torvalds

Linus Torvalds

Former Vice President Al Gore’s visit to Portland today and tomorrow has prompted some Nobel Peace Prize thoughts, and in Oregon the idea of nominating a Northwesterner. The prospect shot around the Portland-area Linux circles (drawing some debate as well as approval as it did), starting with this email from Keith Lofstrom:

Since the Nobel Peace Prize is often given to politicians, some disagree with the choices. But it is often given to non-politicians who create international efforts to change the world for the better.

Look at the massive international efforts represented by SC09, and realize that much of it started from the work of a 21[-year-old] Finnish college student named after 1962 Nobel Peace Prize winner Linus Pauling. It would be fitting to honor that international effort by giving a Peace Prize to Linus Torvalds, perhaps in 2011 on the 20th anniversary of the August 1991 Linux announcement, or in 2012 on the 50th anniversary of Pauling’s award.

Linux is one of the largest cooperative international efforts ever undertaken. It inspired Ubuntu, One Laptop Per Child, and many other global projects. Linux conquered the supercomputer space, the server space, the embedded computer space – by peaceful means! Linux helped sequence the human genome, helps protect the world computer infrastructure from viral attack, and is now the pathway for millions to learn computer programming and participate in new international efforts.

The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize recipient (a politician some disagree with, please disagree in a different thread, thanks) is giving the keynote to SC09 as I write this. Meaning that we are all three handshakes away from the people that decide on future Peace Prizes. Perhaps it is time to launch some messages through our connections and see what makes it to the committee meetings in Oslo.

According to the list on Wikipedia, the five people to convince are Thorbjørn Jagland (chair), Kaci Kullmann Five (deputy chair), Sissel Rønbeck, Inger-Marie Ytterhorn, and Ågot Valle. We can start by sending them Norsk language Ubuntu disks.

While I imagine Linus Torvalds would be embarrassed by the attention, it would sure make his parents happy. And it would mean one less Peace Prize for a politician.

That list of Linux-related or -inspired developments is only partial. Here in the Northwest, for example, we could add the Free Geek operations in Portland, which do a lot of good for not only the low-income people and non-profit groups they are specifically aimed to help, but also almost everyone who comes into contact with them. The effects though have been world-wide, and are accelerating. And could grow faster with a little more attention.

Probably not a lot of Northwest people outside the Linux community know about Torvalds, or that he lives in the Portland area, or that this is one of the true open-source centers around the globe.

This would be a dramatic way to find out.

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Oregon

The Pasco City Council has approved a new medical clinic in town – not one, it should be noted up front, that offers abortions. It has been the subject of demonstrations and protests, though, because it will be run by Planned Parenthood.

There’s an overview in this post at McCranium, which also has a link to a Tri-City Herald story.

There’ll be more on this.

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Washington

whitopia

A book we’re going to track down and check out: From a black scholar writing about race relations in a different way, “Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America.”

Usually, we’d wait to read it before writing about it here, but this is an unusual case – its existence says something notable. Rich Benjamin, a senior fellow at Demos, a New York think tank, took note that in many metro areas around the country are becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, but that some fast-growers have been moving the other way, from (say) off-white to more white. The statistical cutoff was places more white than the country overall, growing at least 6% since 2000 and the bulk (at least 90%) or newcomers being white. White places, in other words, getting white – or maybe, destination spots for white flight?

The Coeur d’Alene Press has a piece on this because Coeur d’Alene was one of the handful of places around the country Benjamin focused on. (The next nearest was St. George, Utah. Both are excellent choices for what he was working on.)

The Press reports, “Benjamin spent four months in 2007 living in a rented split-level cabin on Hayden Lake. He hosted dinner parties, fished, bowled and played golf. . . . While in North Idaho, he attended his first demolition derby at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds, and at the Bonner County Fair and Rodeo, he ate bratwurst, admired 4-H entries and perused farm equipment. Benjamin had a coffee date with Coeur d’Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem at Java on Sherman, and spent time with a plethora of other influential Panhandle folk, from Alice Rankin, the wife of former Kootenai County Commissioner Ron Rankin, who passed away in 2004, to attorney Norm Gissel. He hung out with a group of retired Los Angeles police officers, and attended a three-day white separatist conference at a church in Sandpoint.”

This is going to be a must-read.

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Idaho

An excellent Seattle Times report details where the Vancouver Olympics tickets, which are supposed to number about 1.6 million, actually are slated to go. About a third go in-house, to the “Olympic family,” and of the rest just 35,000 originally were slated to be available to the general United States public (though that might be boosted to 90,000 because of an internal transfer).

Beyond that, the Times noted in its story outline: “Vancouver’s Olympic organizers promised an affordable, fan-friendly Games. But tickets available to the public are often out of reach, bundled into packages costing far beyond face value.”

None of which should be surprising, but it isn’t often spelled out so clearly.

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Washington

McCall

Tom McCall

In our nation’s history, just one president, Grover Cleveland, got elected to the job in two separate runs, with someone else (Benjamin Harrison) serving in between. It’s an uncommon thing for governors, too, a point somewhat relevant now since a former Oregon governor, Democrat John Kitzhaber, is running in next year’s elections for the office he left about seven years ago, after serving two terms.

Oregon has never had such a case. Washington has elected the same person as governor in two separate runs just once: Arthur Langlie (also, oddly, the only mayor of Seattle to go on to be governor). Langlie, a Republican, was first elected governor in 1940 in a close and hotly-disputed election (in that year, it was Democratic legislative leaders who threatened not to allow the new Republican governor to be seated). He lost his run for re-election in 1944 (running hard against the Roosevelt Administration in wartime). But the Democrat who beat him, Mon Wallgren, turned out not to be much of an administrator, and Langlie went on to win in more favorable political climates in 1948 and 1952, becoming Washington’s first three-term governor.

In Idaho, Cecil Andrus was elected governor in 1970 and 1974, resigned mid-term to become secretary of the Interior, then ran again and won the governorship in 1986 and 1990. Idahoans probably most clearly remember Andrus’ 1974 and 1990 wins, which were landslides; but his 1970 and 1986 victories were narrow, and not until late election night in 1986 was it clear Andrus had actually won. A campaigning natural who had swept to re-election the last time on the ballot and was widely expected to win easily in 1986, Andrus almost didn’t.

Oregon never has had a three-term governor, nor a governor elected to two non-consecutive terms. It does have one historical case worth examining in the Kitzhaber context, though: That one of one of the state’s best-known and even legendary governors, Tom McCall. Kitzhaber and McCall have this in common: Both were elected governor in strong wins to two consecutive terms, and then later – four years later in McCall’s case, eight in Kitzhaber’s – sought to regain the job.

McCall, legendary (even then) and popular as he was, and despite initial expectations that he would succeed easily, failed – failed in fact to win his own party’s primary election. (There’s been some speculation that if he’d managed that, he might still have won the general.)

What lessons might be drawn from McCall’s 1978 campaign? Might any of them apply to Kitzhaber?

The short answer seems to be: Significant differences, and some possible similarities that might or might not emerge as the campaign progresses.

McCall was a larger than life figure – the subject of strong impressions, not all positive. He may be best known now as the key instigator of much of the state’s strong land use and environmental planning, and that was an important part of his story then too, but the whole picture was more complex. He gets described now as a “liberal Republican,” but that over-simplifies: He was more business-oriented than many people remember, and it doesn’t square easily with his support of the conflict in Vietnam.

A fine detailed biography of McCall, Fire at Eden’s Gate (by Brent Walth, now at the Oregonian), puts these uneasy pieces into focus. And it includes a solid description of why McCall, so popular in the 1966 and 1970 races for governor, lost the nomination in 1978. (Not all but much of what follows comes from Walth’s report.) If you’re thinking: The party was moving to the right, you’re mostly wrong – that shift in general was yet to come.

The governor then was Democrat Bob Straub (who McCall had earlier defeated for the job), and he had the misfortune of presiding during an economic downtown; Oregon’s economy had done better during McCall’s years as governor. Two Republicans got into the race early, state Senator Vic Atiyeh and state Representative Roger Martin, both caucus leaders and both to McCall’s philosophical right. When McCall announced in February, just three months remained to the primary, and both polls and “conventional wisdom had McCall as the winner . . .”

But even before he announced, some of his old top aides saw problems, advised him not to run again, and declined to campaign with him. McCall was well-known, and may have thought his history would deliver the organization and money he needed. Instead, declining until it was too late to work hard on either, he was outgunned in both areas by his opposition. A thin air of entitlement also began to waft over the proceedings; some people may have been turned off. He was never able, either, to very clearly describe why he wanted his third term – or rather, why the voters should give it to him. (Evidently, he just really loved doing the job; but by itself that’s not an adequate hiring rationale.)

Walth also notes, “What McCall also lacked – and what he had always needed – was someone to impose discipline . . . As a result, as McCall campaigned, his message veered erratically, and he acted at times as if he were trying to ruin his own chances.”

McCall was by profession a journalist, and he loved to talk and often was candid to a fault, but he did have some secrets. In March, in an interview, McCall unleashed a batch of them, about money and about lobbying deals, that he’d been carrying around for a while. None of them were horrible, but they shadowed what had been a very clean reputation. He was also taken down a bit by participating in debates with his opponents, putting them visibly on the salem level.

As governor, McCall had managed the trick of being pro-business and an environmental leader; he saw the two as in harmony. Now, in this season of economic trouble, both sides were used against him. The other Republicans (chiefly Martin) accused McCall of being anti-business through his planning efforts. Meanwhile, an environmental community which now took general planning for granted and had more ambitious goals thought of McCall as yesterday’s news, no longer willing to lead the charge where they wanted to go. He wound up losing support in both directions.

And there was another factor, one McCall alluded to at his announcement: “The legend always grows bigger than the guy ever was.” In person, now, years later, McCall seemed older, more tired, crankier.

Atiyeh, who would go on to two terms as governor, got 46% of the primary vote to McCall’s 33%.

How does any of this relate to Kitzhaber?

In a number of ways, Kitzhaber has been bypassing McCall’s problems. Rather than enter the race late, he entered relatively early – even now, he has been campaigning, fundraising and organizing for months. He cannot be accused of taking re-election for granted. He also seems to be a much more disciplined candidate than McCall was; messaging from the Kitzhaber campaign so far has an air of precision.

He has been widely viewed as the front runner, but since his announcement the in-party challenges have in some ways picked up rather than diminished. (Former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury has been running a highly active and even aggressive campaign.) That could cut either way.

Kitzhaber, strong campaigner though he is, is not quite the legendary-level figure that McCall was. That might be an advantage. Memories of Kitzhaber’s two terms are not quite so brightly-colored as were those of McCall’s, and some fresh definition may still be possible. Kitzhaber started this new race as popular, and there is this similarity in dynamic: He can win next year if his numbers don’t drop. Whether they will is harder to foretell.

Kitzhaber hasn’t yet made clear (there have only been some inexact stabs at) his rationale for a third term, what he would do it with it that he didn’t do with his first two. This was a logical point of attack for McCall’s opposition, and it will be for Kitzhaber’s too, unless he comes up with a way to more solidly address it.

In all, Kitzhaber doesn’t seem to be treading the same road McCall did. But the comparisons will be worth keeping in mind as this thing unfolds.

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Oregon

For the true polisci junkies, a couple of posts with precinct maps – of how the elections went in Boise and Spokane.

In Spokane, Jim Camden’s Spin Control blog contains a series of maps from the last Spokane elections – tracing voter turnout, population, fire bond results and so on. Nothing especially unexpected here, but the watchful will find some of the precinct results of interest.

In Boise, Nathaniel Hoffman of Boise Weekly pulled together a series of maps showing who won the council races by precinct. They are, again, not surprising – the incumbents and incumbent-aligned T.J. Thomson won Boise to the north and east of the Boise River and most of the bench, while the opposition (generally, Republican) won toward the west and south. It was a clear indicator, again, of the state of politics in the city.

The really wonkish will want to read Hoffman’s description of how he developed the maps. It was a complicated process, complicated enough that for those of us interested in this kind of information raises the obvious question: Isn’t there an easier way?

Anyone?

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Idaho Washington

This could be a transition to note. Kirby Wilbur, a conservative talker in KVI radio in Seattle since 1993, is out, effective yesterday.

The KVI statement says that “Since 1993, Kirby’s voice has been heard on KVI and part of its conservative talk line-up. His introduction to KVI listeners came as a regular caller to the station’s burgeoning talk shows in the early ‘90s. We at Fisher Communications Inc. wish him the very best and thank him for his commitment and service to KVI.”

So why is he out? Turning to Blatherwatch, we first hit the point that Wilbur isn’t out because he was overly abrasive (in contrast to a number of other radio talkers): “We gotta say it. Kirby Wilbur, despite [that] we disagree with his antediluvian politics, is one of the nicest guys in Seattle radio. He’s a friend of BlatherWatch, though we gave him plenty reasons not to be (sorry about the crack about the donuts, Kirb).”

Expanding the picture: “This market obviously cannot support 3 right-wing talk stations . . . (Market ranks: KTTH,16th, KIROFM, 20th; KVI, 25th) KTTH has Rush and Glenn Beck; KIRO doesn’t, despite it’s more conservative than not, that’s one of the reasons the smaller station kicks its ass (the other reason it never left AM). They couldn’t wrest Rush from KTTH last year, (lord, how they tried) and it’s hard to see how the station can survive in this liberal town saturated with right-wing talk.”

Is the talk radio marketplace tightening?

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Washington

opad

Our November 2009 Oregon Public Affairs Digest is out, with reports on Wyden’s actions in health care, unemployment developments, in Oregon political races (including the local government races coming to a head), congressional actions and much more.

There’s a substantial list of state rules and regulations just out, along with a number of congressional actions. And the usual rundown of important court decisions (quite a few of those this month), federal actions, calendar of upcoming events and much more.

Interested in subscribing, or seeing a sample copy? (Subscribers also get access to the full archives, a detailed recent history of Oregon month by month, going back to 2006.)

Just send us a mail at [email protected].

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Digests Oregon

ipad

Our November 2009 Idaho Public Affairs Digest is out, with reports on the changes in dairy country, in Idaho political races (including the local government races coming to a head), congressional actions and much more.

There’s a long list of state rules and regulations just out – October this year turns out to be the big month for publication of those official documents. And the usual rundown of important court decisions, federal actions, calendar of upcoming events and much more.

Interested in subscribing, or seeing a sample copy? (Subscribers also get access to the full archives, a detailed recent history of Idaho month by month, going back to 1999.)

Just send us a mail at [email protected].

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Digests Idaho

Labrador

Raul Labrador

Was the last post a little premature? Maybe, or maybe not . . .

Within a couple of hours after state Representative Ken Roberts said he was out of the Idaho 1st District Republican congressional race, another Republican state Representative, Raul Labrador, said he plans to enter.

According to a just-out Idaho Statesman piece: “Labrador said he expects to make a formal campaign announcement in the next week or so. The two-term lawmaker acknowledged his late start and newcomer Vaughn Ward’s big cash advantage in the race to face Democrat Walt Minnick. ‘Yeah, I think this is a monumental undertaking, but I think there is enough enthusiasm out there among Idaho conservatives that we’re going to be able to match and beat him (Ward) in fund-raising and, more importantly, in energy,’ Labrador said.”

Won’t be easy at this point. It’s not as if Ward is running or could be positioned as a moderate in this race, and it’s hard to see what advantages Labrador, starting quite a few months later than Roberts, would bring that his fellow legislator did not. “Monumental” is a reasonable adjective.

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Idaho

Ken Roberts

Ken Roberts

When Democrat Walt Minnick was elected to Congress from Idaho’s 1st congressional district about a year ago, one of the scenarios for his re-election campaign went like this: Republicans would be crowding the field to take on this unlikely Democrat in 2010. The large field would mean, as happened in 2006, that the win could go to almost anyone, and maybe not the strongest contender, which is what happened then (which in turn allowed for Minnick’s win). That kind of scenario would help Minnick’s odds for re-election.

But something very different has happened.

Minnick launched his congressional career by building bridges to Republicans – notably, the three in the rest of the Idaho congressional delegation – and voting very much like a House Republican, distinctive even from other Blue Dog Democrats. This had the effect of shielding him from the usual accusation of being “just another liberal Democrat” – such an accusation couldn’t hold. And Republicans took their time jumping into the race.

When they did, the names were not obvious giant-killers: Vaughn Ward, a former Senate staffer who’d been in the military but never run for office, and Ken Roberts, who was in state House leadership. Not overwhelming presences, but they got active early, enough to absorb a lot of the available early money, endorsements and organizational support – enough to discourage anyone else from entering. Then Ward turned out to be a stronger candidate than many had expected, and Roberts, despite strong state legislative connections, didn’t keep pace.

This morning, Roberts (citing health concerns) said he was dropping out. (By e-mail; no direct web link available to his statement yet.) Yesterday, his campaign manager had announced a resignation; change was in the wind and not entirely a shock.

That leaves only Ward, who has been raising money rapidly and picking up endorsements both local and national (like the American Conservative Union’s, today) at a steady clip. As the lone Republican in the field, he now stands to sweep up support, financial included, on the right. There’s little room left at the inn now for another serious Republican challenger – Ward is more or less occupying the field.

If Ward is able to absorb much of Roberts’ original backing, this race will already have turned in practice from primary to general. So the scenario materializing is what Minnick ought not to want: A single, fairly strong, Republican opponent positioned to run against him directly, without serious primary opposition, for what amounts to a full year.

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Idaho

Is there some reason longshot races in Washington and Oregon seem to be drawing the interest of pro sports figures, as Republican contenders? . . . Albeit two very different candidates.

Didier

Clint Didier

There’s the new report in Washington of – finally, very late in the cycle – a candidate against three-term Senator Patty Murray, not in the usual form of an experienced and established politician (as has usually been the case) but rather a farmer from Connell, and former Washington Redskin football player Clint Didier. He has an exploratory web site up.

According to news reports, he says he will have to have $300,000 by end of year for entry. He might get that; Republicans have to be scrambling to fill the ballot line. But he might have to be able to raise 50 times as much, in the nine months after that, to compete in the arena.

A few quick issues quotes: “I am in strong support of using a Constitutional Amendment to limit Congressional seats to twelve years total (two terms for the Senate and six terms for the House). . . . Health insurance companies should be able to offer their services nationwide. That competition would create a climate that would allow for the offering of better services and premiums while encouraging cost reductions through private industry solutions. . . The Federal Government has reached far beyond its original authority as granted by our Constitution.”

His exploratory web site makes it clear: He seems prepped to appeal to the red meat crowd on the right, but probably not much of the rest. (He could probably run well on his current message east of the Cascades, but . . .)

Dudley

Chris Dudley

In Oregon former Portland Trail Blazer Chris Dudley continues to move ahead. Since a batch of articles a month ago about his prospective candidacy for governor, word we’ve heard is odds of his entry continue to grow. H has been active in sports and non-profit activities in Oregon since, and sports fans recall his name.

Dudley also has an exploratory web site up, but from it he seems a far stretch from Didier – not a red meat kind of guy. You get a sense from the statement on it: “Right now, too many Oregonians have been without work for far too long. And without jobs, families are hit hard and schools and other important services suffer. In order to change this, Oregon needs new ideas and new leadership. By opening the Friends of Chris Dudley committee, I’ve taken the first necessary step toward determining how I can help, whether running for Governor or some other way.”

You get the sense of someone not inclined to throw ideological bombs. And there’s some word out too that he may not be, on a number of fronts, especially conservative, which would be an immediate issue for a lot of Republican primary voters.

Two sports figures as candidates in top races next year? Both probably would be reliant on a big trend toward outsiders and newcomers (of which we did see indications last week). But hopes for success for these two would be reliant on very different kinds of currents.

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