Saturday, December 27, 2008

What is the world coming to? Mexican lawmakers demand probe of beauty pagents

Man, if you can't believe in the sanctity of a Mexican beauty pageant, what is there left to believe in?

Friday, December 19, 2008

The hits just keep on coming...Minnesota recount slashes Coleman's 300+ vote lead to just 2 votes

It's a good thing they scrutinized Franken's challenges first. That way, they knew exactly how many votes they had to create in order to swipe the election. It reminds me of the 2004 Washington Governor's race. It took three recounts to add enough Democrat votes to win the election. Then, when the Dem had the lead, they called the election over.
Update: At the 1:30 pm ABC Radio news update it was reported that Franken has taken the lead in this election for the first time.
Where's Jimmy Carter to observe and police this election? He's obviously MIA, perhaps looking for something to blame on US Oil Companies.

Wall Street Journal's Auto Bailout factsheet

Here's what the Automakers MUST do:
Binding Terms and Conditions: The binding terms and conditions established by the Treasury will mirror those that were voted favorably by a majority of both Houses of Congress, including:
Firms must provide warrants for non-voting stock.
Firms must accept limits on executive compensation and eliminate perks such as corporate jets.
Debt owed to the government would be senior to other debts, to the extent permitted by law.
Firms must allow the government to examine their books and records.
Firms must report and the government has the power to block any large transactions (> $100 M).
Firms must comply with applicable Federal fuel efficiency and emissions requirements.
Firms must not issue new dividends while they owe government debt.

Here are the "targets" (read: stuff that sounds like a good idea, but the UAW wouldn't agree to it in the Senate version of the bailout, so you don't have to do it if you don't feel like it as long as you can come up with a good excuse, but we're trying to not look like total sell outs, so we're putting it into the verbiage):

Targets: The terms and conditions established by Treasury will include additional targets that were the subject of Congressional negotiations but did not come to a vote, including:
Reduce debts by 2/3 via a debt for equity exchange.
Make one-half of VEBA payments in the form of stock.
Eliminate the jobs bank.
Work rules that are competitive with transplant auto manufacturers by 12/31/09.
Wages that are competitive with those of transplant auto manufacturers by 12/31/09.
These terms and conditions would be non-binding in the sense that negotiations can deviate from the quantitative targets above, providing that the firm reports the reasons for these deviations and makes the business case to achieve long-term viability in spite of the deviations.

Spender-In-Chief defies the wishes of the taxpayers. US automakers lose their best chance to become competitive and profitable

-No reorganization
-No mandated end to paying UAW workers to sit and play cards
-No mandated deadline as to when UAW and executive concessions must take effect
-No oversight as to the use of the $13+ billion in taxpayer funds
-No built-in incentive to become leaner, sharper and smarter
-No guarantee that this won't all happen again just months from now - with (future) American taxpayers being $13 billion poorer

Thanks, George. I'm sure you would have done the same for any of us if we were hurting. Oh, wait. We are.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pope Benedict on Christmas during tough economic times

VATICAN CITY - The world economic crisis might mean fewer Christmas
presents, but Pope Benedict XVI says that tough times can give back simplicity
and solidarity to holiday celebrations. Benedict has expressed hope that the
financial crisis will help people focus on the spiritual meaning of Christmas,
when Christians worldwide mark the birth of Jesus.
Benedict says the crisis can help people to rediscover what he calls "the warmth, simplicity, friendship and solidarity" contained in authentic Christmas values.
The pope reflected on economic suffering during his traditional Wednesday audience with pilgrims and tourists at the Vatican.

Minnesota Canvassing Board could finish this week. Legal challenges are expected

One has to wonder, how did they determine who's challenged ballots would be evaluated first? Did they go though Franken's challenges first so they would know how many votes they would need to produce in order to swipe the seat? Hmmmm.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Canvassing Board sorts through challenged ballots

How did the first 15-20 minutes go?

Of the first five challenges, the panel rejected three, restoring votes
that had originally gone to Coleman. It upheld two challenges, one adding a vote
to Franken and the other taking one away from Coleman.

Now they move on to the remaining 995 or so challenged ballots. It is now officially ugly.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Minnesota update: Coleman seeks delay of recount until rules are established

According to The Hill, Norm Coleman wants the MN Supreme Court to stop the recount until consistent rules in the way challenged ballots will be scrutinized, handled and counted can be established. In addition, the Coleman camp alleges there are "hundreds" of ballots which have been double counted and is asking them to be reconsidered.

Undoubtedly, Al Franken, the alleged comedian, will break out the tired Democrat tactic of accusing Coleman of trying to "disenfranchise" Minnesota voters. Has it gotten ugly yet?

How can we really rev up the economy with the rest of that bailout money? A two-month complete federal tax holiday

Texas Representative Louie Gohmert has proposed legislation in which American workers will pay no federal personal income tax or FICA withholdings for January and February. According to Rep. Gohmert, this is a way to take the remaining $350 billion of the bailout package and put it in the hands of consumers.

I love the idea, and I am not the only one. This proposal is gaining support. Newt Gingrich, Congressman Mike Pence and recently a small business advocacy group, the National Federation of Independent Businesses have endorsed it.

Will this proposal get anywhere? Well, it seems like a great idea that would actually work, so probably not, but it will be interesting to see what happens.

The Minnesota recount enters the next phase tomorrow. Is this seat being Blagojeviched?

The Minnesota Senate recount saga is moving into the next phase. Republican incumbent Senator Norm Coleman narrowly won the first certified count. Coleman's win was upheld with the hand recount. Now the Canvassing Board begins the tedious process of pouring over each of the ballots that Coleman and his challenger, alleged comedian Al Franken have challenged. At one point, the total number of challenged ballots was over 6,000. Since then, both camps have removed their challenges on a number of these with hopes that the process will be completed sooner.

Power Line, a Minnesota-based blog written by attorneys who have been warily following the recount process, printed this update. Though Coleman holds a 200 vote lead at this point, they seem to suggest Franken seems to be getting the procedural breaks. I've said it all along. This is going to get ugly.

Here's the Power Line piece:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Here's what defeated the auto bailout: the Corker auto bailout amendment. The UAW would not agree to it

Here is the text of the Corker Amendment. According to reports, this was the sticking point that caused negotiations to break down. Tell me, what do you (the person putting up the money for this bailout) find so unpalatable?

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) has proposed an amendment to auto bailout legislation. Here is the text of the Corker auto bailout amendment.
The Corker Amendment requires the following in order to receive bailout financing:
-Reduce unsecured debt by 2/3 (does not include pensions and employee benefit obligations)
-Reduce compensation, including wages and benefits, to the average per person per hour of Nissan, Toyota, and Honda
-Ensure parity of work rules with those of Nissan, Toyota, and Honda
-At least 1/2 of payments to VEBA account must be in the form of stock, not cash
-Suspends continued payments to UAW Jobs Bank recipients

Thursday, December 11, 2008

FBI affidavit: Blago was offered $500,000-$1,000,000 by emissaries for Candidate # 5

According to the FBI affidavit in the case, emissaries for Senate Candidate 5 offered Blagojevich up to $1m for the Senate seat.
Describing the offer in an October 31 conversation recorded by the FBI, Blagojevich said: "We were approached 'pay to play'. That you know, he'd raise me 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him [Senate Candidate 5] a senator."

Wall Street Journal: Blago's 2 hour conference call--who was on the line in D.C.?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Jessie Jackson, Jr.: "I haven't missed a vote, (sniffle, sniffle) my sister is proud of me...

...and I'm Candidate Number 5. On the advice of council, no further questions."

Break out the popcorn. This Governor Blago saga is becoming increasingly entertaining

This things got more twists than a Hitchcock movie on steroids. New and breaking today:

Representative Jessie Jackson, Jr. admits to being "Candidate number 5" (yes, break out the Lou Bega parodies) who was reported to be willing to raise $500,000 for Blago's campaign war chest:

Deputy Governor Bob Greenlee, who is rumored to be "Candidate number 4" has resigned for unknown reasons (probably just wants to spend more time with the family):

It's gonna be fun to watch.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

ABC's Brian Ross: Recap of the Blago corruption arrest

"If Illinois isn't the most corrupt state in the United States, it sure is
one hell of a the competitors," said the head of the FBI's Chicago office,
Robert Grant. He said veteran FBI agents were "disgusted, sick" as they listened
to the intercepted conversations of the Illinois governor.

Senate seat for sale? Illinois Governor Blago taken into custody
Chicago politics at its best. The question immediately comes to mind: Is there a trail of corruption to be followed?
From The Smoking Gun:

Feds: Blagojevich saw Obama's vacated job as a "valuable thing"
DECEMBER 9--The criminal complaint filed today against Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich contains a remarkable section detailing the Democratic politician's alleged attempt to cash in on his ability to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

Heritage Foundation: Don't tax the masses to pay lofty wages for the few

This is a very good policy piece from one of my favorite think tanks, The Heritage Foundation.

UAW spokespeople have roundly condemned the estimate of labor costs in
excess of $70 per current worker hour. They assert these figures include the
cost of current retiree pension and health benefits. They have done so, however,
without marshalling evidence to support their case.
The Detroit automakers
explain in their SEC filings that their benefit expenses are for current
workers, not former employees. This is because they follow generally accepted
accounting principles in preparing these estimates. If the figures did include
current retiree benefits, the average hourly amount would be much higher than
they actually report. UAW employees earn far more than most Americans do.
Congress should not tax all Americans to bailout the Detroit automakers in order
to preserve high earnings for a few.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Recounting is done-now on to the challenged ballots

Republican Norm Coleman is up by 192 votes. Alleged comedian, Al Franken claims there are 133 ballots missing because of a discrepancy between the physical ballot count and the machine count at one Minneapolis voting site. Election workers at the polling place suspect these 133 "missing" ballots don't exist. They theorize the discrepancy is the result of someone erroneously sliding 133 absentee ballots (which should have been kept separate) through the polling machine.

Focus now moves to the nearly 6,700 challenged ballots as they are scrutinized beginning December 16.

"Terrorist-like" figurine causes outrage. Legos are a toy of peace!

I personally prefer this to the "Don't ask, Don't tell" Ken Doll.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Minnesota recount ends tomorrow. Will Franken accept the outcome with grace?

Here's a good rundown of the current situation in the Minnesota Senate recount from Minneapolis attorney, Scott W. Johnson, in a blog on the National Review Online:

The mandatory recount has proceeded by hand throughout Minnesota on a precinct-by-precinct basis in a mostly orderly fashion for the past three weeks, with results reported each day to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office. The recount will come to an end tomorrow, with some 6,000 challenged ballots – roughly half challenged by each side — to be considered by the five-member canvassing board called under state law to preside over the recount.

According to news organizations comparing the reported recount results to the originally certified tally, as of last night Coleman’s margin over Franken had expanded to 316 votes (excluding the approximately 6,000 challenged ballots).

...Franken isn’t talking or acting like a winner. As I wrote on Power Line this week, I conclude that Franken anticipates losing the recount. Franken has already resorted to litigation over rejected absentee ballots and threatened further litigation over the rejection of certain absentee ballots. He has met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on the subject and won Reid’s expression of concern implicitly raising the threat that the Senate Democratic majority may overturn the result reached in Minnesota if the rejected absentee ballots in issue aren’t counted. Al Franken hasn’t been funny in a very long time, but that is really unfunny.

Canadian Car Chase

Thanks to Tim Weber for forwarding this to me.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Politico: Jeb considering 2010 Senate run

Younger (and considerably more conservative) Bush brother, Jeb Bush, is considering running for the Florida Senate seat being vacated by Republican Mel Martinez. Martinez announced earlier this week that he would not be seeking reelection when his term is up in 2010.

Jeb, of course, is the former Governor of Florida and still enjoys considerable popularity throughout the state.

Saxby saves the Senate. No Dem super-majority in the upper chamber

As predicted here almost 1 month ago, incumbent Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss soundly defeated his Democrat challenger Jim Martin in what is shaping up to be a 60%-40% vote differential. Fresh off his own resounding victory, President-Elect Obama pledged his extensive campaign war chest and political machine to assist Martin in the runoff. Obama, himself, was noticeably absent during this campaign, however. One would assume he was reluctant to add his face to what was surely a difficult pickup for his party.

Now the focus goes to the Senate recount being conducted in Minnesota between another incumbent Republican, Norm Coleman and his Democrat challenger, alleged comedian Al Franken. Last update had Coleman strengthening his extremely slight lead. The Franken camp is hinting they may dispute the recount, claiming 1,000 absentee ballots that had to be thrown out should, in fact, be counted. This one could get ugly.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Top 10 clues your cruise ship has been taken over by pirates

It is becoming increasingly obvious that the Seven Seas are dangerous. A resurgence in pirate activity off the coast of Somalia has been all over the news. It is important for your safety, that you be educated in the subtle signs of pirate infestation. As a service to you, we present:

Top 10 clues your cruise ship has been taken over by pirates.

10. Isaac the Bartender begins wearing a puffy shirt behind the bar.

9. Formal dinner at the Captain’s table is black eye patch only.

8. For days after the cruise is over you can’t get that “Yo ho yo ho, a pirate’s life for me” song out of your head.

7. Optional on-shore excursions include rummaging, pillaging and setting fire to port buildings.

6. The room service menu includes cannonballs and gun powder.

5. Morning step aerobics is held on a dead man’s chest.

4. Snorkeling activities begin every afternoon at the plank.

3. The on board beauty salon offers five different styles of dreadlocks and beard braiding.

2. Strawberry margaritas are served with mini Jolly Roger flags instead of paper umbrellas.

1. You begin developing parrot-shaped tan lines on your shoulder.

Big 3 automakers return. UAW "considers" reopening contracts

From the Detroit News:

The Bloated 3 return to Congress with hats and business plans in hand seeking more than the $25 billion in tax dollars they were awarded this fall. In the spirit of generosity and cooperation, the UAW offers to "consider reopening contracts." Unconfirmed reports claim the existence of a double secret union meeting in which they will consider what they call "givebacks" or "concessions." How gracious. According to the Detroit News:
A person familiar with one automaker's plan said a variety of topics are being
explored. Key issues include reopening the contract, eliminating the
controversial jobs bank that still pays workers even when they are laid off, and
how much and how quickly the automakers will contribute to a trust fund to be
run by the UAW that will take over responsibility for retiree health care
beginning in 2010. The health care trust was a key part of the landmark
contracts negotiated last year.

Unless you're aboard a pirate-commandeered cruise ship, you've heard the latest pro-auto bailout argument: "This is just a loan. It will all be paid back. Remember when Chrysler did it?" Well, here's this tidbit, again from the Detroit News:

All three companies' plans will disclose how much cash they have on hand and how much they need in the short term to survive. Chrysler said it had burned
through $5 billion in the first nine months of the year, and was down to $6.1 billion as of Sept. 30. GM lost more than $20 billion in the first nine months
of the year and burned through $6.9 billion in the third quarter. Ford ran
through $7.7 billion in the third quarter.

With that kind of financial track record, would you be granted a loan from your neighborhood bank branch?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Palin campaigns for Chambliss in GA runoff

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is firing up the base for incumbent Senator Saxby Chambliss in Georgia. Traditional voting in the runoff between Chambliss and his Democrat challenger Jim Martin begins tomorrow. Early voting has been going on for the past couple of weeks.

Polling has Chambliss supporters optimistic. The Republican candidate has consistently been polling 4 points ahead. In addition, McCain won the state with 52 percent of the vote despite a record 30 percent African-American vote. According to Shannon McCaffrey of, the early black vote has been at 23 percent.

The get out the vote effort for runoffs and special elections is vital to victory, as voting numbers typically drop off.

Rumormill bombshell: Senator Slick Willie from the great state of New York?

Things that make you go "hmmmmm"

Rumors are fun -- especially political rumors. Here's a new one gaining some strength: Senator Bill Clinton.

Here's how it goes. Hillary seems almost inevitably to be the Secretary of State. In order to be named to the cabinet, there were certain concessions that her husband would have to make so there would be no potential for "quid pro quo" impropriety with his dealings overseas. What incentive would the former President have to do so? How about being appointed to her former Senate seat? Democrat New York Governor Patterson has the sole power to fill that opening until the next general election. Could a deal have already been worked out?