John Laird: Checking facts, ignoring 41 states, and cheating in golf




Notes, quotes and anecdotes while wondering if same-sex marriage opponents believe allowing women to vote weakened the institution of voting, and if allowing blacks to serve alongside whites in the armed forces weakened the institution of the U.S. military.

Beyond the rhetoric — As political campaigns intensify, many groups provide reliable fact-checking research. Sadly, even their increasing popularity hasn’t restrained the rampant prevaricating. You might have your own fact-checking sources, but here are three of my favorites:

Are you better off than you were four years ago? —
Before answering, you might ask a financial consultant. On Friday, the Dow and the S&P reached their highest marks in almost five years, with the Nasdaq at its highest point in almost 12 years.

Or, try asking another consultant who was recommended by John Kerry last week at the Democrats’ convention: “Ask Osama bin Laden if he’s better off than he was four years ago.”

Pay no attention to 41 states behind the curtain — Remember, unless you live in one of nine or so swing states, your vote for president has virtually no impact nationally. Thank the Electoral College for that. Here in Washington, for example, even if you vote for Mitt Romney, all 12 of the state’s electoral votes will almost certainly go to Barack Obama as part of our winner-take-all system.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care, though. And to follow the excitement, here are three websites with swing-state maps, often updated:

Masochistic rage —
I’m hearing lots of angry voters, mostly Republicans, claiming they won’t vote for their party’s nominee in various races, and will either vote for a write-in or no one at all.

Fine. Your choice. But be advised: Removing yourself from the process is the greatest gift you could possibly present to the opposing party you so despise.

Like so many dominoes —
As expected, the popularity of our state’s top two primary continues to spread to other states. Last week, a judge in Arizona ruled there were enough petition signatures for the top two primary to go before voters in November.

Critics complain the top two primary could pit two candidates from the same party in the election. And that would be wrong because? Letting voters have their way works for me.

This year in Clark County — for the first time in the memory of local election officials — we have two same-party races, both involving Republicans: Marc Boldt vs. David Madore for county commissioner and Adrian Cortes vs. Brandon Vick for state representative, 18th District.

Peter Callaghan, columnist for The News Tribune in Tacoma, reports there are 14 such races statewide, seven with Republicans, seven with Democrats. Callaghan notes that “all are in districts that have been drawn to strongly favor that party.”

Another benefit, he reports: “Rather than have a sacrificial candidate from the disadvantaged party give voters the appearance of choice, the finalists in the same-party runoffs often present real differences in beliefs.”

If you can do it, it ain’t braggin’ —
Did you hear about the 66 I shot at Camas Meadows Golf Club two weeks ago? No lie! 18 holes, too!

I used this newfangled Paul Ryan Math to get it down to a 66. (Thanks to Columbian blogger Marissa Harshman for the tip.) Seems the vice presidential nominee claimed in a recent radio interview to have run a sub-3-hour marathon. Then, along came pesky fact-checker Runner’s World, which determined Ryan’s personal best marathon time actually was a 4:01:25 at something called Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn., back in 1990 when Ryan was 20.

Using PRM, my wobbly 93 converts to a scorching six under par!