Posts filed under 'General News'

The Senate is now in majority Republican hands*

Fox News has called Iowa for Joni Ernst. Associated Press has called North Carolina for Thom Tillis, dispatching the deplorable Kay Hagan.

It’s a majority. It looks like there are more seats to come for the Republicans.

Great news.

*Once the new Congress sits, which is not immediately.

Samuel

November 5th, 2014 at 03:30pm

State of play in the Senate (and some other US elections)

The early calls for a Republican victory in South Dakota were accurate. Mike Rounds is leading Democrat Rick Weiland 51% to 28% with 47% counted. The nearest independent candidate is on 17%.

Virginia is in play. Democrat incumbent Mark Warner is leading Republican Ed Gillespie by about 10,000 votes (less than 1%) with 93% counted.

North Carolina is looking good for the Republicans and could give them the +6 they need to take a majority in the Senate. Republican Thom Tillis is leading the reprehensible Democrat incumbent Kay Hagan 49% to 47% with 96% counted.

In Iowa, Republican Joni Ernst is leading her Democrat opponent 49% to 47% with 53% counted.

Republicans Cory Gardner and Tom Cotton are winning easily in Colorado and Arkansas respectively.

The projections from many media outlets are now suggesting the Republicans will retain their House majority (there’s no doubt on that one) and pick up as many as nine Senate seats (much more than the six they need). At this time, no Republican incumbent Governor has lost, and there are incumbent Democrat Governors who look set to lose to a Republican.

It’s looking like a big victory, and should stop the Obama agenda quite convincingly. I expect the next two years will be more about the platform each party will take to 2016 than anything else, as it’s unlikely that Barack Obama will acquiesce to the wishes of the people and sign much of the legislation passed by the Republicans or adhere to their attempts to make him stick within his constitutionally mandated powers (something which he has so far proven incapable of doing).

A very good election so far…and lots of work to do once the new Congress sits.

Samuel

November 5th, 2014 at 03:23pm

Some non-Senate races of interest

There’s another Senate seat which all the news outlets are calling based on opinion polls rather than a vote count, which gives the Republicans +5…one more and they have a majority.

Some other races of interest.

Gubernatorial races:
Scott Walker, the Republican Governor of Wisconsin is being re-elected easily. 17% counted, he leads 60% to 39%.

Texas is also an easy victory for Republicans with Greg Abbott leading by a similar margin to Scott Walker. Greg Abbott replaces outgoing Republican Rick Perry.

South Carolina Republican Governor Nikki Hayley is also being re-elected by a similar margin.

Unfortunately in Pennsylvania, Republican Governor Tom Corbett has been ousted by Democrat Tom Wolf, currently 57% to 43% with 56% counted.

Maryland is a very tight race. Democrat Governor Anthony Brown (one of the people responsible for Maryland’s rain tax) is leading Republican Larry Hogan by 1%, or about 8,000 votes, with 30% of the vote counted.

Illinois could change hands to the Republicans. 51% counted and Republican Bruce Rauner leads incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn by 1%.

And there are a couple of other states which look like changing hands, mostly from Democrat to Republican, but all of those races are far too close to call at the moment.

In House seats.

One of the great shames of the 2012 election was that Mia Love did not win a seat in Utah. This time around she is running for Utah’s fourth district and the opinion polling looks good for her. No votes counted as yet.

In Indiana, none of the seats are changing hands. Seven Republicans and two Democrats.

In Maryland’s 6th district, Dan Bongino is currently leading incumbent Democrat John Delaney, 50% to 48% with 33% counted. This is a big comeback from the early stages of the count where Dan Bongino was down by a long way. We won’t have a result here for a while, but it’s good to see Dan is in the lead.

Lots happening around the traps. It is looking like a good night for the Republicans overall at this stage. In fact, as an example of how good things are looking for the Republicans, TheHill.com just sent out an alert about the Democrats picking up their first Republican House seat of the night…four and a half hours in to the count! I’m not sure which seat they’re referring to though as they didn’t specify and there are far too many house seats for me to scroll through them quickly.

Samuel

November 5th, 2014 at 02:34pm

It’s +4 for the Republicans

Remembering they need to gain six senate seats to form a majority in the Senate, and keeping in mind my earlier note that all the news outlets are calling South Dakota based on opinion polling without any of the count having been reported, another Senate seat has changed hands to the Republicans.

Colorado has voted for Republican Cory Gardner over incumbent Democrat Mark Udall. 63% counted…it’s 50% to 44%.

More polls close in moments from now. I’ll put together a quick rundown of some non-Senate races of interest shortly.

Samuel

November 5th, 2014 at 02:00pm

Louisiana heading to a runoff election next month

Louisiana has a different system than most other states. Instead of a Primary system which allows people to elect one candidate per party for election day, a whole heap of candidates can run on election day. Today for example there are four Democrats, three Republicans and one Libertarian.

If no candidate receives at least 50% of the vote, then the two candidates who receive the most votes will face each other again in a runoff election. It looks pretty certain now that Louisiana’s Senate race will go to a runoff election on December 6.

Right now, with 10% counted, Republican Bill Cassidy is leading incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu 43% to 42% (61,953 to 61,584). Bill’s a good candidate…hopefully he goes on to win the runoff.

Samuel

November 5th, 2014 at 01:53pm

Possible third seat, but I’ll wait for a count

This is odd. NBC, CNN, Fox, and pretty much everyone else is awarding South Dakota to Republican Mike Rounds, making it the third of six Senate seat pickups which Republicans require for a Senate majority. The odd things is that they are all making this pronouncement without any votes having been counted…they are going on opinion polling which gave Mike Rounds a strong lead.

I’m going to wait until I see some actual numbers. Calling a race before any votes are counted is just silly.

Samuel

November 5th, 2014 at 01:29pm

Senate seat pickup number two

It looks like Republicans have now picked up two of the six Senate seats they require in order to form a majority.

In Arkansas, Tom Cotton looks likely to defeat incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor.

Republicans have picked up two of the six seats needed to gain the Senate majority, with Fox News projecting GOP Rep. Tom Cotton will unseat two-term Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor in Arkansas and Shelley Moore Capito will beat Democrat Natalie Tennant for an open Senate seat in West Virginia.

(h/t FoxNews.com)

As I write this, with 16% counted, Tom Cotton leads Mark Pryor 52% to 45% (73,904 to 63,692). In West Virginia with 35% counted, Shelley Moore Capito is leading Natalie Tennant 61% to 35% (113,822 to 66,093).

Good start, but early days still.

Samuel

November 5th, 2014 at 12:57pm

The first Senate seat pickup for the Republicans

It’s early in the night, and the Republicans need to pick up six Democratic senate seats in order to gain a majority. The good news is Republicans have picked up one of these seats. The even better news is that the next time someone tries to claim Republicans are engaged in a “war on women” you should point them to this as an example of how silly that argument is.

Republican candidate Shelley Moore Capito defeated Democratic challenger Natalie Tennant in Tuesday’s election for West Virginia’s seat in the United States Senate, reports said. Capito is the first female senator in the state’s history.

Capito’s victory marks the first time since 1956 that a Republican will represent West Virginia in the U.S. Senate.

(H/t Thomas Barrabi, International Business Times)

Meanwhile, claims that Republicans are against black people (or vice versa), which have always been patently absurd, have been proven once again to be patently absurd.

South Carolina has elected the first black senator from the South since Reconstruction, with Republican Tim Scott winning his race to complete a term to the Senate after having been appointed to the seat in 2013. Scott is the first African American popularly elected to the Senate in the old Confederacy.

(H/t Michael Warren, The Weekly Standard)

It’s a good start for Republicans, and a bad start for the nutty people who try to portray (and are often taken seriously for no good reason) Republicans as being some modern-day version of the KKK.

Some good people elected so far. Much more to come.

Samuel

November 5th, 2014 at 11:59am

US Midterm Elections

Polls are just starting to close in a few places in the US where 6pm has just passed in the Eastern timezone, but only a very small number of polls have closed as many places have closing times which are later than 6pm in their local timezone.

The indications are good that after six painful years of the most awful US President in recent history (and probably of all time, but let’s not dwell on this right now), the Republicans should be able to retain the House and form a majority in the Senate, which will put serious road blocks in the way of Obama’s awful and disastrous agenda. The midterm election of 2010 gave Republicans the House, but more importantly did so on the back of a conservative agenda…this slowed down the progress of Obama’s policies as his friends only had control of the Senate and thus could not just push things through Congress with minimal resistance as they did during the first two years. Unfortunately not all Republicans are conservatives, and the mixed messages which came out of this combined with a lacklustre candidate (Mitt Romney) for President in 2012 seriously hampered efforts to save America from Obama. As the terrible legacy of Obamacare and other Obama policies has become apparent, conservatives have found it easier to show people why conservative policies are the better choice, and so this election is looking good.

All of that said, it’s not a certainty. The Republicans should not have any trouble holding the House, but the Senate (roughly a third of which is up for election…it can’t be an exact third when there are 100 Senate seats) will be a close battle. Republicans require only an extra six seats which should not be a hard ask, but with a few close races it could go down to the wire, and may even have to wait for a runoff election in December if things are really close.

Of course if Republicans hold a majority in the House and the Senate, one problem to deal with is the fact that Mitch McConnell will almost certainly be Senate Majority Leader. Senator McConnell has repeatedly proved himself to not be an ally of the handful of Republican senators who have been consistently advocating for conservative principles, and so it will be interesting to see if he changes his tune for the better, or if he will need to be replaced before 2016.

There are also a heap of Gubernatorial races today, state legislature elections, and a heap of ballot initiatives. A few of them are of interest to me, and I’ll update you on some of them later in the day. I hope that the number of conservative Republican governors grows (20 of the 36 Republicans running in a Gubernatorial race are the incumbent), as most have been proving themselves to be great models of good and successful governing, and it would be wonderful to see this grow before 2016 and help to influence the way people vote for President next time around.

In particular I would like to single out Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin who has, in conjunction with the legislature, turned a basket case economy around in to a good strong economy, brought the budget back to surplus and and paid off a lot of the debt which the state government held before he took office. Things are much better in Wisconsin now, and I hope Governor Walker is re-elected, and serves as a model for future people in government at all levels.

Dan Bongino is another candidate of interest. He is running for a Congressional seat in Maryland. He previously worked as a Secret Service agent protecting both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, and claims this gave him an insight in to the problems with the way power is exercised. He is running on conservative principles and I think would make an excellent Congressman. I wish him all the best of luck.

My best wishes go out to all conservative candidates in all races across the country. It is my sincere hope that as many win as possible, Obama’s destructive policies are stopped in their tracks as a result, and this election serves as a good start for a return to government by conservative principles, limited in size and interference in private matters, and consequently working almost exclusively on core functions, and in so doing making it easier for people to make their own choices without needing approval from government to run their own lives and businesses.

It is an exciting day.

Currently I am listening to Mark Levin’s radio show (there are a gazillion stations taking his show if you want to search for one and join me…I won’t link to the one I’m listening via because it’s supposed to be geoblocked and I shouldn’t be able to hear it here, but there are plenty of stations which aren’t geoblocked). Mark will be covering many of the results as they come in, and after 1pm Canberra time when his show finishes, I plan on jumping across to Salem Radio Network’s election night coverage anchored by Hugh Hewitt (probably via WNYM AM 970 The Answer in New York), and possibly I might listen to a bit of Glenn Beck’s coverage or even Fox News Radio’s coverage. All are good options.

Samuel

November 5th, 2014 at 10:50am

On the passing of Gough Whitlam

Former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam passed away this morning at the age of 98.

I was sad to hear of Mr. Whitlam’s passing.

I respect greatly the fact that he was an effective agent for change as it is hard to cause societal change, especially on the scale he did, and he reinvigorated interest in the political and legislative processes to the point of inspiring people to enter the political fray on all sides, not just that of Labor.

I respect Mr. Whitlam for these reasons even though I disagree with almost everything he did politically, and while I would gladly undo much of what he did if I had the opportunity, it is worthy of respect and a testament to his impact on the nation that most of his changes live on in some form many decades after he left political office.

Mr. Whitlam’s place in Australian history will not be forgotten. May he rest in peace, and his family grieve in peace and dignity.

Samuel

1 comment October 21st, 2014 at 10:06am

Hume and Pacific Highway speed limits may rise, and so they should

Back in February I noted that the Northern Territory was trialling an open speed limit on a 200km stretch of road, and that this is a good idea which will hopefully lead to speed limits in other places being reconsidered. Today there is news that the NSW government is considering increasing some speed limits as an effect of the successful trial in the Northern Territory.

The NSW government has nominated the Hume and Pacific highways as major roads where it could raise the speed limit from 110km/h to 120km/h.
[..]
The government will also monitor the progress of a controversial open speed trial in the Northern Territory before deciding whether to permanently raise highway speed limits in NSW.

With a safer roads network and increasing active and passive safety technology in new cars, [Roads Minister Duncan] Gay said, the government would consider introducing the legislation to parallel highway policies in European countries, where the posted speed limits are typically higher than in Australia and in many cases the road toll is lower.
[..]
Fairfax Media has been told the Northern Territory open speed trial, which at present applies to a 200 kilometre stretch of the Stuart Highway north of Alice Springs, has not resulted in a single serious injury or fatality since it began on February 1.

(h/t Sam Hall, Drive.com.au)

120km/h is a start, but 130km/h would be a better option for most of the Hume Highway and much of the Pacific Highway. The Federal Highway would be a suitable road for a 120km/h limit with 110km/h remaining in place around the intersections at Collector.

It seems that Duncan Gay has a bunch of pressure groups ignoring evidence such as the NT trial and bombarding him with “speed = bad” arguments (there’s an example in that article) so it might be prudent to start with a small increase and then continue after it proves to be successful. It’s an annoying way to have to do it, but it might prove to be the only politically viable option. Regardless, it is true that on roads which are safe enough, allowing some extra speed leads to more alert and responsive drivers, so I congratulate Duncan Gay on starting the inevitably long and drawn out process of increasing speed limits.

Samuel

August 9th, 2014 at 09:40am

Reaction to the racist rant shows the law is unnecessary

The lady who gained national attention earlier this year for a racist rant on a train has been given a sensible sentence by the courts: no fine and no recorded conviction. Unfortunately she has been placed on a good behaviour bond, but I suspect Magistrate Teresa O’Sullivan did this only because Karen Bailey pleaded guilty to using offensive language, and failing to hand her some sort of punishment would have led to an appeal in front of a judge with less sense when it comes to matters of freedom of speech.

The real travesty here is that there is a law which makes her racist rant illegal. This law is entirely unnecessary as, apart from anything else, public reaction on the train where other people used their own freedom of speech to counter her absurd rant was enough to eventually shut her down. The public humiliation which followed when footage turned up online and on television was further punishment for her, as her court statements show.

Karen Bailey, 55, pleaded guilty to offensive language in the Downing Centre Local Court today and told Magistrate Teresa O’Sullivan she was “absolutely appalled” at her behaviour.
[..]
She had written a letter of apology to the court

(h/t Amy Dale, The Daily Telegraph)

Both the on-train reaction and the public airing of her rant and accompanying condemnation were exercises of freedom of speech, and proved the best defence against absurd uses of free speech is more use of free speech. Laws prohibiting certain types of speech inhibit this ability of a society to self-moderate, and worse still if such laws do reduce the amount of absurd speech, we end up in a situation where some groups don’t hear regular reminders that society doesn’t accept certain views, and can become radicalised in those views because they believe such views are widespread but silenced…at least when such views are intermittently aired and reacted to, people holding such views understand how these views are seen by society.

Unfortunately there are bigger issues with a lack of freedom of speech in Australia as, right now, there is a court order which can not be mentioned either by content or name (even writing this is skirting on the edge of the law) and we have to rely on foreign press to mention it as domestic media and citizens would be in contempt of court if they mention it. That law is a true disgrace as, while it is reasonable for a court to prevent some details from being mentioned while the court proceedings are in progress, the prevention of noting that such a court order exists is a sure fire way to diminish trust (which is dependent on relative transparency) in the courts.

Freedom of speech, while never enshrined in law in this country, really is in trouble while we have all of these restrictive laws in place.

Samuel

2 comments July 31st, 2014 at 06:30pm

If governments didn’t stick their noses in where they don’t belong, this sort of thing probably wouldn’t happen

If the facts are as stated (and that is for a court to decide), then what happened is inexcusable and I don’t seek to excuse it.

A Department of Environment and Heritage worker is believed to have been shot dead while attending a property 55 kilometres north of Moree.
[..]
A source at the department said the worker had been serving a notice on an elderly man at the property when he was shot.
The man was receiving the notice because he was suspected of illegally clearing vegetation.

(h/t Eryk Bagshaw, The Sydney Morning Herald)

There are calls for better protections for “frontline workers” in the wake of this incident, and that is fair enough, but something else which should be considered is that none of this would have happened if the government wasn’t interfering with how people run their own land. If people wish to clear land which they own, then the government should not be in a position to stop them. It is not as if the NSW Government, in particular, has been a beacon of great sense with such interference either as they are the people who refused to let people make fire breaks on their own land…land which burned as a result.

If governments wish to dictate how land is managed, then the government should take ownership of such land after (and only after) providing reasonable compensation. The NSW Government, thanks to laws (The Native Vegetation Act — Thanks Jim Ball) passed by Bob Carr’s government, are not required to provide any compensation and, as a result, seem to think they can dictate to all and sundry about how land should be managed, despite their own dismal record.

Samuel

July 30th, 2014 at 02:12pm

The real march is the conservative one at the polls today, not the kooky one outside Federal Parliament on Monday

Voters in Tasmania and South Australia go to the polls today for their respective state elections, and the opinion polls indicate that conservatives are likely to win which would put conservative governments (or right-of-centre at least…I struggle to characterise the Victorian government as “conservative” although they are “to the right”) in power in every state, territory, and federal government in the country except for the Australian Capital Territory. Meanwhile, not surprisingly within the ACT, there is going to be a protest march against the conservative federal government on Monday, which is going by the name of “March in March”.

State elections are not generally fought on federal issues, but federal issues have an impact. It is fair to say that after Kevin Rudd and Labor took power federally in 2007 and all of the state and territory governments also went to Labor around the same time, the Liberal Party brand was on the nose and that was largely due to federal issues. The same thing appears to be happening now, just the other way around, and even Labor Party “elders” agree.

LABOR Party elders are calling for the party to embark on a new debate about key values to restore its economic credibility, as it faces the possibility of wall-to-wall state Coalition governments in its darkest electoral days since the defeat of Gough Whitlam in 1975.

(h/t Sid Maher and Mark Coultan, The Australian)

On that point there is an issue which has damaged Labor at all levels: reckless spending. Federal Labor did the most damage with it and dragged down their state and territory counterparts, but the state and territory Labor governments did it on a smaller scale and reinforced the image of irresponsibility.

The Liberal Party should win in South Australia today. Newspoll yesterday had the Liberal Party ahead of Labor 53-47 on a two-party-preferred basis. With a number as close as that, it’s possible that the Liberals might win the most seats but not take an outright majority, but the numbers look pretty good for a majority government.

In Tasmania the margin is much bigger. Liberal 53%, Labor 23%, Greens 16%, Palmer United 4%. This easily creates a two-party-preferred figure around 55% for the Liberal Party. Oddly enough though, Tasmania has the same curse of an electoral system as the ACT (Hare Clark) and numbers like that can very easily lead to nobody having an outright majority and Labor/Greens together having enough seats to form government. The margin should be large enough to avoid that, but Hare Clark is an awful electoral system which delivers results which quite often have very little to do with the intention of the way people voted.

The mood across the nation is clearly a pro-conservative and anti-left-wing one, but trust the ACT to supply many of the people who will attend the “March In March” on Monday, where people will express their “no confidence” in the conservative federal government. They seem to be lacking confidence in the federal government on three main topics:
1) Gonski school reforms
2) Illegal immigration and social justice
3) Climate change

Well, on the first point, objective evidence from around the world shows clearly that centralised control of education of the type Gonski proposed results in worse educational outcomes than school which have general autonomy over curriculum and staffing. On the 2nd point, under this government there have been no illegal boat arrivals in about three months, with only one death which actually didn’t happen at sea but in a detention centre, whereas under the previous government our shores and maritime authorities were being overrun by illegal arrivals and multiple people were dying at sea each week and often each day. And on the third point, the planet has not warmed in nearly 20 years, and the theory of man-made global warming caused by carbon dioxide has been proven to be a complete and utter nonsense, and yet these people who will march on Monday want the federal government to tax people’s carbon dioxide emissions to stop warming which isn’t happening, ignoring the fact that carbon dioxide is an important part of life on this planet.

It’s quite clear where the real march is and the real mood of the Australian public is. It’s in a conservative direction, in the direction truth and sensible government and government keeping out of people’s lives as much as possible. The people on Monday can march and get media attention to their heart’s content…and make a dumb spectacle of themselves in the eyes of the sensible majority of conservative Australians.

Good luck to the voters of South Australia and Tasmania today. May your votes be good, and the outcomes match your votes.

Samuel

March 15th, 2014 at 09:13am

The need to explain your reason for wanting a gun quashed in California

See, I turn up in the US and almost immediately the place has more freedom.

SAN FRANCISCO — A divided federal appeals court on Thursday struck down California’s concealed weapons rules, saying they violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

By a 2-1 vote, the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said California was wrong to require applicants to show good cause to receive a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
[..]
Awarding concealed weapon permits is the responsibility of each of California’s 58 counties. Officials are required to follow the state rules requiring applicants to show good cause and moral character.

The San Francisco-based appeals court said those requirements were too strict and ran afoul of a 5-4 landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2008 that struck down a Washington, D.C., handgun ban and said law-abiding citizens are allowed to have handguns in their home for self-defense.

(h/t Paul Elias, AP, via the Sacrememto Bee)

I expect this one will end up in the Supreme Court, but as it’s in line with previous Supreme Court decision I expect the ruling will stand…and so it should. Being a law-abiding citizen is a reasonable prerequisite for a concealed carry permit, but having to explain yourself to a bureaucrat who can make an arbitrary decision as to whether or not they like your reason…that’s just nuts.

Samuel

February 14th, 2014 at 09:37am

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