by Lee, 05/31/2010, 12:20 PM

The Israeli Army has killed at least nine people and arrested dozens more after attacking a flotilla trying to bring aid to Gaza. Andrew Sullivan discusses it here. Juan Cole has some additional information, including an email from someone on one of the ships. Glenn Greenwald calls out the glaring contradictions between how we treat Israel and how we treat other countries and groups who do similarly appalling things. Paul Reynolds at BBC News reports on the fallout, including the cancellation of an expected meeting between Netanyahu and Obama originally scheduled for tomorrow.

UPDATE: ThinkProgress has some more links here which do a good job debunking some myths about the effects of the Gaza blockade. What I find most horrific about this action – and the Israeli policy on Gaza – is that it’s a rationalization of the necessity of punishing civilians in order to achieve political outcomes. Normally, we refer to people who think like that as terrorists.

UPDATE 2: TPM has a running timeline of reports.

UPDATE 3: George Friedman at Stratfor has a very sharp piece explaining how Israel is losing the edge in public perception and continues to risk further isolation.

by Lee, 05/30/2010, 11:03 PM

I spent about three hours this afternoon at Folklife collecting signatures for I-1068. As expected, it was a friendly crowd and my biggest obstacle to getting signers was that many people had already signed. Still, there were too many young people who wanted to sign, but haven’t registered to vote yet.

Also in Seattle Center today were a number of paid gatherers for I-1098 (the Income Tax initiative), I-1100 (privatization of liquor sales), and some revival of the 2/3 vote for tax increases (don’t remember the number, don’t give a fuck).

One of the paid gatherers was clearly out of her element and I chatted with her for a bit. She said she’d been paid $100 to collect signatures, but knew nothing about the state (she was from California) or the history of our recent initiatives. She was confused as to why a lot of people were refusing to sign the 2/3 vote petition and I had to explain the history. She was far too shy to be doing that kind of work and eventually just started approaching the people who had already stopped to sign my I-1068 petitions.

On top of that, one lady who signed my petition said that one of the paid gatherers told her that the 2/3 majority vote petition was not a Tim Eyman initiative (it is). It sounds like the folks from California have learned what they need to say to get people to sign.

And the highlight of my day was when I asked a short black man with dreadlocks to sign – and he politely said “thanks, I’ve signed” and showed me the baseball-sized bud he was carrying in his hand.

by Lee, 05/30/2010, 12:00 PM

Last week’s contest was a challenge, but after a clue was given, it was solved by Don Joe. It was the Yester Years Pub and Grill in West Allis, Wisconsin, where the bar owner was videotaped burning a statue of Obama last week.

Here’s this week’s, good luck!

by Goldy, 05/30/2010, 6:00 AM

Leviticus 24:16
And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death.

Discuss, God damn it.

by Lee, 05/29/2010, 10:32 PM

- Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske made a very odd claim to an Irish newspaper that we’ve “ended [our] war on drugs”. I think some folks in Jamaica might disagree. And Mexico. And Canada. And Afghanistan. And not to mention right here at home. For even more on the ongoing disaster in Mexico, click here.

- Teachers in Virginia were suspended for showing students a video explaining what rights they have during a police encounter. Next door in Maryland, people who legally videotape police officers in public are still being prosecuted.

- The truth on pot and schizophrenia.

- I’ll be out at Folklife tomorrow gathering signatures for I-1068. We have one month left to get on the ballot. If you have some free time in June, please consider volunteering.

by Lee, 05/29/2010, 2:54 PM

In a column accusing liberals of “nonsensical delight” over the downfall of Mark Souder, S.E. Cupp writes the following:

Fallen Rep. Mark Souder, a Republican from Indiana, is just the latest excuse to throw poor abstinence under a bus full of condoms. Salon.com’s Alex Pareene wrote about Souder’s unseemly tryst with a female staffer – who was not his wife – under the headline, “Abstinence Proselytizer Mark Souder Regrets Nothing.” For Pareene, the fact that Souder supported abstinence education is apparently an important thread of the story line.

But why? Granted, the promotional video of Souder and his mistress advocating abstinence is a delightfully vivid and embarrassing twist of irony. But Souder’s infidelity, and his inability to abstain from having extramarital sex, has nothing at all to do with abstinence education.

Zero. Abstinence education is a policy issue that we should discuss on the basis of its merits, without leaning on irrelevant, tawdry tabloid stories to prop up a position. Kids deserve better than that.

And everyone in the world deserves better than this embarrassing opinion column. There’s not much of an argument any more about the merits of abstinence-only education. Federal studies on the subject have been quite clear: that they don’t work, and that they might even increase the risk that teens will engage in unsafe sex.

What Cupp doesn’t understand is that the reasons for the failure of abstinence-only education are very much parallel to Souder’s inability to abstain from his own extramarital affair. Those of us who delighted in the hypocrisy of Mark Souder’s transgression are certainly able to connect the dots. If you understand why abstinence-only education doesn’t work, you’re not too surprised to see the reasons for that failure manifesting itself in ways that embarrass its strongest proponents.

But Souder wasn’t just a moral scold about sex. He was also the most fervent drug warrior in Congress. His infamous provision to the Higher Education Act in 1998 has cost hundreds of thousands of (disproportionately minority) students educational opportunities over the past decade. One can only imagine that Souder believed that such harsh measures would discourage drug use, but it clearly had no such effect. All it did was reduce opportunities for those who got caught and couldn’t subsequently rely on their family to continue to pay for their education.

There are strong parallels between abstinence-only education and programs like D.A.R.E. They both put a great amount of faith in the ability to use fear to keep teenagers from engaging in certain behaviors. And they both don’t work. At least with drugs, an effective regulatory scheme that keeps them out of the hands of young people could make it easier for kids to be drug-free, but we don’t have that right now. For both drugs and sex, we have very little ability to force young people to control their urges. The smartest thing has always been to provide them with accurate information and teach them how to be safe.

The reason that Mark Souder’s downfall has everything to do with abstinence-only education is because if even the biggest nanny in Congress doesn’t have the ability to abstain from sex that he knows could have serious consequences, very few teenagers out there do either. That’s the basis for why comprehensive sex-education is more realistic and more effective than trying to scare teens into keeping their pants on.

[via Sadly No - who hilariously refers to Cupp as "Sipp E. Cupp"]

by Darryl, 05/29/2010, 12:18 PM

Rasmussen released a new poll for the Washington senatorial race yesterday. The poll, taken on 26 May on a sample of 500 likely Washington state voters, has Sen. Patty Murray leading real estate salesman and perennial candidate Dino Rossi by 48% to 47%. The margin of error for the poll is ±4.5%.

The poll was taken on the day of Rossi’s long-anticipated formal announcement of his candidacy. Of course, Rossi still has to make it through Washington’s top two primary. Given the crowded Republican field, there is some chance Rossi will not make it. The other general election match-ups have Murray up by even larger margins: 50% to 35% over Don Benton, 47% to 37% over Clint Didier, and 47% to 32% over Paul Akers.

A Monte Carlo analysis of the Murray-Rossi results, based on a million simulated elections at the same sample size and observed percentages, gives Murray 557,078 wins and Rossi 430,204 wins. The results suggest that, if the election was held today, Murray would have a 56.4% chance of beating Rossi. The distribution of election results looks like this:

MurrayRossiRasmussenMAY26

The Rasmussen results are closer than those found in a recent Washington Poll that had Rossi leading by 4% in a sample of 1,252 registered voters. My analysis of that poll gave Murray an 86.5% probability of being the winner. In addition to the Washington Poll, there was another Rasmussen poll taken on 04 May that had Murray leading Rossi by 2%.

A joint analysis of the three polls taken in May—yes, I am not including the recent Elway Poll because it was started in April—gives Murray a hefty advantage. From a total of 2,252 voters surveyed Murray gets 45.8% and Rossi takes 42.9%. Normalized to just the 1,997 who went for Murray or Rossi, Murray gets 51.6% to Rossi’s 48.4%. The Monte Carlo analysis gives Murray 844,678 wins to Rossi’s 151,587 wins. In other words, the evidence from the May polls suggests that an election held this month would have an 84.8% probability of Murray winning. Here is the distribution for the pooled polls:

MurrayRossiMayPolls

Here is a summary of the normalized polls for this contest over the entire year:

Senate29Apr10-29May10Washington1

If Rossi had entered this race in mid-March, he could have claimed the advantage of the lead in all the early polling. At the end of May, however, Murray has now led in the most recent four polls and six of the past seven polls, suggesting that Rossi’s late entry into the race comes with a solid disadvantage.

by Goldy, 05/29/2010, 10:35 AM

While I certainly plan to return to the subject of Rep. Dave Reichert’s reversal on Net Neutrality as symptomatic of his lack of guiding principles, I would be remiss to touch on the subject without thanking Rep. Jay Inslee for his leadership on this issue.

It is Rep. Inslee who is proving to be Net Neutrality’s most vocal champion in the House, and it is he who is a circulating a letter urging the FCC to follow through on its plans to enforce this principle on broadband providers: the basic principle that all content must be treated neutrally.

Under Net Neutrality, Qwest cannot legally block or or slow down access to HA when I berate them for their terrible service, or in perhaps a more likely example, Comcast could not limit access to competing video content, or perhaps strike a deal to provide superior enduser throughput to Google over Bing, or vice versa.

Net Neutrality is a principle that ensures a free and open Internet, and as such is absolutely crucial to health of our economy and our democracy. So thank you, Rep. Inslee, for holding firm to your principles, and fighting the wealthy and powerful telcos and cable companies on our behalf.

by Darryl, 05/29/2010, 12:13 AM

Dan Savage joins Keith Olbermann to discuss “gay Hitler.”

(There are 40+ more media clips from the past week in politics at Hominid Views.)

by Goldy, 05/28/2010, 5:45 PM

Kudos to Jim Brunner at the Seattle Times for finally getting Rep. Dave Reichert on the record about the embarrassing leaked audio in which he brags to room of Republican PCO’s about taking environmental activists “out of the game” in his district with a few well placed, cynical votes.

Reichert tried to laugh it off as “tongue in cheek,” just so you know.

But considering their scoop — I know other reporters have attempted, and failed, to get a comment from Reichert — um… 3PM on a Friday afternoon before a three-day weekend? Could the Times have buried this any further?

Brunner writes that he’s been meaning to get to this sooner, and that he even posted on his day off, and I’ve got no reason to doubt him. But it’s awfully damn frustrating to see Reichert consistently get the benefit of timing, as well as doubt.

I’ll take everybody at their word here (except, of course, Reichert), and just say that the Times owes DelBene a raincheck which, if they’re as fair and balanced as they claim to be, they’ll ultimately deliver.

by Goldy, 05/28/2010, 12:59 PM

Reversing a position he took in the heat of his 2006 reelection campaign, U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert joined 170 fellow House Republicans in signing on to a letter to FCC Chair Julius Genachowski, urging him not to proceed with plans to protect Net Neutrality by reclassifying broadband as a “telecommunications service.”

In a 2006 debate with challenger Darcy Burner, Reichert claimed strong support for Net Neutrality in response to a question from the Seattle Times’ Ryan Blethen:

I also support net neutrality. [The Internet] should be an equal place where people to come, equal companies to come. It should be the choice of the people, when they Google, the biggest company doesn’t come up, but the company that the people have chosen as the most important site pops up. That’s why I supported, and voted for, net neutrality.

Yet now that Reichert feels safely ensconced in incumbency, in an arguably Republican-leaning year, he has apparently abandoned his former stance, and joined colleagues Doc Hastings and Cathy McMorris Rodgers in toeing the Republican Party line against the interests of his Internet dependent district.

Not that such an unprincipled reversal should come as much of a surprise from a congressman who, in the absence of reporters, routinely brags about the calculated manner in which he casts his votes. Did Reichert ever really support Net Neutrality? Did he even understand the issue? Or was this merely a position he was advised he had to take when facing off against the net-savvy Burner in his net-savvy district, and in the midst of a blue wave election?

And given the way Reichert proudly claims (behind closed doors) a “90/10″ Republican voting record in what he acknowledges to be a “50/50 district,” voters must wonder if there any issues on which he can be trusted to take an unwavering, principled stand. As Josh succinctly explains over at Publicola:

We’re not rubes, we get how politicians work. However, Reichert’s candor belies the credit he’s been given by Seattle Times for being “principled,” a reason they’ve given their hundreds of thousands of readers to vote for him.

More important, if Reichert isn’t an environmentalist at heart, voters should know that because when push comes to shove on future bills (when he’s more confident with his long term incumbency), he may feel comfy voting his real conscience.

That’s assuming Reichert actually has a “real conscience” on anything other than abortion, the one issue he privately admits drove him into the arms of the anti-choice Republican Party.

So much for his “conscience-driven independent streak.”

by Lee, 05/28/2010, 7:17 AM

If we actually had a functioning media in this country, this story would be the top story on every evening news broadcast and be on the front page of every major newspaper. But we don’t, so the fact that the vast majority (72%) of Guantanamo detainees who’ve gone in front of a judge for habeas hearings have been found to be wrongfully detained remains largely unknown to most Americans. And the politicians (both Republicans and Democrats) who’ve attempted to block the ability of detainees to go in front of a judge in the first place will continue to escape the scrutiny they deserve.

UPDATE: In related news, Conor Friedersdorf and Adam Serwer throw down on Andy McCarthy’s latest attempt to legitimize tyranny.

by Darryl, 05/27/2010, 11:35 PM


…hypocrisy.

by Goldy, 05/27/2010, 2:16 PM

Over at Publicola Josh speculates that an intramural brawl with Tea Party candidate Clint Didier might actually help Dino Rossi in November:

Didier is going to make Rossi look good (moderate) to the mainstream public. Instead of alienating the GOP base, Rossi’s scrap with Didier is going to attract moderate Democrats and Independents who want change, but not Krazy change.

Didier will make those important moderate voters feel comfortable with Rossi in time for the general.

Hmm… I don’t think so, and here’s where I think Josh gets a little too clever for his own good: see, voters already know Rossi, and while I suppose he could run to the left of Didier — it’s as reasonable a strategy as any — I’m not sure that convinces moderate voters, especially Democrats, most recently familiar with Rossi from 2008.

About 200,000 more voters cast ballots in 2008 than in 2004, a year in which Libertarian candidate Ruth Bennett took 63,000 votes, yet Rossi only increased his totals by about 30,000 votes in a top-two face-off. And in King County, by far the largest and most Democratic county in the state, Rossi actually received 25,000 fewer votes in 2008 than he did in 2004, garnering less than 36% of the vote compared to over 40% four years earlier.

One can only assume that moderate Democrats and independents got to know Rossi better over the intervening four years, and that they didn’t like what they saw. So I don’t see how a contrast with Didier, however sharp, changes many minds. In some ways, due to his visibility, Rossi is every bit as much of an incumbent as Murray, and with all the strengths and weaknesses that implies.

The other flaw in Josh’s reasoning is that it ignores the fundamentals of this particular political climate, in which the single biggest factor Republicans have going in their favor this cycle is a still somewhat yawning gap in enthusiasm between the bases of the two parties. I think former state GOP chair Chris Vance is at least half right when he says “If the wave is big, Dino Rossi is going to win. If the wave shrinks, he’s probably not going to win.” (Only half right, because I don’t believe even a big wave is a guarantee of victory.)

This election, or at least Republican hopes of substantial pickups, is all about turnout, and state Republicans are just not going to excite their base having Dino running as a RINO. Rossi needs relatively enthusiastic support from the Tea Party, assuming it really exists, if he’s to have a hope of beating Sen. Patty Murray, and I don’t see how he generates this by running to the left of his party’s conservative base.

So while I fully expect Rossi to choose his words and issues carefully, depending on the crowd, I also expect him to attempt to embrace at least the spirit of the Tea Party, if not all of its stupider, Tentherist specifics. It’s a risky strategy in a state in which Democrats enjoy such a strong numerical advantage, but if Rossi’s only hope of victory is a Big Red Wave™, then he’s gonna have to ride it as long and as hard as he can.

by Goldy, 05/27/2010, 10:00 AM

Anonymity — or at least, pseudonymity — holds a long and cherished place in American history, dating back well before our nation’s founding.

Benjamin Franklin honed his skills as a journalist writing under a number of pseudonyms, and Thomas Paine’s highly influential and historically revered Common Sense was originally published anonymously in 1776. And then of course there are the Federalist Papers, authored by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, but published under the pseudonym Publius.

I mean, if anonymity was good enough for our founding fathers, it’s certainly good enough for me.

But apparently, it’s not good enough for Ted Van Dyk, who laments the “negative and sometimes vicious personal attacks” he endures in the threads over at Crosscut, and who wonders if the comments might be more civil “if those making them had to sign their own names?”

Oh, boo-hoo.

Yeah sure, there are those who abuse the privilege of anonymity, as demonstrated by the sewer that is my comment thread, but democracy is a messy thing, especially the nearly inviolable right to free speech that guarantees it. Of course I wish my trolls would put half the thought into their comments as I put into my posts, and their relentless effort to drive my threads off-topic is disappointing to say the least. But if there’s one free market I believe in, it’s the free market of ideas.

There’s a reason why HA quickly rose to prominence and popularity while my trolls, like the barnacles that they are, still desperately cling to my keel, and it sure as hell has nothing to do with the market distorting powers of money and influence.

Yet despite the unprecedentedly vibrant forum the Internet has fostered, in which even the Crosscut Home for Retired Journalists can earn itself a valued role in the public debate, Van Dyk still pines for the good old days when editorial gatekeepers, too cowardly to sign their own editorials, not only got to pick and choose which voices the public would hear, but got to edit them to boot.

“We all are familiar with the old print-journalism procedures,” Van Dyk nostalgically writes, “whereby readers sent letters to the editor and a few, in the end, got published — always bearing the writers’ names.”

And that’s a good thing? Given a choice between democracy and decorum, Van Dyk clearly chooses the latter.

Honestly, could this crusty, old, milk industry bagman get any more old and crusty? Um… yeah:

A related matter, speaking of the online world and its comments, someone has used Twitter — tweeted — using my name and photo, to transmit silly observations, which some of those receiving then attribute to me.

The Twitterer in question has registered as presenting “parody” and thus is within Twitter ground rules. Please know that I do not Twitter and that another person is mischievously Twittering in my name.

Really, Ted? And what was the giveaway? The word Fake prominently featured in our Fake Ted Van Dyk feed’s title?

Reading between the lines, it sure does sound like Van Dyk contacted Twitter attempting to get the feed shut down, so if there really is any confusion as to provenance, perhaps that’s understandable when given the cartoonish nature of his complaint, Van Dyk once again comes off as a parody of himself.

by Goldy, 05/26/2010, 3:17 PM

by Goldy, 05/26/2010, 1:37 PM

$58,409.09 a day. That’s how much money real estate speculator Dino Rossi needs to raise between now and Nov. 2, just to match the amount Sen. Patty Murray had raised by the end of March. That’s $408,864 a week. Over $1.8 million a month. Nearly $10 million between now and election day, mostly from wealthy contributors.

And in return? He’ll fight for lower taxes and less regulation.

Huh.

by Goldy, 05/26/2010, 9:59 AM

Back in 2005, when local pundits were kvelling over how Mike McGavick, with his mix of political experience and private sector success, was such a savvy choice to counter Sen. Maria Cantwell, I wasn’t so sure:

It’s hard to imagine how the Republicans are going to present a multi-millionaire insurance company executive who proudly advocates shipping jobs overseas, as a “man of the people.” But you know they’re going to try.

I hear some righties snidely claim that they’re going to force Cantwell to run on her record. Well I hate to burst their bubble, but McGavick has a record too, and it ain’t gonna look so pretty by the time November, 2006 comes around.

Substitute “real estate speculator” for “insurance company executive” and you get Dino Rossi circa 2010.

Republicans and some namby-pambies in the press may decry the way the DSCC has been adroitly flinging dirt at Rossi these past few months, but the Dems don’t need to uncover any illegal or corrupt real estate speculation to damage Rossi, they merely have to drive home the point that this is how he makes his living. For in the same way that “insurance company executive” wasn’t exactly the most admired profession back in 2006, “real estate speculator” (or even the less pejorative “investor”) is hardly the best sales pitch to voters in our post real estate bubble economy.

Rossi made his fortune on Western Washington’s prolonged real estate bubble. That’s a fact. And as his own website made clear in the wake of his 2008 gubernatorial loss (and until nearly an hour after it was supposed to flip over into campaign mode), Rossi sought to profit further from the losses suffered by others in the real estate market’s subsequent collapse:

“The next two years will be a terrific time to purchase quality properties at prices that make sense.”

Nothing illegal about that. Nothing particularly unethical, I guess, by capitalist standards.

But there’s nothing particularly honorable about it either.

There will be two candidates on the November ballot, and assuming Rossi makes it past the primary, only one of them will have profited from the real estate bubble, and from its epic collapse that undermined our economy and put millions of Americans out of work.

Huh. “Insurance company executive” doesn’t sound like such a bad resume bullet point anymore, does it?

by Goldy, 05/26/2010, 9:15 AM

Since Dino Rossi had already pre-announced that his official announcement would go live on his website at 7 AM this morning, I just post-dated a piece of snark for the same time, turned off the alarm clock and decided to sleep in. Well apparently, so did Rossi’s webmaster:

It’s still early in Seattle, but also a bit strange that with the Seattle Times previewing Dino Rossi’s campaign launch via web video on DinoRossi.com … DinoRossi.com remains devoted to a plain text letter, apparently from 2008, to supporters and potential business partners.

Oops. According to Publicola, Rossi still had his old website up as late as 7:25 AM.

You know, wants to run government more like a business, and all that.

Then again, in the same way that Rossi touts his business experience as one of his main political qualifications, he’s also been quite savvy at leveraging his political prominence into lucrative business opportunities. So it’s kinda fitting.

by Lee, 05/26/2010, 8:30 AM

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer suggests to Obama that he should send aerial drones and helicopters to fight the drug war at the border because of “how effective these assets have become in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom”. Since her letter doesn’t say so either way, I’m hoping Brewer only wants these aircraft for surveillance purposes and not to rain down bombs on Arizona towns.

UPDATE: Artfart in the comments:

When Obama was heard to say “Plug the damn hole!” was he referring to the blowout in the Gulf of Mexico or Jan Brewer’s mouth?