A few thoughts on this latest act of Republican political violence, over at Slog.
Archives for October 2010
There are two separate court dates tomorrow – one in Thurston County (8:45am) and one in Kitsap County (1:30pm) – where controversial medical marijuana prosecutions are occurring. The one in Thurston County involves a wheelchair-bound man with hereditary spastic paraplegia who didn’t get an authorization from a doctor until after his arrest. The one in Kitsap County involves a caregiver whose patient re-sold marijuana to an undercover cop. I know little more about these cases, but will update this post tomorrow with any further updates.
One of the biggest issues in the race to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Brian Baird in Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, is not Social Security privatization per se, but rather, where Republican nominee Jaime Herrera stands on it.
Like most Americans, the vast majority of WA-03 voters oppose Social Security privatization, because they understand the role this crucial program has played over the past 75 years in raising our nation’s elderly out of poverty, and they understand that, if Republican privatization proposals had prevailed, many retirees would have been wiped out by the Bush recession and its resulting stock market collapse. That’s not really up for debate.
But whether Herrera would be a reliable vote for privatization—or whatever Republicans choose to call it next time around—that’s an issue that should weigh heavily on WA-03 voters as they struggle to fill out their ballots during these tough economic times.
Of course, after being pounded on the issue by her Democratic opponent Denny Heck, Herrera now claims that she opposes “privatization.” But that wasn’t her position at a Republican candidate forum in Lewis County last May, when the moderator bluntly asked the panel: “Do you believe that Americans should be able to use all or a portion of their Social Security taxes to invest in individually owned retirement accounts, such as a 401-K or an IRA?”
As you can see in the video above, Herrera joins her fellow Republicans in answering “Yes.”
That’s the sorta answer Herrera needed to give to win a primary against an insurgent Tea Party challenger… though now her campaign claims that she merely “misunderstood” the question.
“Private accounts” and “privatization” are two ways of describing the same thing, and if Herrera doesn’t understand that, how can voters really trust her to protect Social Security from Wall Street backed “reforms?” Of course, they can’t, which perhaps explains why New York billionaire investor David Koch and his Social-Security-privatization-shilling Americans for Prosperity have already invested big in electing Jaime Herrera?
Anybody else notice a pattern here?
On October 14, a man was arrested for threatening Patty Murray supporters with a meat cleaver outside a debate in Spokane. Four days later, a man was arrested outside Walla Walla County Republican headquarters for assaulting a young woman who was protesting Dino Rossi, hitting her with “force.” And just a few days ago, a man was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for threatening to kill Sen. Murray.
On the one hand, you gotta give the Seattle Times credit for withdrawing their endorsement of Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders. That’s a tough thing to do.
On the other hand, Sanders has always been a notorious whack-job, so I gotta think the Times editorial board might not have found itself in this unusual and embarrassing situation if it had only based its original endorsement on the candidates’ legal qualifications rather than Sanders’ reliable record of writing anti-government, anti-labor, pro-business opinions.
I’m just sayin’.
When the Republican nominee can’t even draw the endorsement of Eastern Washington’s largest daily, that says something about the candidates.
… the Senate is composed of individual senators, who represent their separate states and the voters who live there. And even a leaner, more efficiently focused federal government will have work to do, and Congress must decide where and how that work gets done.
With her 18 years of seniority, Sen. Patty Murray would be better positioned than Rossi to make sure her constituents are treated fairly in that process.
Shorter Spokesman-Review endorsement: “We like Dino Rossi’s talking points, but we trust Patty Murray to serve the needs of our region.”
So far, Rossi has been endorsed by the Columbian and the Yakima Herald-Republic, while Murray has garnered the endorsement of everybody else. Again, I think that says something.
The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open.
It is one thing for the Seattle Times to miss a story happening in its own backyard; that sorta thing happens all the time these days, what with the devastating newsroom cutbacks suffered industrywide over the past few years. But it’s another thing to fill that gap by credulously running an AP piece that totally mischaracterizes the underlying story, and under the misleading headline “In Washington, illegal immigrants canvassing for Democrats.”
Hear that…? Those dirty Democrats are at it again folks, this time using illegal immigrants to help steal another election. Or at least that’s the spin that’s prompted news outlets to pick up this provocative headline nationwide.
But in reality, that spin couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the real story here, the one which truly deserves the headlines, is the story about how Seattle-based OneAmerica Votes has put together a team of enthusiastic volunteers to canvass immigrant voters throughout Washington state. It is an inspiring story about how our region’s newest Americans have passionately embraced their adopted nation’s grassroots democratic traditions.
Instead, the AP cynically cherry-picks its lede:
When Maria Gianni is knocking on voters’ doors, she’s not bashful about telling people she is in the country illegally.
She knows it’s a risk to advertise this fact to strangers — but it’s one worth taking in what she sees as a crucial election.
The 42-year-old is one of dozens of volunteers — many of them illegal immigrants — canvassing neighborhoods in the Seattle area trying to get naturalized citizens to cast a ballot for candidates like Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, who is in a neck-and-neck race with Republican Dino Rossi.
As a writer, I can’t argue with the storytelling; admittedly, that’s a damn compelling lede. But as a journalist, AP reporter Manuel Valdes (or maybe, his editor) has selectively mischaracterized the nature of these outreach efforts, doing both his subjects and his readers a great disservice.
According to director Pramila Jayapal, OneAmerica Votes has recruited a team of over 150 volunteers, only four of whom Valdes interviewed. And of those four only Gianni told the reporter she was undocumented. That’s one out of four out of 150. So I’m not sure where Valdes conjures up the assertion that “many of them” are “illegal.”
“I have my suspicions,” Jayapal told me when asked how many volunteers were undocumented, “but we certainly don’t ask people about their status.” And while she’s “proud” of Gianni for the personal risk she is taking, Jayapal insists that whether it’s one or a handful or a dozen, the media’s focus on undocumented volunteers entirely misses the point.
“The exciting story here,” (and one, by the way, that starkly contradicts the prevailing national narrative), “is that even people who cant vote are energized about this election, because they understand that it’s their future that is at stake.” Indeed, many of OneAmerica Votes’ volunteers can’t vote, not because they are undocumented, or even non-citizens, but because they are simply underage.
“We have an amazing group of high schoolers who are canvassing with us,” Jayapal told me, “who say to me ‘Wow… I just woke up to politics.’ That’s very exciting to watch.”
As are the results. Over the course of this election over 162,000 immigrant voters throughout the state have been contacted by OneAmerica Votes, including over 41,000 homes canvassed by phone and/or at the door by volunteers. That’s a huge chunk of the 230,000 registered immigrant voters who make up over 7.5% of the Washington state electorate.
And far from this being the Democratic GOTV effort the AP headline implies, much of OneAmerica Votes’ efforts have focused largely on the many initiatives cluttering the November ballot, with the organization translating voter guides into six languages, and inviting proponents and opponents alike to initiative forums in neighborhoods with large immigrant communities. That’s a unique, grassroots voter education effort that should be celebrated, not vilified.
“It’s a shame,” Jayapal lamented. “The way that this whole story has been spun is scary.”
And ironic, especially considering that at the same time the FOX News crowd frets over a 13-year, tax-paying undocumented resident urging her fellow immigrants to exercise a precious right she doesn’t have, our media has for the most part shrugged off as politics as usual the tens of millions of dollars of out of state money pouring in to influence our local elections, many of the contributors undisclosed, and some of them even foreign.
Is it any wonder then that the most intelligent commentary on this latest manufactroversy comes from a satirist, the website Wonkette?
Does this make you feel bad about being a lazy Yuppie/voter? Well it should. Because it’s sort of sad that the only people willing to “get out the vote” are the people who can’t vote and also that these same people are hunted like feral animals by douchey government agents.
In the end, I understand the national media picking up this AP story, and lazily inferring the worst from its misleading headline and selective lede; that’s the way the wire services work.
But the Seattle Times has no such excuse. This is a story unfolding in its own backyard, and they could’ve just as easily picked up the phone and talked to Jayapal as I did. In fact, far from reprinting the AP story unchallenged, as Seattle’s sole surviving daily, and the largest newspaper in the state, I’d argue that the Times has a unique obligation to debunk it, thus setting the record straight.
So yeah, I’d say the Seattle Times owes OneAmerica Votes and our local immigrant communities a followup story… if not an outright apology.
(And there are almost 50 more links to media clips from the past week in politics at Hominid Views.)
… NPR should have fired Juan Williams for being on FOX News. Or more specifically, for being a paid contributor to FOX News.
This has nothing to do with the alleged liberal bias of NPR, and everything to do with FOX News being being more of a political organization than a news organization. Everybody but the most crazy far-right-wingers understands that FOX News is a fraud, but it is a fraud nonetheless, and by being a paid analyst for FOX News while also being a paid employee of NPR, Williams was lending NPR’s credibility to FOX News, while diminishing it in the process.
Simple as that.
As it is, this whole thing has worked out for the best. Williams now gets to make a lot more money shilling for the frauds at FOX News than he ever could at NPR, while NPR no longer has to explain why they have a FOX News shill on staff. So I don’t see why folks are so upset.
Dino Rossi is getting a lot of media mileage out of his “the President wouldn’t be coming here if Patty Murray wasn’t in trouble” meme, mostly because our media is so heavily invested in this being a close race. So it’ll be interesting to see, when Murray ends up winning by about the same margin as Gov. Gregoire did in 2008, how the media ultimately explains her relatively comfortable victory.
What’s also funny about this meme is that you can be damn sure that the President would have been out here campaigning for Rossi, had John McCain won the 2008 presidential election. Only difference is, rather than a public rally of a couple ten thousand all-comers, McCain’s visit would have been just like all the other Beltway and Wall Street insiders who have come out here to campaign for Rossi: a high-donor, carefully screened fundraising event, held exclusively behind closed doors.
I’ve been meaning to get to this topic for a while, but with the G.O.P. currently predicted to take control of the U.S. House, if not the Senate, I plan to join the folks over at Campaign for America’s Future and focus a bit of my energies over the next week or so talking about Social Security… and what the Republicans and their wealthy patrons plan to do to it, should they be given the chance.
Of course, it’s one thing to be against something — like the privatization “reforms” nearly every Republican congressional nominee in Washington supports, even if they refuse to clearly say so on the record — but I thought it best to start out by stating some core principles that I would hope all of the Democratic incumbents and challengers in this year’s election would support:
- Social Security has a surplus of $2.6 trillion, which it has loaned to the federal government. Social Security did not cause the federal deficit. Its benefits should not be cut to reduce the deficit.
- Social Security, which has stood the test of time, should not be privatized in whole or in part.
- Social Security is insurance and should not be means-tested. Because workers pay for it, they should receive it regardless of their income or savings.
- Social Security is fully funded for more than 25 years; thereafter it has sufficient funds to meet 75 percent of promised benefits. To reassure Americans that Social Security will be there for them, Congress should act in the coming few years outside the context of deficit reduction to close this funding gap by requiring those who are most able to afford it to pay somewhat more.
- Social Security’s retirement age, already scheduled to increase from 65 to 67, should not be raised further. That would be a benefit cut that places the greatest hardship on older Americans who are in physically demanding jobs, or are otherwise unable to find or keep employment.
- Social Security, whose average benefit is $13,000 in 2010, provides vital protection against the loss of wages as the result of disability, death, or old age. Those benefits should not be reduced, including by changes to the cost of living adjustment or the benefit formula.
- Social Security’s benefits should be increased for those who are most disadvantaged. The benefits, which are very important to virtually all workers and their families, are particularly crucial to those who are disadvantaged.
You can read more about these Seven Principles at StrengthenSocialSecurity.org.
Also at the website you will find a list of the 136 members of Congress who have already signed on to the Grijalva-Conyers-Maffei Letter to President Obama, pledging their strong support for the principles above. FYI, Seattle’s own Rep. Jim McDermott is the only Washington state representative to sign the letter thus far.
I hope to change that.
But mostly I plan to use these posts to expose our state’s Republican congressional slate’s plans to undermine and weaken Social Security in the cynical name of “fixing” it.
[Disclosure: Campaign for America’s Future is paying me a small stipend in exchange for cross-posting at their site. But everybody who knows me knows that I only advocate for candidates, campaigns and issues that I believe in.]