Senate Approves Stimulus Bill
the stimulus bill yesterday 61 to 37, with just three Republicans
(Snowe, Collins, and Specter) joining all the Democrats in approving it. One seat is vacant (Minnesota)
and one Republican (Judd Gregg) abstained. Now comes the hard part: reconciling the Senate and
is a comparison of the two bills in terms of content.
is another focusing on the money allocated for various items.
Members of each chamber have sworn that they will never vote for the conference bill unless
it is identical to the one their chamber passed. Probably later this week we'll see if they mean it.
Motion in Minnesota
The three-judge panel overseeing the Minnesota election contest
yesterday that 23 or 24 absentee ballots that were incorrectly rejected through no fault
of the voter must be counted. This is out of 60 voters who sued to have their votes counted.
All were Franken voters, so Al Franken will probably pick up 23-24 votes. However, Norm Coleman has
introduced 4800 rejected votes he wants counted and Franken has another 700 he wants counted.
Nevertheless, the ruling set a standard: votes will only be counted if they were rejected through
no fault of the voter. Probably relatively few will pass this test.
Palin Will Not Attend Conservative Conference
Alaska governor Sarah Palin
will not attend
the Conservative Political Action Conference in D.C. later this month.
Republican presidential hopefuls generally attend it, where they get to meet and try to impress
conservative leaders and pundits. Palin didn't give a reason for not attending.
However, one reason could be logistics. Alaska is inconveniently located for presidential politics.
There are no direct commercial flights from anywhere in Alaska to D.C. From Juneau, the state capital,
you have to change planes in Seattle. From Anchorage, far from Juneau but close to where Palin actually
lives, you can also fly to Chicago, Salt Lake City, or Minneapolis nonstop, but you still have to
change planes there. You can't get from Alaska to D.C. in less than 8 1/2 hours no matter what.
Anchorage to Des Moines, IA, can't be done in less than 8 hours and Anchorage to Manchester, NH, takes 10
hours. In practical terms, every time she wants to go to some key event in D.C. or some early state,
it will cost her 3 days. Contrast this with Mitt Romney, who lives in Massachusetts: he can drive to
New Hampshire to campaign a couple of times a week if he wants to. Furthermore, she is a sitting
governor and is expected to spend a fair amount of time in her office actually running the state.
While not an insurmountable hurdle, geography does put her at a disadvantage compared to more centrally
Election in Israel: Nobody Won
The Israeli election yesterday left the 120-seat Knesset (parliament) badly splintered.
The Kadima Party, headed by a young woman (and foreign minister), Tzipi Livni, will be the largest party with 28 seats,
closely followed by the right-wing Likud Party headed by former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, with 27.
New on the scene is the Israel Is Our Home Party headed by Avigdor Lieberman with 15 seats.
Lieberman wants to make Arab Israelis take an oath of allegiance to the State of Israel or be
stripped of their citizenship.
The Labor Party, which dominated Israeli politics for decades, came in fourth, with 13 seats.
Small religious parties and Arab parties got most of the remaining seats. All in all, the right-wing parties have
a small majority, but putting together a coalition government won't be easy. In any event, the
chances for peace in the Middle East were not improved by this election. The constant shelling of
Israeli towns from Gaza followed by the Israeli attack on Gaza have taken their toll.
A good source of news on the Israeli election is the
Election Data Map Available
Ducky Sherwood has produced a nice Website,
in which you can overlay a county-level map of the U.S. with different kinds of data
(e.g., 2008 votes by county, demographic data, etc.).
Fun for data freaks to play with.
A particularly enlightening choice is "2008 vs. 2004". Be sure to click "Refresh layers" after
changing the data to be displayed.
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