Great News, Assholes

One of the most infuriating arguments against Roe v Wade is from people who claim that they’re for abortion rights, but wish it had come from the states, legislature by legislature. The idea being, I guess, that women, trans men and other people who can get pregnant controlling their own body should be subject to the whims of legislatures and not a fundamental right. It always seemed like such a dodge to me.

But now that state legislatures and Congress are proposing and enacting more and more anti-choice legislation, and at least some courts are upholding them, it’s surely time for the people who have been making that argument to step up and oppose these things legislatively.

Because now Texas is pushing TRAP laws and the court isn’t intervening. Now 20 week bans, pre-viability, are sprouting up across the country. Now states are banning medication abortions with consequences. Now, if you care about abortion, but for some ungodly reason think it has to be legislative victories, you can act. Abortion rights are coming under attack, and it’s time, it’s past time, for pro-choice people to fight back.

So sure, in Washington we’re fighting to increase access. But it isn’t like the Reproductive Rights Parity act has passed. Or for that matter that the budget will be anything like friendly to reproductive rights. Of course the main reason to oppose these anti-choice measures is that they’re harmful to the people who live in those states who can get pregnant. But now the people who have been waiting for abortion to be a legislative thing, can finally get in the game. Unless it was just an excuse not to participate in the first place.

If “Property-Tax Bill” Was a Living Human Being He Could Sue the Seattle Times for Libel

It’s maybe not the most shockingly dishonest thing the Seattle Times editorial board has ever printed—that would be this. But in terms of sheer disrespect for the intelligence of their readers, it’s hard to sink any lower than this unapologetic libel of Mayor Ed Murray’s proposed Move Seattle levy:

The size of Move Seattle is breathtaking. The property-tax bill for a $450,000 house would nearly double, to about $275 a year. That won’t help rapidly escalating rents or middle-class homeowners dealing with rising home values.

And you know what else won’t help rapidly escalating housing costs? Lying.

To be clear, Move Seattle would not double your property-tax bill. It wouldn’t even come close. It would double the amount you’re paying on the expiring Bridging the Gap levy, but that amounts to only a $145 increase on a $450,000 home—just 3.3 percent of the total property-tax bill (and a mere .03 percent of the value of your home)—not the 100 percent increase that the editors imply. Big difference.

To understand how breathtaking this lie is, imagine if “Property-Tax” Bill was an actual living, breathing human being. The editors’ assertion is so clearly erroneous, misleading, and defamatory that Bill could easily sue the paper for libel, and win big!

No doubt the proposed levy deserves careful scrutiny; all levies do. But so does the editors’ larger implication that Seattle homeowners are overtaxed: “Seattle is the city that doesn’t say no to taxes,” the editors emphasize in a pull-quote.

And yet according to the tax records on my own median-value home, my property-tax rate has actually gone down over the past decade, from 1.06 percent of assessed value in 2004 to only 0.96 percent in 2014! Compared to a lot of other cities, that’s a bargain, especially considering that we don’t even have an income tax. Despite rising property values, in raw dollars, my property-tax bill has barely outpaced inflation.

Yes, we pass a lot of levies here in Seattle, and we tend to pass them with ease. But these levies are constantly expiring. So while it may feel like we’re always being asked to raise our own taxes, our effective property-tax rate is actually quite low, and has remained low over time. In fact, tack on this allegedly “breathtaking” Move Seattle levy, and my property-tax rate would still be less than it was back in 2004.

Not that you’d ever know this from reading the blatantly misleading op-ed pages of the Seattle Times.

Open Thread 6.10

- We’ve had passionate left-wing students for a long time. Sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong, but either way the risk that you’ll lose your job because of their political complaints is basically zero.

– Everybody, just stop defending the Duggars, or trying to deflect blame onto liberals or whatever. Thanks.

– The weekend rollout of bus announcements makes me think Metro knew there might be some backlash. But still, good on them for correcting their course.

Winning Hearts and Minds by Pointing Guns at them

– This book looks great. Anyone else going to Mamrie Hart’s book signing tomorrow?

Drinking Liberally — Seattle

DLBottleFor over ten year, the Seattle Chapter of Drinking liberally has served as a gathering place for people to talk politics, brainstorm, introduce new candidates, watch debates and SOTU addresses. All over a beer. So please join us this evening as we do it, once again.

We meet tonight and every Tuesday 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 on Tuesday night? Check out one of the other DL meetings this week. The Tri-Cities and Redmond chapters also meet tonight. On Wednesday the Bellingham chapter meets. The Bremerton, Spokane, and Kent chapters meet on Thursday. And next Monday, the Aberdeen and Yakima chapters meet.

There are 190 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.

Hopin’ Thread

- I know, I said no more puns. What can you do?

Jesus is Not a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card

– But, I thought Ed Murray was just concerned with ethics.

– I just can’t with the McKinney story.

– Wells Fargo’s corporate practices don’t make up for an ad, but that ad is pretty sweet, and if that’s your idea of moral decay, you’re the worst.

– New Hampshire’s legislature is pretty ridiculous, but at least Obama managed to salvage some sort of civics lesson.

– With the Women’s World Cup, the whole country can have the same uncomfortable feeling Reign fans (myself included) have about cheering Hope Solo.

Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

The Texas crazyfest.

Thom: America…No longer home of the brave but the scared shitless.

Jon celebrates the expiration of certain provisions of the Patriot Act.

Hillary slams GOP for war on voting, calls for universal registration:

David Pakman: The progressivization of America?

Sam Seder: Republicans are still scared of the Lego movie.

Slate: The world’s first murder case.

A Jon Stewart tribute.

Ann Telnaes: George W. Bush’s popularity recovers.

Mental Floss: Misconceptions about sharks.

White House: West Wing Week.

Maher: GOP…stop it with the phony cries of Christian persecution already.

Thom: The state of surveillance in America.

Shaheen to Obama: Put a Woman on the $20 Bill.

David Pakman: Nebraska overrides Governor’s veto, ends death penalty.

Mark Fiore: Who created ISIS?

Sam Seder: Gov. Scott Walker’s bullshit reason for forcing women to get ultrasounds.

The 2016 Clown Convention:

Young Turks: Hate rally goes badly for the haters.

Congressional hits and misses of the week:

Thom: The media’s “wave of silence” on Sen. Bernie Sanders (and why).

Scientists grow mini brains in the lab.

Jon: How Muslims can be less scary and more American.

OBL is alive in the Ocean.

Farron Cousins: The GOP is losing voters in droves…to death

Thom: The Good, The Bad and the very very Uxorovalently Ugly.

Mental Floss: 24 Food Origins.

Minute Physics: Upside down mountains in real life.

Kimmel: The week in unnecessary censorship.

Chris Cillizza: A look inside the Hastert indictment.

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

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

Danny Westneat Thinks Republicans Are “Moderate” (No, Really!)

I’ve been meaning to tear into Danny Westneat for his credulous puff piece on the state senate Republican majority, but haven’t had the time. Fortunately, Bill Lyne at the United Faculty of Washington State blog has done it for me:

On [higher education], he’s convinced that “the Republicans blew the Democrats out of the water. The GOP,” he tells us, “is proposing to slash tuition but at the same time send tens of millions of dollars to the universities to make up the difference.”  Representative Hunter said the same thing about this that we here at the blog tried to say to Westneat the last time he slobbered over the Republican tuition proposal: It’s not true.  The Republicans say they provide enough money to cover the tuition cut, but the cold, hard numbers in their budget say they do not.  Go read it, Danny.  Better yet, call the university budget offices and see what they say.  The Republican rhetoric on tuition sounds great, but the gap between that rhetoric and the reality of their budget would leave lots of students actually paying more in tuition because it would take them longer to get their degrees.

Read the whole thing. It’s worth it.

As for Westneat, well, sigh. I know he likes to think of himself as an independent voice adrift in a sea of partisan bickering—an equal opportunity eye-roller, or something. But more often than not, he’s just part of the problem, cynically working to erode the public’s faith in government rather than working to offer and advance creative solutions.

Which is a shame, because Westneat has both the talent and the platform to make a difference.

opEN threAD

- Oil, gas, coal industries want Washington, British Columbia as permanent home ports

– I get what Goldy’s point is here, but Goldman Sachs would be a lot more creditable if they hadn’t recently helped crash the world economy.

Chart of the Day: Novels about men are more likely to win major literary awards

– There was a Comcast outage recently, and if you’re upset, here are some things you can do about it.

– Here’s hoping there’s some Safe Routes to School money in the final budget.

– Everyone keeps saying how good Daredevil is. I’ll have to check it out.

The Best Example?

I’m pretty sure this is my favorite lede ever.

For the last six weeks, what appears to be a broken down van has been parked outside the offices of Bonneville Seattle, home of KIRO Radio, 710 ESPN Seattle, KTTH and My Northwest.com, despite official notice warning the owner to move it or face towing.

City law prohibits vehicles from remaining in the same spot for more than 72 hours.

It’s emblematic of a longstanding but growing problem around the city, as parking becomes harder to come by in denser neighborhoods.

Oh man, if I look out my window, I can really see there’s quite a problem. Sometimes I have to walk past it when I go to lunch. This particular story is one everyone can relate to, right? The story of a van in a not particularly well trafficked neighborhood?

I thought the there’s-traffic-congestion-on-my-way-to-work stories were my favorite example of unnecessarily overly personal “reporting” but I think this is way better. Talk about hyper local.

Would Kshama Sawant Be More Acceptable If She Were an Ex-Republican?

Kshama SawantSo, self-described “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders, who has never ever run for office before as a Democrat, slaps the big “D” next to his name for a presidential run, and that’s totally kosher. In fact, a lot of rank and file Dems are thrilled with his candidacy. And now former Rhode Island senator and governor Lincoln Chafee declares his candidacy for the Democratic nomination, and the Democratic National Committee sends out an email welcoming the ex-Republican to the race, and that’s cool.

But local Dems wanting to endorse socialist Kshama Sawant for a non-partisan council race—that apparently is some sort of monstrous outrage or something.

Go figure.

Open Thread 6/3

I’m dragging a bit, so I think I’m going to try to sleep on the way in to work. So here’s a placeholder instead of some links. Sorry.

TSA’s Security Theater Gets Bad Review

Longtime readers know I’ve never been a fan of the Transportation Security Administration. So I wasn’t the least surprised to read this:

The Department of Homeland Security on Monday reassigned the acting director of the Transportation Security Administration and ordered the agency to revise its security procedures after screeners at airport checkpoints failed to detect weapons and other prohibited items 95 percent of the time in a covert test.

… In the investigation, undercover agents were able to get prohibited items through security checkpoints in 67 of 70 instances, according to ABC News, which first reported the findings.

I’m not a terrorist, but if I were, I’m pretty sure I’d have no problem sneaking prohibited items through airport security. In fact, no sneaking required. Twice, I’ve inadvertently passed bottles of water through security—once in the outer mesh pocket of my backpack, and once in my back pocket. On multiple occasions I’ve forgotten to take my toiletries out of my carry-on luggage before scanning. And once, I flew round trip between Seattle and Philadelphia only to realize after the fact that I’d left a 10-inch serrated knife in the bottom of my backpack.

Oops.

The truth is, there is nothing that TSA has done at the security checkpoint since 9/11 that would have prevented another 9/11, because that was achieved entirely by requiring reinforced cockpit doors. That was the weak point in the system—a secure cockpit door combined with the memory of 9/11 is all that is needed to prevent a similar tragedy. (On the other hand, a locked cockpit door apparently played a crucial role in enabling the suicidal crash of Germanwings Flight 9525, so there’s that.)

What would I do to improve the system? Drop the ban on liquids and gels,  and go back to simple metal detectors. One good bomb-sniffing dog would be a helluva lot more effective than a dozen TSA agents ogling at porno-scanners.

Commercial air travel is by far the safest form of transportation. TSA’s security theater mostly just succeeds in making it less comfortable and convenient.

Drinking Liberally — Seattle

DLBottlePlease joins us this evening for another cocktail-enhanced and conversation-packed 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. 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. The Long Beach, Tri-Cities and West Seattle chapters also meet tonight. 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 excellent there’s a chapter meeting somewhere near you.

What Olympia Needs Is a Two-Thirds Compromise

If you want to know why the Washington State legislature can’t seem to pass a budget, it’s because Republicans have forgotten how to do math.

Oh, I’m not talking about budget math; Republicans have never been very good at that. I’m talking about electoral math. The Democrats control the state house. The Democrats control the governor’s mansion (and have for over 30 years). The Democrats control both US senate seats, six of ten US house seats, and seven of eight statewide executive offices. The Democratic nominee has won Washington State in seven straight presidential elections.

Washington is a Democratic state.

Yet weirdly, Republicans believe their three-seat majority in the state senate somehow gives them an electoral mandate to unilaterally impose their will on the rest of the state:

Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, said Democrats are wasting taxpayers’ dollars by keeping lawmakers in Olympia longer.

“There’s just one thing standing in the way of a deal — the House Democrats’ unreasonable insistence on raising taxes solely for the sake of raising taxes,” Benton said in an email.

Right. It’s the Democrats who are standing in the way of a deal. Gimme a fucking break.

Look, the Republicans control the state senate, so they deserve something. Can’t pass a budget without them. No doubt about that. But compromise is a two-way street, and the problem is that today’s Republican Party is ideologically incapable of compromise on many key issues. For example, taxes. A majority of Republicans will never vote to approve something called a “tax.” For any reason. Ever. So they demand that the Democrats fold entirely on that.

Then there is transit. The Republicans largely have the transportation funding proposal they want—lots of tasty pork for their home districts. But they’re ideologically opposed to funding light rail, even when it’s not their money. And so they refuse to give Sound Transit the $15 billion in local taxing authority it needs to go to voters with a package that builds enough rail in each of the subareas to give it a chance of passing. Instead, they think they have an electoral mandate to insist on an ST3-crippling $11 billion in authority—not enough to get to either Tacoma or Everett, and not enough to get to both West Seattle and Ballard. Because Republicans can’t do the electoral math.

But the bigger danger would be if the Democrats can’t do the electoral math either.

The Democrats control two-thirds of state government. And if they want to hold on to the two-thirds they have (and have a hope of retaking the senate) then they can’t disillusion the Democratic base by rewarding the three-seat senate Republican majority for their uncompromising obstruction. Politically, capitulation is neither a responsible nor viable option.

The Republicans control only one-third of government. Give them a third of what they want. If Republicans want anymore than that, force them to make a case for it at the polls.