May 01, 2007

Has talk radio lost its clout?

Blah_blah_2 We disagreed with the Supreme Court's decision last week that vindicated John Carlson's (KVI, m-f, 9a-12p) and Kirby Wilbur's (KVI m-f, 5-9a) on-air organizing for the initiative monkey wrenching the gas tax passed by the legislature for some much-needed roadwork. 

Didn't seem fair to us that just because you had a radio talk show, that you got to use it to run the nuts and bolts of the petition drive and campaign- when the opposition- even a well-heeled one, had nothing  that could compete with it.

Of course, we hated losing in court, but even with that tremendous knee-up- the people saw it for what it was, and the initiative lost the election! 

Continue reading "Has talk radio lost its clout?" »

April 26, 2007

Supreme court OKs affirmative action for carlson, wilbur and KVI

The state Supreme Court unanimous agreed with KVI talk hosts John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur that they Kvineedn't report their on-air campaign organizing as an in-kind political contribution.

They lost the election, but won "special rights" to skirt fair election laws in their 2005 campaign for the anti-gas tax initiative, I-912.   

(The First Amendment is our grits and gravy around here, and we'd venture to say that our view of it is a hell of a lot broader than these born-again First Amendment enthusiasts crowing today over this decision).

Continue reading "Supreme court OKs affirmative action for carlson, wilbur and KVI" »

July 25, 2006

Talk radio righties take eyman to the woodshed- will they leave him there?

Maybe Tim Eyman has finally done it.

It started a few years ago when he was caught paying himself from what he self-described as his "pro bono" efforts. And ever since- after his every excess, and grandiose lie; after every one of his foible-filled stumbles, the chattering class always says: "Eyman's got nine lives, he always comes back."

But maybe, just maybe, he's done himself in this time.

In case you're not up on this, Eyman claims that some 35,000 signatures for his anti-car tab I-917, were lost, stolen, or strayed from the offices of Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed's office after he turned them in.

Nobody's buying it- not even his traditional supporters and oldest friends in talk radio.

Longtime ally John Carlson (KVI, m-f, 3-5p) bent him over and drove him to Tukwila today on his show, Monday.

Ordinarily loyal libertarian and I-917 supporter, Dori Monson (KIRO m-f 1-4p) remained highly skeptical throughout a simultaneous interview with Eyman and Reed. It was some great radio- listen to it here:

Continue reading "Talk radio righties take eyman to the woodshed- will they leave him there? " »

June 07, 2006

Wednesday oddems: eyman meets pieman; bogged-down jim leads the pack; ron, ron, don & no john; hosts go to battle; hint lives!

~~Eyman failed, failed, failed to get his opportunistic anti-gay rights initiative on the Nov. ballot. Right wing talk radio was luke warm about this. Evangelicals felt he jumped in and stole the ball before they'd even decided how to play it. For once, we loved hearing from former State GOP Chair, Chris Vance. He told the PI's Neil Modie: "Now he's coming in and hijacking issues and shoving his way into an issue because it's become a business for him. It's how he gets paid," Vance said. "There will be no end to Tim Eyman as long as people are willing to send him money ... it's hurting the legitimate perception of the initiative process. When you've got a clown out there in a Darth Vader suit lying to the press and things like that, it's not good for the initiative and referendum process."

~~Maybe it's Stockholm Syndrome, but Ron & Don (KIRO m-f 4-7p) are squirreling their way into our hearts. The schtick is a tag team of Ron, the Big Dumb Shit & Don, the Loveable Fuck-up. (It may be the other way around, but whatever) it's a tried and true formula and we're finding our finger lingering longer on the KIRO button at that time o' day, despite we're categorically opposed to even casual testosterone use. Bet we're not the only ones who get guilty pleasure out of listening to those guys...

~~What does blog success look like? A way ours does is that if you google, "six pack pics no underwear" you'll get to BlatherWatch.

Continue reading "Wednesday oddems: eyman meets pieman; bogged-down jim leads the pack; ron, ron, don & no john; hosts go to battle; hint lives!" »

May 22, 2006

"A Misuse of Talk Radio"

Welcome to the blogosphere, David Postman.

The savvy new blog posted by chief Seattle Times political writer David Postman will, we predict, be a must-read for professional pols and political junkies alike.

It sure will be for us if he keeps posting items like this morning's, "A Misuse of Talk Radio?"

As the state Supreme Court gets ready to consider whether talk show hosts campaigned illegally by promoting an anti-gas tax initiative last year, one talker says it was "a misuse of talk radio." And he's no liberal, but Bryan Suits, a host who shares the airwaves at KVI with John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur, the two accused of using talk-show time to campaign for Initiative 912.
Suits told the Mainstream Republicans conference Saturday, "This is me airing an internal, private business debate."

  "My radio station crossed the line in my book in terms of going from advocacy to leadership on a political issue, which is why the 912 talk stopped at 6 p.m. when I came on the air and my name was never on the initiative."

Does the Bad Lieutenant's libertarian, contrarian views signal a philosophical split in the KVI line-up?

You bet it does. (Not that it makes any difference in terms of much of anything). Kirby Wilbur and John Carlson are partisan Republicans who acted in the I-912 issue in an ill-fated effort to stick it to a Democratic Governor and Legislature, grab some Party clout for themselves and galvanize their listeners. They failed at the first two and arguably succeeded at the last.

But in the process, they further split off libertarian conservatives like Suits; and pissed off the business Republicans so important to new sleek Republican office seekers like Rossi, and McGavick.

Social conservatives, once so strong in the state Party have been thrown under the bus by the hated Party "pragmatists." like former Chair Chris Vance and now they believe, Diane Tebelius. We haven't heard the end of them, though-  the anti-gay rights referendum making the rounds for signatures right now will distract them and if it gets on the ballot, it'll bring 'em to the polls to be used once again by the craven Republicans.

November 18, 2005

the most popular talk station in seattle

What's the most popular talk station in Seattle?  No, it's not KIRO. Forget pip-squeaks like KVI and KTTH or Air America. It's none of those screaming, hypermanic AM talkers with their cranky conservatives, drive-by debate, chug-a-lug politics and wham-bam-thank-you-sir prurient interests.

It's the gentle, measured, cerebral (someone would say boring)  KUOW-FM (94.9) the Seattle talk format NPR affiliate.

Arbitron doesn't include public non-commercial stations in the 12+ numbers it releases--they're listed separately by the Radio Research Consortium.

The Seattle Post Intelligencer's Bill Virgin, whose weekly "Radio Beat" column is the only regularly reported MSM radio news we have in this town, put together both lists and found that not only was KUOW the highest rated talk station, it was the #2 in the whole market (second only to the mighty country music format KMPS).

This has always been common knowledge in the radio business around here, but Virgin does a good job of crunching and integrating the numbers and documenting it for us lay folk.

KUOW isn't the only non-commercial station to register in the combined overall rankings. KPLU-FM (88.5), along with Port Angeles outlet KVIX-FM (89.3), finishes in a tie at 16th on the adjusted rankings, while KEXP-FM (90.3) places 27th. Also registering on the list are Bellevue Community College's KBCS-FM (91.3) and Clover Park Technical College's KVTI-FM (90.9).

Yes, Seattle is different. Virgin writes that public radio does well in certain markets, like San Francisco, and Minneapolis -St. Paul and college town markets like Raleigh-Durham. He says "...KUOW's ranking has to be one of the highest in the country."

(A little disclosure: we love NPR here at BlatherWatch and have had many commentaries on the national "All things Considered" and have appeared many times on KUOW).

One of the reasons that right-wing talk has become so powerful in the Northwest, is that so many of us liberals are escaping the crassness of the commercial-strewn AM stations and tuning in to the nuanced and intellectually satisfying NPR.

Meanwhile many other folks, apolitical or non-aligned, and trapped in their cars, have become politicized by the repetitive drumbeat of conservative talk. While we're getting the finer points, others are having partisan polemic literally pounded daily into their brains at the cellular level.

It's a big problem for Air America or other liberal AM talk. The commercials, the tone of voice, and unmitigated bias of AM talk is a turn-off to the on-the-other-hand crowd.

Nuance is cool intellectually but Sean Hannity, Kirby Wilbur, John Carlson, Rush Limbaugh, et al, not only deliver punchy intense entertainment, but also turn listeners into passionate partisans. They have perfected- written the book on- making political rhetoric a popular entertainment medium.

NPR doesn't try to do that, but while they get big numbers in Seattle, their listeners are kept naive about the reality of local partisan politics.

~~They have, through salacious repetition, helped poison the minds of people against politicians, government and government process. While skepticism about government is good, the total distrust is unwarranted and problematic to the Republic.      

~~The extreme anti-tax I-912 was conceived by two talk hosts who used their shows to accomplish the amazing feat of getting it on the ballot in record time. It took a huge effort and millions of dollars to defeat the regressive measure.

~~Tim Eyman and his monkey-wrenching tax revolt initiatives would be nowhere without Seattle talk radio. Neither would the anti-affirmative I-200. Or the one-size-fits-all justice of "3-Strikes You're Out."

~~The attempt to unseat Christine Gregoire, though a failure in court, was a tremendous political success for Republicans. They succeeded, through talk radio, and triangulation with blogs, in convincing citizens that a) the King County Elections Dep't committed fraud and b) that Christine Gregoire had something to do with it. They put her numbers in the tank, a place from which she is only now recovering.

During all of this, we progressives in Seattle were listening to KUOW, considering all things and were amazed when the fruits of the talk radio conservative activists fell from the tree.

Who needs to address this is the Democratic Party, who incredibly blows off AM talk radio. They should, like the Republicans, recruit and groom young people to get into broadcasting; and take the medium seriously- they're getting their ass-kicked. The talk radio audience are, for the most part, the swing voters--they can be won over

This is our favorite rant, we'll stop now. Here are some interesting factoids about KUOW from Virgin's piece:

So what are people listening to when they tune in to KUOW? The most listened-to hour of the week, according to program director Jeff Hansen, is the nationally syndicated "Car Talk" at 9 a.m. Saturdays.

That's followed by the 7-8 a.m. weekday hour of "Morning Edition," "Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me" at 10 a.m. Saturday, the 8-9 a.m. segment of "Morning Edition," "This American Life" at 11 a.m. Saturday, the 6-7 a.m. segment of "Morning Edition," the 8-9 a.m. segment of "Weekend Edition" on Saturdays, the Sunday rebroadcast of "Prairie Home Companion" (it actually outdraws the Saturday broadcast) and the 5-6 p.m. segment of "All Things Considered."

November 10, 2005

the lives of the talk show hosts: john carlson, an uncommon political life

What's next for John Carlson?  He's down again. After sticking his political and professional neck far out once more, he got it chopped off.

He's the drive-time talk-host (KVI m-f, 3-6p) who, with fellow KVI talker Kirby Wilbur, thought up and gurued I-912, the anti-gas tax initiative which tried to jam a stick in the spokes of the massive transportation package passed by the Legislature in March.

The measure went down to defeat in Tuesday's election but not until it had followed an amazing arc that started with the talkers and their listeners gathering the signatures and getting the proposition on the ballot in a miraculous 32 days.

Carlson called it the "Cinderella Initiative."

Those were heady days--everyone agreed: I-912 would pass overwhelmingly. In summer, it polled in the 70th percentiles; but that was until its meteoric trajectory hit the rough atmospherics of November.

Carlson finds himself down once more. Not only did I-912, lose, but Carlson's standing with many Party stalwarts was badly damaged. Of course the GOP endorsed I-912--the whores that they are--because they thought it would win. But opposition to it was bitter in some hidden quarters--the business, donor quarters. 

If 912 had won, it would have helped, but after Carlson and Brett Bader staked so much and then lost the thing, there will be atonement. 

Carlson's ratings were down in the last two ratings periods and it's rumored that Fisher brass are not happy with having to pay to defend themselves from the legal issues brought up by Carlson, Wilbur and I-912. It is said that Carlson's contract is coming up in December and that he's been looking around. Rumors are that,  so has Fisher.

His has been a career that has had some amazing highs and some dizzying defeats. Win or lose, Carlson's ups and downs have always been center stage in local media.

He always runs against political insiderism, but he’s an insider’s insider and has been a politician all his adult life.

In 1986, southpaw political professional and historian Walt Crowley (founding director of wanted to do a liberal/conservative point counter point on TV. He went looking on the UW campus for Carlson who had been stirring up some headlines as one of a politically precocious, conservative “bratpack" that stirred up UW student life in the late '70's and '80's. Others in this group of brazen student reactionaries were Brett Bader, now Attorney General Rob McKenna and Kirby Wilbur.

Carlson agreed to it despite Crowley being a well-known 1960's leader of student protest and a radical/liberal of the era. The two worked together honing their debate styles and talked Lloyd J. Cooney, the hemorrhoidal conservative CEO of KIRO TV into giving them a half hour spot after the Sunday evening news and before 60 Minutes.

In one of local TV news' last gasps of relevance, the show was a Sunday mainstay for seven years. Crowley says he and his wife Marie McCaffrey became close friends with Carlson, helping him grow up and in the process exposed the naive, straight-laced college conservative to some of life he may not have run into at Young Republican ice cream socials. "I remember sitting with John after a TV show having a beer at the Comet Tavern and pointing out to him that the woman sitting next to him at the bar was a transvestite. That made quite an impression on him."

In 1984, Carlson had run for the Legislature in Seattle’s 34th House District. He knocked on the doors of 10,000 homes in West Seattle, the neighborhood where he grew up. He received 19,829 votes -- 49.2 percent of the vote but lost to the incumbent Georgette Valle. He was 25.

"Losing that race was probably the best thing that happened to me,'' he says. "The next year I co-founded the Washington Institute and started my media career.

In 1985, Bader and Carlson started the Washington Institute Foundation, a free-market, conservative policy think tank in Bellevue.

His next rejection was by The Seattle Times who dropped his Tuesday column because he kept scooping his own work (and therefore the Times) on his radio show.

He and his Washington Institute  pushed the  "Three Strikes You're Out'' measure, which in 1993 began putting three-time violent criminals in prison for life; and "Hard Time For Armed Crime'' in 1996, which expanded sentences for felons caught with weapons.

In 1996, when he wouldn’t quit using his show to promote the anti-affirmative action I-200, (for which he was paid director). Fisher Broadcasting, the futzy old flour mill who owns KVI, fired him. They’d got nervous when 2,500 mostly black high schoolers marched around the station with signs that said "KKK: KVI, Karlson, KOMO."

Carlson says:  "The station initially permitted me to campaign for it on the air... and even let me announce that I was heading it on the air. Then the parent company took a position against it, donated $30,000 to oppose it, and the directive changed. This, during a time when the station promos insisted that the hosts views (are not restricted in any way). I rebelled and got canned, then eventually brought back."

Carlson’s troubles were blamed by radio fans on the  “liberal media” (laughable if you think about Fisher Broadcasting) but the 59% passage of I-200 won him national renown, tremendous cache in the state GOP and eventual reinstatement at KVI.

Being able to come back is very important for a politician.

His triumph gave him delusions of grandeur and the Carlson amazingly ran for and won the GOP nomination for governor in 2000 to run against the popular Gary Locke. It was mostly a quixotic run by a radio broadcaster who'd never administered anything more than his own checkbook; and whose name had recognition with far too few citizens statewide.

As a gubernatorial candidate, he ran against Seattle, or the “Space Needle sphere of influence,” just as he does now. Bader ran that campaign and it didn't work--Carlson lost ignominiously, polling only 40% of the vote--winning fewer votes than Ellen Craswell, the harsh old evangelical, flat-earther who won the GOP nomination in 1996.

Carlson and Wilbur did well both politically and with ratings during the post election attempt to unseat Governor Gregoire. They tried to extend and project the rage worked up by that nastiness into the gas tax revolt. The audience apparently grew weary after nearly 2 years of solid partisan politics (remember how early the 2004 cycle started)--the energy for the issues and the drop in ratings were nearly simultaneous.

This is a set-back, but John Carlson will spring back.  We can't tell you how or when, but when it happens, there will definitely  be a press avail. 

November 09, 2005

talk radio initiative runs out of gas

I-912, the anti-infrastructure, no-new gas-tax initiative spawned on Seattle talk radio appears to be failing at the time of this writing election night  post.

All there's left for the counting is King County and it's presently defeating it at over 60%.

The measure, which would have never made it to the ballot without talk radio, was polling favorably at over 70% only a few months ago.

The Yes campaign will continue to play the class card and claim they were the victims of the rich corporate elite's Big Money campaign which overcame their Jack & the Beanstalk jousting with the power elite.

But in actuality, the campaign, which depended on voter outrage was mugged by reality.

They could not overcome, even with illegal direct campaigning on the public airwaves, the voters' realization that infrastructure was both needed and needed to be paid for.

They could not overcome the perception of the disaster of an unprepared government and inadequate infrastructure after Hurricane Katrina. Suddenly, earthquake vulnerable bridges and highways were unacceptable.

They could not overcome Big Bucks well spent--the No campaign tailored their messages to specific areas around the state--their job was simple--give 'em the facts about the transportation package scorned by talk radio.

They could not overcome the opposition of their own Republican business base.

They could not overcome a measure passed legally and in good faith by a majority of duly elected representatives.

They could not overcome the mighty juggernaut of local progressive blogs and websites: the Northwest Progressive, Evergreen Politics, On the Road to 2008, Progressive Majority, WA State Political Report, Artistdogboy and more.  

They could not overcome the watchful eye and withering tongue of BlatherWatch, who was reporting on the 1-912 campaign when it was still a twinkle in the beady eyes of Kirby and John.

They could not overcome the innate common sense of the American voter, who always sees through the bullshit, eventually.

Tonight's election coverage was pretty good on the whole, despite 2 out of 3 stations were conservative--we dig listening to right wing radio when they're losing-- it's deeply satisfying, as rare as that pleasure has been of late.

Air America's KTPK, of course, had no coverage because they have no live and local programming. 

Dave Ross on KIRO didn't rub it in too much with Dori Monson who took some pretty big hits. He sure is agreeable when he's down...We were reminded of how terrific is KIRO's news team. We were all over the dial and nobody, including arch-rival KOMO, could touch Tony Miner and his newsroom especially for getting the numbers out before anyone else.

KVI had of course, John Carlson, Kirby Wilbur, Bryan Suits, plus Ken Schram for comic relief and a refreshing shot of liberalism. As partisan and invested as Carlson and Wilbur were in the election, they didn't try to cover up the bad news as it unfolded, making real analysis, instead even when reality wasn't going their way.

Unlike Mike Siegal on KTTH who spoke of little else other than I-900, the successful performance audit initiative he worked on. It was a foregone conclusion it would pass and he spent the night clapping himself on the back, puffing up Bob Williams and Eyman's moneybags, Mike Dunmire.  He was in denial the whole night that his nemesis, county Executive Ron Sims was winning; and I-912 was in trouble--he left the air at 9:30 like the true partisan he is predicting an Irons win. It was bad radio.

Michael Medved then took over and licked Dino Rossi (remember him?) to death about his new book, " I Was a Contender! a self-aggrandizing vanity press campaign brochure he sells out of the trunk of his car.

The big winners tonight:

Ron Sims

Domestic tranquility.

Governor Christine Gregoire

representative democracy

trust in local government

a brave bipartisan Legislature

Secretary of Transportation, the gracious Doug McDonald
The big losers:

Dave Irons

Domestic violence

Carlson & Wilbur

talk radio and microwave democracy

the ash tray industry

November 08, 2005

no no, no, no, no, on I-912, damn it

It was the most wacked-up, "issue" yet dreamed up by the I-912 people. Friday, John Carlson, (KVI m-f, 3-6p) the  conservative talk show activist quoted his elderly Bellevue neighbor who swore that the traffic gridlock has gotten worse in the last days before the election.

The contention is that the evil Department of Transportation manipulated the traffic by screwing up the timing of the traffic signals, faking accidents at rush hour, putting slow-moving 18 wheelers running abreast of each other on busy freeways, staging phony funeral corteges, igniting car fires along expressways, hiring homeless people to walk along highway fog-lines and placing naked strippers on the hoods of cars parked along freeways to distract and slow down traffic.

This all, so the conspiracy theory goes, to convince voters to vote no on I-912. Callers were convinced of it, and Carlson never did much to discourage them from thinking it and being outraged that our taxpayer dollars were so being spent for such a political dirty trick.

Today is election day and the verdict will finally come down on one of craziest and most irresponsible of citizens' initiatives yet. this bill is the pure evil spawn of talk radio. It was dreamed up on KVI by Kirby Wilbur (M-f, 5-9a) and  John Carlson, and in a minor political miracle, the necessary signatures were gathered in just 32 days.

Although the initiative has lost a lot of steam in the last month or two, that it got on the ballot is one of the most amazing pumps of political muscle we've ever seen.

It was great talk radio material torquing voter anger over the tight gubernatorial election and the rural rage in this state which is always directed at the City of Seattle. Although it was triggered by the two KVI blabberjockeys, it was picked up by other conservative talkers like Mike Siegel, Dori Monson, and Frank Shiers who saw the opportunity to hitch their tepid careers to what seemed like a sure winner for them both professionally and politically.

In the end, the "issue," which was really about making Governor Christine Gregoire look bad and unseating legislators, crapped out as voters found out the facts. Poll numbers for the initiative and the ratings of the talkers fell. Whether it was fast enough to defeat the initiative, we won't know until tonight, but conventional wisdom (and the BlatherWatch prediction) said it would pass if it got on the ballot.

A brave superior court judge in Thurston county called bullshit on the unfair advantage the talkers took using the airwaves for directing the I-912 campaign on-air. This certainly helped spotlight to voters, and, we hope, to activists on the left, the effective right-wing political activities going on in the name of radio entertainment.

Win or lose, I-912 is another impressive example of how powerful talk radio can be. If it is defeated, it will be because the opposition had to spend many millions of dollars to get the information to the voters to overcome the daily barrage of misinformation the supporters were able to serve up for free.

Please vote NO on I-912.

October 31, 2005

dan sytman, blatherwatch: united against I-912 and common nonsense

BlatherWatch has taken issue many times with the bright but brittle Dan Sytman, Michael Medved's producer and the host of his own talk show on early mornings on KTTH (Saturday 6-8a) which is a great favorite of area milkmen, drunks coming in after a Friday night run and and Dan's own mother.

We kid Dan Sytman, but we love it when he agrees with us and puts his considerable brains and talents into a political issue that really shouldn't be cast as left vs. right.

In a straight-forward, reasoned and well-written op-ed in Monday's Seattle Times, Sytman makes the conservative case against the roads-busting I-912.

We usually won't condone the use of the word, "moreover" by anyone untenured or under the age of 65, but we can't help but overlook that and shriek here! here! in that undisciplined, overly emotional way we liberals have that gets us in trouble but also gets us laid more often than conservatives.

Sytman gives a litany of "liberal" transportation issues and projects he's railed and voted against such as Sound Transit, the Monorail, and HOV lanes. He voted for every one of Tim Eyman's anti-car tab taxes because, he says: "It punishes me progressively based on the value of my car instead of how much I drive."

But, he continues, brilliantly: "While rightly trying to kill that obnoxious tax, the people of this state drained money from the agency that does one of the most important things government does: build roads. So when I'm asked to replace a progressive tax — the vehicle excise — with a user tax that supports the building of roads, it would be hypocritical of me to refuse."

He points out that voter approval of the regressive I-912 would nix what conservatives have been trying to do for years:

"We've been demanding roads, not transit. Well, now they're building roads and using one of the fairest kinds of taxes to do so — and we're going to try to stop them? Unfortunately, I think many I-912 advocates have not realized the hypocrisy of their dubious position on transportation taxes.

He's not the only conservative, who's against the roads-monkeywrenching initiative:

" [It] was passed with support from about one-third of Republicans in Olympia, including highly respected conservatives like Sens. Bill Finkbeiner, Joseph Zarelli and Dan Swecker, who voted for the package because it includes projects not just for infrastructure-needy King County, but for all 39 counties. They voted for the gas tax along with an audit feature that will help enforce wise spending."

We might add some other Republicans opposing this clunker: Attorney General (and local conservative hero) Rob McKenna, former Senator Slade Gorton, former Governor Dan Evans, King Co. Executive candidate Dave "Mama's  Bad Little Boy" Irons, and Senate candidate Mike McGavick, though he's been a little slippery on I-912 lately (a preview of how he might govern?).

Sytman says that the Republican party has deserted their traditional allies in the business community. We've heard Boeing bitching about these anti-transportation tax revolts for years, mainly because it's become harder and harder to get freight in and out of the area and takes workers longer and longer to get to work. Boeing is slip-sliding out of the Puget Sound region and our regional tendency to avoid clear transportation decisions is certainly a major factor--they've said it many times. 

Sytman observes:

If a post-I-912-era earthquake brings down the viaduct or sinks the Evergreen Point Bridge, who do you think people are going to blame? Keep in mind that the Washington State Republican Party has officially taken a position against its traditional allies in the business community by supporting I-912. It doesn't take a wild imagination to predict where the blame will fall if Washington suffers from a bridge- or viaduct-breaking catastrophe.

As much as we'd love to have a major catastrophe to pin on the GOP, when push comes to shove, we'll take the repairs. We've heard over and over again from conservatives, that maintaining the infrastructure is the role of government, if nothing else is.

Dan Sytman told Dave Ross (KIRO, m-f, 3-6p) Monday:  "As as conservative, it's tempting to poke Washington state government in the eye: it's tempting to poke Christine Gregoire in the eye, but what we're doing by supporting this initiative is cutting our nose off to spite our face."

We couldn't have said it better. For Sytman to come out both on his show and in the dreaded "liberal" press wasn't easy in the company he keeps; and though it galls us to say it, we salute him for his prinicipled stand.

This really isn't liberal vs. conservative--it's a responsible vs. irresponsible. The I-912 campaign plays to anger, cynicism, and the worst impulses of the voters. The trend in this campaign, however, is that the more the voters find out about the transportation package, the more of them are rejecting this ill-considered initiative that would quash it.

We're praying that good sense and more information will reach critical mass before election day.

October 27, 2005

Thursday oddems: rancorous days, sweet nights, naked truth, naked erin, naked kirby, a tangled webb we weave & the beatles

~~Another loyal Republican and Bush supporter got off the rickety Harriet Miers bus, today. John Carlson (KVI m-f, 3-6p) joined fellow KVI talker, Kirby Wilbur in withdrawing support for the embattled, sycophantic Bush Supreme Court nominee. Carlson's problem with the mediocre Presidential crony and sender of Hallmark cards--she reportedly supported affirmative action in Texas. Gosh, and we were just beginning to like her...If this dissatisfaction has reached down to the bread-crumb level of Seattle conservative talk show hosts, this nomination is toast. Another blow to a beleaguered President whose presidency is looking like a fist full of twos.

~~Another big night on the Mike Webb Show (KIRO m-f, 9p-1a) The hot topic: Who was the more important icon[s] of the last century? The Beatles or Elvis? Heady stuff-- we woulda gone for Sigmund Freud, (the classic Seattle garage band) of course, as would Mike's special guest: Ranger Rick, the guy who invented Ranger Cookies. Our favorite reader nickname for Mike Webb: 'Bambi.'

~~Sean Hannity may be throwing in the towel as Designated GOP Liar. In a prepared fit, Wednesday, he reamed out Congressional Republicans in stern tones, and harsh language. He read them out about "spending like drunken sailors," and lack of action on immigration "reform." He reamed them for the porky Transportation and Education bills they passed; and without actually mentioning Bush, he said Ronald Reagan would have vetoed them. He said, "if you ignore the conservatives in the party, it will be at your peril." This is another bellwether of the slippage Bush is suffering on the conservative side of his party--Hannity has been one of the administration's most reliable talking chimps.

~~Every ear is tuned-in for the breaking news that will answer these questions. Will Karl Rove or Scooter Libby be indicted?  Will there be pudding for Karl? Will Seattle enjoy another Frank Shiers-free day?

~~Being offended is a natural consequence of leaving the house. ITAL--Fran Lebowitz

~~Those boyz from KVI did not have a nice day, again Wednesday. “In this case Kirby Wilbur and John Carlson were the principal organizers of the campaign and openly used their media time to advertise the campaign and solicit funds for it,” Judge Wickham declared. “Their relationship to the campaign and their open advocacy of the campaign demonstrated their intention to use valuable media time to support the campaign. Their actions were not accidental and the impact on the campaign was not incidental,” Wickham added. “Anything less than the facts in this case might well not be a reportable contribution.’’ I-912 spokesman Brett "Darth" Bader said he plans to go on reporting the on-air activities of Carlson and Wilbur as in-kind contributions, even though the judge clearly said that was not his intention in the preliminary injunction. "We want to be able to take it as far as we can while the press coverage might help our irresponsible initiative's troubled campaign," said Bader.

~~A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel. —Robert Frost

We keep getting letters from this guy who insists Erin Hart is scantily dressed, if not buck naked on her weekend show. "She just sounds naked," he insists. We've always loved Erin for her brilliance and her pet adventures, but we can't prove it one way or another, though we usually know naked when we hear it. The FCC assures us there's no dress code or requirement on radio, though they're pretty much sticklers about it for TV. Our spies have promised to keep us apprised of the naked truth. Erin: We know you don't much like us anymore, but drop us a line--you could clear this right now.

October 26, 2005

I-912 free speech martyrs: oxymoronic, expensive, controversial & phony

KVI talk hosts, John Carlson (m-f, 3-6p) and Kirby Wilbur (m-f, 5-9a) are painting themselves to listeners and, of course, voters as 1st Amendment martyrs, and victims of an evil judicial and bureaucratic attack on their blessed rights.

It sound great on the radio, but unfortunately, nobody else in the sexed-up "controversy" knows quite what they're talking about--not their bosses at Fisher Broadcasting, not the Public Disclosure Commission, not the prosecutor they claim is persecuting them.

What's this all about? State law says a campaign can't take a contribution of more than $5,000 from a single source in the last 21 days of an initiative campaign. Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham ruled in July the campaign had to report the value of on-air work given before May 31. But I-912 organizers have been valuing the on-air work of KVI radio's Kirby Wilbur and John Carlson at $20,000 a month ever since.

So when the PDC innocently gave the no new gas tax campaign a courtesy call (as they do to all initiative campaigns) reminding them of the 21 day restrictions, Carlson and  Wilbur and their legal mouthpieces, cranked up the Mr. Microphone, becrying it as a dire warning from Big Brother: Shut up or else!

"That's what happens when you confuse campaign finance law with free speech and try to put a value on free speech," Wilbur said.

The capitol's newspaper, The Olympian reported:

"Essentially it means my clients are in an extraordinarily difficult position. Carlson and Wilbur probably blew through that $5,000 already," Institute [For Justice] lawyer William Maurer argued late this week, estimating that at a radio ad rate of $140 a minute, the limit would cover just over a half-hour of air time."

Maurer added that Carlson, Wilbur and station owner Fisher Communications have a choice to 'face fines and penalties or shut up and not face fines and penalties.'

Carlson intoned to the PI: "We are seeing a perfect example of how campaign finance laws are regulating the First Amendment out of existence. The idea that I cannot talk about Initiative 912 in the last two and a half weeks of the campaign, which are the most pivotal, is just outrageous." 

Truth is: nobody said they couldn't speak in the last two and a half weeks of the campaign except...they, them, themselves.

Fisher Vice President and General manager Rob Dunlap denied Carlson and Wilbur's claims. " is an overstatement," he told the Olympian, referring to the talk-show hosts' public statements.

"We are not moving to modify their speech in any way. I shared that personally with John yesterday afternoon, and this morning when I had a chance to talk to Kirby. ...They are free to talk about this initiative, any other initiative or any other matter facing the community we serve."

(Around town, radio folk are asking: how much longer will Fisher put up with the controversy, the legal expenses and the PR pain in the ass of Carlson's political antics and activism? His numbers just ain't that good, lately, is what they're saying...)

Randy Gaylord, the San Juan County prosecutor who brought the original lawsuit against I-912 over Carlson and Wilbur's on-air promotion, said the blabbermeisters can speak freely as long as they are acting as commentators and not as agents of a campaign -- which he argued they were doing during the I-912 launch in May.

But Gaylord explained the real agenda for their playing the constituional victims:

"You know the old adage for a politician -- that any news is good news, no matter how bad it is. Their goal is to make as many motions they can in court over the next two weeks so they can get news coverage. ... It doesn't matter if it is good or bad to them -- it gives them attention."

Attorneys for the I-912 campaign also claim the Public Disclosure Commission warned the campaign this week that the talk show hosts could violate state law and face steep fines if they advocate for I-912.

But PDC officials denied issuing any such warning. They said all campaigns were given a reminder by e-mail that certain deadlines and limitations -- including the $5,000 donation limit-- were taking effect.

Carlson and Wilbur continue their weekdaily blameblitz against the judge, the bureaucratic PDC, Governor Gregoire and the "Olympia elite" for trying to "muzzle" them.

These two do a lot of self-describing: they're free speech crusaders, brave resisters, hardy grass roots-- the disastrous 912 is the "Cinderella initiative" while Governor Gregoire is the Wicked Stepmother.

It's been conventional wisdom that this initiative, tapping the backlash of the white middle class, middle-aged men who are the talk radio audience, will win at the ballot box.

The No campaign was caught flat-footed and got in late; but they've raised a shitload of money, and they're spending it wisely in locally-focused ads and mailings around the state.

The Progressive Institute has put up its own NO on 912 site and has led the progressive blogs in the fight. Check out their Viaduct Hazard Demonstration scheduled for 9:30 Wednesday morning.

It's the Lord's work, and despite being disadvantaged by starting late; lacking the Passion Factor of a base whipped into a daily froth by radio hosts; and having to pay for all their own marketing--there are some signs the anti's may be edging up.

An Elway poll conducted in late September showed that 48% of those polled were against it, 41% were for it and 11 percent were undecided. People seemed less favorable to the idea after they actually read about the transportation package 912 would erase and realize its vital importance and  not just the elitist tax-raising boondoggle talk radio proponents claim.

Carlson and Wilbur and the I-912 campaign have no plan except they don't plan to pay more for gas. Their alternative to fixing the roads is not fixing the roads.

There's a no better example of how powerful talk radio can be than the humble AM origins of this initiative. Whether it's successful or not in November, we hope Democrats and liberals will finally wake up.

Talk radio stations: we gotta get us some.

October 21, 2005

Friday autumn oddems: irons in the fire, john procaccino, tom skerrit, bill o'reilly, kirby wilbur, john carlson, and not much about kiro for once!

~~Don't miss our David Goldstein on the Kirby Wilbur show (KVI m-f,5-9a) Friday at 7a. He'll be talking about his scoop on County Executive candidate Dave Irons' mother's allegations that he struck her to the floor and ripped the phone off the wall so she couldn't call 911. Read Goldy's story here, and The PI's report here. This shabby tale, with all its internecine hatred and familial he-said, she-said, calls into question Dave Irons' executive skillset and general balance. Even without the violence, if he can't negotiate successfully within the circle of his own family and keep the brushfires from breaking out into the public--why would you think he could handle the big arbitrations with the big players in this big county's business?

~~Republicans have been afraid this incident might come out in this election; this, according to a reader, a self-described Republican. Irons' mother, Janet C. Irons made the same allegations a few years ago on the John Carlson show. "She was believable as hell," says our guy, "I never could support him after that."

~~So who's this John Procaccino trying out in the 9-noon Ross/Prell Chair on KIRO? First we'll tell you who he ain't: he's not John Procaccino, MD, the legendary scourge of colorectal diseases on Long Island and Queens. Our John is well-known around town as an actor and for doing the movie news and reviews on Saturday mornings on KIRO 7 Eyewitness News. Here's his filmography and notable TV appearances. He does plays, C and B grade movies and some guest-ons on some big name TV shows like Lawn Order. After a few more B movies, he could give localite Tom Skerrit a run for his money. We liked what we heard from Procaccino on the radie-yo and our picky, picky readers have been complimentary if not downright indifferent. Indifference is a good thing, John--Frank Shiers goes to bed every night praying for indifference. 

~~Outrageous! is what John Carlson (KVI m-f,3-6p) said Thursday on his show, after the Public Disclosure Commission, who enforces state campaign laws, phoned KVI Honcho Rob Dunlop to tell him the I-912 campaign is near the limit of allowable contributions for the last weeks of the campaign. That would have meant Kirby Wilbur and Carlson would have had to shut up and stop their on-air campaigning for the irresponsible veto of the road repairs bill. In July, Judge Chris Wickham ordered nonew to report the on-air campaign exhortations by the talkers as in-kind contributions. This means the No’s, long the underdog in this fight, would have the media arena almost to themselves for the last two crucial weeks. Carlson and Wilbur are undecided whether they'll continue to campaign on-air despite the . We'd love to see some Republican white collar civil disobedience--the two scrubbed radicals chained to a cart rack talking on and on as the fascist pigs in SWAT gear beat the doors down to stifle their free speech.

~~The job of a talk host is to get you riled up and establish absolutes, because only an absolute point of view produces phone calls, which are really hard to generate. ~~radio consultant Walt Sabo

~~Can it be true? Be still my fribulating heart! Bill O'Reilly, in a rare interview by Verne Gay in Newsday, said he may be retiring! "Now it's so bad that I spend an enormous amount of money protecting myself against evil," he said. His enemies have become so vicious he says he's considering walking away from it all. Once considered (by himself) for a senatorial bid or a 3rd party presidential run, he now "rules out a future in politics." The gigantic tub of scum fails to say, he was ruled out of politics, after he was caught in the delicious (not vicious) sex scandal after creepily hitting on a Fox producer who taped a phone conversation. After paying her millions, he was the butt of jokes across the country, disinvited to the Bush Inauguration and is a pariah in the very Values Community he so blusteringly defends. Part of the sexual harassment settlement, is that O'Reilly must have a third party present whenever he talks to a female or even talks on the phone. (!) It's all the press's fault, of course. Do we think he'll really quit? Hell no. They'll have to pry that loofah out of his cold, dead fingers...

~~Sunday, we'll wrap up our totally worthless poll on who should be taking over the 9 to noon slot on KIRO. We should post the results on Monday. It's really been a bust, as we'd planned--what a transparent "strategy" to get clicks! It's blogwhoring at its worst! We're not surprised at who got the most numbers, but we're delighted at quality of the remarks by our literate and funny readers.

October 14, 2005

friday oddems: colostomies, kiss-my's, irons in the fire, ben dover dave, craig's list, harriet miers, prell's belles, litmus testes

~~The good news is another Republican came out of the closet to oppose the irresponsible anti-roads initiative 912. The bad news is, he's a blithering idiot, who won't influence much of anyone. There is a silver lining-- because it's Dave Irons, GOP County Exec. candidate who was so mush-mouthed and inarticulate trying to stick up for himself Thursday, that I-912 advocate John Carlson (KVI m-f, 3-6p) bent him over and rode him to Tukwila during the afternoon drive. We'd not heard Irons speak before, and were shocked at how lame he is. We've always heard he's a neurotic train wreck, and that his feudin' family are so certifiably wacked that they're a danger to Irons and others, but we had no idea the trouble he has putting words in sequence. Ron Sims should have little problem taking him to places John Carlson has only dreamed of.

~~Have you got a problem with the so-called insider radio information you read here at  BlatherWatch? Is it wrong and misguided and unfounded and erroneous? Is it salacious gossip, without the added advantage of being true? Quitcherbitchin.' We're tired of hearing about it from you who give us nothing, and offer no corrections. So write us at [email protected] and tell us what's what, or...shut up awready. You can take our discretion for granted, but that's about all...

~~Speaking of being taken for granted, conservatives feel that's how they're taken by the Bush administration. Thanks to The Orb, we found an excellent piece by Mac Johnson in the ultracon Human Events about how the conservatives consider themselves the new negroes of the Republican Party. They do all the work, give all the money, vote all the votes, and what do they get? Bony fingers and Harriet Miers. Johnson concludes: The primary argument made against conservatives' scuttling the Miers nomination is that such a defeat could hamstring Bush for the remainder of his term, preventing him from enacting any further great initiatives. Good. With the exception of his responses to the September 11th massacre and the tax cuts, his great initiatives have made most Conservatives feel quite ill. For once, we can relate with conservatives. Gotta be honest--we're lovin' the hell out of all this. Things are looking down, down, down for the Republicans. Too bad they have to take the country down with them

~~Speaking of mealy-mouthed, it was fun hearing I-912 flack Brett 'Darth' Bader trying to explain on the radie-yo today why it's OK for the ill-conceived measure to actually cost taxpayers $66 million in buying and road-building power from the $8.5 billion transportation by delaying projects this summer construction season because of the uncertainty of the 912 outcome. These "tax revolts always end up costing taxpayers more in the end. Meanwhile, the City of Kirkland is planning a bake sale for 520 Bridge repairs if I-912 passes.

~~You could hear the clanking of our friend Kirby Wilbur's mind (KVI, m-f, 5-6a) changing on-air this week about Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers. Kirby didn't like those birthday cards to the President sent by Miers that said, "Cool." "Can you imagine a Justice Rehnquist," he said, "writing 'Cool.' to a President?" Well, we couldn't and neither could his guest the Wall Street Urinal's arrogant little prig, John Fund, another influential conservative gone south on the nomination. Wilbur and Fund join a legion of conservatives like Ann Coulter, Bill Kristol, Rush Limbaugh, David Frum, George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Peggy Nooner, Ron Silver, and Pat Buchanan, who are mad as hell and want not only a right-wing litmus test for purity, but are quite adamant that a Supreme Court Justice be above average in some way.

~We'd rather have a colostomy than have to listen to Frank Shiers for another week. Is that what's in store for us? KIRO's not saying. KIRO mucks put an ad in Craig's List after they fired Allan Prell which was weird enough--the List is usually the place to score a baby stroller, a used computer or a casual encounter in Belltown. The ad presumably dredged up last week's loser whose name was Willkie and though he was undoubtedly HWP and hung like a studhorse, he was not, as we say, a contender. We feel sorry for anyone who has the nuggets to try out in Prell's old timeslot--listeners will be hostile, if they show up at all. KIRO doesn't have any credibility. Listeners left in droves when Dave Ross was relocated and Prell came on; then after Prell had gathered an avid audience, Entercom offed him from afar sans explanation or a kiss-my to his fans...A new guy's got a lot to prove to a new audience--it won't be easy. Conventional wisdom around town is that Ross will be back in the morning. 

October 11, 2005

entheomania, blathermania, allan prell, dave ross, michael weiner, dan savage, dominatrixes, dubious achievements and fisting 1-912

~~Dave Ross (KIRO m-f, 3-6p) is, simply, the only local liberal talk host in Seattle. And he's the best. (No, Erin Hart and Mike Webb don't count. And neither does the goof-ball trying out for Prell's slot today, who, about half the time, forgot to mention his name or the KIRO call letters). Ross is eloquent and clear with such issues as I-912, the dangerous anti-roads repair initiative on the Nov. ballot. Supporters don't want to talk about intersections and concrete--they want to talk about sending a message. Ross takes the issue to the core--intersections, HOV lanes, the tax policies that create them; and still makes compelling radio. The I-912 people count on short attention spans, and the tempting elixir of anger and revenge to bollox the road repairs bill. Fear & loathing makes for more enticing politics (and radio) than the nuts & bolts of issues, but there's evidence that voters are starting to look deeper. Check Ross's website for listeners' specific questions he directs to the Department of Transportation.

~~Michael Savage, the demented, homophobic, talk radio entheomaniac, (KTTH m-f, 3-6) whose real name is Michael Wiener, is advertising for "five characters and a primary co-host" for his diatribic weekdaily show that leaks like a stain from San Francisco. Its going to be like a reality show with 32 contestants starting out but fired one day at a time by audience vote until only five are left. the one with the most votes will become co-host for 3 months or until Savage fires him or her. The audience can (he claims) veto his firing if 500,000 or more call in to an 800 line. Sound cool to "talk where he talks?" Send a tape or CD to The Michael Savage Show, C/O Talk Radio Network, P.O. Box 3755, Central Point, OR 97502.

~~Should be fun to meet Allan Prell fans (and Allan Prell) at the big demonstration Weds. Luckily for us, it's a "free day" at The Home, so we're hoping to make down to Eastlake at noon on Wednesday. We were always so mean (Allan says 'cruel,') to him in print, we're hoping no one will 'shoe" us away. We've been speaking to Allen recently and now we officially love him--not in the biblical sense and better late than never.

~~We'll be close to others around KIRO and KTTH who hate our guts as well. Like Mike Webb, who's usually packing (a gun, presumably, and not his pants, though we wouldn't put that past him) has made some pretty harsh threats on us over the email. We're watching our backs--he hasn't sued anybody lately either. Mr. Clendening and Mr. Pridemore probably don't want much to do with us either, though they probably wouldn't bother shooting us, unless, of course they had a gun and no one was looking. We'd like to go across the street to Azteca with those two and clean up some of that negativity between us. Remember boyz: a smile is just a frown turned upside down.

~~We haven't beat up on Mike Siegel lately--honestly, we've been trying to quit. But damn it, now he's flacking listeners to Ocean Shores (where he owns a condo) for a fabulous cheap weekend, with a FREE GRRRMET DINNER, his company, and the rare opportunity to hear the investment opportunities of buying into this condo arrangement. Wonder what his cut is? They probably'll let him take the leftovers home from the FREE GRRRMET DINNER. You usually hear about these "opportunities" from telemarketers--why doesn't Mike get back to more dignified flacking like for snore cures, rotary nose hair trimmers and herbal viagara?

~~BlatherWatch is not covering the flatulance/Limbaugh beat anymore because we got quite a stern lecture about taste and discretion by an editor we respect and fear. We did want want to tell you that, according to the tabs, Limbaugh's nickname around the clubhouse is "Limberger"

~~We asked Dan Savage, The Stranger editor and celebrated sex advice columnist if he's ever reconsidered being a talk radio host.  Savage was touring his new book, The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family. (Dutton) Back in the early '90's, he had a talk show on the old KCMU (now KEXP) on Sunday nights. They did live fisting on-air, interviewed a man who married his horse, and talked to John Wayne Bobbit and plenty of dominatrixes, all accompanied by witty Savage banter. When Al Franken came to town last Spring, Savage was again funny and right on. No, he told us, it was too much work  too time consuming. He said a host (like Franken) must do most of his own research himself, just so he can learn the stuff in such short order and so regularly. "You always gotta be right," he said, "you can't just make up stuff," Someone should tell that to Sean Hannity

October 10, 2005

I-912: frankenstein from the lab of right-wing talk radio

Andrew Garber's otherwise excellent piece on the scary anti-roads repair initiative, 912, in Sunday's Seattle Times was well-prepared and meaty. Unfortunately, it failed to mention where this irresponsible car wreck of microwave democracy came from.

I-912 would not exist if it were not for KVI drivetime radio talkers John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur, longtime right-wing activists and Republican partisans.

Garber quotes Jane Milhans, who's shilling for the talkers as the in-name-only sponsor of the initiative which would effectively veto a hard fought transportation package passed by a bipartisan legislature. The crippling initiative would cut the funding which is to be raised by raising the gas tax 9.5 cents over four years.

(To look at, former Pierce County GOP Chair Milhans is one of those conservative, hard-boiled bottle blondes, so popular on the cable talking heads shows; cut with the same cookie-cutter as the evil Ann Coulter, GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway, the late Barbara Olsen, the mouthsome Debbie Schlussel and the sex police from Concerned Women For America who never leave home without their vaginas sewn tightly shut. Michelle Malkin is in the sisterhood, but she's resisted the bleach bottle, maybe because she's of color, and a brunette-- an anomaly and probably a detriment to her future in conservative babe circles).

We reported on the KVI beginnings of I-912 as Kirby & John were considering whether to try getting it on the ballot. They decided in the affirmative, as we all know, and gathered the signatures in a record 32 days, but not without some unfair on-air tactics ruled illegal by a Thurston County judge.  The ruling came after the measure was already on the ballot, so on the ballot it stays, ill-begotten and ill-advised.

The talk hosts, fresh from stirring the pot over the frivolous and losing court case Republicans brought against Governor Gregoire's tight election, quite deftly transferred the rage against the tax increase.

The Department of Transportation, so roundly abused by the government haters, is really just a lettor of contracts for a thoroughly privatized highways system. And because there's no other legal way to raise revenues for roads except gas tax (after Tim Eyman) there's a huge backlog of maintenance. No matter to these so-called conservatives: it's all about the gas tax.

They blamed the failed Seattle monorail, which had nothing to do with the DOT, or State of Washington taxpayers. (it's kinda like blaming 911 on Saddam Hussein) The talk radio boys and the signature gatherers pitched it all as the same thing and pissed-off voters lined up to sign, despite it was against their own interests, the public good and the hallowed suburban principle of one-man, one-car.

Snip! off came the nose, and that face was sure sorry! 

Garber writes:

The I-912 campaign has implications that go beyond Washington state, said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform in Washington, D.C. His group has churned out a steady stream of press releases endorsing the measure. He noted that Oklahoma voters rejected a nickel increase to their gas tax just last month.

Norquist is a shady and extreme right-wing Washington lobbyist, who's known as the Rasputin of the conservative movement and the Bush administration. He once said he wants to get government down to a size it could be drowned in a bathtub, which emplifies his happy-go-lucky, positive attitude and  Reaganesque optimism.

He always had free access to the President, although that's perhaps a bit of a problem, now, since being entangled with House Majority leader Tom Delay and corrupt superlobbyist Jack Abramoff both indicted for greedy hankypank, influence peddling and creative accounting. Norquist has some 'splainin' to do about his role in Abramoff's shakedown of Indian casino interests and money laundering through various right-wing, Christian and Jewish non-profits.

This is the company these neoRepublicans keep; but the old Republicans aren't so sure about all this. Their traditional base, the business community is horrified at the prospect of I-912 passing. Old war horses like former Republican Governor Dan Evans are lined up against it. I-912 supporters can't find their erstwhile gubernatorial candidate, Dino Rossi for an endorsement, because he's hiding in his closet until it's over. We can only assume with his ties and contributors from business, he's against it. Dan Kirkdorfer covers some Republican legislators' measured defense of the road package they helped pass, now in mortal danger.

Dave Ross (KIRO m-f, 3-6p) points out that people don't seem to mind when the gas prices rise up--- it's raised up 54 cents a gallon alone in a year--we pay the price and send it out of the country to rich Arabs who hate us. But add a few cents per year that would actually stay in the state and fix the roads and give people jobs, then watch the outrage.

What's in it for Kirby & John? Their clout and profiles, already high in the conservative circles and the Republican Party will certainly be enhanced if this passes. But the Democratically controlled Legislature and the new, Democratic Governor, Christine Gregoire who they worked so hard to defeat would both be damaged politically if this rejection is compleat.

It's an example of the myth of "liberal media," and the disproportionate and partisan influence right-wing radio has in this traditionally liberal state.

Vote No on 1-912.

September 19, 2005

where's rossi?

Goldy over at Horse's is doing a media vigil called "Where's Rossi?"

It's about the irresponsible initiative that would veto the bipartisan highways package passed by the 2005 Legislature because it rases gas taxes to fund itself. KVI drive time talk hosts, John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur miraculously got this on the ballot in a very short period of time.

The miracle was more than a little mitigated by them using the questionable loudspeaker of their top-rated talk shows on the public airwaves to organize and direct the campaign. Dino Rossi, of course,  is the disgruntled loser in the squeaky tight gubernatorial contest won by Christine Gregoire and demogogued by talk radio.

Goldy explains:

John and Kirby cleverly launched I-912 at the peak of their election contest trial ratings-bump, tapping into the anger and disappointment of the hardcore Republican base. This initiative has always been more about sending a message than about rational public policy; it’s about sticking it to “Queen Christine” and the Democrats… consequences be damned. While almost-governor Rossi has never publicly endorsed the initiative, he hasn’t disabused the public of that notion either, passively allowing himself to be adopted as I-912’s martyred patron saint.

The Republicans are in a bind. The transportation bill passed with GOP legislators' help and their business base is very much opposed to its repeal.

Businesses overwhelming oppose I-912 because they understand how vital these transportation improvements are to the economy of the region and the state. They understand that if I-912 passes, the only alternative that could possibly enable urban voters to meet their own needs would be to devolve transportation spending to the regional level, a shortsighted and small-picture policy that would transform WA into a state of haves and have-nots, and undermine the stability on which future economic growth depends. Businesses oppose I-912 because they understand that it is recipe for gridlock, both political and actual.

Now his patrons in the business community need to make Rossi understand what they understand. And they need to make him understand that unless he supports them on this vital issue, they won’t be his patrons any longer. They need to ask him… “Where’s Rossi?”

Note that Scarlet Charmansky, The Stranger's Hem-Aphrodite sex columnist and Republican operative has been strangely quiet on this subject...odd because Carlson and Wilbur are her natural allies and have always supported his blogging efforts. This is an example of the secret transgender/Republican alliance against I-912. They should come out of the closet--everyone's seen them together anyway.

Goldy conitinues:

Sources tell me that the official no campaign, Keep Washington Rolling, secured $2 million in commitments, mostly from the business community, and that an intensive paid media campaign should be forthcoming by the end of the month. Apparently, I-912 opponents have managed to screw their courage bolstered by recent polls that show the initiative much more vulnerable than expected. But hidden in the details of the polling data is a tidbit that nicely sums up what I-912 is really all about. Pollsters tried pushing a number of issues to sway opinion, but only one managed to substantially swing voters from one side to the other.

The conclusion is clear: if Dino Rossi publicly opposes I-912… it loses.

Join Goldy on his daily vigil. Light a candle--it should be fun to watch.

August 08, 2005

35-64 or fight: the talk radio demographic that could save the world

In private emails and even on-air sometimes (when we're lucky) talk hosts from both sides of the political fence raise their voices to UPPER CASE and hang terrible names on BlatherWatch (like: YOU LYING PIECE OF CRAP or "that Blather-boob," or "the blathering idiot," or "dumb radio groupie" or "FRUSTRATED BROADCASTER WITHOUT A GIG" or "failed househusband").

They make withering remarks ("Just leave me the fuck alone and have fun on your little 'website.'") and threats, even ("Let me be clear: the next email from you will be considered harassment...") all of which hurt our feelings but add girth to the burgeoning pile of material for our upcoming memoir, SHUT UP! (We'll be naming names and givng IP addresses--it'll end talk radio as we know it.)

But surprisingly, this liberal blog has some healthy off-line relationships with conservative talkers who like to dialog, but prefer to keep it off the record for obvious reasons.

Last week we got some comments we found pretty interesting.

Continue reading "35-64 or fight: the talk radio demographic that could save the world" »

July 14, 2005

love & marriage, horse & carriage, power & talk radio...

If no other lesson is taken from the overwhelming success of the signature-gathering for I-912, the roads repair veto now on the ballot for November, it's the power of talk radio.

All the smoldering needed was to be ignited and the heat directed. KVI's John Carlson (m-f,3-6p) and Kirby Wilbur, (m-f, 5-9a) canny activists both, fanned those coals and made a blow torch for their political agenda, which was largely to undo the work of a Democratic Legislature and to once again undermine Governor Gregoire.

How easily people can be persuaded to act against their own self-interest!

We've been trying to convince Seattle politicos and media for years how potent talk radio  is; and after all that's gone before, the initiative campaigns, the 2004 elections, the Unvote Christine Gregoire attempt, we thought they'd gotten the message.

This morning on the Kirby Wilbur Show, (KVI m-f, 5-9) producer Kelly Miniss complained how hard it was to get people to come on the radio to defend the transportaion. 

There have been some courageous souls: our David "Goldy" Goldstein, of is always game and capable of a good debate; Rep. Ed Murray and a few others braved it, but filling the slots, day after day, Miniss said, was difficult, especially with the very legislators who worked so hard to craft and pass this measure.

That's unconscionable and politically retarded.

Keep Washington Rolling, the well-funded, too-little-too-late campaign should have effective speakers ready and willing to meet the public whereever they are--even if--especially if-- it's in drivetime on the conservative airwaves.

Instead, they act as if it were 1990, and these rude boyz exhorting the Outer Rings with their bullhorns from downtown Seattle don't exist.

They act like Tim Eyman is a mythical beast. (they were half right)

They acted as if all you have to be is right, and all you have to do is what you've always have done: combine the forces of The Washington Roundtable, the State Labor Council, the Governor's office, Seattle's biggest and wealthiest law firms, the editorial pages of the eight largest newspapers in the state, and the majority in both houses of the legislature and it'll all go away.

This strategy hasn't worked in years. Nobody cares about what business, or the unions think. People distrust lawyers and politicians.   Few read newspapers and of those who do, even fewer read the editorial pages.

But they trust the the blabberjockeys who pound the sand up their ass as they shower in the morning, or sit on the john, or in their cars in the evening gridlock.

Who this initiative really opposes, is not the "establishment elites," but a bipartisan majority of the people's duly-elected representatives.

For once, they did what we always say we want politicians to do: they did something that needed to be done, even though it was unpopular and easily demagogued.

The I-912 campaign has no transportation plan except they don't plan to pay more for gas. The alternative they have to fixing the roads is not fixing the roads.

We enjoyed (in that sick way you can get to enjoy prostate exams after a while) the Post Intelligencer's Joel Connelly's right-on, but depressing Wednesday litany of how these campaigns usually go.

I-912 stands a good chance of passage, especially if our state's political class continues to flunk elementary tests of voter attitude. With Tim Eyman usually playing the music, we've grown accustomed to a "tax revolt tango" at election time. Its steps:

-- With money from business and labor, an ample or at least adequate war chest is raised to fight the initiative. Boeing and Microsoft are inevitably the biggest givers.

-- Over-the-hill Olympia lobbyists and consultants waste the war chest, shooting down every original idea. They produce a dreary TV spot, showing a Boeing machinist saying the initiative makes life tougher for working people.

--A team of "wise men," consisting of former GOP Sen. Slade Gorton plus a present or former Democratic governor, tours civic clubs warning of dire consequences should the initiative (or referendum) pass.

--Every major newspaper in the state runs stern editorials urging voters to be responsible and defeat the initiative. A pre-election Elway Poll finds support beginning to erode, giving hope to initiative opponents.

-- The initiative passes, garnering 51 percent to 55 percent of the vote. It loses in populous King County, but wins in 34 or 35 of the state's 39 counties.

The fairly narrow majority has several elements.

Conservative media deliver the message to their drilled true believers. Republican activists, shut out of the state house for two decades, retaliate against perceived spending plans by "liberals." Once a font of support for good roads, Eastern Washington uses the vote to register anger at perceived Puget Sound-area dominance.

Measures such as I-912 give voters a chance, like Mel Gibson in "Braveheart," to lift skirts and bare behinds at the nobility.

Pundits play a predictable role. We sternly lecture the electorate, join consultants in predicting voters will see the light, and shake our heads at the outcome.

Is there any reason to believe it'll be different this time?

July 05, 2005

the judge slaps 1-912, transparency, fairness wins, kvi lowers its ad rates!

We were heartened by last Friday's Thurston County Superior court rulings against the talk radio generated anti-road repair initiative, I-912.

Judge Christopher Wickham directed the initiative backers to disclose all their donors' identities immediately or forego their contributions. The group had been stalling on identifying donors they claim were held up in a PayPal refusal to give up the identities of payees.

Apparently suspicious of why these funders' names had remained hidden up so close to the deadline, the judge didn't buy their excuses. They'll reportedly have to forfeit some 20k from these mysterious donors they were unable or unwilling to name.

Nearer and dearer to our hearts was Wickham's ordering KVI Radio and Fisher Broadcasting to report the value of the two talk-show hosts' comments promoting Initiative 912.

"Each host is entitled to his own opinion on the issues of the day," Dennis Kelly, a top official at Fisher Broadcasting, KVI's parent company told AP's Dave Ammons. "We don't agree with the premise of the ruling. If the judge's ruling holds, it will have a chilling effect on talk and news shows across America."

Dennis Kelly is a blatherWatch fan, we've heard, (could be because of our hard-hitting reporting on arch-rival KIRO's problems) but he's wrong here. He and John Carlson spin this as a freedom of speech issue which it is not.

If Carlson and Wilbur had left their months of wall-to-wall daily infomercials to only "opinions on the issues," there'd be no problem. It's the organizing, strategizing, and being an on-air logistical clearing house that we always thought goes against campaign dislosure rules. We're glad the law agrees.

(I-912's consultant, Brett Bader says they're considering an appeal--if this is such a slam-dunk breech of First Amendment rights, they'll have no problem prevailing. We have a feeling, however, we won''t be hearing about this again, because this claim is cynical and bogus and made by operatives for whom the First Amendment isn't so much of a right as it is a useful political tool to be used or trod upon as needed).

Later in the day, Kelly complied with the Judge by estimating that the in-kind help was worth $20,000 to the campaign — $10,000 apiece for the two hosts for the month of May.

(Of course, there's part of April and all of June to estimate, but we're sure they'll come up with those numbers soon. (BlatherWatch noted as this campaign got started on April 28)

What we're really excited about is the apparent lowering of KVI ad rates. Our liberal candidates should now be able to buy entire talk-shows for months on end on the usually hyper-expensive drive-times at bargain basement prices.

June 28, 2005

lisa brown, good governing, bad broadcasting, fear, loathing, and sensible shoes...

Evergreen Politics' Lynn Allen spoke with the Lisa Brown, the Eastern Washington University professor of economics who is Senate Majority Leader (D-Spokane) and the only Democratic senator from Eastern Washington. Read her excellent interview here.

Lynn gives Brown a forum to go back and look at the 2005 legislature and take an inventory.

It came up looking pretty good.

(We talked with Brown a few times in 2001, as she was beginning in leadership as the new chair of the powerful Senate Ways & Means Committee. Her grasp of the numbers and the incumbent political situation was dazzling. And with all that wonk, she has great sense of humor and a down-to-earth lets-get-it-done attitude of a politician who's in it for a calling higher than her own ego. Brown is in the our state's proud lineage of smart women in power: Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell and Christine Gregoire. We, for one, hope she stays in politics and  continues to make her way up the food chain).

Brown talks about one of the most productive sessions in memory. They took risks, got a lot done. Some of it was bitter medicine for an ailing state hurting because of the gridlock of recent sessions with close majorities and dwindled revenues. Not all they accomplished will go down easy with the voters--brave solons from both parties have some 'splainin' to do in their districts.

It's the ability of Democrats to do the splainin' that worries us.

Lisa Brown says:

We have to be able to do a better job of telling our story. We grapple with the issue of communication. For example, the state is now faced with the possibility of this anti-tax initiative. We worked very hard to get support from community leaders, business leaders and labor across all the cities and counties in Washington State for passage of the Transportation Bill. The whole story about the importance of that bill and its support by such a wide group of people is not getting out. It is being characterized as a ten cent tax increase when we were very careful to phase in the additional taxes, a few cents at a time over several years.

This bill, was painfully worked out in a responsible, thoughtful, legislative sausage machine that included the usual public input, open hearings, spite, malice; plus uncommon give & take between Eastsiders/Westsiders, Democrats/Republicans, dog/cats, fish/fowl, stalkers and dreamers.

This not unminor miracle is being threatened by an opportunistic, faux populist uprising fired-up by neocon talk-jocks John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur.

They're not only pumping their listenership with fear and loathing, they're organizing and directing the logistics of the hurry-up signature gathering effort on-air.

They're both Republican operatives and county by county, the Grand Old Party is supporting this to spite their face...nothing new there--pass it with the left hand, smack it down with the right. This existential political strategy will bite them in the end, but for now it's working with a public seemingly afflicted with political attention deficit disorder.

The only Republicans to support it are the Mainstream Republicans, who haven't had any clout in the party since Reagan.

Conventional wisdom says the initiative will pass if it gets on the ballot. The opposition has little to counter all this other than some meager legal hopes that this may be found unfair or improper.

Meanwhile, the veto campaign romps through the legal loopholes.

Democrats have a communications problem right here in liberal Seattle, where where 60% of the state's electorate resides and a Republican can't get elected for love or money (though they haven't tried the former lately).

Instead, they run dual, but paradoxical messages over the right-wing airwaves of KVI and KTTH. In one ear they pound the rigorous drivel of hard-ass, narcissistic civic libertarianism that would cut the feet from beneath any public attempt to provide a safety net or any government help for individual citizens.

If they had their way, they'd take government out of education, highways, the environment. There'd be no Social Security, no food stamps, no help for the disabled, or families in financial crises. They want you all in your cars, but they won't fix the roads! 

Simultaneously, in your other ear, they're sermonizing away at your rights by preaching a hidebound, moralistic, loveless, faith-based, legalistic, anti-sex, antihuman message that strives to pass laws to stifle medical research, dictate your family's choices about life and death all based on their own religious dogma.

They want the government to be able to regulate what you can read, watch on TV, who you sleep with, and would withhold your rights, take away your birthday, or even lock you up if your choices might deviate from their secular mandates.

And somehow, the economic conservatives (who have the interests of business in their hearts) have convinced the Bible-thumpers, that their cold-blooded message is biblical!

These are the messages that talk radio is repeating day in and day out and has been for 15 years. Like reprogramming methods from a Chinese prison camp, the repetition over time changes the molecular structure of the brain cells of the unsuspecting, the under informed, the already pissed-off, and the naive.

Folks, there are no other loudspeakers out there worth talking about, here in act-locally country. The message they send to politicians is: if you act, you'll be punished, if you don't act, you'll be punished.

We're damn lucky we can attract anyone with the capabilities and commitment of a Lisa Brown to elected service. But how long can that last?

June 25, 2005

anti-roads repair I-912--grassroots or astroturf?

We were hoping someone would call the I-912 campaign on this travesty of democracy.

And by god, they have...

We speak of the amazing meat & potatoes promotion; the blatant smoke & mirrors misrepresentations; and the nuts & bolts campaign work done on talk radio to promote the anti-road repair initiative, I-912.

KVI drive time jocks, and Republican activists, Kirby Wilbur and John Carlson thought up this initiative, and have been shamelessly tub-thumping it on their popular right-wing talk shows.

Born of the rage over the failed Rossi for governor campaign which irresponsible R's dragged into court and decisively lost, this initiative is designed to be a stick in the eye for the Democratic Legislature and Governor Gregoire. It's tailored to usurp the power of a duly elected legislature, to which the Republicans could not get duly elected.

Sound suspicious? That's because these phony grassroots are actually AstroTurf manufactured by partisan Republicans.   

The massive bill was passed with help of some very brave Republicans--now being savaged daily on KVI.

KVI talkers not only advocate the hell out of their negative, obstructionist spoiler, but do all manner of organizing--like arranging for initiative drops, letting campaign workers network logistics on-air and generally broadcast as a clearing house for all things 9-12.

The opposition, Keep Washington Rolling under the auspices of San Juan County and the cities of Auburn, Kent and Seattle asked a judge Wednesday to stop gas tax increase foes from raising and spending money. Their suit alleges, among other things, that the hours of radio time given by Fisher Broadcasting to this campaign were in fact, unreported campaign contributions.

The suit also seeks a preliminary injunction and penalties to stop I-912 campaign organizers from spending money from unidentified sources. A hearing is set for July 1.

We're not sure if this is a legal or regulatory problem for them or not, the judge will decide. But we're sure that all this airtime being used for free for this Republican agenda item is, on the face of it, unfair. BlatherWatch doesn't advocate re-invoking the Fairness Doctrine, but this is the kind of political abuse on the public airwaves that it was written to prevent.
For us, this points up the need for local progressive talkers unafraid to talk in depth about local issues.

No opposition could afford to pay for the hours and hours of radio time to match those given to this campaign by Wilbur, Carlson and Fisher Broadcasting.

Carlson says this bill is vague, "I just want to know where my money is being spent." Duane, our regular reader and loyal opposition, listens to this crap and writes,: "I signed the anti-gas tax initiative me when you actually have some PLANS for the money you want to collect."

We suggest to Duane and everyone else who has made up their minds by listening to Carlson & Co., to click on this and actually read the very specific projects named in the roads repair bill.

The list is long with roads and bridges projects long overdue. Every county in the state is don't think those Republicans (and Democrats) would take all this political risk if they weren't getting something very real for their districts?

By the way, the Keep Washington Rolling people, (who might be too little, too late) is a bipartisan collection of business, labor, environmentalists, Republican legislators and citizens like former Republican governor, Dan "Straight Arrow" Evans who are concerned that this good and brave legislative work will be undone by these negative anti-tax demagogues who truly offer no alternative.

Please, don't sign I-912.                                                                                                    NWPT54

June 20, 2005

there oughta be a law...kvi, john carlson, & kirby wilbur's dirty anti-road repair I-912 campaign

We're not lawyers, but can this heavy stumping for the No Road Repairs Initiative heard daily on KVI's morning and evening drive time talk shows by Kirby Wilbur (m-f, 5-9a) and John Carlson (m-f, 3-6p) be legal?

These guys, both long time GOP operatives, are not only drumming their message--that this is about gas taxes--into the heads of 1000's day in and day out, but they're organizing and brainstorming petition distribution; making signature-gathering plans and strategies with the campaign workers and volunteers among their listeners. 

This is grossly unfair. The opposition couldn't buy this valuable airtime--no activist group could afford even a fraction of the continuous daily political infomercials afforded the Just Say No To Roads campaign by these talk shows.

These are public airwaves, they do not belong to this Republican cabal bent on vetoing a roads repair package passed painfully by a Legislature who, for once, did something both important and brave. 

The fact is, there's a billion dollars and decades worth of work needed on state roads and only two legal ways to fix or build roads and bridges: car tabs and gas taxes. Tim Eyman neutralized the car tab option years ago, leaving only gas taxes.

Even though some brave Republicans (now being savaged on KVI) helped pass this much needed package, the GOP is endorsing the anti-roads bill county by county.

It's a cynical Karl Rove neocon strategy in micro, using talk radio to demagogue an issue making Democrats look bad in a state where R's can't get elected--and damn the consequences.

Here's what this is really about:

I-912 is designed to embarrass a Democratic Legislature and Governor Gregoire.

I-912 is meant to win Republicans power and influence disproportionate to their minority status.

I-912 is made to drive up Carlson and Wilbur's already considerable clout in the Republican Party.

I-9-12 is designed to keep government barefoot and pregnant---at least while the Democrats are in charge.

I-912 is to defeat Democrats and elect Republicans.

KVI has been used as a mouthpiece for illegal or questionable political campaigning before. Mike Siegel,(KTTH m-f,6-9a) on KVI back in the '90's, ran an entire (losing) campaign for a pissed-off woman running against a legislator who Siegel hated. He's not helping with I-912, (too many pother huge egos in the room for him) but he's tub-thumping Tim Eyman's latest initiative (something to do with monkeys) and riding the coattails of the Carlson/Wilbur efforts. Many signature gatherers carry both petitions, according to what callers say on the Carlson show.

In 1997, Carlson tried to run the anti-affirmative action initiative campaign on-air from KVI even though he was being paid by them. When 2,500 mostly black high schoolers marched around the station with signs reading "KKK: KVI, Karlson, KOMO," Fisher Broadcasting, faced with a broadside of blistering editorials and retreating advertisers, fired him.

But Carlson came back to KVI a hero and victim of political persecution after the measure passed--as if winning exonerated him for the unfair and illegal practices that got him fired.

The opposition is led by Citizens led by Republican ex-Governor Dan Evans, and former Democratic Seattle Mayor Wes Uhlman (an ex-Assoc. of Washington Business President) and Richland Republican Rep. Shirley Hankins.

Carlson's usual allies, like the business community, are joining environmentalists, labor and responsible Republicans to fight this irresponsible partisan maneuver.

Carlson slurs them as "elites," but no matter how elite they are, they're at a tremendous and unfair disadvantage trying to counter in kind the unfair way this is being promoted gratis on the radio.

We beg the Public Disclosure Commission to look at this. Initiatives have become potent political tools for special interests---this time, for Republican partisan surrogates. NWPT54

June 08, 2005

the tough get going

They're so full of rage.

After a fair judge decisively put the hammer down on Dino Rossi's bald-faced attempt to hijack Gov. Christine Gregoire's election, local Republican neocons never stopped raging about fraud and criminality. No matter that the judge completely exonerated hapless King Co. election officials of any malfeasance.

The next morning, they weren't nursing hangovers as any decent liberal would be doing after such a boot in the ass.

No. The tough were gettin' going.

Morning man Kirby Wilbur (KVI m-f, 5-9a) ceremoniously pushed the export button and starting transferring listeners' gubernatorial unvote rage over to the KVI-inspired, anti-road improvements initiative I-912.

"Queen Christine," is what Wilbur calls the person we now know for sure will live in the Governor's mansion for the next 3.5 years.

(Funny how right-wingers resort to class-baiting when it suits them).

Wilbur's litany of outrages starts with the stadium you voted against, but got anyway; the Legislature's suspension of the revenue-busting I-601 you voted for; the court's overturn of your $30 car tab initiative; and now the martyrdom of blessed St. Dino the Duly Unelected.

Don't get mad, get a petition, says Wilbur.

They're already mad. And that toxic peevishness is what drives this demagogic Republican push to veto the long overdue roads repair and expansion package passed so painfully by a bipartisan legislature.

Rage-transference completed, the mighty bull horn and great clanking KVI political machine kept well-oiled by Wilbur and fellow KVI blabberjock, John Carlson (m-f, 3-6p) started up with a field office, lots of money, multi-county organizers spreading throughout the state, a website with downloadable petitions, and allegedly, 8000 volunteers brimming with the passion of the pissed-off.

They know that citizens' feelings of political powerlessness, cynicism about politicians and government that talk radio nurtures daily; and prices at the gas pump will make just about any ol' you or me, stop in the Costco parking lot and sign-up to save 9 cents on the gallon. Then we'll drive out into the gridlock and cursing the shortsighted politicians for failing to fix the roads.

With the foresight inherent in pissing your pants to stay warm, Republicans, with the help of talk radio, have fostered an angry culture of no new taxes, no matter what.

This really isn't about a gas tax, it's about Republicans sticking it in the eye of a Democratic legislature and a Democratic governor. It's about grabbing the Democrats' victory, beating them over the head with it, then throwing it in the garbage can.

It's about electing Dino Rossi to another office--either Senator Maria Cantwell's next year, or Gregoire's in 2008.

The talk-jocks are careful to stay within in the loopholes of the law--and there's plenty of room. John Carlson learned the hard way in 1998, being fired at KVI after he took a paid position as director of the anti-affirmative action initiative effort, and promoted the hell out of it on his show.

Carlson and Wilbur take no positions, paid or otherwise on the campaign staff--others ostensibly run it so they're free to bump it with a trumpet over the public airwaves. These efforts have given these two tremendous power in the Republican Party.

The Republicans keep it legal by endorsing the initiative after the fact. So far, Kitsap and Pierce Co. Republicans have endorsed the measure--expect similar hosannas from a hallelujah choir of county committees.

It's send-a-message-politics that's narrow and partisan. It will bite the R's in the butt someday and already has.

But do we have an organizational infrastructure anything like this to fight back?

The answer is no, of course. Wilbur & Carlson do specific GOP strategic political business on the airwaves Monday through Friday to 10’s of 1000’s people trapped in their cars. Think how many meet-ups, rallies, teach-ins, hearings, meetings, demonstrations this is equal to...and it happens twice a day! Add in other talk radio conservatives like Dori Monson, Bryan Suits, Frank Shiers, Mike Siegel, Lou Pate. They're not such hard party liners, but they add gasoline to the Republican’s hoked-up wildfires 80% of the time.

People who care about good government and ending the long delay in fixing the roads, must avoid this petition like a dose of clap.

May 28, 2005

is the talk radio anti-roads initiative dead?

A serious blow--perhaps, we hope, mortal--was dealt Friday to the KVI talk radio push to put I-912 on the November ballot. It's an initiative proposal that would veto the road-fixing transportation package with its 9-cent gas hike recently passed by the Legislature.                                              

Citizens led by Republican ex-Governor Dan Evans, and Democratic ex-Seattle Mayor Wes Uhlman (an ex-Assoc. of Washington Business President) using attorneys from Seattle’s prestigious law firm, Preston Gates petitioned the court to tweak the ballot title and postpone the whole process into July.

The business community, always conservative and against taxation, is reportedly whole-hardedly  opposing this  demogoguery.

“They’re just gold-lined punks,” said Carlson, and labeled the group’s proposed ballot title changes, “cosmetic.”

This initiative chances at qualifying, with only 42 days left for signature gathering, is considered tenuous at best. To qualify in such a short time is rare in state history.

It’s now in legal limbo. The judge agreed to talk about it again in court on Tuesday.

The last minute maneuver at the beginning of a 3-day Memorial Day weekend with its large public gatherings, lost a valuable--we're hoping vital--signature-gathering period for the petitioners.

The effort will cost the initiative campaign extra money for attorneys’ fees and court costs. Carlson and Wilbur begged supporters to redouble their fundraising efforts and to donate more.

Carlson and fellow talk host Kirby Wilbur swore Friday to "fight on" despite the much slimmed down chances of success.

To read the well-reasoned case against this reactionary anti-roads initiative, go to and learn how you can fight this blatent special interest demogoguery   

May 10, 2005

undoing the legislative session: kirby wilbur and john carlson flex their muscles

Well, they did it--they achieved their goal. KVI talk hosts, GOP operatives Kirby Wilbur (KVI 6-9a) and John Carlson have raised they say, $80k, well over their $25,000 goal in just 3 days. they say they have 5000 committed volunteers.

And what’s the cause? Is it to support the troops? To help Iraqi War veterans, shortchanged by the Bush administration? Are they giving aid and comfort to victims of the disastrous Bush tax cuts for the rich? Is it help for the widows and children of boys in the trenches?

No. These humanitarians are mobilizing to overturn by initiative the first transportation package to be passed in years. Recently passed with bipartisan support by the Legislature, the bill would begin the federally mandated replacement of the quake-vulnerable Alaska Way Viaduct; expand the antiquated 405 bridge and o horrors, help mass transit.

The bill‘s mortal sin, of course, is that it raised the gas tax by 9 cents. Raising taxes on gas is the only way left by the state to raise highway funds. Shortened in order to swing bipartisan help, it’s just the top of a long list of road projects long neglected because of Tim Eyman’s disastrous I-695 and hypocritical Republican neglect of state highways roads despite their fervent faith in the principle of one man/one car.

It’s irresponsible demagoguery to monkey-wrench a difficult job done by duly elected officials.

Wilbur and Carlson have done it before--in 2002, they defeated another 9 cent tax increase whose revenues were designated for highways. Afraid to let go of the tiger’s tail, they’ve colluded with tax grump Tim Eyman in his irresponsible initiative efforts and in the process sold out their own dubious principles.

Wilbur reached out Monday to his morning KTTH counterpart Mike Siegel (m-f, 6-9a) asking him and his eleven listeners to join the KVI blabberjockeys in the political effort.

This is rare in talk radio, where strict protocol dictates that rival talk hosts and other stations are never mentioned on-air. But Siegel, never a ratings rival to the mighty Wilbur, has apparently blown off the overtures, presumably to give his full attention to his hair transplantation.

Wilbur and Carlson are carrying on this campaign (as always) as activists for a State Republican Party bogged down financially and in every other way by their quixotic (and failing--see horsesass' excellent analysis here) gubernatorial unvote efforts.

Getting an initiative on the ballot in this short of time is remarkable. The power inherent of these two broadcasters would be frightening to behold, if they pull this off. Even Republicans should be wary--especially those who signed on to the transportation package.

If successful, this campaign would be a flexing of political muscle unprecedented by any movement we’ve seen in this state in modern times. And need we stress again? It’s by talk radio!