by Goldy, 01/31/2010, 2:23 PM

On Friday, Slog reported that an income tax initiative had been filed, prompting the following commentary from the Secretary of State’s office:

“You cannot have a graduated state income tax without amending the state constitution. The court has been clear on that,” says Dave Ammons, spokesman for the Secretary of State.

To which I have two main responses. First, the Washington State Supreme Court last explicitly ruled on this issue way back in 1933; our current slate of Supreme Court justices have never addressed this issue, and as the precedent flouting majority on the U.S. Supreme Court recently demonstrated, the opinions of the current justices are the only ones that matter. Second — and I mean this with all due respect to Dave Ammons, Secretary of State Sam Reed and the rest his office — it’s none of their fucking business.

To elaborate on my second point first, up until the moment the petitions are filed, the Secretary of State’s role in the initiative process is purely administrative, and even then the grounds for rejecting petitions are quite limited, so I can’t help but wonder why Ammons would comment on the measure’s constitutionality at all? I don’t remember Reed’s office commenting on the constitutionality of any of Tim Eyman’s initiatives. Hell, I’ve seen the SOS quietly process initiatives that don’t even amount to a complete sentence.

So while I’ve no doubt that Reed personally opposes an income tax, his office has no business nor expertise in commenting on its constitutionality.

Which brings us back to my first point, the constitutional question itself. I’ve written extensively on this subject, most recently highlighting this excerpt from the Washington State Tax Structure Committee report:

[T]here is ample reason to believe that a modern income tax, established by the Legislature or by the voters, would now be upheld. The basic reason is that [Culliton v. Chase] was based on an earlier Washington case which the State Supreme Court clearly misread. More importantly, the earlier case was based on a line of United States Supreme Court cases that have subsequently been reversed. Our Court would likely take a “clean slate” approach to the income tax today.

See that? Courts sometimes overturn earlier decisions, both old and new. Indeed, the SCOTUS just overturned a century of precedent on campaign finance law — precedent it had upheld as recently as seven years ago — so it’s kinda silly to dismiss a state income tax as patently unconstitutional based on a 77-year-old 5-4 decision that has left Washington with a legal definition of “income” that is at odds with virtually every other court in the nation, state and federal.

Furthermore, if you read the text of the proposed initiative, it becomes instantly clear that the authors have bent over backwards to accommodate the bizarre semantics that constitute our state’s current legal framework on the subject — one which, for example, allows the state to levy a nonuniform business tax on gross revenue, but not on net revenue (i.e., income). Aping the language of our existing Business & Occupation tax, the measure attempts to levy a 5% “excise tax” on joint adjusted gross incomes over $400,000 a year (9% on the portion over $1 million), while simulating exemptions by redefining the tax otherwise due as a “credit.”

Split hairs all you want, but it’s hard to understand how a reasonable person could define gross personal income as property but gross business income as not. That’s a distinction without a difference that could just as easily give today’s court the grounds to invalidate our existing B&O tax as it would the income tax this initiative proposes.

But all that is neither here nor there. The Secretary of State’s job at the moment is merely to assign the initiative a number, and transmit it back and forth between the sponsor, the Code Reviser and the Attorney General. If petitions are ultimately filed, his job will be to count and verify the signatures, and if the signature threshold is met, his next and final task will be to assure that the initiative properly appears on the ballot. At no point is the question of the measure’s constitutionality of any official concern to the Secretary of State or his spokesman.

As for the Attorney General, his job would be to defend the measure in court should it ultimately pass and be challenged, thus any effort on his part to publicly question the initiative’s constitutionality would present a conflict of interest that could undermine his ability fulfill his own office’s constitutional duties.

Indeed, as I’ve previously written, the whole constitutional question is a red herring intended to quash public debate on this very important issue. And that is the context within which Ammons’ comment should be understood.

by Lee, 01/31/2010, 12:00 PM

Last week’s contest was won by Dave Gibney. It was Calexico, California.

This week’s is a challenge. If no one gets this by Monday morning, I’ll post up a clue. Good luck!

by Goldy, 01/31/2010, 6:00 AM

Psalm 137:9
Happy is the one who takes your babies and smashes them against the rocks!

Discuss.

by Lee, 01/30/2010, 3:57 PM

As a follow-up to Goldy’s post below, there’s already a group organizing an initiative for Washington. It’s called Sensible Washington and they expect to release the final wording of their initiative and begin signature gathering by March 1. Their initiative is not expected to specify the state liquor stores as the distributors, but will only legalize possession for adults. The state would then be on the hook for setting up regulations for where and how it can be sold.

One of the concerns of legalization advocates (both Goldy and I share this concern) is that there won’t be enough money to collect the necessary signatures. As the top post at Sensible Washington points out, PayPal has a history of freezing the accounts of drug law reform groups, and banks won’t work with them. I’d be curious to know how much of this results from archaic rules and misconceptions about drug law reform, and how much comes from potential crackdowns from the federal government. As for Paypal, one clue might be that one of its founders considers the era of alcohol prohibition as the last great era of American politics (I guess that makes him a libertarian).

So for now, they’re taking mail-in donations before a volunteer army of signature gatherers hit the ground across the state to put this initiative on the ballot. There’s certainly enthusiasm for drug law reform right now, but no one is really sure whether it will be enough to qualify. I guess we’re about to find out.

UPDATE (Goldy):
As an followup to Lee’s followup, Sensible Washington’s account of their difficulties in securing credit card processing is worth a read.
On the one hand, if millionaire investment banker Michael Dunmire wants an initiative on the ballot, he just writes Tim Eyman a check; on the other hand, if a group of grassroots activists wants to raise money online from small contributors, the banks won’t give them a merchant account, out of fear of I don’t know what.

So much for “direct democracy.”

That said, I emailed the folks at Sensible Washington earlier today to suggest that they set up an account with ActBlue, the same progressive online fundraising site through which we collectively raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Darcy Burner. ActBlue is now set up to handle state legislative and initiative campaigns in Washington state, in addition to federal races, a feature that R-71 made good use of last year.

by Goldy, 01/30/2010, 10:29 AM

Marijuana legalization appears headed to the ballot in California, after initiative organizers turned 700,000 petition signatures, well above the 433,000 required.

If California voters approve, it will be the most comprehensive reform of marijuana laws ever undertaken in the United States. While some states, such as Oregon, have relatively lax penalties for possession, no state has attempted to regulate and tax the herb before.

The measure’s chances are good: A poll taken last April found that 56 percent of Californians want to see the herb legalized and taxed.

According to the L.A. Times, the measure would make it legal for anyone over 21 to own an ounce or less of pot, and to grow pot for personal use in a space no larger than 25 square feet. It would also give cities the right to license marijuana growers and sellers, and to collect taxes on the crop.

Give me half a million dollars to buy the signatures, and I could get a similar measure on the 2010 ballot here in Washington, although I would prefer a measure that relies on our existing state store system to handle sales and distribution. In fact, I’d actually be a pretty good figurehead for the campaign, as I don’t actually use the stuff myself.

Pot prohibition has proven costly, unworkable and counterproductive, and the state could really use the revenue legalization would produce. At the risk of prompting the obvious retort, legalization is really a no-brainer.

by Goldy, 01/29/2010, 7:36 PM

I know it’s kinda hip to complain about Rep. Jim McDermott, even amongst local Democrats. But everytime I find myself sitting in a room with him, listening to him speak, I’m reminded why I’m not one of these whiners.

by Goldy, 01/29/2010, 5:22 PM

It’s common knowledge that state Sen. Pam Roach (R-Auburn) doesn’t exactly have a reputation for working and playing well with others, but Jesus… how disruptive do you have to be, to be too disruptive to fit in with the Party of No?

State Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, has been banned from the Senate Republican caucus after colleagues told her she has repeatedly mistreated staff and should get counseling to manage her anger.

A letter sent to Roach by Senate GOP leaders said an internal investigation had concluded “it would be best to physically separate you from the caucus staff and from other Republican Senators while we are working on the floor.”

Anger management counseling? I’m guessing that really pissed her off!

And I’m not sure you want to piss off Pam Roach. Well known for pulling a gun on an aide, and widely rumored to have been the tipster behind the Spokesman-Review’s sting of boy-trolling then-Mayor and former state Sen. Jim West, it’s no surprise that even her fellow Republicans are so afraid of their colleague that they’ve all but filed for a restraining order.

All of which is a welcome opportunity for a replay of Roach’s famous “Roses” speech.

Always brings tears to my eyes.

Oh, and coincidentally, I received an email today from Ron Weigelt, announcing his attention to challenge Roach for her 31st District seat. Don’t know anything about him, but he’d have to be awfully damn crazy to out-crazy Roach.

by Goldy, 01/29/2010, 1:36 PM

Isn’t it funny how when Washington voters, by whatever slim margin, pass one of Tim Eyman’s tax cutting initiatives, the editors at the Seattle Times applaud their wisdom and argue that it would be an unconscionable violation of the will of the people to amend or overturn said measure, even years later?

See, anti-tax/anti-government initiatives, that’s direct democracy at its finest. But when voters approve a tax increase, well, not so much…

Even the most avid referendum supporter will admit the limitation of the process is it asks a simple up-or-down question. In the case of the two measures, the questions could be boiled down to: “Would you like to raise taxes on someone other than yourself?”

No wonder Oregon voters said yes by a margin of roughly 54 percent for both proposals.

Shorter Seattle Times: stupid voters.

by Goldy, 01/29/2010, 9:57 AM
Kemper Freeman Jr. attempts to fuck light rail

Bellevue real estate mogul Kemper Freeman Jr., as usual, attempting to fuck light rail

Seattle Transit Blog’s Ben Schiendelman dares to suggest that Kemper Freeman Jr. opposes light rail through downtown Bellevue because he doesn’t want lower-income rail-riders driving away the “high-class clientele” at Bellevue Square and his other ritzy properties… an assertion that has Freeman’s nursemaid’s undies in a knot:

But Bruce Nurse, vice president of Kemper Development, says, “It’s very presumptuous of Mr. Schiendelman to speculate on Kemper Freeman’s market philosophy. Kemper Freeman has always welcomed the region’s residents and visitors to downtown Bellevue… regardless of age or income.”

Really? Huh. Speculating that Kemper Freeman fucks goats, now that would be presumptuous (although I have my suspicions), but categorizing Freeman’s market philosophy as somewhere to the right of Rich Uncle Pennybags, well, that’s about as speculative as predicting a Seattle Times editorial endorsement. (November, 2012: “Rob McKenna for Governor; a different kind of Republican.” You mark my words.)

I mean, honestly, a downtown Bellevue light rail alignment would bring thousands of additional customers a day to Freeman’s high-rent properties, so as a businessman, why the hell wouldn’t he want a stop as nearby as possible? Unless, of course, light rail would bring the wrong kind of people. You know, poor people. And by that, I mean people of color.

Oh, I’m sorry, am I being presumptuous?

Maybe, but it’s not like Kemper Freeman’s own personal fortune wasn’t built upon the vicious racism and ruthless, um, market philosophy of his grandfather, Miller Freeman.

That same year, Freeman began to take an interest in Japanese- American relations; i.e., Americans should understand that Japanese “yellow” clashed with red, white, and blue. Until his death in 1955, Miller Freeman avidly pursued his anti-Japanese obsession, and his Eastside real estate business grew as a direct result.

Freeman owned several newspapers, including the Bellevue American and Town Crier, and used them as vehicles for his racist blather. “Japanese population and power in the western Unites States is increasing at a sure, accumulative rate,” he once said, “which will inevitably give the white man his choice between subjugation and retreat.” As the president of the Anti-Japanese League of Washington, and as a Washington state legislator, he led a campaign that culminated in the passage of the Alien Land Law of 1921, which forbade people of Japanese descent from owning land– or even leasing it. Shortly thereafter, Freeman began buying up cheap land on the Eastside, formerly home to thousands of successful Japanese farmers. In 1925 he bought land in Medina; three years later he moved his family into a new mansion there.

After Pearl Harbor, Miller Freeman saw another opportunity to screw over Japanese Americans, and make a profit, too. He went to Washington, D.C, to urge the Tolan Committee to lock up people of Japanese descent. And he kept up his racist rantings in his newspapers, calling the Japanese an “insoluble race” bent on “infiltration.”

With Japanese Americans tucked away in internment camps, Freeman was able to reap the full benefits of the new Mercer Island Floating Bridge (which he had lobbied to have built, and which opened in 1940). The Eastside, cleansed of its Asian-American population, was now safe for white businessmen, largely due to the efforts of Miller Freeman. His son, the first Kemper Freeman, built the original Bellevue Square, after convincing his father to buy a piece of land along 104th Avenue Northeast.

Yeah, I know, sins of the father and all that, so I wouldn’t want to be so presumptuous as to suggest that Kemper Freeman Jr. holds any of the same anti-Japanese sentiments as his beloved grandfather. But even if Freeman’s staunch opposition to a downtown Bellevue light rail alignment has absolutely nothing at all to do with race, to suggest, as Freeman’s Nurse does, that he welcomes all of the region’s residents to downtown Bellevue, “regardless of age or income,” just doesn’t hold up to Freeman’s own public statements:

“When you walk through the (Southcenter) mall, the way the customer dresses just to shop there — the light blue and pink hair curlers, the shoes that flop, flop, flop along — it’s a completely different customer,” said Freeman. “Yet we are 12 miles apart.”

Yup, about the only thing that separates Freeman and his upscale Bellevue Square from the curlers and flip-flops of déclassé Southcenter is 12 short miles. That, and about a half century of progress in Americans’ attitudes toward race.

The truth is, everybody knows that Freeman is a bit of an OCD, neo-Bircher nutcase with a Christ-like devotion to the automobile and a penchant for equating mass transit with communism (really), so isn’t it time that serious people started taking him and his anti-rail conspiracies at face value? Isn’t it time to call a spade a spade (so to speak)? I don’t mean to diminish Freeman’s standing as Bellevue’s (presumably) racist/classist, rich, crazy uncle, but is that really enough of a reason to give him a greater voice in our region’s transportation debate than folks like, say, Schiendelman, who, you know, actually know what the fuck they’re talking about?

And honestly, given Freeman’s shameful family history, is it really all that presumptuous to speculate that his dogged opposition to a downtown Bellevue light rail alignment might stem from something a little more than an informed position on transportation planning, or even mere economic self-interest? Am I really taking his words and deeds out of context by attempting to place Freeman in it?

As a native Philadelphian — a city where thousands of ordinary people lay themselves down to bed each night in houses that predate George Washington — I’ve always been struck by how folks out here in his namesake so easily forget our region’s own short history. I mean, it’s not like there’s all that much of it. Hell… I’ve tasted wine older than Bellevue.

No doubt Freeman isn’t our region’s only civic meddler whose family fortune was founded on land stolen from the Japanese-American families who broke their backs clearing it of old-growth stumps, but while it would be wrong to attempt to define Freeman solely by his family history, it would be equally wrong to ignore it when attempting to discern his political motives.

I suppose we could speculate that Freeman inherited nothing more from his grandfather than his dirty, tear-stained money, but… well… that would strike me as awfully damn presumptuous.

by Jon DeVore, 01/29/2010, 9:05 AM

The Christianist nutball who killed Dr. George Tiller has been found guilty of first degree murder murder by a jury of his peers. The jury supposedly took only about 15 minutes to reach its decision.

I don’t see why we can’t try terrorists in the court system, it seems to work just fine.

Correction 10:53 AM–According to The Los Angeles Times, the jury took 37 minutes to convict Scott Roeder, and Roeder faces life in prison.

by Geov, 01/28/2010, 10:00 PM

Once you realize that you’re not reading the Onion and that Sally Quinn – who gained her prestigious Washington Post column by having an affair with a married Ben Bradlee – is being completely serious, you’ll know everything you need to about why left and right alike despise the Washington elite, why our serious national concerns never seem to get solved, and why daily newspaper circulation is plummeting. It’s all there.

by Lee, 01/28/2010, 8:40 PM

Scott Morgan provides the appropriate amount of snark for Liberty High School’s counterproductive method of dealing with students who possess marijuana.

UPDATE: At least those Liberty High students weren’t minorities in New York City.

by Goldy, 01/28/2010, 12:42 PM

Joel Connelly says musclebound congressman Dave Reichert hasn’t ruled out a run against incumbent U.S. Senator Patty Murray:

Rumors in Washington, D.C., this week have Reichert being encouraged to run against Murray. “They didn’t come from me,” he joked, saying he has not been nudged by the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

But Reichert would not rule out a Senate race.

Well, I don’t know if the NRSC has been nudging Reichert to challenge Murray, but I wouldn’t be surprised if King County Councilman Reagan Dunn were to give him a shove, if only indirectly. Long the heir apparent to his late mother’s old seat, Dunn would likely be the big winner of a Reichert v. Murray contest. Reichert… not so much.

by Goldy, 01/28/2010, 8:55 AM

Apparently, according to President Obama, the state of the union is strong. Who knew?

UPDATE:
Rudy Giuliani is a hero. Or a liar. Like many Americans, I often get the two confused.

by Jon DeVore, 01/27/2010, 5:54 PM

Well, that’s what the AP is reporting anyhow.

(Gov. Christine) Gregoire’s campaign committee sent out an e-mail Wednesday afternoon endorsing Democrat Denny Heck for Congress in southwest Washington’s 3rd District.

The e-mail encourages donations to Heck, and includes links to the donation page on his Web site.

But state regulators say that’s not allowed under state law, which bans state elected officials from most political fundraising for candidates during the legislative session.

(UPDATE–please see update below as the AP has revised the story. Here is the rest of my post as it first appeared.)

The whole thing is bizarre. First, Gregoire makes an endorsement of a long-time Olympia insider when there are two other very viable Democratic candidates in the race in the form of state Rep. Deb Wallace of Vancouver (LD17) and state Sen. Craig Pridemore, also of Vancouver (LD49.) I guess it would be obvious to point out that the two candidates she showed the back of her hand today are in the current Legislature rather than the 1985 Legislature. I guess she’s not worried about their votes.

Then she compounds her mistake by making a solicitation during the Legislative session. Very weird.

I don’t know what is going on. If this is an attempt to force Denny Heck upon us down here in the third CD, it just blew up in more ways than one. Go check out the 2008 general election map for governor. For those out of state, the relevant counties (mostly) are Thurston, Pacific, Lewis, Cowlitz and Clark. It’s rather, um yellow, in a big Democratic year. Obama did substantially better.

I guess Wallace and Pridemore should thank Gregoire, actually.

UPDATE 6:15 PM– The AP story linked above has since been revised, with the Gregoire campaign committee claiming the law is ambiguous, and saying there was no intent to skirt the law. So far there has been no comment from the Heck campaign.

UPDATE 7:50 PM–Okay, the AP story is now more fleshed out, you can go read it for yourself. The question seems to be whether state regulations prohibit fundraising for a federal candidate, or just state and local candidates. Put simply, The Public Disclosure Commission folks think federal candidates are covered, the Gregoire campaign side seems to think it’s unclear, and in any case the Gregoire camp says it won’t be doing anything else during the session freeze.

by Goldy, 01/27/2010, 4:32 PM

Anyone else receive an email today from Gov. Gregoire, asking you to support Denny Heck for Congress in the 3rd Congressional District? Huh. Seems a little early for the governor to be taking sides, considering the quality of the Democrats in the race, but, whatever.

by Goldy, 01/27/2010, 11:37 AM

Sorry for this brief fit of tech blogging, but a $499 starting price for Apple’s new iPad? Wow. Top that, Microsoft.

Back to your regularly scheduled political ranting.

by Jon DeVore, 01/27/2010, 9:38 AM

One of the silliest aspects of the Tea-Bagging-Town Maul spectacles last August was the widespread proclamation by conservatives that they are carrying on the movement of Saul Alinsky. While it was (and still is) laughable that people fighting on behalf on privilege and concentration of power could in any way lay claim to Alinsky’s legacy, it’s instructive to note just how delusional conservatives have allowed themselves to become.

For example, the anti-ACORN agit-prop activist James O’Keefe, arrested this week with three others in New Orleans for allegedly trying to bug the office of Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, was a main proponent of this nonsense.

Here’s O’Keefe being quoted by Politico in September of 2009:

James O’Keefe, the activist and filmmaker who posed as a pimp for an expose of several ACORN offices in the Northeast, told the New York Post earlier this week] that he, too, had been inspired by “Rules for Radicals,” which includes such tactical lessons as “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon” and “Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.”

O’Keefe told the paper he was trying to expose the “absurdities of the enemy by employing their own rules and language.”

“If you can make impossible demands on your enemy, you can destroy them,” he said.

Yeah, ridicule is indeed a potent weapon, as O’Keefe and his little band of modern-day Plumbers are about to find out.

O’Keefe has his actual roots, not in community organizing, but in the wingnut welfare system that sponsors far right “alternative” college newspapers, and it appears a couple of his fellow travelers do as well. Check out TPMMuckraker for more on that.

O’Keefe had his moment of glory, and became a hero to conservatives, because his clearly deceptive and unethical assault on ACORN was pushed into the broader media environment by Fox Noise. But this is not knew, and conservatives rarely pay much of a price for their egregious statements and actions, and in fact one can argue it only endears them to their supporters.

The problem for the rest of society is the conservative agit-prop artists become steadily more outrageous and egregious. Because the legacy media has become accustomed to right wing demagoguery, it seems to barely register when someone on the right jokes about kidnapping and torturing the Speaker of the House. Ha. Ha, whatever. Nobody would really go kill a doctor Nancy Pelosi, don’t be silly.

As progressives have known for a long time, the mind-set of many conservatives is basically akin to that of criminals who justify their wrong actions through excuse-making and an unjustified sense of victimhood. In this parallel universe, fostered, nurtured and encouraged by the broad array of stink tanks, news outlets and operatives now known as the Noise Machine, wrong actions against perceived enemies are justified because the very existence of the country is at stake. Never mind the law, never mind the truth, never mind what a democracy actually can be.

The conservative tribe demands that the enemy (that would be us) be attacked, and meanwhile our tribe is in the nurse’s office because we glued our balls to our legs again, to steal a recent quip about health care reform from Jon Stewart.

And now this is all manifesting itself in outright criminality, and of course that’s not new either. From the Palmer Raids to the McCarthy and Nixon eras, the song remains the same. Remember how much hard time Oliver North did? Yeah.

Some of the national commentary about O’Keefe has centered on what his “motivations” were, which I suppose has some bearing but also acts to disguise the foul nature of being caught in such a situation. I mean, they were pretending to be telephone repairmen in the office of a Senator who sits on the Homeland Security committee? One of them apparently had a listening device in a car nearby? Is there some kind of explanation possible that would justify that, other than being lunatics?

Some national commenters have predicted that O’Keefe’s future is in jeopardy, but that seems unlikely. If history is any guide, O’Keefe could very well wind up in charge of a giant right wing agit-prop machine to wield against his perceived enemies, just like the man who gave him so much air time in the first place, Roger Ailes of Fox Noise. (For those not clicking the preceding link, Ailes got his first big national political job in the 1968 campaign of Richard M. Nixon. The song remains the same.)

Given O’Keefe’s problems choosing between right actions and wrong actions, for anyone in the legacy media to ever, ever, ever again lend O’Keefe credibility is to deny what is plain and obvious to everyone outside the conservative pathology bubble: much of the right-wing in this country is utterly and completely unhinged. Normal people want to be able to afford doctor’s visits and pay for groceries, they don’t think about bugging Senate offices, and normal people consider law breaking to be wrong.

And they don’t believe a damn word coming out of Fox Noise.

by Goldy, 01/27/2010, 8:43 AM

Tweeting in the wake of last night’s decisive win for the Yes campaign in Oregon’s two controversial tax increase measures, my friend Carla at Blue Oregon wrote:

Dear OR Legislators: When you take bold, progressive action–we have your back. Remember this night.

That’s something I hope Washington Democrats remember from yesterday’s Oregon election as well. When (and if) you take bold, progressive action, we have your back. And by “we,” I don’t just mean progressive bloggers like me and Carla. I mean the entire progressive/Democratic infrastructure, and ultimately, a comfortable majority of the people.

But knowing Carla as well as I do, her concise, celebratory tweet also contains an implied threat to legislators: If you consistently fail to take bold, progressive action when needed–watch your back. We’ll remember this night.

And that’s a message I hope our own Democratic caucus internalizes too.

by Lee, 01/26/2010, 10:22 PM

- While the marijuana bills in the State House were voted down last week, the decriminalization bill is still alive in the Senate.

- The Cannabis Defense Coalition got the third set of documents from the Public Disclosure Requests from the Department of Corrections. I’ve updated the index of those documents here.

- Dan Bertolet writes about why it would be a mistake to implement the “Vision Line”, the proposed routing of light-rail through Bellevue that bypasses the Bellevue Transit Center. As someone who works in that area, I strongly second Bertolet’s concerns. It just doesn’t make sense at all not to utilize the existing Transit Center as a light-rail station. Plus, Wallace claims it “brings all of Downtown Bellevue within a 10-minute walk from the station” at 114th and 6th. It would take a pretty brisk pace to make it to Bellevue Square from there in 10 minutes, not to mention that it’s a fairly steep uphill climb between 112th and 110th. I just don’t see people making that walk – especially during the Christmas season when the weather is crappy and the need for transit alternatives is greatest.

- Tom Schaller writes one of the most dead-on posts I’ve read so far this year regarding Obama and how his instincts hurt him on health care. Here’s a snippet:

One of the joys of reading The Audacity of Hope is also one of its repeated annoyances: Obama’s reasoned and reasonable mind almost always works through a problem or controversy by admitting the merits of arguments made by advocates on both sides of some issue, then confesses his preference for a more liberal solution, but admits he is open to alternative solutions that might take into account a broad range of views and values. The book was undoubtedly written with his own political future in mind, and he surely aimed to demonstrate both his intellectual faculties and his open-mindedness.

But the presidency is not an intellectual exercise. It is a not a law school class debate. And in this hyper-partisan age it damn sure isn’t a colloquium in which opponents try to find common ground with opponents uninterested in reaching accommodation, no matter how much good faith bargaining is done. Consider the filibustering tendencies of the past three years, with the Republicans in the Senate minority, compared to the six years prior with the Democrats in the minority and George W. Bush in office.

Based on data provided by the U.S. Senate, cloture activities have doubled since the GOP became the minority. The average annual filed cloture motions from 2001 through 2006 was 34, but jumped to 69 in the three years since; average votes on cloture grew from 27 to 50; and per annum invoked clotures ballooned from 13 to 33. Neither party plays well with the other, but the GOP is more likely to throw a tantrum in the sandbox.

Did Obama think his political philosophies or 2008 campaign rhetoric would be an antidote to this sort of obstructionism? Did he think that the hand he reached across the aisle would be shook rather than bitten? Did he think wishing for a post-partisan America would make it so?