Monthly Archives: October 2009

Forget The Issues. Who Needs Issues When There Are Tea Partiers To Vanquish?

I’m not sure how I got on every progressive e-mail list in the country but I managed it. It’s a constant source of entertainment. Here’s today’s missive from my good friend, James Carville.

Paula:

Remember all those socialist-hollering, Glenn Beck-worshiping, tea party wing nuts from this summer’s town hall meetings? If Sarah Palin gets her way, one of them could soon be a member of Congress.Next week marks one year since President Obama was elected. The amount of money we have in the bank will be used as an instant referendum on his first year.

With Sarah Palin out there raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to stack Congress with those tea party lunatics, the media is watching to see how Grassroots Democrats respond.

Help us raise $500,000 in response to Sarah Palin’s fundraising for the tea party nut jobs. For every dollar you give before Midnight Tuesday, a group of Democrats will match it with $2 of their own, tripling your impact.

Combat the 'Palin Effect'

Tuesday night’s deadline is a critical test of our muscle.

I’ve been getting calls all week from media pundits asking me if Palin’s fundraising means that all those tea partying members of the right-wing fringe finally have the upper hand in their fight to bring back the George Bush days of disaster.

I need you to help us respond in the strongest possible terms.

Help us raise $500,000 in response to Sarah Palin’s fundraising for the tea party nut jobs. For every dollar you give before Midnight Tuesday, a group of Democrats will match it with $2 of their own, tripling your impact.

Send a message to Sarah Palin and those tea party nutcases who think they can retake Congress. But we only have until Midnight Tuesday to act.

Thanks,

James Carville
James Carville

Before you ask, yes! James and I are so close that we are, indeed, on a first name basis. It makes Mary just a little bit jealous sometimes.

But getting down to business, one thing I particularly like about this solicitation is the very clear and concise way my dear friend James lays out the issues that are at stake for our country. What are the important issues we face?

  • Tea party Nutcases
  • Glenn Beck
  • Tea Party Wing Nuts
  • Sarah Palin
  • Tea Party Lunatics
  • Right-Wing Fringe
  • Tea Party Nut Jobs
  • And, of course, George W. Bush

Now you might be wondering on whose behalf James is writing; which far left, fringe organization would send out an appeal for funds based, not on any issues of importance, but rather on sterotypes and negative, knee-jerk reactions? MoveOn.org? CODEPINK? I wish. This fundraising gem is written on behalf of the DNCC. Yes, the Democratic National Campaign Committee. On behalf of the 250+ Democrats in the United States House of Representatives. Public employees. On behalf, as it were, of my U.S. Representative, Jay Inslee. The very same Jay Inslee who thinks that some constituents aren’t worthy of his time and consideration (and more on the same topic here). Jay doesn’t fall far from the Democrat tree, does he?

I understand that people on both ends of the political spectrum can hold passionate views that sometimes, maybe even frequently, devolve into name calling out of sheer frustration. But this is a written communication. Presumably it was reviewed and edited by numerous elected Democrats. That none of them saw any particular problems with this letter is very disturbing to me for two reasons.

First from the standpoint that I would expect elected members of Congress to show respect for all the citizens of this country. After all, we’re the ones paying their salaries. In theory, at least, they work for us. Second what does this letter say about their intended audience? If I were to receive a letter like this from the RNC, RNSC or the RNCC, I would consider it to be unacceptable and it would be highly likely that I would deliver a stinging rebuke.

I’m pretty sure the DNCC would be unaffected by my scorn so the only thing I can do is stiffen my resolve to do everything within my power to help unelect some of the folks who currently make up DNCC. Care to join in the fun?

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No Boundaries

Two troubling stories have surfaced in the last two days with regard to Dow Constantine and the race for King County Executive. On the surface, the stories appear to be unrelated, but there is a common thread.

The first story involves a case of possible inappropriate behavior towards a female employee of King County. Mark Griswold posted an update on this story today at Sound Politics that included an additional excerpt from one of the court documents. While the new information makes it clear that a formal complaint was never filed, the fact remains that someone or something in the work environment of this employee made her uncomfortable enough that she was motivated to discuss it with her supervisor. Since the Times request for records specified documents “alleging inappropriate comments or behavior by County Councilmember Dow Constantine,” we can be certain that “someone” was Dow Constantine.

The second story involves the blatantly  improper use of TVW footage in a Dow Constantine campaign ad. Greg Lane, President and CEO at TVW, released a statement Thursday.

The Dow Constantine campaign is currently broadcasting a political ad that blatantly misuses TVW programming.

snip…

Yesterday, I spoke directly to representatives of the Constantine campaign, requesting that the offending ad be pulled from the air immediately. This morning, the campaign’s lawyers responded that the Constantine campaign is refusing to abide by our request. We are disappointed with their response, which completely ignores the public interest and the tradition of respect maintained for TVW’s unique role.

snip…

By refusing to pull the offending ad, the Dow Constantine campaign is showing complete disregard for the greater public interest role TVW plays in providing citizens unbiased and unedited access to the public policy process.

Why has Constantine’s campaign refused to pull the ads? Because they’ve decided that they probably know better than TVW how the footage should be used.

So what’s the common thread here?

It appears that Dow Constantine doesn’t recognize boundaries or if he does, he doesn’t acknowledge them as applying to him personally. You know people like this; they’re always standing just a little too close or leaving their hand on your shoulder just a little too long. They don’t understand that behavior that might be appropriate in a social setting is not appropriate in the workplace. They’re people who help themselves to things off your desk when you’re not there or ask to borrow things with values out of proportion to your relationship.

You can ask people like this to leave your desk alone when you’re not there and they very well may, but that won’t stop them from helping themselves to one of the sodas you left in the refrigerator. With no internal boundaries, everything is fair game. Is that really who we need heading King County?

Getting back to TVW. It is a non-profit corporation, not operated by the government, with the majority of their operating budget coming from contracts with the State of Washington. I’m not sure what other people might think but in my mind, that makes it close enough to being government funded that using their footage in a political campaign seems off limits.

No boundaries.

Update 1: Here’s some more on Constantine’s unethical use of TVW footage from Bruce Ramsey at the Seattle Times and  P. Scott Cummins. This is a disturbing trend on the part of Washington Democrats who make it increasingly clear that rules should never stand in the way of them getting what they want.

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Seattle Times Files Legal Challenge

Bryan Myrick at Red County just broke this news:

…[T]he Seattle Times has filed a motion with King County Superior Court in challenge to the restraining order placed Wednesday on documents pursuant to a public records request by Keith Ervin of The Seattle Times in mid-October. Ervin’s request was for all documents that contained information about allegations made against current councilman and candidate for King County executive Dow Constantine of inappropriate behavior. Shortly after an undetermined number of documents was handed over by county officials to Ervin, a temporary restraining order was filed on behalf of a “Jane Doe” presumed to be named in certain papers. (Read our previous stories here and here.)

Kudos to the Seattle Times for pursuing this story. Now Mr. Constantine can rest comfortably in the knowledge that there are no obstacles to the facts of the matter being made public. Heh.

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Is Dow Constantine Having a “David Letterman” Moment?

Okay, wow. When I called Dow Constantine a smarmy politician I was just referring to his apparent level of comfort with lying about Council colleague Kathy Lambert. It appears there’s so much more. Allegations have surfaced that Constantine has been accused of sexually harassing a County employee, as Mark Griswold writes about at Sound Politics.

Rumors of Dow Constantine’s inappropriate behavior have been swirling around the political cocktail circuit since his days in Olympia but until now they haven’t gotten much traction. Fair enough. As Baz Lurhmann says, “politicians will always philander.”

But now it seems that Constantine’s work place advances may be catching up with him.

I, along with Keith Ervin of The Seattle Times, was recently tipped off about a story involving a county employee and some of this inappropriate behavior. When Mr. Ervin filed a public records request all he was given was a restraining order between Ms. Jane Doe and King County, mentioning she feared for her job security should the information contained within documents related to the public records request be released.

So Keith Ervin filed a public records request with King County and got a copy of a restraining order for his trouble. That in itself seems like a story to me but not to Ervin, who suffers from what would seem to be a career-killing lack of curiosity for a reporter. Ervin is the same reporter who apparently didn’t find it particularly disturbing that Constantine’s campaign treasurer is also the treasurer for Citizens to Uphold the Constitution, a “non-partisan” group that funded robo-calls against Susan Hutchison.

I wonder how Jane Doe knew about Ervin’s request in time to file this restraining order. Would it be standard practice to notify all interested parties when a records request is received? If not, how did Jane Doe know about the request? Does she really fear the loss of her job if this information is made public? If so, what does that say about the employment environment at King County? Is she cooperating in protecting Constantine? If so, why? Was she pressured into doing so?

So many questions but one thing seems clear: if there were no truth to the allegation about a sexual harassment complaint, Ervin’s request would not have resulted in a restraining order being filed. And how convenient that the order will be in effect until after the ballot deadline.

Update 1: Speaking on the Kirby Wilbur Show, Mark Griswold states that the attorney who filed the restraining order, Tyler Firkins, has a track record of filing restraining orders on “behalf” of plaintiffs without their knowledge. So a new question arises: Who hired Firkins? Was it Jane Doe? A union interested in Constantine becoming King County Executive? Firkins’ old law school chum, Dow Constantine?

Update 2: The Seattle Times felt that the information contained in private documents relating to Susan Hutchison and KIRO TV was so vital, they sued to have them released, but apparently the public information concerning a possible sexual harassment claim against Dow Constantine is, you know, not that big of a deal. Yawn.

Update 3: Rumor has it that the Seattle Times did in fact receive numerous documents in response to Keith Ervin’s request prior to the restraining order being filed, but that Ervin is sitting on the story.

More on this story from Bryan Myrick at Red County.

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Smarmy Politician, Lying Loser Or Both?

Smarmy politician? Lying loser?

Smarmy politician? Lying loser?

The Seattle Times hosted an online Q&A session yesterday with King County Executive candidate, Dow Constantine. I’ll admit that the question I most wanted to ask was, “Why are you such a smarmy jerk,” but the site cautioned that personal attacks weren’t allowed. Today’s news (here, here and here), however, raises the question again.

Why smarmy? How else do you describe someone who’s willing to cover his own sorry rear end by lying about a colleague? How else do you describe someone who’s willing to risk lives and property for the sake of a ferry district that serves primarily his own constituents? I mean, what’s it to him? His district isn’t in much danger of flooding.

More importantly, does a guy who’s willing to strong arm his colleagues on the King County Council  over a questionable issue such as the Vashon Island foot ferry have the temperament to lead King County through a budget minefield largely of his own making?

Random thought: Constantine has “denied” the charges of vote trading, but he has not “refuted” them. If it’s true that the e-mail in question “was one line in many, many e-mails and it was just between me and one of my staff people in a moment of frustration,” then he should release the many, many e-mails that paint a clearer picture of his support for the flood district. Not that it would actually prove anything; one hardly needs to exercise one’s imagination to picture a politician who’s willing to sacrifice a worthy project on the altar of a pet project.

Considering that three other Council members have corroborated Lambert’s contention, it’s highly unlikely that Constantine can get himself off the hook. Facts: easy to deny, hard to refute.

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Experience Is As Experience Does

In the King County Executive race, you might think that one area where Dow Constantine would have a clear advantage over his opponent, Susan Hutchison, would be real world, county government experience. Instead, Hutchison and her allies have turned a negative into a positive by going on the offensive against Constantine.

Watch this ad; it’s a marvel of factual correctness, it’s humorous and it shreds Constantine’s experience as worse than worthless.

This brings up the question, if Constantine has any answers, where’s he been hiding them since 2002?

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I Heart NewsFifty

heart02Yes. Yes, I do.

One of the biggest challenges I face as a blogger isn’t that I lack access to news sources; the internet puts ample information at my fingertips. It seems as though it would be a simple matter to subscribe to the RSS news feeds of your preferred sources and you’d be home free. The reality is that it’s not that simple – especially if you’re blogging local issues where the quality and flexibility of the feeds vary widely from source to source. It’s a real frustration, not to mention a time waster, to sort through mountains of information to find the significant stories as you’re force fed recipes, gossip and high school sports.

Enter NewsFifty.  Don’t be tempted to write it off as “just another Drudge knock off.” For starters, they recently unveiled a new look that’s modern, clean and easy to read. I especially like the nifty ticker at the top that scrolls through top headlines from each of the 50 states but what really sets NewsFifty apart from other news aggregation sites is the map on the upper left-hand side. Click any state to view all the top headlines, as well as listings of news links and blogs, specific to that state. If NewsFifty is a handy resource for bloggers, it’s invaluable for busy people who don’t live and breathe news yet want desperately to stay informed and don’t have time to sit down in the evening and spend an hour or two leafing through the local paper.

NewsFifty doesn’t completely replace digging through local news sources, but it’s a good starting point. Check it out.

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