Posted by: sweeneyblog | June 14, 2013

Friday’s Odds and Ends: Bush Years Time Warp

Hello Loyal Readers,

Usually, I jump right into my gathered news bits, however, first I want to share a little bit about why these past couple of weeks have been so difficult.

I’m having Bush flashbacks. 

That's me in the top left as part of a student panel on the Iraq War.

That’s me in the top left as part of a student panel on the Iraq War.

In 2000, I was just beginning to become aware of the political world, but it wasn’t until 2002 that I really started paying attention. For those of you doing the math, yes, I was in high school, and as our nation hurtled toward war with a country that had done nothing to us, I was outraged. Furious. How could we elect people so foolish, so terrible and bloody that they would stampede the country to war?

That is when I became involved. I went to protests, I read the newspaper every day, I learned about Senate confirmations and met my state legislators. It took me a few more years to decide I wanted to be a professional campaign manager (and four years in the job to decide I didn’t want to do it anymore,) but Bush’s invasion of Iraq was the spark to my flame.

So when I read about Obama expanding Bush’s NSA wiretapping surveillance program, while Syria is using chemical weapons and the Justice Department is following around reporters stamping out our leaks, I felt the cold icy hand of cynicism grip my heart.  I want to believe that you can work hard and elect people who will hold true to their values and make meaningful improvements in our government, but it is much harder when today looks so similar to ten years ago.

On to the Odds and Ends. 

Once again, the County lost in court, with the Growth Management Hearings Board once again ordering Whatcom County to comply with the Growth Management Act. I wish it didn’t take so much time and money from private citizens to force the county to do its job, but it looks like they are going to waste even more taxpayers money on this. We have already spent over $100,000 on a Seattle-based legal team that keeps losing in court, yet the County Council is considering paying them another $40,000 to keep fighting a law that was settled twenty years ago. If you are just tuning into this fight, check out my simple explanation of the Growth Management Act and why Whatcom is doing this here.

County Republicans

County Republicans

Last Saturday, I attended the Whatcom County Republicans meeting because a wide selection of candidates were giving speeches. Last time I attended was two years ago, when Bill Elfo was scheduled to speak about the jail. I showed up for all of ten minutes before Sam Crawford saw me and ran over to Luanne Van Werven to get her to kick me out. Van Werven informed me that Elfo would speak first and I needed to leave as soon as he was done.

This year, they let me stick around. The speeches were short and they did not allow any questions from the audience. It was largely uneventful with most candidates just rehashing the same material that is on their website or at the Dems endorsement meeting. I was mainly struck by how calm and orderly the process was compared to the raucous Democratic endorsement process.

That said, this was not an endorsement meeting. After their speeches, candidates could request a survey from the endorsement chair, Bruce Ayers. If they completed the written survey and it was to their liking, Ayers would schedule an interview where the candidates meet with a select handful of Republicans. After that, the committee will make a recommendation to the PCOs at the Republican picnic in July and the PCOs vote at the picnic. It is quite a contrast from the open air, all members can vote style endorsement process of the Dems.

Finally, I attended Renata Kowalczyk’s kickoff and was impressed by the wide spread of attendees. Her message was an interesting blend of business savvy (she is a business consultant, after all) and her ideas for the port. She made an interesting contrast to my interview with Ken Bell – which should go live this weekend.



  1. I question your use of the word wiretapping when there was none reported. Gathering metadata (a whole lot of phone numbers) and using logarithms to find connections between those raw phone numbers (no names or addresses) to help build a case against the people involved in the Boston Marathon bombing IS NOT WIRETAPPING.

    I also challenge your use of the word expand when the President in no way engaged in warrantless wiretapping of phone lines and opening people’s mail as happened in the Bush administration. Presidential powers were significantly reduced when Bush got caught issuing wiretaps w/o warrants, which is why FISC exists today. The current Justice Department is using the law within the limits of that law.

    • . . . the fact that it is within the law is what is so troubling.

      As for the metadata, I find that even more troublesome than listening in on your phonecalls. Listening in implies that there is a human reviewing this and making the decision, combing through metadata can flag thousands of innocent people as being suspicious. Yes, I will concede that now there is judicial review for this program, but I still find it deeply troubling.

      • Are you willing to back off the use of the word wiretapping?

        As for the word ‘expand’ this from March 2008 (under Bush):

        Then this from April 2009:

        The Justice Department under President Obama sought to contract those powers and bring them in line with what is legal.

        That you find what is legal troubling is fine, but the President doesn’t make the laws, he enforces them. You want this to not be legal, take it up with Congress.

      • Oh I definitely will, and yes, I’m editing the article to remove the word “wiretapping”.

  2. Did you see the midnight agreement Ericksen and I made on MTCA – peace in the valley!

    sent from kevin’s iphone

    • I did! It is scheduled for tomorrow (hopefully). Thank you!

    • Don’t tell me, let me guess.
      You gave him your per diem and a $10 six pack of Hales Ale.

  3. Why would they kick anyone out of a County Republican’s meeting?
    That’s kinda creepy.
    I can see excluding GOP candidates that don’t fit the Van Werven mould,
    but an interested and intelligent observer with a yen to understand?
    I think I just answered my own question.

  4. The FISA judges approving wiretaps is pretty much the same as warrantless wiretaps. They never refuse the government’s request

    Riley should be troubled, This rogue administration is also privy to all e-mails, instant messages, texts, tweets, facebook pages, internet searches and blogs without subscriptions.

    Give me my privacy back. Give me the Fourth Amendment back. The President should have vetoed the act that gave him the power to detain and or kill any US citizen without a court approving. I would rather have no Homeland Security than what we have now. It was Federal Government pressure that killed Occupy. TPP is on the horizon. At the pace we are going, we will be an East Germany in 20 years.

    3000 Americans get killed on 9/11. So, we spend a trillion plus dollars on two stupid wars which have cost hundreds of thousands of deaths and displacements mostly among civilians and we have become the most hated nation on the planet. We have created far more terrorists than we have killed.

    3000 Americans get killed which makes us sacrifice liberty for security.
    30,000 Americans get killed by guns and we can’t even get universal background checks. When our we the people going to Rise Up again and take our government back from the special interests. Congress has a 10% approval rating, yet 90% of incumbents get reelected. America is broken because the system is fixed.

  5. Mr Burr,
    You continue to impress me with your astute observations! THANK YOU.

    @Tien Le, you (Riley would be interested too) should read this article that compares the Bush v. Obama admins…

  6. From the above referenced article that should give every democrat pause to consider the actions of this administration:

    “[here is what] Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez said after Congress on Wednesday was given a classified briefing by NSA officials on the agency’s previously secret surveillance activities:

    “What we learned in there is significantly more than what is out in the media today. . . . I can’t speak to what we learned in there, and I don’t know if there are other leaks, if there’s more information somewhere, if somebody else is going to step up, but I will tell you that I believe it’s the tip of the iceberg . . . . I think it’s just broader than most people even realize, and I think that’s, in one way, what astounded most of us, too.””

  7. Hey Riley, looks like you can put the term “wiretapping” back…oh and without a warrant…

    “The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls.
    Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed this week that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed “simply based on an analyst deciding that.”
    If the NSA wants “to listen to the phone,” an analyst’s decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. “I was rather startled,” said Nadler, an attorney and congressman who serves on the House Judiciary committee.”

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