Friday, October 24, 2014

Ranking: Washington is the most Democratic state in the nation

Posted By on Fri, Oct 24, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Washington is the most blue state in the country, followed by Minnesota, Oregon and California, according to a new analysis from The Hill newspaper in Washington, D.C. 

The Hill examined congressional delegations, legislative make-up and voting trends from past presidential elections in every state. In Washington, The Hill noted, voters have chosen a Democratic president in the past seven elections. Washington also has two Democratic senators, six Democratic House representatives (out of 10), three recent Democratic governors and a Democratic-controlled state Legislature. 

On the opposite end of the political spectrum is Alabama, the most Republican state in the nation, followed by Alaska, Idaho and Kansas. 

You can read the full ranking here.
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

45 insane, inspiring and/or insightful Matt Shea quotes

Posted By on Thu, Oct 23, 2014 at 12:04 PM


Rep. Matt Shea doesn't like to talk with the local media. He's even blocked us and deleted our questions on occasion. 

To his credit, last week he gave the Inlander a half-hour phone interview for this week's story about the 4th District campaign — though never called back for his promised followup interview. 

Shea has gone on the record a hell of a lot more elsewhere. He's given speech after speech to group after group and has over 150 podcasts to his name.  He's a speaker prone to parallel construction, to applause lines and rhetorical climaxes. 

He's also a speaker who says things that drive some crazy and make others say, "Amen, brother." 

I've tried to pick out some of his more interesting, controversial, and applauded statements, straight from Shea's mouth. When possible, I've provided links to the full speech and to the occasional bit of extra information, so you can check out the context surrounding the quote. I've bolded key words to make skimming easier.

Share your favorite, or add your own in the comments. 

Alex Jones interview (February 2009) 

1. “I am aware of what you’re talking about with FEMA camps. What is particularly disturbing about that is they are going to be on former military bases. A ton of people have expressed their concerns that what they’re building are prison camps.” (Read Shea's explanation for these comments here.)

2. “It’s great to be with you gun-toting, 10ther, pro-life, Austrian-economics, home-schooling, redoubt-living, Constitutionalist patriots this evening. I think that covers the SPLC's list.” 

3. “Where have we come as a country, when loving the Constitution, being a patriot, loving Jesus is extremist? Let me tell you what I think is extreme, is a president who was raised by communists, taught by communists, who was supported by communists, and whose self-appointed, self-admitted heroes are communists. And that, I think, is un-American.”

4. “You know, we’ve been right on everything, haven’t we? We told people about drones five years ago, didn’t we? We told people about the NSA five years ago, didn’t we? We told them about indefinite detention. We told them you can’t come after the internet, that’s unconstitutional. You can’t do warrantless searches, that’s unconstitutional."

5. “We need to prepare for the inevitable collapse that’s going to happen. Yes, I say that as a politician on stage. It’s going to happen. We should look it at as an opportunity, not as something to be afraid of."

6. “Number one, we need to get in shape, number two we need to shoot, number three, we need to learn self-defense, and number four, we need to study small-unit tactics... If you do not have 5,000 rounds of .223, 5,000 rounds of .22 and 1,000 rounds of handgun ammo, as a MINIMUM, you’re wrong. We need to train our families how to shoot as well. We need to get food. We need to have a year's supply of food, two years supply of seeds, we need to have a year's supply of sundry items. That's what it means to be an American. We prepare for the worst but hope for the best."

7. “We had pastors testifying in favor of gun control. And they were quoting the Bible, too, for it. And there were no pastors on the other side testifying against gun control... I had to literally open up my Bible and read scripture to these pastors in a hearing in Olympia. A politician had to read scripture to pastors.”

8. We need to understand that being an accomplice or accessory to those who seek to enslave our posterity, is no better than being the folks that are locking the chains themselves."

9. "We need to ask ourselves a question: Do we trust God? Is he not the same yesterday, today, and forever? And if he is, then how is compromise a strategy? It's not a strategy, it's wholesale surrender."

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

General Election Voters' Pamphlets going out this week

Posted By on Tue, Oct 14, 2014 at 12:30 PM


Throughout this week, the pamphlet for the Nov. 4 General Election finds its way to 3.2 million households all over the state of Washington to help you become the most informed voter you can be. 

According to the Washington Constitution, every household is required to receive a pamphlet, and to make it more accessible, Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish, and audio, plain text and Word document versions are available. 

Initiatives on the ballot this fall include: 
- Initiative 1351, an effort to lower class sizes in public schools 
- Initiative 591, which would loosen gun control
- Initiative 594, which would tighten gun control

The pamphlet features more in-depth information about these initiatives in addition to background on state candidates.

Keep an eye on your mailbox, and if you don't receive you pamphlet by Oct. 22, call the Voter Hotline at (800) 448-4881, email [email protected], or stop by your local post office, long-term care center, disability service center or library where additional copies are available.  
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The Pakootas for Congress campaign launches its first TV ad

Posted By on Tue, Oct 14, 2014 at 9:45 AM

A screenshot of the Pakootas campaign's new TV commercial - PAKOOTAS FOR CONGRESS
  • Pakootas for Congress
  • A screenshot of the Pakootas campaign's new TV commercial

Fifth district congressional candidate Joe Pakootas released his first campaign commercial yesterday.

The 30-second spot features a narrator commending Pakootas' support of "equal pay for equal work" and his belief that women's healthcare decisions "should be made between a woman and her doctor — not a woman and her boss." The ad is bookended by personal endorsements from Heather Foley, wife of former 5th district congressman and Speaker of the House Tom Foley.  

No surprise here: Campaign manager Susan Brudnicki says the ad was designed specifically to target women voters. It debuted on network channels yesterday and airs on cable today. You can catch it during commercial breaks for the Today show, Ellen DeGeneres, Live with Kelly and Michael, and network news.

Pakootas, a Democrat, is vying for Republican incumbent Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers' seat. He's been vastly outraised by the congresswoman, 12 to 1, and until last week, couldn't afford any TV or radio ads.

“We wanted to reach out and let them know that a lot of the issues Cathy has voted against impact woman and that Joe is supportive and will work to strengthen those things she has voted against,” Brudnicki told the Inlander, "like the Violence Against Women Act and equal pay legislation. ...All the things that Cathy has voted against all these years impact women in some fashion or another, whether it be cutting food stamps from the SNAP program or not extending unemployment insurance."  

In 2012, McMorris Rodgers opposed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act passed by the Senate, which added new protections for LGBT people, Native Americans and undocumented immigrants, and sponsored a stripped-down version of the bill in the House. She ultimately voted for the Senate's version of bill a year later. She also voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and Paycheck Fairness Act in 2009. 

The candidates held their first debate at Whitman College in Walla Walla last week. They'll square off again on October 30 at the Lincoln Center. The debate, sponsored by Greater Spokane Incorporated, starts at 4pm and costs $10 to attend. Click here to register to attend. 

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Poll: 60 percent of voters favor I-594 for universal background checks

Posted By on Mon, Oct 13, 2014 at 1:54 PM

Although both of Washington's conflicting gun-control measures are losing support, the majority of voters still prefer Initiative 594, the measure to expand criminal background checks for all gun sales, according to a new poll by Elway Research.

In the latest poll, released this morning, 60 percent of voters surveyed said they would "definitely" or "probably" vote for I-594. Meanwhile, 39 percent said they were more likely to support its rival measure on Election Day, Initiative 591, which would prohibit the state from enacting any additional background checks except those mandated by the federal government.

Support for the competing measures has been declining since April when voter majorities paradoxically favored both. This change may indicate that voters are less confused about the similarly titled initiatives than they were six months ago.  

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Friday, October 3, 2014

WA Senate Democrats announce plan to override Hobby Lobby decision

Posted By on Fri, Oct 3, 2014 at 4:48 PM

Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent
  • Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent
Unhappy with the U.S. Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision in June? A group of Washington state senators said they've found a way to neutralize the court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate in Washington state.

In an announcement outside a Hobby Lobby store in Seattle on Thursday, five state senate Democrats – Sen. Karen Keiser, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, David Frockt, Kevin Ranker and Jamie Pedersen — introduced a proposal that would make access to birth control a fundamental employee right, regardless of an employer's objection to providing contraceptive coverage on religious grounds. Citing the Washington Law Against Discrimination, the proposed bill would give women recourse to take legal action if their employer-based health insurance plan won't pay for their birth control. 

"If you are working for an employer who treats one class of employees differently, and puts a burden on and barriers up to one class of employees...that's the definition of discrimination," Keiser, D-Kent, told the Inlander over the phone. Keiser said the senators have been working on this legislation since mid-July. They plan to introduce the bill at the start of the 2015 session. 

"There are very serious health and economic issues involved when you have unplanned pregnancies and unplanned births," Keiser said. "We have to remind people there's a reason birth control is important. Not only is it an individual right, it's really a way to have healthy families and kids.

We interviewed U.S. Senator Patty Murray, D-Washington, about the Hobby Lobby case in April. After the Supreme Court's ruling in June, Murray spearheaded a bill to override the justices' decision, but the measure failed to garner enough votes to move forward.  

Of course, with the November election just weeks away, senate Democrats are hoping their latest proposal will draw voters to the polls.

"If we end up with an outcome that doesn't change what party is in the majority [in the Senate]," Keiser said, "we can finalize the proposed bill, but it will never become law under the Republican majority because, unfortunately, birth control is a partisan issue." 
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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Q&A with Seattle venture capitalist, minimum-wage activist and one-percenter Nick Hanauer

Posted By on Thu, Oct 2, 2014 at 11:35 AM

Nick Hanauer
  • Nick Hanauer
Nick Hanauer is filthy, stinkin' rich. The Seattle-based venture capitalist and serial entrepreneur has started or funded more than 30 different companies. He was one of the first major investors in a small bookseller start-up you may have heard of: Amazon.com. Seven years ago, he sold one of his businesses, an Internet advertising company called aQuantive, to Microsoft for $6.4 billion in cash. 

A self-professed "proud and unapologetic capitalist," he's also an unlikely advocate for raising the minimum wage and reducing income inequality in our country. Last week, Hanauer spoke with the Inlander over the phone ahead of his lecture this evening at the Fox Theater. The event, hosted by the Thomas S. Foley Institute at Washington State University, is free to attend and starts at 7:30 pm. For more information, click here. (His responses have been lightly edited for length.)

INLANDER: Your Politico Magazine article this summer, a memo to your "fellow zillionaires," and 2012 TED Talk on inequality both have gone viral. Why do you think your arguments have resonated with so many people?

The first reason is that economic inequality is a much bigger problem in our country than it once was. The income share of the richest one percent has tripled over the last few decades while everyone else’s income has stagnated, so ordinary people are feeling the effects of economic inequality in a more and more palpable and real way in their everyday lives. The subject is very much on most people's mind.

The second thing is that my argument is quite different from the traditional liberal, fairness-based argument, which is that we should feel sorry for people and pay them for that. My argument is a more effective and robust argument about the nature of prosperity and capitalist economics and the obvious connection between the money that workers earn and the sales that businesses enjoy. Pointing out the connection between those two things and the necessity of making sure workers earn enough to continue to support the businesses that form the backbone of our economy is just common sense. People who argue otherwise are just idiots. 

Income inequality in this country is growing to historically high levels. CEOs today make 300 times more money than their workers. How did we get to this point?

It’s a combination of things. Part of the problem was a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of economic theory by policymakers. Some of this is a consequence of good-natured misunderstanding. Some of this is consequence of the pursuit by wealthy citizens of their narrow self interests.  For 30 years policy makers on the right and left accepted that trickle-down theory and they enacted policies that they thought would create general prosperity, and in fact, only enriched the already rich. What we're trying to do is point out that that’s idiotic. We’re trying to remind people that a thriving middle class is not a consequence of growth, it’s the source of growth and prosperity in capitalist economies.

In fact, your “middle-out” economic theory is based on your argument that trickle-down economics doesn't work. In nut shell, what's middle-out economics all about?

The essential argument for middle-out economics is that a thriving middle class is not a consequence of growth. Rather, a thriving middle class is the source of growth and prosperity in capitalist economies, which means that a policy focused on the middle class is how you generate prosperity and growth — not policy focused on rich guys like me.

What policy solutions would you recommend for reducing income equality and helping grow the middle class?

A tax code focused on the middle class — where rich people actually pay more in taxes than middle class people unlike in our current system, where the $400 billion the government spends annually on tax exemptions theoretically to make people rich (which are simply rewards to rich people for being rich) are rather deployed to help middle class people become rich. A fairer split between workers and owners in the value of what business enterprises create by raising the minimum wage and ensuring middle class people are fairly paid and closing the gap between the pay of CEOs and ordinary workers.

In your Politico Magazine piece, you warn your fellow plutocrats that the "pitchforks are coming" as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, noting that the United States isn't immune to the "same forces that started the Arab Spring—or the French and Russian revolutions." Do you think we really should be worried about some kind of social uprising?

At the end of the day, what history will show is if you concentrate power and wealth enough you will either have a revolution or a police state or both. That there’s only so much abuse ordinary citizens are willing to take. It makes little sense in a democracy to disenfranchise most people. Participation and inclusion are the most important things in an economy. The more people who are included, the better it goes, and democracy is the form of government that leads to inclusion, which is why it causes prosperity and why all prosperous places are democracies. But when you allow wealth and power to concentrate, you end up with an economy that isn’t inclusive. And that kills the economy.

Did the Ferguson thing scare you? It scared the shit out of me. That is what I’m talking about. That’s not about race. That’s about exclusion. That’s about disenfranchisement. That’s about a bunch of people who are excluded from the economy and they’re pissed. The thing that happened in Ferguson — that is what I'm talking about. These are people who are poor, angry, disenfranchised and poorly treated and not well politically represented, and so you have this powder keg situation where you have a bunch of white police officers trying to keep under control poor, angry people of color. Then something bad happens. And that can happen in Spokane where you live if we are not careful.

So what do your one-percenter friends have to say about your views?

I would say five years ago my views made my fellow one-percenters very angry and very defensive. Today, most of the wealthy people I know and associate with have in one way, shape or form come around to generally agreeing with my view. And I think the nation is making progress. Morgan Stanley, of all institutions, released a report stating economic inequality is the number one threat to the economy. The fast food industry is struggling. No one can afford to eat their stuff anymore. Walmart sales are flat and that's because when you don't pay for your workers enough to buy their stuff, that doesn't work out for anybody.

Is this a problem we can expect Congress to solve? 

Oh jeepers. I would say forget about Washington D.C and focus locally. I see no hope for the federal government to do anything materially or constructively in the near term, but Spokane, Washington, could institute a higher minimum wage and should, for my money. That's where people's energy should go. Spokane could certainly use a slightly higher minimum wage, not $15 dollars an hour because the cost of living out there is much lower than out here, but you could certainly do more than $9.32. But me? I’m absolutely not thinking or worrying about the United States Senate. 

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

How would Jesus vote? Conservative group guides local churchgoers to the polls

Posted By on Thu, Sep 25, 2014 at 3:50 PM

Most everything you need to know about the political beliefs of “We Believe – We Vote” can be found in the graphic at the top of their website. The “T” in “vote” is a Christian cross, right next to an American flag superimposed upon a bald eagle.


We Believe – We Vote has for the past five years made it their mission to use "biblical and traditional values to make informed voter recommendations to the faith-based community."

WBWV sits down with candidates, asking them to weigh in on issues ranging from the U.N.'s “Agenda 21” to whether “the state should ban licensed therapists from using their clinical judgment to help a minor turn away from unwanted same-sex attraction,” and ends up producing one of the more unusual, more in-depth local voter guides out there, one they’ve encouraged pastors to send their flock flocking to.

This week, We Believe – We Vote published its candidate evaluations. The interesting part isn’t who the group loved more (Hint: Republicans), it’s the details. 

The group is led by Penny Lancaster, a retired Central Valley school teacher who has long been moonlighting as an anti-pornography and anti-casino crusader, though she prefers the phrase “pro-family.” (Her name came up earlier this year when Inlander writer Heidi Groover talked to people at Miss Kitty’s in our East Sprague cover package.)

“It really bothers me when I see how many people don’t vote,” Lancaster says. “And I think a lot of people don’t vote when they don’t know who to vote for.”

Years ago, she says, her reputation as an activist led to friends asking her who to vote for in elections. “I started feeling convicted that I had not done a very good job of reviewing candidates,” she says. That led to her bringing together a group of conservatives of “many different stripes” to interview candidates, debate over their merits and then offer endorsements. Today, its board of 35 people includes 6th District Rep. John Ahern, former city councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin and Dick Erb, the former VP of Operations for the conservative Christian organization Focus on the Family.

WBWV specifically targets local churches, including a statement for pastors to put in church bulletins or project on the overhead screen as the election approaches:

“It is our privilege and duty as Christians to vote in the General Election by November 4. As your pastor, I am not endorsing any candidates, but I recommend www.WeBelieveWeVote.com as a website with a number of non-partisan resources available for your review.”

And in previous years, some pastors have done just that. “I’ve heard people say, 'Oh yeah, we have that in our bulletin,'” Lancaster says. “We have over 400 pastors on our email contact list, and 2,000 individuals. We’re hoping to have an impact on the election.”

The website even features a guide discussing what churches can and can’t do politically to avoid the risk of losing their tax-exempt status. (“In fact, you may be surprised at how much influence you can have,” one line of the guide reads.)

“I think our position is that pastors are shepherds of their flocks. … They should give [their parishioners] encouragement to be good citizens to investigate the candidates,” Lancaster says. “They should be connecting what the Bible says about culture and life and death to what’s going on to the culture today.”

That’s where things get tricky: It’s easy for churchgoers to agree on what the Bible says about loving your neighbor, it’s less easy to agree on what it says about, say, the expansion of Spokane’s Urban Growth Area.

The group doesn’t believe in using land-use and zoning laws to restrict development in most cases, but does believe in using it for moral reasons, like squashing casinos and strip clubs. The site justifies that (mostly) pro-private property, free-market stance through a Bible verse in Genesis that simply says, “Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number.”

And their gun-rights support is justified through an Old Testament passage from wall-builder Nehemiah: “From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor…”

That socially conservative viewpoint infuses their assessments of even less partisan races. District Court Judge Gregory Tripp gets criticized for being “vague in articulating his view on ‘the law of nature and nature's God' as being the foundation of the rule of law” while WBWV expresses concerns over Supreme Court Justice Debra Stevens endorsement “by GLBT Bar Association of WA.”

Despite the many controversies Spokane Valley Rep. Matt Shea has weathered, the group calls Shea “the incumbent with a good Biblical moral and ethical record; has served the district honorably.” Lancaster elaborates that she has personal knowledge of Shea beyond what’s been reported in the media.

“I know Matt well. I heard the backstories on all of that,” Lancaster says. “I was there when he was going through that divorce.”

Shea, state Rep. Kevin Parker, Sen. Michael Baumgartner, Sen. Brian Dansel and County Treasurer Rob Chase all get the maximum five stars in their ratings. (The Democratic candidates aren’t even listed on the general election handout; Lancaster says it’s because they all got less than three stars.)

Most liberal candidates refused to sit down with WBWV for an interview. Baumgartner's opponent, Rich Cowan, and prosecutor candidate Breean Beggs, however, were exceptions.

“I haven’t turned down anyone who wanted to talk with me so far,” Beggs says. “My father was a minister, and I come from a faith background. My politics are different, [but] I thought it would be an interesting conversation. And it was an interesting conversation.” Beggs' big area of interest, after all, is the one where WBWV has veered away from a traditional social conservative stereotype: The group is a big supporter of criminal justice reform, linking to this website.

A Smart Justice-style system, Lancaster says, “is a better use of taxpayer money. You get people back on the job and taking care of their families.”

Most interesting are the sections of the evaluations listing concerns for even very conservative candidates: Shea “on occasion has lacked tact and patience when working with others,” the group writes, while his opponent “lacks political experience.” Rep. Jeff Holy “supports some level of public sector union authority” and Sheriff’s Ozzie Knezovich’s “‘commanding presence’ may have a tendency to be intimidating.”

Rep. candidate Diana Wilhite gets dinged for having concerns “about ‘fairness’" and being willing to raise taxes in some situations, while her opponent Bob McCaslin, Jr., is criticized for having “limited solutions to problems of government over-reach, unions, and health care.”

You can read the whole thing at the link below:


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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hey, it's National Voter Registration Day!

Posted By on Tue, Sep 23, 2014 at 11:46 AM

Did you check into your social media outlets this morning and find yourself inundated with images like this: 


I sure did. No matter what stream I looked at, I'd find someone I followed nagging me about registering to vote. 

On Twitter, it was comedian, actor and Conan O'Brien sidekick Andy Richter: 


On Facebook, it was the Drive-by Truckers, one of my favorite bands: 


My first thought? "How do all these people KNOW I just moved to a new state and need to update my voter registration? Thanks a lot, Obama!" 

Second thought — there must be something going on, and indeed there is: it's National Voter Registration Day

What, you still had to go to work today? The boss didn't put up streamers or balloons? Yeah, same here.

Even so, it's a good reason to remember to get your democratic process on with this "holiday" aimed at encouraging people of all political stripes to make sure they're registered before this fall's election. It's such a popular idea that National Voter Registration Day has been endorsed by the National Association of Secretaries of StateMore than 1,000 organizations are taking part, including the diverse likes of trade unions, colleges, conservation groups, libraries, ministries and healthcare companies. 

How easy is it to register to vote? I just did it in the middle of writing this blog post, thanks to the handy National Voter Registration Day website that lets you register in any state in the union. Of course, you can go straight to the Washington state Secretary of State website to register online, download voter registration forms or have them mailed to you. You WILL have to sign your registration and mail it in, and be sure it's postmarked at least four weeks before election day (that would be Tuesday, Nov. 4) to be eligible to vote. You can also just drop in your closest Driver Licensing Office, like the one on Lidgerwood Street in Spokane, and register right there. 

So get on it!

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Friday, September 5, 2014

I-594 campaign for universal background checks releases its first TV ad

Posted By on Fri, Sep 5, 2014 at 2:31 PM

The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility launched its TV advertising campaign yesterday to promote Initiative 594, a statewide ballot measure to broaden background checks on all gun purchases. 

The ad, titled "Prevent," features former Bellingham Chief of Police Don Pierce. Citing FBI data, in the ad, Pierce credits current background check laws with stopping more than 40,000 people — "felons, domestic abusers, you name it" — from purchasing guns in Washington state. 

I-594 would close the so-called "gun show loophole" allowing people to buy firearms online or at gun shows without submitting to a background check. The initiative grants several exceptions, however, including for immediate family members who exchange guns as gifts and people who temporarily borrow guns for hunting, sport or self-defense. Antique gun sales and transfers also are exempt. I-594 faces a competing measure this November, Initiative 591, which would prohibit the state from mandating additional background checks unless required by federal law. 

Watch the new ad below.

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