Sunday, September 30, 2007

House Votes

Bad news, both tax increases, the sales and income, passed the house. They are trying again on MESSA.

MESSA passed the Senate already. The tax bills are in the senate as I type this.

Once all is finished, I'll be posting the major roll call votes (MESSA, final house votes, final senate votes, and if applicable, the conference committee votes of the final bills)

I'll also say that with or without MESSA reform, I opposed this deal as it stands now at 11:50. It's not good enough. With MESSA, it's like losing the Motor City Bowl. Going to a bowl game isn't a complete loss. Without MESSA reform, it's flat out Darryl(ect) Rogers (with Lions, not MSU) bad, and I'd expect nothing less from the Matt Millen of governors.

I'd call this a turkey, but why insult a good bird.

(UPDATE - MESSA passed the house 56-53)

Bad to Worse?

The budget details are looking worse and worse.

Right Michigan has some good details. So does State Rep Jack Hoogendyk who is in the middle of the battle.


Newt's not running. From MSNBC:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will not run for president in 2008 after determining he could not legally explore a bid and remain as head of his tax-exempt political organization, a spokesman said Saturday.

“Newt is not running,” spokesman Rick Tyler said. “It is legally impermissible for him to continue on as chairman of American Solutions (for Winning the Future) and to explore a campaign for president.”

Also, the budget is still in negotiations. Lansing pushed for a SECOND tax IN ADDITION to the income tax. Remember the taxes on services? That's making a real nasty comeback. No republicans voted for it, but head's up.

To say my guard is up right now is an understatement. The worst part is that we have three years of that idiot Granholm unless we recall her - and I'm damn well up for that recall.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

DC Gun ban - SCOTUS Preview

One of the plaintiff's attorneys, Robert Levy of the libertarian leaning CATO Institute gives DC a lesson in the law:

On September 4, the District of Columbia government asked the Supreme Court to reverse a federal appellate decision in Parker v. District of Columbia, 478 F.3d 370 (D.C. Cir. 2007), which upheld a Second Amendment challenge to D.C.'s ban on all functional firearms. The six D.C. residents who brought the lawsuit — although they won in the lower court — agree with the city that the Supreme Court should revisit the Second Amendment for the first time since 1939. A four-square pronouncement from the High Court is long overdue. The entire nation, not just Washington, D.C., needs to know how courts will interpret "the right of the people to keep and bear arms." Sometime before yearend, the justices will decide whether to review the case. If the Supreme Court chooses to intervene, a final decision will probably be issued by June 30, 2008.

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and attorney general Linda Singer, in their petition to the Supreme Court and in a Washington Post op-ed ("Fighting for Our Handgun Ban," September 4), raise four arguments in support of the city's ban. Their first argument is that the Second Amendment ensures only that members of state militias are properly armed, not that private citizens can have guns for self-defense and other personal uses. That contentious question has been debated at length on these pages. See Dennis Henigan, "The Mythic Second," March 26, 2007; and Robert A. Levy, "Thanks to the Second Amendment," April 16, 2007.

The city's remaining three arguments — two legal claims and one policy claim — have received comparatively less attention. First, declares the mayor, even if the Second Amendment protects private ownership of firearms for non-militia purposes, a ban on all handguns is reasonable because D.C. allows possession of rifles and shotguns in the home. Second, the Amendment restricts the actions of the federal government, but not the states, and D.C. should be treated the same as a state for Second Amendment purposes. And third, "handgun bans work"; the streets of the Nation's Capital are safer as a result. Let's consider each argument in turn.

It's okay to ban handguns as long as rifles and shotguns are permitted.

The D.C. Circuit, for good reason, called that argument "frivolous." "It could be similarly contended," wrote Senior Judge Laurence Silberman, "that all firearms may be banned so long as sabers were permitted." After all, D.C. does not ban home possession of knives or hatchets. Does that justify the city's handgun ban? Could publication of cookbooks be barred under the First Amendment as long as restaurant guides were allowed?

Moreover, the D.C. Code bans not just handguns, but all functioning firearms. Rifles and shotguns in the home must be unloaded and either disassembled or bound by a trigger lock. That's why one of the Parker plaintiffs, who owns a shotgun, had to sue in order to render the weapon usable in an emergency.

Not to worry, says the mayor. "The District does not … construe this provision [regarding rifles and shotguns] to prevent the use of a lawful firearm in self-defense." That assurance might be heartening were it not disingenuous. Once a rifle or shotgun is loaded, it is no longer a "lawful firearm." Accordingly, D.C.'s pledge, limited to lawful weapons, is an empty one. A gun must be operative before it can be used in self-defense. Any owner who waits to load and assemble a gun until it's needed for self-defense has waited too long. If the mayor means what he says, he should have no problem repealing the city's ban on home possession of functional rifles and shotguns, as the Parker plaintiffs have demanded.

D.C. is like a state, and the Second Amendment doesn't apply to states.

The District relies on an 1886 case, Presser v. Illinois, for the proposition that the Second Amendment applies only to the federal government, not to the states. Admittedly, D.C. is not a state. But, says the mayor, the city should be treated the same as a state when courts review its gun control regulations. Therefore, so the argument goes, the city is immune from a Second Amendment challenge.

That argument fails on two counts. First, none of the amendments in the Bill of Rights originally applied to the states. Beginning in 1897, however, 11 years after Presser, the Supreme Court decided that the post-Civil War enactment of the 14th Amendment was intended to "incorporate" most of the Bill of Rights in order to hold state governments accountable for violations. To be sure, the Court never formally ruled that the Second Amendment was incorporated, but even ultra-liberal Ninth Circuit judge Stephen Reinhardt has conceded that "Presser rest[s] on a principle that is now thoroughly discredited."

Second, even if states are exempt from the Second Amendment, the Constitution expressly grants to Congress, not a state, plenary legislative power over all matters whatsoever in the Nation's Capital. Because the Second Amendment indisputably applies to the federal government, it therefore applies to the District, a federal enclave. D.C.'s assertion that its city council, a creature of Congress, should enjoy an exemption from the Second Amendment that binds Congress itself, is quite simply bizarre. If it were true, then the Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial in civil cases — which also hasn't been incorporated — would not apply to D.C. But the courts have held otherwise. See, e.g., Pernell v. Southall Realty (U.S. 1974).

The city responds that the Second Amendment is different because, unlike the Seventh, the Second is a limitation on federal power over the states. In effect, that's the collectivist or states' rights view of the Second Amendment. Thus, the District's claim of exemption merges with, and depends on, its collectivist interpretation of the Second Amendment. If D.C. is wrong about the Second Amendment, then its "no-incorporation" argument collapses as well.

"Handgun bans work"; they've "saved countless lives."

Before the District banned handguns in 1976, the murder rate had been declining. But soon afterward, the rate climbed to the highest of all large U.S. cities. It also rose relative to nearby Maryland and Virginia as well as relative to other cities with more than 500,000 people. During the 31-year life of the ban, with the exception of a few years during which the city's murder rate ranked second or third, there have been more killings per capita in Washington, D.C. than in any other major city.

In 12 of the years between 1980 and 1997, including all nine years from 1989 through 1997, the violent crime rate in D.C. exceeded 2,000 per 100,000, reaching a high of 2,922 in 1993, versus 1,481 in 1976 — a 97 percent increase in violent crime, 17 years after citizens were forbidden from defending themselves with firearms. Moreover, the murder rate climbed as high as 81 per 100,000 inhabitants in 1991 — triple the pre-ban levels. As of 2005, the last year for which I have data, the murder rate is still 32 percent above the 1976 level.

Two non-partisan, respected federal government agencies recently examined gun controls and found no statistically significant evidence to support their effectiveness. In 2004, the National Academy of Sciences reviewed 253 journal articles, 99 books, and 43 government publications evaluating 80 gun-control measures. The researchers could not identify a single gun-control regulation that reduced violent crime, suicide, or accidents. A year earlier, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on an independent evaluation of firearms and ammunition bans, restrictions on acquisition, waiting periods, registration, licensing, child access prevention laws, and zero tolerance laws. Conclusion: none of the laws had a meaningful impact on gun violence.

Based on those statistics, there's a compelling argument that Americans deserve an opportunity to defend themselves by possessing suitable firearms. But even if the data were to cut the other way — even if it could be demonstrated (which it emphatically cannot) that more gun laws lead to less crime — gun laws are not just about public policy. They're about the meaning of the Constitution. Hopefully, the U.S. Supreme Court, at long last, will answer this vital question: Does the right to keep and bear arms belong to us as individuals, or does the Constitution merely recognize the collective right of states to arm the members of their militias?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

116 million in waste. Thanks Granholm!

How arrogant. You're DEMANDING a tax increase, and want to feed us this BS?

As the threat of a government shutdown looms, Chief Investigator Steve Wilson is asking some tough questions of about a $116 million construction project for the state police.

Steve Wilson story pt 1

Steve Wilson story pt 2

This isn't some simple MSP project. It's a 25 year lease with Democrat leader Joel Ferguson (MSU trustee and wannabe football coach). Fergie gives tons of money to the dems and gets a sweetheart deal here in the budget.

And they want us to pay or this with a major league debt? All I can say to this is three words. Go to hell.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Public Statement from Chris Ward's office

I received this in an email from Chris Ward's office. Others here may have received the same.


We are moving closer and closer to a shutdown of the state of Michigan and wanted to take this opportunity to let you know some of what has been happening in Lansing. I understand how frustrated everyone has become with the state legislature and our inability to pass a sensible budget to keep Michigan functioning well. I appreciate all the calls and emails from you (even if you don’t agree.) It is encouraging to know citizens are paying attention and care enough to write a letter or make a phone call.

I, too, am frustrated at the lack of progress and the unwillingness of all state government officials to “step up to the plate” to reach a compromise position. This is an excellent opportunity to make long-needed cuts and reforms that we have been trying to accomplish since Governor Engler was in office. Compromise, cuts and reforms can help with the long term financial health of Michigan, as well as solve the immediate fiscal crisis.

I have been working with everyone I can to break the log jam on reforms by bringing as many from both sides together to identify what both parties can agree on and what changes can be made that will still allow legislation that is effective but amenable to both sides. I have personally met with our Speaker of the House, the Governor and several members from both sides of the Michigan House and Senate. I am still hopeful we will have solutions in place. They will most likely involve reforms, cost containment measures, concessions in new spending and a revenue increase.

There are no decisions to be made with our current budget situation that will make everyone happy. Realizing this, it became important to me to actively seek a solution. As you know, I have always been in favor of less government and less taxes. The current situation has made it impossible, even after cuts, to leave the tax rate where it has been. The reforms will not save money immediately, but will leave Michigan in a better fiscal position in the future.

The solution I support means passing several bills that are“tie-barred” including the reform bills along with restoring the income tax to its’ previous level of 4.6%. This means all the bills must pass or none of them pass, ensuring the reforms are put into place along with the increase in income tax.

Some of the reforms being negotiated are:

Corrections reforms (privatizing some services)
State and public school employee retirement and retirement health care reform
Prohibiting “double dipping” by public employees (freezing pension benefits for retired employees who become re-employed)
Reducing legislative salaries and benefits
Changes in Medicaid to reduce fraud
Equity in school funding (making sure all children in the state are valued the same)
If a shutdown does occur it is quite possible that we will end up without any desired reforms and a hike in the income tax anyway. I don’t know where we will end up with the whole package but am doing my best to use this opportunity to make sure Michigan state government is as lean and responsible as possible.

If for some reason the process breaks down and we do not have a budget by the end of this week, it is my personal opinion that it will not be the fault of the Democrats, the Republicans or the Governor. It will be the fault of the legislature as a whole and I will have to take my portion of the blame. That is why I am committing to you to continue to do everything I can to come to resolution.

Thank you for your patience with this situation. I do take my responsibilities seriously and am doing my best to make good decisions for the citizens of Michigan. We will continue to face difficult decisions in state government, so please stay in touch. I value your input.



Republican Floor Leader
State Representative
66th District

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The state budget and our county's reps

The big issue right now is the budget and taxes. As we all know, Chris Ward and Valde Garcia have broke from the party on their votes. Chris on taxes, and Valde on the budget cuts. I've been getting a lot of heat from the right from both in county and non-county residents on this. I've gotten calls and emails asking me almost in a Vince Lombardi voice, "What the hell is going on out there?"

The Argus has an interesting story on this, focusing on the reps involved.

Livingston County lawmakers are emerging as high-profile participants in the scramble to come up with a budget solution before the new fiscal year starts on Monday.
State Sen. Valde Garcia, R-Marion Township, cast the only Republican vote against nearly $600 million in budget cuts on Sunday. And state Rep. Chris Ward, R-Brighton Township, who similarly broke with his party last week on an income-tax increase vote, has been named to an important joint conference committee tasked with tackling the revenue side of the budget stalemate.

The moves make them the only two Republicans who have publicly broken with their party to either limit the amounts of cuts that are proposed or to admit that increased taxes are necessary to cover at least part of the projected $1.7 billion shortfall.

There was the background.

Chris Ward was named to a conference committee on this. I did talk to Chris's office before his vote. I was told there was no deal at the time, and that he was working on the deal. I know there are some reforms he is after and is trying to get, particulary on school matters which has been one of his top issues. I think he's winning to compromise, but I don't think he's going to roll over and cave.

I do not consider Chris Ward a RINO (Republican in name only). Still don't. I've known him for several years, and as a rep, he's generally been solid on fiscal matters. If I had to simplify Chris's views, it is ideologicaly mainstream conservative, but pragmatic first. The number one issue he ran on is competence. The theme in all his campaign lit was "Chris Ward gets things done." This here is his biggest challenge, and he's taking the steps tacticaly he thinks needs to be done. He's looks for consensus more often than not. In my own opinion, I think he's going after some of the sacred cows of the democrats so we can get some real reform in this state. The MEA right now is scared to death of losing MESSA and it's extremely high overhead and others are scared to death about changes in government pensions. Unless these are taken care off, budgets will skyrocket for years to come.

Chris is one of the smartest people I know when it comes to politics. He's not afraid to take risks when it is necessary, but also is cautious at times when that is called for. We need to keep in mind that this is not a final vote. That is why I'm witholding judgment on Chris for now on this, and why you see this quote below.

Ward, who gave up his duties as minority floor leader when he voted for the tax increase, said he hopes to use the committee seat to advance the issue of equitable funding for school districts and benefit costs for teachers.

He said there is a proposal to bring all school districts to the same per-pupil funding level within 10 years, and another to give school boards more tools to competitively bid health-care benefit contracts.

"I've got some priorities for my state and my district I'm going to be looking for," he said.

Dan Wholihan of the Republican Michigander Web log said he thinks anti-tax sentiment is strong in Livingston County.

He withheld judgment on Ward's moves, because they were part of a tentative deal with Democrats: "I'm waiting to see the final bill before I comment."

But he would prefer an all-cuts solution to the budget.

"I don't think there is support for a tax increase in the county. I personally do not support a tax increase," he said.

As for Garcia's vote, Wholihan said he wasn't surprised.

"He does have a history of going his own way on budgetary matters," Wholihan said.

Personally, I like Valde. He's a real nice guy. On life issues and 2nd Amendment issues, I never have to worry about his vote. He always comes through there. On budget matters, I'm always holding my breath, especially ever since the "tax shift". With that combined with his recent comments, I am not surprised in the least, sad to say. He goes his own way on budgetary matters. Sometimes I agree, sometimes like now, I disagee.

Another story which was news to me until I heard from Dan Meisler was 30 ex-republicans signing a letter supporting a mix of reforms, cuts, and taxes. I found that several (not all) of those who signed that were part of the problem in the first place. Especially Ken Sikkema, who was senate majority leader before Mike Bishop. Joe Schwarz has been pushing taxes for years. When there is Schwarz, there is also Harry Gast. Dan DeGrow has always been a squish (which is why his race for AG against Cox never got off the ground). Sikkema gets to my next point and part of quote.

Generally, Wholihan put most of the blame on the budget mess on Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, but also said Republicans haven't been as fiscally responsible as they should have been.

"There's plenty of blame to go around," he said.

Granholm's the constant in all the problems, but there is plenty of blame to go around. Sikkema in the senate (02-06) and the 2002-2004 block of about 10-15 term limited house Republicans, including former speaker Rick Johnson. Those are who I had in mind when I said that there is plenty of blame to go around. Granholm and the democrat (then) minority wanted her "fee" increases in 04 and the tax shift in 06. She got them. The gimmicks and "fee" increases, sin taxes, and higher costs in general brought us to this current clusterbleep. Granholm got all she wanted on budgetary issues so far. It got us here. The former house and former senate leadership got what they wanted. It got us democrat control of the house (after starting with 63 seats) and a narrow majority in the senate. I blame them as much as Granholm. However, they are gone, while Granholm stayed.

One other thing. I'm hearing a lot of talk about recalls, mostly aimed at the republicans who vote for takes like Garcia. If we are going to recall people, let's start at the biggest problem of them all, that being the "Matt Millen of governors" herself, Jennifer Granholm. We have elections for state reps in about a year. Granholm we're stuck with for three years unless we recall her and send her home. She helped screw over the budget every year for five years.

I have one other major concern besides policy issues. That's the brand name image of Republicans here in Livingston County. With the spending problems in both Lansing and Washington, as well as the tax increases, what is going to happen to small government? We can't be democrat-lite in our size of big government. That's a good way for democrats to start winning around here.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Worst non-overturned SCOTUS decision in history???

Don't like Congressional big government, much of the blame can go toWickard v Filburn under the name "commerce clause".

There's a few other cases that could be mentioned at SCOTUS (Supreme Court) level, but that's one that at least deserves dishonorable mention.

Draft Gore and reduce jobs in Michigan even further?

Leave it to Bob Alexander (ran in 02 against Mike Rogers) to support drafting Al "Ban all Cars" Whore who would be as much of a disaster for the country, as the Matt Millen of governors has been for this state.

From the AP

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan supporters of Al Gore are launching a petition drive to make sure his name can be on the Jan. 15 presidential primary ballot if he decides to enter the race.

They have to submit 12,396 valid signatures to the secretary of state's office by Oct. 23 to get the job done. Gore won Michigan in his unsuccessful 2000 presidential bid, but so far has not said he'll run.

Under rules for the Jan. 15 Michigan primary, the state party chairmen had to give the secretary of state's office by Sept. 11 a list of potential nominees who would be on their respective ballots.

Believe it or not Bob, I'll sign it. The nastier the democrat fight is, the better.

Newt Gingrich's speech at Mackinac (A must see)

Special Thanks to Right Michigan for posting this on his site.

Newt stole the show at Mackinac. Click on the link above to see why.

7th District - Jim Berryman is out

Breaking news From the AP

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Former Democratic state Sen. Jim Berryman of Adrian told supporters Sunday that he is withdrawing from the race to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg in the 2008 election.

Berryman, who works for the Michigan Education Association, said he dropped out because he didn't want to have two candidates splitting the labor endorsement. State Sen. Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek, announced in late August that he was getting into the race for the 7th District, which includes parts of seven counties in south-central Michigan.

"The Democratic candidate is going to need all the resources available, both physical and financial, to replace the current congressman. Having two friends of labor going at each other in a primary will only be a distraction and lessen our chances of victory in the fall of 2008," Berryman said in a statement to supporters Sunday night.

I actually think Berryman would have been a stronger candidate than Schauer (geography reasons). We'll see what happens.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Rocky II? (Levin v Raczkowski)

It looks like Rocky Raczkowski may be running against Levin again. From the AP

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. (AP) — Next year's U.S. Senate race is looking like it could be a rematch between longtime Democratic incumbent Carl Levin and Republican Andrew "Rocky" Raczkowski.

Raczkowski spoke briefly Saturday at a Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference luncheon, the usual biennial kickoff for the following year's elections. He didn't commit while he was on the island to running, but says he has set up an exploratory committee and is considering challenging Levin a second time.

Another Republican, state Rep. Jack Hoogendyk of Kalamazoo, told The Associated Press by telephone Sunday that he's also considering the race. He said he has received encouragement from party leaders and from supporters who got to know him during his six-month bid for governor in 2005. Hoogendyk withdrew without challenging Dick DeVos for the 2006 GOP nomination and is serving his last two-term in the state House.

Raczkowski, 38, said his military service overseas since his unsuccessful 2002 run against Levin have given him a different outlook than when he took on Levin while still a state representative from Farmington Hills. Now a businessman and major in the U.S. Army Reserves, he said he has lost six friends in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He now considers himself less a Republican and more an advocate for U.S. soldiers and those hurt by Michigan's troubled economy.

"I am vehemently disappointed with this administration's mismanagement of the war and with the fact that they don't seem to have much of a receptive ear to this economy and the automotive ear," Raczkowski said, speaking of decisions made by President Bush.

But while Levin, head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has been pushing a proposal that seeks to restrict the mission of troops to fighting terrorists and training the Iraqi security force, Raczkowski doesn't want to go that far.

"He's always been a thoughtful gentleman," Raczkowski said. "But quitting now is a practice that I as a soldier cannot accept and that we can't stand as a country."

I always thought Rocky could have been a very good candidate in 2002. If the party supported him, I think we could have pulled off the upset of Levin. He was right on the issues. He was an excellent speaker. He had presense. He's excellent in working a crowd. He's won three times in a very difficult district out in Farmington Hills (a district that voted for Gore and Kerry). The two things he did lack are name recognition and money. The first part is tough to find and those who don't have it need to work at it for years to correct it. I'm not a good public speaker. I can get by if I have to, and it took me a long time just to do that. The last parts - money and name recognition - can be corrected in a short period of time with help. If Rocky runs and is our candidate - we need to help him.

One thing that irked me to no end back in 02 (and still does) was what the state party did to him. It was despicable. They threw him to the wolves and gave him no support whatsoever. At the state convention, they were gutless wonders and didn't let him speak until the convention was practicaly over. The keynote speakers was finished and the closing occured. Most of the crowd left. I was on my way out, until I saw that Rocky was speaking. They did that since they were so afraid of Rocky upending the gubenatorial candidate, Dick Posthumus. Instead of having Rocky help raise the chance of Posthumus winning, they pushed him down. That wasn't right, and I hope Saul learned from State Party 02's mistakes. I do not expect there to be a repeat. I should mention that a repeat abandonment here would just allow Levin to help other candidates across the country, instead of keeping his money here at home.

Most people don't know much about Carl Levin, or his stances on the issues which are out of step with Michigan. He's just "there", and relies on his images of "rolling up his sleeves" to work, backing the auto industry, and a foreign policy stance that changes with the wind. What he does effectively for the state in the last 15 years except vote right on CAFE standards - which he is now caving on with boss Reid forcing him in line?

Could Rocky win? With support - I think he can win. His stances on issues are closer to mainstream Michigan. His well-rounded experience in the military, business, and legislative backgrounds also give him a good boost. His speaking ability can sell people that he meets - but he can't do it if he's thrown to the wolves with no help whatsoever, as was the case in 02.

He got 38% there with no help. We need between 11-12% more. That's tough, but certainly possible. Candice Miller was crushed by David Bonior before she beat another instituion in Richard Austin. Mike Simpson lost at least twice before winning. Let's get some guts for once and actually target a seat that conventional wisdom says we can't win.

Report from Mackinac Conference, 2007

I arrived at the island as an uncommitted voter. I left even more of an undecided voter, although if Newt Gingrich declared at the island, I'd probably sign up for his campaign. Newt really stole the show there.

Tancredo, Brownback and unfortunately Huckabee backed out. I wanted to hear Huckabee speak considering his strong performance at the debates. I never heard him in person yet. I missed the speeches from Rudy, McCain, Duncan Hunter, and Fred Thompson. Right Michigan, Bill Nowling, E.M. Zanotti, and Redstate have some posts on Mackinac including the speeches that I missed. I did catch McCain who spoke briefly at a different event Friday night. Earlier that day, McCain was at an NRA event. Code Pink jokers came in there and disrupted the event, and McCain told them that they were defeated before and would be defeated again. One thing that did impress me with McCain there is that he talked to a lot of people after his speech - and not just those who paid the extra $60 it costs for the dinners on the conference. I don't see that a lot with candidates anymore.

I did see Ron Paul and Mitt Romney's speeches. Ron Paul did a good job and had some good support there - enough to make some of the establishment more than a little nervous. Much of his attacks are on the size of government. He's also no fan of globalization, and there is a strong anti-globalist view still in the GOP, particulary on trade issues among Michiganders. I'm no fan of the WTO myself, although I did think Ron Paul should have added one thing on his WTO attack - that they are unelected bureaucrats with control over Michigan and American trade with other countries. I don't agree with everything he says, but after eight years of a moderate southern democrat (at least in practice) masquerading as a republican in Bush, small government is a good message.

Romney's speech was a disapointment. I look at his business background, his work with budgets in Massachusetts, and work with the olympics, and would have liked to hear much more on that. "It's the economy, stupid." I really don't give a rat's rear end about gay marriage right now (That fight's over in Michigan), and I don't like amending the constitution. There was some good in his speech, mostly about ethics and issues like that. We can't put with the Don Sherwoods, Mark Foleys, and Duke Cunninghams of the world. Romney can deliver that message and needs to keep that. He needs to run on his strength and stop pandering to a suspicious right. To the "religious right", it's the records that matter most, and they will always doubt him because of his Massachusetts record. They will also respect him less for pandering. I'm not a "religious right" voter outside of the life issue (which is the BIGGEST issue among the RR), but I do know many conservative Catholics and evangelicals, and they are sophisticated voters who do not like pandering or hypocracy among candidates. Romney has a shot to win those voters with his personal background, judicial stance, and fiscal plans. He has no shot to win them by talking about "In God we Trust" on the side of coins, or by running on gay marriage. "I'm conservative too" isn't good enough. Right now, fiscal trumps all in Michigan. I have not shut the door on Romney, but I'd like to heat a lot more about his fiscal plans and it will be harder for him to get my vote after Mackinac.

The blogs section was interesting and a good introduction to those thinking about blogging or commenting on blogs. The pollsters and pundits section was good as always, and a lot of the talk was about rebuilding the majority and restablishing our brand - that gets to the star of the convention - Newt Gingrich.

Then there was Newt Gingrich. Gingrich stole the show. If he announced a presidential run, I would have been on board. It was a standing room only speech. The Grand Hotel had a whole bunch of extra chairs them moved for the event. It was still standing room only. Unfortunately, I didn't have a video camera with me, since this posting here does not do the speech justice.

The sad part is that most of what Newt said was no more than plain old common sense. 2008 is a change election. "Real change requires real change" is what was repeated to us. Most of the public is sick and tired of "red state" vs "blue state". The system is broke. Our levees and bridges shouldn't fail, and neglect from both parties in Congress, 16 years of Bush/Clinton, and the rest. If the infastructure isn't working right, it's gotta be fixed.

One other mistake is the GOP writing off historicaly democrat voters. Newt only briefed on this, but it is important. It's a mistake for the GOP to ignore the leftist media. It's a mistake to write off black voters and Mexican voters. That's one problem. It's going to be 93-7 and 70-30 democrat voting as long as that's done. Another problem the GOP has when courting those voters is pandering. After time in Mackinac, we all know what horse manure is when we see it. They do too. At the same time, you don't alienate your base voters when you campaign. That's when you get the immigration debacle which you have now. You deal with it in two parts. Border Security first, then immigration. I also haven't heard anything from the politicians about Hezbollah terrorists crossing our border at Nogales. That can change the focus from Mexicans to others.

The issues mentioned were 80-10 issues. Border security, tax and spend, big bloated government and education. Let's remember than while tons of people talk the talk on budgets, it was Newt who balanced the last federal budget, even getting that joker Clinton to follow kicking and screaming. Newt's other point is just as important as the issues, is the way it is communicated. It has to be communicated in a non-political way. The tax increase here in Michigan is a jobs killing tax increase.

Lastly, he spoke of a clean break from the present. The comparison of the current GOP situation was made of the center-right government in France. The incumbent, Jacques Chirac was leaving and it looked like the socialist party would take over. Sarkozy was of Chirac's party and ran on real change. He won. It can be done here as well after Bush is gone, but there has to be real change. Luckily for us, all three major democrats running (Clinton, Obama, Edwards) are Washington jokers who are promising the same ole song and dance. There's the opening. Who will take it?

The straw poll was not a real surprise. A lot of camps brought their people up - Romney, McCain, and Ron Paul especially.

M. Romney 383 39.12%
J. McCain 260 26.56%
R. Paul 106 10.83%
Rudy Giuliani 104 10.62%
F. Thompson 70 7.15%
M. Huckabee 25 2.55%
Uncomm 16 1.63%
D. Hunter 12 1.23%
S. Brownback 3 .31%
T. Tancredo 0 0%

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ethics Law

Politico has an interesting take on the new ethics law that Bush just signed. The good news is that I think I may be making some money in a few years. The bad news is that I know this is going to be almost a complicated as a calculus class once I look at the statutes.

From Politico:

While money and politics watchdog groups applauded the new ethics law signed by President Bush last week, bigger cheers rang out in the tight-knit community of lawyers who are experts on campaign finance and lobbying regulations.

“I seem to be very popular these days,” said Ken Gross, who heads a team of political law experts at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. “I’ve been on the run, giving presentations all week long, some back to back to back.” Next week, he takes his show on the road to Las Vegas, and the following week he’ll be appearing in corporate offices in Massachusetts and Texas.

Jan Baran, who leads a similar group at Wiley Rein, said he’s booked “for the foreseeable future,” and requests continue to come in for the longtime veteran whose presentations also include jokes — for no extra fee. “We’ve got to get the money out of politics somehow, so we might as well hire a lot of lawyers and accountants,” he quips.


The Mackinac Conference is this weekend, so is an NRA event. What's interesting is who is speaking at the NRA event. From the Atlantic Monthly and politico:

An NRA spokesman tells me that ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a prominent advocate for gun control when he was mayor of New York City, will be among those presidential candidates who speak to before the NRA's Celebration of American Values convention in Washington Friday.

The NRA members know Giuliani's record well, and many Republicans believe that Giuliani's past support for tough gun laws will prove deadly.

But Giuliani is signing a different tune these days.

Also attending:

Sen. Fred Thompson, Sen. John McCain and Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Democrat Bill Richardson will speak to the NRA via videotape, along with Rep. Duncan Hunter and Gov. Mitt Romney

I can see Richardson, Hunter, Thompson, and Huckabee there. Romney signed a compromise ugly gun ban in Massachusetts. McCain tried to ban gun shows (although he IS against the ugly gun ban). But Guliani? Besides his push for stricter gun laws, this guy initiated frivolous lawsuits paid for by tax money, against gun manufacturers. I'd love to be there piping up with a few questions about that after his speech. It'll be interesting to see how he's received there.

Monday, September 17, 2007

More budget updates

The battle of attrition is still going on.

First, I got this in an email forwarded to me. An excerpt of the Political Diary in the Wall Street Journal.

GOP's Future at Stake in Michigan Fight

Michigan's Republican Party is in the midst of an internal skirmish over, of all issues, taxes. The infighting came to public light in recent weeks when certain establishment-oriented party insiders began complaining that the state party chairman, Saul Anuzis, was sounding a message that's "too" anti-tax.

The state now faces a $1.8 billion deficit and Mr. Anuzis sensibly wants that wiped out by cutting a bloated state budget, not tax hikes, but some Republicans in the legislature want to strike a deal with pro-tax Governor Jennifer Granholm. Mr. Anuzis' persistent proclamations against higher taxes have caused grumbling among party moderates, who complain he's "making it more difficult to work out a deal to resolve Michigan's nagging budget deficit," as the Detroit News recently reported. The moderates insist that it's inappropriate for a party chair to dictate the party's policy to elected officials.

Conservatives, for their part, can't fathom why Mr. Anuzis' behavior has come under attack in his own party. They fear it means liberal Republicans in Lansing are signaling their readiness to cut a budget deal with pro-tax Democrats at a time, peculiarly, when Democrats seem disposed to shoot themselves in the head on the budget. House Democratic Speaker Andy Dillon has become so frustrated with the refusal of Senate Republicans to negotiate on taxes that he just announced: "We are going to act alone." He wants to raise income and/or sales taxes in the state.

That budget solution would be an economic catastrophe for a state that already has among the nation's highest unemployment rates and highest number of mortgage foreclosures (despite having missed out on the housing boom that led to mortgage excesses in other parts of the country). Why Republicans would want their fingerprints on this economic suicide pact is a mystery to the conservative activists I interviewed in the state.

Democrats have been gaining electoral ground in this national battleground state in recent years, but today's tax fight could be a pivotal moment to define the differences between the two parties. Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, says that Mr. Anuzis is a "party chair worthy of cheering." And Mr. Anuzis isn't backing down. "We have to hold the line on no new taxes," he tells me. By giving voters a real choice between lower taxes and more spending, Mr. Anuzis is doing exactly the right thing to bring Republicans back to majority status in Michigan.

-- Stephen Moore

So far so good, the GOP has stayed strong. What's right for the state is also right for our party in this case. No more taxes! Re-establish our fiscal conservative bonafides in our brand image, and move away from the big spending jokers who killed us in 2004 statewide, and 2006 on a state and national level.

Also, Right Michigan reports that Andy Dillon took some time off after the lockdown ended to go golfing at Oak Pointe with some lobbyists. I wish I knew about it and was able to get up there to welcome him with my camera. "Out golfing with lobbyists while Michigan burns." BTW - Who let that joker into Livingston County, anyway?

Few changes. The dems still aren't united on this tax increase. Mike Simpson of Jackson County voted for the tax before not voting for it. The Matt Millen of governors is still running her mouth pushing for a tax increase. Andy Dillon is still the Marty Morningwig to Granholm's Millen.

And in other news, our AG Mike Cox resigned as co-chair from John McCain's campaign. Interesting development this close to our Mackinac Conference.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Media story on tax battle

Needless to say, the big story right now is the tax battles in the democrat controlled house. Nick and Right Michigan are doing a top job covering this, and I recommend that site for the best updates

First, the Free Press report on this:

LANSING -- As midnight struck, a House vote to raise the state income tax 18% was still in limbo early today, nearly 10 hours after voting began.

The voting board, which never recorded an official tally, was wiped clean and lawmakers resumed efforts to reach the needed 56 votes, quickly reaching the 43 votes they had before midnight.


Majority Democrats said they were planning what could be a long weekend waiting for a handful of Republicans to join them in supporting increasing the income tax to 4.6%

Democrats had hoped Friday would be a day of decisive action to resolve the budget crisis and avoid an Oct. 1 partial shutdown of state government. It remained unclear whether the marathon session would solve the problem.

House Speaker Andy Dillon said he hoped for a bipartisan agreement -- by Sunday. Without Republican votes for a tax increase -- there had been none all day -- it would be a harder sell in the GOP-controlled Senate, said Dillon, D-Redford Township.

In a speech earlier on the House floor, Dillon implored Republicans to join the voting for a tax increase of up to $1 billion or more, even though his party has enough votes to pass the tax hike without its GOP brethren.

But Republicans held out, saying the Legislature had done little to curb spending, which Democrats promised to do. Sort of.

There's the key in bold. Dillon has enough votes in his party to get that passed. Yet, he's playing hardball because not only does he demand a tax increase. He demands that the democrats in tough districts get get out of jail free cards so they don't have to vote against their district. This isn't just about taxes. It about the democrats CYA effort. They want to cover their butts.

And what had been months of partisan wrangling, posturing and even name-calling over how to avert a $1.75-billion deficit was reaching a pressure-cooked conclusion, for better or worse.

The deadlock revolved around a handful of Republicans whom Democrats hoped to pick off for a vote to increase the income tax from its current 3.9%.

Rep. Dick Ball, R-Owosso, said that what seems fair to Democrats seems like political suicide to Republicans.

"We can't let Republican vulnerables vote yes and walk the plank," he said, "while Democratic vulnerables are protected."

Referring to the standoff, Ball added, "as my grandmother used to say, we have a mell of a hess."

This isn't Leon Drolet or Jack Hoogendyk saying this. This is Dick Ball. When you have Dick Ball, possibly the most fiscally liberal Republican in the house saying that, then there is a major league problem. It sounds like that these hardball tactics by Dillon and Granholm are hurting chances of getting a republican on board. Ball is probably their top target, as Drolet and the Michigan Tax Alliance are also closely watching their vote.

Now as for Dillon using the Senate as an excuse, that's bullshit, and I don't use that word often on this blog. Do you really think that a budget bill that passes the house will not be altered in some way in the senate - or vice versa? When that happens, the bill goes to a conference committee before going to another vote in the house/senate. The state house also has much more of a democrat majority than the state senate has a republican majority.

Now, the Detroit News

Nerves frayed, tempers flared and words were more heated Saturday as Republicans and Democrats in the state House -- which has met almost continually since Friday morning -- struggled unsuccessfully to find common ground that will balance the state budget and avoid a government shutdown Oct. 1.

They are trying to resolve a $1.75-billion hole in next year's budget that Democrats say requires a tax hike. Republicans, demanding budget cuts and government spending reforms, continued to oppose it.


Dillon could marshal an all-Democrat favorable vote -- they control the chamber 58-52 -- but he wants it to be a bipartisan proposal involving at least 10 Republicans. Furthermore, several Democrats are in politically dicey districts and could lose reelection next year if voters are angered by a tax cut. Fifty-six votes are needed to raise the income tax.

I think the News means tax increase, but the point is clear. Again, this is a CYA effort for a get out of jail free cards for democrats who want to raise our taxes against the wishes of we the people.

It's time for the GOP house to continue to hold the line against these political games by Andy Dillon, and to make Dillon use his people in order to raise taxes. I don't want to see a bi-partisan tax increase. If that happens, it's time for a bi-partisan recall effort, including tax increasing republicans. The recall wouldn't just be for increasing taxes, but for bailing out the democrats.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

No changes on taxes, dems can't unite their caucus

The late session called by Dillon has no changes.

Still no changes on the taxes. There are still 14 holdouts on the democrats. No Republicans have voted for tax increases (But Gaffney and Ball still need your calls ASAP).

Apparently, the dems are all mad that Republicans aren't supporting the tax increase, even though the dems control the house. Dillon and company not only want the tax increase, but they don't want one sided partisan heat from a democrat tax increase. They want to give "get out of jail cards" to the democrats in tough districts (like McDowell, Simpson, Griffin, Byrum, and Corriveau) for raising our taxes.

There are enough democrat votes to pass this without a single republican vote, so stop bitching about the republicans and look at your own caucus that you can't unite. Some Republicans have said they would support a tax increase as long as there were reforms in things like MESSA or Right to Work. (That's still not good enough for me) That's the probable price unless you want to forget the get out of jail free cards you want so badly.

So far, Andy Dillon ain't looking so good. Time for him to stop following the lead of the Matt Millen of governors, and to come up with plan C.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Tax updates

Nick at Right Michigan has some excellent news on the tax updates. The first two come from Nick's site.

The Michigan House of Representatives is hard at work this afternoon trying to raise our taxes.
But they haven't started to address the budget crisis. Wait, what?

Confused? Yeah, smart people should be. Here's what they're doing.

The House just held a roll call vote on House Joint Resolution Z. When you break it down to brass tacks, HJR-Z will permit the House to implement a graduated income tax but not until January or February.

That's right. January or February. No, you're not mistaken. The new fiscal year does indeed start October 1st, 2007. In other words, this vote wasn't only to raise our taxes, it was also to put off dealing with the budget mess for four or five months after the state becomes insolvent!

This was another of those tricky votes that required a 2/3rds majority to pass. It failed. Spectacularly. More spectacularly even then their attempt to raise the sales tax earlier in the week.

But don't worry, it wasn't a total waste of time. During debate leading up to the vote Republican after Republican took the floor to call for spending cuts and reforms, areas completely overlooked by the House Democrats.

And the Democrats, oh, they had some doozies. Rep. Coleman Young Jr. said that voting for reforms "sucks," while George Cushingberry began yelling into the microphone that right-to-work legislation represents bigotry and racism of the highest order, combining it in rhetoric with slavery in the American South.

Nevermind that no one had once mentioned right-to-work legislation, that no such legislation is before the body, that no such legislation is tie-barred to the tax hike and that permitting workers to choose whether or not to join a union represents as step towards personal freedom, not slavery. But all of that is neither here nor there.

When it was obvious that HJR-Z would go down to spectacular defeat Majority Floor Leader Steve Tobocman took the mic to ask that the board be cleared, hiding the fact that 47 or 48 Democrats were voting once again to raise our taxes. There was one audible AYE while the entire GOP caucus shouted NAY but Rep. Sak, holding the gavel, claimed the AYEs had it and cleared the board.

Nice of him, huh?

Now they're on to House Bill 5194, a measure that would actually raise our taxes today. We'll see what they've got in the way of support. Keep on those phones and keep on those emails!

Part II is on their site as well. Here's the link. So far, so good.

Tax vote may be today - DEFEAT IT!

It looks as if today's the day on the tax votes. Time for us to call our reps and tell them HELL NO when it comes to raising taxes.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Guns in Schools?

If you want to get big media all PO'ed, mention guns and schools in the same sentence. Rep. David Agema introduced HB 5162 which incurred the wrath of the chattering classes everywhere by (gasp!) allowing administrators to allow school employees with current Concealed Pistol Licenses (CPL, often known as CCW) to carry a firearm.

From ABC 12

Guns in the classroom could soon be a reality if one Michigan lawmaker has his way.

Republican State Rep. David Agema from the Grand Rapids area has introduced legislation that would allow teachers and other school administrators to carry a concealed weapon on school grounds.

Agema says he understands this is a controversial piece of legislation. But he says kids need to be kept safe on school grounds.

All schools in Michigan are weapon-free zones. There are no guns allowed for students, teachers or anyone on school grounds.

In recent years there have been a number of deadly school shootings at schools across the country.

At least one Michigan lawmaker says if teachers and administrators were armed or had access to a concealed weapon at school the incidents of school shootings will decline.

The bill allows for a teacher, administrator or other employee of a school to carry a concealed weapon.

I do have a problem with this bill for one reason. It doesn't go far enough.

First, there should not be ANY gun free - or what I call "Criminal Empowerment Zones" unless they are enacted by private owners of their property. The only ones who obey laws creating criminal empowerment zones, are law abiding CPL holders. Criminals and school shooters would carry their guns anyway in places they are not allowed to since they don't follow the law to begin with.

Secondly, why limit this to school employees? Why not all CPL holders? CPL holders are the most law abiding class of folks in the entire country. It's worked in 40 other states. You aren't going to have Columbine repeat due to CPL holders. By keeping CPL holders unarmed, you may however be enabling the next Columbine.

RNC Committeeman Race Updates

A lot has happened recently in the RNC race. First off, Oakland County's Paul Welday and Ingham County's Norm Shinkle (who I would have likely supported due to his work as Ingham Chair) dropped out of the race and endorsed former US Senate candidate Keith Butler. Soon after, Chuck Yob, the incumbent is not running for re-election. As of now, Butler is the probable next RNC committeeman. It's still early, so we'll see what happens. Internal Politics is nothing if not interesting.

Chuck's letter is posted at Saul's site for all to see

I was not in either the pro-Yob or anti-Yob camps that seem to have been sprouting up in the past year, particulary among our Youth Activists. Sometimes I agreed with him and sometimes I disagreed with him and never had a problem with him on a personal level.

One area where he doesn't get enough credit. He was one of the few with the guts to support MCRI and the Human Life Amendment proposal when much of the other party leadership was extremely weak on those issues. I think if the rest of the party followed his lead on those two issues, that we may have had some better success last year in this state. Chuck always speaks his mind, and when he had a goal, did anything possible to achieve it. I do not care for some of the tactics he has used in supporting his candidate, John McCain, but nobody can argue that he doesn't work hard for his candidates. With his retirement, it will be interesting to see what he has to say. I would not be surprised if he takes a more active role in the McCain campaign.

Thanks for your work Chuck Yob, and good luck to Keith Butler.

Monday, September 10, 2007

RINOS whining about Saul's anti-tax support

I don't use the term RINO all that much anymore. Considering some seem to want to be bailing out Granholm, I will here. Apparently, some squishes on tax policies are not very happy with Saul Anuzis. This is in the Detroit News.

LANSING -- Republican lawmakers are increasingly irritated with their state party boss, Saul Anuzis, because they say his steady drumbeat against raising taxes is making it more difficult to work out a deal to resolve Michigan's nagging budget deficit.

It's not that difficult. Lansing fouled things up by spending too much. Lansing now is mad that Saul isn't accepting Lansing asking us to bail them out.

"It's a gray area at best, but it's indicative of the partisanship that exists in Lansing that keeps us from getting work done in a statesman-like manner," said Rep. Lorence Wenke, R-Galesburg, who occasionally parts with the GOP leadership on policy matters.

"Is Saul Anuzis breaking some new ground here? It seems he is setting the new low standard."

Anuzis said it's his role to "reflect the feeling of the party. We want real reform first before discussion of any tax increase. I think I am representing the views of our party members."

I'll give Wenke a little credit for putting his name behind this post. That's about all the credit I'll give him. Wenke is in the state house where the dems have a majority. Why the hell is he complaining about taxes then, when it could pass without any republican votes? The anti-tax sentiment does not keep you from getting your work done, Mr. Wenke. It keeps you from taking the easy way out. The last time we had a big majority in the state house and acted "Statesmanlike" against Granholm and raised taxes with the help of 15 turncoats, we lost our majority. The people - your boss - don't want a tax increase.

Wenke said Anuzis is doing the bidding of the national party, which wants to establish a conservative brand for the 2008 presidential election.

"The party clearly is positioning itself for the '08 election, and this is what party leaders like Saul are paid to do," Wenke said.

Replied Anuzis: "My job is to make sure we as a party don't lose our brand, don't lose the image that attracts people to vote for us."

I can't speak for Saul, but I did not see a lot of economic conservatism coming from the national party recently. That's the problem to begin with and a reason why we got slapped in the side of the head back in 06 when much of our base stayed home and Reagan Democrats voted democrat. Our base understand it, and our elected officials need to understand it before they join the unemployment lines.

One Republican lawmaker, who asked not to be named because of concerns about crossing swords with party leaders, said: "The last thing we need is somebody who is not an elected official publicly hammering on us. He's not the one who has to put his name on the line and vote for or against this. I've never seen this before, and I've been in the party a lot of years, where a party chair is dictating policy. It's inappropriate and a growing number of us are sick and tired of it."

To the coward who didn't put his name down, let me tell you how things work, son. You are an elected offical. You work for the people in your district. We as party activists do not work for you. Saul doesn't work for you. He works for the state delegates who selected him at a convention. We are the party base. People like you are the problem. You knew well in advance that you have to put your name on the line in a vote. That's your job and why you get paid the big bucks. Stop complaining, stop looking for bailouts, and start doing your job.

If you vote for a tax increase, Saul is the last person you should be worried about. It's your base that you should be worried about. The last time our party took the safe route and caved on taxes, we lost our majority here. The last time our party went leftist, we lost our majority. It's time to take a stand, and that means no new taxes. If you're in the way and vote for it, you should be sent home as well in the August primary, if not a recall election.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Time for GOP to stop drifting left and be conservative again

The Politico had a good story today about the GOP's rebranding effort. I've been saying for years that we had a problem drifting towards the left with more big government under Mr. Bush's leadership. It caught up with us in 2006, when we lost the vote of the independents - mostly among populist Reagan Democrats with a throw the bums out attitude. It did not help that a large number of conservatives stayed home in protest.

From the Politico

When New Coke became a sales and public relations debacle in April 1985, parent company Coca-Cola yanked it from shelves in 79 days, reintroduced Classic Coke, pumped millions into advertising to repair its brand and roared back as the soda giant two years later.

The Republican Party hopes it can be so lucky.

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) recently created a small, ad hoc advisory group of fellow members to help restore the GOP brand as the party of small government, fiscal discipline and tough-minded foreign policy.

Examples from the corporate world, where brand rehabilitation is a lucrative specialty, prove that it is possible to save even the most damaged reputations with the right strategy.

But these lessons also highlight the challenges Republicans face trying to replicate this kind of PR magic in the 14 months before they face voters.

Corporate image experts say the key to saving a bruised brand in the marketplace is a quick response. But the Republican decline can be charted over the course of years, with little effort to correct problems in a decisive or comprehensive fashion.

We have Coke Classic (1994 Republicans) and New Coke ("Big Government Conservatives" - in reality, liberals).

The problem is simple. The GOP went away from its Reaganite and 1994 "Contract with America" roots. It moved to the left. Big government is leftist, and the GOP RAPIDLY expanded the size of government with its leftist expansion and increased spending. That's not in line with the base, and much of the base had enough. Donations are down, as is voter turnout. And through all that the media and democrats are talking about the GOP moving to the extreme right. That's absolute bullshit - Angus sized.

The problem is simple. Ethics. With idiots like Larry Craig, Duke Cunningham, Don Sherwood, and Mark Foley, we made the frontpage in the worst possible way.

The problem is simple. Communication, Plans, and general competence. That costs us more than anything else. Our national party is acting about as competent as Granholm. It doesn't know what it wants.

The GOP can make a comeback. In order to do so, it needs to do the following.

1. Primary ethicaly challenged reps - Send a message that Foleyism and Craigism is not tolerated in this party. Leave the crooks - the Norman Hsus, Gerry Sudds, Mel Reynolds, George Soros, Jack Murtha, Bill Jefferson, and Dan Rostenkowskis to the other party. (And Jack Abramoff was a switch hitter among parties for that matter backing Stabenow)

2. Stop running to the left. A message is worthless when it isn't followed. We can not run on less government, lower taxes, and fiscal responsibility when it is not being followed. If I wanted more government, I'd vote for a democrat. I don't want to vote democrat lite, and I'm just about through doing so. I held my nose with Bush twice. That's enough for me. I'd like to see some backbone for once.

3. Competence. The 02-06 GOP class sucked. The democrats 06-present class suck even worse. There's an opening for us if we go back to our roots, and present a real plan that is more than the same old talking points.

New Coke and "Big Government Conservatism" hasn't worked. Let's look back at our 1994 roots and adapt that for the future.

State Party Leadership Race

Things are heating up behind the scenes for one of the major leadership races - RNC Committeeman. This is in fact, the earliest I've seen any campaign for party leadership position. The good news about that is that it shows that there is a lot of energy and people pushing for the job. The bad news is that things could get real negative real fast. I hope it does not go down that road, and barring a major unforseen circumstance or one or two individuals jumping in, I will refrain from going down that road here. I personally like all the candidates running, and do not have a reason to attack them on that level.

So far, there are rumors of three or four candidates jumping into this race. They are:

Chuck Yob - The incumbent. He's held this position for years. Also a candidate for Congress in 2000. He's taken a lot of heat lately, particulary related to his strong style of support of John McCain, but the Yobs have done a lot of good as well. Chuck took one for the team when he ran against Bart Stupak in 2000, being the last candidate to hold him under 60%. John Yob was one of the leaders behind Terri Land's campaign back in 2002 which was strong enough to cause the democrats to nearly abandon that race. He was also active in Jerry Zandstra's campaign, who I think would have been our best chance to win in 06.

Paul Welday - Oakland County Chair. I don't know all that much about him.

Andrew Rocky Raczkowski - Former state rep and US Senate Candidate. Rocky is a good guy who I think could have been a very good candidate in 02 if he had some support from the party. He's a strong speaker used to winning tough campaigns winning three in Farmington Hills. Since the 02 campaign, he was called up to service in the Army, and has been overseas fighing for this country.

Norm Shinkle - Ingham County Chair and former state senator. Norm's a good guy who has done a very good job from what I've seen as state chair. He's won tough districts when he was a state senator in Monroe County. He's now in the Williamston area and understands the difficulty of being chair in a county with Lansing, East Lansing, and Okemos. He's also done a good job at paying attention to the races at all levels of government, from the top of the ticket, down to the county commissioners and local levels, even the city councils.

One thing I like is that three out of the four have ran for office and know what it is like to be a candidate. All three ran in tough or long shot districts. Yob ran for Bart Stupak's seat in 2000 against very long odds. He gave it his best and at least held Stupak to under 60%, the last candidate to do so. Rocky was abandoned in his race against Carl Levin in 2002, something I really do not want to see again in 08. He knows that that's like and may avoid getting the party to chicken out of races before they even get started. Rocky has also won three times in Farmington Hills, not exactly an easy district to win. Norm Shinkle was a former state senator out in Monroe County. He now lives in Ingham County and has done a very good job out there as chair, despite being in a democrat stronghold.

One person blogging heavily on this race is Bay City's Joe Sylvester. Sylvester's site is the gossip site for Michigan Republican internal battles. I'll admit to cringing a time or two when I read it at times with some of the dirt that gets posted there, but I always go back and read it.

John Yob has started a blog as well. Great Lakes Report should be a good read on this race in the future.

If the race was decided today, Norm Shinkle would get my support. I probably know him the best of the three running, as Norm is in the 8th district. I also knew him from my time at MSU, and his work at getting MSU GOP active in the Ingham County events. He'll have a good balance of establishment support, as well as grass roots support, and we need the two to be on the same page. The gubenatorial race is open in 2010 barring a recall of the Matt Millen of governors. It will be critical for this state that we elect a competent governor, and that the RNC is working to help - not hinder (as the NRSC does) - the campaign. With his experience, I think Norm will do an excellent job for us.

With the RNC committeeman race gaining this much interest, there is one thing all four candidates for the job can do to enhance their resume - all work hard to win this state at the top of the ticket, take out Carl Marx Levin, take out Stupak, defend Walberg and Knollenberg and the rest of our delegation, and take back the state house. Then they can all campaign on "look what I did" and not go down the road about how much the "other guy sucks."

Balls in their court. Let's see what happens.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Mackinac Conference 2007

For political junkies, this is the Michigan's Super Bowl outside of Election Day. This is an event I recommend to anyone interest in campaigns. It isn't cheap - $100 after July 13 to register (I registered early), but I'm still going.

Conference Fee: Includes credentials, conference materials, entrance to meetings, forums, and general access to the Grand Hotel. Fee does not include hotel accommodations or meals.

The meal tickets are extra (Unless you are staying at the Grand Hotel), and this year there are two candidates at each speech. I haven't decided if I'm going to any of them or not. I was at the ones for 05 and saw Brownback and Romney there. This year, the following are there:

$65 - Friday Dinner - Duncan Hunter, Rudy Giuliani
$20 - Saturday Breakfest - Ron Paul, Sam Brownback
$30 - Saturday Lunch - Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney
$65 - Saturday Dinner - Fred Thompson, John McCain

For those worried about costs, there are ways to reduce them. The first is staying outside of the island itself. I'm staying in Mackinaw City instead of on the island because of the costs differences. Another way to reduce costs is to volunteer for one of the campaigns (either presidential or other) while up there. Some campaigns take volunteers and pay for the stay with the expection of a couple of days of work up there.

There are a lot of receptions there as well. I know Chris Ward and Mike Rogers both had them in 05. With good timing, you can sometimes get a lot of one on one discussion time with some of the candidates or reps, particulary downticket. With 10 presidential candidates there, we may even be able to see that among one of them, particulary the darkhorses, maybe even a frontrunner. Newt Gingrich will also be there as well running one of the shows. He may or may not be running, but it's always an interesting event when he's speaking.

Away from the glitz, the panels there where quite good. Last year, the best one I was at was the pollsters and pundits panel. That's the middle of my element, and I'll be there for certain. I'm not sure what the other conference panels are yet, but I'll be a couple of those as well, particular if they are similar to last time.

That's not to mention that the conference is in the best part of Michigan - Up North. It's a great weekend, and I highly recommend it.