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Monthly Archives: April 2012

President Obama returning to the Evergreen State for more fundraising events

Last week, the White House let it be known that President Barack Obama would be once again paying a visit to the Real Washington a few days into May. Details of the planned trip were not released at the time, but all of the President’s recent trips here have been almost exclusively for fundraising, so it seemed plausible (and still does) that that would be the purpose of this trip as well.

Today, Obama/Biden 2012 campaign finalized the main fundraising event – a luncheon plus a concert at the Paramount in downtown Seattle – and began sending out invitations to past donors and local supporters.

The event will feature the Dave Matthews Band, and will begin at noon on Thursday, May 10th. Tickets to the event start at $100 for general admission.

Lunch costs ten times that amount ($1,000), and access to the photo reception beforehand costs fifty times that amount ($5,000).

Young Obama supporters with money to spare, however, can buy lunch for $500 or premium theater seating for $250 (these are known as “Generation44″ rates).

A separate event for even wealthier donors is also undoubtedly being planned.

Past such events have been held in Madrona and Medina at the homes of Rob Glaser (founder of RealNetworks), Jon Shirley (former president of Microsoft) and Jeff Brotman (cofounder of Costco Wholesale).

No official events, whether open to the public or not, have been announced.

If history is any indication, the President’s stop here will be brief, and won’t involve an overnight stay. As in the past, he will likely arrive and depart from Boeing Field, as he has on all of his other visits (except the most recent one back in February, when he flew in and out of Paine Field in Everett).

Obama has made four previous visits to Washington as president: two in 2010, one last year, and one just a couple of months ago. He also visited Washington in 2008 when he was a candidate for president.

Rick Santorum ends presidential campaign

A week after failing to defeat Mitt Romney in Wisconsin’s Republican primary – portrayed by the traditional media as a make-it or break-it moment for his candidacy – Rick Santorum announced at a press conference in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, that he was ending his presidential campaign.

He did not endorse Mitt Romney, who now appears to be a lock for the Republican nomination, nor did he indicate whether he would release delegates already pledged to him. Instead, he kept his remarks focused on his gratitude for his family and his supporters, who he credited with helping keep his campaign alive.

In a message posted to his website, Santorum stuck to the same theme.

“Today I announced that I am suspending my campaign for the President of the United States. This has been one of the hardest decisions Karen and I have ever had to face together,” he wrote. “And it has been hard in large measure because of you. I know that my candidacy has offered you a way to fight for your convictions, and I do not want to let you down.”

However, Santorum did indicate (briefly) that his campaign team had recently come to the conclusion that Mitt Romney’s delegate lead was insurmountable.

“Our good friends in Texas have been working non-stop to make sure that they have a say in the choice of our nominee, but without the state changing its delegate allocation to winner-take-all, I do not see a path forward that does not risk our shared objective of defeating Barack Obama in November.”

To be competitive with Romney going forward, Santorum would have needed more than just a win in Pennsylvania and a win (plus a rules change) in Texas. He would have needed to find a way to convince voters in regions of the country where he has done pretty poorly to back his candidacy.

(Delegate-rich states on the coasts like New York and California have not yet weighed in and were expected to be pro-Romney).

Ironically, Rick Santorum’s other rival, Newt Gingrich, continues to say that he is staying in the race. Gingrich has won just two states so far – his home state of Georgia and its northern neighbor, South Carolina – but in other states, he has effectively helped propel Mitt Romney to victory by splitting the conservative vote.

Had Gingrich left the race after New Hampshire, or even after Super Tuesday, Santorum might have been a position to keep going, at least for a while longer. Santorum probably could have captured South Carolina and Georgia had Gingrich called it quits in advance of those states’ primaries.

It’s also possible Santorum could have won in Alaska, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin had Gingrich allowed he and Romney to battle it out alone.

Conservative activists reacted to Santorum’s announcement with dismay. On FreeRepublic, a popular conservative message board, posters expressed strong anti-Romney sentiment. Here’s a sampling of some of the comments.

I’ve seen 3 freepers who I have hardly seen in one minute post unite behind Romney lets beat Obama

The Romney bots have been waiting for some time to get on here and tell us to unite and they will use the usual crap of us hating Obama and we have to unite to beat him.

All of his paid staffers will be here soon you watch.

Oh well, time for me to start looking for a different political party. Still not voting for Romney.

—  kreitzer

I hope he does not endorse Romney…..

sheikdetailfeather

The Tea Party/Independents need to field a presidential candidate this fall because I hope the GOP/Romneyites lose this election.

upsdriver

This particular comment, left by a disgruntled Gingrich supporter, was my favorite:

well… Santorum succeeded in clearing the way for Mittens *sigh*

now that his job is done, time to quit.

I hope everyone that supported Santorum is happy with the result!

If you had just gotten behind Gingrich, we could of had a REAL conservative as our nominee.

TexasFreeper2009

Yeah, that’s right. If only conservative activists had coalesced around Newt Gingrich – the epitome of family values – Mitt Romney would be the one out of the race by now! You tell ‘em, Texas Freeper! Tell ‘em how wrong they were!

Santorum’s rivals, of course, had a very different reaction to the news. On Twitter, Mitt Romney briefly saluted Santorum, saying, “Senator Santorum is an able and worthy competitor, and I congratulate him on the campaign he ran.”

Meanwhile, Ron Paul’s national campaign chairman, Jesse Benton, released a brief statement urging Santorum supporters to coalesce around Paul’s candidacy. “Congratulations to Senator Santorum on running such a spirited campaign. Dr. Paul is now the last – and real – conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. We plan to continue running hard, secure delegates, and press the fight for limited, constitutional government in Tampa,” said Benton.

Gingrich also wasted no time in making a play for Santorum’s supporters.

“I am committed to staying in this race all the way to Tampa so that the conservative movement has a real choice,” Gingrich announced in a statement. “I humbly ask Senator Santorum’s supporters to visit Newt dot org to review my conservative record and join us as we bring these values to Tampa. We know well that only a conservative can protect life, defend the Constitution, restore jobs and growth and return to a balanced budget.”

Considering that Paul has won no states and that Gingrich has won only two, the likelihood of either of them being able to prevent Mitt Romney from sewing up the Republican presidential nomination in advance of the national convention in Tampa seems remote. They can continue campaigning if they want.

Romney, of course, won’t regard either of them as a serious threat. Neither will the traditional media, Beltway pundits, or the Republican establishment.

Supreme Court says police can strip-search anyone they arrest without probable cause

Federal, state, and local authorities may force any person they arrest to submit to a strip-search, whether or not there is probable cause for such an invasion of a suspect’s privacy, the Supreme Court ruled this morning, setting a dangerous and unwelcome precedent that NPI strongly condemns.

In a five-to-four decision, Justices Anthony Kennedy, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas – collectively, the court’s conservative wing – declared that it’s okay for police to require any person they detain to undergo a “close visual inspection while undressed” (in other words, a strip-search).

Justice Breyer filed a strongly worded dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan. (Together, they comprise the court’s liberal wing).

“A strip search that involves a stranger peering without consent at a naked individual, and in particular at the most private portions of that person’s body, is a serious invasion of privacy,” Breyer wrote. “We have recently said, in respect to a schoolchild (and a less intrusive search), that the ‘meaning of such a search, and the degradation its subject may reasonably feel, place a search that intrusive in a category of its own demanding its own specific suspicions.’”

“Even when carried out in a respectful manner, and even absent any physical touching, such searches are inherently harmful, humiliating, and degrading,” Breyer added later in his opinion. “And the harm to privacy interests would seem particularly acute where the person searched may well have no expectation of being subject to such a search, say, because she had simply received a traffic ticket for failing to buckle a seatbelt, because he had not previously paid a civil fine, or because she had been arrested for a minor trespass.”

Breyer’s dissent goes on to completely destroy the the flimsy rationale Anthony Kennedy used to prop up the majority’s decision. He notes that neither the Supreme Court’s conservative majority nor the respondents in the case (who were sued by the plaintiff for violating his Fourth Amendment rights) have cited any examples where reasonable suspicion requirements for strip-searches have interfered with preserving order inside prisons, or preventing contraband from being smuggled into prisons. Breyer further notes that at least ten states have actually codified restrictions on strip-searches into law… including Washington.

The relevant RCW is 10.79.130:

Strip, body cavity searches — Warrant required — Exceptions.

(1) No person to whom this section is made applicable by RCW 10.79.120 may be strip searched without a warrant unless:

(a) There is a reasonable suspicion to believe that a strip search is necessary to discover weapons, criminal evidence, contraband, or other thing concealed on the body of the person to be searched, that constitutes a threat to the security of a holding, detention, or local correctional facility;

(b) There is probable cause to believe that a strip search is necessary to discover other criminal evidence concealed on the body of the person to be searched, but not constituting a threat to facility security; or

(c) There is a reasonable suspicion to believe that a strip search is necessary to discover a health condition requiring immediate medical attention.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1) of this section, a reasonable suspicion is deemed to be present when the person to be searched has been arrested for:

(a) A violent offense as defined in RCW 9.94A.030 or any successor statute;

(b) An offense involving escape, burglary, or the use of a deadly weapon; or

(c) An offense involving possession of a drug or controlled substance under chapter 69.41, 69.50, or 69.52 RCW or any successor statute.

[1986 c 88 § 2.]

Breyer concluded: “I have found no convincing reason indicating that, in the absence of reasonable suspicion, involuntary strip searches of those arrested for minor offenses are necessary in order to further the penal interests. And there are strong reasons to believe they are not justified.”

The American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement criticizing the decision.

“Today’s decision jeopardizes the privacy rights of millions of people who are arrested each year and brought to jail, often for minor offenses,” said Steven R. Shapiro, legal director of the ACLU.

“Being forced to strip naked is a humiliating experience that no one should have to endure absent reasonable suspicion. Jail security is important, but it does not require routinely strip searching everyone who is arrested for any reason, including traffic violations, and who may be in jail for only a few hours. ”

We concur. Allowing the police to strip-search anyone they have arrested, without reasonable suspicion or probable cause, is not constitutional. The Fourth Amendment, reproduced below, is hardly ambiguous.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons… against unreasonable searches and seizures… shall not be violated. The people of this nation cannot be secure in their persons if they can be arrested on some pretext and then strip-searched without a warrant, or without even justification of any sort.

That’s what happened to Albert Florence, the plaintiff in this case. And unfortunately, thanks to this ruling, that’s what is going to continue to happen all over the country. The Supreme Court could have put a stop to such egregious civil liberties violations, but instead, they have given police forces all over the country the okay to strip search anybody they arrest. Including protesters. It doesn’t take much imagination to envision such power being abused.

Fortunately, Washington has a law explicitly forbidding suspicionless strip-searches, which state and local police are be bound by. Our state law doesn’t seem to be affected by today’s decision, since the court’s opinion concerns only whether suspicionless strip-searches of arrested individuals violates the Fourth Amendment. While that is comforting, we nonetheless believe this decision could have far-reaching consequences. It isn’t merely a bad decision, it is a dangerous decision. If it cannot be overturned in the near future, we hope it can at least be mitigated.