Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rick Snyder needs a reality check

I got most of a robocall from Snyder's people today asking me to call Joe Hune and tell him to support the budget and the pension tax, saying that it doesn't touch social security (you gotta be shitting me with that being the justification, and that's the edited version of what I said). It was a rather pathetic talking point. I was frankly embarrassed that this guy is supposedly from my party. I called Joe's office, thanked him for his opposition, and told him that I opposed this and why I did. I skipped the profanities in the call, but I'm irked enough to use them here.

The Bill Milliken saying is that Good policy is good politics. I rarely agree with anything Milliken did, to the point where I'd vote for most democrats over him. That saying is true, and the inverse is even more true. Bad policy is bad politics. Snyder is pushing bad policy right now. It's horrible politics.

Democrats are gleeing right now as a democrat polling firms numbers on Snyder.
Public Policy Polling. Now some are wondering, why I'm posting a dem poll on a conservative GOP leaning blog. Because I think if the numbers aren't true, they are close, despite high democrat sampling of voters. Their numbers.

Virg Bernero 47, Snyder 45. Approval 33%, disapproval 50%.

Among Republicans - 68% Approval, 13% Disapproval, 19% not sure. (and I think many of those 19% are being polite to the pollster)

Among Indys - 32% Approval, 44% Disapproval, 25% not sure.

That ain't good, and I see that here on the street. A lot of social conservative independent populists (IE - Seniors) remember the bad things about their perceptions of republicans. They are normally false perceptions. "Republicans are corporate stooges for the rich." In Snyder's case, it's tougher to defend.

The problem is that Snyder's budget, like everything else that comes out of Lansing the past 20+ years is based on a false premise. The false premise is that only the so called "discretionary fund" is allowed to be touched. That puts about 82% of the budget as off limits. That's an unacceptable starting point. "Why isn't discretionary" was my question to a legislative aide. "Because of either the feds or constitution" "State Constitution?" "Yes" "That can be amended."

If Snyder wants to reinvent government instead of more of the same, he needs to start with opening up the entire thing. By announcing this tax increase, he lost much of his political capital to do that and needs to earn it back. This budget - at least the tax portion, is already likely DOA due to conservatives opposed to this teaming up with democrats who want to see him fail, and look good opposing the tax increase. Seniors, many who whom live off their PENSION, are going to vote democrat or stay home after they see their checks decrease, which were earned mostly for 30+ years of hard work. Why won't they. They'll mistake Snyder for being a republican in general.

As to our legislators, the question to them is this. Do you want to do the right thing and lead with your own plan, or be followers to someone who really isn't your boss. Being followers is what cost our party in 2006. We can not make the same mistake again.

What Snyder needs to do with this budget, is 1. Admit that he blew it and 2. Push for a constitutional amendment opening up the entire budget so we can fix the structural problems, and not raise taxes. People don't usually care about the process. They care about the pain. They see pain coming their way, and also see a government with a history of being FUBARed giving it to them, once again asking them for a bailout.

We don't need Granholm II. We don't need the Snyder plan. We need an actual Republican plan without more of the same, and tax increases. Start by opening up the entire budget. If that can't be done, fix it so it can. Anything else will kill us in 2012.

Census Observations Part II - Wayne County

This is a continuing series on the census numbers. Part I is here. This focuses on Wayne County.

Wayne County as a whole lost 240,578 people. Noticing trend here is this. Wayne County is shedding white people in a big way. There is some growth in the far downriver areas and near Northville/Canton towards Ann Arbor, but the inner-ring burbs near Detroit are shedding a lot of people.

Detroit (D) lost 237493. Lost 44,000 whites and 185K blacks. Was 10.5% White, 81.2% Black, 5% Hispanic. Now 7.8% White, 82.2% Black, 6.8% Hispanic. Only the Hispanic population grew. Detroit had white and black flight.

Dearborn (D) actually gained 378 people. 98,153 people. Middle Easterners are classified as whites for census purposes, so I'm not sure if there were big ethnic changes or not. If there was, it was mostly due to Middle Easterners, likely Muslims. A lot of the Middle Eastern Christians are now in Macomb County. There is black growth here as well, not as much as elsewhere bordering Detroit.

Highland Park (D) lost 4970 to 11,776. Across the board across racial lines.

Hamtramck (D) lost 553 to 22432. The loss was almost entirely among whites (Poles likely). The black and Asian (Bangladeshi or Pakistani mostly I believe) populations gained heavily. Was 60.4% white, 14.9% black, and 10.3 Asian, now 53% white, 19.1% black, and 21.4% Asian

Harper Woods (D) is going through a massive white flight. Dropped 18 people overall to 14,236. There was a loss of 5000 whites. It was 84.9% White, 10.2% Black, now 48.5% White, and 45.3% Black. I am surprised at how quick the change happened here. A lot of it was school flight.

Grosse Pointe Park (slight D) is going to be interesting in the next 10 years. Lost 888 people to 11,555. Lost of 1800 whites. It was 91.2 White, 2.9 black. Now 83% White, 10.5% Black. This is long been the most liberal of the Pointes. Will the whites there that love diversity live among it? The same thing is happening on a smaller scale among the other Pointes (Slight R) but not nearly on the same scale.

Redford (D) - Lost 3260 overall to 48,362. White flight has been going on here too for years, especially on the North end (and SE portion near Joy/Telegraph) near the Detroit and Southfield borders. Was 86.7% White, 8.5% Black, now 64.7% White and 28.7% Black. I thought the numbers would have changed more, but I'm more familiar with the northern part of Redford than southern part.

Livonia (slight R) lost 3603 - 96,342. Lost 7000 Whites. Was 94.1% White, 0.9% Black, and 1.9% Asian, 1.7% Hispanic, now 90.1% White, 3.4% Black, 2.5% Asian, 2.5% Hispanic. It is becoming diverse, or is the same thing going happen here as Redford?

Dearborn Heights (D) lost 494 - 57,774. Lost at least 4000 whites even if you consider Arabs white. Was 89.3% white, 2.1% black, 2.2% Asian, and 3.4% Hispanic. Now 83% White, 7.8% Black, 1.7% Asian, 4.7% Hispanic. I think a lot of the change here was in the area bordering Inkster and Parkland/far Warrendale portion of Detroit which massively changed after the City Workers left when the residency clause was outlawed.

Westland (D) lost 2.9%, down to 84,094. Lost 13,000 whites. Was 85.6% White, 6.7% Black, now 73.5% White, 17.1% Black. Same thing on much smaller scale in Garden City and Wayne. Westland borders Inkster to the Southeast.

Inkster (D) lost 15.8%, down to 25,369. More whites than blacks left, but it was across the board out migration.

River Rouge (D) lost 20.3%, down to 7903. Only Hispanics gain, but more whites than blacks left. Was 49.9% White, 41.8% Black, and 5% Hispanic. Now 49.8% Black, 34.8% White, and 11.2% Hispanic. Same thing happened in Ecorse. These northernmost downriver communities border Detroit.

Melvindale (D) - Lost 20 people, down to 10715. Lost 1600 whites. Was 81.7% White, 5.2% Black, 8.9 Hispanic, now 66.6% White, 10.8% Black, and 18.3% Hispanic. SW Detroit is expanding there.

Allen Park (Slight D) - Lost 4% to 28,210. Big growth among Hispanics here in Ford Country, part of which borders Detroit. Was 4.7% Hispanic, now 8.1% The black population doubled as well, but is only at 2.1% Whites dropped, but still higher percentage than nearby areas. Allen Park should be stable as long as Ford is.

Lincoln Park (D) - Dropped 4.7% to 38144. Lost 5500 whites. Was 89.2% White, 2% Black, 6.4% Hispanic, now 76.3% White, 5.7% Black, 14.9% Hispanic. Similar to Melvindale on a smaller scale.

Southgate (D) - Dropped 89 people to 30047. Lost 2000 whites. Was 90.9% white, 2.1% black, and 4% Hispanic. Now 84.5% White, 5.4% Black, 6.5% Hispanic.

Wyandotte (D) - Dropped 7.6% to 25883. Unlike Southgate, there wasn't much minority growth here outside of 500 Hispanics.

Trenton (Slight D) and Riverview (Slight D) didn't change much.

Southern Downriver gained, mostly among minorities.

Woodhaven (Slight D) gained 345 to 12875. Was 90.8% White, 2.3% Black, 3.5% Hispanic, now 85.2% White, 5.2% Black, and 5.5% Hispanic. Stable.

Gibralter (Slight D) gained 392 to 4656. Gains across the board among all ethnic groups.

Brownstown Township (D) had gains across the board, up 7638 to 30627. So did Huron Township (Swing) up 2142 to 15879, and Flat Rock (Slight D) up 1390 to 9878.

Rockwood (Slight D) dropped 153 to 3289. Few ethnic changes.

Towards the airport, Taylor (D) lost 2797 to 63,131. Lost 8,000 whites. Was 84% White, 8.7 Black and 3.2 Hispanic, now 74.4% White, 15.7% Black, and 5.1% Hispanic.

Romulus (D) went a dramatic change. It actually gained 1010 to 23989 people, but lost 3500 whites. It was 64.3% White, 29.8% Black, and now 49% White, 42.7% Black.

Sumpter Township (D) dropped 2307 to 9549. Losses were across the board here about equally.

Van Buren Township (D) gained 5262 to 28821. The white population actually dropped 1000. Was 81.2% White, 12% Black, now 63% White and 28.5% Black. This will be an area to watch. Van Buren Township is fairly rural. Belleville inside the township stayed about the same, although the minority increases were smaller than Van Buren Townnship.

Canton Township (Swings) - gained 13807 to 90173. One of the few areas where I'd actually consider integrated a bit instead of just percentages that look "diverse". Gains were across the board, smaller among whites than other ethnics. Blacks and Asians (Indians) were the big increase. Was 82.3 White, 4.5% Black, 8.7 Asian, now 70% White, 10.1% Black, 14.1% Asian.

Plymouth Township (R) - Dropped 274 to 27524. This one really surprised me compared to neighbors in Northville and Canton. Same percentages of whites and blacks left, although Asians and Hispanics gained. Few changes overall. Plymouth City (Swing) gained 110 to 9132. Few changes among ethnic lines here too.

Northville Township (R) - Gained 7461 to 28497. Big gains across the board, especially by Asians. The White and Black percentages dropped despite number increases. Was 88.1% White, 4.3% Black, and 4.2% Asian. Now 80.9% White, 3.6% Black, and 11.2% Asian.

As for political representation in Wayne County, there is currently parts of four congressional districts (Conyers, Clarke, Dingell, McCotter), 8 state senate districts (5 Detroit D, 1 Suburban D, 1D winnable for R's, 1 R winnable for D's), and 23 state rep districts (11 Detroit, 1 Detroit/Pointes lean D, 7 suburban D, 1 D winnable for R, 3 R winnable for D.) These were based on Wayne County's population of 2,061,162 and Michigan's population of 9,938,823. Wayne County's new population is 1,820,584. Michigan lost population overall to 9,883,640.

Population is 705,974 per Congressional District after losing one seat overall. Some articles state there is up to 5% variation. NOT true with CONGRESSIONAL districts. There can be with state districts. Population is 260095 (within 13004) per state senate district, and 89851 (within 4492) per state rep district. There is more limited municipal breaks with state/rep senate seats which means some reps here are in big trouble.

I'll get to Oakland County next.

Michigan census numbers in. Some observations.

Yesterday was the day was the big day with the official census numbers being released. I'm going to look at this more in depth as more data is shown.

The big news is that Detroit lost 230,000 residents over the past 10 years. It is down to 713,777, smaller than Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio. This is a city that was once a world class city before the so called "progressives" ruined it from Jerry Cavanagh onward to Coleman Young and all those city council and school board members who kept getting re-elected time and time again. Detroiters made their decisions, and now have to decide if they want to make a comeback, or do the same old thing, blame everybody else, and vote 93% Democrat again and again. It's their choice. I just hope that 93% of the 230,000 who left Detroit don't bring their crappy voting habits with them and ruin the areas they move to. Detroit CAN come back, if Detroiters want to and put the effort needed to come back.

Swing State Project, a left wing blog actually does a real good job looking at the districts. Michigan lost a district, so most areas have to shed population. Some were big enough where they have to shrink. One of these districts will be eliminated, and it will be from the Southeast part of the state.

Benishek - MI-01 - 650,222 - needs to gain 55,752
Huizenga - MI-02 - 698,831 - needs to gain 7,143
Amash - MI-03 - 694,695 - needs to gain 11,279
Camp - MI-04 - 686,378 - needs to gain 19,596
Kildee - MI-05 - 635,129 - needs to gain 70,845
Upton - MI-06 - 671,883 - needs to gain 34,091
Walberg - MI-07 - 676,899 - needs to gain 29,075
Rogers - MI-08 - 707,572 - needs to shrink 1,598
Peters - MI-09 - 657,590 - needs to gain 48,384
Miller - MI-10 - 719,712 - needs to shrink 13,738
McCotter - MI-11 - 695,888 - needs to gain 10,086
Levin - MI-12 - 636,601 - needs to gain 69,373
Clarke - MI-13 - 519,570 - needs to gain 186,404
Conyers - MI-14 - 550,465 - needs to gain 155,509
Dingell - MI-15 - 682,205 - needs to gain 23,769

If Michigan is going to keep two federal voting rights act districts (black majority) which is likely to avoid a court challenge (and it helps Republicans in other districts), the loser will likely be Sander Levin. They are going to have to pick up suburban black votes, and the most likely places are Southfield, Oak Park, Lathrup Village, Royal Oak Township, and maybe Eastpointe and part of Warren these days. It won't be hard in Michigan. The "tipping point" is alive and well, and I believe the number in Michigan historically has been 20-25%. I'd argue it at 15% actually.

Whether the tipping point is good or bad depends on who you ask. What I think is this. Those (of whatever color) leaving Detroit, Highland Park, Inkster, etc have choices and decisions to make. They can do what brought harm to the old city, to make a change. Communities are struggling with that right now. Southfield awhile back had a big story of the clash between recent Detroit transplants and longtime residents (both who were black). As far as the flight goes, it is what it is. Is it racist? Some of it is, especially when it comes to school decisions. Is it bad? I'd say it's a case by case basis based on the individuals moving to town. If people are leaving because of hard working people who look different are moving to town and control their kids, bettering their way of life, then it is bad. Those are good neighbors like any other. The good part of "diversity" came to Howell. Some of the whites nearby were more trouble than the blacks and Hispanics. If people are leaving their areas because gangbangers are moving to town, then its a whole different matter. That's why I judge tipping points and white flight on a case by case business. Some areas I think it's due to the former, some the latter.

The counties that lost population are:
Alcona (Slight R) - Sunrise Coast -6.6%
Alger (Slight D) - UP -2.6%
Alpena (Slight D) - Sunrise Coast -5.4%
Arenac (Slight D) - Sunrise Coast - -8.0%
Bay (D) - Bay City -2.3%
Berrien (R) - SW MI -3.5%
Branch (R) - South Central MI -1.2%
Calhoun (Swing) - Battle Creek Area -1.3%
Charlevoix (R) - NW MI -0.5%
Cheboygan (R) - NE MI -1.0%
Chippewa (Slight R) - UP -0.1%
Clare (Swing) - North Central -1.1%
Crawford (R) - North Central -1.1%
Delta (Swing) - UP -3.8%
Dickinson (slight R) - UP - 4.8
Genesee (D) - Flint area -2.4%
Gladwin (Swing) - North Central -1.3%
Gogebic (D) - UP -5.5%
Huron (Slight R) - Thumb -8.2%
Iosco (Swing) - Sunrise Coast -5.3%
Iron (Slight D) - UP -10.0%
Keweenaw (Slight R) - UP -6.1%
Luce (Slight R) - UP -5.6%
Mackinac (Slight R) - UP -6.9%
Menominee (Swing) - UP -5.1%
Montmorency (R) - NE MI -5.3%
Oceana (Slight R) - West MI -1.1%
Ontonagon (Swing) - UP -13.3%
Oscoda (R) - NE MI -8.1%
Presque Isle (Swing) - NE MI -7.2%
Roscommon (Swing) - North Central -3.9%
Saginaw (D) - Saginaw area -4.7%
St Clair (Swing) - Thumb/Port Huron -0.7% (That surprises me)
St Joseph (R) - SW MI -1.8%
Sanilac (R) - Thumb -3.1%
Schoolcraft (Slight D) - UP -4.7%
Shiawassee (Swing) - Mid MI -1.5 (Surprises me)
Tuscola (Slight R) - Thumb -4.3%
Van Buren (Swing) - SW MI - 5 people
Wayne (D) - Detroit/Downriver -11.7%

The counties that gained population are:
Allegan (R) - West Michigan +5.5%
Antrim (R) - Northwest MI +2.1%
Baraga (Slight R) - UP +1.4%
Barry (R) - West MI +4.2%
Benzie (Slight R) - Northwest MI +9.6%
Cass (Slight R) - Southwest MI +2.4%
Clinton (Slight R) - Lansing Area +16.5%
Eaton (Swing) - Lansing Area +3.9%
Emmet (R) - NW MI +4.0%
Grand Traverse (R) - Traverse City area +12.0%
Gratiot (R) - Mid MI +0.4%
Hillsdale (R) - South Central +0.3%
Houghton (R) - UP - +1.7%
Ingham (D) - Lansing/East Lansing +0.5%
Ionia (R) - West MI +3.8%
Isabella (Swing) - Mt Pleasant +11.0%
Jackson (Slight R) - South Central +1.2%
Kalamazoo (Slight D) - SW MI +4.9%
Kalkaska (R) - NW MI +3.5%
Kent (R) - Grand Rapids area +4.9%
Lake (D) - NW MI +2.4%
Lapeer (R) - Thumb +0.4%
Leelanau (Slight R) - NW MI +2.8%
Lenawee (Slight R) - SE MI +0.9%
Livingston (R) - SE MI +15.3%
Macomb (Swing) - Detroit Area +6.7%
Manistee (Swing) - NW MI +1.0%
Marquette (D) - UP +3.8%
Mason (Slight R) - NW MI +1.5%
Mecosta (R) - NW MI +5.6%
Midland (R) - Midland area +1.0%
Missaukee (R) - North Central +2.6%
Monroe (Swing) - SE MI +4.2%
Montcalm (Slight R) - West MI +3.4%
Muskegon (D) - West MI +1.2%
Newaygo (R) - West MI +1.3%
Oakland (Swing) - Detroit area +0.7%
Ogemaw (Slight D) - NE MI +0.3%
Osceola (R) - North Central +1.4%
Otsego (R) - North Central +3.7%
Ottawa (R) - West MI +10.6%
Washtenaw (D) - Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti +6.8%
Wexford (R) - NW MI +7.4%

The population losers are the industrial centers first which are most democrat. The thumb, Sunrise Coast/SE MI, and the UP lost population. Whether that's considered losing or winning depends on who you ask up there. The big gangs are in Macomb County, Grand Rapids/Holland area, College Town areas, Livingston/Monroe Counties, and Northwest MI. Surprising to me was small gains in Lapeer and losses in St Clair and Shiawassee County.

Outside of Marquette area, Ann Arbor burbs, and Lansing burbs, more democrat areas lost population. Republican areas and swing areas mostly gained. Hopefully the newcomers don't bring what screwed up their old home to these areas, like what happened in Bath Township in 2008. That's always a concern. Like the doctor's first rule says, do no harm. If you're moving to an area that's a good place to live, the first thing to research is how it got that way.

With redistricting here, the big losers will be likely Wayne County, Sander Levin/Gary Peters, and possibly Benishek, Camp, and Kildee, although that's admittedly stretching it.

Wayne County loses on state rep/senate representation due to population loss. Simple as that. As for Levin and Peters, their problem is that they are white democrats, which are always a favorite target for two reason. 1. They are stronger statewide. 2. Voting Rights Act protects, especially on congressional levels, minority majority interests. Many Republicans outside the districts often like VRA districts because it packs a bunch of democrats in an area. If we're stuck with John Conyers no matter what we do, then let's help other reps that need it. I expect two VRA districts. Whether Conyers in Palmer Park and Clarke on Detroit's Eastside are combined into one remains to be seen, but I don't expect that. Personally, I'd rather go after Peters or Levin anyway.

Since Detroit's lost over 200K, there's not enough for two fully Detroit based districts anymore. Since Metro Detroit is still very segregated, VRA districts can still be enacted. I would not be surprised to see one district catch more of of the changing burbs to shore up McCotter's district (Redford, Westland, along with Inkster and most of Detroit) and the other taking in Southfield, Oak Park, and maybe even S Warren/Eastpointe and/or Pontiac.

As for Benishek, Kildee, and Camp, all have to expand some. Kildee, or less likely Beniskek/Camp will likely have to take some of the thumb from Miller. Benishek can probably secure himself with Grand Traverse County, but that costs Camp. Camp is in Midland. He can take some of the slight dems on the sunrise coast, but you have Bay County nearby as well. His district is right now safe for him, but it's more tenuous on paper. I wouldn't feel safe there. Another issue with Bay County is Jim Barcia. Barcia is a very popular former Congressman/State Senator with strong pro-2a credentials. His old district was much of the sunrise coast, thumb, and Bay/Saginaw Counties. I doubt Camp or Benishek would want to take him on. I expect for that reason that Bay County will stay with Kildee. Once I see possible maps updated, I'll see what can be done.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Energy Policy needs to be America first

I agree with 70% of this article in New Geography, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite policy journals. I don't agree with it on nuclear policy, but I can see its argument. I still think we need to pursue nuclear energy as long as our reactors aren't on fault lines and subduction zones. We need an all the above energy policy.

From New Geography

The two largest crises today — the Japanese nuclear disaster and the widening unrest in the Middle East — prove it’s time to de-fetishize energy policy. These serious problems also demonstrate why we must expand the nation’s ample oil and gas supplies — urgently.

The worsening Japanese nuclear crisis means, for all intents and purposes, that atomic power is, if not dead, certainly on a respirator.

Some experts may still make the case that nuclear power remains relatively safe. Some green advocates still tout its virtues for emitting virtually no greenhouse gases.

But the strongest case against nuclear power is now rooted in grave public fears about radiation. Imagine trying to site or revamp a nuclear plant today anywhere remotely close to an earthquake fault or a major city.

Right now, I'm sure nuclear energy's popularity is dipping.

The other shoe dropping relates to the growing chaos in the Middle East, from North Africa to the Gulf. The price of oil is likely to continue climbing, unless the world economy slides back into recession — and perhaps even then. The governments that emerge from the current Mideast upheavals are likely to be far less pliable to Western interests than the authoritarian potentates that Washington long supported. Disruptions in supply, higher energy taxes and emergent environmental movements could constrain markets for months, even years, to come.

These realities upset all the “best” obsessions of our rival political classes. Much of the progressive community, for example, had embraced nuclear fuel as key to ultimately replacing fossil fuels as a source of electricity — including the long-awaited electric cars. Green advocates often overestimated the readiness of renewable fuels — still far more expensive than fossil fuels and highly dependent on subsidies.

Wind power, for example, produces, at best, some 2.3 percent of the nation’s electricity. But in addition to wiping out whole flocks of birds, it receives subsidies many times higher per megawatt hour than fossil fuels. In contrast, the dirtiest fuel, coal, still produces close to 50 percent of the nation’s electricity.

Meanwhile, solar panel production, touted as a wellspring of job creation, seems to be shifting inexorably to China. Algae-based biofuels and other types look promising — but could take decades to become practical.

Many conservatives, on the other hand, have espoused the nuclear option — in part, because the industry has powerful corporate backing, which is always an influential factor to Republicans. But even red-state denizens are probably looking at the scenes of Fukushima with understandable horror.

So if the “best” agendas of both parties are flawed, it may be time to look at the “good.” The pragmatic way out of this emerging energy mess means focusing on our increasingly abundant supplies of oil and gas.

“Peak oil” enthusiasts may not have noticed, but recent discoveries and improvements in technology have greatly expanded the scope of U.S. energy resources. New finds are occurring around the world, but some of the biggest are in the United States.

Shale oil deposits in the northern Great Plains, Texas, California and Colorado could yield more oil annually by 2015 than the Gulf of Mexico. Within 10 years, these finds have the potential to reduce U.S. oil imports by more than half.

Even more promising, from the environmental standpoint, are huge natural gas finds. Discoveries in Texas, Arkansas and Pennsylvania could satisfy 100 years of use at current demand levels.

What is great about American energy? Jobs. Money not going to the Middle East. Control.

Producing domestic energy also creates the potential for hundreds of thousands of new U.S. jobs — everything from engineering to high-paying blue-collar work in the fields.

A new gas-led energy boom would also spark increases in demand for manufactured goods like oil rig equipment, tractors, pipelines and refineries. And those are sectors that the United States still dominates.

Would we rather this economic growth take place in Iran, Saudi Arabia or, for that matter, Vladimir Putin’s Russia?

The time has come for both political parties to give up their “best” energy options for the good. A green economy that produces millions of new jobs is a laudable goal. But the renewable sector cannot develop rapidly without massive expenditures of scarce public dollars. To fully develop these technologies, we need lots of money and time.

Republicans, too, need to give up their “bests” — including the notion that no policy is always the best, usually a convenient cover for the narrow interests of large energy corporations. Allowing private corporations to unilaterally determine our energy policy makes little sense. After all, most of our key competitors — China, Brazil and India — approach energy not as an ideological hobby horse but as a national priority.

I know that oil has a "world price" but this goes beyond economics. We need to look at reality and control what we can control here at home. Global warming may or may not be happening (Certainly not happening in Michigan last few years - and I've seen nothing like 1988 or even 1996 lately), and may not be a concern. There is no consensus there, and those who say there is forget science 101 about testing.

Reality however consists of rising gas prices, rising shipping costs and inflation, unrest in the Middle East, China and India industrializing, and more pain, partly directly caused by the government. We need an all of the above energy policy here, and it starts by taking advantage of our own resources.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The economic bright spot. North Dakota

We keep hearing about cool cities and Richard Florida's creative class stuff about the future of the economy. That thinking has been wrong, is wrong, and always will be wrong outside of the engineers and trustafarians. Engineers are important, but the latter are frankly worthless to society.

What's key is jobs, and if there is an economic recovery right now going on, it is in what is considered one of the most "uncoolest" places in the US. North Dakota. North Dakota. Home of extreme temperature ranges, farmland, ranches, little "diversity" (German, Scandinavian, or Sioux mostly), and energy. All things that the Barack Obama/Rahm Emmanuel snob class doesn't like.

From New Geography
Already fourth in oil production behind Texas, Alaska and California, the state is positioned to advance on its competitors. Drilling in both Alaska and the Gulf, for example, is currently being restrained by Washington-imposed regulations. And progressives in California—which sits on its own prodigious oil supplies—abhor drilling, promising green jobs while suffering double-digit unemployment, higher utility rates and the prospect of mind-numbing new regulations that are designed to combat global warming and are all but certain to depress future growth. In North Dakota, by contrast, even the state's Democrats—such as Sen. Kent Conrad and former Sen. Byron Dorgan—tend to be pro-oil. The industry services the old-fashioned liberal goal of making middle-class constituents wealthier.

Oil also is the principal reason North Dakota enjoys arguably the best fiscal situation in all the states. With a severance tax on locally produced oil, there's a growing state surplus. Recent estimates put an extra $1 billion in the state's coffers this year, and that's based on a now-low price of $70 a barrel.

North Dakota, however, is no one-note Prairie sheikdom. The state enjoys prodigious coal supplies and has—yes—even moved heavily into wind-generated electricity, now ranking ninth in the country. Thanks to global demand, North Dakota's crop sales are strong, but they are no longer the dominant economic driver—agriculture employs only 7.2% of the state's work force.

Perhaps more surprising, North Dakota is also attracting high-tech. For years many of the state's talented graduates left home, but that brain drain is beginning to reverse. This has been critical to the success of many companies, such as Great Plains Software, which was founded in the 1980s and sold to Microsoft in 2001 for $1.1 billion. The firm has well over 1,000 employees.

That is an actual diversified economy, in the real sense - not abandoning it's primary historical industry (Agriculture). The energy is also diverse - coal, oil, wind, and natural gas.

I've long said that we need an all the above (minus the tyrannical and economic treason of cap and trade and anti-automobile CAFE increases) energy policy to promote energy independence from the Middle East. That includes oil, gas, coal, nuclear(not in subduction zones), wind, solar, non-food ethanol (Don't use corn), bio-diesel, and hydroelectrical. The dumbest argument I've ever seen is by those opposed to opening up ANWR because "it would take 10 years." I don't give a damn if it takes 20 years. Do we want to have our oil at worst in reserves, or do we want the Saudis to have us by the balls? Let's not forget the rapidly industrializing China and India with 2+ Billion people going to increase their consumption of oil/gas.

The gas prices in 2008 were IMO the straw that broke the camel's back when it came to the collapse. It wasn't budgeted for. It wasn't planned. It increased shipping costs for everything causing inflation. Wages wern't increasing. Now we see gas prices creeping towards $4 again. If Obama wants a recovery, this isn't helping.

Hopefully, Obama and his EPA doesn't put the hammer down on North Dakota. More states need to learn from North Dakota and put jobs and America first, regardless of what Hollywood and the self proclaimed elite think. When Al Gore, Robert Redford, James Cameron, and RFK Jr give up their 20,000 sq ft homes, jets, hummer's, and their carbon footprints, I'll maybe start thinking about considering what they have to say when they run their mouths.

This ain't good. Sharron Angle wants to make a comeback.

Sharron Angle helped snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in Nevada. It's not all her fault with the RINOs backing Reid, but she has one of the biggest cases of foot in mouth disease in political history.

From Hotline

Republican Sharron Angle will pass on a Senate bid against Rep. Dean Heller (R) and will instead seek Heller's open 2nd congressional district seat, she says in a YouTube video posted Wednesday.

"The 2010 election was bittersweet," Angle says in the video. "Conservatives had some victories, but we still face obstacles from Democrats in Congress and the White House."

Angle's entrance into the GOP congressional primary likely clears the path for Heller in his Senate bid, but could set up a crowded and messy Republican race in the sprawling, largely rural northern district based in Reno and Carson City.

Angle isn't the only heavyweight who's eyeing the second congressional district -- Nevada GOP Chairman Mark Amodei and Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki are also expected to get in. Kirk Lippold, who commanded the USS Cole when it was attacked in Yemen, and state Sen. Greg Brower have also been mentioned as candidates.

Reid was an incumbent who was underwater in approval/disaproval ratings. Angle didn't get the job done against Reid, and not because of views, but because of the mouth.

The 2nd District in Nevada will be smaller after redistricting. Right now it's basically all except metro Vegas and is historically Republican. However, Angle may have lost this district when she ran against Reid. She lost overall by 41,000 votes and lost the largest county in the district, Washoe, which went for Bush twice. Why take that chance again? I hope a solid conservative wins who doesn't have foot-in-mouth disease.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Open Carry and preemption court fight in Lansing

I'm going to start out with this. I am a 2nd Amendment absolutist when it comes to firearms laws. I support open carry as well from a RIGHTS standpoint - as in government shouldn't ban it. On the same note, we need to be smart and look at reality when it comes to public opinion on firearms and make sure our tactics are sound. Be smart.

Public opinion with gun laws is generally this. 25-30% are die hard pro-2nd Amendment supporters. They are on our side no matter what. 10-20% are die hard antis no matter what. 50-65% slightly lean one way or the other, but it's not a big issue with them. Mostly they don't want the boat rocked. That's why major gun legislation usually does not pass and why we have incremental pieces of gun control repeals.

In other words, when you represent firearms owners, you better make sure you don't piss off the independents.

The most divisive issue right now in the movement is open carry. It's a big one in Michigan, California, and Virginia, along with other places. I support open carry as a rights issue. We do not have the bill of needs. We have the Bill of Rights. If somebody wants to open carry, I personally have no problem with it despite my own choice not to open carry (I prefer concealed). I don't care if someone has no "so called need" to open carry. That's not my judgment call to make.

Open carry is legal in Michigan. Anyone who legally owns a firearm and passes the Federal NICS check or Michigan's pistol background check can carry openly in Michigan. It is legal. There is no law against it, only brandishing.

A different law on firearms is the preemption act. That's to avoid a patchwork of gun laws in Michigan so that one isn't unknowingly breaking the law, which is quite easy to do. The preemption act passed in 1990. Public Act 319 of 1990

In short, public act 319 disallows in most cases a "local unit of government" from being more stringent than state law. The statute defines “Local unit of government” means a city, village, township, or county. That's a big issue right now with open carry issue, because it's now in the news.

From The Lansing State Journal

A court order that bars people from openly carrying a firearm onto Capital Area District Library property will stand until at least June.

Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina on Tuesday broadened a Feb. 16 ruling to now keep anyone from openly toting firearms on the library's grounds. Her previous restraining order had applied only to members of Michigan Open Carry or associated people.

"I wish I could say that you could all carry weapons wherever you wanted, but I can't say that," Aquilina said during a hearing attended by gun rights advocates and library officials. "I do believe the library can regulate whether weapons come in or don't come in the library."

Library officials requested an injunction to bar people from openly carrying firearms on the premises in February, after four incidents since December where people believed to be members of Michigan Open Carry brought firearms into the building.

Aquilina said because the library is an "authority," it does not fall within a jurisdiction - city, township, village or county - where state law requires open carry to be allowed. She set a June 6-7 evidentiary hearing to more thoroughly go through evidence and make a declarative ruling on the issue.

I don't agree with the rules and have a lot of procedural concerns with it as the individual who caused the clustermuck by all accounts was not a member of Michigan Open Carry (and was not allowed to join). That's a side issue though that can be sorted out at the next hearing.

Now other statutes, including Michigan Constitution has "authorities" as local units of government. Both sides agree that the library is an "authority." The preemption statute does not specifically say authorities are local units of government, but other statutes do. While Michigan Open Carry had a great argument in their brief, there was just enough room for interpretation. We now have a court fight.

What's the point besides rights issues? Don't be a dumbass. Don't be a test case when you don't have to be one. That's the point. This whole fight, and the definition of what constitutes "local unit of government" in statute, was avoidable. While we as gun owners may win in the end, we did not have to put ourselves in a position to lose when we don't have to do so.

Open Carry in of itself isn't the problem. If I carried my pistol, in a side holster, exposed for all to see, it probably would not get much reaction. If I wore brown khakis and a button down shirt like I sometimes do, you'd probably think I was a cop or security.

If I walked in open carrying a shotgun or rifle outside of hunting season in a rural area, I'm going to have a lot of eyes on me and people wondering what the Hell I'm doing. If I saw someone open carrying a long gun, I would have one hand near my concealed gun while I look to get the Hell out of there. An open carry pistol in a holster, no big deal.

The Lansing area isn't known to be a friendly city in the first place to the 2nd Amendment. This is the area that gave us a lot of people who didn't even support the non controversial Vear Bill. Laura Baird, Lynne Martinez, Mike Murphy, Joan Bauer, Lingg Brewer, Virg Bernero, Gretchen Whitmer, and Mark Meadows have long records opposing firearms rights in the state legislature. All represented either Lansing, East Lansing, or both. Stuart Dunnings and Gene Wriggelsworth are two of the most anti 2a prosecutors and sheriffs in the state. It is what it is when it comes to that area.

So what caused this fight? An individual decided to open carry a shotgun to the Capitol Area District Library in Lansing. This alarmed people, and he was asked to leave. Others open carried there afterward and the CADL pushed for an injunction banning open carry there and got it. The judge considered "authorities" which the library is, not to be a unit of local government as it pertains to the preemption act. There will be another hearing on this in the future.

In my opinion (not a legal sense or political one), the individual open carried a shotgun there in the same way we have Jerry Springer shows. Shock value intended to inflame people, be in your face, and draw attention. It does not help the firearms movement. It is a bad tactic. While gun control is viewed as a big loser of an issue these days, our rights were in extreme danger of major bans back in 1999 and 2000 under Clinton/Gore, and no CPLs. I remember those days well. While open carry is legal, it won't be if this crap continues to happen. As gun owners, we need to exercise our rights, and do so in a responsible way. I doubt a pistol in a holster would garner the same reaction as a OCed shotgun. This created a bad test case which gave the antis an opening.

What's my biggest concern with this besides more gun control in general? Authorities cover a lot of aspects of local government. If the final decision in this is adverse, this can be expanded to a lot of other areas, most concerning to me being parking lots, and hence carrying in your car in those areas. This can be real bad news for us if the decision stands and holds up on appeals.

At best, this is going to cost a lot of money to defend. For those who don't like open carry, keep in mind that this case affects concealed carry and all gun control, as the challenge affects the preemption act, not specifically limited to open carry. While we as gun owners may not like what caused the fight and not want to be a part of it, the legal issues affect all of us, even those who do not open carry.

Stay tuned. This story isn't going away anytime soon. They'll be another hearing on this, and one side is going to appeal this no matter what happens.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Rick Snyder defends his budget at townhall

I'm not a Snyder Republican, as those who read this blog know, but I'll give him some credit. He crashed today's townhall meeting at Cleary over in Howell. Originally, this was a Bill Rogers/Cindy Denby event. Snyder's earned some respect from me for going out and defending this, especially when the MEA flooded the place with their union supporters blasting cuts. I still don't support all of the Snyder budget, mostly the tax increases.

Snyder talks about shared sacrifice and reinventing Michigan. His budget does not reinvent Michigan at all. It has the same problems of budgets over the last dozens of years.

All the budget fights is over about 18% of the real budget ("discretionary" budget of 8 or 9 billion). I didn't get a chance to grab a packet of the actual numbers (Thanks to Bill Rogers for having those there and on the slides). The real budget is the 45 Billion that is collected in taxes. 80%+ of the real budget is considered off the table. Why? The explanation I am told is due to either federal matching funds requirements or the Michigan Constitution. This is from all the reps and staffers I know.

That explanation is unacceptable. It's Lansing thinking. I know where it's coming from. I understand it. I can not accept it. As for the federal decisions, it's time to stand up to federal mandates, even if it means giving up some of those federal bribes. As for the constitutional restrictions, we have a process to deal with them. State Constitutional Amendments. If Rick Snyder really wants to reinvent Michigan, and I think he does, he can do so by using the bully pulpit by push for an Amendment opening up the rest of the budgets to get rid of our structural deficit. This can be done. It's not easy, but it needs to be done if there is going to be real budget changes and cultural changes regarding the budgets in Lansing.

If you want me on board with any "shared sacrifice" plan, you have to get to the meat and potatoes of the problem and not just 18% of the budget. Any plan that doesn't touch 82% part of the budget I oppose. Put it all on the table, and get this on the ballot for this August so we can get a real balanced budget without raising taxes.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Snyder, Republicans, and the budget

Right now there's a lot of hype and speculation about the state budget. Papers have been talking about "the republican plan." Currently, there is none. That's not meant as an attack. It's simply a statement of fact. All there is right now is speculation and a proposal by one proclaimed individual Republican in Rick Snyder.

Rick Snyder introduced his proposal which includes some tax increases (which I strongly oppose), some budget cuts, and some tax cuts. It's a Snyder plan, and not yet a Republican plan. It hasn't gone through any committees yet, let alone the full house. It's one person and his people's plan. Period.

Don't expect the Snyder plan to sail through the house and the senate as is. It'll be modified through committees. What we need to do, is keep a close eye on the committees, especially appropriations, watch what happens in committee, and make sure something more acceptable comes out of there.

The pension tax needs to be stopped, unless you want to see a mass exodus of snowbirds (and their money). That'll result in less money to the state coffers as well. That's not to mention that seniors are the most independent voters out there. They voted for Clinton, Gore, Bush, and McCain. They aren't too happy with Snyder right now. We need to make sure that Snyder doesn't represent Republicans when it comes to this budgetary issue. We need to publicly stop this in its tracks and repudiate it as not being representative of Republican politics. Bad policy is bad politics.

The MBT repeal is a good idea. So are some of the cuts. I draw the line with the tax increases. If the total tax code - including property taxes - was scrapped and started over, I'd be more open. This is less of a gimmick budget than the past, but what's going to happen down the road when the seniors leave town?

Snyder talks about shared sacrifice. I agree to a point. Government needs to live within its means period. Those cuts can hurt, but that's the sacrifice we need. We're all hurting in this economy. Mom and dad shouldn't bail out government for government getting themselves into this mess with eight years of Granholm combined with big government state legislatures from Sikkema, Johnson, and Dillon.

Right now, there's significant opposition to this pension tax in the senate, including my own senator Joe Hune.

Jack Brandenburg, Patrick Colbeck, Mike Green, Geoff Hansen, Joe Hune, Rick Jones, John Moolenaar, Mike Nofs, David Robertson, and Tory Rocca all came out opposed to the pension tax. Not surprisingly, most of them are from blue collar districts.

We need to keep an eye on the appropriations committees and make sure something acceptable comes out of there for a full vote. The Republican Plan should not include the tax increases. Period.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Consolidation push?

I've been hearing talk about consolidation for years. I think there's places for it, although other times it isn't the solution. The biggest consolidation projects are those like has been done in Nashville, Louisville, and Indianapolis where there is a largely city-county government merger. Apparently, there's some serious talk about that in the Grand Rapids area. I'm not in West Michigan, so I can't really comment on whether it be good or bad. I'm almost two hours from Grand Rapids.

The article lead to former Argus reporter Maria Stuart posting this at her Livingstontalk blog.

....Consider that in Livingston County we are supporting 16 townships, two cities, two villages, six school districts (including our Livingston Educational Service Agency) and one county government, in addition to our road commission, EMS service and various fire departments. Each and every one of these units of government has its own governing body, too.

If you count school districts that cross into Livingston County, there are actually 15 school districts in this county. The Livingston based districts are Brighton, Howell, Hartland, Fowlerville, and Pinckney. The others are based in the other counties. Several townships have multiple school district boundaries. All except Hartland have at least two, and most have three, with two having four.

Conway - Mostly Fowlerville, some Morrice (Shiawassee) and Webberville (Ingham).
Cohoctah - Divided almost equally between Fowlerville, Howell, and Byron (Shiawassee)
Handy - Mostly Fowlerville, some Webberville and Howell.
Howell Twp - Mostly Howell, some Fowlerville
Iosco - Mostly Fowlerville, some Howell, some Stockbridge (Ingham)
Marion - Mostly Howell, some Pinckney
Unadilla - Mostly Stockbridge, some Pinckney and Fowlerville
Putnam - Mostly Pinckney, some Howell
Hamburg - Mostly Pinckney, some Brighton and Whitmore Lake (Washtenaw)
Green Oak - Mostly Brighton, some Whitmore Lake (Washtenaw) and South Lyon (Oakland)
Genoa - Mostly Howell, some Hartland and Brighton
Brighton Twp - Mostly Brighton, some Howell, some Hartland, some Huron Valley (Oakland)
Hartland - All in Hartland
Oceola - Mostly Howell, some Hartland.
Deerfield - Howell, Hartland, Byron, and Linden (Genesee)
Tyrone - Hartland, Fenton (Genesee), and Linden.

That's a lot of school districts for an area of less than 300K, and probably less than 250K (Livingston County and districts in other counties). However, it would be a logistics nightmare to consolidate a county wide school district area when you factor the other county based school districts. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it will be a real pain, especially in Green Oak and the Fenton/Linden areas where a significant population is outside the LISD zone.

Think, too, why we need so many fire departments and so many police departments. If there is an inspiration for consolidation of emergency services, it should be Livingston County EMS, which works throughout the entire community so well.

Police and (to a lesser extent) fire get trickier. We have "fire authorities" and some regionalism with the fire departments. Genoa contracts with Brighton. Green Oak and Hamburg have their own. With police though, I'm a little more hesitant to support consolidation. I do not want big city style or revenue enhancement suburban style of policing out here. I damn well don't want East Lansing PD east out here, which is my concern. I've never had an issue or complaint about Green Oak PD here or Howell (City) PD when I lived there. (Genoa didn't have PD). Maria does have a point though.

I don’t mean to say that our various units of government have operated without cooperating with each other. There are some great examples of cooperative ventures in our community.

That said, these are treacherous times for our community, and the success of our future demands that we consider throwing out the government-as-usual model.

I agree, but if there is consolidation, it has to be done right. Grand Rapids is a city of about 190K in Kent County (700K). There's a much more regional atmosphere out there than in the Detroit area. That region wants to consider itself a big name as the leaders of Michigan and make West Michigan as big in prestige as what people think of Michigan right now - Detroit area. It's a different mentality.

The other thing with consolidation or getting rid of townships. Some people don't want to live in cities. They don't want the higher taxes, or even city services. My parents live on a dirt road with no sewers, no city water, and even no cable access. That's fine by them. Dirt roads keep traffic down and sewers and water bills are no fun. Direct TV is better than cable and its taxes/franchise fees anyway.

This is a tough issue, and one that is in a way the 800lb elephant in the room, particularly with revenue sharing being a big issue every budgetary season. On one hand, government is best when it is closest to the people. On the other, when you have somewhere around 16 townships in each county and all the school districts, with their managers, supervisors, superintendents, admin staff, and all that goes with it, it adds up. That's too many.

Would I support forced annexation of the cities/village to their in county Post Office Address boundaries if applicable (Okemos and Whitmore Lake aren't cities or villages)? No way - at least in Livingston County. While it's needed to a degree in Lansing (city/Twp) and Ann Arbor (City/Twp) with its highly irregular township boundaries/islands surrounded by city, it wouldn't be desirable here. Would I support townships becoming largely incorporated county government like it is in large parts of the US? I'd be more apt to consider and support that. What I think would be best is somewhat of a middle ground where some townships merge until there's a population minimum. That would cut most of the townships down in this state, while still preserving a lot of established township governments where there is a significant population.

2012 - Romney v Palin? I'm picking Choice C.

I'm going to get some heat for this one. I'll start off with this. Of the two supposed "top tier" candidates jockeying, or potentially jockeying for position as frontrunner for 2012, Romney and Palin are two of the least electable. I'll call Romney's position none, and Palin's slim. If I had to vote for one with a gun to my head, I would cringe and vote for Palin because I trust her more than Romney. I prefer someone else. I much prefer "Choice C."

From National Review and Ramesh Ponnuru

A Romney vs. Palin match-up would, for one thing, be a straight-up power struggle between the tea parties and the Republican establishment. Romney has avoided association with the tea parties and Palin has courted them. In a Palin vs. Romney race, the party establishment would rally behind him because it regards her as a certain loser in November 2012 — and fears that she would lose big enough to do damage to Republican congressional and gubernatorial candidates.

Other presidential candidates could bridge this divide. Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana, for example, might gain tea-party support because of his budget-cutting record, but also enjoys establishment support. Neither Palin nor Romney is likely to have the same breadth of appeal. Romney’s past liberal positions are likely to strike tea partiers as evidence that his conservative principles are insincere, and his championing of a health-care law in Massachusetts that strikingly resembles Obamacare will make them even more hostile. Palin, meanwhile, revels in the opposition of establishment figures. Their opposition is a key part of her strategy for mobilizing grassroots conservatives. Watching the party establishment line up behind Romney — and thus, from their point of view, behind Obamacare — would enrage the party’s populists.

That's only brushing it. A lot of the bitter infighting attacks in 2008 happened even before the election was over. You had some of Romney's national people, absorbed on McCain's staff, leaking stuff about Palin, anonymously to the press. They saw the polls, wrote off the election, went to trash Palin because if she goes down with the ship, Romney (who couldn't even beat McCain) wins for 2012. Many grassroots on the right united behind Palin because of those attacks. They see national elites trashing their person. There is a very bitter view between the Palin and Romney crowds over that. Harmfully, it's grown into a cult of personality, and those are never anything but harmful in politics, regardless of whose side it is. Celebrity politics needs to end.

Class is another increasingly uncomfortable fault line in the party (as Reihan Salam and I recently described in these pages). Romney’s supporters tend to be college-educated, while Palin draws her support from people who didn’t get college diplomas. In recent elections, upper-middle-class voters have left the Republican party in part because they regard it as dominated by yahoos and know-nothings. But other voters, particularly in the party’s base, resent what they see as a tendency to overestimate the importance of degrees from prestigious colleges. In the Delaware Senate race, populist candidate Christine O’Donnell started an ad by saying, “I didn’t go to Yale.” (Romney has two degrees from Harvard, Palin one from the University of Idaho.)
The 2008 presidential election was a festival of identity politics in both parties: upper-middle-class white women voted for Hillary Clinton, Mormons and rich people for Romney, evangelicals for Mike Huckabee, young and inexperienced voters for Barack Obama. If Romney and Palin are the top Republican contenders, the next presidential race could become even more tribal.

I only partially agree with this, and Pommuru is now generalizing a little too much. I agree with the "class" issues, in regards to social class. I disagree with education issues on this. I have two degrees, including a JD and I can not stand Romney. I have my issues with Palin as well, but if I was forced to chose between the two, I'd very reluctantly pick Palin who is less of a chameleon. Degrees have nothing to do with it. Can you do the job, or not?

What people don't like is what is commonly referred to as elitism. Elitism however doesn't mean "the best" when it comes to politics. It's sneering snobbishness that is both arrogant and ignorant of the real world. It's the attitude of "I have a Harvard degree so I am smarter than you. In addition, you are stupid and unable to govern yourself so we will do things for you." That's the attitude that people despise, and the attitude they see. Good ideas and good data supporting those ideas can stand on their own regardless of any "titles" somebody has. I don't care if someone's education level is PhD, MD, JD, MA, MS, BA, BS, Associates, High School, or 10th grade dropout. If it's good, it can stand on its own. I'll look at the data, and my own decision whether it is good. When it comes to running my life, I'll handle that, as I'm the expert who knows all the data - not government.

Now the problems with Romney and Palin:

1. Lost to McCain in the primary.
2. Many of the same base problems with McCain from his senate career also applies to Romney. However, then Romney was seen as lesser of the two evils. Today, Romneycare changes that. It was a minor issue in 2008. Not today.
3. Chameleon. He shifts his issues depending on where he is. That's a problem, even more so in the age of the internet.
4. Anti 2nd Amendment. He signed a gun ban. His record here is no different than Obama.
5. Little working class appeal.
6. Big government guy as governor.

1. She QUIT. This is what lost me. Yes, I know there was pressures from the lawsuits in Alaska, many of them are frivolous. However, as popular as Palin was with grassroots, she could have made that back easily on the speaker circuit, where she's worth millions. Palin was 3 years as a first termer as governor. She didn't finish out her contract. If she finished her term, that would be one thing. If she runs for president, will she quit two years in when the pressure mounts - pressure that will be unlike anything that happens in Anchorage.

2. Experience. Yes, I know Obama's experience qualifies him as fetching coffee in any major establishment, even compared to Palin. However, this isn't good enough.

3. Cult of personality. The most overrated issue in politics is charisma. I know she has a big following, but unless you are Reagan, Clinton, FDR, JFK, or possibly Teddy Roosevelt or William McKinley, you're not going to out charisma Obama. However, you can run against the charisma, against celebrity politics, and what comes with it. I'm real tired of the American Idolization of politics, and I don't think I'm the only one out there.

4. Problems with independents. Polls are speculation and a snapshot in time at best. However, Palin's negatives are extremely high, and that's not just in the Northeast, but most states. Can she change them? Maybe, but I can't count on that. I don't know exactly if it is due to the cult of personality, style, experience, or idiots who think what Tina Fey and Jon Stewart say are actually news. Regardless of the reasons, Palin would have a lot of ground to reverse.

If not Palin or Romney, then who? I'm also leaning strongly against any 2008 candidate.

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson has all but announced his candidacy. Johnson's an interesting candidacy as a libertarian leaning republican. There's a lot I like about where he stands. Balanced budgets, use of the veto, and decriminalization are areas where I generally agree. I do have a major disagreement with his abortion stance, and I am a bit more conservative than he is on non-fiscal matters. I'd need to know who he supports as judges before I'd jump aboard that campaign.

Businessman, former senate candidate, and talk show host Herman Cain has announced. He's generally good on the issues, but how would he get traction in a campaign not holding political office. It's possible, and 2012 might be the year for a "nonpolitician."

I'm keeping an eye on Governors/recent Governor's Mitch Daniels, Tim Pawlenty, and Haley Barbour. I'm balancing my anti-08 leanings, my own views of electability, and ideology in this decision. I'll likely support one of these five over the two with the hype. We'll see what happens down the road.