NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

Tim Eyman continues attack on state Supreme Court, misquotes Orwell’s “Animal Farm”

With no ini­tia­tive on the bal­lot to sell this year, scan­dal-plagued ini­tia­tive pro­mot­er Tim Eyman has turned his atten­tion to launch­ing attacks on indi­vid­u­als and insti­tu­tions he does­n’t like, name­ly the Wash­ing­ton State Supreme Court, Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­dates for office at all lev­els, and Sound Transit.

This after­noon, Eyman sent out yet anoth­er mis­sive exco­ri­at­ing the Supreme Court in the wake of yes­ter­day’s McCleary hear­ing. As much as Eyman loathes Sound Tran­sit and Demo­c­ra­t­ic elect­ed lead­ers like Jay Inslee or Dow Con­stan­tine, it seems he despis­es the Supreme Court most of all — for it is the Court that has struck down most of the ini­tia­tives he has got past the vot­ers, from I‑695 and I‑747 (lat­er par­tial­ly rein­stat­ed) to I‑960/I‑1053/I‑1185 and I‑1366 (not reinstated).

Eyman’s appar­ent­ly been read­ing some clas­sic lit­er­a­ture late­ly, because he opened his email today by bizarrely com­par­ing the jus­tices of Wash­ing­ton’s Supreme Court to char­ac­ters from George Orwell’s novel­la Ani­mal Farm:

For many years, this supreme court has inflat­ed its gov­ern­men­tal impor­tance, try­ing to estab­lish itself as a supe­ri­or branch of gov­ern­ment. In the nov­el “Ani­mal Farm,” the gov­ern­ing pigs ini­tial­ly paint­ed the words “All pigs are equal” on the side of the barn.

But as time went on and they accrued more pow­er, they changed it to “Some pigs are more equal than oth­ers.” That’s exact­ly what these 9 judges want every­one to think. That they are supe­ri­or to the leg­isla­tive branch, that they are supe­ri­or to the exec­u­tive branch. That some branch­es of gov­ern­ment are more equal than others.

I found it hard to stop chuck­ling after read­ing this. Eyman is so lazy and so accus­tomed to fab­ri­cat­ing that he can’t even be both­ered to accu­rate­ly sum­ma­rize or quote from a clas­sic, easy to read novel­la like Ani­mal Farm.

For those who don’t know: Ani­mal Farm (which Orwell ini­tial­ly sub­ti­tled “A Fairy Sto­ry”), is an alle­go­ry sat­i­riz­ing the for­ma­tion and ear­ly years of the Sovi­et Union, sparked by the Russ­ian Rev­o­lu­tion of 1917. The set­ting is a farm in Eng­land, intro­duced as the Manor Farm at the begin­ning of the novella.

(Warn­ing: spoil­ers lie ahead. Pause here or skip the next few para­graphs if you want to read the novel­la with­out know­ing the plot beforehand.)

The farm becomes Ani­mal Farm after its human own­er Jones and his farmhands are sent pack­ing by the ani­mals under their care — who they’d been neglect­ing — in a spon­ta­neous upris­ing. After this tri­umph, the ani­mals begin attempt­ing to gov­ern them­selves, with the far­m’s pigs (who, unbe­knownst to the oth­er ani­mals, had taught them­selves to read and write) as the self-appoint­ed leaders.

The pigs estab­lish a codex for the farm called the Sev­en Com­mand­ments, which is based on “Ani­mal­ism”, an alle­go­ry of Com­mu­nism. In Chap­ter 2, they paint the Sev­en Com­mand­ments on the side of the far­m’s barn:

  1. What­ev­er goes upon two legs is an enemy.
  2. What­ev­er goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
  3. No ani­mal shall wear clothes.
  4. No ani­mal shall sleep in a bed.
  5. No ani­mal shall drink alcohol.
  6. No ani­mal shall kill any oth­er animal.
  7. All ani­mals are equal.

It is the last com­mand­ment that Eyman quot­ed — inac­cu­rate­ly — in his email. The com­mand­ments refer to ani­mals, not pigs, though they were paint­ed on the side of the barn wall by one of the pigs. If you’ve read the novel­la, then you appre­ci­ate the impor­tance of the dis­tinc­tion I just made, because the pigs in the novel­la are the char­ac­ters respon­si­ble for exploit­ing the oth­er animals.

As the novel­la pro­gress­es, the two lead­ing pigs (rec­og­nized as “the clever­est of the ani­mals”) become rivals, and one is forced into exile by the oth­er, who assumes dic­ta­to­r­i­al pow­ers. By the end, the remain­ing pigs and their auto­crat­ic chief have become as bad as the human own­er they dis­placed — Jones — if not worse, and the Sev­en Com­mand­ments have been oblit­er­at­ed and replaced with this:

ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL
BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS

If Tim Eyman had any integri­ty, he’d care about get­ting details like his quo­ta­tions right… but he does­n’t, so his emails are often rid­dled with infor­ma­tion that is sim­ply in error. And sad­ly, over the years, there have been many times where Eyman’s fab­ri­ca­tions have been repeat­ed in the press due to not hav­ing been fact-checked.

I hap­pen to have per­son­al­ly met most of the jus­tices cur­rent­ly serv­ing on Wash­ing­ton’s Supreme Court. From talk­ing to them and read­ing their opin­ions, I know how seri­ous­ly they take their oaths of office. The Court’s duty is to uphold our Con­sti­tu­tion, and that is what it has been try­ing to do in the McCleary case. It is the Leg­is­la­ture that is col­lec­tive­ly refus­ing to fol­low Arti­cle IX of our Con­sti­tu­tion by amply pro­vid­ing for the edu­ca­tion of Wash­ing­ton’s youth.

If the Leg­is­la­ture would sim­ply com­ply with the Court’s orders, there would be no risk of a con­sti­tu­tion­al cri­sis. But the Leg­is­la­ture has not been will­ing to do so. Law­mak­ers have been drag­ging their feet for years, and as a result, our kids aren’t get­ting the edu­ca­tion the Con­sti­tu­tion says they’re sup­posed to get.

That’s wrong. The Leg­is­la­ture’s cul­ture of fail­ure is unac­cept­able. That’s why the Court heard oral argu­ments yes­ter­day over pos­si­ble next steps in the case.

The Court’s nine jus­tices (by the way, Tim, they’re called jus­tices) are sup­posed to be stick­lers for the Con­sti­tu­tion. Our sys­tem of gov­ern­ment was designed with checks and bal­ances: each branch has a role to play in hold­ing the oth­ers account­able. The Court is hold­ing the Leg­is­la­ture account­able for its fail­ures — or try­ing to at least. Some mem­bers (ahem, Matt Man­weller) clear­ly resent this.

As the Court’s nine jus­tices are pop­u­lar­ly elect­ed from across the entire state, Man­weller, Eyman, and the right wing are seek­ing to defeat the three incum­bents who are up this year with their own slate of can­di­dates. Eyman has been using his email list to aggres­sive­ly pro­mote this slate of challengers.

In the Top Two elec­tion, only one of the three Supreme Court con­tests appeared on the bal­lot because the oth­ers drew only two can­di­dates. That posi­tion (Posi­tion #5) is cur­rent­ly held by Chief Jus­tice Bar­bara Mad­sen, who Eyman despises.

Despite hav­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars spent against her (with much of that mon­ey sup­plied by Ken­neth Fish­er, one of Eyman’s wealthy bene­fac­tors), Mad­sen cruised to a first place fin­ish with a whop­ping 63.9% of the vote.

Unde­terred by Mad­sen’s land­slide vic­to­ry and the mas­sive fail­ure of the large inde­pen­dent expen­di­ture against her, Eyman has con­tin­ued to pro­mote the right wing’s pre­ferred slate through a series of email mis­sives while urg­ing his fol­low­ers to pep­per the jus­tices with emails telling them how awful they are.

“If you think these judges have gone com­plete­ly rogue, then we want every­one — AND WE MEAN EVERYONE — to send them an email and tell them what you think.  Send them a mes­sage in your own words.  But send them some­thing right away, right now,” Eyman exhort­ed in his email today. (Empha­sis is his).

It is iron­ic that Eyman would com­pare our state’s Supreme Court jus­tices to the pigs from Ani­mal Farm when it is he and his wealthy bene­fac­tors who are most like the pigs. If you’ve read Ani­mal Farm, then you know that the pigs in the novel­la are self­ish wealth hoard­ers — not unlike Eyman’s wealthy bene­fac­tors. Con­sid­er this excerpt from Chap­ter 3 of the novel­la [spoil­er alert!]:

The ear­ly apples were now ripen­ing, and the grass of the orchard was lit­tered with wind­falls. The ani­mals had assumed as a mat­ter of course that these would be shared out equal­ly; one day, how­ev­er, the order went forth that all the wind­falls were to be col­lect­ed and brought to the har­ness-room for the use of the pigs. At this some of the oth­er ani­mals mur­mured, but it was no use. All the pigs were in full agree­ment on this point, even Snow­ball and Napoleon. Squeal­er was sent to make the nec­es­sary expla­na­tions to the others.

Here I will pause and note that Squeal­er — who is the Ani­mal Farm char­ac­ter that Eyman most resem­bles — serves as the spoke­spig for the oth­er pigs.

“Com­rades!” he cried. “You do not imag­ine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spir­it of self­ish­ness and priv­i­lege? Many of us actu­al­ly dis­like milk and apples. I dis­like them myself. Our sole object in tak­ing these things is to pre­serve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Sci­ence, com­rades) con­tain sub­stances absolute­ly nec­es­sary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brain­work­ers. The whole man­age­ment and organ­i­sa­tion of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watch­ing over your wel­fare. It is for YOUR sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples. Do you know what would hap­pen if we pigs failed in our duty? Jones would come back! Yes, Jones would come back! Sure­ly, com­rades,” cried Squeal­er almost plead­ing­ly, skip­ping from side to side and whisk­ing his tail, “sure­ly there is no one among you who wants to see Jones come back?”

Now if there was one thing that the ani­mals were com­plete­ly cer­tain of, it was that they did not want Jones back. When it was put to them in this light, they had no more to say. The impor­tance of keep­ing the pigs in good health was all too obvi­ous. So it was agreed with­out fur­ther argu­ment that the milk and the wind­fall apples (and also the main crop of apples when they ripened) should be reserved for the pigs alone.

Tax cuts for the rich have been jus­ti­fied by right wing Repub­li­cans over and over again in a sim­i­lar con­de­scend­ing fash­ion. The false, fear-based argu­ments against tax­a­tion that get made on Fox Noise Chan­nel and Fox Busi­ness are not so unlike the argu­ments Squeal­er makes to the oth­er ani­mals on behalf of the pigs:

We rich peo­ple and the even more mas­sive­ly rich peo­ple we serve as mouth­pieces for on TV are job cre­ators. The whole man­age­ment and orga­ni­za­tion of this coun­try’s econ­o­my depends on us. Day and night we are watch­ing over your wel­fare. It is for YOUR sake that we need these tax cuts. Do you know what would hap­pen if our tax­es went up? Our state and coun­try would lose jobs! Yes, jobs would be lost! Sure­ly there is none among you who wants to lose jobs?

In real­i­ty, tax cuts for the wealthy and oth­er tenets of right wing eco­nom­ics lead to mass inequal­i­ty, stag­na­tion, and decline. Not jobs. Not prosperity.

To put it anoth­er way: trick­le down does­n’t.

But when we pool our resources accord­ing to abil­i­ty to pay, we can achieve great things togeth­er. We can afford qual­i­ty pub­lic schools, col­leges, and uni­ver­si­ties, a robust mass tran­sit sys­tem, safe bridges, parks and pools to recre­ate in, first rate police, fire, and emer­gency med­ical ser­vices, and much more. The avail­abil­i­ty of excel­lent pub­lic ser­vices is cru­cial to estab­lish­ing the best busi­ness cli­mate. Tax­es can be thought of as dues we pay to keep our com­mu­ni­ties healthy and vibrant.

Sad­ly, some peo­ple don’t want to pay their dues and pay it for­ward so the next gen­er­a­tion of work­ers and entre­pre­neurs can pros­per. Ken­neth Fish­er, Clyde Hol­land, Faye Gar­neau, and oth­er Eyman bene­fac­tors are self­ish wealth hoard­ers. They have cho­sen to fund Eyman in the past because Eyman has a gift for deceiv­ing peo­ple into vot­ing for schemes that enrich the few at the expense of the many.

Eyman is their Squeal­er — or at least he used to be. See, two can play at this game. Eyman has been fun­nelling a lot of the mon­ey giv­en by the afore­men­tioned bene­fac­tors into his own pock­ets and fail­ing to prop­er­ly report his activ­i­ties to the pub­lic as the law requires. That’s land­ed him in a lot of legal trouble.

Maybe it’s this trou­ble that has caused the bene­fac­tors to turn off the mon­ey spig­ot. Or maybe they’ve real­ized Eyman is real­ly, real­ly bad at writ­ing ini­tia­tives that stand up to scruti­ny, and they don’t want to fund anoth­er uncon­sti­tu­tion­al initiative.

What­ev­er their rea­sons for shut­ting off the spig­ot, Eyman’s ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry is present­ly idle. Eyman’s not on the 2016 bal­lot and does­n’t have the funds nec­es­sary to buy his way onto the 2017 bal­lot (at least not yet, any­way). That’s left him with a lot of free time. And so Eyman has been reduced to a pun­dit with an email list, tak­ing reg­u­lar pot­shots at his favorite tar­gets with­in the state… at least when he’s not admir­ing the courage of Don­ald Trump.

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