On The Road To 2008 - Commentary on issues as we countdown to the next opportunity to change the direction of America

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The End Of The Road

Back in 2004, following the defeat of John Kerry by George W. Bush, I created this blog and gave it a name that defined its general purpose - a four year commitment - that would hopefully come to an end following a new presidential election when we could vote again to "change the direction of America", as the tag line in my banner declared.

I recognized that is was an ambitious undertaking. Four years is a long time to maintain a focus of the kind I was envisaging, and I surely wasn't always up to the task. But when people asked me what I would do after 2008, given the name, "On The Road To 2008", I always replied that the name was my exit strategy, and that come 2009 I would retire this blog. My goal was that I would write my final post on January 20th, 2009 - Inauguration Day - and my hope was that by then we would have voted for that "change".

Fortunately, we did.

So here we are, over 1200 blog entries and 400,000 words later, at the end of the road to that moment so many have been waiting for. And while no one could have predicted all the events and outcomes that have led to this particular moment, it can be defined at its essence as the end of the failed presidency of George W. Bush, and the beginning of a new government that we'd like to think better represents who we are as a nation.

Yet clearly we are passing through exceptionally difficult times of a kind we haven't experienced in a lifetime, and while I rejoice at the ending of Bush's regime, I recognize that the new leadership will have its hands full reversing, let alone fixing, the damage done over the past eight years.

Let us not be naive. In Obama we perceive a man of intelligence, thoughtfulness and common sense, but whose liberal policies will be tempered by a desire to govern nearer the center, seeking consensus among opponents, and common ground within diversity, because it will take the shared effort of many to do the work that needs to be done. We have great hope that he will lead us to a better place politically, economically, socially and morally, but we need to recognize he will not be infallible, and what ails the nation will take more than one or two terms of an Obama administration to heal, if such healing is possible at all.

Nevertheless today is a day for great hope. We have elected this country's first African-American president, and that's an amazing thing in itself. This is a "who would have thunk it" moment, and I still find myself thinking it hard to believe it actually happened, despite my long support for the eventual winning candidate. The festivities surrounding this inauguration are akin to the revelry of a New Year's Eve - and the anticipation is being felt not just by political junkies, but by millions of citizens and non-citizens alike. I always believed that Obama was unique among all candidates in possessing the qualities of leadership we would need to galvanize the energies and spirit of a nation to put us back on a road to recovery. As president-elect he has already shown indications he is up to the challenge, all while the outgoing president has continued to do nothing but leave a leadership vacuum that's needed serious filling for a long time.

With Obama's swearing in he is expected to hit the ground running. Few can recall a more prepared and active transition, and these difficult times have made such expediency and groundwork necessary. While we've been waiting, the world's problems have not stopped accumulating. Israel's Gaza offensive reminded us of the fragility of the Middle Eastern geopolitical environment, and the Bush administration's dismal handling of the Palestinian situation during their watch. It will take the goodwill of parties that appear to harbor none toward each other to once again offer a chance for peace in the region. Hopefully the Obama administration will make such a goal a top priority again. Indications are that he will.

The Iraq war was the primary focus of this blog when I began writing in 2004. My very first post, the subject of a letter to a newspaper (that I later turned into a blog post after this blog's creation), was about how long term a commitment ours was likely to be in Iraq. Despite my desire that we pull our troops out of Iraq, naivety would also be to believe that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will quickly come to a resolution now that Obama will be in charge. There will be policy changes, but a military effort of such scope cannot so quickly be unwound. I expect many Obama supporters will be unsatisfied by the realities that govern the pace of withdrawal from Iraq. Meanwhile, just what length of commitment the redeployment of troops to Afghanistan engenders is a complete unknown. There be monsters facing us at every turn, down every road we take.

Back in the USA, we're living in dire economic times of a scope we really have yet to fully accept. As a nation we've never been good at proactively dealing with looming problems, and the situation this time around has been no different. Policies and practices have led us down a path that has put the nation in more debt than anyone could imagine just a decade ago, jeopardizing our future, and causing us to seek solutions that only exacerbate our debt load in the process. Few can really see a clear way out of the mess we're in. Obama has tough choices to make and again he won't be pleasing a lot of people a lot of the time over the next four or eight years.

Then of course we have other troubles that need attention. Global climate change. Renewable energy sources. Mass transit. Health care. Poverty. Inequality. Education. Taxation. Pollution.

And on, and on, and on.

It is any wonder anyone would want to be president at such a time.

At least there is the renewed promise that science, and scientific research and discovery will once again be provided an opportunity to flourish. While some have scoffed at a Democratic administration driven by "hope", we have suffered greatly in the hands of an administration driven by faith and directed by dogmatism. I begrudge not a person's religious beliefs, but we elect a commander in chief, not a preacher in chief, and it is time that the preacher's pulpit be removed from the Oval Office.

Religious diversity has been one foundation of this nation, but of late it has turned into religious intolerance, and extremists have sought to define morality and ethics in religious terms, while ignoring many of the tenets of religious teachings. The evangelicals beguiled the Republicans, and conservatives have been left wondering what happened to the party they once knew. Now is a chance for them to take it back, and for the separation of Church and State to be defined anew.

The road to 2008 that I embarked on took me places I did not envision. A single voice in a multitude of blogs meant that I was never likely to be a heavily read blogger at a national level, but my gradual evolution to writing about more local issues was far more about educating myself about them, than it was about finding a mass audience. Instead I soon developed a dialog with fellow local bloggers, and got to meet most of them in person at gatherings such as Drinking Liberally and other organized events. Today I count many of them as friends that I would never have met otherwise, and as I conclude my own blogging activities I have nothing but admiration for their ongoing efforts.

Unpaid, sometimes reviled, often dismissed, political bloggers spend an awful lot of time writing about issues, and rarely is there any payoff for the effort. We champion candidates or policies, some that win election or passage, but many that don't, and sometimes we're lucky if we simply help shape the debate, but I cannot imagine a world anymore without blogs, and the collective impact they've had on news coverage, information, and the pursuit of the truth in a matter. Left to their own devices the mainstream media would continue to let us down, and we'd have few places to turn to truly understand an issue. With the demise of daily print news, online resources will only continue to grow, and bloggers will be at the forefront of that change. It isn't a perfect forum, but it is an invaluable one.

As a software developer I also had the opportunity to offer something else than just my 2 cents. During the protracted 2005 Washington State gubernatorial court challenge I developed a better way for local bloggers to highlight their collective thoughts about it and other issues: the Pacific Northwest Topic Hotlist. The first iterations were promising but clumsy, and certainly awkward for bloggers to apply, but I soon evolved it into a relatively simple to embed sidebar widget, and a far more sophisticated aggregator and portal. Last year the Sunlight Foundation awarded me with a $5000 mini-grant that helped me pay for a better hosting solution, and will allow me to improve the service over the next few years. I've always felt that most other aggregators are pretty mindless groupings of generally unrelated blog postings, so the PNW Topic Hotlist truly offers a differentiating service I'd like to see more people take advantage of, and I'll be looking at ways for it to become more appealing. So, while I will no longer be blogging at this site, I will continue to support the Topic Hotlist and help propagate the readership of the local blogging community.

So while I will ensure that my collective writings at On The Road To 2008 will remain for search bots to find them, the time has come for me to move on and focus my time and attention elsewhere. While our nation makes a new start of things, it is time for me to bring an end to this blogging journey. So after this final blog post, and on the occasion of the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America, I bid my readers adieu.

Friday, January 09, 2009

A Recurring Theme: It Floods Around Here

We've been getting a lot of snow and then rain.

This is the dramatic result:

A flooded Snoqualmie Valley © Alan Berner / The Seattle Times

And so is this:

Hwy 202 road collapse at Fall City © Thomas James Hurst / The Seattle Times

This is becoming an annual occurrence here. We remember the election week deluge of November 2006. And of course the December 2007 floods that swamped Centralia and caused mudslides on clear-cut hillsides.

Just last November the area was dealing with flooding that caused people to evacuate their homes. I took the following photo on my return from a trip as we flew over Duvall:

Snoqualmie Valley, north of Duvall, Nov. 16, 2008 © Daniel Kirkdorffer

These floods are a regular occurrence, yet we continue to build on and live on flood plains as if these things never happened, somehow expecting them not to?

The damage never happens at a good time, and the people affected will have already been dealing with the economic downturn, so this is going to take a long time for people to recover from. But we need to make smarter decisions, and plan for the inevitable flooding that we should expect to happen again, perhaps as soon as in the coming weeks or months, and surely within the next year or two. After all, "Change is coming to Washington", so they say.

Or we could do as we've been doing and relive this all over again the next time it happens, in the same places, in the same way, at the same or greater financial and emotional cost.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Snowy Christmas

Snowy Westlake Center, Seattle (Taken from a 360° panorama © Bradford Bohonus)

Hope you're having a safe, warm and dry Christmas.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Presidential Election Recapped

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Our Next President: Barack Obama

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Time Has Finally Come: VOTE!

After waiting 1459 days since the last presidential election, election day 2008 is finally here.

That 126 million second countdown to finally changing the direction of American is finally over.

It has been a long haul, covering over 1200 blog entries and countless hours of research and writing, but the point of this journey, as the name of this blog suggests, was that following the disappointment of Bush's 2004 re-election I wanted to dedicate myself to doing my small part in covering the political issues facing us up through this election. Many felt the 2004 loss would lead to a collective funk and depression on the left, but what happened instead was the emergence of a true grassroots uprising of a politically activist citizenry in the form of what is now commonly referred to as the blogosphere and netroots.

My personal sights were set on 2008, and now election day is here, and it will certainly be an historic one as Barack Obama is almost surely going to win it if the indications of a massive Democratic turnout, and the polling numbers pan out. I have thought for quite some time that Obama would be the best candidate to help heal this nation and turn things around. Unfortunately for us all, the damage of the Bush years just continues to get worse, so Obama will have a huge job ahead of him. Will he be able to solve all our problems? Of course not. But I think he will have the wisdom to make a great many of the right decisions needed to set us on the right path, and hopefully his term will be extended another four years come 2012. I truly think he has the ability to be one of this nation's greatest leaders.

Other races closer to home will be tighter. I do not expect we'll know the winner of either the Washington gubernatorial or 8th CD races until after several days of vote counting given how close these races are projected to be.

On the initiative front, indications are that Eyman's I-985 will go down in flames with, believe it or not, Eastern Washington leading the charge. I-1000, the Death with Dignity measure looks like it will pass. Hopefully voters will finally vote for a real transit package in Proposition 1 and pull this region into the 21st Century.

But we're not there quite yet. None of the ballots have been counted. Hundreds of thousands have yet to vote. But this is it, this is what we've been waiting for. The time to vote is finally here, so do us all a favor, act on your civic right and duty and


Burner's Final TV Ad

Monday, October 27, 2008

Reasons to Vote for Darcy Burner

There are many good reason, and here are just a few:

And here is one other important reason:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hungry For Representation

I couldn't have said it better myself:
I found the P-I endorsement of Dave Reichert for re-election to Congress perplexing.

Why should the citizens of the 8th Congressional District pass up the opportunity to vote for a "smart, well-informed and progressive candidate" like Darcy Burner in order to provide Reichert with another term? You say it is to provide balance in Congress because there are too few moderate Republicans there. But we in the 8th District are hungry for a representative willing to think analytically and independently about the crucial issues facing the country.

Reichert is not that representative.

As your editorial pointed out, "Reichert was absent without leave" during the worst periods of the Iraq war. Reichert has seemed more than happy to go along with "the Bush Doctrine" and not make waves, hoping to retain his seat by choosing relatively easy issues to run on that most people in the district can agree upon, such as the environment or education. He has also been a proponent of the Bush economic policies that favor corporations over the middle class. These have been disastrous.

His opponent, Darcy Burner, has done her homework and taken the initiative on the Iraq dilemma, writing with Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton and other retired generals and foreign policy experts a comprehensive plan to bring the war to an end using military, economic and military options. A former group program manager for Microsoft, Burner has long advocated for fiscal responsibility and tax relief for the middle class. She is a creative thinker and proactive problem solver who would go to work for us and that, I argue, is what our district, and Congress, needs most.

Janet Kranz

Mercer Island

Monday, October 13, 2008

Last Week To Register To Vote In Person!

This is the last week one can register to vote for the upcoming elections. You will have to do so in person. You will need to contact your County Auditor for assistance and information.

You may want to check if you are registered as you'd hate to discover at the last minute that you are not.

With so much at stake you owe it to yourself to do what you can to register before it is too late!

Newcastle Chamber of Commerce Forum

Election day is just three weeks away, but there is at least one more chance to hear from the candidates, including Darcy Burner and Dave Reichert, and to learn more about a couple of initiatives on the ballot. The Newcastle Chamber of Commerce Forum is hosting a couple of events of note this week at The Golf Club at Newcastle.
Tuesday, October 14th, at 4:30 pm
Happy Hour with Attorney General Rob McKenna and Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg at Golf Club at Newcastle. Come have a drink and/or happy Hour food for only $3.95. Both will speak for 10 minutes and join the crowd.
RSVP requested to CandidateForum@NewcastleCC.com
For additional information please call John Jensen at 206-241-5774

Saturday, October 18th, 9:00am to noon at The Golf Club at Newcastle
RSVP required to CandidateForum@NewcastleCC.com
For additional information please call John Jensen at 206-241-5774

9:00 Opening
- Death with Dignity, Initiative 1000 (Pro Arline Hinckley, Con To be determined)
- Nonpartisan King County Government Initiative 26 (Con Governor Mike Lowry, Pro Joe Fain, Initiative Sponsor)
9:45 Darcy Burner, candidate for 8th District Congress
10:00 Break
10:20 Newcastle Style Forum (Debbie Berto, Issaquah Press Publisher will moderate)
- 41st District Senate race, Fred Jarrett and Bob Baker
- 41st District Representative race, Marcie Maxwell and Steve Litzow
- Representative Judy Clibborn, uncontested
11:15 Break
11:30 Congressman Dave Reichert, 8th District
11:45 Open or early end of event

Monday, September 22, 2008

So You Think You're Registered To Vote? Think Again!

Hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians have been scrubbed from the voter registration rolls since 2006:
(Seattle PI) Since 2006, more than 450,000 voter registrations were canceled; of those, nearly 95,000 were ineligible felons or dead, and almost 55,000 were canceled because they duplicated registrations that already existed. The rest were people who moved out of state, asked to be removed, or had not voted in the years covering two federal general elections.
Time is running out to register to vote if you're not registered. You can check to see if you are registered at the Secretary of State Web site.

You can also register to vote online until October 4th. After that you have to register in person up until 15 days before the election.

Don't delay only to find out the hard way that you're not registered when it is too late. It only takes a second to find out now.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

2000 Days

The United States has now been occupying Iraq for 2000 days.

Will it ever end?

Sunday, August 31, 2008


Three years later, Gustav reminds us of the disaster of Katrina, and brings disaster anew to New Orleans and the Gulf coast.

Friday, August 29, 2008