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…
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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.

Nine years and fifty one weeks of Drinking Liberally — Seattle


It’s Tuesday, and the Seattle Chapter of Drinking liberally will, once again, meet. As it happens, this meeting is the last week of our ninth year since the inaugural meeting of the Seattle chapter. That’s right…next Tuesday will be the tenth anniversary of the Seattle Chapter of Drinking liberally. That’s a huge number of meetings, and a boat-load of political conversation floating in an ocean of beer.

Please join us. We meet every Tuesday evening 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, Vancouver, WA, and Shelton chapters also meet. The Kent chapter meets on Wednesday. And on Thursday, the Tacoma chapter meets.

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.

Open Thread 2/16

- Senate Republicans unveil pavement-heavy transportation plan laden with bad provisions

– The GOP braintrust is really a thing to behold.

It has been enlightening to watch this entire spectacle play out over the past week. There are now intelligent people going on television to tell us that the president should not use the word “crusade” to describe … The Crusades. The problem is history. Or rather the problem is that there is no version of history that can award the West a stable moral high-ground.

– Pam Roach is the worst.

– I know, I know, Carl is impressed that The New York Times has heard of Washington is pretty boring. But I don’t care: I’m glad they know we’re working on weaning ourselves off of coal.

Sometimes one note will do.

State Senate Dems Should Not Compromise on Sound Transit Taxing Authority

Please, please, Democrats, remember that the Seattle Times editorial board simply cannot be taken seriously:

In a nod to the populous Pierce, King and Snohomish counties, the package also includes authority for Sound Transit to ask voters for up to an estimated $11 billion in new taxes to expand the light-rail system. Advocates say that amount falls $4 million short of their request. This is a time for everyone to compromise.

Oh god, where to start? First, maybe with the fact that the Sound Transit taxing authority in the package falls $4 billion short—billion with a “b”—not $4 “million” as the editors report. Yes, it’s just a typo, I know (or at least I hope), but you’re the editorial page of the largest daily in the state, for chrisakes, so I mean, fuck.

Second, “a nod to the populous Pierce, King and Snohomish counties” … really? You mean a nod to more than half the population of the state? And not a nod, exactly—more like a middle finger. Sound Transit asked for $15 billion in authority, because that’s how much it  figures it needs, and the Republican controlled senate says, “Fuck you, you’ll get $11 billion and thank us for it!” Based on what?

Which brings us to my third point: It’s not their money, and it’s none of their fucking business! We’re not asking for $15 billion. We’re asking for permission to ask local voters for permission to tax themselves to build the transit system they need. It’s not like we’re a fucking welfare queen like Sen. King’s Yakima County, greedily suckling at the state taxpayers’ teat. We here in King County send $1.61 to Olympia for every dollar we get back. All we’re asking for, after subsidizing the rest of the fucking state, is to be allowed to tax ourselves to take care of our own needs for a change. How hard is that?

Now, if this were a fight over which tax to fund the transportation package, or how much to tax, or how those limited tax revenues should be divvied up amongst the 39 counties, then yeah, I suppose we all need to compromise, because the final deal would impact all the voters in the state. A dollar spent here is a dollar that’s not spent there, after all. But that isn’t this fight. This is just envious Republicans outside of the prosperous Puget Sound region intentionally fucking with us, just because. The goal is to set Sound Transit up for failure by forcing it to propose a sales tax heavy package that doesn’t build enough in each subarea to attract a majority of voters. Just like they did to Metro by denying it MVET authority.

So no, this is not a time for everyone to compromise, at least not on this issue. Adequate ST taxing authority should be a precondition of any transportation funding package. Enough of their fucking games. If they want Democrats to take the heat for voting to raise everybody’s gas tax, then they need to give us the local taxing authority we want and need. Period. Otherwise, the senate Republicans should use their precious majority to pass this package themselves.


HA Bible Study: Matthew 5:31-32

Matthew 5:31-32
“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.


Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Mental Floss: Misconceptions from television.

Sam Seder: New PA Gov. suspends death penalty.

John Green: Understanding Boko Haram:

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

The Fog of War:

Jon: FAUX News wants a Muslim King for President.

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

Ann Telnaes: Alabama resists civil rights again.

Young Turks: Senator Inhofe caught using fake photos of Russian invasion to push for military aid.

Climate Change and Denial:

Obama: “Can I live?” The Buzzfeed video.

Young Turks: A woman without an identity.

West House: West Wing Week.

Perpetual War:

Mental Floss: 23 weird awards.

Joe Biden misses his butt buddy?!?

David Pakman: NYC Mayor Calls for $15/hr minimum wage.

Matt Binder: The Crusades were in self-defense?: The bizarre Wingnut historical revisionism.

Jon is Leaving:

Elizabeth Warren preempts GOP on Dodd-Frank rollbacks for large banks.

Young Turks: FAUX News caught reading RNC memo word for word.

Pap with Howard Nations: The IRS is soft on dark money.

Thom: Don’t be fooled…the Koch brothers are NOT social liberals.

Maddow: Dearth of inspectors raises pipeline risks:

Mental Floss: Why is the heart associated with love?

President’s Day: February’s sexiest holiday.

The 2016 Clown Parade:

Thom: Even more Good, Bad, and Very, Very Ugly.

Maddow: Elvis leaves the Mississippi GOP.

Ann Telnaes: A flock of media sheep:

Kimmel: The collective wisdom of Pat Robertson.

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