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Last week, the folks at Politics magazine, also known as Campaigns & Elections, asked me to host their Reed Awards which are given out to political consultants in catagories ranging from Best Independent Expenditure Radio Ad in a Statewide Race to polybag inserts and yard signs. A few years ago I hosted the Pollies, which is a rival set of awards given out by the Association of Political Consultants. There were fewer awards at that one and I got to do more shtick, like how Frank Luntz would advise Saddam Hussein (it's been a few years as I said.) "People don't see Saddam, the family man....Try do more events with your wives." This time the buzz of awards meant less shtick and more handing them out.
One can have a laugh at the whole thing, but the fact is that in an era of McCain-Feingold, political consulting and messaging remains a part of life and it's not going to away. The bipartisan panel of judges doles out awards on the basis of effectiveness and not ideology or, dare we say, truth in advertising so the evening had a kind of moral neutrality about it that would probably infuriate TPM readers about all that's wrong with Washington. One of the awards went to an ad for Alaska Rep. Don Young. That said, what the judges came up with was the panoply of the American political adviertisement. My favorite was the Truthandhope.org's local voices spot which, I think, historians may look at to understand how Obama won. It also won the equivalent of Best Picture, i.e. Best TV Ad in the Presidential Race.
The Minnesota election trial just had a truly brutal moment, one that could undermine the credibility of Norm Coleman's whole case.
The Coleman campaign summoned political director Kristen Fuzer up to the stand to testify to the provenance of the photocopies of rejected absentee ballots that they've submitted in their efforts to get those ballots counted. You may recall that the Franken campaign last week pointed to some apparent alterations in the photocopied envelopes.
Coleman lawyer Joe Friedberg briefly interviewed Fuzer. Then it was Franken lawyer Marc Elias' turn.
Al Franken's lawyer Kevin Hamilton just finished his opening arguments against Norm Coleman's lawsuit to contest the results of the Minnesota Senate race. His case boils down to this: Norm Coleman is suing because he lost, and is searching for things to complain about.
Hamilton said that Coleman has failed to meet the very burden that is necessary to win an election contest -- that is, to overturn the presumption of regularity on the part of the state and local officials -- and is instead set on finding little errors that may still exist out there. "It's better than most," Hamilton said of Minnesota's election system, "but it's not immune."
Hamilton also pointed to Coleman having reversed his position on the crucial issue of improperly-rejected absentee ballots, noting that his campaign litigated during the recount to keep ballots out -- but are now trying to get up to 5,000 ballots put in. "Against that history, against that backdrop, it's simply stunning to see the most recent position," said Hamilton.
The L.A. Timeshad a nice preview on this today, but the Center for Progressive Reform has just come out with a comprehensive report casting doubt on the regulatory record of Cass Sunstein, the president's pick to head the office in charge of government regulatory efforts.
Norm Coleman's attorney Joe Friedberg just finished his opening statements in the election-contest trial, and he said his case hinges almost entirely on one issue: Another review of rejected absentee ballots that will get another 4,500-5,000 votes into the pool.
Friedberg said that some ballots were rejected in one area of the state, while ballots with similar minor perceived errors were accepted elsewhere -- a violation of equal protection. As such, he wants the judges to review these ballots again, after local officials have looked at them a few times before, and level the playing field by approving ballot envelopes if one like it was already accepted.
And again, Friedberg insisted that the campaign is not cherry-picking the ballots -- though he seemed to concede that the campaigns have had experts hard at work on that question.
As rational individuals everywhere cheer today's White House move to expedite California's auto emissions standards, there comes another encouraging sign from inside the Environmental Protection Agency.
As reported late Friday night by Carbon Control News, a subscription-only website that reports on D.C. climate change issues:
Georgetown Law Professor Lisa Heinzerling, the lead author of plaintiffs' briefs in the landmark Supreme Court case that found EPA has the authority to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, has taken a job with EPA to advise incoming Administrator Lisa Jackson on how to address climate change, according to a knowledgeable source. ...
One thing is clear going into today's election trial in Minnesota: The Franken and Coleman camps really don't like each other.
Yesterday, the Coleman team posted a YouTube promoting their new push to have the rejected absentee ballots reviewed yet another time -- their current goal is to have 4,500-5,000 more added into the count, which they insist are not cherry-picked -- and declaring Coleman is the champion of counting every vote, against Al Franken's disregard for the people's will.
On a conference call with reporters just now, lead Franken attorney Marc Elias ripped the Coleman team for saying they want to count every vote, after spending most of this recount litigating to stop absentee-vote reviews, and still basing their election lawsuit largely upon throwing out votes for Al Franken. Said Elias: "So don't believe them when they say they want every vote counted, because that isn't what most of their case is about, and it's not what this case is gonna boil down to."
As an extra sign of his contempt for the Coleman team, Elias referred to them as "charter members of the flat-earth club" for questioning the legitimacy of Franken votes during the recount. At today's trial, the tone isn't likely to improve more than the minimum necessary for the courtroom.