Open Thread 10/20

- It turns out SPD officer’s nonsense lawsuit was nonsense.

Guns are a health issue because when people get shot it does all sorts of bad things to their health, like kills them or paralyzes them or, at best, seriously wounds them. Anyway, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy would not be out there confiscating everyone’s guns. Too bad. He tweeted something.

– Here’s hoping the red bus lane on Battery actually works.

GIF-splanation is my favorite new word.

Everything Old Is Nuts Again

– Well, I’m officially looking forward to No Cities to Love.

RIP u(SP)?

I almost wrote this post a couple weeks ago, after it had been pointed out that once-dominant righty blog (un)Sound Politics hadn’t seen a new post since mid-September, and only a handful of posts over the months prior. Now it appears to be totally offline:

RIP u(SP)

Guess that makes me the last man standing.

Ironically, I owe a fair amount of my own blogging success to u(SP) frontman Stefan Sharkansky, who stupidly got into a pissing match with me immediately following the 2004 election and during the bitter, months-long contest over the gubernatorial results. It was u(SP) that dominated the local political blogosphere early on, but by casting me as the enemy Stefan helped elevate HA into the role of the state’s premier liberal blog. And as Stefan gradually revealed himself to be a little bit crazy and a lot bit wrong, it was HA that ultimately rose to a position of influence as u(SP)’s relevance steadily withered away.

Stefan stopped blogging long ago, but not before destroying u(SP)’s last shred of credibility. I’ll miss his online voter registration database. That was useful. But u(SP) hasn’t been much more than a nasty afterthought for years. So good riddance.

Drinking Liberally — Seattle

DLBottleThe ballots have dropped and the mid-term elections are nigh. There are races to discuss, candidates to evaluate, and endorsements to ponder. So please join us tonight for an evening of political ponderance 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.

Can’t make it to Seattle tonight? Check out one of the other DL meetings this week. Tonight the Tri-Cities and Shelton chapters meet. On Wednesday, the Bellingham and Burien chapters meet. And on Thursday, the Woodinville chapter meets.

With 201 chapters of Living Liberally, including seventeen in Washington state, three in Oregon and three in Idaho, chances are excellent there’s a chapter meeting somewhere near you.

IBM Would Rather Spend Its Capital on Stock Buybacks and Dividends than Invest in, You Know, Making Stuff

IBM is paying Abu Dhabi owned GlobalFoundries $1.5 billion to entice it to acquire IBM’s chip manufacturing division. Yes, that’s right—paying $1.5 billion. So how does IBM make money on deals like this? Volume!

IBM has agreed to pay $1.5bn as part of a deal to shed its lossmaking chip manufacturing arm and avoid the billions of dollars in capital spending it was facing to upgrade its manufacturing technology.

To be clear, it’s not like IBM can’t afford the billions of dollars in capital spending necessary to make its chip manufacturing competitive. The company made $18 billion in profits last year. And it would have reported a $4.7 billion profit this quarter (up from $4 billion in the year ago quarter) had it not been for the $4.7 billion pre-tax charge it took to write off its chip foundry business.

So what is IBM doing with all its money? IBM shareholders will receive roughly $4.5 billion in dividends this year. Meanwhile, the company continues to prop up its share price with stock buybacks—$3.7 billion worth this year, and over $50 billion since 2010.

Yet investing in, you know, making stuff, that’s something that IBM executives can’t be bothered to do.

Next time a righty tells you that we need to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy so that they can accumulate the capital necessary to invest in creating jobs, send them a link to this.

Sawant Leads Council with 61 Percent In-District Favorable Rating

Kshama Sawant’s District 3 seat was supposed to be easy pickings in November, 2015. I wouldn’t exactly call it conventional wisdom, but a lot of Democratic establishment types sure seemed to have convinced themselves that the socialist city council member was a wacky, one-hit wonder who voters would quickly tire of. The chamber was preparing to spend big to take her down, and serious candidates like the ACLU’s Alison Holcomb were being recruited. This was going to be easy.

Well, not so fast. As PubliCola reported last week, a new poll by respected firm EMC shows Sawant with some of the highest approval ratings on the council. Citywide, Sawant enjoys a 50 percent “favorable” rating, second only to Nick Licata’s 51 percent. And within her district, Sawant’s favorable stands at a remarkable 61 percent, well above Licata’s 46 percent second place showing.

Critics will point out that at 30 percent citywide and 21 percent within District 3, Sawant also has the highest unfavorable rating. But at 80/82 percent city/district, she also has the highest name ID as well. Voters know Sawant. And despite all the Democratic eye-rolling, they’ve overwhelmingly made up their mind in her favor.

Personally, I was never all that concerned. District 3 was Sawant’s best district in her 2013 at-large victory, and while she might not match the chamber’s war chest, she’d certainly be able to raise the $250,000-plus necessary to get her message out. From everything I’ve heard, Democratic efforts to peel labor support away from Sawant have so far proven fruitless. And of course, everybody continues to underestimate the impressive (and increasingly sophisticated) ground game that Socialist Alternative is putting together. Really.

A lot can change in a year. But there’s an argument to make that at this point in time, Sawant looks like the least vulnerable incumbent of them all.

Open Thread 10/20

- “It’s a joke to think they could ramp up the amount of tankers through our territory and convince us world class systems are in place. We’re scared. We’re scared about what this could mean.”

– (a) Well done Twitter. (b) I really like Keene, NH.

Measure 89 provides equality for the majority of Oregonians (50.5%) who are women and girls.

– I know this post was meant to reassure me that spiders can’t burrow under my skin, but since I hadn’t thought of it as a problem before, I’m still worse for having read it.

– WSDOT is looking for people to write haiku for the ramps to nowhere. I’m more of a fan of Double Dactyl, so here’s my contribution:

Higgledy piggledy,
Interstate 520
Had an idea to make
Another ramp for your car

But if you drive on it,
Uncharacteristically,
For this mode of transit
You won’t go far

You’re welcome?

HA Bible Study: Genesis 4:13-18

Genesis 4:13-18

Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”

But the LORD said to him, “Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod,  east of Eden.

Cain lay with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch. To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad was the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael was the father of Methushael, and Methushael was the father of Lamech.

Discuss.

Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Mark Fiore: Voter fraud vigilantes.

White House: West Wing Week.

David Pakman: Huckabee threatens to leave Republicans over gay marriage.

Bizarre Rick Scott’s Fan Fobia:

Ann Telnaes: The thrill of feeding the war machine.

David Pakman: Jobless claims drop to lowest level in 14 years. THANKS OBAMA!

Stephen: Party like it’s Iraq in 2003.

Young Turks: The 2014 Miss Hitler contest.

Pap: Obama goes after corporate hyenas.

Thom: A red state privatization horror story.

350.org: Global power shift.

Ebola Bully:

Sam Seder: Nikki Hailey bizarre defense of Confederate flag.

SCTV: White People with Opinions:

Jonathan Mann: What’s going on in San Francisco.

Puppet Nation: News of the week.

David Pakman: $5.7 BILLION drop in hospital uncompensated care costs due to ObamaCare.

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

Mental Floss: 30 Unusual Wills.

Sam Seder: The most amazing and underreported lie of 2014, brought to you by Mitch McConnell.

Columbus Day…or Not:

Honest Gil goes to Brushy Fork.

Chris Hayes: Pentagon declares climate change a risk.

Stephen schools Sean Hannity on how REAL MEN work out.

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

Second Chances Don’t Mean You Love Crime

This is a little old, but State Senator Mike Padden is writing nonsense in the Spokesman-Review.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s justice reinvestment task force has met just twice and has until December to produce its recommendations. Already, however, there are signals that it may propose easing up on prison time for drug and nonviolent property offenders as a way to save money and delay building a new state prison. Some outside commentators have called that a “smart-on-crime” approach.

The executive order to form the task force was only signed in June. Then it takes some time to get everything together. They’ve also had another meeting since this was published, that presumably Padden knew was on the agenda.

The task force was created in June through a federal-level initiative that is supposed to take a data-driven approach to increasing and reinvesting in public safety. Yet the data I have, as Senate Law and Justice Committee chairman, fail to support the notion that putting more burglars on community supervision will do much – except put them in a better position to reoffend.

Keeping people in jail for low level property crimes seems like an excellent way to integrate them back into society. Also, are we deriding the very notion of data driven approaches?

“Facts are stubborn things,” John Adams once said. Here are three facts that cannot be ignored:

There was really no value added in quoting Adams there. The guy who signed the Alien and Sedition Acts likes facts. Here are some context free facts about prison in Washington:

First, reports of crimes and arrests have declined across Washington. Since 1990, the state’s population is up 40 percent, yet arrests are down 18 percent, and overall crime is down 10 percent. Washington’s incarceration rate is almost one-half the national average, and its property and violent crime rates have fallen one-third or more in about 10 years. There is no reason to believe these trends will not continue.

So less crime means we need to get tougher on criminals? It’s solid thinking right there.

And not for nothing, but we started doing adult drug courts in 2003 as one way of of moving away from mass incarceration. I’m sure whoever the equivalent of Senator Padden then was complaining about mollycoddling criminals and addicts. But while correlation doesn’t equal causation — and of course there are multiple causes for anything as complex as changes in prison population — I would posit that that’s a more reasonable explanation for a decline in crime in that time than harsh penalties.

The root cause of overcrowding at state correctional institutions is not the number of inmates but a lack of bed space that coincides with the state’s closure of not one, not two, but three prisons in recent years.

How we would pay for keeping more prisons open with the recent spate of austerity budgets pushed for by the GOP is left to the reader’s imagination.

Second, Washington’s prison population contains a large number of serious criminals. Almost 5,000 of those in prison as of June 30, 2014 – or 28 percent of the total prison population – were there for crimes of seriousness level 11 or higher. Level 16 is for prisoners serving life sentences or on death row; levels 11 and 12 include first- and second-degree rape, rape of a child, and intentional assaults causing great bodily harm.

I thought this article was about “drug and nonviolent property offenders.” Now we’re talking about the quarter or so of offenders that are in prison for serious crimes? How you deal with addiction (or for that matter people relaxing after work or however else non-addictively they use drugs) and petty theft should probably be different from how you deal with more serious crimes.

More than one-half of those admitted to prison in 2013 served time at least once before, and more than 40 percent of those admitted were convicted of crimes against persons. While less than one-third were property offenders, even 40 percent of them had prior violent offenses.

There’s no discussion in this if going to prison as opposed to committing those crimes is the cause of future crimes or escalation. But maybe don’t put how Washington’s prisons aren’t doing a good job of rehabilitating people into your article about how we need to send more people to prison for longer in Washington.

I suspect these statistics, which came from the task force, understate the dangerous nature of Washington’s prison population. For example, the governor’s group categorized certain burglaries as “nonviolent” offenses. Either way, even the task-force members would be hard-pressed to deny that earning a prison sentence in Washington means committing a lot of serious crimes. That’s how it should be, which is exactly why trading prison sentences for community supervision is no way to increase public safety.

Well it depends on the crime.

Finally, reducing punishment doesn’t reduce crime. Property offenses are the least-punished offenses in Washington, so this year I introduced legislation to increase sentences for habitual property offenders. In public testimony on this bill, law enforcement and lawyers told of offenders with 50 or more prior property crimes who don’t face prison time until after a dozen or more felony convictions. We heard similar accounts at the Senate Law and Justice Committee’s Oct. 3 work session in Spokane Valley – an area that is no stranger to property crime. In such cases, who is looking out for the victims?

I’m sorry, but if someone is committing 50 property crimes and not getting punished for it, they aren’t serious crimes. Or they’re like children or there’s some other mitigating factor.

Some argue that increasing supervision after prison will reduce recidivism. I am not persuaded, especially given a recent Freedom Foundation report that uncovered serious problems with home detention and electronic monitoring in our state, including a lack of adequate service and timely notifications to law enforcement. What’s to discourage a burglar from stealing if being caught is unlikely to mean prison or even effective community supervision?

So instead of having a bill to make supervision work better, Senator Padden decided to introduce legislation for throwing people into prison.

Benjamin Franklin once wrote that “pardoning the bad is injuring the good.” While releasing certain offenders may save money in the short run, doing so stands to hurt the people of Washington in the long run – and in more than their pocketbooks.

That quote is better than the Adams one, but I’d still ax it. Anything you want to say can probably be said better without it. Anyway, congrats on having a copy of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations and/or having memorized two vague quotes from Founding Fathers.

Open Thread 10/16

- I haven’t read it yet, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t link to The Stranger’s endorsements.

These reframes of the criminal justice system are good because they focus on the prevention of trauma rather than punishing things after the fact. But there is still a long way to go before we live in a world where women’s bodies aren’t commodified, exploited, and victimized.

– How do we deal with the idea of the mom taxi for people living car free?

Pregnant Texans Are Being Charged With Crimes That Don’t Exist

What’s Up Seattle?

No

A Hoquiam High School football player has been accused of raping two women. You’ll notice the story isn’t former high school football player, because he’s still on the team.

Two women came forward this summer and accused Smith of rape.

One, a former girlfriend, said Smith forced himself upon her when she was 16 in December 2012.

The second accuser, an 18-year-old girl, was described by prosecutors as an acquaintance from Facebook.

In both cases, the accusers said they told Smith to stop and repeatedly said “no” when he made sexual advances.

According to court documents, Smith admitted one of the women was saying “no,” but the detective said Smith told him he “thought she was saying no for pleasure and not to stop having sex.”

Innocent until proven guilty is an important thing in our laws and in society, and it should be respected. But when two different women say he raped them, and when he admits to going forward after one of them said no, kick him off the football team, at the very least.

Open Thread 10/14

- There is still a lot of work, of course. But I think it’s fair to say public pressure on Cherry Point (and legit safety concerns) have produced quite a victory.

– I’m also mostly of the opinion that the ACA is a great accomplishment. Even if I would have preferred a public option or just single payer.

The Whiteness Project: Good Luck with That

– I realize a claim is not definitive proof, but Rosalind Brazel deserves to have her claims taken seriously.

What women like Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn, Brianna Wu, Adria Richards, Kathy Sierra, and others have gone through, and continue to go through, all for having the unmitigated temerity to be women in gaming and tech, is incredible. And reprehensible. And shameful beyond description. And harmful.

– Congrats to Alaska gay couples, and supporters of the same.

– I keep passing the Pronto Cycle booths. I can’t wait to try it out.

It’s a Good Thing Really Rich People Care About Ebola, or Else We’d Be Totally Helpless!

Hooray for really rich people!

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are donating $25 million to the CDC Foundation to help address the Ebola epidemic.

The money will be used by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Ebola response effort in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and elsewhere in the world where Ebola is a threat, the foundation said Tuesday.

The grant follows a $9 million donation made by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen last month. Zuckerberg and Chan are making the grant from their fund at the nonprofit Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Sure, the money is great and all. So thanks. But… um… we’re the United States of America! We put a man on the fucking moon! (Actually, 12 men!) So you’d think the CDC would have the financial resources to adequately address the Ebola threat without begging for money from billionaires!

Seriously, America! How about taxing the super wealthy sufficient to meet our national needs, instead of just kinda hoping they care enough to gift us money when and if they think we really need it? Wouldn’t that be a much more rational way to run a government?

Drinking Liberally — Seattle

DLBottlePlease join us tonight for some more political punditry and electoral prognostication 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.

Can’t make it to Seattle? Check out another Washington state chapter of Drinking Liberally over the next week. The Tri-Cities, Vancouver, WA, and Redmond chapters also meet on Tuesday. The Lakewood chapter meets this Wednesday. On Thursday, the Tacoma chapter meets. And next Monday, the Aberdeen, Yakima and Olympia chapters meet.

With 201 chapters of Living Liberally, including seventeen in Washington state, three in Oregon and three in Idaho, chances are excellent there’s a chapter meeting somewhere near you.