Sunday, October 23, 2005

Family Feud and Other Observation

Dysfunctional King County Politics

The revelations this last week concerning the David Irons family crazy dysfunctionality and how it should relate to the qualifications of David Irons to become the King County Executive border on the bizarre. Local blogger David Goldstein of Horsesass.org broke the story this last week with the MSM picking it up and running with it through the weekend.

Although I believe that Ron Sims is better qualified I now worry that the revelations into the wacky snake pit that is the Iron’s family feud will be perceived as the ultimate dirty trick by Sims against Irons rather then good investigative blogging by Goldstein. Sims categorically denies that he had anything to do with the story. Goldstien vehemently denies any connection to the Sim’s campaign for the genesis of the story. Goldstien an unabashed liberal democrat insists he felt it was important that the story be told to inform the voters about possible character flaws of candidate Irons and only that.

Irons response to the revelations has been to paint the family members who oppose him or made accusations about his character as cracked and/or politically motivated acting on the direct orders of Sims.

Who will the voters believe? I fear it may be Irons. The story, which paints Irons as an unstable dishonest person with anger management problems is rather bizzare. But it is also a classic he said she said tale. It is also so bizarre that it plays I suspect rather like a bad episode of Jerry Springer in the mind of the average voter. I'm more afraid that it may be perceived more as a campaign dirty trick engineered by the Sims campaign then what Goldstien intended it to be. If this is true it could end up costing Sims the election. Then we will be stuck with real horse’s ass of a County Executive.

Sims main problems were the Critical Areas Ordinance and the Green Party Candidate Gentry Lange. The CAO is widely perceived in urban King County as a land grab. or worse, by liberal county egg heads. Rural county voters see the ordinance as environmental overreaching by the Sims administration and a general loss of freedom to do what they please with their property. Whether is it or not, that is the perception. Sims has not done a good job of defending the reasons for the ordinance to rural voters and it has worked as a rally point for the opposition.

Gentry Lange as the Green Party candidate is taking votes away that would normally be going to Sims. A sort of “Ralph Nader” effect within the county that may end up giving Irons the margin he needs to win the election. The race seems to be neck and neck at this time with Irons slightly ahead and Gentry pulling from 5% to 7% or the vote. Sims will need to overcome these problems prior to election day if he is to remain County Executive.

What may history say?

The constant bickering and spin control by politicians and pundits on the issues of the day often can make it impossible to see the deeper issue or any true perspective on the question of how history may view our current situation when it is review at some time in the future.

I think that the historians will write is that the administration of George W. Bush and his white house cabal completely changed the dynamic of American foreign policy that had existed, for the most part, since before World War II. It did this when it decided it should start a preemptive war in Iraq. Its foreign policy approach in general became adversarial rather then defensive or diplomatic, the old policy being perceived as a weakness by the administration neo-cons. Gore Vidal refers to this policy as sort of America’s in the face of every country in the world, which they, including our traditional allies, consider insulting.

The administration then engaged in strategy of selling the justification for the war to the American public, or at least to congress, and especially democrats in congress, who needed to vote to support it. It successfully did this without sufficient debate on the merits of going to war on such grounds because the mood of the country in the shadow of 9/11 put democrats in the peculiar position of seeming unpatriotic if they opposed it. This neutered democratic criticism of the war during the 2004 presidential election and continues to haunt them to this day. Even now when it is widely understood that the argument made by the administration to support the war were false or at the very least greatly flawed.

Twinkie defense?

Republican Senator Kay Bailey-Hutchinson today on Meet the Press pooh-poohed any indictments that may be forthcoming from the CIA leak investigation if the charges are based on perjury or conspiracy only rather then the act of being involved in the leak itself. Both charges are felonies. This appears to be the tact that the Republicans will most likely pursue since it is widely suspected that the special prosecutor will in fact find violations of the law based on lying to grand jury or a conspiracy. At one point Bailey Hutchinson compared the case to that of Martha Stewart who was convicted of perjury. Stewart was convicted of lying about her insider trading rather then the trading itself. Bailey-Hutchinson comparison is a considerable reach since Stewart’s perjury didn’t eventually lead to American reasons to go to war in Iraq.

MR. RUSSERT: Based what's in the public domain from Judith Miller when she wrote in The New York Times and others have said publicly, do you believe that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby discussed Joseph Wilson's trip and his wife's employment at the CIA?

SEN. ALLEN: I don't know. I know that's rare from a politician. I don't know. I've been more focused on Harriet Miers' qualifications and reducing energy prices and others, and I'll leave this to the prosecution and by the way, again, due process rather than a lot of speculation on what actually is known or not said in testimony in a very closed grand jury proceeding.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Hutchison, you think those comments from the White House are credible?

SEN. HUTCHISON: Tim, you know, I think we have to remember something here. An indictment of any kind is not a guilty verdict, and I do think we have in this country the right to go to court and have due process and be innocent until proven guilty. And secondly, I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. So they go to something that trips someone up because they said something in the first grand jury and then maybe they found new information or they forgot something and they tried to correct that in a second grand jury.

I think we should be very careful here, especially as we are dealing with something very public and people's lives in the public arena. I do not think we should prejudge. I think it is unfair to drag people through the newspapers week after week after week, and let's just see what the charges are. Let's tone down the rhetoric and let's make sure that if there are indictments that we don't prejudge.

MR. RUSSERT: But the fact is perjury or obstruction of justice is a very serious crime and Republicans certainly thought so when charges were placed against Bill Clinton before the United States Senate. Senator Hutchison.

SEN. HUTCHISON: Well, there were charges against Bill Clinton besides perjury and obstruction of justice. And I'm not saying that those are not crimes. They are. But I also think that we are seeing in the judicial process--and look at Martha Stewart, for instance, where they couldn't find a crime and they indict on something that she said about something that wasn't a crime. I think that it is important, of course, that we have a perjury and an obstruction of justice crime, but I also think we are seeing grand juries and U.S. attorneys and district attorneys that go for technicalities, sort of a gotcha mentality in this country. And I think we have to weigh both sides of this issue very carefully and not just jump to conclusions, because someone is in the public arena, that they are guilty without being able to put their case forward. I really object to that.
She continued to use the term “technicalities” when referring to possible finding of lying or conspiracy. A sort of speak understood by her legally challenged supporters in Texas apparently. Being found guilty of a technicality rather then the substance of a charge is a common conservative complaint about the judicial system. Though it didn’t seem to mean that much when it was the technicalities on which the Republicans based their case to impeach Bill Clinton.

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