by Goldy, 12/31/2009, 12:53 PM

Now that the race for King County Executive is long over, it’s interesting to compare this:

[Susan] Hutchison said she solved a significant budget shortfall as chairwoman of the Seattle Symphony board of directors. “I solve problems and I fix things,” she said, “and King County needs a fix.”

With this:

The Seattle Symphony, already beset by immense challenges, including a $4 million debt and vacancies in its two top positions, still has not reached a new contract agreement with its musicians union and could potentially face a musicians strike.

No  doubt the Symphony was already in a heap of hurt when Hutchison took over as board chair, but let’s be clear, she didn’t fix crap. Indeed, the Symphony’s fortunes only deteriorated further during her tumultuous tenure. So tumultuous, that when Leslie Jackson Chihuly took over the reins from Hutchison earlier this year, normally stoic board members erupted in a loud celebratory cheer at the transfer.

The Symphony ended its recent fiscal year running a $1.2 million deficit on a budget that Hutchison approved as chairwoman. In fact, they’ve only managed to keep the lights on by dipping into their endowment, already one of the smallest in the nation for a big city symphony. That’s what’s known as eating your seed corn.

Yet, “I solve problems and fix things,” Hutchison repeated throughout the campaign, pointing to her tenure at the Symphony, a claim that largely went unchallenged in the media. Indeed, the Seattle Times editorial board even lauded Hutchison’s budgetary prowess in attempting to explain its ridiculous endorsement of her in the executive’s race.

But now that the shit has finally hit the fan, I wonder if Hutchison will continue to run on her leadership of the Symphony should she choose to challenge Sen. Patty Murray in November? And if so, I wonder if our media will continue to quietly hum along?

by Lee, 12/31/2009, 11:53 AM

Dick Cheney giving advice on how to fight terrorism is like Charlie Sheen giving advice on how to save your marriage.

by Lee, 12/31/2009, 10:49 AM

Back in November, I posted the following:

Remember the big push a few years back after the Terri Schiavo mess to encourage people to have a living will for such situations? If you were one of the people who did that, make sure you avoid Catholic health care institutions as they’ve been ordered by the United States Council of Catholic Bishops to ignore people’s wishes and keep patients alive regardless of the circumstance.

When I posted this, I didn’t think it was too terribly daring a thing to post about (although I certainly could have been more specific about the relevant circumstances, which are fairly rare), but for Joel Connelly of the Seattle PI, it apparently struck a nerve, as he left this comment for me:

Would you please spare us your anti-Catholic bigotry? It was disgusting during the I-2000 [sic] campaign. It is despicable now.
A simple call to Providence administrators, or the boss up at St. Joseph Hospital in Bellingham, would have given you honest material with which to work. You could have asked about living wills — in which a person’s wishes get laid out — which are strongly encouraged.
You could have asked about the provision for hospice care, available to everyone regardless of ability to pay.
Or you could have delved into what they’d do in the case of a patient wishing to exercise his/her “right” to end life.
Instead, we get an ignorant screech.
Apparently, on Horsesass.org, one form of religious prejudice is not only acceptable but encouraged.

After reading this, I was genuinely worried that the folks at Compassion and Choices might have overstated their case and that maybe I was being a little too harsh in my post. So I tried to contact a number of local Catholic hospitals via email asking if Connelly was right and that they would refuse the directive that C&C was referencing, but I got nothing back. Then I contacted Connelly directly to see if he could point me to a facility who would “give me honest material with which to work”. Oddly, when I did this, Connelly sent me the name of a hospital administrator to contact, then started walking back his claims after I posted an update to HorsesAss.

By this point, though, I was already starting to become well aware that Connelly was full of shit. In fact, the hospital administrator whose name he gave me wasn’t the only name he passed along. He also sent me the name of a hospital administrator in Canada, despite the fact that this directive was from the United States Council of Catholic Bishops. Connelly apparently knew nothing about the updated directive or the legal and ethical issues involved and simply didn’t care. As far as I can tell, he just assumed that Compassion and Choices was full of it because he doesn’t like them. And he was confident enough about this blind assertion to call me a bigot over it.

Barbara Coombs Lee from Compassion and Choices, however, does know what she’s talking about and does understand the issues involved here. Her latest post details more of the legal and ethical issues behind this decree and points to this article, which quotes from someone a bit more qualified than Connelly:

Alan Meisel, founder and director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Bioethics and Health Law, wonders if Catholic hospitals could be compelled by law to respect patients’ advance directives, regardless of the Church’s moral stance. He says it is not clear whether the legally binding power of an advance directive would outweigh the Church’s right to administer medicine in accordance with its beliefs.

“[If] the hospital seeks to impose a treatment on a patient which that person does not want, to impose that treatment is battery,” he says,but adds a caveat: “One could say since you’ve admitted yourself to a Catholic hospital, that’s a form of consent.

“If I were a patient with a directive,” he continues, “I would probably add to it that I didn’t want to be taken to a Catholic hospital.”

I’m sure Joel Connelly will get his typewriter out now and send Meisel a little note informing him that he needs to spare us all his anti-Catholic bigotry.

UPDATE: In somewhat related news, the Montana Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that legalizes death with dignity in that state.

by Goldy, 12/31/2009, 10:17 AM

Huh.

Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh remains hospitalized in Hawaii after experiencing chest pains similar to a heart attack.

Which I suppose means Limbaugh must have something similar to a heart. Who knew?

by Lee, 12/31/2009, 9:17 AM

A few drug war items of note:

- Yesterday, KUOW’s The Conversation took on the topic of marijuana legalization. State Representative Roger Goodman was a guest, as well as State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Ethan Nadelmann from the Drug Policy Alliance, and Dave Rodriguez of the Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas office. As for Goodman’s bill to legalize marijuana in Washington state, Jamie Pederson has also signed on as a co-sponsor.

- Steve Elliott looks into how willing media outlets are to distort scientific studies in order to paint a picture that marijuana is far more dangerous than it really is.

- I finished up indexing the second document dump from the Department of Corrections regarding their attempts to nullify the medical marijuana law for people on probation. I put together a thorough timeline from the roughly 1300 pages of released documents of what was being discussed and acted on within the DOC with regards to medical marijuana patients under their supervision and posted it here. I’ll likely be writing more about this again later, but this controversial court decision out of California really emphasizes how heated a battle this has become throughout every state where medical marijuana is now legal, and how frustrated many people within the criminal justice system are becoming when dealing with this shift away from the “tough on drugs” mentality. It’s forcing them to rethink the role they play in keeping us safe and to rethink the relationship between drugs and crime, which we’ve been getting wrong for as long as I’ve been alive.

- The Wall Street Journal writes about how ending prohibition is the only way to stop the violence in Mexico.

by Goldy, 12/30/2009, 4:56 PM

And much to the disappointment of some of my trolls, it isn’t me in trouble with the feds.

by Goldy, 12/30/2009, 12:08 PM

I just received an email from Sen. Robert Byrd, the longest serving Senator in U.S. history.

Of course, a lot of other folks around here received the same exact email. It was a fundraising pitch on behalf of Sen. Patty Murray, sent from a Murray campaign email account. Nothing remarkable about that.

But from all accounts, the affection and respect for Murray expressed in Byrd’s email is genuine, and provides a sharp contrast to the caricature of Murray with which Washington Republicans like to comfort themselves every six years.

Back in 2004 I described her last reelection contest as a race between the physically diminutive Patty Murray versus the politically diminutive George Nethercutt, who she unsurprisingly defeated by a 12-point margin. So how has Murray consistently produced such wide margins against highly touted Republican opponents?

Quite simply, Murray is one of the best retail politicians I’ve ever met. Spend a few moments with her and it becomes clear that she actually likes people, and unlike Sen. Maria Cantwell (who has different virtues), clearly enjoys talking with complete strangers. Be it one-on-one, in small groups, speaking before a large room, or even in her TV commercials, this everywomanish aspect of Murray’s personality comes through, making it exceedingly difficult for Republicans to succeed with their usual line of negative attacks.

Ironically, this inherent likability makes it easier for Murray to go on the attack herself, as she did early, often and quite effectively against Nethercutt. Don’t let her size and mannerisms fool you; you don’t get to rise to such a high level of power and influence in a men’s club like the U.S. Senate without sporting some awfully big cojones, metaphorical as they may be, and Murray’s not afraid to swing ‘em. Nethercutt entered the 2004 race with a reputation as a giant-killer, but the five foot tall Murray immediately kneecapped him, and he never recovered.

Perhaps this explains why Murray has yet to draw a big name opponent for 2010. After ending the political careers of three sitting Republican Congress-critters in a row, neither Cathy McMorris-Rogers, Dave Reichert nor Doc Hastings are eager to have Murray make them the fourth. And state Attorney General Rob McKenna—without a doubt the most skilled politician on the WSRP bench—is too smart to deliberately seek out a bump in the road on what he hopes to be a smooth ride to the governor’s mansion and beyond. As for Dino Rossi, he just got his ass kicked by an unpopular governor, and besides… you gotta want it to run for it.

That only leaves the traditional GOP fallback candidate: the generic, rich, white guy. And that didn’t turn out so well for Mike McGavick running against a much more vulnerable Cantwell in 2006, now did it?

Right now, with Murray out-raising her best funded no-name Republican opponent by over 227 to 1, and the election only ten months away, it looks like the state GOP has given up on taking out the Democrat they like to laugh off as America’s dumbest senator. Well, um, what does that say about them?

by Goldy, 12/30/2009, 10:01 AM

The Seattle Times editorial board this morning, on our recent spate of tragic police shootings:

If there is a common denominator that links the shootings in Seattle, Lakewood and Eatonville, it is fools with firearms. The proximity of weapons to the angry, delusional and addled is astonishing.

Two of the shooters died in circumstances they brought on themselves, and another awaits a full, rigorous determination of legal accountability.

Application of the law, and all its protections and consequences, is separate and apart from assessing how the culture became awash in guns and embraced a mindless proclivity to use them.

A constitutional right to own a gun does not carry a subsequent right to put others at risk, or to amass a personal armory with a lethal capacity beyond some hypothetical need for household defense.

I dunno… sounds like an argument for gun control to me.

And while Republicans like to congratulate themselves as being the law and order party, this is one policy issue at least where dirty fucking hippie liberals like me are clearly on the side of the majority of law enforcement organizations. Ask any police officer whether he or she would like to see more (and more deadly) guns on street, and I think you know what answer you’ll likely get.

by Darryl, 12/29/2009, 5:08 PM

DLBottle

Join us tonight as we celebrate a most successful 2009 and raise a toast to more successes to come in 2010 at the Seattle chapter of Drinking Liberally. Festivities take place at the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue E. beginning about 8:00 pm. Or stop by earlier and have some dinner.



Not in Seattle? There is a good chance you live near one of the 339 other chapters of Drinking Liberally.

by Goldy, 12/29/2009, 1:00 PM

Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) may not have been the first Republican to attempt to politicize the failed, Christmas Day crotch-bombing attack, but he has turned the rhetoric up a notch by being the first to demand Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s resignation.

It should be remembered that in the wake of 9/11, Democrats rallied behind President Bush, giving him a free hand in Afghanistan, and ultimately in Iraq. But had Al Gore been president at the time, you can be sure that the Republican majority in Congress would have used the greatest intelligence failure in U.S. history as justification for impeaching him.

by Lee, 12/29/2009, 11:59 AM

Apropos to Goldy’s post below (from XKCD):

by Goldy, 12/29/2009, 10:28 AM

macportable

If I wanted to blow up an airplane, and was willing to lose my life in the process, I’d pack plastic explosives into a working laptop, and use the battery to power a detonator.

The thought first occurred to me years ago, during the heightened security measures following the first Iraq War, while traveling with my not so aptly named Mac Portable. This thing was huge and cavernous (its brick of a battery alone weighed over two pounds), with plenty of room for hiding contraband.

Security screeners at the time generally required that you turn on your computer to prove it worked, but since the Mac Portable could boot from a RAM disk, one could accomplish this simple task with both the hard drive and the floppy drive removed. I probably could’ve hid a pistol inside a functioning Mac Portable, and still had room for more than enough C-4 to bring down an airplane.

The same would be true of any full size modern laptop, especially now that TSA no longer checks that they’re functional. Just remove much of the guts, fill the space with C-4, connect a detonator to the battery, and with a little tinkering you’ve got yourself a pretty damn powerful bomb. And if it doesn’t detonate, at least you don’t set your crotch on fire in the process.

I suppose one might get caught at security by one of those chemical sensing machines or a bomb sniffing dog, but what are the chances of that? I’ve flown dozens of times since 9/11 and I think I’ve had my carry-on items swabbed exactly once. Besides, if Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab could carry common explosives through security by stuffing them down his pants, I like my odds.

Of course, I don’t want to blow up an airplane, but if a nonviolent guy like me can imagine creative ways to do so, I’m guessing a motivated terrorist could be just as innovative. Which brings me to my point.

One could build a powerful explosive device into even a functioning laptop… so, are we going to ban travelers from carrying on computers? Likewise, I bet I could fit a couple of pounds of C-4 into a hollowed out copy of Twilight, or stuffed within a foot-long hoagie. Are we going to ban books and sandwiches as well? All carry-on items? Puffy sweaters? Cargo pants?

Of course not. That would be silly. As are most of the new TSA rules issued in the wake of the undie bomber’s unsuccessful terrorist attack. I mean, do you feel any safer having you and your fellow passengers confined to your seats for the final hour of a flight, especially knowing that it was your fellow passengers who subdued and disarmed Abdulmutallab?

We’ve already spent hundreds of billions of dollars attempting to make us safer from terrorism, some of the money well spent, but much of it not. At some point, we need to make a rational cost benefit analysis that assesses the true risk to the American people, and addresses it accordingly. For example, over the past decade, the odds of an airline passenger being killed in a terrorist attack have been about one in 10,408,947. The odds of being struck by lightning are one in 500,000.

Once again, I like those odds.

by Jon DeVore, 12/29/2009, 12:05 AM

It’s likely that the next Congress-creature from the great district of WA-03 will be from Clark County. If you don’t believe me you can go look stuff up. Sure, anything is possible, but, er, um, the next Congress-creature will probably hail from Clark County. It’s unfair to everyone else, it sucks, I know, I used to live in Cowlitz County. But them’s the breaks.

I guess it’s open to debate whether candidates who lived here twenty five years ago or who were parachuted back home during a major sex scandal are “from Clark County.” I suppose they are, in a factual sense. Whether the voters care will be another question.

I guess if anyone can go home again then I’m a lock back in Johnson County, Kansas. Well, I would be if I could cut myself really, really big checks. Must be nice. That’s an awesome message in 2010, BTW.

by Jon DeVore, 12/28/2009, 8:03 PM

Sometimes you find stuff out pretty much because of who you happen to know. In this case, the “strange case” of one Canopy Financial, Inc., which dealt in health savings accounts (HSA’s,) is made known to me because another Clark County blogger is among the victims of alleged financial fraud involving Canopy’s health care savings accounts. From Politics is a Blood Sport:

HSA’s were once touted as the market oriented solution to putting the consumer in charge of health care decisions. You see, in libertarian-land, the consumer would have more skin in the game since it was their pre-tax dollars combined with a high deductible insurance policy, and would thus magically drive down prices. And since the individual insurance market is broken anyway, why not get some tax benefit being self-employed?

Instead, what we’re left with is the CEO class absconding with the funds, both from investors and HSA account holders. In Canopy’s letter to me they “deeply regret this development”. Well, they’re going to deeply regret messing with the thousands of HSA account holders after all is said and done. Eventually, Canopy Financial’s insurance will have to foot the bill, but that’s probably months away. In the meantime, it’s time to raise a ruckus, with a class action lawsuit.

The mind boggles at the outright theft. From Dow Jones Venture Wire:

Venture-backed Canopy saw its once-positive reputation come crashing down after it was discovered in early November that a KPMG audit of the company was falsified. That discovery led the Securities and Exchange Commission to file a fraud suit against the company, naming only President and Chief Operating Officer Jeremy Blackburn, who is also the subject of criminal charges. The Chicago-based company has also let go most of its 100-plus member staff and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company’s downfall followed about $75 million in equity investments through Foundation Capital, GGV Capital and Spectrum Equity Investors.

In its recorded statement to customers, Canopy didn’t state a reason how these funds could have disappeared.

“All of the funds for these savings accounts were supposed to be held in custodial bank accounts. We regret to inform you that most or all of the funds were misappropriated from the bank accounts and are now missing,” Canopy said. “As a result, Canopy can no longer process customer transactions for the health savings accounts maintained through these providers or the health savings accounts maintained by Canopy for its Wellfund customers. At present, all of these accounts have been frozen.”

Canopy states that the affected health savings account holders will be listed as creditors in its bankruptcy case, while the company cannot offer immediate access to those funds.

So even while we’re debating whether the current health care “reform” proposals deserve to become law, we’re seeing that previous laws crafted by the very same industry lobbyists have, in this case, resulted in outright theft.

While Chris Bassett of Politics is a Blood Sport has already received some inquiries from other consumers who have been ripped off, you kind of wonder what it might take to get this story further into the traditional media. I mean, if I walked off from a convenience store after stealing $75 million I would at least expect to get my mug on the tee-vee for my trouble.

This is a story that is just begging for some enterprising reporter(s) and other bloggers to start piecing together who all the victims are. Bassett tells me he lost a relatively paltry amount of money, but he’s hearing from folks who lost thousands. And while criminal indictments are nice, that doesn’t really do much if you have cancer or something and your money has been stolen.

Hell, this ought to be a campaign issue. The glibertarians never get called out on their failures, and this is a massive and timely example.

by Goldy, 12/28/2009, 12:14 PM

It’s no secret that House Speaker Frank Chopp wasn’t too thrilled about the prospect of fighting to retain an open seat in the 41st Legislative District, and now he won’t have to after persuading freshman Rep. Marcie Maxwell to pass up an appointment to Sen. Fred Jarrett’s soon to be vacated seat. From a press release:

Representative Marcie Maxwell, (D) 41st District, has announced that she will continue her legislative work as State Representative and not seek the appointment for the Senate seat vacated last week by Fred Jarrett.

[...] Representative Maxwell will immediately replace House Speaker Frank Chopp as the voting member of the Quality Education Council (QEC), the panel charged with developing strategic recommendations for implementing a new definition of Basic Education and the funding necessary to support it.

This leaves Jarrett’s senate seat the object of contention. In an email to 41st District Dems members, chair Jeff Smith says that the County Council plans to move quickly on the matter, making an appointment by January 11th.

Huh. It’s hard to believe the council will have appointed Dow Constantine’s replacement by then, but if so, that means the 41st Dems PCO’s would likely nominate their top three choices sometime within the next week.

It’s hard to handicap such an insider process, but from what I hear, the top three candidates remain attorney/activist Randy Gordon (a Camp Wellstone classmate of mine), Vicki Orrico, who just lost a close race for Bellevue City Council, and Washington Toxics Coalition Executive Director Maureen Judge, who my daughter likes to refer to as “mom.”

No doubt my daughter and I will be watching this appointment closely.

by Goldy, 12/28/2009, 10:55 AM

Ever been sick on an airplane? I have, once while flying back from Mexico, and it was awful. But at least the flight crew didn’t have me hauled away in handcuffs at the end of the flight:

A Nigerian man who became ill on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit — the same flight involved in Friday’s terrorism attempt — triggered a security alert at Detroit Metropolitan Airport after the pilots requested emergency assistance upon landing, the Department of Homeland Security announced on Sunday. The department said that the response to Sunday’s incident, which included informing President Obama, was “an abundance of caution.”

Earlier in the afternoon, Delta Airlines, which acquired Northwest last year, said in a statement that the crew had requested police assistance on the ground because a passenger was “verbally disruptive.” The Transportation Safety Administration said in a statement that it had been alerted to a “disruptive passenger on board” Flight 253. The T.S.A. said that the flight landed safely at Detroit International Airport at approximately 12:35 p.m. Eastern “without incident.”

Homeland Security press secretary, Sara Kuban, released a statement, sorting out what had happened on the flight.

“A passenger on today’s Northwest flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit spent an unusually long time in the aircraft lavatory,” she said in the statement.

And then, according to other reports, the passenger became “verbally abusive” (whatever that means) after the flight crew kicked open the bathroom door. For that he was handcuffed and arrested.

In related news, airline stocks are down sharply in the wake of this weekend’s events, and I can understand why. I myself was preparing to make reservations for our annual February trip to take my daughter to visit Grandma in Florida, but have been given serious pause… not due to fears of increased terrorism, but due to fears of the TSA and airline industry response.

There was a time when airline personnel would attempt to deal with sick and/or legitimately disgruntled passengers by offering them an upgrade or a free drink or perhaps just a pillow, a blanket or a smile. Now they increasingly pull the security card at the slightest provocation, as happened to me last year near the end of a particularly torturous travel day.

Yes, there was a time when the airlines treated us like customers, but no more. And that has made an already uncomfortable and stressful experience downright dreadful. Thinking back to that godawful, intestinally challenged flight from Mexico, at least the flight attendants were sympathetic and accommodating. Had I been forced to remain in my seat for the last hour of the flight, as new regulations now require on international flights landing in the U.S., I can assure you I would have literally shit my pants. Explosively.

The fact is, as scary as the Christmas Day incident was, it was unsuccessful, as has been every other attempted airline attack since 9/11. By all means, we should remain vigilant, as the the passengers and crew of Flight 253 clearly were in subduing the alleged terrorist and extinguishing his incendiary device. But let’s not lose perspective.

The goal of the terrorists is, after all, to instill terror. Let’s not do their job for them in the guise of TSA theater.

by Jon DeVore, 12/27/2009, 11:50 PM

In case you didn’t catch this item, it seems that the situation involving indicted financier Allen Stanford and his wooing of Congress-creatures from both parties is about to get a whole lot more interesting. From The Miami Herald:

The Justice Department is investigating millions of dollars Stanford and his staff contributed to lawmakers over the past decade to determine if the banker received special favors from politicians while building his spectacular offshore bank in Antigua, The Miami Herald has learned.

Agents are examining campaign dollars, as well as lavish Caribbean trips funded by Stanford for politicians and their spouses, feting them with lobster dinners and caviar.

The money Stanford gave Sessions and other lawmakers was stolen from his clients while he carried out what prosecutors now say was one of the nation’s largest Ponzi schemes.

There is an obvious and basic problem with money itself being equated with free speech, although until the Supremes might be persuaded to change their minds on that score, I guess nothing much is going to change.

In the Stanford case it appears a criminal was able to thwart legislation that might have uncovered his crimes, by using his ill-gotten gains. Sweet!

Al Capone was an idiot, of course, because he was basically a street thug. The modern thug uses offshore banks and impresses Congress creatures with his wealth and taste. Er, pleased to meet you…

A lot of normal people are scraping the grape jelly jar clean to get one more PBJ sandwich, and these suited thugs were slobbering all over themselves for caviar at tropical resorts. Nice image heading into 2010, I must say. “But…but…but…but…that’s how the world works!”

Yeah, I know. That’s the problem. If the only action average people feel they can take is to vote in a blind rage, they will do it. Whether that hurts Democrats or Republicans more is starting to become irrelevant. The country is being harmed terribly by the current system of campaign finance and lobbying, not just on health care but on every issue.

Frankly I’m surprised and not a little alarmed that this major story by the Miami Herald isn’t getting more traction, although hopefully that will change with a new work week, albeit a shortened holiday one.

by Goldy, 12/27/2009, 1:32 PM

In summarizing The Year’s Most Underreported Stories over at Publicola, Erica writes:

4) The political demise of Tim Eyman and those that brung him.

Obviously, Tim Eyman isn’t going away–the former watch salesman’s entire livelihood depends on bringing in new contributions, and new contributions require new campaigns. But this year’s stunning defeat of his latest tax-slashing measure, Initiative 1033 (his first tax measure, importantly, to be defeated) spells doom for future Eyman initiatives. Voters don’t have to be told that taxes pay for things they need anymore–they can see it all around them, in the state’s crumbling infrastructure, the closure of county parks, and the ongoing budget crisis at the city, state, and county levels.

Moreover–to paraphrase Josh–Eyman’s defeat this year is good news for Democrats in general, suggesting that last summer’s anti-government, anti-Obama backlash was overblown.

Yeah, well—to paraphrase Mark Twain—the reports of Tim Eyman’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

It’s not that I-1033 didn’t go down to a crushing defeat, even in much of traditionally pro-Eyman/anti-tax Eastern Washington. But it’s not like Eyman initiatives haven’t been defeated before… and besides, it kinda misses the point of what Eyman does.

Eyman doesn’t run initiative campaigns; he gets initiatives on the ballot. In recent years, those of his initiatives that have generated a sufficiently well-financed No campaign have been defeated, while those that have gone unopposed have not.

From a business perspective, it really doesn’t matter all that much to Eyman whether he wins or loses. Sure, he needs an occasional win or near-win to maintain the shred of relevance necessary to garner media attention, but Eyman has long been a kept man of a single sugar daddy, and as long as Woodinville investment banker Michael Dunmire continues to finance his signature drives, Eyman will continue to qualify initiatives for the ballot, and continue to make a nice living in the process.

And from a political perspective, as long as Eyman continues to qualify initiatives for the ballot, he’ll continue to put Democrats on the defensive.

Just take a look at I-1033. Sure, it lost by a whopping 18-point margin, and in 24 of 39 counties… but only after the No campaign spent over $3.5 million to defeat it. $3.5 million. That’s money, largely from progressive donors, that could have been spent on a more proactive agenda, such as enacting tax restructuring or education finance reform or something productive like that. That’s $3.5 million that won’t be available, for example, to help elect progressive Democrats in 2010.

If you believe Eyman’s primary objective is to pass stuff, well then, yeah, I guess I-1033′s defeat must look pretty bad for him. But if you understand Eyman for what he really is—our state’s biggest political monkey, wielding our state’s biggest political monkey wrench (the initiative process)—well then, 2009 wasn’t such a bad year for him after all.

And a pretty damn profitable one at that.

by Lee, 12/27/2009, 12:00 PM

Last week’s contest was won by wes.in.wa for his second in a row. It was Juarez, Mexico.

Here’s this week’s, good luck!

by Goldy, 12/27/2009, 12:38 AM

2 Kings 2:23-24

23 Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up the road, some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!”
24 So he turned around and looked at them, and pronounced a curse on them in the name of the LORD. And two female bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.

Discuss.