Saturday, June 30, 2007

Toll Roads coming to Michigan?

This is an interesting development. I wonder what the plan would be. I don't think toll roads will catch on here at all.

/30/07 - Might US-23 commuters someday pay a toll to use an expanded roadway? A new report from the Michigan Department of Transportation suggests the state should consider creating toll roads to ease congestion and help pay for transportation costs. Industry insiders say sections of Interstates 75, 275, 94 and 96 along with U.S. 23, could be potential candidates for toll lanes. The idea has come up in the past in Michigan without being approved -- but has been used across the country. The state's transportation plan through 2030 was released earlier in the week. It says Michigan "may want to consider tolls." But it doesn't specify locations, potential funding sources or expected revenue. The report suggests building new toll lanes on existing, congested roadways.

Business Tax (increase) replacement passed legislature

First off, this is completely seperate from Granholm's push for higher general taxes, including state sales and income taxes. This is just the replacement for the Small Business Tax. However, technically, this is also a tax increase, as the old SBT was being phased out anyway. This is a bad bill, and should have been defeated.

The bill was SB94. There was several substitutes within the bill, so it's tough finding the details to it. The conference report was the final version. It can be found here about one third through the page It is EXTREMELY long and complicated.
What affects us the most is that insurance premiums are taxed 1.25%. We can expect to pay more on our already ridiculously high auto insurance premiums. Thanks government. That's just what I needed. Jerks.

The only three no votes in the senate on this bill were Michelle McManus, Bruce Patterson, and Alan Sanborn. John Pappageorge and Alan Cropsey were excused from voting. Jim Barcia did not vote. The rest of the senators voted for this, including Valde Garcia. If you do not see your senator's name here, he or she supported this tax.

On the house side, there were 75 yes votes, and 34 no votes. The 34 votes were all Republican.

Voting NO:
Dan Acciavatti
Dave Hildenbrand
Arlen Meekhof
Dave Robertson
Dave Agema
Jack Hoogendyk
Kim Meltzer
Tonya Schuitmaker
Darwin Booher
Ken Horn
Chuck Moss
Fulton Sheen
Jack Brandenburg
Joe Hune
Neal Nitz
John Stahl
Tom Casperson
Rick Jones
Brian Palmer
John Stakoe
Craig DeRoche
Marty Knollenberg
John Pastor
Glenn Steil
Kevin Elsenheimer
Phil LaJoy
Phil Pavlov
Howard Walker
Judy Emmons
David Law
Tom Pearce
Chris Ward
John Garfield
Jim Marleau

The statements against this tax proposal:

Rep. Meekhof, having reserved the right to explain his nay vote, made the following statement:

"Mr. Speaker and members of the House:

Michigan needs an aggressive plan to attract jobs. As a replacement for the job-killing SBT, the proposed Michigan Business Tax doesn't do enough to turn our economy around. We need real reform that will promote economic growth and bring back jobs.

The MBT is flawed in several ways. It fails to provide the overall tax relief businesses need to bring back jobs. Because the plan is structured around gross receipts, companies that do not make a profit could still end up having to pay taxes. The cap on revenues is not permanent; it only lasts for three years meaning the government could end up collecting far more than originally intended and will have a blank check to spend more taxpayer money.

Workers and business owners in our community deserve better. I will continue to fight for a plan that is beneficial to everybody. We need a plan to attract jobs and I'm committed to making sure we have it."

Rep. Meltzer, having reserved the right to explain her nay vote, made the following statement:

"Mr. Speaker and members of the House:

After carefully considering my vote on SB 94, I have decided that I simply cannot endorse the bill as presented. While I recognize there has been a lot of work effort put into this budget plan from both sides, I have significant concerns.

Of great concern is the uncertainty of how much revenue the plan is projected to generate. A 'trigger' set at 5% over the FY 08 base will be set. From that 5% point the government will keep half of the remaining overage while refunding the other half to the taxpayer. This could potentially be a huge windfall for government and an overall tax increase.

This revenue brought in by the trigger is said to be mainly paid by other states, however the constitutionality of that proposal is a concern as Ohio is now involved in litigation for its similar tax construction which taxes businesses from outside states differently than in state.

SB 94 also fails in the following objectives: broad based, simplification, tax equity, create a system which is easy to adhere to, and make it inviting and competitive to attract new businesses to Michigan. These were the goals both parties and the governor agreed should be part of the replacement plan.

Broad based means the plan should be similar to other states. The similarities fail to exist not in the type of taxes, but that no other state requires all of these taxes. SB 94 is not simplified. In fact the proposed plan provides a third tax where the SBT had two. Different tax requirements between in state v. out state means the taxes are not equal. Because of all the carve outs and exceptions SB 94 is extremely complicated. And finally, although the personal property tax exemption is substantial in comparison to our existing code, in comparison to other states where they have no personal property tax liability, SB 94 may fail to attract new business.

The simple fact is that Michigan needs to enact a dramatic reform to its' business tax structure in order to stay competitive in the global marketplace of the 21st century. Unfortunately, I remain unconvinced that SB 94 accomplishes this goal."

Rep. Sheen, having reserved the right to explain his nay vote, made the following statement:

"Mr. Speaker and members of the House:

I cannot vote for Sb 94, because it will not help the state of Michigan. The creation of separate taxation systems runs rough shot against the supposed goals of simplification and equity in taxation of all businesses in Michigan. Establishing a base gross receipts tax rate and giving credits to in-state, but not out state businesses, so as to export a greater tax liability to out-state business is great idea, but it will be challenged as an abridgement of the Commerce Clause, because we are taxing out-state business differently than in- state. Ohio did many of the things Michigan is considering and has been challenged in court and it looks as if they will have to redo their plan. Trying to put the Senate and House plans together, which are comprised of four different taxes, with only one overlapping business income tax, is not good tax policy; it is politics at its worst.

It remains to be seen, who will be better off with the new taxation system. No matter how they duct tape the House and Senate plans together or how many additional carve outs and exceptions they create to make it work and to cut a deal, Michigan's Business Tax Structure will be a mess and even more complicated than it was before. We will still have a Gross Receipts Tax of .75% or more (which the people rejected when they over-rode the Governor's veto of the SBT), a Personal Property Tax (which every state around us has gotten rid of), with 'potential' credits for some businesses that range between 24% - 46%, if you can qualify; and we will now add a third business tax, a Business Income Tax, which ranges from 1.85% for companies generating receipts under 20 million and 5% for those above 20 million.

The goals which were set three years ago were: broaden the base, simplification, tax equity, create a system which is easy to adhere to, and make it inviting and competitive to attract new businesses to Michigan. I fear what will be passed will do none of these things and that we will have made things worse not better. So what have we really accomplished? We have simply painted the room, re-arranged the furniture and called it tax reform.

The Michigan Fair Tax Proposal (House Joint Resolution L) would be the best tax structure for the state of Michigan and would guarantee revenue sharing for townships, cities, and counties by making all revenue sharing constitutional. The Michigan Fair Tax Proposal is transparent, simple and easy to understand, easy to adhere to, it would tax in-state employers and out-state employers the same, regardless where they are headquartered. It is competitive and would attract new business, and it is equitable and taxes all economic activity equally. If the House/Senate tax plan is enacted, the Michigan Fair Tax Proposal will be Michigan's get out of jail card.

The time has come for policy to trump politics. Michigan doesn't simply need a plan, it needs the right plan. The Michigan Fair Tax Proposal is not the Republican plan or the Democratic plan. It existed long before our present crisis; it has simply been adjusted to meet Michigan's needs, just as it has in Missouri and Georgia, where it has already been introduced earlier this year. The Lansing bureaucracy and those who live off the tax revenues do not want to lose control of how it is collected, who pays more and who pays less. Their goal is not equity, simplicity, or more competition, their goal is revenue and who controls it. The Michigan Fair Tax Proposal would strip the control from the government bureaucracy and put it into the hands of the people. It would constitutionally restrain government from imposing any new statewide taxes without a vote of the people, it would make government subject to the same economic up turns and down turns as its businesses and its citizens, and people would only pay tax on what they purchased. Now what could be fairer than that?"

Rep. Ward, having reserved the right to explain his nay vote, made the following statement:

"Mr. Speaker and members of the House:

This new Michigan Business Tax is a serious mistake. It contains special carve-out treatment for certain businesses and it is more complicated than the burdensome Single Business Tax it replaces. It is likely passage of this bill will result in a several hundred million dollar tax increase on Michigan's job providers. Our single state depression will only be worsened by the new MBT. A simplified business tax based on profitability would have been much fairer and less riddled with special interest provisions."

Rep. Emmons, having reserved the right to explain her nay vote, made the following statement:

"Mr. Speaker and members of the House:

The Michigan Business Tax, as passed, fails to provide tax relief businesses need for job creation. Because the plan is based on gross receipts, a business that does not make a profit could still pay taxes, similar to the former Single Business Tax. This is not an improvement to the business climate in this state. This is not a plan that will attract business and consequently the jobs they create."

Friday, June 29, 2007

Mike Pence gives censorship a right hook

The Hill reports some good news on the First Amendment front. The elitist left wing of the Democrats (Dick Durbin, Dianne Feinstein) wanted to reinstate the so called Fairness Doctrine in their regulation attempts on the radio. This anti-Free Speech measure was rebuffed hard 309-115 with many democrats joining Mike Pence and others in their support of Freedom.

The House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to prohibit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from using taxpayer dollars to impose the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters who feature conservative radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

By a vote of 309-115, lawmakers amended the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill to bar the FCC from requiring broadcasters to balance conservative content with liberal programming such as Air America.

The vote count was partly a testament to the influence that radio hosts wield in many congressional districts.

It was also a rebuke to Democratic senators and policy experts who have voiced support this week for regulating talk radio.

House Democrats argued that it was merely a Republican political stunt because there is little danger of the FCC restricting conservative radio while George W. Bush is president.

Republicans counter that they are worried about new regulations if a Democrat wins the White House in 2008

I also find it ironic that the two leaders against Free Speech in the Senate are also two of the biggest gun grabbers as well. Durbin and Feinstein if nothing else, are consistent in their hatred for American freedoms.

The Roll Call vote is here. No Republicans voted against freedom here. In Michigan, the freedom haters are shown to be Conyers, Kilpatrick, Dingell, and Levin. Stupak and Kildee voted right on this, as did all Michigan Republicans.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cool cities? People are fleeing them

The Ann Arbor News has an interesting story.The exodus from the cities are continuing with the latest census estimates. For all the talk about cool cities, and new urbanism, and Richard Florida's claptrap, the reality is that more and more people do not want to live in cities.

Even Ann Arbor, the posterchild for urbanism in this state, lost more population, albeit narrowly.

WASHINGTON - Like most major Michigan cities, Ann Arbor lost population during the first half of this decade to the townships and villages that make up its suburbs.

A U.S. Census Bureau report released today shows that two-thirds of Michigan's cities and villages lost population between 2000 and 2006. While no region was spared, the biggest declines came in the state's major cities - Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids and Lansing.

The beneficiaries of this population shift were the smaller cities, villages and townships that make up metropolitan areas. The shifting population pattern occurred in all of the state's major cities. Villages or smaller cities on the outskirts of Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Lansing all grew, while the central cities shrank between 2000 and 2006.

The excel file from the Detroit News. shows all of the numbers.

Livingston overall gained 1.7% over last year. It's a small gain compared to previous years, but it is still the fastest growing county in the state.

Wayne County took a big loss, and not just in Detroit. Just about everywhere in Wayne County dropped outside of Canton and the Southernmost part of Downriver. Even Plymouth dropped.

Oakland County was stagnant. Generally, there was growth west of I-275 and North of 59. The "trendy" areas there all dropped in population. Royal Oak, Ferndale, etc. Macomb County narrowly gained, mostly in the Northern part of the county.

As for the central cities:
Grand Rapids narrowly lost population. It's in better shape than most cities.
Saginaw, Flint, and Bay City all took nosedives.
Detroit and Warren lost big.
Lansing as well. East Lansing was more narrow.
Kalamazoo, Muskegon Battle Creek, Albion, and Jackson had narrower losses. West Michigan is in better shape than East Michigan.
Adrian stayed about the same.
Marquette and Sault Ste Marie stayed about the same, and is doing better than much of the UP. Mackinac County (St Ignace) has had a large exodus.

Instead of cool cities, I think we need to have a cool economy here. One with jobs, low taxes, and high freedom. Leave the fluff and superficial stuff to private citizens.

Let's Legalize Mixed Martial Arts (UFC) in Michigan

As many know, I'm a big fan of Mixed Martial Arts, also known by some as Ultimate Fighting.

One of the fastest growing sports in this country is Mixed Martial Arts. It's often known as ultimate fighting. It's also illegal in Michigan, although we can watch the events in other states on Spike TV (UFC), Channel 20 (IFL), sometimes Fox Sports Detroit (Pride), and ION TV (Bodog).

Back in 1993, the UFC caused a big stir under it's old rules. No biting, throat strikes, fish hooks, or eye gouging I believe was about it. I have some of the old tapes and can dust them off to find the rules. John McCain had a snit about it, largely due to his major ties to the boxing industry, which doesn't like this new compeitition. He led a charge to ban UFC in as many avenues as possible. 36 states followed McCain's advice and banned it.

Michigan had one UFC event. UFC 9 in Detroit back in 1996. It had one of the worst fights of all time between two all time greats who usually had great matches. Dan Severn and Ken Shamrock. One of the reason the fight was weak was due to referee John McCarthy warning all the fighters not to hit with a closed fist under penalty of arrest. Before UFC9, UFC was in a court fight over this beforehand.

McCain got his way to a large extent with his pressure, and soon after UFC 9, UFC was removed from cable for a long time. In 2001, current CEO and fight promoter Dana White purchased the UFC, along with the Fertitta Brothers who owned Station Casino in Las Vegas. One of the Fertitta Brothers used to be on the Nevada State Game Comission. UFC was sanctioned in New Jersey and Nevada (under the New Jersey rules) legally and started to become mainsteam.

There's some good bipartisanship (instead of both parties getting together to take freedoms away) for a change in the state house. Not only is it bipartisanship in a good way, but both liberals, moderates, and conservatives are for this. I rarely agree with Mark Meadows on anything. He got this one right and cosponsored it. Our own Chris Ward is on board with this as well.

Barbara Farrah has introduced HB4869. This places Mixed Martial Arts under the same rules as boxing for law purposes, and uses the "New Jersey" Rules for MMA, which are generally used in the UFC currently. This is a good bill, and I support it as is. It's legalizes the UFC, and uses the same regulations the UFC is currently under.

The cosponsors are:
Barbara Farrah - (primary) (D)
Edward Gaffney (R)
Virgil Smith (D)
Dave Hildenbrand (R)
Frank Accavitti (D)
Jack Brandenburg (R)
Lisa Wojno (D)
Matthew Gillard (D)
Bert Johnson (D)
Tim Melton (D)
Mark Meadows (D)
Richard Hammel (D)
Joan Bauer (D)
David Agema (R)
Chris Ward (R)
Daniel Acciavatti (R)
James Marleau (R)
Arlan Meekhof (R)
10 Democrats and 7 Republicans are on board. Joe Hune needs to sign his name to this and make it 8.

Despite UFC's illegality here, I can name three current or former UFC stars with Michigan ties off the top of my head. Hall of Famer Dan Severn was from Coldwater. He was also a wrestling coach at Michigan State. Current UFC stars Gray Maynard and Rashad Evans were all American wrestlers at Michigan State. Unfortunately, under the current system, we can't have a UFC bout at the East Lansing Breslin Center. We can't have a UFC version of "Fight night at the Palace!" These are bigtime events that will bring tourists, business, and TV money here.

Let's legalize the UFC here in Michigan! Pass HB4869. As John McCarthy says - "Are you ready? Are you Ready? Let's get it on!"

Michigan's fireworks laws - thumbs down

The Argus just reported that a fireworks dealer lost $500K in merchandise for selling to an undercover cop.

Authorities on Tuesday seized an estimated $500,000 in fireworks — enough to fill half a pole barn from floor to ceiling — at a Howell Township home in what Livingston County Sheriff Bob Bezotte called one of the biggest seizures of fireworks he’s seen in 25 years.
“It’s the mother lode,” Bezotte said.

Sheriff’s deputies and detectives also seized an undisclosed sum of cash from the homeowner, who allegedly sold professional-grade pyrotechnics to an unlicensed buyer in a police operation. In Michigan, people need a permit to sell, transport, display or possess fireworks that fly — whether in a spin or twirls through the air — or explode.

The fireworks laws in this state are some of the stupidest laws around. They are also some of the most commonly broken laws, because there is little respect for them. There's a reason that the Indiana and Ohio borders have several fireworks stores which even have advertised on Michigan radio in the past.

Those little firecrackers - illegal. I'm not referring to cherry bombs or M-80's. Those little firecrackers are illegal. So are bottle rockets which are seen literally everywhere. Let's not even get to the classic mortar shells and Big Bear Cannons.

Now I've been around at places where all of these were shot off. I'm sure many here reading the blog have seen most if not all of these as well. I've never seen anyone get hurt from the illegal fireworks. I've only been hurt once, and that was as a little kid. I was stupid and grabbed the business end of a sparkler. It was a harsh lesson I didn't forget.

A lot of people use illegal fireworks and these things do not harm anyone unless someone is stupid. We need to stop legislating against risk and stupidity, and we do not need to be protected from ourselves. We're Michiganders, not wimps.

Let's support freedom and repeal the laws on fireworks and increase business here in this state at the expense of Indiana and Ohio profitting from our laws. Fireworks don't kill people or hurt people. People do.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More Big Government

The first is bipartisanship at its worst. It's one of these bills that sound great, but does it really need to be a LAW enforced by fines and a gun to your head?

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — More Michigan children would be required to travel in safety car seats under legislation passed Wednesday by the state House.

Current Michigan law generally requires children under 4 to ride in a child restraint system, rather than just seat belts alone.

The bills passed by the House would broaden the requirements. Children under 4-foot-9 and less than 80 pounds would have to be in a restraint system or a booster seat until they turn 8.

The main bill in the package passed by a 101-7 vote. The legislation now goes to the Senate.

Another bill would require that child restraint systems for the younger children be in the back seat, if the vehicle has a back seat. And the bills would eliminate Michigan's current exemption for a child being nursed.

"It's important that we protect our young children," said Rep. Barb Byrum, a Democrat from Onondaga and one of the package's sponsors. "This will help ensure that our kids are protected."

I understand recommendations, but I have a problem with fining people for that. Will there be checkpoints for that like there are for seatbelts?

The other big government is led by coastal democrats from Taxachusetts and Commiefornia who hate American cars.

From the AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — A group of House Democrats said Wednesday they would push for a boost in gas mileage standards for automobiles later this summer.

Both Democrats and Republicans complained that a stripped-down energy plan now under consideration by a House committee was devised to prevent them from including more ambitious proposals to raise fuel economy standards, reduce the carbon content in fuels and promote liquefied coal as a motor fuel.

"We will pass a tough fuel economy standard soon — just as the Senate has done," Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said at the start of a daylong hearing by the House Energy and Commerce Committee to consider changes to the bill.

The Senate approved a plan last week to require automakers to increase the average fuel efficiency of their new fleets to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. Markey and several California lawmakers said they intended to seek stricter requirements when the energy proposal was considered on the House floor later this summer.

With the democrats taking over the state legislature and congress, things have gone from bad to worse.

Dumb PR move

While I appreciate the middle finger that was sent to Granholm in this resolution, this is a bad time and way to do it when there is a budget crisis. This is a good way to lose the high ground in a debate. I understand it since it tells Granholm that she can't tell the senate what to do, but it's bad timing.

From the AP

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Republicans who control the Michigan Senate on Wednesday passed a rule change aimed at preventing Democrats from forcing them into session over a scheduled two-week summer break.

The move came after Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm said Tuesday that lawmakers should not go on vacation next week without resolving big pieces of state government's budget that starts Oct. 1.

There is speculation that the governor could try to call a special session of the Legislature if legislators left without addressing a potential $1.6 billion shortfall.

I have a better idea. Pass a balanced budget, lead the way, and make House take it up giving the freshman democrats tough votes, and even better - make Granholm veto it.

Democrats push for Censorship of political speech

It's the usual suspects, who also happen to be two of the biggest gun grabbers in the Senate. Dick Durbin and Dianne Feinstein. Those two fascists haven't met a freedom that they haven't tried to grab.

The Hill had a report about the latest efforts from the democrats to push the so called "Fairness Doctrine". In actuality, it's an effort to tell talk radio to sit down and shut up since they have the gall to disagree with the political leftist establishment.

From the Hill
House Republican lawmakers are preparing to fight anticipated Democratic efforts to regulate talk radio by reviving rules requiring stations to balance conservative hosts such as Rush Limbaugh with liberals such as Al Franken.

Conservatives fear that forcing stations to make equal time for liberal talk radio would cut into profits so drastically that radio executives would opt to scale back on conservative radio programming to avoid escalating costs and interference from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

They say radio stations would take a financial hit if forced to air balanced programming because liberal talk radio has not proved itself to be as profitable as conservative radio. Air America, the liberal counterpunch to conservative talk radio, filed for bankruptcy in October.

But Democratic leaders say that government has a compelling interest to ensure that listeners are properly informed.

“It’s time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). “I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they’re in a better position to make a decision.”

The Fairness Doctrine, which the FCC discarded in 1985, required broadcasters to present opposing viewpoints on controversial political issues. Prior to 1985, government regulations called for broadcasters to “make reasonable judgments in good faith” on how to present multiple viewpoints on controversial issues.

Here's the problem. Talk radio is needed to balance the "so called" balance in the so called mainstream media. The New York Times is viewed as the gold standard and the model to follow, and it also happens to be one of the most leftist papers in the country. The worst kind of leftist too. Rich corporate chattering class leftist.

The only solution is for the senate jokers to leave free speech alone and let the market decide. If people want to listen to Air America, let them win or lose on their merits. This politicial censorship from Durbin and company belongs in Stalinist Russia. It's unAmerican.

I'll go even further. Not only to I oppose the so called Fairness Doctrine, I oppose the FCC regulating any sort of content whatsoever. I support freedom and free speech.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Obama blames staff for his campaign attacks....again

Obama blames his staff again for "mistakes." This is no surprise from the first winner of the No Guts award for his refusal to make a decision.

Obama again blames staff for miscues

By John McCormick
Tribune staff reporter
Published June 21, 2007, 10:55 PM CDT

Despite often-lofty rhetoric that he plans to bring the nation a "new kind of politics," Sen. Barack Obama has surrounded himself with operatives skilled in the old-school art of the political back stab.

Yet when Obama was criticized this week for opposition research memos critical of Sen. Hillary Clinton's ties to India and Indian-Americans, he was quick to blame his staff.

"It was a screw-up on the part of our research team," he told editors and reporters with The Des Moines Register. "It wasn't anything I had seen or my senior staff had seen."

That is starting to sound familiar. It was at least the third time since February the Illinois Democrat has blamed his staff for a glitch.

Cut this holier than thou BS, Obama. You're a politician. You know the type of people you hire or people your staff hires in a campaign.

Meisler on redistricting

The Argus had a Dan Meisler editorial on Glenn Anderson's redistricting proposal.

It didn't get much interest last time. Chris Ward held a hearing, but not much happened after that.

This time around, the Associated Press, the two major Detroit newspapers and the Lansing State Journal took notice, and in an interview with me on Tuesday, Anderson said he took it as a good sign.

"The Legislature is demonstrating the inability to come together in issues that are important," he said.

One of the problems, Anderson said, is a direct result of partisan redistricting — when the party in power draws the districts, it will keep its incumbents as safe as possible, protecting them in heavily weighted districts in which they don't have to appeal to moderate voters. And I'm convinced the majority of people fall into that category and are waiting for like-minded politicians.

Instead, what they get are hyper-partisans who just have to worry about getting through their party primaries — the general elections are no problem, because their districts are weighted so heavily in their favor. The results are plain to see in Lansing.

You have two major types of redistricting when it is done by the legislature. One is what I call the "screw you" approach. The democrats pushed that in Georgia back in 01, and lost almost all their close seats. The Republicans pushed that in Texas in 01 (after the dems did it in 91). The screw you approach is an attempt to take out as many of the other side's reps as possible. In Michigan, Congressional maps were somewhat of a screw you approach (although I could have drawn a meaner map if I wanted at the expense of Stupak or S. Levin by giving Southfield to Conyers), state senate was not, and state rep was a mix of screw you and incumbent protection. The "screw you" approach can backfire, as it did in Pennsylvania, if you create too many (at the time) 51-52% GOP seats, thinking that incumbency can hold them. Curt Weldon had the most democrat seat, and it cost him. Hoeffel's seat stayed democrat, and Mike Fitzpatrick lost due to the Iraq War. Democrats were backfired in Georgia with their redistricting.

The other major type of redistricting is the incumbent protection. This was done in California back in 01 to protect their freshmen. It's the most common type of redistricting occurance, and is almost always works. A 54-55% party seat is generally safe outside of a crazy year. Massachusetts has the most incumbent friendly maps around. California's a close 2nd.

Meisler goes on and mentions my blog post here.

The one beef I have with Anderson's plan is that it would create an independent commission to do the redistricting, allowing Republicans and Democrats to appoint the members. That would cause the same gridlock and bickering that goes on now.

On this point, I agree with a recent post on the Republican Michigander blog. However, I disagree with the blog's solution of choosing the maps at random. I think the best solution is to give the job to an independent agency like the House or Senate Fiscal Agency, or another existing state department.

Anderson said he wants to create an independent commission because state agencies can be vulnerable to influence from politicians. Letting donkeys and elephants create a commission, though, isn't the best way to go. This is one case in which state bureaucrats protected from the political winds are the best hope.

I have to agree with Anderson when it comes to state agencies, although I agree with Meisler on commissions, especially picked from donkeys and elephants. With the latter, you'll have a lot of personal seats and incumbent protection schemes. With the former, the state reps and state senate seats could easily be drawn up to favor those friendly to their programs and payraises. Democrats would have a big advantage there due to fiscal liberalism. In off year elections, Eaton County is much much more democrat. It voted for Bush twice and Granholm twice. Ingham County is democrat anyway, but usually 4% more so in off-year elections. Clinton County went for Granholm last time and only 53% for Posthumus in 02, and it is consistently 56-60% GOP in presidential years. I think Clinton County was the only place I've ever seen a Bush and Granholm sticker together.

The reason why I like the random computer maps with limited municipal breaks is that it takes as much human element and biasness out as possible.

The best thing possible is the limited municipal breaks. Our reps should represent our community, and when communities are not split two/three ways (Livingston County in the 80's), they are more apt to be represented properly.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Media isn't leftist? Think again.

An interesting post over at Bill Nowling's site, Lunch Bucket Conservative.

Michigan Reporters Give To Liberal Candidates, Causes (Like that’s a shocker!)
Dedman scoured online public campaign finance reports and found 144 journalists who contributed to political campaigns and causes between 2004 and now. Of that number (and I know loyal LBC readers will be shocked) 125 — or a whopping 87 percent — gave to Democrat or Left-leaning causes. (Three Michigan journalists made the list; more on that later.)

The MSNBC report also found that news organizations varied greatly in their policies dealing with the activism of their staff, ranging from strict prohibition to nothing at all. When I was hacking for a living, it was made pretty clear to me by my editors that I could not: date the interns, drink at my desk, use profanity in my stories, and participate in partisan causes.

I managed to play by those rules, mostly because they were common sense. “We cover the news; we don’t make it,” is the adage I and countless others heard coming up through the ranks. I didn’t need a written policy to know I shouldn’t give my money or time to a candidate, even if a paltry amount.

Now, if journalists think it is OK for them to give to political causes, they should publicly disclose that. I wonder how readers/viewers would react if they got to the end of the story and read or heard a disclaimer that went like this: “Oh, by the way, they guy I just wrote about, I gave him a $1,000 check last month”? I am pretty certain the public would take a dim view and hold such reporting in suspect. But that’s just me.

Now, back to the three Michigan hacks who ponied up…they are (Click here for complete list and lamo responses from 144 the journalists):

Susan Hall-Balduf, a Detroit Free Press copy editor, gave $300 to John Kerry in July 2004. Now editing news copy, she gave when she was in features. Here’s what she said:

“I was scolded,” Hall-Balduf said. “We did a story on how easy it was to look up these records on the Internet, and they were not happy to find a couple of our own people on the list. But I made the point that I worked only in features, and I never edited any stories that have to do the election. I was told not to do it again. I wouldn’t do it again. But at the time my job was focused on the doings of Britney Spears.”

Joel Thurtell, a Detroit Free Press reporter, gave $500 to the Michigan Democratic State Central Committee in September 2004. Here’s what he said:

“Whatever the Free Press policy is,” Thurtell said, “I actually have my own policy about that: I’m a citizen of the United States. I have a right to support whatever candidate I like.”

Thurtell said his political views don’t influence his reporting, as demonstrated by his role as a reporter on the stories disclosing the ways that Democratic Rep. John Conyers used his congressional staff to run personal errands and do campaign business.

“I got tons of e-mail from liberal-type people who likened me to Karl Rove. I have tried to be as honest as I possibly can as a reporter.”

Terry Judd, reporter and chief of the newspaper’s Grand Haven bureau for the Muskegon Chronicle, gave $1,900 to the Democratic National Committee in six contributions from 2004 through 2006; and $2,000 to John Kerry in March 2004. Judd let his editor do most of the talking:

“You caught me,” Judd said. “I guess I was just doing it on the side.”

The paper’s metropolitan editor, John Stephenson, said appearances of a conflict do matter. “We run letters all the time from people who say we’re right-wing this or left-wing that.” He checked with the paper’s senior editor and found that the paper has no written policy on donations, but he said it will consider one now.

“This information makes us want to think further and more deeply about what we encourage and discourage in reporters,” Stephenson said. “We have always historically said, ‘You guys can have any political beliefs you want, just don’t wear your hearts on your sleeve, or your bumper. Truthfully, this sort of thing may be the new bumper.’ Ten years ago, you may have to have waded through a mountain of paper to find this stuff. We are rethinking. It’s OK to do something if our readers don’t know it? Is it all about appearances, or is there more principle here? It’s an interesting question.”

We have our 2nd "No Guts" award winner - Pansies in Jacksonville fire guy for doing the right thing

There's another word instead of pansies that I would like to use here. It's another name for a "cat". From in Florida

'You're fired,' man hears after saving a woman's life

The 24-year-old grabbed a gun before going to help his neighbor who had been shot.

By Jim Schoettler, The Times-Union

When a neighbor screamed she'd been shot, Colin Bruley grabbed his shotgun, found the victim and began treating her bloodied right leg.
Tonnetta Lee survived Tuesday's pre-dawn shooting at her Jacksonville apartment, and her sister and a neighbor praised Bruley's actions. But his employers, the same people who own the Arlington complex where Bruley lives, reacted differently. They fired him.

Bruley, a leasing agent at the Oaks at Mill Creek, said he lost his job after being told that brandishing the weapon was a workplace violation, as was failing to notify supervisors after the incident occurred. He'd worked at the Monument Road complex since December and for the owner, Village Green Cos., since 2005.

Bruley said he was too shaken to call his supervisor immediately after the incident, which occurred just before 2 a.m., but planned to eventually do so. He also said he was acting as a citizen, not an employee, and shouldn't have been punished for trying to protect himself and others. He never fired the shotgun.

"I was expecting work to give me some kind of commendation," said Bruley, 24. "I was totally blown back. It was a crisis that most people don't go through."

I caught this Jacksonville story over on a thread on "The High Road", a 2nd Amendment message board. Stories like this piss me off. Thanks largely to insurance companies and corporations afraid of liability, as well as leftist anti-gun culture, there is a strong enforcement of forced passiveness - or cowardness - in the American workplace. You hear it all time on TV and in the papers. "Don't be a hero. Let the professionals handle it. You'll get killed, etc"

A woman gets shot in the leg. A neighbor who worked at the apartment complex (was off duty) grabs his shotgun and helps out with first aid. He did not fire the shotgun and the perp was gone. He may have saved her life. He was fired for doing so. The guy should get a medal instead.

Apparently this was on FoxNews as well according to a High Road poster. He was fired for responding to the incidence in the first place, with the shotgun being a secondary offense.

Awhile back, Barack Obama was made our first No Guts award winner. Due to the actions of The Oaks at Mill Creek,they are our 2nd winner of the No Guts award. I sure as hell wouldn't want to live there.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mike Bloomberg leaves GOP

No surprise, he was never one of us to begin with. He switched parties so he wouldn't have to deal with a tough primary in his mayoral run, and the limosine leftists and yuppies in Manhattan would back a white guy liberal "Republican" (John Lindsey) with a "tough on crime" stance over a minority or labor democrat.

NEW YORK - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday switched his party status from Republican to unaffiliated, a stunning move certain to be seen as a prelude to an independent presidential bid that would upend the 2008 race.

The billionaire former CEO, who was a lifelong Democrat before he switched to the GOP for his first mayoral run, said the change in voter registration does not mean he is running for president.

"Although my plans for the future haven't changed, I believe this brings my affiliation into alignment with how I have led and will continue to lead our city," he said in a statement.

I think Bloomberg is running in 08. He can't run as a republican since he has no chance - not to mention that anyone who would think about backing him would back Giuliani who is more charasmatic.

He's always been a domestic leftist with a neo-conservative leaning foreign policy, and most of the candidates he's supported over the years (both parties) lean that way. Joe Lieberman was his favorite last year.

I would actually rather see a leftist Democrat (Capital D) win than Bloomberg. My politics in general are almost a complete 180 opposite of Bloomberg. That said, I hope he runs, since he'd be a John Anderson on steroids. I discussed the possible 2008 run awhile back - Bloomberg - Hell no!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mike Nifong - Scumbag deserves everything he gets

I've probably always been more pro-defense attorney than most. Much of that has to do with my Second Amendment background. As an advocate of the right to keep and bear arms, I'm aware that there are over 20,000 guns on the books. There are several very tricky laws on Michigan's books. The worst one was luckily repealed thanks to the Vear law. Before Vear, it was illegal for anyone driving a car/trunk without a trunk to transport a pistol anywhere except to the range of which the individual was a member. Taking your pistol to the sheriff's office for a so-called "safety inspection" was actually a felony unless the pistol was in a trunk. Now it was almost never enforced, but it was on the books, and a couple of cops (MSP) in Jackson County did enforce that on a thought to be law abiding citizen coming home from a shooting competition. He lost his guns. The Prosecutor (now a judge I believe) at the time did not prosecute and actually tried to help the citizen get his guns back. The judge sympathized, but had to follow the law. (Wasn't argued on 2nd amendment grounds) The point there is that there are a lot of tricky laws and the discretion used is important when voting for a prosecutor/district attorney.

The worst prosecutor I've ever come across is Mike Nifong of Durham County, North Carolina. Durham, NC is the home of Duke University and also where three Duke LaCrosse players were charged with rape. The case is all over the news and it turned out these players were obviously innocent (through DNA evidence).

I'm not going to rehash the whole case here, but I'm going to concentrate on the worst aspect - the conduct of Mike Nifong, the district attorney. His action were so contemptable, that he was recently disbarred in North Carolina as an attorney. He lost his law license.

Nifong made several unprofessional remarks early in the case against the accused violating ethics codes. He did not discuss the alledged assault with the victum before filing charges. The worst part was discovery. Prosecutors are required to give evidence to the defense. Nifong refused to give the DNA test results to the defense. He withheld favorable evidence for the defense.

This was all due to politics. Nifong was one term away from getting a nice pension. He was appointed DA when the then-DA took another job. He then was up for election in 2006. Durham County is a 68% Kerry County, almost as democrat as Wayne County. The primary is the election there, and Nifong had to win the primary. Durham County is also 38% black. Throw in the fact that many of the whites are probably Duke students who are likely registered in New York and elsewhere instead, and Nifong needs to get the black vote to win. Nifong (a white guy) played the race card in this case, while it was still ongoing to win his election and finish his career.

In the end, the Duke lacrosse players were lucky. Damn lucky. They were lucky in that their families had money and that their families believed them and hired some of the best attorneys around to defend them. Most of us couldn't afford the bigtime attorneys that these individuals were able to afford. If the accused was a poor white guy from inland North Michigan, a black man from Detroit, or a Tejano from McAllen, TX, would the case turn out different? Would Nifong make a name for himself at their expense?

The sad question for all of us is this. How many more Mike Nifongs are out there? How many other times did Mike Nifong do this? How many district attorneys and prosecutors want to make a name for themselves as the expense of justice. Most prosecutors are not Mike Nifongs, but we need to be vigilant for the ones who are. Mike Nifong is infamous since he was caught.

Lastly, we all are innocent till proven guilty.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Ron Paul Phenomeon

The Washington Post as an article about Ron Paul and the internet.

This does not surprise me a bit. When it comes to the internet, three groups seem to dominate the web at this time. Populist and Progressive Democrats, gun owners and small l libertarians. Populist Republicans also have some strength, particulary with the immigration issue full swing.

The democrats are dominating as they are not the party in power. Republicans have talk radio. The Clintonian left (rich limosine liberals) have the mainstream media. The populist and progressives have Kos. Republidans were more active online in the 90's with the anti-Clinton sentiment. I'm starting to see that strain again come back against Bush and his immigration policy.

As far as gun owners, we were among the first to organize. We had to. Bill Clinton was rabidly against us as was the media. Congress was a toss up. Between the ignorance, hatchet jobs and outright lies (Dateline NBC, 60 minutes, even two particular Argus editorial, one by a former columnist, another a guest column) there was no choice but to organize and fight back the only way we know how. Numbers. Gun owners aren't as active as we once were during the Concealed Carry fights, but that can change rapidly at any time, and is once again thanks to the antics of Mr. Bloomberg and company. Places like and the High Road have strong traffic, and most political websites have a lot of gun related topics on them.

Small L libertarians are a natural fit for the internet with it's (more then than now) anti-regulatory leanings.

Ron Paul has always had a strong internet presence with this Project Freedom newsletter. During the Bill Clinton years, his presence was as big then as it is now online. Between the heavy opposition to the UN, gun grabbing, GATT/NAFTA, and tax increases, along with the support of limited government, Ron Paul's stances resonated heavily with both libertarians and the populists who were active online.

These issues also resonate today, with the Bush administration's policies on many issues. While Bush is good on taxes, he does not take the traditional republican or traditional conservative stance on limited government, having more in line with the Clinton democrats. The US is still the world's cop, which is divisive among both parties for different reasons. It is now shown that Ross Perot was right on NAFTA/GATT.

I expected Ron Paul to have a strong internet presence, and I think he'll be a candidate to watch in the primaries surprising many. The best thing about the Internet is that it has the chance to be a strong counter to the "mainstream" media. There are more candidates than Clinton, Obama, Edwards, McCain, Giuliani, and Romney. The Internet is the outlet to the rest of the candidates.

I don't know what Ron Paul's primary numbers will be, but I will not be surprised if he finishes top 3 in New Hampshire. You heard it here first.

Glenn Anderson pushes redistricting reform

From the AP.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan's method of redrawing congressional and legislative districts once every decade could become less partisan under a constitutional amendment proposed in the state Capitol.

State lawmakers now map their own seats and congressional districts after the once-every-ten-years Census, usually favoring themselves and their political parties.

Republican-drawn boundaries from 2001, for example, are a reason the Michigan GOP still has control of the state Senate and nine of 15 U.S. House seats despite the national wave of anti-war, anti-Republican sentiment that propelled Democrats in last year's election.

State Sen. Glenn Anderson, a Democrat from Westland, introduced a measure last week that would turn the power to establish district lines from the partisan Legislature to a nine-member independent redistricting commission.

"I'm not doing it out of anger that we don't have a majority," he said.

While I support redistricting reform, I do not support any commission/retired judges system. This would be not real reform, but simply incumbent protection as is most "bipartisan" redistricting.

I discussed this area awhile back as well. The
best system I can think of takes the politicians out of it completely. It's a computer (a redistricter's best friend) system with limited municipal breaks. Five to ten maps are drawn up with limited breaks. The winning map is chosen at random. It's the closest thing to "nonbiased" redistricting as we can get.

Howell approves rail

From the Ann Arbor News

Howell votes to support regional rail
EPA, U-M commit to pay part of riders' costs
Friday, June 15, 2007
News Staff Reporters
Howell city leaders are on board with plans to create a viable commuter rail line with stops between Howell and Ann Arbor as early as this fall. While the city has yet to add financial backing to the project, officials are expected to make a commitment once a formal request has been made.

City Manager Shea Charles is hesitant to put a monetary worth on the project now, but said "a successful commuter service would be a tremendous opportunity for Howell.

"If you look around the country, areas that have rail, or mass transit, are just thriving,'' he said.

I commented on this awhile back, and I'm still unconvinced. That's doubly so when there is no stop in Downtown Brighton, which has more Ann Arbor commuters than in Howell. Chilson is a good stop, and Hamburg (if there is one) would be a better stop, but I can't see this making a profit without Brighton, considering the population numbers.

I'm not dead set against this, but it must be able to pay for itself.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Rudy Giuliani Campaign sets start to plan

I'm not a fan of many of Rudy Giuliani's politics. That said, this latest move impressed me. While I'm hearing about how bad candidate Jones sucks and a bunch of pandering, Rudy comes out with some goals which made the AP. This was on his site. He called it the 12 commitments to the American people.

I will keep America on offense in the Terrorists' War on Us.
I will end illegal immigration, secure our borders, and identify every non-citizen in our nation.
I will restore fiscal discipline and cut wasteful Washington spending.
I will cut taxes and reform the tax code.
I will impose accountability on Washington.
I will lead America towards energy independence.
I will give Americans more control over and access to healthcare with affordable and portable free-market solutions.
I will increase adoptions, decrease abortions, and protect the quality of life for our children.
I will reform the legal system and appoint strict constructionist judges.
I will ensure that every community in America is prepared for terrorist attacks and natural disasters.
I will provide access to a quality education to every child in America by giving real school choice to parents.
I will expand America's involvement in the global economy and strengthen our reputation around the world.

I wouldn't call this a plan, but at least it is a set of goals and a set of priorities. We as a party have gotten too far away from this and it's killed us lately.

Now I'd like to see some specifics for the plans of Rudy, and all the rest of the candidates for that matter, but this is a nice change from "I'm the true conservative, you suck" that I've been seeing too much of lately.

Gun bill passes house HR2640

Gun legislation passed the house today by voice vote. It was a compromise bill by John Dingell and Carolyn McCarthy - HR 2640.

The NRA and GOA were split on this bill. I'm going to say "We report, you decide." If it is good or not.

First - The NRA's side of the story

The new version of the NICS Improvement Act (H.R. 2640) would require federal agencies to provide records of prohibited individuals for use in NICS. It would also provide financial incentives to states to do the same, by rewarding states that provide records to NICS and penalizing those that refuse to do so over an extended period of time.

Some pro-gun groups have claimed that H.R. 2640 would “prohibit” thousands of people from owning guns. This is not true; these bills would only enforce current prohibitions. In fact, H.R. 2640 would allow some people now unfairly prohibited from owning guns to have their rights restored, and to have their names removed from the instant check system.

The following are the key provisions of H.R. 2640, introduced by Reps. John Dingell (D-Mich.), Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) and Rick Boucher (D-Va.), which passed the House of Representatives by a voice vote on June 13, 2007.

Key Provisions of H.R. 2640

H.R. 2640 would prevent use of federal “adjudications” that consist only of medical diagnoses without findings that the people involved are dangerous or mentally incompetent.
For example, NICS currently accepts Veterans' Administration decisions that a veteran or other beneficiary is an “adjudicated mental defective” where there was no “adjudication” at all--only a decision that the patient is unable to manage his own finances. Many patients may have accepted such a decision without expecting to lose their gun ownership rights.
H.R. 2640 would eliminate purely medical records from NICS. Gun ownership rights would only be lost as a result of a finding that the person is a danger to himself or others, or lacks the capacity to manage his own affairs.

H.R. 2640 would require all federal agencies that impose mental health adjudications or commitments (such as the VA) to provide a process for “relief from disabilities.” The bill allows de novo judicial review when an agency denies relief--that is, the court would look at the application on its merits, rather than deferring to the agency's earlier decision.
As a practical matter, the mental health disability is the only firearm disqualifier that can never be removed. Criminal records can be expunged or pardoned, but mental records cannot.
While BATFE used to have the ability to accept applications to remove individuals' prohibited status, appropriations riders every year since 1992 have barred it from doing so. Allowing this process through H.R. 2640 would be an improvement over the current law.
Under H.R. 2640, even if a person is inappropriately committed or declared incompetent by a federal agency, the person would have an opportunity to correct the error--either through the agency or in court.

H.R. 2640 would prevent reporting of mental adjudications or commitments by federal agencies when those adjudications or commitments have been removed.

H.R. 2640 would also make clear that if a federal adjudication or commitment has expired or been removed, it would no longer bar a person from possessing or receiving firearms under the Gun Control Act.
This actually restores the person's rights, as well as deleting the record from NICS--a significant improvement over current law.

States that receive funding would also need to have a relief from disabilities program for mental adjudications and commitments. State relief programs would have to provide for de novo judicial review, as in the federal programs.
Relief granted by a state program would remove the federal prohibition on the person possessing or receiving a firearm under the Gun Control Act--again, an improvement over current law.
Many states have processes for temporary emergency commitments that allow a short-term commitment based only on affidavits from police, doctors or family members, without opportunity for a hearing. Because federal law prohibits gun possession by a person who “has been” committed, a person committed under such a process can't possess a gun even after full release from the temporary order. By requiring participating states to have a relief program that actually removes the disability, H.R. 2640 would be a significant improvement over current law.

The legislation would improve the accuracy and completeness of NICS by requiring federal agencies and participating states to provide relevant records. For instance, it would give states an incentive to report people such as Virginia Tech murderer Seung-Hui Cho--that is, people who were found after a full court hearing to be a danger to themselves or others, but not reported to NICS due to lack of funding or contrary state laws.

The legislation requires removal of expired, incorrect or otherwise irrelevant records. Today, totally innocent people (e.g., individuals with arrest records, who were never convicted of the crime charged) are sometimes subject to delayed or denied firearm purchases because of incomplete records in the system.

The legislation prohibits federal fees for NICS checks. Under current law, only annual appropriations riders prohibit the FBI from trying to impose fees by regulation (as the Clinton Administration proposed in 1998). A permanent ban on such a “gun tax” has been an NRA priority for nearly a decade.

The legislation requires an audit by the Government Accountability Office of funds already spent for criminal history improvements. There has only been limited documentation of how hundreds of millions of dollars intended for NICS were spent on non-NICS programs such as automated fingerprint systems.
Voluntary Psychological Treatment

Neither current federal law, nor H.R. 2640, would prohibit gun possession by people who have voluntarily sought psychological counseling or checked themselves into a hospital:

Current law only prohibits gun possession by people who have been “adjudicated as a mental defective” or “committed to any mental institution.” Current BATFE regulations specifically exclude commitments for observation and voluntary commitments. Records of voluntary treatment also would not be available under federal and state health privacy laws.

Similarly, voluntary drug or alcohol treatment would not be reported to NICS. First, voluntary treatment is not a “commitment.” Second, current federal law on gun possession by drug users, as applied in BATFE regulations, only prohibits gun ownership by those whose “unlawful [drug] use has occurred recently enough to indicate that the individual is actively engaged in such conduct.”

In short, neither current law nor this legislation would affect those who voluntarily get psychological help. No person who needs help for a mental health or substance abuse problem should be deterred from seeking that help due to fear of losing Second Amendment rights.

And then - GOA

While the entire nation was focused on the immigration bill the past couple of weeks, the gremlins on Capitol Hill were finalizing a "compromise" on gun control legislation.

The good news is that your tremendous outpouring of opposition to Rep. Carolyn McCarthy's Brady enhancement (HR 297) has sent a strong signal to Capitol Hill that this bill is unacceptable as written. The bad news is that there are some seemingly pro-gun Congressmen who are driven to get anything passed, just so they can say they did something about Virginia Tech.

So what's going on?

On Saturday, The Washington Post reported [ see ] that both the Democrats and the NRA leadership had reached a "deal" on legislation similar to the McCarthy bill. This "deal" involves a new bill that has been introduced by Rep. McCarthy (HR 2640) -- a bill that has not yet been posted on the Thomas legislative service. While all the legislative particulars are not yet available, one thing is clear: it is, as reported by the Post, a deal with Democrats. And it involves legislation introduced by the most anti-gun member of the House, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY).

The Post says that, under the new language, the federal government would pay (that is, spend taxpayers' money) to help the states send more names of individual Americans to the FBI for inclusion in the background check system. If a state fails to do this, then the feds could cut various law enforcement grants to that state. In essence, this is a restatement of what the original McCarthy bill does. The states will be bribed (again, with your money) to send more names, many of them innocent gun owners, to the FBI in West Virginia -- and perhaps lots of other personal information on you as well.

Under the terms of this compromise, the Post says, "individuals with minor infractions in their pasts could petition their states to have their names removed from the federal database, and about 83,000 military veterans, put into the system by the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2000 for alleged mental health reasons, would have a chance to clean their records."

Oh really? The Brady law already contains a procedure for cleaning up records. But it hasn't worked for the 83,000 veterans that are currently prohibited from buying guns. Gun Owners of America is aware of many people who have tried to invoke this procedure in the Brady Law, only to get the run around -- and a form letter -- from the FBI. The simple truth is that the FBI and the BATFE think the 83,000 veterans, and many other law-abiding Americans, should be in the NICS system.

After all, that's what federal regulations decree. Unless these regs are changed, Congress can create as many redundant procedures for cleaning up these records as it wants, but the bottom line is, there is nothing that will force the FBI to scrub gun owners' name from the NICS system.

Not only that, there is a Schumer amendment in federal law which prevents the BATFE from restoring the rights of individuals who are barred from purchasing firearms. If that amendment is not repealed, then it doesn't matter if your state stops sending your name for inclusion in the FBI's NICS system... you are still going to be a disqualified purchaser when you try to buy a gun.

Moreover, will gun owners who are currently being denied the ability to purchase firearms -- such as the military veterans who have suffered from post-traumatic stress -- be recompensed in any way for their efforts to "clean their records"? They will, no doubt, have to spend thousands of dollars going to a shrink for a positive recommendation, for hiring lawyers to take their case to court, etc.

And this is not to mention the fact that this procedure turns our whole legal system on its head. Americans are presumed innocent until PROVEN guilty. But these brave souls, who risked their lives defending our country, were denied the right to bear arms because of a mental illness "loophole" in the law. Their names were added to the prohibited purchasers' list in West Virginia without any due process, without any trial by jury... no, their names were just added by executive fiat. They were unilaterally, and unconstitutionally, added into the NICS system by the Clinton administration. And now the burden of proof is ON THEM to prove their innocence. Isn't that backwards?

One wonders if these military veterans will be any more successful in getting back their gun rights than the gun owners in New Orleans who tried to get back their firearms which were confiscated in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. (Gun owners in the Big Easy have found it very difficult to prove their case and get their guns back, even though the courts have ruled that the police acted improperly in confiscating their firearms.) But isn't that the problem when honest people are thrust into the position of PROVING their innocence to the government, rather than vice-versa.

The fact is, current federal law -- combined with BATFE's interpretations of that law -- will make it very unlikely that any court will restore the Second Amendment rights of those 83,000 veterans.

Finally, the Post article also says the "federal government would be permanently barred from charging gun buyers or sellers a fee for their background checks." Well, that sounds good, but GOA already won this battle in 1998 when we drafted and pushed the Smith amendment into law.

GOA had to overcome opposition from certain pro-gun groups to help Senator Bob Smith (R-NH) introduce and push his language as an amendment to an appropriations bill. The Smith amendment barred the FBI from taxing gun buyers, something which the Clinton administration was considering doing.

GOA won the vote in the Senate with a veto-proof majority and the Smith amendment has been law ever since. But now we're being told that we need to swallow McCarthy's poison pill so that the Smith amendment -- which is currently law -- will stay on the books. Huh?!

ACTION: Gun Owners of America is the only national pro-gun organization opposing the McCarthy bill, so it is imperative that you contact your representative immediately. Please take action today and spread the word about HR 2640! We need all the help we can get.

So which side do you believe? Thomas has the bill itself. I've been more of a GOA guy myself, especially with the unintended consequences I've seen with the Patriot Act and other bad federal bills and the way they become interpreted.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Howell School Board member resigns

More changes are on the way in Howell Schools. From the Argus:

Jeanne Clum, a longtime member of the Howell Public Schools Board of Education, said Monday she would step down from the board because of health reasons.

More Lansing Big Government assailing property right

Once again, big government statists lead by democrats are assulting property rights.

The mother and son from Ferndale want smoking to be banned in Michigan restaurants, bars and workplaces. And on Tuesday, they will get their chance to speak directly with state lawmakers, who have scheduled a rare hearing on legislation before the House Commerce Committee that would do just that.

Similar bills proposed in the last seven years got just one hearing — in 2004 — and never received a vote when the Legislature was controlled by Republicans. But now Democrats lead the House, bringing hope to health groups and other supporters of a statewide smoking ban.

The Democratic-sponsored legislation is opposed by the Michigan Restaurant Association and Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, which say eateries and bars should be free to decide whether to allow smoking based on free-market competition without intrusion from the government.

The restaurant group's spokesman, Andy Deloney, says the number of smokefree restaurants and taverns has nearly doubled since 1998 — evidence that eateries already are responding to customers who prefer smokefree atmospheres.

"All we're saying is why have the state step in when people are very able to make decisions for themselves," Deloney says. "We're talking about privately owned establishments. They don't take very kindly to someone saying, 'You know what? I don't like the way you're running your business.'"

I don't smoke ciggarettes, and I am asthmatic. I want to get that across before anything else here. This is not an issue of whether I am pro or anti smoking. I'm neutral there. This is about property rights and the rights of owners to decide what they can allow in their PRIVATE estabishments.

There are places here in Livingston County which do not allow smoking. The Copper Pickle banned it completely. That is their choice, and they should be entitled to make their choice. Other places rely on smokers for their business. That should be their choice at the same time. In fact this ban hurts existing smoke free places, as that is a niche they can use in their marketing.

Lastly, the big government statists here aren't pushing to ban smoking in public buildings. That's already the case for the most part. Public buildings are government buildings. The statists are pushing to tell what private business are allowed to do on their own property. That's not right, and I oppose these bills for that reason.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Chris Ward switches support to Fred Thompson

The Argus broke this today. I've heard rumors about this yesterday, but wanted to confirm it with two sources before posting. The rumor is true.

State Rep. Chris Ward, R-Brighton Township, has thrown his support in the Republican presidential primary race behind television actor and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson. Ward had previously endorsed Arizona Sen. John McCain, with whom he shares support for campaign-finance reform.

But now Ward said that Thompson "has shown the type of strong leadership we need in the White House. He has a proven record in the United States Senate and is the most electable Republican."

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Big Media - "22 gauge gun?"

One thing you can count on in the papers is to get their facts wrong on just about anything related to guns. Here's another example. Like most of the left-leaning media, The Lansing State Journal shows its ignorance when it comes to guns once again. This one is really bad.

A bullet fired from a .22-gauge gun killed Ronald Lee Wells on Aug. 6, 2006, according to testimony Monday in the courtroom of Ingham Circuit Judge Paula Manderfield.

Michigan State Police Sgt. Reinhard Pope testified three shell casings were found in Wells' apartment after the murder: two .22-gauge casings and one 9-mm casing.

The 9-mm bullet was in the wall between the living room and the bedroom. One .22-bullet was found in the couch. It had shot through the bedroom wall. The other bullet was lodged inside Wells.

I've never heard of a .22-gauge gun before reading that article.

If you're elected - show up to work

When you only show up to TWO - missing TEN out of 12 meetings, that means you shouldn't be there. When you are elected to a public office, you should show up at business meetings. Out of all the meetings for any organization of which I've been a board member/executive committee, I believe I missed one meeting. It's something I take seriously, and something I expect from public officials. Not showing up is not acceptable outside of a very good excuse.

From the Argus

The Howell Public Schools Board of Educationhas been short-handed for the last six months because a longtime board member has missed most of the meetings since November, apparently because she has been out of the state tending to a hurricane-damaged home in Florida.
Mary Jo Dymond, a former president of the board, has only attended two of the 12 scheduled and special school board meetings this year, according to board minutes. She also missed the last two meetings in 2006.

She participated in graduation ceremonies Saturday, but declined to answer questions about her absences or future plans on the board. She repeated that stance in an e-mail message to the Daily Press & Argus on Monday night.

Obviously repairing a Florida home is high priority. However, should she stay on the board if she either lives in Florida or is spending most of her time there? Could all the residents of Howell not do as good of job as she does when absent for about 85% of the meetings?

If you can't make 85% of your required meetings where you have advanced knowledge, it's time to resign and let someone else take over until you take care of your other committments. Once those are taken care of, by all means run for election again.

It's time we expect more of our public officials.

Partial Birth Abortion ban in Michigan tossed out by 6th Circuit appeals

I have not read the decision, and don't know if the circuit ruled because of bad precident by SCOTUS, or if they were activist judges on this. 6th Circuit is bound by precident, even if it is bad.

from WLNS

An appeals court has declared Michigan's abortion law unconstitutional. The 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a Detroit district judge that Michigan's legal birth definition act places an undue burden on a woman's right to choose an abortion.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Meet the New Boss....Same as the old boss

Same old story same old song and dance, same as it ever was, meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Pick your favorite classic rock song on that matter, since it applies to politics as well. I thought the democrats were claiming to be fiscally responsible. I thought they were going to be different than the Ted Stevens wing of the GOP. Same as it ever was. It's no surprise actually, more democrats voted for the Bridge to Nowhere than did republicans. David Obey is laying down the law on us.

The AP actually called them out on it in the Star-Tribune.
WASHINGTON - After promising unprecedented openness regarding Congress' pork barrel practices, House Democrats are moving in the opposite direction as they draw up spending bills for the upcoming budget year.
Democrats are sidestepping rules approved their first day in power in January to clearly identify "earmarks'' - lawmakers' requests for specific projects and contracts for their states - in documents that accompany spending bills.

Rather than including specific pet projects, grants and contracts in legislation as it is being written, Democrats are following an order by the House Appropriations Committee chairman to keep the bills free of such earmarks until it is too late for critics to effectively challenge them.

Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., says those requests for dams, community grants and research contracts for favored universities or hospitals will be added to spending measures in the fall. That is when House and Senate negotiators assemble final bills to send to President Bush.


Now I expect this from the democrats (and Ted Stevens, and any Hawaii or Alaska rep from either party). This is what they do. It's why you got Granholm here on the state level dead set on tax increases, and Bill Clinton's 1993 push for energy and gas tax increases(the gas tax increased passed). Tax and spend.

Our own party needs to continue to expose Abscam crook Murtha and his earmarks, shed more spotlight on Obey here, and make this the face of the democrats - while at the same time keeping Ted Stevens and his wing in check to avoid the hypocracy that occured in the last few years causing us to lose the Reagan Democrats in 06.