Hey, St. Louis! Chill the fuck out!

Look, I’m glad that Democrats are starting to show up at these town halls and show Republican nut job protesters that they don’t have a patent on being loud and disruptive. It’s nice to see some backbone out of the lefty base, after all. But seriously, shit’s about to get really real in St. Louis, with anti-health care reform protesters encouraging one another to bring firearms to townhall meetings and hurt their pro-reform adversaries “badly.” By the way, Twitter asshole Scott Oskay – carrying a gun, even with a permit, to a meeting of a government body is a crime under Missouri law. Thanks for inciting!

And if that’s still too classy or subtle, give a listen to this number in which a woman from Oregon threatens the SEIU.

Extra points for ending a phone call threatening to cap motherfuckers with the phrase “stop the violence” aside,  lets’ just hope someone is keeping an eye on these whackadoos who, make no mistake, are threatening to come to public meetings to shoot people. There’s a lot of fringe right whackos out there right now who seem to feel that the best thing they can do for their country is shoot up an abortion clinic or a museum – hold a good thought that we don’t have to add townhall meeting to that sad list.

Okay, Dave Reichert officially has to go. I mean like, really, really has to go.

In this recent feature from Huffington Post, Reichert is confronted, like many other Republican members of Congress, as to whether he believes that President Barack Obama is a natural born citizen of the United States. Rather than answer the fairly simple question, Reichert plays patriot, opining that everyone in America has a right to make up facts and present them as truth! After all, isn’t misrepresenting specious accusations as fact at the very core of the First Amendment? Shouldn’t we give the wild-eyed, pistol waving opinions of say, this guy on the sidewalk with a cardboard sign the same weight and respect as newspaper records and birth certificates?

At about 1:16 into the video below, Reichert proposes that we should.

“If we’re in America and we are free, and we allow people to say – I mean, people stand on the sidewalk, and this gentleman… gets to stand for what he believes in in the way he decides to, because we’re in America.”

That’s right – when Dave Reichert thinks he might have a constitutional crisis on his hands, who does he consult? Joe Homeless Guy. Now I’m not saying this chap isn’t a nice fellow. I’m not even saying he’s not a smart guy. But I am saying that the chances are good that he’s not a constitutional law expert, because most constitutional law experts don’t look like they rolled out of the gutter this morning.

And for future reference, the First Amendment does not depend on us protecting opinion as fact. It protects our right to hold a dumbass, uninformed opinion, but it doesn’t require that other people respect it, much to my frequent chagrin.

But this is the base of the Republican party now, and there are not many Republican members of Congress who are going to be able to say “I believe Barack Obama is a natural born citizen of the United States of America,” and get re-elected. The right wing base is not interested in debating ideas anymore, as their recent performances at town halls across the country attest. This isn’t about ideas, or civil debate, or disagreements over policy or even facts. This is about who’s going to yell the loudest. It’s about making up the craziest lies you can and hoping people stay distracted by them until 2012. It’s not even about winning – it’s about making the other guy lose. And as much as liberals would like to stay above that fight, to some extent, we’re going to have to get our hands dirty and go after this stuff.

Reichert represents a wide open district – WA 8th – Darcy Burner came within a couple of percentage points of winning in the last two elections. It’s a district in a thoroughly blue state and a democratic leaning region that has sent Reichert to the hill as a centrist for the last six years. If he has to bow to his base and do things like question whether or not the president is a natural born citizen, those centrist credentials are going to go right out the door. And that’s the sort of hit to Reichert’s campaign that Democratic challenger Suzan DelBene could make good use of.

Here’s hoping someone makes him answer the question.

For those who aren’t aware, I have been a Washingtonian for long enough that, aside from a few loyalties in the sporting world that are so deeply ingrained and despair inducing that they can safely be considered genetic disorders, I have pretty much gone native. It’s a mostly laid back corner of the country, which suits me just fine, because I tend to be a fairly tense sort of chap, and the green and grey backdrop and relaxed atmosphere cut that just enough that I’m not intolerable to those around me. For the most part.

Which is why it was a touch off putting to hear material concerning my mostly sleepy state all over the news today, starting with the big business story of the day out of Redmond. Microsoft and Yahoo have finally consumated their on again romance, and like so many drawn out courtships, the moment of truth was a touch anti-climatic. Microsoft, unsurprisingly, gets the sweet end of the deal, with Yahoo bowing out of search and to handle advertising sales as Microsoft takes over search and data analysis for both companies, with the recently launched bing powering Yahoo searches from here on out. And while the deal moves Microsoft into the clear number two position in the  search industry, it’s a distant number two, in which the competition, whose name is synonymous with finding information online, has a stranglehold on 70% of the market.

In other words, Microsoft is right now in the best position it’s ever going to be in to challenge Google’s online search and advertising supremacy. But with the Chrome OS launching in just a few months on netbooks, Google is giving as good as it gets. And if this thing turns into a two front war for domination of operating system software and online technology, I’d put my money on the more nimble young ‘un from Santa Clara County.

And while Steve Ballmer and company might not be at the top of their game, they’re still faring better than the killer whales of the Puget Sound. Harassment by whale watching vessels looking to give tourists that perfect close up is hampering efforts to help the regions fragile orca population recover, so federal regulators are proposing doubling the distance that pleasure boats must stay away from the whales to 200 yards. Which is a nice thought, until you realize that the main problem seems to stem from ships that are not obeying the current guideline that aims to keep a 100 yard barrier between whales and whale watchers. With that in mind, it’s hard to see how doubling a barrier that no one is acknowledging helps preserve orca populations.

Shane Aggergaard, who heads the Pacific Whale Watch Association, a group of whale watch tour companies throughout Washington and British Columbia, may have demonstrated the attitude of tourism companies earlier today, when said in an interview with KUOW that “…we love to educate people regarding these animals so they can further protect them. It will be much more difficult to do that at 200 yards…” Again, this sounds good until you think about it – it’s more or less like arguing that we can’t outlaw shooting people in the face, because if we do, then how will people know that being shot in the face is a terrible, terrible thing?

And oh yeah, the anarchists are up in arms in the Evergreen State, as the anti-war organization Olympia Port Militarization Resistance accused a civilian employee of Washington’s Fort Lewis of COINTELPRO style shenanigans. The group, made up of members of groups like Students for a Democratic Society, Wobblies and self styled anarchists claim that a man going by the name John  Towery posed as an anarchist for two years, reporting back to military sources on the groups members and planned activities, such as staging port blockades.

And as these so called anarchists try to peacefully resist and do some good in the world, 38 year old Jeff Monson is keeping it real, doing all the things a good lone wolf anarchist should do. Like cage fighting. And spray painting anarchy symbols on the state capitol building. And then posing with the graffiti for ESPN The Magazine.

But hey, it could be weirder, I guess. I could live in Alabama, where they taser deaf people, don’t they?

And oh, yeah – Dave Reichert is an idiot and a jerk – more on that tomorrow.

The Pence Amendment trying to wrench federal funds away from the most important family planning organization in the nation has officially gone down in flames. Planned Parenthood will keep it’s federal funding. This makes John Boehner sad!

But it makes Planned Parenthood happy! And it makes Planned Parenthood supporters like yours truly happy! And since I’m kind of a mean spirited guy, John Boehner being sad also makes me happy! So happy, in fact, that I must now present a dance to express my happiness at this news!

Take it, Godzilla!

Despite referring to revelations of his years of dalliances as his funeral (a comparison that’s no end of creepy in it’s own right) Mark Sanford’s editorial in South Carolina newspaper The State ultimately reads like a document written by a guy who seems to think he still has a political career left after this.

It’s almost sad, you know?

And by sad, I of course mean really, really, funny.

You had a good run, Governor Sanford, and if things had turned out differently, you could have been a contender. Instead of a bum. Which is what you are.

It’s time to exit stage left, Mark -we have some lovely parting gifts for you, and someone will be around with your car shortly.

In the ballsiest act of political gamesmanship in recent memory, (outside of Illinois, anyway) the Tennessee State House elected junior state rep Kent Williams as their new Speaker of the House. Which wouldn’t be news, except that the chamber, which Republicans won in November when they gained a 50-49 seat majority, was expected to name state GOP vet Jason Mumpower to the office. Instead, the Democratic caucus, which voted first, cast all 49 of it’s votes for Williams. The state GOP than cast 49 votes for Mumpower, up until Williams final vote -which he cast for himself, becoming Speaker. And what did Williams say when asked about the perception that he was a turncoat, a Judas, and almost certainly a plethora of other unpleasant names for not voting for Mumpower?

“Things change.”
Some people are going to tell you that shenanigans like these are what’s wrong with politics, and by extension, the U.S. Don’t you believe ’em. This is America at it’s finest – backroom deals, mad grabs for power, and procedural hijacking of entire state governments, and with everyone involved wearing the sincerest smiles they’ve got. It simply doesn’t get any better than this.

And on the topic of game faces, a friend of mine recently mentioned this – a series of picture of kids playing video games, taken by British photographer Robbie Cooper using a ‘head on’ camera inspired by Errol Morris’ Interrotron. Once I knew it existed, I had to find it. And I had to find it. Once I did, I thought it was worth sharing. I think this is just what I look like playing Lego Star Wars, and that worries me terribly.