Saturday, March 31, 2012

WA: "The Bullshit Budget Debate"

Goldy (The Stranger):
Two quick comments on the Seattle Times editorial board's latest call for legislators to balance the state budget by slashing pension benefits for state workers: 1) The Blethens can't manage their own fucking pension, let alone advise others; and 2) The editors' insistence that slashing pensions sets our state on a "sustainable path" suggests that they are either idiots or liars.

The only reform that can possibly set our state budget on a sustainable path is tax reform. We've been slashing spending for years, and still the budget gap grows. Not even an economic recovery can set things right again, because in the long run we have a tax structure that over-relies on taxing a base—the sale of goods—that has been steadily shrinking as a portion of the overall economy for more than a half-century. And as state revenue shrinks as a portion of the state economy, so does its ability to meet demand for state services at a constant level. It's simple math.

I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't have a debate over pensions and other priorities and reform, but until we're willing to put revenue back on the table, the entire budget debate is bullshit.

Howie P.S.: Sometimes political issues are just this simple to understand.

Friday, March 30, 2012

"The Melodians performing the Rivers of Babylon - live at the Ashkenaz" (video)

rieb, video (04:24).

Howie P.S.: I will be mostly offline until Tuesday visiting with friends in the SF East Bay, very near where this performance was recorded. If the song sounds familiar, it may be because it was featured on the soundtrack of the movie, "The Harder They Fall."

"Fault Lines: Occupy Wall Street: Surviving the Winter" (video from Al Jazeera)

AlJazeeraEnglish, video (24:39):
Fault Lines follows key Occupy organisers through the winter as they continue to build a movement even after violent evictions across the country.

Greg Sargent: "SCOTUS’s judicial activism"

Greg Sargent:
If the Supreme Court does strike down the individual mandate, the ultimate irony will be this: The very thing that reformers had hoped would make the quest for universal health care palatable to Republicans and conservatives will have proven its undoing. MORE...

"Bruce and Trayvon: American Skin" (with video)

David Remnick (The New Yorker) with video (08:40):
Last night, I bolted work to catch the first show of two by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band in Philadelphia. I first saw Springsteen when he was the opening act for Chicago, in 1973 (which means I saw him even before Jon Landau branded him, indelibly, as “rock and roll’s future”). The Philly show was tight, exuberant, soulful, furious, joyful, even goofy, with the revival of the old “Seaside Bar Song” and Springsteen’s trip into the stands to give a kiss to the mother of the drummer, Max Weinberg.

But the most memorable moment, the one that demands immediate distribution, came after the “Apollo Medley”—a medley of Smokey Robinson a cappella and a rafter-raising version of “634-5789.” Suddenly, the mood went sombre and Springsteen said, “This is for Trayvon.” I first heard “American Skin (41 Shots),” at Madison Square Garden a dozen years ago, but now the lament, as the circumstances changed from the shooting of Amadou Diallo, in New York, to Trayvon Martin, in Florida, was less subdued, far tougher, as if to underline the outrage. Like “Born in the U.S.A.” and the new “We Take Care of Our Own,” “American Skin” belies its easy reading; it attempts to get at the complexity as well as the grief and fury of its subject. But better to just let you experience the song. Here it is, performed in Tampa, last week (see above).

Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Break Up The Big Banks, Says the Dallas Fed"

Robert Reich:
Taxpayers will be on the hook for another giant Wall Street bailout, and the economy won’t be mended, unless the nation’s biggest banks are broken up.

That’s not just me talking, or the Occupier movement, or that wayward executive who resigned from Goldman Sachs a few weeks ago. It’s the conclusion of the Dallas Federal Reserve, one of the most conservative of the Fed’s regional banks.

The lead essay in its just released annual report says a cartel of giant banks continues to hobble the recovery and poses an ongoing danger to the economy. MORE...

Dominic Holden: "What's Wrong with the Mayor's Initiative to Fix the Police Department"

Dominic Holden (The Stranger):
I can't imagine that US Attorney Durkan looks at this fractured mess of politics and thinks that these people, led by McGinn, can fix this problem without expensive monitoring and onerous scrutiny. Which is exactly what the city was trying to avoid, but is, apparently, exactly what the police department will need. MORE...

"McGinn announces major reforms for Seattle police" (with video)

Mike Carter (Seattle Times) with video (65:52):
One of the sticking points with McGinn and police, sources tell The Times, is the need for court oversight of the changes recommended by the Justice Department.

Responding to the Police Department’s proposed reforms, Kathleen Taylor, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, said in a news release:

“The ACLU is encouraged that the City is responding to the Department of Justice investigation by identifying some steps to improve the Seattle Police Department. We urge the City to speedily negotiate a consent decree with the DOJ that will include a monitor and court oversight. Seattle cannot solve the longstanding problems of SPD culture and accountability without that assistance. A consent decree is critical to ensure that reforms are thoroughly implemented and are sustained for the long term.” MORE...

Frank Rich on the National Circus: "Why the Supreme Court Can Only Help Obama"

Frank Rich (New York Magazine):
If the Supreme Court overturns Obamacare, how does Obama respond?
Just keep moving. The decision is scheduled to come down in June. The election will be more than four months away — an eternity in politics.

But everyone says the Affordable Care Act is Obama’s signature achievement so far. How can he just walk away?
He can take credit for the provisions that Americans love: coverage for the young up to age 26 on their parents’ policies; lowered drug costs for the elderly; and, most of all, the ban on insurance companies either raising premiums or denying coverage to those with preexisting conditions. He can also point out that the Romney-Ryan budget will maim Medicare, another hugely popular health-care provision created by Democrats. MORE...

Tom Hayden: "Participatory Democracy: From the Port Huron Statement to Occupy Wall Street" (with video)

Tom Hayden (The Nation) with video (02:31):
This is the fiftieth anniversary year of the Port Huron Statement, the founding declaration of Students for a Democratic Society, issued as a “living document” in 1962. The SDS call for a participatory democracy echoes today in student-led democracy movements around the world, even appearing as the first principle of the Occupy Wall Street September 17 declaration. MORE...

"Hope 2.0: Inside Obama's Campaign"

Tim Dickinson (Rolling Stone):
Pass through security into the headquarters of Obama 2012, and the effect is like stepping into the world's most high-tech dorm room. Spanning the entire floor of a Chicago skyscraper, the campaign's nerve center boasts a ping-pong table, a staff of 300 and a life-size cardboard cutout of the president dressed in a University of Montana jersey. They don't use phones up here; most of the digital team weren't even issued any. Instead, campaign workers communicate mostly by e-mail, G-chat and Twitter. Rows of young staffers, some perched on yoga balls, are quietly coding new online tools to engage supporters, tweaking a video of Sarah Palin attacking Obama, and tracking metrics of volunteers recruited and new voters registered. An energetic hum fills the room, punctuated only by mouse clicks. MORE...

"Unarmed Black Veteran Kenneth Chamberlain Shot Dead by NY Police, Yet No Officers Charged" (video)

Democracy Now! with video:
As the Trayvon Martin case draws national attention, we look at another fatal shooting of an unarmed African-American male that has received far less scrutiny. Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr., a 68 year-old African-American Marine veteran, was fatally shot in November by White Plains, NY, police who responded to a false alarm from his medical alert pendant. MORE...

WA-DEMS; "2012 Caucuses and Conventions" (April 15)

Washington State Democrats:
Find the location of your caucus (on April 15) today!

The 2012 Caucuses and Conventions are your way of becoming a delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, choosing a nominee for President, shaping our Party platform, and getting involved with the Party for 2012.

For information about the 2012 Caucuses and Conventions, refer to the table and infographic here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Katrina vanden Heuvel: "Republicans are causing a moral crisis in America"

Katrina vanden Heuvel (WaPo):
There is moral crisis afoot! So say the Republican candidates for president, their pals in Congress and in state houses. Abortion, gay marriage, contraception — contraception, for Pete’s sake — things that so shock the conscience that it’s a wonder The Washington Post can even print the words!

Here’s something I bet you wouldn’t think I’d say: They’re right. There is a moral crisis in the United States. The only thing is — they’re wrong about what it is and who is causing it. MORE...

"Seattle rally demands justice in shooting of Fla. teen" (with slideshow)

Seattle Police Department Det. D. Cookie Bouldin protests the shooting death of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. Photo: JOE DYER / SEATTLEPI.COM
The deadly shooting of an unarmed Florida teenager became a "call to action" Sunday in Seattle, as it has in many U.S. cities.

The family of teenager Trayvon Martin led a local march and rally, demanding changes in the law and the gunman's arrest.

The crowd filled a local park after marching about a mile to get there and said they are united in seeking justice for Martin, who was gunned down as he walked down a Florida street. MORE...

Monday, March 26, 2012

"Is conversation about race possible in 2012?" (video)

MSNBC-NOW(Alex Wagner), with video (09:31):
Newt Gingrich is attacking President Obama’s comments about Trayvon Martin, accusing the president of making Trayvon’s death about race. The NOW panel discusses whether or not it’s possible to have a broader conversation about race in America.

Melissa Harris-Perry: "Growing Up Black in America" (video)

Elizabeth Whitman (The Nation) with video (15:52) from MSNBC-Melissa Harris-Perry:
Three high schoolers, who, like Trayvon Martin was, are young, black and male, joined Melissa Harris-Perry on her show this weekend to share their experiences growing up in New York. They describe the steps they've taken to avoid discrimination and profiling, stories of being targeted by police, and their thoughts on the chilling reality of being a black male in America. One of the young men, Diallo McClammy, explains that he wears exactly what Trayvon Martin used to. "That could have been me," he says.

"It's not about getting our elected officials to do something. Shit. They ain't gonna do shit."

"Meet Professor Occupy" (Josh Harkinson-Mother Jones):
As Occupy marches on, perhaps its greatest internal tension is between the reformers—pragmatists with concrete goals—and the revolutionaries.
"This isn't a protest movement, because protest movements are to address issues that the power structure could conceivably be willing to give up," a black-clad occupier named Max Bean told Fithian over lunch in early December. "We are asking to dissolve the power structure. And you can't ask for that. You can't protest for it. All you can do is grow until we are so big that we are everything."

Fithian weighed her response carefully. MORE...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

CBS NEWS: "Race a factor on Trayvon Martin shooting?" (video)

CBS News, with video (06:03):
It appears race-relations in Sanford, Fla. were at a tipping point even before Trayvon Martin's death. But was the teen's shooting race-related? Rebecca Jarvis and Ben Tracy speak with the dean of Howard University's School of Law, Kurt Schmoke, and the president of the SUNY College at Old Westbury, the Rev. Calvin Butts III, about race relations in America.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Elizabeth Warren: Extra Footage from "The Road We've Traveled" (video)

BarackObamadotcom, video (01:32):
Are you in?

Never-before-seen footage of Elizabeth Warren from "The Road We've Traveled". A film narrated by Tom Hanks and directed by Academy Award®-winning director Davis Guggenheim.

The full film gives an inside look at some of the tough calls President Obama made to get our country back on track. Featuring interviews from President Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Elizabeth Warren, David Axelrod, Austan Goolsbee, and more. It's a film everyone should see. Watch the full film now:

Friday, March 23, 2012

Obama: "If I Had A Son, He Would Look Like Trayvon" (video)

tpmtv, video (02:04).

Michael Moore: "Celebrating the 6 month birthday of Occupy Wall Street" (video) with video (1:19:00):
Filmmaker, author, troublemaker Michael Moore delivered an impassioned, humorous and provocative presentation at the 2012 Left Forum at Pace University in New York City on March 17th. At the end of the speech Moore led the entire audience in a march to nearby Liberty Park (aka Zucotti Park) to join the Occupiers who had re-taken the birthplace of the Occupy Movement to celebrate its six month anniversary.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ari Melber ("Net Movment Corespondent") and the MSNBC panel on Obama's "Purple State Push" (video) with video (1:19:00):
Filmmaker, author, troublemaker Michael Moore delivered an impassioned, humorous and provocative presentation at the 2012 Left Forum at Pace University in New York City on March 17th. At the end of the speech Moore led the entire audience in a march to nearby Liberty Park (aka Zucotti Park) to join the Occupiers who had re-taken the birthplace of the Occupy Movement to celebrate its six month anniversary.

"New Yorkers hold Million Hoodie March in honor of slain teen" (with video)

"New Yorkers hold Million Hoodie March in honor of slain teen" (RAW STORY) with video from WABC (02:30):
Thousands gathered in New York City on Wednesday for a “Million Hoodie March” to show their support for Florida teen Trayvon Martin, who was recently gunned down by a neighborhood watch vigilante.

“My heart is in pain,” Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, told the crowd. “But to see the support of all of you really makes a difference.”

Supporters wearing hooded sweatshirts similar to what Martin was wearing when he killed chanted “We are all Trayvon!” and “We want arrests!” MORE...

"40 Years Ago Today: Congress Was Told To Tell The Truth About Marijuana; They Didn’t"

Paul Armentano (NORML):

Forty years ago today, a Congressionally mandated commission on US drug policy did something extraordinary: they told the truth about marijuana.

On March 22, 1972, the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse — chaired by former Pennsylvania Governor Raymond P. Shafer — recommended that Congress amend federal law so that the use and possession of cannabis would no longer be a criminal offense. State legislatures, the Commission added, should do likewise.

“[T]he criminal law is too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in the effort to discourage use,” concluded the 13-member Commission, which included nine hand-picked appointees of then-President Richard Nixon. “It implies an overwhelming indictment of the behavior which we believe is not appropriate. The actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law into private behavior, a step which our society takes only with the greatest reluctance. MORE...

ED Show: "Papantonio: Zimmerman Charge Should Be Premeditated Murder" (video)

golefttv, video (06:57):
Mike Papantonio appears on MSNBC's The Ed Show to discuss the legal ramifications for George Zimmerman under Florida's Stand Your Ground law for killing 17-year old, unarmed Trayvon Martin.

"How ALEC Took Florida's 'License to Kill' Law National"

John Nichols:
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush endorsed Mitt Romney Wednesday, earning national headlines as an elder statesman of a Grand Old Party that is still trying to wrap its head around the concept of Romney as a presidential nominee.

It is a measure of the extent to which media and political players absolve those who make laws from any responsibility for the impact of the legislation they enact and sign that Romney—who has so meticulously avoided discussing the Trayvon Martin killing in Florida—would casually accept the backing of the signer of the “Stand Your Ground” law that so many reasonable observers believe played a role in Trayvon’s death. MORE...

Seattle: "Homeless has one cause: the loss of low-income housing"

John V. Fox and Carolee Colter (City Living Seattle-Page 4)
In spite of a “Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness,” a combined city-county outlay above $50 million annually, and more than 50 programs (and easily 2,000 staff) providing shelter, counseling, case management and services, the number of homeless continues its steady climb upward.

Despite such extraordinary effort and expenditure, why does the problem continue to grow?

Most “homeless experts” point to multiple factors: mental illness, addiction, poverty, foreclosure, criminal record, bankruptcy, disability, family discord. They paint a portrait of an intractable problem.

Mental illness, addiction, poverty, etc., are not causes. These are conditions that make certain groups more vulnerable to homelessness. If anything, they are conditions exacerbated, if not actually resulting from the loss of one’s home. For those on the edge, the loss of housing pushes them over it.
Changing the focus

Speaking of their "pathologies," defining them as "the underclass" allows us to think of the homeless as “others,” not like us. This scapegoating winds up legitimizing policies of containment and social control and policing, instead of forcing us to look inward at ourselves and the actions of our locally elected leaders whose policies continue to cause a dramatic loss of affordable housing.

Homelessness has not always been with us — that assumption is wrong and self-fulfilling. The term was not even coined until about 30 years ago. Before that, the problem affected a relative few and was confined to downtowns and traditional skid rows.

Homelessness exploded with the dramatic loss of single-room-occupancy units in downtown cores — more than a million and a half in the early ‘80s nationwide.

In Seattle, the 1960 Census recorded a stock of more than 25,000 low-income units in our downtown core. By 1980, it had fallen to 10,000, with another 4,000 lost by 1985. Today, there are less than 6,000 such units in the core.

This loss was a direct result of decisions by elected officials to promote office, retail and condominium development without regard for the impact on our housing stock. MORE (PAGE 5)...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"Still free."

Another day has passed and George Zimmerman is still free. *shaking head* Anyway, a grand jury will convene in early April and unless the people of Florida are as dumb as their local law enforcement officials, criminal charges are sure to follow. I also have to commend the Department of Justice for getting involved. It's amazing what a little pressure can do. All you people who helped to blow up this story should be proud of yourselves. Nancy Grace isn't going to pick up our stories, so we have to make it a story and hope that the main stream media will chase it. MORE...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Papantonio: "Trayvon Killer Should Be Charged With Premeditated Murder" (video)

golefttv, with video (13:14):
Mike Papantonio talks with Ed Schultz about his views on the Trayvon Martin murder, as well as Florida's flawed "Stand Your Ground" law.

Going Offline to Buy Some Skittles

And then I will be sending them to Chief Bill Lee, Sanford Police Department, 815 W. 13th, Sanford, FL 32771.

Best Coverage Yet: "Walking While Black: Florida Police Resist Calls to Arrest Shooter of Unarmed Teen, Trayvon Martin" (video)

Democracy Now! with video (23:29):
The Justice Department and the FBI have announced they will conduct a criminal probe of the killing of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and the ensuing police investigation that allowed his killer to walk free. Martin, an African-American student at Michael Krop Senior High School, was visiting his father in a gated community in the town of Sanford, Florida, on February 26 when he walked out to a nearby convenience store to buy candy and iced tea. On his way back, Martin was spotted by the shooter, George Zimmerman, who had been patrolling the neighborhood. Zimmerman has told police he was attacked by Martin from behind. But in the tape of Zimmerman’s own 911 call to the police, Zimmerman tells the dispatcher he is the one following Martin. The Miami Herald reports Zimmerman had taken it upon himself to patrol the neighborhood and had called police 46 times since January 2011 to report suspicious activity or other incidents. We play excerpts of the 911 calls and speak with Jasmine Rand, an attorney who heads the civil rights division at Parks & Crump Law Firm, which is representing Trayvon Martin’s family. "I think we have all of the evidence in the world to arrest him. And I think what the state attorney is trying to do is to try the case and the investigation, and that’s not the state attorney’s job," Rand says. [includes rush transcript]

Greg Mitchell on Dylan and Trayvon Martin: "Only a Pawn in Their Game" (with video)

Greg Mitchell, with video (03:54):
Certainly not fully applicable, but wonder what folks think of one of Dylan's greatest songs, "Only a Pawn in Their Game," in light of Trayvon murder and even manipulation of Tea Party.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Charles Mudede on SLOG: "Rich People No Give Money to Obama"

Charles Mudede:
The problem is this: The rich still win because Obama is a moderate. By completely rejecting Obama, a politician who is far from anything that looks like socialism, the rich leave the poor and middle class with nothing but the middle of the political spectrum, when what we really need for proper representation is a candidate who is actually on the left of the spectrum. The rich want the far right in power, we are left with the middle, and the far left is left vacant. MORE...
Howie P.S.: Even though this isn't breaking news, it does bear repeating, unfortunately.

"Rep. Jay Inslee in West Seattle" (video)

westseattleblog, video (32:24):
West Seattle Blog video of Democratic candidate for governor, Rep. Jay Inslee, at an election forum in the High Point neighborhood on March 15, 2012.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

13-year-old black boy on Trayvon Martin: "Sometimes people get stereotyped" (with video)

Trayvon Martin---Courtesy of Sybrina Fulton

Charles M. Blow (NY Times) with video (01:41) from the Orlando Sentinel:
“He said that Tray was gone.”

That’s how Sybrina Fulton, her voice full of ache, told me she found out that her 17-year-old son, Trayvon Martin, had died. In a wrenching telephone call, the boy’s father, who had taken him to visit a friend, told her that Trayvon had been gunned down in a gated townhouse community in Sanford, Fla., outside Orlando.

“He said, ‘Somebody shot Trayvon and killed him.’ And I was like, ‘Are you sure?’ ” Fulton continued in disbelief. “I said ‘How do you know that’s Trayvon?’ And he said because they showed him a picture.” MORE...

Melissa Harris-Perry and Sandra Fluke on the "War on Women" (video)

MSNBC-Jamil Smith (Melissa Harris-Perry Blog) with video (19:18):
Conservatives, with their disregard and vitriol, have virtually willed third-year Georgetown Law School student Sandra Fluke into national fame. Yesterday, she used her national platform to speak with Melissa and our audience about the rampant politicization of women and their reproductive rights by, well, the Right. MORE...

Bob Marley Occupies The "Babylon System" (video)

Survival Demos Disc#1,video (04:40).

Donald Trump on Afghanistan: "It's Time to Go" (with video)

Amy Davidson (The New Yorker) with video (02:58):
When those who are not Donald Trump’s natural constituents think that he may be making sense, something striking is going on. In one of the videos he periodically releases “From the Desk of Donald Trump,” the man himself made a plea for peace, or at least for the end of a ten-year war:

Afghanistan is a total and complete disaster. What are we doing? We have all of these horrible events taking place there…. A man loses his mind and goes around on a killing spree, and the world hates us for it. What is going on? … Let’s get with it. Get out of Afghanistan. MORE...
Howie P.S.: Those of us who were around toward the end of our Vietnam war will recall how opposition brought together many "strange bedfellows."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

"If You Took the Greed Out of Wall Street, All You’d Have Left Is Pavement: Why Greg Smith’s Critique is Way Too Narrow"

Robert Reich:
After millions of investors lost everything in 1929, the federal government stepped into the breach with the Securities Acts of 1933 and 1934 and the Banking Act of 1933, sponsored by Senator Carter Glass and Congressman Henry Steagall.

But starting in the 1970s and 1980s, Wall Street made sure these and the regulations issued under them were steadily watered down – which contributed to the junk-bond and insider trading scandals of the 1980s, the dot-com scams of the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Wall-Street enablers of Enron and other corporate looters, and the wild excesses that led to the crash of 2008. MORE...

PA: "Winning back the White House by any means necessary."

My governor here in Pistolvania has been on a roll lately. He told women to just close their eyes and enjoy a foreign object poking around in their vagina, and his new budget proposal cuts college funding by over 600 million dollars. Then, to top it off, he is aligning himself with the rest of the charlatans and politricksters in his party by signing off on a nefarious plot to win back the White House and disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters here in Pistolvania. MORE...

Friday, March 16, 2012

"'Occupy the Media' takes a look at benandjerrys support of the occupy movement" (with video) with video from Occupy the Media:
We, the Ben & Jerry’s Board of Directors, compelled by our personal convictions and our Company’s mission and values, wish to express our deepest admiration to all of you who have initiated the non-violent Occupy Wall Street Movement and to those around the country who have joined in solidarity. The issues raised are of fundamental importance to all of us. These include: MORE...

"Obama Campaign Releases Full 17-Minute, First-Term Documentary" (with video)

Sam Stein (HuffPo), video (16:57):
The material is, by now, well-traveled terrain, emphasizing the enormity of the problems that President Barack Obama inherited and bookending his first term with the bailout and subsequent recovery of the auto industry.

But there are some twists. Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel cops to advising Obama that he should consider spending less time and capital on health care reform. Vice President Joe Biden states his belief that the president would have been limited to one term if the Osama bin Laden raid had failed. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau creator Elizabeth Warren, assessing the pro and cons of the auto bailout, says the president could have had "blood on his hands" had the industry and economy imploded. And then there is the president himself, who sat down with the filmmakers to discuss that bin Laden raid. MORE...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Andrew Sullivan Dishes on his dinner visit to the WH

Andrew Sullivan:
I bumped into many people - we were next to John Legend and his fiancee and the British ambassador and his wife at dinner - and did have a brief and warm chat with the president. I think such things should remain confidential, but you should know that there's a Dish-reader in the Oval Office, and "not just the political stuff." So don't feel too guilty about our regular dips into pop-culture, high and low. POTUS gets the mix.

There were several openly gay couples present, which is change you really can believe in, and we entered with the future HRC head, Chad Griffin and his boyfriend. I also didn't realize the impact that the Newsweek Obama cover-story had on Obama donors and staffers until last night. So many people mentioned it. Oh, and George Clooney came up to say hi. Not since Jon Hamm came out as a Dish reader at the White House Correspondents' Dinner did such a shiver go up my leg. MORE...
Howie P.S.: The "Oh, and George Clooney came up to say hi" line sounds like it was intended to balance the "shiver up my leg" but it just seems a little too contrived.

Nomi Prins: "My Statement Regarding Greg Smith's Goldman Resignation"

Nomi Prins:
Today, I have received dozens of media requests and hundreds of emails regarding former Goldman Sachs executive, Greg Smith's gutsy, and internationally resonating, public resignation.

I applaud Smith's decision to bring the nature of Goldman's profit-making strategies to the forefront of the global population's discourse, as so many others have been doing through books, investigative journalism, and the Occupy movements over the past decade since my book, Other People's Money, was written after I resigned from Goldman. It would be great if Smith's illuminations would serve as the turning point around which serious examination and MORE...

Howie P.S.: Wikipedia has this on Prins:
Nomi Prins is an American author, journalist, and Senior Fellow at Demos.[1] She has worked as a director at Goldman-Sachs and as an analyst at Bear Stearns. MORE...

"White House 2011: The year in photos" (slide show)

Slideshow: "Some of White House Photographer Pete Souza’s picks for best images of the year" (WaPo)

WA: "Lives on the Line-Why Democrats Need to Stop the State GOP's Terrifying Budget"

Goldy (The Stranger):
Why Democrats Need to Stop the State GOP's Terrifying Budget---Political writers tend to characterize the budget battle in Olympia as yet another partisan struggle between Republicans and Democrats, but as in most wars, it's the civilian noncombatants who inevitably suffer the most devastating casualties. MORE...

Michael Moore: "The Purpose of Occupy Wall Street Is to Occupy Wall Street"

"Zuccotti Park during an Occupy Wall Street protest in New York, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011." (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Michael Moore:
Our kids—the heart and soul of this movement—have watched us for years beating our heads against the walls of power, always marching on Washington, sending in checks to the environmental groups, giving up red meat—and what they got from this is that they are the first generation who will now be worse off than their parents. They still love us (which is remarkable when you think of the world we’ve handed them), but they are taking a different path from ours. Let them. The kids are all right. Do they know where their path will lead? Not necessarily—but that’s the beauty of Occupy Wall Street. The mystery of what’s ahead is the lure. Millions want in on that adventure because, deep down, they know they have no choice. And they know that there’s more of them than the men on Wall Street who currently occupy America. They have no choice but to win. MORE...

Seattle: "Big local Obama donors at White House dinner"

Joel Connelly (
President Obama has been through twice in the last five months for $35,800-a-couple brunches, and was guest at a big-ticket 2010 fundraiser at the home of RealNetworks founder Rob Glaser. Guests at the Cameron dinner included:

–John Frank, vice president and general counsel at Microsoft, attended the Thursday dinner with spouse Delia Jampel. ABC News lists Frank as a bundler in the $500,000-plus category. Jampel gave $2,000 to Sen. Patty Murray in 2010 and $2,300 to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

–Michael Parham, associate general counsel at RealNetworks, was on hand with Hyeok Kim, executive director of the Interim Community Development Association. The Obama for America/Obama Victory Association website lists Parham as a “bundler” in the $100,000-200,000 range.

–Suzi and Eric LeVine, too, were at the Cameron dinner. She is education director at Microsoft, he a wine expert with CellarTracker. The LeVines are on the Obama list as $50-100,000 range “bundlers.”

–Lou and Carol Frillman are at the dinner, and in the $100-200,000 “bundler” range. The picture on Lou Frillman’s Facebook page is an Obama 2012 poster. He is also a generous Democratic National Committee donor. MORE...

"No pills for you."

If our hormonal makeup was such that it allowed us to carry babies for nine months there would be no debate. Birth control pills would be available on demand in the church lobby every Sunday morning. If men had cramps and bleeding every month there would be all kinds of drive through clinics that offer birth control pills and a section in every grocery store for the pill. "Excuse me sir, where do you keep your birth control pills?" "Aisle seven buddy, right next to the tissue." MORE...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Papantonio: John Nichols on Wisconsin's "Uprising" (video)

golefttv, with video (08:58):
One year ago, activists took to the streets in Wisconsin to protest Republican Governor Scott Walker's plans to strip unions and public employees of virtually every right that they had. And now, just 12 months later, Walker is fighting for his political life, corporations and wealthy conservatives are running scared, and people across the globe have stood up and said We Aren't Going To Take This Anymore. And it all started with Wisconsin. Mike Papantonio talks about how the Wisconsin activists sparked a global uprising with Nation correspondent John Nichols, author of the new book "Uprising."

Follow John Nichols on Twitter @nicholsuprising---

Seattle: "Mayor's Town Hall in Delridge, March 2012" (video)

westseattleblog, video (01:26:28):
West Seattle Blog video of Mayor McGinn's March 2012 town hall at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center in Delridge, in its entirety.
Howie P.S.: For some of us this may be the highlight of Hizzoner's visit, "Vicious Puppies Crew at Mayor's Town Hall," video (06:42):
West Seattle Blog video of the Vicious Puppies Crew breakdancing at Mayor McGinn's March 2012 Town Hall at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center in North Delridge.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"NAACP Head Benjamin Jealous in Geneva Seeking United Nations Help To Protect Voting Rights in U.S." (with video)

Democracy Now! with with video:
Since last year, 15 states have passed new voting laws that critics say suppress the votes of the poor, students and people of color. This is the topic of a major speech set for today by NAACP head Benjamin Jealous before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. The NAACP wants a U.N. delegation of experts to monitor the impact of voter identification laws, as well new restrictions on same-day registration, early voting, Sunday voting, and making it harder to run a voting registration drive. Its outreach to the United Nations has been compared to the group’s efforts in the 1940s and 1950s when it sought international support in its fight for civil rights and against lynching. Its visit to the United Nations also comes days after the group joined with thousands of people in Alabama to retrace the historic 1965 civil rights march in Selma. In what became known as "Bloody Sunday" on March 7, 1965, police attacked demonstrators at Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge as they tried to march for voting rights. Outrage over the crackdown led to passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. [Rush transcript to come. Check back soon.]

Rachel Maddow on Rick Perry and Transvaginal Probing (video)

MSNBC-Rachel Maddow, video (08:38).

"Howard Dean's second act: Campaigning and more campaigning" (with audio)

Kate Dries, WBEZ with audio.

Monday, March 12, 2012

"Tough Decisions: "The Road We've Traveled" Teaser - Obama for America 2012" (video)

BarackObamadotcom, with video (01:10):
Remember how far we've come. From the Academy Award® winning director of "An Inconvenient Truth": "The Road We've Traveled"

Be the first to see the full film:

Doonesbury: "Today's Strip"


Welcome to Doonesbury (cartoon).

"Rachel Maddow on her book, Drift" (video)

crownbooks, with video (05:00):
Written with bracing wit and intelligence, Rachel Maddow's Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power argues that we've drifted away from America's original ideals and become a nation weirdly at peace with perpetual war, with all the financial and human costs that entails. MORE...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

"The Incomplete Greatness of Barack Obama"

Paul Glastris (Washington Monthly):
In mid-January, pollsters for the Washington Post and ABC News asked a representative sampling of Americans the following question: “Obama has been president for about three years. Would you say he has accomplished a great deal during that time, a good amount, not very much, or little or nothing?”

When the poll’s results were released on January 18, even the most seasoned White House staffers, who know the president faces a tough battle for reelection, must have spit up their coffee: more than half the respondents—52 percent—said the president has accomplished “not very much” or “little or nothing.”

It is often said that there are no right or wrong answers in opinion polling, but in this case, there is an empirically right answer—one chosen by only 12 percent of the poll’s respondents. The answer is that Obama has accomplished “a great deal.” MORE...
Howie P.S.: I'll just say that Barack Obama isn't a straight shot for Mt. Rushmore, yet.

Goldy Goes Wonky to Explain Why WA Has A Budget Problem

Goldy (SLOG):
Washington is the most sales tax reliant state in the nation, with the general sales tax accounting for 45 percent of state revenue, over 58 percent when you throw in taxes on gasoline, alcohol, and tobacco. Yet as the Washington State Budget & Policy Center chart above shows, taxable retail sales is steadily shrinking as a percentage of personal income, and thus as a percentage of the state economy as a whole.

That means state tax revenue is steadily shrinking as a percentage of the state economy, and with it, our ability to provide public services at constant levels. MORE...

THE ‘DOONESBURY’ INTERVIEW: Garry Trudeau says to ignore abortion-law debate would have been ‘comedy malpractice’

"A panel from next week’s “Doonesbury." (Courtesy of Universal Uclick)"

Michael Cavna (WaPo):
ONLY ONCE IN the long history of “Doonesbury” has Garry Trudeau’s syndicate ever intensely objected to one of his story arcs. It was 1985, a documentary purporting to show the reactions of a fetus had been released, and Trudeau satirized the film “The Silent Scream” with his own “prequel” strips featuring “little Timmy,” a 12-minute-old embryo.

Those strips never saw wide release in newspapers.

“At that time, we thought the merits of the week would get lost in the larger discussion of abortion,” Lee Salem, president of Universal UClick (“Doonesbury’s” syndicate) tells Comic Riffs. Trudeau and Universal agreed to pull the strips.

Now, however, amid heated debate about pre-termination ultrasound laws, Trudeau has decided to take on the abortion debate head-on for the first time in “Doonesbury’s” four decades.

“To ignore it,” Trudeau tells Comic Riffs, “would have been comedy malpractice.” MORE...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

"Welcome to the 1% Recovery"

Mike Konczal (New Deal 2.0):
As the 1% reap 93 percent of the income gains from the recovery, we’re rapidly returning to pre-New Deal levels of inequality.

There was a brief debate focused on the following question: would the gains of the economy continue to accrue to the top 1% once the recovery started, or would they have a weak post-recession showing in terms of raw income growth as well as income share of the economy? The top 1% had a rough Great Recession. They absorbed 50 percent of the income losses, and their share of income dropped from 23.5 percent to 18.1 percent. Was this a new state of affairs, or would the 1% bounce back in 2010?

We finally have the estimated data for 2010 by income percentile, and it turns out that the top 1% had a fantastic year. The data is in the World Top Income Database, as well as Emmanuel Saez’s updated “Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States” (as well as the excel spreadsheet on his webpage). Timothy Noah has a first set of responses here. The takeaway quote from Saez is, “the top 1% captured 93% of the income gains in the first year of recovery.” MORE...

Friday, March 09, 2012

"Breitbart's Bombshell Is A Dud, Ctd"

Greg Sargent:
Andrew Sullivan nicely deconstructs what Obama’s allegedly controversial Derrick Bell speech really tells us about the man and his supposed radical tendencies:
Derrick Bell was a passionate racial leftist. As president of Harvard Law Review, Obama had no choice but to enter this debate, but that he did so emphatically in defense of Bell and his rigid approach to affirmative action does suggest a more leftist past than his conservative brethren at the Law Review recall. But his calm rhetoric and appeal to an open mind in his little speech was not an endorsement of everything Bell stood for, just an endorsement of his place within the conversation, and a personal admiration for the man himself, MORE...

"First Lady Michelle Obama Honors International Women of Courage" (video)

whitehouse, with video (56:27):
The First Lady delivers remarks at the International Women of Courage Award Ceremony on International Women's Day. March 8, 2012.
Howie P.S.: Like the President, I am blessed with a daughter.

2012 International Women of Courage Award Winners

Office of Global Women's Issues
March 5, 2012

Date: 03/05/2012 Description: Secretary of State's 2011 International Women of Courage Awardee - State Dept ImageHonorable Maryam Durani, Kandahar Provincial Council Member


Kandahar Province is among Afghanistan’s most conservative and most dangerous – but that has not stopped Maryam Durani from speaking out for the rights of Afghan women and girls. As a member of Kandahar’s Provincial Council, director of the non-profit Khadija Kubra Women’s Association for Culture, and owner and manager of the only local, female-focused radio station, she is both a leader and a role model for women throughout Afghanistan. A true woman of courage, Ms. Durani has survived multiple attacks on her life, including a suicide attack in 2009 that resulted in serious injury. Although she continues to face regular threats, she is undeterred in her mission to promote basic civil rights for all Afghans.

Date: 03/05/2012 Description: Secretary of State's 2011 International Women of Courage Awardee - State Dept ImagePricilla de Oliveira Azevedo


Major Azevedo joined the Rio de Janeiro Military police in 1998 and, following her graduation in 2000, started working in police battalions and street repression operations. In 2007, Major Azevedo demonstrated extreme courage and commitment to her duties by successfully arresting a gang of criminals who had kidnapped and tortured her. As a result of her courage and success, she was invited to head the first “Police Pacification Unit” (UPP) in Rio de Janeiro, in the “favela” (slum) of Santa Marta. During her two years there, she has shut down drug dealing operations in the favela, established conflict mediation models, worked with state and local government institutions to improve garbage collection and health care, broadened education and technical training opportunities, and developed a successful community arts and crafts fair.

Date: 03/05/2012 Description: Secretary of State's 2011 International Women of Courage Awardee - State Dept ImageZin Mar Aung


Zin Mar Aung is a former political prisoner, imprisoned for eleven years because of her political activism and has dedicated her life to promoting democracy, women’s empowerment, and conflict resolution in Burma. Following her involvement in the 1996 and 1998 pro-democracy student uprisings and subsequent imprisonment, she established a cultural impact studies group to promote the idea that democracy is compatible with Asian culture. She also created and leads a self-help association for female ex-political prisoners and a political science school in Rangoon, which teaches and empowers civil society activists in Burma’s changing but still challenging environment. She is also the co-founder of a women’s empowerment group, and is currently spearheading an organization to raise awareness of issues affecting ethnic minorities in conflict areas.

Date: 03/05/2012 Description: Secretary of State's 2011 International Women of Courage Awardee - State Dept ImageJineth Bedoya Lima


Throughout her career as an investigative journalist, Jineth Bedoya has consistently sought out tough assignments, despite knowing the risks involved. In 2000, as she arrived at a prison to interview a key paramilitary member about an arms smuggling network, Jineth was kidnapped, driven several hours away and repeatedly gang raped. During this horrifying experience they told her, “Pay attention. We are sending a message to the press in Colombia.” Since then, Jineth has continued her work as an investigative journalist while pushing for justice in her own case and other unsolved cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Jineth has become an inspiration not only for female journalists, but for all women who are demanding justice for SGBV. She currently serves as spokeswoman of Oxfam’s campaign, “Rape and Other Violence: Take my Body out of the War.”

Date: 03/05/2012 Description: Secretary of State's 2011 International Women of Courage Awardee - State Dept ImageHana Elhebshi


Ms. Hana El Hebshi is a 26-year old Libyan architect who, during the long months of the Libyan revolution, became a symbol of solidarity and a model of courage to many across the country. Working under the pseudonym “Numidia,” a reference to the ancient Berber kingdom and to her own Berber heritage, Hana contributed greatly to proper documentation of the violence and tumult of the revolution and reached out to international media to share the realities of living under the previous regime, despite grave risk. She also became a symbol of hope to the Libyan people that the world was aware of the suffering they were enduring and that hope was on the way.

Date: 03/05/2012 Description: Secretary of State's 2011 International Women of Courage Awardee - State Dept ImageAneesa Ahmed


Aneesa Ahmed stands out as a staunch advocate for ending gender-based violence (GBV) in the Maldives. While serving as Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs, she raised the issue of domestic violence at a time when the subject was taboo. After leaving the government, she founded the NGO “Hope for Women” and began conducting sessions on GBV with students, Maldives Police Services, and other frontline workers. When religious scholars began identifying female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) as a practice supported by Islam on national radio, Ms. Ahmed asked the government to intervene, and spoke out publicly about the harmful effects of FGM/C. By openly discussing issues like these and promoting awareness through her NGO, Ms. Ahmed plays a key role in bringing these issues into public discourse and pressing the government to take action.

Date: 03/05/2012 Description: Secretary of State's 2011 International Women of Courage Awardee - State Dept ImageShad Begum


Shad Begum is a courageous human rights activist and leader who has changed the political context for women in the extremely conservative district of Dir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. As founder and executive director of Association for Behavior and Knowledge Transformation (ABKT), Ms. Shad provides political training, microcredit, primary education, and health services to women in the most conservative areas of Pakistan. Ms. Shad not only empowered the women of Dir to vote and run for office, she herself ran and won local seats in the 2001 and 2005 elections against local conservatives who tried to ban female participation. Despite threats, Ms. Shad continues to work out of Peshawar to improve the lives of women in the communities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Date: 03/05/2012 Description: Secretary of State's 2011 International Women of Courage Awardee - State Dept ImageSamar Badawi

Saudi Arabia

In one of the world’s most restrictive environments for women, Samar Badawi is a powerful voice for two of the most significant issues facing Saudi women: women's suffrage and the guardianship system, under which women cannot marry, work, or travel without a guardian’s (male relative) permission. In a landmark case, Badawi was the first woman to sue her father for abusing the guardian system and preventing her from marrying the suitor of her choice. She is also the first woman to file a lawsuit against the government demanding the right for women to vote, and launched an online campaign to encourage other women to file similar suits. The efforts of activists like Badawi helped encourage a royal decree allowing women to vote and run for office in future municipal elections.

Date: 03/05/2012 Description: Secretary of State's 2011 International Women of Courage Awardee - State Dept ImageHawa Abdallah Mohammed Salih


Hailing from North Darfur, Hawa and her family were forced to flee their home village in 2003 due to fighting between Darfuri rebels and government forces. As a result, she spent much of her young adult life in Abu Shouk internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in El Fasher, North Darfur, where she emerged as a prominent voice for the IDPs. For her advocacy, Hawa has been persecuted and detained on multiple occasions by the Government of Sudan, and was forced to flee Sudan in 2011. In spite of the personal harassment and political challenges that she has faced, Hawa hopes to return to her homeland to continue defending the rights of Darfuris, and in particular the rights of women and children.

Date: 03/05/2012 Description: Secretary of State's 2011 International Women of Courage Awardee - State Dept ImageSafak Pavey


Safak Pavey, the first disabled woman elected to the Turkish Parliament, has demonstrated great personal dignity in overcoming physical obstacles every day, while locally and globally championing the rights of vulnerable populations, including refugees and disabled persons. Whether working in extreme conditions for the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa, or acting as a lightning rod to spark the UN Interagency Support Group for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Pavey has sought to turn her disability into strength on a global level. After winning a seat in the Turkish parliament in June 2011, Pavey is continuing to give voice to disabled persons, women, and minority populations in Turkey as well.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

(Updated) "Quick fixes from education “reformers” will fail our students"

UPDATE: Here's the money quote...
Since 1991, per-pupil funding for K-12 education has slipped from 17th to 31st in the nation. In terms of state personal income, we’ve dropped from 24th to 45th in spending. We’ve gotten wealthier, but we’ve also become stingier.
John Burbank (Real Change):
There's an easier way to improve Washington schools: Fund them--“Reform” is usually considered a good thing, but some education advocates talk as if a handful of charter schools and firing teachers based on their students’ test scores are the magic bullets that will “fix” our schools.

Their efforts may be well intentioned, but they don’t actually address the real problems. MORE...

"Indefinite Detention Targeted In Democratic Bill On Handling Terrorist Suspects"

Michael McAuliff (HuffPo):
A pair of lawmakers on Thursday offered a bill that would repeal laws that allow the indefinite detention of Americans and others by the military without trial.

The power of military authorities to arrest and jail people as long as they want stems from Congress' 2001 joint resolution authorizing the use of military force against terrorists, but was explicitly codified into law last year after President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act on New Year's Eve. While allowing military detention of anyone, the act mandated that certain terrorist suspects had to be held by the armed forces.

Civil libertarians on the left and right were sharply critical of the law, even though the president promised not to grab Americans.

Obama set out policy rules last month making good on that pledge, specifying that U.S. citizens and numerous other categories of suspected terrorists would not be clapped into the military system, which somewhat mollified critics.

But many pointed out that those rules are only good as long as Obama is president, prompting Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) to offer their bill Thursday. MORE...
H/t to Pamela Eakes for this video (07:50):

"The Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09), and Senator Mark Udall (CO), a member of the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence committees, unveiled legislation at a press conference to ensure that any individual detained on U.S. soil under the Authorization of Military Force (AUMF) has access to due process and the federal court system."