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Archives for 01/20/2008 - 01/26/2008

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Archery and Ungulates

posted by on January 26 at 11:45 PM

Jonah was looking for a place to play Big Buck Hunter earlier. Damn, I should have invited him over for dinner. My housemate Mary, you see, her father and brother hunt deer. And they recently offered to share their meaty harvest. It’s a tempting offer. Ever since I read Diet for New America as a teenager, I’ve felt pretty bad about eating store-bought meat. Eating wild deer seems more humane—at least they run free before being gunned down. However, I’d never eaten venison, let alone prepared it. But then Mary—a vegetarian, like the rest of my roommates—told me how her family actually hunts the deer: with a bow and arrow. Send it over.

Three white paper packages stamped “Not For Sale” arrived in my kitchen, and tonight I invited my mom and some friends over to devour the big, antlered rodent. Slicing through the raw round-steak, the tight fibers verified this was not lazy cattle from a corral, but a forest creature that darted from wolves and leapt over creeks. The scent of animal blood was everywhere. I marinated the cuts in Côtes du Rhône, seared them brown, and braised them in beef stock and more wine. Bambi tasted like free-range Jesus.


Clockwise from bottom: Braised venison round steak topped with a cranberry-port relish with blanched citrus zest; a mix of caramelized onions wheels, Portobello mushrooms, shallots, cherry tomatoes, and, thank you, O great pig-Lord, bacon; a gratin of organic Russet potatoes and gruyere; arugula and D’Anjou pear salad in a lemon, shallot, and mint vinaigrette. Wines, from me mum’s native Australia, brought by me mum: St. Hallett Shiraz, 2002, from Barossa Valley; Lindemans Pyrus, 2000, Cabernet, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, from Coonawarra. Big buck hunting, indeed.

Recipe after the jump.

Continue reading "Archery and Ungulates" »

To Arms, Kate Harding! To Flabby Arms!

posted by on January 26 at 8:24 PM

The fat-acceptance community is going to have a stroke when they get a load of this editorial in the Independent: “Let adult fatties eat themselves to death. The kids we can save.” The government in the UK has declared war on obesity—they’re less tolerant than our government, you see, because they have national health care, and it’s more expensive to provide a nation of obese people with health care. The government is talking vouchers for health centers, warning stickers on junk food, and paying people to lose weight. Janet Street-Porter isn’t having it:

At the moment around a quarter of all adults are classified as obese, and if the level continues to grow the burden on the NHS will be considerable. New ideas include better food labelling, a £75m advertising campaign to promote healthy diet and exercise, and more cycle lanes. The NHS website will also offer personalised advice about what to eat and how to exercise.

There’s some way to go: an episode of Dispatches on Channel 4 the other week looked at why people think they are obese—the reasons offered by the Mr and Mrs Blobbies filmed were patently risible—ranging from thinking it was “genetic” to “glandular.” One family claimed to eat a healthy diet but a secret camera filmed mum stuffing food into her mouth with both hands while walking….

I’ve said it before, and still the Government seems reluctant to acknowledge, that by the time a child is 10 the war on a trim waistline is won or lost—and that is where, if we are going to fight a “war” we have to direct all our efforts to teach all kids to cook, understand nutrition and be able to shop sensibly before they leave primary school. Instead of government targets of a paltry two hours’ physical exercise a week, kids should have an hour every day, achieved by walking to school or playing sport at lunchtimes.

The number of adults who manage to lose weight and keep it off permanently is very small. Waving vouchers or promising cash as an incentive is doomed to failure. It would be better to abandon the current generation of fatties and pour all resources into ensuring that the next ones grow up fit.

Sheesh. Janet makes my positively polite comments about obesity look… well, just a positively polite as they were all along, doesn’t she?

Islam Means Peace

posted by on January 26 at 7:51 PM

Not all Muslims are planning to blow up subway trains… but it sure seems like everyone planning to blow up subway trains these days is a Muslim.

Dear Slog

posted by on January 26 at 6:46 PM

I need your help. I’m on a mission to play Big Buck Hunter tonight, and the machines at the two bars I’ve been to are broken. Help me, Sloggy-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.

South Carolina Results

posted by on January 26 at 3:47 PM


Live from Mexico. Results coming soon…

In the meantime, Ambinder has these tea leaves:

**Clinton’s en route to Tennessee…. **Cable nets know who won and by how much …can barely contain the news… **ABC News: More than half of voters in SC are black… Early exit polls analyzed by CBS News show that the economy was the major issue for more than half of voters….. **57% say Bill Clinton’s campaigning was important in determining their vote **53% of voters wanted change, versus 24% who wanted a president who cared about them, versus 14% who wanted a president with experience ** Independents about 23% of the electorate

UPDATE: And now, some leaked exit polling:

Per the network/AP early exit poll results:

African-Americans: Obama 81%, Clinton 17%, Edwards 1%

African-American women: Obama 82%, Clinton 17%, Edwards 0%

Whites: Edwards 39%, Clinton 36%, Obama 24%

Edwards winning white men, Clinton white women.

UPDATE: Via The Caucus:

7 p.m. | Polls Close The polls just closed and CNN, the networks and the Associated Press call it instantly for Barack Obama.

UPDATE: MSNBC on the delegates at stake and the turnout:

South Carolina’s primary offered 45 Democratic National Convention delegates, as well as the campaign’s first indication of Obama’s political appeal in a state with a large black population.

Interviews with voters as they left their polling places indicated about half the electorate was black…

Roughly half the voters said former President Clinton’s campaigning for his wife was very important to their choice.

Which suggests that Bill Clinton’s South Carolina tactics backfired big-time.

UPDATE: And how does Bill Clinton spin this? Well, today he was pre-spinning it this way:

In a chat with reporters today in Columbia, Bill Clinton was asked what it said about Mr. Obama that it “took two people to beat him,” a reference to Mr. Clinton’s running with his wife.

“That’s’ just bait, too,” Mr. Clinton said. “Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice, in ‘84 and ‘88. And he ran a good campaign. Senator Obama’s run a good campaign here, he’s run a good campaign everywhere.”

This is being widely interpreted by TV pundits as further evidence that Mr. Clinton is trying to marginalize Mr. Obama’s win in South Carolina.


Too close to call between Hillary and Edwards, CNN reports.

That might explain why Hillary resorted to anti-Edwards robocalls at the last minute.

UPDATE: More on what voters thought of all the South Carolina attacks:

In the exit polls, we asked voters in this primary if the candidates were attacking each other unfairly. Fifty-six percent of those voting so far think Obama attacked Clinton unfairly, and while that is a high number, more people thought Clinton unfairly attacked Obama — 70%.

UPDATE: Obama will give a victory speech at 9 p.m. EST.

UPDATE: Clinton projected to get second place, with Edwards third.

UPDATE: Hillary Clinton puts out a statement, in which she looks ahead to Florida (a state whose delegates don’t count) and the Feb. 5 states.

I have called Senator Obama to congratulate him and wish him well.

Thank you to the people of South Carolina who voted today and welcomed me into their homes over the last year. Your stories will stay with me well beyond this campaign and I am grateful for the support so many of you gave to me.

We now turn our attention to the millions of Americans who will make their voices heard in Florida and the twenty-two states as well as American Samoa who will vote on February 5th.

In the days ahead, I’ll work to give voice to those who are working harder than ever to be heard. For those who have lost their job or their home or their health care, I will focus on the solutions needed to move this country forward. That’s what this election is about. It’s about our country, our hopes and dreams. Our families and our future.

UPDATE: Is America ready for a black president? Some interesting findings from the exit polls:

7:58 p.m. | Is America Ready? More than half of black voters in S.C. consider the country definitely ready for a black president, while white voters are less sure. Only a about a quarter of white voters surveyed said the country is definitely ready for a black president and 45 percent said the country is probably ready, according to the exit polls.

Here’s another interesting tidbit from the exit polls: Only about 40 percent of whites who said the country is definitely ready for a black president actually voted for Mr. Obama. What was going on with those other 60 percent? Some may think the country is ready for a black man but supported Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Edwards for other reasons, but some may have been afraid to tell pollsters that they did not think the country was ready. Either way, the Clinton and Edwards campaigns will be looking to those voters as we turn to Feb. 5.

UPDATE: John F. Kennedy’s daughter endorses Obama.

UPDATE: Obama is about to speak. I’m livestreaming it here.

UPDATE: Another powerful speech from Obama. He hit his themes of unity and hope, as usual, but he also hit the Clintons—hard.

After four great contests in every corner of this country, we have the most votes, the most delegates, and the most diverse coalition of Americans we’ve seen in a long, long time…

But… Make no mistake about what we’re up against.

We are up against the belief that it’s ok for lobbyists to dominate our government - that they are just part of the system in Washington. But we know that the undue influence of lobbyists is part of the problem, and this election is our chance to say that we’re not going to let them stand in our way anymore.

We are up against the conventional thinking that says your ability to lead as President comes from longevity in Washington or proximity to the White House. But we know that real leadership is about candor, and judgment, and the ability to rally Americans from all walks of life around a common purpose - a higher purpose.

We are up against decades of bitter partisanship that cause politicians to demonize their opponents instead of coming together to make college affordable or energy cleaner; it’s the kind of partisanship where you’re not even allowed to say that a Republican had an idea - even if it’s one you never agreed with. That kind of politics is bad for our party, it’s bad for our country, and this is our chance to end it once and for all.

We are up against the idea that it’s acceptable to say anything and do anything to win an election. We know that this is exactly what’s wrong with our politics; this is why people don’t believe what their leaders say anymore; this is why they tune out. And this election is our chance to give the American people a reason to believe again.

That’s it for my blogging of these results. Obama’s full speech—well worth a read for its multiple digs at the Clintons and its attempt to create a South Carolina narrative that is not about race—is in the jump.

Continue reading "South Carolina Results" »

The Stranger News Hour

posted by on January 26 at 2:58 PM

Tune in 710 KIRO tonight.

It was a busy week in the state legislature. For one thing, the Democrats’ Amnesty, Acid, and Abortion agenda took a hit when Sen. Karen Keiser (D-33, Des Moines) decided to table her bill to make sure pharmacies filled Plan B scrips. But they’re still pushing: an expanded domestic partnership bill; tax rebates for the working class who can’t otherwise get a break in our regressive sales tax system; and $50 million in additional funding for low-income housing.

Oh, there’s also a bill to kill Sound Transit.

Also, Erica has a story this week that’s got the political classes texting.

The first half of the show, however, will be all about the results in South Carolina with James Boyce from The Huffington Post.

Join us tonight at 7pm when we go on with host David Goldstein.

Never Forget

posted by on January 26 at 2:52 PM

People reports (via DListed) that the New Kids on the Block are staging a reunion tour.


This Weekend at the Movies

posted by on January 26 at 2:00 PM

Better late than never!

The news:

Oscar nominations were announced Tuesday. Not a bad year at all for the major categories, though the foreign film selections are an embarrassing mess. The ceremony itself is still imperiled, but the WGA made some significant concessions this week, raising hopes for a red carpet with actual stars.

After high expectations, sales were quite slow at Sundance. Baghead, a horror-comedy by the directors of the laidback The Puffy Chair, sold yesterday to the mini-major Sony Pictures Classics, so you should be seeing that in theaters sometime this year. Previously sold: Frozen River, about poverty and human smuggling in upstate New York; the high school doc American Teen; an adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s Choke; the high school comedy Hamlet 2; and Henry Poole Was Here, a “spiritual drama” starring Luke Wilson. Manohla Dargis loves Sugar, which sounds awesome (it’s a baseball drama from the directors of Half Nelson), and a strong crop of regional films.

And you all already know Heath Ledger is dead, right? Depressing.

Opening this week:


In On Screen this week, it’s all about the ladies. The engaging Persepolis (an adaptation of the graphic-novel memoir about growing up during the Iranian Revolution, by Marjane Satrapi, whom I interview here), the John Cusack-starring Grace Is Gone (technically about a dead lady—Jen Graves says, “The whole movie is a fake, charming though it may be in the scenes that feature blissfully ignorant 8-year-old Dawn, played by Gracie Bednarczyk, who could be forgiven for not realizing she’s in a sad movie”), the vagina dentata-themed Teeth (me: “The studiously insipid imagery, the ersatz ‘promise’ rings—abstinence-only education was way past due for a camp takedown”), and the Canadian-Caribbean step extravaganza How She Move (me again: “The only reason to watch How She Move is the elaborate, thrilling dance routines at the climactic competition”).

A ridiculous number of limited runs this week, thanks to a wide-ranging Children’s Film Festival at NWFF (labeled “CFF” in the drop-down movie times search) and the awesome Rialto series at SIFF Cinema. Don’t miss Eyes Without a Face tonight or Band of Outsiders Wednesday (playing in a double feature with Two or Three Things I Know About Her). For something more lowbrow, check out the rare prints in the grindhouse double feature at Grand Illusion. Prefer something free? Check out Banished: How Whites Drove Blacks Out of Town in America, an advance look at an upcoming PBS doc.

Shooting Update

posted by on January 26 at 1:13 PM

Seattle Police say Maurice Alan was shot on the street outside of the Baltic Room. SPD could not confirm whether Alan had been inside the club last night.

The 25-year-old man was transported to a nearby hospital, where he died.

Police don’t have much information on the shooter—who fled the scene—only saying that the suspect is “probably a male.”

SPD’s gang unit was on the scene and homicide detectives are investigating.

According to state records, The Baltic Room’s owner also co-owns the Level 5 nightclub—formerly Club Element—on lower Queen Anne.

In October, three people were shot outside Level 5, after an argument in the club spilled out into the street. Prior to that, in July, SPD broke up a fight involving nearly 100 people at the club, during a birthday party for NBA player Brandon Roy.


According to the owner of a business near the Baltic Room, there was no fight or argument preceding the shooting. The business owner, who witnessed the shooting, says Alan—a Franklin High School graduate—was standing in the smoking area in front of the club when another man turned around and shot him 3 or 4 times.

The business owner says he often sees fights outside of the Baltic Room, but that things have gotten especially bad since they started their hip-hop night. “There’s a really bad energy around there,” he says.

Praise Sandwich?

posted by on January 26 at 12:54 PM

No, I’m not really being serious. But this is one heckuva praise sandwich. Maybe even a double-decker?

“While I think it would be good based on my personal life experience to have the first woman president,” [Bill] Clinton said in this town that shares his name, “I also understand why a lot of African-American voters think it would symbolically powerful and important to elect a brilliant, articulate, compelling vision embodied in Sen. Obama as the first African-American president.”

More legitimately, there’s been a lot of talk recently about Bill’s role in the campaign and what that would mean for an HRC presidency. I recommend Josh Marshall and this NYT op-ed.

Waiting for the South Carolina Results

posted by on January 26 at 12:05 PM


The polls opened at 7 a.m. in South Carolina today, and they’ll close at 7 p.m. Eastern time.

(That’s 6 p.m. West Coast of Mexico time and 4 p.m. Seattle time.)

Expectations games here and here. High turnout predictions here.

The assumption is that Obama will win—though, keep in mind, that was the assumption going into New Hampshire. Still, it seems a somewhat more well-founded assumption going into South Carolina, where the state’s large black population has been telling pollsters it’s overwhelmingly for Obama. Barring some sort of black-voter Bradley effect, Obama is likely to get a much-needed popular victory tonight, along with a boost in his delegate count. The question is: If Obama’s win hinges solely on the black vote, does that make him vulnerable to being painted as the “black” candidate?

See you when the results come in.

Flickr Photo of the Day

posted by on January 26 at 12:00 PM

Hippies freak me out. From Flickr pool contributor Jo Marie Riedl


Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on January 26 at 11:00 AM

Bastardizing Improv

Dart-Mondo at Historic University Theater

If you take standup and combine it with improv comedy, you usually get two subgenres talking snarkily behind each other’s backs. After midnight, however, they get drunk and decide to make sweet, sweet love together. Now you know how the world got Gilbert Gottfried. See for more details. (Historic University Theater, 5510 University Way NE, 781-3879. 12:30 am, $8, all ages.)


Fatal Shooting on Pine Street

posted by on January 26 at 10:31 AM

Around 1 am this morning someone was fatally shot in front of the Baltic Room and Juliano’s Pizza on Pine Street near Bellevue Ave. Detectives are on the scene but keeping mum for now on what they know. One neighbor reports hearing multiple gunshots. More info when we have it.
UPDATE: I just spoke with the mother of the deceased at the scene. She says Maurice “Mo” Alan, 25, was a good kid, an amazing son.

Currently Hanging

posted by on January 26 at 10:30 AM

Molly Norris’s Vandalized Wingtip, watercolor, glue, and thread on paper, 30 by 26 by 7

At Gallery 110. (Today’s the last day to see the show.)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Too Much (False) Information

posted by on January 25 at 6:21 PM

Kidding aside, Seattle Weekly’s “reporting” about Thomas Street Bistro is riddled with false and misleading information. I’m sure most of our readers don’t care, but for those who do—and for all those journalism-ethics sites out there linking to Seattle Weekly’s blog—here are the facts.

Seattle Weekly reports that Thomas Street Bistro “started running” ads two weeks after Chris McCann wrote a negative review of Thomas Street Bistro for the January 3 issue of The Stranger. That’s not true. Thomas Street Bistro started running ads in The Stranger in the December 6 issue. Then Thomas Street Bistro ran a second ad ran in the December 13 issue. Then The Stranger published a negative review of Thomas Street Bistro.

Before that review came out the owner of Thomas Street Bistro had decided to stop advertising because, as he told an ad rep (we’ve got the email), he was unhappy with the print quality of his ads. Sure enough, some of the text in those ads was unreadable. (If you have a copy of the December 7 or the December 13 issue sitting around—and I bet you do, Aimee—check out those Thomas Street Bistro ads and see if you can read Thomas Street Bistro’s web address. You can’t.)

So The Stranger extended Thomas Street Bistro’s Adam Freeman an offer that’s not uncommon—two “make good” ads at a larger size to make up for the two ads that were unreadable. In addition to the “make good” bump-ups for these ads, Freeman paid extra—in fact, double what he’d paid for December 6 and December 13 ads—to up the size of the make-up ads. That’s how Thomas Street Bistro ended up with quarter-page ads in the January 17 and January 23 issues of The Stranger after a negative review had appeared in our pages. Seattle Weekly reports that “the restaurant was given free advertising.” That’s not true. We have four cleared checks for the four ads Thomas Street Bistro has published in The Stranger, Aimee, if you would like to see them.

Why did we take down the review? Because the Thomas Street Bistro piece sparked a debate in the editorial department about when is too soon to review a brand-new restaurant. Nowhere in his review did McCann mention that the restaurant was only a few weeks old. Once upon a time The Stranger’s custom was to wait around three months before publishing full-length formal reviews of new restaurants, but that has softened into a general rule of thumb that we’ve broken countless times in order to keep readers informed about new restaurants.

I decided that the right thing to do was to take McCann’s review down and send another anonymous reviewer in a couple months. It was a decision I made independent of advertising considerations; if we allowed sales to dictate editorial decisions, we wouldn’t have published a negative review of that advertiser’s business in the first place. I was trying to be fair. But if fairness was the goal, we’d have to remove all other reviews of restaurants that we’ve published within a restaurant’s first three months. Which is why the review is back up on our website with a note that says:

This is a review of a restaurant that just opened. We’ll probably send a reviewer back after it’s been open a while, as things often change in a new restaurant’s first months.

We’ll put that on all reviews of brand-new restaurants from now on.

Gay Calculus

posted by on January 25 at 6:05 PM

I’ll post a much more detailed report on this year’s domestic partnership bill later (it would add 174 rights and obligations to the list domestic partners got last year—leaving 283 to go.)

For now, however, I want to flag a fascinating aspect to one set of rights in the bill that spotlights the political calculations of Olympia’s gay leaders.

The bill would grant rights to domestic partners of military veterans like access to vet benefits. Here’s the Catch-22. The bill only grants those benefits—like it does for married couples—to partners of honorably discharged vets.

Well, lots of gays have been dishonorably discharged for being gay—you know, discharged for the very reason they can’t get married and have to get a domestic partnership instead.

Rep. Jamie Pederson (D-43, Capitol Hill), who’s leading the charge for the DP bill on the House side, smarts at the irony of the conundrum, but has made a political call not to add a common sense fix to address that problem. (Certainly, you could clarify that if you were dishonorably discharged for being gay and for no other reason, then your partner should still get benefits). However, doing so, Pedersen worries, could be spun by conservatives as a “special right.”

That is: spouses of straights who were dishonorably discharged aren’t allowed to get any benefits so gays shouldn’t be allowed to either.

Watcha Doing Tonight?

posted by on January 25 at 5:41 PM

I’m going to see Mike Daisey’s Monopoly on the advice of a funny friend (“There’s something for everyone: raw humor [carefully placed four-letter words] and this kind of clever underlying—or not-so-underlying—humor or smartness that is refreshing… Like any good piece of art, it leaves you thinking.”)—but, it’s sold out.

Also promising: Sgt Rigsby & His Amazing Silhouettes’ A Boy in the Beastly City at Theater off Jackson.

What are you doing?

What He Said

posted by on January 25 at 5:34 PM

Elenchos has a point.

Sketch Up

posted by on January 25 at 5:03 PM

A somewhat more direct comparison..


I’m really fucking glad they caught this bastard. I live very nearby, and was wondering when—if ever—I would stop feeling paranoid as fuck when I take out the garbage. This might help.

Today’s E-Stim Safety Tip

posted by on January 25 at 4:56 PM


Never run an electrical current from one nipple ring to another—because, you see, that will cause the current to pass through the chest cavity and that could stop the heart of the person with whom you’re doing e-stim and that could kill her dead. You probably shouldn’t do e-stim above the waist at all—just to be on, like, the safe side.

And if you wanna do e-stim, you might want to invest in an actual e-stim unit—I recommend ErosTek products—and use actual e-stim accessories designed for safe, sane e-stim play. Whatever you do, though, don’t attach an electrical cord to your wife’s nipples rings and plug that cord into a power strip. Because that will kill your wife dead and then you will be charged with manslaughter.

More e-stim safety tips here. And I would liked to have used a picture of a girl’s nipple rings to illustrate this post—but girl tits are NSFW. These sweaty, shaved, pendulous, pierced and alarmingly pumped up male tits, on the other hand, are completely SFW. Enjoy.

City Design Reviewer Wants Someone to Sue the City

posted by on January 25 at 4:55 PM

David Foster reviews development proposals for southwest Seattle’s design-review board. An architect himself, he loathes that developers are using a loophole to build ugly, cookie-cutter townhouses without public notice or review—and he believes the city is allowing them to skirt the review process in violation of state law.

Large developments in Seattle are supposed to be reviewed under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), which triggers a design review by the city. This ensures the finished devlopment fits with the neighborhood and doesn’t kill fish. However, some developers have found a way around that process called “piecemealing”: By applying for separate building permits for smaller adjacent properties, developers can build major projects but only submit to the scrutiny of a simple construction, like building a house. Jonah wrote about it in July. But the practice is continuing, and Foster is pissed. He studied what was happening around his office on California Ave SW and sent a letter to West Seattle Blog. Here’s an excerpt.

That project [3400 block of California] is for 16 new townhouses, which is well above the threshold for SEPA Review and Design Review, but it was issued a construction permit without going through either review.

How? The applicants employed an illegal trick called micropermitting (aka segmented permitting). The threshold for SEPA (and Design Review) in this zone (L3-RC) is 9 units or more. The developer maneuvered underneath the threshold by pulling plans for 4 fourplexes off the shelf, and applying for multiple permits. The result - unless this project is challenged - will be another crappy, cookie cutter project that did not receive proper reviews.

This situation got me curious about other projects that might be employing the same illegal strategy, so I took a little field trip through West Seattle. In an hour’s time I found 5 projects that were built in the last year, and 3 more that are under construction.

You can download Foster’s findings on the properties he reviewed (in Excel) over here.


This Wallingford townhouse devlopment isn’t piecemealed, but it shows the impact these developments have on a neighborhood.

Another crusader against unreviewed townhouses, Vlad Oustimovitch, sent a letter to the Director Department of Planning and Development last February outlining the state policy that prohibits piecemealing:

SEPA clearly states in section 2.3 that you are required to “Define the total proposal, including any independent parts” and further clarified “It is important to remember that actions are related if they are dependent on each other, so that one will not happen without the other….”

“I’d like to see a lawsuit brought against the city to see if it’s illegal,” says Foster, “because I’m convinced that it is.”

“I’m not a lawyer, but, yes, it is legal,” says Cliff Portman, a principal land use planner with the city’s Department of Planning and Development. He says that, because the city receives separate proposals, the developers can effectively argue the developments are independent. “They could take some of proposals off table, then we’d have no choice but to process the one. Then six months later the next one comes in.”

“When it’s done, it’s over the environmental-review threshold,” says Portman. “I know it sounds illogical but I guess that’s a loophole.”

Continue reading "City Design Reviewer Wants Someone to Sue the City" »

Olympia’s Senate Majority Leader Says…

posted by on January 25 at 4:40 PM

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Lisa Brown (D-3, Spokane) held her weekly press availability yesterday afternoon. Each week, the Olympia press corps gathers around the couches and chairs in her office (there were about 10 of us) and she fields questions. It’s an informal session—casual, friendly, and candid.

I have focused mostly on Seattle legislators and mostly on the House in the past, so I don’t have any relationship whatsoever with Sen. Brown. This was the first time I joined the session or have interviewed her in person. (I think I’ve talked to her on the phone a couple of times).

First impression: What a breath of fresh air. Brown has a great vibe. Sure, she dances a little bit around questions (like most politicians), but she didn’t seem to have a defensive bone in her body; she’s calm; and seemed happy to fill people in as best she could. In short, she seemed comfortable with herself and her opinions.

I had two questions for her. I wanted to know how she felt about Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen’s bill to change Sound Transit into a roads and transit agency.

(I’m nervous about the idea because I think it could undermine further light rail expansion. Part of the proposal calls for a new elected board. Who knows what agenda regionally elected board members would have? Also, Haugen’s proposal calls for making the new agency’s funding sources available for both roads and transit projects. On one level this is a good thing—it would allow some money that can currently only be used for roads to be used for transit projects. However, this is a two-way street: ST’s funding sources for transit projects would become available for roads too. That seems like a betrayal of what voters did when the voted to create the transit agency in 1996.)

Sen. Brown didn’t address those issues, saying simply that she thought it was “promising that [Sen. Haugen] put the proposal on the table. I think she’s trying to create a dialogue about where do we go from here in the failure of Prop. 1.”

She made it clear that part of the proposal—snuffing RTID—was a good idea. “We shouldn’t just let RTID continue,” she said.

It seemed that the real appeal for Sen. Brown was the part of Haugen’s proposal that would allow regional transportation districts to form all over the state. Brown is from Spokane and is interested in a regional transportation agency there, it seems.

My other question had to do with the housing trust fund. While Gov. Gregoire has proposed upping the fund—which supports low-income housing—by $50 million this session to $130 million, House Speaker Rep. Frank Chopp (D-43, Wallingford) wants to add another $50 million. Does Sen. Brown support that idea?

“The Senate’s not going to want to go further than that,” she said, explaining that she supported the Governor’s $50 million request, but no more. “That would be hard to come by,” she said.

Also of interest: Brown was asked about the family leave bill. The Senate passed a comprehensive family leave bill last year only to have the House scale it way back (and kill the funding).

Brown said this: “I believe we could get the votes to do that again. [But] we’re not going to do that this year unless we knew they were going to go there in the House…or if we had an agreement with the House.”

House spokeswoman Melinda McCrady reports that Speaker Chopp and Sen. Brown are currently is discussions about family leave and there will be an executive session on the bill in the House at 6pm on January 29. McCrady says, “There’s no final decision on the House side about family leave. Not yet.”

Brown was also asked about a state level tax rebate based on the feds Earned Income Tax Rebate. She seemed gung ho about the proposal.

Funny moment during this part of the interview. Sen. Brown was praising the tax rebate idea as a way to give low-income tax payers a break in our regressive tax system. She cited property taxes. One reporter pushed her: “Property taxes? Regressive?” Sen. Brown explained that a larger percentage of poor people’s income (it’s about twice the percentage, actually) is sucked up by property taxes than for high-income tax payers.

Another reporter asked Sen. Brown about Sen. Eric Oemig’s Bush impeachment legislation and Sen. Brown said there was “value and legitimacy” in the issues that Sen. Oemig is raising but she’s not interested in spending floor time on the issue.

She also said she supported legislation that could halt Glacier Northwest’s strip mining expansion on Maury Island—legislation that is also moving through the House at the behest of Vashon Island freshman legislator Rep. Sharon Nelson (D-34).

Fucking Unfair

posted by on January 25 at 4:36 PM

No one deserves to have this be the last thing they see before they die:


This is the man alleged to have murdered Shannon Harps.

Suspect Arrested in Shannon Harps Murder

posted by on January 25 at 4:29 PM

Seattle Police have announced an arrest in the murder of Shannon Harps, who was fatally stabbed outside of her Capitol Hill condo on New Year’s Eve.

Police will release more information about the man at a 4pm press conference.

More info coming.


Seattle Police have arrested a 48-year-old man in connection with Shannon Harps’ murder.
James A. Williams, previously convicted of assault, was already in custody at the King County Jail for a probation violation, but was transferred to SPD custody today after a DNA test came back positive.

Police say he has been a “person of interest” from the beginning of the investigation, and was interviewed the night of Harps’ murder.

According to SPD, the man had no connection to Harps.

Bill Bellamy—And He Dip, He Dip, He Dip!

posted by on January 25 at 4:24 PM

An urgent report from a tipper of the Slog we’ll call “Jessie”:

Bill Bellamy and a few Last Comic Standing guys sat next to my friends and I at the Honey Hole this afternoon around 2p. Bill Bellamy is way taller than imagined him, and sexy! When a girl came up to say hi to him, he was very genuine and kind. We overheard him telling her that they were in town with the show, just looking for “Real Seattle People.” He ordered a French Dip sandwich.


A French Dip Sandwich! You don’t say!

So who is this “Jessie”, and why does she run around imagining how tall Bill Belamy might be? (AND sexy!) And who is Bill Bellamy? And what are these alleged “Real Seattle People” of which he speaks? (All of my Seattle people are quite imaginary.) And doesn’t a nice hot French Dip from “The Honey Hole” sound just lovely right now? I ask you.

I ask you indeed.


What Was Mary-Kate Olsen Thinking?!?

posted by on January 25 at 3:49 PM

That’s the question that everyone’s been asking since Heath Ledger’s death—a masseuse called Mary-Kate Olsen, told her that Ledger was unconscious, and Mary Kate didn’t advise the masseuse—and, hey, what the hell was she thinking?—to wait for Mary Kate’s own private body guards to show up.

So what was Mary Kate thinking? 23/6 breaks it down for us.

In the Last 24 Hours on Line Out

posted by on January 25 at 3:45 PM

Shooting the Shit: With members of the Spits.

Tonight in Music: Clinton Fearon, Shift’s Rottun Recordings Night, and the Seattle Symphony. And most importantly, KITT from Knight Rider!

When Will Hiphop End?: Charles Mudede wonders…

Kimya Dawson is a Saint: And other reasons why Ari Spool loves her.

New Pharmacy Video: For the band’s new song “Little Toys on the Shelf.”

Isolation: Hear “Running With the Devil” with only David Lee Roth’s vocals.

I am an Island: Journey build their own island. Their own virtual island.

Trans is a Mind Fuck: And other observations about Neil Young’s 1982 album.

What the Hell Are You Talking About?: Trent Moorman grills the Wild Orchid Children about their new record and… goat hooves?

Currently Streaming: Fleet Foxes are featured on Pitchfork’s Forkcast, and Mars Volta have posted their new record in it’s entirety.



posted by on January 25 at 2:53 PM

Limited engagement! Three weeks only! Enjoy Thomas Street Bistro Review while you can! Last chance to read on Stranger website! National tour of Thomas Street Bistro Review cannot be delayed!

Andrew Sullivan, Feminist Hero

posted by on January 25 at 2:28 PM


Andrew Sullivan—he of the recent Ron Paul endorsement—has, once again, declared himself the arbiter of what is and isn’t “feminist.” Today, he slams Hillary for committing a “sad, final betrayal of feminism” by letting her husband praise her in a South Carolina ad. Thank you, Sullivan, from feminists everywhere, for giving us our weekly update on the Sullivan-approved Feminist Agenda.

See also: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here,. Rarely before has so much woman-hating bile been disguised, straight-faced, as “feminism.”

Where are Today’s Dispatches from Olympia?

posted by on January 25 at 2:17 PM

I’ve been too busy working on next week’s print edition to report on my exciting day in Olympia yesterday: Interview with Senate Majority Leader Sen. Lisa Brown (D-3, Spokane); ran into gay Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D-43, Capitol Hill) and gay Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Capitol Hill) right after their meeting with the Governor about this year’s domestic partnership bill; and had a meeting in a weird Raymond Chandler-type motel off campus with a lobbyist.

Full reports on the way.

Finally, a GOP Politician Who Is an Actual Immigrant Talks Actual Sense About Immigration

posted by on January 25 at 1:46 PM

The loose, rough, and stupid talk the R candidates have been mouthing about immigration is starting to get to me. Walls, mass expulsions, wasting grazillions of dollars on more enforcement and tougher laws—it’s dumb and dangerous.

Story number one:

TULSA, OKLA. - Edgar Castorena had diarrhea for 10 days and counting, and the illegal immigrant parents of the 2-month-old didn’t know what to do about it.

They were afraid they would be deported under a new Oklahoma law if they took him to a major hospital. By the time they took him to a clinic, it was too late.

Object lesson: Immigrants aren’t the problem—it’s not integrating immigrants into the system that’s the problem. Want them to pay taxes? Want them to send their kids to schools? Want them to take their kids to hospitals when they’re sick? Then let ‘em.

Story number two:

Savvy criminals are using some of the country’s most credible logos, including FedEx, Wal-Mart, DirecTV and the U.S. Border Patrol, to create fake trucks to smuggle drugs, money and illegal aliens across the border, according to a report by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The report says criminals have been able to easily obtain the necessary vinyl logo markings and signs for $6,000 or less. Authorities say “cosmetically cloned commercial vehicles are not illegal.”

Object lesson: You cannot restrict the flow of money, good, and people with laws, where there’s a will there’s a way, etc. For another example, see Egypt, circa now. (And remember when the falling American dollar achieved, almost literally overnight, what all the might of the federal government couldn’t—retarding the pot trade with Canada?)

So it’s gratifying to hear an actual GOP immigrant-politician with a national profile and presidential aspirations say something not-asinine about immigration:

With the California primary approaching on Feb. 5, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has advice for Republican presidential hopefuls who intend to come to the Golden State and exploit the immigration issue: Don’t.

“Those people didn’t choose (to come illegally),” he said. “It’s the only way they can get in here. It’s not like you can stand in line and wait a few days and then you can get in. There’s no way. There is a system that has been created on purpose to look the other way and to bring them in because everyone knows that we cannot function without them.”

Seattle Police Guild Shoots Self In Foot

posted by on January 25 at 1:02 PM

The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) has won arbitration over whether the Office of Professional Accountability Review Board (OPARB)—a citizen oversight panel that reviews SPD’s internal investigations—should get access to unredacted files.

In 2006, SPOG filed an unfair labor practices complaint, alleging that the City Council had failed to negotiate OPARB’s unrestricted access into SPOG’s contract with the city.
Yesterday, the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) agreed with SPOG’s complaint and ordered OPARB to return or destroy all of the unredacted files it has received.

The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild is calling this a major victory against the City, and it’s going to have a huge impact on one of the City’s layers of police accountability.
“This ruling is a resounding slap down to the City Council,” says SPOG President Rich O’Neil.

O’Neil believes the ruling will make it unlikely, if not impossible, for the city to negotiate for OPARB’s unrestricted access in future bargaining sessions. “Once you get a ruling like we just got, it’s very rare any arbitrator would grant them that in the future,” he says.

It’s clear the guild doesn’t want a civilian panel to have access to unredacted files. However, the only rationale O’Neil provided as to why OPARB’s access should be restricted, was that looking at unredacted files wasn’t in their job description.

While O’Neil seems elated with PERC’s ruling—which will undoubtedly be editorialized to death in SPOG’s next issue of The Guardian—this ruling could actually end up improving Seattle’s police accountability system. By crippling our current police accountability system, which already seemed to be working in officers’ favor, SPOG has forced the City to go back to the drawing board, which may require our accountability system to be rebuilt from the ground up.

By effectively cutting OPARB off at the knees, SPOG may have just reopened the debate over police accountability, which has quieted down substantially since the controversial Patterson case exploded last Spring.

After all was said and done, the public seemed OK with keeping the multi-tiered oversight system in place, and even Josh Feit argued that the system was working. Now, SPOG has effectively removed one of those layers and upended the system, a move which will almost certainly require a larger look at how police accountability works in this town.

With two new councilmembers at the helm of the public safety committee—formerly headed up by Nick Licata—the baggage from past negotiations may be gone. Councilmembers Tim Burgess and Bruce Harrell—Chair and Vice-Chair of the public safety committee—may get the opportunity to build an accountability system from scratch. Hopefully they can come up with something that works.

Deal or No Deal

posted by on January 25 at 12:54 PM

Just saw this at Sullivan:

Novak reports on some rumors that Obama could offer [Edwards] the Justice Department if he pledges his delegates to the Illinois senator. I have no clue if this is true or not. But it does indicate that Obama is planning on fighting this all the way. Which is probably what he’ll have to do. And a grueling, long victory over the Clintons would be stellar training for the general.

Canadian Brown Finch, One - Channel 7 News Guy, Zero

posted by on January 25 at 12:47 PM

That’s One Way to Get Teenage Girls to Notice You

posted by on January 25 at 12:39 PM

Authorities have charged a teenage boy who said he planned to hijack a commercial jetliner in an attempt to commit suicide, an FBI spokesman told CNN late Thursday…. “His stated intent was to hijack the airplane and commit suicide,” said George Bolds, an FBI spokesman in Memphis, Tennessee. “He did indicate he intended to die in Louisiana. It appears he had a ticket to Louisiana.”

Bolds said the boy indicated he had lived in Louisiana.

The teen wanted to crash the plane into a Hannah Montana concert in Lafayette, Louisiana, two CNN television affiliates in Nashville, WSMV and WTVF, reported, citing unnamed sources. The concert is scheduled for Friday night at the Lafayette Cajundome.

Via Towleroad.


posted by on January 25 at 12:33 PM

Bruce Bawer tells me that I’m an infidel and not, as I indicated yesterday, an apostate. I regret the error.


posted by on January 25 at 12:00 PM

I don’t really like to flog shows here, but these are exceptions worth breaking the rule for. I saw them all yesterday, and they’re all opening this weekend, so if you find yourself with any free time at all—

Jean-Luc Mylayne at the Henry

Dawn Cerny at the Henry

R. Crumb at the Frye

Flickr Photo of the Day

posted by on January 25 at 12:00 PM

Palmer, AK at Solo, courtesy of Flickr pool contributor soundonthesound


Nuclear: Maybe Not Such a Great Idea

posted by on January 25 at 11:57 AM

As the Washington Post reported yesterday (via Grist), drought conditions produced by climate change could force nuclear power plants to scale back or shut down later this year, “because drought is drying up the rivers and lakes that supply power plants with the awesome amounts of cooling water they need to operate.” Of the nation’s 104 nuclear reactors, 24 are located in areas experiencing the most severe levels of drought, and all but two are located on lakes or rivers, relying on submerged pipes to draw billions of gallons of water for cooling and condensing steam. If the plants do shut down, replacement power will cost ten times as much as nuclear. Nuclear plants are not designed for the wear and tear of repeatedly stopping and starting. Whatever you think of nuclear power, it’ll be pretty hard to argue that it’s a panacea for climate change if, you know, it doesn’t work.

Where are the two major Democratic candidates on nuclear power? Obama supports continued use of nuclear power; his sixth biggest contributor is a company called Exelon, which owns and operates more nuclear plants than any other company. Although Clinton has said she’s “agnostic” about nuclear, she is also on the record as being “very skeptical that nuclear could become acceptable in most regions of the country, and I am doubtful that we have yet figured out how to deal with the waste,” adding, “we should not be putting a heavy emphasis on nuclear.”

Seattle’s Sexiest Superheros

posted by on January 25 at 11:55 AM

God, people, you know a LOT of red-hot locals. It’s going to be extra difficult for the editors to winnow the contenders this year—there are already dozens of sexy women, boys, grrrls, boyz, tattoos, men, muscles, lips, and eyebrows in the lot.
Brook, by kristeefistee
Check them out. (They’re not all set to public, so log in or create a Flickr account to see all 131.)

Before you start complaining about the lack of over-fortysomethings, ethnic diversity, and ample bellies, remember that you possess the power to affect the mix—you have until February 1 to nominate the objects of your desire. Just upload your shots to Stranger Photos on Flickr and tag them “seattlesexy.”

Currently Hanging

posted by on January 25 at 11:30 AM


Ken Fandell’s A Spider, Long Ago and The Same Spider, Shortly Thereafter, diptych, archival ink on paper (2008)

At Howard House.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on January 25 at 11:00 AM

Scandinavian Sacrilige

Lo-Ball! at Mr. Spot’s

Lo-Ball! is a workshop to try out new material in the semifriendly confines of artsy-fartsy Ballard. Sure, the comics often have to compete with the World’s Loudest Coffee Grinder, but Lo-Ball! is one of the few all-ages comedy shows in town (although NOT for children, unless you want them hearing about sex, abortions, and robots who have sex and then abortions). (Mr. Spots Chai House, 5463 Leary Ave NW, 297-2424. 9 pm, free, all ages.)


Currently Hanging

posted by on January 25 at 10:30 AM


Alice Tippit’s Authority, oil on panel, 9 by 12 inches

At Grey Gallery & Lounge, having a grand opening party at 8 pm tonight.

The Dumbest Show on Television

posted by on January 25 at 10:08 AM


Well, the dumbest show after McLaughlin Group, of course. Has anyone else been suckered into an episode of Bravo’s awful, abysmal, really bad, no good Make Me a Supermodel?


posted by on January 25 at 10:05 AM

LAST NIGHT I HAD A DREAM THAT JOHN MCCAIN WAS MY GRANDPA. He gave me a hug and kissed me on the forehead and he said, “I love you,” and I said, “I’m not going to vote for you, grandpa,” and he said, “That’s okay, kiddo, I love you anyway.”

Update: Then I woke up and my pillow was gone.

Hello, Scientology. We are Anonymous.

posted by on January 25 at 10:04 AM

Apparently, these guys are making good on their threats with denial of service attacks and more.

Fight crazies with crazies.

The Ghost Whisperer

posted by on January 25 at 9:59 AM

What the fuck?

Via Sullivan.

The Gates of Socialism

posted by on January 25 at 9:56 AM


In a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the software tycoon plans to call for a “creative capitalism” that uses market forces to address poor-country needs that he feels are being ignored…

“We have to find a way to make the aspects of capitalism that serve wealthier people serve poorer people as well,” Mr. Gates will tell world leaders at the forum, according to a copy of the speech seen by The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Gates isn’t abandoning his belief in capitalism as the best economic system. But in an interview with the Journal last week at his Microsoft office in Redmond, Wash., Mr. Gates said that he has grown impatient with the shortcomings of capitalism. He said he has seen those failings first-hand on trips for Microsoft to places like the South African slum of Soweto, and discussed them with dozens of experts on disease and poverty. He has voraciously read about those failings in books that propose new approaches to narrowing the gap between rich and poor.

What Bill is looking for is socialism. But not the old form of socialism, but one that emerges from state socialism, a socialism without the state. Capitalism will never soften or be creative. Capitalism is by its nature anti-social. Capitalism as a social system is making the means the end. But socialism in its desired condition, meaning outside of the instrument of power, the state, makes the human, and not the means, the end.

Peggy Noonan on George W. Bush

posted by on January 25 at 9:48 AM

That was then (November 11, 2004)…

About a year ago I was visiting West Point, and I was talking to a big officer, a general or colonel. But he had the medals and ribbons and the stature, and he asked me what I thought of President Bush. I tried to explain what most impressed me about Mr. Bush, and I kept falling back on words like “courage” and “guts.” I wasn’t capturing the special quality Mr. Bush has of making a tough decision and then staying with it if he thinks it’s right and paying the price even when the price is high and—

I stopped speaking for a moment. There was silence. And then the general said, “You mean he’s got two of ‘em.” And I laughed and said yes, that’s exactly what I mean. And the same could be said of Reagan.

This is now (January 5, 2008)…

George W. Bush destroyed the Republican Party, by which I mean he sundered it, broke its constituent pieces apart and set them against each other. He did this on spending, the size of government, war, the ability to prosecute war, immigration and other issues.

It’s Official: Clowns Are Terrifying

posted by on January 25 at 9:26 AM


Scientific American confirms the scariness of clowns:

A study of hospitalized kids in England found that they positively hate clowns, which are often depicted on the walls in children’s wards. Researchers from the University of Sheffield spoke to 255 kids between the ages of 4 and 16, and none of them liked clowns. According to the magazine Nursing Standard, one researcher said, “We found that clowns are universally disliked by children. Some found them frightening and unknowable.” On the other hand, kids do like images of the Simpsons, Spongebob Squarepants, characters from Monsters Inc., pictures of local teams and athletes, and photos of the local region.

According to the report, the researchers are using their findings to create kid-friendlier hospital environments.

In other news: Screw you, Patch Adams

What He Said

posted by on January 25 at 9:13 AM

Will at HorsesAss:

Who takes a train from Seattle to LA? I’d rather fly some shitty cattle-call airline like Southwest for $49 and be subjected to screaming infants and douchebags in cutoffs reading Joel Osteen books out loud to themselves.

Amtrak sucks, and it’s not because it’s government run. Railway networks in Europe awesome, and they’re all government run. Why? Infrastructure investment: they invest in theirs, and we don’t invest in ours.

Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father…

posted by on January 25 at 9:10 AM

A Bothell man accused of critically injuring his 6-week-old baby was charged Thursday with first-degree assault of a child.

James Robert Stephen, 23, told police he jerked the baby boy around on several occasions and “may have been too rough,” according to court documents…. Stephens already had been reported to Child Protective Services on other occasions for abusing another of his young children, King County prosecutors said.

Maybe Washington State Taxpayers Would Wanna Pay to Upgrade Husky Stadium…

posted by on January 25 at 9:00 AM

…if the University of Washington gave every taxpayer a pair of those Terminator-style contact lenses researchers are developing at the UW. Here’s an actual CSI-style photo of one of the lenses:


“Looking through a completed lens, you would see what the display is generating superimposed on the world outside,” said Babak Parviz, a UW assistant professor of electrical engineering.

So the world would look a bit like this.

Oh, and Woodland Park bunny huggers may not want to follow the link to the UW’s page. They’re testing these lenses on rabbits, and there’s a freaky close-up picture of bunny’s eye with one of these terminator-style lenses. It’s all fun and games until a six-foot-tall rabbit cyborg from the fuuuuuurture shows up at your front door with a sawed-off shotgun looking to kill your mother before your ass has a chance to get born.

Plan B Bill Dead

posted by on January 25 at 7:33 AM

Originally posted yesterday at 7:30 pm

Sen. Karen Keiser (D-33, Des Moines) called me back late in the day (I was heading home on I-5 with my secret lobbyist carpool mate when she called) to confirm that she has indeed tabled her bill to mandate that pharmacies fill Plan B prescriptions.

She sounded personally devastated by the decision, but emphasized that the consistent legal advice she got was to drop it.

The bill, she explained, was complicated by the pending case (filed by a pharmacy) against state rules that mandate Plan B scrips are filled.

I put the word pharmacy in italics because the lawsuit against the pharmacy board rules concern pharmacists, and so, her bill initially seemed to circumvent the issues at play in the case.

However, the fact that the suit actually involves a pharmacy, Ralph’s Thriftway in Olympia, made the case relevant to Sen. Keiser’s proposal and created a dynamic between the legislation and the case, she said, that convinced her to let the court decide the issues without the histrionics (on both sides) that could have impacted the case.

The Morning News

posted by on January 25 at 7:11 AM

Top 2: New York Times endorses HRC and McCain.

Bushy, You Got Some ‘Splainin’ to Do: Federal judge orders Bush administration to explain why CIA interrogation tapes were destroyed.

Fatal Error: Saddam thought US wouldn’t invade.

Pissed-Off Pilots:
Zacarias Moussaoui’s flight instructors scrap over $5 million government reward.

No Babies, No Tumors: Study says contraceptive pills drastically reduce risk of ovarian cancer.

Pot Precedent: California Supreme Court says medical marijuana users can be fired for flunking drug tests.

Football Flop: No support in legislature for taxpayer financed Husky Stadium renovation.

Miracles of Science: Advances in synthetic “life,” electric roadsters and cheap ethanol.

And now, my favorite play of the year:

Marion Barber vs. the Pat’s D.

Seven missed tackles, in the endzone.

Hopefully Brandon Jacobs runs this hard in two weeks.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

SoCal Museums Raided

posted by on January 24 at 7:12 PM

Southern California museums were raided early this morning by federal agents in a looting investigation involving ancient art allegedly stolen from Thailand, China, Myanmar, and Native American archeological sites.

Included were the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Pasadena’s Pacific Asia Museum, the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, and the Mingei International Museum in San Diego.

In the case of the Bowers and the Pacific Asia museums, the warrants clearly suggest that museum officials were aware that the objects were looted and overvalued and accepted them anyway.
According to the warrants, Markell at one point told the agent that LACMA was “a stickler” for checking the background of pieces but also suggested the museum had found a loophole to import restrictions on some objects.

Read it all.

Jackass of the Day

posted by on January 24 at 7:07 PM

Vanessa Beecroft, who inserted herself into Sudan, breastfed twins whose mother had died (their father remarried), became inordinately attached and decided to adopt them, then decided not to. At the end of all this solipsistic mindlessness, she photographed herself as a lily-white madonna holding two black babies to her breasts, nursing one. Editions of the photograph have been selling for $50,000. Now there’s a documentary, premiering at Sundance. Naturally, Beecroft says her photograph was mean to “provoke” viewers. (Lazy, stale avant-garde intentions, meet real human issues.) Says Beecroft, “Sudan is a microcosm of Africa and of the blacks in the world, and I know it is presumptuous of me to take this subject under my wing, but I actually want to. It is my interest now.” Next up: naked Sudanese refugees standing in galleries wearing heels. (Via Artsjournal.)


Got Something to Say About the GOP Debate?

posted by on January 24 at 6:32 PM

Say it in this open thread.

The New York Times Endorses…

posted by on January 24 at 6:26 PM

Hillary Clinton and John McCain.

I think their endorsement of Clinton is mostly fair—I happen to disagree with their take on the candidates’ health plans, but they’re right on about Edwards’s record in the Senate, and they have a reasonable, if conservative, assessment of who is better prepared to be Commander in Chief.

However, I must take exception to this claim:

We opposed President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq and we disagree with Mrs. Clinton’s vote for the resolution on the use of force. That’s not the issue now; it is how the war will be ended. Mrs. Clinton seems not only more aware than Mr. Obama of the consequences of withdrawal, but is already thinking through the diplomatic and military steps that will be required to contain Iraq’s chaos after American troops leave.

That’s a serious misread, in my opinion. Here’s a little something from their own paper, which I quoted last weekend:

Senator Hillary Clinton has advocated that the United States rapidly draw down forces while retraining a residual force to fight terrorists, protect the Kurds, deter Iranian aggression and possibly support the Iraqi military. But it is striking that those assignments do not include the core mission of the counterinsurgency doctrine: protecting Iraqi civilians from sectarian violence, which she sees as involving American forces in a civil war.

She was asked in an interview to explain her thinking. “We would not be trying to insert ourselves in the middle between the various Shiite and Sunni factions,” she said last March in her Senate office. “This is an Iraqi problem — we cannot save the Iraqis from themselves.”

But that raises the question of whether American forces could really stay within the security of their bases if thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed outside the gates. It would probably not be long before the media and perhaps the troops themselves asked whether the nation that had taken the lid off Pandora’s box by invading Iraq had a responsibility to protect the defenseless.

Senator Barack Obama has pledged to withdraw combat forces, but perhaps not counterterrorism units or trainers, within 16 months of taking office. Mindful of the risk that such a wholesale withdrawal might lead to an escalation in sectarian killings, he has said that he would be prepared to send American troops back into Iraq as part of an international force to stop genocidal attacks. (That is hardly a far-fetched scenario; a National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq issued in January 2007 by American intelligence agencies warned that the quick withdrawal of all American forces would probably lead to “massive civilian casualties and forced population displacement.”)

“It is conceivable that there comes a point where things descend into the mayhem that shocks the conscience and we say to ourselves, ‘This is not acceptable,’ ” he said in a November interview in his Chicago office. “We don’t know whether this is, in fact, a problem, but I acknowledge that you never know what could happen.”

But fighting their way back into Iraq in the middle of a raging civil war might well be far more difficult and dangerous for American forces than their current operations.

Obama is thinking ahead. I’m not so sure about Clinton.

The Why of Now

posted by on January 24 at 5:20 PM

Stimulus, stimulus, and stimulus—all financed with more debt. Zero wage growth for the working class in the recent economic expansion. A collapsing dollar—against everything but the Yuan. Massive losses to the American manufacturing base. Huge public and private indebtedness.

How did we get into this mess?

Through the quarter-century in which China has been opening to world trade, Chinese leaders have deliberately held down living standards for their own people and propped them up in the United States. This is the real meaning of the vast trade surplus—$1.4 trillion and counting, going up by about $1 billion per day—that the Chinese government has mostly parked in U.S. Treasury notes. In effect, every person in the (rich) United States has over the past 10 years or so borrowed about $4,000 from someone in the (poor) People’s Republic of China. Like so many imbalances in economics, this one can’t go on indefinitely, and therefore won’t. But the way it ends—suddenly versus gradually, for predictable reasons versus during a panic—will make an enormous difference to the U.S. and Chinese economies over the next few years, to say nothing of bystanders in Europe and elsewhere.

Check out the fantastically lucid account by James Fallows of how this obscene and unsustainable mis-balance was created, sustained and will likely unravel.

If you find the machinations of global capital as unbearably sexy as I do, here’s a tidbit explaining how the Chinese government forces this situation:

At no point did an ordinary Chinese person decide to send so much money to America. In fact, at no point was most of this money at his or her disposal at all. These are in effect enforced savings, which are the result of the two huge and fundamental choices made by the central government.

One is to dictate the RMB’s value relative to other currencies, rather than allow it to be set by forces of supply and demand, as are the values of the dollar, euro, pound, etc. The obvious reason for doing this is to keep Chinese-made products cheap, so Chinese factories will stay busy. This is what Americans have in mind when they complain that the Chinese government is rigging the world currency markets. And there are numerous less obvious reasons. The very act of managing a currency’s value may be a more important distorting factor than the exact rate at which it is set. As for the rate—the subject of much U.S. lecturing—given the huge difference in living standards between China and the United States, even a big rise in the RMB’s value would leave China with a price advantage over manufacturers elsewhere. (If the RMB doubled against the dollar, a factory worker might go from earning $160 per month to $320—not enough to send many jobs back to America, though enough to hurt China’s export economy.) Once a government decides to thwart the market-driven exchange rate of its currency, it must control countless other aspects of its financial system, through instruments like surrender requirements and the equally ominous-sounding “sterilization bonds” (a way of keeping foreign-currency swaps from creating inflation, as they otherwise could).

These and similar tools are the way China’s government imposes an unbelievably high savings rate on its people. The result, while very complicated, is to keep the buying power earned through China’s exports out of the hands of Chinese consumers as a whole. Individual Chinese people have certainly gotten their hands on a lot of buying power, notably the billionaire entrepreneurs who have attracted the world’s attention (see “Mr. Zhang Builds His Dream Town,” March 2007). But when it comes to amassing international reserves, what matters is that China as a whole spends so little of what it earns, even as some Chinese people spend a lot.

Swoon! Worth a read…

The New York Press Thing

posted by on January 24 at 4:40 PM

Uh… things have been nuts today, and I’m just now getting to my emails. About eight million people have sent me this link. And this one. And this one. And this one. And this one. And now this one.


At the moment I have no comment. Carry on.

New Neighborhood Group Forms to Oppose Casa Latina

posted by on January 24 at 4:21 PM

A new neighborhood group has popped up to fight the Casa Latina day labor center’s move to 17th and Jackson. Next week, the Jackson Street Community Association (JSCA) will hold a meeting at the Douglass-Truth Library on 23rd and Yesler to discuss Casa Latina’s proposed move

While JSCA appears to be fairly organized—although their sole focus appears to be Casa Latina—they’re not actually recognized by the city as a neighborhood group.
At their meeting next week, the group says they’ll address issues like

• What is a day laborer center and why are there concerns? What are day laborer sites like nationally? What can we learn from other cities? • What has the City done to support our neighborhood? What is the “Good Neighbor Agreement” and why will it not be effective? • What can go wrong? What does this mean for surrounding businesses, organizations, and residents?

Sound familiar?

In September, a small group of neighbors enlisted the help of Christopher Farrell, of the right-wing, anti-immigrant Judicial Watch, who gave a presentation at Douglass-Truth about supposed nationwide problems with day labor centers, and made vague legal threats to the City for its funding of Casa Latina.

Judicial Watch appears to backed off since the September meeting, but now the JSCA appears to be picking up where they left off.

Yesterday, the JSCA sent a letter to the City Council, complaining that the Casa Latina relocation committee had failed to come to terms on a Good Neighbor Agreement. According to the JSCA’s letter, an agreement was supposed to be reached by September 30th. JSCA also accused a consultant, hired by the city to mediate the Good Neighbor Agreement committee, of defrauding the city by improperly collecting signatures of stakeholders.

It’s unclear if the JSCA is associated with the group of neighbors who called in Judicial Watch, and JSCA’s website doesn’t provide much information about the group. Only one member—President Genji Shiga—is named on their site.

I’ve got a call out to Casa Latina and the JSCA to find out more about this latest development.

The Erection on Denny

posted by on January 24 at 4:20 PM

Thoryk Architecture has submitted an initial set of designs for 1200 Stewart—the twin skyscrapers proposed for the intersection of Denny Way and Stewart Street. At 400 feet – including three floors of commercial units, a hotel, and residential units (likely luxury condos) – the towers will be among the developments going up on Denny that, in effect, expand the area we think of as downtown.


The above design shows the relationship to the surrounding neighborhood. However, in another design preferred by the design review board and the developer, Lexas Companies, the two towers would be aligned with Denny, like this…


It won’t actually be Grimace-colored.

Paul Thoryk, president of San Diego-based Thoryk Architecture, says, “I want a lot more breathing room with the building on Stewart.” He’s referring to the proximity to the Stewart | Minor | Tower (with the lines in there like that), which is represented by that big yellow shaft. He was also considering views looking west: “I wanted to create a narrower vision for the people from Capitol Hill.”


“He is being generous here,” Thoryk says of Eric Midby at Lexas. “If he just wanted to make money, he would have three big boxes. He wouldn’t have hired me.” Indeed, Thoryk’s buildings don’t suck. You can check out the final renderings for another Seattle building designed by his hand, the Escala. Thoryk says, “He is very sensitive to the environment, esthetics, and wants a very well-done building and to please the community. We want to make it a neighborhood-friendly environment.” See pictures of what’s at the site currently and read my praises of the proposal (and my bitching about the massive underground parking garage) over here.

And, yes, the title of this post is in response to Christopher’s The Demolition in Georgetown.

24 Hours on Line Out

posted by on January 24 at 4:00 PM

Mope, Probably: What Would Morrissey Do?

“What a Bunch of Fags”: Stereogum Commenters: More Eloquent, Thoughtful than Line Out’s?

Speaking Of…: Opinions, Assholes, Dan Deacon

“I Am Worried For Cavities Too”: The Latest PWRFL Power Tour Diary

Face the Music: Sleeveface

Celebrate!: It’s Sammy Drain Day

Soft Openings: King Cobra Gets Ready for Business

Tonight in Music: White Williams, HEALTH, Mr Lif, Beausoleil

Cosmic Reservation: TJ Gorton on Orlando Riva Sound

‘Round the Outside: Malcolm McLaren’s Global Pop Moment

Bad News for Plan B Prescriptions?

posted by on January 24 at 3:35 PM

Women’s advocates tell me Sen. Karen Keiser (D-33, Des Moines) has tabled her bill to require pharmacies to fill Plan B prescriptions.


In Which My Internet Addiction Gets the Best of Me, Even in Mexico

posted by on January 24 at 3:15 PM


I know you won’t believe me when I tell you that I took the above picture a short time ago, during the late afternoon of the fourth day of something that is not, technically, a vacation. That’s the part you won’t believe, the “not a vacation” part.

It’s really not, at least not in the sense that you’re imagining right now. But who wants to hear why someone with a view like that isn’t, technically, on vacation? I barely even want to hear it, to be honest.

What you more likely want to hear about—and what I definitely would rather hear about, even in Mexico—is this presidential race. I came down here promising to institute a media blackout on my refresh-button-junkie self but that vow (obviously) hasn’t worked any wonders against the allure of getting online and checking the latest.

I tried. I turned off my cell phone as soon as I got to SeaTac. I brought my laptop with me, yes, but only for my personal writing. There would be no wireless here, I assumed, so no problem.

On day one I noticed a guy in my tiny hotel using his laptop in the lobby. I couldn’t resist. I asked if there was wireless. He said yes. I told myself no, but by day two I was at the front desk asking for the password, feeling a bit like Bubbles on The Wire. I then told myself I would only use a little gmail to catch up with old friends. No blogs, no news sites, and definitely no Slog. That lasted until I got a gmail from a friend saying:

YOU HAVE TO WATCH CLIPS FROM THE DEM DEBATE FROM LAST NIGHT. Obama came to fight and him and Clinton straight up brawled.

Ok, maybe a little YouTube, I thought. I spent forever downloading the handy debate recordings of some guy named researchris, listening to the waves hit the beach as the red “loading” line crept across the YouTube player, and didn’t regret a second. That was, as most of you know already, the best debate of the season.

Day three came and I was mainlining the political blogs again. It was sad, really. But I felt great. (When I didn’t feel pathetic.) I don’t know if it’s the addictive qualities of the Internet, or this particular election, or both in tandem, but I am certifiably cracked out on the presidential race. Will The Stranger’s benefits pay for me to go to one of those Chinese internet addiction treatment centers when this is all over?

Anyway, comes now day four and my brother arrives holding the current New Yorker, which he tells me contains a long profile of Hillary Clinton by George Packer. I tell him I already have the piece up on my browser and am planning to read it tonight. He looks much less disappointed in me than I am.

I make one of those junkie rationalizations: It will be less a sign of internet addiction to grab my brother’s copy of the magazine, take it down to the beach, and read it there. Something about paper not being part of the problem, or some such.

I walk down to the beach.


Where, shortly after finishing the article, I decide to come back up to my room and blog about the piece, thus negating any fake progress I might have made on pretending to reinstate my media blackout by reading things on glossy paper rather than online.

And now here I am, your click-addled presidential election coverer, telling you, as per usual: Read this!

It’s good, and it zeros in on the different attitudes toward presidential leadership on the part of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately:

The alternatives facing Democratic voters have been characterized variously as a choice between experience and change, between an insider and an outsider, and between two firsts—a woman and a black man. But perhaps the most important difference between these two politicians—whose policy views, after all, are almost indistinguishable—lies in their rival conceptions of the Presidency. Obama offers himself as a catalyst by which disenchanted Americans can overcome two decades of vicious partisanship, energize our democracy, and restore faith in government. Clinton presents politics as the art of the possible, with change coming incrementally through good governance, a skill that she has honed in her career as advocate, First Lady, and senator…

These rival conceptions of the Presidency—Clinton as executive, Obama as visionary—reflect a deeper difference in how the two candidates analyze what ails the country. Obama’s diagnosis is more fundamental: for him, the illness precedes the Bush years and the partisan deadlock in Washington, originating in a basic failure of politicians to bring Americans together. A strong hand on the wheel won’t make a difference if your car is stuck in the mud; a good leader has to persuade enough people to get out and push. Whereas Clinton echoes Churchill, who proclaimed, “Give us the tools and we will finish the job,” Obama invokes Lincoln, who said, “As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”

Ok, back to pretending I’m on some sort of not-quite-a-blackout media diet. See you when I’m back in Seattle on Monday—or, more likely, see you tomorrow or Saturday when the South Carolina primary brings me back online.

Hasta whatever that was I was hoping for with my failed attempts at staying offline, and hola, once again, politics and internet addiction.

Drugs. Money. And Lies.

posted by on January 24 at 3:09 PM

As she did last year, Senator Cheryl “Drug Money” Pflug (R-5, Maple Valley) spoke out against a bill that would require drug companies to disclose gifts to health-care providers.

Despite her advocacy for the drug companies—she argued incorrectly that the bill held drug companies and health-care providers to a different standard than legislators, who she absurdly claimed don’t have to disclose gifts—the bill passed out of the health care committee today, 5-4.

The bill died in the senate rules committee last year.

Clinton V. Obama: The Record

posted by on January 24 at 3:04 PM

While it’s easy to focus on what candidates say they’ll do when in office (each campaign’s web site offers a long list of policy platform statements), it’s a more instructive exercise (assuming you care about policy and not just personality or “likability”) to look at the candidates’ records in office and see how they line up against your personal priorities. The Guardian recently did a roundup of significant votes by Clinton and Obama, and, as you might guess, both candidates’ records are mixed.

For example:

In 2005, Clinton voted against an energy bill that subsidized “clean coal” researchers and ethanol producers while Obama voted for it—because he supported the subsidies.

Obama voted for new restrictions on cluster bombs (which tend to go off years after battle and frequently kill or wound civilians) while Clinton voted against it, possibly to avoid angering Israel and possibly because she bought arguments that restricting the bombs would tie military leaders’ hands.

Obama voted for a Republican bill that barred law enforcement from confiscating civilians’ guns during an emergency; Clinton voted against it.

Clinton opposed some key Bush appointments, including interior secretary Dirk Kempthorne (who received a 100 percent one percent, duh! lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters) and army chief of staff George Casey; Obama voted for them.

Clinton voted against an ethics bill Obama sponsored, arguing that it still allows members of Congress and their aides to attend parties thrown by lobbyists; but she voted against reforms that would have made the legislation stronger.

Bonus: No pro-HRC commentary! Feel free to fire away about what you think I’m ignoring in the comments.

Headline of the Day

posted by on January 24 at 2:47 PM

Dwarves Zipped in Suitcases Steal from Swedes

(Thanks to Slog tipper Reggie.)

Kucinich Is Out

posted by on January 24 at 2:31 PM

He’ll announce tomorrow, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He doesn’t plan to endorse anyone else in the primary, though he threw his non-viable supporters to Obama in Iowa.

Police Release Sketch of Suspect In Teacher’s Assault

posted by on January 24 at 1:59 PM

The Seattle Police Department has released a sketch of a suspect—not a “person of interest,” but a real-live suspect—in an assault, which left a Seattle elementary school teacher with possible brain damage.


On January 17th, Joseph Skillings, a teacher at Adams Elementary in Ballard, called 911 after he saw the suspect harassing a woman at a bus stop on the 300 block of East Pine Street. The suspect saw Skillings on his phone, and allegedly knocked him to the ground. Skillings hit his head on the cement and suffered a seizure.

SPD describes the suspect as:

A black male in his late 40’s. He is described as between 5’9” to 6’ tall, 150 pounds, with a slim build. He has been described as having a “wrinkled face.” He was last seen wearing a black knit ski cap, black thigh length coat with a 1-2” white stripe down the length of the sleeve. He may have been wearing a black velvet sweat suit and was carrying a large black backpack. He may also be wearing gold rings and/or bracelets.

Police are asking that people call (206) 684-5550 if they have any information about the suspect.

Islamophobic? Moi?

posted by on January 24 at 1:37 PM

So the Brits sentenced Samina Malik, a 23 year-old Muslim woman, to nine months of probation for the crime of… writing a poem. But what a poem!

How to Behead

It’s not as messy or hard as some may think.

It’s all about the flow of the wrist.

Sharpen the knife to its maximum.

And before you begin to cut the flesh.

Tilt the fool’s head to its left.

Saw the knife back and forth.

No doubt the punk will twitch and scream.

But ignore the donkey’s ass.

And continue to slice back and forth.

La la la. Islam means peace. Now to be fair the Brits, they didn’t exactly arrest this lovely young woman for writing a poem. They came down on her for “possessing records likely to be used in an act of terrorism,” which included “an al-Qaida manual, a booklet on mujahedeen poisons and bomb-making instructions.” And guess what? This poetess of peace worked at London’s Heathrow Airport as a shop assistant, and was familiar with security procedures designed to protect heathen donkeys from, oh, murderous Muslim radicals and other terrorists.

The poem was read on NPR this morning in a piece about the emergence in Britain of “militant Islamist feminism”—which makes about as much sense as “radical gay heterosexuality.” When the poem was read I about choked on my toast. I fly into Heathrow now and then and there are always lots of women working in headscarves and I suppress my… well, I suppress my worst impulses. They’re in the West, I tell myself, they’ve immigrated for a reason, they’ve embraced Western values, and the nice woman in the headscarf selling me my International Herald Tribune at Heathrow isn’t thinking about sawing off my pole-smoking, beer-swilling, apostate head.* (The charming and talented Ms. Malik, however, “spent much of her time at work writing about her desire for martyrdom,” according to NPR.) They’re here, they’ve immigrated, they’re used to us!

But when I heard this next bit on the radio, well, I made up my mind to fly into Shannon next time I go to Europe:

Recent polls have shown that as many as four in 10 British Muslims want Sharia, the Islamic law, applied in Muslim-populated areas of Britain.

Sharia, which is practiced in many parts of the Islamic world, is a religious code of living. But it also specifies stoning and amputation as normal punishment for some crimes.

Sharia also specifies the beheading as “normal punishment” for homosexual acts.**

La la la. Islam means peace.

As much as I hate to sound like a member of the National Front… gee… I just gotta say this: There’s no shortage of backwards, fucked up, unpleasant shitholes where Sharia is practiced. If someone longs to live under Sharia, why the fuck would that someone emigrate to Europe or remain in Europe? Why not emigrate to, say, Pakistan or Iran or Saudi Arabia or Sudan or Nigeria or a whole host of islands in Indonesia? If you long to attend public amputations and beheadings, if you think the victims of rape should be imprisoned and whipped, what the fuck are you doing in Britain? Or the Netherlands? Or Belgium? Or France? Or Germany? Wanna live under Sharia? Well, get thee to a Sharia-enforcing shithole already.

I’ll be accused of being xenophobic, of course, for typing what any sensible person thought to him or herself listening to NPR this morning. I am not xenophobic. Or Islamophobic—unless being afraid of particular Muslims, like Ms. Malik, makes one Islamophobic.***

One of the things I love most about the good, ol’ US of A and thoroughly modern Europe—and miss most living here in Seattle—is the ethnic, racial, and religious diversity. But the price of admission to a pluralistic, multi-ethnic society has to be… a desire to live in that place. And a desire to live and let live, and a certain base-level tolerance for people that look, pray, and fuck differently than you do. You should, of course, be free to impose Sharia on yourself and yourself alone (not your daughters, for instance), just as Christians and Jews should be free to impose the most conservative interpretations of their faiths on themselves alone. But that’s it— you’re not free to impose it on others, even your co-religionists. Period.

And if you can’t hack that…. if you can’t handle pluralism… if you hate us punks and donkeys and fools much… and if you long for Sharia so terribly… then get the fuck out.


* I don’t have this reaction when I see women in headscarves in American airports—all of that here-in-the-West-for-a-reason actually applies to American Muslims, it seems. (Someone please inform the Department of Homeland Security.)

** Yes, there’s some “kill the homos” crap in the Bible, but no predominantly Christian states are executing homosexuals.

*** I’m afraid of some Muslims. But I’m afraid of some Christians, some Jews, some men, some women, some of my relatives, and many, many homosexuals too. Does this make me Christophobic, Jewophobic, guyophobic, girlophobic, uncleophobic, and homophobic as well?

The Demolition in Georgetown

posted by on January 24 at 1:34 PM


It’s been underway for several days now. These were taken yesterday afternoon.


Those thick pipes on the upper floors to the right are cooling pipes, as the building used to be refrigerated.


Now they spill out of it like spaghetti.


The fence along Airport Way has pink roses, white carnations, yellow daises, and plastic orange flowers threaded into it.




Even though demolition has been going on for days, Airport Way was crawling with photographers—amateurs with their cell phones, professionals with real equipment. I asked one of the photographers (not pictured) if he worked for a newspaper. “Yeah, Seattle Times,” he said. Then he walked up to a row of gleaming scooters parked outside Big People Scooters, which is directly across Airport Way from the Rainier Cold Storage building, caught the half-demolished building reflected in one scooter’s rearview mirror, and tried to find an angle to take a photo of the reflection.


The bar at Jules Maes, which is next to Big People Scooters, has a perfect view of the wreckage. A bartender told me that even though Airport Way, the street you have to use to get to Jules Maes, was closed for the first two days of the demolition, Jules Maes “got a lot of business.”

Down the street at All City Coffee, a barista smiled when asked about what she thought of the building coming down. “It’s not at the top of the list of things I’m thinking about right now. Also, I’m just sick of talking about it. I’ve been talking about it all weekend.” I asked what’s at the top of the list of the things she’s thinking about right now. She said she had a biology test in the morning.

24 Hours in Slog Comments

posted by on January 24 at 1:33 PM

After I took the unusual step of deleting a comment by Slog troll Ecce Homo earlier today (it said, in part, that I needed to “get a dick” and “beg a strait [sic] boy to have sex with [me]”), commenters including Ecce accused me of censoring posts and said I needed to “grow a thicker skin.” So, since we at the Stranger celebrate free speech (while I would point out to those who haven’t read it in a while that nowhere does the Constitution say you have a legal right to say whatever you want on somebody else’s blog), I’m going to highlight a few of the comments that Slog’s loyal pack of haters have made in the last 24 hours. Did I mention that almost all the most abusive commenters hide behind fake names and falsified e-mail addresses?

Posted by that’s a good Southern white girl fo sho

Anyone else amused that Erica deleted ecce’s comment about her needing a dick, but left this one alone?

[I hadn’t seen the post but I’ve since deleted it for being off topic and racist.]

Posted by R ECB,

I hope this is finally what gets you canned from the Stranger.

shame on you.

Posted by Gina kudos for being an absolute moron and check out jonathan kauffman’s feature in the weekly for the REAL story.
Posted by Grant get over your fucking self.

While all of these comments are rude, they don’t violate Slog’s extremely liberal comments policy, which states simply that “we remove comments that are off topic, threatening, or commercial in nature, and we do not allow sock-puppetry (impersonating someone else)—or any kind of puppetry, for that matter. We never censor comments based on ideology.”

What does violate our comments policy? Comments like these:

I could care less about her sexuality, but her smug moralistic bullshit annoys the hell out of me. Her suppressed sexuality is nothing more than a street sign that one can observe that directs you to the core problem. The problem is that she is consumed with her own moral superiority.

She needs some strait male attention, something I can never give.

Now can’t we get back to discussing why bicyclists are retards playing with childish toys who pitch temper tantrums when they don’t get their way? Something ECB is quite adept at demonstrating.

I think that ECB secretly likes the word [cunt], but doesn’t like to admit it because it would indicate a sexuality that she has long since burried [sic].

Dan needs more dicks in his mouth.
Since nobody else gets what you are trying to say here, Erica, let me be the one to say thank you for not reproducing.

These comments are off topic and don’t add anything to the conversation. If it was up to me, of course, I’d adopt a much stricter policy—no personal insults would be a start— because I think it would encourage readers who don’t want to wade into the comments slime now to participate. But I think it’s worthwhile to take a moment and appreciate (or lament) Slog’s comments policy, which guarantees that even the most worthless, cowardly, and abusive comments are given the chance to see the light of day.

Local Stimulation

posted by on January 24 at 1:33 PM

While the feds are offering up a tax rebate to stimulate the economy (which Erica thinks won’t do much to help lower-income workers), the libs in Olympia are proposing a bill that directly focuses on tax rebates for low-wage workers.

Sen. Craig Pridemore (D-49, Vancouver, Minehaha, Hazel Dell, Walnut Grove) has a bill—written by the left wingers at the Washington Budget and Policy Center—that would allow Washington taxpayers to take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Lower-wage workers can already take advantage of the rebate on federal income taxes—Washington taxpayers got about $600 million back from the feds in 2004 through the EITC program.

Unfortunately, because Washington State doesn’t have an income tax (we’ve got a sales tax), minimum-wage workers haven’t been able to get similar rebate help out of our regressive system.

Higher-income workers can get state rebates by itemizing their tax returns based on expenses under our sales tax. No so for low-wage workers.

So, without an income tax here, how can low-wage workers get any state rebate?

Sen. Pridemore’s bill solves the problem by providing a state tax rebate equal to 10 percent of a taxpayer’s federal EITC credit.

Underwood Wins Injunction Against Ex-Employee

posted by on January 24 at 1:12 PM

Colby Underwood—the 30-year-old Democratic fundraising consultant who’s suing his ex-employee McKenna Hartman for a million dollars—won a temporary injunction barring her from doing any fundraising work until his lawsuit moves forward. As I wrote in this week’s paper, Underwood is accusing Hartman of “poaching [his] clientele and stealing [his firm’s] trade secrets.” Although Underwood and his lawyer, Janyce Fink, had not showed up to a scheduled court hearing when my story went to press (at which point they were both an hour and a half late), Hartman’s attorney Gregory Karp reports that they did eventually arrive, and that a superior court judge granted the temporary injunction that prevents Hartman from engaging in gainful work in her field.

Sen. Kohl-Welles Unveils Gun-Control Bill

posted by on January 24 at 12:58 PM

Following up on her bill to streamline the process for women to get protection from stalkers (billed as the “Rebecca Griego Act”), Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-36, Seattle) held a hearing this morning on another bill that addresses the tragedy at UW last year.

Her bill would allow college campuses to ban guns. Currently, campuses can ban guns (at the UW, for example, you cannot carry a firearm without prior approval from the administration), but gun-control advocates worry that that current regulatory authority is not strong enough to withstand a constitutional challenge.

Sen. Kohl-Welles’s bill explicitly gives campuses the right to prohibit firearms which would make a court challenge more difficult.

Her bill seems a lot more substantive than a related bill that she’s proposing at the request of Governor Gregoire (also heard in committee this morning) that would direct campuses to come up with a safety plan.

Thomas Street Bistro

posted by on January 24 at 12:54 PM

A few weeks ago, Stranger freelancer Chris McCann reviewed Thomas Street Bistro. Two weeks ago we pulled the review from our web archive because our timing was off. The restaurant opened in November and McCann was assigned to review it less than two months later, which was against our editorial policy of waiting at least three months before doing a formal review of a new restaurant. That’s why you can read comments about McCann’s review, but not the review itself, on our restaurants page. We’ll do a formal review of Thomas Street Bistro at some point in the future.

Meanwhile, if you’ve been to Thomas Street Bistro and want to write your own review, there’s no policy against readers reviewing restaurants at any time. Have at it.

UPDATE: Ladies and gentlemen, the review is back!

Flickr Photo of the Day

posted by on January 24 at 12:00 PM

From Flickr pool contributor Jo Marie Riedl


Mysterious Broadcasts

posted by on January 24 at 11:30 AM

Ken Kelly’s Theory, oil and enamel on canvas, 2007

Behind the desk at James Harris Gallery hangs a dirty-white painting by Squeak Carnwath that reads, in pencil scrawl in the center, “Painting is no ordinary object.” Right-o. A painting is an extraordinary thing. Or: painting is a verb, not a noun. Fine. Whatever. While you’re trying on the various attitudes toward painting, Carnwath’s scratchy, splotchy surface, with its assertions, glitches, and erasures, takes over. Painting always wins. A writer I know says painting never dies because, deep down, we love it so much that we want it to succeed.

It’s painting month at the major galleries in Seattle—a rarity: Adam Sorensen’s semi-toxic/semisweet landscapes painted on thin pieces of panel and Claire Cowie’s watercolors are at James Harris, Darren Waterston’s smooth apocalypses and Katy Stone’s painted Mylar stacks are at Greg Kucera; Lawrimore Project is showing Prom: A Semi-Formal Survey of Semi-Formal Painting; and Howard House recently opened with new abstractions by Ken Kelly.

Of all these (though admittedly I haven’t been yet to The Prom), Kelly’s laconic paintings draw me in. His restricted palette (red, black, white, and tones of these) and repetitive grids of little rectangles are out of step with fashionable (and, often, let’s face it, fun to look at) psychedelia and pictorialism. They’re also a departure from his signature style, which set slick stenciled imagery on thick, heavily worked surfaces—a style he cultivated for almost 15 years.

Now, the Seattle painter’s new works are portraits of patterns, or to be more evocative, systems, painted by hand in rows of dots of varying sizes that seem to stream across the surface of the paintings like encoded back-end information. They fuse the digital, the modern, and the ancient, and they also provide a recording of the decisions that went into making the painting.

The grids—strictly geometric from afar but blurry and idiosyncratic up close—evoke not only computer chips and early video games, but also traffic patterns, photographs of cities at night, Morse code, Native American basketry, and traditional African textiles. They also emit the surprising feeling—for grids—of having been improvised.

What’s more, like a perspective painter, Kelly applies an underlying grid before he starts making his daubs inside it. In certain paintings, he leaves the grid visible in the end, which cuts the painting visually, turning it into a seeming collage, where one segment has been excerpted from a particular world or system and the one right next to it represents another place entirely. Grouping the smaller paintings in a grid on the wall has a similar effect. Where is all this information from, and where is it going? It’s a pleasure to wonder.

Old Murder: A Hooker, the Mob, and an Imaginary Corvette

posted by on January 24 at 11:19 AM

Well, a DNA test might have failed to link that 29-year-old “person of interest” to the Capitol Hill stabbing, but a local murder from 1978 has finally been solved, 30 years after the killer, a hooker and hitwoman, confessed to the feds. From the Times:

Karen L. Martin, 52, pleaded guilty last week to second-degree murder for the 1978 shooting of Leroy Grant, 36, according to King County Superior Court documents. She faces between 15 years and life in prison when she is sentenced Feb. 8.

Though Martin confessed to federal investigators and an assistant U.S. attorney about a year after the crime, she wasn’t charged until December 2006, according to court documents. The assistant U.S. attorney, J. Ronald Sim, now a criminal defense attorney, had offered Martin immunity in exchange for information about organized crime, but the immunity was never made official and Sim never told local authorities about her confession.

In 2006, a local cold-case unit interviewed Martin, hinted her DNA had been found at the scene (it hadn’t) and tricked her into confessing all over again.

Leroy Grant was an auto mechanic involved with organized crime who, Martin said, acquired some money “he was not supposed to have gotten.” Martin’s husband, who was in jail at the time, said she could make some money if she killed him.

So Martin met the mechanic, made up a story about a Corvette that needed restoring, drove with him into the woods, and shot him three times.

She was promised $10,000 for killing the auto mechanic. She never got paid.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on January 24 at 11:00 AM

Kick-Ass Sequel

Week of Fun 2:
The Weekening
at Central Cinema

The second annual Week of Fun comedy festival starts today, showcasing the best of Seattle’s alternative comedy scene. How did we get the best? What is alternative comedy? We bribed their egos, and I don’t know. But I do know now is a time for fun, and that’s what this show is. Visit for more info. (Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave, 686-6684. 8 pm, $8, all ages.)


Re: Dept. of Stimulation

posted by on January 24 at 10:55 AM

So Bush is giving us all tax rebates. Hoo-fucking-ray. What bugs me about this “economic stimulus” plan—beyond the fact that it’s of dubious worth (liberal and conservative experts agree that the rebates come too late and that people usually sock them away instead of spending them)—is that it rewards married people with multiple kids—particularly high-income married couples in which the mom stays at home. The rebates will amount to $600 for struggling single workers like me—and $2,400 for a couple in which the man makes $150,000 and the woman stays at home with four kids. Given that we need to stop having so goddamn many kids if we’re going to salvage the planet (and given that married people get all kinds of breaks—breaks that aren’t available to single people, unmarried hetero couples, or gay couples), why are we still paying people to get married and have children?

Footnote 1
: The Democrats agreed to drop expansion of the federal food stamp and unemployment insurance programs in exchange for small rebates ($300) for people too poor to pay federal income taxes—those making around $20,000 for a family of four. As usual, Bush’s plan fucks people at the bottom of the income ladder and those without jobs—and, as usual, the Democrats are going right along with it.

Footnote 2
: Obama’s economic stimulus plan relies heavily on similar tax rebates.

A Wife for Life

posted by on January 24 at 10:39 AM

No analysis from me. If it is true, it is what it is.

The Conjugal Harmony Difference Imagine having a wife who is always glad to see you, never cheats or stays out all night, and who rocks your ever-loving world twice a month with a pent-up vengeance you haven’t felt since college. Now imagine she never takes your credit cards, doesn’t spend all day talking to her mother, and never knows if you’re out with friends or sleeping around. Now stop imagining and open your eyes to the world of Conjugal Harmony. For almost a decade we’ve connected honest, background cleared, non-prisoners with exciting, passionate, loyal mates on the inside, and with rates so low you might think you’re the crook!

The profiles are amazing…



Currently Hanging

posted by on January 24 at 10:30 AM


Robbert Flick’s Untitled, gelatin silver print (1977)

At the Henry Art Gallery, in Silver See, A Portfolio of Photography from Los Angeles.

Pulling Out

posted by on January 24 at 10:07 AM

A little hope during a gloomy week:

At least four major firms have pulled advertising from Michael Savage’s nationally syndicated radio show following a campaign highlighting his inflammatory rhetoric. One other company, Geico insurance, is expected to follow suit.

The campaign, launched recently by Brave New Films, generated thousands of calls urging advertisers on the Savage Nation show to sever financial ties to the widely popular (and frequently offensive) talk host.

In less than a week, four agreed to pull their ads from the show, including Union Bank of California (whose representative says they were advertisers on the Savage show by mistake and were glad to be taken off), Intuit, Chattem, ITT Technical Institute.

Maybe advertisers on John Gibson’s show will follow suit.

More Heath Ledger Feedback

posted by on January 24 at 10:05 AM

After yesterday’s ridiculous bullshit, today brings a heroic burst of sanity from MSNBC’s Dan Abrams:

Further Ledger-related eloquence comes from Slate’s Dana Stevens:

[T]hen there’s Brokeback Mountain, a movie in which Ledger belongs so completely that, in the end, the movie belongs to him. That’s not to discount Jake Gyllenhaal’s fine performance as the volatile, openly needy Jack Twist. But it’s the recalcitrance of Ennis Del Mar, Ledger’s more deeply closeted cowboy, that drives the story forward. Brokeback Mountain isn’t just about the impossibility of two men loving each other; it’s about the impossibility of anyone loving this particular man. Not only Jack Twist, but Ennis’ wife (Michelle Williams, who fell in love with Ledger during the filming) and a dime-a-dance bar girl (Linda Cardellini) all hack away unsuccessfully at Ennis’ shell. I remember, when Brokeback came out, two friends telling me separately that the flinty, secretly tender, intermittently rageful Ennis reminded them painfully of their own shut-down fathers. An impressive achievement for an actor who was 26 at the time.

Agreed. What Ledger accomplished in Brokeback Mountain is exactly why his death affects me in a way that, say, Brad Renfro’s didn’t. Brokeback director Ang Lee concurs:

“Working with Heath was one of the purest joys of my life,” Lee said in a statement released to “He brought to the role of Ennis more than any of us could have imagined…His death is heartbreaking.”

Dept. of Stimulation

posted by on January 24 at 9:36 AM

A tentative deal has been reached on tax rebates. The deal, if finalized, will reportedly deliver

tax rebates starting at $300 and business tax cuts to jolt the slumping economy. Families with children could get even larger rebates.

Those larger rebates for families will be $300 per child. The total cost of the deal will be around $150 billion.

Not everyone is happy with the proposed deal:

The emerging package was already drawing fire from liberal activists and labor unions upset that proposals to extend unemployment insurance and boost food stamps had been dropped. Many Democratic lawmakers had assumed those proposals would make it into the package, and critics of the deal said those ideas could pump money into the economy more quickly than tax rebate checks that won’t be delivered until June.

Washington State Matters

posted by on January 24 at 9:21 AM

The AP reports this morning:

(AP) - Don’t look to crown any presidential nominees on Super Tuesday. The race for delegates is so close in both parties that it is mathematically impossible for any candidate to lock up the nomination on Feb. 5, according to an Associated Press analysis of the states in play that day.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton leads the race for delegates to the Democratic National Convention this summer. She has 236, including separately chosen party and elected officials known as superdelegates, giving her a 100-delegate lead over Sen. Barack Obama.

There will be nearly 1,700 Democratic delegates at stake on Feb. 5, enough to put a candidate well on his or her way to the 2,025 needed to secure the nomination. But even if somehow either Clinton or Obama won every single one of those delegates, it wouldn’t be enough. And with two strong candidates, the delegates could be divided fairly evenly because the Democrats award their delegates proportionally - not winner-take- all.

Our caucus—97 delegates at stake— is on Saturday, February 9.

Now That’s a Lead

posted by on January 24 at 9:08 AM

From William Grimes’ review of The Forger in today’s NYT arts section

In June 1942 a 20-year-old Jew named Cioma Schönhaus stood in front of a Nazi bureaucrat in Berlin for final processing before being deported to a concentration camp in Poland. Asked if he had any money, he replied, “Yes, my lucky penny.” The penny went into the coffers of the Third Reich, duly noted in an account book.

The Forger is a memoir—by Cioma Schönhaus, the kid that lost his lucky penny along with his family—but not his life—to the Nazis.


posted by on January 24 at 8:18 AM

How much do right-wing talkers hate gay people? They hate us so much that they’ll mock a heterosexual actor less than two hours after his tragic and accidental death—why? Because that actor had the nerve to play one gay role over the course of his more than decade-long career. Via Towleroad:

FOX News host John Gibson revelled in Heath Ledger’s death yesterday on his radio show, finding a new opportunity to mock Brokeback Mountain (and by proxy, gay love), which in 2006 he called a “gay agenda movie,” Think Progress reports:

“Playing an audio clip of the iconic quote, ‘I wish I knew how to quit you’ from Ledger’s gay romance movie Brokeback Mountain, Gibson disdainfully quipped, ‘Well, he found out how to quit you.’ Laughing, Gibson then played another clip from Brokeback Mountain in which Ledger said, ‘We’re dead,’ followed by his own, mocking ‘We’re dead’ before playing the clip again.”

Here’s hoping actors and directors in Hollywood take note and, like Barack Obama, refuse to go on Fox News programs. You can hear the clip at Think Progress.


What a fucking pig.

UPDATE: In case you feel so moved…

Gibson’s email: Show’s email: Network’s email: CEO of Fox News:

And, yes, Gibson’s comments go a long way toward perpetuating the injustice documented in the post below this one.

Coming Soon

posted by on January 24 at 8:11 AM

The Morning News

posted by on January 24 at 7:31 AM

Privacy Shmivacy: Senate actually considering giving immunity to phone companies for warrantless wiretaps.

Killing Fields: Starving African refugees slaughtering wildlife to survive.

Body Count: FDA will require drug companies to track suicides during drug trials.

Let the Bidding Begin: Prime 700mhz real estate is now up for sale.

Information and Incarceration: UK government fights release of WMD dossier, pushes legislation to hold terrorism suspects for longer.

Flight Rights: Push for passengers bill of rights hits state senate.

Health Panic of the Day: MRSA and job related stress.

Space Oddity: Virgin Galactic reveals crazy ass commercial spaceship design.

But What Will I Carry My Overpriced Groceries In Now?
Whole Foods tosses plastic bags.

And now, lil’ MoJo blows up big old Shawn Merriman.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Project Runway

posted by on January 23 at 9:45 PM

Madrona Elementary Heightens Security After Funeral

posted by on January 23 at 4:56 PM


33rd Ave & E Spring Street

Madrona Elementary was on alert today, following 14-year-old DeChe Morrison’s funeral last weekend.

Morrison—a freshman at Cleveland high school—was shot and killed on January 11th in South Seattle. The Seattle Police Department’s gang unit has been investigating the murder, and police were also present at Morrison’s funeral.

According to Seattle Schools spokesman David Tucker, district security and Madrona administrators received information which led to the alert. “There were some heightened concerns,” Tucker says, “and we wanted to increase our security as a precautionary measure. Tucker would not comment on the nature of the information the school received.

Today, all but one of the school’s entrances were secured and staff were told to be on alert for visitors. Classes continued as normal.

Flipping Out Locally Since 1991

posted by on January 23 at 4:33 PM

I know it looks the news team (and our film editor) have lost sight of the local scene and are just flipping out about this little thing of nominating the first woman or first African American to run for President of the United States, but really we’re still doing our jobs and obsessing about local news.

This week’s news section is loaded up: Erica C. Barnett has a hot story on big wheel local political fundraiser, Colby Underwood, whose once-fawned-over business (that’s you, Crosscut) seems to have hit some weird snags.

Jonah Spangenthal-Lee continues sussing out evidence of questionable SPD conduct.


And he wraps up our coverage of Rev. Ken Hutcherson’s controversial MLK Day speech at his daughters’ high school.

My Olympia column looks at a bill in the Senate transportation committee (sponsored by the committee chair) that may end Sound Transit as we know it.

And In Other News breaks a little news about the city’s failure to hire more cops and about the Democrats’ Abortion, Amnesty, and Acid agenda in Olympia.

Please check out this week’s full news section here.

In Case of Emergency…

posted by on January 23 at 4:29 PM

…call one of the Olsen twins?

The masseuse who discovered the body of Heath Ledger in a Manhattan apartment on Tuesday twice called a friend of his, the actress Mary-Kate Olsen, before calling 911, New York City police officials said on Wednesday.

Apparently Ms. Olsen has her own police force:

A masseuse, Diana Wolozin, arrived to give Mr. Ledger a massage about 2:45 p.m. At 3 p.m., after Mr. Ledger did not emerge from his bedroom, with the door closed, the masseuse called him on his cellphone but got no answer. She entered the bedroom and saw him lying in bed. She took a massage table out of the closet and began to set it up near his bed. She then went over to him and shook him, but got no response. Using his cellphone, she used a speed-dial button to call Ms. Olsen in California to seek her guidance, knowing Ms. Olsen to be a friend of Mr. Ledger’s.

According to the authorities, Ms. Wolozin told Ms. Olsen that Mr. Ledger was unconscious. Ms. Olsen said she would call some private security people she knew in New York, and hung up. Ms. Wolozin again shook Mr. Ledger, called Ms. Olsen a second time, and said she believed the situation was grave and would call 911…. Emergency medical workers arrived at 3:33 p.m., at almost exactly the same moment as a private security guard summoned by Ms. Olsen.

In the Last 24 Hours on Line Out

posted by on January 23 at 3:42 PM

God of the Sea: The Duke Spirit will release Neptune Feb 4.

Hey There: I don’t know why you’d want to, but meet the real life Delilah.

More Italo Disco: Terry Miller on Jane & Barton.

Win Free Tickets: The Showbox gives away tickets to next week’s Liars show.

Today in Local Hiphop: Brought to you by Larry and Charles.

Illegal Leak of the Week: The new Mountain Goats, Heretic Pride.

Lick My What?: An 8th grader reviews Captain Beefheart.

Different Strokes: Nate Dogg is recovering from a mild stroke.

Sunday Bloody Sunset: Kwab Copeland returns to the Sunset with a new Sunday afternoon showcase.

Skeletons With Flesh on Them: Their new record uses Jeff Kirby’s favorite aspects of jangly ’90s indie pop rock.

Parents Just Don’t Understand: Eric Grandy’s mom cut up his Gas Huffer t-shirt and threw it in the trash.

Presidents of the USA Announce Seattle Show: With USE!

The Debate Continues: Will King Cobra survive? Should we even be asking that question?

And now, a smoking wallaby:


(Thanks, Robby.)

In/Visible Is Up: The Roaming Sculptures of John Grade

posted by on January 23 at 3:15 PM


The man with his back to us in the photograph above is Seattle artist John Grade. Mounted on him is his sculpture Collector: two horn shapes made of interlocking wood parts, first displayed at Davidson Contemporary Gallery last year. Back then, the piece hung on the white wall—in a refined state. That was before Grade took it hiking.

Now, the piece has acquired a mane of seaweed: It lies among the oysters—watched over by some oystermen—in Willapa Bay. Here are views of it there.



Later this year, Grade will take it out of the water, remove the oysters that have grown on it, and eat them in a formal feast on the site. After that, the horns will be mounted onto the front of Grade’s red pickup truck, where they’ll acquire a layer of bug guts as he drives them down to a slot canyon in Utah.

This particular canyon was the driving force behind the shape of the horns in the first place—that and an experience Grade had with hostile Ugandans during a trip a few years ago. (For the full story on that, you have to listen to the podcast.) The horns were shaped to fit snugly into the canyon, and in the spring, the rushing water that goes through the canyon will either scrub the horns bone-clean, or destroy them. Grade will wait to see.

Until recently, Grade was known mostly for his small, intensely controlled charcoal and graphite drawings, like this one, Bog (2005).


His other familiar work was finely wrought, faux-weathered sculptures. The new work comes out of both these traditions. It’s formally tight, at least to start. It’s not faux-weathered, it actually weathers. It changes with its site, like the process work of Turner Prize winner Simon Starling, and according to the lapsing of time, like (Turner Prize nominee) Darren Almond’s videos. (Grade admires both British artists.)

Bog is a drawing that refers directly to an installation Grade unveiled last week: a giant, sagging false ceiling dotted with craters, made of paper pulp and hanging in Suyama Space in Belltown. That’s where I met him to talk for this podcast.

Seeps of Winter is the new installation’s title. Grade first got the idea for it during a residency near a bog in Mayo County, Ireland. Running by, Grade couldn’t help thinking about the human beings frozen under the thick surfaces of bogs for thousands of years—the ones who surface occasionally, staring upward. In Suyama Space, the false ceiling acts as the bog surface; you can lie on the floor to look through at the natural light above.


Like Collector, Seeps of Winter has an adventurous life ahead of it.

Hear about it here.

Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father…

posted by on January 23 at 3:09 PM

A man accused of drugging his 9-year-old daughter with cold medicine so he could meet his mistress has pleaded guilty to endangerment for leaving the girl and her younger sister alone at night.

In court, Richard Bowen did not admit to giving one girl Nyquil so she would sleep, but prosecutors said he admitted it during phone calls from jail.

Police said Bowen was responsible for his 8- and 9-year-old daughters while his wife worked overnight. On several occasions between February and May, he allegedly gave the cold medicine to the 9-year-old, then put both girls to bed before leaving to visit his mistress.

If the wife was at work and the kids were drugged… why not invite the piece-on-the-side over? That’s what any responsible gay parent would do.

Baby Soft, Literally

posted by on January 23 at 3:08 PM

Actual ad from a 1976 issue of Tiger Beat:


And I thought those tween-porn American Apparel ads were creepy.


Avian Flu

posted by on January 23 at 3:03 PM

Yeah, it’s a hopeless cause, but isn’t it odd how ECB has somehow overlooked her pet issue when deciding which candidate to support?

When we think of the major threats to our national security, the first to come to mind are nuclear proliferation, rogue states and global terrorism. But another kind of threat lurks beyond our shores, one from nature, not humans - an avian flu pandemic. — Barack Obama, 2005

Floor speeches, successful legislation—what’s a guy gotta do to buy a flu-fearer’s love?

(Yes, of course I know about the faux scandal. Blind trust, he lost money, etc.)

H5N1 says, vote against Barack Obama!

Savage Love Letter of the Day: An Email Exchange

posted by on January 23 at 3:00 PM

I’ve been dating this guy, a year older and supposedly way more experienced than I am, for about a month and a half. At first it seemed we had a lot in common but then everything started going down hill FAST. He is really sensitive about everything and has insisted on calling me 2-3 times and hour, and if I don’t pick up he has his friend call me to see whats up. He’s basically a cross between an uber-preppy rich girl and a puppy but over-weight, broke, male, and has no fashion sense. He’s clingy and likes to invite himself over A LOT.

The thing that REALLY pissed me off was when he had the audacity to call me spoiled. I work full time and go to college full time, along with having another job on the side. He’s 20, not going to school, has no job; in fact, he never has, lives with his parents rent free, doesn’t clean, doesn’t even have a license. I’m paying my own way through college on a very small government loan. I don’t think I’m the spoiled one here.

He pisses me off to a point where I’ve called his mom to pick him up. I haven’t talked to him at all in 2 weeks. Another problem is since I haven’t been talking to him I’ve been thinking a lot about this girl i liked in high school. We still talk and she’s made it clear she likes me. What the hell should I do???


You’re kidding, right? DTMFA.
I wish I were. I’m a nineteen year old girl, I work in theater, as a techie, I can’t deal with dating a guy who makes Elle Woods look like a lumberjack. I’m forced to deal with enough prima-donnas already. And this other girl, I’ve worked with her on and off for 4 years and we always have fun. So what do you think I should do, my Savage guru?


I think you should dump the motherfucker already. Why are you even wasting your time on this clingy piece of loser shit? And if you would rather date the girl, date the girl already. Sheesh.

It’s Hard to Imagine a More Powerful Metaphor Than Building a Fence.

posted by on January 23 at 2:32 PM

Oh, here’s one: Knocking it down.

Today’s big story in the NYT stars Hamas knocking down an Israeli-built border fence between Gaza and Egypt that had cut Palestinians off from essential supplies.

The history-making quote, in my opinion, is here:

People began pouring over the fence before dawn, said one witness, Fatan Hessin, 45. She had crossed into Egypt to be reunited with a childhood friend. “I am not Hamas or Fatah, but I thank Hamas for this,” she said.

How Did This Happen on Ken Hutcherson’s Watch?

posted by on January 23 at 2:30 PM

Washington state has the faggiest state legislature in the whole faggy country.

The Washington state Legislature has more openly gay lawmakers than any other state in the country, edging out California after a new young representative was appointed to the statehouse this year.

Marko Liias, a 26-year-old Democrat from Mukilteo, started the legislative session earlier this month, replacing former Rep. Brian Sullivan, who left the Legislature for the Snohomish County Council. Liias’ arrival gives Washington six openly gay lawmakers, ahead of California’s five.

Some of California’s openly gay lawmakers are lesbians, while all of Washington state’s openly gay lawmakers are gay men. So Ken won’t think the state has totally gone to hell. But still.

Magnolia’s Rodent Stud Farm

posted by on January 23 at 2:17 PM

Now I know where to go when I need a Guinea pig or some other rodent for, well, that’s between me and the rodents—which I can acquire from the white van parked parked by the train tracks across from the Boxcar. From Sleepless in Magnolia:

This creep was parked for the majority of saturday down by the train tracks accross from the Boxcar watering hole. Out of sheer curiosity and annoyance I decided to investigate. When I approached the rear of the van (which was open) I saw no less than a dozen small animal wire cages lining the inside of the van, and a potent odor of cigarettes and animal waste. When I asked this man what he was doing, he proudly told me “I’m sellin’ them guineas!!” He proceeded to tell me that he breeds guinea pigs and other rodents in high numbers and sells them around the neighboorhood. There were no license plates, but I immediatley called 911 to report what I’d seen. The officers assured me they would look into it. I am disgusted by what I saw and hope that this neighboorhood does not become some sort of RODENT STUD FARM as a result of this man’s filthy habit and fetish. Has anyone else seen this monster?

Rodent fetishist? Or enterprising small businessman?

Thanks to Slog tipper CJ.


posted by on January 23 at 2:10 PM

TPM is reporting that former Nixon dirty trickster Roger Stone has launched a new group opposed to Hillary Clinton: “Citizens United Not Timid: A 527 Organization to Educate the American Public About What Hillary Clinton Really Is.” Meanwhile, an all-male news panel on MSNBC cackled when commentator Mike Barnicle said Clinton looked like “everyone’s first wife standing outside a probate court” when she reacted to Obama in Monday’s debate.

Clinton. Connecting with Voters?

posted by on January 23 at 1:23 PM

It seems to me that every time there’s a televised debate starring the Democratic candidates, it helps Hillary Clinton.

She was supposed to get walloped in NH. There was a debate. She won the primary three days later.

Nevada was supposed to be too close to call. There was a debate. She cleaned up the popular vote.

In South Carolina there was a debate on Monday that set a national cable viewership record for debates—4.9 million viewers.

Well, check out the national tracking polls. On the day of the debate (Monday night 1/19) Clinton was leading Obama 38 to 32. She’d been hovering between 37 and 38 for a while. Well, promptly after the debate in SC she jumped to a 42 to 30 lead.

My gut tells me Obama is the better nominee, but Clinton sure seems to score points with the public after televised debates.

Obama is supposed to win SC pretty handily and that might give him some momentum going into February 5th’s primary showdown, but there’s also going to be another Democratic debate in Los Angeles on January 31.

Here’s hoping CNN pulls a Kucinich on Edwards, and we get to see Obama and Clinton really tangle.

Still No Arrests In Shannon Harps’ Murder

posted by on January 23 at 1:16 PM

The Seattle Police Department just sent out a press release, saying that “forensic testing and investigative efforts” have not led to an arrest in the murder of Shannon Harps, who was fatally stabbed outside of her Capitol Hill condo on New Year’s Eve.

SPD’s announcement comes days after news that DNA tests were being done on a 29-year-old man—being held on an unrelated Department of Corrections violation—to see if he could be linked to Harps’ murder.

Seattle Police would not confirm whether their press release was related to the 29-year-old man’s DNA test. However, they did confirm that they don’t have anyone in custody for the murder.

SPD has increased patrols on Capitol Hill, and is advising residents to “remain vigilant.”

Teachers’ Union Wins Email Privacy Case

posted by on January 23 at 1:01 PM

A superior court judge has ruled in favor of the Seattle Education Association (SEA), which filed an injunction to quash a public disclosure request filed with the Seattle School District last October.

The union argued that requested emails—communications between union representatives about contracts and teacher grievances, sent through their district email accounts—could unfairly impact future collective bargaining with the district.

Indeed, the judge agreed and the requested emails have been sealed. According to the court, the emails are not “public records” even though they were sent over the district’s public email server. Typically, public agencies’ emails are subject to disclosure requests.

Because the ruling does not address future disclosure requests, Seattle Public Schools Spokesman David Tucker says the district will comply with future requests, unless a court says otherwise.

Haggling for Haggis

posted by on January 23 at 12:59 PM

Reuters reports that Scotland is considering lobbying the U.S. to lift a ban on haggis, hoping to boost sales of the sheep-stomach-based national dish.

The U.S. banned imports of Scottish haggis after Britain’s outbreak of mad cow disease, which is linked to the human brain illness Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

Scotland’s government insist its haggis — which usually contains the heart, liver and lungs wrapped inside a sheep’s stomach lining — is safe and wants the ban lifted.

“The Scottish government will consider engaging the U.S. government on its haggis import ban … It is safe or we wouldn’t eat it here,” said a spokeswoman. “We think there is a large market for it amongst expatriate Scots there.”

Stay tuned for further updates on the lifting of the haggis ban. In the meantime, those craving the taste of sheep stomach but fearful of meat-borne illness can enjoy this:


Yes, it’s real. Savage bought it for me in Yoorup. Ingredients listed on back: oatmeal, turnip, vegetable fat, kidney beans, lentils, onions, mushrooms, mixed chopped peanuts/walnuts/almonds, water, seasoning, herbs. I will never eat it. (But I may consider auctioning it in next year’s Strangercrombie.)

Morbid Thoughts As The Flight Crew Closes the Cabin Door

posted by on January 23 at 12:45 PM


The only interesting/beautiful thing about LAX—that space ship held aloft by soaring concrete arches—is covered in scaffolding right now. And it actually makes the thing more beautiful, particularly when you drive under it.

Anyway, sitting on the plane, bracing myself for my flight home from LA last Saturday, a recurring morbid thought tormented me as we taxied to the runway: The takeoff and landing are the deadliest and most dangerous moments of a flight. Takeoffs and landings: that’s when the overwhelming majority of plane crashes occur. So if the plane I was on was fated to crash and I was going to die on this flight… would I prefer die during the take off or landing? Everyone agrees that flying is thoroughly miserable… so why endure the misery of the flight itself if you’re just going to die on landing? Better to die on takeoff. But everyone also agrees that every single moment of life a precious, precious gift and a few extra hours of life—spent reading, thinking, sipping a ginger ale, and wishing the two people behind you would shut up so you could sleep—are worth savoring even if you’re doomed to spend them on an old, filthy Alaska Airlines jet. Better to die on landing.

I go back and forth when I white-knuckle my way through this entertaining little debate. Sometimes I decided it would be better to die during takeoff, sometimes I decide it would be better to die during landing. I’d like to settle this debate once and for all, though, so I’m putting it to a vote. Die on takeoff or die on landing? It’s up to you, Sloggers….

Flickr Photo of the Day

posted by on January 23 at 12:00 PM

From Flickr pool contributor bianca g


Turnabout Is Fair Play?

posted by on January 23 at 11:59 AM

Even though Derick Phanord confessed to setting his pit bull on fire last year, tying it to a tree and leaving it for dead, the Brentwood man said in court yesterday that he loves animals and is heavy with guilt for killing his pet.

Al Gore Endorses…

posted by on January 23 at 11:57 AM

…gay marriage.

“Gay men and women ought to have the same rights as heterosexual men and women—to make contracts, to have hospital visiting rights, to join together in marriage, and I don’t understand why it is considered by some people to be a threat to heterosexual marriage. Shouldn’t we be promoting [that] kind of faithfulness and loyalty to ones partner regardless of sexual orientation?”

He is so not running for president.

Re: Rick Boucher Endorses Obama

posted by on January 23 at 11:57 AM

Funny, you’d think if Obama was under “Big Coal“‘s thumb that he’d at least make the top 20 recipients of coal industry donations for the 2007-8 cycle. Clinton is number 20 with $9,200; Obama isn’t ranked there, but has received $4,795 from the coal industry.

Here’s what Clinton had to say about the virtues of clean coal in 2006:

We have to deal with coal, because we have huge resources of coal. Coal is to us what oil is to Saudi Arabia. And part of our domestic strategy must involve coal.

But unless we learn to burn it cleanly, the price of independence from imported oil by using coal will be accelerated global warming. Even if the United States never burned another lump of coal, China is bringing on-line a 1,000 megawatt coal-fired power plant every 10 days. So if we’re going to reassert our leadership on climate change — which I think we should — we’ve got to deal with coal.

And the first step is to take a mandatory cap-and-trade system, like that developed in the McCain-Lieberman legislation that I support, but obviously going out and trying to reengage the rest of the world in this issue.

But unless we get to clean coal, it’s going to be very hard to achieve.

Geologic sequestration, storing carbon deep within the earth after you extract the carbon from the burning coal, holds the key to making coal use compatible with the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Scientists believe we will be able to store nearly all of the carbon dioxide we currently emit for hundreds of years. But we need more real-world data, and that can only come from large-scale testing.

I propose we do two things to scale up the potential of clean coal.

First, undertake five large-scale tests of geologic sequestration in a variety of settings to really investigate the viability of this technology.

Second, provide tax credits for carbon sequestration to encourage domestic oil production. Oil companies already inject carbon dioxide into mature fields like the ones we have here in the United States to recover oil. The Department of Energy estimates that with oil priced at $40 or higher per barrel, it is economical, with ample CO2 supply, to use CO2 to recover 47 billion barrels of oil from existing U.S. fields.

Think of what we could recover at today’s prices, as we were cleaning the air at the same time.

Her Strategic Energy Fund makes a number of promises, but first on the list is clean coal:

Deliver Clean Coal Technology. $3.5 billion in tax incentives and grants to build 5 clean coal plants that can capture and store carbon dioxide and reduce global warming.

Look, I don’t think Obama is perfect on coal. He’s from a coal-producing state, and his voting record reflects that constituency. But let’s not pretend Clinton is any better on this issue.

Remember when Clinton went to bat for a major polluter?

News Flash: Seattle Housing Market Tanked in ‘07

posted by on January 23 at 11:43 AM

The department of things you already knew has released another ground-breaking report. This one, by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, says housing prices in Seattle jumped the shark last August. Thank you, experts. The PI takes on the task of breaking it down for us over here.

What does this all mean to readers? Houses are cheaper or prices are at least leveling. And how do the buyers feel? Elated? Well, who knows. The article is titled, “Two sides to ‘07 housing market,” but there is only one side to the story: Doom and gloom.

“We had a very strong market in King County until August hit,” said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and chief executive of John L. Scott Real Estate.

Glenn Crellin, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at Washington State University, expected that slower sales eventually would affect prices. He theorized that the median prices earlier in 2007 were masking some softness because buyers were getting more for their money, rather than spending less.

“Finally, it got to the point where they were able to afford all they wanted and spend less money, too,” he said.

But Crellin said the softness would continue if inventory surges this spring, and some other analysts were gloomier.

“If you find a place that you like and you can afford it, are you really going to try to time the market?” he asked. “Because, when it really comes down to it, nobody knows.”

Oh, fucking Jesus in hell. You’d think a kitten dies every time someone buys a bungalow for less than a million dollars. Ya know, prices can drop but developers and real estate agents will still make money, albeit a bit less. I know this may be sad for them, but this article never bothers to say, “Hey, maybe the housing bubble was totes over-inflated and this means that people can afford houses. We don’t want a scarce housing supply in a region that has high demand; we can fill in with apartments, condos, and more houses.” The plateau is a good thing. It’s not a tragedy that housing prices won’t forever be rocketing upward. This is the real estate market—the thinking outside the pages Seattle’s daily papers is that it will resume at a more reasonable pace in a couple years.

Live Slogging Project Runway

posted by on January 23 at 11:39 AM

It’s a bad sign that I can’t remember who was eliminated on Project Runway last week. All I know for sure is that it wasn’t Ricky, which was criminal. There’s no excuse for his continued presence on the show after this. I mean, please.

But I’m going to be tuning in tonight regardless. He’s gotta get the boot this week and I want to drink his bitter, bitter tears. So we’ll be Live Slogging PR tonight. Sorry we neglected to Live Slog last week’s episode—and the last Democratic debate, which was almost as important—but, uh, we were drunk or something. Or out of town. Anyway… 10 PM tonight.

Coffee Comes Full Circle

posted by on January 23 at 11:29 AM

Faced with growing competition from cheaper rivals, Starbucks Corp. is testing $1 short cups of drip coffee with free refills in its hometown.

Free Stuff for Xbox Nerds

posted by on January 23 at 11:22 AM


Do you own an Xbox 360? Then you should turn it on at some point between today and Sunday, connect it to the Internet, and dig through its downloadable games section. Doesn’t matter if you subscribe to the system’s paid online service or not; Microsoft is giving away a free game until Sunday, and it ain’t too shabby. Undertow is the latest in the burgeoning sea-combat genre, ranking right up there with…uh…um…the Jaws game for NES from the ’80s? No matter. You swim around and blow people up. Looks nice, controls smoothly. There’s not much of a learning curve, so the fun is immediate, and now that tons of people are nabbing the game, Undertow’s online team fights might finally be interesting.

Boy, aren’t our friends in Redmond some charitable folks? Thing is, the move is in response to the Xbox Live servers crashing and melting a few weeks ago, right around Christmas. Fanboys got pissed, posting their rage on Digg an average of two times for every racist epithet they weren’t able to shout on Xbox Live during the holidays. Even though MS quickly announced a game giveaway to calm the throngs, it was too little too late for three gamers who filed a class-action lawsuit. This is rich—the week of semi-outage comes to a grand total of not even one dollar per person ($50/year = 13 cents/day). Yeah, I get how class-action suits work—huge lump sum to cover every affected person—but seriously. If you’re lucky, guys, Microsoft will settle by offering you a free copy of Xbox Scientific Calculator ‘09.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on January 23 at 11:00 AM


Gui Boratto at Nectar

The title of Gui Boratto’s Chromophobia is one hell of a misnomer. The Brazilian producer’s debut full-length is about as bright and colorful as minimal techno can be, full of bubbling, rhythmic arpeggios, warm washes of synth, and even the occasional acoustic piano or natural voice. His live set should bring equal parts beauty and bounce. Openers Lusine and Jerry Abstract are two of Seattle’s top electronic talents. Between them, they span everything from delicate ambient to crushing industrial techno. (Nectar, 412 N 36th St, 632-2020. 9 pm, $10, 21+.)


Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on January 23 at 11:00 AM


Gui Boratto at Nectar

The title of Gui Boratto’s Chromophobia is one hell of a misnomer. The Brazilian producer’s debut full-length is about as bright and colorful as minimal techno can be, full of bubbling, rhythmic arpeggios, warm washes of synth, and even the occasional acoustic piano or natural voice. His live set should bring equal parts beauty and bounce. Openers Lusine and Jerry Abstract are two of Seattle’s top electronic talents. Between them, they span everything from delicate ambient to crushing industrial techno. (Nectar, 412 N 36th St, 632-2020. 9 pm, $10, 21+.)


Currently Hanging

posted by on January 23 at 10:30 AM


Fire Retard Ants (Fred Muram and Mike Simi), Why Do You Piss With the Door Open? (2007)


Racist Economist?

posted by on January 23 at 9:33 AM

-15.jpg How else are we to read this cover?

Important Public Hearing Next Monday at Seattle Center

posted by on January 23 at 9:30 AM

There will be a public hearing on January 28 at Seattle Center’s Rainier Room at 6:00pm about a City proposal to expand its power to sweep up homeless encampments.

To get up-to-date on the issue, check out Real Change, which has been doing a series of reports on the new proposal.

Also check out Real Change Executive Director Tim Harris’s blog. He’s pretty fired up:

It is unacceptable to allow the work of ending homelessness to be confused with the systematic practice of eradicating the evidence. By harassing homeless campers out of the city, we only deepen their misery and decrease the odds that they will ever find the services they need.

This week, Seattle will hold the Annual One Night Homeless Count. More than 700 volunteers will fan out through the city in the middle of the night to assess whether we’re winning or losing the war.

By turning the fight against homelessness into an attack upon the homeless themselves, the Mayor has undermined the integrity of the longest-running, most sophisticated homeless count effort in the nation.

This is profoundly sad. And sadder still if he gets away with it.

Meanwhile in Jackson, Michigan…

posted by on January 23 at 9:29 AM


Um… I’m not sure what this message is driving at or what I’m missing exactly—besides an apostrophe, of course—but I can’t quite see how this message moves soft-serve ice cream. Would it make more sense if there was “but” before that “were”? Or maybe you have to be from Michigan to get it? Kelly O? Care to translate?

Thanks to Slog tipper Matthew.

O They Will Know We Are Christians By Our…

posted by on January 23 at 9:21 AM

…criminal backrub technique.

Prosecutors Tuesday said the Rev. William Procanick’s guilty verdict of sexually abusing a 7-year-old girl suggested nobody should mistake his actions for a harmless backrub.

“It was apparent the jury found that he had, in fact, went beyond a simple backrub in caressing and massaging the sexual or intimate parts of a child for the purpose of sexual gratification,” Assistant District Attorney Doug DeMarche Jr. said.

Procanick, the 54-year-old former pastor of Resurrection Assembly of God church on Kirkland Avenue, was found guilty in Oneida County Court of first-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.

Obama’s a Muslim, but Clinton’s a Jew!

posted by on January 23 at 8:31 AM

While there’s obviously a subterranean campaign to convince people that Barack Obama is (gasp!) a Muslim who was sworn in to the Senate on a Koran, there also seems to be—at least judging by the e-mails we get here at The Stranger—a campaign to convince people that Hillary Clinton is controlled by the Zionists.

Here’s a bit from this morning’s installment from the “Civilian Intelligence Network.”

Let there be no mistake the Clinton’s have been chosen by the New York Zionist to be the next President’s of America . The agreement was made many years ago. Al Gore and John Kerry both won their Elections the Zionist cheated in New Hampshire and Nevada the Zionist represent the Clinton’s and the answers are below in the words of the Zionist on how they manipulate and cheat! Remember All Zionist Are Not Bad! The Zionist intelligence agency knew on 911 what was going to happen and let it happen to get the United Statesinto a war in the Middle East. Stay tuned for the story why the Zionist took out Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Surprise, Surprise

posted by on January 23 at 8:23 AM

Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church is planning to picket Heath Ledger’s funeral.

Yes. WBC will picket this pervert’s funeral, in religious protest and warning: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked.” Gal. 6:7. Heath Ledger thought it was great fun defying God Almighty and his plain word; to wit: God Hates Fags! & Fag Enablers! Ergo, God hates the sordid tacky, bucket of slime seasoned with vomit known as Brokeback Mountain—and He hates all persons having anything whatsoever to do with it. Heath Ledger is now in Hell, and has begun serving his eternal sentence there—beside which, nothing else about Heath Ledger is relevant or consequential.


Speaking of religion making people insane: Yesterday an Afghan court sentenced a 23-year-old journalism student to death for printing a paper critical of Islam off the internet.

Good News about W

posted by on January 23 at 7:50 AM

Less than a year left to endure.

How to Kill a Pig

posted by on January 23 at 7:38 AM

A week ago Sunday, a couple dozen people paid $40 each to go to a farm in Port Orchard, watch a pig die, butcher it, and then eat (parts of) it. Watching animals die (or killing them personally) is the latest trend for chefs—see this New York Times piece—but this event, put on by Seattle’s Culinary Communion, was open to the public.

The pig was named Hector and insistently referred to as such, even when very dead, a conceit I found precious. You don’t name a ham. So, this is Hector:


After the break, a photo essay including a couple more shots of Hector and then plenty of The Pig Formerly Known as Hector. This is not for the squeamish.

Photos by Reena Kawal

Continue reading "How to Kill a Pig" »

The Morning News

posted by on January 23 at 7:36 AM

935: The number of false statements made by the Bush administration leading up to the war.

Body Count: War in Congo kills 45,000 every month.

And So It Begins: India on the verge of a bird flu disaster.

Case Closed: Jose Padilla sentenced to 17 years in prison.

That Other Presidential Race: Russian prosecutors open case against Putin opponent, alleging signature gathering fraud.

By The Numbers: New York chain restaurants now required to list calorie counts.

Only Sixty Bazillion More to Go: China shuts down 44,000 porn sites, internet fails to notice.

High-Ankle Sham: Tom Brady strolls through NYC wearing a leg cast.

And now, another 2007 NFL highlight:

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Big Coal Advocate Endorses Obama

posted by on January 22 at 5:18 PM

Rick Boucher, Big Coal’s anti-cap-and-trade water boy in Congress (known in environmental circles as D-Coal) has endorsed Obama. I’m not saying you can judge a person’s politics entirely by the people they surround themselves with, but the combination of Obama’s endorsements, his campaign statements, and his record in Congress makes a pretty convincing case that Obama has been, and will be, no great friend of the environment.

In the Last 24 Hours on Line Out

posted by on January 22 at 3:34 PM

Truth is Stranger Than Fiction: Trent Moorman’s real vs fake band name game. Oh, and something about smoking crack.

Eric Grandy Asks a Valid Question Regarding the Future of a New Club: And everyone gets all snippy.

Cheering for the Underdog: TJ Gorton on LTG Exchange.

Valerie Dore: Terry Miller examines the project, not the woman.

PWRFL Power Tour Diary: Kaz’s crazy trip continues with stories about esurance, French toast, and a black beret hat.

Comback Kid: David Schmader examines why Kimya Dawson is (deservedly and suddenly) hot shit.

Tonight in Music: Whiting Tennis at the Rendezvous.

Coming to Seattle: Ellen Allien and Sascha Funke.

Matador Signs Another Pretty Girls Spin-Off: Cave Singers were first, now it’s Jaguar Love’s turn.

The Password is What? Exactly!: The best moment in Purple Rain.

Jenny Bendel to Book King Cobra: Just in case you haven’t already heard.

Coachella Announces Their Line-Up: And it’s sorta boring.

And from Kimya Dawson’s appearance on The View:


Savage Love Letter of the Day

posted by on January 22 at 3:00 PM

am sorry about my question. am a little embarrass about asking you this. first of all i read your article in the village voice newspaper. am a married woman and my husband want to have sex with me from behind. but am scared because he has a big package. am scared i will get hurt. i want to make him happy but i don’t know what to do. he is always mad at me. can you help me.

Don’t have anal sex with someone that is mad at you.

Anal sex requires a lot of preparation and you need to be relaxed and comfortable and be to trust that the person fucking your ass is as concerned with your health and safety and pleasure as he is with his own. Your husband’s hostility and selfishness is going to make you feel anything but relaxed or comfortable. If he can’t let go of the anger, don’t have anal sex with him at all, ever, period. If he can let go of the anger, anonymous married lady, here’s how to overcome your fear…

Engage in mutually agreeable anal sex play the first few DOZEN times you explore your butt. This means NO big-package-in-butt penetration for you, no expectation of big-package-in-butt penetration on his part, for the first few DOZEN or so times. Only tongues, fingers, and small toys—SMALL dildos or buttplugs and vibrators—at the start. Have a few dozen orgasms during safe and low-stakes anal explorations and you may start to associate anal play with pleasure, not fear. Then you can work up to full-on anal penetration—which can only be done with LOTS of lube and patience and consideration.

You CAN get hurt having anal sex with an angry, inconsiderate, or impatient partner. If your husband is any or all of those things, anonymous married lady, tell him it’s just not going to happen.

I also recommend that you buy these two books:

The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women by Tristan Taormino, and Anal Pleasure & Health by Jack Morin.

And tell your husband that nothing—not tongues, fingers, toes, toys, or dick—is going anywhere near your ass until he reads both these books. (You, of course, should read them too.) You can have anal sex with someone that has a big package—lots of folks do—but you shouldn’t do it under duress.

Back to the Future

posted by on January 22 at 2:55 PM

The world’s first commercial cargo ship partially powered by a giant kite is setting sail from Germany to Venezuela.
The designers of the MS Beluga Skysails say the computer-controlled kite, measuring 160sq m (1,722sq ft), could cut fuel consumption by as much as 20%.


Rest of the story is here.

The SkySails website (“turn the wind into profit!”) is here.

Re: Heath Ledger Found Dead

posted by on January 22 at 2:52 PM

Text messages exchanged in the wake of Heath Ledger’s devastating end:

RIP Heath Ledger!
I feel hella sad about that one, bro. I mean, not quite as insane as the Croc Hunter, but 2nd place for sure.
Totally. I was like, how could Ledge be deceased when Bonaduce is roaming around town with steroids for blood?
GOOD POINT! Also, I feel like I should get the afternoon off for bereavement leave.
I know. I just talked to Sonia and we think that this might beat out Steve Irwin, because he DID hunt crocs for a living. Also, do we really have to start on the James Dean comparisons?
Seriously. Car accident is not the same as OD in M-K’s apt. He’s more like the next Renfro, if you have to make a nonsense comparison.
GP. God, I’m barely over Renfro. BTW, the coverage of this on cable news is hilarious. They called him a gypsy!
Well, he WAS constantly crystal-gazing. And he did train Matilda to pick the fanny packs of unsuspecting white tourists.
Now they’re saying that playing the Joker haunted him and gave him insomnia. REALLY? HAUNTED TO DEATH BY THE JOKER?
RIP, man. RIP.
Thanks to Meags for the up-to-the-minute coverage, and for that really good point about Danny Bonaduce.

The Terry Gilliam Curse Lives

posted by on January 22 at 2:40 PM


Director Terry Gilliam has a long, complicated history of his movie projects suffering catastrophic disasters. There’s even a documentary about it: Lost in La Mancha.

His latest? He is in the middle of filming The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus starring Heath Ledger.

La Femme Niki

posted by on January 22 at 2:30 PM

Because this is the kind of work she made for more than two decades before she died in 2002, this is what a work of art by Niki de Saint Phalle is generally understood to look like:




But there’s another, far lesser-known Niki de Saint Phalle: Niki the Shooter. According to the Tate Modern’s web site, de Saint Phalle started attaching paint-filled bags to backings and shooting them in 1960—and she stopped in 1963, saying, “I had become addicted to shooting.”

Continue reading "La Femme Niki" »

Heath Ledger Found Dead in His NY Apartment

posted by on January 22 at 1:55 PM


Here’s the story.

Dear Science Letter of the Day

posted by on January 22 at 12:50 PM

This letter to Dear Science just came in.

Dear Science,

This may sound like a sarcastic or “trying to be funny” question, but I am honestly curious why there are certain locations that seem to trigger a bowel movement quicker than others ie; home, office etc. Examples for me include the housewares dept @ Broadway QFC, Value Village Men’s clothing Dept., the public library & just about any bookstore. Not only do these places create a kind of enigmatic laxative the feeling to poo is intensified & feels more immediate (I’ve heard thinking of sex can help alieviate this feeling). And considering the difficulty that can be encountered attempting to convince store management etc to allow you to use their facilities this can be quite a frightening event. There have been a couple of times I have literally had to leave my basket in the store, run across the street to my apartment then return to finish my shopping. I have had a couple of really close calls with this scenario.

Please advise,
Bothered Bowels

I think I speak for everyone, Golob, when I say that we’re looking forward to your reply.

They’ll Be Missed

posted by on January 22 at 12:19 PM


One More Year

posted by on January 22 at 12:17 PM


Mike Holmgren will reportedly return as head coach of the Seahawks next season.

On a related note: Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy has also announced he will return for one more season, which prompted some inspired snark from The Hater Nation:

Tony Dungy will return to coach the Colts for one more season, saying that he has enough passion to balance the three loves of his life: family, football, and gay bashing. Dungy still has that competitive fire burning in him, and realizes that he still has plenty of time to go before he devotes his life to making sure that homosexuals do not have the same civil rights as everybody else.

“There is plenty of time to clean up those filthy queers,” is probably what Dungy meant to say.

Two Thompsons Down

posted by on January 22 at 11:52 AM

First Tommy, now Fred

Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson quit the Republican presidential race on Tuesday, after a string of poor finishes in early primary and caucus states. “Today, I have withdrawn my candidacy for president of the United States. I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort,” Thompson said in a statement.

…with only Mitt, John, Mike, Rudy, and Ron left to go. All save one will drop out of the race and one very lucky boy—fingers, toes, legs, eyes, nuts crossed—is going to make a concession speech on November 4, 2008.

Something to Hope For

posted by on January 22 at 11:50 AM

You wouldn’t think Seattle needed another theater company, but the New Century Theater Company, despite its eminently forgettable name, looks promising—just because of the people involved. In fact, I think The Stranger has written enthusiastic sentences about all of them. There’s…

• Stranger Genius Award winner Amy Thone: “Her directness, her lack of artifice, is what makes her a great actor. When Thone walks onto a stage, she sucks all the frivolity out of the room, makes you lean forward to listen. Her presence is regal, never clownish. She is the opposite of coy.”

Hans Altweis: “without a doubt, the best Shakespeare actor in the city.”

• Playwright Stephanie Timm, who wrote Crumbs Are Also Bread, performed last year by WET. From a review of Timm’s W(h)acked by Lindy West: “This play did not cure my hangover. It did, however, captivate my attention and make me laugh, despite my insides’ persistent mad dashes for freedom. And in that, W(h)acked is a miracle.”

Paul Morgan Stetler, an actor we’ve liked, particularly as the star of Louis Slotin Sonata.


MJ Sieber, a local actor we’ve praised over and over again. My favorite sentence about him: “MJ Sieber, as the Creature, with his massive, sweaty (and most of the time, nude) body, is exceptionally intimidating…”

The praise becomes slightly less effusive with the rest of the company members. But still, praise is praise:

• Annie Wagner opined that Michael Patten was “competent” in Taming of the Shrew in 2005. (He was also excellent in Accidental Death of an Anarchist and The Water Engine with the Genius Award winning company Strawberry Theater Workshop.)

Jen Taylor was last praised as “effective” in 2000 for her performance in Fairy Tales of New York. (And check out the reviews on that page by Stranger freelancer cum Weekly staffer cum Seattle Metropolitan arts editor Steve Wiecking.)

• And we’ve never mentioned Ray Gonzalez by name. But he’s the one on the right:


Anyway: a new theater company! Whose name I’ve already forgotten! But with an uncommonly well-liked (by us) team of actors, directors, and playwrights!

The company’s inaugural event is next Monday, January 28, at Seattle Rep at 7:30 pm. There will be drinks, snacks, and a reading of Phyllis Nagy’s Disappeared by company members and guests Darragh Kennan (we’ve praised him), Lori Larsen (and her), and Chelsea Rives (but not her).

Travel Is a Continuation of Politics

posted by on January 22 at 11:39 AM

Politics define certain industries. Free-range poultry versus chicken factories. Hybrid cars versus gas-guzzling SUVs. But travel?

“Eating five meals a day and still being able to snorkel—that’s not travel, that’s hedonism,” travel guru Rick Steves said last weekend at the Edmonds Center for the Arts. He told a room awash with Gore-tex and purple scarves that if people truly love travel—then they must travel to learn, to advocate for a different approach when they return.

“Is it a noble thing to do—to teach rich white people to travel?” Steves asked about 700 rich white people. Blank stares. He began with slides of Eastern Europeans twirling in town plazas and explained that those affable foreigners hold Fourth of July on different days of the year and they detest the U.S. for its recent audacity in foreign policy. And 700 people nodded. Then he showed a picture of a Scandinavian public restroom that has blue lights inside to prevent junkies from finding their veins and a picture of the syringe dispenser outside, and he spoke of the supervised heroin-injection facilities down the street and said there are fewer overdoses there. He talked about how many people in the Netherlands don’t drive cars at all, and we really need to consider doing these same things in the U.S. And the room became very quiet.


Rick Steves has a posse.

What’s remarkable is that not only is this not economic suicide for Steves’ business, Europe Through the Back Door, it’s helping. “They say, ‘I can’t believe you are saying these things. We will not use your guidebooks again,’” he said. “Fine, Europe will be more fun without you.” And everyone applauded. In fact, painting a trip to visit the cheese-eating surrender monkeys as a virtuous act has drawn crowds to his free events (this one was named Travel as a Political Act), which he holds three times a year, and draws new buyers to his books ($21.95) and clients for his tours ($3,595). His assistant tells me these free tri-annual presentations, press from his political positions, and his PBS show are the only way he promotes his multi-million dollar travel empire.

But it’s not just a ploy to generate press (though if it were, I guess it’s working). He says he’s negotiating with the U.N. to get permission to film his show in Iran. “My only goal is to humanize the country. We need to know who our government wants to bomb.”

Ralph Nader…

posted by on January 22 at 11:34 AM

…plans to “decide in about a month” on another third-party run at the White House. In addition to having done enough damage to our country already, Ralph is 74 years old—three years older than ancient ol’ John McCain—and really ought to be thinking about retirement.

C’mon, Ralph. Don’t you want to enjoy your golden years? Kick back—you’ve earned it. Don’t you wanna travel a bit, see the country…

Tell you what, Ralph, if you don’t run for president I’ll head up a fundraising drive to purchase you a nice car—perhaps a bitchin’ vintage ‘62 Corvair—for you to tour the country in. Whatdaya say, Ralph?

Death Wish of the Day, Economic Edition

posted by on January 22 at 11:33 AM

Yowsa! Look at them markets fly!

But after opening down by more than 460 points, the Dow Jones industrial average was off about 140 points, or 1.2 percent, at 2 p.m.

Rescue us, Bernanke!

Curious Mail

posted by on January 22 at 11:24 AM

Yesterday an envelope arrived in the mail. I knew something was up because my address at The Stranger was reprinted in the upper left-hand corner as the return address. Like so:


I opened the envelope and found a card inside, with this on its front:


I opened the card and found this printed inside:


In case you can’t read that, it says: “We would like to kindly ask that you stay away from the Rendezvous Jewel Box Theater on the evening of January 28th. Thank You.”

Apparently Seattle School has something to do with this. I’ve never wanted to go to the Rendezvous Jewel Box Theater more.

The Fate of Sound Transit

posted by on January 22 at 11:18 AM

Last week, I slogged about a draft bill that Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen was writing up that included this line: “Existing ST entity & its federated board dissolved.”

The bill is further along now. Haugen is doing a press release later today that will say this:

The proposal includes expanding the existing Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority — commonly known as Sound Transitinto a Regional Transportation Authority. While the new Regional Transportation Authority won’t have expanded boundaries, it would have expanded project eligibility to include both roads and transit, a new governing board that would include both appointed and elected members, and broader financing options that include the ability to combine road and transit revenue.

“We need to get away from competing interests and towards more comprehensive transportation solutions,” Haugen said. “We need to move away from roads or transit and towards roads and transit.”

Two questions about this:

1) Didn’t voters just reject the idea of roads and transit? It seems to me Sen. Haugen is missing the whole point of the Prop. 1 fiasco.

2) Snuffing ST and turning it into a new agency is going to jeopardize light rail expansion. The feds, at the behest of U.S. Senator Patty Murray’s appropriations sub-committee on transportation, are prepared to sign off on $750 million this summer to get Sound Transit from downtown to the U District. That’s 43% of the $1.7 billion segment. If Sound Transit goes away, the Feds will throw up their hands—and that money is gone. Transit will be lopped out of the roads and transit equation.

The Death of Whimsy

posted by on January 22 at 11:12 AM

New public art along the nearly completed Fire Station 10.
Why is this art weak? Because it is whimsical. Whimsical in the sense that it is playful. It plays with the idea of a race of fire hydrants. This red race is much like the human race—it is has kids, mothers, father figures, and so on.

So, what is wrong with whimsy? Elsewhere I have advanced the concept of an art criticism that must find its foundation in Tardian sociology (people/mind/body as social, as associations, as a network of clusters, pathways, and patterns). To expose the history and truth of this funny race of fire hydrants, however, one only needs basic Marxist tools. What these tools help us to see is that whimsy once had its place in what Marx and Engels called the “bad side”—the side that is opposed to power, to a ruling order. In the case of whimsy, the opposition was the rigid regime of the business elite, of profit calculations, charts, statistics, Taylorism in the factories, organization men in the office—the science of capitalism. Whimsy was to the order of scientific capitalism what romanticism was to the order of Newtonian enlightenment. In Seattle, the capital of whimsy was (and still is) Fremont—the defining locus for artists who found in whimsy a weapon against the ruling determinations and aesthetic of the business elite.

Today, whimsy is far from revolutionary. It has been absorbed by the order it originally opposed. Once a weapon for change, it is now a tool of control. For example, the videos that dominate commercial enterprises like MySpace and YouTube are whimsical—a dog on a surfboard, a homemade catapult, a drunk doing something drunk. Whimsy has no power because it has no enemy. It is now nothing more than a form of mindless distraction, a form that is not on the bad side of business interests.

The main reason the sculptures in front of the Fire Station 10 are weak is they reproduce and enforce the regime of whimsy.

-11.jpg This stone sculpture, also in front of the fire station, at least has the honesty of being heavy.

The Fatosphere…

posted by on January 22 at 11:03 AM

…slams into the NYT.

Morning in America

posted by on January 22 at 11:03 AM

Is there a better place to walk to on a very cold, very clear morning in America than the Volunteer Park Cafe? For spinach quiche and coffee cake and tea and sitting in the sun next to the window? And reading the paper? And having the Juno soundtrack and “Good Day Sunshine” by the Beatles blasting through your mind? There is not.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on January 22 at 11:00 AM


at Town Hall

Yeah, the former secretary of state has already been through Seattle recently, but this reading of her new book, Memo to the President Elect: How We Can Restore America’s Reputation and Leadership, will take place three days after the Nevada caucuses and four days before South Carolina. Albright is a vocal and prominent Hillary Clinton supporter. Should be fun. (Town Hall Seattle, 1119 Eighth Ave, 652-4255. 7:30 pm, $5.)


Currently Hanging

posted by on January 22 at 10:46 AM


Roxy Paine’s Dry Rot, fiberglass, epoxy, lacquer, and oil (2001)

At Bellevue Arts Museum.

Death Wish of the Day, Actual

posted by on January 22 at 10:45 AM

Amy Winehouse smokes crack.


posted by on January 22 at 10:31 AM

This one’s for you, Bellevue Ave:

An [Eaton, Colorado] family is in distraught and asking questions after a police officer fatally shot their pit bull Monday morning after the officer said the dog became aggressive and charged the officer.

Capone was a 10-year-old full-blooded American pit bull. Olivia Huerta, Capone’s owner, said what happened was uncalled for.

Uh… the officer was responding to 911 calls about a pitbull running loose, found the dog outside and unleashed, and tried to grab the dog with a catchpole. When the officer fell on the ice the dog charged him. So the officer did what anyone with any sense should do when they’re charged by a pitbull: he pulled his gun and shot the damn dog.

Clinton/Edwards 08?

posted by on January 22 at 10:16 AM

From CNN:

What were they talking about?

Hillary Clinton and John Edwards met privately backstage following a very contentious Democratic presidential debate in this coastal city, sources with both campaigns confirm to CNN.

The meeting took place in the Edwards campaign green room.

I can’t imagine Edwards would take the VP slot again… so what were they talking about?

Re: Death Wish of the Day

posted by on January 22 at 10:08 AM

I can one-up you on that one, Dan: One night last week when it was pouring rain, I saw a hipster girl tearing down Broadway at top speed with no helmet, no lights, in stiletto-heeled boots and a billowing skirt—on a fixed-gear bike.

The Kiss

posted by on January 22 at 9:53 AM

This couple in Shanghai…


…was so upset after this video was viewed 15,000 times on YouTube

…that they’re suing the subway workers that videotaped their very public make-out session. Their lawsuit, predictably enough, lead to news stories being written about their case, one of which I stumbled over at the Guardian, which is how I found the video. Thanks to the lawsuit the video has now been viewed—as of this writing—91,631 times. The couple is suing on behalf of all subway users in Shanghai.

“Now, every time I walk into a metro station, I feel uncomfortable,” says their lawyer. I feel the same way after seeing Cloverfield—or Twilight of the Douchebags—last night. Maybe I’ll sue.

Yay Senate Bill 6427!

posted by on January 22 at 9:45 AM

I have to admit that all the haters in the comments threads get to me.

But it’s stuff like this that makes it all worth while: Last night, I was speaking to a group in Olympia and right before the program started, a senate aide walked up to me and handed me a print out of a bill and said: “I work for Senator Hobbs, and he wanted me to tell you that he read an article you wrote last year about no bid contracts, and he’s running this bill this session to fix the problem.”

Last May, I wrote an article detailing how the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District (the public board that manages the stadium) awarded a $100,000 lobbying contract to the Fearey Group—a firm with interlocking ties to people on the Facilities District board—without an open public bid process.

Doing so was technically legal, but ran afoul of all the standards in place governing other local public agencies. Hobbs’s bill—with bi-partisan support—would fix the loophole governing public facilities districts so that they could not award such large contracts on the public’s dime without a competitive bid process.

Here’s the straight-forward description of Hobbs’s bill: Makes a public facilities district subject to the competitive solicitation requirements established in RCW 39.29.011 for personal service contracts notgoverned by the requirements in chapter 39.80 RCW.

The bill was referred to committee (Government Operations) and has a hearing on Thursday.

Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-44, Snohomish, Marysville, Lake Stevens) is totally my favorite state senator right now.

Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father…

posted by on January 22 at 9:26 AM

A grieving mother told a murder trial yesterday of the hours before her former husband hurled their six-year-old son from a hotel balcony before leaping from it with his daughter in his arms.

John Hogan, 33, is on trial in Crete for the death of his son Liam, who sustained head injuries. His daughter Mia, then two, survived with a broken arm after her father’s body cushioned her fall.

Academy Award Nominees

posted by on January 22 at 9:12 AM

First off, congrats to Stranger Genius and Seattleite James Longley, who’s been nominated again—this time for his documentary short Sari’s Mother, which first premiered in Seattle at our 2006 Genius Awards ceremony. It’s a heartbreaking, beautiful film.

The big shots:

Best motion picture of the year
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Achievement in directing
Julian Schnabel for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Jason Reitman for Juno
Tony Gilroy for Michael Clayton
Joel and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men
Paul Thomas Anderson for There Will Be Blood

Best documentary feature:
No End in Sight
Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience
Taxi to the Dark Side

Best animated feature
Surf’s Up

Performance by an actress in a leading role:
Cate Blanchett for Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie for Away from Her
Marion Cotillard for La Vie en Rose
Laura Linney for The Savages
Ellen Page for Juno

Performance by an actor in a leading role:
George Clooney for Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis for There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Tommy Lee Jones for In The Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortenson for Eastern Promises

My initial thoughts: Great that Saoirse Ronan was the only actor nominated for Atonement; bizarre that the foreign language award is going to go to a film from Kazakhstan, Russia, Poland, Austria or the second-choice entry from Israel; Ruby Dee was in a movie this year?!; and damn, every doc nominee is about either war or health care. I suppose next year we can look forward to a full slate dedicated to the economy.

Twinks on Parade

posted by on January 22 at 9:05 AM

This video—shot during the swimsuit portion of the Mr. Gay International 2008 competition beauty pageant in Los Angeles—made me want to go sleep with a few dozen stocky, hairy, stinky rugby-playing thugs.

Via Queerty.

Death Wish of the Day

posted by on January 22 at 8:50 AM

Uh… a woman just rode under my window on her bike. She wasn’t wearing a helmet, her white skirt billowing around her back bike tire, her bare legs pumping. Apparently her phone rang because she reached into the pocket of her hoody as she passed the bus stop, pulled out an iPhone, and answered it. And she kept right on riding, one-handed, with no helmet, past cars and buses headed downtown on Pine Street.

Just another goodwill ambassador for Seattle’s bike community.

The Morning News

posted by on January 22 at 7:38 AM

Paid Too Much For Your Home? Sue.

Still At It: UN Security Council working towards Iran sanctions.

Rudy Strikes Back: Giuliani’s legacy of revenge.

Some Bad News, Some Good News: Stocks crash, malls are empty, but it’s OK to eat veal again. Score!

You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby: Saudi Arabian women can rent hotel rooms! But still can’t drive.

Executive Privilege:
EPA refuses to explain why it rejected California emission laws.

Better Than Woodshop: British schoolchildren get compulsory cooking classes.

Now, more 2007 NFL lowlights.

Smear the Queer

posted by on January 22 at 7:33 AM

For those of you keeping track at home: Obama is a secret Muslim and a deep-cover Al Qaeda operative planning to seize control of the White House so he and his Islamic pals can take over the world and force us all to live by the tenets of Osama bin Laden’s ultra-conservative, infidel-beheading, women-enslaving, alcohol-shunning, gay-executing brand of Islam.

Oh, and Obama is also a drug-abusing homosexual who hangs out in bars and has absolutely terrible taste in men:

I’m with Gawker: If Obama were a fag—and he doesn’t set off my gaydar—he could do a hell of a lot better than this toothless, pasty-faced, scraggly-faced, presumably-bald sack-o-shit.

Say What You Will About Tonight’s Democratic Debate…

posted by on January 22 at 12:44 AM

…and I won’t say much, since I’m Slogging from my iPhone, but the best debate liveblogging EVER is right over here.

Monday, January 21, 2008

What He Said

posted by on January 21 at 8:18 PM

Joshua Marshall at Talking Points Memo:

Hillary can be relentless and like a sledgehammer delivering tendentious but probably effective attacks. But whatever you think of those attacks, Obama isn’t very good at defending himself. And that’s hard for me to ignore when thinking of him as a general election candidate.

In most of these cases—such as the Reagan issue—I think Obama’s remarks have been unobjectionable but ambiguous and certainly susceptible to both misunderstanding and intentional misrepresentation. And if you’re going to talk like that—nuance, as we used to say—be able to defend it when people play with your words. And I don’t see it.

What did you see?

Winning the War on Drugs

posted by on January 21 at 7:13 PM


Detective Jarrod Shivers, a 34-year-old father, was shot as he was trying to enter at the house in the street’s 900 block around 8:30 p.m. He and several other officers were there with a search warrant as part of a drug investigation, police said. Shivers was pronounced dead at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. He left behind a wife and three children – ages 2, 8 and 14.

Police arrested 28-year-old Ryan David Frederick, who lived at the home, and charged him with first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. He is being held in the Chesapeake City Jail.

Frederick said in a jailhouse interview Friday he had no idea a police officer was on the other side of the door when he opened fire. “No, sir,” he told WAVY-TV. “I just wish I knew who they were,” he said. “I didn’t want any trouble.”

“I thought it was the person who had broken into my house the other day,” he said.

“They are undercover detectives,” Golden said. As such, they would typically be in street clothes. But, when serving warrants, even undercover officers “usually have something that says ‘police,’” she said.

The article doesn’t say whether drugs were found.

Via HorsesAss.

Bloody Monday

posted by on January 21 at 5:18 PM

It’s a holiday here in the U.S., so markets are closed. But it’s not a holiday anywhere else in the world—and it appears that the shit is really hitting the fan, economically speaking.

Fears that the United States is in a recession reverberated around the world on Monday, sending stock markets from Bombay to Frankfurt into a tailspin and puncturing the hopes of many investors that Europe and Asia will be able to sidestep an American downturn.

On a day when United States markets were closed in observance of Martin Luther King’s Birthday, the world’s eyes were trained nervously on the United States. Investors reacted with what many analysts described as panic to the multiplying signs of weakness in the American economy.

Tomorrow should be interesting.

A Lesson in Architecture

posted by on January 21 at 4:53 PM

This is a brick house:

This is not a brick house:

Clark County GOP Pimping the “Obama’s a Muslim” Smear

posted by on January 21 at 4:28 PM



From the Clark County GOP’s website:

Barack Hussein Obama has joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background.

It is reported that Obama swore his oath of office using the Koran and pictures have shown him standing for the Pledge but not reciting it and holding his hands to his side while others place their hands over their hearts.

This is chilling information about a candidate for the highest office in the Country especially given the radical Muslim claims that they will destroy American from “the inside”.

Lefty blogger Jon Devore broke it, and captured the above screenshot. But the smear is still live on the Clark County GOP’s website.

Suzanne Pleshette

posted by on January 21 at 4:07 PM



For Once

posted by on January 21 at 3:53 PM

This might be the first Gehry building that’s worth something:
3princeton.jpg It certainly doesn’t look like something that crawled out of the sea and died.

A Regret Deferred

posted by on January 21 at 3:52 PM

I’ve always regretted the first sentence of my review of Ariel Dorfman’s Purgatario, which played at the Seattle Rep two years ago:

There’s no nice way to say it—Purgatorio stinks.

Today—specifically, the first sentence of this NYT review—taught me why:

Ariel Dorfman’s “Widows,” having its New York premiere at 59E59 Theaters, is the kind of play that makes you feel bad for being bored.

That’s what was so irritating about Purgatorio too, why writing a bad review of that bad play felt so terrible: not just because Dorfman is an allegedly nice man who suffered under Latin American tyranny—but because his work slyly abusive, like one of those traps that gets tighter and more uncomfortable the more you try to wiggle out of it.

Purgatorio stinks, but that’s only half of its damage—the other half is its tricky way of making you feel bad for its flaws. It way of making you feel bad for being bored.

That’s what I meant to write.

Better Dead Than… Canadian

posted by on January 21 at 3:51 PM

State Senator Mike Carrell (R-28) tried to undermine Senator Karen Keiser’s universal health-care bill at the hearing this afternoon by grilling her star witness, state Senator Jon Erpenbach from Wisconsin. Erpenbach is the author of a plan in Wisconsin that Keiser is using as the model for her plan. (Given that our legislature is only in session part time, there’s a lot of that around here.)

Senator Carrell tried a little scare mongering. He brought up the right wing’s shorthand for socialism. “Given that Wisconsin is on the border with Canada,” Carrell began harrumphing, “doesn’t your plan parallel theirs?”

Senator Erpenbach laughed—gave Carrell a geography lesson—and appropriately Carrell’s loaded analogy quickly came unglued. “No, it doesn’t [parallel the Canada model] except that everyone is covered,” he quipped getting another round of laughter at the geographically challenged Republican’s expense.

I’m still trying to get up to speed on how Senator Keiser’s plan would work. I’m going to start with this recent editorial by Senator Erpenbach.

Two King Videos

posted by on January 21 at 3:48 PM

Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech…

…and a Brave New Films documentary pointing out that King’s dream wasn’t just about racial justice, but economic justice as well—and how corporate greed makes the realization of King’s dream impossible for many Americans today:

Via Towleroad.

SPD Asks Neighbors to Defend Racial Disparity in Enforcement

posted by on January 21 at 3:37 PM

Only 8.4 percent of the Seattle’s population was black in 2000, but 64.2 percent of the people arrested for dealing drugs around that time were black, according to a UW study. Now, a King County prosecutor who works for the Seattle Police Department, Ellen O’Neill-Stephens, has asked four Seattle community groups to help defend the city against charges of racial bias in drug enforcement. She sent each group a letter, one of which was posted yesterday at the Miller Park Neighborhood Association’s blog. Here’s an excerpt (emphasis added).

To refresh your memories, the Public Defender’s Office has filed a motion to dismiss narcotics trafficking charges against several African American individuals who were arrested for selling narcotics in open air drug markets. The Racial Disparity Project is accusing the entire Seattle Police Department of being racist. This is not a claim of individual racism by particular officers, but institutional racism. It is being argued that SPD has created policies that intentionally target African Americans for felony drug offenses.

Since community complaints to SPD is a major issue in this case, I was wondering if you thought members of your group would still be interested in participating in this process and possibly letting the judge know your thoughts about the defense’s representations.

In essence, O’Neill-Stephens is asking neighbors to directly contact the judge to influence the case. But to Sunil Abraham, an attorney for the Defender Association, which filed the suit, “It’s just inappropriate.” He says, “It’s essentially an attempt to get these communities, which have only heard the prosecutor’s description of our case, to put pressure on the judge.”

When I spoke to O’Neill-Stephens, she gave a milder version of the request. She said her intent was to ask neighbors to “go to court to listen. If there’s a forum for them to let their position be known on this they should have the opportunity.” Those neighbors could tell the judge that the SPD is simply responding to their calls for help. The Miller Park blog links to this advice for dealing with drug offenses.

Any time you see street dealing, use, or other illegal activity, report it to 911. Don’t worry if the issue isn’t a life or death situation. When they answer, immediately tell them what kind of crime you’re reporting… all of the crime reports go into a database and can help drive a refocusing of resources to the places they need to be.

I asked O’Neill-Stephens why the disparity exists for arrests of African Americans. “I don’t know,” she says. “The police are responding to community complaints about negative effects of open-air drug markets. Different types of drug traffickers sell drugs in different sorts of ways. Meth users and sellers are primarily white; heroin is primarily Hispanic,” she says. “In my work in the West Precinct there are more African Americans selling crack cocaine in Westlake Mall. I think that’s part of the culture, where street drug traffickers go for their trade. The U-District is more of a white area.”

However, the suit doesn’t claim that the police are intentionally targeting African Americans (or that the SPD is “racist,” as O’Neill-Stephens’ letter claims), Abraham says. Rather, when the Seattle Police Department enforces open-air markets, it is ignoring the open-air markets with white dealers, such as those in the U-District.

According to a report by UW professor Katherine Beckett, drug enforcement from 1999 to 2001 was more harsh for African Americans than for whites. “The main reason blacks are over-represented among arrestees is that the SPD focuses overwhelmingly on the crack cocaine market, as opposed to the heroin, meth, or powder cocaine markets,” she says. (Note: This post originally contained a statistic from Beckett’s report on the likelihood of blacks to be arrested for methamphetamine. Beckett says the statement was based on faulty data and she has since retracted it in favor of the quote above.)

This Weekend (and Today) on Line Out

posted by on January 21 at 3:00 PM

Bukowski: More inspirational to musicians than most other musicians.

Corey Haim: High on pills and Japanese funk.

Sleepy Eyes of Death: Two reviews of one show; #1, and #2.

Invasion: A pretty, pretty spaceship lands at Showbox SODO.

Joanna Newsom: Jeff Kirby finds live footage worth watching.

Tonight: Throw Me the Statue and a secret guest perform at Chop Suey.

The Future of Music: Mary J. Blige says it’s in the hands of Amy Winehouse?

Today is Slow for Music News: But a few things have happened since last week.

Seattle Dubstep: Shift makes it real.

Tour Diary: PWRFL Power writes from the road.

Jesse Sykes and Phil Wandscher: Their show on Friday sounded great, but Trent Moorman wants to know what’s up with all the chatting during the show.

Pop Trivia: Seattle crowns new pop culture trivia kings (and a queen).


Taken at the Baranoff by Stranger Flickr Pool contributor kurt schlosser.

Adventures in Race Relations with Mitt Romney

posted by on January 21 at 2:56 PM

First, there’s this (via Andrew Sullivan):

Governor Romney paid tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. when speaking to a group of employees at Gate Petroleum today and then shook hands and posed for photos with African-American families at a parade.

The presidential hopeful met a friendly crowd at the Martin Luther King, Jr. parade here. The former Massachusetts governor often runs back and forth across streets during parades to greet people and today was no exception. He shook hands with ROTC members, tiny beauty queens, police officers and many parade-goers, including children screaming his name. He jumped off the Mitt Mobile to greet a waiting crowd, took a picture with some kids and young adults and awkwardly quipped, ”Who let the dogs out? Who who.”

He took pictures with many in the crowd and greeted one baby wearing a necklace saying, “Hey buddy! How’s it going? What’s happening? You got some bling bling here!”

And then there’s this:

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has released a new Spanish-language campaign ad in Florida entitled Mi Padre (My Father), featuring Romney’s son, Craig. Craig encourages voters to “get to know my father, Mitt Romney.” Romney himself then chimes in with: Soy Mitt Romney y apruebo este mensaje (I’m Mitt Romney and I approved this message).

Think Progress, which also has video of the ad, points out:

It’s interesting that Romney is so interested in reaching out to Latino voters in Spanish. In the past, he has been stridently English-only:

“English needs to be the language that is spoken in America. We cannot be a bilingual nation like Canada.”

“You strengthen the American people by securing our borders and by insisting that the children who come legally to this land are taught in English.”

Ah, but that was before Florida was so important to your campaign, Mitt.

Re: She Brought it On Herself

posted by on January 21 at 2:54 PM

And was she wearing a mini-skirt too?

You have to admit Annie, that the “inevitable” storyline was about polls that showed Hillary Clinton with 20 point leads. (Are you saying that when a women starts ascending to power like that a backlash is somehow justified?)

What, on the other hand, is the Obama in ascendance storyline based on? Obama lost NH when he was supposed to win. And he lost Nevada (and the casinos that he was supposed to win).

The media’s glee over Obama’s win in Iowa (they started floating the idea that Clinton should drop out!?!) vs. the media’s puzzlement about Clinton’s win in N.H. and their measured response to her follow-up big numbers win in Nevada is glaring.

Re: The puzzlement about NH. Yes, there was a reason to be perplexed and seek an explanation. After all, the polls had Clinton down and out. But similarly, wasn’t the big news about Obama in Iowa based on the fact that for most of the year-long run-up to Iowa, Clinton was seen as the frontrunner? Parallel questions. But very different answers.

The explanation in Iowa was Obama’s “historic” insurgency and his connection with voters. And the explanation in NH? Clinton played the emotion card and cunningly got the vote.

Here’s a way to think about the difference in the coverage. Imagine if Obama had won Nevada.

And when he does win SC, as he’s supposed to, the media applause will be thunderous.

As someone who likes Clinton, but believes Obama would be the better nominee for the Democratic party, I guess I should dig the pro-Obama bias.

Youth Pastor Watch

posted by on January 21 at 2:00 PM


The Sequoyah County District Attorney’s office on Tuesday filed a notice of intent to introduce evidence of other wrongs in the case of a youth minister accused of making indecent proposals to a 14-year-old girl….

According to court records, Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Deputy Cindy Smith received a report on June 29 from a girl, who was 13 at the time.

The girl relayed to police several alleged conversations that she had with [Spencer] Tally that became sexual…. According to court records, Tally admitted that one of the girl’s friends told him the girl liked him. Smith asked Tally if he noticed any odd behavior by the girl, to which he said he noticed she may have been flirting with him, but nothing more. He also said the girl had been dressing differently lately. Smith asked Tally if he found it odd that the girl and Tally had so many phone conversations over a short period, to which he replied that he had to be available for the youth.

“Called to Christ”

posted by on January 21 at 1:48 PM

Glenn Greenwald at Salon has a great post up about some literature the Obama campaign is distributing in South Carolina… (UPDATE: And I see that Annie, our resident Obama apologist, beat me to a post about it.)



Mike Huckabee was criticized for releasing an ad that featured the words “Christian Leader” in large letters, and for a Christmas message that featured a white cross floating behind his head. So how come Obama is getting away with it? Writes Greenwald…

Clearly, there are major differences between Huckabee’s views on the role of religion in government and Obama’s, as evidenced most recently by Huckabee’s call for the Constitution to be amended to comport with God’s will on abortion and homosexuality. Obama has no such positions…. But in terms of the propriety of their religious appeals for votes, is there really any meaningful difference between the two campaigns? Is it possible to criticize Huckabee for inappropriately exploiting his status in Iowa as a “Christian leader”—as many, many people did—while believing that Obama’s hailing of himself in South Carolina as a “Committed Christian” is perfectly fine? What’s the difference?

The difference is that when Huckabee tells us about his faith, Huck’s telling us what he wants do after he gets elected. When Obama tells us about his faith, he’s telling us what he must to do in order to get elected.

He is also, as Greenwald speculates, “[countering] the false whispering campaign increasingly being circulated in South Carolina (by whom, we should find out) that Obama is a Muslim.” I was only in South Carolina last week for a few days but the Obama-is-a-Muslim thing came up so often that I began to wonder if it was on billboards. For hyper-observant, values-obsessed, Evangelical Christians, the voters of South Carolina seem particularly susceptible to the bearers of false witness.

The Women of Italy

posted by on January 21 at 1:31 PM

A truth is this…
matrixpre22.jpg…Italian women age much better than (black and white) American women. In fact, young Italian women are not as sexy as older Italian women. After a few days in Italy, younger woman recede into the background and women over forty, women who have mastered the full language of their form, come into focus. A lot more than gray hair is needed for an Italian woman to lose her erotic grip.

The young women of this land of cheap wine and strong coffee lack coordination, lack that sense of real presence, lack the glow of something specific and special. They are clumsy birds that act and look the same. Not even one made an impression on me. Upon Returning to the US, however, young women returned to the forefront.

This Is Not True, Bradley Steinbacher

posted by on January 21 at 1:04 PM


From his review of Cloverfield:

…it’s a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

NO IT IS NOT! Cloverfield is the most stressful movie I have ever seen! Between the way-too-real camcorder filming techniques and the film’s intense similarity to a recurring dream I have when I am running from something really scary with a million other people in the middle of a city, I have never spent so much time biting the back of a Cinerama seat.

Some people might like that. I was literally shaking the entire walk home.

Confidential to Mike Moon: $41. Forty-one dollars.

“Committed Christian”

posted by on January 21 at 1:01 PM

For those of you who thought Obama should never have spoken at MLK’s church this weekend, this should drive you bonkers.


My take? The explicit religiosity is kind of unnerving. But those Muslim Manchurian candidate emails have been pervasive—some of us at The Stranger have even gotten them—and at least it’s not an outright lie (cf, “fairy tale,” claiming Obama praised Reagan for “better ideas,” asserting he doesn’t stand up for abortion rights, etc).

Savage Love Letter of the Day

posted by on January 21 at 12:34 PM

I’d like to pass on my 2 cents worth for NFLOF, the man whose father was being scammed by Russian mail-order brides. After my second son was born my wife didn’t even pretend to be interested is sex. What had been a poor sex life turned into a nonexistent sex life. After we divorced, I took your advice and started seeing hookers. I got laid, regained confidence, learned what I wanted in a partner.

I also met some delightful women: smart, funny, horny, bi, into BDSM, lots of stuff I never had the opportunity to explore before. Most aren’t crack addicts. Many are well educated. One is an MD finishing her residency in Psychiatry. Another has a PhD in literature. I developed friendships with a few, enjoyed the bodies of the others. You do have to pay, but dating isn’t cheap either.

I second your advice to NFLOF: find his dad a good hooker or two or three. The internet has completely changed the profession. You aren’t driving around a seedy neighborhood after dark. You can see what she looks like, read a little about her, exchange e-mails first. There are women out there who specifically like to see older guys. Many will meet for a get acquainted cup of coffee before to make sure there’s a fit. You can talk, screw, fondle, lick and get licked,caress, cuddle. You have to keep the limitations of the the relationship firmly in mind, but it can be a great way to enjoy a woman with no adverse consequences.

Doing It In Denver

I have nothing to add. Well said, DIID.

Re: An Open Letter to the Liberal Media

posted by on January 21 at 12:33 PM

You have to admit, ECB, Hillary “Inevitable!” Rodham Clinton brought a little itsy bit of that upon herself. (Bill the Mighty Attack Dog isn’t helping, either.) And I fully expect a post-SC Obama victory, if it happens, to be attributed to black voters. But we shall see.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post has an interesting new national poll out (full results here). Since early December, HRC is down 11 points and Obama is up 14 nationally. Among likely Democratic voters, HRC is five points above Obama, but among all Ds and D-leaning independents, it’s only 2 points—a statistical tie. And for the Rs, it’s looking more and more like McCain.

Speaking of the Writers’ Strike

posted by on January 21 at 12:15 PM

Don’t wanna watch crap reality shows or rebroadcasts of crap scripted programs you’ve already suffered through? Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon, has a suggestion…


This Is Why They Make Adult Diapers

posted by on January 21 at 12:14 PM

I almost crapped my pants when I saw this before Cloverfield last night.

But then, I read this on the website:

…featuring a young, new crew venturing boldly where no man has gone before.

Attention, J. J. Abrams: When it comes to this franchise, the fans DON’T FUCK AROUND! Starting a whole new crew is risky motherfucking business.

Love Writing

posted by on January 21 at 12:11 PM

There’s a short Q&A up on Hugo House’s website with David Wagoner, the poet, novelist, and writer-in-residence who’s presenting new work in the next event in the Hugo Literary Series, “Love Is the Drug,” on Feb 15. (Either my browser is acting up or you actually have to scroll right and left to read the thing.) Also on the bill that night: the writers Rick Moody and Monica Drake and the Portland band Eux Autres.

The Hugo Literary Series is Hugo House’s new way of commissioning original work from writers they like. A good idea. And it sounds like a good bill.

DIGRESSION: Is there something about Hugo House’s longstanding tradition of theme-ing everything that makes you wince? Is it starting to seem a little forced? Here’s a paragraph from the website’s description of the “Love Is a Drug” theme:

Whatever it is, love is certainly something we spend a good part of our lives trying to get. But why? Do we have a chemical dependence on love? Is it good for us, like vitamin C, or is it more like a cigar smoker’s nicotine habit that needs a periodic fix? Is love a cure, or does it require one?

Maybe the problem isn’t the theme. Maybe that’s just a bad paragraph.

Color Me Republican!

posted by on January 21 at 12:10 PM

Dan made some comments below that forced me to realize something awful: I have two things in common with Mike Huckabee. (Besides our sexual attraction to little girl’s soiled clothing and a love of human-meat pie). The first? I hate Mitt Romney “soooooo much.” The second? I never emotionally outgrew high school all that much either. (Who does? I ask you.) In light of this, I demand that everyone, everywhere refer to Mitt Romney only by his mean new nickname, which I have just made up like a snotty 16 year-old girl, and which is this:

Magic Underpants.”

Magic Underpants! I know!

Acceptable usage includes: “Heeeeey, Magic Underpants! Why don’t you go have your twenty niece/wives wash your magic underpants, Magic Underpants!”, or, “Ohhh…are your magic underpants gonna protect you from John McCain, Magic Underpants?” or, “Would you like a cup of coffee…whoops! I spilt it all over your magic underpants, Magic Underpants!”, or, “Why, that’s a fascinating take on national security—-can we see your magic underpants?” and so forth.



An Open Letter to the Liberal Media

posted by on January 21 at 12:05 PM

From: Erica C. Barnett

To: The New York Times, NPR, etc.

Re: Your coverage of the 2008 election

Dear liberal media: Please stop pretending Hillary Clinton doesn’t exist. I know the narrative you’ve written is one in which Barack Obama triumphs against all odds to defeat the baby boomers’ Democratic Party machine and achieve the American dream, but for fuck’s sake, this is an election, not a coronation, right?

Look at the evidence. Throughout this race, the media—NYT, I’m looking at you—has fallen all over itself to paint Obama in a favorable light, giving Clinton faint praise, at best, and ignoring her, at worst. For example, when Clinton won Nevada, the initial Times story began something like, “Obama struggles against Clinton juggernaut, heads to South Carolina.” I mean, they might as well have said “Obama finishes surprising second”! The followup story was a little more balanced, but the headline—”Vote of Women Propels Clinton in Nevada Caucus”—put Clinton in a completely passive role, as if victory was something that happened to her, rather than something she achieved. Same thing when she won New Hampshire, when the two post-primary headlines read “Retooled Campaign and Loyal Voters Add Up” and “Her Message and Moment Won the Day.” (See also: “Momentum Shifts to Clinton.” “For Clinton, Government as Economic Prod.” “Michele Obama Vs. Hillary Clinton”(!!!), etc.) I mean, seriously, could they be more tepid? Is Clinton a candidate, or an agencyless automaton?

Compare that to the Times’ treatment of Obama, which casts him as active, effective and engaged: “Obama Takes on Question of Religion”; “Obama Urges Unity”; “Obama Fights Back”; “Obama Giving Clinton a Race in Her Own Backyard”; “Obama Calls for Unity to Heal Divisions.” “Obama Tries to Stop the Silliness.”

When Clinton wins, she’s propelled by invisible forces; when Obama wins, it’s because he communicates to voters that he’s the better candidate. (As a corollary, when Clinton loses, it’s because voters perceive her vulnerability; when Obama loses, it’s because the Clinton Democratic machine was just too much for him.) The uniting factor isn’t logic (obviously!) but the narrative—a narrative the media decided to embrace way back in Iowa, when the headlines read: “Obama Takes Iowa in Big Turnout”; “Embracing His Moment, Obama Preaches Hope in New Hampshire”; and “Daring to Believe, Blacks Savor Obama Victory.”

Mark my words, when Obama wins South Carolina, the Times is going to play it as the story of the year: Miracle long-shot candidate comes back from near-death to triumph against impossible odds. (Never mind the fact that, as Josh noted below, he scored 79 percent of the black vote in Nevada—and half the Democratic primary voters in South Carolina are black.) One headline I can guarantee you won’t see? “Blacks Propel Obama in South Carolina Primaries.” The headline I predict: “Obama comes from behind to win surprising SC Victory with Black Support.”

See also: NPR (which mentioned Clinton in passing before playing a long excerpt from Obama’s “message of hope and unity”), Time “(A Great Speech!)”) The Politico, andSlog.

Update: Jay Rosen addresses some of this stuff in Salon today, noting the way the media completely wrote Hillary off after Iowa, even suggesting she should withdraw from the race! TPM, for example, wrote that “Camp Hillary insiders … are worried about the long term damage that could be done to Hillary if she decides to fight on after a New Hampshire loss, though there’s no indication they are yet urging an exit.” As Rosen says, “Campaign news in the subjunctive isn’t really news.”

Happy MLK Day

posted by on January 21 at 12:03 PM

The notion that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s sweeping Turkish revolution gave us record company man Ahmet Ertegun—the guy who revolutionized America by churning out early rock and roll records in the late 1940s and 1950s—is worth savoring.

Check it out: An exile from Sunni Islam, a Turk, comes to America where he hooks up with blacks and Jews (and white country players as well) to create rhythm & blues, rock ‘n’ roll, civil rights, electric signal generations. This is a jolt to extremist Sunni Islam losers like al Qaeda, who cling to their 7th Century fetishism.

On October 29, 1923—some three months after Ahmet Ertegun was born—President Mustafa Kemal declared Turkey a republic. He diminished the power of Islam, rid the Turkish language of all Arabic words, and began the long process of dragging his country into the twentieth century.

To my glee, this is the first sentence of the book I started reading this week, “Music Man: Ahmet Ertegun, Atlantic Records, and the Triumph of Rock’N’Roll.”

Beginning Ertegun’s biography by instantly linking his legacy to Kemal Ataturk’s secularist revolution—Kemal abolished the Caliphate in March 1924—is a canny move by authors Dorothy Wade and Justine Picardie.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, circa 1923

Sometime last year, when I found out Ertegun was Turkish—I’d always thought he was Jewish—my mind exploded in the flash of a 20th Century unifying theory where Ataturk’s anti-fundamentalist revolution is extended into America by Ertegun’s R&B revolution, and stands today through America’s lovely affront to Caliphate fetishists like al Qaeda.

Here’s my big theory.

In addition to being the father of modernization (Turkey is a secular beacon in the Islamic world), Ataturk was—unwittingly—the father of radical Islamic fundamentalism as well. Ataturk’s rise fostered a backlash, creating the Muslim Brotherhood, the progenitor of al Qaeda.

Quick history: In 1928, when Ataturk’s secular movement began redefining the Muslim world at large, angry reactionaries like Egypt’s Hasan al-Bana founded the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood’s most famous adherent was philosopher Sayyid Qutb, the religious intellectual who’s right wing writings about orthodox Islamic governance and the dangers of Western influence mesmerized a generation of Egyptian youth who came of age in the late 60s. These campus radicals—they were ultra conservatives (it became fashionable for the women in their set to wear the veil)—defined themselves in opposition to then-Egyptian President Gamal Nasser. Nasser’s Pan-Arab Socialism was a 1960s, left-wing version of Ataturk’s secular nationalism of the 1920s and 30s.

One anti-Nasser radical was Ayman al-Zawahiri. As a teen in the 1960s wrapped up in Qutb’s rhetoric (Nasser sentenced Qutb to death in 1966), Zawahiri founded a radical off-shoot of the Brotherhood called al-Jihad. Al-Jihad was implicated in the terrifying 1981 assassination of Anwar Sadat, Nasser’s successor. At their trial, the assassins decorated their holding cages with banners proclaiming the “caliphate or death.”*

Sadat assassination, 1981

Zawahiri went underground and continued his jihad in the late 80s by joining forces with Saudi Arabian Islamist cohort Osama bin Laden, eventually creating al Qaeda.

Of course, al Qaeda’s war is not so much focused on the apostates in the Muslim world like Egypt’s Nasser anymore. The central villain in al Qaeda’s equation is the United States. This is where rhythm and blues comes in.

Rhythm and blues is the “Satanic” American hybrid that blossomed at small independent race record labels like Specialty, Chess, and Ertegun’s own Atlantic in the late 1940s and early 1950s. R&B, a term coined by Ertegun’s white, Jewish partner at Atlantic, Jerry Wexler, was synonymous at the time with the burgeoning civil rights movement. And as R&B transformed into rock ‘n’ roll in the mid 50s—and into rock, soul, and pop in the mid 60s —this American music became synonymous with the cultural movement that turned America into the kind of open society that threatens religious zealots today.

1953 single “Money Honey.”

Unfortunately, I’m now about 100 pages into “Music Man: Ahmet Ertegun, Atlantic Records, and The Triumph of Rock’N’Roll,” and I’m realizing it’s not a terribly ambitious or in-depth book.

Double unfortunately, my new Manson Family book arrived in the mail today.

*Caliphate or Death.

Flickr Photo of the Day

posted by on January 21 at 12:00 PM

From Flickr pool contributor &y


Jon Stewart Shreds Jonah Goldberg

posted by on January 21 at 11:53 AM

Here’s why I’m glad Stewart is back on the air…

Via HorsesAss.

Acclaimed Director of The Hand Ready to Take on Dubya

posted by on January 21 at 11:49 AM

Oliver Stone has announced his next project: Bush. And no, I’m not kidding.

Oliver Stone has set his sights on his next directing project, “Bush,” a film focusing on the life and presidency of George W. Bush, and attached Josh Brolin to play the title role.

I’m already looking forward to skipping this movie.

Colbert, Stewart, Maher

posted by on January 21 at 11:34 AM

I put my computer away on Friday night after going on Real Time with Bill Maher and didn’t open it again until this morning—I wanted to focus on the family for the the weekend after being on the road for nearly ten days straight (Vegas, Portland, South Carolina, LA). So I missed the calls in this comment thread on this post about my going on Maher’s show despite the writers’ strike. For the record…

Basically I agree with—big shocker here—Andrew Sullivan, who wrote this after going on Colbert:

I should add that I totally support the Writers’ Guild of America in their attempt to get paid for crucial Internet residuals. The show didn’t use any written material, and I never do in public speaking. I was asked to go on a national TV show to talk about the election, and promote my recent Atlantic cover-story. And I hope the WGA wins their battle.

To that I would add…

Colbert, Stewart, and Maher aren’t merely entertainment programs. They are, for a huge number of people, news programs, no different than the evening newscasts on ABC, NBC, and CBS, all of which are still on the air despite the strike. A huge number of people—you know, voting voters who vote—get info about politics, candidates, and elections from Colbert, Stewart, and Maher. Yes, there’s a writers’ strike on. There’s also an election on. I’m not prepared to sit out an unavoidable, hugely important conversation about this election because of the strike—and converse was all I did on Maher. Talk, not write. Nothing was scripted. I view going on Maher the same way I view going on CNN or MSNBC or NPR.

I didn’t, and wouldn’t, start writing scripts for non-news entertainment programs like, say, Lost or The Suite Life of Zac and Cody. Nor would I go on a show that was purely entertainment, like the Tonight Show (not that I’ve ever been, or ever would be, asked, so that’s easy for me to say, I realize).

At the beginning of the strike I thought the WGA should make an exception for programs like Colbert and Maher’s, and it was a tactical error not to do so. They’re too important, and the stakes are too high, to have Colbert, Stewart, and Maher’s perspective off the air/cable/Internets during this election. Again, these programs may be run by entertainment divisions, they go for laughs, but at heart they’re news programs.

Finally, I didn’t cross a picket line — there wasn’t one at the studio. And I was relieved because I really would’ve felt terrible crossing a picket line for the first time in my life… sitting in the back seat of a limo (a town car, actually, with tinted windows).

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on January 21 at 11:00 AM


‘Deep End’ at Northwest Film Forum

Deep End is Harold and Maude’s evil twin—both were released in 1971, both concern a boy’s sentimental education by older women, and both feature cars sabotaged for symbolic purposes and songs by Cat Stevens. But where Harold is saved by his older paramour, Mike is driven mad. Deep End is a bleakly comical chronicle of young sexual frustration, starring a leering high-school teacher, a hooker with a broken leg, and a hilarious vintage porn movie. (Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave, 267-5380. 7 and 9:15 pm, $5–$8.50. Through Jan 24.)



posted by on January 21 at 10:58 AM

As markets around the world fall:

CORONA, Calif.
The two small Cessnas crashed at 3:35 p.m. Sunday about a mile from the small Corona Municipal Airport, authorities said.

Two people were killed from each plane, and a fifth was killed inside a Chevy dealership hit by wreckage, said Wayne Pollack of the National Transportation Safety Board.

“There were bodies falling out of the sky,” eyewitness Hector Hernandez told KCBS-TV. “One of them crashed into the top of a Ford Mustang, and another one fell not too far behind that one on the parking lot.”

We Never Really Get Out of High School

posted by on January 21 at 10:53 AM

The Rev. Mike Huckabee hasn’t taken a state since Iowa—and if he couldn’t win hyper-religious South Carolina, he can’t win anywhere—is staying in the race because he hates Mitt Romney sooooooo much.

I also read something yesterday that Fred Thompson—who hasn’t taken a single state—is staying in the race because he hates Mike Huckabee sooooo much.

Gay Is Good

posted by on January 21 at 10:38 AM

It may be legal—the law is vague—to go to a public event, say a high-school water-polo tournament, and take pictures of the participants, say 14- to 18-year-old high-school athletes in Speedos, and post those pictures to your pornographic gay website alongside hardcore pornographic images.

Legal, perhaps, but an asshole move for sure. There are plenty of boys out there who are only too willing to share images of themselves in Speedos. They’re all over the Internets. There’s no need to troll high-school swim meets, pervs. Sheesh.

Andy’s Diner 1947-2008

posted by on January 21 at 10:36 AM


Sad news about Andy’s Diner, Sodo’s beloved coalition of retired train cars, has apparently abruptly closed its doors. From suddenly former Andy’s bartender Mel C.:

After being open since 1947, Andy’s Diner has closed it doors. Employees like myself were not given any notice of its closure. Andy’s diner which boasts the “presidential” car which FDR toured in during his campaign and his famous pictures were taken had to close, apparently due to finances.

The employees included “Millie” an Andy’s veteran who had worked there for 43 years, “Tom” who had been a busboy and dishwasher for 18 years “Sandra” who once graced the pages of Brazil Playboy and a list of other colorful characters that no matter how gloomy times may have seemed still came to work and did their jobs with style and grace. It’s sad to see this Seattle landmark go. Of course I’m not sure if that will happen, but with the property it sits on who knows what will become of Andy’s Diner. This was a place where martini lunches were a norm and many a business deal was struck that changed the look and feel of the Seattle we know today.

Phone calls to Andy’s Diner have gone unanswered. (And is for sale.)

(Photo from the lovely neon sign collection at

(UPDATE: Originally and accidentally posted late last night, with locale erroneously specified as “Georgetown.”)

Prayer Pretzels

posted by on January 21 at 10:25 AM

Okay, nothing but pretzel sticks at my house from now on


Easter Prayer Pretzel Packs. Put these packs of pretzels into Easter baskets or give them out at Sunday School! Each inspirational package explains: “The pretzel symbolizes arms crossed in prayer.”

Hm. The only people I’ve ever seen with arms crossed like were the guests of honor at open-casket wakes.

Thanks to Slog tipper Miss Poppy.

Don’t Worry! It’s Only a Terrible Nightmare!

posted by on January 21 at 10:24 AM

Are you looking for a little something snazzy to accessorize those nifty new microchips in your passport and driver’s license? Something clever and colorful to dress up that lovely wall down south? Everyone’s concerned friend Microsoft has just the perfect thing!

Microsoft is developing Big Brother-style software capable of remotely monitoring a worker’s productivity, physical wellbeing and competence…a computer system that links workers to their computers via wireless sensors that measure their metabolism. The system would allow managers to monitor employees’ performance by measuring their heart rate, body temperature, movement, facial expression and blood pressure. Wireless sensors could read “heart rate, galvanic skin response, EMG, brain signals, respiration rate, body temperature, movement facial movements, facial expressions and blood pressure”. The system could “automatically detect frustration or stress in the user” and “offer and provide assistance accordingly”. Physical changes to an employee would be matched to an individual psychological profile based on a worker’s weight, age and health. If the system picked up an increase in heart rate or facial expressions suggestive of stress or frustration, it would tell management that he needed help.

Wow! That actually sounds like fun!

Um…it’s okay…it’s all gonna be okay…this is a dream…it’s isn’t happening…Disneyland…I’m in Dis-ney-laaaaaaand….”


Currently Hanging

posted by on January 21 at 10:00 AM


Squeak Carnwath’s A Painting, oil and alkyd on canvas over panel, 55 x 45 inches (2006)

At James Harris Gallery.

Hillary Abdul-Jabbar

posted by on January 21 at 9:53 AM

Annie knows how to lobby. She alerted me to a Clinton ad that’s running in South Carolina.

In the ad, former NBA star Magic Johnson says:

This is Magic Johnson. On the court and in life, successful leadership comes from hard work and experience. That’s why I’m endorsing Hillary Clinton for President. We have great candidates this year, but I believe only Hillary is a proven leader, with 35 years’ experience dealing with challenges facing America. Are you looking for better jobs, universal health care, better treatment for veterans, opportunities for your children? Then you want Hillary Clinton for President. My rookie year, we won our first game on a last second shot. I was so hyped. But the captain of my team said, “take it easy rookie, it’s a long season, it’s a long road to the championship.” He was right. Winning comes from years of hard work and preparation. Whether it’s winning championships or a President who can lead us back to greatness, I’ll always want the most prepared and experienced person leading my team. That’s why I’m asking you to join me in voting for Hillary Clinton for President.

Wheeew boy. This ad is a fuck up. In addition to making an appeal to South Carolina’s Democrats (50% of the party’s primary voters are traditionally black voters) with a basketball player … Here’s the other problem: The Clinton camp is trying to cast Hillary as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (the Team Captain that Johnson mentions) while casting Obama as the inexperienced Johnson.. Unfortunately, that last-second-shot Johnson reminds voters about? That’s an iconic moment in NBA history that anyone over 35 (most voters) remembers. Everyone forgets the shot—which Jabbar hit—and remembers Johnson’s hugs and smiles.

The meaning of that moment? The changing of the guard—when Magic replaced Jabbar in the public mind as the heart of the NBA.

As for “the road to the championship.” Well, here’s how Johnson’s rookie season ended:

the Lakers still had to travel to Philadelphia for a huge Game 6—without Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Enter Magic Johnson, who may have played the greatest game of his career. On May 16, 1980, in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, playing on the road, in Philadelphia, Magic (a 6’9” point guard) started the game at center and eventually played every position on the floor in a dominating performance. Scoring a game-high 42 points and grabbing a game-high 15 rebounds—and handing out 7 assists—Magic Johnson led the Lakers to the NBA crown, stunning Julius Erving, the Philadelphia 76ers, and a national television audience who came to understand the moniker “Magic.”

Magic Johnson was named the 1980 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, though he appreciated Magic Johnson’s play as much as anyone, expressed disappointment that he, Kareem, had not received the Finals MVP award.


I’m a Hils fan, and an even bigger Kareem fan, and so I’m a little mortified at this bad play.

The LGBT Center is Gone…

posted by on January 21 at 9:40 AM

…but the divisiveness promoted by its incompetent leadership promises to live on.

The SGN had a story in Friday’s paper about the demise of the gay community center. You gotta love the heavy breathing lead…

For the first time in nearly six years, the walls in the brick building at 1115 Pike Street—surrounded by the hammers of new construction—stand empty. Seattle’s LGBT Center is as dark as a January night.

I walk that block of Pike Street every day and, yeah, I’m always tripping over the piles of hammers those irresponsible construction works leave behind at the end of day. And now I know why I never saw anyone in the Center when I walked past: meetings were held in the walls, not the offices, but now the walls stand empty. It’s a tragedy.

Anyhoo, this story, like all the others in the SGN about the Center’s demise, doesn’t go into detail about the Center’s collapse. But it does tick off some vague reasons why the gay community groups now want for walls in which to meet:

…unsuccessful attempts at finding more affordable space, weak financial management, and a dispersed community have challenged the vitality of the Center.

Weak financial management—tell us more, SGN. How much was coming in? How much was going out? Where did the money go? Who was making the decisions about how the community center’s money—the community’s money—was spent? Those questions and others aren’t answered in the piece, of course, because the SGN is too polite to pry, I suppose, or perhaps they’re too embarrassed. The Center most went tits up because its leadership, egged on by the SGN and Capitol Hill bar owners, poured its scarce resources into Queerfest, an effort to return Seattle’s gay pride celebrations on Capitol Hill after SOAP, the group that organizes the Pride Parade, moved the parade downtown. (The downtown parade was a big success but SOAP encountered financial difficulties of its own).

The SGN does admit, in a graph buried deep in the story, that Queerfest was a money loser:

The Center is currently running a development campaign to energize its financial resources depleted by a difficult year that included a Pride festival on Capitol Hill that raised less net dollars than expected.

Read “raised less net dollars than expected” as “divided the gay community, lost shitloads of money, didn’t stop the downtown Pride Parade, and ultimately sank the Center.” But has the Center’s discredited, incompetent “leadership”—what’s left of it anyway—and the SGN learned their lesson? Nope:

Queerfest—which attempted to maintain a separate Pride Festival on Capitol Hill—will not be continued by the Center in 2008, but may be licensed to a local organization.

Yes, yes: by all means, keep Queefest going. What we need in 2008—what we need while the Center begs for money—is another bitter, divisive fight between the silent majority of gays and lesbians that preferred the symbolism and energy of a parade on 4th Avenue and a vocal minority of gays and lesbians that want to keep the parade on Capitol Hill. All the SGN and the Center have to find now is a local organization with a deathwish.

The Reverse Bradley Effect

posted by on January 21 at 9:27 AM

Last week, I slogged a post titled “The Reverse Bradley Effect” scoffing at a New York Times article which said the black vote was split on Obama.

Nonsense, I said. And indeed, while Hillary Clinton scored 64% of the Hispanic vote in Nevada, Obama scored 79% of the black vote. This spells big trouble for Clinton in South Carolina, where some 50 percent of Democratic primary voters are black.

Footnote: Clinton won the female vote in Nevada—about 52 to 35. I imagine both the Clinton and Obama campaigns are ringing black women’s phones off the hook this week.

Today in Olympia

posted by on January 21 at 9:08 AM

Sen. Karen Keiser’s (D-33, Kent) bill to create a healthcare plan that will cover all state residents by 2012 “through the private health care sector” is getting a hearing today at 1:30. (Along with her Plan B bill, this is one of Sen. Keiser’s bills that I hyped in a column this week laying out some high expectations for the Democrats this session.)

Keisers’s co-sponsor on the health care bill is Seattle-area Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-36, Ballard).

With about 600,000 uninsured adults in Washington, it’s not encouraging that the bill doesn’t identify a funding source.

Another bill in play today—no number yet, so I can’t link it—deals with WASL. The K-12 Education Committee is hearing a bill that looks at “using multiple measures to meet high school requirements.”

I talked to several offices at the beginning of the session last week because I’d heard chatter that there was bi-partisan support to snuff WASL. Everybody was vague about it, though. We’ll see if this bill-without-a-number offers some clarity.

Meanwhile, both the Senate and Transportation committees are meeting this afternoon. These are committees to keep your eyes on.

Last week, I slogged that Senate Transportation Chair, Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen (D-10, Camino Island), was circulating a draft bill that would dissolve Sound Transit.

A Little Bit of Knowledge

posted by on January 21 at 7:29 AM

You know that thing you wrote saying that the inside of a body is sterile? Well, it’s not. Without bacteria and fungus in our bodies, we wouldn’t be able to digest food. And there are more of them than there are of us. Frankly, I’m really surprised to hear something so wrong, repeated so many times in a column, from someone who professes to be “Science.”

(name was here)

Ph. D. candidate, Dept. of Biology

Your assertion “Unless you’re sick, the inside of your body is sterile—free from bacteria, virus, and fungus” is patently false. In reality the number of bacteria in your gut outnumber the number of human cells in the rest of your body. I think this is important for people to know. John Mayer was (besides horrible) wrong: Your body is not a wonderland. It is an ecosystem.
The skin is essentially a giant anti-harm bag for our other organs, but the inside of the body is not sterile. The upper GI tract has loads of fungus, bacteria, and enzymes living in it that help to digest our food, do nothing, or make us really unhappy. In the lower GI hepatitis, e coli, and lots of other nasties are routinely found. Maybe when you said “the inside of your body” you meant the parts sealed inside, without direct access to the outside, like the abdominal cavity, vascular system, muscles, and so forth.

From my article:

Most of the surfaces where your insides meet the world are deep within your body, in the long tubes of the gut or the branching tree of the lungs.

So, yes. I understand the gut is filled with bacteria, good bacteria that help you digest food, create vitamins and many other useful things. Did you know if those bacteria—perfectly harmless within the gut tube—get inside the body cavity all hell breaks out? Usually the adventure ends in death, or at least a long course of strong antibiotics.

An exception you could have dinged me with? Chlamydia (well, a kind of Chlamydia) actually does grow within many people’s blood vessels.

I ache, long, wish for a question about the gut, diarrhea and the long tubes within the body. Ask. Ask!

A teaser: one of the proposed contributors to the obesity epidemic is a change in composition of bacteria in the gut—from less efficient to more efficient. Wild!

The Morning News

posted by on January 21 at 7:14 AM

Health Scare of the Day: Caffeine tied to miscarriages, cell phones linked to insomnia.

Stimulating: Plans to kick-start US economy should be ready by March.

Drowning the Delta: Oil companies eroding New Orleans’ protection against hurricanes.

Fueling the Debate: EU environmental committee says biofuel is more trouble than it’s worth.

Rewriting History: Canadian government “edits” internal manual, which includes US in a list of countries that torture prisoners.

Young Gun: 15-year-old boy arrested in Bhutto assassination.

Now Hiring:
LA Times axes another editor.

The Clone Wars: The debate over labeling test tube food continues.

Super Bowl XLII: Forrest Gump Vs. Snidely Whiplash.

And now, in the buildup to the Super Bowl, here’s the first video in a week-long wrap up of the blurst moments of the 2007-2008 season.

It’s really unfair.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


posted by on January 20 at 4:19 PM

Just saw this on television. Had to share it with the world:

Barack Obama and Alex Ross. When Worlds Collide. In Seattle.

posted by on January 20 at 12:46 PM

There’s a post and comment up on Counter Critic that dares to criticize teacher’s pet Alex Ross by way of critiquing Barack Obama by way of critiquing an upcoming program at Seattle’s own On the Boards.

The common thread between Obama and Ross that’s anathema to the rabble at Counter Critic? Unity. They think unity of styles is bad for innovation in art music. It’s kind of an identity politics rave up about art theory.

I do dig when zeitgeist politics (Obama) and zeitgeist shit in arts scholarship (Ross) collide. And in Seattle no less.

…both Ross and Obama seem to like to gloss on the future, saying stuff that sounds really great but is also woefully inadequate, unspecific and, in the end, inarticulate. It’s hard to refute this kind of discourse without sounding cynical, defeated, dated or worse. Indeed, both seem to be laying a rhetorical trap. Who wouldn’t want “one vast continent” of peaceful people living in harmony, listening to lots of new music and solving America’s problems together?

Must, Must, Must, Must Read

posted by on January 20 at 12:03 PM

New York Times war correspondent/political reporter Michael R. Gordon on the disjunction between political rhetoric and the actual strategy being pursued in Iraq:

The American officers I met were hardly of one mind on how to proceed in Iraq, but they were grappling with decisions on how to try to stabilize a traumatized country with a hard-headed sense that although there have been significant gains, a long and difficult job still lies ahead — a core assumption that has frequently been missing on the campaign trail.

The politicians, on the other hand, seemed more intent on addressing public impatience with an open-ended commitment in Iraq, either by promising prompt withdrawal (the Democrats) or by suggesting that victory may be near (the Republicans).

Anthony Cordesman, a military specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who regularly visits Iraq, put it this way: “You have to grade all the candidates between a D-minus and an F-plus. The Republicans are talking about this as if we have won and as if Iraq is the center of the war on terrorism, rather than Afghanistan and Pakistan and a host of movements in 50 other countries.

“The Democrats talk about this as if the only problem is to withdraw and the difference is over how quickly to do it.”

On the ground with the troops, it is clear that a major military change was in fact made in Iraq last year — not so much the addition of 30,000 troops, but the shift to a counterinsurgency strategy for using them. That strategy made the protection of Iraq’s population a paramount goal in an effort to drive a wedge between the people and the militants and to encourage Iraqis to provide intelligence that the American military forces need to track down an elusive foe.

But counterinsurgency is inherently a long-term proposition, and that assumption has driven much of the military thinking about the future, even as it heightens the political debate at home.

“Unless you are suppressing insurgents the way the Romans did — creating a desert and calling it peace — it typically can take the better part of a decade or more,” said Andrew Krepinevich, a military expert at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

“The paradox,” he added, “is that counterinsurgency requires convincing the Iraqis of our staying power. At the same time, the American people view success in terms of how quickly we can pull out.”

I haven’t seen it laid out like this before, but the difference in the way that Obama and Clinton (and, god forbid, troops-out-now Edwards) discuss the potential problems ahead in Iraq has had a huge influence on my preference for Obama, who’s at least willing to indicate that withdrawal won’t be all safe American troops and happy Iraqi children:

Senator Hillary Clinton has advocated that the United States rapidly draw down forces while retraining a residual force to fight terrorists, protect the Kurds, deter Iranian aggression and possibly support the Iraqi military. But it is striking that those assignments do not include the core mission of the counterinsurgency doctrine: protecting Iraqi civilians from sectarian violence, which she sees as involving American forces in a civil war.

She was asked in an interview to explain her thinking. “We would not be trying to insert ourselves in the middle between the various Shiite and Sunni factions,” she said last March in her Senate office. “This is an Iraqi problem — we cannot save the Iraqis from themselves.”

But that raises the question of whether American forces could really stay within the security of their bases if thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed outside the gates. It would probably not be long before the media and perhaps the troops themselves asked whether the nation that had taken the lid off Pandora’s box by invading Iraq had a responsibility to protect the defenseless.

Senator Barack Obama has pledged to withdraw combat forces, but perhaps not counterterrorism units or trainers, within 16 months of taking office. Mindful of the risk that such a wholesale withdrawal might lead to an escalation in sectarian killings, he has said that he would be prepared to send American troops back into Iraq as part of an international force to stop genocidal attacks. (That is hardly a far-fetched scenario; a National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq issued in January 2007 by American intelligence agencies warned that the quick withdrawal of all American forces would probably lead to “massive civilian casualties and forced population displacement.”)

“It is conceivable that there comes a point where things descend into the mayhem that shocks the conscience and we say to ourselves, ‘This is not acceptable,’ ” he said in a November interview in his Chicago office. “We don’t know whether this is, in fact, a problem, but I acknowledge that you never know what could happen.”

But fighting their way back into Iraq in the middle of a raging civil war might well be far more difficult and dangerous for American forces than their current operations.

I don’t necessarily like any of the Democrats’ plans for getting out of Iraq, but the problem is tangled enough that I don’t think I can personally identify a better approach. I especially despise the line that Clinton is taking—“We cannot save the Iraqis from themselves”—as I wrote in a Slog post back in February. We created the power vacuum that sectarian interests rushed in to fill, and we can hardly go around blaming Iraqis for failing to instantaneously suture ages-old ethnic rifts that were—no matter what any D appeaser said at the time—creaking audibly under the surface of the Saddam Hussein regime.

I should also say that I appreciate Michael R. Gordon taking the Republicans to task, too. The word “victory” should never be pronounced with regard to the Iraq war. If it were ever possible, which I doubt, it isn’t possible now—because our enemies changed in the middle of the conflict, because we’re trying to protect most Iraqi civilians and trying to capture or kill others, because it’s technically an occupation now, and not a war at all.

As a country, and within the Democratic party, we need to be thinking about these things right now. Withdrawal wouldn’t draw the book to a close; it would merely end a chapter. The next one doesn’t look pretty.

Flickr Photo of the Day

posted by on January 20 at 12:00 PM

From Flickr pooler ~ petem ~.


Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on January 20 at 11:00 AM


‘Monopoly!’ at Capitol Hill Arts Center

Beloved and brilliant ex–hometown boy Mike Daisey returns with an extended run of his beloved and brilliant monologue exploring “monopoly and its discontents,” from Edison and Tesla’s war over electricity to the long, scary shadows cast by Microsoft and Wal-Mart. If you’ve seen Daisey perform, you know his signature marriage of personal obsession and historical observation is relentlessly, deeply entertaining. If you’ve never seen Daisey perform, what the hell’s wrong with you? (Capitol Hill Arts Center, 1621 12th Ave, 7:30 pm, $20 adv/$25 DOS. Through Feb 3.)


Quite a Sunday Sermon

posted by on January 20 at 10:40 AM

Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama spoke at black churches on this day before Martin Luther King Day (which also happens to be the Sunday before the South Carolina primary, where black voters will play a huge role). Clinton reportedly gave a low-key but heartfelt talk at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. Obama went to Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the home church of Dr. King, and delivered a really great speech, which is notable for a number of reasons, one being that he told his black audience that the black community has not always lived out King’s vision when it comes to gays and lesbians. (Paging Rev. Hutcherson…)

Others are posting Obama’s speech in full, and I’m going to join. It’s definitely worth taking a Sunday moment to read. If the text of Clinton’s speech becomes available, I’ll post that too.

Here’s Barack Obama this morning at Ebenezer Baptist:

The Scripture tells us that when Joshua and the Israelites arrived at the gates of Jericho, they could not enter. The walls of the city were too steep for any one person to climb; too strong to be taken down with brute force. And so they sat for days, unable to pass on through.

But God had a plan for his people. He told them to stand together and march together around the city, and on the seventh day he told them that when they heard the sound of the ram’s horn, they should speak with one voice. And at the chosen hour, when the horn sounded and a chorus of voices cried out together, the mighty walls of Jericho came tumbling down.

There are many lessons to take from this passage, just as there are many lessons to take from this day, just as there are many memories that fill the space of this church. As I was thinking about which ones we need to remember at this hour, my mind went back to the very beginning of the modern Civil Rights Era.

Because before Memphis and the mountaintop; before the bridge in Selma and the march on Washington; before Birmingham and the beatings; the fire hoses and the loss of those four little girls; before there was King the icon and his magnificent dream, there was King the young preacher and a people who found themselves suffering under the yoke of oppression.

And on the eve of the bus boycotts in Montgomery, at a time when many were still doubtful about the possibilities of change, a time when those in the black community mistrusted themselves, and at times mistrusted each other, King inspired with words not of anger, but of an urgency that still speaks to us today:

“Unity is the great need of the hour” is what King said. Unity is how we shall overcome.

What Dr. King understood is that if just one person chose to walk instead of ride the bus, those walls of oppression would not be moved. But maybe if a few more walked, the foundation might start to shake. If a few more women were willing to do what Rosa Parks had done, maybe the cracks would start to show. If teenagers took freedom rides from North to South, maybe a few bricks would come loose. Maybe if white folks marched because they had come to understand that their freedom too was at stake in the impending battle, the wall would begin to sway. And if enough Americans were awakened to the injustice; if they joined together, North and South, rich and poor, Christian and Jew, then perhaps that wall would come tumbling down, and justice would flow like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Unity is the great need of the hour – the great need of this hour. Not because it sounds pleasant or because it makes us feel good, but because it’s the only way we can overcome the essential deficit that exists in this country.

I’m not talking about a budget deficit. I’m not talking about a trade deficit. I’m not talking about a deficit of good ideas or new plans.

I’m talking about a moral deficit. I’m talking about an empathy deficit. I’m taking about an inability to recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we are our brother’s keeper; we are our sister’s keeper; that, in the words of Dr. King, we are all tied together in a single garment of destiny.

We have an empathy deficit when we’re still sending our children down corridors of shame – schools in the forgotten corners of America where the color of your skin still affects the content of your education.

We have a deficit when CEOs are making more in ten minutes than some workers make in ten months; when families lose their homes so that lenders make a profit; when mothers can’t afford a doctor when their children get sick.

We have a deficit in this country when there is Scooter Libby justice for some and Jena justice for others; when our children see nooses hanging from a schoolyard tree today, in the present, in the twenty-first century.

We have a deficit when homeless veterans sleep on the streets of our cities; when innocents are slaughtered in the deserts of Darfur; when young Americans serve tour after tour of duty in a war that should’ve never been authorized and never been waged.

And we have a deficit when it takes a breach in our levees to reveal a breach in our compassion; when it takes a terrible storm to reveal the hungry that God calls on us to feed; the sick He calls on us to care for; the least of these He commands that we treat as our own.

So we have a deficit to close. We have walls – barriers to justice and equality – that must come down. And to do this, we know that unity is the great need of this hour.

Unfortunately, all too often when we talk about unity in this country, we’ve come to believe that it can be purchased on the cheap. We’ve come to believe that racial reconciliation can come easily – that it’s just a matter of a few ignorant people trapped in the prejudices of the past, and that if the demagogues and those who exploit our racial divisions will simply go away, then all our problems would be solved.

All too often, we seek to ignore the profound institutional barriers that stand in the way of ensuring opportunity for all children, or decent jobs for all people, or health care for those who are sick. We long for unity, but are unwilling to pay the price.

But of course, true unity cannot be so easily won. It starts with a change in attitudes – a broadening of our minds, and a broadening of our hearts.

It’s not easy to stand in somebody else’s shoes. It’s not easy to see past our differences. We’ve all encountered this in our own lives. But what makes it even more difficult is that we have a politics in this country that seeks to drive us apart – that puts up walls between us.

We are told that those who differ from us on a few things are different from us on all things; that our problems are the fault of those who don’t think like us or look like us or come from where we do. The welfare queen is taking our tax money. The immigrant is taking our jobs. The believer condemns the non-believer as immoral, and the non-believer chides the believer as intolerant.

For most of this country’s history, we in the African-American community have been at the receiving end of man’s inhumanity to man. And all of us understand intimately the insidious role that race still sometimes plays – on the job, in the schools, in our health care system, and in our criminal justice system.

And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King’s vision of a beloved community.

We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.

Every day, our politics fuels and exploits this kind of division across all races and regions; across gender and party. It is played out on television. It is sensationalized by the media. And last week, it even crept into the campaign for President, with charges and counter-charges that served to obscure the issues instead of illuminating the critical choices we face as a nation.

So let us say that on this day of all days, each of us carries with us the task of changing our hearts and minds. The division, the stereotypes, the scape-goating, the ease with which we blame our plight on others – all of this distracts us from the common challenges we face – war and poverty; injustice and inequality. We can no longer afford to build ourselves up by tearing someone else down. We can no longer afford to traffic in lies or fear or hate. It is the poison that we must purge from our politics; the wall that we must tear down before the hour grows too late.

Because if Dr. King could love his jailor; if he could call on the faithful who once sat where you do to forgive those who set dogs and fire hoses upon them, then surely we can look past what divides us in our time, and bind up our wounds, and erase the empathy deficit that exists in our hearts.

But if changing our hearts and minds is the first critical step, we cannot stop there. It is not enough to bemoan the plight of poor children in this country and remain unwilling to push our elected officials to provide the resources to fix our schools. It is not enough to decry the disparities of health care and yet allow the insurance companies and the drug companies to block much-needed reforms. It is not enough for us to abhor the costs of a misguided war, and yet allow ourselves to be driven by a politics of fear that sees the threat of attack as way to scare up votes instead of a call to come together around a common effort.

The Scripture tells us that we are judged not just by word, but by deed. And if we are to truly bring about the unity that is so crucial in this time, we must find it within ourselves to act on what we know; to understand that living up to this country’s ideals and its possibilities will require great effort and resources; sacrifice and stamina.

And that is what is at stake in the great political debate we are having today. The changes that are needed are not just a matter of tinkering at the edges, and they will not come if politicians simply tell us what we want to hear. All of us will be called upon to make some sacrifice. None of us will be exempt from responsibility. We will have to fight to fix our schools, but we will also have to challenge ourselves to be better parents. We will have to confront the biases in our criminal justice system, but we will also have to acknowledge the deep-seated violence that still resides in our own communities and marshal the will to break its grip.

That is how we will bring about the change we seek. That is how Dr. King led this country through the wilderness. He did it with words – words that he spoke not just to the children of slaves, but the children of slave owners. Words that inspired not just black but also white; not just the Christian but the Jew; not just the Southerner but also the Northerner.

He led with words, but he also led with deeds. He also led by example. He led by marching and going to jail and suffering threats and being away from his family. He led by taking a stand against a war, knowing full well that it would diminish his popularity. He led by challenging our economic structures, understanding that it would cause discomfort. Dr. King understood that unity cannot be won on the cheap; that we would have to earn it through great effort and determination.

That is the unity – the hard-earned unity – that we need right now. It is that effort, and that determination, that can transform blind optimism into hope – the hope to imagine, and work for, and fight for what seemed impossible before.

The stories that give me such hope don’t happen in the spotlight. They don’t happen on the presidential stage. They happen in the quiet corners of our lives. They happen in the moments we least expect. Let me give you an example of one of those stories.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organizes for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She’s been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and the other day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

So Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.”

By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we begin. It is why the walls in that room began to crack and shake.

And if they can shake in that room, they can shake in Atlanta.

And if they can shake in Atlanta, they can shake in Georgia.

And if they can shake in Georgia, they can shake all across America. And if enough of our voices join together; we can bring those walls tumbling down. The walls of Jericho can finally come tumbling down. That is our hope – but only if we pray together, and work together, and march together.

Brothers and sisters, we cannot walk alone.

In the struggle for peace and justice, we cannot walk alone.

In the struggle for opportunity and equality, we cannot walk alone.

In the struggle to heal this nation and repair this world, we cannot walk alone.

So I ask you to walk with me, and march with me, and join your voice with mine, and together we will sing the song that tears down the walls that divide us, and lift up an America that is truly indivisible, with liberty, and justice, for all. May God bless the memory of the great pastor of this church, and may God bless the United States of America.