by Darryl, 06/29/2012, 11:56 PM

Roy Zimmerman with “Vote Republican,” the Virginia edition.

Sam Seder: Woops! GOP admits voter ID laws are a scam.

Health Care Ruling:

Thom: The Good, the Bad, and the Very, Very Ugly.

Jon with Watergate-gate-gate-gate-gate (via Political Wire).

Mark Fiore: Little Suzie Newsykins on free speech—units.

Eric Schwartz brings back a classic.

Opening statements from 1st CD candidates debate 27 Jun.

Immigration Politics:

Sam Seder: 63% of Republicans still believe there were WMD in Iraq at invasion.

Pap: Fighting the voter suppression tricks.

Ann Telnaes: Supreme Court strikes down Montana corporation campaign spending law .

Clinton and Bush: A Bad Lip Reading experience.

SlateNews: Sen. Rand Paul holds up key flood insurance bill with anti-abortion amendment.

Thom: More Good, Bad, and Very, Very Ugly.


Young Turks: The bizarre Texas GOP platform.

White House: West Wing Week.

Thom: The “two Black guys in the White House trying to take away our guns” conspiracy theory.

Sam Seder: Rush Limbaugh throws tantrum because you can’t jail someone for free speech

Senate candidate Tommy Thompson mistakes refers to 9/11 As 9/18 while bragging up his experience.

Last week’s Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza can be found here.

by Carl, 06/29/2012, 5:09 PM

When you’re an elected official in Washington State acting in the capacity of your office, you can’t decide who gets to attend your press conferences. They’re open to the public. But Rob McKenna doesn’t seem to realize that.

Yesterday morning, Attorney General Rob McKenna notified media across the state that he would be speaking about the US Supreme Court’s decision to uphold most of the Affordable Care Act. McKenna was one of 26 state attorneys general who sued to block the Affordable Care Act. But when Stranger reporter David “Goldy” Goldstein arrived for the press conference at McKenna’s downtown Seattle offices, a guard was waiting for him. Cameramen, radio people, and reporters were granted free entry. Goldy was prevented from entering.

“They are physically blocking me from entering,” Goldy told me by phone, seven minutes before the 11:30 a.m. press conference was scheduled to begin. A spokesman for McKenna, Dan Sytman, had told Goldy a few minutes before that Goldy wasn’t a journalist and then blocked him from entering. A McKenna staffer had also grabbed Goldy by the shoulders and turned him away from the door.

Of course this isn’t too surprising coming as it does from a man who doesn’t recognize the difference between campaign mode and serving the public. Still, we should expect better from our elected officials.

by Carl, 06/29/2012, 7:52 AM

My questions in bold, Gael Tarleton’s answers are below.

1) The state’s paramount duty is education. Do you feel the state is living up to that duty? If not, what needs to happen to live up to it?

We are not fully funding public education. It is the moral and constitutional obligation we must meet. To fully fund public education, we must think about providing early childhood education through lifelong learning. We need to change the discussion so that we prioritize funding to achieve shared education goals:

- We want 80 percent of high school students earning their high school diplomas 10 years from now. Therefore, we should fund public school systems to help them reach that goal – and that means working with teachers, administrators, parents and kids to help communities with the resources needed to succeed.

- We want early childhood learning centers in every school district in the state to be accessible and affordable. Therefore, we must fund programs in parts of the state with limited numbers of early childhood learning centers.

- We want our higher education system focused on serving our residents who are ready for college-level courses and technical school programs. Therefore, we must fund programs that help high school teachers and college deans and departmental chairs co-develop high school curricula, especially in English, Life Sciences, Foreign Languages, Applied Mathematics, and Sociology/History.

- Our higher educational institutions must have the No. 1 priority of making higher education affordable and accessible to all our citizens for lifelong learning. Any newly available revenues must immediately support hiring new teachers so that more courses are taught, which in turn will allow higher ed to admit more students each year. At a minimum, we should aspire to have 70 percent of incoming undergraduate students at our four-year institutions each year be Washington residents. We should expect and plan for having 90 percent of first- time students in our community colleges and technical schools be Washington residents. We must place special priority in the next decade on having our higher education system serve high school graduates from low-income and immigrant communities, returning veterans, and adults who have lost jobs and are preparing for a new career.

The most important task we face is to set shared goals now, develop a 10-year funding plan, and examine how existing revenues must be more effectively allocated to get to work on these four goals. As new revenues are available from various sources, we will have a strategic plan for how best to allocate those dollars.

We have the following options for public revenues: school bond levies in local jurisdictions; state tax revenues to support low-interest student loans, salaries, operations, capital infrastructure, and programmatic initiatives; federal grants to match state programs for student loans, free- and reduced-lunch programs; and potentially new taxes if the state’s Supreme Court upholds the King County ruling that I-1053 is unconstitutional.

From a budgeting and planning perspective, we must have two scenarios in mind: what we do if I-1053 is overturned, and what we do if it is not. The obligation to fully fund public education is the constant in a sea of uncertainty. How we meet this obligation is up to us. After working for eight years at the University of Washington to help secure millions of dollars in grants and gifts for faculty and students, I know the impact that these investments have on the economy, environment, and quality of life for all Washingtonians. We must meet this funding challenge.

2) Washington State voters recently rejected an income tax. Most of the revenue that the legislature might be able to pass is quite regressive. Will you push for revenue, and if so, how will you make sure the burdens don’t fall on the poorest Washingtonians?

Yes, I will be an advocate for the following kinds of revenue options and reforms:

- Examine the current constraints on how local jurisdictions, especially special-purpose districts, are able to use their existing taxing authority with property taxes.

- Develop strategies for enabling local jurisdictions to enter into time-limited partnerships where they create funding mechanisms for building a 21st Century infrastructure for a clean economy: multi-jurisdictional transit systems; construction and technology solutions to stop toxic runoff from local communities to protect Puget Sound, rivers and streams; shared investment in renewable energy infrastructure such as electric charging networks; and other capital-intensive investments that local jurisdictions cannot handle on their own.

- Develop a rate-paying “environmental infrastructure district” system to have all users pay into the equivalent of a public utilities district. This is the kind of progressive reform that makes all of us responsible for clean air and clean water infrastructure investments.

- Adopt “system tolling” on critical transportation corridors to fund regional transit solutions and safe pedestrian/bicycling corridors that separate freight and autos from bikes and pedestrian users.

- Identify a more fair and equitable way to use B&O revenues to reinvest in what small-business owners need most and do best: to help them hire and retain more employees, reduce the cost of start-up loans, incentivize innovative strategies for clean energy and clean trade; and make them the centerpiece of how we build a modern economy beyond fossil fuels.

- When we pass legislation regarding tax exemptions, we must understand what programs will be most affected by exempting private entities from paying their taxes. State legislators should identify what sources of revenue will be used to protect against the constant erosion of critical funding obligations resulting from tax exemptions.

3) There is a good chance that the State Senate and/or the Governor’s Mansion will be controlled by Republicans after the next election, and certainly most legislators will be more conservative than people who would be elected in a Seattle district. Given that how will you get your agenda passed?

There is an equally good chance that the Governor’s Mansion, State’s Attorney General, and both State legislative bodies will be controlled by Democrats. Recent Elway polls show that the state’s political climate and voter party affiliation are not growing more conservative: voters are instead becoming more independent. Some observers believe independents tend to vote Democratic more frequently than they vote Republican. The 36th District is frequently described as the anchor of liberal, progressive Seattle politics. It is also home to more than 20,000 working-class jobs in the Ballard-Interbay Manufacturing Industrial Center, including 15,000 jobs related to the fishing and seafood processing markets. There are thriving small business communities in every corner of the District. The District is where the working class and middle class co-exist. This strengthens our communities because we believe in teachers, metal workers, fishers, start-up companies, family-owned small businesses, parks for kids, and the dignity of work with living wages, regardless of the type of job a person might hold.

We have an aggressive agenda for job creation, expanding higher education affordability, providing healthcare, and protecting our environment. We are also home to a recreational boating industry that generates $3.5 billion in revenues across the state, as well as home to the grain terminal at Pier 86 that makes Washington’s agricultural firms competitive in a global economy where 90 percent of their business comes from exports through the Port of Seattle. When we focus on creating jobs, expanding markets for Washington companies, and strengthening opportunities for Washingtonians to pursue higher education, we will help legislators from all over the state share common cause.

That said, I’ve learned from experience that solutions to problems don’t happen with group think. I don’t just reach across the aisle; I’ve reached across continents and communities to do the hard work of creating jobs, building bridges, and protecting communities. To help create an international earthquake monitoring network, I worked with Russians and Ukrainians and the International Atomic Energy Agency. To fight human trafficking, I’ve worked with State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-36, and King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert. To help rebuild the South Park Bridge, I worked with the South Park Neighborhood Association, the Machinists, and colleagues at the Port, City, County and State to find the funding. And to build the Rental Car Facility that created more than 3,700 jobs in South King County, I worked with elected officials in the State Legislature as well as Sea-Tac, Des Moines, and Burien.

4) You’re running in a race with many Democrats who share similar positions. What separates you from the rest of the field?

We’re all asking the voters to hire us to do a job. We may share the same values, but we all have different experience and qualifications to do the job of a lawmaker. I’m asking the voters to hire me because I have the experience and skills of working in the public and private sectors creating jobs, solving difficult problems, and managing millions of dollars in budgets. When it comes to solving tough problems with responsible funding strategies, my experiences working in federal, state, and local governments as well as in a technology company and international markets give me a deep reservoir of ideas, lessons learned, and experts to help find solutions. These are the resources that will help me do the work that voters are hiring me to do.

As a Port Commissioner, I have helped create 7,000 living wage jobs through critical public works projects. At UW, I’ve worked with scientists, engineers, historians, political scientists, archeologists, musicians, and cybersecurity experts to help secure millions of dollars in grants and endowments for faculty and students. I’ve worked with legislators from all over the state to help criminalize human trafficking, create more open contracting laws, and build transit and transportation corridors that help our companies compete globally. To accelerate a clean, green trade agenda in Washington, I’ve supported partnerships with the Port of Seattle, WSU, Climate Solutions and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to develop an aviation biofuels market based in Washington, while also supporting investments in electrification and renewable energy infrastructure. And as a federal government employee, I’ve written policies and run programs regarding critical national security interests and concerns.

5) Seattle and King County give more to the state than they get back. Part of this is reasonable things like the cost of providing education and social services in rural and suburban areas, but part of it is a lack of respect for Seattle and King County with the legislature that treats us as an ATM. How will you make sure your district gets its fair share of revenue without harming education or social services throughout the state?

We all have a stake in the success of our schools and our students, regardless of their home base. We will all benefit if we have affordable access to public health centers and community clinics. We all share a stake in tackling climate change and building the foundation for a clean economy in the 21st century. If we reflect on how the concept of the public commons emerged in Washington, it will help us understand how to think about sharing resources with communities and regions that don’t live in our own backyard.

All property owners pay property taxes to build infrastructure and invest in healthy, safe communities. However, not all people who benefit from investments in the public commons are paying property taxes. Does that mean we stop paying our fair share of taxes? No. It would be short-sighted when we want to collectively improve the quality of life for everyone, not just the District we represent. The state pays only 7 percent of the annual operating costs of the University of Washington, its flagship public university. Just 20 years ago, the state paid closer to 40 percent of the total annual operating costs. Yet UW benefits the public commons of the whole state, Pacific Northwest, the nation and the world. UW’s nursing and public health graduates are the people who staff community health clinics and protect public health systems throughout the state and the Pacific Northwest. The UW School of Medicine receives $700 million a year from the federal government to educate the doctors who will be serving rural, low-income, and underserved communities with safe healthcare. Researchers at UW spawned the life sciences research community that has become home to the Gates Foundation, PATH, and Nobel Laureates – all in our district.

When we talk about who is getting their “fair share” of the tax pie, it is a familiar refrain that another part of the state benefits from King County’s and Seattle’s wealth. But the people in Seattle and King County who like to go skiing in the Cascades, own homes on Lake Chelan, go hiking on Mount Adams, or take weekends sampling wines in Walla Walla are only able to enjoy these benefits because they can fly there, drive there, drink clean water, and benefit from cheap electricity. And they benefit when their kids decide they’d rather go to school at WSU or Central Washington because they like the idea of dry, sunny weather three weeks in a row.

We will create jobs, opportunities, and a cleaner economy if we invest in research at Central Washington University or in social services for returning veterans in Tacoma or Yakima. The 36th District’s small businesses want to hire people who are prepared for jobs in the trades, fishing industry, biotechnology companies, or software start-ups. One of the most important roles I will play in Olympia for my district is making sure we are showing how tax revenues are used to create jobs, prepare employees for high-demand job markets, and give all our communities a chance to live a decent life and pursue affordable education.

My proposal to create a sustainable funding base for public health revolves around this idea of a shared stake in a common network. The “Public Access To Health Services” (PATH) center calls for reforming the way we use property tax authority of special purpose districts in the state. If we allow special purpose districts to share their property taxes to create local health centers, we stand a chance of putting public health services on a sustainable financial path. My district would help lead the way, as we have thousands of public health professionals, caregivers, and small business owners who would be potential partners in making affordable health care, family planning, adult day care, and other essential services available to our communities.

Our district also believes in investing in a clean economy future. Our ideas and know-how for designing and building environmental infrastructure systems for homeowners and small business owners will create best practices for others around the state. When we share knowledge and solutions that help our own communities, we are creating the foundation for helping all Washingtonians live in healthy, safe communities where they will enjoy a better quality of life.

by Lee, 06/29/2012, 12:12 AM

Within a very good post on the consequences of today’s SCOTUS ruling, Adam Serwer writes:

In the court battle over Obamacare, the government had argued that the individual mandate—the part of the health care law that requires Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a fine—was constitutional because the Commerce Clause gives Congress the authority to regulate interstate commerce. The government’s lawyers said that without the mandate, the health care law wouldn’t work, and because not having health insurance substantially affects the health insurance market (i.e., it affects interstate commerce), it was okay to fine people for not buying insurance. Conservatives argued that the mandate was not really regulating commerce, but forcing people to engage in it. They claimed the Commerce Clause allowed Congress to regulate “activity” but not “inactivity”—a distinction found nowhere in the Constitution itself.

The “activity/inactivity” distinction went from being a laughable attempt to try to distinguish this case from the previous Raich ruling to a serious argument adopted by 5 of the 9 Supreme Court justices. But despite the fact that this ruling has weakened the Federal government’s powers under the Commerce Clause, this distinction between Raich case and the ACA is still imaginary.

In the Raich decision, a person growing a marijuana plant was automatically participating in interstate commerce, regardless of his/her “activity”. If a person grew a plant, harvested it, and consumed it entirely himself/herself, it was still considered part of interstate commerce. Their activity or inactivity with respect to any actual marketplace was never the issue, but the commodity itself. With health care, the same situation existed, except that it didn’t just cover a subset of the population. Every single person in America is potentially part of that market on any day – even if they desired not to be – and therefore most people looked at the decision in Raich and concluded that it was well with the Commerce Clause to require folks to either insure themselves or pay a penalty.

There are certainly a number of conservatives who’ve been consistent in their views on the Commerce Clause, and to some extent I’ve been swayed by their arguments. But the intellectual inconsistency of Scalia and Kennedy (and of course Rob McKenna) for supporting Raich, but fighting to have the ACA overturned is appalling.

Later in the post, Serwer also notes that the majority ruling that the mandate is a constitutional tax on individuals potentially leads to the infamous “broccoli scenario” being carried out through a tax. What’s stopping the Federal Government from imposing a tax penalty over any number of consumer choices? Serwer argues that this is a reason for liberals to breathe easier about progressives’ ability to craft good regulations in the marketplace, but I’m somewhat skeptical.

The aspect of this that concerns me the most is the shift from allowing for the regulation of systems and institutions to the regulation of individual behavior. Regulating individual actions is generally an ineffective way to regulate any system. Climate change is a great example. Trying to solve our climate crisis merely by using taxes to influence individual consumer choices isn’t going to have anywhere near the impact of being able to impose strong regulations on the industries that contribute to high CO2 levels in the atmosphere. We’re not anywhere near the point where this is a real legislation-inhibiting concern, but the current court seems inclined to push us in that direction.

I don’t want to be too negative about all this. I was relieved that the ACA was allowed to stand this morning. It certainly wasn’t perfect legislation, but it was a small first step towards moving us towards more cost effective health care in this country. And hell, this decision today – especially with its modified view of the Commerce Clause – might be reversed again the next time to court sees it. Especially if it involves allowing the feds to go after some potheads.

by Carl, 06/28/2012, 5:18 PM

For all of the discussion of how the new arena in SoDo would hurt traffic, you’d think this would be a bigger deal.

Coal trains can easily be 8,000 feet long, which means that it takes more than 6 minutes to clear a street crossing when traveling at 15 mph, a pretty typical speed in an urban area. Then factor in 30 seconds of street closure time for warning signals to sound or crossing arms to stop traffic, plus 30 seconds to re-start traffic after the train has cleared the intersection. Add it all up and you get this: Bellingham’s new loaded coal trains would completely cut off street intersections by somewhere between 105 minutes and 125 minutes of every day.

I don’t want to be disingenuous here. I support more rail infrastructure at the port and oppose the coal trains for non-traffic reasons much more than this. Still, if the trains come, hopefully they come with more infrastructure to mitigate this.

by Darryl, 06/28/2012, 9:06 AM

8:58: I am listening to Mitt Romney right now…and he is shamelessly lying about the impact of the patient protection and affordable care act. I didn’t hear anything about “death panels” but the same old bullshit lines:

“Obamacare puts the government between you and your doctor”

“Higher deficits.”

“Causes you to lose the insurance you like”

“Or return to a time when you could chose the insurance you like,”

“Obamacare is a job killer”

…and others.


Most of his claims have been shown false by the fact checking web sites.

9:06: Gov. Gregoire is on KUOW now, pointing out how “going back to the status quo would bankrupt our businesses, our families, and the state.”

9:09: Goldy takes the SCOTUS decision as a sign that Rob McKenna is a crappy lawyer:

Remember, McKenna was instrumental in initiating the lawsuit that forced today’s ruling, and spoke confidently on the campaign trial that he and his fellow attorneys general would prevail. He was wrong.

“Our precedent demonstrates that Congress had the power to impose the exaction in Section 5000A under the taxing power, and that Section 5000A need not be read to do more than impose a tax. This is sufficient to sustain it.”

Even though an overwhelming majority of constitutional scholars had weighed in that the mandate appeared to be constitutional, perhaps it is unfair to use this ruling to impugn McKenna’s legal acumen. Perhaps McKenna merely made the political calculation that the conservative majority on the court would ultimately prove be just as politically unprincipled as he is, and thus toss out the ACA regardless of clearly established precedent?

Perhaps. Not that that take is any more flattering.

The point is that under McKenna’s leadership the attorney general’s office has an established track record of championing losing, politically motivated cases and opinions.

9:15: Obama is on now. He goes through a list of the major advantages.

“Young Americans can stay on their parents insurance”

“Seniors receive discounts on prescriptions”

“No insurance? Then you will be insured starting in 2014.”

“No discrimination by preexisting conditions”

“People who can afford insurance should take the responsibility of buying it”

“I didn’t do this because I believe it is good politics. I did it because it is good for America.”

Not much new there. Essentially, Obama and Romney stuck to their previous points.

9:23: The gods of politics are to be worshiped and thanked for giving us a Republican nominee who, while a Governor, passed the model of universal health care that he must now fight against. I think this angle has been downplayed to date because of the uncertainty of the SCOTUS decision. Now, it’s ripe….

9:26: The real “Death Panel” would have been SCOTUS if they had struck down Obamacare. Hopefully, today’s ruling will help us claw our way back to the top of the list for health statistics….

9:28: Rep. Jim McDermott is on KUOW. He is happy.

“John Roberts…is fantastic” (Okay…maybe I’ve changed the meaning there.)

“People have been trying to do this since 1935…huge victory”

“Rob McKenna has egg on his face.”

9:31: Republicans have been chanting “overreach, overreach, overreach” like they are in a fucking trance. What the SCOTUS decision shows us is that they were engaged in a collective reach around!

9:34: Steve Scher on KUOW is now interviewing some wingnut (part of the lawsuit) who claims that today’s decision means Americans have “lost their freedom.” Sure…they have lost the freedom to go bankrupt from medical costs. Freedom from watching the most disadvantaged Americans suffer for want of health care. Freedom from the constant worry about how to get health insurance….

9:40: Okay…finally back to Goldy’s point above. He is right that McKenna was shown by the SCOTUS decision to be a lousy lawyer. McDermott is right, “Rob McKenna has egg on his face.” But I stand by my statement that McKenna is a winner by this decision. A little egg on his face is nothing compared to dealing with the actual consequences to real voters had the lawsuit succeeded.

9:49: Paul Constant posts this hilarious CNN moment:

10:20: Josh Marshall:

I have some thoughts on the politics of this — mainly because the politics is what I have some expertise to speak about. But that will be my next post. Before I do that I wanted to state very clearly that the politics of the decision pales before its substance, a fact that I suspect will get little attention today. This decision will have a massive effect on the lives of literally millions of people. Mitt Romney may have joked yesterday that the White House was “not sleeping real well” last night. But a lot of people tonight and in the future will sleep a lot better for this result. Young people, people with pre-existing conditions and mainly people who through the chaos of the health care market simply find themselves with no coverage.

That’s the big deal.

10:33: Apparently, FAUX News joined CNN in jumping the gun. They heard or read that the court didn’t find the Commerce Clause argument convincing and assumed the whole thing would be struck down. TPM does a medley:

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10:40: Obama speaks:

10:45: Gov. Christine Gregoire’s statement on today’s SCOTUS ruling. (Livestreaming for now.) Gregoire eviscerates Rob McKenna!

10:56: Rob McKenna releases a say-nothing statement on today’s ruling. As one of two people who initiated the lawsuit, you’d think he’d have a hell of a lot more to say than that. I suspect he is just relieved that the whole potential nightmare for his gubernatorial campaign is over.

11:06: Justice Ginsburg’s opinion quoted from Gov. Christine Gregoire’s brief,submitted in reaction to McKenna joining the lawsuit. “We tried healthcare without a mandate and it [became]…a death spiral.”

11:09: I, for one, look forward to the forthcoming law with its tax incentive to eat broccoli.

11:14: Seattle PI’s Joel Connelly summarizes some of the PPACA’s benefits for Washingtonians:

About 52,000 young people have been able to stay on their parents’ health insurance programs until the age of 26.

The law has provided that families seeking insurance cannot be denied coverage because of a child’s pre-existing condition. Nor can insurers place lifetime limits on spending for an individual’s health care.

More than 100,000 small businesses in Washington are now eligible for a federal small business tax credit designed to make it easier and more economical to provide employees with health care.

“I look forward to the day not long from now when more than 800,000 people in our state will be able to use our Health Benefit Exchange to get health insurance they need but currently must go without,” said Gov. Christine Gregoire.

by Darryl, 06/28/2012, 8:08 AM

The Supreme Court has largely upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

My limited understanding from media coverage is that the ruling on the “mandate” is narrow. The crux of the argument: The U.S. government can tax. Period. Since the mandate is a tax incentive, it’s not outside the constitutional scope for congress to enact such a tax incentive for people to purchase insurance.

Two quick points. First, we see once again, that Democrats lost the battle of words by the fact that the tax incentive provision became known as a “mandate.”

The fact is, it isn’t a mandate. It is an incentive. You are not mandated to purchase insurance. Rather, you pay a tax if you can afford but don’t purchase insurance. Or, put another way, you avoid paying a tax if you have insurance.

The word “mandate” is one of those wingnut terms of art (like “death tax”) that is factually inaccurate, but is fantastic for stoking emotions. It makes for good hate-stoking.

The second point. Of the thousand and thousands of words I’ve read on the constitutionality/unconstitutionality of the PPACA after the lawsuits were announced, one of the best was written by none other than Goldy:

See, the recently passed health care reform legislation does not require that all U.S. citizens purchase insurance, it merely provides a tax incentive to those of us who do. If you are not covered by an employer, and if you have not purchased your own individual policy, and if your income is above certain levels, and if you don’t hail from a state that has opted out of this mandate by implementing its own qualified health insurance system, you will be required to pay an additional federal tax, starting at the greater of $95 or 1% of income in 2014, and rising to $695 or 2.5% of income in 2016, up to a cap of the national average premium on a bronze plan. Both the minimum tax and the cap will increase by the annual cost of living adjustment.

Now, some might argue that this is still a mandate to engage in some sort of economic activity because it targets a tax at those who refuse, but one could easily flip this perception around. What it really is, is a flat, 2.5% federal income tax — much along the lines of what is already imposed to fund Social Security and Medicare — but for which the law provides a substantial exemption to those who choose to purchase private health insurance.

And don’t attempt to bog down this discussion in jibberish over whether this is a “tax” or a “fee” or a “penalty” or a “mandate” or whatever. The courts have long been consistent that lawmakers need not jump through such semantic hoops; if a law is constitutional worded one way, it is constitutional worded another, as long as the practical application is the same. And clearly, our tax laws are filled with provisions intend to encourage some economic activities and discourage others.

Along these lines, a better analogy than Troll’s theoretical handgun mandate would be our current home mortgage interest deduction. The federal government does not actually mandate that we all take out big mortgages to buy homes and condos, but it grants huge tax advantages to those who do, essentially penalizing renters. Think about it: with the extra tax revenue from eliminating the home mortgage interest deduction, the federal government could lower the base tax rate on all of us.

So, if the health insurance mandate-cum-exemption is unconstitutional based on the contention that it compels individuals to engage in an economic activity, then so too would be the home mortgage interest deduction, and any number of other federal tax incentives. And I sincerely doubt that McKenna would choose to join a lawsuit seeking to deny Washington homeowners this very popular deduction.

If the “mandate” is unconstitutional, so is the mortgage interest deduction. After all, it “mandates” that you take out a mortgage loan, or pay a tax penalty.

Finally…winners and losers: First, this secures Obama’s legacy. Even though the PPACA was only one of many solid accomplishments of Obama’s first two years, this one is more defining and will positively, directly touch the lives of more Americans. (Ironically, candidate Obama opposed a “mandate” while he was campaigning against Clinton in 2008.) Second, this takes away Romney’s arguments that “Obama didn’t do anything” when he had a Democratic House and Senate.

Likewise, Democrats win by getting through another great social program. This is, after all, the real reason why Republicans oppose this largely Republican-designed program.

On the other hand, this is a win for conservatives, in that they will certainly be motivated by hatred, anger, fear of “socialism” largely out of the misconception that the government is now “forcing them to do something.”

The other big winner is Rob McKenna, who by losing the lawsuit he claims to have co-founded, dodges a huge bullet. Who wants the vote for the prick that kicked you off your parent’s insurance, or the asshole that quadrupled your insurance costs because of a pre-existing condition?

The final big winner is America—we have now joined most of the rest of the civilized world by making health care available to the poorest of our citizens. A reversal would have been a tragedy for untold millions of Americans. The PPACA is far from perfect, but it’s almost certainly better than what we had.

by Carl, 06/28/2012, 7:49 AM
by Carl, 06/27/2012, 8:28 PM

WordPress (or more likely user error) seems to have eaten my last post, so here again is the link to info about the rallies after tomorrow’s Supreme Court decisions.

Attend a rapid response event near you!

This Thursday, the US Supreme Court is expected to rule on Rob McKenna’s partisan challenge to the Affordable Care Act – President Obama’s health care reform law. It’s perhaps the most anticipated Supreme Court ruling in our nation’s history.

Regardless of the outcome, we’ll be ready. Please RSVP on Washington Community Action Network’s web site.

Thursday, June 28 outside the Attorney General’s offices around the state

by Carl, 06/27/2012, 5:06 PM

I’m not a huge college football fan, but I was glad that there will be a 4 team playoff in college football starting in 2014. It seems like the worthiness of the third and fourth choices is often indistinguishable from the second team that actually gets to play for the championship. I imagine there will still be controversies about who gets to play in this tournament. But a debate about who is the number 4 team is very different from a debate about who is the number 2 team.

by Carl, 06/27/2012, 7:52 AM

I’m still reading through the Arizona immigration Supreme Court decision, but I expect that come Thursday, all of the Supreme Court discussion discussion will be about health care. So I’d like to get to the logical conclusion of Scalia’s dissent before that happens. It seems to me that if this is true, then it cuts both ways.

In his point-by-point defense of the Arizona legislation, the avowed law-and-order conservative surmised that the Obama administration “desperately wants to avoid upsetting foreign powers.” He accused federal officials of “willful blindness or deliberate inattention” to the presence of illegal immigrants in Arizona.

“[T]o say, as the Court does, that Arizona contradicts federal law by enforcing applications of the Immigration Act that the President declines to enforce boggles the mind,” Scalia wrote. “If securing its territory in this fashion is not within the power of Arizona, we should cease referring to it as a sovereign State.”

If a state has the right to, essentially do anything to keep anyone out, doesn’t another state have the right to keep anyone in? Or to make anyone a citizen? It seems to me if states can’t decide who is a citizen of the United States we can’t call them sovereign states. I guess that’s why we don’t.

So it seems to me if Scalia’s positions ever become the majority on the court, Washington should become a sanctuary state. We should let anyone become a citizen as long as they aren’t here to do us harm.

by Darryl, 06/26/2012, 6:49 PM
Obama Romney
99.3% probability of winning 0.7% probability of winning
Mean of 323 electoral votes Mean of 215 electoral votes

Nine new state head-to-head polls have been released in the contest between Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama since my previous analysis:

start end sample % % %
st poll date date size MOE O R diff
CO WeAskAmerica 25-Jun 25-Jun 1083 3.0 46.6 43.0 O+3.6
MI Denno Research 14-Jun 15-Jun 600 4.0 40 40 tie
NH ARG 21-Jun 24-Jun 417 49 46 O+3
NC Rasmussen 25-Jun 25-Jun 500 4.5 44 47 R+3
OH PPP 21-Jun 24-Jun 673 3.8 47 44 O+3
OR PPP 21-Jun 24-Jun 686 3.7 50 42 O+8
UT Dan Jones 15-Jun 21-Jun 1222 2.8 26 68 R+42
VA WeAskAmerica 25-Jun 25-Jun 1106 3.0 43.3 48.0 R+4.7
VA ODU 16-May 15-Jun 776 3.5 49 42 O+7

The unsurprising polls include one from Oregon that gives Obama a +8% lead over Romney, and the first poll of the year in Utah that gives Romney a +42% advantage over Obama.

Colorado puts Obama up by +3.6% over Romney. The four current polls weigh solidly in Obama’s favor, as does the overall polling picture:

The fourth Michigan poll released in the past week has the race tied at 40% each. Combined with two other recent polls, Obama has the slightest lead in the state overall, giving him an expected 68% probability of taking the state (if the election was held now).

The second New Hampshire poll in a week has Obama up by a tight +3% over Romney. (Note that I used the Likely Voter results instead of the Registered Voter results given for this poll.) The pair of polls combined gives Obama an 81% chance of taking the state at this point.

Romney takes the most recent North Carolina poll with a weak +3% lead over Obama. That makes five leads in a row for Mitt, all since mid-May:
ObamaRomney26May12-26Jun12North Carolina

Ohio gives Obama a small +3% lead, breaking Romney’s two poll lead streak. The three current polls in that race give Romney a thin 55% probability of taking the state at this point:

Two new Virginia polls split. One goes to Obama by +7% and the other goes to Romney by +4.7%. The weight of the evidence from the five recent polls is that Obama would take the state now with a 83% probability.


I want to again express my gratitude to Sam Minter, who does his own poll aggregation exercise. Sam systematically compared our poll databases, resolved the discrepancies, and sent corrections to me over the past month. Also, I thank the HA commenter who noticed an error in the Nebraska past elections numbers, and persisted in getting through to me when I missed his comment.

Okay…so now, after 100,000 simulated elections, Obama wins 99,310 times and Romney wins 690 times (including the 63 ties). Obama takes (on average) 323 to Romney’s 215 electoral votes. For an election held now, Obama would have a 99.3% probability of winning and Romney, a 0.7% probability of winning.

Since the previous analysis Romney has gained an expected +3 electoral votes and has more than doubled his probability of winning (now), but that works out to less than a 1% probability overall of winning.

Electoral College Map

Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Lousiana Maine Maryland Massachusettes Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia D.C. Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming

Electoral College Map

Georgia Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Delaware Connecticut Florida Mississippi Alabama Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia D.C. Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming

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by Darryl, 06/26/2012, 3:25 PM


Please join us tonight for an evening of politics and conversation over a pint at the Seattle Chapter of Drinking liberally. Tonight there are elections in Colorado, New York, Oklahoma and Utah, but we’ll likely ignore them to talk about other issues: the Governor and AG races in Washington, as well as recent and forthcoming Supreme Court decisions.

We meet every Tuesday at the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue E. Starting time is 8:00pm. Some people show up earlier for Dinner.

Can’t make it to Seattle tonight? Check out one of the other DL meetings over the next week. Tonight there are also meetings of the Tri-Cities and Bellingham chapters. The Burien chapter meets on Wednesday, and the Woodinville chapter meets on Thursday. Then on Monday, the Yakima, South Bellevue and Olympia chapters meet.

With 227 chapters of Living Liberally, including eleven in Washington state and four more in Oregon, chances are excellent there’s a chapter near you.

by Carl, 06/26/2012, 7:59 AM
by Carl, 06/25/2012, 5:12 PM

I like Darcy Burner, but unlike a lot of bloggers, I’m willing to wait and see who gets through the primary. I don’t live in the district so I don’t have to choose. And a lot of the candidates have done good things. Still, I’m encouraged by things like this in my email box.

I’ve heard Republicans lie. I’ve heard Fox News manipulate the truth. I’ve heard plenty of outrageous things. John Koster proved that through either ignorance or willful rejection of reality, Republicans can still shock me.

In an interview that will air on Sunday on King5, a question was asked about Congress addressing marriage equality. I answered that not only should we repeal DOMA, but we should go further and provide all married couples with all of the Federal benefits of marriage.

I was stunned by what followed.

John Koster jumped right in with an outrageous statement.

“…there is no Federal Defense of Marriage Act…”

Yes, of course on one level, it’s another fundraising appeal. Still I’m glad the heat is directed to Koster, and not the other Democrats.

Now look, I love primaries and I have no problem with them getting a bit rough and tumble (there are important issues at play). But these are the sort of things I love most about primaries. Even if Rudderman wins, all of Darcy Burner’s supporters (who bother to open their email, and read it) will have seen this. And if any media (beyond HA) mention it, even better.

by Carl, 06/25/2012, 7:53 AM
by Lee, 06/24/2012, 12:00 PM

Last week’s contest was won by It was the Whispering Firs Golf Course on JBLM.

This week’s contest is related to something in the news from June, good luck!

by Goldy, 06/24/2012, 7:00 AM

Psalm 82:1
When all of the other gods have come together, the Lord God judges them


by Darryl, 06/22/2012, 11:58 PM

Obama For America outtakes.

Young Turks: CIA documents show Bin Laden warnings ignored:

Thom: Republicans find another union to bust.

Greenman: Climate crocks…Marc Morano at Heartland.

ONN: The Onion Week in Review.

Thom: The Good, the Bad, and the Very, Very Ugly.

Sam Seder: New 9/11 documents expose Bush admin. lies.

Susie Sampson Tea Party Report: Immigration!

Full of Mitt:

Slate News: Springsteen won’t hang with Chris Christie.

Alyona: Romney Doppelganger hates poor people.

Indecision in the park.

A clown answer for Harry Reid: video platform
video management
video solutions
video player

Sam Seder: Vagina mentioning Rep. like “child who needed a time out”.

Thom: What do Republicans love about rape?

Young Turks: Secret right wing money spent on deceptive ads.

Ann Telnaes: Sheldon Adelson’s gift.

Fast, but mostly Furious:

ONN: Tea Party quiet—too quiet.

Sam Seder and Chris Hayes: Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy.

Young Turks: Poll shows Republicans grossly misinformed on Iran, Iraq.

Alyona: Indiana Wingnut covers his bases on SCOTUS ruling.

Obama in Tampa.

“Joe” the “Historian”:

White House: West Wing Week.

Alyona’s Tool Time Award: Arizona’s Secretary of State Ken Bennett is back with more Birfer insanity.

Anti-Obama teleprompter ad.

Young Turks: 2/3 of Republicans believe Obama was born outside of U.S.

Thom: More Good, Bad, and Very, Very Ugly.

Last week’s Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza can be found here.

by Darryl, 06/22/2012, 12:30 PM
Obama Romney
99.7% probability of winning 0.3% probability of winning
Mean of 326 electoral votes Mean of 212 electoral votes

Ten days ago, Mitt Romney was on a roll. He had increased his probability of beating President Obama in a hypothetical election held then from 0.4% to 0.8%, and he gained in expected electoral votes up to 225. That was last week. This week, Romney slips.

There have been 18 new polls released to weigh in on the race:

start end sample % % %
st poll date date size MOE O R diff
AZ PPP 04-Jun 05-Jun 791 3.5 46 49 R+3
CO PPP 14-Jun 17-Jun 799 3.5 49 42 O+7
FL Quinnipiac 12-Jun 18-Jun 1697 2.4 46 42 O+4
IA WeAskAmerica 18-Jun 18-Jun 1086 3.0 45 44 O+1
ME WBUR 13-Jun 14-Jun 506 4.4 48 34 O+14
MI Mitchell 18-Jun 18-Jun 750 3.6 47 46 O+1
MI WeAskAmerica 18-Jun 18-Jun 1010 3.1 43 45 R+2
MI Rasmussen 14-Jun 14-Jun 500 4.5 50 42 O+8
MI Baydoun 12-Jun 12-Jun 1783 2.3 46.9 45.5 O+1.4
MT Rasmussen 18-Jun 18-Jun 400 4.5 42 51 R+9
NE PNA 11-Jun 13-Jun 601 40 52 R+12
NV PPP 07-Jun 10-Jun 500 4.4 48 42 O+6
NH Rasmussen 20-Jun 20-Jun 500 4.5 48 43 O+5
NJ Eagleton-Rutgers 31-May 04-Jun 1065 2.9 56 33 O+23
WA PPP 14-Jun 17-Jun 1073 3.0 54 41 O+13
WA Elway 13-Jun 16-Jun 408 5.0 49 41 O+8
WI Marquette 13-Jun 15-Jun 594 4.1 49 43 O+6
WI Rasmussen 12-Jun 12-Jun 500 4.5 44 47 R+3

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