History, politics, people of Oly WA

Month: January 2009 (Page 1 of 3)

More FOCA strawman

More Catholics on sermons, homilies and postcard campaigns against FOCA.

Shannon Says…

I don’t agree with putting people on the spot when it comes to politics nor should it be done in church. I feel if they said something and let people know there were postcards in the back and what FOCA was all about, it would not seem so pushy.

A very good legal analysis of FOCA pretty much points to the law as being what I thought it was, just fodder, not law:

The same combination, however, makes it a very good weapon in the abortion wars that have divided this country for over thirty years now. In my view, that is the true purpose of FOCA, which has been lurking around Congress in various versions for nearly two decades. Ultimately, the bill should be seen less as a serious attempt at lawmaking than as abortion-war propaganda dressed up as legislation. It’s noteworthy that from a purely political perspective, FOCA is useful to both prolife and prochoice activists. The bill helps prochoicers ward off any perceived threat to the right to abortion-even as, in its ominous shadows, prolifers see new threats to unborn life, and mobilize accordingly. And a new battle begins.

Which of course, is depressing, because that means our church isn’t smart enough not to rise to the bait.

One Catholic priest refuses to rise to the bait though:

Obviously church leaders have every right to promote their concerns in the public arena. But FOCA is a phantom threat. It is meant to limit legislation by Congress on abortion. It will not be passed. Why would Congress pass a law to limit its own power? One well-placed Catholic commentator stated, “FOCA has as much chance of passage as the [now 0-15] Detroit Lions have of winning the next Super Bowl.”

So, why is it that we were asked during mass to fill out postcards to our federal representatives to voice opposition to FOCA when we’ve never been asked to write postcards about more likely legislative topics like torture or health services funding?

Donor communities vs. beggar communities (more library funding debate)

This goes out to Chris who was wondering.

Yes, from what I can tell quickly on the internet, rural areas pay less in taxes and receive more in state funding by and large. So, the paradigm of Thurston County paying the largest portion of property taxes into the Timberland Library System and getting less of that back in services is, if its true, a common one.

That of course ignores the historic contribution of timber revenue from the rural areas that had supported library services.

Here’s an interesting transportation report that generally supports that.

And a Dkos diary that has a neat map.

I fully understand the facts of donor vs. beggar communities. What I reject is the assumption that it is somehow wrong and that donor communities should flex their muscles.

We aren’t in this alone, not the rural areas, and certainly not us. I don’t care if I don’t receive any money from the people in Lewis County and all I care about is that they spend their money on good books. And, since we elect the governor together and are part of the same library system, I can be pretty sure they do.

Jim Lazar (and other folks) forget about how Timberland is funded

More on Jim Lazar and his thoughts on Timberland.

I was thinking last night about all the big ol’rural libraries that we Thurston County folks pay for in dirty poor backwards SE Washington (tongue in cheek). You know, Salkum, Amanda Park and Matlock.

But, there was a flaw in my trying to be funny logic, North Mason has a nice huge library, despite their non-incorporated status. So, maybe Jim is right. Maybe North Mason folks are sucking Thurston County dry to build their mecca to books.

Either way, it was built with Timber funds (that Timberland Regional Library for you).

Mike Crose, via email:

We established a special Building Fund in which any “excess” timber revenues could be accumulated for building projects and building remodeling projects for libraries in the unincorporated areas of the District. The Timberland North Mason Library in Belfair was paid for from these funds.

Libraries and Jim Lazar

A lot of blow back on libraries lately (vote yes, btw), but Jim Lazar takes the cake.

Jim used to be cool too:

I support libraries, and would gladly vote for a levy lid lift to support local libraries, but I oppose this measure.

The reason is very simple: Thurston County pays over half of the tax revenue into Timberland Regional Library, but our libraries receive only about one-third of the financial support from Timberland that goes to the total library system. While TRL pays for both the library BUILDINGS and the books and staff in the rural areas, it does NOT pay for new library buildings in the urban areas.

Basically, it’s (another) subsidy of rural communities and irresponsible land use policies, with urban area residents subsidizing rural areas.

So, basically we cut off poor kids and families from rural areas because we can’t get behind the land use decisions of their county commissions?

I don’t know what palatial rural libraries Jim is talking about, but the Salkum library (for example) isn’t great shakes. Calling it a mini-library would be giving it too much credit.

This is the kind of rural library that Jim is railing against.

Governance is one thing, but hurting people that need library services isn’t going to move us down the road of improving the library district. Let’s be honest about this and talk about changing the governance of the system once we win on February 3.

FOCA strawman at St. Mikes

This is the first time I’ve ever left mass feeling worse than I did going in. Granted, I go to mass at 7:30, so I usually show up groggy, but I usually leave feeling pretty good and guilty for not doing more for my church.

Not this morning though. Today’s mass was the seeming culmination of a few weeks of chit chat about the Freedom of Choice Act, a bill that would codify Row v. Wade. Which is pretty bad if you’re Pro-Life.

Today, our priest gave a long sermon against FOCA and requested that we fill out post cards to our federal representatives stating our opposition. This is the most politicized mass I’ve ever attended, one that I hope the origin of was from earnest and well meaning ignorance, not cynical politicing.

Because, it was a hell of a show for a piece of legislation that doesn’t have a snow balls chance in heck. Even the Catholic News Service says so (yes, the Catholic News Service):

Spokesmen for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, and the bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, all declined to discuss the prospects of any specific bill in a legislative session that doesn’t start until January.

All pending bills expire at the end of each two-year congressional session, so FOCA would have to be reintroduced.

Erica Chabot, press secretary to the Senate Judiciary Committee, said she can’t recall Leahy “ever mentioning this piece of legislation.” That doesn’t necessarily mean it couldn’t suddenly move up on the committee’s priority list, she said.

However, “if there were overwhelming support for a bill, chances are I would have heard something about it,” Chabot told Catholic News Service.

And further:

At a Democrats for Life event during the Democratic National Convention, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., called FOCA “dead on arrival,” Day said. She said pro-life Democrats including Casey and Reps. Lincoln Davis of Tennessee and Heath Shuler of North Carolina, who backed Obama during the campaign, expect their voices to matter when it comes to the legislative priorities of the White House.

Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, told CNS that FOCA’s inertia so far doesn’t diminish the danger of it progressing now.

FOCA moved forward only in 1993, when Democrats controlled the House, Senate and the White House for the first time in 12 years. Introduced in the first days of the 103rd Congress, the House and Senate Judiciary committees quickly moved it on for floor scheduling within weeks.

But it never came up for debate or a vote in the House or Senate.

Now, you could assume that despite all these actual reservations, everyone is all excited about FOCA because they’re too ignorant of the process to know better. Or, you could assume that in the face of at least two years of Democratic dominance of the federal government, social conservatives are exciting the base about a straw man.

If so, it offends me that made it into church this morning.

Now, don’t get me wrong, politicking in church is something I don’t have a problem with. I actually appreciated the information and debate during the assisted suicide campaign last year. But, the over the top display this moring dismayed me.

Mostly, because we looked stupid worrying about a zero-chance bill. But, also because we take a hack at this pitch way outside the strike zone when we keep the bat on our shoulder when so many fast balls come flying by us.

Things much more likely to happen that are also not good if you’re Catholic:

1. War in Iraq will continue for the time being. Oh yeah, in Congo too.

2. 78,000 children in Washington State have no health insurance, at all. That’s won’t change, and we don’t talk about that in mass.

3. Mortgage meltdown continues and will continue. Strangely, even though Father cited the banking crisis as evidence of the moral problem we face, he didn’t go on to point out the number of Pro-Life conservative politicians that also voted to deregulate banking in the past decade. A lot more than Pro-Choice Democrats.

And, while we do hear a lot about materialism, I have never seen postcards in the pews regarding a banking bill.

Next step for Ken Camp, the blogger of Tumwater

I’m sure Ken would tell you he’s busy now. Oh yeah, everyone that works in a building of greek design in Olympia is sooo busy now. Well, still, I have a few ideas for you blogger now that you’re seeing a lull and the county commissioner appointment process that you covered so well has petered out.

1. Redesign. Your design is pretty bad. Not horrible, but you need to dance that ol’blog up.

If you were asking, this one and this one look nice.

2. Cover Tumwater city hall. The council posts their packets here, go through it each week and spout off about something. You live in Tumwater, right?

Oh yeah, and while we’re talking about that, what do you think of an Olyblog for Tumwater?

Blue Tiger media

A few years ago an organization of Democrats that wanted to reengage the party in civic engagement sprung up in New York. They talked a lot about the club houses Democrats used to have and the concept of civic engagement. Democrats getting into the day-to-day business of their community.

Of course, that was a lot easier to do when patronage jobs were common in politics, but their point was well taken by me. Politics and being political is too removed from day-to-day, parties need to reengage the common.

Anyway, one of the the things the Blue Tigers didn’t talk about (I think they’re gone again, their website is down) is the old parties and their use of media. Many newspapers, especially pioneer newspapers during the first explosion of media in the early 1800s were extremely partisan:

By 1835 papers had spread to the Mississippi River and beyond, from Texas to St. Louis, throughout Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and into Wisconsin. These pioneer papers, poorly written, poorly printed, and partisan often beyond all reason, served a greater than a merely local purpose in sending weekly to the seat of government their hundreds of messages of good and evil report, of politics and trade, of weather and crops, that helped immeasurably to bind the farflung population into a nation. Every congressman wrote regularly to his own local paper; other correspondents were called upon for like service, and in some instances the country editors established extensive and reliable lines of intelligence; but most of them depended on the bundle of exchanges from Washington, Philadelphia, and New York, and reciprocally the city papers made good use of their country exchanges.

Holy cats, if that doesn’t sound like the worst, most base description of blogs, I don’t know what does. But, that doesn’t really matter because it just shows that blogs are simply replicating an older form of media.

Lately, we’ve been talking about (here and here) the future economic nature of journalism. I think one of the futures is direct partisan support for partisan online publications. Think of a direct subsidy from Democrats to horsesass.org to subsidize coverage of the legislative session.

I’m not sure it would ever occur to the actual party organization to subsidize a partisan journalist, especially since the thought of even starting their own blog was so foreign just a little while ago. But, it would be interesting to see as the old media outlets around town dry up, whether liberal and conservative donors start realizing there’s going to be a vacuum there and that they can fill it with some good ol’partisan journalism.

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