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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It Takes 10 Years

One of the reasons we keep hearing about not drilling for oil in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge, from just about everyone opposed, is that it will take 10 years to actually get oil to the market.

Oddly, had we started drilling there in 1991, when George H.W. Bush proposed it, and Democrats filibustered the idea to death, or 1995, when Bill Clinton vetoed the budget because of an ANWR provision, we'd be seeing that oil on the market today. In fact, it would have been there for the last 3-6 years.

Robert J. Samuelson of the Washington Post points out the fantasy world of the folks opposed to exploration in the US in a column today, and says "Start Drilling". He not only suggests ANWR, but the coastal shelf and deep Gulf of Mexico areas.

He points out some inconvient truths for the folks stonealling drilling projects and exploration in the Gulf. Environmentalists complain about the possibility of huge oil spills caused by hurricanes. Yet we've been drilling in the gulf for decades, had dozens of hurricanes hit hundreds of rigs, and the "massive spill" there has yet to occur.

Ethanol has proven on the world food market that it's not the answer to energy independence. Higher fuel standards here will help, slightly. But they won't make up for the increased use of oil in China, Brazil, India and other emerging markets. Those markets have helped increase world demand by nearly 25% in the last 15 years. The only way back to reasonably priced fuel is increasing supply.

I pointed out a few days ago that even if we start pumping from ANWR that oil won't end up in US gas tanks, we've got no where to refine it on the west coast, and transporation to the gulf where there is some capacity is too expensive. However, if you put 5% of the US demand on the world oil market, it does help with price stability.

What should really bother environmentalists is that a China Cuba consortium is about to start exploration and drilling in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. If their doomsday scenarios prove true, who would they rather have in charge, the US companies, where there might be some legal recourse, or China and Cuba, who don't really care what we think?

Energy independence isn't going to come quick, or easy, and as ethanol has proven, there are unintended consequences for the "no new oil" mantra of envirnomentalists. The real question is, do we look for independence with a common sense approach that includes more US oil, and alternative, or do we keep up this charade that we can ween ourselves off oil completely, with no pain?

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Run Boy Run

You know that catch line, "Run Boy Run Boy Run Boy Run", it comes from the latest Kia commercial. It could just as easily come from the latest Barack Obama press interviews.

A month ago he said that he could no more disown his Reverend, Jeremiah Wright than he could the black community or his grandmother. This week Wright said those were the comments of "a politician". Now, the politician has decided that he can disown Wright, and is running as fast as he can, as far away from him as he can.

Obama's Wright problem got worse, and worse, and worse this weekend and Monday, as the "snippets" Obama claimed were used out of context were put into context, publicly, by Wright himself. It turns out that those "snippets" weren't out of context things pieced together to make the man look like a demagogue, they were his true feelings.

Suddenly Obama's Wright problem is two fold. The minister himself, obviously, and Obama's own speech in Philadelphia, where he defended him. To believe the minister would mean that Obama probably knew the man's feelings, after a 20 year association. To believe Obama's speech you have to believe that a man who wants to be President is completely tone deaf to his ministers rantings. Either one of those ends up meaning that Obama probably isn't the guy most folks want running the country.

Charlie Sykes put up a great list of links to both conservative and liberal reaction to Wright's recent appearances. The consensus seems to be that Wright may have damaged Barack beyond repair. The liberal defenders are starting to wonder out loud how Obama could NOT have known how Wright feels, and the conservatives are just too busy laughing about the whole thing to say much of anything.

If any of the list of liberals, or liberal leaning columnists like Dana Milbank, Eugene Robinson, Susan Estrich or Joe Klein had singly written columns announcing the downfall of Obama it would be one thing. When all of them do, then you know that the wheels are coming off the bus.

For the folks out there who think this can still pass, and Obama will win in November, all I can say is 527. There are going to be tons of 527 groups showing up, and tossing up photos of Obama and Wright together, and Wright's comments will be heard over every picture. They'll play every day from nomination to election, on every TV station in America, most radio, and be in print ads.

Add to that Obama's own foot shooting moments of late, especially "bittergate" and what you'll find is that he's so damaged he can't win. His core supporters may stick around, but that group isn't big enough to win the popular vote in the Democratic primaries, much less a general election.

Howard Dean said recently that the candidates will know when it's time for one of them to bow out of the race. It's possible that the one of them will be Obama, and it may be sooner than folks think. If he can't win North Carolina in two weeks by more than 10 points, and loses Indiana, Hillary will have more ammunition for her cannon shots of "I'm more electable".

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Monday, April 28, 2008

SCOTUS Gets it Right

The Supreme Court got something right today, in upholding Indiana's voter ID law. This is a big deal for voter ID proponents across the country, as Indiana had the toughest law on the books.

(From the Washington Post)
The widely awaited election-year case, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, was the most sharply partisan voting rights issue the court has considered since Bush v. Gore decided the 2000 presidential election.

But the divisive nature of the 2000 decision was diminished yesterday, as the usually liberal Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the main opinion and said the state law is a reasonable reaction to the threat of voter fraud.

Steven's reaction is exactly what conservatives have been saying about ID requirements for years. Milwaukee's recent problems with vote fraud, those found in Missouri over the last few elections, and in other places have dimished peoples thoughts that their vote counts.

Living in Illinois, and the Chicago area specifically, the idea that laws that prevent the Daly mantra of "vote early, vote often" are a welcome thing. For Democrats, though, it is a bad thing, remember, Illinois is the state that "found" the 200,000 votes that put JFK over the top in 1960.

To the folks who claim voter fraud is a myth, explain the 2005 finding that 4609 more ballots were cast in Milwaukee than there are registered voters. The total discrepancy was actually 7000+, but because of sloppy records they had to toss 2400 of them out. That included 200 cases of convicted felons voting, 100 cases of double voting and dead voting. That was just from the 2004 election.

If similar numbers were true in 2000 that would mean that the margin of votes cast illegally would have surpassed the number of votes Al Gore won by in the state. Yeah, that gives you confidence in the system.

For those screaming "disenfranchisment", I say bunk! You need an ID to cash a check at a payday loan office, open a bank account, to buy OTC cold medicines in many states, to get on an airplane, or into a federal and many state buildings.

The Brennan Center did a study in 2006, and claimed that by canvassing 987 people, they can extrapolate that 13 million voting age citizens (nationwide) don't have picture ID. Considering that the average turnout for federal elections is about 50-55% of late, that means that 6 million, or less than 5% of voting age people don't have a current form of government issued ID.

Since the poor and elderly seem to be the folks least likely to have the needed ID, here's a thought, give it to them free. If you are eligible for food stamps, get a free ID. Getting social security? Get a free ID. Kill those birds with a giveaway stone. Hell, the House is getting ready to debate another round of "stimulus" checks, they should be able to come up with the money for 13 million ID cards, right?

Good job Supreme Court, and especially Justice Stevens, who walked away from the liberal side of the bench to write a majority opinion steeped in common sense, not political bickering.

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What does Hillary Rodham Clinton have in common with truck drivers? Cluelessness, that's what. Hillary has suggested that we take a "gas tax" break from Memorial Day to Labor Day (good idea) which would save drivers 18 cents a gallon at the pump.

However; and this is where she's clueless; she would like to make up that money with a "windfall profits tax" on oil companies. Now, I'm no business genius, but I know that taxes are a cost on business, and to make up profits, they pass costs on to consumers. So just how much will my gas price go down if I only replace one tax with another?

Then there are the truck drivers who are rallying in DC today complaining (rightfully) about high prices. The problem is that the folks in DC can't do much, short term, to lower them. They've been missing long term chances since the mid-90's by not doing anything to ease the litigation burden on oil companies that want to increase their refining capacity, or opening any new areas to oil exploration.

The truckers would like to see an end to the export of oil from Alaska. They are clueless on this. You see, we don't have the refining capacity on the west coast to handle that oil, and the shipping costs of sending it to the Gulf Coast is prohibitive, and would raise, not lower the price of gas. To ship from Alaska to Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas would require either small enough tankers to get through the Panama Canal, or trips around South America. Small tankers are inefficient and the trip around South America is a long one. The oil companies actually keep their (and your) cost down by selling what can't be refined on the west coast on the world market.

They'd like to see the national petrolum reserve opened up, which would give a brief respite from prices, but not huge. Most of our refineries are working at capacity right now, so you wouldn't be able to do much with that oil, except sell it on the world market to lower prices. No guarantee it would come here, and odds are it would end up in China and India. Both of which have excess refining capacity.

Truckers, for some reason, think that by revoking some of the exploration tax breaks that oil companies are given will somehow reduce the price of oil. Again, I'll go back to Business 101, if you increase the cost of business (exploration in this case) those costs will be sent back to the consumer.

You'd think truckers would get most of that, many of them have been raising the rate per mile they charge to haul cargo due to higher costs. Evidently they think that theirs is the only business that has to make up for higher costs somehow.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

McCain Unfit Due To Military Disability?

Ralph Vartabedian of the LA Times asked the question yesterday, is John McCain fit to be Commander in Chief, since he receives a 100% VA disability payment each month. He also asks, if McCain can campaign vigorously, and hiked the Grand Canyon, why does he get it?

They are both good questions, that, had Ralph bothered to check with a VA disability counselor, instead of a Pentagon Tax Advisor for his story, he could have found the answers to.

Here's the short answers, yes, he's fit to be Commander in Chief, and he earned the disability. Maybe Ralph should spend a few years at a POW camp and see if he'd like some compensation.

For those who don't know, and haven't navigated the VA system (navigating Puget Sound blindfolded is easier), McCain's disability payments are based on a rather complex system that rates injuries, illness, and other problems incurred while on active duty.

For instance, my TJM, which was at least partially caused by a collision between my jaw and a hydraulic door closer, gets me 10%, my peptic ulcer gets me another 10%. My back, knees, and shoulders are all rated as 0% disabilities, but because they were rated, I can have them treated by the VA should I chose.

McCain suffered a lot of injuries while a POW, each of them, and their severity, was rated, and then the total of the ratings added up. My guess is if they could go over 100% he probably would have been given closer to 140-150% rating. But the rules say that 100% is as high as you can go.

Because McCain's injuries were due to combat related causes, there are additions to the formula. Just because you receive a 100% disability payment, it doesn't mean you are 100% disabled. Again, it's an additive formula, which is where the confusion seems to set in with Mr. Vartabedian. I'll reiterate, he should have sought the guidance of the VA on getting this explained to him, instead of assuming things.

As for why McCain's money is tax free (as is my disability payment each month), that's a question for Congress, who passed the laws making it so. I would guess, since I don't remember when they passed those laws, that it had to do with vets being mangled by war, not being able to work, and getting stories written about them in the LA Times and other papers, about how we mistreated them.

Wait, they are writing those stories now about how we don't take care of the current crop of war vets well enough. So, Ralph, should we not give McCain his disability, but make sure someone else gets payments? How would that work? Maybe a board of writers and editorialists could make the decision on who's qualified?

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Why The Frustration?

Yesterday I read a lot of blog and newspaper entries on the Democratic debate from last week. The biggest sense from all of them was frustration. While on the surface it seemed to be aimed at the questions and questioners, below the surface it is more likely aimed at the process that brought about this debate.

One of the more common lines was that McCain wasn't going to face such a debate between now and the convention. There wouldn't be a Gibson to ask him about his famous temper, since he doesn't have to do any more debating.

But that's not because he was the only candidate. Hell, six months ago John McCain was consider a DOA candidate. But the GOP primary system allowed him to sew up the nomination early, and concentrate on the broad picture. The Democrats, on the other hand, have developed a "fair" primary system, that has tied their party in knots. Today won't help, Hillary will win the primary in another big, "must win" state, and still not be the leader in delegates. More doubt may creep in about Obama's electability.

The Democrats came up with a system that worked great in basically from 1972 to 2004. The party generally got behind one person quick enough to have a "presumptive nominee" fairly early, and they could do the big picture campaigning in spring and summer. But none of those years had two really good candidates in the party view. This time around the flaw of their convoluted system is showing. Because the system does everything proportionally (read fairly) and the candidates are evenly matched, the campaigning against each other can't stop until Denver. In Denver it could be an ugly, 1968 style floor fight. Talks of a brokered convention with an outsider as the nominee are still floating around out there.

Now, out of fairness, every state left wants a debate, because the other one's had one. The problem is, that the policy stuff has been rehashed 21 times already on a stage. So the questions start getting to character, associations, etc. Those questions are uncomfortable to the candidates, and by reading the opinions on the web, more so to their supporters. People probably need to know more about candidates slips of memory, friends like Hsu and Rezko, and Wright and Ayers. The problem is the folks who've already committed to a horse in the race don't want to hear about that horses problems anymore. They want to reiterate why they can win, not expose the flaws they have.

When the Clinton and Obama partisans are complaining about the debate, they are really complaining about the system that brought them the debate. Maybe after this year they'll decided that they need to reform it. If they lose in November you can bet that the 2012 primary season will be run differently, if they win it still should be. The beast that is "fairness" will cause the problems in the future again.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Will It Kill Us?

I was reading the Chicago Tribune today when I happened by a piece I missed traveling last week. Evidently the new Large Hadron Collider,the largest particle collider in the world, will be ready to use this year. They hope this is the piece of equipment that will shed some insight into what happened right after the big bang, and answer questions like "where'd all this matter come from?"

Some folks, though are worried that it will actually create an artificial black hole that will eat the earth, and possibly nearby planets and stars. One guy in Hawaii has filed a law suit to stop it from being used until it's shown that it won't kill us all.

I'm betting against the doomsday scenario, while it may be able to create a black hole, if they give it Rosie O'Donnell to eat, that thing won't be hungry for years. The planet will be safe.

So, go ahead with your experiments, but please keep Rosie close by, just in case.

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Charlie Gibson, Agent of the GOP?

(Long, boring economic post. Read it, you might learn something.)

The one thing you couldn't miss since last week was the furor over the debate on ABC. To read liberal blogs you'd think Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopulos are probably McCain staffers working under deep cover for ABC.

To the liberals defense, they probably did spend a little too much of the debate on the "gotcha" stuff that's been running around the news lately on Bosnia, Rev. Wright, etc. While they shouldn't have ignored the subjects, they could have cut that part short.

The second biggest uproar, though is over the question, and follow up, to Obama on capital gains taxes. EJ Dionne over at the Washington Post said Gibson "sounded like a lobbyist for tax cuts for the wealthy".

For those who don't know, you can download all of the IRS tax data and look at the numbers yourself. What you find is that not only with capital gains, but income taxes, the lower rates generate more, not less income, generally after a 1 year drop off.

Obama's answer that he wants to raise rates so hedge fund managers pay more is a joke. Kind of like the Alternative Minimum Tax of the 60's, used to catch 14 millionaires then, that 20 million paid this year, Obama's tax hike would hit 100 million tax payers, 50% of whom made less than 75K last year. That's only the direct hit. Not bad, to get a few thousand managers to pay more taxes we hike them on 100 million others.

The truth is, that the tax hike hits more than 100 million. If you have a 401(k), IRA, etc, you will pay it also, just not directly. This is what confuses the folks defending the tax hike. Capital Gains don't show up as a tax on those, you pay standard income tax rates on your withdrawls.

But someone does pays capital gains on the investments in those accounts. The funds companies pay that rate. That means that you, the holder of an IRA get less money as a return on investment and pay a higher service fee on the account to pay those taxes. Loaded mutual funds will see higher loads and lower returns for the same reason. But since they are "hidden taxes" some folks claim you don't pay them.

The other arguement on capital gains is that it reduces available investment income. Those hedge funds and venture capital funds, which are used to start up businesses, suffer under higher rates. That tightens money supplies (which is already a problem) for folks trying to start or expand a business.

Gerald Jackson wrote a great piece about how the Laffer Curve works last September. The Laffer Curve says that lower tax rates increase tax receipts due to the availability of income to invest. It's been a counter intuitive piece of fact for Democrats since JFK died. Kennedy cut tax rates to increase productivity and the economy, it worked. But since then the left has decided that imperical evidence be damned, higher taxes are needed.

Jackson applied it specifically to capital gains, and the availibility of capital to start businesses. When the rates gone down our economy expands, when it goes up, that expansion slows, or stops.

The reason is simple, but again counter-intuitive to those who refuse to believe data. You see, capitalists don't take their earnings and stuff them in a mattress so they can roll around in it late at night. When an investors make money they generally re-invest it into something else, to make more money.

Higher capital gains rates make less money available in two ways. The obvious is the extra money going to the government, not being reinvested. The less obvious, but proven true, is that the number of transactions that incur capital gains taxes goes down as the rates go up. Investors don't sell as many stocks to realize the gain with higher rates. Since the higher rate causes the rate of return to fall, they end up holding stocks longer, and therefore don't have "reinvestment" capital available as often. This prevents folks who need that capital to start or expand a business to have a more difficult time finding it. That affects you if you need a job, or want to go into business yourself.

For those who had fits about Gibson's return to the original question, as EJ Dionne did, get over it. He did what a moderator should do, he called BS on the answer. If more moderators would do it, and ask for answers tied to facts, not sound bites, we might all learn a little more about our politicians.

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I'm Back

Sorry about the absence. Ended up in Houston, Texas for work last week and then the weekend here in Chicagoland was so nice I didn't feel like blogging. I just enjoyed the sunshine, did yard work (which I'll hate again in a month or so) and basically hung out.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Not So Saintly

St. Barack has put his foot in it, yet again, with his comments that folks in Pennsylvania cling to "god and guns" because of the states economy. While he was at it he should have said "rural Pennsylvania is why they call it a TOOTH brush".

Of course that line wasn't supposed to get out, it was at a media free fundraiser, and the conspiracy theorist figure it was a Clinton supporter who leaked what he said. Who cares, he said it.

The more he back tracks, and tries to apologize, the more Obama sounds like what I've been calling him for months, a politicians, not some new fangled "agent of change".

Part of Obama's reasoning is correct, people are frustrated when they live in areas for years, or decades, they've felt left behind. He's even partially correct that they should be frustrated with the government. The problem is his solution, more government, is the problem in many of those areas.

When you look at Michigan, Pennsylvania and other "rust belt" states that are facing many of the problems he mentioned the government solutions of tax something to pay for retraining, tax something to pay for new programs hasn't worked. Yet his idea is for more taxes to pay for a new program.

The reason Pennyslvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin don't attract more companies, more jobs, etc is that companies look at them as "tax hells". Why locate in a place with high corporate tax rates, crazy mandates on what business has to provide (Wisconsin's "gold plated" insurance requirements) and generally unfriendly attitudes when you can go to Texas, New Mexico, Iowa, and elsewhere and be greated as someone wanting to help, not as a new source of revenue.

Forbes put Pennsylvania in the bottom ten states to do business in it's 2006 "Best Places To Do Business" list. Every indicator they use to create the ranking system had Pennsylvania rated 29 or lower, save quality of life. However, that one is great for employees, but doesn't do much to attract employers when the rest of the deck is stacked against them.

Unfortunately, Obama can't lay the blame on Pennsylvania's problems where it belongs, with the state government. They are all democrats, and already mostly supporting Hillary Clinton. But the truth is, until the state decides to do something to make itself more attractive to businesses, there's going to be little Obama, Clinton, or John McCain can do to change the frustration of those left behind there. Though not making condescending remarks about them might help.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Killing American Jobs, Pelosi Style

Nancy Pelosi has taken a big step towards killing a bunch of good paying, union jobs in the US, with the backing of the union's who's workers are going to be hurt.

What she's doing is changing the rules (midstream) on trade agreements. Over the last few years Congress and the Bush administration have agreed that any trade agreement sent to Congress gets an up or down vote within 90 days. Pelosi has decided to change that rule to kill the Columbian Free Trade Agreement.

Pelosi's stand is that she's protecting American workers from having cheaper Columbian goods come to the US under the agreement. That might be good if it were the truth, but it's a lie. Between 92% and 95% of everything coming to the US from Columbia is already duty free under the Andean Trade Preferences Act, which got a yea vote from 365 members of Congress 8 months ago.

The truth is, the unions, specifically the AFL-CIO has decided that anything that says "Free Trade" is bad, and that Pelosi needs to stop it. The Wall Street Journal has a great piece about the actual effects of this action. Specifically they talk about Caterpillar, which employs 50,000 US workers.

Under the agreement Cat's big machines will get rid of the 5-15% tariffs that are currently imposed on them by Columbia. Japan and Canada are also producers of similar machines, and are both expected to ratify free trade pacts with Columbia. That would give both Komatsu and Champion price advantages over US products made at UAW shops in Illinois.

If you don't think that's a big deal, Columbia has more Cat D-11 dozers running in it's mines than any other country in the world. But why buy more from Cat to replace them, when Komatsu will have a 15% price edge?

The other problem this rejection creates is a security issue. Columbia has been a good ally of the US in South America, kind of a counter balance to the Chavez block down there. However, we now get to be seen as a country that doesn't honor it's agreements, we signed the free trade agreement in 2006, and have been revising (to meet Democratic demands) since. Now we aren't even going to give it a vote. That type of action makes Hugo Chavez's anti-American rhetoric sound a little more truthful.

It's a sad day when our Congressional leaders cowtow to union heads on a deal that would have done nothing but increase the US market share in Columbia. US Union's have made boogey men of free trade agreements, and the truth is they hurt their own workers the most when they work to squash them.

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Al Gore Brainwashes Children?

According to Dr. William Gray of Colorado State University; you know him as the main non-government hurricane forcaster in the US; the global warming alarmists act like McCarthy disciples, and are brainwashing our kids.

In a statement to Florida Today, Gray argued that the scientific consensus on global warming is bogus — and "a mild form of McCarthyism has developed toward those scientists who do not agree" that mankind is in danger.

We are also brainwashing our children on the warming topic. We have no better example than Al Gore's alarmists and inaccurate movie which is being shown in our schools and being hawked by warming activists with little or no meteorological-climate background," Gray wrote.

Gray is in the group of scientists who think that the impending disaster scenarios touted by Al Gore and others are bogus and overblown.

One of the ironic things about this is everytime he forecasts a busier than usual hurricane season, the Gore minions scream that it's another example of how global warming will destroy us. Gray and others disagree.

"Some scientists believe global warming will actually decrease — not increase — the number of hurricanes that form over the Atlantic Ocean each year. Last Friday, in the final session of the hurricane conference, a pair of climate experts said rising sea-surface temperatures in and near the Caribbean could strengthen vertical wind shear. Robust wind shear is the bane of hurricanes, as it tends to tear apart cyclones during their formative stages. "

Acolytes of Al will always tell you that warmer water just breeds more hurricanes, never mentioning the wind shear angle, since it's an inconvenient truth. Of course they are the same folks who claim the ice caps melting will raise sea levels 20 feet, when 3 feet is probably the maximum possible. They also ignore the facts about the effect of that much melted ice COOLING the oceans to a point that we'd have a new mini ice age.

Gray isn't the first respected person in the field of climatology to mock the Global Warming Inc.® folks. Remember last June when I wrote about Reid Bryson, the "father of scientific climatology" who called the whole man made global warming theory "hooey". His data from Wisconsin showed that if you removed the urbanized weather reporting stations from the temperature equation there is a slight cooling going on. Similar results were found in the Southwest US.

Who knows, maybe enough scientists (as opposed to activists) will start talking that in a few years the Feds will be raiding compounds in Texas full of Global Warming Alarmists­ with alters to Al placed everywhere.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Recall Elections A Possibility?

The State Assembly in Illinois today passed (75-33) a Constitutional Amendment that would allow for the recall of elected officials in Illinois. It's a shame that such a rule doesn't already exist here, but hopefully our representatives in Springfield can take care of that problem.

When you think of it, having the Assembly, State Senate, and Governors Mansion (or a Chicago Condo) occupied by Democrats one would think the Governor would be safe from having stuff like this pop up. It's no secret that the proposed amendment is aimed squarely at Gov. Blagojevich, and his own party, at least in the Assembly, seems to be pretty happy to give the means to get rid of him.

However, Emil Jones, the leader of the State Senate still has to bring this up for a vote there. Considering his ties to the Governor, and the fact that he seems to work to the beat of his own drummer, it's no slam dunk this will see the light of day in the Senate. Jones carries a pretty big stick, and regardless of the "will of the people" would probably twist a lot of arms to get it to fail and save his friend. Passing it would require all GOP Senators to vote yes, plus 14 of the 37 Democrats.

Should Jones bring it to the floor, and it passes with the 60% vote required, it would still require citizen approval in November, making April 09 the earliest it could be used. It would then require nearly 420,000 petition signatures to get the recall on the ballot.

For those (like me) who'd like to see a recall election of Blagojevich, keep in mind that it wouldn't necessarily mean a GOP candidate would get the office. Anyone can declare as a candidate for the position, and who ever gets the most votes would take over should the recall itself succeed. Considering the state of the GOP in Illinois, Pat Quinn, Mike Madigan or Emil Jones are all just as likely to win the office as anyone the GOP could bring to the table.

If you would like to call Mr. Jones and ask him to bring this bill to the Senate floor, his number in Springfield is (217) 782-2728, his local office in Chicago is (773) 995-7748, or you can fax him at (773) 995-9061.

To find the contact info for your State Senator check this page http://www.ilga.gov/senate/

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Misleading Polls

So, I'm over at Yahoo, reading an article on Obama's softening support among Democrats, which isn't surprising, it's hard to remain in the 70% region forever. Later in the article, it notes that according to the NY Times/CBS Poll, both Obama and Hillary Clinton hold 5 percent leads over John McCain nationally. That sounded suspect to me, since Rassmussen and Zogby both have it the other way around.

Then, in the last paragraph, they explain it:

The nationwide telephone poll was taken March 28 through April 2, with 1,196 registered voters participating, including 510 Democratic primary voters and 323 Republican primary voters.

19% more of the participants in the poll are registered Democrats! Obama had a 47-42% lead over McCain from this poll, but 46% of the respondents were Democrats. That means if he got all of the Democrats polled to say they prefer him, then he only got 64 of the 363 non-aligned voters to say they'd vote for him. If 63% supported him (as they say earlier in the article), then he got about 50% of the non-aligned vote.

Regardless, having that big of a skew in the polled individuals is going to skew the results. Pollsters will tell you they "normalize" numbers to take out the inconsistancies, but a 20% difference is hard to normalize, or justify.

Considering the Times and CBS ran the poll I guess my surprise should be at the fact they released the numbers on who they polled.

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