August 2012 Archives

Pubicola Smears Koster Again

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Apparently Josh Feit is so interested in the 1st CD race that he is willing to smear Republican John Koster every chance he gets. His latest missive pretends to be a "fact check," when it's really an intentional distortion of the facts.

He sets the stage with the unverified claim that Koster "has a reputation as a hard-core partisan." If by that one means that Koster believes in his principles and works hard on them -- which is exactly how his opponent, Democrat Suzan DelBene, promises to operate -- then so be it. But Feit's trying to imply that Koster doesn't work well with others. That he takes his ball and goes home if he doesn't get exactly what he wants. It's funny, then, that the moderate Democrats on the Snohomish County Council actually have worked very well with him over the past decade, on many bipartisan measures.

So where's Feit's evidence? He links to a 2000 Bellingham Herald story where Democrat Hans Dunshee says so. Well, that settles it! As everyone knows, Hans Dunshee is a sunbeam of moderation and bipartisanship (in case you can't tell, I'm being sarcastic). Dunshee had recently lost the race for the 39th LD to Koster, and he says Koster had "never voted for a bipartisan solution to anything," and that he never offered fixes to the spending bills he opposed. Where's the fact checking on that, Josh? You just accept it blindly, even though it's so obviously false?

Well, someone else does offer a substantiating quote: none other than Democrat Rick Larsen, obviously also an impartial observer, as he was currently opposing Koster for the 1st CD seat. Larsen attacked Koster for voting for (bipartisan, Hans and Josh! bipartisan!) bills for a patients bill of rights and pipeline safety,* but then refusing to vote for the budget that funded them. Larsen said, "Just voting for legislation isnít enough. If you have to fund it to make it happen, then you have to be voting for that funding."

No, in fact, you don't. This is an old sort of lie. It expects people to believe that just because you voted against a bill, that means you don't share the goals of the legislation, and didn't work to improve the legislation. It's nonsense.

Feit's evidence that Koster is a "hard-core partisan" was similar: Koster "voted against five of the six budgets passed by the legislature" during his time in the state legislature. So?

The way this works is simple. You agree with some of the bill, and disagree with significant portions of it. So you vote against it. If you are successful in winning the vote, you then get the opportunity to change it. If you are not successful, at least you went on the record that you disliked significant portions of the bill. This is, in my book, legislating with integrity.**

And worse, in this case, Koster voted against Republican budgets, so it obviously isn't about partisanship. Feit doesn't mention that fact, despite being well-aware of it (since it's in the text of the story from 2000 he's writing about), because it doesn't fit his narrative of Koster as a "hard-core partisan."

Frankly, I think the Democratic line here, that Feit is echoing loudly, is just the sort of attitude that many voters are sick and tired of: that you have to vote for someone else's wasteful spending or else you're not doing your job as a legislator. It's irrational and -- if I may borrow a phrase -- a mark of a "hard-core partisan" to criticize someone for honest disagreement over a budget, saying they have to vote for it if they voted for something that's in it.

* Honestly, when Hans Dunshee says John Koster "has never voted for any bipartisan solution to anything," and just a few sentences later Rick Larsen refers to specific bipartisan legislation that Koster voted for -- one of which was sponsored by both Dunshee and Koster! -- and Feit (and the Bellingham Herald) just accept the claim blindly without even looking up the evidence Larsen handed them, you no longer have to wonder how much these people care about the facts. For Feit to claim he is "fact checking" is a riot.

** I made the same argument to defend John Kerry when he ran for President, when he infamously voted against a military spending bill, even though he said he was in favor of the spending. He opposed it because he wanted it funded with "tax increases on the wealthy." He was wrong to want that method of funding, he was stupid to say "I voted for it before I voted against it," but the tactic he used -- voting against a bill to mark his disagreement with some significant portion of it -- is perfectly reasonable, and would not have led to the bill's demise, despite what many Republicans falsely claimed at the time. Feit's using the same dumb argument Republicans dumbly used against Kerry.

Josh Feit, searching for relevancy over at Publicola, decided it was newsworthy to report that someone who did consulting work for Todd Akin also did consulting work for Rob McKenna and John Koster.

I hear that Christine Gregoire's accountant also does tax returns for the head of the New Black Panthers.

U.S. Senate candidate Michael Baumgartner (R-WA) responded to Publicola journalist Josh Feit with a picture of himself with an American soldier, saying, "Josh, this is Pat Feeks, a Navy SEAL killed last week in Afghanistan. Take a good look and then go f*** yourself."

Feit says, "Itís hard to know what prompted his e-mail last night." No, it's not: Baumgartner is annoyed that you are trying to link him to an unrelated candidate's ignorant comments about abortion instead of focusing on actual issues. That's not to say candidate's views on abortion are unimportant, but Pubicola hasn't even covered the state senator's views on Afghanistan (until now).

Baugmartner apologized to Feit "for my strong language," but I say that it's good to see, regardless of the language used. Nothing against Feit in particular, but the entire news media is going nuts over this abortion thing. A guy I've never heard of and can't vote for or against said something stupid. So what? Move on, already.

Libertarians are Stupid

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I confess: I am a libertarian. But the Libertarian Party in WA is prone to all sort of stupidity, and their latest is no different. This time they claim that Mitt Romney should not be on the ballot, because:

  1. Only "major party" candidates for President can get on the ballot, unless they have 1,000 signatures (which Romney does not have)
  2. A "major party" is defined as a party having a nominee in the last statewide general election in an even-numbered year that received 5% of the vote
  3. While Dino Rossi -- the only Republican in a general election statewide race in 2010 -- got 47.64% of the vote, he was not nominated by the Washington State Republican Party

There are, of course, problems with all this. The most glaring is that Dino Rossi was nominated by the WSRP for governor in August, after the primary. It didn't happen at convention, but the law does not specify the method of nomination.

But even if he were not officially nominated, the fact is that Washington State has all along operated with the WSRP as though the WSRP is a major party for 2012. To come back after it is too late, and demand that they file 1,000 signatures -- which they could do in an afternoon, if not in an hour -- is so ridiculous as to be barely worth responding to. The State cannot tell a party its nominee will be on the ballot, thus they have nothing more to do, and then later say they can't be on the ballot. The damage done to democracy with such a move would be terrible.

This is just a bunch of whiny libertarians with an axe to grind over the nonsensical "Top Two" primary. I share their hatred of it, and I've written a lot about how terrible it is. But a frivolous lawsuit won't win anyone to their side.

"Dishonorable Disclosures"

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"Dishonorable Disclosures" is a short film by an organization called Special Operations OPSEC about how the Obama administration has willfully leaked intelligence that has compromised America's future operations. Some on the left have compared it to the "Swift Boat" ads against John Kerry. The big difference between these two films is that while the anti-Kerry stuff was significantly unverifiable, this film is entirely verifiably true.

Yes, it's an attack on Obama, and certainly funded by many Republicans and conservatives. It is, in essence, a campaign ad against the President. And the film's biggest failing is that because it is an attack on Obama, it leaves out information and arguments that a viewer might use to challenge whether some of the disclosures were reasonable, such as that we might have something greater to gain in our extremely complex relationship with Pakistan by giving up the doctor, or that some disclosures -- despite the military and intelligence communities disliking them -- are good for democracy (like with the existence of a "kill list").

But the bottom line is that the leaks the film is criticizing are very real, and whatever the reasons, many of the leaks -- about the Pakistani doctor, about how the Bin Laden mission was conducted and the names of the units involved, about Stuxnet, and more -- have been intentional, and have caused severe damage to our ability to conduct similar operations in the future.

The doctor disclosure is particularly troubling, because it eliminates untold numbers of potential intelligence assets who will rightfully question whether they will be offered up on a silver platter to our enemies once their usefulness is complete.

Even Democrat Dianne Feinstein, one of Obama's biggest supporters in the Senate, has said the leaks in the last few years have been worse than she's ever seen, and have caused tremendous damage. There's no serious debate about that.

While we're all talking about and debating the President's record on civil liberties, taxes, jobs, debt, and so on, it's good that this film is reminding us of a less-publicized, but very important, problem with the President's first term.

Primary Results are In

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The WA "primary" results are mostly in. There's lots of positive news for conservatives and Republicans.

At the top of the ticket is Rob McKenna for governor, who came is currently a mere 3.5 percentage points behind Jay Inslee, 43.28 to 46.78. Adding in the other Republican and Democrat candidates, the lead is cut to 2.5 points, although Inslee is then at about 50 percent. Of course, you can't a. assume that the votes for the other candidates will translate into votes for the same-party candidate, and b. you can't assume turnout will be proportional in November. So the best we can say is that it looks really close.

Most of the statewide offices have significant leads by Democrats. While it would be nice to see Kim Wyman win Secretary of State, she has a tough road ahead. If she can get enough of an audience, she could convince them that she has much more experience and would be a better official than Kathleen Drew, a partisan who supports "repeal" of a Supreme Court decision that said, simply, that citizens, or associations of citizens, cannot be fined or jailed for simply engaging in political speech. (It's weird and scary that someone who wants to be an elected official would hold such a view.)

James Watkins, Republican running for State Auditor, has strong prospects for November. He pulled in 46% of the vote (more than any statewide Republican this primary), perhaps due in part to some of the great bipartisan endorsements he's received (and, I think, people generally like to have some Republicans around as checks on the Democrats).

For Senate, it will be an uphill climb for Michael Baumgartner (R) to unseat Maria Cantwell (D). And none of the other federal races with incumbents look close, either. In WA-6, vacated by Norm Dicks, Bill Driscoll (one of several Republicans) got only 18% of the vote, and Derek Kilmer (the only Democrat), who pulled in 53%. Similarly, in the new WA-10, Denny Heck (one of two Democrats) with 40% will be facing Dick Muri (one of two Republicans) with 28%. In both, there's so many votes going to so many candidates, we just can't tell much.

John Koster -- hopefully, my next congressman -- blew away the competition in WA-1, almost as badly as Kilmer did in WA-6. He increased his tally from 43.3% to 45.07% since election night, and has substantially more votes than the next three candidates combined. Of course, only the next candidate matters: and that will be Democrat Suzan DelBene, with 22.64% of the vote. However, there were five Democratic candidates, and if you combine their total vote, you end up with 52.97%; adding the one Independent, Larry Ishmael (who has run multiple times in this district as a Republican) to Koster gives him 47.03%. But again, the assumption that all of those extra votes will go to DelBene and Koster is unwarranted (in fact, we have seen in various polls of head-to-head races that some people voting for Democrat candidates like Steve Hobbs would not have voted for DelBene or the other Democrats). Again, just way too close to call.

Koster and DelBene will also face off in a separate race: the special election to finish the aforementioned Inslee's seat, since he infamously quit several months back. But in that race -- being for a WA-1 with very different boundaries -- Koster gained only 35.75% of the vote. Democratic candidates accounted for more than 60% of the total votes cast. We could have Congresswoman DelBene for a month, followed by Congressman Koster for two years. Blame Inslee for the confusion and weirdness.

Returning for another round is Richard Sanders, who has an apparent top-two finish for Position 9 on the Supreme Court. Hopefully the civil rights champion can win his seat back.

In my 10th Legislative District, it was gratifying seeing Rep. Barbara Bailey (R) open up 5.5 percentage point lead on Senate mainstay Mary Margaret Haugen (D). Running for Bailey's soon-to-be-vacant seat is Dave Hayes (R) who holds a slim lead over Tom Riggs (D), 51% to 49%. But incumbent Rep. Norma Smith has a whopping 59% of the vote.

My old 39th LD looks even better, with Rep. Kirk Pearson (R) running for Val Stevens' Senate seat, and beating perennial Democrat challenger Scott Olson by 14 points; incumbent Rep. Dan Kristiansen (R) up by 10 points; and the combined votes of the Republican candidates for Pearson's seat garnering about 58% of the vote, led by Elizabeth Scott. She'll be facing off against Democrat Eleanor Walters.

Many sources are telling many news outlets that Paul Ryan will be named Mitt Romney's running mate on Saturday morning.

I hope so. He's been my pick for months. People tell me he's a bad pick because of his budget and Medicare and so on, but I've thought they're wrong. The leftists will hate him and try to paint him as a terrible person, sure, but the Romney campaign can say something like: "his budget was just a starting point for discussion, and the Democrats never came to the table; the main point is the goals he had, which were to reduce spending without harming the most vulnerable and free the market to make all Americans prosperous, and President Obama and the Democrats have failed at that. Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and a Republican Congress will work tirelessly to change that direction, starting with repealing Obama's health insurance law, and ending with a balanced budget."

Then again, maybe it won't be Ryan. I'll find out when I wake up tomorrow.

No Primary? No Problem!

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We don't actually have a real primary in WA.

As our Attorney General, Rob McKenna, said, the primary is really "the first stage of this two-stage general election process. ..." (Page 6)

The "winnowing primary" is not really a primary anymore, but a general election with a runoff for the top two candidates.

The reason this is important, the reason it is my biggest problem with the current system, is that we now make some of the big decisions with the smallest number of voters. It used to be that anyone could get on the November ballot, if they got the signatures and filing fee, and voters would have potentially several choices in November. That has ended. We had stage one of the general election this week, in August, where only about 35% of voters participated (estimated; it could grow a bit more, yet). In 2008, we had 42.6% in stage one, and 84.6% in stage two.

And the really sad thing about it is that the people who most wanted this change are people who dislike the two-party system, and claimed to represent the same; but the most involved partisans of the two major parties vote in disproportionately greater numbers in the primary. So the major party members are making the decisions about who we get to vote for more than ever before. Most of the "stage two"-only voters -- about half the voters -- never get a chance to vote for a Libertarian or Green or Independent candidate, because the heavily partisan voters of "stage one" already eliminated them from "stage two."

Granted, it's their own fault for not participating in "stage one." But it's still the opposite of what the I-872 folks said we would get. They said we would get the blanket primary back; that this would empower independent voters more; that we would get more choices. Instead, we didn't get a blanket primary, independent voters have less influence, and we have fewer choices.

Secret Ballot

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Remember, Washingtonians ... you no longer have a secret ballot in Washington. A secret ballot means voting on a ballot given to you at a polling place, then preparing and despositing that ballot in secret at that location. The purpose of this voting reform was to prevent someone else from bribing, threatening, blackmailing, or otherwise influencing your vote.

We have not outgrown the need for a secret ballot.

I am voting in person tomorrow, as I always do, on a voting machine at the county auditor's office.

"Spring Vacation" by The Beach Boys (from their new album, "That's Why God Made the Radio")

"Outdoor Elvis" by The Swirling Eddies (both for the song, and band, names)

"Wonder of Your World" by Rich Mullins (awesome song)

"Lord, You're Beautiful" by Margaret Becker (excellent rendition of the classic)

"Montana Sky" by White Heart (duh)

<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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