Archives for August 2007
If you find yourself in the Tri-Cities area this evening, check out McCranium for the local Drinking Liberally. Otherwise, check out the Drinking Liberally web site for dates and times for a chapter near you.
State House Speaker Frank Chopp will be stopping by tonight. Let’s see if we can get him so ripping drunk that he publicly comes out in support of a state income tax.
I’ll be filling in for Dave Ross tomorrow morning from 9AM to Noon on News/Talk 710-KIRO. Darcy Burner will be my guest during the 10AM hour.
Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas Zúniga will also be briefly calling in to talk about Yearly Kos, and the importance of supporting netroots candidates (you know… like Darcy.)
In the face of a housing market going down the crapper, and a looming credit crunch threatening to take the markets and the broader economy with it, the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee voted unanimously today to keep interest rates unchanged, and continue to focus on inflation:
“Although the downside risks to growth have increased somewhat, the FOMC’s predominant policy concern remains the risk that inflation will fail to moderate as expected,”
I’m no economist, but really… fuck inflation.
A little inflation can actually be a good thing, especially to people who owe money on things like mortgages, cars, credit cards, school loans, etc… you know, most Americans. And a little inflation would actually be a very good thing for the US Treasury, issuer of nearly $9,000,000,000,000 in public debt (almost $30,000 of debt for every man, woman and child in the U.S.)
In fact, the people who benefit most from the Fed’s decades long focus on maintaining record low inflation are the people who hold most of the debt. Wealthy and older Americans. (And I suppose, the Chinese government.) The Fed’s inflation policy is obsessively narrow at best, and intergenerational warfare at the worst.
So fuck inflation. A few quarters of 4% to 6% inflation isn’t going to kill anybody. And if a temporary cut in interest rates revives the housing market a bit and keeps a few hundred thousand families out of foreclosure, it would be well worth it.
Apparently, anything made by McDonald’s tastes better:
Even carrots, milk and apple juice tasted better to the kids when they were wrapped in the familiar packaging of the Golden Arches.
The study had youngsters sample identical McDonald’s foods in name-brand and unmarked wrappers. The unmarked foods always lost the taste test. […] Study author Dr. Tom Robinson said the kids’ perception of taste was “physically altered by the branding.”
Hmm. I guess that must explain this…
*Sometimes people say, Carl, they say, why don’t you ever call bullshit on Democrats? And the truth is that I like what the party does. But seriously, what the hell were the Democrats who voted for the FISA law thinking? Not that the Republicans who voted for it get a free pass. Bullshit all around.
* But don’t think it’s all Democrats this week. Victor Davis Hanson is afraid of Muslims.
* And Rick Perlstein reminds us that the bridge collapse in Minnesota is a direct result of a decades long campaign of Republican Bullshit.
* Locally, people spend too much time reading the tea leaves of the New York Times Op-Ed page. Geez.
* Finally, Eric Earling is trying to concern troll Darcy Burner.
Hopefully next week back to full length, this is an open thread.
We’ve been anticipating major programming changes any day, so when 710-KIRO management called an all-staff meeting for today at noon, everybody pretty much expected the other shoe to drop. Starting tomorrow the Dori and Ron & Don shows each slide an hour earlier, with a new long format news show hosted by Tony Miner moving into the 6-7PM slot. Ron Reagan and New York Vinnie are gone, with a yet to be announced new show coming soon in the 7-10PM slot. Frank Shiers will host from 10PM to 1AM, and while I’m sure he doesn’t mind losing that dreaded fourth hour, I’m pretty damn sure he would have preferred trimming the last hour rather than the first.
I can’t comment on the changes from a programming perspective (the general reaction seemed to be favorable,) but I can tell you that Ron Reagan will be missed around the office. I’ve only had the opportunity to chat with him a couple of times, but Ron is uniformly thought of as a “really nice guy” in an industry where niceness is nowhere near a prerequisite for success. Likewise, I will personally miss Vinnie, who I’ve gotten to know a bit from my occasional fill-ins on weeknights. I wish both Ron and Vinnie the very best.
As for me, I’m still here. The Orb and my other righty critics will be disappointed to learn that these programming changes impact weekdays only; my 7-10PM weekend show remains untouched. I intend to try to make the most out the tremendous opportunity that I have.
*Seattle Port Commissioner: There’s a battle going on between Jack Block Jr. and Gael Tarleton. Either one would be better than Bob Edwards.
*Matt Manweller is a loon.
*Liberal bloggers are rightfully pissed after Congress signed off on Bush’s FISA bill. The House Democrats supporting the bill are a who’s who of Blue Dogs and conservative Democrats. Who also voted yes? Rep. Dave Reichert. Darcy Burner would have voted no. Replace Reichert with a strong Democrat, and we’re that much closer to not being held hostage by conservative Democrats.
*If you like basketball, go see the Seattle Storm. They’re our WNBA team. The tickets are cheaper, and the game is better (more passing, higher percentage shooting). There isn’t the ridiculous circus-like atmosphere either. No idiot mascot with his t-shirt gun. Just basketball.
OOPS! CORRECTION! Turns our that most NBA teams have a higher shooting percentage than the Storm, who lead the WNBA in team shooting percentage. But, still, I did like the pace of the game MUCH more on the women’s side than the men’s.
It is editorial endorsement season, and a loud round of cheers was reportedly heard the other day from the pro parks levy folks at Yes For Our Parks, when news broke that they had lost the endorsement from our friend Stefan over at (un)SoundPolitics. (u)SP is kinda the Chicago Cubs of local politics: perennial losers whose endorsement is considered the kiss of death by those who confuse cause with effect. This preeminent local righty blog is more of a looking glass than a window into mainstream political thought — a mirror image of public opinion that tends to reflect the proprietors’ own fantastical take on both policy and the polis.
Take the reliably anti-republican/pro-Republican Stefan, and his curious logic for rejecting the levies:
I like parks too, and am willing to pay a reasonable amount to support them. But the financing mechanism is flawed and the only chance of changing that is rejecting the levy.
The “financing mechanism”…? You mean going before voters for a special levy vote, rather than funding park maintenance and acquisition through the general fund? But isn’t this nickel-and-nickel approach exactly the kind of “direct democracy” for which Stefan and his cohorts routinely argue in their reflexive support for Tim Eyman and his anti-tax/anti-government initiatives?
When Eyman foisted I-747 on voters, with its arbitrary one-percent cap on growth in property tax revenues from existing construction — a rate that doesn’t even account for inflation let alone growth in demand for public services — he argued that local governments could always go directly to voters for special levies and lid lifts. Indeed, he argues that government should always go directly to voters to approve tax and fee increases. And by starving the general fund of adequate revenue growth, he got exactly what he wanted.
Local governments now routinely go to voters with special levies to fund popular and essential public services like parks, libraries and EMS, and while such dedicated levies may make for bad tax policy, elected officials really don’t have any other choice. Over 70-percent of King County’s general fund goes to the criminal justice system, so if Stefan is going to criticize the parks’ “financing mechanism,” he might want to offer up an alternative.
Perhaps he can find one through the looking glass.
I just finished reading Overkill, Radley Balko’s white paper from 2006 on the rise in SWAT-style policing. From the 1960s until now, paramilitary police units have gone from being rarely used specialty forces, only called when lives were in immediate danger, to being a routine way of serving drug warrants and a number of other situations with a non-violent offender. Balko has been studying this trend for years at the CATO Institute and is now a senior editor at Reason Magazine. I’ve been following his work for a long time, and I think he’s getting at the heart of a very problematic trend in this country, one that started with the drug war and is being continued with the war or terror. We’ve allowed greater militarization within our civil society because we’re at “war”.
Balko chronicles numerous instances of innocent people having their homes invaded and being physically harmed solely because police either got the address wrong or were lied to by an informant. The recent case of Kathryn Johnston in Atlanta, the innocent 88-year-old woman who was shot by invading police officers (one of whom was later charged with murder), was one of the first incidents to actually gather some widespread attention. Even while SWAT teams are glorified on TV, some high-level reflection on their use is starting to occur.
At the CATO Institute website, an interactive map is set up to review hundres of botched raids nationwide. Two from this area were particularly maddening:
In March 1992, police in Everett, Washington storm the home of Robin Pratt on a no-knock warrant. They are looking for her husband, who would later be released when the allegations in the warrant turned out to be false.
Though police had a key to the apartment, they instead choose to throw a 50-pound battering ram through the apartment’s sliding-glass door. Glass shards land inches away from the couple’s six-year-old daughter and five-year-old niece. One officer encounters Robin Pratt on the way to her bedroom. Hearing other SWAT team members yell “Get down!” Pratt falls to her knees. She then raises her head briefly to say, “Please don’t hurt my children.” At that point, Deputy Anthony Aston fires his weapon, putting a bullet in her neck, killing her.
Officers next entered the bedroom, where Dep. Aston then put the tip of his MP-5 assault submachine gun against Larry Pratt’s head. When Pratt asked if he could move, another officer said that if he did, he’d have his head blown off.
Though a subsequent investigation by a civilian inquest jury found the shooting “unjustified,” the officer who shot and killed Pratt was never charged.
And amazingly, one of them happened while they were filming an episode of Cops:
In May 1992, police in King County, Washington conduct a no-knock raid with cameras from the television show Cops in tow.
Police break open the door of the Glover family and their four children. They put a gun to Floyd Glover’s head and order him to the floor. Theresa Glover is handcuffed at gunpoint. Despite being half-dressed, and with the cameras still rolling, police at first refuse to let her cover up. Other officers then storm the children’s bedroom, screaming, “Everyone on the floor!”
Police had targeted the wrong home.
Cops would later decide not to air the raid. The same police department had conducted two other “wrong door” raids in the previous year.
I don’t know the full history of how SWAT teams have been used in the Seattle area (I moved here in 1997), but I do know that compared to the rest of the country, we’ve had way fewer incidences than other major cities since the early 90s. Someone will have to fill me in on whether there was ever a public debate over their use or whether police officials just realized their ineffectiveness and stopped the practice. (Or do they still continue to do them in some places with more oversight?)
This topic also leads to a related discussion that plays a role in paramilitary drug war policing – on confidential informants. When people talk about the Stop Snitching movement, they often confuse the real issue, even the clueless rappers who go on TV to defend it. In many cases like the one of Kathryn Johnston, the raid is predicated upon the word of a confidential informant, a person the police relies on to give them information on where drugs are being sold. In Johnston’s case in Atlanta, it was discovered that the police bypassed using an actual informant and then tried to get a former informant to lie for them to say they did. But in many cases, individuals will become confidential informants in order to make money or to take down a rival. They can very easily entrap others and send them to prison. In this context, the Stop Snitching movement isn’t the clear cut moral issue some believe it to be. But the distinction is often lost in the outrage when eyewitnesses to real crimes stay silent.
It’s not a surprise that much of this paramilitary policing goes on in poor, minority neighborhoods around the country. Some of it has been supported by those without racial animosity, but out of a belief that by attacking the drug trade in these communities we’d be helping them. As should be clear to anyone, knocking down people’s doors at 3AM doesn’t help anyone in any neighborhood. The list of tragedies chronicled by Balko in his white paper is terrifying. When you send police to serve basic drug warrants, especially at night, you invite violent confrontations rather than what the original intent of these team were, to diffuse them.
Finishing up a nine day broadcasting binge, I’m still in free-form mode tonight on “The David Goldstein Show”, 7PM to 10PM on Newsradio 710-KIRO.
Seattle P-I political columnist Joel Connelly is scheduled to call in from Chicago during the 8PM hour, to give us the old guard, legacy media take on the events at the Yearly Kos convention, and I’ll be taking other YK reports as they come in. Other topics tonight include congressional Democrats caving on FISA, the well-greased global warming denial machine, and why millionaires just don’t feel rich anymore: “A few million doesn’t go as far as it used to.” Poor baby.
Tune in tonight (or listen to the live stream) and give me a call: 1-877-710-KIRO (5476).
A few days ago I’d heard from somebody in the Darcy Burner camp that Dave Reichert was preparing to introduce legislation this coming week, adding 26,000 acres along the Pratt River to the Alpine Wilderness Area. Sounds like a pretty good idea to me, but it also sounds pretty damn cynical considering Reichert’s poor record on environmental issues, and his lockstep support of President Bush’s anti-wilderness policies. I’d meant to post preemptively, but Reichert’s staff beat me to it, feeding the story to the Seattle P-I’s Joel Connelly.
The curmudgeonly Connelly was the perfect choice: a nature enthusiast and wilderness advocate who longs for the days when the Republican notion of doing the “right” thing spoke more to rectitude of judgment than ideological correctness, Connelly holds an almost messianic faith in the second coming of moderate bipartisanship. Connelly also has a history of rewarding even the most reprobate Republicans for small steps toward the middle, and Reichert’s folks guessed right that their outreach to him might generate a little positive press. Which makes my failure to preempt Reichert’s announcement, putting it in its appropriate context, all the more disappointing.
For at the same time Reichert makes hay over his move to designate these 26,000 acres as protected wilderness, he refuses to oppose Bush administration rules that would open all two million acres of Washington’s remaining roadless national forest land — and 58.5 million acres nationwide — to road-building, logging, mining and other commercial development.
Rep. Jay Inslee and Sen. Maria Cantwell have introduced bipartisan legislation that would do exactly that, reinstating by law the Clinton-era “roadless rule” that the Bush administration summarily revoked. The House version of the National Forest Roadless Area Conservation Act has already secured 140 cosponsors from both sides of the aisle. But noticeably absent from this list of supporters is the suddenly “green” Dave Reichert.
Connelly kvelled that Reichert “took a bold step to embrace a Republican tradition that has lately been sinking out of sight.” Oy. So after rinsing the vomit out of my mouth, I asked Burner for comment. In response, the campaign sent the following statement:
“My family and I live in modest home outside of Carnation because we enjoy being close to the land. I grew up in rural areas, so a connection to open country is something I feel deep in my bones. Growing up, my dad spent several summers as a park ranger at Mt. Rainier National Park. We lived near the park while he worked to protect those areas so visitors from across the state could come and appreciate the great outdoors.
“I remain committed to conservation and to protecting our environment. Our pristine open spaces are disappearing before our eyes as the Bush administration guts the strong wilderness conservation protections established during the Clinton years. If we do not act now to reverse this situation, much of our wilderness will be lost forever.
“That is why I strongly support HR 2516, Senator Maria Cantwell’s and Rep. Jay Inslee’s Roadless Area Protection Act. Fifty-nine million acres of wilderness across the country are at risk – including 2 million acres in Washington State (accounting for more than a fifth of our National Forests here) – because of rule changes imposed by the Bush administration that amount to a giveaway of public lands to loggers, oil companies and the mining industry. Unfortunately, these are changes that Congressman Reichert seems to support, since he is notably absent as one of the 144 co-sponsors – including a number of Republicans – of this important legislation.
“Now I hear that Congressman Reichert, who is not even sure yet that global warming exists, intends to begin portraying himself as going ‘green.’ He is telling the press that he would like to consider designating 26,000 acres of federal land of the Pratt River Valley a wilderness area. Many in the environmental community would like to see this area conserved and so would I. So I applaud Congressman Reichert for taking a small step in the direction of wilderness conservation.
“But I would also hope that he would join so many of his colleagues in co-sponsoring the bipartisan Cantwell-Inslee legislation. Otherwise, his willingness to consider protecting one small area while threatening 2 million acres elsewhere in the state is the equivalent of focusing on a tree while losing sight of the fact that the forest is being chopped down around you.
“Moreover, I believe strongly that we can not forget to take care of what we already have. Congress must adequately fund the Parks Service so the horrible damage the winter storms did to Mt Rainier National Park can be put on a fast track for repair and restoration. When I am elected, the voters of the 8th District can be sure that conserving our untouched public lands, not just in one location but all across the state, will be one of my top priorities. I will move quickly to ensure that the environmental health of our entire region is preserved and enhanced.”
So before other reporters, columnists and editorialists gush over a minority congressman’s attempt to immunize himself on environmental issues by announcing plans to protect 26,000 acres (a bill he is powerless to push through on his own,) I hope they ask Reichert the hard question of whether he will or will not join Inslee and Cantwell in opposing President Bush, and reinstating roadless rules that would protect 58.5 million acres of pristine forest from commercial development.
Joel Connelly will be my guest tonight in the 8PM hour on “The David Goldstein Show.”
Tonight on “The David Goldstein Show”, 7PM to 10PM on Newsradio 710-KIRO:
It’s Yearly Kos-apalooza tonight, with a host of hacks, flaks and would be elected officials calling in from the big progressive blogger convention in Chicago, including The Stranger’s Eli Sanders, blogger and Crosscut editor Dave Neiwert, WA-08 CD candidate Darcy Burner, Oregon US Senate candidate Steve Novick, Idaho US Senate candidate Larry LaRocco, blogger/author/activist David Sirota, blogger/radio host James Boyce, and more!
Nazis and KKK’ers all.
Tune in tonight (or listen to the live stream) and give me a call: 1-877-710-KIRO (5476).