Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

Michigan Proposals 1 and 2 for 2014: An Analysis of the Wolf Hunting Refrenda

October 30, 2014

To fully understand Prosposal 14-1 and Proposal 14-2 that will be on the ballot here in Michigan one must go back to 2012 to understand the big picture.  In 2012, the Michigan Legislature passed Senate Bill 1350, which Governor Snyder signed, making it Public Act 520 of 2012.  The act added wolves to the definition of “game” animals; declared that wolf hunting was necessary to manage the growing population of wolves in order to protect humans, livestock, and pets; authorized a hunting season for wolves; established a licensing scheme; and established the Wolf Management Advisory Council.  Some citizens were opposed to the idea of wolf hunting, so they formed Keep Michigan Wolves Protected and filed a petition, with sufficient signatures, to have a referendum on Public Act 520.  Thus, it is this law that is on the ballot as Proposal 14-1.

(At this point, it is helpful to lay out the difference between an initiative, a referendum, and a proposal: An initiative is a citizen-initiated piece of legislation that goes before the Legislature if enough signatures are gathered; if the Legislature passes it, the legislation becomes law; if the Legislature does not pass it, it goes before the people for a vote.  A referendum is a citizen-initiated protest to a law passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor; those who want the law to stay vote “Yes”, while those opposed to the law vote “No”.  Once a referendum is certified, the law in question is suspended, pending the outcome of the election.  Thus, in an initiative, those filing the petition would vote “Yes”, while in a referendum, those filing the petition would vote “No”.  A proposal is anything that goes before the people for a vote, including referenda, initiatives, constitutional amendments, etc.)

I have no issue with voting “Yes” on Proposal 1, and unless you are opposed to the hunting of wolves, you likely will not either.  But Proposal 2 is where it gets a bit trickier.  After Keep Michigan Wolves Protected got Public Act 520 on the ballot as a referendum, the Legislature decided to pass another law, in case the referendum was successful; thus, Senate Bill 288 was passed, and Governor Snyder signed it, making it Public Act 21 of 2013.  The act continued the designation of the wolf as a “game” animal (since the bill was passed before the Public Act 520 referendum was certified, Public Act 520 had not yet been suspended, but if Proposal 1 were to pass, then the wolf would no longer be designated as a game animal); granted the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) the power to designate animals as game animals, with some restrictions (however, it also stipulated that only the Legislature has the power to remove animals from the list of game animals); granted the NRC the ability to establish the first open season for any animal that it adds to the list of game animals; granted the eliminated the fee for hunting licenses for military personnel; and granted the NRC sole authority to regulate fishing.  Again, Keep Michigan Wolves Protected filed a petition, with sufficient signatures, to have a referendum on Public Act 21, so it is now on the ballot as Proposal 14-2.

Personally, I am not a fan of Public Act 21; I do not like the added authority that the Legislature gave to the NRC, and I do not feel that it is wise to allow the agency to have the power to designate animals as game animals and establish a hunting season for such animals without any legislative input.  I also question the wisdom of granting the NRC exclusive authority to regulate fishing.  If the story had ended here, I likely would’ve voted Yes on Proposal 1 and No on Proposal 2, but what happened next made the whole situation much more interesting.

A group of citizens in favor of hunting wolves, under the name Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management, successfully filed an initiative petition.  The proposal continued the designation of the wolf as a game animal; continued the grant to the NRC to designate animals as game animals and establish a first open season; continued the stipulation that the Legislature has the sole power to remove animals from the list of game animals; and appropriated $1,000,000 to the Department of Natural Resources to fight the invasion of Asian Carp.  The proposal also had a section that stipulated that if language from Public Act 520 or 21 was removed due to failure of either referenda, that language was reinstated by the initiative.  The Legislature adopted the initiative, meaning that it became law (Public Act 281 of 2014) without having to be signed by Governor Snyder.  So what makes the initiative so special?

The appropriation of money to the DNR means that, pursuant to Article 2, § 9 of the Michigan Constitution, the law cannot be subjected to a referendum petition.  (This specific issue was addressed in Michigan United Conservation Clubs v. Secretary of State, 464 Mich. 359 (2001), where the Michigan Supreme Court interpreted that any appropriation is an “appropriation” under this provision of the Constitution, which I agree with, even though the result is that the Legislature can make a law referendum-proof.)  In drafting the initiative, the drafters knew that adding the appropriation would make it referendum-proof, and in approving the initiative, the legislators knew that even though they had previously passed two bills to allow wolf hunting with pushback from voters, by passing this initiative, they would be making the act referendum-proof.  The inclusion of the appropriation was not simply a coincidence; the drafters, and the Legislature, knew what they were doing.  They knew that this was a hot-button issue that some (perhaps even many) voters opposed, yet they went forward and passed it in a way that would not allow a referendum on the issue.

I have no problem with the Legislature passing Public Act 21 after the petition for Public Act 520 was filed; if it wants to do so, that’s fine with me.  But what I do have a problem with is the Legislature passing an initiative with an appropriation provision in it solely to make that law referendum-proof.  To do so is disingenuous and out-of-line with the intent of the appropriations process.

So that gets us to where we are today: Proposal 1 and 2 are on the ballot, but even if the No voters win on both proposals, the result is still ultimately the same as if Yes were to win.  (It should be noted that a court could potentially overturn the initiative, but I see no legal grounds for that to happen, and I think the chances of that happening are next to none.  The voters could also push for a new initiative that would undo the last initiative, but that seems unlikely to be successful.)  But voting No on the proposals can still send a message.  Those opposed to wolf hunting overall should vote No on both, but those who respect the referendum process, regardless of their feelings on wolf hunting, should vote No on Proposal 2.

There has been a lot of confusion and dishonesty surrounding the proposals.  Contrary to what some Yes supporters say, these proposals have nothing to do with allowing hunters or citizens to kill nuisance wolves; nuisance wolves can already be killed under existing law.  Farmers can still kill wolves that threten their livestock (although allowing them to be hunted would decrease the wolf population and chance that their livestock would be threatened overall).  Those who say otherwise are not being honest.

So why do the proposals even matter?  Again, it is about making a statement that the Legislature should not abuse its appropriation power to remove the power of a referendum from the people.  Regardless of your feelings on wolf hunting, all Michiganders should support the ability of those opposed to wolf hunting to hold a referendum on legislation that allows for wolf hunting; furthermore, voting No on Proposal 2, because of the passage of Public Act 281, will not have any adverse effect on the existence of wolf hunting in Michigan.  For those reasons, I urge a No vote on at least Proposal 2.

For more information about voting in Tuesday’s election, please see below.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

MIGOP 1st District Vice-Chair Calls for “Purging” Gays from the GOP

April 1, 2013

Yesterday, a shockingly extreme blog post written by Michigan Republican’s 1st District Vice-Chair Mary Sears was posted on the Schoolcraft County Republican Party’s website by the site’s administrators.  The post is titled, “End Of The GOP?”, and its premise is, “For too long the GOP has misinterpreted the big tent idea of Ronald Regan [sic].”

UPDATE: Since yesterday, the site administrators have placed the following disclaimer: “The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. While every caution has been taken to provide our readers with most accurate information and honest analysis, please use your discretion before taking any decisions based on the information in this blog.”

Toward the end of the post, Sears writes, “How then can we as Christians stay in a party that adopts Homosexuality [sic] into the fabric of the tent. I say we cannot. Homosexuals make up less than one percent of the total population. They must prey on our children to increase their numbers. Why then, would we, as a party, entertain this perversion? We as a party should be purging this perversion and send them to a party with a much bigger tent. When we lose track of foundational principles we lose the very essence of our party. By throwing God under the bus we become nothing more than the poor Democrats who have lost their way and by doing so have lost their party.”

Let’s focus in on that middle sentence… “We as a party should be purging this perversion and send them to a party with a much bigger tent.”  We as a party should be purging homosexuals and sending them to the Democratic Party?  Does that strike anyone else as wrong?

Now let’s take a look at the Republican Party platform… you know, the one that was adopted by the Republican National Committee last year and represents what Republicans nationwide believe: “We embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity.”  And what was it that Ronald Reagan said?  Something like, “The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally, not a 20 percent traitor.”

Clearly Sears’ idea of purging gays from the party fits neither with Reagan’s ideology, nor the GOP’s platform.  And that’s fine if it’s her personal opinion, but this woman represents the 1st District Republican Committee.  If that wasn’t bad enough, the Schoolcraft County GOP administrators posted that post on their blog–with no disclaimer of any kind.  A county GOP committee endorsing district executive board member advocating the idea of purging people from the party based on one issue?  That seems extreme, to put it lightly.

It also seems counterproductive to one of the stated purposes of the County Committee in its bylaws, which is to “benefit the general welfare of the Republicans of Schoolcraft County”.  In 2010, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals accounted for 3% of the vote, and 29% identified as supporting Republican Congressmen.  In 2012, they accounted for 5% of the vote, and 22% identified as voting for Romney.  The County Committee’s goal is to benefit the party, yet they support “purging” a group of voters So we should purge a group that adds 1% of the vote to the GOP column?  And while 1% doesn’t sound like a lot, why would you willingly ostracize a group of people who are trying to help you?

It is one thing to defend traditional marriage–something that remains a part of the party’s platform.  It is an entirely different thing to call for “purging” gays from the party because they are a “perversion” in the minds of some.  Ms. Sears seems to have ignored the party platform clause that calls for “respect and dignity.”  Traditional values can be defended in a respectful and dignified way.

We as a party cannot afford to lose any voters, and I welcome any gay, lesbian, or bisexual voter who agrees with even 51% of the party platform (for that matter, I welcome anyone who is willing to vote for Republicans more often than Democrats).  And to any gays, lesbians, or bisexuals reading this, let me tell you that Ms. Sears and the Schoolcraft County GOP do does not speak for the Republican Party that I believe in and defend.  And that is why I believe it is so important to write what I am writing today.  The members of the GOP who are embarrassed and offended by the hatred coming from some in our party need to stand up for what is right and defend what is actually in the party platform–respect and dignity.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

UPDATE: When I wrote my original post, the SCRP’s blog had the header, “Published March 31, 2013 | By SCRP“. Since then, I have talked to the chairman of the SCRP who has informed me that while the post was posted by “SCRP” (they should probably create a “Guest” account to post unofficial blog posts), they post opinion pieces from many people, and blog posts do not represent the SCRP.  I have since edited this post by striking out anything that has been revealed to be inaccurate.  I still think the original post should have been taken down by the SCRP, as it blatantly violates the party platform, but the SCRP has put a disclaimer up and posted a copy of this blog post.

It’s time for RNC Committeeman Dave Agema to Step Down

March 30, 2013

It’s time for Dave Agema to resign. His response to my email was inadequate; he refuses to apologize, even when I pointed out to him multiple factual inaccuracies about what he posted (he never responded to the second e-mail). I won’t copy and paste his whole email, as I never asked him permission to do that, but I’ll summarize: he defended his post by saying that most of it was accurate, although he could not vouch for all of it, and that he had been contacted by someone else who confirmed this. I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t cut it. I didn’t ask him to apologize for everything he posted; I simply wanted him to apologize for anything inaccurate and for the fact that as our RNC Committeeman, he posted the article without fact checking it. In today’s realm of social media, a repost without a disclaimer is treated as en endorsement by many, and if an RNC Committeeman cannot understand that, it is bad for the party to keep him as our RNC Committeeman.

And from what I’ve seen, it’s pretty apparent that Agema doesn’t know what he’s doing when it comes to social media:

Agema Tweet

It’s one thing to make an honest mistake and then apologize for it.  The tweet of the Onion article is a funny gaffe, but it adds to the image of Republicans being out of touch old, white men.  And that doesn’t help our problem of being a party that seems unappealing to young voters.

But his Facebook post was more than a gaffe.  It was more than insensitive.  He passed the information along without a disclaimer, presenting what is OBJECTIVELY inaccurate as fact, and that is unacceptable.

For the sake of the MI GOP, he should resign or be removed from his position.

Response to Dave Agema’s Facebook Post on Homosexuality

March 28, 2013

Yesterday, Michigan’s RNC National Committeeman Dave Agema posted a copy of Dr. Frank Joseph’s online article “Everyone Should Know These Statistics on Homosexuals”.  The article uses studies done decades ago, most of which have been debunked by more recent studies; some of the other claims are just simply false.  This article does a good job of going through and detailing the false claims from the article.  At least 2 of the claims are easily debunked (and at that point, it doesn’t matter how many are false – if there’s at least one, then Agema should’ve put a disclaimer): (1) the APA still lists pedophilia in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders; (2) the claim that homosexuals are much more promiscuous than heterosexuals was debunked by a survey done by a dating web site.

After posting the article, media outlets began picking up the fact that Agema had posted it and began blasting him for posting a “Homophobic Facebook Post”; some Michigan GOP activists and precinct delegates have begun calling for Agema to resign.

Agema has said he will not resign and defended his post, saying, “Some publications, and even a few liberal Republicans, have chosen to take the words of someone else and cast them as my own…. I think the piece was worth sharing given the debate over gay marriage that is happening in the Supreme Court.”

He later sent out an email saying, “First, I didn’t write these words, I simply posted them. More importantly, I will not back down. I will dig in and fight even harder to defend our conservative values from these attacks by liberals in the media, and even in our own party.”

MI GOP Party Chairman Bobby Schostak has responded by saying, “Our party remains in support of traditional marriage, but that should never be allowed nor confused with any form of hate or discrimination toward anyone. Any statement or message in contrast undermines our party’s platform and our common sense conservative message.”

And I wholeheartedly agree with Chairman Schostak who has responded perfectly to this; ultimately Agema has a right to say what he wants to say, but he needs to keep in mind that when he speaks, many people will see it as speaking for the MI GOP as a whole, rather than just himself.

I have sent the following email to Committeeman Agema, and I would encourage fellow precinct delegates and party members to contact him with your thoughts:

Committeeman Agema,

I have seen news reports regarding your Facebook post about homosexuality, and they concern me.  I am not going to immediately join the groups calling for your resignation.  I think that such calls are premature.  Everyone makes mistakes, and I believe that you should be given time to correct yours.

That being said, what you did was grossly irresponsible as a RNC National Committeeman.  You have to realize that when you post things on social media sites, you do more than express your own views; you speak for the MI GOP.  You have defended your actions saying that you did not write the post; you merely posted something that someone else had written as part of a dialogue on the issue of homosexuality.  That excuse just does not cut it for me.  I disagree with those who have said those words were your own; they clearly were not; however, when you posted the article, you should have put such a disclaimer along with it.

The problem with what you posted is that that article is full of factually inaccurate statements (such as that pedophilia has been removed from the APA’s list of mental illnesses) and outdated studies.  Conservatives and the GOP will lose the public debate on such issues when the left can easily debunk the premises that our conclusions are founded upon.  How can our conclusions be taken seriously when the “facts” used to defend them are shown to be lies or outdated by decades?  They cannot.

Please do the right thing and come out and fully apologize for posting this article.  You are a party leader; it is unacceptable to pass along something as true when you could have so easily fact checked it to determine that these claims are not true.  To not do so not only does a disservice to your good name, but to the party’s image.

As I said, everybody makes mistakes, and while this was a big mistake, the party can move past it if you apologize.  But to react by simply making excuses is unacceptable.

I truly hope that you will take my words to heart and consider issuing an apology instead of excuses.  That is the best action for both you, and more importantly, for the party that you represent.

I’ll close by saying again, that I think calls for his resignation are premature.  If Agema says that he merely posted this as part of the debate on gay marriage, then I will take him at his word and believe that he does not agree with everything in the article; however, he needs to directly come out and say this.  This post was more than insensitive; it was objectively inaccurate, and inaccuracies such as this will only hurt the GOP image and message.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Chuck Hagel: The “Perfect Fit” for Secretary of Defense

December 31, 2012

One of the first ways I got involved with politics was being part of the Internet movement that supported former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) for President back in 2008.  Back then I ran the Michigan for Hagel 2008 blog and co-ran the Students for Hagel blog.  Once Hagel announced he wasn’t running, the group disbanded, but a few of the leaders of the movement have stayed in touch.  When rumors came out that President Obama was considering Hagel for Defense Secretary, we decided to come together and ensure that the smear campaign against Hagel wasn’t successful.

He has combat experience—having served in the Vietnam War as an infantry squad leader, he achieved the rank of Sergeant and was awarded multiple medals including two Purple Hearts.  After leaving the military, Hagel was dedicated to helping American troops and veterans.  He was appointed Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration, where he fought for funding for VA programs, and he served as president and CEO of the USO.

Hagel also had a successful career in the private sector, co-founding a cell phone manufacturing company and serving as CEO of American Information Systems.

In short, Hagel has the military and administrative experience needed to be America’s next Secretary of Defense.

And despite the arguments made by some, Hagel’s positions do generally fit with the Republican Party.

Yes, it is true that Hagel was critical of many of President George W. Bush’s policies, including the Iraq War, but much of his disagreement with the Bush Administration dealt with the lack of transparency.  Throughout his Senate career, Hagel fought for transparency in the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and encouraged open Congressional debate, rather than quick votes on such important issues.  Isn’t that at the heart of the Republican Party—encouraging open public debate instead of shady, quick votes to ram legislation through? Hagel captured this principle in saying, “To question your government is not unpatriotic—to not question your government is unpatriotic.” Considering that right now, the GOP is fighting for transparency on the issues of the conflict in Libya and Benghazi, doesn’t it make sense to support someone who fought for DoD transparency, from both a Republican President and a Democratic Senate?  The fact that Hagel’s fight for transparency transcended political boundaries is exactly the reason he’s perfect for the Department of Defense.  The Defense Secretary shouldn’t be loyal to a party; he should be loyal to American and her national security.  And Hagel has agreed with this, saying, “I took an oath of office to the Constitution, I didn’t take an oath of office to my party or my president.”

And labeling Hagel a liberal based on his Iraq policy is absurd.  Hagel’s plan for Iraq was different than both the mainstream Republican and Democratic plans at the time. Rather than withdraw as soon as possible or stay indefinitely, Hagel advocated for moving our troops out of the areas of civil war and to the borders. This would ensure that terrorists did not flee or enter the country, while leaving the Iraqis to resolve the inner conflicts, a job that they, not the U.S., were best suited for.

On the issue of Israel, he has defended “our continued commitment to Israel’s defense” and acknowledged the “special and historic bond” between the U.S. and Israel. At the same time, he realizes that peace with its neighbors is the best thing for Israel.

While acknowledging that the defense budget needs to be cut, Hagel has never come out in support of across-the-board sequestration cuts.  In fact, it was because of reckless Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives that we are facing such drastic across-the-board cuts.  The defense sequestration cuts would come about as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which was supported by 174 House Republicans and 28 Senate Republicans.  Passing such a bill to allow across-the-board cuts was reckless, and Hagel has never come out in support of sequestration; however, like many Republicans, he agrees that the Defense budget is bloated and should be cut where possible.

And Hagel supports continued sanctions against Iran and has never ruled out military action against Iran to prevent them from achieving nuclear capabilities.  But as a result of his experience in Vietnam, he realizes that we shouldn’t be putting our servicemen and women in harm’s way unless combat is absolutely necessary.  And that’s a good principle that the GOP should agree with.

Does Hagel agree with every single word in the Republican platform? No; but then again, who does? In fact, he had an 84% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union. Republicans could not ask for a better nominee for Secretary of Defense from a Democratic President, and instead of hounding Hagel for disagreements in the past, Republicans should rally around him as a defender of many conservative principles and causes.

Republicans can’t just oppose Hagel because they want to oppose the President.  It’s time to stop being the party of “No”.  Hagel is one of our own, and while he may lean more moderate, he’d make an excellent Secretary of Defense.  It would be a shame if his nomination or confirmation was destroyed because the GOP wants to oppose Obama.  There is no good reason the GOP should oppose someone like Hagel.

For those who would like to show their support for Chuck Hagel, I would encourage you to like the Facebook page that was started, and if you’re on Twitter, I would encourage you to use the hashtag #SupportHagel in your tweets on the subject.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Michigan Proposal 1 of 2012: The Emergency Manager Law

October 25, 2012

Back in 2008, I went through and analyzed each of the proposals, so I figured I would do that again.  And there’s no better place to start than Proposal 1.

To start off, here is the actual ballot language:

PROPOSAL 12-1

A REFERENDUM ON PUBLIC ACT 4 OF 2011 –

THE EMERGENCY MANAGER LAW

Public Act 4 of 2011 would:

  • Establish criteria to assess the financial condition of local government units, including school districts.
  • Authorize Governor to appoint an emergency manager (EM) upon state finding of a financial emergency, and allow the EM to act in place of local government officials.
  • Require EM to develop financial and operating plans, which may include modification or termination of contracts, reorganization of government, and determination of expenditures, services, and use of assets until the emergency is resolved.
  • Alternatively, authorize state-appointed review team to enter into a local government approved consent decree.
  • Should this law be approved?

YES ____

NO ____

Now, in 2008, I analyzed the whole text of the amendment, but since this is a referendum on an already-passed bill, I’m going to skip that, and go straight to my analysis.  A copy of the full text can be found here.

Emergency managers are not new to the state.  This is actually a bill that amends Public Act 72 of 1990.

There were two major criticisms of the original law:

  1. Emergency financial managers were put in when it was too late.
  2. Once they were put in, they could do too little.

So, the Legislature tried to remedy this.  They added more triggers for when an emergency could be declared, and they gave the managers more powers.

Two of the powers the managers were given were especially controversial: the ability to remove elected officials from the municipality, and the ability to change or void collective bargaining agreements that the municipality had entered into.

Unions especially hated the latter provision, and they characterized it as a means of union busting.  But ultimately, it was a necessary provision, because time and time again, in struggling school districts and municipalities, unions have refused to give concessions, even when keeping their current contracts means the municipality will go bankrupt (and then, ironically, they would not get paid at all).  It was the stubbornness of the unions that made the provision necessary.

The second criticism was that it removed citizens democratic rights to elect their municipality leaders.  Ultimately, this is not a Constitutional right guaranteed to the people of Michigan.  The ability to hold municipal elections is not a Constitutional provision, and the state can take this privilege away if it so chooses.

My criticism was unlike these two and had to do with the expansion of when an “emergency” took place.  It included a clause that essentially said that an emergency could be defined as when the state executive branch says it’s occurring, and I viewed this as an overstep by the executive branch (although it did have weak limited checks and balances).

So that was my reason for initially thinking I would vote, “No”.  But as I thought about it more, I realized that my opposition was the minority opposition, and if it failed, it would fail because of provisions that I thought were good.  And if the law failed, it probably wouldn’t be introduced again.  Ultimately, there is more good in the law than bad, and I believe that the Legislature can (and should) fix the law if it passes the referendum.  The problems in the law should be fixed in the Legislature, not at the ballot box, and that is why I am supporting Proposal 1.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Michigan Primary Prediction and Statistical Analysis

February 28, 2012

It’s been a while since I updated this, but I figured this would be fun.  I made my primary prediction for Michigan late last night and here’s the breakdown I went with:

Santorum – 40%
Romney – 39%
Paul – 11%
Gingrich – 9%
Others – 1%

Then today, I decided to look at the recent polls for Michigan.  The first poll I went with was starting on February 12, since anything before this wouldn’t factor in Santorum’s triple win in Missouri, Colorado, and Minnesota.  I made a scatter plot of Santorum – Romney:

I then added 2 trendlines. The first one (red) was a linear trendline which I knew wouldn’t be reflective of Santorum’s momentum recently. I plotted the second (green) second order polynomial trendline, which did a decent job at predicting his momentum, but I noticed that the relatively low lead he had right after his triple win was skewing the results a bit lower.  Those polls are so old that they don’t correctly account for what’s going on now with just a simple second order polynomial.  So I put in the third (purple) trendline, which was a third order polynomial.  This correctly factored in his slow start to gain momentum, but looks like it drastically overestimates it at the end.

So I thought, how can I better examine Santorum’s momentum.  I took out the polls right after Santorum’s triple-win, which I thought weren’t representative of the momentum he gained, then lost, and regained, and got this plot, with the red representing a linear trendline, and the green representing a second order polynomial:

This plot matched up almost perfectly with my predictions (which I wasn’t expecting it to turn out just like that), but I think accurately portrays the general momentum Santorum has had since his triple win.

Ultimately, gauging the momentum a candidate has is hard to do, but I think the second order polynomial in the second graph accurately portrays Santorum’s momentum.  Ultimately, both of these models could end up being wrong, and there’s no perfect algorithm to predict voters, but the results of my second model, I believe, accurately portray Santorum’s momentum, and cement my confidence that Santorum will have a close victory over Mitt Romney.

Done Predicting,

Ranting Republican

2011 Michigan Redistricting: Gerrymanderliscious

June 22, 2011

Well, it’s been quite a while since my last post, but I figured this topic is important enough to warrant a return to the blogging world (even if it’s a brief return).  The Michigan Legislature recently released their maps for the 2011 redistricting.  For reference, here are links to the current boundaries:

Now, those were created by the 2001 Legislature, which was controlled by Republicans, and signed into law under Republican Governor John Engler.

They’re not bad, and look pretty good.  This year, it seems as if the Republican members of the Legislature have gotten a little more ambitious, and a little more creative.  So let’s take a look at what they’ve proposed.  Here are links to PDFs of all 3 maps, and I’ve copied the images below, where I’ll analyze them:

This first map is the proposed Congressional districts:

And here’s a zoomed in image of the Metro-Detroit area:

I’ll admit – I cringed when I saw the 14th district, and the 11th district isn’t exactly pretty either.  They’ve got some awkward separations, like putting Farmington Hills in the 14th, but keeping Farmington in the 11th; putting Bloomfield Hills in the 11th, while placing Bloomfield Township in the 9th; Southfield Township is placed in the 9th, while Southfield City ends up in the 14th; Clawson is split up; and Rochester Hills is split up.

In an attempt to squeeze Democratic Congressmen Sander Levin and Gary Peters into the same district and force a primary between the two, saving the Republicans from losing a seat, the map has turned into something I like to call gerrymanderliscious.

But it gets even more creative as we move on to the Michigan Senate map:

And again, a zoomed in view of the Metro-Detroit area:

For the most part, this one isn’t too bad until you get to the Metro-Detroit area. District 1 is incredibly awkward, as is District 6. But the really weird ones are 14 and 25.  You can’t see it on my uploaded images, but if you view the original map at 100% zoom, you can see that Springfield Township and Waterford Township just barely overlap for the 14th to be contiguous.  As for the 25th district, I’m guessing they’ve just connected them along a strip of County Line Road, but I’m not positive.

So that brings us to the state House of Representatives:

And again, a zoomed in view of Metro-Detroit:

And a zoomed in view of Grand Rapids and the southwest corner of the state:

The House map isn’t too bad, other than more awkward county splits than I’m really comfortable with. The Grand Rapids area looks pretty decent, although 86 is a bit wacky. And Metro-Detroit looks pretty good with the exception of the 13th.

So, by far, my biggest complaints are with the Congressional map, but what was really sad was the Republicans claims that they had to draw the lines like that to abide by the Voting Rights Act, which mandates 2 majority minority districts for Michigan.  That’s just nonsense.  There are plenty of ways to draw the lines so that you have decent looking districts that obey the VRA.

Obviously Democrats Sander Levin and Gary Peters weren’t happy with the maps, but even Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson is unhappy with the map, because as of the current proposal, Oakland County, the second most populous county in Michigan, would be represented by people who all live outside of the county.

Now, gerrymandering can be a lot of fun; I enjoyed playing around and making this little beauty for Maryland:

Photobucket

But when it comes to ACTUALLY redistricting, our legislature shouldn’t be drawing crap like this for partisan gain. Doing so takes the focus off of the good things the Republicans have done in Michigan and tells voters, “We know you voted for us in 2010, but we don’t trust you for the next 10 years, so we’re gonna cheat to win.”

Am I advocating that the legislature adopts a plan where we have 14 districts and each one is competitive at a 50-50 level?  Absolutely not; that’d be ridiculous.  The GOP won in a landslide in 2010, so it’s expected that the maps will favor us, but there’s no need to mangle the maps the way they’ve done.  That’s just petty politics, and when the people of Michigan see that, it gives them a bad image of the party.

Monica Conyers Sentenced to 37 Months in Prison

March 11, 2010

Well, yesterday the city of Detroit finally received some well-deserved justice.  Former Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers (wife of the Congressman John Conyers), was sentenced to serve 37 months in a federal prison after she plead guilty to accepting bribes.

Her plea was for taking bribes to support a contract with Synagro, a sludge processing company; however, the trial of her former aide, Sam Riddle, also exposed a series of other payoffs.  Because of that,  U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn was going to increase Conyers’ sentence.  He had originally planned on 3 years, then wanted to move up to 4-5 years, but Conyers protested and claimed she was a victim of an overzealous media out to get her.  She wanted to take back her guilty plea, but the judge wouldn’t allow it.  Instead, he backed down on the sentencing and went back to 3 years (37 months).

Here is a video, courtesy of FOX 2 Detroit:

And when reporters went to talk to Conyers, again courtesy of FOX 2 Detroit:

Conyers absolutely deserved this (in fact, she probably deserved the full 5 years).  She plead guilty to the charge, and then when she saw that she as going to get a REAL punishment, she tried to back out of it.  If she wasn’t guilty, she never should have plead guilty the first time.  Detroit deserved some justice yesterday, and I am happy to see Monica Conyers going to jail.  Her crooked ways and the ways of those like her (Kwame Kilpatrick, for one) are purely disgusting, and not what Detroit needs.  Hopefully, this, along with the sentencing of Kwame Kilpatrick, mark the road to recovery for Detroit politics and an end to corruption in Detroit.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Mike Huckabee Endorses Mike Cox (R-MI) for Governor

March 3, 2010

Well, in an interesting move that I’m still trying to figure out, former Governor and Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee (R-AR) has endorsed Attorney General Mike Cox for Governor.  Here’s a copy of the press release that I received today.  I’ll give my analysis after the press release:

Mike Huckabee Endorses Mike Cox in 2010 Race for Governor

Huckabee: “Mike Cox best described as Michigan’s Pro-Life, Pro-gun conservative candidate for Governor”

     LIVONIA, MI— One of America’s most respected conservative leaders, former Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee today formally endorsed Mike Cox in the 2010 race for Governor.

     “Mike Cox is best described as Michigan’s Pro-Life, Pro-gun conservative candidate for Governor,” said Huckabee. “Mike is an innovative, strong leader who is not afraid to take a stand on an important issue. He is opposed to the runaway tax and spend policies we are seeing at the federal and state levels.”

     Cox’s message of less spending, lower taxes and reformed government has set him apart in Michigan’s race for Governor. Cox recently drew a crowd of 1,200 families, activists and community leaders to a Rally for Michigan’s Future in Oakland County and hundreds more last weekend to the Grand Opening of his campaign headquarters in Livonia.

     “Mike Huckabee is one of our nation’s most respected leaders,” said Cox. “Mike Huckabee continues to fight for more liberty and less government. I am proud to have his support and am honored he is standing beside me as we fight to bring jobs back to Michigan.”

     Cox announced Huckabee’s endorsement first today via social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, U-Stream and conservative bloggers across Michigan.

     Huckabee has been called an early frontrunner for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination scoring well in many polls including last November’s Gallup-USA Today poll. Mike Huckabee polled ahead of President Obama as recently as January 2010.

     “Mike Cox has also fought hard to protect Second Amendment rights in Michigan,” Huckabee continued. “I am proud to endorse Mike Cox for Governor of Michigan.”

     Cox is the only candidate for Governor to release a comprehensive 92 point plan to put Michigan back to work, including proposals to cut billions of dollars out of the state budget, cut taxes on job providers and families by $2 billion, make government more transparent, reform education, and revitalize our cities. The plan is available at www.mikecox2010.com. The Mike Cox 2010 Campaign also recently announced that it raised $1.8 million in 2009 – with roughly $1.5 million cash on hand. The funds came from over 2,500 individual donors – with roughly 1,000 of the contributors donating less than $100.

     For more information on Mike Cox’s campaign for Governor, please visit www.mikecox2010.com or call the campaign office today at 734-525-5035.

     About Gov. Mike Huckabee: Prior to his 2008 presidential campaign, Huckabee served as the 44th Governor of Arkansas from 1996-2007 and as the state’s lieutenant governor from 1993-1996. As a young adult, he served as a pastor and denominational leader. He became the youngest president ever of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, the largest denomination in Arkansas. Huckabee’s efforts to improve his own health have received national attention. He is the author of 6 books, the most recent being “Do the Right Thing,” which spent its first 7 weeks of release in the top ten of the New York Times Bestseller list. He is currently the host of the top rated weekend hit “HUCKABEE” on the Fox News Channel, and is heard three times daily across the nation on the “Huckabee Report.” Huckabee and his wife, Janet, live in North Little Rock, Arkansas. They have three grown children: John Mark, David and Sarah.

#30#

Alright, so my analysis… this honestly confused me when I saw it.  I’ve been wondering for the past few hours why a Presidential candidate would jump into the gubernatorial race here in Michigan.

One thing is for sure, this is by far the biggest endorsement that I can think of for any of the current gubernatorial candidates.  The announcement definitely gives Cox more momentum than he already had (which is quite a bit – he’s been battling Congressman Pete Hoekstra, with both of them leading the polls at one time or another).  But will it help him in the long run?

In the 2008 Presidential Primaries, Huckabee got 16.08% of the vote in Michigan, with Romney winning with 38.92%, and McCain coming in second with 29.68%.  Huckabee did worst in Cox’s area of the state, but better in central and western Michigan, so that might help Cox a little bit, by diversifying his support.  So, I’d say that the best endorsement to get would’ve been Romney’s but Huckabee is still a major player in the conservative movement, and as of now, polling well for 2012.

Now, another thing that I thought about was Huckabee’s stances on law and order issues.  One of the major problems I’ve always had with Huckabee (don’t get me wrong – I like the guy) has been his stances on law and order issues as governor.  He issued a lot of pardons and commutations as governor of Arkansas (most notably, the recent scandal with Maurice Clemons who shot and killed 4 police officers in 2009).  Being an Attorney General, I’m not sure if Huckabee’s endorsement is the best thing for Mike Cox’s law and order record, but I may be reading into this more than I should.

Huckabee’s endorsement will help Cox with social conservatives, a group that may be hesitant to vote for him because of his affair back in 2005, but I think most people have (rightfully) moved on from that issue.  But the pro-life movement in Michigan is very strong, and Huckabee’s endorsement will go a long way for Cox when it comes to social issues.  Then again, with the current emphasis on the economy, social issues probably won’t be the deciding factor in who voters do vote for (although in the Republican primary, it’ll be more of an issue than in the general election).

But the most interesting thing about this, and I’ve been wondering this all day, is why would a Presidential candidate endorse a gubernatorial candidate in a primary race?  There’s 3 answers that I think it could possibly be:

  1. Huckabee has given up running for President (at least for 2012), and is going to focus on his PAC and getting Republicans elected around the country.
  2. He’s gambling that Cox will end up winning, and will help him here in Michigan in 2012.
  3. Huckabee is already counting Michigan as lost to him in 2012, and isn’t afraid of losing a few potential delegates by angering non-Cox supporters.

Option 2 and 3 make the most sense to me.  I don’t think he’s given up on running, but I don’t think Huckabee can win Michigan in 2012 if Romney runs.  Romney’s biggest competition here in Michigan was McCain, and without McCain, I think Romney would’ve gotten close to, if not more than, 50% of the vote in 2008.

He may not be publicly saying it, but I don’t think he plans on winning Michigan.  My guess would be that he’s hoping Cox will bring in some supporters (and money) in 2012, so that can offset the voters that Huckabee may lose because he’s supporting Cox.

But no matter what the outcome is for Huckabee, this definitely gives Cox a decent boost for now.  Whether or not is does anything for him come August 3rd, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican


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