Saturday, April 30, 2011

"President Obama Takes On Trump And Birthers At The White House Correspondents’ Dinner" (with video)

MEDIAite with video (18:51):
President Obama was introduced with an intentionally cheesy video package (picture Barney Stinson’s video resume from “How I Met Your Mother) set to Rick Derringer’s “I Am A Real American” and featuring a repeating shot of his birth certificate set against an American flag background. Obama addressed the birther issue in his speech as well, announcing “I am prepared to go a step further…I am releasing my official birth video,” which turned out to be the opening number from “The Lion King.” Well played, Mr. President.

Obama’s delivery, so effective for most public addresses, didn’t lend itself so well to delivering zingers. Nonetheless, he made the handicap work for him, poking fun at criticism he’s received for being “professorial” and “arrogant.” He made a point to address the haters individually: of Matt Damon’s criticism of his performance so far, he said “I just saw ‘The Adjustment Bureau,’ so right back atcha buddy!” He also took the opportunity to start a rumor that Rep. Michele Bachmann was actually born in Canada, concluding gravely “Yes Michele, this is how it starts.” MORE...

"Sensible King County Benefit Show at the Tiger Lounge tonight!"

Photo: Choking Mona Lisa

Sensible Washington:
WHAT: 8pm, $5, 21+. All proceeds go to Sensible Washington. Featuring Choking Mona Lisa, D.A.27, Jeremy Serwer, and acoustic perfomance by Tork. See you there!

The Tiger Lounge
412 South Orcas Street
Seattle (Georgetown)
Howie P.S.: Now that our governor has stymied the will of the Washington state legislature, we know I-1149 is only way FORWARD!

(Updated) WA: "Gregoire Guts Medical-Marijuana Bill" (with audio)

Photo by Cienna Madrid-Gregoire: "I am acutely aware of how important this is for medical patients."

UPDATE: The story in the adds a few details. For example:
The Washington Federation of State Employees said in a letter Friday that workers were concerned they could be subject to federal prosecution under the law and asked Gregoire to veto the bill, The Associated Press reported.
The Seattle Times story picks up another angle: "Gregoire vetoes bill but vows to push feds on medical marijuana." In an editorial, the Times says:
"Gov. Chris Gregoire needs to be reminded why Washington voters overwhelmingly approved a 1998 law to allow the regulated use of marijuana. People wanted relief from grievous medical conditions and treatments.

Her artful veto Friday of the Medical Use of Cannabis Act stranded those citizens, and their loved ones, who sought to play by the rules. MORE...
Dominic Holden (SLOG-The Stranger)
Nixing far more of a medical-marijuana bill than she had telegraphed that she would, Governor Chris Gregoire vetoed nearly every section of an omnibus bill today that was intended to clarify a messy tangle of ambiguities in a 13-year-old law for sick people and their care providers. Arrest protection for patients (who can currently be arrested and only raise a defense in court), cultivation licenses, and dispensaries were all scratched by the governor. In explaining her decision, Gregoire reiterated her concern that the bill's edict to license dispensaries would subject state Department of Health employees to federal prosecution. But, in addition to vetoing dispensaries, she ultimately removed a patient registry and its ensuing arrest protection because it "is intertwined with the other parts of the bill," she said in her Capitol Building office.

What's left is "window dressing," said Alison Holcomb, the drug policy director of the ACLU of Washington.

Gregoire added a twist to her familiar argument—that federal charges "would" be raised against state employees, an argument that has been roundly debunked—by saying, "The landscape is changing." She cited letters from federal prosecutors in Rhode Island, Colorado, and Oakland in recent months similar to one issued in Washington this month.

Gregoire was resolute. "We cannot assure protection to patients in a way that subjects another group to prosecutions," she said. "That is not acceptable to me." Asked three times if she had any example of a state employee being prosecuted for administering one of the many medical-marijuana licensing programs in the US, Gregoire said, "No, no, no."

Her position was immediately denounced. Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes announced that Gregoire's argument was a "red herring at best" and added, “I am profoundly disappointed that at the 11th hour and 59th minute Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed the central operative sections of the medical cannabis legislation." Meanwhile, Mayor Mike McGinn said in a statement that the veto would "leave us with the same problems that we currently face: too many patients have to take unnecessary risks to obtain their medicine, confusion for law enforcement, a proliferation of dispensaries across Seattle, and an inability to regulate dispensaries properly."

What remains in the bill? Permission for patients to grow up to 45 plants in collectives of up to 10 people. Gregoire said her veto allowed 20 days for the legislature to pass another medical marijuana bill—perhaps one that allowed for arrest protection.

Wearing disdain in her expression, Gregoire insisted that she hadn't vetoed the bill as an appeal for future work with the Obama Administration but was based on her—again, frivolous—argument that state workers would be prosecuted. "This is about me being the governor of the state of Washington," she insisted. "It has nothing to do with me or my future or anything else."

Holcomb, who is also a former defense attorney handling medical-marijuana cases, is intimately familiar with the current medical marijuana law and the memo issued by federal prosecutors. She says the landscape hasn't changed. "On the one hand, Gregoire wants to provide patients safe access to medical cannabis. But on the other hand, she offers an excuse for gutting the legislation that holds no water."

"What is concerning to me is Gregoire's repeated statement that patients would remain exempt from prosecution," Holcomb continues. "Under state law, that has never been the case. By stripping out the regulatory section... patients continue to be subject to arrest and prosecution under state law."

Is there any hope that a Democratic governor wouldn't veto a bill so broad?

Dow Constantine, the King County Executive who may run for governor next year, "supports the purposes of the bill," says his spokesman Frank Abe. "He agrees we need to bring the production and distribution of medical marijuana above ground and into the light of day."

Howie P.S. Here's a detailed analysis of the "partial veto" by the Cannabis Defense Coalition. There is also a link there to audio (22:27) of Governor Gregoire's statement on the medical cannabis bill.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Nate Silver: "How Liberal Is President Obama?"

Nate Silver:
Earlier this week, The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein published a column entitled “Obama revealed: A moderate Republican.”
I’m a big fan of Mr. Klein’s work, but I don’t find his thesis persuasive in this case. Instead, I’d suggest that the evidence points toward a considerably less exciting conclusion. Rather than being an early 1990s moderate Republican, Mr. Obama is a prototypical, early 2010s Democrat. And although a 2010s Democrat shares more in common with a 1990s Republican than with the Republicans of today, they are still far from alike.

It’s fairly easy to demonstrate that Mr. Obama’s policy preferences resemble those of a typical Democrat in today’s Congress. MORE...

(Seattle) "City Council split on medical marijuana veto"


Chris Grygiel ( has struck City Hall observers as odd that five Councilmembers - Tim Burgess, Richard Conlin, Bruce Harrell, Tom Rasmussen and Sally Bagshaw – didn’t include their signatures on a Friday letter from Mayor Mike McGinn, City Attorney Pete Holmes and the four other Councilmembers urging Gregoire not to veto the medical cannabis bill. MORE...

(WA): "Gov. To Veto Medical Marijuana Bill, Bill's Sponsor Says"

AP via
Gov. Chris Gregoire will veto the "heart and soul" of the medical marijuana bill, the bill's primary sponsor Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles tells KIRO 7 Eyewitness News.

Kohl-Welles said the governor will be pledging to work with the bill's supporters in a special session on a version of the legislation that will not put state workers in jeopardy.

Earlier, Gregoire said she will reveal her decision on the bill during her bill action time Friday afternoon.

The governor is scheduled to take action on a number of bills and has the option of partially vetoing a bill or signing it into law.

The Legislature has passed a major overhaul of the state's medical marijuana law in spite of a veto threat by the governor. The measure would for protect some patients from being arrested and create a system for licensing storefront dispensaries and grow operations.

On Wednesday, Gregoire reiterated her stance that signing the bill as it stands will put state employees at risk of federal prosecution, an argument contended by constitutional experts. Gregoire has hinted at a partial veto that would take out the regulatory proposals advocates fought for during the session.

"Progressive Caucus Budget: The Only Honest Plan on the Table"

Tim Dickinson (Rolling Stone):
The 75-member House Progressive Caucus has put out its own budget to counter Paul Ryan's Medicare-gutting GOP plan.

This is more than a fantasy document. It's sound policy. The conservative Economist magazine has called the budget "courageous." As a conversation-starter, it shows that the path out of our debt and deficit quagmire is not as steep as most imagine, and that getting America's fiscal house in order isn't incompatible with making critical investments in jobs and infrastructure.

The budget has more of what Americans say they want — new taxes on the rich and cuts to defense — than either the GOP's or the president's budget. And it has none of what Americans say they hate: changes to the social compact that's guided America from the days of the New Deal and the Great Society.

The Progressive budget would slash $5.6 trillion in deficits on the way to generating a small surplus in 2021—reaching a balanced budget two decades in advance of Paul Ryan's plan. MORE...

"One Cup of Coffee---A Film About the Heart and Soul of Marley Coffee" (with video)

"One Cup of Coffee" (Bob Marley), TheJammingDude, video (02:27).

"One Cup of Coffee"( Film About the Heart and Soul of Marley Coffee---with video (19:51):
Bob Marley always said he would return to farming one day. With Marley Coffee, Bob's son Rohan fulfills the dream. Rohan remembers his grandmother drying their wild coffee berries in the sun, then hulling and roasting them for her own cup of coffee each morning. Marley Coffee is determined to deliver that same intoxicating aroma and rich smooth flavor into every cup.

Marley Coffee is an international gourmet coffee company founded by Rohan Marley and his friend Shane Whittle, sourcing beans from around the world, including Ethiopia, Central America and Jamaica. The beans from Jamaica are from a 52-acre private estate sits atop the Blue Mountains in Chepstowe, Portland, Jamaica, long revered as the region with the world's most desirable coffee beans. From the Marley's Jamaica Blue Mountain® coffee farm, to partner farms in Africa, Central America and other top coffee-growing regions worldwide, Marley Coffee strives to support communities and the environment through organic, sustainable and ethical practices.

"The royal wedding in under 2 minutes" (video)

WaPo, with video (01:47):
From the arrivals, to the ceremony and the balcony kiss, here is a recap of all the key moments from the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Howie P.S.: Total abstinence is not my style, but this is IT.

Tim Egan: "The Other" as President

Tim Egan (NY Times):
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s family backgrounds remind us that most Americans don’t come from Mayflower stock.--- At least one president, John F. Kennedy, came from bootlegging Irish heritage. It was always a side issue, the mist of his father’s past, though nobody ever forced Jack Kennedy to prove he wasn’t a criminal. He looked like most Americans, and that was enough. MORE...

Krugman: "I’d say that the Fed’s policy is to do nothing about unemployment."

Paul Krugman:
Last month more than 14 million Americans were unemployed by the official definition — that is, seeking work but unable to find it. Millions more were stuck in part-time work because they couldn’t find full-time jobs. And we’re not talking about temporary hardship. Long-term unemployment, once rare in this country, has become all too normal: More than four million Americans have been out of work for a year or more.

Given this dismal picture, you might have expected unemployment, and what to do about it, to have been a major focus of Wednesday’s press conference with Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve. And it should have been. But it wasn’t.
I’d say that the Fed’s policy is to do nothing about unemployment because Ron Paul is now the chairman of the House subcommittee on monetary policy.

So much for the Fed’s independence. And so much for the future of America’s increasingly desperate jobless. MORE...

"Feingold blasts new pro-White House money group"

Ben Smith:
Former Senator Russ Feingold, a campaign finance purist who refused outside support in his own campaigns, sharply criticized Priorities USA and Priorities USA Action, the new groups that will take unlimited, and partly undisclosed, money to support President Obama's re-election campaign.

"Democrats who mirror the right-wing tactics of Karl Rove and David Koch do our nation no favors. Our democracy is best served by rejecting the fundamentally corrupt strategy of embracing unlimited corporate influence," said Feingold, who now heads Progressives United.

Reflecting the abruptness of the Democrats' pivot on the question of secret cash -- a central talking point in the 2010 election -- a group that backs Democrats on campaign finance issues put out a press release this morning headed, "Campaign Watchdog: Priorities USA Not Hypocritical."

"In order to change the rules of the game, we need to engage in the rules as they are, not as we wish they were. To act otherwise after Citizens United is to take a knife to a gunfight," David Donnelly, the national campaigns director of Public Campaign Action Fund, said in the release.

"Toking" with Lawrence Welk (video)

shipleyt, with video (02:23):
Lawrence Welk does "One Toke Over The Line". Wow.
Howie P.S.: H/t to Stephanie Miller. Myron Floren chokes up a little in the introduction. After the performance, Mr. Welk refers to the tune as "a modern spiritual." I had no idea he knew about that particular connection.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

"Lawrence O’Donnell Hammers NBC" (with video)

Alex Alvarez (MEDIAite) with video (14:46):
We’ve been closely following MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell’s coverage of Donald Trump and the would-be Republican candidate (or not, if you’re inclined to agree with O’Donnell’s assessment of the situation) and we were keen on seeing what he’d have to say about Trump tonight in the wake of the White House’s presentation of Barack Obama’s birth certificate. And O’Donnell did not disappoint.

Instead of going after Trump – a man to which he has devoted time week after week on his show, and one whom he accuses of doing or saying anything in his ongoing quest to quence his insatiable thirst for media attention – O’Donnell set his sights squarely on Trump’s employers at NBC, accusing the network of having effectively “created a monster.” O’Donnell pointed specifically to an anonymous NBC exec who told The New York Times that this is all “just Donald being Donald” (It’s a quote we at Mediaite also found… interesting, to say the least.) MORE...

Baratunde: "With President Obama's Birth Certificate, Klansman Trump Reminds Blacks They Will Never Be American" (with video)

baratunde,with video (07:05:
i'm full of rage and sadness over the president's release of his birth certificate and donald trump's white supremacist gloating.

Keith Olbermann on "The Carnival Barkers" and their Permanent Scandal Machine

Keith Olbermann (FOK NEWS):
It is another reflection of our well-meaning but sometimes utterly tone-deaf President that he really dug up the long-form birth certificate – even after the previous one had been released, even after the Hawaii historians confirmed that 1961 newspaper birth announcements came only from hospitals, even after the looney-tunes World Net Daily had published (then suppressed) its own article confirming all the released documents were legit – dug it up and today released it and believed the distraction of the “carnival barkers” would vanish.

They’re carnival barkers. They don’t stop selling tickets just because there isn’t a real mermaid back there. If you prove there’s no mermaid, tomorrow they’ll tell you there’s a Martian.


This is because the debate has never been about whether or not Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. The debate has been about whether the Republicans could or can do by rumor, innuendo, and Fox Propaganda, what they cannot do by the ballot: find the overarching “scandal” with which to beat a Democratic President. With Bill Clinton it was misconduct, sexual and legal, that made him look like a saint by contrast to the average Republican criticizing him (I’m looking at you, Newt – and all the mini-Newts). With Barack Obama it is anything, anything, anything at all, that will reinforce the idea that he is the dangerous other/terrorist/alien/menace/anti-christ that they can investigate and investigate and investigate, without any of them realizing that their racism – or any of a dozen lesser prejudices – is showing.

And the investigation is there not to prove or disprove anything, but to merely provide its supporters with an excuse, a rationalization, to hate a President and tell themselves they are not doing so because he is a Democrat, or a black man, but because he is somehow legally unqualified for the job. Anything at all will do, providing it holds together long enough for genuinely stupid people like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin and Donald (‘People Love My Hair’) Trump to jump on the bandwagon and lead the chorus in several versions of “We Hate Him, But Not Because He’s Black.”MORE...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"‘Big Problems To Solve’: President Obama Blames Media For Birther ‘Silliness’" (with video)

Mark Joyella-MEDIAite, with video (05:10):
President Obama, who was born in Hawaii as it turns out, and appears legally qualified to serve as president, wasn’t just irritated with the birthers who drove the issue to the country’s front burner (with a lot of help from Donald Trump). The President also called out the media for playing along. “Normally, I would not comment on something like this,” said Obama, explaining that, two weeks ago during the budget debate with Republicans in Congress, he found that the biggest news story was about his birth certificate:

“I am speaking for the vast majority of the American people as well as for the press,” he said. “We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We have better stuff to do. I have got better stuff to do. We have got big problems to solve.” MORE...

"Jimmy Kimmel Live - Can You Keep a Straight Face While Interviewing Donald Trump?" (video)

JimmyKimmelLive, video (02:33).

About Obama's Certificate of Birth and Trump's Mop (with image)

From "White House Releases ‘Long Form Birth Certificate’; Obama To Address Controversy" (MEDIAite):
The White House has announced plans for President Barack Obama to will deliver a statement later this morning in the Brady Press briefing room surrounding the controversy of his birth certificate. The White House blog has confirmed this with a statement and releasing a PDF file of his Certificate of Live Birth... MORE...
Howie P.S.: Now if we can just clear up the mystery surrounding Trump's Mop, this issue should be finally settled.

"Confronting The Coded Racism of Donald Trump"

Ari Melber (The Nation):
Even respected liberal commentators have given Trump something of a pass for the racial tension animating Birtherism. Hendrik Hertzberg, the authoritative essayist, argues in this week's New Yorker that Trump's appeal to birtherism is "part of a larger pattern of rejection of reality" by Republicans, like denying the science of global warming, or believing that "contraception causes abortion."

I think that a loose relationship with the scientific method surely helps conspiracies spread, but Birtherism draws on passions that depart substantially from greenhouse gasses. It is a putatively non-racial, vaguely constitutional way to challenge the legitimacy of the first black president and appeal to racists without sounding officially racist. Sure, there may be plenty of G.O.P. tenets running counter to reality nowadays, yet none evoke the suppressed fury of the Birthers. They won't go away. They are an audience-in-waiting for any amplified race-baiter, from Lou Dobbs to unserious presidential candidates. Indeed, Politifact, the fact-checking site for politics, says its article about the issue, (with a link to the certification of live birth!), is the most read item that it has ever published.

I asked Hertzberg about his formulation, and while he wouldn't "exclude racist undertones," he said the attack is "more about identity." "Obama’s erudition, his ivy-league-ness, his urbanity, his citizen-of-the-worldness, his foreign-sounding name, his respect for the authority of reason and science, his 'aristocratic' 'aloofness' (all of which I love, of course) are equally or more part of the package," Hertzberg proposed in an email. MORE...
Howie P.S.: For the record, the photo above DID NOT accompany this article. I found it online somewhere else (The New Yorker).

Damning with Faint Praise: "Why Obama Gets Four More Years in White House: Ralph Nader"

Ralph Nader (Bloomberg):

Obama is averse to conflict with corporate power and disarmingly expedient in compromising with Republicans, leaving the latter to argue largely among themselves. The political duopoly lets the tactical Obama use the Bully Pulpit to his political advantage, even if his principles perish. Obama can look forward to four more years in 2012. MORE...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

(Updated) Seattle: Today's "Most Viewed" Image (Seattle Times)

UPDATE: Here's the story of how William Kaphaem ended up in his rowboat.

William Kaphaem, who goes by Three Stars, has been living in a 14-foot rowboat under the Highway 520 bridge for nearly a year with his dog, Lulu. He has rigged the boat so it's covered by a brown plastic tarp, with a few feet of headroom. (Photo by Mark Harrison-Seattle Times.) CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE.

Howie P.S.: The rowboat photo reminds me of an iconic Seattle photo from April 16, 1971:

Ari Melber: "The definitive piece for this week."

Ezra Klein (WaPo):
America is mired in three wars. The past decade was the hottest on record. Unemployment remains stuck near 9 percent, and there’s a small, albeit real, possibility that the U.S. government will default on its debt. So what’s dominating the news? A reality-television star who can’t persuade anyone that his hair is real is alleging that the president of the United States was born in Kenya. MORE...
Howie P.S.: H/t to Ari Melber. (Last week and next week as well, most likely.)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Seattle June 18th: "Beyond the Norm - LIVE! with NorMan GoldMan"

brownpapertickets. com:
National Progressive Talk Radio host Norman Goldman brings his "Beyond the Norm" tour to Seattle Saturday June 18th at 12:30 PM at Town Hall. Join Norm for an exciting and informative afternoon of political opinion as well as audience participation from someone who was born into poverty and successfully lived the American dream. Bring your passion, and your brain.
Howie P.S.: Buy tickets and more info here.

"Paul Krugman’s lonely crusade: What’s Left of the Left"

Benjamin Wallace-Wells (New York):
If you are looking not only for clues into Barack Obama’s character but for a definition of what his presidency will mean to the country, then the speech on fiscal policy that he delivered at George Washington University the Wednesday before last is the most significant one he has ever given. It is, in its own way, an astonishing document, alive with the themes that undergirded his Philadelphia speech on race and his Nobel Prize acceptance, on the tragic enmeshment of American limitations and American strength. Obama was responding mostly to the Republican budget plan, and he understood exactly what its author, Representative Paul Ryan, had in his sights: “This vision,” Obama said, “is less about reducing the deficit than it is about changing the basic social compact in America.”

And yet, having defined the fight so starkly, Obama delivered a plea for compromise. He ended a stirring defense of the welfare state by explaining his plans to gut it. Then he said that even this proposed $2 trillion cut in government spending was only a starting point for negotiation: “I don’t expect the details in any final agreement to look exactly like the approach I laid out today,” he said. “This is a democracy; that’s not how things work.” There were notes of deference, and passivity: If Obama believed that his vision of society was at stake, why place it so squarely on the partisan bargaining table—or why not at least begin with a stronger gambit? This was, at any rate, the point of view of one particular strain of liberal reaction, whose position was summed up with poignant resignation by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. “I could live with this as an end result,” he wrote. “If this becomes the left pole, and the center is halfway between this and Ryan, then no. MORE...
H/t to Ari Melber.

Gregoire and the Legislature (WA): "Cuts, not closings, used to close budget hole"

The Olympian (WA):
Last December, when an emotional Gov. Chris Gregoire announced a budget proposal even she said she hated, she proposed to lop whole limbs from government.

Largely, lawmakers didn’t take her up on the idea.

“I think the governor wanted to terminate; we were able to cut back,” said Sen. Steve Conway, a Tacoma Democrat who said the partial cuts would allow programs to rebound once the economy does.

Others, mostly Republicans, wanted the Legislature to make more permanent changes instead of “trying to continue to do everything at a lower level,” Rep. Bruce Dammeier said. “We are saying we need to prioritize for the future, which means we need to jettison some of the things,” the Puyallup Republican said.

Much remains to be decided on the state budget – eyes and ears are tuned to the special session of the Legislature that opens Tuesday and could run 30 days. The House and Senate spending plans both contain deep cuts to schools, services and the social safety net. But unlike Gregoire’s plan, neither of them would:

• Mothball the state history museums in Tacoma, Olympia and Spokane.

• End aid to people whose disabilities have left them temporarily out of work.

• Eliminate the program that subsidizes health insurance coverage for working adults who can’t afford it.

• Cut kids whose parents don’t prove their legal residency off of the rolls of children’s health insurance.

• Completely suspend bonuses for nationally certified teachers.

• Remove 3-year-olds from state-funded preschool. MORE...

David Horsey Takes on Trump (with cartoon)

David Horsey (
So, the current question being asked by the punditocracy (hoping for a positive answer) is this: Can Trump be taken seriously?

I’ve got a better question. Given that Trump is at the top of several GOP presidential polls, can Republicans take themselves seriously?

Trump believes in nothing so much as in himself. This deeply self-impressed bully believes being overbearing is the way to run a company and a country. His idea of a nuanced foreign policy would be to threaten OPEC and send troops into Libya to grab the oil. Willing to adjust his politics to further his own interests, he has done a quick flip-flop on abortion to please the Religious Right and made it known he drops by church on Christmas and Easter. His past praise of Barack Obama has been switched to a harsh critique that includes the loopy allegation the president was born in Kenya. MORE...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Guardian UK: "WikiLeaks: Guantanamo Bay terrorist secrets revealed"

Christopher Hope, Robert Winnett, Holly Watt and Heidi Blake (Telegraph UK):
Guantanamo Bay has been used to incarcerate dozens of terrorists who have admitted plotting terrifying attacks against the West – while imprisoning more than 150 totally innocent people, top-secret files disclose.---Al-Qaeda terrorists have threatened to unleash a “nuclear hellstorm” on the West if Osama Bin Laden is caught or assassinated, according to documents to be released by the WikiLeaks website, which contain details the interrogations of more than 700 Guantanamo detainees.

However, the shocking human cost of obtaining this intelligence is also exposed with dozens of innocent people sent to Guantanamo – and hundreds of low-level foot-soldiers being held for years and probably tortured before being assessed as of little significance. MORE...
Howie P.S.: Many scary and disturbing details can be found in the rest of the article.

Bob Herbert: Can Obama Deliver on His Rhetoric? (video)

GRITtv, with video (14:22):
"There is a hunger out there for some kind of serious approach to the big issues of the day, and you have to be creative about it— that’s our job," says former New York Times columnist Bob Herbert of today's media landscape. Bob joined us in his first in-depth interview since leaving the New York Times in March of this year.

After 20 years of working the at the Times' op-ed desk, Bob left for greener pastures--and a longer word-count. Bob is now working on a new book that will tackle, in depth, some of the issues that he covered in his nearly 20 years of working the "beat of left-out people". Bob joins us today to talk about his career as a journalist, why he left the Times, media, race, and more.

Maddow: "Why Isn't the Progressive Budget Plan on the Table?" (with video)

Lauren Kelley (Sourced from AlterNet) with video (17:37):
On last night's show, Rachel Maddow discussed how there is widespread distaste among Americans for the Ryan budget plan, as evidenced by angry crowds of constituents at town halls around the country (which have gone largely uncovered by the mainstream media). So Maddow asks a glaringly obvious question, but that no one really seems to be asking: why isn't the progressive budget plan on the table? A progressive budget plan exists -- it has been submitted and introduced -- and it is more fiscally responsible than the GOP plan. So what gives? Watch Maddow discuss the issue with Matt Miller, a senior adviser during the Clinton administration, here:

Seattle: "Taking on a City Council Incumbent is a Daunting Task"

Photo: David Bloom

John V. Fox and Carolee Colter (Seattle Displacement Coalition):
Well, it looks like all five Seattle City Council incumbents - Bruce Harrell, Jean Godden, Sally Clark, Tom Rasmussen and Tim Burgess - will be seeking re-election this fall. It’s a daunting task in Seattle to run against and defeat an incumbent.
As we head into the 2011 council election, there’s plenty of voter dissatisfaction with the status quo. But lacking another fiasco like Rick’s Strip Club, it’s inherently difficult for challengers to win under a system of at-large elections and in the absence of publicly financed campaigns. By contrast, with district elections, a challenger could substitute people power for money, and blanket a district with doorbelling, mailings, and issue papers—nearly impossible in city-wide elections.

Incumbents accumulate tens of thousands of dollars from “the establishment” and downtown interests even before the campaign begins. They draw press attention every time they cast a vote or break ground with golden shovels at a public works project, while challengers struggle for endorsements, funding and media coverage.

We followed closely David Bloom’s campaign for City Council two years ago and while he was not running against an incumbent, he was an outsider up against a candidate backed by the establishment and corporate power—the eventual winner Sally Bagshaw.

Bloom raised about $50,000 before the primary. To get there, he spent 6 months on the phone begging for money and building a list of some 600 contributors. He pulled down the majority of key group endorsements and shook a lot of hands in public places. He set up a website and Facebook page and hired a good campaign manager. His volunteers waived signs and planted them everywhere.

He was a credible candidate with a progressive pro-neighborhood message. Yet few primary voters even knew who David Bloom was. He spent most of his funds on cable TV ads no one saw and then could not afford to blanket voters with even one bulk mailing. His second-place finish in a crowded primary carried him through to the final, but with only 18 percent of the vote to Bagshaw’s 51 percent, few took his campaign seriously after that.

In hindsight, our advice to challengers; concentrate like Bloom on fundraising, but raise even more, say, $80,000 before the primary. Cut drastically all expenses except what you’ll need for at least three bulk mailings, including at least two hard hitting pieces right before or even during the period voters mail in ballots. There is no other way to become known. The press might write one piece about your race before the primary, but say little about the distinctions between you and your opponents.

Also you’ll have little space or time to distinguish yourself, so speak almost exclusively about one or two hot-button issues featured prominently on your website and mailings--issues that voters truly care about. MORE...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Daily Dish Mocks Trump's Mop (with map)

The Daily Dish:
Trump's hair blanketed America, and forced all the other post-modern Republicans to act crazy.
H/t to Shaun.

Jim McDermott and Cenk Uygur discuss the Republican plan to "voucherize' Medicare (video)

MoxNewsDotCom, video (12:39).

Van Jones@Power Shift 2011 (video)

energyaction, video (20:24).

Kaine to Obama: "I'm not Howard Dean"

Washington Examiner:
“I got some grief for not being a fire-breathing, you know, rip Republicans’ throat out at every point, and you know when the president asked me to do the DNC job I said, ‘You know honestly…I’m not Howard Dean," Kaine said. "He said, 'Tim, I’m not asking you in spite of who you are, I’m asking because of who you are.’”

“What he was saying is the key, ultimately, we don’t do politics for politics’ sake, and we don’t even do politics for elections’ sake, we do politics for the results that we can try to produce in people’s lives,” he continued.

"The president said, ‘you have been a governor in the worst recession in 70 years, you helped your state to be best-managed state, best state for business, we’re going to have to do some things to get this economy moving again, and I need somebody who can help articulate that message,’” he said. MORE...

"Bill Maher on Palin, Pot and Patriotism"

Tim Dickinson (Rolling Stone):
An extended interview with America's angriest satirist---Republicans prey on something deep in the American psyche. Steinbeck wrote – it must have been the Twenties or the Thirties – about how socialism never caught on in this country because the poor people don’t see themselves poor, they see themselves as “temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” He’s got Joe the Plumber pegged. Remember Joe was apoplectic that Obama was going to raise the tax rate on people making over $250,000 a year — even though Joe had never seen anything close to $250,000, didn’t even have a job or a plumber’s license. But he’s got that Ralph Kramden mentality: I’m gonna, Alice. I’m gonna be a millionaire, Alice! And if I do, that Obama’s not gonna tax me! Joe was getting killed on the imaginary business in his head, and that just could not stand. MORE...
Howie P.S.: Does Hillary have her hands on a bong in the photo above? If only... Maher on the "benefits" of pot:
I was a shy, nerdy kid who never really had that much fun when I was in high school or college. I never went to spring break in college, but I went for years after. I went to Freaknik '93, and I stayed until 2006. Now I limit myself to a very few precious drinks a week. As far as marijuana? Some people, it makes paranoid. Some people, it makes tired and lazy. And some people, it wakes up and makes creative. [Raises hand] I'm in that group.

"Trouble Ahead-Obama has chosen the wrong economic message."

John Judis (The New Republic):
Obama has, sadly, bought the Republican argument for why the economy is in trouble. This week, he went to a community college in Northern Virginia to rally students there to the cause of the deficit. Here’s my expurgated version:
For a long time, Washington acted like deficits didn't matter. … And as the saying goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch. … Now, if we don't close this deficit, now that the economy has begun to grow again, if we keep on spending more than we take in, it's going to cause serious damage to our economy.
Obama has tried to carve a liberal niche within this retrograde political framework by charging that the Republican plan to cut the deficit would get rid of Medicare and would keep the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy. That’s all well and good, but Obama is still playing on Republican turf. And it might not work. The last Democratic presidential candidate who based his campaign on deficits was Walter Mondale in 1984. MORE...
H/t to Digby.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sensible Washington: "On Inevitability"

Sensible Washington:
We’d like to thank NORML Show Live for giving Washington State airtime at the National Conference in Denver this afternoon. Sensible Washington is making an audacious bid to qualify an initiative for the ballot and, if possible, without using paid signature gatherers. Collecting signatures from 8% of the voting public couldn’t possibly happen on its own. Could it?

Sensible Washington operates without directors, but everyone gets to be a producer. We kicked off a 4/20 money bomb and only raised $600. We collected upwards of 5,000 signatures that day.

So how is this happening at all? How long can a campaign hope to double its signature counts every week? What moved a donor to add over $1,000 in the Sensible Washington coffers during 4/20 week? By some state of grace there are more shirts, more signage, more tech, more petitions.

What does it mean when the director of reddit’s cannabis community wants to expose your campaign to an audience of over half a million supporters? How much money do you need for 1,000,000 exposures on Facebook? About $500. MORE...

Ben Smith: "New labor plan: Nationwide protests"

Ben Smith (Politico):
In a major strategic shift, the Service Employees International Union plans to use its giant political operation to try to build a grass-roots movement of public protest and organization similar to the massive show of pro-labor support that overran Madison, Wis., last month.

The SEIU’s ambitious effort is a dramatic departure from its straightforward approach to the 2008 campaign. That year, the union pressed a single-minded and ultimately successful focus on getting Democrats to commit to a health care overhaul. Then it spent more than $32.5 million in independent expenditures to elect President Barack Obama.

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry acknowledged in an interview that the new strategy, which would include aggressive outreach to non-union members, is “a risk.” MORE...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"A graphic reminder of U.S. deficits"

Jonathan Capehart, op-ed (WaPo):
Adam Serwer at the Plum Line notes that liberals are thrilled that President Obama continues to remind everyone how the nation came to find itself in a deep financial hole. He’s been doing this since his debt speech last week, which was the first time in a while. What’s different this time is that he says “we” (read Washington) are to blame instead of the previous administration.

What hasn’t changed is the makeup of this deep financial hole. Obama rhetorically laid it out in his George Washington University speech last week and on Facebook yesterday. But here’s what it looks like graphically.

I’ve given you this ammo before. It comes from a June 2010 report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. My Post colleague Ezra Klein reprised the chart on Tuesday. And because memories are short these days, it’ll never ever get old.

Obama speech in San Francisco: "We may not get there in one term." (video)

KGO, video (36:29).

WA: "The Governor Gins Up a Federal Controversy Over Medical Pot"

Dominic Holden (The Stranger):
So why did the Feds send a letter specifically mentioning state employees?

Because Gregoire specifically asked the Obama administration, in a letter sent on April 13, if state employees would be "immune from arrest or liability." Naturally, prosecutors would never provide blanket immunity—and they made that clear.

At issue is the difference between what the federal government can do and what it actually will do. US attorney general Eric Holder issued a memo in 2009 that indicates, in essence, that the Feds won't intervene in medical marijuana cases that are in compliance with state laws. (Of course, Holder said that the Feds reserved the right to prosecute those cases.)

So, this line of thinking goes, when Gregoire asked the Feds if they could—technically, possibly, even though they never have—charge state employees, she got the answer she wanted (and as the former attorney general of Washington State, Gregoire already knew what the answer would be). Now Gregoire is leveraging the letter to bully the legislature into watering down the bill this week—asking them to gut key protections for sick and dying patients and complicating access for their caretakers. MORE...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"The Facebook President" (video)

MSNBC-Dylan Ratigan, video (06:21).

Howie P.S.: Ari Melber, Cenk Uygur and an obligatory, generic Republican strategist talk with Ratigan about Facebook, Obama and other matters.

"Obama Asked, At Facebook Town Hall, ‘If You Had To Do Anything Differently During Your First Four Years, What Would It Be?’" (video)

Jon Bershad, MEDIAite with video (08:16):

President Obama did a town hall at Facebook headquarters today and got a rousing response. The audience was receptive and he (and moderator Mark Zuckerberg) seemed to be enjoying themselves. However, just like in a job interview (which this kind of was, if you think about it) Obama was eventually asked about his faults. We’ve got his winding response below. And, no, he didn’t say that he “sometimes tries too hard.”

The actual question, the final of the night, was phrased like this; “If you had to do anything differently during your first four years, what would it be?” Obama got around the trick part of the question and pointed out that he’s only actually been in office two and a half years (Ah, I see you do know how to keep track of time. Well done, sir.”) and then got down to business.

“You know, there are all sorts of day to day issues where I say to myself, ‘Ah, I didn’t say that right,’ or ‘I didn’t explain this clearly enough,’ or ‘Maybe if I had sequenced this plan first as opposed to that one, maybe it would have gotten done quicker.’ Health care, obviously, was a huge battle. … We wouldn’t have gotten it done if it hadn’t been for great work in Congress. But I do think that it was so complicated that, at a certain point, people started thinking ‘This is typical Washington bickering’ and I ask myself sometimes if there was a way we could have gotten it done more quickly and in a way that the American people wouldn’t have been so frustrated by.”

Obama then smoothly transitioned from things he has done to things he has to do, talking till the end of the Town Hall about the many ways he wants to spend the rest of his term and whatever (cough second term cough).

Man, I bet this guy is awesome at job interviews.

Check out the clip from C-Span below:

Institute For Economics And Peace: WA is "10th Safest State In The U.S."

Harry Bradford (HuffPo):
While the nation as a whole might be in financial disarray, some states have found surprising success in lowering government spending by reducing crime, according to a new report by the Institute for Economics and Peace.
Howie P.S.: Here's the whole Top Ten List.

"A little something for 4/20." (video)

rikilind, video (02:18):
Riki "Garfunkel" Lindhome and Kate "Oates" Micucci sing about the perils of obtaining medical marijuana in California.
H/t to Dan Savage (SLOG).

NY Times: "Obama’s Young Mother Abroad"

Stanley Ann Dunham at Borobudur in Indonesia, in the early 1970s.

Janny Scott (NY Times):
The president’s mother has served as any of a number of useful oversimplifications. In the capsule version of Obama’s life story, she is the white mother from Kansas coupled alliteratively to the black father from Kenya. She is corn-fed, white-bread, whatever Kenya is not. In “Dreams From My Father,” the memoir that helped power Obama’s political ascent, she is the shy, small-town girl who falls head over heels for the brilliant, charismatic African who steals the show. In the next chapter, she is the na├»ve idealist, the innocent abroad. In Obama’s presidential campaign, she was the struggling single mother, the food-stamp recipient, the victim of a health care system gone awry, pleading with her insurance company for cover­age as her life slipped away. And in the fevered imaginings of supermarket tabloids and the Internet, she is the atheist, the Marx­ist, the flower child, the mother who abandoned her son or duped the newspapers of Hawaii into printing a birth announcement for her Kenyan-born baby, on the off chance that he might want to be president someday.

The earthy figure in the photograph did not fit any of those, as I learned over the course of two and a half years of research, travel and nearly 200 interviews. MORE...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

KUOW NEWS: "Washington's Senators Blame Speculators For Rising Gas Prices" (with audio)

Sen. Patty Murray speaks as Sen. Maria Cantwell looks on during a news conference Monday, April 18, 2011, in Seattle. Murray and Cantwell are blaming commodity speculators for pushing up the price of gasoline and the two called for federal regulators to crack down on speculation. The AAA auto club reports the average price of gas in Washington is $3.92, nine cents higher than the national average.
AP Photo logo AP Photo-Sen. Patty Murray speaks as Sen. Maria Cantwell looks on during a news conference Monday, April 18, 2011, in Seattle. Murray and Cantwell are blaming commodity speculators for pushing up the price of gasoline and the two called for federal regulators to crack down on speculation. The AAA auto club reports the average price of gas in Washington is $3.92, nine cents higher than the national average.
Deborah Wang(KUOW NEWS) with transcript and audio (03:40):
The AAA auto club reports the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the Seattle area is $3.92. That's up four cents in the past week and nine cents a gallon higher than the national average.

High gas prices have prompted the state's two US Senators to step up their calls for new regulations in the financial markets. They say speculators are to blame for the spike in prices. But that's the subject of some debate.

"Join Sensible Washington on 4/20 – It’s Time to End Cannabis Prohibition in Washington State"

Sensible Washington:
Sensible Washington is planning a series of events around the state this Wednesday, April 20, to promote I-1149 and gather signatures. This ballot initiative would remove all civil and criminal penalties for the adult possession, use, manufacture or delivery of cannabis, and it would instruct the legislature to enact appropriate regulations for those activities. The passage of this bill would reduce criminal activity, provide a much-needed boost to the state economy, allow for both cannabis and hemp to be grown in environmentally-sound ways, and establish enforceable age restrictions that can finally prevent sales to minors.

In Seattle, there will be a press conference at the north end of Westlake Park at 1:00 p.m. where attorneys, activists, and other volunteers will speak on behalf of Initiative 1149 and answer questions. This will be followed by a rally at 2:00 p.m. MORE...

Chuck Schumer on the Federal Budget: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly (video)

raulism, video (04:57):
Senator Charles Schumer talks about the recent federal budget at the CBID (Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats) awards ceremony.
Howie P.S.: Posted in honor of my Brooklyn-born father and my wife and daughter who are visiting colleges in New York this week.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

"Change we can believe in?’ Not when it comes to medical marijuana policy"

Paul Armentano-NORML (AlterNet):
It was just three years ago when President Obama (then candidate Obama) famously pledged to no longer use federal “Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws” regulating the physician authorized use of medical cannabis. And it was in the fall of 2009 that the administration issued the Ogden memorandum to federal prosecutors directing them to not “focus federal resources … on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.”

Yet in recent days the administration has seen fit to interject itself in the ongoing legislative debate to establish and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington state. Last week, on the eve of a final House vote regarding Senate Bill 5073, the U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington issued a statement warning landlords that they could face forfeiture of their properties if they rent to licensed medical marijuana facilities. Undeterred, the House passed SB 5073 (the Senate had previously passed an earlier version of the bill), setting up a potential showdown between lawmakers and Democrat Gov. Chris Gregoire. MORE...

"Redemption Song"---Around the World (video)

PlayingForChange, video (04:16).

Howie P.S.: Video of this Marley song with various international performers.

Joe Bageant: "Lost in the American Undertow"

Rain150 Joe Bageant:

The following is the introduction to Joe Bageant's newly released book, Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir---The United States has always maintained a white underclass — citizens whose role in the greater scheme of things has been to cushion national economic shocks through the disposability of their labor, with occasional time off to serve as bullet magnets in defense of the Empire. Until the post-World War II era, the existence of such an underclass was widely acknowledged. During the Civil War, for instance, many northern abolitionists also called for the liberation of “four million miserable white southerners held in bondage by the wealthy planter class”. Planter elites, who often held several large plantations which, together, constituted much or most of a county’s economy, saw to it that poor whites got no schooling, money, or political power. Poll taxes and literacy requirements kept white subsistence farmers and poor laborers from entering voting booths. Often accounting for up to 70 percent of many deep-Southern counties, they could not vote, and thus could never challenge the status quo.

Today, almost nobody in the social sciences seems willing to touch the subject of America’s large white underclass; or, being firmly placed in the true middle class themselves, can even agree that such a thing exists. Apparently, you can’t smell the rabble from the putting green. MORE...