Midday Scan: Wednesday's top stories around the region

The 99 percenters conveniently ignore their role in overspending; Occupy Seattle's flagrant demands of McGinn; NW antisemitism rears its ugly head; anti-gay marriage sentiments weaken among WA's conservatives; and real estate values throw Westerners into an identity crisis.

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Occupy Seattle

The 99 percenters conveniently ignore their role in overspending; Occupy Seattle's flagrant demands of McGinn; NW antisemitism rears its ugly head; anti-gay marriage sentiments weaken among WA's conservatives; and real estate values throw Westerners into an identity crisis.

The cri de coeur of Occupy Wall Street, "we are the 99 percent," is beginning to sound hackneyed. As Danny Westneat of the Seattle Times writes, "The protesters say 99 percent is only a symbol. Still, count me out. Because the symbol says: We are not the problem. They are. Plus the solution's with them. Not with us." The 99-percent formula is visceral and populist: We are the "bottom 99 percent" while those who earn over a half-a-million dollars or more a year are overfed-and-happy oligarchs who control Wall Street and the political class. (The only thing missing is a Thomas Nast cartoon of rotund elites lording over Congress from the U.S. House gallery).  

"But are we 99 percenters going to blame it all on them?" Westneat writes. "Did no one in the 99 percent lie on their liar loans? Or buy way too much house? Rack up too much debt on flat screens or second homes? Fall for those political sweet nothings that said no matter how much the country spends, you won't have to pay for it?" The consummate example of leadership, cited by the author, is the late Al Rosellini who championed major transporation projects in the 1950s and 60s. "Whatever happened to everybody pays, everybody benefits? Or to getting things done. Now we're too busy sorting with percentages into competing groups," Westneat writes. Westneat's analysis is largely on target: We 99 percenters are subject to embracing a slogan as a pretext to scapegoat the rich rather than agitating for reform (even if, for now, it's simply a slogan).  

Occupy Seattle protesters are aspiring Rob McKennas. McKenna, Washington's Republican Attorney General and 2012 gubernatorial candidate, served as UW student body president in the early 1980s. At some point, McKenna, like all good ASUW presidents, must have handed President Bill Gerberding a list of demands (No more mystery meat at the HUB, President Gerberding. Or else). Fast forward to the Occupy Seattle protesters who issued a set of demands to Mayor Mike McGinn in exchange for agreeing to move the group's current encampment from Westlake Center to City Hall Plaza. As the Seattlepi.com reports, "The protesters have demanded the approval of four large tents at the new location for use as a kitchen, an infirmary, a supply storage, and an information center." One of the more curious requests? "They also want at least one guaranteed parking space near City Hall Plaza that allows for around-the-clock parking." The upside: Protesters will probably be placated (even if the parking demand is a little much) and the mayor assuages Westlake retailers who have inundated City Hall with complaints.  

The face of domestic terrorism is set in the mugshots of David Joseph "Joey" Pedersen, and his girlfriend, Holly Ann Grigsby. The white supremacists have been charged with two Everett murders and are also suspected in two other killings in Oregon and California. The Everett Herald reports, "According to court papers, Grigsby allegedly told a detective she and Pedersen were on their way to Sacramento to 'kill more Jews' when they were arrested in Northern California last week." In addition, "They are accused of killing an Oregon teen because they believed he was Jewish, and taking his car."  

The horror of the Pedersen-Grigsby murder spree throws light on a foul historical legacy: the nurturing of white and anti-Semitic extremism in the Pacific Northwest. From William Dudley Pelley's racist Silver Shirts, which had a strong following in Snohomish County and on Whidbey Island in the 1930s, to Richard Butler's Aryan Nations in Idaho a half-century later, it is a small but wretched feature of the political landscape. (The best book on the subject is still David Neiwert's In God's Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest).  

Polling is akin to astrology: Aim to ignore the ominous signs and just read into it what you want. For opponents of gay marriage, the astrology model sounds like a wise approach. As Lornet Turnbull of the Seattle Times writes, "A poll conducted for a religious conservative group that has worked to defeat gay-rights laws in Washington state found fewer than half of voters surveyed last month say they oppose same-sex marriage." Turnbull reports that this is the first time that opposition to marriage equality has fallen below 50 percent. Ironically the poll for the Faith and Freedom Network may be a cudgel for state Sen. Ed Murray and other gay-marriage proponents to push a same-sex-marriage law this session. "State Sen. Ed Murray, the state's longest-serving openly gay lawmaker, has said all along he wanted to build incrementally toward marriage equality, beginning with the creation of a domestic-partnership law four years ago."  

Finally, what better way to punctuate the day than to ponder the decline and fall of the housing market in the West? Jonathan Thompson of High Country News does an excellent job using Arizona's "Sun Corridor" as a case study. "High-end real estate ads can still be found in resort town papers," Thomson writes. "But clearly we’re facing a very different future than we did just a few years ago. Our assumptions about who we are as a region have been thrown for a loop; just as we were redefining ourselves and figuring out who we were, we’ve been handed a whole new identity crisis."        

Link summary

Seattle Times, "'99 percent proesters' math doesn't add up"

Seattlepi.com, "Occupy Seattle protesters submit list of demands to mayor"

Everett Herald, "Murder suspects' alleged goal: 'Kill more Jews'" 

Seattle Times, "Poll finds opposition to gay marriage slipping"

High Country News, "Demise of the housing growth machine"


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About the Authors & Contributors

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is the former editorial-page editor of the Everett Herald. Follow him on Twitter @phardinjackson