Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Who will represent the 4th Congressional District in 2023?

Dan Newhouse currently represents Washington's 4th Congressional District. He is running for re-election in 2022. There are, at last count 5 Republican, and one Democratic candidate, who have filed to run against him. 

The 2022 Election will be upon us before the U.S. Supreme Court has a chance to rule that the recently imposed voter suppression measures enacted by 27 state Republican legislatures, are just fine and dandy.

Fortunately, those measures will not be applicable in Washington State, because our legislature is not afraid to let its citizens vote, i.e., it's not ruled by Republicans. Well, not as a whole, but certainly Eastern Washington is by and large a Republican stronghold.

The 4th Congressional District runs up and down the center of Eastern Washington from Kennewick at the Oregon border to Oroville at the Canadian border. It encompasses the counties of Douglas, Okanogan, Grant, Yakima, Franklin, Benton, and Adams, and part of Walla Walla County (CD4 will lose its small part of Walla Walla, and part of Franklin, not including Pasco, and pick up Klickitat in the redistricting). The population is centered in Benton and Franklin counties in south eastern Washington. The largest urban areas are Yakima, and the Tri-Cities (Kennewick, Richland, and Pasco). The 4th CD is considered "predominantly rural," and is the most Republican district in the Pacific States. A Democrat hasn't been elected to this seat for over a quarter of a century.

What makes the 2022 Election more interesting than the previous 14 in which Republicans were elected by wide margins, is former President Donald Trump's "revenge rallies." Trump has targeted incumbent Republicans that considered seditious insurrection unacceptable, and voted to impeach him. Rep. Dan Newhouse, in a fit of rare moral rectitude, joined with those "disloyal" legislators. 

Newhouse votes to impeach President Donald Trump

Bowing to their Commander-in-Cheat, whose anger knew no bounds (as did much of his behavior), the chairmen of six GOP Republican Committees (Adams, Benton, Douglas, Franklin, Grant, and Yakima) wrote Newhouse a letter (and shared it publicly) calling for him to resign. He declined, saying basically, I followed my conscience; I hope you'll forgive me.

Newhouse Declines to Resign

The Benton County Republican Party censured Dan (having narrowly defeated a vote to boot him from the Party entirely). In his place they endorsed state Representative Brad Klippert, of whom the Tri-Cities Herald (not known as a liberal clarion) has written disparagingly, including that he co-sponsored a "harebrained scheme" to divide Washington into two states, with the Eastern half named "Liberty." I wrote about Klippert's "Guns, God, and Country" (emphasis on guns) platform on a previous post.

There are four other Republican candidates running for Newhouse's seat in addition to Klippert: Loren Culp, Benancio Garcia III, Cory Gibson, and Jerrod Sessler. The lone Democrat running is Doug White.

Perhaps in order to punish Washington State, which went for Biden in the 2020 Election, Trump endorsed Loren Culp for Congress to replace Newhouse. This was very disappointing to Jerrod Sessler, who did everything but adopt Eric to get Daddy's endorsement. Let's take a look at the top Republican contenders; Culp, Klippert, and Sessler.

LOREN CULP

Culp was the police chief, and as it happens, the sole member of the "force" of Republic, a city of about 1,062, that lies about 30 miles from the border with Canada. Culp lost that job when Republic agreed to get its law enforcement services from the Ferry County Sheriff's office.

Loren Culp, Republic Police Chief

Culp gained a measure of fame throughout the state when he announced he would refuse to enforce laws stemming from the passage of Initiative 1639, which increased the age to purchase a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21, and expanded background check requirements. Culp said he would designate Republic a "2nd Amendment Sanctuary City." Culp's outspoken opposition to I-1639 was very popular with Washington's rural counties, especially those in the 4th CD, which voted overwhelmingly against the Initiative.

Culp translated his new-found fame into a run for governor, beating out a crowded Republican primary field in 2020 to challenge Governor Jay Inslee. Culp lost that bid by well over a half million votes and, channeling Donald Trump, promptly sued claiming fraud. His lawyer withdrew the suit “with prejudice,” meaning it cannot be refiled. Now Culp, who still lives in Republic, has filed to run against Newhouse. Federal laws do not require congressional candidates to live in the district they are running for; they only need to live in the same state.

Although Culp lost the 2020 governor's race to Inslee by a lot, he won 27 of the state's 39 counties, pulling in close to 1.75 million votes. In the 4th Congressional District, Culp beat Inslee handily, 62% to 38%; about the same margin as most races in the district go.

If Culp and Newhouse make it through the top-two primary, data suggest Culp would give Newhouse a run for his money (pun intended). Newhouse drew 200,033 votes in his 2020 Election victory for representative. Culp drew 196,371 in his race against Inslee in the same election. But if money buys elections (and it almost always, it does), then Newhouse should be a shoe-in. As FEC records show, Dan Newhouse has received more money than all other candidates combined, and has close to three time as much cash on hand (see Table 1).

In addition to Culp's money disadvantage, questions about his campaign spending dogged him after the election. Culp had the campaign, i.e., his contributors, pay him for lost wages, pay his wife as a consultant, and "field representative," pay him for mileage, and pay a high-priced political consultant, and an even higher-priced "digital consultant" that had no prior campaign history in the PDC database. Culp's campaign consultant continued to grift the campaign after the fact by engaging with contributors over the aforementioned  frivolous law suit against the Washington Secretary of State over allegations of fraud.

Table 1. FEC Totals as of: 03/08/2022
 

Loren Culp's issues trumpet most of the talking points the GOP has mucked out of the barn since Joe Biden's election:

  • Election integrity (aka, the election was stolen)
  • Critical Race Theory (aka, they're indoctrinating our kids)
  • No "jab mandate" (aka, anti-vax, plus anti Medicare4All)
  • Border security (aka, "build the wall")
  • Fiscal responsibility (aka, reinstate the Trump tax cut)
  • Energy independence (aka, "drill baby drill," plus withdraw from Paris Climate Accord)
  • Constitutional Government (aka, "America First")

In addition, Culp weaves an anti-globalist message through his talking points, including a call to "level the playing field" by rolling back government subsidies for farmers. Culp claims this will free the farmers from government "bondage." Culp may have some explaining to do on this, since the record subsidies farmers received ($51.2 billion according to Reuters) up to the 2020 Election were what carried farmers through Trump's failed trade war with China.

BRAD KLIPPERT

Bradley Allen Klippert's letter announcing his intention to run for the 4th Congressional District's seat in the House of Representatives is a reflection of his personality and his intellect. Brad Klippert is a licensed Pentecostal minister and his announcement is full of patriotic one-liners, platitudes, and nationalistic evangelism worthy of a sermon on the mount. Saying that Klippert is conservative when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity is like saying that Donald Trump struggled with the truth. But it's hard to argue with success. Klippert was elected to the Washington House of Representatives in 2008 and has been re-elected each year since. As an anti-tax, anti-government conservative, he is a reliable 'No' vote on most bills.

Brad Klippert, State Representative, LD8

Klippert's ultra-conservative playbook resonates well in what is an ultra-conservative district; his vote total only fell below 60% once (at 59%), and that was running against another Republican (Rick Jansons in 2016). But his pulpit may not translate well from the state level to the federal level. He is:

  • Anti-Abortion
  • Anti-Gay Rights
  • Anti-Tax
  • Anti-Minimun Wage Increase
  • Anti-Mail-In Voting
  • Anti-Increased Education Funding (supports government funding of charter schools)
  • Anti-Climate Change Regulation
  • Anti-Gun Control
  • Anti-Affordable Care Act
  • Anti-Equal Pay Amendment
  • Anti-Dam Breaching
  • Anti-Mask & Vaccination Mandates
  • Anti-Critical Race Theory

Klippert Used Tax Payer Money to Attend Lindell's Evidence-Free Symposium

What may bite Klippert this time around is his charging tax payers for his expenses to attend a three-day “Cyber Symposium” in South Dakota, sponsored by "MyPillow" CEO, Mike Lindell, promising to provide “irrefutable” evidence the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump by hackers. According to the Tri-Citiy Herald, "The three-day, livestreamed event, rife with debunked conspiracy theories, produced no such proof and ended in embarrassing fashion when even some of Lindell’s own invited experts said hacking data he’d touted was nonsensical."

In addition, as I posted previously, the Tri-City Herald is no fan of Klippert, and is very unlikely to support him over Newhouse in the August 2nd Primary, or should they both get through the top-two, the General Election in November.

Of the six Republicans who've filed to run, only Ben Garcia has less money than Brad Klippert -- Garcia has no money. Brad, who filed way back in March of last year, has received $18,104, disbursed $14,509, has $3,595 on hand, and owes $12,225. It will be interesting to see what pops up on the FEC radar at the end of March this year, when quarterly reports are due.

 

JERROD SESSLER


Jerrod Sessler at the January 6, 2020, Insurrection
 
Jerrod Sessler filed to run in the 2022 Primary on March 17, 2021. He lived in Burien, WA, at the time, from where he ran his franchising company, HomeTask, Inc. Over the next five months he loaned his campaign $351,000. He boasted about being second only to Dan Newhouse in campaign money, but after it was publized that he'd put a substantial amount of his own money into his campaign," he admitted he'd done this, saying, "If I have to put my last penny in to help protect this great country that I have served and will continue to serve, I will not count it as too great a cost."

Sessler has crafted his platform to cover all the hot-button issues of the constituency he believes will elect him in November. He claims to be;
  • fiercely anti-abortion
  • for securing the Southern Border
  • opposed to mask and vaccine mandates
  • for unrestricted gun rights
  • opposed to critical race theory
  • in favor of supporting "J6 victims"
Sessler has been endorsed by:

Jerrod Sessler is single-minded in his ceaseless self-promotion. He advertises himself as a former NASCAR driver, a "decorated Navy veteran," a successful businessman/entrepreneur, a miraculous cancer survivor, an America-First Patriot, and an "ultra-popular Republican challenger to impeachment-voting Rep. Dan Newhouse."
 
Sessler's campaign website says he was "forged by the sea." He enlisted in the Navy right out of high school and left it 36-months later, in 1989. He achieved the grade of Petty Officer 3rd Class (a grade just above Seaman), and earned an 'Achievement Medal’ (having achieved an honorable discharge).
 
Sessler claims on the HomeTask website that HomeTask, "grew to over 150 locations and five brands nationwide." This is untrue, as the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) shows.*
 
Sessler gets his own section (p.68-71) in “Hallelujah Diet,” a book by Rev. Dr. George Malkmus, describing how he adopted the biblically-based raw fruits and vegetables diet and “beat his [stage IV] cancer.” 

Sessler started HomeTask Handyman Service, Inc. (602 343 174)** after first running a construction company, Siblings, incorporated on 2000-4-27 (601 872 987), which was dissolved 2004-08-02, reinstated with Nicole Sessler in charge (602 033 222), and ultimately dissolved 2008-08-01. Sessler "sponsored" his NASCAR driving adventure with earnings from his Siblings business venture.

HomeTask Handyman Service, Inc. was incorporated 2003-11-05, and was dissolved 2010-03-01. Jerrod Sessler started his franchise business HomeTask, Inc. (603 177 270), 2012-02-01.

On the opengovwa.com website, Sessler is listed as the registered agent for: Todoblue LLC, DD Licensing LLC, and Freggies LLC. All of these franchise brands have been dissolved. Sessler has also promoted; Pet Butler LLC (603 040 904), dissolved 2012-09-26, Lawn Army (zero franchises), Plumbing Doctor, and Data Doctors, neither of which seems to exist.

A post on Sessler promoting his “pet business,” says he was "named SBA Veteran Champion of the Year in 2010 for his work in offering significant discounts to veterans so that they can start their own business.” This isn’t true. The SBA website lists a Lloyd Calderon as National Veteran Champion. Sessler isn’t listed in 2009 or 2011 for this award. The claim is repeated on Sessler’s HomeTask website.

“Lawn Army” has been routed -- there are no, nada, zero Lawn Army franchises (see FDD Item 20, p.28). The failure of the Lawn Army brand didn't stop Sessler from "celebrating" its launch in PRWeb, "Lawn Army has grown from a simple vision to conducting operations in three territories with thousands of pounds of yard waste being cut, trimmed, and hauled away each month."

And despite the various promotions that say, "The company [HomeTask] grew to over 150 locations and five brands nationwide,” the FDD refers only to Yellow Van Handyman, and Lawn Army. Labor & Industries shows 15 Yellow Van Handyman franchisees, of which 9 are shown as having their license expired, including Sessler's.

Sessler is also selling a bearing seal and bearings repair kit for front load washing machines. It goes for $79.99 on line. He claims to have sold 5000 of them. There's no way to verify this, unless one gets Sessler to release his tax returns (fat chance). The on-line order form is hinky. Whatever one enters in the part no. window works, even if it isn't a part no. Sessler even recorded a YouTube DIY for the repair in which clumsy edits make getting the drum off a snap. If you want to void your manufacturer's warranty, there are easier ways, e.g., wash your panini machine in it. 

At last check on the FEC website (3/20/2022), Sessler had receipts of $434,774, disbursements of $232,855, and cash on hand of $201,919, less than a quarter of Newhouse's total.

_____________________________________________

* I got HomeTask’s Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) through a Public Records Request with Washington State’s department of Financial Institutions (DFI). Not every state requires the franchisors file their FDD with the state, making it difficult to regulate the franchise business.

**Number in parenthesis are uniform business identifier (UBI)

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Brad Klippert Communicates to Constituents on Why He Opposes Gun Control Legislation

Personally, I support each of the bills Klippert Opposes. Still, it's important to know why Klippert opposes them, and why it's very probable that a majority of our district's voters will agree with him, because Klippert will very likely run against Rep. Dan Newhouse in the 2022 Primary. So, here he is, followed by how the Tri-City Herald sees Bradley A Klippert, Republican, Representative, 8th LD.

Rep. Bradley A Klippert, School Resource Officer

I want to thank everyone who continues to contact my office with your frustrations, concerns, and questions about the policies moving through the Legislature threatening your Second Amendment rights.

Senate Bill 5078 – known as the high-capacity magazine ban – would limit the number of rounds in a firearm magazine. The majority party has tried to implement this ban several times and has failed each time. Right now, this policy is moving through the Legislative process. It passed the Senate chamber on a party-line vote, and the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee also along party lines. I, along with my Republican colleagues, are ready for a significant fight and debate on the House floor should this bill come before the full chamber in the coming week.

House Bill 1705 would ban so-called “ghost guns.” Many politicians believe because of these firearms' inability to be traced entirely, they should be banned from existence. Unfortunately, they fail to recognize that “ghost guns” obtained by law enforcement officers at crime scenes are more than likely firearms that a criminal has etched off and removed the serial number. All this bill would do is empower criminals and those who do not care about the law and make criminals out of law-abiding citizens who enjoy putting together their own firearms, many of whom are former military personnel or retired law enforcement professionals. This bill passed the House chamber on a party-line vote, and the Senate Committee on Law and Justice also along party lines. This bill should advance to the full Senate chamber in the coming week.

House Bill 1630 would establish restrictions on carrying and possessing firearms and other weapons in areas used in connection with meetings of local governments, school district board meetings, and certain election-related facilities. This bill is not about public safety and making communities safer. I believe this will create horrible unintended consequences. This bill passed the House chamber on a party-line vote and the Senate Committee on Law and Justice also along party lines. This bill should advance to the full Senate chamber in the coming week.

With violent crime on the rise and the push for early release of violent criminals out of prison, we should not be taking away the constitutionally protected rights of law-abiding citizens! I am adamantly opposed to any legislation limiting your ability to defend yourself, your family, neighbors, community, or business.

***************************************

The Tri-City Herald interviewed Klippert when he was a candidate for the 2020 State Election. To say the Editorial Board found him wanting is an understatement. They endorsed his opponent. Klippert won anyway, by about the same margin as Donald trump won in this disturbingly conservative district.

Klippert, who has served six terms, is an ultra-conservative who once co-sponsored a bill to divide Washington into two states — a harebrained scheme that cannot help our agricultural community. He lacks influence in the Legislature. After serving that long in Olympia, he should hold a position of power, but he does not.

And right now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, his views on this deadly disease are downright dangerous. Klippert disagrees with the governor’s handling of the coronavirus, and recently led a worship protest where attendees did not always wear masks or socially distance from one another. The U.S. Constitution allows for freedom of religion and a virus doesn’t stop that right, he said. His stance is alarming. Lawmakers who don’t believe the citizens of Washington are in an emergency of incalculable danger from COVID-19 are, themselves, a danger to us all. And Klippert is such a lawmaker.

He insists the number of cases of COVID-19 in Washington state don’t qualify as an emergency. Klippert does not seem to understand that our infection rate is where it’s at because of the governor’s restrictions. Without them, the numbers — and deaths — surely would be much higher. Klippert, who says he is the only school resource officer serving in the Legislature, has not evolved his focus in Olympia beyond law-enforcement related topics during his tenure.


Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Guns in California

State cap on guns’ ammo upheld

Appeals court says the ban on large-capacity magazines does not hinder self-defense.
By Maura Dolan, LA Times

A 30 round magazine, left, and a 10 round magazine, right, rest below an AR-15 rifle at the Ammunition Storage Component company in New Britain, Conn., . In the wake of Connecticut lawmaker's vote to ban high-capacity magazines after their passage of restrictive gun control law, the U.S. Senate is debating gun control legislationGun Control Congress

A 30-round magazine, left, and a 10-round magazine, right, rest below an AR-15 rifle at the Ammunition Storage Component company in New Britain, CT. Charles Krupa/AP/REX/Shutterstock

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld California’s ban on large-capacity ammunition magazines, a ruling likely to lead to the court’s approval of the state’s ban on assault weapons.
In an en banc decision, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 7 to 4 that a state law that limits the size of magazines — ammunition feeding devices for firearms — does not significantly interfere with the right to self-defense. The court noted that there was no evidence that a person has been unable to defend a home because of lack of a large- capacity magazine.
During the past 50 years, the court said, large-capacity magazines have been used in about three-fourths of mass shootings that resulted in 10 or more deaths and in 100% of those with 20 or more deaths.
“The ban on legal possession of large-capacity magazines reasonably supports California’s effort to reduce the devastating damage wrought by mass shootings,” Judge Susan P. Graber, a Clinton appointee, wrote for the court.
Two other gun control cases had been put on hold pending a decision in the magazine case. Tuesday’s decision suggests that California’s ban on assault weapons, which a lower court had struck down , is also likely to be ruled constitutional.
The four Republican appointees on the panel dissented — one of them accusing the majority of anti-gun bias — and a gun rights group said it would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the ruling.
A majority of the justices on the Supreme Court has expressed support for limiting gun regulations, and the court is expected next year to strike down laws in California and New York that deny permits for most people to carry concealed weapons in public.
California’s large-capacity magazine ban, approved by voters in 2016, limits possession to magazines that hold 10 or fewer rounds of ammunition. A district judge and a divided three-judge 9th Circuit panel had struck down the law, which Tuesday’s ruling revived.
“Large-capacity magazines allow a shooter to fire more bullets from a single firearm uninterrupted,” Graber wrote, “and a murderer’s pause to reload or switch weapons allows potential victims and law enforcement officers to flee or to confront the attacker.”
The court noted that Washington, D.C., and eight other states have also imposed restrictions on large-capacity magazines and that six other federal courts of appeals have upheld the laws.
“The ban on large-capacity magazines has the sole practical effect of requiring shooters to pause for a few seconds after firing 10 bullets, to reload or to replace the spent magazine,” Graber wrote.
“Nothing in the record suggests that the restriction imposes any more than a minimal burden on the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms.”
U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez overturned both the magazine ban and the bar on assault weapons. In the assault weapons case, Benitez likened an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle to a Swiss Army knife and called it “good for both home and battle.”
Benitez, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, said the assault weapons ban unconstitutionally infringed on the rights of California gun owners and “has had no effect” on curtailing mass shootings.
In a dissent Tuesday, 9th Circuit Judge Patrick J. Bumatay, a Trump appointee, said the banned magazines were “commonly owned by millions of law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.”
“These magazines are neither dangerous and unusual, nor are they subject to longstanding regulatory measures,” Butamay wrote.
Judge Lawrence VanDyke, another Trump appointee, wrote a separate dissent that accused his colleagues of infusing their personal views into the law.
“The majority of our court distrusts gun owners and thinks the 2nd Amendment is a vestigial organ of their living constitution,” VanDyke wrote.
VanDyke’s dissent, which no other judge signed, was unusual. Instead of focusing solely on the law, VanDyke questioned the other judges’ neutrality.
VanDyke said mass shootings were indeed “horrific” but also statistically rare. Large-scale magazines might be needed for self- defense if someone is attacked by a group of assailants, he said.
The majority’s “views drive this circuit’s case law, ignoring the original meaning of the 2nd Amendment and fully exploiting the discretion inherent in the Supreme Court’s cases,” VanDyke wrote.
Judge Andrew D. Hurwitz, an Obama appointee, objected.
VanDyke’s dissent was as inappropriate and factually unfounded as “a statement by the majority that today’s dissenters are willing to rewrite the Constitution because of their personal infatuation with firearms,” Hurwitz wrote.
As to VanDyke’s contention that mass shootings were rare, Hurwitz said: “The people of California should not be precluded from attempting to prevent mass murders simply because they don’t occur regularly enough in the eyes of an unelected Article III judge.”
Chuck Michel, president of the California Rifle & Pistol Assn., said his group would ask the 9th Circuit to put a hold on the decision while the association seeks review in the U.S. Supreme Court.
The ban on possession of large-scale magazines had been stayed pending the outcome of the case and should continue to be blocked until the Supreme Court decides whether to weigh in, he said.
Michel predicted the Supreme Court would change the legal ground rules for evaluating gun laws and said the 9th Circuit should have delayed a ruling until after the high court’s decision next year on permits for carrying concealed weapons.
Supporters of gun regulations praised the 9th Circuit decision.
“Today’s ruling is the latest recognition from the federal courts that reasonable gun safety laws are entirely consistent with the 2nd Amendment,” said Eric Tirschwell, executive director of Everytown Law, which litigates for a gun safety group. “This is great news for Californians and an important contribution to the centuries of legal precedent backing lifesaving gun laws.”

 

L.A. council votes to ban ‘ghost guns’

Action comes amid a surge in seizures of the untraceable weapons, usually sold in kits.
By Julia Wick, LA Times, staff writer Kevin Rector contributed to this report.

Untraceable, unserialized and relatively easy to assemble at home, so-called ghost guns are typically sold in kits — no background check necessary.
Police say the use of ghost guns in Los Angeles has soared in recent years, in line with broader trends across the nation.
The number of ghost guns seized by the Los Angeles Police Department has increased by approximately 400% since 2017, with an even sharper uptick this year, according to an Oct. 19 report issued by the department.
In that same report, the LAPD described the use of ghost guns as “an epidemic not only in Los Angeles but nationwide.”
The department confiscated 813 ghost guns in 2020. During the first 11 months of 2021, 1,780 ghost guns — more than double last year’s total — were seized by the LAPD, Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday. Ghost guns have been used in 24 murders, eight attempted murders, 60 assaults with a deadly weapon and 20 robberies this year, Moore said.
On Tuesday, Los Angeles joined a growing list of California cities that are cracking down on ghost guns, with the City Council voting unanimously to ban the untraceable firearms.
The ordinance, which Mayor Eric Garcetti is expected to sign, bans the possession, sale, purchase, receipt or transportation of firearms without serial numbers, as well as the parts used to make them. Violators could be fined up to $1,000 and receive up to six months in jail.
Speaking at a news conference after the vote, Moore made clear that he did not think the ban would solve gun violence in Los Angeles.
“But this is a feeder system to that problem,” he said. “And much like automobile safety, it is accomplished through a series of progressive steps.”
Councilman Paul Koretz said that he and Councilman Paul Krekorian requested this ordinance in August “following an increase in shootings, gun-related homicides, and a surge in the number of ghost guns marketed to those who are unable to purchase firearms legally.”
Ghost guns are exempt from laws requiring background checks and waiting periods because they are sold as unassembled kits, according to the motion introduced by Koretz and Krekorian.
“One of the most successful strategies this nation has adopted to reduce gun violence is background checks. ... Background checks work , ” Krekorian said. “And yet, we now have an entire industry of manufacturers, the sole purpose of which is to evade background checks.”
California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla weighed in to support the ordinance before its passage, calling it “an important effort” to help keep the weapons off the street, in a letter sent last week to council President Nury Martinez.
“Similar initiatives have already been implemented in San Diego and San Francisco, and we commend the Los Angeles City Council for considering a similar measure,” Feinstein and Padilla wrote. San Diego’s and San Francisco’s bans were both approved in September.
Efforts to stem the spread of ghost guns in California extend beyond local legislation.
In October, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation that adds ghost guns to the list of weapons that law enforcement can seize under gun violence or domestic violence restraining orders. Newsom also signed a law in 2019 that will require the sale of components used to build ghost guns to be carried out through a licensed vendor, but that law won’t go into effect until 2024.
In February, City Atty. Mike Feuer announced a city lawsuit against a major manufacturer of ghost gun parts , Polymer80.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

The Novel, "Native Speaker,' Informs My Understanding of Critical Race Theory

I’m reading the novel, “Native Speaker,” by Chang-rae Lee. It was published in 1995, and was his first novel. He is the author of five additional novels, and has won numerous awards and citations.

My intent in this post is not to review the novel, but rather to quote liberally from it in order to illustrate why, given my previous post on critical race theory (CRT), I was so struck by a particular passage in the novel.

The passage I‘m referring to quotes a speech being given by “John Kwang,” a rising Korean-American politician serving the Flushing neighborhood of Queens, N.Y., as councilman. Kwang is standing on the steps of a church speaking to a throng of mostly working-class supporters standing half in the street. He’s talking about unrest between Koreans and blacks in the multi-ethnic cauldron that makes up Flushing.

“Let us think that for the moment it is not a Korean problem. That it is not a black problem or a brown and yellow problem, that it is not a problem of our peoples, that it is not even ultimately a problem of our mistrust or our ignorance. Let us think it is the problem of a self-hate.”

“Yes, let us think that. Think of this my friends: when a Korean merchant haunts an old black gentleman strolling through the aisles of his grocery store, does he hold even the smallest hope that the man will not steal from him? Or when a group of black girls takes turns spitting in the face and hair of the new student from Korea, as happened to my friends daughter, whose muck of hate do they muck up on their tongues? Who is the girl the girls are seeing? Who is the man who appears to be stealing? Who are they, those who know no justice, no fairness; do you know them? Are they familiar?”

Then Kwang says the problems is “what we loath and fear in ourselves.” He tells the crowd that the people who drives the buses, clean the streets, do their laundry, are like them, are them, and, “They want to live with dignity and respect! They want a fair day of work. They want a chance to own something for themselves, be it a store or a cart. They want to show compassion to the less fortunate. They want happiness for their children. They want enough heat in the winter so they can sleep, they want a clean park in the summer so they can play. They want to love like sweet life, this city in which they live, not just to exist, not just to get by, not just to survive this day and go home tonight and tend fresh wounds.”

He goes on to tell them that those who are a “different dark color,” who may seem strange, or who can’t yet speak their language, are not so different than who they are or used to be.

“If you are listening to me now and you are Korean, and you pridefully own your own store… that you have built up from nothing, know these facts. Know that the blacks who spend money in your store and help put food on your table and send your children to college cannot open their own stores. Why? Why can’t they? Why don’t they even try? Because banks will not lend to them because they are black. Because these neighborhoods are troubled, high risk.Because if they did open stores, no one would insure them.”

Kwang also speaks to how the blacks do not benefit from the same strong bonds that the Korean community does, because their people were, “broken and dissolved through history.”

The African Diaspora

Chang-rae Lee published this novel in 1995, so he was creating the character of John Kwang, and his speech to the constituents of his Flushing district, well before critical race theory (CRT) became more than an academic subject for law school students to ponder. Lee wrote his novel as his thesis while studying for his Masters in Fine Arts at the University of Oregon. He was 28.

Jacqueline Jones, PhD, teaches History at the University of Texas at Austin. Jones received her Doctorate in History from the University of Wisconsin in 1976. She was 28.

Separated in time by some twenty years, and following very different personal and academic paths, Chang-rae Lee and Jacqueline Jones were discovering a common truth; racial bias in America is rooted in the institutions and structures of America, and persists whether individuals are biased or not — personal bias is, if not irrelevant, then certainly secondary.

As Janel George of the American Bar Association has written, “CRT recognizes that racism is not a bygone relic of the past. Instead, it acknowledges that the legacy of slavery, segregation, and the imposition of second-class citizenship on Black Americans and other people of color continue to permeate the social fabric of this nation.”

Last October, in a short talk in eastern Washington State in the predominantly conservative Tri-Cities, Dr. Jones summarized some of the ways the legacy of America’s slave era and lingering suspicion of minority populations, especially those relatively new to the “land of the free and home of the brave,” have marginalized those demographics. She spoke to, “the many ways that governmental entities and private interests have put racial ideologies into practice in the form of laws, taxation policies, public works projects, regulatory guidelines, profit-making schemes, hiring preferences, and more.” Examples of such policies and practices are both irrefutable and eye-opening, from the government’s “redlining” of predominately Black neighborhoods, to the predatory lending practices of high-cost lenders targeted at Blacks and minorities, to the mass incarceration of Blacks based on discriminatory drug laws, to the employment of prison labor as punishment. It is a shameful and complex interweaving of social injustice difficult to fathom, let alone accept.

And a large segment of the conservative, largely White sensibility from the U.K. to the U.S. to Australia isn’t accepting it. They say it pits, “white against black,” peddles damaging notions of "white privilege" and "white supremacy" and makes “a virtue of victimhood.”

Here in the U.S., Donald  Trump — still leader of the Party he co-opted — called critical race theory, “toxic propaganda,” and called for “patriotic education.” His Republican Party, sensing an opportunity to further inflame prejudices and energize their base has taken up critical race theory as a cause célèbre, charging adherents of CRT with attempting to brainwash their children, who are being taught to be ashamed that they’re white, and to reinvent America as a Marxist state.

The more inflamed critics of CRT refer to its adherents in especially colorful language as, “proto-fascists and black shirts masquerading as progressives,” and as a “counter-culture lynch mob,” that will attack those who may have the audacity to criticize CRT.

The Republican Party’s post-modern treatment of critical race theory has produced political successes across the nation, including here in the Tri-Cities, where in an off-year election for city council and school board positions, candidates espousing their opposition to CRT won election against opponents who seemed nonplussed by its seemingly sudden appearance on the heretofore largely ignored stage of a local election for “non-partisan” seats.

There’s no question that given their success, Republicans will continue and amplify their message surrounding critical race theory, purposely conflating it with “political correctness,” “cancel culture,” socialism, Marxism, communism, and the end of Western Civilization. As Nicole Gaudiano has said in her 11/19/2021 article for Business Insider, “Democrats are way behind in countering GOP messages about critical race theory.” So, how to catch up?

First, Democrats must familiarize themselves with the basic tenets of CRT. There are many versions and they are proliferating, but I have boiled them down to these:

  1. Race is a social construct, not a biological reality (as demonstrated by the Human Genome Project); as such it arises out of a need to oppress “others.”
  2. Identity within society is determined by a multiplicity of factors besides “race,” including gender, sexual preference, ‘abledness,’ etc., all of which subject people to varying degrees of inequality.
  3. Racism is a regularized feature of society, embedded within systems, organizations, and institutions, such as the legal system, that perpetuate and extends racial inequality.
  4. Embracing the lived experience of people of color and people considered “different” can inform research and add to and make richer scholarship.

Second, forget the basic tenets of CRT and focus on communicating positive messages about how Democrats hope to see our children educated in our K-12 public schools, i.e.; equally, truthfully, safely, and always with kindness and understanding.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

How Critical Race Theory Became a Thing

Christopher Rufo

If you were surprised by the sudden rise of critical race theory as the latest object of outrage by the Republican Right, you weren’t alone. The CRT controversy seems to have sprouted like cheat grass from our carefully groomed lawns. However, the controversy is anything but grassroots. It’s the brainchild of a former Seattle City Council candidate, Christopher Rufo.

Mr. Rufo is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, and a former director at the Discovery Institute, which promotes “intelligent design,” and has called global warming, “a fraud.” Rufo currently acts as Contributing Editor for the Manhattan Institute’s quarterly publication, the City Journal.  

Rufo had become well known for the anti-progressive ideas he expressed in his 2018 Seattle City Council campaign, and in his white paper for the Discovery Institute, “The Politics of Ruinous Compassion,” in which he wrote of an “ideological war that’s currently being won by a loose alliance of four major power centers: the socialist intellectuals, the compassion brigades, the homeless-industrial complex, and the addiction evangelists.”

So, when in the Summer of 2020, a ‘right-thinking’ Seattle city employee participated in anti-bias training during a Zoom meeting, and sent copies to Rufo, the spurned candidate quickly recognized the opportunity for political WMD (weapon of mass disinformation). Using FOIA requests, Rufo started digging further, and found references to anti-racism books that pointed to academic scholarship of the 1990s by legal scholars, who “argued that the white supremacy of the past lived on in the laws and societal rules of the present.” They referred to their work as “critical race theory.”

______________________________

In her August 12, 2021, Perspectives on History, article Dr. Jacqueline Jones, referred to CRT as “an intellectual framework for understanding the many ways that governmental entities and private interests have put racial ideologies into practice in the form of laws, taxation policies, public works projects, regulatory guidelines, profit-making schemes, hiring preferences, and more.”

______________________________

Rufo quickly recognized critical race theory as something he could attribute to the “woke” culture, thereby painting, “stay woke,” as more than a black-activist catch phase; rather, it was the rallying cry for legions of “social justice” activists, which he saw attempting to reinvent American history not only to paint all Whites as racist, but to inculcate in them their inherent racism, shame them with it, and move them to make reparations, if not in monetary, then in policy forms.  

Rufo kept fleshing out his thesis, and by the time he appeared on Tucker Carlson he was ready with his thesis that the purveyors of “woke’ ideology planned to use critical race theory as the academically respectable underpinnings of curricula designed to indoctrinate America’s children through the K-12 school system. Rufo made it clear that he saw critical race theory as an existential threat to the Republic, and called upon then-president Trump, to “"immediately issue" an "executive order and stamp out this destructive, divisive, pseudoscientific ideology at its root.”

It’s widely known that former President Trump was at the time a devotee of the Fox menu of “news” and opinion (he has since jilted Fox for One America News Network). He was watching Tucker interview Rufo and the next thing the intrepid reporter knew  he was answering a call from Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Soon after that, Rufo was called to Washington D.C. to help draft an executive order limiting how contractors providing federal diversity seminars could talk about race.

Christopher Rufo is a committed, energetic, and ambitious conservative activist, and a prolific writer of invective, but he alone could not have brought about the explosion of outrage and coordinated assaults on the institutions of American education, which conservatives have long suspected of indoctrinating students in ‘wrong-headed,’ liberal thinking. Trump operatives in the White House clearly saw critical race theory as a promising way to distract Americans from Trump’s [first] impeachment, his disastrous handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and the lingering unease over his “very fine people on both sides” comment regarding the white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that led to the death of the counter-protester, Heather Heyer.

White House operatives began working with and through the National Republican Committee, state Republican parties, and subsequently with quickly formed political action committees (PACs), such as the Education First Alliance in North Carolina (which offers “bootcamps” to train parents in how to fight against CRT), to raise the hackles of the Republican faithful and generate the energy needed to take back the House and Senate in 2022.

In my adopted home town of the Tri-Cities (population 244,000), in semi-arid, largely-conservative eastern Washington, the local paper, the Tri-City Herald, was so struck by the outpouring of grief and rage over the assault on their children by socialists wielding critical race theory that the Editorial Board felt compelled to publish an editorial in June stating that, “Contrary to a surge of misinformation online, there is no new law requiring Washington state public schools to adopt the controversial “critical race theory” curriculum.” According to the Board, parents in the Tri-Cities had already raised the issue to school boards, and the Herald had received letters to the editor expressing concern.

In the coming November 2nd local election Anti-CRT forces have chosen their leaders and they are running for city council and school board positions and their rallying cry is no masks, no mandates, no CRT, and no sex education [and by the way, no new taxes].



________________________________________________ 

“We have successfully frozen their brand — “critical race theory” — into the public conversation and are steadily driving up negative perceptions. We will eventually turn it toxic, as we put all of the various cultural insanities under that brand category.”

Christopher Rufo
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Friday, October 15, 2021

The Tri-City Herald Editorial Board Endorses the Wrong Candidate -- So what's new?

 

I'm disappointed with, and frankly puzzled by the Herald's recommendation of Gabe Galbraith for the Kennewick school board. Members of the Herald Editorial Board stated that, "Even though we don’t agree with some of Galbraith’s complaints against the school district, we believe he represents a voice that is needed on the board." That's a voice that said, "enough is enough" and "it's time to fight back," about keeping kids out of school during a pandemic that's killed almost 700,000 so far, including over thirty thousand in Benton County.

Galbraith wants kids in school, and he wants them there without masks, because "it's difficult to breathe wearing a mask" during recess. The Herald’s view of the mask mandate was made very clear in an August 27th editorial headlined, “Franklin Commissioner Clint Didier’s anti-mask stunt was an embarrassing misuse of power.”

Galbraith’s other issues are the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT), and sex education. CRT isn’t taught, but that doesn’t stop Galbraith from stating that he “opposes it 100%.” Here again, the Tri-City Herald Editorial Board penned a June 21st op-ed that stated unequivocally, “Contrary to a surge of misinformation online, there is no new law requiring Washington state public schools to adopt the controversial “critical race theory” curriculum. This point needs to be made clear.”

Kennewick school districts are required to adopt a sex education curriculum that meets state standards. Galbraith is dead-set against this, too, stating that sex education should be taught in the home. The fact is, parents may have their kids opt out of the school sex ed program. Another non-issue that Galbraith is running on.

Galbraith has also come out against the “teachers union,” which he said his wife quit. The  Kennewick Education Association, “works for the welfare of school children, the advancement of public education, and the improvement of instructional opportunities for all.” It’s essential that anyone serving on the school board work effectively with the teachers’ union, whether or not one agrees with all their positions.

What Galbraith didn’t address was the dismal “report card” the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) gives Kennewick schools. For example, only a third of students meet science standards, and just 41.8% meet math standards. Wouldn’t it be useful to have on the school board a person who is “passionate about science and math;” a person who “double majored in math and physics;” a person who taught science and math to 1st and 2nd graders, and continues to teach ‘children of all ages’ about the wonders of the universe at the Bechtel National Planetarium at CBC? A person like Erin Steinert?

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What's particularly troubling about the Herald Editorial Board's recommendation is how it reflects the ignorance of the Board about how the Republican Party is purposely misrepresenting Critical Race Theory as an ideological gambit by liberals to "indoctrinate" Americans into hating the White race, even their own. According to an article in Politico;

Parents in many places have organized Facebook groups calling for schools to expunge specific diversity-oriented curricula or any elected official backing it. Some of those groups have spawned new candidates — sometimes long before a race.

 As Politico wrote,

 Historically, school boards have been largely nonpartisan. But as interest in the races spiked this year, some candidates began to sound more like Fox News commentators than school board members of the past.

The Republican Party is using CRT as a ploy to 1) energize their base and get more Republican voters to the polls, 2) get Republicans running for local office to build their resume for runs at state and federal office, and 3) get the faithful to be more generous in their donations to the GOP.

Democrats at the local level seem slow to respond, surprised perhaps that the Republican apparatchik have so blatantly and aggressively turned public service into weaponized voluntarism. In off-year elections, when voter turnout struggles to reach 30%, shrugging off the RNC's faux outrage as temporary insanity is a formula for an epic failure. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Details on Climate Provisions in the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act


Senator Patty Murray, Washington State

This description of climate provisions in the Infrastructure and Jobs Act is take from Senator Murray's web page.

Electric Buses and Ferries

American school buses play a critical role in expanding access to education, but they are also a significant source of pollution. The legislation Includes key provisions from Senator Murray’s Clean School Bus Act, which will deliver thousands of electric school buses nationwide, including in rural communities, helping school districts across the country buy clean, American-made, zero emission buses, and replace the yellow school bus fleet for America’s children. The legislation also invests $5 billion in zero emission and clean buses and $2.5 billion for ferries. Senator Murray also worked to include language that would prioritize funding to low-income school districts and Tribal schools.

These investments will drive demand for American-made batteries and vehicles, creating jobs and supporting domestic manufacturing, while also removing diesel buses from some of our most vulnerable communities. In addition, they will help the more than 25 million children and thousands of bus drivers who breathe polluted air on their rides to and from school. Diesel air pollution is linked to asthma and other health problems that hurt our communities and cause students to miss school, particularly in communities of color and Tribal communities—in her role as Senate Education Committee Chair, Senator Murray fought to secure key provision to ensure the bill will target prioritize funding for communities hardest hit by pollution as we transition to clean, electric school buses.

Electric Vehicle (EV) Infrastructure

The bill invests $7.5 billion to build out the first-ever national network of EV chargers in the United States and is a critical element in the Biden-Harris Administration’s plan to accelerate the adoption of EVs to address the climate crisis and support domestic manufacturing jobs. The bill will provide funding for deployment of EV chargers along highway corridors to facilitate long-distance travel and within communities to provide convenient charging where people live, work, and shop. Federal funding will have a particular focus on rural, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach communities. Washington state would expect to receive $71 million over five years to support the expansion of an EV charging network in the state, and also have the opportunity to apply for the $2.5 billion in grant funding dedicated to EV charging in the bill.

Environmental Remediation

In thousands of rural and urban communities around the country, hundreds of thousands of former industrial and energy sites are now idle – sources of blight and pollution. 26% of Black Americans and 29% of Hispanic Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site, a higher percentage than for Americans overall. Proximity to a Superfund site can lead to elevated levels of lead in children’s blood. The legislation invests $21 billion in environmental remediation, making the largest investment in addressing the legacy pollution that harms the public health of communities and neighborhoods in American history, creating good-paying union jobs in hard-hit energy communities and advancing economic and environmental justice. The bill includes funds to clean up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land and cap orphaned gas wells.

Power Infrastructure

As the recent heat wave in the Pacific Northwest demonstrated, our aging electric grid needs urgent modernization. A Department of Energy study found that power outages cost the U.S. economy up to $70 billion annually. The legislation’s roughly $65 billion investment includes the single largest investment in clean energy transmission in American history. It upgrades our power infrastructure, including by building thousands of miles of new, resilient transmission lines to facilitate the expansion of renewable energy. It creates a new Grid Deployment Authority, invests in research and development for advanced transmission and electricity distribution technologies, and promotes smart grid technologies that deliver flexibility and resilience. It invests in demonstration projects and research hubs for next generation technologies like advanced nuclear, carbon capture, and clean hydrogen.

Climate Resiliency

People across Washington state have felt the effects of climate change this summer, as the Pacific Northwest was hit by a record heat wave and is still feeling the effects of major drought and forest fires. Last year alone, the United States faced 22 extreme weather and climate-related disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each – a cumulative price tag of nearly $100 billion. People of color are more likely to live in areas most vulnerable to flooding and other climate change-related weather events. The legislation makes our communities safer and our infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate change and cyber-attacks, with an investment of over $50 billion. This includes funds to protect against droughts, floods and wildfires, in addition to a major investment in weatherization. The bill is the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural systems in American history.

Senator Murray worked with other Western lawmakers to ensure the bill includes a historic investment to help fight and manage wildfires in the immediate-term. Of the $50 billion, the bill invests $8 billion specifically in wildfire risk reduction by providing funding for community wildfire defense grants, mechanical thinning, controlled burns, the Collaborative Forest Restoration Program, and firefighting resources.

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