Recently in Politics Category
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
But Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, said the coalition has refused to talk with the minority Democrats ever since Republicans recruited Tom and Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, to join their ranks. "We've seen surprise after surprise. It's the kind of politics we see in the other Washington."
And if the Democrats were in power as usual, they would not give the GOP the time of day ... as usual.
Can anyone take Keiser seriously?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Apparently Josh Feit is so interested in the 1st CD race that he is willing to smear Republican John Koster every chance he gets. His latest missive pretends to be a "fact check," when it's really an intentional distortion of the facts.
He sets the stage with the unverified claim that Koster "has a reputation as a hard-core partisan." If by that one means that Koster believes in his principles and works hard on them -- which is exactly how his opponent, Democrat Suzan DelBene, promises to operate -- then so be it. But Feit's trying to imply that Koster doesn't work well with others. That he takes his ball and goes home if he doesn't get exactly what he wants. It's funny, then, that the moderate Democrats on the Snohomish County Council actually have worked very well with him over the past decade, on many bipartisan measures.
So where's Feit's evidence? He links to a 2000 Bellingham Herald story where Democrat Hans Dunshee says so. Well, that settles it! As everyone knows, Hans Dunshee is a sunbeam of moderation and bipartisanship (in case you can't tell, I'm being sarcastic). Dunshee had recently lost the race for the 39th LD to Koster, and he says Koster had "never voted for a bipartisan solution to anything," and that he never offered fixes to the spending bills he opposed. Where's the fact checking on that, Josh? You just accept it blindly, even though it's so obviously false?
Well, someone else does offer a substantiating quote: none other than Democrat Rick Larsen, obviously also an impartial observer, as he was currently opposing Koster for the 1st CD seat. Larsen attacked Koster for voting for (bipartisan, Hans and Josh! bipartisan!) bills for a patients bill of rights and pipeline safety,* but then refusing to vote for the budget that funded them. Larsen said, "Just voting for legislation isnít enough. If you have to fund it to make it happen, then you have to be voting for that funding."
No, in fact, you don't. This is an old sort of lie. It expects people to believe that just because you voted against a bill, that means you don't share the goals of the legislation, and didn't work to improve the legislation. It's nonsense.
Feit's evidence that Koster is a "hard-core partisan" was similar: Koster "voted against five of the six budgets passed by the legislature" during his time in the state legislature. So?
The way this works is simple. You agree with some of the bill, and disagree with significant portions of it. So you vote against it. If you are successful in winning the vote, you then get the opportunity to change it. If you are not successful, at least you went on the record that you disliked significant portions of the bill. This is, in my book, legislating with integrity.**
And worse, in this case, Koster voted against Republican budgets, so it obviously isn't about partisanship. Feit doesn't mention that fact, despite being well-aware of it (since it's in the text of the story from 2000 he's writing about), because it doesn't fit his narrative of Koster as a "hard-core partisan."
Frankly, I think the Democratic line here, that Feit is echoing loudly, is just the sort of attitude that many voters are sick and tired of: that you have to vote for someone else's wasteful spending or else you're not doing your job as a legislator. It's irrational and -- if I may borrow a phrase -- a mark of a "hard-core partisan" to criticize someone for honest disagreement over a budget, saying they have to vote for it if they voted for something that's in it.
* Honestly, when Hans Dunshee says John Koster "has never voted for any bipartisan solution to anything," and just a few sentences later Rick Larsen refers to specific bipartisan legislation that Koster voted for -- one of which was sponsored by both Dunshee and Koster! -- and Feit (and the Bellingham Herald) just accept the claim blindly without even looking up the evidence Larsen handed them, you no longer have to wonder how much these people care about the facts. For Feit to claim he is "fact checking" is a riot.
** I made the same argument to defend John Kerry when he ran for President, when he infamously voted against a military spending bill, even though he said he was in favor of the spending. He opposed it because he wanted it funded with "tax increases on the wealthy." He was wrong to want that method of funding, he was stupid to say "I voted for it before I voted against it," but the tactic he used -- voting against a bill to mark his disagreement with some significant portion of it -- is perfectly reasonable, and would not have led to the bill's demise, despite what many Republicans falsely claimed at the time. Feit's using the same dumb argument Republicans dumbly used against Kerry.
Josh Feit, searching for relevancy over at Publicola, decided it was newsworthy to report that someone who did consulting work for Todd Akin also did consulting work for Rob McKenna and John Koster.
I hear that Christine Gregoire's accountant also does tax returns for the head of the New Black Panthers.
U.S. Senate candidate Michael Baumgartner (R-WA) responded to Publicola journalist Josh Feit with a picture of himself with an American soldier, saying, "Josh, this is Pat Feeks, a Navy SEAL killed last week in Afghanistan. Take a good look and then go f*** yourself."
Feit says, "Itís hard to know what prompted his e-mail last night." No, it's not: Baumgartner is annoyed that you are trying to link him to an unrelated candidate's ignorant comments about abortion instead of focusing on actual issues. That's not to say candidate's views on abortion are unimportant, but Pubicola hasn't even covered the state senator's views on Afghanistan (until now).
Baugmartner apologized to Feit "for my strong language," but I say that it's good to see, regardless of the language used. Nothing against Feit in particular, but the entire news media is going nuts over this abortion thing. A guy I've never heard of and can't vote for or against said something stupid. So what? Move on, already.
I confess: I am a libertarian. But the Libertarian Party in WA is prone to all sort of stupidity, and their latest is no different. This time they claim that Mitt Romney should not be on the ballot, because:
- Only "major party" candidates for President can get on the ballot, unless they have 1,000 signatures (which Romney does not have)
- A "major party" is defined as a party having a nominee in the last statewide general election in an even-numbered year that received 5% of the vote
- While Dino Rossi -- the only Republican in a general election statewide race in 2010 -- got 47.64% of the vote, he was not nominated by the Washington State Republican Party
There are, of course, problems with all this. The most glaring is that Dino Rossi was nominated by the WSRP for governor in August, after the primary. It didn't happen at convention, but the law does not specify the method of nomination.
But even if he were not officially nominated, the fact is that Washington State has all along operated with the WSRP as though the WSRP is a major party for 2012. To come back after it is too late, and demand that they file 1,000 signatures -- which they could do in an afternoon, if not in an hour -- is so ridiculous as to be barely worth responding to. The State cannot tell a party its nominee will be on the ballot, thus they have nothing more to do, and then later say they can't be on the ballot. The damage done to democracy with such a move would be terrible.
This is just a bunch of whiny libertarians with an axe to grind over the nonsensical "Top Two" primary. I share their hatred of it, and I've written a lot about how terrible it is. But a frivolous lawsuit won't win anyone to their side.
"Dishonorable Disclosures" is a short film by an organization called Special Operations OPSEC about how the Obama administration has willfully leaked intelligence that has compromised America's future operations. Some on the left have compared it to the "Swift Boat" ads against John Kerry. The big difference between these two films is that while the anti-Kerry stuff was significantly unverifiable, this film is entirely verifiably true.
Yes, it's an attack on Obama, and certainly funded by many Republicans and conservatives. It is, in essence, a campaign ad against the President. And the film's biggest failing is that because it is an attack on Obama, it leaves out information and arguments that a viewer might use to challenge whether some of the disclosures were reasonable, such as that we might have something greater to gain in our extremely complex relationship with Pakistan by giving up the doctor, or that some disclosures -- despite the military and intelligence communities disliking them -- are good for democracy (like with the existence of a "kill list").
But the bottom line is that the leaks the film is criticizing are very real, and whatever the reasons, many of the leaks -- about the Pakistani doctor, about how the Bin Laden mission was conducted and the names of the units involved, about Stuxnet, and more -- have been intentional, and have caused severe damage to our ability to conduct similar operations in the future.
The doctor disclosure is particularly troubling, because it eliminates untold numbers of potential intelligence assets who will rightfully question whether they will be offered up on a silver platter to our enemies once their usefulness is complete.
Even Democrat Dianne Feinstein, one of Obama's biggest supporters in the Senate, has said the leaks in the last few years have been worse than she's ever seen, and have caused tremendous damage. There's no serious debate about that.
While we're all talking about and debating the President's record on civil liberties, taxes, jobs, debt, and so on, it's good that this film is reminding us of a less-publicized, but very important, problem with the President's first term.
The WA "primary" results are mostly in. There's lots of positive news for conservatives and Republicans.
At the top of the ticket is Rob McKenna for governor, who came is currently a mere 3.5 percentage points behind Jay Inslee, 43.28 to 46.78. Adding in the other Republican and Democrat candidates, the lead is cut to 2.5 points, although Inslee is then at about 50 percent. Of course, you can't a. assume that the votes for the other candidates will translate into votes for the same-party candidate, and b. you can't assume turnout will be proportional in November. So the best we can say is that it looks really close.
Most of the statewide offices have significant leads by Democrats. While it would be nice to see Kim Wyman win Secretary of State, she has a tough road ahead. If she can get enough of an audience, she could convince them that she has much more experience and would be a better official than Kathleen Drew, a partisan who supports "repeal" of a Supreme Court decision that said, simply, that citizens, or associations of citizens, cannot be fined or jailed for simply engaging in political speech. (It's weird and scary that someone who wants to be an elected official would hold such a view.)
James Watkins, Republican running for State Auditor, has strong prospects for November. He pulled in 46% of the vote (more than any statewide Republican this primary), perhaps due in part to some of the great bipartisan endorsements he's received (and, I think, people generally like to have some Republicans around as checks on the Democrats).
For Senate, it will be an uphill climb for Michael Baumgartner (R) to unseat Maria Cantwell (D). And none of the other federal races with incumbents look close, either. In WA-6, vacated by Norm Dicks, Bill Driscoll (one of several Republicans) got only 18% of the vote, and Derek Kilmer (the only Democrat), who pulled in 53%. Similarly, in the new WA-10, Denny Heck (one of two Democrats) with 40% will be facing Dick Muri (one of two Republicans) with 28%. In both, there's so many votes going to so many candidates, we just can't tell much.
John Koster -- hopefully, my next congressman -- blew away the competition in WA-1, almost as badly as Kilmer did in WA-6. He increased his tally from 43.3% to 45.07% since election night, and has substantially more votes than the next three candidates combined. Of course, only the next candidate matters: and that will be Democrat Suzan DelBene, with 22.64% of the vote. However, there were five Democratic candidates, and if you combine their total vote, you end up with 52.97%; adding the one Independent, Larry Ishmael (who has run multiple times in this district as a Republican) to Koster gives him 47.03%. But again, the assumption that all of those extra votes will go to DelBene and Koster is unwarranted (in fact, we have seen in various polls of head-to-head races that some people voting for Democrat candidates like Steve Hobbs would not have voted for DelBene or the other Democrats). Again, just way too close to call.
Koster and DelBene will also face off in a separate race: the special election to finish the aforementioned Inslee's seat, since he infamously quit several months back. But in that race -- being for a WA-1 with very different boundaries -- Koster gained only 35.75% of the vote. Democratic candidates accounted for more than 60% of the total votes cast. We could have Congresswoman DelBene for a month, followed by Congressman Koster for two years. Blame Inslee for the confusion and weirdness.
Returning for another round is Richard Sanders, who has an apparent top-two finish for Position 9 on the Supreme Court. Hopefully the civil rights champion can win his seat back.
In my 10th Legislative District, it was gratifying seeing Rep. Barbara Bailey (R) open up 5.5 percentage point lead on Senate mainstay Mary Margaret Haugen (D). Running for Bailey's soon-to-be-vacant seat is Dave Hayes (R) who holds a slim lead over Tom Riggs (D), 51% to 49%. But incumbent Rep. Norma Smith has a whopping 59% of the vote.
My old 39th LD looks even better, with Rep. Kirk Pearson (R) running for Val Stevens' Senate seat, and beating perennial Democrat challenger Scott Olson by 14 points; incumbent Rep. Dan Kristiansen (R) up by 10 points; and the combined votes of the Republican candidates for Pearson's seat garnering about 58% of the vote, led by Elizabeth Scott. She'll be facing off against Democrat Eleanor Walters.
Many sources are telling many news outlets that Paul Ryan will be named Mitt Romney's running mate on Saturday morning.
I hope so. He's been my pick for months. People tell me he's a bad pick because of his budget and Medicare and so on, but I've thought they're wrong. The leftists will hate him and try to paint him as a terrible person, sure, but the Romney campaign can say something like: "his budget was just a starting point for discussion, and the Democrats never came to the table; the main point is the goals he had, which were to reduce spending without harming the most vulnerable and free the market to make all Americans prosperous, and President Obama and the Democrats have failed at that. Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and a Republican Congress will work tirelessly to change that direction, starting with repealing Obama's health insurance law, and ending with a balanced budget."
Then again, maybe it won't be Ryan. I'll find out when I wake up tomorrow.
We don't actually have a real primary in WA.
As our Attorney General, Rob McKenna, said, the primary is really "the first stage of this two-stage general election process. ..." (Page 6)
The "winnowing primary" is not really a primary anymore, but a general election with a runoff for the top two candidates.
The reason this is important, the reason it is my biggest problem with the current system, is that we now make some of the big decisions with the smallest number of voters. It used to be that anyone could get on the November ballot, if they got the signatures and filing fee, and voters would have potentially several choices in November. That has ended. We had stage one of the general election this week, in August, where only about 35% of voters participated (estimated; it could grow a bit more, yet). In 2008, we had 42.6% in stage one, and 84.6% in stage two.
And the really sad thing about it is that the people who most wanted this change are people who dislike the two-party system, and claimed to represent the same; but the most involved partisans of the two major parties vote in disproportionately greater numbers in the primary. So the major party members are making the decisions about who we get to vote for more than ever before. Most of the "stage two"-only voters -- about half the voters -- never get a chance to vote for a Libertarian or Green or Independent candidate, because the heavily partisan voters of "stage one" already eliminated them from "stage two."
Granted, it's their own fault for not participating in "stage one." But it's still the opposite of what the I-872 folks said we would get. They said we would get the blanket primary back; that this would empower independent voters more; that we would get more choices. Instead, we didn't get a blanket primary, independent voters have less influence, and we have fewer choices.
Remember, Washingtonians ... you no longer have a secret ballot in Washington. A secret ballot means voting on a ballot given to you at a polling place, then preparing and despositing that ballot in secret at that location. The purpose of this voting reform was to prevent someone else from bribing, threatening, blackmailing, or otherwise influencing your vote.
We have not outgrown the need for a secret ballot.
I am voting in person tomorrow, as I always do, on a voting machine at the county auditor's office.
There is one candidate for President who won an election by challenging the legitimacy of minority voters who supported minority candidates by using purges of the voter rolls. But despite the cries of racism from the Democrats when similar tactics are used by Republicans today -- making sure that voters are actually legitimate -- the "guilty" party here is Barack Obama, not Mitt Romney.
In his first election for public office in 1996, Obama was up against four candidates for a state senate seat in Illinois. Through a supporter, Obama challenged the petitions of all four of his opponents. All four came up short in the challenges, and Obama won the seat unopposed.
And it's not just that these signatures were from fake people, or non-citizens, or even people who weren't registered voters at the time they signed: some of the signatures were eliminated simply because these were legal voters, but were part of a purge of the voter rolls, and so they were effectively un-registered by the time the petitions were being verified.
I have no big problem with any of this, except that the voters apparently weren't properly notified their registrations were purged, so they could take action to fix it. That aside, these candidates did not have enough legitimate voter signatures on their petitions. Case closed.
The problem is that Republicans are being attacked as racist and anti-democratic for engaging in purges of the voter rolls, even though a. this is how Obama won his first election for office, b. the Republican voter reforms are a far more open and careful process, with several levels of checks and ways to fix your registration (even on election day).
So what's the difference? Is it because Obama is black, or a Democrat? I don't know, but I can't think it's about the time that's passed, because I can't see how if Romney did this, the press wouldn't be all over it.
Long story short: Cheryl Pflug, Republican State Senator in WA, was bought off by Democrat governor Christine Gregoire: virtually the moment filing for office closed, Gregoire offered Pflug a cushy state job, and she accepted, leaving that previously safe seat up for grabs between Issaquah councilman and Mark Mullet (D), and businessman Brad Toft (R). She says she wasn't bought off, but literally everyone knows she was. How else to explain the timing?
Dino Rossi left that seat to run for governor in 2003, and Pflug was appointed to fill the vacant seat, then won election the next time around. So while he can't run on the ballot for the next term, Rossi was a good candidate to finish out the current term, so he was appointed to do so, and Toft (the only Republican in the race) is being backed to replace her this fall. Pflug blasted this for some reason ... but I can't figure out why. She says Rossi and the state party are playing Godfather. So, they shouldn't appoint someone to fill her vacant seat, using the same process that got her the same job from a vacancy by the same man? They shouldn't back the only Republican in the race?
Can anyone tell me what the heck she's talking about and how it makes any sense?
I see nowhere in the Constitution where the Congress is given authority to tell us we cannot lie, even about whether or not we received a military honor. The Supreme Court agreed last week, and struck down the Stolen Valor Act.
Yes, Congress can make laws about lying in certain cases where it might cause direct harm to someone else (e.g., fraud) or obstruct justice (e.g., perjury). But lying about a medal? While that could cause some hurt feelings and justifiable anger, that's not nearly sufficient to justify a valid law under our Constitution.
Justice Alito recognizes this principle in his dissent, but claims that such lies "inflict real harm." But even if true, certainly they do not always inflict real harm, and the law's language ignored whether or not harm occurred. Alito talks about people who commit fraud with their lies, but that is already a crime, and this law includes all lies, whether they cause such harm or not.
He then says these lies "tend to debase the distinctive honor of military awards," that families are harmed "when an impostor takes credit for heroic actions that he never performed," and that it is a "slap in the face" against people who did serve. None of this is an infliction of real harm. I don't want to get psychoanalytical here, but we control our own feelings. If their lies make you feel bad, that's on you, not them.
It really is just about personal feelings. And there's no implication in our Constitution that protecting personal feelings is sufficient cause to take away our fundamental rights. The KKK has the right to say terrible things about various religious and ethnic groups, causing significant hurt feelings, and most of what they say is lies, too (though granted, it's not the same thing, but the hurt feelings and negative effects on society are significantly worse).
The decision was correct. The conservatives -- usually in the right -- were wrong on this one.
Yes, it's true: Chief Justice Roberts ruled in a 5-4 decision that the Supreme Court has essentially no limits when it's exercising its taxing authority. He did say that the Affordable Care Act was wrong to say that its power to require us to have insurance, or else be penalized, is justified under the interstate commerce power; but he also said that when the law says it is requiring us to have insurance, or else be penalized, it was really just saying it's optional to have insurance, and you can be taxed arbitrarily.
This means, of course, that the federal government can write a law that says, "Everyone shall have a Chevy Volt, or be taxed $10,000." The Democrats and Obama want the federal government to have this power. They fought for that power, and won. And make no mistake: if they win the elections this year, they will continue to use that power in new and creative ways.
We never should have been trusting the Supreme Court to do our work for us. We need to secure our own liberty against such tyranny as a government that would create for itself the power to force us to do whatever it wishes.
Shankar Narayan of the ACLU of Washington this week had a press conference to say that saying that Arizona's law establishes "racial profiling."
By now, we all know that's a lie. The law expressly prohibits racial profiling, and further says that all reasonable suspicion must be based on existing state and federal laws, which already prohibit it. Narayan said, "We know that you simply cannot enforce a law like SB 1070ís Section 2(B) without engaging in racial profiling, because people will inevitably be targeted based on how they look or sound." That's simply a lie. We know no such thing.
For example, maybe they will only use the law based on a combination of factors that have nothing to do with how someone (in terms of ethnicity) "looks or sounds." If someone is blond and white, and is going 75 in a 55, and gets pulled over and has no ID and can't speak English (only German), then that's certainly reasonable suspicion, without resorting to any racial profiling at all. Of course, what's more likely in Arizona is that it won't be a blond white German, but that's beside the point.
Narayan and his ACLU of Washington are lying, pure and simple. And there's a reason why: they dislike the law, and so they want it defeated, but they cannot do that unless they convince people it facially violates the Constitution; so they invent lies about how it cannot be enforced without resorting to racial profiling. And now they and their friends are going to look to manufacture evidence of racial profiling for an as-applied challenge.
I am not saying I like this law (I think it's probably a waste of resources, and will likely cause harm to people who should be very low law enforcement priorities, if not legalized); and I am not saying that if the law is violated, the state and its agents shouldn't be held accountable.
But clearly, there's nothing whatsoever wrong with using your head to reasonably suspect that someone isn't here legally, without resorting to racial profiling, and instead of engaging in a witchhunt over it, they should focus their efforts on inventing a time machine so they can go back to 2009 when Obama and Democratic majorities and actually could have passed immigration reform and made it law.
I believe there's an excellent chance the health insurance act will be shot down, either in significant part, or in its entirety. If that does happen, President Obama and the Democrats will attack conservative Attorneys General, conservatives in Congress, and conservatives in the Supreme Court. They will leverage this into even more divisiveness. Obama has been pitting Us vs. Them since his inaugural address, and he's not going to stop now.
Just remember one thing, though: many of us, including myself, said the mandate was obviously unconstitutional before the bill was passed by either house of Congress. If I believed that, and many other conservatives believed that, then surely Obama and the Democrats knew it was very possible -- if not likely -- that five Supreme Court justices would believe that.
But they rammed this through Congress anyway, marking the first time since Reconstruction that major social program changes became law with the backing of only one political party, against what almost all polls say was against the will of a majority of Americans. This was obviously going to be challenged in court, where we all knew there was a good chance it would get overturned.
And Obama himself said very clearly that an individual mandate was a problem -- because it forced everyone to buy insurance -- when he was running for the Democratic nomination back in 2008 against other top candidates Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, who both favored a mandate.
So they spent over a year of deliberations in Congress to get an unpopular, single-party policy into law, that Obama himself had opposed just a year earlier, that they knew had a good chance of being overturned by the Supreme Court, and that didn't have any clear way to accomplish severability.
They literally, knowingly, and intentionally set themselves up for this. I don't know if it was some bizarre Machiavellian scheme to get overturned and cast blame elsewhere, or if it was just a vain hope they could pull it off, against the odds. But they knew a very likely outcome was a challenge and overturn. And yet they'll still have the gall to blame conservatives and Republicans. Harry Reid said just yesterday that the Supreme Court knocking down some of the Arizona immigration law "proves" that the law was unconstitutional. Will he be singing the same song after his health insurance act is ruled unconstitutional?
If you're angry about not getting more government control over health insurance, please do blame conservatives and Republicans. I'll gladly accept some of that blame, because I believe we should have less government control over health insurance, because I believe this is better for our individual freedom, and that it will result in lower costs for everyone.
But if you're angry at all the wasted time and energy to pass a law that only got overturned, setting us back to Square One -- but behind four years from where we were before -- the blame lies with the Democrats, not with the people who stood up against an unconstitutional law and got it overturned.
I fully expected and was glad to see that the Supreme Court today upheld that the AZ definition of reasonable suspicion is perfectly constitutional, and that any challenges to it being applied improperly would need to be as-applied challenges (how the law is applied), not facial challenges (what the law says).
I agree in principle with the rest of the decision: that the states cannot interfere with government enforcement of immigration law. My question has always been whether or not the AZ law actually does so.
So there are three remaining sections. As per the Syllabus: "Section 3 makes failure to comply with federal alien-registration requirements a state misdemeanor; §5(C) makes it a misdemeanor for an unauthorized alien to seek or engage in work in the State; §6 authorizes state and local officers to arrest without a warrant a person 'the officer has probable cause to believe ... has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States.'"
After reading the three separate dissents a bit, I am in full agreement with the dissenters that §5(C) is perfectly lawful. I can find no justification for saying it conflicts with any federal law or exercise thereof. It certainly doesn't follow federal "priorities" or "goals," but I find no power granted to the federal government to prohibit such actions by the state.
Scalia and Thomas dissented on §3, but Alito agreed with the majority. I tend to agree with Alito here, largely the previous Court decision "seems to require" pre-emption in this case as well. Scalia's argument is that §3 does not add to the existing federal requirements, but wholly rests on them. My question here lies with whether the prohibition in the previous decision, disallowing the state the ability to "complement" that system, or "enforce additional or auxiliary regulations," means they cannot add additional penalties for an existing federal system. I remain unconvinced either way.
With §6, the three dissenters make a strong case that there is no conflict in the plain meaning of the Arizona law with the federal law. But this is where the law and practice of it come into significance: federal law limits federal law enforcement from making certain arrests of removable aliens, but, the dissenters say, this does not prevent states from doing so, and then federal law enforcement from prosecuting based upon that state detention. While I might be willing to say that this Arizona law is not unconstitutional, it sure seems kinda silly. Further, §6 is more inclusive of who may be arrested, beyond just these particular people here illegally, and thus the entire law should not be stricken down, but merely (if anything) interpreted to not apply to a certain class of offenders.
So I'd probably be closest to Alito on this case overall.
The Herald reports that no charges will be filed against Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon for misuse of public funds regarding his extramarital affair, while also noting that Reardon "engag[ed] in ... campaign-related conduct using public resources," including having "a junior member of his staff, Kevin Hulten, commingling time he spent on the job with efforts to dig up dirt on Reardon's general election opponent, state Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens."
County Democrat chair Bill Phillips, and Reardon's attorney John Wolfe, say Reardon has been exonerated. Maybe of criminal wrongdoing in regard to misuse of funds around his affair, but that's about it.
Because recall of Reardon is difficult, it's unlikely to happen; however, his very public affair and his campaigning on the public's dime should be enough to shame anyone into resigning. But Reardon isn't anyone.
I missed this infographic before. In a word: yes.
Obama and the Democrats have been extremely dishonest in discussion of the budget and deficits and debt. They blame Bush for FY2009 spending that the Democrat majorities in Congress passed, Bush rejected, and Obama signed into law. They then take credit for the economic improvements over the same time period.
And don't even get me started on the fact that even FY2008 -- which was also a huge increase in spending over previous budgets, one of the greatest single-year non-war spending increases ever -- was the first Democrat budget in more than a decade.
We can debate whether the spending was good or bad. But the fact is that when the Democrats came into office in 2006, with their first budget, spending skyrocketed, and when Obama came into office, it went much, much, higher.
The last Bush / GOP Congress deficit (FY2007) was $160.7B. Spending was $2.73T, 19.7% of GDP. The last budget Bush signed (FY2008, one year later), with Democrat majorities in both houses, was a deficit of $458B, and $2.98T (20.8% GDP) in spending. We're currently at an estimated FY2012 deficit of $1.33T, on $3.8T (24.3% GDP) in spending.
Even if you take the spending Bush proposed in FY2009 as Obama's baseline ($3.11T), it was still far, far lower than what Obama and the Democrats actually spent that year.
And to top it all off, the recent slight decreases in spending a. were probably inevitable given how high Obama and the Democrats had pushed spending in the first place, and b. further inevitable because the Republicans took control of the House.
To say Obama has not dramatically increased spending as President, or -- worse -- that the Democrats are not the ones who have actually massively increased spending since taking Congress in 2006, is just insane.
Again, we can argue about whether the spending was good or bad. But to say Bush or the Republicans are more to blame for the increase is just lying. Facts are stubborn things.