Open Thread

- Does Meet The Press have any standards for who they’ll have on as a guest? No? Cool.

Assuming you are not performing in a film or play in which re-creating the late 19th or early 20th Centuries involves the realistic depiction of a minstrel show, it is not complicated to determine whether or not donning blackface is a good idea. For anyone who might be confused I have assembled a handy flowchart.

– Oh hey, Democratic foreign policy is actually decent.

– The news around the Wyatt Cenac interview on WTF reminds me of the issues Lauren Weedman had on the show. No matter what you think of the show itself, these sort of things are a pattern, and not a good one.

– When George W. Bush tried to use his narrow victory in 2004 to claim a mandate to privatize Social Security, it didn’t really take. In large part because it was a terrible idea, but also because he didn’t campaign on it, so the whole mandate thing wasn’t really there. So I can sort of see why Jeb is running on phasing out Medicare now, so maybe he will have a mandate to do it. But it’s still a really terrible idea.

HA Bible Study: Exodus 32:27-29

Exodus 32:27-29
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.”

Exodus 20:13
Thou shalt not kill.


Civil Liberties Roundup

At the beginning of July, I was out east visiting relatives and friends and took a break from the roundup. A few days before leaving, I was at Town Hall to see author Max Blumenthal speak about the latest war in Gaza. The next day, his latest book “51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza” was released and downloaded to my Kindle. The day after that, I had a 4.5 hour flight to start reading it.

Blumenthal’s book is maddening and depressing, but ultimately not all that surprising. Even following traditional news sources, the devastation and cruelty of that war was clear, and the hopelessness of the aftermath all too predictable. Civilians were deliberately targeted, even children. Entire apartment buildings were destroyed. Hospitals were blown up. Critical infrastructure left in ruins. And with promises for future retaliation, there’s little desire for the world to rebuild things that Israel will just blow up again in a few years.

The cynicism behind this military approach is clear, as Blumenthal writes in Alternet:

Behind the quasi-apocalyptic destruction exacted on Gaza by the Israeli military during Operation Protective Edge lies a sadistic strategy whose aim is to punish residents of the besieged coastal enclave into submission. The “Dahiya Doctrine,” named after a southern Beirut neighborhood the Israeli air force decimated in 2006, is focused on punishing the civilian populations of Gaza and southern Lebanon for supporting armed resistance movements like Hamas and Hezbollah. In “Disproportionate Force,” a 2008 paper published by the Institute for National Security Studies, a think tank closely linked to the Israeli military, Colonel Gabi Siboni spelled out its punitive, civilian-oriented logic clearly: “With an outbreak of hostilities, the [Israeli army] will need to act immediately, decisively, and with force that is disproportionate to the enemy’s actions and the threat it poses. Such a response aims at inflicting damage and meting out punishment to an extent that will demand long and expensive reconstruction processes.”

The level of death and destruction in this war was not an unavoidable aspect of urban warfare. It was a deliberate strategy of intimidation and terror. It was meant as a way to convince the population of Gaza to turn against its armed factions and stop resisting the occupation.

But this strategy is pure lunacy. Human beings don’t respond to having their homes blown up and their loved ones killed by agreeing to pledge their loyalty and respect to those dropping the bombs. It only solidifies the resistance behind the most radical elements of the resistance, and making compromises and mutual respect even more impossible. As a result, Gaza has transformed from a place where Hamas once challenged the Palestinian authority to be more militant into a place where Islamic State supporters now challenge Hamas to be more militant. It’s a strategy that continually backfires, but Israelis can no longer conjure up any alternatives.

Political outlooks tend to be defined by our fears. Progressives fear entrenched power limiting opportunity and progress. Conservatives fear societal change. Libertarians fear government abuses. Authoritarians fear criminality. Within different societies there can be differing levels of validity for each of these fears. But as long as the fears are rational, a democratic political process can arrive at a sensible compromise.

What’s broken in Israel is that their outlook is now dominated by fears that are largely irrational, and in a country where migrations to and from the rest of the world are common, it’s becoming self-reinforcing through those migrations. One of the striking things in Blumenthal’s recent work is how hostile Israeli society has become for those on the political left. Many are simply leaving. As Israel’s approach to the occupied territories becomes more extreme, its ability to moderate itself in a democratic process is slowly being washed away, not too differently than what happens in Gaza after weeks of bombing. The main difference is that in Gaza, the fears that work against political moderation are far more real.

In the aftermath of the nuclear agreement between the U.S. and Iran, the irrational fears that consume Israeli politics are being put on full display. Matthew Duss, one of the sharpest analysts on Israel and its place in the Middle East, explains it really well in this piece. Israel equates anti-semitic remarks by Iran’s theocratic rulers with a desire to use military force to destroy the entire state of Israel. That’s a huge logical leap, and entirely absurd. To demonstrate how crazy it is, he points out that Richard Nixon also once made a bunch of anti-semitic remarks, but had absolutely no desire to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.

But this has also historically been the mindset in Israel when it comes to the Palestinian population and their desire for self-determination. We’ve always been told that the real goal of the PLO, and then of Hamas, is not mere self-rule, but to destroy the state of Israel. And they’ve always been able to point to instances of anti-semitism and other extreme rhetoric to make this claim. To some extent, the history of the Holocaust makes these fears seem more rational, but they’re not. The next Holocaust isn’t around the corner, and neither the Palestinians nor the Iranians have any ability to threaten the existence of Israel, nor do the vast majority of people in those places want that to happen.

This is what drives the largely incoherent opposition to the Iran agreement and the completely devastating military approach in Gaza. It’s an irrational fear of democratic rule and self-determination throughout the Middle East and it goes well beyond Iran and Gaza. It also stifles democratic progress in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and it played a role in our disastrous invasion of Iraq. Obama deserves a lot of credit for getting this agreement done, but it’s only a small step towards where we need to be.

As an American Jew, it’s hard to come to the realization that our blindness to the Israeli leadership’s irrational fears is so central to the various crises in the Middle East, but that’s where I find myself today. Yet no one has become a bigger lightning rod over this conflict than Blumenthal. The Amazon reviews for his book are amazing to read through, nearly all either 5 or 1 star. But the perspective he’s providing is a necessary counterpoint to Israel’s increasingly authoritarian mindset in much the same way that the Black Lives Matter movement has been a necessary counterpoint to America’s authoritarian police culture. I don’t know what works best to fix a society that has seemingly gone off the rails, but telling hard truths and not backing down is a good place to start.

In the news from the last two weeks…
[Read more…]

Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Mental Floss: 25 lost cities.

Thom: FAUX News caught lying again.

Sam Seder: Will independent redistricting efforts help Democrats?

The 2016 Clown Procession:

Minute Physics with Neil deGrasse Tyson: A brief history of everything:

Young Turks: Conservatives are turning their back on the Pope (i.e. God’s spokesperson).

Thom: Obama goes to prison.

First World hell.

Fetal Attraction:

Sam Seder: Court rules “gay conversion therapy” is fraud.

Richard Fowler: Republicans are not cured of homophobia yet.

Airway Height, Washington mayor and other racist scum:

White House: Our Blue Marble:

Cuban flag raised at U.S. State Department.

In defense of puns.

Frackin’ Fracking:

NYC investment bankers urinating in the streets.

Thom: The Good, the Bad, and the Very, Very Incrassately Ugly!

David Pakman: President Obama has been one of most effective Presidents in modern history.

José Díaz-Balart: Uber Vs taxi battle goes global.

The Politics of Persian Power:

Mental Floss: Why does your nose get runny when it is cold.

Last week’s Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza can be found here.

Plan B


In a big win for our right to have some semblance of control over our bodies, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that pharmacies must fill prescriptions even if the prescription is for Plan B.

The case was brought to the Ninth after several pharmacists in the state complained that doling out Plan B – which is, I guess you have to say, 100% not an abortifacient but rather a preventative medication – went against their religious beliefs and refused to do their fucking jobs and hand over the medication.

I’m not attorney, but this has seemed pretty obvious from the beginning. Congrats to the activists, attorneys, and elected officials, who made it happen. Hopefully there won’t be an appeal.

PS: no matter what, the Olympia Thriftway is gross. They could have done the decent thing and let people have emergency contraception at any damn point.


- You’re White and Marched With Dr. King: So What?

Still, maybe that’s all just a big coincidence. Isn’t it always.

I suggest we name this planet “Pluto”, both to celebrate the great work by the New Horizons team, and to make the stupid “Is Pluto a planet” debate a little more confusing

If you’re like me and still haven’t finished filling out your primary ballot, here are some more endorsements:

– Here’s Washington Conservation Voters

– And here’s Seattle Transit Blog (I disagree with a lot more of these than I usually do for endorsements I’m linking to, but OK)

Breastfeeding Mothers Are Definitely The Ones Overreacting

Radio has fallen so much, I don’t even know who Jason Rantz is. I guess he has a show on KIRO. Anyway, here is him talking about breastfeeding, for, um, reasons. [h/t]

You are supposed to feel bad if a mom breastfeeding in public makes you a little uncomfortable.

Are you supposed to feel anything? Just, maybe, act like an adult. Problem solved.

It’s an issue that the feminist cause has taken up over the last few years and there’s some validity to their points, but they’re so militant in response to anyone who dare question what they’re doing.

You’re the one writing a 20 paragraph piece.

Case in point: A mom, Lydia Davis, in Spokane is outraged that some employee at a public pool told her to breast feed her child in the bathroom.

It’s tough to look at that sentence and say it probably needs more commas, but it does. After “Spokane.” Maybe it needs to be 2 or 3 sentences. Maybe find something else to write this column on because right now it’s kind of just Rantz being an asshole to new moms feeding their infants.

Now, it is legal to breast feed in public in Washington. It’s state law. But this employee obviously didn’t know. But we’ll treat it like some affront to womanhood.

Really? That sounds harsh. I hope the thing you’re going to quote doesn’t just talk about feeding a child and not being ashamed. And definitely says an affront to womanhood. Otherwise, it’s pretty pointless.

“I’m not ashamed of breast-feeding,” she told the Spokesman Review. “I don’t ever want anybody to be ashamed to feed their child if the child is hungry. We’re at a public pool where people have bikinis on. How is me breast-feeding any worse than people wandering around in a bikini?”

The link to the S-R’s website instead of the article left in because it amuses me. Here’s the link to the actual article. Anyway, does the quote continue to the affront to womanhood? No? back to Rantz?

Well, the difference is a bikini covers up a sexualized body part.

Jesus. Did KIRO give a radio spot to a not very mature 13 year old? Look l’il man, soon you’ll be able to put those feelings in more of a context. Until then, good luck with the radio show.

We get it, you have no shame. You don’t want to feel ashamed, but you’re doing it in public because you want attention; because you know something like this gets you attention and you absolutely love it.

If a mother with a baby that’s crying because it’s hungry wants attention, doing nothing is probably the way to go. Keep that baby crying and I’m sure many more people will stop and look than if she feeds it. Honestly.

Because that’s what this is about.

Also, not for nothing, but if you’re so dead set against giving breastfeeding mothers any attention, maybe don’t write 560 words and — I’m assuming — do a radio commentary on it. I mean there’s a primary election coming up. The legislature just adjourned recently, maybe for the year, maybe not if the Supreme Court says they have to deal with education funding.

Many of these moms are breastfeeding in public not because they have to — not because they have no alternatives or no other place to go — but because you want to make some feminist point.


And this is a clear case of that to me, because this mom immediately complained to the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department and they immediately apologized and said they would provide extra training for the pool’s staff.

So her complaining helped fix a problem. Unlike this post where the complaining is just for the sake of complaining.

The mom was apparently pleased by the response. In fact, the staff did end up getting the extra training.


But this mom — and other mommy activists — decided to hold a “nurse-in” on Friday at the pool. So despite getting an apology and being pleased with the reaction from city officials, Lydia Davis held a protest with her friends.

Well, as mentioned earlier, not everybody knows state law in this area. So a little education seems fine. More people will know it’s the law now. If you don’t want to be a part of it, you don’t have to.

Apparently about a dozen moms and their kids showed up to breast feed in public.

Lila McDermid learned about the event on Facebook and brought her children down, according to the Spokesman Review.

“I just never want to lose my right to feed my child anytime and anywhere I need to,” she said.

But she didn’t need to go to this pool to breastfeed. She chose to, like all these women, because they’re trying to push against ideas of etiquette.

The ideas of etiquette? You’re trying to push women into public bathrooms to feed their children. Seriously, public bathrooms. Because of etiquette?

There’s a big difference between breastfeeding in public because you have to (there are no reasonable, private accommodations) and because you want to; because you don’t care how uncomfortable it makes people feel.

I don’t care how uncomfortable 13 year old Jason Rantz is. Nobody does. Nobody should. There’s a crying, hungry baby.

McDermid told the paper: “Society has sexualized women’s bodies so that breast-feeding is seen as sexual when it’s not…”

I’m awful at punctuation, and this is the second — then quickly third for comic effect — time I’m making fun of this piece with regard to it, so I’m sure there’s some glaring typo of mine in this post. Nonetheless:

This is a major fuck up. The thing he’s quoting isn’t McDermid. It’s the Spokesman-Review characterizing her position. It seems accurate given the rest of the quotes, but it’s not a quote by her. Even though he just graduated middle school, Rantz should be able to recognize that. Also, there’s no need for those ellipses.

Society hasn’t done that. No one thinks breastfeeding is sexual. People think the breast is.

Seriously? Anyway, this whole argument has been ridiculous, but I think there’s a real chance to end weak. Like, super weak. Just awful, horrible, terrible, shittastic writing.

And if you want to blame society, fine. Society has defined your breasts as a sexual body part and if you don’t think that’s right, you should start off by talking to your fellow women who get breast implants, who wear clothing that accentuate the breasts, who purchase lingerie that highlight the breasts, because it’s women who are pushing the notion that that body part should be viewed as sexual.

Um. So. Maybe you’ll learn about context in some remedial high school class.

Open Thread 7-22-2015-AD

- The so-called pro-life activists playing “gotcha” with a doctor who thinks and speaks in clinical terms essentially wants more people like me to clasp hands with a pathologist before they start to cut on a dead baby to find out why it is in front of them instead of in the nursery. [h/t]

– Just compost your compost, and we won’t have a problem.

I think it’s amusing that he thinks Clinton’s campaign is saying “vote for me because I’m a woman.” But I do know that Mitch is the one playing the gender card by saying she is …

If you’re looking for some guidance on the primary:

– Here’s who NARAL endorsed in Washington.

– Here’s who Geov Parish supports in Seattle, King County, and Seattle School Board races

Drinking Liberally — Seattle


Ballots have dropped, and another election season is upon us. Please join us for an evening of politics over a pint at the Seattle Chapter of Drinking liberally. This week, folks from Carbon Washington will join us to discuss I-732. This initiative would lower sales taxes and eliminate the B&O tax in exchange for a carbon tax, with a goal of reducing the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change as well as the impact of our regressive state tax system on low income families.

The Seattle Chapter of Drinking liberally meets tonight and every Tuesday at the Roanoke Park Place Tavern, 2409 10th Ave E, Seattle. You’ll find us in the small room at the back of the tavern. Our starting time is 8:00 pm, but some folks stop by even earlier for dinner.

Can’t make it to Seattle tonight? Check out one of the other DL meetings happening this week. Tonight the Tri-Cities, Vancouver, WA, and Shelton chapters also meet. On Wednesday, the Bellingham and Burien chapters meet. The Spokane, Woodinville and Kent chapters meet on Thursday.

There are 190 chapters of Living Liberally, including eighteen in Washington state, four in Oregon and two in Idaho. Chances are good there’s a chapter meeting near you.

Open Thread 7/20

- Oh hey, your primary ballots are here. If you care about safe streets, here’s some info on the City Council candidates.

– Or here if you don’t want to vote for the people the Chamber of Commerce is pumping tons of money into their campaigns.

– If you’re a Republican who is upset that Donald Trump is attacking John McCain’s military service, where were you for the last decade or so?

– I don’t like Carly Fiorina at all, but good on her for opposing sexism in the workplace, even in a mild sort of way. I’m sure even though she got to the head of HP, she experienced quite a bit on the way and at the top. But holy geez, some of her conservative critics.

HA Bible Study: Luke 19:29-34

Luke 19:29-34
As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’”

Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”

They replied, “The Lord needs it.”

Exodus 20:15
Thou shalt not steal.


Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Thom: The Good, the Bad and the Very, Very Hircinely Ugly!.

David Pakman: One year of legal weed in Washington and everything is fine.

Eric Schwartz: Hattie and Mattie, 2015 edition:

Jackbooted U.N. Thugs Arrive:

Liberal Viewer: Megyn Kelly yells “The law is the law!” while misstating law on immigration detainers

Slate: How stressful is the presidency?

Cop caught on camera.

Persian Partisan Politics:

What the Gardena police didn’t want you to see.

Congressional hits and misses of the week.

White House: West Wing Week.

Beware of the Blob! California’s Drought and Climate Change:

Fetal Attraction:

Young Turks: Video of LAPD shooting unarmed men is released.

Mental Floss: 27 facts about maps.

Thom: The Good, the Bad, and the Very, Very Limicolously Ugly!

The 2016 Comedy Show:

Minute Physics: The counterintuitive physics of turning a bike.

Young Turks: “Classy” Oklahomans greet Obama with Confederate flag.

Liberal Viewer: FAUX News likes anti-atheist discrimination?

Thom: The climate eeception dossiers.

Plutonic Love:

Mental Floss: Misconceptions about STIs.

Richard Fowler: Federal court upholds cancellation of “Redskins” trademark.

Last week’s Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza can be found here.

Heads Up Sawant Supporters: Big Business has Stupid Amounts of Money

If the Sawant-haters think their anybody-but-Sawant standard bearer can sweep the socialist from office by substantially outspending her, they have another think coming. Just weeks before the primary, Sawant has already raised nearly $200,000; across all the council races, only biz-favorite Tim Burgess has raised more. Sawant is also blowing the rest of the pack away with her sheer number of donations, 1,590, over 600 more than the next closest candidate.

But Sawant and her supporters shouldn’t get over-confidant about their convention-defying performance in the money game. Because our airwaves, Internet, and mailboxes could soon be crowded out by big league professionals from the unregulated sport of independent expenditures.

Take for example the race for Council District 5, where a crowded field of qualified candidates including Sandy Brown, Debora Juarez, and Halei Watkins have closely competed for cash and endorsements. Then, out of nowhere, the National Association of Realtors suddenly dumps $48,000 into an independent expenditure on behalf of little-known also-ran Kris Lethin.

Um… Kris who?

Lethin said he has basically no campaign staff or apparatus. “Even my brochure was made by a buddy and me over a weekend,” he said. He described his website as “rookie.” I’m almost embarrassed,” he said. “The other guys have got such fancy stuff going.”

Lethin said he believes his opposition to rent control and linkage fees may have helped win the realtors’ support.

Yah think?

So if the Realtors are willing to flush $48,000 down the drain of a hopeless no-name, just because he’s the most vocal opponent of rent control and linkage fees, how much money do you think they’re ready to put into defeating these policies’ most vocal proponent, Kshama Sawant?

District elections were supposed to help take money out of politics by enabling candidates to focus on doorbelling and community organizing and other forms of direct grassroots voter outreach. But when you count the IEs, District 3 could very well end up being the most expensive race in city council history.

Sawant has proven herself an incorruptible champion of working-class Seattleites, earning her near unanimous support from union locals. No doubt these unions will come to her defense. But Big Business simply has a shit-ton more money than Big Labor. All the more reason why Kshama needs your relentless support.

Open Thread 7.17

- The fake stories Stetzer describes are not being spread in good faith by innocent dupes. They are not innocent and they are not dupes. And the stories are not merely “fake,” but false. The biblical term for what he’s describing is “bearing false witness against your neighbor.”

– I’m just going to posit that if you call our first Black president “monkey man Barack”, and the first Black first lady “Gorilla face” avoiding being thought of as racist wasn’t a high priority, the mayor of Airway Heights.

even if you dispense with the ghoulish idea of Bush going to any sort of veteran’s charity, the idea that he cashed in on it is disgusting.

– This story of what this country did to Lois Chichnikoff Thadei and other Native American children of her era is just awful.

A believer in the power of social media to make change, Bland can be heard thanking the bystander recording her arrest as she’s taken into police custody — custody from which she was never released alive.

– I like Bernie Sanders. I might vote for him in the primary (although I did vote for Clinton 8 years ago, and am leaning toward voting for her again). Still I quite like the first 3 parts of this series on his history from a feminist perspective.

The Stranger’s Endorsements

I’m back! And man am I behind on the news. So here’s a post that doesn’t require much thought:

I don’t know if it’s a sense of obligation or history, or if they actually think they’re making a difference, but I really don’t think most newspaper endorsements make a lick of difference. They spend most of the time pretending to be neutral observers, and then think we should care when they have opinions on who to vote for? Please.

Of course alt weekly papers are different. They have an opinion and a point of view all the time, and if you’re reading them, you probably care what they have to say about candidates. So if you’re already reading The Stranger, you probably already know this, but here are their endorsements. Whatever problems you may have with them, their endorsements probably matter more than any other paper in the region.