An online article by the Associated Press reported on December 19 that the Iowa Republican Party is taking seriously the threat of disrupting the Iowa Caucuses. The article went on to say that the Republican Party is encouraging the use of paper ballots instead of a show of hands, which has traditionally been the norm at many of the caucus sites. This is for the purpose of reconstructing the results, if necessary. It also quoted Ryan Gough, who is in charge of coordinating the caucuses, as declining to release the specific details of the Iowa GOP's security plan in order not to make these details available to any hackers.

With the Republican Party changing the rules for this year’s primaries so that there are virtually no more winner-takes-all states and the delegates are split on a proportional basis, how candidates do in the polls can be a significant indication of how those delegates are proportioned. In Iowa, at the moment, Ron Paul remains in the lead over Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. And in New Hampshire, where Ron Paul has been in third place trailing behind Romney and Gingrich, there has been some slight shifting, as Gingrich’s surge is slowing and Paul is gaining momentum.

The race for the Republican primary has certainly been an eventful one, with candidates experiencing both campaign boosts and campaign blunders, scandalous revelations, and dramatic dropouts. The latest news out of the Republican primary trail is that neither Newt Gingrich nor Rick Perry obtained the 10,000 valid signatures required to get on Virginia’s March 6 primary ballot, something that the New York Times contends is likely to shake voter confidence.

Mike Shedlock, who has been watching the Jefferson County, Alabama, municipal bond bankruptcy and default closely, has turned up some more fraud. It appears that the original bonds issued to pay for the county’s new sewage treatment plant weren’t bonds after all, but warrants. But they were sold as the same thing, backed by the “full faith and credit” of the county. In the event of bankruptcy investors holding the warrants were to be first in line to receive their interest payments, ahead of any other creditors. And if there isn’t enough money even for that, the investors were assured that the county would do whatever is necessary to redeem them, even if it meant raising taxes or fees on the citizens.

Rep. David Reichert (R-Wash., left) along with two other House members has asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) for acting more like a profit-making insurance company rather than a tax-exempt advocate for senior citizens. The AARP’s close control and micro-marketing management of companies it allows to use its brand amounts to profit-making activity that should be taxable, assert the lawmakers and others. But for years the AARP has largely successfully defended its non-profit status all the while growing into the seventh largest insurance company in the country.

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