Open Thread 7/22

- This carmageddon will be different.

- Most law-enforcement bodies have discretion over what they test, and many shelve kits if a victim seems untrustworthy or a suspect has already been identified, according to the National Institute of Justice, a research arm of the Department of Justice. Police also give priority to cases in which the suspect is a stranger and the victim is visibly injured. Yet perhaps eight in ten rapes take place between people who at least vaguely know each other, and most lack signs of violence. Acquaintance rapists are often chronic offenders, says David Lisak, a clinical psychologist. [h/t]

- Well done Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction and Mayor Murray.

- After you’ve lost everyone who’s disgusted with the child abuse and hate, this is what’s left, and they’re running the place.

- Spokane people, any of you going to miss the Parkade Plaza Fountain?

- I don’t think the GOP have really thought through the Halbig case.

- Jonah Goldberg is a horrible person, but he’s a horrible person in a specific way that has allowed a lot of people to make fun of him over the years.

Anti-$15 Minimum Wage Referendum Officially Fails to Qualify for the Ballot, 100 Signatures Withdrawn

King County Elections released its absolute final signature verification results today, and of the 18,929 signatures Forward Seattle submitted, only 14,818 were determined to be valid, far short of the 16,510 necessary to qualify for the ballot. KCE validated an additional 455 signatures (out of 568 submitted) from a separate $15 referendum, but since the combined total still falls well short of the threshold, there’s no need to go through the legal wrangling necessary to determine whether they can be combined.

Of course, this result had been a foregone conclusion for more than a week. Of more interest is that KCE subtracted 100 signatures from the final total as legally “withdrawn.” I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this before. Kudos to Working Washington for setting new precedent in the battle against blatantly dishonest signature drives.

Stagnant US Wages Eat into McDonald’s Profits

The glaring irony in the minimum wage debate is that it’s not inflation or rising labor costs that threaten corporate profits, but rather, stagnant consumer demand:

McDonald’s Corp. said its profit slipped in the second quarter as sales in the U.S. continued to flag.

The world’s biggest hamburger chain has been struggling to boost sales in its flagship market amid intensifying competition, changing eating habits and the persistent financial struggles of its lower-income customers.

In the U.S., sales at established locations fell 1.5 percent for the period fewer customers came into its restaurants. The company, based in Oak Brook, Illinois, hasn’t managed to raise the figure since October.

Real median wages declined 11 percent between 2002 and 2012, leaving low and middle income consumers with little discretionary income. Not even enough to spend on luxuries like McDonald’s.

It is lagging consumer demand that is holding back the US economy, and lagging demand is a direct result of lagging wages. Perhaps that’s why the 13 states that raised their minimum wage on January 1, are the 13 states with the fastest job growth since?

Though to Be Fair, Who Hasn’t Wanted to Shove Dave Meinert?

There’s actual video of hipster oligarch Dave Meinert getting shoved by a silver-haired Parks District opponent at a pro-Parks District press conference:

“I’ve never been at a press conference like that ever,” said Wells. “That was angrier than any of the minimum-wage stuff,” Meinert concurs.

They’re not always obedient, but I don’t think $15 Now and Socialist Alternative get enough credit for how civil they’ve always been. Never a hint of violence or unrest. Extremely well disciplined. Very peaceful.

Yet some of these anti-Parks Districts folk… what a bunch of assholes.

Gun-Nut Leader Accuses Background Check Supporters of Being Nuttier than Gun-Nuts

You know those targets left outside the League of Women Voters offices? It’s all an elaborate ruse, claims professional gun-nut Alan Gottlieb!

“Experienced gun owners have questioned whether or not this was actually the work of anyone even slightly familiar with firearms,” Gottlieb said, intimating the incident may have been a publicity stunt. “Rather, it seems more likely to be a stunt perpetrated by proponents of 594 seeking attention. It’s the kind of juvenile prank that only anti-gun elitists would find credible.

Right. It’s exactly the kinda juvenile stunt we’ve come to expect from the League of Women Voters! That, and delicious home-baked strudel.

Gottlieb, a convicted felon, has made a fortune from his Bellevue-based gun “advocacy” groups. So it’ll be kinda sweet to see I-594 passed in his own backyard.

It’s Time’s Like This I Wish I Was a God-Fearing Christian…

… Because then I could rest comfortably knowing that these assholes would eventually burn in Hell:

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the government could not subsidize premiums for people in three dozen states that use the federal insurance exchange, a ruling that could upend President Obama’s health care law.

The 2-to-1 ruling could cut off financial assistance for more than 4.5 million people who were found eligible for subsidized insurance in the federal exchange, or marketplace.

… The lawsuit was filed by several people, supported by conservative and libertarian organizations, in states that use the federal exchange: Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. They objected to being required to buy insurance, even with subsidies to help defray the cost.

I’m sure the plaintiffs are patting themselves on the back right now in celebration of their big victory over Obamunism. But seriously, if this decision is upheld (and my sense is that it won’t be), how many of those 4.5 million Americans will suffer and/or die because their affordable health insurance was yanked away? If there really is a just and vengeful God, he’ll see this lawsuit for what it really is: attempted murder.

Drinking Liberally — Seattle

DLBottle Unless you happen to be meeting with President Obama, please join us tonight for an evening of politics over a pint at the Seattle Chapter of Drinking Liberally. The ballots are out, so bring along your questions about and opinions of the candidates.

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.

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. And on Thursday, the Woodinville chapter meets.

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.

Our Tax Dollars at Work (in Okanogan County)

Goddamn freedom-trampling money-wasting big guvmint!

As of this morning, some 3,100 firefighters were battling six major wildfires in Washington, while more than 4,800 were fighting 13 fires in Oregon.

More than 1,600 were at the Carlton Complex fire, up about 200 from Sunday.

A couple years ago when I ran the numbers for The Stranger, Okanogan County got back $1.84 in state spending for every tax dollar it sent to Olympia, while King County got back only 62 cents on the dollar. Which is fine. They sure do need our help to fight what is now the largest wildfire in state history. I just wish they had a more realistic understanding of who carries who, instead of constantly blaming Seattle liberals for all their woes.

Two New Reports Upend Supply-Side Dogma

Up is down! Black is white! Keynes is Friedman! It’s like we’re living in economic Bizzaro World!

First, there’s this:

Maybe a higher minimum wage isn’t so bad for job growth after all.

The 13 U.S. states that raised their minimum wages at the beginning of this year are adding jobs at a faster pace than those that did not, providing some counter-intuitive fuel to the debate over what impact a higher minimum has on hiring trends.

And now, there’s this:

The big takeaway: There is a clear connection between economic inequality and low-tax, low-cost state business climates (or, more accurately, business climate indexes based on those factors). As they put it: “The same tax and cost related indexes that are associated with higher economic growth are also associated with increases in inequality.”

Omigod, it’s like everything the supply-siders have been telling us for the past 40 years is wrong! A higher minimum wage does not decrease economic growth, and a rising tide does not raise all boats!

Who’da thunk?

Seattle Times Prints Bigoted Guest Column Blaming Mass Shootings on Atheism

In recent years I’ve heard complaints from credible representatives of credible advocacy groups—even elected officials—that they’ve had little luck getting a guest column into the Seattle Times on important issues of the day. Union leaders and educators particularly feel shut out.

It wasn’t always this way. Back before the demise of the P-I, under Jim Vesely’s rule, the editorial page used to at least make an effort to give equal space to opposing views, even those they strongly disagreed with. But current editorial page editor Kate Riley makes little more than a token show of it. Instead, what progressive community leaders usually hear back is sorry, space is tight, there’s a lot of demand, and so the editors have to be very, very selective.

Okay. Maybe. But then how do they explain making room for this rambling guest column blaming our epidemic of mass shootings on the growing scourge of atheism?

Regardless of where our country went wrong, we now have a problem. Many Americans do not believe in an afterlife and divine judgment. Thus, homicide is attractive for revenge and the expression of emotional pain, and suicide is attractive for escape.

First of all, I don’t have the data at my fingertips, but I’m pretty confident that access to rational empiricism is much less strongly correlated with homicide and suicide than access to, you know, a gun. Further, the writer’s whole premise is unsupported by the facts. According to the religion and spirituality website Patheos, most US mass murderers are Christian (though in fact, the most overwhelming common denominator is that they are male). And then there’s the whole thorny history of our species routinely torturing and slaughtering each other in the name of one True God or another. But to be clear, it’s the gun that makes acting on murderous impulses so damn easy and efficient.

And second of all, could you be more bigoted and offensive?

Really. Had she written that “many Americans do not believe in Jesus Christ as their savior,” or had she pointed the finger at Judaism or Islam as belief systems that make homicide “attractive for revenge and the expression of emotional pain” (see, Gaza), the editors would have dismissed her column as the intolerant ramblings of an unrepentant bigot. But paint atheism as the “problem”—and by association, the millions of non-believing Americans like me who identify ourselves as such—well that’s the sort of important civil discourse deserving of rare column inches on the Seattle Times op/ed page! Apparently, non-belief is the only belief system that’s a permissible target of religious hate speech in our state’s paper of record.

I mean, fuck! The same op/ed page that blasts Gilbert and Sullivan as racism beyond the pale of a polite and inclusive society, gives voice to a religious bigot smearing nonbelievers with secular blood libel? It makes me so angry I could shoot somebody!

But I won’t. Because it would be wrong. And not because the Bible forbids it, or because I fear divine retribution in this life or the next, but because I was raised to be in touch with my own empathy and altruism, two traits that are as intrinsic to human nature as violence and revenge. As Rabbi Hillel famously said, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary.” But one does not need to actually believe in the supernatural window-dressing of the Golden Rule to embrace it as the indispensable glue of a just and functional society.

Nevertheless, if like this author (and apparently, the editorial page editor of the Seattle Times), you are a self-satisfied narrow-minded religious bigot who insists that there can be no morality without God, have no fear: I won’t shoot you. Because I have no gun. And thus I have no means of acting upon the homicidal culture of revenge with which you impugn those of us who merely reject the notion of the supernatural. Something to think about if you’re truly interested in protecting your fellow man from senseless violence.

Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Greenman: Dark Snow project’s drones over Greenland.

Young Turks: CA death penalty ruled unconstitutional.

Thom: Capitalism’s deeper problem.

Sharpton: The G.O.P. are ready to tank the U.S. economy, AGAIN.

Roy Zimmerman: SCROTUS:

Matt Binder: Conservatives go bonkers because a comic character gets shot.

Maddow: History of civilian planes shot down by ‘criminal’ military entities.

Jon: On CIA lunchroom complaints.

Child Refugees and Conservative Clowns:

Alex Wagner: Rep. Darrell Issa’s record breaking subpoena palooza.

Ann Telnaes: Hobby Lobby burden for women.

Six decades of The Peace Corps.

2014: A contrast in priorities.

Chris Hayes: Senator Mitch McConnell’s medicare reversal and somersault!.

White House: West Wing Week.

Mark Fiore: Ogg and Uck…all washed up.

Darth Cheney Said Something:

Young Turks: Bill-O-the-Clown and some G.O.P. nutburger have advice for poor people.

Mental Floss: 41 facts about dogs.

David Pakman: Bill-O-The-Clown gives advice to poor people.

Matt Binder: KKK is luring new members with…candy.

Jon: On Sarah Panin’s call for impeachment.

Thom: Which is worse…government or corporate bureaucracy.

Sam Seder: Rick Santelli loses it on TV after being called out for being wrong about EVERYTHING.

Psychosupermom: Beyoncé Voters.

Michael Brooks: FAUX News nutbag warns against the “Chinaman”.

Ana Kasparian: Why is this entire island–nation preparing to evacuate?.

Young Turks: Jon Stewart enrages conservatives over Gaza.

Pap: Religious promotion will backfire on Republicans.

D.C.’s proposed new pot law explained.

David Pakman: Abstinence-only crusader’s 17-year-old daughter is pregnant.

Thom: The Good, The Bad, and The Very, Very Ugly.

Honest Political Ads: The economy:

Alex Wagner: Kansas tax cuts backfire.

Huh? Another “Obama’s Katrina”?.

John Boehner explains minimum wage.

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

Omigod. Imagine If the Downed Plane Had Been American…

I absolutely don’t mean to imply that American lives are more valuable than Dutch or Malaysian, but as it becomes increasingly clear that a Malaysian Airlines passenger jet was shot down by Russian-armed separatists—essentially, shot down by Russia—I can’t help but imagine the potential absolute catastrophe set in motion had it been an American airliner, and 298 American passengers and crew whose burned and bloody pieces lay scattered across eastern Ukraine.

The US is a democracy and this is an election year, and for a nation that has invaded countries for far less—a nation that has cited the Maine, and the Lusitania, and the Gulf of Tonkin as grounds for war—it is hard to imagine that President Obama could have resisted calls for retaliation. Indeed, to do nothing would virtually assure a Republican landslide in November. I suppose it is possible that Vladimir Putin might act un-Putin-like and accede to a US ultimatum: acknowledge responsibility, pay reparations, turn over those directly responsible, disarm the separatists, and swear to honor existing borders. But barring such a total capitulation, how could we not strike back at Russian-backed separatists just miles from the Russian border? And how could that not risk escalating into a direct conflict between the world’s two nuclear superpowers?

As Josh Marshall astutely explains over at TPM, “This is a f’-up on Putin’s part of almost mind-boggling proportions.” A game changer, yes.

But it could’ve been much, much, worse.