Republican governor of Louisiana and POTUS hopeful Bobby Jindal has taken a strong stand against federal agents aiming their power at people for ideological reasons—in this case, the whole IRS-scrutinizing-conservative-groups scandal.
He has declared that IRS officials involved should go to jail:
"You cannot take the freedom of law-abiding Americans, whether you disagree with them or not, and keep your own freedom. When you do that, you go to jail," Jindal said.
Hey Bobby! What do you think about this situation?
Later this afternoon, just before the deadline, I will not file to run against four-term incumbent Seattle City Council member Richard Conlin. And believe it or not, it was a very difficult decision that I've been struggling with for weeks.
After nine years of covering Washington state and local politics I've come to the conclusion that Seattle can no longer wait on Olympia to address our problems. Our state's inability to fix its longterm structural revenue deficit dictates a gradual but relentless reduction in the services and infrastructure investments the state can provide. Whatever the result at the polls, unless and until the state finds a way to grow revenue somewhat commensurate with the economy, we will inevitably get the Republican agenda by default. And unable to maintain the transportation, education, and other amenities sufficient to preserve Washington's economic competitiveness, our economy will ultimately sputter and stagnate.
Washington is a state teetering on the edge of decline.
Meanwhile, the "fuck Seattle" attitude that permeates much of the rest of the state, combined with Republicans' knee-jerk opposition to taxes of all kinds for any reason under any circumstances, assures that Olympia cannot be counted on even to grant us the authority to tax ourselves to meet our own needs.
But there is hope. Seattle is a compassionate city, a progressive city, a smart city. But above all, Seattle is an affluent city. And while the revenue options at our disposal may not be the ones we'd prefer, we are wealthy enough to use the options we have to invest in the human and physical infrastructure we need to assure economic growth and prosperity now and in the future. That is, assuming we have political leaders with the vision to embrace a newly self-sufficient Seattle, and the communications skills to sell that vision to voters.
Which we don't.
That is why (besides all the usual narcissistic bullshit that is inherent in politics) I seriously considered challenging Conlin: Because Seattle needs and deserves more than the caretaker council that Conlin has come to epitomize. We need to invest in our children, in our transit, in our roads, and sidewalks, and bikeways now, while we can still afford to, before our economy is dragged down by the rest of the state. If we act proactively while we still have an economy capable of sustaining such investments, we can sustain Seattle's competitiveness, and perhaps even drag the rest of the state kicking and screaming with us.
For example: Seattle desperately needs to invest in the one education reform that everybody agrees works: High quality universal preschool for all three- and four-year-olds.
As Brendan noted earlier, today is GiveBig, the annual charity feeding frenzy that "stretches" all of the charitable donations made today to select nonprofits between midnight last night to midnight tonight (basically, each charity receives a percentage of an overall charity pie commensurate to the donations they raised today). What Brendan failed to do is ask the news staff—i.e. ME—what our favorite charities were when compiling his earlier list.
I have taken it upon myself to correct his error. Here are three charities I adore and throw pennies at whenever the moths eating holes in my pockets will allow:
Regarding that last one, PP has been making videos all day encouraging their donors to dig deep and give more by filling a kiddie pool with condoms to represent their donations. My one quibble with the video: Jenn is not actually swimming in the pool. She's just kinda sitting there, talking. In a wet suit. If I had my druthers, I'd be ass up with a martini in one hand, breaststroking my way through that ever-deepening pool of condoms. DON'T WASTE THIS PRECIOUS OPPORTUNITY, JENN. GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT! PUMP THOSE LEGS AND SWIM, DAMMIT!
Remember, you have until midnight tonight to donate, and all of 'em are worthy of some love. There's a full list of participating nonprofits here.
HOLLADAY — Mitt Romney is once again going to live in Utah.
Romney is building a new home in Holladay by the only one of his five sons who lives in Utah, Josh, and plans to live nearby while the house is being built, a source told the Deseret News Wednesday.
When Romney had political aspirations, he couldn't make a home in Utah—a Mormon politician from Utah would have been national political suicide not so long ago—but now that Romney's got more money than Richie Rich's first ex-wife and he doesn't have to give a shit about what anybody thinks, he's going to live where he feels most comfortable. And that's Utah.
This certainly doesn't bode well for Google Glass:
Rep. Bachmann tries out Google Glass at House #GOP mtg twitter.com/LukeRussert/st…
— Luke Russert (@LukeRussert) May 15, 2013
I hope Newt Gingrich got a pair, too. Newt seems like the kind of guy who'd love Google Glass.
You know those gruesome old stories about back-alley abortions, from way back before Roe v. Wade made abortion legal and safe? They looked somewhat like this:
A Philadelphia jury on Monday convicted abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell on three counts of murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of three babies and one adult patient at his inner-city clinic. The case, which revealed horrific conditions at Gosnell’s practice as well as gruesome details about the illegal operations he performed there, became a flashpoint in the national debate about abortion.
So-called "pro-lifers" are attempting to use the Gosnell case as an argument for tightening restrictions on abortion, but experience tells us that would only create more Gosnells. In addition to the murder charges, Gosnell was convicted of dozens of counts of performing medically unjustified late-term abortions beyond Pennsylvania's 24-week limit. Gosnell's practice wasn't just alleged to be unsanitary, unsafe, and unqualified—much of it was determined to be illegal. As this case shows, criminalizing abortion—even late-term abortion—does nothing to reduce demand; instead, it just drives desperate women to seek ever more desperate options.
That was America's experience before Roe v. Wade, and that is the experience repeated in countries throughout the world. Indeed, a recent study in the Lancet reports that the abortion rate is actually lower in the jurisdictions with the most liberal abortion laws: "Restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates," the study finds, a conclusion entirely consistent with past research. In the US, legal abortions remain remarkably safe, with only a handful of maternal deaths out the approximately one million abortions performed each year. But worldwide, 47,000 women still die each year from unsafe abortions, accounting for 13 percent of all maternal deaths. That is the reality that US pro-lifers would return us to.
Clinics like Gosnell's are rare. If they weren't, this case wouldn't have been so sensational. But if pro-lifers have their way, it will once again become the norm.
This weekend I spent some time with Two Cheers for Anarchism by James C. Scott (whose Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed, which I read as a student in Chicago, was a seismic event for my young brain).
This passage is in a chapter about how rules can be exercises in futility—improvisation, experimentation, stumbling, and mistakes are how people actually behave, from the time they learn to walk and talk to the time they're in the bloom of their lives. We get stuff done, he argues, precisely because we break the rules on a regular basis.
Workers have seized on the inadequacy of the rules to explain how things actually run and have exploited it to their advantage. Thus, the taxi drivers of Paris have, when they were frustrated with the municipal authorities over fees or new regulations, resorted to what is known as a greve de zele. They would all, by agreement and on cue, suddenly begin to follow all the regulations in the code routier, and, as intended, this would bring traffic in Paris to a grinding halt. Knowing that traffic circulated in Paris only by a practiced and judicious disregard of many regulations, they could, merely by following the rules meticulously, bring it to a standstill.
I love the idea of a protest based on the principle of scrupulously following rules to show how unnecessary and counterproductive they can be. Since May Day, I've also been talking with people about the idea of "Black Bloc community service."
For example: a pack of masked demonstrators amassing at Westlake, attracting a thicket of police in SWAT gear and nervous TV anchors, then calmly and efficiently conducting a free medical clinic. (Perhaps they could pull some support from the folks at Country Doctor.) Or leading a march that splits—one to a smashup downtown, the other to an underserved neighborhood, where the demonstrators do the heavy lifting to help built a community garden. Balaclavas, bandanas, furious weeding and tilling, wheelbarrows full of manure. (It would be hot as hell, but it would look good on the evening news.) Or a Black Bloc protest in which the windows of malfeasant banks were smashed while residential windows are lovingly washed.
Those might be impractical ideas. But something along those lines could be attractive to people who equate anarchism with nothing more than petulance and the kicking over of trash cans, and would merrily upend the usual public narrative about what anarchist demonstrators—particularly those in Black Bloc clothes—really stand for.
Posted by news intern Ansel Herz
Faster than you could say "God damn it, Obama!" Paul already posted the breaking news that the Obama Department of Justice secretly collected a wide array of phone records from Associated Press reporters over a two-month period last year.
I just want to add, to all the liberals out there: this is what you get.
This is what you get when you elect a politician who promises he'll criminalize Bush's warrantless wiretapping program during the Democratic primary, then spinelessly flip-flops after winning the nomination and votes to immunize telephone companies from prosecution.
This is what you get when Obama faces little outcry from his base for claiming to be the "most transparent" administration ever, while waging an unprecedented war on whistleblowers. This includes the abusive ten-month imprisonment in a military brig of Bradley Manning, the modern-day equivalent of Daniel Ellsberg. Even a military judge rebuked the government for its harsh treatment of Manning, who Obama had declared guilty.
Obviously, this is unacceptable. But so is the silence from Obama supporters who, evidently, were only feigning outrage over civil liberties abuses during the Bush years.
Last night, while Cienna was hobnobbing at Ed Murray's fundraiser, 23 stories above the city in a condo with a view she'd trade her fertility for, I was stuck in a windowless basement where tens of people had gathered on this beautifully sunny day to kickoff fundraising efforts for King County parks.
The room looked like this:
It took forever for my eyes to adjust to the "light" in the basement. There were nachos and sliders and beer if you were brave enough to grope through the shadows for them. Behind us, the precious, waning sun lit up the entrance like an emergency escape route.
The King County Parks levy is an every-six-year vote that will be on your August primary ballot. It funds maintenance and operations for park systems like Marymoor Park, the Burke Gilman Trail, Tiger Mountain, and more than 200 parks and 175 miles of trails. Outside! In the fresh air and sunlight! It accounts for about 70 percent of the county's parks and rec operating budget; the general fund started paying exactly nothing toward parks in 2011. It's a property tax that costs something like $56 a year on a $300,000 house and will raise about $60 million a year for the next six years.
The bright campaign poster had a picture of a tree and a swingset. I had never wanted to be outside in a park more.
Up front, King County Council member Larry Phillips extolled how "incredibly fortunate" we all were to live here, with so much "natural beauty" and the "great park system" that is KC parks at our fingertips. Dow Constantine was late, probably sunbathing. Organizers begged the room to turn on their headlamps and write a check. I wondered if it was deliberate: Forcing all these nice people into a small dark room with the express purpose of making them appreciate (and long for) a well-maintained park system? So I asked the organizer. It was not deliberate.
I took a moment to think: It's my job to be here. I should stay and listen to more speeches about green space, wise words by KC Executive Dow Constantine. I should wander and talk to these name-tagged, suit-wearing, nacho-eating politicians and donors.
On the other hand, holy shit was it nice out.
So I ran out the door. Seriously, vote yes on the parks levy in August. If you don't, you'll just have fewer or shittier outside spaces to gambol about in on days like yesterday and today. And that would be a damn shame.
I honestly don't get the whole Benghazi-Gate thing. What exactly are Republicans alleging? That the Obama administration "covered up" the true nature of the attack for what, a day or two? That's a scandal worthy of endless congressional hearings? That he didn't use the word "terrorism" fast enough? Really?
Where's the crime? Where's the motive? What exactly did the administration have to gain from initially suggesting that the attack was spontaneous rather than organized? And why the fuck does our media continue to cover this show trial when the allegations raised, even if proven true, amount to little more than a charge of sloppy PR?
That said, I have learned one important thing from the Benghazi hearings, which is that Republicans are really as fecklessly partisan and unpatriotic as I've always suspected them to be.
For years now, I have contended that had Al Gore been president at the time of the 9/11 attacks, rather than rallying around the president as congressional Democrats did (thus enabling Bush's anti-tax/pro-war agenda), the Republican majority would have seized upon the greatest intelligence failure in US history as a justification for impeaching Gore. That's the way Republicans roll. And these bullshit Benghazi hearings only confirm my suspicions.
A US ambassador was murdered. But Republicans can never rally around a Democratic president at a time of national crisis because they simply are not capable of accepting a Democratic president as legitimate. They never accepted President Clinton's legitimacy (ultimately impeaching him for lying about a blow job after years of investigating more substantive imaginary scandals). They certainly wouldn't have accepted President Gore's legitimacy had the Supreme Court allowed Florida to complete its recount. And they clearly don't accept the legitimacy of the twice-elected (but Kenyan-born) President Barack Hussein Obama. Hence the endless conspiracy theories.
Because when there's a usurper on the throne, I guess anything is possible.
Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor of Florida who is now a frontrunner for the "Democratic" nomination for governor, has come out... in support of same-sex marriage. "I most certainly support marriage equality in Florida and look forward to the day it happens here," Christ wrote on his Facebook page.
Why does this matter? Because Crist is a notoriously calculating politician who is willing to do and say whatever it takes to win election. Back in 2006, when running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, Crist opposed marriage equality and touted his support for "traditional" marriage. But Crist has now apparently determined that supporting gay marriage is what he needs to do to win the Democratic nomination in 2014.
So this is less about Crist's evolution on the issue, and more about the evolution of the Florida electorate. And if gay marriage is becoming a winning issue in Florida, that's a pretty big deal.
Remember when Republicans swore that President Obama would unveil his true socialist liberal communist agenda if he got elected to a second term? The New York Times seems to indicate that the crazy liberal action is starting right now:
The Obama administration, resolving years of internal debate, is on the verge of backing a Federal Bureau of Investigation plan for a sweeping overhaul of surveillance laws that would make it easier to wiretap people who communicate using the Internet rather than by traditional phone services, according to officials familiar with the deliberations.
There's a long, good explanation of why this wiretapping debate is bullshit over at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
(Thanks to Slog tipper Greg.)
This guest post is by Kshama Sawant, an economics teacher at Seattle Central Community College and a Socialist Alternative candidate for Seattle City Council.
It was tremendously inspiring to see over 4,000 people, mostly undocumented immigrant workers, marching in Seattle on May 1, International Workers' Day, demanding legal rights, as well as decent working conditions for all workers. Most undocumented immigrant workers toil at some of the hardest and most invisible jobs for the least pay in restaurants, factories, and hotels, and they live in daily fear of being deported and having their families ripped apart. But May Day demonstrated the latent power workers hold when we speak in solidarity with one voice.
Yet not so surprisingly, most of the media, with a few honorable exceptions, ignored the mass protest against corporate exploitation of immigrant labor and focused almost exclusively on a march of about 250 radical young people, involving arrests and damaged storefronts.
Conspicuously absent in most of the reports was the fact that the police—armed with intimidating riot gear and military-grade weapons—were clearly attempting to escalate tensions and provoke these radical youth.
As an activist and a socialist, I strongly oppose protesters smashing windows, especially of small businesses. Such actions are often a desperate response to injustice, but they are counter-productive. Rather than helping to build a mass movement, they isolate activists from the working people that are the natural constituency for organizing against big business.
However, the primary perpetrators of violence this May Day were Seattle police who liberally deployed pepper spray, threw flash bang grenades into crowds, and relentlessly targeted defenseless individuals. This is not new. The Seattle police have a longstanding record of using brutal force against Occupy activists, WTO protesters, and people of color.
The hypocrisy of the mass media, owned by a handful of mega-corporations, is evident. While relentlessly blaming the protesters on Broadway, they maintain a polite silence regarding the gruesome violence of US wars or the devastating cuts to social services and education in Seattle and statewide.
A Republican-controlled committee in the North Carolina General Assembly approved a bill on Tuesday that would require teenagers to present a notarized parental consent form in order to access sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, mental health counseling, pregnancy care or substance abuse treatment. Teenagers without a parent or guardian would be required to stand before a judge and request a judicial bypass in order to obtain those health services. North Carolina already requires parental consent for teenagers seeking abortions. House Bill 693 would be the first law in the U.S. to amend that parental consent law to include STD testing and treatment, mental health counseling and other health services. The bill, sponsored by State Rep. Chris Whitmire (R), passed out of the Health and Human Services Committee along party lines by a vote of 14 to 8. If it passes the House and Senate, both of which have Republican supermajorities, only teenagers with medical emergencies would be exempt from the parental consent requirement.
I'm thinking we should borrow a tactic from the anti-choice crowd. You know how they like to wave gruesome photos of aborted fetuses around? Maybe having people show up at town hall meetings for GOP legislators—or standing outside North Carolina's capitol building—waving around gruesome photos of untreated sexually transmitted infections (link not safe for work, not safe for lunch) might give 'em pause.
Mark Sanford has won the South Carolina special congressional election, easily defeating Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch. Anyone want to take any guesses as to what Congressman Sanford's first scandal will be?
Remember yesterday's Headline of the Day? I'll refresh your memory: It was "Air Force sex assault prevention chief charged in sex assault." Then today comes the release of the Pentagon's annual report on sexual assaults in the military. Says USA Today: "Pentagon estimates of how many troops are sexually assaulted show the numbers increased by more than a third since 2010, from 19,300 servicemembers believed to be victims that year to 26,000 in 2012."
Senator Patty Murray's had enough. In a press release today, she says, "Not only are we subjecting our men and women to this disgusting epidemic, but we’re also failing to provide the victims with any meaningful support system once they have fallen victim to these attacks." So she and fellow senator Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire) introduced a bill today called the Combating Military Sexual Assault (MSA) Act of 2013.
The bill, according to Murray's office, will:
• Provide victims of sexual assault with Special Victims’ Counsel (SVC) – a military lawyer who will assist sexual assault victims throughout the process.
• Enhance the responsibilities and authority of DoD’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Office so that it can better oversee efforts to combat MSA across the Armed Forces and regularly track and report on a range of MSA statistics, including assault rate, number of cases brought to trial, and compliance with appropriate laws and regulations within each of the individual services.
• Refer cases to the general court martial level when sexual assault charges are filed or to the next superior competent authority when there is a conflict of interest in the immediate chain of command.
• Bar sexual contact between instructors and trainees during and within 30 days of completion of basic training or its equivalent.
• Ensure that Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARC) are available to members of the National Guard and Reserve at all times and regardless of whether they are operating under Title 10 or Title 32 authority.
It's always great to remember how badass your senators are. (Full bill is here, if you wonk that hard.)
As expected, the US Senate passed the Marketplace Fairness Act by a 69-27 margin today, allowing states to collect sales tax on Internet and other out-of-state sales. And as expected, the bill faces stiff opposition in the US House, where the Republican majority pretty much opposes anything that could possibly be labeled a tax increase. (Of course, it's not really a tax increase; it just makes online retailers collect the "use tax" that customers already owe, but 99 percent don't pay.)
At stake is over half a billion dollars a year in revenue for Washington State, money that sure would make writing the next budget a little easier.
We all do The Morning News a little differently. My shtick is to prepend some snarky bit of bolded commentary onto a fairly straightforward teaser. But it's a style that failed me this morning on the story about that tragic limousine fire, not because snarky comments didn't pop into my head, but because they all seemed terribly inappropriate. So I simply wrote: "Too sad for commentary."
To which Slog reader scratchmaster joe took issue in the comment thread:
Ok, so let me get this straight, people die in a car fire, and it is too sad for commentary, but people die in gunfire, and that is totally cool to use to support your own political position?
Well, yes, you do have that straight, Joe, because guns and limos are different in that limo fires are exceedingly rare compared to our nation's stunning epidemic of gun deaths. I mean, if stretch limos were constantly bursting into flames—if every morning we awoke to news of yet another wedding party or gaggle of prom dates horribly roasted to death in a burning limo—I'm guessing we might attempt to do something about it. Like make limos less flammable. And if we refused to do something obvious about it because LIBERTY! you can be sure I'd be politicizing our nation's flammable limo crisis too.
Yeah, I know, a comparable number of Americans die each year from automobiles as die from firearms. But those numbers have been moving in opposite directions, largely because of a concerted regulatory effort to make cars (and their operation) safer. Seat belts weren't even standard equipment until the 1960s. Now mandatory seat belt laws are the norm. No, nothing will eliminate auto-related deaths altogether, but minimum federal safety standards save thousands of lives a year.
So yeah, Joe, while they both are tragic, gun deaths are a legitimate object for politicization whereas limo fire deaths are not, because gun deaths represent exactly the sort of public health crisis that is the responsibility of government to address. And politics is the means through which we push effective public policy.
This happened over the weekend: BuzzFeed reported that a South Carolina Democrat said a dumb, racist thing about Republican Governor Nikki Haley:
South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian, a trial lawyer, longtime Democratic leader, and legendary figure in local politics, reportedly told a South Carolina Democratic Party dinner that the Democratic challenger would send "Nikki Haley back to wherever the hell she came from."
Haley was born in South Carolina. Her parents are from India.
And then Huffington Post says Harpootlian lamely tried to backpedal:
Politico's Jonathan Martin reported that when asked to clarify what he meant by "where she came from," Harpootlian said, “Lexington County.. she was born in Bamberg [South Carolina] and lived in Lexington. Anybody implying anything different is attempting to feign insult.”
Nope! This insincere bullshit doesn't work when Republicans try it, and it won't work when Democrats try it, either. Until he owns up to his mistake, Harpootlian should be reminded of his racist words on a daily basis. This kind of thing is no less shameful when a Democrat does it.
You probably got out in the sun or went for a bike ride. Me? I bullied poor Sarah Palin.
Woke up to Sarah Palin's voice. She's taken up chewing tobacco now cuz LIBRULS or Bloomberg or something. Now seeing upside of oral cancers.
— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) May 4, 2013
RWNJ's and their RWNJ blogs have been blowing up my Twitter feed since I tweeted that out in my sleep on Saturday morning. Not my best work: the repetition of the word "now" annoys me, and instead of "Now seeing upside of oral cancers," I wish I had written, "Oral cancer approval ratings spike." But for the dimshits who might make it over to Slog today from Glennbeckistan... here's the standard definition of bullying: "Bullying has to satisfy three criteria: it has to be verbal or physical aggression, repeated over time, involving a power differential." I may have said something nasty about Sarah Palin—a lovely Christian lady who has never in her life said a single nasty thing about anybody—but I didn't bully her. I can't bully her. I pointed that out, which led to soon-to-be classic Twitter exchanges like this:
“@ignatiusgreilly: @fakedansavage so if i call u faggot one time and wish cancer in you, its not really bullying, right?”Nope, it's not.
— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) May 4, 2013
“@snolanmuir: @fakedansavage so being powerless myself, and having never talked 2 u B4, I can call u a hypocritical fag? #justasking”Sure!
— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) May 4, 2013
But these two were my favorite:
@fakedansavage Do you actually think anybody still gives a crap what you think about anything, freakshow?
— Søren Kierkegaard (@WGlibrarian) May 5, 2013
@fakedansavage Also, putting your picture on the front of your own "book" is lame.#FakeHumanBeing
— Søren Kierkegaard (@WGlibrarian) May 5, 2013
On May Day, as police broke up a downtown demonstration and pushed activists (including anarchists) up Capitol Hill, some windows were broken at local bar Bill's Off Broadway, local bar/distillery Sun Liquor, and a Walgreens drug store.photos and descriptions of him working as a police officer. I recognized the guy by his shoes.)
Or was it random folks who just got excited at the prospect of smashing anything? Or some demonstrators who forgot the "targeted" part of "targeted property damage"?
Regardless, the next day some group who wanted to be credited as "the Anarchists of the Puget Sound" sent me an email saying:
We support everything that happened last night but feel that it is our responsibility to support our neighborhood small businesses as well... We would like to throw a benefit for Bill's Off Broadway and other small businesses to help them with the cost of replacing their windows. This does not include Walgreens, for obvious reasons.
Both Bill's and Sun Liquor soon responded to that gesture. From Sun Liquor:
This just in from the office of city attorney Pete Holmes:
The City Attorney’s Office on Thursday charged six individuals who were arrested in downtown Seattle and held overnight in the King County Jail. Three others who were arrested posted bail overnight and will be considered for charges at a later time.
1) SH, 5/22/91, obstruction of an officer and resisting arrest, at 8th and Howell
2) GH, 4/17/91, obstruction of an officer and resisting arrest, at 400 block of Olive
3) BS, 6/3/85, obstruction of an officer, at 6th and Olive
4) PN, 5/19/68, obstruction of an officer, failure to disperse and resisting arrest, at 9th and Pine
5) JG, 9/21/87, obstructing of an officer, at 8th and Pine
6) DB, 12/30/92, property damage and obstruction of an officer, at Boylston and Pine
Resisting arrest is a simple misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Obstruction of an officer, property damage and failure to disperse are gross misdemeanors, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Someone pointed out in comments below—and it has been my experience as well—that "obstruction" and "assault" of an officer can be thrown around like candy after demonstrations and is often dismissed by courts after tedious and sometimes expensive procedures. (Ever tried to contest a nonsense traffic ticket? Imagine trying to contest a nonsense charge of assaulting an officer if, say, the police charged a demonstration, you fell over, and your foot accidentally touched an officer's boot. That happens.)
On the other side, the National Lawyers Guild has released its own statement:
Yesterday evening, the Seattle Police Department provoked violent confrontations with May Day protestors in downtown Seattle. The Seattle Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild condemns the unprovoked use of force, including the use of concussion grenades and chemical agents, against people who merely were exercising their First Amendment right to protest. The confrontation began when armed riot police moved in to break up a protest celebrating International Workers’ Day that was taking place in a public street at the corner of Fourth and Pine. The police then declared a public safety emergency and ordered people who were observing their actions to leave the area or be arrested, thereby insulating police actions from public scrutiny. When the protestors moved through downtown streets, the police set off multiple concussion grenades, causing a series of injuries to those who were struck by the exploding projectiles.
Crimes were certainly committed yesterday: Windows were broken, protesters threw rocks and plastic water bottles at police, police fired "exploding projectiles" directly into large crowds. But "obstructing an officer" is a measly charge that usually boils down to a he-said/she-said between a demonstrator and a cop.
Approximately 100% of the people at yesterday's evening march, including (especially) the journalists and photographers who were jockeying to get into the front lines for that sweet protest photo, could've been charged with obstruction.
It'll be interesting to see whether the police can find and charge any window-smashers and whether any demonstrators file suit for their injuries.
All in all, yesterday's early march for immigration reform was light and smooth and the evening anti-capitalist march was a bit of a clusterfuck. Both sides seemed clumsy and confused, full of passion but lacking tactical elegance.
Despite the dramatic images on video and in photographs, and despite the highly emotional and polarized commentary that's already happening and will continue to happen, the anarchist component of May Day 2013 was a colorful, but fairly simple affair—as was the immigrant-reform march (a photo of which is above).
It showed that Seattle has a robust dissident community. It failed to smash any big, symbolic targets this year (say, Chase Bank), which might show a lack of planning, vision, and discipline. I had privately hoped that radical activists would cash in on all the municipal anxiety from last year's smashy-smashy May Day to conjure up a phalanx of riot cops and then do some Black Bloc community service—get doctors from the Carolyn Downs clinic to offer free healthcare in Westlake Plaza, with the image of tanks (or the SPD equivalent) behind them. Or set up a soup kitchen. Or gather in a poorer neighborhood to appropriate a vacant lot and do all the heavy-lifting work for a new community garden. That would have been creative and visually powerful and upended everyone's expectations of what anarchism and radicalism in Seattle means. But nobody asked me, so I can't complain.
Instead, they had an old-fashioned street melee with police when the protesters pushed back against some arrests. (We don't know what those arrests were for yet—I saw several, and they seemed to come out of nowhere.) A tense standoff happened, with police firing incendiary devices directly into the crowd. I watched this and thought it looked extraordinarily reckless on the SPD's part. The photo below shows one about to go off a few feet away from someone's feet, but I saw those things explode right against people's shoulders and torsos:
But for now, please enjoy this video for "Bad Kids" by the Black Lips:
It plays on repeat in my head whenever I'm at direct-action demonstrations like tonight's, where earnest idealism, clumsy hooliganism, and the comedy of human error (on all sides: cops, activists, media) are on parade.
I'll write a May Day wrap-up post (with lots of photos) later, since May Day is still happening.
But here's a quick one—I talked to a few journalists at today's El Comite/immigration reform march who seemed irritated that the "anarchist" and "political vandalism" question seemed to be looming larger than immigration rights. As one person said, gesturing to the marchers "these poor people are being completely overshadowed."
Maybe. But to that I say three things: (1) That's in your head, pal, not mine. (2) That sounds a little condescending. (3) Some immigration-reform marchers were only too happy to be associated with the other May Day, including this guy. His name is Dani.
"There will be little kids and elderly people at this march," he said, "so doing something [such as political vandalism] so the cops come in and grab people could be a problem. But if they do their thing, I have no quarrel with that. If they wanna beat the shit out of Bank of America, that's fine with me. Niketown, same thing. Fuck those guys."
I'm off to the next event. More later.
While I've been poking fun all day at the over-hyped anarchist May Day mayhem that has yet to materialize, the peaceful and well organize pro-immigration reform march and rally is no joke. Brendan confirms that hundreds of people (at least) have joined the march, while reporting from atop Seattle's downtown public library Eli says that the marchers stretch down 4th Avenue for "three city blocks easily."
God knows our local media was geared up for a day of black-clad anarchist window smashing. Since the news cameras are already on the scene, it'll be interesting to see if they lavish the same sort of intense coverage on this large but peaceful demonstration as the would have on a handful vandals?
When the Sonics started agitating for a new arena less than a decade after KeyArena's publicly-funded $75 million renovation, taxpayers and politicians where rightly outraged. At its grand re-opening in 1995, NBA commissioner David Stern praised KeyArena as "a beautiful building" and "very special to me." Just a few years later Stern would scornfully dismiss the arena as "woefully inadequate."
But that was a decade ago. In the years hence the Sonics were sold, public funding demands were escalated, and the team was ultimately stolen away to Oklahoma City. But more importantly in the context of recent developments, KeyArena has grown another decade older.
Now pushing 20, KeyArena is gracefully entering its golden years by arena and stadium standards, where the useful life expectancy is typically about 30. That lifespan is as true here in Seattle as it is in other big cities. KeyArena first opened as the Coliseum in 1962; it was torn down to its steel trusses and rebuilt 32 years later in 1994. The Kingdome was even less long-lived: Opened in 1976, renovated in 1994 (at a cost of $51 million), and demolished in 2000 at the tender age of 24.
It may seem wasteful to replace these giant structures every three decades or so, but it's long been the norm. Tastes change and buildings deteriorate. The Kingdome's costly 1994 renovation was necessitated by a catastrophic roof collapse, and the old Coliseum holds the dubious record for hosting the only NBA game ever to be forfeited due to rain, when the roof leaked onto the court during a 1986 game against the Phoenix Suns. The city paid off KeyArena's construction bonds in 2008 after a financial settlement with Clay Bennett, and its operations have turned a small profit ever since—about $640,000 in 2012. But that's far from enough money to fund a robust maintenance program let alone any major repairs or renovations.
At some point, competitive pressures combined with good old fashioned entropy dictate that it makes more economic sense to replace an old arena or stadium than it does to maintain one. And experience suggests that KeyArena will hit that point within another decade or so.
Instead of standing behind their state senator's decision to sponsor a bill that would allow religious business owners to refuse service to gay people, it sounds like residents of Walla Walla are pissed at Mike Hewitt, for sponsoring a crappy, offensive bill and letting his staffer defend it crappily and offensively to voters and reporters.
From the Walla Walla Union Bulletin (sic throughout):
In a letter to Hewitt also sent to the Union-Bulletin, Michael Mettler, creative director of Achieva Marketing, called Hewitt’s co-sponsorship of SB 5927 and “the public relations disaster spewing out of your office” an “embarrassment for all of us who live in Walla Walla.”
“...(Y)our support of the bill is short sighted in that the implications effect not only your close-minded sphere of cohorts, but also the tourism industry in Walla Walla upon which people like me (and thousands of your constituents in the Walla Walla Valley) reply upon to make a living,” Mettler wrote.
Calls, texts and emails sent to Hewitt this morning by the Union-Bulletin were not returned.
Mettler later states, "this is certainly the loudest story online and in print this week about Walla Walla, and perfectly timed for Spring Release and the Balloon Stampede!" (Holy crap, that really is a a stampede's worth of balloons!)
For the record: Walla Walla is lovely, Mike Hewitt is a dolt, and hopefully his furious constituents—many of whose paychecks rely on tourist dollars—can get a real apology from his office sometime soon. I'd like to say "it's not your fault, Walla Walla!" But y'all voted him in. Now just vote him out, and we can all have a big gay wine and onions party to celebrate.