Eat the State! Vol. 10, Issue #4 27 oct. 05

Eat the State! Vol. 10, Issue #4 27 oct. 05

a forum for anti-authoritarian political opinion, research and humor


E A T T H E S T A T E !


This week's menu:
Election 2005: The Horror, The Horror
Yes on the Monorail
The Palestinian Struggle: Opportunity Knocks
Stopping Harriet Miers
From The Kitchen
Eat These Shorts: Iraqi Constitutional Referendum -- The Highlights
Nature & Politics: When Divas Collide: Maureen Dowd v. Judy Miller
Focus on the Corporation: Bill Bennett, Bob Bennett and the Criminal Element
Plus From the Kitchen, History, Activist Calendar, Commiex, and NY Times

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Quote of the week:

"Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does."

-- Jean-Paul Sartre


Election 2005: The Horror, The Horror

So you think it’s a coincidence that we vote right after Halloween? That the night when the line is thinnest between the living and the dead comes right at the climax of campaign season? That the Day of the Dead sees fundraisers held all over the city?

Well, if you aren’t creeped out yet, just keep reading. There will be something in this year’s slate of candidates and initiatives to truly horrify you. And, as always, ETS! is here to help. Just remember: we warned you.

So here are our highly informed (usually) picks, with the standard caveats: This is one opinion. If you’re going to do something dangerous like voting, do your homework and consult multiple sources ­ don’t just take our word for it. And voting by itself is never enough: it’s activism that truly changes things.

Elected Office

City of Seattle Mayor: Greg Nickels has raised over a half million dollars for his re-election; his opponent, Al Runte, has raised $8,000. You have to ask yourself why Nickels wanted all that money with no viable opponent, and what he’s promised to whom in order to get it. Nickels will win, easily, but he needs to hear that not all Seattleites are pleased with a city run by and for Paul Allen. Runte is a fine (if inexperienced) candidate, but another option is to not vote in this race; the number of signatures required to get a citywide initiative on the ballot is based on the number of votes cast in the mayor’s race, so a depressed mayoral turnout means it will be easier in coming years to qualify initiatives for the ballot. Al Runte, or skip it.

Seattle City Attorney: Tom Carr is running unopposed for re-election. Skip it.

Seattle City Council Pos. 2: Richard Conlin is maddeningly inconsistent insofar as his progressive roots are concerned, but he is one of the few council members who actually listens to his constituents, and he has been one of the few willing to consistently stand up to our Bullyboy Mayor. To make things easier, he’s being challenged by Paige Miller, who is using corrupt business cronies from her Port of Seattle Commissioner terms to fund a downtown establishment bid to take Conlin out. Conlin can be good; Miller cannot. Richard Conlin.

Seattle City Council Pos. 4 Challenger Casey Corr is something of a cipher: a former Nickels staffer, but before that a reasonably good investigative journalist and columnist at our daily papers. He’s taking on the worst of our city councilpeople, Jan Drago, a clueless autovote for downtown business interests. Drago is so bad that it’s worth taking a chance on Corr to get rid of her. Casey Corr.

Seattle City Council Pos. 6 Nick Licata is simply the best councilperson Seattle has had in a generation. He’s faced by a free market advocate, Paul Bascomb, who will be lucky to get 10 percent. Nick Licata.

Seattle City Council Pos. 8: This vexing race pits incumbent Richard McIver against County Councilman Dwight Pelz. McIver is the city council’s only African-American, but he’s also been an inert, largely useless presence since first being appointed to council eight years ago; he does not deserve re-election. Alas, Pelz is flawed, too: he’s been a solid liberal voice on county council for years, but he’s close friends with Nickels, an enthusiastic backer of all the various South Lake Union giveaways to Paul Allen, and he’s largely phoned in a curiously listless campaign. He doesn’t deserve the seat, either. Skip it.

Seattle School District No. 1, Director Incumbent Mary Bass was calling bullshit on Joseph Olchefske’s math-deficient reign long before it was cool. She deserves a second term, but the entrenched interests who resent a reform-dominated school board have targeted her seat with a strong challenge from Jane Fellner. Mary Bass. Twice.

Seattle School District No. 1, Director Former city councilperson Cheryl Chow has been a disaster everywhere she’s been, but her prominent name (her mother is International District icon Ruby Chow) keeps giving her second chances at the limelight. Now she wants on the school board. Yuck. Her opponent, Linda Thompson-Black, would be far better. Linda Thompson-Black.

Seattle Popular Monorail Authority, Board Member, Pos. 1 Incumbent Cindi Laws blamed the downtown Jews for the monorail’s problems; that alone should disqualify her from further public office. So should the performance of the monorail board itself for the past three years. But Laws wants the monorail to somehow go on; challenger Beth Goldberg does not. See elsewhere in this issue for another view, but my sentiment is that the monorail project is now fatally flawed and deserves a mercy killing. Beth Goldberg.

Seattle Popular Monorail Authority, Board Member, Pos. 9 Same race, without the anti-Semitism; incumbent Cleve Stockmeyer is a Monorail True Believer, challenger Jim Nobles is not. Jim Nobles.

King County Executive: The irony and tragedy of Ron Sims’ political career is that he keeps running (and losing) races for higher office by posing as far more liberal than his performance as King County Executive would indicate. Now he wants a third term as Exec, and he’s being challenged by David Irons, the same Eastside Robo-Republican that the Party designated a few years ago to take out environmentalist gadfly Brian Derdowski in a King County Council primary. It’s a truly unappealing choice. Fortunately, there’s a third option -- Gentry Lange, the Green Party candidate. Owing to the Green Party’s dysfunction, Lange’s campaign has been barely visible, which is a shame: he’s smart, articulate, and a way better choice than Sims. Gentry Lange.

King County Sheriff: The choice is between appointed incumbent Sue Rahr, plagued by scandals both on her own watch and as #2 cop under Dave Reichert, and Greg Schmidt, a Seattle cop with a reputation as a bully and a domestic violence accusation in his past. Same as in the primary, the best choice is to skip it.

King County Council District 1 Maverick Democrat Bob Ferguson barely ousted fellow incumbent Carolyn Edmonds in this redrawn, heavily Democratic district; now he faces a nameless Republican (actually, his name is Steven Pyeatt). Bob Ferguson.

King County Council District 2 Member-for-life Larry Gossett faces token opposition from a Republican and Libertarian. Gossett is one of the good guys. Larry Gossett.

King County Council District 4 Larry Phillips, another Member-for-life Democrat, faces a challenge from “independent” Ed Pottharst. Phillips is not one of the good guys; he’s an inert force of the type that plagues Seattle Democrats who can always get elected without breaking a sweat. Alas, Pottharst doesn’t seem to be a credible alternative. Skip it.

King County Council District 8 Dow Constantine is Larry Phillips without the seniority. He’s also got an “independent” challenger, John Potter, who seems mostly to oppose taxes of any and all kinds. Skip it.

Court of Appeals Judge, Division 1, District 1, Position 2. Susan Randolph Agid is unopposed. This is a joke, right?

Port of Seattle Commissioner, Pos. 1 Environmentalist and reformer Lawrence Malloy faces a strong, well-financed challenge from the corrupt Old Boy network in the form of businessman John Creighton. Malloy has been a voice of sanity in the county’s most corrupt government agency. We need him back. Lawrence Malloy.

Port of Seattle Commissioner, Pos. 3 Lloyd Hara and Richard Berkowitz face off for this open seat. Both have some good qualities. Berkowitz, a working waterfront guy, has some appeal -- but the last labor commissioner at the Port, Jack Block, was a 24-year disaster, so working class credentials guarantee nothing. Hara is smart, he wants reform, and he is (by a nose) the better candidate. Lloyd Hara.

Port of Seattle Commissioner, Pos. 4 Incumbent-for-life Pat Davis represents everything that is arrogant, corrupt, and unaccountable about the Port of Seattle. She faces a strong and well-qualified challenge from Jack Jolley. Jolley would be doing us all an enormous favor if he can take Davis out. Jack Jolley.

Ballot Measures

City of Seattle Advisory Measure No. 1. This completely meaningless advisory measure would “advise the mayor and city council that every person in the US should have an equal right to quality health care, and that Congress should implement that right.” Well, sure, this is a fine sentiment -- who’s going to vote against “quality health care” -- but this sort of feel-good

drivel can mean anything to anyone. And Congress, in its present form, could not care less what a bunch of Seattle Democrats think. It’s a complete waste of time -- but voting “no” sends the wrong message, so, reluctantly, Yes

King County Proposition No. 1. This Veterans and Human Services Levy deposits tax money in two kitties: one for veterans, one for low-income residents. Why on earth local government should have to underwrite the costs of our country’s militarism fetish is beyond me -- that should be the fed’s responsibility -- but the low income help is desperately needed. Yes.

Seattle Popular Monorail Authority Prop. No. 1. For the fifth time, we vote on the monorail, but this is the first time we have a real route and real financial numbers attached to it. Sort of -- the monorail board had to scramble to come up with cost estimates for its last-minute, shortened proposal for a line from Interbay (huh?) to West Seattle. That sort of sloppiness exemplifies why the monorail is in such trouble; for three years the leadership and board has been playing Fantasy Transit with taxpayer money, and when the time came to actually pay the bills, the belated discovery was made that this is too expensive a project for a municipality to fund by itself. It needs federal funds -- and those would already be impossible to come by, but with a record of mismanagement and without the city’s backing, we’re now back in fantasyland again. It’s a shame a good idea has come to this. Some day, the local movers and shakers who attach themselves leechlike to major transit projects have got to learn how to run these projects without destroying them. “Yes” means build the monorail and damn the costs; “no” means it won’t be built. No.

Seattle Popular Monorail Authority Prop. No. 2. Whether the monorail is built or not, important decisions remain for the board, and perhaps if it hadn’t consisted largely of appointed cronies, toadies, and True Believers, the board to date wouldn’t have been so bad. This changes the formula so that five of nine, rather than the current two of nine board members, are elected. Yes.

I-900. Tim Eyman’s latest brainchild would give a lot of money ($17 million a year) to the state auditor’s office to conduct performance audits of local, county, and state agencies. There is some concern that a politicized State Auditor could use this new power to harass programs and agencies he or she doesn’t like, but in general this is a good idea -- unlike most of Eyman’s -- and a long overdue opportunity to not only judge whether taxpayer money is being spent honestly, but whether it’s being spent wisely. YES

I-901. This anti-smoking initiative will probably pass by a landslide, cuz everyone knows smoking is bad, right? Trouble is, it’s a bad idea, particularly a provision that bars smoking within 25 feet of a doorway, window, or vent -- virtually banning smoking on a sidewalk, for example. It’s virtually unenforceable, but in practice what it probably does is give cops another excuse to harass the homeless -- when they smoke. This measure goes much farther than most other states indoor smoking bans and turns what most people would consider a mild annoyance -- having to get a whiff of cigarette smoke -- into yet another law intended to protect us from ourselves. Come back with a ban on indoor smoking that doesn’t have the 25-foot rule. No.

I-912. The anti-tax crowd is at it again, hoping to deny a basic government function because they want Somebody Else to pay for it. In this case, we’re faced with an initiative to repeal the 9.5 cent per gallon increase in the gas tax the state legislature used as partial funding to replace the Alaskan Way viaduct and Evergreen Point Floating Bridge and fund a mittful of road and transit projects across the state. Building and maintaining roads and transit is something government needs to do, and this was a rare incident where political gridlock was broken and a solution was brokered. If I-912 passes, it will be years before the state dares again to tackle this vexing problem -- and the pricier gas helps keep more cars off the road, too. No.

I-330. This is a naked attempt by the AMA to exempt doctors (and, oh yeah, anyone else who does anything professional remotely connected to health) from malpractice lawsuits. It’s signing away your rights to benefit a very wealthy special interest group. No.

I-336. This is a measure that essentially competes with I-330, tackling the issue of medical malpractice by (among other things) creating a “Three Strikes” rule for doctors whose negligence has caused serious injury or death three times, allowing the public to find out when doctors are found negligent, and creating a supplemental pool of money for malpractice insurance. The worst thing the “no” lobby can find to say about this initiative is that it was written by trial lawyers -- a red herring argument that’s a sure sign someone’s free ride is being threatened. Yes.

Senate Joint Resolution 8207. An arcane measure that would allow a judge from either a District or Municipal Court to be appointed to one of the 11 seats on the Commission on Judicial Conduct, rather than the seat currently being reserved for a District Court judge. Why this has to go to the voters is beyond me. What the hell. Yes.

--Geov Parrish

Yes on the Monorail

I won't be riding the Monorail, but I will be voting for it. Again. Here's why:

It's the only solution for West Seattle. West Seattle is so isolated from the rest of the city that we often think of it as another town altogether. There's no current, reliable, fast mass transit system for West Seattle. While Ballard, the University District, Northgate, Capitol Hill, and South Seattle all have fast bus service, West Seattle buses are stuck in gridlocked traffic on the West Seattle bridge, along with everyone else trying to commute to and from work. Nobody has even tried to suggest a streetcar for West Seattle because of the steep hill and lack of access. Ditto for light rail. That leaves the Monorail, West Seattle's only hope for a decent mass transit system--one that takes commuters off the West Seattle bridge.

Where's West Dravus Street? Ask folks who live and work in the Queen Anne and Magnolia neighborhoods. Also ask them how long it takes them to get downtown on a bus--particularly the folks who live in Magnolia, which has a traffic access problem similar to West Seattle's. But even Queen Anne trolley buses are slooooowwww... and a good argument against building streetcar lines, in case you were wondering. Hop on the Number 1, the Number 2, or the Number 13 buses during rush hour and find out what I'm talking about.

Ironically, the most-traveled section of the Monorail line will be through downtown, where current opposition to it is highest. Once downtown business owners see that their employees and customers use it all the time, their attitudes will change. They won't be so quick to both complain about how Seattle isn't doing anything about our "transportation problem" and then turn around and oppose one of the best solutions for dealing with traffic gridlock and exorbitantly expensive downtown parking. And maybe they'll think twice about opposing mass transit systems in the future. But that can't happen if the line doesn't get built.

No transportation system of any kind pays for itself--not buses, not light rail, not streetcars, and certainly not personal automobiles and new roads. Yet we expect to build the Monorail and operate it on the cheap. Granted, $11 billion is too steep, but the current proposal for $3-$4 billion is not bad, considering the amount of money we're willing to pour into new roads (look at the gas tax, for example, which will be used primarily to subsidize private auto transportation). We have to keep our perspective, or else we'll fall into an anti-mass transit and pro-global warming frenzy of road building. That's a short term cop-out and not a long term solution.

We should build the first stage on our own dime and seek federal funds for the next stage. Unfortunately, Mayor Nickels and the City Council withdrew support for the Monorail before the new interim director could get started in his new job. The new director, however, had some interesting things to say about Seattle's Monorail plan. Like it's one of the best transit construction projects he's ever seen. Like it would make sense to seek federal funds--something no one else has thought of, for whatever reason. Like Seattle appears to really need a Monorail system. He has a point.

And here's something to think about: if we build the West Seattle stage with our own money and it turns out to be as useful as it's supporters say it will (and I think they're right), it'll be a great demonstration to the feds that Seattle is serious about mass transit, and that we ought to have the funds for an expansion of the line to Ballard. Washington's senators and representatives have a lot of experience prying transit funds out of Congress; they did it for the Sound Transit light rail system. Why not the Monorail?

As usual, the politicians aren't leading on this issue, so it's up to the voters to show them the way to go. One more "yes" vote on the Monorail will get them off their butts and working to get it built. And it'll be about time.

--Maria Tomchick

The Palestinian Struggle: Opportunity Knocks

Formal talks between Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon were put on hold last week. The first face to face dialogue between the two since the “disengagement” of the Gaza Strip was sidelined for a second time because of a difference in “objectives.” Israel essentially intends on acting as the High Court, examining Palestinian requests, while Palestinians -- trying to break Israel’s cycle of unilateral procedure -- demand action and fundamental change. This postponement symbolizes the Palestinian people’s unending struggle in their efforts to achieve justice.

It is not a coincidence that Israeli forces have already invaded the Gaza Strip in the post-disengagement era, reserving the “right” to reinvade in the future. The power and the decision to exert it rests firmly in Sharon’s hands as it has since the start of US President George Bush’s “war on terror.” The world witnessed the onslaught of Israel’s Operation First Rain three weeks ago. According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), the invasion left 8 Palestinian civilians dead, 35 civilians injured, and over 300 arrested. By taking on the role of a strict warden, Sharon will show mercy on the Palestinian prisoners, so long as they exhibit their ability to fall in line and follow his orders. Until then, it is lights out in the Occupied Territories.

Regrettably, President Abbas sits silently in the background, without political or military ammunition. Palestinian web portal, The Electronic Intifada, quoted a Palestinian police officer stating, “At least give us enough bullets to protect people and protect our stations.” The evolution of competent and equipped security forces in the Occupied Territories is exactly what Sharon is trying to avoid. Sharon’s minions cleverly proclaim that they cannot give the Palestinian Authority (PA) weapons, ammunition, military vehicles and other security equipment until Abbas and the PA have earned Israel’s trust. Both parties know, however, that the PA cannot combat militant groups or, better yet, create a firm presence and authority without first having the proper equipment.

Sharon’s credo is to maximize the lawlessness of the conflict. This furthers the greater agenda: the expansion of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the appropriation of Palestinian land by way of extension of the Apartheid Wall. The infighting in Palestinian society has emboldened Sharon’s modus operandi and exemplifies the lack of rule in Gaza. All the while, Sharon plays the part of the “peacemaker” who is just waiting for the Palestinians to get their act together.

Since the “disengagement” of the Gaza Strip little has been mentioned of the 30 Palestinians killed, the many more wounded, the houses destroyed, or the continual restriction of movement. While Abbas has called for the release of the 7,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, next to nothing has been said of the torture of Palestinian prisoners, or the objectivity of the Israeli courts sentencing the Palestinians apprehended.

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the Israeli Occupation Force (IOF) will recommend that the Israeli government “release additional Palestinian prisoners” in a move to strengthen the position of President Abbas. Any concession from Israel is welcome. One must look, however, at what is being conceded. In the last month, Israeli forces have detained nearly 600 Palestinians. If the IOF continues its mass arrest campaign, then releases 400 prisoners as it had in June of this year, the magnitude of the release will be quite small. The Palestinian Prisoners Committee and the Red Cross Committee told Al Jazeera that “most of the [Palestinians] released [in June] were prisoners whose sentences were due to end or had already ended.” Israel is using smoke and mirror manoeuvres to appease the international community, while the situation on the ground remains the same or worsens. The Bethlehem based Ma’an news agency reported this week that Walid Khaled, held already for 51 months without being charged, will be detained for a twelfth consecutive term under a renewed Israeli order. This “administrative detention” is in stark contrast to international law, which according to human rights group B’Tselem, “prohibits the transfer of detainees outside of occupied territory.” Based on IOF numbers (which are believed to be much higher), B’Tselem found that 596 Palestinians were held in “administrative detention” as of August of this year.

The occupation presses forward, suffocating the will of the majority of the Palestinian people who want an end to the conflict and violence. It is not enough to throw the Palestinians a bone once in a while. The Palestinian leadership must straighten its spine and demand that the international community pressure Israel to make fundamental concessions. The issues concerning the control of the borders, water, airspace, ports, and goods coming in and out of Gaza remain unresolved. The deteriorating conditions of poverty, malnutrition, and unemployment in the Occupied Territories, as the world witnessed prior to the second Intifada, wane on Palestinian public opinion. Those in Israel who support peace must not forgo this opportunity to initiate calm and bring justice to a besieged people. A “window of opportunity” is only meaningful if Israeli society takes advantage of the situation and demands cooperation from its leadership. It would be a shame if the state of Israel became known for “never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

--Remi Kanazi

Remi Kanazi is the primary writer for the political website He lives in New York City as a Palestinian American freelance writer and can reached via email at

Stopping Harriet Miers

So far, preventing the ascension of Harriet Miers to a lifetime appointment on the US Supreme Court has been primarily a conservative task. Many on the right have blasted President Bush’s nomination of Miers, for two major reasons: her lack of any judicial experience, and the real reason, the lack of any paper trail that would identify her as the fifth vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and other social rulings dear to conservative hearts.

She is, in all likelihood, that critical fifth vote. But that’s only one of many reasons liberals and progressives should work to oppose the Miers nomination. So far, Senate Democrats have mostly been content to sit back and let the Republicans eat their own, vowing to reserve judgment until they presumably learn more about her at her confirmation hearing. (On the other hand, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, in a rare display of pure idiocy, pronounced himself pleased by the pick because she returns his phone calls. Yes, the standards are that low at the Bush White House.)

But Democrats, and anyone else, have all the information they need to know that Miers would be a terrible Supreme Court justice. To begin with, even though they’re probably just using the charge as a smokescreen to legitimize their abortion concerns, conservatives are right: Miers has no judicial experience, and the experience she does have renders her particularly ill-suited to wearing the robes.

A woman Bush once admiringly called “a pit bull in size six shoes,” there’s no doubt Miers is an accomplished and aggressive corporate attorney. But that’s exactly the personality type we don’t want behind any bench, let alone entrusted with the most powerful judicial position in the land. Judges need to be fair and impartial; they need to be able to delve into all sides of a case with understanding and empathy, not with a pre-existing political or social agenda. Advocates, and pit bulls, need not apply. Certainly lawyers have become good judges in the past, but it requires an entirely different skill set; an irrevocable lifetime appointment to the most powerful judgeship in the land is no place to be finding out whether a justice can do the job or not.

Then there are the problems with conflict of interest. First, with any cases in which this administration has a clearly defined position. Miers has been so closely associated with Bush for so many years that it’s almost inconceivable that she wouldn’t be overtly sympathetic to any case that has the administration’s backing. Her remark that George Bush “is the most brilliant man I’ve ever known” calls the intelligence of at least two people into question, sure, but more importantly it suggests a level of obsequiousness that could easily interfere with her role as a neutral judge.

Even more troubling, there’s her role as an attorney for some of the Country’s most powerful corporations. While much has been made of how Miers would vote on social issues, less attention has been paid to her impact on the ever-expanding rights being given corporations under American law. Every Supreme Court justice appointed in the last 20 years, conservative or liberal, has been a reliable judicial vote for corporate America. With Miers, the connection is so strong that if she has any scruples about it at all (she probably doesn’t) she would likely have to recuse herself from many of the cases that reach the high court. The impact of that pro-corporate vote will be there for a lifetime -- long after Bush has left office and her fawning admiration for him has become irrelevant.

It’s highly likely that one of the reasons Bush nominated Miers is precisely because she is a judicial blank slate. As with most other nominees from this White House that must pass Senate muster, expect Miers at her confirmation hearings to say very little of substance, just like John Roberts. An old memo that has surfaced suggests her anti-abortion views, but absent any more direct information we’re left with extrapolating her views from her life’s history, and, in this case, the extraordinary loyalty she and Bush have shown each other. Such a rapport almost always comes when two people discover themselves of like mind; that’s particularly true of Bush, who has made a fetish out of surrounding himself with people who will never challenge his views.

In other words, if we want to know how Miers would vote, we should ask ourselves how Bush would vote. And we know that Bush would overturn Roe v. Wade in a heartbeat and would eagerly inflict all manner of regressive social rulings and expansions of corporate and military power. Until proven otherwise -- by deeds, not slick, carefully calibrated words ­ that’s exactly what we should expect from Miers. She would be a disaster as a Supreme Court justice.

It’s likely this White House will exert extreme pressure on reluctant Republicans to come on line and support Miers’ appointment. What we need, then, is for enough Republicans to withstand that pressure and vote no -- and for vacillating Democrats to join them. In both cases, those senators need to hear from outraged constituents -- who want, among other things, a Supreme Court justice that doesn’t need training wheels to do the job. E-mail, make phone calls, send letters. Heck, send a resume; you never know. You, dear reader, have just as much on-the-job experience as Harriet Miers.

--Geov Parrish


Up two editors, down one: Tarah Kent and Jeff Stevens are our new co-editors for ETS!, joining Geov Parrish and Maria Tomchick. Tarah has been helping us out for a while as a proofreader, while Jeff has put in several years with Ruckus, the progressive UW paper. Please welcome them both to their new roles!

While Tarah and Jeff step in, we have another vacancy. Vafa Ghazi is no longer able to edit our activisr calendar (on the back page each issue), so we need someone to step in and take over for him. It requires a computer and Internet access, reliability (to send it in every two weeks), and, well, that's about it. In exchange, you get to be in on all the cool stuff happening around Seattle, and the unsung glory that comes with helping to put out the paper you're reading right now.

Interested? Give us a shout! E-mail us at, or leave a message on our voice mail, 206-719-6947. Thanks! --eds.


The UN was conspicuously absent during the Iraqi Constitutional referendum on October 15th. Instead of supplying election monitors to make sure the voting was fair and conducted according to international standards, UN monitors remained hunkered down in their hotels in Amman, Jordan, fearful that they'd be attacked if they showed their faces in Iraq. As it turns out, the only attacks that occurred that day were US troops attacking rebels in Ramadi, the capital city of Anbar Province. As a result, only 2,000 people voted in Ramadi and more than 60 polls didn't even open in Sunni-dominated Anbar Province. Still, the city of Fallujah saw more than 90% turnout and the province as a whole voted 97% against the new Constitution.

Of the other Sunni majority provinces, early returns showed that Salahuddin Province also defeated the constitution by a more than two-thirds majority. Returns from Diyala and Nineveh, however, were more problematic. Voter turnout in Salahuddin was around 87%, which was the second highest in the nation. Obviously Sunni voters swarmed to the polls in an effort to the defeat the Constitution. But in Sunni-majority Diyala, turnout was originally pegged at 57%, with a 70% "yes" vote--an indication that mostly Shiite and Kurdish votes were counted in the early returns. The same was almost certainly true for Nineveh (with the Sunni-dominated city of Mosul, Iraq's third largest metropolitan area), where the vote was registered as 78% "yes," with no turnout percentage given at all.

Almost immediately, the Iraqi electoral commission announced that they would examine the early returns from "key" provinces where the numbers looked suspicious (although they wouldn't say which provinces). Gareth Porter, writing for the Inter Press Wire Service, reported that the US military liaison in Nineveh, Major Jeffrey Huston, told him that the early returns from Nineveh represented only 54% of the vote, not 90% as the media had been led to believe. Furthermore, Porter points out that, in January's parliamentary election, Kurdish and Shiite candidates mustered only 130,000 votes in Nineveh. On October 15th, however, Nineveh returns showed 350,000 "yes" votes on the Constitution, a difference that strains credulity and suggests that someone was stuffing ballot boxes. Of course, the US relied on Kurdish peshmerga to run the polling places in Nineveh and collect the ballot boxes, so who can be surprised at the anomaly?

The Iraqi electoral commission, run by the current Shiite-Kurdish coalition government, has no motive to pursue any charges of electoral fraud. We may never know the true results of the vote. In the mind of Sunnis, however, these events will only further confirm to them that the political process is corrupt and not to be trusted. Even political analysts at the think tanks here in the US and in the UK agreed that the Constitutional vote would almost certainly divide the Iraqi populace further along sectarian lines and lead to civil war, not the reconciliation that the Bush administration hopes for. The divide between Bush administration propaganda and the reality in Iraq is growing deeper by the day.

--Maria Tomchick. See: "Vote Figures for Crucial Province Don't Add Up," Gareth Porter, Inter Press Wire Service, 10/19/05,


When Divas Collide: Maureen Dowd v. Judy Miller

Would you pay $49.95 to watch women wrestling in mud? I did Saturday morning, and it was well worth the expense.

I get the New York Times on the Web and until a couple of weeks ago all the features were free. Then, as some of you have no doubt discovered, the NYT's columnists started to have only their opening sentences on free display. To get the full columns of Krugman, Rich, Dowd, and the others you have to pony up $49.95 for a year's subscription to Times Select.

I held off until today when the Times nailed the sale with Dowd's column titled, "Woman of Mass Destruction" and her ominous opening sentence: "I've always liked Judy Miller."

Miller has been the sport of a million stories and there was nothing much by way of startling revelations in what Dowd wrote, but in operatic terms it was as though Maria Callas had suddenly rushed onto the stage and slugged Elizabeth Schwarzkopf.

After that enticing lead, designed to make online readers fish out their credit cards, Dowd spent five paragraphs sketching Miller's profile as a power-mad egomaniac (demanding Dowd's chair at a White House briefing), before drop-kicking her in the face with the blunt accusations that she's a liar and--a thought first expressed in this column the day Miller went behind bars--that "her stint in the Alexandria jail was in part a career rehabilitation project."

Then, with Judy down on the canvas, Dowd came flying down from the corner post, with her knee on Judy's throat: "Judy told The Times that she plans to write a book and intends to return to the newsroom, hoping to cover 'the same thing I've always covered--threats to our country.' If that were to happen, the institution most in danger would be the newspaper in your hands."

Moral: Don't ever take Maureen Dowd's chair at a White House briefing.

Dowd mentions an internal memo to the staff from the Times' editor, Bill Keller, in which--to use Dowd's words--"Judy seemed to have 'misled' the Washington bureau chief, Phil Taubman, about the extent of her involvement in the Valerie Plame leak case."

What Keller actually wrote was the following: "if I had known the details of Judy's entanglement with Libby, I'd have been more careful in how the paper articulated its defense and perhaps more willing than I had been to support efforts aimed at exploring compromises."

"Entanglement" is a curiously suggestive word, given the notoriously rich and varied texture of Judy Miller's sexual resumé, whose imagined contours have been the sport of newsrooms and hotel bars around the world. Certainly Miller took it that way, writing in response, "As for your reference to my 'entanglement' with Mr. Libby, I had no personal, social, or other relationship with him except as a source." Welcome to The Times as Pay-Per-View Reality TV.

Keller's sniveling "internal" memo throwing Miller over the side, which he obviously knew would be forwarded to Howard Kurtz ten seconds after he hit the SEND key, seems to me to be entirely disgusting. The Times nailed Miller's colors to its mast many years ago. There are decades' worth of her atrocious mendacities in its archives, and decades' worth of accurate refutations of her news stories ignored by Times' editors.

Miller's game was the Times' game. They were witting co-conspirators. When Miller co-wrote (with Stephen Engelberg and William Broad) the book "Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War," the Times was happy to print her stories in the paper, which helped to push the book up into bestseller status, in a staggering conflict of interest that earned the paper plenty of money. This, remember, was when Miller was sent that mysterious envelope of white powder that turned out not to be anthrax spores, which gave the book yet another boost.

It's way too late in the game for Times editors to start whining that Judy misled them. They printed her rubbish because they were disposed to believe it, and for Keller to turn on her now in an "internal" memo designed for public consumption is cowardly and despicable. The gentlemanly thing for Keller to do would be to keep a stiff upper lip, let Dowd and the reporters toss Miller on their horns and, if circumstances warrant, fall upon his sword, accompanied in this act by the publisher (unless the Times' shareholders shoot him first for presiding over the 53 percent drop in profits this year).

I never cared much for the whole Plame scandal, mostly on the aesthetic grounds that outing Plame as a CIA agent seemed such a moronic way for the White House to try to discredit Joe Wilson, but also because outing CIA agents is an act for which--for radicals at least--applause should be the default setting. But in that odd way that scandals acquire critical mass by dint of larger social and political discontent, the Plame scandal is severely wounding the Bush regime and the New York Times, and we certainly applaud that.

And with the Times now publicly dismembering itself, the scandal has at last become fun. Not as much fun as the Lewinsky scandal, of course, but what scandal will ever match those magic years?

By way of a coda: my favorite among Judy's amours has always been the British consular official in Tripoli whom Judy had once made the plaything of an idle hour, because of the need for some document or fragment of information. The British journalist David Blundy, later killed in Central America, was in the cellar of the British consulate in Tripoli during the US bombing raid in Reagan-time, designed to kill Qadaffi. Also present was Judy's conquest, the consular official. The wretched man had never gotten over Judy and, as the bombs crashed down and the building trembled on its foundations, he took ever heavier swigs from a bottle of Scotch and moaned in his broad Scottish accent, "She's a terrr-ible, terrrr-ible woman, but I love her (CRASH) She's a terrrr--." (CRASH, etc.)

--Alexander Cockburn


Bill Bennett, Bob Bennett and the Criminal Element

Bill Bennett and Bob Bennett are brothers. Bill Bennett is the social conservative pundit. Bob Bennett is the white-collar criminal defense lawyer.

Bob Bennett is the lawyer for New York Times' reporter Judith Miller. As you might recall -- and how could you forget? -- Bill Bennett took to the airwaves a couple of weeks ago and espoused that "you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." He then quickly added, "That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down."

Of course, Bill Bennett was talking about street crime.

If he were to address the issue of white collar and corporate crime -- the kind that his brother Bob defends every day for a very nice living -- then he might have said something like -- "you could abort every white male destined to go to Harvard Business School, and your crime rate would go down."

Now that would be impolite.

But the reality is that crimes committed by the powerful -- both in government and in corporations -- inflict far more damage on society than all crimes committed by the powerless.

Let's take the crimes of Harvard Business School graduate George Bush.

The President's cronies are being investigated for leaking classified information to various reporters, including to Judith Miller.

(By the way, we agree with Patrick Buchanan, who was on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews October 18th, and observed that Bush and Cheney's real success in the whole Judith Miller/Valerie Plame episode was turning "the New York Times, the newspaper of record in this country, into a propaganda organ for the war party.")

Why not an investigation for war crimes?

In the words of former Supreme Court Justice and Nuremberg prosecutor Robert Jackson -- whom newly confirmed Chief Justice John Roberts says he "admires" -- the supreme international crime is the war of aggression.

And guess who are the architects of the most recent war of aggression?

George Bush and Dick Cheney and their associates.

With an assist from Congress -- including Presidential hopefuls John Kerry and Hillary Clinton -- who voted to authorize the war.

Do you see any of the architects of the illegal war in Iraq on trial for mass murder?

Why not?

If putting Saddam on trial for mass killing is a good thing, then putting the architects of the most recent war of aggression on trial is a good thing, too.

(And by mass killing we mean approaching 2,000 young Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis in an unjustifiable war of aggression.)

Despite the wave of crime by the powerful that has swept over the country in recent years -- and inflicted far more damage on society than all street crime combined -- when people with the institutional megaphones, like Bill Bennett, use the word "crime," they mean street crime.

(When Bob Bennett talks about crime, he invariably means white-collar and corporate crime -- but that's because his clients are paying him big bucks to clear their names.)

As a result, this bias has been hard wired into our brains.

Here's a quick test.

We will write down a word.

And you tell us the first image that comes to your mind.



Okay, and the first image to come to your mind?

Do you conjure up a black kid in New Orleans wading through the waters with DVDs stuffed in his pockets?

Why not Conrad Black, also known as Lord Black of Crossharbour?

Lord Black is under investigation along with his associates -- by the same Patrick Fitzgerald who is investigating the Bush leak affair -- of looting $400 million from Hollinger International, the esteemed publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times and the Jerusalem Post, among myriad other publications.

A special 513-page report on the looting at Hollinger, issued by Richard Breeden, former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, called Black's management team at Hollinger a corporate kleptocracy.

That would be a bureaucracy of kleptomaniacs. (Credit for the looter imagery goes to Joe Loughran, a Republican white-collar crime pundit we interviewed recently.)

So the image of a looter is that of the black kid with some DVDs stuffed into his coat pocket.

And not of Lord Black of Crossharbour?

And the image of the war criminal is that of Saddam Hussein.

And not George Bush?

And Bill Bennett says that if we aborted all of the black kids, the crime rate would go down?

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor. They are co-authors of Corporate Predators (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press; see ). To subscribe to weekly corp-focus e-mail service, send an e-mail message to with the following all in one line: subscribe corp-focus (no period).

(c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman


Oct. 26. 1880: Birth of Manuel Quintin Lame, leader of Indian revolt against forced labor and land seizures in Colombia.

Oct. 27. 1917: Birth of Oliver Tambo, leader of African National Congress. 1997: Teachers in the province of Ontario--the largest school system in the Western Hemisphere, with 2.1 million students--strike over budget cutbacks.

Oct. 28. 1932: US Dept. of Interior removes Papago tribal land in Arizona from mineral exploration. This horrifying precedent is rescinded two years later by the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. 1971: Alberta Indians begin sit-in at Indian Affairs office in Edmonton, Alberta, to protest conditions at reserve schools. The sit-in lasts six months.

Oct. 29. 1918: Germany: Sailors mutiny, take over naval base, garrison, and city of Kiehl; Soldiers, Sailors, and Workers' Councils elected. 1979: "Up Against The Wall Street Journal" direct actions disrupt New York Stock Exchange and financial district on 50th Anniversary of the stock market crash of 1929. Over 1,000 arrested.

Oct. 30. 1950: Pedro Campos stages rebellion against US colonialism in Puerto Rico. 1986: Attorney General Ed Meese urges employers to begin spying on workers in "locker rooms, parking lots, shipping and mail room areas and even the nearby taverns" to try to catch them using drugs.

Oct. 31. 1517: Protestant Reformation begins as Martin Luther nails his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. 1954: Algerian war of independence from France begins.

Nov. 1. 1866: First Civil Rights Act passed over veto of President Andrew Johnson. 1930: Jesse Daniel Ames founds Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching, Atlanta, Georgia.

Nov. 2. 1972: Five hundred protesters from "Trail of Broken Treaties" Native American march occupy Bureau of Indian Affairs offices, Washington DC, for six days.

Nov. 3. 1896: Idaho grants suffrage to women by popular vote. 1969: Pres. Nixon announces "Vietnamization" program to shift Vietnam fighting from US troops to US-trained local troops. (Sound familiar?)

Nov.4. 1984: First free elections in Nicaraguan history. Sandanistas defeat six other parties.

Nov. 5. 1875: Susan B. Anthony and friends arrested for attempting to vote, Rochester, NY. 1949: Peace Pledge Union sets up Nonviolence Commission, leading to direct action against nuclear weapons. Britain.

Nov. 6. 1887: Death of Eugene Potter. Poet, revolutionist. Participant in the Revolution of 1848, Paris Commune of 1881. It was then he wrote the Internationale, put to music by Pierre de Geyter in 1888, which brought him recognition as it is adopted by workers worldwide. Condemned to death, fled to England and the US before eventually returning to France. 1949: Birth of Judi Bari, environmental and labor activist.

Nov. 7. 1972: 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reverses convictions of last five of Chicago Seven.

Nov. 8. 1892: Thirty thousand black and white workers stage general strike, New Orleans, demanding union recognition, closed shops, and hour and wage gains. Joined by non-industrial laborers, such as musicians, clothing workers, clerks, utility workers, streetcar drivers, and printers. 1967: Five hundred University of Washington students protest against campus visit by recruiters for Dow Chemical.



5:30 PM, and subsequent last Fridays, Critical Mass. “An organized coincidence of bicyclists who ride around the streets of Seattle en masse.” Westlake Park, downtown, 4th & Pine. Info: or


1 PM. Annual Meeting, Health Care for All. Horizon House, 900 University St., 19th Floor Sky Lounge, Seattle. Info: or

6:30-10 PM. Jobs With Justice Annual Dinner and Silent Auction. SeaTac DoubleTree Hotel, 18740 Pacific Hwy. S., corner of 188th & Hwy. 99. Honoring Father Bill Bichsel, an activist with the Tacoma Catholic Worker. His efforts both locally and at the School of the Americas are well known. Table of 10 $400, individual $50. RSVP to Erica Kay at 206-441-4969.

7-10 PM. Breaking the Silence, an NGO of young soldiers from the Israeli Defense Forces. University Friends Center Social Hall, 4009 9th NE, Seattle. A short slide presentation and discussion of life in the occupied territories by IDF Soldiers Avichay Sharon and Noam Chayut. Sponsored by: University Friends Meeting, Peace & Social Concerns Committee, American Friends Service Committee, Jewish Voices for Peace, Seattle Palestine Solidarity Committee. Suggested Donation $15. Info:


4:30 PM, James Yusef Yee, former Army chaplain at Guantanamo Bay persecuted by he military, speaks on behalf of the case of local Saudi citizen Majid al-Massari, detained over a year now without due process. Islamic School of Seattle, 720 25th St., Seattle. Info: Arab American Community Coalition, 206-545-1735 or

7:30 PM, and subsequent Sundays. Fremont Freedom Flicks. Visionary Studios, 4128 Fremont Ave. N., Seattle. Admission by donation, no one turned away, suggested at least $5. Info: or


7:30 PM. Jonathan Kozol. Saint Mark's Cathedral, 1245 10th Ave. E., Seattle; Best-selling education author will speak and sign books, speech followed by an 8:45 PM Q&A Admission is free; donations are gladly accepted.


All day, Student walkout to protest war and deceptive military recruiting.. Students from all over Western Washington are walking out of school, followed by protest at Westlake, and then marching downtown through the streets to The Premier Club for an all-day youth-planned event with bands, workshops, poetry slam, and spoken word. Info: or Carrie 206-963-4873 or

7 PM. Public Hearing on Proposed Budget for King County.. King County Courthouse, 516 3rd Ave., Rm. 1001, Seattle. Help guide the County Council in prioritizing needs. Comments also taken by e-mail, or in writing to King County Council, King County Courthouse, 516 3rd Ave., Room 1200, Seattle, WA 98104.


Call for time. Real Change Homeless Newspaper Annual Breakfast, with speaker author Paul Loeb. Bell Harbor International Conference Center, Seattle. Info: or 206-441-3247.

5:30-8:30 PM. Environmental Film Festival Opening Night Reception. Broadway Performance Hall, Broadway & Pine, Seattle. Adam Werbach, former president of the Sierra Club, will be the featured speaker. Guests will also receive a special sneak preview of Hazel Wolf: Opening Doors by Gale Podrabsky. Hors d'oeurves and libations will be provided. Info: Demis 206-624-9725.

7 PM. Nonviolent Resistance in Palestine: Palestinian and Israeli Perspectives. University of Washington, Gowan Hall Room 301, behind Suzallo Library, Seattle. Palestinian Ayed Morrar and Israeli Jonathan Pollak are friends and among the major figures in the Palestinian-led, Israeli-supported nonviolent struggle against Israel's military occupation. Both Ayed and Jonathan have been imprisoned for their prominent roles in the nonviolent movement. The nonviolent resistance speaking tour is organized by the US support groups of the International Solidarity Movement. Sponsored by: Palestine Solidarity Committee--Seattle, UW Comparative Law and Society Studies (CLASS) Center, UW Middle East Center, Voices of Palestine, Tikkun Community Seattle. Free, info 206-633-1086 or 206-285-2154 or


And Saturday Nov. 5, all day. 2005 Seattle Environmental Film Festival. Broadway Performance Hall, Broadway & Pine, Seattle. An incredible lineup of independent films focusing on art, nature, and poignant and compelling glimpses of environmental issues that are affecting us all. Tickets on sale at Info and tickets

7 PM, and subsequent Fridays. Friday Night at the Meaningful Movies. Keystone Church, 5019 Keystone Pl., west of I-5, just north of 50th St. Film "Senorita Extraviada" ("Missing Young Woman") (74 min, 2001, Lourdes Portillo). "Señorita Extraviada" documents a two-year search for the truth in the underbelly of the new global economy. In the midst of Juárez's international mystique and high profile job market, there exists a murky history of grossly underreported human rights abuses and violence against women. This is the haunting story of the more than 350 kidnapped, raped, and murdered young women of Juárez, Mexico. Followed by facilitated discussion. Free, donations appreciated. Info


Thru Tues. Nov. 8, in Seattle area. Argentinean Dirty War torture victim and survivor Patricia Issasa will be in the Seattle area as part of a US tour sponsored by Global Exchange. Info: or 210-452-4813.

10 AM- 3 PM. Forum on Immigration and Globalization, “Uprooted: A Community Forum o how US Policies Force People to Become Immigrants and What We Can Do to Support Immigrant Rights.” Miller Community Center, 330 19th Ave. E., Capitol Hill, Seattle. Sponsored by Community Alliance for Global Justice. Info: or Brenda Anibarro 206-405-4600.


2 PM. Benefit Concert for Housing Justice. Broadway Performance Hall, Broadway & Pine, Capitol Hill, Seattle. Proceeds support the education and organizing work of the Seattle Tenants Union. The concert is a CD release party for a TU benefit CD, Paper Houses, featuring many fabulous local musicians (see website for a complete list). The Gala Concert features four of the musicians who have generously donated their time and talent to the CD: Cuchata (salsa), Children of the Revolution (eastern european/flamenco/gypsy rock), Andre Ferianti (classical guitar) and Jeanette Alexander (modern piano). Tickets $22-$45. Tickets, CD pre-sales and info or TU at 206-722-6848x108.


7 AM-8 PM, Polls open near you. See this issue for our ETS! election picks.

7:30 PM. Ward Churchill. Shoreline Community College Gymnasium. Shoreline Community College Presents Ward Churchill as part of the Robert E. Colbert Lecture Series. "On the Justice of Roosting Chickens." Churchill, a renowned radical Native American author and professor, was the center of a media circus for his views that, essentially, the US had 9-11 coming to it. Tickets $6 for kids 14 and under and Shoreline students, $10 senior citizens and other students, and $12 general admission. Group rates available. Ticket office in FOSS (5000) building or via 206-546-4606, also may be available at the door. Info: or 206-546-4690.


7-9 PM. Help Close the SOA. St. Patrick's Church, 1702 Broadway Ave. E., Seattle. Send-off gathering for a Seattle delegation to Fort Benning, Georgia for annual protests at the infamous School of the Americas. New video, music, former prisoners of conscience to speak, reflections and remembrance of the victims. Reception to follow. Free. Everyone welcome! Info (in English): 206-632-1523.

7 PM. Seattle Human Rights Investigators Report on the Current Situation of State Terror in the Philippines. Bradford Center, 700 108th Ave. NE, Bellevue. Report by Seattle delegates from the International Solidarity Mission to the Philippines. Sponsored by the Philippine-U.S. Solidarity Organization (PUSO).

For an excellent and much, much longer compilation of upcoming and ongoing progressive events in Seattle, check out Jean Buskin's Peace Calendar: or e-mail her at Also, check out


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