by Darryl, 08/31/2010, 5:39 PM

DLBottle

Mission Accomplished!

So stuff some socks down your flight suit and join us on the deck of the U.S.S. Drinking Liberally for an evening of political machismo under the influence. We’ll “bring it on” at the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue E. beginning at about 8:00 pm. Some of us will be there even earlier for dinner.


Not in Seattle? There is a good chance you live near one of the 242 other chapters of Drinking Liberally.

by Goldy, 08/31/2010, 4:00 PM

I’m guessing by the time ballots are cast this November, most voters will know that Initiative 1098 would raise taxes on households earning over $400,000 a year. But what most voters might not realize is that I-1098 will save the vast majority of us money, especially homeowners and small business owners.

For example, I’ll save $173.00 in the first year alone.

How do I know? Well, I ran my income and my annual property tax through the nifty I-1098 calculator created by the Economic Opportunity Institute… a calculator I’ve embedded below for your convenience below. Try it yourself and see how much money you’ll save.

by Goldy, 08/31/2010, 10:11 AM

It looks like I’m not the only one who fears that new anti-bullying policies might be abused by schools to squelch the free expression of their students, but I’m not sure I like the new company I’m keeping:

Focus on the Family has a message for gay rights activists: stay off the playground.

Candi Cushman, an education analyst for the James Dobson-founded group, told The Denver Post this weekend that gay rights advocates have inserted their agenda into anti-bullying efforts, at the expense of Christian values.

“We feel more and more that activists are being deceptive in using anti-bullying rhetoric to introduce their viewpoints, while the viewpoint of Christian students and parents are increasingly belittled,” Cushman told the Post.

Yeah, you know, especially if your viewpoint is that faggots deserve to have the shit beaten out ‘em.

Believe it or not, I was never much of a target for bullies. Oddly, I was one of the biggest kids in the class during my first couple years of elementary school, so nobody messed with me, and that reputation lingered much longer than my actual size advantage. And by Junior High I’d already developed the self-effacing yet acerbic wit that would shield me from physical violence for the rest of my school career. (There’s nothing to gain socially by punching out the guy who makes all the other kids laugh.)

Indeed, despite the fact that I played street hockey from age 7 to 27, and in a city whose notion of the sport was formed during the height of the Broad Street Bullies era, I don’t think anybody but my older sister ever landed a punch on me.

So I don’t come at this issue from the perspective of a victim.

But any former kid can tell you that the bulk of boy-on-boy verbal bullying consisted of questioning the victim’s masculinity, if not outright accusing him of being “a fag.” When I was a kid there was no more devastating playground taunt, which is surely one of the reasons why so many gay men of my and previous generations found it so difficult coming out.

That, looking back, some of the bullies were probably gay themselves, while most of the victims weren’t, only underlines the point that the playground was a brutal arena for both proving one’s manhood and rigidly reinforcing social prejudices. Playground bullying is all about asserting social dominance, and like in prison yards and dog parks, that involves making the victim your bitch.

So of course Focus on the Family wants gay activists to stay off the playground. Theirs is a movement grounded in bullying, and schoolyard bullies have always tried to kick the suspiciously faggy kids off the playground. That’s what bullies do.

And that’s a form of free expression I’m not sure school officials need to protect.

by Goldy, 08/31/2010, 9:04 AM

Dear SDOT,

Thank you, I guess, for doing whatever it is you’re doing at the corner of Rainier Ave. S. and MLK Jr. Way, but… um… how long does it take to pave 50 feet of roadway? It’s been nearly a month since you shut down the southbound right lane approaching the intersection, creating mile-long backups for much of the day, and with the summer doldrums ending, traffic is only gonna get worse.

Any chance of speeding things up a little bit? Local drivers, bus riders and businesses are just wondering.

Love,

South Seattle

by Goldy, 08/30/2010, 5:05 PM

All I’m sayin’ is that you won’t ever see a TPM or HA or even a Seattle PI delivery van involved in any high speed chases.

by Goldy, 08/30/2010, 10:55 AM

In writing about the muted local response to the fatwa against Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris, Crosscut writer Pete Jackson asks “Who will speak up for Seattle cartoonist under fatwa threat?

Um… I did, Pete. What, don’t you read HA? I even posted my own Mohammed cartoon in a show of support:

mohammed

And just to prove I’m an equal opportunity blasphemer, I also drew a cartoon of Jesus. And myself. And if Jackson really wants to speak up for Norris, he can post his own cartoon too. (As you can see, cartooning doesn’t really require any, you know, talent.)

Instead Jackson embarks on a deep exploration of our “muzzled political climate” by quoting fellow Crosscutter Knute Berger:

The low-grade indifference to Norris could be a pained expression of Northwest culture, the dark side of Seattle Nice (and just look at how the debate over the Ground Zero Mosque dissolved into ad hominems).

“ ’If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,’ has long been the city’s unofficial motto,” writes Knute Berger in his book Pugetopolis. “It is not a plea for civil discussion, but rather a recipe for no discussion at all.”

In other words, it’s a recipe for the Seattle Times. And sometimes, it seems, Crosscut. Meanwhile, HA’s unofficial motto is: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, welcome to our comment threads!” And while that can sometimes make for awfully nasty discourse, at least folks here are willing to stand up for what they believe, and stand by their convictions.

by Goldy, 08/30/2010, 9:42 AM

Back in my 710-KIRO radio days (widely remembered as the glory days of Seattle news/talk), one of my favorite schticks was to have Gen. JC Christian (a.k.a. Jesus’ General) on the show, and then wait for the inevitable barrage of bewildered and often offended callers. The General never broke character, and I always played it straight, but while most of the audience seemed to get the joke, it always amused me how many didn’t.

I was reminded of that this morning while listening to the recording above of a telephone conversation between the General and Prince Shannon of the Right Wing Extreme Militia. Very funny. And kinda terrifying.

by Lee, 08/30/2010, 7:08 AM

Today’s news from The Onion:

“All Muslims are at war with America, and I will resist any attempt to challenge that assertion with potentially illuminating facts,” said Gentries, who threatened to leave the room if presented with the number of Muslims who live peacefully in the United States, serve in the country’s armed forces, or were victims themselves of the 9/11 attacks. “Period.”

by Lee, 08/29/2010, 12:00 PM

Last week’s contest was won by wes.in.wa. It was the Islamic Center in Temecula, CA, whose leaders have run into some opposition with their desire simply to move the location of their center.

Here’s this week’s, good luck!

by Goldy, 08/29/2010, 9:32 AM

Exodus 32:24-29
Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is for the LORD, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him.

Then he said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’ ” The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the LORD today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.”

Discuss.

by Goldy, 08/28/2010, 7:56 AM

If the Transportation Safety Administration is willing to go so far as to irradiate small children, then clearly, anything that can be done must be done, no matter how expensive, inconvenient or even uncomfortable, to eliminate even the remotest possibility of a terrorist threat. It is in this spirit that I draw upon my own inner terrorist to highlight flaws in our current air travel security system, so that TSA can endeavor to make air travel as absolutely risk-free as possible.

TSA Tip #2: Eliminate Duty Free

While regulations prohibit carrying on duty free spirits in excess of 70% alcohol, there is no such limit on perfumes and colognes, some of which exceed 90% alcohol, and are thus highly flammable. Strategically ignited in one or more locations on an airplane, alcohol fueled fires could cause significant damage and/or injury before being extinguished by the flight crew; indeed, igniting one or more flight attendants might be particularly effective. Jagged, broken bottles from duty free liquor purchases might also make effective weapons in fighting off flight crew and passengers as the fires burn.

Such an attack might not necessarily bring down an airplane, but if the goal is to cause terror, bringing down an airplane might not be necessary.

PREVIOUS TSA TIPS:
Eliminate Web Check-in

by Darryl, 08/27/2010, 11:52 PM

(And there are over fifty more links to media from the past week in politics posted at Hominid Views.)

by Goldy, 08/27/2010, 8:41 PM

If anybody holds the patent on being a greedy, self-aggrandizing asshole, they should sue Paul Allen.

by Goldy, 08/27/2010, 3:01 PM

Talk amongst yourselves.

by Goldy, 08/27/2010, 9:24 AM

The Seattle Times headline reads “1996 UW grad named to oversee Pike Place Market,” which begs the question: what is so headline worthy about the fact that newly named Market executive direct Ben Franz-Knight is a 1996 University of Washington graduate?

Was 1996 a particularly good or bad year for the UW, or is it so surprising that a UW grad would ascend to such a position? Are UW grads rare around here, or do its graduates rarely achieve such a level of success by their mid-30′s?

Or does the Times believe its readers so parochial that this was the only thing on Franz-Knight’s resume that they would find relevant?

Odd.

(And in case you’re wondering, had I written the headline, it probably would have read something like: “Pike Place Market names new executive director.” Simple, to the point, and more actively phrased.)

by Goldy, 08/27/2010, 8:44 AM

If, as Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna complains, payouts for settle lawsuits against the state have grown substantially in recent years, rather than making it harder for citizens to sue the state, perhaps taxpayers might just want to go out and hire themselves a better lawyer?

I’m just sayin’.

by Lee, 08/27/2010, 7:26 AM
by Lee, 08/26/2010, 2:42 PM

I’ve recently started reading Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose, a book that I’ve long wanted to read, but never got around to until now. Friedman has been a fascinating figure to me because he’s someone who was far ahead of his time in understanding the futility of the drug war, yet is also someone whose libertarianism is associated with fascist views. I’ve always wanted to know how much of what we think of Milton Friedman is based upon the things he actually advocated, how much is based on people’s misunderstandings of the things he actually advocated, and how much is based upon what’s happened in American society and our economy since he wrote it.

I’m only through the first 4 chapters, so I’m not quite ready to tackle that entire subject yet, but there were two things this week that compounded my thinking on this subject. First was the intense back and forth at Balloon Juice between E.D. Kain and John Cole. As someone who sits somewhere inbetween the liberal and libertarian poles of thinking, I’ve been incredibly impressed with Kain’s ability to balance the two. I’ve long believed that this is where the real debates need to happen, but that far too often libertarians fall back on overly simplified mantras rather than engaging on the merits. Kain didn’t do that, and in turn, some of the commenters (but not all) chose to fall back on overly simplified mantras about libertarians rather than engaging on the merits of the argument he made.

The second item that got me thinking about Milton Friedman and his influence was this post from Stefan Sharkansky about Mayor McGinn’s jobs plan, which perfectly illustrates what I’m talking about when I use the term “overly simplified mantras”:

So. We’ll let city bureaucrats who have no experience creating jobs in the private sector pick and choose the entrepreneurs whom they feel can (1) do the best job of creating jobs in the private sector, or (2) be the most attractive recipients of patronage. That’s destined to turn out well.

Maybe instead of raising taxes on the private sector so inexperienced bureaucrats can destroy even more wealth in the private sector, we just let private enterprises use their own resources to make their own purchasing, investment and hiring decisions?

Nah.

This is a common sentiment among libertarians; that government “bureaucrats” are like a black hole for public funds meant to boost employment, and that in order to really boost employment, only someone from corporate America can be trusted with such a complex task. Reading through Free to Choose, it’s easy to pick out the passages that lead to this belief, but Sharkansky takes this to an absurd extreme that I’m not even sure Friedman would go along with.

On top of that, Sharkansky doesn’t even seem to understand what he’s arguing against. Here’s a section of the Times article he didn’t excerpt:

The plan didn’t include many new announcements. Much of the money involved is federal stimulus funds applied for under the previous administration. But it teams up the mayor with the business community after an uneasy eight months and puts on paper a collection of things the city can do even in a difficult economy.

George Allen, lobbyist for the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, said the plan plays off the mayor’s strength — bringing together a diverse group of people and ideas — and will make a true difference in recovering local jobs.

The idea that McGinn isn’t working with the private sector on this is completely baseless. Not to mention that the largest chunk of the money is going to small businesses in the forms of loans and tax breaks, so that they can make their own choices about how to manage that money. You could potentially argue that one of the particular beneficiaries listed in the article is unworthy of assistance because the work they do isn’t going to benefit us in the long run, but Sharkansky is too lazy to do that. Instead, he just repeats a tired old stereotype about government bureaucrats and pretends he’s made some kind of argument. He hasn’t.

I don’t dispute that there are differences between public and private institutions. Each have their own strengths and weaknesses. But how bureaucratic an institution becomes has more to do with its size, rather than whether it exists to serve the public, serve shareholders, or serve itself. There are public institutions that are nimble and serve the public well, and there are private companies that are unbelievably bureaucratic (I’ve worked for several). The key to encouraging job growth tends to be about boosting small-scale entrepreneurship, which much of McGinn’s plan seems focused on. The real tragedy of Sharkansky’s brand of “glibertarianism” is that it often does the exact opposite of that, through giveaways to large scale private institutions that do little to create American jobs or move our economy forward. What I remain unclear about still is whether or not idiocy like this is the logical extension of Friedman’s philosophy, or if this is a bastardization that ignores a significant amount of nuance. At this point, I still think it’s the latter, but it’s a topic I’m hoping to explore in some upcoming posts.

by Goldy, 08/26/2010, 11:40 AM

At first glance it seems odd that an attorney general so lavishly praised by doe-eyed editorialists for allegedly championing open government would take the lead in removing one of our most powerful tools for assuring government accountability. But when you think about it, it all kinda makes sense.

In a guest column in yesterday’s Seattle Times, Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna proposes that one way to close our state’s multi-billion dollar budget gap would be to make it harder for citizens to sue the state, but in a single paragraph McKenna not only lays out the crux of his argument, he also lets slip his true motivation:

Washington is in a class by itself — wide open to lawsuits with huge payouts. Suits demanding outrageous sums have become commonplace over the past few decades. Payouts have grown from $241,000 in the 1963-65 budget to more than $100 million during the last — and trial attorneys collect $30 million of that before sending the rest to those who have suffered.

It’s those damn trial attorneys who are bankrupting our government! If we could only get rid of them, and the public employee unions, our budgets would shrink, our taxes would fall, and Washington State would become a veritable paradise! … At least, according to Rob McKenna.

And what do trial attorneys and organized labor have in common? They both predominantly fund Democrats, of course, and in fact together comprise one of the largest chunks of the Democratic funding machine.

In other words, McKenna’s advocacy for shielding state government from citizen lawsuits is largely partisan:

Why are our state laws so much more permissive than every other state’s liability rules? The uncomfortable truth is that personal-injury lawyers are among the wealthiest and most powerful interest groups, and they vigorously oppose attempts to end Washington’s outlier status.

According to the Liability Reform Coalition, political-action committees run by trial attorneys contributed more than $1.4 million in the 2008 statewide election cycle. Trial lawyers chipped in millions more in individual contributions. That helps explain why during nearly every legislative session, legislators vote on bills that would actually increase, not reduce, taxpayers’ liability; 2010 was no exception.

Hear that? A PAC run by trial attorneys spent more than $1.4 million during the 2008 cycle. Heaven forfend!

Um… but… the Building Industry Association of Washington and its associated organizations spent, what… $13 million that year, in the gubernatorial race alone? I don’t hear McKenna complaining about that, and yet year after year the BIAW successfully blocks legislation that would permit homeowners from suing builders for shoddy construction.

(Sigh.)

Despite McKenna’s unsupported claims, Washington is not “in a class by itself,” nor are our state laws “more permissive than every other state’s liability laws.” Yeah, maybe we do pay out “eight times more than Tennessee, five times more than Arizona,” I dunno… but would we really want to be just like Tennessee or Arizona? And while Washington’s government does not claim “sovereign immunity” as McKenna advocates, unlike many other states, Washington does not allow for punitive damages in claims against the state.

Oops. I guess McKenna forgot to share that with his readers.

And his selective citation of facts doesn’t stop there, for McKenna stoops to perhaps the lowest form of political persuasion, the out of context anecdote:

The state is sued even when it follows all the rules. For example, a woman is convicted of forging a $13 check. She’s released after serving her sentence and carefully supervised by the Department of Corrections. But when she causes a fatal car accident, the state is sued and ultimately forced to settle the case for $300,000. While our hearts go out to the family who lost their loved one, the check forger caused the accident. State employees followed proper procedures. Yet lawsuits like these persist.

First of all, that’s just one successful lawsuit out of many, most of which do clearly address acts of negligence or malfeasance on the part of the state. And second of all, McKenna intentionally misrepresents the facts in even this particular case. Yes, the woman in question had merely been convicted of forging a $13 check, but she had a long criminal record including drug charges, missed court appearances and at least four DUI arrests:

Enoch-Jevne had received suspended sentences for four of her DUI convictions. In May of 1999, she was arrested on drug charges in Grant County. A judge revoked a previous sentence and ordered that she be held through December of that year. Instead, city and county officials failed to review court records and released Enoch-Jevne in October.

Upon her early release Enoch-Jevne failed to report to her state corrections officer as required, and even though the state had classified her as a danger to the public, and knew that she was violating the terms of her supervision, it made no effort to arrest her. Two months later, at a time when, by a judge’s order, she should have been locked up at the King County Regional Justice Center, she killed a man in a collision in which, yes, she was once again suspected of being under the influence of alcohol.

Was government negligence partially to blame for this tragedy? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s clearly not the absurdly abusive case that McKenna makes it out to be.

Of course there are abusive lawsuits, and I’m not expert enough to argue that there aren’t reasonable reforms to be made that might shield against the worst of these abuses. But to grant the state blanket immunity against most of these suits as a money-saving gimmick is not only unfair to the legitimate victims, it is unserious and shortsighted. For it is through lawsuits like these that the worst abuses of government mismanagement, malfeasance and negligence are revealed, and ultimately reformed. McKenna can tout his support of sunshine laws all he wants, but the courts have always provided the public its most effective tool in keeping our government accountable to the public.

And that’s what we would lose should McKenna prevail.

by Goldy, 08/26/2010, 8:57 AM