Dec. 17 absentee ballot for overseas voters

Obama 365   McCain 173  
Senate Dem 58   GOP 41   Ties 1
House Dem 256   GOP 178   Ties 1

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strong Dem Strong Dem (258)
weak Dem Weak Dem (33)
barely Dem Barely Dem (74)
tied Exactly tied (0)
barely GOP Barely GOP (14)
weak GOP Weak GOP (39)
strong GOP Strong GOP (120)
270 Electoral votes needed to win
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Presidential polls today: (None) RSS
Dem pickups (vs. 2004): CO FL IN IA NV NM NC OH VA GOP pickups (vs. 2004): (None) PDA SMS

PW logo Bush Will Host Presidents Lunch Obama Narrows Candidates for Labor Secretary
Yes, Another Press Conference Obama Picks Schapiro for SEC
Extra Bonus Quote of the Day Obama's Team of Rivals

News from the Votemaster

Recount of Challenged Ballots Starts in Minnesota

The Minnesota canvassing board began the task of going through the challenged ballots, beginning with 160 ballots challenged by the Democrat Al Franken. It took place in the basement of the state office building in St. Paul. The result of the day's work was 98 votes for Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) and 22 votes for Franken. The rest were ruled invalid. The Star Tribune's current estimate is that Coleman leads by 264 votes, but there are over 1000 challenges left and then come the rejected absentee ballots.

Harry Reid Supports Caroline Kennedy for Senator

For what it is worth, probably not much, majority leader Harry Reid supports Caroline Kennedy for the Senate seat being vacated by Hillary Clinton. Of course, Reid has nothing to say about the matter. Gov. David Paterson (D-NY) gets to make the call. The argument for Kennedy is that she is a star and if she holds a press conference on some subject, the entire national press corp will show up, whereas if one of the other new senators, say Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) holds a press conference, nobody will show up. Another argument for her is that whoever is appointed will have to run in 2010 and again in 2012 and a member of the Kennedy clan will be able to raise the kind of money needed for two very expensive Senate races. The argument against her is that she has never held public office before and hasn't "earned" the job. But in all fairness, there have been quite a few previous New York senators, such as Bobby Kennedy, Pat Moynihan, and Hillary Clinton, who also started at the top. But all of them started by winning a competitive election, not being appointed to the job.

Blagojevich Impeachment Process Has Started

A special committee of the Illinois state house has begun hearings on whether or not to impeach Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is accused of trying to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat. The committee will meet every day except Christmas Eve, Christmas day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day to get the job done as quickly as possible. If Blagojevich is impeached, a trial will follow in the state Senate. If he is convicted, Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn (D) will become governor and will have the power to appoint a successor to Obama, unless the legislature, by law, strips the appointment power from the governor. If such a law is passed, Quinn would have 60 days to sign or veto it and he would be free to make an appointment during that interval if he so chose.

Obama Chooses Vilsack for Secretary of Agriculture

President-elect Barack Obama has chosen former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack to be secretary of agriculture. This choice means that Vilsack will not challenge Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in 2010, meaning that Grassley is now certain to be reelected (and certain to vote for Vilsack's confirmation). Vilsack is a strong supporter of ethanol (which is currently--and inefficently--made from Iowa corn) as a motor vehicle fuel.

Bush Administration Finalizing Many Rules

Outgoing administrations always pass large numbers of regulations at the last minute to try to "rule from the grave." It takes time and effort for the new administration to reverse them. But you have to be careful what you wish for--you might get it. Right now the Bush administration is working on a "right of conscience" rule that would allow medical personnel to refuse to participate in medical procedures they personally object to. The current administration hopes that some doctors and nurses will refuse to perform requested and legal abortions just because the doctors or nurses are personally against abortion. What the administration is forgetting, however, is that such a rule is a two-edged sword. Suppose there is another Terri Schiavo case--and comatose patients are quite common--and (part of) the family wants to let the patient die. Then using the "right of conscience" rule, doctors, nurses, and technicians could refuse to go anywhere near the machines, which would undoubtedly result in many cases of euthanasia because the machines weren't being operated properly and nobody was willing to adjust them.

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-- The Votemaster