Offering daily news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Book Review: The airing of grievances in Donna Brazile’s “Hacks” comes at her true crime memoir’s expense

Hacks, by Donna Brazile

Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House, by Donna Brazile (Hardcover, Hachette)

Given the media blitz leading up to the release of her 2016 campaign memoir Hacks, Donna Brazile’s recollection of what it was like to be on the receiving end of the Russian cyberattacks against the Democratic National Committee was far more enlightening than I had expected.

That’s because, ahead of the Virginia state elections in November 2017, Brazile’s press interviews and excerpts tended to be internecine and conspiratorial, focusing on how the Hillary Clinton campaign had unethically took over the DNC at Bernie’s expense, or how Hillary didn’t call Brazile for a while after she lost the Electoral College, or how staffer Seth Rich’s murderer still needed to be found.

Now, this is not what most of the book, subtitled The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House, turns out to be about, but the strategy was successful. The book reached No. 5 on the New York Times bestseller list, sold out on Amazon, then faded from public consciousness.

That’s a shame, because the best part of Brazile’s memoir ought to be exciting enough to have lasting appeal. As the Mueller investigation into the Trump campaign and its Russian ties continues, it’s certainly the most consequential.

The former DNC Chair goes into what it was like at the national committee that summer and fall, knowing two competing Russian intelligence agencies had broken into their systems and gained access to months’ worth of private data with the intention of hurting the Democratic nominee in every way possible.

The countermeasures that volunteer, White Hat hackers had to make; the dilemma of whether to take down compromised systems but potentially ruin Get Out The Vote efforts; and the cooperation they had with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, even as Donald Trump continued to publicly ask for more Russian hacking and Wikileaks dissemination — it’s all deeply engrossing material.

For that subject, at least, Brazile seems to have no vested interest in doing anything more than relating information to the reader, sharing the mostly untold story of what it is to be the victim of a break-in when all anyone wants to talk about is the most embarrassing items your burglars stole.

Unfortunately, with everything else she recounts, Brazile is concerned more with CYA work than writing anything trustworthy or insightful.

Brazile was memorably in the limelight prior to the convention after it was reported that she sent a minor question to the Clinton campaign in advance of a Democratic primary debate. She lost her job at CNN over it; it had to be addressed. That’s the inherent unfairness with this burgled communication.

Yet, after admitting in a Time magazine editorial that sending those emails “was a mistake [she] will forever regret“, she claims in this book that her earlier apology was insincere because she couldn’t remember or find where she’d sent the message in her own records and it must have been a work of Russian sabotage.

Like a Schrodinger’s thought-experiment version of a campaign memoir, in Brazile’s telling, the Democratic primary was both one-sided and fair; Seth Rich’s death was both a nefarious conspiracy that made Brazile fear for her life walking around D.C. and a cynical ploy of Julian Assange and right-wing media at the expense of Rich’s parents; Hillary Clinton’s bout with pneumonia was a serious issue of a candidate’s health to the point her campaign’s deceit compelled Brazile to contemplate replacing her on the ticket as well as a complete overreaction by the mass media, another example of society’s pervasive misogyny.

Most fundamentally, Brazile is the overstretched figurehead of a hapless DNC that was deeply in debt, subordinate to the Clinton campaign, and hobbled by cyberattacks while also a central player in the drama, the powerful leader of the estimable national party whose strategic plans were often thwarted by the Clinton campaign based in Brooklyn that wouldn’t listen.

Brazile is a lifelong Democrat and experienced political operative. She surely had valuable insights to give, whether in a campaign or in a memoir. But in 2000, as Al Gore’s campaign manager, she also lost a presidential election by a razor-thin margin, despite winning the popular vote, and her decisions afterward were easy to mock and second-guess by those who didn’t have decisions to make.

Incredibly, Brazile actually had experience with what a campaign can do if it receives unethical help against its opponent, as Gore’s did when it received material from George W. Bush’s preparation prior to their first debate.

She was someone actively involved in both 2000 and 2016 from different positions, and she ought to have a unique perspective into what it’s like to lose an election under circumstances considerably short of strictly fair. There are few people I can think of who could have written a better memoir than her.

Instead, Brazile and her publisher decided to release something that was timed and marketed for Festivus, but not intended to last beyond it.

Documentary Review: “Awake: A Dream From Standing Rock” is a sobering, crucial film

One of the first tangible tragedies of the Trump regime was the executive order signed just a few days into his term, overturning a decision by President Obama to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) project until a full environmental impact study could be completed. Trump’s executive order allowed DAPL to move forward, along with the previously-stalled Keystone XL pipeline project.

Awake: A Dream from Standing Rock” is a documentary in three parts about the DAPL protests at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.

Part I, directed by Josh Fox, is written and narrated by Floris Whitebull. Accompanying video and images from Standing Rock, DAPL construction, Whitebull and her children, and the protests, Whitebull talks about a dream she had.

Awake, a Dream from Standing Rock

Awake, a Dream from Standing Rock
Release Year: 2017
Directors: Josh Fox, James Spione, and Myron Dewey
Running time: 1h 29min
Watch trailer

“The battle for the future is laid out clearly before me. On one side, greed, fear, money, violence, hate, and oil. On the other, generosity, faith, freedom, peace, and water.”

She notes DAPL has to run under the Missouri River, a water source for over 17 million Americans, and the only source of water for Standing Rock Nation. Burst pipelines in other parts of the country have permanently destroyed multiple watersheds, like the Kalamazoo River.

Part II of the documentary is directed by James Spione and is made up of footage, without commentary, from Standing Rock, including multiple incidents of law enforcement assaulting protestors with pepper spray, rubber bullets, and by spraying water.

Turtle Island is a burial ground at Standing Rock and as such is a special, sacred place for members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. Yet law enforcement occupied this land, ignoring pleas from tribal members to leave it.

On Thanksgiving Day, which some Native Americans refer to as Survivor’s Day due to the tragic consequences for Native Americans of the first Thanksgiving and the European colonization of America, protestors decided to make a bridge to be able to set foot on Turtle Island and honor their elders who had passed away.

Police on megaphones at the top of the hill on Turtle Island said that they had no choice but to treat people coming on to Turtle Island as an act of aggression and warned that they would have to defend themselves, even though no one was attempting to go up the hill and confront police.

Overnight, police put up razor wire around the island, preventing protestors or tribal members to get on the island again.

Part III of “Awake” is directed by Myron Dewey, a Native American filmmaker and activist. He came to Standing Rock in order to see for himself what was happening and to fill a gap that he perceived in media coverage of the protests: that none of the coverage was produced by Native Americans or from a Native perspective.

His footage shows many of his interactions with law enforcement in and around Standing Rock. He notes that Morton County didn’t charge private DAPL police for pepper-spraying and setting dogs on people, but did harangue non-violent protestors with felony charges for trespassing.

He also has a conversation with black author, intellectual, and activist Cornell West, who came out to Standing Rock to show his solidarity with the water protectors.

“Human rights have already been violated on a number of different levels. They’re using domestic resources on behalf of an international corporate entity to contain and repress sovereign nations as well as citizens of the United States who are in solidarity with sovereign nations,” West said.

In the conclusion of the film (directed/written by Fox and Whitebull, who created Part I), the sad events created by Trump’s Executive Order are recounted, including the deployment of federal and state troops onto tribal land in late February to forcefully remove what remained of the people and protest camp. Tepees were slashed with knives, and people were tackled and arrested.

Water protectors remain proud of the movement they started, which has spread across the globe as people protest other pipelines and push for divestment from banks that fund DAPL and other pipeline projects.

As Morton says in the film, climate change is not just about the Earth, but about our relationships to each other, how we treat each other, and about justice.

Watch “Awake” and be inspired to treat the planet and each other better, and to continue fighting for social and environmental justice.

“Awake” is currently steaming on Netflix.

For the first time, the federal government has shut down under one party (Republican!) rule

Proving once again that they are utterly incapable of governing, the Trump regime and congressional Republicans collectively failed tonight to keep the federal government funded and open for business, resulting in the first government shutdown in the history of the United States under one party rule.

“This will be called the #TrumpShutdown,” said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer in remarks on the Senate floor, after detailing his unsuccessful efforts to strike a deal with Republicans to supply Democratic votes to avert a shutdown.

“There is no one who deserves the blame for the position we find ourselves in more than President Trump,” Schumer added.

U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene, who represents NPI’s home congressional district (WA-01) noted that Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan are also to blame.

“We’ve known funding would expire at the end of Friday since we passed a Continuing Resolution just four weeks ago,” said DelBene.

“And yet, congressional leaders failed once again to bring up bipartisan legislation that would keep the government funded. We also know from the last Republican shutdown that it dramatically harms our constituents and the economy. From crabbers and brewers to veterans and park rangers – a government shutdown effects nearly every aspect of our economy and harms all Americans. Republicans control every branch of government, and it is shameful that they refused to work in a bipartisan way to fund the basic government services American taxpayers expect.”

U.S. Senator Patty Murray echoed DelBene’s statement.

“Once again, Republican leaders have pushed us into a completely unnecessary government shutdown. Democrats have made clear, again and again, for months and months, that we want to work with the Republican majority on a bipartisan deal to address the many challenges facing the families we represent.”

“But instead of working with us to get a result, President Trump and Republican leaders who control the House and Senate were more focused on pointing fingers and playing political games. This is no way to run the government and no way to treat families looking to Congress for solutions, not dysfunction and uncertainty.”

“Now that Republicans have shut down the government, I am going to be doing everything I can to persuade the Republican majority to reopen the government and get to work with Democrats to increase investments in defense and domestic priorities, pass a long-term extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program [CHIP] and critical primary care programs, and finally pass legislation to protect our DREAMers who have known no home but America and who now have to live in fear for their futures,” Senator Murray added.

“There are bipartisan solutions to all of these challenges, and there is no reason for Republican leaders to stay in their partisan corner and refuse to get them done.”

“This Republican shutdown will significantly impact families and communities in Washington State and across the country if it is not ended quickly and responsibly. I am ready to get to work with Republicans to fix the problems they have created, and I can only hope that they decide to put the people and families we represent above partisanship and politics.”

“There is no question this federal shutdown creates chaos, confusion and uncertainty for hard-working families, students, small businesses, veterans and seniors across Washington State,” agreed Governor Jay Inslee.

“My office is working with state agencies to understand how their operations, and Washington’s communities, will be impacted.”

“At this point, we feel confident most of our agencies will be able to operate without interruption in the short-term. But we cannot speak for the federal services, and the tens of thousands of federal workers, in Washington State.”

“We need Congress to do its job and get a budget passed soon. President Trump needs to work with Democrats and Republicans in Congress on a bipartisan plan to immediately end this crisis and keep the government open.”

“We share numerous priorities such as protecting Dreamers, extending the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and addressing the opioid epidemic. There’s no reason Congress can’t get all these things done, now.”

Oregon Governor Kate Brown said in a statement she’s also very dismayed that Republicans have failed to keep the federal government open for business.

“The stakes are too high to put politics before people: President Trump stripped protections for Dreamers and Congressional Republicans have not prioritized Children’s Health insurance,” Brown said.

“Oregon’s families and Dreamers deserve certainty, not partisanship. But, as Washington D.C. falls apart, Oregonians will continue to come together. We must do everything in our power as a state to continue to protect our most vulnerable and provide the stability our economy needs to grow.”

“The Governor’s Office is working with state agencies to manage any impacts and continue normal operations,” Brown’s statement added. “If a shutdown lasts longer than two to three weeks, state agencies, depending on their own unique circumstances, may have to develop contingency plans.”

VICTORY! Washington Voting Rights Act wins approval in the state Senate for the first time

The United States Senate may be wracked by dysfunction and disagreement — especially this week — but here in Washington, our State Senate is on a roll, working diligently to advance the good of all the people under its new Democratic majority. After having passed the DISCLOSE Act, same-day voter registration, and the capital budget earlier this week, our Senate today voted for the first time to adopt the Washington Voting Rights Act (ESSB 6002), liberating a bill that had been stuck in the Senate Republicans’ graveyard of progress for years.

“This bill is a significant step forward in our ongoing effort to expand access to democracy in Washingtonian, and establish a truly representative government,” said Senator Rebecca Saldaña (D-37th District: Seattle).

“We saw a dramatic change in representation in cities like Yakima and Pasco after they implemented district-based elections. Washington needs a voting rights act so that every local jurisdiction has the opportunity to do this, and so that impacted communities can truly have a voice that counts.”

“Voting is a right, not a privilege,” agreed Senator Sam Hunt (D-22nd District).

“We don’t need barriers to voting, we need pathways. It is our most basic duty to make our democracy accessible to every single eligible voter. We won’t succeed by just by increasing opportunities for voting. We must also increase transparency in our elections by shining a light on hidden money. This package accomplishes those goals. Access to democracy is essential in having a strong government.”

“After years of hard work by committed community leaders and legislators, today the Washington Senate passed the Voting Rights Act,” said Rich Stolz, Chief Executive Officer of OneAmerica Votes. “This is a tremendous victory for communities of color striving for greater representation across our state, made possible by community members who campaigned to elect Senator Manka Dhingra in the 45th Legislative District.  Today, Dinghra is one of two women of color in the State Senate.  The other, Senator Rebecca Saldana (LD37), sponsored this legislation.”

“The Senate’s action today stands in stark contrast to the theatrics and threatening rhetoric emanating from the White House. Washington State is setting its own path toward greater equity, representation and a stronger democracy.”

The roll call was as follows:

Roll Call
ESSB 6002
Voting rights act
3rd Reading & Final Passage
1/19/2018

Yeas: 29; Nays: 19; Excused: 1

Voting Yea: Senators Billig, Carlyle, Chase, Cleveland, Conway, Darneille, Dhingra, Fain, Frockt, Hasegawa, Hawkins, Hobbs, Hunt, Keiser, Kuderer, Liias, McCoy, Miloscia, Mullet, Nelson, Palumbo, Pedersen, Ranker, Rolfes, Saldaña, Sheldon, Takko, Van De Wege, Wellman

Voting Nay: Senators Angel, Bailey, Becker, Braun, Brown, Ericksen, Fortunato, Honeyford, King, O`Ban, Padden, Rivers, Schoesler, Short, Wagoner, Walsh, Warnick, Wilson, Zeiger

Excused: Senator Baumgartner

Four Republicans crossed over to support the Voting Rights Act: Joe Fain, Brad Hawkins, Mark Miloscia, and Tim Sheldon. Senator Baumgartner did not vote on final passage. The remaining eighteen Republicans voted nay, while the entire Democratic caucus was unified in support of the legislation.

Passage of the Voting Rights Act is one of NPI’s legislative priorities for 2018. We’re thrilled to see today’s action on the floor of the Senate. The approval of the WVRA is fantastic news for the people of the State of Washington.

ESSB 6002 now goes to the House, which has previously voted several times to pass previous versions of the Washington Voting Rights Act.

All systems go! Legislature *finally* sends capital budget to Governor Inslee’s desk

We have a capital budget!

After many months and weeks of Four Corner negotiations, the Washington State Legislature has voted almost unanimously to authorize billions of dollars’ worth of important, necessary projects that will strengthen our communities.

“It is good news for Washingtonians that the Legislature passed the long-overdue construction budget,” said a happy Governor Jay Inslee. “This allows us to restart hundreds of stalled projects at schools and mental health facilities and build more affordable housing — as well as put thousands of Washingtonians to work.”

“The Legislature also approved a Hirst fix,” the Governor noted. “I appreciate that the complexity of this issue required several months of negotiations by many legislators. While far from perfect, this bill helps protect water resources while providing water for families in rural Washington. It includes significant funding for habitat protection and restoration and other improvements that will be guided by local stakeholders and tribes according to the needs of each basin.”

“Despite this positive step, pressures on stream flows and salmon will continue to mount in the face of climate change and growing demand for water. We must build upon this effort to meet those challenges far into the future and continue to work collaboratively to protect this valuable resource.”

“It is, however, extremely unfortunate and, frankly, irresponsible, that for nearly a year Republicans stalled those projects and refused to vote on the $4.2 billion capital budget by linking it to passage of an unrelated effort to address the Supreme Court’s Hirst ruling on water rights. Their delay in passing the capital budget comes with many costs, monetary and otherwise.

“After our review of the capital budget, I will sign both of these important pieces of legislation in short order,” the Governor’s statement concluded.

“The capital budget represents one of the greatest investments we can make in Washington and in Washingtonians,” said Senate Majority Leader Sharon Nelson.

“Thousands of family wage jobs, school construction, affordable housing, environmental improvements, mental health enhancements and investments will now finally be delivered to communities across our state.

“For far too long, the people and communities who desperately needed these investments were caught up in a game of brinksmanship and political ideology. There are no winners when the needs of real people are used as leverage.

“I’m proud of our new majority and the quick manner in which we acted to get this critical legislation agreed to and passed,” Nelson added.

“This is the right way to do business. Let’s work together, negotiate through our differences and truly put people first in all the work we do.”

The House vote on the capital budget was ninety-five to one. The vote in the Senate was unanimous. Here is the roll call for the House:

Roll Call
SSB 6090
Capital budget 2017-2019
Final Passage
1/18/2018

Yeas: 95; Nays: 1; Excused: 2

Voting Yea: Representatives Appleton, Barkis, Bergquist, Blake, Buys, Caldier, Chandler, Chapman, Clibborn, Cody, Condotta, DeBolt, Dent, Doglio, Dolan, Dye, Eslick, Fitzgibbon, Frame, Goodman, Graves, Gregerson, Griffey, Haler, Hansen, Hargrove, Harmsworth, Harris, Hayes, Holy, Hudgins, Irwin, Jenkin, Jinkins, Johnson, Kagi, Kilduff, Kirby, Klippert, Kloba, Kraft, Kretz, Kristiansen, Lovick, MacEwen, Macri, Manweller, Maycumber, McBride, McCabe, McCaslin, McDonald, Morris, Muri, Nealey, Orcutt, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Pellicciotti, Peterson, Pettigrew, Pike, Pollet, Reeves, Riccelli, Robinson, Rodne, Ryu, Santos, Sawyer, Schmick, Sells, Senn, Shea, Slatter, Smith, Springer, Stambaugh, Stanford, Steele, Stokesbary, Stonier, Sullivan, Tarleton, Tharinger, Valdez, Van Werven, Vick, Volz, Walsh, Wilcox, Wylie, Young, Speaker Chopp

Voting Nay: Representative Taylor

Excused: Representatives Fey, Lytton

Representative David Taylor was the sole vote against the capital budget. As mentioned, the Senate vote was unanimous, so the roll call only has one category.

Roll Call
SSB 6090
Capital budget 2017-2019
3rd Reading & Final Passage
1/18/2018

Yeas: 49

Voting Yea: Senators Angel, Bailey, Baumgartner, Becker, Billig, Braun, Brown, Carlyle, Chase, Cleveland, Conway, Darneille, Dhingra, Ericksen, Fain, Fortunato, Frockt, Hasegawa, Hawkins, Hobbs, Honeyford, Hunt, Keiser, King, Kuderer, Liias, McCoy, Miloscia, Mullet, Nelson, O`Ban, Padden, Palumbo, Pedersen, Ranker, Rivers, Rolfes, Saldaña, Schoesler, Sheldon, Short, Takko, Van De Wege, Wagoner, Walsh, Warnick, Wellman, Wilson, Zeiger

To implement the capital budget, the Legislature also passed E2SHB 1080, concerning state general obligation bonds and related accounts.

Republican Matt Manweller joined Representative Taylor in voting nay in the House, while Republican Senators Mike Padden and Jim Honeyford voted nay in the Senate.

Passage of the capital budget takes care of a major 2018 session objective that many organizations declared to be of paramount important to them, including the Washington State Democratic Party, which listed the capital budget at the very top of its first-ever Legislative Priorities Agenda.

NPI congratulates the Legislature for getting the capital budget unstuck and sent to Governor Inslee’s desk. The aforementioned bill to implement the capital budget required a three-fifths vote because it authorizes the issuance of bonds, meaning Democratic leaders had to work with Republicans to reach an agreement.

It’s truly refreshing to see gridlock get overcome at the state level, even as it continues to paralyze Congress. Republicans are in full control of the federal government, but they cannot govern. Democrats, meanwhile, have full control of the statehouse here in Washington, and are getting results.

Hurrah! Same-day voter registration passes out of the Washington State Senate

Washington is one step closer to eliminating another barrier to voting tonight thanks to the state Senate’s approval of a bill that allows in-person voter registration until 8 PM on Election Night as well as moving the deadline for registering online or by mail much closer to the deadline for returning ballots.

By a vote of twenty-nine to twenty, the Senate has sent to the House of Representatives SSB 6021, prime sponsored by Patty Kuderer (D-48th District: Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue, Clyde Hill). Four Republicans joined all twenty-five Democratic Senators to back the legislation on final passage.

“Participation in our elections has been steadily declining in our state and around the country for decades now. It’s time we take serious action to help voters achieve the representation they deserve by removing barriers and increasing access,” said Kuderer in a statement. “The core goal of same-day registration is to increase turnout, but this is also about restoring faith in our civic institutions.”

“This bill will ensure that every eligible voter who wishes to make their voice heard will not be turned away at the door because an outdated deadline was missed.”

“The voice of the people, the voices of individuals, provide the lifeblood of our democracy. I am proud to stand with my Senate colleagues today as we show our constituents and the country the path to fairer and more inclusive elections.”

The Senate Democratic caucus’ press release notes that same-day voter registration has been shown to lead to an increase in turnout. In fact, the five states that saw the highest turnout in the November 2016 presidential election (as a percentage) all have same day voter registration laws on their books.

SSB 6021 has an effective date of June 20th, 2019, so it will not be in place for this year’s midterm elections. But as of next year’s Top Two and general elections, it will be possible to register online or by mail as late as eight days before the deadline, and in person registrations will be allowed up until 8 PM on Election Night.

Same-day registration is an NPI 2018 legislative priority, and we’re absolutely thrilled to see it embraced by the Washington State Senate tonight.

NPI is very grateful to the four Republican Senators who chose to say yes to strengthening our democracy and making it easier to vote: Joe Fain, Brad Hawkins, Mark Miloscia, and Maureen Walsh. Their aye votes are noted and appreciated.

The full roll call was as follows.

Roll Call
SSB 6021
Voter registration period
3rd Reading & Final Passage
1/17/2018

Yeas: 29; Nays: 20

Voting Yea: Senators Billig, Carlyle, Chase, Cleveland, Conway, Darneille, Dhingra, Fain, Frockt, Hasegawa, Hawkins, Hobbs, Hunt, Keiser, Kuderer, Liias, McCoy, Miloscia, Mullet, Nelson, Palumbo, Pedersen, Ranker, Rolfes, Saldaña, Takko, Van De Wege, Walsh, Wellman

Voting Nay: Senators Angel, Bailey, Baumgartner, Becker, Braun, Brown, Ericksen, Fortunato, Honeyford, King, O`Ban, Padden, Rivers, Schoesler, Sheldon, Short, Wagoner, Warnick, Wilson, Zeiger

SSB 6021 now heads to the House, where similar legislation has been introduced and is awaiting action by that chamber’s Democratic majority.

Washington State State passes DISCLOSE Act to expose dark money in politics — at last!

Washington State’s newly minted Democratic Senate majority notched its first signature legislative win tonight, bringing Andy Billig’s DISCLOSE Act to the floor for a vote and easily passing the legislation with the support of several Republicans.

The DISCLOSE Act (SSB 5991) is the first bill to be rescued from the Senate Republicans’ graveyard of progress. It aims to bolster transparency, so that Washington voters have a better idea of who is trying to influence their vote.

Senate Republicans have for years blocked this noble bill from being discussed and voted on. Tonight — at last! — it received a floor debate in the Senate. And when the time came for senators to decide its fate, it was able to pass easily with support from both sides of the aisle. This is great news for the State of Washington.

“The bipartisan Senate vote tonight on the DISCLOSE Act takes us one step closer to shining a light on dark money in Washington state elections,” said Billig (D-6th District: Spokane). “Campaign transparency increases accountability, reduces the opportunity for corruption and strengthens our democracy.

“The disclosure loophole that this bill will fix is being exploited by groups across the political spectrum. Ultimately, this bill benefits not one party or another but the citizens of our state,” Billig added in his statement on the bill’s passage. “Most importantly, transparency of the source of money in elections creates more informed voters, which ultimately results in a healthier democracy.”

All twenty-five Democratic Senators voted to pass SSB 5991. They were joined by seven Republicans: Michael Baumgartner (yes, really!), Joe Fain, Brad Hawkins, Mark Miloscia, Maureen Walsh, Judy Warnick, and Hans Zeiger.

The roll call vote on final passage was as follows:

SSB 5991
Campaign finance disclosures
Senate vote on 3rd Reading & Final Passage
1/17/2018

Yeas: 32; Nays: 17

Voting Yea: Senator Baumgartner, Billig, Carlyle, Chase, Cleveland, Conway, Darneille, Dhingra, Fain, Frockt, Hasegawa, Hawkins, Hobbs, Hunt, Keiser, Kuderer, Liias, McCoy, Miloscia, Mullet, Nelson, Palumbo, Pedersen, Ranker, Rolfes, Saldaña, Takko, Van De Wege, Walsh, Warnick, Wellman, Zeiger

Voting Nay: Senator Angel, Bailey, Becker, Braun, Brown, Ericksen, Fortunato, Honeyford, King, O’Ban, Padden, Rivers, Schoesler, Sheldon, Short, Wagoner, Wilson

Tonight’s passage of SSB 5991 was made possible by the victory of Democratic State Senator Manka Dhingra, whose win in the 45th District last year shifted the balance of power in the Washington State Senate. Now that Democrats run the chamber, good bills can get hearings and do pass recommendations in committee, Governor Inslee’s nominees can receive the consideration they deserve, and long-overdue ideas like the DISCLOSE Act can make it to the Senate floor.

NPI congratulates the Washington State Senate on taking a big step towards greater transparency and accountability of money in politics. This is a big deal.

Equal pay for equal work easily clears the Washington State House again

More progress out of Olympia to report today.

The Washington State House of Representatives has once again overwhelmingly approved a bill that would address pay inequity in the workplace, sending its version over to the Senate, where it is certain to get a better reception than in the past thanks to the chamber’s new Democratic majority.

2SHB 1506 is prime sponsored by Representative Tana Senn (D-41st District: Mercer Island, Bellevue, Newcastle, Renton).

“At a juncture in time, when we have removed the shroud of silence on sexual harassment, so must we eliminate the secrecy around wages,” Senn said during floor debate. Senn’s bill would ban pay secrecy policies and make it much easier for women in the workplace to discuss their compensation with each other. It also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for having such discussions or for inquiring about their pay. It is long overdue legislation.

The vote on final passage was sixty-nine to twenty-eight. All Democratic members voted in favor, while the Republican caucus was split.

The roll call was as follows:

2SHB 1506
Workplaces/gender pay equity
House vote on Final Passage
1/17/2018

Yeas: 69, Nays: 28, Excused: 1

Voting Yea: Representatives Appleton, Bergquist, Blake, Caldier, Chapman, Clibborn, Cody, Doglio, Dolan, Eslick, Fey, Fitzgibbon, Frame, Goodman, Graves, Gregerson, Griffey, Haler, Hansen, Harris, Hayes, Hudgins, Jinkins, Johnson, Kagi, Kilduff, Kirby, Kloba, Kraft, Lovick, Lytton, MacEwen, Macri, McBride, McCabe, McDonald, Morris, Muri, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Pellicciotti, Peterson, Pettigrew, Pollet, Reeves, Riccelli, Robinson, Rodne, Ryu, Santos, Sawyer, Sells, Senn, Slatter, Smith, Springer, Stambaugh, Stanford, Steele, Stonier, Sullivan, Tarleton, Tharinger, Valdez, Walsh, Wylie, Young, Speaker Chopp

Voting Nay: Representatives Barkis, Buys, Chandler, Condotta, DeBolt, Dent, Dye, Hargrove, Harmsworth, Holy, Irwin, Jenkin, Klippert, Kretz, Kristiansen, Manweller, Maycumber, McCaslin, Orcutt, Pike, Schmick, Shea, Stokesbary, Taylor, Van Werven, Vick, Volz, Wilcox

Excused: Representative Nealey

Most of the Republicans voting in opposition to 2SHB 1506 were men, although there were a few Republican women opposed, notably Liz Pike, who delivered a rather harsh and hyperbolic speech in opposition shortly before the vote.

Founding NPI boardmember and Majority Floor Leader Gael Tarleton (D-36th District: Seattle) subsequently rose and eloquently spoke to the need for the bill just before Speaker Pro Tem Tina Orwall opened the roll call machine.

Tickets are now on sale for NPI’s 2018 Spring Fundraising Gala on Saturday, April 7th!

As of yesterday, we are two weeks into 2018, and just eleven weeks away from our tenth Spring Fundraising Gala, scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 7th, 2018. With the big night rapidly drawing near, we’re pleased to announce that early-bird ticket sales for this year’s gala have now begun.

Purchase now to save 17%-25% off the regular price!

There are three ticket rates:

  • Individual ($75, temporarily discounted to $60; admits one person.)
  • Household ($120, temporarily discounted to $100; admits a family.)
  • Living Lightly ($25, temporarily discounted to $20; this rate is for students and activists on limited incomes.)

A household ticket admits all the members of an immediate family and is a good value if you plan to attend with your spouse or children. (The gala is a family-friendly event, and young people of all ages are welcome!)

Our gala is the biggest event that we put on every year, and it is by far the best opportunity to meet the NPI team in person and learn about what we do.

Loyal supporters know we go to great lengths to make this event festive and informative. Our goal is for all of our guests to be able to spend a memorable evening with family, friends, and fellow activists, and support NPI’s vital work (including publications like the Cascadia Advocate!) at the same time.

As we announced last summer, the gala is moving to a new venue for 2018: the Renton Community Center. Conveniently located right off of Interstate 405 (Exit #4), the Renton Community Center offers a spacious, publicly owned banqueting room with doors that open to a patio overlooking the Cedar River.

We’ve lengthened the reception to provide attendees more networking time and opportunities to mingle, while keeping the start time for the speaking program the same. This year’s program will again be anchored by the Lynn Allen Awards, recognizing indispensable contributions to progressive causes, but it’ll be more streamlined, building on our experience this year (the first year of the Awards).

And, should you wish to visit with the NPI team following the event’s conclusion and celebrate the work that went into the event with us, you’ll be able to do so, since room takedown will be taking place later in the evening than in the past.

Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl

Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl speaks at NPI’s 2013 Spring Fundraising Gala. (Photo: Lincoln Potter/Samaya LLC for NPI)

During the last few years, we’ve been honored to have leaders like Attorney General Bob Ferguson, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl, U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer, Suzan DelBene, and Denny Heck, State Representative Chris Reykdal, and former U.S. Deputy Secretary for Housing and Urban Development Ron Sims as part of our speaking program.

We will be announcing our 2018 speakers soon. Until then, you can buy a ticket at our special early-bird rates.

Here’s what else you can expect at our 2018 Spring Fundraising Gala:

  • A full dinner buffet with vegetarian and vegan choices
  • Beer and wine selections from our cash bar
  • Opportunities to mingle with fellow activists and elected leaders
  • A chance to win a scrumptious dessert for your table at our second annual Dessert Dash, organized by our Host Committee
  • A family-friendly atmosphere

If you’d like to RSVP for the gala on Facebook, you can do so here.

Students who want to volunteer to help put on the event can get in the door free. If you’re interested in volunteering, please get in touch with us.

We hope you’ll help us make our biggest event of the year a success by buying your ticket and committing to attend. See you on April 7th!

Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Anyone who lives inside the U.S. can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds”

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and like we do every year in honor of Dr. King’s memory, I’m posting an excerpt from his Letter From Birmingham Jail.

In these passages, Dr. King is explaining to a group of fellow clergy who wanted to confine the battle against segregation to the courts that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We have a moral obligation to confront injustice wherever it may rear its ugly head — and not just through legal means.

We may have regional and cultural differences, and the laws of our individual states may vary, but in the end, we are one country, one United set of States. (E pluribus unum!) Accordingly, Dr. King says that no American can be considered to be an outsider within the boundaries of their own country.

Here’s Dr. King. (Note that typos are contained in the original manuscript.)

I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation.

These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.

Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham’s economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants — for example, to remove the stores’ humiliating racial signs.

On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations.

As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained. As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us.

We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community.

Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves: “Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?” “Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?”

We decided to schedule our direct action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year.

Knowing that a strong economic-withdrawal program would be the by product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.

Then it occurred to us that Birmingham’s mayoral election was coming up in March, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that the Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene “Bull” Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run off, we decided again to postpone action until the day after the run off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement.

Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct action program could be delayed no longer.

Take a few minutes today to read the whole thing.

Book Review: David Neiwert’s “Alt-America” is a very necessary — but difficult — read

David Neiwert's Alt-America

Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump, by David Neiwert (Hardcover, Verso/Penguin Random House)

In their first post-2016 general election show, Saturday Night Live had a skit with Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock reacting to the results throughout that night, not with pleasure but certainly without the shock or horror of the other urban-dwelling liberals.

David Neiwert’s book Alt-America is as convincing an argument you’ll find anywhere for why no one had an excuse to be surprised by Donald Trump’s campaign, its competitiveness, or its ultimate success.

Neiwert traces the historical strains of xenophobia, white supremacy, misogyny, and petty resentments that culminated in the “alt-right”, chronicling how they were able to come together to win the Republican nomination and get enough votes in right places to win the presidency.

It’s a difficult read, not because of the writing or its organization, but because at no point will you finish a chapter and feel better about current events.

Zoë Quinn’s Crash Override covered similar ground, but her personal story included triumph. Alt-America is like sitting through chemotherapy and not knowing whether the treatment will be ultimately effective.

We need a work like this because the handful of attacks connected to any sect of Islamic jihadism tend to be well-covered by all media and lodge in our brains, even failed attempts like the Shoe Bomber in 2001 or the recent New York City subway pipe bomb. They all go under the same folder, undifferentiated.

One of the subtle benefits of white supremacy in the United States is that we grant white Christians the dignity of being treated as individuals. So even their terroristic acts, explicitly done in the name of an anti-government ideology or by members of an organized group intent on sowing political terror, are written off as just a bunch of nutjobs, worthy of little attention or concern beyond their peculiarity.

The thoroughness, though not exhaustiveness, of Neiwert’s book is a necessary corrective to that unconscious prejudice.

I had either forgotten or never been aware of Jerad and Amanda Miller leaving the 2014 Cliven Bundy standoff against the Bureau of Land Management to go into Las Vegas and fatally shoot two police officers then drape a Gadsden Flag over one of their bodies and go on to shoot more people at a Walmart because, in their words, “This is the beginning of the revolution.”

Collectively, letting ourselves forget or taking no notice of these sorts of acts that Neiwert lays out throughout the majority of the book allowed them to grow into what they did. Neiwert also has an insight I hadn’t seen elsewhere: that Trump’s status as a living cartoon is the reason all these elements coalesced around him.

After detailing some of the fault lines between the groups that would eventually make up the alt-right, Neiwert says, “The movement needed something to make it cohere, something big enough to make the players forget their differences.”

But rather than Trump, Neiwert initially goes into a description of the Pepe the Frog and its transformation from webcomic character to general meme then to mascot of all manner of deplorable ideas.

Anonymity and internet culture use shock, absurdity, and irony as recruitment tools for radicalizing and making the horrific acceptable, and Neiwert details the way memes accrued to “God Emperor Trump” in the same way.

Though the parallel between Trump and Pepe was made, literally and repeatedly, during the campaign, I had never seen pointed out their similarity as ideas.

All presidential candidates, to some degree, have to be ciphers in order to convince enough voters they’re worth supporting without dissuading many others. Barack Obama certainly embodied the hopes and dreams of many disparate people, which is why his relative centrism disappointed so many on the Left after 2008, having heard what they wanted to rather than anything he’d actually said.

Trump, in contrast, often claimed to stand for nothing, or that he hadn’t said what he’d said, or that what he’d said was just a joke of some sort.

“They are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words.”

The extended quote Jean-Paul Sartre from his essay on Anti-Semitism has felt more relevant to the past five years than previous fifty, and Neiwert includes it prominently. Had Trump seemed more competent, more serious, more genuinely for anything in particular or specific, it would have been harder for his legion of dedicated cynics to support him.

Like with “ironic” Holocaust deniers or racist jokes that have the punchline of murdering some group, the jokes reveal underlying assumptions not so much what the participants find funny as who they sincerely regard as detestable.

Alt-America concludes with advice on what we ought to do going forward to address this movement and its consequences. But after so much work laying out how deep and systemic the problem runs, his prescription falls short.

It culminates in the hope that people on the left will, going forward, be a little less smug and more understanding of people who belong to the right wing.

Neiwert is correct: we should listen; we should be welcoming, not dehumanizing, in our politics. But in a country plagued by systemic racism, we need to organize and work collectively to change systems, not merely interactions, because most people never bother to change the default settings on anything, whether that’s white supremacy or applications on their smartphone.

You should buy a copy of Alt-America for yourself and read it; you should buy extra copies to keep at your home, lend, and gift out to friends and guests as appropriate. But don’t feel bad about skipping the last few pages.

Breakfast after the bell legislation easily clears the Washington State House again

Readers, we have good news to share today!

The Washington State House of Representatives has once again given overwhelming, bipartisan support to a bill (HB 1508) that requires qualifying high needs high schools to offer breakfast after the bell programs to students following the commencement of the school day. The House twice acted on this legislation last year, but it unfortunately died in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The bill also does the following, as summarized by nonpartisan legislative staff:

  • ŸDirects the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee to conduct and complete an analysis of BAB programs by December 1, 2025.
  • Authorizes the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to coordinate with the Washington State Department of Agriculture to promote new and existing regional markets programs, including farm-to-school initiatives and small farm direct marketing assistance.
  • Authorizes the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to award grants to school districts to collaborate with community-based organizations, food banks, and farms or gardens for reducing high school dropout occurrences through farm engagement projects.

“When hungry kids are focused on where their next meal is coming from, they aren’t focused on learning,” said State Representative Stonier, the prime sponsor of HB 1508. “As a lifelong educator who works with public school students every day, it’s amazing to see how a snack and a piece of fruit can transform a child’s day.”

Now that the Senate has a Democratic majority, it will hopefully no longer be a graveyard of progress, and we’ll see this bill reach Governor Inslee’s desk soon.

The vote on final passage of HB 1508 was eighty-three to fifteen (with all the nays coming from the Republican caucus) and the roll call was as follows:

Roll Call
2ESHB 1508
Student meals & nutrition
Final Passage
1/10/2018

Yeas: 83; Nays: 15

Voting Yea: Representatives Appleton, Barkis, Bergquist, Blake, Caldier, Chandler, Chapman, Clibborn, Cody, Condotta, DeBolt, Doglio, Dolan, Eslick, Fey, Fitzgibbon, Frame, Goodman, Graves, Gregerson, Griffey, Haler, Hansen, Harmsworth, Harris, Hayes, Holy, Hudgins, Irwin, Jinkins, Johnson, Kagi, Kilduff, Kirby, Kloba, Kretz, Kristiansen, Lovick, Lytton, MacEwen, Macri, Manweller, Maycumber, McBride, McCabe, McDonald, Morris, Muri, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Pellicciotti, Peterson, Pettigrew, Pollet, Reeves, Riccelli, Robinson, Rodne, Ryu, Santos, Sawyer, Sells, Senn, Slatter, Smith, Springer, Stambaugh, Stanford, Steele, Stokesbary, Stonier, Sullivan, Tarleton, Tharinger, Valdez, Van Werven, Volz, Walsh, Wilcox, Wylie, Young, and Chopp

Voting Nay: Representatives Buys, Dent, Dye, Hargrove, Jenkin, Klippert, Kraft, McCaslin, Nealey, Orcutt, Pike, Schmick, Shea, Taylor, and Vick

HB 1508 is expected to be referred to Early Learning & K-12 Education when it reaches the Senate. That committee is now chaired by Senator Lisa Wellman (D-41st District: Mercer Island, Bellevue, Newcastle, Renton).

NPI congratulates the House for once again passing this worthy legislation and we look forward to the day when it finally gets the vote it deserves in the Senate.

Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman on board with reforms to lower barriers to voting

Late last week, Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman signaled that her office will be supportive of efforts to eliminate or lower barriers to voting this session in Washington State, which will hopefully result in some bipartisan cooperation on the election reform front. (Both chambers of the Legislature are now controlled by Democrats for the first time in five years, which means the prospect of election reform bills moving to Governor Inslee’s desk is substantially greater).

In an email on Friday, Wyman embraced several ideas that we’ve been championing here at NPI to make it easier to vote and simplify our elections.

Here’s her rundown:

LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS AIMED AT INCREASING VOTER TURNOUT
As we discussed in last month’s newsletter, I am submitting a number of proposals to the Legislature for consideration. Voter turnout in the last election was at a record low, so I’m proposing these ideas to get more citizens engaged and participating.

Presidential Primary
Chief among my proposals is moving the default date of the Presidential Primary ahead by nearly three months, from May to March. Senate Bill 5333 and House Bill 1469 would schedule the Presidential Primary for the second Tuesday in March every four years, likely resulting in more visits from presidential candidates and a greater selection for voters to choose from.

By the time Washington’s Primary Election rolled around in 2016, the two nominations had largely been decided – and yet 1.4 million people still participated. Imagine how many would have turned out if it were held earlier? Moving the date up would make Washington a relevant battleground state again, and our voters would actually hear from candidates themselves instead of just their campaigns soliciting donations.

Did you know that unaffiliated ballots were last used in 2000? Since then, hundreds of thousands of independent voters have been required to declare a party affiliation if they wanted to participate in a Presidential Primary. Many of them have simply chosen not to vote since then. These bills would restore the unaffiliated ballot in a Presidential Primary contest and count those votes separately from party votes. Participation would increase and citizens would be assured that their voices are indeed being heard.

My proposals would also authorize this office to move the Presidential Primary date if it would include Washington in a regional, multi-state primary – essentially creating a “super Tuesday” for the northwestern or western United States.

[Top Two Election]
Another way to increase voter turnout is to move the annual [Top Two] Election from August to June.

August is already busy with vacations, summer recreation and getting ready for back-to-school, so this bill would move the date to the first Tuesday following the first Monday in June.

That date, by the way, was chosen specifically to avoid it falling on the Tuesday immediately after Memorial Day weekend!

Future Voter Program and Automatic Registration
Another one of my proposals would create a “Future Voter” program, in which 16 and 17-year-old Washingtonians could enroll and be ready to vote by their 18th birthday. It would also modify Temperance and Good Citizenship Day in Washington (January 16th) to include a requirement for high school senior history and social studies classes to provide an opportunity to enroll in the Future Voter program.

Additionally, people who apply for an enhanced driver’s license or enhanced identification card – both of which require proof of citizenship – would be automatically registered to vote unless they chose to opt out at the counter.

Election Day [Same-Day] Registration
Ever remember something important after it was too late to do anything about it? Some people find themselves in a situation where they need to register to vote at the last minute, so my proposal would extend the time period for in-person voter registration to 8 p.m. on Election Day (the current deadline is 8 days prior to an election). It would also extend the time period for electronic and paper-based voter registrations to no later than eleven days before the day of a Primary, Special or General Election, and move the deadline for transfers (from one address to another) from 29 days to 28 days to avoid interference by federal postal holidays.

At least two studies of voter participation in Washington have linked low turnout to inconveniently placed primary dates, not to mention all the national data that shows getting young adults interested in civics almost guarantees that they’ll become lifelong voters. The objective with these proposals is to get everyone in Washington who is eligible registered and voting, and all of these ideas will make significant strides toward that goal.

With the exception of bringing back unaffiliated ballots in the presidential primary (a counterproductive move we strongly oppose), these are all ideas the Legislature should act on this year. Another idea that Wyman didn’t include but which needs to be enacted as well is prepaid postage on ballot return envelopes. Requiring a stamp to return a ballot when no drop box is nearby is tantamount to a poll tax.

King County has experimented with prepaid postage on return envelopes and seen an increase in participation in their pilot projects. It’s time to make prepaid postage available statewide to every voter. State Senator Patty Kuderer introduced a bill last year to make this happen, and that bill either needs to be revived or reintroduced this year so we can work on removing another barrier to voting.

Bills to establish same-day and automatic voter registration previously went nowhere when Republicans controlled the Washington State Senate.

But it’s a new day in Olympia. With the Senate now reverting to Democratic management (the Legislature reconvenes at noon today), the way is much clearer for worthy ideas like these to advance to Governor Inslee’s desk.

PREVIOUSLY: Oops, we did it again: Washington sets record for worst-ever general election turnout (November 2017)

Even Republicans like Mark Schoesler oppose drilling for oil off of Washington’s coast

Years ago, back when Jon Stewart was still the face of Comedy Central, The Daily Show aired a segment in which Stewart joked that the mascot of the modern-day Republican Party was not an elephant, but rather a portrait of Jesus drilling for oil. That joke has aged extremely well, especially considering Ryan Zinke’s declaration this week that he wants to give oil companies free rein to drill off both coasts.

While it may appear that the Republican Party’s love of the oil industry and its desire to extract, refine, and burn every last drop of black gold has no limit (even if our common home, the Earth, is destroyed in the process), it turns out there are a fair number of Republicans who just aren’t comfortable giving the oil industry unchecked permission to plunder and pillage America’s natural resources.

That includes Republicans who aren’t considered to be the slightest bit green.

Take Mark Schoesler, the top Republican in the Washington State Senate.

Schoesler — who is now the chamber’s Minority Leader following Manka Dhingra’s win in the 45th District — is as right wing as they come in Washington State, and was recognized last year by Tim Eyman as one of his key allies in the statehouse.

Nevertheless, Schoesler is among those who oppose Zinke and Trump’s unconscionable scheme to open Washington’s waters to oil drilling.

Schoesler said unequivocally today during CityClub’s 2018 Legislative Preview that he doesn’t support drilling for oil off of Washington’s coast in response to an audience question, to the surprise of many in the room.

Mark Schoesler speaking at CityClub

Republican Senator Mark Schoesler speaks at CityClub’s 2018 Legislative Preview (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

The question was as follows:

“I wondered what your position is regarding the federal government’s announcement that they’ll soon be drilling off the coast of Washington State for oil, in our fine waters,” inquired Katherine McConnell.

Democrats Sharon Nelson and Larry Springer fielded the question first, telling the audience they are appalled. Then it was the Republicans’ turn to weigh in.

“I’m opposed to drilling offshore in Washington,” Schoesler stated simply, leaning back from the microphone after speaking those seven words to signify that that would be the extent of his answer. State Representative Dan Kristiansen, the top House Republican, then offered his take. He was less emphatic in his answer, but stressed he also had concerns with the prospect of offshore drilling.

U.S. Representative Dave Reichert (WA-08) also indicated he thinks Zinke’s plan is irresponsible in a press release issued yesterday by his office.

“I am deeply concerned about the Administration’s proposal allowing for new oil and gas drilling opportunities in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, Gulf of Mexico, and off the coast of Alaska,” Reichert’s statement said.

“This moves America in the wrong direction and has the potential to have a negative lasting effect on our oceans as well as the shorelines of states on these coasts. Our country is at the forefront of developing efficient and cost effective alternative energy technologies and we should continue to support innovation in this area. These energy solutions of the future must be a part of our energy plan.”

Reichert previously signed a letter to Zinke asking the Department of the Interior not to open Washington’s waters to oil drilling… a plea Zinke chose to disregard.

Republicans on the other coast are also rather unhappy with the Trump regime’s immoral post-Christmas giveaway to the oil industry.

For example, take Rick Scott, Republican Governor of Florida. He’s no RINO (Republican in Name Only). And yet, here he was this week telling Zinke (and Trump, by extension) that they were making a big mistake.

Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, widely expected to battle this year for Nelson’s Senate seat, said Thursday they both intend to fight a Trump administration plan to open previously protected parts of the Atlantic Ocean and eastern Gulf of Mexico to offshore oil and gas drilling. Scott said he has requested a meeting with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to discuss opposition to President Donald Trump’s effort to expand domestic energy production.

“Based on media reports, it is likely that the Department of the Interior will consider Florida as a potential state for offshore oil drilling —- which is something I oppose in Florida,” Scott said in a prepared statement shortly before Zinke unveiled the drilling proposal Thursday. “I have already asked to immediately meet with Secretary Zinke to discuss the concerns I have with this plan and the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration.”

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who isn’t as right wing as Scott, went even further, saying he’d like to see legal action to stop Zinke’s drilling schemes.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Attorney General Brian Frosh are both expressing opposition to drilling off Maryland’s coast.

The Republican governor sent the Democratic attorney general a letter Thursday directing him to investigate the U.S. Interior Department’s plan, which was announced earlier in the day. Hogan called for “any viable legal claims, actions or suits against the U.S. government to prevent” offshore drilling in Maryland’s coastal waters.

The Zinke/Trump drilling scheme unveiled yesterday is tantamount to a declaration of war on the Earth, and it must be defeated. Future generations are counting on us to stop the forces of greed from ruining our planet, which is already in grave peril due to the ever-worsening climate crisis. It’s good to see that at least some Republicans are simply unwilling to go along with an agenda that puts the oil industry’s wildest dreams first at the expense of all of humanity.

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