Friday, January 30, 2009

This should be a scandal

Via Kevin Drum, we learn from the WSJ,
The nation's top 400 taxpayers made more than $263 million on average in 2006, as the stock market was rallying, but paid income taxes at the lowest rate in the 15 years that the Internal Revenue Service has tracked such data, according to figures released Thursday.

....In constant dollars, the average income of the top 400 taxpayers nearly quadrupled from 1992....Meanwhile, the group's average income tax rate [] fell to 17.2% in 2006 from 18.2% the prior year. That's down from a high of 29.9% in 1995.
And this has lead to the highest income disparity since the Gilded Age. No modern nation can sustain itself that borrows money to fund tax cuts to it's wealthiest people.

And the Republican party very unapologetically is demanded more. And this during a time of war.

Will someone show me the patriotism in this tax policy?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

59 to O

Gov Rod Blagojevich was unanimously convicted by the Illinois Senate 59 - 0, and subsequently barred from every holding Illinois office, also unanimously.

Lt Gov Pat Quinn was immediatly sworn in as Governor.

Can we no go back to regularly scheduled programing?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rush Limbaugh runs the GOP

Via Matt Yglesias GA GOP Rep Phil Gingrey, who yesterday pushed back against Rush Limbaugh by supporting the GOP Leadership, has been forced into a humiliating retraction and apology,
Turns out that Gingrey’s measured remarks provoked such a violent outcry that he has now been forced to apologize.

“Because of the high volume of phone calls and correspondence received by my office since the Politico article ran, I wanted to take a moment to speak directly to grassroots conservatives,” Gingrey said in a new statement released by his office. “Let me assure you, I am one of you.”

“I never told Rush to back off,” Gingrey continued. “I regret and apologize for the fact that my comments have offended and upset my fellow conservatives—that was not my intent…Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich, and other conservative giants are the voices of the conservative movement’s conscience.”
This tells you all you need to know about the state of the Republican party and we at The Ward Report could not be happier.

Snowed last night in Saint Louis

where our minds are never far from baseball.

Existing home sales rose 6.5% in Dec

Amidst all the economic doom and gloom stories of the last week, was the good news that existing home sales unexpectedly rose in Dec.

It's not much, but it's a start, and the Fed deserves some credit.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Republicans are incapable of bipartisanship

Obama is the most popular and politically powerful incoming POTUS since JFK. The President doesn't need Republican votes to get what he wants. Yet, in an unprecedented step the Democratic President of the United States is meeting with the GOP House Caucus to discuss his stimulus bill. George Bush would have died before he ever did anything of this sort.

Obama has offered compromises including more tax cuts and removing $200M for low income family planning.

The GOP response?
Hours before a meeting with President Barack Obama, House Republican leaders sought to rally opposition Tuesday to a White House-backed economic stimulus measure with an $825 billion price tag.

Several officials said that Reps. John Boehner of Ohio, the GOP leader, and Eric Cantor of Virginia, his second-in-command, delivered the appeal at a closed-door meeting of the Republican rank and file. Both men said the legislation contains too much wasteful spending that will not help the economy recover from its worst nosedive since the Great Depression, the officials added.

The officials who described the closed-door session did so on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to disclose the discussions.
In response to Obama's Olive branch, Boehner demands unconditional surrender, suggesting that the House GOP will only support their counter-plan of permanent tax cuts, presumably relying on how far they have gotten us so far.

At some point Obama pulls out his sizable stick and beats them into further irrelevance, which seems to be what they seek.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Rahm Emmanuel

The outrageous Ari Gold from HBO's Entourage is not so loosely based upon executive producer Mark Wahlberg's own agent, Ari Emmanuel who is the real life brother of the White House Chief of Staff.

Naftali Bendavid profiled Rahm in "The Thumpin'" and paints a picture of a profane political commando who was ruthless in his pursuit of retaking the House for Democrats in 2006.

Rahm, pictured here greeting his former House colleagues at the Inauguration, by a factor of 5 was my first choice for White House Chief of Staff.

The NYTs has a nice profile up today of the kinder, gentler Rahm who is Obama's right hand man.

The Taliban: Not just about Afghanistan anymore

While the Bush administration was distracted in Iraq and neglecting the fight for Afghanistan, the Taliban are spreading out of the so called 'Tribal Zone' of Pakistan into rest of Pakistan.

This mornings NYTs reports on the Taliban's spread into Swat Valley in the heart of Pakistan.
Every night around 8 o’clock, the terrified residents of Swat,...crowd around their radios. They know that failure to listen and learn might lead to a lashing — or a beheading.

Using a portable radio transmitter, a local Taliban leader, Shah Doran, on most nights outlines newly proscribed "un-Islamic" activities in Swat, like selling DVDs, watching cable television, singing and dancing, criticizing the Taliban, shaving beards and allowing girls to attend school. He also reveals names of people the Taliban have recently killed for violating their decrees — and those they plan to kill.

"They control everything through the radio," said one Swat resident, who declined to give his name for fear the Taliban might kill him. "Everyone waits for the broadcast."
For those keeping score at home, this is terrible news.

We are seriously loosing this war in which religious fundamentalist use the despair of the impoverished to turn them against the West with a hatred that is hard for most of us to understand. We've lost 8 years in the struggle to combat these terrorist incubators while incompetents called the shots and threw gasoline on the fire. To halt the expansion of the Taliban and those like them will take nothing less than a major international effort and more than just guns and bombs.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Caroline had a nanny problem?

The NYTs is reporting that Caroline dropped out of the running because of "problems involving taxes and a household employee."

The Times goes own to report that not withstanding Gov Patterson's denials, he had chosen Caroline to replace Hillary in the Senate.

Shine a light on cockroaches and they scatter

Very quietly a GOP senator has placed an anonymous hold on the nomination of would-be EPA chief Lisa Jackson and Nancy Sutley, future head of the Council on Environmental Quality. Jackson has made it well known that she intends to take a fresh look at the requests of California and other states to regulate auto emissions.

TPM sees this as the first volley in the GOP strategy to block all attempts to ameliorate climate change and explains the strategy here.

One of the reasons the GOP has suffered so much at the hands of voters is their active involvement in promoting global warming and open refusal to accept what is obvious to everyone. They are losing an entire generation of voters larger than the baby-boomers over their climate policies.

The best strategy for the WH and the Dems is to call the GOP out publicly and make them own their actions. Obama needs to use his bully pulpit to polity ask the Senate GOP to stop holding up qualified appointees and explain to the public their strategy to block. Discredit them now, and you take them out on this issue.

Like all cockroaches, when you shine a light on them, they scatter. And if the GOP desides the hunker down and openly block on climate legislation, so be it -- the Dems get to 65 senate seats that much sooner.

Coleman takes a job at RJC

It appears that Norm is not so confident after all about the prospects of his election challenge.

He's taken a consulting job with the Republican Jewish Coalition.

So how will this make the MN GOP look? They are fighting to keep a Senate seat from being filled but have so little confidence in their challenge their candidate has already taken a new job.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Caroline Kennedy withdraws

Caroline Kennedy pulled her name from consideration of the NY senate seat after learning she would not be chosen.

I am a great admirer of Caroline but thought the idea of someone who has never held elective office being chosen to fill a senate vacancy to be inappropriate, even if they are the only living heir of JFK.

If Caroline really wants the job, she can run for it and let the voters of NY decided who is qualified.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama's First Inaugural Address

President Barack Obama's Inaugural address

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it)."

America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Monday, January 19, 2009

"This land was made for you and me"

How refreshing to not be forced to endure yet another inauguration that's soundtrack is supplied by Branson.

The 89 year old grandfather of American folk music, Pete Seeger, flanked by his grandson Tao and Bruce Springsteen were the highlight of yesterday's festivities at the Lincoln memorial, not for the talent on stage, but for the greatest American ballad.



"This Land is Your Land" is the song we should be singing during the 7th inning stretch.

UPDATE: HBO purchased the exclusive rights to the concert and have scrubbed Youtube in an over zealous effort to enforce their rights. The updated version here now is from an International broadcast.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

10 Take Aways from the Bush Presidency

When it comes to Bob Woodward I have much 'skepticism and doubt' but his 10 Take Aways From the Bush Years is an excellent read from today's WaPo.

Or put another way, a failed Presidency in 10 easy steps.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Securities fraud suspect goes DB Cooper

Via TPM, ABC News reports that the Feds are hunting for Indiana investment advisor Marcus Schrenker who is suspected o securities fraud, but Schrenker has gone missing,
Schrenker parachuted out of his company-owned plane over Alabama Sunday; the plane continued flying on autopilot before crashing into Florida swampland two hours later.
_____

Schrenker was at the controls of a single-engine Piper Malibu when he sent out what authorities describe as a phony distress call while flying over northern Alabama, Sunday evening.

He told air traffic controllers that he was experiencing turbulence, that his windshield had blown into the plane and that he was bleeding profusely.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said the controllers lost contact with Schrenker shortly after, but continued to track his plane for more than two hours before it crashed in Milton, Fla., about 230 miles away.


Olmert controls US Foreign Policy

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert likes to brag about the President of the United States taking orders from him,
In an unusually public rebuke, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel said Monday that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had been forced to abstain from a United Nations resolution on Gaza that she helped draft, after Mr. Olmert placed a phone call to President Bush.

“I said, ‘Get me President Bush on the phone,’ ” Mr. Olmert said in a speech in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, according to The Associated Press. “They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn’t care: ‘I need to talk to him now,’ ” Mr. Olmert continued. “He got off the podium and spoke to me.”
_____

Mr. Olmert claimed that once he made his case to Mr. Bush, the president called Ms. Rice and told her to abstain. “She was left pretty embarrassed,” Mr. Olmert said, according to The A.P.
Will Olmert pay any price for this insult?

Friday, January 09, 2009

IL Supreme Court denies Mandamas

The Illinois Supreme Court has just denied Burris' Petition for Writ of Mandamus.

The Court's ruling makes perfect sense. Since Illinois law does not require the Secretary of State to certify the Governor's appointment the court has no basis upon which to compel him to do so.

Here's an excerpt from the court's opinion:
Because the Secretary of State had no duty under section 5(1) of the Secretary of State Act to sign and affix the state seal to the document issued by the Governor appointing Roland Burris to the United States Senate, Petitioners are not entitled to an order from this court requiring the Secretary to perform those Acts. Under the Secretary of State Act, the Secretary’s sole responsibility was to register the appointment, which he did. No further action is required by the Secretary of State or any other official to make the Governor’s appointment of Roland Burris to the United States Senate valid under Illinois law. Moreover, to the extent that additional proof of the validity of the appointment is necessary, Illinois law provides a mechanism for obtaining it without the need for judicial intervention. For the foregoing reasons, petitioners’ request for issuance of a writ of mandamus is denied. Mandate to issue forthwith.
This is yet another example of the flaccid Harry Reid's failed leadership in the Senate. He -- and others -- shot their mouths off and have now backed themselves into a corner lamely claiming Senate rules require the Secretary of State to certify any appointment.

Reid has no lawful basis upon which to not seat Burris and he needs to just eat crow and do it. Then he needs to resign as majority leader and make way for a competent person to run the Senate.

My guess is that the entire Senate will vote next week to seat Burris.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

2 Terabytes on a memory card?


This is just remarkable.

The next-generation SD memory card -- SDXC -- specification was announced today at the 2009 International CES, and it's pretty unbelievable. Current capacity is 32GB and the next generation extended capacity cards will be 2 TERABYTES! And SD interface read/write speeds will increase to 104 megabytes per second this year, with a a goal of 300 megabytes per second.

Specifications for the open standard will be released in the first quarter of 2009 by the SD Association.

Imagine a 2tb iPhone and think of how light this technology will make laptops. You could back-up everything you own on an iPhone or Ipod. The hard drive could go the way of the old tape backup within a couple years.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

82%

Of Americans approve of Barack Obama as he transitions to become the next President.

That number is the foundation to one sweet honeymoon.

Absence as they say,...

As all the living past, soon to be past, and next President are meeting today at the White House, CNN has a new poll out looking at the approval ratings of our past presidents.

It seems that absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

The walkback begins

Sen Harry Reid and Sen Dick Durbin just concluded a presser following a Dem caucus meeting with Rolland Burris. They are clearly beginning the process of seating Roland Burris as the next Senator for Illinois.

As I explained earlier, there is no requirement in Illinois law for the Secretary of State to certify the Governor's Senate appointment. Reid and Durbin just explained that certification by the Secretary of the State for the home state is actually a senate requirement and was the basis for not seating Burris yesterday.

On Friday Burris filled a Writ of Mandamus with the Illinois Supreme Court to compel Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White to certify what is undeniably the lawful appointment of Roland Burris to the United States Senate.

In what is clearly a move by the Senate Dems to save face, they are waiting for the IL Supreme Court to issue a writ or otherwise bless the appointment so they can then seat Burris.

When Blago appointed Burris to the seat, Burris became absolutely entitled to the seat as a matter of law (explaination here). It really is that simple. That the Senate Dems find themselves in a corner on this in the first place is yet another failure of leadership by Harry Reid, who can best serve his party and the nation by stepping aside and allowing more capable leadership.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Can Coleman Win?

In my search for a good analysis of Coleman's chances of winning, I came across John McCormack's blog post at the Weekly Standard. I know what your thinking but it's the best I've found so far.

Coleman's bottom line is that he has to convince the court to count previously rejected absentee ballots, and then pick up enough votes to overturn Franken's win. And Franken has some absentee ballots also previously rejected that they want counted. Throughout the state, many absentee ballots were incorrectly rejected for clerical errors while others were appropriately rejected for any number of legitimate reasons. In the recount process county officials identified some they thought were improperly rejected, and ultimately Coleman and Franken agreed on counting almost 800 of those.

As McCormack notes, Coleman's chances are a real long shot.

Meanwhile, former MN Republican Gov Arne Carlson thinks Coleman should concede gracefully for the benefit of the party. "I think there will be a tremendous amount of public anger, I think it will hurt his reputation," Carlson said. "I think he's got to get on with his life. .. At some point you've got to recognize, it is over."

WWRD

As Dana Milbank reports in this mornings WaPo, all the candidates for RNC chair agree that a religion needs to be built around Ronald Reagan. Never mind that the voters they need most have no living memory of Ronald Reagan.
Luckily, all six RNC candidates agreed on a solution to the party's woes: They would say Ronald Reagan's name over and over, as if it were a tantric incantation.

Anuzis quoted Reagan in his opening statement. Former Ohio secretary of state Ken Blackwell lamented that too many Republicans "campaign like Ronald Reagan and then govern like Jimmy Carter." Saltsman talked about his high school days: "Ronald Reagan was president, and he got me excited."

Katon Dawson, chairman of the South Carolina GOP, tried to top that. "I was inspired as a college graduate by a fellow who walked in the room by the name of Ronald Reagan."

Grover Norquist, the moderator and head of Americans for Tax Reform, asked each candidate to name his favorite Republican president. The tally: Reagan, 6; Lincoln, 0. "Okay, everybody got that one right," the moderator announced.
Indeed. Leading the party of Southern whites requires distance from Lincoln.

Monday, January 05, 2009

MN SC rejects Coleman's lastest challenge

Per the Minn StarTribune the MN Supreme Court rejected Coleman's latest move to count absentee ballots Coleman claims were wrongly rejected.

As a result, the MN Canvasing Board will declare Al Franken the winner of the Senate race today. But it doesn't end here. The MN SC did not rule of the merits of Coleman's claims, but rather held that his claims were premature and should be raised in an election challenge after the certification. Coleman has 7 days from certification in which to file a lawsuit.

And MN law apparently does not permit a final certification of the election until any legal challenges have been resolved, which means any lawsuit could delay the seating of a Senator for weeks.

The good news is that having lost the race, Coleman has a heavy burden to overturn the election. The only Coleman claim that could possibly net him sufficient votes in a challenge is his allegation that additional abesentee ballots were wrongly rejected for errors. His problem with this contention is that none of the various MN government officials involved agree with him.

Despite Coleman's insistence today that they will file a judicial chellenge, my guess is that in the next week to 10 days Colman will concede. There's no upside for Coleman to be a poor losser if there's no real chance of success.

Afghanistan

As our military focus returns to Afghanistan I want to again recommend Rory Stewart's "The Places In Between".

This book is a must read in trying to understand just what NATO is up against Afghanistan.

The end of Richardson's national political career

Jake Tapper reports that the Obama Team "feels Richardson wasn't forthcoming" about the grand jury investigation.

Stick a fork in him, he's done. He will spend the rest of his political career in NM politics which doesn't mean he might not make it to the Senate one day.

Rumors of Richardson's philandering are ubiquitous with many assuming that would ultimately bring him down.

And it's not like Commerce Secretary was a plum pick to begin with -- in fact, I really thought it was insulting.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Richardson withdraws as Commerce Secretary

Citing a pay to play grand jury investigation in New Mexico, Richardson has withdrawn himself from Commerce.

Senator Roland Burris

Roland Burris will be the next Senator from Illinois. You read it here first.

There's no legal basis to deny him the seat, and more importantly, I've yet to see anyone make a serious case against Burris.

Nothing in the Illinois statute requires the Sec of State to certify Blago's pick and the Supreme Court has decided that the Senate can only refuse to seat someone who doesn't met the Constitutional requirements to be a Senator.

He's 71 years old and as best I can determine, scandal free. It's not likely Burris will run again in 2 years which makes him a perfect caretaker for the job.

The Democrats need all the votes they can get in the Senate and the objections to Burris are just silly.

Obama needs to step up and call for seating Burris to protect the interest of the citizens of Illinois and the rest of the country. Same goes for Reid.

Let's end this sideshow and move on.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Senator Al Franken

Eric Kleefeld reports that the Mn recount is over and Franken holds a 225 vote lead.

Kleefeld goes on to explain that despite the thin margin, it appears to be enough to survive further challenge,
With these new figures, it's worth examining just how slim the odds would be of Coleman finding some way to win this thing, should he follow through on his campaign's vow to challenge the result in court.

First, there's Coleman's claim that 25 selected precincts double-counted a bunch of absentee votes for Franken, netting Franken about 110 votes. During the recount, the state Supreme Court ruled that Coleman could only raise this issue after the recount concluded and an apparent winner was determined. But if courts agree with him on that and took those votes away from Franken, Coleman would still lose. Then there's the canvassing board's decision to restore to Franken a net total of 46 votes that went missing from a single precinct during the recount. Coleman's campaign has indicated that they plan to contest that decision, but winning on it would still have him behind.
There are more absentee ballots in dispute which Coleman says he will go to court to count. Kleefeld downplays these additional ballots, but the Star-Tribune seems to take them a little more seriously.

If it is as Kleefeld describes, despite all the bluster, I suspect that Coleman will concede shortly after the canvas board certifies the count. What's the upside for Coleman if he believes he can't win?