Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Well, We're Movin' On Up!

Everyone always asks me, "Tom, what's next after Wal-Mart?"

Now I have an answer.  After over three years and 3,572 posts, Palousitics is going national in a big way.

Red County Magazine is a high quality, bi-monthly publication targeting center-right readers on topics such as business, lifestyle, politics, education, technology, and real estate though a center-right political lens.  The magazine utilizes many well-respected commentators, writers, and accomplished community leaders for daily analysis.

Red County has recently started a series of conservative political blogs that reach a large national audience.  Check out their home page www.redcounty.com

I was approached by the Scott Graves, president and editor-in-chief of Red County and Michael Kerr, the editor of Red County Washington and asked to bring Palousitics into the Red County network of blogs.  They have been following us for a long time and feel we have a high-quality blog that deserves a larger statewide and national audience.

So now we're going to get one. Palousitics is becoming "Red County Eastern Washington."

There will be a different look and a different website, and we'll be expanding our area of interest to cover everything east of the mountains, but we'll still have the same Palousitics writers you've come to know and love, the same insightful and hard-hitting commentary, all of our previous posts, and the same mission of engaging, educating, and entertaining.

Starting at Midnight, this blog will be permanently redirected to the new Red County blog. But you can go ahead now and point your browser to www.redcounty.com/eastwashington.

Thanks for a great three years, and see you at the new site!

"Pullman council considering plastic bag fee"

Some quick observations from last night's plastic bag tax public hearing:

  • The total number of signatures on the Pullman Consumers for Choice petition was 132.

  • A total of four council members spoke on the plastic bag tax last night. Bill Paul felt that the debate had been healthy. Ann Heath said the science on plastic bags was sketchy and didn't think government was the answer to every perceived problem. Keith Bloom agreed with the need for education on the issue but didn't think we needed to harm Pullman business with a new tax. Nathan Weller believed incentives for using reusable bags would be better than a tax.

  • Based on comments made by Mayor Johnson, there were (predictably) many people from Moscow in attendance. Keith Bloom had the perfect retort. He read from the Moscow Food Co-Op's latest newsletter, in which the Co-Op heartily denounces the evils of plastic bags, but then states the Co-Op is not ready to start charging for them or stop using them. Nothing like leading by example.

  • The Huskies have a better chance of being in Pasadena on New Year's Day than the plastic bag tax has of being in place in Pullman on New Year's Day.

  • Dramatic visual aids, like a big ball of plastic bags, are no substitute for hard science and facts.

  • Poor Ponce de Leon. He thought the secret to immortality was a fountain. Turns out it is a plastic bag.

  • Speaking of silliness, I have some advice for you "progressives" if you actually want to get things done:
  • Try showing a little respect and tact. When your side spoke, we listened quietly and didn't interrupt your little "spontaneous" applause session. However, when I was speaking, there was mumbled snide disapprobation from the audience throughout. Most people in attendance were well over 40. You'd think those people wouldn't act like 3rd graders giggling at an assembly. And the highlight of the night was Chris Lupke's dramatic dress-swishing, heel-clicking exit as Councilmember Ann Heath was expressing her disagreement with the proposed bag tax. Lu Laoshi sighed so loud, the whole room heard it. Classy.

  • For God's sake, get out more. Interact with people that have opposing viewpoints. Mix with the unwashed masses. An older lady wanted to speak with me afterward and just COULDN'T understand where I was coming from. She couldn't have been more flummoxed if I had been speaking Klingon. Michael's "Pauline Kael" column was right on the money. Living in echo chambers is not conducive to public debate. Try to understand your opponents. Validate their arguments. One thing I was always proud of with the Wal-Mart battle was that I felt I could argue both sides equally as well (though not equally factually.)
  • From KXLY in Spokane:
    PULLMAN -- Many shoppers take free grocery bags for granted, but by January, each plastic bag could cost Pullman shoppers $.20 each, if one local group gets its way.

    Tuesday night, both sides made their arguments in front of Pullman's city council. One side says recycling doesn't work, and people won't respond unless they are charged. The other side argues a fee will only encourage shoppers to leave town and find less expensive groceries elsewhere.

    A chair reserved in the back for a twenty five pound ball of plastic bags was the first indicator of what most people came to talk about at the packed city council meeting. Both sides were allotted 15 minutes to share their opinions. Those with a group called Bring Your Own Bag, Pullman spoke up sharing how other cities including Seattle have implemented fees to reduce the negative environmental impact of plastic bags.

    "The plastic bag that you got today at a grocery store is going to be on the planet longer than you are," bag fee supporter Elizabeth Siler said. "That's a kind of immortality that's kind of scary when you think about it."

    On the other side, a group called Pullman Consumers for Choice argued that people should be educated, and encouraged to recycle before they are punished with fees.

    "Kind of a coercive measure, and I think it's not appropriate for government to do that," bag fee opponent Tony Forbes said. "I think it should be the people that make choices about environment."

    No decision was made by city council, but at least two council members spoke up after the discussion saying they would favor more of an educational approach than a fee based approach to reducing the use of plastic bags. A decision will be made later this fall.

    The Biden Bounce

    Since Obama announced Joe Biden as his running mate last Friday, McCain has gained in the polls. The latest Gallop poll has McCain at 46% to 44% for Obama. This is with the Dems in convention! Obama should have jumped at least 5%, instead his poll numbers are dropping like a flat basketball. It seems the more people learn about Obama, the more they are turning to McCain.

    Tuesday, August 26, 2008

    Pullman Has Too Many Businesses

    Or so you would think with the Pullman City Council voting to license and regulate Pullman business. There are so many people wanting to invest in Pullman, they need to be curtailed, for safety reasons. Thanks for saving us. /sarcasm

    Congrats and thank you to the only Pullman City Councilman who voted against the new regulation, Palousitics own Nathan Weller. I appreciate your effort. I had truly hoped that the Council would see the folly of the new regulation, but they didn't. Now the resentment can start again. We will pay the fee and the City will not know any more about business ownership than they do now.

    No Pullman Plastic Bag Tax Petition Locations

    A hardcopy version of the Pullman Consumers for Choice petition asking the Pullman City Council to reject the proposed 20 cents per plastic bag tax is available to sign at the following retailers *UPDATED 8/22 to add Dissmores IGA* :

    N22 Nutrition
    588 SE Bishop Blvd (Edison Center)
    Suite G
    Pullman, WA 99163
    (N22 Nutrition owner Brian Edwards is a bright, hard-working young entrepreneur. Pullman needs a 100 more like him.)

    Radio Shack
    588 SE Bishop Blvd (Edison Center)
    Suite F
    Pullman, WA 99163

    Dissmores Hometown Proud IGA
    1205 N. Grand Ave.
    Pullman, WA 99163

    This list will be edited as more locations are added.

    Please stop by, sign the petition, and support our local merchants.

    If A Columnist Falls From the Paper, Does Anyone Care?

    Self-aggrandizing Moscow-Pullman Daily News columnist Chuck Pezeshki has created a bit of a firestorm over his latest throwaway paean to eco-terrorists published on August 16. In it, Chuck wrote:
    Frank Bennett, that ostensible local communitarian, at my last check was living in Palm Springs.
    Uh, there's a slight problem there. Frank Bennett does not, nor has he ever, lived in Palm Springs. But why let truth stand in the way of a good anarchist rant?

    The problem for Chuck is that Mr. Bennett has many friends in the area. A letter to the editor appeared in the paper today correcting Chuck's lie.

    The real question is, where was the editorial staff fact checking? Is Chuck just allowed to publish anything he wants? At a recent Palousitics lunch, Daily News Managing Editor Steve McClure told us that another columnist had been let go for promulgating false information.

    We'll see where this goes.

    Say What? Dean Says Republicans Divide?

    Unbelievable! The last time I checked it was Democrats who divide America into groups and set them all against each other. It seems to me that it's blacks against women at the Democrat convention this year.

    Does Tyana Kelley Think Gov. Gregoire is Insensitive?

    Democratic 9th Legislative District State Representative candidate Tyana Kelley wrote on her blog:
    The Republican candidates were out in force at both parades. Each candidate had their own vehicle: either a gas-guzzling truck, or car with an equally big engine. In Albion we were put in the line to walk right in between all these vehicles. It was a bit intimidating. My opponent, Joe Schmick, had the biggest truck, a Ford F-350. With gas at $4.50/gallon, it seemed a bit insensitive.

    I wonder what Tyana thought of Governor Gregoire's Lentil Festival Grand Parade ride, a Ford Mustang convertible (EPA estimated gas mileage 15 MPG city/23 MPG highway with 4.6L engine and manual transmission)? I think that counts as a "gas guzzling car with an equally big engine."

    I seriously doubt the Governor has had to gas up since she signed the 9.5 cent gas tax hike into law 3 years ago. She doesn't feel the same pain at the pump that Washington's working families do.

    Is It Too Late For Obama To Declare A Mulligan?

    Call it Joementum!

    It’s official: Barack Obama has received no bounce in voter support out of his selection of Sen. Joe Biden to be his vice presidential running mate.

    Gallup Poll Daily tracking from Aug. 23-25, the first three-day period falling entirely after Obama’s Saturday morning vice presidential announcement, shows 46% of national registered voters backing John McCain and 44% supporting Obama, not appreciably different from the previous week’s standing for both candidates. This is the first time since Obama clinched the nomination in early June, though, that McCain has held any kind of advantage over Obama in Gallup Poll Daily tracking.

    BREAKING NEWS: Pullman Chamber of Commerce Opposes Plastic Bag Tax

    A statement issued today by Tammy Lewis, Executive Director of the Pullman Chamber of Commerce:
    The Pullman Chamber of Commerce is opposed to a mandated fee for the use of plastic bags. Promoting the use of reusable bags, recycling or reusing plastic bags is a much better alternative. With food prices already high, instituting a fee like this would not be good for our local economy. Not only would this put an unnecessary burden on area residents (especially students), it would add to the cost of doing business for store owners. Business owners would have to monitor and administer the tax, adding to their work load and employee costs, all which could end up absorbed into increased cost to consumers.

    We would suggest organizing an awareness campaign or offering convenient alternatives to plastic bags as a more favorable answer.
    In other related news, the city of Kingman, AZ yesterday rejected a plastic bag tax.

    BREAKING NEWS: Christine Gregoire Discovers Small Eastern Washington Town Named Pullman

    "I was doing a two-day swing through eastern Washington, heard about the Lentil Festival, had never been here," said Gregoire.

    [Mayor]Glenn Johnson commented it was the first time he could recall a governor proceeding down Grand and Main

    See? It's not your imagination that they don't know who we are over in Olympia. That sure doesn't stop them from passing idiotic laws that don't belong here.

    Introductory Chemistry For Nancy Pelosi

    Over this last weekend, Nancy Pelosi (who is trying to save the planet) declared that natural gas (which she has invested in) is an attractive alternative to fossil fuels. Today's Wall Street Journal lets the Speaker in on a little secret - burning natural gas emits carbon.

    It's frightening that someone so intellectually mediocre has so much power. It's a testament to our founding fathers that they limited the power that politicians may wield, because it's quite obvious that fools like Pelosi, Reid, Obama and Biden couldn't manage the garden department at Wal Mart.

    Monday, August 25, 2008

    A Few Thoughts from the Dem Convention Tonight

    Putting aside the carefully crafted speeches and images, there are a few things that stood out for me.

    1. Hillarycare is back. I don't doubt that this was in part to placate the Hillary camp.

    2. Look for expanded homosexual rights.

    3. Pelosi is toast. In a highly orchestrated, very enthusiastic event which usually gets cheers for anything and everything, her mention of natural gas alternatives was received with groans and murmurs.

    4. MSNBC's "reporting" was nauseating. It was impossible to tell the difference between the delegates and the MSNBC crew.

    5. Ted Kennedy was not a surprise guest. It had been all over the news that he was going to speak tonight. Sheesh, the delegates even had signs ready and were shouting "Teddy, Teddy!" That didn't stop MSNBC and FOX News from reporting that Ted Kennedy was a special, surprise guest. More evidence that the Dems and the TV media think we are all stupid.

    While the Turkeys Party in Denver, 265 People Lose Their Jobs

    As the Democrats party it up in Denver at what they are calling the greenest convention ever, the real life effects of the Democrat energy policies are being felt just thirty miles north of Denver. 265 Coloradians are losing their jobs because of the Democrat energy and emission fiasco. There will be fewer jobs for Colorado and fewer turkeys for the American family's dinner table.

    Butterball LLC executives announced the cuts Monday, blaming ethanol demand for driving up the cost of corn, soybean meal and other feed ingredients.

    This November, we need to elect fewer turkeys to government and put more turkeys on the American Thanksgiving table.

    Joe Biden Foreign Policy

    Supposedly, Barack Hussein Obama selected Joe Biden to shore up the tickets foreign policy credentials.

    How about these credentials? The New Republic reports on the rumination of the man whom Democrats hope will be a heartbeat away from the presidency on the afternoon of January 20, 2009.

    At the Tuesday-morning meeting with committee staffers, Biden launches into a stream-of-consciousness monologue about what his committee should be doing, before he finally admits the obvious: "I'm groping here." Then he hits on an idea: America needs to show the Arab world that we're not bent on its destruction. "Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran," Biden declares. He surveys the table with raised eyebrows, a How do ya like that? look on his face.

    Read the whole story so that you can fully appreciate what a bloviating idiot Joe Biden is.

    Here's how the article starts.

    It's a bright early October morning on Capitol Hill. Joe Biden is bounding up the steps of the Russell Senate Office Building, wearing his trademark grin. As he makes for the door, he is met by a group of airline pilots and flight attendants looking vaguely heroic in their navy-blue uniforms and wing-shaped pins. A blandly handsome man in a pilot's cap steps forward and asks Biden to help pass emergency benefits for laid-off airline workers. Biden nods as the men and women cluster around him with fawning smiles. Then he speaks. "I hope you will support my work on Amtrak as much as I have supported you," he begins. (Biden rides Amtrak to work every day and is obsessed with the railroad.) "If not, I will screw you badly."

    A dozen faces fall in unison as Biden lectures on. "You've not been good to me. You're also damn selfish. You better listen to me..." It goes on like this for a couple of minutes. Strangely, Biden keeps grinning--even fraternally slapping the stunned man's shoulder a couple of times. When we finally head into the building, Biden's communications director, Norm Kurz, turns to me. "What you just witnessed is classic Senator Biden."

    Barack Obama: That Was Not The George Hussein Obama I Knew

    This guy lives on one dollar a month.

    Figures Don't Lie, but Liars Figure

    Christine Gregoire continues to campaign around the state making the claim that she inherited a $2.5 billion dollar deficit and has turned it around to a $800 million dollar surplus. I understand that she was on KQQQ just this morning telling the same nonsense. Who does she think she is kidding when there is so much information to the contrary? Gregoire must be gambling that we are such hicks in Eastern Washington that we won't be able to make the correlation between her mandated state hiring freeze and the upcoming $2.7 billion dollar deficit. She must also think we have the memory of gnat.

    Fossil Media Death Throes

    Speaking of the Sacramento Bee, I hear the death rattle of another ultra-liberal dead tree rag.

    The Bee offered voluntary buyouts to the majority of its full-time employees today and hinted that another round of layoffs is possible as well.

    The buyouts represent the latest round of cost cutting at The Bee, which is facing a big slump in advertising revenue. Two months ago the newspaper eliminated 86 jobs as part of an across-the-board layoff ordered by its parent, The McClatchy Co. of Sacramento. McClatchy imposed a companywide wage freeze two weeks ago.

    But Bee executives said today they needed to make more cuts. The economic downturn has deepened and The Bee, like the rest of the newspaper industry, continues to struggle with the migration of business to the Internet and other media.

    Here's a Real Shocker

    According to the AP:
    Attorneys for embattled Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick say they won't try to have his travel restrictions lifted in time for him to attend the Democratic National Convention.

    Spokesman Marcus Reese says Kilpatrick is focused on "serving the citizens of Detroit, not on presidential politics."

    Kilpatrick can't leave the Detroit area as a condition of his bond on two assault charges.
    I wonder how many other superdelegates and close friends of the Dalai Bama will not be able to attend the convention without violating the conditions of their parole?

    Speaking of Democratic sleaze, neither John "Two Timing Americas" Edwards, nor his love child, appear on the convention schedule.

    Nor does the Good Reverend Jesse JacksoN-word, who has spoken at every Democratic National Convention since 1984, presumably because of Secret Service concern over the security of the Democratic presidential nominee's genitals. However, Jackson's son, Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., will speak, ironically enough, on the "One Nation" theme today.

    California Goes Over To The Dark Side

    California is about to slap a 25 cent per bag tax on plastic grocery bags, with the support of grocery chains, who see it as a cost cutting measure.

    The plastic grocery bag is fighting for its crinkly life.

    From the city of San Francisco to Los Angeles County, more than a dozen local governments around the state have proposed or passed plastic-bag restrictions, ranging from recycling mandates to outright bans.

    Now, a proposal in the Legislature would put a 25-cent fee on all disposable bags – paper or plastic – given out at drug and grocery store check stands starting Jan. 1, 2010. It has won key support from the grocery and retail industries and faces its next legislative step today.

    Those in favor of the fee, led by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, and a collection of environmental groups, point to dirty oceans, sewers fouled with plastic and millions of dollars in litter-cleanup costs. Opponents – mainly bag-industry and taxpayer organizations – say plastic bags draw more blame than they deserve and the fee would be a burden on consumers.

    "People have completely lost their perspective," said Stephen Joseph, a Tiburon lawyer who runs savetheplasticbag.com, an industry group.

    Both sides expect a fee would drive shoppers to switch to reusable bags. After Ireland imposed a fee on plastic checkout-counter bags in 2002, their use dropped by about 90 percent.

    About 80 percent of bags given out in the state's supermarkets are plastic, according to Californians Against Waste, an advocacy group.

    Winning over grocers

    Powerful grocery and retail industry groups objected to an early version of the proposal that put a fee only on plastic bags. They worried that stores would be pressured to switch to paper bags, which cost about 8 cents each vs. about 1.5 cents for a plastic bag.

    Now that the measure – Assembly Bill 2769 – covers both paper and plastic, though, grocers are behind it.

    Big supermarket and drugstore chains would rather have a single statewide standard than a growing number of local regulations. Also, doing away with free bags could save them money.

    Checkout-counter sacks cost supermarkets on the order of $1,500 to $6,000 a month, according to bag makers. That's a considerable expense in a business where the median monthly profit, after taxes, is about $30,000 per store, according to data from the Food Marketing Institute.

    'Cuz Every Voter's Crazy 'Bout a Sharp Dressed Gal

    While Democrat Tyana Kelley is campaigning for "working class families" in Washington's 9th Legislative District, she is using her campaign funds to shop at ritzy clothing stores like Macy's and New York and Company.

    According to PDC reports, nearly 10% of the $3701.01 Kelley has spent so far has been on clothing. I'm sure the working families of this district who are dealing with the nation's highest gas tax, courtesy of the Democratic legislature and Governor Gregoire, would love to treat themselves to a $300 shopping spree.

    Luckily for the union-backed Kelley, none of the purchases have been made at Wal-Mart. However, it is interesting to note that Kelley, who has falsely claimed that Rep. Joe Schmick believes that "businesses in WA border towns should be able to pay lower wages in order to compete with Idaho minimum wage" herself spent $62.54 at Macy's, which, of course, IS LOCATED ACROSS THE BORDER IN MOSCOW, IDAHO.

    On her PDC report, Kelley even tries to pull a fast one by reporting that Macy's is located in Pullman:

    Kelley feels 9th District voters are "underrepresented" in Olympia. If she means we are not represented by spendthrifts who have no loyalty to Washington businesses, she's exactly right.

    Oh, and Tyana, just one more thing: love your suit.

    Sunday, August 24, 2008

    Nancy Pelosi's Intelligence

    Nancy Pelosi says that the latest John McCain advertisement "insults our intelligence." Here's how intelligent Nancy Pelosi is.

    “I believe in natural gas as a clean, cheap alternative to fossil fuels,” she said at one point. Natural gas “is cheap, abundant and clean compared to fossil fuels,” she said at another.


    Nancy Pelosi is fortunate that she's not a contestant in the teenaged Miss America contest.

    Joe Biden: Bush and Cheney Were Right!

    More material for McCain campaign spots.

    In Camelot!

    In the darkest, deepest reaches of enemy territory, the Queen summoned up the moldy ghosts of Camelot to try and revive her faltering campiagn.

    According to the Lewiston Tribune, at a campaign speech in Clarkston yesterday, the Governor said:
    "I first met Michelle when she visited Washington a few months ago," Gregoire said. "She reminded me of Jacqueline Kennedy. Like Kennedy, I'm predicting she will be loved and respected around the globe. As a child, I was inspired by John F. Kennedy, and I see that same kind of inspiration coming from Barack Obama. That's why I think he's the right choice. It's time for America to get new leadership."
    Yep, JFK inspired the young Chris Gregoire so much, just 3 years after his assassination, she joined a sorority at UW (later becoming president) that only allowed girls that were white and Christian.

    No doubt the Queen was prompted to make such an absurd comparison by Obama's "Ich Bin Ein Beginner" speech and Michelle Obama's "Jackie" sartorial makeover. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.

    Gregoire's Kennedy connection is as strained and incredulous as BHO's own fanciful tale of JFK bringing his father over from Kenya.

    Let's Buck Up a Bit

    I checked the Constitution, and darn it, I couldn’t find it. I was looking for the part where the high price of lumber is a high crime and misdemeanor constituting grounds for impeaching the president.

    The Founding Fathers dropped the ball on that one, but the writer of a recent letter to the editor on this page, in a spectacular display of infantilism, picked it up by issuing another call for impeaching the president. Her beef? Sundry economic woes, including the high price of lumber.

    This letter exposes an ugly strain of whininess that has infected our nation, but it’s an election year, so polls show Chicken Little leading in the electoral vote count. Ask the average person and you’d be told that the United States is in the middle of a steep recession. Fanning the flames of this four-alarm panic are the leftist “mainstream” media, for if they can’t convince you that bread lines and “Brother, can you spare a dime?” are just over the horizon, you won’t vote for their poodle for president.

    A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth (economist-speak, I think, for shrinkage). Yet during the first quarter of 2008, the economy grew at a rate of 0.9 percent, during the second quarter, 1.9 percent. Not robust growth to be sure, but growth nonetheless. There is no recession. Nothing has receded.

    But let’s take a bit of a longer view. In 1996 the U.S. unemployment rate in the middle of Clintonomics was 5.4 percent, about the same as it is now. In 1997, gross domestic product, a measure of the nation’s output of goods and services, was roughly $8 trillion. In 2007 GDP was $13.8 trillion. At the beginning of 1997, interest rates on 30-year fixed mortgages ranged from 7.8 to 8 percent. Today rates range from 6.5 to 6.9 percent, making homes more affordable for thousands of buyers. In 1997, the price of computing was measured in dollars per megabyte. Today it’s measured in cents per gigabyte. According to Pew Research Center data, since 1992, the percentage of Americans who agree that they “can afford what they want” has risen steadily from 39 percent to 52 percent, the highest ever. The point is that the United States enjoys a robust and diversified economy, one that rides out the inexorable cycles of ups and downs—a cycle dramatically illustrated by oil prices, which, after hitting $147 a barrel, were down to $114 as I write. If high gas prices are grounds for impeachment, then the same logic dictates that lower gas prices are grounds for a third term.

    There are other reasons to stop whining. In 1996, U.S. life expectancy was 75.9 years. Today it’s over 78 years—81 if you’re a woman—and in nearly every major disease category, death rates are sharply down. In 1996 the infant mortality rate was 7.3 deaths per 1,000 live births. Today the rate is 6.4. Crime rates are down by half since the early 1990s. Violent crime is down roughly 60 percent. School violence is down roughly 50 percent. Admittedly, I’m cherry-picking. Gloomsters could cite other statistics. But c’mon, let’s buck up a little. Are some people struggling? Sure. Some struggled under Clinton in the 1990s. Others will struggle if the poodle wins best in show. But struggle sweetens success. Struggle calls forth faculties.

    I was thinking about all this in connection with a heart-warming story that recently came to my attention. Maybe you’ve heard it. In early 2002, a member of the Maasai tribe in remote Kenya returned home from Stanford University to tell horrified villagers about the events of 9/11. The village elders gathered to determine how they could express their grief at what happened in the country that had embraced and educated one of their sons. They concluded that the handkerchief that would wipe away America’s tears would be a gift of 14 of their cows. These are people who are dirt poor; Kenyans’ annual per capita income is about $360. The Maasai didn’t know about 9/11 because they have no television or radio, nor electricity to run them. The only resource they have, one they regard as sacred, are cows.

    And we grouse about the price of lumber. Good grief.

    Michael J. O'Neal labors sweatily as a freelance writer. You can hitch him to your draycart at http://thespeech-writer.com.

    And Obama Said, Let There Be Renewable Energy

    Obama declares that our economy will be transformed. Big words for a man who "has never run so much as a Dairy Queen."

    By 2012 he would "require" the economy's huge energy sector to -- here things become comic -- supply half as much energy from renewable sources as already is being supplied by just one potentially renewable source. About 20 percent of America's energy comes from nuclear energy produced using fuel rods, which, when spent, can be reprocessed into fresh fuel.

    Obama is (this is part of liberalism's catechism) leery of nuclear power. He also says -- and might say so even if Nevada were not a swing state -- he distrusts the safety of Nevada's Yucca Mountain for storage of radioactive waste. Evidently he prefers today's situation -- nuclear waste stored at 126 inherently insecure above-ground sites in 39 states, within 75 miles of where more than 161 million Americans live.

    But back to requiring this or that quota of energy from renewable sources. What will that involve? For conservatives, seeing is believing; for liberals, believing is seeing. Obama seems to believe that if a particular outcome is desirable, one can see how to require it. But how does that work? Details to follow, sometime after noon, Jan. 20, 2009.

    Sometimes I think that, in order to vote, one should have to be at least as analytical as George Will.

    Saturday, August 23, 2008

    America: You're Guilty Of Racism

    Barack Hussein Obama isn't winning by a landslide. There's only one explanation - you're a racist.

    Barack Obama, with every natural and structural advantage in the presidential race, is running only neck-and-neck against John McCain, a sub-par Republican nominee with a list of liabilities longer than a Joe Biden monologue. Obama has built a crack political operation, raised record sums, and inspired millions with his eloquence and vision. McCain has struggled with a fractious campaign team, lacks clarity and discipline, and remains a stranger to charisma. Yet at the moment, the two of them appear to be tied. What gives?

    If it makes you feel better, you can rationalize Obama's missing 10-point lead on the basis of Clintonite sulkiness, his slowness in responding to attacks, or the concern that Obama may be too handsome, brilliant, and cool to be elected. But let's be honest: If you break the numbers down, the reason Obama isn't ahead right now is that he trails badly among one group, older white voters. He does so for a simple reason: the color of his skin.

    Piss of the know-it-alls, vote McCain.

    Interview with Terry Rossi

    Before the start of today's Lentil Festival Grand Parade, I had a chance to ask a few questions of Washington gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi's wife Terry, the day after the latest primary ballot count gave Dino a commanding 50% to 43% lead over Chris Gregoire here in Whitman County.

    Tom: Did you have any lentil chili?

    Terry: No, I had to attend an event in Spokane last night. I understand the lentil chili was gone in an hour. They say they need to get a bigger bowl for next year!

    Tom: With all the traveling that Dino does around the state, does Dino ever listen to an MP3 player?

    Terry: No. But when he's driving he always presses the button on the steering wheel to scan for radio stations.

    Tom: Does Dino have a favorite type of music?

    Terry: No, he likes a lot of different music.

    Tom: As the person closest to Dino, can you tell us what keeps him going through the negativity and lies the other side is spreading?

    Terry: Dino is very grounded, with a strong moral compass. He knows that the things that the other side is saying are wrong. I encourage all of your readers to go to factcheck.dinorossi.com to learn the truth about claims that Dino cut unemployment funding for domestic abuse victims and voted against a Patient Bill of Rights.

    My thanks to Terry Rossi for taking a few minutes to chat with me today. She is a charismatic and energetic campaigner and will make a great First Lady of Washington!

    Quote of the Day

    "Lighten up, we've got a planet to save." ~ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, while preparing for the Democrat convention in Denver.

    This is going to be a really fun week! LOL

    The National Lentil Festival: Political Report and Photo Essay

    The National Lentil Festival is my favorite event of the year. It is an All-American parade, back-to-school celebration and block party all rolled into one. It symbolizes everything I love about living in a small community like Pullman. I think over the course of this weekend, I saw just about everyone I know here in town.

    And of course, in this big election year, a variety of candidates for national, state and local office turned out to meet and greet the thousand of voters assembled to watch the Grand Parade roll through downtown Pullman today.

    Terry Rossi, wife of our once and future governor Dino Rossi, walked in the parade, accompanied by a large contingent of Whitman County Republicans, including several WSU students and families, along with State Senator Mark Schoesler and Whitman County Commissioners Greg Partch and Jerry Finch, I was among that group. Here we are assembling before the parade (Terry Rossi has her back to the camera with the "Vote for My Husband" shirt):

    Waiting for the parade to start, I got a chance to talk to many of our elected officials.

    Here's our local law enforcement team: Pullman Chief of Police Ted Weatherly (left) and Whitman County Sheriff Brett Myers (right):

    Here's 9th District State Representative Steve Hailey (left) with Whitman County Treasurer Bob Lothspeich (right):

    Our other 9th District State Representative, Joe Schmick (and yes, Tyana, that's his Ford F350 truck):

    Here's 9th District State Senator Mark Schoesler (left) with Whitman County Commissioners Greg Partch (middle) and Jerry Finch (right):

    As I was talking to Mark, Greg and Jerry, WSU president Elson Floyd (right) stopped by say hello:

    I had a chance to chat with Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers about the recent primary election. She was pleasantly surprised by her large margin of victory.

    Leading Cathy's parade contingent were WSU College Republicans Vice President Chris Johnson (left) and Chris Howe (right):

    There were some old friends at the parade today. WSU College Republican alums Christopher DelBeccaro (left) and Dan Ryder (right) were on hand to help out:

    I also ran into Moscow-Pullman Daily News publisher Nathan Alford and his cute twin daughthers:

    Last and certainly not least, after the parade, I ran into Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson. Glenn is a class act and we are incredibly lucky to have him as mayor:

    Here are some shots during the parade. Whitman County Republican chairwoman Susan Fagan was driving the Rossi-Mobile:

    Here's Team Rossi Pullman with Terry Rossi after the parade:

    Overall, there was a very enthusiastic crowd reaction to Terry and Dino. There were lots of cheers and calls of "Go Dino!" and "Good luck!" I was especially impressed with the youth interest in Dino's campaign, both last night at the Republican street fair booth and today during the parade. According to the polls, that is not a demographic Dino is supposed to do well in, but you couldn't tell it this weekend.

    The Democrats:

    I didn't get a good picture of the Democrats, as their entries were very early in the parade. However, Democratic Whitman County Commissioner candidate Pat O'Neill wisely separated himself from the main flock of moonabts and rode a lawnmower:

    The Governor gave a campaign stump speech after the parade to a crowd of about 100 (there were more than 10 times as many people over in Reaney Park NOT listening to the Queen speak.) From what I could tell, the crowd was made up mostly of current and retired WSU professors, Pullman School District teachers, and others on the state payroll that have gotten big pay raises during the Queen's reign. There was also a smattering of students.

    The Queen stuck to her tiresome lies: there is no state budget deficit, in fact we have a surplus! Forbes magazine ranked Washington #3 as a place to do business on her watch! Any budget deficit she inherited from Dino Rossi! Dino is going to throw sick kids out on the curb! That, along with liberal sprinklings of the words "Barack Obama," was about all Spendoire had to say. Overheard in the crowd: "These people around here are blinded. They just can't see how good that you and I know Chris is." *LOL*

    The Democrats booth yesterday and today seemed a little slow, with mostly just partisans milling around. Bryan Burke's Eastern Washington Voters also had a booth at the street fair last night. When I went by, none other than Lu Laoshi himself, Chris Lupke, was there, recently returned from Taiwan.

    An omen for the Democrats?

    DENVER - Joe Biden got the call from Barack Obama while undergoing a root canal.

    As he sat in a dental chair Thursday, Biden received word that Obama was on the line and interrupted the procedure to accept the presidential candidate's invitation to be his running mate.

    From the Associated Press.

    Joe Biden - Bullshit (revisited)

    Friday, August 22, 2008

    The Republican Dream Team

    Obama has tapped Joe Biden to be his Vice Presidential running mate. So much for change. Democrats just need to suspend reality for another eight years. Hang in there, you can do it.

    Latest Whitman County Election Results

    The latest Whitman County primary election results can be viewed here.

    Next update is scheduled for August 27 at 4:00 PM.

    "PULLMAN WALMART: Construction may start soon; Company spokeswoman says ground could be broken this year; Moscow store could be relocated, expanded"

    Well, the Moscow-Pullman Daily News is sticking with their story that Wal-Mart hopes to break ground by the end of the year even though Wal-Mart has told both me and the Lewiston Tribune that there is absolutely no timeline and that the status has not changed one iota. But in any case, from Hillary's keyboard to God's ears. I pray groundbreaking is sooner rather than later.

    I can confirm a couple of things that the Daily News is reporting:

    One, the Clarkston Supercenter is much further along than Pullman (thanks to the moonbat-free valley environment), and will likely break ground before Pullman.

    Two, persistent rumors that Wal-Mart will pull out of Pullman and build in the Hawkins development in the corridor are completely untrue, as are rumors that Wal-Mart will build just in Clarkston instead of Pullman. In case anyone hasn't been paying attention lately, the Hawkins project appears to be in limbo, and unlike Wal-Mart, Hawkins refuses to engage in any rumor control. We are left to speculate what is happening there.

    The information on Wal-Mart plans for Moscow is very interesting, particularly the "relocation/expansion within Moscow" statement. With little fanfare, the Thompson property on the east side of Moscow, the original planned location for a Moscow Supercenter, was rezoned to motor business a couple of months ago, eliminating the first and ultimately insurmountable hurdle Wal-Mart faced back in 2006. Now, all that would be left is to get a conditional use permit, which given the current Moscow City Council makeup, would not be difficult.

    Stay tuned.

    From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
    Walmart hopes to break ground on a proposed super center in Pullman by the end of the year, said Jennifer Spall, the company's Washington spokeswoman.

    Meanwhile, Walmart's Idaho spokeswoman said company officials still are considering a relocation and possible expansion of the Moscow store.

    Engineers are working on design elements of the building being planned for Bishop Boulevard in Pullman. Spall said the plans have changed since October 2004, when company officials first announced plans to build a super center in Pullman.

    Spall said the company will apply to the city for permits and the project will go to bid - and be open to local contractors - once design plans are finalized.

    She said Walmart stores in Washington are built year-round, and the Pullman store is expected to open in 2010.

    "I have a feeling it's coming soon, but we're working through the process," she said. "Everything is moving along, finally. We're very excited about coming to Pullman."

    Spall said rumors that the company may opt out of the Pullman location in favor of building at the site of Hawkins Companies' planned retail development in eastern Whitman County just west of Moscow are false.

    "There are a lot of rumors going on there," she said. "I think people may be confused. The only other store we're building near you ... is a store next to Costco in Clarkston. There's absolutely no truth to rumors that we're moving it out of Pullman."

    Walmart will be required to install two four-way stoplights on Bishop Boulevard at the intersections of Harvest Drive and Fairmount Road, a commitment made for approval of the store's State Environmental Policy Act checklist and site plan.

    Pullman Public Works Director Mark Workman said there is no specific timeline for Walmart to put in the stoplights, but there's an expectation that they'll be installed in time for the store's opening. The company also must extend and widen Fairmount Drive, which exits onto South Grand Avenue.

    "We have control on when the store will open and when they get an occupancy permit," Workman said.

    "They're aware that these signals are critical to the operation of the store. It's not like they could build the store and not the traffic signals. That's not an option. ... It's directly related to the anticipated effects of Walmart. It's their mitigation for the traffic impacts the store will have. It's absolutely necessary."

    Karianne Fallow, Walmart spokeswoman for Idaho, said the Moscow store will remain where it is for now, despite efforts to relocate the store and upgrade it to a super center.

    "Our customers' preferred shopping experience is at a super center," she said.

    In May 2006, the Moscow City Council denied a rezone that would have allowed Walmart to pursue construction of a store on 77 acres east of town.

    Fallow said Walmart officials are aware of the Hawkins Companies' development, but the company hopes to relocate to a new property in Moscow.

    Fallow said store officials have not set a timeline for relocation, and she's not aware of any negotiations going on with Hawkins.

    "I think anything is a possibility," she said. "We'll just have to see what opportunities ... come forward."
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    "Wal-Mart offers no date for Pullman store "

    Oops. It appears that the Daily News "broke" a non-story about Wal-Mart's groundbreaking plans yesterday.

    I heard the same rumors and checked it out with Wal-Mart. I learned the same thing that the Lewiston Tribune reports in the article below: The status hasn't changed one bit. Don't despair though. Wal-Mart is still committed to Pullman.

    In the meantime, To get the straight story on Wal-Mart in Pullman, first and most accurately, keep it locked on Palousitics.

    From today's Lewiston Tribune:
    PULLMAN - A Wal-Mart spokeswoman said Thursday the company has "zero timeline" and "zero information" about plans to break ground for a super center at Pullman by the end of the year.

    "It would be our hope to do something this year, but I have absolutely nothing," said Jennifer Spall, Wal-Mart's Washington spokeswoman. "Nothing has changed."

    Spall said plans for building a super center in Clarkston are more solid.

    "We're actually much, much closer in Clarkston. But I don't have a date yet," Spall said about Clarkston plans. She said bids are out on that project.

    "I could know within two months whether we're going to break ground, but right now I don't have any timeline either," she said of the Clarkston store.

    Spall said she has been receiving a number of calls about erroneous reports that Wal-Mart might abandon Pullman in favor of Clarkston. She said there is no validity to the reports. "We are committed to both sites," she said.

    The current Wal-Mart stores in both Lewiston and Moscow represent separate markets, Spall said, and there are no plans to close either store.
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    Thursday, August 21, 2008

    Join Palousitics.com Team 129

    The Dino Rossi for Governor campaign yesterday launched the newest and fastest way for people to build grassroots support. The Team 129 action network, named after the 129 votes that Dino lost by in 2004, allows people to create and measure their own online support network with the goal of bringing new leadership to Olympia that will start fixing real problems… for a change.

    I have created a Palousitics.com account, and I'm going to see how much impact we can create in this governor's race. I have already sent some readers an e-mail. If you would like to take part in this effort, contact me here. The goal is for Palousitics to have the biggest impact of anybody in the state.

    There are also groups you can join at Team 129. There is already a WSU Cougs for Rossi group, a Young Republicans for Rossi group, a Farmers for Rossi group, a Washington Businesses for Dino, and a Whitman County for Rossi group. But we should get a 9th District and Pullman group going and maybe a WSU College Republicans group as well.

    "Breaking News: Wal-Mart spokeswoman says company hopes to break ground in Pullman by year's end"

    The rumors have been flying. Now Dnews.com is reporting that:
    Wal-Mart officials hope to break ground on a proposed super center in Pullman by the end of the year, said Jennifer Spall, the company's Washington spokeswoman.

    Spall said engineers are still working on design elements of the building being planned for Bishop Boulevard. The plans have changed since October 2004, when company officials first announced plans to build a super center in Pullman.

    The company will apply for permits and the project will go to bid once design plans are finalized, Spall said.

    Spall said that Wal-Mart stores in Washington are built year-round.

    “I have a feeling it’s coming soon, but we’re working through the process,” she said. “Everything is moving along, finally. We’re very excited about coming to Pullman.”
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    Mmmmm, Malthusianism. Tastes Like the Easter Bunny

    Lenna Harding's environmentalist wacko ramblings grow more bizarre with each new column.

    Here are some quotes from her latest one in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:

    At what point is population growth no longer sustainable? Why are we so concerned with defining the family as a couple with children? Instead, should we not be applauding those who choose not to bear children?
    Democrats: The party of "No Family" values.

    We need to rethink our diet and look to better sources of protein than beef. I like beef and am not advocating abolishing it as a food source. I merely suggest that chicken and rabbits might be more resource-efficient sources. Sheep and goats also should be more in the mix.
    Why not Soylent Green? Then we could kill two birds with one stone (so to speak.)

    Who can take these people seriously?

    I'm just a bug on the windshield of life

    This was too good not to share. From today's Whitman County Gazette:
    A coyote got an up-front view of the South Palouse River Road after being hit by Kelly Reiber over the weekend. The coyote was lodged in the grill of Reiber’s car and rode inches above the road for more than five miles until she reached home. Kelly’s father, Bruce, noticed the animal lodged in the grill as he left for work. Kelly and mother Judy then went to dislodge the animal, which they assumed to be dead. When they pulled on the leg, the coyote pulled it back. Eventually they were able to free the coyote from the grill, and it wobbled off into the wilderness.

    An American Carol: The Ghost of Pauline Kael Past and Present

    Lately, I find myself reminded of Pauline Kael, the long time movie critic for New Yorker magazine, who famously expressed her incredulity at Richard Nixon’s landslide victory over George McGovern in the 1972 presidential election: “I don’t know how Nixon could have been reelected. I don't know anyone who voted for him.”

    These days, the mainstream media seem entirely populated by Pauline Kaels. In their competition to establish whose reporting can be more worshipful of Barack He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Middle-Named Obama, they cannot imagine that anyone could hold a contrary view. Those who live in this philosophical cocoon cannot understand why public opinion polls do not show Barack Obama winning in a landslide. And you can bet that they are reeling from a Zogby poll earlier this week showing Republican John McCain with a slender lead among likely voters. This was the year of hope and change. This was supposed to be the year when all the stars and computer models agreed that Democrats would win not only the White House, but would gain overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress. Why even bother with an election?

    We’ve been here before. Newsweek magazine’s assistant managing editor Evan Thomas famously stated in 2004 that the press corps, “wants Kerry to win,” and that the media would, “portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic.” He predicted that the media favoritism would be worth up to 15 percentage points.

    This season’s campaign started this last spring when the press anointed Obama as the post-racial silver-tongued messiah who would at last lead America out of eight years of wilderness and into the Promised Land. His ever speech was hailed as historic. They filtered contradictory news from their reporting and caricatured John McCain as a fumble-mouthed, befuddled old man clinging tenaciously to a discredited ideology.

    One media survey showed that the big television networks’ coverage favored Obama by 3.6 to 1. Washington Post media analyst Howard Kurtz reported this week that, in the big networks, stories that were flattering of Obama outnumbered critical stories by 6 to 1. Howard Kurtz aside, the Post confessed its own bias. This last week, the Post’s ombudsman reported that the paper’s disproportionate coverage of Obama over McCain “didn’t look good.”

    The gushing press coverage that Barack Obama received during his world tour was emblematic of the press’s Kael-like disconnect from the real America. Only those media stars in good standing with Obamamania were allowed privileged seating on the campaign plane. And none dared jeopardize that status. Everything that Obama did was perfect. Everything he said was inspiring. Images from the tour deserved to be painted on the roof of the Sistine Chapel, covering those stodgy old Michaelangelo sketches.

    And ever since, Obama has sunk in the polls. How can that be? How can NBC, CBS, ABC and CNN all be wrong?

    Well, part of Obama’s problem is that the great unwashed, whose ballots count every bit as much as Katie Couric’s, seem to have a longer memory than their media overlords. They know that the incontrovertible wisdom that Barack the Holy espouses today is often at odds with the incontrovertible wisdom that he uttered a few months ago. The great unwashed know that tire gauges will not solve our energy shortage. Americans who are paying over $4 per gallon for gasoline also know that the 6 or 7 years that Obama claims will be needed to derive benefit from new oil exploration represents a much shorter time horizon than any relief they will realize from the science fiction solutions that he advocates. And Americans cannot understand why a man who touts his unfailing judgment as his primary qualification for president cannot recognize that the surge in Iraq worked and that success is firmly in our grasp.

    And we should not underestimate Americans’ distrust of the media. The same people who now assure them that Obama is The One are the same people who deliberately ignored John Edwards’ failings. Should Americans trust the judgment of a press corps that cannot compete with the National Enquirer in the field of investigative journalism?

    Americans know in their hearts that should John McCain emerge as the winner on the evening of November 4th, the wise men and women of the media will find racism as the only explanation that makes sense. And Americans already resent that.

    How else could they explain an Obama loss? After all, no one they knew voted for McCain.

    Live From The Lentil Festival

    The primary is over, and now the parade season begins for political candidates.

    First stop: this weekend's National Lentil Festival here in Pullman.

    I'll be in the Grand Parade Saturday at 11:00 AM with Terry Rossi, wife of our once and future Governor Dino Rossi. I hope to be able to manage a short interview with Ms. Rossi. If you would like to march along with us, e-mail me here.

    I'll also be checking in with updates on all the politicking at the Lentil Festival.

    See you there!

    Wednesday, August 20, 2008

    "People Who Hate Wal-Mart Hate Success"

    Great rant from Greg Gutfield, and so true:
    As any Manhattan masseuse will tell you, I love a happy ending. And that's exactly what I've found in this story about angry locals who tried to keep a Wal-Mart out of their town.

    In this case, after years of tangling with selfish, poorly informed citizens, Wal-Mart finally took its toys and left, leaving the idiots of Plainfield Township, Pennsylvania, to fend for themselves.

    Now, that's not the happy ending. This is: What took Wal-Mart's place was a metal-shredding plant. A massive, recycling noise machine, louder than a freight train and prone to accidental explosions. The citizens now have a monster in their midst -- so, make way for more petitions.

    And I love every minute of it!

    As you know, Wal-Mart has been an object of spite, usually from fools too cowardly to admit that their bile has less to do with the store than with their own insignificance. People who hate Wal-Mart really hate the success that's eluded them. As for the attacks on Wal-Mart from elitist media hacks — that's bigotry, for they assume you must be genetic trash to shop there.

    Fact is, Wal-Mart is just a symbol of America — a successful phenomenon that brings you what you need cheaply. But to its opposition, it's the daddy that never hugged them -- poor things.

    So, Plainfield got what was coming. I hope every night they go to bed hearing the mangling of metal, thinking, "If only a Wal-Mart was nearby, we could buy earplugs."

    And if you disagree with me, then you sir are worse than Hitler.
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    "Early primary election returns favor Schmick; District 9 representative appears likely to face Pullman Democrat in general election"

    From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
    Washington District 9 Rep. Joe Schmick has a commanding lead after the first round of ballots were counted in the state's top-two primary election.

    Schmick, R-Colfax, has received 11,015 votes (61.7 percent) thus far in the race for his Position 1 seat. Challenger Tyana Kelley, D-Pullman, has garnered 5,792 votes (32.5 percent), and Green Party candidate Christopher Winter of Clarkston received 1,036 votes.

    Whitman County voters also supported Schmick, who received 2,948 votes (63 percent) to Kelley's 1,462 votes (31 percent). Winter received 282 votes in Whitman County (6 percent).

    Mail-in ballots had to be postmarked by Tuesday to be counted in the primary, and results from a second round of counting will be released Friday afternoon. The top two vote-getters will face each other in the Nov. 4 general election.

    Schmick said he's pleased to receive so much support from people in his district.

    "I think it's an affirmation that people are grateful for what I was able to accomplish for them," said Schmick, who was appointed to the position in November when David Buri stepped down to take a job with Eastern Washington University. "I don't think you can go through this and not be anxious, but I was very pleased."

    Kelley also is excited about moving on to the general election.

    "Everyone told me not to worry too much ... but I didn't want to discount any candidates, so I'm very happy," she said. "My goal in the primary was to move on, and I did."

    Both candidates agreed the hard part is still ahead. They'll start the "parade season" Saturday at the National Lentil Festival in Pullman.

    "I think we've been running a really strong campaign, and we want to continue doing what we've already been doing," Kelley said. "The more doors we can knock on and the more personal contact with voters we have, I think it will pay off in the end."

    Schmick said he looks forward to the challenge leading up to the general election.

    "It has been an honor to represent the people in the 9th District," he said. "I'm overwhelmed by how good the people are to work with. And I will continue to work hard for them."

    The District 9 Position 1 seat was the only local race that featured more than two candidates.

    In other contested races, newcomer Pat O'Neill, D-Colton, has received 584 votes (56 percent) in his bid to unseat Whitman County Commissioner Position 2 incumbent Jerry Finch, R-Pullman, who received 453 votes (44 percent).

    District 9 Position 1 Rep. Steve Hailey, R-Mesa, received 11,315 (64 percent) to challenger Kenneth Caylor's 6,254 votes (36 percent). Caylor is a Democrat from Odessa. Their results in Whitman County were similar, with Hailey garnering 2,901 votes (63 percent) to Caylor's 1,678 votes (37 percent).

    This is the state's first primary election under the top-two system, which was approved by 60 percent of Washington voters in 2004 and recently was upheld by a 7-2 ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court. It allows voters to pick one candidate for each office without regard to party.

    According to Whitman County elections Web site, ballots have been received from 4,939 of the 18,928 registered voters in the county (26 percent) and 1,200 of them have yet to be counted.

    Going Nuclear

    In Benton and Frankin Counties, where the Tri-Cities are located, Dino didn't get less than 65% of the primary vote. Only Adams County (Othello), which borders Hanford, was higher.

    Got Areva?

    Whitman County Commissioner District 2 Primary Results

    Pat O'Neill (D) 584 votes (56.3163%)

    Jerry Finch (R) 453 votes (43.6837%)

    There are still 1,200 Whitman County votes to count, so the totals will change, but there is no indication how many are left to count from District 2. The overall percentage probably won't change much.

    It is a bit surprising that 8-year incumbent commissioner Jerry Finch is trailing by double digits. Both men have been waging a fairly low-key campaign, with each filing with the PDC in the under $5,000 spending category.

    Just come quick observations:

  • The whole county will vote for the commissioners in the general election. Given Whitman County's strong Republican makeup, this can only help Jerry. There is no real cause for alarm. A 130 vote difference is nothing with a much larger electorate come November. Given the fact that only approximately 1,000 people cast votes, it is hard to read much into these primary results.

  • Local races like this are often about personality rather than party, and Jerry's "tell it like it is" style can sometimes rub people the wrong way. Highly publicized stories about handicapped voting at the courthouse and county-funded SUVs for commissioners cannot have helped.

  • I've always said that in order for a Democrat to win countywide office, they cannot be part of the ultra-leftist WSU/Pullman clique. Pat O'Neill is a retired aircraft mechanic who lives in Colton. He has not advocated any outrageous policies, only proposing more government transparency and improved communications.

  • Jerry knew his stance on the Rural Residential Zoning Ordinance passed last year might cost him support with conservatives, and that very well may be the case here.

  • In any case, Jerry's campaign will now need to turn it up a notch and roll up its sleeves to get him reelected in November. It's obvious it won't be enough just to put up yard signs.

    "Schmick, Kelley advance in 9th District; GOP's Schmick gets 62 percent of the vote in primary"

    If Tyana Kelley "hopes to represent working-class families in Olympia," I have some advice: don't insult the vehicles those families drive and stop supporting a tax-and-spend legislature and governor that have run up a $2.7 billion deficit and now threaten to institute a state income tax. If you want to get more than 32% of the ballot in the rural conservative 9th District, you can't run on an urban liberal platform.

    I can tell you that when it comes to campaigning, nobody can outhustle Joe Schmick. And you'll never meet a more humble, down-to-earth guy.

    The primary results also show why the "Top Two" primary is undemocratic. Green Party candidate Christopher Winter is now knocked out of the general election. Third parties will never have a chance now. Up north of Spokane, in the 7th Legislative District, two Republicans, Sue Lani Madsen and Shelly Short, will face off in the general election. In Seattle, there are districts where only two Democrats will compete. I don't see how the "Top Two" system is the celebration of "traditional Washington values" it has been proclaimed to be. Voters have even less choice than before.

    From today's Lewiston Tribune:
    State Rep. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, and Democratic challenger Tyana Kelley made it over the first hurdle in their efforts to represent Washington's 9th Legislative District in Olympia for the next two years.

    The two participated in the district's only contested race during Tuesday's primary election, seeking to fill the state House position 2 seat. Schmick is leading with 11,015 votes, or 62 percent of the ballots cast; Kelley, of Pullman, received 5,792 votes, or 32 percent. But a number of ballots mailed Tuesday still had to be counted.

    Green Party candidate Christopher Winter, of Clarkston, was in third place with 1,036 votes, or 6 percent of the ballots cast, on his way to becoming a casualty of Washington's new top two primary rules. Historically, he would have advanced to the Nov. 4 general election regardless of the primary results, because he represents a different party than Schmick or Kelley. This year, however, only the two highest vote-getters advance.

    Tuesday's election results came in the middle of harvest time for Schmick, who operates a farm in the Colfax area, where he grew up.

    "I'm thankful for the support I've seen," he said. "I'm humbled by it. It's an honor to serve and represent the people. I hope I never lose that feeling."

    Schmick, who was appointed to the Legislature last November, said he's traveled around the district trying to meet as many people as possible, and plans to keep at it during the general election campaign.

    "Talking to people and listening to their concerns is what's put me in this position," he said. "I'm going to continue to do that."

    Kelley is a board member and volunteer coordinator for the Pullman Civic Theatre. She grew up in a union family and hopes to represent working-class families in Olympia.

    Tuesday's results "were pretty much to be expected," she said. "I was hoping for a closer spread, but I think we'll see a little fluctuation" as the remaining ballots are counted.

    In addition to his lead at the vote count, Schmick also has a sizable advantage in campaign funding. As of July 31, he reported more than $35,000 in contributions, including funds rolled over from 2007. By comparison, Kelley had received $4,835.

    "He has some significant backing, but I'm hoping my showing in the primary will convince more people to donate to my campaign," Kelley said. "The good news is, my biggest expense is going to be gas for driving around the district to meet people, and I have enough money to pay for that."

    Winter, a sociology instructor who teaches online and live classes, could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

    Voters also cast ballots in two other 9th District races, although neither was contested.

    Incumbent Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, is unopposed in November. In the district's House position one race, incumbent Rep. Steve Hailey, R-Mesa, will square off against Democrat Kenneth Caylor. Hailey was leading with 64 percent of the primary vote, compared to 36 percent for Caylor.

    The 9th District covers the southeastern corner of Washington, from the Oregon border north to Cheney and as far west as Othello.

    The county-by-county breakdown of the voting for position 2:

    Adams County: Schmick, 73 percent; Kelley, 23 percent; Winter, 4 percent; voter turnout, 38 percent.

    Asotin County: Schmick, 54 percent; Kelley, 39 percent; Winter, 7 percent; voter turnout, 41 percent.

    Franklin County (partially in district): Schmick, 78 percent; Kelley, 19 percent; Winter, 3 percent; voter turnout, 25 percent.

    Garfield County: Schmick, 74 percent; Kelley, 24 percent; Winter, 3 percent; voter turnout, 52 percent.

    Spokane County (partially in district): Schmick, 59 percent; Kelley, 35 percent; Winter, 6 percent; voter turnout, 29 percent.

    Whitman County: Schmick, 63 percent; Kelley, 31 percent; Winter, 6 percent; voter turnout, 26 percent.

    Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers' (WA-05) Primary Election Statement

    The following statement is from Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers:
    "I want to thank the people of Eastern Washington for their continued support and their vote. I feel good about tonight's numbers – although tonight is only the first snapshot and our final vote totals won't be known for at least another week. I am confident our margin of victory will only increase as more ballots are counted.

    "Since being elected to serve Eastern Washington in Congress, I have worked hard on the issues we all care about including growing the economy, reducing taxes on families and small businesses, helping our farmers, improving access to health care and meeting America's energy needs with innovation, investment, and more domestic oil production.

    "I want to congratulate Mark Mays on his victory tonight and look forward to a campaign that is focused on the issues and our different ideas on how to address the challenges facing our region and our country. With this election, the voters of Eastern Washington have a very clear choice.

    My campaign will be focused on my record and the work I have done on behalf of Eastern Washington including:

    - Serving as a member on the Farm Bill Conference Committee which passed legislation important to Eastern Washington farmers;
    - Serving as Ranking Republican on the Water and Power Subcommittee where I am working to promote hydropower as a renewable resource;
    - Serving as a member of the Higher Education Opportunity Act Conference Committee which included my proposals to increase our nation's competitiveness, make college more affordable and crack down on diploma mills;
    - Sponsoring legislation to ensure Eastern Washington veterans have access to the benefits they've earned;
    - Advocating for Fairchild Air Force Base receive the next generation of air refueling tankers;
    - Protecting the helicopters based at Fairchild AFB that are used for survival school training and search and rescue missions."

    A reminder: Tonight's numbers only reflect the ballots that were received prior to Election Day. Counties will continue to count ballots well into next week and the primary election will be certified on September 9, 2008.