February 20th, 2009

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GOP governors take the (stimulus) money and run

GOP governors take the (stimulus) money and run
For higher office, and away from their earlier statements about how much they hate the whole idea of the stimulus.

Feb. 20, 2009 | Voting against the economic stimulus package? That's so last week. For some Republicans, there's a hot new way to show just how fervently they opposed the $787 billion bill President Obama signed into law Tuesday: pretend they're not going to take the money.

Or, at least, make a lot of noise about maybe not wanting it. A handful of GOP governors are making headlines for saying they'd rather not or maybe shouldn't take the billions of dollars the stimulus package would rain down on their states. It's the logical extension of the Republican strategy on the bill, after all; only three Republicans in the Senate, and none in the House, voted for the legislation, after the party decided en masse that the plan would put the nation on the road to socialism. If the spending won't fix the national economy, the theory goes, it won't fix the local economy, either.

But despite the protests, the governors will almost certainly wind up taking the money anyway, just as states do with federal aid all the time. Some of the states whose governors have been the loudest voices against the stimulus cash already benefit heavily from federal spending or from lucrative private use of federal land for oil. So perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that Texas Gov. Rick Perry decided Thursday to accept the $17 billion his state has coming to it, after days of hemming and hawing about the handout. South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal Op-Ed page in November titled "Don't Bail Out My State," did the same. They're in good company; Minnesota's Tim Pawlenty criticized the plan loudly while Congress debated it, then said he owed it to his constituents to take it. Alabama Gov. Bob Riley stepped up his criticism of the bill after announcing he would take the $2 billion his state gets from it. Republicans in the House even boasted about the bacon the bill would bring home, after engineering a unanimous vote against it. When just about every state is in a financial crunch, thanks to the collapsing economy, it's hard to hold the line and actually turn down the cash. "It's fucking stupid," said one Republican consultant in Washington. "If the money's there, they'd be nuts to not take it ... If it's a question of, 'Hey, the money's going to be spent, so we might as well spend it in our state,' that's just nuts to turn it down."

Of course, in the bizarro world that is Republican politics in the age of Obama, turning down billions of dollars in federal aid might make political sense. "You could be a hero as the one guy who said no," said anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, who thinks opposing the money could help establish fiscal conservative bona fides with the GOP base. "The longer you look at this [bill], the more it smells." Republicans who don't like the stimulus plan are likely to notice the high-profile complaints this week. "Some Republican governors aren't big on federal largesse even when it helps their own constituents," said GOP strategist Mark McKinnon, who says the holdouts against the money deserve credit for standing on principle. "Pretty bold, I'd say."

But in the end, refusing the money actually comes at very little cost; a provision in the stimulus law allows state legislatures to vote to accept the cash even if the governors don't formally request it. What's playing out this week, then, among the Republican refuseniks may be more about politics than policy. Here are six of the more vocal Republicans who pretended to just say no, and the amount of stimulus money they pretended to decline.
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Bill proposes ISPs, Wi-Fi keep logs for police -- CNET News

Republican politicians on Thursday called for a sweeping new federal law that would require all Internet providers and operators of millions of Wi-Fi access points, even hotels, local coffee shops, and home users, to keep records about users for two years to aid police investigations.

The legislation, which echoes a measure proposed by one of their Democratic colleagues three years ago, would impose unprecedented data retention requirements on a broad swath of Internet access providers and is certain to draw fire from businesses and privacy advocates.

"While the Internet has generated many positive changes in the way we communicate and do business, its limitless nature offers anonymity that has opened the door to criminals looking to harm innocent children," U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said at a press conference on Thursday. "Keeping our children safe requires cooperation on the local, state, federal, and family level."

Joining Cornyn was Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, the senior Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who said such a measure would let "law enforcement stay ahead of the criminals."

Two bills have been introduced so far--S.436 in the Senate and H.R.1076 in the House. Each of the companion bills is titled "Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today's Youth Act," or Internet Safety Act.


source (full article in link)
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Rush Limbaugh Publishes Letter to Obama: 'Keep Airwaves Free'

Rush Limbaugh Publishes Letter to Obama: 'Keep Airwaves Free'

Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh published an open letter to Barack Obama Friday imploring the new president to prevent his Party from destroying free speech in America by censoring political views on the airwaves:

I have a straightforward question, which I hope you will answer in a straightforward way: Is it your intention to censor talk radio through a variety of contrivances, such as "local content," "diversity of ownership," and "public interest" rules -- all of which are designed to appeal to populist sentiments but, as you know, are the death knell of talk radio and the AM band?

Limbaugh's words were in a Wall Street Journal op-ed (h/t Hot Air):
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Ha ha!

Buttars To Lose Senate Judiciary Committee Post Over Anti-Gay Rant

 

Utah state Sen. Chris Buttars will be stripped of his key Senate Judiciary Committee post because of his hateful anti-gay rant in the documentary 8: The Mormon Proposition.
An anti-gay diatribe by Sen. Chris Buttars will cost him his spot on the Senate Judiciary Committee, The Tribune has learned. Senate Republicans, prompted by complaints from minority Democrats, held a frank discussion of Buttars' actions in a closed-door caucus Thursday. Afterward, senators would not discuss what action, if any, might be taken against the West Jordan Republican. Part of it, Senate leaders said, depends on what Buttars, who left the Capitol after Thursday's caucus to be with his family, decides to do. He did not return a phone message. But Senate President Michael Waddoups said the action he plans to take is clear. "I've made up my mind what I'm going to do," Waddoups, R-Taylorsville said, but he would not elaborate. Sources familiar with the Senate discussions, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the Senate Republican caucus decided to remove Buttars from the Senate Judiciary Committee, a panel which he currently chairs.
I'll have to admit that I'm impressed that a GOP president of the Utah senate is taking this swift action.

Source



I dunno why but his comment about Muslims offended me even more.  What an idiot.

rex_dart - Xhibit/Aretha Hat!

My "Not Surprised" Face, Let Me Show You It.

RNC Gives Verdict for First Month: Disappointing

It is the one month anniversary of Obama's swearing in.
(CNN) — It's the one-month anniversary of President Obama's swearing-in, and not surprisingly the Republican National Committee is out with its' verdict: It's been "disappointing."

"Obama's first month has been marked by wasteful spending, failed bipartisanship, and questionable ethics," the RNC said in a document circulated to reporters.

The RNC specifically faults the new president for failing to garner a significant amount of GOP votes for his massive stimulus plan, despite pledges of bipartisanship during the presidential campaign.

Republicans also criticize the stimulus measure for including some money for interest groups, despite the president's earlier view that the bill would be kept clean of excess spending projects.

The lengthy document goes on to criticize Obama for not being more transparent with what is in the stimulus bill and appointing individuals to government agencies who appear to have lobbied in the past.

Source

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Don't Play "Eluding the Cat" in China


Chinese officials have invited internet users to help them investigate a suspicious death in custody after police claims that the man died during a game of hide and seek prompted outrage, the country's media reported today.

Li Qiaoming died from a brain injury sustained at a detention centre in the south-western province of Yunnan. Police in Puning county claimed he was injured while "eluding the cat" — as the game is known in China — with fellow prisoners.

News of the 24-year-old's death spread rapidly thanks to the seemingly extraordinary official explanation and an underlying distrust of police and anger towards the brutal treatment of suspects. "Eluding the cat" has become a buzz-phrase on the internet and the incident drew more than 35,000 comments at one site alone.

 

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See, the internets and media isn't all bad, China!

Bigger than Jesus

Obama is America's no 1 hero, not Jesus: Survey

Photobucket
Picture by mollygrue.deviantart.com.


CHICAGO: US President Barack Obama has beaten Jesus Christ to be American's number one hero, according to a new Harris poll.

he top 10 list based on the poll showed Obama at number one position, Jesus Christ at number two, and Martin Luther King at number three.

Wrapping up the top five are Ronald Reagan and George W Bush.

They were followed by Abraham Lincoln, John McCain, John F Kennedy, Chesley Sullenberger, and Mother Teresa in the same order.

The online survey involved 2,634 US adults, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

The news report said that those surveyed were asked whom they admired enough to call their heroes, but were not shown any list of people to choose from.

In a Harris Poll conducted in 2001, Jesus Christ was the hero mentioned most often, followed by Martin Luther King, Colin Powell, John F Kennedy and Mother Teresa.

Bush was rated 19th at the time, but the latest list shows him to be on number five.

John McCain, who was not in the top 20 in 2001, is presently number seven.

Mother Teresa, who was number 5 in 2001, is now number 10.

American's top 10 heroes are:
1. Barack Obama 2. Jesus Christ 3. Martin Luther King 4. Ronald Reagan (Ew.) 5. George W. Bush (WTF?!) 6. Abraham Lincoln 7. John McCain (LOL) 8. John F. Kennedy 9. Chesley Sullenberger (Should be #1) 10. Mother Teresa.


Source.

ETA: What’s oddly missing are the actual percentages of participants who named any of these people (or deities) as their heroes. Upon inquiry, it turns out that all of 6 percent picked Obama (meaning 94 percent did not); 5 percent Jesus; 4 percent Martin Luther King; 3 percent or fewer, anyone else. And that’s with up to three choices per person allowed.

Who's your hero, ontd_p?

Gay Minnesota State Senator Responds To Backlash About Non-Support of Gay Rights Bill

Openly gay Minnesota Republican state Sen. Paul Koering is under fire for refusing to support same-sex marriage because the state has "more important" items on the agenda. Koering is getting a lot of understandable flack from his fellow gays and this, in part, is how his assistant is responding to complaining emails:
I can testify all day long about how much Senator Koering cares for the People of Senate District 12. He ran three consecutive times, being defeated the first two, and why did he put himself through so much hard work? Do you think it was because he needed another job? Absolutely not! He did it because he believed he was the best person to serve the People that he calls neighbors, friends, and family. And especially now, in a time like this, we are being bogged down with this completely pointless issue. There are People in Morrison and Crow Wing Counties, and across the State who are losing their jobs, their homes, their insurance, and were you to ask them if this is an issue that should take one second of precedent over these conditions they're facing every day, do you believe, do you honestly believe that they would say to you, 'Yes, please, waste the time of the State Legislature with a piece of legislation that will not help, but in fact, overshadow the current situation we're living in? Please, waste their time with this piece of legislation while I tell my son and daughter that mom and dad aren't hungry tonight?' I know very well that you will respond to this e-mail of mine with some probably quirky, snide, and very thoughtless comment that will make me out to be a bad person and threaten the Senator even more just as most of the absolutely tactless and disrespectful e-mails we've received have been written, but really, don't waste your time. We'll just put your e-mail where it belongs, in the trash.
You really must read the entire letter. It's the most astonishingly bold "FUCK YOU" I've seen from the office of a gay politician to his fellow queers. I suggest returning the favor.

Sen. Koering's email: sen.paul.koering@senate.mn. His office phone number: 651.296.4875.

Source


' jules
  • schmiss

Even Schumer is backing it now...

Schumer: Failed 'Zombie' Banks Should Be Nationalized



Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) believes that failed "zombie" banks, no matter what their size, should be taken over by the government, which should then wipe out shareholders, fire management, clean up the banks and quickly resell them into the marketplace. Such a move, he cautioned, should come only if the "stress tests" being conducted by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner determine a bank to be insolvent.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Schumer sought to clarify and elaborate on widely-reported comments he made last Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

During the show, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, turned a few heads by stating that nationalizing the banks should be a policy option on the table.

Responding a few moments later, Schumer said on ABC, "I would not be for nationalizing. I don't think government is good at making these decisions."

But on Friday, Schumer argued that there are good and bad ways to nationalize banks, and that the loaded nature of the term often leads to confusion. "'Nationalization' means many different things to many different people, and somebody needs to clear it up," said Schumer. "We have to distinguish. I like the good and don't like the bad."

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movies | Impish Fräulein2

Shenanigans Friday: February 20, 2009.

"LOLocracy is a process by which the people are free to choose the man who will get the blame." --LOLrence J. Peter


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by valencianbelle
Killjoy Spin
  • arisma

Puff, Puff, Tax?

It is a time of strange bedfellows and bizarre contortions and extraordinary responses to extreme situations, all overslathered with gobs of panic and dread and oh my God, I might have to sell the Range Rover.

In other words, it is a time -- like you don't already know -- of plentiful alarmist rhetoric, resulting in weird outbursts of ingenuity and wanton ethics-loosening, all in a desperate effort to suck up some much-needed cash.

Translation: Money's tight, baby. City's in trouble. State's deep in the hole. Nation's broke.

 

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Source

2 Teen Girls, Injured By Train, Cope With Change

by Suzi Piker

On the morning of May 28 last year, Destiny Phaneuf and her best friend, Rachel Brown, knew one thing: They didn't want to go to school.

The two eighth-graders were tired. They had stayed up pretty much all night. And sometime between surfing MySpace and sneaking outside to the trampoline, they hatched a plan. Instead of getting on the bus, they would walk down to the train tracks near Rachel's house in Lebanon, Maine, and spend the day outside, out of sight.

"It's not like it's such a bad thing that we go on [the tracks], because everyone does," says Rachel, who was 14 then. "Like people every day go on those tracks — go jumping off of it, they go in the water, sit on there and go fishing. It's not, like, out of the blue."

The girls lay down between the train tracks — Destiny, who was 13 at the time, on her right side and Rachel on her left side. They put their heads on Rachel's bag and fell asleep.

"We were like wicked tired and we didn't really mean to," Destiny says. "But we were just laying down and talking and everything."

"We didn't really mean to fall asleep," Rachel chimes in.

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TL;DR: Last May, when they were in eighth grade, Destiny Phaneuf and Rachel Brown skipped school and fell asleep on tracks in Lebanon, Maine. They were hit by a train.

from npr.
naknaknaknak

(no subject)

 

Illinois governor says Sen. Burris should resign



CHICAGO – Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday called on fellow Democrat Roland Burris to resign from the U.S. Senate, saying the controversy surrounding Burris' appointment to the seat was hurting the state and his constituents. Meanwhile, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Burris must explain the conflicting statements that have put his appointment in peril and should take time this weekend to "certainly think of what lays in his future."

 

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Associated Press writer Tammy Webber contributed to this report.

sauce

Gay Couple Assaulted At Regal Union Square Movie Theater

http://images-cdn01.associatedcontent.com/image/A1019/101980/300_101980.jpg

This horrifying email came in from a reader whose recent night at the movies ended at the hospital for his boyfriend and himself. Here goes:

"On Sunday evening February 15th, my boyfriend and I attended the Regal Union Square theater on 13th Street and Broadway. While inside, he had placed his head on my shoulder and four boys behind us began calling us 'faggots' and 'homos' and began forcefully kicking the back of our chairs. We contacted the management twice and they did nothing, and the second time I was speaking of what happened and the manager rolled his eyes and walked off and ignored me while I was talking. After the movie was finished, the homophobic remarks continued and the boys began to physically threaten us and surround us.

"We looked for any security, of which none was available. Once outside the theater, we were both assaulted by the four boys with glass bottles, shards of glass, and a box cutter, and taken to the hospital. I had suffered a head contusion and my boyfriend suffered a wrist and head contusion and a facial laceration. The case has been classified as a hate crime by NYPD and all parties concerned believe the movie theater was negligent in handling the situation twice and not providing ample security. Also, it should be noted that the boys were related to an employee of the theatre, and were underaged, therefore they should not have been given tickets/admitted into a rated-R movie.

Sincerely,
Branden McGillvery-Dummett"

Note from Musto: I put in a call to Regal Theaters' executive offices for a comment about this a day and a half ago, and I'm still waiting to hear back.

Source

God that's terrifying.  That could've easily been me or someone I know.  When will this shit stop?
Starbucks Xmas Cup 1

Because his 15 min of fame will go on forever...even when we don't want it to.

I saw this in the hospital cafeteria on my way out when I finished my Pulmomary Rehab today. I facepalmed when I saw the cover. I don't know what made me open it, but the article itself was truely a bunch of tl;dr. I looked it up online to c/p to y'all *sorry, but I wasn't typing all that shit out by hand, word.*

Joe the Non Plumber...please just GO AWAY!!



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BBQ Sauce and Conflakes are tasty
good news everyone!
  • 7950

Al-Qaeda founder launches fierce attack on Osama bin Laden



Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, who goes by the nom de guerre Dr Fadl, helped bin Laden create al-Qaeda and then led an Islamist insurgency in Egypt in the 1990s.

But in a book written from inside an Egyptian prison, he has launched a frontal attack on al-Qaeda's ideology and the personal failings of bin Laden and particularly his Egyptian deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.


Twenty years ago, Dr Fadl became al-Qaeda's intellectual figurehead with a crucial book setting out the rationale for global jihad against the West.

Today, however, he believes the murder of innocent people is both contrary to Islam and a strategic error. "Every drop of blood that was shed or is being shed in Afghanistan and Iraq is the responsibility of bin Laden and Zawahiri and their followers," writes Dr Fadl.

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Source.
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For Whom the Whistle Blows

For Whom the Whistle Blows
Swimming against a tide of greed can be a lonely and dangerous business. The least those in authority can do is pay attention

By some accounts it took Alex Dalmady half an hour on the web to spot the $8 billion hole in Stanford International Bank's balance sheet. He did it as a favour to a friend and now hopes only to be allowed to return to anonymity.

Paul Moore had to wait four years to exact his revenge on Sir James Crosby for ignoring his warnings that the sales culture at HBOS was out of control - but that revenge, in front of the Commons Treasury Select Committee this month, was sweet and very public.

Harry Markopolos toiled for nine years to bring the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme to light. He told his story to a congressional hearing in a voice shaking with anger and words that could have been scripted for Hollywood.
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Questioning Stanford's returns could get you fired

While R. Allen Stanford's investors were swallowing claims of vast returns on safe investments, some of his employees weren't so sure.


And though one of them tried as early as 2003 to pass on to regulators his concerns about the bank, nothing came of it until Stanford's operations were raided and shut down Tuesday.

The Texas billionaire with a reputation for jet-setting and lavish spending faces civil charges for allegedly lying about his investment strategy. But in 2003, when his offshore banking empire was exploding in size, even asking managers one question too many could get you fired, Miami broker Charles Hazlett said.

Hazlett was a top performer at Stanford's bank, having sold $10 million in certificates of deposit in a single quarter of 2002. The company rewarded him with a new BMW.

But when a client asked Hazlett for details about the investments, no one at the bank would give him even basic information about risk ratings and asset allocation, he said in an interview.

Eventually, Hazlett said, he called a meeting with a top officer of the bank to ask how the investments worked. Instead of answers, he got an ultimatum: Resign or be fired.
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So... you are telling me if it wasnt for the Madoff scandal the SEC wouldnt even move a finger?...

(no subject)

First lady delivers pep talk at Transportation



By ANN SANNER – 7 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — First lady Michelle Obama said Friday that the work of the Transportation Department touches the lives of every American and it will play a vital role in stimulating the country's economy.

Mrs. Obama also touted improvements in infrastructure that she said will come due to the $787 billion economic stimulus package her husband signed into law this week.

"Every day, you carry out the business of keeping America moving," Mrs. Obama told the agency's employees. "And now that President Obama has signed the Economic Recovery Plan into law, you will also help carry out the business of getting our economy moving again as well."

The first lady delivered the pep talk to federal workers, part of her tour of departments and agencies to thank employees for their work.

As she spoke briefly to a crowd of employees in the department's atrium, other workers peered out windows from the floors above her to watch.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood introduced Mrs. Obama and commented on their mutual Illinois ties. LaHood served 14 years as a Republican congressman for Illinois; the first lady is a native of the state.

"Your visit sends a clear signal to all of us that we matter," LaHood told her.

Mrs. Obama said she and the president appreciate the commitment and sacrifice public servants make at their jobs, which is one reason she has decided to visit each agency.

The first lady has also greeted workers at the departments of Education, Interior and Housing and Urban Development. On Thursday, she stopped at the Agriculture Department to hand over a seedling from a magnolia tree on the White House lawn.

"Just know that we value you, that America values you," Mrs. Obama said at Friday's stop. "And together, we can get this country moving again."

Source
' jules
  • schmiss

Oh Bobby dear we're not the fortunate ones, your constituents, they wanna have funds

Jindal Rejects $90 Million In Recovery Funding That Would Have Benefited 25,000 Louisiana Residents



When President Obama signed the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act last week, it included three different provisions to benefit unemployed workers. The first provided funding to states that allowed for a $25 per week increase in benefits. The second extended the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program which gives 20 weeks of federally-funded unemployment benefits to individuals “who had already collected all regular state benefits,” while the third provision widened the pool of people eligible to receive unemployment benefits.

Today, however, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal announced his intention to oppose changing state law to allow his Lousiana citizens to qualify for the second two unemployment provisions. Jindal said the state would only be accepting money to increase the unemployment insurance payments for those who currently qualify for unemployment insurance.

In all, Jindal turned away nearly $100 million in federal aid for his state’s unemployed residents. Further, as the National Employment Law Project projected on Febuary 13, EUC extension alone would have benefited 24,981 Louisiana residents. Jindal justified his decision by claiming that expanding unemployment benefits would result in tax increases for businesses. In a press release, the governor’s office explained:
The Governor said the state will not use a portion of the stimulus package that requires the state to change its law to expand unemployment insurance (UI) coverage to qualify for up to $32.8 million of the federal stimulus funding because it ultimately would result in a tax increase on Louisiana businesses.

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lol @ this loser. It's just talk, the legislature is obvs going to override him because, um, it's Louisiana.

as for WHY he's doing it... idk if he's running for 2012 because he'll be 41 at the time, one of the youngest candidates to ever run on a major party ticket. jmo but I think he'd be an idiot not to wait for '16, especially since there's a good chance of it being an open field (depends on if Biden stays on as VP in the second term or if he gets switched out for Sebelius/Kaine/Warner/Herseth/Kucinich/Colbert/Caroline Kennedy). Maybe he just wants attention.
waiting
  • bispo

Good Luck and Good Riddance


A Brilliant Choice

In the first week of February, the news broke that President Barack Obama had tapped Seattle police chief Gil Kerlikowske to serve as the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy—a position colloquially known as "drug czar." The choice looks perfect from many angles: Kerlikowske would be relieved from patrolling a third-tier burg, and we'd be relieved to unload Kerlikowske. Moreover, if confirmed by the Senate, our top cop—a liberal by national standards—could take Seattle's progressive approach to drug enforcement to Washington, D.C.

Under recent administrations' drug czars, the United States saw the steepest spike in drug enforcement in history. Between 1992 and 2008, drug arrests ballooned by 80 percent—but drug use still increased.

Kerlikowske is cut from different cloth. Since becoming police chief in August 2000, Kerlikowske has overseen some of the most aggressive reforms to drug enforcement allowed under federal law. Under his watch, arrests for misdemeanor pot possession have plummeted—from 332 people in 2000 to 148 in 2006, the most recent year for which information is available. Some of that decline is due to the voter-approved Initiative 75, which made marijuana enforcement the city's lowest law-enforcement priority. But while City Attorney Tom Carr campaigned against the measure for months, Kerlikowske did not actively campaign against it. And after voters passed the law in 2003, he went along with it; as an SPD narcotics captain told a city panel charged with reviewing pot enforcement, "Officers [have been] advised" that pot investigations and arrests were "to be their lowest priority."

Meanwhile, Kerlikowske's record on needle exchange—one of the top items on the new administration's drug agenda—is impressive. James Apa, spokesman for Public Health–Seattle & King County, says, "There has been long-standing support... from SPD for our continued operation of the needle exchange." The county public health department runs one of the largest needle-exchange programs in the nation, and local intravenous drug users have some of the lowest HIV-infection rates in the country. Kris Nyrop, former director of the needle exchange group Street Outreach Services, adds that under Kerlikowske, "the police basically leave needle exchanges alone."

Kerlikowske has also overseen a shift in drug policy from enforcement to treatment. Most notably, he allowed the Get Off the Streets program to hatch in the Central District in 2006. That year, then-lieutenant John Hayes (now a captain) set up a table in an open-air drug market where people with criminal warrants could visit for referrals to housing, health, and human services without risking arrest.

"That was, at that time, a very edgy approach, and the chief was willing to let one of his people staff the program," says City Council member Nick Licata, who soon pushed for legislation to fund the project. "It was at a stage where Gil could have stopped it, but he allowed it to go forward."

Although he isn't going to legalize pot, drug czar Kerlikowske could push to lift the federal ban on funding needle exchanges, stop the medical-pot raids in California, overhaul spending on antidrug commercials, and enthusiastically seek funding for drug-treatment programs.

The larger brilliance of Obama's pick for drug czar isn't just that Kerlikowske is open to new strategies, but that he is first and foremost a cop. Nobody can claim that Kerlikowske is a public-health nut who doesn't know the impact of drugs on the streets. Like many Americans, he agrees that drugs should be illegal. But he understands that both enforcement and public health have their place, and he's willing to take a look at new approaches when enforcement alone has failed. DOMINIC HOLDEN

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