Fuck the NBA, Hello Hockey. Is Seattle Ready for NHL Expansion?

It may be too soon to pull on your Seattle Metropolitans jersey, but sports business journalist Howard Bloom says that the NHL is planning to expand by 2017, with four new teams slated for Las Vegas, Quebec, Toronto, and yes, Seattle. All that’s missing here is an owner and an arena (and an actual plan to expand, says NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who denies Bloom’s report), but that can’t stop local hockey fans from dreaming.

Bloom told Q13 that Seattle’s rich junior hockey tradition and geographic proximity to Canadian markets makes it an ideal expansion city. No doubt the lack of winter sport competition from the NBA wouldn’t hurt either as a new team worked to win fans’ hearts and wallets.

So Bloom thinks Seattle should strongly consider revising the Memorandum of Understanding on the Sodo arena deal, to allow for construction with an NHL team first.

“Look, it’s pretty simple Seattle. If you want to have a major winter sport in your market, the NHL is knocking on your door then you’re going to entertain the people that are coming to you.”

Yeah, except it’s not that simple. The politics have gotten more complicated since former mayor Mike McGinn’s defeat, and there’s no indication that would-be new Sonics owner Chris Hansen has any interest in building an arena without an NBA team in his pocket. Still recovering from our abusive relationship with the NBA, if there’s any big city politically primed to tell the NHL to fuck off, it’s Seattle.

Which is a shame. Because I was really looking forward to pulling on that Seattle Metropolitans jersey.

Because Guns Make Us Safer

I hope this girl learned a very important lesson at the gun range: adults are idiots!

A 9-year-old girl accidentally killed an Arizona shooting instructor as he was showing her how to use an automatic Uzi, authorities said Tuesday.

Charles Vacca, 39, of Lake Havasu City, died Monday shortly after being airlifted to University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Mohave County sheriff’s officials said.

Vacca was standing next to the girl at the Last Stop outdoor shooting range in White Hills when she pulled the trigger and the recoil sent the gun over her head, investigators said.

I got to shoot a 38 caliber handgun when I was 11, and the first time I fired I hit myself in the head from the recoil. But at least my instructor was smart enough to only put a single round in the chamber. So I’m having trouble mustering up sympathy for the instructor. The poor girl, on the other hand, how could she not be scarred for life?

So chalk this up as two more victims of America’s insane gun culture.

Open Thread 8.26.2014

- #WeCareAboutFerguson

- I’m of 2 minds about Washington NARAL’s Men for Choice fundraiser. When I went to lobby day with them this year, there were like 10 to 1 women to men, and it is important to get men to show up. And it is important that these things not just be women’s issues. On the other hand, I’d rather more men show up at lobby day and at their other fundraisers than that. Still, if you want to go, I’m sure it will be a good event.

- The man a big believer in feck.

- More job killing by the $15 minimum wage and the sick leave/safe leave laws.

- Car-free “vacation”: Yakima

- SPD officers have a right to respond to criticism, of course. But this makes them look pathetic.

- Oh good, because the queue of books I want to check out from the library wasn’t long enough as it is.

In Which One Clause Contradicts the Other

I am sympathetic to those advocating for the Woodland Park Zoo to shutter its inadequate elephant exhibit and move its inmates to more humane sanctuaries. But I’m not sympathetic to stupid defamatory writing:

While the immediate cause of Watoto’s collapse will not be known until a medical examination is complete, it is hard to escape the sense that this was a preventable and premature death, and one for which the community bears a collective responsibility.

Shorter Seattle Times: “It would be wrong to speculate on the cause of Watoto’s death, but we’re going to do so anyway.”

And the editors don’t stop their uninformed opinionating there. In maligning the Woodland Park Zoo for “keeping the world’s largest land mammals in confined spaces, in inappropriate climates,” the editors point out: “In the wild an elephant might live 20 years longer.”

Okay. Maybe. But 20 years longer than what? Captive elephants in general? Woodland Park Zoo elephants in particular? Watoto herself? I mean, if you’re going to burden Seattleites with collective guilt for the “premature death” of Watoto, I presume you’ve got the elephant actuarial tables to back you up. Well, no:

The researchers found that the median life span for African elephants in European zoos was 16.9 years, compared with 56 years for elephants who died of natural causes in Kenya’s Amboseli park. Adding in those elephants killed by people in Africa lowered the median life span there to 35.9 years.

Again, I’m all for moving Woodland Park’s elephants to more elephant-appropriate facilities. But let’s be fair. Compared to her fellow African elephants, 45-year-old Watato lived a pretty long and healthy life—nearly three times the median lifespan of your typical zoo elephant, and almost a decade longer than the median life span of elephants in Kenya’s Amboseli park. So given these numbers, it’s not even accurate to characterize Watato’s death as statistically “premature,” let alone blame Woodland Park zookeepers for it.

Also, it’s just one elephant. Hardly much of a statistical sample.

Yes, in the wild, elephants can live to be 70. But the oldest documented human was 122-year-old Jeanne Calment of France. So to say that Watoto “might” have lived 20 years longer in the wild is kinda like saying that recently departed 89-year-old Lauren Bacall “might” have lived 30 years longer in France. She might have. But it wasn’t likely.

The first rule in reading a Seattle Times editorial is that when they use a number, they’re probably using it deceptively (or at least, wrong). But the irony is, this deception wasn’t even necessary. First, just look at those median life expectancy numbers: Zoo elephants live less than half as long as those on African reserves, and less than one-third as long as those wild elephants that die of natural causes. That’s awful! And a powerful indictment of elephant zoo captivity on its own. Second, go to Woodland Park Zoo. Take a good hard look at the elephants. Then take a good hard look at the size of their enclosure. Tell me if that looks right to you?

But barring some sort of damning evidence from the medical examination, Watoto’s death at age 45 is about as strong an argument for shutting down the zoo’s elephant enclosure as the sale of the estate-tax-exempt McBride “Farm” is for repealing the estate tax. Even when the facts are on their side the editors would obviously rather manipulate and mislead their readers than treat them with respect.

This Is What a Losing Political Strategy Looks Like: “Seattle’s Agenda Is Not the Agenda for the Entire State”

Okay, so the Seattle Times editorial board has endorsed zillion-term Democratic incumbent state Representative Frank Chopp over his Socialist challenger Jess Spear. No surprise there. But there is one line from the endorsement that jumped out at me:

Seattle’s agenda is not the agenda for the entire state.

Huh. That may be true. But Chopp doesn’t represent the entire state. He represents Seattle’s 43rd Legislative District. And I’d argue that much of the discontent that many rank and file Seattle Dems feel towards Chopp and the rest of the Seattle delegation stems from a desire that they more forcefully represent the partisan interests of Seattle.

Same goes for our discontent with the Seattle Times editorial board, for that matter.

Politics is an adversarial process, and while you certainly need to be able to negotiate and compromise to get shit done, effective negotiation starts from the point of what your side wants, not from the point of what you think the other side needs. I mean, levy equalization and levy swaps, for example, might be the right thing to do for rural schoolchildren, but what do Seattle’s underfunded school kids get in return? Bupkes!

When the Seattle delegation is focused on doing what’s good for the entire state while the rest of Olympia is focused on fucking Seattle, Seattle’s interests ultimately get fucked.

And Chopp’s role as “representative” is further undermined by his role as House Speaker, where his primary responsibility is to build and maintain a Democratic majority. Kudos on that, Frank. But in the process, the 43rd LD has effectively been left with only two legislators instead of three.

No, Seattle’s agenda is not the agenda for the entire state. But our delegation’s failure to promote and defend our agenda in Olympia as vigorously as legislators from the rest of the state promote and defend theirs, has left Seattle at a political disadvantage.

Drinking Liberally — Seattle

DLBottle

It’s the last Tuesday in August, so it must be election day somewhere. In fact, there are primaries in Arizona, Florida, and Vermont and runoff elections in Oklahoma. So join us for some election night punditry and political pontification over a pint at the Seattle Chapter of Drinking Liberally.

We meet tonight, and every Tuesday evening at the Roanoke Park Place Tavern, 2409 10th Ave E, Seattle. The starting time is 8:00 pm, but some folks show up before that for dinner and election returns.

Can’t make it to Seattle? Check out another Washington state DL over the next week. They’re everywhere! The Tri-Cities chapter also meets this and every Tuesday night. On Wednesday, the Bellingham and Burien chapters meet. On Thursday, the Woodinville and Spokane chapters meet. And next Monday, the Yakima, South Bellevue and Olympia chapters meet.

With 203 chapters of Living Liberally, including eighteen in Washington state, three in Oregon and three in Idaho, chances are excellent there’s a chapter meeting somewhere near you.

With Zillionaires In It to Win It on Initiative 594, Should NRA Just Lay Down Its Arms and Go Home?

Local zillionaires Bill Gates and Nick Hanauer kicked in another $1 million each to Initiative 594′s coffers late last week, on top of the half million dollars each recently contributed by Paul Allen and the Ballmers. That’s $3 million in recent weeks, from four of the wealthiest households in the state, towards closing Washington State’s dangerous “gun show loophole.” And if past performance is any indication of future results, there’s a lot more money where that came from.

Hanauer’s total contributions to I-594 now stand at $1,470,000, the Gates at $1,050,000, the Ballmers at $600,000, and Allen at $500,000. Altogether, the I-594 campaign has now raised over $5.8 million from about 7,500 donors (an indication of strong grassroots support as well), compared to just $1.1 million for competing pro-guns Initiative 591 and a mere $25,000 for the National Rifle Association’s official “No on 594″ campaign.

It’s not like the NRA to bring a knife to a gun-control fight. But given the circumstances, it may be their only choice.

I-594′s universal background checks on all gun sales enjoys extraordinarily strong, broad, and steady support from Washington voters: 70 percent in a July Elway Poll, down only slightly from 72 percent in April. I-594 enjoys majority support from Republicans and Democrats alike, and surprisingly strong support in parts of Eastern Washington were you’d expect opposition to be fierce.

Given these numbers, it might not be impossible for the NRA to undermine I-594′s popularity, but with little more than two months to go before the election, it would take an awful lot of money. And I’m not talking dollar-to-dollar parity. The grocery industry spent over $22 million last year to defeat the far less popular GMO-labeling Initiative 522. But the No campaign’s nearly three-to-one spending advantage only bought it a narrow victory, with I-522 ultimately going down to a 49 percent to 51 percent defeat.

And the NRA can’t count on even that sort of spending advantage.

Many of the same local zillionaires behind I-594 were also principal backers of 2012′s odious charter schools Initiative 1240; and they gave both early and often. Bill and Melinda Gates gave a total of $3.15 million to I-1240, Allen $1.6 million, Hanauer $1.05 million, Connie Ballmer $500,000. The Yes on I-1240 campaign ultimate spent $11.4 million to pass charter schools, against a token opposition campaign of a little more than $700,000, a 16-to-1 advantage.

Did Gates and company need to spend that much money on I-1240? No. But they play to win.

And that’s the dilemma facing the NRA. If they want a shot at defeating I-594 they’re going to have to substantially outspend a handful of really motivated zillionaires who are willing and able to up the stakes dramatically. Twenty million dollars isn’t going to do it. Maybe not $30 million. Hell, $40 million may not even be enough, and that’s significantly more than the NRA typically spends on all of its political advertising and lobbying nationally in an given year!

Spend $30 to $40 million on defeating I-594, and the NRA won’t have a penny to defeat anything else. Spend $30-plus million and lose, and that would be political disaster, sending a clear message to legislators and congressmen that no amount of NRA money is enough to stem the popular tide of support in favor of stricter gun control. Better to spend nothing, and just write off this initiative as a wacky political outlier from the pot-smoking, gay-marrying, socialist-electing, $15-minimum-wage-paying Soviet of Washington.

No wonder NRA chief lobbyist and No on I-594 campaign manager Chris Cox has been refusing to return reporters’ phone calls. Indeed, it’s been almost a month since an NRA official publicly commented on I-594, and that didn’t go too well for the NRA, did it?

This is one confrontation where the NRA would be well advised not to stand their ground. And I’ve got an inkling that they won’t.

A Simple Guide to Fisking a Seattle Times Editorial

Over the years I have proven quite adept at “fisking” Seattle Times editorials, meticulously refuting their bullshit arguments line by line by poorly written line. I know: it can be soul-crushing work just skimming the paper’s op-ed pages, let alone reading them closely enough to pick apart their lies. But for the sake of maintaining honest and robust political discourse, somebody’s got to do it.

You’re welcome.

But thanks to the editorial board’s embarrassingly dishonest “Death Tax” editorial, and editorial page editor Kate Riley’s even more embarrassing refusal to fix her paper’s errors, fisking the Seattle Times just got a whole lot easier! Just follow my lead below on this recent education editorial, and you too can brutally pick apart nearly any Seattle Times editorial on any topic, while putting in almost as little time and effort as the editors put in to writing it:

Intransigence by some state lawmakers earlier this year means families across the state will soon receive letters declaring their schools are failing to meet federal standards.

The Seattle Times editorial board lied to readers about the estate tax, and then refused to fix its errors. So you really can’t trust anything they write.

Collectively, local district leaders lost the ability to invest $40 million in Title I funds as they see fit into programs to help struggling and low-income students.

This was a political statement for many lawmakers with real and disappointing consequences, especially for districts that serve lower-income students.

The Seattle Times editorial board lied to readers about the estate tax, and then refused to fix its errors. So you really can’t trust anything they write.

During the 2014 session, legislators refused to make a simple change in state law to require student test scores to play some role in teacher evaluations — a requirement voiced by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan for the state to continue to receive its waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law. Exactly how much would have been left up to individual districts to determine.

The Seattle Times editorial board lied to readers about the estate tax, and then refused to fix its errors. So you really can’t trust anything they write.

Opposition from the left and the right sunk the bill and Washington became the first state in the nation to lose the waiver. Conservative lawmakers were opposed because they didn’t want the feds telling the state what to do; more liberal lawmakers defied Gov. Jay Inslee’s request for support and bent to the will of the Washington Education Association, which opposes connections between student performance and teacher evaluations.

The Seattle Times editorial board lied to readers about the estate tax, and then refused to fix its errors. So you really can’t trust anything they write.

Now, some political candidates are recycling the union’s talking points and claiming in Seattle Times endorsement meetings that the money is still there and it’s no big deal if administrators lose flexibility in spending.

The Seattle Times editorial board lied to readers about the estate tax, and then refused to fix its errors. So you really can’t trust anything they write.

Wrong.

The Seattle Times editorial board lied to readers about the estate tax, and then refused to fix its errors. So you really can’t trust anything they write.

The inability to direct money where it is most needed affects each district differently, especially those with high numbers of students from low-income families such as the Seattle Public Schools, which receives about $2 million annually.

The Seattle Times editorial board lied to readers about the estate tax, and then refused to fix its errors. So you really can’t trust anything they write.

The district last month asked Secretary Duncan for its own waiver so it can continue to use the funds to help its lowest-performing schools:

“A return to the NCLB system of public school choice and supplemental external services would be disruptive to the progress we have made,” the district said in its application, “and the loss of flexibility would introduce uncertainty, place at risk our planned investments for 2014-15, and undermine our strategies for supporting and improving our highest needs schools.”

The Seattle Times editorial board lied to readers about the estate tax, and then refused to fix its errors. So you really can’t trust anything they write.

In previous years, Highline Public Schools Superintendent Susan Enfield said about $1 million in Title I funds helped the district add full-day kindergarten classes. Now, that money must be set aside to transport children to schools of their choice or to pay third-party tutors such as Kumon Learning Centers. The district could apply to be a provider, but there is no certainty. Only if parents don’t seek private tutoring for their children might the district be able to get the money later. Administrators say it’s hard to plan ahead without steady funding.

The Seattle Times editorial board lied to readers about the estate tax, and then refused to fix its errors. So you really can’t trust anything they write.

Other districts report they will have to cut existing programs.

The Seattle Times editorial board lied to readers about the estate tax, and then refused to fix its errors. So you really can’t trust anything they write.

The No Child Left Behind law is unquestionably flawed. But states must work with it until Congress makes changes. Lawmakers should have been able to work out a compromise to retain funding. They failed.

The Seattle Times editorial board lied to readers about the estate tax, and then refused to fix its errors. So you really can’t trust anything they write.

As voters consider their ballots this November, they should elect representatives who will fight for common sense and what’s best for their local district’s students — not buckle under pressure from anti-federal ideologues and a union that remains ideologically opposed to accountability standards.

The Seattle Times editorial board lied to readers about the estate tax, and then refused to fix its errors. So you really can’t trust anything they write.

In this case, pragmatism, not politics, should have ruled the day on behalf of the state’s children most in need of academic help.

The Seattle Times editorial board lied to readers about the estate tax, and then refused to fix its errors. So you really can’t trust anything they write.

There you have it: an easy and effective refutation of nearly any Seattle Times editorial on any topic! So thank you, Seattle Times editorial board, for having so little self-respect and pride of work that you’ve transformed the arduous task of fisking your editorials into a simple cut-and-paste job.

Street View Contest Gallery

Last week’s contest was won by Theophrastus. It was Jeffersonville, Indiana.

About two weeks ago, I picked out the location in Ferguson, Missouri – where Michael Brown had just been killed – to use for the monthly news-related contest. But with the eyes of the world fixated on what’s happening there, it would’ve been an insultingly easy contest.

As the story has unfolded, I’ve found myself using the street views to look up the various locations in and around Ferguson where we’ve seen America’s over-militarized, unaccountable, and wildly racist policing come into clear focus. No contest this week, just a gallery of street views from what is becoming one of the most important news stories of the decade. I don’t plan to police the comment thread, so if you value your sanity, you should probably avoid this one.

The location where Brown was killed on August 9

The Quick Trip convenience store that was burned and looted on August 10

The McDonald’s restaurant where reporters Wesley Lowery and Ryan Reilly were arrested on August 13, next to the Ferguson Market. The Ferguson Market was the store where police allege Michael Brown stole some cigars shortly before the shooting (but whose employees never reported a robbery). In the late hours of August 15, community members stood guard outside the market and other businesses to discourage looting

The location in St. Louis where 25-year-old Kajieme Powell was shot and killed on August 19, in an incident where recorded cell phone footage showed that the original police account was inaccurate.

The Greater St. Mark’s Family Church, where community members have been taking care of wounded protestors, and was visited by police on August 20.

In Drunken Zoo Safari, Seattle Times Publisher Frank Blethen Shoots and Kills Watoto the Elephant

Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen standing over the freshly shot corpse the Woodland Park Zoo's beloved Watoto.

Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen triumphantly poses over the freshly shot corpse of the Woodland Park Zoo’s beloved Watoto the elephant.

Sad. But it wouldn’t be the first time Blethen shot a defenseless animal.

And yes, we doublechecked with our sources, and we stand by our work. We always correct mistakes, but there is no mistake here.

Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Young Turks: Will the NRA support this gun club?

Paul Ryan refuses to answer a question on his tax break for millionaires.

Ann Telnaes: Time for equality, SCOTUS.

Thom: Documented cases of deported refugee children being murdered.

Mental Floss: 26 amusing facts about amusement parks.

Liberal Viewer: FAUX News attacks atheists fighting tax-exempt churches acting like super PACs.

Brown and White and Blood-Red all over:

White House: West Wing Week.

Pap: McDonnell trial highlights GOP’s corrupt nature.

Bringing affordable health care to Alaska Natives.

Ed: The disconnect between Republican Christian ideals and helping the poor.

ONN: U.S. Forest Service kills off Smokey Bear to get people serious about fire safety.

Ann Telnaes: Down the Iraq rabbit hole.

Eric Schwartz: STFU Rush Limbaugh.

Setting the record strait on voter ID laws.

Oops…A Felony Indictment for the Guy with Smart Glasses:

Jimmy Dore: John Boehner’s legal team speaks out.

Honest Political Ads: An Unprovoked Attack:

Maddow: Former VA Gov. McDonnell corruption trial—Pat Robertson blames Obama?!?

Farron Cousins: Has Louie Gohmert completely lost his mind?

Mitt Romney ALS Ice bucket challenge.

Pap: The Tea Party charity swindle.

Thom corrects Karl Rove and the fact free zombies of FAUX News.

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

The Seattle Times Editorial Board: the City’s Most Widely Read Right-Wing Blog

So I have it on good authority that the Seattle Times’ demonstrably false unsigned “Death Tax” editorial was penned by editorial columnist Erik Smith. Figures. That’s exactly the sort of corporatist shilling for which he was clearly hired.

I know Smith from his several years blogging for the business-backed Washington Wire, where he covered Olympia with an undeniably pro-business/pro-Republican slant. That was his job and he was okay at it, I guess. But I never paid much attention to Washington Wire because it never had much audience or influence.

Still, let’s clear away the pretense: this is what the Seattle Times hired when they put Smith on their editorial board—a conservative blogger. And that is exactly what they got.

Indeed, if anything, Smith has behaved more like a righty blogger since being elevated to the editorial board than he ever did at Washington Wire, where he always seemed defensive about his business backing. At Washington Wire, Smith stuck to a more reportorial voice, and at least went through the journalistic motions. At the Seattle Times he’s lapsed into fact-free bloviating, relying on the credibility inherent in writing under a major newspaper banner to make up for the lack of effort he’s displayed to actually, you know, get stuff right. And his “Death Tax” editorial celebrates a new low.

The McBrides had long ceased to operate a “working farm,” and the value of Ralph McBride’s property was far too small to be subject to either the state or federal estate taxes. Perhaps you could just chalk those errors off to mere laziness. But the following is intentionally misleading:

Washington state’s tax is especially punitive. The rate of up to 20 percent is the highest in the country — on top of a federal rate of 40 percent. The typical state exemption for the first $2 million of estate value is hardly enough for a farm or prosperous business, despite reforms by the 2013 Legislature.

I mean, how do you write this statement without acknowledging that working farms are entirely exempt from Washington’s estate tax, and still take pride in your work? I know I couldn’t.

If I have a chip on my shoulder it comes from years of being lazily dismissed by “real” journalists like Smith and his editorial page editor Kate Riley as just a foul-mouthed liberal blogger who can’t be taken seriously. But the truth is, I do exactly what the Seattle Times editorial board does, except I do it from the left, I do it better, and I do it honestly. And, unlike the Seattle Times editors, I have the goddamn self-respect and pride of work to sign my name.