Once again, the Change.org website held an open forum for voting on which issues Americans want the Obama Administration to address. The results were announced and – once again – ending marijuana prohibition was one of the top issues voted on. In Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper discovered the same thing when he agreed to respond to questions from the online community. He was expected to respond to these questions today.
Archives for March 2010
After struggling to find a polling place and waiting in line for what seems like forever for today’s election, you could use a drink. So join us tonight for an evening of politics under the influence at the Seattle chapter of Drinking Liberally. We meet at the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue E. beginning at about 8:00 pm. Stop by even earlier and enjoy some dinner.
Not in Seattle? There is a good chance you live near one of the 343 other chapters of Drinking Liberally.
The good news is that there’s a 90 minute wait to vote at the Bellevue library polling station, so I guess the turnout is relatively high. And the bad news is that there’s a fucking 90 minute wait to vote at the Bellevue library polling station!
The parking lot is overflowing and the line is so long people are walking away in disgust. If you wanted to design an election to discourage participation, this would be the way to do it. You know, the Republicans’ dream system.
What a joke.
When I talk about a really kick–ass playground to replace the Seattle Center’s Fun Forest, instead of the pay-per-view Chihuly museum that’s been proposed, of course I’m thinking of a space mostly aimed at kids. But I emphasize the “mostly.”
This is an opportunity to let our imaginations run wild and build something appealing to kids of all ages. Yeah, sure, we could build just another museum. Or we could build a public “playground” that could ultimately prove just as iconic as the Space Needle itself.
Unless, you know, Seattle just isn’t up to the challenge.
State Republicans talk tough about taking out U.S. Sen. Patty Murray in what’s shaping up to be a tough year for incumbents, but time’s running out to field a credible challenger, and those WSRP faithful holding their breath in anticipation of two-time gubernatorial loser Dino Rossi jumping into the breach are likely to have their faces turn blue long before Washington turns red.
While Rossi would no doubt like to be elected Senator, insiders say he’s not so keen on the idea of running. Nor is serving in the other Washington all that appealing.
The governorship is only as hard a job as you want to make it to be, and Olympia is but a short drive from Rossi’s Sammamish home. But the U.S. Senate is a full-time gig that requires tons of travel and the uprooting of one’s family, and that’s not exactly what Rossi signed up for when the WSRP’s second-choice (Dave Reichert was the inside favorite until he opened his mouth) accepted his party’s gubernatorial nomination back in 2004.
But perhaps the biggest reason why you won’t see Dino Rossi’s name on the “Prefers GOP Party” ballot anytime soon, is that the post-economic-collapse political climate and the financial scandals that precipitated it have virtually assured that Rossi’s own business dealings would be exposed to the kind of public scrutiny he managed to mostly avoid in 2004 and 2008. And it’s not so clear that Rossi’s reputation would hold up so well under such circumstances.
Of course there’s Rossi’s close business relationship with his longtime mentor Mel Heide, who pleaded guilty to bilking millions out of clients two years before Rossi finally severed their ties, not coincidentally in the middle of Rossi’s first political campaign. Heide’s shady real estate dealings have been reported at length, but Rossi’s own business practices while in Heide’s employ have never been fully investigated.
But of even greater concern to Rossi and his image makers might be a more recent scandal, his sweetheart deal and unreported $50,000 loan from real estate developer Michael Mastro. Back when the story was all but brushed off by the media in the final days of the 2008 gubernatorial campaign, Rossi’s spokesperson dismissed it as an “11-year-old oversight,” but since then Mastro’s own shady dealings infamously came to light after the state filed securities charges against him in the wake of a financial collapse that has cost hundreds of local investors all of the $100 million they entrusted in Mastro.
Kinda like the Puget Sound’s own personal Bernie Madoff.
So what did then state Sen. Rossi know, and when did he know it? Well, surely Rossi had the real estate chops to know that he and two BIAW lobbyists had received a helluva deal when Mastro sold them the Windsor Court Apartments in 1997, while lending them the money to buy it. Rossi and his buddies repaid the loan a couple years later, after flipping the property for a handsome profit.
Huh. Big profits from a no-money-down real estate investment; it sounds like one of those too-good-to-be-true, late night infomercials. And meanwhile, Mastro’s own investors are out their entire kitty.
No doubt Mastro thought he was making a prudent investment of his own, buying the loyalty and friendship of a rising state senator (he was also an early big contributor to both of Rossi’s gubernatorial campaigns), but I’m not so sure his hundreds of bilked investors would look so kindly at the deal. Neither am I sure that the media can look the other way should Rossi jump into a high-profile U.S. Senate race — not even the reliably pro-Rossi Seattle Times.
Back in 2008, when the story was merely about Rossi’s failure to report the Mastro loan, the Times pretty much dismissed it as an unintentional oversight, writing that “His campaign correctly pointed out that much larger real-estate transactions were disclosed on his personal financial-disclosure form.” But in light of what we now know about Mastro’s business practices, that excuse in itself should raise some eyebrows.
Why would Rossi report larger transactions, but fail to disclose this one? Was it really an oversight, or did Rossi have more to hide than the Times and others first suspected?
That is a question that likely won’t be adequately investigated unless he challenges Sen. Murray, which given the current political and economic environment, and his known close ties to two shady real estate investors, Rossi is exceedingly unlikely to do.
The world’s stupidest election has come around again, with the King County Conservation District giving new meaning to the term “secret ballot.” Dozens of voters will gather today at seven libraries throughout the county to cast ballots in a race that nobody but dedicated environmentalists and self-interested developers even know exists.
No publicity. No convenient neighborhood polling places. No mail-in ballot. It’s pretty much democracy at its worse.
That said, I suppose I’ll attempt to find the polling-place/library closest to a Trader Joe’s, and try to make the most of the inconvenience, casting my ballot for either Kirk Prindle or Max Prinsen. As Lee mentioned, Kirk is a friend of Howie, and thus a friend of HA, who has managed to make it out to a couple DL’s. But Prinsen has the endorsement of the King County Conservation Voters, and I’d hate to see our side split their vote.
Anyway, I’m probably voting for Prindle, but you use your own judgment. Just get out there and vote.
As legislators prepare to close Washington’s $2.6 billion budget gap, partially by imposing a tax on carbonated beverages, a new scientific study confirms the obvious… that taxing soft drinks can make young people healthier.
The study, which collected food intake data from 12,123 young adults for 20 years, found that with every 10 percent increase in the price of a two-liter bottle, people consumed 7 percent fewer calories from soda. They also took in fewer calories over all.
When people faced an even larger increase — $1 for a two-liter bottle of soda, comparable to a proposed tax in Philadelphia — they consumed 124 fewer calories a day, the study found. The lower soda intake was associated with a drop in weight of more than two pounds — and a lower risk for pre-diabetes. The study appears in the March 8 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.
Now some might argue against any government effort to influence behavior by distorting the price of one product over another, yet the low price consumers have long enjoyed on sugary beverages is itself a direct result of massive federal corn subsidies and the vast supply of cheap, high fructose corn syrup these policies have created. Washington’s proposed nickel per 12 ounce tax, representing about a 20 to 30 percent increase at the checkout counter, can thus rightly be seen as merely a state effort to partially counter the market distortions created by subsidies at the national level. And considering the measurable public health benefits the study suggests we should expect, this policy seems like a win-win to me.
The Wright family, the people who constructed and own the Space Needle, want to build a private, pay-per-view Chihuly Museum at the foot of the Needle on public land where the Fun Forest used to be. Personally, I can think of some much better uses for a couple acres of land the Seattle Center master plan had envisioned as open space.
GOOGLE’S fight with China presents issues that are not as simple as many Americans believe.
Americans frame it as a fight against state censorship — of government telling a U.S. company to disable its search engine in China so that Google’s customers there can’t read certain political opinions. Americans don’t believe in doing that — and Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, has said so publicly, threatening to leave China.
To China’s government, the issue is whether a foreign corporation will obey its laws. Framed that way, the answer is easy. It has to obey. That is the rule with foreign companies everywhere.
Well, the law is the law. Spoken like a Mahatma Gandhi or a Martin Luther King Jr… you know, if they were drunk.
And on what does the Times base this bold statement of principle? Well apparently they looked the communist Chinese minister of industry and information in the eye and were able to get a sense of his soul. After all…
Listen to what they say.
“I hope Google will abide by Chinese laws and regulations,” says Li Yizhong, minister of industry and information technology. This is not the diction of a totalitarian state. It sounds like a man who wants to make a deal.
Now that’s the sorta confident assessment of a foreign government’s character and intentions that would make Neville Chamberlain proud. I mean, with totally non-totalitarian diction like that, where’s the harm in a little censorship?
I dunno, but is anybody else a little weirded out by an American newspaper defending government censorship, while urging the world’s largest Internet search engine to just quietly play along? Strange.
I’m getting word over email that the homeowner involved in this morning’s shooting in Kirkland is Steve Sarich. Sarich is a very prominent – but also very controversial – figure in the medical marijuana community. Last week, after a 38-year-old medical marijuana patient named Mike Howard was beaten to death during an alleged robbery attempt, Sarich sent the following email to both state legislators and the media:
Yeah, I suppose we could just plop a pay-per-view Chihuly Museum and Gift Shop in the space where the Fun Forest used to be, and maybe extract a few extra bucks from tourists who stray too far from the cruise ship terminal. Or, we could build our kids a really kick-ass playground our region’s families would use again and again and again.
Again, nothing against Chihuly in particular, or museums in general, but Seattle needs more family-friendly attractions, not less, and a glass museum just doesn’t fit that bill.
Nice to see the future corporate lobbyists of America sticking together.
Let’s at least be clear about what’s being traded in America today. They think you’re stupid, that you can be distracted, and that they know best. They’ll take your money for their campaigns, pat you on the head, thank you for carrying heavy boxes for them, and then fuck you over in a heartbeat on the issues you care about the most.
Then they’ll insist that only “moderates” can do well. They’re not actually “moderate” on issues, because they’ll gladly abandon their faux outrage over the deficit when corporate coffers need a boost, they’re just “moderate” about not losing their power. If this sounds familiar, it’s because these kinds of people are properly called Republicans.
Baird will most likely screw us on health care again, and Heck won’t even take a fucking stand. There’s your “moderates” for you.
I’m getting phone calls from OFA urging me to “contact my Congressman to support health care reform” while at the same time another faction of the party is trying to kill it. I think we have a big problem here, people, and the problem is that certain people think it’s their political party, and the rest of us are just ATM’s and porters.
Now, most campaigns won’t turn down an endorsement, but given the antipathy towards Baird in the district, this move by the Heck campaign starts to look like a misstep, if not a blunder. But the insiders can’t help themselves, because they usually don’t need to worry about the petty concerns of those silly little voters, or even large blocs of rank and file activists; it’s all about proving to the other insiders that they’re a kewl kid. The voters can be dealt with in 30 second tee-vee ads later.
Enough is enough. We need someone principled in this seat, at long last, and Craig Pridemore has the support of hundreds of ordinary folks in the district. Those in the Puget Sound region who dismiss Pridemore’s chances based on ordinary metrics (ooooh! lookie! Denny has his own money!) clearly have no idea what makes Craig tick, nor his dogged determination in previous races where he defeated well-financed Republican incumbents. I don’t think some folks understand that over the years Craig has built up a tremendous and devoted group of admirers because he always fights for the regular people, even when the odds are against them.
Speaking of Denny Heck endorsements, the NYT had an interesting article late last year on how the lobbying game is really played, and it mentions another WA-03 Congress-critter who has endorsed Heck, former House member Don Bonker of APCO Worldwide. Fun times, flying a conservative Repuke like James Sensenbrenner and his wife to Liechtenstein on a pleasure junket, staying at a ski resort and touring first-class vineyards and wine cellars. Sweet, and apparently all legal if the money is placed in the correct non-profit entities. I’m sure having his buddy Heck in office would enhance Bonker’s professional prestige quite a bit more.
Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave. One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to lie with us, as is the custom all over the earth. Let’s get our father to drink wine and then lie with him and preserve our family line through our father.”
That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and lay with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.
The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Last night I lay with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and lie with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.” So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went and lay with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.
So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father.