Sunday, October 31, 2010

Greenwald: "The wretched mind of the American authoritarian" (with video)

Glenn Greenwald, with video (00:31):
There are multiple common threads here: the cavalier call for people's deaths, the demand for ultimate punishments without a shred of due process, the belief that the U.S. is entitled to do whatever it wants anywhere in the world without the slightest constraints, a wholesale rejection of basic Western liberties such as due process and a free press, the desire for the President to act as unconstrained monarch, and a bloodthirsty frenzy that has led all of them to cheerlead for brutal, criminal wars of aggression for a full decade without getting anywhere near the violence they cheer on, etc. But that's to be expected. We lived for eight years under a President who essentially asserted all of those powers and more, and now have a one who has embraced most of them and added some new ones, including the right to order even American citizens, far from any battlefield, assassinated without a shred of due process. Given that, it would be irrational to expect a citizenry other than the one that is being molded with this mentality.

* * * * *

One of the most progressive ads of the election cycle comes -- ironically, sadly, and revealingly enough -- from Alaska's GOP incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski, against GOP nominee and tea party candidate Joe Miller:


"Arianna Discusses The Media And Jon Stewart's Rally To Restore Sanity On CNN's 'Reliable Source (with video)

HuffPo, with video (06:47) from CNN:
Arianna appeared on CNN's "Reliable Sources" on Sunday to talk about Jon Stewart's Rally To Restore Sanity, and his critique of the cable news media. "The rally was a high-wire act," Arianna told host Howard Kurtz. "But I think he really pulled it off magnificently."

"The message at the end is incredibly important -- what we in the media tend to cover, whether it's Balloon Boy, or Reverend Jones burning the Quran -- at the expense of other things that are happening around the country, where we put our magnifying glass, as he put it, is incredible important."

Ten-thousand people traveled to the rally from New York on 200 buses organized by HuffPost. "It was just amazing," Arianna said. "The fact that they were there, even though they had flown from other parts of the country. One of them had flown from Washington to get on a bus in NY to get to the rally. Because they wanted to have that sense of community and connection. And that is what you observed if you walked around the rally. It wasn't just what was happening on stage, it was what was happening among people there."

Arianna also disagreed with Kurtz's characterization of Stewart as a liberal commentator. "What makes him and Colbert special is the fact that they use satire to speak truth to power, whether that power is liberal, conservative, in the media, in politics. That's where their power comes from. And people who continue to see it as a sort of left-leaning show are completely missing its appeal." MORE...
Howie P.S.: Here's the complete transcript.

"Get Out the Vote Rally and FREE Concert with U.S. Senator Patty Murray"

PattyMurray.com:

Election Eve
Monday, November 1st
Doors open at 7:00pm


Neumos
925 East Pike Street
Seattle, WA 98122


Featuring:
Presidents of the United States of America
John Roderick • Sera Cahoone
Tomo Nakayama of Grand Hallway
Say Hi (solo) • The Young Evils (acoustic)
Joshua Morrison • Eric Anderson of Cataldo
Alex Robert of Black Whales

60 Minutes on I-1098--"Deficits: Taxing The Rich" (video)


CBS News, video (13:30):
David Stockman, Ronald Reagan's budget director who once preached tax cuts, is now in favor of putting a one-time surtax on the rich. Lesley Stahl reports and finds just such a proposal on the ballot in the state of Washington.

Live Stream: Trick or Treat @ The White House


WhiteHouse.gov.

"Ted Sorensen, John F. Kennedy Speechwriter, Obama Supporter, Dies At 82"


Verena Dobnik (HuffPo):
Sorensen's brain of steel was never needed more than in October 1962, with the U.S. and the Soviet Union on the brink of nuclear annihilation over the placement of Soviet missiles in Cuba. Kennedy directed Sorensen and Bobby Kennedy, the administration's attorney general, to draft a letter to Nikita Khrushchev, who had sent conflicting messages, first conciliatory, then confrontational.

The carefully worded response – which ignored the Soviet leader's harsher statements and included a U.S. concession involving U.S. weaponry in Turkey – was credited with persuading the Soviets to withdraw their missiles from Cuba and with averting war between the superpowers.

Sorensen considered his role his greatest achievement.

"That's what I'm proudest of," he once told the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald. "Never had this country, this world, faced such great danger. You and I wouldn't be sitting here today if that had gone badly." MORE...

Robert Reich on the Sanity Rally

Robert Reich:
And the vitriol emanating at all hours from rage radio, yell television, and Fox News – against immigrants, intellectuals, “coastal elites,” gays, and the President.

We’re better than this.

This is not respectful disagreement. It’s thuggery. It has no legitimate role in a democracy. And most Americans are fed up with it.

Sadly, we needed two comedians to remind us. MORE...

TPM: Xlnt "Reader Photos (60) From The Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear "

TPM, photo gallery:
Our estimable readers sent us in their pictures from Comedy Central's Rally to Restore Sanity And/Or Fear on Oct. 30, 2010. Here are some of the best.

"Going forward with loyalty and trepidation" with Obama

brooklynbadboy's front page diary On Kos:
The main reason I am sticking with President Obama is because he has confronted some of the toughest issues this country faces. For that, he stands in stark contrast to his predecessor. I do not always agree with the position the president has taken on issues, ranging from peace in the middle east all the way to trade policy. But on those fronts and many others, this president has confronted them--sometimes ably and effectively as with saving America's auto industry, sometimes incompetently as with the foreclosure crisis. Never before has a president faced such a myriad of major problems, both foreign and domestic. But rather than ignore them, this president has, for the vast majority of these issues, chose to deal with them For that, he deserves a great deal of respect and the loyalty of his party. MORE...
Howie P.S.: Some will say that the boy from Brooklyn has set the bar too low. My father grew up in Brooklyn. Maybe that's why I don't think so.

Prop 19: "Pot measure's immediate effect remains up in air"

In this photo taken June 12, 2010, a medical marijuana dispensary leaves its lights after hours on in Los Angeles. If voters approve a ballot initiative to legalize and allow the taxing of recreational marijuana, there are some new social scenarios that could play out in the days, weeks and months ahead. (AP Photo/Adam Lau)

Lisa Leff and Marcus Wohlsenap (AP):
SAN FRANCISCO -- Imagine it's the day after the election, and California awakes to a brave new state where marijuana is the same as alcohol, at least legally.

Does that mean anyone over 21 can head to the nearest medical marijuana club and buy pot for personal pleasure? Will police set up sobriety checkpoints to snare stoned drivers? Can Giants fans step outside a sports bar for a quick sidewalk toke or nibble on cannabis-infused cocktail munchies?

If voters approve a ballot initiative to legalize and allow the taxing of recreational marijuana, these are some of the new social scenarios that could play out in the days, weeks and months ahead. Proposition 19 would take effect immediately, although the drug will remain illegal under federal law.

Though the measure has recently fallen behind in the polls, its passage would mean that starting Wednesday adults could carry around up to an ounce of their own marijuana and related paraphernalia without fear of arrest by state and local authorities. They could also tend a home garden up to 25 square feet big and consume its fruits in a "nonpublic place," but not in parks, near schools or on the street.

Beyond that, the future gets hazier. MORE...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

"Zach Galifianakis Smokes a Joint on Bill Maher's Show" (video)


khormotion, video (01:09).

Howie P.S.: Released today, this video has 149,593 views, just now. More info on Zach here.

Thousands "Rally to Restore Sanity' in the Seattle Rain

photo by Alan Berner / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Lynn Thompson (Seattle Times):
The Seattle and Washington, D.C., rallies opened with "The Star-Spangled Banner" and ended with "America the Beautiful." Local organizer Jim Baum, a Maple Valley building inspector and farmer, said he was offended by tea-party activists asserting they "wanted their country back."

"Wait a minute," he said, "isn't it our country?"

Baum said he'd never organized anything, but when he heard about Stewart and Colbert's rally, he floated the idea of a Seattle satellite event on his Facebook page one Friday morning in mid-September. By the following Monday, he said, so many people had said they wanted to be involved that he started calling the city for permit.

His co-organizer Marjorie Osterhout, a Madrona mother, said she'd never attended a rally before Saturday. But she said she was disturbed by the attack ads on radio and television, and she wanted her 10-year-old son to know there were alternatives. MORE...
Amy Rolph (seattlepi.com):
The Seattle rally was attended mostly by fans of the comedians' Comedy Central shows. And while fandom went a long way to draw people to the early-morning event on a rainy day Saturday, some said there wasn't anything funny about their real reasons for attending.

"The national discourse has become very fractured, very extreme -- and even a little dangerous," said Seattle resident Robert Reeder.

He worried the country is headed for a "dumb place," and that he wanted to be a part of a movement calling for reason, even if he couldn't make the trip to Washington D.C. MORE...
Howie P.S.: David Goldstein went down and did the Twitter. Here are 26 photos by Joshua Trujillo (seattlepi.com).

Arianna and Jon Report from The Rally for Sanity (video)

Huffington Post-Arianna Huffington, video (02:07).


NECN/Comedy Central, with video (12:05):
"The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart took a break from the comedy routines at his "Rally to Restore Sanity" in Washington, D.C. to make a sincere plea to his audience.

He thanked everyone for coming, and cautioned that the event wasn't a counter-protest toward people of faith, people of activism, or people who live in America's "heartland." He blamed the media for creating a certain mania within the American public.

"If we amplify everything, we hear nothing," he told a crowd of cheers, and later said that the back-and-forth name-calling he continually sees on TV needs to stop, saying, "the press is our immune system, if it over-reacts to everything we actually get sicker."

Stewart said, "The country's 24-hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems. But its existence makes solving them that much harder."
Howie P.S.: Can't find any video of Colbert. I guess Fear stayed home. C-SPAN has posted video (03:06:04) of the whole damn thing. H/t to Peter Ray.

Arianna Visits Keith and Scolds Obama Before Departing on Her Bus to the Rally for Sanity (video)

HuffPo, video (03:58).

Howie P.S.: Arianna should listen more closely to Obama's words after he told Jon Stewart about the "heckuva job" Larry Summers did. He said the word "pun." This is an example of how humor can get you into trouble with the wrong audience. Some of her other criticisms are on the mark.

Ambinder: "How Wisconsin Got Away From Russ Feingold"

Marc Ambinder (theAtlantic):
Voters this year are in a mood. That mood is reflected in their willingness to take chances on newcomers without political experience. Fortunately for Johnson (and unfortunately for Feingold), this newcomer has a pretty clean background. His "gaffes" have been of the type that drive elites crazy, like opposing global warming science. I think the science is solid, but voters don't really care about that stuff this cycle.

Still, this race SHOULD be closer. But then again, maybe the common denominator is simply that Feingold is unafraid to be the avatar of an argument that Wisconsin residents are just going to reject this cycle. Health care isn't popular. The stimulus is considered wasteful. The economy is tough and jobs aren't coming back. The profile of the electorate is much more conservative. Wisconsin has been run mostly by Democrats for eight years. It's not in very good shape. Feingold represents all of that. He's with the in crowd. Johnson's with the out crowd. Case closed. MORE...
Howie P.S.: This strengthens my resolve to do GOTV for Patty Murray.

"Mad about reefer: City reviews pot policy following raid"

Medical Marijuana for sale in Calif. (Associated Press photo)

Chris Grygiel (seattlepi.com)
Following a controversial raid during which police busted down the door of Army veteran who uses marijuana for medical purposes, Mayor Mike McGinn said Friday the city would review how it deals with pot, which voters have told authorities to make the lowest possible law enforcement priority.

"It's not the policy, or the goal, of the city to investigate, arrest and prosecute individuals who possess small amounts of marijuana or...who are growing small amounts for medical use," McGinn said Friday in response to a question during a news conference. "So we are working with the police department, and we will reach out to the City Attorney's office, to address this at a policy level...I don't want to say that we have specific, concrete steps to address this, because we don't...but I expect we're going to have further announcements on how we're going to proceed in the near future." MORE...

Friday, October 29, 2010

"It's Morning In Griftopia: A Q+A With Author Matt Taibbi"

Aaron Lake Smith (GQ):
Matt Taibbi, the profane, provocative reporter for Rolling Stone, is a larger-than-life figure in modern political journalism. That's both literally true (he's a big guy: he once played for the MBA—that's the Mongolian Basketball Association) and figuratively true: he writes in a scorching, contemptuous style that gives the best of his work a cast of fire-breathing grandeur. Known primarily for blaspheming the Pope, labeling Goldman Sachs a "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity", and more recently, slinging a mug of hot coffee in the face of a Vanity Fair reporter, Taibbi is clearly a man of outsized emotions. His new book Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con that Is Breaking America [Spiegel & Grau] is a stinging new history of the financial crisis that heralds a return of Mencken-esque, dirt-under-the-fingernails American journalism. Griftopia delves into the shadowy world of collateralized debt obligations, credit default swaps and sovereign wealth funds, but he navigates the turgid money stuff with soaring sentences like "Greenspan's rise is…a tale of a gerbilish mirror-gazer who flattered and bullshitted his way up the Matterhorn of American power, and then, once he got to the top, feverishly jacked himself off to the attentions of Wall Street for twenty consecutive years." No one is spared. GQ caught up with Taibbi in a dark corner of a downtown Manhattan cafĂ© to discuss the new book, the Great Recession, the upcoming midterm elections and what lies beyond. MORE...

"Rally to Restore Sanity Seattle!"

:Sanity Seattle
Westlake Center

Saturday, Oct 30 at 9 a.m.

To quote Jon Stewart, we’re looking for the people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat; who feel that the loudest voices shouldn’t be the only ones that get heard; and who believe that the only time it’s appropriate to draw a Hitler mustache on someone is when that person is actually Hitler.

On a more serious note, Change.org says "It might seem like the only voice in politics these days is an angry one ... Political demagogues are pandering to the worst fears of Americans by weaving wild conspiracy theories and accusing entire groups of Americans of being socialists, Nazis, or terrorists."

It's kinda crazy that a call to sanity has to come from a comedy show. But this rally is no joke. Please join us to send a message: That sane, calm discussion is better than shrill, angry shouting.

MoveOn: "1310 Mercer FW: You (AND ME). This weekend.‏"

MoveOn:

If you read one thing about the election today, read this:

The New York Times' chief polling analyst just wrote, "If our forecasts turn out to be biased against Democrats by just 2 points overall, the party becomes about an even-money bet to hold the House." (And then they'd almost certainly keep the Senate, too.)

So a Democratic gain of 2 percentage points is enough to stop the takeover of Congress. And historically, a strong get-out-the-vote push can deliver at least that much on Election Day.

That's why the Patty Murray campaign has spent weeks carefully planning for the final push. But they've told us that they still need more volunteers in Seattle, in order to reach out to every Democratic voter who's at risk of staying home on Tuesday.

This election is still very winnable, and this weekend is the most critical of the entire election season. Can you sign up to volunteer for Patty Murray in Seattle?

Yes, I'll sign up to volunteer.

Sorry, I can't.

Here's a little more about why this race is so important: Karl Rove's shady corporate front group has spent 3.2 million dollars working to replace Senator Patty Murray with a corporate Republican. Patty is holding on to a tiny lead, but a loss here could hand Republicans the Senate, so a massive get-out-the-vote effort is critical.

Thanks for all you do.

–Adam, Laura, Duncan, Ilya, and the rest of the team

"Hi, I'm a Tea-Partier" (video)


ndintenfass, video (06:11):
A Tea Party Patriot tries to explain how our freedoms are in jeopardy.
H/t to Billy Bragg.

"60 Minutes covers I-1098 and the national debate on taxes. Tune in at 7pm on Sunday!"

60 Minutes (CBS News):
Ronald Reagan's budget director, who once championed the positive trickle-down effects of tax cuts, now says Republicans pushing to extend the Bush tax cuts should be ashamed of themselves. David Stockman tells Lesley Stahl that to continue tax cuts as the debt grows by $100 billion a month and not have the will to cut spending is "demagoguery."

Stahl's report on the tax controversy will be broadcast on "60 Minutes" this Sunday, Oct. 31, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
(SNIP)
Does the former budget director have a solution to the budget mess? He has a partial solution, which he says would cut the national debt in half: a one-time 15 percent surtax on the wealthy. Says Stockman, "Today, after serial bubble after serial bubble, the top five percent have a net worth of $40 trillion. The top five percent have gained more wealth than the whole human race had created prior to 1980," says Stockman.

But he acknowledges that such a tax would never be passed. "There's the rub," says Stockman. "We've demonized taxes…We've created almost the idea that they're a metaphysical evil."

A proposal for a similar tax on the richest residents is on the ballot in the state of Washington, which, like most states, faces huge deficits. Stahl goes there to report on it and to talk to the father of the person it will impact the most - Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Does Gates want to pay the many millions such a tax will cost him? "Well, 'wants' to is a little strong,"says his dad, Bill Gates, Sr. "He is for it. He's very willing." MORE...

"The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear Is Tomorrow! Watch it Live On-Air/Online Starting at 9am Pacific"

THE OFFICIAL "RALLY TO RESTORE SANITY" WEBSITE IS HERE!!!
· Get the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear App from iTunes.
· Check in with The Daily Show and Colbert Report on Foursquare.
· Follow along on Twitter @rally4sanity and @stephenathome.
· Donate to the Trust for the National Mall and DonorsChoose.org.
· Order official Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear gear.

Norm Stamper: "Why They Fight" (Legalization)

Norm Stamper:
The nation's drug war warriors (led by current and past DEA chiefs and drug czars) along with sideline apologists (timid politicians, blinkered editorialists), are resorting to a last-minute campaign of hair-afire hysterics in the effort to dissuade California's voters from voting Yes on Proposition 19. The initiative would, finally, sensibly, regulate, control and tax cannabis.

What's all the screeching about? The usual: marijuana is a gateway drug...law enforcement will not be able to detect or arrest people driving under its influence... employers will not be able to discipline or fire under-the-influence employees. Lies and red herrings, all. Also, they know Proposition 19 will pass if young, educated voters turn out.

But, what's the subtext? Why are anti-19 forces battling so frantically to defeat the smartest piece of drug reform legislation to come along since the repeal of alcohol prohibition?

Two words: money and identity. MORE...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Raid of medical marijuana patient raises questions about law, search"

Casey McNerthney (seattlepi.com):
Earlier this month, Seattle police raided a Leschi residence for a suspected illegal marijuana grow.

They didn't find one.

The case has raised questions of why police took such action when officers' evidence that there might be a grow operation there was a window fan and an odor they thought came from marijuana plants. The case also underscores the difficulties police have telling the difference between an illegal pot grow and a medical marijuana grow.

"There's no way for police to know if someone's a medical marijuana patient or not; there's no registry that exists," Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said.

But Alison Holcolmb, drug policy director of the Washington ACLU chapter, said police didn't follow their own guidelines to address whether the person was a medical marijuana user and failed to do basic investigative steps. MORE...

Mon Nov 1st: "JOIN US FOR A FREE GET OUT THE VOTE RALLY AND CONCERT with US SENATOR PATTY MURRAY"

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE

and performances by

PRESIDENTS OF THE USA
JOHN RODERICK
SERA CAHOONE
TOMO NAKUMURA OF GRAND HALLWAY
SAY HI (SOLO SET)
THE YOUNG EVILS (ACOUSTIC SET)
JOSHUA MORRISON
ERIC ANDERSON OF CATALDO
ALEX ROBERT OF BLACK WHALES


All playing your favorite folk songs
and MCed by LUKE BURBANK of Too Beautiful To Live.


FREE!! :: 7 pm doors :: ALL AGES

RSVP at www.pattymurray.com/seattle

HuffPo: "Bill Gates, Sr., Promotes 'Robin Hood' Tax On Washington's Wealthy" (with video)

Laura Bassett (HuffPo) with video:
Bill Gates, Sr., the father of Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates, is trumpeting a new state income tax in Washington for individuals who earn more than $200,000 a year or couples who earn more than $400,000 to benefit the state's public education and health systems.

The initiative, I-1098, would impose a personal income tax of up to nine percent on Washington's highest earners, but cut property and business taxes for small firms and homeowners. Washington is currently one of seven states with no personal income tax and the state has a history of strong public opposition to taxes.

Gates, who donated $600,000 in support of the measure, told reporters in a conference call on Wednesday that the tax would provide a "vital investment" of about $2 billion in Washington's underfunded public schools and health care facilities. MORE...

"The Three Billion Dollar Election"

UPDATE: Robert Reich says it's "Only $4.2 Billion To Buy This Election? The number of dollars spent isn’t the issue; it’s the lopsidedness of where the dollars come from."
Charles Kaiser (Hillman Foundation):
If corporate control of the state is a pillar of fascism–and it is–it’s hard to imagine what could have pushed us faster in that direction than last January’s decision by the Supreme Court in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission.

That decision made it possible for every corporation and fat cat from Boeing to David Koch to spend without limit to destroy any candidate they wish to destroy. If that strikes you as hyperbole, listen to what Rob Collins, the president of American Action Network, one of the leading Republican groups in this campaign season, said to Jim Rutenberg a couple of days ago in a great story in The New York Times:

“We carpet-bombed for two months in 82 races, now it’s sniper time. You’re looking at the battle field and saying, ‘Where can we marginally push — where can we close a few places out?’” MORE...

"Submachine Guns Drawn, Seattle Police Break Down Door of Medical Marijuana Patient, Push Him to the Floor, and Raid His Home—for Two Tiny Pot Plants"

UPDATE: Kirk Prindle tried to leave the following comment:
“How much public-endangering malfeasance and unnecessary violence must the people of Seattle endure before we see real change at SPD signalled with a change of leadership?

Under Diaz the people of Seattle have been terrorized with daily stories of police brutality and the murder of innocent civilians. The police did everything possible to endanger an innocent patient, an apartment complex, and an entire neighborhood with the wanton use of submachine guns. It is only shear luck that we do not have yet another Seattle resident dead or injured as a result SPD incompetency.

Mr. Mayor, the people of Seattle should not feel threatened by their police force: Get a new police chief that understands and respects the values of our Seattle communities.

What an absolute embarrassment.”

Dominic Holden (SLOG):
The Seattle Police Department and the mayor's office have repeatedly insisted that marijuana possession, per city law, is the lowest law enforcement priority. They also adhere, they say, to a state law that makes it legal for authorized patients to use and grow marijuana.

But last night provided evidence that Seattle police are willing to invest tremendous resources in the smallest of pot cases—even cases where the pot is legal—and the mayor’s office will remain silent.

Just before 9:00 p.m., officers at SPD’s East Precinct held a briefing about the complaint of marijuana at a four-unit apartment building in the Leschi neighborhood. One week earlier, officers applied for a search warrant from King County Superior Court, sent an officer with a K9 to sniff at the door, confirmed the scent of marijuana, and were in the process last night of planning a raid. “Once the briefing was completed, officers donned their raid equipment clearly marked ‘Police’ on all sides,” according to a draft incident report filed by police.

A cadre of between six and nine officers ran up the stairs; some carried MP5 submachine guns, others held pistols, and at least one held the battering ram. They pounded on the apartment door and said it was the police. MORE...


Harvey Wasserman: "George Washington ORDERS All Californians to Legalize Pot"

Harvey Wasserman:
A MESSAGE FROM THE FATHER OF YOUR COUNTRY:

Hello Californians.

What a lovely name. I only wish I had seen your countryside in my lifetime.

I am talking to you through Tom Paine to say that it is time to end this silly ban on smoking hemp, or, as you now call it for some reason, marijuana.

In my lifetime, there was no plant for which I had a greater fondness. It was the easiest to grow of all my crops, and the most profitable. We used it for clothing, rope, sails, textiles, feed, food, fuel and much more.

Certainly there was no crop for which our brave American farmers had greater enthusiasm. It was the number one cash crop on virtually all farms in America, and probably the top money earner for all the states taken together.

My good friend Tom Jefferson vastly preferred it to tobacco, or to any other crop he grew. He wrote his wonderful Declaration on paper made from it. Ben Franklin built an entire mill that used hemp as its primary stock.

And though we wrote about it rarely, we all enjoyed smoking a good pipeful at the end of the day. Knowledge of this came to us through the Greeks and Romans, and before that the Chinese and Indians, whose seeds I greatly treasured, and widely recommended. Of course our friends among the native tribes often provided us with the very best of their smoking matter.

Though it is somewhat difficult to retain decorum about this issue, I must tell you that if anyone had walked into our Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and told us that someday, in this great nation we were founding, citizens would be put in jail for possessing this great herb, we would have laughed them out of the room. Now that I see what is being done to innocent citizens who raise and smoke this herb as we did, I am tempted to demand that the authorities responsible for this foolishness THEMSELVES be incarcerated. MORE...

"Washington Man Arrested For Allegedly Assaulting Anti-Rossi Protester"

TPMDC:
A 72-year-old man was arrested for allegedly assaulting a 23-year-old activist protesting Dino Rossi's Republican campaign for Senate in Washington state yesterday, according to local reports.

The incident occured outside GOP headquarters in Walla Walla County where the demonstrator, Christie Stordeur, was "one of five protesters standing about 40 feet from the entrance of the office," according to the Tri-City Herald. MORE...

"Obama To Jon Stewart: Maybe You Should've Had Your 'Rally To Restore Sanity' Two Years Ago" (with video)

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Barack Obama Pt. 1
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

TPM with video, Pt. 1 (06:40), Pt. 2 (09:41) and Pt. 3 (09:22) from Comedy Central:
On The Daily Show last night, President Obama acknowledged to Jon Stewart that things have gotten a little crazy since he's taken office. "The one other thing that might have made a difference is if you held the 'Rally To Restore Sanity' two years ago," Obama said.

Stewart mostly questioned the President on the difference between the rhetoric during the campaign, and the reality of what's been accomplished: "Are you disappointed in how it's gone, are you surprised that other people, even your base, can be disappointed, or do you reject that narrative?" MORE...
Howie P.S.: For another account, see "Laughs in short supply as Barack Obama gets serious on The Daily Show" (GuardianUK).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Giordano: "Next Tuesday’s US Elections in Black and White"

(CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

Al Giordano:
Democratic Senators Patty Murray in Washington state, Joe Manchin in West Virginia, Michael Bennett in Colorado, and US Senate candidate Paul Hodes in New Hampshire – all in states where African-Americans make up less than five percent of the vote – will only win if young white and Hispanic voters get their butts to the polls on Tuesday. (And, frankly, Sestak, Giannoulias, Reid and Feingold need plenty of that kind of help too.) Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer in California is likely going to get reelected because the marijuana referendum will pull enough young voters to the polls (and also because the 6.1 percent of her state’s population that is African-American will turn out in big numbers).

For the Democratic Senate and House candidates in overwhelmingly white states and districts, the last and only hope is the ground war: that their field organizations and that of Organizing for America can drag enough first time voters from 2008 and other young and Hispanic folks who don’t usually vote in midterm elections and get them to the ballot box (or bring the mail-in ballot to them). Organizing for America is targeting these potential voters and also you. They want you to help make seven million phone calls this week, something, they remind, that you can do from home or work and they’ll set you up with the list, the script or even invite you to a phone bank location in your area where you can do it together with other interesting people like you who aren’t just sitting around complaining and worrying. MORE...

Howie P.S.: I'm having trouble believing OFA can do the heavy lift for this election.

"@katiecouric: Midterm Elections" (video)


CBS News, video (38:30):
A political panel including Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons, National Review editor Rich Lowry, and Kate Zernike, author of "Boiling Mad," discuss the upcoming election.
H/t to Ari Melber.

Democracy Now!-Ari Berman and Nate Silver on the Midterms (with audio/video/text)

Democracy Now! with audio/video and text:
Candidates are entering the final few days of campaigning in what may turn out to be one of the more interesting midterm elections in recent decades. Most polls are forecasting Republicans will take control of the House, while Democrats are expected to hold on to the Senate, which would result in a rare split Congress. We speak to New York Times pollster and FiveThirtyEight.com founder Nate Silver, and Ari Berman, political correspondent for The Nation magazine and the author of the new book Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics.

"Zemke runs to chair King County Democrats"


Joel Connelly (seattlepi.com):

A relentless, tireless Seattle activist for more than 30 years, Steve Zemke isn't waiting until election day to throw his hat in the ring to become the new chairman of the King County Democratic Party.

The party in Washington's most populous (and pro-Democratic) county will choose its chair at a reorganization meeting on December 4. Incumbent chair Suzie Sheary is not expected to run again.

Zemke made his announcement on a newly created stevezemke.com web site. MORE...
Howie P.S.: Steve Zemke is an intelligent, hard working guy with the right motivation for his activism. You can checkout his website here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"Prop 19: Up In Smoke?"

(Image: View of the burning of 134 tonnes of marijuana on October 20, 2010 in the border town of Tijuana, Mexico, seized by the Mexican Army after a clash with drug traffickers. By Francisco Vega/AFP/Getty Images)

Andrew Sullivan:
Ed Kilgore attempts to diagnose the proposition's slump in the polls:

One possible explanation for the polling trend is that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s apparent effort to undercut Proposition 19, by pushing through legislation that all but decriminalizes small-scale pot possession, has worked. This new law, which Schwarzenegger signed on September 30, makes possession of under one ounce of pot an “infraction” punishable by a $100 fine—significantly less than the average California speeding ticket. This may have deflated support for Proposition 19 among voters who are less motivated by the desire to fire up a doobie themselves as by concerns about the injustices caused, particularly against minorities, by criminal sanctions on the use of marijuana.

Mark Kleiman shows why decriminalization isn't enough:

Possession arrests are already infrequent, except in connection with other offenses. But that’s partly because a custodial arrest is a fairly expensive process from the viewpoint of the criminal justice system. By contrast, writing tickets is cheap: probably a source of net revenue. In one of the Australian states, decriminalization actually increased the number of cannabis possessors going to jail; there were far more tickets than there had been arrests, and some of the people getting the tickets didn’t pay the fine and went to jail for that.


"Stop Dino's secret money"



People for Patty Murray:

Did you know that Dino Rossi has benefited from more than $6.3 million in secret money to power his campaign -- more than any other Senate candidate this year?

It’s true.

He’s being propped up by shadowy right-wing front groups and big Wall Street donors who know that Dino will be a shill for their corporate, special interest agenda.

Dino’s buddies, including Karl Rove, are launching millions of dollars of attack ads against Patty Murray, trying to mislead the voters and distort Patty’s record.

And we need your help to set the record straight.

Please contribute $5 now -- and help us fight back against Dino’s shadowy, secret money!

It’s no surprise that the folks backing Dino’s campaign don’t want to reveal their true identities.

After all, Dino and his pals are championing the kind of destructive policies that benefit the big corporations, the big polluters, the special interests, and the very wealthiest -- but hurt all the rest of us.

That’s why Dino’s donors are channeling millions of dollars into shadowy front groups that aren’t required to open their books to public scrutiny, and Dino is all too happy to accept their help.

Well, Dino Rossi may have these shadowy outside interests -- but Patty Murray has you, and thousands of people like you.

Now it’s time to stand up and help Patty fight back against these right-wing attacks.

Please contribute now -- and help us fight back against Dino’s shadowy, secret money!

Every day, Patty Murray goes to work for you and for hundreds of thousands of Washington state families. All she wants to do is help people and solve problems.

Dino doesn’t have our interests at heart.

The shadowy front groups backing him know it. That’s why they’re pouring millions of dollars into the campaign to defeat Patty Murray.

And with just seven more days until Election Day, it’s up to you and me to stop them.

Please contribute now.

Sincerely,

Jeff Bjornstad
Campaign Manager
People for Patty Murray

"Chuck Todd's Interview with David Axelrod Oct. 26" (with video)


Today with President Obama with video from MSNBC, (10:19):
David Axelrod says Obama didn't endorse anyone in Rhode Island out of respect for Lincoln Chafee. In response to a NYT story that said a republican-controlled Congress would make a good foil for Obama, Axelrod says Obama doesn't need a foil.
Axelrod also answers David Brooks' recent column in which Brooks said the Obama administration spends too much time blaming the republicans. I don't think Obama would be pointing out the republicans if he wasn't always being blamed for their mess. Ironically, the people that created the recession are going to be put back in power because people lack a basic understanding of what happened to the economy.

Ben Smith: "Sherrod records GOTV ad for NAACP" (with audio)

Ben Smith, with audio (00:31):
Former Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod has recorded a get-out-the-vote PSA for the NAACP, expected to air on American Urban Radio Networks and some of its 300 AURN affiliates.

"The outcome is critical for our community," Sherrod says in the ad, which makes no reference to her firing by the Obama administration, which later apologized.

The ad is part of a turnout push by the organization that also includes a PSA from the actor Blair Underwood and a new portal for making GOTV phone calls.

"The upcoming midterm elections will determine the course of our nation just as much as the 2008 elections did," said NAACP president and CEO Benjamin Jealous in a statement.

"Katrina vanden Heuvel & Hendrik Hertzberg: Moneybombing the Election" (video)


GRITtv, video (17:52):
"What we are seeing is a dagger directed at the heart of our democracy, with this money," says Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation, of the ongoing influx of corporate cash on election spending this cycle. She notes that this has been a $5 billion--with a B--election, with $1 billion spent just on the House, and no matter what Karl Rove tries to say, there is nowhere close to parity with spending from left-wing causes.

Katrina and Hendrik Hertzberg of The New Yorker join Laura in studio for a discussion of the money flooding the election cycle, and to consider ways to counter the corrupting influence of cash on our political system. Is there a way to save the 2010 elections?

Ben Smith on Tim Kaine: "Nice guy in a nasty time"

Ben Smith:
Kaine was handicapped, particularly at the beginning of his term, by the pressure to keep his focus on Virginia and by rules that forbade him from fundraising while the state Legislature was in session. That local focus, however, didn't prevent an embarrassing defeat for Democrats in the race to replace him.

But Kaine seemed to grow into the post in the substantial aspects of his job; where being a nice guy means a lot, he has triumphed. He seems universally liked, even by people with good reason not to like him. Dean, his predecessor, was not even invited to the announcement of his appointment, but Dean’s supporters blame former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel for the snub, and Kaine draws warm words even from Dean’s circle.

He’s also managed to avoid a conflagration over altering Dean’s “50-state strategy,” which guaranteed that the party would finance staffers for every state party. The new regime has shifted some of that funding to Organizing for America employees, who don’t report to state party chairmen, but when state leaders threatened revolt, Kaine gave a little, involved OfA staff in state campaigns and smoothed the waters, winning friends across the often-feuding Democratic family. MORE...

Michelle Obama Campaigns for Patty Murray: "Women, man the phone lines" (with video)


Michelle Obama spoke during a campaign fundraiser for Sen. Patty Murray at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue on Monday, October 25, 2010.

Joel Connelly (seattlepi.com) with video (01:57) from the Seattle Times:
The message of Michelle Obama to a lunch audience dominated by women was blunt: Women should man the phone lines and Internet to save the imperiled political career of Washington Sen. Patty Murray.

Nothing less than the middle class and its access to the American Dream is at stake, the first lady declared in a fiery speech.

"For years middle income people have seen their incomes falling while the costs of things like health care and education continue to go up," said Obama, emphasizing a moment later:

"Keeping that dream alive and within reach is what drives him, drives him every single day. We're not here just because of an election . . . We're here to restore that dream." MORE...
Howie P.S.: Michelle Obama has another video (00:50), "Don't wait—vote early," out just now.

"Seattle's proposed tree rules prompt opposition"

Phuong Le (AP):
Tree lovers are now fighting proposed city rules that would remove current protections for large, exceptional trees, and do not include a requirement that property owners get a permit to remove a tree.

"We're the Emerald City because of the trees," said Cass Turnbull, founder of PlantAmnesty, a Seattle-based nonprofit, who favors a permit system as a way to slow down tree-cutting and give people pause. "Trees grow here very easily so we tend to take them for granted."

The proposed tree regulations come at a time when the city is trying to expand its tree canopy to 30 percent by 2037, and a city audit last year called for improvements in the city's stewardship of trees. Seattle's tree coverage shrank from 40 percent in 1972 to about 23 percent in 2007. MORE...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Franken: "Take it from me — every vote matters"

Al Franken:
When the President took office, not only had the car gone into a ditch, the car had flipped over and was rolling down a steep embankment. We, the American people, were in the back seat, and the Bush Administration had removed all the seat belts, so we were all flying around the interior of this car as it was rolling and flipping and careening down this steep embankment, headed to a 2,000 foot cliff. And at the bottom of that cliff were jagged rocks. And alligators.

Now, at noon on January 20th, 2009, as the car was careening toward the cliff, George W. Bush jumped out of the car.

President Obama somehow managed to dive in through the window, take the wheel and get control of the thing just inches before it went over the precipice. Then, he and Congress starting pushing this wreck back up the embankment. Now you can't push a car up an embankment as fast as it careens down the embankment, especially if some people are trying to push against you. But we got it going in the right direction. And slowly we've gotten ourselves up the embankment, out of the ditch and onto the shoulder of the road. MORE...

Dylan Ratigan on the Financial Mess (video)


MSNBC-Dylan Ratigan, video (12:48).
Ratigan talks with a panel of financial experts about the banker/financial crisis and what can be done to clean up the whole fraudulent mess.

"California pot advocates release first television ad, starring a cop" (with video)


Yes on 19, with video (01:14):
The campaign to legalize marijuana in California has been pretty low-key in terms of media ad buys, but a week out from the election proponents of drug law reform are finally joining the fray and they've chosen none other than Joseph McNamara, former police chief of San Jose, to carry their message to the masses.

GRITtv (John Nichols): "Citizens United Corrupts Absolutely" (video)


lauraflanders, video (02:11):
The Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United is being felt right now, argues John Nichols of The Nation. When the decision came down, many thought it would take years to sort out the effects, but instead, he says, "We may have our first fully corporate-defined election this year, in 2010.

Hertztberg on this "Recession Election"


Hendrik Hertzberg:
President Obama and the Democrats kept the Great Recession from becoming a second Great Depression. But the presence of pain is more keenly felt than the absence of agony. MORE...

60 Minutes on the 99ers (video)


CBSNewsOnline, video (13:15):
Even after an extension of unemployment benefits to 99 weeks, many of those about to go off the program are in a quandary. Scott Pelley talks to some of them in Silicon Valley.

More from Greenwald on "NYT v. the world: WikiLeaks coverage"

Glenn Greenwald:
>Media outlets around the world prominently highlighted this revelation, but not The New York Times:

BBC:

The Guardian: Al Jazeera:

Hindustan Times:

Even Politico acknowledged and trumpeted this fact:

By stark and deliberate contrast, here's how The New York Times framed these revelations to its readers (h/t Remi Brulin):

Three cheers for the U.S.! While a handful of American soldiers -- a few bad apples -- may have abused Iraqi detainees in hellholes like Abu Ghraib, those detainees "fared worse in Iraqi hands," so we weren't as bad as the new Iraqi tyrants were. That's the way The New York Times chose to frame these revelations. MORE ...

NPR: "Legalized Pot's Unlikely Supporters: Moms And Cops" (with audio/text)

Dragonfly de la Luz reviews marijuana professionally and founded the group "Stoners Against Prop 19."

Mandalit del Barco (NPR, with audio):
The debate over the California initiative to legalize marijuana has formed some unlikely alliances. On one side, some stoners and marijuana growers oppose Proposition 19, while some cops and mothers support legalization. MORE...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Frank Rich on Nov. 2: "a blurry contest between the party of big corporations and the party of business as usual"

Frank Rich:
Since Obama has neither aggressively pursued the crash’s con men nor compellingly explained how they gamed the system, he sometimes looks as if he’s fronting for the industry even if he’s not. Voters are not only failing to give the White House credit for its economic successes but finding it guilty of transgressions it didn’t commit. The opposition is more than happy to pump up that confusion. When Mitch McConnell appeared on ABC’s “This Week” last month, he typically railed against the “extreme” government of “the last year and a half,” citing its takeover of banks as his first example. That this was utter fiction — the takeover took place two years ago, before Obama was president, with McConnell voting for it — went unchallenged by his questioner, Christiane Amanpour, and probably by many viewers inured to this big lie.

The real tragedy here, though, is not whatever happens in midterm elections. It’s the long-term prognosis for America. The obscene income inequality bequeathed by the three-decade rise of the financial industry has societal consequences graver than even the fundamental economic unfairness. When we reward financial engineers infinitely more than actual engineers, we “lure our most talented graduates to the largely unproductive chase” for Wall Street riches, as the economist Robert H. Frank wrote in The Times last weekend. Worse, Frank added, the continued squeeze on the middle class leads to a wholesale decline in the quality of American life — from more bankruptcy filings and divorces to a collapse in public services, whether road repair or education, that taxpayers will no longer support.

Even as the G.O.P. benefits from unlimited corporate campaign money, it’s pulling off the remarkable feat of persuading a large swath of anxious voters that it will lead a populist charge against the rulers of our economic pyramid — the banks, energy companies, insurance giants and other special interests underwriting its own candidates. Should those forces prevail, an America that still hasn’t remotely recovered from the worst hard times in 70 years will end up handing over even more power to those who greased the skids.

We can blame much of this turn of events on the deep pockets of oil billionaires like the Koch brothers and on the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which freed corporations to try to buy any election they choose. But the Obama White House is hardly innocent. Its failure to hold the bust’s malefactors accountable has helped turn what should have been a clear-cut choice on Nov. 2 into a blurry contest between the party of big corporations and the party of business as usual. MORE...

Glenn Greenwald on "The Nixonian henchmen of today: at the NYT"

Glenn Greenwald:
Yesterday, Assange walked out of an interview with CNN, which he thought had been arranged to discuss the significance of the Iraq War revelations, because the CNN "reporter" seemed interested in asking only about petty, vapid rumors about Assange himself, not the substance of the leaks. The Nation's Greg Mitchell summarized that interview this way: "Assange to CNN: 'Do you want to talk about deaths of 104,000 people or my personal life?'" CNN's answer could not have been clearer: the latter, definitely.

But the low point of this smear campaign was led by The New York Times' John Burns, who authored a sleazy hit piece on Assange -- filled with every tawdry, scurrilous tabloid rumor about him -- that was (and still is) prominently featured in the NYT, competing for attention with the stories about the leaked documents themselves, and often receiving more attention. Here's the current iteration of the front page of the NYT website, with the Assange story receiving top billing:

MORE...