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United States

Journal Journal: Koster/Larsen Debate 2

Many people, including myself, were disappointed that the Koster campaign chose to not participate in the KCTS 9 debate last Thursday.* But the next day, the pair debated and TVW has the video online.

If most voters watch this debate it's hard to see how Larsen could be re-elected, for one simple reason: everything Larsen said was about increasing the size, scope, power, and influence of the federal government. For every problem, Larsen sees the federal government as the solution. Even when Larsen correctly identifies mistakes Bush and the Republicans made in the last decade, Larsen indicts himself and his fellow Democrats because they want to do the same things the Republicans did, except more and bigger. Koster wants to go in the other direction: forward to liberty and smaller government instead of the monster debt that the Democrats and Republicans gave us last decade.

* I personally disagree with the Koster campaign decision to not participate on Thursday. Their stated reason was that Herald reporter and columnist Jerry Cornfield was one of the panelists, and the Koster campaign deemed him unacceptable because he's on the left, and they didn't believe he'd be fair. My take is that Koster could have handled Cornfield just fine, and that there's far less-fair journalists out there that Koster will run into if he's elected, and that he should have done the debate ... especially since, as this debate shows, the more Koster can put himself out there, side-by-side to Larsen, the better he looks: and that's something no journalist can take away, no matter how unfair they are.

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

United States

Journal Journal: Larsen and Koster on KCTS 9 9

Last night KCTS 9 had nice profiles on both John Koster (R) and Rick Larsen (D-inc.), the candidates for Washington's Second Congressional District (whom we collectively interviewed recently here on Sound Politics). The KCTS piece uncritically showed Larsen's dishonest ad falsely accusing Koster of wanting to privatize social security, and referred to an "anti-incumbent" wave that is generally understood to be anti-establishment, not anti-incumbent, but otherwise it was a pretty good piece.

The discussion afterward, however, was fairly awful. All of the pundits -- including former state GOP chair Chris Vance -- said the only thing Koster has going for him is the "wave" in favor of Republican candidates. Joni Balter said Koster is "rigid" and "inflexible," while Larsen has "been there" for his constituents (as if Koster hasn't been). Perhaps she missed the memo that most voters in the Second CD want government to "be there" for us by being a lot less "flexible" on government spending.

Next Thursday, October 21, at 7 p.m., KCTS 9 will host a debate between Larsen and Koster. Tune in!

Also check out this non-endorsement endorsement of Koster by the Seattle Times. They call Larsen out for his dishonesty, his lack of fiscal responsibility, and his desire to increase taxes. They praise Koster for his fiscal prudence, his experience, his responsible record, and says he would benefit Congress. But they say they don't endorse him because he agrees too much with his own constituents: he is anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, and is (as every scientist and responsible politician is required by the rules of logic to be) skeptical of anthropogenic global warming.*

The Seattle Times says they endorse Larsen, but at the same time, they demonstrate that Koster would better represent his constituents. Draw your own conclusions.

* If you're a liberal, you're supposed to be skeptical of religion, skeptical of politicians, skeptical of authority and media of every kind, but not skeptical of anthropogenic global warming. Even the IPCC leaves open the door that AGW may not be true; how could any lay person think there's no room for that? To decry skepticism in the face of uncertainty is to be anti-intellectual, and it is incumbent upon every policymaker and scientist to remain open-minded on all such issues.

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

User Journal

Journal Journal: What a socialist is 9

Anyone who defines what a socialist IS and states that therefore someone is NOT a socialist doesn't understand the word "socialist" or the English language very well.

The fact is, "socialist" has many meanings. In both French and English, for around 150 years, "socialist" has had a definition -- which has been very commonly used, even to today -- of, simply, massive social control by government for the purpose of taking from some people to give to others. As Bastiat said, for example:

Now, legal plunder can be committed in an infinite number of ways. Thus we have an infinite number of plans for organizing it: tariffs, protection, benefits, subsidies, encouragements, progressive taxation, public schools, guaranteed jobs, guaranteed profits, minimum wages, a right to relief, a right to the tools of labor, free credit, and so on, and so on. All these plans as a whole -- with their common aim of legal plunder -- constitute socialism.

Socialism does not just regard the ownership of the means of production. It's never only meant that, not in our lifetimes. Obama does favor controlling society through "an infinite number of ways" in order to take from some people to give to others. This is a perfectly reasonable, correct, and valid use of the word "socialism" ... and it's not a matter of "human dignity," but a matter of whether government should be the instrument of providing that "dignity." I contend that destroying liberty to give "dignity" to someone else is itself taking away the dignity of all.

Or, in other words of Bastiat:

Mr. de Lamartine once wrote to me thusly: "Your doctrine is only the half of my program. You have stopped at liberty; I go on to fraternity." I answered him: "The second half of your program will destroy the first."

United States

Journal Journal: Murray Pretends There Is No Deficit

Several times in tonight's debate, Senator Patty Murray said that keeping taxes at their current level would make it impossible to fund critical federal programs. But the Democratic Congress, with Murray's votes, has shown no restraint in spending caused by a lack of revenue, racking up deficits of trillions of dollars.

On what planet does anyone believe that the Murray, or the Democratic Congress, is restrained by a lack of revenue?

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

United States

Journal Journal: State Liquor Status Quo "Economically ... Doesn't Make Sense" 1

Am I the only one who noticed that in Robert Mak's piece on the liquor privatization initiatives on KING 5, a supporter of the status quo said that the status quo doesn't make economic sense?

John Guadnola, Executive Director of the Washington Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association -- which opposes both I-1100 and I-1105 -- said that if I-1100 passes, "[Safeway] won't have nearly the variety [as it has now] because economically, it just doesn't make sense for them."

But if it doesn't make economic sense for Safeway to have that variety, then why do we do it? If carrying a certain number of bottles in a local Safeway doesn't make economic sense, scaling up as we do now can't fix that problem. So Guadnola is basically admitting that -- in a time of severe recession, no less -- he and his group are backing a system that wastes money.

Of course, the truth is that wide variety will continue to exist. I've lived in several other states, all of which allowed retailers to buy with volume discounts and decide what they wanted to carry, and all of which had a wide variety of liquor widely available. We have one of the only states with this sort of a system, and all you have to do is look at the other states and see that almost every criticism of I-1100 is based on fantasy. The only true criticisms I've seen of I-1100 are that it would give us more access to the products we want to buy, which is, as best I can figure, a good thing.

(Oh, and I should also mention that the criticism that this takes money from schools is necessarily false. Any revenues lost by the schools -- if required to make "ample provision" for education -- must be made up by taking it from other programs, or increasing other taxes. Our Constitution requires it. For I-1100 to significantly hurt schools, our state government would have to violate the Constitution.)

Another truth is that the people most ardently defending the status quo, as well as the people behind I-1105, are no less influenced by their bottom lines than the backers of I-1100 ... and probably moreso. There are many people -- like me -- who don't consume liquor or are not in the liquor business, but value the freedom I-1100 provides.

But all of the people I've seen backing I-1105 or the status quo are in businesses that do, or would, profit from the government protection of their business interests, such as Guadnola's organization, whose members control about 95 percent of all beer and wine distribution in the state ... a virtual monopoly that is jeopardized by privatization. Of course, I have no problem with any of the companies represented by the WBWWA. They are probably all fine businesses doing fine work. I do have a problem with government being used to protect their interests, at the expense of the other interests of other companies and individuals.

My two cents? Vote Yes on I-1100, and No on I-1105 and other forms of government control.

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

United States

Journal Journal: Candy Tax

In order to avoid the new Candy Tax in Washington State, I am carefully selecting what candies to buy for Halloween. Candy is legally defined as not having any flour, so I am buying up Twix, Kit Kat, Twizzlers, and -- my favorite of all -- Nestle Crunch. Mmmmmm.

The funny thing is that I've found that flour products actually make me gain weight more than products more heavily based on sugar. I don't think Michelle Obama would approve of Christine Gregoire encouraging me to gain weight. And certainly, no one sane would approve of the government encouragement to punish the makers of certain candies over others just because it lists "flour" on the ingredients. But I must comply! Christine knows best!

Do your part by helping me and Christine punish the makers of candy without flour: make your Halloween a no-flour-free zone!

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

United States

Journal Journal: Koster vs. Larsen: Your Turn 3

The two campaigns for Washington's Second Congressional District, for incumbent Rick Larsen (D) and challenger John Koster (R), have agreed to answer questions posted by you, the readers and voters. This is going to be a close race, and perhaps one of the most-watched in the nation.

So here's how this works: you guys ask the questions, posting them in this Sound Politics discussion. I pick good ones and submit them to the candidates. They send their answers back to me, and I post them. I don't censor, edit, or modify their answers in any way (though as "interviewer," I may ask for clarifications, giving them a chance to revise their answers).

It's no secret that I want John Koster to win this election. But I'll do my best to pick good questions, and since everyone can see all the questions being asked by the commenters, everyone can decide for themselves if I did a reasonable job.

I'll close the questioning at the end of this week. Everyone -- from libertarian to liberal -- is welcome to submit questions here, but not to engage in discussions about the questions or candidates, or to be abusive. Ask questions: don't answer them or fight about them.

Have at it.

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

United States

Journal Journal: Koster Winning, Berkey Losing

There are some surprising twists in our interminable Washington election.

Republican John Koster has come from behind to take the lead in the Second Congressional District race by 160 votes, and is likely to end up beating incumbent Rick Larsen. The good news for Larsen is that the total Democrat vote is over 50 percent; the good news for Koster is that independents who didn't vote in the primary will likely swing his way in the general.

Of course, Koster won the primary in 2000, too: but Larsen ended up winning the general. But it was an open seat in 2000, and that the incumbent might finish second in the primary is really bad for Larsen.

Similarly, incumbent Democratic Senator Jean Berkey (38th LD) is coming in third in her primary, and is likely to be eliminated from the general election ballot. At 32.24% of the vote, she's falling behing Conservative candidate Rod Rieger at 32.63%, and fellow Democratic candidate Nick Harper at 35.13%.

According to Jerry Cornfield at The Herald, she'd be the only incumbent for the state legislature to fail to get to the general election this year. More incumbents, like Sound Politics troll Geoff Simpson, are likely to lose in the general, though.

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

United States

Journal Journal: Best Email of the Day

From the Democratic Party: "The only thing Boehner seems serious about is raising campaign cash. After the speech, he told reporters that he's prepared to help Republicans spend $50 million to win back Congress. ... Democrats have a different plan. We're asking supporters like you to make a contribution to the By the People Fund."

How dare Boehner say he's trying to raise money! We're different: we want to raise money!

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

United States

Journal Journal: Larsen's Hypocrisy

As I mentioned yesterday, Rick Larsen criticized John Koster for saying good things about the Tea Party, even though Larsen himself has recently gone to a Tea Party candidate forum to try to get their votes.

And Larsen has twice criticized Koster over oil -- once saying Sarah Palin's endorsement of Koster would bring in money from oil companies, and then attacking Koster for wanting to drill more -- even though Larsen's the only candidate in the race to receive money from an oil company: BP.

And this morning I noticed that, despite attacking a display of flags from our nation's history that included the Confederate flag (which, last I checked, is part of our nation's history), Rick Larsen was at a presentation of those exact flags last summer. He's sitting next to the presenter, 38th LD candidate Hugh Fleet, in the fourth image in the slideshow.

Did Larsen tell the veterans in attendance of his disdain for showing the Confederate flag in a historical context? Probably not, just like he didn't tell the Tea Party members of his disdain for them, nor tell BP how much he hated oil companies when he took their money.

OK, actually, I am being too hard on Rick: he certainly, as a smart and rational person, does not hate Tea Party members or oil companies, nor does he have any problem with showing the Confederate flag in a historical context. He just dishonestly implies otherwise when it comes time to attacking his opponent.

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

United States

Journal Journal: Larsen Puts His Desperation In Video Form

This video from WA-2 Democratic incumbent Rick Larsen is hilariously sad in its level of desperation and deception.

Larsen first implies, incredibly, that just because -- like hundreds of millions of Americans -- Republican challenger John Koster thinks favorably of the Tea Party movement, that therefore he is a racist whackjob.

I wonder if Rick Larsen told the people of the Tea Party events he attended that he thought they were all racist whackjobs. (Larsen right now has a link on his own web page to an article about the event he attended, where, apparently, Larsen didn't have the cajones to tell the attendees how he really felt about them. This reminds me of the time Larsen attacked Sarah Palin for using the word "target" in a political context, while linking to a Seattle Times article on his web site using the same language. You'd think he would be more careful about that sort of rookie mistake.)

Then Larsen -- who is the only candidate in the race who has received a campaign contribution from BP -- actually attacks Koster for doing what Obama did: saying we need more domestic oil drilling, shortly before the BP accident happened. It's a fair comment on Koster's views, but it's also something the head of his own party agreed with at the time, just a few months ago.

And then Larsen turns back to attacking the Tea Party as racist as a means to attack Koster, even going so far as to show a Confederate flag juxtaposed against "Koster's" parade entries: but that flag was one of many different flags that was part of a larger historical flags presentation, and in no way advocates that flag in particular. And despite what the video claimed, it wasn't even Koster's parade entry, it was the county GOP's.

The sad thing is that Larsen is ruining his own good name with his blatantly dishonest attacks. So many people have told me, "Rick Larsen's a good guy, I just disagree with his politics." Implying that Koster is racist just because a tiny minority of people in a nationwide movement are racist is the exact opposite of being a "good guy." It's being a damned liar.

But I guess Larsen has nothing else to say. He can't run on his own record of record debt and deficit; he can't attack Koster for things he has actually done or said in his long career; he can only attack Koster by dishonestly taking pictures out of context and implying he is guilty of crimes committed by people he's never met and has nothing to do with.

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

United States

Journal Journal: New Idea for More Effective Government 6

I have a new idea for restructuring our federal government.

Ministers with the power to restrict government activity.

The Minister of Shut Up, for example, has the power to force anyone in government, including the President, to shut up. So when the President says, "My predecessor's failed policies are to blame for the recession," the Minister tells him to shut up. This will greatly increase the quality of our public discourse.

There's also a Minister of Liberty who has the power to overturn or restrict any government action that violates civil liberties, and a Minister of Financial Responsibility that can veto any spending that isn't covered by revenues.

Now, here's the important part: obviously, these positions are only as useful as the people who hold those positions. So if you appoint them, or elect them popularly, you have a big problem. Politicians would appoint people who would not restrict their actions, and the people would elect people who would allow the government to do what they want government to do. It gets us nowhere.

So we will have a popular vote, but the only people who get to vote are people who have a real interest in upholding the restrictions involved. So only people intolerant of bull get to vote on the Minister of Shut Up. Only civil libertarians could vote for Minister of Liberty. And only fiscal conservatives get to vote for Minister of Financial Responsibility.

You might wonder then, what about the liberals? What do they get to vote for? It's only fair that everyone should get to vote for some position, but it seems like at least two of those positions are tilted heavily to the right, and we don't want liberals to feel left out. So, we need a position for them to vote for that is involved in very actively pursuing large government, in taking care of everyone's needs, in fighting against liberty, and so on.

We already have one: President.

So liberals get to decide what government will do, independents get to tell people to shut up, libertarians get to restrict government from hurting our liberty, and conservatives get to say what we won't spend money on because it's too expensive. Everyone gets to vote for only one thing.

I have not decided yet how best to determine whether someone really is a civil libertarian or liberal or what-have-you. Maybe some sort of lie detector test, or maybe just force everyone to pick one position to vote for: they will vote for the position they care most about, which will be the one that is actuated to push their interests, whether it is making government do things, securing liberty, keeping fiscal sanity, or just telling everyone else to shut up.

I think it could work.

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

United States

Journal Journal: Bellingham Herald's Taylor Falsely Says Bailout Claim Not "The Truth"

Sam Taylor over at The Bellingham Herald quotes a John Koster press release titled "Larsen Votes to Create Permanent Bailout Culture."

Taylor says, "I've already blogged on here that the truth is far different, that the verbatim language of the measure sets up mechanisms for the institutions themselves to pay for any restructuring (not taxpayers). The New York Times also has a good, in-depth piece on how that restructuring works, too, over here."

But the problem is that -- as that very New York Times piece clearly points out -- "The bill will still allow the government to fashion ad hoc remedies in the case of a failing financial institution. ... [I]t appears there is enough wiggle room in the bill and elsewhere in the laws that the government will still be able to structure unique one-off solutions in any financial crisis." The taxpayers, according to the NYT article, very well may be on the hook: "Even if it is not money, backdoor federal assistance in one form or another may arguably still be provided to other parties to permit them to arrange a private deal."

Taylor ignores those facts and instead hyperfocuses on two things: the phrase in Koster's press release headline (which does not even appear in the text of the press release) that Rick Larsen voted "to create permanent bailout culture," and that the bill sets up a system so that the taxpayers won't foot the bill. As to the latter, the NYT piece addresses it sufficiently to make the point: "there are provisions that would still encourage government deal-making," and "while the bill forbids the use of taxpayer money to 'prevent the liquidation of any financial company,' there is always latitude in times of crisis to stretch the law as was done during the financial crisis." To argue that there won't be bailouts still happening just doesn't pass the smell, laugh, or fact test, and even his own link to the NYT says Taylor is wrong. Yes, going through restructuring in the bill might not result in taxpayer funding, but there's many other ways to provide "assistance."

As to the former, what Koster's press release actually said was the bill "will likely open the door for permanent taxpayer-funded bailouts for Wall Street." Far from being not "the truth" -- given the fact that even the NYT says that deal-making, wiggle room, ad hoc remedies, latitude, and backdoor assistance will still encouraged, allowed, and arguably still provided -- it's a perfectly reasonable belief to have. We know from history that "give an inch, take a mile" is the rule of the day in DC, as in most political circles. Believing that if they can bail out, they will bail out, is not remotely unreasonable.

If you believe bailouts are good, fine. But let's not pretend that -- like Obama said -- this bill prevents them from happening, or that it is somehow not "the truth" to believe that, under this bill, bailouts will be encouraged.

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

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