From Politico: "A trial court unanimously ruled Monday that Democrat Al Franken is the winner in the state's long-running Senate race, rejecting Republican Norm Coleman's lawsuit challenging the results of a recount." This is the three judge elections contest court, and the judges ruled unanimously for Al Franken, throwing out Coleman's arguments. Unfortunately, Norm Coleman will now appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Unfortunately, those fundamental principles are under attack in Minnesota. Since Senator Norm Coleman was first ahead by hundreds of votes at the end of election night, the Democrats have aggressively worked to change the rules of the game after it's been played.
Last night, they succeeded in convincing a three-judge panel to issue a fundamentally misguided ruling that disenfranchises over 4,000 Minnesota voters. They did so by imposing a different, and stricter, standard for votes to be counted rather than following the rules that were in place in Minnesota on Election Day.
In doing so, Constitutionally-valid Due Process and Equal Protection concerns have been raised...and as of yet, have not been resolved. Which is exactly why Senator Coleman is appealing this decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court: the votes of over 4,000 Minnesotans disenfranchised by this court's opinion deserve to be counted.
It's frankly shocking that many of the same Democrats who so loudly decried voter disenfranchisement during the Florida recount in 2000 have so quickly run away from that principle when it no longer fits their political agenda.
Nonetheless, Republicans, and the NRSC in particular, remain committed to a full and fair resolution of this election contest and stand firmly behind Senator Norm Coleman." The Minnesota Supreme Court consists of seven judges, and it looks like 3 or 4 of them will have to recuse themselves because of financial links to Coleman...
When I was in college, I worked as a reader for blind high school students, and one of my families were Cuban exiles. They had been rich landowners in Cuba and were now living in a small, cramped, three bedroom apartment. I learned a lot about their family history, and developed a love for fried platanos. I wonder how they will react to the news that the Obama administration is lifting some restrictions for Cuban Americans to visit Cuba, as well as for sending money to family back home. The rest of us Americans are out of luck, same restrictions apply, as well as the same embargo that has been in place for 47 years.
From Politico: "For most of the recent history, U.S.-Cuba policy has been driven by the sentiment felt among South Florida’s Cuban-American exile community, which remained fervently anti-Fidel Castro.
They voted lockstep Republican since the failed Bay of Pigs invasion under President John F. Kennedy and made it clear that politicians who didn’t share their hard-line views on Castro risked being tagged as “soft on communism” — a label no Democrat could afford to wear.
But in recent years, younger Cuban-Americans and more recent Cuban exiles have more moderate views than those who fled during Castro’s early years. And some of the original Cuban exiles who strongly supported the U.S. embargo against Cuba are having second thoughts, because the policy has yet to topple Castro's regime."
More from UPI: "However, Castro, while still alive, is now a frail and fading figure. More than 1.5 million Cuban-Americans currently have relatives back on their native island. And for Cuba, as for North Korea, being cut off from most of the world has only succeeded in keeping its old-fashioned repressive communist regime in power.
Castro failed miserably in his efforts to export romantic, communist revolution and chaos throughout the Western Hemisphere. By contrast, today President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela packs far more economic, diplomatic and sheer political power than Castro ever did.
The outreach to Cuba could yet backfire on Obama. Raul Castro remains, like his brother, an unreconstructed communist revolutionary who regards the United States as the source of all evil in the world. However, if the outreach program succeeds, it may serve to dramatically reduce the Republican Party's already eroding historic lock on Cuban-American support, especially in the crucial state of Florida, the fourth most populous state in the United States, which is therefore of huge importance in the Electoral College."
And you know who gets this, of all people? Florida's GOP U.S. senator, Mel Martinez, himself a Cuban-American: The announcement today is good news for Cuban families separated by the lack of freedom in Cuba. Likewise the change in remittances should provide help to families in need. Given these changes will benefit the regime in Havana, it would be wise in the implementation to place some reasonable limits on this type of travel and the amounts that can be sent to Cuba.
The President has expressed his commitment to freedom - libertad - for the Cuban people, and policy implementation should advance that objective. To this end, the Administration is right to call on the Cuban government to end the onerous charge of 20 percent on remittances. Lowering remittance charges and allowing travel for Cuban families wishing to see relatives abroad are two steps the Cuban regime could immediately take that would show change in Havana.
Opposition to the president's action here can only be political, because it's certainly not rooted in anything factual or in any realistic foreign policy objectives. I know many Cuban-Americans have long memories. But it's well past time to realize that it's not 1959 anymore.
Lastly, from Generation Miami blog, commenting on the new generation of Cuban American leaders: "The folks who get things done in politics are not reactionary tone-deaf fringes, but rather reasonable leaders who understand the times they live in, and have the courage to compromise and change positions as new evidence surfaces, while never compromising their fundamental values and principles. That’s why the Cuban American National Foundation has had a say in the Cuba policy of every administration since Ronald Reagan, while the extreme right-wing groups who chose to put partisan politics over la patria only get a “viva Cuba libre!” shouted at Versailles, or a visit to Radio Mambi."
Here are some late night Cuban jokes:
"Well, here's some sad news coming from Havana, ladies and gentlemen: Fidel Castro has resigned. A lot of people thought it was because of his health, but, no, he's resigning because he wants to spend more time with his beard." --David Letterman
"But his retirement will not change the relationship Cuba has with the United States. Cubans will still not legally be allowed to enter the United States unless they have an overpowering fastball." --David Letterman
"Experts believe that now that Fidel has resigned, he will either be succeeded by his brother, Raul, or by his idiot son, Fidel W. Castro." --David Letterman
"Fidel is being replaced by a younger, sexier Castro: his younger brother Raul. Is this even possible? Can you imagine a country run by one family for years and years and years? That could never happen here." --Craig Ferguson
"This morning, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro announced that he is stepping down, ending five decades of rule. But the biggest surprise was when Castro announced that he’s going to retire in Miami." --Conan O'Brien
"Fidel Castro has resigned today as the president of Cuba. But don’t worry, you’ll still be able to see him on ABC’s 'Dancing With the Stars.'" --Jay Leno
"He ran Cuba for almost 50 years. And political analysts are now debating what kind of changes the Cuban people will hope for. I'm gonna guess: term limits." --Jay Leno
"Actually, Fidel Castro was the most powerful socialist in the world not living in Malibu. Did you know that?" --Jay Leno
"Cuban dictator Fidel Castro is still in the hospital with a serious medical condition. Castro said that a half century of Communist rule seemed like a good idea right up until the point he was rushed to the hospital in a '55 Oldsmobile." --Conan O'Brien
"Miami's Hispanic population took to the streets last night to celebrate Fidel Castro temporarily stepping down from power. Way to go America! Our plan to slowly deteriorate his health over the course of 50 years is working." --Stephen Colbert
"As you know the elderly Fidel Castro recovering from surgery in Cuba. It was pretty serious. I understand he was rushed to the hospital on Donkey One. A message delivered on Cuban Television today said that Fidel Castro's condition is listed as stable, which in Communist countries means he'll be dead by Friday." --Jay Leno
"President Bush said that in the event that Castro does die he has a plan in place to show the Cuban people there's a better way than the plan they're currently living under. Hey forget Cuba, how 'bout showing us that plan. I would love to see this plan." --Jay Leno
"The people of Miami are celebrating tonight because Fidel Castro has temporarily stepped down. He had to undergo surgery so he's transferred his presidential power to his brother Jeb Castro. Actually Castro's brother's name is Raul. As soon as his brother Raul found out he was taking over, he turned his raft around and went back to Havana." --Jay Leno
"Cuban dictator Fidel Castro has checked into the hospital and control of the country has been turned over to his brother. He's turned over control of the country to his brother. In a related story control of his beard has been turned over to ZZ Top." --Conan O'Brien
"In a speech in Florida President Bush praised all the contributions Cubans have made to America: catching, hitting, outfielding, shortstop. These were all major, major contributions." --Jay Leno
"Now is the time to invade, America. My proposal is controversial but we've invaded for less. Now I know our troops are tied up in Iraq so here's my plan. We harness the regime-destroying power of tourism. First, we send a fleet of Carnival cruise ships stuffed with battle-fattened early-retired middle-management types, their girth easily overpowering the frail bean-fed Cubans. Of course, there's nothing Americans tourists like more than things they can get at home. So in phase two Marine choppers air-drop an outlet mall. Old Navy, Sunglass Hut. Name brands here, maybe a Jamba Juice, Cinnabon. The Cubans will quickly become addicted to the easy American dollar. Communism will fail. And then we can finally allow Cuba to become a valuable trading partner like Communist China. So, here's to freedom and the Havana Applebee's Cubanos. And what better way to celebrate than with a genuine 'Dominican' cigar. I can't wait until this 'Dominican' cigar is legal." --Stephen Colbert