Political Ploys

The Seattle Times has an editorial decrying the political ploys involved in Rob McKenna adding his name to the anti-health care reform lawsuit. Not McKenna signing up for a lawsuit that would overturn the entire law and claiming he’s only opposed to one part. Not McKenna going against the specific wishes of Governor Gregoire. No, the people who are writing a law that says the AG’s office has to have a client are the people engaging in a political ploy.

FOUR liberal Democrats in the state Senate have introduced a bill to strip the state attorney general’s power to challenge a law. Their proposal is blatantly political and would damage the balance of power in Olympia.

The senators are Adam Kline and Jeanne Kohl-Welles, both of Seattle, Karen Keiser of Kent and Karen Fraser of Olympia. Senate Bill 6286 would allow the attorney general to challenge the constitutionality of a law only at the request of “the state officer with authority over the subject matter” — most likely the governor.

You know, the other day when Mike McGinn called The Seattle Times conservative, some of their reporters had their feefees hurt.* Might I suggest if you don’t want people pointing out how conservative your paper is, your paper might not want to take so many conservative positions (although in fairness, they’re much more pro-status quo and corporate power than they are pro one party over the other, that just generally coincides with conservatives). If you don’t want to be considered conservative, you might not want to have your editorial board use liberal as an insult. You might not want to have it go to the mattresses for a conservative attorney general.

Anyway, to the substance: Yes, this is a response to an out of control AG acting against the wishes of the governor. They’re responding to a blatantly political act by McKenna. Why doesn’t The Seattle Times condemn that?

Clearly this bill targets Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican, who joined a lawsuit against the Obama health-insurance law despite the opposition of Gov. Chris Gregoire, a Democrat. McKenna is running for her job, and these four senators don’t want him to have it.

Maybe he should have thought of that before he decided to try to use his office to unilaterally overturn a law that will benefit large numbers of Washingtonians for political reasons. In any event, some day The Seattle Times Ed. Board can explore how attempting to have 5 conservative justices overturn one of Obama’s signature issues has nothing to do with politics. But here’s the part that really got me:

They are free to campaign against him and to make issue of him putting the state’s name to a lawsuit led by the attorney general of Florida. But it is wrong to take away McKenna’s power and the power of future attorneys general, Republican or Democrat.

Wrong? Wrong! It’s wrong for legislators? To try to legislate?!??!

The Seattle Times doesn’t seem to understand the basics of our separation of powers. If members of the legislature feel the law could be improved, they are quite free to change the law (even for political reasons, they are politicians). If they feel a member of the executive branch is getting too powerful or is abusing the power given it by past legislatures, they have a duty to try to reign them in. Disagree with them if you like, but don’t pretend that legislators legislating is somehow underhanded.

* Brunner is generally a solid reporter, but this insistence that The Mercer Island Mutt Murderer somehow defines the center is laughable.


  1. 1

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I don’t like the Seattle Times. Not because they’re a newspaper. My daddy, Papa Rabbit (1912-2011, RIP, sniffle), was a lifelong newspaperman. And I was a newspaper reporter before I became a lawyer. So I have deep roots in the newspaper industry — you might say I have ink instead of blood running through my veins. And I’m a HUGE believer in a FREE press.

    We live in America, Land of the FREE, and people ought to be able to criticize our leaders if they want to, even if our leader is a Republican who is starting a war against a country that did not threaten or attack us, a war that would eventually cost a trillion dollars and 4,000-plus American lives. If our leader had gone after the Seattle Times for criticizing d that war in their editorial pages, and the Bush administration d gone after them for criticizing that war in their editorial pages, I would have been the first to defend them. If anti-war protesters had gone after the Seattle Times for defending that war in its editorial pages, I would have been in the front lines defending their right to print whatever opinion they wanted to print. What I’m saying is I believe the press ought to be FREE all the time, not just when I happen to agree with what they’re saying.

    No, the reason I don’t like the Seattle Times isn’t because they’re a newspaper. I don’t like the Seattle Times despite their being a newspaper. And my dislike has nothing to do with their editorial policies or slanted news coverage.

    There are two reasons why I don’t like the Seattle Times. First, they use aggressive marketing tactics to try to sell me a subscription I don’t want. In 2004, I filed a complaint with the state attorney general’s consumer protection office against the Seattle Times because their telemarketers were harassing me, sometimes calling 5 or 6 times a week, even though I had repeatedly told them “no.” The AG got them off my back for a few years. But then, this winter, the Seattle Times telemarketers started calling again. They asked for Mrs. Rabbit’s mother, who used to live with us, but died 12 years ago. We’re on the National Do Not Call registry, so this time I reported them to the FCC. I hope they had to pay the $1,000 fine. In any case, they’ve stopped calling — for now.

    Second, the Seattle Times delivery driver who delivers the Seattle Times to my next door neighbor drives on my lawn. He shows up about 5:30 AM every morning and drives across my lawn, leaving unsightly ruts and destroying flowerbeds. One time, when I was out early getting my hopping exercise, he nearly ran over me with his car in the common driveway I share with my neighbor. I talked to him about his driving, pointing out that he’s a guest on someone else’s pivate property — and should act like one. His response was, “Oh, you’re the guy who doesn’t subscribe to the paper, aren’t you?”

    The Seattle Times needs to clean up a lot more than their editorial practices. They need to stop breaking the law and violating other people’s basic legal and property rights. Most of all, they need to learn what the word “no” means when someone tells them they don’t want to buy their product or service, and they need to learn how to leave people alone and not go where they’re not wanted.

  2. 2

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Speaking of free press, the U.S Humane Society sent people to work at Iowa chicken and pork farms and secretly videotape any animal abuse they saw.

    In case you didn’t know, 90% of America’s eggs and pork are raised on giant corporate farms, not family farms. And those activists saw (and videotaped) plenty of animal abuse at the giant corporate farms they worked for. It was, they said, a systematic and daily occurrence.

    Republicans in the Iowa legislature responded by proposing legislation that would make it illegal for animal rights activists to work for Iowa farms and videotape the abusive practices they see.

    You can see the videotapes on Time magazine’s homepage. Sorry, I can’t get a link to the specific videotape; go to Time’s homepage, scroll down, and in the left-hand column under the heading “Multimedia” look for a video titled “Hidden Camera Controversy On Iowa’s Chicken Farms.”


    Roger Rabbit Commentary: The bottom line is that the Iowa Republicans’ response to videotapes exposing animal abuse on Iowa chicken farms is to try to pass a law censoring the activists and videotapes. That’s not an agenda I’d vote for if I were a chicken. I’m not a chicken, I’m a rabbit, but I won’t vote for that agenda anyway; because, for all I know, rabbit farms may be next.

  3. 3

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    As the Time segment shows, Iowa’s big corporate farmers are responding to the videotapes of animal abuse by requiring job applicants to disclose on job application forms whether they’ve ever been affiliated with an animal welfare group. And, as I said above, Iowa Republicans want to make it a criminal offense for an applicant for a farm job to lie to the farmer about being an animal welfare activist.

  4. 4

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Of course, it goes without saying that if you don’t buy Iowa eggs or pork, your money won’t support these corporations. Nor will your money be used to make campaign contributions to Republican legislators who try to pass censorship laws.

  5. 5

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Mrs. Rabbit makes me pay 5 bucks a dozen for cage-free eggs. If I buy the cheap eggs, she won’t eat ‘em. I’m starting to really appreciate Mrs. Rabbit. She’s a better rabbit than I give her credit for.

  6. 6

    Pete spews:

    @3 What a stupid law. Just claim that it was working at the farm that made me become an animal rights activist. It’s certainly plausible.

    And speaking of animal rights…if I were a dog, I’d file for a restraining order against Frank Blethen.

  7. 7

    rhp6033 spews:

    Like virtually all publishers, the Seattle Times basis it’s ad rates upon it’s number of “paid subscriptions”. Advertising firms and their clients rely upon those numbers, which the publisher is expected to report accurately. Intentional over-reporting would be fraud.

    It seems to me that the Seattle Times is engaging in some practices which, at best, toe a fine line when counting the number of paid subscriptions. When the Times pushes me sign up for three or six months of free papers, which I can cancel at the end of that time period without any cost to me, and offers to give me some freebees on the side (umbrellas, frisbees, etc.), it’s become more than a loss-leader or a marketing gimmick. It’s not a paid subscription – it’s value is less than zero. Now, if I don’t cancel and continue to pay for the paper after the free period, THEN it becomes a paid subscription. But not until then.

    Now, I don’t know how the Seattle Times accounts for these free papers. If they are counting them as paid subscriptions, I believe that would be wrong.

    But on the other end of the “paid subscription” period, I find it interesting that our office continued to receive the Seattle Times for months after it canceled it’s subscription. Another office on the same floor of my building complained that it had been over a year, and they were still receiving the paper.

    Which leads me to believe that the Seattle Times itself considers it’s product to have de minimus value, to the point where it is irrelevant whether they deliver it to the customer or not.