How Bad Is the Republican Brand? Republican PAC Attacks Democrat for Being a Dirty, Lying Republican!

In what has got to be one of the most boldly shameless acts of political concern-trolling ever, a political action committee entirely controlled by the Washington State Senate Republican caucus has sent glossy mailers to voters in the hotly contested 45th Legislative District race, bitterly accusing Democratic challenger Matt Isenhower of being a closet Republican! And they don’t just slam Isenhower for being a Republican, they slam their own party in the process:

“He’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” warns the mailer, “willing to say anything to get elected. Just like his mentors: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.” Ouch!

JUL14-Republicans-Trolling-MattIsenhower-Round2-Back

It’s an impressive bit of sock puppetry: a dirty lying Republican-funded PAC accusing a Democratic challenger of being a dirty, lying Republican. I mean, you gotta admire their balls. Bravo!

And let’s be clear, there is absolutely zero doubt connecting this mailer to the state Senate Republican caucus. According to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, the so-called Good Government Leadership Council that paid for this mailer is entirely funded by the Leadership Council, a PDC designated caucus committee run by Republican Senator Mike Hewitt, with an SRCC.org email address. Its top contributors include a rogues gallery of Republican moneybags, including the Washington Restaurant Association, the Building Industry Association of Washington, and Eastside developer George Rowley.

The NW Progressive Institute Advocate has more of the mailers up online.

So, two take-aways. First, the SRCC must be awfully damn worried about incumbent Senator Andy Hill’s reelection prospects to have to stoop to this creative new low in his defense. Second, could the Republican brand get any worse, that even Republicans are now willing to throw their party under the bus if they think it will net them a temporary electoral advantage?

Instead of accusing their Democratic opponents of being Republicans, the GOPers might want to take a moment to ponder why that is charge such an effective negative attack?

Jewish Federation Shooting Survivor Condemns NRA Spokesman’s “Fringe Ideas” that I-594 Is Comparable to the Holocaust

Perhaps when they leave a target on Cheryl Stumbo’s doorstep, they’ll shoot it up in the shape of a swastika?

Seattle, WA – The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility issued the following statement from Cheryl Stumbo, Initiative 594 citizen-sponsor and survivor of the Jewish Federation shooting in 2006, in response to the remarks of a senior National Rifle Association lobbyist that Initiative 594 and other measures to reduce gun violence are the same policies instituted in Nazi Germany and that led to the Holocaust:

“The offensive rhetoric from a senior lobbyist at the National Rifle Association is out-of-touch with what the vast majority of Washingtonians want: a reasonable, productive discussion of solutions to reduce gun violence in our communities. Developing those solutions has been a major part of my life since the attack on my co-workers and me eight years ago, and I am honored to have been joined by other survivors of gun violence, gun owners, hunters, law enforcement, and current and former NRA members. We’ve come together because Washington state needs everyone working together to be part of the solution to making our communities safer – and fringe ideas like Mr. Judy’s are part of the problem.”

In almost any other organization, offensive remarks like these from a public spokesman and lobbyist might prove a firing offense. But not the NRA. Because Mr. Judy’s “fringe ideas”—that gun control is both comparable to the Holocaust, and a devilish plot hatched by wealthy Jews—represent the mainstream of NRA thought.

UPDATE: The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle has issued a statement calling for Mr. Judy’s resignation:

The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and members of the Jewish community condemn the statement reportedly made by Brian Judy of the National Rifle Association that attempt to link policies to reduce gun violence to the Holocaust. The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle calls upon Mr. Judy to resign his position with the National Rifle Association.

Eight years ago today, the Jewish Federation was the target of a violent attack by an individual harboring dangerous falsehoods about Jews – falsehoods that continue to exist on the fringes of our society. It is deeply offensive for anyone to suggest that Jewish supporters of gun violence prevention have “forgotten” the history of our people. For a representative of the National Rifle Association, or any organization, to repeat the out-of-touch falsehood linking gun violence prevention to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust is not only an ignorant distortion but is exceedingly dangerous.

The views expressed by Mr. Judy may be directed at the Jewish community, but their effects are harmful to everyone in Washington. The Jewish Federation, which has endorsed Initiative 594, is committed to helping develop solutions that reduce gun violence in Washington State. We hope that the National Rifle Association will demonstrate that it recognizes how damaging these remarks are to that effort.

NRA Spokesman Compares I-594 to Nazi Germany, then Belittles “Jewish People” for Being Anti-Gun

You can always count on the National Rifle Association to raise the level of discourse… to sheer nuttery! For example, at a July 23 “No on 594″ event in Silverdale, WA, NRA spokesman Brian Judy is caught on audio comparing universal gun background checks to Nazi Germany*, before ridiculing Jews like I-594 backer Nick Hanauer for being anti-gun.

“These people,” an exasperated Judy exclaims about anti-gun Jews. Really:

“About 2 weeks ago, Nick Hanauer, the billionaire, contributor to 594, wrote an article in Politico.com. Go home and search Politico.com and Nick Hanauer. He wrote this article, its called “The Pitchforks are Coming . . . for Us Plutocrats.“ So it was an article, it was a letter to all his fellow rich people. And he was saying that the middle class was shrinking, us haves are a smaller and smaller group of people, and soon enough the have-nots, they’re not going to take it anymore and they’re going to come after us plutocrats with pitchforks. And I’m convinced, I saw the article and there’s the answer to my question.

Why does a small group of billionaires want to register handguns? ‘Cause I know where they want to go. I’ve watched these people for 30 years, they want to ban ‘em, but they have to register them first so they know where to get them. And these billionaire plutocrats want to get rid of handguns so when things do go loose that the people only have pitchforks to come after them. [Unintelligible] and they have the guns. And then at the end of this article, I mean it’s staggering to me, because at the end of the article Hanauer talks about his family, and they’re from Germany. They had a pillow manufacturer in Germany. And in one of the last paragraphs he talks about his family being run out of Germany by the Nazis. It’s like [slapping noise; laughter]. How stupid can they – you know? Now he’s funding, he’s put half a million dollars, toward this policy, the same policy that led to his family getting run out or Germany by the Nazis. You know, it’s staggering to me, it’s just, you can’t make this stuff up. That these people, its like any Jewish people I meet who are anti-gun, I think, “are you serious? Do you not remember what happened?” And why did that happen? Because they registered guns and then they took them. And now you’re supporting gun con – you come to this country and you support gun control? Why did you have to flee to this country in the first place? Hello! Is anybody home here? It’s just – I don’t know.

Yeah, yeah, maybe they don’t know. So, but it’s really sad the level of understanding some people have of history and, like they say, if you don’t understand history, you’re doomed to repeat it. And here’s this billionaire, this arrogant, elitist, progressive billionaire who’s, you know, running around Seattle getting all his fellow billionaires to pony up to push this thing.”

Uh-huh.

First, it’s interesting to note that the biggest laugh Judy gets is when he talks about Hanauer’s family being “run out of Germany by the Nazis.” Ha-ha! Because that’s always funny.

I’ll be here all week; try the veal!

Second, to dismiss Judy’s comments as merely clumsy or insensitive, you’d have to ignore the contortions he went through to weave Hanauer’s Jewishness into the narrative. So who is backing I-594? Wealthy Jews, Judy warns the room! Now that’s an anti-semitic dog whistle if I’ve heard one.

Talk about repeating history.

* And FYI, this Nazi gun control myth the NRA loves to repeat? It’s total bullshit. Just in case you had any doubt.

7/28: Open Thread

- Dear the Stay-at-Home Daughters Movement; Even by the standards of purity movement, you are creepsville.

- Dear the guy whose superPAC opposed Congressman DeFazio; Pay your damn taxes.

- Dear anti-abortion groups; I already knew you were awful, but this is low, vile, disgusting and awful even for you.

- Dear Mars Hill; You are gross. Just a reminder.

- Dear murder weapon enthusiasts; You aren’t helping your cause.

- Dear everyone complaining about how there’s a do nothing Congress; No! Have a little look at the important work Dana Rohrabacher is doing!

XOXO,

Carl Ballard

R.I.P. Former Seattle Mayor Paul Schell

Ed Murray’s office just announced the death of former Seattle Mayor Paul Schell:

It is with great sadness that Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announces the passing of Seattle’s 50th mayor, Paul Schell, who served from 1998-2002. Schell died this morning surrounded by family and friends at Swedish Hospital. He was 76 years old.

Schell will be remembered as one of the great city builders of the Pacific Northwest. As a citizen activist, lawyer, director of community development, port commissioner, dean of architecture and mayor he directly shaped the civic infrastructure of Seattle for more than 40 years.

Schell’s greatest professional accomplishment has been the infrastructure that he built and influenced. The first Libraries for All campaign was a brainchild of Schell’s, establishing and building a new downtown library and rebuilding branches throughout the city. He led the effort to fund Seattle’s first parks levy, rebuild the opera house and was instrumental in building the Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle’s City Hall and Justice Center.

Don’t believe I ever met Schell, whose tenure ended before I got involved in local politics. But the libraries are really nice. That alone is an honor-worthy legacy in itself.

HA Bible Study: Ephesians 5:22-24

Ephesians 5:22-24
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Discuss.

Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Thom and Jimmy Dore: Media consolidation.

Stephen: True Blood horror show and Obamacare ruling from D.C. Circuit.

David Pakman: Oregon and Alaska to vote on pot legalization this fall.

Richard Fowler: How the Koch brothers brainwash students.

Bill Maher asks Neil DeGrasse Tyson why Republicans don’t really like him.

Pap and Karen Evans: The House Science Committee’s War on Science:

Young Turks: HBO show mocks Ted Cruz and Texas Republicans.

Gov. OOPS!

Supreme Court: No gurrlz allowed.

Obama: 24 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Matt Binder: The difference between Obama’s response to MH17 and Reagan’s handling of KAL007.

Jon: Murdoch’s offer and a Kickstarter to buy CNN.

Pap and David Hersh: Nullification and Republican Obstructionism.

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

David Pakman: States the increased minimum wage gained more jobs:

Prof. Biden on infrastructure.

Mental Floss: 27 unbelievable local traditions.

Ed: Nutbagger Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is doubling down on being a BIRFER.

ObamaCare in Jeopardy?

Stephen: Nate Silver in a galaxy far, far away….

White House: West Wing Week.

Honest Political Ads: National Security:

Young Turks: Nutcase felon Dinesh D’Souza throws tantrum, cries he’s ‘not a crybaby’.

Thom: Rise of the American Taliban.

Jon: Fareed Zakaria hits McCain for claiming Obama destroyed the world.

Mary Poppins quits (for a living wage).

Pootie-Poot:

Thom and Pap: Why does Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) support child abuse?

Ed with Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA-7): Oily Russia.

David Pakman: Ted Nugent gets a bit racist over his cancellation.

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

Coal Costs

Were you looking for some rambling thoughts on the PSRC’s Evaluation of Regional Impacts for the Proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point? No? Well, you’re here, so you might as well continue.

First we should have a discussion of the study itself:

What this could mean is that the negative impacts of the coal traffic on the region’s commerce could outweigh any benefit from jobs at the terminal itself.

Earlier predictions had already increased expected wait times by 30 minutes to 2 hours and 45 minutes in the region, without the coal, by 2035.

If the terminal is built, rail gates could be closed from 38 minutes to 85 minutes longer than previously predicted on the BNSF Railway line that runs along the I-5 corridors by 2035, this most recent study said.

The study identified 101 rail crossings in the Puget Sound area, 77 of them in cities and towns.

That adds up to quite a lot of time. The study talks about mitigating impacts, but notes that they are expensive. I’d hope first and foremost that BNSF pay for mitigation.. If that doesn’t happen, I would hope it would be done either by the state or by the areas that are most benefiting from the terminal jobs.

The main impacts the study mentions are the traffic and potential land value decreases near the rail. The Environmental Impact Statement should deal with dust and noise more than this study, but I would like to highlight this from the summary:

Environmental Justice Considerations. The potential for impacts to be disproportionately felt by populations that are minority or low income was a criteria used to select at-grade crossings for analysis in the study. An examination of these populations by census tract showed that low income and minority populations in Kent and Seattle would have the highest disproportionate impacts from train operations. Low income and minority populations in Everett, Auburn, Algona, Pacific and Fife could also be impacted by additional trains travelling [sic] to and from the proposed terminal.

Finally, for those interested after the derailment yesterday, the study talks about oil trains, a bit but it isn’t the focus. We won’t have that until October. And obviously, this study won’t deal with that derailment specifically.

Republican Mike Hope Resigns from WA State House after It Is Revealed He’s Registered to Vote in Ohio

Rep. Mike Hope. Really.

Rep. Mike Hope. Really.

Oops:

Republican state Rep. Mike Hope resigned Thursday after it was revealed he’s been registered to vote in two states, Washington and Ohio, since last summer.

… Hope, who last lived in Mill Creek, became a registered voter in Lake County, Ohio, in August 2013 through the state’s motor-voter law. He doesn’t recall doing it and has never voted there.

“I had no idea that I was ever registered somewhere else,” he said. “I had no clue that’s what I did.”

In terms of direct political fallout, it’s no big deal. Hope is not running for reelection this November, so barring a special session between now and then, he’ll never cast another vote. You know, in Washington. Hope, a former Seattle Police officer and Hollywood beefcake hopeful, says he plans to move back to his native Ohio.

But it is kinda amusing that the party that’s constantly pulling its own hair out (I mean, look at Hope) over alleged voter fraud*, is the party constantly being caught doing it.

* Well, in the sense that by registering in Ohio, and not having a permanent home in his own legislative district, and not being an active voter here since 2008, Hope was defrauding voters. But being registered in two places at once? As relatively common as that is, unless one actually votes in both places—which almost never happens—that’s not fraud. Representing a legislative district you don’t live in, that is.

“Good Governance” Went Out the Window With I-747

Seattle Times editorial columnist Thanh Tan raises the issue of “good governance” in regards to Proposition 1:

The Seattle Times opposes Prop 1, and published an editorial Wednesday arguing it is not the only option to save parks. The League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County urge a ‘no’ vote because its members take issue with Prop. 1′s proposed governance model, which replaces the current parks levy with a new taxing district overseen by the Seattle City Council.

The Municipal League of King County recently came out with a ‘yes’ recommendation, though it noted that “as a matter of good governance, parks operations should be funded through the City’s General Fund. The Municipal League believes a YES vote is the best practical measure available for addressing parks funding shortfalls, but is concerned that approving this measure will result in a continued practice of reducing allocations for essential city services from the General Fund.”

And I agree 100 percent! As a matter of good governance, parks operations should be funded through municipal general funds. As should libraries. And basic road maintenance. And affordable housing. And universal preschool. And veteran and human services. And the new juvenile detention center. And so forth.

The problem is, thanks to I-747′s arbitrary and absurd 1 percent annual cap on revenue growth from existing construction, our general fund revenues simply can’t grow commensurate with our needs. As a 2012 report from the Seattle Parks Foundation clearly explains:

Initiative 747 reduced the allowable annual increase in the property tax from 6 percent to 1 percent per year, well below the rate of inflation. Another ballot measure, Initiative 776, restricts counties from collecting vehicle license fees. It should be noted that the voters of Seattle voted against both measures by substantial margins, but they passed statewide and therefore apply in Seattle. As a result of Initiative 747 alone, the City of Seattle’s property tax collections in 2010 are at least $60 million less than if the measure had not passed. The impact of the loss is compounded each year the limits remain in place, so annual losses increase by approximately $15 million per year, meaning that the estimated loss for 2011 will be at least $75 million. This estimate assumes the City Council would have limited the tax increase to the rate of inflation in the City’s labor costs (3.5 percent to 4.5 percent annually, which includes the cost of health care). If one assumes the City Council would have increased property tax to the statutory limit of 6 percent per year, the 2011 loss would be $126 million.

That’s not pro-Park District propaganda. That’s math. And that’s the reason why the city has been forced to increasingly rely on levy “lid lifts” to fund basic services like libraries and parks—not as a matter of good governance but as a matter of last resort.

So the “good governance” argument is bullshit, not because it’s wrong, but because we simply no longer have that option. Tim Eyman (and the feckless cowards in Olympia who reinstated I-747 after the courts tossed it out) have deliberately taken that option away.

The fact is, like the state (if to a lesser extent), Seattle has a structural revenue deficit. The cost of maintaining government services at a constant level largely tracks economic growth, yet our tax system does not. Regular property tax levy growth is bizarrely capped at 1 percent. Year after year, sales tax revenue shrinks as a portion of the overall economy as the sale of goods becomes an ever smaller piece of the economic pie. Yet there are statutory limits on the extent to which we can use special levies to make up the shortfall. A municipal park district would get around that, by allowing the council to pass through to the parks department otherwise untapped taxing authority.

So again, arguing that good governance would dictate that parks be funded through the general fund is like arguing that good environmental stewardship would dictate that we save the carrier pigeon from extinction. Absolutely true. But too damn late.

We need a Metropolitan Park District because that is the taxing authority we have. Vote “Yes” on Prop 1.

“Nobody’s Happy” Is No Justification for Political Compromise

All that other stuff aside, I just have to take a moment to express how much I hate the use of the Nobody’s Happy Scale in defense of political compromise:

[Courtney] Gregoire said the Port understands there is a court case pending, but hopes the court recognizes the Port of Seattle is unique and has a unique authority of the airport and stands by the Ports decision saying she thinks it is a good solution.

“You know you are probably in a good place when some people are saying you didn’t go far enough, and others that say we went too far,” she said.

Because… why? Why exactly is that ever a good place?

Look, I’m enough of a pragmatist to understand that compromise is often necessary, because in politics, compromise is often the only way to get shit done. And maybe that applies here. But this is a metric that confuses the means for the end, inherently elevating compromise as the primary measure of political success. And that’s just fundamentally stupid. Literally slicing the baby in half is an equitable compromise that makes nobody happy, whereas awarding the whole baby to one contesting mother or the other is sure to leave one party totally aggrieved. You tell me, which is the better place?

Furthermore, Gregoire’s use of the Nobody’s Happy Scale is typical in that it is cited without reference to context or proportion. But to say that some people think you “went too far” while others think you “didn’t go far enough”—without ever acknowledging the relative number of people on either side (let alone the credibility of their arguments)—echoes the logic of climate change deniers who routinely cite a handful of scientists in refutation of tens of thousands!

And this isn’t just a semantic nit I’m picking. Rather, it is central to the way the language of political discourse serves to disempower the majority. For in truth, the Sea-Tac minimum wage debate pits just a handful of profitable businesses against thousands of low-wage airport workers—a dozen or so “too fars” versus about 6,000 “not far enoughs.” So, intentional or not, how is Gregoire’s math much different from this?

“If you have the 1 percent saying, ‘Tax the 99 percent,’ and the 99 percent saying, ‘Tax the 1 percent,’ you have a standstill.”
— former WA State Senator Joseph Zarelli (R-Ridgefield), 12/2/2011

Of course, what Gregoire is really attempting to accomplish with this offhand appeal to the Nobody’s Happy Scale, is to establish a claim of neutrality. If nobody’s happy, she is arguing, then you can’t accuse the commissioners of taking sides. But unfortunately, that’s not supported by the facts on the ground.

For if the commissioners were truly neutral, after years of denying they even had the legal authority to impose a minimum wage at the airport, then they would have stayed the hell out of Alaska Airlines’ lawsuit instead of joining it! In fact, given Gregoire’s statement that she hopes the court “recognizes… and stands by the Port’s decision,” it is not unreasonable to view the commissioner’s belated actions with a fair degree of cynicism.

Which is a shame. Because while I question the commissioners’ judgment as well as the language they inartfully chose to defend it, I don’t question their motives. Buried in the supporting documents is the compelling data-driven argument that low wages lead to high turnover which leads to greater security risks at the airport. I wish Gregoire had taken the opportunity to drive that point home as a justification for raising airport wages. And if the other side of the commission’s compromise was equally data-driven, I wish they would have clearly presented those arguments too.

Instead, what we got was the Nobody’s Happy Scale, a compromise for the sake of compromise platitude that can’t help but perpetuate the same profound imbalance of power between labor (the many) and capital (the few) that the SeaTac $15 minimum wage initiative was necessary to address.