Open Thread 2/13

I’m feeling a lot better, and am headed back to work. But I didn’t prepare anything in the last couple sick days. So, yeah.

Open Thread 2.11

I’m feeling a bit blah today. It’s probably nothing, but I’m going back to bed.

First World? Problems?

I don’t want to pick on the Spokesman-Review since this is a pretty wide spread phenomenon. Still, their Spin Control blog has a piece about bills that are getting a hearing that are “first world problems.” I’m not sure they’re either first world issues in general or, for that matter, problems.

For example: How many tasting rooms should Washington wineries have? Current law says two, a proposal before a Senate committee last week said that should be four, to better extol the goodness of the state’s fruit of the vine. Why four, asked Sen. Steve Conway, D-Tacoma. Well, Oregon wineries get three, he was told.

Expanding the number of tasting rooms seems like something they could do in a country in Sub-Saharan Africa, for instance. I’m not much of a wine drinker, but I just Googled “African wine” and the first hit was a pretty interesting Wikipedia article on South African wines. Seems like a long history, and something ripe for tasting rooms.

I’m also not sure how having 2 or expanding it to 4 is a problem. It seems like we’re having success with the tasting rooms we have and want to expand. Is it a problem because, 4 is still pretty small for the state? I honestly don’t know!

Or a bill recognizing the fourth Saturday in July the National Day of the Cowboy, which another Senate committee took up. The hearing revealed – maybe you knew; I sure didn’t – that cowboy is gender neutral and refers to both male and female cow-persons. Both deserve recognition because of their legendary integrity, said supporters, who brought honorary headgear for Government Operations Committee Chairwoman Pam Roach, R-Auburn.

Look, if there’s one thing we can agree about the first-world, it’s that we are the exclusive domain of people who recognize agricultural workers. Also, it seems like not a problem. It seems like kind of a neat thing to celebrate. Were they not getting celebrated before? I still don’t see a problem.

The House State Government Committee took up an issue that annoys a sizable chunk of us two days a year, the switch between Standard and Daylight Savings time. There’s a bill to keep the state on Standard time year-round, and a resolution aimed at keeping us on Savings Time.

Rep. Elizabeth Scott, R-Monroe, offered perhaps the quintessential First World Problems defense of her Standard Time bill, albeit with a smile: “It’s still a hassle to change all the clocks. . . It’s a hassle for pet owners whose pets wake them up an hour early. I hear that milk cows are particularly annoyed.”

This is the closest in that it mostly involves actual first world stuff, is stuff, kinda. And technically identifies a problem: I was kind of surprised, but if you look at the map of countries that use daylight savings, it’s primarily Europe and North America. But there are plenty of Middle Eastern, African, and South American countries that use it.

Also, I don’t think it’s a problem. We get somewhat more sun, but it doesn’t work for everyone, depending on your job and your temperament. Also, in the age before all your clocks automatically changed, it was slightly annoying to have to remember, I hear. It seems like on balance, it does more good than bad. Maybe we should only spring forward, and every year, we’ll move an hour ahead of everyone else.

In conclusion, they have clocks in Uruguay and Namibia.

Drinking Liberally — Seattle

DLBottle

Please join us for drinks, conversation, and 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 feel free to stop by earlier than that for dinner.

Can’t make it to Seattle tonight? Check out one of the other DL meetings this week. The Tri-Cities and Redmond chapters also meet on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Bellingham and Spokane chapters meet. The Bremerton and Kent chapters meet on Thursday. And next Monday, the Aberdeen and Yakima chapters meet.

There are 188 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.

Sound Transit’s Human Turnstile

Don’t remember reading anything about any such initiative, but my god has Sound Transit bumped up the number of fare inspectors on Link Light Rail. I thought maybe it was just freakish coincidence when I got my Orca card scanned six trips in a row a couple weeks ago, but this fare enforcement surge has continued. In fact, this morning, fare inspectors boarded my car twice: at both Othello and SODO stations. Never had that happen to me before.

Is it just me, or has there been some sort of quiet but radical shift in Sound Transit’s fare enforcement policies? And is the extra manpower really worth the cost?

Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Former Congressman reminisces on the start of email in Congress.

The 2016 Clown Parade:

The Ash Carter conformation hearing highlight reel.

White House: West Wing Week.

The Flordo-Texico War of 2015:

Mental Floss: More life hacks.

Sam Seder: You’ll never believe what Mitt Romney said to Obama.

Young Turks: FAUX News has a wargasm over King Abdullah in flight suit.

Vsauce: Did the past really happen?

Vaccine Trufers:

Greenman: Eric Rignot on Ice Sheet Retreat.

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

Ann Telnaes: Sotomayor and Kagan backtrack on allowing cameras at the Supreme Court.

The week in Congressional hits and misses:

Net Neutrality:

Sen. Reid: Republicans are more afraid of Dreamers than ISIS (with a cameo by Sen. Murray).

Thom: Why do we need black history month.

Greenman: Elevator pitch for climate change.

Young Turks: Obama at Prayer Breakfast warns of religion twisted to justify war.

Liberal Viewer: Did someone threaten Henry Kissinger?

Sam Seder: Crazy Republican suggests getting rid of Citizen United would destroy the Bill of Rights.

Mental Floss: Misconceptions about crime.

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

The ISIS Propaganda Department….

Pelosi: Republicans are “baying at the moon” with their 56th ObamaCare repeal vote.

Greenman: Ken Caldeira on what climate models have told us.

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

You Can’t Negotiate with Terrorists. Or Republicans.

Oh God how I hate this meme:

Gov. Jay Inslee needs a win. After two years in Olympia, legislative victories on his proposals are sparse, and it’s not looking good this year either.

Instead, Inslee has been primarily a speechmaker-in-chief, and mostly about carbon reduction. In Associated Press style, he’d be Gov. Inslee, D-Climate Change, not D-Wash.

… Heading into his third year in office, Inslee needs a win. Voters in 2016 will want to know: Is Inslee an ideologue or a pragmatic executive?

Really? Jay Inslee is the ideologue here? Why? Because he accepts the overwhelming science of climate change? Because he believes it’s the responsibility of government to try to, you know, not destroy the fucking planet?

The problem with the sort of pragmatic, bipartisan, false-equivalentarianism the Seattle Times espouses is that in the current political environment, there is nothing pragmatic about it. True bipartisanship is only possible either when both sides are already in basic agreement (like when the allegedly “ideological” Inslee called a special session to ram the Boeing tax-break package down our throats), or when both sides are willing to compromise. But in the current political environment, the state senate Republican majority has absolutely zero will or incentive to give a nanometer.

First of all—and let’s be completely frank about this—a goodly chunk of the Republican caucus is filled with science-denying Christianist/Teahadist whack-jobs. Seriously. These people are fucking crazy. Do you really believe that the high-school-student-marrying minimum-wage-worker-hating Rep. Matt Manweller (R-Ellensburg) is even remotely capable of compromise? Do we really want that to be the measure of a “pragmatic executive”: the ability to find common ground with a vile, anti-labor, sexual predator?

Second, the whole notion that Inslee’s performance in office should be judged by his ability to push his agenda through the Republican senate is nothing less than a setup for failure. The Republicans want Inslee to fail! That is the whole of their agenda! Legislative gridlock is a win-win for them because A) preventing the government from doing stuff is exactly what their constituents sent them to Olympia to do, and B) Senate Ways & Means Committee chair Andy Hill is running for governor against Inslee in 2016! So even if this iteration of the Republican Party was capable of compromise (and it’s not), why on earth would it want to hand Inslee a legislative victory?

Sound familiar? It took six long years for President Obama to accept the fact that the entire congressional Republican agenda was: make President Obama fail. What did compromise get Obama in the meanwhile? A half-measure of a health care reform package whose repeal has become the rallying cry of the Republican Party.

“Team of rivals,” my ass.

Inslee at least has been a quicker study. He knew he didn’t have a snowball’s chance of getting either a carbon tax or a capital gains tax past the Republicans this session. He’s not stupid. So he’s using the power he has—the power of the bully pulpit—to help move the political conversation from where it is to where he thinks it needs to be. That doesn’t make him an ideologue. It makes him a leader.

Sure, compromise is great if both sides are willing to do it. And true bipartisanship is a lofty goal. But to score Inslee “an ideologue” for failing to push his proposals through this senate is to place the scorecard squarely in the hands of Republicans. It is a bullshit meme I hope nobody takes seriously, especially not Inslee.

Open Thread 2/6

- A couple different takes on Andrew Sullivan retiring.

– I remain both excited about the future of cell service in the bus tunnel and horrified that more people will be on their phones more times.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers is not concerned about the millions of people who would lose their health care coverage if this bill were signed into law. Returning back to the days when insurance companies could terminate your coverage for any reason, refuse to cover you for pre-existing conditions, refuse medical treatment, and increase your rates at will does not concern her. Bringing back the rampant increases in health care costs does not concern her.

– While listening to this podcast, it occurred to me that Bertha the drilling machine may well be stuck for more days that Bertha Landes was mayor.

– I’m not sure running against the Kochs worked particularly well last time, but maybe.

The Unicorn Whose Tears Were 1976 Ford Fiestas

Civil Liberties Roundup

Just as I was wrapping up the last roundup, I saw news that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia had passed away. Here’s a video report from Human Rights Watch about his record on civil liberties, which – despite some small improvements – is still somewhere between terrible and horrendous.

I happen to be reading Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court“, a book about how a 19th century American goes back in time to 6th century England to discover a backwards monarchy that celebrated brutality and used religion to exert control over a superstitious population. If Twain had lived long enough to see modern day Saudi Arabia, he could’ve written something similar without any need for time travel.

More news items…
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I Obviously Don’t Love My Child as Much as Rep. Eric Pettigrew Loves His

My state representative, Eric Pettigrew (D-37), has been a vocal advocate for charter schools, arguing that traditional public schools are failing our children. Pettigrew is now also a prime sponsor of a bill in Olympia that would split the Seattle school district in two, arguing that distant administrators are failing our neighborhood public schools. And so given his obvious disdain for Seattle Public Schools, one would imagine that Pettigrew must have had a truly horrible experience sending his own children to school in the district:

Pettigrew said the district has gotten too remote to pay attention to all its schools. He sent his kids to Catholic school because he doesn’t trust the public ones in his area.

“When I looked at Seattle Public Schools, I wasn’t willing to take the risk,” Pettigrew told The Associated Press.

Oh. So Pettigrew doesn’t actually have any hands on experience at all as either a parent or a student in the Seattle Public Schools. Yet he just “wasn’t willing to take the risk” of sending his children to the same neighborhood school where I chose to send my daughter for seven years.* Which I suppose makes Pettigrew a much more loving and responsible parent than me. Either that, or it makes him a knee-jerk, fear-mongering elitist who thinks that his kids are too good for the schools where most of his constituents send their children.

Actually, here’s what I really think is going on here: Psychological projection. As an elected official, Rep. Pettigrew is understandably self-conscious of his decision to send his kids to private school—maybe even a little embarrassed. And so he is justifying his decision—at least to himself—by projecting a crisis upon a district whose schools he never even gave a chance.

* For the record, my daughter attends Mercer Island High School, where her mother now lives. Divorce is complicated. But we loved Graham Hill Elementary, and I’m pretty sure Eric’s kids would have been happy there too.

Oblivion

The House Transportation Committee passed a bill to allow the next phase of Sound Transit to go forward, if approved by the voters in the ST region. Since it didn’t get any GOP votes, and since the GOP control the state Senate, that’s going to be a tough step. Anyway, good news: The most coherent, most decent, just generally best person you’ll ever hear of, Rep. Ed Orcutt, has decided to be an ass about it!

The bill passed 13-12 almost strictly along party lines. All but one Democrat voted yea, and every Republican voted no.

“Okay, Seattle” representative Ed Orcutt (R-20, Kalama) said, “go ahead and tax yourself into oblivion.”

So first of all — and I’m aware that this is me being a broken record — the thing that’s killing us here in Seattle isn’t taxing ourselves and getting the benefits. It’s the state taxing us and sending the money to places like Kalama. Also, that isn’t killing us too badly as we’re doing fine.

Second, what does “Okay, Seattle” even mean when you vote against letting Seattle do a thing? The bullshit paternalistic rhetoric doesn’t match the bullshit paternalistic action. Pick a bullshit paternalistic lane, and bullshit paternalistic stay in it.

Third, it’s the job of a state representative to do what’s best for the state. They really shouldn’t be gleeful about the failure (even if it’s just in their head) of a part of the state they don’t represent. Honestly, if he believes his nonsense, he isn’t fit to serve.

Fourth, Sound Transit isn’t just Seattle. When Seattle needed to tax ourselves to preserve transit service, we just went ahead and did it. This is for a regional transit plan, for goodness sake.

And finally, the whole premise is silly since Sound Transit will almost certainly be a net good for the region.

I wrote most of this post on public transit. In fact, most of the writing that I do for Horse’s Ass is during my commute. If we didn’t have decent public transit, I doubt I’d have the time to write on HA. I also do some actual paid work work on my commute from time to time. I’m not really sure what the economic value of that is, but it’s not zero. It’s certainly more than my output when I drive.

Beyond just me personally, this is a growing region, and we’re going to need to get people around. Better transit isn’t just a luxury. We’re going to have to pay for it somehow, and Sound Transit, while hardly perfect, is the best option we’ve got.