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Behind the Curtain

June 30, 2004

The pant-suits come to town

You're going to be killing half your day reading all this good stuff. Some grad student will have to do a study soon on how Poliblog is affecting the local economy.

Jim Brunner reports that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton helped Sen. Patty Murray raise $400,000 at events in Seattle yesterday. This comes after President Bush raised $750,000 for Murray's opponent, Congressman George Nethercutt. Republican state chair Chris Vance says the visit proves how liberal Murray is and shows the Murray camp is getting afraid, very afraid.

Husband Bill is at Costco and later, at 8 tonight, Elliott Bay Books to sign copies of his 957 pager. Early reports from Beth Kaiman indicate huge crowds, with one man at Costco arriving at 5:30 a.m., only to be 750th in line.

The PI's Joel Connelly cashes in some chips and gets another interview with Hillary Clinton, who reveals...nothing.


Beth Kaiman reports on paid signature gatherers, people who stand outside supermarkets and ball games and try to get you to sign a petition to get an initiative on the ballot in November, like one to put slot machines in card rooms, or to create smoking areas at bars and bowling alleys. Paid volunteers is not really what progressive reformers of the early 20th century had in mind when they wanted to wrest politics and policy away from the monopolies and put it in the hands of the people. But this is what we got now.

Gubernatorial candidate Christine Gregoire won a small victory yesterday, The Times' Mike Carter reports: "A former staff lawyer who is suing Attorney General Christine Gregoire for more than a dozen claims of wrongful dismissal, defamation and discrimination was dealt a setback yesterday by a federal judge. 'I'm going to knock out some of your claims, for sure,' U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly told the lawyer for Janet Capps. Formerly an assistant attorney general in the Torts Division, Capps claims Gregoire and other supervisors wrongly blamed and vilified her for missing a deadline that cost the state a chance to fight a record $17.8 million verdict."
The judge sent the two sides back to the negotiating table.

The Times' Ralph Thomas reports on the governor's race, as all three major candidates roll out, unveil, unleash and announce policy proposals: "The race for governor - thus far mostly a behind-the-scenes fund-raising contest - is taking a turn to the issues this week as the three major candidates roll out key pieces of their agendas. Democrat Christine Gregoire yesterday unveiled her plan for improving Washington's education system and attacking what she called a "dropout crisis." Meanwhile, her main Democratic opponent, King County Executive Ron Sims, today plans to start a new Web site that will give voters an interactive look at what has become the cornerstone of his campaign: overhauling the state's tax system. And Republican Dino Rossi today is scheduled to announce his plan for boosting the state's business climate by streamlining government regulations."

Andrew Garber reports in The Times that everybody is getting ready for the initiative deadline, Friday: "At least a half-dozen initiative campaigns plan to turn in signatures by Friday's deadline to qualify measures for the November ballot. Tim Eyman went first, turning in what he said were more than 238,000 signatures Monday in hopes of qualifying Initiative 892 for the ballot. The measure, funded by the gaming industry, would make electronic slot machines more widely available and use the taxes on the new gambling profits to lower state property taxes....Organizers must collect 197,734 valid signatures. They generally turn in tens of thousands of additional signatures in case some are illegible or invalid." The story goes on to explain some of the measures:

Jim Camden of The Spokesman Review reports on the Constitution Party candidate for President, who was in Spokane last night: "Supporters of Constitution Party presidential nominee Michael Peroutka acknowledge it will take a miracle for him to win the White House. But for a party that believes in recognizing God as the source of American government, that's not necessarily a criticism. Peroutka, a Maryland lawyer nominated last week at the Constitution Party's national convention, was in Spokane on Tuesday seeking support for his bid to be added to the Washington state ballot."

Another story on issues in the gubernatorial race, this time education:
The Bremerton Sun reports people are traveling from afar to see "Fahrenheit 9/11" in Lynwood:

Distributors say the movie is selling well in the red states, meaning those that supported President Bush in 2000, and now this would seem to indicate people are willing to travel if they can't see it in their hometown. This means the movie really is selling to red state folks, or that blue state folks live amidst red state folks and are traveling to see the movie. Either way, if true, it punctures the red state-blue state stereotypes and polarization theory being peddled these days by the likes of David Brooks in The New York Times. Brooks says we're segregating ourselves (though, segregation has a long history in America) along political and cultural lines, evangelicals less and less likely to have contact with crunchy urban professionals, for example. The resulting dynamic of mutual misunderstanding has created the current political environment of vitriol. So says Brooks.

National
John Kerry is appealing to African-American voters, whose turnout he'll need, especially in Florida, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.

But he's got a big mess on his hands if Boston can't come to terms with the police union. There's a contract dispute. If they don't come to a deal, that could mean picketers at the Democratic convention next month. Throw in a mediocre VP candidate, and Kerry's month could turn sour very fast.
Also on Kerry, he lent his campaign a bunch of money last winter when it was in the death throes, and now he has to decide whether to pay himself back with campaign funds, or to eat it.

Bill Buckley, godfather of the American right, founder of its most important journal, National Review, is stepping down from the magazine. The polymath and renaissance man (harpist, sailor, novelist, political columnist, magazine editor, PBS host) is as influential as just about any American of the last half century, and listening to him speak is a true, uh, felicity, as he might say.
For some perspective, it's worth looking at some old National Review editorials, via Atrios.blogspot. These aren't to embarrass the man in his moment, only to give some perspective on where the conservative movement was as opposed to where it is now. There's a lot of liberal hand-wringing, and conservative triumphalism about the current moment, not all warranted. Warning, you will be -- or should be -- offended.
"Why the South Must Prevail," August 24, 1957
"The central question that emerges . . . is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not prevail numerically? The sobering answer is Yes - the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists."
"National Review believes that the South's premises are correct. . . . It is more important for the community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority."

"The South confronts one grave moral challenge. It must not exploit the fact of Negro backwardness to preserve the Negro as a servile class. . . . Let the South never permit itself to do this. So long as it is merely asserting the right to impose superior mores for whatever period it takes to effect a genuine cultural equality between the races, and so long as it does so by humane and charitable means, the South is in step with civilization, as is the Congress that permits it to function."
From June 2, 1964:
"But whatever the exact net result in the restricted field of school desegregation, what a price we are paying for Brown! It would be ridiculous to hold the Supreme Court solely to blame for the ludicrously named 'civil rights movement' - that is, the Negro revolt . . . . But the Court carries its share of the blame. Its decrees, beginning with Brown, have on the one hand encouraged the least responsible of the Negro leaders in the course of extra-legal and illegal struggle that we now witness around us. . . .
"Brown, as National Review declared many years ago, was bad law and bad sociology. We are now tasting its bitter fruits. Race relations in the country are ten times worse than in 1954."

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 01:05 PM


June 29, 2004

The Sheriff gets the snub

Good morning everybody. It's sunny and 80 degrees, the views of Rainier perfect, and Poliblog's in a windowless room.

Warren Cornwall reports that two Washington police unions (including the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs) endorsed state Sen. Luke Esser, R-Bellevue, in the race to fill the 8th Congressional District, over King County Sheriff Dave Reichert. Reichert has received a few of his own police union endorsements. Still, odd the state's sheriffs think one of their own isn't the guy for the job. The reason, says the union's Mike Amos, is lack of legislative experience: "Dave's a nice guy. We want somebody who's going to hit the ground running." A nice guy?
The unanswered question: Does Luke Esser use hair gel, or hair wax, and what's the difference anyway?

PETER CALLAGHAN of The News Tribune , reports that Secretary of State Sam Reed will hold a lottery tomorrow to decide the color that will be associated with each party on ballots distributed to voters in September for the primary, the first in which voters will be restricted to candidates from one party only. You can't vote for an R in one race and a D in another. The idea with the colors is to help voters as they try to figure out the new type of primary ballot. Essentially, voters choose a color and can only vote for candidates of that color -- blue, green, red -- each one assigned to a party. That really clears things up.

The News Tribune also has a Washington Post story about the season of the documentary: "First came "Control Room," Jehane Noujaim's gripping film about the Arab satellite news service al-Jazeera. Last week Michael Moore's much anticipated "Fahrenheit 9/11" opened, as well as the lesser-known but just as incendiary "The Hunting of the President," about the investigations of President Clinton. Over the summer, wonks, activists and garden-variety political junkies will have lots to look forward to. Maybe it's just the time of year. But suddenly it seems that film, video and digital media have become the 21st-century version of the pamphlets, broadsides and theses that were used to rouse rabble from the time of Martin Luther through Thomas Paine to Karl Marx."

AP reports from PORTLAND - Supporters of a gay marriage ban pressured people into signing petitions and failed to witness voters' signatures, according to complaints filed Monday by a Portland-based gay rights group. Basic Rights Oregon says it has been monitoring the petition drive by the Defense of Marriage Coalition for weeks, watching for violations of election law. But a spokesman for the Portland-based Coalition said volunteers have been careful to follow the rules, calling the complaints "insulting and inflammatory."
Expect this to get nasty.....

Rep. George Nethercutt's campaign announced First Lady Laura Bush will host a fundraiser for the Senate candidate in D.C. on July 12. Will there be a reading of the Grand Inquisitor section of Brothers Karamazov, said to be her favorite piece of literature? Poliblog volunteers to read.

National
Good news and bad news for the president. From The New York Times: "A New York Times/CBS poll has his approval rating at an all time low, 42 percent, while nearly 40 percent of Americans say they do not have an opinion about Senator John Kerry, the likely Democratic presidential nominee."
The good news for President Bush is that among those who do have an opinion, Mr. Kerry is disliked more than he is liked. That means the very expensive Bush advertisements that painted Kerry a flip flopper, a taxer and weak on defense, worked, to some extent, for the 60 percent of Americans who have an opinion on Kerry, though most of those would have disliked him anyway. The good news for Kerry, aside from Bush's lowest-ever approval rating, is that 40 percent of voters still have no opinion on Kerry, even as he is in a dead heat with Bush. That means we're entering a crucial part of the campaign: Voters seem willing to fire Bush, but haven't decided whether his potential replacement is worthy. Kerry will get his chance in July, as he picks a running mate and makes his convention speech. Bush's approval rating on the economy is up, which is very good news for him. If Iraq stabilizes, and the economy continues to improve, he's looking good. Although, what really matters is the electoral college count. Remember, Bush must win everywhere he won in 2000. There's no margin for error.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 03:20 PM


Nader Haters

Warren Cornwall begins his profiles of the seven candidates in the race to replace retiring Rep. Jennifer Dunn in the 8th Congressional district. Today it's Alex Alben, a former Hollywood lawyer turned Internet prophet, or so says Alben. In early 1999, Cornwall reports, he wrote a memo as VP of RealNetworks that said people would download music for a fee, play them on small portable devices, illegally copy music, and the music industry better adapt. Alben believes he fits the mold of a Democrat who can win in the suburbs: socially liberal, eco-friendly, but also business friendly. (Gore won the 8th in 2000.)

Some hack named Coolican writes up Ralph Nader's visit, reporting that Nader and his old friends on the left are in full scale attack-counterattack mode. Only about 200 showed up for Nader, a small crowd for Seattle, though nationally Nader is running at 6 percent, well ahead of where he was in 2000. Nader started 45 minutes late, which wasn't in the story.

AP: "Anti-tax activist Tim Eyman said he will head to the Secretary of State's office this morning, with about 235,000 signatures for his Initiative 892. The measure, sure to be one of the hardest-fought campaigns this fall, would expand gambling and use the tax revenue to lower property taxes. It takes about 198,000 valid voter signatures to get an initiative on the ballot. Initiative sponsors usually try to get at least 260,000 to be safe, in case there are illegible names or signatures from people who aren't registered voters."

National
The New York Times' David Kirkpatrick, who covers movement conservatives for the gray lady, profiles Timothy Goeglein, the White House's official liaison to the right.

This White House is more attuned to the conservative base, with Geoglein's help, than any in history, Kirkpatrick reports. It remains to be seen whether the obsession with the base will lead to another one-term Bush presidency, which would be highly ironic, since inattention to the base is cited as a prime culprit for Bush 41's 1992 loss.

Also in The New York Times, Adam Nagourney reports that the Republican convention will feature the sunniest, most moderate voices the Republicans offer: Rudy, John McCain, and Ahhhhnold The Governor. Another weird switch from 1992, when the culture warriors dominated the Republican convention, despite Bush 41's moderation. Live and learn, apparently.

And finally, "Fahrenheit 9/11," Michael Moore's indictment of the Bush administration, burned up box office records, becoming the highest grossing non-Imax documentary in history, and earning the most ever for a movie on less than 1,000 screens. More surprising, however, is that it's selling well everywhere.
Tom Ortenberg, president of Lions Gate, joined Moore on a conference call with reporters. "The film played brilliantly this weekend in the 'red states' and the 'blue states,' and the big towns and the small towns," he said. "We played in Peoria. We literally sold out Peoria, Illinois."
Peoria.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 03:13 PM


Chicago is....my kind of town....

Good morning: Considering Mariners players get paid the same if they lose in 9 innings or, say, 18, they may as well go easier on themselves and finish the job quicker.
A busy news day, with coordinated attacks in Iraq, some big Supreme Court rulings, President Bush getting questioned for an hour about the leak of the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame, and allegations that Barry Bonds used steroids. But we don't care about any of that; we care about politics.

The Times Mike Lindblom reports the Seattle Monorail will be shut down for the summer to guarantee safe operations after the Memorial Day Fire -- more nasty publicity for the beleaguered train, or whatever it is. The expansion of the Monorail faces a well-financed recall effort, whose backers, including some big downtown developers, must love the bad publicity even for the existing Monorail...Monorail...Monorail (shopworn "Simpsons" reference.)

The Times Janet Tu reports that "a new local coalition of African-American churches and other faith-based and secular groups is launching a campaign to register and mobilize voters," particularly people of color and people in lower tax brackets. Rev. Leslie Braxton of Mt. Zion Baptist Church calls it part of his "religious duty." Janet points out that churches will be important arenas for both parties to grab votes, with Republicans turning to evangelicals and Democrats to their allies in the African American community. Some tough words from Rev. Braxton on the 2000 election: "If people of color wouldn've turned out, we could've provided a more robust margin of victory so it wasn't close enough to steal." Whoa there. What if they turned out and voted Republican?

The Clintons are in town next week. This from the AP: After a Tuesday fund-raising luncheon for Sen. Patty Murray at noon at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, Sen. Clinton and Murray plan to appear together at port security event in the city, Murray's office and campaign spokesman Alex Glass said; the former president is expected to arrive at Costco in Issaquah at 1 p.m. Wednesday. A second book signing is scheduled for 8 p.m. at Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle.

Is it just us, or is Knute Berger of Seattle Weekly really deviating from the standard liberal orthodoxy lately?
Here's this week's good line:
"More voting doesn’t necessarily mean better government. And youth voting certainly doesn’t. Richard Nixon lowered the voting age to 18 and guess what? Young people voted for Richard Freaking Nixon. Every time I hear some bozo talk about the importance of the youth vote, I remember that fact."

Lately, Berger has called for an end to the effort to expand the monorail and applauded (some) conservatives on globalization, education and cutting back corporate welfare. How bout a cheer for intellectual honesty?

National
The Vice President apparently told Vermont Sen. Leahy that he do the anatomically impossible. The story goes like this apparently. They're on the Senate floor for the official photo (quick: count the combovers, count the rugs.) Cheney presides over the Senate, so he's there, too. He tells Leahy to shut it about all the Halliburton criticism. (Leahy has been critical of the no-bid Halliburton contracts. Cheney used to be its CEO before heading up Bush VP search committee and choosing...himself.) Leahy says he doesn't appreciate some previous, undisclosed criticism leveled by the VP. Cheney says....and that's all we can say here. The best line: "Kevin Kellems, a spokesman for the vice president, said, "That doesn't sound like the kind of language that the vice president would use, but I can confirm that there was a frank exchange of views."
Frank exchange of views.

From The Washington Post:
"(Expletive) yourself," said the man who is a heartbeat from the presidency." Though The Post had the decency to use the actual word.
Then this: "As it happens, the exchange occurred on the same day the Senate passed legislation described as the "Defense of Decency Act" by 99 to 1."


How much fun to be in Chicago right now? The Cubs are on a roll, it's summertime and the city's seeing its best political soap opera in years, maybe best ever:
Jack Ryan, former investment banker and Republican candidate for Senate, has been accused, The Chicago Sun Times reports "of insisting (his ex-wife) go to 'explicit sex clubs' in New York, New Orleans and Paris during their marriage -- including 'a bizarre club with cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling.' Jack Ryan wanted her to have sex with him while others watched, Jeri Ryan, the star of “Boston Public” alleged.
Now, The Chicago Tribune is reporting, Republicans are scrambling to dump Ryan, and people in Ryan's own camp are trying to figure out how to get out:
"Officials in the Jack Ryan campaign have spoken to some members of the congressional delegation, asking for advice about a possible strategy for ending his candidacy in the U.S. Senate race, sources said today.
But as recently as this morning, a Ryan spokeswoman was denying rumors the candidate was reassessing whether to continue his campaign.
"We are not reassessing. Jack Ryan is in the race to stay. Jack Ryan will be in the race on Nov. 2,'' Kelli Phiel told the Associated Press.
The conversations between Ryan's campaign and Republicans in Washington came after the candidate dropped a scheduled trip to the nation's capital to participate in a fundraising event with Sen. George Allen (R-Virginia), head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
The cancellation of that fundraiser fueled speculation in the GOP that Ryan had lost crucial support from the national Republican group.
Republican sources told The Tribune said they expected the White House to weigh in on the viability of Ryan's candidacy.

The Ryan campaign this morning acknowledged it had cancelled the trip to Washington, but that it was due to "other" reasons, unrelated to the fate of candidacy.

Yes, other reasons, poliblog is sure of that.


Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 03:09 PM


Moore Moore Moore of Clinton Clinton Clinton

Despite a loss, the Yankees remain five games up on the Red Sox, so it is a good morning. Like me now?
It's Moore Moore Moore of Clinton Clinton Clinton today, so if you're a Republican, you'll just have to grimace and go along, but I promise we'll have some fun.

The Times Matt Rodriguez reports on Page One that Democrats and liberal interest groups are using Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," a scathing critique of President Bush, to raise money, organize and be happy. The ACLU and, separately, Deborah Senn (candidate for attorney general), are using screenings as fundraisers. Congressman Jay Inslee is hosting a screening, and the 32nd District Democrats have bought a block of tickets.
Unanswered questions: Are people's political convictions (or prejudices) hardening, becoming cultural? Are we now only seeking out information that will confirm, rather than challenge, what we already know? Are we becoming two nations? Bill O'Reillys vs. Michael Moores? What an unpleasant thought.

The film premiered in Washington, D.C., where The New York Times reports that 800 leading limosine liberals turned out. Among the sightings: "The guest list, liberally sprinkled with members of Congress, political consultants and lobbyists, tipped decidedly to one side of the aisle. It included Richard Ben-Veniste, a member of the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks; Paul Begala, a political adviser in the Clinton White House; Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, a former Clinton aide; Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, the minority leader; and Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic national chairman."
Was it a men-only affair?


Also in The Times, Melinda Bargreen reviews Clinton's "My Life," called elsewhere "My (Longwinded) Life": "The book is charming, chaotic, well-reasoned, self-indulgent and exceedingly long-winded."

The reviews haven't been great, with Michiko Kakutani slamming it on Page One of Sunday's New York Times ("endless litanies of meals eaten, speeches delivered, voters greeted and turkeys pardoned"); Larry McMurtry's been the lonesome dove (I just had to), also in the New York Times: "richest American presidential autobiography."
Big Bill is here next week, at the Issaquah Costco at 1 Wednesday, and later at Elliott Bay at 8. Hillary will be here the day before, Tuesday, to campaign with Patty Murray and raise money for her. You can buy lunch tickets for just $250. Will there be a bar, and will it be open? Will there be a surprise joint appearance with Bill? Or does he trail her everywhere by a day? We'll have lots of coverage, so stay tuned.

The Republican National Committee has released a new Web game called "Kerry-oke":
Sing along to Barbara Streisand's "The Way We Were." (Streisand hosts a fundraiser for Kerry tonight.)
Some of the lyrics:
Flip-Flops,
Said along the campaign trail,
Different stands John Kerry's spoken of,
They're the flips he flopped.

(Pretty funny stuff from those crazy guys over at the RNC. Now, steel tariffs anyone?)

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 03:03 PM


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