Seattle Leans A Little Left

Moderate Democrats are splitting with more radical leftists on Seattle’s plans to give misdemeanor suspects a pass for crimes committed to meet a basic need.

Jason Rantz, right wing radio host tells a precautionary story. Seattle CM called police she defunded to report crime she is effectively legalizing.

I guess I’m a moderate Democrat since I find the proposed legislation problematic for the reasons Rantz explains. However, since we already imprison a larger proportion of citizens than any other country, we know Rantz’s solution of locking up more people will do nothing to reduce crime or improve Seattleites’ quality of life. Because criminals aren’t rational. They don’t plan on being caught, and therefore, don’t ponder the odds of going to prison.

We also now know we can’t afford our prison population if we want balanced state budgets. I wish I could direct a larger proportion of my city, county, and state sales taxes to mental health and substance abuse treatment.

That still leaves the question of what to do with all the criminals of sound mind who commit property crimes and other misdemeanors. On that, I’ll defer to experts to propose smarter, more viable alternatives to prison.

Say What?

So confusing. Start with the headline, “Seattle Mariners’ Kyle Lewis awarded American League Rookie of the Year in unanimous vote.”

If that’s not disorienting enough, fast forward to this gem:

“The Georgia native is the beginning of what could be a formidable young outfield in Seattle. Jarred Kelenic, who was acquired in a trade with the New York Mets, and Julio Rodriguez are ranked among baseball’s top prospects.”

Have the words “formidable” and “the Seattle Mariners” ever appeared in the same sentence?

I hereby declare these strange times.

Understanding Seattle

The President and his Fox News co-workers don’t ever reference Seattle’s history. Because they don’t care about it. All they care about is reinforcing stereotypes of people of color being prone to violence.

For historical context, we need Margaret O’Hara’s, “Don’t Be Fooled by Seattle’s Police-Free Zone”.

The heart of the matter:

“Discriminatory mortgage lending and racially restrictive covenants limited Seattle’s nonwhite population to a single neighborhood, the Central District. Fair housing laws opened up new parts of the city and suburbs to minority homeowners and renters after the 1960s, but Seattle’s overwhelmingly single-family zoning limited the housing available to new buyers.

Such zoning has been remarkably difficult to change. The region’s homeowners may vote Democratic and plant racial solidarity signs in their front yards, but often resist higher densities that can increase the affordable housing supply.”

O’Hara sees things getting better:

“. . . this season of pandemic and protest. . . . is forcing our city to reckon with truths that can and should make white citizens like me uncomfortable, and that remind us just how much Seattle is like the rest of America: impossibly divided, and impossibly full of hope.”

Nice Guys Don’t Always Finish Last

The parallels between Michael Jordan and Lance Armstrong are fascinating. Both seized on real and imagined slights and then exaggerated them in their minds, making them much more scandalous than they were, in order to, as Lance says in ESPN’s Armstrong documentary “Get my hate on.” The angrier they were, the better they performed. Realizing that, they became expert at sparking their anger.

They also had a win at all costs approach to their respective sports; treating teammates, and in Lance’s case support staff, as means towards that one end. Apart from their athleticism, there was very little to admire about them.

The parallels haven’t been lost on other viewers of ESPN’s recent Jordan and Armstrong docs, which has caused people to conclude that you have to be an asshole to win six NBA Championships or Seven editions of the Tour de France.

To which I call bullshit. Nice guys don’t always finish last.

Among many other examples, Magic Johnson smiled his way to five NBA titles. Russell Wilson, a regular visitor at Seattle’s Children’s Hospital, won the SuperBowl. Tom Brady never denigrated his teammates. Jack Nicklaus was universally liked and Adam Scott won the Masters.

And in 2017, Ron Byrnes won the Seattle Marathon’s 50-55 age group. And a lot of people are saying he’s the nicest guy of all.*

*this is potentially misleading

Operation Pacific Northwest

The wife, dog, and I went on a nice hike east of Seattle Saturday morn. Afterwards, fired off pictures to the daughters, both of whom are ensconced in the upper Midwest. The images created a firestorm of ohhhs and ahhhs. When they admitted to being jealous, I replied, “Move to Seattle.”

Then I thought what about a media campaign designed to accentuate the PNW’s natural beauty. Here is next weekend’s salvo.

Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier, iPhone 6+, RSB Photography

Read This If. . .

You enjoy iconoclasts, craft beer, and independent businesses—Dick Cantwell’s Beer is Immortal (Allecia Vermillion).

You think we’ve ruined kindergarten. The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland (Tim Walker).

You wonder what makes dogs happy. Hint: The answer is in their tails. The secret lives of dogs: Emotional sensor helps owners understand their pup’s feelings (Michael Walsh).

Making Sense of the Mars Hill Saga

Ruth Graham tells the story of “How a Megachurch Melts Down” in The Atlantic. Graham begins by outlining the rise and fall of the evangelical church:

“Two years ago, Mars Hill Church was the third-fastest growing large church in the country. Its original location in Seattle had spawned 14 other branches in five states, and 13,000 people attended weekly services at which founding pastor Mark Driscoll’s sermons were projected on large screens. Thousands more connected with the church online, and Driscoll and his wife Grace wrote a guidebook titled Real Marriage that hit #1 on the New York Times best-seller list in January 2012.”

“In hindsight, that year was the pinnacle for Mars Hill. Now it’s all over. Driscoll resigned a few weeks ago after a leave of absence that begin in August. And last Friday afternoon, Mars Hill Church announced online that it will dissolve by January 1.”

Then Graham explains that Driscoll’s and the church’s troubles began in late 2013 when a Christian radio host accused Driscoll of plagiarizing a theologian in a recent book. Graham adds:

“A few months later, the conservative Christian magazine World broke the story that Real Marriage had only landed on the best-seller list because Mars Hill paid a consulting firm $210,000 to boost it there. In July, bloggers dug up a series of crude and relentlessly misogynist comments Driscoll made under a pseudonym on a church discussion board. Writing as William Wallace II, he lambasted America as a “pussified nation,” and posted a bizarre glossary that mocked “male lesbians” (men who think like women), “femans” (women who think like men), “momma’s boys,” “Larry Limps,” and “rock-free” men who attend churches headed by female pastors. His defenders pointed out the comments were 14 years old, but they occurred years into his tenure as a professional pastor.”

Graham poses the obvious question. What went wrong?

“. . . Driscoll was a vocal proponent of the idea that the contemporary American church lacks manliness; as he put it in 2006, “real men” spurn the church because it celebrates a “Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ.” His message appealed to many people for many years. But recently, Driscoll’s own peers and followers began to turn against him, too. Their disfavor ultimately made it impossible for Driscoll to survive. What went wrong—or, from the perspective of Marsh Hill’s numerous noisy critics, what went right?”

The less obvious, more interesting question is why did a “relentlessly misogynist” leader’s message appeal to many people for many years?

Because people, whether inside or outside the church, resist change and prefer simple answers to pressing questions of the day, especially when they are offered up by charismatic demagogues. For example, instead of trying to understand, let alone welcome into the church people whose gender identities and sexual orientations are different than their own, they find comfort in Driscoll-like name calling and his proposed return to unquestioned patriarchy.

If I were a pastor, and I often engage in that flight of fancy, I’d repeatedly tell my congregation that we have to cultivate and then demonstrate empathy for everyone who has felt marginalized by Driscoll-like church leaders. And the only way to do that is to embrace all the subtleties, nuances, and ambiguities inherent in people’s different gender identities and sexual orientations.

But I don’t think I’m very charismatic, so I don’t know how many people would attend my church.