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Grateful to be privileged

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

We all have a lot to be grateful for here. By “here” I mean whatever you want it to mean.

On Sunday I got to do something that comes as a benefit of doing this job. There was no particular news value to going to watch Air Force One land in Seattle and to see the President Barack Obama come off the plane. My attendance at the event probably didn’t add anything special for the people of Kitsap County who I write for. Joel Connelly of the Seattle P-I and Jim Brunner of the Seattle Times will be writing the local stuff for the Seattle market, telling what they can about President Obama’s visit. All I got to do was go out and film his arrival. In fact, by the time you read this he will probably have already left.

So why did I go?

Because I can.

I’m a sort of political geek. I’m not the best at poly sci trivia or guessing from one strategy to the next, but there’s something about governance and the quest for it that intrigues me. And when you’re the kind of political nerd I am, being able to see a president is akin to owning a Ken Griffey rookie card.

On Friday I got an email inviting me to go attend the president’s arrival. I usually ignore those things, for the reasons above. There is nothing for Kitsap County residents that I can necessarily get at one of those events. That was especially true today, because he wasn’t even greeted by anyone local, not even Gov. Jay Inslee, whose permanent home is on Bainbridge Island. U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, our congressman, wasn’t there either. For $16,000 you might have been able to go see him speak at a couple of wealthy Democrats’ homes over on the other side of the water.

For reasons I still haven’t processed when I got this email I decided to ask my bosses if I could go. I got the OK and sent my RSVP.

There is some rationale for making the trek that does have some bearing on residents of Kitsap County. I make the case that most residents of Washington don’t have any less access to the information they want and need than I do. We reporters learn how to get at information quicker, but generally you have just as much right to see it as we do.

This, however, was not a public event. They invited media. And I have a hunch that there are a few hundred people in Kitsap County who if given the opportunity to go do something as simple as I did, filming the arrival of the president, would jump at it. Furthermore, they might even be upset at the likes of me for continually ignoring those invites. So to some degree, some of what I did today was for them.

Don’t accuse me of overstating that. I went for my own benefit. Before Sunday I had seen three candidates who would become president, but never an actual president (Unless you count kind of seeing Ronald Reagan through the windows of his limousine on a dark night). Well, now that I went on Sunday, I can no longer say that. It was kind of important to me. I’m nerdy that way. As we approach Thanksgiving on Thursday, I’m thankful that I now have had the opportunity I had today, that we live in a place where this privilege exists and that I have the job that I do.


The Kitsap Caucus Reading Room Aug. 21, 2013

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Real Clear Politics posted a column attempting to answer “How ‘Lawless’ is Obama?” It’s a cry conservatives have made about the president’s suspending the employer mandate for a year, some of his recess appointments and other executive actions.

The Seattle Times has a story about the state’s ad blitz on the health care exchange.

A story in The New Republic is provocatively titled, “The GOP Plan to Crush Silicon Valley,” and in it the author makes the case:

“Many people still cling to the idea that government is, without exception, a drag upon the private economy. Conservatives ‘know that when it comes to economic progress,’ Arthur Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute, wrote last year in National Review, ‘the best government philosophy is one that starts every day with the question, ‘What can we do today to get out of Americans’ way?’ ‘ They imagine the United States as a land of plucky inventor-entrepreneurs (‘We built it!’ they cry) who work out of garages and depend solely on their wits. The problem is that this vision of American inventiveness is pure myth.
“Steve Jobs, who has nearly been beatified in his role as independent businessman, excelled at designing products based on government-funded inventions.”

I invite you Kitsap Caucus readers to read and discuss.

A Washington Post blog post on The Fix shows why what’s happening now in the 2016 presidential election race matters more than you might think.


’47 percent’ may not matter much after all

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

I always suspected this about cats. This comes from sodahead.com.

Four years ago I relied much on the RealClearPolitics website to find a broad mix of stories related to the political noise of the day. Who knew that four years later the site would still be my most valued source on national issues at a time when hot sites become relics within weeks?

I found two pieces today that offer reasoned (a rare adjective these days) discussion on what Romney said. And to be clear, I believe what Romney described as “not elegantly stated” should more accurately be described as “as wrong calling a cat a fascist.” That is, the 47 percent he named, those who don’t pay income tax, are not all the “dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”

That said, it has opened a conversation about the fact that 47 percent don’t pay federal income taxes. And that’s where Debra Saunders is taking us when she says,

“…the result is an America in which close to half of voters can support any scheme designed to expand the scope of federal government, secure in the knowledge that they likely will not have to pay for it.”

On the flip side, it is worth discovering why there is 47 percent not paying federal income taxes. It’s not just because of the snoozy economy. Steve Chapman, in an editorial that is (I’m warning you now.) highly critical of Romney and his statement, (The title, “Romney’s Dependancy Delusion” is a clue.) explains it this way, among others:

“Since 1990, the number of people getting Social Security benefits has risen by more than a third. That’s not because the government has suddenly enlarged the program in an effort to undermine self-reliance. It’s because there are more old people.”

RCP also links a Washington Post blog post by Aaron Blake, who says the gaffe probably won’t matter in November.

Which reminds me, the Atlantic Monthly has a graph showing historical evidence that Romney’s comment will have little impact on the election’s ultimate outcome.


POTUS pool report ends on a sexy note

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

When there is limited press availability for certain events we resort to pool reports. It’s one occasion where competing news organizations cooperate with each other. One reporter gets assigned to cover the event and share notes with other press outlets. I loved the one we got from Thursday’s visit by President Obama. Read it and afterward I’ll share some other stuff about pool reports. Today’s report comes from Jim Brunner of the Seattle Times.

At Seattle’s Paramount Theatre, Pres. was introduced by Suzanne Black, a biology teacher at Inglemoor High School in Kenmore.

Ms. Black related how she was diagnosed in Mar. 2005 with stage 4 ovarian cancer. “Instead of writing tests or grading them I found myself facing one of the toughest of my life,” she said. After a long stint of chemotherapy she got a letter from insurer saying she’d already used about three fourths of her $1m lifetime cap of insurance benefits.

Three weeks later Obama signed the health care law, ending those caps. “So today I realized my dream of being able to say to someone who truly represents us — or as my students would say — someone who has my back President Obama – thank you.”

The President entered to a standing ovation and lengthy applause from the crowd of 2000. He called Black’s story the kind of thing you “don’t read in newspapers.” He recognized most of the Democratic electeds on hand, including “soon to be Governor Jay Inslee.”

Like in his earlier speech, the president did not lead with gay marriage – he spoke mostly of the economy and the contrast between him and Republican Mitt Romney.

Pres. introduced Romney as “a patriotic American” who has raised a “wonderful family.” POTUS said Romney should “be proud of the success he’s had as CEO of a large financial firm” — drawing snickers from the crowd. But, POTUS said, Romney assumes that when CEOs get rich “the rest of us automatically do too.”

POTUS mocked Republicans as offering nothing new “There is nothing you’ve heard from them where you said ‘man, I didn’t think of that – that’s fresh, that’s new.”

Sticking to a theme of “moving forward,” POTUS contrasted his plans to spend money on infrastructure and education with the Republicans, who he said would rather just give tax cuts to the rich.

Finally, more than 22 minutes into the speech, POTUS got to the reddest (locally raised, grass fed) meat for the liberal crowd, declaring he would not “go backwards” on health care reform and abortion rights.

And he directly endorsed Washington’s gay marriage law, taking sides in the likely Nov vote on Ref 74. Pres. told the crowd: “We are moving forward to a country where every American is treated with dignity and respect, and here in Washington you’ll have the chance to make your voice heard on the issue of making sure that everybody, regardless of sexual orientation, is treated fairly.”

Much applause ensued.

After the half-hour speech, POTUS and motorcade zipped back south on I-5 to Boeing Field, and Air Force One lifted off just after 4 p.m. for California and the fundraiser at George Clooney’s house. I am told he is an actor who is sexy.

If you’re like me, it’s the ending that got me the most. I also liked the parenthetical comment within “red meat.”

Being with the Kitsap Sun, one of the smaller press outlets in the Puget Sound region, I’ve pretty much accepted that I probably won’t be invited to be the pool reporter at something like what we had today, a sitting U.S. President campaigning or visiting the area. If he comes to Bremerton it might be different, but as much as I’d love to do it, I’m not getting the nod for anything in Seattle. We do sometimes fight for that role when there is a particular local angle, but this occasion was not one of those.

I did get an invite to go see Air Force One land and take off. I would have loved to have done that. But it would have been the equivalent of journalism tourism. I saw the plane anyway. I saw a Tweet that the plan was taxiing at Boeing so I went outside and noticed there was no air traffic. Then a single jumbo airliner rose in the sky. I could tell it was white. I couldn’t quite make out the light blue, but I think I saw it. It made a turn and looked like it was going to Clooney’s house.

And not long after that I started seeing lots of airplanes. So I’m pretty sure I saw the president fly by and I didn’t have to endure the hassle of a Secret Service security check.


The GOP convention could actually matter

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

National political conventions haven’t mattered since 1980, when the Democrats fought over rules about whether delegates should be locked in. Even then, the outcome seemed pretty certain, as it has in every convention since then and for quite a while before.

That could change this year, according to a piece written by Michael Medved in The Daily Beast. In the column, Republicans, Dissatisfied with Their Presidential Field, Dream of Deadlock, Medved contends there is a slight chance the GOP nominee might not be picked until the actual convention. Among the reasons is the lack of a true “Super Tuesday” this year and fewer states operating with a winner-take-all formula.

Of all the things Medved says, this to me is the most true:

This outcome appeals to all media outlets (which would relish the high drama and corresponding high ratings) as well as party organizers who would welcome the engagement of the grass roots in a fiercely competitive race and a visibly open convention.

I salivate at the prospect of a convention that matters. I asked my company to send me to both conventions in 2008, even offering to take a bus and find homes to crash in. The response from my bosses was that conventions are scripted infomercials. They were right. I don’t plan on repeating the request this year, but I’ll enjoy the festivities much more.

Where I disagree with the headline is that this is happening because Republicans are dissatisfied. While true that there probably is a lack of enthusiasm for any candidate other than Ron Paul, if party members were generally excited about more than one candidate the same scenario could exist. The truth is no one has managed to pull away. (Again, like I’ve said before, that’s an interesting expectation to have when there hasn’t been even a single caucus or primary.) The point is that the race is even enough that this next year offers the most promise we’ve seen in years that a primary process might not deliver a clear winner.


My name is Mitt Romney. I’m a candidate for president, and I’m a Mormon.

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

In 1972 Wayne Owens, a Democrat, got himself elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Utah. He was considered one to watch nationally, but got a little ahead of himself and ran for Senate in 1974, losing to Jake Garn. Owens eventually made it back to Congress more than a decade later.

Owens was an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment. He was also a Mormon. The LDS church came out against the ERA, which Owens said surprised him. He continued, nonetheless, to support the amendment while the church moved forces against it.

In 1975, after Owens lost his Senate race, LDS church leaders asked him to serve as mission president in Montreal.

That position, mission president, meant he oversaw the work of about 200 missionaries trying to convert people to Mormonism. So Owens, an Equal Rights Amendment supporter, was asked by a steadfast Equal Rights Amendment opponent organization, to lead that organization’s recruitment efforts in the Montreal area.

I bring this up because of two developments. One is Texas Baptist Robert Jeffress’ decision to publicly back Rick Perry for president, because he is a Christian the way Jeffress is a Christian, That to Jeffress’ mind makes Perry a more suitable president, because he believes Romney shouldn’t be president, because he is Mormon, and therefore not a Christian, but a member of a cult. Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll made a similar case this week just on the cult question. I’ll get to the cult discussion below.

Jeffress later claimed he got a call from a woman who is the daughter of a former Mormon Bishop who agreed that Mormonism is a cult.

I have a hunch who that woman is. My guess is it was Tricia Erickson. She wrote a book, “Can Mitt Romney Serve Two Masters?” She sent out an email after Jeffress’ statement, not claiming to be that woman, but with a headline, “Mormon Bishop’s Daughter Agrees with Jeffress, Mitt Romney Belongs To A Cult.”

Full disclosure: I am a practicing Mormon. This discussion comes at an interesting time for me, personally, but that is a separate issue for a different forum. I served a mission for the church in Chile and married my wife in the Salt Lake City LDS temple.

Erickson, in her book and frequent emails, makes arguments against Romney’s bona fides as a conservative. I won’t discuss those here. I would argue it’s fair to ask any Mormon candidate his or her stance on marriage rights for homosexuals, civil rights for blacks and women and, if it interests you, on polygamy.

Another issue Erickson raises could give non-Mormon people pause in considering Romney. It is her assertion that comes from language that is part of the LDS temple ceremony, language Erickson believes means if LDS President Thomas S. Monson called Romney on the phone and told him to run the country in a certain way, that Romney would have to do it.

In the press release she quoted the temple language and followed it with ” . . . Mitt Romney absolutely must obey the religion of Mormonism and the Prophets of the Mormon Church first, before his allegiance to our country. His very eternal exaltation to godhood depends on it.”

If history could show evidence that this has ever happened, anyone would be justified in doubting whether a Mormon should be elected to anything, unless you’re OK with someone taking orders from Salt Lake City. I don’t know of any instance that it happened, not in recent history. In fact, I’ve given you the example of Wayne Owens, chosen to be a mouthpiece for the church in a region even though he disagreed with the church’s reasoning on a pretty significant issue of that day.

I became a member of the church in 1973 when I was 11 years old. Over the years I have heard members of the church question how someone could be an active, temple-going member of the church and still support some political ideas. But I have never heard that from church headquarters.

The church’s official statement on this is:

“Elected officials who are Latter-day Saints make their own decisions and may not necessarily be in agreement with one another or even with a publicly stated Church position. While the Church may communicate its views to them, as it may to any other elected official, it recognizes that these officials still must make their own choices based on their best judgment and with consideration of the constituencies whom they were elected to represent.”

Example number two: In 1933 Utah was among the final three states to ratify the 21st Amendment, repealing Prohibition, despite the protests of LDS President Heber J. Grant.

On the cult question, Jeffress and Driscoll make the case that under one religious definition of “cult,” Mormonism is one. They say that because Mormonism differs with “Orthodox” Christianity, it is a cult. They are both using a religious definition of “cult,” which is not the same as what Driscoll calls the “popular sensationalist” definition of cult.

Fine. You can call Mormonism a “cult,” then. To me, that seems to be the point. They want to call it a cult, so they find a way to do it. Driscoll calls what Mormons teach “Whacky,” (sic) as if the LDS definitions of God, Christ’s resurrection, or the nature of Heaven are any more wacky than traditional Christianity. Both teach that Jesus rose from the dead and that it is through Jesus that people will be accepted into Heaven. I’m not sure how one is wackier than the other.

When I hear “cult,” though, I think Jim Jones and David Koresh, the popular sensationalist definition. Whatever the LDS church may have been in its early years, it’s not Jones or Koresh now. I am assuming most people hear the word “cult” and think the same thing I do. As it is there are many critics of the LDS faith who make the case that the church’s practice come awfully close to that definition.

But for Jeffress and Driscoll to argue that Mormonism is a cult under a particular, narrow, less-often used definition is like arguing a poodle locked in a closed car in the summer is a hot dog. It’s technically true, perhaps, but is highly misleading.


Welcome to the 2012 presidential campaign.

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

This week I got a thrill down my leg watching the CNN/Tea Party Express Republican presidential candidate debate. I only watched the first hour, which means I missed some of the more interesting moments. Nonetheless, I got a charge I hadn’t expected. I really thought that after 2008 and 2010 I was still pretty exhausted by presidential elections.

Not so, it turns out. The season keeps getting earlier and earlier so the process does run the risk of running out of gas even before Iowa. If enough candidates dropped out based on polling numbers, we could have all but one candidate from each party out of the running by January, with primaries and caucuses being nothing more than wastes of your campaign donations.

Still, I enjoyed Monday’s debate, and it got me excited for 2012. Someday I’ll admit regretting that statement, but for now I’m still psyched.

If nothing else, it gives us a chance to laugh at things like this:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 1776 – Ye Cobblestone Road to the White House – Tough Tea Party Crowd
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

Cain, Romney, Daniels top WAGOP straw poll

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Washington State Republicans, meeting in a fundraiser Friday in Bellevue, took part in a pop straw poll of who they want for president in 2012. Consider it a snapshot in time, where local party leaders are today about a potential challenger to unseat President Barack Obama.

The names on the list were alphabetical, but didn’t come in that way. Kirby Wilbur, state Republican Party chairman, said the results show there is no clear front runner. I welcome your thoughts as to A. Who would be best able to beat Obama? and B. Who do you think Republicans will eventually nominate?

Herman Cain 54 – 15.13%
Mitt Romney 52 – 14.57%
Mitch Daniels 51 – 14.29%
Chris Christie 39 – 10.92%
Tim Pawlenty 28 – 7.84%
Paul Ryan 22 – 6.16%
Newt Gingrich 14 – 3.92%
Rudy Giuliani 12 – 3.36%
Mike Huckabee 14 – 3.92%
Ron Paul 10 – 2.80%
Donald Trump 10 – 2.80%
Michele Bachmann 9 – 2.52%
Jeb Bush 8 – 2.24%
Sarah Palin 8 – 2.24%
Rick Santorum 7 1.96%
Bobby Jindal 6 – 1.68%
Jon Huntsman 4 – 1.12%
Other 9 – 2.52%


Barack Obama was born on the grassy knoll

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

I wish New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would have been the one people had suspicions about when it came to his birth. I wish that because Christie could get away with telling people to do something physically with themselves that I’m pretty sure is anatomically impossible.

Instead, it’s Obama, a man who probably would be scolded for telling people to kiss his tuckus, which is probably what he should have said all along. Anyone who wasn’t convinced by the first birth document that has been available for everyone to see for going on three years probably wasn’t going to buy the latest (or earliest) document. So why bother releasing the original?

Read this. If you don’t want to, the birther movement benefits Obama, especially if he can lump all his critics in with those seen as loonies. He can make jokes at fundraisers and seem the victim of some real wackiness the media wouldn’t ignore.

Obama to birthers: “Thank you.”

Either that or he really was just tired of it.

I have to admit some affection for birthers. If my mom were alive I would halfway suspect that she would be one. Her mother was convinced JFK was not killed in Dallas that day. She got her information from a guy on a bus. She could argue about a lot of things, but she was particularly convinced about that one. My mom defended Nixon beyond reason. Sure, you can believe a lot about the guy that would make him less crooked than he was judged to be, but at some point you have to admit he did something wrong.

The Washington Post story linked in the second paragraph is interesting, because it again makes the point that when we’re emotionally invested in something we are inclined to hold fast to it even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Conspiracy theories have the self-sustaining gift of ramification: They sprout new tendrils, like a mad vine that has invaded from another continent. For the committed conspiracy theorist, there is always another angle to explore, another anomaly to scrutinize.

Heaven knows I have been emotionally attached to things that were hard to defend. New Coke is one I remember.


No presidential primary in 2012

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Sam Reed’s office sent this:

Washington lawmakers have approved a plan sponsored by Secretary of State Sam Reed and Gov. Chris Gregoire to suspend the 2012 presidential primary , to save over $10 million.

The state will use the Iowa-style precinct caucus-convention process as the fallback system, and will return to conducting the more broadly based presidential primary in 2016.

The House voted 69-28 on Tuesday in support of the Senate-passed plan, SB5119, which was forwarded to the Governor for her signature. The Senate vote earlier in April was 34-15. A number of lawmakers on both sides of the vote said they vastly favor the primary over the old caucus system that draws many fewer participants and excludes overseas voters, including the military, and house-bound people or those who are working during caucus time.

(more…)


Legislators Want Sheldon to Lose a Job

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Democrats looking to rid themselves of state Sen. Tim Sheldon, “D”-Potlatch, have introduced a new tack.

The Seattle Times’ Jim Brunner has the story.

Legislators, including sponsor of the rumored House version of Senate Bill 6588 state Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, want elected people to pick one elected office and not hold on to another that pays more than $500. Sheldon is also a Mason County commissioner. If they upped that minimum to $751 it would exempt a Republican who’s on a city council. Otherwise you’ve got a Republican and a Democrat who seems to be the only one happy he calls himself one.

Sheldon is up for re-election for his Senate seat, assuming he runs. One Republican, Daniel Griffin of Allyn, has signed up with the Public Disclosure Commission to run against Sheldon as a Republican.

If you read the story, read it to the end.


Majority of GOP Voters Think Obama Stole 2008 Election

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Joel Connelly at Seattlepi.com writes about it.

Here is the Public Policy Polling site, which shows that 52 percent of Republican voters and 26 percent of the overall voting public think Barack Obama won the election because ACORN stole it from John McCain.

The Gallup archives show this poll from November 2001. The survey points out that election counting was perceived as less of a problem than it had been earlier in the year, but much of that was because the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001 had happened. However, it’s worth noting that the public’s perception of what happened in the 2000 election hadn’t changed much, even after the attacks. From the 2000 Gallup report:


Despite their changed view about the seriousness of the election controversy and the need for change in the electoral system, Americans have not changed their minds about what happened in the election and its aftermath. The poll shows that today 50% of Americans say Bush won the presidency fair and square, while 32% say he won it on a technicality, and 15% say he stole the election. These numbers are little changed from those found immediately after the Supreme Court decision in December that effectively halted the vote recount and made Bush the winner. At that time, 48% said Bush won fair and square, 32% said he won on a technicality, and 18% said he stole the election. These results are also remarkably similar to those obtained in a Gallup poll this past July.

A separate poll taken a little more than a month after the 2000 election shows that 31 percent of Democrats thought Bush stole the election.

What say ye? Does anyone here think ACORN stole the election for Obama?


Palin: Press Piranhas and Horsepucky

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

During July, and October, I’ll be working the weekends, which means I’ll be off on Thursdays and Fridays, unless I sneak in a day off somewhere else. Postings here might be kind of light in the interim. Or, you might come back Monday and find your inbox full of stuff I’ve posted over the weekend. It depends on how busy the naughty people are.

Last week’s post about Sarah Palin generated a lot of comments. That surprised me, a little. I wasn’t going for the hits, but the hits came. If only I could have found a way to write about Michael Jackson. I thought the memorial service was really well done. Ka-ching!

Back to Sarah Palin, I was referred to a point and a counterpoint on the issue of whether she was treated fairly by the media. The point that she wasn’t was offered by Carl Cannon at Politics Daily.

Sarah Palin’s rambling abdication speech was hard to follow, let alone acclaim, but in her abrupt announcement that she is withdrawing from public office, the Republican governor of Alaska was hardly the only player in a 10-month drama who demonstrated a lack of self-awareness. Democrats scoffed at her “politics of personal destruction” line, but it’s a maxim they originally popularized, and one they will undoubtedly trot out again the next time it happens to one of their own. But the true villains in this political morality play may have been the press.

Jeffrey Weiss offers a counterpoint at the same site.

In baseball, a new player’s batting average will shift with every at-bat. For someone who has been in the lineup for a while, not so much. So too in the campaign: When Biden repeatedly misspoke — as had been widely predicted — the media and the public had a long context in which to place the bobbles of the day. With Palin, what she said was pretty much what we — journalists and voters — had to go on.


Electoral College on the Road to Irrelevance

Friday, April 17th, 2009

That headline might ultimately be dead wrong, but it is the intent of the Legislature. Perhaps the current method of electing presidents will survive this movement.

On Wednesday the state House of Representatives voted 52-42 to have Washington join a compact with other states on a measure that would essentially make the electoral college nothing more than a symbol. The Senate approved the bill 28-21 in March. I was going to write that the “yea” votes have come mostly from Democrats. But then I wondered if they all came from Democrats. I’m moving on to other things. Anyone else here is invited to check to see if any Republicans in either chamber voted for this.

On three occasions the popular vote winner of the presidential election ended up losing the electoral college vote. The move approved this week would become effective once enough states representing 270 electoral votes, the number of electoral college votes needed to win a presidential election, also join the pact.

With Washington joining Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois and Hawaii, that’s 61 electoral votes so far. Other states have at least considered the move, as Washington did in Legislatures past.

Brad Shannon at the Olympian writes that the governor is expected to sign the bill.

Here’s how your electeds voted:

23 Rep. Sherry Appleton, (D-Poulsbo) Y
23 Rep. Christine Rolfes, (D-Bainbridge Island) Y
23 Sen. Phil Rockefeller (D-Bainbridge Island) Y
26 Rep. Jan Angel, (R) N
26 Rep. Larry Seaquist, (D-Gig Harbor) Y
26 Sen. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor) Y
35 Rep. Fred Finn, (D) Y
35 Rep. Kathy Haigh, (D-Shelton) Y
35 Sen. Tim Sheldon (D-Potlatch) N


Community Organizer in Chief Calls on Locals

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

On Tuesday night five people met in a Washington State University classroom to discuss the federal government’s economic stimulus push, but perhaps more tellingly what they can do to help people stung by the current economy.

“It’s not just what we want, it’s where it’s going to do the most good,” said Ginny Duff, who organized the event after answering the call made by the president’s people. It was one of two that we know of in Kitsap County this week. The other was on Bainbridge Island Monday.

Ideas discussed included community and personal gardening, doing small things like taking a neighbor with you when you shop for groceries, bartering, healthcare, or waiting as long as possible to take unemployment to make sure the system doesn’t dry up.

During the 24 hour blitz in February, when Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain touched down in Washington prior to the caucuses, the one thing that distinguished Obama supporters from the others was who they talked about. Clinton’s supporters talked about her. Obama supporters talked about themselves. They talked about what they would do, not so much about him but about what he motivated them to undertake.

More of Steven Gardner’s Clips

Tuesday’s meeting, though only attended by four, could be a small representation of that.

The event did have some hints of partisanship. Duff criticized Republicans for going against the economic stimulus package. Adam Brockus, Bremerton city councilman made a jab at Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, without naming her. She has been critical of what Congress and Obama are doing with the current proposals on the table. “Why don’t you say again, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’” referring to her account of the Bridge to Nowhere.

But Tuesday’s meeting also had signs of not fitting the traditional stereotypes of what liberals would like. When discussing foreclosure assistance, the group seemed to favor some relief in the form mortgage renegotiation. But the group had little sympathy for those who bought well more than they could afford. “It’s called a reality check,” said Eileen Dye of Bremerton.

The ideas will be sent to the president. It’s part of the broader community organizing Obama hopes to carry from his day with that title to the one he has now.

There was some question about whether the snow might deter attendance. There were logistical problems. Duff had a PowerPoint presentation including a video by Va. Gov. Tim Kaine answering economic recovery questions prepared, but the equipment wasn’t available to present it. So the group talked and wrote down concerns and questions, which will be sent to the president.

To see the video by Kaine, go to the video attached here.


Inaugural Photos, Now with Music

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

We shared most of the photos sent to us from the inauguration from Kitsap residents Jerome Evans, Zachary Malloy, Patricia Graf-Hoke and Cherry Rachal, but now you get to listen to a snappy jazz tune while you watch them again.


Cheese in Context from the Inauguration

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Inauguration Crowd – Like Ants From Space

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Reporter Chris Henry here:

Technology was a big player in yesterday’s inauguration of Barack Obama. Besides television coverage (how 20th Century) Americans could track the event through Facebook, Twitter and of course Web pages galore, including the O-fficial Inauguration site.

Thanks to satellite imagery, we had access to photos taken from space that make the masses of people gathered for the historic occasion look like swarms of ants. My favorite from the BBC (how un-American, sorry), shows the National Mall on Dec. 29, empty, and then on Inauguration Day, adrift in little tiny human beings.

Many Kitsap residents were part of the swarm. Thousands, like Bremerton residents Sam and Cherry Rachal, were unable to get to the spot on the mall for which they had tickets. The Rachals waited in line for three hours only to find the space had been filled hours earlier. Cherry Rachal said her disappointment gave way to excitement and joy at the sheer energy of so much humanity gathered in one spot for one purpose.

So just how many people were there? According to an article in the Los Angeles Times by a reporter at the inauguration, early estimates ranged as high as 2 million. But satellite images suggested there were maybe half that, according to Clark McPhail, a professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Illinois, who has been analyzing crowds on the National Mall since the 1960s.

Whether the Obama Inauguration crowd will top the estimated 1.2 million at Lyndon B. Johnson’s inauguration is yet to be determined. The National Park Service will provide an estimate later this week, the article states.

According to MSNBC, there actually is a method for calculating crowds:

“The method goes back to the late 1960s and a University of California at Berkeley journalism professor named Herbert Jacobs, whose office was in a tower that overlooked the plaza where students frequently gathered to protest the Vietnam War. The plaza was marked with regular grid lines, which allowed Jacobs to see how many grid squares were filled with students and how many students on average packed into each grid.

After gathering data on numerous demonstrations, Jacobs came up with some rules of thumb that still are used today by those serious about crowd estimation. A loose crowd, one where each person is an arm’s length from the body of his or her nearest neighbors, needs 10 square feet per person. A more tightly packed crowd fills 4.5 square feet per person. A truly scary mob of mosh-pit density would get about 2.5 square feet per person.

The trick, then, is to accurately measure the square feet in the total area occupied by the crowd and divide it by the appropriate figure, depending on assessment of crowd density. Thanks to aerial photos or mapping applications like Google Earth, even outdoor areas can be readily measured these days.”

Perhaps those of you who were there can describe the crowd you were in. Was it a “loose” crowd, tightly packed or mosh-pit density?


Photos from the Inauguration – Updated All Day

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Robert Boddie, a Bremerton resident, called me from the mall this morning at about 5:30 a.m. I didn’t answer the phone, but I checked the voicemail. He said:

“Just out here enjoying the festivities, healing some of these old wounds, talking to some of these old time people out here and this place is crowded. It’s cold.”

Here are some photos sent from locals of the events. We’ll continue to post more as we get them. Click on each photo to see a larger version.

<em>Patricia Graf-Hoke got this shot from the mall today.</em>

Patricia Graf-Hoke got this shot from the mall today.


(more…)

Truth Measured

Thursday, January 15th, 2009
<em>The St. Petersburg Times will measure Obama's promise keeping on its PolitiFact site.</em>

The St. Petersburg Times will measure Obama's promise keeping on its PolitiFact site.

During the 2008 election the St. Petersburg Times employed a Truth-O-Meter to give a quick look at candidate statements and whether they were true.

As a new president takes office next week, the paper is unveiling the same principle for a new application. The Obameter

Writes Bill Adair:

“PolitiFact is launching an unprecedented journalistic effort to track Obama’s campaign promises and measure the progress of his presidency. Using our new Obameter, we will track each promise — we’ve identified 510 of them — and rate whether it was kept, broken or compromised. Those ratings will be tallied on our Web site, creating an up-to-the-minute report card on the Obama White House.”

There’s a meter for all 510 promises made by Barack Obama in the campaign. Two have already been kept, three are in the works and 505 have seen no action. That’s understandable, since he’s not really president yet. PolitiFact is not expecting 100 percent compliance.

“An important point: When we say a promise is broken, that is not necessarily a negative thing or a failure by Obama. The failure to enact a promise might simply reflect that priorities of the Congress or the American people have changed since he made the promise. Or it could indicate that Obama decided there were higher priorities.”

Word is they’re going to make this into a widget. If so, I’ll see if we can get it added on our site.


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