Thursday, November 30, 2006

Mel Martinez Gets the Thumbs-up From FL Peer Review

Read Mr. G's post on his lunch with Mel - here.

Seantor Mel Martinez was back home in Orlando today and I had the opportunity to hear him speak at a luncheon this afternoon. Everyone I spoke to, regardless of political persuasion, was impressed. I really think he will serve us well as the RNC General Chair.

Re-read my post on Mel's nomination to lead the RNC - here.

Is Talking to Terrorists the Right Path?

Just a few days ago we posted comments by Newt Gingrich in which he outlined 11 key questions that that should be posed when assessing the Baker Commission report. One could argue that the most important of these questions focused on Iran, and whether or not the U.S. should enter talks with them.

Well, it appears that that is exactly what the Baker Commission will suggest.

NR's Andrew McCarthy tries to make sense of it:

Let’s talk with our enemies, Iran and Syria. Let’s talk with terror abettors as if they were good guys — just like us. As if they were just concerned neighbors trying to stop the bloodshed in Iraq … instead of the dons who’ve been commanding it all along.

Someone, please explain something to me: How does it follow that, because Islamic cultures reject democracy, we somehow need to talk to Iran and Syria?

What earthly logic that supports talking with these Islamic terrorists would not also support negotiating with al Qaeda — a demarche not even a Kennedy School grad would dare propose?

There’s none.

When I grew up in The Bronx, there were street gangs. You mostly stayed away from them, and, if you really had to, you fought with them. But I never remember anyone saying, “Gee, maybe if we just talk with them ...”

Nor do I remember, in two decades as a prosecutor, anyone saying, “Y’know, maybe if we just talk with these Mafia guys, we could achieve some kind of understanding ...”

Sitting down with evil legitimizes evil. As a practical matter, all it accomplishes is to convey weakness. This spring — after trumpeting the Bush Doctrine’s “you’re with us or you’re with the terrorists” slogan for five years — Secretary of State Rice pathetically sought to bribe Iran out of its nuclear program with a menu of all carrots and no sticks … and certainly no demand that the mullahs stop fomenting terror. The result? They’re still laughing at us, even as they build their bombs, harbor al Qaeda operatives, and arm the militias killing American soldiers in Iraq. (read the rest)

Hopefully Bill Kristol was right this morning on FoxNews when he said that during the his trip to the Middle East this week, the President has appeared to have taken back the initiative and leadership on Iraq.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

FL-13 Dispute Becomes Political Theater

Complete with actors, prepared scripts, and a set; a team of 10 state employees will spend 12 hours today recreating election day.

A random sample of five electronic voting machines will serve as the props in this day-long drama. The goal of this community theater is to determine if, in fact, the machines or their software are flawed, or if voters either willingly or unintentionally skipped the Congressional race on their ballots. (from SP Times)

State officials have lavished painstaking detail on today's audit: Each of the five machines being tested has its own script, which, like a screenplay adaptation of a book, was written based on actual voting data. A team of 10 state employees will "vote" from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., just like on Election Day.
The Jennings camp has - predictably - launched a preemptive attack on the process by targeting the fact that it's being conducted by state officials.

"It's like having Ford employees doing all the test driving of the Taurus to see what went wrong," said Jennings' attorney, Kendall Coffey, of the state's plans to have its employees conduct the mock voting.

Because the state approved the type of equipment used in the election, it has an interest in seeing the audit reveal no unusual problems, Coffey said.

In a related story, the Orlando Sentinel reports that Katherine Harris, the previous occupant of the District 13 seat - is staying out of the fight. Though they point out that she has not answered calls from the AP, they do quote Harris from 2001:
"Now we're the national model instead of the national concern. There'll never be a hanging, dangling or pregnant chad again," Harris said in 2001.
Well, she was right - there are no chads.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Gingrich: Post-Saddam Campaign Has Failed

Appearing on Hannity & Colmes, Newt Gingrich said that the current campaign in the Iraq war is failing. Rather than advocating - like most that are commenting on the war - an exit strategy, Gingrich instead would like to see the development of a 3rd campaign.

Writing today on Human Events Online, Gingrich expressed skepticism over the Baker-Hamilton Commission:

Will the Baker-Hamilton Commission make a real contribution in helping us win the war against the Fanatic wing of Islam? Or will it be simply one more establishment effort to hide defeat so the American political system can resume its comfortable insider games without having to solve real problems in the larger world?

Gingrich offered 11 key questions that must be asked when assessing any Baker-Hamilton Report:
    1. Does the Commission Have a Vision for Success in the Larger War
      Against the Dictatorships and Fanatics Who Want to Destroy Us?
    2. Does the Commission Recognize That the Second Campaign in Iraq Has Been a Failure?
    3. Does the Commission Recognize the Scale of Change We Will Need to Adopt to Be Effective in a World of Enemies Willing to Kill Themselves in Order to Kill Us?
    4. Does the Commission Describe the Consequences of Defeat in Iraq?
    5. Does the Commission Understand the Importance of Victory?
    6. Does the Commission Define What It Means to Win, or Simply Find a Face-Saving Way to Lose?
    7. Does the Commission Acknowledge That Winning Requires Thinking Regionally and Even Globally?
    8. Any Proposal to Ask Iran and Syria to Help Is a Sign of Defeat. Does the Commission Suggest This?
    9. Does the Commission Believe We Can 'Do a Deal' With Iran?
    10. Does the Commission Believe We Are More Clever Than Our Enemies?
    11. Does the Commission Recognize the Importance of Working With the Democratic Majorities on a Strategy for Victory?
Newt expounds on each of these questions and offers advice/warnings about potential answers.

A Worthy Cause: Help Fight Brain Tumors

If you've been reading the Sentinel regularly, you know that I do not often solicit your financial support, including for the operation of this blog. However, I have been introduced to a project that I know is worthy of your support.

Brian "Brain" Kissinger is the husband of a high school friend of mine. Below is a bit of his bio from his website:
Brian enlisted in the Florida Air National Guard at 18 as a heavy equipment operator while attending the University of Florida. He married Priscilla Hettler and they later had their first daughter. In 1990 he graduated first in his Air Force ROTC class and their young family moved to Mather Air Force Base where he attended Air Force Navigator training. After earning his wings, he served in a variety of Special Operations assignments flying MC-130 E & H models around the world. After his initial 8-year active duty term he transitioned into the Air Force Reserves and was later mobilized after the events of 9-11. He served in Tajikistan and other locations
overseas and stateside.

In 2003, while still on active duty at Scott Air Force Base, he was diagnosed with a stage II oligodendroglioma brain tumor and was medically retired in early 2005. He currently works for General Electric Healthcare.

Brian’s first solo was at the age of 19 in Gainesville, Florida where he washed and waxed airplanes in exchange for flight time. After leaving the active duty Air Force in 1998 he was able to save enough money to buy his first airplane, a 1946 Luscombe, and earned his commercial and certificated flight instructor ratings (single & multi-engine and instrument). Since then he has bought and sold a variety of airplanes and enjoyed every minute of being in the air and tinkering with airplanes.

Building and flying an airplane to raise money for brain tumor research is a natural extension of Brian’s love and fascination of aviation. It is also a great way to celebrate life, allowing him to define the disease instead of the other way around.

Brian’s lifetime goal is to raise over $1 million for brain tumor research and education. In 2004 he and his team raised more than $2,500 running the Air Force marathon. Please read the article from Airman Magazine:

As with all veterans, Brian deserves our heartfelt gratitude. As a veteran and brain cancer survivor - one that has dedicated himself to helping others - he deserves our support.

As you can see at his website, Brian is restoring a WWII aircraft and will pilot it across the U.S. to raise money for brain cancer research.

Please make an effort to contribute what you can. Email this post to everyone that you know. We all know someone that has been touched by cancer. This is an opportunity to fight back.

Please do what you can. Donations can be made at his National Brain Tumor Foundation website - click here.

Message to FL Republicans: Start acting like winners!

Florida Republicans seem to be confused. Not long after I praised Speaker Rubio for his "100 Ideas" approach to the coming Legislative session, Republicans are sounding like a defeated lot.

Sarasota Herald-Tribune
"The inability of our political process to confront and solve the issue of our days is an emerging crisis," said House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-West Miami, "a crisis that leaves us on the brink of a tragic and dubious distinction -- the first generation of Americans who may not leave for their children a life better than their own."

"Floridians are tired of partisanship and political infighting," said Senate President Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie. "We must pull together or we will certainly fall apart."

"Let's face it, Jeb had a fairly dictatorial approach. It was his way or no way," said King, whom Bush endorsed over an anti-abortion candidate in a GOP primary this year. King said the resulting battles left lawmakers looking "more like spoiled, petulant children than we do statesmen."

"We need to emphasize that part of our history which has been about problem-solving and get away from that part of our history that has been about division and rhetoric," said Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton.
While Congressional Republicans took a beating at the polls earlier this month, the state party lost only seven seats in the State House. They still hold 79-41 advantage. While they did lose one cabinet seat, Republicans still hold all of the others. Charlie Crist won the governor's race by a comfortable margin. All this in a year that the trend in rest of the country was almost completely in favor of Democrats.

Most alarming about this defeatist attitude among State Republicans is the belief that they have to scramble to the middle, abandoning the conservative ground on which most of them have stood since taking complete control of the state in 1996.
Sarasota Herald-Tribune
"That's the major thing I think Republicans are looking at," King said. "If we turn ourselves down a notch or two, we can take full command of the middle, and when you do that, there's no place for the Democrats to go."
Republicans, led by Jeb Bush for the past 8 years, have been able to accomplish much during their time in power. Public schools are now being held accountable for the work they are doing. The Florida economy is among the strongest nationwide. Overall, the past 8 years have been enormously productive.

This does not mean that there's not still work to do. Education reform needs to continue, with tinkering to the FCAT, improving teacher compensation, and expanded choice topping the list. Property taxes and insurance need to be addressed and fixed right away. But none of these things will be properly handled if Republicans are more concerned with looking and acting like Democrats.

Congressional Republicans put themselves in the position their in, not because they moved further to the right, but by moving away from their conservative roots. Florida Republicans should learn from these mistakes, rather than repeating them here in Florida.

Hopefully Speaker Rubio will follow through with the "100 Ideas" initiative that he has begun. The people of Florida have elected conservatives overwhelmingly for the last 12 years. They deserve conservative leadership.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Shining the Light on NY Times Leaking Case

See Michelle Malkin's post on the NY Times terror leak case. The failure of the Times to cooperate with Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald in identifying the source of leaks to terror-aiding groups must be kept front and center. Malkin's post will clear-up any questions you may have - as it did for me.

Follow the link to Hot Air and see video of her appearance on O'Reilly.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Making Our Job Easier - Just Let Them Talk

I had not planned on posting anymore today. However, I came across this on Hot Air (hat tip) and could not resist.

As I am getting ready to wrap-up this Thanksgiving Day, having spent the day amongst family - many that I don't see very often - I find it unfathomable how someone can muster-up such hate. You will find it as ironic as I when you read the references to bigotry, racism, and hate.

Arianna ought to be ashamed of herself for allowing this to be posted on her site.

Of all the negative references you have read here directed at Pelosi, Murtha, and the rest; it would never have occurred to me to pray for their death. Just sick.

Just go and see it here.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from The Sentry. God Bless.

"Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
Philippians 4:6

"I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Thanksgiving is a typically American holiday...The lavish meal is a symbol of the fact that abundant consumption is the result and reward of production."
Ayn Rand

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Miracle of Life or Unviable Tissue?

Huge hat tip to PEER Review FL.

Mr. G at PEER Review FL has posted a ringing indictment of the pro-abort movement. Based on photos from an upcoming Discovery Channel program, it is a celebration of life at its most unbelievable level. And they're not even human.

Go to the Daily Mail for more.

Newspapers Split Over FL-13 Debacle

Florida editorial boards are beginning to weigh-in with their opinions on how Christine Jennings should handle the outcome of the election and recount. If you've been following the coverage of the FL-13 race, you know the basics. We won't rehash it now.

Yesterday, the Sentinel offered our opinion to Jennings - concede in the interest of the citizens of District 13. Here is what editorial boards are saying:

Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Jennings Should Not Concede

Now is no time for Christine Jennings to concede the District 13 congressional election. Concession as well as victory speeches should be shelved until experts can determine whether Sarasota County's touch-screen voting machines worked properly.

Without that assurance, there is too much room for doubt about the true outcome of this close race.

Neither Buchanan nor Jennings should wish to serve in Congress under such a cloud. They and the voters would be better off waiting for a fact-finding mission to bolster the credibility of the election results.

Auditors, scheduled to begin their work next Tuesday, need a chance to examine the evidence. The election cannot be truly settled until fears of major irregularities have been ruled out.

Tampa Trib: Jennings Wants To Count Until She Wins
Christine Jennings lost the race to replace U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris in Congress by fewer than 400 votes. Machine and manual recounts affirmed the margin, yet Jennings filed a lawsuit Monday seeking a new election.

Jennings' race against Republican Vern Buchanan was among the most vicious in the recent election - Jennings and her "dangerous ideas," Buchanan and his shady past.

On Election Day, some 18,000 Sarasota voters skipped making a choice in the race. Since then we've heard about "irregularities," problems with electronic voting machines and complaints about ballot design. But as far as we know, no one has offered proof that the election was fixed or otherwise manipulated.

Yet Jennings wants another vote. What then? What if only one-fourth of the voters who went to the polls Nov. 7 show up and Jennings wins? What does she say to the Buchanan voters she disenfranchised from the first race? How can Jennings divine the reason voters skipped her race? She cannot.

Jennings should take a cue from George Allen and Conrad Burns, U.S. senators who lost close re-election campaigns. Both are bowing out gracefully. So should she.

Bradenton Herald: Give It Up - Jennings should concede race to Buchanan

Republican Vern Buchanan has been officially certified as the winner of the District 13 congressional race. The state Elections Canvassing Commission said Monday that Buchanan won by 369 votes over Democrat Christine Jennings.

And that should settle what was one of the most bitterly-fought and closest election battles in memory, with Buchanan's fractional margin out of more than 237,000 votes cast once again emphasizing the importance of citizens exercising their right and privilege to vote.

But the lawsuit is likely to have the opposite effect. The more the Jennings camp - aided by out-of-state advocates for the Democratic Party and other special interests - casts doubts on the election process, the less likely voters are to believe in and participate in that process. This will do a far greater disservice to democracy than one disputed race in one election cycle.

We understand and appreciate Jennings' disappointment at losing by such a close margin, especially with some voters' accounts of difficulty dealing with the new touch-screen technology. But the election is over; a winner has been certified. It's time to move on.

We will update as more newspapers add their voice.

Must See Video: The Rosa Parks Defense?

Hat tip to Allah at Hot Air

MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer offers CAIR's Ibrahim Hooper a defense strategy for the Imams that were removed from a US Airways flight earlier this week- the Rosa Parks defense.

Robert Spencer, in FrontPage magazine, explains why this comparison is rediculous.

. . . Imam Omar Shahin was involved with the Islamic charity Kind Hearts, which has had its assets frozen by the U. S. Treasury Department because of its connections to the terrorist group Hamas. And according to a September 2001 story in the Arizona Republic, Shahin “said members of the Tucson mosque may have helped bin Laden in the early 1990s.”

None of these questions about Shahin surfaced in the mainstream media. Instead, MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer compared the imams to Rosa Parks, offering a grateful Ibrahim Hooper a “defense that could be used for these imams”: the possibility that in refusing to get off the plane, as some unconfirmed reports held, the imams were engaged in an act of civil disobedience.

But Rosa Parks did not have ties to terrorist organizations. In light of repeated targeting of aircraft by Islamic jihadists operating by their own account out of their sense of duty as Muslims, discrimination against American blacks is hardly comparable to the scrutiny of Muslims in airports that CAIR is almost certain to try to stop by means of this case. But the apology that is likely to come from US Airways will set a precedent that ostentatious and even suspicious behavior by Muslims is not to be questioned, in the name of avoiding discrimination. What can that do but
embolden Islamic jihadists?

If America is to survive, it is eventually going to have to choose national security over political correctness. Shahin has complained that he was “humiliated” and that the way the imams were treated was “terrible.” Indeed. It is terrible. It is terrible that he and the other imams who were taken off the plane, as well as other Islamic leaders in America, have allowed those who commit violence in the name of their religion to do so unimpeded and unchallenged. It is terrible that these and other Islamic scholars have responded only with vilification when asked about the teachings of their faith that promote violence, instead of with honest dialogue and attempts to reform those teachings. It is terrible that, if they were indeed removed from the plane for praying, they are among those who have allowed their religion to become so associated with violence that American citizens on an airplane become alarmed at the sight of Islamic prayer.

In a sane world, officials would tell the imams that if they’re upset about being taken off the plane, they should redouble their anti-terror efforts in the Muslim community in the U.S. – which are sorely deficient in any case. They would ascribe their inconveniencing to the sacrifices that are incumbent upon all of us during wartime. But instead, they are compared to Rosa Parks, and it is likely that their canonization is just beginning.

Osama bin Laden, who predicted after 9/11 that soon many more planes would be falling out of the skies, is no doubt enjoying the spectacle.

Read the entire analysis here.

Bonus Video: Tucker takes on CAIR official.

A timely issue amidst the busiest travel weekend of the year.

What is "My most embarrassing moment"

I know it's been blogged by HotAir (w/ video), and Malkin, and many others, I'm sure. But I just can't resist.

from HotAir:

What’s more embarrassing than being Secretary of Education and having your ass handed to you on Celebrity Jeopardy? Being Secretary of Education and having your ass handed to you on Celebrity Jeopardy by Lenny from “Laverne & Shirley.”

She was more than twenty thousand dollars behind at the start of Final Jeopardy.

Allah is, of course, writing about the appearance by Margaret Spellings, U.S. Secretary of Education, on Celebrity Jeopardy.

Gingrich Sets the Record Straight

I understand, sort of - it's hard for Washington reporters to understand the concept of ideas outside the context of a political campaign. Nina Easton, Fortune's Washington bureau chief, sat down with Newt Gingrich for an interview set to appear in the next issue of Fortune magazine.

On the question of whether or not Newt was running for president in 2008, he responds:

"I'm going to tell you something, and whether or not it's plausible given the world you come out of is your problem," he tells Fortune. "I am not 'running' for president. I am seeking to create a movement to win the future by offering a series of solutions so compelling that if the American people say I have to be president, it will happen."
This has always been the problem reporters have had with Gingrich. While he can run with the best of them - remember the Republican Revolution of 1994 - he is at his best when trying to articulate his vision and direction for America.

Traditionally, candidates announce that they are running, or exploring a run, for the White House before building up a platform of ideas tailored for 30 second TV spots. Newt explains the difference between himself and the others:
"Nice people," Gingrich says of his GOP competitors. "But we're not in the same business. They're running for president. I'm running to change the country."
It is exactly that approach that has been missing in the Republican Party over the last several years.

Gingrich is set to launch "American Solutions for Winning the Future" in December. Expect it to be a new Contract on a grand scale. While Gingrich can certainly envision the Presidency as part of this grand initiative, it's the ideas that matter most:
"There are 3,300 counties, 17,000 elected school boards, 60,000 cities and towns, 14,000 state legislators, 50 governors and 535 elected federal legislators," Gingrich says. "My hope is to create a wave that sweeps through that entire system, and in a context that obviously includes the presidency." Even if he's not the nominee, Gingrich says, he plans to throw the weight of what he's built behind a "winning-the-future presidential candidate."
Gingrich envisions the possibility of his movement sweeping through the country much like a set of ideas articulated by Lincoln in 1860:
"He turns it into a 7,300-word speech - gives it once in New York, once in Rhode Island, once in Massachusetts, once in New Hampshire. Then he goes home. I was struck by the sheer courage of the self-definitional moment that said, 'We are in real trouble, we need real leadership, and if that's who you think we need, here's my speech'."
Easton ends her article with this comment from Dick Armey - and who would know better:
"He's never been a parochial member of Congress. He has big ideas, and has had them for a long time. He's not going to appear to have just discovered them for the purposes of an election. And that's a good place to be for an '08 candidate."
Don't be surprised if a Draft Newt movement begins early next year. And don't surprised if the Sentinel is right in the middle of it.

If you want an idea of what might be part of Gingrich's grand initiative, read (if you haven't already) his "Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Got Money to Throw Away? Hillary Can Help

While there were many very close races around the country this year, the race for the U.S. Senate seat in NY was not one of them. Hillary Clinton won in a landslide, receiving 67 percent of cast votes. So why did it cost so much to win such an easy race?

NewsMax is reporting that Hillary shelled-out $36 million, more than any other Senate candidate in the country. Now, some her supporters are questioning her spending practices.

The Democratic Daily, a liberal Web site, said Clinton was guilty of "blowing a shameful $36 million" on a campaign she was never in doubt of winning.

So where did all of it go? Here are some examples: (NY Times)
  • $13,000 spent on flowers, mostly for events and donor thank you gifts

  • $27,000 on valet parking

  • $17 million advertising and fund-raising mailings

  • $51,000 for professional photography

  • $160,000 for private jet travel in 2006

  • $746,450 for catering and entertaining

And don't forget about spreading the wealth:

  • Mark Penn, Clinton's pollster, received at least $1.1 million

  • Mandy Grunwald, communications advisor, $930,000
So where does this leave Hillary as she considers a run for the White House? As of the October reporting period, she had just under $14 million on-hand. She is now at the level of her potential primary opponents.

This extravagant spending could end up costing Hillary as some donors are expressing concern.

“We’re not in this business to make consultants rich,” said one fund-raiser for Mrs. Clinton who was granted anonymity in order to speak freely about the direction of the campaign.

“The wasting of money — it drives everybody crazy,” the fund-raiser said. “She’d better get a handle on this if she is going to run for president.”

Beyond the level of spending, there is also some concern within the Clinton camp about the adequacy of the controls on what is being spent.

Just think of the fun Hillary could have with the federal budget at her disposel. We'll just wait and see what the fallout will be.

Rep. Ric Keller to Seek Re-election - The Folly of Term Limits

The AP is reporting this evening that Republican Congressman Ric Keller of Orlando has announced that he will seek election to an 5th term in 2008, despite his pledge to limit himself to 8 years.

Keller explained that he has recognized during his time in Congress that there is value in experience:

"As a rookie candidate, I underestimated the value of experience and seniority. I will not spend my entire career in Congress, but I will seek re-election in 2008," he said in a written statement. "There is unfinished business."

This will certainly provide grist for the Democratic mill during the 2008 campaign. Keller's announcement highlights the folly in signing pledges like the term limits pledge. During a Congressional campaign, candidates - especially newcomers to the process - are bombarded with pledges like this and, in an effort to secure "free media," often fall into the trap of making meaningless commitments.

The groups that circulate these petitions know the position that many of these challengers are in - short on cash and desperate for positive press.

It remains to be seen how this will effect Keller's re-election, but it should serve as a warning to new candidates - think carefully before you sign.

Lebanese Leader Gunned Down

See update below.

Anti-Syrian politician Pierre Gemayel was gunned down today just outside Beirut. In the fifth killing of an anti-Syrian leader since the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on February 14, 2005, Gemayel death is understandably being blamed on pro-Syrian faction in Lebanon. U.S. Ambassador John Bolton his hinting toward Syrian involvement.

For its part, Syria is condemning the assassination calling it "despicable crime aims to destroy stability and peace in Lebanon."

Talk about bad timing. Gemayel's assassination comes just a day after Iraq restored diplomatic relations with Syria. How accusations of Syrian involvement will impact the turmoil in Iraq is unknown. The U.S. remains wary about the Syrian-Iraq rapprochement.

Update: I have not heard this yet in the MSM, but Allah of HotAir and Anton Enfeni of Across the Bay are reporting of a concerted plot by Syria to tip the balance of power in Lebanon in favor of pro-Syrian politicians, disrupting the Lebanese government from declaring its support for a tribunal to investigate PM Rafik Hariri.

Apparently there was a second attack today targeting the office of Michel Pharaon, minister of parliamentary affairs. Pharaon is a Greek-Catholic that is aligned with the anti-Syrian parliamentary bloc.

Will update as available.

FL-13: Are the people being served?

For the last two weeks, while the incoming freshmen of both parties were in Washington setting up their staffs and offices, Vern Buchanan has been distracted by the recount that delayed the calling of his race.

To date, the Sentinel has refrained from criticizing election officials or Democrat Christine Jennings. However, at this point I must agree with Buchanan that the race has been certified and he is the winner. While I agree that a re-evaluation of voting procedures is in order, I don't believe that the best interest of the people of the 13th district is being served by prolonging this process.

(Sarasota Herald-Tribune) "I need to be putting together a staff," Buchanan, 54, said during his first sit-down interview since election night. "My energy should be spent on the transition, not on having to look over my shoulder."

Earlier on Monday, the distraction was clear when he held a press conference with a decidedly campaign-like feel calling on Jennings to concede the 13th Congressional
District race. Not far from the podium stood Buchanan's campaign manager, his
Tennessee-based campaign consultant and a campaign spokesman.

"I am calling on Christine Jennings to stop listening to the high-paid lawyers and special interest groups who have hijacked this process to advance their own agenda -and to listen to the people," Buchanan said. "The people have spoken and I have
won this election."

Christine Jennings should stand-down and beginning preparing for - what I certain will materialize - a rerun in two years.

Have the Dems Lost Their Way, Already?

Perhaps it's too early to sign the death certificate for the Democratic Congress that has not even been sworn in yet, but one can't ignore the early stumbling of the party leadership.

Over the next few months, comparisons are sure to take place - they certainly will here - between the Republican Revolution of 1994 and the current Democratic take-over.

We can all fondly remember 1994 and 1995 when the GOP swept into power on the strength of the Contract with America. Behind the leadership of Newt Gingrich, the Republicans promised to bring all of the issues listed in the Contract to the House floor within the first 100 days of the 104th Congress. While not all underwent a final vote within those 100 days, debate did begin on each of the Contract points. Boy, how far we've come (I'm talking about the Republicans here).

Now let's take a look at the first days following the Dems impressive victory at the polls. As expected, divisions are already evident between the leadership - headed by ultra-liberal Nancy Pelosi and her band of liberal House veterans - and the rank-and-file, many that were elected as moderates or conservatives.

(from St. Pete Times) Last week, when the emancipated Democrats should have been celebrating the ascension of the first female speaker of the House, their leaders were caught in bitter, public fight over the No. 2 spot, pitting moderates against liberals.

(on Rangel) Just two weeks after winning control of Congress, the party's message of helping the middle class and restoring accountability has been obscured by infighting and, this weekend, statements by Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., incoming chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, that he aims to restore the draft.

At a news conference Monday, Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Majority Leader-elect Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said they don't support the draft and won't hold a vote. The Pentagon, President Bush and Senate leaders also oppose it, so the chances of it happening are nil.

Pelosi explained that Rangel "has long held this position" and "it's not about a draft. It's about shared sacrifice in our country."

(on leader race) Rangel's comments came a few days after Pelosi tried to use her clout to get Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a war opponent, elected as her majority leader, the No. 2 position. Hoyer, a moderate, won in a battle that pitted liberals against moderates. That, rather than Pelosi's nomination as the first female House speaker, dominated the news.

Soon, Pelosi also must resolve who becomes head of the House Intelligence Committee. The senior Democrat, Rep. Alcee Hastings of Miramar, has the support of the Congressional Black Caucus; moderates oppose him because of his rocky tenure as a federal judge in the 1980s.

OK, so the SP Times isn't that clear - that should read Alcee Hastings, unindicted co-conspirator, that was impeached and removed from the bench. Pelosi and others Dem leaders - those that now support his bid to control Ways and Means - voted to remove Hastings. (Good job Allah)

(back to SP Times) Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Monticello, who heads a group of conservatives called the Blue Dogs, said House leaders should focus on the agenda they vow to address when Democrats officially gain control in January, including cutting interest rates for college loans and allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices.

Boyd, a volunteer infantryman in Vietnam, opposes the draft.

"I think we've got enough problems to work on without having that debate at this point in time," he said.

With all the dissension already at work within their party, Dems may allow Republicans to focus on getting back on course while they destroy themselves from within. One can only hope.

Monday, November 20, 2006

FL-13: Dem. Jennings Calling for a New Election

Last week's recount ended with Vern Buchanan leading Christine Jennings by 369 votes. This morning - immediately following certification by the Florida Election Canvassing Board - Jennings filed an official challenge of the results. She is requesting a new election based on evidence that the electronic voting system in Sarasota County was flawed.

Jennings was joined in her protest by several voter advocacy groups that have been in Sarasota for nearly a week.

(Sarasota Herald-Tribune) Three advocacy groups held a news conference before the commission meeting to discuss their independent investigations of the 13th District vote. They said the issues go beyond a ballot design that may have caused voters to skip the race because it was not on the same page as the Senate contest.

"There were an even greater number of reports of funny business with the machines not accepting the voters' press or interface with the touch screen," said Dan McCrea of Voter Action, a Berkeley, Calif.-based group.

He said the complaints crossed party lines.

"People are saying, 'I didn't see it at first then I saw strange messages,'" said Reginald Mitchell, Florida legal counsel for People for the American Way Foundation.

The state is conducting an audit of the Sarasota voting machines separate from the recount and legal challenge.

It will include a Nov. 28 test of machines prepared for but not used in the
election that will mimic the election. The machines that were used cannot be
accessed until the challenge period ends 10 days from Monday, Cobb said.

Common Cause's Florida chairman, Walter Dartland, said the only way to
resolve the problems may be to hold a new election.

It looks like we could be at this for a while.

Shifting Hispanic Population in FL a Challenge for GOP

The St. Pete Times, on Sunday, reported on the problems that FL Hispanics presented for Republicans in this year's election. Historically, Florida's Hispanic population was largely Cuban. A shift has taken place of the last several years, with many non-Cuban Hispanics moving into the state. From Puerto Ricans in Orlando, to Central and South Americans in South Florida, to Mexicans throughout the state, the complexion of the Hispanic population in Florida has become far more diverse.

Does this mean that the level of support that Republicans have traditionally enjoyed in the state will decrease permanently? The answer is, not necessarily. What's needed is a complete re-evaluation of the Hispanic population by the Republican Party.

While many conservative bloggers (here) have expressed dismay over the selection of Mel Martinez to lead the RNC, perhaps this an area where Martinez can leave his mark. As a Cuban-American from the Orlando area, Martinez should appeal to Cubans nationwide and to the sizable Puerto Rican community in Central Florida. This will not be easy - immigration will be a major challenge - but the GOP cannot afford to abandon Florida's Hispanics and forfeit these (each is separate) huge voting blocs.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Must See: Malkin Goes after "Slimy MSNBC Host"

A week or so ago, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann blamed three female conservative commentators for the action of Chad Conrad Castagana, a "right-wing" wacko that sent threatening letters to various individuals, including Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and others. Olbermann targeted Michelle Malkin, Laura Ingraham, and Ann Coulter for inciting people like Mr. Castagana.

Now, Michelle Malkin is firing back. She has devoted the latest edition of Vent to shooting down (please don't take that out of context) Olbermann's assertions. This is definitely must see TV.

See Vent here.

Here we go already.....Rangel and the draft

I bet you thought they'd actually take their chairmen seats before proposing their nut-ball bills. Not so. Charlie Rangel, incoming chairman of Ways and Means, said on Face the Nation that he plans to introduce legislation to reinstate conscription. While saying his bill is intended to bolster current troop levels. However, out the other side of his mouth he betrays his true intentions:

(AP-via "There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm's way," said Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y.
Rangel appeared this morning with Republican Lindsey Graham of SC, who dismissed Rangel's assertion that only from the lower socioeconomic levels serve.

Graham said he believes the all-voluntary military "represents the country pretty well in terms of ethnic makeup, economic background."
This is not the first time Rangel has proposed bring back the draft. See what he was doing in 2004, 2003, and 2002. (there are others)

Here are some excerpts from a 2003 address at the Harvard Kennedy School:

Americans "must think seriously" about "who will be doing the fighting and who will be doing the dying" if the United States goes to war in Iraq. "I don't think we want to believe that this is the kind of country where we take those who need the money to fight the wars, and others don't have any sacrifices to make," he said.

John Kerry has been taking much deserved heat for his comments about those serving. This is what Rangel has to say:

"Am I raising the class issue? You bet your life I am. Am I saying that the affluent and those that are hooked up politically are excluded from serving? You bet your life. When the incentives are to pay people to join the military, people who don't find better opportunities join the military," he said.

Here's a little more:

"I often speak with supporters of the war and I ask them the question: Would your enthusiasm about this pre-emptive strike against Iraq be the same if it was your kid that was being placed in harm's way, or if it was your grandchild that you're talking about?"

See video from this morning and commentary at HotAir.

Sunday News Show Wrap-up

Updates as I get them.

Fox News Sunday:
John Kerry: It was the Republican Attack Machine

  • Well, it looks like the vast right-wing conspiracy is back at it again. As he tried to deflect questions about his pre-election gaff, Chris Wallace did not allow John Kerry to weasel his way out of addressing the scandal. Continuing to avoid taking responsibilty for what he said, Kerry blamed the "Republican attach machine" for the problems that have dogged him over the weeks since he made his "botched joke" statement about the education level of our troops in Iraq. See video at HotAir.
Newt Gingrich puts-off presidential run talk
  • Newt Gingrich confirms that he'll make no decision on a run for the presidency until September. Gingrich said that he will instead focus on his current policy development initiatives. (Sentinel Note: He scheduled to speak in New Hampshire on November 27 and December 15.)
  • On the question about the wisdom of the GOP House leadership elections, Gingrich suggest reserving judgement. He points out that Boehner was an active member of the 1994 group that engineered the Republican Revolution, and also reminds that he had held the majority leader post for only the last few months.

Face the Nation

  • Charlie Rangel intends to introduce legislation to reinstate the draft. He gets his own post. See video here.
  • Republican Lindsey Graham (SC) disagrees.

Meet the Press

  • Freshmen Democratic Senators Jim Webb (VA) and Jon Tester (MO) discuss the economy and Iraq. No big news.

This Week w/ George Stephanopoulos (see video here)

  • McCain talks about his positions on gay marriage and abortion. On gay marriage, McCain says he supports laws which outlaw gay marriage. Though he maintains that we should protect the civil rights of all Americans, he feels that specific legislation for homosexuals is unnecessary. He believes that the "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the military is working.
  • On abortion, he supports the repeal of Roe v. Wade. Calling himself a Federalist, he believes the issue should be left up to the states.
  • On Iraq, McCain believes that the failure to adhere, from the beginning, to the "Powell Doctrine" has led to the current problems.
  • McCain stands by his call for more troops in Iraq, saying to do otherwise is "immoral."
  • Though he voted twice against the Bush tax cuts, he now says that he supports extending them. To do otherwise, McCain says would amount to voting for a tax increase. Sees no inconsistency his his position.

Check back for updates.

Election Post-mortem: Newt's 4 Cs and Armey's "Dead Skunk"

Newt's 4 "Cs"
If you been keeping up with the Sentinel, then you know that I've advocated for the return of Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey to the intellectual head of the Republican Party. A few days after the election, Newt spoke to the Alabama Policy Institute and offered, not only his analysis of the 2006 election, but also a "way forward."

Newt outlines the 4 "Cs" of the Republican debacle: Competence, Candor, Corruption, and Consultants. See the video here.

Important: You'll also want to see Newt's Open Memo to House Republicans, in which he enumerates the questions and principles that must be addressed if we are to return the majority.

Also, see CNSNews story - Gingriach Says Historic Challange Face Americans - on Newt's address to GOPAC

By the way, Newt will appear on Fox News Sunday - following John Kerry. It should be instructive.

Pre-order for Newt's new book - The Art of Transformation - is now available.

Armey's "Dead Skunk"
On the same day that Newt spoke in Alabama - Nov. 9th - Dick Armey offered his post-mortem in the WSJ and declared the end of the Republican Revolution of 1984.

If there was still any doubt, the Republican Revolution of 1994 officially ended Tuesday night with the loss of at least 28 seats and majority control of the House of Representatives. As I write this, the race in Virginia that will determine if the Republicans also lose control of the Senate is too close to call, but leaning Democrat.

It was a rout.

How did we get here? The war in Iraq and historical voting patterns that favor the opposition party in off-year elections are factors suggested by many post-election pundits. Certainly, the mounting problems in Iraq were on voters' minds, but
responsibility for the conduct of the war lies with the executive branch, and
President Bush was not on the ballot.

That said, this was a national election, driven by national issues. One big issue in exit polls suggests widespread voter backlash against the "culture of corruption." There is something to this, I think. Over time, too many Republicans in the governing majority forgot or abandoned their national vision, letting parochial interests dominate the decision-making process.

In laying out a simple prescription for recovery, Armey cautioned Republicans - "don't go back and check on a dead skunk.

Moving forward, my advice to Republicans is simple: Don't go back and check on a
dead skunk. The question Republicans now need to answer is: How do we once again
convince the public that we are in fact the party many Democrats successfully pretended to be in this election? To do so, Republicans will need to shed their dominant insecurities that the public just won't understand a positive, national vision that is defined by economic opportunity, limited government and individual responsibility.

We need to remember Ronald Reagan's legacy and again stand for positive, big ideas that get power and money out of politics and government bureaucracy and back into the hands of individuals. We also need again to demonstrate an ability to be good stewards of the taxpayers' hard-earned money. If Republicans do these things, they will also restore the public's faith in our standards of personal conduct. Personal responsibility in public life follows naturally if your goal is good public policy.

Besides the obvious impact on the House and Senate, Tuesday's elections will no doubt redefine the Republican field going into early presidential primary states like
Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. It will be up to grassroots activists in those battlegrounds to establish a constituency of expectations that anyone aspiring to be the next president of the United States must satisfy. To voters I say: Demand substance and you will get it. To Republican candidates for office I say: Offer good policy and you will create a winning constituency for lower taxes, less government and more freedom.

Republicans would do well to digest these critiques, and than build upon this sage advice.

See Dick Armey's interview in U.S. News and World Report here.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Crist Names New Leader of FL GOP

Gov.-elect Charlie Crist has named Jim Greer, an Oviedo city councilman, to lead the state party through to the 2008 presidential election.

(St. Pete Times) "I intend to be an inclusive chairman to seek out the opinions of everyone, but be committed to the values and principles of the Republican Party," said Greer, who stood out in the Crist campaign for his work in the Orlando area.

"His heart's in it, he's a workaholic, he's got great passion, great energy and I know he'll do a great job and be very inclusive," Crist said Friday.

U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Oviedo, hailed Greer as tireless and savvy, and both a principled conservative and pragmatic problem-solver. He also is a strong fundraiser.

Though the Florida GOP lost some ground in the Cabinet, state House and congressional delegation this year, it fared much better than Republicans in other states. Crist signaled no major shift in direction.

With the Greer selection on the heels of Bush's selection of Mel Martinez to lead the RNC, Central Florida has become the center of GOP leadership.

(Orlando Sentinel) Greer's selection came as a surprise to many Republican activists who had expected outgoing House Speaker Allan Bense, R-Panama City, to succeed Jordan, who was seen by many as having favored Crist rival Tom Gallagher in the Republican primary for governor.

Bense and Jordan are expected to join Crist tonight in introducing Greer to party activists gathered for a two-day meeting at the Rosen Centre Hotel.

Greer's long friendship with the governor-elect and his ability to "energize the grass roots" during the campaign convinced Crist that he was a leader who could both shape and direct the party, said Scott Peelen, Crist's Orange County finance chairman.

"We need energy to attract people who may be getting into politics for the first time, and Jim brings that," Peelen said. "It's a new direction, and I'm very pleased for our party and our state."

With both state and national GOP leaders from Central Florida, Orange County Republican Chairman Lew Oliver said the region would be "the center of the political epicenter."

Well, it looks like Republicans in the Orlando area are happy with the selection.
The Tallahassee Sentinel admits that it knows little about Mr. Greer. We'll do the research and comment later.

Friday, November 17, 2006

FL-13 Update: No Change Today, Except for Attitudes

While the 4th day of the recount has yielded little change in the results of the District 13 race, partisan rhetoric was on the rise.

(Sarasota Herald-Tribune) National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Tom Reynolds issued a statement on Thursday calling on Jennings to concede the race.

"In every counting of the votes in the 13th District, Vern Buchanan has been declared the winner," said Reynolds, who last year bought a house in southern Manatee County.

Buchanan's campaign also released a statement on Thursday in which Buchanan supporters called on Jennings to concede.

Jennings' campaign staff questioned the timing of comments from Reynolds and the Buchanan camp because the recount is still ongoing.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also weighed in as it continued a fundraising drive to help Jennings pay legal bills.

Spokeswoman Adrienne Elrod said the DCCC would maintain a presence in the recount until every voter who intended to vote for Jennings has their vote counted.
Also continuing today was the awkward situation in Washington, where both Jennings and Buchanan are bringing treated by the parties as full members.
Democrats in Congress are treating Jennings like a full member. On Thursday, Jennings was given a full vote in the leadership elections, which she used to vote for Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, to be the majority leader.
You mean she didn't vote for Murtha. How can she be trusted!

As the Herald-Tribune has said, this situation will surely lead to a review of voting by the Legislature. Looks like another idea for Speaker Rubio to add to the list (unless it's already there).

Are these the Dems who could not read the ballot?

In a related story, the Herald-Tribune reports that citizens (read Dems) are hopping mad.
Here's one:
"How many thousands and thousands of Americans have lost their lives over the years to guarantee us the right to vote," she said, near tears.

"And now this, the possibility that all the votes weren't counted. I tell you, I've had enough."

And another:
"I'll tell you this," said Cheri Potts, who works for the Sarasota Police Department, "this election is not over."

And another:
"We were in Brazil in September when their election was going on and we left because of all the nastiness in that campaign. Then we come back to this. I tell you, it made me ashamed to tell my family and friends in South America about what is going on here."

And another:
"What is this that you shouldn't talk about the possibility of conspiracy theories," she (Lynn Kalish) said. "A conspiracy of some kind is evident to me. And the only thing that's going to satisfy me is a revote."
There goes the "C" word.
And another:
"I think every race in the whole county ought to be voted again," said Marion Mendelson of South Venice. "I mean we know this one was screwed up. Who knows what else?"
Well at least there was one friendly in the room:
"Eh," shrugged Dominick Falconetti, a Republican who is no fan of Vern Buchanan -- he favored Tramm Hudson, who lost to Buchanan in the primary -- but feels that he will be the next congressman from Florida's 13th district.

"They're grasping at straws," he said, which is "what Democrats do. And I was a Democrat up in New York for 25 years, so I know what I'm talking about.

"I came tonight just to make sure things didn't get too one sided," said Falconetti, scanning the room for his next interviewer.
It should get interesting over the next few days. Stay tuned......

Update: Republican Leadership Races

Well, I've spent the morning on state issues - and picking on Pelosi a little - so I'm a bit late on the House leadership races.

First we lost Steele (read the Rove connection to this at HotAir), now Pence has fallen hard.

(AP via NewsMax) Boehner defeated Indiana conservative Mike Pence. The vote tally was 168-27 with one vote for Texas Rep. Joe Barton. Boehner's election cements the Ohio conservative's resurrection within GOP leadership ranks. His elevation to succeed Hastert as the party's front line leader came despite unrest within the rank and file and a spirited campaign by Pence.
Hopes for Shadegg seem to be slipping away as well:
Roy Blunt, R-Mo., appeared poised to keep his post as whip, which will be the No. 2 GOP post when Republicans become the minority party in January. Blunt is currently the No. 3 House Republican, and he was favored to defeat Arizona conservative Rep. John Shadegg despite sentiment for fresh leadership faces.
We can only hope that some of what Pence has been saying will take hold:
"We did not just lose our majority . . . we lost our way," Pence said in a Thursday speech to his colleagues. "We are in the wilderness because we walked away from the limited-government principles that minted the Republican Congress."
Good stuff (on bad stuff) from Mary Katharine Ham at Townhall.

Captain Ed is developing a plan to get it all back (hat tip Malkin) - The First Principles Project - check it out.

More later on leadership fallout.

Pelosi's Big Day......or Was It?

This is some of the reaction to Pelosi's first test - and loss - over the majority leader race:

NYT - "Pelosi Rebuffed Over Her Choice for Majority Leader"

NYT Editorial - "Nancy Pelosi has managed to severely scar her leadership even before taking up the gavel as the new speaker of the House."

AP - "For Pelosi, a win, followed by a loss"

Washington Times - "House Democrats yesterday overwhelmingly rejected Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi's choice for majority leader."

Washington Post - "House Democrats elected Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) the new majority leader yesterday over strong opposition from Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), exposing a deep political divide even before the party takes control."

Times (London) - "Democrat Image Dented Already By Leadership Battle"

Congressional Democrats voted by a margin of 149-86 to elect Steny Hoyer as their House Majority leader — effectively the Speaker’s deputy — despite Ms Pelosi’s aggressive and unprecedentedly active canvassing of support for John Murtha, a rival candidate.
LA Times - "Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) was elevated to the pinnacle of congressional power Thursday as fellow Democrats formally made her their choice as the next House speaker. But the same colleagues gave Pelosi a brusque lesson in the limits of her power when they rejected her choice for second in command."

And there are many more.

Only on Planet Huffington do we get this:
Murtha Loses ... But It's Still a Victory for Pelosi

Talk about out of touch!!

Crist May Have Trouble Getting Voting Rights Restored

Incoming Governor Charlie Crist may have hit a stumbling block already. During the campaign, Crist vowed to support the automatic restoration of voting rights for convicted felons - once they served their time. Now, the other three members of the FL Cabinet - which also serves as the clemency board - are expressing concerns over the issue. The point of contention appears to be other the distinction between violent and non-violent offenders.

(St. Pete Times) It's not clear whether Crist is committed to restoring voting rights of all felons who have served their sentences.

During his campaign, Crist didn't distinguish between violent and nonviolent crimes when he said he supported restoring voting rights to felons. Asked about the distinction Thursday, Crist's transition team did not provide an answer clarifying his position.

Yet Crist told the Times last month that "if somebody has paid their debt to society, either we recognize that they have or we don't."

Representatives for incoming Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, a Democrat, and Commissioner of Agriculture Charles Bronson, a Republican, said they supported limited automatic restoration of voting rights for felons, though not violent offenders convicted of murder and sexual offenses, among other crimes.

Incoming Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum said Thursday that he disagreed with Crist, indicating he didn't support automatic restoration. He added that he hasn't talked to Crist about the issue yet.

"I do not believe that I'm prepared to say today, or may I expect to say in the near future, maybe at all, that we ought to automatically restore any particular category of criminals' rights," McCollum said in a news conference. "We'll see if there are some lesser crimes that get automatic restoration, but my gut tells me that will be very few and that category still ought to be reviewed by somebody."

The Tallahassee Sentinel tends to side with Crist on automatic restoration, if for no other reason than to insert more efficiency in state government.
Florida is one of three states that still require felons to go through a cumbersome process requesting clemency, which dates back to 1868, to regain their civil rights. As of July 1, a backlog of 5,600 felons were waiting for formal review of their cases.
Perhaps limitations on a clemency measure would help make it more palatable to the Cabinet. Limiting automatic restoration to first time offenders and other similar limitations may be worth looking into.

We'll keep watching it.

More on FL-13: Accusations and Calls for Revote

Well, it was only a matter of time before things began to heat-up. People For the American Way, and other like-minded groups - held a public meeting on Wednesday to call for a revote. And now Dem. Jennings is accusing Rep. Buchanan of obstruction.

(AP - via St. Pete Times) SARASOTA - Democrat Christine Jennings accused opponent Republican Vern Buchanan on Thursday of putting up legal blocks to hamper her ability to dispute the Sarasota County results in their contested congressional election.

Jennings unofficially trailed Buchanan by about 400 votes in the five-county 13th Congressional District before a required manual recount began Thursday. She gained an additional vote as a recount of provisional ballots began. The canvassing board will review military and overseas provisional ballots today, Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent said.

During a Circuit Court hearing, Judge Deno Economou told Buchanan's attorney, Hayden Dempsey, to choose an expert by 5 p.m. Monday to work with Jennings and Sue Cobb, the secretary of state, on a separate audit of voting machines aimed at determining whether there is anything irregular about some 18,000 no-votes recorded in the congressional race in the county. Cobb's office has said both sides will participate or neither; it will do the audit alone if Buchanan provides no expert.

Dempsey denied Jennings' claim after the hearing. "We frankly think the secretary of state doing it alone, independently, is fine, but if they want us to have an expert to participate we are happy to do so," he said.

About 200 people gathered at a public hearing Thursday night held by voter advocacy groups. Many people testified they had to vote multiple times to record a vote in the Buchanan-Jennings race and were successful only because they went back to review their choices. The room filled with applause when some called for a revote.

Is Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Boca Raton) a conspiracy theorist, or not? You decide.
(Sarasota Herald-Tribune) "Now I'm not a conspiracy theorist," Wexler said. "But you can't help but mention that the one county that happened to have all the problems was actually the county that supported the Democratic candidate for Congress."
It now looks as if any hope for a quick resolution is gone.

Rubio Says That "Ideas" Will Rule in FL House

Incoming FL House Speaker Marco Rubio says that his "100 Ideas" campaign will be the driving force when he takes over next Tuesday.

(AP) Rubio, R-Coral Gables, held meetings across the state to take suggestions from the public. They are in a book, 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future, to be released Monday.

Rubio disclosed 20 of the proposals at a news conference.

Some "aren't the kinds of things that you would traditionally associate with heated debate in politics, but they are the kinds of things people talk about on a daily basis," he said - things that "real people worry about over the water cooler, over the dinner table, on the way to work."

Energy-saving ideas include creating a fund that would offer loans to local governments, public schools, hospitals and care institutions for projects to improve energy efficiency.
Also, offer tax incentives to encourage homeowners and businesses to buy efficient appliances and systems and for hybrid and alternative fuel-powered vehicles.

Crime ideas include denying registered sex offenders and stalkers access to computer networking sites used by children.

Other proposals include public-private partnerships to expand after-school programs, and rewards for doctors who use technology to reduce errors, improve efficiency or achieve better outcomes at lower cost.

In August 2006, Florida legislators gathered for the Statewide Policy Summit to discuss issues and develop policy. Citizens were given the chance to voice their concerns and ideas.
Guests were also given an opportunity to discuss key issues, a chance to meet with influential policy makers, and an exclusive invitation to attend breakfasts and luncheons with keynote addresses by Former United States House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Governor Jeb Bush, Former Vice-Presidential Candidate Jack Kemp, and Florida House Speaker Allan Bense.
Looks like an impressive line-up - further evidence that Newt is making the rounds. Hopefully a sign of things to come from the former Speaker.

We look forward to another legislative session with GOP control of Florida's government.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

FL-13 Update

The recount goes on for one more day, and so far Democrat Jennings has gained 6 votes in Manatee County, one of five (or is it 4) counties that touch the 13th District.

According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, which has been the source on this issue, Republican Buchanan still holds the lead:

Jennings, a Democrat, earned 22 votes and Republican Vern Buchanan 16 when the
county's canvassing board finished counting disputed ballots just after 2 p.m. Including provisional ballots, Buchanan led Jennings 50,088 to 44,404 in Manatee voting.

Unfortunately, it's beginning to sound like 2000 again:
Some interesting ballots popped up during the day, including several that were
ripped, taped, bent and stained by mustard and coffee.

We'll keep watching it for you...

Murtha Backers: Licking Wounds and Making Nice

The cut-and-run crowd is mourning the loss of John Murtha. Quick out of the gates following the election of Rep. Steny Hoyer over Murtha is dear Arianna:

For all the reasons I've made abundantly clear, I would've loved to see Murtha as Majority Leader. But he remains the Democratic leader on Iraq -- and we need his unwavering voice on the war out there more than ever, as the debate on Iraq threatens to enter the twilight zone.
I not sure that Murtha is up to continuing the fight. He seems to be resigned to little tasks (hat tip to Blogs-of-War):
"I didn't have enough votes and so I'll go back to my small subcommittee I have on appropriations," Murtha said after the vote.
Arianna on what the loss means for Pelosi:

It bodes well for Pelosi that was willing to spend her political capital right off the bat -- especially on the issue that will define her time at the helm. Far too many modern politicians save their political capital until it's lost all its value.

Does that mean that her time at the helm is already defined with an embarrassing loss.

While Dems lick their wounds, some conservative bloggers are mourning the loss of Murtha.

It now appears that the Dems are ready to kiss and make-up. See HotAir for the video.

Let's hope we have a better day tomorrow.

Milton Friedman Dies at Age 94

July 31, 1912 - November 16, 2006

"The preservation of freedom is the protective reason for limiting and decentralizing governmental power. But there is also a constructive reason. The great advances of civilization, whether in architecture or painting, in science or in literature, in industry or agriculture, have never come from centralized government."

Milton Friedman, recipient of the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize for economic science, has died today at the age of 94.

Statement issued by the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation:

INDIANAPOLIS—Today, upon news of the death of Nobel Laureate economist Dr. Milton Friedman, Gordon St. Angelo, president and CEO of the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation, offered the following statement:

America has lost a true visionary and advocate for human freedom. And I have lost a great friend.

Milton’s passion for freedom and liberty has influenced more lives than he ever could possibly know. His writings and ideas have transformed the minds of U.S. Presidents, world leaders, entrepreneurs and freshmen economic majors alike. The loss of his passion, incisive mind and dedication to freedom are all national treasures that we mourn for today.

Milton never chose to slow down; even at 94 he kept fighting to bring educational equality to all of America’s children. And it’s this vision, this drive for educational liberty that the Friedman Foundation will continue to bring to families throughout America.

His impact on my life over the last 33 years was significant. His impact on the world was momentous. Without a doubt, few people have done more to advance civil and economic liberties throughout the world during their lifetime than Dr. Milton Friedman.

Michelle Malkin has some nice links on her post.

From the Hoover Institution bio:

Friedman was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1988 and received the National Medal of Science the same year.

He is widely regarded as the leader of the Chicago School of monetary economics, which stresses the importance of the quantity of money as an instrument of government policy and as a determinant of business cycles and inflation.

In addition to his scientific work, Friedman has also written extensively on public policy, always with a primary emphasis on the preservation and extension of individual freedom. His most important books in this field are (with Rose D. Friedman) Capitalism and Freedom (University of Chicago Press, 1962); Bright Promises, Dismal Performance (Thomas Horton and Daughters, 1983), which consists mostly of reprints of columns he wrote for Newsweek from 1966 to 1983; (with Rose D. Friedman) Free to Choose (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980), which complements a ten-part television series of the same name shown over the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) network in early 1980; and (with Rose D. Friedman) Tyranny of the Status Quo (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984), which complements a three-part television series of the same name, shown over PBS in early 1984.

He was a member of the President's Commission on an All-Volunteer Armed Force and the President's Commission on White House Fellows. He was a member of President Ronald Reagan's Economic Policy Advisory Board (a group of experts from outside the government named in 1981 by President Reagan).

He has also been active in public affairs, serving as an informal economic adviser to Senator Barry Goldwater in his unsuccessful campaign for the presidency in 1964, to Richard Nixon in his successful 1968 campaign, to President Nixon subsequently, and to Ronald Reagan in his 1980 campaign.

He has published many books and articles, most notably A Theory of the Consumption Function, The Optimum Quantity of Money and Other Essays, and (with A. J. Schwartz) A Monetary History of the United States, Monetary Statistics of the United States, and Monetary Trends in the United States and the United Kingdom.

He is a past president of the American Economic Association, the Western Economic Association, and the Mont Pelerin Society and is a member of the American Philosophical Society and the National Academy of Sciences.

He also has been awarded honorary degrees by universities in the United States, Japan, Israel, and Guatemala, as well as the Grand Cordon of the First Class Order of the Sacred Treasure by the Japanese government in 1986.

Friedman received a B.A. in 1932 from Rutgers University, an M.A. in 1933 from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in 1946 from Columbia University.

Two Lucky People, his and Rose D. Friedman's memoirs, was published in 1998 by the University of Chicago Press.

Milton Friedman, RIP