Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sarah Chayes in Afghanistan

In a WaPo op-ed she talks about how we get out of Afghanistan with our hides and with a viable country left behind. The solution is to fix the Afghan government. Right now the people have a choice between working with an inept, corrupt government and being targeted by the Taliban, or working with the Taliban. It's a loser's choice. In addition to troops we need to send a senior, experienced Peace Corps of folks who know how to make local governments work under the rule of law. We need to help Afghans reform their government so it has proper checks and balances to root out and inhibit corruption.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Kennewick City Council Member

And the empty seat goes to...(here's where I get to scoop the venerable John Trumbo of the TCH)...Steve Young.

It was a unanimous choice by the council. And I wasn't surprised a bit. Based on the interviews his was clearly the strongest. He gave solid answers to questions on which other candidates tended to just fuzz out. On leadership he talked about the proper and disciplined exercise of influence. On handling strong disagreements he didn't invoke complicated mediation processes. He simply said that disagreements end when the vote is taken. He also showed a good appreciation for the work the city does without placing a large tax burden on its citizens. This says that though he leans Republican, he isn't in favoring of cutting and gutting good government.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Indictments

On the Rachel Maddow show Karl Levin calls for a commission to determine what war crime indictments can be leveled onto members of the Bush administration. Dick Cheney will probably top the list since he is on record as authorizing torture of detainees.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Kennewick City Council Applicants

For the good of the order here are the party points associated with the 9 applicants to the vacated seat of Jim Beaver.

Steve Young, Leans Republican
Ramona Vallee, Unknown
Kurt Workman, Democrat
Richard Fehr, Leans Republican
Victor R. Morris, Strong Republican
Loren D. Nichols, Unknown
Kathleen L. Knowles, Leans Republican
Guy Bishop, Independent
Robert Spaulding, Independent

Update: Council Interview session is December 18.
Update 2: Kurt informs us that he is a Democrat. Thanks Kurt.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Low Hanging Fruit

This seems like the perfect climate for the small bankers who really have more than a statistical knowledge of their potential clientele to take customers away from the big banks that have been eating their lunch in the recent past. Offer loans to the small businesses that are caught in the credit lock. Both parties benefit and the recovery begins at a microscopic level. I've watched competition push gasoline prices to unimaginable lows. There's no reason why some savvy bankers can't cherry pick a few customers and make some real scratch out of the situation. There's no reason for the whole banking industry be all herd animals.

Update: I raised this question to a bank executive I met at a recent soiree. His response was that the government was indeed giving his independent bank money so but it was required to buy troubled banks with it. What he would rather be doing is just taking the troubled banks customers.

Monday, December 08, 2008

"No Drama" Before "No Drama" Was Cool

Al Giordano makes the case for Caroline Kennedy:
"Paterson and New York, thus, would not just be getting a Senator. They would get, with Caroline, the driver with the keys to the most finely tuned and influential progressive national political network in American politics, reaching (in many cases invisibly) into levers of power in all branches of government and in many states far from Massachusetts, including among the networks planted by the Southern Civil Rights movement and among Hispanic-American political leaders and organizations from Texas to California for whom 'Tio Ted' has been mentor and unflinching ally. (The Kennedys have long been central to the push for multi-racial movements in US politics, one that just became realized with Obama's election as never before: that will also serve Attorney Kennedy and so many of her constituents well in New York.)"

Monday, December 01, 2008

Nuclear engines of job creation

Dan Yurman points out that the government can generate permanent, high-paying and non-exportable jobs by simply providing loan guarantees for the construction of new nuclear power plants.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A new source of power

A new technology that generates power with heretofore unusable slow hydraulic currents shows promise.

Ending Whaling

A sad way to bring an end to whaling is to make the whales too toxic to eat. Research on the Faroe islanders has shown that the practice of eating whales is slowly poisoning them.

Jeff the Trucker

Peter Dreier publishes the details on the Oak Harbor trucking strike. It would seem that the company's only interest is in breaking the union rather than bargaining in good faith.

Krugman: What to Do

Here's a well-reasoned way out of this mess we are in.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tri-Cities is Hot Spot for Republicans

The Other Side notes that the Tri-Cities have become a major stronghold for Republicans. Fellow Tri-City liberals, the gauntlet has been thrown down before you. The task ahead of us is demanding. But if we can change hearts and minds here, we can change them anywhere. Hoo-ah!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tough Love for Detroit

This is something that should satisfy those critical of too many free bailouts. Any company that comes, hat in hand, for government assistance should be expected to pay a price for that. On Detroit, Laurie David has this:
If Detroit needs more taxpayer bailouts to survive, we ought to demand some serious and real concessions in return, starting with an immediate cease-and-desist order for Detroit to drop its lawsuits against California, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Mexico and any other state that passes clean cars legislation requiring more efficient, less polluting vehicles. Enough already, Detroit. Stop fighting and start building clean cars now.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Modest Proposal

As a species we are victims of our own success ecologically. Everywhere that humans exist we disrupt the natural balance. And because we are intelligent we are able to take counter-measures to natural consequences that would tend to restore that balance thereby exacerbating that disruption. At some point we need to strike that balance in our own actions so that human life on this planet is both productive and sustainable. Until we reach that sublime level of self-control our only hope is to limit the impacts of our uncontrollable destructive behavior. Historically the warlike nature of mankind has tended to be an ecological blessing. Every so often human populations would undergo convulsions that resulted in massive attrition. Then the ecosystems were given a respite in which to recover from the ravages of human settlement. In modern times we have thankfully been able to limit those convulsions for the most part. But the environment is not getting a break.

It is reasonable to see that the earth's environment will continue to deteriorate unless or until we are able to reign in the population growth and decrease our footprint on the landscape. To-date only the few countries in which population has reach crisis levels have taken any action to control the growth. If we wait for all countries to attain such crisis levels it will be too late for everyone and the human race and much of our planetary life-forms will be doomed. I think it is time that this be voiced as a political issue.

It's easy to see why it has been avoided. There are powerful political and economic forces that benefit from an ever-expanding population. It doesn't take much of a brain to see that anyone who promulgates the idea of population control will not ascend to the halls of power. But if we are to survive, it must be done. It is past time to begin discussing the idea and putting it before the populace as an option. Even if it is a most quixotic pursuit it must be done by someone.

I invite my readers to look up the works of Jacques Yves Cousteau, Ted Turner, Paul Ehrlich, Rosemary Radford Ruether, and Robert Muller and consider them. Perhaps it is not yet too late.

As I googled this subject it became apparent that many see any attempt to limit population as an elite left-wing conspiracy. I look forward to taking those ideas apart in this blog in the future.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Follow the Money

TVA see nuclear power as the cheaper alternative:
"In the past fiscal year, the restart of TVA’s oldest nuclear reactor at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant helped the utility save an estimated $800 million, TVA Chairman Bill Sansom said. The $1.8 billion restart of Browns Ferry Unit 1, originally forecast to pay for itself within eight years, should now end up paying for itself in 2 1/2 years because of the unexpected jump in the costs for other power generation.

“Nuclear power is still very cost-effective,” Mr. Sansom said earlier this year."

More Work to Do

Despite the pleasure at seeing Obama elected at the national level it appears to me that we have more work to do at the state and local level. The 4th CD will be poorly represented by the same lame republican. Governor Gregoire won but the quality of her record should have made the win more substantial. The Washington 8th LD's sole Democratic candidate is behind in the count against a single-issue, light-weight Republican. We couldn't even field a qualified opponent in the race for the other position in the 8th LD. But then neither could the Republicans as Rob Welch spent election night on suicide watch at the local mental health facility.

The work begins now to develop new candidates for the next cycle. Also beginning now is the work to expose the flaws of the heart of the Republican world view. After all, how can you expect people who think strong government is the problem to govern well or even competently?

Obama wins, period

As I listened to McCain's gracious and conciliatory concession speech I wondered where this John McCain had been. If he had used more of that kind of rhetoric on the campaign trail he would have been a more formidable opponent. It makes me wonder if he hadn't planned it this way all along. The negative campaigning, the choice of a running mate, are almost like a part of him wanted to take the dive. Being the good soldier that he is he may have been going through the motions as a duty to his party.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Obama wins Dixville Notch

From NYTimes:
"And in tiny Dixville Notch, N.H., which casts its ballots just after midnight, Mr. Obama won 15 votes to Mr. McCain’s 6. President Bush won the vote there in 2004."

Friday, October 31, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

'Cheshire Cat' Escape Strategy

The study of one of the most abundant unicellular eukaryotes seems to show that sex was invented to escape viral infections. In their normal haploid form-
Emiliania huxleyi produce mineral scales and form gigantic populations that are visible from space. But when attacked by marine viruses, they transform into haploid cells which only contain a single chromosome (N). These new, non-calcifying, highly motile cells are totally invisible to viruses (and undetectable on satellite photos) so that the species can live in peace to await safer times.
Primitive single-celled predecessors to the Earth's flora and fauna changed their form by separating their 2 chromosomes to become motile and to eliminate binding points used by invading viruses. When the viral onslaught abated they recombined into their normal two-chromosome form. The fact that the process accelerated genetic variations and precipitated evolution to more complex forms was just an unavoidable by-product.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hitchens on Palin

I really hate the fact that this once, just this once I agree with Christopher Hitchens. It makes me want to hack and spit.
"This is what the Republican Party has done to us this year: It has placed within reach of the Oval Office a woman who is a religious fanatic and a proud, boastful ignoramus. Those who despise science and learning are not anti-elitist. They are morally and intellectually slothful people who are secretly envious of the educated and the cultured. And those who prate of spiritual warfare and demons are not just 'people of faith' but theocratic bullies. On Nov. 4, anyone who cares for the Constitution has a clear duty to repudiate this wickedness and stupidity."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Whose wealth is it?

When Obama talks about spreading the wealth, the conservatives have such a narrow view that they assume wealth is a zero-sum game. The only way to spread it is to take it from someone that has it. When I hear "spreading the wealth", I think of all those hard-working people who have experienced stagnant wages in the Bush economy while rich folks reaped tax benefits based on money borrowed by the federal government. If the government is going to borrow money I think that money should go to programs that increase the earning power of as many people as possible. It would be a rising tide that lifts all the boats.

Friday, October 24, 2008

76 Flip-flops and Counting

Steve Benen weighs in on the particulars of how McCain has changed his positions in order to appease the right-wing and secure his candidacy to be president.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Afghanistan

After watching Lara Logan's segment on 60 minutes tonight I was reminded again of my concern back in 2001 when I heard that we were going in there. Afghanistan is an incredibly hard place to fight any sort of conventional war. The geography is a guerilla fighter's paradise with mountains so high and steep that any and everyone in the valleys are sitting ducks. The elevation is so high that helicopters must restrict their loads. The only time you can see your enemy is when he is shooting at you. The only warriors to best Alexander the Great were Afghans (after 4 years of fighting he made peace with the biggest warlord and moved on to India). Now we are fighting a war there with against well-equipped, motivate enemy. It is doomed to be a losing war unless we can get unfettered access to the havens in nominally Pakistani tribal areas. I say nominal because Pakistan doesn't really rule that part of the world either. The tribal areas are autonomous because no one has ever been able to successfully impose their will upon them. Not the Persians, not the Greeks, not the Hindus, not the Moguls, not the Russians.

Even if we get access to the Pakistani tribal areas it will be a hard slog that is costly in human lives. Despite all the rhetoric about accomplishing a final defeat of the Taliban, we have to understand what it may cost us.

It seems to me that the only way we can be truly successful is to somehow become the champion of the local people to the point where they prefer association with us to association with the Taliban. Given that American ideology differs so much from local traditions, that is a tall order.

What Went Wrong

A postmortem from the Washington Post of what mistakes were made and who made them.

Houston Chronicle endorses Obama

The Chronicle endorsement:
"After carefully observing the Democratic and Republican nominees in drawn-out primary struggles as well as in the general campaign, including three debates, the Chronicle strongly believes that the ticket of Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Biden offers the best choice to lead the United States on a new course into the second decade of the 21st century.

Obama appears to possess the tools to confront our myriad and daunting problems. He's thoughtful and analytical. He has met his opponents' attacks with calm and reasoned responses. Viewers of the debates saw a poised, well-prepared plausible president with well-articulated positions on the bread-and-butter issues that poll after poll indicate are the true concerns of voters. While Arizona Sen. John McCain and his running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin have struck an increasingly personal and negative tone in their speeches, Obama has continued to talk about issues of substance."

Colin Powell's Endorsement

I agree with Steve Benen's take.
"The timing couldn't be much worse for the McCain campaign. Hoping to generate some sense of momentum, McCain was nevertheless hit by a one-two punch this morning -- Obama demonstrated a stunning level of support with his $150 million fundraising haul, which was immediately followed by Colin Powell announcing his enthusiastic support for the Democratic nominee."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tire Swing Defined

Lily Shapiro explains the new phrase for this political season.
"In response I hereby coin the term 'Swinging on the Tire' to describe a reporter who has gotten way too cozy with a politician and has had their supposed objectivity affected.' Hence, our use of the term throughout this campaign season."

McCain's Economic Cluelessness

As further worrying evidence of McCain's economic ignorance he gives an interview to John Grizzi. It's clear he has no idea what actually caused the current crisis. He blames Fannie, Freddie, the CRA, and the national debt to China. Unregulated loans don't seem to even enter his mind.

How can anyone seriously believe that he would be the least bit helpful in office.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Gregoire deserves four more years

The Olympian endorses Gregoire.
Gregoire is a good negotiator, an innovator, a proven leader and a solid manager. She's a good governor but a terrible campaigner. She's bright, but her personality is not warm and charming. She's an efficient policy wonk running against a slick carnival hawker.

Gregoire is a woman of depth who has a commitment to solving problems with rational solutions and compromise. That makes her the superior candidate for governor. Rossi cannot match her vision, top-level management experience or commitment to public service. Re-elect Gov. Chris Gregoire on Nov. 4.

Baby-sitting the economy

In addition to the kind of work that has won him the Nobel Prize, Paul Krugman is my man because of how he can make sense out of the economy. A simple example can tell a great deal about what happens in the real world.

Congratulations, Paul.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Tao Berman has hat in the ring

This is interesting. A professional white-water kayaker is running for a legislative seat in the Washington 15th LD. There is an article about him in today's TriCity Herald but no link is available yet. I had the opportunity to meet Tao at a Democratic Party function earlier this year. He is new to the game but brings the same kind of intensity that he carries with him in his sporting career. He running against a fairly secure incumbent and he knows that his odds of winning are long. I hope it is a learning experience for him and that we will see more of him in the future.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The view from Alaska

Within the culture of Alaska, this writer points out that Sarah Palin-style Alaskans are a blight on their state. The Mat-Su valley epitomizes the strip-mall, oil-greed mentality that has come to the state in the wake of it's oil economy. These folks are an anathema to long-time Alaskan citizens.

More Right-wing talking points shown to be lies

It an article about who is really to blame for the mortgage meltdown, McClatchy newspapers point out that all those big-government programs that the right wing loves to vilify are not part of the problem. It was the unregulated private sector that created the problem. As more and more sub-prime loans were made Fannie and Freddie actually lost market share since so many of the loans did not meet the tougher standards under which they operate. Neither was the source of the problem the Community Reinvestment Act. Only commercial banks and thrifts are required to follow CRA rules. Instead it was an army of non-bank lenders that got into the mortgage business, especially the sub-prime business.

So we can't blame this meltdown on the existing governmental institutions. Rather we should rightly blame the forces in our government that failed to act to close a regulatory gap that these non-bank lenders exploited. Who are these slow-to-regulate forces?

Generally every de-regulation Republican should be excoriated for their part in today's mess.

A question for the Congressional candidate debates might be:
According to an article published by McClatchy newspapers on October 11 by David Goldstein and Kevin G. Hall entitled "Private sector loans, not Fannie or Freddie, triggered crisis" [ http://www.mcclatchydc.com/251/story/53802.html ] the cause of the mortgage meltdown was sub-prime loans made by an army of non-bank lenders who exploited a gap in our banking regulations.

Do you think that the supporters of the constant drumbeat for deregulation should share a major portion of the blame for the current financial crisis? As an incumbent, what have you done or failed to do to foster essential financial regulation? As a challenger, what would you do to close both the current gap with it's catastrophic consequences and potentially unrecognized gaps that may be future time-bombs?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Juicing up the ticket

Garrison Keillor has such a way with words.
Low dishonesty and craven cynicism sometimes win the day but not inevitably. The attempt to link Barack Obama to an old radical in his neighborhood has desperation and deceit written all over it. Meanwhile, stunning acts of heroism stand out, such as the fidelity of military lawyers assigned to defend detainees at Guantánamo Bay -- uniformed officers faithful to their lawyerly duty to offer a vigorous defense even though it means exposing the injustice of military justice that is rigged for conviction and the mendacity of a commander in chief who commits war crimes.
It was dishonest, cynical men who put forward a clueless young woman for national office, hoping to juice up the ticket, hoping she could skate through two months of chaperoned campaigning, but the truth emerges: The lady is talking freely about matters she has never thought about. The American people have an ear for B.S. They can tell when someone's mouth is moving and the clutch is not engaged. When she said, "One thing that Americans do at this time, also, though, is let's commit ourselves just every day, American people, Joe Six-Pack, hockey moms across the nation, I think we need to band together and say never again. Never will we be exploited and taken advantage of again by those who are managing our money and loaning us these dollars," people smelled gas.

Some Republicans adore her because they are pranksters at heart and love the consternation of grown-ups. The ne'er-do-well son of the old Republican family as president, the idea that you increase government revenue by cutting taxes, the idea that you cut social services and thereby drive the needy into the middle class, the idea that you overthrow a dictator with a show of force and achieve democracy at no cost to yourself -- one stink bomb after another, and now Gov. Palin.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Buffett stacks his nuclear deals

That master of the long view, Warren Buffett, has invested in a couple of nuclear power plays, GE-Hitachi and Areva-Constellation Energy.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hastings Votes Against the Economy

Here's his statement:
“I judged this bill on two primary grounds: what could the cost be to the taxpayers and is it good policy for the federal government to seize the financial markets in this way.

The final bill provides more taxpayer protections than the first proposal, yet it still potentially leaves taxpayers holding the $700 billion bag for the reckless actions of Wall Street and that is something I cannot support.

And on the question of increased government intervention in the marketplace, I am just plain opposed to such a massive intrusion into the economy and the marketplace.

As to the crisis about which we are warned, I hope it can be abated, though I do believe additional steps can be taken to allow for the infusion of new capital, instead of focusing solely on preventing a freeze of existing capital. I also believe an insurance-centered approach would allow for relief in a way that places the responsibility for paying on Wall Street and those being bailed out."

The 3 A.M. Call

More of Krugman's thoughts on what faces the next president. Who would you prefer to deal with the future financial fall-out of our current difficulties. A thoughtful, well-advised Obama or a self-confessed unknowledgeable, ill-advised, and erratic McCain?

Another voice against the bailout

Dean Baker invites the banks to pull the trigger on the gun they have pointed to their heads.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Is There Really a Crisis?

Perhaps it is all, as a friend of mine said yesterday, another hot, smelly pile from the people who have a history of successfully feeding Americans other hot, smelly piles.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Rot from Within

Robert Reich points out that whatever credit problems there are in the mortgage world are being exacerbated by other consumer credit problems. And these are caused by the long decline of jobs and wages.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Paul Krugman Make Sense...again

Paul warned about this coming problem for years. His prediction has been painfully borne out. So I think Paul Krugman's criticism of the bailout makes sense as well.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Road to Nowhere

Despite allegedly saying no to the bridge to nowhere. But Palin still went ahead with the road to the NOW NON-EXISTENT bridge to nowhere.

Makes You Wonder

From an email that's making the rounds:

I'm a little confused. Let me see if I have this straight.....


* If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're "exotic, different."

*Grow up in Alaska eating moose burgers, a quintessential American story.

* If your name is Barack you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.

* Name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, you're a maverick.

* Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.

* Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you're well grounded.

* If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.

* If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest ranking executive.

* If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.

* If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married heiress Cindy the next month, you're a Christian.

* If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.

* If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you're very responsible.

* If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America's.

* If you're husband is nicknamed "First Dude", with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.


OK, much clearer now.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Jay Inslee Endorses George Fearing

Congressman Jay Inslee endorses Candidate George Fearing
Inslee, a Champion of Alternative Energy and Hanford Clean-up, first elected to US House of Representatives from the 4th District

RICHLAND, WA: Central Washington's Congressional Candidate, George Fearing, received the formal endorsement of Congressman Jay Inslee (D-WA). Inslee defeated incumbent Republican Doc Hastings in 1992. Now representing the 1st District in the Puget Sound-area, Jay is championing an initiative in Congress called the New Apollo Energy Project that will marshal the resources of the federal government to support the development, manufacture, and deployment of new clean energy technologies in the United States.

"Voters in Central Washington have a great opportunity to change the direction of the region and the country. George has a lot of energy behind his effort, and it is clear that on a national scale people want to set aside ideology, and solve the problems we face," said Inslee, who received 22.6% in the 1992 Primary before winning the General Election with 50.8%. This year, Fearing took 35% of the Primary vote, which bodes well for the candidate as the Democratic General election outcomes reflect a 16% jump, averaged for 36 years, over the Primary result1.

George Fearing is a public interest attorney in the race in Central Washington's 4th Congressional District. Fearing received more Primary votes than any Democrat in the District's history. Hastings, a 14-year incumbent who pledged to serve only 6 terms when he signed the 'Contract With America' as a candidate in 1994, has received substantially fewer votes, placing him considerably behind gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi in the 4th District.

"We have missed opportunities to support alternative energy1," said Inslee. "It will be great to have a Representative who will work every day to create jobs by advancing alternative energy research, development and production. We need a Representative who will make the region energy independent while creating millions of new, high-wage American jobs in the clean energy industry. George Fearing will employ Central Washington's natural assets to make the region a leader in this burgeoning industry."

"Everywhere we go, citizens are talking about the need for a new energy future," said Fearing. "People want nuclear power, yet the incumbent has done nothing to advance this issue, which would create more than 20,000 jobs and secure our power supply. I am the first Democrat in Washington since Dixy Lee Ray to support the construction of nuclear power plants. The incumbent has not fought to obtain adequate funding for Hanford cleanup, preferring to let our US Senators do the work. People are angry that the incumbent has raised the national debt time and time again, and spending our country into recession. Voters are demanding new accountability and common sense that focuses on their priorities." Fearing added: "Keeping Hastings in Congress is like the country being led by teenagers left alone with a credit card."

More than 90% of the energy produced in the State of Washington is generated in the 4th Congressional District through hydroelectric, nuclear power, wind, and solar. The Grand Coulee Dam was the first major power producer, and research is underway advancing geothermal and wave technology.
"Democrats built this district," said Fearing. "Every major energy, agricultural and transportation project in Central Washington was funded when Democrats representing this district were in Congress. The Grand Coulee Dam. Dams on the Yakima, Snake, and Columbia Rivers. The Columbia Basic Reclamation Project. The Manhattan Project and the Public Power Supply System Reactors. Interstates 82 and 182. It is time we get back to investing in our district and securing our future."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Molesters not a Priority for Palin

The current story is that Alaska public safety commissioner Walt Monegan was fired because he was more aggressive in pushing an anti-molester program than Palin. Evidently she never considered predators to be a priority for her administration.

Ending Terrorism

The RAND Corporation has done a study on what it really takes to bring an end to terrorism. "War" on terrorism is not the solution. It's more like undercover and police work.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Palin Shows Her Lightweight Bona Fides

I watched the first of the Charles Gibson interviews and it was so clear that she is a shallow puddle, about the depth of a layer of lipstick. All she had were worn-out Bush talking points.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Embrace the Pig

Rather than apologize for the pig reference I think the best thing for Obama is to run with it. Sometimes the opposition telegraphs where they are most vulnerable by the nature of their defense. McCain-Palin are uniquely vulnerable an the four-more-years-of-failing-policies issue. This is the pig that Obama needs to use in every stump speech.

McCain = Pig, Palin = Lipstick.

The beauty of this construct is that it is so true. McCain really is an opportunistic, sexist pig and Palin really is nothing but a decoration.

Update: I thought this was my own idea but it seems a number of others with a wider audience have already landed on it.

DEA Tampering

Should we elect a man as president who tampered with a DEA investigation to protect his political career?

God forbid!

From Pigs to Ducks

If it walks like a duck.... Palin is trying to cover her tracks on a clear censorship agenda.
"Yesterday, ABC News' Brian Ross moved the ball forward a bit, with an interesting report.

Ross emphasized an angle I previously hadn't heard much about. Palin was elected mayor thanks in large part to the strong backing of her church, the Wasilla Assembly of God, which, right around the time Palin took office, 'began to focus on certain books available in local stores and in the town library, including one called 'Go Ask Alice,' and another one written by a local pastor, Howard Bess, called 'Pastor, I am Gay.''

Palin became mayor, her church was interested in censorship, and soon after, Palin asked a 'rhetorical' question about how books might be excluded from the public library. When the librarian resisted, she was, at least initially, fired.

The line from the McCain campaign has been that Palin never had any interest whatsoever in banning library books. That seems increasingly difficult to believe."

Palin

The problem with having a lightweight as a running mate is that she doesn't know what she doesn't know. Here she talks about Fannie and Freddie without any apparent knowledge of what they really are.

Questions for Palin

I don't have the link but a Times columnist, James Rainey, wishes Charles Gibson would ask these question of Sarah:
* You have been skeptical that global warming is caused by humans. On what basis do you reject the scientific consensus that fossil fuels and human activity have contributed to climate change?

* You asked the librarian in your town about the policy for banning books. Are there books you think should be kept from the public?

* You have claimed credit for killing the "bridge to nowhere," the $398-million link between Ketchikan and Gravina Island. Didn't you support it until it was clear Congress was not willing to pay for the much-ridiculed project?

* You have said students should be allowed to "debate both sides" of evolution. Should creationism be taught alongside evolution in the public schools? Do you believe in evolution?

* What's at the root of the terrorist problem in Pakistan? And how would you make progress, which has eluded the Bush administration, in that dangerous country?

* Your opponents claim you and McCain would just extend the Bush administration for another four years. Cite three instances in which you have differed with the president.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Deprivatization

Paul Krugman points out that Fannie and Freddie were privatized back in 1968. The government takeover is more like "firing Blackwater and giving responsibility for diplomatic security back to the Marines."

Winning This Campaign

Given the mysterious popularity of Palin it seems clear to me those who find her appealing are not going to be influenced by any criticism that might be raised. This campaign is going to be won in the trenches. Obama will have to turn out the voters who have suffered under the Republican imperial system. These folks are not going to be swayed by any Palin celebrity factor. They know the source of their pain and Obama has to not only get them to the polls but the Democratic field workers have to take every effort to make their votes count. Basic voter ID and GOTV efforts are critical. And the vote-counting process must be watched very carefully. We need to be prepared to contest every questionable vote fixing activity.

In my local jurisdiction with its vote-by-mail process this means that poll watching will be an activity that lasts over several days. No longer is it a one-day deal. The county staff needs to feel the hot breath on the back of their necks the entire time.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Anne Kilkenny's take on Palin

One Alaskan who isn't afraid to speak truth to power.

Sarah Palin's Record

From the wonks at Crooks and Liars
In 2000, Sarah Palin, as mayor of the Alaskan town of Wasilla, hired a Washington lobbyist to secure federal earmarks for her community.

This is not totally atypical in her state. Alaska’s government receives more money per capita in federal earmark money than any other state, despite being the only state in the union with no income tax and no sales tax. They fund their government primarily with petroleum money, and recently distributed oil profits to its citizens in the form of rebate checks.

But even in her heavily earmarked state, Sarah Palin was the earmark queen.

From 2000 to 2003, she secured over $27 million in earmarks, averaging $6.7 million in federal money every year for her town of about 6,700 people.

As mayor, Sarah Palin managed to secure a thousand dollars a year per person in her city in earmarks, yet…

When Palin left office in 2002, Wasilla had “racked up nearly $20 million in long-term debt,” or roughly $3,000 of debt per resident.

Asked in 1996, her first year in office, about her ability to “effectively run” the city, Palin claimed:

“It’s not rocket science,” Palin said, “It’s $6 million and 53 employees.”

Only “$6 million and 53 employees” and yet she managed to bury it $20 mil. in the red in just two-terms. How very Bush-like. And she wants us to trust her to be a heartbeat away from the national budget?

Governor Palin has been quietly undermining ethics inquiry

Palin upholds the proud Republican tradition of pretending to support transparent government while secretly doing everything she can to subvert it.

Lies and Damned Lies

Here's how they do it. Palin makes a statement that is technically accurate, "I auctioned that jet on eBay." Then McCain does an obvious extrapolation, "She took the luxury jet that was acquired by her predecessor, and sold it on eBay -- and made a profit!" The fact is, she OFFERED the jet on eBay but she sold it to a Valdez businessman who was a campaign contributor...for $600,000 loss.

America, we are better than this.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Obama Swift-Boating Begins

Here is a nice pack of lies that is simply preposterous. I especially like the images of full-term babies when they are actually talking about unviable fetuses. Of course in their eyes there is no difference, but realism is not a part of their thinking. So such lying with images just doesn't penetrate whatever they actually use as a conscience.

The Born-alive Infants Protection Act that is the crux of the discussion was a clear attempt to move the standard of what is a human life towards conception. It's similar to the so-called "partial birth" abortion issue in that the object of the legislation is a extremely rare occurrence. And like "partial-birth" it is an abysmal basis for good law. I applaud Obama and others for voting against it. It's a stupid law.

What really happens is noted in the above article.
In rare cases, a fetus may have a fatal deformity, (e.g. anencephaly or lack of a brain), but is still born alive. Other fetuses which are normal but are born at 22 weeks or less gestation also show signs of life. In both situations, they have zero chance of surviving long-term. No treatment is possible for their condition. Most hospitals have a policy to give these newborns comfort care. This involves keeping the them warm and well fed. The medical professionals treat any any discomfort that the newborn is experiencing. They typically die within a few hours or perhaps a day or two.

In the black-and-white, good-and-evil world of mentally challenged right-to-lifers there is no room for judgment calls by the people most directly affected by an unwanted or perhaps life-threatening pregnancy. They are the living legacy of the Dark Ages when the Church held that all suffering was the hand of God in action and the it was blasphemous to attempt to alleviate in. We like to think that we are smarter than that now but unfortunately many are not.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Hilary Rosen Sums It Up

Hilary Rosen: Am I "Off Message" on Sarah Palin?

So why then do I think that Sarah Palin would be a terrible vice president? Because I also think that John McCain would be a terrible president.

I don't care about how Sarah Palin or John McCain take care of their families. I care about how their policy choices affect my family and millions of other Americans.

-McCain and Palin get their health insurance paid for by the government (hers in Alaska and his in Washington). Yet they oppose giving the 42 million other Americans the same access to affordable healthcare.

-John McCain's kids don't have to worry about paying for college. Yet, he has opposed every single education support program to help others.

-McCain and Palin say they will stand up to oil companies. Yet the only energy policy they support gives millions of dollars in tax breaks to oil companies to do more drilling and he has opposed every piece of federal legislation to explore alternative fuel sources.

-McCain and Palin say they will revamp how Washington does business. Yet his campaign is filled with lobbyists and she has been in bed with Senator Ted Stevens funneling federal money for useless projects in Alaska for years.

-McCain and Palin have refused to answer very real questions about her potential abuse of power in Alaska when it came to her firing a State Trooper because she was on a revenge kick for her sister costing an officer his job. And McCain and Palin have no solutions for Americans worrying about their jobs in a fragile economy.

-McCain and Palin want us to leave their families alone. Yet they want make rules for our families by eliminating our right to make our own choices over abortion; eliminate our access to family planning education or domestic partner benefits; and our freedom from discrimination. They want to control what our kids learn in school about sex and about science. In short, through the policies they promote and the judges they support, they want the government to be more in control over our private lives than at any time in history.

-McCain and Palin now say their campaign is about change, too. Yet, the only real change they have proposed is a change from a suit to a skirt in the VP's office and one man fighting a misplaced war for another in the Oval Office. That seems to me to be the right reason to oppose them in November. It's not the process or the people, it's what they represent. This unconventional choice of VP by John McCain won't stand up to the hype and result in a win in November because they are the wrong choice for the country.

What the Bookmakers Think

According to the bookies:
"The smart money thinks there's a better chance today than yesterday that John McCain will dump Sarah Palin as his running mate."

Palin's Daughter

All I want to say about Palin's pregnant daughter is that this is the natural consequence of an abstinence-only sex education.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Obama jewels from his acceptance speech

That's why I stand here tonight. Because for two hundred and thirty two years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women – students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors -- found the courage to keep it alive.

These challenges are not all of government's making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush.
America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.

This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work.

This country is more generous than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment he's worked on for twenty years and watch it shipped off to China, and then chokes up as he explains how he felt like a failure when he went home to tell his family the news.

We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes.

Tonight, I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and Independents across this great land – enough! This moment – this election – is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. On November 4th, we must stand up and say: "Eight is enough."

But the record's clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than ninety percent of the time? I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to take a ten percent chance on change.

The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives – on health care and education and the economy – Senator McCain has been anything but independent. He said that our economy has made "great progress" under this President. He said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. And when one of his chief advisors – the man who wrote his economic plan – was talking about the anxiety Americans are feeling, he said that we were just suffering from a "mental recession," and that we've become, and I quote, "a nation of whiners."

Now, I don't believe that Senator McCain doesn't care what's going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn't know. Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under five million dollars a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than one hundred million Americans? How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people's benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement?

It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it.

For over two decades, he's subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy – give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is – you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps – even if you don't have boots. You're on your own.

We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job – an economy that honors the dignity of work.

I don't know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that celebrities lead, but this has been mine. These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that shaped me. And it is on their behalf that I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as President of the United States.

What is that promise?

It's a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect.

It's a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.

Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves – protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.

Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who's willing to work.

That's the promise of America – the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.

Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.

I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

I will cut taxes – cut taxes – for 95% of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.

Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close.

And now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day's work, because I want my daughters to have exactly the same opportunities as your sons.

Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility – that's the essence of America's promise.

For while Senator McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just days after 9/11, I stood up and opposed this war, knowing that it would distract us from the real threats we face. When John McCain said we could just "muddle through" in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights. John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell – but he won't even go to the cave where he lives.

That's not the judgment we need. That won't keep America safe. We need a President who can face the threats of the future, not keep grasping at the ideas of the past.

If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice – but it is not the change we need.

So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America – they have served the United States of America.
So I've got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.

For part of what has been lost these past eight years can't just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose – our sense of higher purpose. And that's what we have to restore.

Because if you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.
You make a big election about small things.
And you know what – it's worked before.

I get it. I realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office. I don't fit the typical pedigree, and I haven't spent my career in the halls of Washington.
But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the nay-sayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me. It's been about you.

This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

Instead, it is that American spirit – that American promise – that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.

That promise is our greatest inheritance. It's a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours – a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west; a promise that led workers to picket lines, and women to reach for the ballot.

And it is that promise that forty five years ago today, brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln's Memorial, and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream.

The men and women who gathered there could've heard many things. They could've heard words of anger and discord. They could've been told to succumb to the fear and frustration of so many dreams deferred. [Editor's note: allusion to Raisin in the Sun]

America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise – that American promise – and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.

DNC Convention Zingers - Biden

Failure at some point in everyone's life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable. As a child I stuttered, and she lovingly told me it was because I was so bright I couldn't get the thoughts out quickly enough. When I was not as well dressed as others, she told me how handsome she thought I was. When I got knocked down by guys bigger than me, she sent me back out and demanded that I bloody their nose so I could walk down that street the next day.

My mother's creed is the American creed: No one is better than you. You are everyone's equal, and everyone is equal to you.

Another year and no raise?
Did you hear the company may be cutting our health care?
Now, we owe more on the house than it's worth. How are we going to send the kids to college?
How are we gonna be able to retire?
That's the America that George Bush has left us, and that's the future John McCain will give us. These are not isolated discussions among families down on their luck. These are common stories among middle-class people who worked hard and played by the rules on the promise that their tomorrows would be better than their yesterdays.

. He chose to go to Chicago. The South Side. There he met men and women who had lost their jobs. Their neighborhood was devastated when the local steel plant closed. Their dreams deferred. Their dignity shattered. Their self-esteem gone. [dream deferred is from the line in the play, "A dream deferred dries up like a Raisin in the Sun"]

John McCain is my friend. We've known each other for three decades. We've traveled the world together. It's a friendship that goes beyond politics. And the personal courage and heroism John demonstrated still amaze me.
But I profoundly disagree with the direction that John wants to take the country. For example, John thinks that during the Bush years "we've made great progress economically." I think it's been abysmal.

And in the Senate, John sided with President Bush 95 percent of the time. Give me a break. When John McCain proposes $200 billion in new tax breaks for corporate America, $1 billion alone for just eight of the largest companies, but no relief for 100 million American families, that's not change; that's more of the same.

Even today, as oil companies post the biggest profits in history -- a half trillion dollars in the last five years -- he wants to give them another $4 billion in tax breaks. But he voted time and again against incentives for renewable energy: solar, wind, biofuels. That's not change; that's more of the same.

Millions of jobs have left our shores, yet John continues to support tax breaks for corporations that send them there. That's not change; that's more of the same.

He voted 19 times against raising the minimum wage. For people who are struggling just to get to the next day, that's not change; that's more of the same.

And when he says he will continue to spend $10 billion a month in Iraq when Iraq is sitting on a surplus of nearly $80 billion, that's not change; that's more of the same.

Should we trust John McCain's judgment when he said only three years ago, "Afghanistan we don't read about it anymore because it's succeeded? Or should we trust Barack Obama, who more than a year ago called for sending two additional combat brigades to Afghanistan?
The fact is, al-Qaida and the Taliban -- the people who actually attacked us on 9/11 -- have regrouped in those mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan and are plotting new attacks. And the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff echoed Baracks call for more troops.
John McCain was wrong. Barack Obama was right.

Should we trust John McCain's judgment when he rejected talking with Iran and then asked: What is there to talk about? Or Barack Obama, who said we must talk and make it clear to Iran that its conduct must change.
Now, after seven years of denial, even the Bush administration recognizes that we should talk to Iran, because that's the best way to advance our security.
Again, John McCain was wrong. Barack Obama was right.

Should we trust John McCain's judgment when he says there can be no timelines to draw down our troops from Iraq that we must stay indefinitely? Or should we listen to Barack Obama, who says shift responsibility to the Iraqis and set a time to bring our combat troops home?
Now, after six long years, the Bush administration and the Iraqi government are on the verge of setting a date to bring our troops home.
John McCain was wrong. Barack Obama was right.

Millions of Americans have been knocked down. And this is the time as Americans, together, we get back up. Our people are too good, our debt to our parents and grandparents too great, our obligation to our children is too sacred.

DNC Convention Zingers - Bill Clinton

Most important of all, Barack Obama knows that America cannot be strong abroad unless we are first strong at home. (Cheers, applause.) People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power.

I will never forget the parents of children with autism and other serious conditions who told me on the campaign trail that they couldn't afford health care and couldn't qualify their children for Medicaid unless they quit work and starved or got a divorce.
Are these the family values the Republicans are so proud of?

What about the military families pushed to the breaking point by multiple, multiple deployments? What about the assault on science and the defense of torture? What about the war on unions and unlimited favors for the well-connected? (Booing, jeering.)(Applause.) And what about Katrina and cronyism? (Booing, jeering.)
My fellow Democrats, America can do better than that. (Cheers, applause.) And Barack Obama will do better than that!

Yes, he can, but first, we have to elect him.

They took us from record surpluses to an exploding debt; from over 22 million new jobs to just 5 million; from increasing working families' incomes for nearly $7,500 a year to a decline of more than $2,000 a year; from almost 8 million Americans lifted out of poverty to more than 5 1/2 million driven into poverty -- (boos) -- and millions more losing their health insurance. (Boos.) Now, in spite of all this evidence, their candidate is actually promising more of the same.

Think about it: more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that will swell the deficit, increase inequality and weaken the economy; more Band-Aids for health care that will enrich insurance companies, impoverish families and increase the number of uninsured; more going it alone in the world instead of building the shared responsibilities and shared opportunities necessary to advance our security and restore our influence.
They actually want us to reward them for the last eight years by giving them four more. (Boos.) Now, let's send them a message that will echo from the Rockies all across America; a simple message. Thanks but no thanks. (Cheers, applause.) In this case, in this case, the third time is not the charm.

16 years ago, you gave me the profound honor to lead our party to victory and to lead our nation to a new era of peace and broadly shared prosperity. (Cheers, applause.) Together we prevailed in a hard campaign, in which the Republicans said I was too young and too inexperienced to be commander in chief. (Cheers, applause.)
Sound familiar?

It didn't work in 1992, because we were on the right side of history. And it will not work in 2008, because Barack Obama is on the right side of history.

His achievements are proof of our continuing progress toward the more perfect union of our Founders' dreams. The values of freedom and equal opportunity, which have given him his historic chance, will drive him as president to give all Americans, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability, their chance to build a decent life -- (cheers, applause) -- and to show our humanity, as well as our strength to the world.

DNC Convention Zingers - Hillary

No way, nohow, no McCain.

To make America once again a nation of immigrants and of laws, to restore fiscal sanity to Washington and make our government an institution of the public good, not of private plunder.

Barack Obama began his career fighting for workers displaced by the global economy. He built his campaign on a fundamental belief that change in this country must start from the ground up, not the top down. (Cheers, applause.) And he knows that government must be about we the people, not we the favored few.

Democrats know how to do this. As I recall, we did it before, with President Clinton and the Democrats. (Cheers, applause.) And if we do our part, we'll do it again with President Obama and the Democrats. (Cheers, applause.)

Now, John McCain is my colleague and my friend. He has served our country with honor and courage. But we don't need four more years of the last eight years.

Well, John McCain says the economy is fundamentally sound. John McCain doesn't think 47 million people without health insurance is a crisis. John McCain wants to privatize Social Security. and in 2008, he still thinks it's okay when women don't warrant equal pay for equal work!

Now, with an agenda like that, it makes perfect sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities, because these days they're awfully hard to tell apart.

My mother was born before women could vote. My daughter got to vote for her mother for president. This is the story of America, of women and men who defy the odds and never give up.

On that path to freedom, Harriet Tubman had one piece of advice. If you hear the dogs, keep going; if you see the torches in the woods, keep going; if they're shouting after you, keep going. Don't ever stop; keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.

In America, you always keep going. We're Americans. We're not big on quitting. (Laughter.) And remember, before we can keep going, we've got to get going by electing Barack Obama the next president of the United States. (Cheers, applause.) We don't have a moment to lose or a vote to spare. Nothing less than the fate of our nation and the future of our children hangs in the balance.

DNC Convention Zingers - Richardson

The Denver DNC Convention speeches are a veritable gold mine for one-liners to use in the national campaign. Here are some of my favorites.

Bill Richardson:
Obama in 2002--
In the midst of great fervor — brought about by an administration that questioned the patriotism of anyone who disagreed with it — Barack Obama called the coming war what it was: "a war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics." He was right!

Barack's words were prescient and brave. "I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle Eastand strengthen the recruitment arm of Al-Qaeda." He was right!

He said: "A successful war against Iraq would require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences." He was right!

Instead, Barack Obama urged President Bush — who's never in the mood to be urged in a direction other than his own folly — to finish the fight with bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. He was right!

Six years ago, in this simple but forceful speech, Barack Obama did more than just challenge President Bush. He offered a detailed vision for foreign policy — including the vigorous enforcement of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty , condemnation of human rights abuses even among our allies and a commitment to reconciliation between Pakistan and India. He was right!

John McCain said we'd be welcomed as liberators, and that Iraq would pay for its own rebuilding. John McCain was wrong.

Barack Obama was among the first to call for a timetable for responsible withdrawal. But John McCain, to this day, condemns the idea. The Iraqis are calling for a withdrawal timetable, but John McCain would keep us in Iraq for 100 years. John McCain is wrong. Barack Obama is right.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fearing on Target to Win

At the close of the initial primary vote counting on Tuesday George Fearing, the Democratic party candidate for the Washington 4th congressional district, was clearing on target to eventually post a win in November's general election with 35% of the vote. His general election opponent, the incumbent Richard Hastings, did poorer in the congressional district that Republican candidate for governor did in the same area. That is to say that incumbent Hastings didn't do as well as his gubernatorial rematch colleague. Many Rossi voters found it distasteful to vote for Hastings. He is not sufficiently well-liked by the swing voting people in his district to garner enough independent votes to win the general election.

Hastings is toast.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A True Revolution

Have you ever stopped to think about how many of our problems would be eased if there were only fewer people? Less pollution, less traffic, less scarcity of resources. But there seems to be almost no one talking about population reduction these days. In their book The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment Paul and Anne Ehrlich lay out the case against our continued, mindless population expansion.

Reasonable Discrimination

Is there any reason we should allow religious fundamentalists who believe that the Earth will eventually be destroyed in the Apocalypse to hold public office? There is no reason to expect them to support policies that provide long-term benefit to both the environment and society. In their minds all the matters is short term gains with little concern for eventual consequences. After all the whole thing is going to be torched anyway. Who cares if the water is undrinkable or the air unbreathable? Who cares if patterns of poverty or predation continue from generation? They don't. If they are faithful to their "God" they will escape the mess they make for the rest of us.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Trout

Idaho got played. Suppose for strategic reasons a corporation wants to build a nuclear facility. The worst strategy is to go hat-in-hand to the state in question begging for incentives. An optimal strategy is to generate a bidding war even if only one bidder is preferred.

AREVA did this. They dangled a possible Richland site at Idaho and they were able to obtain a nice package of sweeteners for their new enrichment facility. The ploy was made convincing when TriDEC, the Tri-City Herald staff, the Rossi campaign, and other community leaders bought the bluff completely. There was one party who was clearly smarter-than-the-average-bear and stayed out of the game, Governor Christine Gregoire. The political climate is such that she could have done nothing to create sufficient additional advantages for AREVA to seriously consider Washington. Imagine the furor from the nuclear-ignorant West side that the company would face if a new nuclear facility was announced here.

TriDEC saw dollar signs and jobs and bit on that fly like a brainless trout. And Rossi supporters are using it to vilify the governor. I would much rather have a smarter-than-the-average bear for a governor than a brainless trout.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Real Foreign Aid

An Idaho spud farmer shares some appropriate technology with Afghan farmers. Something as simple as a good way to store potatoes combats the opium economy.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

An initiative gone bad...again

TCH bloviates.

My thoughts:
It’s time for TRIDEC to get some leadership who has a better strategy than whining about the governor. Carl Adrian’s problem isn’t the governor, it’s all those people who voted for initiative 297. As long as those people are out there and regardless of the fact that it has been struck down, she simply can not afford to be seen as aggressively pursuing more nuclear industry in the state. Rather than criticize the governor, Carl needs to find a way to make the west-side voters more nuclear-friendly. There are any number of potential points of persuasion. Reasonably-priced power is root of economic growth. Reasonably-priced power makes for more jobs for rich and poor alike. Reasonably-priced power provides the taxable income that is needed to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. And so on.

Frankly, Carl tends to smell like a Rossi Republican when he engages in fear tactics by trumping up rumors that Areva may move its existing plant. Here’s how it works. Trump up a threat to move the plant. That forces the governor to either ignore the threat thereby appearing to be unconcerned. Or to counter the threat by taking a position that may be unpopular. Either way she loses. People who make up such unsubstantiated threats are not your friends, governor. Areva denies the threat in words and denies the threat in its actions by continuing its investments in the existing plant. So knock it off, Carl, before you’re exposed as the Republican shill you are.

Update: Adrian's supposed access to internal Areva email is pretty thin. One can only see Areva email from an Areva computer and I doubt Carl Adrian has one. If he does he would be in violation of the non-disclosure agreement that comes with it. Perhaps he has a mole in the organization. I'm sure Areva management would be interested to know who that is. But most likely Carl is simply making it up. Areva was not looking for any concessions from the state. There would be no tactical point in hinting that the Richland plant might be moved. Carl, you're busted.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Primary versus Caucus

I recently served on the resolutions committee and attended the Washington State Democratic Party Convention. As you might imagine there is a strong controversy about whether the state’s national convention delegates should be determined by caucus or primary. It pits state electoral traditions against national party rules. It pits populists against party regulars. And it is going to continue to be a problem until an equitable solution can be worked out. This article is an attempt to arrive at what such a solution might be.

How did we get here? In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 198 that change the state’s traditional closed primary system to a blanket primary system similar to that that used in Washington State in which voters could voter their preferences regardless of party. In the 2000 case of California Democratic Party v. Jones, the US Supreme Court ruled that the recently-enacted California blanket primary violated the political party’s first amendment right of freedom of association. In this case the California Democratic Party, the California Republican Party, the Libertarian Party of California, and the Peace and Freedom Party had all filed suit against the state of California and won. That decision also applied to the Washington state primaries (thank you, California).

Within the parties there is strong sentiment against blanket primaries not only because of the technical first amendment violation but because they inhibit the control parties have over their own “brand”. Fringe candidates (such as the followers of Lyndon LaRouche) can claim a party affiliation even though the party itself finds the candidate abhorrent. On the other hand, there is strong sentiment within the voting community that rejects the idea of any strong party affiliation. A great many voters want to have the capacity to select candidates regardless of party. Furthermore, in localities in which one party predominates, the primary serves as the more significant election. Voters who wish to cast a vote in a race in the minority party have no vote in other races between candidates in the majority party.

At the moment party rules leave it to the jurisdictional party legislative bodies to designate and officially sanction party candidates. While this is traditional and reasonably democratic, it is cumbersome and requires potential candidates to jump through some procedural hoops. In jurisdictions in which a party is barely functioning an appropriate endorsement body might not convene in a timely manner for a campaign. This could be streamlined somewhat if the party decided to allow executive committees to sanction candidates but at the price of democratic process. Furthermore, putting it completely in the hands of the party leaves non-aligned voters with direct input whatsoever. Their only hope is that the party keeps them in mind when selecting candidates.

It should be noted that compared to other countries the party system in the United States is abysmally weak. In parliamentary systems, all significant political action takes place through the party. American parties are just not that strong and I don’t think Americans would want them to be. (While American parties may aspire to that sort of dominance, they should, as a practical matter, just give up that dream. It ain’t gonna happen.)

So what might a reasonable middle ground be?

On the face of it, it seems odd that a state government can spend taxpayer money running an election that is essentially a party function. It bespeaks a certain amount of collusion between the major parties to co-opt public resources for their own particular benefit. Indeed, constitutionally the government is only required to hold a single election, not a bunch of pre-election elections. One could argue that it is in the government’s interest to narrow the field of candidates such that the final office holders are elected by a majority rather than a potentially small plurality. This is a reasonable justification for a top-two primary. And by this reasoning the primary is a party-neutral process by which to have a meaningful general election at the end of an electoral process. Essentially the general election becomes a run-off election between the two highest vote-getters.

One might ask, how is a top-two primary effectively different from a blanket primary? In a blanket primary each party is assured of having at least one candidate in the general election even if the party candidate had fewer votes that two or more candidates of the opposing party. This may be a tad undemocratic but it does throw a bone to the official parties. The parties may have cut their own throats by having blanket primaries thrown out. In a top-two primary system party identification is taken out of the equation entirely and parties have to actually meet a competitive threshold to have their candidates on the general election ballots.

The parties’ only hope of recovery their capability to have a sub-minority candidate on the general election ballot lies in a potential lawsuit that may be brought in which a given party can argue they were damaged by a candidate who self-identified as a member of the party without official party sanctioning. The court will have to decide between the right of a party to protect its brand and the right of the government to meaningful elections in which a sub-minority candidate takes precedence over a minority candidate. It seems to me that the proper decision would be the one that makes for a more democratic election process than one that protects the privilege of a political organization, that is to say, the top-two primary process.

The political parties need to suck it up and prepare to operate in a regime that gives them no special privileges. (To the degree that party ranks are occupied by people grasping for power by undemocratic means, it would certainly frustrate their efforts.) Every general election would be a decision between the candidates who have clearly-demonstrated popular support.

Since I am skeptical that the Republican Party would ever cede any of its political clout for the greater good I make no appeal to them. But I do appeal to the Washington State Democratic Party to embrace the top-two primary system as the more democratic solution to electoral process. And I call on the Washington State Democratic Party to adjust their rules and practices accordingly for life in a new sort of world. I also call on them to stop wasting time and money trying to fight a process that more accurately expresses the will of the people merely to protect the party’s selfish interest.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Justice at last

I just love it when political appointees like the Bush Supreme Court actually get down to doing the job. It's sad that we have people in power in Washington that think it is OK to simply ignore a cornerstone of our constitution such as that pesky article 1, section 9.

Note that presidential hopeful John McCain calls this basic decision "one of the worst decisions in the history of this country."

Humans Exonerated in Mammoth Extinction

Genetic studies show:
"'The population was split into two groups, then one of the groups died out 45,000 years ago, long before the first humans began to appear in the region,' said Stephan C. Schuster, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State University and a leader of the research team. 'This discovery is particularly interesting because it rules out human hunting as a contributing factor, leaving climate change and disease as the most probable causes of extinction.'"

Global Limits Of Biomass Energy

From the article, Global Limits Of Biomass Energy:
"Research is booming to improve energy crops and methods of converting crops to fuel. Already, Brazil gets 30% of its automotive fuel from ethanol distilled from sugar cane. But critics warn that “energy farming” will gobble up land needed to grow food or will impinge on natural ecosystems, possibly even worsening the climate crisis."
So added to the rise in food costs as farming moves to energy products, there just isn't enough arable land to farm our ways out of the energy problem.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Fisking Joseph Romm

In an article in Salon Joseph Romm attempts to convince us that he knows something.

So let's have fun taking him apart.
GOP presidential nominee John McCain, who has called for building hundreds of new nuclear plants in this country, recently announced he won't bother showing up to vote on his friend Joe Lieberman's climate bill because of insufficient subsidies (read "pork") for nuclear power.
John McCain and Joe Liebermann. He doesn't even take what they say with a grain of salt. When you consider the source, even without delving into whatever the facts may be, it's a pretty good bet that the truth is diametrically opposite of their positions. In other words, nukes don't need subsidies. Next.
Since new nuclear power now costs more than double what the MIT report assumed -- three times what the Economist called "too costly to matter" -- let me focus solely on the unresolved problem of cost. While safety, proliferation and waste issues get most of the publicity, nuclear plants have become so expensive that cost overwhelms the other problems.
Costs matter to utilities. If they didn't they would be continuing to build gas turbines regardless of the rising fuel cost. This doesn't pass the laugh test.

In the following passage:
Zakaria asks, "A number of analyses say that nuclear power isn't cost competitive, and that without government subsidies, there's no real market for it." Moore replies:

That's simply not true. Where the massive government subsidies are is in wind and solar ... I know that the cost of production of electricity among the 104 nuclear plants operating in the United States is 1.68 cents per kilowatt-hour. That's not including the capital costs, but the cost of production of electricity from nuclear is very low, and competitive with dirty coal. Gas costs three times as much as nuclear, at least. Wind costs five times as much, and solar costs 10 times as much.
Romm conveniently omits the rest of the quote in which Moore makes his point.
I know that France, which produces 80 percent of its electricity with nuclear, does not have high energy costs. Sweden, which produces 50 percent of its energy with nuclear and 50 percent with hydro, has very reasonable energy costs.
Romm displays the depth of his prejudice with this line:
Operation is also cheap, compared with nukes, which run on expensive uranium and must be monitored minute by minute so they don't melt down.
This is countered by the rising natural gas prices that have put nukes back on the table. Uranium may seem expensive until you consider the energy density of uranium. You can put 2 years of fuel on two tractor-trailer rigs. Think of how much coal or natural gas a fossil plant goes through in 2 years. In that 2 years only 1% of the weight and 1/5 of the fissile component of the fuel are actually consumed. The rest is available for recycling.

Romm doesn't know that the tricky part about power plants is keeping the reaction going at an acceptable rate, not keeping it from running away.

Romm complains about the costs of construction being so much higher now than in 2000. What was your house worth in 2000? Cost increases as compared to what? One must also consider that in order to get past the public perceptions inflamed by the likes of Romm the plant designs are going to be more expensive and beyond safe.

The construction of nuclear power plants is expensive but the performance of even the old non-standardized plants have been good enough that major utilities are putting money on the line today for new plants. The plants that are now being built using a standardized, pre-licensed design are running into some problems but these problems are business problems not design problems or technical problems. With each copy the kinks in the process are smoothed out more and more. In time the numbers are going to look better and better. In that same time, the numbers for fossil plants are going to be looking worse and worse, both in cost and actual environmental damage.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Scott McClellan's Confession, Ho Hum

Only to the truly clueless does this come as a surprise.
"Bush emphasized this sentiment during the campaign. He would 'change the tone in Washington.' He would be 'a uniter, not a divider.' He would 'restore honor and dignity to the White House.' He would govern based on what was right, not what the polls said. He would, in short, replace the cynicism of the 1990s with a new era of civility, decency, and hope. There would be no more permanent campaign, or at least its excesses would be wiped away for good.

But the reality proved to be something quite different. Instead, the Bush team imitated some of the worst qualities of the Clinton White House and even took them to new depths."
Many of us were on to this from day 1.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Dino Rossi: Candidate for the Clueless

Dino touts the story of a Kennewick Dino supporter on his website. If this supporter is typical then it could easily be said that those who are swayed by slogan instead of substance are the kind of folks who want him for governor. She supports Dino because
“he has an aura about him that inspires people and gives confidence.”
Yeah, aura, that's what's really important here. We wouldn't want to elect a governor who can actually get things done, would we?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

It's not Bezerkistan

It seems that Uncle Duke has really been working for Myanmar and the John McCain campaign. Birds of a feather....

Tri-City Herald editors, look outward for answers on Areva

Someone needs to tell Dino Rossi, Richard Hastings, and the Tri-City Herald editorial staff that the world does not revolve around them. Nor does it revolve around their agenda to trash one of the best governors this state has ever had. One can understand why Rossi and Hastings seek to blame the good governor for the loss of the Areva enrichment plant. It’s good politics for them. When you have no substance on which to run you have no choice but to invent something. It’s illuminating to see the Herald carrying water for them. Despite lacing their editorial with denials to the contrary it is clear that the editors are taking a purely political stance in complete compliance with their local Republican handlers. It is also clear that they are, shall we say, somewhat deficient in journalistic objectivity. I doubt they bothered to spend 10 seconds thinking about why Areva actually made the decision it did. It was so much easier to plug in to the talking points that matched their favored political agenda. Those of us who actually work for Areva know that it is a huge corporation that sometimes makes decisions in ways that are mysterious and arcane. I personally have no special knowledge of the thinking behind the Areva decision but I can make some educated guesses, none of which have to do with Washington state politics. It’s no secret that Areva, as the only company that is currently building new nuclear power plants, is positioning itself to be a major player if not THE player in the coming nuclear renaissance in the U.S. As such its appetite for native nuclear know-how is insatiable. By selecting the Idaho site Areva can establish a presence in one of the few remaining nuclear-friendly communities in which it does not already have one. Many an Idaho-grown engineer and technician will find themselves locally-hired but globally utilized just as has happened in Richland. On the technical side of things, the gas-centrifuge technology is wrapped in layers of high security clearance. One may be able to buy the rights to use it but one is not allowed to see the equipment that does it. Since the Idaho Falls site is even more remote than the Tri-cities and has remained under a military-level of security, I suspect that the arbiters of the gas-centrifuge technology have a keen interest in putting the plant near a place that has on-going military missions. These are things that Olympia could no more affect than the rainfall on Rattlesnake Mountain.

The Herald editors do a disservice to its readers when all they choose to see is the small local picture. They do a truly enormous disservice when they treat the Rossi/Hastings cry-baby whining as something more than it is, cry-baby whining. It time to grow up, folks.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Republican Tax Insanity May Continue

Paul Krugman:
"Proposing to extend past unaffordable tax cuts has the same effect on the budget as proposing new unaffordable tax cuts. The bottom line is that the combination of the Bush tax cuts and McCain’s extensions and revisions would leave the federal government without sufficient revenue to do its job; no amount of bobbing and weaving can change that fact. And it’s really sad to see Holtz-Eakin lending his reputation to this sort of thing."

Growing your own

William Saletan finds something interesting.
"People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has just offered a $1 million prize to anyone who develops a commercially viable 'in vitro chicken-meat product.' The catch is that the product can't contain or entail the use of 'animal-derived products, except for starter cells obtained in the initial development stages.'"

Reactors in Canada

Dan Yurman speculates on whether recent moves in the Canadian nuclear power may have affected the still-delayed announcement of the site of the new Areva enrichment plant.

How We'll Know When We've Won

From the conservative organ, the Weekly Standard:
"Virtually everyone who wants to win this war agrees: Success will have been achieved when Iraq is a stable, representative state that controls its own territory, is oriented toward the West, and is an ally in the struggle against militant Islamism, whether Sunni or Shia."

The laughable but sad part is that these guys really think that this can happen. Talk about delusional!

Friday, April 25, 2008

New Source for Biofuels

It seems the good lads at my alma mater have been plugging away. This article spotlights a method of producing easily-processed, lignin-free cellulose with cyano-bacteria.

Combine that with the process from UMass listed below to produce hydro-carbon products from cellulose and you may really have something.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Not so Live Blogging of Death with Dignity Forum

Public Service Informational Forum
Cosponsored by the Tri-City Democrats and the Associated Students of Columbia Basin College.

The goal of the forum series is to provide factual information on initiatives and referenda that potentially will be on this year’s ballot.

This forum is about the Washington State Initiative 1000.

In Laurel Piippo’s introduction of the speakers she noted that her grandfather insisted that constitutions of the states carved out of the Dakota Territories include the rights of initiative and referendum.

Moderator will be Dan Blasdel, Frankln County Coroner.

Speakers
Dr. Linda Olson is from Tacoma.
She works with the Death with Dignity campaign. She has been involved with this issue for more than 50 years. From a career in nursing she has gone on to a PhD from University of Washington. With a specialty in ethics she has been a nurse educator and professor of nursing at Pacific Lutheran University and the University Washington. She has followed the Oregon law from its inception.

Chris Carlson is from Spokane.
He has a radio program there. He is a founding member of the Coalition against Assisted Suicide. He has pursued journalism, public relations, and political life. He founded the Gallatin Group public affairs firm. A former press secretary to Idaho Governor Cecil D. Andrus, Chris directed the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Public Affairs during the governor’s four-year term as Secretary of the Interior under President Jimmy Carter.
Following his position in Washington, D.C., Chris was appointed to the Northwest Power Planning Council by Idaho Governor John V. Evans. In 1984, he became regional vice president of public affairs for Kaiser Aluminum in Spokane
To start the thing off Blasdel read the text of Initiative 1000.
“This measure would permit terminally ill, competent, adult Washington residents medically predicted to die within six months to request and self-administer lethal medication prescribed by a physician. The measure requires two oral and one written request, two physicians to diagnose the patient and determine the patient is competent, a waiting period, and physician verification of an informed patient decision. Physicians, patients and others acting in good faith compliance would have criminal and civil immunity.”

The forum rules are that responses to questions are limited to 1 minute. No personal attacks are allowed.

Chris Olson won the toss and elected to speak second.

Opening remarks from Chris Carlson:
He offered his thanks to sponsors for putting the forum together. He considers the right to petition is an important right but key phrase is “when legislature refuses to act”. On this particular issue the legislature has not had a chance to act. It has not been explicitly brought before the legislature such that the legislature could go on record one way or another. The failure of this one technicality is one of the reasons he opposes the initiative.

Mr. Carlson was told he had less than 6 months to live by 2 doctors. He had a rare form of cancer that was at stage 4. He would qualify under the initiative. But he decided to be aggressive about pursuing treatment. He was able to access an experimental treatment that has kept the cancer at bay. He considers fighting for life to be natural.

He sees fatal flaws in Initiative 1000. He worries about how economics would play into the process. Some past proponents have said that Initiative 1000 would save money by not spending it on doomed efforts to preserve life. He fears this economic consideration will take control of the process. Another flaw is that it does not require notification of next of kin. He fears that very young people can be stampeded into it for financial reasons. There is no mandated counseling for the understandable depression that frequently accompanies an imminent terminal prognosis. He believes there is a flaw in the Oregon law. There is no requirement for doctor to report the number of people avail themselves of the option and no investigative mechanism to audit whether it is being used properly. The data being used by the proponents may be flawed.

Many states have rejected initiatives of this sort.

Mr. Carlson fears that life will be seen as having a determinate value instead of priceless.
He admits he has signed an advance directive to prevent the use of heroic techniques to keep him alive if and when the time comes.

Hospice nurses say most pain is manageable and pain should not be a reason for terminating a life.

He sees this as suicide and objects that under the initiative and the Oregon law that doctors are allowed to list the disease as the cause of death rather than suicide..

Dr. Linda Olson’s opening remarks:
Olson will not respond to Carlson’s specifics. She makes the point that the law allows the choice. The law allows the patients to be in control of how they die when death is inevitable. It is rooted in the concept individual rights. She reiterated the safeguards, some of which Carlson criticized. The structure is such that it is completely voluntary. In fact very few have actually used the Oregon law but every terminal patient has benefited because they can choose from a fuller range of options. In Oregon hospice use is quite high. Oregon patients have access to better pain control than most. The experienced statistics are that approximately only 1 out of 1000 terminally ill patients actually requests the option. Of those, only 1 out 6 qualify as eligible. Of the people who are given the option only 2 out of 3 actually use it. In the deaths of 36,000 terminal patients only 46 were self-administered. The experience of the law as actually applied is that it does not stampede people into death. Sometimes having the option actually gets people to fight harder to live.

The law does not affect insurance or survivor benefits since the cause of death is not listed as suicide. She sees the law as a benefit to the citizens.

The editorial board of the Oregonian newspaper (the major Portland metropolitan paper), was initially against the law. But ti has changed its mind. They wrote, “The dire consequences predicted did not pan out.” No abuses have been found.
On the question of medical expense and economic impact the usual case is that by the time people apply for Death with Dignity all the expenses have all been paid out and everything that can be done has been done.

The moderator then gave the speakers an opportunity to speak to some prepared questions.

How is mentally competency determined?
Olsen: Mental competency is an issue for things other than assisted death. The mental competency standards used in other contexts are applied here.
Carlson: The assessment of competency is outside of my expertise. But suicide is an irrational act. Just asking for the opportunity to commit suicide indicates to me that a person isn’t competent.

What effects would this have on the family unit?
Carlson: I see this as bad for family unit because a person can cut the family out of the decision process.
Olson: In 95% of the cases the individuals talked with family about it. One can decide to withhold other means of medical treatment as Mr. Carlson has done without including the family. I don’t see this as much different than that..

What are the legal ramifications to previously written wills?
Olson: I don’t know that there are any.
Carlson: I’m not a lawyer but I can envision a scenario in which an assisted death could be challenged as a sign of incompetence.

How is this better than a living will?
Carlson: I don’t see it as better. I wonder why people want government into how they deal with a terminal illness. But I concede that there is the gray area.
Olsen: I see this as complementing living will. Sometime the living wills are not honored. This gives the person sure control.

What are results or problems from Oregon?
Olson: I think the results are good and we couldn’t find any problems.
Carlson: I disagree. I think the way the Oregon law is structure the data collected may very well be bad. I can cite a case where the drugs didn’t work. Activist groups have a list of such cases available.

Now there were questions from the audience.

In the Hippocratic Oath life is considered as the ultimate purpose. Has that changed?
Olson: At end of life the duties of preserving life and reducing suffering intersect. What is the point of allowing suffering to continue when death can not be kept at bay?
Carlson: No, the charge in the oath is to do no harm. Doctors don’t want this law. Professional medical organizations do not want it. Doctors don’t want to be forced to tell patients about the death option.

Would you be more willing in severe cases with intractable pain, declining mental capacity, and sure and painful death to support this law?
Carlson: No. Pain can be handled. There is a broader issue present about access to the good pain medications.
Olson: Yes. Not all pain is physical. There is the indignity of how one dies with some of these illnesses that drugs don’t begin to touch.

What about people taking their lives in a more dramatic fashion?
Olson: This should be avoided. It is not a good thing.
Carlson: Strangely enough I agrees with Dr Olson on this point. I think people should do all that they can to stay alive.

Has the legislature had any hearings on this issue?
Olson: Legislators won’t touch this issue because of the controversy it could potentially be brought against them..

Does this law justify self-determination? We don’t have to subscribe to someone else’s definition of competency.
Olson: There are standards of mental competency in our legal system whether we like it or not.
Carlson: I see the proponents making too much of the issue as choice issue. I think that this law would be a step toward the state defining when the “choice” can be taken. I find it curious that often the same people who object to capital punishment by injection also support death in a similar fashion with assisted suicide.

[At this point I had to leave so I don’t have any information about the closing remarks.]