Friday, October 31, 2003

The enemy of my enemy...

The National Rifle Association has compiled an enemies list, and Ellen Goodman, for one, is disappointed that her name doesn't appear there beside the AFL-CIO, the American Medical Association, the ACLU, the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, the PTA and individuals including C. Everett Koop, Michael Eisner, Shania Twain, Jimmy Carter and Molly Ivins. That barely scratches the surface. The NRA, it seems, has lots of enemies.

They've got some friends, too, though, including former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, who won the NRA's 'A' rating by signing on against waiting periods for gun purchases and against an assault weapons ban. He's singing a different song on the campaign stump these days, leading to NRA charges that his position is "schizophrenic," but consistency doesn't seem to be Dean's long suit on any number of issues.

Still, he's still courting the gun vote, telling the Seattle P-I's Joel Connelly "My gun policy is more conservative than most Democrats." Who knows exactly how conservative, though. His postion might best be described as 'fluid.'

In response to the news, John Kerry fired back "As a candidate and as President, I will never pander to the extremist NRA for personal or political expediency. I will beat the NRA." Seems that Kerry, like Goodman, would rather find himself on the long list of the NRA's enemies than find himself fruitlessly pandering for red state voters by compromising the Democratic Party's well established support for federal gun control standards.

Personally, I like to think of myself as a moderate on the gun control issue. Guns don't scare me. I've been around them all my life, and I tend to think of them as tools. On the other hand, I can't think of a single reasonable civilian use for the M-16 I carried in Vietnam, and there's stuff on the streets today a lot more potent than that was. Kerry's right. The NRA position is extremist, and if Dean wants to be the Democratic standard bearer, he should be disavowing the support they've offered him over the years, not bragging about it.

If the NRA inadvertently left you off their enemies list, you can petition to get on it at

Ruderman for Secretary of State

AP political scribe David Ammons reports that State Rep. Laura Ruderman (D-45) will take on Republican incumbent Sam Reed for Secretary of State next year. Three victories in a staunchly Republican district have proven Ruderman (an early Kerry endorser, btw) is a talented campaigner with a broadly appealing message.

Read the whole piece and see just what a nasty piece of work Republican State Party Chair Chris Vance can be...

A Halloween treat...

Dan Conley suspendes his deanblog (it wasn't what you think) and launches a new site with a gem of a commentary on the Camille Paglia interview with Salon.

"Yes, her columns, interviews and books are like candy bars, tasty and fun and very, very bad for you." sez Dan.

He's right, too. Read it all.

Road Trips

John Kerry's daughter Vanessa brought her "Dorm Storm" tour to Washington yesterday, with stops at Western Washington University in Bellingham and the University of Washington in Seattle before joining Seattle For Kerry volunteers for a meet and greet in the evening.

She wasn't alone in town, though. Howard Dean rolled in for a couple stops of his own. The Seattle Times makes much of his appearance at an SEIU sponsored town hall meeting on home health care issues, but little of the $1000 a plate campaign lunch that filled his idle hours. $1000 a plate, Howard? How, ummm, grass-roots of you. I wonder how many of those home health care workers were able to pony up for that noon time snack?

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Recovery Coverage

The headlines are full of plaudits for the White House because of the strong economic growth reported in the last quarter. Of course, we haven't seen the readjustments that always seem to follow with less fanfare yet, but I'm the last one to say that a growing economy isn't a good thing.

Still, while the press seems to be giving major credit for the good new to the Bush tax cuts, anyone paying attention would notice that the particular cuts - especially the child credit - that are being cited aren't Bush cuts at all. The tax cuts that are rebuilding the economy are the Democratic tax cuts for working Americans.

That's one of the most frustrating things about watching the Dean strategy. He'd have us believe that the Bush administration put those middle class tax cuts in there to appease working folks. Nothing could be further from the truth. First, it's a mistake to give Bush any credit for caring one way or another about working folks, and second, those cuts were put in at the insistence of Democrats in order to actually help working folks. Turns out the Democrats were right again!

So stop giving Bush credit he doesn't deserve, Doc. Instead, let's give a big hurrah to Congressional Democrats who did the right thing for working people, which turns out to be the right thing for the American economy.

Crossfire, revisited...

Tom Hayden has some kind words for Kerry's appearance with Christopher Matthews, via Alternet. For instance...

"...Kerry managed to project the gravitas of a president amidst this carnival, and that he may yet succeed."


"What came through in the interview was a reassuring reminder of Kerry's experience... "

Hmmm, gravitas, reassuring, experience. That sounds like my kind of candidate, alright!

more here...

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Northwest note

The Washington State Attorney General's race heats up with the entry of former Seattle City Attorney Mark Sidran. He'll take on former Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn in the primary.

This should be an interesting contest. As City Attorney, Sidran played the 'tough cop' role against polluters and put together a strong domestic violence unit, but drew heat from local liberals over his 'civility' laws, which some saw as hostile to minorities and the homeless. Senn was hard on the insurance industry and a champion of seniors. Both are strong personalities with strong views. Fans of politics as spectator sport will be crowding the sidelines for this one.

Oh, yeah. There's a Republican, too. I'll let someone else worry about him.

Why we're right.

Scott Lehigh's report in the Boston Globe demonstrates why the Democratic Congress was right to force the R's to adopt middle class tax reform and why Kerry is right to insist that those reforms be protected.

"Consider these numbers from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

Fully 31.5 percent of joint filers (married couples) got a tax break of between $2,001 and $5,000, with an average tax cut $3,096. Another 18 percent of joint filers saw their tax burden fall by between $1,201 and $2,000, with an average reduction of $1,622. In all, 54 percent of joint filers got a tax break of between $1,001 and $5,000.

When it comes to families with children, 40 percent got a tax break ranging from $2,001 to $5,000 (average: $3,151), while another 30 percent got a tax cut of $1,201 to $2,000 (average: $1,624)."

That's 'what middle-class tax cut,' Governor.

The Wilson case...

In a must-read update of the the Valerie Wilson case, the Nation's David Corn notes that "...the original leak is not the only aspect of the controversy that deserves scrutiny. Nor is it the only potential vulnerability for the White House. There is evidence the White House sought to exploit the leak after it occurred."

Now it looks like the White House itself is not the only venue for scrutiny, Murray Waas reports in the Village Voice. " Of particular interest, the two sources said, were contacts between White House officials and the Republican National Committee during the burgeoning scandal. "

It's hard to keep a story like this on the front pages, what with a war going on and all, but it's not going away, either. I'm on the 'appoint a special prosecutor' side, I suppose, but so far it looks like the career investigators at DOJ are turning over a lot of the right rocks and finding a lot of the expected slimy, crawly things underneath.

The news is spreading already!

The New York Congressional Delegation is fast becoming Kerry Country, with Rep. Carolyn McCarthy and Rep. Tim Bishop joining Reps Carolyn Maloney, Louise Slaughter and Greg Meeks on the Kerry endorsement list.

The additions bring the Kerry Congressional endorsement tally to 19, second only to fomer House Leader Dick Gephardt. The Kerry Senate list is coast to coast, with Ted Kennedy (MA) and Dianne Feinstein (CA) on board.

Who you callin' Bush-lite, buddy?

Well, if you're Dick Gephardt, that would be Howard Dean...

"The fact is, we need a Democratic nominee who is clearly different from George Bush," the presidential candidate told roughly 80 senior citizens at the midday speech at an east-side senior center. "But on all these Medicare issues, there is very little difference between George Bush and Howard Dean."

If, on the other hand, you're Al Sharpton, it would be, why, Howard Dean!

"Any so-called African-American leader that would endorse Dean despite his anti-black record is mortgaging the future of our struggle for civil rights and social justice to back a candidate whose record on issues of critical importance to us is no better than that of George W. Bush."

Remember, Governor, when you point a finger, there are four more pointing back at you. That's two - I'm sure there's more to come...

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Stop whining, George...

No, not that George. Rep. George Nethercutt (R, WA 05), has bought ads to complain about the coverage of his recent remarks on Iraq.

Here's what the Seattle P-I reported:

'The P-I reported Oct. 14 that Nethercutt said Iraq's reconstruction was going better than news media portrayed it and that he added, "The story of what we've done in the postwar period is remarkable. ... It is a better and more important story than losing a couple of soldiers every day."

The story, paraphrasing Nethercutt's next words, said the congressman "added that he did not want any more soldiers to be killed."

and here's what he said in full:

"So the story is better than we might be led to believe in the news. I'm just indicting the news people, but it's, it's a bigger and better and more important story than losing a couple of soldiers every day which, which heaven forbid is awful."

Sorry, George, the story is worse than you want to believe, and calling attention to your foolishness won't help. You're right about one thing. Losing a couple of soldiers every day is awful. So awful, in fact, that there's no story bigger or more important. If you don't get that, then heaven forbid you get the US Senate seat you've got your eye on!

(Another) Good question...

Will Saletan poses the question in Slate, and America wants to know...

"Part of the problem is that the average middle-class person's share of the tax cuts, while low, isn't zero. As Kerry points out, for people with kids, it's substantial. Another part of the problem, noted by Kerry and Joe Lieberman, is that the middle-class portion of the tax cut was originally pushed by congressional Democrats. But the biggest problem is Dean's stated reason for repealing that middle-class portion: that he has to do so in order to balance the budget. If the amount of money involved is so small that you don't need it as a taxpayer, why is it so big that Dean needs it as president?"

So, Governor, why?

Start spreading the news...

Good news on the endorsement front in New York, New York, from the official Kerry blog...

"Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Manhattan & Queens) endorsed John Kerry on Monday at a Manhattan news conference outside the firehouse of Engine Company 44, a firefighting unit that had previously been slated for closure. She was joined by Senator Kerry and union officials representing New York City firefighters who are supporting his candidacy."

Maloney, Chair of the House Democratic Task Force on Homeland Security, joins her fellow NY Reps Louise Slaughter and Greg Meeks on the Kerry endorsement list.

One nation, underinsured, with care and coverage for some...

According to this piece from USA Today, it looks like we may get a single payer health plan sooner than we think - everybody can pay one corporation for whatever the corporation wants to offer....

"Health insurers announced deals Monday that if approved will consolidate coverage for about 46 million U.S. residents -- nearly 27% of all those who have private health insurance -- under two companies.
''The country is headed toward a health care system dominated by a few publicly traded companies that operate primarily in the interest of shareholders,'' said American Medical Association President Donald Palmisano in a written statement. "

Good question....

The LA Times Ron Brownstein recounts this exchange in his overview of Sunday's Presidential debate:

"Dean has argued that he was looking for ways to stabilize Medicare for the long term, not to retrench it. But Dean threw new fuel on the fire earlier this month, when he said in an Iowa Public Television interview that "We're going to have to limit the growth of entitlement programs."

After immediate criticism from Gephardt and Kerry, Dean issued a statement that "under a Dean administration, cuts to Medicare are off the table." He reiterated that position Sunday. But that inspired the pointed jab from Kerry: "Now, if he just took Social Security and Medicare off the table, the question is, what entitlements are on the table? Veterans' pensions? Food stamps? Medicaid? Social disability?"

Good question, Governor. C'mon, fess up.

Monday, October 27, 2003

When the only tool you have is a hammer...

"What is it about taxes and House Republicans? The GOP representatives seem to be hooked on using tax cuts to kill pain radiating from any responsible governance..."

So begins an editorial look by the Seattle P-I at the latest scheme to make the rich richer at the expense of the American economy with another $60 billion corporate tax cut.

War hero? Check. Distinguished Senator? Check. Best Selling Author? We'll see...

The Chicago Sun-Times offers a review of John Kerry's A Call To Service...

"In A Call to Service: My Vision for A Better America (Viking, $24.95), Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) tells his story and gives an indication where he would take the country if elected as the next president. It's a thoughtful book and worthwhile reading for anyone interested in the Democratic presidential race..."

Order now for holiday delivery!

The LA Times (free registration required) offers the best line from last night's debate in Detroit...

"In one of the evening's lighter moments, Kerry was asked about his reputation for being standoffish and too cerebral to connect with average voters.

"Wait till you see my video," he deadpanned. " 'Kerry Gone Wild.' " The partisan crowd of 3,000 guests howled in appreciation."

What's up, Doc?

Thinking about Paul Wellstone and the effort to honor him by passing legislation to assist people with mental illness sent me off in search of more information on the issue, which led me to this distressing piece from the Boston Globe...

"In his run for president, former governor Howard Dean moved early to stake out the territory of mental health for himself, delivering a speech Sept. 12 that promised "real solutions to the mental health care crisis" and holding up the Vermont system as a model. But the state's neglected mental hospital shows the limits of the Vermont success story. Last month the hospital lost its right to collect an annual $700,000 in funds from Medicaid and Medicare -- a rare sanction that was brought against only one psychiatric hospital in the country last year, of 477 that receive the funds..."

Read the article and wonder why this guy should be setting health care policy - for mental or any illness - for the nation.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Senate R's dishonor fallen colleague

The Senate Republican's aren't about to let their House counterparts take all the credit for outrageous conduct, as the Seattle Times reports...

"WASHINGTON — Marking the one-year anniversary of Paul Wellstone's death yesterday, Democratic senators failed to win passage of one of the late senator's top crusades: legislation to mandate equal health-insurance coverage for mental illnesses.

Although the bill has the support of two-thirds of the Senate, Republicans blocked an effort to pass the bill by unanimous consent..."

That's right, even though the legislation has plenty of support for passage, the Republican's thought that the chance to dishonor Paul Wellstone's memory was too good to pass up.

Have you no shame, Senators? At long last, have you no shame?

Put on your high heel sneakers....

Good news from this note in the Seattle P-I. Looks like Senator Patty Murray is outstripping her announced challenger, Rep. George Nethercutt, about four to one in the fundraising department, if you include the surplus in Nethercutt's House campaign fund. Even better, Nethercutt will have to refund some of that House money to get compliant with the FEC.

This race could offer Washington voters a terrific trifecta - re-elect an excellent US Senator, get rid of an awful US Congressman and re-capture former Speaker Tom Foley's old seat in the 8th Congressional District. Now that's a big payoff!

We're not gonna take it!

To listen to some Democratic Presidential aspirants, you'd think that the Congressional Democrats just roll over silently for every Republican outrage. Of course, being subjected to outrageous treatment is pretty standard when the Republicans are in the majority, but that hardly keeps our team quiet.

In response to Republican appropriations boss Ralph Regula's most recent outrage (see the previous item) it didn't take long to draw an approprialely outraged response from Rep. Dave Obey (D-Wisc).

"The 205 Congressional Districts represented by House Democrats contain more than 130 American taxpayers." he said. "To tell those people that they will receive no portion of a $1 billion pot of the nation's tax dollars because they are represented by a Member of Congress who supports more money for their schools is not only in my judgment unethical but represents a fundamental corruption of the legislative process."

There's more, and it's worth a look, at TAPPED, the excellent weblog from the fine people at The American Prospect magazine.

This is the kind of message we need from our Democratic Reps - the target is the health, welfare, jobs and education of you and your neighbors and the Republican Congress won't stop till they've hurt us all.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

They're at it again...

According to The Hill -

"The House Republican leadership has endorsed an effort by Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), an appropriations cardinal, to punish Democrats en masse for their blanket opposition to the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education spending package.

Regula’s plan to redirect all potential Democratic earmarks to vulnerable Republicans would breathe new life into a principle that Republican leaders have long wanted their more accommodating appropriators to enforce: If Democrats vote against appropriations bills, they shouldn’t expect special projects earmarked for their districts."

Of course, when they say they want to 'punish Democrats' by withholding funds for district projects, they mean they want to punish the people - D, R or otherwise - who live in the districts and need the jobs, services and facilities those projects represent. In other words, if you live in a Congressional District represented by a Democrat, they want to punish you.

Stories like this provide a powerful reminder why, while Presidential politics are important, we need to keep our eye on recapturing the Congress, too. In many ways that's more important than taking the White House, IMO.

The Dream Will Never Die

Paul Wellstone - 7/21/1944 - 10/25/2002

Friday, October 24, 2003

Another reason I've always been proud to be a Democrat

This too, from the Seattle Times -

"By the thinnest possible margin, Senate Democrats yesterday blocked a bill that would have forced many class-action lawsuits out of plaintiff-friendly state courts and into federal courts that corporate defendants prefer.

Republicans fell one vote short of the 60 needed to compel the Senate to take up the class-action bill. The vote was 59-39 to break a Democratic filibuster. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., both voted against debating the legislation."

One more time, the Senate Democrats block the bad guys. That's right, our side, even the ones who work in D.C., are the good guys.

(gratuitous Dean bash warning) You hear that, Governor?

Be scared. Be very scared.

I like to think that I travel in pretty wide circles and stay fairly well in touch with what's going on around me, but ultimately I'm the kind of guy that watches primary debates, reads lefty political blogs and sits through interminable political meetings like they're actually enjoyable in some sense. Your basic +++++ on the political geek scale.

There's another world out there, though, and it's populated by people that are nearly unimaginable sometimes, like some of the folks in this piece I found in the Seattle Times....

"Douglas Grunklee might be the Democratic Party's worst nightmare.

The independent voter and Catholic schoolteacher complains that President Bush "lied to get us into Iraq," that he is "allowing too much corruption," that he is "taking care of the top 1 or 2 percent" of rich people at the expense of everyone else, that his tax cuts haven't stoked the economy, and that Attorney General John Ashcroft is "crushing the Constitution."

Grunklee's preferred candidate for 2004? President Bush."


"Dated Dean, Married Kerry"

It's not too hard for me to slip into Dean-bashing mode. Something about the guy just aggravates me, even when I agree with him. I don't need a candidate, any candidate, to make me proud to be a Democrat again, for instance. I've always been proud to be a Democrat, thank you very much.

But I try to control the impulse, because I know this scrimmage is just an intramural tuneup for the big game to come. Still, news like this makes me smile....

A Vision Of Things
By John P. Gregg - Valley News Staff Writer

"U.S. Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign got a small boost yesterday from an Upper Valley lawmaker. State Rep. Ruth Bleyler, a Lyme Democrat, decided to back the Massachusetts Democrat after initially endorsing former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean earlier this year.

Bleyler, a retired environmental scientist and first-term lawmaker, said Kerry's experience in international relations and “statesman”-like presence prompted her to switch candidates.

“He's somebody you can look at and say, ‘Yes, I want you to be talking to other countries and other nations and doing the right things,' ” Bleyler said. “I also think Kerry has a grasp of a big picture, and has more of a vision of things as a whole than Dean does.”"

Thursday, October 23, 2003

It's In The P.I.

In non-Presidential news, Joel Connelly covers the first showcase event for the next Washington Gubenatorial Primary. It was a bi-partisan affair, except the Republicans don't actually have a candidate yet, so their likely, but unannounced, lead player was in the audience instead of on the stage.

There are three Democrats, though, all capable people who I've supported for various positions in the past. I'm definitely leaning toward former State Senator and Supreme Court Justice Phil Talmadge, but there's no doubt that Attorney General Christine Gregoire or King County Executive Ron Simms are head and shoulders above anybody the R's can come up with.

This should be a fun one to watch.

Kerry's Coming To Town!

No, not that one. At the Seattle Meetup tonight, it was reported that John's daughter Vanessa is bringing her 'Dorm Storm' tour to Washington next week. There will be stops at Western Washington University and the University of Washington, at least.
Details should be on the Seattle For Kerry website when they're available.

We also learned that the headquarters is up and running in Seattle's Pioneer Square and field staff is hired and on the job around the state. This was definitely our most focused and productive Meetup so far, with lots of new faces. I even got a chance to promote this blog a little bit. If you heard about it there, say hi in the comments.

Kerry Meetup Tonight!

It's that time again. Kerry Meetups will be held across the country tonight. Here's your chance to get informed and involved in electing the next President of the United States. If you haven't signed up for Meetup, just click over to

A volunteer's view....

Seattle For Kerry volunteer Nick Hodges has been making the rounds of local Democratic Party meetings on behalf of Sen. Kerry, and the S4K website has put the text of his remarks online. It's well worth taking a look at.

I might have said some of it differently, but I couldn't have said any of it better. Way to go, Nick!

Some of that promised regional content....

A tip of my American Legion blue cap to Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) who managed to get a little bit of lemonade out of Shrub's $87 billion lemon. Apparently she managed to add language to the appropriation that says that the Pentagon has to start counting the activation of Reservists and Guard members at the time they're actually called up instead of waiting until they've been deployed overseas. That can cut months off the time these men and women are away from their jobs and families.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Just So You Know...

Like I said, I'm a proudly partisan Democrat, and I've got a keen interest in seeing Shrub & Co. driven out of office, and I've decided that John Kerry is the best candidate for the job. Kerry's got a little catch-up to do on the blog front, and I intend to use this space accordingly. Not exclusively, because we've got some interesting things going on here in the upper left corner of the contiguous states, but this space is Kerry country.

Here We Go!

With a thirty-some year track record as a Democratic Party consultant, candidate and activist, there's no way I'm going to claim to be 'fair and balanced.' Nope, Upper Left will be proudly partisan. I was born and raised in a New Deal Democratic home, and time came to choose a candidate on my own, I got Clean For Gene back in 1968. In 1972, I came home from Vietnam and went to work for George McGovern. In the intervening years, I've worked with and for dozens of Democrats running for everything from small town city councils to POTUS. Now I've got a spot to spout off what I think I've learned and what I think is right and wrong on the current political scene. I hope to offer a regional focus, too, from my vantage point in the suburbs of Seattle (close enough to town to proudly claim Jim McDermott as my personal Congresscritter). Now I just have to figure out the functional side of this thing...