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:
- Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
- Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
- No animal shall wear clothes.
- No animal shall sleep in a bed.
- No animal shall drink alcohol.
- No animal shall kill any other animal.
- 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.