HA Bible Study: Deuteronomy 23:12-14

Deuteronomy 23:12-14
Set up a place outside the camp to be used as a toilet area. And make sure that you have a small shovel in your equipment. When you go out to the toilet area, use the shovel to dig a hole. Then, after you relieve yourself, bury the waste in the hole. You must keep your camp clean of filthy and disgusting things. The LORD is always present in your camp, ready to rescue you and give you victory over your enemies. But if he sees something disgusting in your camp, he may turn around and leave.


Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Liberal Viewer: FAUX News IDIOT claims that no non-Muslims in Birmingham.

Lawrence O’Donnell: Steve Scalise’s “unbelievable” slavery explanations.

Mental Floss: 30 stories from behind the scenes of blockbusters.

The Republican War on Social Security:

James Rustad: I’m not your steppin’ stool.

Thom: FAUX News is wrong! America IS progressive.

Alex Wagner: SCOTUS primed for same sex marriage decision.

Maddow: Texas Republican Congressman apologizes for Obama/Hitler remark.

White House: Big Block of Cheese Day.

Steve Kornacki: Republicans eager to erode Wall Street Reform.

Jon explains Florida.

David Pakman: Anti-Science nutjobber Sen. Ted Cruz will oversee NASA.

Je Suis Charlie:

Mark Fiore: Whip Steve Scalise.

Ed: U.S. and England are united over Iran sanctions.

Mental Floss: Is blood ever blue?

Alex Wagner: Why deniers deny…2014 was the hottest year on Record.

Pap: Right wing extremism kills people.

Young Turks: Recreational vs medicinal marijuana…the Washington regulation debate.

Roll Call: SOTU Promo.

Sam Seder: FAUX News’ sad Petraeus conspiracy.

Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA-9) “co-sponsors” a bill he strongly opposes.

Represent.us: How to fix America.

2016 Presidential Wannabes:

People’s climate march: wrap up.

Young Turks: 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded.

David Pakman: Unemployment falls to 5.6% under Obama.

Mental Floss: Misconceptions about getting sick.

Pap: Republicans are too dysfunctional to lead.

David Pakman: “Freedom fries, boycott France” Republican hypocrites are “angry” Obama didn’t go to France:

Obama announces plan to expand broadband internet.

Maddow: Friday night news dump…weird bucket of stuff edition.

The Republican War on America’s Borders:

White House: West Wing Week.

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

Maddow: Anonymous v. ISIS.

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

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

The US House of Representatives passed a law repealing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that lets young people here without documentation a path to citizenship.

The House vote would put 600,000 so-called DREAMers back in danger of deportation.

An amendment, passed on a 218-209 vote, denies federal money or use of fees to enroll young people in the DACA program, and would not allow those already enrolled to renew.

This isn’t really a national blog, but I’m writing about it because I’m heartened by Patty Murray’s response: calling the vote “something horrible” casts it in moral terms as opposed to just well let’s have a difference of agreement. This is an important moral issue, and it’s important to say so. It’s important to raise our voices that, you know what, this is a really dickish thing to propose. And if it’s for political reasons or for what they actually believe, it’s still immoral. It’s still horrible. And it’s still worth calling out with that language.

Republicans Aren’t Smart

Raising the minimum wage is very popular. So if Washington State Republicans were smart, they would join with Democrats in passing legislation that raises the state minimum wage to $12 an hour. Or if they really want to be dicks about it, they could try to negotiate the number down to $11.50, or maybe even $11, and still claim credit for increasing the minimum wage. It would boost our economy, make voters happy, and take a potent issue away from Democrats in 2016.

But Republicans won’t join with Democrats in raising the minimum wage. Because Republicans aren’t smart.

2nd Amendment Advocates Express Their 1st Amendment Right to Be Assholes

Olympia Gun Nuts

Gun rights advocates proudly flaunt their weapons during protest at the Washington State Capitol yesterday. Because they’re assholes.

To be clear, if I were to walk onto the floor of Washington State’s house or senate chambers wearing a bulletproof vest atop my jacket and tie, I would be removed for violating the dress code. But asshole gun nuts like those pictured above are free to open-carry semi-automatic weapons into the galleries above the chambers. God bless America!

UPDATE: Lt. Governor Brad Owen has announced that openly carried firearms will no longer be allowed in the senate gallery:

Owen said it didn’t make sense to allow people to openly carry firearms while banning backpacks, signs and umbrellas.

Gee, ya think?

Another Great GOP Free Speech Idea

I was not really familiar with the Ag-Gag laws that various states are enacting. In Washington, it falls to hero of freedom, Representative Joe Schmick to take up this noble cause.

“I view it as a way to protect the farmer,” Rep. Schmick was quoted as saying in the Capital Press. “You can edit anything to make it look really bad.” (Rep. Schmick has ties to ALEC and, as of 2010, was listed as a member of its national “energy, environment, and agriculture task force.”)

That is literally true of any topic. But the great thing is that if you feel that speech isn’t right or good or just, instead of appealing to the state to squash it, you can respond if you like. Or you can just ignore it. Or — and I know this is way out there — you can respond to criticism in a way that maybe improve practices so that it’s less likely you get caught doing bad things in the future. And you become better.

National Poll: 63 Percent of Americans Support a $15 Minimum Wage

A stunning new poll conducted by Hart Research Associates finds that 63 percent of respondents support raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over five years. A less ambitious proposal to raise the minimum wage to $12.50 an hour earns an even more overwhelming 75 percent support, including support from a majority of Republicans. The poll additional finds that 82 percent of respondents support indexing the minimum wage to inflation, while 71 percent of respondents favor eliminating the federal tip credit. The survey of 1002 adults was conducted January 5-7, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.

The federal minimum wage currently stands at $7.25 an hour, and at just $2.13 an hour for tipped employees.

Why Democrats aren’t flocking to this issue, I just don’t know. It’s a political no-brainer.

Walking Distance to Transit Is a Moving Target

So the apparent success of Car2Go in incentivizing members to give up their personal vehicles—about 2,000 Seattleites, according to the company’s statistics—got me thinking about a recent article I’d seen on what it really means to live and work “close” to transit.

The conventional thinking among urban planners is that few Americans are willing to walk more than a half a mile to a transit stop; after that, ridership supposedly falls off precipitously. But a new study on the impact of proximity to a light rail station on office rents in Dallas found that a quarter of the rent premium persists nearly a full mile from transit, and at least some rent premium can be detected as much as 1.85 miles away.

That’s right: Businesses are willing to pay significantly higher rents to be about a mile from a light rail station. Which clearly implies that a significant portion of their workers are willing to walk that mile. In Texas.

That doesn’t surprise me. I live about a mile from Othello Station, and Link Light Rail has become my primary means of commuting downtown to work. No traffic, no expensive parking, and rarely an unexpected delay. It’s simply much less expensive and more convenient than driving.

To be honest, the majority of days I don’t actually walk the full mile. On days I need to drop off or pick up my daughter on Mercer Island, I park just outside the restricted area around Mt. Baker Station—the closest station to the I-90 bridge. And, I admit, on many other days I drive halfway to Othello Station, due to poor time management on my part, or bad weather. (Mostly poor time management.)

But—and here’s my main observation—I already own a car. If I did not own a car, I certainly wouldn’t buy one to take me a half mile closer to the rail station. I’d just walk it. No big deal.

According to AAA, when you add everything together, the average cost of car ownership comes to $8,876 a year. Of course, you can own a car for less. I figure my car is costing me less than $5,000 a year. But that’s not nothing. And as our transportation options increase—rail, bus, Car2Go, ZipCar, taxi, and yes, even the economically predacious TNCs like Uber and Lyft—more and more Seattleites will choose to steer clear of car ownership.

And the less we own cars, the further we’ll be willing to walk to transit. Having transformed the choice between walking and driving into a choice between walking and owning a car, a one mile walk—even a mile and a half—just won’t seem all that far.

Wasting Money

I was reading this piece about the GOP opposition to passing a carbon tax or any type of actually funding a transit package.

While some Puget Sound motorists are angry about longer commute times, House Republican Leader Dan Kristiansen of Snohomish said his constituents are telling him “you guys are blowing my money” on failed projects.

I was someone who was for a cheaper alternative. I was hoping that we could have a surface-transit option. But the state didn’t want that, and so the city voted to approve something different. I think it was a waste of money (although I also think given the will of Seattle voters, we still should try to press ahead as long as the state doesn’t try to force us to pay for the overruns).

But for the infinity squared time, Seattle really isn’t wasting money of Snohomish voters, or, like, Dan Kristiansen, um, personally. Snohomish County gives back about as much as it gets back from the state. And while I don’t have the district-by-district numbers, something tells me that’s more to do with Everett and the North Seattle suburbs than Snohomish. Meanwhile, King County gives about 62 cents for every dollar it gets back from the state. So, sure, there’s some waste in some state projects in Seattle, but it isn’t Seattle forcing poor ol’ Snohomish to pay.

If these GOP lawmakers were so concerned about the parts of the state “blowing my money” they would literally never complain about Seattle projects. We could probably fill the hole in with gold, and it wouldn’t be as wasteful as some counties, like, existing. To be clear, I understand the reasons that it costs the state more to provide services in rural and exurban areas, and am happy to pay for them for the most part. I just wish that their legislators wouldn’t pretend that city folks are blowing their money when we spend much more to get less.

Remember, It Isn’t “Bipartisan” Unless a Majority of Republicans Are on Board

Hey, remember all those times the Seattle Times editorial board lauded the so-called Majority Coalition Caucus—consisting of all 23 Republicans and just two turncoat Democrats—for their bipartisanship? Well, oddly, it seems that caucus math isn’t commutative:

But bipartisanship is already in short supply, just one day into the session. Moments after the two-thirds-rule vote, the minority Senate Democratic caucus engaged in their own parliamentary high jinks, getting conservative Republican state Sen. Pam Roach installed as president pro tempore, a top leadership position, over renegade Democratic state Sen. Tim Sheldon, who caucuses with the GOP.

Right. So 23 Republicans plus 2 Democrats equals bipartisanship, but 2 Republicans plus 23 Democrats equals the opposite. Weird.

Other than that, it’s not actually an awful editorial. I’m beginning to see a glimmer of hope that this revamped editorial board might even be open to endorsing new tax revenue.

The Republicans’ Greatest Orator, Pam Roach, Elected President Pro Tem of the Washington State Senate

In a hardy “fuck you” to turncoat Tim Sheldon, all 23 Democrats joined with two crazy Republicans to elect shooting-spree-waiting-to-happen Pam Roach the new President Pro Tempore of the Washington State Senate. Back in 2010, Roach was famously “physically separated” from her Republican caucus after an internal investigation found that she had repeatedly mistreated Republican staffers. In 2008 she was sanctioned by her caucus for creating an “intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.” And now she’s their president. Hooray for Democracy!

And so in honor of President Roach’s unique brand of statesmanship, I proudly repost her famous “Roses” speech:

Looks like this is shaping up to be quite a productive legislative session.

More Enthusiastic Support for Early Education from the Something-for-Nothing Crowd

It’s great to see the Seattle Times editorial board so enthusiastically on board in support of high quality early education. But honestly guys… the logical next step shouldn’t be all that difficult:

Talking about how beneficial early education can be for kids and families is easy. Finding money for it is a much bigger challenge.

Um… we could always raise taxes.

Early education has emerged as a promising strategy for closing the gap between low- and high-achieving students. Educators and lawmakers, both Democratic and Republican, are increasingly pushing early education as a necessity, rather than a merely “nice to have.”

Still, early education represents less than 1 percent of the state budget. During the 2013-2015 budget cycle, the state put $163 million into the Department of Early Learning.

Um… we could always raise taxes.

During this legislative session, which began Monday, lawmakers should take a hard look at how to significantly boost participation and funding in Washington’s early education programs.

Um… we could always raise taxes.

Statewide, about 41 percent of Washington’s children, ages 3 to 4, are enrolled in an early education program compared with a national average of 47 percent, according to Education Week.

Um… we could always raise taxes.

The state’s main pre-K effort is the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, known as ECEAP, that targets children ages 3 to 5 from families earning 110 percent or less than the federal poverty level. For 2014, that means an income of less than $26,235 for a family of four.

Last December, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy reported that children who participated in ECEAP scored better on standardized tests in third and fourth grade than similar children who did not attend the program.

ECEAP shows results, but participation is way too low. During the 2013-2014 school year, 48,259 children were eligible for the program, the state estimated. But the state only funded 8,741 and another 10,390 took part in Head Start, a federally-funded program.

Um… we could always raise taxes.

Therefore, about 60 percent — or more than 29,000 ECEAP-eligible students — were not enrolled in either the state or federal program.

Um… we could always raise taxes.

Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed pumping an additional $156.3 million into early education to add 6,358 slots for ECEAP as well as expanding Early Achievers, a state program that rates and trains child-care providers to provide early learning curriculum.

Um… we could always raise taxes.

The governor’s proposal recognizes the variety of ways to provide early education. Even if the state provided enough ECEAP for all eligible children, there are many other children not eligible.

Um… we could always raise taxes.

Some families prefer to send their kids to child-care centers or keep them at home with relatives. The state does not have a broad, one-size-fits all solution, but it does not have to.

As long as children are receiving some form of high-quality instruction before they enter kindergarten, they are more likely to perform better in later grades.

Um… we could always raise taxes.

Funding for early education pales in comparison to K-12, but that system is taking center stage in the state budget discussion.

Um… we could always raise taxes.

State lawmakers are grappling with how to fund the McCleary ruling, a state Supreme Court decision mandating the state to fully pay for basic education. They also face Initiative 1351, a voter-approved measure that limits class sizes and calls for about 25,000 more school employees. Funding both could cost at least $4 billion during the next biennium, according to lawmakers’ estimates.

Um… we could always raise taxes.

Elected leaders, state and local, advocate for early learning as an investment that will make K-12 students more successful. During what promises to be a tough budget battle, lawmakers must keep in mind it is never too early for a child to succeed academically.

Um… we could always raise taxes.

Seriously. It’s great to see the Seattle Times editorial board finally put its weight behind high quality early learning. Now if only they would put their weight behind raising the tax revenue necessary to pay for it (you know, the way voters just did here in Seattle), we might finally get our state’s three- and four-year-old’s the high quality preschool they deserve and need.