Thoughts from a Yellow Dog Democrat living in Olympia, in the great BLUE state of Washington

I am a liberal because it is the political philosophy of freedom and equality. And I am a progressive because it is the political path to a better future. And I am a Democrat because it is the political party that believes in freedom, equality and progress. -- Digby

Monday, June 19, 2006

Meet the Press err I Mean Publicist

Time Russert proved this past Sunday that he's lost it as a journalist. It used to be that Meet the Press had some street cred as news worthy -- yesterday's show made me want to vomit.

Russert had Shell Oil's President John Hofmeister; ConocoPhillips Chrmn. & CEO James Mulva; & Chevron's Chrmn. & CEO David O'Reilly on his show. He pretended he had a clue what we are concerned about and softballed a question about the "high pump prices vs their profits" -- what a joke! They all recited their PR lines about "supply and demand", "we need the profits to explore and drill for more", and "these profits aren't really as big as you think". So Russert countered in his best investigative journalist style with "OK".

I'm like many Americans willing to pay more for gas IF these companies were doing anything to get us off oil in the longterm. They are like drug pushers -- "I need the high profits so I can find even more crack to sell you." Only this time we see the limits of this resource and the damage it's doing to our treasure, company, globe, and national security. Explosive sales of hybrids are the sign that we are motivated to get off this crack but our dealers don't seem to see it.

These companies along with Ford and GM with their "we'll pay your gas" deals will go on the dust heap of failed obsolete companies along with so many other American companies who failed to see that the times are changing and jump with their customers -- IBM failing to embrace computers, Kodak slow to catch on to the digital age, buggy whips, wash boards, ice companies.

I would have LOVED Russert to have asked "what would your profits have been if you had paid the American people the royalty tax you agreed to when we GAVE you drilling rights on our public lands?" "What would your profits have been if you had ceased lobbying Congress and your fiends in the White House for sweetheart deals, give aways, tax abatements, stonewalling progress for alternative fuels, ANWAR drilling rights, and forgivness of past fines and penalties?" "What would your profits have been if you had cleaned up the spills properly in New Orleans and Purdhoe Bay and stopped fighting the fines for Purdhoe in the courts?"

But what does Russert care -- he was able to plug his book so he had a successful show.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

State Supreme Court Races

Our Supreme Court will likely be looking at issues like election reform, redistricting, same sex marriage, Real ID implementation, death penalty, and Hanford clean up over the coming months and years. After Rossi v Gregoire the Right decided to target our Supreme Court and even though this race is non partisan we Democratic PCOs have an obligation to become informed of theses issues, candidates, and the potential effect on us.

The Supreme Court is the state's highest court. Its opinions are published, become the law of the state, and set precedent for subsequent cases decided in Washington.
The Court has original jurisdiction of petitions against state officers and can review decisions of lower courts if the case involves a question of the legality of a tax, duty, assessment, toll, or municipal fine, or the validity of a statute.
Direct Supreme Court review of a trial court decision is permitted if the action involves a state officer, a trial court has ruled a statute or ordinance unconstitutional, conflicting statutes or rules of law are involved, or the issue is of broad public interest and requires a prompt and ultimate determination. All cases in which the death penalty has been imposed are reviewed directly by the Supreme Court.

Motions to be determined by the Court, and petitions for review of Court of Appeals decisions, are heard by five-member departments of the Court. A less-than-unanimous vote on a petition requires that the entire court consider the matter.
The Supreme Court is the final rule-making authority for all of the state's courts. Though local courts make their own rules of procedure, these rules must conform to those established by the Supreme Court. In addition, the Supreme Court has administrative responsibility for operation of the state court system.

The nine Supreme Court justices are elected to six-year terms. Each term is staggered to maintain continuity of the court. Vacancies are filled by appointment of the Governor until the next general election.

Current justices up for election in 2006 are:

* Gerry L. Alexander, Chief Justice
* Tom Chambers, Justice
* Susan J. Owens, Justice

Chief Justice Gerry L. Alexander. Gerry Alexander was first elected to a seat on
the Washington Supreme Court in 1994. In 2000, Justice Chambers was elected to the Washington State Supreme Court. On November 7, 2000, Judge Susan Owens was elected the seventh woman to serve on the Washington State Supreme Court.

David Postman, a reporter for The Seattle Times, has been following these races and quoted Judge Alexander in the June 16, 2006 issue:

"A judge should not have an agenda," he said. "A judge should enter the courtroom ... with no preconceived notion as to how that case should come out, but rather should apply the law as best that judge can understand it as a human and apply it to the facts of the case."

Alexander said he knows voters are confused by judicial elections and frustrated at how little judges can say because of ethical constraints.
He tells them to "study the candidates and vote for the judicial candidate they think is most likely, by virtue of their temperament.

The Race
Supreme Court Position 2
• Susan J. Owens - Incumbent
o Website:
• Stephen Johnson
o Website:
• Barrie Althoff
• Terrence A. Carroll
• Geoffrey Crooks
• David A. Larson
• Douglas A. Schafer
• Jeffrey C. Sullivan
Supreme Court Position 8
• Gerry L. Alexander - Incumbent
o Website:
• John Groen
o Website:
Supreme Court Position 9

• Tom Chambers - Incumbent
• Seth A. Fine
• James Foley
• Kenneth E. Grosse

The Best Funded Challengers
John M. Groen is challenging Gerry Alexander. Postman reports that at the recent Republican convention:

An attorney with the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation, Groen mentioned property rights four times . . .

It appears he is trying to capitalize on the extensive press he received during his fights to kill the Seattle monorail in the last couple of years. Groen, 46, is expected to get heavy backing from the politically potent Building Industry Association of Washington. He is a member and past chairman of the BIAW's legal trust committee, and the association is a client of his Bellevue law firm, Groen, Stephens & Klinge, as are other builder interests.

Groen is a senior consulting attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, a non-profit, public interest law firm that litigates for property rights in land-use and environmental cases.

State Sen. Stephen L. Johnson (R-Kent) has been registered with the Public Disclosure Commission and raising money to run for the Supreme Court for months but only recently announced that he is challenging Justice Susan Owens. He plays himself as an outsider taking on not just the incumbent, but the state's legal establishment. Johnson will not participate in ratings done by the King County Bar Association.

Since Johnson has been a State Senator, Project Vote Smart ( has rated him on the issues. Generally he is anti-choice, pro-business, got a 100% rating from the American Conservative Union, only 25% from the Washington State PTA, among other ratings.

Currently no candidate registered with the Public Disclosure Commission appears at this time to have significant funding to challenge Justice Chambers.

Funding & PACs
A group called FAIRPAC registered on April 25th with the state as a PAC, or political action committee. FAIRPAC is going to raise money on behalf of judicial candidates Owens, Chambers, Alexander.

The arrival of FAIRPAC is good news because another PAC, the Constitutional Law PAC, has been registered since late last year. They currently only have about $4,600 in their treasury but their mission is to fund a slate of conservative judges to take out Owens, Chambers, and Alexander and they are currently actively fund raising.

A quick cross reference of Con Law PAC’s contributors shows nearly 90% overlap with donors to the James Johnson campaign—a business-friendly conservative Supreme Court candidate who took out the more liberal Mary Kay Becker in 2004. Former GOP Senator Slade Gorton is Con Law PAC’s chairman.

While there are contribution limits on judicial races in Washington state ($1400 per contributor), there are no limits on donating to PACs. That makes Con Law PAC a threatening force. According to the PI:

“Johnson was elected in 2004 with the help of more than $200,000 in campaign contributions from the Building Industry Association of Washington and its affiliates…Johnson’s BIAW money alone dwarfed the entire campaign treasury of his opponent, Mary Kay Becker.”

Mary Kay Becker raised just $157,000 in 2004 to James Johnson’s $539,000.

I’ll watch the money and donors and keep you posted as to what I discover but each of us must commit to becoming aware of the issues and the candidates to the Supreme Court. These could be the 3 most important race


From The Seattle Times:

July 27, 2006

A new Johnson gets in the Supreme Court race

Posted by David Postman at 04:47 PM

Seattle attorney Michael Johnson just filed with the Secretary of State's office in the race against Justice Susan Owens. What's most enticing about this is that already in the race is a well known Johnson, state Sen. Steve Johnson.

Friday, June 09, 2006

You GO Girl!!

The (liberal)Girl Next Door has a great post where she says Christians are destroying the fabric of our society.

It was Christians that killed “witches” in Salem, it was Christians that walked around in white robes and hoods while they lynched black men and burned down their homes, it is Christians that are willing to kill abortion doctors in an effort to get the rest of us under their God’s thumb and it is Christians that are continuing every day to promote homophobia that contributes to the violence toward, and discrimination of, gay people. Perhaps religious tolerance has outlived its usefulness in this country.

Christians are, by the millions, enjoying books that describe in gory detail the torture and annihilation of us non-believers and now they are set to unleash video games for their youth that will provide them the opportunity to live in a virtual world where killing non-believers on the streets of New York will make them winners. This scares the crap out of me because Christians already believe fantastic things that defy logic, how can we be assured that these Christian youth will be able to make the distinction between the fantasy game on their X-box and the world outside their window? Where is all the Christian outrage about violence on this one? Or are they hypocrites that find violence in the name of God laudable?

Why am I supposed to have tolerance for them when they have none for the rest of us?

I'm a Catholic so why don't I recognize the same Christianity as Ann Coulter, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, et al? My Christianity is based in the Beatitudes of Matthew 3:10. Comments about the victims of Katrina being too stupid to get out of the way and 9-11 widows should take the money and shut up and the lack of healthcare -- all prove these so-called christians are unfamiliar with these blessings. My Christianity is based in Matthew 7:1, Luke 6:37 and James 4:12 where Christ says "Judge not, that ye be not judged" -- my Christ would NEVER say that gays deserve AIDS, or women shouldn't have a vaccine that will prevent cervical cancer -- if we are sexual we deserve to die of cancer. My Jesus Christ NEVER withhold health care, charity, aid to Africa, or sanctuary to Haitians. My Jesus would render to Caesar fair taxes and wouldn't gripe about it -- he wouldn't steal social security and give it to his friends on Wall Street. He wouldn't steal taxes for his own enrichment and waste taxes for bridges to nowhere when former residents of New Orleans are homeless.

Good Christians and Catholics need to push back and out these shills for the hypocrites, hate mongers, phonies, greedy bastards, bigots, woman haters, gay bashers that they are. They are NOT Christians and we need to NOT allow them to cloak themselves in our faith -- it weakens the perception of our beliefs. We also need to insist that our church leaders speak out against these charlatans.

We need to keep doing this until Ann Coulter and her ilk SHUTS UP!!