Tag Archives: election

A Modest Proposal for Politicians

science education test coverNOTE: This post is about sexual assault and pregnancy and stupid, stupid remarks from men.

Last summer, the otherwise unknown Todd Akin, running for the Senate in Misouri, said the following in an interview when asked why he doesn’t support abortion in the case of rape or incest:

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

There was much snickering and frustration in the land after this sound bite, namely from people who find such nonsense revolting. Immediately progressives and pro-choice advocates slammed Akin, asking if that was how he felt in the cases of 9-year-old girls who get pregnant after sexual assault, and so on. Popular culture and news media aren’t exactly adept at communicating about horrific events like pregnant children, and so it was that for a time, worst case scenarios floated about social networking sites and cable television like confetti after a They Might Be Giants concert (or a political convention).

But looking at Mr. Akin’s statement, we see that he is not alone in holding such an extreme position, nor with this significant amount of conviction. Here are other statements about rape and pregnancy: Read More…

Ballots other than butterfly

Election Day came and went, and the Walla Walla County’s Web site put up the results of the vote the next day. After looking at the statewide referendum and initiative results, I skimmed down to the city council tallies, and as expected, I did not win the Position 3 race. Technically unopposed, each of the three people running for the open slots on the council won by more than 95 percent of the votes cast. But I did note something interesting: Positions 1 and 2 received more than 97 percent, but Position 3 only got 96.35 percent. What was going on here? Were people getting fatigued—after all, they’d voted for two statewide contests, a state representative, a school board member, port commissioner, and depending on the ballot, other local offices, before getting to the city council seats. I could infer that some of the lost votes. Surely there wasn’t something qualitatively different about the guy running for the third slot, was there? Or did I really get 1 percent of the vote with my 3-week-long Facebook-focused write in campaign?


I had to know.

I emailed the county elections board, not without a fair amount of irony, because several months ago I’d applied for the job of county elections supervisor (hey, I’m grasping at the employment straws here, what can I say). I figured they wouldn’t remember me, or even if they did, that they’d respond to me anyway. I presume the conversation would go something like this:

County Employee #1: Hey Glenda, get a load of this?

Glenda: What, Ralph?

Ralph: That nutjob Everett guy wants to know how many votes he got yesterday.

Glenda: Isn’t that the guy who tried to get your job, Ralph?

Ralph: Sure is. Apparently he had some jerky write-in thing going.

Glenda: Wow, he really is crazy. I bet he named himself after the city of Everett.

Ralph: If he did, he should have stayed west side, then. What a loser!

After having such a conversation, they collected themselves and replied to my email, saying that the county is only required to tally write-in votes if the person on the ticket didn’t get a majority of the votes. Since we can go ahead and say that 96.35 percent is a majority of the votes cast, I don’t think I’ll ever know how many votes I really got, but I’m betting it was more than 20, and certainly more than Mickey Mouse and Yoda combined. I am a little reminded of Richard Pryor’s “None of the Above” campaign in Brewster’s Millions, which, when I first saw it, made absolutely no sense to my 12-year-old brain. Why on earth would anyone cast a vote for no one?

But I’m glad that I started a dialogue, at least among some Walla Wallans, about their local government and how it seems to work (or not, as the case may be). Nobody I talked to seemed to know what these councilmen-elect stand for, what their goals are, how they feel about things like repairing the 25 percent defective water infrastructure in the city.

Along the way, the woman running to retain her seat in the state legislature, Laura Grant, intimated to me that should I want to run “for real” next time, I should let her know. So I think I’ll try to put my toes in the water and see how things really work around here. And sheesh, find some stimulus money for the pipe and road rebuilding, people. That’s got to be better than raising water rates by 50 percent.

In the meantime, I’ve been working of putting several recipes into a cookbook for some holiday presents to our family. This started out as a small idea and has grown rapidly, the point that many more people want a copy of the cookbook than we can afford to produce. So starting next week, I’m going to open a new page on this blog dedicated to our cooking and baking, and links to other foodie blogs we like. I hope you all enjoy it.

Running for difference

Walla Walla has a City Council. This I knew before we moved here. The Mayor position is filled on a rotating basis with someone from the Council, voted on by members of the Council themselves. So the good citizens of Walla Walla don’t directly vote for a mayor. Representative government at its best?

Possibly not. I received my ballot in the mail on Friday, which I still find unsettling as a process, this whole vote by mail thing, and looked at what was on it. The Referendum 71, to keep or ditch domestic partner benefits for Washington State, and the Initiative 1033, to gut funding for programming from libraries to nursing homes, I already knew about. There are signs all over for the state representative job, so I knew I’d see that on the ballot. I’d heard a peep about the two men running for the commissioner of the Port of Walla Walla, but not much, and I’d heard absolutely nothing about the three people running unopposed for the open slots on the Council. Unopposed. All three of them.

What was this about? Were they all shoo-ins? Or did no one care who sat on the Council?

I ran to the Internet—okay, I didn’t run, seeing as my laptop was a few feet away—and looked up information on the races. Well, when I say “looked up,” I typed in a few keywords (namely, walla walla election city council 2009), and then voila, I got bupkus. Maybe on page 2. Nope. One article on the contested Port Commissioner job, and nothing else. Apparently “Walla Walla” is a link at the bottom of many pages on Washington State politics, skewing my results. Three pages into my search I gave up.

On the Walla Walla city Web site it lists the current members, and with five minutes more of digging, I found the name of the mayor, Dominic Elia. Sheesh, no need to put your names out there, folks, you’re only running the city.

So where were these people who were campaigning for positions 1, 2, and 3? What were their ideas about making the city a great place to live and work? Where did they think we need improvement? How are they prepared to handle the tax revenue issues in these difficult times? And my biggest question of all:

Why didn’t you jackasses move the snow off the streets last year?

Feeling frustrated and fanciful after inking in oval after oval on my ballot, I wrote in my own name on Position 3. Too bad for you, Daniel Johnson, who I’m sure will be elected anyway. I sealed up the envelope, avoiding the paper cut of last year, and put my poll tax—I mean, stamp—on the front.

Later that day, a friend who’d just lost her grandmother came over for some apple crisp and tea. As we were chatting, I mentioned I’d audaciously written myself in to the council, figuring I’d be right down there with Mickey Mouse and Yoda. Her reaction surprised me.

“I’m voting for you!”

“Oh, really, you don’t need to do that,” I said, waving my hands in front of me like they’d save me against her 18-wheeler of a response.

“No, I’m writing you in, and I’m telling all my friends to do it, too!”

Oh my God. How . . . how, fantastic. I mean, there’s no way I could win, what with 30,000 registered voters in the county and me knowing exactly 138 people here. So they would be throwing away a vote for one seat in an unopposed race. Low stakes. So why not tell her to shout from the Blue Mountain range if she wanted to?

I’m up to 12 votes at this point, and kind of tickled pink. Maybe I should have a motto, but everything I come up with seems to have a serious drawback:

Vote for Everett Maroon, Because Maroon Means Mayor in Arabic

Because Someone on the Council Should Be Able to Rock a Bejeweled Blitz Game

Putting Walla Walla’s Nondriscrimination Clause to Work!

He’s Even Named After a City in Washington

Because Who Cares, Really?

I may even take a picture of myself mailing in my ballot.

Five statements from the crystal ball of the obvious


wasserman political cartoon

wasserman political cartoon

Intrepid readers of this blog will recall that before Election Day I made some crack about CNN showing some crude holograms as part of it’s “Watch Us!” election coverage. I said it in jest and with a jaundiced eye, and then lo and behold, there is Wolf Blitzer having a rather inane conversation with a “virtual” reporter — about the technology and not the election. Whether said “holograms” were real or not, I was prescient. So with such completely uninspiring obviousness, here are a few other “predictions:”

1. Obamania will be fading fast by the end of the first 100 days. The message about hope is great, the enthusiasm is fantastic, and you can’t live in DC for more than a decade and not feel like the obvious differences between Obama and the outgoing administration hit you like a truck pileup on the Beltway. But to enact his ideas he simply has to govern from the center, which is going to strike some — vehicle carnage aside — as inauthentic at some point. It isn’t necessarily the case, but there will be some folks who see this as a selling out — and it’s just a matter of time when people feel like Obama’s pulled a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” or a welfare reform bill that we weren’t expecting.

2. The Daily Show will be no more — Jon Stewart for one isn’t going to want to continue walking the tightrope of making fun of the people in power in a politically “incorrect” way without getting TOO incorrect about it, for one. But without the 8-foot wide pipe of shit that was the Bush White House giving Comedy Central such excellent material, we’re going to need a new kind of political humor. Jon is going to jump ship to more mainstream broadcast comedy — probably after Jay Leno’s next gig fails right out of the gate. Long live Conan.

3. Reversals to the tightening of reproductive rights laws is either going to happen quietly and successfully, or is going to be the once and future “gay marriage” of the religious right. I’ve seen it only on the margins of reporting so far that Obama will reverse the global gag rule — that to get federal funding for family planning practitioners have to first and foremost talk about abstinence-only practices — and given that this is something they’re planning in the first week in office, signals that there is some Hillary agenda being taken up within the administration. So if they’re serious about rescinding that executive order, will they go the next step and try to get some more permanent legislation passed? If that’s the case, how will they work that on the Hill? With fanfare or under cover of night?

4. Michelle Obama is only going to First Lady us for so long before the Real Michelle stands up — and by that I mean that you cannot possibly contain this smart lady within the narrow confines of the duties and office of First Lady for long. While I think the President (I’m only jumping the title gun by a couple of hours here) is anxious not to repeat any Clintonian mistakes, like putting her in charge of health care, I do think she’ll get some kind of policy duty. She’s not going to be content with picking out furniture, talking about the girls’ school choice, and continuing Laura’s quite boring legacy of the National Book Expo on the Mall.

5. The $850B stimulus bill is not going to pass in the way we think it will today. Already there are rumblings about how it’s not going to help anyone in the near future. If that logic catches wind in the Capitol, who’s going to vote for it? Obama will likely get a lot more traction on job creation than in having to constantly spin the stimulus as something other than a “typical” Democrat tax and spend program. But again, I’m as jaded as a cheap Obama statue currently being sold in a small mobile vehicle parked 100 years from the Washington Monument….

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