by Lee, 06/30/2008, 11:59 PM

Earlier this morning, Postman wrote:

I was talking to a smart friend over the weekend who bemoaned the oh-so-careful approach Gov. Chris Gregoire is taking to governing. He’s a supporter. But he worries that out of fear of alienating someone, somewhere, Gregoire has traded activism for near-paralysis.

The topic of that post had nothing to do with drug policy, but with the deadline for having the State Department of Health establish the 60-day supply limits for medical marijuana patients coming up tomorrow, I find myself in the same boat as Postman’s unnamed friend – if not even more critical of the Governor.

As of my typing this, I still have no idea what the released limits will be. Earlier this year, it was revealed that preliminary numbers of 35 ounces and a 100 sq ft growing area caused the Governor to get more involved in the process and demand more feedback from law enforcement and medical professionals. Many patients and advocates within the medical marijuana community saw this as an attempt by the Governor to derail the process in support of the state’s law enforcement union, while the Governor’s dishonesty about why the process was derailed didn’t exactly convince people that she was acting in good faith.

At the follow-up meeting (which the DOH attempted to keep closed to the public, but failed), the two parties who the Governor claimed were underrepresented in the initial round of workshops were in attendance. The law enforcement officials again iterated that the decision should be left up the medical professionals, and the one medical professional who showed up said that 35 ounces might be too low of a limit for some patients who ingest it within food. Law enforcement officials also asserted that the limit shouldn’t be so high that criminals could hide behind it, but believing that someone with a small growing area in their basement could launch a massive criminal enterprise is more than a little absurd, considering that marijuana is already the most lucrative cash crop in the state of Washington.

The released limits tomorrow (if they’re even released) will go a long way towards showing whether or not Governor Gregoire is someone who can put politics and special interests aside and do what’s right for the citizens of this state.

Earlier this month, I visited a partially disabled medical marijuana patient in Tacoma who spent over a week in jail this winter. She was kept from receiving the special liquid meals she requires for nearly the entire time. In her mid-40s, she was a former nurse who told me she was staunchly anti-drug before discovering that marijuana worked best for her illnesses. She and her husband then became active in helping other registered patients learn how to grow for themselves.

Stories like that one are common. The list of other patients being hauled into court across the state has been growing. At Drinking Liberally and other events, I occasionally talk to people close to the Governor, and they rarely seem to understand that this is more than just a number. It could be the difference that causes someone to lose their house, their livelihood, or what’s left of their health, should they be sent to jail without adequate medical needs being met. Hopefully, the Governor herself doesn’t suffer from her own paralysis on this one.

by Will, 06/30/2008, 10:50 PM

This is what we’re stuck with:

Despite heavy criticism, Gen. Wesley Clark is standing by his statement this weekend that Sen. John MCain’s military experience doesn’t qualify him to be commander-in-chief.

“I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war,” Clark said of McCain on Sunday. “But he hasn’t held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded — that wasn’t a wartime squadron. He hasn’t been there and ordered the bombs to fall.”

That statement from Clark has come under withering criticism from McCain’s campaign and was rejected by Sen. Barack Obama, both of whom (along with the media) distorted Clark’s words by painting them as an attack on McCain’s military service.

Clark is a retired four star general, the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. If he can’t call bullshit on the lionization of Saint McCain, no one can.

Surrogates say the things candidates can’t say. That’s Clark’s job. For Obama to go out of his way to reinforce the “McCain has foreign policy experience” is political malpractice.

Obama should pick a vice president who will tell him not to do this again. That seems to be the most important criteria for VP selection at the moment.

by Goldy, 06/30/2008, 7:59 PM

Only four more hours to donate to Darcy Burner before the all important end of quarter deadline.  And while you’re at it, why not throw a little change to George Fearing running against the execrable Doc Hastings out in WA-04?

by Lee, 06/30/2008, 5:01 PM

The immigration issue can be complicated, but one part of it that should be simple is that it benefits us to have hard working immigrants come here and raise families.

A friend of mine just sent me a petition for Anuj Garg, a friend and co-worker of hers who’s close to facing deportation due to delays and understaffing in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) office. He owns a home here and has a three-month old son. You can sign a petition supporting him and his family here. Their story is probably just one of many right now, especially considering he works for a large company and even that hasn’t been enough to get his visa extended.

It’s really disheartening to see how we’ve gone from being a country that welcomed my great-grandparents off of boats in New York a century ago (some of whom were teenagers who spoke no English) to one that sends back hard-working people who’ve been here for years, hold good jobs, and own their own homes.

by Goldy, 06/30/2008, 2:21 PM

Kudos to Seattle Times reporter Emily Heffter for giving a little space to the well documented thesis that Rep. Dave Reichert has been manipulating his voting record to appear more moderate than he is:

Often, he votes with Republicans on procedural motions, then switches sides and votes with Democrats in the final roll call.

For example, on an energy bill last year, Reichert voted with his fellow Republicans several times — against Democratic motions to close the bill to amendments and bring it to a vote. But in the final vote, he sided with Democrats to pass the bill.

“How can you end up on both sides of the vote?” asked Sandeep Kaushik, Burner’s spokesman.

Kaushik says Reichert in fact is trying to manipulate his image to ensure his re-election. Reichert rarely casts the deciding vote when going against his party on an important issue, Kaushik says, and he joins the Democrats when they are going to win anyway.

Sure the refutation doesn’t come until more than halfway through Heffter’s 1200 word piece, and well away from the prime front page real estate on which the article starts, but no reporter has given more thought or space to exploring beneath the surface of Reichert’s actual voting record, despite the fact that his tactics are both common and, well, obvious. How common?

Reichert wouldn’t be the first to use that strategy, said Matt Barreto, a UW political-science professor.

“It is a common thing that you see a lot that allows a politician to portray themselves a moderate,” he said.

And how obvious? Well, listen to Reichert explain his voting record before a gathering of Republicans back in 2006 (courtesy of TVW’s new player widget):

“So when the leadership comes to me and says , Dave you have to vote over here because we want to protect you and keep this majority, I do it.”

That’s Dave Reichert, “conscience driven independent,” in his own damn words… words backed up by Dan Kirkdorffer’s meticulous fisking of Reichert’s voting record, but words which the media have for the most part ignored when addressing the issue of Reichert’s alleged political moderation.  Reichert explains “how things work” back in the other Washington, political science professors validate it and his own voting record demonstrates it.  And yet our local news media, desperately longing for that mythical creature known as the modern moderate Republican, have been complicit in presenting this pro-war, pro-Bush, anti-choice congressman as somehow a perfect fit for his suburban swing district.

Darcy Burner, on the other hand, has somehow been given the label of being too progressive for her district, though on what specific issues the gatekeepers of conventional wisdom never bother to tell us.  On the war?  You can read her Responsible Plan on ending the war for yourself, and see if it’s out of step with the voters in WA-08.  Too progressive on reproductive rights?  On FISA?  On the economy?

Heffter’s piece is a great first step toward setting the record straight on Reichert’s record, but we can’t rely on our local media to tell the whole story.  Darcy is going to have to do that herself, and it’s going to cost a lot of money.  That’s why she needs your help.

Today is the last day of the fundraising quarter, and heading into the homestretch, pundits and big donors are going to size up the competitiveness of the various races based on its outcome.  So please give today and help Darcy hit her end of quarter target.  That’s the only way we’re going to dispel the Reichert myth.

by Lee, 06/30/2008, 10:47 AM

This post is dedicated to the folks at Crosscut.

by Goldy, 06/30/2008, 9:55 AM

Stephen McDonald is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole, for allegedly burning a doormat at a Mount Vernon, WA motel. As the trial appeals judge snidely remarks in the transcript: “Prisoners now have two rights, the right to go to jail and the right to stay there until their term is up.”

Regardless of whether McDonald actually committed the crime (and McDonald effectively argues that he was railroaded), a sentence of life in prison without parole is ridiculous, immoral, and an unjustifiable expense of taxpayer dollars for a minor property crime, regardless of his prior record. But then “Three Strikes and You’re Out” is a popular string of rhetorical bullshit with both the political and media establishments, so good luck Mr. McDonald in finding a politician or journalist to champion your cause.

Noemie has much more at WashBlog.

by Will, 06/29/2008, 11:10 PM

Chuck Taylor of Crosscut:

When we launched Crosscut, my fantasy was to require full, real names of commenters. Our goal is to run a site where ideas were fair game but individuals are not, where civility would be imposed by the power of shame. We didn’t want this to turn into the island in Lord of the Flies or, worse, Slog.

Yeah, because who wants to be like SLOG, what with their huge traffic and what not?

I was once in the audience for one of those “New Media: What Does It All Mean?” things at the downtown library. Michael Hood asked the panel, “what are you doing to reach out to young readers?”

The guy from the Times was very funny: he admitted that anything the Times does to woo young folks comes off as “uncool.” Josh Feit mentioned that The Stranger does really well in this area. Chuck Taylor’s answer was, basically, “we don’t think we have to.”

I think that’s why Ted Van Dyk is Crosscut’s sex advice columnist…

by Goldy, 06/29/2008, 12:45 PM

The solemn defenders of public civility at the Seattle Times editorial board spank the WA Dems today, arguing that “Ethnic slurs have no place in political advertising in our state.”

I don’t really disagree, and had the Dems called Dino Rossi a wop or a dago or a greaseball or a guinea or a spaghetti nigger, well, that would have been offensive, and clearly out of bounds. But they didn’t. They merely soundtracked a web video with the theme song to The Sopranos—a critically acclaimed TV show—because the tune was catchy, energetic and a well-paced fit to the accompanying footage… and I can only assume, because they wanted to highlight the fact that the political thugs at the BIAW are about as close as we come to mobsters in this state, at least in attitude, short of the actual Colacurcio crime family and their consiglieri (and proud Italian Club of Seattle member) Albert Rosellini.

Oops! Did I cross a line there by suggesting that former Gov. Rosellini has known mob connections? Does that constitute an ethnic slur, despite the supporting evidence, simply because Rosellini is Italian? (Apparently yes, judging from the way our local media gingerly dances around Rosellini’s connections to the Colacurcios and their mob activities out of fear of offending Italian-Americans… or, perhaps, getting whacked.)

Indeed, the very same day the Dems released their video, Rossi gave a stump speech in which he directly compared Gov. Gregoire’s policies to that of Tony Soprano, by name, and yet the Times didn’t find that slur “sleazy” because, I guess, Gregoire is of Irish descent. So by the Times’ standards, it is acceptable public discourse to groundlessly accuse Rossi of being a whiskey swilling drunk, but not Gregoire, whereas mob related epithets are okay when launched at our Irish-American governor, but not Rossi, or even actual Italian-American mobsters like the Colacurcios.

No really… I want to get this stuff straight, because after 16 years out here I’m still trying to wrap my mind around West Coast etiquette, and I wouldn’t want to offend anyone to the point where I’m beaten to a pulp with a baseball bat. (Though if I were, no doubt the genteel folks at the Times would write an editorial cheering my attacker.)

Clearly, I just don’t get it. I don’t get why, when complaining about “sleaze,” the Times sees fit to devote an entire Sunday editorial to attacking the Dems’ Sopranos reference yet don’t see the need to even mention Rossi’s. And, I don’t get why the Times’ editors think it’s so sleazy to highlight Rossi’s cozy relationship with BIAW along with that organization’s actual positions on actual issues, while totally ignoring BIAW’s insane rants linking environmentalism to Hitler, and equating BIAW’s own suffering under DOE’s stormwater regulations with that of the millions of Jews exterminated in Nazi death camps.

The Anti-Defamation League complained just as vociferously as the Italian Club of Seattle, so where was the editorial decrying that outrage, Mr. Blethen? I guess I must have missed it.

Jesus Christ, this isn’t some tawdry little blog here. The editors at the Times have the most widely read op/ed page in the state at their disposal, and this is what they choose to write about this Sunday? Not our collapsing economy or the Bush administration’s warmongering with Iran or illegal Justice Department hiring practices? Not an honest explication of the Spokane gaming compact and how they and the rest of the media got the story entirely backwards? No, Jim Vesely and his crew determined that the most important issues facing Seattle’s citizenry today are the declining standards of a college football team, and a four-day-old manufactroversy over a measly web video for chrissakes, and the failure of a political hack to apologize in strong enough terms.

(See Kelly, this is why I urged you not to back down over what was never intended to be an ethnic slur… because no matter how sincerely expiatory your apology, those goddamn Rossi-loving bastards at the Times were never going to give you any credit. Pussy.)

Of course on the bright side, the R’s mock outrage has clearly backfired, leading to over 12,000 views of a video that would have been seen no more than a few hundred times if not for the controversy. And yes, this is a good thing for the Dems, because whatever you think of the choice of music, the content of the video itself is compelling (and totally accurate) on its own. Go see for yourself here. Or check out my genuinely (and intentionally) offensive ethnic remixes here and here.

And as a final middle finger in the face of Seattle’s morbidly polite society, here’s yet another remix, this time with a tune that in no way references either organized crime or Rossi’s half-Italian heritage, yet somehow manages to be entirely appropriate to the video’s protagonists… not to mention the editors at the Times. Enjoy.

by Darryl, 06/28/2008, 11:55 PM

Elway has just released their June poll for the Washington state gubernatorial race. The poll of 405 people shows Governor Christine Gregoire leading Dino Rossi 47% to 39%.

The 8% spread found by Elway is the largest of the three June polls in this race. An early June SurveyUSA poll found Gregoire leading by +3.5%, and an early June Rasmussen poll found Gregoire up by +7%.

As usual, I use a Monte Carlo analysis to estimate the probability that Gregoire would win if the election were held now. I simulated a million gubernatorial elections of 405 voters each, where each person had a 47% chance of voting for Gregoire, a 39% chance of voting for Rossi and a 14% chance of voting for neither.

Gregoire won 965,619 of the simulated elections and Rossi won 3,852 times. This suggests that Gregoire has something approaching a 96.9% chance of beating Rossi (if the election were held now). A statistician would simply point out that Gregoire’s lead in this poll is outside the margin of error.

Here is a plot showing the distribution of votes in the million elections:

Poll of Gregoire v. Rossi, June Elway

The area to the right of the red line are wins for Gregoire; those to the left are wins for Rossi.

This current poll makes the eighth consecutive poll in a row in which Gregoire has led Rossi. At this point in the election season, Gregoire holds a commanding lead over Rossi.

by Goldy, 06/28/2008, 11:42 PM

by Goldy, 06/28/2008, 10:07 AM

Um… are they drunk or something? Really…?

Cheers for a South King County woman who beat a convicted child molester with a baseball bat, underscoring the revulsion society feels toward those who hurt children.

But emotions take a back seat to the laws upholding a civil society. The woman faces assault charges. This is appropriate.

Yeah, because nothing upholds civil society more than an unprovoked vigilante beating.

A Pierce County woman welcomed a Level 3 sex offender to her neighborhood by wailing on him with an aluminum baseball bat, authorities said Wednesday.

Tammy Lee Gibson beat William Allen Baldwin badly enough Monday that he was taken to a hospital for treatment of a possibly broken arm, according to court documents.

[...] Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said the attack occurred shortly after deputies posted fliers in Gibson’s neighborhood announcing that Baldwin had moved there.

What exactly is civil about a society in which the editorial page of the largest and most influential newspaper in the state cheers on vigilante justice? And if Gibson had killed Baldwin (as she’s told the media she would like to do), would the Times cheer on his family after a retaliatory beating? Wouldn’t that appropriately underscore the society’s revulsion toward murder?

I know it’s difficult for the editors of the Times to keep two conflicting thoughts in their head at once, but they’re downright dangerous when they try to get them down on paper. I can understand being empathetic toward Gibson, even genuinely sympathetic… but to cheer her on in the lede of an editorial? That’s simply irresponsible, whatever muddle of self-contradictory justification follows.

However empowered it may make one feel, there is nothing to cheer about vigilante justice; it is a dangerous, dangerous path that can only lead to tragedy, and which can never be confined to one “revulsion” or another. One man’s sex offender is another man’s terrorist, and when left in the hands of the rabble (or the editorialists) rather than the courts, the definition of what constitutes a punishable crime quickly blurs.

UPDATE:
In the comment thread, Richard Pope points out the that the Times’ heroine has a longer criminal record than her victim.

by Goldy, 06/27/2008, 6:41 PM

During my time at KIRO I think I only had one extended conversation with conservative host Michael Medved, and surprisingly it was on a subject on which we both agreed, the animated children’s film Happy Feet. We both hated it.

Medved, who made his name as a movie reviewer, hated the film because of its preachy environmental message. He went on a bit about a lack of consensus on global warming, the film’s manipulative storyline and its many allegedly factual and scientific errors. I, who made my name as a purely political blogger and talker, hated the film because it had a sucky script. It was visually beautiful and all that, but it was godawful boring. It was a bad, forgettable, waste of a theater ticket and a bag of popcorn.

Well, my daughter and I just returned from an opening day matinée of Pixar’s Wall-E, and I’m afraid this instant classic is going to pose a tough dilemma for conservative critics like Medved, who are no doubt going to hate the film’s environmental, political and social message, but are going to have a tough time panning what is possibly the best feature length animated film ever.

Oh, it’s certainly not the funniest animated film ever made, or even the most entertaining; I can think of a couple of Pixar films that beat it in both categories. And while Pixar’s animation is of course stunning, the visuals are at times so bleak that it’s breathtaking beauty goes by unnoticed. Indeed, the very fact that it is animated at all often goes by unnoticed, an amazing feat for a film that features two anthropomorphized robots.

How perfect is this film? Perfect enough, I’m not ashamed to admit, that this 45-year-old cynic, sitting in a darkened theater on a Friday afternoon, had tears well up in his eyes at the sight of two robots just, well, holding hands.

Wall-E isn’t a mere cartoon, it is a work of art, a G-rated animated film that transcends the genre of G-rated animated films, and sets new standards for what is possible in the medium. It is a love story. It is a comedy. But it is also a morality tale that directly challenges the consumer culture that defines our nation, and the irresponsible environmental stewardship that threatens our planet.

Judged solely on its merits, and not its message, it is difficult to imagine anybody with a passion for cinema giving Wall-E a bad review. It will be interesting to see if critics like Medved are willing and able to rise to that daunting challenge.

by Lee, 06/27/2008, 3:30 PM

The deadline for turning in signatures for the Death with Dignity Initiative 1000 is next week. Supporters turned in the first batch of signatures yesterday. There will be a press conference on Wednesday, July 2 at 1PM when the remaining signatures are turned in.

by Goldy, 06/27/2008, 1:20 PM

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down another 100+ points again today at 11,346.51, just 759 points above where it stood the day President Bush took office.  That’s an annualized return of under one percent, but then it’s still better than Herbert Hoover, so who’s complaining?

by Goldy, 06/27/2008, 11:49 AM

Oh. My. God.

Here I am, genuinely trying to make amends with my many friends in Washington’s Italian-Tlingit-American Republican community, and I just inadvertently step in it. I am soooooo embarrassed!

Out of respect to Bruno Brian and the delicate sensibilities of Italian-Tlingit-American Republicans everywhere, I remixed the WA Dems’ “controversial” Rossi/BIAW web video to remove the allegedly offensive theme song from The Sopranos, and replace it with a beautiful melody that I found as haunting as Rossi must find the bitter memories of his narrow loss in the 2004 gubernatorial election… and his total ass-whooping in a court of law seven months later.

At first I was stunned by the negative reactions the new music generated in the comment thread, until a helpful reader emailed me to tell me that this captivating orchestral piece was actually the theme to The Godfather, a somewhat obscure film that apparently includes a subplot revolving around Italian mobsters or something. Who knew? (I’d always thought The Godfather was a prequel to The Deer Hunter, due to John Cazale’s brilliant recurring role in both films, but my recollection may have been blurred by age and cheap chianti.)

So in attempting to replace a vague musical reference to organized crime (certainly vaguer than Dino Rossi directly comparing Gov. Gregoire to Tony Soprano the very same day the video was released), I accidentally stumbled upon the one melody that most reliably evokes the popular image of Italian mobsters. Talk about irony. I mean, if the state Dems, regardless of ethnic sensitivities, had really intended to imply that BIAW is somewhat mob-like in the way that it launders money through multiple PACs and thuggishly inserts itself into political campaigns for the sole purpose of kneecapping their opponents, they would have chosen this exact tune. But they didn’t.

Yet I did, and for that I am truly, truly sorry. So please don’t view the original offensive video here. Or for that matter, here, here, or here. And whatever you do, don’t view my unfortunate remix here. (Or here.)

In fact I’m so sorry, that I’ve actually remixed the video once again, this time using a song that I’m confident in no way references Rossi’s Italian-Tlingit heritage. Indeed, in light of my obvious pop-culture deficiencies, and just to be on the safe side, I’ve chosen a mambo, a musical form of distinctly non-Italian, Afro-Caribbean origins, which I now offer to Dino, Bruno and the rest of you with my sincerest apologies. Enjoy:

by Goldy, 06/26/2008, 11:20 PM

I’ve done a good deal of soul searching over the past few hours.

In my zeal to get my message out, while dishing back to the other side as good as they dish to us, I admit that I sometimes say and write things that are insensitive, even hurtful. Teasing the executive director of the Republican Governors Association about his obvious drinking problem…? That showed a regrettable lack of compassion and maturity. Accusing a sitting state senator of fucking pigs…? Impolite, at the very least.

And after reading the many thoughtful and compelling comments in the threads on several of my recent posts, I now realize that I’ve committed yet another lamentable error in judgment.

When the state Dems released their recent web video highlighting the disturbing connection between Dino Rossi and his pals at the BIAW—an organization that equates stormwater regulations with Nazi death camps—I enthusiastically posted it here at HA. It was pointed, well paced, and featured a catchy tune; all in all a nicely produced piece of work. So when the Italian Club of Seattle issued a letter condemning its use of the theme song to The Sopranos as offensive and anti-Italian, I admit I reacted defensively.

I hadn’t recognized the music, and to be honest, had listened to so many Rossi stump speeches in which he dwelled on his Tlingit heritage that I’d almost forgotten he was Italian. I just figured the complaint was political posturing, so even when the state Dems edited their video, replacing the music with something less… something, I defiantly reposted the original here. And here. And here.

But rather than listening to my own sense of outrage, I should have listened to that of my Italian friends, whose food I adore, whose culture I admire and whose love of democracy is so strong that they’ve elected nearly sixty governments in the sixty-two years since the end of World War II. After all, it’s not a question of whether I find the music offensive, but whether my Italian-American neighbors do. So if some pale-skinned guy named Brian tells me the use of a dance tune from a British “acid house” band inherently implies a connection between Italian-Tlingit-Americans and organized crime, who am I to disagree?

And so as a mea culpa, and a personal apology to Italian-Tlingit-Americans everywhere—but especially those in the Republican Party—I have taken it upon myself to remix the video on my own, inserting a hauntingly beautiful yet oddly appropriate piece of music I stumbled upon that couldn’t be further stylistically from the theme song to The Sopranos. Enjoy:

by Goldy, 06/26/2008, 2:46 PM

It is curious to note that in all the press coverage of the Dems use of The Sopranos theme song in their Rossi/BIAW video, only Postman bothered to mention that Rossi himself routinely tries to paint Gov. Gregoire as a mobster, by directly referencing Tony Soprano his stump speech.

Huh. So, the TV news folks et al didn’t think this a relevant tidbit of information, I guess because the Dems’ choice of music is somehow a more unambiguous reference to Tony Soprano than an actual unambiguous reference to Tony Soprano? Are they shittin’ me?

And while we’re on the subject of ethnic slurs, when is the Italian Club of Seattle going to condemn KVI’s Kirby Wilbur for saying that Dino Rossi looks like a “crime mob boss” …?

Dino Rossi and Kirby Wilbur
Dino and Kirby (far right) during happier days

Actually, Dino looks nothing like a mob boss; he’s too, well, foppish. Kirby on the other hand, cuts a more, um, imposing figure—give him a scowl, a cigar and a Brooklyn accent, and he just might pass.

See, the thing about these Italian mobster stereotypes is that they’re actually based on reality, which I imagine is one of the things that made The Sopranos such a compelling show. I lived in an Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn, around the corner from the church where the funeral for John Gotti’s driver was held (after he was gunned down), and thanks to the local goombahs it was an incredibly safe place to live, you know… if you were white. A few blocks away it wasn’t an uncommon sight to see a parked car stripped to its bones overnight, but I once parked my mother’s convertible in front of my building for nearly a week without fear, because if you broke into the wrong car in my neighborhood, they’d hunt you down and kill you.

Are all Italian-Americans mobsters? No way. But in the mob-controlled neighborhoods of Brooklyn and South Philly with which I was familiar, most of the mobsters were definitely Italian, and they cultivated their own stereotypical look and feel in much the same way that my father and his Jewish psychiatrist friends tended to come off as Sigmund Freud impersonators.

Tony Soprano your stereotypical mob boss? You betcha. Kirby Wilbur a passable knockoff? Maybe. But Dino Rossi…? Not so much.

A song is just a song, but a picture’s worth a thousand words and all that, so trust me… nobody is ever going to confuse Dino Rossi for a Tony Soprano style mob boss.

by Lee, 06/26/2008, 11:56 AM

At the end of last week, after I wrote about the Democratic Congress’ spineless cave-in on the White House’s desired FISA legislation, our good friend Eric Earling made a flailing attempt at a point here:

Mark Halperin makes this observation about the FISA compromise today, supported by Barack Obama and 105 House Democrats (including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer):

Watch to see how liberal bloggers and the commentariat react.

Locally, Lee, aka Sound Politics commenter “thehim,” is not pleased at all.

Washington Democrats Brian Baird, Norm Dicks, and Adam Smith joined Doc Hastings, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and Dave Reichert in voting for the measure.

More proof the netroots does not represent the mainstream of American politics on the issues of the day.

Now someone who isn’t a complete idiot could probably figure out simply by looking at Congress’ approval ratings to know that what Congress is doing is not a good barometer of public opinion. And as I’ve been reading through Great American Hypocrites, the latest book from Glenn Greenwald, the process by which Eric ended up in this bubbling stew of idiocy is well documented.

When it comes to beliefs in limited government, Republicans in this country went from being true believers of constraining executive power (when Clinton was in the White House) to being unapologetic big government advocates now that Bush is there and we’re “fightin’ the terra’ists.” As Greenwald explains:

Being an American who believed in the core political principles of the country always meant adhering to these standards and embracing these values. Today’s Republican Party, acting contrary to its election rhetoric of conservatism and limited government power, has repudiated, trampled upon, and made a mockery of the core principles defining our country.

Today in the right-wing world, the very ideas that they spent the last several decades loudly touting and that long defined America have become the hallmarks of leftist radicalism. And the media has dutifully ingested this new framework. Thus, our Beltway establishment first looked the other way, then acted to protect the President of the United States once it was revealed that he was spying on the communications of American citizens in violation of the leftist doctrine called “law.”

One could also look at the statements by conservatives Bob Barr and Ron Paul to understand that opposition to the FISA bill is not coming solely from “liberal bloggers,” but also from principled conservatives as well. This issue isn’t about left vs. right here. It’s about keeping the Executive branch of the government in check, something that should be important regardless of who’s in the White House, or regardless of whether you have a more liberal or conservative view.

Earlier this week, I was reminded of why this matters as I took a trip down to Covington to see my in-laws. As I’ve mentioned before, my father-in-law is a staunch Republican, even to the extent that he has serious doubts about McCain’s Republican credentials. He’s retired now and spends his days working on his long-time hobby: building engines and exploring alternative energy solutions for homes and vehicles. His latest tangent is with Kei Class Japanese trucks.

As Dana and I pulled into the driveway, he was standing next to one of the trucks. I could tell he was excited to give me a demo. The vehicle looked like a Smart Car turned into a pickup truck with the steering wheel on the right side. He had a second one in his workshop and we hopped in for a quick drive around the block. As we took off down the street, I said to him, “Is what we’re doing legal?”

He replied, “No, do you want to ask me if a care?”

I laughed and said, “No, I already know the answer to that.”

He and I have obviously had quite a few discussions on politics over the years, so he knowingly said, “I think you and I have some overlap in our thinking on this.”

Kei class trucks are in legal limbo in this country (as you can see from this thread). They are not up to federal emission standards and therefore there’s a question as to whether or not it’s legal to drive them on the roads – even if your particular state registers it and gives you a plate. These vehicles get fantastic gas mileage for a pickup truck (~45-50 mpg), so their popularity is starting to take off. The attitudes towards the federal government expressed in that thread by those in Mississippi and Tennessee over a law that was limiting their freedom isn’t much different that the attitudes expressed in California and Washington over medical marijuana laws. And as you might expect, I find the federal laws to be unjustified in both cases.

Whenever the topic of FISA comes up, Bush supporters blindly cheer on the ability for the President to monitor our communications without warrants, yet few of them seem to apply this logic to when a Democratic Administration is in power. When the reality of an Obama Administration sets in, and their wild caricatures of what he’ll do take shape in their minds, the idea of giving him the power to spy on people without oversight in the name of national security takes on a different light – especially considering that it’s not hard to equate either gun control or combating global warming with national security.* As an Obama supporter, I’m relatively confident that he’s not the kind of leader who would abuse that power, but that’s beside the point. No President should have these kinds of powers. With no oversight, they’ll inevitably be abused for political purposes. This is why we have things like the 4th Amendment in the first place.

When I brought this up in the comment thread to the Sound Politics post, commenter Russell Garrard summed it up quite well:

When an Obama says that he wants to register all semi-auto guns just in case any terrorists are stockpiling them, we right-wingers will scream like stuck pigs. But nobody will take us seriously**, because we’ve already made the argument that “if you’re not a terrorist, you’ve got nothing to worry about.”

Is it asking too much for the main blogger at Seattle’s most popular Republican blog to grasp this fact? Apparently so.

* For the record, I agree with the court’s decision today that D.C.’s gun ban is unconstitutional.

** Well, Mark Halperin might.

UPDATE: Washblog diarist Jeffuppy breaks down the bullshit from the three Democratic Congressman from Washington – Baird, Dicks, and Smith – who voted for the FISA bill. All three of them are either blatantly lying about the bill or they never read it.

UPDATE 2: McJoan posts more information and provides a good roundup of links.

by Goldy, 06/26/2008, 10:11 AM

No doubt Dino Rossi, Luke Esser and the solemn gatekeepers of public decorum in our corporate media are patting themselves on the back right now, after the state Dems switched the soundtrack on their Rossi/BIAW video in response to bullshit complaints that it was anti-Italian. (Jesus… when did Republicans get so PC? Oh yeah… when it suits their purpose.)

Here’s what the Dems’ Kelly Steele emailed the TV news programs last night around 10PM, after they made the switch:

As promised, the WA State Democrats have changed (not pulled, as previous wire stories indicated) our video regarding Rossi and his relationship with Olympia’s most powerful special interest lobbying group — the BIAW — who are Rossi’s designated attack squad and continue to pour millions into false and misleading attack ads against Gov. Gregoire.

The new video can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIjkx0ScWPw

The video was in no way meant to allege or imply that Republican Dino Rossi or his extremist, right-wing developer allies have ties to the mafia or organized crime, nor did we intend to offend anyone, which is why we changed the song. We were happy to err on the side of sensitivity in response to a very reasonable criticism/observation by Mr. DiJulio, regardless of his political motives.

Yeah, well, as I emailed Kelly, I still think he’s a pussy for backing down like this (Kelly… my cat’s got bigger balls than you do… and he was neutered as a kitten), but it’s interesting to note that the end result of this mini manufactroversy is that the actual message in the Dems’ hitherto obscure web video has reached a much wider audience than would have been possible without the Republicans’ help.

About 24 hours after the video was released no more than a few hundred people had viewed it on YouTube, most of them via my post here on HA. But between the time Postman breathed life into the story and the time the state Dems changed the soundtrack a few hours later, the YouTube counter had flipped past the 2000 mark. And that’s on top of the tens of thousands of viewers who saw extended clips on the TV newscasts last night… viewers who I’m guessing found Rossi’s cozy relationship with the BIAW more disturbing than the Dems’ choice of musical accompaniment.

So Rossi, Esser, DiJulio et al… thanks for getting the message out, and for free. We couldn’t have done it without you. (Chumps.)

As for the new soundtrack, I don’t know what the tune is, but it sucks by comparison. You can view the revised video here, or as I public service, here once again is the original video, which I had the forethought to download from YouTube and upload to my own account as a public service: