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National monument tally increases under Obama

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

Here's a list of top-choice areas for President Obama to consider designating as national monuments, including the Alpine Lakes region of Washington, Idaho's Boulder-White Clouds, Montana's Rocky Mountain Front, and several classic areas in Utah.

Today’s video: Seahawks at White House


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.

Seahawks get White House invite


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.

Obama to tour mudslide April 22

(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.

Today’s fun video: Obama between 2 ferns

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.

Click here to see the 6 minute Funny or Die video.

Obama will visit Seattle next month

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.

Sunday spin: The American people want…what?

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…

Are we playing chicken here?

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?



McMorris Rodgers got to answer Obama

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.

Brinksmanship to prevent government shutdown…

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.


White House Owner Meant No Harm

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)

Obama Drops Defense Of DOMA

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.

Another day in paradise…

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.


Today’s fun video: SNL spoofs Emmanuel

Saturday Night Live opened this weekend with a shot at Rahm Emmanuel’s departure from the Obama Administration last week

Glenn Beck inspired alleged grenade maker

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.

Past coverage:

July 6: Illegal grenade manufacturing uncovered in Spirit Lake

Assessing President Obama…

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.


Itron could use more visits with Obama

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.

This Biden video may not be suitable for children

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.

Sitting in a kettle…

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.


The alternatives are???

Good morning, Netizens…

We already have had our discussions, such as they are, about President Obama having won the Pulitzer Prize for Peace, so when cartoonist David Horsey put that issue squarely in his sights this morning, I simply grinned to myself, muttering something thickly beneath my breath and decided to run with what I am dealt.

According to David Horsey, President Obama’s win of the Pulitzer Prize is all about expectations. When you put it on that set of terms, suddenly all the Republican hissing and throwing of fits of verbal pandemonium somehow seems fitting, and their expectations of President Obama are that he will dismally fail in his lofty goals, that he will fall on his backside with as little grace as humanly possible or that, at best, the American people will unceremoniously tire of his endless messages of hope for the future and vote him out of office. Perhaps if the Right Wing have their way, Americans will rise from their nearly-hypnotic obsession with Obama and elect Sarah Palin the next President of the United States.

All I can say for the Republican Right Wing is that Ex-President George Bush never won a prize for hope nor expectations. Unless Sarah Palin changes herself dramatically, she would never win, either. Lord knows, I am already frightened enough of the potentials for damage that Sarah Palin could bring to the White House. Idiocy, especially when done with arrogance, is its own worst punishment.

So if President Obama goes down in the annals of history as a Peacemaker, the harbinger of World Tranquility and all those other glowing terms the Nobel Prize Committee laid at President Obama’s feet, ours will be a better world in which to live.


President Obama wins the Peace Prize…

Good morning, Netizens…

AP news wire [Oslo, Norway]

In this AP photograph, President Barack Obama addresses the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Are you sitting down? It might be a good thing if you are because President Barack Obama has won the Nobel Prize for Peace.

According to the Associated Press, President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said, citing his outreach to the Muslim world and attempts to curb nuclear proliferation.

President Theodore Roosevelt won the award in 1906 and President Woodrow Wilson won in 1919, thus making President Obama the third sitting President in history to win this prestigious prize.

In his 1895 will, Alfred Nobel stipulated that the peace prize should go “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses.”

Has Obama complied with the wishes of Alfred Nobel? That’s a good topic to discuss this morning.


President Obama to appear on Letterman…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

President Obama will appear on the David Letterman Show September 21, next Monday.  This will be the first appearance of a sitting President on the late-night talk show.

Given David Letterman’s ascerbic wit and often dry humor, what questions do you think he will ask Obama?


Whose pants on fire?

Didn’t take long for the left and the right to grab onto a two-word outburst during President Obama’s speech Wednesday night.

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., called the White House to apologize for shouting “You lie,” when Obama was talking about health care and illegal immigrants. But some right wing blogs are defending his outburst, saying dissent is as acceptable in a presidential speech as standing and clapping. Operation Rescue and some other groups also are using the “L” word in their press releases Thursday morning.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, meanwhile, had a fund-raising appeal out first thing Thursday morning, proclaiming that heckling the president is unacceptable and asking donors’ help in raising $100,000 in 48 hours to show Wilson “that we will not stand for our president being called a liar in front of the nation.”

Disrespect has been the hallmark of the summer, the DCCC contends: “But disrespecting the President before the eyes of the nation and just at the moment when President Obama was offering his solution to the greatest challenge of our time is truly an outrage.”

OK, so Wilson’s outburst was not a classy thing to do. One should expect better of a congressman, although with the current low regard the nation has for members of Congress, that may be debatable.

But is a two-word outburst during a high-ranking politician’s talk acceptable free speech?

A court case based in Spokane would suggest that it is.

Go inside the blog to read more.

Remarks By The President Honoring 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson

The President of the United States, Barack Obama, welcomed current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson on Wednesday. Here are a few of his remarks regarding Johnson and NASCAR.

The next generation expresses an opinion?

Good morning, Netizens…

This picture is rather obscure as to its author or other information, although there is a copyright showing EPA as its owner. I seriously doubt if the Environmental Protection Agency had anything to do with Malia Obama’s political dress code, but I though enough of the picture to add it today’s long list of things to do.

Do you remember the 60’s? Did you ever wear or carry a peace symbol in public? Would you wear or carry a Peace Symbol today? 

It feels interesting, even somewhat difficult watching the next generation of kids as they pick up and address the issue of nuclear disarmament, especially when her father, President Obama, has been negotiating with Vladmir Putin to reduce nuclear stockpiles in both Russia and the United States.

Although I cannot help but wonder what her parents had to say about her wearing a shirt bearing the Peace Symbol at this time in history, kudos to Malia Obama for making a youthful political statement.


Today’s video: Best press conference exhange?

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.

About Obama’s picks

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.

Hail to the Chief

Barak Obama will officially become the President of the United States on January 20, 2009.  It is probably the first inauguration in my lifetime that I have been keenly interested in and excited about.  It’s like Christmas, New Years, wedding days, and birthdays all rolled into one.  It is a phenomenally historical event.  All this mainly because he is black.  I write that with a little ill-ease.  Is it racist to think this is a special occasion because of the color of one’s skin?  At any rate, it is an awesome time.  It is always hoped that the United States is, well, united, in its diversity, in its people, in its two parties.  We are entering a time of great opportunity for change.  As in inaugurations in the past, we are always stepping forward on new ground, a blank page before us to right wrongs, and set lofty goals, and go onward to the future with dreams, hopes, prayers, wishes.  Mr. Obama speaks of change with a positive force.  And change is what we desperately crave.  Now is the time to open the door to the future and leave past what is past.  May this presidency fulfill those dreams and aspirations that every single president has had before him – may this presidency be a resounding leap to a positive future.  May all the best of all the presidencies behind him, be the support and springboard for a future of opportunity and excellence.  Hail to the Chief, President Barak Obama, and God bless the United States of America.