by Lee, 02/28/2010, 12:00 PM

Last week’s contest was won in near-record time by Brian. It was Brunswick, Victoria, Australia.

Here’s this week’s, good luck!

by Goldy, 02/28/2010, 6:00 AM

Leviticus 20:13
If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.


by Jon DeVore, 02/27/2010, 4:59 PM

When people blithely talk about how only a “moderate” can win down here in WA-03, I feel like pulling my hair out. But then I’m reminded that the machinations of politicians often mean little compared to what the public actually thinks.

From The Columbian’s newly revived political blog, concerning a poll commissioned by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and done by Research 2000:

In a follow-up question, voters were asked whether they would favor or oppose “the national government offering everyone the choice of buying into a government-administered health insurance plan — something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older get — that would compete with private health insurance plans.” A whopping 66 percent favored the idea; 24 percent opposed it, and 10 percent were undecided.

Presumably, using today’s commonly accepted definitions of what constitutes a “moderate,” nobody in their right mind would campaign in favor of government involvement in health care, because the Tea People hate the gubmint. It’s a scary year, at least to the easily scared, and we should just cower behind the pants leg of any sugar daddy we can find. (Note: this strategy is properly known scientifically as “The Democratic Party Formula for Failure Before Howard Dean Came Along.)

The problem with pat conventional wisdom is that, er, it’s pat conventional wisdom, passed around the tribe until it either becomes a fait accompli or is proven to be wrong. Hopefully the sillly notion that one can even define “moderate” in a multi-faceted district like WA-03 dies a swift death.

“Moderate” doesn’t even mean anything, it’s just a bit of pablum that indicates one member of the tribe prefers a certain member of the tribe. Do you know many Democratic Party politicians who, these days at least, conceive of themselves as immoderate? We’re talking about delivering a vital social service, health care, not starting a vegan commune in the woods with lots of naked people running around creating a vastly different consciousness (nothing against the latter if that’s your thing, though.)

But if a strong majority in in WA-03 likes the idea of a “Medicare for everyone” type plan, then I guess the sensible course would be to favor single payer, huh? Imagine that, the people in backwoods-y, hicksville WA-03 actually get it. I guess the Uncle Sam billboard on I-5 isn’t a majority down here after all!

Please do yourself a favor, and cast any remaining assumptions about WA-03 provided to you by certain Democratic Party illuminati and a certain Seattle alternative newspaper overboard. I try to shy away from absolute predictions, so I can only predict this: Craig Pridemore isn’t going to shy away from this race, and if more voters get to know Craig and his compassion for regular citizens, he’ll stand a great chance of winning in November.

by Lee, 02/26/2010, 10:19 PM

I’ve been busy this week helping out the Sensible Washington folks with their signature gathering efforts. They now have their donation page set up, so please visit and throw a few pennies their way. This is a huge statewide volunteer signature gathering effort and they could use all the help they can get.

- The arrest and prosecution of Olympia Mayor Pro-Tem Joe Hyer for somewhat petty marijuana charges has given rise to a number of questions. There are tens of thousands of transactions like the one that Hyer was busted for happening in the state of Washington every month. Why was he specifically targeted despite clearly not being a large-scale dealer? Who was the confidential informant that Thurston County Narcotics Task Force used to bust Hyer? The Cannabis Defense Coalition is now trying to find these things out – and to highlight the fact that this arrest was likely politically motivated.

- In addition to being a high ranking political official who has both enemies and a pot plant, there’s one other thing that makes you far more likely to be busted for marijuana in this state: being black.

- I recently posted on the rogue DEA agent in Colorado, Jeff Sweetin, who openly violated the Obama Administration’s policy towards medical marijuana. Colorado Congressman Jared Polis is now fighting back. Last Thursday, President Obama was met by protests in Denver.

- Amanda Knox is not the only American being fucked over by the Italian legal system.

- As bad as the Italian legal system is, Utah might be worse.

by Goldy, 02/26/2010, 11:36 AM

by Goldy, 02/26/2010, 8:59 AM

State Republicans are trying to use our current budget crisis as an opportunity to sell off our state store system, and privatize the sale of hard liquor. Why? I’m not sure even they know why. I guess they just believe that privatization is always good, kinda like the same way some Republicans believe that humans coexisted with dinosaurs.

But as Rev. Jimmie James and Rep. Zack Hudgins point out in a Seattle Times guest column yesterday, privatization just isn’t worth it. Under our state store system Washington has the highest compliance rate in the nation in terms of restricting the sale of liquor to minors, and one of the lowest rates of alcohol consumption… and its inevitable social impact. All this while adding over $300 million a year to the state budget.

Furthermore, despite all their talk about supporting small business, the Republican proponents of privatization obviously couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the mom and pop private contractors throughout the state who would lose their shirts while the sale of liquor was monopolized by out of state giants like Safeway, Albertson’s, 7-Eleven, and Kroger’s (QFC & Fred Meyer).

So, you sometimes gotta plan a little ahead if you’re running low on liquor. Suck it up. Hell, if you ask me, tobacco should only be available in the state stores too. Along with pot. Now that would generate the state some serious revenue.

by Goldy, 02/25/2010, 1:13 PM

Rod Arquette, the program director who cancelled my show at 710-KIRO, has himself been canceled, according to a report over at BlatherWatch.

Of course I feel empathy for Rod, as I would for just about anybody losing their job, but sympathy… not so much. It’s nothing personal, but the radio biz is as fickle a mistress to program directors as it is to talent, so Rod’s departure is really just a circle of life kinda thing. In fact, considering the station’s sliding fortunes over his tenure, I’m kinda surprised he lasted this long.

When I started at KIRO in 2006, the longtime AM powerhouse was live and local 24/7 (with the exception of Bob Brinker on the weekends), a reliable cash cow, and a local icon, and while my personal schtick was political talk, I was honored to be a part of the station’s broader news coverage. Sitting at home in the cold and the dark with my wind-up radio in the aftermath of the December 2006 windstorm, I knew that there was one station I could rely on 24 hours a day to bring me the latest updates on the ongoing power outage, and for those few hours a day sitting behind the mic in the warmth and light of the studio, I was proud to be the one providing this service to my community.

And today, I can’t even find KIRO on the dial anymore.

Under Arquette’s watch, 710-AM reformatted to sports talk, while the venerable news/talk franchise moved somewhere in the FM band. The newsroom suffered a series of cuts, ceding the lead in that market to KOMO-1000, while the station abandoned its longtime commitment to live and local, replacing me and other hosts with syndicated fare. I feel a perhaps misplaced degree of loyalty and affection toward KIRO for giving me an opportunity I hadn’t really earned, but these days, given a breaking news event, even I tune in to KOMO. I know where they are on the dial, and I know they’ll never be broadcasting some syndicated crap.

And that’s kinda sad.

I was awfully disappointed when Arquette let me go, though not bitter. I never had much interaction with him, but he always seemed like a pretty nice guy, even while axing me. So I wish him all the best.

But I wish even better for KIRO under new management.

by Jon DeVore, 02/25/2010, 9:16 AM

From The Columbian:

Rep. Deb Wallace (D-Vancouver) is accusing Rep. Jaime Herrera (R-Camas) of shirking her duties by being absent from the House floor “for hours on end” during key votes over the last few weeks in order to campaign — a charge Herrera flatly denies.

Wallace, who recently announced she is dropping out of the WA-03 race to replace retiring Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., doesn’t seem to have an obvious motive in leveling this accusation against Herrera. If this would help anyone it would be the other major GOP candidate in WA-03, David Castillo.

It sounds like Wallace said something at a small gathering, which was then emailed around, and it wound up on the Inter-Tubes. If you do a Google blog search for “Jaime Herrera” you will quickly find that pro-Castillo bloggers down here were rending their garments and howling about this almost immediately, while throwing kitchen sinks, tire irons and brickbats Herrera’s way. (Sorry, I won’t link to those people.) So score one for the brickbat crowd, and remember this the next time someone pleads for civility. These people only have one speed, full on attack, at all times.

As for whether Herrera is actually absent from her Legislative duties too much, a charge she vigorously denies, the rest of the Columbian article pretty much amounts to she said, she said. There are all sorts of legitimate reasons for a member to not be sitting on the floor, of course, but with the near-death of the Olympia press corps I’d wager we’d know more if this were two or three years ago. So I’m not sure what the affect will ultimately be on the Congressional race, unless someone wants to sift through 8 million hours of TVW coverage.

For the time being I’m reserving judgment, and I’ve put out a couple of emails to other members asking for their opinion. If I hear anything back I’ll post an update.

by Goldy, 02/25/2010, 7:53 AM

by Goldy, 02/24/2010, 11:49 PM

One thing is for certain, if Dino Rossi does run for the U.S. Senate, he’ll kick Patty Murray’s ass… in 2011.

by Goldy, 02/24/2010, 3:34 PM

This afternoon I hit a bit of a milestone in my effort to teach myself how to develop iPhone apps, marking the first time I successfully searched my old rhyming dictionary database from within the iPhone simulator, and displayed the results. The core functionality is now, well, functional, and considering where I was a just a couple weeks ago, that feels awfully damn good.

There’s a ton of work still left to do, but I’ve left most of the learning curve behind me. I guess my brain isn’t quite as old as my body.

by Goldy, 02/24/2010, 9:13 AM

The other day the Seattle Times singled out House Finance Committee chair Ross Hunter for his willingness to consider raising taxes to ward off some of the most crippling and counterproductive impending budget cuts:

This is a failure of leadership. Hunter, in particular, disappoints us because he was supposed to be a moderate.

That’s right, because in the Times’ Bizarro World lexicon, true “leadership” always consists of defending the status quo, and the status quo around here is last year’s all-cuts budget. And of course a true “moderate” would never consider raising taxes, only cutting them, because moderation never involves looking at both sides of the budget equation.

The Times had no gripe with Hunter and his committee when their primary business was considering and passing innumerable tax breaks and exemptions, but the minute he considers pushing revenue in the other direction, well, that’s a failure of leadership.

I was reminded of the Times’ immoderate attack on Hunter while reading Eliot Spitzer’s latest column in Slate, in which he effectively debunks the popular conservative meme that higher taxes inevitably result in lower GDP. It’s worth a read, especially within the context of our current state budget debate in which the Times and its surrogates in the Republican caucus (or is it the other way around? It’s so easy to get confused…) reflexively argue that raising taxes will inevitably hurt our economy, while totally ignoring the economic, let alone human impact of spending cuts.

But I was particularly struck by the following passage, in which Spitzer lays out a bit of history the 21st Century reader might find rather startling:

Leaders of a century ago invoked justice in remarkable language that is unimaginable today. President Woodrow Wilson called paying taxes “a glorious privilege.” Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. observed that “taxes are what we pay for civilized society.” In 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt said, “In this time of grave national danger, when all excess income should go to win the war; no American citizen ought to have a net income, after he has paid his taxes, of more than $25,000.” That $25,000 is the equivalent of $323,208 in today’s dollars. Can you conceive of a modern president suggesting that no American should earn more than $323,000 after taxes? (President George W. Bush went to war twice without once calling for such a common sacrifice to pay for it.) And President Harry Truman in 1948 vetoed a broad-based tax cut, even in the face of an expected and eventual congressional override, and then asked for a tax increase following his upset victory.

On the subject of leadership, I hate to give Ross Hunter the pleasure of lumping him in there, no matter how momentary or tangentially, with the likes of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., but… well… you know…

Regardless, just like there are two sides to the budget equation, there are two sides to the question of whether in an economic downturn like ours, tax increases are more damaging than spending cuts, so in the interest of an informed public debate, I really wish the Times would stop operating on the assumption that their side of the argument is a given.

by Darryl, 02/23/2010, 6:19 PM


Please join us tonight for an evening of politics under the influence at the Seattle Chapter of Drinking Liberally. We meet at the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue E. beginning at about 8:00 pm. Some of us will show up even earlier.

Not in Seattle? There is a good chance you live near one of the 346 other chapters of Drinking Liberally.

by Jon DeVore, 02/23/2010, 1:43 PM

Props to the dirty hippies spreading this on the Facebook.

by Goldy, 02/23/2010, 12:37 PM

Yesterday I griped about the Seattle Times myopic focus on the revenue side of the state budget equation, while providing very little coverage of the steep spending cuts in virtually every state agency and program:

You wouldn’t know it from reading the Times, because that doesn’t fit in with their lazy waste/fraud/abuse meme. No, the Times never writes about the thousands of state employees who have lost their jobs — further depressing our local economy — because they’re too busy expressing outrage that the remaining state employees still enjoy the same kind of health care benefits newspaper employeesused to enjoy as recently as a decade ago.

And today, as if on cue, the Times initial coverage of the just released Senate budget proposal focuses exclusively on tax increases.

If all you read was the Times, you might not remember that the legislature and governor addressed last year’s record revenue shortfall with a dramatic, all cuts budget, and you might think that the Senate is looking to close this year’s additional $2.7 billion gap entirely on the back of taxpayers. No, you’d have no idea that the Senate budget proposal includes another $838 million in additional cuts.

I’m just sayin’…

by Goldy, 02/23/2010, 8:49 AM

by Carl, 02/22/2010, 5:11 PM

There’s something about old media trying to do new media. Sometimes it works wonderfully, but usually it comes off as an editor heard about one of those “blogs” or “twitters” and asked the tech guy to set one up. The Seattle Times’ Ed Page blog falls into the later category. Infrequently updated, clearly not edited, and as biased toward the status quo as anything in print, the Ed cetera blog manages to combine the worst parts of blogs and newspapers in one convenient package.

They have a weekly feature, Civil Disagreements, where Lynne Varner representing as far left as the Times allows and Bruce Ramsey representing curmudgeonly libertarian basically agree on an issue and argue about the details. This week’s issue is the debt. Varner comes out strong saying yay for a toothless commission, I hope it recommends working the elderly to death:

The panel is expected to come up with a deficit reduction plan by Dec. 1. But the part of this commission’s charge I like best is their promise to recalibrate American expectations around money and social benefits. For example, one suggestion is to raise the age people can collect Social Security and slow the growth of those benefits. Another is raising taxes on a larger portion of the populace, those making under $200,000. It will be interesting to see what this group comes up with.

Work harder grandma! And tax increases targeted to lower income people. (I think that’s what she’s getting at, but “those making under $200,000″ is a strange construction, I assume she means everyone making under $200,000.) You know liberalism. I’d prefer a 50% top marginal rate, but start it at incomes above $30 Million. These are made up numbers, of course, but something out of the range of normal Americans, or even their crazy expectations.

Shockingly Bruce Ramsey is less wrong. After pointing out that the toothless commission would probably be toothless, he says that it’s important to cut the deficit the right way. Although, it’s not a great solution either.

As for the ideas menationed [sic]: sure, some of them make sense. I’m a small-government guy, so I like spending cuts lots more than tax increases. If we keep the present Social Security system, it has to be balanced. And the best ways to do that are to allow the tax cap to rise faster and make the benefits formula less generous over time. I am not so high on raising the retirement age. It might work for desk jockeys like you and me, but blue collar workers are done by 67, and many of them well before that. You can’t expect an ironworker, a sheet metal worker, a pipefitter, etc, to work to age 70 in order to get full benefits. Anyway, if we’re going to cut payments from the government, let’s cut them to people who don’t work, not to people who worked a lifetime.

I’m not sure what exactly “it has to be balanced” means; Social Security is the largest part of the budget that isn’t swimming in red ink, it seems strange to focus on it. There is also no mention from either of them, why the deficit is more important than, say, job creation, or even desirable in a recession. Of course neither of them say if we want to balance the budget, we’re going to need to tax the people with the most money, shrink the military significantly (yes including Boeing’s contracts) and take concrete steps to grow the economy that probably include government spending in the short term.

by Goldy, 02/22/2010, 2:37 PM

Rereading my previous post, I realize I never clearly enunciated what it is that bothers me so much about the Seattle Times’ editorial bent. It’s just that they make the notion of running government on less money sound so easy. In fact, not just easy, but downright obvious. I guess that explains why they feel no need to explain how to do it.

Once again, take for example DNR’s Natural Heritage Program. Faced with declining revenues and no stomach for tax increases, the governor and the legislature cut DNR funding about 22 percent from the previous biennium to the current. About two-thirds of DNR’s budget comes from royalties generated from timber, grazing, farming etc. on the public lands it manages, but declining commodity prices have meant declining revenues there too. Altogether, DNR’s budget has shrunk from $325 million in the 07-09 biennium, down to $267 million for 09-11.

You wouldn’t know it from reading the Times op-ed page, but DNR, like other state agencies, has responded to substantial cuts in revenue by substantially cutting spending. In addition to attrition and hiring freezes and stuff like that, DNR has gone through three rounds of honest to God layoffs, shedding 114 full-time employees — you know, warm bodies… real live people — or roughly 9 percent of the department’s current workforce. And these weren’t for the most part Olympia bureaucrats; these layoffs occurred in small towns throughout the state, where losing just a half dozen jobs or so can be a real blow to the local economy.

A tough revenue forecast makes for tough decisions, and one of the tough decisions DNR made was to stretch its limited resources by offsetting part of the cost of the Natural Heritage Program with user fees from the timber companies, developers, and government agencies who use it. I suppose DNR could have reprioritized, leaving NHP’s funding intact (and services fee-free) at the expense of other programs and services, but you know, for every NHP there’s… well… there’s another NHP. Are the cuts going to come at the expense fighting forest fires? Regulating clear cuts on steep slopes? Barring a new revenue source, the cuts are going to have to come from somewhere.

And all the cutting and slashing that’s been going on at DNR has been going on at nearly every other state agency as well. You wouldn’t know it from reading the Times, because that doesn’t fit in with their lazy waste/fraud/abuse meme. No, the Times never writes about the thousands of state employees who have lost their jobs — further depressing our local economy — because they’re too busy expressing outrage that the remaining state employees still enjoy the same kind of health care benefits newspaper employees used to enjoy as recently as a decade ago.

For the most part, the Times doesn’t really want government to be smaller, they want it to be cheaper… or it least, if they do want a substantially smaller state government in terms of the scope of services it provides and infrastructure in which it invests, the Times doesn’t have the balls to say so. Instead, they just harp on the government’s refusal/inability to cut costs, all the while ignoring the huge cuts that have already taken place, and the very real impact these cuts have produced.

Which just strikes me as lazy.

by Goldy, 02/22/2010, 12:02 PM

Righties like to accuse liberals like me of being tax and spend Democrats, and I suppose, to some extent I am.

See, as a liberal, I believe in using government to improve our collective quality of life by providing services and investing in infrastructure. But, I also believe that we need to pay for these services and investments by responsibly raising the necessary revenue… you know… we need to raise enough taxes to pay for what we spend.

In that sense, “tax and spend” is both liberal, and fiscally conservative.

The Seattle Times, on the other hand, appears to be embracing a less responsible  philosophy of government, one which I have dubbed “no-tax and spend.” Like your run of the mill politician, the Times ed board is much more enamored of cutting taxes than it is of cutting services. For example, it’s latest rant against a bill that would allow the Department of Natural Resources to charge timber companies, developers and others a reasonable fee for accessing valuable data that collects.

The other bad bill, Senate Bill 6747, would allow the state Department of Natural Resources to charge exorbitant fees to citizens for access to the agency’s Natural Heritage Program, which includes a database of species and ecosystems that are a priority for conservation. The costs could be as high as $6,000 for an annual subscription or $100 per request plus a $75/hour charge.

Money throughout state agencies is tight, but charging hefty fees for information intended to be public is an irresponsible solution. If the DNR imposes such fees, expect more agencies to follow suit with public-request-killing fees.

Of course, the Times is either befuddled or befuddling or both, as this bill has nothing to do with public records requests, and does not authorize similar fees from other agencies. What it does do is allow DNR to continue the Natural Heritage Program by offsetting crippling budget cuts with a fee comparable to that being charged for a similar program in neighboring Oregon.

NHP has already seen a more than 50% cut in its biennial budget, from $1.38 million to $585,000, and further cuts would jeopardize an additional $240,000 in federal matching grants. The proposed fees would not cover the full cost of running the program, but it would stabilize funding enough to keep it going at current levels.

The Times and I both acknowledge that the NHP provides a valuable service, the difference is how we propose to pay for it. Personally, I’d prefer an adequate and fair broad-based tax system that provides sufficient and sustainable revenues to pay for services like the NHP, without resorting to user fees. But barring that, I’m not philosophically opposed to offsetting part of the cost of the program by charging timber companies, developers and other users the going rate for such services.

The Times, on the other hand, would prefer to pay for programs like the NHP by pulling wads of money out of a leprechaun’s ass. Or something like that.

Yeah sure, the Times has enunciated a few cost-saving proposals, most of which involve fucking the state employee unions, but in general there has been a remarkable disconnect on its op-ed page between its reflexive support for popular government services, and its knee-jerk opposition to the taxes and fees necessary to pay for them. As the Times points out, the state isn’t the federal goverment… “it cannot print money or borrow from China.” So something has to give.

When it comes to the NHP, I say “tax and spend,” whereas the Times simply says “spend.” You figure out for yourself which one of us is being more fiscally responsible.

by Lee, 02/22/2010, 6:07 AM

Sensible Washington is having its kickoff meeting for Olympia area volunteers tonight. Also, Philip Dawdy responds to the ACLU of Washington’s decision not to endorse I-1068:

Sensible Washington is disappointed that the ACLU of Washington is refusing to support I-1068. We believe that in so doing the group is ignoring the wishes of many of its members and contradicts its years of support for marijuana drug reform. We find it especially ironic that the organization which initially promoted legalization and reform in Washington State should retreat from its last 10 years of work on that front.

We are especially disturbed by the characterization of I-1068 as irresponsible based upon lack of regulation when the ACLU of Washington is well aware that the initiative could not include a regulatory scheme. Federal preemption issues make a comprehensive tax and regulate scheme impossible and the single issue rule for initiatives in Washington State does not help either. Those restrictions limit the scope of any initiative to removing criminal penalties for adults. If I-1068 is passed this November it will fall to the State Legislature to provide a legal framework for adult marijuana use, possession and cultivation. The ACLU of Washington has been involved in developing such frameworks, making its current position on I-1068 even more curious.

We are confused that the ACLU of Washington doesn’t seem to get that it is wrong for the State of Washington to continue to waste about $105 million a year in taxpayer funds to arrest, prosecute and imprison over 12,000 otherwise responsible citizens a year for marijuana-related offenses. We are confused that the ACLU of Washington would be willing to accept a state medical marijuana law which offers little legal protection to sick and dying patients. And we are utterly baffled that the ACLU of Washington does not get that the repeated failure of the Legislature to reform this state’s marijuana laws indicates that an initiative to the people is the only responsible method to achieve the kind of reform that the citizens of Washington State clearly desire.

I think the main stumbling block for the ACLU here is that they’ve become so enamored with having good relationships with certain powerful folks in the state that they’ve been willing to completely compromise on making any progress in order to keep that seat at the table. During the push to modify the medical marijuana law in 2007-2008, they ended up compromising so much that patients ended up more likely to be arrested (see update 2) with the new law than they were before. The ACLU was prominent in those discussions. The I-1068 initiative is a recognition that trying to negotiate with the legislature is no longer a good strategy. This initiative is a way to force the legislature’s hand to deal with this problem head on and stop dicking around. And my own hunch (and it’s just a hunch) is that this made the ACLU uncomfortable. Otherwise, as Philip explains quite well in that post, their opposition to the initiative simply doesn’t make sense logically.

UPDATE: One additional aspect of this that’s worth noting is that the ACLU of Washington was the main driver behind the recent decriminalization bills in the legislature (which didn’t pass either the House or the Senate, despite merely trying to make our marijuana laws more similar to states like Ohio and Mississippi). Some of the folks who put together I-1068 had been very vocal in their criticisms of Alison Holcomb and the ACLU of Washington over not pushing for full legalization. Again, I have no idea exactly what drove Holcomb to come out against I-1068 (which has been endorsed by a broad range of folks already), but considering the ACLU of Washington’s track record in drug law reform, it’s probably a good thing they’re not involved.

UPDATE 2: After being challenged on the assertion noted above, I’m going to remove it from the post. This has been my perception from following a number of cases, but I don’t have any data to prove it, so I’m striking it from my original post. I do feel confident in saying that the revision of the law did nothing to prevent patients from being arrested, since the recent State vs. Fry court decision affirmed that the law does nothing to prevent patients from being arrested. My larger point that the attempts to work with the legislature were a complete failure still stands.