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October 31, 2006

Late but positive reviews for Linnea Noreen

Posted by David Postman at 4:54 PM

Congressman Jim McDermott's independent opponent Linnea Noreen has been getting praise from a variety of pundits.

Words of support for Noreen usually come in pretty close proximity to criticism for McDermott. But she has begun to be taken seriously in some corners.
In his Puget Sound Business Journal column, Glenn Pascall writes about Noreen under the headline:

"A new kind of politics in McDermott's shadow"

Pascall has known McDermott a long time and writes:

With a twinkle in his eye and a touch of devilish Irish delight, Jim has always enjoyed sticking it to his opponents, believing that the road to justice lies over the bodies of the unjust. This has led him at times into a temptation, known in times past as "excess of zeal."

At this point in the election cycle, what's the point of raising such issues? In this case, there is a point because there is an alternative — and an opportunity to help launch a new style of politics and a new generation of elected leadership. The specific example: Linnea Noreen, running for Congress as an Independent on the Nov. 7 ballot.

...

On why she is running against McDermott, Noreen says, "When a person is not doing their job, they need to be held accountable. The person who represents Seattle in Congress needs to be in the forefront of education reform, structural reform of the health care system and federal transportation financing. Jim McDermott is doing none of the above. "

Pascall says Noreen is "an intriguing example of what could be the next chapter in American politics. "

In The Seattle Times, columnist Ryan Blethen agreed last week:

If we lived in a country where two parties did not make politics a monopoly, McDermott might worry about the independent candidate in the race, Linnea Noreen.

When asked, the average moderate or independent-minded voter would rattle off a list of desirable attributes in a candidate: smart, listens, passionate, critical thinker, articulate, open ... the list goes on. My guess is that if you did not put party affiliation next to the three candidates and voted only for their positions, voters would check off the box for Noreen.

For a liberal's view, Michael Hood at blatherwatch says he'll vote for Noreen, violating his pledge to vote only for Democrats.

Linnea Noreen says she doesn't expect to win, but she'd just like to pull 10% against McD to prove to strong Democrats (are you listening Jennie Durkan? Hey, Peter Steinbrueck! Nick???) to run against him. Noreen is an articulate, savvy, informed young woman who's spent some of her 29 years in the non-profit sector and helping progressive candidates. We're voting for her despite our vow to never vote for anyone except Democrats again.

To be able to write this; for Noreen to run against him, is a luxury of which we couldn't partake if Jim was in political trouble against a Republican. But since he's not (yet) we can, so we urge you to vote for Noreen and make a political statement in the safety of the blue zone that is Seattle.

Unfortunately Hood cannot avoid sexist comments about Blethen's praise for Noreen. If Hood's trying to get Seattleites to take Noreen seriously, it would be better to stop assuming that only an ulterior motive could propel a male to write kind words about her. She's faced these sorts of comments throughout the race.


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John Kerry says he flubbed his lines; meant no insult to troops

Posted by David Postman at 2:22 PM

Sen. John Kerry was in Seattle today holding an unannounced fundraiser for Sen. Maria Cantwell — just as he's in the national spotlight for comments he made in a speech that the White House says was insulting to U.S. troops.

Speaking in Los Angeles yesterday, Kerry said:

"You know education, if you make the most of it, you study hard and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

Kerry says it was a joke gone bad. He was trying to make fun of President Bush's intellect and found himself in the middle of a controversy a week before the election.

At Huffington Post, Taylor Marsh says the line from Kerry's stump speech was supposed to go like this:

"I can't overstress the importance of a great education. Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq."

The White House, Republican Sen. John McCain and the American Legion all called on Kerry to apologize. The White House clearly wants to make Kerry's comments a campaign issue for Democratic candidates. Press Secretary Tony Snow said today:

What Senator Kerry ought to do first is apologize to the troops. The clear implication here is if you flunk out, if you don't study hard, if you don't do your homework, if you don't make an effort to be smart and you don't do well, you "get stuck in Iraq." But an extraordinary thing has happened since September 11th, which is a lot of people — America's finest — have willingly agreed to volunteer their services in a mission that they know is dangerous, but is also important. And Senator Kerry not only owes an apology to those who are serving, but also to the families of those who have given their lives in this.

This is an absolute insult. And I'm a little astonished that he didn't figure it out already. I mean, you know, if I were Senator Kerry — I mean, you've seen me, I say something stupid, I apologize as quickly as possible. And this is something for which he ought to apologize. Meanwhile, it's probably reasonable to ask some of the Democrats — ask a Jim Webb or a Tammy Duckworth, both of whom are citing their military record — OK, what do you think about it, what do you think about this quote? Do you agree with him? He was your presidential nominee. And as for the notion that you can say this sort of thing about the troops and say you support them, it's interesting.

In Seattle, according to a transcript released by his Senate office, Kerry said:

"Let me make it crystal clear, as crystal clear as I know how: I apologize to no one for my criticism of the president and of his broken policy.

"If anyone owes our troops in the field an apology, it is the
president and his failed team and a Republican majority in the
Congress that has been willing to stamp — rubber-stamp policies that
have done injury to our troops and to their families.

"My statement yesterday — and the White House knows this full
well — was a botched joke about the president and the president's
people, not about the troops.

"The White House's attempt to distort my true statement is a
remarkable testament to their abject failure in making America safe.
It's a stunning statement about their willingness to reduce anything
in America to raw politics. It's their willingness to distort, their
willingness to mislead Americans, their willingness to exploit the
troops, as they have so many times at backdrops, at so many speeches
at which they have not told the American people the truth.
I'm not going to stand for it."

CNN is reporting that President Bush will also join in the criticism of Kerry.

"Even in the midst of a heated campaign season, there are still some things we should all be able to agree on, and one of the most important is that every one of our troops deserves our gratitude and respect," Bush will say in a speech, the text of which was released by the White House.

UPDATE: Here's the KING 5 video of Kerry's Seattle press conference.

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Photographer says Iraq photo misused in Burner flier

Posted by David Postman at 12:44 PM


Michael Yon

A state Democratic Party flier for congressional candidate Darcy Burner includes an "unauthorized use" of an iconic photo of a U.S. solider with a dying Iraqi girl in his arms, according to the photographer's attorney.

"It's a copyright infringement, it's a legal matter," D.C. attorney John Mason told me.

Sound Politics, where I first saw this, has a copy of the Burner flier here.

The photo of the soldier was taken by Michael Yon. It shows Major Mark Bieger and an Iraqi girl, Farah. Yon wrote on his blog about the photo:

Major Bieger, I had seen him help rescue some of our guys a week earlier during another big attack, took some of our soldiers and rushed this little girl to our hospital. He wanted her to have American surgeons and not to go to the Iraqi hospital. She didn't make it. I snapped this picture when Major Bieger ran to take her away. He kept stopping to talk with her and hug her.

Yon has already stopped an authorized use of the photo by a new magazine. In May, Yon wrote that protecting the photo had become a full-time job.

I regularly turn down usage requests for this photo — uses that could earn money — because this photo is sacred to me and is representative of the U.S. soldiers I have come to know. It is also representative of the horrors of the enemy we all face.

Mason said that Yon turned down a request from the Republican Party to use it in campaign literature this year.

"Mike's not a political guy. Mike does not want the photo used for any message. He wants it to stand alone."

The flier was produced by the Washington State Democratic Party. I'm waiting for a call back from the party spokesman.

UPDATE: Democratic spokesman Kelly Steele said, "Our attorneys have been contacted and are investigating. As Mr. Mason said, it's a legal matter."

MORE: Yon, a former Green Beret, is an independent photographer who was embedded with troops in Iraq, including with the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry, in Mosul.

Bruce Willis is reportedly planning to make a movie based on Yon's work there.

Yon wrote a piece in the current issue of The Weekly Standard about how U.S. officials have made it difficult for journalists to work in Iraq.

In a counterinsurgency, the media battlespace is critical. When it comes to mustering public opinion, rallying support, and forcing opponents to shift tactics and timetables to better suit the home team, our terrorist enemies are destroying us. Al Qaeda's media arm is called al Sahab: the cloud. It feels more like a hurricane. While our enemies have "journalists" crawling all over battlefields to chronicle their successes and our failures, we have an "embed" media system that is so ineptly managed that earlier this fall there were only 9 reporters embedded with 150,000 American troops in Iraq. There were about 770 during the initial invasion.

Many blame the media for the estrangement, but part of the blame rests squarely on the chip-laden shoulders of key military officers and on the often clueless Combined Press Information Center in Baghdad, which doesn't manage the media so much as manhandle them. Most military public affairs officers are professionals dedicated to their jobs, but it takes only a few well-placed incompetents to cripple our ability to match and trump al Sahab. By enabling incompetence, the Pentagon has allowed the problem to fester to the point of censorship.

UPDATE: The issue has been resolved. This statement came tonight from photographer Michael Yon:

Ea

rlier today, concerns were raised about the use of an iconic photo to which I own the copyright. I understand that mistakes of this nature can happen with no malevolent intent, and the Washington State Democratic Party has responsibly addressed my concerns. We have agreed on a one-time license for the past use of the image and this matter has been fully and completely resolved.

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McGavick's new Iraq ad

Posted by David Postman at 7:24 AM

Is Mike McGavick using his latest TV commercial to promote the Green and Libertarian Senate candidates as a way to pull anti-war votes away from Sen. Maria Cantwell?

I think the argument can be made.

Nominally the point of the commercial, according to a release from the McGavick campaign, is for McGavick to address "the need for decisiveness in Iraq and Sen. Cantwell's vague position."

But watch it, and try it at least once with no sound, and see if you think the ad could be driving anti-war voters from Cantwell to Libertarian Bruce Guthrie or Green Aaron Dixon.

In the commercial, campaign signs appear with the names of both third party candidates, their photos and party designations. A graphic says, "Guthrie, Dixon: Pullout Now."

McGavick says in the ad: "On Iraq , Bruce Guthrie and Aaron Dixon have the guts to say what they think. They say, let's get the troops out now."

Then a sign with Cantwell's photo appears, labeled "incumbent." There's no party designation for her. The graphic reads:

Cantwell: FOR THE WAR

3yrs STAY THE COURSE



McGavick says: "But Maria Cantwell? It's just politics. First she voted for the war and to stay the course for three years."

There is a graphic that says: "Cantwell: Now Vague," while McGavick says:

"And, now suddenly, she's become vague?

"And, President Bush doesn't understand our frustrations.

"It's time to be decisive. Beat the terrorists. Partition the country if we have to and get our troops home in victory."

Other than the line "beat the terrorists," it could be an anti-war ad. It sounds a little critical of Bush. It gives Dixon his only face time in a paid TV spot. It prominently features the fact that Dixon and Guthrie oppose the war, and have the "guts" to say so. And turning around the sound-bite criticism Democrats usually leveled at Republicans, McGavick tags Cantwell with supporting a strategy of "staying the course."

I don't know what Cantwell or her campaign thinks about the new McGavick ad because they did not answer my questions. Cantwell, her staff said, was unavailable for an interview and there has not been a response to questions I posed yesterday evening.

The timing of the McGavick ad is curious. It appears at a time when the war is becoming more unpopular and when "Republican candidates are barely mentioning Iraq on the campaign trail and in their television advertisements."

I asked McGavick spokesman Elliott Bundy if the campaign was trying to send anti-war voters from Cantwell to Guthrie or Dixon. He said:

"We're simply making the point that of the major candidates in this race, the only one with a position that is vague is the incumbent."

I talked to McGavick about the ad yesterday. I hadn't at that point thought it was a way to exploit liberals' unease with Cantwell's support for the Iraq invasion. But it still seemed an odd ad because for some time McGavick said that he and Cantwell shared nearly identical positions on the war.

McGavick said that may have been the case, but that Cantwell has become more vague. But the first thing he said made her sound like a supporter of a quick troop withdrawal, which of course is not the sense you get from his commercial.

McGavick said Cantwell's vote in June for a Senate resolution calling for withdrawal of troops "was the first sign that the senator was more interested in establishing that she wanted troops home rather than victory."

That's not what he said in August. At a press conference with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, McGavick went out of his way to say he disagreed with GOP leadership that the vote on a resolution by Democratic Sen. Carl Levin was infused with meaning.

He said then:

"It struck me as one of these partisan squabbles without much meaning because in the end, the Levin amendment doesn't cause anything to happen. It just expresses what I think is the heartfelt feeling of everyone that we'd like our troops home sooner rather than later.

(...)

"I know the Republicans thought they had to make a case for supporting the president and the Democrats to show distance, but when I look at the content of the resolution I just think it was another chance to throw bricks at each other as far as I was concerned."

Other evidence McGavick offered yesterday to show a creeping vagueness in Cantwell's positions is her call for greater international support for a plan for the future of Iraq, including participation of the Arab League, which he called "completely unrealistic." But Cantwell's been saying that since May.

Another issue raised by McGavick yesterday as evidence of a muddled position is a statement from Cantwell staffer Michael Meehan in July that she supported bringing troops home by the end of the year and that "30,000 is not enough."
But not only was McGavick still saying he and Cantwell essentially shared the same Iraq position at that point, Cantwell first used the 30,000 figure herself in April.

You can read the McGavick campaign's "fact check" with backup on its claims here.

The one change of any substance has been Cantwell's statement in August that she would not have voted for the war if she had known that Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction. She made that statement to The Seattle Times only after being told that McGavick had said he "would have opposed the invasion had he known what he knows today."

Her change was welcomed by anti-war Democrats.

There's not much evidence that Cantwell has made any big changes in her Iraq position. If it's been vague, it has been all year long, even when McGavick was saying they largely shared the same position. I didn't see a change when some on the left were grasping for a sign Cantwell was leaning more their way, and I don't see it now.

UPDATE: Cantwell spokesman Katharine Lister says by e-mail:

For well over a year Senator Cantwell's position has consistently been to change the course in Iraq and hold the president accountable. She voted in November 2005 for the president to make 2006 a year of transition to begin bringing our troops home and again in June 2006, she voted for the Reed-Levin plan to demand a plan from the president to implement a plan to begin to bring our troops home this year. In July 2006, the Senate passed her amendment for no permanent bases in Iraq, which our opponent still opposes.

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October 30, 2006

Should I be offended by this?

Posted by David Postman at 5:41 PM

From The Olympian's on-line chat with Supreme Court Justice Susan Owens and her challenger, Sen. Stephen Johnson.

Moderator: Justice Owens, you've been criticized for skipping a debate earlier this week in Seattle. Would you explain that decision? Given the quieter profile of this race, do you think its right to skip debates when the public might not have enough information to decide this contest? Owens: There aren't limited venues, we've been at many public forums, we've been together at many of these and they can see many of them online at TVW and the voting for judges Web site. I had been on the road and when I came home I saw some e-mails about this forum — which had been thrown together very quickly — and decided to use my veto power. I don't answer questions from bloggers, and that was apparently the moderator's only credentials. They didn't want to get a regular journalist to do it. I have other reasons, too. I'm working as a justice and we had a full slate of cases on Tuesday. So I said no — in my view it wasn't a big deal. I apologize for any inconvenience for anybody. But Sen. Johnson and I have been all over the state, together and alone, even when gas was at its highest price. I had hoped to hit all the counties.

Johnson: I think the problem was that people understood that the arrangements had been agreed upon. That's why Joel Connelly came in — I thought Owens had selected Joel Connelly from a list of names — that's the facts as I understand them. I think Joel Connelly felt it was settled. If not I don't think he would have shown up. I wish she had shown up.

Owens: I don't take questions from bloggers. I just don't blog and don't read them. Every forum we've been at has been moderated by an attorney or a credentialed journalist, and one by the state president of the League of Women Voters. I personally did not know who this other moderator was. My people might have agreed to that, but when I found out the reality, I said no.

(A thanks for the tip to Stefan Sharkansky, who takes his offense here.)

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What did Cheney mean by "no brainer"?

Posted by David Postman at 1:35 PM

In the Washington Post, Dan Froomkin came up with a great read with his collection of news of the aftermath of Dick Cheney'"no-brainer" radio interview. That came in the vice president's appearance last week on WDAY in Fargo during a discussion about interrogation and trials of terrorism suspects.

"Q: Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?

"THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's a no-brainer for me, but for a while there, I was criticized as being the vice president 'for torture.' We don't torture. "
This was not, the White House insists, a reference to water-boarding. It's worth reading all of Froomkin today to get the full flavor of officials' efforts to quell any such talk.

Take particular note of the exchange between Press Secretary Tony Snow and ABC News' Ann Compton. Snow said Cheney is "not a guy who slips up."

"Q: To say that Vice President Cheney doesn't make mistakes like this, he did go up and curse a senator to his face on the Senate floor, and accidentally shot his friend, so he's not perfect. (Laughter.)"

Snow's response: "That's a great line, but it's not germane."

No one has yet offered a good explanation of what Cheney could have meant by a "dunk in water" other than water-boarding. Read the full transcript of the radio interview here and see for yourself if any other explanation fits.

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ACLU takes up cause of Republican students

Posted by David Postman at 12:43 PM

The ACLU has talked to Bellevue Community College officials on behalf of students kept out of last week's rally with Sen. Maria Cantwell and Barack Obama because they were wearing Mike McGavick T-shirts. ACLU Executive Director Kathleen Taylor wrote to the school:

The Constitution does not permit government officers (including the security staff and administrators of BCC) to decide which political viewpoints may be publicly expressed on campus and which may not.

...

Moreover, the Obama event was part of the curriculum for many classes. Students are allowed to wear armbands, buttons, or T-shirts that express political viewpoints in the classroom. BCC could not bar students from a political science class simply because they wore T-shirts opposing the political views of the professor or a guest speaker. The same principle applies here, because the Obama event was an integral part of the curriculum for many BCC students. The College should seek to facilitate intellectual exchange, and it should not make a habit of closing campus doors on students eager to explore and lean about competing ideas.

Read the full letter here.

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32nd District Dems still fighting among themselves

Posted by David Postman at 10:14 AM

Evan Smith, a columnist and forum editor for Enterprise Newspapers with editions covering Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace and surroundings, sent me a note on more strange goings on in the 32nd District Senate race.

Some Democrats up there are unhappy with Sen. Darlene Fairley, D-Lake Forest Park, and after trying to oust her in the primary Smith says some have now taken another approach:


Now, the party organization has formally endorsed Fairley, but appears informally to be backing her Republican opponent, David Baker.

Those of us who live in the district get mailings supporting Baker with an endorsement from a Democratic activist (Dan Mann); we get recorded phone messages saying "I'm a Democrat, but I'm voting for Baker;" we see people waving Baker signs along with people waving signs for Democratic State Rep. Maralyn Chase, a rival of Fairley's ever since Fairley endorsed Chase's primary opponent four years ago; and we see Baker and Chase signs show up at the same places at the same time.

District Democratic Chairwoman Lila Smith, who supported Fairley's primary opponent, notes that the District Party Organization has now endorsed Fairley and "would never support a Republican," but some individual members are obviously supporting Republican Baker against Fairley, who is well connected with Democrats in Olympia but ignores the District Democratic Organization.
Now, Baker tells Democrats that he will join their District Organization if he wins.

Could Republicans have their own Tim Sheldon? You wouldn't think so if you look at Baker's Web site and see a list of positions on issues that make him look pretty clearly a Republican.

UPDATE: David Baker sent this comment:

Perhaps I am also working with Sen. Fairley because we both had people waving signs at 145th Street and I5 last Friday. We also have signs that appear at at about the same time in locations throughout the district. Maybe I am working with Sen. Cantwell because our signs are together at may location in the district. :) I would appreciate your vote because I work with everyone regardless of political affiliation.

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In other news

Posted by David Postman at 8:43 AM

  • The King County Journal reports:
    Five students at Bellevue Community College wearing Republican Mike McGavick T-shirts say their rights were violated when they were denied access to a Democratic rally Thursday in the college gym where party star Barack Obama was the big draw.

    I got lots of e-mail about this while I was traveling over the weekend, including one from a student involved, that I see Josh Feit has already posted at The Slog.

  • At the Herald, Jerry Cornfield looks at energy policy from Maria Cantwell and Mike McGavick.
  • The News Tribune calls 26th District Republican House candidate Ron Boehme "about as far right as they come" and mentions a few of his "fringe personal beliefs" in this endorsement of his opponent, Larry Seaquist. Horsesass.org follows up with some background on Boehme, and asks how the guy won the Republican primary.
  • An ad from the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee on Sound Politics raised the eyebrow of at least one reader. Stefan Sharkansky explains. The offending ad was on the homepage today.

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"The war" from Canada's perspective

Posted by David Postman at 7:20 AM

When people talk about "the war" in Canada they're usually talking about Afghanistan. In the United States, Afghanistan has been overshadowed by Iraq, of course. In the U.S., Afghanistan stands as the war that had wider political support. You can still hear some anti-Iraq war politicians talk about their support for the Afghanistan invasion almost as a demonstration of their combat bona fides.

Canadians aren't fighting in Iraq. The Ottawa government passed on joining that effort. That brought criticism of Canada from some corners of America. It didn't measure up to anti-French feelings. There was no Freedom Bacon. But it's still evident.

A Republican ad that ran against Tennesee Democratic Senate candidate Harold Ford, Jr., recently accused him of being soft of North Korea and says, "Canada can take care of North Korea. They're not busy." Canadians reportedly complained directly to the White House about the the jab.

And today in the Toronto Star you can read a compilation of recent examples of slights and insults from American politicians under the headline, "Not many votes here but it's a convenient whipping boy when U.S. economic growth remains weak."

There are about 2,000 Canadian troops in Afghanistan fighting in the NATO deployment. Papers here are full of news of Afghanistan. Saturday there were protests in Canadian cities against the Harper government's commitment of troops. I see stories in Sunday's papers about the latest battles a change of military command , and concerns from Human Rights Watch about civilian deaths.

Canada's role in Afghanistan was brought squarely to my attention at the Edmonton meeting of the Canadian Association of Journalists over the weekend. The keynote address Saturday morning came from veteran war correspondent Arthur Kent. He said of the Canadian media:

"The country's richest news companies continue to under perform in investing in international news, especially when in this case so many Canadians are literally on the front lines."
If Kent's name rings a bell it's because in the first Gulf War, Kent was NBC's "Scud Stud,"a name he got from his good looks and live narration of Scud missile attacks. When I met Kent at a bar Friday night I had the sense that if I asked him about that media-made moniker he'd be as likely to punch me as anything else. But it was mentioned in his introduction, I've since read he doesn't begrudge his passing celebrity, and I was safely at the Edmonton Airport when I started writing this, so I thought I could add that detail now.

Kent left NBC on the most unfriendly of terms, suspended from his job on "Dateline" and with the network essentially questioning his courage because he would not take a new assignment in Bosnia without proper safety precautions and equipment. He sued the network for breach of contract and the network settled, for an amount he once called "terrific."

He now runs his own documentary film company in London and has continued to report on Afghanistan, where he first visited more than 20 years ago.

Salon once wrote that Kent had an "almost Frank Capra-esque vision of journalism." He urged journalists here to return to their roots, be tough on governments and fight the dumbing-down of network news. Journalists, he said, must rise above the "demented maelstrom of pseudo news that swirls around us each day."

But his romanticized view of the job and his Hollywood looks — you can pick from "rakish," "rugged" or "boyish" — shouldn't detract from a respect for his solid understanding of global conflicts.

Before the U.S. invaded Iraq, Salon asked Kent, "Will the U.S. and its allies face much resistance from the Iraqi people? "

After Saddam Hussein, the United States, Britain and other Western countries are large hate objects in the minds of most Iraqis. Look at 12 years of sanctions, 12 years of the people starving, while Saddam Hussein cheats the system and builds his weapons. We've known about it. Our governments have done nothing. It's naive in the extreme to expect the people of Iraq will welcome American troops the way the people of Afghanistan welcomed Western forces after the Taliban's collapse. Western countries have been directly damaging the Iraqis for more than a decade. We will not be seen as white knights who have come to rid them of their evil dictator, as I'm afraid the policy makers in Washington would have us believe.

He was tough on the Bush administration, both in the run up to the Iraq war and through the occupation. But he sees Afghanistan far differently. In that theater, he has plenty of criticism for the media first. He said that the media focuses too much on the bad news out of Afghanistan and that polls showing little public support are skewed, too.

"Really, the Canadian public only now is beginning to appreciate some of the complexities of the story. I have been going there 26 years. I still learn things every time I go back.

...

"Very little reporting is done to explain to Canadians — horrified and disgusted by the Iraq war, its commencement and conduct — that Afghanistan is not a Bush-Blair war. Afghanistan is a Brezhnev, Reagan, Thatcher war; one that Canada was deeply involved in."

Canada helped finance anti-Soviet forces in Afghanistan and was involved in the country in the 1990s, he said, when the "Taliban exploited chaos to take power."

"We're not in Afghanistan today out of the goodness of our heart, some post 9-11 sense of mission. We're partly responsible for what Afghanistan has become and we're there making that right."

He criticizes the media's coverage of the on-the-ground military opearations in Afghanistan as well as the back-home coverage of the Ottawa government's role there. While saying that the media coverage gives an unfairly negative view of events, he also says reporters failed in asking tough questions about the prosecution of the war. He said there was a failure to discover a "gross weakness in the NATO deployment." That was the fact that NATO went to war without a "force reserve," meaning there was no group of soldiers, weapons and equipment held in reserve. That, he said, only became known recently from an admission by a British general.

Kent gives a troubling overview of the struggling government in Afghanistan. He's no fan of President Hamid Karzai, who he says is a "fashionable figure" whose family is connected to the opium trade. Kent has personal connections there and has watched former sources rise to power, only to be tossed out when Karzai, he says, would not stand for real reform.

He says reporters should be asking questions about why there are warlords and drug lords in the government and why expensive villas are going up around Kabul while reconstruction stumbles.

Kent is particularly critical of the new attorney general, Abdul Jabbar Sabit. Sabit is touted as a reformer, but Kent say Sabit has connections to a man on America's list of most wanted terrorists. Sabit, as an aide to the interior ministry, was also the lead man in Afghanistan's renewed crackdown on vice.

Reporters, Kent says, should press Prime Minister Stephen Harper about his support for Karzai. They should ask him, he said,

"You just played host to this guy. What did you do to tell him that Jabar Sabit is the not the kind of person we as Canadians want to see when our people are dying on the ground, trying to prop up your government?"

In urging on reporters, Kent gives a nod to the romanticism he's been pegged with. He says there was a time in the not too distant past when things were different in newsrooms in the United States and Canada — a time before corporate executives would sacrifice news for profits

"It almost seems naive now to talk about it, but there was a belief that hustle and imagination could spell success. Imagine if once again we were actually encouraged to be different, and once again to be uncompromising in that passion, in that accuracy and timeliness."

He takes some comfort in new media. He said by combining the "standards of traditional journalism" with the "open air market of the Internet" reporters could "sense freedom" and "be free of those suits" who run journalism today.

MORE: It was just pointed out to me that I failed to mention that Kent is Canadian; born in Medicine Hat, Alberta.

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October 28, 2006

What a difference six years can make

Posted by David Postman at 9:45 AM

Catching up with the news, I see that Mike McGavick announced yesterday he was going to put another $500,000 of his own money into his campaign. On Sept. 26 the Wall Street Journal reported that McGavick had no plans to add to the $2 million of personal funds he had already loaned the campaign.

McGavick said in a statement yesterday that if he were running a nasty campaign "our state would now be flooded with national party independent expenditures on my behalf." He also said national support has been lacking because "the list of endangered Republican incumbents has grown since the beginning of my campaign, drawing away national resources."

I've also had time to read all the way down to the last line of the fundraising release put out by Sen. Maria Cantwell's campaign. In a list of special interest donations to the McGavick campaign, Cantwell closes with this:

Contribution from his own special interest committee, Michael Sean McGavick: $2 million

I can certainly see why Cantwell wants to draw attention to McGavick's donations from oil companies, Halliburton and the pharmaceutical industry. But if $2 million from McGavick's own bank account is a special interest donation, what was the $10 million Cantwell spent of her own money six years ago?

When she used her personal wealth to beat Sen. Slade Gorton, Cantwell said self-financing was a way to escape special interest money. Her spokesman Ellis Conklin said in 2000:

She puts her money where her mouth is. She's not taking any (political-action committee) money. As a result, she's not going to be beholden to any special corporate interest. I don't think the voters are going to see this as some sinister tactic.

Using personal wealth for a political campaign was described by Cantwell's team as a noble thing.

Cantwell campaign manager Ron Dotzauer said his candidate is running a campaign of "personal sacrifice." He said she cashed in stock near its year-low value; she had gained the stock as an executive at RealNetworks after she lost her 1994 House re-election bid. Dotzauer thinks "the voters are going to respect the fact that she's spent more time talking to them than dialing for dollars."

And according to the most recent FEC reports available on-line, Cantwell has yet to pay back a $2 million personal loan she made to her 2000 campaign.

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October 27, 2006

Reichert endorsed by international relations group

Posted by David Postman at 6:15 PM

A group promoting U.S. cooperation with foreign allies, foreign aid and opposing torture has given Congressman Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, one of its very few Republican endorsements.

Citizens for Global Solutions endorsed a long list of Democrats in the House and Senate, based on a scorecard of votes. Reichert is one of four House Republicans endorsed.
He got an A+ ranking from the group. Sen. Maria Cantwell and four Democratic members of the House from Washington were endorsed as well.

The group is non-partisan, with a PAC and a non-profit, but it clearly is not supportive of the Bush Administration. It has made it a priority to block confirmation of U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.

The Reichert campaign was quick to publicize the endorsement today. A statement from Reichert said:

We welcome the endorsement of Citizens for Global Solutions. The United States has a moral obligation to lead global efforts to end genocide and promote international cooperation to work to eliminate global pain and suffering.

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Here's your chance to tell me what you think

Posted by David Postman at 4:04 PM

I'm in Edmonton for a meeting of the Canadian Association of Journalists. This weekend I'll be on two panels about blogging. Actually I am the panels. I guess they couldn't get any other MSM bloggers so I'm what passes for an expert.

(I wanted to make some Canadian exchange rate joke and say I'm only 80 percent of an expert here, but the dollar is worth about a dollar here so I'll pass.)

Here's how you can help. I want to talk about what has worked well on the blog and what hasn't. I'm particularly interested in comparisons to blogs not associated with mainstream media outlets.

What do you think? If you read here regularly what do you like? What do you wish was different? What do you see as the big differences between Postman on Politics and other blogs you read regularly?

If your suggestion starts with "Take a flying ..." please think harder and come up with something constructive.

I will share the comments as part of my talk here.

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PSE shows Burner a little late love

Posted by David Postman at 12:43 PM

A last minute donation from a supporter of your opponent is the sort of thing that can give a candidate confidence.

Democrat Darcy Burner certainly got a little of that earlier this week when Puget Sound Energy called her to their Bellevue office and gave her a $2,000 check from the PSE PAC.

"I think it's a good sign," she said when I asked if it looked to her like PSE might be trying to cover its bases as polls show Democrats on the rise.

PSE has long been involved in the 8th District race, just on the other side.

In fact Congressman Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, has gotten more money from the Puget Sound Energy Inc. PAC for Good Government than any other politician, according to online data available at PoliticalMoneyLine. (Those rankings could be changing with new FEC filings this week.) Yesterday he was shown as having recieved $6,300 in eight separate contributions. The first was May 2005. The most recent was $1,000 on Aug. 22.

But Reichert spokeswoman Kimberly Cadena said the money has continued to come in, most recently a $3,000 check Oct. 6, for a new total of $9,800.

In Washington, the PAC had given only to incumbent House members and to Senate Republican challenger Mike McGavick. Sen. Maria Cantwell does not take direct PAC donations. But executives at the company have donated thousands of dollars to her campaign.

So far this campaign cycle Republicans have gotten more of PSE's campaign donations, but not by much. PoliticalMoneyLine's figures show $19,550 has gone to Republicans and $14,999 to Democrats, not including recent donations. That's a 57/43 percent split.

Through most of the 1980s and '90s PSE gave most of its political donations to Republicans. But it has been getting more even in recent cycles.

In 1996 just 3 percent of their money went to Democrats, but then donations on that side started to climb. Dems got 56 percent of the money in 2002 and 54 percent in 2004.

Burner seemed encouraged by the donation, though likely for any symbolic value of being taken seriously by a major force in the 8th than for the cash itself.

Burner showed up late to Tuesday's fundraiser with Al Gore. But when she addressed the Democratic donors that had paid up to $26,700 to hear the former vice president, Burner announced where she had been.

"I just came from Puget Sound Energy where I'm pleased to say they actually gave me a PAC check. I was delighted. And one of the reasons that they were willing to invest in this campaign is that they understand ... that we need to build a future with clean energy, we need to build a future where we deal with the problem of global warming in an intelligent and aggressive way. They know that we need members of Congress who believe in science and who understand this is a real problem that we can solve.

"They know that control of the United States Congress likely hinges on what happens just across the lake, and me not making any major mistakes the next two weeks. But we can do that."

Global warming became an issue in the Reichert/Burner race after a Seattle Times story last month quoted Reichert saying he had doubts about climate change:

"I'm going to wait until all the facts are in. There were many scientists who used to say the world was flat."

That led to Reichert's campaign making several attempts to clarify the congressman's position.

PSE Spokeswoman Dorothy Bracken didn't mention global warming specifically when I asked what the attraction was to Burner. She said the utility has been holding candidate forums in recent years to give employees a chance to hear from politicians directly. That's why Burner was invited Tuesday:

"Our employee PAC had wanted to meet with her. They interviewed her and came away impressed about her knowledge and understanding of energy issues and they made a decision to make a PAC contribution to her campaign.

...

"She has throughout her campaign demonstrated an eagerness to learn the issues facing our industry as well as what Puget Sound Energy is facing."

Cadena said Reichert's campaign is confident PSE remains a strong supporter of the congressman and had no issue with his statements on global warming:

"Any assertion otherwise is purely wishful thinking on Darcy's part. PSE has never criticized or even commented on Congressman Reichert's measured position on global warming.

...

"If donations are an indication of support, PSE's more substantial contribution to Congressman Reichert should speak for itself."

She also said there is no concern about business donors trying to work both sides as the race tightens, pointing out that Reichert has lone PAC support from Microsoft , Boeing and Paccar, as well as personal donations from Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.


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Light blogging this morning

Posted by David Postman at 9:15 AM

I'm on the road today so won't be posting until later.

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October 26, 2006

McGavick unfairly tagged as taking $500,000 from big oil

Posted by David Postman at 4:01 PM

Probably never before has half a sentence had such legs.

In an April story about an Alaska fundraiser for Senate candidate Mike McGavick The Seattle Times reported:

It could raise as much as $500,000 for McGavick, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell in this fall's election.

That number, based on background sources, turned out to be grossly inflated and never connected to reality once the fundraiser was over.

McGavick spokesman Elliott Bundy said the Alaska fundraiser brought in about $80,000. I looked at on-line sources and couldn't find even that much that I could confidently attribute the April Anchorage fundraiser. Whatever the number, $14,000 of it was returned to donors because it came from employees of Veco, the Alaska oil field company that has been linked in news reports to a federal investigation of Alaska state lawmakers.

But no matter that the initial number was pre-event speculation and that a quick FEC check would show later it was no where near correct. Democrats and their supporters have adopted it as fact and used widely as a symbol of close ties between McGavick and the oil industry, as well to Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens.

Out of D.C. the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee issued a press release two days before the fundraiser saying "Mike McGavick stands to raise as much as $500,000 on Thursday at an Anchorage fundraiser hosted by the oil industry and Stevens" and repeated the claim in another release the day of the event.

The state party joined in ,too, with a press release the week after the event about McGavick's fundraisers with Majority Leader Bill Frist and Vice President Dick Cheney that said:

The week before, he lined his pockets with money from Big Oil as he attended a fundraiser in Alaska hosted by Sen. Ted Stevens, where he reportedly took in as much as $500,000.

Notice how the speculative "as much as $500,000" has mutated to sounding like there were sources saying McGavick had actually collected as much as $500,000.

The phantom half a million was there again in a July press release about record profits for Exxon
and in May about gas-price gouging.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid used it in a fundraising letter that stated as fact that McGavick had "received more than $500,000 at one oil industry fundraiser in Alaska." No longer speculation, or even a "reportedly took in as much as $500,000," Reid boosted it to "more than $500,000."

And the number is still flying about in the final days of the campaign. The number is featured in a flyer mailed last week by the Washington State Labor Council. On the cover is an off-shore oil rig spewing black smoke with type across it saying: "You've got to be pretty slick to try to buy an election." Inside is photo of a pair of hands holding a wallet with a wad of big bills cascading out and a smaller picture of McGavick in a tuxedo. It says:

McGavick raised some $500,000 from Big Oil companies and executives at a single fundraiser hosted by Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens.

That's footnoted, to The Seattle Times story from more than six months earlier.

McGavick supports drilling in ANWR and oil companies do support his campaign. Cantwell's work in the Senate to stop ANWR drilling has made her an anathema to much of the Alaska oil industry.

But if they want to paint McGavick black with crude, they need to find something better to do it with than the phantom $500,000 from the Last Frontier.


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Deconstructing the Times' McGavick endorsement

Posted by David Postman at 9:53 AM

At The Stranger, Josh Feit continues his reporting on The Seattle Times endorsement of Mike McGavick.

He has an editorial on it in this week's paper. And on the Slog he writes about an interview he had with Times Editorial Page Editor Jim Vesely. Vesely said "the estate tax came up in the editorial board's deliberations, but it 'wasn't the tipping point.' He said, 'it always comes up, but it's like 10th on the list ... it's not critical.'"

You can see from Feit's editorial he was not convinced. He did get a chance to follow up on his reporting last week that found a list of issues the Times is on the record supporting that McGavick opposes.

Vesely acknowledged this, saying: "We said in the endorsement that we agree with Senator Cantwell on a lot of issues like on ANWR, and we disagree with McGavick on ANWR and the flag burning amendment and gay marriage and stem cell research... and the question comes to mind, 'What on earth are we doing?' ... and it comes down to how much potential does the candidate have for the next six years."

In other endorsement news, the Spokesman Review today announced its support for McGavick.

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Court upholds sanction against Justice Sanders

Posted by David Postman at 8:54 AM

A special panel of judges sitting for the state Supreme Court says Justice Richard Sanders violated the Code of Judicial Conduct and "created an appearance of partiality" by meeting with sex predators at McNeil Island.

The judges upheld the Judicial Conduct Commission's sanction of admonishment for Sanders, saying it was "appropriate and sufficient in this case."

The case stems from a visit Sanders made in January 2003 to the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island, where he talked with sex offenders about their cases.

The unanimous opinion issued this morning was written by Court of Appeals Judge C. Kenneth Grosse. He wrote:

A visit by a judicial officer to a special facility for sexually violent predators is not in itself inappropriate conduct under the Code of Judicial Conduct. However, conversations with the residents of the facility concerning the reasons for their confinement, particularly when one or more of these residents has a matter or matters pending before the court on which the judge sits, can violate the Code of Judicial Conduct. By asking questions of inmates who were litigants or should have been recognized as potential litigants on issues currently pending before the court, Justice Richard B. Sanders violated the Code of Judicial Conduct. His conduct created an appearance of partiality as a result of ex parte contact.

...

The Commission held, and we agree, that the record established through clear, cogent, and convincing evidence that Justice Sanders violated Canons 1 and 2(A). In support of that holding, the findings reference two of the three letters from resident Andre Brigham Young inviting the justices to visit McNeil Island. Those letters indicate that the residents were looking for something more than just a tour of the facility. In fact, Young suggested that others (opposing counsel and defense attorneys) should be asked to attend to avoid "the appearance of partiality." The letters in and of themselves should have given sufficient notice to Justice Sanders that this visit had the potential of being more than an institutional tour. Additional warning flags were also raised by three justices who expressed concerns about the visit and potential problems.

Moreover, a simple computer check would have revealed that Rickey Calhoun
and Andre Brigham Young, two people mentioned in the prior communication
with Justice Sanders, had cases pending before the Supreme Court.


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Libertarian launches TV campaign

Posted by David Postman at 7:34 AM

Libertarian Senate candidate Bruce Guthrie is using at least a little of the $1.2 million he loaned his campaign to produce the first third-party TV commercial in the race.

The ad is called "party puppets" and the Guthrie campaign says it uses the audio from actual interviews with voters mixed with video of paper bag puppets.

I'm trying to find out how big a buy the campaign made. This is billed as the first in a series of similar ads, and specifically hits Sen. Maria Cantwell for her support of the U.S. Patriot Act.

You can watch the commercial here.)

Here's the script:

Voter 1: "You know you need to vote for the person who most represents what you believe in, right?"

Voter 2: "The Patriot Act, what it does as far as racial profiling and discrimination is definitely not compatible with my beliefs at all."

Interviewer (off camera): "Did you know that Maria Cantwell voted for it?"

Voter 1: "Oh."

Voter 2: "I was not aware that she voted for it."

Voter 1: "Whoah."

Voter 2: "However I do, you know, I do want to say that I am not against the Patriot Act. I vote for the Democratic party ... always."

Announcer: "Don't be a party puppet. Vote Bruce Guthrie for Senate."

Guthrie: "I'm Bruce Guthrie and I approved this ad. It's time for real change."

You can read other political puppet news here.

UPDATE: Guthrie's campaign manager, Travis Wright, wouldn't give details on the buy. But he said it is concentrated in the Seattle market and is on broadcast, not cable.

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Record turnout forecast for Nov. 7

Posted by David Postman at 7:18 AM

Secretary of State Sam Reed is predicting a 67 percent voter turnout for the general election. That'd be the best showing in recent history for a mid-term election.

Reed thinks turnout will be driven by voters' "excited about this year's elections" and the fact that 34 of 39 Washington counties now vote entirely by mail, he said in a statement this morning. After the September primary Reed reported that 93 percent of voters voted by mail.

Here are the numbers for the past four off-year elections that included a U.S. Senate race:

1998 — 62.17 percent

1994 — 59.85 percent

1986 — 60.89 percent

1982 — 66.72 percent

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October 25, 2006

5th District calls a mystery, say Goldmark and McMorris

Posted by David Postman at 5:29 PM

Residents in the 5th Congressional District have been getting some strange telephone calls. In The Spokesman-Review Jim Camden reports:

Some Eastern Washington residents got recorded calls late at night or early in the morning last weekend, urging them to vote for Democrat Peter Goldmark for Congress.

Others got the same call, over and over. Others got an obscene call, or a call with no sound except the click of a hangup, with the campaign's caller ID.

Goldmark's campaign filed a police report and called the FBI. He is running against Rep. Cathy McMorris, whose spokeswoman told Camden the campaign knows nothing about the calls.

"It's good that they filed a police report, to maybe get to the bottom of it."

There have been occasions in the past where automated calls were set to the wrong time and voters got calls late at night or very early in the morning. The firm working for Goldmark says that didn't happen in this case, and that the caller ID can easily be faked by a caller.

There have also been malicious uses of automated calls, like what New Hampshire Republicans did in 2002:

For two crucial hours, an Idaho telecommunications firm tied up Democratic and union phone lines, bringing their get-out-the-vote plans to a halt.

5th District update: To try to clear up what he thought was the misuse of his work in a McMorris ad, the Goldmark campaign released a statement from PI's Joel Connelly:

What Peter Goldmark talked about at the fundraiser was Bob Woodward's new best-selling book on events leading to the 9/11 attack, and strategic failures in the Iraq war.

He alluded to the conversation referred to by Woodward in which FBI Director George Tenet warned National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice of the likelihood of an impending al Qaeda attack on the U.S. homeland.

At that point, Mr. Goldmark made the remark quoted in my article.

"9/11 was directly attributable to George Bush and the Republican administration," Goldmark told a Seattle fundraiser.

In no way did Peter Goldmark blame America for 9/11 in the statement I quoted. To say that he was blaming America would be stretching the truth to the breaking point.

As a student, John F. Kennedy wrote a thesis on England's failure to wake up to the Nazi threat, later expanded into a book entitled "Why England Slept." What Mr. Goldmark was doing at his fundraiser was extrapolating on the theme "Why America Slept."

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More questions about Dotzauer-Cantwell "loan"

Posted by David Postman at 2:45 PM

Ron Dotzauer's attorneys are raising more questions about the loan he got from Sen. Maria Cantwell as they try to keep his divorce case from being made public.

For five years Cantwell has been dutifully filing her personal financial disclosure forms with the Senate that included a loan she had made to Dotzauer, the campaign consultant and lobbyist who over the years has been her employer, employee, advisor, boyfriend and friend.

The loan is valued between $15,000 and $50,000, according to the range on the form Cantwell submits each year.

Dotzauer told the Times Sept. 4 he didn't remember what the loan was for and four days later told the AP he'd repay it "as soon as I find out what the number is."

But now his attorneys have confused the issue. That came in a story by the AP's Gene Johnson about a hearing in Snohomish County Superior Court yesterday where Dotzauer argued to keep his divorce records sealed.

Johnson asked Dotzauer, his current wife and attorney Cynthia First, and his other attorney, Camden Hall, about the loan.

"I don't know that you're accurate in using that word, 'loan,' " Hall told a reporter. He declined to elaborate.

First refused to answer questions about the money, first suggesting she didn't know what a reporter was talking about, and then adding: "Ask Sen. Cantwell. We didn't list it. She did."

I did ask Cantwell's campaign about it. Spokeswoman Katharine Lister offered a statement unambiguous as far as describing the financial transaction as a loan.

"In 1999 before Senator Cantwell ran for the Senate, when a friend needed help, she was lucky to be in a position to loan him money. She has reported that outstanding loan every year since 2000."

Some have criticized the loan because Dotzauer owed Cantwell money while she was helping to secure funding that benefited Dotzauer's lobbying clients. But while Cantwell has not spoken publicly about her financial ties to Dotzauer, her staff and her Senate financial reporting has been consistent in reporting that there is an outstanding personal loan.

I can't figure out why Dotzauer's attorneys would now raise doubts with their vague answers and suggestions that maybe Dotzauer doesn't consider it a loan.

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Awful political web sites

Posted by David Postman at 11:36 AM

A great variety of the worst political websites in the country has been collected by c/net.

The problem in selecting the most ridiculous, poorly crafted, or just plain bizarre political Web sites is an embarrassment of riches: There are so many worthy contenders.

And our own Rep. Jay Inslee gets a place of dishonor:

Meet Jay Inslee, an on-again, off-again Democratic representative to the U.S. Congress from Washington state since 1992. In keeping with the spirit of his tech-centric district--which includes Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond--he offers an official campaign blog. It's outfitted with an internal search engine, options for e-mailing entries, and links for subscribing through 11 different readers. There's just one hitch. Less than two weeks before Election Day, this blog includes absolutely zero entries. This is from the same politico whose campaign biography claims an "unparalleled commitment" to technological innovation. Right.

My favorite of the worst is Texas Rep. Kay Granger and her "killer margarita" recipe.

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Group backing I-933 had "no legal standing to operate," says investigative reporting group

Posted by David Postman at 10:21 AM

As part of its project tracking takings initiatives around the country the Center for Public Integrity released a report this morning about the group behind much of the money for the initiatives:

A Chicago-based tax-exempt organization that has been bankrolling takings initiatives in more than a half-dozen Western states — including all five with measures on the ballot this November 7 — continued to dispense millions of dollars even after its authority to do business had been revoked by Illinois authorities.

While the group had "no legal standing to operate," says CPI, "It was the largest donor ($260,000) to the Property Fairness Coalition, which is backing Initiative 933 in Washington state."

The center's Takings Initiative Accountability Project also has news today on new I-933 radio ads featuring Grammy-winning cowboy singer Michael Martin Murphey.

UPDATE: In addition to the $260,000 given during the time that Americans for Limited Government was behind with its Illinois corporate paperwork, the group gave $100,000 on Oct. 13.

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Reichert, McMorris among GOP's "most in need"

Posted by David Postman at 9:01 AM

The Hill has gotten a copy of the National Republican Congressional Committee's "Final Push List" of the races that are most in need of last-minute money.

With Democratic momentum mounting and control of the House at stake, senior Republican strategists are urging donors to contribute to 33 GOP members and candidates who are "most in need of support right now."


The National Republican Congressional Committee's (NRCC) "Final Push List" consists of 29 Republican seats and only four Democratic seats, indicating that the GOP is playing defense.

Two of Washington's three GOP House members are on the list, Dave Reichert in the 8th District and Cathy McMorris in the 5th.

The Hill's Bob Cusack said McMorris' inclusion on the list is a surprise because the "seat was considered safe earlier this month."

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October 24, 2006

Gore's quiet, dark state of the union

Posted by David Postman at 4:10 PM

Former Vice President Al Gore raised close to $600,000 at a noon fundraiser at the Washington Athletic Club, setting a record for a Seattle event by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Tickets cost from $1,000 for lunch to $26,700 to a private reception and photo with Gore.

Gore was quiet and philosophical and steered far from the sort of raucous stem-winder that I've heard from him in recent years. He seemed almost somber. Rather than rousing the base as polls have mostly good news for Democrats, Gore painted a dire picture of America under Republican rule. After Congressman Norm Dicks expressed some optimism that President Bush was rethinking his Iraq strategy, Gore said he had a darker read on recent news. He figures Bush is only parroting what Karl Rove told him to say in order to help Republicans' election hopes.

In describing the state of the union, Gore quoted German philosopher Theodor Adorno on the rise of the Nazis.

Adorno conducted a kind of autopsy on the Third Reich and he said the first sign of this descent to hell was when this happened, and these are his words: All questions of fact became questions of power.

...

And I'm not drawing an analogy to what happened there. I'm not. But it's dangerous when we allow questions of fact to become questions of power.

Gore said questions of fact become questions of power, though, when Republicans "censor the scientific reports and when they ... allow themselves to believe that they can create their own reality.

Aldous Huxley once said, "All governments lie. But when they start smoking the same hashish that they're giving out to others, disaster lies.

This crowd has apparently begun to believe its own lies.

From a little Web search, I think it was I.F. Stone who said, "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out."

Gore's quiet speech was laced with history and philosophy. He talked about the Enlightenment and arguments between Jefferson and Hamilton, cited Lincoln and quoted the poet Wallace Stevens, who said,

after the last no comes a yes, and on that yes, the future world depends

Gore said:

"There's never been, in the entire history of our republic, a six-year period when so much power has been concentrated in the hands of so few and abused so much. The legislative branch is so shamefully obsequious, cowardly, allowing abuses that are insulting to the American tradition.

...

"These abuses have occurred without the tiniest objection or protest from the one branch of our government that our founders looked to as the defenders of their constitutional design; the repository of their hope that our republic would survive.

...

"What they have done, the Republican leaders of the House and Senate, is to abandon any sense of responsibility to their oath to defend the Constitution."

The lunch at the WAC was a bit of a Democratic dreamland under crystal chandeliers. There was great support for another Gore presidential run and talk of what Democratic control of the House would mean. King County Executive Ron Sims said, "I look forward to Chairman Norm Dicks" and Dicks said he was hoping for "Chairman McDermott as well, on the powerful Ways and Means Committee." In introducing McDermott, Dicks said, "He's been right more than he's been wrong."

Looking at the well-heeled guests, McDermott said;

"It's fun to welcome Norm to my district. He brings the vacuum sweeper in here and takes all the money out of here. And he'll take all the credit back in Washington and it all came out of my district."

Dicks told him to tell it to "Nancy." That'd be Pelosi, the minority leader they hope will be speaker of the House come January.

Darcy Burner, who was talked up by Gore, Dicks and others, spoke briefly. She said that the balance of Congress could hinge on what happens in the 8th District and, she joked, on "me not making any major mistakes in the next two weeks."

Also seen at lunch: Former Gov. Gary Locke, just back from a trip with his mother and father and extended family to his ancestral village in China ... Preston Gates' Manny Rouvelas who told Locke he flew in from D.C. to see Gore ... Boeing's Bob Watt and Al Ralston ... Congressman Jay Inslee and his wife, Trudi, who invited Gore on a kayak trip around Bainbridge Island ... Long-time Gore confidant and friend Pam Eakes ... Gore's local mountain climbing friend Jim Frush ... And the P-I's Joel Connelly, who greeted Gore by quoting what he said Will Rogers told Calvin Coolidge, "The face is familiar but the name escapes."

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Empty chair gets questions at Supreme Court debate

Posted by David Postman at 8:03 AM

If you want to learn more about the behind-the-scenes story of last night's one-man Supreme Court debate, you can read Stefan Sharkansky and Josh Feit, who both played a role.

The event went on as planned before the Downtown Seattle Republican Club even though Justice Susan Owens would not attend. Her opponent, Sen. Stephen Johnson, did show up and faced an empty table and chair with a name tag for Owens.

Questions were asked by Sharkansky and P-I columnist Joel Connelly. And, Sharkansky writes, questions were asked of "both candidates."

And Joel Connelly was a totally stand up guy — he insisted on going through with the debate and promised to pose questions to Owens whether there was anybody sitting behind her microphone or not, and that's exactly what he did. (He asked great questions of both candidates and earned a lot of respect from me and everyone else in the room)

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Democrats work to elect states' top election officials

Posted by David Postman at 7:42 AM

Campaigns for secretary of state are usually low-key affairs. But when election disputes arise, as has been happening increasingly around the country, suddenly much can depend on who holds the office.

Democrats are trying to raise the profile of secretary of state races around the country and garner support for their candidates as a prerequisite for a clean, well-run presidential election in 2008.

The Secretary of State Project has raised more than $235,000 for Democratic candidates in seven secretary of state races this year. The group plays up Democrats' belief that the last two presidential elections were marred, and perhaps stolen, by misfeasance and malfeasance by election officials, particularly in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004.

The group says:

A modest political investment in electing clean candidates to critical Secretary of State offices will provide benefits to everybody for years to come. Any serious commitment to wresting control of the country from the Republican Party must include removing their political operatives from deciding who can vote and whose votes will count.

...

Katherine Harris. Ken Blackwell. Does anyone doubt that these two Secretaries of State, each the chair of Mr. Bush's presidential campaigns in their respective states, made damaging partisan decisions about purging voter rolls, registration of new voters, voting machine security, the location of precincts, the allocation of voting machines, and dozens of other critical matters?

In recent pivotal elections, Republicans have relied upon their control of the Secretary of State position to dramatically influence voting and to block the implementation of voter-verified paper trails. The results have been catastrophic for the nation.

Harris was the Florida secretary of state in 2000 and is now running for U.S. Senate. Blackwell is the Ohio secretary of state and is running for governor.

Republicans do not seem to have any coordinated national effort to back their candidates in secretary of state races.

While Democrats complain about Harris and Blackwell and their political support for Bush, USA Today reported this summer:

At least four Democrats with presidential aspirations — (Iowa Gov. Tom) Vilsack, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and former Virginia governor Mark Warner — have donated to secretary of state candidates. Among Republicans, Arizona Sen. John McCain has helped candidates in Michigan, South Carolina and New Mexico; national party chairman Ken Mehlman also helped out in New Mexico.

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October 23, 2006

"Stay the course" now officially gone

Posted by David Postman at 5:38 PM

The White House is conceding that "stay the course" wasn't doing the job in describing U.S. policy in Iraq. That comes at a time when the administration has also begun to talk more publicly about changes in the strategy as well.

It was officially noted that the phrase had been put to rest today by White House Press Secretary Tony Snow during his "press gaggle."

Snow was being asked about President Bush's meetings over the weekend with U.S. military commanders and if there was any shift in strategy.

MR. SNOW: What you do in a time of war, you don't sit around and — I think anybody who has been a Commander-in-Chief knows that there's a certain folly to having ironclad predictions about what's going to happen. You hope it's going to succeed. And if it doesn't you work to fix it. And that's how the administration has approached this challenge.

Q: And is the framework still — is there still confidence in the framework?

MR. SNOW: If by the framework you mean training up Iraqi forces and professionalizing the police, and at the same time, using U.S. forces in a supplementary role, yes, that remains the general approach. Now the question is, what measures do you need to take within that framework to make sure that you not only secure troublesome Baghdad — I mean troublesome neighborhoods and violent neighborhoods in Baghdad, but keep them safe afterward. And that's the challenge and that's what they're working to address.

Q: Tony, it seems what you have is not "stay the course." Has anybody told the President he should stop calling it "stay the course" then?

MR. SNOW: I don't think he's used that term in a while.

Q: Oh, yes, he has, repeatedly.

MR. SNOW: When?

Q: Well, in August, because I wrote a story saying he didn't use it and I was quite sternly corrected.

MR. SNOW: No, he stopped using it.

Q: Why would he stop using it?

MR. SNOW: Because it left the wrong impression about what was going on. And it allowed critics to say, well, here's an administration that's just embarked upon a policy and not looking at what the situation is, when, in fact, it's just the opposite. The President is determined not to leave Iraq short of victory, but he also understands that it's important to capture the dynamism of the efforts that have been ongoing to try to make Iraq more secure, and therefore, enhance the clarification — or the greater precision.

Q: Is the President responsible for the fact people think it's stay the course since he's, in fact, described it that way himself?

MR. SNOW: No.

Bloomberg reports:

Democrats have been repeating the phrase, which Bush has used in speeches and other remarks, in their criticism of the president's policy as they campaign to overturn the Republican majority in Congress in the Nov. 7 election. The administration and congressional Republicans are countering by trying to reshape the debate on the war, which polls show is increasingly unpopular with the U.S. public.

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Owens backs out of tonight's Supreme Court debate

Posted by David Postman at 2:00 PM

Supreme Court Justice Susan Owens says she won't participate in a debate scheduled tonight because conservative blogger Stefan Sharkansky is one of two moderators.

The other moderator is the PI's Joel Connelly. Originally Josh Feit of the Stranger had that role, but he was bumped after complaints from the campaign of Sen. Stephen Johnson, Owens' opponent. The Johnson camp was unhappy with what the Stranger had written about him, including an endorsement last week of Owens.

Owens' campaign issued a press release this afternoon saying the justice would not attend because Sharkansky has donated to Johnson's campaign, supported him on Sound Politics and "is an outspoken critic of Justice Owens and many of her colleagues."

The event is scheduled for 5 p.m. today before the Seattle Downtown Republican Club.

Sharkansky says the event will go on without Owens.

UPDATE: Fawn Spady from Johnson's campaign says it wasn't that the Stranger endorsed Owens that led them to reject Feit. The PI endorsed Owens and Johnson would accept Connelly on the panel.

The Stranger was unprofessional in the ed board meeting and used personal attacks verbally and in their pieces.

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Harry Reid on his way to help Cantwell

Posted by David Postman at 7:32 AM

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, will be in Seattle Saturday to headline a fundraiser for Sen. Maria Cantwell. Tickets run from $100 to $1,000.

The reception will be at the home of Raj and Dilu Shah. Raj Shah is the Gates Foundation's director for Agricultural Development and Financial Services for the Poor.

Reid has recently had to amend ethics reports and reimburse misspent campaign money after a series of stories by the Associated Press. The AP reported earlier this month that Reid was involved in a land deal "that allowed him to collect $1.1 million for property he hadn't personally owned for three years."

Reid also had been using campaign money to pay Christmas bonuses at the staff of his luxury condo.

When the news broke, state Republican Party Chairwoman Diane Tebelius was quick to call on Cantwell to return $6,000 she has gotten from Reid since 2001.

Yesterday, the spokesman for Mike McGavick, Cantwell's Republican opponent, said Cantwell should get rid of any Reid money. Elliott Bundy said:

The allegations surrounding Sen. Reid highlight the fact that the entire culture in DC is broken and corrupt, regardless of party. Given that Senator Cantwell recently returned additional money donated by associates of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, she has shown a willingness to address ethical issues surrounding contributions.

In January Cantwell donated more than $17,000 she had gotten from Abramoff clients to an American Indian charity.

Last month McGavick was quick to return $14,000 from employees and executives of an Alaska oil field company after it was linked in news reports to a federal investigation of Alaska lawmakers.

Also last month Congressman Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, donated $5,000 he had gotten from Rep. Bob Ney after the Ohio Republican pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the Abramoff scandal.

Yesterday afternoon I asked the Cantwell campaign about the senator's take on Reid and whether she had any response to the calls for her to return Reid's donations. I haven't heard back.

UPDATE: Cantwell campaign spokeswoman Katharine Lister responded by e-mail this afternoon. She said the campaign has no concerns about Reid's appearance here.

Only one Senate party leader is under investigation -- and that's Senator Bill Frist. Mike McGavick has invited Senator Frist to fundraise for him in our state, accepted $5,000 in PAC money from Frist's VOLPAC, asked Frist to build a fundraiser in Tennessee last spring, and taken more than $50,000 in bundled contributions from Frist.

Given that Mike McGavick's campaign has now taken more than one million dollars in special interest PAC money including from companies under investigation like Haliburton and BP, we're not taking campaign money ethics lectures from McGavick or any other special interest lobbyist -- former or future.

And speaking of PACs, Bundy said that given Cantwell's pledge not to accept PAC money anything she gets from another senator's committee is "automatically brought into question."

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October 22, 2006

The dailies pick favorites in Senate race

Posted by David Postman at 6:08 PM

Sen. Maria Cantwell and Mike McGavick are touting newspaper endorsements published statewide as ballots are mailed. Candidates always do that. But what seems different this year is the wider reaction to endorsements, particularly to The Seattle Times backing of McGavick and, last week, Dave Reichert.

First, a summary of endorsements from the daily papers.

Cantwell has more. Her campaign blog refers several times an endorsement even from the Vancouver Olympian, which I guess is OK since she has been backed by both the Columbian.
and the Olympian.

The Olympian has some nice things to say about McGavick, too, and asks itself:

So why not endorse Mike McGavick for the U.S. Senate?

Simply put: He's a qualified candidate running at the wrong time.

This nation cannot afford another Republican in the U.S. Senate.

Cantwell has also been endorsed by The News Tribune and the Tri-Cities Herald — like the Olympian McClatchy papers — the Oregonian and the PI.

The Tri-Cities endorsement brought this response from Eric Earling at Sound Politics.

The Seattle Times today endorsed McGavick. He's also been endorsed by the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin and the Yakima Herald Republic, both owned by The Seattle Times, and the Bellingham Herald, the lone McClatchy paper backing the Republican.

The Times endorsement has really set off Cantwell backers. There's a critique on DailyKos, where a writer says, "it simply doesn't make any sense."

Daniel Kirkdorffer weighs in, too.

Reaction to the Times endorsement is not confined to political pundits. Jim Demetre, editor of Artdish, The Northwest forum on visual art, sparked a discussion about it on the group's site. Be sure to scroll down for "Happy Fun Fun with nihilism cartoons."

Who's missing from the list of aghast Times critics? David Goldstein. He's been so amped up since the Times endorsed Reichert he tried to write about McGavick today and ended up back on Reichert.

At the Slog, Josh Feit did some research, lists some of McGavick's positions and says:

And here's the flip-flopping Seattle Times against McGavick before they were for him, editorializing in the past against most of the McGavick positions I've noted above:

He comes up with five examples.

Critics on both sides like to say that MSM newspaper endorsements don't matter much in this age of New Media. But they must mean something given how much of the blogosphere was filled up with discussion about them the past week.

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5th District congressional race tightens up

Posted by David Postman at 1:42 PM

Here's an expert opinion on the race between 5th District Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris and Democratic challenger Peter Goldmark:

"It's a closer race than I first imagined."

You can take that to the bank because it came from McMorris herself. The AP reports:

Jim Camden of The Spokesman-Review was able to listen to McMorris chatting with Idaho Sen. Larry Craig as he stood by for a teleconference with reporters.


Before the teleconference began, instead of being placed on hold, Camden was placed on mute, so he was able to hear the discussion between McMorris and Craig, but was unable to tell them he was listening.

Camden says McMorris told Craig, "It's a closer race than I first imagined."

She said Goldmark was "hitting very hard" at her veterans budget votes, and on recent cuts in veterans services. Camden says McMorris asked Craig to emphasize the increase in overall veterans funding.

National experts agree with McMorris and the race has been getting increased attention in the final weeks of the campaign.

It's also getting plenty of ink in The Spokesman-Review. SR blogger Frank Sennett says a new TV ad from McMorris "takes a wild turn" when it says Goldmark thinks "George Bush and the Republicans caused 9/11."

Wow.


That assertion apparently is based on the following passage from Joel Connelly's Oct. 6 column in the Seattle P-I:

Goldmark "has also taken up journalist Bob Woodward's claim that senior Bush administration brass received but ignored warnings of an imminent al-Qaida attack.

" '9/11 was directly attributable to George Bush and the Republican administration,' Goldmark told a Seattle fundraiser."

Clearly, Goldmark was saying the administration ignored dire warnings of an attack. To then conclude that heeding those warnings would have prevented 9/11 is obviously a stretch. (I'd like to see that comment in its full context to see how far he was climbing out on a limb.)

But the statement in no way supports painting Goldmark as a kooky conspiracist who believes "George Bush and the Republicans caused 9/11." That charge is a terrible distortion of what Goldmark actually said, and it smacks of desperation.

Sennett also recorded a robo-call he got at home from the Goldmark campaign. It's pretty hard-hitting, too.

"I'm Ian Anderson, Corporal, United States Marine Corps, medically retired. Peter Goldmark is strong on national security. I've served our nation in Iraq, so I've seen scum and I've seen toughness. Cathy McMorris' new ad is lying about Peter Goldmark. It's very disrespectful and unethical. ... "


Scum vs. toughness... and Goldmark is strong. Pretty tough implication there.


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October 21, 2006

Reichert, Burner and me on taxes

Posted by David Postman at 10:29 AM

The campaigns of Dave Reichert and Darcy Burner are locked in an argument over Burner's tax position. And my blog has ended up in the middle of it.

Burner has a TV commercial running that calls Reichert and Republicans liars for a variety of things, like the Iraq war. It includes this line:

Now newspaper reports prove that Reichert and his Republican friends aren't telling the truth about Darcy Burner's position on taxes.


At that point in the ad, watch carefully, and you'll see small type in the corner of the screen that says: "Source: The Seattle Times 10/7/06"

That refers to an "Excerpt from the blog" that ran in the paper and was an edited version of a post I did the day before. Here's what appeared in the paper as part of an 8th District ad watch:

As for the tax cuts, Republicans are relying on an interview Burner did in April on "Equal Time for the Progressive Side," a Democratic Radio program.

On the show Burner said:

"We have a set of tax policies that hurt working people and reward wealth instead and that is exactly backwards, particularly right now when the United States is running record deficits."

And she said, "We should let the tax cuts expire."

Collegio says Republicans take that as a reference to the 2001 package of tax cuts approved by Congress. He said that package included the taxes mentioned in the ad, so if Burner wants to let some expire, they all would.

Burner disputes that, and her campaign says she supports tax cuts for the middle class, research and development, and others.

That's it. I don't think that's strong enough to back up a claim in an ad that says "newspaper reports prove that Reichert and his Republican friends aren't telling the truth about Darcy Burner's position on taxes." And there was only a little left out from the original blog post.

I do think the Republican claim is worthy of more exploration and I'll get to that in a moment.

But the ad watch I wrote was an attempt to show the source of the claim that Burner wanted to raise taxes and gave her the chance to dispute it. And certainly readers had the opportunity to decide if they thought it was proof of the claim or not. In the Burner ad there's also the problem of unsubstantiated pluralism, a syndrome that also infects journalism. The Burner ad says "newspaper reports" but there's only one cited. (Have you ever noticed how often a newspaper story refers to "critics" or "sources" and then only mentions one? Stamp out rampant pluralism!)

This is the second version of the ad. The initial one referenced another Seattle Times story — one that had nothing to do with Burner's tax positions. The campaign changed it after we objected.

I was told by Times staff that the edited version removed all reference to The Seattle Times as the source for the claim that newspaper reports proved Reichert and Republicans were being untruthful. I didn't know until I finally watched it carefully last night that the citation had been changed to something I had written.

Interestingly, Burner initially used the same Times story that the Reichert campaign incorrectly quoted in an ad recently to try to show the Times had slapped Burner for inaccuracies. The Reichert campaign changed the ad, a little, and put it back on the air.

The story was Jonathan Martin's Sept. 24 piece that found inaccuracies in an ad from Burner and a mail piece from the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Burner's tax position is back in the forefront with a new ad from Reichert repeating some of the claims from the NRCC ad.

The Burner campaign put the ad on YouTube.


(A few interesting notes. The first half is Reichert, in color, speaking about his accomplishments. In the second half, a female narrator takes over as the commercial goes to black and white, slow motion video of Burner. And of course the music turns ominous, too.)

The tax issue is raised this way in the ad:

Darcy Burner's committed to raising taxes, the marriage penalty, death taxes and new Social Security taxes.


Reichert's campaign cites two sources for this. The first is a radio interview Burner did in April on a Democratic show called Equal Time Radio. The Reichert campaign says that is proof that Burner is committed to raising taxes. That's the same source the NRCC pointed to.

Here are the portions of the radio interview where Burner mentions taxes:

Burner: The level of economic strain on normal American families is way, way, way too high and that's because the Republicans have set up an environment where tax policies reward wealth instead of work, where the general wage is declining for most families, where health care costs are skyrocketing, where the ability to get access to education is going down because they are cutting funding for education, and you know, the people who are getting trapped in all of this are normal American families.

Interviewer: The middle class.

Burner: The middle class.

...

Burner: It is a huge problem right now. We have a set of tax policies that hurt working people and reward wealth instead and that is exactly backwards, particularly right now when the United States is running record deficits. In the last five year every man, woman, and child in this country has accumulated an additional $10,000 in national debt that they owe.

Interviewer: Additional.

Burner: Additional. That's $10,000 more for you, $10,000 more for me, $10,000 more for my three year old son; every single one of us and all of the sacrifices that are being made are being made on the backs of the middle class, we're the ones whose programs they're cutting. They're cutting funding for schools. They're cutting funding for student loads to make it hard for people to send their kids to college. They're cutting funding for veterans programs and for military benefits at a time when this country is at war. And it's our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters, who are going to fight that war, while thy take tax cuts.

Interviewer: What can we do about our national debt? Do we have to cut all social programs in order to make that go away? How can we fix it?

Burner: We have to be very smart about making the investments in the future of this country that we need to make investments in things like education because in the long term and even in the short term those things are essential for us to remain competitive and we have to make sure that everybody pays their fair share.

We should let the tax cuts expire.



That last line is what Reichert and the NRCC point to as Burner's commitment to raising taxes. A NRCC spokesman told me that since the tax exemptions are bundled together in a single bill, Burner cannot pick and choose the exemptions she wants to see expire.

That strikes me as an overly technical "gotcha." If that bill were before her then that'd be the question. But that's certainly not as valuable to voters as knowing where she stands on the individual pieces of the tax cut package.

And Burner has since been more specific, saying she supports making tax cuts permanent if they are "aimed at middle class families and seniors, including the protection of the child tax credit and the elimination of the marriage penalty."

For the charge that Burner wants to raise Social Security taxes, Reichert's campaign cites her appearance on the John Carlson radio show in August where she said:

"One of the obvious things to do is there is a cap right now beyond in which people don't pay any social security taxes and that's an obvious way to deal with the issues."


I heard her say something similar last week on Robert Mak's show. The Burner campaign does not dispute this. Campaign manager Zach Silk said it shows Burner is "honestly dealing with Social Security" and criticized Reichert for his vague answers to questions about Social Security.

Burner clearly opposes some of the tax breaks that she thinks reward wealth not work. And she's willing to support higher Social Security taxes. But she says she supports middle class tax breaks, and would not support the marriage penalty.

I don't expect this will do anything to clear up the dispute. But you at least have the full context of Burner's comments on taxes that are being used by Republicans.

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Esser and Tom talk transportation

Posted by David Postman at 9:50 AM

Daniel Kirkdorffer has a substantive post on a candidate forum at the Eastside Transportation Choices Coalition the other night. Check out the handy chart he made to compare transportation positions of Eastside legislative candidates.

Kirkdorffer is obviously no fan of Republican Sen. Luke Esser and has much nicer things to say about Rep. Rodney Tom, who switched parties from Republican to Democrat to run against Esser. Kirkdorffer points out that Esser arrived quite late and:

In defense of his position to support the I-912 campaign he explained he felt all tax decisions should go to a popular vote. Rodney Tom reminded him that the 48th voted against I-912, and hence to approve the gas tax increase, by 2 to 1. Esser stated that voters made the wrong choice. Tom felt that was an insult to voters.

I was just looking at the endorsements each candidate has. It's a very interesting split. Esser is one of a handful of Republicans to be endorsed by Washington Conservation Voters, the state's most prominent green political group. Tom has the Sierra Club.

Esser's been endorsed by the Federation of State Employees and the Service Employees International Union. Tom has the Washington State Labor Council. The Washington Realtors PAC endorsed Esser, even though Tom has been a Realtor for 17 years.

It's one of the most expensive legislative campaigns with Esser raising about $275,000 and Tom at about $220,000. It looks to me from a quick review of the PDC site that this is the only state Senate race this year where both candidates have already raised more than $200,000.

Democrats would love to make inroads in the Eastside and Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz has called this the race of the year.

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National money dries up in Senate race

Posted by David Postman at 9:20 AM

Les Blumenthal of McClatchy News Service is all over the papers, including The Olympian, today with a story about the lack of national Republican money for Mike McGavick. National Democrats aren't spending money here either, though Maria Cantwell has a lot more money in the bank.

Some political analysts said the decision not to advertise shows national Republicans have all but conceded the race to Cantwell and have decided to spend their money elsewhere as they struggle to retain control of the Senate.

Other analysts said McGavick is trying to portray himself as an independent. Given President Bush's dismal poll standings, they said, the last thing he wants are television ads linking him to national Republicans.

A spokesman for the McGavick campaign, Elliot Bundy, said the lack of advertising from the national Republican committees was not unexpected given the closeness of Senate races elsewhere. Bundy also said the campaign had enough of its own resources to make its case as the November election approaches.

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October 20, 2006

A Libertarian's view of the Senate debate

Posted by David Postman at 11:44 AM

Libertarian activist, and Bruce Guthrie's new volunteer coordinator, Jaqueline Mackie Paisley Passey, was in the KING-TV studio for this week's Senate debate and has posted some interesting observations.

She obviously was rooting for her favorite:

Bruce looked absolutely great. He's the tallest of the candidates, looked very respectable in his dark suit and blue tie (and makeup!), and is much more attractive than either Maria Cantwell or Mike McGavick.

But on Passey's blog — which she subtitles, "The life, travels, and thoughts of an atheist libertarian feminist geek girl" — she has some candid comments about Guthrie as well as criticism of Maria Cantwell and Mike McGavick.

And careful what you say at political events. She was also eavesdropping on some of the politically connected audience at the debate.

UPDATE: A reader points out that Passey made quite the name for herself this summer with this provactive post.

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Revisiting the 1998 Senate race

Posted by David Postman at 10:40 AM

The Lexington Herald-Leader is running an expansive series on Sen. Mitch McConnell, clearly one of Kentucky's most powerful politicians.

In an installment headlined "Price tag politics," reporter John Cheves looks at McConnell's fundraising prowess and his opposition to campaign finance reform. Cheves uses Washington state as an example of the lengths McConnell would go to stop reform.

He resents Republican reform sympathizers.

In 1998, Rep. Linda Smith, R-Wash., challenged first-term Democratic Sen. Patty Murray. McConnell's job as NRSC chairman was to assist GOP Senate campaigns. But Smith called for campaign-finance reform and assailed "the old boys and the old establishment." McConnell limited her funding to a fraction of the more than $400,000 he was authorized to provide to her. Smith was defeated.

"We ended up with no money to put on any kind of TV or radio advertising," Dale Foreman, who was chairman of the Washington state Republican Party, said recently. McConnell gave him a frosty reception when he flew east to plead Smith's case, Foreman said.

"He clearly had strong opinions on campaign-finance reform, and anyone who disagreed with him, Republican or not, was not going to get any help," Foreman said.

McConnell denied snubbing Smith because she called for reform. He said she simply could not win. "She was never in the game," he said. But in McConnell's NRSC fund-raising material sent to donors before the 1998 election, Murray was described as "highly vulnerable to defeat."

At the time it was clear Smith was being given short shrift by McConnell. But she said there was some benefit to that because she could raise individual donations as a sort of contribution toward campaign finance reform.

And as I was looking back at stories about Smith's race against Murray, I found some interesting discussion about PAC donations. Smith had sworn off PAC donations, just as Sen. Maria Cantwell has said she's doing this year.

But, just like Cantwell, that didn't stop Smith from taking party money that had come from PACs.

Some of the $200,000 is coming from PACs. But Smith says she's not breaking her vow because it's flowing through the party, and she won't know who the donors are.

...

Smith spokesman Jim Troyer said there is a distinction between accepting money directly from PACs and accepting it from the party on behalf of donors who support Republican principles.


Does that distinction count when it's a Democrat doing it?


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At least he signed off sincerely

Posted by David Postman at 8:58 AM

Last Friday I shared with you a voice mail message left for me about my column about Republican hopes for November. The caller said I was a "political hack and shill for the Democrats."

Apparently I've switched sides. Here's an e-mail I just got about today's column on Congressman Dave Reichert.

David, Endorsing this clown was bad enough. But trying to explain away his statements and provide cover is worse and stupid as well. Reichert knew what he was, a first term congressman with zero clout who did what he was told. The times he voted no were of no consequence and you know it. The Schiavo mess was a done deal and an easy call for Reichert. The soundbite accurately shows what Reichert is, a lapdog for the most corrupt and values exempt administration in our history. Don't you feel like a whore when you write crap like this? Probably not but not to worry. The smug arrogance the Republicans are displaying indicates the fix is in, again, and and the spiral into facism will continue. Don't worry, you will still have a job. Sincerely ...

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White House's "mega-watt smile" pulls off coup

Posted by David Postman at 8:38 AM

In the National Journal William Powers reviews stories in the Washington Post and the New York Times about White House Press Secretary Tony Snow.

The stories were, Powers says, the "kind of news that cares more about pure gamesmanship (Snow's riding high!!) than the principles underlying the game (Is he truthful? Is he doing anything to make this closed administration more open?) ... ."

For this White House to pull off this kind of coverage, in two not-exceedingly-friendly papers, at this particular moment in time -- war raging, polls down, a tough election weeks away -- is a pretty massive coup. After all, to be seen as dominating the press corps (yet again) is a guaranteed image-burnisher among the rank-and-file Republican voters whose turnout will be so crucial.

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Bipartisan income tax talk sounds serious

Posted by David Postman at 7:57 AM


Condotta

The first post I wrote when the blog went live in May was headlined, "Dems and business talk income tax." It was about comments
Gary Chandler of the Association of Washington Business made in a speech about working with Democrats on an income tax plan.

The key Democrat said to have been in on the talks, Rep. Jim McIntire, pooh-poohed the idea that anything substantive was happening. He brushed it off by saying he talks with AWB every week and "it's not unusual to have these kinds of discussions."

But now from the Grand Coulee area's newspaper, the Star, we learn there are very serious-sounding talks about an income tax. And they've been going on for four months.

State Rep. Cary Condotta Thursday mentioned details previously not public about a "radical" new tax plan being designed for the state that would eliminate property taxes.

The 12th Legislative District Republican said he and the majority chair of the House of Representatives Finance Committee, Rep. Jim McIntire of Seattle, a Democrat, are working with the governor's staff on new possible models for a dramatically different tax system for the state of Washington. All of them would at least lower property tax and introduce an income tax.

Condotta said the model at the top of the pile as of Thursday would completely eliminate property taxes and create "direct funding" for schools, a fact previously undisclosed.

Condotta is a conservative Republican from Wenatchee. Star reporter Scott Hunter quotes Condotta as saying the state's current tax system allows "some of the high-end group (to) get away with murder."

He said big companies like Boeing and Microsoft would stand to be hurt the most by any of the changes being considered, but the overall restructuring would benefit the whole state.

Condotta said that he and McIntire have submitted four models to Gov. Christine Gregoire's staff. The plan "most favored at the moment" would amend the state constitution to eliminate property taxes and replace it with a simple income tax that "could be filed on a postcard."

The Star requires a subscription to see the full story. But get a one-day subscription and read the full story. (And a hat tip to Stefan.)

UPDATE: I just talked to Condotta. He had KIRO radio on the other line and may be on Dori Monson's show this afternoon. He said he's feeling a little heat from something that he thinks has been blown out of proportion.

"You got a hold of a story about a little test marketing I was doing in small town. Eight people were in that room. And I didn't think any of them were reporters."

While Condotta has some complaints about the story, he said he would have talked about the tax discussions even if he knew a reporter was listening. One correction, he said that he had mentioned that legislative staff, not the governor's office, was reviewing some of the models and he and McIntire had come up with.

"I'm kind of excited this is coming out because the discussion needs to start. People have to understand there are options. Maybe when it's all said and done we already have the best system. But I don't know that.

"The minute you mention income tax it's just, 'Kill the guy.' That's ridiculous. If you at tax structures around the world some of the most successful are based on income taxes."

Condotta said people should not worry that some new system will be rushed through. Any change would take an amendment to the state Constitution and that can't happen without a vote of the people.

UPDATE: Marty Brown, the governor's chief lobbyist, said McIntire had one meeting with the governor in early summer where the legislator said what he was working on. But that's been the only involvement from the Administration.

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Owens and Johnson debate Monday night

Posted by David Postman at 7:24 AM

What is apparently the only scheduled debate between Supreme Court Justice Susan Owens and her challenger, Sen. Stephen Johnson, will be held Monday before the Downtown Seattle Republican Club.

It will be moderated, as the club announced, by "noted conservative commentator Stefan Sharkansky of soundpolitics.com; and prominent columnist Joel Connelly of the Seattle P-I."

The debate is free and open to the public. It will be at the College Club at the corner of 5th & Madison. Organizers would like you to RSVP if you're planning to come because seating is limited. It will be shown by TVW and the Seattle Channel, though I don't know when.

Also, if you have suggested questions — of the serious sort please — put them in the comments. Phil Bevis of the Republican Club said he'd take a look as they come up with questions for the debate.

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October 19, 2006

In other news

Posted by David Postman at 10:27 AM

  • Apparently the Central Puget Sound Newspaper Columnists Association met last night and decided how to divvy up second-day commentating on the Senate debate.

    The Times' Danny Westneat, who watched the taping live, said he could understand why a cameraman passed out during the event.

    This is the 10th local or national election I've covered as a journalist, dating to 1990. It's the shallowest, most platitudinous campaign I've ever seen.

    ...

    After the debate, there was talk here at the paper of fact-checking what the candidates had said. Until we realized there were scarcely any facts to check.

    At The News Tribune, though, Peter Callaghan, who was also at the taping, said the debate might have resonated with real people even if the punditocracy was bored.

    Thanks to a panel of newsies who broke with tradition and asked questions designed to inform voters, not trap candidates, the first and really only debate in this campaign came and went without a gaffe, a stumble or a knockout punch. The questioners took their cues not from the candidates' own attack ads but from issues that just might be on the minds of regular folks.

    Professional campaign consultants, party hacks and political junkies must be worried. What will become of them if this catches on?

    And Robert Jamieson in the PI watched on TV with Green Party candidate Aaron Dixon, who he says would have added to the debate.

    Officially, it was the big Senate debate.

    Unofficially, the television show could have been titled, "Which Rich Person Wants to Go to Washington?"

    ....

    Dixon's running commentary offered an unofficial soundtrack to a debate that without strong rebuttals ended up being a real snoozer.


  • The Bellingham Herald reports that Republicans withdrew support for House candidate Craig Mayberry because of the $260,000 he owes in taxes.

    We were very surprised and very disappointed and not aware of his current tax-owing problems," Whatcom County Republican Party Chairman Bruce Ayers said Wednesday evening. "It just isn't fair to voters and the community for Craig to pursue a race here when he's got this over his head.

    "We think somebody running as a Republican should pay their taxes; it matters as far as being a candidate in good standing," he added.

  • I'm not sure how I missed this news, but Gov. Christine Gregoire will dress like the spider from the book "Charlotte's Web" for Halloween. Her husband, Mike, will play the part of the pig. The Olympian grills a Gregoire staffer on the news:

    Q: Who's the hero of the book, the pig or the spider?

    A: That's a debate for the ages.ul>

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Senate war debate bucks national trend

Posted by David Postman at 8:37 AM

Under the headline "Tables Turned for the G.O.P. Over Iraq Issue" the New York Times today says:

With three weeks until Election Day, Republican candidates are barely mentioning Iraq on the campaign trail and in their television advertisements. ... It is the Democrats who have seized on Iraq as a central issue. In debates and in speeches, candidates are pummeling Republicans with accusations of a failed war.

...

Republicans and Democrats said they could not name any examples of Republicans' trying to use the war as a campaign issue.

I've got one: Republican Senate challenger Mike McGavick. In the past few days McGavick has stepped up his rhetoric on the war. He's taken to mentioning "radical Islamic terrorists" so often you might think he's running against one.

He ran a newspaper ad this week with a photo of a man holding a rifle with the caption, "Radical Islamic terrorism threatens our way of life." The ad says he wants to "Defeat the terrorists in Iraq so they don't follow us home" and says he supports "aggressive interrogation of terrorists."

At the same time McGavick is trying to distance himself from President Bush's plans for Iraq by calling for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, saying a new bi-partisan committee should look for war options and aligning himself with critical comments from Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel and John Warner.

It all seems backwards here. I didn't hear anything from Cantwell at Tuesday's debate that would come close to "pummeling Republicans with accusations of a failed war."

The Times says that Democrats in "at least six of eight Senate races considered close are running television advertisements against the Iraq war, presenting viewpoints that extend to calling for a troop withdrawal." Not here, unless I'm missing something.

Democratic Congressional candidate Darcy Burner has a TV ad that criticizes Congressman Dave Reichert and his fellow Republicans on the war:

They didn't tell the truth when we went to war. They won't tell the truth about how badly it's going.

But most of the hard shots on the war have come from two different independent expenditures on Burner's behalf.

Clearly the Senate race is not following the national trend. Even with public support dropping for the war Cantwell has not made much of the war in her campaign.

And that's probably not going to hurt her in the election.

Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, which has polled extensively on attitudes toward the war, said Pew figures suggested that one hope for Republicans earlier in this campaign — that Democrats would be hurt if they were perceived as criticizing the war without offering a strategy for withdrawal — had not been borne out.

"They are not getting punished for not offering an opinion," Mr. Kohut said. "The Democrats have an advantage on this issue, without having to say much about it."


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October 18, 2006

New Demo ad against Reichert needs to come down, says TVW

Posted by David Postman at 4:58 PM

A new TV ad attacking Congressman Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, violates TVW's copyright and user agreement and needs to be stop airing, says Mike Bay, TVW's vice president of programming.

The ad from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee uses what Bay says is a clip from a TVW recording of Reichert speaking in May to the annual conference of the Mainstream Republicans of Washington.

Bay said that people who purchase TVW tapes agree to a policy that says "you cannot edit it or use it for commercial or political purposes." He said he has called the DCCC to ask them to stop airing the ad and is waiting back to hear from someone in D.C.

The ad opens with a shot of Reichert speaking at the Cascade Conference:

Reichert: "So when the leadership comes to me and says 'Dave, we need you to take a vote over here because we want to protect you and keep this majority,' I do it."

Narrator: "And when they told Dave Reichert to give billions to big oil he did it;
and to vote against cracking down on price gouging, he did it. Three times.

Now we now why.

Dave Reichert, another vote for Bush's agenda.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.

The Reichert campaign issued a statement earlier today saying that the quote was taken out of context.

Congressman Reichert stands up to leadership and the President when their interests aren't in the best interests of the Eighth District," said Kimberly Cadena, Reichert's campaign spokesperson. "It's shameless that Darcy and the DCCC has taken a portion of Congressman Reichert's explanation of his stands against leadership out of context.

Here's the rest of what Reichert said in that portion of his brief speech: (Note: I mistakenly left off the earlier portion of his comments which I transcribed from TVW and have added that to this transcript. I think it gives the full context for the quote.)

I've been to district meetings here on this side, in my district, where people say, 'Why in the world would I vote for you. It's just like voting for a Democrat, for cying out loud. I'm going to vote Libertarian.' And I said, 'You know what sir, that'd be a huge mistake and here's why.'

...

I wanted to explain to this person how things work a ltitle bit back in Washington, D.C., and why certain votes have to be taken.

Sometimes the leadership comes to me and says, `Dave, we want you to vote a certain way.' Now, they know I can do that over here; that I have to do that over here. In other districts, that's not a problem, but here I have to be able to be very flexible in where I place my votes.

Because the big picture here is, keep this seat, keep the majority, keep the country moving forward with Republican ideals, especially on the budget, on protecting our troops, protecting this country. Right? Being responsible with taxpayer dollars. All of those things. That's the big picture. Not the vote I place on ANWR that you may not agree with, or the vote that I place on protecting salmon.

You have to be flexible. So when the leadership comes to me and says 'Dave, we need you to take a vote over here because we want to protect you and keep this majority,' I do it. There are some times when I say 'No, I won't.' There are times they have things come to the floor like Schiavo. I was one of five Republicans who voted with Democrats on Schiavo because it was the right thing to do. Government should not have been involved in that decision. Period.

UPDATE: DCCC communications director Bill Burton told me:

"We have heard from TVW and we are very carefully weighing all their concerns."

He said the Democrats got the tape from a "publicly available source." They didn't purchase the tape from TVW. Bay said anyone who buys a tape agrees not to use it for commercial or political purposes.

There may be a fair use argument to be made for a short clip off of TVW. But so far I can't recall anyone else using TVW tape in a political ad.

Here's the ad in question.

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Giuliani drops support for assault-weapon ban

Posted by David Postman at 2:38 PM

I'm a little behind on this, but Josh Feit got something interesting when Rudy Giuliani was in town for Mike McGavick. Feit asked the former New York mayor about the assault-weapon ban, and Giuliani said he has changed his mind and no longer supports it.

Well, here's how Giuliani answered my question: "The assault-weapons ban is something I supported in the past." Since he supports McGavick now, I guess "special-interest politics" — or more aptly, partisan politics — have swept aside what he once saw as a matter of "life or death."

What's most galling about Giuliani's flip-flop on assault weapons is that his pro-McGavick stump speech was squarely focused on homeland security. "We need senators who understand that we have to be on offense against terrorism," he said. "Cantwell's ambiguous support for the effort against terrorism probably concerns me more than anything else."

Because Giuliani may run for president in 2008 this little tidbit may continue to resonate. Here's what John Tabin wrote at the the American Spectator's website:

The self-righteous ignorance that drives so much gun control advocacy never ceases to amuse. Josh Feit's latest column for the Seattle alternative weekly the Stranger is a classic of the genre.

It seems that as he stumps for fellow Republicans and paves the way for a potential presidential run, Rudy Giuliani is prudently backing off from his history of anti-gun demagoguery. Feit is hopping mad.

Feit responds to Tabin on The Slog.


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Estate tax TV ads go by in a blink

Posted by David Postman at 2:16 PM

The Committee to Abolish Washington State Estate Tax is up on the air with lots of little TV commercials calling for repeal of the state tax. Dennis Falk, the sponsor of I-920, said he is running a 5 second commercial on three Seattle stations a total of more than 200 times before the election.

The ad shows a cartoon of a grave stone engraved "The government took all my savings" and a narrator says, "Death should not be a taxable event. Abolish death taxes. Vote yes on I-920." (I updated this after seeing the ad.)

I've heard about the ads but haven't caught one yet.

"You've got to be quick," Falk said. He said the campaign, one of two committees pushing for passage of 920, wanted to do something different.

"The general public, including myself, get tired of those one minute ads. You know what happens when they come on? Mute. Time to get a piece of pie."

When I can get a link to the ad I'll add it here.

Also I added a link below to the first TV ad from the opposition campaign to I-920.

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A second look at the Senate debate

Posted by David Postman at 8:17 AM

I watched some of the debate again last night. I won't pick a winner between Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, Republican Mike McGavick and Libertarian Bruce Guthrie. I'm not sure there was one. All three candidates seemed to stick to what they wanted to accomplish and all did a pretty good job at it.

Cantwell ignored her opponents for the most part, speaking directly to voters about her record. McGavick turned nearly every answer into a criticism of that record. Guthrie showed himself to be well-spoken and well-versed in condemning the two major parties.

There's lots of coverage this morning with few surprises or disagreements about what was newsworthy in the hour-long debate.

In The Seattle Times, Alex Fryer points out what struck me at the time as an odd remark from McGavick.

While trying to strike a middle ground on abortion rights, McGavick said Cantwell "marches at the front of the NARAL parade." NARAL Pro Choice America is the nation's largest reproductive-rights advocacy group.

He started the answer by positioning himself in the middle, but the NARAL comment came off sounding to the right of the middle.

Mostly, Cantwell did not respond to McGavick's barbs. But, during an answer about the budget, she asked, "Do you want to send somebody to Washington who is willing to cut thousands of employees off his payroll and take a cash bonus as a reward for that?"

McGavick clearly was on the offensive, says Jerry Cornfield in The Herald.

With each answer, McGavick sought to create a seam in which to insert a critique of Cantwell on issues including Iraq, Social Security, abortion and immigration.

Though McGavick and Cantwell only had one previous debate, the face-to-face meeting yesterday lost some of its drama with a format that didn't allow for the candidates to question each other and by the presence of Guthrie who physically separated the two major candidates, and seemed to garner a lot of ink in today's coverage.

Writes Paul Sand in The News Tribune:

Guthrie's answers mostly tacked politically to Cantwell's left, including his response to drilling for oil in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge. He said he would support giving the land to an environmental group.

"Do you think the Sierra Club would want to drill in ANWR?" he asked.

Dave Ammons of the AP (via The Columbian) says Guthrie "provided the fireworks and humor, a counterpoint to well-rehearsed soundbites from the two mainline candidates."

He staked out left-of-center positions that could erode some of Democrat Cantwell's base, strenuously opposing the war in Iraq, supporting gay marriage and decriminalization of marijuana and blistering both major parties for a variety of ills, including the big federal deficit.

In the PI, Neil Modie declares Guthrie the winner of the debate:

It gave the polite, well-spoken Libertarian a forum for an earnest presentation of his sometimes out-of-the-mainstream views, a gift of TV exposure and equal footing with two major-party contenders that a third-party hopeful rarely gets. In the process, it probably boosted his potential for peeling away votes from the two major candidates, more likely from Cantwell's Democratic base, given his platform: anti-war, pro-gay-marriage, pro-immigration and pro-marijuana-legalization.

(Modie must have run out of space before he could say who sponsored the debate. It was KING 5, the Seattle City Club and The Seattle Times.)

(CLARIFICATION: Modie left a comment objecting to the line I wrote that said "Modie declares Guthrie the winner of the debate." You can read his whole message in the comments, but I wanted to be sure to add his clarification here:

I trust that other readers recognized that I was saying merely that Guthrie probably gained the most from the debate because it gave him exposure he had never had before, and probably never will again - and not, as you mis-concluded that I concluded, that he "won" the debate on substance.)


Guthrie also put in a plug for other minor candidates, says The Olympian's Brad Shannon.

And he complained politely, yet conspicuously, that the Greens' Dixon and Independent Robin Adair also should have been let in.

...

Guthrie called his appearance a "tipping point" in a bid to build a viable third party to challenge the Democrats and Republicans.
What effect Guthrie's sudden exposure might have on the Senate race outcome is unclear. McGavick said Guthrie was clearly thoughtful but had ideas out of the mainstream.

Cantwell said the Libertarian did well, but she downplayed the potential of Guthrie drawing away Democratic votes with his support for Iraq withdrawal and legalizing medical marijuana.

Stefan Sharkansky has a brief review, and actually found something good to say about Cantwell. (It comes right after he calls her a "plastic partisan.")

Outside the Beltway says Guthrie's effort shows Noblese Oblige.

Stilwell, who is well known here at PoP, does a quick summary for the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

And Blog Reload focuses on the drug war portion of the debate.

For a libertarian, Guthrie gives a pretty tame endorsement for ending the drug war, but it's certainly better than what Cantwell or McGavick have to say.

UPDATE: Eric Earling has some thoughts on how the three candidates did last night.

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October 17, 2006

First anti-920 ad hits the air tomorrow

Posted by David Postman at 5:46 PM

The No On I-920 campaign starts airing its first TV commercial tomorrow. In the effort to save the state estate tax, the committee's ad portrays the estate tax as a "tax break just for multi-millionaires" and says the money raised from the tax goes to important education programs.

Here's the script read by a male announcer:

I-920, the estate tax repeal.

It sounds good. But here are the facts:

99.5 percent of Washington residents don't pay a Washington estate tax, including family farms.

But I-920 does cut $100 million a year in education funding.

A tax break for multi-millionaires that takes millions from our schools.



The visuals are a series of shots of the initiative, a woman at a ferry dock, kids getting on a school bus and a closing shot of a sad-looking little boy in a classroom.

Sandeep Kaushik, communications director for the anti-initiative campaign, said the ad begins airing tomorrow in Seattle and Spokane and is the first 30 second shot in what will be a $1 million TV campaign. He said the ad is trying to correct what he says is "misinformation and distortion" about the effects of the estate tax.

"In some ways you could call it a simple cost benefit analysis: What is the cost of this tax, who pays it, can they afford to pay it. And on the other side of the coin, who benefits, how do they benefit and how many people benefit.

"We feel pretty confident that when they see that they'll move to the no side."

UPDATE: Here's the ad.

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Live blogging the Senate debate

Posted by David Postman at 1:45 PM

I am at the KING 5 studios and will be attempting to blog through the taping of the debate between Sen. Maria Cantwell, Republican Mike McGavick and Libertarian Bruce Guthrie.

As long as my phone connection is good I'll try to give at least highlights of the debate that will air tonight at 9 p.m.

The panelists are Times editorial writer Joni Balter, KING 5's Robert Mak, public radio's Austin Jenkins and Nadine Woodward of KREM TV in Spokane. KING 5's Dennis Bounds is the moderator.

There were no opening statements. The first question was from Mak, who asked who each voted for president in 2004.

Cantwell said she voted for John Kerry. "I thought he matched our northwest values, by that I mean he understood the importance of trade. ... He certainly understood how important our environment was."

McGavick said he voted for President Bush who he said was focused on the most important issues, not what he said were the more minor issues mentioned by Cantwell.
"The single most important issue facing America was the war to defeat radical Islamic terrorism. ... I also felt it was most likely given his record that he would do more to reduce the debt than John Kerry."

He turned the question on Cantwell, saying he knows why Cantwell supported Kerry because he supported higher taxes and spending.

Guthrie voted for the Libertarian candidate, Michael Badnarik. "The American people could see the choices we had were terrible."

MORE: Asked about Iraq, McGavick said, "I believe that we have to get to win the war against radical Islamic terrorism." Again, he turned his answer as a criticism of Cantwell, saying, "Until this election she was a strong supporter of the war." He also said, "I believe to suddenly withdraw from Iraq would give your enemy heart."
McGavick has tried to make that sound like Cantwell's position, though she has not supported a sudden withdrawal.

Guthrie said that "currently in Iraq we have a civil war." He said the only thing the U.S. could do to stop that from spreading is "set up an oppressive regime almost as bad as the one we took out."

Cantwell said, "We do need to change the course in Iraq and to say that we are going to stay there as long as it takes, or even indicate we might have permanent bases is not the direction we should be giving the new Iraqi government."

MORE: The debate was stopped for a bit a few questions in when a camera operator passed out in the studio during the candidates' answers to a question about North Korea. The debate was continuing until McGavick asked that they stop while the man was tended to.

MORE: On a question about what to do about nuclear threats from North Korea and Iran, McGavick said he supports the Bush Administration's refusal to deal directly with North Korea. "I believe the president has responded appropriately because the critical thing here is the country with the greatest influence over North Korea is China."
He said the U.S. needs to "drive a wedge" between China and North Korea and between Russia and Iran.

Cantwell repeated her support for direct talks, as well as six-party talks with North Korea. "I think it's important because this issue is so severe that we have direct communication with them."

Guthrie, said, "The Democrats and Republicans have both failed us in the past, through the particular concessions that they've given foreign countries developing nuclear power and nuclear weapons they have given dictators incentives to develop nuclear programs."

MORE: On abortion, Guthrie said he believes in "medical freedom" and that includes access to abortion. He also said he supports more education about birth control and changes to make adoptions easier.

McGavick said "I find myself in the middle" of what he said were two extremes in the country between those who want a Constitutional amendment to ban abortion and those who want wide access to government-funded abortion.
He said he believes "choice should exist" but he opposes any taxpayer-funded abortion and supports parental notification laws.

He said that Cantwell is "more in the extreme view that women, children, taxpayers, should all be involved and I think that is why she marches at the front of the NARAL parade."

Cantwell answering the specific question about Roe v. Wade, said she supports the court ruling on legal abortion and said "It's the law of the land" and has been endorsed by initiative in Washington state.

A note: McGavick mentions Cantwell in most of his answers and criticizes her position on the issues. I don't think she has mentioned him by name or reference yet. McGavick also looks at Cantwell while she's answering questions, sometimes appearing to nod in agreement. Cantwell and Guthrie mostly look straight ahead.

MORE: Cantwell aimed at McGavick in response to a question about federal spending. She said that McGavick's campaign attacks on her are incorrect and raised the issue of his time as CEO of Safeco: "I ask you, do you want to send someone to Washington who is willing to cut thousands of people off his own payroll and take a" large payout when he left the company.

On the drug war, Guthrie showed libertarian leanings and said marijuana should be decriminalized, at least as an experiment. "If there is widespread social chaos, we'll back up from there." Speaking of his late wife, he said that medical marijuana laws should also be defended so people like her could have access to drugs to minimize pain.

As an aside to another answer, Guthrie said about McGavick's call to drug test some welfare recipients, "I support drug and alcohol testing of members of Congress and the Senate."

Cantwell said she would not support legalizing any drugs and wants tougher laws for meth.

McGavick turned the question into one about border control, criticizing Cantwell's support for better technology at border crossing as "taking pictures" of people crossing the borders illegally. He also said that laws about drug dealing are too lenient.

MORE:The candidates were asked, "Each one of you is a millionaire, how are you able to relate to the average Washingtonian who you represent?

Cantwell talked about her upbringing in a working class family and said she had to use financial aid to go to college. She said that in her 2000 campaign her mother, who was watching from the front row during the taping, grew frustrated at Cantwell being called a millionaire. "Remember, she's much more than that," Cantwell said her mother told one caller.

Guthrie said, "I got here through luck and frugality and work. I'm, by the way, the poorest millionaire up here today." He said that Cantwell and McGavick have far more money than he has in their campaigns and said that other minor party Senate candidates should have been allowed to participate in the debate.
"The other candidate, shouldn't have been excluded just on the basis that they weren't millionaires," he said. Having about $1.2 million in campaign funds was one of the ways to qualify for the debate.

McGavick said Cantwell's Irish-Catholic upbringing sounds a lot like his, too. He said he created success at Safeco and said he could create success for the American people from the Senate.

Only McGavick said he'd support a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. He said he'd support it only if state courts continue to grant marriage rights to same-sex couples.

CLOSING STATEMENTS: "The Democrats and Republicans have both failed us," Guthrie said. "They've left us with massive debt and deficiet spending. They've violated our Constitutional liberties and they led us into an unpopular war with no plan to win. .. if you're ready for a real change, then vote for me."

McGavick, echoing his latest ad campaign, said, "We live in an unsettling time. The war isn't making us feel safer. The deficit is growing out of control and Social Security is going broke. .. Reform is what we need and reform is what I know."

He said that Cantwell has achievements, though he belittled them as "at the periphery of what's important" and "what's keeping people up at night."

Cantwell thanked her opponents and the voters, saying she has been their voice in Washington, D.C., while "never forgetting who I was sent there to represent." She said that's why she has pushed on Enron and opening up agricultural markets and "why I worked so hard on border security and law enforcement issues."

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Bush says it's time to get out the vote

Posted by David Postman at 7:50 AM

Republicans are activating their get-out-the-vote effort which was credited for GOP victories two years ago and now may be Republicans' best hope to stave off major mid-term losses.

An e-mail from President Bush went to Republicans this morning asking them to sign up to work on the "72 Hour Task Force."

The help you gave my campaign in 2004 was invaluable, and I am asking you to go to work again this Fall for your Republican congressional candidates. Time is short--Election Day is under one month away, and in many places people are about to vote early or via absentee. We must do the important work of grassroots campaigning if we are to maintain a Republican majority in 2006.

It appears the program is expanding. In the past, the phone and door-to-door efforts were concentrated on the final three days before the election. Now it's more like a 288 Hour Task Force. Republicans are directed from Bush's e-mail to a website where they can sign up to either make phone calls or go door to door during three sessions scheduled every day between Oct. 27 and election day Nov. 7. The position of "poll checker" is added for election day.

TIME Magazine earlier this month called it the Republican secret weapon developed by Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman.

What Rove and Mehlman wanted to figure out was the code for increasing the number of Republican voters who could be reliably summoned to the polls--a code that, once cracked, could be used to win election after election. "We want to turn 75%-Republican areas into 78%- or 79%-Republican areas while at the same time turning 15% areas into 18% or 19% areas," says Mike DuHaime, political director of the R.N.C.

There's really not much secret about the Republican GOTV. Here's a good article on it from The New Republic in 2002.

I wrote about it 2004 and called it "the largest and most tightly controlled voter-outreach effort in the history of professionally run presidential campaigns."

If you were a George Bush supporter four years ago but didn't show up to vote on Election Day, Karl Rove has your name on a list.

The president's top political counselor counts 119,000 Bush supporters in King County who failed to vote in 2000, a number that would have been almost enough to overcome Al Gore's statewide margin of victory in Washington state.

"There are a lot of friends, a lot of supporters, a lot of our philosophical compatriots who don't register, who don't get out to vote," Rove told King County Republicans in a speech earlier this year.

ABC's The Note points out that the Bush e-mail relies on nostalgia for his 2004 re-election victory to motivate the grassroots.

But it's also a classic base-building, plea to conservatives:

I plan to continue this agenda for two more years, but I need a Republican majority in Congress to continue the progress we have made. Without it, you can bet that our political opponents will do all they can to roll back important tools like the PATRIOT Act, to raise your taxes, and stop me from appointing conservative judges to the Federal bench.

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October 16, 2006

McGavick's new doubts about Bush's Iraq plans

Posted by David Postman at 2:08 PM

Senate candidate Mike McGavick has joined with two Republican senators who have begun to openly question President Bush's Iraq strategy.

Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and John Warner of Virginia are part of the growing list of Republicans who are speaking out against President Bush's plan for Iraq as U.S. casualties rise.

"The American people are not going to continue to support, sustain a policy that puts American troops in the middle of a civil war," Hagel said on CNN's "Late Edition."

Hagel said he agreed with Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who said after a recent visit to Iraq that Iraq was "drifting sideways."

McGavick said at press conferences today and in a statement released by his campaign after he spoke with Hagel and Warner:

"Senators Warner and Hagel have articulated exactly what the American people are thinking — that things are not getting better in Iraq and a course correction is needed. The President needs to make it an urgent priority to start listening to Congressional leaders."

McGavick said Bush should fire Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and that Congress should form a bipartisan joint committee "to formulate new ideas on how to achieve victory."

McGavick also took a shot at Sen. Maria Cantwell in his statement:

"Let me be clear. Senator Cantwell's desired course of withdrawal — whether sudden or incremental, no one is sure — is not an option that will lead to defeating terrorism and therefore is not an option at all."

I think Cantwell has been clear she does not support a sudden withdrawal. She voted in the Senate for a phased withdrawal with no timetable and voted against a resolution calling for immediate withdrawal.

In those debates Democrats urged a different course in Iraq while Republicans defended the president's plans. As recently as an August Q & A with The Seattle Times McGavick was more supportive of the status quo and said he remained optimistic about Iraq.

Much of the country is being rebuilt, with our troops' hard efforts. We're down to intense but limited violence and increasingly Iraqis are taking responsibility for their own society, and there is a government that can begin to function. I took great heart that the Iraqi president said he hoped his forces will be in control at the end of the year, and we could begin the withdrawal. It is common in these situations for violence to spike as you come to a change. ...

Q: You sent out a statement that said you were "hopeful the situation in Iraq will continue to improve." A day later the generals came up on Capitol Hill and there was a notion that sectarian violence is getting worse. You do have U.S. troops moving to Baghdad, which from a military situation is not a good sign.

A: But that is the concentrated problem. If you look at most of Iraq, so much of it is functioning. You're down to hotspots, and you should continue to do what you can to contain those places. Iraq is a big place.

McGavick's new Iraq position is part of what appears to be a new phase for his campaign. He is travelling the state today and is running a full-page newspaper ad announcing, "These are anxious times."

The ad says the national debt is at $8.5 trillion, "Radical Islamic terrorism threatens our way of life" and says Social Security is going broke.

It's a gloomy ad, with the tag line, "Anxious times call for a new senator: Mike McGavick."

UPDATE: Cantwell's communications director, Katharine Lister, sent this response:

With Washingtonians beginning to vote this week, it sounds like McGavick is trying to change his 'stay the course' position, without actually changing his 'stay the course' position.

Senator Cantwell actually believes we should change the course and voted this spring for the Bush Administration to begin a phased-in redeployment of US troops this year. McGavick clearly does not support this proposal.

The Republican-led Congress has total control of all the Senate and House committees and has not done its job in providing meaningful oversight or holding the Bush Administration accountable for a real plan for political stability and winning the war on terrorism. That's a fact no matter how many press releases McGavick issues.

She also said there is not a need for a new committee given that there is a bipartisan Iraq Study Group already looking at the Administration's Iraq policy.

Former Secretary of State James Baker, who heads the group, talked about it some last week.

UPDATE: I got a statement from Warner via his press secretary, John Ullyot. Note that Warner makes the same point Lister does about the Iraq Study group. Warner is also careful to say he didn't say anything to McGavick that he hasn't said publicly already, and says, unlike McGavick, he did not mention Rumsfeld.

This morning, I received a call from Mike McGavick, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Washington State. Mr. McGavick indicated that he had followed with interest my comments on Iraq following my most recent trip there, including my October 5 press conference, and my appearance on CBS's Face the Nation on October 15.

In our conversation, I shared with Mr. McGavick my views on the challenges that remain in Iraq. I did not expand my views beyond the parameters of my prior public comments on the issue. Secretary Rumsfeld did not come up in any way in our conversation.

I indicated to Mr. McGavick, as I have told the press previously, that I intend to hold a further Armed Services Committee hearing on Iraq during the upcoming Senate session in November, to get an update on the situation from DoD officials, and to hear from a range of witnesses in the private sector, as well.

Mr. McGavick shared with me his idea for a bicameral, bipartisan select committee on Iraq, which I told him was a suggestion which would be exclusively for the bipartisan leadership of the next Congress to evaluate and decide. I note that the Iraq Study Group, headed by former Secretary of State James Baker, is already underway with its own bipartisan review.

UPDATE: Hagel thought McGavick's proposal was "thoughtful," but when they spoke they did not discuss Rumsfeld, said Hagel's press secretary.


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SEIU chief wants to hold Democrats accountable

Posted by David Postman at 9:40 AM

Note to Democrats: If you find yourselves in charge of Washington, D.C., after Nov. 7, be careful about resting on your laurels. Some of your friends who would have helped you get there are going to be watching and looking for people to replace you with if you don't live up to campaign promises.

"There really is no accountability, particularly on the Democratic side," Andy Stern, president of the 1.8 million-member SEIU, told me this morning.

He said a decision has been made to form a new political action committee after the election called They Work for Us.

"The idea is we are going to have, I hope, a whole new group of Congress people coming to Washington. They are going to have made lots of promises in their campaigns to change our country. And the ones that fall into the too typical place of not living up to their promises, we're going to find other people in primaries to explain that and hopefully replace them."

The model for the PAC comes from the other side. Stern said They Work For Us will follow strategies pioneered by the Club for Growth. That's a conservative business-backed group that aggressively goes after Republican incumbents it feels are not hewing to Republican fiscal policies.

It's a tough group. Already this year the Club for Growth had a major victory. In August the PAC had its first success defeating an incumbent in a primary. In Michgian the Club for Growth backed Tim Walberg over Congressman Joe Schwarz, who had been endorsed by President Bush and Sen. John McCain. Schwarz was what the group calls a RINO, Republican in name only.

Stern wouldn't say much about the new PAC. He said details won't be released until after the election. But he said it will be backed by other progressive organizations and some "very traditional Democratic organizations."

Stern is in Seattle to promote his new book, "A Country That Works." I've wanted to interview him for a couple of years so I'm glad he's on a book tour and looking for ink.

The book is Stern's take on what's wrong with America and what to do about it. Since becoming president of Service Employees International Union he has turned the SEIU into a major union and a political force. In Washington state, SEIU membership has gone from 5,000 to more than 100,000.

A couple of things jumped out at me in the book. Stern is tough on Democrats as well as Republicans. He criticizes the Republican Party for what he thinks is a wrong-headed ideology, and the Democrats for not offering much of an alternative. He also speaks political heresy, and questions politicians' focus on education and high-tech jobs as the American panacea.

Here's what he says in his book about Democrats:

Unfortunately, the Democratic Party is best known for what it stands against — Republicans. They should stop the Bush bashing and talk about the nation's problems.

Stern told me:

"I think they have an incredible amount of work to do if they want to be a party that working people, middle-class people, say are on their side. And they need new ideas.

"We're not going to drive into the future looking into the rear view mirror. We're as far today from the New Deal as the New Deal was from the Civil War. I'm sure Franklin Roosevelt admired Abraham Lincoln. But he didn't build an industrial economy around 1865 principles and we're not going to build a 21st Century economy around the principles of 1935."

The SEIU backs up its bipartisan talk with money and election support for Republican candidates. In 2004, according to Stern's book, the SEIU was the largest contributor to the Democratic and Republican governors' associations. Overall, though, the union remains much more a backer of Democrats.

In Washington state, the union is expanding the number of Republican legislative candidates it is supporting, "even backing a few Republican incumbents in key races where the Democrats hope to mount serious challenges."

"I think it's been enormously important to be independent for two reasons. One is, Republicans compete for your involvement in their campaigns and they compete on issues because if they really do stand up for what is right for middle class Americans, the people will actually stand up for them. Competition is always good.

"Secondly, I think it just means Democrats can't take you for granted any more, and they too have to stand up for issues."

As Stern hopes to do with his new PAC, SEIU has tried to take out Democrats in primaries. The union came up with most of the $275,000 Alice Woldt spent in 2004 to try to beat veteran Democratic Rep. Helen Sommers, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee. She was seen as not supportive enough of a new contract for home health-care workers that SEIU had negotiated.

Sommers won a close race. There hasn't been any noticeable fallout for the union for being on the losing side. And Stern said the union doesn't regret making a hard run at Sommers.

"I don't think there is any rethinking of exactly what we did. You can always look back and say we should have talked to her more upfront. We may have done it differently. But the point was we had home-care workers who were incredibly hard working and not doing well economically. We had an opportunity to change their lives and our members were disappointed in what she had done and they made a decision that we needed to make a statement.

"Statements are important. I don't think this is always about winning and losing."

The SEIU faced another primary loss this year with its campaign against Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch.

Stern talks about education in a chapter of his book called, "Don't Let Them Fool You." He says Americans are being distracated by "The All-Purpose-Education Diversion."

Universal public education is a hallmark of American democracy — one of our great achievements — but claims that education alone is the remedy for America's economic ills or the mechanism to distribute wealth more fairly is pabulum for the chattering classes.

Stern said this morning that only eight of the fastest growing jobs requires a college education and that college graduates over the last five years are making less in real wages "because the economy is not supporting college-educated graduates any more than it is supporting other workers in middle-class America."

He agrees the United States needs to compete internationally in math and science. He says we should do whatever it takes to find the 70,000 to 100,000 new engineers and scientists needed every year.

"But you can't build an education system on 70,000 to 100,000 people a year. We all need the best education. It's just not an economic plan for America."

Stern will at the Montlake Ale House at 5:30 tonight. It's a Reading/Drinking Liberally event.

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October 13, 2006

Wa Post says Republicans nervous about Reichert

Posted by David Postman at 3:57 PM

The Washington Post says that more national Republican money will be flowing into the 8th Congressional District to help Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn.

In recent days, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has given back television time it had reserved in Democratic-held districts in West Virginia, South Carolina and Ohio -- apparently concluding that those races are beyond reach unless something dramatic changes the national political environment in the 25 days before the Nov. 7 election.

The money is being moved to other races, which has meant more TV time bought for Reichert.

Republicans are also increasingly nervous about the seat held by Rep. David G. Reichert (R-Wash.). Darcy Burner, a former Microsoft executive, has pounded Reichert for voting with the GOP majority in Washington, hoping to capitalize on widespread frustration there. In a sign of nervousness, the NRCC recently increased its spending on television ads in the district.

Burner wants help from the DCCC. "Anytime you spend millions of dollars communicating with voters, it is going to have an impact," Burner said.

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Realtors to stay out of property rights ballot fight

Posted by David Postman at 3:42 PM

The Washington Realtors will stay out of the fight over Initiative 933, the property rights measure on the November ballot.

Steve Francks, CEO of the group, said the realtors will put out an official statement Monday. He said realtors talked to people on both sides of the issue and looked at an independent legal analysis. And after considering the issue since February, the board followed the recommendation of a task force and voted to remain neutral. He told me:

"This should not be interpreted to mean that there is no problem in the state for respect for property rights or the Growth Management Act."

He said realtors have serious concerns about both issues.

"But we also recognize and appreciate the role that good planning can play in a community."

The neutrality stance on the initiative is not a sign that the realtors are shying away from politics. Francks said the group's PAC has more than $1 million that will go towards legislative candidates and independent expenditures for the November election.

The realtors also continue to build an "issue fund" that they can use for public outreach and ad campaigns to lobby the Legislature on the issue of affordability of housing.

That fund had been built up to $2.5 million through a special assessment that members had paid. Last month the board voted for a increase in dues that will bring in an additional $750,000 a year, Francks said.

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Optimistic Pelosi in Seattle for Darcy Burner

Posted by David Postman at 2:55 PM

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is in Seattle today to help Democrat Darcy Burner raise money for her race against Congressman Dave Reichert, R-Auburn.

In an interview this morning Pelsoi said Democratic congressional challengers around the country need to differentiate themselves from incumbents and the Bush agenda but after "you plant that doubt in people's minds" the candidates must also talk about the "positive side," too.

She said that the scandal surrounding former Congressman Mark Foley has boosted Democratic hopes for November, criticized Bush for his policy toward North Korea and said if she becomes speaker in January the House will pass reforms, a raise in the minimum wage, a cut in student loan interest rates and a stem cell research bill within the first 100 legislative hours of Democratic rule.

Pelosi said she's "not measuring the curtains" in the Speaker's office yet. But she's as optimistic as she has been and has nothing good to say about Republicans.

"This is a very tough election. Right now today, we'd win. I won't be coy about that. Right now we'd win. But we're up against Republicans who are unconcerned about money, truth or decency. They will say anything."

Pelosi has a slick brochure called "A New Direction for America." It's 25 pages of an outline of what Democrats say they would do in power, from screening 100 percent of cargo containers to developing "groundbreaking technology and policies" to combat global warming.

She said the plans represent a consensus of the Democratic House caucus. She said that the caucus is very diverse and "some people make jokes about it" but that it forces Democrats to reach consensus.

Democrats make much of Reichert's votes with Republican leadership. They portray that as a sign that he is an empty suit doing the bidding of GOP powers. As they are doing around the country, Democrats wants to nationalize the election as much as possible.

But interestingly, Pelosi boats about unity within the Democratic ranks. She said the party has the "highest rate of unity" since the legendary Texan Sam Rayburn ruled the House in the 1950s.

There's a difference, though, she said.

"That's not because of discipline from on-high, but from consensus."

Local Republicans used Pelosi's visit to try to tie Burner to her as Democrats do with Reichert and Bush. A press release from the state Republican Party this afternoon said:

Will Burner do Pelosi's Bidding in Congress? Left-wing Pelosi wants Burner as protégé.

That is just what former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said needed to be done when he was in town to campaign for Reichert in July.

He said voters need to be told "how weirdly San Francisco these guys are voting" and Democrats will "collapse in defeat."

Since North Korea's increased nuclear threat, Pelosi has come under fire from some Republicans for her opposition to the Administration-backed missile defense system. Pelosi has no qualms about her opposition.

"They are trying to use North Korea as rationale for missile defense. They're allocating enormous resources on technology that isn't there, for a threat that is unidentified, at the expense of our multi-lateral agreement on non-proliferation. And we're saying that's not a good use of money.

"There is absolutely no assurance that it was likely to work. there's no guarantee on anything. But this wasn't even likely to work. It's like having an umbrella full of holes and hoping when the rain falls it'll go where the holes aren't."

Pelosi, who spent 14 years on the House Intelligence Committee, said that the Bush Administration has mishandled North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong Il. She said Bush wouldn't negotiate directly because that's what former President Bill Clinton did and for Bush it was "ABC, anything but Clinton. But the Clinton people were on the right track."

She said that the current nuclear threat with North Korea is an outgrowth of issues not covered with the agreement Clinton reached. But rather than continue the Clinton-style of diplomacy, she said, the Bush Administration shut down any direct talks with Pyongyang.

"We've got to talk to North Korea. We are the power. We make too much of them by saying we're not talking to them. We make them too big. We are the biggest power in the world and certainly we can talk to North Korea."

She said the U.S. should be tougher on China and Russia in pushing them to push North Korea. She said non-proliferation needs to be the most important element in the U.S.'s political alliances.

Pelosi, who have visited North Korea but never met with the country's dictator, said the United States underestimates Kim.

"He's very shrewd. He has the greatest power in the world wondering what he's doing."

She said it's unlikely that North Korea would do anything with a nuclear weapon because "they would be destroyed" in return.

"They're not suicidal," she said. As for Kim, "Everyone likes to call him a kook. He is an eccentric. But he is not without his deep thinkers around him and we have to deal with that."

I wrote in the paper today that the Foley scandal has boosted Democrats in a way that other issues, including the war and Congressional corruption, has not. Pelosi did not disagree. She said that prior to Foley, "We felt very much on course" and the polls were cause for optimism.

But this is different.

"All that we've said about the stranglehold of special interests, cronyism, corruption, the war and Katrina; it all resonated with the American people. But it didn't come close to this, which strikes people right in their homes, right with their families. It's something they wouldn't tolerate for a second."

The scandal and the subsequent investigations "expands the universe of seats where we have opportunities," Pelosi said. that includes obviously Foley's seat in Florida, other Florida seats and has "intensified the races where corruption is an issue." That includes, she said, "all of Ohio."

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Voice mail left for me this morning

Posted by David Postman at 9:23 AM

"Ah good morning Mr. Postman.

"I bet you consider yourself to be a journalist, don't you?

"Well sir, I hate to delude you a little bit here, break your bubble, whatever; even the most causal reader can look at your column today and realize that you're nothing but a political hack and shill for the Democrats.

"So why don't you stop masquerading. And what amazes me is they put your political diatribe on the page marked 'local news.'

"The news content is zero, sir, in your column. Zero.

"So you just have a good ol' Democrat day down there in Olympia, or whatever rock you've crawled under for the night.

"Good day to you sir."

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The frosty but civil debate between Cantwell and McGavick

Posted by David Postman at 7:29 AM

Lots of coverage this morning on the first debate between Sen. Maria Cantwell and Mike McGavick. The two met yesterday in Spokane for one of just two scheduled debates.

It was a 30 minute event and it appears to have included plenty of substantive exchanges, though no surprises.

Reports Alex Fryer in The Seattle Times:

The tone of the discussions was frosty but civil, with Cantwell and McGavick playing to different strengths.

McGavick, a Seattle native, noted in the debate that he had often traveled through Eastern Washington in his youth. From the lectern, he made a point of saying hello to his wife, Gaelynn, and noted they are raising three boys.

Born in Indianapolis, Cantwell has never married.

After referring to local concerns of high gas prices and those serving at Fairchild Air Force Base, Cantwell told the audience: "I grew up in a working-class Irish Catholic family, not unlike some of the neighborhoods right here in Spokane. And that's what gave me the courage to say that I was going to stand up and fight for you in Washington, D.C."



Jim Camden of the Spokesman Review has a good summary of where the candidates stood on the major issues.

The Spokesman also had McGavick and Cantwell in for an editorial board meeting. You can watch the archived webcast of that here. Libertarian Bruce Guthrie appeared at the debate and the ed board was not allowed to participate in either.

Paul Sand in The News Tribune said the ed board meeting covered Eastern Washington issues, as well as the war in Iraq:

An editorial board member asked Cantwell and McGavick how they would explain to a soldier in Iraq why he or she is serving there.

"The U.S. believed that getting rid of Saddam Hussein was an important thing to do," Cantwell said, adding later, "(now) we need a plan. We need real change."

McGavick said he would first thank the service member for serving. "You were sent to topple a regime of hate, and you did well," he said.

At the PI, Neil Modie says it's unlikely the two meetings changed the dynamic of the race:

Neither candidate landed any crippling blows during the two polite face-offs -- a televised half-hour debate before the Spokane Downtown Rotary Club and a 90-minute session with The Spokesman Review newspaper editorial board. That wasn't good news for McGavick, who needs something to boost his lagging poll numbers.

Libertarian Senate candidate Bruce Guthrie attended both events but was not invited to participate. But the Herald's Jerry Cornfield stopped to ask him for his thoughts on the performance of Cantwell and McGavick.

"They're like Tweedledum and Tweedledee on the Iraq War," Guthrie said. "Nobody brought up civil liberties. There's no difference on these two big issues between the two candidates.

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October 12, 2006

Senate Abramoff report names Mercer Island group

Posted by David Postman at 2:32 PM

The Washington Post is reporting that five conservative nonprofit organizations, including a Mercer Island religious group, "perpetrated a fraud" on taxpayers by selling their clout to lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

That comes from a report issued today by Senate investigators who have been looking into the Abramoff scandal.

Senate investigators said in a report issued today:

The groups are (Grover) Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform; the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, which was co-founded by Norquist and Gale Norton before she became Secretary of the Interior; Citizens Against Government Waste; the National Center for Public Policy Research, which was a spinoff of the Heritage Foundation; and Toward Tradition, a religious group founded by Abramoff friend Rabbi Daniel Lapin.

The Post says that Lapin "told the committee that he was shutting down the Seattle-based nonprofit because of negative news coverage related to Abramoff."

But Lapin just told me by e-mail that's not true:

I can assure you that Toward Tradition is alive and healthy with a brand new Web site only one week old and a vibrant program for 2007.

He said he hadn't read the Post story and didn't comment on the Senate report.

The Post said that Toward Tradition was "at the center of some of the most infamous lobbying schemes with Abramoff." Hal Bernton and I wrote about Toward Tradition's connection with Abramoff in January.

The Post says:

The report states that the groups probably violated their tax-exempt status "by laundering payments and then disbursing funds at Mr. Abramoff's direction; taking payments in exchange or writing newspaper columns or press releases that put Mr. Abramoff's clients in a favorable light; introducing Mr. Abramoff's clients to government officials in exchange for payment; and agreeing to act as a front organization for congressional trips paid for by Mr. Abramoff's clients." ... Though the report was issued by Democrats on the Finance Committee, Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) endorsed its findings of wrongdoing by the nonprofit groups. An aide to Grassley said the senator did not co-author the report because he had hoped it would have included Democratic groups that he believes also breached their tax status.

UPDATE: Here's a link to the full report.

The report says that "email
communication indicates that Mr. Abramoff planned how best
to use Rabbi Lapin as a resource."

For example, in an e-mail exchange with Amy Berger, an associate at Preston Gates, Mr. Abramoff suggested that they avoid having Lapin write a letter on behalf of a client, Channel One Network. Ms. Berger already had a copy of such a letter and wanted to ''get them to Jeff [Ballabon, with Channel One] for his approval.'' Mr. Abramoff's response indicates that he needed to use Lapin for another purpose to benefit the same client: ''I don't want Rabbi Lapin to do this. We are going to need him to discreetly call [James] Dobson to get Jeff a meeting, so I don't want to put him out publicly again yet.''

In a telephone call with Minority staff, Rabbi Lapin said Toward
Tradition is in the process of shutting down as a result of negative
publicity related to the investigation of Mr. Abramoff. He said the
corporation had not ''folded'' yet but that legal steps were being
taken to do so.

Lapin just told me:

Although unfounded allegations by Democratic members of some committees and others during the first part of 2006 certainly hurt Toward Tradition, the organization at the present time has no intention of ceasing its work and is engaged in its plans and activities for the remainder of this year and 2007.

MORE: The Minority Staff Report delves into one of the oddest pieces of the Abramoff/Lapin relationship: The lobbyists' request to the rabbi to create some prestigious awards for him to put on an application for an exclusive D.C. club.

E-mails between the two were made public last year that had Abramoff asking, and Lapin assuring him it could be done. But Lapin has consistently maintained that he was joking.

He said in an August letter to the minority counsel of the Senate Finance Committee:

Neither I nor Toward Tradition ever issued an award to Jack Abramoff at any time, neither was the matter of any award for Jack Abramoff ever raised at any Toward Tradition board meeting. There was some well publicized emails between Jack Abramoff and myself in which he humorously inquired as to whether I Could create an award for him to which I responded equally frivolously along the lines of filling a wall of awards for him. No steps were ever taken to facilitate or produce any award for him.

But in the report released today is a copy of an e-mail from Lapin to Abramoff from October 2000, that looks to be the rabbi's list of awards for Abramoff. It says:

Dear Jack,
No need to apologize; I know how long it can take to unpack movers boxes, especially when all they contain are unused knick knacks and long forgotten (but well deserved) award plagues and citations. In any event, the records were fairly easy to access at all three organizations so it was no problem at all.
Here they are:
Pacific Jewish Center, Los Angeles, California.
President: Michael Medved. Rabbi: Daniel Lapin.
In February 1988 you were honored with the award that
recognized you as PJC Distinguished Professor of Talmudic
Law in recognition of the lectures you delivered during
1987. Very pretty blue granite looking type of plaque
if I recall correctly.

Toward Tradition, Mercer Island, Washington.
President: Daniel Lapin. National Director: Yarden
Weidenfeld
In the summer of 1994 you were given the award that
identified you as Toward Tradition's Scholar of Biblical
and American History.

Canadian Business Institute, Seattle and New York City
President: Lewis Kaufman. Director: Julian Hurst
In October 1999 you accepted the award that recognized
your service in establishing CBI's course in Biblical Mercantile
Law in which you served as adjunct professor.

Hope that helps

Medved, the talk show host and prominent conservative cultural critic, is listed as the president of the Pacific Jewish Center that gave Abramoff an award. Lapin and Medved were both involved in the center when they lived in Southern California and have remained close as they both moved to the Seattle area. Medved says there was no award and that the e-mail shows only Lapin's sense of humor. Medved told me in a phone conversation:

"It is a joke. It never happened. Distinguished Professor of Talmudic Law? It's a joke.

...

"Obviously, in retrospect it was a very bad idea for Rabbi Lapin to make light of something like this with the likes of Jack Abramoff. But this is very clearly his sense of humor. ... I think Jack was serious about actually wanting something for the Cosmos Club but Lapin wasn't serious about getting back to him. How pathetic is it to have a guy like Jack Abramoff, making this much money -- much of it improperly -- and he cares about some Mickey Mouse, meaningless awards."

For more, Michael Hood at blatherwatch has a post up with links to several things he has written about Lapin in the past.

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Candidates on North Korea

Posted by David Postman at 11:34 AM

Maria Cantwell and, Mike McGavick disagree on how the United States should deal with North Korea and its increasing nuclear threat.

McGavick is more aligned with the Bush administration, which has ruled out direct talks with North Korea. McGavick spokesman Elliott Bundy said that McGavick believes "it is right to be emphasizing that at least China be involved in any talks because that is where the most leverage is — the wedge between China and North Korea. We shouldn't do anything to lessen the potential of using that relationship as leverage."

McGavick told KIRO TV's Essex Porter:

"North Korea is an unstable bunch and we're going to have to isolate and isolate and isolate that community."

Cantwell supports bilateral talks between the United States and North Korea. She said on KIRO:

I think the United States should engage in direct talks with North Korea. I think that we should continue to pursue at the U.N. sanctions and continue to work with the six partner countries that we have been dialoging with in the past. But I also think we should start a direct dialog.

In the 8th Congressional District, Congressman Dave Reichert, said his spokeswoman Kimberly Cadena, supports sanctions by the U.N. and "diplomatic efforts to diffuse the situation."

As to direct talks, Cadena said, "That's been tried in the past. There were bilateral talks in previous administrations." But Reichert's not ruling it out. He doesn't want that to be the first option, but Cadena said he's willing to consider it.

Darcy Burner had the most detailed response to the question. She supports direct talks with North Korea. She said through an e-mail forwarded by her campaign:

North Korea's test of a nuclear weapon is another indication that George Bush's policies have made us less secure. North Korea has been a dangerous threat throughout the Bush administration and yet Bush has not succeeded in stopping them. Bush's plan has failed.

It's time for a new approach.

...

We also need to conduct strong diplomacy with countries in the region, particularly China. North Korea depends on China for food and fuel shipments, as well as trade; we should ask China to step up and apply pressure on North Korea.

Burner says 9/11 Commission recommendations on securing nuclear materials around the world also need to be implemented. She supports a national missile defense system "that has been tested and actually works" as well as sharing missile technology with Japan and South Korea "to help blunt the new threat North Korea now poses."

There is an echo in Burner's comments from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's statement on North Korea which said in part:

The President's policies are not making the American people safer. Staying the course won't change that. It's time for a new direction.

The North Korean situation was very quickly politicized. The Republican National Committee "issued a statement calling U.S. policy toward North Korea a ``failure'' during the administration of former President Bill Clinton."

Madeleine K. Albright, a secretary of state for former President Bill Clinton, issued a statement on Wednesday defending his administration and striking back at Mr. Bush.

"During the two terms of the Clinton administration, there were no nuclear weapons tests by North Korea, no new plutonium production, and no new nuclear weapons developed in Pyongyang," Ms. Albright's statement said.

Also, in the Newsweek International edition just out there is a fascinating story about a series of events last year that reporter Selig S. Harrison says led to North Korea's threatened nuclear test explosion.

I haven't seen this elsewhere, and it's worth a read to see what Harrison heard on a trip to Pyongyang:

On Sept. 19, 2005, North Korea signed a widely heralded denuclearization agreement with the United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea. Pyongyang pledged to "abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs." In return, Washington agreed that the United States and North Korea would "respect each other's sovereignty, exist peacefully together and take steps to normalize their relations."

Four days later, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sweeping financial sanctions against North Korea designed to cut off the country's access to the international banking system, branding it a "criminal state" guilty of counterfeiting, money laundering and trafficking in weapons of mass destruction.

The Bush administration says that this sequence of events was a coincidence. Whatever the truth, I found on a recent trip to Pyongyang that North Korean leaders view the financial sanctions as the cutting edge of a calculated effort by dominant elements in the administration to undercut the Sept. 19 accord, squeeze the Kim Jong Il regime and eventually force its collapse. My conversations made clear that North Korea's missile tests in July and its threat last week to conduct a nuclear test explosion at an unspecified date "in the future" were directly provoked by the U.S. sanctions.


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I-933 ad would look familiar to voters in other states

Posted by David Postman at 8:52 AM

At the Slog Sarah Mirk dug into the new Sopranos-like TVweb ad from the pro-I-933 campaign and found it only slightly modified from ads showing in Arizona, Nevada and Idaho, to back property rights measures in those states.

I don't know what's worse: the moving piano music as the mobster/politicians evict minorities from businesses while cracking "eminent domain" puns, the squeaky "ethnic" voices of said minorities or the fact that the Statue of Liberty is prominently featured in all four ads. You'd think if you were going to stage a nation-wide campaign disguised as a local grassroots effort, you'd have the decency to edit out the image of Lady Liberty rising outside what is supposed to be, alternately, Seattle, Sun Valley and Phoenix.

Of course, the other problem, as Mirk points out, is the ad is also wrong. As The Columbian first reported, the 933 campaign said that's "Because it's parody, it's meant to be entertaining as much as factual information."

Also, the Times today reports on whether the intiative would also cover personal property.

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October 11, 2006

Burner gets camera shy

Posted by David Postman at 5:14 PM

Democratic congressional candidate Darcy Burner will not make any solo speaking appearances if she is being taped by a camerman from the state Republican Party. Burner's campaign workers recently ordered the camera off, claiming a state law requires a subject's permission to be taped. When that didn't work — as you can see in this video — the camera's view was been blocked.

Burner campaign spokeswoman Jaime Smith said:

If Congressman Reichert were to appear at these forums, we are fine with having anyone who wants to film the event do so. But when the Republicans are trying to get footage of Darcy for the sole purpose of using the footage in misleading and blatantly false advertising, we've asked that this filming not take place. It is our right to ask, and their decision whether to film.

The video comes from a forum last Thursday in front of the Alliance for People with Disabilities at Seattle Center, said state Republican Party spokeswoman Carrie Shaw. The Republican's video camera was also shut down at a Sept. 28 event at Beaver Lake Lodge in Sammamish, she said.

"A man indentifying himself as a Burner staffer told our staffer that it was illegal for him to be filming Darcy without her permission and that state law prohibited that and he told him to shut down the camera. It's a form of intimidation."

Republicans say they looked and could find no state law that would prohibit the video and the staffer was sent back with his camera to the Seattle Center event.

"He was standing his ground," Shaw said.

Smith said that a campaign staffer may have mentioned there was a state law against video taping someone without permission, adding,

"As we understand it, there are some tough laws in the state regarding taping or recording individuals in public spaces."

She did not respond to a question about a specific citation for that law. I don't find one, though there are laws against bootlegging of concerts, voyeurism and eavesdropping.

(UPDATE: Smith says the statute is RCW 9.73.030 (1) (b). It says:

Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, it shall be unlawful for any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or the state of Washington, its agencies, and political subdivisions to intercept, or record any:

...

(b) Private conversation, by any device electronic or otherwise designed to record or transmit such conversation regardless how the device is powered or actuated without first obtaining the consent of all the persons engaged in the conversation.

I'm not a lawyer. (Boy, am I not a lawyer.) But I'm not sure that forums with political candidates count as private conversations. Anybody have any expertise on this?)

This is an issue between incumbents and challengers. Republican Mike McGavick has been followed around the state by a Democratic party staffer with a camera. He gets turned away at private events, like a McGavick press conference, but has taped most all of McGavick's public appearances. I suppose the challenger is out in public more often, and more likely to make a mistake, so the party in power wants it all on film.

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Iraq "reconciliation plan" promoted by American peace activists

Posted by David Postman at 11:18 AM

Dal LaMagna, liberal activist, businessman and co-chairman of Maria Cantwell's re-election campaign, is promoting a Reconciliation Plan for Iraq drafted after a meeting in Jordan between American peace activists and a group of Iraqis, including members of parliament, prominent sheiks and torture survivors.

The American delegation for the August trip included Cindy Sheehan, Tom Hayden, LaMagna and others from the groups Code Pink and Global Exchange.

The plan is comprised of what the Iraqi participants said they wanted to see happen in their country, LaMagna said. He filmed the trip. Excerpts of transcribed interviews with the Iraqis are included on the document he is circulating.

LaMagna is now going to promote the plan to Democratic congressional candidates as a way to get the U.S. out of Iraq in a fashion that best helps the Iraqis.

Cantwell has not seen what LaMagna produced, said campaign spokeswoman Katharine Lister:

"Senator Cantwell knew Dal LaMagna traveled to the Middle East in August and that he filmed his experience. But with preparation for the first of two debates and at least seven joint appearances, she hasn't had the chance to see the video."

LaMagna said he wants to tell Democratic candidates:

I am urging you to frame your comments about the Iraq crisis by saying: It's time Americans start caring about what the Iraqis want for their country rather than what the current U.S. administration wants.

There are 10 points to the plan:

1. End the occupation of Iraq. 2. Create a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops that is synchronized with the implementation of the Iraq reconciliation plan. 3. Disband the militias created after the occupation. 4. Revise Bremer's Orders and allow the Iraqis to rebuild their army. 5. Rewrite the Iraqi Constitution. 6. Keep Iraq as one state and do not partition into multiple states. 7. Begin the promised reconstruction of Iraq. Employ Iraqis and not foreign workers or contractors. 8. Acknowledge Iraqis' right to resist the U.S. occupation, negotiate with the resistance, and give amnesty to Iraqis resisting the occupation. 9. Investigate all the crimes that were committed by the new Iraqi Government and by the occupation forces in Iraq. 10. Make a fair distribution of oil income and natural resources.

LaMagna joined Cantwell's campaign in July as the senator tried to firm up her credentials with anti-war Democrats. LaMagna owns owned Tweezerman, a personal care business, and founded ProgressiveGovernment.org. He has also blogged at The Huffington Post.

If you look at the full plan and read the comments from the Iraqis you'll see that while they want the U.S. out, some caution against an immediate withdrawal, with one even saying Americans should not "cut and run." (A Shiite echoing Republican talking points.)

La Magna wants to push Democrats to change the way they talk about Iraq:

For instance knowing what I now know I find it disconcerting that Democratic candidates are referring to a "civil war" that is going on in Iraq. As you can read, these Iraqis feel there isn't a civil war going on but only the desire for certain interests to have everyone believe there is one in progress. Why? So people will accept the idea of partitioning Iraq, dividing it into three countries.

Every Iraqi we heard from was very clear that they want one Iraq.

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., has proposed dividing Iraq and has warned it is dangerously close to civil war.

The list of Iraqi participants in the meeting includes some controversial figures, such as Sheik Ahmad Awad Al-Kubays. Rutgers University Professor Eric Davis wrote last year in "Religion in the News":

Said to be linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Kubaysi has been highly critical of the American administration in Iraq, and has not been shy about expressing his views in his newspaper, al-Sa'ah"(The Watch). In the June 9, 2004 edition, al-Kubaysi was quoted as saying: "Iraq is infected with several dangerous ailments, first of which is the occupation that wants to steal our land, funds, culture, and existence. The occupation also wants to steal our honor, as you heard from the scandal about what happened in its jails." ... Last September, the interim Iraqi government banned al-Kubaysi from returning to Iraq, reportedly because of his ties to Sunni militants. It was claimed that he gave $50 million to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to fund the latter's militant activities in 2003 — a charge both al-Kubaysi and al-Sadr denied.

The BBC's David Loyn talked to him in June 2003:

DAVID LOYN: In this mosque, the scars of war are a reminder of the continuing presence of Americans. The preacher we spoke to is a Wahabi, the sect which produced the Taliban. He has moderated his early call for an immediate armed uprising against the Americans but it's only on hold. He believes a jihad, or holy war, will be necessary for Iraq.

SHEIKH AHMED AL-KUBAYSI: Jihad has already been declared from the moment of occupation. From the day the foreigner entered our land, jihad was declared.

DAVID LOYN: Do you think there's a common cause between the former government forces and Islamic leaders?

SHEIKH AHMED AL-KUBAYSI: If you knew the nature of the Arabs and the Iraqis in general, you would not ask this. There are many basic things we agree on, like kicking the occupier out.

At the meeting with the Americans in August al-Kubaysi focused blame on America for Iraq's problems:

"We think of the occupation as a bad tree, and that bad tree is attracting all kinds of bad birds. And the only way to have these birds fly away is by cutting that tree."

"The truth is that as the sheik said before me there is only one problem in Iraq
that you all know. And that is the occupation and it's the source of all the
problems that's happening in Iraq. And they will start with hope and try to work
with you all of us to join our efforts to try stop that and prevent it from
continuing and end this occupation of Iraq."

Saleh Muhamed al-Mutlaq was another participant. He is the former chief Sunni representative on the National Assembly committee that drafted Iraq's new constitution. But he rejected the constitution and led an effort for Sunni's to vote against the referendum.

The August trip to Amman got very little attention in the United States except from supporters among peace activists and the left and critics on the right.

Geoffrey Millard, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace, was among the Americans on the trip. He wrote afterward that while there were conflicting views among Iraqis on how fast American should leave Iraq,

Either approach seems much closer to the Murtha or Kerry plan for exit of the region than the Bush doctrine of "stay the course" that now dictates American troop levels in the war.

On the right, the trip was seen as near treason. (Several conservative commenters, though, referred to Iraq as the meeting place, while the meetings took place in Amman, Jordan.) Said Front Page Magazine:

TO FIND PEOPLE WHO HATE AMERICA AS MUCH AS THEY DO, the Fifth Column Left had to go halfway around the world to meet with Iraqi political leaders who call terrorism "honorable national resistance" and say foreign jihadists "are guaranteed Paradise" — and at least one of whom has ties to militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr. By the end of the trip, the American leftists would echo these sentiments.

And locally, LaMagna's participation brought the attention of Sound Politics' Eric Earling who wrote in a September post:

Mr. LaMagna is clearly to the left of most of America, and associates closely with individuals whose views many voters would find disturbing. Perhaps Senator Cantwell could explain why he holds such a prominent position on her campaign?

UPDATE: LaMagna will be showing his film "Iraq for Sale" and talking about the trip to Jordan Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Playhouse on Bainbridge Island. It is free.

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The Reichert and Burner debate

Posted by David Postman at 7:36 AM

Congressman Dave Reichert and challenger Darcy Burner debated last night in Bellevue. Unfortunately I was not able to attend so will watch via TVW, which will air it tonight at 7, again tomorrow, and will also have streaming media available.

Here's a round up of the coverage, though.

No surprise or real disagreement of the theme of the night: Reichert focuses on experience and qualifications, Burner focuses on Reichert as George Bush loyalist.

From the Seattle Times:

"George Bush is taking this country in the wrong direction and this congressman and this Congress will never stand up to him, but I will," Burner said.

In his closing remarks, Reichert raised his voice and listed his credentials as an Air Force reservist, sheriff and congressman who keeps an open mind. He told Burner: "You're going to have to come from behind the bushes and understand that I'm your opponent."

The audience seemed to tilt Burner's way, according to most of the coverage, including The News Tribune:

In his concluding remarks, Reichert mentioned his experience as King County sheriff tracking down Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer who admitted killing 48 women. Some in the audience groaned and laughed.

"It's not comical to the victims and their families," Reichert said to a silenced crowd at the Meydenbauer Center.

The PI was alone in calling the debate "mean-spirited." (They're so sensitive there.)

The King County Journal summed up the debate this way:

As he did throughout the debate in small doses, Reichert in his closing statement reminded the crowd that he has been a public servant for 35 years, including more than three decades as a police officer.

"This is what I have under my belt," he said.

Still, Burner seemed more at ease than Reichert with the debate format and at one point Reichert opted not to answer a question about media ownership because he said he wasn't familiar with the issue.

Looking at the blogs this morning, my first question is where are the conservatives following this race? If someone has seen something out there please send it my way.

At DailyKos, a local diarist applauded Burner's performance:

She was detailed, forceful, and made many powerful points. She backed up what she said very well. Reichert, on the other hand, seemed to lack substance and stumbled quite often. He did not use all his time on many questions.

Be sure to read the comments, as well, though. Some interesting observations from Burner supporters, including these:

  • Reichert was more natural and relaxed during the debate, I thought; he was more comfortable directly addressing the moderator and panelists. Darcy felt a little too scripted and her answers seemed more rehearsed than Dave's.
  • Darcy had a slow start in general; the panelists lofted a few nice fat softballs over the plate for her that I didn't think she took full advantage of. By the end of the debate she was definitely hitting them into the bleachers, though.
  • The jaw-dropping moment of the night for me was when Reichert faced a question about the FCC and the concentration of media ownership and answered "That's not really one of my areas of expertise, so I'm going to pass on that one."

And what did it look like to an outsider? One young woman attended with her boyfriend and his parents and didn't know what to expect from Burner and Reichert's first big event.

They are both running for the 8th District seat (which apparently I'm in), and as I'm trying to become a more informed voter, we all thought it would be a very interesting evening. We were not disappointed!

...

There were two cringe-worthy moments for me, the first being when a question was asked about the country's current strategy in Iraq. Burner said basically that we should leave after making sure the Iraqis were taken care of, which is soon, and Reichert started with, "First off, we were attacked — " but was quickly drowned out by boos and jeers from the crowd, including one from Matt's dad who yelled, "Not by Iraq!!"

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October 10, 2006

Reichert will fix new TV ad

Posted by David Postman at 3:51 PM

Darryl at Hominid Views has been watching Dave Reichert's new TV ad carefully and found The Seattle Times has been misquoted.

I have to agree. And apparently so does the Reichert campaign because they say they will fix the ad.

The ad includes a graphic that reads:

"Burner's charges hurt by 'inaccuracies.'" Seattle Times 9/24/06

But as Darryl points out, and Goldy gets in on, too, there is no such headline and the story does not include that line.

There is a story that ran that day by Jonathan Martin that says:

Ads against both candidates contain inaccuracies.

And, I have to disagree with Darryl a little here, it does point out an error in Burner's TV ad.

Her ad emphasizes her military connections and accuses Reichert, a former Air Force reservist, of breaking the "promise America makes" to service members in action by voting to "cut funding for veterans' health care." But the votes it is based upon — Reichert's party-line votes for 2006 and 2007 budgets — do not cut Veteran's Administration health-care programs. Mike Shields, Reichert's chief of staff, said the VA's health-care budget increased 16 percent during the time Reichert has been in office.

The Burner campaign disputes that, but that's what the story says. Reichert spokeswoman Kimberly Cadena says the ad is being changed:

The Reichert campaign made a mistake with the punctuation in its ad. We are fixing the punctuation to accurately describe what was in the Seattle Times article.

What has not changed is what the Seattle Times said — and that is that Darcy Burner's ad was inaccurate and that Congressman Reichert did not vote to cut healthcare benefits for Veterans. The fact is Congressman Reichert voted to increase veterans healthcare by 16%.

So now that Congressman Reichert's campaign has fixed the punctuation in its ad, will Darcy Burner fix the false accusation in her ad and tell the truth about Congressman Reichert's record on veterans?

I'll have to see how the "punctuation" changes. Of course whatever headline is used, Burner's campaign could use a variation to say that Reichert was wrong since the story found errors on both sides.

And I bet at the debate tonight we hear more about veterans benefits.

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Guthrie in the KING 5/Seattle Times debate

Posted by David Postman at 2:14 PM

Libertarian Senate Candidate Bruce Guthrie has been told he will have a seat at the televised Senate debate with Sen. Maria Cantwell and Republican challenger Mike McGavick, so says the blog of libertarian Jacqueline Mackie Paisely Passey, who adds:

Woot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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More newspaper money for I-920 and questions for the press

Posted by David Postman at 1:51 PM

The Yes on 920 Campaign: Keeping Washington Business Alive reported today that the Wenatchee World donated $25,000 to the effort to repeal the state estate tax. Reports filed with the Public Disclosure Commission show it came on Oct. 2.

That news, as well as an in-kind donation to the campaign from The Seattle Times I wrote about last night, prompted a call from Sandeep Kaushik, communications director for the No on I-920 campaign. He says newspapers, including the one I work for, are breaching their trust with readers.

"The publishers of these newspapers contributing are showing a cavalier willingness to sacrifice their own papers' journalistic credibility so they can attain a self-serving political agenda."

The Columbian in Vancouver and a chain of small papers, Pioneer Newspapers, earlier donated money to the campaign.

Kaushik is a former reporter for The Stranger and currently on leave from his job as an aide to King County Executive Ron Sims. He said he was working today on plans for a previously scheduled meeting Friday with the editorial board of the Wenatchee World.

"Now I've got to figure out, do we still do it? It's getting a little absurd. It's getting to be a pretty long list of newspapers that have direct involvement."

The Seattle Times Company owns the Yakima Herald and the Walla Walla Union Bulletin, and the papers in the Pioneer chain include the Ellensburg Record and the Skagit Valley Herald.

Kaushik is not the only one concerned about the newspapers' roles. And for the record, he and other critics are most concerned about The Seattle Times because publisher Frank Blethen has made repeal of the estate tax a priority for him, the paper and the company.

In their 2003 book, "Wealth and Our Commonwealth," Bill Gates, Sr., and Chuck Collins, supporters of the estate tax, wrote about Blethen's "passionate and committed," though they say misleading, campaign for repeal.

"He has marshaled his considerable energy and resources to the cause. The fact that repeal efforts have advanced as far as they have is a credit to his talents and tenacity," the authors note ruefully.

Times lobbyist Jill Mackie told me that she has helped the campaign on shaping its messages and offered information on the effect of the estate tax on family-owned businesses. She also has helped find business support for the repeal:

"We have also helped connect family businesses who oppose this tax with the campaign."

Kaushik says newspapers should never give political donations.

"Newspapers can't trade on this objectivity and evenhandedness, this aura of dispassionate and reasonable analysis and .. these Solomonic judgments and then be direct players in campaigns."

He says that's especially true when "they've been spotty about revealing their involvement to their readers." He says a newspaper's political activity should be noted any time the paper writes about the issue.

"The Seattle Times and these other papers have put themselves in an ethical hall of mirrors."

Kelly McBride, a former reporter for The Spokesman-Review, is the ethics group leader at the Poynter Institute, a Florida journalism think tank. We talked about the Times' donation and the reaction from Kaushik and others.

"I think that discomfort is there for a good reason. But that doesn't mean this doesn't happen. Publishers and newspaper owners ... all over the country get heavily involved in political issues.

...

"I don't know that you can make the argument necessarily that owners and publishers should not be involved in making political donations. It would be nice but I don't think it's practical to suggest that powerful, influential people are not going to try to use their influence on a political process. It's almost undemocratic to suggest that.

"But a good newsroom will create a system to insulate the journalist from those attempts to wield power and influence, and then explain what that system is to the readers."

And that's where McBride said newspapers fall short, causing readers to be suspicious of their movtives.

"We haven't made a habit of explaining ourselves very well, so of course they're cynical. They have no idea how we do our job and in the absence of any explanation, they assume the worst, which is human nature. That's why we have to take responsibility for our own reputation."

In Vancouver, Columbian Editor Lou Brancaccio wrote a column Saturday trying to reassure readers that the political donation would not effect news coverage of the estate tax.

If you think it through, newspapers have always taken editorial stances on their Opinion pages on issues.

That kind of thing is simply standard operating procedure. And reporters have always been able to do their jobs covering a topic. An editorial stance, a donation or being part of a group doesn't change a reporter's need to be objective.

UPDATE: To respond to much of what has been said about this subject, let me repeat what I said in the comment thread yesterday. In my 10 years at The Times not once has anyone even hinted at trying to influence coverage of this issue or any other becuase of the position of Frank Blethen or the Seattle Times Company. Blethen plays no role in the newsroom, either officially or unofficially and no one does his bidding there, either.

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James Baker works for middle ground on Iraq

Posted by David Postman at 8:25 AM

When former Secretary of State James A. Baker talked Sunday about what his bipartisan Iraq strategy group was thinking, the New York Times said, "he expected the panel would depart from Mr. Bush's repeated calls to 'stay the course' and he strongly suggested that the White House enter direct talks with countries it had so far kept at arm's length, including Iran and Syria."

In a week where congressional Republicans were desperate for any spot of good news, I bet Baker's words on ABC's "This Week" brought comfort to GOP incumbents being tagged in their campaigns as blind followers of Bush's call to stay the course.

I would not be surprised if in our state's top two races, the Senate and the 8th Congressional District, we hear more about Baker and the Iraq Study Group and some version of Baker's Sunday money quote:

"I happen to think, and I think it's fair to say our commission believes, that there are alternatives between the stated alternatives ... of stay-the-course and cut-and-run."

Even before Baker's well-publicized comments, Congressman Dave Reichert was relying on his support for the Iraq Study Group to show daylight between him and the president on the war. In response to a Democratic ad criticizing his support of the president, Reichert's campaign sent me an e-mail last week that said in part:

Congressman Reichert has been vocal in his support of a new approach in Iraq that takes into account the changing enemy in the region. He supports Congressman Frank Wolf's initiative, the Iraq Study Group that formed through the Institute of Peace. This bipartisan group led by former Secretary of State James Baker and former 9/11 Commissioner Lee Hamilton (D-IN) is looking on behalf of Congress at new strategies for victory in Iraq.

Suddenly there's a third way.

In a great backgrounder on the Baker group, Robert Dreyfuss writes in the September issue of the Washington Monthly that the Bush administration was slow and reluctant to support the bipartisan group Wolf put together. But there may have been political motives that pushed the President to give his OK:

If — and it's a very big if — Baker can forge a consensus plan on what to do about Iraq among the bigwigs on his commission, many of them leading foreign-policy figures in the Democratic Party, then the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee — whoever he (or she) is — will have a hard time dismissing the plan. And if the GOP nominee also embraces the plan, then the Iraq war would largely be off the table as a defining issue of the 2008 race — a potentially huge advantage for Republicans.

...

In any case, the Iraq Study Group won't issue its report until some time early in 2007. In a recent speech, according to a member of the task force, Baker said that to do something before the November 2006 elections would inevitably politicize the report, something that Baker desperately wants to avoid.

Baker didn't give details on TV Sunday. But he certainly said enough to generate a round of news coverage and, perhaps, to politicize the report some. (Though it was largely lost in talk of Foley and North Korean nukes.) And it's likely that if Baker and his panel are looking for some middle ground it has already been approved by the President. The New York Times reported yesterday:

According to White House officials and commission members, Mr. Baker has been talking to President Bush and his national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, on a regular basis. Those colleagues say he is unlikely to issue suggestions that the president has not tacitly approved in advance.

And the Washington Post adds:

The comments by Baker, a former secretary of state and a close confidant of the Bush family, are particularly significant because the blue-ribbon panel's findings, to be released after the November elections, are expected to carry significant weight with Congress and the president.

There already are critics and skeptics. The Common Ills could be called cynical:

Until he demonstrates otherwise, Baker's doing what he always does, providing protection for Republicans and acting like a problem's being addressed.

...

James Baker helps James Baker, always. This "study group" may provide some false security to some American voters (and possibly that's why Baker did the chat & chew Sunday) but Baker's dirty hands were involved some time ago and there's little reason for anyone to swallow his self-serving statements that do not, note it, call for an end to the war.

Taegan Goddard's Political Wire says:

With former Secretary of State James Baker back on the political talk show circuit, many hoped it was because he finally felt the Bush administration needed some help in dealing with Iraq, North Korea, Iran, etc.

As it turns out, he's pushing a new book: Work Hard, Study...and Keep Out of Politics!: Adventures and Lessons from an Unexpected Public Life

Even before Baker's TV appearance Dreyfuss was clearly picking up on the prospect of Baker trying to split the political differences in Congress on the war:

Is there really a true middle ground between "staying the course" and "getting out"? ... No team of experts, even those on the Iraq Study Group, is likely to come up with a silver bullet that can defeat the Sunni insurgents, get the religious Shiites to disarm the militia forces, block the Kurds from trying to seize Kirkuk and Iraq's northern oil fields, rebuild Iraq's shattered infrastructure, and prevent civil war. In the end, the choices are: Either we stay and fight, whatever the cost in lives and in money — or we set a date for withdrawal, start an orderly redeployment, and do what we can to encourage Iraq, its neighbors, the Arab League, and the United Nations to step in.

And recognizing the importance of a catchy phrase for even the most serious policy, The Moderate Voice asks:

What would this middle approach be called? "Cutting and staying" — or "running the course?"

MORE: Chad Shue has more thoughts on Baker's work.

And be sure to check the comment threads for a response to Reichert's position from Darcy Burner's campaign manager, Zach Silk.

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October 9, 2006

Times Co. gives in-kind donation to I-920

Posted by David Postman at 4:32 PM

The Seattle Times Company is making in-kind contributions to Keeping Washington Family Business Alive, the business-backed group pushing for passage of Initiative 920. I-920 would repeal the state estate tax.

The in-kind donations are to pay for consulting time of Jill Mackie, a Times vice president and lobbyist. The committee reported Sept. 29 that Mackie had donated $400 in the form of 5 ½ hours of her time working on the campaign.

There will be additional in-kind donations on the next report due at midnight tonight, Mackie told me this afternoon, for a total of about $1,000.

Times Publisher Frank Blethen, who has lobbied to repeal the state and federal estate taxes, told me in August that he didn't plan to make any donations to I-920. He did say Mackie had been talking to the initiative campaign and the Times company "may be involved on the periphery."

Mackie said the company decided to report her time as a donation to be "above board" given that it was being done as part of her Times job, and not as a volunteer backing I-920.

Last month horsesass.org was first to report that other newspapers had made cash donations to the campaign. The Columbian gave $5,000 and Pioneer Newspapers, which owns the Skagit Valley Herald, Ellensburg Record and other small papers, gave $25,000.

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A Cantwell quote can be hard to find

Posted by David Postman at 3:30 PM

Republicans are poking fun at Sen. Maria Cantwell with a release today headlined "Have you seen this woman?"

The National Republican Senatorial Committee came up with a pretty good list of occasions where Cantwell has declined to be interviewed for stories about her campaign against Mike McGavick.

I wish I had written about this before the NRSC press release so I'd look less like a GOP puppet. But Republicans have a point. If you've been reading stories about the race you'll see Cantwell often is not quoted. I know she is busy and that we cannot expect the same level of access to an incumbent as to a challenger. But there have been substantive stories where her absence was notable.

In addition, it can be hard to get answers from her staff. I don't ask to talk to Cantwell often. But I do ask a lot of questions of staff these days because of the ever-hungry blog. I try not to ask frivolous ones. But it can take days to get an answer and even a "no comment" serves better than no response. (As I write this a question I asked Saturday was just answered.)

Maybe this is changing. One of the examples on the Republican list didn't happen exactly as it seems, but may be a turning point, nonetheless. Republicans said:

Cantwell Declined To Be Interviewed For A Story About Her Ducking Reporters.

"It's hard to engage the incumbent when she's largely campaigning in a bubble, relying mostly on television commercials to make her case. For example, Cantwell declined to be interviewed for this story." (David Ammons, "McGavick Chafes Under Cantwell's 'Rose Garden' Strategy," The Associated Press, October 7, 2006)

Ammons did write that last week. It was in the earliest draft of his Sunday column. It became available on the wire Thursday night but was embargoed until the weekend. I don't think it was published anywhere. But apparently both Democrats and Republicans watch what moves on the wire because when Ammons' story was transmitted he got a call from Cantwell and rewrote the story to include her quotes. Republicans obviously captured the earlier version.

Here's what Ammons added after Cantwell's call:

Cantwell, meanwhile, rejects the notion that she's ducking the voters, McGavick, or a full discussion of the issues.

"You certainly have a lot less time (as a sitting senator), and he has had the advantage of being here and being able to get all over the state and work on the ground here seven days a week," she told The Associated Press.

"We're going to run hard for however many days we have left and get all around the state. ... We have to work really hard during this stretch and go all out campaigning."


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Kerry to run for president again?

Posted by David Postman at 11:58 AM

The Boston Globe has this today on John Kerry:

With a frenetic pace of barnstorming and fund-raising on behalf of Democratic candidates, Kerry's moves over the last several months have convinced his inner circle that he intends to launch another run for president.

Told you so. Who needs the inner circle? My inbox told me all I needed to know.

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Pro-strip club ads hit TV

Posted by David Postman at 11:40 AM

The strip club-funded campaign for Seattle's Ref. 1 has two TV commercials airing on cable TV. The group takes a light approach, with at least a touch of humor.

One spot focuses on civil liberties and says the new regulations would turn the police into "moral nannies." It uses vintage photos from the prohibition-era as a female narrator says, "Remember when our government was overly concerned with regulating adult activities?"

That same theme, with a vintage photo of a policeman measuring to see how far above the knee a woman's swimsuit is, appears on mailer the campaign is sending this week.

The other TV spot urges people to "Send the City Council this message: Spend your time on more important things."

UPDATE: Times city hall reporter Bob Young points out that it's interesting that the ads blame the city council, not Mayor Greg Nickels, who proposed the strip club rules. In fact, the council approved them only by a "g-string margin."

There's a recent King 5 poll showing Nickels with a 25 percent favorable rating. But any gloating around the council offices should be tempered by questions about why the council and not the mayor makes for a better target.

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Negative ads the missing ingredient for a McGavick win?

Posted by David Postman at 9:07 AM

At Sound Politics Eric Earling is worrying over Republican Mike McGavick's chances of unseating Sen. Maria Cantwell. He says McGavick can still close the gap, but:

The missing ingredient is someone, or some group, to elevate Maria Cantwell's negatives more than McGavick is likely to do.

I know that Sound Politics is a group blog, with different writers having different opinions about the news of the day. That's one of the things that makes it interesting. But it's hard to take some of what they write seriously when it is debunked or contradicted within paragraphs by their fellow writers.

Brian Crouch undertakes a bit of press criticism of an AP article on McGavick that includes this passage:

He uses phrases like "Rose Garden" and "recluse strategy" to describe Cantwell's above-the-fray, run-out-the-clock campaign. He trails in the polls — even before the Mark Foley scandal broke — and time is short. In just two weeks, voting by mail will be underway.

Crouch calls that Foley reference a "parisan aside" and says:

Though it is hard to fathom how a Georgia representative's controversy should have anything to do with the poll numbers in a Washington senatorial race, it is not hard to perceive the editorial (political) motivation to imply it is somehow relevant.

Hard to fathom? Check out Earling's McGavick post. He says McGavick was struggling trailing in his campaign even before"recent events in the national discourse" and links to a Time Magzine story: Foley: The Final Straw.

You don't need any political motivation to suggest that the Foley scandal may hurt even Republicans who have nothing to do with it.

Earling does some press criticism, too, with his Bad Reporting Snapshot that takes on a story in the P-I. He points out errors in a story about 2nd Congressional District Republican Doug Roulstone's campaign. He says there's no excuse for "lazy reporting" that would get Roulstone's first name wrong or incorrectly reporting who have been the most prominent GOP fundraisers helping the candidate.

You mean lazy reporting like saying Foley is from Georgia? Like Crouch does?

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Questions about Reichert's role in capture of Green River killer

Posted by David Postman at 8:59 AM

Congressman Dave Reichert's role in the capture of the Green River Killer is coming under tough scrutiny. Reichert talks about it often as a dominant piece of his law enforcement career and his time as King County sheriff.
Today, Michael Hood at blatherwatch — which normally focuses on talk radio — has two posts on Reichert and the Green River case. You can read them here and here.

"Reichert used the serial murder case to move forward," (Tomas) Guillen told BlatherWatch. "It was a travesty." Photos released when Ridgway was arrested show Reichert in a suit posing in the bottom of a ravine near the Des Moines Highway.

"He used the grave site of a murder victim for personal ambition," he says.

Guillén is a Seattle University professor and former Seattle Times reporter who covered the Green river case from its beginnings.

Hood also relies on reporting in Lewis Kamb's story on the same subject in last week's P-I. Reichert did not talk to the paper for the story but did give reporters a written statement responding to questions.

When Reichert ran and won two years ago he talked a lot about the still-fresh Green River case. But hardly a question was raised then about his role. Hood explains that Reichert's Democratic opponent had been told to stay away from any criticism of the portrayal of Reichert as the man who caught the killer.

"My standing orders were that we were going to campaign on issues," says Dave Ross. "Rumors I got about Dave or the Green River killer or the release of the book — we weren't going to touch them."

Hood is clearly no fan of Reichert's and does not hide his left-leaning political views. (His Reichert posts are also on horsesass.org, so he's at least an ex-officio member of Bloggers for Burner.) But in addition to blatherwatch he is a freelance writer and his reporting here relies mostly on named sources and the written record.

But really, enough about the hair now.

UPDATE: Turns out Hood's story was supposed to be in The Stranger. But when the PI ran its report they spiked it.

That strikes me as too bad. I know the daily papers are so competitive that sometimes they do nutty things, but The Stranger shouldn't be worrying so much about the Times or PI.

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October 7, 2006

McGavick on Foley

Posted by David Postman at 3:44 PM

I know the Mark Foley page scandal is mostly a House matter. But I saw this in our paper this morning from the Washington Post:

New Jersey's Thomas Kean Jr., who offers the GOP its most promising hope to take a Senate seat from a Democrat in November, called for Hastert's resignation Friday, as did the editorial page of the Los Angeles Times.

I asked Mike McGavick's campaign what he thought of calls for House Speaker Dennis Hastert to resign. His campaign sent this statement from McGavick:

This is a situation that goes beyond politics and political party. The investigation must be beyond thorough, independent and lead wherever it leads. And if it is discovered that the GOP leadership or anyone else knew the full extent of Foley's disgusting behavior before action was taken, resignations are only the first penalties that should be taken. Right now, even if it might be a good political stunt, I'm not prejudging the situation. The investigation that gives us the facts and all culprits must be thorough and immediate. I would only add that 'immediate' means "immediate" - not weeks or months.

The only timeline offered by the ethics committee was Democrat Howard Berman's statement that the investigation will be done in weeks, not months.

MONDAY UPDATE: Cantwell spokesman Amanda Mahnke says by e-mail:

Senator Cantwell believes inappropriate contact with a minor is unacceptable and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

It's particularly troubling when it involves members of Congress and pages, who are under the care of the Congress. When parents turn to the Congress to care for high school students going to Washington, and that parental trust is violated, it is not only wrong, it's criminal.

Senator Cantwell hopes that the ethical and criminal investigations that are underway proceed quickly. Anyone who is found to be responsible for breaking this trust should, at minimum, lose their job.

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October 6, 2006

What to do when Ken Mehlman says not to worry

Posted by David Postman at 7:06 PM

When I talked to Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman earlier today I asked him what he tells GOP candidates worried about being tied too closely to President Bush. He said he tells them not to worry, and had examples at hand of past congressional elections where similar strategies failed.

About 40 minutes later, as Mehlman headed to a rally for Congressman Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, Reichert issued a press release with this big headline:

Reichert Recognized for Boldly Defying Bush

The release was Reichert's response to a TV ad that began airing yesterday from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that accuses Reichert of following Bush in lock-step.

This is not to dismiss Reichert's assertion — backed by some national observers — that he's an independently-minded Republican. That's a subject in need of in-depth reporting that is certain to come. But the timing of this release was worthy of note.

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McGavick sticks by use of "illegals" in TV ad

Posted by David Postman at 5:50 PM

A coalition of immigrant rights and liberal interest groups wants Mike McGavick to stop airing a TV ad that refers to "illegals," saying it is offensive "anti-immigrant rhetoric."

McGavick told me he thinks a press conference by the groups was no more than a "staged event by Senator Cantwell's allies" and called the groups' charge "absurd."

The ad began airing yesterday and features McGavick talking about his differences with Sen. Maria Cantwell on a series of issues. He says in the ad:

Senator Cantwell voted to allow Social Security benefits to illegals — I'd have said no way.

Pramila Jayapal, executive director of Hate Free Zone Washington,
and one of the organizers of an afternoon press conference, told me by phone that "illegals" is "racially charged language."

"It has no place in a candidate's campaign, any candidate. The language is fundamentally dehumanizing to an enormous number of people that are working and contributing to the economy. This kind of language detracts from our ability to have a real conversation about this issue."

I asked Jayapal, given that the ad is only 30 seconds long and that she disagrees with McGavick's position, not just his language, if there was a way to describe illegal immigrants that she would find more acceptable. Surprisingly, she pointed to another McGavick ad, this one on radio. That ad says:

Senator Cantwell voted to allow Social Security benefits to be earned by those who entered our country illegally. I say no way.

Said Jayapal:

"Calling somebody an illegal is fundamentally framing the conversation in a way that doesn't allow us to talk about the system that is broken. People aren't calling Rep. Foley an illegal, or Bush an illegal, or any people we think may have committed an illegal act or has committed an illegal act."

McGavick was unconcerned and called the press conference "just typical nonsense."

"The word illegal is accurate. And there are people from all around the world that fit that bill in this country."

The Seattle Times policy is to not use "illegals" as a noun. The National Association of Hispanic Journalists has said it is troubled by what it says is a growing trend in the media of using "illegals" to describe people who have entered the country illegally.

Using the word in this way is grammatically incorrect and crosses the line by criminalizing the person, not the action they are purported to have committed.

The NAHJ also opposes the use of the phrase "illegal aliens."

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Seeking candidate -- must love dogs

Posted by David Postman at 3:23 PM

Animal protection groups are making a late-season decision to become more serous political players. The Humane Society Legislative Fund decided just a few weeks back that it wanted to engage in campaigning for the first time to "accelerate our political work and influence."

The group just released it's first-ever endorsements. Around the country it's a bi-partisan, though Democratic-leaning, list. In Washington, the group backs Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell and plans to spend money here to help her re-election, said executive director Sara Amundson. She said there will likely be mail and newspaper ads.

In Washington it's mostly Democrats, with endorsements going to Cantwell and in the House, Democrats Inslee, Larsen, Baird, Dicks and Smith, and Republican Reichert.

The fund is a joint effort by the Humane Society and The Fund for Animals. It is a C-4 non-profit and can't make donations to candidates, but can, and will, spend money on independent expenditures in its top races. The group is a few years old, Amundson said. But the board voted only in mid-September to try to have an impact on the November elections.

On its Web site, the fund says that the two animal protection groups are non-profit charities severely limited in what they can do in Washington, D.C. And they have an impressive list of opponents.

Even if you combine our spending on public policy lobbying, you'd find that the total is miniscule compared to that of our opponents. The NRA, for example, spends tens of millions of dollars each year on lobbying and political activity. Our other political opponents — including the American Farm Bureau, the National Pork Producers Council, Safari Club International, and Ringling Bros — have huge war chests. We are at a distinct and often overwhelming disadvantage when we attempt to push sweeping and meaningful reforms.

Amundson, campaigning in California this weekend, said that animal protection has fared well in Congress because many of the issues are bi-arptisan. But that only goes so far.

"You can only do so much in that public policy arena without the additional component of impacting elections."

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RNC chair Mehlman in town to help McGavick, Reichert

Posted by David Postman at 2:23 PM

I just had a quick telephone interview with Republican National Chairman Ken Mehlman. He's in town to raise money and rally volunteers for Dave Reichert. Mehlman said he did a morning event for Mike McGavick, a fund-rasing lunch for the state Republican Party and is soon heading to the Reichert event. Only the Reichert rally got any advance publicity. McGavick's spokesman Elliott Bundy said Mehlman came to campaign headquarters to talk with volunteers.

The big story of the week obviously is the fallout and investigations related to former Congressman Mark Foley's inappropriate messages to Congressional pages.

Mehlman said he thinks House Speaker Dennis Hastert has done a good job handling the scandal. He said that Hastert and House leaders confronted Foley and "offered the political equivalent of the death penalty. They said, "You're out of here or we're going to make you out of here."

He says he's not worried that Democratic TV ads are already using Foley to discredit Republican incumbents.

"I don't think voters are going to want to see people play politics with it. I think they're going to see it as political hypocrisy."

Mehlman said he hopes that voters will be swayed by what the ranking Democrat on the ethics committee, Congressman Howard Berman, said Thursday while alongside Congressman Doc Hastings of Pasco. Berman said he had faith that the investigation would be run fairly and that Hastings has done a good job as chairman of the committee.

"They need to figure out who knew about this inside and outside and people who knew about it have to answer what they did."

Mehlman worked for Texas Congressman Lamar Smith when he chaired the ethics committee.

The Chicago Tribune reported today that "senior Republican officials" told Hastert to back off his suggestion made the day before to the paper that the "scandal had been orchestrated by ABC News, Democratic political operatives aligned with the Clinton White House and liberal activist George Soros."

"The Chicago Tribune interview last night — the George Soros defense — was viewed as incredibly inept," a national Republican official said. "It could have been written by [comedian] Jon Stewart."

Mehlman said he wasn't involved in any discussions about having Hastert back off that line.

On the state's top races, Mehlman said McGavick will be helped in his campaign over Sen. Maria Cantwell if "voters are focused on reform."

Even though McGavick is of the party that has a monopoly control on D.C.?

"I think voters look at this a little less from a partisan perspective."

I asked Mehlman why he thought it was that McGavick seemed to be getting a rough time from some national pundits and publications, including his inclusion on the New York Times' list of "Pols in Trouble" last week where McGavick's photo was right alongside Foley's.

"I don't know why they chose to put his picture there," Mehlman said. He says he tells every reporter he talks to that McGavick is a serious candidate within range of beating Cantwell.

Mehlman is likely the fastest talker in politics. Next time I'm going to have to ask him if I can tape the interview.

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8th District ad watch

Posted by David Postman at 11:58 AM

I've been watching the two new TV ads Democrats and Republicans put up yesterday for their candidates in the 8th Congressional District. I wanted to tell you all about what they were trying to convey, but then someone sent me a wickedly sharp column by Michael Kinsley from today's Washington Post.

In the process of tearing apart Mike McGavick's ad campaign, Kinsley says:

The media do a better and better job each election cycle at pointing out and analyzing these campaign constructs. But by doing so, in a way, they legitimize it all. By raising up the subtext, they diminish the importance of the text. Don't be naive: You're not supposed to take this stuff literally. Politicians are trying to push your buttons. They aren't trying to communicate with you.

So let's take it literally:

Democratic Congressional Campaign Commmittee ad against Dave Reichert.

The full picture on Congressman Dave Reichert

On the issues that matter, Congressman Reichert stands with George Bush.

Supported Bush's stay-the-course Iraq policy.

Supported privatizing Social Security.

Supported Bush's prescription drug plan.

Congressman Reichert even said, "I don't have any regrets" about voting for Bush's energy policy.

Reichert: Just another vote for George Bush's agenda.

Is this how you picture Washington's future?

It's time for a change.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.

On Iraq, the vote cited was a House resolution that was described by the Washington Post as a vote to "back President Bush's policies in Iraq" and to "declare that the United States must complete 'the mission to create a sovereign, free, secure and united Iraq' without setting 'an arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment' of U.S. troops.

Among the 42 Democrats who voted for the resolution were Washington Reps. Adam Smith and Rick Larsen. I doubt either would say it signaled blind loyalty to Bush's Iraq policy.

On prescription drugs, Reichert was not in Congress when that plan was approved. His staff says that part of the Democrats' ad is incorrect because Reichert has problems with the prescription drug plan cited.

But they didn't object when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ran ads here thanking Reichert for his support for the prescription drug plan.

Federal election law prohibits candidates from coordinating so-called "third-party" ads bought by independent groups. But Reichert's spokeswoman, Carol Beaudu, said he indeed supports the prescription-drug plan and has held 16 workshops to explain the benefit to seniors.

On the energy plan, the quote about no regrets came from this story about gas prices in the Chicago Tribune.

Reichert did oppose drilling in ANWR, a key piece of Bush's energy plan. Said Reichert spokeswoman Kimberly Cadena:

"It's inaccurate to say that Congressman Reichert supports President Bush's energy policy when at the center of Bush's energy policy is drilling in ANWR. Congressman Reichert has vocally, consistently and effectively worked in Congress to prevent drilling in ANWR."

National Republican Congressional Committee ad against Darcy Burner

Darcy Burner is throwing mud at her opponent.

Maybe it's so she won't have to talk about her own position on the issues, at least not to some voters.

But she told her liberal supporters that we should let the tax cuts expire.

Even though it means tax increases for families, seniors and small business owners, a return to the marriage penalty, and half the child tax credit wiped out.

Darcy Burner is throwing mud.

No wonder: If she tells the truth, she'll lose.

The National Republican Congressional Committee paid for and is responsible for the content of this message.

I asked Jonathan Collegio, the press secretary for the National Republican Congressional Committee, for an example of Burner "throwing mud at her opponent."

He pointed to Burner's speech at a Democratic National Committee meeting in Chicago in August where she said:

We are at a very dangerous moment in the American experience. We are under attack by forces outside of this country: Terrorists who are focused entirely on killing Americans and destroying this country. And we are under attack from the inside, by an administration and a majority in Congress that would destroy those things that the American people have fought for and won over the last 250 years.


Said Collegio:

"She's comparing terrorists and Republicans, here, the type of mud-slinging, over-the-top negative rhetoric that Washington state voters are tired of."

Is that what people think of as "mud slinging" in this context? Particularly with that closing line about, "If she tells the truth, she'll lose," the implication is that Burner has made false claims about Reichert.

(UPDATE: There are better examples of false claims. The Burner campaign has incorrectly claimed Reichert voted to raise Congressional pay and that he voted to cut veterans benefits. I should have remembered those, even if Collegio didn't offer them as evidence)

(UPDATE, THE CAN OF WORMS EDITION: Burner is unhappy with the above update. She has no beef with the pay raise example, but she and her campaign staff object to the characterization that her ad incorrectly alleged Reichert had voted to cut benefits for veterans. My summary came from a September story in the Times by Jonathan Martin about TV ads in the 8th.

"Ads against both candidates contain inaccuracies," the story said. And,

Her ad emphasizes her military connections and accuses Reichert, a former Air Force reservist, of breaking the "promise America makes" to service members in action by voting to "cut funding for veterans' health care."

But the votes it is based upon " Reichert's party-line votes for 2006 and 2007 budgets " do not cut Veteran's Administration health-care programs. Mike Shields, Reichert's chief of staff, said the VA's health-care budget increased 16 percent during the time Reichert has been in office.

But the VA did admit grossly underestimating the needs of returning Iraq and Afghan war veterans, forcing Congress into an emergency $1.5 billion in extra spending.

Veterans in Washington state continue to complain about access to VA health care. In the agency's most recent quarterly report, the Northwest ranks worst among the country's 21 regions in veterans' access to a primary-care appointment within 30 days of requesting one.

Burner's campaign says it's September ad was correct. Campaign manager Zach Silk said:

We stand by our ad. If you look at the 5 year budget passed by this Congress and supported by Dave Reichert, the funding for veteran programs goes down.

He had a chance to join moderate Republicans in opposing the budget resolutions that cut funding for veterans programs -- including veterans healthcare. Instead, he joined the Republican leadership and voted for a 5 year budget that underfunds veterans programs.

The Burner campaign sent lots of information on this subject today and they have some on its website. I will not attempt to fully report the veterans health care crisis here today. But it should be done. No more updates today, though.

As for the tax cuts, Republicans are relying on an interview Burner did in April on "Equal Time for the Progressive Side," a Democratic Radio program.

On the show Burner says:

We have a set of tax policies that hurt working people and reward wealth instead and that is exactly backwards, particular right now when the United States is running record deficits.

And, what Republicans point to, she said:

We should let the tax cuts expire.

Collegio says Republicans take that as a reference to the 2001 package of tax cuts approved by Congress. He said it was a package that included the taxes mentioned in the ad, so if Burner wants to let some expire, they all would.

Burner disputes that and her campaign says she supports tax cuts for the middle class, research and development and others.

But Collegio stands behind the Republican assertion that to say the tax cuts should expire means the entire package:

"We're not talking about a piece of make-believe legislation that Darcy Burner has tucked away in the left corner of her brain. We're talking about real world things that have passed Congress and are set to expire and must be re-authorized."

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Doumit leaves Senate for timber job

Posted by David Postman at 7:53 AM

State Sen. Mark Doumit, D-Cathlamet, is leaving the Senate to be executive director of the Washington Forest Protection Association.

Doumit is one of the brains of the Senate, particularly on fiscal issues. And in a place where people like to think of themselves as bipartisan, he is one of the few who seems to truly work well on both sides of the aisle. He's spent six years in the House, and four in the Senate. A farmer and fisherman, he is an old school, blue collar, rural Democrat.

The WFPA is the lobbying group the state's timber industry. The current executive director, Bill Wilkerson, steps down in December. (The WFPA says in a release this morning that since it was formed in 1908 the group has had just five executive directors. Doumit will be the sixth.)

A Democrat will be appointed to Doumit's Senate seat until a special election is held next year to fill out the rest of the term.

UPDATE: Here's the Longview Daily News story on Doumit.

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October 5, 2006

McGavick and me on Social Security

Posted by David Postman at 8:12 PM

Mike McGavick says I got his Social Security position wrong three months ago. On June 30 I had a lengthy interview with McGavick and wrote a hefty post about his position. It was a post that got some circulation, in part because it was prompted by calls from Talking Points Memo to try to suss out where candidates stood on Social Security.

In fact, the post was excerpted the next day on McGavick's own campaign blog, with a link to my full post and this note to supporters:

Postman has lots more details on Mike's specific platform. Go check it out.

In the ensuing months McGavick hasn't said anything at all to me about his objections to what I wrote, and neither has anyone on his staff. It can't be that McGavick is shy about calling me when he thinks I'm wrong, even about one sentence.

But he didn't say anything to me until today after Sen. Maria Cantwell started airing a radio ad attacking his position. When I saw the McGavick campaign's response to the ad, it was clear to me there was a discrepancy between what I heard and wrote in June and what the candidate was saying today. So I asked for a clarification and McGavick was quick to call me.

Here's the nut: I wrote that McGavick supported phasing in "individually-controlled, privately managed retirement accounts" for Social Security.

That very section was on McGavick's campaign blog under the headline "Mike on Social Security Reform."

There was also this in my original June post:

McGavick said he knows that people will refer to his talk of personally controlled accounts as privatization. He said financial institutions would be involved, but would not control, the investments. "I'm not turning it over to banks to run. I'm turning it over to the individuals for them to run." The accounts would be similar to 401 K programs, with investment choices "that could provide a higher yield than the current Social Security investment strategy." But with individual control would come a lower guaranteed benefit.

He said today that he has never supported individually controlled or privately managed retirement accounts. He said neither banks, or individuals, would manage the accounts, but that the government would. Financial institutions would not be involved in any way.

"I don't want it privately managed, either by Wall Street or that individual. What I want is a government-run program, with money going into an account. It would be managed by the government."

I told McGavick I was left scratching my head over how such an error could go more than three months without anyone mentioning it. Social Security is an important issue and in the days following my post Democrats criticized his stance. But still, no call for a correction or clarification.

"I feel horrible if there's been some confusion because I don't want an outsider managing the money because I don't trust them to."

So why didn't anyone ever ask me to correct it, or at least let me know it was wrong for future reference?

"I have no idea why that happened. I understand your frustration. But this is the way I view my proposal. I haven't thought about it differently since I came out with it. That's why I have been so critical of people who call it privatization, because I don't want anyone else managing it. I want the government managing it."

McGavick referred me to a page on his Web site that includes multiple examples of him talking about Social Security that fits what he says is his position. But that all came after my June 30 post. I mentioned in my original post the dearth of information available about his Social Security position. That's why we had a long interview about it. And I'm not an expert in Social Security, so I asked a lot of questions before I starting writing.

It can't be that the McGavick campaign has forgotten about the post since June. On the new McGavick Social Security Web page they include a McGavick quote from my post:

"I do not think the president's program was that well designed or that well promoted. But I think something like this with some hard bipartisan work could create a lasting solution for a problem that has cyclically dogged us for decades."

He said he should have objected because my description of having financial institutions manage the money is "outsourcing," and outsourcing is "privatization," he said. And he says he opposes privatization.

That's what he's upset about today; Cantwell's radio ad that says he supports privatizing Social Security. And the ad includes this line: "The Seattle Times writes that Mike McGavick favors privately managed retirement accounts." That's me. And if that is the primary source for calling McGavick's plan "privatization," I can understand why it's important for him to say he needs to correct the record.

But I'm left wondering how I got something so wrong in a post that was written so carefully about an issue that was obviously a hot button in the campaign.

We'll have a story in the paper tomorrow about new dueling McGavick and Cantwell ads about Social Security.

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Hastings and ethics committee to investigate Foley fallout

Posted by David Postman at 10:29 AM

The House ethics committee vote unanimously to form an investigative subcommittee to look into the House page scandal, including looking at what the leadership knew about former Congressman Mark Foley.

At a press conference underway right now, Congressman Doc Hastings, R-Pasco, chairman of the ethics board, said the subcommittee after a closed-door meeting of the full board and "approved nearly four dozen subpoenas for documents and testimony." Hastings said that "many of the individuals we plan tot talk to are members, officers and staff of the House."

He said he hopes those people will agree to cooperate voluntarily and the subpoenas will be unnecessary:

"We believe that most of these individuals share our desire to get quick and truthful answers to the questions that are being asked by so many Americans."

Hastings will be chairman of the investigative subcommittee and the ethics committee's ranking Democrat, Howard Berman of California, will serve as ranking member on the subcommittee as well. Hastings said:

"Simply put the American people and especially the parents of all current and former pages are entitled to know how this situation was handled and we are determined to to answer their questions.


Congressman Berman and I will do so as quickly as possible and we pledge that our investigation will go wherever the evidence leads to."

Berman said that the investigation will take weeks, not months. And he said there was not a need to find an outside investigator. The effort will be lead by an ethics committee investigator. Berman said he has confidence in the staff "to do this in a vigorous, effective, intelligent, quick and non-partisan way."

MORE: Hastings and Berman were asked in the press conference for their opinions about how Republican leadership has responded to the Foley case. Said Berman:

"We all have strong feelings about party, about issues, about philosophy, but for purposes of this investigation, those feelings are irrelevant and I think that's all the chairman and I are trying to say.

Ethics committee member Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Illinois, serves a district that abuts that of House Speaker Dennis Hastert. But she told reporters she did not want to comment on the speaker.

"We're looking at a great number of people, not just one specific person. First of all we have to establish the facts and the facts will lead us to whether there is someone who perhaps did a cover-up. So first we have to establish who knew what."

MORE: Berman endorsed Hastings' leadership of the ethics committee and said they have worked well together on investigations, including some that have not yet been made public:

"We all have strong partisan feelings. We have passionate concerns about issues. We have ideological and philosophical differences. But on this committee and for purposes of this investigation we are going to put those partisan considerations totally aide, as I have seen and witnessed from the chairman during the past five and a half months."

Hastings was asked about his view of Hastert and said:

"I think the speaker has done an excellent job."

He didn't answer when a reporter asked if he questioned Hastert's leadership in how the Foley matter was handled.

As the press conference ended, Hastings offered this clarification as his final words:

"I simply wanted to say that the remarks that I made regarding Speaker Hastert is not related to the matter at hand here."

UPDATE: You can read the joint statement from Hastings and Berman here.

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Hastings convenes ethics committee for Foley probe

Posted by David Postman at 7:36 AM

Congressman Doc Hastings, R-Pasco, has convened a closed meeting of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, the House ethics committee. The committee is considering the case of former Congressman Mark Foley and his inappropriate communications with teenage Congressional pages.

The meeting began about 40 minutes ago in the ethics committee office in the basement of the Capitol. At 10:30 Pacific time Hastings, the ethics chairman, and the ranking Democrat on the committee, California Congressman Howard Berman, will hold a press conference to discuss what the committee decided.

The AP has this preview of the meeting.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to Hastings and Berman over the weekend saying the ethics committee should put the Republican House leadership under oath and question them about who knew what and when they knew it.

Hastings is clearly in the spotlight as the Foley story continues to grow. Florida Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

"The Ethics Committee has been slow. It has been reluctant to act, and the unfortunate result is that the public has lost confidence in Congress' willingness and ability to police itself."

The wise Norm Ornstein writes today about how Hastings came to head the committee after House Speaker Dennis Hastert removed the former chair, Rep. Joel Hefley, R-Colo.

The Speaker's excuse for firing Hefley, a conservative with flinty integrity, was that he'd reached his term limit. Yet Hastert had waived the term limit for Rules Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.). And neither Hulshof nor LaTourette had reached any term limit; they were flat-out canned for doing their job.


Hastert then picked loyalist Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) to replace Hefley, with the obvious prospect that Hastings could move up to chair Rules if he did not stray on ethics. Hastert also added Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), a DeLay loyalist who had contributed to the DeLay legal defense fund, at a time when the only pending ethics matter was related to DeLay. What Hastert did with the ethics panel was a direct affront to propriety and a clear sign that the integrity of the House took a back seat to protecting DeLay and other Republicans from ethics charges.

The Wall Street Journal says the Foley scandal could be a worry for even Republicans who have nothing to with it:

Republican strategists fear fallout from the Foley scandal will suppress turnout among social conservatives and doom their hopes of holding majorities. It also offers an echo of the political dynamics that drove the 1994 Republican takeover of the House.

And it's not just Democrats who are dogging GOP leadership. Infighting remains in the top levels of House leadership, according to ABC News:

Asked to describe the mood among the Hastert team, the aide said they were "frustrated" and "deeply disappointed that so many people are willing to throw Denny to the sharks," a reference to conservatives who have called for Hastert's resignation, as well as to comments by Reynolds and Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, distancing themselves from Hastert.

"Boehner's instincts are the same he showed back in '98," the aide said, referring to the time Boehner pleaded ignorance about an attempted coup of then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., and was defeated in his re-election to House leadership largely as a result.

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October 4, 2006

On TV tonight

Posted by David Postman at 5:48 PM

The Monday Federalist Society panel I moderated on the state Supreme Court's ruling upholding the Defense of Marriage Act is on TVW at 7 tonight. It'll replay a few times tomorrow, too, and then should be available on line.

I thought it was a great event. I have to agree with Annie Wagner at the Stranger who said Minnesota law professor and Volokh Conspiracy Dale Carpenter is very smart and added a lot.

There were also attorneys there from sides of the case, Steven O'Ban who represented interveners arguing that DOMA should be upheld and Bradley Bagshaw, who represented same-sex couples. They know the case as well as anyone and were candid in their comments about the case, and what they think is likely to happen next.

It was a dispassionate discussion about a divisive issue and I learned a lot from listening to the three panelists. Thanks to the Federalist Society for inviting me and for organizing a diverse group of experts.

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Dotzauer's personal donations paid for with company money

Posted by David Postman at 5:25 PM

It's always fascinating to get a glimpse into the world of political high finance. At Sound Politics Stefan Sharkansky has a 1994 court document from lobbyist Ron Dotzauer's divorce that says his personal campaign donations were paid with, in part at least, money he got from his firm for that purpose. Dotzauer's personal and lobbying relationship with Sen. Maria Cantwell has made news recently and Sharkansky has been mining Dotzauer's divorce records for more.

The document says:

The nature of Mr. Dotzauer's business necessitates making more political contributions than in other businesses. At the federal level there are restrictions on corporate contributions. Personal contributions are more effective. To meet this demand, NWS [Dotzauer's company, Northwest Strategies] pays to Mr. Dotzauer an additional sum each month for the purpose of making such contributions.

It's too late in the day to reach the Federal Elections Commission to ask about such a corporate stipend for campaign donations. Sharkansky links to this March case where the FEC found that reimbursing employees for contributions was a violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act.

I don't know what the campaign finance rules were when the Dotzauer court papers were filed. But the FEC said in March:

The FECA prohibits corporations from making contributions or expenditures from their general treasury funds in connection with any election of any candidate for federal office. In addition, the Act prohibits making a contribution in the name of another, knowingly permitting one's name to be used to effect such a contribution and knowingly accepting such a contribution. Further, no person may knowingly help or assist any person in making a contribution in the name of another. This prohibition also applies to any person who provides the money to others to effect contributions in their names.

UPDATE: I just spoke to FEC spokeswoman Michelle Ryan. The FEC will not talk about specific cases or examples that have not been adjudicated by the commission.

But she said that in general, it is not allowed to for corporations to give money to employees for the purpose of making political donations.

"That would still be considered an indirect corporate contribution or a contribution in the name of another. Certainly that would appear to be the use of corporate funds for a political purpose, so it would still fall under the prohibition."
There is a five-year statute of limitations on FEC violations, so this isn't likely anything the commission would be interested in.

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Reichert wants further clarification on his global warming comments

Posted by David Postman at 3:53 PM

Congressman Dave Reichert is still trying to make clear his position on global warming. I get that it's a complicated issue but it's gotten harder to understand since Jonathan Martin's story started all the talk last week.

There's already been one correction and now Eli Sanders says at the Slog that Reichert's spokeswoman reached out to him to follow up on this post yesterday.

"This district is very environmentally savvy and this is an issue obviously at the forefront of most people's minds," said Reichert campaign spokeswoman Kimberly Cadena, during an interview this morning that she requested to set the record straight.

Cadena asked for the interview so she could tell me that the Times article doesn't say what it actually says, and that Reichert didn't actually say what Martin reported him as saying. But before we get to this amazing example of reality-bending push-back, a quick foundation for understanding this whole situation.

You can read it all here.

I'm not sure it's working out so well for the Reichert campaign. But I give his staff points for pursuing this. There are those who will say it's just keeping a bad story alive. But if a politician feels he was misrepresented it behooves him to try to correct the record at the time the story shows up and to at least put the objection on the record. Too often people will wait months, or even years, to say that a story was in error and by then it is too late to figure out what the truth is. Good on Cadena, too, for making the effort with Sanders. The Stranger isn't necessarily a friendly place for Reichert, and others might not have bothered.

MORE: Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman will appear at a rally with Reichert volunteers Friday. The campaign says there is no public event and no fundraiser.

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Seattlest whacks Burner

Posted by David Postman at 11:58 AM

Seth Kollen gives a firm reprimand to Darcy Burner for saying Dave Reichert should be calling for House Speaker Dennis Hastert to resign.

What we have here is fairly substantial evidence that Darcy Burner will be no more likely to "take our country in a different direction" than Dave Reichert will. Not, at least, if she's going to participate in the childish, publicity-minded bickering that's put an end to bipartisanship in Congress and turned it into the nation's most superannuated high school.

A Seattle blogger not on the Burner bandwagon? How'd that happen?

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Bush likely approved FBI probe of Alaska lawmakers

Posted by David Postman at 9:59 AM

The Seattle Times has a story this morning about how the federal investigation of Alaska lawmakers has turned from oil to fish.

And in doing so, the investigation bumps up closer to U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, one of the most powerful Republicans in D.C. Any federal investigation of state lawmakers can be politically sensitive. But the Alaska investigation already involved Stevens' son, state Senate President Ben Stevens, as well as the oil field service company the younger Stevens works for.

The Alaska investigation appears to have been so sensitive that the feds moved to make a key law enforcement appointment in the state by carefully avoiding Stevens' customary role in providing advice and consent — and angering the senator in the process.

A former Republican U.S. attorney in Alaska tells me he's certain the raids didn't happen until after President Bush himself was briefed and gave his OK.

As the Anchorage Daily News first reported the FBI took papers from the office of Ben Stevens, including "a copy of a sworn statement that implicated (Ben) Stevens in an alleged payment scheme involving fisheries legislation brought by his father." The FBI also took "unknown" documents of Ted Stevens', according to a letter from Ben Stevens to the Daily News.

Ted Stevens sent The Seattle Times an e-mail in response to questions about the investigation, according to Hal Bernton's story:

I understand the public's interest in the investigation. It has always been my practice to not comment on such matters to avoid even the appearance that I might influence the investigation. That is especially important in this case where records have been obtained from a number of legislators, including my son Ben.

The federal government also seemed concerned about any appearance that Stevens could influence the investigation. A new U.S. Attorney was appointed for Alaska on Aug. 22. And it wasn't who Stevens wanted for the job. The Daily News reported:

Stevens has been trying to get an Alaska lawyer appointed U.S. attorney here, but for one reason or another the people he recommended have been knocked out, a spokesman for the senator said Wednesday.

The Stevens aide told the paper the senator was "furious at the way the attorney general handled this." The offices of the younger Stevens and other Alaska lawmakers were raided nine days after the appointment was made.

Wev Shea, a U.S. attorney in Alaska from 1990-93 and a prominent Republican in the state, told me:

"They wanted to avoid the appearance of impropriety. It doesn't mean Ted did anything wrong at all. That'd just be the sensible thing to do."

And to be extra sensible, the investigation is being run out of Washington, D.C., not the Alaska U.S. Attorney's office.

"The whole office is recused," Justice Department spokesman Bryan Sierra said.

(ADD: The same Justice spokesman told Bernton that two U.S. assistant attorneys in the Alaska office are working the case.)

Shea knows FBI Director Robert Mueller and said he is confident that Mueller and Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez "were extremely sensitive to getting the executive branch of the federal government involved in state legislative matters at all."

"Bob Mueller has an extremely fine understanding of politics and I'm not talking about politics in Alaska. ... He has been with major players in politics for years and he understands the political implications of something as sensitive as going into state legislators' offices, especially the sensitivity of going into a state legislator's office who happens to be the son of someone— should something happen to the president — is a few people away from becoming president of this country."

After the vice president and the speaker of the House, Stevens, as speaker pro tem of the Senate, is third in line to succeed the president.

Adding to those political sensitivities was the recognition that the Alaska investigations could slow progress on a proposed Alaska natural gas pipeline. That project is a priority for the Bush administration. As recently as two months before the FBI raids, Vice President Dick Cheney sent a letter to Alaska lawmakers urging them to approve a contract with North Slope oil companies, saying:

You have it in your hands to help ensure that the Alaska Gas Pipeline ultimately furnishes dependable, affordable, and environmentally sound energy for America's future.

The administration also said it would expedite permitting for the gas pipeline.

Bush's support for the pipeline convinces Shea that Bush personally approved the Alaska raids.

"I can guarantee you, virtually, that in the daily briefings that Bob (Mueller) has with the president that the president was briefed and gave his OK on this. It's not something I say lightly."

The investigation has, in fact, slowed work on the pipeline contract. Legislative leaders in Alaska wrote a letter to Gov. Frank Murkowski saying this was not the time to negotiate a contract with the oil companies:

Members believe a cooling off period is essential in order to distance the Legislature from this perception of corruption and gives us time to learn what the FBI is truly attempting to accomplish.

Given all those sensitivities and political collateral damage, Shea says the FBI raids would have happened only if the feds had something in the bag already.

"I think before they even started the raids that went on they had enough information to prosecute certain individuals or to go after certain entities. And I also feel quite strongly that there's a good chance that multiple phones were tapped long before this thing went down, that people were wired before this went down and there were probably multiple informants."

And if that's not enough to scare Alaska lawmakers, Shea has one more thing for them to worry about:

"I wonder if they ever got the idea that the FBI got permission to put bugs in their offices."

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McGavick says he would have best access to White House

Posted by David Postman at 7:45 AM

Mike McGavick was at the Olympian editorial board yesterday and offered an alternative argument to the Democratic drum beat that a vote for McGavick is a vote for President Bush and an endorsement of the Iraq war. According to the paper's story on the meeting:

"You're electing someone for six years. Even if your total focus is to have someone trying to restrain President Bush, that's two years of six. I would argue that, in fact, you're going to have more impact on what goes on in the White House by having a Republican in the Senate from the Northwest than someone just outside the door," McGavick told The Olympian's Editorial Board. "I think it is more likely the Senate remains Republican than the House."

You don't often hear McGavick talk about the advantages of being a Republican in this race. He runs much more as the critic of D.C. than someone who would be able to operate as an insider in the GOP monopoly.

In his story on the editorial board meeting, Brad Shannon also wrote of McGavick:

He acknowledged the world is not necessarily safer after the invasion of Iraq and removal of Saddam Hussein, but said the lack of attacks on U.S. soil since 2001 is a sign of progress.

That comes after an exchange McGavick had with Robert Mak on KING 5 Sunday. When asked if the war had made America safer, McGavick said, "Well I think the evidence would suggest that the answer to that question is yes."

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October 3, 2006

CEO magazine on McGavick, Safeco and whether he really was a lobbyist

Posted by David Postman at 3:38 PM

Washington CEO magazine has a profile of Mike McGavick that they headline "The New Improved McGavick." It's an interesting read with some nice writing by O. Casey Corr, a former Times writer and former aide to Mayor Greg Nickels.

There's no big news broken. But Corr does a good job explaining McGavick's focus on civility.

He's running more on character than on issues, where he's to the right of many Washington voters on such central issues as drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and taxing the rich. In his preferred context, saving Safeco is much more than a display of administrative talent; it's something that scales larger, a tale of leadership rooted in personal values needed in the public realm. We might care little about an insurance company, but we do care about the candidate as a person, and campaigns inevitably cater to this sort of interest with positive bits of biography.

They create myths like Reagan's horses, Bush I's pork rinds, Bush II in T-shirt clearing brush at the Crawford "ranch."

Corr does dig in to one of the Democrats' favorite jabs at McGavick — the bit of his resume that leads the Ds to call him "Lobbyist Mike." That comes from McGavick's time at the American Insurance Association.

He put together a bipartisan coalition of government officials, industry groups, environmentalists and others who, he says, came up with a plan to direct funds toward waste removal rather than endless litigation. But Democrats say McGavick worked as a lobbyist to shift costs from polluters to taxpayers. "He has a career of putting profits over people," says Steele of the state Democratic Party. McGavick insists he never worked as a lobbyist, but Democrats can produce paperwork showing he did.

So who's right? Through a spokeswoman, McGavick says he hired lobbyists in his work on the Superfund project but never worked as one. Score a point for the Democrats.

(McGavick has long known that the lobbyist tag could be part of this campaign. In February his campaign registered the domain name lobbyistmike.com to keep it out of enemy hands.)

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In other news: The media edition

Posted by David Postman at 2:51 PM

  • At the Slog, Eli Sanders points out some odd happenings in how Dave Reichert's office is responding to reports about his environmental stands in The Seattle Times and then in a catch-up in the P-I. The meat of the stories didn't seem that different to Sanders.
    So here's a question for Reichert: Why did he ask for a correction from the P-I, but not from the Times?

    And here's a question for the P-I: Why in the world did it give Reichert the correction?

  • Congressman Doc Hastings doesn't want the endorsement of the Yakima Herald-Republic, and told them so in a fax quoted in the paper's editorial today:
    I'm certain you understand that during each election year candidates for public office are approached by a wide range of organizations and media outlets desiring to make endorsements in their races. Of course, common sense dictates that candidates decide on a case-by-case basis which media and other endorsements to seek.

    In my case, since I'm not seeking the Herald-Republic's endorsement, it won't be necessary to include me in your endorsement interview schedule this year.

    — Doc Hastings

    Said the paper:

    Instead, Hastings is apparently more comfortable with an Oct. 31 session with his hometown Tri-City Herald, which endorsed him two years ago — while we endorsed his opponent, Democrat Sandy Matheson.

    Surely that development wouldn't influence Hastings' decision to turn us down this year. Or would it?

  • The Spokesman-Review writes about the deputy mayor striking back at the paper for its coverage of him and his health issues.
    "As far as The Spokesman, I'm done with them," he said.

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More on Guthrie's $1 million debate ticket

Posted by David Postman at 8:26 AM

When I heard Saturday night that Libertarian Bruce Guthrie was going to put nearly $1.2 million into his Senate campaign it immediately struck me as a gutsy, self-confident and highly risky investment in his political future.

But maybe I should have included "clever" in that list. Coverage today shows Guthrie is not committed to spending the money. He says part of his motivation was to get into the KING 5/Seattle Times debate. Organizers had set a level of money raised as one of the possible ways to get an invitation to one of only two debates scheduled so far between Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell and Republican challenger Mike McGavick. From the PI:

"I cannot tell a lie. It's not a coincidence," Guthrie said. "One of the reasons for the exact amount is that KING/5 requirement."

And after appearing on the televised debate, the money could just revert back to his personal account.

"If the fundraising doesn't go well, I might not spend most of it. If the fundraising does go well, I might spend most of it."

Guthrie declined to tell The News Tribune if the campaign would spend his money.

He said campaign contributions have been rolling in since he made the loan Saturday, and that he'd certainly spend that money.

One thing that Guthrie seemed perfectly clear about when we spoke Saturday was that the $1.2 million was all the money he had to loan his campaign. He said:

"It is absolutely everything I could scrape together. I mortgaged my house, my only house, in Bellingham. I mortgaged it as much as the bank would let me mortgage it. And I put up all the savings that my former wife and I were able to save in our 17 years of marriage."

But The News Tribune says today:

In addition, Guthrie said, he has a $3 million real estate investment he could sell to further fund his campaign, if needed.

Even with what seemed like an infusion of cash to make his campaign one of the best-funded Libertarian campaigns ever, the expectations for his candidacy remain more in the symbolic realm. Austin Cassidy, who writes Third Party Watch, says:

If Guthrie makes a big splash into the high single digits or low-double digits, it seems like he could be given credit for helping to shape the balance of the Senate. I'm not sure if he pulls more from Cantwell or her GOP challenger, but either way the press will probably pick up on it in a big way if he captures an amount much greater than the margin of victory.

And I'll even go a step further and suggest that if Guthrie does perform exceptionally well in this race, he should be considered for a spot on the national ticket in 2008.

Here is what organizers of the KING 5 debate sent the campaigns:

Participation Criteria

For purposes of sponsoring debates we divide elections into two periods relative to the election date, the out-period and the in-period. This debate will fall within an in-period, that is, 30 days or less before an election. Two general criteria need to be met for inclusion in the debate: the candidate must show a serious purpose and demonstrate significant public support.

To demonstrate seriousness of purpose and significant public support the candidate shall meet all legal qualifications to hold the office and qualify for the ballot. In addition, the candidate must meet one or more of the following criteria:

1) The candidate has received 10 percent or more of the vote, tested in a trial heat, in a professionally conducted public opinion survey by an experienced pollster based on a scientific sample of the entire electorate with a margin of error of five percent or less (at a 95 percent level of confidence).

A pollster shall be considered "experienced" if he or she is a member of the American Association of Political Consultants, the World Association for Public Opinion Research, American Association for Public Opinion Research or the American Political Science Association for at least three years; and has either been employed by media or other nonpartisan organizations to do national, statewide or congressional district polling with published results, or has been employed professionally, as evidenced by reports filed with governmental entities, by at least three political campaigns in at least three separate elections, political committees or candidates for statewide, congressional, countywide and/or state legislative offices.

2) The candidate previously had been elected to, or held, the office he or she is seeking.

3) The candidate is the official nominee of a political party that: (a) received at least 10 percent of the vote in the most recent prior Washington gubernatorial general election; or (b) received at least 10 percent of the vote in the prior presidential general election in Washington; or (c) received at least 15 percent of the vote in the prior general election for the office to which he or she is seeking.

4) The candidate sought the same office during the prior 8 years and received at least 30 percent of the vote in the general election.

Campaign fundraising can also be an indicator of seriousness of purpose and public support. To meet our standard, a candidate must show they have raised ten percent of the funds raised by the winner of the previous election for that position. The standard will be determined by taking the latest mandated financial report for the campaign and comparing it to the financial report filed for the comparable period of time by the winner of previous election for the position. If the report indicates the candidate has raised ten percent of the prior winner's fundraising total for the comparable reporting period then the candidate will have demonstrated significant public support.

For this debate we will take the 2004 third quarter fundraising report Senator Patty Murray's filed with the federal Election Commission - $12,096,027.60.

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October 2, 2006

Will Guthrie get to debate Cantwell and McGavick?

Posted by David Postman at 12:07 PM

Libertarian Senate candidate Bruce Guthrie may get a seat in the Seattle Times/King 5 debate scheduled between Sen. Maria Cantwell and Republican challenger Mike McGavick.

The money Guthrie is loaning to his campaign may just be enough to qualify him.

Guidelines for the debate sent out by KING producers say:

To demonstrate seriousness of purpose and significant public support the candidate shall meet all legal qualifications to hold the office and qualify for the ballot. In addition, the candidate must meet one or more of the following criteria:

And in that list is this:

Campaign fundraising can also be an indicator of seriousness of purpose and public support. To meet our standard, a candidate must show they have raised ten percent of the funds raised by the winner of the previous election for that position. The standard will be determined by taking the latest mandated financial report for the campaign and comparing it to the financial report filed for the comparable period of time by the winner of the previous election for the position. If the report indicates the candidate has raised ten percent of the prior winner's fundraising total for the comparable reporting period then the candidate will have demonstrated significant public support.

For this debate we will take the 2004 third quarter fundraising report Senator Patty Murray filed with the federal Election Commission - $12,096,027.60.

Guthrie is loaning his campaign just about $1.2 million, or "10 percent of the funds raised by the winner of the previous election for that position."

I'm waiting to hear back to see how the organizers are reading this. (I'm not involved in that debate.)

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Hastings pressured to act on Foley investigation

Posted by David Postman at 8:40 AM

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wants the House Ethics Committee to put Republican leadership under oath to find out what they knew about Congressman Mark Foley's inappropriate communications with Congressional pages.

Pelosi sent a letter yesterday to Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Pasco, chairman of the House Ethics Committee and Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., the ranking Democrat, pressing the committee to put the leadership under oath. The House voted unanimously on Friday to direct the committee to begin an investigation into Foley's behavior.

But, Pelosi wrote:

Since that resolution unanimously passed, Republican Leaders have admitted to knowing about Mr. Foley's outrageous behavior for six months to a year, and they chose to cover it up rather than to protect these children.

As the author of the resolution that the House unanimously passed, I am writing to insist that the Ethics Committee act as directed and immediately form the investigative Subcommittee and begin work on the preliminary report in 10 days. Central to the investigation is immediately questioning, under oath, the House Republican Leadership.

It is a nightmare for every child, parent and grandparent to learn that a child is being stalked on the internet by an adult in a position of authority. The fact that Mr. Foley was engaging in this behavior with underage children, that the Republican Leadership knew about it for six months to a year and has characterized the inappropriate behavior as "overly friendly" and "acting as a mentor" and that apparently no action was taken to protect these underage children is abhorrent.

Hastings spokeswoman Jessica Gleason would not say what Hastings planned to do:

Ms. Pelosi's letter was addressed jointly to Chairman Hastings and Ranking Democrat Howard Berman. Thus, any response to her letter will be authored jointly by both lawmakers — and will be delivered to Ms. Pelosi before it is provided to the news media. To do otherwise would be disrespectful to Ms. Pelosi.

Pelosi spokeswoman Jennifer Crider told me there's been no response yet.

The ethics committee has already come under fire for its slow response to Congressional scandals. In May, when investigations were launched into both Republican and Democratic corruption charges, the Washington Post wrote:

The inquiries by the long-dormant House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct come after the Justice Department intensified its corruption investigations of Ney and Jefferson, and after Cunningham pleaded guilty to accepting $2.4 million in bribes and was sent to prison.

But as those and other scandals were unfolding, the ethics committee — chaired by Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash. — sat on the sidelines. Democrats said GOP leaders had changed the rules unfairly to thwart investigations that could have negative ramifications for the Republican Party. Republicans accused the Democrats of dragging their feet on the committee's reorganization to bolster their accusations of a cover-up.

That logjam was broken last month when Rep. Allan Mollohan, D-W.Va., the ranking Democrat on the committee, was forced to step down from the panel amid accusations that he used his congressional position to funnel money to his home-state foundations, possibly enriching himself in the process.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington says the ethics committee should appoint an outside counsel to investigate Foley and the Republican leadership. The group, a liberal corruption watchdog group, said in a release:

Because the House leadership has demonstrated a shocking lack of judgment in dealing with Rep. Foley's conduct, those in charge cannot now be trusted to examine the matter candidly.

UPDATE: At horsesass.org David Goldstein says Congressman Dave Reichert is getting rid of photos of him and Foley.

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October 1, 2006

McGavick slams Congress while NY Times says he's a pol in trouble

Posted by David Postman at 1:58 PM

Mike McGavick criticized Congress today for ethical problems, inaction and arch partisanship, and said that when Congress did act it pointed out "profound" differences between him and Sen. Maria Cantwell.

McGavick held a press conference this morning at his Seattle headquarters. It was attended by me and a camera operator from KIRO TV.

"This will be a Congress that will be well-known for it's failure to make progress and the rank partisanship that it displayed. I mean, we went from having a member of Congress sent to jail, a member of Congress found with bags of money frozen in the freezer, to a congressman now sending X-rated messages to pages, all in one congress.

"And I think the American people have to be saying to themselves, 'What in the heck is going on back there?'"

McGavick, though, looks to be facing some image problems of his own, at least from one of the most influential national political voices. The New York Times today includes McGavick in its Week in Review list of "Pols in Trouble." He's right between New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, who cut ties with a political supporter said to have pressured a contractor to do a favor for Menendez, and Mark Foley, the Republican congressman who resigned from Congress last week after reports he sent inappropriate e-mails and text messages to Congressional pages.

Of McGavick, the Times says he "dropped in some polls after revealing various transgressions including an arrest for drunken driving in 1993."

Mr. McGavick's unprovoked late-summer confessional, in which, among other things, he also admitted to lying to employees of his company about layoffs, was a calculated gamble that voters would appreciate his honesty. But polls since the revelations showed he was still struggling against the incumbent Democrat, Maria Cantwell.

That's a harsher read of what McGavick said in August about Safeco than I've seen. He does not say he lied about the layoffs. In his open letter he wrote:

After our 2001 layoffs, and with results improving in 2002, I told my team that I thought the worst was behind us because I believed that it was. This led to real and justified hope by my Safeco colleagues that there would be no more lay-offs. I was wrong to raise such hopes. Several months later, it became clear that we still were not competing effectively, and it was not until after another round of layoffs that we really were able to turn the ship and set the company on the course it is on today.

McGavick said he wasn't worried about the New York Times' take on his candidacy. While some national pundits, including conservatives, have said McGavick's campaign stumbled badly with his mea culpa, he says he's doing well with the people that matter.

"The D.C. community was already aware that this race has closed back up. There is a lot of enthusiasm in D.C. for this race right now. That community, their attitudes there, really matter and we're very proud of our standing in D.C. as one of the hottest races in the country."

Being included on a list with Foley and others with problems seemingly deeper than McGavick's cannot help in his effort to remain in the eyes of national pundits and campaign professionals as a serious threat to Cantwell. His problems do not seem to be on par with allegations of racist statements, federal investigations, sexual misconduct or the other problems faced by the other "Pols in Trouble."

McGavick repeated criticism he has leveled at Cantwell for her opposition to building a southern border fence, changing the law on terrorism trials and for a package of tax legislation that included an extension the Washington sales tax exemption from federal income tax. McGavick had been criticized earlier for a commercial that portrayed Cantwell as opposed to the sales tax exemption. He was more careful in his wording today:

"Now it's true, I know Senator Cantwell wants sales tax deductibility. So does every politician from Washington state. But the fact is that as of right now we're not going to have deductibility."

McGavick also repeated his complaints that Cantwell won't agree to more than two debates. He says the 90 minutes of the two events combined, are "one-tenth of one percent of the minutes between now and election day." He said that Cantwell has become increasingly isolated and "has shifted from a Rose Garden strategy to a recluse strategy."

I've sent an e-mail to Cantwell's staff for a response.

UPDATE: Cantwell spokesman Katharine Lister says:

If he really believes it is a do-nothing Congress, why does he stand side-by-side with the four top Republican leaders in the Senate? Why does he embrace them and their agenda? Maria Cantwell offers a different agenda -- on Iraq, on health care, on energy, on Social Security, and a host of other issues that matter to Washingtonians.

Also today the Cantwell campaign criticized McGavick for saying the war in Iraq has made the United States safer, saying that ignores the National Intelligence Assessment. From today's Up Front with Robert Mak on KING 5:

Mak: Do you believe the war in Iraq has made Americans safer?

McGavick: Well I think the evidence would suggest that the answer to that question is yes. We have not had another successful attack on American soil since, and I believe one of the reasons for that, though there are many, is the fact that we have managed to draw the attention of the world to Iraq and combat terrorism directly there rather than simply waiting to try and avoid it here.

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