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McMorris Rodgers with Seahawks at White House

Normally, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers wouldn't be all smiles at a gathering headed by President Obama at the White House — if she'd be there at all.

Not so today, where she stopped by for Obama's salute to the Super Bowl champs and tweeted out a photo, proving perhaps that winners draw a bipartisan crowd.

Idaho man faces at least 10 years in prison for shooting assault rifle at White House

An Idaho man is facing at least 10 years in prison after acknowledging that he shot an assault rifle at the White House two years ago, the AP reports. Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez pleaded guilty today to two of the 19 charges against him as a result of the shooting. No one was injured, but the shooting left a number of bullet marks on the executive mansion. President Barack Obama and his wife were in California at the time of the shooting, but other members of the first family were there that night.

Prosecutors previously said Ortega-Hernandez, 22, a resident of Idaho Falls, told acquaintances before the shooting that President Obama was the Antichrist and "the devil" and that he needed to kill him. But one of his lawyers, Robert Feitel, told the AP today that his client's statements were "loose talk" and that he never had any intention to hurt anybody. Click below for the full report from AP reporter Jessica Grasko in Washington, D.C.

Drug czar: We’re having ‘conversation’ on state’s pot laws

It's a small step, perhaps, but the nation's drug czar is reiterating President Obama's comments on having conversations between the federal government and states that have legalized marijuana like Washington has.

Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, was responding to petitions to the White House to legalize marijuana. The Obama White House has a place on its web site for people to file petitions, and, if they get at least 25,000 signatures, it promises a response.

There are three petitions regarding some form of legalization of marijuana, including two that would involve ways the federal government would not interfere with states that legalize the drug. (The third just calls for federal legalization). All have more than the 25,000 minimum.

In response, Kerlikowske says the nation in the middle of a serious conversation about marijuana and the Justice Department is "reviewing the legalization initiatives passed in Colorado and Washington."

He then inserts part of the transcript from an interview Obama gave Barbara Walters that bolsters that point, noting the federal government isn't going after individual users. For the complete response from Kerlikowske, go inside the blog.

British Invasion

President Barack Obama welcomes British Prime Minister David Cameron during an official arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington this morning. More here. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Question: Do you know much about England?

Angelina, Brad Visit White House

Actress Angelina Jolie seen in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Wednesday, during a meeting with President Barack Obama. Story on White House visit by Angelina & Brad Pitt here. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Question: Why is Angelina Jolie so popular? It can't be her work as Tomb Raider Lara Croft. Is it her beauty? Her marriage to Brad Pitt? What? And/Or: How much does it help presidents to be seen with popular entertainers and movie stars?

White House Garlicmobile To Spokane

Northside garlic lovers have a new reason to rejoice this holiday season: They, too, now have their own garlic paradise. Last week, Raci Erdem, owner of Post Falls’ White House Grill and the Oval Office, and south Spokane’s West Wing, opened a stationary food truck — The Garlic Mobile — on a busy stretch of North Division. In case you’re not familiar with Erdem, he specializes in Mediterranean cuisine with a heavy dose of garlic. It’s hard to miss the Garlic Mobile. For one thing, the banner is visible from blocks away. And then there’s the smell. Step out of your car, and one whiff will tell you that you’re in the right place/Kristin Harrington, Inlander. More here. (Inlander photo: Mike McCall)

Question: How often do you eat at the White House/Oval Office? Do you recommend it to friends?

Idaho ‘Wacko’ Claims To Be Jesus

The bearded Idaho wacko accused of trying to kill President Obama with a long-range rifle round thinks he is the second coming of Jesus Christ. A bizarre video of Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, who was charged with attempted assassination on Thursday, shows the 21-year-old making a pitch to Oprah Winfrey to cast him on her show. “You see, Oprah, there is still so much more that God needs for me to express to the world. It’s not just a coincidence that I look like Jesus,” Ortega-Hernandez said, with his hair slicked and a crucifix around his neck, in the rambling, 20-minute video. “I am the modern day Jesus Christ that you all have been waiting for”/Aliyah Shahid, New York Daily News. More here. (AP file photo)

Question: What should be done with this guy?

Idahoan Jailed In White House Attack

Federal law enforcement authorities on Tuesday arrested a 21-year-old Idaho man suspected of shooting with a semiautomatic rifle at the White House on Friday night, as the Secret Service reported finding that at least one bullet had indeed struck the presidential residence. The Secret Service said that Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez was arrested at a hotel near Indiana, Pa., at approximately 12:35 p.m. by the Pennsylvania State Police, acting on information from the Secret Service’s agents in Pittsburgh. “Ortega-Hernandez is currently in the custody of the Pennsylvania State Police,” the statement said/Charlie Savage, Brian Knowlton & Mark Landler, New York Times. More here.

Question: More bad publicity for Idaho ahead?

White House nominates Verner for board post

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner will be nominated by President Obama to serve on the board of a Washington-based nonprofit group dedicated to helping make the nation's buildings safer and more efficient.

Verner, who would serve on the National Institute of Building Sciences Board of Directors, was among 27 intended appointments announced Thursday by the White House. The appointment requires confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

The institute seeks to improve building sciences and technologies by bringing together public- and private-sector representatives to discuss problems and advances. Six of the board's 21 members are White House appointees.

Oval Office: Tank Top? No Service …

On her Facebook wall, Kerri Thoreson publishes this photo of a readerboard sign at the Oval Office, which is owned by Raci Erdem, who owns the White House (which created a hubbub months ago here with a post about the president).

Question: Any idea why Raci doesn't want male customers wearing tank tops to dine?

Man executed despite White House pleas

By MICHAEL GRACZYK,Associated Press
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — Texas executed a Mexican citizen Thursday for the rape-slaying of a teenager after he and the White House pleaded in vain for a Supreme Court stay, saying he was denied help from his home country that could have helped him avoid the death penalty.

 In his last minutes, Humberto Leal (pictured) repeatedly said he was sorry and accepted responsibility.

"I have hurt a lot of people. … I take full blame for everything. I am sorry for what I did," he said in the death chamber.

"One more thing," he said as the drugs began taking effect. Then he shouted twice, "Viva Mexico!"

"Ready warden," he said. "Let's get this show on the road."

He grunted, snored several times and appeared to go to sleep, then stopped all breathing movement. The 38-year-old mechanic was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m., 10 minutes after the lethal drugs began flowing into his arms.

After his execution, relatives of Leal who had gathered in Guadalupe, Mexico, burned a T-shirt with an image of the American flag in protest. Leal's uncle Alberto Leal criticized the U.S. justice system and the Mexican government and said, "There is a God who makes us all pay."

Leal was sentenced to death for the 1994 murder of 16-year-old Adria Sauceda, whose brutalized nude body was found hours after he left a San Antonio street party with her. She was bludgeoned with a 30- to 40-pound chunk of asphalt.

Leal was just a toddler when he and his family moved to the U.S. from Monterrey, Mexico, but his citizenship became a key element of his attorneys' efforts to win a stay. They said police never told him following his arrest that he could seek legal assistance from the Mexican government under an international treaty.

Read the rest of the AP story by clicking the link below.

Obama has Seattle Storm over to White House

President Barack Obama, fulfilling the number one presidential duty of congratulator-in-chief, had the WNBA champion Seattle Storm over to the White House this afternoon  for some high fives and kind words.

He introduced the coach, joked around with the players and talked about how he sweated his stint as a coach for daughter Sasha's team. "Nothing gets me more stressed," he said.

(Not Afghanistan? Not Libya? Not the economy? Wow, those kids must be playing in a tough league.)

Joining the gathering were some other Washington state folks who hang out in the other Washington, former Governor/current Commerce Secretary/future Ambassador Gary Locke, Deputy HUD Secretary Ron Simms and Sen. Patty Murray. The Storm didn't make the trip just to have their picture taken in the Rose Garden; they held a basketball clinic for some inner city kids in D.C.

The White House was kind enough to send out a full transcript of the event. You can read it inside the blog.

No Decision On Bin Laden Body Fotos

The White House says it has made no decision on whether to release photographic proof that Osama bin Laden is dead. John Brennan, President Barack Obama's counterterrorism adviser, says the administration will do everything it can to make sure no one can deny U.S. claims that the al-Qaida leader was killed during a firefight with U.S. forces in Pakistan. But Brennan says still to be determined is whether to release a photo of bin Laden's dead body. Brennan says one concern is whether doing so could potentially jeopardize similar operations and intelligence sources in the future/Associated Press.

Question: Should the White House release photos of Osama bin Laden's body?

Spokane gets mention on White House blog of Sims

Before he became a honcho in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ron Sims was King County executive for three terms and was on the county council before that. So it's sometimes easy for folks to forget that he has Spokane roots.

Sims, however, does not. As the White House blog marks Black History Month with stories of African Americans "contributing to President Obama's goals for winning the future," his is one of the biographies posted.

And it starts with Sims saying that all people are shaped by where they grew up and "I grew up in Spokane, Washington, which is in the eastern part of the state, and had the opportunity to attend what is now known as Central Washington University.  My parents were engaged in the community, and in the weight of things, I am James and Lydia Sims’ son through and through."

Gregoire at Hu’s dinner

At the risk of sounding like an old Abbott and Costello routine, Hu's coming to dinner at the White House, and Gov. Chris Gregoire is invited too.

Who's coming to dinner? Hu's the president of China.  I don't know who's the president of China but who's coming to dinner? Yes, Hu's president of China and he's coming to dinner. 

OK, so it's been done before, and better. So without further foolishness, Chinese President Hu Jintao is attending a state dinner at the White House Wednesday night.  Washington's status as a major exporting state, and the fact that China is one of our biggest overseas markets, and the fact that Gregoire was in China a few months ago on a trade mission may all have combined to get the governor an invitation to dinner.

Also on the list: Former Gov. and now Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and his wife Mona; actor Jackie Chan, musician Yo Yo Ma; Barbara Streisand and James Brolin; Microsoft honcho Steve Ballmer; skater Michelle Kwan.

No word yet on who Gregoire gets to sit next to, the governor's office said.

White House Treats Baker Family

You probably met some pretty adorable ghosts and goblins on Halloween but one North Idaho family got the rare opportunity to trick or treat at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. 10-year-old Vernon Pawlik, the step-grandson of WWII Medal of Honor recipient Vernon Baker, was invited to the White House’s annual Halloween party as sort of an apology for a gaffe early this summer. Pawlik was in Washington, DC with his mom and grandmother when his Vernon Baker was buried at Arlington Cemetery. During a visit to the White House after the ceremony they were turned away from a tour because Pawlik was not dress appropriately/Kalae Chock, KXLY. More here.

Question: Do you agree with me that this is a nice gesture to make up for the White House gaffe that occurred earlier this fall when Vernon Baker’s family visited?

White House Invites Hero’s Family Back

Item: No trick … Bakers in for a treat: Family of World War II hero to spend Halloween at White House/Brian Walker, Coeur d’Alene Press

More Info: “The president and first lady are inviting some military families - including the Bakers - to go trick-or-treating here at the White House and then attend a Halloween party,” said Adam Abrams, White House spokesman. “While the Bakers are here in Washington, we look forward giving them a West Wing tour.” Baker’s widow, Heidy, her daughter, Alexandra Pawlik, and grandson Vernon Pawlik, 10, all of St. Maries, were denied entry to the White House last month because the boy was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, which happened to have a photo of the war hero.

Question: Do you consider this invitation to be a good resolution to the recent flap in which the Bakers were denied access to the West Wing?

Rahm Emanuel Leaving White House

President Barack Obama and Chief of Staff  Rahm  Emanuel  walk to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington for a short flight to Andrews Air Force Base as they travel to Chicago. Obama has made  official what has been clear for days:  Rahm  Emanuel, the relentless enforcer of his agenda as White House chief of staff, is resigning to run for mayor of Chicago. Story here. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Question: In his cartoon today, conservative Michael Ramirez compares this move by Rahm Emanuel as someone bailing out of a plane about to crash. How do you view it?

AIB: Michelle O Passes Dress Code?

AlmostInnocentBystander: Dress code? Anyone else ever see Michelle O claw her way off Airforce One looking like something the cat coughed up? I don’t care what Vanity Fair says, I’ve seen the First Lady looking more like a Walmart nightmare than a fashionista. Could we kick her out of the WH until some issues her appropriate clothing?

Question: Do you consider Michelle Obama to be fashionable?

White House Invites Baker Family Back

The White House hopes to make amends to the family of Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Vernon Baker after they were turned away from a West Wing tour because of dress code issues. … “We would have loved to have hosted 10-year-old Vernon and his family at the White House and we have reached out to the Baker family and Lt. Norris to communicate our deep regret and invite them back to the White House,” spokesman Adam Abrams said. “This family, as well as Lt. Norris, have given so much to our nation and they have our sincerest appreciation and our apologies for this misunderstanding”/Kevin Graman, SR. More here.

  • Cutline: In this July 31 file SR file photo, Heidy Baker, center, wife of Vernon Baker, walks back to the church after military honors at an adjacent field, escorted by Capt. David Darney, left, and Tom Norris. (SR file photo: Jesse Tinsley)

Question: Are you happy with this outcome?

Tommy Norris: ‘Make An Exception’

Moments later, after (medal of honor winner Tommy) Norris, pictured, gave up his place in the tour to the Baker family’s driver, who had clearance, Baker’s grandson, Vernon Pawlik, 10, was denied entry because he was wearing shorts and a T-Shirt bearing his grandfather’s image. Also on the tour were Vernon Baker’s widow, Heidy and her daughter Alexandra. At that point the family gave up and left the White House, Norris said. “You would think there would be someone there to stand up and say, ‘I’m a supervisor and we can make an exception” for a living Medal of Honor recipient and the grandson of another. Norris said that little Vernon was looking forward to the tour and the chance to meet President Obama. He even bought a copy of Obama’s book, in case he got a chance to get the president’s signature/Kevin Graman, SR. More here.

Question: How do you think the White House will resolve this mess?

Minnick Demands White House Apology

Huckleberries Online has just received this statement from Congressman Walt Minnick’s office re: the news that the White House refused to provide a tour for the family of late World War II hero Vernon Baker: “Walt is very upset about this. Vernon Baker was one of our nation’s greatest heroes and it is wrong that his family was denied access to the White House. Walt has asked the White House to apologize to Vernon Baker’s family.”

White House Denies Hero’s Family Tour

On Friday, the family of Vernon Baker — who was the only living black WWII veteran to receive the Medal of Honor — laid their beloved husband, father and grandfather to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. The following day they were denied a tour of the White House, an experience Mr. Baker’s widow, Heidy, described as “ridiculous” and “hurtful.” The reason, according to Mrs. Baker, was because her 10-year-old grandson, Vernon Pawlik, was not appropriately dressed. That morning, Mrs. Baker said her grandson chose to honor his late grandfather by wearing a new white t-shirt with the national war hero’s photograph, signature and the words, “Lt. Vernon J. Baker n Medal of Honor.” That t-shirt proved enough for Vernon to be denied access by a member of the White House staff/Chris D’Angelo, St. Maries Gazette-Record. More here. (Related: Baker’s roof leaks no more)

  • Cutline (& photo from Chris D’Angelo, St. Maries Gazette-Record): Vernon Baker’s widow, Heidy, stands with her daughter, Alexandra Pawlik, and grandson, Vernon Pawlik, in front of the family house in the Benewah Valley.

Question: Are you kidding me?

St. Patrick’s Day massacre of White House shamrocks!

Shocking news from Washinton:

I’ve always wondered what happens to the shamrock that the Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen will present to President Barack Obama at the White House today.
According to a report in CNN today, it goes straight to the crusher.
Uhuh. That little bowl of shamrock, the “enduring symbol” of the relationship between Ireland and the U.S. is destroyed after making the long trip from Ireland.
CNN says White House security protocol dictates that any “food, drink or plant presented to the president be ‘handled pursuant to Secret Service policy’.”
As CNN points out that’s “Secret Service-speak for destroyed.”
There’s no word as to what the Obamas will do with the crystal bowls. Full story.

Do you think the White House should spare the shamrocks? And what will the Obamas do with the crystal bowls?

World Aids Day commemorated at White House…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

November 30, 2009
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

A World AIDS Day ribbon is seen on the North Portico of the White House in Washington, Monday. World AIDS Day is Dec. 1, 2009. Is this the first time such an open display has been seen at the White House before? I truly do not know.


Party Crashers

“Michaele and Tareq Salahi like a good party, an attorney who knows them said Thursday, and maybe that’s why the couple from Virginia’s horse country didn’t look out of place at the White House state dinner for the Indian prime minister.

They were all smiles as they rubbed shoulders with Vice President Joe Biden, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty and CBS News anchor Katie Couric.

No one suspected the Salahis were a couple of brazen party crashers — and wannabe reality TV stars.”

Have you ever crashed a party? Ever wanted to?

Today’s fun video: Why Harrison will pass on Obama invite

Pittsbugh Steelers linebacker James Harrison RSVPs with a resounding “Nope” to an invitation from President Obama to come to the White House with the other members of the team. His reason…because Obama would have invited the Arizona Cardinals if they had won the Super Bowl.

Duh? No duh?

So what do you think? is Harrison’s logic correct but his decision wrong or vice versa? Click on comment to offer yours

For The Daily Show’s take on Harrison’s logic, go inside the blog.

Today’s video: Tea’d off?

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…

President’s Park

“As I stood in the foyer and let my eyes wander down the corridors, it was impossible to forget the history that had been made there—John and Bobby Kennedy huddling over the Cuban missile crisis… Lincoln alone, pacing the halls and shouldering the weight of a nation.” - President Barack Obama discussing his impression of The White House.

Today is a big day for America, a big day for the world, and yes - even a big day for National Parks.  For today, President-elect Obama becomes President Obama and while every angle of the story, the events and the significance of which, will be covered, DTE finds pleasure in pointing out that his new residence, though better known as 1600 Pennsylvania Ave or the White House, is actually a National Park - President’s Park. 

It’s often not thought of as a National Park, but President’s Park, encompassing the White House, a visitor center, Lafayette Park, and The Ellipse is taken care of by The National Park’s Service, and though many who visit aren’t there for the National Park aspect of it - the beauty of the landscaping never fails to become a vocal point of one’s trip.  Here’s an interesting tidbit; when John Adams was president he planted a magnolia tree that still stands, it’s nearly 200 years old.

So today, as President Barack Obama raises his hand, and optimism and hope flood the world, take a minute to admire the beauty of the park and to praise the National Park service for its tireless dedication to preservation.

For an interesting take on President’s Park and a brief history, click HERE for an article titled, “An American Home.”  And to see photos from The National Parks Conservation Association - click HERE. 


RFK Jr. for EPA?

Photobucket Everybody wants to know: Who will Obama pick for his administration? For head of the Environmental Protection Agency, DTE would recommend Robert Kennedy Jr. Speaking about Obama yesterday, Kennedy said “His disposition is very much like my uncle,” referencing President John Kennedy, in the Huffington Post. “The intellectual passion and the coolness and the dry humor. And I think his obsession and his preoccupation with justice, and including all of the different members of our society — he just understands that we have to go forward as a community… The extraordinary demonstrations on election night and through this morning, with young people, we didn’t even see that magnitude of demonstration in 1960 when my uncle was elected.” Kennedy, head of the Riverkeeper Alliance and author of “Crimes Against Nature,” said he was just as excited for the complete overhaul of the environmental agenda Obama has planned. “I think that Barack Obama understands that energy must be the centerpiece for his administration…and energy is intertwined with all other issues.”