Washblog

On Happy-ing Their Gilmores, Or, Will Body Bags Be The New Gold Watch?

We are continuing a recent theme here today in which two of my favorite topics are going to converge: Social Security and in-your-face political activism.

I have been encouraging folks to take advantage of the recent Congressional recess to have a few words with your CongressCritter about the proposed Death Of Medicare and all the proposed cuts to Social Security...and you have, as we'll discuss...and now we have an opportunity to do something on a national scale, just as we did a few weeks ago in support of Social Security.

This time, we're going to concentrate on fighting the idea that retirement ages should go up before we become eligible for Social Security and Medicare (and elements of Medicaid, as well), and that Americans should just keep right on working until the age of 67 or so--which isn't going to be any big problem...really...trust us.

Now that just makes no sense, and to help make the point we have a really cool video that you can pass around to all your friends--and your enemies, for that matter, since they'll also have to worry about what happens to them if they should ever make it to old age.  

(1 comment, 1096 words in story) Full Story

On Fighting To Win, Or, A Tale Of Two Kinds Of Democrats

If your view of politics is filtered by a lens marked "Progressive" or "Liberal", there's a pretty good chance that you've been gnashing your teeth and pulling your hair in frustration over the "give away the store, then negotiate" approach professional Democrats have used when facing the challenges from the Tea Party last year, and all that's come after.

Over and over and over people like me have written stories wondering why Democrats, starting with this President, don't get out in a very public way and slam Republican policies, over and over and over--especially when most Americans hate the things Republicans seem to love to support.

Turning over Government to the highest bidder?
Not so popular.

Going back to a heathcare system run by, for, and of the insurance industry?
Again, not so much.

Jacking up taxes and healthcare costs for you and me in order to provide another trillion in tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires?
So unpopular pollsters hardly believe it.

But there is another way, and today's story is in two parts: we're going to talk about how hard it is to get Democrats, as a group, to get loud and get aggressive--and then we're going to talk about Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, who is out there showing any reluctant Democrat just exactly how you can "grow the brand".

(3 comments, 1476 words in story) Full Story

On Open-Source Entertainment, Or, Today, Jon Kyl Meets Twitter

So Arizona Senator Jon Kyl went and did a stupid thing the other day by claiming on the floor of the Senate that 90% of what Planned Parenthood does is related to abortions, and that, by God, we need to cut that Federal funding for abortions, and we need to cut all Federal funding for Planned Parenthood--and we need to do it today.

Of course, that 90% claim was total hooey; it turns out that only 3% of Planned Parenthood's work relates to abortions. (The Federal funding for abortions part is, too; the Hyde Amendment made such funding illegal decades ago.)

When confronted, Kyl's office released a statement claiming the Senator's comments were "not intended to be a factual statement".

Sir Rev. Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, DFA, decided to have a bit of fun with Kyl, and he challenged his audience to Tweet their own "Not Intended To Be A Factual Statement" about Kyl.

I decided to compose a Tweet of my own...and then another...and before I knew it I had an entire story's worth; that's why, today, we'll be taking a taking a short break from the daily grind to have a bit of fun with a man who truly deserves it: Jon Kyl.

(1 comment, 1056 words in story) Full Story

DADT Update: The Service Chiefs Report, The Republicans Fret

There's been a great deal of concern around here about the effort to prepare the US military for the full repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT), and I've had a few words of my own regarding how long the process might take.

There was a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee last Thursday that had all four Services represented; with one exception these were the same Service Chiefs that were testifying last December when the bill to set the repeal process in motion was still a piece of prospective legislation.

At that time there was concern that the "combat arms" of the Marines and the Army were going to be impacted in a negative way by the transition to "open service"; the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Army's Chief of Staff were the most outspoken in confirming that such concerns exist within the Pentagon as well.

We now have more information to report--including the increasing desperation of some of our Republican friends--and if you ask me, I think things might be better than we thought.

(3 comments, 1855 words in story) Full Story

Social Security: Are You Ready For A Congressional "Video Staycation"?

Diligent reporter that I am, I got up Thursday morning to do a bit of fishing for a story, and as so often happens, I've caught something a bit unexpected.

Now what I have for you today starts out as a bit of insider information that came to me on background--but it turns into a chance for those of us who support Social Security to very much get in the faces of our members of Congress, for two whole weeks.

And to make it even better, I'm going to throw out a few direct action ideas "for your consideration" (as they say in Hollywood during Awards Season) that would absolutely make good street actions and YouTube videos, both at the same time...and even more importantly, we'll absolutely make some great Spring Break fun.

(1 comment, 1318 words in story) Full Story

Social Security: Get On The Phone Tuesday And Wednesday And Help Fight Cuts

So it's been about three weeks since we last had this conversation, but once again we have to take action to try to keep Social Security from being the victim of "deficit fever".

I know that doesn't make a lot of sense, considering the disconnect between Social Security and the deficit--but once again it's "Continuing Resolution" time on Capitol Hill, where some use the threat of an impending shutdown of the Federal Government to extract concessions from the other side...and some on the other side try to make points with the voters by out-conceding their opponents.

So Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, there's a national push on to get voters to call their Senators and remind them to vote for an Amendment that is a big ol' "I'm not willing to cut Social Security just because other people philosophically want to cut Government any way they can" kind of reassurance to the voters, and I'm here to encourage you, once again, to make a couple phone calls and do some pushing of your own.

I've also been storing up a couple somewhat facetious random thoughts which will be the "garnish" for today's dish; you'll see them pop up as we go along.

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On Monday Morning Philosophy, Or, Founders Tell America: "You Figure It Out"

In our efforts to form a more perfect Union we look to the Constitution for guidance for how we might shape the form and function of Government; many who seek to interpret that document try to do so by following what they believe is The Original Intent Of The Founders.

Some among us have managed to turn their certainty into something that approaches a reverential calling, and you need look no further than the Supreme Court to find such notables as Cardinals Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia providing "liturgical foundation" to the adherents of the point of view that the Constitution is like The Bible: that it's somehow immutable, set in stone, and, if we would only listen to the right experts, easily interpreted.

But what if that absolutist point of view is absolutely wrong?

What if the Original Intent Of The Founders, that summer in Philadelphia...was simply to get something passed out of the Constitutional Convention, and the only way that could happen was to leave a lot of the really tough decisions to the future?

What if The Real Original Intent...was that we work it out for ourselves as we go along?

(1 comment, 2021 words in story) Full Story

Statements of Dave Seago and Chuck West, Pierce Conservation District Candidates

As noted in a previous story, a Pierce Conservation District election is coming up Tuesday, March 29.

The two candidates are Dave Seago and Chuck West. Below are their campaign statements, received by email this afternoon. These statements were not provided on the Pierce Conservation District site when I checked this morning, neither were the candidates' names. The candidates can be contacted at daveseago2 at gmail.com and chuck-west at hotmail.com


Campaign Statement of Dave Seago

I retired in 2008 as editorial page editor for The News Tribune, ending a 40-year career as a reporter, news editor, editorial writer and opinion editor for the newspaper.  As a member of the editorial board, I was known as a strong supporter of environmental causes, including strong land-use planning, the creation of transfer development rights, wetlands protection, funding for open space acquisition and farmland preservation, among other issues.  I was approached by friends in the environmental community to seek this position, and I would be happy to serve.

 
Campaign Statement of Chuck West

A native of Pierce County, Chuck (52) was born in Tacoma in 1958. He grew up in urban and rural Pierce County attending elementary school with his grandparents in Tacoma. In the early 1970’s, when Chuck was 13-years-old his father purchased a farm about one mile outside of Gig Harbor on Peacock Hill. The family of five kids combined with a new step family of four kids, moved permanently to the Peninsula. They raised chickens and a vegetable garden with the rotating stock of cows, pigs and goats. He graduated early from Peninsula High school in 1976, attended Tacoma Community College.

Full statements are below the fold

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Pierce Conservation District Election to be held next week

A small notice on the Pierce Conservation District (PCD) site informs readers that an election for a new Conservation District Supervisor is coming up.  

The names of the candidates are not given.

The election is held at one location only: the Pierce Conservation District office (5430 66th Avenue East, Puyallup) - between 4PM and 8PM on Tuesday March 29th.

The Pierce Conservation District is a little-known agency that performs important work on a small budget.

"The Pierce Conservation District is a program that works. It garners grants to match each of its local tax dollars. It supports small businesses, including farmers, with guidance on how to be profitable and sustainable. It brings in thousands of volunteers to do some of the dirtiest work in the county for free."


What can $5 buy you? An agency that funds the dirty work, Kathleen Merryman, Tacoma News Tribune, November 8, 2010

I called Selena Corwin, Interim Executive Director of PCD, who provided the names of the candidates: Dave Seago and Chuck West.  She was not able to provide contact information but said that Mr. Seago had been affiliated with Tacoma News Tribune, and that she thought that Mr. West was a Fire Chief on the Key Peninsula.

My cursory Google search for campaign sites for these candidates came up empty. But I was able, through a few calls, to get contact information for both candidates. In a phone conversation with Chuck West, I learned that he previously ran for Pierce County Council. Here's that campaign site

Both candidate's statements have now been posted on this site.

(1 comment) Comments >>

Pacific County to sacrifice for the higher good?

Note: I write this as a tax-paying citizen with the right of freedom of speech to express my opinions. My opinions are my own and do not reflect in any way any kind of official policy or position of the Department of Social and Health Services.


Locally we've been advised by the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) of an intent to close down the local office in South Bend as soon as possible.

Apparently DSHS managers believe that the higher budgetary good will be served by tossing the residents of North Pacific County under the bus.

The savings?

Well, rent on the office space will decrease a little bit which might take a huge $10,000 bite out of a statewide 6 billion dollar budget deficit.

Utility bills at the space might create a savings of ... oh ... say another $4-5000

I wonder that perhaps the objective is not real budget savings, but more a PR attempt on the part of DSHS to make it appear they are seriously trying to help a spending problem by eliminating "eliminatable" expenses that won't generate much backlash.

Backlash?

Like hell this one won't.

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On Taking It Back, Or, Wisconsin Recalls, Explained

News is suddenly moving so fast that it's becoming hard for me to keep up; that's why we're not finishing the story today that we just began Tuesday. You know, the one about Titan Cement suing two North Carolina residents who appear to be doing nothing more than speaking the truth.

Unfortunately, other important news has forced itself to the front of the line, and it's going to demand that we break schedule, whether we like it or not.

 That's why today we're going to be talking about Wisconsin, and how workers there are fighting back against the State's Republican legislators and Governor, who seem to have gone out of their way this past three weeks to govern without the consent of the governed.

It's kind of chilly today in Wisconsin...but I can assure you, things are heating up fast--and it ain't because of spring.

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Social Security: If You Can't Kill The Program, Screw The People

There's a lot of ways to be petty and cheap and stupid, and a lot of ways to stick it to a program you don't like, and by extension, the clients of that program...and this week the House Republicans have embarked on an effort to combine the two into one petty, cheap, and stupid way to stick it to the clients of Social Security and the workers who administer the program.

They're going to sell it to you, if they can, as a way to "lower the deficit", or words similar...but what this is really about is making the actual Social Security program work less well--because, after all, if a program is popular today, the best way to make it less so is to apply a bit of "treat `em like their cars were impounded" to every interaction customers have with the system.

And what better way to make sure that happens...then to aggressively demoralize everyone who works down at the ol' Social Security office?

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Campaign Manifesto #3: On The Road, Defending Social Security

So it's Day 3 of my fake campaign for Congress, and we've run into our first obstacle

The Fake Campaign, as you may recall, is fake headed for Wisconsin, to show solidarity, and we've fake hitched a ride on a delivery truck headed for Rush Limbaugh's Florida broadcasting studios--but we fake found ourselves caught up in the all-too-real Giant Grip Of Winter that has seized the Midwest over the past week.

We're back on the road now, but we were stuck for darn near a half-day there at Wall...and if you know anything about South Dakota, you know there are really only two things to do in the City of Wall: you can shuffle back and forth between Gold Diggers and the Badlands Bar, partaking of numerous intoxicating liquors along the way...or you can head on into Wall Drug (the same one that's on all those bumper stickers and signs) and partake of the finest display of Giant Jackalopia on the planet.

The Campaign, naturally, chose Jackalopia--and that's why today's Manifesto is all about the fake impromptu 5-cent-coffee-fueled Social Security Town Hall that we held in the Wall Drug Mall for several hours while we waited for I-90 to reopen.

(1 comment, 1804 words in story) Full Story

Campaign Manifesto #2: In Which We Travel To Wisconsin

So when we were last together, as you all know, I announced that I'm fake running for Congress in Washington State's 8th District--and that I'm doing it because, so far as I know, the best way to get a candidate to truly "come out Liberal" is to be a fake candidate...and to make good and sure The Campaign isn't out chasing money when it's being done.

Having made the announcement, we're already making our first campaign trip--and oddly enough, our first trip as a Congressional candidate will take us to Madison, Wisconsin, where we'll link up with a few folks who, apparently inspired by me, have taken to the streets in a very big way.

When we get there I'll need a parka, a nice hat, a thermos of coffee, and a big fat Sharpie--so let me go get it all together, and then we'll be on our way.

(1 comment, 1251 words in story) Full Story

Campaign Manifesto #1: In A World Of Phonies, It's Time For A Fake Candidate

We have spent the past two years watching as insanity has gripped Congress, and even more so with Republicans now running the House.

We have a wavering President, far too many feckless Democrats, and Republicans that have decided to dive headfirst into total "insane mode" in a full-blown effort to destroy this country just as fast as possible.

To give but one example, in my own District, WA-08, we are represented by the absolutely useless Republican Dave Reichert, whose best-known legislative achievement is that he has virtually no record of any legislative achievement whatever.

Now we've had a very interesting relationship, you and I, over these past few years; in my efforts to "bring you the story" I've been a fake political consultant, a fake lobbyist, even a fake historian...and now, I think it's time to try to bring our relationship to a new level.

And that's why, America, I'm announcing my fake candidacy for Congress.

(1 comment, 1227 words in story) Full Story

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