MN Senator Living in DC Basement

US Senator Norm Coleman (Republican, MN) is up to his hypocritical antics, again. After the entire wing of the Republican Party ridiculed Al Franken (Democrat, MN) for his recent tax troubles, Norm stepped up to the plate and should have silenced his crowd. Norm Coleman's DC residence is a 10 foot by 10 foot room in a friend's basement; but that's only half the story. The other half, Norm hasn't been paying his monthly rent of $600. Let the games begin.

Before I destroy Coleman, I'm going to point out a major oversight by the right wing when it comes to Franken's tax problem. Al Franken made an effort to pay his taxes, he hired an accountant like most everybody else, but the accountant made a major mistake. As a result "Franken paid state income taxes only in the states where he lived -- New York and Minnesota. That meant he overpaid taxes in those two states, but shorted the other 17 states by more than $50,000." [Source: MPR] Al Franken is not a tax expert; he is not running for 'US Tax Expert,' and he made a mistake, but at least Franken made an attempt, Norm can't make that same claim.

To begin the ridicule I'll reference the original article from the National Journal. The very fact that such an article was even published about Norm Coleman predicates a complete failure in even attempting to pay the rent. What's more is that his excuse is just terrible, "I can assure Minnesotans that while partisans will attempt to raise questions about the perception of my paying rent to live in a bedroom of a house of a friend, there is no extraordinary reason for my staying there other than it fit my family's budget." Let me get this straight, Norm Coleman is staying in a basement because of financial reasons; the $169,300 he earns a year as a US Senator just simply isn't enough for him to stay on top of his rent. So either Coleman simply doesn't have the money, or he wasn't responsible enough to just pay the rent. This presents an interesting scenario, take your pick; either he is struggling to make ends meet with an income greater than 96.87% [Source: US Census 2005] of the population or Norm Coleman is an idiot.

At this juncture I'm ready to name both candidates incompetent when it comes to the basic concept of exchanging money for goods or services, but Norm may currently have the slight edge. I would now expect certain right wingers (MN Democrats Exposed) to end their relentless crusade against Franken and his taxes after Norm's latest demonstration of hypocrisy. Now to drop a baseless right wing style quote: Norm Coleman is creating a pattern of not being upfront with voters. Actually Norm Coleman made a mistake, and so did Al Franken. As a result the discussion should shift away from these stupid distractions and move onto their differences on issues that matter. For example Norm continues to support the Iraq War, Franken supports a withdrawl; Coleman is not in favor of a gas tax that would generate additional funding to support infrastructure, while Franken believes extra money should be rasied to ensure our roadways are save after the 35W Bridge collapse. More on the issues in future posts.

Published on June 27th at 11:28 PM CT :: 0 Comments

McCain's 35W Replacement Complaint

After McCain's campaign advisor, Charlie Black entertained the idea of a terrorist attack stimulating the Republican candidate's campaign; John McCain attempted to dispel any damage. In his speech he rejected the statements, but created a larger problem in the process. While offering a cash prize for a technologically unlikely battery McCain uttered these words: ''If we can afford 233 million dollars on a bridge, we certainly, could in my view spend one dollar per every man, women and child in America to eliminate our needs;'' where ''needs'' references our dependence on oil. The 233 million dollar investment refers to the cost allocated to finance the replacement of the 35W Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota after it tragically collapsed due to governmental negligence.

To begin analyzing his blunder, McCain first compares the need to replace a pivotal bridge with his own pipe dream of eliminating our foreign dependence on oil. McCain fails to realize that if such a scientific breakthrough were to actually occur the creator would likely reap far more that the $300 million McCain is offering. The issue isn't the reward it's the initiative. The scope of this project lends itself to a corporate empire leaving the average citizen with absolutely no hope of accomplishing the objective. The cash prize then fundamentally becomes a corporate incentive, which is fine, but $300 million to a Fortune 500 company is nothing in comparison to the potential of such a technology. The bottom line is taxpayer money would be much better spent on basically anything else, including funding such a project.

McCain's second and more important oversight is in his reference to the 35W Bridge collapse. His statement shows that he not only looks down upon infrastructure spending but he also does not fundamentally understand the plight of the average American. He may not have to use highways, he may not even have to drive, but the rest of the country does. Bridges need to be safe they need to be maintained and people need to have the confidence in their government to help them in a crisis; and the bridge collapse qualifies as a crisis. People died and millions of people were affected as the main artery connecting St. Paul to Minneapolis was severed. Such a catastrophe should never be compared to a political gimmick. The people of Minnesota will not forget the collapse for a long, long time because it is still affecting their daily lives. They will however remember this feeble attempt at yet another political gimmick. At this point McCain should finally feel comfortable scratching Minnesota from his list of potential big wins regardless of what his internal polling reveals.

I'm also intrigued by the way John McCain said he would pay for his $300 million proposal. He said this, ''I could pay for this by cancelling three pork barrel projects that are unnecessary and unwanted.'' The catch, these pork barrel projects would be cancelled from a budget his administration would write. If I follow correctly he is adamantly against pork barrel spending in public, but a budget he would write would include pork, but it would be eliminated to make room for his cash prize. According to this logic political gimmicks have precident over pork, and public safety lies somewhere inbetween.

Published on June 24th at 2:06 AM CT :: 1 Comment

Senate GOP Sets Filibuster Record

I was watching coverage of the Senate on CSPAN 2 today and stumbled upon what appeared to be yet another Republican filibuster. Senator Jon Kyl (Republican Minority WHIP, Arizona) initially appeared thoughtful and intellectual until Dick Durbin (Democrat, Illinois) objected. At this point Senator Kyl took offense and went into 'Republicans are trying to be bipartisan' mode accusing the Democrats of not working across the table. Dick Durbin succumbed to Senate rules and was granted two minutes to speak until the floor was relinquished back over to the Republicans.

During Senator Durbin's speech, which actually lasted a lot less than the two minutes he was allotted, he countered Senator Kyl's points by referring to a staggering statistic; the Republicans of the US Senate have performed 77 filibusters during the current session. This count breaks the previous record of 58 filibusters previously held by the 1999-2002 Senate terms. Durbin stated, "We are asking to bring it forward for debate. If you have a better idea, put it on the floor and let's vote on it. But for the Republicans to consistently file these filibusters and object to bringing these measures forward to even debate them, and now it is a take it or leave it. The Senator from Arizona has filed, just like the minority leader did yesterday, this political get-well card which says: We will make a unanimous consent request so we are on the record wanting this. Get on the record and vote for bringing it to the floor for debate. Don't be afraid of a debate. Don't be afraid of an amendment. If you have a good idea, put it forward. Let's see if it wins or loses." [Source]

The debate on the current bill, something related to health care and reimbursing doctors for Medicare services, was then pushed under the rug by the next speaker, a Republican from Tennessee. The bottom line is the next time anybody accuses the Democrats of not getting anything done, you can look across the aisle and clearly see why the Senate approval rating is so low.

Published on June 19th at 2:48 PM CT :: 8 Comments

Why Obama Just Won Iowa

The 500 year flood that recently hit Eastern and Central Iowa may alter more than just the countryside of the Hawkeye State. The devastation is likely to send a profound ripple through the country's political landscape and into the upcoming election. With the 2008 presidential race now in full swing both candidates are vying for crucial swing states. Iowa's importance, like its geography will remain a central point of the contest owing to the margin of victory in each of the last two presidential elections (10,059 votes in 2004, 4,144 in 2000).

The affected area is massive but largely decentralized with Governor Culver (D) declaring 83 of Iowa's 99 counties state disaster areas, 42 of these counties have been declared federal disaster areas. People are affected by this event, they are homeless; they are unemployed; they are without basic necessities; they are left with no means of moving forward. The farming year is over; the vast majority of crops have been ruined and there is no hope of salvaging the harvest in most areas. The farmers themselves are covered by the farm bill of 2002 that provides a subsidy in the neighborhood of 70% based on their theoretical yield; but they don't get a free pass as their yield, or lack thereof affects future subsidy awards. But these natural disaster subsidies won't cover the other 79.4% (USDA, 2002) of Iowa's workforce employed by an industry other than farming.

For the vast majority of Iowans affected by the flooding, federal aid will be their only hope. The people of Iowa deserve help just like the people of New Orleans deserved help. The problem however lies in the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) complete inability to provide for citizens in need. Whether FEMA's idiocy was a choice or complete incompetence regarding New Orleans the same results or lack thereof cannot happen in Iowa without dire consequences. If for no other reason the Bush Administration should help Iowans for the political expediency of the Republican Party. Under the current circumstances, if aid is not provided, the political climate in Iowa will shift as troubled residents hold the ruling party responsible for their current situation and defect to the Democratic side. The size of this shift would be difficult to predict, but with the margins of previous elections it's a safe bet that Barack Obama has the state locked up unless the Bush Administration provides an unprecedented amount of aid to the people of Iowa; but based on previous encounters, like their response to Katrina, this preposition seems unlikely and thus I feel confident declaring Barack Obama the winner of Iowa's seven electoral votes.

Update: It also doesn't help that McCain was asked by Governor Culver to cancel his visit to Iowa because it would divert attention away from flood relief. Many of the police officers currently charged with handling the thousands of people displaced by the flooding were placed on security detail for the McCain visit. McCain pledged to help the people of Iowa while those actually helping the people were helping McCain instead.

Published on June 12nd at 4:36 PM CT :: 0 Comments

Hillary's Popular Vote Miscalculation

With news of Hillary's upcoming concession, or something equivalent, I thought I would attempt to dispel her continuing belief that she has won the popular vote. To start off, I'll illustrate the metric she is using and then move into a more thorough calculation. To begin, the table below shows the vote totals for each primary. Each race links to a government or party affiliated election results page that depicts the numbers used in this analysis. There are four races (American Somoa, Kansas, Virgin Islands, Hawaii) in which I could not find a government or party reported page detailing vote totals. For these states I cross checked results on numerous media sites to verify accuracy.

Race Obama Votes Clinton Votes Total Votes Difference (BHO-HRC) Election Date Election Type
New Hampshire 104815 112404 285040 -7589 Jan-8 Primary
Michigan 0 328309 328309 -328309 Jan-15 Primary
South Carolina 294898 140990 532151 153908 Jan-26 Primary
Florida 576214 870986 1749920 -294772 Jan-29 Primary
Alabama 300321 223096 536635 77225 Feb-5 Primary
Alaska 6674 2194 8880 4480 Feb-5 Primary
Arizona 193126 229501 456626 -36375 Feb-5 Primary
Arkansas 82476 220136 314234 -137660 Feb-5 Primary
California 2093318 2524799 4882620 -431481 Feb-5 Primary
Connecticut 179742 165426 355561 14316 Feb-5 Primary
Delaware 50467 39984 96374 10483 Feb-5 Primary
Georgia 704247 330026 1060851 374221 Feb-5 Primary
Illinois 1318234 667930 2038614 650304 Feb-5 Primary
Massachusetts 511680 705185 1263764 -193505 Feb-5 Primary
Missouri 406917 395185 825050 11732 Feb-5 Primary
New Jersey 501372 613500 1141199 -112128 Feb-5 Primary
New Mexico 71396 73105 149779 -1709 Feb-5 Primary
New York 751019 1068496 1862445 -317477 Feb-5 Primary
Oklahoma 130130 228480 414696 -98350 Feb-5 Primary
Tennessee 252874 336245 624764 -83371 Feb-5 Primary
Utah 74538 51333 428459 23205 Feb-5 Primary
Louisiana 220632 136925 384346 83707 Feb-9 Primary
DC 93386 29470 123994 63916 Feb-12 Primary
Maryland 532665 314211 878174 218454 Feb-12 Primary
Virginia 627820 349766 986203 278054 Feb-12 Primary
Wisconsin 646851 453954 1113753 192897 Feb-19 Primary
Ohio 982489 1212362 2233156 -229873 Mar-4 Primary
Rhode Island 75316 108949 186439 -33633 Mar-4 Primary
Texas 1362476 1462734 2874986 -100258 Mar-4 Primary
Vermont 91901 59806 154960 32095 Mar-4 Primary
Mississippi 265502 159221 434110 106281 Mar-11 Primary
Pennsylvania 1046822 1260937 2307759 -214115 Apr-22 Primary
Indiana 632035 646233 1278268 -14198 May-6 Primary
North Carolina 887391 657669 1580726 229722 May-6 Primary
West Virginia 91663 239187 357031 -147524 May-13 Primary
Kentucky 209903 459210 700855 -249307 May-20 Primary
Oregon 372823 258438 636680 114385 May-20 Primary
Puerto Rico 121458 263120 387299 -141662 Jun-1 Primary
Montana 102544 75053 181906 27491 Jun-3 Primary
South Dakota 43576 54015 97591 -10439 Jun-3 Primary
Hillary's Calculation 17011711 17528570 36254207 -516859
+ Uncommited MI for Obama 17249879 17528570 36492375 -278691

Totaling these numbers we are left with what the Clinton campaign is calling a decisive victory despite excluding 16 contests. Also notice that the 'uncommitted' votes from Michigan are not included in Obama's column. The Clinton campaign does not associate the 238,168 votes as Obama's because he electively chose to have his name removed from the ballot. At this juncture Clinton has a clear advantage but if I take into consideration the decision of the Rules and Bylaws Committee (RBC) pertaining to delegate allocation and apply it to raw votes a different result arises. Following their recommendation necessitates halving the votes of Florida and Michigan requiring a recalculation of primary contests.

Race Obama Votes Clinton Votes Total Votes Difference (BHO-HRC) Election Date Election Type
1/2 Votes Michigan 0 164154.5 164154.5 -164154.5 Jan-15 Primary
1/2 Votes Florida 288107 435493 874960 -147386 Jan-29 Primary
RBC Total 16723604 16928922.5 35348137 38612.5

Simply stunning; it appears that using the determination of the RBC gives Barack Obama the popular vote lead among primaries. As a sneak peak I'll just tell you that he accrues a significant lead in the "less important caucuses" ensuring a popular vote victory. At this point I'll digress and move onto the caucus numbers to see if Obama can dent Clinton's rather impressive lead using the full votes from Michigan and Florida.

Race Obama Votes Clinton Votes Total Votes Difference (BHO-HRC) Election Date Election Type
American Somoa 121 163 285 -42 Feb-5 Caucus
Colorado 80113 38839 120971 41274 Feb-5 Caucus
Idaho 16880 3655 21224 13225 Feb-5 Caucus
Kansas 27172 9462 36723 17710 Feb-5 Caucus
Minnesota 142109 68994 214066 73115 Feb-5 Caucus
North Dakota 11625 6948 19012 4677 Feb-5 Caucus
Abroad 15214 7501 23105 7713 Feb-5 Other
Nebraska 46279 43614 93757 2665 Feb-9 Caucus
Virgin Islands 1772 149 1970 1623 Feb-9 Other
Hawaii 28347 8835 37562 19512 Feb-19 Caucus
Wyoming 5378 3311 8753 2067 Mar-8 Caucus
Guam 2264 2257 4521 7 May-3 Caucus
Caucus Total 377274 193728 581949 183546

The caucus results clearly show that Obama excelled in this style of election winning all contests but American Somoa in which only 285 people voted. If we add the result of these caucuses to the primary results we get the values shown below.

Race Obama Votes Clinton Votes Total Votes Difference (BHO-HRC) Election Date Election Type
Hillary's + Caucuses 17388985 17722298 36836156 -333313
+ Uncommited MI for Obama 17627153 17722298 37074324 -95145

Here comes the hard part. At this point Hillary has a commanding lead but the four remaining contests (Iowa, Nevada, Washington, Maine) all of which Obama won, do not report or for that matter record individual votes. All calculations done from this point are estimates, but they attempt to include "the voice of all who voted," a rallying cry for the Clinton campaign in the closing days. This is probably redundant but it needs to be said, Hillary only cares about counting the votes when the votes in question favor her. To estimate the number of votes in each of the remaining four states I will calculate the ratio of votes per delegate using the primary and caucus results in which votes are reported. However, Texas still remains an issue. For this calculation we will assume that everybody who participated in the Texas caucus also participated in the primary. Crunching the numbers shows that 3,170.5 delegates correspond to 37,074,324 reported votes. A division yields 11,693.53 votes per delegate meaning that for every 11,693.53 people that voted for a given candidate, that candidate would be allocated 1 national delegate. Multiplying 11,693.53 by the number of delegates received in each state will yield our estimate; those estimates are shown in the table below. For Iowa the initial delegate allocation will be used because some delegates originally allocated to Edwards moved to Obama after the Edwards endorsement.

Race Obama Votes Clinton Votes Total Votes Difference (BHO-HRC) Election Date Election Type
Iowa 187096 163709 526209 23387 Jan-3 Caucus
Nevada 163709 128629 292338 35081 Jan-19 Caucus
Washington 619757 292338 912095 327419 Feb-9 Caucus
Maine 175403 105242 280645 70161 Feb-10 Caucus
Estimates 1145966 689918 2011287 456048

Obama makes up 450,000 votes in these four elections. Adding these totals to the previous totals we arrive at our results.

Race Obama Votes Clinton Votes Total Votes Difference (BHO-HRC) Election Date Election Type
Total + Estimates 18534951 18412216 38847443 122735
+ Uncommited MI for Obama 18773119 18412216 39085611 360903

The final results show that no matter how Michigan and Florida are counted, just as long as all other contests are counted Obama wins the popular vote. If at this point Clinton still wants to dispute the estimates for the four remaining caucuses she only has razor thin margins to fall back on and any additional estimates will likely reveal identical conclusions; for example conducted a similar analysis and the final results were comparable.

Published on June 5th at 3:40 AM CT :: 0 Comments

Witness to Obama's Historic Speech

The Xcel Energy Center seats around 18,000 when configured for hockey, and doesn't take 3 hours to reach full capacity like it did on this historic night. I drove by the main entrance under a light rain at around noon and observed that roughly 60 people were waiting in line. I returned some four hours later and walked over a mile from my parking spot, an unenforced meter, to the front of the Xcel. From there I followed the line several blocks until I finally reached the end around 4 pm. The doors were scheduled to open at 7 with the speech beginning at 8. For the next two and a half hours I stood in roughly the same position and watched a never ending flow of people walk past searching for the rear of the line. I would later find out just how long the line truly stretched.

When the line began to move at 6:30 progress was slow. The path snaked across streets and up and down sidewalks eventually converging on a fenced off area infront of the main entrances. The crowd was instructed by volunteers to empty their pockets of anything metal to expedite the security process. Upon clearing security the foyer was relatively empty with staff directing everybody to move to the right. There were no seats in this section and the vast majority of people migrated to the opposite side of the center where there were plenty of vacant seats. I was positioned at what would be center ice with a nice frontal view of the podium. At this point it was all about being patient. MSNBC was playing on the large jumbo screen up until the point where Kieth Olbermann announced that Obama was within 9 delegates of securing the nomination. For the next 2 hours people continued to file in as I sat in a news blackout. I had no way of figuring out what was happening in Montana, South Dakota or amongst the Super Delegates because they changed the programming and it was simply too loud to call anybody.

As the time passed I watched the campaign staff distribute American flags and "Change We Can Believe In" signs to those situated directly behind Obama within camera range. The staff led them in a few practice flag waves and called it good. At about 9 o'clock the seating capacity was reached and nearly every general admission seat was filled with the exception of those behind the press tower. At this juncture a staff member held up a hand written sign on what appeared to be a white board with the words "5 min to SPEECH." About 30 seconds later the 5 was replaced by a 2 and in another 30 seconds a professor from the U of MN arrived at the podium to set the stage for Barack Obama.

He walked out of the tunnel to what was described as "Loud Applause and Cheering" by the internal closed captioning on the jumbotron. His speech began. At this point I assume you watched it if you're reading this so I'll skip to the end. Upon conclusion he did a few waves to the crowd and scaled the stairs to do a victory lap around the inside of his podium area shaking hands and smiling. It took around 20 minutes for him to circle the infield and disappear back into the tunnel to a thunderous applause from those who still remained. At this point I left.

Throughout the entire event I probably took around 40 pictures which I'll selectively post in the morning. The final attendance for the event as estimated by the St. Paul Fire Marshall was 17,000 people inside the Xcel Energy Center leaving 15,000 outside to watch the event on the enormous monitor on the exterior of the buidling. The police blocked off what appeared to be a 1 or 2 mile radius around the building to accommodate those who did not make it inside the doors.

Enormous Crowd Watches Obama Speak Close up of Obama The Press Tower
Crowd Again and the Other Press Tower Keith Tells Us About the 9 Delegates Contact With Outside World Ends
The CHANGE Sign Thank You, Minnesota TV the 15,000 People Outside Watched

Published on June 4th at 1:48 AM CT :: 0 Comments

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