Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sherrod Brown: "No recess until jobless benefits pass"

Joan McCarter (Daily Kos):
The good Senator named Brown is doing his damnedest to get jobless benefits passed.

The House and Senate should stay in session until they can pass an extension of unemployment insurance, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said Wednesday.

Brown urged leaders to keep Congress in session and eat into the holiday weekend and next week's recess, if necessary, to pass a long-delayed extension of benefits and tax cuts that's stalled in the Senate.

"For too many weeks, Republicans have blocked legislation that would extend tax cuts for small businesses, close tax loopholes that encourage corporations to ship jobs overseas, and extend unemployment insurance," Brown said in a statement. "Congress should not adjourn for the July 4 holiday weekend without passing an extension of unemployment insurance."

This is the message Harry Reid needs to hear: keep them in. Bring out the cots. Only let them out to attend Sen. Byrd's funeral, and then bring them back. One thing we know, breaking out the cots tends to break loose Republican votes. Take their vacation away until they help the 1.2 million Americans who have prematurely lost their unemployment insurance.

WA I-1068: "Will pot legalization initiative make fall ballot?"

Chris Grygiel (
With a nod to its base, the campaign to legalize marijuana for adults in Washington has made an appointment to turn in initiative signatures to the secretary of state's office at 4:20 p.m. Friday.

The late-in the day timing (Friday is the last day for campaigns to turn in signatures) will help Initiative 1068 gather John Hancocks until the last minute. The campaign has struggled to gather the required 241,000 signatures of registered voters for a spot on the November ballot. The time - 4:20 p.m. - is also well known to marijuana enthusiasts as the time of the day when people across the world light up.

State officials say the I-1068 campaign has told them they've got about 200,000 signatures so far - and have been getting many petitions back every day. The state Elections Division urges campaigns to submit at least 300,000 signatures, allowing for a pad to cover duplicate or invalid signatures.
Howie P.S.: Sensible Washington is having a volunteer celebration tomorrow @ Alki from noon-6pm. I-1068 was a grassroots, volunteer=driven effort. By comparison, "Beverage distributors pour $1.4 mil into liquor privatization" (
Two big beverage distributors have given $1.4 million to Initiative 1105, one of two measures seeking to privatize liquor sales in Washington state.

The other effort - I-1100 - turned in 396,000 signatures to the state last week. I-1100 is backed by Costco, which has contributed $735,000.

I-1105 has until Friday provide the secretary of state 241,000 signatures of registered voters to qualify for the November ballot. They're supposed to drop off signatures at 1:30 p.m. that day. Odom Southern Holdings of Bellevue has given $654,000 to the measure and and Young's Market Company of Los Angeles has chipped in
$850,000. The two companies both cut $320,000 checks on June 23, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission.

Afghanistan: "When the ‘Right War’ Goes Wrong" (with video)

William Pfaff:
The increasingly dangerous Afghanistan situation is worth analysis at two levels, that of the war itself, the ultimately doomed attempt by the United States to conquer the Taliban insurrection and impose a pro-American government, and the domestic political effect of Barack Obama’s misguided decision to replace “Bush’s war” in Iraq with “Obama’s war” in Afghanistan. MORE...
Howie P.S.: "Petraeus' political skills on display before Senate panel, with video (01:22), produced this admonition:
Petraeus warned that the situation could get worse before it gets better.

"My sense is that the tough fighting will continue; indeed, it may get more intense in the next few months," he told the committee. MORE...
More reporting and analysis from Robert Dreyfuss here:
Less than a year ago, General David Petraeus saluted smartly and pledged his loyal support for President Obama’s decision to start withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan in July 2011. In December, when Obama decided (for the second time in 2009) to add tens of thousands of additional American forces to the war, he also slapped an 18-month deadline on the military to turn the situation around and begin handing security over to the bedraggled Afghan National Army and police. Speaking to the nation from West Point, Obama said that he’d ordered American forces to start withdrawing from Afghanistan at that time.

Here’s the exchange, between Obama, Petraeus, and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as reported by Jonathan Alter in his new book, The Promise: President Obama, Year One:

OBAMA: "I want you to be honest with me. You can do this in 18 months?"

PETRAEUS: "Sir, I'm confident we can train and hand over to the ANA [Afghan National Army] in that time frame."

OBAMA: "If you can't do the things you say you can in 18 months, then no one is going to suggest we stay, right?"

PETRAEUS: "Yes, sir, in agreement."

MULLEN: "Yes, sir." MORE...

"Barack Obama fails to rally support for energy bill"

Guardian (UK):
Barack Obama's hopes of leveraging public anger at the Gulf oil spill into political support for his clean energy agenda fell flat today after he failed to rally a group of Democratic and Republican senators around broad energy and climate change law.

The standoff suggests the Senate would formally give up on climate change law, and recast energy reform as a Gulf oil spill response, that would roll in far more limited proposals such as a green investment bank, or a measure to limit greenhouse gas emissions that would apply only to electricity companies. MORE...
Howie P.S.: In the race for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in Colorado, another disappointment for Obama:"Bill Clinton Bucks Obama in Colo. Senate Race."

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Al Franken Slams Supreme Court For Dismantling Legal Protections (with video)

Dan Froomkin, with video (43:27):
If you have a credit card, if you watch TV, if you file insurance claims, if you work - in other words, if you participate in American daily life at all - then you interact with corporations that are more powerful than you are.

The degree to which those corporations' rights are protected over yours, well, that's extremely relevant to your life.

And in case after case after case, the Roberts Court has put not just a thumb, but a fist, on the scale in favor of those corporations. MORE...

Leslie Gelb: "Petraeus Locked Obama In"

Leslie Gelb:
At this morning’s hearing, General Petraeus tamped down talk of an early withdrawal from Afghanistan—and warned of greater U.S. casualties to come.

With his four stars and battle ribbons speaking for themselves and his reputation soaring, Gen. David Petraeus Tuesday told the Senate Armed Service Committee just what President Obama wanted its members to hear: (1) fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan remains essential to U.S. security; (2) the president’s counterinsurgency strategy and U.S. troop reductions projected to begin on July 2011 were fine; and (3) this general and this president are in harmony unlike the departing U.S./NATO commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal. MORE...
Howie P.S.: The photo is not meant to relate to any partilar individual, but to a mindset that has given us the current policy in Afghanistan.

"Suzan DelBene on PubliColaTV at the Democratic State Convention" (video)

PubliColaTV, video (02:36):
Reichert's out-of-touch votes, the TARP Bailout, and Healthcare reform.

The Longest War---"Liberal Democrats Challenge Obama's War Strategy" (video)

Countdown (MSNBC),. video (09:38).

"Should Cantwell Vote Against The Financial Regulation Bill?" (with poll)

dlaw (WashBlog, with poll):
With the death of Senator Byrd, there will be tremendous focus on Senator Cantwell's principled, intelligent position against the present financial regulation bill - a position she shares with Senator Feingold, but also with the Party of No.

The present bill is sleazy and fairly dastardly, but I'm so discourage by the Dems that I think maybe she should change her position - much as I admire her for taking it.

My gut tells me "no". I'm sure that Cantwell's giving in for exactly the reasons she will be encouraged to give in was part of Wall Street's playbook the whole time. It's just hard to accept that somehow the Dems were able to manufacture a loss from a bill that was the easiest win in the recent history of major legislation. It seems insane to give in to Wall Street right now, rather than hanging the Republicans with this bill's failure. I don't know. What do you think?

Taibbi on Brooks on Hastings on McChrystal

Matt Taibbi:
We have a president who during his election campaign ran on the idea that he was going to pursue a narrow strategy in Afghanistan centered around fighting al-Qaeda. Then he gets elected and puts in charge a guy who immediately wants more troops and seems committed to a loony nation-building exercise run under the banner of a counterinsurgency program called COIN, in which armed soldiers are supposed to double as cultural representatives -- "Think the Green Berets as an armed Peace Corps" is how Hastings wrote it. This COIN program was supposed to use large masses of American troops to go out into Afghanistan, perhaps the most change-resistant place on the planet, and help the whole country come around to our point view from behind kevlar vests.

So there was clear tension here between Obama's stated campaign vision and McChrystal's own vision, which to me sounds a lot like the old "hearts and minds" strategy of McNamara and all those other violent meddling morons from the Vietnam era. And while I know David Brooks probably does want America back using the military to convert unwitting foreign peoples to the Wal-Mart/Ikea culture at the tip of a sword, I sure as hell don't, and if someone is trying to do so on my behalf I want to know about it. MORE...

Monday, June 28, 2010

How I-1068 Fits with the "Values" of the WA Democratic Party

Lee (
State Democrats endorsed I-1068, but not without some consternation:

There was a small political skirmish here in Vancouver this afternoon—delegates made motions to consider 1068 separately, to extend debate, and to officially endorse the initiative. [State Vice Chair Sharon] Smith said that, “we expected this to come to a floor discussion. There are some things that are clearly Democratic party values, and then there are things like this that aren’t so clear.”

I’m not really sure what the heck Smith is referring to with that comment, so I went to the Washington State Democrats homepage to see if my previous notions of what Democrats stood for have changed radically in the past week. Here’s what they have listed on their “What We Stand For” page: MORE...

Naomi Klein: "The Real Crime Scene Was Inside the G20 Summit" (with video)

Democracy Now! with video:
As thousands protested in the streets of Toronto, inside the G20 summit world leaders agreed to a controversial goal of cutting government deficits in half by 2013. We speak with journalist Naomi Klein. "What actually happened at the summit is that the global elites just stuck the bill for their drunken binge with the world’s poor, with the people that are most vulnerable," Klein says.
Howie P.S.: She has an op-ed in the Globe and Mail today, titled Sticking the Public with the Bill for the Bankers’ Crisis.

Joe Bageant: "Live from Planet Norte"

Joe Bageant:
Starting with the Homeland Security probe at Washington's Reagan Airport, arrival back in the United States resembles an alien abduction to a planet of bright lights, strange beings and incomprehensible behavior. The featureless mysophobic landscape of DC's Virginia suburbs seems to indicate that homogeneity and sterility are the native religions. Especially after spending eight months in Mexico's pungent atmosphere of funky, sensual open air markets, rotting vegetation, smoking street food grills, sweat, agave nectar and ghost orchids.

The uniformity on Planet Norte is striking. Each person is a unit, installed in life support boxes in the suburbs and cities; all are fed, clothed by the same closed-loop corporate industrial system. Everywhere you look, inhabitants are plugged in at the brainstem to screens downloading their state approved daily consciousness updates. iPods, Blackberries, notebook computers, monitors in cubicles, and the ubiquitous TV screens in lobbies, bars, waiting rooms, even in taxicabs, mentally knead the public brain and condition its reactions to non-Americaness. Which may be defined as anything that does not come from of Washington, DC, Microsoft or Wal-Mart. MORE... reports on WA I-1068
Delegates also backed Initiative 1068 on a 314-185 vote. The measure would legalize the sale and use of marijuana. Supporters of the initiative are strapped for cash, but are mounting a last minute push to get the initiative on the ballot.

Greg Sargent on the "the really important thing" Robert Byrd did (with video)

Greg Sargent:
Question o' the day: With the most prominent public officials set to offer paeans to Byrd today, some of the eulogizing will undoubtedly focus on Byrd's staunch opposition to the Iraq War and strong criticism of Bush's attacks on the Constitution.

But how many Dems will pause to remember the really important thing about Byrd's denunciation of Bush's adventures: That it came at a moment when Bush's swaggering popularity had so many other high-profile Democrats toppling like dominoes?

Howie P.S.: Here's video (02:14) of Byrd playing the fiddle on "Pop Goes The Country."

Maddow: "What has Obama done so far?" (video)

Rorty00, video (06:10).

Howie P.S.: Here's the liberal-left dissent, from "Paul Street on Obama and American Politics":
The Republic Door and Window workers really struck a chord of populist dissent that resonated across the country. They didn’t wait to get the okay from Obama or the Democratic Party or any other politicians or elected officials or with electoral considerations in mind. They had developed and utilized the rank and file institutional capacity to undertake a morally righteous direct action at the immediate shop-floor and community level and thereby forced events from the bottom, compelling media and politicians to follow in their wake. We need hundreds and then thousands of little and big and then merging epic fights like the one fought in Chicago two Decembers ago. That’s where the real and relevant Hope for Change can be found, not in the masters’ elections and candidates and all the rest of that citizen-marginalizing rubbish. Iowa 2007 was my first and last foray into electoral politics, for what that’s worth.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

"AU 60 Minutes BP Oil Spill Video, 13 June 2010, Removed by BP Demand Part 1 and Part 2" (video)

Cryptome1, video: Part 1 (09:59) and Part 2, (03:59).

Howie P.S.: Kindra Arnesan is back in action here.

"Silly Goose Expectations: Reflections on Frustrated Left-Liberal Hopes and the Obama Administration"

Paul Street:

What matters is not who’s sitting in the White House. What matters is who’s sitting in.
- Howard Zinn

Who will save “the progressive movement,” such as it is [1], from the blathering of Robert Kuttner? According to a recent story on National “Public” Radio, leading “disappointed,” “frustrated” and “betrayed” American “progressives” are reflecting on the (not-so) “liberal” Obama administration’s ongoing imperial and corporatist torpor[2] –- a likely context for more right wing victories in the mid-term elections next November –- with an interesting question: “is it [the problem] Obama or is it us?” By NPR reporter Andrea Seabrook’s account, this was the main question discussed by “left wing activists” (Seabrook’s revealing term for liberal Democrats) at a recent conference on Barack Obama’s presidency called by the Washington-based group Campaign for America’s Future (CAF)[3].

“And We Would Just Go Home and Hit the Couch”

CAF conference participant Marquis Jones said "It's definitely us. I mean, we can't look at our elected officials and feel like it's their responsibility. We put them in office to be a representation of us, so it is our responsibility to make sure that they're fulfilling those obligations." According to the leading liberal blogger and pundit Arianna Huffington, another conference attendee, "It seems like yesterday...Barack Obama was going to take office, he was going to change the world and we would just go home and hit the couch.”[4]

Jones goes too far to absolve elected U.S. officials of their obligation to “establish justice” and “promote the general welfare” as required of them by the U.S. Constitution. He might want to consider that elected officials are largely put in office by what the Left writers Edward S. Herman and David Peterson call “the unelected dictatorship of money,” which (Herman and Peterson note) “vets the nominees of the Republican and Democratic parties, reducing the options available to U.S. citizens to two candidates, neither of whom can change the foreign or domestic priorities of the imperial U.S. regime.”[5]

Still Marquis Jones and Ariana Huffington are right to call for activists to keep the pressure on elected officials beneath and beyond the quadrennial candidate-centered, mass marketed “electoral extravaganzas” (Noam Chomsky) that pass for the only politics (“that’s politics”) [6]) that matter in the U.S. As the left political scientist Adolph Reed, Jr. argued in The Progressive magazine in the fall of 2007, left activists should focus less on elections and more on building social and political movements for democratic change from the bottom up over longer periods of time.” MORE...
Howie P.S.: This morning Glenn Greenwald and Greg Sargent are using Twitter to call out our "Groundhog Day politics." Paul Street's commentary seems to indicate the same thing. H/t to Terri Lee for pointing me to Paul Street. More harsh and recent criticism of Obama from Street: "A Callous Nation: Reflections on the Obama-McChrystal-Rolling Stone Saga."

"Barack Obama's firing of Stanley McChrystal showed weakness and will backfire"

Barack Obama, the US President, with David Cameron in Toronto. Photo: AFP/GETTY

Toby Harnden (Telegraph-UK):
He may have been hailed for his decisiveness, but Barack Obama sacked the wrong man and has yet to sort out his Afghanistan policy---So Obama would do well to avoid congratulating himself on winning last week's news cycle by brutally ending McChrystal's illustrious career. He has further alienated the broader military constituency and done nothing to curtail the in-fighting among his top foreign policy officials, who are apeing their economic counterparts.

With members of his inner circle like Emanuel and David Axelrod likely to return to Chicago after November's mid-term elections, Obama could find the White House a very lonely place next year. MORE...
Howie P.S.: I never recommend that any US President allow a photograph with an umbrella, especially with a British politician. Another turd in the punchbowl: "Endless war, a recipe for four-star arrogance" (Andrew Bacevich (WaPo, op-ed):
The responsibility facing the American people is clear. They need to reclaim ownership of their army. They need to give their soldiers respite, by insisting that Washington abandon its de facto policy of perpetual war. Or, alternatively, the United States should become a nation truly "at" war, with all that implies in terms of civic obligation, fiscal policies and domestic priorities. Should the people choose neither course -- and thereby subject their troops to continuing abuse -- the damage to the army and to American democracy will be severe. MORE...

"BP's Darryl Willis on Claims Response" (video)

BPplc, video (01:01):
BP's Darryl Willis, head of the claims process, shares how claims payments assist affected locals in the Gulf region. BP is working to replace the lost income of fishermen, small businesses and others who can't work until the spill is cleaned up. Call or go online at and we'll help you figure out what information you need to file a claim.

BP has created this YouTube channel to engage the public in an informative conversation and dialogue about our efforts associated with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. We want our page to be an appropriate forum for everyone. For more information on our Commenting Policy, please see the Latest News section on our main page:
Howie P.S.: If your sole source of information about BP's response comes from what you see on television during a baseball game, this is what you know. On the other hand---Venice, LA resident Kindra Arnesan, video (15:44), says:
"It's not a clean-up, it's a cover-up."

"Hands Across The Sand at Alki protests offshore drilling" (with video)

Patrick Robinson (West Seattle Herald), with video (02:40):
Hands Across The Sand saw 167 people line up on Alki Beach and join hands in a peaceful protest of offshore drilling. The event, international in scope took place at Alki and in 41 other nations, 71 cities outside the United States, and 24 events in the Seattle Area. It was sponsored by and the national Hands Across The Sand organization formed in Florida in 2009. MORE...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Matt Taibbi on the Media, "McChrystal and Us"

Matt Taibbi:
First of all, I want to congratulate Michael Hastings for the amazing job he did on the McChrystal piece. Not only was it a coup for our magazine, but it's a reminder of what journalists are supposed to be doing. For quite a long time political journalism, particularly in Washington, has been reduced to an access-trading game, where reporters are rewarded for favorable coverage of those in the know with more time and availability.

This symbiotic dynamic affects not just individual reporters but whole publications and news channels; it's a huge reason why reporters have in general resisted challenging political authorities. Nobody wants to be the guy who gets not only himself but his whole paper shut out of the access game. Since many recent politicians have made good on this implied threat (George Bush's shut-out of the Washington Post's White House reporters is a classic example), what we get is coverage that across the board fails to ask hard questions and in general treats leaders with a reverence they don't always deserve.

Or we get the other thing: partisan coverage in which the right-wing guys hammer the Democrats and the lefties hammer the Bushes and the Cheneys. That's a sort of Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact approach to the access question. You agree to forswear attacks on your own team, then you can get all the access you want from the guys in your locker room. A lot of outlets make this choice and that's why we get the impression that news coverage is negative, because there is in fact a lot of screaming and finger-pointing on the airwaves — but mostly that's partisan entertainment, not a healthy free press challenging authority.

The media business is so used to associating the whole idea of challenging or negative reporting with partisanship that even the coverage of our role in the McChrystal thing is being pitched to audiences as a kind of extreme version of the usual crap — that what Rolling Stone is doing is "attacking Obama from the left." It's almost like it's not considered possible anymore for tough reporting to exist without some kind of partisan angle, which is sad, because just a generation ago an almost completely apolitical iconoclasm was the expected ideological orientation of the investigative journalist.

A third thing we get these days is outright prostitution, and unfortunately I can't even tell all the stories I've heard about the kinds of things that go on in our business. I will say that in the world of business journalism in particular there are prominent news organizations that will openly promise favorable coverage in exchange for access to major business figures. This behavior is common enough that it's not at all a surprise that the major business networks missed the signs leading to the financial crash; they were too busy lobbing softballs to bank CEOs as part of pre-arranged interview deals.

I'm not trying to be too obvious in jerking off Rolling Stone here, but I do think we'd all be better off if news organizations stopped choosing teams and worrying about access and started doing what Hastings did, which is risk the shut-out. It's hard to write something that you know is going to put you straight into Siberia with your sources five minutes after the piece comes out. I certainly don't do it very often. Most reporters don't. But if we all did this more often, what we'd find in the end is that politicians would come calling and offering access anyway. In the end, they really do need us as much as we need them. The more the press learns that it has power of its own, over and above what politicians and business leaders feed them, the better off we'll all be.

Frank Rich on McCrystal: let's "hope that the president’s first bold move to extricate America from the graveyard of empires won’t be his last."

Frank Rich:
The moment he pulled the trigger, there was near-universal agreement that President Obama had done the inevitable thing, the right thing and, best of all, the bold thing. But before we get carried away with relief and elation, let’s not forget what we saw in the tense 36 hours that fell between late Monday night, when word spread of Rolling Stone’s blockbuster article, and high noon Wednesday, when Obama MacArthured his general. That frenzied interlude revealed much about the state of Washington, the Afghanistan war and the Obama presidency — little of it cheering and none of it resolved by the ingenious replacement of Gen. Stanley McChrystal with Gen. David Petraeus, the only militarily and politically bullet-proof alternative. MORE...

WA "Democrats Endorse Pot Legalization Initiative"

Bucking the recommendation of their executive board, delegates to the Washington State Democratic Convention endorsed I-1068 (the marijuana legalization initiative) with 62 percent “yes” vote (314 to 185). The executive board had given no recommendation on the initiative because “the committee was even more split than the delegates,” according to State Vice Chair Sharon Smith.

There was a small political skirmish here in Vancouver this afternoon—delegates made motions to consider 1068 separately, to extend debate, and to officially endorse the initiative. Smith said that, “we expected this to come to a floor discussion. There are some things that are clearly Democratic party values, and then there are things like this that aren’t so clear.”

One convention delegate worried that a 1068 endorsement might have broader implications statewide–that Democratic candidates would be associated with this endorsement: “It’s going to make it harder.”

Delegates also considered the two liquor privatization initiatives separately, and eventually opposed both I-1100 and I-1105.
Howie P.S.: We'll have to wait and see if this endorsement helps to get I-1068 on the statewide November ballot and helps turn out the newer, younger voters like the Obama campaign did. Some early polling has shown that a majority of likely voters statewide support I-1068 while their eastern Washington counterparts do not. Andrew (NPI Advocate) is blogging from the convention floor.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Marijuana (WA I-1068): "Not just a high" (with video)

Cannabis compounds show their stuff against a host of medical problems, relieving symptoms far beyond pain and nausea.

Nathan Seppa (ScienceNews):

Scientists test medicinal marijuana against MS, inflammation and cancer. In science’s struggle to keep up with life on the streets, smoking cannabis for medical purposes stands as Exhibit A.

Medical use of cannabis has taken on momentum of its own, surging ahead of scientists’ ability to measure the drug’s benefits. The pace has been a little too quick for some, who see medicinal joints as a punch line, a ruse to free up access to a recreational drug.

But while the medical marijuana movement has been generating political news, some researchers have been quietly moving in new directions — testing cannabis and its derivatives against a host of diseases. The scientific literature now brims with potential uses for cannabis that extend beyond its well-known abilities to fend off nausea and block pain in people with cancer and AIDS. Cannabis derivatives may combat multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory conditions, the new research finds. Cannabis may even kill cancerous tumors. MORE...
Howie P.S.: From the petition-signing battle on the street, video from KING5 (02:37). Apparently the marijuana initiative, I-1068, is so popular the other initiative groups are using it to get signatures fror their efforts.

Updated: Venice, LA Resident Kindra Arnesan on BP (video)

UPDATE: The video has been yanked from the site below but lives on here. Some handwringing and background here.

wepollock, video (15:44).

H/t to Rachel Maddow.

Another Argument for WA I-1068

"100,000 Americans Die Each Year from Prescription Drugs, While Pharma Companies Get Rich" (Daniela Perdomo-AlterNet):
The study estimating that 100,000 Americans die each year from their prescriptions looked only at deaths from known side effects. That is, those deaths didn’t happen because the doctor made a mistake and prescribed the wrong drug, or the pharmacist made a mistake in filling the prescription, or the patient accidentally took too much. Unfortunately, thousands of patients die from such mistakes too, but this study looked only at deaths where our present medical system wouldn’t fault anyone. Tens of thousands of people are dying every year from drugs they took just as the doctor directed. This shows you how dangerous medications are. MORE...
Howie P.S.: There no cases of death by a lethal dose of marijuana.

"Where is America’s free press?"

Bob Patterson:
Edward R. Murrow, in a speech title “Why Should News Come in 5-Minute Packages?,” (efforts to find a transcript online were unsuccessful) said: “For if the premise upon which our pluralistic society rests – which, as I understand it, is that if the people are given sufficient undiluted information, they will then somehow, even after long sober, second thoughts, reach the right decision – if that premise is wrong, then not only the corporate image but the corporations are done for.”

Little did he realize that it was news delivered by a free press that was doomed.

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (AKA Lewis Carroll), in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” wrote: “‘All right,’ said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.” MORE...
Howie P.S.: Not the "good news" I promised, but the day is still young.

Bad News Friday Roundup

"Jobs Bill Fails In Senate: Democrats Say Thursday's Doomed Vote Was The Last Chance" (Arthur Delaney):
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday that after Republicans once again defeated a bill to reauthorize several expired domestic aid programs, including extended unemployment benefits, Democrats are giving up on trying to break the GOP filibuster.

"We're going to move to the small business jobs bill," said Reid. "We can't pass it until we get some Republicans... It's up to them." MORE...
"Stabenow: Republicans in ‘Cynical Game’ to Crater Economy by Stopping Jobs Bill":
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), whose state has the second-highest unemployment rate in the country, just held a conference call with reporters, in which she expressed her belief that Republicans have cynically joined together to stop the jobs bill, also known as the tax extenders package or H.R. 4213, to keep the unemployment situation bad, or possibly make it worse, for their own electoral gains in the fall. MORE...
Tim Dickinson (Rolling Stone):
Here's what BP has in store for the Arctic: First, the company will drill two miles beneath its tiny island, which it has christened "Liberty." Then, in an ingenious twist, it will drill sideways for another six to eight miles, until it reaches an offshore reservoir estimated to hold 105 million barrels of oil. This would be the longest "extended reach" well ever attempted, and the effort has required BP to push drilling technology beyond its proven limits. As the most powerful "land-based" oil rig ever built, Liberty requires special pipe to withstand the 105,000 foot-pounds of torque — the equivalent of 50 Mack truck engines — needed to turn the drill. "This is about as sexy as it gets," a top BP official boasted to reporters in 2008. BP, a repeat felon subject to record fines for its willful safety violations, calls the project "one of its biggest challenges to date" — an engineering task made even more dangerous by plans to operate year-round in what the company itself admits is "some of the harshest weather on Earth." MORE...
Howie P.S.: I will endeavor to locate some good news today to balance this out.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Oil Spill Leads To Unexpected Environmental Alliances: 'Jesus Will Rip Your Head Off'"


Paul Rogat Loeb:
In the wake of the BP disaster, we've heard powerful stories from fishermen whose livelihoods may have been destroyed for decades or longer. However long it takes for the Gulf's fish, oyster and shrimp harvests to recover, those who've made their livelihoods harvesting them will need to create a powerful common voice if they're not going to continue to be made expendable. A powerful model comes from Seattle and Alaska salmon fisherman Pete Knutson, who has spent thirty-five years engaging his community to take environmental responsibility, creating unexpected alliances to broaden the impact of their voice, and in the process defeating massive corporate interests. MORE...

"South Park Bridge: Replacement 50 percent paid for"

Photo from West Seattle Blog
South Park residents are planning a wake for next Wednesday when King County officials declare their namesake bridge dead. That's when the 79-year-old span's leaves will be lifted for the last time - severing a major freight link and connection for residents and businesses in the working class neighborhood.

But news came Wednesday that gave the community reason for hope. After a week in which the City of Seattle, King County, and the Port of Seattle promised to scrape together some $50 million toward building a new bridge, a pledge of $20 million more came from Gov. Chris Gregoire.

That adds up to $70 million toward the total $130 million King County needs to build a replacement. With that, the project is well positioned for federal grant money that could finally get construction started after years of inertia.

"We can and we will replace the South Park Bridge," County Executive Dow Constantine said during a news conference at the site where the future bridge will land along the Duwamish River. MORE...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Michael Hastings on "Replacing McChrystal: Can Petraeus Win the War?"

"Runaway General" writer Michael Hastings on whether President Obama's decision will solve the real problem in Afghanistan. (Rolling Stone):
President Obama, in announcing the replacement of Gen. Stanley McChrystal moments ago, sought to reassure the American people about the war in Afghanistan. "This is a change in personnel," he declared, "but not a change in policy."

That's precisely the problem.

Changing generals isn't likely to resolve the real trouble in Afghanistan: the fundamental flaws in the U.S. strategy of counterinsurgency. MORE...

Today it's all about Stanley. The deeper question is what will Obama's Afghan strategy be, going forward?

George Stephanopoulos:
Historian Robert Dallek argues Obama should emulate FDR and fire McChrystal.

But my hunch is that Doris Kearns Goodwin has the most influential take of the day. She asks “what would Lincoln do?” The answer? Turn the other cheek to McChrystal’s “insolence” and focus on the task at hand: fighting this war. That’s directed right at Obama’s sweet spot.

All of my reporting indicates President Obama truly hasn’t made up his mind, but my bet is Obama will follow Lincoln’s lead and keep McChrystal for now.

Peter Beinart:
The flap over the Rolling Stone article is much ado about nothing. But the general isn’t pursuing Obama’s Afghan policy. Peter Beinart on why the president needs a new commander to end the war.
Robert Scheer:
After the brilliant Rolling Stone article by Michael Hastings, President Barack Obama has no valid option other than to fire Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Not because of the dozen outrageous anti-administration verbal gaffes which have been reported, but rather because this definitive piece on the “Runaway General” establishes the man in charge of the Afghanistan misadventure as an egotistical flake whose half-baked Afghan war-fighting strategy should never have been endorsed in the first place. It is McChrystal’s policy of counterinsurgency (COIN) that must be fired more than the man who exemplifies its irrationality.
Howie P.S.: Today it's all about Stanley. The deeper question is what will Obama's Afghan strategy be, going forward?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

GRITtv: "Mike Papantonio, Funding Afghan Warlords, & What $1 Million Buys" (with video)

GRITtv, with video:

"I know what a thug corporation looks like," says lawyer and radio host Mike Papantonio, who is busy building a RICO case against BP for the oil devastation in the Gulf. "These people are sociopaths and the GOP are apologizing for them."

Papantonio joins us from Florida to discuss the ongoing case against BP, noting that the company bragged back in 2008 of being able to better track its oil movements only to claim now that it had no idea how much oil was gushing into the water. He also discusses the studies that found brain damage and genetic mutations in people exposed to oil in previous spills--and why drilling in Alaska is going forward anyway.
A Congressional investigation has confirmed what Aram Roston reported last November in The Nation: US tax dollars go into the pockets of Afghan warlords in "a massive protection racket" which may lead back to Taliban hands. MORE...

Olbermann: "Keep him, Mr. President" (with video)

Keith Olbermann (Countdown-MSNBC) with video (07:18):
This will not merely neuter the political blowback, you will present a front of force, and calm, and intelligence, and a willingness to, dare I use the phrase Sir — a willingness to listen to the Commanders on the ground, even when they shoot off their big brass-covered bazoos.

You can own him, Mr. President, and own the political aftermath, now pregnant with opportunities for your critics. The General can be your voice to speed up the de-escalation. My goodness, he could be your mouthpiece if you suddenly saw the morass for what it is and decided to declare victory and get the hell out now. Who would fight you on that, Sir?

You would be the President who defended General McChrystal after he humiliated himself. You would be the leader sensitive to the military, and its needs, and its failures, and its pressures. MORE...

BREAKING: Shout out from West Seattle I-1068 Volunteer Coordinator Kirk Prindle

Kirk Prindle:
In anticipation of release of 80,000 I-1068 petitions in tomorrow’s edition of The Stranger, socially-conscious West Seattle businesses are helping to let their community’s voice be heard. The West Seattle area – including diverse communities of color where the tragic impacts of continued prohibition are so profound – has consistently voiced strong support for I-1068 and West Seattle businesses are contributing to the effort by providing centralized locations for collecting and compiling signed petitions.

Completed and partially-filled petitions – even individual signatures are important – can now be turned in at the following West Seattle business locations during indicated business hours:

Mountain To Sound Outfitters
3602 SW Alaska St.
West Seattle, WA 98126
Open Mon-Wed 11am-6PM; Thur-Fri 11am-7PM; Sat 10am-6PM; Sun 11-4pm

Red Cup Espresso
4451 California Ave. SW
West Seattle, WA 98116
Open weekdays 6am-5pm; Sat 7am-4pm; Sun 8-3pm

Big Al Brewing
9832 14th Avenue Southwest
Seattle, WA 98106
Open Wed 3pm-9am; Thu 3pm-9pm; Fri-Sat 3pm-11pm; Sun 12pm-5pm

Full Tilt Ice Cream
White Center
9629 16th Ave Sw
Open 12pm-10pm Tues-Sat. 12pm-9pm Sunday, Closed Monday

Petitions with signatures need to be submitted by the June 30th deadline, but earlier submission is preferred to allow time for signature verification (signatories need to be registered to vote in the State of Washington).

"The REAL McChrystal story"

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, works on board a Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft between Battlefield Circulation missions.

FedUpDan (Daily Kos):
Has anyone actually read the Rolling Stone story, end-to-end? The real story here is not about whether or not a subordinate said on the record that Obama seemed unprepared for one freakin' meeting, or that an aide to that subordinate childishly and humorlessly rephrased Biden's surname as "Bite Me."

The real story here is so very much bigger than whether or not Asshat McChrystal is going to be fired for criticizing the President. I have found at least eight -- EIGHT! -- examples of more important stories, below the fold. MORE...

WA I-1068: AG McKenna Says State Leg Can Regulate Pot

Sensible Washington:
Today State AG Rob McKenna told KUOW-FM that if 1068 passes the leg can impose civil regulations on marijuana, totally rebutting yesterday's claim by the ACLU of WA that the leg couldn't impose regulations for two years. We appreciate McKenna, who's an authority on initiatives, clearing the air. Link to the program is... below. Listen to the podcast at about 47:20. -Philip.

Hertzberg on Obama and the Gulf Oil "Spill"

Hendrik Hertzberg (The New Yorker):
The most effective, most efficient way to rein in that consumption and make clean energy price-competitive would be to slap a heavy tax on carbon. (Ideally, much of the revenue would be rebated to the public as a cut in the payroll tax, since it makes more sense to tax things we want to discourage, such as oil use, than things we want to encourage, such as work.) This is what some European countries have done, and it may well be what Obama would do if he had the kind of legislative power that European prime ministers have and that many Americans, of all political persuasions, assume that he has, too.

But he doesn’t. As he did with health care, Obama is trying for the maximum that, in his judgment, our rusty, clanking legislative sausage-maker is capable of delivering.
The confused lines of authority that the Times noted are still too muddled. Though it’s clear that the President was personally engaged from the start, allowing the opposite impression to take hold was a failure of governance, not just of public relations. And, as he acknowledged in his speech, his Administration was laggard in cleaning up the corrupt mess it inherited at the Minerals Management Service. But, unlike his most vociferous Republican critics, he is trying to move the country away from its abject subservience to oil. A shakedown? What Obama is trying for, in his methodical, sometimes maddening way, is a shakeup. MORE...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Josh Feit: "Extra Fizz: Pot Petition in 80,000 Copies of The Stranger"

Josh Feit (Publicola):
Sensible Washington, the group behind I-1068, the marijuana legalization initiative, paid to have petitions placed in all 80,000 copies of the Stranger that will hit the streets this Wednesday.

The signature deadline is July 2, and initiative campaigns need 241,000 valid signatures, which translates to turning in more than 300,000 to play it safe. The campaign reports they’ve got about 160,000 signatures right now with 25,000 petitions in the field. MORE...

Oliver Stone Tackles Latin America’s Political Upheaval in "South of the Border" (with video/audio)

Democracy Now! with video/audio:
Academy Award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone has taken on three American presidents in JFK, Nixon and W. and the most controversial aspects of the war in Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July. He looked at the greed of the financial industry in the Hollywood hit Wall Street and its forthcoming sequel. In South of the Border, his latest documentary out this week in the United States, Stone takes a road trip across South America, meeting with seven presidents about the revolution sweeping the continent. The leftist transformation in the region might be ignored or misrepresented as nothing but "anti-Americanism" in the corporate media, but this film seeks to tell a different story. Stone joins us along with the film’s co-writer, the Pakistani British author and activist Tariq Ali. [includes rush transcript–partial]

It's Official: "80,000 Copies Of I-1068 Will Be In The Stranger On June 23"

Philip Dawdy (Sensible Washington):
You read that right. Sensible Washington–thanks to our many supporters’ contributions–is paying to have I-1068 inserted into each copy of The Stranger’s 80,000 print run this Wednesday June 23rd. We’ll also have a full page ad explaining to people how they can sign the initiative, get their friends and family to sign it, and send it on into us by the end of June 28th.

We’re doing this because the weather has been awful all spring (June is already at 200+ percent of normal precipitation for the month) and it’s been very difficult to intersect with the voting public in the Seattle Metro area to get their signatures on I-1068. So tell all your friends and neighbors to get a copy of this week’s Stranger and to get us a bunch of signatures and mail them in by the end of June 28th to the address on the petition.

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Publicola on I-1068: "For Reasons I Could Not Fathom"

"Morning Fizz" (Publicola):

While Democratic party regulars like the ACLU and the the Service Employees International Union have decided not to back the marijuana legalization initiative, Washington State Democratic Party Chair Dwight Pelz said in an email that the Democrats will endorse the initiative at their convention in Vancouver this weekend.

Pelz sent out an email last week urging party members to get behind I-1098, the high-earners income tax, and in a follow-up email with one party member, he indicated that I-1068, the legalization measure, will get the party’s endorsement.

"I-1068 and the Power of Hope: Democracy, reason and true progressive leadership"

Kirk Prindle:

The tragic ramifications of continued prohibition in regard to social justice, civil rights, and environmental and economic sustainability have been a focus of Washington State progressive groups through the past decade. This is, quite simply, because the heartbreaking consequences of prohibition to Washington’s working families – especially in underprivileged areas and communities of color – can no longer be ignored.

Even as research continues to confirm the numerous health and social benefits of a natural plant medicine – in regard to cancer treatment and prevention, domestic violence rates, pain relief, anxiety, arthritis, glaucoma, etc… the list is ever-growing – Washington families are still being torn apart and individual lives destroyed by our draconian marijuana laws (remember it was just in 1995 that Newt Gingrich proposed a bill that would require the death penalty for marijuana distribution).

This is why it is so heartening to see progressive values and the importance of I-1068 emphasized by mainstream democratic groups even as other purported progressive “leaders” cower to long-perpetuated scare tactics and racism-infused lies and propaganda. The power of hope is palpable as democratic groups are now providing resounding support for I-1068. I-1068 is currently endorsed by the King County Democratic Central Committee, the Whatcom County Democrats, the Fidalgo Democrats, and the 23rd, 30th, 37th, 39th and 41st District Democrats.

And now, word from Dwight Pelz on the Washington State Democratic Central Committee:


Subject: RE: ACTION ALERT: Middle class tax reform
Date: Sat, 19 Jun 2010 14:54:58 -0700

We are holding our convention next week, and I anticipate endorsement of 1068.


It seems the answer to the question of whether the people of Washington can overcome over 80 years of mis-information to embrace social justice, personal liberty, and important health alternatives is now coming through loud and clear:

Yes we Cannabis!

Kirk Prindle

(Kirk Prindle is a West Seattle I-1068 coordinator and a resident of the Delridge Neighborhood)

Father's Day Tribute to My Dad

While I was growing up, my father earned our family's "daily bread" writing and editing in the radio and television business. But in his heart he was a writer of fiction, mostly novels and an occasional play. This writing was done early in the morning or in the evening after his "day" job's work was done. When he died in 1960, the Los Angeles Times referred to him as a television script writer, He was that, working on "Perry Mason," among others. But my thoughts always include a memory of him sitting in front of the electric typewriter in his "study" My other major remembrances involve day trips where we went "where the car takes us," playing "catch" in the backyard, visiting Boston to see his book editor at Little, Brown and going to see the Dodgers play at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. Wallace Markfield wrote this about his first novel, The Landsmen, on
The Landsmen is a novel of Jewish-American roots. Set in the village of Golinsk in Czarist Russia at the end of the nineteenth century, it evokes life under a system of massively cruel anti-Semitism. The word “landsmen” in Yiddish means people from the same place, but in this novel it conveys the larger meaning of “brothers”—in suf­fering, in faith, in humanity.

Peter Martin wrote the novel from the memories of the old people he knew as a boy in Brooklyn. The result is a work of fiction that is rich in a sense of time and place. The effect is bardic. Each section of the novel is narrated by one of nine characters: Yeersel, the tailor; Maisha, the religion teacher; Laib, the musician; Shim, his brother; Nochim, the dairyman; Berel, the watercarrier; Laib-Shmul, the butcher; Tzippe-Sora, the distiller; and Mottel, the outcast. Some migrated to America; some died in Golinsk.

First published in 1952, The Landsmen was the first volume of a projected trilogy, and was written to establish a sense of Jewish identity as the back­ground for a large fictional examination of Jewish-American life. Although The Landsmen was well received and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, it was never republished. The second volume of the trilogy, The Building, appeared in 1960. Peter Martin died in 1961.

"In Deep Water: A Way of Life in Peril" (video)

AlJazeeraEnglish, video (23:21):
In the two months since the Deepwater Horizon explosion, millions of litres of oil have gushed out of BP's well into the water each day, slowly encroaching on the coastline. Fault Lines' Avi Lewis travels to the drill zone, and learns about the erosion in the wetlands from industry canals and pipelines, the health problems blamed on contaminated air and water from petrochemical refineries.
Howie P.S.: Naomi Klein's "Gulf oil spill: A hole in the world" is in the Guardian (UK):
The Deepwater Horizon disaster is not just an industrial accident – it is a violent wound inflicted on the Earth itself. In this special report from the Gulf coast, a leading author and activist shows how it lays bare the hubris at the heart of capitalism.

80,000 I-1068 Petitions Coming in this week's "Stranger" Newspaper

Photo by Hannah Winters
According to Sensible Washington, the sponsors of I-1068, they have raised the necessary funds from individual supporters to have 80,000 petitions inserted into the next issue of The Stranger, an alternative, free Seattle weekly newspaper. If people can get busy and have registered voters sign properly and make sure the petitions are turned back to Sensible Washington in the next seven days, there is now a very good chance I-1068 will make it to the ballot.

"Time to Tap T.R. And renew the progressive tradition"

Jonathan Alter (Newsweek):
The president was right to forgo aggressive BP bashing until he had secured the liability fund. The key is to attack the idea of deregulation—and that pressing BP is a “shakedown,” as Rep. Joe Barton put it—without a broad-based assault on all business. Now is the time for Obama to renew some of the older progressive traditions that have helped make the country great—to agitate and regulate in what we must, once again, define boldly as the public interest. MORE...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Greg Sargent on The Real "Big F-in Deal" About Obama's Gulf Response

Greg Sargent:
What's still hard to grasp is the obsession with the theatrics of Obama's response, rather than the substance of it.

The irony is that it's actually the substance of Obama's response -- not the theatrics of it -- that has real political implications. The pubilc doesn't care whether Obama meets some arbitrary pundit-generated threshold for proper emoting. It's hard to imagine that ordinary Americans spend much time wondering whether the failure to stop the spill symbolizes some larger truth about Obama and his presidency.

People just want the spill stopped, the responsible actors held accountable, and steps taken to ensure it doesn't happen again. How and whether Obama succeeds at these things seems like the real political story here -- and, to my mind, the more dramatic and interesting one, too. MORE...

FYI: "BP's Gulf well holds enough oil to spew out for two years, claim experts"

Protesters stand behind BP's chief executive, Tony Hayward, as he arrives to testify in front of the US Congress. Photograph: Haraz Ghanbari/AP

Guardian (UK):
BP's out-of-control well will go on spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico for the next two years or more if all attempts to contain or plug the gusher fail, oil industry experts said today.

The estimates, based on new figures supplied by BP's chief executive, Tony Hayward, during seven contentious hours of testimony to Congress on Thursday, suggest the potential environmental and economic devastation would far outstrip the damage done so far by the ruptured well, which has been spewing for 60 days.

Hayward told a Congressional committee on Thursday the reservoir still held 50m barrels, providing fresh urgency to efforts to contain the oil, or seal off the gusher completely with a relief well.

Using the government's present flow estimates of up to 60,000 barrels a day, BP's well could go on gushing for two to four years, unless it is stopped. MORE...

Howie P.S.: H/t to RSN. Oil is not the only thing still flowing: "Federal approval still flowing for flawed Gulf drilling plans."