisine.
If you find yourself in the Tri-Cities area this evening, check out McCranium for the local Drinking Liberally. Otherwise, check out the Drinking Liberally web site for dates and times of a chapter near you.
In my earlier post on the backdrop for Dave Reichert’s trip to Colombia, I neglected to cite one of the best sources for information on that part of the world, The Center for International Policy’s Plan Colombia and Beyond blog. There they have a couple of recent posts that provide even more background on the free trade agreement that the Bush Administration wants to see passed, as well as the ever-present anti-drug arrangements we have with that country.
Some recent posts:
A summation of how both Obama and Clinton have found some political landmines when it comes to Colombia and free trade in general.
A story about what happened when 6 FARC representatives (including the recently assassinated Raul Reyes) travelled to Europe to discuss peace in 2000.
A closer look at Colombia’s still very poor human rights record.
And finally, this one was particularly fascinating to me. They point to a website which shows on a map of Colombia which military and police installations are qualified for U.S. assistance. If you click through to that website, you can then click on each of the Google Maps pushpins to see where your taxpayer dollars go – largely in the effort to keep cocaine from coming into the United States. An effort which is not working, and will never work.
The politics surrounding poor people is always interesting. When it’s in someones interest to fight for them, they do. When they aren’t, they won’t. I won’t leave myself out of that. I do it, sometimes. But, I find it curious that The Times is protesting the “twenty cents for a plastic bag” because it’s bad for poor people. Via ECB:
Nickels says we need to recycle kitchen waste and stop using plastic and paper bags to help the environment. The rub is, citizens are not rewarded. A rate increase pinches an already strapped lower and middle class.[…]
Leadership should find a way to make the numbers work better. Seattle is becoming a very expensive place to live.
Poor folks are poor, not stupid. To think they can’t handle a rule change is nuts.
The Seattle Times as “crusader for the poor”… that’s funny!
I was pretty much exhausted by the end of yesterday, but here’s a little bit more…
The folks on the campaign bus are interesting people. I asked the person across the ailse from me what they did.
“I’m with the Washington Education Association.”
I asked, “Cool, what do you do with them.”
“I’m the president.”
Other folks on the bus included union folks. Electrical workers, government employees, teachers, and firefighters. The guy I talked to for about 20 minutes about Seattle firefighters and Seattle police?? Turns out he’s the head of the WSCFF. There were a few of Gregoire’s governor staff, all of them told me over and over again that they were on vacation.
This isn’t any different from other campaigns. Dino Rossi has his cadre, his bunch of folks who follow him around.
Two of my favorite guys on the bus are these guys. I missed their names, but the fella on the right is a local leader of the association of black veterans. The Gregoire campaign has lots and lots of veterans supporting it. Even the First Gentleman, Mike Gregoire. He’s a Vietnam vet. The fellas in the picture below kept referring to me at “the main blogger man.” I tried to tell them I wasn’t, but they didn’t listen.