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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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January 31, 2008 5:53 PM

Arguing for gun rights in Grays Harbor County

Posted by David Postman

ABERDEEN -- Charles Laier has lived here since he was born 65 years ago. He knows the political players and relishes his run-ins with some of the state’s great powers -- like the day in 1968 when he gave Sen. Warren Magnuson an uncensored piece of his mind to go along with the cocktail the senator was downing at the Morck Hotel.

But there’s one thing he just doesn’t understand. It makes no sense to Laier, with family roots in Grays Harbor County that go back about 100 years, why people here are so committed to voting for Democrats.

“You could put Mickey Mouse on the ballot and as long as he had a D after his name they’d vote for him. It’s crazy. But that’s just the way things are here.”

Chuck Laier in his trophy room.

Continue reading this post ...

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January 31, 2008 4:22 PM

John Kerry says Obama best to beat McCain

Posted by David Postman

Sen. John Kerry, the Democrat’s 2004 presidential nominee, will land in Seattle tonight on a West Coast swing to boost the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama. He will appear tomorrow with Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels at 9:30 a.m. at a town hall meeting at the UW student union Town Hall and at 3:50 p.m. at the Tacoma City Association of Colored Women Club at 2316 S. Yakima.

Kerry is one of one of Obama’s recent high-profile endorsements and he has campaigned for his Senate colleague in Nevada and South Carolina. Kerry told me in a telephone conversation this afternoon that he will tell undecided Democratic voters that Obama is better positioned than Hillary Clinton to beat Republican John McCain, who he assumes will be the GOP nominee.

“I think Barack Obama has the best opportunity to unite the country and to win in November and be the clear contrast against John McCain that we need; on issues, generationally, on reform, on outside Washington, on a whole bunch of things.”

Kerry said that Democratic senators and governors in predominately Republican states who have endorsed Obama believe the candidate will help Democrats in down-ticket races in those red states.

“He has the ability to unite the entire country.”

(When our cell phone conversation abruptly disconnected Kerry called back and joked that Obama would also improve cell phone coverage in America.)

I would also expect to hear Kerry remind Democratic voters about Clinton’s and Obama’s record on the Iraq war.

“I think it’s a very important issue to Democrats and I think it’s a legitimate difference.”

Kerry says that McCain, with his reputation as a maverick in the party, will most certainly run as someone who will change the system in Washington, D.C. Democrats, he believes, need to be able to offer more than McCain.

“You really have to look at who has the ability to build a movement across the country that changes our politics. People are tired of bickering and excessive partisanship and polarization.”

He says Obama has “a new slate of credibility to begin rebuilding” Americans’ trust in their government.

“It’s a very legitimate issue to Americans and that’s why you need that contrast. I think that’s going to be very important to this election.”

I asked Kerry if he’d suggest Obama do any fine-tuning now that there are just two candidates in the race. He said anyone who has been doing as well as Obama doesn’t need his advice. But he did say that Obama’s challenge in the final stretch is to “close the deal” on convincing voters he has the experience to be president.

After his Puget Sound visit, Kerry flies to California, a Super Tuesday state, for appearances in San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento.

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January 30, 2008 7:43 PM

What was the Romney campaign doing for 37 minutes?

Posted by David Postman

Tonight's Republican presidential debate began at 5 p.m. in California. Following are headlines from e-mails sent during the debate by Mitt Romney's campaign:

5:37 -- ROMNEY RECORD: A Stronger State Economy

5:39 -- RESEARCH BRIEFING: Sen. McCain: The New York Times Candidate

5:41 -- ROMNEY RECORD: Job Growth Under Governor Romney

5:44 -- STRAIGHT TALK DETOUR: Sen. John McCain On The Bush Tax Cuts

5:50 -- MCAINONOMICS: Sen. McCain: Pay At The Pump

5:57 -- ROMNEY RECORD: Governor Romney's Economic Stimulus Plan

6:03 -- STRAIGHT TALK DETOUR: "Class-Warfare Demagoguery Used By Democrats"

6:22 -- STRAIGHT TALK DETOUR: Sen. John McCain On His "Conservative Record"

6:25 -- ROMNEY RECORD: What They're Saying About Sen. John McCain's False Attack On Gov. Mitt Romney

6:33 -- MCCAINONOMICS: Sen. McCain On His 2000 Tax Hike Plan

6:36 -- STRAIGHT TALK DETOUR: Sen. John McCain On McCain-Kennedy

6:37 -- STRAIGHT TALK DETOUR: Sen. McCain On Benchmarks

6:59 -- PRESS RELEASE: Governor Mitt Romney Addresses His Vision To Strengthen America

7:33 -- WHAT THEY'RE REALLY SAYING: About Governor Mitt Romney At The Second Reagan Library Debate

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January 30, 2008 11:52 AM

Reps. Smith, Baird among few opposing tax rebate

Posted by David Postman

Washington congressmen Brian Baird and Adam Smith were among just 10 Democrats to vote against the “economic stimulus” bill in the House Tuesday. The final roll call was 385-35, with 25 Republicans and 10 Democrats voting no.

Smith of Tacoma and Baird of Vancouver were the only members of Washington’s delegation to oppose the package. They were joined by some of the House’s most conservative Republicans, including former presidential candidate Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.

Both congressmen said the package was a quick fix, not the best way to help the American economy and could make things worse. Baird in particular had criticism of Democratic leaders in how the much-publicized plan was constructed and rushed through the House.

Baird said in a statement:

“Unfortunately, the leadership in the House of Representatives insisted on a simple up or down vote on their package with no real alternatives considered and no opportunities for amendments. I opposed this kind of procedure when our party was in the minority, and I believe it is just as mistaken now. Precisely because our economic situation is so important, we need real debate and real solutions, not temporary “feel good” fixes that will leave our children in greater debt and do little or nothing to solve the true causes and underlying problems that created this situation.

Baird said he supports some pieces of the legislation “and I strongly support the provisions that would help businesses expand and create new jobs.”

“We find ourselves in this situation because we spent more money than we had and now we are looking at a short-term fix that does much of the same. The so-called stimulus rebates will be borrowed from the Chinese, paid back with interest by our children and grandchildren, and produce no lasting goods for our communities. We clearly don’t have one hundred and fifty billion dollars growing on trees and we shouldn’t throw away this opportunity to invest in our country’s lagging infrastructure, renewable energy, and conservation efforts."

Smith didn’t have specific criticism for his party’s leaders. But in a statement he condemned the thinking behind the bill:

"Time and again, we’ve used a philosophy similar to the one pushing this stimulus package -- spending money now will help us now, so let’s do it and not worry about the future."

He said the quickest and best ways to boost the economy would be to extend unemployment benefits and increase temporary food stamps.

“While it is easy to understand the appeal of Congress and the President passing out over $150 Billion to the American people, our economy needs more than another short-term, quick fix approach that could come at the expense of more important long-term, structural, public policy changes. “

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January 30, 2008 9:28 AM

Sen. Murray endorses Clinton

Posted by David Postman

The Hillary Clinton campaign just announced that Sen. Patty Murray is endorsing the New York senator in her close campaign against Sen. Barack Obama. A statement from Murray says:

Hillary and I both came to Washington together in 1993, and since that time she hasn't stopped working on the priorities that matter most to America's families,” Murray said.

“Together we have partnered to pass strong port security legislation, stand up to an Administration that put ideology above science, and provide the care that our nation's veterans have earned. She understands the challenges that face us here in Washington state from security at our Northern Border to cleaning up Hanford. Hillary is ready to lead this nation from her first day in office and deliver the change we need.”

Murray is the state's senior senator. Sen. Maria Cantwell earlier endorsed Clinton. The last high-level elected official still uncommitted is Gov. Chris Gregoire. She will make an endorsement before Washington's Feb. 9 caucus.

UPDATE: I just talked with Murray. She said of today’s endorsement:

“To me this really was about personal loyalty and admiration.”

Murray and Clinton showed up in Washington, D.C., in 1993. Murray worked closely with the then First Lady on the ill-fated attempt to reshape the country’s health care system. And it was a moment from that effort that Murray said “kept playing back to me” as she thought about the presidential campaign.

Clinton was in Seattle in 1994 to speak to a Westlake health care rally. Local conservative talk show hosts promoted a large opposition rally.

“People were screaming at her and yelling and there rude signs and it was just awful. They took us up to the top floor of the Westin and you could hear it. The Secret Service came in and said they didn’t want her to go out there and they had confiscated some weapons. She said, ‘I’m here to speak to people about who came here to talk about health care and I’m going to do it.’”

Murray said that showed her Clinton’s “steeliness,” something she says is important for a president.

She also had good things to say about Sen. Barack Obama. She said she has respect for the inspiration he’s brought to people on the campaign trail and said the Democratic Party needs to “heed that” no matter which candidate is nominated.

Murray’s endorsement doesn’t mean she will be out here to work for Clinton in the Feb. 9 caucus. She said as a member of Senate leadership her job is to help keep the Senate running and that Clinton understands that.

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January 30, 2008 8:39 AM

Times journalists discouraged from any role in caucus or primary

Posted by David Postman

About 40 Seattle Times editors and newsroom staffers met yesterday to discuss whether journalists should participate in Washington’s presidential nominating process. Management says people involved in political news should not participate at all and others are strongly discouraged from doing so and told to inform their supervisor if they plan to take part in either the Feb. 9 caucus or Feb. 19 primary.

Executive Editor David Boardman has posted a note about the subject on the Times internal Web site. Management's position relies on the Times Code of Ethics section on political activity, which begins with this:

Our profession demands impartiality as well as the appearance of impartiality. Public political activity puts that at risk, and is discouraged.

It also says:

Staff members should avoid active involvement in any partisan causes that compromise the reader’s trust in the newspaper’s ability to report and edit fairly. Public political activities that may raise concerns include contributing money, signing petitions, wearing political buttons, displaying bumper stickers, publicly espousing a cause, or participating in demonstrations.

The problem Boardman sees with the caucus and primary is that a journalist's involvement would necessarily make their political views known. Caucus lists aren’t public, but the party will know who signed in and obviously everybody in attendance will know which candidate a caucus participant backs.

The primary voters list is a public record and without an unaffiliated ballot to choose from, voters have to choose a Democratic or Republican ballot and sign an “oath of fidelity” to the party. Boardman wrote "someone could look up whether a particular voter participated in the Democratic or the Republican primary."

Count on The Stranger, the Weekly and the political blogs to do just that.

In this age of sharply partisan talk shows and blogs, our credibility and impartiality are more precious than ever. They are the capital we have to carry us into the future, the qualities that most separate us from all of the other places readers and Web users can go for news and information. Anything any of us does to erode those qualities comes at great cost.

Boardman says he knows that this deals with “that most fundamental of citizen rights.”

But the tradeoff is the privilege of being a journalist who reports on and interprets our community, our country and the world for our fellow citizens. That is a power and a responsibility beyond the caucus room or even the voting booth, and one we must all treat with the greatest respect.

I vote in all elections except for the presidential primary. I have not wanted to put my name on a list that identifies any party preference. And I would never participate in a caucus given that that is a party operation and not a public vote.

But I’m a political reporter and cover the parties and the candidates. Should the same rules apply to everyone in the newsroom? The Times is making a distinction. People involved in political coverage are prohibited from participating, others are told, “we would rather you didn’t participate.” Boardman wrote:

These days, politics permeates all sections of the newspaper.

This issue could get more complicated for journalists. In Washington the political parties want to get lists of party preference of voters in the state primary. So far that hasn’t happened. But it could. At that point the Times policy would have broader implications.

The Times is not alone in wrestling with this issue. Denver Post editor Greg Moore recently sent a memo to his employees about Colorado’s Super Tuesday caucuses.

While attending a caucus could raise questions about your impartiality as a journalist, I realize it is a right to participate in our democratic process.

So, with certain exceptions, we will not prohibit folks from attending the caucuses.

Honestly, I would prefer you didn't.

He also specifies those employees who would be prohibited from participating.

Barred from even participating in caucuses are all city, suburban, state and national political reporters and editors; those covering political races; the metro, business and TV columnists; anyone who leads a department or oversees a section; the team leaders and writers for the anchor team; all members of the breaking news team and online operations and all editors at the ME level and above.

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January 30, 2008 7:47 AM

Ron Paul here this week

Posted by David Postman

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul will be in Seattle Thursday to open a Washington state headquarters. While Barack Obama supporters have opened a grassroots office in Seattle, this would be the first official campaign HQ in the state.

Paul will deliver an economic speech to an invitation-only group of business people. His campaign schedule says he will also have “soup with students” at the UW HUB. That’s at 2 p.m. and is open to the public.

The opening of the office at 4341 ½ University Way NE is at 1:15 p.m. and also is open to the public.

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January 29, 2008 2:25 PM

Back on the westside

Posted by David Postman

I’m back from the first leg of a campaign-year tour of the state. I drove 925 miles. I went through at least parts of 12 counties, most on the east side of the Cascades. It’s a small portion of the state and by no means will it be the end of my wanderings.

I am planning at least a four-day trip later this week to Grays Harbor County, the lower coast and hopefully through Clark County. If you have suggestions for people to see or places to go in the area please let me know. I’m particularly interested in anybody meeting to organize for the Feb. 9 caucuses. I've already gotten some nice invitations to other parts of the state, including the northeast, and hope to make those trips before too long.

There was nothing scientific about what I did and I don’t pretend to be any kind of expert on what voters on the east side are thinking. But it’s good to be reminded of the disconnect that many there feel from the concentrated power of the west, particularly Seattle. That’s almost universal. People in Eastern Washington -- as would be the case with people any where -- do not want to be seen as election-year props for campaigns or for some handy, country-bumpkin quote for a city-dwelling reporter on a hunt for a cool dateline. I was sincere about wanting to know what people thought and nearly everyone I approached was candid and polite in response.

Some of the commenters here were a bit less polite about the east/west divide, though certainly nothing too offensive. I just bring it up because it’s another reminder to me of why it’s important to talk to people face-to-face and spend the time to hear all of a story and ask questions.

I’m not sure what you’d call the city version of a country bumpkin, but whatever it is, that’s what I didn’t want to come off as. I had to cop to not knowing much about commercial agriculture and came back to find a friendly suggestion that I drop the use of “Hispanic” for the more accepted and more encompassing term, “Latino.” And I see there is a comment that the big ugly birds I saw eating something on bridge deck could not have been buzzards. I don’t know what they were, but they sure were ugly.

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January 27, 2008 3:57 PM

Growing disillusionment in Washington's wheat fields

Posted by David Postman

IN GARFIELD COUNTY - Mary Dye told me it’d be easy to find the farmhouse where her family lives. Go through Pomeroy, population 1,520, through Pataha, population one Gypsy Java stand; turn right after the dinosaur sculpture made from old sickle blades, and start climbing miles up into the Blue Mountains. And don’t forget to turn at the shrub at the top and look for the big, red barn.

This spot in the southeast corner of the state is the smallest county in Washington. There are about 2,400 people here, though that number has been on the decline. Driving in from Tri-Cities, I was struck by the scenery and the odd weather pattern that dusted the hills with snow on one side of the road but left those on the other side bare and brown. I had to slow on a bridge when a group of buzzards were reluctant to leave their animal carcass feast behind.


On the back road to Garfield County.

I drove two and a half hours yesterday to see Mary and Roger Dye because their names popped up in my research. In 2000 they attended a Save the Dams Rally in Tri-Cities that was promoted in part by the Republican Party to boost Republican turnout and George W. Bush. (In Garfield County Bush beat Democrat Al Gore by a 3-1 margin.) I wanted to see how engaged Republican voters were feeling about the GOP slate of presidential candidates. So I telephoned, and Mary Dye invited me out.

Forget what you imagine about rolling wheat fields. This farm country has a top-of-the-world look to it. This is mountain, or at least high-hill, farming where special steep-slope combines are needed to harvest the crop.

Continue reading this post ...

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January 27, 2008 10:30 AM

Looking for change, but only a little, in '08

Posted by David Postman

DAYTON, Columbia County -- I hadn’t planned on stopping in this picturesque, historic town. I was on my way to the Blue Mountains. Here in the foothills I had finally gotten ahead of a light but steady ice storm that put a rough coating on the windshield and headlights and turned the wipers into big popsicles that did little more than make a lot of noise.

But outside the Country Cupboard bakery I saw what has been a rare sight on this trip: A campaign bumper sticker. It was four years old and it was on the rear bumper of a mini-van. It said “W ’04.” That was enough for me to circle around just as Sue Bell got in the car and got ready to drive off. She rolled down the window and I told her who I was and why I was running across a snowy and icy street, waving my hands at her.

Bell, 67, is a proud two-time voter for George W. Bush. She’s a retired Dayton School District business manager and still lives in town, where she was born and raised.

“We’re pretty conservative here. I call myself an independent. But when Clinton was in I was back to being a Republican.”

Columbia is one of the most Republican counties in the state. In 2004, 70 percent of voters here backed Bush over Democrat John Kerry.

Bell doesn’t think Bush has been the perfect president. She knows what the theme of the ’08 campaign has become, and thinks it needs to be tempered to win voters like her.

“I’d like a change, but to improve what we have. I don’t see throwing out policies that are working. What can we recover?”

In the Republican field this year, Bell says she’s looking most at former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. He seems to most embody the classic Republicanism she adheres to.

Bell thinks that even after two terms of a Republican president too many Americans depend too much on government.

“We have replaced a lot of independent people with dependent people. How do we get that back?”

This came clear to Bell while watching news reports about Katrina. The government response, particularly in New Orleans, has been cited by even some Republicans as a major failing of the Bush administration. Bell saw it differently.

“I saw people there saying ‘When is someone coming to help us’ and I wanted to say, ‘Honey,’” -- and here she claps her hands in a few, short, kindergarten-teacher-like, attention-getting bursts -- “they’re not coming. You have to help yourself.”

I don’t think to ask about government subsidies for farmers in the area before Bell brings it up herself. She says she knows they get federal assistance. But, she says, “They are producers. We do need to help them.”

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January 26, 2008 10:35 AM

The fever spreads

Posted by David Postman

WAPATO - In the Cad*Lac Copy Center Bertha Garza gets a look on her face that is becoming familiar to me as I talk to voters about the presidential campaign: Another case of beatific Barackism.

Yes, the pull of Barack Obama has spread even to this small, tough-looking, town in the midst of the Yakama Nation Reservation. (So has a winery where you can sample local Pinot Grigo, so things are changing here.)

I walked in to the copy center because it was the business on Wapato Avenue that had the most life Friday afternoon. It’s much more than a small town Kinkos. In the back are 35 computers bought with a Gates Foundation Grant that anyone can walk in to use. It’s also the home for some local, non-profit youth and job training programs.

Garza, the manager, and her staff are routinely called on to help locals translate government documents and figure out the intricacies of immigration law.

Garza outside the copy shop.

Continue reading this post ...

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January 26, 2008 9:04 AM

¿Dónde est á la campaña?

Posted by David Postman

GRANGER -- Since at least 1994 America’s political parties have made much about reaching out to Hispanic voters. Spanish-language radio commercials have become a staple of statewide campaigns. Yakima has seen Democrats bring Hispanic members of Congress and former cabinet members like Henry Cisneros to help get out the vote. In 2000 Republicans brought George W. Bush’s heartthrob, Spanish-speaking, nephew, all the way here to Granger, in the lower Yakima Valley.

But this year the competitive presidential campaign has yet to be translated into Spanish to reach the growing number of Hispanics in Eastern Washington.

Spanish-language public radio station KDNA in Granger offered two minutes of air time to any candidate. But station manager Gabriel Martinez said there were few takers.

“We didn’t get as much as we did in the past. For some reason there is not an aggressive get-out-the-vote campaign in the area. You’d think with the presidential campaign someone would be doing something.

“I’m still waiting to hear from them.”

I drove from Yakima to Granger on the back roads and saw just one literal sign of a campaign.

The only campaign sign spotted on a long drive down the Yakima Valley Highway.

Continue reading this post ...

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January 25, 2008 11:21 AM

A true independent finds her candidate

Posted by David Postman

YAKIMA -- When Jane Shelton told me that she felt sick after the 2004 presidential election I wasn’t sure what she meant. At that point all I knew about Shelton was that she was backing Republican Mike Huckabee in this year’s presidential campaign and she wore a big, red, white and blue button advertising that fact.

So what would be so disturbing about seeing George W. Bush re-elected to a woman who today volunteers her time for Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas and former Baptist preacher who in many ways is this year’s model of Bush’s compassionate conservatism?

It turns out Shelton has had an interesting and unusual political evolution that embodies a trend just being noticed in the 2008 campaign. It’s people like her who could help keep campaigns alive for Huckabee, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama.

She is a true independent. A Christian and opponent of abortion who says those things don’t determine her vote or her party identification.

In 2004 she voted for Democrat John Kerry.

Continue reading this post ...

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January 24, 2008 1:59 PM

One who will leave his ballot blank

Posted by David Postman

ELLENSBURG -- Someone in downtown mentioned that I should go see Kori Winegar. He’s the latest generation of a family that started a dairy farm here in 1949.

The family name is now only on signs outside two coffee and ice cream shops the family owns in Ellensburg.

I met Winegar at one of the shops. He took a break from trying to balance a problem he saw on a cash register receipt to talk about the presidential campaign. He looks the part of someone raised on a dairy farm. He’s a big guy with meaty hands and I bet he could wrestle a cow if need be.

I ask my question of the day: “Are people here excited about the campaign?”

“You want an honest answer?,” Winegar asks. Of course, I assure him.

“I would say no because your side of the mountains decides it; your liberal side will decide it and you’ll always go liberal. … It’s a pretty easy concept to figure out why we don’t care. I’m not a math major but I know what it is. We don’t have the numbers to matter.”

He said he hasn’t even paid enough attention to pick a favorite in the field. He said he jokes to friends that he won’t vote for any candidate in November “because then I can complain about whoever’s in office.” It’s not a joke, though.

“I’ll leave it blank. I feel horrible about it. I don’t want to give up my rights. If a vote mattered I’d vote.”

Winegar wishes that Oregon and Washington could be split up to make an rural, agricultural eastern state and an urban and suburban western state.

Ellensburg’s unhappiness with statewide elections goes way back. According to, on Nov. 4, 1890, boosters lost a vote that would have made the city capital of the new state of Washington.

HistoryLink quotes the editor of The Kittitas Standard from a 1904 book who:

"argued vehemently the city's claim to this honor, basing it chiefly on the healthy, central location of Ellensburg in the 'most strikingly beautiful, unsurpassedly healthy, admirably watered and immeasurably fertile, compact body of agricultural land of any extent on the North Pacific slope' "

I didn’t know this was a potential capital site until Winegar brought it up. He said politics of Central Washington would have been far different -- and he thinks far better -- if the capital were here instead of Olympia.

“There people from Olympia who know everything come here and tell us how it’s going to be. No one knows what it’s like to run a farm. … They never see what’s going on back here. They make a policy that works in Olympia and makes sense in Olympia and once it comes across Snoqualmie it makes no sense over here. ”

He still can’t believe the time a state official came over here years back to talk to his father about new dairy waste regulations and the guy didn’t know what flood irrigation was. (I didn’t know, either, but Winegar was OK with that.)

As some sort of civic bona fide for Ellensburg’s standing, he tells me there was a “castle” built in town that was going to be the governor’s residence. He says it still stands and tells me how to find it.

The brick building with its definite castle-like tower is at Third and Chestnut. It’s up on a small hill that was referred to as Capital Hill during Ellensburg’s campaign to be the seat of government. HistoryLink says an over-confident developer told people it would be occupied by the governor.

Today it is an apartment building, just like for the past 70 years.

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January 24, 2008 11:23 AM

Across the mountains, a question of the value of a vote

Posted by David Postman

ELLENSBURG - I’m here to do person-on-the-street interviews to see what people are saying about the presidential campaign. But it’s too cold to find anyone on the street willing to stop and talk much. People move deliberately when the temperature hovers a few degrees either side of zero.

(It’s not just this soft westsider who thinks its cold. It’s too cold for recess. The elementary school is keeping kids in the classroom for the second day in a row.)

People move a little less deliberately in the Frontier Tavern, a half block off Main Street. The doors were open early and there were two customers at the bar but they didn’t want to talk. And neither did the bartender, who said he didn’t want to talk politics and get his blood pressure up so early in the morning.

Thank God for barbershops and diners.

Continue reading this post ...

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January 23, 2008 2:10 PM

Help me plan my road trip

Posted by David Postman

I’m hitting the road today to see what Washington state residents are saying about the presidential campaign. Spending my time in the Olympia/Seattle axis doesn’t expose me to the widest range of political opinions.

I plan to head east over Snoqualmie Pass. From there I’m not yet sure which way I’ll head on this first trip of the campaign season. I will make others, too, before Washington’s Feb. 9 presidential caucuses. And here’s how you can help. Do you know of interesting stories in your area? Is there a political newbie excited about the race and volunteering for a presidential campaign for the first time or maybe a veteran activist who is worthy of recognition? Is there a group of people who meet somewhere for coffee in the morning who enjoy some good political debate?

Please post your suggestions in the comment thread. I promise to check often and to seriously consider all serious suggestions.

I’ll be posting dispatches here as often as possible with at least some of those also appearing in the print edition of the newspaper.

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January 23, 2008 7:45 AM

What I saw when I came to work

Posted by David Postman


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January 22, 2008 9:46 AM

Did someone forget to pay the bill?

Posted by David Postman

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January 22, 2008 8:27 AM

More local Republicans spread baseless attack on Obama

Posted by David Postman

The Clark County Republican Party has replaced its smear on Barack Obama with a "A Canadian’s View of Our Presidential Elections.”

But Republicans along the border aren’t the only ones spreading the thoroughly debunked nonsense about the Democratic presidential candidate. They're doing it on the coast, too. In Grays Harbor County it comes via e-mail. A copy of it was forwarded to Daily World Assistant City Editor Dan Jackson.

The most galling and appalling thing about this e-mail is how it got to my inbox. It was passed on by a local citizen who had received it from Cathy Colley, the chairwoman of the Grays Harbor Republican Party.

What we have here is a poisonous chain-letter that instills fear and loathing, slings mud at the most formidable African-American candidate for president in U.S. history and stereotypes a whole racial/religious minority.

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January 21, 2008 5:00 PM

Clark County GOP promotes ridiculous lies about Obama

Posted by David Postman

Clark County's eagle-eyed Jon DeVore, known around here as stilwell, found his local Republican Party repeating easily discredited b.s. about Barack Obama. The stuff is so ridiculous I criticized NBC's Brian Williams for even asking Obama about it, and Josh Feit criticized Obama for stooping to answering the lies that are being spread about him. But there it is at the party's website.

I'm not sure if the Clark County Republican Party takes off Martin Luther King Day. But what else could explain why this has been allowed to stay on the website since last week? I have taken the day off, but when DeVore's post was pointed out to me by David Goldstein I thought I needed to post it here.

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January 18, 2008 10:23 AM

Support lags for UW North

Posted by David Postman

As the Times reports this morning:

Advocates for a new University of Washington branch campus packed an Olympia hearing room Thursday to argue whether an urban Everett location or a more spacious Marysville campus would be the best site to serve the north Puget Sound region.

But support may be weakening for a north campus, no matter which city gets it. Randy Hodgins, the UW”s chief lobbyist in Olympia, says on his blog:

Not sure if anyone’s opinion was changed by the testimony but while the Everett site has gained some additional support this week, deep divisions remain in the legislature on the issue. More importantly, I believe a number of legislators are beginning to question the wisdom of moving ahead at all on the new campus given the cost projections and what appear to be concerns about how this really fits into the entire higher education system.

I wonder how the north campus will be affected by the university’s request for $150 million in state money to start work on a new Husky stadium. I ran into a legislator at the coffee shop this morning who suggested UW could finance the stadium by selling off all its branch campuses.

But perhaps the north campus will be helped by the stadium push. Could UW, the Legislature and Gov. Chris Gregoire agree on $150 million for a new stadium in Seattle while telling Snohomish County that it’ll have to wait to get its branch campus? I think that’d be a tough sell. (And the university won’t argue the stadium would be an economic boost to the community, would it?)

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January 18, 2008 8:22 AM

Who's sorry now?

Posted by David Postman

On an economic basis, near zero. On a cultural basis, close to zero.” Seattle City Council President Nick Licata on the local impact if the Sonics left Seattle; Sports Illustrated, February 2006

“We have our own economic study that strongly suggests we generate over $200 million a year in economic real value to this region." Sonics owner Howard Schultz, Feb. 2, 2006

"There is no doubt that my glib, foolish remark several months ago on the relative unimportance of professional basketball in Seattle was smug and wrong."Licata newsletter, July 29, 2006

"The financial issue is simple, and the city's analysts agree, there will be no net economic loss if the Sonics leave Seattle. Entertainment dollars not spent on the Sonics will be spent on Seattle's many other sports and entertainment options. Seattleites will not reduce their entertainment budget simply because the Sonics leave" Court brief filed by the Sonics this week.

The Sonics also said they would produce a survey showing that 66 percent of Seattleites say the team's exit would make "no difference" in their lives, while only 12 percent said they'd be "much worse off."

Read Jim Brunner’s story on the Sonics latest strategy here.

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January 16, 2008 1:12 PM

Some see conflict between Passover and Demo conventions

Posted by David Postman

Some of Washington’s Jewish community are unhappy that the state Democratic Party has scheduled county conventions on the first day of Passover, one of the most important Jewish holidays.
The Democratic county conventions will be held during the day on April 19. Passover begins at sundown that evening. An online petition to state Chairman Dwight Pelz says:

On Passover, Jewish families all across our state gather for a traditional ITAL seder ITAL dinner. Like Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, it is a time of family togetherness, and it is a time when many Jews are out of town or are hosting visitors. The Party doesn't hold meetings, much less county conventions, during the weeks before Christmas, the week of Thanksgiving, nor on Easter weekend, and it should not hold these important county meetings on the morning of the day Passover begins. Holding to the April 19 date will depress Jewish turnout and disenfranchise many in our Jewish community.

The Web site Move the Convention includes a link to a video of Pelz speaking when he was a candidate for the party chairmanship in 2006. Pelz said then:

I think when these schedules are set, they have to have the understanding of the constituencies that we're trying to involve, and that Saturday is a religious holiday. I represent the Rainier Valley right now. We have the largest Jewish Orthodox community in the state, and there's things we just don't do on Saturday in South Seattle.

Pelz just told me that the state party’s executive committee will discuss the issue when it meets later this week.

“We are attempting to investigate what we can do to accommodate people and accommodate the observance of the holiday.”

Pelz said the county conventions will start at 9 a.m., giving plenty of time before the start of the holiday at sundown. (This has been fixed on the party website.The party’s Web site says the conventions start at 1 p.m.) Pelz said he also will check with the Democratic National Committee, which approved the state’s calendar, to see what flexibility exists.

Rob Jacobs, former regional director of the ADL, said he and others have worked for years to try to get the party to be mindful of important Jewish holidays. Republicans, he said, are holding their county conventions the week before and he’s not sure why Democrats didn’t choose to do the same.

Jacobs said some local Jews, particularly the Orthodox, feel alienated when the party schedules major events that conflict with holidays or the Sabbath.

MORE: Janis Traven, vice chairwoman of the 36th District Democrats, said that the party’s rules committee has known about the Passover conflict for a year. Last January she let members know about the scheduling concerns and made sure they knew about, an on-line Jewish calendar. She told me:

“For some reason the schedule was made irrespective of Passover. If you’ll pardon the pun, this whole thing was very ham-handed.”

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January 16, 2008 8:48 AM

Having trouble posting a comment?

Posted by David Postman

There are some technical problems with comments. Several people have e-mailed to say they have been frustrated with the security code that needs to be typed in to post a comment. It is unreadable to many of you. I apologize and have asked for some technical assistance to fix the problem.

This morning I notice that the comment fields are not showing up on when the “permalink/comments” link is clicked. This is also a technical glitch, and not part of a conspiracy, as suggested by this e-mailer this morning:

Why have the comments about the Eric Oemig and impeachment article been censored? Is there some sort of website malfunction or too much pro-impeachment sentiment?

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January 16, 2008 7:50 AM

What was Brian Williams thinking?

Posted by David Postman

Did you hear NBC News anchor Brian Williams ask Hillary Clinton last night to respond to “Internet rumors” that she had Vince Foster murdered?

No, of course not, because he didn’t ask that. It’d be ridiculous to have a candidate on a nationally televised debate respond to something that is demonstrably false, defamatory and just plain silly.

So why then did he say during last night’s debate from Las Vegas:

Senator Obama, a fresh question here.

It may not come as news to you that there’s a lot of false information about you circulating on the Internet. We receive one e-mail in particular, usually once several week. We received three of them this week.

This particular one alleges, among other things, that you are trying to hide the fact that you are a Muslim, that you took the oath of office on the Koran and not the Bible, that you will not pledge allegiance to the flag or generally respect it.

How, how do you, how does your campaign, go on about combating this kind of thing?

Obama smiles and chuckles while the question is being asked. He then explains that he’s a Christian, pledges to the flag, often even leads the pledge in the Senate and in fact took the oath on the Bible. He explains:

In the Internet age there are going to be lies that are going to be spread all over the place.

MSNBC has the video of the exchange up under the headline:

Obama addresses Internet rumors

I have not found the clip of Williams asking the candidates to respond to Internet rumors that Mikey from the LIFE cereal commercials died after eating Pop Rocks and drinking a six-pack of Pepsi.

MORE: At The Slog, Josh Feit says he didn't like the question much either, but he says Obama's answer was bad as well.

I sort of thought the proper response would have been something along the lines of what Will in Seattle suggested on Slog.

The best answer is to walk up to the questioner and backhand him with your glove. But we don't do that anymore.

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January 14, 2008 11:40 AM

Lawmaker pushes again for impeachment of president

Posted by David Postman

Sen. Eric Oemig, D-Kirkland, wants to see George Bush impeached before the president can finish out his term in office. Oemig introduced Senate Joint Memorial 8016 today. It would ask Congress

in order to preserve confidence in the office of the Presidency and the Executive branch, our senators and representatives in the United States Congress determine whether there is sufficient evidence to charge President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard B. Cheney with the above offenses and, if so, to follow the Constitutional process of impeachment.

There will be a hearing on the measure Thursday at 3:30 p.m. at the Senate Committee on Government Operations & Elections. Oemig had a hearing on his resolution last year, but it had little support among Senate Democrats and it was never debated on the floor. (He did get a chance to talk about it during personal comments on the floor.)

Even Democrats sympathetic to the cause said last year that Oemig’s move was a distraction. I can only assume they’ll find that even more so this year in a short session and with little time left in the Bush Administration.

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January 14, 2008 10:49 AM

Rossi to give alternative, on-line, state of the state

Posted by David Postman

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi will deliver what his campaign is calling "The Real State of the State Address" at 6 p.m. on a webcast at his campaign site. I'm not sure which part he means is "real." Is it that he is really the governor? Or that he figures Gov. Chris Gregoire will tell a fictionalized version tomorrow in the official, real, State of the State Address.

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January 14, 2008 10:30 AM

Pierce County exec considers race for AG

Posted by David Postman

Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg is considering running against Attorney General Rob McKenna. Ladenburg, a Democrat, filed his candidate registration with the Public Disclosure Commission Jan. 9. He told the News Tribune last week that he had hired Democratic campaign consultant Christian Sinderman and wants to see how much early money he can raise before making a final decision on the race.

He has a campaign Web site up and running. He says there that he has been encouraged to run against McKenna, a Republican in his first term, and has “decided to move forward.”

The Attorney General is the citizens’ lawyer and should be responsive to the public needs. Many have urged me to run because they believe the office has become too political and biased. We need an Attorney General who will change the political nature of the office and return it to the citizens of the state. The Attorney General should be working for the interests of consumers, the elderly, the children and the disadvantaged, not creating a platform for political gain.

Ladenburg was first elected executive in 2000 and is in his second term. Previously he spent 14 years as the county’s elected prosecutor. In 1992 he ran in the Democratic primary for attorney general and was beat easily by Chris Gregoire.

MORE: Republicans aren’t surprised that Ladenburg is thinking about challenging McKenna. Even before he filed his paperwork, the Republican State Leadership Committee, which helps fund GOP AG races, was polling voters on a McKenna v. Ladenburg race.

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January 14, 2008 10:07 AM

Legislature convenes today with low expectations

Posted by David Postman

The Legislature opens at noon. By all indications it will be 60 days of carefully restrained action. No one wants to do anything to offend anyone, or any voter or donor, at least.

This is not a time for big initiatives. It’s a time for Republicans to try to soften up Gov. Chris Gregoire in the early months of her re-election year. As Andrew Garber reported in Sunday’s Times:

Just talk to House GOP Deputy Leader Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale.

One of the top priorities of House Republicans in the next two months will be to "let people know about the culture of failure" of Democrats, he said. "We're going to be talking about it nonstop."

And that is being complemented by the state Republican Party which is issuing a “Gregoire Administration Failure of the Week.”

I’ll be covering the session at least a little bit over the next 60 days. So send you legislative news tips my way.

One bill up for a hearing tomorrow will be worth watching. Some lawmakers here are part of a national effort to overhaul the Electoral College into a system that would elect a president based on the popular vote.

House Bill 1750 would require Washington to allocate all its electoral votes to whichever candidate for president received the most popular votes in all 50 states. It would be a step toward what’s called the National Popular Vote. Legislatures in Maryland, Illinois and New Jersey have already passed identical bills.

It would not take effect unless states that represent a majority of electoral votes pass similar laws.

The hearing is at 10 a.m. before the House Committee on State Government & Tribal Affairs.

Last year the bill made it through the committee process on the Senate side but didn’t get a vote by the full Senate. The House version had a hearing but did not move.

The group behind the National Popular Vote is a non-profit. But it has some money and is willing to spend it to try to get these bills passed. Last year former House Speaker Joe King was paid $66,000 in fees and expenses to lobby for the bill. He is registered to lobby for it again this year.

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January 11, 2008 2:16 PM

Porch dog now a watchdog

Posted by David Postman

Former state legislator Jim Clements, a colorful Republican from Selah, is the newest member to the Public Disclosure Commission. Clements replaces Earl Tilley in one of the commission's Republican seats. Clements was a state representative and then senator until he was defeated last fall in the Republican primary.

The appointment was made today by Gov. Chris Gregoire.

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January 11, 2008 11:25 AM

Obama to get endorsement from Arizona gov

Posted by David Postman

Gov. Chris Gregoire isn't ready to endorse in the presidential campaign. But the Arizona Republic says that their gov, Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, will endorse Barack Obama today.

Napolitano represents a valuable endorsement for Obama, giving him the backing of a politically popular female leader from a conservative state. It was just Wednesday that the governor indicated that she planned to offer any Democratic endorsement at all prior to Arizona's presidential primary Feb. 5.

Napolitano and Gregoire are friends -- going back to when both served as attorney general in their states.

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January 11, 2008 9:28 AM

Clinton says voters disenfranchised by caucuses

Posted by David Postman

Hillary Clinton gave Nevada voters today a critique of the caucus system that has so far not been kind to her candidacy. From ABC News:

"You have a limited period of time on one day to have your voices heard," Clinton, D-N.Y., said. "That is troubling to me. You know in a situation of a caucus, people who work during that time -- they're disenfranchised. People who can't be in the state or who are in the military, like the son of the woman who was here who is serving in the Air Force, they cannot be present."

Washington Democrats will choose all their delegates in just that sort of system Feb. 9. Of the first two contests of the presidential year, Barack Obama won the caucus in Iowa and Clinton won the primary in New Hampshire.

There was a time I would have thought a caucus would be better for Clinton because she’d find stronger support among the Democratic faithful. But if Obama continues to be successful in bringing new voters to caucuses I wonder if any Democrats here will be sorry they’re not picking any delegates at the Feb. 19th primary.

UPDATE: A helpful commenter points out that Washington's Democratic caucus doesn't disenfranchise military personnel, the disabled, or anyone who can't attend because of religious observance because there is a Caucus Surrogate Affidavit Form for Religious Observance, Military Service or Disability.

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January 10, 2008 4:49 PM

Troubling words in Ron Paul's newsletters

Posted by David Postman

The New Republic magazine has dug up some old Ron Paul newsletters and found signed and unsigned articles that are racist, anti-gay and anti-Semitic. First, the denial: Paul, a libertarian Republican presidential candidate, says he didn’t write any of the offending articles in the newsletters that carried his name, and didn’t see them, either, before they were sent to subscribers in the 1980s and 1990s.

Paul told CNN today -- after the network got copies of some of the same newsletters:

"When you bring this question up, you're really saying, 'You're a racist' or 'Are you a racist?' And the answer is, no, I'm not a racist.”

Anyone with at least passing interest in Paul’s candidacy should read the whole New Republic article. It was written by James Kirchick. Kirchick concedes it’s impossible to know from reading the newsletters who wrote the articles. But, he wrote, all the articles had one thing in common:

They were published under a banner containing Paul's name, and the articles (except for one special edition of a newsletter that contained the byline of another writer) seem designed to create the impression that they were written by him -- and reflected his views. What they reveal are decades worth of obsession with conspiracies, sympathy for the right-wing militia movement, and deeply held bigotry against blacks, Jews, and gays. In short, they suggest that Ron Paul is not the plain-speaking antiwar activist his supporters believe they are backing -- but rather a member in good standing of some of the oldest and ugliest traditions in American politics.

Continue reading this post ...

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January 10, 2008 3:58 PM

Richardson out, Gregoire still mum on presidential favorite

Posted by David Postman

Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson dropped out of the race today. Our state’s top Democrat, Gov. Chris Gregoire, had been saying she would refrain from endorsing any candidate as long as Richardson was in the race. The pledge of neutrality was, Gregoire said, out of respect for her friend and fellow governor.

But Gregoire isn’t ready to endorse any one in the Democratic field. When news broke yesterday afternoon that Richardson was close to dropping out, I asked Gregoire press secretary Aaron Toso what the governor would do. After talking with the governor, Toso told me she would not make an endorsement at this point. The governor hopes the candidates come to Washington state to talk with voters about issues important to the region.

Congressman Adam Smith is Obama's state chairman. Sen. Maria Cantwell, King County Executive Ron Sims, former Gov. Gary Locke and Congressman Jay Inslee, are co-chairmen of Hillary Clinton’s Washington campaign. Patty Murray says she will remain neutral in the Democratic primary. (CORRECTION: This paragraph initially incorrectly said that Cantwell had endorsed Obama. Apologies for relying on my memory.)

Do local endorsements matter? The campaigns think so at least. This afternoon the Clinton campaign announced the endorsement of Bob Coffin. He’s a state senator from Clark County, Nev.

If Gregoire waits much longer there may not be much of a choice to make. And in fact with Washington’s Democratic caucus Feb. 9, an endorsement from the state’s governor would likely mean very little to a candidate after that day.

Richardson isn’t in a hurry to make an endorsement, either. In remarks prepared for a speech on the steps of the New Mexico capitol today, he says:

Now that my time in this national campaign has come to an end, I would urge those who supported my candidacy to take a long and thoughtful look at the remaining Democrats. They are all strong contenders who each, in their own way, would bring desperately needed change to our country. All I ask is that you make your own, independent choice with the same care and dedication to this country that you honored me with during this campaign.

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January 10, 2008 10:20 AM

Burner tops $800,000 for 2007

Posted by David Postman

Democrat Darcy Burner’s campaign will announce today that it raised $858,125 in 2007. In the last quarter of ’07 Burner raised $339,494, according to spokesman Sandeep Kaushik. That’s more than Burner got in the previous quarter when she was helped by a concerted effort by the liberal Netroots.

Burner is making her second run against Congressman Dave Reichert, R-Auburn. And she is far ahead of her fundraising last time. At the end of 2005, Burner had raised about $185,000 and started the election year with less than $100,000 in the bank. She now has $607,144 cash on hand.

Kaushik said he thinks the campaign’s fundraising has been helped by all the talk of political change that we’ve been hearing in the presidential campaign.

“All the candidates in the presidential election are talking about changing Washington, D.C. Voters don’t want the same-old this year and that’s a good sign for us. I think our fundraising indicates that there is something similar going on here in the 8th District.”

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January 10, 2008 8:27 AM

Me v. Blethen?

Posted by David Postman

Postman v. Blethen is the headline on Ryan Blethen's latest post in his Daily Democracy blog. At issue is a disagreement over whether reporters should be speaking out against media consolidation, as Ryan, Frank Blethen and the Times editorial page have been doing. I don't think that's a reporter's role. Blethen says the issue is too important and we should not leave the fight up to publishers and editorialists.

Obviously, journalists on the news side who cover the media, or Congress, should stay away. But why should the vast majority of reporters and editors who cover the arts, transportation, sports, and the suburbs be silent while their profession is dismantled?

You can read his original post and my comment here, and the follow up here.

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January 9, 2008 4:14 PM

Washington's influential Supreme Court

Posted by David Postman

A new law review article says Washington state has the second most influential Supreme Court in the nation. The study shows that Washington’s high court has increased its national sway when compared to earlier reviews.

The U.C. Davis Law Review article by Jake Dear and Edward Jessen, officials with the California Supreme Court, says various measures of influence show “Washington has become the dominant second-ranked court” behind California.

The rankings were based on a search of opinions to see which state court decisions had been followed most often by other state supreme courts. California was first and Washington second when Dear and Jessen looked at the number of court opinions followed by out-of-state courts.

What gives California and Washington its influence? There are a couple of reasons cited, including:

A populous jurisdiction with dynamic and diverse social, cultural, and economic conditions is most likely to produce a wealth of litigation capable of yielding leading decisions. If the highest appellate court of such a state possesses and carefully exercises review discretion in order to grant hearings in significant cases that may have broad impact, that court may well produce opinions that other jurisdictions will follow.

I read that to mean that courts, like Washington’s, that can be picky about what they takes on appeal can spend more time on potentially important cases. Writing style can make a difference, too. The authors say:

There are, at the extremes, two contrasting ways to write an opinion that resolves a thorny or novel legal issue: a concise approach that contains only minimal analysis before announcing a conclusion, or a more extensive, explanatory, and analytical style.

It’s the latter, analytical style, which would make it more likely for a court’s opinion to be cited by a court in a different state. General reputation and professionalism matter as does whether a court has an adequate “level of insulation from partisan politics.”

It has been suggested that “professional supreme courts ‘may produce decisions that are more widely applicable over states and time, because they can afford to let abstract rules rather than political concerns decide cases.’”

The six Washington cases followed six or more times by other courts include three criminal cases and three general civil cases. The full list is in Note 87 of the article.

(Hat tip to the blog of Trial Advocacy Program at the University of Washington School of Law.)

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January 9, 2008 3:03 PM

Obama sends campaign staffer to Washington State

Posted by David Postman

Barack Obama’s presidential campaign has appointed Grant Lahmann to be Washington state director. Lahmann was in Iowa for Obama until the candidate’s big win there. He arrives back in Washington — he’s a former aide to Congressman Brian Baird and field coordinator for the state Democratic Party — just as local grassroots supporters of Obama open a Seattle office. Lahmann was a county organizer during the run-up to the Iowa caucuses. He is the son of Olympia School Superintendent Bill Lahmann.

The office is at 614 First Avenue in Pioneer Square. There will be an open house Saturday at 11 a.m.

Lahmann is one of a few names you can add to the locally-grown “Obama Kids” credited with the senator’s Iowa victory. Others include Kendall Burman, who is the Obama campaign’s staff counsel and was in the campaign’s Iowa boiler room last Thursday. She is the daughter of Seattle attorney David Burman, who was part of Chris Gregoire's 2005 legal team. Another is Chelsea Waliser, a former aide to Congressman Adam Smith and University of Puget Sound alum who was a regional field director for Obama’s Iowa operation.

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January 9, 2008 9:45 AM

Did Clinton find her voice or Obama's?

Posted by David Postman

This is clearly the money line from Hillary Clinton’s victory speech last night:

Over the last week, I listened to you, and in the process, I found my own voice. I felt like we all spoke from our hearts, and I am so gratified that you responded.

That’s the focus of much of the morning-after coverage of Clinton’s win in New Hampshire. (You know, the victory that “stuns political world” and means she “escapes to fight another day” after a “devastating third place finish” in Iowa, which brought “shock and despair” to the Clinton campaign because she had been “widely depicted as the inevitable nominee.”)

Clinton’s reference to her heart was heard by many as a reference to her emotional moment the other day in a New Hampshire diner. I was shocked when I saw the video of where “a visibly emotional Clinton teared up,” not for what it said about her, but what it said about me. I get more emotional than that when the Man with the Yellow Hat reprimands Curious George.

What struck me in Clinton’s comment last night was the acknowledgement that prior to New Hampshire she wasn’t talking in her true voice. That’s a remarkable admission for anyone to make. Politicians usually can only be self-critical to the point of saying they care too much and work too hard.

John McCain is the master of showing his imperfect side. He did it last night in patriotic terms, saying he had always loved America, though at times imperfectly. And I remember from my brief time with McCain in 2000 when he said something that has always stuck with me as particularly human for a politician. He said he believed in redemption, and as I remember it, added, “I have to. I’m a deeply flawed human being.”

But Clinton now has to show that her real voice sounds different than what we’ve all heard for a year. She can’t take one win and go to Nevada in her old suit of armor. And she can’t just parrot Barack Obama’s platform of change, like she did in this clip from the weekend’s Democratic debate.

I want to make change, but I’ve already made change. I will continue to make change. I’m not just running on a promise of change. I’m running on 35 years of change. I’m running on having taken on the drug companies and the health insurance companies, taking on the oil companies.

So, you know, I think it is clear that what we need is somebody who can deliver change. And we don’t need to be raising the false hopes of our country about what can be delivered. The way to know what change I will produce is to look at the changes that I’ve already made.

She really did talk in bold, too.

I saw a photo of Clinton this morning outside her campaign bus that carried the slogan, “Countdown to Change.” It’s not just Clinton who has become a changeling in post-Iowa. In the past few days I’ve heard McCain, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee talk about change and try to suggest a common link between their campaign and Obama’s.

If only Obama trademarked “change” he could finance the rest of his campaign from residuals. What else will these other candidates do to be the New Obama? Find long-lost African-American family roots? Will Ron Paul, who brags of voting no more than anyone in Congress, talk of the Audacity of Nope? Will Romney, in one last desperate flip-flop, change his first name from Willard to Hussein?

The wise course at this point may be to take some advice from Tom Brokaw. He said last night on MSNBC that the media would do better by waiting for “the voters to make their judgment.” That was almost too much for Chris Matthews to bear.

MATTHEWS: Well what do we do then in the days before the ballot? We must stay home, I guess.

BROKAW: No, no we don't stay home. There are reasons to analyze what they're saying. We know from how the people voted today, what moved them to vote. You can take a look at that. There are a lot of issues that have not been fully explored during all this.

But we don't have to get in the business of making judgments before the polls have closed. And trying to stampede in effect the process.

Look, I'm not just picking on us, it's part of the culture in which we live these days. I think that the people out there are going to begin to make judgments about us if we don't begin to temper that temptation to constantly try to get ahead of what the voters are deciding, in many cases, as we learned in New Hampshire when they went into the polling booth today or in the last three days. They were making decisions very late.

It makes good sense to wait until we know something before launching a bunch of new theories and declarations. At The Slog, Eli Sanders has a theory about what happened on the Democratic side of the primary last night. He wonders if race played a role in private voting that didn't happen in Iowa's public process last week. It's an interesting take, that Democratic voters want some "sort of social permission" to vote for Obama, or more specifically to vote for an African-American candidate.

At the same time, Stranger News Editor Josh Feit is bothered by theorizing about Clinton's win. He says people are looking for some sort of nefarious plot to explain the victory. I don't think that's it. But when last minute polls showed a far different outcome, it behooves us to look at why the actual vote turned out different.

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January 8, 2008 8:04 PM

McCain campaign here wants to ride NH victory

Posted by David Postman

To be a John McCain supporter for the past year has meant being “patient and lonely.” That’s how it was described to me a Tuesday night by Chris Fidler, one of McCain’s volunteer campaign coordinators in Washington state. That, of course, all changed with McCain’s victory in the New Hampshire primary. In fact, the change began a couple of days ago, Fidler said.

“I’ve been hearing from a lot of old friends in the past 48 hours,” he said. “And they’re more than welcome to join us.”

McCain’s victory is giving new life to what was a well-connected, but largely invisible, campaign team in the state. Attorney General Rob McKenna is the chairman of the campaign. Former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton is the honorary chairman. Former U.S. Attorney Mike McKay and Fidler are co-chairs of the state steering committee. And in New Hampshire last night was former Secretary of State Ralph Munro, a longtime McCain supporter who had spent the last week “doing grunt work” as a campaign volunteer. Gorton, McKenna and McKay all supported George W. Bush over McCain in 2000.

The media had written McCain off, which the candidate pointed out in his victory speech. There was little staff to help McCain and even less money.

“There were certainly some dark days for the McCain campaign,” McKenna said. He says that McCain’s position on immigration -- said to be too liberal for many Republicans -- caused steep dives in the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire. Many people figured McCain wouldn’t even still be in the race tonight.

“I had people in the Romney camp ask me to endorse him,” McKenna said. Sometimes people weren’t even that polite to Munro.

“People were walking up to me on the streets in Olympia and I remember at the Seattle Rotary saying, ‘Your guy is done. He’s dead. And for all practical purposes he was.”

Now though McCain is very much alive in this campaign. A decisive victory will do that for a candidate. For McKenna, Gorton and others on the team here, the next question is whether McCain will still be in the fight when Washington residents get a say in the presidential race.

That will come in two parts for Republicans, during the Feb. 9 caucus and the Feb. 19 primary. McKenna said that he and Gorton have written a memo to the McCain national campaign proposing a Washington visit. He said they want McCain to visit both eastern and western Washington, make public appearances, and do some fund-raising.

In 2000, McCain lost the Republican caucus vote to Bush, and again lost to him among Republican voters in the primary. McCain did well among independent voters. Those votes didn’t change the delegate count any, though, because only voters who declare themselves Republican can cast a ballot in the GOP primary or take part in the caucus.

McKenna said that McCain was hurt in 2000 because he left the impression with eastern Washington voters he would consider removing dams. McKenna said that’s not McCain’s position, but he was caught off guard by a question eight years ago and had no time to counter negative news stories.

McKenna said organization for the caucuses will get a boost from the New Hampshire victory. But he said that it’s still far from known whether there will be much of a race left next month. And the McCain campaign has much tougher battles to fight before then, including in South Carolina, which spelled the end of McCain’s 2000 campaign.

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January 8, 2008 1:11 PM

Gregoire to oppose assisted suicide initiative

Posted by David Postman

Gov. Chris Gregoire is talking to reporters in Olympia. She was just asked her position on the assisted suicide initiative that former Gov. Booth Gardner will file tomorrow. Gardner, who has Parkinsons, has been a mentor to Gregoire. Gregoire’s voice cracked when she answered the question:

“I love my friend Booth Gardner and my heart goes out to his condition and what he’s had to face. He was my motivation for the Life Sciences Discovery Fund. I pray every day that we will find a cure. But I find it on a personal level, very, very difficult to support assisted suicide.”

MORE: On other issues, Gregoire defended her proposed spending plan which earlier today had been criticized by Sen. Cheryl Pflug. Gregoire said she has run the state like a business.

“When you’re in economic good times, do you just not invest a dime?”

Gregoire said Democratic spending over the past few years - which she refers to as “investments” - has helped insulate the state from negative economic conditions around much of the country.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi has also been criticizing Gregoire’s proposed budget. Gregoire said today she didn’t want to get into campaigning, but said that she didn’t like the way Rossi balanced the budget when he was chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

“I don’t agree with the values of his budget,” Gregoire said. That budget, though, was as much the work of Gregoire’s Democratic predecessor, Gary Locke, than it was Rossi’s.

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January 8, 2008 12:02 PM

Demo lawmakers aren't ready for Sound Transit to try again

Posted by David Postman

The 2008 Legislature could approve a bill that would regulate toll roads and bridges in the state. House Transportation Chairwoman Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, said she is sponsoring a bill that would require legislative approval for any new tolling.

Lawmakers from the transportation committees are talking about the best way to fund the upgrade of SR-520. Clibborn said that the Regional Transportation Investment District that was supposed to oversee projects in Central Puget Sound “did not do what it was supposed to do.” She said the state taking over the project, as Gov. Chris Gregoire has suggested, may be the best route.

Senate Transportation Chairman Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, said she never liked the RTID, though she said she voted for it. Sen. Dan Swecker, R-Rochester, the ranking Republican on the Senate Transportation Committee, said money is not the problem with big projects such as 520.

“There’s a crisis of leadership at the local level, not a funding crisis. We don’t have an answer as to what the folks want to do in those areas. It’s time for the local folks to get their act together.”

Rep. Doug Ericksen, the ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee, said “we truly have to change the way we think about how we build roads.” He said money is lost by delays, including millions of dollars as the Viaduct has been stalled. Money is lost through cost-overruns, he said. He wants to look at labor law that regulates pay for construction workers and at public-private partnerships for road projects.

Haugen said that following last November’s voter defeat of a car-tab and sales tax increase for roads and light rail in Central Puget Sound, that it would be “very unwise” for Sound Transit to try again to ask voters for more money. The Sound Transit package was tied to the road projects by the Legislature in the hopes that a unified ballot measure would win voter support. Haugen said she still thinks “we need to look at the whole package.”

Clibborn said that the state should not prevent Sound Transit from trying again now. But, she said, “I think cooler heads will prevail” and she doubts there will be another attempt before 2010.

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January 8, 2008 10:39 AM

Of floods and forest practices

Posted by David Postman

As lawmakers outline their 2008 plans this morning, it's clear there is a consensus that the Legislature needs to do something for flood victims. Details, of course, will be tougher to work out, but with House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt coming from the heart of the flood country there will be a high-profile advocate.

But it only took a few minutes to see one major difference among how lawmakers view the aftermath of the December floods. House Speaker Frank Chopp talked about seeing this Seattle Times photo by Steve Ringman that shows a logging clear-cut and a massive landslide. Chopp said the Legislature needs to look at how to prevent similar things from happening in the future.
DeBolt said there’s no argument:

“Clear cuts cause slides. That’s what happened in our area.”

But he also said that other flood damage was caused by environmental protections, not logging practices. He said salmon protection laws that require buffer zones of trees left standing near streams contributed to more flooding. He said a habitat conservation plan that was supposed to end long-standing environmental disputes around logging and salmon protection have been proven a “debacle.”

“These are really important questions: Who comes first, the salmon or the humans?”

I heard this same debate just days after the flood when I flew around the area with Gov. Chris Gregoire and other officials. And it will be argued in much more detail Thursdaytomorrow. The Senate Natural Resources, Ocean & Recreation Committee will hold a public hearing “on the relationship between forest practices, flood events, and climate change.”

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January 8, 2008 10:17 AM

Legislative leaders outline '08 plans

Posted by David Postman

Reporters and editors from around the state are in Olympia today for a legislative preview organized by the Associated Press. Gov. Chris Greogire will speak to the group later this morning. Legislative leaders are now on a panel.

A few things are worthy of mention so far. There will be another debate this year about how to fund the paid family leave law the Legislature approved last year.

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, said that members of her caucus still support the one cent per hour, employee-paid payroll tax that Senate Democrats have twice voted for. That proposal couldn’t get House support. And Brown said she doesn’t know if there is any greater consensus this year. But if not, she said, “it will be incumbent upon somebody to come up with a better idea.”

Sen. Cheryl Pflug, sitting in for Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, said she worries that the burden will be eventually shifted to employers through an initiative campaign. She said the funding should come from the state general fund, a move Gregoire opposes.

When Brown said that most industrialized nations have paid family leave, House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, said that at least some of those countries are Socialist.

“If that’s the model we’re driving toward then we have to say that’s the model we’re driving toward.”

House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, gave a quick and firm defense of family leave. He said it was a “fundamentally sound concept” for parents to be at home with new born children and he asked if anyone really disagreed with that. No one spoke up.

Also, Pflug has been aggressive in her criticism of the ruling Democrats and Gregoire. Is this a preview of the GOP talking points for 2008? She several times mentioned the budget process followed by former senator and current GOP gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi and former Democratic Gov. Gary Locke. She said the state needs to go back to the priorities of government process Locke and Rossi followed as opposed to what she called “the priorities of the governor” plan by Gregoire.

“This is the time quite frankly when leadership needs to be willing to say no to their friends.”

MORE: I’m not sure how big a bowl of rusty nails Pflug had for breakfast, but here a few more of her lines from this morning:

She was critical of the fact that the Legislature appropriated money that was never spent that would have both paid for new ferries and flood control projects in Lewis County. Now, she said,

“We have ferries that don’t float and I-5 that does.”

She also ridiculed Gregoire’s statement that the Seattle viaduct will be torn down in 2012, though there is no plan yet on what it will be replaced with. She said Republicans were going to announced that “we are going to colonize Mars by 2012 and reduce dependence on foreign oil and all we need is a plan.”

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January 8, 2008 8:27 AM

Can't decide between Obama and McCain?

Posted by David Postman

Are you facing the choice Emily Rocheleau is in New Hampshire today? According to Sunday’s New York Times she’s torn about who to vote for in the first primary of the 2008 presidential election.

At a town-hall-style meeting for Mr. McCain in Hudson, N.H., an independent, Emily Rocheleau, 22, said she was weighing her choices between Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean that all of their positions are really moderate,” Ms. Rocheleau said, “but their rhetoric and their approach to politics is more about unifying the country.”

Conversations with voters at Mr. Obama’s rally here Saturday turned up several examples of voters who said they were open to either candidate.

I’m curious if any of you are similarly torn. Is party less important to you this year than in recent presidential elections? Is there someone out there who is attracted to both Obama and McCain? Why? Let us know in the comments.

What is the connection between McCain and Obama? Both appeal to young voters. And both are the focus of media crushes. The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz says reporters are being swept up by Obamania, while at The New Republic, Jason Zengerle writes of the love between the press and McCain.

If you don’t have a candidate crush, are you at least excited about the presidential campaign? If so, Geov Parrish asks at, “why do you care?”

So why does it matter what you, I, or any other local person thinks about the 2008 presidential race? Sure, you could join a campaign and fly to a state where the votes matter. (Most of us won’t.) And we can all send in our $25, $50, or $1000 (or whatever) to the candidate of our choice. That’ll make a big dent in the over $100 million that Clinton and Obama have already raised, or the likely combined total of over ITAL $1 billion ITAL that the two major party nominees will raise for 2008. And since when did “one dollar, one vote” become the standard for our democracy?

The end result is that much of the fascination with the 2008 race hereabouts reeks of rooting for one’s favorite sports team (albeit with more meaningful stakes). It’s fun, it’s entertaining, but it’s not to be confused with the functions of a healthy democracy. That would require, among other things, a national primary day, abolishing the electoral college, public campaign financing, and allowing more than two competitive parties. Since we don’t have any of those things, locally or nationally, and aren’t about to get them, sure, I’ll get some popcorn and watch the race. But we’re spectators in this race — not participants. And that’s a problem.

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January 7, 2008 3:58 PM

Dan Savage reaches across the aisle

Posted by David Postman

Dan Savage is spending the day on Team Mitt, making calls to New Hampshire to help Romney in tomorrow's primary. He's trying to follow all the rules for a team member. But, he says:

Okay, I’m a bad live-robo-caller. I’m so totally not reading the script. All I’m saying is, “I’m Dan, calling for Mitt Romney. The governor wants to know if he can count on your support tomorrow.” Either people hang up on me or we wind up having nice, little conversations. Chats. About politics. And I’m not supposed to do that because then I can’t take as many call as I’m supposed to. I’m being totally civil and polite here—I’m not, oh, tearing into Romney (the way Romney has torn into teh gays) on Romney’s dime. I’m being good. And talking with folks in New Hampshire is actually pretty interesting—but, man, you can hear how weary everyone is, how sick they are of the campaign, how ready they are to vote and get it over with already.

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January 7, 2008 2:35 PM

Supreme Court's newest justice takes seat on bench

Posted by David Postman

The state’s new Supreme Court justice, Debra Stephens, said at her public swearing-in ceremony this morning that it was a day of many firsts. And adding to the appointment of court’s first woman from Eastern Washington, the first member of the Division III Court of Appeals to be elevated to the court, and personal firsts for Stephens and her family, I’m willing to bet that today was the first time an incoming justice quoted an unnamed but saucy cowboy poet. Stephens said in remarks before family, friends and her new colleagues that the poet said the great thing about a courthouse is that it’s the only place where the “smallest dog can lift its leg against the biggest tree.”

Other firsts likely were the Invocation by the Rev. Percy “Happy Watkins” that quoted Dr. Seuss and made mention of three great philosophers, including Redd Foxx. Watkins, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Stephens’ hometown of Spokane, also said the court’s new justice is “blessed with survival skills, graced with independence and favored with determination to see things through to the end.”

I’m not sure she has done either of these things, but Watkins said Stephens is the sort of person who “can eat prime rib at Buckingham Palace or some pinto beans in the ‘hood.”

Stephens was appointed by Gov. Chris Gregoire to fill the seat that had been held by Justice Bobbe Bridge. She will have to run for the seat this fall. Stephens was appointed to the Court of Appeals last year and ran unopposed to the full-term last fall.

Stephens took the oath of office Dec. 31 and started officially as the court’s 92nd justice the next day. Today, though, was a formal swearing-in, with remarks from fellow judges, Gregoire, and Stephens herself.

This morning Stephens talked a lot about her family. She said her mother, who was in the audience, was orphaned at 15 and moved to Spokane alone when she was 17. She said her mother and father gave her and four sisters great advantages, but said her mother as a young woman “built a beautiful life without any of those advantages.”

Stephens began Gonzaga University School of Law when her daughter, Lindsey, was only a few weeks old and took the baby with her to school. Lindsey, 17, son Bob, 12, and husband, Craig, administered the official “Robing of Justice” where Stephens donned a black robe before taking her seat along the other eight justices.

Judge Dennis Sweeney, chief of the Division Three Court of Appeals, said that on his court Stephens quickly and successfully evolved from an appeals attorney arguing one side of a case to an unbiased arbiter of the law.

“She knows at a deep level that the truth is the truth whether it’s popular or whether it can get five votes on this court.”

Stephens was a champion debater in school and later a debate coach. She attended Gonzaga for under-grad on a debate scholarship. Words are obviously very important to her. She said today that the justices’ “gift to society, our role, is the written word.” She said the justices are “our culture’s story-tellers.”

Stephens will hear her first oral arguments next week. Tomorrow she sits in on a court department conference to review pending cases. It could be months, or longer, before we get to see what an opinion looks like from a judge with such literary aspirations.

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January 7, 2008 8:13 AM

Roulstone drops out of 2nd District race

Posted by David Postman

Republican Doug Roulstone ended his second run for Congress yesterday. Roulstone, a businessman and retired Navy officer, was the Republican nominee in 2006 against Congressman Rick Larsen, D-Lake Stevens. Larsen easily beat Roulstone in the general election. Roulstone immediately announced he would try again in 2008.

But yesterday he released this statement:

For personal and family reasons, I am reluctantly withdrawing from the race for the Second Congressional seat. I want to sincerely thank those that have supported me in the 2006 campaign and thus far in the 2008 campaign. This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my lifetime. I would encourage every citizen to one day run for public office. Again, I want to thank all those who have helped me in the past and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.

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January 4, 2008 11:52 AM

"Obama kids" had Seattle schooling

Posted by David Postman

In all the words spilled over Barack Obama’s victory in Iowa were many about his campaign’s superb operation in the state. The staff was headed by Paul Tewes, Obama’s Iowa director. Tewes is well known in Democratic circles in Washington state. He was the general consultant on Sen. Maria Cantwell’s 2006 re-election campaign and directed the state’s coordinated campaign in 2000.

Obama’s deputy Iowa director is Marygrace Galston. She ran the Washington coordinated campaign in 2006 and was Sen. Patty Murray’s field director in 2004.

The guy in charge of Western Iowa was Rory Steele. He was GOTV director here in 2006. He was the focus of a recent, and very nice, front-page profile in the New York Times.

The three are experienced professionals, not kids on a lark swept up by Obamamania. They organized the state in a way that helped create and manage an unprecedented youth vote that carried Obama to victory. But no matter that they earned their stripes earlier, they are now “the Obama kids.”

This is Howard Fineman on MSNBC last night talking to Chris Matthews:

"If you went to the Obama headquarters in Des Moines, and I spent a lot of time there, you saw a lot of younger people from all over the country, Democrats, young kids, who wanted a new vision of America and the world. That's why they were out there voting for Obama. They organized superbly, Chris, this is a big story. These were kids who didn't know that much about Iowa, who used their brains and their shoe-leather to organize the state in a way that nobody had organized it, arguably, since Jimmy Carter surprised the world a generation ago. They came into that state - not only did they know the state, they knew the caucus mechanisms. I mean, David Gregory said earlier tonight the Obama kids, the Obama organizers, had necklaces of beads around their necks so they could count the delegates. They worked the secondary votes, you know, the realignment votes. They picked up all the loose change. This is a generational change, I'm telling you, and even if they don't win they've made their mark tonight."

They won big and definitely made their mark. Watch now to see where these three are sent next.

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January 4, 2008 10:50 AM

How Iraq surge helped Obama, Huckabee

Posted by David Postman

Let’s assume for today that the results of the Iowa caucus tell us something about what Americans think of the 2008 presidential field. In fact, forget that. We know what Iowa voters think and that's enough for now. We know that they weren’t looking for a candidate who can get Pervez Musharraf on the phone, or knows even whether Pakistan is under martial law. Voters weren’t impressed by a candidate whose husband dealt with international crises, or who knows that Canada is run by a prime minister and not a president or one who was mayor of a city attacked by foreign enemies or helped organize an international sporting event.

One of the few things that tie together Iowa winners Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee is that their opponents criticized their lack of foreign policy experience, expertise and general global gravitas. And it should be said that the punditocracy joined in, attacking Obama for foreign policy “gaffes” and Huckabee for going so far as to have joked about his lack of international expertise. Gaffe: Obama will talk to dictators. Gaffe: Huckabee said Pakistan was under martial law. Gaffe: Obama referred to the "president of Canada." Gaffe: Huckabee said he hadn't read an intelligence report that was eight hours old.

Former frontrunners Clinton and Romney honed in on foreign policy in the closing days of the Iowa campaign.

"It is tempting any time things seem quieter for a minute on the international front to think that we don't need a president who is up to speed on foreign affairs and military matters," Clinton said.

Continue reading this post ...

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January 4, 2008 8:40 AM

Northwest pollster named in New Hampshire push poll case

Posted by David Postman

Portland polling firm Moore Information has been named in a report by New Hampshire’s attorney general that looked into allegations of anti-Mormon push polls being used against Republican Mitt Romney. Attorney General Kelly Avottee named the firm run by Bob Moore as well as Western Wats, the firm Moore hired to do calling in New Hampshire. Jeff Mapes at the Oregonian says on his blog that he got this e-mail statement from Moore in response to questions about the New Hampshire case.

In 27 years of business, Moore Information has never, currently does not, nor will it ever engage in push polling. American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), provides definitional information on push polling. Moore Information adheres to the standards and ethics outlined by AAPOR for all survey research. Moore Information, Inc. is a public opinion research company, specializing in campaigns and public affairs, using standard sample sizes and methodologies. In accordance with standard industry practices, confidentiality agreements prohibit comment on specific surveys.

As Mapes points out, that leaves a lot of questions unanswered about what happened in New Hampshire. We have a brief report in today’s paper that says:

The attorney general's office had sought subpoenas of Moore-Information. But Moore-Information's attorney disputed the subpoena and objected to the deadline. An Oregon court has scheduled a hearing for Jan. 16, a week after the primary.

Moore is the most popular pollster among Washington Republicans. He was Dino Rossi’s pollster in 2004. He has also done work for Dan Satterberg’s prosecutor campaign, Attorney General Rob McKenna, Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders, the state House and Senate Republican committees and last year’s insurance industry-backed campaign to defeat Referendum 67.

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January 3, 2008 11:25 AM

UFOs, Two Buck Huck and the expectation game

Posted by David Postman

I take this from The Washington Post as good news:

Starting tonight, the Rulebook of American Politics gets thrown out, or at least seriously rewritten. As voters in Iowa head to caucuses to cast the first ballots in the 2008 presidential campaign, the one thing we know for sure is they're kicking off a process that will defy at least some of the conventions that have governed national elections for generations.

It’s always a good thing to throw out the rule book. Of course, with Iowa we learned yesterday the books are cooked in a way. And if the eve of the caucus brought stories about Iowa’s out-size influence, there’s a bit of a theme emerging today that what happens in Iowa may not be all that important after all.

Continue reading this post ...

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January 3, 2008 7:10 AM

Rep. Fromhold won't run again

Posted by David Postman

The Columbian reports this morning that Rep. Bill Fromhold, D-Vancouver, will not run for re-election.

He plans instead to become executive director of the Mentoring Advanced Placement (MAP) program, based in Vancouver. The nonprofit group has won a $13.2 million, five-year grant to boost enrollment across Washington in rigorous Advanced Placement math, science and English classes in high schools.

"It's a unique opportunity. To have something as directly focused and worthwhile, in my opinion, doesn't come along every day," Fromhold, 65, said Wednesday.

Fromhold is in his fourth-term representing the 49th District. He is chairman of the House Capital Budget Committee. The 49th is represented by three Democrats. Southwest Washington is likely to be a battleground this year. There is a newly appointed legislator in the nearby 18th, Jaime Herrera, who was appointed to replace Richard Curtis. And next door in the 17th, Rep. Jim Dunn is at odds with Republican leadership and may find himself with a primary challenge.

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January 2, 2008 1:37 PM

Atlas shuddered: A libertarian's critique of Ron Paul

Posted by David Postman

I was surprised by the cover of the latest issue of The New Individualist, a libertarian magazine that comes to the office from the Atlas Society.


Inside the magazine (not available online) is one of the most scathing reviews I’ve read of Ron Paul’s stands on the issues. And it comes from someone who’s not opposed to Paul’s libertarian philosophy. It’s the details that bother Stephen Green.

He only discredits the cause of liberty by associating it with his own weird and dangerous brand of utopianism.

And I find that abominable.

Green blogs as the “Vodkapundit” and describes himself as a libertarian, but only with the lower case “l”. In the article, he says Paul, a Republican congressman from Texas, “combines some of the worst instincts of the Republicans with some of the nuttiest ideas of the Libertarians.”

He goes after one of Paul’s key claims to being a different sort of politician. Green says that Paul has won earmarks in the federal budget, including for finding and marketing American shrimp. Paul says he’s never voted for anything not specifically authorized by the Constitution.

How does Paul justify the shrimp pork? Green says by getting the money into the budget but then voting against the budget on the floor of the House.

Green covers Paul’s stand on the economy, trade, immigration and foreign policy, which he hits at hardest. Paul preaches a strict policy of non-intervention, wants a quick withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and has been critical of domestic U.S. intelligence work.

It’s interesting too that when it comes to immigrants, he says, “The economic, cultural, and political situation was very different 100 years ago,” and thus open borders are no longer feasible. Yet he’s unwilling to admit that, just maybe, a high-tech, continental superpower of 300,000,000 people might require a foreign policy different from that of the fragile coastal nation of 3,000,000 farmers in George Washington’s time. In the weird world of Ron Paul, immigration policy should be permitted to change with the current political winds; but a retiring president set our foreign policy forever in stone in 1796.

Green says Paul's views are silly but ultimately dangerous.

The comparison between Paul’s view on immigration and foreign policy — one has to change with the times, the other doesn’t — was particularly interesting to read because I’ve thought that one of Paul’s big attractions this year is his consistent world-view. That’s what, in part, makes him look wacky to some. Most mainstream politicians pick and choose from the libertarian menu. Republicans may agree that the Endangered Species Act should be abolished, but how many think drugs should be made legal? Democrats would endorse the candidate’s Iraq plan, but not his desire to repeal Roe v. Wade.

Green has given a more strenuous reading to Paul’s platform than I have. But still, I sense that a lot of Paul’s supporters will not swayed by any perceived or proved inconsistencies. That doesn’t seem to cost other candidates their true believers, so why should it matter to what the editor of The Individualist calls the Ron-uluns or Paulistinians.

Green may have underestimated the movement that has allowed Paul to raise so much money. In a 2003 interview at an Ayn Rand fan site, Green was asked by The Atlasphere:

You’ve described yourself as a "small-L" libertarian. What do you think about the libertarian movement in the United States?

Green: Ah, there’s not a movement. Not really. Compared to, say, the Green party — which is very motivated, very well structured, and increasingly effective — there’s no libertarian movement. It’s like trying to herd cats. I mean, so much of what libertarians in general believe has to do with individualism.

You know, I don’t think we’ll ever make for much of a movement. I don’t mean we’re doomed to fail. But as a movement, no — I don’t see us ever becoming a major single force.

Paul’s backers do not yet represent a “major single force.” But somehow the great individualists have acted collectively to finance Paul’s long-shot campaign. W’ll see over the next few weeks of actual voting how long it can sustain itself.

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January 2, 2008 9:35 AM

This is what democracy looks like

Posted by David Postman

This must be what it feels like to find out on Christmas Eve that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. It turns out that tomorrow’s Iowa caucuses are run by arcane rules that enforce a system that is undemocratic and elitist and has Iowans playing bit parts while candidates and out-of-state campaign workers provide the fiction of an engaged electorate needed to feed the insatiable media.

And that’s just from what I read in this morning’s New York Times and Washington Post. Other commentators aren’t so restrained in their criticism of the “open corruption” that poisons the first round of voting in the 2008 presidential campaign. The Times reports on the front page:

Because the caucuses, held in the early evening, do not allow absentee voting, they tend to leave out nearly entire categories of voters: the infirm, soldiers on active duty, medical personnel who cannot leave their patients, parents who do not have baby sitters, restaurant employees on the dinner shift, and many others who work in retail, at gas stations and in other jobs that require evening duty.

As in years past, voters must present themselves in person, at a specified hour, and stay for as long as two. And if these caucuses are anything like prior ones, only a tiny percentage of Iowans will participate. In 2000, the last year in which both parties held caucuses, 59,000 Democrats and 87,000 Republicans voted, in a state with 2.9 million people. In 2004, when the Republicans did not caucus, 124,000 people turned out for the Democratic caucuses.

Continue reading this post ...

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January 1, 2008 9:30 AM

Happy New Year

Posted by David Postman

Here's hoping you all get the day off like I do, and that we all have a 2008 full of great political stories and debates. And if this story from the Washington Post is any indication, we're headed for interesting times.

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