Saturday, August 18, 2018


July 30, 2018

Everywhere I go, many people are upset and angry about the brutal, cruel and inhumane immigration policies of the Trump administration.  The latest wave of outrage has focused on individuals and families seeking asylum, refugee status and, safety from brutal and unsafe conditions in their homelands.  The Trump solution has been to forcibly separate children from their parents and jail entire families with virtually no regard for the law or the impacts on these children and their families.
As I reflect on these deliberate abuses by the administration, I want to find hope and inspiration that will encourage people to continue their fights to change these immigration policies. 

So where do I find hope and inspiration?  The extraordinary level of resistance that led to 700+  demonstrations and protests on June 30th alone.  This is unprecedented in our nation’s history of immigration.  The soul of our country is not dead.  It is rising up against these and so many other injustices. It is critically important for people of conscience to use our own history to grasp the significance of our modern-day resistance and find hope and inspiration to keep fighting forward. 

Consider this perspective.  For almost 250 years, it was constitutional and legal for white slavers and slave-owners to rip children away from their unjustly enslaved parents. Children were separated from their parents and sold to separate slave owners. The power of our government and the dominant social mores backed these practices.  Tragically, the outcry of the white population was small and weak for most of this period.  Eventually, African-Americans and people of conscience organized the abolitionist movement and these barbaric slavery practices were wiped out after the Civil War.  How many children and their parents suffered such unfathomable life-changing pain and injustice. Millions of children were torn away from their enslaved parents each year for 250 years. The number boggles my mind and pains my soul.

Our nation was founded by tearing away Native Americans from their land and forcing the survivors on to reservations. White settlers pushed people into smaller and smaller areas and countless Indian people were killed and wounded.  Once the carnage was over and the land taken, the government tore thousands of children away from their parents and forced them into schools where they were cleansed of their heritage and values. Thousands more children were taken. It was not until the 1970s till Native Americans and people of conscience ended these horrific practices.

So where do I find hope and in this current period of injustice and cruelty towards immigrants in America?  As we have seen in the past, I find hope and inspiration that we, the people, have risen nearly a thousand demonstrations and protests in one day. 

It is critical for people of conscience to recognize that the level of resistance to these injustices today dwarfs the resistance for most of the 250+ years of slavery and the conquest and dispossession of our Native American brothers and sisters.

Our own history can give us hope and inspiration that we can prevail over injustice and create a more just and humane future.  We can do this if we find hope and inspiration in our own acts of justice and compassion and inspire others to take action as well.  Despair is our enemy.  Hope is our ally.  We can bring hope to our friends, families, communities, and unions and inspire them to act.
Do you agree?  Is this perspective helpful to you and those you love?  Let’s us know.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Gridlock in Olympia?

Divided government again seems to be the outcome of yesterday's election in Washington State.

There were no surprises in Washington State Senate races. The Democrats picked up one seat and the Republicans another. Still at a Republican majority of 26-23.

The shocker was the State House of Representatives. The House's Democrats well-oiled machine was expected to lose few if any seats. But based on last night's count, Republicans may have picked up 4 seats taking the Democratic advantage down to a few votes.

However, only half the votes are in and a total of 6 seats are within striking distance for either party.   Two are very close. Rep. Larry Seaquist (Bremerton) trails Republican Michelle Caldier by only 78 votes.  In the 28th district, Democratic newcomer Christine Kilduff (University Place) trails Republican Paul Wagemann by a mere 69 votes.  Three Democratic districts are also in play. Kathy Haigh (Shelton) leads by 423 votes, Monica Stonier (Vancouver) trails by 526 votes. and Dawn Morrell (Puyallup) trails by 1,300 votes. The only Republican seat in play could be the open seat in the 41st districts where Democrat Mike Wilson trails Mark Harnsworth by 728 votes.

So what is the bottom line?  House Democrats will hold somewhere between 56 seats and a tie. Most likely outcome?  51-47.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Washington State Elections - the Battle for the State Senate

The 2014 election in Washington State is simply about control of the Washington State Senate. The Governor is not up for reelection and House Democrats appear firmly in control.  The State Senate is close. The are currently 23 Democrats and 26 members in the Republican Majority Coalition.

The Belleveue/Redmond 48th District of retiring Republican Majority Coalition leader Rodney Tom is almost certain to turn Democratic with Democratic Rep. Cyrus Habib winning 2/3 of the vote in the primary with no serious opposition in the general from the Republican candidate. That takes the count to 24D - 25R. 

To determine which of the remaining races are in play, simply follow the money. The money is being spent in 5 one million dollar plus races: 

  • In the 35th district, incumbent and Majority Coalition member Tim Sheldon nearly lost in the primary to a Republican Travis Coture.  However, Sheldon is likely to pick up most of the Republican votes in the general. In this near $1,000,000 race, Sheldon has raised nearly a half a million million compared to Democrat Irene Bowling's $300,000. 

  • With the retirement of Democratic leader Tracey Eide, former seven term Democratic legislator Mark Miloscia has switched parties and is running as a Republican against Democrat Shari Song in the Federal Way 30th district. Miloscia is said to have door-belled every residence in the district at least five times  This is yet another million dollar race with Song and Miloscia nearly tied in fundraising.  Miloscia got nearly 60% o the vote in the primary. 

  • In the Lakewood/University place 28th district, Republican Senator Steve O'Ban is being challenged by Rep. Tammi Green. O'Ban was appointed to the position in 2013 after serving in the house for one year. Rep. Green has served 5 terms in the House.  O'Ban has outraised Green two to one with $730,000 in contributions at this point. While, O'Ban got 56% of the vote in the primary, Tammi Green has mounted a credible but late campaign. 

  • Up in Whatcom County, Incumbent Republican Doug Ericksen has pulled in over a half a million dollars against Democratic challenger Seth Fleetwood.  Erickson got 57% in the primary. 

  • Finally, in the Kirland/Eastside 45th district candidates have raised well over $1,500,000. Incumbent Andy Hill has raised the most of any candidate spending well over a million dollars compared to Matt Isenhower's $500,000 - which is also the top dollar amount raised by a Democrat.  Hill got nearly 54% in the primary. 

Republicans have out spent democrats by over a million dollars in these 5 races and it looks like they will win all five races. With the Rodney Tom seat switching to the Democrats, odds are that the Senate will remain 26 R and 23D.  What does this mean for Washington State?  It has something to do with climate change and K12 education funding.

Friday, April 25, 2014

A Region Without Social Capital

This morning's paper was filled with depressing news.  Our Metro Transit services is facing dramatic cuts due to the voters rejection of Proposition 1 on Tuesday. Washington schools are sending out notices to parents that their schools are failing due to the failure of the legislature to come to agreement on teacher performance standards.The key word here is failure. We have bickered and failed to come to agreement on everything from mass transit to school, arena and state roads and highway funding.

The Seattle Metro region ranks is one of the most economically vibrant and resilient metro areas in the country ranking 5th in the nation according to the Institute of Government Studies at the U.C. Berkeley. We also rank 8th in the nation in business environment.  But when it comes to community connectivity (you might call this term social capital) we rank 205th in the nation. When it comes to income equality we rank 105th in the nation.

The bottom line is that the Seattle Region lacks the glue that brings people together. We lack the social capital to get things done.  Our business community lacks the interest in solving big regional problems. Pollsters tell us that we are the most anti-tax blue state in the country. Perhaps much of this has to do with the fact that we are a in-migration state. People come here from elsewhere bringing their education with them and maybe just don't feel invested in our education and governmental institutions. Maybe we are just a bunch of know-it-alls who think we are the only ones with the real answers.

Whatever the cause, I think the real problem is trust.  Our citizens lack both trust in government and in each other. This is a serious and expensive problem. Failure to make long term investments will hurt all of us.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Future is So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

We have been facing two powerful and counteracting economic forces in the last couple of months.  The negative force has been the cuts in government spending resulting from sequestration, the end of the stimulus funds and cuts in state and local government budgets.  This has been accompanied the expiration of the payroll tax cut in January.  The payroll tax increase is a powerful negative stimulus since the gains from the tax cut mostly went to high spending low and middle income families.

The counter-acting force has been a revival of the animal spirits of capitalism.  Business confidence has shot upward and firms have begun to increase investment and hiring after four years of stagnation. This may have started out as the result of pent-up demand in household formation, inventories and aging equipment.  But the good news is that these forces have revived the animal spirits of capitalists.  Companies who were sitting on cash waiting for more certainty in the future, seem to believe that the future is bright.

Right now, the more powerful force is the animal spirits.   The media will take a long time to adjust to reporting good economic news.  The economic story has been bad economic news for so long, analysts will have trouble making the shift to a different mentality.  But eventually, the conventional wisdom will shift and the recovery may actually begin to accelerate. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Short Run and the Long Run

One of the biggest points of confusion in the deficit debate is the long run versus the short run.  In the long run we have an entitlement driven budget problem that is solvable but politically problematic. In the short run we have a inadequate effective demand problem is that is related to both tax increases (the payroll taxes) and the animal spirits of consumers and investors (which is resulting in weak spending). 

Most analysts want it one way or another.  Conservatives want to deny the stimulus problem and focus on shrinking government. This is not a surprise, a small government has always been their goal. Many liberals believe the entitlement problem is something that we should ignore for now and would instead focus on job creation. 

Obama has it right in his budget proposal.  Stimulate demand now with infrastructure investments that bolster the long-run economy.  But at the same time, agree to future long-term cuts to entitlements. This has the effective of calming markets and perhaps stimulating the animal spirits of capitalists allowing in an additional increase in investment.