Recently in Politics Category

Fox News Sucks

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Fox News has, by far, the worst news ticker ever in the history of ever. They give way too much information, they spell out long words they don't need to spell out, and shorten words there's no need to shorten, as well as words that are confusing when shortened.

And this is their normal case. Every single story is terrible. Here is an example I took at random just now:

RUSSIAN SECURITY FORCES HAVE REPORTEDLY KILLED A MIILITANT SUSPECTED OF TRAINING TWO SUICIDE BOMBERS WHO STRUCK THE CITY OF VOLGOGRAD IN DEC... THE ATTACKS ON A TRAIN STATION AND TROLLEYBUS KILLED 34 PEOPLE... LAST WK, COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIALS ID'D THE SUSPECTED BOMBERS AS BEING PART OF A DAGESTAN-BASED TERROR GROUP

Most of that is unimportant. What do we need to know? Who was killed, who killed him, and why he was killed. That's it. This is a reasonable alternative:

RUSSIAN FORCES KILL SUSPECT LINKED TO VOLGOGRAD BOMBING KILLING 34 IN DECEMBER

But let's see if we missed something by going over it piece-by-piece. "RUSSIAN SECURITY FORCES". It seems to me that "security" is not important: whether it was military or security or police doesn't matter to the story, not for a headline. "HAVE REPORTEDLY KILLED". Maybe we add "reportedly" or a suitable synonym to our headline. "A MIILITANT SUSPECTED OF TRAINING TWO SUICIDE BOMBERS WHO STRUCK THE CITY OF VOLGOGRAD IN DEC". While it is interesting what he did, what really matters is that he is suspected of involvement in the attack. "THE ATTACKS ON A TRAIN STATION AND TROLLEYBUS KILLED 34 PEOPLE". None of that matters, except that 34 people died. "LAST WK, COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIALS ID'D THE SUSPECTED BOMBERS AS BEING PART OF A DAGESTAN-BASED TERROR GROUP". None of that matters at all, in any way. But even if you disagree, you can simply add that it is based in Dagestan. So worst case, we get:

RUSSIAN FORCES REPORTEDLY KILL SUSPECT LINKED TO VOLGOGRAD BOMBING, BY DAGESTAN-BASED TERROR GROUP, KILLING 34 IN DECEMBER

Still a massive improvement. They've been doing this nonsense for many years, and they should fix it.

"Voting is to be free from any coercive or disruptive circumstances. A secret ballot process must be provided," says union boss Tom Buffenbarger regarding the Boeing vote.

The Washington State Constitution secures the right of all electors to "absolute secrecy in preparing and depositing" their ballot. But the state's system of mail voting completely undermines this. It's unconstitutional, and it allows for the very coercion Buffenbarger rightly wants to protect the union from. The point of the secret ballot, as Buffenbarger knows, is not only to allow a voter "to vote without any other person knowing for whom he votes, but to compel him to vote secretly, and thus prevent bribery, coercion, and other evils."

That's why I floated a proposal to restore the secret ballot to Washington State a couple of years ago.

Suzan DelBene and Nepotism

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The White House Is Bringing In Microsoft's Kurt DelBene To Run The Obamacare Website. Yes, that is Rep. Suzan DelBene, recently elected Democratic representative from WA-1.

Seattle Hates Civil Rights

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In our lifetime, no bigger hater of civil and human rights has ever been elected to Seattle office than Kshama Sawant. Her previous House campaign gives us much of the detail. She opposes private property, seeing our personal income as nothing more than a piggy bank to fund everything from full-time salaries for everyone who refuses to work, to single-payer healthcare and free college for all, and every other handout you could probably think of; she opposes people choosing where to do business and with whom, saying it is "economic terrorism" for Boeing to merely want to put a new plant in a state where it makes more economic sense; and she wants to take "Boeing, Microsoft, and Amazon, into democratic public ownership to be run for public good, not private profit."

Let those words sink in. She would take literally everything great, and created privately by individuals, in Seattle, and destroy it. The greater it is, the more she wants to kill it. As she said, "When things are exquisitely beautiful and rare, they shouldn't be privately owned."

Sayanora, Amazon.

She hates private property, despises freedom of choice, and could not care less about the right to privacy (as she sticks government into more and more parts of our lives). She wants each one of us subjugated entirely by an oppressive government. She is as much a hater of civil and human rights as any local politician in my lifetime, and she was elected citywide by the citizen-residents of Seattle.

That's pretty damned sad. I thought Seattle at least superficially cared about civil and human rights.

I no longer believe that.

Of course, the other possibility is that Seattle voters are just terribly ignorant, not realizing that they were electing such a creature as this. Maybe they thought she was just another green-ish Seattle-style socialist, like many others who have graced the offices of mayor and city council. But she isn't: she is, as colleague Jim Miller has noted, a straight-up Trotskyist communist, a self-proclaimed Marxist, who believes in putting all of us under the government's very heavy thumb.

We don't need to go into how her positions make no sense; for example, she is against an active police enforcement of the law, but that is the only way she could enforce the oppression she wants. (When she needed the police to actively enforce her oppressive laws violating our rights, would she? I have no doubts, personally. Certainly Marx, and especially Trotsky, wouldn't have blinked at the prospect.) It simply suffices to say she wants to oppress us all, very severely.

The good news is that we have saviors here: a mayor and a city council who actually, despite many of their stated anti-capitalist positions, respect the law and civil rights a lot more than Sawant does. Not as much as they should, in my view, but likely enough to render Sawant incapable of violating us nearly to the extent she would like. (Not to mention, of course, that most of what she wants to do would be struck down by state and federal courts as blatantly unconstitutional.)

But that doesn't make her election acceptable to a reasonable people who do respect civil and human rights. And I just hope that she doesn't drive me, and the companies I work for and with, out of the city. There's a lot of economic good left in Seattle, but Sawant will do everything she can to destroy it.

So there's this law in the State of Washington, passed by the people. It says, in no uncertain terms, that all records of the government are open to the public, unless those records meet "specific exemptions." Notably, there is no specific exemption for the governor's communication with advisors.

But the Supreme Court of Washington ruled today that the written law is wrong, and that even though there is nothing in the state's constitution implying it, that there is a broad and undefined "executive privilege" allowing the governor of the state to keep private many records that the law disallows to be kept private.

Literally, the court had to look to rulings applying to the President and governors of other states, rulings which have no standing in Washington and which are based on laws and constitutions that have no effect in Washington.

The ruling makes no rational or legal sense. The court never actually supports -- using our laws and our constitution -- the notion that our governor has this executive privilege, or that the rules for the President should apply to our governor. They just assert, with no rational basis, that the federal standard should be our standard. The court explicitly takes away the rights of the people without justifying it from the law of the people.

Essentially, the court thinks the governor should have such privilege, therefore, the governor does have such privilege, and damn the details. It's yet another example of how many statists simply hate the rule of law: where they want something the law disallows, they simply ignore the law and make something up that sounds good to people who aren't thinking.

I've been saying it for more than two years, and even though the math is completely clear, people still don't get it: hitting the debt limit does not mean default. We have more than enough money to service the debt. If we service the debt, we do not default.

What Jack Lew and President Obama are mostly doing is explicitly claiming that failing to pay for various "obligations" is "default." But they are simply lying. They talk about our credit rating, but that is related to actual default on our public debt, not the new definition of "default" they are inventing.

Now, it is true that we do not get revenues on the same schedule as we need to pay the debt service, which could mean that we don't have enough revenues right away to pay debt service right away, but that just means we need to manage the incoming revenues to make sure we have enough for the debt when it comes due (which is harder than it sounds, but not a lot harder, but that's another discussion). Some also claim the President does not have the power to prioritize payments for the debt. That is simply untrue, but to get rid of all doubt, the House passed a simple bill giving explicit authority to do such prioritization. The Democrats refuse to agree to it, apparently just so they can continue to falsely claim they are not allowed to prioritize.

There is only one possible way to default on our debt: through the explicit choice of the President. If we default, it is literally because President Obama chose for us to default.

I am not the only one who can do simple math. Moody's apparently can, too. "We believe the government would continue to pay interest and principal on its debt even in the event that the debt limit is not raised, leaving its creditworthiness intact. ... The debt limit restricts government expenditures to the amount of its incoming revenues; it does not prohibit the government from servicing its debt. There is no direct connection between the debt limit (actually the exhaustion of the Treasury's extraordinary measures to raise funds) and a default." (emphasis added)

That's not to say there is no problem with running out of debt. But default is a choice. We will not default, because Obama will not choose to default, because not only would it be economically bad, it would also violate the Constitution. But if we do default, it is literally entirely on the President and his explicit choice to default.

"Connection refused." That's all the state will tell you if you're trying to buy insurance today, at http://www.wahealthplanfinder.org/. Compare this to yesterday's article claiming, Washington state health exchange ready to launch. They're ... not worried about being overwhelmed by consumer phone calls or Internet traffic ... when the exchange opens. ... "This is a long-awaited step forward for our country and our state," Gov. Jay Inslee said Monday during a news conference in Olympia. "Despite the shenanigans happening in Washington, D.C., today, we're ready to go in the state of Washington tomorrow."

"Connection refused." That seems like an apt metaphor to me, on multiple levels. Of course, like my web client's message not getting through to their servers, the Democrats are not getting the message that most people don't want this, or they want it delayed, or think it is unacceptable for them to shut down government just because most people will blame the Republicans. But it's also an apt metaphor regarding the fact that not enough doctors exist to handle the number of new patients: despite the lies told about how everyone is able to get health care, what is really happening is that you are forced to buy a product (perhaps subsidized by other taxpayers) that will pay for some of your health care, but cannot even guarantee you'll be able to see a doctor at all.

"Connection refused." indeed.

P.S. Why is the exchange a ".org" instead of a ".gov"? Are they trying to hide the fact that government is controlling this faux market?

The American Form of Government

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MSNBC host Chris Matthews said today on Meet the Press, to moderator David Gregory:

I was watching your discussion. And you made the points about how ObamaCare, Affordable Care Act, had been passed by the House, by the Senate, signed by the President, reviewed by the Supreme Court, and then the President got re-elected on that very issue.

The thing that was-- watching that discussion, Senator Cruz talks as if there should be a final test that you have to get through before a law goes into effect. In other words, a final vote, whether it's on debt ceiling or whatever, or on the shutdown of the government, sort of a final look at the law and say, "Well, should really let it go into effect even before it's set to go into effect?"

That's not really our American form of government. You outlined the American form of government, the test by which we submit any new legislation, and it's submitted, the President signs it, it's reviewed by the courts, it's the law.

A few notes. First, the House didn't get re-elected, in large part on this very issue: the passage of "ObamaCare" is a big reason why the House changed from Democratic to Republican, and then why the Republican House got re-elected two years later. Matthews appears to be implying that Obama's re-election gives more weight to whether "ObamaCare" should be implemented than the House's switching control the Republicans, and then them winning re-election, but that's patent nonsense.

Second, yes, "ObamaCare" is the law of the land. On the other hand, so are the many mandates Obama is delaying, and he is arguably breaking the law in delaying them without congressional approval. And how is that when he delays things without legal authority he's a hero, but when Republicans try to delay things a proper legal way, they are terrorists and racists and rapists?

Third, while it is the law of the land, what is not the proper law of the land is the funding of "ObamaCare" in fiscal year 2014, which begins Tuesday. Only the Congress for fiscal year 2014 can authorize spending for fiscal year 2014, no matter what "ObamaCare" says. In fact, Chris Matthews is completely wrong: whenever you ask for money from Congress, you are necessarily taking another look at the law and asking if you want it to go into effect. Every single time. That's the same with Medicare, and the war in Afghanistan, and anything else that needs funding from the Congress. The Congress is continually looking at laws and asking whether we want them to go into effect, every time funding for them comes up.

In short, Matthews is accidentally right that there is no "final look at the law," but there's an annual look at the law.

That is why James Madison wrote in Federalist 58, "The House of Representatives cannot only refuse, but they alone can propose, the supplies requisite for the support of government. They, in a word, hold the purse that powerful instrument by which we behold, in the history of the British Constitution, an infant and humble representation of the people gradually enlarging the sphere of its activity and importance, and finally reducing, as far as it seems to have wished, all the overgrown prerogatives of the other branches of the government. This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure."

(And make no mistake: Madison is actually talking about the House wielding the power to shrink the size of government and to threaten completely shutting down the government here, and he says that normally in such an impasse, the House can, will, and should, win the day.)

Yes, the House previously voted for "ObamaCare." But we literally have a new House, a different one from the one we had then, and funding for "ObamaCare" has to go through not just the previous House, but every following House. That, Mr. Matthews, is the actual American form of government, and it always has been.

A reminder: the Democrats are blaming the Republicans for potentially shutting down the government. The donkeys doth protest too much. In fact, the truth is precisely the opposite: the Democrats are the ones threatening to shut down government.

The key to understanding what's actually going on is to understand the fundamental nature of the American bicameral legislature, in that both houses of the legislature must agree to something in order for it to happen. A Yes and a No are not equivalent: No beats Yes. That is the design. That is how it works. So if you want the IRS to give out free puppy food, and I don't, then I win. We both have to agree to it, or it doesn't happen.

But the Democrats are saying that if the Senate wanted the IRS to fund puppy food, and the House said no, then any Senate failure to act on the rest of the government funding is the House's fault. Saying "you knew we would not act on any bill that doesn't include puppy food funding, so it's your fault we didn't vote to fund government" is pure nonsense.

Again, the side saying No is in the superior position, so there's simply no rational way to look at this and say it is the House's or Republicans' fault if government shuts down.

And you might say that we shouldn't get to this point, that there should be negotiations. Yes, which makes it even more clear that the Democrats are to blame, since Harry Reid and Barack Obama promise that they will continue to refuse to negotiate about it.

The House passed a bill to fund government. There is nothing in the American system that says the Senate has any authority or obligation to demand the House include funding for anything that isn't in that bill. They can ask, but the simple answer at the end of the day is that No beats Yes.

Setting aside the particular issue of "ObamaCare," the House very clearly has the high ground here. The Senate under Harry Reid -- and not the House under John Boehner -- is threatening to allow the government to go unfunded, by refusing to allow the House its constitutional duty to refuse to fund what it wishes to not fund.

How to Tell Me You Are Ignorant

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Tell me that Trayvon Martin, a violent and drug-abusing thug, whom the record shows likely attacked George Zimmerman -- a man without any evidence of racism in him, who helped people of all races, including donating his time to tutor black children -- without provocation, was somehow a murder victim and a symbol of racism.

Tell me that the Martin/Zimmerman incident had anything whatsoever to do with "stand your ground" laws.

Tell me that the removal of section 4 of the Voting Rights Act violates anyone's civil rights, when -- literally and explicitly -- section 4 itself violated everyone's civil rights, by taking away their essential right to choose their own government to write and pass their own laws.

Tell me that (as President Obama said recently) that "the marketplace" is bad, without government to direct it; that government "empowers" us to fix the market's flaws and reduce poverty. For bonus points, argue (as President Obama said recently) that everything bad in the economy is the fault of "the marketplace" while simultaneously claiming that government has been active within the economy for many years, and it would be "extreme" to reverse that trend.

Tell me that the number of bills Congress has passed is a rational measure of how good a Congress is. For bonus points, tell me that the number of bills matters, but the number of pages in those bills doesn't.

Tell me that Republicans are anti-women just because they are against aborting the lives of unborn, living, human children.

Tell me that universal background checks will have an impact on violent crime, even though the data denies this claim (legally purchased guns without background checks -- the only gun transfers that would be affected by such a law -- make up a tiny percentage of the guns used in violent crimes: almost all guns used in violent crimes are obtained legally with background checks, or illegally).

There's many ways you can tell me that you are ignorant. These are just a few.

Right to Hire

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Right to Work is a funny thing.

It means you have the right to work without being forced to join a union. That sounds good to conservatives, but usually it's the employer, not the government, requiring the union membership. Shouldn't the employer have the right of association, and the right to have its employees have certain credentials?

When the government *is* the employer, conservatives are unanimous in their opposition. Union proponents such as FDR and even George Meany, former leader of the AFL-CIO, recognize that it makes no real sense. There's unresolvable conflicts of interest, there's no benefit to the government and the people it represents, and it obviously and clearly violates the freedom of the employee.

So it's not that conservatives think employees should not be forced to join a union, it's more that we believe governments should be barred from collectively bargaining with unions at all. Feel free to join any union you want to -- that's your right -- but the government should not acknowledge it in any way.

But private employers? That should be their choice. If they want to be unfair to employees, if they want to have unreasonable requirements, if they want to hurt their bottom line ... that is their choice. Heck, maybe I'm wrong, and maybe unions are good for that business. That's what freedom means.

Wow, Greenwald is Dishonest

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As I mentioned in a recent post, Glenn Greenwald, sworn sword of Edward Snowden, was being dishonest when he said it was wrong for people to criticize Snowden for claiming "I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authority to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president if I had a personal email." Snowden had no such authority, and people saying he was wrong were correct. He may have had capability, but not authority.

In a new article, Greenwald cites that quote, and then writes:

US officials vehemently denied this specific claim. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, said of Snowden's assertion: "He's lying. It's impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do." ... But XKeyscore provides the technological capability, if not the legal authority, to target even US persons for extensive electronic surveillance without a warrant provided that some identifying information, such as their email or IP address, is known to the analyst.

There's just one problem: when Greenwald quoted Snowden, he left out the words "certainly had the authority to," which were at the heart of many of the criticisms of that statement. Greenwald's rendering is: "I, sitting at my desk," said Snowden, could "wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email".

But many of the politicians and intelligence officials explicitly said that the program was not a problem because Snowden and anyone else did not have any such authority. So Greenwald excises the part where Snowden says he had the authority, actually changing the common understanding of what Snowden said by making it a statement of capability rather than of legal authority, and then criticizes people as liars for saying Snowden was wrong, while at the same time admitting Snowden's words (if not his meaning) was wrong.

Again: I am not defending the NSA or politicians here who lie about the program. But Greenwald does his liege lord no favors by dishonestly misrepresenting his words in order to make criticisms against him look much less reasonable.

President Obama attacked the pursuit of "phony scandals" as distracting the nation. When pressed for how the IRS scandal is "phony," when it is clear that the IRS was wasting tax dollars asking illegal questions of many groups, such that Obama himself said this was a major problem that needed to be fixed, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said this weekend that the phony part was trying to claim that top political officials were influencing the IRS malfeasance. But the overwhelming majority of work by Congress on the issue is just trying to uncover the facts, facts which have been protected by Obama's own people pleading the Fifth.

Calling it a phony scandal because a tiny minority of people and effort is spent on political office motivations for the scandal is nonsense, designed to fool people who don't know better into thinking the whole thing is phony, while retaining "plausible" (in the minds of the media, anyway) deniability that he is saying what he said.

Also this weekend, and along similar lines, Lew was talking about the great progress we've made in cutting the deficit. In response to interviewer Chris Wallace's question about how the President can work with Republicans on spending money on more programs while the Republicans still think we have a deficit problem, Lew said: "Chris, I think that if you look at where we are today, you have to realize we're not where we were in 2011. We've actually worked together, it's been a messy process, but we've worked together and we've reduced the deficit considerably. In the Budget Control Act, we reduced the deficit on the discretionary spending side. This year, at the beginning of the year, we enacted some tax legislation that raised the tax rate of the very top for the highest income."

Note that the cited Budget Control Act was what implemented sequestration. His point was that the two sides have both worked to accomplish the goal of deficit reduction, and even though it wasn't the best way to do it, it got done, and they should move on and start spending money again.

Lew later in the interview said, regarding the exact same Budget Control Act: "The surprising thing is, that, you know, a couple of years after, everyone agreed this was bad policy, there are people who are now claiming credit for things that were designed to be bad policy and senseless across the board cuts. That's truly surprising."

Yeah. That just happened. Lew claimed credit for making progress on cutting the deficit with the BCA, and then said it is surprising that anyone is taking credit for the BCA.

Shifting gears slightly, Glenn Greenwald, the sworn sword of Edward Snowden, attacked the intelligence establishment again, in reference to the response to Snowden's claim that "I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authority to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president if I had a personal email." The establishment called it a lie, and Greenwald says, no, it is true, because, "all an analyst has to do is enter an email address or an IP address, and it ... searches that database and lets them listen to the calls or read the emails of everything that the NSA has stored ... with no need to go to a court. ... There are legal constraints for how you can spy on Americans. You can't target them without going to the FISA court, but these systems allow analysts to listen to whatever emails they want, whatever telephone calls, browsing histories, Microsoft Word documents."

So what Greenwald is saying is that, in fact, Snowden did not have the authority he claimed. He had the ability, he had the power, he had the capability, but he did not have the authority. And Greenwald, a lawyer, knows the difference between authority and capability, and even used the word properly elsewhere in the interview ("the NSA has exceeded even the legal authority that it acknowledges it has").

I am not saying the intelligence officials aren't lying. We know they have lied, and it seems that they have claimed that Snowden did not have such "capability," which by Greenwald's reporting is false. Indeed, Senator Chambliss remarkably said, "... I have been assured ... that there is no capability at NSA for anyone without a court order to listen to any telephone conversation or to monitor any e-mail." But that makes no sense, because the capability has to exist without the court order, unless you build a system where the court order literally unlocks access the specific part of the database the court order refers to, and we have no indication such a system exists at any level of government.

But even Greenwald's own claims back up the idea that Snowden did not, as he claimed, have the authority to do what he said.

In a surprising statement Friday, during unannounced remarks about the George Zimmerman / Trayvon Martin trial, President Obama said "we might want to examine" so-called "Stand Your Ground" laws only if they allowed behavior they don't actually allow, thereby dealing a terrible blow to not only much of the left wing of American politics, but also Obama's own Attorney General, calling into question how long A.G. Eric Holder had left at the top DOJ post.

Obama said, "I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened? And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws."

Of course, the answer to that question is not remotely ambiguous: stand your ground laws only allow someone to use deadly force in self-defense, not because they merely feel threatened. "Stand Your Ground" laws have nothing directly to do with whether self-defense is warranted in a given situation, only whether you have an obligation to retreat before self-defense is necessary. These laws never allow for the use of force due to merely feeling threatened. This is a clear matter of law, and the President, being one of the most brilliant attorneys the world has ever seen, surely knows this, and this was therefore no mere slip of the tongue: Obama gave his unequivocal support for "Stand Your Ground" laws.

NRA and Video Games

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Wayne LaPerriere says, "Isn't fantasizing about killing people, as a way to get your kicks, really the filthiest form of pornography?"

I don't understand how it is pornography; but is it filthy, or bad? Isn't that what almost every little boy does: gets "kicks" by playing games about killing people? Cowboys and Indians, little green army men, whatever it is ... that is what many of our species (mostly boys, but not all boys and including many girls) just naturally do, and I think there's probably a natural evolutionary reason why: because through play, we prepare ourselves with skills we might need in real life.

Maybe you could argue that as adults, we should no longer do such things, but I don't see any basis for this claim. We play throughout our lives.

Fantasies are not real, obviously. We seem to mostly understand that, but what we don't seem to get is that most of us do not want our fantasies to be real. Whether it is clouds that taste like cotton candy or killing hundreds of cops in a video game or something more adult, we want these things to remain fantasies. Our fantasies have implications for real life, but they are not real life and we do not want them to be.

I consider that maybe we should worry about people who do not have fantasies that couldn't be realized. If you have no fantasies, or all of your fantasies are just real life, then it seems to me your mind is not growing and learning.

But the real problem is not the people who fantasize about violence, nor those who do not fantasize, but rather people who want their fantasies -- whatever they are -- to be real. People who reject their real life, who want to recreate reality to match their dreams, are the issue. This is not just where we get certain types of killers, but even more mundane, but still tragic, societal problems like broken families: people see fantasies about what their lives could be and reject their current lives for a fantasy that will never be realized.

Again, we get back to mental health and the isolation of modern life, where people have problems with reality, and don't have a structure of people around them to give them the help or outlets or doses of reality that they need. And yes, video games can be an outlet for such people, but they do not create such people. Video games at worst are a symptom, not the disease, nor a cause of the disease, nor even a catalyst for an expressing of the disease.

On Gay Marriage

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Up front, I want to reiterate (for those who haven't followed me on this before, or who have fogotten) that I am not in favor of government restrictions on marriage. To me, the only two proper positions are getting government out of the marriage system entirely, or opening up government marriage to any pair of unmarried consenting adults. Therefore, I oppose both sides to the marriage debate. I think DOMA is wrong, and I think the state laws that legalize gay marriage, but keep marriage between close blood relations illegal, wrong.

But deeper than my hatred of such government restrictions on marriage, is my hatred of tortured legal decisions that are clearly designed to reach a particular outcome, while ignoring the rule of law. And that's what we've got here, with the DOMA decision.

I agree with the Prop. 8 decision. I agree Prop. 8 is arguably unconstitutional, because of the equal protection claims, but I would find a law legalizing gay marriage to be equally unconstitutional, as it would similarly discriminate against other marriages. But regardless, the petitioners had no standing. Only Roberts and Scalia were consistent in this. The dissenters -- including Kennedy, Alito, and Thomas -- said that the point of the California initiative process is to bypass public officials. But that puts no burden on the federal courts to intervene: if the California government refuses to defend the voter initiative, then the California voters should pick new people to represent them in that government. That is not the federal court's concern.

On DOMA, we have a similar issue: President Obama refused to defend DOMA in Court. That necessarily means that the Court should not have heard the case, because there was literally no dispute before it. The case's name is United States v. Windsor, but in effect, the case decided on was United States and Windsor, because both parties agreed with the lower court's ruling.

And the argument for DOMA was similarly nonsensical. It doesn't actually make a case for unconstitutionality. It claims that the purpose of DOMA is to punish or harm gay couples, and uses that falsehood as a jumping-off point to assert that the government can't punish people for such things, therefore it's wrong: "By seeking to injure the very class New York seeks to protect, DOMA violates basic due process and equal protection principles." But they were not seeking to injure. The argument is obvious nonsense.

The other half of the argument was that DOMA was so broad and spilled over into the states, it couldn't be justified, but somehow that argument didn't fly in regard to a much broader law, the Affordable Care Act. And even if this were the case, they could have struck down only the portion of the law that intruded onto state responsibilities, and left alone the part that was strictly regarding federal responsibilities (federal taxes and so forth).

It's hard to see how Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan would have applied the same reasoning to other state vs. federal power disputes. The ACA is one obvious example. Also consider a case of the EPA vs. a state law to protect property rights from the EPA.

What's absolutely clear here is that on both the issue of standing, and on the constitutionality question, the majority just feared being on the "wrong side of history," and threw out the rule of law to achieve their desired ends. And that -- not the legalizing of gay marriage at the federal level -- is the scary part of this decision.

In response to the Supreme Court's decision today to strike down an unjust law -- a law which said that people are punished for election discrimination done 50 years ago by other people -- Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) announced the "Right to Vote Amendment." You may be thinking, "don't I already have the right to vote?" Yes, you do. But it is arguable that the right is not explicit in the Constitution (I'll save that discussion for another time). Therefore, the first section of the amendment:

SECTION 1: Every citizen of the United States, who is of legal voting age, shall have the fundamental right to vote in any public election held in the jurisdiction in which the citizen resides.

Seems straightforward enough. As does the second, and last, section:

SECTION 2: Congress shall have the power to enforce and implement this article by appropriate legislation.

I was all set to support this amendment -- I agree everyone has the right to vote, I don't mind it being made more explicit, and I like the idea of amending the Constitution more often -- until it struck me: why put this amendment out now? Saying every adult has the right to vote doesn't have any bearing on the recent Supreme Court decision. It's assumed in the decision that everyone has the right to vote. The first section has no relevance to the decision.

It's the second section that matters. What the proponents of the amendment will do is use this second section to argue that any law the Congress comes up with, including one that enforces perpetual discrimination against Southern states, is valid so long as its goal is to enforce the fundamental right to vote.

I don't think it would actually change the Supreme Court's decision, had this amendment already been law. But I dislike the attempt.

Venture capitalist Nick Hanauer is leading the effort to give us universal background checks for gun sales in Washington.

Hanauer says, ""We want to keep guns out of the hands of people that are dangerous criminals or insane." That's fine. We all want that. But there is no reason to think universal background checks will do that. The data shows that only a tiny, tiny percentage of guns purchased through legal means but without background checks are purchased by people who cannot legally own them, and the black market for guns dwarfs this so-called "grey market."

That didn't stop him from saying that anyone who disagrees with him -- that is, people who can read the data -- are "irresponsible."

This isn't the first time that Hanauer has ignored the data to push his agenda, and lied about it. Last year, Hanauer -- in a widely viewed talk at TED -- showed a graph that supposedly demonstrated that as wealthy people get lower tax rates, unemployment increases. It shows the two data points in 1995 and and 2009, and then a bunch of data points in between, and sure enough, unemployment was consistently up while wealthy tax rates consistently fell.

The problem is that the data in between 1995 and 2009 were completely made up. The numbers were wholly fabricated. You can see the fake data and real data side-by-side, and tell that actually, tax rates and unemployment were on similar trajectories for most of those years: they fell together until about 2000, increased together during that recession, fell together during the recovery (although tax rates started falling sooner), and then rose together during the next recession (although unemployment rose much faster).

I didn't even remember this was the same guy when I heard Hanauer on TV the other night, lying about how the universal background checks would keep guns out of the hands of bad people, and defaming people as irresponsible if they disagreed with him. But now that I remembered he's the same guy who told such a baldfaced lie about effective tax rates vs unemployment to millions of people, well, I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

If you haven't heard yet, there's a fellow on trial in the City of Brotherly Love who is accused of the most unbrotherly behavior: callously murdering newborn babies. Not "fetuses," but live born babies outside of the womb. Usually the result of a botched abortion, these babies would come out breathing, moving, sometimes even playing with the staff, and then Gosnell and his staff would sever their necks and kill them.

Yes, really. This isn't about abortion, it's about killing live and healthy born babies. It's sickening and gruesome. And that is part of why the media has largely ignored the story, because the actions of Kermit Gosnell and his staff are so horrifying to the overwhelming majority of Americans.

But there's another reason: the story undermines many of the arguments offered by some prominent pro-choice advocates, and the media, being pro-choice advocates, are afraid to take it on. It's not that they agree with Gosnell, but they literally fear where this story leads, and for very good cause.

We've been told for years that botched abortions are rare; that when they do happen, and the babies are born, that they are treated as patients and saved whenever possible; and, most of all, that a pre-born baby human is significantly different in proper legal staus from one of the same development that has been born: that it is justified to kill a 33-week old "fetus," who if born gets all our legal protections.

Many pro-choice advocates recognize these falsehoods, and therefore oppose late-term abortions. They draw different lines -- some choose heartbeats or brain waves, some choose certain actions and instincts, some pick a certain calendar date -- but most of them think there is a line other than, as Kirsten Powers put it, "geography": simply being in or out of the mother's womb. Most people recognize that this is not only an irrational way to define human life or to decide who gets human rights, but it's also terribly damaging to society to so arbitrarily define humanity, in the same way that slavery was: it's a corrupting sickness that affects us all, in how we see other people in society, and it has unexpected and terrible effects ... such as, justifying severing the necks of born, healthy, babies.

While I would love for abortions to end soon, that is perhaps a vain hope. But what realistically might come out of this is some permanent line-drawing of "how late is too late."

The left likes to drum up false solutions to problems all the time: gun bans and background checks and so on that, based on the facts, would have had no impact on the lives they say they are motivated to protect. But here we have lives being lost that can be saved, if we collectively not only go after people like Gosnell, but come together on more specific lines to draw.

Arlene's Flowers in Richland, WA, is being sued by WA Attorney General Bob Ferguson for refusing to provide services for a gay wedding.

Ferguson claims, "Under the Consumer Protection Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against customers based on sexual orientation. If a business provides a product or service to opposite-sex couples for their weddings, then it must provide same sex couples the same product or service."

Where does the law say this? I've never heard it before. I've heard that it is illegal to make hiring decisions based on sexual orientation, as well as housing decisions. But all products and services? I can't find it anywhere in the law.

Further, she is clearly not discriminating against the customer for their sexual orientation, per se, but discriminating against the event, which isn't the same thing. If they wanted to purchase her flowers they could (in fact, they did!), but providing them for an event is different, and again, I see nothing in the law backing Ferguson's claims.

And if it is in the law (which I doubt), it violates the First Amendment's protection of the right to association (which is implied by the rights to assemble and petition, which implies a right to not associate). It's one thing to force a business to sell a product, but when the florist is associated explicitly with an event, that association says something about her, to the public at large, and if she doesn't want to be associated with that event, it's absolutely her right to not be.

Ferguson's off to a terrible start as Attorney General: forcing a private business owner to associate herself with something she disagrees with can never be considered a good or reasonable thing, especially in a free country.

Pure Food Parity Act

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Concerning retail availability for the voluntary genetic modification of a food product.

If a retail establishment provides for the purchasing of non-genetically modified foods, the establishment must also provide a customer with the ability to purchase substantially equivalent genetically modified foods. A retail establishment may not limit in any way a customer's access to genetically modified food.

As John Koster reaches his term limit on the Snohomish County Council, Ken Klein, Arlington City Councilman, is running for the seat. He's been a great public servant on the county's planning commission, and as a member of the city council. Come to his Campaign Kickoff Breakfast this Saturday, March 16. RSVP today!

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court of Washington said that only a simple majority can be constitutionally required to pass a law, regardless of repeated voter initiatives signalling a clear majority of voters want a two-thirds requirement to increase taxes.

I find the reasoning specious, as does a third of the Court. Indeed, the Court says something puzzling to defend its claim, that "[Whether to require a supermajority for the passage of tax legislation] is left to the legislative branch of our government. Should the people and the legislature still wish to require a supermajority vote for tax legislation, they must do so through constitutional amendment, not through legislation."

But the people are the legislative branch. It's right there at the top of Article II: "The legislative authority of the state of Washington shall be vested in the legislature, consisting of a senate and house of representatives, which shall be called the legislature of the state of Washington, but the people reserve to themselves the power to propose bills, laws, and to enact or reject the same at the polls, independent of the legislature, and also reserve power, at their own option, to approve or reject at the polls any act, item, section, or part of any bill, act, or law passed by the legislature."

If the legislature can make a rule requiring a two-thirds vote, then so can the people.

Anyway, the main point is the latter part: guess what's coming next? You can bet your bottom tax dollar that we'll have a constitutional amendment on the table soon, to put this thrice-passed initiative into the state constitution.

And thankfully, with Republicans controlling the Senate with a few anti-tax Democrats, we won't see tax increases any time soon, regardless.

Sequestration

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There's this idea out there that the sequester and its effects are the fault of Republicans. No one following along thinks that, but it's the majority opinion.

In early 2011, the debt limit was going to be reached within the year. President Obama knew this was coming, and should have reduced spending early in the year to prepare for the fact that the law said he couldn't borrow any more money.

Instead, Obama spent as though there would be no limit. He said it was Congress' job to increase the limit, even though he had voted against doing it as a Senator, and told many lies about how not increasing it was going to result in default, even though we had enough money to pay for all mandatory spending.

They did come to an agreement on the debt limit, thanks to Obama promising two things: that there would be automatic cuts if they didn't come to an agreement on deficit reduction. Stated all along was that we need a "balanced" approach, with both tax increases and spending cuts.

So fast forward to 2012, and Obama saying the sequester is a terrible idea that came from the Republicans, and doing other antagonizing of the Republicans that seems designed to push them away, so they would be less likely to want to make a deal. And then in early 2013, the Republicans agreed to spending increases, getting absolutely nothing in return. Obama said he "fulfilled a major campaign promise" by getting the tax increase. Republicans said that this was understood to be the tax increase portion of a deal, and now it was time to work on the spending cuts.

So now we're looking at the deadline to avoid the sequester, and the Repulicans have made several proposals, including to change nothing except to fund certain things that would otherwise be cut, and to cut spending more intelligently. Obama has rejected everything that does not include another tax increase.

And let's not also forget that every single cut that has been announced is a choice. The amounts cut are mandatory, but how they are applied is a choice. Every time someone says "we have to cut teacher pay" or "we have to do this or that," they're lying. They are making a choice about what to cut, and it seems like -- just as Obama is trying to antagonize Republicans into not making a deal by lying about them nearly every day -- Obama is picking cuts designed to make the public angry. The Republicans even offered a proposal to make those choices easier and smarter, and Obama rejected it.

Obama is saying the Republicans came up with the sequester, even though he did. Obama is saying the Republicans won't concede to a tax increase to avoid sequester, even though they did just last month. Obama is saying the Republicans are to blame for no agreement, holding the country "hostage," even though Republicans have made explicitly balanced offers and Obama rejects them.

There's no question that Obama deserves the overwhelming majority of the blame here. He is lying about the lack of tax increases, lying about specific cuts being necessary, and apparently doing anything he can to avoid a deal. Either he doesn't want a deal, or he is doing a great job of pretending he doesn't want a deal.

Indeed, even Democrats are pointing out that because most Americans are blaming Republicans, the President has no real reason to come to an agreement. So avoiding the "pain" of a sequester is not reason enough for him, apparently. It's a bizarre thing: Obama is acting like he wants sequestration, and is responsible for almost every part of how we got here, but everyone is still blaming Republicans.

As I've said, I am open to having the sequestration. If they won't cut spending on their own, this is a good start. It's a terribly dumb way to cut, but it's better than not cutting. But I think Obama wants sequestration a lot more than I do.

Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat was shocked, shocked to find that Washington Senate Democrats actually are trying to send cops to inspect your home if you own a gun.

The provision of SB 5737 -- sponsored by Democratic Senators Adam Kline, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, and Ed Murray, designed to ban the sale of assault weapons -- states, "In order to continue to possess an assault weapon that was legally possessed on the effective date of this section, the person possessing shall ... safely and securely store the assault weapon. The sheriff of the county may, no more than once per year, conduct an inspection to ensure compliance with this subsection."

Kline says he didn't know that was in the bill. "I made a mistake. ... I frankly should have vetted this more closely."

Well, that's funny to me, because I recall a certain SB 6396 in 2010, which Kline and Kohl-Welles sponsored, which, regarding "safe storage" of assault weapons, read: "The sheriff of the county may, no more than once per year, conduct an inspection to ensure compliance with this subsection."

Oh, and then there's SB 5475, also sponsored by Kline and Kohl-Welles, which on the same topic, read: "The sheriff of the county may, no more than once per year, conduct an inspection to ensure compliance with this subsection."

Danny, can we please not pretend this was accidental? Three bills, two sponsors, all about banning assault weapons, all giving sheriffs the power to inspect homes ... Klein didn't make a mistake. He simply lied about it when you pointed it out. If I knew the predecessor to this bill said the same basic thing three years ago, is it really reasonable to think Klein and Kohl-Welles, who sponsored both, didn't know?

And while we're not pretending, can we admit the bill is nonsense even without this provision? People would still have and get these guns, and would still be able to buy new guns that are functionally equivalent to the ones that would be banned. There are many pistols and rifles that fire the same bullets at the same velocity and same rate that would not be banned by this bill and would be available for similar prices. It cannot possibly have any effect on gun deaths. It's the opposite of "common sense" legislation.

On the Voting Rights Act

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There is a movement to repeal a small part of the Voting Rights Act, Section 5. Known as "preclearance," it is institutionalized discrimination against jurisdictions found to have been previously guilty of discrimination.

On its face, it is a silly law to maintain today. It says that for such jurisdictions, any changes to voting laws that are different from the laws on November 1, 1964, must be approved by the Attorney General. While this may have made sense at the time, it hardly makes sense today to think that Alabama must get Eric Holder's permission to change its voting laws just because it discriminated against minorities 50 years ago: Alabama had an illegal voting test which resulted in low registration and turnout among black citizens.

There is no reason or sense in saying that Alabama, due entirely to circumstances from 50 years ago, should be required to get federal permission to change its laws, while most other states do not.

But the real problem here, I think, is that Holder has abused this power. He has rejected attempts by states to change laws that he simply doesn't like, that he says -- without any serious justification -- would reduce minority voting turnout, such as requiring photo IDs at the polls. My state requires photo IDs at the polls, but because we didn't discriminate against blacks in the 1960s, that's OK?

It's time to end preclearance, and stop punitively holding southern states as lesser than the rest.

State Rep. Mike Hope (R-44) is a co-sponsor of H.B. 1588, which would subject all firearm transfers to background checks, effectively making it illegal for me to sell a gun to my dad or brother unless I pay money to, and ask permission from, the goverment.

Folks like Danny Westneat think this is a great idea, because people buy and sell guns under I-5 without knowing if the person might be a convicted felon. But I've asked many people -- including Rep. Hope -- for evidence that this bill, or one like it, would actually prevent any significant number of felons from procuring guns, and so far, I've gotten nothing but silence.

What the bill certainly would do is put a burden on many law-abiding citizens: not only would they have to wait some indeterminate amount of time to sell the gun, but they would have to pay money, and risk a flaw in the system denying them the purchase. It would have a serious impact on people who aren't breaking the law, immediately.

The odd thing to me is that Hope, through correspondence to me from his state legislature e-mail account, says he would not vote for this bill as written, even though he is sponsoring it.

He says he will propose amendments for guns transferred from parents to children, exempt law enforcement officers and concealed-carry permit holders, and so on, and that without at least some changes, he will vote against it.

But like Westneat, he thinks the bill will help keep guns out of the hands of felons. I don't believe that, and I see no serious argument or evidence for that. Those felons are already violating the law if they are buying guns at all, and while this law would also make the seller culpable, there's no reason I can see to think that sellers for these felons wouldn't still exist, and be relatively easy to find.

Stop Living in Fear

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I hear all the time from anti-gun folks that people who "cling" to their guns (and religion) are living in fear.

In my experience, it's precisely the opposite. I don't live in any sort of fear. But almost without exception, the same folks who tell me to stop living in fear are extremely afraid of normal people with guns. Case in point is Oak Harbor Councilman Rick Almberg.

During a hearing last week, citizen Lucas Yonkman identified himself as a military veteran and said he carries his concealed weapon at all times. Almberg asked him if he was currently carrying a weapon. Yonkman, under no obligation to answer, volunteered that he was. Almberg then made an illegal motion that anyone carrying a gun check it with the police, or leave the premesis.

State law preempts local law on guns. Seattle tried to ban guns from city-owned land, and it was shot down for the same reason. You can't do that. It's illegal, and literally a civil rights violation.

But it also demonstrates the irrational fear that is pervasive among many anti-gun folks. Here's a guy who always carries a weapon, who was trained by our government in the use of it, who has no known history of mental illness or criminal violence or lawbreaking. There is simply no rational reason to think he might use his weapon inappropriately, and therefore no rational reason to be concerned that he has a weapon.

I've been told that by carrying a gun I am demonstrating that I am afraid of my fellow man. That's like saying that because I have a spare tire in my car, I am afraid of a flat tire. I am simply prepared for what might happen, nothing more. I have no feelings one way or another. But these people are quite explicitly afraid of their fellow man. They believe a known individual who possesses the ability to cause harm is likely to do so. Despite no evidence that this individual might cause harm, despite the fact that millions of citizens carry guns every day without causing harm, they retain this irrational fear of their fellow man.

Stop living in fear: embrace your fellow man, even if he is armed.

"Give Up on the Constitution"

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Georgetown Professor Louis Michael Seidman says we should not follow the Constitution, but doesn't give any actual reasons why. The reasons he gives for why it is bad to follow the Constitution are actually good.

He's also flatly incorrect about several things.

Right off the bat, he incorrectly says that if a President had "doubts" about the Constitution, this is equivalent to "Constitutional disobedience." Obviously, no, it's not. He further says some Presidents "disobeyed" the Constitution "when it got in their way," which is also incorrect: while this happened sometimes, it was never, for any President -- including Obama -- the normal course of action.

He incorrectly claims that a President can be someone that someone "rejected by a majority of the American people" can be elected President, but since we do not actually have a popular vote, we obviously cannot know that a majority of people reject him (since many people in a particular state might not vote at all, or vote for someone else than their favored candidate, because the person who wins that state is already settled, such as in Texas or New York or California, etc.), even if the votes cast for that winner constituted a majority of the American people, which they do not.

He also incorrectly claims that the rule of law means following the Constitution's provisions "because a bunch of people who are now long-dead favored them two centuries ago." No, we do so because the rights he calls "important and inspiring" are only guaranteed through adherence to that rule of law, and if we arbitrarily ignore what he calls "not so inspiring," we lose the guarantee of everything else.

I agree with him that we should not have natural-born citizenship as a requirement for the Presidency, but he gives no argument that we should simply ignore this, rather than amend the Constitution to change it.

His primary example, though, is gun control. He says that instead of having debate about what is best for the country today, we turn it over to lawyers and judges to discuss whether the Constitution allows it. I'm going to turn his question back on him: So what? That is why we have the Second Amendment, to explicitly undermine the idea that taking away gun rights could be a legitimate exercise of the powers of the government.

And yes, when someone tries to take away my rights, the "temperature" of the discussion increases. He may see that as needless, but I see it as a natural way to ensure that my rights don't go down without a fight.

He doesn't say why this is bad, he just asserts that it is. Why not put the First Amendment under the same "debate"? There's many times in our history when a majority of people would've been in favor of taking away some or all First Amendment rights. It's only because we didn't "give up on the Constitution" that the First Amendment stands today.

The fact is -- and it's another way in which the Georgetown professor is incorrect -- we do not "allow people who died over two centuries ago and knew nothing of our country as it exists today" to "rule us." We make choices about whether or not to alter or abolish the government that's been given to us.

What he's missing, though, is that these people foresaw a time when rights they believed were important, would be spat upon by others, and so it takes some extra-democratic effort to do so. This is the only way in which we can reasonably guarantee the "important and inspiring" provisions we all hold dear. That it is hard to violate the Second Amendment, that a mere democratic majority cannot do so, is a good thing.

Obama's Gun Proposals

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So far Obama has announced three broad proposals to the legislature regarding guns.

1. Obama wants to ban all private sales of guns. Government must be involved in every gun sale, via a background check, even if it means selling to your child or brother.

2. Obama renews his desire, expressed in 2008, to ban "assault weapons" -- knowing full well the ban cannot possibly do anything positive -- and a limit on magazines of 10 rounds, which can at best have a very minimal positive impact.

3. Congress needs to -- very vague here -- "get tough" on gun criminals. Congress should confirm an ATF Director. Note that Obama blames Congress for the spot being empty, even though he has not appointed anyone.

Also, we should have more cops, apparently, because they stop gun crime ... although I guess he opposes guards in schools, because ... they don't stop gun crime in schools?

In other words, Obama has basically proposed nothing that will do anything significant. Frankly, even I am disappointed by the weakness of the effort here. If I were a gun-banner, I'd be livid at Obama. As a gun-lover, I am unsurprised and mildly annoyed. He spent a long time talking about how important this is, but then didn't propose anything important. The background checks and gun bans will not stop any gun crime. None. The magazine restriction might possibly, in a very few limited cases, save lives, but it will be very few if any.

He talked about people and stories and "protecting the most vulnerable" but he proposed nothing that will do anything.

The useless assault weapons ban will not pass, anyway. The background check might, but only if it includes significant protections on the data gathered by government. The magazine limit might pass, but I hope not.

No Jack Lew

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This is why I oppose Jack Lew for Treasury. He repeatedly said Obama's budget would be reducing the debt, but his own numbers showed an increase in the debt every year. He lied, both on TV shows and directly to the Senate.

Lew also, as the article shows, either lied -- or just didn't know! -- about needing 60 votes to pass a budget in the Senate.

His dishonesty, and perhaps additionally his incompetency, disqualify him from consideration. More than anything else, we need a Treasury Secretary who will be highly competent, and totally honest with the American people about our fiscal status. He has proven he is not the man for that job.

Get Ready For Big Sister

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As mentioned in the previous post, Senator Feinstein's attempts at restricting "assault weapons" makes no sense: they are just regular rifles, and the law -- by leaving many rifles legal -- cannot possibly have any effect. If I cannot buy a banned rifle, I'll buy a non-banned rifle, and it'll do the same job. No one is going to say, "oh, I can't get the Bushmaster AR-15 anymore, so I guess I won't get a rifle at all." If the shooter's mom couldn't buy a banned Bushmaster AR-15, she likely would've bought a legal Remington R-15, which would do the same thing.

It's simply a stupid ban.

But Feinstein goes further, and in a very scary direction we've never seen before. In the same NewsHour interview, she said: "Grandfathered weapons that people already have, subject those weapons either to licensing or to a trigger lock, and spell out those grandfathered weapons, which would be over 900 in the bill, so nobody can say, oh, we took our -- their hunting weapon away.".

So she won't take your gun away ... but she will try to force you to license it with the federal government. Part of the reason to have a rifle is to protect yourself from government, should that ever become necessary. Registering it with the government kinda defeats the purpose. The good thing is that she has zero chance of passing such regulation, but it's scary that she would even push for it in the first place.

Senator Dianne Feinstein is on the warpath again. Her target, once again, is certain guns, and their owners. She is not, as many politicians are, taking advantage of a bad situation (the school shooting on Friday): this is one of her lifelong major legislative efforts. She wrote the first Assault Weapons Ban and wants to bring it back, and has said so often over the years. She said it before this shooting, and is saying it again.

I do not doubt her honest zeal. I doubt her intelligence, knowledge, and ability to reason.

There is no correlation between the ban of the manufacture of these guns, and gun violence. None. Zero. And there's multiple reasons for that, but the most important one is that her law doesn't actually take away, or prevent the manufacture of, any dangerous weapons used in any crimes.

These weapons are called "assault weapons," but literally, they are just normal civilian rifles. Feinstein said on NewsHour, "I don't see how Americans can want, you know, a situation where a 20-year-old gets a gun from his mother, kills his mother, goes into a school, shoots his way through the glass, goes in and puts three to 11 bullets in 6-year-olds, 20 of them."

She continues: "... small children have a basic right to go to a school and feel safe. And these guns, because they kill large numbers of people very quickly, they aren't used for hunting, they aren't hunting weapons. You don't need them for defense. They are military-style weapons. And they don't belong in the streets of our cities or our towns."

Feinstein is, of course, being incredibly stupid and dishonest here. Of course no one "wants" that, but it is dishonest to imply that if I oppose banning those weapons then, therefore, I want that. And it is stupid or dishonest -- hard to tell which -- to imply that her proposed ban of certain firearms would do anything to prevent this. Even if it were true that these are not hunting weapons -- which is absolutely and uneuivocally false, as they are used very widely as hunting weapons -- the simple fact is that almost any hunting rifle could have been used to precisely the same effect as the one used in the school shooting.

It is completely indefensible to say the type of rifle had anything significant to do with this. Logic and reason and fact disallow that conclusion.

Whether or not it is a hunting weapon is pretty irrelevant, of course. Whether she thinks I "need" it for home defense is irrelevant. If I think I need it, that is all that is sufficient in a free society. I do not need to justify my personal decisions to anyone, least of all the government, in a free society. But again, she is completely wrong. I see hunters walking down the streets near my house with AR-15s. I was talking to a guy last night who uses one -- also chambered in .223, the same as used in the Connecticut shooting -- for hunting. They are excellent, versatile, accurate, efficient, economical, and reliable guns that are every bit as good for hunting as most hunting rifles, so much so that major manufacturers like Remington now make hunting rifles built on the AR-15 platform.

Now granted, the R-15 doesn't fall into the previous legal description of an assault rifle, because it doesn't have a folding stock or bayonet mount or flash suppressor or grenade launcher. It does have a pistol grip, but it needs two of those five features, and is legal under the Ban if it has only one. But here's the thing: Adam Lanza didn't use a flash suppressor or bayonet mount or grenade launcher or folding stock to kill all those people. And this R-15, which would likely remain legal under the proposed ban, could have done precisely the same amount of damage as the AR-15 he used.

So Feinstein is pushing a restriction on guns that literally does nothing to stop crime. And the stats bear this out: we have great numbers on what happened before the law, during the law, and after the law expired, and there's no data supporting the ban, as one would expect if they actually understood how it worked.

The AWB is not an affront to most gun owners because it disallows us from having guns that can do certain amounts of damage, but because it unreasonably disallows us the choice, putting up useless restrictions while preventing not a single death.

Moms and dads and politicians ignorantly shout to the sky that we need to ban these guns, but no one has put up an even remotely reasonable proposal that would have prevented this, or any other, shooting death.

Reality-Based Deficit Numbers

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People: please stop believing we "need" tax increases. At best, they won't even make a serious dent in the budget deficit. While they could help in a small way (let's assume they won't harm the economy, or slow further recovery), they won't really do anything significant. At best it would be less than 10% of the annual deficit. It would likely be significantly less, but at that very optimistic assumption, it would still take more than ten years just to pay off one year of deficit. We need massive spending cuts, much more than we "need" tax increases.

Also recall that the last deficit before the recession, before the Democrats took control of the budget, was a mere $160 billion, and that was with the same tax rates and essentially the same deductions we have now. But then the recession knocked revenues way down, and the Democrats had the two biggest single-year spending increases since WWII (in FY2008 and FY2009).

The deficit problem is caused almost entirely by those two things: spending, and a still-weak economy. Unless you take on those two things, tax increases -- at best -- are meaningless, except as symbolism to an increasingly reality-denying left that believes you can have high spending and a balanced budget if only everyone paid their "fair share," and that paying an increasingly greater share of all tax revenues and a higher effective rate than everyone else means that somehow you're not paying your "fair share."

Math, people. Math. It's your friend. Don't be afraid of it.

Here's the bottom line: we would actually "need" ten dollars of spending cuts to every one dollar of tax increases (at best). And I would actually be willing to raise taxes, if the spending cuts were that serious, to close the gap, if we had triggers or other guarantees that spending would not increase. But I have absolutely no reason to think the Democrats -- nor the Republicans, for that matter -- would be willing to actually cut spending, let alone by that amount, let alone with guarantees. So there is, therefore, no reason to think we "need" tax increases, not until we are able to close the deficit gap with those increases.

Also, please stop believing the lie that Social Security doesn't add to the deficit. Senator Durbin said this on a Sunday show recently, as other Democrats have, and they are asbolutely wrong. We are currently taking in less money in Social Security taxes than we are paying out in benefits. The difference is paid out of the Trust Fund, which sounds like a fund of money set aside, but it's not: it comes straight out of the general fund, which -- whatever number-shuffling you use to account for it -- adds to the deficit. Medicare is the same deal. In 2011, over $100 billion -- which is more than the amount of revenue expected from the proposed tax increases -- came from the General Fund into Social Security trust funds. For Medicare, it was almost $225 billion.

It's a spending problem. It always has been, except now, as the spending problem has become more pronounced than ever before, the Democrats are -- more loudly than ever before -- denying it. When the deficit was a mere $400 billion under Bush, the Democrats agreed spending was the problem, and few talked about tax increases, and even when they did, they recognized it was much more about spending than revenues. But now with the deficit at nearly three times that, suddenly tax increases are the one thing they want to talk about, even though it is a much smaller part of the solution than it has ever been.

I note with some irony that the Democrats told us, whenever we explained how voter integrity measures would not actually hurt anyone, that they were still bad because stopping voter fraud doesn't really fix anything, because the problem is small and the difference made would be small, and we should spend time on bigger problems. While they had a point about it being pretty small (though it is bigger than most of them would admit), it is still important, because every incidence of voter fraud robs someone else of their right to vote. But I just wish they would apply the same logic here and not hyperfocus on tax increases, which literally won't solve anything, and help the rest of us find ways to cut spending and improve the economy.

And no, spending government money in general, and especially on "picking winners and losers" with subsidies, doesn't help the economy: allowing the market to work, while protecting the actual rights of the people, is what helps the economy.

Things and Things

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We now live in a world where it is "disturbing" to call something a "thing."

Maybe if I were a lot dumber I could understand how this is "disturbing."

John Koster simply said that a living human child in the womb has the unalienable right to life, whether the something that helped create that living human child was a violent criminal act or not. How can that possibly be disturbing to anyone? I can't fathom it, I really can't. My brain is too functional.

The latest attack on Koster says that he attacked "poor people" for "laziness" and "slothfulness."

Of course, that never actually happened. As usual, the left is lying. But what makes this one so weird is that the lies are right there in front of everyone, yet the left chooses to pretend it's true.

As "reported" in the Seattle Times (I put "reported" in quotes because it's not actually a news story), Koster said last winter, "Under this administration it has become a system that punishes those who dare to dream, those who dare to invest, those who dare to work hard or succeed. It seems to reward the mediocrity -- dare I say it, slothfulness and laziness -- of those who choose not to do those things."

The only reasonable way to make that sound like he is attacking poor people is if you believe that poor people actually are lazy and slothful, because Koster isn't making that link: the leftists making this deceitful attack on Koster are the ones, in fact, attacking poor people.

What Koster said is a truism: If you choose to not work hard, you are lazy. He never said or implied this was true of all poor people. He didn't even mention poor people. He was just saying the obviously, self-evidently, definitionally true, thing that people who choose to not work hard are lazy.

As is often the case, it doesn't really matter what you say; the left will simply lie about it anyway.

The mess Jay Inslee left in Washington's 1st Congressional District, timing his retirement so no one could fill his spot in a special election before November, is the subject of a New York Times article this morning. Interestingly, the article doesn't really say how this happened, or discuss Inslee's role in it.

Seattle Times Endorses John Koster

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This week the Seattle Times endorsed Koster over Suzan DelBene for Washington's 1st Congressional District.

The Times says Koster's "views are well known and consistently applied over decades in elective office and public service" while DelBene is only known "from the campaign trail." The Times further says that "Koster understands the fragility of the economy from the Main Street level, and the anxiety and uncertainty of the small-business operator. He is equally conservative about ending overseas conflicts and cautionary about going to war without a clear mission and exit strategy."

The Times adds, "We disagree with Koster on social issues, but in Congress right now, his fiscal viewpoint and elected experience are whatís needed," which is notable given that almost everything the Democrats and DelBene are saying about Koster right now is bizarrely about abortion, while our economy and federal government's fiscal health are, to put it midly, in the toilet.

Maybe this endorsement will shock the DelBene campaign and her backers into getting serious about the issues.

Not too long ago, Washington passed a law that claimed to give all rights of marriage to gay couples who registered with the state, except that their unions wouldn't be called "marriage." Everything else would be the same as marriage. R-71 challenged it, but it was upheld by the voters.

And now we are told that we should approve of R-74 -- which provides actual legal gay marriage in the state -- with emotional ads claiming that without this law, these couples don't have all the rights of marriage.

It seems to me the Approve R-74 folks are admitting that "everything but marriage" was a lie. And I really hate, hate being lied to.

My opinion on the issue itself is that government has no business deciding who can, and cannot, marry. Therefore, I oppose R-74, which maintains many discriminatory laws against marriage between consenting adults, and will continue instead to fight for true freedom to marry.

As I mentioned in a previous post, there's some Democrats out there attacking McKenna, saying he is "not who he says he is." In the first two ads, they just told a bunch of lies about him.

But they've given up on that line: in their latest ad (I saw it tonight, and can't find it online yet) they start out like the rest, saying "he says he's a moderate, but the national Republican agenda would [insert boring lies about a so-called 'war on women']." But, of course, even if it were true, it wouldn't apply to McKenna.

Maybe that's their game here: they hope ignorant voters on the left will believe the lie that a. those things are true and b. McKenna is somehow tied to them, while hoping informed voters on the right will say "actually, he *is* moderate, and I don't like that, so I won't vote for him!"

If so, maybe they're actually clever. But it's still lies, and they are still admitting they are lying, which makes them horrible people.

The "Truth"

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For a long time, I've held the view that if an organization puts "truth" in its name, you should be extremely wary.

I started thinking this way back when the anti-tobacco group thetruth.com first came on the scene, and they basically put out a lot of rubbish information (along with their scare tactics) that they couldn't back up. I even e-mailed them asking for them to back up some of their claims, and they couldn't: they simple pointed to some long papers mentioned on their "resources" page and said "it's in there."

Examples like this come and go all the time, and Barack Obama's "Truth Team" is no exception. Some of their current lies:

  • They say Mitt Romney said rich people should pay a lower tax rate than middle-class people. It never happened. What he did say is that investment income (which many middle class people receive) should be taxed at a lower rate than wage income (which many rich people get).
  • They say Mitt Romney plans to tax Social Security benefits. No, he doesn't, and didn't even hint at it. They make this one up by saying that the only way Romney's stated plan makes sense is if he taxed Social Security benefits. By the exact same logic, I can say that Obama's stated goals of fiscal sanity can only happen if he sells Alaska to Russia, so therefore, he plans to sell Alaska to Russia.

Meh. I could go on, but it's boring. Pretty much every claim they make is a lie, and I'm not using hyperbole. And don't think they don't know they are telling lies: they just know they won't be held accountable for it. There's no serious downside to lying for them, because the people who might vote for them either don't know, or don't care (and that, of course, includes most of the news media).

There's a few ads out there running against Rob McKenna for governor, and bizarrely, every single claim they make is a lie.

One, called "Clean Up", shows a guy cleaning his garage and saying McKenna is "not who he says he is" because he "lobbied to increase his salary," "all while" he "tried blocking a 12-cent increase in the minimum wage." All three of those things are false. He didn't "lobby" to increase his salary in early 2007, he responded to a request from the citizens' salary commission about a possible wage increase and he supported it. He also never tried to block an increase in the minimum wage in late 2010: he gave a proper opinion that the law did not require an increase. And the "all while" is false too, since those two things happened about four years apart. In fact, when he was giving a legal opinion about the minimum wage, he opposed a salary increase.

Another video, called "Meet", asks us to care that a Republican worked to get Republican presidential candidates George W. Bush and John McCain win, saying that this is somehow at odds with being a moderate. That's patently stupid, of course, since there's nothing contrary about being a moderate Republican and wanting the Republican candidates to win, but it gets worse: it flat-out lies by saying McKenna filed a lawsuit that would have denied women access to birth control and cancer screenings. No such lawsuit has ever existed. You simply cannot rationally or honestly claim that not giving something to someone is "denying access" to it. By that "logic," government denies me access to a '68 Shelby Mustang.

When the only way you can attack a candidate is to tell lies, it tells me you don't have anything true to attack the candidate on.

Look at the Silly Monkey

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In September 2012:

* Obama's Fed chairman has been printing a lot of money, which has directly resulted in another credit downgrade. A couple of years ago, Obama said that a credit downgrade was one of the worst things that could happen, resulting in increased cost of debt and other terrors; now he says of our massively increasing debt that caused all this, we don't have to worry about it short term.

* Our ambassador to Libya and three other American embassy personnel were killed in Libya by terrorists in a coordinated, preplanned attack on September 11, and Obama has several times directly lied to the nation by saying that the only cause of the attack was spontaneous reaction to a video that almost no one had ever seen. He then sent America's top military general to pressure a private citizen to withdraw support for the video, pressured Google to ban the video, and investigated the people involved with the making of the video, all in an attempt to scapegoat law-abiding people in America to redirect blame away from himself by literally and explicitly undermining the right to free speech.

* Obama has done his best to offend our two more important allies in the Middle East, shunning the Prime Minister of Israel (again, lying about why he wouldn't meet with him), and saying Egypt isn't an ally (which his State Department corrected him on later).

* Because of Afghan troops turning on American troops for months, and direct assaults on U.S. bases in Afghanistan last week, the U.S. has ended cooperative training and patrols between U.S. and Afghan forces, that have been central to U.S. plans to leave Afghanistan.

* Far more people dropped out of the workforce than got new jobs, as the number of Americans not working reached historic highs.

* Democrats have still refused to even try to pass a budget, for the third straight year (Fiscal Year 2013 begins October 1, once again starting the year without a budget).

And yet somehow, with all this, it's supposedly interesting that Mitt Romney said some stuff in a video that some people found insulting. The stuff that really matters -- the debt, the budget, dead ambassadors, relationships with our allies in the Middle East, jobs -- is being ignored, and we are instead whining about insults to poor people and a mythical "war on women."

You get the government you deserve, people. If you don't care about the important things when you vote, then neither will your elected officials.

One Example

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I want one example. Please. Just one.

Just one example of when the Republicans in Congress, under Obama, opposed legislation just because they wanted to hurt Obama.

The left keeps throwing out this line about how Republicans said their top priority was to get rid of Obama. Well, yes, just as Democrats said about Bush in 2000. It's not on the record, but we know that's what happened. They spent 3.5 years -- a brief reprieve due to 9/11 -- trying to get rid of Bush.

But neither the Democrats in 2001 nor the Republicans in 2009 ever said they would oppose everything the President wanted. The Republicans actually have agreed to a lot of legislation under Obama. The legislation they've opposed (sorry, "obstructed") is legislation that they disagreed with ... which is what you're supposed to do if you disagree with something.

Maybe the Republicans refused cooperation on some legislation just to hurt Obama, though I know of no example. Every example I know of is where the Republicans and Democrats have actual disagreements. That's not to say that you shouldn't work harder to cooperate, but the Democrats have been at least as guitly of this as Republicans.

And please don't say the Republicans agreed with "ObamaCare." There's zero evidence supporting this claim. Yes, some Republicans supported some parts of the ACA at various times, but that cannot possibly imply agreement with the bill as a whole. It's so unintellectual an argument that it's barely worth responding to. If I support tax cuts, that doesn't mean I should vote for a bill that has tax cuts, and also requires dog owners to kill their firstborn male pup. You have to consider the bill as a whole, and there are many objectionable items in the ACA that justify opposing it, for any Republican (or, really, any Democrat).

Where's the Real Criticisms?

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The Democrats have been attacking John Koster for awhile now, but they haven't actually said anything of substance. Everything they bring up is either completely false, or is a silly and boring "guilt by association" fallacy.

The latest from the DCCC covers both grounds. First, they falsely claim that seniors would pay $6,400 more for Medicare under Ryan's plan; then, they falsely claim that there is a causal relationship between Medicare reform and tax breaks; then, they falsely claim Ryan's plan is to "end Medicare."

And all this as a proxy just so they can tar Koster for saying he "loves" Paul Ryan. Koster loves Ryan, and Ryan wants to do all these terrible things (even though he doesn't)! Therefore Koster is bad (even though he isn't)!

The rank stupidity of the DCCC and its allies is troubling. Is it too much to ask that your opponents aren't idiots? Seriously: if Koster is so bad, where's the real criticism? So far, the Democrats have come up completely empty.

It almost makes you think they don't have any real criticisms.

Someone told me the other day that the GOP platform reflects on Mitt Romney, that even if he says he disagrees with a part of it, he controls the platform's contents so he really must actually agree with it.

I pointed out, no, that is not how the platform works. You get delegates from around the country to write it and then vote on it, and the President cannot force that process, unless the delegates choose to go along with it. The rules don't allow it. It's a democratic process, not a top-down decision. You cannot assume that the candidate agrees with the platform, because the candidate doesn't control the platform.

Apparently, that is how it works for the Republicans, but not the Democrats. Obama wanted changes to his platform -- reverting changes that removed mentions of "God" and Jerusalem as the capital of Israel -- and convention chair Antonio Villaraigosa violated rules by pushing through those changes against the clearly expressed will of the voting delegates: he needed a 2/3 vote to approve the changes, but he could not have even reasonably concluded to have a majority.

Koster Releases Funny DelBene Ad

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For those of us inundated with the annoying "Suzan DelBene!" ads before the primary, this ad from John Koster is nicely cathartic. Though, they could've left out the pirate thing.

PubliCola Can't Get Anything Right

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So this time, PubliCola says John Koster is wrong about private Social Security accounts. Koster said recently, "Just think how much further, how much better off we'd be, if we'd started [optional private Social Security accounts] ten years ago."

PubliCola, knowing little and assuming much, says, "... according to data on Yahoo Finance, seniors would have seen a 39.4 percent crash in retirement savings invested in the market tracking a year out from the crash to right afterward." But why would anyone invest their retirement savings only a year before the crash, until right afterward? The whole point of private accounts is not for current retirees, or people retiring soon, to dump their money in the market, but to provide a stable long-term option for people whose retirement is farther off. Cherry-picking a window that would apply to few, if any, retirees is inherently dishonest.

Koster was explicitly talking about long term: he said "ten years ago." Any possible sensible and honest analysis will look at what would happened in that ten-year window to see if he was right. And it turns out, Koster was right: the DJIA has seen a 50 percent increase in the last ten years, which is pretty huge. From August 2002 to August 2012, it's increased from over 8700 to over 13,000.

There's only one ten-year window that would not have seen a net gain in the DJIA: from late 1998 until around early 2001 to 2008/2011, which brings us from soon after the crash until the beginning of the recovery. And every 15-year window shows dramatic gains.

Of course, past success is no predictor of future success, and there's measurements other than the DJIA that may be better. But the point is that private accounts -- to this point, as best we can tell from the facts -- would have worked just fine for the younger workers they were aimed at, and PubliCola is still telling false stories to try to smear Koster.

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.

<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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