Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"Super South Seattle Mayor’s Forum @ SSCC-Georgetown" (with video)

West Seattle Blog with video (01:30:40):
The eight candidates are starting off answering a question about the moment when they decided to run for mayor.
7:06 PM: The wi-fi signal in here is intermittent, which is preventing reliable live-chronicling. So we’ll point you to Twitter for the rest of the way – look for hashtag #seamayor (can’t get a direct link right now but find it via our account at twitter.com/westseattleblog) MORE...
Howie P.S.: For me the star of the night was the moderator, C.R. Douglas.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

John Stewart on The Daily Show on Guns, NRA and the CIA (video)

Comedy Central (The Daily Show), video (32:07):
The Senate fails once again, John Oliver proves that gun control actually does work, and Mark Mazzetti sheds light on the CIA's secret wars.

"WATCH LIVE: 2013 White House Correspondents Dinner"

MEDIAite with video from whitehouse.gov:
Tonight, Saturday, April 27th, the 2013 White House Correspondents Dinner will be held at the Washington Hilton Hotel. This year’s host, Conan O’Brien, is returning to the event 18 years after he first emceed the event towards the end of President Bill Clinton’s first term. O’Brien and President Obama are both expected to deliver comedy monologues to the crowd, which will include some of the most powerful people in Washington, Hollywood and the media. /blockquote>

"Let Stephen Colbert’s Nerd Prom Speech Remind You Want Kind Of President George W. Bush Really Was" (with video)

Matt Wilstein (MEDIAite) with video (24:10):
It is somehow fitting that our week of all George W. Bush, all the time is ending with the 2013 White House Correspondents Dinner. Because, while he spent the whole week basking in the glow of polite revisionist history, it was seven years ago on the dais of that event that Stephen Colbert delivered the definitive dismantling of our 43rd president, while he was sitting just a few feet away. MORE...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

"President Obama Speaks on Common-Sense Measures to Reduce Gun Violence" (video)

whitehouse, video (18:20):
President Obama makes a statement from the Rose Garden following the Senate's vote to block common-sense measures to reduce gun violence. April 17, 2013.
Howie P.S.: The money quote from Obama: "A shameful day for Washington."

"A Senate in the Gun Lobby’s Grip"

 Gabrielle Giffords (NY Times, op-ed):
SENATORS say they fear the N.R.A. and the gun lobby. But I think that fear must be nothing compared to the fear the first graders in Sandy Hook Elementary School felt as their lives ended in a hail of bullets. The fear that those children who survived the massacre must feel every time they remember their teachers stacking them into closets and bathrooms, whispering that they loved them, so that love would be the last thing the students heard if the gunman found them. MORE...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

(Updated) WA: "4/13/13-Auctioning off an assault rifle to raise money?" (with video)

UPDATE: Natasha Chart has come up with the word to describe this: "Gunsturbating.'

E-mail from Jaxon Ravens (Executive Director-Washington State Democrats) with video (00:18):
I guess we know how the Washington State Republican Party feels about gun violence. This weekend at their annual Gala Auction and Dinner, the Washington State Republicans actually auctioned off an AR-15 style assault rifle. This is the same type of killing machine used in Newtown, CT and Aurora, CO. 1 2 Republicans wonder why they have trouble connecting with suburban, independent, and moderate voters. They wonder why they haven’t sat in the governor’s office since 1985. It’s because of actions like this. This is nothing less than a slap in the face to all Washington families who fear gun violence. Click here send the message to the Washington State Republican Party: Washington voters support common-sense steps to reduce gun violence. It is more important than ever that we hear your voice on gun violence. The United State Senate will vote today on legislation calling for expanded background checks. Even though 90 percent of Americans support expanded background checks, the bill faces an uphill battle. 3 4 Gun control has also faced obstacles on the state level. Expanded background checks failed to pass out of the Washington State House in Olympia this session. 5 But gun control advocates aren’t giving up. They are gearing up for an initiative on background checks that may appear on the ballot in 2014. We need to start building momentum now. 6 The Washington State Democratic Party stands by common-sense steps to reduce gun violence, like expanded background checks. Click here and join us today. Thank you,
1 2 3 4 5 6

Friday, April 12, 2013

WA: "State Tax Knife May Slice Amazon, Microsoft"

Renee Butler (TheStreet.com):
Washington is a near-mythical state, where the trees tower higher than most buildings, pot is legal, and beaches or state parks are omnipresent. The state also offers another big reason people choose to live there: taxes, or rather a lack thereof. In the state of Washington, residents don't pay state income taxes and companies don't pay corporate income taxes. As for companies, they're required to pay a gross receipts tax that's fairly low -- 0.13% to 3.3%. The state also offers a variety of other tax breaks for corporations, making it a popular spot for companies to be headquartered, especially those in technology. Point in fact, Amazon (AMZN) and Microsoft (MSFT) both call Washington state home. Gov. Jay Inslee is proposing to cut the tax break on business and occupation taxes by 25%. Granted, Inslee's efforts are all part of a bid to patch together the more than $1.5 billion deficit projected for the budget ending in mid-2015 and respond effectively to a Washington Supreme Court ruling that the state isn't contributing enough to public education -- but he seems to have invoked a much broader reaction. However, that could all be changing. MORE...

"Michelle Obama: “Hadiya Pendleton Was Me" (with video)

Abby Ohlheiser (Slate with video (01:13):
Citing the death of Chicago teenager Hadiya Pendleton, killed days after performing at Obama's inauguration, Michelle Obama entered the gun violence debate today in a speech to Chicago business leaders.
The First Lady's most quotable line of the day resonates with her husband's remarks following the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida. Michelle Obama, who grew up in the South Side of Chicago, said “Hadiya Pendleton was me, and I was her,” adding:
"But I got to grow up and go to Princeton and Harvard Law School and have a career and family and the most blessed life I could ever imagine. And Hadiya? Oh we know that story. Just a week after she performed at my husband's inauguration, she went to a park with some friends, and got shot in the back. Because some kid thought she was in a gang. Hadiya's family did everything right, but she still didn't have a chance. And that story, the story of Hadiya's life and death, we read that story day after day, month after month, year after year In this city and around this country. I'm not talking about something that's happening in a war zone halfway around the world. I'm talking about what's happening in the city we call home. The city where we're raising our kids."
Michelle Obama attended Pendleton's funeral in February. After her speech Wednesday, the First Lady went to Harper High School, where 29 current and former students have been shot in the past year. Recently, the school was the subject of a two-part This American Life story that examined daily life amid Chicago's gun violence.

Although the First Lady's speech emphasized sustained community responses to combat endemic gun violence, the first lady's Chicago trip was not without reference to the president's effort to reform the country's gun control laws in the wake of the Connecticut elementary school shootings. The White House has been pushing hard on gun control legislation this week. On Monday, the President spoke in Connecticut, standing with family members of Newtown shooting victims. Those family members were in Washington on Tuesday lobbying for gun control reform, which will likely face its first vote in Congress on Thursday.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

"Social Security: Can Democrats Save Obama From Himself?"

Robert Kuttner (alternet.org):
The plan to cut Social Security will destroy any hope of recovery. ---President Obama picked the very day that new job creation collapsed to propose a deflationary budget deal featuring cuts in Social Security and Medicare. This is perverse economics and worse politics, on several grounds. MORE...
Howie P.S.: I'm sure you noticed, but just in case: The "Professional Left" is not happy.

Monday, April 08, 2013

"Diaz Retiring Is Great for the City and McGinn, But the Leadership Vacuum at SPD Is Enormous"

THE PEOPLE LEFT BEHIND THE CHIEF: In front is retiring chief John Diaz. Behind him from left to right are police union president Rich O'Neill, Deputy Chief Nick Metz, police disciplinarian Kathryn Olson, new interim chief Jim Pugel, and Mayor Mike McGinn. 

Dominic Holden (SLOG):
A lot will be made of Seattle police chief John Diaz leaving just as the mayor's race heats up. For his part, Diaz nervously scratched his upper arm this afternoon as he told reporters that he's retiring, not because he's an albatross in the mayor's reelection campaign, but because "this is the time to go." Despite a notoriously bumpy three years, he's helped cast a reforms in a court settlement, seen through innovations for handling nonviolent crimes, and helped hush the city's crime rate to a 55-year low. "I don't leave from a fight," he said. But when Diaz steps down in the next 45 days, he will leave behind a leadership vacuum much larger than his position—a vacuum that he helped created while was in the job—but one that was particularly evident by looking at the people standing right behind him. MORE...

(Updated) "Seattle Police Chief John Diaz steps down amid use of force order"

UPDATE: From the Seattle Times story:
“He had a quiet leadership style that can be both very effective and ineffective,” Councilmember Bruce Harrell said this morning.

SEATTLE — Seattle Police Chief John Diaz is stepping down as his department faces a court order to address issues involving use of excessive force by officers.
The disclosure came Monday after difficult negotiations led the Police Department to enter a court agreement with the federal Justice Department last summer to address concerns that officers were too quick to use force.
Diaz has been criticized for his leadership style.
City Councilman Tim Burgess, who is running for mayor, said Diaz was too slow to adopt new strategies for preventing crime and to embrace the changes sought by the federal agency.
Burgess had said he would fire Diaz if elected.
Diaz is a 33-year veteran and the department's first minority chief.
“This has been a profession that I truly believe in,” he said during a news conference. His retirement goes into in effect in May.
Assistant Chief Jim Pugel will be named interim chief, according to Diaz.

"Newtown families voice support for gun control" (with video)

CBS News with video (14:19):
"Newtown" is now synonymous with unimaginable tragedy. But many of the families who suffered through it call it something else,"12/14," the December day that they lost a son, daughter, or wife when a dark young man with dark dreams awoke, murdered his mother and drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School. More from parents of Newtown victims Nearly four months later, just last week, Connecticut passed a gun control law that expands background checks and limits ammunition magazines to 10 rounds. Tomorrow, these families will push for the same in Washington. They believe that their only chance is to keep the resonance of that date ringing. Something else we noticed about "12/14," add them together, and you get 26, the number of lives lost at Sandy Hook. MORE...

WA: "For Regulators, Marijuana Legalization All About 'Getting Into The Weeds'" (with audio)

Austin Jenkins (Oregon Public Radio) with audio (05:53):
SEATTLE – When Washington voters legalized recreational marijuana last fall, they handed the state’s Liquor Control Board a regulatory nightmare. There’s no manual for how to create a safe and legal market for pot – something that’s never been done before. State Representative Roger Goodman – speaking after a recent meeting on marijuana legalization – says the giggle factor is gone. “Initiative 502 largely is about making marijuana boring. Because who cares about all this detail, technical, regulatory stuff," he said. "Well that’s what it’s all about is to get down into the weeds so to speak.” No pun intended. Inside a secret location in the Georgetown neighborhood of south Seattle, Brent Miller shows off a dark room. It’s called a "bloom room" full of maturing marijuana plants. “This is just when they’re asleep," Miller says. "We run them 12 hours on 12 hour off. Twelve hours of daylight – under thousand watt grow lights – followed by 12 hours of nighttime – for eight to nine weeks until the buds are ready to harvest. Miller grows pot for a large medical marijuana cooperative in the Seattle area. He’s invited a group of representatives from the Washington Liquor Control Board to see his operation. Among them: Mike Steenhout a former state budget analyst. Steenhout heads the Liquor Board’s research team. His full-time job these days is to learn the marijuana business – from seed to market – inside and out. He wanted to come here to see how they grow healthy plants. He peppers grower Brent Miller with a list of concerns. “Of course pesticides, pest control, mold control, what kind of fungicides, herbicides, pesticides, trying to learn more about that. I’ve noticed a lot of folks take a completely organic approach. Because that’s going to be kind of a challenging issue.” Under I-502, Washington’s Liquor Control Board will have to write the rules on everything from proper pesticide application to how to recall contaminated marijuana products. “Ultimately it’s about quality assurance is what I’m looking at,” says Steenhout. Let’s take just one of the thornier issues. In the marijuana business it’s common to use solvents like Butane to extract THC from the buds and leaves of pot plants. Jim Andersen of a company called XTracted admits he did this illegally for years. Now he does it for the medical marijuana industry. Done right, Butane extraction produces high-potency hash. Done wrong and you can trigger an explosion or produce a solvent-laced final product. The Liquor Control Board staff has come here to learn how Andersen safeguards against both problems. In another room he proudly pulls out a wax paper covered sheet of the extracted product. “Can you smell that aroma?” he asks. It smells like very powerful marijuana. And it is. This oily, yellow smear – picture a very thin cow pie – is Butane-produced Hash Oil or BHO. This particular strain is called “Plushberry.” Anderson says the THC level in this stuff is nearly 80 percent – that’s really high. In its final form it’s often smoked or vapor inhaled. Andersen hopes the Liquor Control Board writes strict rules for extracting THC out of the marijuana. He says in the illegal market people sometimes use lighter fluid – they call it blasting tubes. He adds any product headed to the legal market needs to be tested for residual solvent. “Every time, whether you are a back yard tuber blowing it and blasting it or you’re a professional extracting company above board, you need to have testing period,” Anderson insists. That’s where marijuana testing labs come in. In Seattle’s University District, the Liquor Control Board staff is treated to a PowerPoint horror show – under-the-microscope pictures of things you don’t want in your pot. “We have a mite here, which is not uncommon and some remains of mites,“ says Randy Oliver. He is with a Cannabis lab called Analytical 360. “Another problem that we see is there’s a lot of mold you can imagine here in Washington.” Mites and molds are not the half of it. There are all the food borne pathogens the people who handle the marijuana can leave behind – like E. Coli. Oliver’s lab tests for those dangers too. But he says just like in the food business there’s no replacement for strict handling and processing rules – whether the marijuana eventually ends up in a pipe, a brownie or a liquid drop you place under your tongue. “You know cleanliness is really critically here," Oliver says. "The equipment has to be clean, the facilities have to be clean and everything needs to be documented properly.” The problem is there are no national standards for lab testing marijuana. Mike Steenhout of the Liquor Board calls it the Wild, Wild West. And it’s not like he’s getting help from the FDA – marijuana is still a no-no at the federal level. So Steenhout and his colleagues have to build the regulatory structure for legal marijuana from the ground up. They’ve hired a team of consultants and will borrow from the rulebooks for places like commercial kitchens. At the end of a long day I ask Steenhout if this is daunting, complicated, overwhelming? “I’d use all of those words," he replies. "It’s like an onion. Every time that we pull a layer off there’s just another layer of complexity and information to learn. It’s immensely challenging. It’s by far the most complex thing I’ve very encountered.” In the end, the Washington State Liquor Control Board will have to balance the need to regulate this new industry against the cost of doing so. As the state’s new pot consultant says: it’s a goldilocks problem. Too much regulation will drive up the price of legal marijuana and encourage a black market. Too little and unsafe pot will reach consumers.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

"The No. 1 coffee shop in America" is WHERE!?!? (with slideshow)

The No. 1 coffee shop in America, according to The Daily Meal? It wasn't in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco or other any city known for fancy coffee. Ultimo Coffee in Philadelphia won the crown for best coffee shop. It was praised for its pour-over drips, niche coffee roasts and a refreshing lack of snobbery that sometimes comes with high-end coffee talk.
Howie P.S.: I'm surprised Mr. Goldstein isn't All Over this. If you want to see their list of "Best coffee shops in Seattle" you will find it at the link above.

"Connecticut Governor Eviscerates NRA Boss While Laying Into CNN’s Crowley" (with video)

Garrett Quinn (MEDIAite with video from CNN):
After passing some of the toughest new gun laws in the nation, Connecticut Governor Dannell Malloy took to the airwaves to trash the NRA and others that oppose background checks. “Wayne reminds me of the clowns at the circus. They get the most attention and that’s what he’s paid to do,” Malloy said referring NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre on State Of The Union. Malloy expressed frustration with how the gun that was used in the Sandy Hook massacre was legally purchased in hist state before continuing to trash LaPierre. “This guy is so out of whack, it’s unbelievable. 92% of the American people want universal background checks. I can’t get on a plane as the governor of the state of Connecticut without somebody running a background check on me. Why should you be able to buy a gun?” Malloy pleaded with host Candy Crowley to bring NRA officials that are against gun background checks “back to reality” on her program. Malloy went further and chided Crowley for not being tough enough on gun rights advocates. “You’re asking me about whether everyone should carry a gun and that’s the road to safety when in fact it is not,” said Malloy. MORE...

WA: "Medical question mark for state’s pot market"

 "In Washington’s marijuana policy hothouse, where views are balkanized, pot advocates are divided about what — if anything — needs to be done about medical weed."

 Bob Young (Seattle Times):
In a nondescript Seattle building, with a strip-mall Starbucks across the street, dozens of marijuana plants sway under electric fans in 79.5-degree warmth, their limbering, strength-building version of hot yoga. To some this is a garden of Eden, full of healing plants that will be sold in the medical-marijuana dispensary out front. To others in the strange new world of regulated, taxed recreational pot, medical marijuana has become a threat, a rival dealer, an enemy of the state. The state’s pot consultant, Mark Kleiman, says competition from medical marijuana could easily undercut the recreational system the state is trying to create, siphoning away millions in potential taxes. MORE...

Friday, April 05, 2013

Melber: "Republicans may be winning the sequester press war – but the framework is all wrong" (video)

MSNBC-The Cycle, video (03:52):
Ari Melber explains why, despite media reports that Republicans are winning the sequester, the narrators aren’t the ones feeling the crunch of the crises – the audience is.
Howie P.S.: Ari busts out a few Seattle nuggets at the end of the clip.

"Poll: Should Washington stop bars from allowing pot usage?" (with slide show)

Jake Ellison (seattlepi.com):
News that a couple of bars in Olympia and Tacoma were allowing customers to smoke marijuana caught the attention of state leaders and inspired them to demand a crackdown on the activity.
The state Liquor Control Board has been quick to respond. Earlier this week the board said it wouldn’t stand for it, and today the board announced it was taking the first step in creating new rules that would ban the practice for establishments that sell liquor.
The board is now open to public comment until May 10 on its proposal “to create a new rule to prohibit marijuana consumption at liquor licensed premises.” After the comment period, the board will write the new rule, publish it and seek more comment on it.
“It is important that the Board clarify now that consuming marijuana in a state liquor-licensed establishment is not acceptable,” Board Chair Sharon Foster said in a press release. “Public consumption of marijuana is clearly illegal under Washington’s new law.”
What’s the problem?
On the one hand, Initiative 502 sought to stop this kind of thing before it got started with rules that seemed to pretty clearly prohibit the public consumption of any marijuana. However, the activity in those two bars just barely slipped through an unforeseen loophole.
The Associated Press reported the bars were trying to “get around the ban on public use of marijuana by having ‘private rooms’ with a nominal membership fee required for entrance” or “by allowing only the vaporizing of marijuana — a method that involves heating marijuana without burning it.”
From The Associated Press story:
The upstairs marijuana bar at the Stonegate is run by Michael Schaef’s Greenlight Expo, a medical marijuana dispensary. Medical marijuana patients can buy cannabis at the bar, but others have to bring their own and rent a vaporizer or pay to have one prepared for them.
“What the board has to understand is that people have always been mixing alcohol and cannabis,” Schaef said. “If they don’t allow this, what we are doing is forcing people to break the law by sneaking to some dark area to do it.”
Jeff Call, the Stonegate’s owner, agreed.
“They’re just going to go out to the alley or their car,” he said. “It seems like the board wants to steer it toward having separate pot clubs. You’re just going to have pot clubs spring up next to liquor bars, and people are going to be going next door and then coming back over to the bar.”
Also, state officials (Gov. Jay Inslee, for one) are doing their dead-level best to keep the feds from suing the state to stop implementation of I-502 by creating rules and enforcement that will keep marijuana in the state and its use out of sight.
What do you think?
Should the state stop all marijuana consumption in bars?
  • No – some use should be allowed (69%, 142 Votes)
  • Yes – all uses (31%, 64 Votes)
Total Voters: 206

"Obama’s Dangerous Game"

Josh Marshall (TPM):
In conversations with the president’s key advisors and the President himself over the last three years one point that has always come out to me very clearly is that the President really believes in the importance of the Grand Bargain. He thinks it’s an important goal purely on its own terms. That’s something I don’t think a lot of his diehard supporters fully grasp. He thinks it’s important in longrange fiscal terms (and there’s some reality to that). But he always believes it’s important for the country and even for the Democratic party to have a big global agreement that settles the big fiscal policy for a generation and let’s the country get on to other issues — social and cultural issues, the environment, building the economy etc. This has always struck me as a very questionable analysis of the where the country is politically and what it needs. But I put it forward because I don’t think these moves can really be understood outside of this context. MORE...

Thursday, April 04, 2013

"America's Best Coffee Shops Slideshow"

The Daily Meal:
30. Zoka Coffee, Seattle
Another roaster and shop in Seattle, Zoka has been a staple of the coffee scene since it opened in 1996. With carefully sourced, small-batch roasts (two have been top finishers in the Cup of Excellence awards) and an impressive lineup of teas, Zoka draws in residents for its atmosphere and customer service. Its four locations in Washington (Zoka has additional locations in Tokyo as well) have something for everyone — and it's known for being laptop-friend

17. Victrola Coffee, Seattle
The coffee shop on 15th Avenue has been called "the living room of Capitol Hill" — which makes us wish our own living rooms were filled with Victrola coffees, coffeehouse conversations, and a homegrown Arabica coffee tree. (Seriously, its own coffee bean tree!) Victrola, a staple on the Seattle coffee scene since 2000, ranked highly not only for its quality coffee but also for the atmosphere and customer service at each of its three cafés. Stop by the roastery and café for cuppings and a light, sunny coffeehouse vibe; head to Victrola Coffee and Art on 15th for a quirky atmosphere filled with art openings and neighborhood events; and stop by the Beacon Hill location for a neighborly feel. The company is named for the popular phonograph of the 20th century, and owner Dan Ollis has compared the era of the 1920s with the era of coffeehouses today. Said Ollis in an interview with CoffeeTalk magazine, "We believe that Jazz was about innovation and the creation of something new. We find the parallel in our connection to people at our coffee shops — a comfortable social place, interestingly eclectic music, unique and great coffee, great people, great conversations, and finding how they all connect. Our innovation comes from roasting and blending these unique coffees with the same passion for excellence as those Jazz musicians from the past."

12. Milstead&Co., Seattle
Owner Andrew Milstead has been praised for taking the most difficult approach to the coffee shop model — the multiroaster model — and excelling at it. That means Milstead balances a slew of different roasters, from roasters as big as Stumptown to as small as Heart Roasters in Portland, Ore., to put forth the best coffee possible — and that’s not always as easy as it looks. Writes Jordan Michelman in Seattle Met, "Coffee professionals regard the multiroaster model as the most difficult to pull off. It’s akin to a chef who works with different purveyors from week to week, a bartender who never sticks to the same base bourbon, or a band that plays a different set every night. The target is always moving, the parameters steadily shifting." But it's Milstead’s dedication to the coffees he serves that makes it rank so highly on our list for its quality. With more than 30 different coffees on the menu to sample at a time, you’ll never get a better education about coffee than at Milstead & Co. Stop by for a single-origin espresso or an Aeropress or Clever drip coffee, and consider yourself schooled in the art of coffee. Said Milstead in an interview with Seattle Coffee Gear, when explaining why they don’t serve Venti-sized coffees or decaf coffee, "We’re doing things a little differently… we’re totally quality coffee-focused. The coffees that we have are of the utmost quality and intended to be enjoyed on their own… and we seem to have a basic clientele that seems to enjoy coffee on its own."
Howie P.S.: This concludes the list of Seattle shops listed in the Top 33.

Seattle Kid Gets His Really HUGE Big Break: "Return Of Mr. Nice Guy: MSNBC’s Ari Melber Talks To Mediaite About Rebranding Political Talk"

Noah Rothman (MEDIAite):
MSNBC newest host, Ari Melber, has worn many hats on his way to becoming a prominent political analyst. From a practicing lawyer, to an investigative reporter and editor, to the latest addition to MSNBC’s The Cycle, Melber has carved out a niche as a left-of-center political analyst who skillfully presents controversial opinions and issues in a fashion that does not alienate his opponents. Melber sat down with Mediaite to discuss his approach to political commentary – an approach which has resulted in a relatively speedy rise to prominence.

Mediaite asked Melber about his good-natured approach to political dialogue which stands out in an increasingly acerbic cable news-talk landscape.
“I think politics is always about dialogue,” Melber told Mediaite. “I think journalism ranges from dialogue to monologue, and there are times when different poles are necessary. But if you’re serious about engaging a wide range of views from people who agree with you on most things to people who disagree with you on most things, then you want to be respectful and approachable as possible without giving up your core beliefs.”
But does Melber’s intentional withholding of the red meat that other cable news hosts regularly serve up frustrate his audience? Melber said that he almost never gets criticized for being too deferential to those who do not share his political philosophy. “When I get serious criticism – if I get serious criticism – it’s about how I’m thinking and engaging in a topic,” he noted. “I can’t think of an example of someone saying ‘you’re too nice.’”
“I think the challenge for anyone in a visible industry, whether it’s media, government, or political organizing, is to take serious criticism seriously, and not to live in the shadows of the noise and the concern trolls,” added Melber.
RELATED: MSNBC Officially Welcomes Ari Melber As The Newest Member Of The Cycle
One could be forgiven for thinking that being a television host is a dramatic change from his previous role as either a practicing lawyer or an investigative reporter. Melber informed us that those roles are not only similar but complimentary.
“Good lawyering is usually cerebral and impersonally,” he said. “You can convince a judge with a mastery of facts, detail, and precedent – not a story from the gut about how you feel a certain way.”
“I think good political journalism is rooted in facts and precedent, but it swings for feeling,” Melber observed. “Facts without feeling don’t get you very far. Feelings without facts can send you far in the wrong direction.”
Melber said, however, that much of the criticism the media is subject to in the modern era comes from what he calls the “understandable concern” that the media has fallen out of touch with the core needs of their audience and the civil society of which they are a part.
[There is a] lot of data that suggests public thinks congress and DC is broken and the economy isn’t working for most people. Broadly, we see times when press covers boundaries of Washington as if that’s the boundaries of public debate. The White House tours is a big issue, but public housing and the sequester’s impact is not. Too much of the media’s focus is on the Washington conversation over the impact on people lives is a problem.
Much of Melber’s focus on how politics in Washington affects the lives of average citizens can be traced back to what Melber considers a defining moment in his political maturation.
“When the New York Times reported the depth of the warrantless surveillance of American citizens that was occurring under the past administration — and has been supported by this administration in the expansion of the national security state – that was one turning point where I remember, before reading that, I didn’t think the political system would go along with something that so fundamentally contravenes the Constitution,” Melber revealed. “I remember feeling like, ‘wow, okay, the accountability checks aren’t working.’
“I think, for many of us regardless of your political party, when we saw what was happening, we said ‘that’s not us. That’s not America,’” he continued.
Melber said that he is deeply indebted to the production staffers who work tirelessly behind the scenes at MSNBC to create the polished production that viewers enjoy at home. He added that he is awed on a daily basis by the scope of the mission before of him, and of the accomplishments of the people who once strode the halls he walks today.
“From the top down, this is an organization that is committed to fact-finding and excellent news reporting, and it deploy journalists around the world who put themselves at risk,” Melber said of the historic institution that is NBC News. “The media’s political echo chamber focuses on certain parts more than others, but what most impresses me – and as anyone in this building will know – are the memorials for all the journalists who died while reporting. You cannot look at that and think about what that means without getting a strong perspective for where you fit in.”
In the political commentary space which MSNBC occupies, Melber added that his employer deserves credit for expanding the definition of what was thought to be a successful model for cable news.
“MSNBC has been given a lot of well-deserved acclaim for expanding what is possible in terms of political policy and intellectual discourse in the country,” Melber said. He noted that his network performs “deep analysis of federal and state policy that rivals anything else on TV. Period.”
Like his predecessor, Steve Kornacki, Melber will certainly add to MSNBC’s most unpredictable show with his own brand of civil, informative and analytical commentary.
Howie P.S.: Mr. Melber attended Garfield High School (like my daughter) and worked on the student newspaper there (like my daughter),   Jus' sayin'---or Full Disclosure, if you prefer.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

WA: "Washington’s tax code is so full of holes it’s a doily"

Jonathan Martin (Seattle Times, op-ed):
Gov. Jay Inslee took off in the summer-in-spring sun last weekend for a long ride to Centralia on his vintage Cinelli road bike. It probably was a good time to be out of town. His $1.2 billion education funding plan released last week makes him, by design, a political target. As he explained in the governor’s office this week, he intended to have “cleared space for legislators” to find a viable path toward more education funding. “They now have $1.2 billion of room to maneuver,” said Inslee. “I think leadership does involve getting out ahead of the curve on occasion, and that may be where we are. It’s the proper role for a governor.” To borrow a baseball metaphor, Inslee deserves credit for framing the strike zone. MORE...

"GongZilla!!" (with audio)