Sunday, January 25, 2009

Capt. "Sully": A Man of Few Words!

Update: 01/29/08
He and the crew of U.S. Airways, Flight 1549 bound for Charlotte, NC, executed a perfect emergency splash-down of the crippled Airbus 320 on the frigid waters of the Hudson River at mid-afternoon on January 15, 2009, and then successfully ordered and carried out the evacuation of all 155 passengers and crew on board the plane, who all were plucked from the river by ferries and emergency water craft. Everyone made it.

At a hero's welcome and good old-fashioned hometown parade held out in Danville, California this past week for a smiling Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger, III, the crowd cheered for their hero (and ours), chanting, "Sully, Sully, Sully . . . ." He was embarrassed. In introducing her husband, his lovely wife Lorrie said that her breath (and his) were both taken away when they came around the corner saw the local crowd. Ours were taken away too by what he did!

After she tearfully introduced him, Sully expressed gratitude, on behalf of Lorrie and himself to the homecoming crowd for their warm and enthusiastic reception, and told them how great it was great to be home in Danville.

Then he confined his remarks to the following:
"Circumstance determined that it was this experienced crew that was scheduled to fly that particular flight on that particular day.

But I know I can speak for the entire crew when I tell you, we were simply doing the jobs we were trained to do. Thank you."

That was it. But what he didn't say was that he has devoted his entire career, as an air safety expert and as a teacher of air safety to countless others, preparing for that very unlikely instant. And, as noted in a New York Times story about the man, the 1973 graduate of the Air Force Academy
"received the Outstanding Cadet in Airmanship Award, given to the top flier in each graduating class."
A reciprocal correlation in time and space, defying the odds. Circumstances!

The fact is that he and the crew are the "cup of tea" of the American people, too! So much so, in fact, that the story attracted more interest (h.t. Allahpundit at HotAir) from January 16th through the 19th than each of all the other top stories, including the 1) economy, 2) the Presidential inaugural preparations, and 3) the events in Gaza.

The headline on the story may say it was equal to the interest in the economy, but check the numbers! This story was number one.

Americans simply couldn't get enough of it!

John Milton once had the choir recite:
"For evil news rides post, while good news baits."*
The modern version is the old wheeze:
"Good news doesn't sell newspapers."
Not this time! This one beat everything!

* Sampson Antagonistes, Act II, scene 1 (line 1538).

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Coast Guard Video of the Impact, and Rescue Footage

(Updates: (3) New video, below)
Below is Coast Guard video footage of the actual landing of Flight 1549 in the Hudson River, taken from the New Jersey side of the river. You begin to see the plane impact the water at just after 2 minutes into the filming, with the "splash-down" occurring at 3:31:02 pm, at least according to the Coast Guard clock.

In the lower left foreground, you can the piering from what may be the Port Imperial Ferry Terminal in Weehawken, New Jersey, jutting out into the river. The plane apparently impacted approximately between the Terminal and about 50th Street in Manhattan. As reported by John Hughes at Bloomberg, apparently only one of the engines (logically, the right one) jarred loose and broke off on impact with the water, as the plane canted left a bit, facing it a bit toward Manhattan. If the left engine remained intact, that would have given a bit more drag to the left side, thus contributing to the slight turning of the plane toward Manhattan.

Immediately on landing, the pilot, Capt. Chesley Sullenberger III, who also runs a safety expertise company (a link to his full profile can be found on his site), reportedly immediately ordered everyone to "Evacuate." Bear in mind that this was a plane with a full fuel tank, and no one knew whether a fire would ensue, as one of the engines had been burning on decent. No one knew of the wings would hold either, helping to keep it afloat.

It is very striking is how quickly passengers and crew were climbing out onto the wing of the jet following an order to evacuate -- as the Coast Guard video focuses in you can see that several had already scrambled onto the right wing within 40 seconds of impact, at 3:31:40 pm, with others quickly walking out after them onto the left wing!

You can also see that the first rescue boat was a ferry which travelled up river, turning toward the plane and reached the right side and wing of the jet within 4 minutes of the impact! Two other ferries coming from the New Jersey bank reach the downed jet and passengers on the left side very quickly as well. Soon thereafter, it was surrounded by Coast Guard boats, police tugs and a host of other waterborn vehicles.

The plane may actually have impacted on the New Jersey side of the Hudson, as the border is a bit closer to Manhattan at that point.

(h.t. Powerline, here.)

This video, also posted earlier on Powerline, was taken from the Manhattan pier side showing the final second and actual impact, and later some of the early boat rescue efforts. Note the guy up along the bow rail in the of the ferry boat tossing life vests to passengers on the wings.

Below is video of the NBC Evening News coverage of the event. It shows, among other things, the path the plane took from takeoff at New York's LaGuadia Aitport, to the impact minutes later in the Hudson River. It also shows emergency vehicles surrounding the plane as it floated south with the current, where it was eventually guided by tugs, mooring at a Battery Park pier several miles from the point of impact.

Update: 1/21/09 (CBS News CBS News footage here showing video of passengers escaping from the plane, taken from the New York side, courtesy of ConEd)

Update: 02/03/09 (NY DailyNews posting of the ConEd video, posted on the Daily News account by Bill Hutchinson, of the "first interview" of Sully, landed by ESPN's Eric Reilly at the Super Bowl:)

Update: 1/21/09 (Video courtesy channel, and an avaition website (free sign up) with excellent perspective information, including this video about the crash of Flight 1549. You should definitely check out the website of Glenn Pew, Editor of, from where the above video was posted to the AV channel on YouTube.)

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Funny Post of the Day
-- Hero Worship versus Heroics --

We haven't had one of these in a while, but this one's a gem . . . a little window on our time!

You see, yesterday afternoon (1/15), two considerable events were in the news simultaneously . . . Obama visits newspaper, versus multiple heroics mark amazing jet crash, with all miraculously surviving.

The first unfolded in a blog posting by Washington Post blogger (Achenblog), Joel Achenbach, memorializing for all the world to share, the historic visit by President-elect, Barack Obama, who had just finished waltzing through their offices, including a "circling" of the WaPo newsroom itself. He obviously caused near delerium, even amongst the assembled scribes who reportedly buzzed around the triumphal One, all scrambling to shake his hand. At one point, having circled the newsroom, he graced them with words upon which great memories are surely always built . . . "All right, back to work!" he said. As reported by Joel, and in the WaPo itself (Kurtz), all work in the newsroom had indeed come to a screeching halt.

Michael Calderone at Politico has wryly traced the related press kerfuffel, started by N.Y.Times reporter, Helene Cooper, who began the spat it by suggesting that there had been actual applause amongst the Washington Post press pool upon his arrival. The WaPo, per Auchenbach, denies -- though none denied the heavy enthusiasm.

And, in other news, in New York, a veteran airline pilot, Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, III, somehow managed to safely bring down a huge jet, US Airways Flight 1549, an Airbus 320, the two engines of which had just been critically damaged by impact with a flock of geese during take-off.* By turning the crippled jet plane sharply and "gliding" it south, he coasted over the vaunted two-tier George Washington Bridge by about 900 feet, warned the passengers to "brace for impact," and splashed it belly down in the frigid waters of the Hudson River, just off 50th Street, between Manhattan and the Port Imperial Ferry Terminal in Weehawken, New Jersey. It floated down river during the many extraordinary rescue actions, and was eventually pulled into a pier in lower Manhattan. The former U.S. Air Force pilot, and safety expert thereby spared the lives of every one of the obviously terrified 155 passengers and professional crew, all of whom were subsequently snatched from the icy drink by a nearly instantaniously cobbled-together rescue effort of boats from both states, many displaying the coordinated training and tempering developed in the wake of 9/11, plucking them all from the wings and on-plane inflated life rafts, a feat the likes of which, rarely happens without the occurrence of at least some fatalities. There were none . . . and few injuries.

But back to our lead story. Joel Achenbach's posting of the triumphal visit of the PE to the Post offices, contained his very own personal account of actually shaking the hand of Obama. Nearly unbelievable!
"I was going to tell him that if he needed any tickets to inaugural events, he should call me, because I've got connections. But I froze up and just shook his hand and said good luck."

What spawned our funny comment of the day, printed below, can only completely be appreciated by scanning through the comments posted on the thread of Joel's drama-infested WaPo tale.

Said our funny commentier of the day, one RD_Padouk:

Joel, that is so cool that you got to meet the Pres-Elect in Person. Did he happen to mention me? No? We'll he has a lot on his mind.

See, this job of your does have some nice perks besides that whole, you know, minions bit.

Posted by: RD_Padouk January 15, 2009 4:33 PM
Heh! Ah, yes! Sarcasm is alive and well, even among some Washington Post readers.

But to really appreciate the context of the impact of those two simultaneously braking stories, one also should surf through the "comments" thread of that WaPo blog post.

Therein, you will see comment after comment obliquly referencing over to the breaking dramatic story of the jet airline, but not breaking off from their fascination with the Obama appearance at the paper. Some of the comments even expressed annoyance at the coverage of the crash by television stations, when there are obviolusly such far more important events to pay attention to -- such as the historic visit by Mr. Obama to the Washington Post newsroom!

I kid you not! Read for yourself.

Thus spake Obama hero-worshiping commenter, one Badsneakers!
I came home sick today or I wouldn’t have seen the news of the plane so soon. MSNBC has not broken into their coverage of it for two hours. I know it’s news and I’m very glad that everyone is ok, but do we really need non-stop coverage?

Joel, I am filled with envy to the point of being speechless.

Posted by: badsneakers January 15, 2009 5:31 PM
Or, check this opener by commenter firsttimeblogger.
Well, I think that meeting Obama is way more cool than watching an airplane ditch (and I only say it that way, since everyone got out alive and there appear to be no injuries -- otherwise I'd be way more circumspect).
. . .

Posted by: firsttimeblogger January 15, 2009 5:20 PM

More circumspect? What is the idiom in vogue these days? "You can't make this up!"

You don't have to. They're out there. And, they obviously vote.

Meanwhile, Capt. Chesley B. Sullenberger, III, First Officer Jeffrey B. Skiles, the professional crew, the passengers, and the band of rescuers from both New York and New Jersey, all somehow came together, and what unfolded was one of the great "good news" stories of our time!

That was the one that left me speechless!

* The NTSB identified them thusly: "'a string of primary targets' that may have been birds at an altitude of 2,900 to 3,000 feet, 90 seconds after takeoff from New York’s LaGuardia Airport, said Kitty Higgins, a National Transportation Safety Board member." (Latest update: 1/17/09)

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Did Minnesota Experience Significant Voter Fraud in 2008?

There have been many commentators including one in the Wall Street Journal this week who have noted the very strange manner, and the multiple inconsistencies involved in the conducting of the recount process in the Minnesota United States Senate race this year.
Strange things keep happening in Minnesota, where the disputed recount in the Senate race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken may be nearing a dubious outcome. Thanks to the machinations of Democratic Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and a meek state Canvassing Board, Mr. Franken may emerge as an illegitimate victor.
And, there has been a lot of talk about the potential of fraud, but very little in the way of actual proof.

The proof of fraud may lie in the manner in which Minnesota conducts their elections, including the same day registration system, of which they are very proud. The fraud, in other words, may have involved large-scale voting by people who were illegitimately registered. Therefore, we have looked at the results from a different angle, focusing on some specific totals and asking the question, "Was this possible?"

In some cases, we think it simply was not possible.

The results of voter fraud -- the kind where someone casts an illicit ballot -- has precisely the same evil effect on other voters and candidates, as when an individual is unlawfully prevented from voting in the first place.

Depending on the choice marked in the unlawful ballot, one other voter's legitimate selection will either be improperly enhanced, or completely negated by the actual casting of that illegal vote. It just depends on for whom the unlawful vote was cast. Likewise, a legitimate voter's selection would either be improperly enhanced, or negated through the action of refusing to permit a lawful voter to cast a ballot in the first place. The result is the same.

If Joe, who is not legitimately registered in Happy Town, nevertheless cast a vote there, and he voted for Creepy Carl, Joe illegally enhanced Creepy Carl's chances. And in doing so, he also negated the entirely legal vote of Jill, who cast her ballot for Happy Harry.

But we Americans tend not to focus at all on the consequestional equivalence of those two somewhat different forms of voter fraud.

Our focus is almost always aimed at preventing some form of invidious discrimination, whereby someone is illegally prevented from voting in the first place. And even when there are valid actions taken by election officials to merely check identification to be sure someone is a legitimate voter, we are sometimes tempted to look on that as a hassle, perhaps even rising to the level of harassment. If it were in any way systematic, we would tag it as "voter suppression."

The fact is, however, that large, or even small scale voter suppression is nearly impossible today. And despite sometimes wild claims of incidents of "voter suppression," invariably made by one particular political party, not a single such instance has been documented in recent memory in this country.

But voter fraud involving illicitly registered voters is an entirely different thing. If a considerable number of ballots are cast by "registrants" who are not permitted to vote, the entire system can be and would be compromised. And it is our democratic system that is compromised, not just one candidate or the other.

Minnesota - 2008 Election

There were some strange anomalies that occurred in the voting system in Minnesota on November 4th of this year. The officials at the precinct and county levels who operated the system, all attended training courses in how to run the system at their levels, as it required under Minnesota law. But in the crush of filing their reports this year, it is clear that many committed errors that in some ways question the trustworthiness of the system. In a highly intense Presidential year, as this one was, even the best system can experience cracks under the pressure.

There is evidence that many such cracks occurred in Minnesota this year, and the result in the United States Senate race may well have been completely compromised.

Looking at the actual numbers reported this year, one has an unmistakable sense that some voter fraud was committed. That is certainly a conclusion that reasonable people could draw. In mid-October it was reported that ACORN, which claimed to have registered 43,000 of the new registered voters in Minnsota this year, was being investigated in Hennepin County (where Minneapolis is located) for possible criminal violations, given unexplained late registration reporting of new registrations -- or, as noted by Ed Morrissey at HotAir, suddenly dumping 1,000 or more new "registrations on the county board after the deadline."

One Minnesota watchdog group, called Minnesota Majority, has made a number of specific charges in regard to new registrants, some before and some since the election. Specifically, they have called for an end to "same day" registrations based on evidence they say they now have regarding bogus registration addresses, double voting, potential duplicate registrations, deficiencies in voter registration information, and other irregularities. They outlined their specific findings and objectives regarding the voting system in Minnesota on their website, and have recently sent their proof to the Secretary of State and numerous countys. In addition, they have called for an investigation of what they allege are violations of the federal "Help America Vote Act" (HAVA), modelled on the findings of a joint federal-state task force that conducted such an investigation (pdf) in 2005 in neighboring Wisconsin.

We have no way of assessing their information, or the validity of their claims. Nor do we have any connection whatsoever with Minnesota Majority. But what we have been able to put together, just based on data supplied to the Secretary of State this election, suggests that it has reported puzzling, and in some instances downright questionable data this year.

Minnesota currently has a "same day" registration system, one of the most liberal of it's kind in the nation, and one that has been in effect for many years. Here are the specific requirements for registering to vote on election day, as posted on the website of the Secretary of State of Minnesota.

It outlines the circumstances under which potential voters who, for whatever reason, had not registered 20 days or more prior to the election (on October 15th or earlier), could show up on election day itself, and register to vote. The number of people who did so statewide, was quite extraordinary.

For the purposes of this discussion, we focused primarily on one county -- St. Louis county.

In order to establish their residency in a municipality, applicants who are 18, have lived in a precinct for 20 days or more, and are not otherwise disqualified (alien, felon, etc.) are permitted to show any one of several forms of currently valid identification. Or, alternatively, they could show two pieces of identification, one of which could even be an expired driver license (as long as it has a photo), together with a current utility bill, in order to sign up and vote right then.

And even without presenting any identification, a voter may still be able to fully register and vote that day, so long as some pre-registered voter in the town or city "vouches" for him or her. In effect, any previously registered resident can file an affidavit swearing that you are a resident of that voting precinct. Or, as it is specified at the Secretary of State's office, an otherwise eligible voter is to be registered to vote if:
"A voter registered in the same precinct as you who can confirm your address with a signed oath."
Here is the full list of basic identification requirements, any one of which qualifies you to "same day" register, as they are posted at the website of the Secretary of State:

To register at your polling place on Election Day, you must have one of the following with your current name and address in the precinct to verify your residence:

• A valid Minnesota driver’s license, learner’s permit, Minnesota ID card, or receipt for any of these

• A valid student ID card including your photo, if your college has provided a student housing list to election officials

• A Tribal ID card that contains your picture and signature

• A valid registration in the same precinct under a different name or address

• A notice of late registration sent to you by your county auditor or city clerk

• A voter registered in the same precinct as you who can confirm your address with a signed oath

• An employee of the residential facility where you live who can confirm your address with a signed oath
There are also certain permissible "combinations" including less reliable ID that are permitted as well (e.g., an expired photo id, together with a current utility bill.)

Some local jurisdictions post their own versions of the requirements on their local websites as well. For example, here is a summary of those "requirements" as posted ("click" for pdf) on the website of the City Of Proctor, a small community with a current population of only 2,819 people (2007 Census estimate), located a few miles outside of Duluth.

But the point is that John Smith, pre-registered voter, says that Bill Jones, an unregistered applicant, lives in that precinct in that town, and if John signs a document to that effect, that's it. Bill is required to be registered by that jurisdiction, and he gets to vote there that very day.

Now to some, this sort of process encourages participation in democracy. Are their any safeguards? The promoters would say so, such as that a voter who is vouched for on election day cannot thereafter turn around and "vouch for" a new voter.

But there is nothing to stop a previously registered voter from "vouching" for several people. Perhaps if they did not want to draw too much attention, they would limit the number they would vouch for. According to one local official we interviewed in Proctor, Minnesota, a small town just west of Duluth, there is now a limit of 15 per pre-registered voter. But point is that a few rabid partisans, previously registered in a town, can easily corrupt the entire process by "vouching" for a significant number of new voters who are perhaps paid to come in and stuff the ballot box!

If you moved to a town 21 days prior to the election, and registered to vote, you could show up on election day and vouch for 15 new people on election day, and they would have to be given a ballot. In a close contest, such as this one was, just a few such instances could throw the election.

But what proof is there that people were registereed who should not have been?

For starters, lets take a look at this web page containing summary information for St. Louis County, listing all precincts in the various municipalities. You may want to leave it open in a separate tab as you read through this. And as you do, please try and think about whether these new registrations could have actually taken place, at least as they were reported there.

In particular, you should note three columns: Voters Registered at 7 AM; secondly, Registered on Election Day; and, third, Total Voters in Precinct. All columns are important for a full understanding what happened on election day, but those three in particular paint a very puzzling picture in examining a considerable number of jurisdictions.

Voters Registered at 7 AM: Exactly what it means. It is just the sum total of those voters who were fully registered to vote as of 7 AM on election day. It includes anyone who filed to register 20 days or more before the election.

It does not represent turnout.

Registered on Election Day: These are the new voters, those who were actually registered to vote on Election Day itself, November 4, 2008, and all of whom voted because they were handed ballots as they completed the process. A few are address changes within that precinct, but most are brand new voters to the precinct. Take a look at how many there were, and, in particular, the numerical relationship between the number of new voters and the number previously registered voters. You'll begin to see the problem.

Voters in Precinct: This is the total number of people who actually voted in that precinct on election day. It is a combination of those previously registered voters who actually showed up to cast a ballot on election day, plus those who registered that day and voted, i.e., "Signatures," and when added to whatever "absentees" were counted, is supposed to be the votes actually cast in that precinct.

Such a system practically invites error. This is especially so on a Presidential election day, in which resources are obviously stretched to the limit by the sheer volume of the turnout, the work of which is performed by people who do this job for only a few intense days in any given year. While the pressure to avoid error may be significant, the deadline forces shortcuts to be taken.

Whether they are trained to do the task or not, checking the identification of those coming in to register and vote on election day itself has special difficulties associated with it. No one, of course, wants to deny anyone the "right to vote." In fact, there is a huge disincentive for anyone who is a "challenger" questioning anyone's the eligibility to vote. A challenge must be in writing under oath. Thus, it is perjury, and therefore a felony in Minnesota to challenge anyone's ability to vote if you do not have "personal knowledge" that they do not live in a precinct, or are not otherwise eligible to vote! So from a practical point of view, no one working on the process challenges anyone who tries to register.

Those who are "approving" applications, people who are put in the position of making a judgment call, such as – "Is that really the photo of the person?" or, "Is it possible that the number address was "typed in" on the electric bill?" – will almost always err on the side of simply allowing the person to vote. They could be charged criminally if they challenge the person!

In that regard, especially given the "vouching" system, is literally an open invitation to those motivated by a desire to commit voter fraud, or even a willingness to allow questionable practices to slip by especially when subject to any form of peer pressure . One would think this would be easier in a crowded city environment, where it is not unusual to have never seen someone you come across on the street, though they may live no more than several hundred feet from your apartment.

Election Day, Duluth, MN, 2008

Consider the events of Election Day in Duluth, Minnesota . . . a port City* on the shores of Lake Superior, one having a rather droll nickname - "the air-conditioned City." Duluth is currently the fourth largest city in the State of Minnesota. It had a population, as of the 2000 Census, of 86,918 men, women and children. Unlike the State as a whole,* however, the population of Duluth has been dropping a bit, so that the latest Census estimate -- for 2007, was that 84,397 people now reside in Duluth, a drop in population of 2,521 people over 7 years, or down 2.9%.

Also keep in mind that somewhere between 22 and 23 percent of the residents in the City of Duluth are under the age of 18 -- that is, they cannot legally vote. That leaves a total potential voter pool of 65,830, using the lower percent figure of 22%.

So now, consider the possibility that each and every one of the 36 voting precincts in that city, added hundreds of new voters to the registration rolls, right on election day itself this year.

Well, it was not just a possibility. That is exactly what happened. According to the figures recorded at the website of the Secretary of State, Mark Richie, the average number of new voters for each and every one of those precincts was about three hundred new voters! Some added far more, some far less.

Leading the pack in that regard were the 10th, 11th, 13th and 14th precincts. Each one of those four added well over 600 new voters, with the 14th precinct setting the pace for Duluth -- that one precinct alone added 687 new voters on election day! The City as a whole added 10,833 new voters on election day itself. And, they were all handed ballots and they voted.

What a remarkable achievement! Almost too remarkable, it would seem.

You see, according to the current figures on the website for the Secretary of State's Office, the City of Duluth already had 61,074 fully registered voters, come 7 AM, at the very beginning of Election Day this year. Those numbers are also recorded on the website of the Secretary of State's office -- you just need to total them up (the site will not do it for you).

That is 92.78% of the entire potential voter pool for the City, who were already registered at 7 am on election day. And yet, they now report that just under 11,000 (10,833) new voters became registered and voted in Duluth, Minnesota on election day alone! Just add the figures for the "Registered On Election Day" column for 36 precincts of the City of Duluth (do not include Duluth Township -- it is a separate municipality.)

Bear in mind that this unlikely number of brand new voters is about 12.8% of the city's total population, as of last year! But more importantly, it represents 16.46% of the entire possible voting pool for the City of Duluth. That, in a City that already had a 92.78% voter registration figure!

How is that possible? It would seem that it is not.

And, there are other serious problems associated with the new numbers. How would it have been possible, particularly given the persistence and the high intensity of the voter registration efforts of both the Obama and Franken campaigns, and groups like ACORN throughout the entire campaign, for example?

Wouldn't any reasonable person think that most new voters would have already been scooped up by 20 days before, and included in the group already registered as of 7 AM on election day -- that is, included in the group of 61,074 already registered on election day morning?

Surely, the ACORNs and the other Obama registerees would have combed through all the local schools and colleges, probably many times over in the months and weeks leading up to the election! The University of Minnesota - Duluth, Lake Superior College, the College of St. Scholastica, and perhaps even Duluth Business University -- must have all had voter registration teams set up since early September, perhaps even over the summer. Plus, many of those students were likely already registered to vote in their own home towns, some in their home states.

In other words, is it not more likely that the ranks of the potential new voters were pretty much tapped out come election day? And as a consequence, is it not a complete mystery that this considerable hoarde of new voters just suddenly appeared on election day? It is simply not possible that most of them were just coming in to change their address! Apparently there was some mysterious "reserve."

Handling the Registration Process - How Did They Do It?

And here's another thing. As we all know, things are pretty busy on election day, at least in Presidential election years. Minnesota does have "same day registration" but how were all those applications verified and approved in the midst of all the confusion? Take, for example, the 14th Precinct of Duluth where 687 new voters were registered that day. Over the course of 13 straight hours (7 AM until 8 PM) that would be nonstop, completing approximately 53 approved processings per hour, or just under one per minute -- ensuring that applications are completed, checking any submitted identification proof, signing written oaths by "vouchers," checking any vouchers names on the pre-registered roll.

Now, it is true that many of the people may have obtained the forms in advance and filled them out. But there is always a significant percentage of people who do not understand the instructions, or who miss some key piece of information, and there are always even some who fail to follow the instructions even minimally.

Were voters able to "vouch" for someone simply by signature? Or did they require their "voucher" to be present? The business Administrator for Proctor, for example, stated that the "vouchers" are required to be present with the new voter when they sign the oath.

That is a huge amount of work to approve nearly 11,000 applications! Who did all that work? The regular poll workers, who perform that task one or two days out of every year?

Tomorrow: More Strange Results in Other Towns

* Acccording to the United States Census Bureau, the State of Minnesota had a population of 4,919,479 as of the 2000 Census. The latest estimate is for 2007, and holds that as of them, Minnesota had a population of 5,197,621, up by 278,142, or a 5.56% increase.

**The City of Duluth, MN is a separate incorporated municipality from Duluth Township, the latter of which is also located right along Lake Superior in St. Louis County. The Township lies between Duluth and the small City of Two Harbors, the county seat of neighboring Lake County. Two Harbors (2007 pop. 3,416) is where a
significant portion of the numerical changes in the vote totals came from in the week following the 2008 election -- + 246 votes for Franken! Those numerical changes -- the ones from Two Harbors, and a few from other jurisdictions -- altered the initial "complete" vote tallies recorded with the Secretary of State, ultimately narrowing the difference between the two Senate candidates from an initial 726 vote advantage for Coleman (early Wednesday morning, 11/05) down to a much narrower 206 (as of Monday afternoon, 11/10).

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Table? What table?

What a terrific question!

Below is an opinion piece by a friend, Vince Zarate, who is currently retired and living in Bordentown, New Jersey. He points out the fundamental dishonesty involved in a politician using a cliché to avoid answering a specific question. In this case, Vince tags New Jersey's Governor, Jon Corzine, for having euphamistically claimed that, with respect to this year's budget, "everything is on the table."

A substantially similar version of this, entitled "VINCE ZARATE: Guv 'tables' budget queries," appeared in The Trentonian on January 2, 2009, and is located here on their website.
Viewpoint: The Table


Governor Jon Corzine is giving everyone the run around on the details of the new state budget.

When asked if the new budget he is working on will include new or higher taxes, spending cuts or even wage freezes and lay offs, he responded, "Everything is on the table."

Table? What table?

Where is it?

Why isn’t everything under the table instead of on it? How can WE put something on this table?

Or even better, how can WE get rid of what he put on it?

Or is the table a figure of speech used by politicians to dodge a question?

"Everything is on the table" sounds like an answer but it is not an answer at all.

When Corzine says, “Everything is on the table” it is his way of saying he doesn’t know what he’s going to do.

It is his ambrosia.

News reporters are not the only victims of the vague responses from the Governor about the budget.

The Republicans (that’s the other political group in the statehouse) have threatened to sue Corzine for not releasing details on how the administration plans to close a projected revenue shortfall of $1.2 billion.

Senate minority leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Essex) said the 16 Republicans in the Senate have repeatedly asked for documents detailing, "exactly what steps the administration is taking to address the shortfall."

Kean wants to know where the table is, so he can remove "everything"’ off it.

He said Corzine is violating the state’s open public records law by not disclosing what money is being put in reserve to offset the decline in revenues.

State Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-Passaic) said the state is in bad fiscal shape.

He gave his view of what Corzine has put "on the table".

O’Toole said he table is covered with "seven years of tax increases; the unemployment fund is broke; the transportation fund is virtually insolvent; the open space fund is out of money, and sales tax collections have plummeted."

Corzine sipped his ambrosia during the Republican assault.

He said budget decisions will "really be tough" this year because of the plunging economy.

He said lay offs, wage freezes and tax increases are "real options". So too are reductions in Medicaid, and property tax rebates, he said.

"Are you planning to cut the rebates?" he was asked.

Guess what the Governor answered.


(Vince Zarate covered the New Jersey Statehouse for the Star Ledger. Retired, he lives in Bordentown).

Today, the AP reports that the Governor is planning to deliver the details of "the cuts."

Update: And here is that list (pdf) of "cuts" in the current (FY 09) budget as released from the State's Treasurer, David Rousseau, earlier today. He apparently held a press availability on these proposed "solutions" to the current budget at 3 p.m. this afternoon, including $812 million in spending reductions, that are being advanced,
"as part of a larger set of solutions to closing a $2.1 billion shortfall in the FY 09 budget."
That would leave about $1.3 billion unaccounted for, money slated for expenditure over the next 6 months until the end of the fiscal year on June 30th of 2009. The likelihood is also that that number may well grow, given the likelihood of revenue shortfalls being currently anticipated.

So, this is NOT everything that is "on the table," even for this fiscal year . . . at best it represents the Governor's sudden elimination of the soup and salad course, after the State's political leadership -- the Governor and the Democrat majority in both houses of the Legislature -- engaged in a process of denial, having prematurely enabled the wolfing down of the appetizer by their political beneficiaries.

Or, perhaps being in power, they were as Vince noted, prematurely supping on the ambrosia.

No desert between now and July, folks! Not for anybody. Somebody's already been in the cookie jar.

And, bear in mind that we still do not know what will be included in the main course for the remainder of this fiscal year.

As for next year's budget (FY 2010), it is already looking like mighty thin gruel . . . and, in a guberantorial election year!

Finally, the Treasurer's release about today's press availability also notes, at the end:
"Treasurer Rousseau will be available to answer reporters' questions about the proposed solutions to the FY 09 Budget shortfall at 3 pm in the Treasurer's conference Room. The availability is open only to the credentialed press." (my emphasis added)

Credentialed press . . . so that presumably excluded all New Jersey Republican legislative staff, a few of whom have been instrumental in putting together the Open Public Records Act demands that have put at least some pressure on the Democrats to address what the Governor tells us is "on the table."

And, presumably the exclusion was also intended to include bloggers. Hell, I know I didn't directly get the release from Rousseau!

All of this from a guy who was supposed to have been the fiscal wizard who would extract us from the financial shortcomings of his predecessor, Jim McGreevey!

I guess it's easier to be a "fiscal wizard" when you're trotting around Wall Street playing with other peoples' money!

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