Back Underground

It looks like Bertha’s cut cut bits are getting back underground.

Welp, another recovery goal has been met for the broke-down, downtown tunnel boring machine: Bertha’s repaired front end is now reuniting with the rest of its body. Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP), the state’s contractor, started lowering Bertha’s 2,000-ton cutterhead and drive unit into the rescue pit this afternoon—a complex positioning job that will wrap up tomorrow.

Once Bertha’s new facial transplant makes its way into the pit, STP will begin reconnecting all of the machine’s parts and test the monster for two months. These tests consist of a “no load” (read: no soil and water) exam and another exam that will measure how the machine’s cutterhead spins into earth.

It won’t be until November that they finish all the tests, and start it up properly. Now the project is scheduled to finish in early 2018. We’ll see.

Honestly, I was as as opposed to the project as anyone, but we had a vote, and that matters. So as long as the state or the contractor — who whoever that isn’t Seattle really — is paying for it, I wish the project the best. Also, please finish before there’s a major earthquake.

Drinking Liberally — Seattle

DLBottlePlease join us tonight for an evening of political pontification over a pint. An evening of electoral erudition over an elixer! An evening of conservative contraindication over a cocktail!! It’s this week’s edition of 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 tonight? Check out one of the other DL meetings happening this week. Tonight the Tri-Cities chapter also meets. On Wednesday, the Burien chapter meets. The Spokane and Woodinville chapters meet on Thursday.

There are 183 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.

Open Thread, August 24

- Maybe we shouldn’t reward Chuck Schumer for being so wrong on Iran by making him the next Democratic leader.

– Seriously, birthright citizenship is the best, and anyone opposing it is the worst. QED.

– The seawall project is over budget.

– The Breitbart people should be ashamed of themselves. Part something in an infinity series.

And the fact that millions of “pro-life” American Christians have just shown us, yet again, that they prefer this monstrous fantasy to reality — that they cannot tolerate daily life a world that doesn’t include cannibalism and Satanic baby-killers killing babies for Satan.

HA Bible Study: Revelation 18:8-10

Revelation 18:8-10
Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her. And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.


Civil Liberties Roundup

Last weekend at Hempfest, the Sanders campaign had a booth passing out buttons and flyers. Hempfest is probably the only place you’ll ever see an anti-tax protestor in a Bernie t-shirt next to other campaign volunteers.

I stopped by for a bit and chatted with an older volunteer. When it comes to the long battle to reform drug laws, Sanders is better than many politicians, but still not that close to where I think he could and probably should be. As I left, they handed me a homemade printed flyer and I shoved it in my pocket. When I got home, I noticed that the flyer listing out his campaign’s positions had a line saying simply “All Lives Matter”.

This wasn’t official campaign literature, just a small flyer a volunteer made, but it was pretty tone deaf considering what happened about a mile or two from there the weekend before. Saying that ‘All Lives Matter’ in a political sense right now isn’t just some vanilla statement, it’s a response to the millions of African Americans fighting for a level of respect from the police and the criminal justice system that’s afforded to others. Responding with All Lives Matter is an attempt to brush over the fairly substantial gap that exists in how various forms of the government interact with black communities.

Our politics are defined by our fears. The Black Lives Matter movement is a response to the very legitimate fear among African Americans that they’ll become victims of the police or the court system. Many white Sanders supporters recognize that as a legitimate fear, but for most, it’s not the political issue that drives them. Most Sanders supporters are driven by their own fears over an economic system that favors the wealthy and often fails to provide basic economic protections for everyone else. And it’s the latter fear that’s been drawing large crowds to see Bernie, while Black Lives Matter rallies continue to be met with riot gear and spotty media attention.

I have to admit that my first impression after two activists stole the microphone from Bernie Sanders at Westlake was that it was obnoxious. I understand the powerlessness those activists feel when they see more abstract economic issues dominating the political conversation on the left, while the issues that many in their communities face are far more dire and direct. But the reality is, who the fuck cares what I think. It has no bearing on my attitude towards Black Lives Matter. I’ve long been beating this drum. I’m not really the target audience here. I’m not even sure Bernie was the audience that day. The audience was the cross-section of America who doesn’t personally experience the insecurity and fears that black America experiences and who doesn’t really think about it much.

For many of those who’d stood out on a hot Saturday afternoon to see Bernie talk about social security, the disruption of the event was an annoyance. The hope of the activists is that the crowd will weigh their own annoyance against the injustices faced in the black community and come away with some perspective. Does this work? Maybe. But it seems a lot more likely to work at a Bernie Sanders rally than a Donald Trump one.

I’ve been calling this strategy inconvenienceism. I hope someone can think up a better word for it, but that’s the best I’ve come up with. From blocking highways to disrupting public events, this strategy relies on an optimistic take on human nature, that most people have the ability to put aside their own discomfort to think harder about someone else’s. The name is an attempt to draw a contrast between it and terrorism, a strategy that comes from the same pit of powerlessness, but clearly doesn’t work to endear people to your cause.

Does inconveniencism work? It got the Sanders campaign to add a pretty solid racial justice page to their issue list. They hired black activist Symone Sanders and encouraged people to chant “We Stand Together” if there’s another disruption. So it certainly had an impact on the campaign. But does this really translate to better policies down the road? Or will it harden pockets of antagonism within the campaign inner circle and make the hard work of reform even harder?

When I was talking to the volunteer at Bernie’s Hempfest booth, I was tempted to ask him if he ever worried about pot activists disrupting one of his rallies. It was a funny contrast to me. Bernie’s official position isn’t much different from Hillary Clinton’s or even Rand Paul’s. He believes that states should be able to legalize, but hasn’t come out and said that they should. If a group of pot activists grabbed the microphone at one of his events and demanded clear support for legalizing pot across America, how would that play out?

I can’t think of a single instance where drug law reformers of any kind have used inconvenienceism as a tactic in the way that Black Lives Matter has. But maybe that’s why drug law reform has been such a slow process. Perhaps it would’ve sped things up and gotten us to this point sooner. Or maybe it would’ve played into negative stereotypes and hardened opposition. I have no idea. And I don’t think anyone else really does either. It’s a phenomenon that seems extremely difficult to study with any kind of scientific certainty.

My best guess is that it’s mostly a sideshow and has little effect on achieving real reforms. When Hillary Clinton met with Black Lives Matter activists last week, she seemed to echo that belief:

“Look, I don’t believe you change hearts,” Clinton said. “I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate. You’re not going to change every heart. You’re not. But at the end of the day, we could do a whole lot to change some hearts and change some systems and create more opportunities for people who deserve to have them, to live up to their own God-given potential.”

What was understandably frustrating for Black Lives Matter activists is to hear this from someone who has long supported policies that created the crisis in our black communities in the first place, and still seems reluctant to engage in any self-reflection over it. But it highlights the fundamental challenge for this movement and others like it. It’s extremely difficult to get the powerful to fight for the powerless, or even to see the world through their eyes. I think many whites feel that Bernie Sanders can be an exception to that rule. But I don’t think many non-whites do. And I think how that dynamic goes forward will end up deciding the Democratic nomination.

In the news for the past two weeks…
[Read more…]

Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Mark Fiore: The toxic mining law.

Mental Floss: Why do people and animals tilt heads when confused?

Stop Being a Baby When It Comes To Access To Reproductive Health Care :

Julian Bond:

Red State Update: Black Lives Matter and Hillary and Bernie and Mike Huckabee.

Jimmy Carter talks about his cancer.

Congressional Hits and Misses: Steny Hoyer edition.

Young Turks: Will the world end in September?

The Intimate Explainer: Sweet Nothings about the Iran deal.

AT&T Helps NSA Spy on Americans:

Thom: The Good, the Bad – and the Very, Very Matronymicly Ugly!

The Iraq war hawks are back…for Iran.

Maddow: July 2015 was the hottest month ever recorded on planet earth.

Mental Floss: 21 failed inventions.

Mike Papantonio and Farron Cousins: The U.S. burns while Congress fiddles.

The 2016 G.O.P. Circus Show:

Fans want Jon Stewart to moderate a presidential debate.

Richard Fowler: Nutbag Rep. Steve King things you can marry your lawn mower.

Thom: Here are the different rules for Democrats and Republicans.

White House: West Wing Week

Pap and Farron Cousins: Florida’s criminal Governor still stealing trom tax payers.

Mental Floss: Misconceptions about space.

Citizen Zimmerman:

Who funds the anti-immigrant hatred?

College Humor: 31 words that sound like slurs…but aren’t.

A baby seal responds to Shell Oil Drilling in the Arctic.
Last week’s Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza can be found here.

Time to File Recall Petitions Against GOP State Senators Who Call for Defying Supreme Court

Nineteen members of WA’s Republican Senate Caucus (and yes, Tim Sheldon is a member of the Republican caucus) have issued a letter calling on their Democratic colleagues to join them in defying the Washington State Supreme Court over its recent McCleary contempt order. The Senate GOP caucus (the press still dutifully refers to them as the “Majority Coalition Caucus,” but that’s just Orwellian bullshit) goes so far as to cite Abraham Lincoln’s own unconstitutional actions as precedent for their call to follow suit. Really. Personally, that’s not the part of Lincoln’s legacy that I would choose to honor, but I guess that’s what the GOP means these days when it proudly proclaims itself “the party of Lincoln.”

Well, now that these 19 Republicans are on the record in favor of violating the rule of law, it’s time for the citizens of their districts to respond by filing recall petitions against them—at least those senators who aren’t already up for reelection in 2016.

Generally, I’m not a big fan of recall elections, and I think Washington State does it right by making the process so difficult. Unlike say, California, you can’t just file a recall because you don’t like a politician or their politics. In Washington, you can only recall an elected official on grounds of “malfeasance,” “misfeasance,” or “violation of the oath of office.” And that latter ground is defined in statute as “the neglect or knowing failure by an elective public officer to perform faithfully a duty imposed by law.”

I’d say refusing to obey a Supreme Court order more than qualifies under that definition.

No doubt most or all of the signatories to this letter would win a recall election—I mean, being a total dick is pretty much a prerequisite for office in some of these districts—but they’d still have to spend time and money running their campaigns when they might otherwise be raising money on behalf of colleagues. And that couldn’t hurt Democratic efforts to retake the senate and restore some sanity (let alone respect for the rule of law) to the body.

So yeah, now that they’ve given us the legal grounds, let’s recall the bastards. Because the only way to avoid a constitutional crisis may be to replace the lawmakers who spit on our constitution.


When the legislative session finally ended, Senator Schoesler — the Majority Leader — decided to write about how excellent the session turned out. In light of the legislature being in contempt for how badly they fucked up on education (paraphrasing the recent McCleary ruling), I thought it would be fun (?) to revisit. Enjoy…

This year’s Legislature did not impose a general tax increase. We did end a couple of small tax breaks, which some members of the Democratic majority in the House are calling a major victory, and we raised gas taxes for road construction with our transportation package. But that’s not quite the same thing as imposing $1.5 billion in new and increased taxes to finance the growth of government, remake the state economy to suit liberal urban activists, and set the state up for an income tax in the future.

You could have maybe been on the path to sustain education if not for that. Anyway, I’m sure that knowing that the state officially fucked up education, we can look back on the education part of the post and see how the top GOP person thought about that issue.

Victory number two? We fully funded basic education, passing the best K-12 budget we have seen in the last 30 years. We increased spending by $1.3 billion and we made significant progress in satisfying the state Supreme Court mandate that we do right by our schools.

Um, not so much.

Now, I know the fuckuping on education has come with Democratic governors and with legislatures from both parties. But honestly, this is some pretty awful bragging given how horrible the courts have found it.

Open Thread 8/19

- None Dare Call it Classism

– I think we can all agree that after his years of hating unions, being so obviously correct on the tunnel, the ham handed way he tried to push his way into the Senate seat last time, Reuven Carlyle deserves a promotion.

– The mayor of Airway Heights who said racist shit about the Obamas has resigned. Ostensibly because of his health, but come on.

Straight Outta Compton is bold, invigorating, and reminded me of all the things I do love about rap music. It also reinforces, affirms, and glorifies the systems in place that dehumanize, commodify, and erase Black women.

– Birthright citizenship is one of the greatest things we do as a country. So of course, Republicans are against it.


Drinking Liberally — Seattle


Please join us tonight for an evening of liberal politics over your beverage of choice 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 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 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.

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.