Thursday, December 31, 2009

Did McGinn forget something?

On the November, 2005 ballot, there was a special item on the ballot that really meant something to the activists in our city.

City Of Seattle Advisory Measure No. 1 Health Care asked a basic question to the citizens of Seattle. "Is Health Care a Right?" 122,129 people, or 69.5%, said yes. 53,606 or 30.5% said no.

So now we have the incoming Mayor, Mike McGinn, whom my records say VOTED in that election, saying that he can't find a way to justify paying for some members of the outgoing Mayor's staff so they can keep their health insurance while they search for a job during the month of January.

This is not about broken promises. This isn't about money, which we can find if we need it. It's about a newly elected official not paying attention to the voices of the people he now represents. What do we have to do, have this initiative pass every single election for our elected representatives to be able to listen to it?

Health Care is a RIGHT, Mr. Mayor-Elect. You can bet that I will NEVER let you forget that.

Give these people the right to coverage during January while they search for a new job. Listen to the people of Seattle. Please.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I'm sorry if I offended you

You see, I'm one of those "tree-huggers" that they talked about in the movie "Avatar". You were walking ahead of us as my son and I walked from the movie to the mall for dinner. I was telling my son what I was thinking after watching the movie, and this is part of what I can remember.

"One of the messages from that movie was that mankind had already destroyed our own world, and we were moving from system to system trying to collect resources to take back to Earth to power our civilization. But that wasn't the language that was used. The movie said that we had already 'killed' our world. And they're right. If we don't wake up and change our way of life, that is what will happen. And it's up to you and your generation to make sure that we don't destroy this planet and make it uninhabitable."

You had your two sons walking with you, and as I told my son that it was up to him and his generation, I pointed to both him and the two boys walking ahead of us. Because that is what I believe. We are at a crossroads, and we have a choice to make. I continued, "Nature must be treated as a partner, not just a source of raw materials and resources."

And then you laughed. Snide, like "oh, great, one of those people". And I got pissed off. I will admit that I flew off the handle, but when someone laughs at me and what I believe, I go on the defensive.

"And anyone who laughs at that will die along with their children," I said.

Yes, that's what I said. Loud enough for you to hear it. Because your laugh disgusted me, hurt me, and I lashed out.

That's how deep my faith is. I read the news. I listen to the radio. I know how close we are to the point where it is too late to turn back the clock. Do we want our civilization to survive? Does it deserve to survive? If nature is just a bunch of dumb animals, raw plant matter and ore for mining and building, what's the point of life? What's the purpose behind G-d's creation if we can't (or won't) nurture it, protect it and watch it grow?

I don't need to be a scientist to know what James Cameron was talking about. In some ways I have felt it. Our own real scientists have seen the evidence of it in the Redwoods of Northern California. The bioelectric neural network from the movie doesn't quite exist, but I can see it. I would love for science to develop a way for us to connect to each other on such a deep level. Maybe that is what we need to wake ourselves up from this nightmare of dead roads and poison producing energy sources. I hope we're not too late.

Anyway, that's what happened, that's how I feel, and I'm not ashamed of what I believe. I'm just sorry I flew off the handle, and I hope you can forgive me.

Whoever you were.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

My health care message to President Obama

Mr. President,

The question should not be whether there is a public option or not. The question should be whether we allow the private option to continue. We cannot continue to allow the private insurance market to rape this country. And there is no nice way of saying it.

Only Single Payer will solve the problem of coverage. I would support a robust public option that moves us in that direction.

Sir, you MUST issue a VETO THREAT against any bill that reaches your desk without a nationally accessible public option without a trigger. You MUST send Senator Reid and Nancy Pelosi a message that only a robust public option will get your signature.

If you don't do this, if you sign a bill without a public option, then you will lose the support you built during the 2008 campaign. Everyone I know is frustrated, and is looking you for progressive leadership. Your political future is on the line, sir. Oh, and the lives of thousands upon thousands of people.

Please make the right decision.

Chad Lupkes

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Support the Cap and Dividend bill!

Dear Congressman McDermott,

Please consider signing on as a co-sponsor of H.R.1862, the Cap and Dividend Act of 2009. This legislation was introduced on April 1st, 2009, and would establish a method of reducing our carbon dioxide emissions while at the same time providing the money for our citizens to afford the increased cost of energy due to our efforts to curb Climate Change.

The concept is simple, and similar to the Cap and Trade bill that is being pushed by Rep. Waxman. But instead of allowing companies to buy and sell the permits in a trade system, the money that they spend to buy the rights to put pollution into the atmosphere would instead be distributed to the citizens of the United States directly. The system is already in place in Alaska, and is very popular.

Please consider co-signing this bill. I think it has more of a chance of actually helping to curb Climate Change than any other legislation in Congress.

Thank you for all that you do!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

And now for something Really Important

The idea was to make it look as much like the toy as possible, to try to build it like the way the toy designer(s) did.

The design came from the 2009 Voyager Ironhide toy. Shea transformed the toy into vehicle mode, and we collected a bunch of cardboard boxes with pieces big enough to build a truck of a size necessary to make a costume out of. We completed the truck, but didn't get a picture of it before we cut it up to make the individual pieces of the costume.

The result was a three piece costume, plus a mask and the weapons.

Here's a link to some pictures on Facebook.

Lessons learned.

Velcro does not stick to black trashbags very well. We eventually had to get some electricians tape and give it a few wraps between the back and the shoulder pieces. This means that we won't be able to use this exact design to transform it, but it held together really well for the walks down the street and to the Northgate Mall.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Congress is wrong, and this is how to fix it.

(Another link in an email chain between myself and my mother.)

I don't disagree with needing to take care of our own first, but I
will draw the line at taking care of our own ONLY. And Congress is
not doing either with this piece of legislation. The representatives
in DC from the Democratic Party that I have contact with know my
position on this piece of junk, or if they haven't read their email
yet they will soon.

I want private for-profit insurance companies to have to earn their
ability to stay in business as supplemental insurance over and above a
national single payer program where everyone pays the same percentage
rate, whatever rate is required to pay for everyone's coverage.
Insurance problem solved. That's what France does, and they have a
vibrant private insurance sector where 80% of the people of the
country can afford and buy that supplemental insurance. I want our
doctors and nurses to be able to pay off their school loans and not
have to worry about that debt, and I want medical schools to be free
for anyone with a passion for helping their fellow man. If you can
pass the courses, you can be a doctor or nurse.

I want our veterans to get whatever care they need, including mental
health counseling for PTSD, and I want the best medical technology
applied to bring their lives back into a semblance of normalcy. I
want Medicare reimbursement rates to be regionally specific, paying
100% of market rate in each region of the country, not this 75% or
whatever the discount that has so many of our doctors around the
country refusing to see Medicare and Medicaid patients now.

I want Social Security to remove the cap on the taxes so that it is a
flat tax applying equally to everyone in our society from minimum wage
to our CEO's. That would solve the SSI financial hole immediately and

The best Social Welfare program is a job, and I want the government to
be the employer of last resort again like it was when Grandpa got a
job as a lumberjack in the Cascades. We need our roads repaved from
our federal highways to our local streets. We need our water systems
rebuilt with modern pipes that don't crack during a cold spell. We
need our rail systems revived across the country so we can transport
passengers and freight. We need our power systems plugged into
millions of solar panels, wind turbines and geothermal plants so we
can stop burning coal for electrical power.

These are the ideas that I've been pushing for years, and my
desperation at trying to get people to listen to me has gotten more
and more intense. I will not quit until someone finally listens.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

WikiWorld - Us Now Film

I just finished watching a series of videos on YouTube that were uploaded by UsNowFilm. It's a 7 part series, also available as a full length DVD, that talks about how collaboration is changing everything in our society. The film is based, and was filmed in London and the UK, but the principles apply everywhere.

Here's a link: UsNowFilm Part 1

And here's the embed:

This is part of the choice we have in front of us. What kind of a world do we want to build, OR do we continue on our current path and watch our world self-destruct. Please watch and enjoy. Then think about it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What do you do?

What do you do when the choices that seem to be offered to us are "Socialism" or extinction? Not an easy choice?

How do you tell your children "I'm sorry" when what you are apologizing for is failing to save the planet?

How do you get a message to the voters that their participation is necessary because the only other choice is to give up all power to people who care more about their bank account balances than the future of our children?

I don't have any answers to these questions. But at least I have the courage to ask them.

The conservative message machine is going on and on about how President Obama is a "Socialist", and they don't seem to understand that the American people are understanding more and more that socialism is no longer something to be terrified of. And they don't stop to define it, other than to say "the government is taking over our lives." Which goes beyond the Psycho Talk that Ed Schultz likes to highlight on his TV and Radio shows. It's just stupid. And what it means is that the conservatives on radio and television no longer have any idea of what they are talking about.

Maybe they're not worth listening to.

Michelle Bachman is convinced the 1% AM radio listening audience that regularly tunes into Limbaugh's show is a majority of people. Callers to Thom Hartmann, Ed Schultz and Ron Reagan on AM1090 repeat endlessly that because "they" object or because a number of people who like Tea Parties object, they have the right to stop what a SUPERMAJORITY of people in our country know must happen and worked to make happen in the last election.

They don't care we live in a democracy. They can't really claim to have the support of the majority anymore. I keep thinking about what country they could move to if they don't want to live in America anymore. I can't think of one.

I watched Al Gore's talk to the 2006 TED conference yesterday. It's on Youtube and the website. He quoted a scientist's statement that the current climate crisis is the test whether an opposible thumb and a cerebral cortex is a viable combination on planet Earth. The scientist gets it. Al Gore gets it. Most strong progressives get it. We're not talking about food prices going up. We're talking about stores being empty. We're not talking about electricity costs going up. We're talking about the electrical grid going dark. We're not talking about sending our kids to their room for getting bad grades in school. We're talking about sending them to their graves.

What are we really supposed to do? Talk to each other. Go knock on your neighbors' door, and ask them over for dinner. Turn off your television and radio, and turn on Facebook, Twitter, and any number of other social networking sites. Express your fears and worries. Ask questions. Get answers.

Vote. It matters who you vote for, but just casting a vote is a huge step in the right direction. Get involved. Go to, and see what the opportunities are. Ask the person sitting next to you at work if they voted. Go out to lunch and talk about who they voted for.

Teach your children well. Tell them that you love them and that you are doing everything possible to make their future possible. Then do it. Whatever you can do. Whatever it takes.

What do you do? What will you do? Start.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A rant on Health Care Reform

This rant comes from an email thread with my mother...

The current forms of the public option allow the private insurance companies to continue to rip into the guts of our finances, both as individuals and as a nation. They don't care about us, and they seem to own our Congress outright, or at least most of them. The have enough influence to slow down or stop any real reform. Unless we do something to counter them.

I want everyone under the same system. No more wasting time, money and resources by having different forms for each of the 1,800 different insurance companies. No more paper pushers that get paid to deny claims. If we can get away from our irrational fear of the boogyman government, we could save enough money to maybe save our planet. If not, we all die. Not kidding, and you know it. Single Payer is the only real solution to the biggest issue, which is coverage for every single person in the United States.

The current bill's affect on Medicare and Medicaid are totally unknown right now. Until the bills are reconciled and merged into a single set of text, don't listen to anyone who tells you this or that about the text. They're all talking out of their ignorance. Health Care is 1/6th of our economy, because the private insurance and medical industrial complex want it that way. It should be half that, at most. Our goal should be to get it under control, not to deny it to anyone.

And you're damned right we want everyone covered regardless of status. I don't want someone with Ebola or TB walking around our streets instead of being in a hospital just because someone puts a silver cross in front of them and cries "illegal alien". That's as stupid as anything coming out of the xenophibic idiots on the right. Get them into a hospital, get them well, and send them home. Charge their government for the expense.

And as I've been saying for years, throw anyone who hires someone without at least a verified green card in jail, one day for every day that someone like that was employed. You'll see a line of people trying to get back south across the border within 2 days. Democrats need to help set up and enforce the e-verify solutions that will prevent fraudulent Social Security numbers from being used.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dear Rep. McDermott,

Thank you for voting for more civility in the House instead of less.
The rebuke was nothing but a revenge tactic that helped the media
distract the voters from the real issues. Stay focused, and let's get
this health care bill done.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I don't think Seattle is ready for my son

Shea was walking home from QFC yesterday with Debi, and he noticed a stretch of sidewalk that had a lot of trash on it. According to Debi, he stopped and got this look on his face. When I got home from the KCDCC meeting at about 9:45, he was all over me saying that we had a job to do today. Picking up the trash.

We were out until 7, meaning we're having dinner around 8. Which is ok.

On our way home, picking up paper as we went, we passed by a middle eastern gentleman who joined us for about a block. He said that the apartment complex behind him had a bunch of kids that needed something to do until school started, and asked Shea to organize them into a neighborhood cleanup crew.

Seattle, are you ready for this? Shea is a recycling fiend! :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Today's sign that the corporations have too much power.

This is fascinating. I'm curious if there is a rail line between Lewiston, Idaho and Spokane, Washington. So I do a Google search for "rail lines in the Northwest". Northwest of Chicago? No. NorthWest Rail in Australia? No, but at least that link gets me to Wikipedia. So, let's zoom out to the "rail lines in Sydney" category, then Australia, then "Railway lines by country". That's where I see the fascinating thing.

Every other category description has "Railway lines in XXX". Except the United States. "Railway companies of the United States".

So not only have corporations taken over our government, they're actually more important than the lines that they are supposed to manage on the global encyclopedia?! Freaking weird.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sustainable Works in Seattle

Sustainable Works, a project of Sound Organizing and also working with IAF Northwest, is beginning a campaign over the next few years to retrofit and assist homeowners in North Seattle. Here is the area they are looking at; NE 65th St to NE 85th St, and 30th Ave NE to 30th Ave NE. Here is a map of the area:

View this map full screen.

They sent me two documents to help explain who they are as an organization, and what this project is all about. The first is a Q&A about Sustainable Works, and another page going into some details about what they want to do. Please read those two pages and if you are interested, please contact Richard Wells, 206-930-6377.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

One form to rule them all.

Three forms from the Navy on the sea,
Seven from the medical halls of Florida,
Nine from Washingtonians doomed to try and rhyme,
One for the Superintendent on her throne,
In the City of Seattle where his school district lies.
One Form to rule them all, One Form to organize them,
One Form to bring them all and before September 8th bind them
In the City of Seattle where Shea doth lie.

Can we please move to electronic medical records?

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Election Maps and History Project Update

I would like to announce a major milestone for the Maps and History project of the Washington State Democratic Chairs Organization. Roger Crew, our Maps project lead, has completed his collection of precinct shape files for all 39 counties in the state of Washington. The maps are viewable on our website here:

This project began in 2006, when I figured out a way to include the maps that Roger had been working on with the Election History data pages that Fred Morris had developed. We have gotten help along the way by many of the local party chairs, and Ben Johnstone-Anderson and Michael Snyder joined our efforts and did a lot of legwork getting the shapefiles. Thanks to everyone!

The Maps project will continue as we gather updates, and we will be very active over the next two years as the US Census does their work and the counties work on redistricting based on the new population data.

There are 6732 precincts in the database now if you want to use the number. We started in early 2007, won the Blogpac contest which was broadcast all over the country, I went to Netroots Nation in '08 to talk about it, I went to the 2008 Washington GIS Conference to speak about it, and I'm making contact with other states to ask how they are doing and what we can do. It's interesting, because we reached 100% coverage in Washington nearly two years to the day of my submitting the project for consideration to Chris Bowers of and Blogpac. Our next step is to do an inventory of the election history data that we have, that we can get, and figure out how to make use of it all. I'm looking forward to seeing the project grow.

Here is the project history, as you can find it on the Blogosphere:


Here's a video put together with Emmett O'Connell with some older maps that I had put together in 2005 showing how representation had changed in the Washington State Legislative Districts between 2002 and 2004:

This is where I want to go, showing election results on the maps themselves using data and KML. That's the eventual goal.

There are other groups around the country working on similar projects as well. Here are some highlights:

Have ideas? Want to help us collect data for the rest of the country? Contact me, and let's put this country on the map.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Rep. Doc Hastings lies to his constituents on his publicly funded website

In case he changes it, here's a screenshot from earlier this morning.

"Were you aware that individual private health insurance plans will be outlawed in 2013 under the Democratic health care plan?"

Show me in the language of the current legislation being considered by the committees in the US House and US Senate where it says that individual private health insurance plans will be outlawed in 2013. You can't. It's not there. Neither can Doc, and he knows it.

Even under HR 676, Medicare for ALL, private insurance would not be "outlawed" for anything beyond basic care, which is our national responsibility TO EACH OTHER in a civilized country. Because that's the way it works in all the "civilized" countries around the world whose citizens decided that they care about each other.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Five "Freedoms" to ponder

Got a link to this article sent to me:

5 Freedoms You'd Lose in Health Care Reform

I'm not an expert. I don't have all of these laws and rules at my fingertips. I deal with things based on principles that I hold. And I'm willing to question anything. Even freedom. So,...


1. Freedom to choose what's in your plan

Correct. You will no longer be able to choose not to pay the money necessary to prepare for certain things. It's all or nothing. If the committee decides that certain things have a significant risk for people in the United States, and allocates some money to study it and find a cure for whatever it is, our money will be going towards that research, as well as the money necessary to treat the people suffering from the disease.

The Senate bill requires coverage for prescription drugs, because many people in the United States (including myself) need them to survive. It requires mental-health benefits, because people who are suffering from a mental illness need our help. Same with substance abuse. It's less expensive to treat people and get them back into mainstream society than to let them rot and move into the underground culture of crime.

So, everyone pays into the system, and those resources get allocated however they are needed to provide all of us with the coverage we need for whatever troubles us. That's what being in a "society" means.

2. Freedom to be rewarded for healthy living, or pay your real costs

When Social Security passed in 1936, it launched what is known as a "generational committment". The decision was made that we didn't want to see our elders on the street, or losing their home, or thanks to Medicare passing in the 1960's too sick to appreciate the life they have.

What is the reward for healthy living? How about an enjoyable life? The purpose of our government is to secure Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness for our citizens. If you're homeless, or sick, you're not very happy.

And the real costs of people being sick go beyond just that individual or that family. The entire community suffers, because that person is not being effective at work, is not able to participate as a member of their family, etc. So we need to be willing to pay the costs necessary to get that person back on their feet.

3. Freedom to choose high-deductible coverage

A "market" is where people make trades and exchanges of goods and services, under a set of rules. That's what is so often ignored when people talk about "free markets". They don't exist. All markets operate under particular rules and laws. If you're talking about a financial market, it wouldn't exist without the money that is being used in the exchange. It wouldn't exist without the laws being enforced by the courts. It wouldn't exist without a foundation that protects people on both side of a trade. If by "free market" you mean one without any rules, you're talking about Anarchy.

Health Savings Accounts mean one thing. If you haven't saved up enough money, your insurance doesn't cover it. The tax thing? We can fix that. And do you really want to buy into a program where you must have that $12,000 available in cash in case you get hit by a car? That makes no sense.

Consumer driven care, to me, means care that is under the control of a patient and their doctor. The insurance company is there to pay the bills, not put something between what your doctor says you need and your ability to pay for it.

4. Freedom to keep your existing plan

This is based on an assumption. That assumption is that the employer based health care system is good and healthy for our country and our citizens. If you believe that it is, then this Freedom is important to you. If, on the other hand, you believe that our employers should not be saddled with the costs of health care, then this Freedom doesn't seem so important.

What part of your health care do you want to keep? Your rates? What if the new program costs you less? Your doctor? What if the new program would allow you to continue to see your doctor, go to the same pharmacy, the same hospital, etc?

The biggest "threat" when it comes to your existing employer based health care plan doesn't come from the Government. It comes from your employer. What if your employer figures out that they can save a lot of money by dumping their health care coverage and requiring people to go to the "exchange" instead out of their own pocket? From sole proprietor to super-corporation, every business needs to examine their ability to keep up with the costs associated with health care. If it is less expensive for your company to ask people to move to the public option, or another option because they choose not to offer coverage, that's what they will do.

I won't get into details in the law. Let's start with principles. Is a business in existence to make money, or to provide services to their employees? I thought it was to make money. It's OUR responsibility as a society to take care of each other. It's not the responsibility of your employer. That has twisted the for-profit business sector since World War II, when businesses started offering health insurance coverage because the rules of the economy at that point in history did not allow them to raise wages. It was wrong then, and it's wrong now.

5. Freedom to choose your doctors

The article goes into big picture what if statements. I have a primary doctor. He is covered under my plan. I would not choose to take coverage under any insurance plan that would require me to change my doctor. And if the government tries to take away my choice, I'll raise havok with my government, which I have the ability to do. Right now if my private insurance company decided to drop my doctor, I would not have any opportunity to influence that decision. Because my insurance company is looking at costs, not my desires and wishes.


Question the assumptions. Question what we have now. Don't assume when you are looking either direction for a solution for this mess.

Freedom is not free. That's a phrase that gets shot around all the time. And it's right. Freedom is not free. It requires a foundation. And it's the role of our government to secure our foundation so we don't fall through the cracks. That's the progressive viewpoint on Government.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Interesting statistics

So I'm cleaning up my desk, and sorting all of the paperwork that I've kept in total chaos over the last 5 years. Finally finished getting everything financial related into folders in a storage box, which looks much better than a pile of random paper.

But what I'm finding interesting is the statistics involved in what that paperwork consists of. I don't have counts of the pages, that would be a bit above and beyond. But here's the thickness of the folders for the thickest ones.

Thickest at the top.

- Bank statements from Washington Mutual.
- Records of Medical Bills and Insurance Statements.
- Records from my 401K and other investments.
- Records from my credit cards

Just found that interesting in terms of paper wasted by what industries, and how important these are in my life.

Oh, and I found my library cards. For Seattle, King County, Sno-Isle and Tacoma. The Washington State Libraries need to take a look at the ORCA card.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A ramble on trust and truth

It used to be all I'd want to learn
was wisdom, trust, and truth

- Collective Soul:Forgiveness, Discipled Breakdown (1997)

Sometimes I find the differences between the conservative perspective on government and the progressive perspective on government worth commenting about.

I'm a progressive. I see the government as the organization that is focused on securing our foundation. When everything falls apart, I rely on the government to help ensure my safety and provide the security so that I can get back on my feet. When trust falls apart, they have the ability to find the truth. The truth will set you free, right..?

To conservatives, or people who seem to hold conservative values even if they don't consider themselves to be following any of these politically based terms, the government is a force that takes things from them. They take taxes to provide help to someone else, deserved or not. They are a last resort because they have that kind of power, and if you have to go to the government it means that you have failed. And failure is a bad thing.

Well, failure is an option sometimes. We can't do everything, and we certainly can't do everything right every time. Having the government as a foundation allows us to make mistakes, because if our government is operating properly we have the sense of security necessary for us to take those risks.

The government is not something to be afraid of. Our government is there to help us, or at least it is supposed to. What we have to do is be honest with ourselves and those that we do business with, personal or otherwise. If that trust is broken, we need help from someone who has the ability to determine the truth. If you are scared of the government, then something is wrong. The way to secure your position is to use the government as a shield.

I think that's another way of articulating that difference in perspective. Conservatives see government as a sword, while progressives see government as a shield. If you are going to the government for help, you're not asking them to strike out against someone else, you're asking them to be a shield against the unknown or untrustworthy. If you have the truth on your side, the government will defend you.

This is sort of a ramble, I know. But rambles have their place. Maybe they can start a conversation, and contribute to people's understanding. Sometimes rambles can communicate better than direct attempts.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dear Reagan Dunn: Shut up

To quote the boy wonder who wants his mother's old seat, "The first rule in economics, you don't tax economic activity in a down cycle of the recession."

Funny, when I did a Google search for "The first rule in economics", I got a different result: First Rule of Economics: Wealth Is a Result of Exploitation.

Maybe I should complete his sentence, say what he really meant to say. The first rule in economic politics is that you don't dare tax wealth if you want a prayer of being reelected or elected to a higher office.

In case you can't tell, I'm rather angry about this.

No funding for parks, to heck with health services, end all help to people who need it. Perhaps the only way to drive this home would be to not only stop funding clean up efforts in the parks, but actually blockade the entrances so that nobody can use them. We should post signs in the windows of the health service centers that shut down saying "This center closed due to rich greed."

Economics is a science. It is the study of financial transactions and how those transactions affect the lives of people. In a true sense, economic value is like matter and energy. Can neither be created or destroyed. We take resources from the Earth and the Sun, and convert them into goods and services that meet a human need. Food is soil combined with water combined with sunlight. Shelter comes from taking materials from a forest or the ground, and turning them into homes and buildings. We generate wealth through the production of those goods and services, but these things only have value if they actually serve a human need. Just generating numbers in an accounting book does nothing to help anyone, and it should be discouraged.

Taxing wealth, the way that President Herbert Hoover did in 1932 on our way down into the depths of the Great Depression, was a way of preventing the rich from getting away with their wealth. Taxes on the highest incomes went from 25% to 63% on a graduated scale. That wasn't to tax economic activity, it was to discourage idle wealth from sucking up the recovery dollars that were going to be put into trying to dig us out of the hole.

Power corrupts. Wealth in our society means power. That means wealth corrupts. Our problem here in Washington is that we have a Constitution that says "All taxes shall be uniform upon the same class of property within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax and shall be levied and collected for public purposes only. The word 'property' as used herein shall mean and include everything, whether tangible or intangible, subject to ownership." - Article VII, Section 1. This has been interpreted by the court as preventing a progressive state income tax, as well as any measures that would tax any property at a higher rate than any other property. Which gives our state the most regressive tax system in the nation, hurting the people who need the most support from the foundations of our society. The foundations that we rely on our government to secure.

We need leadership in this state who will put their reelection needs lower on the priority list than getting the real work done. We need people in office who will do what is right.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

One lousy afternoon

Your knowledge of a situation changes the situation instantly. By becoming aware, you alter the outcome of the situation - "Dr. Quantum's Little Book of Big Ideas" by Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D.

So, Debi went out to volunteer to help clean up an area of Magnuson Park with EarthCorps, and I stayed home to relax and get some things done online. We had planned to head down to ride the train to Tukwila after she got back and I looked online for some interesting restaurants before I headed out on my bike for a ride.

Search came up with zilch. And it was a bit depressing to find out that the Lewis & Clark movie theater that I had grown up going to was closed, at least from what I could find online. Hopefully, someone will come up with some interesting non-fast-junk-food places around that station. And hopefully soon.

So I went out on my bike. I headed down 125th Ave, with a plan to bike down to Magnuson and around to the U-District and then back home. That didn't work. I don't go down 125th very often, and the road was in bad enough shape that my rear tire popped thanks to the cracks in the road. This was down the hill, and I realized that I had forgotten my bus pass. So I walked my bike back up the hill to home, got my pass and my debit card, and then walked it up Roosevelt to Revolution Cycles to get my tire replaced. I'll try that run again tomorrow morning.

Debi got home around 2:45, and when she was rested and ready, we set off to the rail station. This meant that we needed to catch the 41 at 115th and 5th, and the schedule said that it was supposed to be there at 3:58 and the next one at 4:11. We didn't make it to the 3:58, but we did see a bus go by at about 4:03 as we were walking towards the stop. So we waited for the next one. And waited.

At 4:35, a 41 bus finally got to our stop. We got to the Transit Center, and the line was very long to get on, and there was a wheelchair. It wouldn't have been a problem if a little'un and a little bigger'un weren't crying and screaming in the seats next to us. Survivable, but I was getting hungry.

We finally got downtown around 5, after going through hella-traffic thanks to a car stuck in the middle of the southbound lanes. Getting hungrier.

We figured it would be easy enough to get on the train at Westlake, make the run to Tukwila and back again, and stop at our favorite place in Pioneer Square on the way home. So we headed into Westlake Mall to get to the tunnel. Wrong move. They had blockaded the entrance so people couldn't just come into their celebration from anywhere willy-nilly. We, along with a LOT of other people, were told to go back up to 4th Avenue to the entrance by Abercrombie & Fitch. So we went up, and found that it was actually the Main entrance in the Macy's building that was the real entrance to the circus. And I do mean circus.

A clown playing a saw with a violin bow? A Starbucks delivery for order #63 on a tall unicycle? Amateur attempts at crowd control? The guys doing tricks weren't bad, but if you're going to have people line up to get on a ride, do like Disney and SeaTac does, and create a snake so that we always think the line is moving.

We finally got to the train at 5:45, rather ravenous for some food. So we asked, and were delighted to find out that we could get off the train in Pioneer Square so we could go eat. But, how long would the trains be running tonight? Don't know, not sure, ask him/her, check upstairs. On our way out we got an "I don't know, maybe 7:30 or 8" a few more times from the people with yellow shirts who were the "Event Staff". Whatever, by that point we were too hungry to care much.

Dinner was great, btw. As usual at the New Orleans.

After dinner, we found a station entrance blocked, and was pointed up the James hill to another one. This was about 6:45, and we were told that just before we got there they had all been told that the system would stop running at 8pm, with no guarantee that we would be able to get back on the train but that there were shuttle buses running between the stops just in case.

We quit. Headed to the closest 41 stop. For another bus ride, another wheelchair (blessings be upon them), and finally got home around 7:45.

Four hours for dinner downtown, and a thrilling evening around the people of Seattle on a Saturday night.

I think we'll go shopping in the morning and stay home. I think it might be a bit less chaotic starting Monday when the circus leaves down.

Friday, July 10, 2009

New Twitter "Tag"

I'm having a lot of fun on Twitter. A few times today I noticed a post that I just had to respond to, and my own post in return had a new 'tag' on it. "Bring it!"

Hat tip to Mr. Former President whom I hope gets thrown in prison. Bring it on indeed.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

What if

It's 5:45 am. Do you know where your immigration legislation is? My mom does. Not that I wanted to hear it at that hour. The King County Council is considering legislation:

Under a proposal before the Metropolitan King County Council, health facilities run by the county could not deny care based on immigration status, and sheriff's deputies could not ask people for immigration papers, or investigate, detain or arrest people for immigration violations. - Seattle Times

So my mind started thinking about "What If".

What if there is a traffic accident, with one witness to the accident who might not speak English very well. A huge insurance war erupts, with each side blaming the other. Where is the witness? Well, the King County Sheriff had asked about immigration status, and the witness was returned to her home country before identified as a witness.

What if there is a fire, and a silent hero rescues 3 children. The family and neighbors plan a great big celebration as a thank you, only to find out that the hero, who was silent because of a language barrier, cannot attend from the INS detention center.

Immigration is an issue. It's an issue of how strong we are willing to build our communities. I don't believe that anyone should be breaking laws to come to the United States. But we have people who are without employment not because the employers don't have positions available, but because those employers are more than willing to skip the immigration question in the hiring process. That's where our enforcement dollars need to go. It's those employers who need to go to jail, not members of our community who are trying to build a future for their children in the land of opportunity.

Oh, it's about taxes? Francamente, no doy un maldito.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Re: OP-ED: The non-competition health plan | Dr. Stark

Doctor Stark,

I'd like to make a few comments about your opinion piece.

You said: "118 million will be forced to join after opting out or losing their private coverage." I don't understand something about this. If people's health insurance is so good, why would people choose to switch over to the public option? I'm an advocate for Single Payer, and I believe that the reason is because private businesses who are tired of competing with companies in other industrialized countries who don't have to pay for their employees health care would decide to stop providing that benefit altogether. So people wouldn't have a "choice". They would be pushed, by their current employers' decisions, to move to the public option.

You also said: "Medicare was passed in 1965, and by 1970, no private market existed, except for co-pays and deductibles, for the elderly in the United States." This is not true. Plenty of private health insurance exists for people over the age of 65. If people want to pay the premiums, health care insurance companies would be more than welcome to provide them with coverage. Nobody can afford it, but that's not the issue. They would exist if there was a market for it. And the only reason why there is not a market is because private insurance cannot compete with Medicare on a level playing field. People can complain all they want about how bad the coverage is, but the fact remains true that those complaints have not created a way for private health insurance to compete with the Medicare system. And if there are problems with Medicare, we know what to do about it. Get our representatives to fix it, or vote them out of office. Have you been able to successfully lobby the Board of Directors of Blue Cross?

Personally, I believe that a Public Option or Single Payer is something we cannot afford NOT to do. You're right about the unfunded liabilities in the Medicare system. Estimates I have seen say that at the peak of the Baby Boomer retirement in the 2020's, the system will have $77 Trillion Dollars to deal with. I'm not going to deny that. But I just don't believe that private health insurance, which has a mandate to make profits instead of providing care to people, would be able to handle that load any better than any other system, and with enough pressure brought to bear by the people depending on the system for their very lives, a publicly funded system might even be persuaded to do it better and cheaper.

I've seen the estimates that say Medicare only reimburses 70-80 percent of the private rates. And I agree that's a problem. So let's increase that to Market Rate and see how many doctors suddenly decide that it's worth accepting Medicare patients again.

I don't think Canada should be the only foreign system that we look at. Have you looked at the French system? There is a vibrant and healthy private, non-profit, health insurance sector built on top of the national insurance available to everyone. 85% of the people of France are covered by both, and they are very happy with it. We could do that. We could do even better, I'm sure.

Let's put market competition at work providing health care services instead of paying health care CEO's and stockholders, and we'll see a healthier America and a brighter future.

Chad Lupkes

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Gasp! Dow's a Democrat?!

NW Digest has a post up about Dow Constantine being willing to say out loud in public that he is a Democrat. Gasp! How Shocking!

So, I decided to comment, and wrote this:

When did it become partisan to want to build a strong economy with good paying jobs? When did it become partisan to want a healthy natural world for our children to show to their children? When did it become partisan to want cheaper alternative methods of transportation that get us from place to place faster? When did it become partisan to want an efficient government that is responsive, responsible and representative? When did it become partisan to want to protect Human Rights, or Animal rights? These are just the issues on Dow’s issue page.

Non-partisanship does not mean that candidates have to hide their values. By saying that he is a Democrat, Dow is simply identifying which set of values he tries to live by. A strong community, fair markets, fair taxation, better government and traditional american values of peace, opportunity and justice for all.

If that drives people away, maybe they’re listening to conservative talk radio too much.

And when I hit submit, it told me that my comment was awaiting moderation... So, better to be safe than sorry. I posted it here as well.

Comments welcome! And unmoderated, I might add...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sean Salazar is too dangerous to be in the US Senate

I got home from a wonderful Father's Day, and checked my Twitter account for updates. found these:

seanforsenate: The older generation was decimated during the ten year Iraq war…

seanforsenate: 70% of the population of IRAN is under 40 and they are PRO AMERICA….!

seanforsenate: I support complete overthrow in Iran…NOW!

seanforsenate: The U.S Govt. failed to see the generational uprising in Iran. I predicted it over a year ago

Oh, my, frickin', G-d.

First, "seanforsenate" is the campaign Twitter account for Sean Salazar, GOP candidate for US Senate in Washington for the 2010 election cycle.

I'll go through these in the order that they were posted.

"The U.S Govt. failed to see the generational uprising in Iran. I predicted it over a year ago" - Um, as little as I think about how the Bush Administration destroyed foreign relations between our country and the rest of the world, I have real trouble believing that they were THAT STUPID. Give me a break. Anyone with a brain should have been able to see this coming for at least two decades. That it took until last year for Mr. Salazar to see it doesn't bode well for his ability.

"I support complete overthrow in Iran…NOW!" - Really!?! A candidate for the US Senate is advocating for the overthrow of a foreign government? There's a big difference between our people supporting their people as they try to wrestle with the problems of getting fair representation and fair treatment by their government, and actually calling for them to do something this drastic. We should NOT be advocating for violence, and that's exactly what this is no matter how you try to spin the words.

"70% of the population of IRAN is under 40 and they are PRO AMERICA….!" - How do we know that? Show me the polling data. The United States President responded to candle-light vigils in the streets of Tehran after September 11th, 2001 by naming them a member of the "Axis of Evil". We boosted the power of Iran by taking out their biggest boogyman in the region, Saddam Hussein. But that power did not go to the people, it is held by their government. The government that is now shooting at them. That's a really complicated situation over there, Mr. Salazar. Can we please let the professionals, or at least the ADULTS, articulate US Foreign Policy?

"The older generation was decimated during the ten year Iraq war…" - Decimated by WHAT WEAPONS sold to Iraq by WHAT COUNTRY?! Hello?! And yet the people of Iran whose parents were "decimated" by US weapons sold to Iraq are supposed to be 70% in our favor?! In what Michael Steele fantasy world are you living in? Oh, hey, nice picture on your website...

I want all of the violence to stop in Iran. I want the people of Iran to see that the United States is turning away from stupid statements that claim that we in the States have the authority to declare how their government should be designed and how it should function. I want them to believe that when they get through this period, they will have open arms waiting for an opportunity to help them build a positive future for themselves and their children as we move into the future together. That's foreign policy, Mr. Salazar. Not bravado statements that make me want to play "Pin the Brain on the Elephant."

Friday, June 19, 2009

A funny thing happened on the way to the Endorsement

The Primary Endorsement Meeting of the 46th District Democrats was held last night, and it was not what was expected or hoped for by a lot of people, including me. This is my perspective and memory of what happened, written the "morning after". It's not a historical record, but a record of what I can remember of my actions, my thoughts and my feelings. Being human, that's all I can do.

The meeting room was packed. Probably 175 people total, although I realize now that I never called for a credentials report. The way we do endorsement votes is with paper ballots, and only voting members and/or PCO's get those ballots so it's pretty secure. It would have been nice to have the number, though. The number of people in the room raised the pressure a bit, and the temperature didn't help. I want to thank Rep. Scott White, who was very familiar with the facility and took it upon himself to contact the custodian so we could get the air conditioning turned on. Thanks, Scott!

I went through the 'Chair's Report' quickly, highlighting the Mothers March for Health Care that both my son and I marched in on May 30th. I mentioned the upcoming Seattle Pride Parade and July 11th Summer Holiday Party. I also mentioned that our August meeting was going to be on the regular schedule of the 3rd Thursday at Olympic View Church instead of the Elementary School. This is because the school is closed in August and it would cost us about $150 more to use the School.

We approved the endorsement rules, which had been changed a bit since the January meeting where we considered and endorsed Sherill Huff for King County Elections Director. Before approval, I went over the changes and highlighted the specific rule on how to Suspend the rules for any particular race. I anticipated needing to use that, and I wanted to make sure that campaigns that would otherwise only be considered in September knew that they could, and should, request a suspension of the rules in order for us to consider their race that night.

The first race we considered was Seattle Mayor. Nominations went smoothly, with all the candidates speaking to a body eager to hear from them. The first vote was called, and sent to the Tally Committee. This was where I made my first mistake, and caused the cascade of mistakes that I worked for the rest of the night to wrestle with.

Our Endorsement Rules state that "No Endorsement" is always an option on the first ballot. I had forgotten that, and did not ask Kathryn to include the option on the screen at the front of the room. When the vote came back, someone had evidently remembered because there were 3 votes for "No Endorsement". But, because I had forgotten to include it on the first vote, I asked her to add it to the screen. Then my second mistake hit the fan. I allowed a vote for "No Endorsement" on the second ballot.

What this did, and because nobody had caught it and either challenged it or corrected me (Note to district, please keep an eye on what I'm doing and how I'm following the rules. If you see something odd or wrong, hesitation to speak out... causes problems. I depend on everyone in the body, not just the Eboard members or trained parliamentarians to keep the rules flowing so we can avoid mixups.), is it allowed 9 people to vote for "No Endorsement" instead of either Joe Mallahan or Greg Nickels on the second ballot.

The next step in the rules after the second vote was to consider a motion for a dual endorsement. Someone, and my memory tells me it was Jason Sawatzki, stated that the language of the rules don't specify which candidates need to be considered eligible for a dual endorsement, and that it was within the rules to consider a motion for a dual endorsement of Mallahan and Michael McGinn. That really threw me. I declared that the intention of the rules was to conduct the Second and Third ballots as a run-off election from the first ballot, but I did not specifically rule that this was the only way that I would consider a motion. I probably would have, but I was saved by John Webber who made a motion to dual endorse Mallahan and Nickels. Thank you, John!

We did the vote for the dual endorsement by show of hands, and it did not receive the required 2/3rds majority. Then things got stranger. There was a lot of people talking around the sign-in table, and one of them was Matthew. He raised his hand to be recognized, and said something about trying to raise a concern about moving on before we had taken the Dual Endorsement vote. His concern was about continuing on when a mistake had been made in the ballot process, and he thought that we should consider reconsidering our consideration of the second ballot. However, there were objections raised by some people about revisiting a consideration after the fact, and then someone mentioned that it was already 9pm. That also threw me. Time flies when you're having fun, I guess. Anyway, I kept us going. Which caused more problems.

See, what Matthew was trying to do is a Challenge of the Chair. He was trying to get the body to reconsider the vote, but he wasn't clear enough for me to recognize it, nor even recognize or remember when he had raised his hand. Was it before we started voting on the Second Ballot? Was it after those results had been known? I honestly did not know. I thought and considered (and yes, I'm using that word too much), and did what I thought was right. I told Matthew and Larry Smith to answer this question: "What does Roberts Rules say about when a Challenge of the Chair can be considered?" I had a copy of RRO and there were a few others floating around the room, including the copy in David McDonald's head. The answer was that Roberts was silent on when a challenge may be considered. So, I told Matthew to talk to both campaigns affected, and get their input and thoughts on whether they wanted the body to reconsider the second ballot. The answer came back that they did want it brought up again. Ok. We can do that.

I thought about it too long. A few more races went by while I was wrestling with all of this, and I got poked by a few people who were watching people leave because it was getting late. So at the next opportunity, I told everyone what I was thinking, that after the Primary Races were done I would sustain the challenge. This was to prevent any more people who really wanted to vote on the Mayor's race from leaving. I think this was about 9:45.

We finished all of the Primary races at 10:15. I asked Kathryn to bring the Mayor's race back up on the screen, and talked about what I had heard and what I wanted to do. The ruling that I had made, ok at least the way that I had thought about it at the time, was that the 9 people who had voted for "No Endorsement" would have split their vote and the 2/3rds requirement would not have been met. So my ruling was that the result was No Endorsement and that we needed to move on with the Agenda. I asked the body to tell me whether I was right to move on. And I was supported 52 - 29. But we had to take that vote.

Lessons learned. We need to adjust the language in the rules so that they are more specific about the intent of the run-off election and who is eligible for a dual endorsement. My feeling is that the two candidates considered on the second ballot should be the ones we can consider for a dual. Others might have a different view. We'll talk about it. Also, I need more practice at this. I guess you have to learn by doing, and I hope my decisions and actions are more understandable now that I've written all of this down. Please feel free to comment on either Blogspot or Facebook. I did my best, and did what I thought was the right thing to do.

I want to thank Scott White for giving me the advice to make a ruling that could be challenged. It helped me get my feet back under me. I want to thank David McDonald for his depth and breath of experience. I want to thank Joe Mallahan and Senator Jacobsen (supporting Greg Nickels) for being so willing to help me work through the process of reconsideration. And I want to thank the hecklers who made me think and rethink. It's not fun to be declared "a failure of leadership", but when you get nearly a standing ovation when I asked for forgiveness for being human, it really means something.

Finally, I want to thank the Conlin, Ginsberg, Carr and Holmes campaigns for getting together and deciding together that asking for a suspension of the rules for a consideration (there's that word again) of their race was beyond what the district could deal with at 10:30 at night. To thank them, I announced that we would consider those two races, and those two races ONLY, at our August meeting. I hope we'll see everyone there.

Chad Lupkes,
Chair, 46th District Democrats

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Re: Frustrated

Dear Maria,

I served in the US Navy from 1988 to 1994. While serving, I had good coverage. When I got out, I had none.

I opened a small business in Everett, Washington, and spent 3 years trying to figure out how to make it work. I had to get a job outside of my business so I could get coverage and pay the rest of my bills. My business failed because I couldn't put the time into it that I needed to.

In 1997, my wife at the time became pregnant with my son, and I scrambled to find a job while I was closing my business, and found one at Nordstrom. My son was born in March of 1998, fully covered. Then I left my job to move to Florida and moved back when my wife and I split up. I spent about a year working for Temp agencies with no coverage.

I was lucky. My current wife, whom I had just moved in with back at the end of 2000 asked me why I was working Temp with no benefits or coverage when there was a Nordstrom next door. I got another job with Nordstrom in 2001, and I've been here ever since. Why is this lucky? Because I was diagnosed with Cancer in May of 2003.

Without my health coverage through my employer, I would have been $50,000+ in debt, probably requiring us to sell our home and struggle for the rest of our careers. The way it played out, my coverage paid for just about everything, and I'm now healthy and active.

I'm most active trying to make sure that NOBODY lives under a cloud of fear like I did. Not everyone is as lucky. As appreciative of my insurance coverage as I am, I know not everyone can get it through private insurance. I would switch to a National Health Insurance Program in a heartbeat if it meant that my premiums would help pay for coverage for the 50 million people who are currently not covered. I personally believe that Single Payer is the only solution to the current mess. I would not object to having supplemental insurance available for people who can afford it, but the foundation needs to be a national system that provides basic and catastrophic coverage for everyone in this country. And any supplemental insurance must be provided by non-profit organizations. Nobody should EVER make themselves rich by denying health insurance claims. That is so wrong, it should be a Felony.

I hope you will listen to the feedback you get. And I hope that any feedback you get from people is posted publicly so that we can see the stories that you get and share with each other. Keeping messages in your office is not transparency.

Thanks for being willing to listen. And I hope that you will sign onto Senator Sanders bill, S.703.

Chad Lupkes

Share your own stories, ideas and thoughts with Senator Cantwell about the Health Care issue in the US here:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Re: This is why

Barack --

I supported your campaign after the Washington Caucuses because your supporters on February 9th, 2008 asked me. Your positions on the issues during the campaign were close enough to my own for me to feel comfortable with supporting you and voting for you.

However, your position on the Health Care debate is not where I would want. I want Single Payer. I don't want a Public Option to be the end-all and be-all of the debate. Single Payer. Supplementary insurance on top of Single Payer is ok, as long as it is non-profit, but START with Single Payer.

Your position on torture is ok, as in "we should stop". But I want George W. Bush and Richard Cheney in Federal Prison for the war crimes that they have committed, and you don't seem to agree.

I appreciated the need to create a government stimulus package, but I don't believe that what you did is going to be strong enough or big enough to really make a difference in time. The United States is slowing down in our slide towards the economic abyss, but we're still falling. Balance the budget this year. How? I want the top marginal tax rate restored to what it was under Jimmy Carter. 70% - 90%. You don't. You seem to believe that the super-rich are entitled to our national wealth. I don't.

You may be the best President in a generation. However, because the generation we are both part of seems to be the "gimme mine generation", you are not showing yourself to be the Progressive President that we need.

Good luck, and I'm going to fight as hard as I possibly can for what I believe in.

Chad Lupkes

Thursday, June 11, 2009

HR 676: The video series

Found this on YouTube

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Monday, June 08, 2009

Dear Senator Murray,

The only long term solution to the Health Care Crisis in the United States is for the Government to establish a single payer insurance system where everyone is in the same risk pool. You stated in your speech on May 30th that people should be able to keep their current health insurance if they wish. I have health insurance through my employer, and they helped me fight and beat cancer in 2003. As good as it is, I still believe that private, for-profit businesses should not be in the health insurance business. I don't want anyone making a profit based on denying claims.

A public option is a good first step, but it MUST NOT be considered a solution. The ONLY solution is Single Payer.

Thank you for your consideration of my views.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Chase Online Banking

I've been using an online service to track all of my accounts, and the move from WAMU to Chase has been really frustrating.

Transactions, especially POS transactions, remain in "pending" status for days. This makes it very difficult to accurately keep track of the account balances in any third party software.

I'm looking at local credit unions to see what they have to offer. Should have started there in the first place.

Friday, May 29, 2009

State Party Caucuses

I'm reading the minutes of the WSDCC Executive Board, and this caught my attention:

Page 5, Line 20:

20 O. Dwight Pelz disagrees with the resolution’s statement that caucuses

21 are a good way to get individuals involved. Outreach should take

22 place through the local parties. State Party organizations should be

23 helping with the governance of the Democratic Party in Washington

24 State.

I can see what he is saying, but in my experience it just doesn't work that way. People can get engaged by the party in several ways, including both candidates and issues. In my case, I walked in to see what it was like, and then spent 6 months fighting cancer. I came back with a vengeance, and the intention of pushing health care reform as hard and as far as I could. The 46th already had the right platform plank. Heck, the state party has the right platform plank, not that anyone with real power in Olympia or Washington DC cares.

And that's the problem. I read the platform, and I watch the news. Our elected officials don't seem to care about our platform, at least not after election day. We don't see most of them working specifically to enact our platform planks. And that means they either don't understand our positions on the issues when they are not in front of a microphone, or it doesn't matter to them and they just want to push their ideas. If any individual candidate comes out with the perfect solution to any problem, that's great! Let's get that solution into the platform.

So the only thing that issues-based activists can do is to organize. Which means building coalitions between legislative districts, and between counties. The ONLY place to do that is at the state party level. That's why I worked to put (and keep) the Progressive Caucus together, fighting as hard as I could over the last few years to make it mean something to people beyond the state committee members. There are plenty of health care advocacy organizations out there, and they're not all doing what they need to do which is to work within the party to help identify and elect candidates that will actually fix the problem. If they are invited to work within the party, they'll be so much more successful. But if all of their outreach efforts are limited to the local party organizations, they're sunk.

Just like our platform planks.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Edith Evangeline {Putnam} Brandon (1913-2009)

Edith Brandon crossed the veil at 7:05pm on Thursday, May 28th, 2009. I had gotten an email from my mother earlier in the day saying that she was taking a turn for the worse, and then another from my uncle saying that she was not expected to last the night.

Debi, Shea and I had just finished dinner, and we raised a toast to Grandma asking that her passage be peaceful. We also played one of my favorite songs for the toast:

i'm over on the other side
where life and death softly divide.
left my skin and bones behind
now i'm over on the other side.

can you feel me there with you?
my breath is gone but i'm not through.
loved you then and i still do
from over on the other side.

i can fly. really fly.
below the earth ... all through the sky.
tell em all i did not die.
i'm just over on the other side.

it's good here on the other side.
the sweetest songs...the bluest skies.
thank you for the tears you cried
but it's good here on the other side.

i can fly. really fly.
below the earth...all through the sky.
tell em all i did not die.
i'm just over on the other side

the world is smaller than a needle's eye.
where life and death softly divide.
when you leave your skin and bones behind
i'll be waiting on the other side.

i can fly. really fly.
below the earth ... all through the sky.
go tell em all i did not die.
i'm just over on the other side.

Don Conoscenti

If you've read all the way down to this, thank you. Please do listen to the song if you get a chance. The live version is not quite as good as the recorded version on his album Paradox of Grace, but it's a wonderful song in whatever form.

By the way, the song ended and we left the condo to head down to Kent at 7:05pm.

Touch magic, pass it on.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bankers in the Palace

"In days of yore, when investors were brave,

And journeyed from their bonds and savings,

Trusty men were called upon,

To speak of opportunities worth raving.

They helped themselves to fees and charges,

And drank from crystal chalice.

Oh, it was a stirring sight,

Those bankers in the palace.

And some things still haven't changed.  Hit us, boys!"

So, Chase sweeps to the rescue, under orders from the FDIC or whomever.  And over the last year they have slowly been digesting what they ate.  This morning, after being shut down all (holiday) weekend, they went live with all accounts on  So I went in to see how it was.  There are some changes, most of which I could get used to.  But then I went to my financial management software.

WAMU had opened up the protocol allowing people to access their accounts through Money or Quicken without any charges.  Chase, it seems, wants to charge me $9.95 per month for that.

They had a link to their full list of fees and charges.  Here it is.  Anyone else outraged?

Ok, I'll admit it.  I was spoiled by Washington Mutual.  But fundamentally, at least the way that I understand the way a bank works, the profits for a bank are the difference between the interest rates that they charge on loans and the interest that they pay on savings.  That's what a bank is supposed to do.  If they are charging fees, it's to discourage bad behavior and teach people how to handle their money responsibly.

What Chase, and I'm sure a lot of the other monopoly level banks, seem to want to do instead is charge fees instead of being smart about who they give their loans to.  If people can't pay back their loans, DON'T GIVE THEM THE LOANS.  Why is that difficult to understand?  Oh, but they're allowed to charge all these fees, and they can sell the loans on the open market...

I'm going to call them and try to make sense of whether they are going to charge me for accessing my accounts online through a third party.  If they do, I'm taking my banking elsewhere.  Anyone know of a good bank that isn't out to screw with their account holders?  Anyone?  Bueler?...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Trying again with a question from Thursday night

Thursday night was the candidate forum hosted by the 46th District Democrats. We worked hard on the questions that were asked, but this being my first time I hadn't thought of one question long enough or hard enough to really put it into the right words. I'm going to try again here.

Here is the original question, posed to the Seattle City Council candidates:

Tacoma has a free broadband network and Seattle has a large amount of unused fiber capacity belonging to private corporations. What are the pros and cons of sponsoring a similar free broadband network and would you support it?

First, Tacoma doesn't really have a "free broadband network". They have a high speed backbone running through the downtown that businesses can tap into and use. They did put $100 Million into a fiber-optic network that connects businesses and residential neighborhoods. Here's an article from August of 2000 about it and what people thought it might do to the economy in Tacoma at the time. So that was badly phrased.

What was most distubing to me was the answers that were given by the candidates for Position 6, including the incumbent, Nick Licata. Both Martin Kaplan and Jessie Israel talked about how it just wasn't feasible right now to do anything with high speed internet at the expense of the city, when our top priority should be economic growth.

... Excuse me?!

Ok, (I thought) maybe I'm missing something. I went to college to learn about technology and how it can spur economic growth. It's a no-brainer to me. Nick Licata mentioned that the council had looked at the issue, is looking at the issue, and might again look at the issue in the future. But it's not something that we can do right now, what with all the work it would take to place the lines and set everything up.

... Excuse me?!!!

In a discussion with Rusty Williams later, who had done a little bit of reading on the subject, he sent me this note:

As an IT major and a veteran of the dot com era, nobody knows better than I do the economic energy that it produced. One technological idea I have is to install a fiber optic network throughout the city. This network would be the uber-high speed conduit for deploying the City's digital media services. But the beauty would be in licensing this network to entrepreneurs who in turn would compete for our communications dollars resulting in better service, lower prices and better features. Imagine getting only the television channels you want. Or changing vendors when you are dissatisfied. We could see an end to the current oligopoly.

This is closer to the kind of answer I was looking for, but there was still something in the back of my mind bugging me. Tonight, I found it.

Dark Fiber: The region's fiber-optic networks remain largely unused

Seattle doesn't need to install anything. During the 1990's, like the Barenaked Ladies sing, "It's All Been Done". And it's still mostly dark. Meaning unused. Sleeping, like our economy right now.

So, what to do... How about a rephrasing of the question?:

When I was in college in 2002, I saw a report in the Puget Sound Business Journal on the tremendous amount of fiber optic cable under the streets of Seattle that had been installed in the 1990's but had since gone 'dark', meaning super high speed broadband capacity that was not being used. What can the city do to ignite the economic engines of our city by making use of this under-utilized resource?

Candidates, it's your move.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Single Payer talking points

The United States has the best medical technology in the world. That has never been in question. We're not talking about the technology.

The US has some of the best doctors in the world, who know the human body and mind better than anyone, and can do incredible things to repair from damage and disease. That has never been in question. We're not talking about the doctors, the nurses, or any of the other personnel associated with actually keeping us healthy.

The US has some of the most powerful corporations in the world. They have accumulated so much financial and political power that they, not the doctors or the patients, are the ones who make the choice whether the medical technology can be used by our doctors to help us recover from disaster. Whether we're talking about the insurance companies who would prefer not to pay or the pharma companies who would prefer to charge us more, these corporations are the enemy that we are trying to identify and eliminate.

We could cure almost any disease, if we could put all of our resources behind that goal. Right now, the corporations are putting all of their resources towards a different goal. Making more money.

Canada sends their people down here for the technology and the doctors. They don't send people down here to find the financing to pay for them. They take care of their citizens.

We should take care of ours.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Cap and Dividend

Dear Congressman McDermott,

I have been following the carbon tax debate, and I have been reading Peter Barnes from On the Commons. Rep. Peter Holt has introduced H.R. 1862, the Cap and Dividend Act of 2009. I would like to ask you to co-sponsor this bill, which I believe is moving in the right direction.

The purpose of the act is "to cap the emissions of greenhouse gases through a requirement to purchase carbon permits, to distribute the proceeds of such purchases to eligible individuals, and for other purposes."

The model used is already in place in Alaska, where profits from the sale of the oil fields are provided to the citizens of Alaska as an annual dividend. The system provides a higher state of living for the people of Alaska. I think we can use this model to provide a better quality of life to everyone in the US. You can learn more about the concept at the Cap and Dividend website.

I would like to know your thoughts on this bill, and whether you would be willing to sign on as a co-sponsor.

Chad Lupkes
Seattle, Washington

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Senator Baucus decides not to invite anyone who advocates for Single Payer to a committee hearing, and kicks out the members of PNHP who protest his decision.

Senator Schumer decides to introduce a public option that must follow all the same rules as any private plan.

One of my senators, Maria Cantwell, is a co-sponsor of a bill that sets a goal of having "affordable, guaranteed private health coverage that will make Americans healthier and can never be taken away."

Nice words. What do they mean? It means that people make money off the suffering of others.

National Health Care was first introduced in Congress in 1948 by Harry Truman. The Republican congress refused to allow it. So he pushed it into Europe and Japan. The EU is now a stronger economy than we are.

If a predator was living in our neighborhood, the community would be up in arms wanting the police to do something to protect our children. If a wild animal was on the loose we would be up in arms calling the police to do something to protect our children. But when a wild financial predator appears in our sights that has been feeding off our wallets and our children for 61 years, we turn our backs and say that it's just the way things are.

We don't need US Senators who try to calm the people by trimming the nails of the dragon.

We need someone to stand up and become a dragonslayer.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Seattle earthquake drill

Over the loudspeaker: "BEEEP: This is an Earthquake Drill. Please drop and cover. Music will play to simulate the earthquake itself. Please remember to move away from the outside walls of the building, and stay on your floor as the elevators and stairwells may be unsafe. Thank you for your participation in this drill."

Music: "I feel the earth .. move .. under my feet ..."

Only in Seattle. :)

Monday, April 06, 2009

Rediscovering God

Those of us who have transcended mythical belief systems know without any doubt that there is no God up in the sky. But when we awaken to what I call the evolutionary impulse—the mysterious passion to evolve, to become, to develop on every level—we rediscover who God is. When we begin to experience the aspiration to evolve as that unique ecstatic compulsion in our own heart and mind, that's when the God who fell out of the sky is awakening within ourselves, as the urge to take the next step.

Fourteen billion years ago, there was nothing. Then, suddenly, there was an enormous explosion—an explosion that never stopped and is still reverberating here and now. So what I'm describing is a perspective and a state of consciousness in which the very first cause is waking up to itself as we wake up to our own impulse to evolve. That's Evolutionary Enlightenment: when the spark that initiated fourteen billion years of development becomes conscious of itself. When you realize this and recognize this at the deepest level of your being, and then choose to take responsibility for it, it is then that you know without any doubt that it's up to you to make this world a better place. It's up to you. In that realization, you discover a reason for living, which is spiritually empowering. It is where you will find dignity, self-respect, ultimate meaning, and purposefulness.

Andrew Cohen

Monday, March 23, 2009

Frustrating weekend

On Friday, I read an article about the Port of Seattle again delaying the purchase of the Eastside Rail corridor. Because they didn't think it was a good time to go begging to Wall Street for $107 Million. Because there were not 107 millionaires willing to buy the bonds, because they're all trying to find secure places for their money. Rich people are stupid. Hello, Tay! Over here!!! Instead of looking for 107 rich silver spoons, how about asking if King County has a million people who would be willing to buy a bond for $107? We've already expressed interest in helping, you just need to make the municipal bonds available at denominations we can afford! Unthinkable?

Next was all of the hype about how unfair it is to tax AIG bonuses at 90%. Because it's targeting just those people. The Republicans are right, that is unfair. So let's make it fair. Let's tax EVERYONE who makes more than $3.5 million a year at 90% for every dollar earned above $3,500,000. Would that make it fair?

And then this article in the Boston Globe about millionaire audits taking a dive in 2008. What, you thought they would increase in an election year?

Frustrating weekend, news-wise. But, I got to speak to my sons twice! That's the kind of bonus I like.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Letter to Verdeim Software

Re: Edison PC Power Management Software

I installed Edison a few weeks ago, and found that I actually didn't need it, although thank you for helping me find the Power Options through the Control Panel.

I uninstalled the Edison software from Add/Remove programs, but it refuses to go away. I can go into the Power Controls and delete the Edison Power scheme, but when I reboot the computer, it reappears.

This is a problem because I am unable to control my computers power use at all now. When I walk away from the system for more than 10 minutes, it goes into a Stand By mode where the CD-Rom light, Hard Drive light and power light are continuously on, and I an unable to wake up the system through the keyboard or the mouse. I have to hold the power button down for about 6 seconds, and do a hard reset of my system, which causes me to lose anything that I am working on.

So, uninstalling did not work. The other option is to go into the Registry and clean it up so that the Edison power scheme stops reappearing in the Power Option Properties. Can I get help finding that in the Registry and getting rid of this problem once and for all?

Note to anyone reading. I don't recommend Edison PC Power Management. Just take control of how your system works through Power Options via the Control Panel.

Monday, February 16, 2009

About expanding Convention Place Station

I sat in a meeting of the House Committee on Community & Economic Development & Trade, and heard my own Rep. Scott White testifying about a bill he is sponsoring seeking to allow the construction of an expansion of the Washington State Convention and Trade Center on top of the transit center at Convention Place Station. Along with Rep. White, the CEO of the Trade center, a representative from the City of Seattle, and a union representative spoke in favor of the bill. I heard from the CEO that this project would employ 3,000 people during the construction, with further gains in long term employment thanks to the jobs created by the expanded convention center. There was another project mentioned that I wanted to look up, a hotel at the location of the Greyhound building downtown. Another potential 3,000 jobs plus long term employment for the hotel staff.

The Seattle Times wrote about the expansion project here:

The article says that it might compete with financing for a potential expansion of Key Arena. It will be interesting to see which of these projects gets the most attention.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

On Sir Edmund Burke

A mailing list post got me searching for information about a State Income Tax, and I found that Senator Franklin has introduced SB 5104, creating an Income Tax. Of course, I found this through the conservative bill tracking service,

And I got into it with some of the posters who were whining about spending, etc. Same argument as ever. Until I saw this comment from "glhadley":

What we really need are term limits and a restriction on voting to those who actually pay more taxes than they game the system for. If we could remove from the voting rolls, those who are simply voting for people who promise the most, we could really have a non-self-destructive society.

My answer was that he sounded like Edmund Burke:

The occupation of a hair-dresser, or of a working tallow-
chandler, cannot be a matter of honour to any person —
to say nothing of a number of other more servile em-
ployments. Such descriptions of men ought not to
suffer oppression from the state ; but the state suffers
oppression, if such as they, either individually or collec-
tively, are permitted to rule.

I found this quote on, and it got me reading a bit more. Burke goes onto quote Ecclesiasticus, Chapter 38, which I think he completely misunderstood. It talks about honoring labor, and that in spite of the fact that people who do hard work are rarely consulted in political matters 2,000+ years ago, they "they will maintain the state of the world, and all their desire is in the work of their craft."

Burke thought that the ancients were saying that the workers "should not" be consulted in politics. I read the passage as cynical lore, saying that even if they are not consulted, they maintain the foundations of our lives, and should be honored for it.

What do you think?