April 2009 Archives

Should the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact get 270 electoral college votes and go into effect, it would be fairly simple to break it, in various ways.

Federal law requires that the electors in each state meet on the first Monday after the second Wednesday of December. Federal law does not require that every state make their votes publically available. One or more states could withhold their vote totals (depending on state law, of course, which can be changed) until the following Tuesday, after the electors of all states were required to vote.

This makes it so that the NPV member states (as written in Washington state law) cannot determine the number of votes for each presidential slate in each state of the United States and in the District of Columbia in which
votes have been cast in a statewide popular election,
and therefore cannot add such votes together to produce a "national popular vote total for each presidential slate, and therefore cannot designate the presidential slate with the largest national popular vote total as the "national popular vote winner," and therefore cannot allocate their delegates based on any national popular vote.*

This could be done simply to fight against the NPV. But it could also be exploited for more nefarious purposes.

As my nefariously minded coworker points out: consider if a state voted for a Democratic candidate, but the government of the state is controlled by Republicans. It's a large enough state given the closeness of the election that their state would hand the "popular vote" to the Democratic candidate; but without their state's vote, the "popular vote" and electoral college vote would go to their favored Republican candidate.

So the state withholds their statewide popular vote totals, giving the victory to the Republican.

Oops.

Have I mentioned how "modifying" the Constitution without going through the amendments process is a bad idea? It is. The states all need to be together on something like this, enforced through federal power. The stakes are too high.


* Now, one could argue that the secretaries of state, under the compact, are empowered to work around this -- perhaps by excluding states that don't report, or even making educated guesses -- but if so, then that's extremely dangerous, as the secretary of state would also be effectively empowered to give his state's electoral votes to any candidate he chooses.

That is, if the secretary of state can leave out one or more states because they don't have any votes made public, for example, why not leave out other states because he thinks they didn't have a proper "statewide popular election"?

"Sorry Florida, your election was too flawed, I don't think it counts as a statewide popular vote, so I won't be including it." slashdot.org

Today, Governor Christine Gregoire signed into law a bill passed by the state legislature which gives away the state's right to vote in the election for President, instead automatically delegating those votes to the "winner" of the national "popular vote." The law only goes into effect if many other states also give up their right to vote. slashdot.org

When (or slightly before) Obama became President, his people broke millions of links to historical transcripts and videos, removing them from the White House web site. For example, this link to President Bush's so-called "Mission Accomplished" speech. It's just gone.

This sort of loss is intolerable. It matters. And yes, I know you can still find the content in various archives. But maintaining the links themselves are crucial. These are the footnotes and bibliography of much of the Bush years.

What should happen is simple: first, Obama's people should a new whitehouse.gov hierarchy for historical documents, perhaps ordered by year, perhaps by President's name, whatever. So for example, http://www.whitehouse.gov/bush-43/news/releases/. Put all of Obama's content in a similar location, http://www.whitehouse.gov/obama-44/news/releases/. Then all of the Bush content should be restored to that locations. Next, all existing URLs to /news/releases/.. should be automatically redirected to the Bush archives. Do the same for Clinton if necessary. And when Obama is gone, his replacement won't have to do anything to keep those historical records alive: they will remain in that location.

This really is important. slashdot.org

Senator Susan Collins is reviled on the right these days for helping to get the stimulus bill passed.

Now she is being used as the whipping boy of the left for what she got in return for that vote: in part, scaling back "pandemic-flu preparedness." See, we have a possible pandemic flu on our hands, and she killed preparedness for it!

Here's the problem, though: no one has been able to show what "pandemic-flu preparedness" has to do with a stimulus package.

I am not saying the flu cannot hurt our economy. Of course it does. But preparing for it does not stimulate the economy. Lots of things threaten our economy, but that doesn't make them stimulus. Why not let it go through the normal appropriations process?

By this broad definition of "stimulus," why bother having a budget at all? Just go from year to year with stimulus bills instead.

The left did the same thing with Governor Bobby Jindal and volcanos. He was not saying volcano research should not be funded; he was saying it should not have been in a stimulus bill.

Why is this so hard? slashdot.org

President Obama's pick for Deputy HUD Secretary is Ron Sims, the now-former executive of King County in Washington. Sims is famous, or infamous, for many things around here, but most notable perhaps is his stonewalling -- for years -- of a public records request by Armen Yousoufian, which after more than a decade will in hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of dollars in fines (the Supreme Court has ruled the original $124,000 fine was way too small, but we don't know yet how large it will be).

Today it was announced that his former administration is settling for almost a quarter million dollars in a separate public records lawsuit, with Stefan Sharkansky, the guy who runs Sound Politics.

Yesterday, Ron Sims had his nomination hearing. He was not asked a single question. The man who has shown complete disgregard for transparency -- costing the people not only adequate information to base their decisions on, but also lots of money -- was not actually questioned in his nomination hearing.

Obama said as the first words of his first executive order, "My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government."

Change you can believe in. slashdot.org

At 1:30 a.m. today, April 23, the $33 billion operating budget was sent to House members in the Washington State Legislature. The cutoff for amendments was noon, and the vote was this afternoon, giving members just a few hours to read hundreds of pages.

Worse, the amendment cutoff for the capital budget was 3 p.m., but the budget was not released to members until 3:25 p.m. That's right, you had to get your amendment in before you actually saw the budget, let alone had a chance to read it.

It used to be that no budget could be voted on for 24 hours following its release. That rule was abolished by the legislature in January. Now budgets are being rammed through without many legislators ever having a serious chance to see it.

This is -- in case you were wondering -- not representative government. Representative government requires that your representative be offered the opportunity to make an informed decision on your behalf.

The length of time between the release of any bill and a vote to approve it must be significant enough to allow the legislators to examine the bill's contents. Anything less violates our federal constitutional right to a republican form of government. slashdot.org

Newsmax attacked DHS Secretary Napolitano today because "she asserted that illegal immigration is really not a crime."

Well, according to Newsmax's own story, not quite. What she said was that "crossing the border is not a crime per se," in response to Sheriff Joe Arpaio saying he "wants illegal aliens to be prosecuted and jailed."

Let's distinguish between two different things: crossing the border illegally, and crossing the border legally, but remaining illegally.

Crossing the border illegally is a crime (a misdemeanor), and punishable by a fine and up to six months imprisonment.

But crossing the border legally and remaining in the country illegally is not a crime at all. It's a violation of our immigration laws and subjects you to deporation, but is not a crime. It's essentially a civil infraction, like a speeding ticket. The penalty is by many estimations more severe than a speeding ticket -- deportation -- but our law doesn't even really see that as a penalty, so much as just sending you where you are supposed to be (except in that if you are deported and you come back, it carries a more significant penalty).

So when Napolitano says that some "illegal aliens" have not committed any crimes, she's absolutely correct. It is a crime to lie about your social security number, a crime to cross the border illegally, and so on, but it is not a crime to be here illegally. slashdot.org

If you follow the news from Olympia, you've probably heard of SB 6147, proposed by Senator Kohl-Welles as a one percent income tax.

The good news is this has no chance of passing this session.

The bill offers a standard deduction of one million dollars for people filing jointly, and half a million for singles, so few people would end up paying it, as written. As Kohl-Welles says on her web site, the measure would "impose a state income tax upon Washington's highest wage earners."

However, Washington State's Constitution requires that all taxes on property must be uniform (Article VII, Section 1), and the state's courts have consistently recognized income as property. So this form of tax would likely be stricken as unconstitutional, as it is clearly intended to be non-uniform.

If this bill were passed, and the Court did rule that provision to be unconstitutional, the bill's severability clause means the rest of the bill would remain valid, and it we would then immediately have a tax on every federal income tax payer, instead of just the wealthy.

Thankfully, this bill won't pass this year, but the sneakiness of it is what bothers me. Don't be fooled into thinking Kohl-Welles and her cosponsors don't understand how this would have worked out: they proposed what they knew would likely end up being an income tax on everyone, and sold it as a tax merely "on the highest wage earners."

Kohl-Welles and her buddies explicitly crafted this bill to try to get past the uniformity provision by making an extremely high "standard deduction," and knew full well that if that didn't survive, the severability clause would keep the rest of the bill alive, which means a tax on all of us.

(Thanks to the EFF's Mike Reitz on LibertyLive.org.) slashdot.org

Tax Day is over but the Tea Party protests are not. Come to Lake Tye Park in Monroe, WA on Saturday, April 25. There's a march and flag-waving at noon, and the rally starts at 1 p.m., with another march and flag-waving at 3 p.m. I'll be performing the song I played at last week's Olympia Tea Party. slashdot.org

SB 5892 is a measure to save costs in state-sponsored health care programs. The state has already been allowed to rewrite doctor prescriptions, but SB 5892 goes further.

It says, "A state purchased health care program may immediately designate an available, less expensive generic product in a previously reviewed drug class as preferred, without first submitting the product to review by the pharmacy and therapeutics committee."

It adds, "If, within a therapeutic class, there is a therapeutic alternative over-the-counter drug available, a state purchased health care program may automatically designate the over-the-counter drug as the preferred drug."

We know that generic and OTC drugs are often not the same, including differences in side effects, drug interactions, and methods of working.

There's plenty of other new powers the law would give to the state over doctors' wishes. Perhaps even worse is limiting doctors' abilities to prescribe drugs for treatments not listed on the drugs' labels, which removes the ability of doctors to prescribe new and promising treatments for a wide range of medical problems.

Not only does this bill have the negative immediate effect of reducing the potential quality of care for lower income Washingtonians, but it should serve as a warning to all of us, as many people want government to subsidize our health care, and we are seeing proof that the government is quite willing to sacrifice our care for money.

I have word there's a hearing tomorrow; I'll post when I get details. slashdot.org

The "Head Jiggle" Tax Cuts

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Obama saying I should be happy about a $1.85 trillion deficit because of a $100 billion tax cut reminds me of a line from The Princess Bride: "My brains, his steel, and your strength against sixty men, and you think a little head jiggle is supposed to make me happy?"

So now I call Obama's tax cuts the "head jiggle" cuts. You don't have to, but I do. slashdot.org

Olympia Tea Party Wrapup

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There were (State Patrol estimate, as reported by various news agencies) 5,000 people in Olympia, WA today for the Tax Day Tea Party there. It was perhaps the largest crowd I've ever performed to.

All the speakers were great. State Auditor Brian Sonntag (D) and Senator Janea Holmquist (R) showed, as expected, great bipartisanship in calling for fiscal responsibility and respect for the rights of the people.

And this guy showed he wasn't giving up hope that the Sonics won't leave Seattle.

Overall a great day. Couldn't have asked for more. Having that many people on that day at the Capitol surely sent a message to Olympia. Gregoire campaigned on no tax increases. She realized that she needed to say that to win a majority vote in this state, but many Democrats in Olympia want to raise taxes anyway. We reminded them that the voters are still watching.

The TV coverage wasn't great. KIRO barely mentioned what happened, and didn't give any detail or interview anyone. The other three major local networks at least interviewed some people (KING and FOX put The Piper on camera!), and all three broadcasted intelligent responses and explanations from attendees rather than focusing in on some "crazies" to try to make the rest of the attendees look bad.

They didn't interrupt people or try to make inane arguments against them, like "reporter" Susan Roesgen from CNN in Chicago.

I can't recall seeing such a disgusting display from a "reporter" (sorry, I just can't bring myself to call her a reporter without quotes around it). Words can't easily express how completely unprofessional she was.

She complains about how a man shouldn't depict Obama as Hitler, arguing with the protestor that he shouldn't call Obama a fascist because "he's the President of the United States," and asking "do you know how offensive that is? (Never mind that two years ago, the very same reporter when confronted with a puppet of Bush as both Hitler and the devil, she offered no criticism of any kind.)

Then she goes over to a man with his child and asks him why he is there, and as he is explaining, she interrupts him to ask him what liberty has to do with taxes (duh); and then she won't let him answer that question, either, asserting that he is eligible for a $400 tax credit, implying that therefore he shouldn't be complaining.

She finally lets him try to finish answering the first question, and when he talks about people enjoying the fruit of their own labor, she interrupts again, saying that Illinois is getting $50 billion from the stimulus, as if that is in any way relevant.

She then walks away without letting him respond, and says, "I think you get the general tenor of this," when she's the one who did most of the talking (and interrupting, and arguing, and so on). Roesgen should have been fired on the spot. I suspect CNN will reprimand her, if not fire her. We'll see. If she had been on MSNBC, they probably would have promoted her to anchor.

If you're interested in the press coverage of the Tea Parties, I suggest you watch Reliable Sources on CNN this Sunday morning at 7 a.m. PT. Host Howard Kurtz has done a good job in the last year pointing out pro-Obama and anti-Republican bias, and I suspect he'll give Roesgen and others a good smackdown. slashdot.org

On Tea Parties

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I am going to perform my new song Liberty Man at the Tax Day Tea Party on the steps of the Capitol in Olympia. Check out the Evergreen Freedom Foundation's web site for the event, which starts at noon on Wednesday, April 15 (find other events on the web site).

The original Boston Tea Party -- taking place and a few miles north, and 200 years (minus a few months) before I was born -- was not a response to a tax increase, but to a government bailout. The East India Company was in big trouble due to a bad economy and bad management and bad government policies, and Parliament passed the Tea Act in response, which extended the Company's monopoly in the colonies, eliminated a significant tax on the tea in order to undercut the (smuggled) competition, and added a smaller tax for largely symbolic purposes.

Parliament was basically saying, "by purchasing this tea, which costs less than the competition, you concede that that we can tell you what tea to buy, and tax you however we wish." This is why some colonists called the tea the "seeds of slavery." Even if the colonists had representation in Parliament, this would have been intolerable to many of them, because they still would have had to agree that a majority of Parliament could tell them what to do. So they took the object of their offense and dumped it into the harbor.

The Boston Tea Party was not about tax increases, and was not even about representation. It was about self-governance. It was about making their own choices and directing their own paths. Representation doesn't give us that, as we in modern America understand: when your voice in Congress is only 1/435th of the House of Representatives, and this House has massive control over what you can and can't do, the fact of your representation is not meaningful: you still don't have much right to self-governance, which is the real point, not just of the Boston Tea Party, but of the American Revolution itself.

There's a great line by Mel Gibson in The Patriot, during the Revolution: "why would I trade one tyrant 3,000 miles away for 3,000 tyrants one mile away?" (Unfortunately, today, a better comparison would be "3,000 tyrants 3,000 miles away.") Gibson's character -- based on Francis Marion, from whom my father's middle name came -- continued, "An elected legislature can trample a man's rights as easily as a king can."

Even if you have representation, that doesn't make you free. You can have all the representation in the world and it doesn't matter if you aren't free. Freedom is actually being able to do as you please, and a legislature -- be it Parliament or Congress -- that is destructive to that end should be altered or abolished by the People.

Some people don't care about being free. Some people just want to be taken care of. They can be bought off with cheap tea. We can't. slashdot.org

Which President Am I?

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I was born in Massachusetts. I graduated from an elite Ivy League university and served as a U.S. ambassador before serving as Vice President for all eight years to one of the most popular Presidents in history.

I then served as the next President, for four years. I put three new justices on the Supreme Court of the United States.

I lost re-election to another very popular President, who served for eight years. We were political enemies while serving as President, but after we were both out of office became friends.

My son became President later, despite coming in second place in the popular vote. He faced stiff opposition from members of Congress angry over the victory, and he lost support even in his own party for his support of leniency and reconciliation for undocumented non-citizens. slashdot.org

As detailed by the EFF's Bob Williams, Governor Gregoire is required by RCW 43.88.110 (8) to order across-the-board cuts in allotments for a particular fund "if at any time during the fiscal period the governor projects a cash deficit" in that fund. Currently, the governor's March economic forecast projects a $48m deficit in the general fund on June 30.

This is not optional. She is required to order these cuts and has not done so. slashdot.org

Liberty Man

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Inspired by the nationwide Tea Parties, today I wrote a song I call "Liberty Man." You can get the MP3 or watch the video.

It's a simple song with a simple message: I am alive, which means I have liberty, which means that I own the product of my liberty, which is the money I've earned and the goods and services I've purchased with them. To arbitrarily and capriciously take away my liberty or my money or my posessions is to strike against my rights as a living human being. This is the essence of liberty.

It's not about selfishness, of course; it's about self-determination. It's not about me not helping others, it's about me deciding for myself whom I help, and how. Say what you like, but at the end of the day, liberty matters, and many of the people in power, on both sides of the aisle, don't respect it. slashdot.org

LCE066 Liberty Man

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An original song I wrote today, inspired by the Tax Day Tea Parties.

MP3 version: http://pudge.net/tunes/tracks/Liberty%20Man.mp3

Lyrics:

I am alive
I have my freedom
I work my hands to the bone
And I, I build a home

Chorus:
Don't take what I have what I built away from me
Don't deny that I am a man with liberty
Don't stomp on a life that was created to make choices
To live free

I have my land
But you have power
And you will take what I have
Because you can

Chorus

Many cry out, "Power to the people"
I am a person,. so where is mine?

I watch my back
I watch my brother's
And I don't need to be told what to do

Chorus


This is the Longest Concert Evar, starring Pudge. Send requests to concertrequest@pudge.net, or post them here.

TV Pundit Conspiracy Uncovered

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Some people believe the job of our cable news talk show hosts is to help uncover government conspiracies. Perhaps this is the perfect cover for being a member of one of the most powerful conspiracies in history.

The evidence is undeniable.

DoBBs. OlbermaNN. O'ReiLLy. HaNNity. MaTThews. MaDDow. HuckabEE.

Anything stick out for you there?

CNN also has CampbeLL Brown, LaRRy King, and Anderson COOper. And on Fox News there's also GleNN Beck, Bill HeMMer and Megyn KeLLy, Chris WaLLace, Steve DOOcy, and black-haired-guy-who-is-not-Steve-DOOcy.

You wondered why Fox got rid of Alan Colmes? It had nothing to do with ratings or political views. This also explains why BiLL O'ReiLLy has twice the popularity of any of his colleagues.

Comedians pretending to be real talk show hosts -- like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and David Shuster -- don't follow the sinister pattern and are obviously not a part of the conspiracy. These noble funnymen may be our only hope at salvation. slashdot.org

<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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