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Postman on Politics

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

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April 30, 2008 3:45 PM

UPDATED: Demo state lawmaker charged with assault

Posted by David Postman

Rep. Geoff Simpson, D-Covington, was arrested Sunday and charged with domestic violence. He denies the charge.

From the AP:

Covington's prosecutor says Simpson is no longer in custody. He's been charged in King County District Court with fourth-degree assault and interfering with a domestic violence report.

The News Tribune political blog has a statement from Simpson's campaign:

This is an unfortunate situation for everyone involved. The end of a marriage is an emotional and trying time for any family, and mine is no exception. As a firefighter and first responder, I have witnessed the reality of domestic violence and provided care for many victims. As a state legislator, I remain strongly in support of erring on the side of protecting potential victims with our laws and their enforcement - even when, in situations like mine, it can result in unwarranted charges. I am confident that once the facts come to light I will be exonerated. I believe in our justice system and will continue to cooperate fully as this situation is resolved.

The news was apparently first reported at Will Kelley-Kamp, one of the writers there, recently took a break from writing at the liberal blog to become Simpson's campaign manager. Horsesass founder David Goldstein doesn't name any sources, but says he's been told:

No actual physical violence was alleged or observed, but state law apparently provides police officers little discretion under these circumstances, even when all parties involved do not want the arrest to happen.

Simpson represents the 47th, a swing district. His close win in 2000 helped put Democrats in a tie with Republicans in the state House. He is looked at by some as something of a Democratic hero. A liberal blogger Noemie Maxwell wrote at DailyKos:

Simpson's presence in the House changed Washington's political landscape in a big way. His win shifted the Democrat-Republican balance to a 49-49 tie, making for a dramatic year. The budget negotiations, for example, which went overtime in a year where legislators had to struggle with the shortfalls created by Eyman's disastrous I-695, would have resulted in a very different outcome if Republicans had had unrestrained control.

Simpson's win also changed my views of politics. I was in a distraught state over the war and the Bush administration and feeling isolated, angry, and intimidated. The mood around me was that, if you were against the war, you were unpatriotic. I was hostile to the Democratic Party, which had allowed our country to be sold out to the military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about -- and not a likely partisan volunteer. That began to change after I happened one day upon the text of House Memorandum 4008, Opposing a Preemptive Attack on Iraq. The prime sponsor was my own legislator, Geoff Simpson, and it occurred to me for the first time that a politician could be sincere. The text of this memorandum reads like a prophecy. Soon after, I discovered the local, grassroots Democratic organizations and began to learn from the people and experiences there that involvement in politics is not collusion with evil, but a way to bring citizen input into the process and make it cleaner.

UPDATE: House Clerk Barbara Baker put out this statement last night:

The House of Representatives takes criminal charges against any of the members very seriously - especially those of domestic violence. However, as an attorney, I am advising Speaker Chopp to thoroughly understand the details of this incident before requesting any official action from the institution.

I will be talking later this evening with the Speaker and other members of leadership about this unfortunate situation. Our next steps will be based on what we learn in the days ahead.

You can read the charging papers here. And here is the sheriff's report.

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April 30, 2008 11:42 AM

Suicide initiative leads spending

Posted by David Postman

An initiative campaign to legalize assisted suicide in Washington has raised and spent far more than any other ballot campaign this year. The Yes on 1000 committee has raised more than $800,000 and already spent $590,256, according to records filed with the Public Disclosure Commission. That’s a big chunk of the $854,000 spent so far by active ballot campaigns.

Of course, there aren’t many active campaigns at this point. There has been money spent by three campaigns: assisted-suicide Initiative 1000, its opposition campaign and Tim Eyman’s I-985. The major expenses so far for what backers of I-1000 call the death with dignity initiative have been for signature gathering to qualify the measure for the November ballot, postage, fundraising, commercial time on KIRO radio and consultants.

The opposition campaign has raised $32,000 and spent about $12,000

Rich Roesler has a story at the Spokesman about fundraising for I-1000.

With months left to go before Election Day, Washington’s Initiative 1000 has drawn cash contributions from all 50 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. Among them: more than 400 contributions from California, nearly 150 from New York and $215,000 from the Oregon group Death With Dignity.

Roesler has links to fundraising letters from former Gov. Booth Gardner, sponsor of I-1000, and the opposition, too.

On I-985, Eyman's transportation initiative, has raised about $315,000. and spent about $250,000. Eyman said yesterday he’s getting a $250,000 line of credit on his house and will loan that full amount to his campaign. He is asking supporters to donate money to pay back his loan.

I don’t see any money raised by an opposition committee to Eyman’s initiative. Has anyone heard of any effort to organize against 985? Or will Eyman get a free pass on this one?

The initiative would require the state to use general fund money for transportation improvements, including synchronizing traffic lights and increasing the budget for tow trucks to clear out accidents.

The freeway-hero approach to traffic congestion was part of former Gov. Gary Locke’s transportation plan in 1998. I remember thinking then that touting tow trucks in a transportation plan was classic Locke-ian micro-managing. That was one year before Eyman swept in with Initiative 695, which eliminated a major source of transportation funding for the state.

This year’s initiative would move existing tax money to pay for work on traffic lights, tow trucks and car pool lanes. That sort of fine-tuning could lead one to think our transportation problems must not be so bad. But we know otherwise.

What I-985 tells me is that almost 10 years after Eyman crowned himself the voice of the people, he is left to dabble in the minutia of state government. He’s fiddling and thinking small just like the politicians that paved the way for his ascendancy as the can-do citizen politician.

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April 29, 2008 2:52 PM

Seattle pair finalists in Obama contest

Posted by David Postman

A team of Seattle filmmakers are finalists in’s contest to find a TV commercial for presidential candidate Barack Obama. More Dust Than Digital Films’ submission, “Come Together,” is one of 15 finalists in the $20,000 contest.

You can watch it here.

The winner will be chosen by a panel of celebrity judges that includes Eddie Vedder, John Legend, Oliver Stone and Jesse Jackson.

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April 28, 2008 1:56 PM

Rep. McDermott pays $1 million to end legal fight

Posted by David Postman

The AP is reporting that Congressman Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, paid $1.09 million to House Minority leader John Boehner to end a long legal battle over an illegally taped phone call that McDermott leaked to the press.

The money is in addition to $64,000 in punitive damages McDermott paid Boehner in January.

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April 28, 2008 10:09 AM

U.S. high court says voter i.d. laws OK

Posted by David Postman

The U.S. Supreme Court today said states can require voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot. In a split ruling, the court upheld a Republican-sponsored law in Indiana. Democrats and voting rights groups challenged the law, saying it would discourage voting by poor, elderly and minority voters.

Election law expert Rick Hasen says the decision in Crawford v. Marion County Election board is a “significant win for those who support stricter voter identification laws, even if they support such laws for partisan purposes.” (Hasen filed a pro bono brief in support of the challenge to the law.)

He writes at his electionlawblog:

It will encourage further litigation, because it relegates challenges to laws imposing onerous burdens on a small group of voters to "as applied" challenges, but those challenges will be difficult to win. The lack of a majority opinion, moreover, injects some uncertainty into the appropriate standard for reviewing other challenges to onerous election laws.

Washington state plays into today’s decision in two ways. In the controlling opinion by Justice John Paul Stevens, it is clear that to defend a voter ID law there doesn’t need to be very strong evidence of past voter fraud. The Indiana law was designed to prevent in-person, voter impersonation fraud at polling places. But as Stevens himself made clear:

The record contains no evidence of any such fraud actually occurring in Indiana at any time in its history. Moreover, petitioners argue that provisions of the Indiana Criminal Code punishing such conduct as a felony provide adequate protection against the risk that such conduct will occur in the future. It remains true, however, that flagrant examples of such fraud in other parts of the country have been documented throughout this Nation’s history by respected historians and journalists, that occasional examples have surfaced in recent years, and that Indiana’s own experience with fraudulent voting in the 2003 Democratic primary for East Chicago Mayor —though perpetrated using absentee ballots and not in-person fraud—demonstrate that not only is the risk of voter fraud real but that it could affect the outcome of a close election.

And what is the evidence of the “occasional examples” that surfaced in recent years? As it says in footnote 12 today:

While the brief indicates that the record evidence of in-person fraud was overstated because much of the fraud was actually absentee ballot fraud or voter registration fraud, there remain scattered instances of in-person voter fraud. For example, after a hotly contested gubernatorial election in 2004, Washington conducted an investigation of voter fraud and uncovered 19 “ghost voters.” Borders v. King Cty., No. 05-2-00027-3 (Super. Ct. Chelan Cty., Wash., June 6, 2005) (verbatim report of unpublished oral decision), 4 Election L. J. 418, 423 (2005). After a partial investigation of the ghost voting, one voter was confirmed to have committed in-person voting fraud.

The evidence cited in the footnote for the one case is a story from the P-I.

There’s a local angle with more far-reaching effect, though. Today’s case follows a line of reasoning the court used recently in its recent decision upholding Washington’s top-two primary law. The court is making it clear that to successfully challenge an election law, petitioners have to be able to show actual damage. It’s not enough to say that a law appears to be unconstitutional or that it could disenfranchise voters - as the claim in today’s case - or political parties, as claimed in the top-two case. What the court calls facial challenges are not enough. The petitioners have to show constitutional violations as the law was applied.

Stevens wrote today that petitioners “bear a heavy burden of persuasion in seeking to invalidate (the law) in all its applications.”

This Court’s reasoning in Washington State Grange v. Washington State Republican Party, 552 U. S., applies with added force here. Petitioners argue that Indiana’s interests do not justify the burden imposed on voters who cannot afford or obtain a birth certificate and who must make a second trip to the circuit court clerk’s office, but it is not possible to quantify, based on the evidence in the record, either that burden’s magnitude or the portion of the burden that is fully justified. A facial challenge must fail where the statute has a “ ‘plainly legitimate sweep.’ ”

While the lawsuit that led to today’s decision had partisan roots, the mix of opinions in the split decision today could mute charges that the court issued a political decision. Stevens is generally considered among the court’s liberals.

Washington's voter identification law requires proof of i.d., but not a photo. Republican lawmakers have pushed for tougher requirements.

Olympia-based Evergreen Freedom Foundation filed an amicus brief in support of Indiana's law. EFF attorney Jonathan Bechtle issued a statement this morning that said:

This is a victory for everyone who cares about protecting the ballot box. I am thrilled that the Court upheld Indiana’s law. Now every other state, including Washington, will be able to confidently enact security measures like requiring voter ID and proof of citizenship to ensure only legal voters can vote.

In fact, the Court ruled in Indiana’s favor precisely because, as Justice Stephens wrote, ‘the application of the statute to the vast majority of Indiana voters is amply justified by the valid interest in protecting the integrity and reliability of the electoral process.

For another conservative view, read Michelle Malkin who declares it good news and says:

The race-mongers and open borders lobby will be in an uproar.

Liberals worry, though, about what the decision means for upcoming elections. At DailyKos, a writer says the ruling will open “the door to all sorts of harassment for minority, elderly and other traditionally Democratic voters.”

Bottom line, friends? The Great Disenfranchisement of 2008 has begun. These laws are not neutral, are not innocent, but are an attempt by Republican legislators to prevent traditionally Democratic voters from casting their ballots. We need to do whatever it takes to help all qualified voters obtain whatever records they need so that they can vote this November; we cannot let them win.

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April 28, 2008 8:55 AM

Teacher's union backs challenger for top school job

Posted by David Postman

The Washington Education Association has endorsed Rich Semler for Superintendent of Public Instruction. That’s a powerful group lined up against the re-election of Superintendent Terry Bergeson. Bergeson is running for a fourth term for the non-partisan position.

Bergeson was once president of the WEA, the state’s largest education union. But the union has grown unhappy with her, particularly over standardized testing.

Semler is superintendent of the Richland School District. In a statement released this morning, he said:

This endorsement represents the teachers who are on the frontlines educating our children. Together we will work to refocus Washington education from testing to a more balanced curriculum that embraces high standards yet respects individual student needs and desires.

Bergeson has raised $60,000 so far, according to records filed with the Public Disclosure Commission. Semler has raised almost $43,000.

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April 28, 2008 7:52 AM

In other news

Posted by David Postman

Women were flying Saturday night when Olympia's Cosa Nostra Donnas took on Seattle's Derby Liberation Front. The roller derby teams skated, shoved, crashed, jammed, pulled and blocked their way through an hour of an oh-so-close match at Olympia's Skateland.

Seattle won 99-97. But back to the flying. I swear I saw Olympia's Tannibal Lector leap over a competitor to make her way to scoring a point. And there were plenty of skaters flying against their will into the laps of the raucous crowd.

The crashes looked bad. But the women jumped up faster than I can get up from the couch.

This was my second time attending a roller derby match. Growing up I religiously watched the Bay City Bombers on TV, but I admit I wasn't paying attention to the finer points of the sport. But now I actually understand how the scoring works.

This was the first match since the Oly Rollers -- the parent team of the Cosa Nostra Donnas -- became members of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association. But no worry, that credential did nothing to smooth the rough edges of the game.

Saturday was one of the nicest days of the year and the sun was still shining when the doors opened at Skateland and long lines of people of all ages hustled in to get the best spots on the floor. The doors were left open and as the sun went down, it seemed the skating got rougher. At one point the penalty box was filled to capacity and violators had to wait their turn to sit out violations.

The half-time show was an exhibition match between two junior roller derby teams, the Kitsap Derby Brats -- "Don't let our cuteness fool you" -- vs. the Seattle Derby Brats. The girls are between nine and 17.

What does this have to do with politics? Well, the DLF's motto is:

Roller Derby.jpg Photo courtesy of Ron Smith.

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April 25, 2008 1:58 PM

What would a federally-approved blog look like?

Posted by David Postman

"The blogosphere is full of interesting information, and you love being able to leave comments and feedback. But how can you be sure the "facts" you're getting are legitimate? Gov Gab: Your U.S. government blog ( ) is the blog you can trust because it is brought to you by the Federal government . . ."

That is from the exciting new Gov Gab blog. And at the Kitsap Sun, Steven Gardner has a full review.

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April 25, 2008 11:30 AM

UPDATED: A superdelegate tires of the battle

Posted by David Postman

Washington State’s uncommitted superdelegates seem content to stay that way for a bit longer, at least according to this story by Ralph Thomas.

"I haven't changed my view at all that we should let the states play themselves out," said U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen of Lake Stevens.

But one superdelegate may be getting ready to do something, though I’m not sure what. Look at this from yesterday’s New York Daily News:

"It's time for us to end this," added Dwight Pelz, Washington State party chairman and undecided superdelegate. "The candidates are tearing each other apart, and it's not good for the party. I think we need to have a candidate."

I’ve asked Pelz if that means he’s ready to commit to a candidate. I'll let you know what I hear.

MORE: Pelz spokesman Kelly Steele says the chairman believes superdelegates should act to end the fighting. But he’s not ready to express a preference.

He does not think it’s fair for the chair of the state party to take sides while we’re still in the progress of choosing delegates.

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April 25, 2008 8:34 AM

End of an era

Posted by David Postman

Today is Dave Ammons’ last day as a reporter. After 37 years in the Olympia bureau of the Associated Press Ammons is leaving for a job with Secretary of State Sam Reed.

There are several events scheduled to celebrate Ammons’ career. The capital press corps will tip a few with him at the end of the day today. Later, the upper crust will fete him at the Temple of Justice.

He’s already written his last column. It’ll be in papers this weekend. But here’s a little preview of his take on what has happened to the Legislature over the years he has been watching:

Over time, can-do boldness gave way to a cycle of spending and retrenching, reflecting the boom-and-bust cycles of the economy. Ideas seemed to get smaller and forward movement more incremental, as both parties learned the political wisdom of caution. Vanilla became their new favorite flavor.

Chris Mulick wrote a tribute to Ammons in the Tri-City Herald. Ammons started in Olympia four years before Mulick was born. He says of Ammons:

He has been a loyal servant for consumers of news in Washington and elsewhere. And in these humble press houses he’s been the glue that’s seeped between each member of this rather independent fraternity and held it together. We've all been enriched by his years of service.

My favorite Ammons story is abuot when he met Ted Bundy when the serial killer was working for the state Republican Party.

"I remember telling people that this charismatic young man was going places," Ammons said. "Little did I know it was going to be the execution chamber."

The way I originally heard the story was Ammons returned from having coffee with Bundy one day and announced, “I just had coffee with a future governor of Washington.”

Good luck Dave. You'll be missed even though you're just moving across the street.

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April 24, 2008 7:59 AM

Away from the blog, but on TV

Posted by David Postman

I won't be typing at my blogging machine today. But you can get your fill of me on television.

Tonight at 7, TVW will air Inside Olympia. I was the guest host and had the honor of interviewing the regular, and departing, host, David Ammons. Ammons is the AP's longtime political reporter who's last day on the job is tomorrow. He then goes to work for Secretary of State Sam Reed.

We taped the show yesterday and it was pretty interesting. Ammons gives the ultimate insider's view of covering the Capital. He said some surprising things and it's definitely worth checking out tonight, on rebroadcast or on-line when it is available at TVW.

This afternoon I will be part of the roundtable for this week's KCTS Connects. The show airs Friday at 7:30 p.m.

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April 23, 2008 8:36 AM

Caution: Reading this could cause dizziness

Posted by David Postman

I didn’t watch or read anything last night about the Pennsylvania primary. Maybe I should have, because I would have dropped some Dramamine before reading the dizzying spin and analysis of Hillary Clinton’s big win last night. Or was it a big win? Or did she really win? Or is that really her name?

The once-boy genius Karl Rove summed up the Democratic race this way on Fox:

"The rule of proportionality means that the thing that allowed Barack Obama to get ahead, it is difficult for him to fall behind. It's also difficult for him to catch up."

Yes, so true. But if a man is looking at a picture of a man on the wall and states: Brothers and sisters I have none, but this man's father is my father's son. Who is the man in the picture in relation to the man looking at the picture?

The votes weren’t all counted last night before it was clear that the race between Clinton and Obama will go on. The Fix is headlined this morning:

Clinton Wins. Or Does She?
… At issue is whether ten points -- if that is indeed the final margin -- will provide Clinton with the required momentum (and money) for the New York senator as she looks forward to Indiana and North Carolina on May 6.

At Politico, Mike Allen has this handy round-up of the morning headlines:

N.Y. Post: "TAKE THAT! Hill slams Bam by 10 in Penn."

N.Y. Daily News: "HERE WE GO AGAIN! He won't win, she won't lose … "

N.Y. Times, 4 cols., 1 line: "Clinton Clearly Outduels Obama in Pennsylvania."

Newsday: "She's Still Got A Shot. But it's a long shot, as Obama retains strong lead in delegates, money."

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Clinton wins, the race goes on"

The A1 Philly Inquirer analysis is headed, "Obama still leads race, but the doubts remain."

Dan Balz, WashPost A1 analysis: "Decisive Win Can't Forestall A Daunting Task."

The Clinton campaign theme is now “The Tide is Turning.” That’s in at least three press releases this morning. Obama’s comeback is it’s a “fundamentally unchanged race.”

That’s what Josh Marshall sees.

I'd say the real story is that this leaves us basically where we were. It was a decisive win for Hillary but that was the expectation.

Remember when some Democrats said a tough primary battle between Obama and Clinton was good for Democrats? The big headline at The Huffington Post this morning is


That links to this New York Times story:

For better or worse — and many Democrats fear it is for worse — the race goes on.

Checking in with the partisans, at Daily Kos, the lead item in what is often unfriendly territory for Clinton says,

Forget the spin: the race is where it is. Clinton won Pennsylvania. …

What bothers me, however, is the increasingly insulting quality of the campaign and surrogate spin as each successive campaign day wears on. It is fine to celebrate a Pennsylvania win -- by all means, a victory is a victory, and a significant and hard-fought one at that -- but all I ask in politics is that the spinners of each camp try their best to not make it ITAL quite so obvious that they think the rest of us really are a spectacular new species of rubes, able to be led by the nose to whatever ridiculous and improbable conclusion would best benefit a particular camp.

Do any of you still think the Clinton/Obama battle is good for the Democratic Party?

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April 21, 2008 4:19 PM

A Seattle blogger peeks inside Obama's Pennsylvania campaign

Posted by Richard Wagoner

This post was written by Liz Burlingame, a student in UW professor David Domke's journalism class. More of the students' work can be found here.

PITTSBURGH - The man made a beeline to our car in the East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh as we exited, having just parked outside of Barack Obama’s campaign office. He was wearing a heavy, waterproof jacket with fleece lining, and sweat was pouring down his face. It was 80 degrees.

“Hi, I’m Bob,” he said, matter-of-factly. “I’m an Obama volunteer… and I’m homeless.”

Then he reached for our trunk, to help us open it.

The car alarm to our rental PT Cruiser went off and no amount of button mashing could silence it. (Later we found out we’d hit the panic button). Bob stood on the sidewalk repeating, “You ladies are hopeless.”

He might have been right.

Bob told me he was working office garbage duty that afternoon and pointed to the dumpsters in the alleyway.

“I can lift just about anything,” he said.

Continue reading this post ...

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April 18, 2008 5:11 PM

Welcome our guest bloggers

Posted by David Postman

I am going to be out of the office until Wednesday morning. While I'm away, you will find here posts from, the hard-working team of UW bloggers led by professor David Domke. Regular readers will recall their fine work we used here earlier in the primary season, including from Texas, Idaho and our own state's Democratic and Republican presidential caucuses.

Starting to tomorrow, you should see the group's reports from Pennsylvania in the final run-up to Tuesday's primary election there.

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April 18, 2008 3:27 PM

Tomorrow is an important day

Posted by David Postman

Tomorrow is national Record Store Day. That's a way to support independent record stores. And the stores will be saluting you - the buyers of music - with all sorts of things at local outlets.

The Stranger has a good roundup of happenings at local stores.

And if you’re in Olympia or passing through tomorrow, go by Rainy Day Records. We’re lucky to have those guys.

I bought a great CD at Rainy Day of Lee Fields, a 70s funk master. I also got a copy of The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend, the only album put out by Baby Huey and the Babysitters. For a no-lose purchase, get something by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. (Amy Winehouse may have borrowed a bit more from Jones than just her backup band.)

Another favorite purchase, though it was a year ago now, will get you double points if you buy it tomorrow because it is on a local label. Jamaica to Toronto: Soul, Funk & Reggae 1967-1974 is from Light in the Attic Records. If the reggae part of that scares you off, ask for a Betty Davis album from Light in the Attic.

Continue reading this post ...

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April 18, 2008 12:13 PM

Dinosaurs and robots, oh boy

Posted by David Postman

My blogroll is long gone. But back in the day I listed both the wonderful and well-read BoingBoing and a small one-man effort, Hooptyrides. Now Hooptyride’s Mister Jalopy and BB’r Mark Frauenfelder have teamed up on a fantastic blog, Dinosaurs and Robots. It’s about dinosaurs and robots and so much more. As they describe it:

Rather than focus on the newest trend, we will seek authentic, handy, rarefied, disgusting, illuminating, delicious, mysterious, intoxicating, commonplace, historic, intensely personal, entertaining and enlightened objects, both priceless heirlooms and exquisite trash.

Everything looks cooler on Dinosaurs and Robots. Check out these canned tomatoes. There is wonderful art, collections,, music, cars and even mysteries to be solved.

It often makes my day. Please enjoy.

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April 18, 2008 7:56 AM

Politics-free Friday

Posted by David Postman

Mike Seely has a great read in The Seattle Weekly about Lake City's hottest cover-band drummer. Seely does a great job of getting across the world of Fred Holzman -- from the tale of how antihistamine ruined his lunch to the economics of bar-room cover bands.

Holtzman.jpg (Photo of Holzman by Justin Dylan Renney, courtesy of The Seattle Weekly)

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April 17, 2008 5:31 PM

Former HP CEO stumps for McCain

Posted by David Postman

Former Hewlett Packard chairman and CEO Carly Fiorina, one of this year’s political celebrities, says Sen. John McCain has an opportunity to become 2008’s high-tech candidate.

That plays against type, I think, given the Clinton/Gore political bloodlines that successfully wooed much of the technology industry. But Fiorina, in Seattle today, said McCain has long supported key issues for the industry, including more visas for foreign workers, making a federal research and development tax break permanent, banning Internet sales taxes and opposing increases to the capital gains rate.

“I find it amazing the Democrats are proposing to double the capital gains tax rate,” she said. “Stock options are a critical part of what makes Silicon Valley go.”

In March, the Republican National Committee named Fiorina “Victory Chairman” for 2008. That covers the RNC’s presidential fundraising and get-out-the-vote efforts. She is a major surrogate for McCain on the campaign trail.

In recent weeks, McCain’s campaign has stressed his economic policies. But given that there is a looming recession in the final year of the Bush administration, doesn’t conventional wisdom say that the party in power will take the blame from worried voters?

I think you’d agree the conventional wisdom in this election has consistently been wrong. The conventional wisdom was that John McCain could never win the nomination. Secondly, I think what John McCain can do is continue to do what he is focused on in the last few weeks and talk to the American people about what he thinks is going on in the economy and what he intends to do to strengthen the economy. …

I’d put his understanding of the economy up against Obama’s or Clinton’s any time.

Fiorina said part of that economic plan is to maintain the Bush administration’s free trade policies. She said that provides a huge opportunity for McCain at a time when “Democrats are becoming so protectionist in their language.”

“They have blocked the approval of the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, which is a terrible step backwards,” she said. Free trade, she said, has been good for the high-tech industry and lowers prices for American consumers. But she said “companies have to be strong enough to compete.”

McCain supports retraining programs and other aid because he recognizes that some workers are hurt by free trade, she said.

But you can’t roll up the borders. As history demonstrates, becoming protectionist is one sure way to tip a recession into a depression.

McCain and Fiorina first connected in 2000 when the then-HP exec was lobbying for more visas for foreign tech workers. She thinks McCain has a moderate view on immigration.

I think Senator McCain won the primary because the voters rejected the extreme policies on immigration that some in the Republican Party were putting forward. John McCain has been very forthright in saying, ‘America is a country of immigrants, that immigration is important to our vitality and our prosperity as a nation. But he also believes we have to be a nation of laws so we have to know who is coming to the country. We can’t have a border that is totally open and we have to deal with people who come here and break the law.

I told Fiorina that there was plenty of commentary that suggested McCain strengthened his hand in the Republican primary season by getting tougher on immigration, not by sticking to his moderate position that was proven unpopular among the base.

She said that “when someone like Tom Tancredo is rejected as strongly as he was”, that is evidence Republicans were rejecting the extreme position.

This is highest political profile Fiorina has ever had. And it’s not all about McCain. In California she is talked about as a possible candidate for governor. And she is increasingly mentioned as a possible member of a McCain cabinet, or even as vice president on the McCain ticket.

I had read enough of her polite demurrals on those subjects not to ask whether she wants to be vice president - that’s up to McCain - or any other job in the future. (The job now is to get McCain elected.) But I did ask if all that talk becomes a distraction.

It’s only a distraction if people ask about it. And usually people ask once and they go on to the real meat.

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April 17, 2008 4:06 PM

What'd you think of last night's debate?

Posted by David Postman

I missed the broadcast of last night’s Clinton/Obama debate. I feel bad about that because it appears I missed a real important event in the annals of television. This stinker will be talked about for years, just like that episode of the Newlywed Game everyone over 40 claims to have seen.

Really, someone asked about American flag pins? ABC let that question on the air? For those of you who are routinely frustrated by my lack of opinions on the news, let me say this clearly: I don’t care about American flag pins. I didn’t care when news ethicists were unhappy that newscasters sported them post-9/11 and I don’t care which politicians wear them or don’t wear them or wear them on the wrong lapel, or whether female politicians wear big, bejeweled, American flags, or not. I wouldn’t care if the flag pins waved themselves and sang God Bless America. In fact, this may be one of my deepest held beliefs. I put effort into not caring. I can exhaust myself not caring.

ABC headlines the story, “Fight night in Philly,” so the network got what it wanted. But the hardest punches come in the 16,778 comments posted by readers at the ABC News Web site. Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos both come in for a pummeling. (And why didn’t Obama say anything during the debate about Stephanopoulos’ time with the Clintons? He could have started an answer with something like, “Well George, as you surely know from years working for the Clintons …”)

For a different take, see also where debate reaction is the top story with 100 comments.

The story that lead ABC’s Web site a few minutes ago was headlined, Clinton: ‘No whining from Hillary.’

"When I watched that debate last night, I got kinda tickled," the former President said at an American Legion Hall event in St. Mary's, Pennsylvania. "After the [debate], her opponents', oh, the people working were saying, 'Oh this is so negative, why are they doing this.' Well they've been beatin' up on her for 15 months. I didn't hear her whining when he said she was untruthful in Iowa or called her the senator from Punjab."

Stephanopoulos told The Associated Press:

The questions were tough and fair and appropriate and relevant. We wanted to focus at first on the issues that were not focused on during the last debates.

It’s enough to make me miss the snowman.

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April 17, 2008 11:20 AM

Dems say Sound Transit art is culturally insensitive

Posted by David Postman

Capitol Hill Democrats don’t want a New York artist’s kissing warplanes sculpture at their local Sound Transit station. The 43rd District Democrats passed a resolution this week protesting artist Mike Ross’ proposed hanging sculpture that would feature chopped and pink-painted fighter jets.

The Democrats say there “are many more culturally sensitive themes for public art in Sound Transit's Capitol Hill station instead of warplanes.” The resolution also said that given that the neighborhood is a “major hub of artistic activity,” Sound Transit should hire a local artist to decorate the planned underground station.

Janice Van Cleve, a precinct committee officer and coordinator, said that people also will send letters and e-mails “protesting the cultural insensitivity of Sound Transit to the Capitol Hill neighborhood.”

When the proposal was unveiled, Ross said he would arrange the planes in “a non-aggressive way” that would show two fuselages sort of kissing in the air.

How loud a message can the 43rd Democrats send? Well, their dislike of the Pledge of Allegiance has traveled far.

The Stranger’s Eli Sanders wrote earlier this month about the district caucus.

At the mere mention of doing the pledge there were groans and boos. Then, when the district chair put the idea of doing the Pledge of Allegiance up to a vote, it was overwhelmingly voted down. One might more accurately say the idea of pledging allegiance to the flag (of which there was only one in the room, by the way, on some delegate’s hat) was shouted down.

This week, that anecdote led the Sunday column of Jack Kelly, who writes for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio.

Kelly used it, with a mention that it is home to Congressman Jim McDermott, as a piece of evidence of what he says is the Democrat’s wrong-headed approach to the world. Other examples cited by Kelly included former President Jimmy Carter’s planned trip to Syria and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s move that stopped a vote last week on a free trade agreement with Colombia.

I'm not questioning the Democrats' patriotism. (They're doing a fine job of that all by themselves.) But Democrats do exhibit a disturbing tendency to subordinate the national interest to narrow partisan interests.

Wow, from Pennsylvania our little 43rd Democrats look as important as the House Speaker and a former president.

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April 17, 2008 7:48 AM

Clinton's new-found populism

Posted by David Postman

I wrote the other day about Hillary Clinton's new-found optimism in the United States. Well, it turns out that her love of regular folk may be something new, too. This is from the Huffington Post:

In January 1995, as the Clintons were licking their wounds from the 1994 congressional elections, a debate emerged at a retreat at Camp David. Should the administration make overtures to working class white southerners who had all but forsaken the Democratic Party? The then-first lady took a less than inclusive approach.

"Screw 'em," she told her husband. "You don't owe them a thing, Bill. They're doing nothing for you; you don't have to do anything for them."

The statement -- which author Benjamin Barber witnessed and wrote about in his book, "The Truth of Power: Intellectual Affairs in the Clinton White House" -- was prompted by another speaker raising the difficulties of reaching "Reagan Democrats." It stands in stark contrast to the attitude the New York Democrat has recently taken on the campaign trail, in which she has presented herself as the one candidate who understands the working-class needs.

The Clinton campaign says the quote was taken out of context.

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April 16, 2008 9:48 AM

Reichert, others, want Iraq to pay for rebuilding -- UPDATED

Posted by David Postman

Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, and Connecticut Republican Rep. Christopher Shays want Iraqis to pay for reconstruction of their war-damaged country. The two House moderates introduced a resolution yesterday that says

it is the sense of the House of Representatives that funding for future Iraq reconstruction initiatives and training of Iraqi security forces should come from Iraqi revenues, and if the government of Iraq cannot properly allocate and spend its revenues, any funding from the United States to Iraq for reconstruction and security training should be provided as a loan to Iraq.

The resolution says that Iraq earned $41 billion from oil sales last year and over $10 billion in the first two months of this year. Shays said in a statement:

It is unacceptable that Iraqis are accumulating billions of dollars in accounts from oil revenues and the United States spends billions of dollars on Iraq’s defense and economic development.

Reichert has been a strong supporter of the Bush administration’s Iraq strategy. But the resolution says that after the United States has spent more than $500 billion “to free the citizens of Iraq,” it’s time for the Iraqi government to lead the nation to “stability, peace and prosperity by paying for the reconstruction of their infrastructure.”

This appears to be a trend among Republicans in the House and Senate, with some Democrats joining the effort, too.

UPDATE: A spokesman for Reichert's Democratic challenger, Darcy Burner, says the "sense of Congress" resolution is an empty gesture. Sandeep Kaushik says by e-mail:

It is true that the costs of this war, which Congressman Reichert has enthusiastically supported at every step, to the American taxpayer are enormous -- more than $10 billion every single month. Every family of four in the district is already on the hook for $16,500, and that number grows daily. Meanwhile, gas prices are rising, our economy is sinking, and our military is being ground down. If we want to help the American taxpayer, the real path forward is to bring this war to a responsible close, which is why we have offered a detailed plan to do that. ... And it focuses on actually passing key pieces of existing legislation, not just mouthing platitudes or offering empty resolutions, which is why it has been endorsed by leading generals and national security experts, and by more than 50 House and Senate candidates around the country.

THURSDAY UPDATE: Reichert Chief of Staff Mike Shields says that more than half -- 54 percent to be precise -- of Burner's plan has been supported by Reichert. He said by e-mail:

Additionally, her plan is based upon and mentions throughout the Iraq Study Group. You may remember, Dave was an early proponent of the Iraq Study Group before it had even made its recommendations - and Darcy Burner attacked him at the time on his Iraq position. Further, Dave cosponsored legislation to make the ISG recommendations law in the House. How is this "empty platitudes?" Her plan calls for an immediate withdrawal of troops. Recently the Democrat Co-Chairman of the Iraq Study Group, Lee Hamilton, flat out said he thought that was a bad idea. Her plan then says we should pump more U.S. taxpayer dollars into the black hole that our leaving will create. This announcement by Reichert amounts to the opposite of that: keep troops there to provide security, and force Iraq to stand up its economy and pay its own way. That's a big difference in the two approaches.

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April 16, 2008 9:12 AM

Burner beats Reichert in '08 fundraising

Posted by David Postman

Even with help from First Lady Laura Bush, Congressman Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, trailed Democratic challenger Darcy Burner in first quarter fundraising for their 8th District race.

Reichert’s reports filed yesterday with the Federal Elections Commission show he raised $331,034 in the first three months of 2008. Burner raised more than $500,000.

Burner also has more money in the bank. She reported has $921,615 cash on hand, while Reichert has $698,035.

You can see Reichert's report here.

I originally posted an incorrect total for Reichert this morning. I had missed a transfer to Reichert's account of about $90,000, most of which came from the Laura Bush fundraiser.

Reichert's fundraising performance is troublesome, says Eric Earling. And it's cause for celebration at

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April 16, 2008 7:08 AM

Burner doubles Reichert's '08 fundraising

Posted by David Postman

Please see corrected post here.

In the first quarter of this year Democratic Congressional challenger Darcy Burner raised more than twice as much as incumbent Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn.

Reichert’s reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission show he raised $239,896 in the first three months of 2008. Burner raised more than $500,000.

Burner also has more money in the bank. She reported $921,615 cash on hand, while Reichert has $698,035. Overall the money race is closer. Reichert has raised $1.1 million so far this cycle and Burner has raised $1.3 million.

You can see Reichert's report here.

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April 15, 2008 2:24 PM

Gregoire and other officials tell NBA to keep Sonics here

Posted by David Postman

Gov. Chris Gregoire and other state and local leaders sent a letter to NBA Commissioner David Stern today, asking him to stop the Sonics from moving to Oklahoma at least until all the legal issues surrounding the issue can be resolved.

The letter is an attempt to "to express our united support for NBA basketball in Seattle." But Seattle Mayor Greg Nickles didn't sign the letter. It was signed by Gregoire, House Speaker Frank Chopp, Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, King County Executive Ron Sims and City Council President Richard Conlin.

The letter says:

Continue reading this post ...

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April 15, 2008 11:36 AM

Burner breaks 500K in '08 fundraising

Posted by David Postman

Democrat Darcy Burner's campaign says that her first quarter reports with the Federal Elections Commission will show she raised more than $500,000 so far this year. The campaign says that will put her first among Congressional challengers in western states and among the top nationwide.

The filings will show that Burner has raised $1.3 million since starting her second run at Congressman Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, and she has $921,615 in the bank. In her first run, Burner raised $334,000 in the first quarter of 2006. Her fast fundraising this time has put her ahead of the inumbent in the money race and has already chased off a Democratic primary opponent.

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April 15, 2008 8:40 AM

Another Democrat not yet ready to approve Colombia deal

Posted by David Postman

Congressman Brian Baird, D-Vancouver, has serious concerns about the pending free trade deal with Colombia. Baird said that while the Colombia Free Trade Agreement has been improved, he says reports of violence against labor leaders in the country must be stopped. And he is unwilling to vote for the trade pact until that happens.

It is my understanding that the government of President Uribe has taken important steps to address this, but killings still occur and this is deeply upsetting not only to those who care about labor, but for all individuals who are concerned about human rights and the rule of law everywhere.

Currently, U.S. produced goods face tariffs when being sold in Colombia, but most Colombian goods cross our borders tariff-free. The proposed agreement would eliminate tariffs on U.S.-made goods, thus leveling the playing field for American-made products. Overall, the agreement has a number of positive elements that would improve the status quo, but serious concerns about the safety of labor and political leaders are not yet sufficiently addressed.

You can see here where other Democrats stand on the deal. Republicans in the delegation support it and pushed for a vote last week.

MORE: Congressman Rick Larsen responds as well today, saying he supported the move to delay a vote, but on the specifics he's still unsure what he'd do if it comes back before Congress this year.

We need to make sure Congress is taking care of economic relief for Americans first. Congress must move quickly to pass a second economic stimulus package to get our economy back on track.

I am carefully considering the Colombia FTA and I look forward to having a vote before the end of President Bush’s term.

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April 14, 2008 1:42 PM

Clinton's new-found optimism

Posted by David Postman

I couldn’t sleep Friday night and got up to watch a little television. The set was tuned to CNN and even not yet fully awake I could tell the news network was in full froth; I just didn’t know what for. The talking heads were quite excited about something Barack Obama had said. It was a gaffe, a misstep, a statement that likely would need an apology and was already under attack by his opponents. But I couldn’t figure out what Obama had said.

That’s because as so often in the news business these days, the news is considered old from the moment it happens. To be “timely,” news organizations - including my own - feel they have to “move” a story forward. So instant analysis, reaction and “what happens next” often take the place of even a semi-sober re-telling of what actually happened.

CNN was in full Brady Bunch mode - correspondents and pundits filling little boxes on the screen - when the network finally got around to telling us latecomers what Obama had said. And in case you missed it, this is what he said, according to the Huffington Post.

"You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them," Obama said. "And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

What knocked me out of somnolence, though, was hearing the statement Hillary Clinton issued in response:

Continue reading this post ...

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April 11, 2008 5:37 PM

Washington Dems unsure of Colombia trade deal

Posted by David Postman

Democrats in Washington’s Congressional delegation run from cold to lukewarm on the pending trade deal with Colombia. I wrote yesterday about Republican support for the deal, and efforts to get House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to schedule a vote on the agreement.

But even among Democrats with pro-trade credentials, the Colombia deal is finding only the weakest support. And it is being seen from some corners as an important showdown with President Bush.

Sen. Patty Murray has voted for every free trade agreement that has come to the Senate since she took office, said her spokeswoman, Alex Glass. On Colombia, Glass said:

She does have some serious concerns surrounding Colombia, but a decision has not yet been made.

Sen. Maria Cantwell wants to see Trade Adjustment Assistance expanded and has concerns about the specifics of the Colombia deal, said spokeswoman Ciaran Clayton:

Columbia must do more with the International Labor Organization (ILO) and other international organizations to improve protection of human rights and the rule of law. Colombia has made some progress in this area but more must be done.

In the House, Seattle Rep. Jim McDermott, who visited Colombia last fall, said in a statement that President Bush knew that a vote on the deal was predicated on expanding trade assistance.

He tried to jam it down our throats, which is typical Bush bullying. He doesn’t know how to negotiate and he thinks he still has a Republican rubber-stamp Congress. Those days are gone.

Rep. Norm Dicks of Bremerton thinks the Colombia deal was improved last year, and he generally supports free trade agreement. But, said spokesman George Behan,

Norm has stated to our leadership and others that he is "undecided" on Columbia, and he was supportive of the rule change yesterday that postponed House consideration of the bill. Bush's referral of the FTA this week was a merely a way to play politics with the issue, and Speaker Pelosi found a way within the law to use the issue as leverage at a time when he has been intransigent on EVERY major congressional priority. The reality (which Bush has to admit) is that Columbia FTA would have likely been defeated this week if Pelosi brought it to a vote. If he (and Hastings, Reichert, really wants Columbia FTA, they are better off if it is postponed and considered later. Either way, we think the protest is a little hollow, and this is a great example of Congress demonstrating that it is a co-equal branch.

Tacoma Rep. Adam Smith is “leaning in favor,” said spokesman Derrick Crowe.

He still has some reservations, mainly centered around questions as to how well Colombia is protecting their labor organizers. But, were the trade agreement to pass, we’d have more leverage against any violations since labor protections are included in the core of the agreement. He’s still trying to learn as much as he can.

Bainbridge Island Rep. Jay Inslee’s spokeswoman, Christine Clapp, said the congressman did not yet have a position on the agreement. She said he was “still considering the merits and flaws of the agreement.”

I haven’t been able to connect with Rep. Brian Baird of Vancouver or Rep. Rick Larsen of Lake Stevens. But I’ll add their thoughts Monday.

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April 11, 2008 1:34 PM

Sonics fans take over Gregoire rally

Posted by David Postman

The Seattle Weekly has a video report about what happened yesterday when a bunch of Sonics fans packed a Chris Gregoire campaign rally.

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April 11, 2008 12:41 PM

Dave Ammons to leave AP

Posted by David Postman

Veteran capital reporter Dave Ammons of The Associated Press will leave his post after 37 years to take a job with Secretary of State Sam Reed. Ammons began his stint in Olympia in the summer of 1971. He just came in to tell us the news.

I'm stunned because it is hard to imagine this place without Dave. He is the "good Dave" that keeps the world in balance. He said the decision was a hard one to make. It'll be tough for those who can't rely on his institutional memory and constant good humor and positive attitude.

More later, before he makes the jump. But good luck to Dave in his new job as Reed's communications director.

That's Ammons on the far right at the Senate press desk during the Legislative session. (Photo by Senate photographer Dick Baldwin.)

And here's a column I wrote about him in 2001.

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April 10, 2008 11:03 AM

D.C. eyes Murray as Byrd ails

Posted by David Postman

There is a small flurry of stories out of D.C. looking at the future of Sen. Robert Byrd and what that could mean to his protege, Washington Sen. Patty Murray.

Politico says the stories “were floated” because of “agitation in the party’s ranks over whether the West Virginian would be able to manage an upcoming wartime spending bill.”

Senate Democrats keep muttering about their 90-year-old chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Sen. Robert C. Byrd, but no one wants to bell the cat.

Murray has more senior Democrats ahead of her in terms of who would become chairman if Byrd stepped aside, or got shoved aside. Politico says she’s “far enough down the line that she isn’t a threatening figure” to Byrd.

“Sen. Byrd has meant so much to the Senate,” she said. “We all owe him respect for that and allow him to make his decisions.”

In comments to CQ Politics, Murray made it clear she was not interested in pushing Byrd to do anything.
“We’re all doing our job so that he can do his,” Murray said. “The future role of Sen. Byrd will depend on Sen. Byrd.”

But if someone has to step in to manage that war spending bill, it likely will be Murray. CQ Politics says:

Murray, a former chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, came to the forefront last year when she was selected to be floor manager of the Homeland Security appropriations bill, which was drafted by the subcommittee Byrd chairs. The bill was later wrapped into an omnibus (PL 110-161). She also helped manage the previous war supplemental (PL 110-28).

At the time, senior Democrats said Murray had been selected for the showcase role because of her standing as a party leader, her seniority on appropriations and her close ties to Byrd.

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April 10, 2008 9:06 AM

Court says state can force-feed inmates

Posted by David Postman

A state Supreme Court deeply divided over the Washington Constitution’s right to privacy ruled this morning that prison officials can force-feed inmates who refuse to eat or drink.

The court was ruling on an appeal filed by Charles R. McNabb who was force-fed at the Airway Heights Corrections Center near Spokane in 2004. He had not eaten voluntarily for more than five months before that while in the Spokane County Jail. But at Airway Heights, prison staff force-fed him through a tube in his nose for several days. After that, McNabb resumed eating voluntarily.

McNabb sued the state, saying it was his right to refuse nutrition and to let his fast “to take its course.”

The Department of Corrections argued that it had compelling reasons to force food and nutrition to keep McNabb alive.

The lead opinion, upholding a Court of Appeals decision, was written by Justice Mary Fairhurst and signed by justices Susan Owens, James Johnson and Bobbe Bridge, acting as a pro-tem.

Fairhurst wrote that the state constitution’s privacy provisions in Article I section 7 does give someone the right to refuse force-feeding. But in McNabb’s case, the state’s interest in keeping him alive “outweigh his right to refuse artificial means of nutrition and hydration.”

In the words of McNabb, "'[m]y only wish is for my personal decision not to eat to be respected and to be left in peace for my fast to take its course.'" Br. of Appellant at 2 (quoting CP at 7). Therefore, death resulting from McNabb's refusal of artificial means of nutrition and hydration will consummate his intent to die. Under these circumstances, the State has a compelling interest in preventing McNabb's intentional death. …

We find that McNabb has a limited right of privacy as an incarcerated individual but the State's interests in orderly administration of the prison system, preservation of life, prevention of suicide, and maintenance of the ethical integrity of the medical profession outweigh McNabb's limited right.

Justice Barbara Madsen wrote a concurrence saying agreeing with the result of the lead opinion but disagreeing with the balancing test Fairhurst spelled out.

Prisoners who are otherwise healthy have no right to refuse artificial means of nutrition and hydration in an effort to end their lives.

The extraordinary intervention in this case was initiated only when medical staff issued a written determination that McNabb's health was threatened. McNabb has no right to starve himself to death by refusing sustenance while in the custody of the State -- this is not a privacy right that citizens of the state hold or expect to hold.

The concurrence was also signed by Chief Justice Gerry Alexander and justices Charles Johnson and Tom Chambers.

Justice Richard Sanders dissented, saying that McNabb had the right to refuse nutrition. He says force-feeding is a “practice tantamount to torture.”

The lead opinion incorrectly frames the privacy interest at stake as the right to suicide. This case is no more about the right to suicide than Lawrence v. Texas, … was about the right to sodomy. Rather, this case is about "the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men," namely, "the right to be let alone."

Even more disturbing than the lead opinion's "balancing" of our privacy right against some majoritarian government bias is the concurrence's conditioning our right to privacy on the existence of a terminal illness. Concurrence at 1. The right to bodily integrity, the inner sanctum of all that is "private," is absolute under our state constitution; there is no basis to conclude terminally ill people have any superior right to bodily integrity than nonterminally ill people. The concurrence's notion to this effect is abhorrent to our tradition of equality. …

By extension, does this mean the State could force a woman with a life-threatening pregnancy to submit to an abortion? Or could the State force an inmate who contracted lung cancer after years of smoking to undergo chemotherapy? Technically, both of these "conditions" were "set in motion" by the individual. And yet, forcing an abortion or cancer treatment upon an inmate is unthinkable to most. Likewise, since the State's interest in preventing suicide is based on theological doctrine, its constitutional validity is questionable.

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April 9, 2008 3:15 PM

Reichert pushes for vote on Colombia trade deal

Posted by David Postman

Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation want Democrats to join them in protesting Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s move to put off a vote on a Colombia free trade agreement.

A letter to Pelosi was circulated among the delegation by Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, just back from a weekend trip to Colombia. Republicans Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Doc Hastings signed the letter that says:

Free trade is critical to our state’s economy and workers. We represent the most trade-dependent state in the nation. … Delaying free trade agreements signals to our allies that America is closed for trade, and encourages our rivals to exploit new markets. This is unequivocally the wrong message to send in this time of economic uncertainty.
No Democrats have signed on. Reichert says if the situation were reversed, he’d be willing to help Democrats. He issued a statement today saying:
Many times when Republicans were in the majority, my colleagues would call on me to go to my leadership to help the state, for instance when we learned of language that would allow supertankers onto Puget Sound. Today, I urge all of my colleagues in the Washington delegation - including Governor Gregoire - to join together and reject the Speaker’s effort to shelve this vital measure.

President George Bush has been pushing Congress to approve the deal. And as recently as last week, it appeared a vote could be taken soon in the House.

Continue reading this post ...

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April 9, 2008 1:05 PM


Posted by David Postman

I am moderating a panel discussion next week that looks to be an interesting mix of politics, business and technology. It will be next Wednesday night, the 16th, and is sponsored by the MIT Enterprise Forum of the Northwest. That’s a non-profit group that is affiliated with alumni group of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

They’re calling the dinner and discussion event: Campaign Technology 2.0: Today's Tools, Tomorrow's Opportunities. On the panel will be consultants Cathy Allen and Christian Sinderman, Newsvine CEO Mike Davidson, and Trace Anderson, founder of BlueUtopia. (It’s a Democratic group this time. For future reference, please send me the names of local Republican tech-savvy operators.)

The event is in Bellevue and begins at 5 p.m. You can get all the details here.

If theater is more your style, TVW founder and former governor’s chief of staff Denny Heck is making three appearances around western Washington in his one-man play, Our Times. The play is set in the future and is about an elderly Heck responding to a student’s question about major Washington state political events and people during Heck’s time in Olympia.

He sold out five performances in Olympia earlier this year. You can read a review here. All the proceeds go to charity. You can get tickets by contacting Heck at this e-mail address.

The performances are Sunday April 13, Seattle’s ACT Theatre at 2 p.m.; Wednesday April 16 at Olympia’s Capitol Playhouse at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday April 26th at Vancouver’s Columbia River High School at 7:30 p.m. You can call the Vancouver School District Foundation for tickets at the Vancouver show only at 360-313-4730.

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April 9, 2008 9:43 AM

Correcting the record

Posted by David Postman

One of the participants in David Goldstein’s podcast and Nazi jokefest last week says I seriously mischaracterized part of the discussion at last week’s Drinking Liberally. I said the panelists were asked if they agreed with Goldstein’s theory that the Building Industry of Washington’s criticism of mainstream environmentalists’ reaction to the Street of Dreams arson was projection “because the builders had done the arson themselves.”

I listened to the podcast again this morning and Rosenberg has a point. After Goldstein spells out his theory - which he told me later was meant as a parody - that the BIAW set the fires in Snohomish County, he says:

I want to go around the table; yes or no on this one. The BIAW accusing environmentalists of Nazism; projection?

The answers were “yes,” “nein,” “yeah, probably,” “yeah, a little,” and from Goldstein, “It’s projection. They are a bunch of Nazis.”

I stand corrected. The panelists were not asked if they thought the BIAW were arsonists. They were asked if they thought the BIAW were Nazis.

Rosenberg repeats some of what Goldstein said here last week about the inherent parody and satire I missed. But he also thinks there’s a serious point to be made. He writes at EFFin’ Unsound:

This was obviously meant to be funny, but I do think there’s a certain amount of truth to looking at the question in that light. If you’re going to have some basis for determining who the real “Nazis” are in a society, the best way is to see which people are more able to tolerate injustices against other subsets of the population. I have trouble believing that the BIAW would care in the slightest if they were profiting from something that was wholly unjust. Maybe they have examples from their past that would prove me wrong, but from what I’ve seen, I doubt it. It may or may not be projection (which was why I gave kind of a “sort of” answer to Goldy’s question), but the BIAW certainly has an odd persecution complex that quite transparently leads to inclinations to persecute others.

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April 8, 2008 8:21 AM

A magazine ranking the governor won't be touting

Posted by David Postman

Dan Savage points us to this in Popular Mechanics.

After an earthquake in 2001 damaged the Alaskan Way Viaduct, a traffic artery in Seattle, inspectors found that some supports had subsided 5 in., weakening the structure. Options included fixing the elevated roadway and replacing it with a tunnel or improved surface roads. There’s still no decision. Meanwhile, as many as 110,000 vehicles travel on the compromised structure each day.

The viaduct is No. 5 on the magazine's list of “The 10 Pieces of U.S. Infrastructure We Must Fix Now."

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April 8, 2008 7:42 AM

Dems to nominate candidates at conventions

Posted by David Postman

State Democrats say they will hold a series of nominating conventions to anoint their chosen candidates for the August primary. That’s the party’s attempt to have its members pick candidates after the U.S. Supreme Court decision that authorized the state to hold its first “top-two” primary.

Under the new state primary, the top two vote getters advance to the general election, regardless of their party identification. In Seattle, that would likely mean two Democrats facing off in some legislative races in November.

Secretary of State Sam Reed has said the Democratic and Republican parties cannot designate a chosen candidate on the primary ballot, even if they hold nominating conventions. But the party-backed candidates can list that in the voter’s pamphlet.

In May Democrats will hold legislative district, county and congressional district nominating conventions. Statewide candidates will be nominated at the state convention in June. According to the Democratic Party:

The votes at these Conventions shall be cast by elected and appointed Precinct Committee Officers (PCOs). Each Nominating Convention will nominate one Democrat for each partisan office, by majority vote. This is not an endorsement meeting, there is no two-thirds rule, and there will be no dual nominations.

At The Olympian, Brad Shannon had the scoop on the Democrats’ plans in yesterday’s paper. He said not all Democrats are happy with the new role for precinct committee officers.

That's because party rules require that local precinct officers must take sides — which means Thurston County's PCOs must favor either Sandra Romero or Jon Halvorson in the county commissioner race, for example.

The two Democrats are facing off for the seat Commissioner Diane Oberquell is vacating after two decades; Republican Rob Edmondson and Independent Jackie Joe Reid also are running.

"I think it makes it more difficult. It makes our party potentially more divided," Thurston Democratic Chairman John Cusick said of the requirement to pick a candidate. "We have great support for both candidates; different people support the candidate of their choice."

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April 7, 2008 4:17 PM

Gregoire skips the coffee klatch on way to announcing re-election

Posted by David Postman

I went to Auburn this morning hear Gov. Chris Gregoire kick off her re-election campaign. That’s her hometown. If you didn’t know that, you’d find out on the way into town: it’s proudly proclaimed on the city limit signs.

Her first stop was the Rainbow Cafe, where Gregoire’s mother worked when the governor-to-be was growing up as the only child of a single mom.

The Rainbow is made for these sorts of events. It’s on Main Street, which hasn’t been the main street for decades. The paint behind the neon sign is tired. The diner has been here for 75, 80 or more years, depending on which of the old-timers holding up an the diner counter you choose to believe. You know those guys - complaining about the coffee as they drink their sixth cup, proposing marriage to the waitress and telling Rainbow owner Mike Fawcett to get a real job. (He already has two. He's a Seattle fireman and owns the restaurant with his wife, Shelley.)

“This used to be the only place to come. On Friday nights you couldn’t get in the door,” said Hoppy, the 78-year-old at the counter who figured if that name was good enough to be embroidered on his Auburn Chevrolet windbreaker, it was good enough for The Seattle Times.

The Rainbow has such good diner-cred that a videographer for the Gregoire campaign patrolled through the morning regulars, getting close-ups of Hoppy and his pals Dick Kammeyel and Ken Bradford, the Fawcetts and their daughter, Morgyn, as well as of the milkshake machine and a plate full of hot bacon and eggs.

Kammeyel was there because he’s there every morning. He knew Gregoire’s mother when she cooked at the Rainbow and was excited to see the governor come in.

“You’ll see, she’ll not only recognize me she’ll give me a big, old hug,” he said.

Clearly, this was a perfect place for Gregoire to begin her second campaign for governor and steer away from what she thought she did wrong in 2004 that put her in a dead-heat with Republican Dino Rossi.

“I don't think in the end voters ever really got to know Chris Gregoire,” Gregoire said about herself after the record-close ’04 election.

“People want to know that they can have a governor who is good on policy and is competent. But they also want to know that they can have a governor that they can relate to. I’m a mom. I’m a spouse. I’m a breast-cancer survivor. I came from very humble beginnings. I’m the first in my family to have gone to college. And I’ll bet most people don’t know much of any of that today.”

In the Rainbow this morning, we all turned as the windows of the diner were suddenly filled by the huge, bio-diesel Gregoire for Governor bus lumbering down Main Street. But it didn’t stop out front. Gregoire didn’t get out and jog into the diner to shake hands and hug old-timers.

The bus pulled around back. Gregoire came in a back door into a room filled with her staffers, campaign supporters and reporters. There were no plans to make an appearance in the Rainbow proper.

That seemed like a lost opportunity. And not just a photo opportunity, either. Gregoire needed to make her kickoff about her, about her character and personality and family and sense of community. Those are all the things she said voters didn’t get from her last time.

Yes, she has to talk about her accomplishments as governor. Certainly, after four years that’s part of the campaign launch. But maybe day two, or the second half of her first speech. But in the back room of the cafe, and later at an Auburn business where the audience was heavily seeded with union members, Gregoire seemed almost uncomfortable talking about herself, and over eager to get into the hard shots at Rossi.

Here’s how she opened her speech - and her re-election - at Zones Inc.

“This is a very, very important election for us here in this state and across the nation. As we begin to think about our country, we’re at a real crossroads and we’ve got a real choice to make. The fact of the matter is, if you want a governor in this Washington who will be an echo chamber for the federal policies and the Bush administration in the other Washington, I am not your candidate.”

“I am not your candidate” doesn’t strike me as a great opener. She did mention that she was raised by a single mom and talked about sitting on a stool in the kitchen of the Rainbow and watching her mother work.

She said they faced hard times. But she didn’t describe what that meant. Did it mean she didn’t get new clothes for school when other kids did? Was the house heated? Did they put water in the soup and Hamburger Helper into the ground beef?

God knows I don’t want to start thinking like an editor. But I can imagine what one of them would say: Don’t just tell us you had hard times, describe what life was like. This isn't to be maudlin or overly-dramatic. But to flesh out a life that too few voters know.

My favorite part of the speech was where Gregoire said she went to college thinking she’d be a pharmacist because the local Auburn druggist - impressed by the young Christine O’Grady - had convinced her that even that lofty perch could be hers. And that was the path, she said, “until I met science.”

That sounds all so real.

Gregoire said she tells her daughters, “We don’t just live in any old state, we live in the great state of Washington.” That to me sounded more like a proposed state slogan rejected right before “Say WA” more than it does something you’d say to your kids. (Of course I may be jaded on this by having two boys who have been merciless about any attempt by me to tell them anything inspirational.)

Gregoire delivered the speech well. She appeared committed to her agenda, and the quickness with which she drew a target on Rossi showed she would have her dukes up for any Republican shots. She showed a mastery of issues.

She played on Barack Obama’s message of hope by saying that she was the optimistic candidate who could bring hope to Washington while Rossi was all about being negative. (Meanwhile, Rossi has played on Obama’s message of change, saying that he would represent a sea-change after six terms of Democratic governors.)

But as her kick-off tour continues and the campaign unfolds, I think Gregoire needs to look for more Rainbow Diners. And next time she should come in the front door and sit a spell.

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April 7, 2008 1:07 PM

On Ellen Craswell

Posted by David Postman

When I heard this morning that former Sen. Ellen Craswell had died I thought back to her 1996 campaign for governor. That’s how I came to know her. And I will always remember how at ease she was in discussing her Christian faith.

This is from a 1995 Seattle Times magazine story that introduced Craswell to many voters:

Although she'll talk about more than her Christian agenda - she has positions on property rights, welfare reform and government regulation that will appeal to a broad range of voters - she's also willing to confide that she's just sent a quickie "arrow prayer" heavenward, asking God to help her discuss her faith honestly, in a way that honors the Lord.

Everything in her life in one way or another is a reflection of God, she says. And He's a God who sweats the details.

When the circulation of her "Family In Touch" newsletter grew to the point that production deadlines were threatened, she prayed for a machine to fold the pamphlets. Not long afterward, a friend with a print shop donated just such a contraption, which Craswell took to be, literally, divine intervention.

"God provided a folding machine!"

The story was written by Mark Matassa. Craswell liked that story so much she had her staff copy it and hand it out at campaign events. She and Matassa formed an unlikely friendship over that story. After I let Mark know today that Craswell had died, he wrote about her at the blog he co-writes.

She was an old (75 when she died on Saturday), very conservative, very religious retired politician without much humor or even common cultural references. She didn't see movies or watch TV, and didn't read much of anything except the Bible. In her political career she wanted more religion in schools, softer laws against child abuse and, most famously, castration for sex offenders -- views that I, as a voter, probably wouldn't support. Yet I considered her an exceptionally warm person, a terrific journalistic subject and, finally, a sort of long-distance friend.

… Anyway, like a lot of people, as I got to know Ellen I was totally disarmed by her sincerity and her lack of pretension. I've known a lot of politicians and a lot of religious zealots and I have to say that, whatever one may think of her beliefs, she was the most honest of the lot. There wasn't an ounce of charlatan in her. She didn't even have the good sense -- or the trickster ability -- to soft-pedal her wackier ideas when a reporter was following her around with a notebook and tape recorder.

Read the whole thing here.

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April 7, 2008 8:02 AM

GOP says Gregoire uses state money to boost campaign

Posted by David Postman

The state Republican Party wants an investigation of Gov. Chris Gregoire for “repeatedly using public funds to campaign for reelection.” Party chairman Luke Esser filed a complaint Friday with the Public Disclosure Commission alleging:

Gov. Gregoire has spent over a hundred thousand taxpayer dollars on political polls, focus groups, campaign rallies and public relations contracts awarded to political donors, all of which are clearly campaign activities.

Gregoire officially kicks of her campaign later this morning. But she has been raising money for her re-election campaign since 2005, her first year in office.

The complaint cites three specifics:

  • A poll done for the Washington Learns Commission with wording “identical to the questions asked by nearly every political campaign survey.”
  • The governor’s six-city listening tour last year that included town hall meetings and focus groups with voters;
  • The governor’s hiring of a PR consultant for nearly $20,000 to examine the governor’s office communications strategy. The contract went to a donor and supporter of Gregoire’s.

Gregoire spokesman Aaron Toso called the charges “old news.”

Gov. Gregoire is interested in listening to the people of Washington state, it is unfortunate that Mr. Esser would rather have his governor ignoring citizens.

If you want to watch Gregoire's kickoff speech ,there will be a webcast here at 11:00.

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April 4, 2008 3:35 PM

Blogger uses Nazi "satire" to poke at builder's group

Posted by David Postman

David Goldstein has been pretty whipped up by the Building Industry Association of Washington official who claims environmentalists echo conservationist themes from Nazi Germany. As Goldstein wrote last week at

As a Jew whose entire extended family in Eastern Europe was exterminated by the Nazis, along with most of the rest of European Jewry, I take personal offense at efforts to diminish Hitler’s historically unparalleled war crimes in the service of rank political partisanship.

He called the BIAW hateful and insane.

What then to make of Goldstein’s own rant this week? He called the builder’s lobby “a bunch of Nazis” and said he suspects the group of setting the fire in Snohomish County arson that burned down homes in the “Street of Dreams” development?

Continue reading this post ...

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April 3, 2008 8:46 AM

Distorting Nazi history to attack environmentalists

Posted by David Postman

Before you read this post please read the article on page 8 of the March issue of Building Insight, the newsletter of the Building Industry Association of Washington. It is titled:

Hitler's Nazi party: They were eco extremists

The article is written by Mark Musser, the storm-water field representative for the BIAW. He claims that Nazis “expressed many of the ecological refrains we hear today” and that “Nazis were the vanguard of conservationism.”

Musser wrote the piece to follow-up something he had written the month before that had drawn a less clear - and really less serious - parallel between Adolph Hitler and today’s environmental movement and the state Department of Ecology, or DOE.

Knowing my parallel would illicit screams of protest — how politically incorrect of me to mention Hitler and Nazis in the same breath as DOE or the environmental lobby —I explored the actual connection between environmental extremism and Hitler’s Nazi party.

Musser writes that “maintaining harmony with the natural landscape” was a tenet of Nazism, and says, for example, “the autobahn freeway in Germany was designed by Nazis with the utmost ecological care in mind and presented as a way to bring Germans closer to nature.”

Nazis were the vanguard of conservationism - they sought to remedy the increasing alienation of people from the natural world, deforestation, urban sprawl, the destruction of ecosystem balance, the extinction of species and the indiscriminate slaughter of animals.

… Of course, this Nazi environmental zealotry was insanely tied to German nationalism (racism) which relied heavily on the ideals of social Darwinism, a doctrine which some environmentalists have kept alive in spite of its evil reputation.

Musser claims a clear connection between Hitler’s Nazis and today’s environmentalists. Not all of them, but “some environmentalists.” And you can see in that last line above that he goes so far as to claim some of today’s environmentalists profess even the most evil doctrine of the Third Reich.

This is a misreading of history. And even a little research would have made that clear. The sources the BIAW cites for the work refute Musser’s theory - either in the past when others have attempted to misuse their scholarship or in response to my questions this week.

Continue reading this post ...

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April 2, 2008 2:57 PM

Would Rossi have signed flood relief bill?

Posted by David Postman

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi has criticized Gov. Chris Gregoire's plans for flood control projects in Lewis and other southwest counties hit by last year's floods. But as Brad Shannon writes at his Olympian blog, it is not clear what Rossi would have done with the flood bill signed by the governor.

His spokeswoman Jill Strait declined to say which way Rossi would have gone today, and Rossi was unavailable to comment himself — because his schedule didn’t allow. He was “tied up,” Strait said by telephone.


“He believes the final bill is better than what was originally proposed. The compromise to give $2.5 million to local groups was good but not enough,’’ Strait said.

Shannon points out that Rossi has called for more leadership on flood recovery issues.

But when asked if that meant he would favor more state spending on the problem, Strait refused to say. She also refused to say if more local spending was needed.

He just thinks the parties need to focus on what is the “best option” to reduce flood threats in the whole basin, Strait said.

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April 2, 2008 2:41 PM

Odds of Gregoire, Burner wins look better for November, CQ says

Posted by David Postman

Congressional Quarterly’s experts say Democrats Gov. Chris Governor and 8th District congressional candidate Darcy Burner are “increasingly better positioned” than their Republican opponents. Gregoire almost lost to Republican Dino Rossi four years ago and Burner came close to Congressman Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, in 2006.

But analysts now say that the Democrats have upped their chances of winning as the state GOP party faces structural problems and GOP efforts to appeal to the state’s large number of moderate voters have been hampered by their strong conservative base.

CQ Politics is now changing its rating of the Washington state Governor’s race from No Clear Favorite to Leans Democrat and Washington’s 8th District rating from Leans Republican to No Clear Favorite.

There are more details here.

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