The Truth No Match for Local Lies on “Death Tax”

Good on Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat for expressing outrage over the way our conservative media transforms right-wing lies into conventional wisdom, “Local facts no match for national fiction on $15 minimum-wage issue“:

Now that the conservative media’s bogus story about the minimum wage killing off Seattle restaurants has been thoroughly debunked, it’s tempting to say the truth won out. That this time, anyway, facts trumped misinformation.

I don’t think so.

But too bad he didn’t express similar outrage when it was his own paper doubling-down on its own thoroughly debunked “death tax” lies—lies that, absent the outrage from respectable journalists like Westneat, are now being read unchallenged into the congressional record.

To be clear, it was great to see Bethany truth needle the $15 lies in the pages of the Seattle Times. But when it comes to fabricating facts to fit their policy agenda, the paper’s editorial board remains as deserving of ridicule and outrage as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. So until it retracts its bogus McBride “family farm” editorial, the paper as an institution really has no moral authority to lambast the national conservative media for playing the same game it plays locally.

HA Bible Study: Matthew 5:34-37

Matthew 5:34-37
But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Fucking discuss, goddammit.

Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

WaPo: Remembering the LAST government shutdown.

Harry Reid thanks (self-certified ophthalmologist) Sen. Rand Paul for eye injury advice.

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

David Pakman: TX Senate approves concealed campus carry gun bill.

Chris Hayes: Seattle revolts against Big Oil Arctic Drilling by Shell.

Sam Seder: This is the Republican base and the GOP presidential hopefuls who created them:

Maddow: Oregon’s top women makes voting EASIER.

Mental Floss: 51 astounding facts about animals.

PsychoSuperMom: Religious freedom (Doesn’t mean the freedom to discriminate).

Sam Seder: Alabama is desperately trying to retard it’s own progress.

Jon: Netanyahu is stealing our election strategies.

David Pakman: Snoop Dog asks fans to divest from gun industry.

Vsauce: The science of awkwardness.

Maher goes after college fraternities.

Republicans Take Another Hostage:

Thom: Climate scientists are fighting back against the fossil fuel industry’s propaganda campaign.

White House: West Wing Week.

Jon: FAUX News and its Benghazi “Rage-gasm”.

Obama fact-checks his critics:

The NRA plan to push guns on campus.

Mental Floss: Why do mosquitoes prefer biting some people to others?

David Pakman: Obama mentions mandatory voting…Republicans’ heads explode.

Peloci is concerned that it isn’t about email.

Sam Seder: FAUX News pundit stuns colleagues by not being a moron.

Thom: How ALEC’s actions are harming our planet.

Maddow: Hillary admits she wants Americans in “camps” (and other crazy things).

Schock and Aaaaaaaawwwwwwww:

Michelle Obama’s message to her younger self.

Mental Floss: Misconceptions about psychology.

Farron Cousins: Inside the secret campaign to destroy workers’ rights.

Thom: The brutal winter that wasn’t.

Sam Seder: As the climate crisis worsens, Republicans want CIA to stop studying it’s threat to security.

Mark Fiore: Shoot-em-up Charlie loves cop killers.

Maddow: Chemical lobbyist exposed as author of new bill to regulate industry:

Race in America:

Chris Hayes: Tesla wins fight to sell cars directly in New Jersey.

Thom and Pap: Email gate…Jeb Bush busted using private email for security issues.

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

Dave Reichert Sucks Up to Blethens, Reads Shameful “Death Tax” Lie into Congressional Record

Rep. Dave Reichert, shilling for the top 0.15 percent!

Rep. Dave Reichert, shilling for the top 0.15 percent!

US Representative Dave Reichert (R-WA8) is widely rumored to be considering a run for governor in 2016. And what better way to prepare for a campaign than to suck up to Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen by repeating his editorial board’s shameless anti-estate tax lies?

In my home state there are numerous examples of the harmful impact of the death tax. In Seattle, permanent relief from the death tax is critical for family-owned businesses like the Seattle Times Company, which is a fourth and fifth-generation family business. And, in my own District, in Issaquah, Washington, last year, a family had to make the difficult choice to sell their farm which had been family run for over 120 years. That is a devastating decision to have to make, and they are not alone in making it.

That was from Reichert’s opening remarks at a March 18 congressional hearing on “The Burden of the Estate Tax on Family Businesses and Farms,” and it is of course a total fucking lie. As I painstakingly documented last August, there is absolutely no way the McBride family was forced to sell the family farm in order to pay either the state or federal estate tax, because 1) Ralph McBride’s property was too small to be subject to either the state or federal estate tax, 2) working farms are entirely exempt from Washington’s estate tax, and 3) the McBride property was not a working farm!

The story is simply not true. In fact, there is zero evidence of a family ever being forced to sell the farm in order to pay off the estate tax, anywhere ever. And yet there goes Reichert, faithfully reading this bullshit into the congressional record.

And this is what makes the Seattle Times’ shameful anti-estate tax lies so pernicious: they have knowingly provided the anecdotal foundation upon which future anti-estate tax lies will be built, all in the service of exacerbating our crisis of grotesque wealth inequality by a repealing a tax that 99.85 percent of estates will never pay.

Civil Liberties Roundup

Recently, the Obama Administration announced that it was applying sanctions against high-ranking Venezuelan officials. Few people deny that Venezuela’s government has committed human rights violations, as I’ve documented some of them in these roundups, but the main outrage over this move comes because of the hyperbole and the hypocrisy that went along with this move:

But the main object of South American ire may be the language leading off Obama’s order. It describes the situation in Venezuela as constituting an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

The U.S. government hasn’t typically described Venezuela as a major security threat. The 2015 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community, released last month by the director of national intelligence, devotes two paragraphs to Venezuela, neither of which describe the country as a threat to the United States.

But a senior U.S. administration official told reporters last week that the use of “national security” language is standard when issuing an executive order to impose sanctions. “Most of the sanctions programs that we have, from Iran to Syria, Burma, across the board, rely on these same types of national emergency declarations,” the official said.

Adam Isacson, senior associate for regional security policy at the human rights nonprofit Washington Office on Latin America, explained that under U.S. law, the executive has to declare a national emergency that threatens national security in order to freeze a foreigner’s assets by executive order.

“It has to look like a big, special thing, if you’re going to do it,” Isacson told The Huffington Post. “That’s why it has that stupid language at the beginning. I think the sanctions themselves are pretty legitimate. The United States has the right to decide who gets to do business and own property here in our country, and we should be limiting the number of human rights abusers who get to do that.”

Isacson also suggested that more people were worthy of sanctions. “Just look at New York and all the condos that are owned by Russian oligarchs,” he said. He noted as well the prevalence of human rights abuses in Mexico and Colombia, countries with which the United States enjoys good diplomatic relations.

So why is Venezuela being singled out here? Why are we so willing to damage relations with the region over a country whose record on human rights isn’t any worse than many other countries we remain strongly allied with?

I think part of the answer comes from a phenomenon that’s really well explained in Lawrence Lessig’s recent book “Republic, Lost”. One of the central insights of that book is about understanding the true nature of corruption in this country. It’s not simply a matter of the wealthy writing big checks in order to get what they want out of our lawmakers and other leaders. It’s about a system that relies on campaign funding and essentially forces lawmakers and others running for office to focus their attention and their efforts on the interests of those who can reciprocate.

The end result is that politicians end up in a bubble where they only hear and understand the issues and concerns of those wealthy enough to gain access to the bubble. This is not a phenomenon limited to either party. Democrats can become as captive to their wealthy interests as Republicans.

But the unique thing about Venezuela is that, unlike many other rights-abusing nations in the world, the victims of Maduro’s left-wing regime are often businessmen. Within the bubble of wealthy interests that politicians reside, this becomes seen as a more serious threat than when a regime targets activists or minorities or the press. In this context, the wealthy view themselves and their interests as the interests of the nation – and politicians follow suit. In reality, Venezuela is no more of a threat to U.S. interests than Saudi Arabia, Israel, or Egypt, but gets treated as if it’s far more threatening.

More stories from the past two weeks…
[Read more…]

Sure! Where Do We Store The Waste?

Senator Sharon Brown has a brand-new idea for power generation. Nuclear something something!

In an era when carbon emissions are becoming a major concern and clean energy is a popular cause, Washington is poised to become a center for the development of one of the greenest technologies around. Clean, safe, abundant, all it needs is a bit of encouragement from the state and a willingness to understand that today’s nuclear power is like nothing before.

First off, I’m glad to see some Republican is acknowledging that carbon emissions are a problem. We may disagree on many things, but at least we can agree that humans are causing global warming. Oh? What? She voted with all but one of her GOP colleagues that we aren’t sure if humans cause global warming.

Also, unless you have some uranium lying around, you’re going to have to mine it. And that isn’t exactly a zero emissions proposition.

Yes, nuclear power. We’ve come a long way since the days of tie-dyed T-shirts and no-nukes concerts and the reactor technology of the 1960s and ‘70s. The new generation of reactor design is safer, simpler and potentially cheaper than anything we have seen to date. Export potential is enormous, to a Third World now electrifying with coal. Washington is uniquely suited to become a center for the development, design and export of this small modular nuclear-reactor technology, and we have a small window of opportunity to establish leadership and make this industry our own.

Export potential? I feel like that’s something to explore a bit. But no. Instead we have more discussion of the fashion sense of the 1960’s than of how that would happen.

Anyway, you could get me on board with one minor amendment. I propose we store the waste in her district. Since it’s so clean or whatever, I’m sure she wouldn’t mind. Or maybe just ask the Feds to deal with it and everything will be fine.

I have sponsored a series of bills in the Legislature this year that demonstrate our interest in this most promising industry. Senate Bill 5113 would require the state Department of Commerce to coordinate and advance the siting and manufacturing of small modular reactors. SB 5093 would establish a nuclear-education program in our high schools. SB 5091 would declare nuclear power a form of alternative energy that qualifies under the state‘s voluntary Green Power program. For those concerned about storage of spent nuclear fuel, we have passed a memorial asking the federal government to develop a nuclear-waste repository, once and for all. These measures all cleared the Senate — some with broad bipartisan support.

Oh cool. The Federal Government through Democratic and Republican governments, for decades and decades hasn’t been able to come up with a good solution. But now we’re asking them to develop a repository and so that’s that solved. PS, can the repository be in Richland?

Small modular nuclear reactors are quite a bit different from the big-reactor designs of the ‘70s. Instead of using a single built-in-place reactor core, they utilize a series of interchangeable and replaceable small reactors. A dozen together might be half the size of one of the big reactors of old. These small reactors use a more modern design with fewer moving parts, reducing risk of failure. And when one reactor goes offline for regular maintenance or repair, other modular reactors at the same facility can take its place and keep up the flow of power.

OK, great. We haven’t exactly solved the waste issue yet.

There are many exciting technologies being proposed. Planning is under way for a first-of-its-kind modular reactor in Idaho that will begin serving the Utah power market within a decade — most likely at the Idaho National Laboratory, with support from Washington’s Energy Northwest. Technology isn’t the holdup — federal and state permitting procedures must be developed, and there is ramp-up time involved in developing facilities capable of producing the required components.

Look, we’ve literally asked the Federal government to do something about nuclear waste, so now we have to hurry.

Now imagine if those manufacturing facilities were located here. Imagine if the next reactor were located at Hanford – Washington’s own nuclear industrial site, adjacent to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the talent base in the Tri-Cities. It could power Hanford’s new glassification plant, where legacy high-level defense waste will be converted to solid-glass form – and that by itself could spare us the need to consume 45,000 gallons of diesel fuel every day.

Hanford: Where nuclear waste was never a problem.

On a national level the states of Oregon, Idaho and Utah are becoming players. Nowhere in that conversation is our state, yet we have the intellectual capital and the resources. It is easy to see the possibilities. Successful companies plan for how to get from point A to point B — Washington should do the same for energy. Nuclear power is poised for a resurgence for economic and environmental reasons, and the question is whether we will seize the opportunity or let it slip away for lack of vision. It is better to lead, instead of looking back 10 years from now saying “woulda, coulda, shoulda.”

Couldawouldashoulda had all that nuclear waste of our very own.

Open Thread (Some Joke)

- I say let bikes and motorcycles run reds all the time.

– The first step of Seattle’s minimum wage hike is going into effect.

Six things to know about Shell’s plan to base its Arctic fleet at the Port of Seattle

In the real world moms carry their newborns around with them. It’s as natural as it gets. And it was charming.

– You guys, stop what you’re doing. They found Cervantes’ tomb! This is not a drill.

– Am I the only person here excited about Overthinking It’s Eurovision coverage? I am? Cool.

Yearly Yeats

So, it’s St. Pat’s again. Here’s Easter 1916. Maybe read it to your friends instead of getting too drunk and yelling outside my building like you do most years no matter if I have to get up or not.

I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

That woman’s days were spent
In ignorant good-will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
What voice more sweet than hers
When, young and beautiful,
She rode to harriers?
This man had kept a school
And rode our wingèd horse;
This other his helper and friend
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,
So sensitive his nature seemed,
So daring and sweet his thought.
This other man I had dreamed
A drunken, vainglorious lout.
He had done most bitter wrong
To some who are near my heart,
Yet I number him in the song;
He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

Hearts with one purpose alone
Through summer and winter seem
Enchanted to a stone
To trouble the living stream.
The horse that comes from the road,
The rider, the birds that range
From cloud to tumbling cloud,
Minute by minute they change;
A shadow of cloud on the stream
Changes minute by minute;
A horse-hoof slides on the brim,
And a horse plashes within it;
The long-legged moor-hens dive,
And hens to moor-cocks call;
Minute by minute they live:
The stone’s in the midst of all.

Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is Heaven’s part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death;
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse—
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

Dori Monson on Restaurant Closures: Lying or Illiterate?

Gotta hand it to my former KIRO radio colleague Dori Monson—he’s never so sure of himself as when he’s absolutely wrong:

Seattle restaurants are closing because of the coming of $15 an hour. … Seattle Magazine had a story about this. Queen Anne’s Grub restaurant closed Feb. 14. Pioneer Square’s Little Uncle shut down Feb. 25. The Boat Street Cafe will close May 30.

The restaurant owners said certainly there are a lot of reasons, but they said that $15 an hour is a major factor in all of this.

Uh-huh. Except, if Dori had actually read the Seattle Magazine piece, he’d know that not a single one of these owners mentioned the minimum wage as a contributing factor toward their restaurant’s closure. Grub’s owner sold out to pursue “future opportunities in this wonderful industry;” a new restaurant will open in its place. Boat Street Cafe’s owner is closing to focus on her three other restaurants and the two new ones she’s opening, while the neighboring Boat Street Kitchen expands into the cafe’s space. And Little Uncle’s owners say they closed because their “Pioneer Square location ultimately does not fit into the goals of our professional life and personal life,”—and are planning to reopen in a new location.

We did not close our Pioneer Square location due to the new minimum wage,” Little Uncle’s Poncharee Kounpungchart told PubliCola.

That’s weird, ha. No, that’s not why I’m closing Boat Street,” owner Renee Erickson told the Seattle Times when asked if her closure had anything to do with the minimum wage. (Yay, Bethany!)

So why isn’t Seattle’s $15 minimum wage a factor? It could be because it hasn’t happened yet! Also, the first step of the phase-in will have very little impact on these restaurants’ bottom line.

Starting April 1, small businesses (and these are all small businesses) will be required to pay tipped workers a minimum wage of $10 an hour. But Washington State’s minimum wage is already $9.47 an hour, so that’s not much of a raise. The ordinance requires a “minimum compensation” of $11 an hour—wage plus tips plus benefits—but most back of house staff at full service restaurants in Seattle already earn more than that. Maybe a few dishwashers will get a small raise. This isn’t restaurant armageddon.

In fact, restaurants close all the time—about 17 percent a year in Washington State, according to the article Dori cited, but obviously didn’t bother to read. And there is no evidence that Seattle restaurants are closing any faster than they normally do.

In any case, correlation doesn’t equal causation. So why Dori, who denies climate science, would find a handful of restaurant closures to be irrefutable proof of the “real world consequences” of a higher minimum wage, seems strange. Unless, of course, Dori couldn’t actually give a shit about the truth.

Drinking Liberally — Seattle

DLBottlePlease join us this evening for a St. Patrick’s Day party peppered with political prognostication at the Seattle Chapter of Drinking Liberally.

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 happening this week. Tonight the Tri-Cities, Vancouver, WA, and Shelton chapters also meet. The Lakewood chapter meets on Wednesday. And on Thursday, the Tacoma chapter meets.

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

Boeing Courageously Defends Workers from Predatory Unions. Or Something.

Because if there’s any company that is dedicated to protecting the best interests of its workers, it’s Boeing:

The Machinists union on Monday asked for an election so about 2,400 Boeing production workers in South Carolina can decide whether they want union representation.

The aeronautics giant immediately responded that a union is not in the best interests of the company, the workers or the state.

Also not in the best interests of Boeing workers, apparently, is keeping their jobs here in Washington State. Or something. But we should trust Boeing management to always do what’s best for their workers.

Republican Presidential Candidate Roundup: Wait, They Said What?

Spring has sprung, birds are singing, and Republican presidential candidates are slinging bullshit all over Iowa and New Hampshire. Here’s an incomplete list of some of the dumbest things that have been said over the last three days or so:

Mike Huckabee: The perennial presidential candidate does not use the diabetes snake oil  “miracle cure” that he’s paid to shill, reports the New York Times. This man is about as unserious as they come, but for some reason he’s treated like a real live human being wherever he goes. How is that?

Scott Walker: The Little Governor That Could got caught spinning a King Arthur-like fable about himself. Walker told a story in which Reagan’s family bible basically flew into his hands, as though he was the chosen successor to Reagan. The curator of the Reagan Library politely begged to differ with Walker’s fabulist take.

Ted Cruz: Speaking in New Hampshire this weekend, Ted Cruz’s toddler-like grasp of politics managed to terrify an actual toddler (starting at 0:34 in the below video):

Cruz’s response to the child makes absolutely no sense. He tells her that her world specifically is on fire, but then he says Republicans will make it “even better.” Even better than totally on fire? Does that mean burned to a cinder or not on fire anymore?

Rand Paul: The youngest living Ron Paul clone did some brand maintenance this weekend . He’s supposed to be the hippest presidential candidate in the game, so he made multiple appearances at Austin’s insufferably hip South By Southwest festival. And, in case you’re not already in awe of Paul’s hipness, he also held a live Twitter Q&A with his adoring public, using the hashtag #RANDSXSW. Here’s one exchange:

Okay, this analogy makes even less sense than Ted Cruz’s attempt to soothe a child by invoking the apocalypse. Using Paul’s own logic, wealthy people would be able to ensure that their packages arrive sooner than yours. Delivery companies would be able to hold your packages ransom until you agreed to pay a last-second delivery fee. The internet is and has always been a utility. If Paul could make an analogy using electricity, I might be willing to listen to him. But he can’t, so he’s going to tie the internet to that classic Republican target, the United States Postal Service. A whole lot of people will buy this dumb analogy on its surface, which is precisely why it’s so dangerous.

Bonus Rand Paul Round: Paul also claimed that he signed the traitorous letter to Iran because he wanted President Obama “to negotiate from a position of strength.” Uh-huh. Meanwhile, Deroy Murdock at National Review‘s Corner blog says nobody should be upset about that Iran letter because it wasn’t actually sent anywhere. It was just published on the internet where anyone can read and re-post it. Or does Iran already suffer from the socialist plague of postal neutrality? No wonder Senator Paul signed the letter!

Jeb Bush: The presumptive next Republican presidential candidate made his first royal tour of New Hampshire over the weekend, and the media loves him, presumably because Bush is granting them access. The press is swooning over Bush, calling him an “anti-Romney” and a “centrist.” Never mind the fact that Bush, who supposedly really cares about income inequality at the moment, claims that he sees “no need for a national increase in the minimum wage,” which should be the first step of any real plan to combat income inequality. Bush is totally a centrist man of the people, because he acts all chummy with the reporters who are assigned to his campaign. He’s the anti-Romney, okay? He just is. Shut up.