Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The ends and the means?

First, congratulations to Jamie Pedersen, the virtually-elected new representative to the State House for the 43rd district. In the end, after months of wavering because the candidates seemed to have essentially the same stated opinions on the issues I am most concerned about (transportation, K-12 education, and LGBT rights), I supported Jamie because it is important that lgbt children see an out gay person at leadership positions in society.

I've been very loathe to post on here because there just hasn't been much good news. I'm tired of just complaining about everything. I know it's important to speak up, but it gets very tiring in face of how much absolutely ridiculous shit there is to put up with.

I knew that it would take something pretty awful to get me back to blogging... and today, I found it:

Vernon Robinson has to be the most hateful, unscrupulous, ruthless candidate I've ever seen. Of course, he's a Republican running to unseat the Democratic incumbent in North Carolina. For instance, watch this campaign ad he put on the air.

(a group of Colbert Report writers couldn't do a better job):
"These illegal aliens pay no taxes, but take our jobs and our government handouts, then spit in our face, and burn our flag. Well, Vernon Robinson has had enough!"

"Vernon Robinson is an Air Force Academy graduate who proudly served in uniform under the American flag, the flag Brad Miller voted to let illegal aliens burn and trample."
Robinson is also nationally known for mass-mailing flyers that criticized Brad Miller's opposition to a straight-marriage amendment and then insinuated that Miller is gay because he and his wife have no children. Well, Miller responded by pointing out that his wife had to have a hysterectomy when she was only 27.

A normal human being would probably retreat to lick his wounds after having his ass handed to him like Miller did to Robinson. But Robinson pressed on with this new campaign ad which is actually how I heard about the guy at all. You know that when the phrase "bisexual, transgendered, and two-spirited Aleutian Eskimos" is used in a 30-second campaign ad, more important issues are being ignored. In this ad, Robinson's campaign basically wrote spiced-up descriptions of National Institute of Health studies recently funded by the government. This "allowed" them to conclude, "Brad Miller pays for sex, but not for body armor for our troops."

The republic is broken when people are willing to do "whatever it takes" in order to win. There have to be some things that, even if they're technically legal, leaders agree are totally off-limits and dishonorable. Campaign ads like these are an insult to the ideals of democratic dialogue.

A guy I know commented recently on this blog. His comment took a lot out of my soul - it's a big reason why I stopped posting. You'll find the post and his comment here.

The part of his comment that just destroyed me is this:
"Is this solution perfect? No. Is it honest? Not really. Is it moral? Respectful to homosexuals? Healthy for our society? Probably not. What it is is doable, and for me that's good enough. *shrug* I'm a pragmatic guy. Worse, even. I'm a politician. I think sideways, comfortably using misdirection and lies to achieve (hopefully) noble ends. I believe that the court intentionally left an opening for us to go after, and if going after it brings us the results we want, I wouldn't feel right turning away from it. History will eventually smooth out the details."
This isn't "just politics." It's evil, and it's sinful, and it's immoral, and it's NOT DEMOCRATIC.

Democracy requires that each person live and demand life fully according to their highest ideals, not their lowest expectations. If we start to assume, right from the beginning of our dreams, that compromise is the best we can do, then nothing really will ever meaningfully change. I will not accept that there is a distinction between "being realistic" and "being idealistic." If this makes me a hypocrite, then I welcome the label. Better to be an idealistic hypocrite than a "realistic" accomplice to oppression.

A primer on Christian politics:
"But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?"
-Jesus Christ (Luke 6:27-32)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Preliminary Primary Elections Results

Ah, the good ol' election night results crawl - you get news, tiny tiny bits of news at a time. Even more difficult now given that there will be thousands of last minute absentee ballots to count yet, but unless those last minute absentee voters prove to be of a significantly different stock, the trends that are being reported tonight ought to give us a good feel for how things fare. You can get the best results directly from the Secretary of State's Primary Elections Results page. From there, you can break down the data in many, many, many different ways. I'll give you my quick and dirty synopsis tonight and hopefully something a bit more detailed once I have more information.

State Supreme Court, Pos. 2 - No Winner

Unless something drastic happens, Susan Owens and Stephen Johnson will be headed for the general election. Owens has about 45% of the vote to Johnson's 32%. Assuming the numbers for Richard Smith and Norman Ericson represent the random votes in this race and that Michael Johnson is the random vote plus those who confused him with the other Johnson (and this ought to be fair since none of the three campaigned in any way), Owens would have won outright without them in the race. If Owens encouraged them to run, as has been suggested (and strikes me as credible) she cost herself a primary victory and I think it's safe to assume millions will be poured into defeating her in November. But I get ahead of myself.

State Supreme Court, Pos. 2 - Gerry Alexander?

Gerry Alexander is currently leading by about 45,000 votes. Many of the unreported votes thus far are from King County, which is currently trending 70% - 30% towrard Alexander. Suspecting this race might be coming down along party lines, I compared the number of Democratic/Republican Ballots to the number of votes for Alexander/Groen by county. The correlation was surprisingly small (though exceptions, such as King County did exist). Take Adams County Republicans had more ballots than Democrats by a margin of 3:1, but Groen leads only by 58%-42%. Or take Cowlitz County where Democratic ballots outnumbered Republican ballots by 5:2, but Alexander leads only by 55%-45%. Indeed, considering the $1.5 million spent on Groen's behalf to the the $500,000 spent on Alexander's behalf, there are suprisingly few counties where Groen leads by more than 20% (exceptions being Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, and Stevens). Combine that with several counties resoundingly voting for Alexander (King, Thurston, San Juan, Mason, Lewis, and Jefferson) and you have the makings of a strong rebuke to those seeking to buy our State Supreme Court. Of course, this race is far from over.

State Supreme Court, Pos. 2 - Tom Chambers

Up 58.5% to Burrage's 41.5% (with a gap of 85,000 votes), Chambers appears poised to win this race and appear alone on the ballot in the General Election.

State Representative, Dist. 43 - Too Close to Call

Jamie Pedersen currently leads, but his lead has eroded significantly through the night with Jim Street making strong gains. This will be a precinct by precinct battle (at one point, 2 precincts were added with Pedersen receiving only FOUR votes to the roughly 400 of Stephanie Pure and hundreds to other candidates). Surprisingly Dick Kelley is holding steady toward the bottom of the pack. Unfortunately, we'll never know who the majority of voters wanted - the winner will be lucky to end up with 25-30% of the total vote since there are 6 strong candidates. Oh IRV, where art thou?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Vote Today!

At last (all of a sudden?) it's September 19th and time for the Washington State Primary. As I've mentioned before, this primary is critical, as at least two State Supreme Court justices will be decided as well as the 43rd District Representative.

State Supreme Court, Pos. 2 - Susan Owens

State Supreme Court, Pos. 8 - Gerry Alexander

State Supreme Court, Pos. 9 - Tom Chambers

United States Senate - Maria Cantwell

Washington State Representative, Dist. 43 - Jamie Pedersen

King County Prop. 1 - Yes

Polls are open from 7am until 8pm! Vote!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Judicial Elections and Hope in WA-04

Every day I become increasingly convinced that judges simply should not be elected. Think about it, when we vote for politicians (or, more to the point, when we vote *against* politicians) we do so to express an opinion on their performance (or that of their opponents). But neither of these should be the case for judges, particularly those on the State Supreme Court. Mere dissatisfaction with rulings shouldn't be sufficient - the courts exist to apply the law equitably (hopefully leading to a just outcome) regardless of the popularity of the given conclusion. Those decisions should NOT be influenced by public opinion on the subject.

Clearly there is a tension here. We want judges to be appointed through an apolitical process, but we must have checks on them, to ensure their rulings are within mainstream judicial philosophy. That said, popular elections seem to be about the worst available method of accomplishing that. Most voters are unfamiliar with the workings of the legal system, leaving them susceptible to gross distortions propagated through campaign materials, campaign materials which can be bought and paid for by groups seeking to improve their chances before the Court. The Legislature, at least, offers a venue that has a better understanding of the legal system than the general populace, but is still accountable to the public. Look for this change on the 12th of Never.


I also promised a bit of hope, and that comes from Washington's 4th Congressional District, where Doc Hastings (R) is facing a challenge from Richard Wright (D). Hastings has been a particularly notorious member of the Washington State delegation to the House of Representatives, receiving a 0% rating from NARAL, Pro-Choice America, a 0% rating from the American Civil Liberties Union, and (are you ready for this?) an astounding 0% rating from the League of Conservation Voters. Yes, this plays quite well to his constituency in central and southern Washington State, but a recent internal poll from the Wright campaign suggests that Hasting's support from the district is very weak. If you can, consider contributing to Wright's election bid and help them get the word out.

Good heavens, Dems have a shot at taking down Hastings? The end is nigh...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

On Judicial Elections

Or, more specifically, on this year's elections for the Washington Supreme Court. As I posted previously, Chief Justice Gerry Alexander and Justice Susan Owens, two well-qualified justices, are facing challenges from candidates bought and paid for by the conservative Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW), a group which often argues cases before the state Washington Supreme Court. (More about the BIAW and its aims here). Additionally, Justice Tom Chambers is facing a run by a dangerously unqualified candidate.

A useful starting point here is the website votingforjudges.org, "...a nonpartisan nonpartisan source of judicial evaluation information...." The site includes ratings by the King County Bar Association, the Municipal League of King County, and several others. It also includes campaign contributions and expenditures, with links to state documents detailing where the larger donations (over $1,000) came from. Here are the three Supreme Court races.

Gerry Alexander

Chief Justice Gerry Alexander has a clean sweep of newspaper endorsements from across the State of Washington. The King County Bar Association (KCBA) and the Municipal League of King County (MLKC) both rate Alexander highly and significiantly above his opponent. His opponent, more than any other candidate has benefited from the BIAW and its right-wing ilk and that money is being turned into a publicity blitz, including flyers, lawn signs, and even a plane carrying his name on a banner over the city of Seattle. Additionally, paid campaign workers have been knocking on doors on the east side of the state and the BIAW has taken out radio and television ads against Alexander. Call me old fashioned, but I'm not terribly comfortable with a system that elects its judge based on a 30-second tv spot or whose name you saw on the back of an airplane. Gerry Alexander is clearly the superior candidate for this position - Vote Gerry Alexander.

Tom Chambers

Re-electing Tom Chambers is another slam dunk. Both the KCBA and the MLKC rated his opponent "Not Qualified" while giving Chambers solid marks. Fortunately, this is one race where the more qualified candidate has the upper hand financially (due to the poor fundraising efforts of his opponent). Vote Tom Chambers.

Susan Owens

Finally, there is Susan Owens. Justice Owens faces a challenge from an individual with decent qualifications. The KCBA rated her opponent slightly more qualified while the MLKC rated Owens significantly more qualified. What this race comes down to, then, is that Owens's opponent, like Alexander's opponent, has been bought and paid for by industry - by the very individuals who will be arguing cases before the court. Money is a corrupting influence, which is paticularly offensive in the Judiciary - that branch we expect to be free from any corrupting bias. Owens has proven herself a competent, fair-minded jurist. Vote Susan Owens.

Monday, September 04, 2006

2006 Primary Elections Crib Sheet

Below is a list of candidates deserving of your support in the primary election. Those which are marked by an asterisk (*) WILL BE DECIDED IN THE PRIMARY ELECTION! The other Supreme Court race may well be decided in the primary election if one candidate receives over 50% of the votes. It is imperative that you vote in the primary, as these are some of the most important races of the year. Some races are specific to certain locations, others are statewide. All are for the Democratic primary.

State Supreme Court, Pos. 2

Susan Owens - See below

State Supreme Court, Pos. 8 *

Gerry Alexander - See below

State Supreme Court, Pos. 9 *

Tom Chambers - See below

United States Senate

Maria Cantwell

United States Representative, Dist. 4

Richard Wright

United States Representative, Dist. 7 - More information

Jim McDermott

Washington State Senate, Dist. 35

Kyle Taylor Lucas - More information

Washington State Representative, Dist. 43 *

Jamie Pedersen


On Supreme Court Election

I will post more thoroughly on each of these races in the coming days, but never have I seen an easier choice in an election, nor one so vital. As I previously posted, certain right-wing organizations, led by the BIAW, are trying to buy the State Supreme Court. The last thing we need are unqualified, ideologically-driven Supreme Court justices. Additionally, at least two (but possibly all three) races WILL be decided in the primary!

Vote Gerry Alexander, Tom Chambers, and Susan Owens for Washington State Supreme Court!