Category Archives: General interest

Make Voter Registration Easier in Washington State

Action needed – Two bills currently before the Washington State Legislature will make it easier for voters to register to vote. They have both passed the House and have had a Hearing in the Senate State Government Committee but need citizen input now to get out of committee for a vote by the full Senate.  Please contact committee members and urge them to vote these bills out of committee. The deadline for bills that came from the other house to be voted out of committee is March 29, 2017.

HB 1468 – changes the deadline for voter registration from 29 days before the election to 11 days
HB 1513 – authorizes 16 and 17 years old to sign up to register to vote when they turn 18

Contact members of the Senate State Government Committee to vote these bills out of committee for a full Senate vote. Send an e-mail or call:

Mark Milosca – Chair    mark.miloscia@leg.wa.gov    1-360-786-7648
Hans Zeiger   hans.zeiger@leg.wa.gov    1-360-786-7648
Sam Hunt   sam.hunt@leg.wa.gov    1-360-786-7642
Patty Kuderer   patty.kuderer@leg.wa.gov    1-360-786-7694
Kirk Pearson   kirkpearson@leg.wa.gov     1-360-786-7676

You can also call the toll free  legislative hotline 1-800-562-6000 and leave messages for all of them.

Additionally you can contact your own State Senator and urge her or him to contact Mark Miloscia and Committee members to act on these bills. They need to hear from us. Click on the bill links and click on “Comment on this Bill” and it  will send your message to your  legislators.

www.majorityrules.org like on fb – majority rules

What happened? What do we do now? Living in Trumpland

For many here is America, the world has changed. They have woken up in a strange land called Trumpland. Democrats, progressives, liberals, independents and even some Republicans are asking what the hell happened.   How did we get here and what do we do now? Below is some recommended reading that attempts to give some insight as to this new reality that has set in. Suggestions are offered by some as to what to do. This is an ongoing search for answers. I will add new articles as they emerge.

Indivisible Guide –  A Practical Guide for resisting the Trump Agenda   has been written by former Congressional staffers, Jan 2017. They give suggestions based on the success of the Tea Party as to how Progressives can fight back, to limit the negative impacts of the GOP and Trump. They also provide links to Indivisible groups that have formed across the country.

‘Data-driven’ campaigns are killing the Democratic Party. Politico Feb 12, 2017  – This article argues that data driven campaign over the last 4 cycles have resulted in catastrophic losses for Democrats.  It urges connecting with voters through storytelling, having a clear message that reaches voters on an emotional level.

A Low Tech Guide to Becoming Politically Active, New York Times, Feb 8, 2017 – Lots of good advice here – the title in the print edition is “How to Turn Your Facebook Rants Into Real-Life Activism”

How to Build an Autocracy, Atlantic March 2017  – Good discussion of the ways Trump and Bannon are working to convert our democracy to an autocracy that benefits the wealthy.
David Frum – “What is spreading today is repressive kleptocracy, lead by rulers based on greed…Such rulers rely less on terror and more on rule twisting, the manipulation of information, and the co-option of elites.

What Effective Protest Could Look Like, Atlantic, Feb 6, 2017 –  “Perspective From the Right, for Effective Challenge From the Left

Post-Fascist Europe Tells Us Exactly How to Defend Our Democracy -Yes Magazine Jan 13, 2017 – “Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so. Here are 20 lessons from the 20th century, adapted to the circumstances of today.”

10 Investigative Reporting Outlets to Follow, Bill Moyers, Jan 13,2017  – “Here are some new organizations to follow as well as a few established ones  that are working to uncover the truth.

A Guide for Rebuilding the Democratic Party from the Ground Up, VOX, Jan 5,2017 -“Organizationally, the US right is light years ahead of the left. A leading political scientist explains what Democrats should do to change that”

To Stop Trump, Democrats Can Learn from the Tea Party, New York Times, Jan 2, 2107 –  Op-Ed – “The Tea Party’s ideas were wrong, and their often racist rhetoric and physical threats were unacceptable. But they understood how to wield political power and made two critical strategic decisions. First, they organized locally, focusing on their own members of Congress. Second, they played defense, sticking together to aggressively resist anything with President Obama’s support. With this playbook, they rattled our elected officials, targeting Democrats and Republicans alike.”

The Democratic Ggame Plan for Making Trump Miserable – and Regaining Power,  New York Magazine, Dec. 23, 2016

What Those Who Studied Nazis Can Teach Us About the Strange Reaction to Donald Trump, Huffington Post Dec 19, 2016 – “While its Important to watch the President Elect Closely, We also Must be Mindful of Our Own Response to Him.”

Why the Electoral College is the absolute worst, explained, VOX, Dec 19, 2016  –  The Electoral College is a rigged archaic voting system that violates the one person, one vote 1962 Supreme Court Decision that changed state elections..

99 Ways to Fight Trump, Do One, Do them all, But do Something

Steve Bannon and Breitbart News, in their own words, New York Times,  Nov 14, 2016 – Bannon and Breitbart News in their own words – necessary reading to help understand the man behind Donald Trump.

Trump’s Choice of Stephen Bannon Is Nod to Anti-Washington Base, New York Times , Nov 14, 2016 – ” In naming Stephen K. Bannon to a senior White House post, President-elect Donald J. Trump has elevated the hard-right nationalist movement that Mr. Bannon has nurtured for years from the fringes of American politics to its very heart, a remarkable shift that has further intensified concern about the new administration’s direction.”

Steve Bannon, Trump’s Top Guy, Told Me He Was a ‘Leninist” Who Wanted to ‘Destroy the State’, TheDailyBeast.com,  August 21, 2016, – When the President’s top advisor’s goal is to tear America apart not build it up we as a nation are under siege. That is what is happening now.
Daily Beast – “I’m a Leninist,” Bannon proudly proclaimed. Shocked, I asked him what he meant. Lenin,” he answered, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” Bannon was employing Lenin’s strategy for Tea Party populist goals. He included in that group the Republican and Democratic Parties, as well as the traditional conservative press.”

Uneasy About the Future, Readers Turn to Dystopian Classics, New York Times, Jan 27, 2017 – Big surge in dystopian classics happening as people buy copies of Margaret Atwood’s Tales of a Handmaid, George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, and Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here. Not surprising considering what is happening.

Shape Tomorrow, Register and Vote –  the Democrats’ Sleeping Giant – Down with Tyranny, Jan 18,2017  – Case Study on successful impact of registering people to vote.

Autocracy , Rules for Survival, New York Review of Books, Nov. 10, 2016, – “But Trump is anything but a regular politician and this has been anything but a regular election. Trump will be only the fourth candidate in history and the second in more than a century to win the presidency after losing the popular vote. He is also probably the first candidate in history to win the presidency despite having been shown repeatedly by the national media to be a chronic liar, sexual predator, serial tax-avoider, and race-baiter who has attracted the likes of the Ku Klux Klan. Most important, Trump is the first candidate in memory who ran not for president but for autocrat—and won.”

Will Complacency and Progressives Let Trump Win the Presidency?

Michael Moore in his comments to Bill Maher at the Republican National Convention makes a strong point. Complacency by Democrats and independents who think Trump has no chance of winning and then not voting could tip the election to Trump.

Voter turnout has been going down in our elections as voters disengage. Progressives will contribute to this problem by not voting for Hillary and continuing to dwell on her negatively rather than looking at her pluses compared to Trump.

There is no way progressives win with a Trump victory. Progressives can put pressure on Hillary and Democrats in Congress if we take back the Senate and the House. Nothing will happen positively with a Trump win and Republicans holding both houses of Congress.

Some of us have lived through numerous Republican Administrations and seen the power of the presidency. And as President  Obama has shown the President does have the power to affect a lot of things despite not controlling Congress. including Supreme Court nominations and who gets appointed to run the Government and executive orders. But a President Trump combined with a Republican House and Senate would be a wipeout for Democratic programs and American society in general, reversing decades of progressive action.

We win by being involved, not by sitting on the sidelines and complaining or disengaging. Turnout for Protest votes like Brexit have consequences. Who turns out to vote can have tremendous impacts. Younger voters were expected to vote “remain” but voted in lower numbers than older voters.

The same impact of low voter turnout by particular groups supporting Democrats happened in the US in the 2014 Senate and Governor’s race resulting in the US Senate being taken over by the Republicans. As Sam Wang noted in his post in the American Prospect entitled “One reason the Democrats Lost So Big in Midterms:Exceptionally Low Voter Turnout”:

A larger question is why voter turnout hit a new post-World War II low. Compared with 2012, the number of votes cast dropped by about 42 percent. Democrats lacked a coherent message, de-emphasized their own policies in immigration and health care, and sidelined their highest-profile messenger, Barack Obama. Instead, issues such as Ebola and ISIS dominated the news. Relative media inattention to the election may have depressed turnout more than usual. These and other factors affecting turnout are inherently difficult for pollsters to anticipate. In 2014, the Midterm Curse, which this year afflicted both pollsters and Democrats, was in all likelihood caused by exceptional voter apathy.

Lower voter turnout by Democrats  this year could help Trump become President despite lagging in the polls. Some of the reasons for lower democratic voter turnout could include:

  • Lack of a strong motivating message by Democrats that Hillary will move forward strongly on addressing issues like income inequality, increasing job creation, opposing bad trade agreements, funding educational opportunities and expanding health care for all.
  • Progressives sit on the sidelines upset because Bernie Sanders was not nominated.
  • Progressives vote for a third party candidate like Jill Stein.
  • Democrats think there is no way someone like Trump can be elected and don’t bother to vote.
  • Young voters who supported Bernie Sanders become disenchanted and don’t vote.
  • Voter suppression efforts prevent enough Democratic voters from voting in key states
  • Progressives and others believe FOX News, Roger Ailes and other right wing media that Hillary is “evil” and don’t vote.
  • Progressives and others help spread the right wing message that Hillary is “evil” and cause others to not vote.
  • Conservatives continue to believe Trump represents the middle class rather than the 1% he really represents.

There can be other reasons also but the real challenge is convincing Democrats and independents that this election is a change election and that Hillary is the change agent. Put the blame for income inequality on Republican tax policy. Lowering taxes on the wealthy as Trump proposes will only make things worse.

Not raising the minimum wage means that more people may have jobs but can’t afford basic things like food and housing in the current economy. Trump and Pence oppose raising the minimum wage. Hillary has proposed significantly raising the minimum wage to $15/hr.

Trump and the Republicans oppose acting on climate change and support continued mining of coal for producing energy. Hillary proposes shifting to green jobs and renewable energy.

Hillary has proposed overturning Citizens United with a Constitutional Amendment to help get Big Money Out of Elections while Trump has been silent on this and Republicans oppose any changes.

These and other issues point to a clear difference in the direction the country would move under their Presidency. Hillary’s positions represent a significant change from the direction Trump wants to go and that Republicans have so far prevented us from going.  Elect Hillary and boot the Republicans out of Congress and the people of America can really move forward to a better American future for all, not just the 1%. That is real change!

Surprise – US Court Rules Kids Have a Constitutional Stake in the Future

A Federal Judge in Eugene, Oregon has confirmed the right of a group of plaintiffs representing young people to sue the Federal Government over its climate change policy.

As noted in a press release from Our Children’s Trust   entitled “Federal Court Affirms Constitutional Rights of Kids in Landmark Climate Case” that was posted on the website Common Dreams:

On April 8, 2016, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin of the federal District Court in Eugene, OR, decided in favor of 21 young Plaintiffs, and Dr. James Hansen on behalf of future generations, in their landmark constitutional climate change case brought against the federal government and the fossil fuel industry. The Court’s ruling is a major victory for the 21 youth Plaintiffs, ages 8-19, from across the U.S. in what Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein call the “most important lawsuit on the planet right now.” These plaintiffs sued the federal government for violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property, and their right to essential public trust resources, by permitting, encouraging, and otherwise enabling continued exploitation, production, and combustion of fossil fuels.”

The case is significant in that the judge ruled that the young plaintiffs had standing to sue and that the outcome of the case would involve climate science. The central question will be a presentation of climate changes impacts  on the future of the young people and the responsibility of the Federal Government to act on behalf the public trust doctrine.

As Our Children’s Future noted:

 “In denying the motions of the federal government and the fossil fuel industry, the Court’s decision framed the issue as follows: “Plaintiffs are suing the United States … because the government has known for decades that carbon dioxide (C02) pollution has been causing catastrophic climate change and has failed to take necessary action to curtail fossil fuel emissions. Moreover, plaintiffs allege that the government and its agencies have taken action or failed to take action that has resulted in increased carbon pollution through fossil fuel extraction, production, consumption, transportation, and exportation. Plaintiffs allege the current actions and omissions of defendants make it extremely difficult for plaintiffs to protect their vital natural systems and a livable world. Plaintiffs assert the actions and omissions of defendants that increased C02 emissions ‘shock the conscience,’ and are infringing the plaintiffs’ right to life and liberty in violation of their substantive due process rights.”  The Court’s decision also upheld the youth Plaintiffs’ claims in the Fifth and Ninth Amendments “by denying them protections afforded to previous generations and by favoring short term economic interests of certain citizens.” Finally, Judge Coffin upheld Plaintiffs’ assertion of violations under the public trust doctrine, ruling that there is a federal public trust and plaintiffs’ claim can proceed.”

You can click on this link to read Judge Thomas Coffins’ “ORDER and FINDINGS & RECOMMENDATION “

See also:

“Sorry, Feds: Kids Can Sue Over Climate Negligence, Judge Says”  Nation of Change

Judge greenlights Oregon climate change lawsuit against Federal government”  – Oregonlive.com

 

 

Musical Chairs in Washington’s 48th LD races

Democratic Representative Cyrus Habib announced today that he was going to run for the State Senate seat in the 48th LD in east King County. Candidate Joan McBride, former Mayor of Kirkland, announced that she was dropping her bid for Senate and would run for Habib’s House seat.

Joan McBride was the lone Democrat to challenge Senator Rodney Tom in the 48th LD. Rodney Tom, while professing to be a Democrat, bolted the Democratic Party two years ago when he aligned himself with the Republicans in the State Senate. This Legislative session he was the so-called Majority Leader as a result of joining with another Democrat professing to also be a Democrat  – Tim Sheldon of the 35th LD, and aligning themselves with the minority 24  Republicans to be part of a “Majority Coalition”. Continue reading

Do District Elections for Seattle Make Sense?

A third initiative effort is underway for district elections for Seattle City Council members. Two previous efforts have not been successful with the voters. The current proposal is for a hybrid system. It proposes to divide Seattle  into 7  districts and elect a Council member from each one.  Two additional members would be elected city wide. Right now all City Council members are elected citywide. You can see the proposal more specifically by visiting their website at Seattle Districts Now.

The real question is what is broken and is it necessary to radically change the current system.

Would district elections of Seattle City Council members be good for Seattle? The proponents argue that current  Seattle City Council members are out of touch with the neighborhoods and don’t respond to constituents. They argue  that they have no one to take their neighborhood problems to and that having one Council member elected from their district will solve that problem.

I believe it is wishful thinking to make the  assumption that the district person elected is going to somehow be more responsive  to neighborhood concerns and things will be better than the current situation. There is no guarantee.  Council members  are elected for 4 years so it would be 4 years before someone could run again to change things.  And there is the danger that district Council members may also  pay a lot less attention to  issues in other districts as well as city wide issues.

There is also the problem that even if you get a good District City Council member, you still need 5 votes out of 9 to get things done on the Council. Former City Council member Sam Smith was fond of repeating this over and over.

Dividing the city into districts means that because 7 of the new Council members would each only represent 1/7 of the voters and only 2 all of the voters, that this combination would give the Mayor more power and diminish the power of the City Council compared to the current City Council /Mayor structure where they are all elected citywide.

Right now nine City Council members represent all voters and voters can approach any of the nine City Council members for help. Council members are responsible for the whole city, not just 1/7 of the city. Under district elections you are pinning your hopes on one City Council member to be your primary representative.

What if that city council member is not responsive to your needs? Going to any of the other 6 district Council members probably will not be as successful because they are much less likely to feel the need to respond to your concerns as you are no longer their constituent who can vote against them. And if the issue does not involve a neighborhood in their district they are more likely to not get involved.

It’s just like trying to talk to a state legislator about a problem in your legislative district and he/she is a representative from another legislative district. He/she may listen to you but will more than likely tell you to talk to your own elected representatives.

You have 2 other city wide City Council members to try but it is not the same as having 9 possible council members to approach as you can now.

In addition proponents of district elections  argue that it is too expensive to run for Seattle City Council and that being able to run in a smaller area means more people can run and have a chance of winning without having to raise big dollars. In the 2011 cycle, incumbent City Council members raised on the average about $250,000 and most challengers usually raised much less. Money means outreach and voter contact and without it is is difficult to run.

I have run twice for the Seattle City Council myself and came in third twice. I understand the money problem but  I also think that with this proposal  people may be  putting too many hopes on the idea that changing the election process will generate more success in electing neighborhood candidates. I think the problems are bigger than that.

One basic fact will still remain. Most incumbents in Seattle are pretty well versed on the issues before them and have name recognition and media exposure that challengers usually do not. Not all challengers are qualified to run for office, lacking experience in city issues or campaign experience. Voters need a reason to throw an incumbent out.  And they need some sense that the challenger will do a better job.

It is a false assumption to assume that incumbency, name recognition  or money will no longer be big factors in who gets elected. Once elected in a District it will be hard to remove incumbents. One only has to look at how long some state Legislators have stayed in office and how  hard it is to challenge them.

As to money I believe the same interests that support the current elected City Council members will still put their money into candidates that represent their interests. Money will still be a significant factor in City Council races.It is highly likely that most of the current City Council members will adjust to a new system and either run for a District seat in the area they live in or one of the two citywide seats and some will move if need be to another district to run.

The downtown interests and developer interests and business interests that neighborhood groups point to as funding the current Council members are not going to declare defeat or ignore City Council races because of District elections.  They will support the same people who represent their interests whether they run in District elections or City wide. They will also recruit candidates to run in Districts to represent their interests if current Council members do not run in those districts. And expect they will spend as much as now to elect their candidates only the efforts will now be focused on a much smaller population of voters.

Business interests will still be able to target their mailers to voters in the Districts and will still be able to draw contributions  and support from business interests citywide as well as PAC donations.

Meanwhile I think neighborhood candidates will have a more difficult time raising money because neighborhood people across the city will be less likely to give money to elect a candidate not running in their neighborhood. It is similar to what happens now in electing State Legislators. Most of their individual donors live in their legislative district. And other money coming from PAC’s will have the same strings attached as if they were running citywide.

Perspective neighborhood candidates will also have to face the limitations of running based on where they live.   With district elections the options will be limited to either running against the incumbent in your district or for one of the two city wide seats.  If their district incumbent is entrenched or popular or both their options are limited for running.

Right now perspective candidates can pick any incumbent city council candidate to run against  or any seat. They can pick who they consider the weakest incumbent is. With district elections they would have to move to do that if it isn’t their incumbent district city council member. Moving unfortunately is not an option for most people or candidates, particularly challengers who are not guaranteed to win in any sense of the word.

Unfortunately  moving would take you out of the district you live in, raising the issue of being a carpetbagger. In addition it would remove you  from your previous district  connections and involvement and credentials  that supposedly are one of  a neighborhood candidate’s assets to running in a district. And if you lose you have to wait 4 more years before you can run again in that district. Right now if you lose you can run again in two years  if an open seat emerges or you just decide to run again against a different sitting incumbent.

Suppose you live in a District that has an incumbent neighborhood advocate like say Council member Nick Licata and you want to run. You’re not going to run against him so your only option is to run for one of the two citywide seats up every 4 years, which may also have 2 popular incumbents. Do you move? Your options to run have now become much more limited and the options of other good candidates have also become more limited, because of the restrictions that district boundaries place on your ability to run.

These and other concerns need to be weighted carefully before neighborhood advocates and others charge forward with significant changes to how we elect City Council members.  I believe difficulties will still remain and it will be just as difficult to get elected as it is now.  Downtown and business interests will still play a pivotal role in funding and electing candidates and are not going to concede the City Council to neighborhood advocates.

The prime criteria to get elected will still remain – the need to be a credible candidate with a clear  compelling reason for voters to vote for you, the ability to articulate a vision for the future of the city, not just your neighborhood, the ability to raise money, the ability to communicate your message to voters and the ability  connect with the voters.

 

Washington State Supreme Court Rules Eyman Supermajority Votes Unconstitutional, Republicans Push for a Constitutional Amendment

In a 6 to 3 decision this last week the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that that Tim Eyman’s  Initiative 1053’s supermajority provisions for passage of revenue measures by the State Legislature was unconstitutional. In fact it went beyond revenue measures and said any attempt to require supermajority votes not in the Washington State Constitution was unconstitutional.

The decision stated that, Article II, sec. 22 of the Washington State Constitution “prohibits either the people or legislature from passing legislation requiring more than a simple majority for the passage of tax legislation – or any other ordinary legislation”. Despite this language Majority Leader Rodney Tom in the Washington State Senate immediately tried to figure a way to change the Senate rules to require a two thirds vote to raise taxes by the Legislature.

On the same day the Court issued their opinion, the Olympian reported that Tom said:

“We’re going to stand behind the will of the people. They’ve been very clear that they want it to be difficult to raise taxes,” Tom said today.

The rule would require a two-thirds supermajority or a public vote to pass any tax increase.

And passing the rule would take only a simple majority of all senators, unlike a constitutional amendment that is much less likely to pass.

Seems that legal counsel finally convinced Tom that the Washington State Supreme Court ruling also applied in principle to any rule making by the Legislature. By that didn’t stop him from trying to consider it. Here’s what the Supreme Court said about allowing a 1/3 minority of Legislators to overrule a majority:

Article II, sec. 22  “prohibits either the people or legislature from passing legislation requiring more than a simple majority for the passage of tax legislation – or any other ordinary legislation.”…

They also stated  that) “The Supermajority Requirement unconstitutionally amends the constitution by imposing a two-thirds vote requirement for tax legislation.

More importantly, the Supermajority Requirement substantially alters our system of government, thus enabling a tyranny of the minority.”

The telling words here to listen to are not so much that requiring a supermajority vote to raise revenue was unconstitutional but that it allowed a 1/3 minority of legislators in one House of the Legislature to veto any majority vote of the rest of the Legislators. Under this system the minority vote prevails and the minority rules, not the majority.

It is a negation of the idea of one person one vote, saying that on revenue issues, including repealing any tax loopholes, that  a State Legislator opposed to raising revenue  had the equivalent of 2 votes for every one vote that a State legislator had that supported raising revenue. The result was that the No vote of 17 State senators out of 49 Senators could negate the Yes votes of 32 Senators.  The minority position would win out which is what happened in almost all cases in the State Legislature while the 2/3 voting mandate was in place.

One could similarly make an argument that incumbents have an unfair advantage in running for office and need to be term limited. The equivalent to I-1053 in this instance would be if the voters agreed and passed an initiative saying that any incumbent Legislator running needed to get a supermajority vote to win or his opponent would win. Following the logic of I-1053, if the incumbent got 64% of the vote, but did not receive the 2/3 supermajority vote, then his opponent would win, even though he only got 36% of the vote. The goal of limiting re-election of incumbents would be accomplished by this action which lets a minority of voters make the decision as to who gets elected. Most voters seeing the results would cry foul. Fortunately this example is also now void as the Washington State Supreme Court specifically noted that Article II, sec. 22 of the Washington State Constitution “prohibits either the people or legislature from passing legislation requiring more than a simple majority for the passage of tax legislation – or any other ordinary legislation (highlighting mine).

Tim Eyman and his corporate donors for I-1185 which voters passed this last November argued that raising taxes should be harder than passing other legislation and that was why they should prevail. This is a political philosophy that represents the conservative Republican position. Yet running on that position against Democrats they have not been able to elect a majority of Republicans to the House or Senate in recent years. This year two so called Democratic Legislators, Senator Rodney Tom of the 48th LD and Senator Tim Sheldon, joined with 23 Republicans to take over the State Senate.

There is a clear difference between Republicans and Democrats on this issue that still persists. Republicans and Rodney Tom in the Senate rapidly passed SJR 8205 – Amending the Constitution to require a two-thirds majority vote of the legislature to raise taxes,  out of the Ways and Means Committee to the Rules Committee, 2nd reading. Fortunately for those who agree that allowing a minority position to prevail over the votes of a majority is undemocratic, the State Constitution put amending the State Constitution in a select category of legislation requiring a 2/3 vote by both the Senate and the House and a majority vote of the people in order to pass.

The State Constitution is the framework of state government and as such should be more difficult to amend than passing a general law or raising revenue or repealing tax exemptions which the voters can put on the ballot by referendum or elect new legislators who can change the law.  The absurdity of Eyman’s I-1053 and I-1185 2/3 voting mandate was that it allowed Legislators to pass tax exemptions by a simple majority vote but required a 2/3 vote to repeal them.

Eyman’s measures were strongly supported by corporate business interests like BP Oil, Conoco Phillips, Association of Washington Business, the Beer Institute and others which sought to both avoid any business tax increases or repeal of any of their tax loopholes. It was a Corporate Tax Loophole Protection Act not an act which helped most residents in Washington State because it resulted in the inability of the Legislature to raise new revenue or reform our tax system.

As noted by the broad based Washington coalition called Our Economic Future we have now cut about $10 billion dollars from the State Budget.  State college tuition has doubled in 4 years. It now costs to go to State Parks. State employees and teachers have lost their jobs. Public K-12 education funding has gone down. All kinds of funding to help the needy, handicapped, kids, and unemployed have decreased.  The future of our state’s economy is under attack as businesses and corporations report record profits.  We need a balanced approach to taxation and funding to help the people of Washington State move into a better future.

Contact your State legislators today and urge them to oppose SJR 8205 – Amending the Constitution to require a two-thirds majority vote of the legislature to raise taxes.  Go to www.leg.wa.gov and let your Legislator know you oppose a Constitutional Amendment to give a minority of Legislators veto power over the majority.

 

"Will you still need me, Will you still feed me?"

Ah yes, folks,the Beatles song has now struck home.  So long ago it was so far away. And now it is today.

So if you’re looking for an answer, its not mine to give but yours.

But for my reflections, let me say.

Today is where I’m at and it is as mysterious as ever.  Whatever answers I have are no more permanent than the moment I am in.  I am alive fully aware that the eternal present is ever changing and transitory.  As I grow older I reflect on the probability that  this eternal present I experience has a greater and greater chance of flashing away at any time. I have no idea why what I experience exists but intellectually and emotionally do not adhere to any random dogma that assigns it some absolute value.

Yet I am a part of something larger and have strived to understand it and feel it and sustain the good things in it and reject those that are negative and life destroying.

I continue to live as if I will not die, because it seems to do otherwise is to start dying. That does not mean I do not reflect on my coming mortality, but I see no reason to hasten the day.

So many others have passed through this plane of being that we experience that to assign my life some special significance would be a form of self delusion.  Yet that does not mean my living or your living is not significant.  We seem to exist as part of some strange life force or energy field that has not found itself at an endpoint and is still evolving.  That is why science fiction which explores the dimensions of reality has always been intriguing to me. It opens the mind to visions of possible futures and realities not yet realized.

Living in a city for so many years blinds one to the starry heavens around us. The flickering lights in the sky are as mysterious and incomprehensible as ever.  So much of human history has been oblivious to the dimensions and fragileness of  life, including human life, that exists in a thin film around one planet that is a mere speck in the cosmos.

Infinity and our finiteness remain as incomprehensible as ever in astronomical and metaphysical terms. Exploring the mosaic and multitude of  the dimensions of physical space getting smaller and smaller also is perplexing as the complexity of subatomic structure still eludes our comprehension.

Life and existence remains a reality and an illusion. What I see and hear and feel is filtered through my past and the constructs imprinted on my brain and the constructs that are my mind and the web of being that connects with it through communication and books and the Internet and the social and personal and physical links to my perception. I am a part of something and yet I am separate.

Then there’s brain plasticity and the unconsciousness that I don’t seemingly perceive and the inconsistencies and brain wiring networks that I don’t control and those that I do that are variable with circumstances like age or smells or emotions or my physical surroundings or state of rest or stress.

We try to shape a construct on who we are to define ourselves and establish routines to function in the world we find ourselves in. Some of it is beyond our ability to control and some of it we daily repeat in patterns imposed upon us by society or our past.  Some of it we understand and some of it we are blind to. Some of it we can change and some of it is remains beyond us.

Truly living means to be open to constant re-evaluation to try to determine whether we are acting freely and wisely and with compassion or whether we are responding to factors or forces that are not in our best interests or those of others sharing the field of life we exist in.

Accidents of birth, being in one social setting or society versus another, must be viewed as just that. Those accidents of birth location and religious or social or political upbringing commit many people to a life that is unexamined and unquestioned. True freedom requires one to step outside these constructs and  examine the alternatives before choosing. This is the role that real education should assist in but that is so often lacking.

Just a few thoughts percolating around as this day moves on.  Society as a whole would be wise to reflect on it’s answers to providing care and compassion to those sharing life on earth, particularly those less fortunate and in need.  As populations grow and competition increases for resources and strains increase on the earth’s life support systems; if we can’t answer yes to “Will you still need me, Will you still feed me …?” whether someone is 4 or 64 or 104, then we as a world civilization are in trouble.  We’re not there yet.

Bush White House Using Taxpayer Dollars to Support Republican Candidates.

Why is the Bush White House using taxpayer supported public facilities and resources to support partisan Republican campaigns? The White House seems to be campaign headquarters for the Republican Party. The US Senate has an official policy which prohibits this type of blatant use of public taxpayer dollars to promote partisan campaigns.

Yet the official White House website is posting partisan campaign speeches as part of its news releases from the White House. These include campaign speeches by President Bush, Mrs Laura Bush and Vice President Cheney The only person who does not seem to be spending all their time giving partisan speeches is Cheney’s Wife.

Were these speeches written by the White House Press Corps? It certainly has the appearance of this. Are taxpayer dollars paying for this? The postings say “For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary” Is the press secretary working for the Republican Party?

Its no wonder our country is in such a mess and Bush can’t clean up the Iraq mess. The White House has become Grand Central Station for the Republican Party’s desperate effort to hold onto control of the House and the Senate. It appears the President is not working to solve the problems our courtry faces but is working for the Republican Party on out tax dollars.

In stark contrast the US Senate thinks it is unethical to use taxpayer funded resources and staff to promote partisan campaigns like the White House is doing. A Senate policy link from Washington State”s Senator Maria Cantwell”s official US Senate Website details Senate restrictions on use of public resources for campaigning.

U.S. SENATE INTERNET SERVICES USAGE RULES AND POLICIES first adopted in 1996 states:

“POSTING OR LINKING TO THE FOLLOWING MATTER IS PROHIBITED
Political Matter
a.Matter which specifically solicits political support for the sender or any other person or political party, or a vote or financial assistance for any candidate for any political office is prohibited.
b. Matter which mentions a Senator or an employee of a Senator as a candidate for political office, or which constitutes electioneering, or which advocates the election or defeat of any individuals, or a political party is prohibited.

Personal Matter
a. Matter which by its nature is purely personal and is unrelated to the official business activities and duties of the sender is prohibited.
b. Matter which constitutes or includes any article, account, sketch, narration, or other text laudatory and complimentary of any Senator on a purely personal or political basis rather than on the basis of performance of official duties as a Senator is prohibited.
c. Reports of how or when a Senator, the Senator’s spouse, or any other member of the Senator’s family spends time other than in the performance of, or in connection with, the legislative, representative, and other official functions of such Senator is prohibited.
d. Any transmission expressing holiday greetings from a Senator is prohibited. This prohibition does not preclude an expression of holiday greetings at the commencement or conclusion of an otherwise proper transmission.
Promotional Matter
a. The solicitation of funds for any purpose is prohibited.
b. The placement of logos or links used for personal, promotional, commercial, or partisan political campaign purposes is prohibited. “

Washington State law likewise has a similar restriction on the use of public resources to promote partisan campaigns. RCW 42.17.130 says

“No elective official nor any employee of his [or her] office nor any person appointed to or employed by any public office or agency may use or authorize the use of any of the facilities of a public office or agency, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of assisting a campaign for election of any person to any office or for the promotion of or opposition to any ballot proposition. Facilities of a public office or agency include, but are not limited to, use of stationery, postage, machines, and equipment, use of employees of the office or agency during working hours, vehicles, office space, publications of the office or agency, and clientele lists of persons served by the office or agency….”

See also Guideline for local government agencies in election campaigns

While it is nice to be able to check up on what Bush and others are saying on the campaign trail this should be on the Republican Party’s website not the taxpayer funded White House website. The Bush White House is posting campaign speeches given at partisan political fundraisers using publicly financed resources. This is wrong.

See below selected quotes from August partisan political “press releases” posted on the official White House website. The “campaign press releases” continue right through the present.

Remarks by the President at Lynn Swann for Governor Reception Lancaster Host Resort and Conference CenterLancaster, Pennsylvania August 16, 2006
I want to thank those of you who have given of your hard-earned money to help these folks. You can’t run unless the people are willing to contribute. That’s just the way it is. And the fact that Lynn and Jim have raised so much money tonight is a good sign. I want to thank you for those of you who have helped organize this event, and thank you for giving of your money. It really means a lot to them. I know. I speak with firsthand experience how much it means to have people willing to contribute.”

Vice President’s Remarks at a Luncheon for Arizona Victory 2006 Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa Phoenix, Arizona August 15, 2006
“I want to thank all of you for the strong support you’re giving to the Republican Party, and to the victory effort that we’re mounting here in Arizona. We’re headed into the fall campaign, with a lot of important offices on the ballot. We have a good roster of candidates, and we need to make sure they have the resources they’re going to need in order to guarantee victory in November. A strong turnout on Election Day will be good for our party, good for Arizona, and good for the country. And in the weeks ahead, we need to make sure that our fellow citizens know about our agenda for extending the prosperity of the country, and for protecting America against those who wish to harm us.”

Remarks by the President at Orrin Hatch for Senate Reception Grand America Hotel Salt Lake City, Utah August 31, 2006
“We’re proud to be here with Elaine and the Hatch family. Laura said to me, she said, you get over to Utah and you help our friends come back to Washington, D.C. ….
And most of all, thanks for helping Orrin. It takes a lot of work to get this many people in the room. And for those of you who organized this event, thank you. I know how hard you worked and so does he. This is an incredibly successful fundraiser, and he deserves it.
And for those of you involved in grassroots politics, thanks a lot for your hard work. Thanks for making sure that Utah was solid in 2004, and thank you for making sure that Utah remains solid in 2006. I appreciate you putting up the signs. I appreciate you making the phone calls. I appreciate you knocking on the doors. “


Remarks by the President at Bob Corker for Senate and Tennessee Republican Party Dinner Loews Vanderbilt HotelNashville, Tennessee August 30, 2006
“It makes sense to send a man of integrity and decency to Washington, D.C. And that man is Bob Corker. (Applause.)
I’m proud to call him friend, and you’ll be proud to call him United States Senator. (Applause.) And I want to thank you for your help. I thank you for giving of your money and I urge you to give of your time. I know there’s a lot of grassroots activists who are here. And Bob and Elizabeth are going to be counting on your help, coming down the stretch. He’s got the message, he’s got the courage, but he’s going to need you to put up the signs and make the phone calls and go to community centers, and remind the good people of this state, Republican, Democrat, and independent, that when you have somebody of his caliber, they need to go to the polls and put him in office. “


Remarks by the President at Lynn Swann for Governor Reception Lancaster Host Resort and Conference CenterLancaster, Pennsylvania August 16, 2006
“I want to thank those of you who have given of your hard-earned money to help these folks. I want to thank those of you who have given of your hard-earned money to help these folks. You can’t run unless the people are willing to contribute. That’s just the way it is. And the fact that Lynn and Jim have raised so much money tonight is a good sign. I want to thank you for those of you who have helped organize this event, and thank you for giving of your money. It really means a lot to them. I know. I speak with firsthand experience how much it means to have people willing to contribute.”

Vice President’s Remarks at a Luncheon for Arizona Victory 2006 Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa Phoenix, Arizona August 15, 2006
“I want to thank all of you for the strong support you’re giving to the Republican Party, and to the victory effort that we’re mounting here in Arizona. We’re headed into the fall campaign, with a lot of important offices on the ballot. We have a good roster of candidates, and we need to make sure they have the resources they’re going to need in order to guarantee victory in November. A strong turnout on Election Day will be good for our party, good for Arizona, and good for the country. And in the weeks ahead, we need to make sure that our fellow citizens know about our agenda for extending the prosperity.”

You’re Kidding? Rumsfeld Approved Photos?

No, I kid you not. The Republican war hysteria noise machine pulled a fast one on the American people and the news media. New York Times photographer Linda Spillers told Glenn Greenwald in an e-mail that:

“Ironically, photos were taken with Secretary Rumsfeld‘s permission.”

Greenwald wrote a detailed scathing commentary on the bogus Republican hit on the New York Times Travel section, that included pictures of Rumsfeld‘s vacation home, entitled “Conservative pundits reveal murderous plot by the Travel Section of the NYT! “

As Greenwald reports in a new post today entitled, “What is Left of Malkin,Hinderkaer and Horowitz’s Credibility?”

“The reprehensible lynch mob hysterics – Michelle Malkin, John Hinderaker, Red State, David Horowitz – spent the weekend screaming that the Times was guilty of gross recklessness and/or a deliberate intent to have Rumsfeld killed, by virtue of publication of this article. That bloodthirsty frenzy caused other bloggers to
publish
the home address and telephone number of Spillers and urged that other NYT editors and reporters be “hunted down.” Other followers of Malkin and Hinderaker suggested to their readers that this was yet more evidence of the unpatriotic recklessness of the NYT.

All along, Don Rumsfeld gave his express permission to the NYT for these photographs to be taken. How can anything other than complete scorn be heaped on Malkin, Hinderaker, Horowitz, Red State, and all of the uber-patriotic copycat accusers who spent the weekend spewing the most dangerous accusations possible based on completely false premises? Who would think that any of them have a shred of credibility after seeing how irresponsible and impervious to facts they are — even when knowingly catalyzing lynch mobs against people?”

Once again the Republican’s have succeeded in diverting attention from the real issues by putting up a smokescreen and changing the topic away from issues they can not justify. Instead of questions being pursed about Bush’s Presidential authority to go through bank records in pursuit of terrorists, the issue becomes the New Times Times and patriotism. Then it becomes trumped up charges of trying to kill Rumsfeld. Again noise, noise, noise and the media follows the noise like children following the Pied Piper.

Where is the backbone of the press? Is our countries destiny to have a press approved by Presidential fiat only? Say bye, bye free press, unless everyone wakes up and sees the lies and deceit of an arrogant President and his followers who believe they are above the law. The issue here is one of Presidential power and a free press.

The Republican noise machine is in full force. Divide and conquer. The Republican answer to any questions of Constitutionality and Presidential power is to say we are in a war and that trumps all else. But if we give up a free press we have lost the war anyway.