Latest from The Spokesman-Review
PUBLIC LANDS — President Obama is using his presidential power to end-around the gridlock in Washington to give better protection to choice public lands.
President Obama designates national monument in New Mexico
At a press conference Wednesday, President Obama designated 500,000 acres in New Mexico along the state's border with Mexico the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, the 12th time he has used the Antiquities Act to protect lands, and he said he's not done yet.
—Salt Lake Tribune
Video from KIRO-TV
President Obama had the Seattle Seahawks over to "the house' to give them congrats for winning the Super Bowl. For the text of his speech, go inside the blog.
The Seahawks are being invited to the White House next Wednesday for some presidential atta-boys.
The White House announced President Obama will honor the team for their Super Bowl victory and "for their efforts to give back to their communities."
Perhaps he'll also thank Richard Sherman for supplying him with some gag lines in the recent correspondents dinner as shown in the video above.
(Editor's note: This is an update of the short story that first appeared this morning on the newspaper's website. It generated more than 100 comments there, and you can join the conversation by clicking here.)
OLYMPIA — President Obama will make a stop in Washington later this month to visit parts of Snohomish County devastated by the March 22 mudslide.
Obama will visit on April 22 to get a first-hand look at the devastation and the communities’ reaction in Oso, Arlington and Darrington, the White House announced Tuesday morning. He plans to meet with families, first responders and recovery workers. . .
To read the rest of this item, click here to continue inside the blog.
President Obama sat down with Zach Galifianakis for a mock interview, with the main purpose of plugging the health care website but which wandered into many bizarre topics.
Am guessing that conservative pundits who get angry when Obama goes on ESPN to make his NCAA bracket picks will go ballistic over this one.
But parts of it are pretty funny.
Tuesday Video: President Obama says “we will respond to threat of climate change” at second inaugural address
When President Barack Obama gave his second inaugural address yesterday he seemed different. Perhaps emboldened after the election, he tipped the axis a bit towards a more powerful progressive embrace than I've seen in a while and he called for united action. In the "ask not what your country can do for you" mold, he then devoted time to climate change:
We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries — we must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure — our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.
Watch the clip after the jump and you can read the whole address HERE.
I've been pretty critical of President Obama's energy policies but I was surpised by the attention he paid to climate change during his speech last night at the Democratic Convention:
My plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet — because climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They are a threat to our children’s future. And in this election, you can do something about it.
This was quite the contrast to Mitty Romney. During his acceptance speech for the Republican nomination, he stated: "President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. MY promise … is to help you and your family." (Note: That's a contrast from Romney's presidential run in 2008 when he stated climate change was happening and humans were contributing. Then he lost.)
This speech wasn't a home run for the environment. He mentioned clean coal and fracking but his batting average was still pretty high last night, making the case for clean energy and efficiency:
You can choose the path where we control more of our own energy. After thirty years of inaction, we raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas. We’ve doubled our use of renewable energy, and thousands of Americans have jobs today building wind turbines and long-lasting batteries. …
We’re offering a better path — a future where we keep investing in wind and solar …; where farmers and scientists harness new biofuels to power our cars and trucks; where construction workers build homes and factories that waste less energy.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A White House official says President Barack Obama will make a three-day West Coast swing next month. The president's trip will start in Seattle on Sept. 25.
He will also make three stops in California: San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles. Obama's trip will wrap up in Denver on Sept. 27.
The president's travel schedule is picking up again following a summer that saw him largely stuck in Washington to deal with the contentious and protracted debate over raising the nation's debt ceiling and cutting government spending.
The official insisted on anonymity because the trip has not been officially announced.
- President Obama
It was difficult to catch any member of Congress on the television last week who wasn’t talking about doing what the American people want.
The American people, it seems, want them to cut the deficit, increase jobs, not to raise taxes and to balance the budget. Or to stimulate the economy, increase jobs, and make the wealthy pay their fair share. (You can guess which parties’ members say which.)
Just how members of Congress divine the wishes of the American people isn’t always clear. Elected officials dare not listen too closely to polls, for fear of being accused of holding their finger to the political winds and then being blown in that direction. It’s also possible to get just about any answer one desires from a poll by the way one words the questions.
There was a time when they’d check their mail. Not personally of course, but Washington is magnet for eager young interns who come hoping to change the world and get issued a letter opener and a desk in a small dark room. Later, interns would check voice mail and the fax machine.
In the 21st Century, they also check the congresspersons’ Facebook page, their Twitter account and the e-mail inbox, all of which provide more immediate communication than paper, pen, an envelope and a stamp ever could.
Except, of course, when cyberspace fails…
Good morning, Netizens…
Have you ever played chicken with another driver before? My personal high priestess of correct thinking always told me playing chicken was a total waste of resources, regardless of whether or not I won. I believe Harry Reed and the Republicans are now playing chicken with various portions of our entire economy. The House Speaker John Boehner even went so far as to hold a closed-door meeting with President Obama, and attained slightly more than nothing.
Boehner and Obama each took their verbal shots at one another in rare prime-time addresses to the nation last night. Obama stated, in part, “…once again, the economy will be held captive unless they get their way.” while Boehner countered with “The solution to this crisis is not complicated.” “If you’re spending more money than you’re taking in, you need to spend less of it.”
As the white picket fences on each side of the economic road fade into a blur over the next week, someone will have to compromise with their political counterparts or we will be facing certain financial disaster in the form of default, something both parties have stated would be a catastrophe.
In the age of the Internet and television, the two sides are moving faster and faster, but never flinching from the respective positions they espouse. They've both got their feet on their accelerators full-blast, their eyes locked firmly on the goals of politics and roaring toward one another.
Who will swerve at the last minute, thus avoiding certain economic breakdown? This is a game of chicken, remember?
The president gives a regular radio address on the weekend. In the interests of fairness, Republicans get a few minutes of "equal time" to rebut, refute or otherwise try to counter what he has to say.
While the president's address is rarely big news, the GOP response often goes completely unnoticed, unless it happens to be picked up by the network news on a slow weekend.
The GOP passes the honor around so that no one person gets all the good face time. Last weekend, it was U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Eastern Washington's 5th Congressional District. Her topic: So, hey, Mr. President. How about those jobs you're always talking about? Where the heck are they?
Obama's address was a bit more wide ranging, talking about his Twitter Town Hall, talks to lift the debt ceiling and things he's doing to try to get more jobs.
Wait a minute, you say. It's radio so how can there be face time?
Well, they usually have a camera rolling to send out a video version, and post something on Youtube.
This is the video version of the McMorris Rodgers weekend radio address.
To see Obama's radio address, or to comment, click here and go inside the blog.
Good morning, Netizens…
According to cartoonist David Horsey, the art of hostage taking as taught by Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner is a good study in brinksmanship, in my opinion. Given the amount of hyperbole and grandstanding involved over the previous weeks, it would appear that David Horsey's cartoon may have hit the nail on the head; the Republican strategy appears to have worked.
However, before anyone breathes heartfelt sighs of relief, after saving federal funding for Planned Parenthood I should hasten to point out we aren't through with the federal budget by a long shot. There are still lots of sacrificial lambs awaiting delivery to the altar politic before the ink is dry on the national budget, a fact I am certain Speaker Boehner is wisely keeping beneath his collar.
In case you are wondering, why was Planned Parenthood chosen to be Boehner's hostage? Just last Friday, for example, Republican Sen. John Kyl of Arizona fired the opening salvo on Planned Parenthood when he said on the Senate floor that "if you want an abortion you go to Planned Parenthood. And that's well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does."
Get used to the deception. It just isn't so.
Despite the fact Kyl was eventually forced to rescind his statement, as despite Planned Parenthood being a truly big target to Conservative Republicans, over 90% of what Planned Parenthood does do is NOT abortions. So it stands to reason when Boehner was searching for a highly-visible hostage that he could broker into tax cuts, who else could he grab?
Once President Obama sensed that Boehner was willing to hold Planned Parenthood as his hostage, and that Republicans were, for the most part, behind the elimination of federal funding for Planned Parenthood, he had to acquiesce and cave in to the other demands to save us from government shutdown.
Of course, this is only my interpretation of the saving of our government, and perhaps your opinion(s) may differ.
Raci Erdem called a few minutes ago to say that he meant absolutely nothing offense with the sign he posted to announce new Sunday hours for his White House/Post Falls restaurant: "Due to Boredom, Obama, Etc., we need your money." Raci (pronounced Rah-gee) told Huckleberries that he would have published the same sign in an earlier time with the names of George Bush or Bill Clinton on it. He said he was disappointed that some people are upset, like the man who called him last night to say that he'd never dine at the White House again. Raci reiterated that he meant no offense, pointing out that he has used signs like "Gone fishing" in the past to let customers know that the business was shut for a period of time. Also, he said, he loves this country because you're allowed to express an opinion if you want. In his native Turkey, he said, he might be the target of a bomb for expressing an opinion. He was surprised that Your Huckleberry Hound had never eaten at his restaurant. (Photo courtesy of Kerri Thoreson Facebook page)
President Obama has instructed the Justice Department to stop defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, which has since 1996 banned federal recognition of same-sex unions. The announcement was made in a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder to congressional leaders in relation to two lawsuits, Pedersen v. OPM and Windsor v. United States, which challenge a section of DOMA that defines marriage for federal purposes as only between one man and one woman. Obama "has made the determination," Holder wrote, that Section 3 "as applied to same-sex couples who are legally married under state law, violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment"/ABC News. More here.
Question: Do you support the decision by the Obama administration to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act, which bans the recognition of same-sex unions?
President Obama singles out Spokane business owner in remarks about health care bill and small business benefits
Added this morning: video of the president's remarks on Janine Vaughn. She's mentioned at 10:18 mark.
Spokane business owner Janine Vaughn hit the weekly-double this week, in terms of national press attention.
On Friday at a Washington, D.C., event, President Obama highlighted Vaughn's small Spokane business, Revival Lighting, and how last year's health care law has helped her stay in business and keep the business profitable.
Obama singled out Vaughn during a keynote address before a gathering of more than 1,000 health care advocates at a D.C. hotel.
Earlier this week and right after the president's state of the union address, Vaughn was singled out and received prominent mention in the White House blog. The White House blog comments are here.
She's singled out for having a businesswoman's positive view of the new health care law. The blog says: "Janine says that the Affordable Care Act has given her more peace of mind. Before it was signed into law in March 2010, she had to think hard about whether she was going to be able to even offer insurance to her employees in the future, but now, the tax credits remove that worry."
We ran a story on Vaughn in the Spokesman-Review on Sept. 28, taking note of her support then for the state initative to add an income tax for high-worth earners.
That initiative was defeated soundly by the voters.
Good morning, Netizens…
Today is Saturday, the fourth day of Hanukkah, just 21 days before Christmas. We should be girding our loins with industrial duty spandex as we prepare ourselves for the onslaught of TV’s talking heads assuring us that they have the inside track when it comes to finding that “perfect gift” for Christmas and ideologues telling us to ignore the dismal unemployment rates that were released yesterday.
This morning you get two-fers from David Horsey, this being the first, a sage comment on what President Obama must be telling the members of the Democratic Party while Republican leaders are trumpeting their incredible successes.
Why is it that when either Democrats or Republicans begin singing hosannas over their respective plans or success stories, I immediately turn down the volume? Do I distrust political parties that much, or is simply experience won over years or silent observation?
However, from my perspective the Republican party is not what I would call bipartisan. Of course, your results may differ.
Saturday Night Live opened this weekend with a shot at Rahm Emmanuel’s departure from the Obama Administration last week
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, not the one in Post Falls.
The most famouse residence in America plans to get greener with Energy Secretary Steven Chu announcing today solar panels will be installed by spring 2011 on top of the White House to heat water and provide some electricity.
From Chu: As we move towards a clean energy economy, the White House will lead by example. I am pleased to announce that by the end of this spring, there will be solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity and a solar hot water heater on the roof of the White House. It’s been a long time since we’ve had them up there. These two solar installations will be part of a Department of Energy demonstration project. The project will show that American solar technology is available, reliable, and ready to install in homes throughout the country. Around the world, the White House is a symbol of freedom and democracy. It should also be a symbol of America’s commitment to a clean energy future.
Trivia time: Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush both when solar during their days in the White House. Carter in the late 1970s spent $30,000 on a solar water-heating system for West Wing offices, only to be removed by Ronald Reagan. Bush’s solar systems powered a maintenance building and some of the mansion, and heated water for the pool. Ha.
Bill McKibben commented, “If it has anything like the effect of the White House garden, it could be a trigger for a wave of solar installations across the country and around the world.”
While Germany, China and Spain have crushed us in solar energy production due to our own domestic neglect, it’s important to recognize that, buoyed by the Recovery Act, employment in the U.S. solar industry has been exploding in recent years, reaching 60,000 jobs. Just sayin’.
A Spirit Lake man accused of making grenades in his home over the Fourth of July weekend fears a communist takeover but has never threatened anyone, his lawyer said in recently filed court documents.
Though federal agents have emphasized statements Kenneth B. Kimbley, Jr., 58, made about militias and his dislike for President Barack Obama, the suspect “made absolutely no threats to harm anyone at anytime,” according to court documents prepared by Kimbley’s public defender, Kim Deater.
Kimbley is appealing a U.S. magistrate’s decision to keep him in jail before his trial, currently set for late November, saying he poses no threat to the community.
“In fact, everything said by Mr. Kimbley is no different than what his idol, Glenn Beck, typically states on the air and is protected free speech.”
Deater writes that though Kimbley was “frequently baited” by an undercover agent, he and his friends “simply discussed their concerns of a communist takeover and the need to be prepared to defend themselves and the country if in fact a takeover occurred.”
Deater points out that Kimbley was not charged with making threats or with unlawful militia activity.
Instead, he’s charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and one count of making a firearm in violation of the national firearms act.
The first charge stems from Kimbley, prohibited form possessing firearms because of a felony conviction, allegedly selling an undercover agent a .22 caliber handgun in October 2009.
The second stems from his arrest on July 3, when federal agents found grenade component in his home at 28128 Highway 41. Steven Eugene Winegar, 52, also is charged.
Deater described Kimbley as “a hardworking, taxpaying citizen” who’s lived in the area for 30 years and worked as a truck driver for the last four. He’s concerned his wife may be homeless in the next few months because of financial problems.
U.S. Magistrate Mikel H. Williams allowed Winegar to leave jail before trial but ordered Kimbley held without bail. He rejected Kimbley’s appeal Sept. 9, but Kimbley filed another appeal Sept. 16.
No hearing has been scheduled.
Good morning, Netizens…
As Richard noted yesterday, sometimes it is difficult to hold a factual or even cogent discussion of National Politics or the economy based upon a David Horsey cartoon. Today’s cartoon is a generalization of opinion of President Obama that shows neither Left nor Right with absolute clarity, but is painted with a broad brush, missing the impact of public opinion from either Left nor Right.
This is ostensibly an attempt to portray President Obama as viewed from both sides of the political spectrum, but missing some key points, including the state of our economy and how each side perceives it to be. As Richard aptly pointed out, there are few people qualified to discuss that issue; hence it gets overlooked.
One question remains to be seen: is our economy heading for the tank again? That seems a fair question whether viewed from the Left or the Right.
- President Obama
It’s probably safe to say that few if any of our readers could find anything positive to say about President Obama’s Oval Office speech last week. It’s not even like we were expecting some great “a ha” moment anyways. A speech full of BS rhetoric and beating around the bush would have been better than what we got. Instead, he put the car in reverse and put us deeper into the place we’ve been for the last seven weeks, which is full of anger, full of questions, and full of skepticism. Come on man, if you really think what your boys Thad Allen and Ken Salazar are doing is productive, than you should have spent the time convincing us of that. Don’t just say you’ve got their back, present your case. That speech was an absolute disgrace and a complete waste of time.
Pretty sad when we have to rely on a fake president to make us sleep easier at night.
Did it make any difference when Itron Inc. CEO and President Malcolm Unsworth met with President Barack Obama in a Rose Garden ceremony last week?
The Itron stock symbol seems to tell the story.On Friday morning, April 30, Itron shares opened at $80.45. That morning Unsworth, with two Itron manufacturing workers, met Obama and listened as the president praised efforts by U.S. firms like Itron in helping meet the pressing needs of a more efficient electric grid.
At 11:40 a.m., shortly after the White House event, shares of Itron hit their recent high point, at $81.75. That’s the high price point over the past two years.
Since then the Itron share price has slid southward. As of today, it’s trading at $75 and change. To see the earlier Office Hours blog entry on the Rose Garden event, it’s here.
Deloris Duquette, who is vice president for sales development and operations at Liberty Lake-based Itron, said the real reason for the spike was the April 28 Q1 financial results.
“We released earnings after the market closed on the 28th and beat expectations by quite a bit and saw a (roughly) $5 uptick in the price on the 29th on very heavy volume.”
Right after the earnings report, the Thursday and Friday total volumes of shares traded also soared to more than one million shares, Duquette pointed out.
Last week we shared a great quote from Robert Stone, director of the excellent documentary, “Earth Days.”
“I would argue that the environmental movement, which is a similarly forward looking enterprise, would be well served by taking a look back at itself, however briefly, if for no other reason than to understand where it came from, what it has accomplished, where it has stumbled, and why, given all we have long known about our pollution of the Earth’s ecosystem, we have ended up in our current environmental predicament.”
“Earth Days”premiered last evening on PBS and yesterday Planet Forward ran a webisode where Robert Stone talked to Frank Sesno about the film, about Earth Day and about environmental issues right now. Below is that webisode:
Find more videos like this on Planet Forward
“As we continue to tackle our environmental challenges, it’s clear that change won’t come from Washington alone. It will come from Americans across the country who take steps in their own homes and their own communities to make that change happen.”
- President Barack Obama
“So baby, you can drill all you want, but what you’ll find won’t keep you on the road” - Jeff Rubin, of Canada’s Globe and Mail, in a recent blog post about President Obama’s announcement to drill for oil and natural gas off America’s coasts.
Rubin writes a blog called “Jeff Rubin’s Smaller World” in which he covers issues of our energy economy and wearing ourselves off of oil. How about that, a country’s major newspaper with a blog JUST about becoming less dependent on oil. Cool huh?
At any rate, Rubin writes in his blog post that Obama’s sudden reversal of the ban on new oil and gas drilling in protected U.S. waters is, “nothing more than a public relations exercise that will still leave Americans facing the daunting reality that they must learn to consume less, not more, of the one substance they have grown so overwhelmingly dependent on.”
Rubin argues that despite the announcement, there’s just not that much to drill for. Unfortunately, that won’t stop anybody, and even if they come up short, the ecological damage will have been done. Read Rubin’s post HERE.
What is it with vice presidents and the F-bomb?
Vice President Joe Biden dropped the expletive in front of a microphone right after introducing President Obama at today’s signing ceremony for the health care legislation. Obama’s press secretary later made light of the incident in this Tweet.
In 2004, Vice President Dick Cheney admitted directing the word toward Sen. Patrick Leahy.
Good morning, Netizens…
David Horsey’s cartoon this morning attempts to depict the status quo of President Barack Obama and, although Horsey hits the target, the cartoon leaves the some readers with the same sense of ambivalence that might be responsible for President Obama’s withering polls. According to Fox News, hardly an objective news source when it comes to anything associated with President Obama, the latest Gallop Poll shows Obama has fallen to a 47% job approval rating. If this piece of demography is true, it places President Obama at a lower job approval rating than any of his recent predecessors, including former President George Bush.
The underlying question seems to be what do we do about Afghanistan?
On one hand, if we “stick it out” and continue the battle for dominance over the warring cultures of Afghanistan and Pakistan, if history is our mentor, we will most likely lose, as no one has won a war in that region. As I have said several times, bring me the head of Osama Bin Laden and for my part, the war with Afghanistan is over.
That, too, may be a simplistic and overly idiotic view of world affairs. On the other hand, attempting to wage a war which has, in President Obama’s own words, a predetermined end is inviting our opponents to simply wait us out.
That, our lackluster economy, and now the hotly-contested debate about global warming, the number and diversity of the fires heating up President Obama’s kettles may be even more than the sum of Afghanistan.
Of course, your results may differ.
As America loses its lead in green technology and causes further endangerment from delay, Al Gore stopped off in Seattle to take on the ideological deniers: “They are impervious to any intrusions of fact.”
On the same day as Gore’s visit, President Obama and China’s President Hu Jintao announced what the White House called “a far reaching package” on clean energy. (From two nations that use 40 pecent of global energy resources.) Here’s the rub: One provision is titled “21st Century Coal.” Both presidents want to develop “clean coal” and the implausible carbon capture and storage (CCS).
While DTE and The Goracle hope for honestly clean energy—solar and wind—-writer Joel Connelly says “coal may very well end up in the Christmas stockings of those who want action on climate change.”
Full story here.
Also, check the excerpt below from a Seattle Times interview with Gore where he touches on Obama thus far, Copenhagen, and the public perception of climate change.
And who said bipartisanship was dead.
Last week President Obama signed a $32.2 billion Interior and Environment Appropriations bill for the 2010 fiscal year. And in that bill, the National Park Service received $2.7 billion - roughly $218 million above the 2009 funding level.
As The Boston Globe put it, “apparently things are so bad for the nation’s parks that some Republicans took a time out last week from the bitter partisanship over health care and their general blockade on climate change legislation and helped Congress pass a $32.2 billion spending measure that boosts funding 17 percent.”
Other agencies will benefit from the bill, including; the Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Wildlife Refuge System. The measure also included a 35 percent increase for the Environmental Protection Agency and a 67 increase for programs to study climate change.
From the National Parks Conservation Association, here are some of the highlights:
* NPS Operations received roughly $130 million above last year’s funding level, which fulfills the President’s pledge to increase park operations $100 million above inflation.
* The NPS portion of the Land and Water Conservation Fund—a fund used to purchase critical lands now on the market for conservation and public recreation—received $126.26 million. This is an increase of $61 million over last year’s level and $28 million above the President’s request.
* Public-Private Partnerships, previously known as the Centennial Challenge, was funded at $15 million.
* A potentially harmful rider that would have required a public hunt to manage the growing elk population at Theodore Roosevelt National Park was removed. The rider would have overridden longstanding agency-wide policy.
* Most importantly, and beyond the numbers, the NPS is now better able to hire more rangers, fill out the authorized boundaries of many parks, enhance its ability to address the impacts of climate change on our national parks, and preserve America’s Everglades, Great Lakes, and other nationally-significant ecosystems.