Politics: March 2008 Archives

Many on the left are trying to make the argument that John McCain is too ignorant about foreign policy to be President because he conflates "Shiite" and "Sunni."

While this is not unimportant, I humbly submit that neither Clinton nor Obama seem to be aware of the fact that most of their proposals for domestic policy -- most particularly, universal health care -- clearly violate the Tenth Amendment, and that understanding the Constitution and respecting the rights of the people of the United States is a lot more important to being President than understanding the differences between various Muslim sects. slashdot.org

A Bit More on the Primary

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Just a few legal issues to wrap up.

I-872 destroys the existing presidential preference primary, the part about lists of participants, since it says that "no voter may be required to disclose political faith or adherence in order to vote." This statement of rights applies to all elections, not just the primary, so it must include the presidential preference primary, which explicitly allows party declarations, which is why the Democrats participate at all: to get the list of voters who participated in their primary. And if parties will no longer get lists of voters who participated in their primary, I doubt if they will participate at all (especially the Democrats).

So this very likely spells the complete end of the presidential preference primary. I think in four years, if I-872 still stands and there is not an exemption for this added to the law, Washington will be caucus-only in 2012.

And I noticed something else. The I-872 people said during the attempt to pass I-872 that a yes vote on it would "preserve the blanket primary." But this is patently false: what I-872 did was to destroy the old nominating primary, which included the system under which the previous blanket primary operated, and institute a new two-tiered general election system, where the first ballot is called a "primary." This is not a blanket primary any longer, it is a first ballot in a general election.

If our state Supreme Court cares so much about people knowing what they are voting for, and overturning initiatives where there was no confusion at all about what the initiative did, shouldn't they overturn this initiative for its proponents making clearly false statements about what it does?

Just a thought.

Finally, a thought about party preferences. About names. Why not create a new party, called "Republican Nominee"? That is the name of the new party. And if someone who is not the actual nominee of the party uses that name, well, they are falsely claiming to be the nominee. Now the confusion argument that Roberts, Alito, and Thomas said wasn't obvious, is perfectly obvious. So not only could I-872 be overturned on such grounds, but anyone not the nominee who uses that designation could be sued for misrepresentation.

Normally, you couldn't have a party called "Republican Nominee," because the Republican Party would sue over the confusion. But in this case, obviously, the party would choose to allow it, since it would be used for their benefit.

I am not advocating anything above. Just adding more fuel to the fire, erm, food for thought. slashdot.org

Washington voters have, for a long time, had a "blanket primary," where they could vote for any candidate for any party.

For perfectly valid reasons, the parties said this makes no sense: the party should get to determine its own candidates, not the average voter, unless those voters choose to identify with the party, even if it is only choosing to participate in that party's primary.

The state says that this new "top two" system to replace the closed primary does not choose the party's nominee, but in practice, that is exactly what it does, since the party's nominee can only be on the ballot if he is in the top two, so the party's nominee becomes a meaningless thing, and worse, the government is, in essence, lying to the people, saying that the person on the ballot who bears the party's name represents the party, even if he doesn't.

Justice Thomas says, well, the law SAYS it is not choosing the party's nominees. So therefore it isn't, and since we have no instances of voter confusion, we can't assume they will be confused (despite the fact that every change to the primary thus far in recent years has been greeted by far more confusion than lack of it).

But it is a specious claim, regardless of the potential for confusion: Thomas is saying that the party preference listed with the candidate's name has no meaning, but if it has no meaning, why include it at all? That it is included necessarily implies meaning, and that meaning is, quite unavoidably, that the candidate is claiming affiliation with the party, affiliation the party may or may not accede to. It is not merely about whether the candidate is nominated by the party, but whether the party agrees to any association with that candidate at all. This is at the very heart of the right to association.

I wrote this before reading Scalia's dissent, but he echoes the sentiment:

... it seems to me quite impossible for the ballot to satisfy a reasonable voter that the candidate is not "associated with" the party for which he has expressed a preference. He has associated himself with the party by his very expression of a preference -- and that indeed is the whole purpose of allowing the preference to be expressed.

Scalia finds a good analogy:

Washington's law is like a law that encourages Oscar the Grouch (Sesame Street's famed bad-taste resident of a garbage can) to state a "preference" for Campbell's at every point of sale, while barring the soup company from disavowing his endorsement, or indeed using its name at all, in those same crucial locations.

You may not care about any of this, but there are other problems. What happens when decide you want to put some independent or third-party candidate on the general election ballot? The way it used to be is that if you just got enough signatures and paid the fee, you would be on the ballot. Not anymore. Now you need to do all that AND be in the top two. Good luck.

This is catastrophic for all third parties and independents, who have always been on the general election ballot, but now, will never -- or almost never -- be. You will now have FEWER choices on the general election ballot. Congratulations.

Unfortunately, our primary system in Washington has become basically just a "pre-election." We don't have a primary in this state anymore, not for normal definitions of the word. It's simply the first phase of the general election: we are not picking nominees, we are actually voting for candidates, just like in the general election.

The real question should be at this point, why bother with a primary at all? As the "top two" system just creates a two-tiered general election system, we are wasting money by having it at all. Just put all the candidates on the general election ballot and be done with it. It is literally throwing away time and money, as the "primary" no longer serves any purpose. Indeed, it serves a negative purpose, since fewer people participate: indeed, in 2006, a Supreme Court Justice was elected in the primary, instead of the general! Which is better: 39 percent of voters voting for judges, or 65 percent? Such atrocities happen when there is no clear purpose for having a primary in the first place.

Further, now that the primary serves no purpose, the parties won't use them. They will endorse their candidates for office and throw all their money behind candidates at their conventions, before the primary, thus giving you less choice than ever in the primary. There may be more names there, but fewer people who have a chance of winning, because the parties will have already made their choices, and the money will already have moved to those candidates.

If you voted for I-872, you voted for the government to lie to you; to diminish the right of association; to abolish your right to put a candidate on the general election ballot; to have more names but less choice for the fewer who vote in the primary; and less choice in the general.

You got your blanket primary back, but you lost a lot more than you gained.

NB: Thomas, Alito, and Roberts -- who voted in favor of the top two system -- all explicitly (in Thomas' court opinion, and in Roberts' concurring opinion, joined by Alito) left room open for the top two primary to be overturned in the future, if confusion does occur. Further, while a candidate has the right to place his party preference on the ballot, that doesn't mean he -- and the state or county government -- can't be sued by the party, as the law includes no exemption from such a misrepresentation of affiliation. slashdot.org

In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court of the U.S. upholds the "will of the people" by having a primary system that allows anyone to vote for any candidate of any party, and allows any candidate to list any party affiliation, thereby taking away the right to association.

As usual, I agreed with Justice Scalia.

The article notes that our state attorney general Rob McKenna "argued there was no evidence that the parties would be harmed, since they can publicize through advertising and other means which candidates they support." Perhaps the GOP will use their limited money to advertise for candidates other than Reed and McKenna, then ... ?

This will likely result in the process becoming MORE closed, as the parties will choose their candidates in convention, instead of the primary, and will likely sue the county/state if a non-sanctioned candidate appears on the ballot. Your tax dollars will be wasted, and you will have less voice in the primary. How's that feel? slashdot.org

In last week's Meet the Press, former Senator Tom Daschle said that each state's election is equivalent, from Rhode Island to California: "There's no question in my mind that the strongest candidate is the candidate who wins the most elections. Barack Obama has won 29 contests. Hillary Clinton has won 13 contests. That's the bottom line. There is no, no if, ands or buts about it."

If the number of contests won determines who is the strongest candidate, that means each contest is equal, which means each state should have the same number of delegates to national convention.

Of course, if each state should NOT have the same number of delegates, then the states' contests are not equal, which means that the number of states won is irrelevant.

The Democrats crack me up. Another example of stupidity from this week: Senator Schumer blaming President Bush because the Democrats have been successful at convincing people that Bush can't handle the economy. Seriously. He said one of the main problems of the eocnomy is that people don't believe Bush can handle it. It's the old "stop hitting yourself!" line.

I think George W. Bush will most be remembered for making people forget just how dysfunctional and silly the Democratic Party really is.

Also, I think I henceforth will call insipid lines from Democrats "Daschumers." Used in a sentence: "Wow, did you hear that Daschumer from Ron Sims, when he said that the error rate of King County Elections was something any bank would be envious of?" slashdot.org

Back in December, John Kerry -- you might remember him, he ran for President once -- endorsed Barack Obama for President, in large part because Obama is black. In his own words, on This Week:

Who better than Barack Obama to talk about -- and just by his person signify to the world the difference that it means to get an open door to a good school? Who better than Barack Obama to talk to young blacks in America or disaffected young people or -- anybody, and sort of say, you see what happens if you have a dream and you pursue it and you work at it?

I was just in South Africa. And I picked up the newspaper one day and there was a big headline on the second page, "Obama Says" the following. They have a huge issue there of credibility of their leadership and the issue of AIDS. I personally believe, having been 20 years, 24 years on the Foreign Relations Committee, that if Barack Obama can say things to African-American leaders that a white president just can't say and I think there's a power in that.

Please do not tell me that Geraldine Ferraro was wrong when she said that Obama wouldn't be where he is if he was white. Obama's own supporters -- including, here, the last Democratic nominee for President -- are giving his color as a major reason for their support. So I can't see how it can be wrong to say that his color is a major reason why he is getting their support.

(Side note: listening to that interview at the time, I wanted George Stephanopolous to ask Kerry if he would have voted for Obama over himself had Obama run in 2004. Not that I think Kerry would have said anything interesting in response, of course, but it would've been fun -- like old times -- watching him try to wriggle out of it.) slashdot.org

Presidential Percentages

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The last Democrat to win 50 percent of the so-called "popular vote"* for President was Jimmy Carter in 1976, with 50.081 percent. Bill Clinton never did: he got 43 and 49 percent, respectively. Before Carter it was LBJ in '64 with 61 percent. Before that, FDR with 53 percent in 1944. Truman and Kennedy never got 50 percent, either.

So two of the five Democrats since FDR did not get 50 percent, but all five elected Republicans got 50 percent of the "popular vote:" Eisenhower twice, Nixon once (second term), Reagan twice, Bush I once, and Bush II once (second term) all got 50 percent.

Also note that of the five, only Clinton was elected for two terms; four of the five Republicans were elected for two terms.

It's a grand total of, since FDR, seven-of-nine terms with more than 50 percent of the vote for Republicans, versus two-of-six for the Democrats.

I looked all this up because I knew Clinton never got 50 percent, but wasn't sure about all the rest before Reagan (only a few, like Nixon in '72). And I was thinking about Clinton, because it is hard for me to see how Bill Clinton could only 49 percent of the vote against Bob Dole in '96, and Hillary could be expected to do much better against John McCain in '08. I know there's 12 years separating the two, but Bill was much more popular than Hillary, and Dole much less so than McCain.

Of course, Obama might win the nomination. He has a chance to win ... unless people actually look at his record and his platform.

Now, granted, the last time a Democrat won with more than 50 percent was when the popularity of the GOP was at a nearly all-time low. And that's the normal story: the last three majority-popular-vote winners for the Democrats were propelled to victory by tragedy: the Great Depression, JFK's assassination, and Watergate. Two of those were blamed directly on the GOP.

And we see some of the same this year: a very unpopular Republican Party. The difference this time is that the Democratic Party today has nowhere near the popularity of '32 or '64. It's a lot closer today to '76, where Carter won not so much because he was a Democrat (who were at the time still viewed negatively largely because of Vietnam and civil rights), but because the Democrats weren't Republicans. But Carter was facing the man who pardoned Nixon, who while well-liked, was not widely respected across the country for many actions taken over the course of his long political career. And it was merely two years after the pardon. And despite all that, Ford still made it a very close election.

McCain is in a very different situation. Voters have already taken out their frustrations on the GOP in 2006, removing them from power in both houses of Congress. And McCain is not viewed as having strong ties to most of the problems of the Bush Administration, except Iraq, and even there, McCain has a strong record of opposing the methods used by Bush, whether on torture or military strategy or troop deployment. Of course, the Democrats are already trying to tie him to Bush as much as possible, but for most people whose votes are available, it won't work.

I've thought for a long time that McCain was the best candidate to face the Democrats, and everything I've seen in the intervening two-plus years has only backed that up, including history. And that's not even including a potential "Nader factor" (who will likely increase his influence over 2004, where he became an essential nonfactor because the anti-Bush factor was much stronger than it will be this time, and drove more people to vote for Kerry).

* Of course, the "popular vote" has no real meaning by itself, so feel free to disregard everything I say about it. slashdot.org

As reported by KING5, terrorists claiming to be from the Earth Liberation Front have burned down empty homes in Woodinville.

I have nothing much to say about this, because the criticism is obvious. I would like to point out that, apart from the obvious fact that this creates pollution and causes even more trees to be cut down, that using trees for houses is actually a good thing for the environment, provided they are older trees: they are mostly full of CO2 and we can cut them down and replace them with new trees that can suck up more CO2. But when you burn down a home, that releases the stored CO2.

Burning down homes is one of the worst things you can do for the environment: far worse than building them in the first place. But terrorists don't really care much for facts. slashdot.org

The braindeads over at Snohomish County have approved the position of a county "inclusion manager," who will "strategically focus the county's actions to ensure that everyone who lives in Snohomish County has fair access to services and that they have an equal opportunity to contribute to the county's services as employees or volunteers."

What the press release don't say is that it will cost taxpayers $75,000 this year as an "emergency appropriation." I'll leave it to the reader to guess at what makes this an emergency.

Note that there is absolutely no evidence that there is any need whatsosver for this position. They throw around this one statistic: nonwhites are 18 percent of the county population, and 10 percent of the county government. But that, obviously, doesn't mean there isn't fair access or equal opportunity, nor does it demonstrate a problem that needs to be fixed.

(Maybe whites are just more likely to be dumb or desperate enough to want to work for a county that is becoming increasingly difficult to work in due to poor managament and incompetence? Just a thought.)

County Councilman Dave Gossett said -- and I am not making this up -- "adding an inclusion manager is a major step in doing here what this country is all about."

But Councilman Brian Sullivan went one step closer toward the intellectual abyss, saying, "as one speaker today said, 'Inclusion means everyone,' and that's what hiring an inclusion manager is all about: everyone." Welp, I'm convinced!

Councilman John Koster, the only Republican on the Council -- who, along with term-limited councilmen Kirke Sievers (D) and Gary Nelson (R) killed the position in 2006 -- also had the only sane thing to say about it this time around: "with the economy at risk, we simply can't afford this position."

That should go without saying, although I'd add that even if we had money coming out of our ears, we still couldn't afford this position any more than we could afford to use the money for a bonfire for warmth. Come to think of it, both a bonfire and this position are similar: they do nothing but make us feel better.

Even Councilman Mike Cooper unknowingly agrees it is a useless position, saying that voting it down was a "slap in the face." There's no actual argument about WHY we need it. We just, you know, do. Because it's offensive that we don't. Boeing and Microsoft have the position, so we should too. slashdot.org

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

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

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This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from March 2008.

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