Saturday, April 25, 2009

Obama craps on our "Right to an attorney"

To anyone with libertarian leanings that voted for Obama - I told you so. I don't have much time to go into details, but this is bad. We have a right to counsel in our Constitution for a reason. Often, people charged with crimes who are convicted are so because of their own words to the police. Many of us mistakenly believe that the police our on our side. They are state actors, as are the prosecutors. Many cops are good. I know several. Some aren't good. I know a few of them as well. They are human. Having an attorney is a safeguard against self-incrimination. If I am charged with a felony or a high misdemeanor, or if it looks like I will be charged, the first thing I will do is to contact a lawyer. I will not be a fool for a client, and I can represent myself better than most people could.

The case that Obama wants to overturn is Michigan v Jackson and you can read it here.

From the AP
The Justice Department, in a brief signed by Solicitor General Elena Kagan, said the 1986 decision "serves no real purpose" and offers only "meager benefits." The government said defendants who don't wish to talk to police don't have to and that officers must respect that decision. But it said there is no reason a defendant who wants to should not be able to respond to officers' questions.

At the same time, the administration acknowledges that the decision "only occasionally prevents federal prosecutors from obtaining appropriate convictions."

The administration's legal move is a reminder that Obama, who has moved from campaigning to governing, now speaks for federal prosecutors.

The administration's position assumes a level playing field, with equally savvy police and criminal suspects, lawyers on the other side of the case said. But the protection offered by the court in Stevens' 1986 opinion is especially important for vulnerable defendants, including the mentally and developmentally disabled, addicts, juveniles and the poor, the lawyers said.

"Your right to assistance of counsel can be undermined if somebody on the other side who is much more sophisticated than you are comes and talks to you and asks for information," said Sidney Rosdeitcher, a New York lawyer who advises the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.

Stephen B. Bright, a lawyer who works with poor defendants at the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, said the administration's position "is disappointing, no question."

Bright said that poor defendants' constitutional right to a lawyer, spelled out by the high court in 1965, has been neglected in recent years. "I would hope that this administration would be doing things to shore up the right to counsel for poor people accused of crimes," said Bright, whose group joined with the Brennan Center and other rights organizations in a court filing opposing the administration's position.

Former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson and former FBI Director William Sessions are among 19 one-time judges and prosecutors urging the court to leave the decision in place because it has been incorporated into routine police practice and establishes a rule on interrogations that is easy to follow.

SCOTUSblog has more, as does Volokh

Well, Obama and company seem to be consistant. They hate all of our freedoms.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Second Amendment Incorporated? In the 9th Circuit of all places?

This is breaking news right now. Pro 2nd amendment Law Professor Eugene Volokh broke the news on his blog.

The decision is here, Nordyke v King

I haven't read it yet don't have time to until later today. Unanimous 3 judge panel ruled on this. Obviously, Stephen Reinhardt isn't on this panel.

We'll see if this goes to an en banc hearing (all the judges) on the 9th or if this goes to SCOTUS. So far, it looks good.

(For the non-legal beagals out there, a simplistic definition of incorporation means that the bill of rights apply to the states as well as the federal government through the 14th Amendment. Some of the bill of rights are incorporated, some are not.)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Gas tax to increase in Michigan soon? (Side title - we're broke despite revenue increases)

This isn't the first time this issue has come up. The Lansing elite has been trying to shove this down our throats for years. The Gas Tax. Both parties haven't been great on this.

2007 - Hopgood and DeRoche push for gas tax

The usually sensible Michigan Chamber of Commerce pushed it in 07

The Granholm tax force in 08

Late 08, again

Now one the more influential columnists in Lansing is trying to stir this up again.
Peter Luke, columnist of Booth Newspapers (Ann Arbor News) is pushing for a gas tax for the roads. It once again relies on the false assumptions. The assumption among the elite in Lansing is that "only the gas tax can pay for roads." That's the number one assumption of ALL these pushes for the gas tax. I don't buy that. Assumption is the mother of all eff ups.

Judging from the opposition to socialist tax schemes by those who traveled over Michigan's collectivist road system to the Lansing "tea party," it just got harder to pass business-backed funding increases for transportation.

Lawmakers this week are expected to begin work on a hike in fuel taxes, last raised in 1997, and vehicle registration fees, sending them to Gov. Jennifer Granholm by summer.

Is this that same 50% registration increase that the task force wanted? As far as gas prices go, are they going to go up to $4.50 a gallon this summer, again? Is sales tax going to be collected on this? Take the money from another department. We can start with Dan Mulhern's staff, that new state police building, and corrections be keeping people in jail for smoking a doobie. In addition, do you trust state government enough to make sure that goes to roads? Or will they starve the roads for a bigger tax increase while repeating this same assumption over and over and over and over and over again.

Without those increases, Michigan's road-repair budget will soon be broke. And yet, billions are needed to keep one of the nation's most decrepit road systems in reasonably good shape.

Assume. It makes an ass of u and me.. This premis is ONLY true if the assumption is true. It does not have to be. Roads should be priority funding. Right now 6% of every gallon of gas goes not to roads. That 6% is the state sales tax, which goes on top of the original gas tax. We are taxed twice over on gasoline.

Too bad the crowd at the Capitol on Wednesday loudly booed any mention of a gas-tax increase. And that the Michigan Republican Party hastened to endorse them.

"It's time to send a strong unified message that Michigan residents and job providers cannot afford another tax hike," GOP chairman Ron Weiser said.

Republicans intend to run next year against income and business tax increases approved in 2007, even though no Democrat was defeated in 2008 for voting for them. GOP co-chairwoman Sharon Wise said the 2007 hike -- which prevented steep cuts in higher education, health care and aid to local governments -- was "taken" from Michigan families.

The revenues keep increasing to the state, and what have we gotten from them. Jack and you know what. These are Granholm's numbers. Budget Book

(Fiscal year)
1999 - 32,653,492,611 (Amount Spent - and Michigan has balanced budget, so revenues are close to that number)
Transportation - 2,631,185,388

2000 - 34,525,326,492
Transportation - 2,660,470,554

2001 - 37,277,724,042
Transportation - 2,775,245,805

2002 - 39,077,762,617
Transportation - 2,857,404,627

(Granholm takes office)

2003 - 39,297,181,602
Transportation - 2,858,865,148

2004 - 39,388,261,316
Transportation - 2,957,280,073

2005 - 40,375,490,414
Transportation - 2,920,553,025

2006 - 41,326,338,653
Transportation - 2,940,680,294

2007 - 41,945,183,846
Transportation - 2,779,953,122

2008 - 43,578,704,400 (Tax increase)
Transportation - 3,360,195,600

2009 - 44,834,397,200 (Executive recommendation)
Transportation - 3,424,465,500 (executive recommendation)

This keeps going up DESPITE tens of thousands of people leaving the state.

The tax protesters conveniently neglected to mention that Michigan's 4.35 percent income-tax rate is lower than it was under most of Republican Gov. John Engler's 12 years in office. Nor is it a GOP talking point.

Under the 2007 increase, a household with $50,000 in taxable income paid about $225 more in 2008 than under the 3.9 percent rate. But that is $25 less than they would have paid in 1999.

I don't give a damn if it is less than Engler's term. Again, false comparison. Many states don't have an income tax or a property tax. We have both, and a sales tax, and the MBT, etc. Secondly, the gross revenues keep increasing year in and year out. $5 Billion dollars more - 1/2 of the amount budgeted as "general fund", is sent to Lansing, than it was at the end of the Engler years. Thanks to Headlee, Michigan can not operate without a balanced budget. The fact is that the Granholm admin gets much more money than Engler ever did.

If Republicans consider that thievery, then a proposed $1.4 billion increase in gas taxes and registration fees -- $150 per vehicle when it's phased in -- would take no less from a two-car household.

About $60 (with my six year old truck) more to the government in registration fees. Approxminately 9 cents more (based on previous proposals) per gallon every time I go to the pump. If the raw price of gas is $1.81/$3.81 here in Michigan, and this passes, the real cost will be.
Wholesale price - $1.81 (3.81)
US gas tax - 18.4 cents - $2.00, $4.00
Sales Tax (applies to US tax and price - $2.12, $4.24
Michigan gas tax - $2.31, $4.43
Michigan gas tax increase - $2.40, $4.52

Before the gas tax, it would cost me about $46.20 (or $88.60) per fill up (about 20 gallons). After - $48.00.(or $90). Now I included the $4+ gas prices here because I expect to see them again this summer. These energy prices were the final knockout punch IMO in this economy. People saw these every day and had to budget for them. This was an extra $40 every fillup that people did not plan for or expect. That money had to come from somewhere. That lead to inflation. Gasoline prices - obvious. Food costs went up. Shipping. Business costs went up - shipping. Household bills increased. It just amazes me that government and these pundits want an increase on the worst possible tax around, AND that they assume (the mother of all @#%# ups), that is the only possible solution. It reminds me that the 1.4 trillion dollar bank bailouts (there are two of them) are the ONLY possible solution according to Bush, Obama, McCain, and the rest of the Washington elite.

And so the GOP has put its lawmakers in a box.

Business, labor and elected officials in both parties agree basic stewardship requires finding the cash to fix Michigan's infrastructure. And economic stimulus money provides only a temporary boost, through the 2010 construction season.

But the Michigan Republican Party has cemented an anti-tax stance that appeals to its most conservative, tea-bag-waving elements. That makes it tough for radical outfits like the Michigan Chamber of Commerce to persuade GOP lawmakers to join Granholm and Democrats in raising transportation taxes.

Spare me, Pete. I like the Chamber, but they have a different agenda this time. You see, one of their constituents is the Road Builders who want more money for contracts. I don't fault the Chamber for that stance. They have to represent their members.

And unless Republicans do that, Democrats vilified for the 2007 income tax hike are not going to stick their necks out again. GOP lawmakers already edgy about the issue apparently have to choose between their party and the economic good of their state. It's a choice they should not have to make.

They don't have to make that choice. That's what you people in Lansing don't understand. This whole push for a gas tax increase is based on this false assumption that only gas tax money can go to roads, and that it is the only solution, etc.

I'll tell you what. I'll support a compromise because I do think roads funding is important. Here's the compromise. No registration fee increases, end the sales tax for gasoline, and then increase the gas tax by 10 cents (and I won't even complain if it is 12 cents in this case). ALL of that money goes to roads and only to roads - period. That results in no increased costs for us with $2 a gallon gas, or a slight increase possibly if it is 12 cents at $2. That's my compromise plan.

As for the plan of 9 cents a gallon increase, and the 50% registration increase, and the keeping the 6% sales tax on gasoline - get the recall petitions ready for those who vote for that. You can quote me on that.

Secretary of State proposes Constitutional Convention procedures

A major press release came out from the Secretary of State's office regarding the upcoming con-con on the ballot. I'll need to see the exact language before giving final opinions, but this is a good start for discussion purposes and brings this front and center. We do not know if this will be needed or not, but we do know that the con-con WILL be on the ballot in 2010. It may pass or fail, but we need to prepare like it will pass, regardless of our feelings on this one way or the other.

Legislation being drafted to put process in place

Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land is proposing legislation to establish procedures for a possible Constitutional Convention, a move that prepares Michigan if next year voters call for one.

Voters decide every 16 years whether a convention will be convened to revise Michigan's Constitution. The question will be on the Nov. 2, 2010 general election ballot. While minor provisions regarding a convention remain in law, procedures for electing delegates and convening a convention were repealed in 1967. Land's proposal ensures that a process is in place should the ballot question be approved.

"A recent pattern of attempts to amend sections of the constitution indicates a strong possibility of calling for a convention," Land said. "Establishing a process ahead of time lays the groundwork for an effective, well-run convention if one is needed."

Under the constitution's provisions, the convention would begin work in 2011. It would consist of 148 delegates -- one from each state Senate and state House district. State legislators currently in office are precluded from serving as delegates.

There's the background. That means there will be possibly three delegates from Livingston County. One for the Bill Rogers district, one from the Cindy Denby District, and Valde Garcia's district which also covers Shiawassee and part of Ingham County.

The proposals are as follows.

Requires convention delegates to be U.S. citizens and qualified electors of the delegate district.

A no brainer.

Sets the primary election date for delegate candidates on the regular February election date, and the general election on the regular May date.

This is needed to comply with existing law. Elections are possible four days a year, and the convention is scheduled for July as given in the State Constitution. The only possible dates for this election are February and May. While this is a relatively uncontroversial proposal, it's a must. Unfortunately, the existing law is also not as specific as I'd like it regarding the primary procedures, and I'd like to see this be a primary election instead of a convention or county party choice system.

Establishes delegate nominating petition or filing fee procedures similar to those for state senators and representatives. Candidate write-in and withdrawal procedures also are included.

This is something that isn't covered at all and is how it should be.

Requires the convention to convene at noon on the second Tuesday in July 2011. The convention continues until its final adjournment.
Makes the term of office for delegates coincide with the convention, regardless of boundary changes resulting from any potential redistricting.

Also important, although I'd be careful in how this is drafted. When will redistricting be?

Requires the Secretary of State to call the convention to order and preside over it until a convention president is elected.

Not a big deal on controversy, just a simple procedure.

Specifies that when vacancies occur due to resignation or other reasons, the governor must appoint a resident of the same district and political party as the delegate who is vacating the position.

I don't like gubenatorial appointments, but that is probably the best that can be done given the current laws in place. This is an improvement (governor appoints all vacancies, period).

Requires a two-thirds vote by the entire delegation to remove a delegate from office. It also establishes recount and recall provisions similar to those for state senators and representatives.

I need to check current law on this before I comment. I like 2/3, but I'd restrict it further to misconduct or no-shows.(outside of recall provisions). 2/3 should be a safeguard against that.

Compensates the president and delegates with mileage reimbursement for one round trip per week when the convention is in session.

Mixed views.

Puts delegates and committees under Michigan's Campaign Finance Act. Contribution limits are similar to those for state lawmakers within appropriate timelines. It also puts delegates under the Lobby Act as lobbyable public officials.
Land will work with lawmakers to have the legislation introduced once drafting is completed.

This is the major provision. Right now, it is not known whether delegate candidates fall under the campaign finance act. That's an open question depending on a few technicalities.

Now I want to close out this mentioning one thing. These are proposals, not law, and may not be the provisions passed. The legislature needs to be watched like a hawk on which provisions are being considered. This is the biggest issue on the ballot since 1994 - which was the last time a con-con was on the ballot (Every 16 years). If this passes, there will be a new constitution in Michigan. The State Constitution is the Supreme Law of the land here (second only to the US Constitution). Literally everything is on the line, regarding every issue. This is the Holy Grail of power.
I posted the other day a small sample of what is in stake with a con-con.

The con-con needs to be defeated, but we need to prepare for its passing so we are not caught offguard in February.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Paul Welday running for Congress against Gary Peters

I don't know who else is running against Peters, but good luck to whoever his opponent is. Welday is stepping up to the plate, so good luck to him.

And this gets me to a side issue. One of my biggest complaints from both Lansing and DC is how quick they are to abandon a race. It's worse in DC, but I've seen it in Lansing as well. These 53% or so democrat seats (like the state house seat Welday ran for - Barnett, formerly Aldo Vagnozzi) should be contested strongly - regardless whether or nor a "favorite" candidate wins a primary.

Welday received close to no help whatsoever in his state house seat. That, as far as I know, wasn't due to major controversy. That was due to lack of major name recognition and declaring defeat before things get started. The NRCC(DC) was much worse. They abandoned incumbents and those who they wrote off as losses, usually because of money. They wrote off Michelle Bachman in Minnesota. She won. They wrote off Tim Walberg. Walberg would have won with a little more help.

Whoever the nominee is for the 1st (Stupak's opponent), 7th (Walberg/Schauer), and 9th(Knollenberg/Peters), and 11th District (McCotter incumbent) needs help. If the GOP is going to get the state house back, keep the State Senate, and gain control of Congress, it starts with the caucus committees, state party election teams, etc, getting his own houses back in order first. Paul Welday or whoever the 9th district nominee is should not be thrown to the wolves. All these seats should be contested. The people being challenged are not Superman, they are politicians with voting records. They are beatable.

The tea parties - A good start, but needs to be sustained.

Back in my football days, we had a saying about the season. It is a marathon, not a sprint. The "season" started in January with offseason weightlifting and conditioning. The hard work in January was to pay off in the fall.

This tea party is a good start. That's what it is, a start. What did it do? It woke some people up hopefully about the spending going on in this country. That is important, but it needs to be followed up. It needs to be followed up with calls to our congressmen, senators, state reps, state senators, and even local officials.

The potential organization needs to be more than potential. It needs to be real, active, and ongoing as preparation for the special elections and local elections of 09 and for the major 2010 elections across the country. That is the true measure of success. I remember an astroturf rally for gun control in 2000 that ended up going nowhere. The pro-freedom groups didn't have the rallies, but had the organization where it counts - votes.

Step 1 was the tea parties. That was a successful step. Step 2 is following up with organization dealing with the reps and elections. That has yet to be determined. We don't win in April. We win in August and November.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Cluster-you-know-what in Hamburg Township

If one of you all back in August right after the primary was having a bet on the over/under for recalls being filed before May, I would have taken that bet on double or nothing. I saw this a long time ago.

Former Hamburg Township Trustee Mike Bitondo has filed a recall petition for township Clerk Matt Skiba.

Bitondo filed his petition Thursday afternoon, and a clarity hearing on the petition language was scheduled for 8:15 a.m. April 24 at the historic Livingston County Courthouse in downtown Howell

One politician from one clique recalling another. We haven't even gotten one year into Skiba's term yet.

This BS is really embarassing my party and my county. I'm fully supportive of the recall system, but it should be used for poor policy decisions (tax increases) and illegal misconduct in office, not for pissing contests and turf wars due to a clique losing the primary election. The good news on this is that it required 2500 valid signatures and will be no easy task.

We as a party just should have had a good scare looking at the last two election results in our county. Yeah, we won it by a decent margin by most standards, but not by ours. 56% is not solid for us. Our largest municipality by population is Hamburg. One thing that keeps our party strong in the county is relatively few screwups compared to some areas dominated by democrats, like Wayne County. We don't have 62 mills on our property taxes, like Detroit. Taxes are lower here, and the bond rate is strong due to the general fiscal responsibility here. I think it can be better, but it still could be much worse. In general, it isn't that hard for the most part defending this county......outside of the cluster###k going on in Hamburg. That's another story.

I can't defend Hamburg, which unless things change soon, is being handed over to the Democrats quickly. Our worst showing in 08 was a three way race in Hamburg where Skiba won with 41.63%. It was a win, because it was a three-way race. Debby Buckland received 38.89% and Hardesty's write-in as an independent got 19.56% Who knows what it would be in a two-way race. In the Hamburg based County Commissioner race, Dennis Dolan won 53-46% over Dave Buckland, Debby's husband, and Dolan generally did not have controversy on the county board. McCain was held to 51% there. I don't know who dragged the ticket down there, but at the very least, the local government controversies in Hamburg are not helping matters. It's not even an ideological fight between "RINOS" and "Conservatives" either.

It's high time for the Republican office holders in Hamburg Township to wake the #@%@ up and smell the maple nut crunch as Denis Leary would say, or we are going to create a nice solid "blue zone" in this county.

Outside of this recall, you all (the GOP office holders in Hamburg) have about three years to man up and turn this township around, or a lot of people are going to be sent home. Matt Skiba, Phil Semprevino, Pat Hohl, Pat Evon, Bill Hahn, Chuck Menzies, and Mike Dolan. They have to step it up and spend their time on township business and not clique business. Skiba's the clerk. Get over it. Semprevino is a trustee. Get over it. The elections are over. Man up and get the job done folks, or someone else will.

What is at risk at a Constitutional Convention?

One thing I keep saying in my strong opposition to a Constitutional Convention is that literally everything is on the table. I don't think that gets the point across as much as it should since I realized that most people haven't read the Constitution of the State of Michigan which was enacted in 1963.

You can find it here (hopefully, the link works) or through a couple of clicks from

If a con-con passes, all of our state level safeguards is at risk including:

Article 1 - sec 6 Every person has a right to keep and bear arms for the defense of himself and the state.

The Supreme Court has not yet incorporated the 2nd Amendment to the states through the 14th Amendment's equal protection or due process clauses.

Article 1, sec 20 In every criminal prosecution, the accused shall have the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury, which may consist of less than 12 jurors in prosecutions for misdemeanors punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year; to be informed of the nature of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him or her; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his or her favor; to have the assistance of counsel for his or her defense; to have an appeal as a matter of right, except as provided by law an appeal by an accused who pleads guilty or nolo contendere shall be by leave of the court; and as provided by law, when the trial court so orders, to have such reasonable assistance as may be necessary to perfect and prosecute an appeal.

This is more in depth trial by jury than federal constitution.

Article 1, sec 26 26 Affirmative action programs.
Sec. 26.

(1) The University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and any other public college or university, community college, or school district shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

(2) The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

(3) For the purposes of this section "state" includes, but is not necessarily limited to, the state itself, any city, county, any public college, university, or community college, school district, or other political subdivision or governmental instrumentality of or within the State of Michigan not included in sub-section 1.

(4) This section does not prohibit action that must be taken to establish or maintain eligibility for any federal program, if ineligibility would result in a loss of federal funds to the state.

(5) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as prohibiting bona fide qualifications based on sex that are reasonably necessary to the normal operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

(6) The remedies available for violations of this section shall be the same, regardless of the injured party's race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin, as are otherwise available for violations of Michigan anti-discrimination law.

(7) This section shall be self-executing. If any part or parts of this section are found to be in conflict with the United States Constitution or federal law, the section shall be implemented to the maximum extent that the United States Constitution and federal law permit. Any provision held invalid shall be severable from the remaining portions of this section.

(8) This section applies only to action taken after the effective date of this section.

(9) This section does not invalidate any court order or consent decree that is in force as of the effective date of this section.

Affirmative Action is no more. The left will want to change that.

Article 1, section § 27 Human embryo and embryonic stem cell research.
Section 27.

(1) Nothing in this section shall alter Michigan’s current prohibition on human cloning.

(2) To ensure that Michigan citizens have access to stem cell therapies and cures, and to ensure that physicians and researchers can conduct the most promising forms of medical research in this state, and that all such research is conducted safely and ethically, any research permitted under federal law on human embryos may be conducted in Michigan, subject to the requirements of federal law and only the following additional limitations and requirements:

(a) No stem cells may be taken from a human embryo more than fourteen days after cell division begins; provided, however, that time during which an embryo is frozen does not count against this fourteen day limit.

(b) The human embryos were created for the purpose of fertility treatment and, with voluntary and informed consent, documented in writing, the person seeking fertility treatment chose to donate the embryos for research; and

(i) the embryos were in excess of the clinical need of the person seeking the fertility treatment and would otherwise be discarded unless they are used for research; or

(ii) the embryos were not suitable for implantation and would otherwise be discarded unless they are used for research.

(c) No person may, for valuable consideration, purchase or sell human embryos for stem cell research or stem cell therapies and cures.

(d) All stem cell research and all stem cell therapies and cures must be conducted and provided in accordance with state and local laws of general applicability, including but not limited to laws concerning scientific and medical practices and patient safety and privacy, to the extent that any such laws do not:

(i) prevent, restrict, obstruct, or discourage any stem cell research or stem cell therapies and cures that are permitted by the provisions of this section; or

(ii) create disincentives for any person to engage in or otherwise associate with such research or therapies or cures.

(3) Any provision of this section held unconstitutional shall be severable from the remaining portions of this section.

History: Add. Init., approved Nov. 4, 2008, Eff. Dec. 19, 2008

This was prop 2. I hate this law, but those who support this are risking it by voting for a con-con.

Article 2, sec 8 - Sec. 8.

Laws shall be enacted to provide for the recall of all elective officers except judges of courts of record upon petition of electors equal in number to 25 percent of the number of persons voting in the last preceding election for the office of governor in the electoral district of the officer sought to be recalled. The sufficiency of any statement of reasons or grounds procedurally required shall be a political rather than a judicial question.

Recalls are a check and balance against the government. They are at risk with a con-con. Article 2, sec 9 provides for ballot iniatitives and referendums. Article 2, sec 10 is term limits. I don't like them, but many do, and that's at risk with a con-con. I'd support changing them by amendment. (which is also at risk with a con-con)

Article 4, sec 24 - No law shall embrace more than one object, which shall be expressed in its title. No bill shall be altered or amended on its passage through either house so as to change its original purpose as determined by its total content and not alone by its title.
Sec. 25. No law shall be revised, altered or amended by reference to its title only. The section or sections of the act altered or amended shall be re-enacted and published at length.

A guard against Surprises. That's at risk.

Article 4, Section 46 - No law shall be enacted providing for the penalty of death.

If you oppose the death penalty, that's at risk with a con-con.

Article 5, section 21 - The governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and attorney general shall be elected for four-year terms at the general election in each alternate even-numbered year.

The lieutenant governor, secretary of state and attorney general shall be nominated by party conventions in a manner prescribed by law. In the general election one vote shall be cast jointly for the candidates for governor and lieutenant governor nominated by the same party.

Vacancies in the office of the secretary of state and attorney general shall be filled by appointment by the governor.

Do you want to be able to elect the Attorney General and Secretart of State offices? That's at risk. Some want to have the governor appoint everything.

Article VI, sec 2 - The supreme court shall consist of seven justices elected at non-partisan elections as provided by law. The term of office shall be eight years and not more than two terms of office shall expire at the same time. Nominations for justices of the supreme court shall be in the manner prescribed by law. Any incumbent justice whose term is to expire may become a candidate for re-election by filing an affidavit of candidacy, in the form and manner prescribed by law, not less than 180 days prior to the expiration of his term.

Do you want to still be able to elect judges? I do, despite the last election results.

I can go on and on. Article VII sec 11 limits county debt. Article VII sec 21 limits taxes of cities/villages for "municipal purposes". Section 26 prohibits cities from loaning credit for any private interest. Section 32 requires local governments to have public hearings before a budget is enacted. Article IX, sec 8 exempts food from sales tax. Sec 9 limites gas tax to transportation. Section 23 allows for the books to be open for inspection. Section 24 protects pensions (which is why the MEA is probably against a con-con)

Section 25 deserves special mention.
Property taxes and other local taxes and state taxation and spending may not be increased above the limitations specified herein without direct voter approval. The state is prohibited from requiring any new or expanded activities by local governments without full state financing, from reducing the proportion of state spending in the form of aid to local governments, or from shifting the tax burden to local government. A provision for emergency conditions is established and the repayment of voter approved bonded indebtedness is guaranteed. Implementation of this section is specified in Sections 26 through 34, inclusive, of this Article.

All of those are at risk.

Section 35 is the trust fund for natural resources. That is at risk. So is the Veterans trust fund. Section 37. Section 40 - natural resources.

Article X, section 2 limits eminent domation.
Private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation therefore being first made or secured in a manner prescribed by law. If private property consisting of an individual’s principal residence is taken for public use, the amount of compensation made and determined for that taking shall be not less than 125% of that property’s fair market value, in addition to any other reimbursement allowed by law. Compensation shall be determined in proceedings in a court of record.

“Public use” does not include the taking of private property for transfer to a private entity for the purpose of economic development or enhancement of tax revenues. Private property otherwise may be taken for reasons of public use as that term is understood on the effective date of the amendment to this constitution that added this paragraph.

In a condemnation action, the burden of proof is on the condemning authority to demonstrate, by the preponderance of the evidence, that the taking of a private property is for a public use, unless the condemnation action involves a taking for the eradication of blight, in which case the burden of proof is on the condemning authority to demonstrate, by clear and convincing evidence, that the taking of that property is for a public use. (146)

Any existing right, grant, or benefit afforded to property owners as of November 1, 2005, whether provided by this section, by statute, or otherwise, shall be preserved and shall not be abrogated or impaired by the constitutional amendment that added this paragraph.

That is only A STATE PROTECTION. Poletown was overruled a few years back by the conservative Supreme Court. It was later codified in this constitutional amendment. The codified part is at risk with a con-con.

Article XI, section 5 allows for collective bargaining for the MSP troopers and sgts.

Article XII, section 1 provides for Amendments.

There's plenty more there, and that doesn't even get into judicial interpretation of these laws. Everything is literally at risk with a con-con. Liberals and conservatives alike have a lot to lose.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Perlberg Argus editorial on Constitutional Convention

One issue I'm following closely is the Constitutional Convention issue for 2010. On the ballot will be a question of a con-con. Quite simply, if it passes, there will be a new constitution in Michigan, with literally everything on the table.

I am 100% against a con-con for reasons I explained here and here. This mentions what can be done in a constitution covention and how delegates to the convention are chosen.

Rich Perlberg seems to have a few concerns as well on this, although he hides his cards to his views on a con-con. Interestingly, both the MEA and the Chamber have their guards up.

The vote takes place in November 2010. If the statewide proposal passes, then a convention of 148 delegates will be elected to draft a new version of the state's constitution, last rewritten in 1963. The new version will be submitted to voters, who will give it the ultimate thumbs-up or thumbs-down.

Next year's vote is embedded in the Michigan Constitution and must take place every 16 years. The last two votes — in 1978 and 1994 — were overwhelmingly defeated. There are a number of folks who hope next year's results will be similar.

Some unlikely allies, such as the state's most influential business organization and Michigan's largest teachers' union, are already stoking the fires of opposition.

He then goes on to the real concerns.

The MEA and the state chamber are on more solid ground when they argue that a constitution works best when it's not frequently and radically changed. The document that governs our nation has withstood the test of time for more than 200 years with only 27 amendments.

The big worry for Rich Studley, president of the state chamber, and Ed Sarpolus, government affairs director of the MEA, is the Pandora's box of issues that could be on the table with a constitutional convention.

All of a sudden, all sorts of emotional issues are at play: abortion, gay marriage, capital punishment, affirmative action, school vouchers, gun rights, prayer in school, judicial elections, marijuana decriminalization, and so on.

The advent of any one of these issues by itself would bring in out-of-state money and influence. Think of the circus — and unintended consequences — if all are in play simultaneously.

Literally, all of this is on the table, and that doesn't mention safeguards on taxes. That's on the table. When it comes to state law, the Michigan Constitution is the supreme law of the land. It is checked only by the US Constitution.

In addition to that, who knows for a fact what laws govern elections of constitutional delegates? Under the current campaign finance laws and election laws, this is an unknown. They did not include the position of "constitution delegate" in their laws because it is so rare. This last happened in 1963. The campaign finance laws were post Watergate, 1977.

I will say this. If this does pass and if I'm still in state which I hope to be, I will be running as a Republican (it's a partisan office) for delegate for one of the two positions (they mirror the legislature positions). I will file the day after election day. I will be planning this long before election day just in case it does pass.

We need to be prepared just in case this does pass. The last thing I would want to see is a bunch of radicals elected as delegates thanks to Jon Stryker's money and organization. We can't control his money, but we can control our own organization.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Gay marriage in Iowa and Vermont

I'm not as much of a hardliner on the gay marriage issue as I am other issues. Generally my stance (idealist to an extent) is this.

1. This is an issue that belongs at the state level, not the federal level. Let Vermont be Vermont, Michigan be Michigan, California be California, Texas be Texas, etc.

2. I'd personally like to see government get out of marriage altogether. Marriage is a religious based institution. From that standpoint, I do not support gay marriage. I don't have to worry about that. The Catholic Church does not support it. Some religions support it. Unitarians and Episcopalians. That's their business, not mine. I do opposed forced recognition of any gay marriage.

3. I do not support tax money paying for gay marriage or unions in broad based governmental benefits. I don't have a problem with governments hiring individuals however who happen to be gay, and if they do good enough where they can write their own ticket and demand individual domestic benefits. The former is collectivism, while the latter is individualism and a good business decision.

4. I support DOMA (Defense of marriage act).

5. I oppose US Constitutional Amendments of any sort regarding gay marriage. The United States Constitution is intended to limit the powers of government, not the people.

Now that disclaimer of sorts is out of the way, two states just legalized gay marriage. Iowa and Vermont. With my 10th Amendment leanings, I don't have a problem or issue with what Iowa and Vermont do on this issue (by result). I don't live there. I do have a bit of intrigue at the way this was done. One state did it the right way, and the other did it the wrong way.

Vermont did it the right way. It was a legislative action and by a vote of their state legislature. They are an elected body accountable to the people. That's the way this issue should be decided. I don't have a problem with it at all. I don't live there. As far as Iowa goes, this decision doesn't belong in the hands of the courts. It belongs in the legislatures or ballot proposals. That was the wrong way to do it.

My one concern though is the conflict between the 10th Amendment and Full Faith and Credit regarding the Defense of Marriage Act. That will be going to SCOTUS at some point in an attempt to force states to recognize another state's gay marriage. A legal argument (not saying I agree with results from a policy standpoint) can be made either way on that. Full Faith and Credit does not apply to everything however. Concealed weapons permits. Some states recognizes another state's Concealed Pistol license. Some don't. Will that happen here? I think we'll find out in the next five years.

Overall, let the legislatures in the states decide.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Dumb and Dumber revisited

I don't know who is dumber here. The thought policy and grandstanding of school bureaucrats or the students that did the postings. What postings? From the Argus:

Two students were suspended from Howell High School Friday after administrators discovered the students used school computers to post content on an Internet hate group created on

Principal Aaron Moran said the violation could lead to expulsions.

"It's unacceptable," Moran said. "It's not something that Howell Public Schools stands for. That's not a representation of all of our kids, but it's unfortunate that some are participating in this type of speech."

Moran said school officials became aware of the Rebel and Proud Internet group Wednesday when a member of the public referred the site to a teacher. Based on the time and dates of certain postings, as well as tracking software, administrators were able to determine what activity took place at school.

Friday morning, the Facebook group listed 34 members, the majority of whom identified themselves as Howell High School students.

The group's Web page displayed an image of the Confederate flag along with this message:

"If you hate a certain type of anybody black, white, pink, yellow or polka dot (you) should join. This shows you are a rebel and proud of it."

The group's creator listed his name, address, e-mail address and cell phone number on the site. Facebook is accessible to anyone with a computer and Internet

He claimed the hate group was a joke.

"It was a joke, pretty much. ... It wasn't just me," said Chase Crawford, a 17-year-old junior at Howell High School and the creator of the group.

A March 26 forum posting by Crawford read: "i have no problem with black people just (n———)." When asked if that posting was a joke as well, Crawford said he didn't remember posting those words.

Repeated attempts to reach Crawford's parents were not successful.

Another member of the group, who identified himself on his Facebook page as a 2008 Howell High School graduate, displayed a photo of a cross being burned with a man standing next to it, holding two thumbs up.

The so-called "joke" drew a serious response from members of the Livingston Diversity Council, an organization that advocates for diversity and inclusion within Livingston County.

First off. Rule one. Anything posted on the internet is there forever. The first part of World Wide Web is WORLD. That means the entire world can see that. That can come back and bite you in the arse like an angry Canada goose.

As to the comments, based on the article (I'll skip the link, to the actual site as I have no desire to see it), it sounds like a joke. Not a funny joke, rather dumb, but a joke. The comment about black people v N's sounds like a reference to a famous Chris Rock
skit that you can see on youtube here. Warning - The language is very R rated, as you would expect from a Chris Rock skit. The burning cross picture is provocative, as it is supposed to be. Shock value to get attention. They got it..... As Foghorn Leghorn says, that boy is about as sharp as a bowling ball, hence the title of this post. Dumb and Dumber revisited. The comments were dumb, the admins were dumber.

The question is as follows. How do we deal with individuals like the people that posted this? How I deal with it is simple. I don't associate with those people. They aren't worthy of my time. That ends it. Instead with have a major news story in the Argus about this, and some grandstanding from the schools.

Is this worth an explusion? That strikes me as a political correct response to this by the thought police so the admins and the Argus can crow to the world that they aren't like Robert Miles (who of course had to be mentioned in this news story even though he's been dead for almost 20 years). If you want to see adults dumber than the kids who post this stuff, go watch a bunch of bureaucrats in action. These bureaucrats and their reaction (expulsion - uber outrage and yapping) makes it look like they have something to hide.

Back in my high school days, I had a bit of a mouth at times (surprising, ain't it) that sometimes got me in trouble. I received a cheap detention for something stupid and in my disgust, crumpled up the form and said (which I thought was under my breath) "F' this." Luckily it wasn't directly at the teacher, but it was loud enough to cost me a three day suspension as well as facing the parents at home which was no fun. I laugh about it today in my 30's, but it wasn't so funny then. It wasn't as dumb as what these individuals did, but a similar punishment for this should suffice, or better yet, give them an offer they can't refuse. If I was admin, I'd offer to take this off their record if they work the soup kitchens in Detroit for five days. Expulsion doesn't fit the crime. Slap them on the wrist a bit, stop the embarassing grandstanding, and move on from this. These are 17 year old kids which by definition, do dumb things from time to time. Let them learn from it (and not with PC brainwashing that backfires), and help this boy become a man.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Major layoffs at the Argus

I'm not sure if this is an April Fool's joke or the real thing, but the way this is written, I don't think it is. I know the news business is struggling as bad as the auto industry so this does not surprise me.

The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus announced what it called a "significant" work-force reduction Tuesday in a step that a company official said was necessary to cope with "staggering" revenue declines.

General Manager and Executive Editor Rich Perlberg declined to specify the total number of layoffs, but said the number was "more than 10" from a total work force of 95.

The layoffs included two high-profile members of the news department: Managing Editor Maria Stuart and Metro Editor-Features Henry "Buddy" Moorehouse.

"This is a significant work-force reduction designed to keep our paper viable in the face of staggering advertising declines due to the economy," said Perlberg. "We've essentially eliminated a level of management by reducing positions in all of the company's departments.

I wish Maria and Buddy and the rest of the workers the best of luck. The paper won't be the same without them.