Archive for January, 2009

Results for the Republican National Committee Election: Michael Steele Wins

January 30, 2009

Michael Steele has just won the race for Republican National Committee Chairman.

The votes were as follows:

Mike Duncan: 52 votes
Michael Steele: 46 votes
Katon Dawson: 28 votes
Saul Anuzis: 22 votes
Ken Blackwell: 20 votes

2nd round (numbers in parenthesis indicate: votes gained or lost from last round / votes gained or lost since first round):

Mike Duncan: 48 votes (-3/-3)
Michael Steele: 48 votes (+2/+2)
Katon Dawson: 29 votes (+1/+1)
Saul Anuzis: 24 votes (+2/+2)
Ken Blackwell: 19 votes (-1/-1)

3rd round:

Mike Duncan: 44 votes (-4/-8)
Michael Steele: 51 votes (+3/+5)
Katon Dawson: 34 votes (+5/+6)
Saul Anuzis: 24 votes (0/+2)
Ken Blackwell: 15 votes (-4/-5)

Mike Duncan dropped out.

4th round of voting:

Mike Duncan: (-44/-52)
Michael Steele: 60 votes (+9/+14)
Katon Dawson: 62 votes (+28/+34)
Saul Anuzis:  31 votes (+7/+9)
Ken Blackwell: 15 votes (0/-5)

Blackwell dropped out and endorsed Steele.

5th round of voting:

Mike Duncan: (-/-52)
Michael Steele: 79 votes (+19/+33)
Katon Dawson:  69 votes (+7/+41)
Saul Anuzis:  20 votes (-11/-2)
Ken Blackwell: (-15/-20)

Anuzis dropped out:

Mike Duncan: (-/-52)
Michael Steele: 91 votes (+12/+45)
Katon Dawson:  77 votes (+8/+49)
Saul Anuzis:  (-20/-22)
Ken Blackwell: (-/-20)

Congratulations to Michael Steele, the new chairman of the Republican National Committee!

Here’s a copy of the speech he gave right after he won:

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Live Results of the Republican National Committee Chairman Election

January 30, 2009

I am currently watching the election for Republican National Committee Chairman.  Currently, the RNC members are voting.

UPDATE (11:40 A.M. EST): They are now going up and depositing their ballots (just like “kindergarten graduation” according to the Co-Chair, Jo Ann Davidson, from Ohio).

UPDATE (11:44 A.M. EST): We’re a little over half-way through the ballots being cast.

UPDATE (11:49 A.M. EST): We’re now done with the voting.  The ballots are now being counted.

UPDATE (12:05 P.M. EST): They’re annnouncing the results.

UPDATE (12:09 P.M. EST): Here are the results of the first round of voting:

Mike Duncan: 52 votes
Michael Steele: 46 votes
Katon Dawson: 28 votes
Saul Anuzis: 22 votes
Ken Blackwell: 20 votes

With no candidates having reached 85 votes (a simple majority), another round of voting will occur.  The committee is in a 15 minute recess.

UPDATE (12:33 P.M. EST): Calling the roll again.

UPDATE (12:42 P.M. EST): I lied – they’re voting now.  Almost done casting the ballots.

UPDATE (12:45 P.M. EST): The ballots are now being counted.

UPDATE (12:59 P.M. EST): The following are the results for the second roud of balloting (numbers in parenthesis indicate: votes gained or lost from last round / votes gained or lost since first round):

Mike Duncan: 48 votes (-3/-3)
Michael Steele: 48 votes (+2/+2)
Katon Dawson: 29 votes (+1/+1)
Saul Anuzis: 24 votes (+2/+2)
Ken Blackwell: 19 votes (-1/-1)

UPDATE (1:12 P.M. EST): OK, I guess it’s some time for some analysis.  It’s pretty safe to say (in my opinion) that Duncan is done.  He had to rely on the first couple of rounds to get really close, and he didn’t.  He’ll have a huge drop-off over the next 2 rounds of balloting.  I really don’t know where his people will go, but I’m guessing that  it’ll probably go to Saul Anuzis and Katon Dawson.  Maybe a few will go to Blackwell, but I think people may not “waste” their votes on him since he’s at the bottom right now, but who knows.

UPDATE (1:31 P.M. EST): They just finished the third round of voting and are now counting up the ballots.

UPDATE (1:42 P.M. EST): third round of voting:

Mike Duncan: 44 votes (-4/-8)
Michael Steele: 51 votes (+3/+5)
Katon Dawson: 34 votes (+5/+6)
Saul Anuzis: 24 votes (0/+2)
Ken Blackwell: 15 votes (-1/-5)

Blackwell and Duncan are done.  I’m surprised that more people went for Steele here.  It looks like Anuzis is done, but Dawson could be in this depending on who drops out and when.

UPDATE (1:51 P.M. EST): OK, time for more discussion – I think Blackwell will drop by round 6 of balloting, and that should give Steele enough votes to push him over the edge.  I think Steele’s biggest competition now is Dawson, but I think Steele’s got it.

UPDATE (2:13 P.M. EST): A friend just passed on to me rumors that a deal may be in the works right now.

UPDATE (2:13 P.M. EST): Mike Duncan is speaking – about to drop?

UPDATE (2: 17 P.M. EST): Duncan just dropped out and is now thanking his campaign staff.

UPDATE (2:19 P.M. EST): There was a motion for a recess, but i was voted down by a voice vote.  Voting has now started.

UPDATE (2:22 P.M. EST): Apparently the co-chair had trouble actually getting a ballot from the teller or whoever was passing them out, so there was a little bit of a funny moment just now as she tried to get that.

UPDATE (2:24 P.M. EST): They’re now calling the roll and depositing the ballots in the box.

UPDATE (2:49 P.M. EST): 4th round of voting:

Mike Duncan: (-44/-52)
Michael Steele: 60 votes (+9/+14)
Katon Dawson: 62 votes (+28/+34)
Saul Anuzis: 31 votes (+7/+9)
Ken Blackwell: 15 votes (0/-5)

Wow – I really didn’t expect Dawson to get that many votes.  Steele may NOT have this in the bag yet.  I do expect Blackwell to drop soon, and that may push Steele over the top, but if Blackwell stays in, Dawson may get there first.

UPDATE (2:59 P.M. EST): Blackwell isn’t expected to stay in past the 5th round of balloting, so if he drops 1 round early, and all of his 15 go to Steele, Steele would have it.  If stays in for a while, I think Dawson may get it.

UPDATE (3:01 P.M. EST): Blackwell is about to speak.

UPDATE (3:03 P.M. EST): They found Ken Blackwell (he had been missing), and he IS in fact about to address the committee.

UPDATE (3:09 P.M. EST): “I cannot change … this electorate, nor would I want to.”  He’s talking about us being the party of Lincoln.  He’s talking about choosing the “path of conviction over the path of convenience.”  “I withdraw my name … and put my support fully behind … I believe that the next chairman must inspire hope … create opportunity and must have the leadership opportunity … to first pull us together and then pull Americans together. … Great nations don’t come from governments … but from people. … I put my full support behind Michael Steele.”

OH YEAH BABY!  CALLED IT!

Alright, the voting has now begun.

UPDATE (3:10 P.M. EST): The roll is now being called.

UPDATE (3:26 P.M. EST): Steele is on the phone.

UPDATE (3:35 P.M. EST): 5th round:

Mike Duncan: (-/-52)
Michael Steele: 79 votes (+19/+33)
Katon Dawson:  69 votes (+7/+41)
Saul Anuzis:  20 votes (-11/-2)
Ken Blackwell: (-15/-20

Saul is withdrawing, but no endorsement!  This is gonna get interesting.

UPDATE (3:40 P.M. EST): Alright, time for some analysis.  I honestly think this race is over.  Steele only needs 6 more votes, and Saul had 20 available, so as long as Steele gets 30% of Saul’s supporters, he wins.  I don’t see Dawson winning this one, although he has come a LOT farther than anybody thought, and he has been doing really good in gathering support from dropped candidates.  He’s received no endorsements so far, but he’s gained the most from the first ballot to the current ballot (the second number in the parentheses).  They should be coming back in 3 minutes, so hopefully we’ll have a chair by around 4:00.

UPDATE (3:45 P.M. EST): The Proxy Committee report has been approved and the seargent at arms is distributing the ballots.  This should be the last ballot.

UPDATE (3:47 P.M. EST): You have to figure that Keith Butler (MI) will go for Steele, so that means that Steele would only need 5 additional delegates after Butler.

UPDATE (3:49 P.M. EST): The roll is now being called.  We’re almost half-way through the roll call.

UPDATE (3:58 P.M. EST): The ballots are now being counted.

UPDATE (4:05 P.M. EST): Here are the results of the 6th and final balloting round:

Mike Duncan: (-/-52)
Michael Steele: 91 votes (+12/+45)
Katon Dawson:  77 votes (+8/+49)
Saul Anuzis:  (-20/-22)
Ken Blackwell: (-/-20)

Congratulations to Michael Steele, the new chairman of the Republican National Committee!

UPDATE (4:11 P.M. EST): Steele is now speaking.  He’s saying “it’s time for something different, and we’re going to bring it to them. … We’re going to bring this party … to every community. … To those of you who wish to obstruct, get ready to get knocked over. … I want to thank all of you especially. … I never thought this day would come. … I would like to especially thank my friends in the territories … who will help grow this party in a way that we have never seen before. … To my friends in the Northeast: get ready baby, it’s time to turn it on. … We’re gonna win again in the Northeast.  We’re gonna continue to win in the South.  We’re gonna win in a new storm in the Midwest.  We’re gonna get to the West and lock it down there too. … I cannot do this by myself. … This is about empowering you. … We stand proud, as the conservative party of he United States, and we will work hard to make sure those values … that made us the party of Lincoln … are part of thoe issues. … So, my first official act, as your new chairman, is to end this speech right now, because we have a few more races to do. … God bless you.  God bless our party.  Thank you.”

UPDATE (12:46 A.M. EST 2-1/09): Here’s a video of Michael Steele’s acceptance speech.  It’s a great speech, so take the time to watch it:

And with that, I’m done with my coverage – I have to go drop off a lab report for my physics class!

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Skyrocketing Money Printing Warns of Coming Inflation Disaster

January 30, 2009

I was watching the news earlier today, and Glenn Beck’s show on FOX News came on.  He was talking about the latest figures coming out of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis,  specifically the figures on the monetary base.

Really quick, watch the following videos (or at least watch the first one.  The second one is the first time he showed the chart and isn’t quite as important, but if you have the time, watch both), courtesy of FOX News:

And the secone one

Now, at first I thought, that can’t be right – we can’t have started printing THAT much currency.  So I went to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’s website and started looking around.  And this is what I found.  The following is a chart of currency that’s actually in circulation (as in money that you and me have a chance of touching) (Note: if the chart is too small, click on it and it’ll take you to a full-sized chart):

But I thought, “That’s not the chart that Glenn Beck showed.”  So I did some more digging and found the chart that he showed, the chart tracking the monetary base:

YIKES!  That’s a very different chart from the first one.  And for those of you who don’t understand what the difference between monetary base and currency in circulation is, let me try to explain it.  Currency in circulation is the amount of money that’s going around the public sector, the money that’s floating around in the real world, paying for groceries or whatever.  The monetary base is the currency in circulation + money that’s being kept in a country’s central bank reserve.  In our case, the central bank is the Federal Reserve.  So to figure out how much is in the reserve, you simply have to do this math: monetary base – currency in circulation.  That means that most of that part of the blue line that goes almost straight up is in the Federal Reserve Bank (and there’s several branches throughout the country).  This is where private banks keep some of their money to loan to other banks.

Here’s a chart that shows how much is in the reserves:

Do you see how the  first chart and the last chart add up to the middle chart?  $800 billion-ish + $900 billion-ish gives $17 billion-ish.  Now, where that line starts to skyrocket on the middle and last charts is when the Fed decided to start printing more money and sticking it in the reserves.

That skyrocket devalues the currency.  The more  you have of something, the less valuable it becomes.  So, when something becomes less valuable, you need more of it to buy stuff.  And what’s the quick “remedy” for that?  Make more money!  But that DEVALUES the currency even more.  As Beck says in the second video (and as my history teacher said, and I’m guessing your history teacher too) this is what happened in Germany after World War I.  The Papiermarks in Germany became utterly worthless.  Hyperinflation set in and they actually started just stamping new values onto the bills.  You all saw the pictures in your Jr. High world history class of Germans burning paper money because it was cheaper to do that than buy wood.

Folks, if we aren’t careful, that is EXACTLY what is going to happen to us.  Look at the chart – this increase is unprecedented.  NEVER in American history have we done ANYTHING similar to this, and it’s a recipe for DISASTER.

We must stop this immediately and begin destroying some of that money.  The Federal Reserve needs to stop printing and start gathering money back.  When they begin bringing in that money (as they regularly do when money just becomes old), instead of replacing it with new money, some of this money needs to be destroyed.  The problem is, they get that old money from banks, and then give new money to the banks in return.  It’s very hard to take money away from people when you give it to them, but if we don’t do that, we’re headed for disaster.

I only hope that more people in the government realize what’s happening here.  Inaction is going to cost us severely, and “I told you so,” is of  little consolation, at least to me.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Has Been Removed from Office

January 29, 2009

Voting has  just started to remove Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) from office and the Senate has just achieved enough votes to officially remove him from office (40 votes).  So far, no one has voted Nay.

UPDATE (5:43 P.M. EST): He has been unanimously removed from office.  All 59 Senators voted to remove him from office.

UPDATE (10:48 P.M. EST): He has also been barred from ever holding public office in the state of Illinois.  That vote was unanimous, again 59-0.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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House of Representatives Passes $819 Billion Economic Stimulus Package

January 29, 2009

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, H.R. 1, Congress’s latest economic stimulus package.  That bill passed 244-188; 11 Democrats broke ranks, while all of the voting Republicans voted against it.  First, I would like to commend the 11 Democrats who voted against the $819 billion “stimulus” bill.  This bill is an atrocity to the Congressional system of appropriations.  Instead of focusing on true STIMULUS (after all, it is an “economic STIMULUS package”), the Democrats in the House packed the bill with billions of dollars of un-stimulating spending.  For those of  you who want to read the sources, here’s the version of the bill as it was introduced (it has been slightly changed, but not too much), here’s the summary from the House Appropriations Committee, and here’s the cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.  And here’s the link to the roll call vote, Roll number 46.

Let’s take a look at the  following, keeping in mind that this is just a fraction of the spending packed in the 647-page bill (which I unfortunately didn’t have the time to quite get through, although I skimmed most of it): $650,000,000 for digital TV converters, $400,000,000 for habitat restoration, $250,000,000 for NASA climate research, $600,000,000 for the government to lease plug-in and alternative-fuel vehicles, $500,000,000 for airport security, $150,000,000 for bridge removal by the Coast Guard, $1,700,000,000 for National Parks Service maintenance, $200,000,000 to clean up leaking underground sewage storage tanks, $850,000,000 for wildland fire management, $150,000,000 for maintenance at the Smithsonian Institution, and $50,000,000 for the National Cemetery Administration to make cemetery repairs.  And this is all after some apportionments were taken out.  The Republicans urged Democrats to take out some of the unnecessary spending, such as making funds available for “family planning” and contraceptives, as well as $200,000,000 to revitalize and re-sod the National Mall, but I think those were the only 2 spending things that were cut out of the bill.  Either way, the point is – there’s a heck of a lot of spending.

Now, I am not saying that the expenditures in this bill are unimportant.  Clearly bridge removal, airport security, wildland fire management, etc. are very important; however, Congress has an apportionment process for a reason.  This bill takes the traditional apportionment process and throws it out the window, and that is absolutely unacceptable!  The Democrats essentially drafted this bill telling THEIR caucus members, “If you want money apportioned for something, stick it in this ‘stimulus package’ and we’ll get it passed no questions asked,” and that’s exactly what happened.  Keep in mind, a normal apportionment bill is debated for days, but here the House Democrats crammed what would have been hundreds of apportionment bills into one bill and debated it on the floor for ONLY THREE DAYS.  That’s right folks – this was introduced on January 26, and it was passed on January 28.  That is both unacceptable and just plain DANGEROUS.  Half of the Representatives don’t even know what all is in the bill!

If Congress wants to spend money, that is perfectly fine, but they need to do it through the proper channels of apportionment, not by hijacking the taxpayers’ wallets under the guise of an “economic stimulus package.”

So where were the Republicans in all of this?  I’ll tell you.  They were left out until the very end.  Not ONE Republican had any real input while this bill was drafted.  Sure, Obama met with Republicans and “took their input,” but no Republican ever put a pen anywhere near this bill as it was being written.  The only input they had was on the floor of the House during debate and when they were proposing amendments.  And how many Republican amendments were passed?  Only two, neither of which spared us from the utter fiscal disaster that this bill is.

I was watching C-SPAN on-line late last night (waiting for the House to upload the Congressional record so I could look stuff up and write a story on this for my newspaper column) and quite a few Republicans took a strong stand against the bill.  In particular, the Representative from the Central Michigan Area, Dave Camp (R-MI4) submitted an amendment that would have changed the stimulus package to a pure tax-cut instead of this ridiculous spending spree / tax-cut combo, but that substitute bill (labelled as an amendment) failed along party lines, with 2 Democrats crossing over.

Personally, I don’t think that a spending spree is what we need right now, but even if the Democrats insist on increasing spending, they need to do it through the proper means of apportionment instead of shoving it into one big bill.  That way, maybe at least some of the frivolous spending will fail, but the way it’s going right now, the Democrats are on board with this “all or nothing” crap.  I really don’t see how the Democrats think that all this spending is going to stimulate the economy, especially since some of this stuff is just so focused, like repairing graves at national cemeteries.  Sure, it’s probably a good expenditure, but it’s not economic stimulus.

Hopefully the Senate votes against their version of this bill, but somehow I don’t see that happening.  If they could at least cut out some of the spending though, it’d make me a little happier.

We’re gonna be in for a rough period if Congress keeps this kind of stuff up.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Wisconsin Court: Cheerleading Is a Contact Sport; Participants Can’t Be Sued for Accidents

January 28, 2009

Yesterday the Wisconsin Supreme Court unanimously ruled in a lawsuit brought by Brittany Noffke, a varsity basketball cheerleader at Holmen High School in western Wisconsin. While practicing a stunt for the first time before a basketball game in 2004, she fell backwards off the shoulders of another cheerleader and suffered a head injury.  She then filed a lawsuit against the 16-year-old male cheerleader who was supposed to be her spotter but failed to catch her, as well as the school district and its insurer.  Noffke claimed that the coach was negligent for failing to supervise the stunt and not making sure that mats were being used.  (The court ruling can be found here.)

Justice Annette Ziegler rejected Noffke’s argument that contact sports were limited to aggressive sports.  In her opinion, she wrote that lawmakers meant to limit liability for “any recreational activity that includes physical contact between persons in a sport involving amateur teams.”  Zeigler said that cheerleading involves “a significant amount of physical contact between the cheerleaders that at times results in a forceful interaction between the participants.”

This decision means that cheerleaders can only be sued for acting recklessly in causing injuries, and that Noffke’s teammate’s actions were only a mistake.

Ziegler also said that the district cannot be sued for the coach’s behavior under Wisconsin law that shields government agencies from lawsuits for the actions of employees.  The coach had no duty to make sure a spotter was in place or to provide mats and the stunt was not a “known and compelling danger,” the court said.

I have to say, when I saw the headline on the bottom of the TV: “Court rules cheerleading is contact sport,” I thought, “Come on, what’s this about!”  But as I read over the case and thought about it, the  court is right.  Nowhere in the law does it state that the contact has to be between members of different teams.  It’s a law meant to protect students from accidents (not negligence), and that’s what happened here.

If you fail to catch somebody, that’s not on purpose (normally).  It is possible to let somebody fall when you’re there to catch them, and that should be protected under the law.  Cheerleading isn’t a simple and easy sport, so I think the dangers do need to be carefully looked at, and if you take the risk of participating, you have to live with the fact that you might get injured.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Jack Hoogendyk Drops Bid for Michigan GOP Chair; Ron Weiser Now Unopposed

January 27, 2009

This is semi-breaking news coming in about the race for the chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.

Former MI GOP Chairman candidate Jack Hoogendyk (who ran for Senate against Carl Levin this past year) issued the following press release earlier today:

I am writing today to announce my decision to withdraw from the race for Party Chairman. This comes after a great deal of careful consideration and discussion with close friends and family. I congratulate Ron Weiser for his strong and successful campaign. I wish him well in his new role as chairman and pledge to do what I can to help strengthen the party and deliver victory in 2010.

I am stepping out of this race, but not out of the political arena. I intend to do my part to help make the party stronger and more unified under the banner of “less government, low taxes and individual responsibility.” I will be sending newsletters and blogs to let you know what those “rascally Democrats” in Lansing are up to; things you aren’t likely to read about in the newspaper.

I am happy to report that I have been offered a position that allows me to fight for some of those basic freedoms that all Republicans believe in and which our constitution protects. I will share the details of my new assignment soon. Until then, thank you to everyone who encouraged me in this race. Over 900 of you endorsed the effort. I will always be grateful for that.

I pledge to uphold the values and ideals that you hold dear and I encourage you to stay engaged in the pursuit of returning the Republican Party to its rightful place as the party of limited government and personal responsibility. God bless all of you. If you have any questions or input, please call me at 269-806-4626.

So, there you have it – Ron Weiser is now officially unopposed.  I had endorsed Weiser about a month ago, but hadn’t really publicized it, but now that doesn’t really matter since he’s unopposed.  I’m really glad that Hoogendyk decided to bow out – Weiser was pretty much guaranteed to win, and an unopposed race will guarantee that we start to reunify the party here in Michigan.

We’re going to need to reunify a lot more if we want to win the Governor’s race in 2010, and then the White House in  2012, and this is a step in the right direction.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Obama Should Keep Guantanamo Open but Change the Detention Procedures

January 26, 2009

Recently, Barack Obama issued an executive order that would close the detention facility at the  Guantanamo Bay Naval Base as well as review the detention status of all of the detainees.

Here’s that executive order, courtesy of the White House (note, if you want to skip all of the executive orders and just to my analysis, scroll toward the bottom :

EXECUTIVE ORDER — REVIEW AND DISPOSITION OF INDIVIDUALS DETAINED AT THE GUANTÁNAMO BAY NAVAL BASE AND CLOSURE OF DETENTION FACILITIES        

   By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, in order to effect the appropriate disposition of individuals currently detained by the Department of Defense at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base (Guantánamo) and promptly to close detention facilities at Guantánamo, consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice, I hereby order as follows:

        Section 1Definitions. As used in this order:

        (a)  “Common Article 3″ means Article 3 of each of the Geneva Conventions.

        (b)  “Geneva Conventions” means:

   (i)    the Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field, August 12, 1949 (6 UST 3114);

   (ii)   the Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea, August 12, 1949 (6 UST 3217);

   (iii)  the Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, August 12, 1949 (6 UST 3316); and

   (iv)   the Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, August 12, 1949 (6 UST 3516).

        (c) “Individuals currently detained at Guantánamo” and “individuals covered by this order” mean individuals currently detained by the Department of Defense in facilities at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base whom the Department of Defense has ever determined to be, or treated as, enemy combatants.

        Sec. 2Findings.

        (a)  Over the past 7 years, approximately 800 individuals whom the Department of Defense has ever determined to be, or treated as, enemy combatants have been detained at Guantánamo. The Federal Government has moved more than 500 such detainees from Guantánamo, either by returning them to their home country or by releasing or transferring them to a third country. The Department of Defense has determined that a number of the individuals currently detained at Guantánamo are eligible for such transfer or release.

      (b) Some individuals currently detained at Guantánamo have been there for more than 6 years, and most have been detained for at least 4 years. In view of the significant concerns raised by these detentions, both within the United States and internationally, prompt and appropriate disposition of the individuals currently detained at Guantánamo and closure of the facilities in which they are detained would further the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice. Merely closing the facilities without promptly determining the appropriate disposition of the individuals detained would not adequately serve those interests. To the extent practicable, the prompt and appropriate disposition of the individuals detained at Guantánamo should precede the closure of the detention facilities at Guantánamo.

        (c) The individuals currently detained at Guantánamo have the constitutional privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. Most of those individuals have filed petitions for a writ of habeas corpus in Federal court challenging the lawfulness of their detention.

        (d)  It is in the interests of the United States that the executive branch undertake a prompt and thorough review of the factual and legal bases for the continued detention of all individuals currently held at Guantánamo, and of whether their continued detention is in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and in the interests of justice. The unusual circumstances associated with detentions at Guantánamo require a comprehensive interagency review.

        (e)  New diplomatic efforts may result in an appropriate disposition of a substantial number of individuals currently detained at Guantánamo.

        (f)  Some individuals currently detained at Guantánamo may have committed offenses for which they should be prosecuted. It is in the interests of the United States to review whether and how any such individuals can and should be prosecuted.

        (g)  It is in the interests of the United States that the executive branch conduct a prompt and thorough review of the circumstances of the individuals currently detained at Guantánamo who have been charged with offenses before military commissions pursuant to the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Public Law 109-366, as well as of the military commission process more generally.

        Sec. 3Closure of Detention Facilities at Guantánamo. The detention facilities at Guantánamo for individuals covered by this order shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date of this order. If any individuals covered by this order remain in detention at Guantánamo at the time of closure of those detention facilities, they shall be returned to their home country, released, transferred to a third country, or transferred to another United States detention facility in a manner consistent with law and the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.

        Sec. 4Immediate Review of All Guantánamo Detentions.

        (a) Scope and Timing of Review. A review of the status of each individual currently detained at Guantánamo (Review) shall commence immediately.

      (b) Review Participants. The Review shall be conducted with the full cooperation and participation of the following officials:

   (1)  the Attorney General, who shall coordinate the Review;

   (2)  the Secretary of Defense;

   (3)  the Secretary of State;

   (4)  the Secretary of Homeland Security;

   (5)  the Director of National Intelligence;

   (6)  the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and

   (7)  other officers or full-time or permanent part-time employees of the United States, including employees with intelligence, counterterrorism, military, and legal expertise, as determined by the Attorney General, with the concurrence of the head of the department or agency concerned.

        (c)  Operation of Review. The duties of the Review participants shall include the following:

   (1)  Consolidation of Detainee Information. The Attorney General shall, to the extent reasonably practicable, and in coordination with the other Review participants, assemble all information in the possession of the Federal Government that pertains to any individual currently detained at Guantánamo and that is relevant to determining the proper disposition of any such individual. All executive branch departments and agencies shall promptly comply with any request of the Attorney General to provide information in their possession or control pertaining to any such individual. The Attorney General may seek further information relevant to the Review from any source.

   (2)  Determination of Transfer. The Review shall determine, on a rolling basis and as promptly as possible with respect to the individuals currently detained at Guantánamo, whether it is possible to transfer or release the individuals consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and, if so, whether and how the Secretary of Defense may effect their transfer or release. The Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and, as appropriate, other Review participants shall work to effect promptly the release or transfer of all individuals for whom release or transfer is possible.

   (3)  Determination of Prosecution. In accordance with United States law, the cases of individuals detained at Guantánamo not approved for release or transfer shall be evaluated to determine whether the Federal Government should seek to prosecute the detained individuals for any offenses they may have committed, including whether it is feasible to prosecute such individuals before a court established pursuant to Article III of the United States Constitution, and the Review participants shall in turn take the necessary and appropriate steps based on such determinations.

   (4)  Determination of Other Disposition. With respect to any individuals currently detained at Guantánamo whose disposition is not achieved under paragraphs (2) or (3) of this subsection, the Review shall select lawful means, consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice, for the disposition of such individuals. The appropriate authorities shall promptly implement such dispositions.

   (5)  Consideration of Issues Relating to Transfer to the United States. The Review shall identify and consider legal, logistical, and security issues relating to the potential transfer of individuals currently detained at Guantánamo to facilities within the United States, and the Review participants shall work with the Congress on any legislation that may be appropriate.

        Sec. 5Diplomatic Efforts. The Secretary of State shall expeditiously pursue and direct such negotiations and diplomatic efforts with foreign governments as are necessary and appropriate to implement this order.

        Sec. 6Humane Standards of Confinement. No individual currently detained at Guantánamo shall be held in the custody or under the effective control of any officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government, or at a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States, except in conformity with all applicable laws governing the conditions of such confinement, including Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. The Secretary of Defense shall immediately undertake a review of the conditions of detention at Guantánamo to ensure full compliance with this directive. Such review shall be completed within 30 days and any necessary corrections shall be implemented immediately thereafter.

        Sec. 7Military Commissions.  The Secretary of Defense shall immediately take steps sufficient to ensure that during the pendency of the Review described in section 4 of this order, no charges are sworn, or referred to a military commission under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and the Rules for Military Commissions, and that all proceedings of such military commissions to which charges have been referred but in which no judgment has been rendered, and all proceedings pending in the United States Court of Military Commission Review, are halted.

        Sec. 8General Provisions.

        (a) Nothing in this order shall prejudice the authority of the Secretary of Defense to determine the disposition of any detainees not covered by this order.

        (b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

        (c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

     BARACK OBAMA

     THE WHITE HOUSE,

     January 22, 2009. 

Alright, so there’s the executive order to close the detention center within a year.  Personally, other than Section 3, I really don’t have a problem with this executive order.  I just don’t see the need to close the detention center itself.  The detention center isn’t the problem.  The problem (and I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with people’s stance on the problem) has to do with whether or not we can hold them while denying  them the writ of habeas corpus.  That has NOTHING to do with WHERE the detention center is.  We could hold them here in the U.S. and we could still deny them habeas corpus.  Or we could keep them in Guantanamo and let them live like it’s a Hilton hotel.  My point is – Guantanamo, the detention center, really has nothing to do with the problem, other than it’s become an image of a violation of human rights.

President Obama also issued the following executive order, to figure out what we’re going to do with those accused of committing acts of terrorism:

EXECUTIVE ORDER — REVIEW OF DETENTION POLICY OPTIONS

   By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, in order to develop policies for the detention, trial, transfer, release, or other disposition of individuals captured or apprehended in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations that are consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice, I hereby order as follows:

   Section 1Special Interagency Task Force on Detainee Disposition.

   (a) Establishment of Special Interagency Task Force. There shall be established a Special Task Force on Detainee Disposition (Special Task Force) to identify lawful options for the disposition of individuals captured or apprehended in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations.

   (b) Membership. The Special Task Force shall consist of the following members, or their designees:

   (i)     the Attorney General, who shall serve as Co-Chair;

   (ii)    the Secretary of Defense, who shall serve as Co-Chair;

   (iii)   the Secretary of State;

   (iv)    the Secretary of Homeland Security;

   (v)     the Director of National Intelligence;

   (vi)    the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency;

   (vii)   the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and

   (viii)      other officers or full-time or permanent part-time employees of the United States, as determined by either of the Co-Chairs, with the concurrence of the head of the department or agency concerned.

   (c) Staff. Either Co-Chair may designate officers and employees within their respective departments to serve as staff to support the Special Task Force. At the request of the Co-Chairs, officers and employees from other departments or agencies may serve on the Special Task Force with the concurrence of the heads of the departments or agencies that employ such individuals. Such staff must be officers or full-time or permanent part-time employees of the United States. The Co-Chairs shall jointly select an officer or employee of the Department of Justice or Department of Defense to serve as the Executive Secretary of the Special Task Force.

   (d) Operation. The Co-Chairs shall convene meetings of the Special Task Force, determine its agenda, and direct its work. The Co-Chairs may establish and direct subgroups of the Special Task Force, consisting exclusively of members of the Special Task Force, to deal with particular subjects.

   (e) Mission. The mission of the Special Task Force shall be to conduct a comprehensive review of the lawful options available to the Federal Government with respect to the apprehension, detention, trial, transfer, release, or other disposition of individuals captured or apprehended in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations, and to identify such options as are consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice.

   (f) Administration. The Special Task Force shall be established for administrative purposes within the Department of Justice, and the Department of Justice shall, to the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations, provide administrative support and funding for the Special Task Force.

   (g) Report. The Special Task Force shall provide a report to the President, through the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and the Counsel to the President, on the matters set forth in subsection (d) within 180 days of the date of this order unless the Co-Chairs determine that an extension is necessary, and shall provide periodic preliminary reports during those 180 days.

   (h) Termination. The Co-Chairs shall terminate the Special Task Force upon the completion of its duties.

   Sec. 2General Provisions.

   (a) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

   (b) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

     BARACK OBAMA

       THE WHITE HOUSE,

     January 22, 2009.

Alright, that’s a GREAT executive order there, because if he’s going to go through with closing the Guantanamo detention center, we need to have a place to put the alleged terrorists.

And lastly, we have an executive order dealing with interrogation processes:

EXECUTIVE ORDER — ENSURING LAWFUL INTERROGATIONS

By the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, in order to improve the effectiveness of human intelligence gathering, to promote the safe, lawful, and humane treatment of individuals in United States custody and of United States personnel who are detained in armed conflicts, to ensure compliance with the treaty obligations of the United States, including the Geneva Conventions, and to take care that the laws of the United States are faithfully executed, I hereby order as follows:

Section 1.  Revocation.  Executive Order 13440 of July 20, 2007, is revoked.  All executive directives, orders, and regulations inconsistent with this order, including but not limited to those issued to or by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from September 11, 2001, to January 20, 2009, concerning detention or the interrogation of detained individuals, are revoked to the extent of their inconsistency with this order.  Heads of departments and agencies shall take all necessary steps to ensure that all directives, orders, and regulations of their respective departments or agencies are consistent with this order.  Upon request, the Attorney General shall provide guidance about which directives, orders, and regulations are inconsistent with this order.
Sec. 2.  Definitions.  As used in this order:

(a)  “Army Field Manual 2 22.3″ means FM 2-22.3, Human Intelligence Collector Operations, issued by the Department of the Army on September 6, 2006.

(b)  “Army Field Manual 34-52″ means FM 34-52, Intelligence Interrogation, issued by the Department of the Army on May 8, 1987.

(c)  “Common Article 3″ means Article 3 of each of the Geneva Conventions.

(d)  “Convention Against Torture” means the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, December 10, 1984, 1465 U.N.T.S. 85, S. Treaty Doc. No. 100 20 (1988).

(e)  “Geneva Conventions” means:

 (i)    the Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field, August 12, 1949 (6 UST 3114);

 (ii)   the Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea, August 12, 1949 (6 UST 3217);

 (iii)  the Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, August 12, 1949 (6 UST 3316); and

 (iv)   the Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, August 12, 1949 (6 UST 3516).

(f)  “Treated humanely,” “violence to life and person,” “murder of all kinds,” “mutilation,” “cruel treatment,” “torture,” “outrages upon personal dignity,” and “humiliating and degrading treatment” refer to, and have the same meaning as, those same terms in Common Article 3.

(g)  The terms “detention facilities” and “detention facility” in section 4(a) of this order do not refer to facilities used only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis.

Sec. 3.  Standards and Practices for Interrogation of Individuals in the Custody or Control of the United States in Armed Conflicts.

(a)  Common Article 3 Standards as a Minimum Baseline.  Consistent with the requirements of the Federal torture statute, 18 U.S.C. 2340 2340A, section 1003 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, 42 U.S.C. 2000dd, the Convention Against Torture, Common Article 3, and other laws regulating the treatment and interrogation of individuals detained in any armed conflict, such persons shall in all circumstances be treated humanely and shall not be subjected to violence to life and person (including murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture), nor to outrages upon personal dignity (including humiliating and degrading treatment), whenever such individuals are in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government or detained within a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States.

(b)  Interrogation Techniques and Interrogation-Related Treatment.  Effective immediately, an individual in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government, or detained within a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States, in any armed conflict, shall not be subjected to any interrogation technique or approach, or any treatment related to interrogation, that is not authorized by and listed in Army Field Manual 2 22.3 (Manual).  Interrogation techniques, approaches, and treatments described in the Manual shall be implemented strictly in accord with the principles, processes, conditions, and limitations the Manual prescribes.  Where processes required by the Manual, such as a requirement of approval by specified Department of Defense officials, are inapposite to a department or an agency other than the Department of Defense, such a department or agency shall use processes that are substantially equivalent to the processes the Manual prescribes for the Department of Defense.  Nothing in this section shall preclude the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or other Federal law enforcement agencies, from continuing to use authorized, non-coercive techniques of interrogation that are designed to elicit voluntary statements and do not involve the use of force, threats, or promises.

(c)  Interpretations of Common Article 3 and the Army Field Manual.  From this day forward, unless the Attorney General with appropriate consultation provides further guidance, officers, employees, and other agents of the United States Government may, in conducting interrogations, act in reliance upon Army Field Manual 2 22.3, but may not, in conducting interrogations, rely upon any interpretation of the law governing interrogation — including interpretations of Federal criminal laws, the Convention Against Torture, Common Article 3, Army Field Manual 2 22.3, and its predecessor document, Army Field Manual 34 52    issued by the Department of Justice between September 11, 2001, and January 20, 2009.
Sec. 4.  Prohibition of Certain Detention Facilities, and Red Cross Access to Detained Individuals.

(a)  CIA Detention.  The CIA shall close as expeditiously as possible any detention facilities that it currently operates and shall not operate any such detention facility in the future.

(b)  International Committee of the Red Cross Access to Detained Individuals.  All departments and agencies of the Federal Government shall provide the International Committee of the Red Cross with notification of, and timely access to, any individual detained in any armed conflict in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government or detained within a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States Government, consistent with Department of Defense regulations and policies.
Sec. 5.  Special Interagency Task Force on Interrogation and Transfer Policies.

(a)  Establishment of Special Interagency Task Force.  There shall be established a Special Task Force on Interrogation and Transfer Policies (Special Task Force) to review interrogation and transfer policies.

(b)  Membership.  The Special Task Force shall consist of the following members, or their designees:

 (i)     the Attorney General, who shall serve as Chair;

 (ii)    the Director of National Intelligence, who shall serve as Co-Vice-Chair;

 (iii)   the Secretary of Defense, who shall serve as Co-Vice-Chair;

 (iv)    the Secretary of State;

 (v)     the Secretary of Homeland Security;

 (vi)    the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency;

 (vii)   the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and

 (viii)  other officers or full-time or permanent part time employees of the United States, as determined by the Chair, with the concurrence of the head of the department or agency concerned.

(c)  Staff.  The Chair may designate officers and employees within the Department of Justice to serve as staff to support the Special Task Force.  At the request of the Chair, officers and employees from other departments or agencies may serve on the Special Task Force with the concurrence of the head of the department or agency that employ such individuals.  Such staff must be officers or full-time or permanent part-time employees of the United States.  The Chair shall designate an officer or employee of the Department of Justice to serve as the Executive Secretary of the Special Task Force.

(d)  Operation.  The Chair shall convene meetings of the Special Task Force, determine its agenda, and direct its work.  The Chair may establish and direct subgroups of the Special Task Force, consisting exclusively of members of the Special Task Force, to deal with particular subjects.

(e)  Mission.  The mission of the Special Task Force shall be:

 (i)   to study and evaluate whether the interrogation practices and techniques in Army Field Manual 2 22.3, when employed by departments or agencies outside the military, provide an appropriate means of acquiring the intelligence necessary to protect the Nation, and, if warranted, to recommend any additional or different guidance for other departments or agencies; and

 (ii)  to study and evaluate the practices of transferring individuals to other nations in order to ensure that such practices comply with the domestic laws, international obligations, and policies of the United States and do not result in the transfer of individuals to other nations to face torture or otherwise for the purpose, or with the effect, of undermining or circumventing the commitments or obligations of the United States to ensure the humane treatment of individuals in its custody or control.

(f)  Administration.  The Special Task Force shall be established for administrative purposes within the Department of Justice and the Department of Justice shall, to
the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations, provide administrative support and funding for the Special Task Force.

(g)  Recommendations.  The Special Task Force shall provide a report to the President, through the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and the Counsel to the President, on the matters set forth in subsection (d) within 180 days of the date of this order, unless the Chair determines that an extension is necessary.

(h)  Termination.  The Chair shall terminate the Special Task Force upon the completion of its duties.
Sec. 6.  Construction with Other Laws.  Nothing in this order shall be construed to affect the obligations of officers, employees, and other agents of the United States Government to comply with all pertinent laws and treaties of the United States governing detention and interrogation, including but not limited to:  the Fifth and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution; the Federal torture statute, 18 U.S.C. 2340 2340A; the War Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. 2441; the Federal assault statute, 18 U.S.C. 113; the Federal maiming statute, 18 U.S.C. 114; the Federal “stalking” statute, 18 U.S.C. 2261A; articles 93, 124, 128, and 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. 893, 924, 928, and 934; section 1003 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, 42 U.S.C. 2000dd; section 6(c) of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Public Law 109 366; the Geneva Conventions; and the Convention Against Torture.  Nothing in this order shall be construed to diminish any rights that any individual may have under these or other laws and treaties.  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity against the United States, its departments, agencies, or other entities, its officers or employees, or any other person.

BARACK OBAMA

THE WHITE HOUSE,
January 22, 2009

 Honestly, that’s REALLY the most important executive order that he needed to issue in order to remedy the human rights / Constitutional violations.

I really don’t think that Guantanamo detention center needs to be closed.  If Obama wants to simply use better interrogation methods and restore the writ of habeas corpus, closing Guantanamo, in and of itself doesn’t do that.  All he really has to do is change the process of how we handle accused terrorists.

Instead, he has chosen to close Gitmo, and that creates a problem: What do we do with the alleged terrorists?

We can’t put them in normal prisons with other prisoners.  Sex offenders and child molesters already have problems in prison.  Can you imagine what prisoners would do if they were around an accused terrorist?  The terrorist wouldn’t last more than maybe a week.

So, that means that we have to build a new prison.  Well, where are we going to do that?  Nobody will want the prison in “their backyard.”  What if a prisoner escapes?  That means that a terrorist is running around.  People aren’t going to want to risk that in their neighborhood.  Obama is going to find it very difficult to find somewhere that will/can take these prisoners.

Personally, as long as the prison was secure (and I mean REALLY secure), I wouldn’t mind having it in Michigan.  We’d definitely have to build a new prison, since we don’t have enough room in our prisons as it is.

Still, I think the best way to deal with the terrorist detainees is to keep them in Guantanamo Bay.  If Obama wants to ensure that they have more rights/privileges/whatever you want to call it, he can instruct his Attorney General to give them to the detainees, but closing Gitmo only creates more problems.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Joe Biden Makes Joke About Justice Robert’s Memory After Inauguration Slip-Up

January 22, 2009

Yesterday while swearing in the senior staff, Vice President Biden made a joke about his memory not being as good as Chief Justice John Robert’s, making a joke about Robert’s mistake during Obama’s oath of office administration.  Here’s a video courtesy of Politico:

I can’t tell, but it kinda looks like President Obama wasn’t too pleased with Biden for making that joke.  I don’t think Biden meant any harm, but Obama still looked like he didn’t like the joke.

Although, Biden really doesn’t have room to talk here – he’s pretty gaffe-prone, so karma may come around to haunt him sometime in the near future.

Either way, I though the joke was funny.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Barack Obama Retakes Oath of Office

January 22, 2009

Yesterday, President Barack Obama retook the oath of office, due to the fact that a he said a word out of order on inauguration day.  Here’s a video, courtesy of the BBC, of the oath of office:

And here’s a transcript of what happened, the bolded parts are areas where something went wrong:

ROBERTS: I, Barack Hussein Obama…
OBAMA: I, Barack…
ROBERTS: … do solemnly swear…
OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear…
ROBERTS [faithfully is out of order]: … that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully…
OBAMA: … that I will execute…
ROBERTS [faithfully is in the right spot]: … faithfully the office of president of the United States…
OBAMA: … the office of president of the United States faithfully…
ROBERTS: … and will to the best of my ability…
OBAMA: … and will to the best of my ability…
ROBERTS: … preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
OBAMA: … preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
ROBERTS: So help you God?
OBAMA: So help me God.
ROBERTS: Congratulations, Mr. President.

While a lot of people have made fun of Robertsfor slipping up, it should be  noted that Obama interrupted him first, and that’s what probably threw Robert’s off, leading him to mess up the “faithfully” part.

Some Constitutional experts said that it was OK because he still said all of the words with their meanings still in tact, but the President wanted to make sure that everything was all right, so he had the oath re-administered.  I agree with him – if he hadn’t have done that, we’d have conspiracy nuts talking about him not being our rightful President for the next 4 years.

When Roberts asked President Obama, “Are you ready to take the oath?” Obama replied, “I am, and we’re going to do it very slowly.”

Again, it was the right move, even if unecessary, to avoid conflict down the road.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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