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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Required Reading

posted by on September 23 at 4:48 PM

Goldy takes down the "amen editorialists" at the Seattle Times.

How Congress Really Feels About CEOs and Their Lopsided Bonuses

posted by on September 23 at 4:09 PM

"Have 'em."

Democrats have decided to allow a quarter-century ban on drilling for oil off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to expire next week, conceding defeat in an month-long battle with the White House and Republicans set off by $4 a gallon gasoline prices this summer.

Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., told reporters Tuesday that a provision continuing the moratorium will be dropped this year from a stopgap spending bill to keep the government running after Congress recesses for the election.

If this comes to pass, oil speculators win, as do oil companies who have been left blameless in the record-profits-record-prices "paradox." You want a real price drop? Let the oil bubble pop, and let the speculators stop driving record prices. Instead, if this Democratic quit comes to fruition, then the reduced overhead and convenient access to emergency, conservation-crucial regions will be icing on the cake for these companies' continued record profits while the bubble naturally pops. All the while, most of America will be too busy making jokes about how gas is cheaper than milk to notice.

If Congress uses CEOs as whipping boys over investment scandals, then jerks them off in the corner, what's the point? And the Democrats can't even begin to pass blame on the Republicans for the past four years' Congressional standstill if they keep meekly responding to Mr. 31 Percent's veto threats. The only good thing is that Republicans can't exactly spin this in a political ad. "The Democrats caved to the other side. Do you really want such wimps running the show? Vote McCain."

...Actually, I'm starting to think the Republicans could run an ad just like that--with a photo of Jesse Jackson in the background Photoshopped next to a burning flag and an aborted fetus--and attract crowds of 200,000 for Sarah Palin in Fayetteville, AR, as a result.


posted by on September 23 at 1:24 PM

Better late than never...

House GOP rises up against Cheney

No, wait: I meant, "Fuck those stupid motherfucking fuckers. FUCK THEM."

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wimps, Weaklings, Pussies, Pansies, Scroats, Sissies...

posted by on September 19 at 9:53 AM


...or as we call them during election season, "conservatives."

Nervous people 'are likely to be right-wing'

People who are easily startled by loud bangs or gruesome pictures are more likely to vote for right-wing policies compared to calmer people who take a more liberal approach to life, according to a psychological study of political beliefs.

The findings support the idea that personality type influences political attitude, which could explain why voting differences appear to be entrenched. "Although political views have been thought to arise largely from individuals' experiences, recent research suggests a possible biological basis. We present evidence that variations in political attitudes correlate with psychological traits," said John Hibbing of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rossi Roundup

posted by on September 17 at 2:38 PM

In somewhat heartening news for supporters of Gov. Christine Gregoire (whose responses to Republican Dino Rossi's bombastic attacks has been, frankly, lackluster), a new Elway poll shows Gregoire leading Rossi by either 10 points or 4, depending on how Rossi is labeled. "Republican Dino Rossi" loses, 51-41, but "Dino Rossi, who prefers the GOP Party" is just four points behind, at 48-44. The difference isn't just semantic; Rossi will be identified as "preferring" the "GOP Party" on the November ballot, so the closer margin is probably more accurate.

Meanwhile, in response to Rossi's misleading "Casino Chris" campaign ad, the Washington State Democrats put together their own ad, called "Casino Dino." The ad charges that the Republican Governors Association, which paid for the anti-Gregoire ad, took $1.6 million from Las Vegas casinos--gambling money that, unlike tribal contributions, Rossi apparently doesn't regard as "dirty." So far, the RGA has also contributed $1 million to Rossi's campaign--nearly twice as much as Gregoire's campaign accepted from Native American tribes.

Finally, the first Rossi-Gregoire debate will be broadcast live on KOMO-4 this Saturday, September 20, at 9:00 pm. A Gregoire supporter tells me Gregoire supporters have devised a drinking game around Rossi's use of faux-folksy anecdotes. Says the supporter: "We'll be taking shots of tequila and chasing them with Gatorade and/or Plan B. (Since they're essentially the same thing.)"

Monday, September 15, 2008

Comcast Appeals FCC's Net Neutrality Ruling, Notifies Customers of Gigabyte Cap

posted by on September 15 at 4:16 PM

Comcast recently appealed the FCC ruling against its peer-to-peer traffic practices:

Comcast, the second-largest broadband provider in the U.S., filed a court appeal of a U.S. Federal Communications Commission ruling last month saying the company couldn't delay some peer-to-peer traffic on its network.

The FCC, on Aug. 1, voted 3-2 to prohibit Comcast from slowing BitTorrent P-to-P traffic in an effort to reduce network congestion. Commissioners voting against Comcast said the traffic throttling violated FCC net neutrality principles.

Comcast on Thursday asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the FCC decision, saying the commission had no hard rules against the company's network management practices. The FCC's net neutrality principles, adopted in 2005, set out general guidelines, but no specific prohibitions, Comcast said.

Comcast filed the appeal to protect its legal rights and to "challenge the basis on which the commission found that Comcast violated federal policy in the absence of pre-existing legally enforceable standards or rules," David Cohen, Comcast's executive vice president, said in a statement. "We are compelled to appeal because we strongly believe that, in this particular case, the Commission's action was legally inappropriate and its findings were not justified by the record."

In addition, the telecom giant began notifying its Internet customers this week about a 250-Gigabyte data transfer limit, which will go into effect in October. Jonah first reported about it on Slog here.

Via The Industry Standard

New Rossi Ad Calls Gregoire "Casino Chris"

posted by on September 15 at 2:17 PM

Republican Dino Rossi has launched an ad and web site that paints Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire as a corrupt tool of Native American tribes. (In renegotiating the state's gambling contract with the Spokane Tribe earlier this year, the state declined to take proposed cash payments from the tribe.) Called "Casino Chris," the ad shows a group of white guys in suits negotiating over a table with two long-haired men (of dubious native heritage) in bolo ties and—no shit—pigtails. In the ad, Gregoire's representatives negotiate the tribes' contributions to the state down to nothing--the implication being that Gregoire gave the "Indian tribes," as the ad refers to them, a sweetheart deal in exchange for campaign contributions.

It's inaccurate (Gregoire refused the cash payments at the behest of gambling opponents, including Republican Norm Maleng), classless (at one point, Native Guy 1 turns to Native Guy 2 and asks, "Do they do drug testing in the governor's office?), arguably racist ("Indians"? Pigtails?—and, as the Tacoma News Tribune pointed out it, wildly off base: Rossi has produced no evidence suggesting Gregoire is on the take, and his ad is funded largely by contributions from non-Native American gambling interests. And do we really want to index the state budget to the health of the gambling industry?

Friday, September 12, 2008

More from the 46th

posted by on September 12 at 4:29 PM

Scott White, one of two Democrats seeking the state house seat from North Seattle's 46th legislative district, has included the $6,250 he spent in attorney fees fighting off a challenge by his opponent, Gerry Pollet, to remove him from the ballot as a campaign expenditure on his disclosure reports with the state Public Disclosure Commission. That means the money will be counted as an official campaign expense. White says he decided to file the expense report after he was told "I should file it because it was associated with my candidacy" by advisers who "felt that it was the most appropriate to make sure that we were being fully transparent" in disclosing campaign expenses.

White's opponent Pollet, in contrast, has not filed his own attorney fees as a campaign expense or as an in-kind contribution to his own campaign--even though a successful case would have benefited his campaign tremendously by removing his main opponent from the ballot. Pollet says he didn't see the lawsuit (officially filed by seven of Pollet's supporters in the district) as "a campaign activity," adding that White "chose to involve himself" in the lawsuit, which was officially addressed to King County. "That’s his call. He chose to involve himself in that, and to do so [using] his campaign contributions," Pollet says. "If I were you, I would ask whether that's even allowed."

Curious whether White was right in filing his lawyers' fees as a campaign expense--and whether it was OK that Pollet chose not to do so--I called the Public Disclosure Commission's Lori Anderson, who told me, basically, that it's up to the candidates. "I think defending a challenge to yank your name form the ballot is a legitimate campaign expense, and if the money came out of the campaign account then I think it needs to be reported" by White, Anderson says. As for Pollet's own expenditures, "if he reported it as an in-kind contribution that he made himself, I don’t think that would be wrong, but if he didn't I don’t think that’s necessarily bad either." Had Pollet filed the fees as a campaign expense, Anderson adds, "I think we would have to decide whether that was legitimate."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Children Are Our Future (We're Fucked)

posted by on September 10 at 2:45 PM

The other day, I found myself--for the first time in years--inside a community center, a place where babies gather to engage in art projects and table tennis and psychological warfare. In the main hallway, I noticed that some enterprising and earnest babies had constructed a large wire dome, on which they had pinned an army of colorful felt homunculi and a bunch of note cards. Each note card bore one baby's vision for the future of earth.

I know you guys think that Sarah Palin and John McCain are scary, but check out what these fuckin' babies have in store for us:

Baby #1:
"I wish the animals were not scared of anything."

Oh, great! Great idea, dumbass. Personally, I feel a lot safer knowing that sharks are scared of my outboard motor, and bears are afraid of me waving my arms and yelling "Don't eat me, fucker!", and snakes couldn't be more terrified of my fucking foot and just want to hide in a hole all year instead of, you know, CHOMPING MY TOE WITH THEIR VENOMOUS FANGS.

Baby #2:
"I wish spider weren't feared."

Ohhhh, fantastic. You know that's just what they want, right? You're playing right into their eight tiny hands! Spiders cannot wait for us to let our guard down and stop squishing them so that, under cover of night, they can carry out their ultimate scheme: to eat every single one of our eyeballs. Do you like having eyeballs? Me too. But you can kiss your eyeballs goodbye (well, not physically--that's impossible) if these babies get their way.

Baby #3:
"I wish there were more animals."

Whoa whoa whoa. Seriously, WHAT THE FUCK? You babies are even crazier than I thought. So once you've established your armies of fearless, bloodthirsty beasts, and we humans are hobbling around blind and toeless, what you're wishing for is more animals?! Fuck!

Baby #4:
"I wish seals could say their feelings."

I have no criticism here. This actually is my fondest wish.

Baby #5:
"I wish all animals could celebrate holidays."

Haven't the animals taken enough from us already? I mean, really. My god.

I think the lesson here is clear: DO NOT ELECT BABIES TO PUBLIC OFFICE. Or animals, for that matter. I think they may have formed some sort of alliance. We're fucked.

More Good News for Obama

posted by on September 10 at 1:59 PM

WASHINGTON — As Congress prepares to debate expansion of drilling in taxpayer-owned coastal waters, the Interior Department agency that collects oil and gas royalties has been caught up in a wide-ranging ethics scandal--including allegations of financial self-dealing, accepting gifts from energy companies, cocaine use and sexual misconduct...

The reports portray a dysfunctional organization that has been riddled with conflicts of interest, unprofessional behavior and a free-for-all atmosphere for much of the Bush administration’s watch.

Nothing sounds better on a TV attack ad than "cocaine use" and "sexual misconduct"--along with "President Bush," "Republican party," and "corruption."

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

36th District Race Sends Money Across State Lines

posted by on September 9 at 3:09 PM

Out-of-state money has become a big factor in the race for state Rep. from Seattle's 36th District, which encompasses parts of Magnolia, Ballard, and Queen Anne—a somewhat surprising development, given that such races are generally decided by a few thousand votes, and considering state legislators make less than $42,000 a year.

Nonetheless, the race between Reuven Carlyle and John Burbank, two Democrats who are seekingr the seat, has sent tens of thousands of dollars across state lines. Carlyle has taken nearly $43,000 in out-of-state donations, or about 21 percent of his total contributions—much of that from California, Washington, D.C., and Maryland. Burbank, meanwhile, brought in about $32,000 from out of state, or about 20 percent of his contributions, much of that from California, Oregon, New York, and Massachusetts.

Burbank, unlike Carlyle, also spent a large amount of money out of state--a fact his opponents will likely point to when rebutting claims that Carlyle is a business-backed outsider, while Burbank is a solid, longtime member of the 36th District community. About $32,000, or 42 percent of his spending so far, went to an Oregon consulting firm called Winning Mark, which Burbank says he chose because “they work primarily on environmental and progressive issues, and I wanted to keep my [campaign] work in the [Pacific Northwest] region.”

Burbank says all this fundraising and spending wouldn't have been necessary if Carlyle had agreed to a $100,000 spending limit Burbank proposed early in the campaign. But the top-two primary, which requires candidates in single-party-dominated districts like the 36th to start raising and spending money far earlier than in previous years, seems like a likelier culprit. So far, Carlyle has raised around $208,000 (a huge amount for a relatively minor race) to Burbank's $159,000. The

Kim Jong Illin'

posted by on September 9 at 11:11 AM

From the NYT:

Kim Jong-il might have suffered a stroke, a U.S. intelligence official said. Mr. Kim failed to attend a celebration of his country’s 60th anniversary.

Official North Korean news services claim he was out saving drowning children, slaying the Evil Imperialist Monkey King, and surveying his happy kingdom from a secure, undisclosed location:


Friday, September 5, 2008

Eyman's Latest

posted by on September 5 at 3:13 PM

Initiative 985 sponsor Tim Eyman sent out another broadside today, this one aimed at Transportation Choices Coalition (TCC) state policy director Bill LaBorde. (LaBorde, formerly the state director for Environment Washington, joined TCC a couple of weeks ago). In the email, Eyman accuses LaBorde of "abandoning ship" because he is no longer listed as the campaign manager and treasurer for the No on 985 campaign. (The initiative would open carpool lanes to all drivers for most of the day, bar tolls from being spent on transit, and redirect tens of millions from the state's general fund, which primarily funds health care and education, toward building still more roads.) Eyman writes:

On August 6, over a month after we turned in 300,000+ voter signatures for I-985, Bill LaBorde [here Eyman included LaBorde's cell phone number and personal email] filed his initial campaign report (called a C1PC) naming the opposition committee to I-985 to the state public disclosure commission. He called it No! on I-985 and he named himself Campaign Manager and Treasurer.

To date, there's been no money reported being raised or spent -- how do you beat something with nothing?

On August 21, a month and a half after we turned in 300,000+ voter signatures for I-985, a revised report (C1PC AMENDED) was filed and Bill LaBorde's name is no where to be seen and his email address is no where to be found. A new campaign manager is named (Trevor Kaul...) and a new treasurer is named (Philip Lloyd...) and Bill LaBorde is not even listed as a Committee Officer.

The opposition campaign to I-985 is clearly in disarray.

Bill LaBorde has abandoned ship on his efforts to organize I-985's opposition -- he's moved on, preferring to spend his time and effort trying to get voters to approve his higher priority: the $107 billion/$60,000-per-family Proposition 1 on the Puget Sound's fall ballot.

But really, who can blame him?

Then he asks for money.

I spoke with LaBorde at a TCC forum on the viaduct downtown this afternoon, and he reassured me that he is definitely still involved with the No on 985 campaign, and laughed at Eyman's faux naivete about how campaigns work. LaBorde said he merely set up the campaign (it's a coalition, not "his" campaign), which has since hired a professional campaign manager and treasurer. (Campaigns are usually run by professional managers, not full-time employees of advocacy organizations.) LaBorde says he expects contributions to the campaign to start showing up on disclosure reports next month, and that the campaign is working now to "bring the business and labor communities on board." LaBorde adds: "I'm pretty confident that we're going to have more money than Eyman by the end of this campaign." Currently, Eyman's own campaign appears to be around $230,000 in the hole, as Eyman has not yet repaid a $150,000 loan and the campaign has spent about $80,000 more than it has received in contributions.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Update on the Race in the 36th

posted by on September 4 at 1:28 PM

As of yesterday, Reuven Carlyle--one of two Democratic candidates for state representative from Seattle's 36th District--was beating his opponent, John Burbank, by a margin of 4.4 percent--a lead of more than 1,200 votes. On primary election night last month, Burbank was leading Carlyle by 250 votes. The two candidates will both move forward to November's general election under Washington State's "top-two" primary system.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Lying Email of the Day

posted by on September 3 at 12:50 PM

Tim Eyman sent out a blast email this morning claiming that opponents of his latest initiative, I-985, only want rich people to be able to drive alone in carpool lanes. (His initiative, in contrast, would open carpool lanes to everyone, including solo soccer moms in suburban assault vehicles, for most of the day, including hours when traffic is already congested). Eyman's explanation for this audacious claim: Enviros (who oppose I-985) do support high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes--HOV lanes that solo drivers can access for a variable toll during the parts of the day when freeways aren't congested. (The worse the traffic is, the more solo drivers have to pay to get around it--and if traffic gets too bad, they aren't allowed at all.) Opponents call these "Lexus lanes," reasoning that after all, we've already paid for all those roads with our gas taxes and it isn't fair to pay twice. And just think about all those poor, poor solo commuters stuck in traffic who just can't afford the buck or two it will cost to jump on the HOV lane with all the (rich) carpoolers and folks on buses (and who, presumably, also can't afford the bus)!

According to Eyman's email:

I-985 opens carpool lanes to everyone during non-peak hours -- it's what other states do and provides immediate, cost-effective congestion relief. Opponents are squawking about this, whining that it's just not right for solo drivers to be able to drive in those lanes. But I-985's opponents support solo drivers using carpool lanes ... as long as they're rich. Lexus lanes are the future, say opponents, forcing solo drivers to pay twice for the 'privilege' of using carpool lanes.

There are a few glaring problems with that argument. First, "congestion relief" is a myth. The second you open up a new lane to solo traffic, that lane inevitably fills up, as people change their travel patterns, making trips they wouldn't have taken or would have taken at different times--a very old, very basic concept known as latent or induced demand.

Second, the idea that "only rich people" can afford the tolls is ludicrous. According to the state Department of Transportation, the variable tolls on SR 167, the first HOT lane in the state, will range, on average, from $2 to $5. (If you're riding in a carpool or on a bus, of course, the lanes are completely free). In comparison, Sound Transit Express bus fares range from $1.50 to $3; Sound Transit's Sounder train fares range from $2.55 to $4.75; Pierce Transit bus fares range from $1.50 to $3; and King County Metro bus fares range from $1.50 to $2.25--and that's about to go up. So the cost for "rich" people to drive alone in the 167 HOT lane is comparable to the price of commuting by bus--and that's without all the stops, inevitable delays, and the hassle of sharing a small space with lots and lots of random strangers.

Finally, there's the question of the gas tax. Is it true, as Eyman claims, that by paying a few bucks to hop in the HOV lane, solo drivers are "paying twice"? Of course not. Only about $12 million of the funding for the 167 project, for example, came from the five-cent gas tax approved by the legislature in 2005; the rest, around $5 million, came from a federal grant. The tolls themselves will pay to maintain HOT lanes, not build them--so no one will be paying twice for anything, and drivers won't even pay the full cost of building the system in the first place. Meanwhile, the overall state transportation budget is facing an ongoing deficit--a deficit serious enough that, over the last four years, the state legislature has chipped in an extra $3.8 billion to pay for state transportation projects. That money didn't come from state gas taxes, either--which, incidentally, only cost a typical driver (one whose car gets between 20 and 30 mpg) between $150 and $225 a year.

So, to summarize: Thanks to latent demand, opening HOV lanes up to everyone doesn't provide "congestion relief." HOT lanes are free if you carpool, and only a little more expensive than transit if you choose to drive alone. And drivers aren't being forced to "pay twice" for roads they've already paid for with gas taxes; in fact, they're getting subsidies from the state and federal government that protect them from the true cost of paying for those very lanes.

And speaking of rich people... Voters Want More Choices, Tim Eyman's latest PAC, already has nearly $170,000 in the bank in advance of this November's election.

More Palin

posted by on September 3 at 10:14 AM

Beyond satire? Not yet. . .

Friday, August 22, 2008

Election Update

posted by on August 22 at 5:50 PM

In the latest election-results update, Gov. Christine Gregoire lost some ground (and two counties) in her race for reelection against Republican challenger Dino Rossi; Republican attorney general Rob McKenna gained a bit over his challenger, Democratic Pierce County executive John Ladenburg; Democratic challenger Peter Goldmark slipped a little in his campaign against Republican lands commissioner Doug Sutherland; Congressional challenger Darcy Burner slipped a bit in her bid to unseat Republican US Rep. Dave Reichert; education superintendent Terry Bergeson slipped below 40 percent in her race for reelection against Randy Dorn, who gained three percentage points; and Reuven Carlyle's lead grew against John Burbank in the 36th legislative district (on election night, Burbank was winning).

Rossi is now within 35,000 votes of Gregoire, which means it's likely to be a close race in November--though not close enough to write the governor off, as the boys at Ye Olde Crosscutte Web Blog did today. However, Darcy Burner's lackluster showing in the Eighth Congressional District against incumbent Dave Reichert may be somewhat misleading. Burner faced two other Democrats, in addition to Republican Reichert and two "no preference" candidates, in the primary; taken together, the Democratic vote in that race outnumbers the Republican vote. That could bode well for Burner on election day in November, when Democratic turnout will be much higher than it was for this week's primary.

One weird thing is that unlike the Secretary of State's office, King County Elections lists the number of ballots cast for a write-in, which slightly skews the percentage totals. The only possible reason this could matter is in a close race, or a judicial race in which one candidate was close to winning more than 50 percent--the cutoff for winning a judicial election in the primary. Judicial candidates who get more than half the vote, in other words, don't have to go on to the general; judicial candidates with a plurality of the vote, but less than half, do. One race where that hasn't been decided yet is King County Superior Court, Position 10, where Regina Cahan currently has 50.33 percent of the vote (according to the Secretary of State), or 50.23 percent (according to KC Elections.) Both sites list the same total number of votes for each candidate; on the Secretary of State's tally, though, the write-ins simply disappear. I've used the Secretary of State's numbers for consistency between statewide and King County-only races, but if you're curious how many write-in votes there were in a specific race, check out KC's elections web site here.

Here's a complete list of election results in all contested races.

Continue reading "Election Update" »

Convention Prep

posted by on August 22 at 1:52 PM

As you've heard, Eli Sanders, Charles Mudede and I will be flying to Denver this weekend to cover the Democratic National Convention. Part of Charles's beat will be to cover the protests, organized by the hilariously self-monikered Recreate '68 group. But why would you bother to recreate '68 when you can experience the real thing on film? (Kidding. Sort of.)

One of my favorite movies ever, despite its hokey Appalachian flashbacks and low-grade, persistent sexism, is Medium Cool, cinematographer Haskell Wexler's enormously enjoyable treatise on the difficulty of journalistic objectivity. There's a sun-bathed baptism in green mountains. There's a Chicago slum. There are rock doves. There's a deeply sympathetic child.


But more excitingly for our purposes, there's actual footage of the protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, which resulted in some famous police riots. The fictional narrative is woven into the documentary footage, sometimes literally, as when a fictional character in a bright yellow shirtdress passes in and out of a stream of actual protesters and police, searching for her son.

You should come. Eli and I are going to be at the 7 o'clock show tonight, but it plays at 7 and 9:15 through Sunday. (A contemporary documentary about the crazy summer leading up to the convention plays Sat-Sun only.)

Look out, Haskell, it's real!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Election Boogaloo

posted by on August 19 at 4:46 PM

Wanna know where all the hep, happening primary election parties are? We've got you covered.

UPDATE: Governor Christine Gregoire: The Northwest African American Museum (2300 S. Massachusetts Street) 7:30pm.

Darcy Burner: The Mustard Seed Grill (5608 119th Ave SE, Bellevue) 8pm.

Gerry Pollet: Mr. Villa (8064 Lake City Way NE) 8pm.

John Burbank: Barta Photo Studio (2821 NW Market Street) 7:30pm

Reuven Carlyle and Scott White are both having private parties at secret undisclosed locations.

Dino Rossi's party is in some place called Redmond.

The Stranger Election Control Board will post updates all night long.

Monday, August 18, 2008

You're Doing it Wrong

posted by on August 18 at 5:10 PM

xkcd, as usual, is right on the money.

click for larger version

Someone needs to figure out how to make this a real issue while not sounding like a conspiracy theorist, BEFORE an election. The validity of the vote is really the only political issue that matters, no? How many software glitches have you experienced today? Me? Probably about 30. Be very afraid.

Don't Forget to Vote!

posted by on August 18 at 1:55 PM

Tomorrow, August 19, is the last day to send in your absentee ballots and the day for poll voters to go to the polls. For the Stranger Election Control Board's endorsements (and to find out why this primary election matters), go here; for a shorter, printer-friendly cheat sheet, go here. You can find your polling place here. Happy voting!

John McCain vs. the Supremes

posted by on August 18 at 10:28 AM

As Eli noted, John McCain's fire breathing performance at this weekend's Forum on Faith is starting to raise all sorts of questions about his attempts to reform his image from 'ye of little faith' to darling of the religious right.

Aside from possibility that he cribbed a transformational life experience from a seminal work by Solzhenitsyn, McCain also wandered into hot water with his answer on who he wouldn't have appointed to the Supreme Court: Ginsburg, Souter, Breyer, and Stevens. That's every member to the left of Samuel Alito, sans Justice Kennedy.

The implication? John McCain's going to have one hell of a litmus test for who he would nominate for the court.

The problem? John McCain voted for the confirmation of Justices Ginsburg, Souter, and Breyer.

You can almost deal with the mendaciousness on Souter—who was foisted on McCain by closet pinko George HW Bush—but it would seem hard to explain how McCain could have had any ideological doubts about which way Breyer and Ginsburg would be voting if confirmed.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Stranger's Official Sunday Morning ColumnTM (Apologies for the Delay)

posted by on August 17 at 1:18 PM

He--for there could be no doubt of his sex, though certain of his proclivities did something (in the mind of the military wing of his family) to complicate it--was in the act of watching a slackliner on a slackline strung from opposing trees. It was hard not to think of Man on Wire (if you haven't seen it, go, go, go). The branches above the slackline, heavy with leaves, which the slackliner walked in and out of and occasionally ripped out of his way, made the whole sight kind of circus-y. Passersby stopped to watch. The stoner watched the slackliner (this guy) and then watched the sky, on his back, next to a girl he'd just met (bottle-orange hair, candy-striped top, also stoned). The leaves and the sky. A small airplane shot out of the leaves.

The stoner thought about all the people who'd given him a hard time about going to Hempfest: the friends going to Smoke Farm who blinked in disbelief when the stoner chose Hempfest (close to home, by the water) over the possibility of bad outdoor theater in a remote location; the actress/singer/Joni Mitchell fan who, when the stoner intimated that he was going to Hempfest by texting that he was "was being a hippie" today, texted back "the first step is admitting u have a problem"; Dan Savage, who declaimed over after-work drinks on Friday that every other weekend of the year is more ideal for getting stoned in Myrtle Edwards Park because there's no one else there; the stoner's young friend from New Orleans, another stoner, who nonetheless texted, "Hempfest is just a celebration of everything that's not fun about pot"; and so on and so forth). You get a lot of heat for going to Hempfest. It's easy to be intimidated by the disdain. By the unfashionable-ness of it. Dan Savage, of all people, is giving his friends a hard time for going to Hempfest?

Whatever with those people. Hempfest is fantastic. It helps to show up in the afternoon, around 2 or 3, and to go with friends, and to sit in the shade with a view the water and the sky and the barely clothed people in the ripeness of their youth walking by. It's true that you hear the stupidest shit from the people who are given microphones and access to a stage, but (satisfyingly) the people you are sitting with aren't falling for it either. "We are here and now!" an officially sanctioned Hempfest speaker was shouting into a microphone in the distance. The girl with the bottle-orange hair smiled and said, "Man, that's some motivational speaker. No wonder we can't band together. These are our motivational speakers."

Nevertheless, from those very unmotivational stages, or at least from the northernmost one, comes the most amazing sort of rain when the clock strikes 4:20 pm: free joints. Raining down. Hundreds (thousands?) of them. Onto the crowd. This year there was such a crush of people on the path in the minutes before 4:20 pm struck--perhaps the joints-raining-down-from-the-sky thing has been too well publicized--that the stoner and the slackliner and the girl with the bottle-orange hair couldn't get to the northernmost stage (does it happen at all the stages?) until about 4:22 pm, by which point the sea of bodies was already obscured in a haze, battlefield-like. The stoner asked a random girl for a hit of hers and she reached in her bag and gave him a fresh one, adding, "They handed them out."

This will happen again today, by the way.

If nothing else, the stoner thought, Hempfest is an answer to the dominant American culture--the suburban, generic, corporate-controlled mainstream. It's the embodiment of an alternative. That this alternative seems so drastic, that it causes so many of your friends to bristle, is only evidence of how well the conservative line has been sold to us. This alternative isn't drastic. It is not some lawless primal orgy. Hempfest is crawling with police officers and security personnel, watching everything: 100,000 people smoking pot outdoors on a nice day, laughing, relaxing, reading, buying stuff, listening to music, eating noodles, eating ice cream, walking on slacklines between trees, sitting on the rocks, watching the trains groan by, etc., etc.

The only hippie-riffic conversation the stoner got into occurred in one of the VIP areas, behind one of the stages, where a man in what looked like a utilikilt, except it was made out of black lace, sat down and smiled. This man in lace and leggings and some serious facial hair was walking with the assistance of a light-wood cane topped with a brass knob. The rest of the man's ensemble was more than dubious, but it was a handsome cane. The stoner complimented it. The man in lace replied, "It used to be Jefferson Airplane's manager's."

The stoner replied with an expression that must have looked like awe.

"Yeah, Jefferson Airplane's manager's cane. His son gave it to me."

The stoner was trying to think of a Jefferson Airplane song. He said, "What was one of their big songs?"

The man in lace shook his head and said he had no idea. Then he added, "If you ask me about psychedelic trance or something, I can probably tell you." Then there was a long silence.

The stoner went and got his bike and rode out to Elliott Avenue, and then up the west side of Queen Anne Hill to watch firemen march uphill into brush fire. He took a photo of the fire engines with his cell phone. Then he rode back down to Elliott Avenue and, hungry for ice cream, stopped into a Baskin Robbins. For there one was. He ate it outside on the sidewalk, next to his bike, staring into cars waiting at the light.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

"True Statesman" Rudy Giuliani

posted by on August 14 at 10:07 PM

Confirms he's hosting a fundraiser for Dave Reichert, according to the campaign for Reichert's Democratic opponent for Congress, Eighth Congressional District, Darcy Burner.

(Apologies if this has been posted to Slog already--I'm just getting back in gear after four days out of the office sick.)

Anatomy of a Train Wreck

posted by on August 14 at 9:36 AM

There's something totally unnerving about finding out that Hillary Clinton's run for the presidency was seemingly run by people who didn't have that firm a grasp on what they were doing.

But slogging through the much-hyped Clinton Memos recently released by The Atlantic, it's hard not to feel that everybody in Team Clinton just kind of expected to win, and then go get a sandwich before cake-walking to the White House. The memos are a treasure trove of delusional overconfidence and directionless infighting, with no one wanting to confront the fact that Obama might be more than a charisma-filled speed bump until they had effectively already lost.

Oh, and when they finally did realize how dire things were, the chief strategist of the campaign pronounced that it was time to remind the electorate that their opponent was a Muslim interloper.

What's even more astounding, in this massive body of evidence that suggests Team Clinton did almost as much to make Barack Obama the nominee as Barack Obama did, is that the main players in Clinton's incredible deadspin are still claiming that this wasn't really their fault: It was the media's, for not aggressively pursuing John Edwards' carousing.

What a perfect coda to a perfect disaster. Take it away, Choire Sicha:

The question, for the thousandth time, is: What is wrong with these people? Also, who are these squabbling, selfish children—and why do they not have a VH1 reality show?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Re: Will We Ever Be Rid of This Meddlesome Priest?

posted by on August 13 at 11:07 AM

As PopTart points out, the New York report about a forthcoming screed by Reverend Jeremiah Wright is being disputed by Wright's daughter.

I got this from Ben Smith, by the way, PopTart, but I'm terribly curious about where you found it. What kind of tawdry websites are linking to something this boring?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"Not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime."

posted by on August 12 at 10:53 AM

That's our very own Attorney General Michael Mukasey, explaining why nobody will be prosecuted for hiring prosecutors, judges, and other lawyers on a solely political basis. Awesome.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Mr. Poe Prays to Crist, Charlie Crist

posted by on August 11 at 2:31 PM

This post is by regular Slog commenter Mr. Poe. The opinions expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent the views of Index Newspapers, The Stranger, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, Cupcake Royale, or any of their subsidiaries.

Glory be to the Republican Father, to the Governor of the Holy...Florida. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen. Or something. But seriously, we need to talk. It just feels like there are so many things that haven't been said that should, like "why are you praying to me" and "do I need to get a restraining order". No, you do not need a restraining order. I spent two years of my "life" in Florida, and have vowed never to return. Since then I have returned, but that's not important because it never happened. As for the prayer, you'll soon notice that I'm not actually praying to you. This is more like a letter. A letter addressed as a prayer, if you will. Truth be told, I couldn't think of a clever headline so I settled with the first thing that came to mind. Actually I didn't even try to think of a new one. I figured it best to go with the only thing I thought of since I have a hard time finishing anything I st.

Let's begin with something obvious. You are ridiculously hot. Your looks are so grand they managed to surpass all of your sexified competition: Anderson Cooper, Scooter Libby, (Mayor) Adam West. Anderson Cooper! How the fuck did you do that? You are officially more intriguing than Anderson Cooper. Congratulations. Don't get me wrong, I obsessed about Coop as much as the next fatherfucker, but that obsession ended a long time ago (Tuesday). Even though you're Republican, "straight", part of a fraternity and kind of a gigantic douchebag, I love you. I love everything about you. I mean, just look at you:


Awww... I'm smiling too. You seem to be fighting yours, but why? Is it because you have a secret? A big, juicy, Grade A secret? Maybe you just need to poop. Whatever the reason, it's adorable. We have so much in common. I don't have any humble qualities either. You should know that although I'm retardedly liberal, I see your side and I totally dig it. Matter of fact, you seem to hold solid stances on everything save homosexuality. I can deal with that, and I'll soon explain why. We're both well aware that it's possible for an openly gay Democrat to mingle with a closeted Republican.


Continue reading "Mr. Poe Prays to Crist, Charlie Crist" »

Friday, August 8, 2008

2008 Election Cheat Sheet!

posted by on August 8 at 1:08 PM

Too lazy to slog through 4,400 words of endorsements? We hear you. To simplify your decision-making in the August 19 primary election, we've put together a handy, printer-ready cheat sheet that tells you which candidates we support.

The Stranger Election Control Board cheat sheet: Easier than thinking for yourself!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Gregoire "Racist" Comments Cause a Stir

posted by on August 7 at 12:22 PM

In the Stranger Election Control Board's interview with Gov. Christine Gregoire (for a full list of our endorsements, check out our election cheat sheet
), she blasted a Building Industry Association of Washington-backed ad as "racist." The ad implied Gregoire gave the tribes a sweetheart deal on a slot-machine gambling expansion compact in exchange for donations to the Democratic Party, which later made their way to her campaign. Gregoire told us:

They made stuff up about the tribes – and the ad, by the way, I think is racist. I think this whole thing is racist, and I'm totally offended by it. But it just shows you how low they'll go. It shows you that it doesn't matter what the truth is, they're going to trump stuff up. So I'm not afraid of making decisions independently and standing by them.

Gregoire's comments are making it all over the Northwest (and nation--last night the story was featured on NPR's "All Things Considered.") Here's a sampling of the coverage.

Spokane's Spokesman Review: "Gregoire Calls Campaign Ad Untrue, Racist."

KOMO News: "Gregoire Calls Campaign Ad 'Racist.'"

The Seattle Times: "Gregoire decries ad by foes as 'racist'"

Tacoma's News Tribune: "Gregoire charges racism by critics of gambling deals"

KING 5 News: "Gregoire declares campaign ad 'racist'"

The Bellingham Herald: "Gregoire charges racism by critics of gambling deals"

The Associated Press (printed all over the Northwest, and here in the Oregonian): "Campaign ad declared 'racist' by Wash. governor"

The Everett Herald: "Campaign ad called 'racist'"

Here's the original ad:

And here's the relevant snippet from the Stranger's interview with Gregoire.

What do you think, Slog readers? Is the governor right that attacks on her relationship with the tribes are "racist"? Or is she blowing the ads out of proportion?

Black Man

posted by on August 7 at 10:51 AM

Another statistic:

More black men in the United States are behind bars than are in higher education, according to a new study by a Washington DC thinktank.

Following a boom in prison construction and an increase in the numbers of people being incarcerated for non-violent crimes, there were 791,600 black men in American prisons and county jails in 2000, and only 603,032 enrolled in colleges and universities, according to the Justice Policy Institute, which favours alternatives to imprisonment.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Interviewing the Gov

posted by on August 6 at 10:50 AM

The Stranger Election Control Board's editorial endorsements for this month's primary election will hit the streets (and go up online) later today. In the meantime, please enjoy this edited video of the SECB's interview with Gov. Christine Gregoire, in which the Gov gives us what-for on Sound Transit, tells us what her priorities will be if she's reelected, and rips into Republican Dino Rossi for criticizing her close relationship with the state's Native American tribes.

Part I:

Part II:

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cyndi Lauper Tells It Like It Is

posted by on August 5 at 3:03 PM


Thank you, Towleroad, for directing me to this interview of Cyndi Lauper in the London Times.

On her disgust with Dubya and love for gays:

This community for me is my beloved community. I have been running with this community all my life, and when I hear people like George Bush talk about the gay community being anti-American it makes my blood boil. The guy who saved the White House, one of the heroes who crashed that plane on 9/11, was gay – the rugby player Mark Bingham, who died on United 93. And does Bush ever mention that? That gay guy saved his lousy ass. And this guy who says he prays to God, this guy who promotes hate and fear, this guy we call our President...This guy is the true anti-American.

And on her insurmountable heterosexuality:

My sister was gay, my best friends were gay, so I figured I had to be gay. So I did everything they did. I tried kissing girls. But it didn’t feel right for me and eventually I was forced to come out as a heterosexual.

Team Mask, Part II

posted by on August 5 at 3:02 PM

And here's a trailer from another kind of team (the "RNC Welcoming Committee") wearing another kind of mask (black bandanas).

It's pretty cute, for a video predicting violent battles in the streets of St. Paul.

(Any Slog readers from Minneapolis-St. Paul? I'll be there for the convention and am looking for local contacts. If you know any, email me at:

Screw You, Top Two

posted by on August 5 at 11:04 AM

On KUOW this morning, I'm pretty sure I heard Secretary of State Sam Reed hypothesizing that Washington's new top-two primary might increase voter turnout (compared to last year) because voters would no longer be so incensed about being forced to pick a party that they refused to vote.

Now, I know the Secretary of State office must have heard plenty last year from pouty, self-styled independents who couldn't understand the art and fun of temporary, strategic partisan voting. But were there really that many of them? In our endorsement interview last week, Reed conceded that turnout might actually go down in this primary, because voters understand that there are few real choices being made. He thought this would only happen in places like Seattle, where it's pretty clear that two candidates of the same party will make it through. But even in areas where party identification is more evenly split, there are tons of races where the two frontrunners are pretty evident before a single vote is cast.

In plenty of races across Washington state, this primary is essentially a glorified, state-funded public opinion poll. Candidates will get talking points and potentially jumpstart their fundraising by winning the primary, but they still have to do the exact same thing all over again in the general. Among the few races where your vote is likely to have a real impact are those for Supreme Court positions, where any candidate who earns over 50% of the vote gets elected without going on to the general. If Sam Reed is right—that voter turnout will only be depressed in places like Seattle and might even increase elsewhere—then that could eventually have a frightening impact on the political slant of our high court.

God, how I hate you, top-two primary.

Friday, August 1, 2008

"A nice verbal letter to a guy we really care for"

posted by on August 1 at 3:10 PM

George W. Bush, along with his dad and his brother Jeb, took a break from lunching at the Bush compound in Kennebunkport to surprise-call Rush Limbaugh's show today and congratulate him for being on the air for 20 years.

THE PRESIDENT: Rush Limbaugh?

RUSH: Yes, sir, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: President George W. Bush calling to congratulate you on 20 years of important and excellent broadcasting.

All three Bushes congratulated Limbaugh in turn, but the dumbest Bush talked the longest.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I'm just calling along with President 41 and the former governor of Florida. We're fixing to have lunch here, and I said, "Listen, we ought to call our pal and let him know that we care," for you. So this is as much as anything, a nice verbal letter to a guy we really care for...I am great. We're doing very good, thank you very much, sir. Concerned about our economy, obviously, but know we need to be drilling for some oil and gas in order to take the pressure off the gas prices -- and I'm pleased with the progress in Iraq.

Isn't that just so fucking sweet you could vomit?

Make Sure the Next Woman You Meet Who's Thinking About Voting for McCain...

posted by on August 1 at 10:40 AM

...reads this.

The Bush administration has ignited a furor with a proposed definition of pregnancy that has the effect of classifying some of the most widely used methods of contraception as abortion.

A draft regulation, still being revised and debated, treats most birth-control pills and intrauterine devices as abortion because they can work by preventing fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus. The regulation considers that destroying "the life of a human being."

Many medical groups disagree. They hold that pregnancy isn't established until several days after conception, when the fertilized egg has grown to a cluster of several dozen cells and burrowed into the uterine wall. Anything that disrupts that process, in their view, is contraception.... Dozens of Congressional Democrats—including presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama—have signed letters of protest blistering the proposal. His Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, declined to comment.

The goal of this proposed regulation? To make it harder for women to come by contraceptives. If standard methods of contraception are reclassified as abortion then laws crafted to allow pharmacists and other medical personal to "opt out" of providing treatments that violate their religious beliefs—morning-after pills, abortion referrals—would suddenly cover the pill and IUDs.

Helloooooo? Straight people? The GOP and the religious right don't just hate the gays and gay freedom to host gay brunches, enter into gay marriages, and do gay adoptions. They hate your freedoms, too.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Questions for the Governor?

posted by on July 31 at 1:31 PM

The Stranger Election Control Board (SECB) is meeting with Gov. Christine Gregoire in a few minutes. Any suggestions about what we should ask her? Leave 'em in the comments.

Ladenburg vs. McKenna

posted by on July 31 at 9:40 AM

I'm listening to Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg on KUOW right now.

Ladenburg is running for Washington state Attorney General, challenging Republican incumbent Rob McKenna. A caller asked about gay marriage and Ladenburg said that he supports civil unions, not marriage equality, but added that the state should treat everyone equally and perhaps it was a mistake for the state to get into the marriage business at all, since marriage is a religious institution wocka wocka wocka. Ladenburg wants to swing both ways on marriage equality: He's against marriage rights for same-sex couples, he's for civil unions, but he believes the state should treat everyone equally. But wouldn't equal treatment require the state to allow same-sex couples to marry or to get out of the marriage business entirely and make only civil unions available to all couples, gay and straight?

Steve Scher, perhaps not wanting to put the Democrat on the spot, neglected to ask this obvious follow up.

I'll probably vote for Ladenburg in the fall—his position on marriage equality is indistinguishable from this guy's position—but I'll do it with some reservations. Rob McKenna is a GOP hack and all, but he is the only female-to-male transsexual that has ever won a state-wide race in Washington state. I want to be a good Democrat, but I also want to support FTM visibility and McKenna helps break down stereotypes about transsexuals.

Man, this is a tough one.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More on 'Uncle Ted's Unexcellent Adventure'

posted by on July 29 at 3:40 PM

Senator Ted Stevens—he of the Incredible Hulk tie!—has been indicted on seven counts relating to a recent corruption probe into his ties to Alaskan oil services company VECO. Details are still coming, but the early word from CBS News was as follows:

A federal grand jury in Washington has handed up the indictment against Stevens -- which the Justice Department is set to announce very shortly.

Stevens faces seven counts of false statements involving VECO, the oil services company in Alaska, and the renovations done on his home.

Stevens has been the subject of a wide-ranging investigation -- and with this announcement -- Stevens becomes the highest level politician charged in the department's crackdown on alleged corruption, CBS News reports.

If the name Ted Stevens sounds familiar to you, it should: While a long-time Alaska senator, he achieved his most visible media moment when explaining that the internet was a 'series of tubes!!!!', a concept which Senator Stevens so eloquently explains in the enclosed YouTube clip below.

The remix of which is really pretty neat:

Rumors have been swirling for almost a year that Stevens was trading government funding for VECO in exchange for the company making additions to his palatial Alaskan estate. The FBI raided his home last year searching for information on the deal, and the question of charges being filed has been less a question of 'if' rather than 'when' ever since.

The whole ugly story has been covered under the watchful and all-seeing eye of TPMuckraker since the beginning, the archives of which can be read here.