Archives for October 2009
A new Washington Poll released today shows Democrat Dow Constantine leading Republican Susan Hutchison 47-34 in the race for King County Executive.
This is a reversal of previous publicly released polls, but is consistent with two private polls I’ve heard word of over the past week. It will be interesting to see if SurveyUSA, which has consistently shown Hutchison in lead, finds a similar reversal in their final survey, which I believe is due to be released later today.
The Washington Poll also shows Referendum 71 passing by a 57-38 margin, while Tim Eyman’s incredibly idiotic Initiative 1033 fails 40-49.
I’d say all of that is good news.
Susan Hutchison will run for the U.S. Senate. (As a Republican, silly.)
If elected executive, who would Susan Hutchison appoint to the Sound Transit board? Erica’s got the scoop.
Once again, isn’t it ironic that it is Darcy Burner, not Dave Reichert, who is playing the bigger role in our national health care debate? According to The Hill:
The head of a not-for-profit organization affiliated with House Democratic liberals plans to raise $1 million next year to give liberals an edge in public policy battles with the conservative Blue Dog Coalition.
Darcy Burner, the executive director of ProgressiveCongress.org, a nonprofit education and advocacy organization, has played a behind-the-scenes role in the healthcare debate, applying constant pressure on Democratic leaders to keep the public option on the negotiating table.
[…] The renamed group, which includes an educational wing organized under section 501(c)3 of the tax code and a 501(c)4 advocacy wing, has served as an important bridge between House liberals and outside groups such as MoveOn.org, US Action, People For the American Way and the AFL-CIO. It has also worked with influential liberal blogs such as Daily Kos and OpenLeft to provide updates of internal Democratic deliberations and keep up a drumbeat of demand for the public option.
But, you know, don’t expect any coverage of Darcy’s efforts in the Seattle Times, because otherwise they wouldn’t be able to dismiss her as inexperienced should choose to run for office again.
Those who have criticized my relentless attacks on Susan Hutchison as a Bible-thumpin’, evolution-denyin’, partisan right-wing Republican, have generally missed the point.
I do not argue that any of her beliefs or affiliations, however extreme, should disqualify Hutchison from holding public office. “No religious test shall ever be required…” and all that. That’s a good thing.
I just insist that Hutchison be honest about it, and barring that, that the press hold her accountable.
Take for example the video above, in which I compare and contrast Hutchison’s effort to minimize her contribution to Mike Huckabee, with her obvious infatuation with the most prominently Evangelical of the 2008 presidential candidates. When asked about her $500 contribution to Huckabee during a KCTS debate, Hutchison could’ve just said that she supported his candidacy, and explained the reasons why. But she didn’t.
Instead, she attempted to explain it away:
Well, when I was a journalist, as you know, we don’t contribute to political campaigns. And so when I ended my career, I started to respond to all of those messages that we got in the mail, or phone calls.
And one of them was from a friend of mine who said, “Let’s go hear Mike Huckabee speak… he’s a popular governor from Arkansas,” and at that point nobody had really heard much about him. And she said “He’s got innovative ideas.” And this friend of mine has done a lot of politicking, and so I said, “Okay, I’ll go with you to that lunch,” and I wrote the check. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the lunch, and so, that is the extent of my check writing for Mike Huckabee.
To anybody who watched the KCTS debate, the impression she gave was clear. 1) Journalists “don’t contribute to political campaigns,” so Hutchison was new to the world of partisan politics. 2) Like most everyone else, she hadn’t heard much about Huckabee at the time. And 3) she wrote the check merely at the request of a friend who spoke highly of Huckabee, and invited her to hear him speak. When Hutchison says “that is the extent of my checking writing for Mike Huckabee,” she clearly intends to leave the impression that this was the extent of her involvement with Huckabee as well.
But all three of these impressions simply aren’t true.
First of all, KIRO-TV ended Hutchison’s “journalism” career way back in 2002, while the Huckabee luncheon wasn’t until November 15, 2007. That’s a full five years of responding to all those messages and phone calls, so she couldn’t possibly have been the partisan political novice she makes herself out to be at the time.
In fact, according to PDC and FEC reports, Hutchison started giving to political campaigns as early as September of 2003, with a $500 contribution toward the reelection of President George W. Bush; by 2005, she had become a regular contributor to Republican candidates and causes. Indeed, by the time Hutchison wrote her $500 check to Huckabee, she had already written 23 checks totaling $12,500, to 16 different campaigns and committees… Republican all.
So the image of Hutchison as a naive check-writing newbie? That’s misimpression number one, especially considering her entire career since leaving KIRO had been writing checks on behalf of billionaire Charles Simonyi.
As for the impression Hutchison leaves that she didn’t know much about Huckabee at the time, well the video clips above speak for themselves, but here’s the timeline. The Huckabee luncheon was on Nov. 15, 2007, and her check is recorded on Nov. 19. Yet on Sept. 27, 2007, nearly two months earlier, Hutchison can be seen lauding Huckabee before a packed house at the conservative Washington Policy Center’s annual dinner, an event she’s been emceeing for years:
“As you know, if you’ve been here before, our speakers inform, inspire and predict the future. Anyone who was here last year is not surprised that Mike Huckabee is performing well in the presidential race for the Republican primary.”
Hutchison is talking about the 2006 annual dinner, at which Mike Huckabee was the featured speaker, and she, as usual, was the master of ceremonies. So… even though she implies that she didn’t know much about Huckabee in November of 2007 at the time she wrote him a $500.00 check, she had in fact personally met the man, and had been “informed and inspired” by him, a full year earlier, in 2006… a speech she fondly recalled in September of 2007 at the following year’s dinner.
That’s just plain deceptive.
And finally, that politically involved friend Hutchison refers to… the one who invited her to hear Huckabee speak, and who allegedly gushed about his “innovative ideas”…? That was almost surely Sarah Rindlaub, “one of Hutchison’s closest political allies,” a Washington Policy Center board member.
And the lunch itself? An Evangelicals for Huckabee endorsement event, sponsored by Joe Fuiten and twenty other conservative pastors.
Again, Hutchison has the right to associate with and contribute to anybody she wants, but the public has just as much a right to know about it. And therein lies my biggest complaint with the way Hutchison has run her campaign, and the way the press has covered it.
Knowing the facts, anybody watching Hutchison’s efforts to minimize her support for Huckabee simply wouldn’t find her credible. Yet most voters don’t know the facts, and for that I hold our local media complicit.
TVW is playing its games again, filing takedown notices with YouTube for what clearly amounts to fair use. So I’ve reposted via Vimeo. So there.
TVW has apparently had my video pulled from Vimeo, so I’ve replaced the embed with one from LiveLeak. I’m willing to play this game as long as they are.
Raw Story reports on a discussion about legalizing marijuana that would have seemed impossible only a few years ago.
After vowing to block the tunnel, McGinn flipped last week following the City Council’s unanimous vote in favor of it, and said, “OK, I still dislike the tunnel but I won’t block it.” Or words to that effect.
“Or words to that effect”…? Really?
Now, what is it they call that pair of double squiggly things? Quotation marks, right? And forgive my lack of a J-school education, but in a newspaper, aren’t the words between them generally understood to represent an actual quote? You know, like words the subject, um, said… not kinda-sorta said, or almost said, or gee, wouldn’t it be funny if they said it like that?
Well, according to our state’s paper of record, apparently not. Apparently, and I guess I must’ve missed this section of the AP Style Guide, it is totally journalistically kosher to attribute whatever you want to a subject — even to put those definitive quotation marks around the words and everything — as long as you follow the fabricated quote with the caveat: “Or words to that effect.”
You know, like…
When asked how his ill advised foray into the Maine newspaper market contributed to the Seattle Times’ own financial woes, publisher Frank Blethen philosophically offered, “I eat poo.” Or words to that effect.
In a rare moment of candor, King County executive candidate Susan Hutchison surprised the audience by admitting that her transportation priorities would include “killing light rail, building more roads, and judiciously licking Kemper Freeman’s anus.” Or words to that effect.
Or maybe even this…
Seattle Times editorial page editor Ryan Blethen defended his qualifications for the post, attributing his meteoric rise to “that extra chromosome I inherited from my father.” Or words to that effect.
I mean, it’s not like Mike McGinn didn’t speak at length about his very pragmatic decision not to unilaterally block a 9-0 vote of the City Council, so the Times had every opportunity to relate his words exactly. But they didn’t. McGinn’s thoughtful explanation didn’t quite fit the Times’ chosen meme of him as an unprincipled flip-flopper. So instead, they just made stuff up.
See how easy it is? Professional journalists and lowly bloggers alike can now simply put words into other people’s mouths, however defamatory, quotation marks and all, and at no risk of giving up a costly libel award, all thanks to the Seattle Times’ clever new Or Words To That Effect defense… a journalistic ethos reflected in the paper’s new motto: “Making shit up since 1896.”
Or words to that effect.
Afghan opium kills 100,000 people every year worldwide — more than any other drug — and the opiate heroin kills five times as many people in NATO countries each year than the eight-year total of NATO troops killed in Afghan combat, the United Nations said Wednesday.
About 15 million people around the world use heroin, opium or morphine, fueling a $65 billion market for the drug and also fueling terrorism and insurgencies: The Taliban raised $450 million to $600 million over the past four years by “taxing” opium farmers and traffickers, Antonio Maria Costa, head of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, said in a report.
Not all the money is going into the pockets of rebels or drug dealers; some Afghan officials are making money off the trade as well, he said.
I’m amazed that it even needs to be pointed out that Afghan officials are making money off this trade. It accounts for somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of that nation’s GDP. Here in the US, the financial service and insurance industries account for less than 10% of our GDP, yet they’ve been able to use their financial clout to run our government for the past few decades.
In all of the discussions about what to do in Afghanistan, though, this topic hardly ever comes up. It’s central to how the Taliban have funded their resurgence, yet it’s treated as a sideshow – as if it were irrelevant to our ability to succeed there. It’s not. As long as the Taliban continues to profit from the trade, they will never be “defeated” by any Afghan government that is forced to treat the opium industry as a form of corruption that needs to be eradicated.
Thankfully, this CNN report was done by the excellent Christiane Amanpour, so there was actually a dissenting point of view to counter the “bury our heads in the sand and send in more troops” perspective:
The report offered little new in the way of possible solutions, said Ethan Nadelmann, founding executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which promotes alternatives to the war on drugs.
“It’s very good at describing a problem,” he said. “But it truly is devoid of any kind of pragmatic solution, and it essentially suggests that the answer is to keep doing more of what’s failed us in the past.”
So long as there is a global demand for opium, there will be a supply, he said.
“If Afghanistan were suddenly wiped out as a producer of opium — by bad weather or a blight or eradication efforts — other parts of the world would simply emerge as new producers, “creating all sorts of new problems,” he said.
And Afghanistan itself would not be helped either, he said.
“You would see in Afghanistan millions of people probably flocking to the cities unable to make a living and probably turning more to the Taliban than they are now,” he said.
He listed three possible options. The first, global legalization and control, “is not happening, not any time soon,” he said.
The second option is to increase drug treatment for addicts who want it and to provide legal access to the drug, as Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, England, Spain and Canada have done, he said.
“In all of these places, there are small, growing programs of heroin maintenance that allow addicts to obtain pharmaceutical-grade heroin from legal sources rather than from the black market,” he said.
But Nadelmann added that more people died of opiate overdose last year involving pharmaceutical opiates than died from illegal heroin.
A third possibility, he said, would be to view Afghanistan as essentially a red-light zone of global opium production and to think about the solution as a vice-control challenge, “which means acknowledge that Afghanistan is going to continue to be the world’s supplier of illegal opium for the foreseeable future and then focus on manipulating and regulating the market participants, even though it is still illegal.”
He added, “That, I think, is in some respects the de facto strategy, even though it cannot be stated openly, for political reasons.”
Dick Cheney can complain all he wants about Obama dithering, but it was his boss and their administration who were dithering about this problem for seven whole years instead of addressing it head on. The Bush Administration was warned repeatedly that trying to aggressively eradicate the opium trade would backfire and hand the country back over to the Taliban (even the European Parliament urged them to consider licensing the production). He didn’t listen and that’s exactly what happened.
Despite the long and storied history of empires meeting their demise in Afghanistan, I don’t believe that a humiliating defeat there is guaranteed. But even the most sophisticated counter-insurgency effort will fail unless we start to understand how the opium industry functions, why it exists, and the pitfalls of trying to remove it as part of that effort. As Nadelmann pointed out, our current strategy is starting to look more like one of tolerating the production while manipulating the participants. In the end, if we seek out some sort of agreement with the Taliban, that’s essentially what it will be – a deal with those who now control the opium trade. It may look like a defeat to people who’ve been conditioned to equate drug traffickers with terrorists, but it was the war itself that joined those two forces. When the Taliban were in power, they were also trying to eradicate the opium harvests. Making a deal with those who control the opium trade in order to isolate those whose main interest is fighting America is how we win there.
The difference between FAUX and the News explained:
(This and forty more media clips from the past week in politics can be found at Hominid Views.)
Susan Hutchison has made much hay in recent days about an email from County Councilmember Reagan Dunn that allegedly shows he was concerned that he would lose funding for projects within his district if he didn’t vote for a ferry district tax sponsored by Dow Constantine.
In his Nov. 5, 2007 e-mail to County Council attorney Jim Brewer, Dunn asks if “vote-trading” is legal in Washington, and asks whether council members can legally “remove projects located in one Councilmember’s district when that Councilmember refuses to vote in favor of tax increases.”
Dunn said today he was worried that senior centers and other programs in his district would lose funding if he voted against the tax to fund passenger-only ferries.
At first I just wrote off Dunn’s alleged concerns to woosy naivete, or perhaps naive woosiness. I mean, horse trading in politics? Heaven forfend!
But as it turns out, Dunn is just a shameless hypocrite, as evidenced by how proud he is over his councilmanic arm-twisting to restore funding to the King County Fair in Enumclaw:
King County Councilman Reagan Dunn is pushing the issue in Seattle, urging his fellow council members to include at least $318,000 in the 2010 budget to make the fair a reality. … Dunn said he’s working on the rest of the county council, calling in favors when necessary.
“This is budget politics at its best,” he said, referring to the give-and-take that occurs when nine elected officials must come together to pass a working budget.
So let’s see… when Republican Dunn twists arms and calls in favors to save projects in his own district, that’s “budget politics at its best,” but when Democrat Constantine allegedly does the same, well, that’s a clear sign of corruption.