Monday, 20 March 2006

A Local Effort

Part of what kept me away from posting more regularly here over the last month was prioritizing my attention toward the passage of a local school construction bond and technology levy in my own school district. My focus on Choosing Hope has never been local, so those efforts went elsewhere, both online and out in the community. Both measures passed handily, in spite of the onerous 60% Yes vote required for their passage in our state.

While it was certainly gratifying that this particular local vote went as I wished, after the election I was disappointed to discover (via Noemie Maxwell's reporting) that our state legislature - specifically the Senate - once again failed to act to relax the requirements for these types of votes in the future.

I wrote nearly a year ago about the patently illogical requirements for these bills' passage, and what I perceived to be an overreaching by supporters of reform, when a modest improvement might significantly improve the odds that popular bonds and levies pass. I'm very impatient with tactical or procedural impediments to lawmakers coming together to bring obviously needed reform to a system. Advocates for relaxing the requirements have been working this issue for years, and clear majorities in both legislative chambers support some form of reform, but the legislature has yet to present a required constitution change to the voters for statewide approval.

Personally I wouldn't even mind something greater than simple majority - say 54 or 55% - along with the removal/change of the illogical validation requirements, though I understand well enough the simplicity of arguing for simple majority. We should figure out what will pass and get it out there, instead of having the issue tied up for years. Dan Steele, of the Washington State School Directors’ Association, explained the procedural logistics of not bringing last years vote up when failure was expected, since leaving it alone automatically gets it reintroduced for this year's session. This year though, any bill not passing would have to be reintroduced with a different number to next year's legislature which will be a changed body based on this year's elections.

As for our local measures, there was a somewhat coordinated opposition, complete with yard signs and blog posts here and here. As with any issue not all objections were specious, nor were all supporters grounded in truth and logic, but I was close enough to the needs of the district to be convinced that failure of either of these measures would be devastating.

Now I'll have to keep my eye on the ball to make sure my own voice is heard in time NEXT year when the legislature should be looking at levy reform again. Many school districts struggle to muster the 60% required vote, or enough votes to validate the election. Quite a few have failed with a 58 or 59% Yes vote.

Wednesday, 15 March 2006

Feingold does not shy away from truth

Russ Feingold consistently follows his conscience rather than bending to political expediency. His modest call for censure of President Bush would pass overwhelmingly but for the fact that most senators behave in the opposite manner and must weigh the political calculus of supporting Feingold's call before doing what's right. Maybe this poll will help them along. It's truly laughable that Frist (of the Schiavo stunt) would decry the move as a political stunt.

Even if you don't see the secret surveillance program which bypassed the required FISA warrants as anywhere close to the most outrageous act of our outlaw government (and I would agree), it is a clear case where the law was broken, yet Bush unapologetically defends his lawlessness. This administration must be censured and Feingold correctly asserts that enough is enough.

Yesterday, mcjoan at DailyKos, made this discerning post, in which she called out these earlier words of John McCain:
Mr. Chief Justice, I intend to vote to convict the President of the United States on both articles of impeachment. To say I do so with regret will sound trite to some, but I mean it sincerely. I deeply regret that this day has come to pass.

I bear no animosity for the President. I take no partisan satisfaction from this matter. I don't lightly dismiss the public's clear opposition to conviction. And I am genuinely concerned that the institution of the Presidency not be harmed, either by the President's conduct, or by Congress' reaction to his conduct.

Indeed, I take no satisfaction at all from this vote, with one exception--and an important exception it is--that by voting to convict I have been spared reproach by my conscience for shirking my duty.

The Senate faces an awful choice, to be sure. But, to my mind, it is a clear choice. I am persuaded that the President has violated his oath of office by committing perjury and by obstructing justice, and that by so doing he has forfeited his office.
Of course, McCain was speaking in 1999 about a different President, but those words could work brilliantly from a moderate Democrat's standpoint today.

On a less serious note, I laughed when I first heard of the government's request to seek data from Google on common internet search strings. Right away I did Google searches for "Bush should be impeached" and "Cheney should be jailed", hoping to drive those numbers up. I suppose the reduced request probably turn up such numbers, but overstepping the bounds of what data this administration would mine would certainly not surprise me.

For those of you who have been checking in here periodically over the last several weeks, I do apologize for my silence. The good news is that a lot of others have been picking up the slack. I'll likely never be a daily blogger, but I still would like to avoid multiple week gaps. Life does dictate otherwise from time to time.

Previous Choosing Hope articles which reference Russ Feingold:
Comity Prevails
Thanks to Senators opposing Gonzales
Anticipating the Firestorm
Give 'em Hell Harry
my comment on Feingold at "What is Liberalism?"