Ten Years of the Seattle Chapter of Drinking Liberally

DLBottleThe Seattle Chapter of Drinking liberally turns 10 years old this Tuesday. Please join us in our celebration. There are rumors that founding hosts Nick and Lee will make an appearance. I’ll be handing out copies of “Drinking Liberally: 10 Years In Poetry.” There will be food. There will be drinks. There will be conversation. Will you be there?

We meet every Tuesday evening—birthday or not—at the Roanoke Park Place Tavern, 2409 10th Ave E, Seattle. Our starting time is 8:00 pm, but some folks stop by earlier for dinner.

Can’t make it to Seattle tonight? Check out one of the other DL meetings this week. Tonight the Tri-Cities chapter also meets. On Wednesday, the Bellingham and Burien chapters meet. The Woodinville, Kent, and Spokane chapters meet on Thursday. And next Monday, the Yakima and South Bellevue chapters meet.

There are 189 chapters of Living Liberally, including seventeen in Washington state, four in Oregon and two in Idaho. Chances are excellent there’s a chapter meeting somewhere near you.

Quick, Seattle Times: Hire Paul Constant!

I’ve no idea whether or not I agree with this Seattle Times editorial, because I just can’t get past this sentence:

After a hard-fought compromise that took months to broker, Mayor Ed Murray announced a compromise last summer.

Do you mean he announced a different compromise than the hard-fought one that took months to broker, or does somebody need to buy you a goddamn thesaurus? Jesus… doesn’t anybody edit the editors?

But you know who wouldn’t write a crappy sentence like this? Paul Constant! And great news for you, Seattle Times, he’s available, now that he’s the latest in a string of talented writers (and me!) to leave The Stranger over the past year.

So quick, hire Paul and give him a column before you print another sucky sentence like that again.

UPDATE: And by the way, Stranger, really? You couldn’t give Paul a goodbye post? I don’t know anybody who has written there who wasn’t grateful for the opportunity, but the way you just disappear us without comment is, well, childish. Paul deserved better than that.

5 Ways ShiftWA Reminds Us of Hitler

Corporate-funded, right-wing Republican smear site ShiftWA has a post up titled “5 ways Kitzhaber reminds us of Inslee.” (Hint: Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and Oregon’s disgraced governor both have strong environmental records. Horrors!)

Huh. Well, two can play at this bullshit random-association buzzfeedification of Washington politics game:

5 ways ShiftWA reminds us of Hitler

  1. They both have the letters “h,” “i,” and “t” in their name. (Spooky!)
  2. They both have ties to the Bush family.
  3. They both hate gay people.
  4. They both are funded by the Koch brothers.
  5. They both are shameless, lying propagandists.

I could have gone on and on. But, you know, this is the Internet, and attention spans are short.

Coming up next: “5 ways Freedom Foundation CEO Tom McCabe reminds us of the angry pool of tar in Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 1, Episode 23.”

Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Mental Floss: Why does asparagus make your pee smell?.

Global Divestment Day: 2015.

Sam Seder and Cliff Schecter: The GOP civil war brewing between House and Senate Republicans.

Pap and David Pakman: The progressive solution to the student loan crisis.

Eight people who have accomplished more than you at every age.

America’s Racist Mayor:

Roll Call: Congressional hits and misses—Chuck Schumer edition.

Richard Fowler: Republican lawmaker wants to own women’s uteri.

To prison for poverty.

Sam Seder and Cliff Schecter: The wheels are falling off the Republican clown car.

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

Pap and Howard Nations: GOP mad scientists create a disaster.

Climate change elevator pitch: Ken Calderia.

2016 Clown Parade:

Mental Floss: Misconceptions from the internet.

David Pakman: Republicans about to go Benghazi on net neutrality.

Young Turks: Mother Jones catches Bill O’Reilly lying about Falkland Island War coverage:

Sam Seder: Watch this anti-net neutrality ad accidentally backfire on their message.

White House: West Wing Week.

Thom: Does the GOP want to starve poor people?

War Without End, Amen:

Obama’s lunar new year message.

Kimmel: The week in unnecessary censorship.

Young Turks: Judging Rush Limbaugh’s statements about Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

Lawrence O’Donnell: Was TX judge blocking executive order even legal?

David Pakman: Conservative convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza calls Obama ‘ghetto’.

Mental Floss: 80 facts about the 1980s.

Thom with more Good, Bad, and Very, Very Ugly.

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

Civil Liberties Roundup

In a recent article at Vox, Dara Lind and German Lopez looked at the various theories for why crime has declined so much over the past two decades, based on a recent report from the Brennan Center for Justice. One of the commonly accepted explanations is the trend in “broken windows” policing, the idea that aggressively focusing on smaller quality-of-life crimes lowers the incidence of crime overall. In looking at the evidence, however, they conclude:

The bottom line: Too difficult to tell. Ultimately, different departments define “broken-windows policing” differently and implement it in different ways — and, again, often alongside other changes. It’s true it’s hard to tell why crime declines in cities, but that applies to broken-windows policing as much as it applies to other macro explanations.

Furthermore, one of the main proponents of the broken windows success story, Malcolm Gladwell, has started to back away from that conclusion.

The Brennan Center report also comes down hard on the idea that mass incarceration is beneficial for reducing crime.

One thing that characterized both the broken windows and mass incarceration trends is that they were disproportionately used against minority communities. The protests in the second half of 2014 and into this year are a reaction to that. Minority communities feel harassed and victimized by police. Eric Garner’s last words “I Can’t Breathe” struck a chord for many people across the country who’ve dealt with it.

I’ve never bought into the idea that broken windows has any benefit. The idea that you can create order through fear and intimidation is a delusion. The combination of broken windows and mass incarceration with a society where so many little things are criminalized, from jaywalking to selling loose cigarettes to pot possession, inevitably ends up with increased antagonism between the police and the public. We’re now at the point where trying to measure the benefits of these crime prevention strategies needs to be accompanied with efforts to measure their drawbacks.

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

Spokane Police Need To Do Better

In January a trans woman was assaulted in Spokane. It’s pretty horrible stuff, and you can read the details here. It’s pretty unsettling, but the relevant bit for the police is:

Scamahorn said responding officers treated her with disrespect and referred to her as a man throughout their investigation.

One officer said Scamahorn appeared to be intoxicated, but witnesses disagreed, and she said fluid buildup in her throat after the beating made it difficult for her to talk and breathe.

She also said police would not allow the bartender to help her as she lay on the floor in her own blood and vomit.

Now the police have investigated how the police acted and found the police did nothing wrong, and now a Spokane city council member wants the Human Rights Commission to apologize.* For the fact that a trans woman spoke out about her treatment. It’s pretty gross.

But leaving that to one side. Also leave aside the fact that cops claiming an assault victim was drunk seems pretty damn unprofessional on its face. Even if “the police officers on the scene were not acting inappropriately” as Spokane City Council Member Mike Fagan says, the officers certainly left the impression with her that they called her a man and didn’t allow the bartender to help her. It seems like officers should be able to not leave that impression if they’re doing everything right. Of course, I’m more inclined to believe her than the cops, but I haven’t read the report.

And to be clear, they caught the people who did this. That’s probably progress from a few decades ago. But there’s still further to go.

[Read more…]

Note to Republicans: $12 an Hour Is the Compromise

The serious people keep using that word. But I do not think it means what they think it means.

Enter Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, a former Democrat, with what he calls a “grand compromise.”

Miloscia dropped a bill Tuesday, SB 6029, that would scrap local authority to raise the minimum wage — meaning it would nix Seattle’s $15 per hour minimum wage approved last year. Instead, Miloscia’s proposal would index the wage to both urban inflation and personal income growth.

So, um, how exactly is this a “compromise,” grand or otherwise? God I hate it when politicians speak to us like they think we’re morons.

Miloscia and his crowd have already lost the minimum wage debate. Seattle has passed a $15 minimum wage, and polls consistently show that voters overwhelmingly support Democratic efforts to raise the state minimum wage to $12 an hour. In fact, polls show that voters are willing to go much higher—and public support spikes again when we add in paid sick leave! So Miloscia’s proposal that we give all these gains away in exchange for just tweaking the index by which the state minimum wage is already annually adjusted, well, from our perspective, that sounds a lot more like a capitulation than a compromise.

But in the spirit of Miloscia’s creative interpretation of the word, I’d like to respond with a counter offer: How about, if the legislature refuses to raise the state minimum wage to $12  in 2015, we “compromise” by going to the ballot with a measure that raises it to $16 in 2016? Because what Miloscia, his fellow Republicans, and WA’s business establishment need to start wrapping their minds around is that $12 is the compromise. We could get much more than that at polls. So don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Don’t Discriminate, Florists

In a victory for common decency, the Benton County florists who wouldn’t sell to a gay couple for their wedding were in violation of the state’s Consumer Protection Act [h/t]. Here’s the text of the AG’s office press release.

A Benton County Superior Court ruling today held that a Richland florist violated Washington’s Consumer Protection Act by refusing to serve a same-sex couple seeking to buy wedding flowers in 2013.

“The law is clear: If you choose to provide a service to couples of the opposite sex, you must provide the same service to same-sex couples,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said. “Washingtonians have enacted laws recognizing equality for same-sex couples, and I will continue to vigorously uphold these laws. I appreciate the judge’s decision and am very proud of my team’s hard work to stop this unlawful discrimination.”

I haven’t read the whole ruling but it’s here (.pdf)

It’s important that we as a state not just passively don’t discriminate but that we’re actively a place where you can’t discriminate. While the law was quite clear, it’s still good for the couple and good for the state that it was upheld.

Let the Free for All Begin!

Seattle City Council Member Sally Clark announced today that she will not seek reelection:

“After almost 10 years of service to the people of the greatest city in the country, and with tremendous and valued colleagues, it’s time for me to start a new chapter. I will not run for re-election to Seattle City Council this fall.”

The sudden availability of an open at-large seat is sure to create a bit of a commotion. Hmm. Tempting.

UPDATE: Did Mayor Ed Murray just engineer a council coup? Council member Nick Licata didn’t want to run against a colleague, and so he had waited for months for Clark to make up her mind about whether she would run again. Reportedly, Clark eventually told him she would, So Licata announced his retirement. Then today, Clark suddenly announces that she would not seek reelection, and a couple hours later Murray’s legal counsel, M. Lorena González, sends out a prepared press release announcing that she will be seeking Clark’s seat. The timing sure does make it look coordinated.

I don’t know anything about González, perhaps she’s great, and it’s about time Seattle elected its first Hispanic. And nothing against Ed. But I’m not so comfortable about the idea of the mayor attempting to pack the council with allies (and that goes for your continued efforts to recruit a candidate to challenge Kshama, Ed).

Minimum Wage Opponent Joins Crowded District 1 Council Race

Vowing “to end the cycle of career politicians,” West Seattle restaurateur Dave Montoure has jumped into the crowded race for Seattle’s city council District 1. Montoure is the co-owner of West 5, and a former chair of the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce board. He is also a fierce opponent of the $15 minimum wage, having donated $1,000 to Forward Seattle’s doomed and dishonest effort to file a charter amendment that would have repealed Seattle’s historic $15 minimum wage ordinance.

So, yeah, West Seattle—now you know which of the dozen or so candidates in that race not to vote for.

Give Washington Voters the Choice Between a Gas Tax and a Carbon Tax

Normally I’m not a big fan of asking voters to do the legislature’s job, but I’m beginning to think that the transportation funding package currently under negotiation should be an exception. Governor Inslee had creatively proposed  funding transportation improvements with a carbon tax, whereas the Republican-controlled senate prefers a good old fashioned regressive gas tax hike. (Not that most of their members will vote for it—they just want revenue-desperate Democrats to do their dirty work for them.) So why not put that choice before voters?

Whatever sucky transportation package Democrats ultimately sign on to—and it almost certainly will be sucky, because I just don’t believe that Democrats collectively have the balls to stand up in defense of labor, the environment, and transit—should be sent to voters with two options: A) a gas tax hike, or B) a carbon tax. If we really want to take all the partisan ideology out of the debate—as the editorialists disingenuously insist we should—then just let voters decide.

We’re the ones who will be paying the tax, either directly or through higher prices for goods and services from carbon intensive industries. So let us tell legislators which tax we truly prefer. Political problem solved.

But then, Republicans have never much been into solving political problems, so I’m guessing my constructive input will be once again ignored.