Getting to Know Seattle: Town Hall

Town Hall is Seattle’s arts and lecture series; many communities have them. On Sunday evening I went to hear speakers from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.

My greatest fear, especially if Republicans hold both houses of Congress in November, is that the exhausted middle will simply lose hope and turn away from the carnage of the Trump administration. A recent look at the tribalism in American politics tells the story: about 25% of voters are in strong opposition to Trump and his followers. Twelve percent of voters are Trump’s base, the ones who show up at his rallies and sneer and bray and laugh as he mocks women who’ve been sexually assaulted, mimics journalists with handicapping conditions, demonizes he desperate people from Central American trying to reach our border to claim refugee status, and targets journalists for abuse. Another 14% are more traditional conservatives who dislike Trump’s persona but like tax cuts and race-bashing and his agenda of making America white again.

Another almost 25% of voters are detached from the political process and probably don’t vote.

The remaining cohort is up for grabs.

We aren’t the 50-50 divided country that is sometimes portrayed in political dialogue.

Our biggest enemy is the large cluster of people who are apathetic and don’t weigh in.

The zeal of the Trump voters has to be matched in some way by people who are repelled by the ugliness of where he is taking the country.

The passion of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas kids is impressive. They are trying not only for gun control legislation, but to rebuild the culture of voting among the young people of our country. They threw in a plug for civic education in public schools as well. Will they stay the course, even as our democracy continues to turn bitter and sour and fraught? We don’t know, do we?

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2018/10/18/five_tribes_of_american_voters_138390.html

Donor Lunch with Senator Patty Murray

I give to Democratic candidates and office-holders at a level that gets me invites to things like a small group lunch with Washington’s Senator Patty Murray. These events are tightly scripted and last no more than 45 minutes to an hour — the Senator’s staff keeps her on schedule — but there are opportunities to ask a question and hear the Senator respond.

We covered much ground, and I came away with a lot of feelings — sobering ones. Things really are as bad in Washington D.C. as we fear. Totally aside from Trump’s pot-stirring tweets, his lies and demonization of huge swathes of the country, his cabinet appointees like Betsy deVos, Ben Carson, and Jeff Sessions are radically reshaping the missions of the departments they lead. Mitch McConnells’ singular focus is stacking the federal judiciary with as many Federalist Society approved hard right judges as he can. Senator Murray said that for all of her time in the Senate, she and her counterpart in the Senate from Washington — early on, Republican Slade Gordon and more recently, Democrat Maria Cantwell — the two Senators agreed on a bipartisan commission that would recommend exceptionally qualified judges from a variety of perspectives. The two Senators would work together to have those judges elevated to the federal bench. The Trump administration has thrown all of that out, and Senators are simply told who is coming to fill openings in their state — all deeply conservative judges, mostly white men, schooled and supported by Koch-funded Federalist Society money. Damage to the credibility of the court system is one of the most destructive elements of the nearly two years that Trump has been in office. With a Democratic Senate takeover unlikely, the damage to our justice system will continue unabated.

As Justice Kagan recently said, the viability of the court system rests on all of us accepting that the process is fair, and agreeing to abide by legal rulings whether or not we agree with them. Once the majority begins to feel that the process is rigged, that key institution in our democracy falls apart.

Trump voters are not the majority.

Patty Murray said she honestly believes our country is better than what we’ve been since Trump burst upon the national scene. The November election will tell the tale.

Getting to Know Seattle: Favorite Fall Pic

Here are the fall color pics I’ve posted over the last week or so in and around Seattle, many at nearby Green Lake. Do you have a favorite? I’ve given each pic a brief handle, so you can call out the one you like best. I think my favorite is the blue heron — not entirely a fall pic, as the heron is around all the time. But the dark heron caught in shadow against the brilliant reflection of the lake seems fall-ish to me. I think Riotous Red is pretty great too. And I love the reflection in the water of Panorama.

Blended color.

Panorama.

Blue heron.

Small gem.

Riotous red.

Getting to Know Seattle: High Tech Small Space

In cities like Seattle where urban space commands a premium, apartment/condo units are getting smaller — although you can hardly call them affordable. In high end units, the lack of private space is offset by large and welcoming common spaces: club rooms with fireplaces and gourmet kitchens, roof decks, bike storage rooms, workout rooms, sometimes movie/large screen tv rooms, temperature controlled wine storage rooms.

In less elite buildings, you just get your tiny space and good luck figuring out where to hang your bike or store that oversized baking dish.

You’ve probably heard of free-standing tiny homes, where design is paramount so that every interior space gets optimally used. A new Seattle building adds state of the art technology to a 500 or so square foot apartment so that instead of static design as you’d find in a tiny home, things — like your bed — move  up to the ceiling when not in use. Ditto for storage, where items are scanned as you put them away. Haven’t used that tennis racket in awhile, after you put it in the box coded as “sports equipment”? Your smart home system can ping you to ask, “Do you still want to keep the tennis racket?”

Look at all the stuff around your house, and imagine having it categorized, logged in electronically, and then stored out of sight in attractive containers that hug the ceiling and only come down when you need or want something in them. And no more hunting in drawers and on shelves for that item. Your home’s smart system knows which container you need, and gives you access.

“In the Seattle apartment, which measures just 514 square feet, the bed and storage mechanisms have been mounted in what would be considered the apartment’s living room. White in color like the ceiling and walls, they practically disappear along the 9-foot ceilings. An iPad mounted on the wall nearby serves as the nerve center, and takes information from garage-door-like depth sensors mounted high on walls facing the living room.

Activating the proper display on the touch screen turns on lights around the perimeter of the bed. The sensors make sure no one is standing beneath it — if they are it won’t lower — and soon the bed begins to come down, supported by seat-belt-type straps at each corner. In about 10 seconds, there is a queen-size bed, with comforter and pillows, sitting on the rug where there had been nothing. Push the button again, and the bed rather quietly rises back overhead.”

https://www.geekwire.com/2018/tiny-seattle-apartment-bed-ceiling-thats-part-makes-smart-home/

I have visions of a chip malfunction that would have the bed rise to the ceiling with me in it, sound asleep. 🙂

I also have to say that in my scaled-down form, I find the stuff around me comforting and homey. I’m not sure I’d want it out of sight above me, tantalizingly out of reach.

What do you think of this concept? Attractive, or far too organized for words? That’s assuming, of course, that you’re the kind of person who’d be drawn to live in 514 square feet in the first place.

The Business of Trump is Fraud

I don’t think it’s any surprise to anyone that the core competency of the Trump Organization is fraud. The ongoing puzzle to me is why that’s attractive to 40+ % of American voters.

This is a really good article that explains concisely and in plain English just what the fraud is. Should it be of interest to the Justice Department? Absolutely. Will it be, under a Trump appointee? Absolutely not.

Here’s a paragraph that will give you an idea what we’re talking about.

The reporters—Heather Vogell and Peter Elkind of ProPublica, and Andrea Bernstein and Meg Cramer of WNYC—identified a similar pattern that occurred in deals around the world. The basic scheme worked like this: some local developer in Panama, the Dominican Republic, Florida, Canada, or some other location pays Trump, up front, for the use of his name and agrees to pay him a cut of every sale—not only of units but of things like hotel-room minibar items or, even, bathrobes. These projects typically require sixty per cent or more of units to be sold before construction gets under way. The same set of problems occurred in multiple projects. Many of the early units would be sold to shadow buyers—hidden behind shell companies. Donald Trump or, often, Ivanka Trump would deceive future investors by telling them that a much higher percentage of units had been sold than was factual. More investors pour money in, getting enough money into the project, often, to begin construction. Eventually, the project fails and goes bankrupt. Many of those investors lose all of their money. But the Trumps do not. They got paid up front and are paid continuously throughout until the day the project collapses. They are paid for their name and for overseeing the project, and, if the building is opened, the Trumps manage the property day to day, in exchange for hefty fees.”

https://www.newyorker.com/news/swamp-chronicles/is-fraud-part-of-the-trump-organizations-business-model?mbid=nl_Daily%20101818&CNDID=27072783&utm_source=Silverpop&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20101818&utm_content=&spMailingID=14457406&spUserID=MTMzMTgyODA4NjY1S0&spJobID=1501430193&spReportId=MTUwMTQzMDE5MwS2

Elizabeth Warren’s DNA

Neither Democratic candidates nor journalists have yet figured out how to counter Trump the Fabulist, who says whatever comes into his head and has a keen instinct for what kind of insults will rev up his base. Facts don’t matter, because the truth of what Trump says — always elusive — isn’t the message. The message is that he can mock, humiliate, savage, without consequence. That talent is apparently what his followers admire, and wish they knew how to do.

Trump has mocked Elizabeth Warren by calling her Pocahontas, and Warren has recently responded by releasing DNA information strongly suggestive of Native American heritage. That isn’t going to matter to Trump, who continued the birther business about President Obama long after the actual birth certificate was released. He’s going to continue to call Warren Pocahontas too.

What Warren now needs to do is go after a specific part of Trump’s mockery, in which he vowed to send a million dollars to charity if in fact Warren has Native American heritage. Trump is notoriously cheap. Anyone who has paid $1 in federal income taxes, given $1 to charity or put a dollar bill in a church collection basket has done more than Trump. Warren needs to go after that, to hammer the point that Trump promised a million bucks but is too cheap to come through with it. She also might start calling him Don the Con, because the name certainly fits.

I don’t think we have to stoop to Trump’s level — indeed that would be hard to do. Most people have some sense of shame. But we do have to figure out how to stop the ugliness that Trump spouts on a daily basis in its tracks. Don the Con. Too cheap to come through. I think it might work.