Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Frank Rich: "Day’s End-The 9/11 decade is now over. The terrorists lost. But who won?"

Frank Rich (New York Magazine):
In retrospect, the most consequential event of the past ten years may not have been 9/11 or the Iraq War but the looting of the American economy by those in power in Washington and on Wall Street. This was happening in plain sight—or so we can now see from a distance. At the time, we were so caught up in Al ­Qaeda’s external threat to America that we didn’t pay proper attention to the more prosaic threats within.
It was only a month after 9/11 that the Enron scandal erupted, kicking off a larger narrative that would persist for the rest of the decade. The Houston energy company was a corporate Ponzi scheme that anticipated the antics at financial institutions, mortgage mills, and credit-rating agencies during the subprime scam. Enron had also been the biggest patron of Bush’s political career, and so the president dutifully promised a crackdown, with a new “financial crimes SWAT team” and “tough new criminal penalties for corporate fraud.” But this propaganda campaign was no more reality-based than the one that would promote Saddam’s weapons of mass ­destruction. Once the Enron collapse became old news, federal regulatory agencies and law enforcement were encouraged to go fishing as the housing bubble inflated and banks manufactured toxic paper that would send America and the world into a ruinous dive rivaling bin Laden’s cruelest fantasies.

It is that America—the country where rampaging greed usurped the common good in wartime, the country that crashed just as Bush fled the White House—that we live in today. It has little or no resemblance to the generous and heroic America we glimpsed on 9/11 and the days that followed. Our economy and our politics are broken. We remain in hock to jihadist oil producers as well as to China. Our longest war stretches into an infinite horizon. After watching huge ­expenditures of American blood and ­treasure install an Iran-allied “democracy” in a still-fratricidal Iraq, Americans have understandably resumed their holiday from history where it left off, turning their backs on the Arab Spring.

Thanks to the killing of the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and the scattering of Al Qaeda, at least no one can say, ten years later, that the terrorists won. But if there’s anything certain about the new decade ahead, it’s that sooner or later we will have to address the question of exactly who did. MORE...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Chris Gregoire on Thom Hartmann on Green Energy (video)

thomhartmann, video (07:14).

H/t to Darryl.

"Army Ranger Widow Confronts Rumsfeld Over His Lies That Convinced Her Husband to Join the Military" (with video)

Democracy Now! with video:
We speak with the widow of a U.S. Army Ranger who confronted former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld about her husband’s suicide on Saturday. Ashley Joppa-Hagemann introduced herself to Rumsfeld during a book-signing by handing him a copy of her husband’s funeral program at a base south of Tacoma, Washington. MORE...
Howie P.S.: Ashley Joppa-Hagemann spoke to Amy Goodman from a studio in Seattle. Her husband was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma.

Fox Contributor To Bill Nye: You're 'Confusing Our Viewers' On Climate Change" (with video)

David Taintor (TPM) with video (06:23):
Just days after Hurricane Irene swept up the East Coast, causing massive flooding in Vermont and leading to almost 40 deaths, Fox Business Network personality Charles Payne just had to ask, is global warming really to blame?

His guest, Bill Nye "The Science Guy," said there is evidence to suggest it is a result of global warming, but that climatologists will need more time to fully connect the dots. Nye went on to lay out in plain terms some of the facts of climate change, including rising temperatures in the Pacific ocean. The two debated a Newsweek story claiming radical weather is the "new normal," with Payne asking Nye if that was "irresponsible, or is there any science behind it?"

Well, Nye said, "there's a lot more science behind it than saying it's not. MORE...

UNLESS HE CAN END THE BUSH TAX CUTS: "Obama faces tight restraints in crafting jobs plan"

Hamstrung by budget cuts and a tight debt ceiling, President Barack Obama is preparing a September jobs package with limited tools at his disposal to prime the economy and crank up employment.

At a minimum, the president's plan will call on Congress to extend current payroll tax cuts and jobless benefits, spend money for new construction projects and offer incentives to businesses to hire more workers. But economists say that while that would eliminate some drag on the economy and maintain the status quo, it won't be enough to propel it to new heights. MORE...

Monday, August 29, 2011

John Nichols on Olbermann: "Get With the Program, Obama" (with video)

Anna Lekas Miller (The Nation) with video (05:07) from MSNBC-Countdown:
In battleground states—states where there have been special elections, and in the case of Wisconsin, recall elections—Democrats who run on a clear platform of standing with the workers, defending public education and taxing corporations and the wealthy have been doing as much as twenty percent better than Democrats who ran on more moderate platforms in the 2000 elections.

John Nichols joins Keith Olbermann on Countdown to discuss how Barack Obama needs to wake up and notice just how concretely these numbers reflect the progressive needs of the swing states. Read John Nichols's recent article on former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold's decision to leave politics for progressive campaigning here.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

"Confusion You Can Believe In" (cartoon)


"Confusion You Can Believe In" (Darrin Bell-CANDORVILLE).

Howie P.S.: I'm hoping Obama will give us a peek behind the curtain during the 2012 election to help clear up this "confusion."

H/t to Marcia Kato.

"Al Gore Compares Climate Change Skeptics To 20th Century Racists" (with video)

Josh Feldman (MEDIAite) with video (06:20):
Al Gore pushed the rhetorical envelope yesterday when he compared skeptics of climate change to racists during the Civil Rights Movement. Gore was sitting down for an interview with Alex Bogusky of the Climate Reality Project, and suggested that young people today whose parents do not believe in climate change are asking the same questions now that race-conscious young people in the 60s asked their parents. MORE...
Howie P.S.: I believe Al knows what he's talking about on these subjects.

Dominic Holden: "Walk into the Light McGinn---Why the Mayor Is Weaker Than Ever, Even with His Base"

Dominic Holden (The Stranger):
Let's not be contrarians just for the sake of being contrary. Mayor Mike McGinn was the indisputable loser of the August election. Face-plant. In the mud. Limbs hog-tied and floundering. He's in a far worse place now, even with the toxic tunnel issue off his plate, than ever before.

It wasn't only that voters approved the tunnel on August 16 (a tunnel that McGinn campaigned to stop) by a 16-point margin. And it wasn't just the brute strength of business lobbies that funded the pro-tunnel vote and cast it as a referendum to reject the mayor.

It was also the parade of McGinn's self-created losses that culminated on August 16. That date marked the deadline for McGinn to fulfill promises he made when he ran for office and after he was elected. That is, deadlines that he missed. MORE...
Howie P.S.: I guess the The Stranger has been liberated from its relentless cheer-leading of the mayor, at least until it's time for the re-election campaign. Goldy is still there, however.

Bill McKibben on Tarsands: "The Next Environmental Disaster" (video)

MSNBC-The Last Word, video (05:17).

Howie P.S.: AMERICAblog and the GuardianUK have stories up. From the GuardianUK:
Bill McKibben, who helped organise the protests at the White House, said the approval from the State Department had been expected. The secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, indicated last year that she favoured the pipeline.

"Everyone has known exactly what they would say all along. And everyone knows that they've valiantly ignored the elephant in the room - the fact that this would go a long ways towards opening up the world's second-largest pool of carbon," he wrote in an email.

However, McKibben held out hope that Obama - who still has final authority over the project - might step in to stop the pipeline.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Watch: "Live Streaming Local News Coverage Of Hurricane Irene"

WAVYTV 10 via MSNBC, streaming video.

Papantonio: "The Ugly Life of Dick Cheney" (video)

Ring of Fire Radio, video (06:43)
Mike Papantonio joins Lizz Winstead and Ed Schultz on The Ed Show on MSNBC to talk about Dick Cheney’s forthcoming “memoir.” Mike talks about what he hopes Cheney will disclose in his new book, including the truth behind his secret energy meetings and maybe even some disclosure on how he destroyed Valerie Plame’s career.

"Ziggy Marley | Free Download | Don't You Kill Love" (audio/video)

ziggymarleycom, with audio/video (06:23):
From Ziggy: We have a new free download for you taken from our 2004 USA tour, a VERY rare live version of "DYKL". The only year I did that song live haven't played it since so yes, it's pretty rare even for me. This song is on the Dragonfly album the live version is from Santa Cruz, USA, 2004. Enjoy and share. Love.

"Dr. King Weeps From His Grave"

Cornel West (NY Times, op-ed):
The age of Obama has fallen tragically short of fulfilling King’s prophetic legacy. Instead of articulating a radical democratic vision and fighting for homeowners, workers and poor people in the form of mortgage relief, jobs and investment in education, infrastructure and housing, the administration gave us bailouts for banks, record profits for Wall Street and giant budget cuts on the backs of the vulnerable.

As the talk show host Tavis Smiley and I have said in our national tour against poverty, the recent budget deal is only the latest phase of a 30-year, top-down, one-sided war against the poor and working people in the name of a morally bankrupt policy of deregulating markets, lowering taxes and cutting spending for those already socially neglected and economically abandoned. Our two main political parties, each beholden to big money, offer merely alternative versions of oligarchic rule. MORE...

Friday, August 26, 2011

GREENWOOD GOTHIC: "At Mayor Mike McGinn's Backyard BBQ" (with photos)

Eli Sanders (The Stranger):
Mayor McGinn, taking questions from a constituent yesterday evening."Mayor McGinn, taking questions from a constituent yesterday evening."

The light in Mayor Mike McGinn's back yard yesterday evening was so perfect it felt like we were at a staged shoot for some future campaign mailer. It was just a lucky, late-summer fluke, this tree-filtered golden light, but McGinn and his guests soaked it up.

He was kicking off his re-election effort with a low-key, homey fundraiser that drew about 100 supporters, each asked to pay $50 to get behind the white picket fence at the McGinn family's modest Greenwood house.

There was an open bar; a nice spread (including veggie burgers, raspberries in yogurt, orzo salad, and homemade chocolate chip cookies); and of course a speech in which McGinn, dressed in Tevas, camping shorts, and a red polo shirt, reminded his donors how things went in his underdog 2009 campaign.

"I didn't get a lot of money from the people who normally hand out money," McGinn told the crowd. "But there's a flip side to that: I don't answer to them."

There, standing between a McGinn family rain barrel and the McGinn family vegetable garden, were the people McGinn said he answers to:

Greenwood Gothic.
  • E.S.
  • Greenwood Gothic.
Howie P.S.: I have previously opined about how the The Stranger is McGinn's "BFF" and this story about his campaign roll-out, Seattle-style, fits my story line.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Trumka Tells Obama to Stop 'Nibbling Around the Edge' on Jobs"

Jake Tapper (ABC News):
AFL/CIO President Richard Trumka today urged President Obama to put forth “bold solutions” to the nation’s unemployment crisis in his post-Labor Day jobs speech, warning of political peril if he’s seen as merely “nibbling around the edge” of the issue.

“History will judge him and I think working people will judge him,” Trumka told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington, according to video of the event.

Trumka said Obama made a “strategic mistake” in trying to address both the unemployment situation and deficit crisis at the same time over recent weeks and must now focus solely and aggressively on creating jobs. MORE...

Taibbi: : "Obama Goes All Out For Dirty Banker Deal"

barack obama
President Barack Obama
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Matt Taibbi:
The Times story claims that HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and various Justice Department officials have been leaning on the New York AG to cave, which tells you that reining in this last rogue cop is now an urgent priority for Barack Obama.

Why? My theory is that the Obama administration is trying to secure its 2012 campaign war chest with this settlement deal. If Barry can make this foreclosure thing go away for the banks, you can bet he’ll win the contributions battle against the Republicans next summer.

Which is good for him, I guess. But it seems to me that it might be time to wonder if is this the most disappointing president we’ve ever had. MORE...

Greenwald: "A progressive case for Obama's foreign policy greatness?"

Glenn Greenwald:
A progressive case for Obama's foreign policy greatness?

At The Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky today says that while President Obama "hasn’t been much of a domestic-policy president from nearly anyone’s point of view" (he apparently hasn't read Steve Benen or Ezra Klein lately), the war in Libya highlights how "one can see how he might become not just a good but a great foreign-policy president." Tomasky's argument is somewhat cautious and expressly contingent on unknown, future events, but is nonetheless revealing -- both in what it says and what it omits -- about how some influential progressives conceive of the Obama presidency. MORE...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Howie in Seattle is back online, due to the wisdom and patience of his beloved wife. We are off (and probably offline until the weekend) to take our daughter to college later this morning.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

(Updated) Offline Awhile: Spilt Green Tea and Daughter Goes to College

UPDATE: OCD post---"We'll Be Voting on $60 Car Tabs"--How the City Council Outfoxed the Mayor on Transit Funding-- by Dominic Holden in The Stranger.

Coincidentally, Howie spilt some green tea on his modem and we are delivering our daughter to a college down the road this week, so you are granted a respite from my posts until we get our house in order--hopefully by next week.

Howie P.S.: In case you're wondering how I posted this, thanks to the Hotwire Cafe!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

"Exclusive: Matt Taibbi on SEC covering up Wall Street crimes" (with video)

Countdown, video (04:07):
In this "Countdown" exclusive interview, Keith sits down with Rolling Stone contributing editor Matt Taibbi to discuss breaking the story about the Securities and Exchange Commission destroying the records of promising cases in the years leading up to the financial meltdown.

"Kucinich joins local pro-pot pols at Seattle Hempfest"

Jim Brunner (Seattle Times):
Of course, Kucinich wasn't the only pro-legalization politician to take the Hempfest stage. Also speaking were Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, City Attorney Pete Holmes, City Councilman Nick Licata and state Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, D-Seattle.

So did state Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, who might wind up competing with Kucinich in 2012.

Goodman has filed to run for the 1st Congressional District seat being vacated by Jay Inslee, who is running for governor. That's one of two open seats Kucinich is thought to be eyeing in Washington (the state's new 10th District is the other.)

Goodman is an attorney who has long championed marijuana legalization. His reputation is so strong in the pro-legalization community that one fellow Hempfest speaker said Kucinich would be wrong to run against him.

"He (Kucinich) can do anything he wants and this movement will be 100 percent behind him -- except run against Roger Goodman," said Don E. Wirtshafter, a longtime Hempfest activist from Ohio, in an interview. MORE...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

"The 6th Annual AM1090 Forum" (with audio and video)

AM1090 with audio and video:
Click Here For Pictures, Audio And Video!

The 6th Annual AM1090 Forum “Progressive Values: Protecting The Social Safety Net” brings the biggest nationally syndicated progressive talk radio hosts together on one stage to discuss the major political and public policy issues facing our country and what we as citizens must do to put our nation on a path toward progress and prosperity.

With federal budget woes and the ever growing corporate influence on politics and policy, the very fabric of our American way of life is wearing thin. Join us as we discuss the essence of Progressive thought; the need to fight back against attacks on Social Security and Medicare; against the erosion of our country’s manufacturing base and the outsourcing of American jobs; against the war on the middle class; and why bigger and bolder government action may be the only hope to fix the mounting problems we face today.

This year’s lineup includes US Representative Dennis Kucinich, Stephanie Miller, Mike Papantonio, Norman Goldman, Randi Rhodes, Mike Malloy, and special guest Ron Reagan. Questions from the audience will guide the discussion, moderated by former Seattle Times Chief Political Reporter David Postman.

Howie P.S.: Parts 1-9 on YouTube here. If you want the short course, go to Parts 8-9 where the panelists present their summary statements.

"How Washington Could Create Jobs Right Now"

Michael Winship (Truthout-Op-Ed):

"We currently need about 8.2 million more jobs to reduce the nation's unemployment rate to 4.5%. Creating that many jobs in a program like the one described... would require a net increase in federal spending of about $235 billion during the first year... If the Bush-era tax cuts had been allowed to expire at the end of 2010, the federal government would have collected about $295 billion in additional revenue during 2011. This would have been more than enough to cover the cost of the job program." MORE...

"Countdown with Keith ...": Markos Moulitsas on the top GOP contenders" (with video)

Current, with video from Countdown (04:26):
Keith Olbermann discusses the latest on the top Republican presidential hopefuls with Markos Moulitsas, founder and publisher of "Daily Kos," and a "Countdown" Contributor.
Howie P.S.: If you want some dish on Governor Rawhide and the others, this one's for you.

Friday, August 19, 2011

"The Wrong Idea: austerity on autopilot"

NY Times (editorial):
Stocks on Wall Street dropped sharply on Thursday, with investors spooked, again, about the euro-zone debt crisis and the sputtering United States economy.

Yet, even at this hour, leaders on both sides of the Atlantic seem determined to handcuff fiscal policies — the main tools that can increase jobs, consumer demand and economic growth — with an unquestioning devotion to rigid austerity. MORE...

"Bob Marley & The Wailers 'High Tide Or Low Tide' (Save The Children's East Africa Appeal)" (with video)

bobmarley, with video (02:64):
Raising awareness for the Save the Children Campaign in East Africa
Donations Link:

The devastating food crisis in Somalia and across East Africa is the worst in decades. Over 12 million people are affected -- many have no food, no water and have lost all their livestock. Millions of children face starvation if help is not delivered now. Save the Children and other aid agencies have launched a huge emergency response across the region and are on the ground delivering life-saving aid. MORE...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"A Tale of Two Michel(l)es: Bachmann and Obama" (with video)

Anna Lekas Miller (The Nation) with video from MSNBC (06:09):
On the campaign trail in 2008, Michelle Obama spoke at a rally and told the American people that for the first time in her adult life, "I am proud of my country." The backlash was swift, as news commentators and politicians of all creeds and colors—black, white, male and female—implied that she was Barack Obama's angry, bitter wife. In other words, they could not understand Michelle Obama outside of the angry, Black woman stereotype.

Before winning the Iowa Straw poll this past weekend, however, Michele Bachmann made a similar statement. But instead of being lambasted for not appreciating her country, the media has ignored her almost identical comment.

On MSNBC's The Last Word last night, Melissa Harris-Perry offered a comparison of the two responses, and her own definition of equality: "We will be an equal society when we can all celebrate and criticize our country together."

"Rep. Waters Pushes Back At Obama During Black Caucus Talk": ‘We’re Getting Tired’ (with video)

MEDIAite, with video (13:10):
It’s town hall season, and the Congressional Black Caucus is the first this year to get a mouthful from frustrated constituents on the economy. In a clip that quickly made the rounds in the news cycle, the panel meeting the Detroit crowd yesterday defended the President’s work, but with a bit of malaise, as Rep. Maxine Waters argued they were “getting tired” and “don’t know why on this trip… he’s not in any black community.” That the President is having trouble with his most loyal constituency is already being touted as a sign that 2012 isn’t going to be a Democratic cakewalk. MORE...

WA: "Stoner Standoff Pot Movement Clashes over Dueling Pot Initiatives"

Dominic Holden (The Stranger):
The spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood will awaken in blissful harmony this weekend at Hempfest, the world's largest celebration of the magickal cannabis plant, as activists unite behind a communal strategy to legalize marijuana.

Just kidding.

These activists are at each other's fucking throats.

Specifically, two factions of the marijuana legalization movement will clash in Myrtle Edwards Park this weekend (August 19–21) with dueling initiatives. So if you sign a pot petition at Hempfest and somebody asks you to sign another petition a few minutes later, it may be a different one. Because even though Hempfest will likely be another breezy affair in a marijuana-friendly city, Seattle's pot movement is divided by money, policy, and (of course) cultural differences.

The front-running campaign filed an initiative in June—with a cast of straitlaced sponsors, including former US attorney John McKay and travel personality Rick Steves—and has already raised a quarter-­million dollars. The pioneering initiative would raise hundreds of millions in tax dollars for the state by allowing adults to purchase marijuana in stores, but it would ban people from growing marijuana at home. Between 85 and 100 petitioners are signed up to canvass the crowd to place this measure on next year's fall ballot, says campaign director Alison Holcomb.

The group is called New Approach Washington—known for short as NAW.

So what's the problem?

"I think NAW is a piece of shit," says Douglas Hiatt, who ran the campaign for another initiative, Sensible Washington, which raised relatively little money and failed to gather enough signatures two years in a row. He believes federal drug laws would nullify most of the NAW measure, and a provision that establishes an automatic penalty for driving under the influence of pot would turn medical marijuana patients who drive into criminals.

"I think it's divided the community pretty severely," Hiatt says about the hundreds of volunteers he's worked with and Seattle's robust medical marijuana industry. He calls the NAW measure "an expensive publicity stunt."

So on July 27, a new group filed a petition to legalize marijuana, based on the text of Sensible Washington's twice-failed measure. This statewide initiative would simply remove all state penalties for marijuana. That approach, says spokesman Don Skakie, would let you "grow it for yourself" without paying taxes on the pot.

The name of that new group? Yes End Penalties—or YEP!

That's right: It's YEP versus NAW. MORE...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

(Seattle) "Mayor McGinn shares his thoughts on the Approval of Referendum 1" (with video)

Seattle's Q13 FOXNEWS, with video (04:55):
Q13 FOX News Political Analyst C.R. Douglas interviewed Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn to discuss his thoughts on the results of Referendum 1, which asked voters if they approve of City Council process on the tunnel project.
Howie P.S.: Andrew @ the NPI ADVOCATE offers his thoughts on the vote and the Prop 1 campaign.

Ari Melber on "The impracticality of compromise" (video)

MSNBC-Dylan Ratigan, video (05:50).

"Does Obama camp see upside in pissing off the left?"

Greg Sargent:
The story exploding on the left right now is that the Obama campaign’s state director in New Mexico sent out an email containing a blog post mocking Paul Krugman and the “firebagger liberal blogosphere”for criticizing the debt ceiling deal negotiated by the White House. Liberal bloggers are asking whether this is the latest sign that the Obama team sees percentage in dumping on the left — or “hippie punching,” as the blogospheric parlance has it.

The Obama official, Ray Sandoval, circulated the email just after the debt ceiling deal passed Congress, hammering lefty critics for deriding the deal as a surrender. Sandoval’s email included a blog post that derided Krugman as a “political rookie” and decried critics for “pure, fanatic, indomitable hysteria.”

The term “firebagger” appears to be a reference to Firedoglake, whose bloggers frequently hammer the White House for giving too much ground to Republicans.

The Obama campaign is now going on the record distancing itself from the email. A campaign spokesman, Katie Hogan, emails: “The views expressed in this email do not represent the views of the campaign.”
...this story does provide a window into what I think is a real problem —the nature of the Obama team’s frustration with liberal critics. The problem is that some on the Obama team don’t reckon with what it is lefty critics are actually saying. Obama advisers get angry when they think liberal critics are refusing to accept the limits placed on him by current political realities, and when lefties presume at the outset that Obama will inevitably sell out. That’s reflected in Sandoval’s angry email and in other periodic explosions of anger at the “professional left.”

Goldy's Only in Seattle Counterintuition: "The Big Winner in Yesterday's Tunnel Referendum? Mayor Mike McGinn"

Goldy (SLOG):
Here's a bit of contrarian punditry for you: The biggest winner in yesterday's pro-tunnel victory was our anti-tunnel mayor, Mike McGinn.

"Whaaaaa...?" You might be asking yourself. "Is Goldy still drunk on all those free Big-Business/Big-Labor beers?" The answer is "No" (although I do have a bit of headache), and it's not a conclusion to which I've recently come. I expected the tunnel referendum to pass by a double-digit margin, I don't view it as a profoundly anti-McGinn vote, and I'm convinced that the referendum's passage was the best thing that could happen for McGinn's 2013 reelection prospects. And judging from his terse yet graceful response to yesterday's results, I'm guessing the politically savviest of the mayor's people agree with me. MORE...

Howie P.S.: I'll take a pass on this particular shot of free booze.

"The Last of Wisconsin's Recall Elections" (with video)

Anna Lekas Miller (The Nation) with video (04:44)from MSNBC-ED Show:
After a summer of outside money and fake candidates, Wisconsin's historic recall elections are finally over. Despite the media's coverage of the "failed recall elections," the actual numbers show that Democrats won five seats while Republicans won overall victory for Democrats. Not only is the state Senate only one seat away from having a Democratic majority, but one of the moderate Republicans currently in the senate was against Scott Walker's union busting agenda. In other words, Wisconsin has a pro-union state Senate.

The Nation's John Nichols joins The Ed Show to discuss what the victory means for Scott Walker's anti-union political agenda.

Joan Walsh: "What Obama really said about unions"

Joan Walsh (Salon):
His comments on public sector workers were more sympathetic than critical, even as he called for "shared sacrifice."---On MSNBC's "The Ed Show" last night, Sirius XM radio host Joe Madison and I listened to a short clip of President Obama in Decorah, Iowa, answering a teacher's question about the importance of collective bargaining rights, especially for public sector workers. In the clip, Obama acknowledged the role of unions in improving wages and conditions for all workers, but quickly pivoted to his time-honored appeals for "reform" and "shared sacrifice." Madison and I both criticized the president for failing to back public sector unions more fully and for acting as though unions hadn't already sacrificed.

Tuesday a reader pointed me to Obama's full remarks, and having read the whole transcript, I think my reaction was unfair.MORE...

Seattle: "Godden, Hague could face tough re-election in Nov."

Chris Grygiel (
Two-term incumbent City Councilwoman Jean Godden captured just 46 percent of the vote in early primary returns Tuesday evening, suggesting the incumbent seen as most vulnerable in November could be in for a tough re-election fight.

Godden's foe in November will most likely be long-time City employee and manager Bobby Forch, who as running second for the Position 1 seat with 24 percent.

All of Godden's Council colleagues who are up for re-election easily made it into the general election: Bruce Harrell will face former financial journalist and Municipal League Chairman Bradley Meacham; Sally Clark (who was getting 71 percent of the early primary vote) will face off with Dian Ferguson; Tom Rasmussen will run against accountant Dale Pusey, and Tim Burgess against architect David Schraer. (Harrell, Rasmussen and Burgess each only faced one opponent and did not have to run in the primary).

Meanwhile King County Council incumbent Jane Hague also looks to be in trouble. She was getting just 39 percent of early votes. She'll face either Richard Mitchell or John Creighton (Mitchell appeared to have the edge in early returns). The other County Councilmember up for election, Joe McDermott, will run against Diana Toledo. County voters were also easily approving the renewal of Proposition 1, the Veterans and Human Resources levy. The six-year measure to pay for programs to assist veterans and their families, as well as general human services programs, would cost the owner of a $400,000 home $20 a year in property taxes. MORE...

Seattle: "Why the Anti-Tunnel Campaign Lost"

McGinn in front of the viaduct in 2010 (Joshua Trujillo/ file photo)

Sandeep Kaushik (publicola):
It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way. A few short months ago, as pro-tunnel backers fought — and failed — to keep a tunnel referendum off the ballot, the conventional wisdom was that Seattle voters would surely vote against the tunnel if they were given the chance for an up-or-down vote.

I shared that view. Polling showed that the tunnel is the first choice of only about 35 percent of Seattle voters. While downtown interests were united in supporting the tunnel, for a diverse array of reasons skepticism about the tunnel plan ran deep among the public. Seemingly all the anti-tunnel campaign needed to do was amplify those doubts to emerge victorious.

While they were always likely to be outspent by the pro-tunnel interests, they supposedly had an army of energized activists to take their message directly to doorsteps across the city. And after all, hadn’t Mike McGinn’s election as mayor proved that grassroots passion trumps establishment money in Seattle elections? At a June fundraiser for Dow Constantine, guests were asked to pick the outcomes of upcoming races. I guessed that Referendum 1 would go down to defeat, 54-46.

So what happened? The campaign happened. As the Let’s Move Forward pro-tunnel side ran an effective, disciplined campaign — central message: tens years of debate is long enough, it is time to move forward — the anti-tunnel forces floundered, making a series of strategic and tactical errors that damaged their cause.

Here, in my view, are the errors made by the anti-tunnel side...MORE...

"Obama strikes realist tone" (CNN interview)

Abby Phillip (Politico):
President Barack Obama acknowledged Tuesday that he may be a one-term president if voters’ patience with the pace of the economic recovery runs out by next November.

“The mess has been bigger than a lot of people anticipated at the time,” Obama said in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer from Peosta, Iowa. “We have made steady progress on these fronts but we’re not making progress fast enough. What I continue to believe is that ultimately the buck stops with me. I’m going to be accountable.”

Throughout the interview, whether asked about the economy or next year’s campaign, the president struck a realist tone — conceding the scale of problems facing the country while insisting his administration is working diligently to fix them.

Obama said that even though Americans understand that the economy’s problems are “decades in the making,” voters are “impatient” to see more progress on the economy.

“I understand that and I’m sympathetic to that,” Obama said. MORE...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

(Seattle) "Students Take On The School System" (with audio)

"Weekday High' interns Chetan Chandrashekhar and Kamna Shastri."

KUOW-WEEKDAY-Steve Scher, with audio:
There are four Seattle School Board positions up for election, but none are reserved for a student–age member. Some teenagers believe a student should have a permanent seat at the table to help align school board policy with the desires of the student body. Is this a good idea? Are you a student? What do you think is right or wrong with public schools? Parents, what desires did you have for your school as a student? Does that jive with what you want for your kids? A panel of students join us with their take on our educational system.


Chetan Chandrashekhar is a senior at Nathan Hale High School and a member of the Seattle Youth Commission. He's also a part of the "Weekday High" internship program.

Alex Jonlin was a founder and member of the Legislative Youth Advisory Council. He graduated from Garfield High School last year and will be attending University of California, Berkeley in the fall.

Kamna Shastri is a senior at Inglemoor High School, which is part of the North Shore School District. She's also part of the "Weekday High" internship program.

Kian Vesteinsson is a junior at Garfield High School and a member of the Seattle Youth Commission.

"FDR Went to Wisconsin to Battle 'Economic Royalists,' But Obama Avoids The State and the Fight"

John Nichols:
President Obama is interrupting his long vacation to bus across the battleground states of the Midwest this week [1], on an officially “non-political” journey that his aides obviously hope will renew a connection with the people who overwhelmingly elected him president in 2008. It is an essential endeavor, as Obama’s uncertain tenure has frustrated voters who once saw him as a transformational leader but now wonder whether there is a point to his presidency.

The disconnect between Obama and his base has grown more profound this year, as he has focused on the compromises of Washington while working people in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and other states have engaged in “Which side are you on?” fights against a Republican austerity agenda that threatens the very underpinnings of civil society and democratic experiment. MORE...

Monday, August 15, 2011

"Obama Bus Tour Takes President To Midwest To Talk Jobs, Economy" (with video)

HuffPost Politics, with video (04:49):
Hitting back against an emboldened GOP, President Barack Obama launched a rare direct attack Monday on the Republican presidential field, criticizing his potential 2012 rivals for their blanket opposition to any deficit-cutting compromise involving new taxes.

"That's just not common sense," Obama told the crowd at a town hall-style meeting in Cannon Falls, Minn., as he kicked off a three-day bus tour through Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. MORE...

"Starbucks CEO Calls For Americans To Boycott Political Campaign Donations" (with video)

Josh Feldman (MEDIAite) with video (02:38) from CBS News:
Are you sick and tired of partisan politicians doing what’s in their best interest and no one else’s? Well, the CEO of Starbucks agrees with you. And he is calling for a boycott on all campaign contributions until Washington gets its act together.

As CBS News reports, Congress is at a record 82 percent disapproval level, spurred on by the partisan bickering over the debt deal. It inspired a profanity-laced Twitter trend, and now it’s inspired Starbucks CEO and Chairman Howard Schultz to take a stand against partisanship. MORE...

"The new old Obama"

E. J. Dionne Jr.:
For Obama’s lieutenants, his comeback from the ’07 summer doldrums provided an overlearned lesson that encouraged them to ignore external criticism and cruise along with complete confidence in their man’s almost magical powers of restoration.

The president’s loyalists still have faith in him and still love to criticize media narratives they think underestimate him. But this time, both he and they are expressing a level of frustration that may be the healthiest thing happening to Obama in what is an otherwise dismal moment in his presidency. A White House crowd often too sure of itself is fully aware of the ferocious fight Obama faces and the seriousness of the problems he confronts. Their mood and past experience suggests that a new Obama — or, in many ways, the old Obama of 2008 — is about to reappear. MORE...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

"White House Debates Fight on Economy"

"President Obama heading to Michigan last week, where he visited a factory and urged voters to turn their anger on Republicans."

Binyamin Appelbaum and Helene Cooper (NY Times):
As the economy worsens, President Obama and his senior aides are considering whether to adopt a more combative approach on economic issues, seeking to highlight substantive differences with Republicans in Congress and on the campaign trail rather than continuing to pursue elusive compromises, advisers to the president say.

Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Plouffe, and his chief of staff, William M. Daley, want him to maintain a pragmatic strategy of appealing to independent voters by advocating ideas that can pass Congress, even if they may not have much economic impact. These include free trade agreements and improved patent protections for inventors.

But others, including Gene Sperling, Mr. Obama’s chief economic adviser, say public anger over the debt ceiling debate has weakened Republicans and created an opening for bigger ideas like tax incentives for businesses that hire more workers, according to Congressional Democrats who share that view. Democrats are also pushing the White House to help homeowners facing foreclosure.

Even if the ideas cannot pass Congress, they say, the president would gain a campaign issue by pushing for them. MORE...
Howie P.S.: After 20 articles each month, the paywall goes up.

"Sanders says he doesn't know who would step up to primary Obama"

Michael O'Brien (The Hill):
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said this weekend he still expects President Obama to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2012, and doesn't know of anyone who might step forward to challenge Obama.

Sanders said he still supports the concept of a primary challenge for Obama, because, Sanders said, even Republicans have done a better job of keeping their campaign promises than Obama.

"I don't know of anybody in mind, but I am sure there are serious and smart people out there who can do it," Sanders said of the prospect of a primary challenge during C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" program, airing on the network this weekend. MORE...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

"Cantwell Calls S&P Downgrade 'Interesting' In Light Of '08 Collapse" (video), video (00:42):
Sen. Maria Cantwell says Standard & Poor's downgrade of the U.S.'s debt rating is "interesting," given S&P's stance on derivatives leading up to the 2008 financial collapse.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Joan Walsh: "Mistakes of the 2008 Democratic primary"

Joan Walsh (Salon):
Every time I try to get out of this discussion about whether liberals made the wrong choice in the 2008 Democratic primary, someone pulls me back in. The Nation's Ari Melber, a writer I like a lot, asked me my thoughts via Twitter Monday night. Even more intriguing, a Salon reader who criticized me regularly but always respectfully for my Obama skepticism in 2008 posted on Facebook that I had been right back then. OK, I live for being told I was right -- but I have no way to know whether Hillary Clinton would have been a tougher Democratic president than Barack Obama. MORE...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Janeane "Katherine Harris" Garofalo Previews Tonight's GOP Debate" (video)

Sam Seder, with video (13:25):
From the Majority Report, M-F 11:30am EST at http://Majority.FM:
Katherine Harris (Janeane Garofalo) surprises the Majority Report with a call! She talks tonight's GOP debate, 'austerity celebrations', what she's been up to + more!
Howie P.S.: Love my Janeane.

"Ed Schultz calls out Obama about engagement in Wisconsin" (with video)

Gaius Publius (AMERICAblog) with video (15:54) from MSNBC-ED Show:
This is a terrific piece from Ed Schultz on Obama's non-involvement in the Wisconsin recall elections. Ignore for a second the "bad advice" framing that gives Obama a public pass (my notes on that are below).

The rest is pure calling-out. Watch and learn (and enjoy John Nichols at the end; always a treat): MORE...

"UB40 - Oh America!" (Extended Version) (video)

RootsReggae91, with video (06:17):
UB40 album track 'Oh America' written and performed by UB40 featuring Spencer Love aka One Love and Rasa Don from Arrested development. Taken from the UB40 album Twenty Four Seven
Howie P.S.: I you like that one try this: "Securing The Peace," video (03:38).

"Nervous Democrats say President Obama must be bolder on economy" (with video)

Karen Tumulty and Peter Wallsten (WaPo), with video (02:20) from AP:
With President Obama’s reelection on the line, Democrats are increasingly anxious about what they see as his failure to advance a coherent and muscular strategy for addressing the nation’s economic ills.

Growing numbers of Obama’s allies, beyond the liberal activists who have expressed disappointment in the past, contend that he has trimmed his sails too much since the party’s electoral defeats last fall. This sentiment has sharpened in the wake of the negotiations over the debt ceiling, when the president accepted Republican demands for spending cuts without obtaining guarantees of tax revenue increases, which he said were necessary for a “balanced approach.” MORE...
H/t to Greg Sargent.

Ari Melber Rants on MSNBC on GOP Obstruction (video)

ptdennis1906, with video from MSNBC(03:37):
MSNBC guest host Matt Miller was leading Dylan Ratigan's self titled show and ended with a rant about Republican obstruction from The Nation's Ari Melber. I don't have tell you this was music to my ears, because I am a fan of Ratigan, but yesterday, he was just flat wrong, when he said the Left funded corporate and Republican deregulation policies in the late 1990s. Republicans passed it in the US House and Senate, and a former small southern state gov, Bill Clinton, no man of the LEFT signed it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"Jan Schakowsky Announces New Budget Plan With Focus On Jobs"

Jordan Howard (HuffPo):
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, announced on Wednesday that she will introduce a progressive-minded budget outline aimed at putting more than two million people to work.

Titled the “Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act,” the plan would cost $227 billion and would be implemented over two years. It would be financed by separate legislation introduced by Schakowsky called the "Fairness in Taxation Act," which would raise taxes for Americans who earn more than $1 million and $1 billion. It would also eliminate subsidies for big oil companies while closing loopholes for corporations that send American jobs overseas.

The congresswoman said that her plan would create 2.2 million jobs and decrease the unemployment rate by 1.3 percent. MORE...

"Al Gore calls B.S. on global warming naysayers"

Troy Hooper (Real Aspen):
Al Gore is pissed.

The former vice president dropped in on an Aspen Institute media forum titled “Networks an Citizenship” on Thursday and railed against corporate evildoers who put profit above society.

Gore referenced the book “Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming” by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, which tells of how petroleum, steel, utilities and other industries enlisted lobbyists to cloud the climate debate. MORE...

Greg Sargent on the Wisconsin recall vote results

Greg Sargent:
Labor and Dems lost. They should be proud of what they accomplished.---The history of the American labor movement is crowded with losing battles and crushing disappointments. The men and women who have fought for workers’ rights, often against tremendously long odds, have all too often suffered defeat and humiliation, only finding consolation in the idea that their efforts perhaps succeed in awakening a bit of public sympathy for their plight, inching their larger cause forward in unseen ways. MORE...

"Mad As Hell: Dylan Ratigan Goes On Epic Rant Over ‘Trillions Extracted From U.S.’ (with video)

Colby Hall---MEDIAite, with video from MSNBC (05:20):
Dylan Ratigan is mad as hell and he isn’t going to take it anymore. While hosting a discussion on the seemingly endemic problems that the U.S. political process is enduring — specifically how it relates to responsibly fiscal policy — the MSNBC host blew a gasket over what he sees as the real mathematical problem at play. The impassioned diatribe was delivered in the context of the recent credit downgrade and market volatility, and Ratigan placed equal blame on both Republicans and Democrats, but mostly argued about the entire integrated system, which included banking, trade and taxation. MORE...
Howie P.S.: The commercial for the oil company that precedes the video is more than ironic.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The New Yorker on the American economy (audio and cover)

The New Yorker, audio (12:47):
Hendrik Hertzberg and James Surowiecki on the debt-ceiling deal and the 2012 campaign.

Greg Sargent on the recall vote today in Wisconsin

Greg Sargent:
Whatever ends up happening, Wisconsin Dems and labor have already succeeded in one sense: They reminded us that it’s possible to build a grass roots movement by effectively utilizing the sort of unabashed and bare-knuckled class-based populism that makes many of today’s national Dems queasy. Their effort — whether or not they take back the state senate — could provide a model for a more aggressive, populist approach for national Dems in 2012. MORE (from Sargent's always worthwhile 'The Morning Plum)...

"Ed Schultz: When Will ‘Tea Partiers Stop Cheering About Economic Hardship’ They Contributed To?" (with video)

MEDIAite with video (04:07) from MSNBC:
Last night Ed Schultz hosted his show in front of a huge live crowd in Wisconsin, the site of today’s recall election. The raucous crowd actually added a very enjoyable element to Schultz’s proceedings, as they loudly cheered and booed various statements made by Schultz and his guests throughout the show. MORE...
Howie P.S.: John Nichols visits with ED in Madison, WI.

"Obama defends U.S. economy" (video)

Video (01:48) from AP:
U.S. President Barack Obama says the U.S. always is and always has been a triple-A country, despite its rating agency downgrade.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Joel Connelly: "With WaMu, white-collar crime goes unpunished - again!"

Joel Connelly (
The Senate report details how two WaMu risk managers were marginalized by company brass. One of them told Senate investigators that executives began providing the Office of Thrift Supervision with outdated loss estimates. A risk manager tipped off regulators, and was fired.

The Office of Thrift Supervision did get mad - at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which downgraded WauMu's safety-soundness rating shortly before its collapse.

The office's top guy, John M. Reich, wrote a snarling e-mail in which he said of F.D.I.C. Chair Sheila Bair: "I cannot believe the continuing audacity of this woman." The words were written in September of 2008, just two weeks before WaMu failed. (F.D.I.C. sseized the company and sold it to J.P. Morgan Chase.

Don't any of these activities, the fraudument documents and false information given federal regulators, and the winking and profiting by higher-ups, qualify for prosecution? Shouldn't the federal government be shamed by its record?

As columnist Zach Carter wrote after a Senate hearing on WaMu last year: "Everything WaMu did could have been stopped not only by an engaged regulator who worried about the company's bottom line, but by a regulator who cared about consumer protection in any degree whatsoever."

The bottom line: Large-scale white collar crime goes unpunished in America, except for out-and-out Ponzi schemes.

Who, I ask, has gone to jail among those who issued reckless and fraudulent loans that triggered the housing crisis? The practice went on, to use the name of another big player, Countrywide.

Yet, efforts are underway in the U.S. House of Representatives and among Senate Republicans to eviscerate a financial reform bill that Congress enacted just last year. Critics say it places too many burdens on the financial services industry. MORE...

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Michael Cohen (GuardianUK): "The dysfunction that lies at the very heart of American politics"

Michael Cohen (GuardianUK):
This clash over the proper role for government in the US is one that has defined our national politics for more than a century. But in the last several years this conflict has become an existential one, with Republicans basically abdicating their responsibility to govern. When in power they made little effort to deal with the nation's many challenges. In opposition, and particularly in the two and a half years since Obama took office, they have used the tool of the Senate filibuster and various other procedural impediments to try to stop nearly all Democratic initiatives in their tracks. Whatever legislation passed in the past few years is almost solely a product of Democratic cohesion (an attribute that is generally in short supply) – and a brief window in which Democrats enjoyed a filibuster-proof majority in the US Senate.
Why do voters put up with such a situation? Polling suggests that the electorate wants their leaders to focus on jobs, rather than the deficit; and work toward compromise, rather than gridlock. So why then do they reward political parties, such as the Republicans, that act decidedly against not only their preferences but also their interests?

The answer lies in the apathy of the American people toward their own government. The ultimate check on Republican nihilism would be voter revolt. But in the last congressional election, voters rewarded unprecedented Republican obstructionism with control of the House of Representatives.
One problem is that Americans have been so inundated with anti-government rhetoric over the past 40 years they seem to have trouble identifying any link between government engagement and a robust economy.

Worst of all, Americans may prefer Democratic policies, but they have little confidence in government's ability to fulfil those promises and then blame both parties for inaction. They are so mistrustful of government and shockingly uninformed about its working that, perversely, via the ballot boxes, they directly contribute to the political stalemate they so regularly decry.

The result is a political system that is perhaps more incapacitated than at any point in modern history. MORE...

John Nichols on Standard & Poor's: "Downgrading Democracy"

John Nichols (The Nation):
The notion that a credit rating firm could or should steer the direction of the American political discourse—and, potentially, should be unsettling to Democrats and Republicans, independents and third-party activists, liberal and conservatives, socialists and libertarians and even centrists.

If S&P can set the parameters of the debate in the United States, then it is not just downgrading a credit rating. S&P is downgrading democracy. MORE...


C-SPAN, with video (31:18):
President Obama spoke at a Democrtic fundraiser organized to honor the president's 50th birthday. After acknowledging several dignitaries in the audience, he highlight his administration's economic achievements and outlined the economic challenges ahead. He also talked about his administration's achievements in other areas such as health care, civil rights, energy policy, and infrastructure improvements.

Mayor Rham Emanuel's introduction of the president was joined in progress.

"How can the US rebuild its economy?"--- Rachel Maddow on MTP (video)

MSNBC-MTP, video (15:38):
How can the US rebuild its economy? Dr. Alan Greenspan, Austan Goolsbee, Rachel Maddow and Alex Castellanos share their ideas for growth during our economic roundtable.

"What Happened to Obama?"

Drew Westin (NY Times):
As a practicing psychologist with more than 25 years of experience, I will resist the temptation to diagnose at a distance, but as a scientist and strategic consultant I will venture some hypotheses.
A final explanation is that he ran for president on two contradictory platforms: as a reformer who would clean up the system, and as a unity candidate who would transcend the lines of red and blue. He has pursued the one with which he is most comfortable given the constraints of his character, consistently choosing the message of bipartisanship over the message of confrontation. MORE....
H/t to Glenn Greenwald.