Open Thread 8/17

- Any time is the right time to disrupt white supremacy: Thoughts on Westlake, historical legacies and supporting Black women [h/t]

RIP Julian Bond

– I’m pretty excited about the upcoming Park(ing) Day

– I like Bernie Sanders, and may vote for him, but his fans really need to understand that one presidential candidate isn’t the end all be all to make change.

Was the American Civil War about slavery? Short answer: yes. Long answer: yes.

I’d say that Singaporean transit is every US lefty urban planner’s dream come true, but that isn’t quite accurate. Their wildest dreams fall far short of the Singaporean reality.

Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Roll Call: Congressional Hits and Misses…Best of Ted Poe.

Young Turks: FAUX News has zero journalistic integrity.

Coke-backed study says drinking soda isn’t bad for you.

“Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran”:

King Crockduck: Helping Hovind to understand the speed of light.

White House: West Wing Week.

Young Turks: Ted Nugent talks about getting naked and masturbating to Megyn Kelly:

Veterans for Peace want to end all wars.

Thom: Why is Shell dumping ALEC?

Mental Floss: 22 bizarre conspiracy theories.

The 2016 Clown Parade

Red State Update: Bernie Sanders v Black Lives Matter, Trump v Fox.

Mental Floss: Misconceptions about things that kill you.

Young Turks: FAUX News reacts to announcement that Jimmy Carter has cancer.

David Pakman: It is getting difficult to ignore that ObamaCare is really working.

How to be water self-sufficient.

Thom: The Good, The Bad, And the Very Very Iscarioticly Ugly!

Democratic Plan for College Students:

Liberal Viewer: FAUX News says California is breaking bad.

NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake explains how the government violates our privacy.

Happy Birthday Social Security:

Young Turks: John Kerry raises US flag at Cuban embassy (and some Wingding heads explode).

David Pakman: EPA is responsible for Colorado’s yellow river.

Mental Floss: Why are there silent letters in English words?

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

God Forbid Seattle Allow Awful Row Houses Like This

Elfreth's Alley

There’s a 3-story, 1,200 sq ft, 275-year-old charmer for sale on Philadelphia’s Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest continuously inhabited residential street in America.

Every time I return to my native Philadelphia I’m reminded of how small Seattle is, and I don’t just mean square miles or population.

With about 65 percent of its land devoted to single-family detached housing, most of Seattle doesn’t feel like a city at all, but rather a mature inner ring suburb. The remainder of Seattle is actually pretty dense—probably denser than most of Philadelphia—but the housing choices are limited: mostly high-rise apartments and condos or those non-descript 5-story blocks that are busy making every urban neighborhood in Seattle look like every other. Missing are the brownstones and row houses and mixed-use neighborhoods that give older cities—from Umbrian hill towns to megalopolises like Philadelphia and New York City—so much of their livability and charm.

What really makes Seattle feel small to me is the lack of choice.

I’m not one of those free-market extremists who wants to do away with single-family detached zoning entirely; the Seattle bungalow is an integral part of the city’s character. And that’s a character worth preserving (even if we’re only preserving it for the relatively well off). But we do need to be more open to different kinds of housing, and that will require being more open to rezoning at least some single-family land. We need to be open to experimentation. We even need to be willing to make mistakes.

And we need to acknowledge that some of the most desirable urban settings in the world were built long before the arrival of the automobile, and have refused to fully accommodate it to this day.

To be clear, I don’t want to turn Seattle into New York or Philadelphia. There’s a lot that’s gone terribly wrong with these cities. But there’s also a lot that Seattle could learn from the things that these older, denser, bigger cities do right.

The State Supreme Court needs to make it hurt

It isn’t very surprising. Today the Washington State Supreme Court issued a unanimous order finding that the Washington legislature has failed in it duty to fund basic education. The Court has ordered them to pay $100,000 a day as sanctions:

Despite repeated opportunities to comply with the court’s order to provide an implementation plan, the State has not shown how it will achieve full funding of all elements of basic education by 2018.

The only catch is that “the fines will be held in an account to help pay for basic education until the contempt order is lifted.” So, really, this is a pretty toothless order that will cause some hand-wringing along with another special session. Essentially, the Supreme Court has issued a third “shot across the bow.”

It’s too bad because it gives the legislature additional opportunity to fail. (And we all know WHY they are failing.)

The Court should just end this: find individual legislators in contempt of court and give them a date, like October 1, to show up to serve a jail sentence that would continue through January 10th (the day before the start of the new session). Unless, of course, they come up with a solid plan before October 1.

Drinking Liberally — Seattle

DLBottleThere are plenty of things to talk about in politics besides Donald Trump. No, really…I mean it. So please join us for an evening of alternative political conversation over a cocktail at the Seattle Chapter of Drinking liberally.

We meet 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 on Tuesday night? Check out one of the other DL meetings this week. The Tri-Cities and Redmond chapters also meet tonight. On Wednesday the Bellingham chapter meets. The Bremerton, Spokane, and Kent chapters meet on Thursday. And next Monday, the Aberdeen and Yakima chapters meet.

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.

Perhaps We Wouldn’t Have a Teacher Shortage If We Didn’t Treat Teachers Like Shit?

Huh. Can’t help but wonder if this:

Across the country, districts are struggling with shortages of teachers, particularly in math, science and special education — a result of the layoffs of the recession years combined with an improving economy in which fewer people are training to be teachers.

… has anything to do with this:

Righties constantly lecture me about the virtue of markets in efficiently allocating scarce resources: if there’s a shortage of apples the price will rise, prompting farmers to grow more apples, until supply eventually meets demand, and all that. And yet oddly, not once in this article about the scarcity of teachers does anybody ever mention the idea of paying teachers more money. Weird, right?

My mother was a school teacher, but if my own daughter came to me and said she wanted to be a teacher too, I’d do everything I could to talk her out of it. Because why would I want my daughter to work so hard for so little money and such utter disrespect? No, not disrespect. We don’t just disrespect teachers these days. We vilify them.

You want to attract more great teachers to the profession? Pay them more. And stop threatening to punch them in the face.

[Cross-posted at Civic Skunkworks]

HA Bible Study: Nahum 1:2-8

Nahum 1:2-8
The Lord is a jealous God, filled with vengeance and rage. He takes revenge on all who oppose him and continues to rage against his enemies! The Lord is slow to get angry, but his power is great, and he never lets the guilty go unpunished. He displays his power in the whirlwind and the storm. The billowing clouds are the dust beneath his feet. At his command the oceans dry up, and the rivers disappear. The lush pastures of Bashan and Carmel fade, and the green forests of Lebanon wither. In his presence the mountains quake, and the hills melt away; the earth trembles, and its people are destroyed. Who can stand before his fierce anger? Who can survive his burning fury? His rage blazes forth like fire, and the mountains crumble to dust in his presence. The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him. But he will sweep away his enemies in an overwhelming flood. He will pursue his foes into the darkness of night.


Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Richard Fowler: A Big Mac would go up by $0.17 more with a $15 minimum wage.

Young Turks: Texas voter suppression law struck down.

Scenes from the Republican War on Women:

Mark Fiore: Trophy hunting and you

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

Pap: Peddling fear brings in millions for Republicans.

Young Turks: Big win for animal rights activists.

Congressional Hits and Misses of the week.

The 2016 Clown Show:

Mike Papantonio and Farron Cousins: TX Attorney General turns himself in.

Barely Productions: Uber meets Tinder.

Mental Floss: Misconceptions about illegal drugs (and marijuana).

Lawrence O’Donnell: Reagan lies about Medicare.

White House: West Wing Week.

NRA CEO proves that being shot doesn’t hurt.


Young Turks: Do Democrats handle the economy better than Republicans? (Spoiler alert: yes).

Obama: Voting Rights Act 50th Anniversary.

The debate question every candidate should be asked.

Mental Floss: 25 historic heists.

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

Civil Liberties Roundup

The anti-choice movement in America has a long history of violence, radical extremism, and hypocrisy. Over the years, GOP politicians and the media have nurtured this dysfunction, giving it support above and beyond the small group of religious extremists for whom this cause has been central to their political outlook for decades. At its core, however, the anti-choice movement is a thinly-veiled attempt to shame and punish women for their moral choices by trying to dictate their medical decisions. It’s the closest thing American Christianity has to the notion of Sharia Law, and it remains an embarrassment to this nation that we continue to take it seriously.

So when the recent videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood engaging in illegal activity surfaced, I didn’t even pay attention. The history of the anti-choice movement very clearly pointed to the likelihood that these videos were selectively edited and dishonestly presented. But after about a week, I decided that just because someone was bullshitting me the last 200 times, maybe they’re on to something in the 201st. So I took a deep dive into the controversy.

Nope, still full of shit. And maybe even more ridiculous than they’ve ever been.

The videos purport to show Planned Parenthood employees engaging in the sale of discarded fetuses for profit. This sounds like a horrible thing and one that could lead to perverse incentives on the part of an abortion provider. But it’s total nonsense. Instead, Planned Parenthood is simply taking advantage of a law (passed by many anti-choice Republicans!) that allows women to donate an aborted fetus for scientific research and allows abortion providers to charge for the costs of preserving and delivering the cells without making a profit.

Even beyond the basic level of idiocy involved here, the tax dollars that the anti-choice extremists want to strip from Planned Parenthood don’t even go to abortions in the first place (that’s actually illegal). They go towards a wide variety of women’s health care and contraception efforts, many of which make a huge difference in reducing the number of abortions that occur. So if your goal is to eliminate abortion, it would be difficult to conjure up a more counterproductive way to do it than what these lunatics are demanding in the name of eliminating abortion.

News from the last two weeks…
[Read more…]

The Trump Debate Open Thread

Hey…tonight is the first episode of the Trump-man show. So have at it in the thread below.

I wonder if FAUX News picked 6 Aug on purpose? Today is the anniversary of the day that President Bush was vacationing in Texas and was given a Presidential Daily Briefing that was titled, “Bin Laden determined to strike in the United States.” This memo came on the heels of numerous other warnings in the national security apparatus (as determined by the 9/11 Commission). Maybe they can discuss this along with any discussion of national security tonight….

Seattle Times Editorial Board Comes Out Against Changing Any Law Ever

By all means, the Seattle Times editorial board should feel free to argue that “rent control is not the answer for Seattle.” I look forward to a robust and informed debate on the issue. But they don’t. Rather, the editors insist that council members and candidates simply “should stop talking about rent control.”

I dunno, seems odd for an op-ed page to advocate for less opinion and editorials. But whatever. For the thing I really find silly in this op-ed is the second clause of their headline: “Rent control is not the answer for Seattle, and is illegal.”

Really? We should stop talking about rent control because it is illegal? You know what else until recently used to be illegal? Marijuana. Same-sex marriage. Charter schools. Private liquor stores. That’s the whole point of talking about rent control—it’s a conversation about changing the law! 

Look, I can’t really say whether I support or oppose rent control, because I haven’t actually seen a specific proposal. Would I prefer to avoid price controls? Sure. They’re messy. But might a cap of some multiple of inflation prove useful as a temporary complement to a comprehensive affordable housing program aimed at dramatically increasing supply? Maybe. I welcome that debate. And so should all serious parties.

After all, if rent control is such an awful idea then the editors have nothing to fear, right?


It Was a Good Primary Night for Goldy

The most elite members of Seattle's political press corps hard at work covering primary night.

The most elite members of Seattle’s political press corps hard at work covering primary night.

So I’m mostly out of the the electoral politics coverage business (praise the lord), but I couldn’t let yesterday’s primary results pass without a few quick and triumphal comments. Don’t know how one could spin it any other way, but it was a really big night for Kshama Sawant and the people and issues she represents. And it had to be a disappointment for her establishment opponents.

August primaries are typically low turnout affairs, with older more conservative voters disproportionately represented in the electorate. And yet Sawant still managed to capture 49.9 percent of the vote in a four-way race, and likely a few more points than that once the late ballots are tallied. That bodes awfully damn well for her with the much larger, younger, more left-leaning November electorate.

To be honest, these results were so far at the far high-end of my expectations that I broke into celebratory expletives when the ballots dropped. Of course, there’s still a lot of work that remains to be done; it’s still likely to be the most expensive city council race in Seattle history (by far), and that money buys you something. But Sawant and her campaign have once again demonstrated the effectiveness of grassroots organizing in local elections as well as the power of bluntly lefty message.

(And yes, I take more than a little pleasure watching the Trotskyists beat back an assault from the chamber-funded political establishment.)

As for the rest of the races, everybody I voted for or donated money to appears to have gotten through to the general election. And they weren’t all sure things to make the top two.

In the 4th district, kajillion-term incumbent Jean Godden looks to be coming in third behind Rob Johnson and Michael Maddux. It’s a shame she couldn’t retire more gracefully, but that was as much her choice as the voters’. And for the at-large position 8, tenants rights activist Jonathan Grant beat the better funded and better known John Roderick for the right to challenge council president Tim Burgess in the general. Building on what I wrote yesterday, Grant’s win along with Sawant’s robust results suggest that the affordable housing debate is resonating strongly with average voters.

Also, lifelong elections professional Julie Wise kicked ass against two politicians in the race for King County Director of Elections. So I’ve got no complaints from last night’s results. It was a happy primary election night for me.

Turnout, Turnout, Turnout!

Despite all the reports of low turnout, it looks to me like it’s going to be pretty normal for an odd-year primary—north of 30 percent, at least here in Seattle. But to be honest, I’m not sure what to make of the turnout disparity in the Seattle City Council races, where District 3 (let’s be honest, Sawant vs Banks) is proving an outlier with 20 percent turnout by the end of Monday compared to about 16 percent turnout citywide.

Publicola thinks it bodes well for Sawant, and I’d love to agree. But I really can’t say. It could be an indication that Sawant’s base—younger more lefty voters—are turning out earlier and in greater numbers than usual. Or it could be that it’s the older, wealthier, and more reliably voting Sawant-haters who are turning out in force.

Either way, there’s every reason to suspect the late ballots to trend young and lefty, so if these aren’t Sawant voters swelling the early ballot returns, expect a hard swing in her favor as the tally trickles in over the next week. Sawant closed a 7.5 point election night gap during the 2013 general, so the final primary results could look very different than tonight’s 8:15 drop.

As for the other races, the contest I think could be a bellwether of the mood of the electorate is the battle between John Roderick and Jonathan Grant for the right to challenge City Council President Tim Burgess. In a normal year, the affable, well-spoken, and well-funded Roderick should come in an easy second. But Grant has clearly positioned himself as the champion of beleaguered Seattle renters. If the under-funded Grant manages to edge out Roderick for the second slot on the November ballot, that’ll be a clear sign that affordable housing is resonating as the dominant issue with voters citywide.

All that said, other than determining the composition of the November ballot, I’m going to try to resist reading too much into the primary results (and I’m certainly going to be cautious about predicting anything from tonight’s lone 8:15 pm ballot drop). November will be a very different (and much larger) electorate than August.

Oh… and if you haven’t already, vote, goddammit!