History, politics, people of Oly WA

Month: July 2006 (Page 1 of 3)

Danger of echo-chambers

From Community Mobilization:

My fear is that as we use nice site and networks that we will simply put on blinder to outside opinion and ideas. As we exist in a closed world with similar minded friends are we creating a large collection of echo-chambers and eradicating discussion and discourse? As our country and even the world polarizes more each day is it such a good idea to shut out thoughts and opinions that differ from your own? I think healthy discussion and confrontation will heal us all as long as we are willing and open to new ideas and opinions. Our current political crisis is a perfect example of what happens when you create an echo-chamber around your specific views of the world.

This is the same fear the Cass Sunstein wrote about in Republic dot com, basically using the linking logic of the internet to say that no one is likely going to link with someone they disagree with.

Maybe we should though, maybe we should work harder to reach out to people we disagree with than back slap folks we like. I don’t know.

It brings up two thoughts for me. Locally, Olyblog has become a nice, non-partisan place for folks of different political beliefs to dialogue like adults. They even get something accomplished by learning. Good example of what I think Sunstein and Randal would like in an alternative.

A conservative blogger in Washington (Patrick at RR) recently voiced the need for a non-partisan, or maybe omnipartisan, group site like Washblog.

Then, of course, there is the open letter at wikia.

Olympia’s first elected blogger

Hat tip to Rick.

Rich Nafziger ealier this month launched Naflog, the first blog of an elected official (that I know of) in Olympia (aside from a couple really nice PCOs). As a school board member, he blogs about educational issues, and to his great credit, it seem that he has put the word out to his fellow board members so they can join the conversation.

Actually, it seems that conversation is at the center of why he started blogging:

This is my first blog and I am starting this with the biggest thing that is on my mind. And that is the failure of our education system to meet the needs of both our new economy and all of our kids. I want to start today by laying out my case. Each day I hope to build on it. I don’t have all the answers but I’m desperate for the conversation. Please respond if you are willing.

It is nice to hear a politician (I know, just school board, but still pretty important) not only say that he doesn’t have all the answers, but that he wants to talk.

Andy’s wanderings #2: Maria Cantwell was not elected to FERC

This is the second of my irregular series keeping an eye on Andy Maris over at Thurston Pundits. I did my first post without really intending to make it a series, but I guess since this is the second, let’s go ahead and serialize it. This came about because I’ve tried commenting on his blog, but with no luck. Oh well, this is the internet and a referencing post is as good as a comment sometimes.

A few days ago Andy wrote about Maria Cantwell and her problem with making an issue over Enron. Other than it being somewhat sexist (“take a letter?”), he ignores or doesn’t recognize how the federal government is broken down. Here is his post, or at least the good part:

Why is Cantwell campaigning on problems she created? Saving the voters from Enron? Maria, Enron screwed us on your watch. You’re a lot like the fireman that sets houses on fire to look like a hero for putting them out.

Senators are not members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, under whose watch “Enron screwed us.” Maria is more like doing something about the fireman that sets houses on fire. This is what FERC does, if you were wondering:

[FERC] Regulates the transmission and wholesale sales of electricity in interstate commerce;

Sam Hunt is right

When he heard that a former Tenino city councilmember was beginning his quixotic campaign for his state house seat, Sam Hunt said:

“First of all, I think it’s healthy to have opposition. It’s a two-party system and entering into the debate and priorities, I don’t see anything wrong with that,” Hunt said. “The system is not to anoint; it’s to elect.”

Even if a Republican hasn’t been elected in the 22nd for almost 30 years now and if two years ago no one was surprised when a relativly well financed Republican was destroyed, competition is still good.

Elections should mean something, even if it is Sam Hunt destroying a Republican.

Ryan Blenthen, 18 to 35 and the cluetrain

Ryan Blenthen at the Times wrote a column about engaging folks between 18 and 35.

Two briefings produced by Democratic and Republican pollsters and put out by Young Voter Strategies are a great example of political parent-ism: chock-full of statistics, and different rosy interpretations on the same numbers. To be fair, party strategists are the target, not young voters. One can easily imagine how the Democratic and Republican national committees will push gas prices, health care and college affordability, the topics that polled important to this age group.

18to35, another organization focused on younger voters, has put out The 18-30 VIP. (For aged readers 31 and up, VIP stands for Voter Issues Paper.) In an effort to appeal to the demographic, the VIP is promoted with pictures of enthusiastic 18-to-30-year-olds flanked by big-time wrestlers. (Is big-time wrestling still in? Seems so sixth grade to me.)

Regardless of the tortured delivery mechanism, the VIP lists five good questions — on the economy, Iraq and national security, education, health care and Social Security — one can put forth to candidates.

Taken together, what Pew, Young Voter Strategies and 18to35 have found important give a more complete idea of what politicians are faced with when approaching younger voters: many of the same things voters of all ages are worried about.

This information is useful, but there have to be other issues younger voters believe important. Some of this 33-year-old’s top concerns — international relations, media consolidation, First Amendment issues, technological and government interface (like Internet network neutrality) and the creation of a viable third party — have not been mentioned.

He also mentions earlier in the piece that if the younger voters don’t turn out, it isn’t because a lack of effort by the parties. I’m not sure if it is a lack of effort, or the wrong king of effort. The kind of issue based communication, rather than thinking about the kind of communication they’re using.

Instead of focusing on finding an issue to plug into the same old thing communication plan (you know, the kind that tends to drive down voter turn out), why not try something new? Anyway, Ryan asks us youngins to send him an email with his thoughts (rblethen at seattletimes.com), so here is mine:

Mr. Blenthen,

More than anything we want authenticity. We’re the generation of cable television, telemarketing, infomercials, and junk mail. We don’t want to be sold, rather, we want to be engaged.

Politicians will speak to our generation, ironically not with policy or issues, but rather with the way they engage us. For many of Democrats a bit older than me, Howard Dean was a fire brand anti-war candidate. He was the perfect opposition to George W. Bush, for them. But, I supported Dean because (or rather because Joe Trippi) engaged supporters in the campaign. It wasn’t another top down campaign, but rather one that brought people in.

We want politicians that listen and we want politics that isn’t one way or the other. We want solutions that aren’t wrapped in marketing disguised as ideology. To borrow a phrase from cluetrain (http://www.searls.com/cluetrain/), we want politics to be a conversation not a monologue.

Emmett O’Connell

Save the Olympia Library Board

I have a surprisingly lot to say on this topic. But, here is the good part:

Libraries don’t just provide recreational services. If they did, there would be little argument from for folding the Library Board. Actually, since recreational reading isn’t much in terms of a government service, I wouldn’t argue when they started cutting funding for it.

But, the library is much more than recreational reading, it is at the heart of the purpose of education in America. Because of this valuable mission, it is even more vital to have an avenue of citizen engagement in how the library is run.

And, if we can retool the board to help focus this mission even more, so much the better.

Here is the old post on this topic, before I knew they were thinking of shutting the board down.

Your Local News Daily : Seattle’s second (online) daily

Who ever ends up buying the King County Journal could end up on the better end of the Puget Sound newspaper wars, or at the much cooler end. If the eventual buyer of the Journal (and its other properties)

The Journal has been suffering while the PI and the Times position themselves for a time when their JOA no longer binds them together:

High-tech folks were swarming to the Eastside, and they weren’t reading the paper. Despite the Eastside’s massive growth, not only did the Journal‘s market share decline, its real circulation plummeted. Losses mounted, and Horvitz eventually combined the paper with the South County Journal into the present King County Journal, a measure that may have saved money but declared loyalty to a region that pretty much only exists on paper. People in Medina don’t give a damn about people in Kent, and vice versa. The combined circulation of the two Journals was 66,000 in 1994; it’s now down to 40,000.

One of the frustrating things about the Journal has been a tendency to be late to the game in producing a paper for an increasingly sophisticated market. It’s long read like your dad’s slippers-and-pipe suburban rag, the journalistic equivalent of Chace’s Pancake Corral, a Bellevue diner with the down-home feel of a 1960s suburban golfer’s rec room. Quite late, the Journal had few reporters covering the emergence of Microsoft or Nintendo—stories of national import that were in the Journal‘s backyard. And you’d think a newspaper in the heart of the Silicon Forest would have a state-of-the-art Web site, but the Journal‘s has always been a clunker.

It is assumed one of the Seattle papers will fold eventually, leaving the other the King of All Seattle. But, who ever ends up with the Journal could have something to say about that.

Take, for example, what’s going on down in Portland. Pamplin Media owns a chain of suburban weeklies around Portland and publishes a very popular free twice weekly inside Portland (the Tribune). They top it of with a radio station. Every single property produces news, and now, produces content for one big online daily (actually more than daily) newspaper.

Similarly, the King County Journal sale will include not only the Journal itself (and its commercial printing press), but also two other weeklies and seven every other weeklies. This may be a more modest empire than Pamplin’s in Oregon, but it could be the start of a web-enabled media group,focusedd mainly on producing less than daily real print newspapers and a real time online news product.

The PI and Times already do pretty well online, but it would be interesting to see someone try to make a go at it mainly online.

There’s a difference between a Horseman and a Hotelier

Eric, the new guy at SoundPolitics is doing a good job so far, I think. He doesn’t employ the term “nutroots,” going for the more refined “netroots enthusiasts.” Which is very nice, I’ll take that. I’m an enthusiast of many things, the netroots included.

But, he doesn’t know the difference between Wheat and a Five Star Hotel:

All that indicates the voters in the 5th Congressional District have seen something about Cathy McMorris they like. On top of that, she’s doing well in office, taking leadership positions and working well on behalf of her district. So could someone please explain to me why liberal bloggers think Peter Goldmark is the “real deal” to take her out?

McMorris’ race isn’t listed on any of the independent, national watch lists for Congressional races; not the Cook Political Report, not Larry Sabato’s Center for Politics, not the National Journal. In addition, McMorris is easily outpacing Goldmark in fundraising.

Peter Goldmark seems like a decent, well-meaning fellow based on perusing his website. But that doesn’t mean in the least he’s a challenger to watch this election cycle. Yet more evidence the netroots is more anti-Republican emotionalism than serious political thought.

Since, Don Barbieri got trounced by McMorris a couple of years ago, logic would follow that any Democrat at all would also lose. Not so, because there is a big difference between Pete and Don.

For all his good qualities, Don ran very poorly outside of Spokane. Very poorly. This isn’t something that a person like Goldmark would repeat.

And, even though he outspent McMorris, well… he also outspent McMorris, making it look sometimes that with his money, he could buy the seat.

And, for Pete’s sake, there is a big cultural difference between Don and Pete. What do you think that matters? This isn’t simply about putting a Democrat in a cowboy hat and marching him around eastern Washington. Heck, you could have put Barbieri in a cowboy hat and it wouldn’t have mattered.

What matters is the substantive differences between Barbieri and Goldmark. One is runs hotels, the other horses.

Plus, this year doesn’t have Rossi vs. Gregoire and Bush vs. Kerry putting everything into context. This is pretty much Goldmark vs. McMorris time.

The Inlander has a pretty good article about the differences too, check it out:

I couldn’t imagine Barbieri losing to a woman who could do no better than top one vacuous statement with another. Then, one day, maybe three weeks before the election, I drove our college-age son down to Walla Walla to look over Whitman College, and I found my answer. By the time we arrived, it was clear: Barbieri had no chance. None whatsoever. From the city line to Walla Walla, all we saw were McMorris signs. Outside of Spokane, Barbieri was invisible.

Goldmark has good reason to believe he can do much better than did Barbieri in the rural areas and small towns. (It would be impossible to do worse.) And he must be tempted to go directly after Congresswoman McMorris’ most obvious vulnerability, her… ah, shall we say, aversion to substance? Then, if he can win in Spokane, maybe he can pull off an upset.

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