Monday, October 31, 2016

The Political Desk: The Jeff Recommends

OK, we are a week away from election day, and the vast bulk of you in Washington State who pay attention to such  have already put together your ballots, mailed it/dropped it off at nearby ballot drops, and then bragged about it on the Facebooks. So let me summarize the past week or so (You can dig through the previous posts for the reasons - if particular, you can find links to other people's endorsements and information here):

Initiative Measure No. 1433 (Statewide Minimum Wage) - YES
Initiative Measure No. 1464 (Campaign Finance Reform) - YES
Initiative Measure No, 1491 (Reduce access to Firearms) - YES
Initiative Measure No, 1501 (Protect Seniors from Fraud/Reduce Transparency) - NO
Initiative Measure No. 732 Carbon Tax) - YES
Initiative Measure No. 735 Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizen's United) -  YES

Advisory Vote No. 14  House Bill 2768  (Does it really matter?) - MAINTAINED
Advisory Vote No. 15 Second Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2778  (Seriously, I mean, advisory as in no one in charge has to pay attention) - MAINTAINED

Proposed Amendment to the State Constitution Senate Joint Resolution No. 8210. (Move redistricting deadline) - APPROVED

King County Charter Amendment No. 1 Nonpartisan Prosecuting Attorney.  - YES 
King County Charter Amendment No. 2 Gender-Neutral Language. -  YES

President of the United States - Hillary Clinton
US Senator - Patty Murray
US Representative, 9th District - Adam Smith

Governor - Jay Inslee 
Lt. Governor - Cyrus Habib
Secretary of State - Tina Podlowski 
State Treasurer - Duane Davidson
State Auditor - Pat (Patrice) McCarthy
Attorney General - Bob Ferguson 
Commissioner of Public Lands - Hilary Franz 
Superintendent  of Public Instruction - Erin Jones (with a respectful nod to Chris Reykdal)
Insurance Commission - Mike Kriedler 

Legislative District No. 11 State Senator - Bob Hasegawa 
Legislative District No. 11 Representative Position No. 1 - Zack Hudgins 
Legislative District No. 11 Representative Position No. 2 - Steve Berquist 

Justice Position No. 1Mary Yu
Justice Position No. 5:  Barbara Madsen
Justice Position No. 6: Charles (Charlie) Wiggins

Court of Appeals, Division No. 1, District No. 1 Michael J. Trickey

Judge Position No. 14: Nichole Gaines Phelps
Judge Position No. 26: David Keenan
Judge Position No. 31Helen Halpert
Judge Position No. 44Cathy Moore 
Judge Position No. 52: Anthony Gipe 
Judge Position No. 53: Mariane Spearman

Sound Transit (A Regional Transit Authority) Proposition No,. 1 Light-Rail, Commuter-Rail, and Bus Service Expansion - APPROVED

Kent School District No,. 415 Proposition No. 1 Capital Improvement and School Construction General Obligation Bonds - APPROVED

A few other notes from the peanut (or pundit) gallery:

1) I expect Ms. Clinton to win with a decisive number of electoral college votes.
2) I expect the popular vote to be much closer than that. In fact, with the third party votes floating around, Ms. Clinton may get a plurality (most votes), but not a majority (more than 50% of the votes). This will be seized upon as a reason why her opponents should stand in the way on all legislation. As if they need a reason.
3) I expect the Republican Party to survive this, much like the Democratic Party survived its blowout in 1972. In the Democrat's case, the result was met with a move towards the center. For the Republicans, I think that they will just dump the current candidate into the memory hole with the previous GOP Administration (As Homer Simpson once said "Alright, we're here. Let us never speak of the short cut again.").
4) If I'm wrong, the Republican party will split into three, not two. There is already a flight among Republicans to the Libertarian movement (Socially liberal, Economically conservative) - the bulk of Libertarian candidates running in Washington State were Republicans until recently. The other party is socially conservative and economically liberal - call them Caring Conservatives, Dan Evans Republicans, Good People, or the Ned Flanders party. Religious but with outreach programs and soup kitchens. Finally there will be the Rump (not a typo) Republicans. We've had to deal with these folks for years - they were the Democrat's headache up to the Sixties, when Nixon recruited them in his Southern Strategy. Call them Tea Party, call them the American Independent Party, call them Dixiecrats, they will remain a challenge for whoever is putting a government together.
5) Ms. Clinton's administration will be incredibly investigated. Somewhere, someone will find that she ripped tags off of mattresses, and that will be the end of it.
6) Finally, should the Reps break up, the Dems well may follow. The Democrats have always been a big. squabbling tent, gathered together by a common foe, but the stress between the Corporate-supporters and the Progressives will be strong. Lack of a coherent opponent, and creation of new opportunities, may create their own fracturing.

Should any of this happen, I will be as surprised as you, but in the meantime, get you ballots in!

More later,

The Political Desk: Initiatives, Advisory Votes, Amendments, and Other Weighty Matters.

Clickbait TLDR: Yes/Approved/Maintained on all except one. You'll be surprised by the one that doesn't get recommended!

We have a slew of things to vote upon that are not people here: We have Initiatives to the People. We have Initiatives to the Legislature. We have Advisory Votes (which really don't matter at all). We have an amendment to the State Constitution (which is less dire than it sounds). We have two amendments to the King County Charter. We have a Transit Proposal, and, most locally, we have School Construction Bond.

Initiative Measure No. 1433 - Raising the minimum wage state-wide. YES. When Seattle raised its minimum wage, doomsayers stated categorically that it would be the demise of the city's small businesses and chain restaurants. Instead businesses are doing even better and unemployment is down. Now that the same idea is posed statewide, the same doomsayers declare that such actions can ONLY succeed in Seattle, which is successful and, um, has a higher minimum wage. Like I said, YES.

Initiative Measure No. 1464 - Campaign finance reform. Creates a campaign finance system that will allow residents to send state funds to candidates and thereby reduce the power of PACs and special interest groups. Paid for by closing a loophole involving non-resident sales-tax exemptions.  This is a very experimental idea, and I say YES.

Initiative Measure No, 1491 - Court orders to prevent access to firearms by individuals"exhibiting mental illness, violent or other behavior indicating they may harm themselves or others." This is a good step to taking guns out of the hands of those who may pose a direct threat to themselves and others, and addresses it from the "It's not guns, its people with guns" side, which I keep hearing about as a reason NOT to do anything after every major shooting. YES.

Initiative Measure No, 1501 - Increases penalties for people defrauding senior citizens. NO. What? What do I have against old people (bordering on that demographic myself)? The fine print with exempt certain individuals, like in-home caregivers, from public disclosure searches. This last bit is to keep union-busters at bay by not letting them access files. Don't like union-busting, but really do not like to fog up our transparency laws. Still like old people, though. Seriously, take one out to lunch. Or call you Mom. Either one works.

Initiative Measure No. 732 - Carbon Tax. YES. This is a revenue-neutral proposal to reduce the among of carbon pollution pumped into the atmosphere. Some of the ecology groups are not fans of this, because it does not go far enough, but I say it is a beginning. Others point out that the new tax will raise gas prices to ... much lower than we were paying nineyears ago. In addition it reduces our regressive sales tax by a point and eliminates some B&O taxes. Reduces taxes, you say? I find your pamphlet interesting and would like to know more.

Initiative Measure No. 735 - This one proposes that the state pushes an federal constitution amendment that overturns Citizen United, which has done SO much to screw our recent elections. Doesn't have as much teeth in it, but pushes our Legislature in that direction. YES.

Advisory Vote No. 14  House Bill 2768. - Advisory votes cheese me off only because they are there because of a free-pony initiative that forces the legislature to check with the people about their financial arrangements. Not to listen to the people, just to check. Plus these are written in the scariest manner possible. This one will extend an existing tax on some online insurance plans for dental plans. It is maintaining a tax, but is still called a tax increase. I say its broccoli and I say the hell with it. MAINTAINED.

Ditto Advisory Vote No. 15 Second Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2778, which states (according to our scary-language law) that it will cost 2 million dollars in ten years, which means it with RAISE 2 millions dollars by closing a loophole on alt-fuel vehicles. Hell, I OWN an alt-fuel vehicle, and I think it should be MAINTAINED.

Proposed Amendment to the State Constitution Senate Joint Resolution No. 8210. moves the due date for redistricting up 46 days, putting it right after the election. when we are still paying attention to stuff and are cheesed off about gerrymandering. Its a nuts and bolts thing that makes sense since we now have computers and cars and stuff these days that make the process faster. APPROVED.

King County Charter Amendment No. 1 Nonpartisan Prosecuting Attorney. All the offices of King County are supposedly non-partisan - why not this one? I'm a little leery on this, only because it forces folk to dig down deeper into the Voters' Guide to figure out where the County Attorney is getting his support, but I'll go with YES.

King County Charter Amendment No. 2 Gender-Neutral Language. - Shall we make the Charter gender neutral in its language? Sure, why not. If they need some editors to do this, and to push for clarity, I have some suggestions (mimes holding a phone to his ear and mimes the words "call me"). YES.

Sound Transit (A Regional Transit Authority) Proposition No,. 1 Light-Rail, Commuter-Rail, and Bus Service Expansion. This is a biggie - $53.8 billion for improved light rail and buses - a 20 year plan for an overstressed transit region. When they rolled out the preliminary plan, a lot of suburbs looked at it and wanted more for their particular part of the woods, so it's grown. The argument against is that we should be spending the money on education (Cool! Are we going to spend it on education? No, they're just saying they SHOULD spend money on education, but will still block all attempts at that as well). My neighborhood is so off the grid we don't even get an improved transit stop (That's cool - I was holding out for Stargates, myself), but I think that coming to grips with our highways (bad now and worse as more people want to live here) is vital. Vote APPROVED.

And finally,

Kent School District No,. 415 Proposition No. 1 Capital Improvement and School Construction General Obligation Bonds. This is permission to go out and sell bonds to build two new elementary schools, 20 new classrooms, and fix a bunch of roofs. $252 million worth of bonds. If you're voting AGAINST the previous one because of education, you'd damned well be voting FOR this one. Vote APPROVED.

Ugh. That's the list. It has been a long journey. Summary coming up next:

More later,

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Political Desk: Judges.

This one requires a bit of work. I know a good deal about the candidates running for the State Supreme court, but after that, we get down in the weeds about credentials, experience, and opinions. For that reason, I have turned to Voting For Judges to help out here. And, I am supplemented by a friend who has been taking up Facebook time starting at the low end of the ballot and moving upwards, who has waded in on these guys (thanks, Janice!).

First off, the Supremes:

Justice Position No. 1: Mary Yu
Justice Position No. 5:  Barbara Madsen
Justice Position No. 6: Charles (Charlie) Wiggins

All three have done excellent work in their terms of office. Of the three, Mr. Wiggins is getting the biggest challenge, with a lot of last-minute money being dumped into scare-tactic television ads that I don't watch, but are so loathsome that the Times editorial board, who endorsed his opponent, is calling them out.

Gettings down into lower courts, I have Court of Appeals, Division No. 1, District No. 1 Michael J. Trickey, who despite his name is running unopposed. Congrats on the win!

In the Superior Court Races, we have a lot of people I've never heard of before I opened the ballot. Most races pit a exceptionally well-qualified candidate against one that is less so, making the decision easy. For the couple that were close I turned to my Facebook researcher as a tie-breaker. Let's see what I have:

Judge Position No. 14: Nichole Gaines Phelps
Judge Position No. 26: David Keenan
Judge Position No. 31: Helen Halpert
Judge Position No. 44; Cathy Moore (this one is a split decision on the endorsements - I look towards my tie-breaker - she tips the balance towards Moore on real-world experience. Sounds good to me.)
Judge Position No. 52: Anthony Gipe (another split decision in endorsements, my tie-breaker supports Gipe. So let it be written, so let it be done).
Judge Position No. 53: Mariane Spearman

More later,

The Political Desk: State Legislature

This will be a short one. While I have heard gripes and moans about two Republicans running against each other for State Treasurer, there are districts in Washington State where you can't get a Republican (or Democrat) even into the race. And that includes the 11th District, which occupies the bulk of my commute to downtown Seattle, stretching from Maple Valley all the way up to S. Holgate St, verging on SoDo. We have three strong Democrats running for the offices, all incumbents, and all should be returned to office:

Legislative District No. 11 State Senator: Bob Hasegawa (running against a Libertarian candidate)
Legislative District No. 11 Representative Position No. 1: Zack Hudgins (running against a GOP candidate)
Legislative District No. 11 Representative Position No. 2: Steve Berquist (running unopposed).

More later,

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Political Desk: State Executive Offices

So we've run through most of the Washington State Executive already back in the Primary, so most of this should not be a surprise. But some things have changed, so let's go down the list.

Governor: Jay Inslee is still my choice, despite getting more black eyes this term than a beholder in a boxing match. His opponent, Bill Bryant. comes out of my favorite hive of scum and villainy, the Port Authority, and wants everyone to forget about inviting that Shell drill rig into Puget Sound without telling anyone. Oh, and he doesn't like Trump, anymore. Sorry to take so long to tell you.

Lt. Governor: I still support Cyrus Habib. He's my nod to a trouble-maker candidate, one who promises to shake things up from its moribund nature of the position under Brad Owen. Fun Fact: His opponent, Marty McLendon, is co-host with Doug Basler (from the previous entry) of a radio talk show, and the only state-wide candidate to openly support the Republican presidential nominee.

Secretary of State: Man, this one hurts. I tend to really support professional people who do their jobs well, which gives incumbents a real leg-up. And Kim Wyman has been a good heir to the even-handedness of predecessor Sam Reed. But since the last election, there have been a series of announcements and miscues that really give me pause about Ms. Wyman. We have the Attorney General dinging her campaign for its record-keeping, which is minor as scandals go, but still telling. Then there was a screwup telling folk in Pierce County that they have to mail in their ballots by the 4th, not the 8th, but that fight is with the county's current auditor. But we do have the Spanish language version of the Voters' Guide that uses the word "felony" wrong, which smacks of vote suppression. But the big one was a trying to push a state voting ID card on the back of the recent tragic shooting at the Cascade Mall, claiming the shooter was not a Washington citizen (he was). So, yeah, I'm done. There's another option.  Let's go for Tina Podlowski this time out.

State Treasurer: Well, we're getting a Republican, regardless of who you vote for. It's not necessarily a bad thing. I know, people are grumbling over the top-two election, but to be frank, we have a lot of local positions where there are not any Republicans running, so there is enough to complain about from both sides. Duane Davidson gets good marks as the treasurer for Benton County, but the Stranger reveals that in the primary stages, he said he would be voting for Trump, and everyone in the room, including his opponents, tried to talk him him out of it. Since then he has moved to a more to a more aggressively neutral position, but still, there's that. His opponent, Michael Waite, an Australian immigrant and financial professional, doesn't have the governmental chops, but has moved around large chunks of cash. Yeah, Duane Davidson, I suppose.

State Auditor: This might go GOP as well, since the last guy in the office was a Dem with a very sketchy business history and who resisted all attempts by everyone (including the Guv) to get him out (Protip: Never trust any politician who plans on running government like a business). The idea of a party flip  is sad, because Pat (Patrice) McCarthy, Pierce County Executive, came up through the ranks as an auditor and looks fine for the job. The Times did a epistemological backflip to support her opponent, declaring "McCarthy's service is laudable, but the state Auditor's Office would benefit from having a leader who has not worked for and led major agencies that it must scrutinize". So according to the Times, experience is a BAD thing. Mind you, the current Auditor, who also had not worked for the agencies that must be scrutinized, is the one that has damaged the office, and someone who actually knows what she is doing, like Ms. McCarthy, would be the best person to restore trust.

Attorney General: Bob Ferguson is a tough cookie. He's gone after major corporations and actually has led the country on cracking down on Kickstarter fraud. So yeah, Bob Ferguson (with a note that if you prefer the GOP, you're out of luck, but we DO have a Libertarian in Joshua B. Turnbull).

Commissioner of Public Lands: Hilary Franz wasn't my choice in the primary, but she's good, with a stronger environmental background. Her opponent has anti-government extremists lined up behind him, though he is trying to distance himself from them, he isn't doing a very good job.  Hilary Franz.

Superintendent  of Public Instruction: OK, let me be frank, Both Erin Jones and Chris Reykdal are good choices. This blog supported Erin Jones by a whisker in the Primary. And since then, some ... stuff ... has shown up, where she's less than supportive of the LGBTQ community. She's fessed up to her mistake, she's opened the doors, and she takes responsibility. That's all good. Better not to cast one's self down the rabbit hole in the first place, a rabbit hole which her opponent, Chris Reykdal, avoided nimbly. So I'm conflicted, and will go back and forth a couple times on this before I put pen to ballot. I'm going to say that both candidates have strong resumes and are dedicated to education, and will be key in the coming year as Education must be hacked out in the courts. I am still supporting Erin Jones, but I feel that both she and Chris Reykdal will be up to the task.

And finally, Insurance Commission Mike Kriedler has been doing a good job. Let's keep him.

More later.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Political Desk: US Representative, District 9

This is a short one, but not all of them are going to be deep.

The reconstituted 9th has been well-served by Adam Smith and should continue to do so. He does have both experience and incumbency on his side. He's the top Dem on the Armed Services Committee, despite the fact the the re-orged district no longer reaches down past Tacoma into Joint-Base Lewis-McChord. He's done a good job and should keep doing it. Both the Stranger and the Times agree (though the Stranger, lost in a drug-induced time zone, still seems to think he's running against Jesse Wineberry).

His opponent, Doug Basler, is among other things a conservative talk-show host with a web site that takes its inspiration from the Hunger Games (yeah, I didn't get that at first, either - the Huffington Post had to point it out). He's also one of the few GOP candidates in Washington State that is supporting the Republican Presidential choice. so there's that. Here's the notes from a forum involving the two.

So, yeah, Adam Smith.

More later,

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Political Desk: United States Senator

Patty Murray. Well, duh.

OK, to keep this from being a two-sentence entry, let me expand upon the long, dark shadow that the current Republican presidential nominee is casting over everything down-ballot, particularly in Washington State. The sheer odious nature of the candidate is such that every GOP candidate is caught with his guts in a vice - does he denounce the odious candidate and cheese off his loyal Republican base, some of whom have partook of the Kool-Aid and swore allegiance to his alternate reality? Or does he support the candidate and scare off anyone who might be thinking the GOP, after years of failure, suddenly will get it right THIS time? What form would this denouncement take? Wrist-slap? Failure to endorse? Declaration that you wouldn't vote for him? Or do you just lay low?

That last option is not available to Washington Republicans, thanks to our Head of the State Republican Party. She wrist-slapped the candidate and then rationalized his behavior by saying he was a Democrat at the time.

So what you're saying is that Its OK If You're A Republican? That particular line shows up so often it has its own hashtag. And it does underscore that we expect more from Democrats, and that we're pretty good at getting rid of the ones that don't measure up.

The result is, of course, many GOP candidates are in that gut-vise, such that they are forced to denounce the presidential candidate on their own and let the chips fall where they may.

A number have. Dave Reichert, safely ensconced in a district that reaches from Issaquah to Ellensberg with minimal challenge, has turned on the deeply flawed candidate. So has the Gubernatorial GOPer, though he fumbled around long enough so that both sides can be mad at him. Others are following suit.

Which gets me back to the US Senate. Chris Vance is the Republican nominee, former State senator, and FORMER chairman of the State GOP (Odd that bit of information seems to have slipped off his resume in the Voters' Guide - here, let me help correct that in noting that he was the person who held the job BEFORE the person that threw the rest of the party under the bus). And he dumped his party's candidate long before it was cool. He saw the bear trap, did the math, and figured he'd rather be part of the group to save the party after all hell broke loose. Good for him.

But it won't help. Patty Murray has been an incredibly effective Senator, both from the standpoint of representing her state and engaged making the other Washington think about THIS Washington. Coming in as a relatively neophyte (yes, you can get in without a lot of previous experience), she has weathered the various political storms of the other Washington and emerged as a leader in the Democratic caucus. She worked to break the first budgetary gridlock in Congress with the GOP, and will do so in the future. She has earned my vote, and should earn yours as well.

So, Patty Murray. Well, duh.

More later,

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Political Desk: Presidency

To absolutely no one's surprise, I'm with her. Hillary Clinton for President.

However, I have changed my opinion over time. When this thing started, I was sort of "Meh, Hillary". OK, fine,  Hillary. Hillary, if you insist. I'd like a firebrand. Mr. Sanders has that emotional engagement that attracted me. But if it must be Hillary, sure, that'll do.

That's what I thought at the time.

But over the course of the campaign my opinion of her has increased. The presidential campaign is a set of gates, hoops, and tests. Some of them are important. Some of them are revealing. Some of them are damned silly. But over the course of the course of the process, you get a feeling for the candidate, their choices, their support staff, their wisdom, their determination. Almost every time such a test has been offered, she's passed. Hard-fought primaries and caucuses. Smooth and professional convention. Solid, reliable, and likable Veep. Strong performance of the debates. Goofs? Yep. October Surprises? Uh-huh. Deplorable truth-telling? That happens. Yet every time she rises and exceeds.

If Hillary Clinton was in your D&D group, she'd be the one who came prepared. She not only has her own set of books, but dice and extra blank character sheets for those who forgot theirs. She remembers where to find things in the Player's Handbook, and knows what the previous editions rules are. She has a plan for taking down the dragon, depending on its color. She plays 5E rogue because that bad boy is OP, and knows how she would fix it. She will drive the DM crazy.

The worst I can say is that she's a politician. She looks at problems from all sides. She has an organized campaign. She knows when to pivot. When she gets in, she will undoubtedly do things I do not approve of. There will be a lot of holding of the feet to the fire, of gently slapping the administration against the back of the head until they come around. There will be that rugby scrum that is politics. I'm good with that.

And all the folk who have been hating on her for decades? They're not going away. Conservative radio hosts, whose jobs have been imperiled by a rising economy, will have a comeback. Investigations will bloom on everything she does. This will be the most scrutinized administration in history. And I'm good with that as well. Everyone complains about the hypocrisy of the GOP going after the motes in the Dem's eyes while there are literal beams in their own, but the flip side of this is that we expect more from Democrats, and they tend to deliver.

The other guys? After you scrape away all the racism, dogwhistles, insults, thin-skinned tweets, misogyny, and outright abuse from Mr. Trump, there's not a lot there. Woefully unprepared and temperamentally unsuited, his positions are vaporous and shifty. Every test forced upon him has been a disaster - his convention a joke, his debates hip-deep in lies, his vice presidential choice the guy who almost forced GenCon out of Indy. He's the best his party could offer and he's just not very good. And that's BEFORE you add back on all the racism, dogwhistles, insults, thin-skinned tweets, misogny, and outright abuse.

At the gaming table, he's the brat, the loudmouth. Yeah, he can quote Monty Python but he's always shouting lines from the Dead Alewives as loud as he can. And you're really suspicious how he legitimately rolled all his stats at 14+ (Ms. Clinton breaks in here to note that the standard array is a smarter and fairer methodology for character creation).

Which gets us to Mr. Johnson. And you know, I'm going to break tradition and tell you that if his policies sound good to you, go vote for him. He is the most establishment Republican of the major candidates. His politics don't fit with mine - he's that breed of Libertarian that endorses handouts for the wealthy and austerity for the masses. But to be frank, at least he has positions I can reasonably disagree with.

And much is made of his brain-fart over Aleppo, such that "Aleppo moment" takes its place with "Dean Scream" as a way of marginalizing a promising candidate. But what's important is that he admitted fault and went forward. It feels weird to say that admitting you screwed up is a virtue, but there you have it.

At the D&D table, he's the guy whose opnions you disagree with, but who is always there for the game. He's got experience, and if he prefers 2nd Edition but has a homebrew 4th Edition patch he's been noodling around with. He's the solid dwarf fighter.

And then there is Dr. Stein. In D&D terms she's the player that shows up every four years and wonders why everyone else is higher level. I want to like the Greens, but the anti-science end of the spectrum just rubs me the wrong way. I can see how if you were hard-core fans of Mr. Sanders it can appeal with her anti-big-business, but she doesn't have the experience and chops of the Senator from Vermont.

The other guys? Yeah, give them a cruise in the voter's guide. There are TWO Socialist parties in the mix - a Socialist Worker's Party and a Socialism and Liberation Party. Both have candidates with more real political experience than Dr. Stein and Mr. Trump. If you think that the GOP is insufficiently crazy, then you might want to look at the Constitution Party, that hates the UN, the Gold Standard, and the fact they took Gunsmoke off the air. So there are other options here. Who knows, you might find something to your liking before you write in "Mickey Mouse".

I disagree with the comments that if you don't vote for a major candidate, you're helping the OTHER major candidate win. The people who help the OTHER candidate win are those who vote for the OTHER candidate. That's followed by the larger group of those who do not vote at all. I'm good for you guys showing up, and even if you decide that they ALL should go stick their head in a pig, I would rather have you not vote for the President and then vote on the rest of the ballot than not vote at all. I may mock you, but I won't blame you. So go vote.

More later,

The Political Desk: What You Need to Know

What, we're back? I thought I just left this, like, a couple months ago. Look, there isn't even much dust on the keys.

Oh, very well. In Washington State, the massive Voters' Guides have landed and the ballots are en route. As for seasons previously, I will go down my lists, with a healthy warning that I tend to veer to the left. My recommendations from the primary are found earlier in this blog, and will be summarized in this space where appropriate. The results from the primary are here. And I will be honest, one or two of them may change (I know, I'm just trying to build suspense), but this is a starting point.

What ISN'T on the previous postings are the various initiatives that are being put up. There is a healthy crop this year, and they bear some examination.

Now, the big thing is, don't take my word for stuff. Check around. Here are some other people you want to be paying attention to, particularly for the stuff that's not on my particular ballot:

The big thing is the Voter's Guide. The Washington Secretary of State site involves trading information for a personalized version, which ruffles my feathers just a bit, but the King County version listing all candidates for all offices is here and ballot measures is here.

The Seattle Times has moved from conservative to positively centrist in a lot of it outlooks. It still grouses about stuff, but is worth reading and considering.

The Stranger Election Board got down to cases this time and produced a long article on its recommendations, which makes up for some past sins. Still rude and crude and equipped with a ever-deepening bag of invectives to throw at Mr. Trump and initiative maven/favorite pinata Tim Eyman, they get into the weeds on the initiatives and are worth a read.

Voting for Judges concentrates on one thing, and does one thing well - that's the elected judges of Washington State. As noted previously, they do a good job.

The Municipal League of King County rates the candidates on their experience and responses to the a survey. They don't do judges, and that makes them a nice complement to the previous post.

There are others: The Seattlish blog (which includes a few ex-Stranger people) has gone on at length in a lot of races. The Progressive Voters' Guide is here.  Crosscut has weighed in with an overview of the ballot. Others will show up as we go along and I'll add them if they have something to say.

So buckle up, buttercup, and we'll get this show on the road. Remember, I am doing my research and providing my two cents on this, and recommend you check other sources in coming to your own conclusions. I also strongly recommend you vote, regardless of your political persuasions.

More later,

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Play: Classic

A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry, directed by Timothy McCuen Piggee, Seattle Repertory Theatre, through Oct. 30

The Seattle Rep is back in season with a strong, long, classic play of the What-Theatre-Used-to-Be-Like type. Raisin played Broadway in 1959 and changed the demeanor (and skin tone) of American Theatre forever and for the better.

The story is that of the Younger clan, cooped up in a tight apartment on the Chicago South Side. Grandmother Lena (Denise Burse) runs the household, which includes her daughter Beneatha (Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako), her son Walter (Richard Prioleau) and his tired wife Ruth (Mia Ellis)  and their son Travis (Two young actors for this role - Catalino Manalang for our show). Lena's husband has died and Lena is getting the insurance money. What to do with the money? She's unsure, Beneatha, who is studying to be a doctor, says it is her decision, Walter wants the money to buy a liquor store with two streetwise pals.

Walter Lee Travis is the pivot of the play - he's a man-child who has worked all his life and feels this is his last chance to get ahead. He's a chauffeur who originally thought moving in with his folks years ago with his new bride was a temporary thing. They have been been there ever since, their son sleeping on living room sofa, his mother running the roost. Walter's male pride rubs up against everyone in his frustration and desire to give his son a better life. Lena is dubious about his scheme, which he takes it as a personal affront, a lack of faith. He bristles and growls and finally is given his chance.

And he (spoilers) blows it, and a second chance to redeem himself financially, to dig himself out of the hole, involves losing a bit of his soul and his respect. And that is the center of the play.

The part that everyone knows about the play (Lena decides to use part of the insurance money to buy a house in the white suburbs) is secondary, and interacts late in the play as Walter's potential lifeline. It could have been something else and the play's arc could remain intact, but it is stronger and deeper for the question of pressing forward, despite loss, into a brave new world.

The "B-Story" of Beneatha and her two suitors, the assimilated Murchison (Tre Cotten) and the nativist Asagi (Ricardy Charles Fabre), spools out with echoes that are responsive today, Like her elder brother, she is trying to grow up, but she is flighty and unsettled. Even with her resolution at the end of the play, you wonder if she can stick it through.

The actors are great. Prioleau growls, blusters, and mocks as Walter Lee. Beneatha (no punches pulled with that name) is by turns coquettish and serious. Lena is the rock. Ruth is just worn down trying to keep it all together. Charles Legget as Lindner, representing the Clybourne neighborhood association, wanders into all this as the white guy sure that he's the hero of the piece, and is totally befuddled when he's completely wrong.

The play is almost 60 years old, and the question is - does it all hold up? Yeah, moreso than ever. It is about race in a way that is sadly very pertinent today, where an architect in Seattle has trouble cashing her paycheck because she is an African-American woman. The tropes may feel very much like the storyline of a Norman Lear show in the early 70s (when TV started to recognize the African American community as well), and are still accurate for the modern period.

But it is the strength of the writing that pulls all of this together. A couple of years ago, the Rep put on Clybourne Park, which was a prequel/sequel that told the story of the household that sold the property to Lena Travis (first act), and the people who bought it years later (second act). At the time I wondered if it would work for the first act of Clybourne, then Raisin, then the second act of Clybourne. It wouldn't. The strength and natural language of Raisin would overshadow Clybourne Park, revealing it as a shallow thing in comparrison.

Now, the title comes from a poem by Langston Hughes - Harlem, from a larger cycle of poetry. Most people know the opening lines, but few know how it ends, and its pacing parallels that of the play. Go read it here.

And yes, after almost 60 years, it is a play worth remembering, engaging through its three-hour-and- change running time. Check it out.

More later,