The Unraveling of Dominic Holden

As Carl mentioned below, the New Approach Washington campaign turned in its signatures this week for Initiative 502. This initiative would legalize personal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and regulate the distribution and sale of the drug to anyone over 21. It also introduces a per se DUI limit for “active” THC – in layman’s terms, the amount of “unprocessed” THC in your body.

Over at Slog, Dominic Holden continues to lash out at the folks in the medical marijuana community who oppose it – primarily due to the DUI provisions. I’ve been trying to stay out of this fight for my own sanity, but Holden’s anger is so misdirected (and misinformed), I have to speak up.

The heart of the issue is rather simple. For years, medical marijuana patients in this state have fought to keep from getting arrested for using a medicine that they and their doctors have found is very effective for them. Our medical marijuana law does not fully protect medical marijuana patients from arrest, it only provides for a defense in court. Over the years – despite the fact that the rules the police must follow haven’t changed (hint, hint) – the amount of arrests for medical marijuana have been going down as more and more law enforcement folks realize that patients will simply win in court.

With I-502, however, medical marijuana patients would end up with a new threat. Because they often use very high quantities of marijuana compared to recreational users, the effects of the drug from an impairment standpoint are minimal (people build up a tolerance to the psychoactive effects), yet they always have an overabundance of “active” THC in their bodies to trigger that DUI charge. As a result, medical marijuana patients and their advocates are organizing to fight I-502. Holden continues to blast these folks for their opposition, but their position is entirely rational. This initiative clearly puts them at greater risk of having to deal with the criminal justice system than the status quo.

And this situation was entirely by design. When New Approach Washington started their campaign, they pointed to poll numbers showing that including the DUI provision would cause 62% of voters to be more likely to vote for it, but only 11% less likely. The folks behind New Approach Washington came to a conscious decision to throw medical marijuana patients under the bus in order to have a better chance of passing something. To be upset that medical marijuana patients are now trying to fight it is absurd. Of course they’re fighting it.

But even more obnoxious is how Holden is now trying to impugn the integrity of folks who are acting exactly the way you’d expect them to. He writes:

The folks trying to lock up pot smokers aren’t the prestigious public health professionals, professors, prosecutors, and defense attorneys who have banded together to submit what appears to be enough signatures to put the country’s most sweeping marijuana initiative on the Washington State ballot. No, the people holding a rally today in Olympia to oppose Initiative 502—which would legalize and regulate pot for all adults—are medical marijuana patients, attorneys who specialize in marijuana defense, and activists who want legalization with fewer regulatory controls. They complain that too many people would get busted for DUIs while driving with active (not inactive) THC in their system. Of course, maintaining the status quo isn’t a big deal for them if I-502 fails. A lot of them make money running pot dispensaries, and many lawyers make their living defending marijuana cases. The folks braying loudest against I-502 are also the same people (Douglas Hiatt, Jeffrey Steinborn, and Vivian McPeak) who ran previous initiative campaigns to legalize marijuana and failed to make the ballot. Maybe they’re feeling butthurt that someone else is doing a better job.

This is so absurd, I can’t believe he actually wrote this. Hiatt and Steinborn are the two main folks behind Sensible Washington, who’ve been trying to get their own legalization initiative on the ballot for the past two years (I did a lot of work with them earlier this year). That initiative was written to completely remove all state criminal penalties for marijuana. To say that those two are happy to maintain the status quo because they make a living defending marijuana cases is one of the craziest things ever written in The Stranger.

They’ve all done commendable work in the past, but now they are at the vanguard of a misguided campaign to lock up pot smokers. If they succeed in stopping I-502, perhaps there will be a handful more DUI arrests for pot under the imperfect initiative, because the science is admittedly unclear. But here’s one thing that is absolutely clear: Law enforcement in Washington will continue to arrest about 13,000 people for pot every year unless we pass I-502.

But that’s actually far from clear. Holden is leaving out a very important aspect of the argument that some I-502 foes have been making, in particular Jeffrey Steinborn. As he wrote on Slog last month, Steinborn believes that I-502 will do nothing to stop people from being arrested:

Initiative 502 is a law enforcement sting in plain sight. Read it before you support it. Although the mandatory DUI conviction at 5ng of active THC per milliliter of blood is troubling and possibly unconstitutional, the inevitable federal preemption of this initiative, along with its provisions requiring mandatory self-incrimination make it a dangerous illusion.

Steinborn isn’t arguing that some smaller number of DUI’s is worse than the number of people who get arrested every year. What he’s arguing is that – if I-502 passes – the federal government is going to step in, shut down all the parts of the initiative that establish a legal, regulated market and potentially leave us with both 13,000 arrests per year and bogus DUIs.

I have no idea if Steinborn is right. I’ve listened to a number of legal experts and there’s a wide range of opinions on what happens once a state fully legalizes marijuana and allows for it to be sold openly to adults. My own hunch is that private entities like drug testing firms and possibly the pharmaceutical industry may compel the Obama Administration to go after any state that tries. And the history of the Obama Administration has been one of corporate influence outweighing what the liberal base wants.

Yet Holden doesn’t explore whether or not Steinborn’s right, he just falsely claims he’s making a foolish tradeoff. This is lazy, hack journalism at its worst. But beyond that, he’s completely missing the point about the impact of DUIs. The problem isn’t just that the number of arrests will go up significantly (although I think that might happen too). The problem is that the people who get arrested and charged with DUI for marijuana will now find it far more difficult to prove their innocence in court. And as I alluded to earlier (hint, hint), law enforcement and prosecutors most certainly change the way they do things based upon whether or not they know they can get convictions.

At the beginning of their campaign, New Approach Washington looked at their polling on the DUI question and felt that this was the right approach. With 62% of voters saying a DUI provision would make them more likely to vote for legalization and 11% of voters saying the opposite, only 20% of that 62% would need to actually flip their vote to make the other 11% irrelevant. If that’s the case, and the supporters of I-502 think that’s realistic, they shouldn’t give a crap what medical marijuana patients are doing and saying. They’ll be outweighed by all those soccer moms who finally have an initiative that they can vote for.

It’s that point that makes me wonder why Holden is losing his shit. If he thinks that New Approach Washington miscalculated – and that the 11% can really swing this – he should be blasting the I-502 campaign for making that poor calculation. The opposition from medical marijuana patients and their longtime advocates was easily predictable and fully expected. What hasn’t been expected is the piss-poor level of journalism coming from a publication that has long been superb at pointing out the drug war hackery of others.

Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Young Turks: FAUX News’ curious Christmas poll.

Thom debates Horace Cooper on voter fraud.

Jennifer Granholm ponders how Republicans get people across the country to vote against their own interests:

Newsy: Unemployment hits a three-year low.

Young Turks: What Americans think about socialism.

Alynoa’s Tool Time: Capital One is greedy.

Thom with The Good, The Bad, and The Very, Very Ugly.

Ed: Obama campaign lays out multiple pathways to victory.

The G.O.P. Primary Reality Show:

Buzz 60: A weekend left in Iowa.

Young Turks: Crazy right wing group’s ad with straight couple in cross-hairs.

Newsy: Very bad news for Republicans—Unemployment hits three-year low.

Sharpton: Oddly…Republicans have no concerns about voter fraud in Iowa caucus.

Thom to US Senator Ron Wyden (D- OR): “You’re fired!”

The Obamas wish you and military families “happy holidays”.

Young Turks: Larry “wide stance” Craig IS BAAAAAAACK.

Seattle protesters do a Christmas foreclosure on Bank of America (via Crooks and Liars).

Thom with some more Good, Bad, and Very, Very Ugly.

Year In Review:

Pap: The Republican’s war on voting.

Not exactly Rick Snyder (R-MI).

Young Turks: Good riddance, Sen. Ben Nelson.

Thom: NE Democrats…take back your state!.

White House: West Wing Week.

Mark Fiore: Aggregating Arianna.

Alyona: TSA needs more intel, less groping.

Newsy: Ben Nelson retirement to hurt Democrats?

Cenk: Has Obama beaten Republicans at their own game?

Ed: Justice Department blocks SC voter suppression laws.

Thom: TSAs Security Theater is going on the road!

Last week’s Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza can be found here.

Open Thread 12/30

- New Approach Washington has submitted the signatures for their initiative.

- Today in Ron Paul totally isn’t racist or homophobic.

- The Reconstruction-era South didn’t invent dishonesty, but its response to America’s defining trauma has become a foundational lie, supporting an ever-growing edifice of false history. It’s a lie so big no one will forcefully challenge it, a lie that’s too big to fail.

- Mitt Romney Is Running For America’s Embarrassing Dad

- Awesome species identification, Orkin.

And Now, Let’s Hear From the Wealthy

The Seattle Times’ editorial board is talking vaguely about reforms without ever explaining how much money (if any) they actually save, let alone what they’ll do to the people working in government. And even after mentioning that many of the so called reforms they want have already passed, they seem to get angrier. This is bad enough, and I considered a more general critique of it. But the opening paragraphs are what really pissed me off.

DEMOCRATS who take cheer from business leaders’ support for a tax increase should make sure they are hearing the whole statement: taxes and reforms.

That is what Jim Albaugh, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said last week. Add to his voice that of Microsoft’s general counsel, Brad Smith: “It’s important reforms are approved along with revenues.”

Phew, I was worried that an attorney for Microsoft and the CEO of Boeing might not have a space to push their preferred policy. Thank goodness The Seattle Times editorial board will act as stenographers for them!

Now, perhaps I’m being unfair here. I mean those tax policy changes affect those companies. Well the editorial goes on to mention some of the reforms they want: “formulas for pensions, pay increases, medical reimbursements, benefits, etc.”* Oddly, they don’t quote anyone who will be hurt by those things. People losing a good deal of their pensions and pay over the long haul, or who’ll have worse medical care maybe deserve as much time as a CEO of a Chicago company.

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McKenna: Slick campaigner, failure as a politician

Current Attorney General and gubernatorial wannabe Rob McKenna is feeling the heat over an early December AP piece showing the “State payouts up threefold under [him]“:

During his 2004 campaign for attorney general, Rob McKenna vowed that he would use the position to curb how much state agencies pay out for major lawsuits. Instead, those costs have grown rapidly under his watch.

Today’s TNT has a letter defending McKenna from Rob Costello, a deputy AG, and Howard Fischer, a senior assistant AG:

The Washington attorney general and the men and women of the Attorney General’s Office who defend the state in lawsuit deserve a more balanced telling of the story regarding lawsuit payouts than they received in this Associated Press article.

They go on to blame it on the legislature that eliminated immunity to lawsuits…in 1961. I don’t think so. A non-immunity bill passed before Rob McKenna was conceived could be used to explain a higher lawsuit burden in Washington compared to states with immunity provisions, but not the three-fold increase under McKenna since he was elected in 2004.

But that isn’t what caught my eye. This is (emphasis added):

In 2004, as a candidate for attorney general, Rob McKenna promised to reduce lawsuits by seeking reforms to state liability laws. If any significant savings are to be achieved, this is absolutely the right place to look, and McKenna has consistently done so. He has worked to inform legislators and has repeatedly invited the Legislature to revisit and reform state tort laws. Every major proposal, however, was killed in committee.

Two points. First Rob McKenna didn’t keep his 2004 promise. He had grand ideas about what an agent of change he could be, and he engaged in some slick campaigning to let everyone know. But he failed to live up to his promises. Perhaps I am being unfair…I mean, McKenna didn’t have complete control over it. He had to work with the Legislature. On the other hand, he knew he would have to work with the Legislature when he made the promise.

The second point. McKenna failed to succeed in working with the Legislature. Keeping his promise required him to be highly skillful in working with the legislative and executive branches. It required him to go beyond being a slick campaigner to actually get something he promised done. He couldn’t and he didn’t. He failed as a politician.

And now he wants to be Governor?

Remember this when he makes slick promises that sound too good to be true.

Either he hasn’t thought through what he must do to make it happen, or he isn’t a skillful enough politician to see it through.

Live Blogging

Darryl and I have been doing some live blogging recently. Darryl has been on fire with the GOP Presidential debates, and I also did one of them. Mostly, I’ve been live blogging either events I’ve gone to as an activist or been invited to (or weaseled my way into) as a writer for this blog.

Recently, I’ve been influenced by this piece by Tim Wood. And while not everything about a sports blog applies to a politics blog, especially to the events where most of the readers aren’t able to follow along, there are some style things that are important.

There is an art to every format we use at Bleacher Report, but none more than the live blog. Done right, a live blog can be your ticket to a loyal following on B/R, because the live blog is the spot where you can most spotlight your personality.

You’re keeping readers up to date on the event, but more importantly, you’re giving the reader the feeling of watching it with you at a sports bar. You’re the buddy for the reader to interact with, so perspective and variety are two keys to keeping your readers interested.

I think change sports bar to watching the debate and you have a pretty good summation of Darryl covering the debates. For me, I think the most important thing is to put the updates below the older things. That way people just finding it half way through don’t have to scroll up and down a bit, then back up, and people can hit refresh from one point in, and be in the same spot. I try to remember to put times at the start of each update, but sometimes I forget. I’ve also made more of a point of going back and correcting grammar/punctuation/starting sentences that I don’t finish so it stands as something.

So, my question to you on this holiday shortened week, while most of you are perhaps still out with family: are these things you’d like to see more of? Less? Would you like advance warning? Would you like something different stylistically?

Very quick thoughts on new Congressional Districts

Darcy Burner gets her wish … and doesn’t.

Yes, her home is located in the 1st District. And yes, she’ll be in a no-incumbent CD. But no, it doesn’t much overlap with what had been Jay Inslee’s District. Most of it is what had been represented by Rick Larsen, who now has much of the former Inslee CD (and a safe Democratic seat).

I don’t know how most of the other 1st CD prospects made out.

Off the top of my head, I’d say that Marko Liias struck out … he’s almost surely in the new 2nd, and would have to face Larsen. I don’t know where in Snohomish Steve Hobbs lives. Suzan DelBene is now in the 9th District, with incumbent Adam Smith. The others — Goodman, Ruderman, and others — are still a mystery for me. [CORRECTIONS (12:51pm): If DelBene lives in Medina, she's actually in WA-01, not WA-09. Roger Goodman is definitely in WA-01. It's possible that Liias is now in WA-07, not WA-02 (either way, he's SOL).]

Yes, majority-minority, but …

The redrawn 9th Congressional District is “only” 49.67% non-Hispanic white. However, it already has a well-entrenched incumbent in Adam Smith. And, as I noted yesterday, the voters of the CD will be majority non-Hispanic white.

In terms of cojones, Ceis and Gorton fought to a draw.

It really depends on the new 1st District. They built five Democratic Districts: 2nd (Larsen), 6th (Dicks), 7th (McDermott), 9th (Smith), 10th (Thurston County-based, no incumbent). There are three, maybe four, Republican CDs: the 4th (Hastings), 5th (McMorris Rodgers), and 8th (Reichert) are solid red, and the 3rd (Herrera Beutler) might, but probably doesn’t, have a whisper of a chance for a Democrat to squeeze her out. The new 1st will be the battleground. In a Presidential year, Democratic chances up there probably improve a bit.

More thoughts as I get a better chance to review the maps.


Open Thread 12/28

- When I finally stopped talking, I exhaled. I’d finally told someone I was falling for my whole story. And I was afraid that my biggest fear would come true: Aaron would look at me differently. (h/t)

- We might be all redistricted out by the end of the day, but this vignette from the 1960′s was fascinating.

- Is anyone else but Erika surprised that she finds it more remarkable that she would defend Kim Kardashian than that she would defend child sweatshops? You shouldn’t be because one of the questions on the wingnut welfare eligibility exam is to write an essay explaining the benefits of child sweatshops, poll taxes and climate change.

- Those Ron Paul newsletters are really, really, really awful.

- I think the question about Edgar Martinez and what would his Hall of Fame case would look like if he’d been a terrible third baseman is interesting.

Drinking Liberally — Seattle

DLBottlePlease join us tonight for an end-of-the year evening of politics under the influence at the Seattle Chapter of Drinking Liberally.

We meet at the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue E. Starting time is 8:00 pm, but some folks will show up earlier for dinner.

Here’s what you need to know about Iowa:

Can’t make it to Seattle? There are also meetings tonight of the Tri-Cities chapter and the Bellingham chapter of Drinking Liberally. And tomorrow the Burien chapter meets. Also next Monday, there are meetings of the Olympia chapter, the Yakima chapter, and the South Bellevue chapter.

With 232 chapters of Living Liberally, including twelve in Washington state and six more in Oregon, chances are excellent there’s one near you.

BREAKING!!! Congressional Districts a-comin’…

OK, OK … so maybe the story doesn’t quite merit the BREAKING!!! headline. Still, it’s news that will turn out to be big for all Washingtonians, for a decade.

At this afternoon’s meeting of the Washington State Redistricting Commission, it was announced that (at long last) a proposed map of 10 Congressional Districts will be unveiled tomorrow. It’s possible that they’ll even be able to put the new map on the Commission website ahead of time.

We’ve been waiting for another CD iteration for well over three months, since each of the four Commissioners presented his own version way back on September 13. This new proposal was hammered out between the two political heavyweights on the Commission — Tim Ceis (D) and Slade Gorton (R). If those two uber-partisans can agree on a single map, it’s very, very likely that that’ll be the final plan from the WSRC.

I eagerly await the results, so that we can learn the outcomes of two important issues, discussed below.

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Kindles and iPads and crashes, oh my!

NY Times tech blogger Nick Bilton has a thorn up his ass about the FAA prohibitions on electronic devices during take-off and landing. Bilton just cannot understand why some pilots are now being allowed to use iPads in the cockpit for paper flight manuals but he cannot use his Kindle for the take-off and landing parts of the flight.

As it happens, this is one of Goldy’s pet peeves as well. Neither person seems to believe that electronic devices can affect flight safety during critical (take-off and landing) phases of flights. At least Goldy leaves it at complaining and denial. But not Nick Bilton.

Bilton decided to do something about it. You know, use science and technology to “prove” that electronic devices are safe.

What he did, however, amounts to horse shit. As I show below, Bilton, sets-up and then destroys a straw-man argument.
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HA Bible Study

Jeremiah 10:1-5
Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:

Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.

For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.

They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.

Discuss. And, um, Merry Christmas.

Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Thom with The Good, The Bad, and The Very, Very Ugly.

Robert A. Niblock, CEO of Lowe’s is, Worst Person in the World.

Greenman: .

Young Turks: Police departments use drones to spy on Americans.

WI Secretary of State Scott Fitzgerald confirms his role as Worst Person in the World.

Politifact Gets Their Facts Wrong:

Liberal Viewer: Detention without trial now in US law?

Young Turks: Hedge fund managers meet in secret with politicians.

Christmas goes Political:

Ed: Gov. Scott walker schooled by constituent on voter fraud.

Ann Telnaes: Shooting for Justice.

Thom: How Republicans, the Koch Bros & Walker could lose the right to vote.

Sam Seder: GOP lies, “Unemployment benefits encourage people not to work”.

The G.O.P. Christmas Massacre of 2011:

DADT just got its iconic image (via Slog).

Nutcase Ted Nugent crazies his way to Worst Person in the World.

White House: West Wing Week.

Alyona: Occupy the Iowa Caucus.

Young Turks: “Fetal personhood” initiative ruled misleading.

Thom with some more Good, Bad, and Very, Very Ugly.

The G.O.P. Primary Carnival:

Young Turks: Pat Robertson, “Gays should unacquire their sexuality.

Jonathan Mann: Corporations are not people!

Matthew Thornton III, senior vice president for U.S. operations at FedEx, is thrown into ring as Worst Person in the World.

Lawrence O’Donnell: Top 5 political videos of the year.

Sam Seder: Those kooky racist Texas College Republicans are at it again!

Young Turks: Strange Kim Jon il facts.

Last week’s Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza can be found here.