Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's presidential bid has galvanized moon-colony aficianados, third-wife's-the-charm sympathizers and, of course, skeptics of all-things-food stamps. Now Gingrich's candidacy is breathing life into Washington's presidential caucuses, a quadrennial process that often mimics the effects of Ambien. As the News Tribune's Peter Callaghan writes, "is success has increased the chances that Washington’s GOP caucuses set for Saturday, March 3, might actually be important. If the nomination is still up for grabs, the remaining candidates may want to contest the first West Coast state and a state with a significant number of delegates (43)."
The curious aspect of the Washington caucuses is the capacity of outlier candidates to mobilize supporters and upset the status quo (think Pat Robertson and Jesse Jackson in 1988.) However, there are other examples when an insurgent candidate gets knocked out after the usual non-caucus goers elect to participate. (Think John Kerry over Howard Dean in 2004.) It makes for an invigorated, if volatile political climate. "If the candidates are still fighting over every delegate, they might actually campaign here and not just use the state as a fund-raising cash machine. Three candidates have full-time coordinators in the state – Romney, Gingrich and Ron Paul," Callaghan writes.
An Oregon lens may be the best way to view Washington's death penalty debate. On Wednesday, state Sen. Debbie Regala introduced a bill to abolish the death penalty and replace it with life in prison. As the Oregonian's Justin Runquist writes, "If the bill passes, Washington will follow in the steps of its neighbor to the south. Gov. John Kitzhaber recently put a moratorium on the death penalty in Oregon."
As Runquist notes, "Though the hearing had a high turnout, not a single person signed up to speak against Regala's bill." So, why do Olympia watchers presuppose that the abolish campaign is dead on arrival? Because of a lack of Republican support, the House Judiciary Committee may not even schedule a hearing for the companion bill, sponsored by Rep. Reuven Carlyle. In addition, while support numbers have steadily dropped, a majority of Washington residents are still okay with capital punishment. Isn't the death penalty a human rights question on par or even more compelling than marriage equality?
The sparks are already flying in the 1st district primary battle. The insult du jour is "New Democrat." (code for moderate. Egads!) As the Seattle Times' Jim Brunner writes, "A blogger at the liberal site Daily Kos, a supporter of Darcy Burner, is hitting rival Democrat Suzan DelBene as a self financed millionaire New Democrat."
The new 1st congressionial district is evenly split, in practice favoring a moderate Democrat or Republican. So isn't "New Democrat" a supportive moniker? As Brunner writes, "The New Democrat Coalition is already well-stocked with representatives from the Washington delegation. Reps. Jay Inslee, Adam Smith and Rick Larsen are all members."
There are no atheist white-knuckle flyers on a landing 737. So why the hell/heaven do away with prayer cards? Alaska Airlines has decided to end the 30-year practice in part because of complaints over mixing travel and religion. Since 2006, the cards have only been handed out to the soul-deserving one-percenters seated in first class. As the Seattle Times' Melissa Allison writes, "Alaska Airlines' prayer cards always offended Gordon Bowker, not because the Seattle businessman cared what religion they represented, but because they suggested in-flight prayer was a good idea."
Bowker is wrong, at least from the perspective of those non-Xanax-quaffing white knucklers. In-flight prayer is always a good idea.
Of course there's booze available for travelers afraid to fly. And for those concened about the effects of coffee, there's booze to counterbalance the caffeine. Therefore, as airlines and taverns go, so goes Starbucks. As Reuters reports, "The world's biggest coffee chain plans to sell beer and wine in as many as 12 cafes in Atlanta and Southern California by the end of the year, as it expands beyond its well-known coffee."
The News Tribune,"Gingrich's gift to state: Caucuses relevant"