Posts filed under 'Samuel’s Editorials'

On freedom of speech and section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act: if it’s broken and you look away, it’s still broken

Tony Abbott’s decision last year to abandon proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act whereby the silly and restrictive section 18C was to be removed, was a disgrace in my view, and an absolute betrayal of the mainly conservative voters who trusted him ensure that freedom of speech, a cornerstone of any free society, was protected.

So it was with a small amount of pleasure in recent days that I saw something good come out of the awful terrorist attack on satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo…the calls to scrap this section of the law were renewed, mainly because it is quite clear that the magazine would almost certainly be in contravention of this section of the law if it was an Australian publication. Simon Breheny from the Institute of Public Affairs summed this up very well the other day:

Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) makes it unlawful to “offend, insult humiliate or intimidate” a person on the grounds of “race, colour or national or ethnic origin”. Section 18C was the provision used against News Corp Australia journalist Andrew Bolt in 2011 for two columns he had published in 2009.

“This week leaders from around the world have united to defend the right of publications like Charlie Hebdo to publish content that is offensive to some,” says Mr Breheny.

“But a publication such as Charlie Hebdo would struggle to survive in Australia, due to laws that censor offensive, insulting, humiliating and intimidating speech. Section 18C could be used against the publishers of cartoons that satirise figures based on their race or ethnicity. Content not caught by section 18C would almost certainly be censored by current state religious vilification laws, which are specifically designed to target the kind of content published in Charlie Hebdo.”

“The attack on Charlie Hebdo is an attack on freedom of expression. And as Prime Minister Tony Abbott rightly noted in response to this atrocity, ‘Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of a free society.'”

For a little while there I thought there was some hope that sanity would prevail, and the silly idea to abandon the plan to repeal section 18C would be washed away by a renewed effort to enshrine freedom of speech in law, in an effort to show that we won’t kowtow to attempts by terrorists to intimidate us in to silence. Alas, instead, I found myself screaming at the radio yesterday when clips of Tony Abbott being interviewed on 3AW were played.

“I would prefer that 18c were not in its current terms but we made an attempt to amend it, it was obvious that that attempt to amend it was generating a lot of division in the community,” he said.

“The government made the decision not to proceed with it at this time and that remains the government’s position.”

(h/t Latika Bourke, Sydney Morning Herald)

Well that’s just silly Tony. The main reason for abandoning the changes was a perception that it was upsetting the Muslim community. Since the atrocities in France last week, the Muslim community and pretty much every other group which appeared to oppose the repeal of 18C have come out in support of freedom of speech, and in particular the type of speech which Charlie Hebdo published…this amounts to supporting the repeal of 18C. To not take advantage of this rare solidarity in favour of freedom of speech is either a boneheaded decision, or indicative of some other agenda…I honestly don’t know which one I’d prefer it to be. On the one hand one doesn’t want boneheaded decisions from governments (but they’re not uncommon), but on the other it can be very difficult to trust a government which has hidden and unknown motives.

But Tony wasn’t done.

Mr Abbott made his pledge [to repeal section 18C] after the laws were successfully used against News Corporation commentator Andrew Bolt in 2011 after he claimed a group of prominent Aborigines used their skin colour to seek professional advantages.

The Prime Minister said the Andrew Bolt prosecution was an “aberration”.

“I don’t believe that we are likely to see an Andrew Bolt prosecution again. If we do, let’s rethink things,” he said.

(h/t Latika Bourke, Sydney Morning Herald)

This is what really had me screaming at the radio. The law is broken and people who oppose freedom of speech know that it can be used to silence people who say things which offend anyone. Everyone in the country knows this law is an assault on freedom of speech (even if some would characterise it as some sort of necessary protection), and there is an opportunity to fix it right now. This is a rare opportunity which probably won’t last for long. It is inevitable that somebody will offend somebody else at some stage in the future and end up being silence by a court under this law…it might not be as high-profile a case as Andrew Bolt’s case, but it will happen. There is an opportunity to prevent this travesty of justice from happening, but it seems that Tony Abbott is comfortable to let it happen and only consider fixing it after the damage is done once again.

Ignoring a broken law will not magically fix the law.

Tony Abbott’s promise to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act was one of the core reasons for him having my full support, and was more important to me than some of the policies with which I took issue (such as Paid Parental Leave and Direct Action when Tony knows as well as I do that global warming does not require a government response). While I’m pleased with the work on stopping the flood of illegal immigrants and am seeing some slow progress on repairing the budget, I feel very betrayed by this unwillingness to do the right thing and follow through on the common-sense promise to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

This sort of betrayal makes small parties look appealing. Perhaps Tony Abbott should think about that before he next complains about his policies being obstructed by the small cross-bench parties.

Samuel

1 comment January 15th, 2015 at 10:06am

Islamic terrorists kill a dozen in France; the hesitation to call them terrorists helps the terrorist cause

Islamic terrorists struck a satirical newspaper in France killing a dozen people. The newspaper in question had not been afraid to call describe Islamic terrorists as terrorists, and to comment on their actions, and was probably targeted because of this…they’ve certainly received plenty of threats in the past.

The “Religion of Peace” struck again today against the West, this time in the heart of France, which has more Muslims per capita than any other E.U. nation.

Black-clad gunmen stormed the Paris offices of a satirical newspaper known for lampooning Islamic radicals early Wednesday, killing 12 and injuring as many as 15 before escaping, French officials said..

As many as three Kalashnikov-toting shooters were being sought after the attack at Charlie Hebdo, the newspaper known for challenging Muslim terrorists with a 2011 caricature of Prophet Mohammed on its cover and which recently tweeted a cartoon of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Two policemen and several journalists were among the dead.

“We’ve avenged the honor of the prophet!” the killers shouted, according to witnesses who spoke to Sky News.

Stunning video shows the gunmen brazenly strolling down a Paris sidestreet with their AK-47s shouting “Allahu Akbar”, opening fire on a policeman, then as he lies on the ground, finishing him off with a head shot.

(h/t Brian Hayes, Top Right News)

Update 10:49am: YouTube have removed the video previously posted here via Top Right News. Dar0s Studios posted a more graphic version of the video on Facebook which is now included below, replacing the previous YouTube video. Thanks to Casey Hendrickson for the link. End Update
Content Warning: graphic uncensored terrorist violence

Amazingly it seems that the reaction from French police was hindered by the fact that many police there choose to not be armed!

Several Paris police officers who came into contact with the armed terrorists who slaughtered 10 journalists at the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine, retreated from the gunmen because they were unarmed, according to an eyewitness.
[..]
Paris police officers have the option of carrying firearms, though many choose not to.

(h/t Chuck Ross, The Daily Caller)

There are places where general duties police officers are not allowed to carry a gun, and that is mystifying enough…but for a law enforcement officer to choose to not be armed despite being the front line of law and order and consequently being a target of any armed nutter…I can’t comprehend the logic in that decision.

Meanwhile, sadly, it seems that once again certain countries which should be showing strong leadership against such brutal terrorist acts, are once again showing ineptitude.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest made multiple media appearances this morning across many hours, all of which were after French President Francois Hollande called this event an act of terrorism, and for hours Mr. Earnest refused to call it an act of terrorism. He finally, hours later, changed his mind when he appeared on Fox News, but then couldn’t provide any reasonable explanation as to why he’d changed his mind, and why he’d previously spent so long refusing to call it terrorism.

“As you rightly point out, the French president called this a terrorist attack, without a doubt. Last hour, you called them perpetrators. I’m trying to figure out why the language changed,” Fox’s Bill Hemmer told Earnest. “Did you get different information, are you characterizing in a different way, Josh? What is it?”

“What we’re seeing here is an event that just occurred a couple hours ago,” Earnest said “We’re still learning details exactly what happened. But what is clear this is an act much violence, an act of terrorism, that we condemn in the strongest possible terms and we’re going to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies in France.”

(h/t Al Weaver, The Daily caller)

The French are still learning details too, but it didn’t take them hours to figure out the basic facts of what happened.

Unfortunately this is all too common with this White House. Many-a-time they have refused to call a terrorist attack a terrorist attack, with probably the most egregious example being when they lied through their teeth about who attacked the US Consulate in Benghazi, and why they did it, blaming the incident on an anti-Islamic video that had absolutely nothing to do with it, when the attack was actually the work of Al Qaeda.

I’m not blaming Barack Obama or his administration for today’s terrorist attack in France, but I will say that it is just another example of how his weak foreign policy and weak responses to terrorist attacks of this type help to foster an environment where terrorists feel freer to roam and do their dastardly deeds, as they know it is unlikely they will be brought to account for their actions, especially when so many countries wait for their lead from the US before doing anything themselves.

Samuel

3 comments January 8th, 2015 at 04:46am

If the Republicans want to regain the trust of their conservative base, dumping Speaker Boehner would be a good start

Update 5:57am: Boehner has been re-elected as Speaker, which is a shame as I doubt even the scare of discontent among conservatives will be enough to make him work towards more conservative ends. End update

The Republicans won a majority in both the House and Senate at last year’s mid-term election, not because they necessarily stood for certain actions or programs or initiatives (with the exception of some local candidates, as a whole they stood for no new actions), but rather because the voters want someone to stop or at least slow Obama down.

Unfortunately, shortly after winning this majority of both houses of Congress, the remaining Republicans in the lame-duck session of the Congress late last year sided with the Democrats to pass a full-year funding measure which does nothing to slow Obama, and in fact helps him as it makes it easier for him to bypass congress with executive actions on things such as amnesty for illegal immigrants. This was a clear betrayal of the people who voted for Republicans last year who expected Republicans to pass a short-term spending bill which would put the next spending bill under the control of this congress which has a Republican majority in both houses and barely needs to worry about appeasing Democrats, and thus would allow for defunding of programs which Republicans (and their voters) oppose.

Sadly, this was par for the course for much of the Republican leadership, especially Speaker Of The House John Boehner.

The good news is that the new House must elect a speaker, and John Boehner faces serious challenges, such as conservative Louie Gohmert.

Texas Republican Louie Gohmert announced Sunday morning on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” that he would throw his hat into the ring, saying he’s officially a candidate for the speaker gig.

Gohmert’s announcement comes as Boehner’s approval from conservative voters sags.

Gohmert’s office also sent a statement to TheBlaze[..]
***
After the November elections gave Republicans control of the Senate, voters made clear they wanted change. There have been numerous examples of problematic Republican leadership, but we were hopeful our leaders got the voters’ message. However, after our Speaker forced through the CRomnibus by passing it with Democratic votes and without time to read it, it seemed clear that we needed new leadership. There had been much discussion. But, until yesterday, no one had stepped up.

I applaud my friend Rep. Ted Yoho for putting his name forward as an alternative to the status quo. Ted is a good man for whom I could vote, but I have heard from many supporters and also friends in Congress who have urged me to put forward my name for Speaker as well to increase our chances of change. That is why I am also offering my name as a candidate for Speaker.
[..]
At this point, the Speaker’s election is not about a particular candidate. It is about whether we keep the status quo or make the change the country demands. I am putting forward my name for consideration as Speaker and hope that with a new Speaker, be that me or someone else, we can fight for the ideals and principles that the voters wanted when they elected us in November.
***
In TheBlaze’s Saturday poll on who should be the House Speaker, Gohmert snagged 16 percent of the vote, putting him firmly at No. 2 on the seven-person list.

TheBlaze readers’ favorite pick among the options provided: South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy, whose nearly 10,000 votes gave him 70 percent of the poll participants.

(h/t Zach Noble, The Blaze)

Today we have confirmation that the moves to dump Speaker Boehner and respect the wishes of the electorate are growing, seemingly to the amazement of Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill:

A bloc of at least 15 conservative lawmakers will vote Tuesday to deny John Boehner a third term as Speaker[..]
The incumbent Speaker, who is facing long-shot challenges from two Tea Party favorites — Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) — needs support from a simple majority of the lawmakers present to secure another two years as the House leader.

That magic number won’t be known until the vote, given a number of absences. Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) will miss the vote as he undergoes medical treatment. A number of New York Democrats will be attending a funeral of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo. And the inclement weather could delay some lawmakers trying to make their way to Washington.

(h/t Scott Wong, The Hill)

It will be an interesting vote in Washington, and without wanting to overstate the case, I think dumping John Boehner as speaker is not only the right thing to do, but could be crucial if there is to be a good chance of a conservative Republican elected to the White House in 2016, as failing to dump Speaker Boehner will make it very difficult to show the public clear differences between Republicans and Democrats at election time.

Samuel

January 7th, 2015 at 04:58am

ACT Government considering a tax on something already funded by a tax

The ACT Government is considering implementing a “container deposit scheme” which would add 10 cents to the cost of drinks sold in recyclable containers such as plastic bottles or in cans. The idea is pretty simple: ten cents is added to the cost of the drink, and you (or anybody else) can redeem the ten cents if you return the container to a special recycling location…although The Canberra Times has a much more convoluted way of describing it which almost excludes the consumer from funding it and instead makes it sound like consumers profit from it:

ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell says Canberra would probably follow NSW into a scheme that paid people 10 cents a pop to return cans and other drinks containers.

Container deposit schemes are industry funded – paid for through a levy on the cost of drinks – and have been strongly opposed by the big drinks manufacturers and by some states, with attempts to develop a national scheme failing.

(h/t Kirsten Lawson, The Canberra Times)

It pays people to return drink containers? Ummm, not quite…it returns the money which was already paid by the customer.

It’s industry funded? Well, if we ignore the consumer-funded levy for a moment, from an administrative standpoint that might be true as it costs money to administer such a scheme and if the entire ten cent levy is being returned to the customer when the container is returned, then the administration costs have to come from elsewhere, and obviously it will come from the drink manufacturers. It fits in well with the saying “a fine is a tax for doing something wrong, and a tax is a fine for doing something right”.

It could be argued that not everyone will return drink containers to the special recycling centres, and the levy from those containers could fund the administrative costs…but alas, as per the proposed NSW scheme which the ACT wants to follow:

Containers could also be recycled as usual in household recycling but in that case the council would redeem them and get the refund.

(h/t Kirsten Lawson, The Canberra Times)

ACT taxpayers (and NSW ratepayers for that matter) already pay for recycling services which handle such drink containers, so all this does is tax them a further ten cents per container for a service which they’re already paying, unless they choose to go out of their way by taking the drink containers to special locations in which case they get their ten cents back, but the drink manufacturers still have administrative costs which they will undoubtedly add to the cost of drinks.

This scheme is allegedly designed to improve recycling rates and reduce the amount of recyclable materials going to landfill, but there are two big problems with it.
1. The latest recycling statistics available from the ACT Government’s website suggest that 75% of recyclable materials are being recycled (as of 2010/2011, an increase of 4% of 2009/2010), and this rate is increasing year-on-year. The vast majority of people are already recycling such materials, and this scheme punishes them for “doing the right thing” unless they go out of their way to do so in specific locations.
2. Other items can still be recycled through standard domestic household recycling services at no extra cost, so even if 100% of drink containers are recycled through the new scheme, trucks will need to continue with their existing suburban runs to deal with other recyclables. When this is added to the number of individuals making trips to these new recycling locations with their drink bottles, and (in the case of NSW’s proposed “reverse vending machines” in public locations) the extra trips by trucks transporting the bottles from the “reverse vending machines” to the recycling depot, what we have is a much less efficient recycling scheme in terms of the number of vehicle trips required to deal with the transportation of recyclable materials.

These container deposit schemes made sense at a time when recycling schemes were new and an incentive such as “have your levy back” helped to educate people to recycle, but at a time when three quarters (and increasing) of recyclable material is being recycled, this is an inefficient scheme which places an unnecessary impost on drink manufacturers, and punishes people for doing what, up until now, governments have insisted is the right thing to do.

Samuel

3 comments January 6th, 2015 at 03:57am

Government-run terrorism insurance scheme’s unintended consequences are hampering businesses

The Sydney Morning Herald had an interesting story this morning about a federal government scheme which is designed to take over from insurance companies in the event of a terrorist incident.

Sydney retailers whose earnings were slashed by up to 70 per cent during the Martin Place siege face smaller insurance payouts if the siege is deemed a terrorism event, because a government body will step in to curb insurers’ losses.
[..]
Under legislation passed following the September 11 attacks in America, the federal Treasurer can declare certain events to be acts of terrorism for insurance purposes.

In those circumstances a federally funded body, the Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation, can step in to assess the likely loss from the incident and, where necessary, reduce the scope of claim liability for insurers. The aim of the arrangement is to shield insurers from catastrophic losses and thus ensure they continue to offer the products.

(h/t Mathew Dunckley and Lisa Visentin, The Sydney Morning Herald)

The article goes on to quote a spokesperson from IAG who says the federal government’s decision, regardless of the decision, is unlikely to affect how IAG pays out claims for loss of trade, but completely ignores something which came up on 2GB this morning…the federal government scheme is designed to insure for loss of buildings and does not cover loss of trade, but is set up in such a way that it can effectively nullify any need for insurers to pay out any claims if the incident is declared to be an act of terrorism. This is currently delaying the processing of claims with some insurers as they wait to see if they will need to pay anything, and has the potential to leave some businesses seriously out of pocket despite paying for insurance for exactly this type of event.

It’s just another example of how governments interfering with private business arrangements often leads to all sorts of unintended consequences, partially because governments rarely understand the private sector well enough to write rules which work, partially because governments take time to process things which cause debilitating delays to the private sector which doesn’t have the benefit of ongoing funding from taxpayers, and also because such rules are so often filled with easily exploited loopholes which bureaucrats often can’t anticipate because they’re not familiar with life outside the public sector.

I wrote an email to 2GB’s Luke Grant (who is currently filling in for Ray Hadley and Chris Smith across the middle of the day) about this shortly after he conducted an interview (from memory I think it was with Russell Zimmerman from the Australian Retailers Association, Update: It was, and audio of the interview is on 2GB’s website End Update) on the topic.

Good morning Luke,

This terrorism insurance debacle is a perfect example of the unintended consequences which occur when a well-intentioned government interferes with private business dealings.

It’s amazing that with so many bureaucrats writing the rules, government terrorism insurance for building loss can somehow nullify private “loss of trade” insurance, and nobody in government sees the problem. Unfortunately it’s all too common that bureaucrats who live in government land rather than the real world cause such a mess, and of course the private insurers don’t oppose the measures when the government makes them because they can see just how much money they’ll save.

It’s a mess which would never occur if governments kept their noses out rather than interfering with every little thing.

Regards,
Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Canberra, Australia

In this case the good intention of the government was to ensure insurance companies don’t go under while trying to pay out terrorism-related claims. Unfortunately, as is usually the case with such bailout type programs, it ignores the simple economic fact that if a product can’t be offered viably at a price which people will pay, it probably shouldn’t exist, and certainly shouldn’t rely on some magical fallback position of a government bailout from finite taxpayer funds. Sadly it seems that far too many people and industries see the government as a magic pot of infinite money and forget that government money only exists because it is legally confiscated from people via taxation, and thus should be treated with more respect and not expected to be a magical fix for every ill.

Samuel

January 5th, 2015 at 12:49pm

US Midterm Elections: the early washup

Counting is still going but the overall results are a certainty. Republicans now have control of the House and Senate, effectively stopping Obama’s awful agenda where it is. Some efforts might be made to wind back some of Obama’s policies but while he still has the power to veto legislation, there probably won’t be much progress on returning the US federal government to conservative governing principles…that might have to wait until after 2016. In fact, I think you will see the next two years on both sides being more about what they plan to do after 2016 rather than what they plan to do before the Presidential election.

Republicans have increased their Senate stake, taking up to nine of the seats which belonged to Democrats. It’s not a filibuster-proof majority, but (detestable) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Democrat-Nevada) got around not having a filibuster-proof majority by perverting the rules of the Senate. It will be interesting to see if Republicans follow his lead (I hope not) or uphold the rules even if it slows them down.

The Republican majority in the House has increased by more than anyone realistically expected.

Currently the Senate has Republicans 52 to Democrats 45. An easy locked-in majority for the Republicans with three seats still to decide.

Currently the House has Republicans 233 to Democrats 159. A locked-in majority with 43 seats left to decide.

Republicans have gained multiple Governorships, including two states which are traditionally hostile territory for them: Massachusetts and Illinois. On the subject of Governorships, Jan Brewer was not able to run for Arizona Governor again due to a term limit. Her successor Doug Ducey easily defeated the Democrat challenger Fred DuVal, currently 54% to 41%. Keep an eye out for Jan Brewer on the national stage.

Maryland is another difficult state for Republicans, but they have taken out the Governorship, with the “rain tax” imposed by Democrats being one of the major issues there. Larry Hogan is currently leading Anthony Brown 52% to 46% late in the count.

The one incumbent Republican (of the eight House seats in Maryland) Andy Harris utterly obliterated his Democrat opponent 71% to 29%, while six of the other seats have stayed with Democrats easily (showing how hard this area is for Republicans to win) while in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, Dan Bongino is maintaining a 2% lead over Democrat incumbent John Delaney with 14% of the count to go. It will be tight, but Dan is putting up a very good fight.

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, one of the great examples of good conservative leadership, won easily as well, currently leading 53% to 46% very late in the count.

Before I bring up a race in Virginia, I have to bring up the fact that I made the mistake of turning on ABC News 24 for a few minutes earlier when they were discussing the US midterm elections. Their analyst made the odd statement that ‘the Tea Party has really been sidelined in this election’, and then went on to talk about how Republicans have won so much because of their conservative, small-government, constitutional message. Given that is the definition of the Tea Party, one wonders what he thinks the Tea Party is?

I bring this up because in Virginia back in the Primaries, Dave Brat managed to oust then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor as the Republican candidate for Virginia’s 7th House District. Dave Brat today defeated Democrat challenger Jack Trammell in a landslide, 61% to 37%.

Elsewhere there is mixed news out of California. Democrat Governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown (who has helped to create a man-made drought across the rural parts of that state) has defeated his Republican challenger Neel Kashkari, currently leading 57% to 43% with 29% counted.

There is some good news from California though. Sandra Fluke, the peculiar woman who made headlines a couple years ago when she effectively demanded that society as a whole should pay for her birth control measures and was subsequently called a “slut” by Rush Limbaugh, has lost her bid to get in to the state Senate…the bad news though is that she was one of two Democrat candidates without any other challengers, so the victor was another Democrat. Currently Ben Allan is leading Sandra Fluke 63.3% to 36.7%.

There were a heap of ballot initiatives around as well. I’ll have a look through some of them and point out some of the more interesting ones in a future post.

Overall it looks like a fantastic day for Republicans and conservatives…but more importantly for the American people and the world. At long last, after six years of Obama, Congress is finally in a position where there is a willingness to keep the executive branch in check. It is probably safe to say that the days of Obama’s executive overreach are over. Unfortunately it will take longer to undo the effects of his disastrous policies, but at least he won’t be able to get many more (if any) of his wishes through the Congress. Alas it might take until 2016 to get some real momentum on fixing the country.

Still, a very good day with a very good outcome. I’ll have more on this tomorrow.

Samuel

November 5th, 2014 at 05:24pm

Two big Republican Gubernatorial victories

Massachusetts, a fairly left-leaning state, has gone to the Republicans. Charlie Baker has defeated Democrat Martha Coakley. Currently leading 48% to 47% with 82% counted and most of the rest of the count being fairly safe Republican ground. Safe enough for media outlets to be willing to call it.

Illinois, home state of Barack Obama, has gone to the Republicans. Bruce Rauner is leading incumbent Democrat Governor Pat Quinn 51% to 46% with 85% counted.

Samuel

November 5th, 2014 at 03:54pm

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

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