KEXP “Eat the Airwaves” Program Notes, April 6, 2013
Kitchen Notes: Previous ETA program notes are archived below, under “Columns.” Also, due to the new paywall, we are no longer linking to Seattle Times stories in our notes.
This week’s show is archived at http://www.hotpotatomedia.com/eta/040613et.mp3. Each week, you can listen to Eat the Airwaves live, from 8:30-9:00 AM Saturdays on KEXP 90.3 FM Seattle, or at http://kexp.org,
State Senate Republicans announce awful budget proposal
Hanford tanks might explode
Seattle school test boycotters declare victory
A bad fortnight for proponents of Northwest coal trains and coal export schemes
Metro announces route cancellations if car tab revenue expires this summer
The Return (with a vengeance) of the Alternate Universe!
North Carolina tries to declare a state religion…
…And to make it as hard as possible for college students to vote
Tennessee targets Islamic schools for state discrimination
South Carolina revives Mark Sanford
Virginia defends its (unconstitutional) anti-sodomy law
Outreach to Latinos, Republican style
RNC Chair claims Planned Parenthood advocates infanticide
GA city passes law requiring gun ownership
But new study shows just how stupid that is
Counter-protesters drown out Klan rally in Memphis
NOAA scientists: US drought will be even worse in 2013
Afghanistan bombing kills 55
And Iraq bombing kills 20
State Senate Republicans released their 2013-15 budget plan this week, and it sucks big time. The proposal refuses to even consider raising any new revenue for state revenues already stripped beyond the bone by several years in a row of no-new-taxes budgets (a cause former Democratic governor Christine Gregoire consistently advocated). Instead, it decimates a number of critical social and safety net programs – food, housing, and assistance to the poor, for starters – and bears a striking resemblence to Rob McKenna’s budget proposals during last year’s governor’s race – proposals that, it so happens, voters rejected emphatically.
Somehow, that fits. Voters rejected Republican control of the state senate last November, too, and yet here they are, controlling the state senate and setting a baseline for negotiations with the house and new governor Jay Inslee (both of whom strongly advocate new revenue). As a reflection of their deep commitment to listen to their constituents, Republicans (with their two token “Democrats” on board so as to claim the farce of a “bipartisan” proposal) released their thick budget document only three weeks before the end of the session, at noon Wednesday – and then held their public hearing on it at 3 PM the same day, before anybody could possibly have read through it in detail.
Now that people have read through it, one Olympia lobbyist I talked to described the different parties’ Senate and House budget proposals as “not miles, but continents, apart,” saw no way they could be reconciled in the remaining three weeks before the end of the regular session, and guaranteed at least one special session. Nonetheless, the Republican-controlled Senate’s vision of Mississippi Of The Northwest is going to play a major role in the final state budget for the next two years. An enormous wave of public pressure on lawmakers to pass a budget that actually reflects what voters voted for six months ago might help. It certainly couldn’t hurt.
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In a rather alarming development curiously ignored by local Seattle media, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety reported to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, that hydrogen gas in underground tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation pose a significant risk of exploding,
The tanks, which contain a timelessly toxic stew of radioactive waste, are among the most contaminated parts of the Western Hemisphere’s most contaminated nuclear facility, and some sit only yards away from the Columbia River, with millions of people (especially in the Portland-Vancouver WA metro area) and a significant part of the Pacific Northwest’s economy directly downstream, and prevailing winds frequently carrying any airborne release through the Palouse and over the Spokane area.
The report, in advance of Senate confirmation hearings next week for newly nominated Energy Secretary Ernest Munoz, also noted the six leaking radioactive tanks announced last month and the extensive delays in building a long-planned waste treatment plant at Hanford. Currently, about a third of the Department of Energy’s national $2 billion budget for nuclear cleanup goes to Hanford – and it’s not nearly what’s needed. Yes, it’s that bad. And with the Tri-Cities as an immediate neighbor, Spokane downwind, and the over two million people of metropolitan Portland downstream, it’s simply astonishing that so little media attention gets paid to the comedy of errors that the cleanup effort has frequently become.
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The boycott launched this winter by Garfield High School teachers and teachers at a number of other Seattle public schools of the infamous standardized MAP test is over, and boycotters have declared victory. The district has announced that it will not punish the boycotters, and in an elaborate face-saving move, is claiming that nobody actually refused to administer the tests, since the districts sent in administrators to oversee them instead. The district also announced it would ease requirements for the spring round of the tests, given to students three times a year.
Meanwhile, new district superintendent Jose Banda has already learned the Seattle Way, announcing that he will convene a task force (of course) in response to the boycott. It will review the utility and administration of each of the plethora of standardized tests the district uses. Who is on the committee, and whether it actually includes or listens to test critics, is yet to be seen. So far, the district has not officially responded to any of the teachers’ numerous specific criticisms of the MAP.
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The invaluable environmental group Sightline has a detailed rundown here of the many ways the last couple of weeks have been a very bad time for the Pacific Northwest’s would-be coal exporters. Among the highlights: the last bidder pulling out of a massive coal export project slated for Coos Bay, Oregon; a report on the enormous rail and transport problems current coal train proposals face given the region’s limited rail capacity; and the Sierra Club filing notice that it is suing Burlington Santa Fe Railroad and several coal companies for numerous egregious violations of the Clean Water Act. Meanwhile, the agencies overseeing the Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point in Skagit County released a summary of the 14,000 or so uniformly critical public comments they received – demonstrating, once again, just how broad and well-organized local and regional opponents of coal trains and coal export schemes are. And they’re winning.
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On Monday, Metro sent to King County Council its list of the 65 bus routes at risk of being cancelled, and an additional 85 facing service cuts, if its current two-year car tab fee extension expires as is now scheduled this summer. The 17 percent budget cut would devastate city and county bus service at exactly the time when bus and public transit ridership is at record levels and needs more, not less, funding. That state lawmakers – now dominated by a screw-Seattle mentality – appear, with three weeks left in the regular Olympia session, perfectly willing to let the funding expire shows once again how completely fucked up our politics, and more specifically how we fund public transit, really is.
The Alternate Universe is back! Actually, the bizarre pseudo-reality inhabited by the nation’s crazier Republicans (i.e., most of them) never went away – despite the recent pious reform pronouncements of national party leaders promising a more inclusive, less wingnutty electoral product. Since the election, we’ve tried hard to ignore the routinely bizarre or moronic antics of the farther and farther right. But this week so much truly dangerous Crazee came screaming out of the Tea Party Bubble that it must be acknowledged, and the media fascination with Republican leaders conducting a “sober assessment” of why everyone hates them has to be called for the bullshit it is. At the federal, state, and local level. Republicans themselves are reacting to their losses in November not by reforming, but by doubling down on the crazee and stupid. Just this week, consider:
The Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature is considering a bill to name a state religion. Thank goodness citizens there are (presumably) protected from Sharia law, eh? Such a designation would be utterly unconstitutional, of course, but, according to bill sponsors, not to worry – it would be totally legal, because they claim the federal constitution only applies to federal laws. Thus, presumably, the state could also reintroduce slavery, ban freedom of speech, and rescind women’s right to vote. Yup.
They’re already trying to rescind plenty of other people’s right to vote. The same legislature is also expected to pass a Republican-sponsored bill that, according even to its sponsors, is the nation’s most brazen attempt yet to suppress Democratic-leaning voters. The bill particularly targets college students, who are allowed by federal law to vote either at their permanent address (e.g., their parents’ home) or at their school. But since federal law apparently no longer applies in North Carolina, the bill would require students to keep their car registration in the same location as their voter registration – or else their voter registration is invalid – and, most importantly, prevents students who register at their school address from being claimed as dependents by their parents on state income tax returns. Since many students need parental support to pay for college, and that measure would often cost parents thousands of dollars, it means students would have to register both their cards and their voting at their home address – where they’re not at most of the year, including in the first week of November. The bill’s lead sponsor said his measure was inspired by student turnout in November swinging a close local election the “wrong” way. Seriously.
And speaking of Sharia Law, the reliably nutso legislature in Tennessee is scrambling to amend a school voucher program after some walking brain stem realized that Islamic schools, like any other religious schools, could qualify. The plan now: specifically bar Islamic schools from eligibility.
To the south, voters in North Carolina’s less sane neighbor, South Carolina, elected Mark Sanford as the Republican nominee to fill a vacated Congressional seat. You remember Sanford – the misogynist two-term “family values” governor, and rumored-at-one-point presidential candidate, who had to resign in disgrace in 2008 after his month-long vacation (on the taxpayers’ dime) to “hike the Appalachian Trail” became a national punchline when it turned out he was actually cavorting with his Argentinian mistress. He’s back, she’s now his wife (and is running his campaign), and he’s all Christian and forgiven and shit, and also as unapologetically misogynist and racist as ever. Oh, and the Democratic nominee? Stephen Colbert’s sister. That is going to be a fascinating race.
North of North Carolina, of course, there’s Virginia, where Republican Attorney General and reactionary gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli made headlines this week by formally appealing the federal court decision that struck down Virginia’s anti-sodomy law. Mind you, anti-sodomy laws were thrown out by the US Supreme Court years ago in its Lawrence decision, but since Virginia’s a long ways from Washington DC perhaps word hasn’t arrived. Or perhaps the federal constitution doesn’t apply in Virginia, either. (Question for the Teahadists: who was it that won the Civil War, again?) The irony is that while Cuccinelli is posturing for his election in order to appeal to the homophobe vote and Teh Menace of Teh Gays, the case being appealed involved the prosecution of a straight guy for soliciting oral sex from a woman. (Even more ironically, the sex involved never actually took place.) If Cuccinelli’s most enthusiastic fans ever seriously thought – we could end the sentence there, couldn’t we? – if Cuccinelli’s most enthusiastic fans ever seriously thought they’d be the target of a law outlawing that – let alone a law that would target them simply for wanting that – they’d turn on him in a nanosecond. Or less.
But wait, there’s more, and why pick only on the Confederacy? Republican Don Young, Alaska’s long-time congressional stegosaurus, got in trouble this week for an interview with a Ketchikan radio station in which he reminisced fondly about growing up on his father’s ranch back in the day amid all the wetbacks – Young’s word – that worked there. Another Republican Congressman, North Carolina’s Pat McCrory, also demonstrated that fine new Republican outreach to Latino voters we’re hearing so much about by closing his Office of Latino Affairs, claiming it was “unnecessary.”
And it’s not just obscure state legislators or Congressmen getting into the act. Republican National Committee chair Reince “Anagram” Priebus undercut his own rebranding effort by publishing a piece in Tea Party-friendly RedState.com, arguing – apparently with a straight face – that The Media was covering up the “fact” that Planned Parenthood, and the Democrats that back it, advocate infanticide. Apparently, under Tea Party science, 10-week fetuses are newborns.
They Want To Believe. Or, to cite another X-Files meme, The Anti-Truth Is [Still] Out There.
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Another Alternate Universe edition of As The Stupid Burns erupted in Nelson, Georgia, an exurban town north of Atlanta, where the city council made Nelson the country’s first municipality to have an ordinance requiring gun ownership of every household. Ironically – or appropriately, given Wingnuttistan’s general contempt for facts and science and reality and stuff – a new study came out this week from the Center for American Progress that once again showed a strong correlation between lax state gun control laws and increased gun violence, and between strong gun control laws and the states with the least such violence. This sounds like common sense, but it’s exactly the opposite of the widely-believed-to-be-credulous NRA propaganda that gun ownership prevents crime and reduces gun violence. The facts continue to say otherwise: more guns = more gun violence. Duh.
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On the other hand, 45 years to the week after MLK’s assassination, and in reaction to the Memphis City Council finally getting around to renaming three city parks previously named after the Confederacy and its heroes – including the founder of the KKK – the Klan tried to mount a rally in Memphis last weekend intended to protest the vote. It didn’t exactly go as planned. Klan members, heavily protected by Memphis police, were outnumbered at least 30-1 by counter-demonstrators. The Klan estimated they’d draw 2,000 of their hooded brethren. They got about 75, while thousands of counter-demonstrators mocked them and demonstrated what the 21st Century looks like. Even in Memphis.
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Back in the world of science and reality and stuff, NOAA scientists this week issued a grim forecast that this year, once again, much of the nation will continue to face a severe drought – and, in fact, for most of the country, it will be even worse than in 2011 and 2012. Even before spring and summer, over half the country was immersed in drought in February. Climatologists are now comparing the current multi-year drought – basically, to one extent or another, happening everywhere but the Northwest – to 1930s Dust Bowl levels. They put the chance of rainfall sufficient to alleviate the drought at 20 percent or less. Oh, and it’ll be hot again this year, too.
But what do climatologists know? I’ll bet they believe in climate change and shit, too.
And because of the Republican-inspired Sequester, the National Forest Service will have 500 fewer firefighers this year. That should work out well.
In the war that Americans forgot at least 54 people were killed in Afghanistan, and more than 90 wounded, in a Taliban attack Wednesday on a trial of accused Taliban fighters in a compound in the country’s relatively peaceful west, near Herat. The bombing reporting involved a sobering nine suicide bombers – and, according to the Taliban, succeeded in freeing their imprisoned comrades, too.
Attacks like this are not an argument for the American military to stay in that country – quite the opposite. They’re still more evidence that the extremely corrupt Karzai government, installed and for over a decade now propped up by the US, has no legitimacy. None. An attack that size can’t be planned and carried out – in a relatively tranquil party of the country, no less – in secrecy unless a lot of people are willing to look the other way. Those aren’t necessarily Taliban supporters, but they don’t care about the Karzai government, either. That’s someone else’s fight – Washington’s – and it’s one the US cannot win, whether we stay there for a century or, more sensibly, leave tomorrow.
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And in the other war Americans forgot, at least 20 people died today in a suicide bombing at a political rally in the Iraqi city of Baquoba. Just because American fighters have left Iraq doesn’t mean the US military has – nor does it mean the war there has ended. Just like Afghanistan, an increasingly authoritarian and corrupt leader and governmental system installed by the US and favoring one sector of a multi-religious, multi-ethnic country is viewed as illegitimate by many in the country. In the case of Iraq, the Baquora bombing comes in the wake of a rash of such bombings in March that mark an upsurge in violence – one most Americans aren’t even aware of, let alone feel any responsibility for setting in motion. Something to remember as war hawks continue to call for yet more aggressive American military actions in Syria and Iran.
Wed. Apr. 10-Sat. Apr. 13: 14th Annual White Privilege Conference and Youth Action Project. Double Tree by Hilton SeaTac Airport, info and details at http://whiteprivilegeconference.com
Wed. Apr. 10, 3-6 PM. Rally to demand a just and humane immigration reform. Sponsored by El Comite (the same folks who organize the annual Seattle May 1 immigrant march). Federal Building, 915 2nd Ave. at Madison, downtown Seattle.