Your Very Preliminary Seattle Anti-Trump Inauguration Protest Calendar

So, Donald Trump is set to become the most powerful man in the world in exactly two weeks. Much of Seattle is not pleased about this. And a lot of people are planning to make their feelings known in public.

Since it’s hard to organize things over the holidays, this list is just starting to come together, subject to change and likely addition. Make your plans, and I’ll update in about a week.

Also, almost all of these events have Facebook event pages of their own. Find them, share them with your friends, and let the organizers know you’re coming!

And then after this wave of protests subsides, keep working, to help create the alternative policies and groups we’ll desperately need to mitigate what will be a crisis on too many fronts to recite here. Everyone will be affected by the takeover of the federal government by radical nihilists, con artists, and moral scolds. Everyone. This IS a local issue.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 13, 6-8 PM: El Comite and others are organizing a forum for undocumented and other immigrants from around the state to tell their stories and to organize. St. Mary’s Church, 611 20th Ave. S.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 14, 12-2 PM: “Resist Trump: Town Hall Action Meeting”, a meeting for organizing strategies and trainings, hosted by the “Seattle Resist Trump Coalition” (which includes the organizers of all of these other events – there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes coordination happening.) Bertha Knight Landes Room, Seattle City Hall, 5th & James.

MONDAY, JANUARY 16, 9:30 AM-4:30 PM: “Stop the Hate: Come Together” is the theme of the 35th annual MLK Day Celebration at Garfield High School, 23rd Ave. & Jefferson St. in the Central District. You can bet this year’s “celebration” will be all about building a more loving and inclusive alternative to Trump’s America. 9:30-10:50, workshops; 11 AM, gymnasium rally; 12:30, march to Federal Building, 2nd Ave. & Madison St., where there will be another rally; 1-4:30, Career Fair at Garfield.

FRIDAY. JANUARY 20 will bring the biggest inauguration protests in US history in Washington, DC…and in Seattle.

ALL MORNING: Student walkouts around the city
; students will convene at noon at Seattle Central Community College (aka Seattle College), Broadway & Pine.

1 PM: El Comite is organizing an immigrants’ rights march – doubtless joined by lots of students and other sympathizers – starting with a 1 PM rally at Judkins Park, 22nd Ave. just south of Jackson, and then marching downtown to the Federal Building, 2nd Ave. & Madison St., to join the 4 PM Seattle Resist Trump Coalition rally, which will then march to Westlake Park, 4th Ave. & Pine St., for yet more 5 PM speaking and agitating and whatnot into the evening.

Marching isn’t your thing? From 12-8 PM, the City of Seattle and Seattle United for Immigrant and Refugee Families are offering FREE help on a wide variety of immigration issues, from applying for visas or citizenship to legal counseling to personal safety and much more. At McCaw Hall, 319 Mercer St. on the north side of Seattle Center.

There’s also a bunch of cool bands and shows doing stuff that night to fortify us for the next four years, too.

Not enough marching for you? Good, because the largest of all of these events is likely to be…

SATURDAY, JANUARY 21, 10 AM-4 PM: Women’s March on Seattle
(in conjunction with a similar, much larger march in DC), It will convene somewhere on the south side of downtown Seattle and march north – organizers are still negotiating permits, locations, and march route with the city. As of tonight, the event Facebook page lists 25,000 people as “going” and another 40,000 as “interested.” It’ll be yuugggee.

Media Follies 2016! – Local, National, and International

It’s a holiday season tradition! Here, for the 21st year (!), is the list of overhyped and underreported stories of the year. After a year when “fake news” became a thing and a “reality” TV star became president, we can only hope it gets better. Let’s start with the local stories; national and international to follow over the holidays.

2016’s Most Over-Hyped Local Stories

Ed Murray Is Really Doing Things!: Which, like, he is, He puts out press releases. He makes splashy announcments (leaked days in advance to maximize coverage). He proclaims things. He convenes task forces and names czars and declares emergencies. All of this usually happens when somebody else is threatening to do something substantive he can’t take credit for.

The Jungle Needs to be Shut Down Because It’s a Scary Place!: And it’s true – some (not all) of the longtime ad hoc homeless encampment’s residents were pertty hard-edged people with…problems. So those folks – znd all 400 of The Jungle’s residents – were dumped onto city streets with nowhere to go instead. That was after multiple false starts while it became clear that the city was responding to a PR problem, not helping people. (Oh, and that the city’s contract with Union Gospel Mission to help relocate Jungle residents was a sad joke.)

Let’s Have a Riot!: Every time a march breaks out in Seattle – and with Trump’s election, get used to it – you can practically hear the breathless live TV reporters begging for some awesome anarchist-on-store-window or cop-on-little-old-lady action. It demeans police and protesters alike.

Plus, as usual, car crashes, fires, violent crimes, big (or not) weather “events,” heartwarming stories of photogenic kids overcoming adversity or reuniting with pets, and every other staple of Chuckle-Buddy News. Every time you watch local TV news it lowers your IQ.

2016’s Most Underreported Local Stories:

Sigh. There’s dozens to choose from:

Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Seattle’s rapidly growing population has masked an unmistakable demographic trend: the immigrants are younger, whiter, and much, much wealthier than existing residents, many of whom are being forced to leave the city in search of more affordable areas. This wholesale change in the character of who lives here has countless cultural and political implications, but local media has not only mostly ignored the trend, but has been happy to keep on featuring articles that drip with child-like wonder over real estate prices. In general, local outlets have kept right on reporting local development issues like it’s 2000 – or, in the case of the Seattle Times, 1950.

In Ayn Rand We Trust: Regardless of who Seattle’s new residents are, they need services. Utilities, infrastructure repair, transportation, schools, parks, libraries, social services, public safety, and all of the other things governments do. In our region’s case, even though the growth is a direct result of government policies – especially corporate welfare for enormous employers like Amazon and Google – those same policymakers seem to think the free market will take care of everyone’s needs. With the limited exception of light rail, there’s been no significant investment in any of these issues outside special operating levies, opting instead to fund splashy vanity projects like tunnels and streetcars while ignoring basic needs. And even those levies – for housing, parks, libraries, and first responders, among other things – have been wholly inadequate to meet the demand. At some point voters, especially ones new to the area, are going to hit their limit in regressive taxes.

The Obvious Link Between Housing Costs and Homelessness: Seattle’s exploding housing costs have gotten lots of local media attention, as a good thing. So has the steadily worsening homelessness crisis, as a bad thing. But Murray and other city officials who’ve done their best to promote the real estate frenzy work hard to treat the two issues as entirely separate, and media, shamefully, mostly follows suit.

The closing window for progressive politics in Seattle: One of those growth-related trends is that the remarkably progressive tone of this year’s city council likely won’t last. The infusion of money into local politics – and tens of thousands of new, financially comfortable voters – all but guarantees it. We’re already seeing this with the lack of a serious challenger so far to Murray’s 2017 reelection as mayor, despite the widespread criticism he’s drawn on multiple issues from both left and right. That’s a money thing – prospective candidates are concluding they can’t raise enough of it to compete with his business community support. There’s a lot more of this coming.

State and local governments have sabotaged pot legalization: Colorado, which passed a legalization initiative on the same day in 3013 as Washington state, had its retail weed system up and running in early 2014. Meanwhile, our state’s drug warrior-dominated Liquor Control Board issued only 21 retail permits for the entire state, vastly less than demand, and has repeatedly delayed even those permits. Countless local governments tried at every turn to block implementation as well. And medical marijuana patients have been brutally sacrificed to the commercial market. Little wonder the black market for pot continues to thrive. That wasn’t supposed to happen with legalization.

Olympia is heading for a train wreck for the ages: The state legislature punted again on education funding in 2016, opting to “solve” its ongoing contempt of the state supreme court by, incredibly, agreeing to convene a task force to study the problem. This year’s elections, which kept tax-hostile Republicans in charge of the state senate, will simply perpetuate that problem.

But if congressional Republicans nad the cabinet members nominated so far by President-Elect Donald Trump are to be believed, much worse is coming. Repeal of the Affordble Care Act without any alternative would force hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians out of AppleCare, and often out of health insurance entirely, unless the state can replace that federal funding. It’d also be a disaster for health care providers. Republicans are also vowing to privatize Medicare and Social Security. Meanwhile, federal education funding looks like it will be tied to charter school funding requirements that would be unconstitutional under state law, and federal housing money also looks to be on the chopping block. Ditto for environmental protection and a host of other departments.

Olympia will be asked to pay for all of these things. It can’t. Instead, it will be forced to make some impossible choices, and those choices will come with a death toll.

Ditto for the City of Seattle: Seattle’s problem isn’t tax-averse politicians. It’s that, as noted above, the limited taxing options allowed by state law – mostly property, B&O, and sales taxes – are already closed to maxxed out in terms of what many individuals can afford. So is bonding capacity and Seattle’s ability to pass special levies for ordinary needs.

The impossible choice for local leaders will be between cutting programs brutally, and finding the courage to tax local businesses (especially real estate and big employers) and close tax loopholes, and to tax wealthy local residents at a higher rate than the rest of us rather than simply trying to pile on more regressive sales taxes. The state can’t even fund basic needs; the city can, but instead has largely chosen to fund other things, usually for the direct benefit of developers and major employers.

Seattle Public Schools is already in trouble: Seattle’s troubled school district announced public hearings last month on what items it should cut for a worst-case 2017-18 budget that assumes Olympia will continue to underfund K-12 education – an all-too-likely scenario which would lead to a $75 million shortfall for local public schools.

Did I mention that SPD is still a problem?

2016’s Most Over-Hyped National Stories

Hillary Clinton’s State Department e-mails: “Those damned e-mails” were neither a scandal (much as Clinton’s Republican opponents tried to make it one) nor a story, though the political witchhunt over them was a story – and, with a big assist from the FBI, directly cost Clinton the presidency and the country its future. Meanwhile, the e-mail story that was much, much more important, that little hacking incident with the DNC, got far less attention when it was needed most.

Any scheme, whether by disaffected Republicans or Democrats, to deny Donald Trump first the nomination and then the presidency: That also included Hillary Clinton’s entire campaign, AND the fact that she won the popular vote handily, AND that Trump and congressional Republicans will somehow be slowed down by their lack of a “mandate” in 2017. All of it ompletely missed the political reality of the given moment – but it built up a bunch of fake drama to drive viewership and page clicks, I guess.

Anything involving Donald Trump’s Twitter account or vocal cords: It’s what he DID, not what he said or tweeted, that was important in 2016. (Though that changes in 2017; as President, even his words and social media outbursts could be enough to start World War Three).

Business-as-usual horse race reporting of the presidential election: That including almost any “if the election were today…” polling, which was only deeply irrelevant, but, as it turned out, wrong.

2016’s Most Underreported National Stories:

There were a lot of important underreported national stories this year, but really, these are the ones whose criminally negligent coverage by US corporate media in real time will, decades from now, be cited as hugely historically pivotal. That’s if anyone is still alive in a few decades to remember that the beginning of the end came with a pivotal embrace by US voters of ignorance, economic nihilism, and neo-fascism, an embrace lubricated by the misreporting (or non-reporting) of stories like these:

Hillary Clinton’s establishment allies at the Democratic National Committee: Egged on by millions of enraged Sanders supporters, national political media gave a lot of attention to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and her many friends for abusing their supposedly neutral positions to try to block support for Sanders. That was why nearly even primaries and caucuses were rendered moot by Clinton’s overwhelming lead among party insider “superdelegates.”

But what got less attention is that a fringe party outsider like Sanders could get so much traction against Clinton in the first place – as much due to her well-known weaknesses as a candidate as to Sanders’ strengths. A more established progressive Democrat would have beaten Hillary – just as Obama did in 2008. Long before Sanders became a factor, party insiders – including the same clueless DNC morons who couldn’t be bothered to follow up on reports that the Russians were hacking their computers – made sure Hillary would get no such challengers precisely because they knew she couldn’t withstand serious scrutiny as a candidate, but thought she could still beat whichever radical nutjob the Republicans spit up.

That arrogance cost Democrats the White House, and the rest of us a future. Democratic leaders actively discouraged credible candidates, including a sitting vice president in Joe Biden, from running against an uninspiring but well-connected candidate because it was supposedly her turn, or something – and media played right along. These folks bear primary responsibility for letting a narcissistic, sociopathic con man get the most powerful job in the world while his dysfunctional, reality-challenged party now controls every branch of government. Many Americans voters never wanted what is coming, but genuinely didn’t know better. These Democrats did, and media gave them a free pass for their petty, cocooned insider bullshit.

Meanwhile, on the other side, the Republican Party Civil War was over before it even began. The radicals won, largely because the Republicans’ nomination processes, both for Congress and the presidency, were far more democratic than the Democrats’. And credulous media coverage of all of the Republican presidential candidates – even though most of them were so ludicrously inappropriate for the office as to be laughable – normalized Teh Crazee to the extent that a Donald Trump could get elected as a president with no serious vetting and virtually unchecked power.

Speaking of normalizing the unthinkable, the unprecedented Republican strategy of refusing to consider a qualified Supreme Court nominee worked exactly as planned. This means that the same strategy will get rolled out again the next time one party controls the White House and the other controls the Senate. What ought to have been a constitutional crisis, and what should have been reported as such, is instead now the new normal.

National media punditry is all abuzz with speculation about what the newly empowered Republicans in Congress will do in 2017, but there’s no mystery: They told us exactly what they would like to do with Trump (or any other Republican) in the White House. But while Congressional Republicans tried over and over to default on the US debt, repealed Obamacare sixty bazillion times, and vowed to stop taxing the rich, bomb anyone they could, abolish the social safety net and all regulations of corporate America, kill The Gayz and put a bible in every classroom, the same media mandarins basically ignored them or laughed at them rather than taking them seriously. At the risk of Godwin blah blah, they didn’t take Hitler’s explicit plans seriously back in the day, either.

Well beyond his “temperment,” Trump is the first president in US history to have no previous public sservice experience at all. Even political neophytes like Dwight Eisenhauer had spent a lifeime in military service. After a generation of ideologues claiming that “running government like a business” is somehow a good idea, it was media’s job to point out that government and transnational companies like Trump’s have very different missions from government at any level, and leading them requires radically different skillsets. A corporate leader can pick and choose whose business he wants, and can basically ignore anyone else. There are names for political leaders who try to do that; they start with “fascist” and get worse.

Trump is also the first major party nominee in modern US history to likely be indictable on multiple wholly unrelated types of felonious crimes, most of which went badly underreported, from allegations of endless fraudulent tax schemes to mob connections to financial improprieties to illegal foreign dealings to tax fraud to alleged rape and sexual assault to incitement to riot. And sadly, that doesn’t include being a racist xenophobic bully, which is still entirely legal. Even now, as Trump’s multiple foreign conflicts of interest and allegiances to Russia come under question, media has somehow forgotten that buried in last year’s Panama Papers scandal of mostly foreign high end money laundering, were numerous details of Trump campaign guru Paul Manafort’s financial ties with Russian billionaires and crime bosses. Trump’s past is dripping with this stuff, and his profile for decades has been one of an extremely wealthy con artist whose primary victims are the people he gets to front him money, time and again. Does the American public know or care? And if not, why not?

Of course, there was also the matter that, as Trump famously (and correctly) noted, he could walk down a Manhattan street and shoot someone and most of his followers wouldn’t care. But who are those followers? That was largely misreported, too. The core of Trump’s support wasn’t either racist rednecks (the liberal caricature) or laid off steel workers (the even more idiotic Beltway Pundit caricature) – those jobs had mostly disappeared by 1980. Polling data consistently showed that Trump’s base was largely older suburban white guys without a lot of education but relatively financially comfortable. They were mad as hell – about immigrants, about non-whites, about their children’s and grandchildren’s futures – but they were neither hillbillies nor working stiffs. The media profiles were simply wrong.

A lot of things about Trump’s ascent to power have been unprecedented but given a veneer of normalcy, mostly out of inertia and institutional respect, by a lazy media. Most critically of late, Trump’s appointments as president-elect – which I’ll profile in depth shortly in a separate piece – are an unprecedented mix of billionaires, fringe zealots, Russiaphiles and incompetents united only by their complete lack of relevant experience for the jobs they would try to fill. It’s been hard to single out a particularly outrageous appointment because almost all of them have been outrageous – but that trend simply mustn’t be mentioned in polite media circles.

Climate change rudely ignores domestic US politics: The Trump cabal has already been quoted, redolent of the worst moments of George W. Bush, that they can say whatever they like because “we create our own reality.” Nature begs to differ. After yet another year of record heat and drought, wildfires across the US West, ocean acidification, more unprecedented extreme weather events, and endless scientific announcements that climate change is going to be worse than we thought and is proceeding at rates faster than our previous worst-case scenarios, the United States went and had a presidential election in which climate change – America’s biggest economic threat, biggest domestic policy threat, and biggest foreign policy threat – was literally never mentioned. And US voters elected a president and party that is more than happy to triple-mortgage the future livability of our biosphere for quarterly oil profits. Climate change has already passed the point of irreversibility; now it’s a only question of whether humanity can mitigate enough of the damage in time to survive. If nails get hammered into a planet-sized coffin in the forest, does anybody hear them?

What the United States government, which governs the country that remains the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, isn’t doing to respond to this crisis isn’t just a crime against humanity. It’s a crime against the entire biosphere, one of unprecedented scope and depravity. If our country in this era isn’t remembered with universal revulsion in the future, it will only be because humanity is extinct.

The Republican Party has lost touch with reality: The unprecedented use of bald-faced, easily refuted, and endlessly repeated lies by high-profile Republican leaders and every single one of its 4,623 presidential candidates has become normal – and even on the rare occasions when mainstream media calls BS on the lies, nobody cares. The inmates are now running the asylum that is now the modern Republican Party. The coming year is going to be dangerous and surreal.

2016’s Most Over-Hyped International Stories

The one exception to American media’s disinterest in the world’s other six billion people comes when there’s a major terrorist attack in Israel or a NATO country. If that same terror attack, however, comes in a country enjoying the fruits of Pax Americana (Afghanistan, Iraq), or anywhere in the remaining, irrelevant world (Africa, say, or Asia – one of those places), it’s a non-story. And even when such attacks are covered, usually because they’re in Europe, good luck finding any context.

Since there is no longer any international news reporting in most US media, about all we’re left with is sports. Which meant, this past year, the Summer Olympics. Should we successfully avoid WWIII, the 2018 World Cup in Qatar will be next up.

2016’s Most Underreported International Stories:

The intentional US strategy in Syria this past year was to encourage a stalemate that would weaken both sides/ That has, as an inevitable result, been a prime factor in the enormous death toll, the humanitarian crisis (and both the neo-fascist and the terrorist backlash in Europe), and a new proxy war with Russia. And, of course, ISIL itself came into existence as a direct result of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the CIA’s desire circa 2007 to gin up the terrorist threat in Iraq to stem flagging US public support for that fiasco. But you’d never know about the American fingerprints all over this crisis from American media.

That new proxy war with Russia also included a vast expansion of US military bases and activity in a ring surrounding Russia, from the North Pacific to Central Asia to Turkey and Eastern Europe – a context entirely missing from “Russia hacked us! How dare they!” stories.

Israel’s unprecedented “settler” expansion is not only grossly illegal, but far more controversial in Israel itself than in the US, which has been helping to both bankroll and provide bipartisan political cover for Israel’s explicitly genocidal.operation.

The intentional Israeli policy of blockading Palestinians enough to keep them desperate, but not dying en masse, is a direct model for the destructive balancing game Obama has been playing in Syria – and the once-unthinkable Israeli policy of foreign assassinations is now standard US policy, too. The US will likely be an international human rights pariah under Trump, but he’ll only be building on Obama’s war crimes, just as Obama built on Bush’s.

Trump’s election, as well as 2016’s Brexit vote, are both part of an internationally coordinated movement of far-right, openly racist/nationalist advances in Western democracies, a movement largely taking its cues from Moscow, not Washington. Proxies for President-Elect Trump have already quietly been meeting with far-right neo-fascist and white supremacist party leaders in Europe, who in turn are getting much of their financial backing from Moscow. Trump is part of a very dangerous game, and he’s a prominent pawn in it, but not a player.

Afghanistan is a total, but forgotten, clusterfuck: The national army of Afghanistan is the Taliban. Green on blue attacks are so frequent now that no one knows who’s a loyal member of the Afghan National Army and who’s a Taliban infiltrator. Meanwhile, aerial drone attacks have alienated most of the countryside, which never supported the corrupt, American-imposed puppet government in Kabul in the first place. That government is collapsing from its own corruption and greed now that the American military is supposedly in a “non-combat” role.

Police States R Us: While the US and its media, with ample justification, demonized the authoritarian governments of Syria and North Korea, it paid almost no attention to the steadily more authoritarian governments of Turkey, Egypt and South Korea – the bigger nearby regional powers, to which the US continues to give massive amounts of military assistance despite our pro-democratic rhetoric.

And, on that cheerful note, get out and make your own news in 2017. If this compilation suggests anything, it’s that we can’t rely on corporate media to push for change, or even to tell us when change is desperately needed. We’ll have to do both ourselves.

Meet US President Vladimir Putin

The United States has eight days to figure out how to avoid making Vladimir Putin the de facto President of the United States.

Back in the days of the Cold War, it was a staple of far-right conservative paranoia that The Russians (i.e., the Soviets) were intent on taking over the United States. From the McCarthy witch hunts to the idiot-fantasy Red Dawn, the Ruskies – who hated our freedoms and coveted our precious bodily fluids – wanted nothing less than to take over the US so as to destroy Our Way Of Life.

These fears were used to destroy lives, but the targets, it turns out, were entirely misplaced. Even in the McCarthy Era, the US itself was busy showing how modern takeovers of foreign countries were done. Old-fashioned conquest and colonialism was dead. It turned out to be far more efficient to identify some willing local financial or military elite, promote him to dictator, and let him and his cronies do your dirty work and suppress the locals for you in exchange for unimaginable wealth. For 70 years and counting, in countries around the world, that’s what US-backed dictators and elected would-be dictators have eagerly signed up to do.

Enter Donald Trump, and the unsurprising irony that when Russia really did take over the US, it used the American colonial model and the eager dupes of modern Bircherism to do it.

Friday’s Washington Post report that US intelligence agencies have conclusively agreed that Putin and Russia acted this year not only to interfere in the US election, but to do so to get Donald Trump elected president, sounds worse than it is politically. The CIA’s case can’t be conclusively proven, as Trump’s allies would simply accuse it of inventing the evidence. Trump can’t be impeached for crimes committed by others in his name before he was even elected, even if his own party (which controls the Congressional impeachment process) were inclined to do so. And he can’t be charged criminally while in office. As such, he’ll likely pay no real price for these revelations and can afford to blow them off (as he’s already done). And any Trump revelations, no matter how damaging, are simply not believed by his faith-based fans.

But in the broader picture, the CIA story is far, far worse than it sounds. The same circumstantial evidence trail that concludes that Russia wanted Trump in office doesn’t stop with Inauguration Day. If, for the sake of argument, I’m Vladimir Putin and I want the US neutered globally and destroyed domestically, Trump – as a wealthy, egomaniacal yet wholly inexperienced local elite with no real loyalties – is nearly the ideal of the US’s own preferred model of puppet dictators, non-military version. So I get people to stroke his ego and I send him Paul Manafort and other top US allies I’ve worked with before, and soon he’s nodding his head like the pliant narcissist I knew he’d be.

And now that Trump has actually won, it’s hard so far to find a single Trump appointment I wouldn’t have suggested. His – my – US national security team is poised to be composed entirely of retired generals who are various combinations of Russian allies, ideological fringe players, and incompetents, few of which have any relevant experience. Taken as a whole, they’re perfectly suited to unwittingly destroying US alliances, bogging the US down in petty local wars, and letting my Russia do whatever it likes.

Domestically? If I were Putin and wanted to engineer domestic American collapse- and the European economy with it – I’d go for fringe ideologues, people who have no relevant experience, and billionaires. That covers the entire domestic Trump team. At least three of Trump’s nominees virulently oppose the entire mission of the department they’re being hired to destroy lead; the economy is in the hands of people with gold-plated jets; housing and the cities are being given to a dude who thinks the pyramids were used to store grain; and none of them have ever managed an organization anywhere the size of the department they’ve been picked to head.

All of them, starting with my lead puppet in the White House, are genetically wired to brook no dissent. And those RNC hacks that were never released? The RNC does opposition research on their own people, too, and most of the RNC’s leadership was strongly opposed to Trump. My pliant Dear Leader knows that if he doesn’t follow orders, his tax returns or mob connections or the video I have of him and that nice Russian 13-year-old, or all three, will be sent out on his Twitter account instantly.

For a brilliant ex-KGB man like Vladimir Putin, putting together this sort of dream scenario is the equivalent of a parlor game, something to amuse and distract him from the more serious problems of his position. I doubt he ever thought he’d get to actually do all this. But here we are.

Is this all an intentional Russian plot? Who knows? Maybe Donald Trump really is just that arrogant and stupid. But honestly – does it matter? The fact that the question can even plausibly be asked is bad enough. The outcome is the same regardless.

Putin has Trump’s nuts in a vice or he doesn’t. We can’t know that part until he cracks them open, and by then it’s much, much too late. Either way, the American experiment with democracy may not survive. Either way, a hell of a lot of Americans will not ourselves survive the ideologically-driven Dickensian nightmare being lined up as you read this.

In the dozens of smaller countries where the US has backed or installed authoritarian leaders over the past several decades, it’s consistently been hard for the locals to oust those leaders. The suffering often lasts for generations. There’s a reason the US and other former colonial powers (including, now, Russia among its former republics) have all embraced this model. It works.

And now, the US is in such an unfamiliar position, receiving what for generations it has dished out, that only now is even a portion of our political establishment realizing the scope of the danger. We now have eight days to prevent Vladimir Putin from essentially becoming our Commander in Chief. After that, the remedies – starting with President Pence – get much more difficult and problematic, and the domestic death toll of vulnerable and poor starts to mount. The United States is facing an existential threat, and not only doesn’t know it, but is seeing it implemented by the spiritual descendants of the same people who used to worry so much about it.

Hyperbolic? I sure hope so.

But right now, five weeks into life with Donald Trump as incoming President of the United States, I’m not seeing any other theory that explains Trump’s actions and decisions nearly so well. And every day is bringing fresh evidence that whether or not President Trump is a Putin pawn, the chaos and suffering that is about to be unleashed on so many of us is real. Trump and his team are real, radical, and they will soon have very few real checks on their power.

Putin’s laughing, and benefiting, whether he’s responsible or not. It’ll be just as bad regardless.

Eight days.

Memo to Eastern Washington: Go Ahead. Secede. Please.

Amidst all the odious wingnuttery-infused bills now being filed by Republicans in advance of next month’s legislative session in Olympia, one in particular, House Joint Memorial 4000, filed by Reps. Bob McCaslin Jr. (R-Spokane Valley/Jurassic), Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley/Pliocene), and David Taylor (R-Yakima/Pleistocene), caught my eye. After a few “Whereas”‘s, the “Therefore” reads like this:

NOW, THEREFORE, Your Memorialists respectfully pray that the Congress of the United States consent to the formation of a new state to be named and known as the state of Liberty whose western boundary follows the crest of the Cascade mountains and the western borders of Okanogan, Chelan, Kittitas, Yakima, and Klickitat counties, and whose eastern, northern, and southern boundaries are the existing state borders.

In other words, they want the portion of Washington State east of the Cascades to secede, becoming the new state of “Liberty.” [sic]

At last, a Tea Party idea I can enthusiastically support. Please proceed. Don’t let the door hit you, etc.

Yesterday was the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, an annual remembrance much loved by these sorts of self-styled patriots. But amidst all the media remembrances, the most immediately relevant aspect of this year’s anniversary was all but ignored. The bombing of Pearl Harbor was a seminal event for a generation of Americans whose sensibilities were forged by surviving a global depression followed by a global war against fascism. That generation broadly understood the need for shared sacrifice, that as a society we truly all are dependent upon each other. That generation created a vibrant middle class, an extensive safety net for those less fortunate, and mechanisms like the GI Bill that promoted unprecedented opportunity and class mobility. That generation, in the ’30s, was given the opportunity to embrace fascism. They rejected it so decisively that it’s taken 80 years to become a serious prospect again.

For decades aging hagiographers have called people of the Pearl Harbor era the “Greatest Generation,” but in reality it was just a generation responding to circumstance: the messes, here and in Europe, left by preceding Gilded Age hedonists. They weren’t particularly heroic; they just applied the lessons at hand, learned at the price of enormous human suffering.

And once they died off, over the last 40 years people like the sponsors of the state of “Liberty” have been trying to undo their legacies – culminating in the election of Donald Trump and the ascension to power of a generation of fringe ideologues who make the Gilded Age’s narcissists look altrustic. Nationally, we’re now facing rule by a cabal opposed not just to all public policies that help the less fortunate, but the very notion that they should give a fuck about anyone else, ever. That’s their idea of “Liberty,” though it notably excludes repealing laws that restrict the behavior of the many classes of people they don’t like. That’s why, ideologically, they’re less like libertarians and more like a white nationalist strain of fascists.

Which brings us to this week’s proposal for Eastern Washington to secede and form the state of Liberty.

According to the state’s Office of Financial Management, 22 of the 23 counties in this prospective new state are sucking hard at the teat of big state government. The booming economy of Puget Sound – especially King County – subsidizes most of the rest of Washington state. Only six counties – King, Kittitas, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom – generate more in tax revenue than the state lavishes upon them in expenditures – led by King County, which accounts for 42 percent of state revenue and only 29 percent of expenditures. (Thurston County, which includes Olympia, might also be a net positive were it not the seat of state government.)

Of those six counties, only one – Kittitas County, which includes Ellensburg and a number of smaller communities that cater to tourism from Seattle area residents – is east of the Cascades. In general, the state’s more rural counties are the biggest welfare bums, led by Ferry County, northwest of Spokane, a deep red county which gets $3.16 in state money for every dollar it contributes.

The sponsors of Liberty might be fine with this apparent lack of money to subsidize their new state, since they claim to not want to fund government anyway – but they’ll still need plenty of money for their corporate welfare buddies and to pay for locking up Teh Gayz and policing women’s ladyparts. And honestly, why should those of us in Seattle pay for that?

More pointedly, it’s the Republican delegation in Olympia, as typified by these three bill sponsors, which continues to prevent our state from reforming its antiquated tax structure and to block adequate education funding. In the era of Trump, our state face enormous additional pressures to replace lost federal funding for education, health care, housing, and any number of other urgent social needs. If Eastern Washington’s obstructionists go away, we just might be able to do that. If they stay, there’s no chance at all.

So, by all means, politicians from Liberty: Go away. Take half the state with you – the half that’s an economic dead weight on Puget Sound, and the half that prevents the rest of us from applying the lessons in shared sacrifice evoked by Pearl Harbor. We can take care of the social problems caused by explosive economic growth, and you can be West Idaho. Godspeed.

As a gesture of our profound gratitude, we’ll even let you take charge of clearing snow out of the passes. That way, when your new state goes bankrupt and the unplowed snow piles up, we’ll be protected from all the people wanting to flee Liberty.

Of course, a lot of people in Eastern Washington, just as in the states already controlled by politicians deeply opposed to the Enlightenment, will suffer needlessly under Liberty’s new regime. But there’s an easy remedy for that: stop electing reactionary white guys like Shea, McCaslin, and Taylor.

Or, if you insist, go ahead and keep electing them. Just don’t inflict them on the rest of us. Take your state and leave us alone. The sooner the better.

We’ll be just fine. Honest.

I Need Your Help

HELP LAUNCH FORBIDDEN CITY!! Next Tuesday, November 29, is “#Giving Tuesday,” an annual event that’s gotten traction in the last couple of years, in which people are encouraged to donate for the holiday season. It’s a fine idea, but one that seems kind of backwards to me: the notion that we should, on each Tuesday after Thanksgiving, give to our favorite causes after we’ve spent all our money on “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday.” Seems to me it would be a stronger statement against holiday consumerism to encourage people to prioritize giving first. Like, say, today.

By the time of this year’s election, I had hoped to have a new media project launched that I’m really excited about. Forbidden City is a social media, web site, radio and video project that offers full time reporting and commentary on local and national issues from the standpoint of those of us who are resisting the pressure to abandon Seattle. Nobody ever voted to swap out Seattle’s entire population for a newer, wealthier, whiter, more culturally homogeneous population that enjoys and can afford exorbitant homes in ugly buildings.

While there’s a number of great alternative media outlets in Seattle now, none of them are being written by and for people interested in personal and political resistance to this transformation of a city we love into something unwelcoming, forbidden, to anyone without a six-figure income.

That includes me, of course. As many of you are aware, for the last couple of years most of my time has been consumed by two major tasks: managing the health of my partner, Revel Smith, and myself; and scrambling to find the money that our staying alive requires. I live with the effects from long-term immunosuppression from my kidney and pancreas transplants and from the slow failure of my non-native kidney; last year, for example, I spent eight long months dealing with a nasty and persistent e-coli infection. Revel has multiple sclerosis, and various complications from that. We’re both remarkably functional considering, but we’re still both disabled and our health isn’t predictable enough for either of us to have regular employment. Moreover, this country’s medical system isn’t exactly friendly to people who are permanently disabled and on fixed incomes.

My health is much improved this year, and Forbidden City is what I want to be working on full time. And now there’s also an urgent need to share information on the many attacks on poor, working, and middle class people that the surprise election of Donald Trump are already generating. What I’d like to do is to be able to raise enough, from people who want to help sustain Forbidden City, to be able to reimburse me for my professional time, so that I can devote my non-health management time to it – rather than to the scattershot work and help from friends that has taken my time instead of late.

This month, instead of launching FC. I’ve been helping support Revel as she’s dealt with a significant MS flare and a course of home IV steroids that in the short tern has left her weak and seriously ill. That has had to take priority over Forbidden City. Tomorrow I’ll need to spend much of the day going with her to two more medical appointments. She’s not strong enough to ride a bus right now, and as I write this we don’t have enough money in either of our names to pay for cab fare. She’ll recover soon enough; the IV steroids are a treatment she’s had a dozen times before over the years, and while the side effects are brutal, they’re also predictable and it just takes time to heal. But in the meantime we still have to cope with it, and to find the funds to deal with the unexpected costs of illness. And poor is, in and of itself, also incredibly time-consuming. This morning, for example, I spent two hours waiting in line at a neighborhood food bank, only to discover that it had mostly been picked clean by the 200 or so people in front of me.

It’s Time to Change This

This is the reality for many thousands of people in what has become a staggeringly wealthy city.

This carousel of need is what I’ve been doing instead of full time writing and editing about Donald trump’s America and Ed Murray’s Seattle. But on this, more sensible Giving Tuesday, you can change that.

You can not only help me deal with our immediate need over this holiday week of navigating Revel’s recovery, but help cover the costs and time of the remaining web development, graphic software, and other expenses I need to meet to launch Forbidden City – with the information, strategies, and resistance we’ll need to navigate TrumpTime.

I’m well aware of the irony of having been too poor to afford to launch a media project dedicated to combatting the class war being waged in our city and country. But I also know our strength, politically and culturally, is in our community. And I know I’m the right person for this project, with decades of front line media and activist experience; it’s the right time; and if it’s up and running, I’m also confident there will be plenty of people who want to contribute time, content, and funding to tearing down the walls of our Forbidden City..

I just need to get from here to there, and you can help bridge that. There’s a PayPal button to your right; all money raised will go to Forbidden City’s launch. Or, for the old schoolers, the mailing address is Forbidden City, PO Box 85541, Seattle WA 98145. And message me if you’re interested in helping with content. There’s thousands of stories waiting to be told in the Forbidden City. Thank you very much for your help!!

Seattle’s Challenges Under Trump

The election of Donald Trump as president, and control of all three branches of government by radical Republicans, will drastically impact what are already a surprising number of urgent social and political crises for a city experiencing such unprecedented economic growth.

That growth, as the Census Bureau has reported, has included both rapid population growth and the enormous relative wealth of Seattle’s new residents. That, in turn, has led to far greater income inequality, especially for people of color; interrelated crises of lack of affordable housing and homelessness; and an exodus, to distant suburbs and beyond, of people who can no longer afford to live in the city of Seattle itself.

At least three actions, expected to happen early in a Congress under Donald Trump, will make all this far worse:

1) Repeal of ObamaCare: The likeliest scenario is that the Affordable Care Act won’t be “fixed” – it will simply be abolished, replaced by nothing. That means that a cash-strapped state, whose legislature is already in contempt of the state supreme court for failing to adequately fund K-12 education, will either need to find the money to fund AppleCare on its own or face the prospect of several hundred thousand Washingtonians, many in the Puget Sound region, suddenly having no health insurance.

Two other factors will compound that crisis. The first is that the state is likely to lose a lot of education funding under Trump, who has endorsed far right plans to abolish the Department of Education entirely. That will throw the state’s education funding into even greater disarray. At the same time, Republicans also retained control of the state senate in Olympia, meaning they will be likely to block almost any state revenue increases – let alone the desperately needed structural reforms to our state’s antiquated and uniquely regressive tax system, a system that has left state budgets in chronic disarray despite the Puget Sound region’s prosperity. For at least the next two years, any such reforms would need to come though the initiative process. Even if such a measure were to be passed by Washington voters – voters even more likely to be tax-averse once Trump controls the economy – it couldn’t be implemented quickly enough to help alleviate the loss of federal funds
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2) Unprecedented federal tax cuts: Trump’s tax cut plan is at least three times bigger than the 2001 George W. Bush cuts that almost immediately devoured the federal surplus built up under Bill Clinton. Not surprisingly, the Trump plan skews heavily toward reducing taxes on the extremely rich – it would blow a gaping hole in the federal budget while providing little or no consumer spending stimulus to the economy, increasing the likelihood of an economic downturn. Washington’s tax system, with its reliance on sales taxes and no income tax, is especially vulnerable to such downturns – compounding state and city budget problems.

And the same ideologues who’ve forced multiple federal budget crises over their opposition to raising the debt ceiling or paying existing debts now control both Congress and the White House. A completely gratuitous economic depression is always a possibility.

3) Housing and Social Services cuts: The most commonly mentioned names for Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services are all men with histories of dubious ethics: Florida Gov. Rick Scott, former Rep. Newt Gingrich, and, most often mentioned of late, Christian con man Dr. Ben Carson. None of them have expertise in administering health or human services, but all are committed budget warriors ideologically opposed to a social safety net. It’s safe to expect that federal funding for programs like, for example, Section 8 housing vouchers will be cut harshly or entirely eliminated. Privatization of Social Security and Medicare will be on the table as a priority. Just about any nonprofit that gets United Way funding benefits from the federal government at some point in its operation, and they’ll all be reeling in the new regime.

The Impact in Seattle

I wrote last month about Seattle’s closing progressive window, and how its new, more prosperous residents are, by sheer demographics, far less likely to support the kinds of liberal social legislation, especially for the most vulnerable among us, that has been championed by the current council.

That demographic trend will amplify the federal budget buzzsaw. For example, Mayor Murray’s homelessness program, which deemphasizes shelters in favor of temporary market vouchers in part to appeal to federal funding guidelines, may now see that federal funding disappear entirely anyway – at the same time homelessness continues to explode and the local political backlash against the homeless increases. Trump’s climate change denial, emphasis on fossil fuels, and on-again, off-again vow to abolish the EPA entirely mean that funding for both the state Department of Ecology and a host of city programs, from cleaner watersheds to cleaner energy, will be in jeopardy. And so on, throughout every city department.

In addressing such problems, the city, like the state, will be cash-poor even in its opulence. The city’s insistence on shouldering many of the financial burdens caused by hyper-development won’t likely change in the face of economic uncertainty, and the city is constrained, just like the state, by limited taxing options as well as a full plate of bonding obligations. At the same time, Seattle’s newer, wealthier voting base is less likely to support more radical measures to fund what will surely be a staggering human need. The city will need to make hard choices. Without concerted public pressure, in such situations the most vulnerable are almost always the first ones sacrificed. Advocates for human needs programs better get busy.

One piece of good news, sort of: Trump’s new Attorney General, expected to be Rudy Giuliani, likely won’t care much about any future Department of Justice monitoring of the Seattle Police Department.

So there’s that.

The Road Ahead

I wrote earlier today about the scale and urgency of the political crisis now before us, globally and nationally. Now, I want to address how best to tackle it. There are urgent local challenges as well, both related and separate; I’ll write about that next.

First, let’s start with what I think are some extraordinarily wise words this morning from my friend and colleague Martin Longman, aka Booman:

I’d like to discourage you from engaging in widespread recriminations against people who you will now need as your allies. Some of it you might just need to get out of your system. Say it and be done with it.

There’s a lot of places to place blame, but most of the people you’d be blaming are feeling just as upset as you.

Try to have some dignity. And don’t make things worse than they have to be. Maybe look for some new voices who weren’t aggressively wrong all year long. Give others a chance to put their brains to this new set of daunting problems and challenges. Don’t let old habits and animosities blind you to the fact that you have a lot of new people on your team now who are interested in making peace at least long enough to make common cause.

Most of all, be forgiving to each other.

I would add to this that while understanding how we got to this point is essential, much of it we already know. Progressives have been pointing out the rot at the core of our body politic for years, from our public institutions to our major political parties to our economic and environmental recklessness to our corrupt corporate media. Many of us have already been under attack for years; you already step over some of the victims each day. This war already has casualties, in our cities and around the world. The problems are known.

The best ways to combat those problems? That’s where our failures lie. Already, we live in an oligarchy, not a democracy. Already, we live in a society with a serious disconnect, in issue after issue after issue, between what polls tell us the public wants and what the public officials we vote for actually enact. The reasons for that disconnect are also well known, the solutions also elusive.

The silver lining to this catastrophe is that nearly half the country voted against Donald Trump and all that he stands for. Certainly, very few people voted for Hillary Clinton, a widely disliked politician whose rise to and exercise of power almost perfectly encapsulates the institutional rot at the core of our politics. This election was a referendum on that institutional rot, and Trump won, despite his obvious flaws and dangers, because he was willing to name it. It’s his proposed solutions that are so wildly destructive (and that are the heart of his con). We have to stop him and his allies, and we have to do better. In this, we have some 150 million allies in the US, and billions more around the world. You are far from alone.

Our challenge is twofold:

1) To protect what we have. This means obstructing, in every way possible, the tsunami of bad legislation that awaits us, and the politics of hatred Trump’s election has inflamed and legitimized. It means standing with and protecting the lives of the most vulnerable among us. It means using the power we do have at the state and local level to mitigate the damage inflicted nationally. It means building and sustaining community institutions that can help mitigate the damage. It means saving lives.

2) To win back power. In this, we cannot return to the complacent politics that have failed us. The progressive candidacy of Bernie Sanders this year showed the possibilities, that tens of millions of people can be mobilized to work for a better future. Conversely, the failed campaign of the Green Party’s Jill Stein shows what happens with inadequate resources, poor organizing, and a message that doesn’t resonate. Sanders reached far more people running inside the Democratic Party – even as the party’s leadership rejected him entirely – than he would have running as an independent or with a third party. There’s a lesson there, as well as in how radical conservatives have seized unchecked political power through the Republican Party. We need to build and expand our own institutions, but that takes time. We also need to work within and supplant the leadership of the institutions, like the Democratic Party, that have failed us.

Political parties are organizing vehicles, nothing less or more. Fifty years ago, the Democratic Party was still the party of southern segregationists. It changed in character when the Democrats’ embrace of the civil rights movement caused that bloc to flee. (Moderate Republicans are now fleeing their own party due to that bloc’s spiritual descendants.) The Democrats are now facing another fundamental shift due to the near-unanimous support of the young and of people of color. Those elements control the Democratic base now, but not the leadership. Changing that would result in a far more progressive party – and one whose response to economic displacement is constructive rather than being built on corruption, corporate power, fear, and scapegoating.

Even at their best political parties are only a reflection of popular will. Our will, and our resistance to fascism and the politics of hatred and abuse, must be demonstrated in our communities and in the streets. We must practice what we preach, because that is how our ideas will be judged. Our vision must be reflected in who we are and how we act: inclusive, caring, united, trading in hope rather than nihilism. We are stronger when we work together and respect both our differences and our similarities. We are stronger when we learn from the wisdom of people who’ve been through these struggles before, and when we elevate new leaders and new ideas to carry us forward.

The popular will to resist Trump’s America is enormous, here and around the world. The resources available to create and expand progressive community and political institutions will never be greater. As I see it, here are our greatest immediate needs:

1) Organized pressure on state and local elected officials to step up, and use their public resources to protect us, where possible, from the national train wreck about to unfold;

2) Support for organized private initiatives that provide additional direct assistance to those most in need;

3) Widespread independent media that reports on and advocates for those of us who aren’t welcome in Trump’s America, and that embodies cultural as well as political resistance to it; and

4) Organizations that can turn people out in the streets and that can engage in direct actions, with messages that are clear, focused, constructive, represent our values, and reach across cultural and ideological barriers.

Protests and resistance will happen. Reagan’s 1980s, the closest modern parallel to today, had several major grass roots movements that mobilized millions and that made a difference, especially in preventing even greater abuses by the reactionary forces in power. However, Reagan was never explicit in his scapegoating of minorities and the powerless; Trump is. Reagan never had a Congress, let alone courts, controlled by his own party. Nor was there the kind of existential crisis we now face in climate change. Reagan started the expansion of income inequality, but now we have to deal with the human casualties of three decades of class warfare. And the Reagan opposition had the living memory of effective anti-war, civil rights, and even union organizing movements. The current generation has no such large scale people power memories to draw from.

In retrospect, the organizing of a generation ago was enormous, but it is now largely forgotten and its tactics ridiculed because it wasn’t enough. Its history shows us some of the logistical answers to what we need, but the scale this time must be greater and our ambitions broader. We need not only to stop abuses, but to fundamentally change our existing institutions and build creative new ones to help people survive, change societal priorities, and prevent appeals to fascism from ever taking root again.

That’s a tall order, one that’s impossible if we expect it to happen overnight. It won’t. This is the challenge of a generation, a project that is both immediate and will in some ways take years to bear fruit. We can’t get too exuberant or complacent in our victories, nor alarmed or despairing about our setbacks. The long haul awaits. People and issues will come and go; it is the values, of life and compassion and empathy and unity, that must remain in our hearts and our goals. We must represent life.

Our survival demands nothing less.

The Morning After

You just had a really bad nightmare.

No, you didn’t dream it.

Yes, it really happened.

The voters of the United States of America, in their finite wisdom, just elected as the most powerful man in the world a man who:

Has never held elected office of any kind; has never, in fact, ever demonstrated anything but contempt for public service or the public good;

A man whose entire life has been dedicated to a business model of feeding his boundless ego, ripping people off, and then declaring bankruptcy, over and over and over and over;

A man whose campaign for public office has been built explicitly and entirely on racism, misogyny, religious intolerance, appeals to fascism, and contempt for the democratic institutions he will now control;

A man whose party, one now also dominated by people motivated by fear, hatred, and defiant ignorance – a party which has tried to shut down the federal government and default on its bills multiple times – now controls all three branches of the federal government as well as a majority of state governments;

And a man whose election is all by itself causing global markets to collapse and governments and people around the world to recoil in horror.

There is no undoing what just happened. In the best case scenario, the damage will take decades if not generations to undo. Any remaining respect or moral authority enjoyed by the United States in the rest of the world is now permanently destroyed. Given that much of the world’s economic welfare relies on the prosperity of the United States, governments around the world are now moving to separate themselves from us for their own protection. The United States is now a giant international pariah, and will remain so until it can demonstrate that it deserves to be considered a part of the civilized world.

The time for complacency is over. The time to sneer that politics is boring and irrelevant, or that protesting and organizing is useless – claims that have always relied on the luxury of privilege – is over. Given the challenges of our times, nothing less than the future of life on this planet is at stake. The time for complacency, if it ever existed, is over.

This is a fight for our lives. This is a war for survival. Our lives, and the lives of our children and of billions of people, and even the future of our biosphere, are all at stake.

Hyperbole? I wish. Do you really want me to review the policies already championed by the party that now controls us? That party has been nearly unanimously rejected by people of color and the young. It wants to “drown government in a bathtub,” starting with the institutions that provide directly for the public welfare: access to health care, Social Security and Medicare, and help for the vulnerable among us. It denies science, starting with climate change. It opposes womens’ control of their own bodies. It opposes environmental protection or corporate regulation of any kind. It opposes public education, or, functionally, education of any kind. It opposes workplace or consumer protections of any kind. It champions voter suppression. It champions religious, racial, and ethnic intolerance. It thrives on dividing people. It believes in unaccountable law enforcement, torture, and in destroying the lives of the groups of people it fears and resents. It promotes endless war and the casual use of nuclear weaponry. It reflexively worships unaccountable power for transnational corporations that by law have no interest in the welfare of the United States, let alone in the welfare of those of us who live here. It now has near-unlimited power over the state.

Democratic defenses against this existential threat have failed us; those that remain, such as the Senate filibuster, will be quickly eliminated. Impeachment is limited to the president and even then would require the approval of a substantial portion of the party now in power. Future elections will need to be decided by those people still allowed to vote. The only reliable check at all on Republican power, the last line of defense standing between us and annihilation, is you and me.

Capitalism, over the past centuries, has not collapsed from its inherent contradictions. Democracy, however, is much more vulnerable. The United States has had a long and prosperous democratic run, a run built on geographic isolation and size, stolen land and labor, investment in the public good, and a remarkable degree of religious tolerance. Voters have now repudiated the last two of those elements, and the future of America’s long experiment with democracy is by no means assured. In some ways it is already lost.

Hyperbole? I wish. Instead, sadly, I can only conclude that it’s a brief overview of the size of the challenge before us. However, those democratic institutions aren’t dead – yet. The United States is not a police state – yet. Our social safety net has not been demolished – yet. Our personal freedoms have mostly not been overridden – yet. We still have freedom of speech and freedom from censorship, the right to assemble, and the ability to organize and to demand our rights and a livable future for our children. We had better use these rights while we have them.

Where there is hope, where there is determination, there is a way. The greater risk is despair and doing nothing.

Later today: Next steps.

Election 2016: Our Dystopic Future

Prepare for economic hardship, endless war, climate change on steroids, and a federal government incapable of addressing any major domestic issue. And that’s if Clinton wins.

The near-global sentiment – not just of everyone living in the United States – is that we cannot wait for the 2015-2016 US Presidential Election to be over. Believe me, I’ve felt that way, too. But in recent days that sentiment has been rapidly replaced by dread over what comes next – no matter who wins.

In short, one of the two major parties in the United States has completely detached itself from reality, driven, after 30 years of Fox News and hate talk radio, by tens of millions of proudly ignorant and hate-filled individuals. This isn’t news. But because these people have nominated for the most powerful job in the world a narcissistic, bullying con man whose extreme wealth has enabled both his sociopathic behavior and his painfully obvious mental health issues – and because horserace-obsessed political media in this country have largely treated ideological extremism as business as usual – it’s easy to forget that a level-headed president dedicated to rational thought has for the last eight years largely insulated us from the kind of systemic collapse that could result.

That ends Tuesday.

I’ve been warning for months that Donald Trump has surrounded himself with world-class experts in dirty tricks and authoritarianism, employed to advance the interests of some of the last half-century’s worst dictators. I’ve been warning for months that all Trump needs to do is keep the election close – so that post-election ratfucking can either help him seize power or, at minimum, ensure that Hillary Clinton will be incapable of exercising it.

The release last week of an FBI letter announcing that it had come across e-mails from Clinton while investigating Anthony Weiner implicates Clinton. again, of absolutely nothing – but it enabled the horserace media and right wing fever swamp to yet again bring up “those damned e-mails,” one of an endless parade of ginned-up non-controversies Republicans have been trying for years to get to stick to her (Benghazi!!!). That “October Surprise” falls exactly in line with Trump’s plan. Clinton’s momentum from the debates has been successfully reversed. Nate Silver’s 538.com, the gold standard in data-based election forecasting, now gives Trump a one-in-three chance of winning.

That’s close enough for semi-plausible post-election monkey-wrenching and claims of fraud, at least for Trump’s gullible, hate-filled followers. And almost as importantly, the radical Republican congressional majorities that have enabled that party to block much of Barack Obama’s agenda for the past eight years now stand a better chance of retaining their majorities – meaning that either they’ll have renewed cause for all-out war on a President Clinton, or that their most extreme impulses will become law under a President Trump. Even the plausible chance of such a scenario has put global markets in a tailspin this week. It will be worse next week.

In the short term, for months Trump has been warning his followers – because Donald Trump doesn’t just have supporters, he has followers – that the election would be rigged. He’s also been claiming that Clinton should have been ineligible to even run for president because she’s a criminal (remember what I said about “detached from reality” – she hasn’t been charged with anything, let alone convicted). And for years groups of far-right white supremacists and anti-government fanatics have been rapidly growing, a growth fueled largely by the color of Barack Obama’s skin but given renewed vigor by last month’s acquittal of the far-right protesters who staged an armed takeover last winter of part of Oregon’s Malheur Wildlife Refuge – an acquittal supporters are reading as officially justifying any action, no matter how violent, anywhere, against anyone, in service of resisting what they see as an illegitimate government.

What does this mean? It means that if Clinton wins next week, Trump has a ready-made army eager to wage war on everyone it hates, or that Trump tells it to hate, to challenge her illegitimate reign. That list is nearly endless and already includes an overwhelming majority of Americans: Muslims and other religious minorities, Mexicans, Blacks, immigrants, and anyone else who’s not White; the poor, sexual minorities, liberals, the disabled, people who are educated (especially scientists and other blasphemous disciples of the Enlightenment), the elderly, the young…anyone who can be and thus has been defined as an “Other,” and whose removal will, in their eyes, help “Make America Great Again.” This is a fascistic army in waiting, terrifyingly reminiscent of the Red Guards, Hitler Youth, or any of the other enthusiastic tools of history’s worst mass murderers. All that’s missing is the critical mass that would give these fanatics power and free license. Next week could provide that.

That’s true even if Clinton wins. If Trump wins, of course, his paramilitary radicals in waiting get the backing and blessing of the state.

If Trump Wins

A Trump win also likely means a collapse of global financial markets, who, despite Trump’s radical capitalist bent, hate uncertainty – and Trump is the most erratic major politician in modern world, let alone American, history. The financial “services” (sic) industry has grown from ten percent to approaching half of the US economy in the last 20 years – thank the deregulation of Hillary’s husband for that – and so if the markets tumble, so do we, much more directly than in the past. It’s easy to imagine a Trump victory leading immediately to a major global depression. With a Trump win, such an outcome in the US seems far more likely than not. One in three.

A major economic downturn, in turn, will require scapegoats – which is what Trump’s list of “Others” will become, especially in an economy that will leave almost everyone behind, many scrambling to stay afloat, and, for those already struggling, scrambling to stay alive while what’s left of the New Deal social safety net is abolished. And more than enough of those struggling to stay alive will be angry about it to justify the kind of police state that makes today’s “police state!” rhetoric by some leftists empty and laughable. President Trump will show you what a real police state looks like. Because, freedom.

More traditionally, a Trump victory likely also means full control by far-right fanatics of the presidency, Congress, and, at some point in the next four years, the Supreme Court. Abolishing access to health care for millions will be the first order of business. Tax cuts that, in combination with economic collapse, will gut the federal treasury will follow shortly, followed by the abolition of Social Security and Medicare as unaffordable luxuries given the struggling economy. State and local governments, long reliant on federal money, will be similarly gutted.

Things we take for granted, like universal public K-12 education or municipal water systems, will be, regretfully, privatized or abolished. And, eventually – depending on which of the current justices die first – you can also kiss goodbye to Roe v. Wade (and the Griswold decision that preceded it, codifying the right to privacy and making contraception legal); gay marriage; absence of Christianity from the public sphere; and any inherent rights to citizenship, due process, or, most importantly for cementing these changes, access to the ballot box.

A lot of people have noted over the years that if fascism ever came to the US, it would be done legally within our existing political framework. And so it is here. Most of this has already been widely advocated. Bircherite conservatives, of the type now prepared to seize power, have never reconciled themselves to the New Deal of 85 years ago, let alone more modern developments like the abolition of Jim Crow, women in the workplace, Medicare, legalized abortion (or even sex education), and so on. Trump has openly called for the jailing and deportation of 11 million people, and openly encouraged violence against people who oppose him. Abolishing environmental regulations is a far-right rallying cry. Republicans control Congress now because of gerrymandering and voter suppression, just as their ancestors controlled the franchise under Jim Crow; they know how well it works. So does bald-faced lying.

As for more modern issues, like climate change, or a free and open Internet? Authoritarian regimes in other parts of the world, especially China, have already shown how to control and suppress that. The possible loss of net neutrality is benign by comparison. And Trump would likely increase greenhouse gas emissions, just to demonstrate to his rubes what a hoax the whole climate thing was. And throw the scientists in jail.

And so on. With the steady drip of 24/7 news cycles, it all becomes a routinized blur. Most people have no idea what a future of all of these elements, taken together and enforced with technology unthinkable to past authoritarians, would look like, or even that it’s possible. It is.

Eight years after the exit of an unqualified president who was responsible for a global economic collapse, genocidal levels of death and displacement in Iraq, and the drowning of a major American city – among many other things – a possible majority of American voters are prepared to opt for a far riskier and more radical option.

That’s despite the president who served in the interim now prepared to leave office with record-high approval ratings. And that, in turn, brings us to Hillary Clinton, whose unique weaknesses as a candidate and leader explain much of that disconnection have put Trump within a plausible scenario of winning, only days before the election. What awaits us if Clinton wins?

The Clinton Scenario

If a Trump victory is the dystopian nightmare scenario, a Clinton win gets us to almost the same place, only not as quickly.

First of all, in the short term, things are close enough now that Trump is guaranteed to refuse to honor the results, for all of the reasons – voter fraud, rigged elections, biased media, Clinton being a criminal, etc. – we’re already familiar with. There will be riots, and armed attacks. (One person’s terrorist is another’s “freedom fighter.”) People will die for the “crime” of not being, in Sarah Palin’s memorable formulation, “Real Americans.”

Markets won’t crumple in a Clinton win the way they would with a Trump presidency, but his refusal to honor the results will have an immediate economic impact. Trump is likely to refuse to recognize her legitimacy, and to encourage tens of millions of Americans to follow his lead. That means low-grade guerrilla war, but it also means Republicans in Congress and the states doing everything possible to obstruct her.

Clinton will be, in any likely scenario, unable to get any of her domestic agenda approved by Congress. That includes, in the last two weeks, Republicans talking openly about refusing to consider, let alone approve, any Supreme Court or other judicial nominations at all for the entire length of a Clinton presidency – essentially, attempting to destroy one of the three branches of federal government for nothing more than partisan political advantage. A lot of people on the right seem to like this idea, and why not? They’ve paid no political price at all for their refusal to consider Merrick Garland’s nomination. Ditto for passing federal budgets, paying America’s debt, and other forced crises of the type that have already been narrowly avoided multiple times, along with the global market collapse they’d trigger. The Constitution is sacrosanct to these people, at least as a piece of paper to wave around in front of the rubes. It’s more socially acceptable than the Confederate flag.

One way or another, the days are likely numbered for even the limited economic recovery Obama has managed to shepherd almost wholly by executive fiat.

If Clinton can’t get her reasonably liberal social or economic agendas passed by Congress, she’ll try to work with them on the areas where she does agree: corporate power and military spending. The latter will be made much, much worse by Hillary Clinton’s long and well-documented love of discretionary warmaking as a first option for dealing with conflict – or any behavior seen as contrary to America’s economic interests – anywhere in the world. If Donald Trump can’t be trusted with the nuclear codes, neither of them should be trusted with the most powerful and lethal military in the history of the world.

It’s hard to say what impact Clinton’s warmaking and market-induced economic misery would have on each other. Most likely, Clinton would use the only economic stimulus path available to her, which would be more war and further military expansion. Regardless, her legitimacy, let alone her agenda, will be questioned at every step. The impeachment papers are already drawn up. If Republicans control the House, passing them will be the first order of business, even before she’s done anything; and (if Republicans retain control of the Senate) a Senate trial will commence. They won’t have the votes for conviction – unless Clinton hands it to them the way she’s threatening to hand them the election, which is always possible – but it will further poison an administration where she already begins as the second most-disliked major party nominee in modern US history. (Trump is #1.)

Hillary Clinton’s opponents have no compunction about using the most radical remedies available, including triggering a global economic collapse, to disempower her. Republicans have far fewer Senate seats to defend in 2018 and will almost certainly win (or win back) Senate control then. And if Clinton has been wholly ineffective, with a diet of domestic misery and foreign war, come 2020, almost any Republican nominee can beat her – and given the extremism of the Republican base and the types of candidates they seem to adore, we’re right back where a Trump win would put us next week.

Sadly, Washington state residents can’t do much about all of this – our electoral votes will almost certainly go to the Democrats in this and in all foreseeable years, as will our Senate and most of our House seats. But it’s very, very hard to see this ending well – next week, let alone over the next four years or beyond. It’s been widely thought that politics in the United States would be revolutionized by demographic change. It’s looking more and more like that wasn’t quite right. The US is instead at dire risk of being revolutionized by the resistance to demographic change. That resistance has hit on a radical but unassailable truth: Larger and larger numbers of people who aren’t white Christians matter only if “one person, one vote” matters.

I hope – I really, really hope – I’m wrong about all this, and we’re not all suffering from mass PTSD by Thanksgiving. But the only way I can see to being wrong is if the far-right radicals preparing to seize power, and the megalomaniac leading them, don’t do what they themselves say they want to do. But all the available evidence suggests we should take them at their word. And prepare accordingly.

General Election 2016 Recommendations: The Good, the Bad, and the Horrifying

The ballots are all mailed, and November 8 is finally upon us. You wouldn’t know it from the media obsession with our dreadful and interminable presidential campaign, but locally and statewide, there’s actually a chance to elect and pass a whole bunch of really good people and ballot measures this year. Among many other things, Seattle will get a massive upgrade in congressional representation (no matter who wins!), and there’s a half-dozen ballot measures that range from good to phenomenal. Don’t let the presidential circus get you down; at almost every other point, this year’s ballot is bursting with opportunity.

And, so, I’m here – again – to help. And as has been true for each of the 21 (!) years I’ve been passing on my recommendations, the usual caveats apply: this is one opinion. Take it for what it’s worth, which is, well, one opinion. Do your own research.

And be sure to vote by Tuesday, November 8, but don’t think for a second the job of changing the world, or even our city, will be over when you do. Social change comes from below. Voting becomes most useful when people have already organized, not when the people and policies we empower are then ratified. Get out and make yourself heard all the time, not just by mailing in a piece of paper.

As for which lines to fill in the bubbles for…

FEDERAL OFFICES

US President and Vice-President: Hoo Boy. I’ve written an entire long-ass article exploring just why our choices this year, all seven of them on the Washington State ballot, are historically bad. Go read it. My short recommendation: Vote for Clinton or Stein if you feel you must. Especially vote for Clinton if you live in a state where Trump has a chance of winning. Since that doesn’t apply in our state, I’m not voting for any of them. Why? Because they all suck.

US Senator: Patty Murray is a reliable Democratic incumbent who rarely makes waves. Chris Vance is her opponent, and it’s a measure of how badly Republicans are out of step with our state’s voters that he lists a lot of past jobs in his voters’ guide statement, but somehow leaves out that bit about being head of the clown car that is the Washington State Republican Party. Patty Murray.

US House of Representatives, District 1: Suzan DelBene won this seat six years ago as a moderate Democrat by dumping a boatload of her personal fortune into last-minute TV ads. It was a good investment for her personally, but hasn’t done much for her district; she’s been another reliable Democrat, in the best and worst senses of that phrase. Word is she wants to run for governor next. That can stop now. Skip it.

US House of Representatives, District 7: The last time Seattle’s congressional seat was seriously contested, Ronald Reagan was president. Think about that. After almost three decades on the other Capitol Hill, Jim McDermott is finally retiring from one of the safest seats in Congress.”Sunny Jim” is a friendly guy with frequently progressive rhetoric, but almost nothing to show in actual accomplishments for his long career. Seattle deserves better.

That history is important in evaluating the two Democrats seeking to replace McDermott. They’re both a massive upgrade, and the differences are primarily in style.

Brady Walkinshaw, in his short time in Olympia, has been dynamic and effective. He also deserves big credit for entering the race before McDermott’s retirement, and quite possibly triggering it – a civic accomplishment that in itself merits our gratitude. The last-minute bogus TV ads and racist-y dog whistles haven’t done him any favors, but I still suspect he’d make a fine Congressman.

But I’m going with the riskier choice here. Pramila Jayapal, dating to her time as founder and executive for Hate Free Zone, now One America, has a strong reputation as insanely ambitious, and as not treating the people around and below her particularly well. Frankly, I don’t entirely trust her. I wouldn’t be shocked if, once elected, she decided establishment comfort was more important than principle, or if she served a few terms and then cashed in for a more lucrative lobbying gig, as so many Congresscreatures do.

However, I had those same concerns when she was elected to Olympia, and was pleasantly impressed – she’s used her prodigious ability to network and fundraise to make things happen in Olympia and to get progressive goals accomplished in a way that McDermott, long a pariah in his own caucus, never did. With such a safe seat, Seattle needs a Congressional rep willing to take risks and fight unpopular battles until they become popular. We really can’t go wrong; a lot of people I know who personally know Walkinshaw rave about him. But Jayapal is the one who’s shown a willingness to take policy risks, and it makes her the best choice here. And Lord knows Congress needs a strong voice who will go to bat for immigrants, too. Pramila Jayapal

US House of Representatives, District 8: Dave Reichert is taking even longer to retire than he took to “catch” the Green River Killer. His Congressional career has been marked by a reputation (pushed hard by the Seattle Times) as moderate and independent – but he votes with his batshit crazy caucus most of the time. The Eastside also deserves better. Unfortunately, what it’s getting this time is former sportscaster and political centrist Tony Ventrella, who dropped out of the primary but finished ahead of two other challengers anyway because he’s a media celebrity and he interviewed Seahawk players once!!!11!!.

Ventrella then decided, eventually, that Congress was good enough for him after all. But that doesn’t mean he’d be good for Congress. Next time, maybe the Democrats can put up a real candidate in what ought to be a swing district. This year they’re a bad joke. Skip it.

US House of Representatives, District 9: Adam Smith, like Suzan DelBene, is a moderate Democrat. He’s been in Congress longer and has done more, rising to become ranking member of the House Armed Services committee. That was a good fit when his district included the sprawling military facilities south of Tacoma. But in 2012, District 9 was redrawn to shift north, and with the inclusion of the Kent Valley is now the state’s only majority minority district. Smith is no longer such a good fit. But then, neither is his Republican challenger. Skip it.

STATE OFFICES

Governor: You’ll mostly remember former Port of Seattle commissioner Bill Bryant as the Republican dude who brought Shell’s enormous arctic drilling rig to Elliott Bay and then bashed the protesters who drew national attention demonstrating against it. That pretty much sums up what he was about during his entire tenure overseeing one of the most corrupt and corporate-friendly agencies in the state. Now he wants to run the state. No. Fucking. Way. And he has the gall to run – I am not making this up – as an environmentalist, proving once again that in politics, words have no meaning.

Incumbent Jay Inslee has had some flaws as governor. Some but not all have been a function of a disastrous, Republican-controlled state senate refusing to work with him. (Hint: We can fix that RIGHT NOW.) But he’s been solid on a lot of fronts and far better than his two immediate Democratic predecessors, Christine Gregoire and Gary Locke. Jay Inslee.

Lieutenant Governor: This is a useless position that really should be abolished. It’s only functions are to chair the state senate and to succeed the governor if he or she doesn’t complete the term. Brad Owen is finally retiring after two decades of using his copious state-funded free time to indulge his hobby of promoting the Wat on Drugs. Good riddance.

In August, I endorsed Cyrus Habib over the equally well-qualified Karen Fraser. I did not endorse Republican Marty McClendon, who has dabbled in Birtherist musings about whether Habib – who emigrated as a child from Iran in 1979 – is really a US citizen. I guess we know what McClendon’s hobby would be. Yuck. Cyrus Habib

Secretary of State: This seat promotes state trade and oversees the state’s elections. It’s been held by Republicans pretty much since statehood in 1889, and is currently held by moderate Republican Kim Wyman. Like her two longtime predecessors, she’s been unassuming and competent. She faces a challenge from Tina Podlodowski, who basically used her time on Seattle City Council over a decade ago to make corporate shilling a thing for ambitious gay politicians; you can thank her for helping pave the way for our current mayor. Ideologically, she’s more conservative than Ed Murray is, but they have a lot in common. I don’t mean that as a compliment.

That said, Wyman has overseen the state’s disastrous shift to a less-inclusive August primary, and has opposed the state’s Voting Rights Act, a package of reforms (such as same-day registration) that would increase turnout. When Podlodowski – who supports the Voting Rights Act -nearly beat Wyman in the primary, Wyman’s response was to pander to her base by pledging to submit to the legislature a new package of Voter ID laws – and claimed they were needed because the confessed Burlington mall shooter wasn’t a US citizen and had voted illegally. (He is, and he hadn’t.) Expanding the electorate should be this position’s highest priority, and Wyman should be fired for, like so many of her Republican colleagues, preferring to depress turnout. And for having incredibly bad taste. Tina Podlodowski.

State Treasurer: The top two primary finishers here were both Republicans. One wants to run government like a business; the other wants to run it like, you know, government. Vote for the guy that understands the difference. Duane Davidson.

State Auditor: This has been the noisiest race for an obscure technical statewide office in memory. You may remember Republican Mark Miloscia a few weeks ago for traveling to Belltown to pledge state legislation that would supersede Seattle’s ability to decide how we want to address our homelessness crisis, because Seattle needs “adult supervision.” This publicity stunt had everything to do with running for statewide office and nothing to do with being an auditor. The homeless? They’re stage props for his ambition. Fuck you, Mark. Meanwhile, his opponent, Democrat Pat McCarthy, was called the “Anti-Christ” in a recent Tim Eyman e-mail. That’s good enough for me. Vote several times for Pat McCarthy.

Attorney General: Bob Ferguson is the best AG our state has had in a long, long time. If nothing else, he deserves a medal for being the person who’s finally prosecuting Tim Eyman’s long-running initiative scam operation. He’s unopposed except for some Libertarian Party dude. Why would you elect as the state’s head person in charge of defending and enforcing our laws, someone who’s opposed to all laws? Duh. Bob Ferguson.

Commissioner of Public Lands: This position oversees the state’s huge land holdings; in the past it’s mostly been a sinecure for the state’s forestry and ranching interests. This year, finally, a candidate with strong climate change credentials, Hilary Franz, is bidding for the seat. Her opponent, Republican Steve McLaughlin, seems unsure about the whole climate change thing.anyway. No contest. Hilary Franz.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Somebody has got to advocate for our state’s criminally underfunded (just ask the state supreme court) public schools. In August, I narrowly went with Chris Reykdal over Erin Jones. Jones would be a strong advocate for the state’s many non-white students, and that would be hugely valuable, but her campaign has also hit major problems over some unfortunately ignorant LGBTQ comments she made. Jones has also attracted the bulk of the corporate privatization lobby’s donations. I’m sticking with Chris Reykdal, who’s the choice of the Washington Education Association and the state’s beleaguered public school teachers. Having an advocate for teachers in that role would change a lot of things for the better. Chris Reykdal.

Insurance Commissioner: Incumbent Mike Kreidler is a rock star. His Republican opponent, as usual, is a tool of a health insurance industry that is basically a vast criminal enterprise. That’s why they don’t like Kreidler. You should. Mike Kreidler.

Washington State Senate: There are a number of reasons why Olympia is a hot, dysfunctional mess, but the most obvious is that the state senate is controlled by a party that is batshit crazy. Republicans have 26 seats – officially 25, but somehow “Democrat” Tim Sheldon always votes their way, too – and the Dems have 23. Mind you, a fair number of those Democrats are useless tools, but at least they generally acknowledge that things like climate change, taxes, and gay people actually exist. And this year is the best chance voters have had in several years to return reality-based governance to Olympia.

But that means flipping at least two seats currently controlled by Republicans. There are a few such seats in suburban Seattle, but most of them are Elsewhere. However, if you, family, or friends live in any of these locales, do whatever you can to support the following candidates. And you can donate money from anywhere. Just sayin’: Tim Probst (Legislative District 17, Vancouver); Karl Mecklenburg (LD 25, Puyallup); Marisa Peloquin (LD 28, University Place); and last but not at all least, hopefully replacing the execrable Steve Litzow, Lisa Wellman (LD 41, Mercer Island).

Washington House of Representatives: Most Seattle legislative races are recurring coronations of useless Democrats, but there are exceptions (Bob Hasegawa, Gerry Pollet, and Jeanne Kohl-Welles, to name three). There are also a couple of interesting local House races this year:

Legislative District 5, Positions 1 & 2 (Issaquah):: This is far suburban Eastside, but both races in this traditionally Republican district merit attention, and both have strong Democrats running. In Position 1, Jason Ritchie would caucus with the Dems but is hoping to win the seat as a member of the Working Families Party, the latest attempt to establish a progressive third party in Washington. That’s worth supporting all on its own, but he’s also running against openly racist and Islamophobic Republican Jay Rodne, who badly needs to be retired. And in Position 2, Darcy Burner, a personal friend and former colleague who’s simply sensational, has come out of electoral retirement to try to unseat Republican Paul Graves.Vote for both Burner and Ritchie early and often – and if you don’t live in the district, consider throwing some money or volunteer time their way.

Legislative District 43, Position 1 (Capitol Hill/University District/Wallingford): It has long been an oddity of Seattle politics that arguably the state’s most liberal district has consistently sent some of the state’s more conservative Democrats to Olympia (Frank Chopp is unopposed in the other seat again this year, for example.) Finally, with this race for an open seat, that could change. By far the best choice for doing that is Nicole Macri, a dynamic activist and executive for the Downtown Emergency Services Center, the largest (and gnarliest) homeless shelter in the state. She’s worked first-hand to help some of the worst victims of our state’s economic, housing, and tax priorities. Her opponent, Dan Shih, is a more mainstream (read: Chopp-allied) Democrat getting lots of money from all the wrong people. This district needs Macri’s voice. Nicole Macri.

JUDGES

Washington State Supreme Court, Position 1: Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, and Tim Eyman didn’t get an initiative qualified this year, so instead he’s trying to replace incumbent state supreme court justices with reactionary replacements who won’t keeping finding that his initiatives are unconstitutional. Republicans who resent the state court’s continuing insistence on adequate public education funding are also involved, and charter school outfits, including those of Paul Allen and Bill Gates, have also poured a lot of last-minute money into supporting the Eyman slate. How much longer do we need to keep repeating the phrase “Don’t let Eyman get away with it!” – “it” invariably being something that, like this, would badly harm the state? In Position 1, Eyman’s choice is David DeWolf; the rock star incumbent is Mary Yu.

Washington State Supreme Court, Position 5: The Eyman proxy here is Kittitas County (Ellensburg) prosecutor Greg Zempel, challenging one of the best of the justices, incumbent Barbara Madsen. Barbara Madsen.

Washington State Supreme Court, Position 6: The vote-for-him-on-general-principle incumbent here is Charlie Wiggins, who, as author of the ruling that found charter schools unconstitutional, is a particular target of the Allen/Gates money. Charlie Wiggins.

Superior Court, Position 14: Nicole Gaines Phelps has a ton of good endorsements and far more experience than her opponent, David Greenspan. Nicole Gaines Phelps.

Superior Court, Position 26: David Keenan is the choice her, a social justice veteran who would bring a badly-needed real life sensibility to the courtroom. David Keenan

Superior Court, Position 31: Long-time incumbent Helen Halpert is running against some dude who apparently holds a grudge against her because of some case she heard once. Seriously. Helen Halpert.

Superior Court, Position 44: Cathy Moore is the incumbent, a competent judge who deserves to keep her job. Cathy Moore.

Superior Court, Position 52: Both candidates are well-qualified, but the better set of endorsements, and more explicit voters’ guide statement (does someone just do a standard judicial…zzz…templ…zzz…ate for these?) goes to Anthony Gipe.

Superior Court, Position 53: Mariane Spearman is the incumbent here. If it ain’t broke, et cetera. Mariane Spearman.

District Court Southwest Electoral District Judge, Position 3: Her opponent doesn’t seem to actually be running a campaign, so you’d better vote for incumbent Laurel Gibson.

BALLOT MEASURES

Seattle I-124 “Seattle Protects Women”: Okay, first off. a complaint: I hate cutesy, marketing-driven, and often misleading names for bills or initiatives. The PATRIOT Act…anything Tim Eyman does…this. This initiative’s title is designed to make you think it’s about domestic violence or somesuch, or at least, that gender is central to its purpose. It’s not. But who could be against “protecting women”? See how that works? It’s bullshit.

Bu*t it’s still a good initiative: a union-backed measure designed to force local hotels (especially certain notoriously anti-union big chains *coughHyattcough*) to offer safety and health insurance options to their housekeeping workers equal to what standard union contracts require – things like panic buttons in rooms, protection against reprisals for reporting attacks from guests, and – a big one – health care. This is good. Most – not all – of those affected would be immigrant women. But the title is still bullshit. Yes.

King County Charter Amendment 1: Would make the King County Prosecuting Attorney a nonpartisan office, in line with most other elected county offices (e.g., County Council, Sheriff, County Executive) that have already made that transition. This can be misleading – c.f. Susan Hutchison insisting, in her run for County Executive in 2009, that she was “independent.” Now she’s chair of the Washington State Republican Party. Republicans in general have a toxic rep hereabouts, and the last two prosecuting attorneys, dating back decades, Ken Satterburg and Norm Maleng, have both been Republicans of the sober (i.e., exxtinct) variety. But on principle, this initiative is still the right thing to do. Party politics don’t belong in the justice system. Yes.

King County Charter Amendment 2: Changes language in the King County Charter so that it’s gender-neutral. You mean this didn’t happen a generation ago? Yes.

You know it’s a bumper crop of statewide initiatives when there’s no steaming pile of Eyman in the batch, and Eyman himself is raising the alarm to his followers about how awful they all are. Translation: it’s a historically good set.

I-1433 raises state min wage to $13.50 over the next five years. This will help a huge number of people – and Seattle’s higher wages, so far, haven’t exactly ruined local businesses in the way the usual reactionary suspects predicted. Remenber this initiative the next time you hear Ed Murray patting himself on the back for getting Seattle’s minimum wage hike stretched out to ten years. Yes

I-1464: This is the statewide version of the clean elections initiative Seattle voters passed last year, with vouchers that voters can use to direct campaign contributions and limited public financing. Unlike the minimum wage initiative, this one isn’t even particularly watered down from the Seattle law. The entire approach is groundbreaking and somewhat unproven – but unquestionably a big step in the right direction. Yes.

I-1491: Washington voters get another, er, shot at enacting a sensible gun law with this initiative, which allows for “extreme risk protection orders” in which a judge can require that individuals judged to pose a threat to themselves or others – in cases of domestic violence, potential suicide, etc. – may not own weapons. This will save lives. Period, end of story. Yes.

I-1501: This odd little SEIU-backed initiative protects the privacy of seniors their caregivers – from identity theft but also from right-to-work organizers. Given how vulnerable disabled seniors are, the fact that this totally benefits the union in an industry that badly needs unionizing is just a nice side bonus. Yes.

I-732: This is a big one. It would enact a carbon tax on greenhouse gas-emitting products and industries, and it’s a complicated mess. Tellingly, most major environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, Washington Conservation Voters, and 350.org, are urging a “no” vote, essentially because it doesn’t go far enough in combatting climate change. There’s also the issue that its sponsors claim I-732 is revenue-neutral, but others (including the state itself) estimate it will cost the state between $80 million and $200 million in lost revenue – money that would have to either be raised elsewhere or saved by cutting inevitably essential services (because that’s ll there’s left to cut.)

There’s no question that this initiative is a half-measure at best, market-based and not always clearly drafted. Fortunately, efforts to improve the langugae are also underway, and as much as I respect the opinion of the groups, this is a statewide vote when a sizable chunk of state voters don’t even think climate change is a thing, let alone that government should address it. These groups are making the perfect the enemy of the good on an issue where good may be our best hope of getting anything passed. And that these groups are working against I-732, rather than working to improve its implementation, reminds me a lot of the behind-the-scenes work done by alleged allies to kill the first two statewide attempts at cannibis legalization, essentially because the “right” groups wouldn’t get credit for the win. Climate change is too important for that sort of internecine nonsense. With reservations, Yes.

I-735: This is a totally non-binding, symbolic resolution in which Washington state would call on the US Congress to pass a constitutional amendment repealing the infamous Citizens United decision allowing, essentially, unlimited corporate financing of political campaigns. Now, Congress is not going to scramble to do this just because a deep blue state like Washington suggests it. But this is part of building a national movement that just might, some day, make repeal possible. Yes

Advisory votes 14 & 15: These are, again, the meaningless Eyman-mandated “advisory” votes that waste tax dollars every time the legislature passes a tax-related bill. It’s telling that there’s only two here. For what it’s worth, #14 sets health insurance taxes for dental plans, and #15 sales tax for electric cars, but on general principle, vote Yes.

Sen. Joint Res. 8210: Advocates for this measure point to the problem of gerrymandering in the every-ten-year congressional redistricting process – but the truth is, every state does the process differently, and Washington’s is one of the most nonpartisan and fairest processes in the country. However, that doesn’t mean we’re perfect; because both major parties effectively have to agree to the plan, the result is that the districts are drawn here in a way that tends to protect incumbents of both parties, not just whichever one controls the legislature. This is why Dave Reichert is still in Congress despite his original suburban district trending more Democratic, for example; the 2010 plan simply added Republican Kittitas County to Reichert’s district in exchange for a Democratic-leaning new district. This measure wouldn’t fix that problem, but it would start the process earlier and allow for more public input (and, hopefully, less insider precinct-trading). Yes.

Regional Prop. 1: This is ST3, the massively expensive expansion of light rail through 2040 with some additional money for other transit modes as well. This year’s highly popular extension of light rail to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington – much more heavily used transit routes than the airport run that was built first – should lay to rest any doubts that light rail can get a lot of cars off the roads. With this area’s rapidly growing population, and a climate crisis that, globally speaking, still isn’t being addressed with any urgency, this is a no-brainer. Yes.