oPEN tHREAD!

- For the press, reporting on policy and actual legislating is homework. Reporting on the horse race and invented campaign narratives are a session of Nintendo or a pint of ice cream.

– I know you can’t judge a group solely on its worst members, but holy shit, some of the worst members of the Minute Men.

– Forgot to mention this in a previous open thread so it’s a bit old, but the NPI fundraising gala is looking pretty impressive.

– I will have to play around with Seattle In Progress a bit.

It’s Chilly in Hell: Seattle Times Endorses State Capital Gains Tax

The Seattle Times editorial board has long supported spending more money on K-12, higher education, and other essentially services, it just never wanted to raise the taxes necessary to pay for it. Until now:

If some new revenue is needed — and that appears to be the case — the Legislature should vet a capital-gains tax proposal offered by the House Democrats. It is more conservative than Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposal, hitting relatively few wealthy households, while accounting for the volatility of capital gains with a dedicated fund that would fill in go-go years and could be drawn down in slowdowns.

Whether the Legislature is capable of such fiscal restraint — and not spending every dime, every year — is an open question. A serious proposal would lock revenues in a rainy-day fund, accessible only with supermajority. The Legislature also needs to weigh the potential to chase away startups seeking to launch in a state without an income tax. But the capital-gains tax is a provocative idea, and could ease a regressive tax code that favors Seattle’s accumulating tech wealth.

Of course, this capital gains tax proposal neither raises enough money to fill our K-12 funding shortfall, nor makes anything but a small correction in this, our nation’s most regressive tax structure. But it’s a modest step in the right direction, and a hopeful sign that our state’s paper of record may be willing to have a grown up conversation about taxes.

HA Bible Study: Malachi 2:2-3

Malachi 2:2-3
If you do not listen, and if you do not resolve to honor my name,” says the LORD Almighty, “I will send a curse on you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not resolved to honor me.

“Because of you I will rebuke your descendants; I will smear on your faces the dung from your festival sacrifices, and you will be carried off with it.

Discuss.

Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Thom: How the 1% are rewiring brains & future generations.

SlateTV: America’s Worst President.

The 2016 Clown Parade:

Russell Brand explains why FAUX News pundits “have to attack Bowe Bergdahl”.

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

Mental Floss: Thirty facts about chocoloate.

Thom: How much dark money is being funneled into our “democracy”?

SlateTV: The strange chemistry of the Crab Nebula.

A PSA from The Committee for Universal Accessibility and Lycantropic Concerns.

The Anti-Gay Agenda:

Mental Floss: Thirty one facts about pigs.

Greenman: Naomi Oreskes’ climate change elevator pitch.

David Pakman: Is MSNBC dying?

Netflix for kids.

David Pakman: This years, guns will kill more Americans than cars.

Farron Cousins: Has the tort reform fight been won?

SlateTV: Obama loves America.

Meet the Part African Black, Part Jewish, and Part Swiss and (Apparently) Offensive Comedian Who Will Replace Jon:

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

Matt Binder: Asshole ex-Governor John Sununu (R-NH) thinks Obama is only visiting Kenya to incite the Birfers.

Rubin Report: Republicans fear Obama more than Putin

White House: West Wing Week, 5th anniversary edition .

Sam Seder and Michael Brooks: Dick Cheney’s lies keep pouring in.

Thom and Pap: Our 2016 casino elections.

David Pakman: Deranged nutburger Rep. Louie Gohmert explodes, “You’re Playing God with the internet!”

Maddow chats with Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

CNN: Reid on leaving and going after the Koch brothers and Mitt Romney.

David Pakman: Indiana’s public health disaster follows from Planned Parenthood closure.

Iran:

Senator denies 280,000 people health care then calls advocate ‘asshole’ for asking him to give up his own health care.

Young Turks: In which Karl Rove is a dick to an Iraqi War veteran.

Sharpton: Fixing the criminal justice system.

Thom: Getting dark money out of politics.

The Barbara Mikulski tribute edition of Congressional hits and misses.

The best of CSPAN callers.

Seth Meyers finally puts the Elizabeth Warren Presidential run idea to rest..

David Pakman: Why won’t Republicans acknowledge Obama’s strong economy?

Menendez Indictment:

White House: Obama signs memorandum of disapproval on anti-labor bill.

John Oliver: Red-tailed hawks:

Thom with Prof. Michael Mann: Has climate change affected the West Coast?

Mental Floss: Misconceptions about appliances.

David Pakman: Small government Republican would make church mandatory.

The Church of Scientology responds to Going Clear.

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

Civil Liberties Roundup

One of the biggest stories over the past two weeks is the controversy over the newly passed religious freedom law in Indiana. The backlash caught a lot of people by surprise, partly because the purpose and significance of these laws has evolved a bit over the past 20 years since Bill Clinton signed a federal law with the same name in 1993, but also because of how much the political notion of “religious freedom” has changed in recent years. Garrett Epps and German Lopez write about this history and why this particular law is different and causing an uproar.

I also think it’s worth reading both Amanda Marcotte and Jacob Levy on this. Marcotte comes from a more liberal perspective and Levy from a more libertarian one. But I think Marcotte makes the key point for me here:

The backlash is kind of surprising, when you consider that it’s already legal to discriminate against LGBT people in Indiana without having to pull the Jesus card to do it. Pence’s maddening dishonesty might be fueling the rage: Lying plus bigotry is a toxic combination. But there’s another factor that’s helping push this past the tipping point of “another story about conservative bigotry” to national scandal. Liberals are getting fed up with this ridiculous conservative push to redefine “religious liberty” to mean its opposite, using it as a phrase to justify Christian conservatives forcing their religious beliefs on you and depriving you of basic religious freedom.

Marcotte goes on to cite the Hobby Lobby court decision, which defined this narrative more clearly for a lot of people. Hobby Lobby’s desire to keep their employees from having easier access to birth control through their health benefits isn’t a matter of corporate executives exercising their own religious freedom. It was an attempt by a powerful employer to impose their religious beliefs on their employees. The fact that Hobby Lobby won at the Supreme Court certainly has people on edge about how radical ideas of religious freedom could potentially be recognized and become accepted.

In the case of Indiana’s new law, a small business owner refusing to serve gay customers is the same dynamic. If a florist or a baker refused to provide their services for an interracial marriage, we wouldn’t consider that to be someone exercising some valid religious objection, we’d see that as just plain bigotry. It’s hard to understand how doing the same regarding a gay wedding is any different.

This is why we now see the backlash. It isn’t the actual severity of the law, it’s the fact that it’s furthering a particularly cynical notion of religious freedom, one that is clearly rooted in bigotry and bad faith. It’s about the fact that Indiana chose to go in this direction, rather than passing anti-discrimination protections for gays and lesbians. And it’s about making clear the political risks of continuing to pander to those who are in denial about the recent awakening we’ve had as a nation regarding the rights of LGBT people.

[Read more…]

And Another Thing About The Expedia Move

I think I covered the important stuff about the Expedia move yesterday. But one other thing that’s maybe less relevant is are we still going to call the foot bridge the Amgen Bridge? I feel like we should. It’s shaped like a double helix and it was built by Amgen. So I’m going to keep calling it that.

But I’m the guy who still calls the Bus Tunnel the Bus Tunnel even though I don’t want it to have buses in it any more.

Money (or the Lack Thereof)

We can’t fund McCleary, we can’t provide proper care for our mentally ill, we can’t pave our roads or repair our bridges or pay for our public colleges and universities.

So what is Washington State’s problem? Money. We don’t have enough of it. Because we don’t have a tax system that is capable of growing revenue commensurate with our needs or our economy.

We can elect all the Democrats we want, but until we find a way to tax income, we will get the drown-govmint-in-a-bathtub Republican agenda default. There’s no way around it. It’s simple math.

Expedia

Hey, remember how Rodney Tom (among a bunch of other Republicans) said that Seattle’s minimum wage and sick leave/safe leave laws were going to destroy the jobs in Seattle and send them to the suburbs. Well, maybe in the future, who can really tell? But when people cite this or that example: a store closing, a firm going out of business, or other things that happen to businesses everywhere, well, tell them Expedia thought it would be better to come to Seattle.

The campus, which is on Smith Cove in the Interbay neighborhood, measures 750,000 square feet. Expedia, which employs around 3,000 people in the region and nearly 15,000 worldwide, reportedly is looking for a new 700,000-square-foot headquarters. Real estate brokers said the company wanted a Seattle address and is looking to buy a facility. Amgen (Nasdaq: AMGN) is winding down operations in the Puget Sound region, and could sell the Seattle campus.

Earlier this year, Expedia CFO Mark Okerstrom said the company was considering relocating its corporate headquarters. He said the company was “not constraining ourselves to the downtown Bellevue area in terms of our search.”

Of course, there are plenty of reasons that a company moves to Seattle, and obviously just having a $15 minimum wage wasn’t why. But it also wasn’t a hindrance here. And to be clear: I hope the Bellevue finds a good replacement for Expedia. Losing that will be a hit. But there is a bit of schadenfreude seeing these things happening and thinking of the people saying these sorts of laws would destroy jobs in Seattle.

Maybe if Bellevue wants better jobs, they can do the types of things Seattle has done. Or they could do it because it’s the right thing for people working there.

Open Thread 4-1

- I don’t mean to alarm you, but today is known as Spy Wednesday

– In a previous open thread, I mentioned that Cathy McMorris Rodgers put a call out to her Facebook followers that they tell her about Obamacare, and most had nice things to say. Well, apparently that’s the haters hating.

– Welcome to the City Council race, James Keblas

This is the tragic irony of the culture wars: The casualties tend to be the very people Jesus went out of his way to serve: the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the outcasts, the people ostracized and deemed “sinners” by the religious elite. And when the world sees Christians hurting rather than helping such people, in the name of political gain, our testimony is profoundly diminished

The men behind of these efforts — one based in Arkansas, one in Florida — claim to be forming armed squads of militiamen to fly into ISIS hotspots in Iraq and Syria and combat the enemy on the ground. Neither, however, appear to be anything more than a fundraising operation built around pure fantasies.

A Baseball Story

Drinking Liberally — Seattle

DLBottle

The Seattle Chapter of Drinking Liberally meets tonight. Please join us for an evening of politics and conversation over a pint. It will be an evening to savoring on our last day before the Seattle economic apocalypse….

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 chapter also meets. The Lakewood chapter meets on Wednesday. And next Monday, the Yakima and South Bellevue chapters meet.

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.

“Free Trade” Agreements Broadly Disadvantage American Workers, Because Markets!

Today, the Seattle City Council will vote on a resolution expressing concern about the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement currently being negotiated, and the Seattle Times editorial board thinks that’s just plain silly:

The council’s ordinance sends a head-scratching message about the importance of trade. No American city, arguably, is more dependent on the import-export business than Seattle. The Port of Seattle is an engine of family-wage jobs. Overall, 30 percent of Washington’s exports — nearly $27 billion worth — went to countries participating in the TPP. Stronger U.S. trade ties with those 11 other countries would undoubtedly add to the total, especially in Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam and New Zealand.

Uh-huh. So, here’s the thing about “free trade” as defined by agreements like the TPP: it isn’t free. Sure, goods are free to cross borders, and financial capital is free to cross borders. And since goods-plus-capital equals jobs, the TPP frees more jobs to cross international borders.

But you know what’s not free to cross borders? Labor. And since jobs are mobile and labor isn’t, free trade agreements like TPP and NAFTA and all the rest end up distorting the economy in a way that advantages capital and disadvantages labor. I’m not making shit up here. The same neoclassical economic theories that argue for free trade will tell you that if capital is free but labor mobility remains constrained, then the labor market can never reach a state of natural equilibrium. Capital can (and will) arbitrage the price difference between various labor markets, artificially suppressing wages for all.*

Good for profits, not so good for workers.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t have free trade. We could open our borders to all comers, and vice versa, allowing labor to move to where the good jobs are. We could actually allow the entire market to be free. But that’s not likely to happen. Or, we could all openly acknowledge that trade agreements disadvantage labor, and insist that they come with policies designed to ameliorate the harm and redistribute the profits more broadly. You know, if we actually gave a shit about workers.

But let’s not pretend that, on their own, free trade agreements are good for American workers. Because apart from those workers directly employed in import-export (and let’s be honest, mostly import), they’re not.


* Not to be construed as an actual endorsement of neoclassical economic theory.

HA Bible Study: Leviticus 25:44-46

Leviticus 25:44-46
Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

Discuss.

Twitter Is Burning Up Over Nick Hanauer’s Exhortation to LGBT People to Flee Indiana and Move to Seattle

My boss Nick Hanauer is lighting up Twitter again, this time with a “quick” 19-tweet rant explaining the economic stupidity of Indiana’s new law permitting businesses to discriminate against gays. Except, the rant is not so quick, so I’ve reformatted it below for your reading pleasure:

  1. A quick rant on the almost surreal stupidity of Indiana governor Mike Pence and his bill to legalize discrimination against LGBT people.
  2. What’s really important to underscore is how totally clueless people in places like Indiana are about 21st century economies.
  3. Growth in technological economies is all about innovation. The more innovation, the faster living standards improve.
  4. But innovation is a combinatorial and cooperative process. Innovation happens when old things are combined in new and novel ways.
  5. Innovation is an evolutionary process, and diversity is at the core of that process. It’s not how hard you try…..
  6. It’s how many different ways you try that define success. Economic dynamism isn’t driven by sameness, but by differences.
  7. Diversity does not hinder economic growth in technological economies. It super-charges it. Including more people is the key to growth.
  8. This is why inclusive, diverse cities like SF, Seattle, New York, and Boston kick the shit out of exclusionary places like Indiana.
  9. LGBT people are different. They are uncommonly creative, and innovative. Thus, they lead in many creative endeavors and industries.
  10. That is why LGBT folks are packed into the most innovative and successful companies.
  11. And why states like Indiana are increasingly becoming economic backwaters. Sad, forgotten places that smart people flee from.
  12. Obviously, people who are different flee, but also, all of the smart people who know that differences are key, flee as well
  13. Leaving behind a homogenized, narrow, and increasingly prejudiced population, who elect the same kind of leaders.
  14. Who enact laws that chase more smart diverse people away, that creates a brain drain death spiral.
  15. That in turn, consigns the economy to a backwater, or at a minimum, a low wage competitor to Bangladesh.
  16. All of which is a terrible waste of real estate and capital improvements. But something that may in fact, be unavoidable and inevitable.
  17. So, to all of you creative, innovative, different people in Indiana: The world faces tremendous challenges.
  18. They will only be solved by people like you. Come to places like Seattle that will embrace you, and leverage your talents.
  19. We need you. The world needs you. Indiana apparently, does not.

Many business leaders, particularly those in the tech industry, are expressing outrage over Indiana’s new anti-LGBT law, and an incipient boycott is already underway. For example, Salesforce.com CEO Mark Benioff has canceled all company events in the state, and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced today that he is barring city employees from using city money to travel to Indiana on business. But Nick’s invitation to LGBT Indianans to “come to places like Seattle that will embrace you and leverage your talents” suggests a much more lasting and effective economic sanction.

No doubt Nick is right that discriminatory laws like this result in a “brain drain” by driving talented workers out of state. But if the tech industry in Seattle, San Francisco, New York and elsewhere were to actively recruit LGBT workers and other Indianans who value diversity, that economic death spiral would quickly accelerate. And that would be an appropriately high price to pay for Indiana’s government sanctioned bigotry.