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Originally published Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 12:00 AM


Letters to the editor

A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.

Party orchestration

The players may improvise a few numbers

Editor, The Times:

As the Democratic primary race tightens, we now learn of 796 quite powerful superdelegates, "party insiders," some elected, some not, who attend the national convention and can support whomever they like.

As I understand it, the successful Democratic nominee for president needs 2,025 delegates to win. In that context, 796 is a big number. The media report that superdelegates were created in 1982 to enable party insiders to "temper the zeal of party activists."

Frankly, I am shocked to learn that the power of the people is diluted by unaccountable superdelegates. Further, this appears to be fertile ground for backroom deals, quid pro quo and other potential skulduggery.

Washington state has 78 democratic delegates. They were elected at caucuses where neighbors, co-workers, students, elderly and others came out in droves to participate. Remarkably, nationwide, a group of 796 people has 10 times the voting power of all the delegates elected at the caucuses in Washington.

I hope this system does not implode into an ugly, confusing mess at the convention and weaken the party in November. In the long run, we need to get rid of this system of superdelegates and let the people decide.

— Daryl Grigsby, Kirkland

A few standards

How about some loves songs while we wait for the fat lady

The Times makes the claim that Sen. Barack Obama won the equivalent of 52 of 78 delegates and Sen. Hillary Clinton won 26 ["State caucus: Obama wins 52 delegates," Times page one, Feb. 13, but see "Fixing error gives Obama sweep of all state's counties," News, Feb. 13].

While in the strictest sense there is truth in this pronouncement, it should be noted that these numbers are not the final tally and could change.

The way our caucus system works, all of the thousands of delegates who were pledged to one candidate or the other at the precinct caucuses are free to change their allegiance before the number of delegates is winnowed down to the final 78 that will be dispatched to the National Convention in Denver on August 25-28.

There are still three more opportunities remaining for all of them to switch sides even before that date. There are the legislative district caucuses, the congressional district caucuses, and the state convention being held this year on June 14 in Spokane.

Also, once they arrive in Denver, they will be allowed to change their minds yet one more time and cast their support for whomever they wish.

At each juncture, both campaigns will attempt to lure delegates from one camp to the other, also wooing any uncommitted delegates, of which I am one, along with any of those delegates who were awarded to the other minority candidates back at the precinct caucuses.

As Yogi Berra once so wisely said, "It ain't over till it's over."

— Marshall Dunlap, Kent

Autumn leaves

I, along with thousands of other citizens in this state, have been disenfranchised by the Democratic Party. Those who that had to respond to their workplace could not attend the caucus. Those who voted by absentee ballot as Democrats had their ballots thrown out and not counted. Those of us who are infirm and/or in retirement homes who could not withstand the rigors of the caucus system could not vote. Polling places on Feb. 19 will throw out the ballots for those who declare the Democratic Party.

I pride myself as a Democrat and a longtime voter in every election. I am mad and my anger is so profound that come November, I will make no mark by the name of the Democratic candidate for president. I will vote for the other party, where my vote will count.

— William Thurmond, Kirkland

A night to remember

To promote democracy, our elections must be our most honored national holiday. Our election holiday could last up to four days, with voting Saturday through Monday. The polls could close at the same time in each time zone throughout the nation, all the way to the most Western time zone, Hawaii.

On Tuesday at noon, with all the polls closed, the voting results could be officially released from the "local election commissions." Polling results could not be legally released or broadcast before the official release of "local polling data." This delay would promote political discussion with candidates on the local level during this most revered of our holidays.

This would, in fact, teach the civil values we claim with our words on other, less meaningful holidays. Nearly all eligible citizens would vote.

— Jeff Tanner, Seattle

Dis masquerade

Once again, the voters of the state of Washington have been "dissed" — disrespected, dismissed, discounted, disdained, dishonored and/or disallowed by the Republican and Democratic parties. This time, it is how the votes are counted and configured during the caucus and primary. The Republican Party will divide votes between the caucus votes and the poll votes.

The caucus votes are not reflective of "one person, one vote." Only the poll votes count each person's vote. The Democratic Party will disenfranchise all poll votes.

Not only are the leaders of the parties trying to control us, they are showing the same "dissing" attitude toward the candidates. The disrespect shown to candidates Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards during the debates was uncalled for.

Luke Esser, chair of the Republican Party of Washington, prematurely declared John McCain victorious ["Mike Huckabee wants retraction, caucus recount," News, Feb. 11], with 83 percent of the caucus votes counted and only 2 percentage points separating McCain from Mike Huckabee. (It brings to my mind the Harry Truman-Thomas Dewey election and the faulty prediction then. Will we ever learn?)

Dennis Kucinich, John Edwards, John McCain and Mike Huckabee were all "dissed." What a shame.

— Elizabeth Williams, Burien

It don't mean a thing

As a good citizen, I try to vote for the best policies and candidates. I am outraged that my vote will be thrown out if I do not pledge an oath to the Democratic or Republican Party. Our country is tearing itself apart over party lines when we should be uniting for a common cause — the good of our people!

Our Founding Fathers must be spinning in their graves.

— Gene Davis, Lake Forest Park

Till there was you

I read with horror the letters to the editor published Wednesday by The Seattle Times. Letter after letter claiming purposeful disenfranchisement of people by the political parties, that the superdelegates have already cast their vote, that the parties are acting in an antithetical way to the American ideals, that the caucus system is designed to help insiders keep a stranglehold on the primary system.

The selection of a Saturday afternoon was to maximize the ability of people to participate in the caucus.

Caucuses have been held in this state since 1892, our first opportunity to participate fully in the selection of a U.S. president after Washington state was officially incorporated in 1889.

I know I can't begin to correct all of the misconceptions and misinformation in a single letter, but I do want to address the false conclusion that the political parties are the problem, either within this presidential primary cycle or in general.

The political parties consist of the people who get involved. I walked into my first local political party meeting knowing nothing. Over the past four years, I have learned a great deal about how the system works. It's frustrating sometimes, but there are reasons for every decision at every step of the process. If you complain about the results without trying to get an understanding of where those results came from, you are letting the process work without you.

If you want your voice heard, please get involved. If you don't understand the process, please ask.

Get onto the field and help us play the game. Here's a helmet. Here are the rules. Learn by doing, and lead by example. Get engaged, get educated, and feel empowered.

Nothing will change in a direction that you can appreciate until your feet hit the ground. Trust me, I know.

— Chad Lupkes, chair, Washington State Progressive Caucus, King County representative for 46th District Democrats, Seattle

The human condition

Poor things stay the same

I see that King County Executive Ron Sims is at it again, advocating big-government intervention to change the human condition; demonstrating, once again, that he knows more than he understands ["Equity and social justice," guest commentary, Feb. 10].

When I see the phrase "equity and social justice," I see it clearly as a code phrase for socialism. Unfortunately, liberal politicians and social engineers seem to believe that the failure of socialism — a form of control that has utterly failed in every place it's been tried — is due simply to the fact that they were not in charge.

The inequality of which Sims speaks has been and always will be with us because inequality is a relative term. It is an unassailable fact that the poor in this country as a whole, are — relatively — far better off than the poor in many, if not all, other countries in the world.

That there is inequality is the result of many individuals being unwilling to take advantage of the opportunities provided. If you are of low intelligence, uneducated, engaged in criminal activity, at a young age raising fatherless children, or have chosen to lead a life scourged by alcoholism or drugs, you will be poor, and your life will be unequal to those who have not made those horridly bad decisions in their lives.

By virtue of individual differences — and not, as Sims believes, some unfair advantage — there will always be those who are more successful than others. This will never change.

That said, I believe that most people believe that everyone deserves a second chance, but not necessarily a third. Never-ending, pious, hand-wringing, weepy-eyed, indiscriminate compassion on the part of people like Sims only enable profligate behavior and will never end what Sims sees as inequality, but what the rest of us see and understand as part of the never-changing human condition.

What we do not need is a new government bureaucracy, confiscating the sweat of our brows through taxation, and pouring our money down another social-engineering rathole without a prayer of success.

— Dale Williams, Sammamish

Unless they change

I read Ron Sims' eloquent call to action (and notice the new King County Equity and Social Justice Initiative) with high hopes for the future of our county.

Sims' call to action is reminiscent of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s polemic missive, "Letter from Birmingham Jail" (1963), in which Dr. King defends his involvement in the civil-rights struggle outside his home of Atlanta, in part, by stating "[i]njustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

What was true 45 years ago is true today: A just society must be 100 percent just.

What Sims argues is the same: Unjust conditions in part of King County is unjust to all of King County.

If we work together to spread justice, everybody's lot in life will be raised, regardless of your current situation.

— Bruce Skillin, Seattle

The feminist question

Say yes to progress

Thanks so much for Leonard Pitts Jr.'s excellent "Prepare yourselves, readers, for liberal use of the 'F' word" [syndicated column, Feb. 10]. It's refreshing to hear a man come out boldly as a feminist, when some women are afraid to.

The backlash against feminism has caused many women, young and older, to buy into the anti-feminist hype, although they believe in the goals of the women's liberation movement and owe a lot to their much-abused foremothers.

Unfortunately, many young women are rudely awakened when the dreams they aspire to are blocked by low-paying jobs, old boys' clubs, unwanted pregnancy and stifling relationships.

Pitts' column can cause them to re-examine their assumptions — and emerge as Radical Women, like the group I belong to. As Pitts says of his daughter, they're feminists, they just don't know it yet.

— Helen Gilbert, Seattle

Slim fast

Instant weight-loss Mint

Regarding "Stop making cents" [editorial, Feb. 14]: Make them out of aluminum! Stamp out those pennies and provide states like Washington, that have sales tax, a way to make change.

Anodize them copper colored if you want — or bright red! We can then still refer to one as a "red cent."

When I was a boy, the state of Washington minted aluminum tax tokens, worth three for a penny, until stopped by the federal government.

The federal Mint could turn to aluminum now, to produce pennies. They would not cost much and the weight in a man's pocket could be reduced.

— Jerry Matchett, Edmonds

Down to 100 overnight

Income tax: $1,100

Stimulus: $1,200

Balance: $100

I'm feeling SOOOO stimulated.

— Mike Moore, Kent

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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