by Jon DeVore, 02/28/2009, 7:35 PM

Barry Ritholtz asks the question. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that a right wing talk radio operative from Chicago registered a tea party site–last summer.

The VWRC lives! If it does turn out that Santelli was indeed involved in a coordinated, pre-planned offensive against Obama, he deserves to be fired immediately. And then his journalism epaulets should be yanked off and his journalist license revoked.

Then he can be hired by Fox Noise, which has no journalists.

by Jon DeVore, 02/28/2009, 12:41 PM

At The Big Picture, Marshall Auerback, an economist and global portfolio strategist for RAB Capital, persuasively lays out the case for a New “New Deal.” The abstract is inside.

Read the rest of this entry »

by Goldy, 02/28/2009, 9:24 AM

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2N8U4zVmJPs[/youtube]

Of course, his whole tale of personal heroism and defiance has since been totally debunked; Jindal’s office now admits that he played no part in the incident, in fact, wasn’t even present at the time, and only heard about it from the Sheriff days afterward.

But… in Jindal’s defense, he does start off this anecdote by saying “let me tell you a story.”  So I suppose he could claim he never intended it to be interpreted as nonfiction.

by Jon DeVore, 02/27/2009, 10:30 PM

From FDIC.

Heritage Community Bank, Glenwood, IL

Security Savings Bank, Henderson, NV

I think there really should be a tea party. Here’s one hosted by CPAC and Rush Limbaugh.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0q-9aFzIbU[/youtube]

by Goldy, 02/27/2009, 5:32 PM

In yet another blow to the city’s media outlets, Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess has announced that no, in fact he won’t challenge Mayor Greg Nickels this November after all:

Despite dissatisfaction with some aspects of Nickels’ performance, “There are many many thing where we are in sync,” Burgess said. Absent major policy differences, he argued, the race would degenerate into a contest of “personality and style.”

Yeah… well… that’s exactly what a lot of reporters were hoping for, prompting The Stranger’s Dan Savage to quip “I may have to run.”

I think I can safely speak for all of your publication’s competitors in saying run, Dan, run!

by Goldy, 02/27/2009, 1:59 PM

I was recently forwarded a copy of HB 2002, entitled “An act relating to the generation of electricity in carbonless energy parks,” and while I generally find myself in the pro-parks/anti-carbon camp, I was intrigued enough by the title to read on.  So what is, according to this bill, a carbonless energy park?

(b) “Carbonless energy park” means an unfinished site for a nuclear power project that is located east of the crest of the Cascade mountains and is partially or wholly developed to generate electricity with a production capacity of not less than 10 megawatts;

In other words, this bill specifically refers to the four unfinished nuclear plants left mothballed from the costly WPPSS fiasco.

Huh.  Sounds to me like a “carbonless energy park” is in fact a nuclear power project, as I’m not sure what other carbonless, 10 megawatt-plus generating technologies could possibly be crammed on these four specific sites?  I’m guessing none, but I’ve emailed a handful of legislators asking for further explanation, just in case I’m wrong.

Now, I want to be clear:  I’m a technologist at heart, so I break with some of my fellow environmentalists in automatically rejecting nuclear energy as a viable alternative, especially now that greenhouse gas emissions have been recognized as our most pressing environmental threat.  I believe that nuclear power plants can be designed, built and operated to be both safe and economical, and as soon as I’m persuaded we have an equally safe, economical and secure means of transporting and disposing of their radioactive waste, I’m more than willing to consider construction based on next generation designs.

But dubbing these sites “carbonless energy parks”…?  That’s not an effort to persuade; that’s an effort to deceive.

There are strong arguments to be made for reviving the domestic nuclear power industry—they may not be strong enough to sway public opinion, especially here in sandal-wearing, granola-crunching WA state, but they are valid arguments nonetheless.  So if paving the way for restarting construction at the former WPPSS sites is indeed the goal of HB 2002′s sponsors, let them make their best case possible, rather than hiding their motives behind bullshit, pseudo-green Orwellian language like “carbonless energy parks.”

by Goldy, 02/27/2009, 1:06 PM

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZMqbH8sduU[/youtube]

by Will, 02/27/2009, 10:00 AM

I found this paragraph in co-blogger Paul Andrews’ great post about a proposed apartment building in his neighborhood of Phinney Ridge. Some of the neighbors aren’t happy with the condo’s design, and they met with the Northwest Design Review Board to have their voices heard.

Among those voicing concern was Bruce Ramsey of The Seattle Times, himself a Phinney resident.

“We have a garden, apple trees, plum tree, plants in our windows — that’s a lot of shade,” said next-door neighbor Bruce Ramsey. Step-back upper stories, he said, “and we would get a little more sun.”

After laughing out loud, it made me wonder… Can a principled libertarian fight regulation on the “macro” level, only to embrace nanny-state, ticky-tack regulation locally?

by Goldy, 02/27/2009, 9:31 AM

Both the Seattle P-I and the Seattle Times editorialize today, demanding that longtime King County Assessor Scott Noble resign in the wake of his serious drunk-driving accident.  It would be hard to disagree.

Just any DUI should not automatically disqualify one from public office, though it certainly is more than fair fodder in a political campaign, but this incident—a near fatal u-turn on I-5, with Noble registering a blood-alcohol of .22%—is not just any DUI.  And Noble’s failure to proactively admit and apologize for the incident only compounds this gross violation of the public trust.

Were the Assessor an appointed position, Noble would no doubt be fired, and considering the seriousness of this incident there is little doubt that he would lose reelection should he be foolish enough to seek it.  Noble should do the right thing for voters, his office and himself, and resign now.

by Jon DeVore, 02/27/2009, 3:37 AM

KGW-TV in Portland had an exclusive report last night about the deadly Dec., 2008 bank bombing in Woodburn, Or., that killed two law enforcement officers and seriously wounded a third. It seems the accused suspects, the father-son duo of Bruce Turnidge and Joshua Turnidge, had been planning (or perhaps “fantasizing” is a more accurate term) about robbing banks ever since 1994.

According to a police affidavit, a family friend, Ronald Laughlin, stated that he heard Bruce, Joshua and another family member who has not been charged in the case “speak so often about robbing banks that it became like ‘white noise’. Often, Laughlin said, they’d “discuss methods of robbery including diversions.”

Laughlin described the men as Constitutionalists and anti-government.

According to investigators, in the summer of 1994, Laughlin recalled meeting Joshua and Bruce Turnidge for lunch in Woodburn.

Witness Joshua Turnidge said “he had called the bank and told them there was a bomb and they were to deliver $20,000 to $40,000 to a construction Port-a-potty.” Laughlin said he watched police arrive at the bank.

How odd they were thinking of that in 1994, the summer of love, er, black helicopters. I can’t find seem to find anything in the Constitution about blowing up banks and killing cops, oddly enough.

The new information makes a statement by Oregon Republican chair Vance Day shortly after the deadly Dec., 2008 bombing even more curious.

And the arrests of two members of the Turnidge family — which decades ago helped start the Salem Academy Christian schools — have left those who know the family incredulous.

“I would be very surprised if Bruce Turnidge was involved in that,” said Vance Day, the Oregon GOP chairman and a Salem attorney who has known brothers Bruce and Pat Turnidge for several years. “I know him to be strong, very pro-American. He doesn’t believe in violence of that sort whatsoever.”

Now, it’s true that there be monsters in the world, and sometimes you think you know people and all that. So I have no problem taking at face value the idea that Day was genuinely stunned. It’s not really clear from press accounts what relationship Day had with the Turnidges. Political leaders meet all sorts of folks, take their money, shake their hand and move on.

Still, WTF? And there’s another family member who was also talking about robbing banks in 1994? Remember, this is a fairly prominent family in Salem. Crazy.

by Goldy, 02/26/2009, 7:18 PM

[flv]http://mediamatters.org/static/video/2009/02/26/cpac-20090226-bolton.flv[/flv]

Just listen to those slap-happy jokesters at CPAC loudly laugh and cheer at the mere thought of Chicago being destroyed in a nuclear attack.  And who says conservatives don’t have a sense of humor?

by BTB, 02/26/2009, 4:46 PM

The state Senate Democrats released a compilation of the bills that died in committee yesterday, a sepulchral list with topics ranging from the too good to be true, like civil marriage and electric car tax breaks, to the cringe-inducing.

Cutoff Day hits Olympia

Cutoff Day hits Olympia

Josh at Publicola has the full list of thwarted bills, and a slightly more appropriate cutoffs picture.

Included in the list of killed bills are dozens of would-be laws that casual observers might call non-essential, but which clearly held some importance to a little-known constituency or some ill-funded interest group.

More importantly, the list speaks volumes about the legislative consciences of the two parties, and some of its particular members.

Aside from a few non-sequiturs, cutoff bills tend to be those that reach a little too far. In other words, they represent what the party activists really want.

Here is where the Democrats ran afoul of themselves.

Sen. Ed Murray’s (D-Seattle) SB 5674 would have recognized the right of all citizens to obtain civil marriage licenses, and had his SB 5476 not been cut off, Washington would have joined 14 other states (including progressive hotbeds like Iowa, West Virginia, Alaska and North Dakota) in abolishing the death penalty.

The Dems also apparently reached too far with one of the most intriguing (and risky) aspects of the Senate Dems’ green energy package, SB 5418, which was Sen. Fred Jarrett’s bit about providing tax breaks for companies who installed electric car charging stations in their parking lots, and would have directed state agencies to install them as part of a move to become full electric and bio-fueled by 2016.

Still some of the castaways are mildly Draconian, like Sen. Steve Hobbs’ SB 5183 to increase child porn cases to include people who voluntarily view it on the internet, as if the courts could prove that some innocent porn browser didn’t accidentally click on a tantalizing link.

And others border on the nanny state, like Sen. Rodney Tom’s SB5857, which tried to ban artificial trans fats from restaurants with local permits. But hey, it’s the thought that counts.

And then you’ve got the dead Republican bills.

SB 5362, brought by Sen. Linda Evans Parlette (R-Wenatchee) who hails from the state’s most conservative legislative district, would have suspended the component that currently requires our state’s minimum wage be tied to a Consumer Price Index and required it to stay at $8.55 per hour until further notice.

Val Stevens (R-Lake Stevens), against whom the Democrats poured a lot of money this past fall in the guise of disgraced Sultan Police Chief Fred Walser’s candidacy, put forth a bill that would prevent the Legislature from working on any problems not directly related to balancing the budget.

Because, you know, who needs forward thinking?

Stevens also proposed a WASL-worshiping bill that would have require school districts to pay for remedial education for students who graduate from their school but still move on to college.

Saving the best for last, Sen. Janea Holmquist (R-Moses Lake), wanted the state Senate to officially petition President Obama and others to reverse the 2005 9th Circuit Court’s ruling that stated that requiring children to say “under God” in the pledge of allegiance is unconstitutional.

Besides the general party flavor, cutoff day also gives us a chance to see which Senators suffer from Allen Iverson syndrome, whereby, no matter how successful they might be otherwise, they still heave up a bunch of forehead slappers.

Long-serving Sen. Ken Jacobsen (D-North Seattle), who is both prolific and Quixotic in his legislative writing, led the way with seven failed bills.

Jacobsen’s bills touched on important, if slightly errant, topics like reinstating WWU’s football team, labeling cloned animals sold as food, limiting bank fees, allowing dogs in bars and coffee shops, creating an airline passenger’s bill of rights and creating a fund for local students heading to historically black colleges. Another, SB 5128, would increase the driving age for ORVs from 13 to 18 and designate some state money to look into the costs of ORV usage.

Runner up to Jacobsen in the failed bill department is Sen. Mike “Law & Order” Carrell (R-Lakewood), who represents the swinging 28th District that covers portions of Tacoma, Lakewood and the area west of the South Puget Sound’s major military posts, Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base, and aside from Carrell has elected two Democratic State Representatives.

He had five bills miss the cut, and based on their content, it really causes one to wonder how this guy continues to be re-elected in a light blue district.

His SB 5213 would have required people who register to vote to provide proof of citizenship, and his SB 5217 wanted to make sure that no money was spent on art in state prisons, just in case someone was thinking about committing a crime but then before pulling the trigger thought, “a ten-year prison sentence on McNeil Island without the possibility of looking at a Rembrandt, or even a Betty Mears, is just too much to bear!”

He also wanted to increase sentences for criminals who wear body armor, and require the state to build and maintain monuments outside all military bases in the state. Sir, yes sir.

Anyway those are the laws that the legislature definitely won’t be passing this session. As for what will come through the hatch, we’ve got two more exciting months to find out.

by Jon DeVore, 02/26/2009, 2:35 PM

This morning over at Publicola, Josh Feit pens an “angry editorial,” (his words, not mine) about transportation funding going to Republican-dominated state legislative districts when their members voted against the nickel-a-gallon gas tax. (I see Josh has also cross-posted the editorial at HA here.)

While I understand Josh’s frustration, and freely admit to not really knowing squat about the merits of the Mercer Street project up there, I would throw in one little factoid.

One of the projects Feit mentions is an interchange project in Clark County’s 18th LD, the home of Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, ranking member of Ways and Means. It’s true the 18th district is very conservative, but the rest of Clark County, not so much. Plus people don’t choose their automotive route by legislative district. If you need to go somewhere, you need to go somewhere.

The more urban 49th is a solid Democratic district, and the 17th District on the east side has moved from leaning Republican to leaning Democratic with the election of Rep. Tim Probst, D-Vancouver, who replaced the useless turd Jim Dunn. But I digress.

Here’s the little factoid I want to consider:

Among Washington’s 39 counties, only four receive less than Clark County for each dollar it contributes for transportation projects.

The Washington Department of Transportation last week generated a new county-by-county comparison that shows Clark County gets 79 cents in transportation projects for every dollar it contributes in taxes, mainly in gas taxes.

—snip—

Eric Hovee, an economic and development consultant in Vancouver, noted that the comparison shows big counties around Puget Sound receive just about exactly what they contribute. (King County is the only one in the state that receives exactly $1 in projects for every dollar contributed). Hovee scanned to the bottom of the list, where rural counties reaped large dividends.

So King County and Puget Sound area residents are basically getting their money back, Clark County residents are getting the short end of the stick (so what’s new?) and the smaller counties are getting a great benefit. This kind of imbalance only fuels resentment and makes it that much harder to fund things down here.

Just something to add to the mix.

by Goldy, 02/26/2009, 11:15 AM

After months of legal maneuvering and public grandstanding in his futile effort to reverse the results of his excruciatingly close loss to Al Franken, former US Senator Norm Coleman is now calling for a revote in the Minnesota senate race.  Sounds familiar, huh?

This represents a come to Jesus moment for Coleman and his attorneys, for as we learned here in Washington state during the 2004 gubernatorial contest—where Dino Rossi only started calling for a revote after it became clear he had lost the recount—a call for a do-over election is not only the last, desperate refuge of losers, it is a losing argument in itself.

“What does the court do?” Norm asked rhetorically. “Yeah, you know some folks are now talking about simply saying run it again, just run it again. … Ultimately the court has to make a determination, can they confirm, can they certify who got the most legally cast votes?”

Yeah…  except, Coleman is an attorney, and so he knows that’s not the determination before the court.  It’s the canvassing board that determines who got the most legally cast votes; the court ultimately only determines if the board acted properly, and within the applicable statutes.  There are irregularities and errors in every election, and in a contest this close, nobody can absolutely confirm who got the most legally cast votes.

Coleman’s self-serving and situational solution?

“I got to believe next time this happens folks are going to say … if you have something within a couple of say percentage – this is by the way was thousandths of a percent – but if you have something within a couple of hundred votes out of three million cast, probably the best thing to do next time is run it again in three weeks and put all this other stuff aside.”

And, um… if three weeks later, it still comes to within a couple hundred votes out of three million, what then?

The problem for Coleman and his revote argument is that our election statutes clearly anticipate extremely close elections, as best illustrated by the provisions in place for handling an actual tie; in Minnesota as in most other jurisdictions, once the recount and challenge provisions have been exhausted, ties are determined not by the courts or by a new election, but by lot. This is because our election statutes generally prefer finality over certainty… and with good reason.

See, what Coleman has understandably lost sight of is that this election is not about him or Franken or their supporters or even the voters of Minnesota and their sense of justice and fair play.  Elections are about the smooth, peaceful and efficient transfer of power.  Elections are sometimes very close, and they are almost always conducted imperfectly, but the stability, continuity and legitimacy of our government is too important to be threatened by lengthy court challenges and perhaps an endless cycle of do-over elections.

In Minnesota in 2008, as in Washington state in 2004, the margin of victory is so far within the likely rate of error that it is fair to categorize both contests as a statistical tie.  Perhaps Coleman did receive a few more legally cast votes than Franken, perhaps not.  We’ll never know.  But Franken was determined the winner by the rules in place at the time, and that makes him at least as legitimate as those who are selected by the drawing of straws or the flip of a coin… and certainly more legitimate than Coleman and his ill-conceived, selfish and ultimately futile calls for revote.

by Goldy, 02/26/2009, 10:30 AM

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFJVbdiMgfM[/youtube]

by Goldy, 02/26/2009, 9:56 AM
by Jon DeVore, 02/26/2009, 6:59 AM

The respective mayors of Vancouver and Portland announced an agreement yesterday concerning the Columbia River Crossing, the project to replace the aging spans between the two cities known as the Interstate Bridge.

The mayors of Portland and Vancouver say that a new Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River should have 12 lanes.

They also propose a bistate commission to manage the new bridge, along with the Interstate 205 crossing upstream, including tolls, high-occupancy lanes and transit fares “to reduce vehicle miles traveled and pollution.”

So over at NPI Advocate, a poster named Brock raises concerns about how all this is going to cause more sprawl, destroy farms, etc. Basically they’re the same concerns voiced by some folks in Portland about a “huge” new bridge, with a fair amount of focus on the number of lanes on the bridge itself.

Read the rest of this entry »

by Lee, 02/25/2009, 10:00 PM

- I was chatting with Dan Robinson last night at DL, and he was telling me about an encounter he had during his latest call-in for jury duty. An older gentleman, when asked if he thought the accused had done something wrong, responded by saying “well, he must have done something wrong, or he wouldn’t be here.” The examples of why it’s a bad idea to believe that are far too numerous to mention, but another huge one surfaced last week.

Over at Reason, Radley Balko breaks another story involving corruption in Mississippi. In this case, an old video surfaced showing Michael West, a forensics expert working on a case from Monroe, Louisiana, intentionally putting bitemarks on a toddler who’d drowned in a bathtub. The defendant who was eventually convicted in the case, Jimmie Duncan, has been sitting on death row for 10 years.

Balko has long covered the case of Mississippi’s main medical examiner and West’s colleague, Steven Hayne (more posts here). Hayne has been doing autopsies in Mississippi for 20 years (and doing far more than other forensics experts say is even possible) and has testified in thousands of trials. There have already been a number of people who’ve been exonerated by DNA or other evidence after being sent to long prison terms, or even death row, by Hayne’s testimony.

- Josh Marshall writes about Sir Allen Stanford, the nation of Antigua, and how the latter owes the former $100 million.

Now, I have an affinity for the place because I’ve been there three times. Not that I’m some big Caribbean island hopper or world traveller. It’s the only place that I’ve ever been in the Caribbean. But I’ve been there three times. So I know the place a bit. And Stanford’s flameout has completely upended the whole place because he had made himself such a player there. As a funny illustration, a few days ago I went to the website of the local newspaper, the Antigua Sun, to try to find out the latest on what was happening down there. And I couldn’t find anything about it, which struck me as weird. And then I dug a little deeper to discover that … well, the Antigua Sun is owned by Sir Allen. So maybe that explains it.

The country has been hit by a major banking panic, not surprisingly. And the entire population has been in a panic over what’s going to happen to the country. Today the government announced that it is confiscating the land that Sir Allen owns in the island “to protect the national economy.” And that makes me wonder if more of that might be afoot because a few days ago the Prime Minister revealed that the government of Antigua owes Stanford “more than $100 million.”

And in good news for rich Americans looking to do business in the Caribbean, we might be able to play in Cuba again soon.

- Legendary drug warrior Calvina Fay speaks out against the California bill to regulate marijuana:

“If we think the drug cartels are going to tuck their tails between their legs and go home, I think we’re badly mistaken,” Fay said.

“They’re going to heavily target our children.”

Calvina, they already heavily target our children. Not just as customers, but as employees too. If you legalize marijuana, you’ll no longer have 16 year old kids standing on the street selling it. You’ll have old hippies in a head shop or maybe a state liquor store doing that. And the unscrupulous people who still try to sell drugs to young people? Well, we’ll finally have the police resources to catch them when we’re not wasting our time trying to arrest Michael Phelps.

- Finally, with Jenny Durkan looking to become the U.S. Attorney for Western Washington, what will happen with the case against Marc Emery, the Canadian marijuana seed-seller who’s long been fighting extradition by the previous two U.S. Attorneys here?

by Darryl, 02/25/2009, 7:02 PM

Goldy and friends speak frankly and directly on three critical topics. They begin with a bar-room-inspired analysis of Obama’s address to the joint session of Congress. A few swings get thrown at Bobby Jindal and the pursed-lipped ninnies sitting on one side of the chamber. The topic then turns to former Governor Gary Locke, who is on his way to the other Washington to have his tax returns scrutinized. Regardless of a few jabs and hooks, Goldy really does like Locke. Really! Finally, at risk of a total brawl, the panel undertakes the task of fixing Washington State’s budget problems….

Goldy was joined by Seattle P-I columnist Joel Connelly, Group News Blog publisher Jesse Wendel, Effin’ Unsound’s and Horsesass’s Carl Ballard, and The Other Side –Online’s John Wyble.

The show is 37:35, and is available here as an MP3:

[Recorded live at the Seattle chapter of Drinking Liberally. Special thanks to Confab creators Gavin and Richard for hosting the site.]

by Goldy, 02/25/2009, 5:12 PM