Archive for March 2009
This video is a bit overdone, and the acting a bit underdone, but it is topical. Submitted for your approval: If the office basketball pool were run like the AIG bailout, wouldn’t we all be winners?’
Sunday’s Spokesman-Review will have a special feature in the Today Section on Obama and guns.
Not Barack Obama and his stance on gun control.
Michelle Obama and her “guns”. (Psst. That’s her upper arms for those of you who are wondering “Shotguns, pistols or rifles?”)
It features a fun quiz, where you cam try to match other famous women’s arms with their names.
Why do we care? Well, because not everything about politics is deadly serious. And because some fashionistas have questioned the First Lady’s choice of going sleeveless at various events, while others have insisted if you got ‘em, flaunt ‘em.
Check it out Sunday.
From TalkingPointsMemo, a look-in at Friday, and Obama’s stance on the ‘Stans.
Sen. Maria Cantwell got a mention from President Obama Friday in his speech about Afghanistan and Pakistan.
She was one of three members of Congress cited by the president as he backed their idea on economic development for the war-torn region. Cantwell, Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Peter Hoekstra have proposed “Reconstruction Opportunity Zones” for those areas, where most goods that are made there could be imported to the United States duty-free.
To qualify, a proposed ROZ would have to make progress toward establishing a market-based economy and the rule of law, protecting of human rights and workers’ rights, and other key benchmarks.
It was one of two bills Obama said he wanted Congress to pass to help his policies to the two ‘Stans.
When a sports team from around here plays in a big contest with a team from elsewhere, Washington politicians usually have to have something riding on the outcome.
In 2007, when the Seahawks played the Chicago Bears in the NFL playoffs, Gov. Chris Gregoire bet salmon and apples against barbecue and hot dogs with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. (Apparently he didn’t have any political positions seats to put up that week.)
In 2006, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers bet North Carlina Rep. Patrick McHenry a salmon dinner to a barbecue dinner that the Seahawks would beat the Panthers in the playoffs. She collected. Two weeks later, Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell bet Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum salmon, apples and coffee aganist pierogies and wings, the ‘Hawks would beat the Steelers in the Superbowl. They had to pay.
In 2005, when Eastern Washington University’s football team played Montana in “the Governor’s Cup,” she bet a salmon she’d caught against some of Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s buffalo steaks.
Friday, Gregoire’s office announced she has a bet with North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue on tonight’s Gonzaga-North Carolina baskeball game.
Bet you can’t guess what she bet…
The crisis in the financial markets is a “bipartisan mess” involving both of Barack Obama’s immediate predecessors, Congresses over the past 10 years and people who thought housing prices would always go up, Washington’s attorney general said Thursday.
Rob McKenna told the Washington Realtors Conference that different people spotted parts of the problems in recent years. He and the Iowa attorney general tried in 2006 to get tighter regulations and prevent fraud in the subprime loans process, and several states made attempts at consumer protection.
But the economic crisis was the result of “a confluence of events,” he said, including an economic boom fueled by debt, lenders losing their connection with borrowers and home buyers being enticed by unaffordable mortgages.
“I didn’t see the whole picture. None of us did,” McKenna said. “No one predicted foreclosure begets foreclosure.”
A previous post may have seemed snide for noting the Washington Legislature is considering naming the Olympic marmot as the state mammal. And a certain amount of snideness was intended.
But the Legislature seems to be a piker on wasting time compared to its governmental “big brother” in Washington, D.C. The House of Representatives really knows how to get down to business.
On Tuesday it passed a resolution “expressing support for the designation of … School Social Work Week.” On a 416-0 vote, no less.
This is not to say that Schools aren’t important or Social Work isn’t important, or that School Social Work as a combined concept doesn’t deserve it’s own week of support, or at least recognition.
But School Social Work Week was March 1-8. The House took the vote on March 24. So when you come right down to it, how much support does that really express? Really?
If you were busy with other stuff on Wednesday, here’s what you missed, courtesy of TalkingPointsMemo:
Note to Legislature: Handle the big stuff
In Olympia, one might argue, not very busy.
The State Senate has passed a bill making the Olympic marmot the state mammal. The proposal is now before a House committee.
As is typical with such proposal, it started with a grade school class that leaned upon a local legislator to propose and pass the bill. In this case, the class is the Fourth Grade at Seattle’s Wedgewood Elementary, and the legislator is Sen. Ken Jacobsen, D-Seattle.
It’s not clear from Kathie Durbin’s story in The Columbian, but these are often an exercise in teaching students something about how their government, or the legislative process, works. Kids come up with something that would make a cute state something and learn how to turn the idea into a reality.
While this sounds like a great idea in theory, it could easily be argued this year it’s a bad idea to practice.
Buzz Feed is flagging this press conference exchange between Barack Obama and Reporter Ed Henry, in which the president answers the question (toward the end) Why did you wait so long on AIG outrage?
What do you think? Did Obama get the better of this Q-and-A, or are you not buying the A? Click here to add a comment.
The day in 100 seconds from TalkingPointsMemo.
Barack Obama got his pick for Commerce Secretary on the third try. That would be former Washington Gov. Gary Locke, who was confirmed today.
He’s doing not quite so well on his picks for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, where he’s picked 33 out of the 48 games thus far. If you’ve done better, feel free to gloat.
But it would seem that Coach K’s suggestion that the president has better ways to spend his time than filling out his brackets might have been misdirected…it seems as though Obama didn’t spend that much time, after all.
Blogging is a bit light on Monday and Tuesday this week, but if you’re wondering what you missed on Monday, here’s the TalkingPointsMemo synopsis:
Anyone who thought questions about Barack Obama’s citizenship
were laid to rest by the election or a series of court decisions tossing out
lawsuits trying to challenge the election on that issue might have been
surprised by a question Chief Justice John Roberts got during his recent visit
When Roberts finished his prepared speech and opened the floor to questions at the University of Idaho this month, the first person to the microphone was a woman who said she’d travelled since 3 a.m. that morning to get from California to Moscow, so she begged for a little indulgence on the moderator’s rule that questioners be from the sponsoring College of Law so she could ask a question.
About “illegal activity in the Supreme Court.”
About her case being “erased from the docket” under circumstances that sounded, to say the least, suspicious.
About the president, whom she called Barack Hussein Obama aka Barry Soetero, not legally being president because he was “a foreign national at birth.”
Wondering about the president’s picks?
No, not his picks for cabinet or subcabinet posts, but the really important ones. His picks in the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament.
President Obama currently has picked 16 correct, as of Friday afternoon. Respectable, to be sure, but that puts him tied for 69th in the newspaper’s bracket pool on the CBS Web site.
A more complete discussion of his picks, and standing, will come at the end of the weekend.
For those who forgot to set the DVR, then fell asleep with the TV on and didn’t wake up until Jimmy Fallon was on, here’s President Obama’s appearance on the Tonight Show.
They talk about a range of topics, from AIG to puppies.
Question for discussion: Would this have been a better interview if Obama had done Letterman instead?
Conservative media are abuzz with the fact that President Obama has filled out his bracket for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Some are talking heads and members of Congress are even aghast.
Aghast, you say, because he filled out a Men’s bracket and not a women’s bracket? No.
Aghast because he has an awful lot of safe picks, like three No 1 seeds in the Final 4, plus Memphis, a No. 2 seed, and thus is showing signs of being too careful in basketball as well as the economy? No.
Aghast because he didn’t pick a particular team favorite? Mostly no, although Duke’s Coach K thinks Obama should worry about the economy not the tournament..after the president had the nerve to pick Pitt over Duke in the Elite Eight.
Aghast because bracketology is a gateway bet to gambling addiction and nights spent on Texas Hold ‘em, Blackjack and the Slots? No, although the Christian Conservative movement hasn’t weighed in yet on that point.
Today is the sixth anniversary of a pretty big event. It made really big headlines at the time, although now, not so much and not so often.
Do you know what that event is?
Answer inside the blog.
CNN catches Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., in a “misstatement” on the loophole that allowed AIG to give out bonuses, and hammers him.
Here’s the official White House statement sending a proposal to change VA health benefits to the round file.
You know, the Deep Six, the 86, the kybosh. Sounds like this SNAFU was FUBAR. Whatever, It’s toast.
Statement from Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on the President’s Strong Commitment to America’s Veterans:
The Obama Administration is dropping a proposal that would have allowed the Veterans Affairs Department to bill a vets’ insurance company for treating service-connected disabilities and injuries.
That’s the word from Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who is one of the top members of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and a critic of the proposal.
Murray is making is portraying this change as the president listening to, and keeping faith with, veterans.
Perhaps the president or his advisers could have saved themselves some grief by listening to veterans before trying to float the idea.
Text of Murray statement is inside the blog.
Fox News reports on anger and discontent brewing among the populace. The plan: Tea bag the White House.
Those with a local interest in such protests might check out the Spokane Tea Party’s Facebook page. (They don’t have a separate Web site, apparently.)
Much as Spin Control loves a good populist protest movement, a question did hit us: Did the Sons of Liberty throw tea bags into Boston Harbor? No, we didn’t think so…
Sen. Patty Murray had some harsh words for a proposal being floated by the Obama Administration that would change health care benefits for veterans.
You can listen to her opening statement here
and her questioning of former Gen. Shinseki, the VA secretary, here
or go inside the blog to read about the issue and join in a new commentary thread.
Something you may have thought you’d never see or hear: a White Republican rapper.
Hi-Caliber is a former Jersey construction worker. So what do you think? Should he get a contract, cut some CDs and tour? Or should he not have quit his day job?
Chief Justice John Roberts doesn’t do much public speaking, so it was a treat for the University of Idaho to land him for a speech and a chance to answer a few questions at the College of Law’s Bellwood Lecture Series.
But the first question may be a good example of why members of the Supreme Court don’t go out much on the speaking circuit.
Roberts gave his speech on why law students and lawyers might want to emulate Abraham Lincoln’s career as a lawyer, and was ready to field a few questions. See story reprinted below, or click here.) The moderator reiterated that Roberts couldn’t talk about pending cases or his opinions on past decisions, and asked that the questions be limited to folks from U of I, since this was, after all, a university sponsored event. And ask a question, don’t make a speech, he added.
The first person managed to go 0 for 3, saying that she was a lawyer who left Southern California at 3 a.m., begged the crowd’s indulgence and launched into a discussion of “illegal activities going on in the Supreme Court of the United States” surrounding a petition she was trying to file to get the court to look at…
MOSCOW, Idaho – John Roberts isn’t too concerned that more people can name the judges on “American Idol” than can name him or the other members of the U.S. Supreme Court.
“It’s nice to be not always recognizable,” the chief justice of the United States said when asked about a recent survey that showed the cast of the popular television show was much better known than members of the nation’s highest court.
The bigger concern is that many people don’t know how the courts function, or understand their role in applying the law rather than making it, Roberts told an overflow crowd Friday afternoon at the University of Idaho College of Law as part of the school’s Bellwood Lecture series
Asking for voters for more money in a recession is a difficult task. The government entities that made that request last week probably didn’t know how bad the economy was going to look by election day, so most of them had to be at least relieved with the result.
Most, but not all. The City of
An outside observer might assume that the bigger of the two bond issues was the one that crashed and burned. Not so; the school bond issue, at $288 million, is about 15 times bigger.
The City of
The U.S. Army Reserve made good on its promise to hold an “open house” on having some of its soldiers marching through Hayden one Sunday morning in almost full gear as part of a training exercise.
The “house” was open Wednesday night, but it was reminiscent of that old ‘60s poster: “Suppose they gave a war, and nobody came?”
A half-dozen men in camouflage BDUs showed up at the Hayden City Hall and occupied the council chamber on Wednesday night, and waited for anyone wanting to question them about an exercise last month which involved several platoons marching along neighborhood streets. As reported earlier in Spin Control, it didn’t cause much concern in town, but pictures of troops in full packs and M-16s began circulating on the Web, with some comments about how this was all a prelude to the government declaring marial law or coming to take away personal firearms.
The event was planned with minimal notice, and the good folks of Hayden either didn’t know or didn’t care. Other than someone from the Hayden city staff who let the soldiers in and out, and a janitor to clean up afterwards, the only person not connected with the military in some manner was a reporter.
And the Army Reserve couldn’t have been happier…
Although it’s too early to declare the Spokane School District’s bond issue a winner, it is clear that it did considerably better than the City of Spokane’s bond issue.
It pulled more votes out of almost every city precinct that the two proposals shared. Sometimes lots more, as the above map of the first night’s vote totals shows.
This is interesting for several reasons.
Sen. Patty Murray wants the nation’s new energy czar to come West for a visit.
A visit to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, that is. At a budget hearing Wednesday, Murray, D-Wash., extended the invite to Energy Secretary Steven Chu to stop by Hanford and the Pacific Northwest Nuclear Labs at his earliest convenience.
Chu didn’t exactly whip out his Day Planner and write something in, as the audio clip shows. He allowed as how he’s planning on coming out to Washington at some point.
With a stop at Hanford and PNNL? Murray pressed.
“We haven’t made those plans,” Chu replied.
“We’ll help you plan,” she said, helpfully.
Let’s see, that planning should probably include . . .
The National Journal has developed a great resource for figuring out where your congressional delegation stands on on the political spectrum, an interactive graphic that combines the scores of several rating groups, then ranks the honorables with their photos.
Rating systems aren’t new, of course, but this one is just more fun. It’s available by clicking here.
In it, we learn that the National Journal’s calculations place Patty Murray as the Senate’s most liberal member, based on last year’s votes. That puts her 17 slots ahead of Maria Cantwell, her fellow Washington Democrat, 76 ahead of Larry Craig, who was Idaho’s senior senator until he retired last year, and 79 ahead of Mike Crapo, also R-Idaho. Four Republicans — all westerners — tied for the ranking of most conservative in the Senate.
What about the House? Washington, of course, is a mixed bag. Idaho, not so much. . .
The Spokane School District bond issue received strong support all over the city. Even in parts of the city where it didn’t receive the required super majority, voters in many precincts gave it a simple majority.
Note that some of the strongest support comes in areas where the bond will rebuild or rehab schools. On the South Side, the precincts around Ferris High School and Jefferson and Hutton elementary schools have big majorities.
Spokane School District officials can probably rest easy tonight. Their $288 million bond issue has a comfortable lead, and seems headed for passage.
News for the City of Spokane’s Police Department and animal control plans is not so good. The $18.5 million “Police and Pets” bond issue was thumped. Hard.
The above map is a look at the city bond issue as of Tueday night’s count.-
It would appear the White House does not have anyone who speaks colloquial Russian. Should that be a cause for concern, when the phone rings at 3 a.m.?
The first ballot counts won’t be available until shortly after 8 p.m. tonight, but one thing is certain with the Spokane city and District 81 bond issue proposals.
They will validate, if they get enough yes votes.
Ballot return figures from the Spokane County Elections Office shows all cities, towns and school districts with something on the ballot are at least very close to the 40 percent validation figure. School levies don’t need that any more, now that they’ve been reduced to a simple majority.
But the City of Spokane, which has a bond issue along with a charter change, is at 39.5 percent, and Spokane School District 81, with both a levy and a bond issue is at 39.9 percent.
And let’s hear it for Rosalia, which has 62 percent of its ballots in. OK, so they only have 21 voters…but still, 13 have mailed them in.
Election ends at 8 p.m. If you still have your ballot, you can mark it and mail it, but take it to the post office to make sure it’s postmarked today. Or go inside the blog to see a list of drop-boxes, where you can deposit by 8 p.m., without a stamp.
A former Spokane mayor and other critics of the River Park Square project are opposing the nomination of a local lawyer to be the next U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington because of his involvement in the mall renovation some 10 years ago.
Former Mayor John Talbott and three others sent a five-page letter to President Barack Obama and key members of Congress asking that Mike Ormsby not be named to the district’s top federal law enforcement spot because of his role in helping to secure financing for the controversial project. They claim the project was rife with fraud, despite federal investigators’ determination last September that no fraud occurred in the mall’s financing.
Ormsby called the letter an “effort to demonize me as a part of this project” and said some of its statements were false or misleading.
“The letter far overstates my importance to and involvement in the project,” he said. “I very much look forward to defending my reputation, performance and ethics in the vetting process.”
Voters in nine
Ballots that are mailed must be postmarked by Tuesday. They can also be deposited, minus a stamp, in a drop box set up by the County Elections office at most public libraries.
Drop box locations are inside the blog:
Saturday Night Live had better than normal politcal satire this weekend. Of course, they’ve got lots to work with. They took shots at Republicans and Democrats such as:
The Michael Steele - Rush Limbaugh flap:
Timothy Geithner trying to get a handle on the economy:.
Let me get this straight.
The Spokane Transit Authority wants benches at its bus stops.
A company that sells advertising has benches at many of those bus stops, where it rents the bench backs as signs for its ad customers.
The city doesn’t like signs on the backs of benches because they offend the aesthetic sensibilities of some city officials and residents. It has essentially made such signs illegal and told the ad company to remove the benches.
After the city makes the advertising company remove its benches, STA will spend $87,000 to put up new benches.
Who wins here?
Although there was a lot going on in national politics — economic stimulus money pumping out to the states, an omnibus spending bill that crashed and burned in Congress, new rules on bankruptcy — the national political media had one mantra last week.
All Rush, all the time. Video clip highlights of the back and forth are inside.
More than $1.5 million in federal money is being offered to law
enforcement agencies in
The money, part of the economic stimulus package, was added to an existing program known as the Edward Byrne Justice Assistant Grants, which is designed to get more police on the street, more training and equipment to agencies, and more help for crime victims, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said.
The White House is promising to review all requests and approve or reject them within two weeks, a Cantwell spokeswoman said.
The program divides the money between states and local
governments. Under its formula, the City of
U.S. Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar is taking the gray wolf off the endangered species list in Idaho and other Western states.
Wolves have recovered and don’t need ESA protection, Salazar said. Management plans are being turned over to the states everywhere but in Wyoming, where the state’s plan still needs work, he said.
The announcement was met with praise from the Idaho congressional delegation, who, past and present, have been working to remove federal protections for gray wolves.
Gov. Butch Otter sees this as an economic boon. He thinks letting folks hunt wolves, which is part of the state’s management plan, will help the state’s $35 million hunting and fishing industry.
Rep. Walt Minnick called it a good thing, too, saying he’s been talking with the administration and other Westerners in Congress and fellow “Blue Dog Democrats.” Yeah, there’s always been some animosity between dogs and wolves.
One of the Blue Dogs is Rep. John Salazar of Colorado. Yes, he’s related to the secretary; they’re brothers.
You may or may not have missed much. Here’s the TalkingPointsMemo synopsis. Judge for yourself.
During the Senate’s hearing Wednesday over the AIG bailout, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., asked Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to explain “where did the money go?” The exchange below is interesting, but not terribly illuminating.
Jon Stewart on the Daily Show points out a few bad calls by CNBC, after Rick Santelli’s outburst against “loser” homeowners.
The people supporting the ballot measures for the Spokane School District seem to be intent on proving that the community needs to be spending more money on education. It seems they would not last long on that FOX-TV game show, “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?”
They keep making the mistakes that would earn students in the District 81 classrooms a failing grade.
So it would seem from TalkingPointsMemo’s quick look at the day.
The White House and Washington state’s two Democratic senators were very happy to announce this week that a small piece of the stimulus package was headed to Spokane for a new medical clinic.
Community Health Association of Spokane was awarded a $1.3 million grant Monday from the Health and Human Services Department’s portion of the Recovery Act. (Forgive me for referring to seven figures of money as small, but we’re becoming so used to trillions that a million sounds picayune.)
Good for jobs, with unemployment moving up to 10 percent around here. Good for health, considering that those unemployed workers are also, mostly, uninsured. Good for the stimulus package.
Except that the clinic isn’t going to be in Spokane…
After the weekend’s Conservative Political Action Committee meeting, the biggest talking point revolves around Rush Limbaugh and his role as the “leader” of the Republican Party.
Go inside the blog to view some of the videos that are fueling the debate.
The Community Health Association of Spokane will get $1.3 million from the economic stimulus package, although the organization that operates five local clinics isn’t sure yet how the money is to be used.
The White House and
A spokesman for Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said the money will
be used to pay for a project the association proposed in late 2007 but failed
to get approval. CHAS submitted a request for a
Aaron Wilson, deputy chief executive officer for CHAS,
said he wasn’t sure what past project proposal the federal government is now
offering to fund. It is hoping to expand its operation in the
The 100-second look, courtesy of TalkingPointsMemo.
…or went to church, and missed the weekend “talking head shows” here’s the TalkingPointsMemo short version, that highlights Obama’s stylistic differences in cabinet meetings, and Rush Limbaugh’s role in the GOP:
Above photo first appeared on SteveQuayle.com, attributed to “Pam”
A platoon of reservists from the 455th Engineering Co. took a
walk down a street in
Out there, they inadvertently fan the flame for folks worried that any minute now, the gummint’s coming to get your guns, yank down your Stars and Stripes, and make you put a hand on the Koran to swear allegiance to the New World Order.
That wasn’t where the soldiers of the 455th were headed when they