Saturday, March 31, 2007

Duncan Hunter visits Michigan

I was at the Duncan Hunter event in Troy last night. I'm still undecided, but this is a guy I can back if he gets some traction. His main issue is trade. He's the first presidential candidate since Pat Buchanan to run on trade as his main issue. Unlike Buchanan, Hunter has held elective office. Some of his platform and stances.

1. Fair trade. Stop cheating on trade and allowing the Chinese Government to sweep American products off the shelves. He stated that while the Chinese tax American goods (a double tax as American goods pay American taxes as well) coming into their country, they subsidize their good going to the US. He's going after Bush's Mexican trucks plan right now. Latest bill
2. Immigration reform. Build the fence and stop illegal immigration. Deport those who are illegally here and make them come in the right way. He also stated he would pardon Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compean Convicted for shooting an illegal immigrant/drug dealer.
3. Fairtax replacing income tax
4. Pro-life
5. Pro-2nd Amendment
6. Originalist judges

On foreign policy, Hunter supports peace through strength. He has a unique situation among politicians with Iraq, as his son served two tours there. Hunter himself was an Army Ranger in Vietnam.

He ended his speech early and took several questions. Impressively, he took everybody's question and understood the issues. Most candidates do not take questions. They time their speech so they have to leave immediately. Most of the questions are regarding immigration, border security, and trade. Those are going to be BIG in 2008.

In other news, there's a new congressional candidate for the 5th district based in Flint, Saginaw, and Bay City. Bill Kelly is taking on Dale Kildee. While it is a longshot race for Dr. Kelly, his populist views will fit the district well. You never know what can happen. Steve Stockman upset Jack Brooks in 1994.

I'm still undecided in 2008, but Hunter will be one of the candidates I will be considering. It was refresing for once to hear a candidate who was not afraid of questions from the audience.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Democrats - Tax utilities

Unfortunately, Andy Dillon is drinking some of the same kool-aid that Jennifer "Matt Millen of Governors" Granholm is drinking

House Speaker Andy Dillon's plan to help the state's budget crisis includes a tax on utilities, which could add roughly $500 million a year in revenue.

Dillon, a Redford Democrat in his first year running the state House, discussed the budget situation with reporters Thursday at the state Capitol. His plan, which is still developing, will be added to the mix of other proposals already pitched by Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Republican lawmakers.

Dillon said more details of the House plan would be available next week. He said a 2008 ballot proposal for a graduated income tax is among the possible budget solutions, although that may not address this year's or next year's problems.


Do democrats hate this state so much that they want to drive everyone out with the taxes and regulations? Here's a starting point for cuts - Dan Mulhern and his secretary - former congressional candidate Nancy Skinner.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Barack Obama - All style, no substance

The AP of all places is finally wondering what Barack "Vote Present" Obama's plan is.
The voices are growing louder asking the question: Is Barack Obama all style and little substance? The freshman Illinois senator began his campaign facing the perception that he lacks the experience to be president, especially compared to rivals with decades of work on foreign and domestic policy. So far, he's done little to challenge it. He's delivered no policy speeches and provided few details about how he would lead the country.

He has focused instead on motivating his impressive following with a call for unity and change in Washington. But along with the attention comes a hunger to hear more about what he's about.

What's the plan? What is your plan for this country? This isn't American Idol, son. If you are running for president, the LEAST you could do is tell the public what you plan to be doing.


At a union forum Tuesday, Obama sought to answer the questions, arguing that he has experience as a state legislator, community organizer and constitutional law professor


Let's look at his state legislature record. It shows him to be a gutless wonder. When the going gets tough at the top spot, is he going to sign "present" on the bills that come to his desk? Being a law professor and community organizer from Hyde Park is much different than being a chief executive. Chief executives need to be able to make real decisions. Obama has either shown an inability to make decisions, or has followed his Trotskyite mentor Saul Alinsky in taking the most left wing one possible. He's not tough enough for the job from a competency standpoint, and too leftist for the job by a mainstream values test.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Presidential Candidate in Michigan this Friday

I got this in an email. If I have time to make it, I will be there. I have not made a decision on who I am supporting, but Hunter is one candidate I am considering.

Conservative presidential Candidate Duncan Hunter will be visiting Michigan this coming Friday. Even if he's not the candidate you support, you should consider stopping by to meet him. Feel free to spread the world.

DUNCAN HUNTER is coming to Troy!

WHEN: Friday, March 30th, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

WHERE: Troy Community Center, 3179 Livernois Rd.

(North of Big Beaver, Room #402 – enter through North doors)

Rep. Hunter is a Vietnam Veteran, serving in the U.S. House since 1980. He's currently the Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee and served as Chairman for the past four years.

Rep. Hunter's support of pro-life and traditional marriage, fair trade, strict border enforcement and a strong national defense, will be real factors in our presidential primary.

Bring your questions and arrive early as seating is limited for this fun and informative evening with a great American and presidential candidate! Find out more at: www.GoHunter08.com .


"Meet a candidate you can say you agree with"

/ STRONG NATIONAL DEFENSE

/ ENFORCEABLE BORDERS

/ A TWO WAY STEET ON TRADE

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Is Mark Sanford going to run?

Those who read this know that there are two candidates I would immediately support for president if they decided to run. South Carolina Mark Sanford or Indiana Governor Mike Pence. They would bring much needed fiscal responsibilty to DC as I mentioned here and here. Mark Sanford walked the walk on spending, and there's now some smoke, if not a fire.

From The State (South Carolina)
SANFORD WATCH

A new feature tracking smoke signals about whether Gov. Mark Sanford will seek higher office in 2008

This past week:

• Ramesh Ponnuru had a piece in the conservative National Review about GOP White House hopeful John McCain that included this line about the still open Republican nomination: “A dark horse is Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina, a hero of the Right and a bit of a maverick in his own right.”

• Sanford’s office issued a news release on Monday calling on the House to adopt the ultrasound-before-abortion bill, the first time many Sanford observers could recall the governor getting involved in an abortion fight. It’s also rare for Sanford to throw his weight so publicly behind legislation not on his list of priorities.

• Residents of Hilton Head Island reported getting phone calls from a pollster asking questions about Sanford, who is barred from seeking a third term as governor, including whether they would vote for him.

Concerned Taxpayers Group PAC makes endorsements

From the Argus
The Concerned Taxpayers Group PAC, which advocates fiscal responsibility in education, was the first group out of the gate, making endorsements in the Brighton Area Schools, Howell Public Schools and Pinckney Community Schools board races.

Bill Johnston, head of the Livingston County-based group, said it is endorsing Irene Besancon and Greg Rassel for the two open seats in Brighton; Bill Harvey and Doug Moore for the two open seats in Howell; and Jason Reifschneider for the open seat in Pinckney. None of those candidates are incumbents.
(snip)
"These endorsed candidates know the needs of the students and the community," Johnston said. "They also have the ability to bring their school boards back to financial reality."


With the economy in the situation it is in, it is essential that good fiscally responsible individuals are elected to the school boards, as well as any other elected position. We're past the point of gimmicks and need some real solutions to the fiscal mismanagement at all levels of government.

One danger I see if the schools run high enough defecits is a state takeover. I do not want to see that. These candidates will do their best to prevent that from occuring in the long term.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Granholm's 2% Sales Tax - DEFEATED! (for now)

Senate Bill 0307
Liz Brater, Mark Schauer, Buzz Thomas, and Jennifer Granholm lost their bid to raise our taxes. By a 22-16 measure, the sales tax increase was DEFEATED due to the senate republicans, along with Glenn Anderson on the democrat side.

Here's the roll call.
Voting AYE:

Jim Barcia
Irma Clark-Coleman
Gilda Jacobs
Martha Scott
Ray Basham
Hansen Clarke
Dennis Olshove
Michael Switalski
Liz Brater
John Gleason
Michael Prusi
Buzz Thomas
Deb Cherry
Tupac Hunter
Mark Schauer
Gretchen Whitmer

Voting NAY:
Jason Allen
Alan Cropsey
Ron Jelinek
Bruce Patterson
Glenn Anderson
Valde Garcia
Roger Kahn
Randy Richardville
Patty Birkholz
Tom George
Wayne Kuipers
Alan Sanborn
Mike Bishop
Jud Gilbert
Michelle McManus
Tony Stamas
Cameron Brown
Bill Hardiman
John Pappageorge
Gerald Van Woerkom
Nancy Cassis
Mark Jansen

Time for Primary Reform

This was bound to happen. For a long time we've have Iowa and New Hampshire leading the way with the primaries. After that was some other early states with some importance - South Carolina, Oklahoma, Arizona, and sometimes Michigan. This did not set well with many states, especially California and Florida. Not surprisingly, state after state is frontloading their primaries to go around the same time as New Hampshire, with Nevada, Florida, and California leading the way. This is not good for the country as the nominee will be decided in February with the election in November. That means for 10 months, the nominees in both parties are going to beat the hell out of each other. That means we will have what amounts to a coronation due to early money, and that the media will have most of the power.

Now I do not support Iowa and New Hampshire leading the way each election. While both are pivotal states, not to mention that New Hampshire's politics (until recently) are generally not much different than my own, today's coronation of "winners" and the bandwagon solidifies most wins before it even starts. We are already hearing about "electable" candidates before we have had an election since people unfortunately listen to what the media says.

I have a proposal I'd like to see for the primary system. It's not perfect, but it is the best thing I can think of give or take a few changes in states. I'll call it a rotating regional primary system. This will end the frontloading, which I expect to go to all 50 states at one time if nothing is done.

Here's the proposal.

The first primary is for region 1 - 1st week of February. Another region has an election every two weeks. The drawbacks are larger states overshadowing smaller states, but there are enough difference within the states and regions to make things interesting with delegates. Candidates have shorter trips as well within the area near the primaries, resulting in less time on the plane/bus. Livingston County is only 3 hours from Cleveland and 4-6 hours from Chicago, South Bend, and Indianapolis depending on traffic if you change a few states in geographic regions. The regions I've placed are as follows. States can vary to some degree.

Northeast - Maine, Vermont, New Hampsire, Massachusetts, Connecticutt, Rhode Island - 6

Mid Atlantic - New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware - 4 (10)

Mid South - Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, DC, South Carolina - 5 (15)

Deep South/Florida - Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida - 5 (20)

Appalachia/Ozarks - West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma - 5 (25)

Southwest/Texas - Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada - 4 (29)

Pacific - California, Oregon, Washington St, Alaska, Hawaii (34)

Upper Rockies - Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming - 5 (39)

Upper Midwest - North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio - 6 (45)

Lower Midwest - Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana - 6 (51 - counting DC as a state for election purposes)

This is just an idea I'm tossing out there for discussion purposes, but I am concerned about primary frontloading, and don't see any real solutions in the future on this issue.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Buyouts. Short term gimmick, long term loss

The latest from Pinckney Schools: From the Argus


Officials in Pinckney Commu-nity Schools are proposing buyouts for teachers to retire early to address a projected $1.5 million budget deficit for the 2007-2008 school year.
The Pinckney Education Association teachers' union is surveying the interest of educators at the top of the district's salary scale in potential buyout packages.

The district would like to offer early re-tirement packages to at least eight teachers with at least 10 years of cumulative teaching experience, Superintendent Dan Danosky said.


"We'd like to have more, but we think it would be practical for us to do it if we have eight people who have interest," Danosky said. "Expenses are going up, with the little revenue coming in from the state."
If no teachers show interest in buyout packages, layoffs will become inevitable for the 2007-2008 school year, Danosky said.


This is an old gimmick which has been used for years. Personally, I never cared much for buyout packages. While it reduces costs short term, long term costs increase through pensions and medical, and there are less experienced teachers in the district. The new teachers brought in will be paid much more through the step increases (at least in many districts, not sure with Pinckney) down the line, and retirements and pensions will have to be paid as well.

I think there needs to be major structural reform among our local districts (as well as the state). Health Care, Retirements, Administration costs, Extra funding outside of taxes. I think considation needs to be looked at as well, reducing administration costs (I believe most Superintendents are overpaid).

Many bash the teacher unions on this. Many bash administrators. I disagree with that premis. The union reps are doing what they are hired to do, as do administrators. These are contractual matters. The board agrees and/or disagrees with the proposal. Contracts are two way streets. The buck stops with the board.

This is why our school board elections are so important. We need to make sure good people who understand finances, have backbones, and have strong leadership are elected. The days of 3% turnouts need to end.

Michigan to lose Congressional Seat?

This is bad news, particulary for the GOP and likely for Livingston County.

From the Free Press

Michigan is likely to lose one of its 15 seats in Congress after the 2010 U.S. census -- meaning the possibility of a little less clout in Washington, a little less attention from presidential candidates and the smallest delegation from Michigan in about 100 years, based on census numbers released today.

Even though the state's population grew by 1.6% over the last six years, it did so a lot more slowly than in states like Texas (13%), Arizona (20%) and Nevada (25%). That means reapportionment of the 435-member U.S. House will send seats from slow-growing or backsliding Northeast and Midwest states to the South and West.

"I don't think there's any chance of a turnaround, given the magnitude," Clark Bensen, whose Virginia-based firm Polidata researches population numbers for political clients, said Wednesday. "Unless Toyota moves into Detroit and takes over, you're going down."


Currently, this state has approx 660,000 people for each district (15). Assuming that the state population is reletively stagnant at 10 million and that we use a seat, that drops us to approx 715,000 per district - at 14 districts. That significantly reduces the influence of Livingston County. Where it hurts the GOP is that the seat lost will almost certainly be a GOP seat - probably Knollenberg or McCotter.

This is something that will be followed closely. On a similar note, the county profiles will also start to be updated again when the new precinct numbers are released by the state.

Last one to leave, please turn out the lights

This will be the lasting legacy of the Matt Millen of governors, Jennifer Granholm. We all know people who are leaving the state. Now the numbers are showing up in the population estimates. No jobs means people are going where there are jobs. Over 1/2 of the counties here have lost population with Wayne County leading the way.

From Booth News Service/Ann Arbor Naws

WASHINGTON -- Half of Michigan's counties lost population between 2005 and 2006, leading to a decline of about 5,200 people statewide, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released today.

The loss is due in part to Michigan's troubled economy, population experts say: More Michigan residents went looking for new jobs in other states than came looking for work in Michigan.

"It's a rough patch, there's no question about it," said William Frey, a demographer and professor at the University of Michigan Population Studies Center. "The biggest impact is that you're not attracting new migrants to Michigan. The cumulative effect of the difficult news (about Michigan) gets planted in people's brains. It kind of creates a stigma for moving there."

Although there were 125,014 births compared with 88,987 deaths statewide between 2005 and 2006, it wasn't enough to make up for out-migration.

Michigan's decline reverses a trend of small annual population increases for most of the last six years. Between 2000 and 2006, Michigan's population grew by 157,163 people or 1.6 percent. Fifty-six of the state's 83 counties saw their populations grow during that period.

And while Michigan did see a net increase in immigrants from other countries (22,803) between 2005 and 2006, people leaving for other states resulted in a net decline of 65,123 people.


Livingston County did grow by 1.7%. That was surprising consider the number of for sale signs I've seen.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"Peaceful" individuals vandalize Mike Rogers' Office

As someone who has seen some of these "peace" protestors in action, I can not say that I am surprised by this. From the Lansing State Journal.

Vandals struck U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers’ Lansing offices Monday night, slopping red paint on the building, spray-painting slogans on the sidewalk and gluing the front door lock shut.

Large globs of red paint covered a sign on the front of the building displaying the congressman’s name. A “Support our Troops” sign also was hit with red paint.

A poster pasted to a window facing Michigan Avenue read, “Rogers: There is blood on your hands.”

Rogers’ press secretary, Sylvia Warner, said it was the work of an aggressive and threatening group.

“It would almost be sophomoric, if it weren’t so threatening,” Warner said

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Ann Arbor - Howell Commuter rail - Detroit People Mover Part II???

Today's Argus has a story about the light rail proposal for this county.


A project to bring commuter rail service between Livingston and Washtenaw counties is gaining steam, with business, local governments and the state getting on board.
A public-private partnership submitted a $1 million grant application to the federal government March 1, and Mike Bagwell, president and CEO of Great Lakes Central Railroad, said that money will determine whether the project can go forward or will stop dead in its tracks.

"It all hinges on the grant," he said. "Unfortunately, there's not much we can do to speed it up."

The grant application includes letters of support from state Sen. Valde Garcia, R-Marion Township; state Reps. Chris Ward, R-Brighton, and Joe Hune, R-Hamburg Township; U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton; and the Brighton and Howell chambers of commerce.
Washtenaw County's Northfield Township board and the Howell City Council also approved resolutions of support.

Mike Cicchella, Northfield Township supervisor, said the University of Michigan had also committed to buy rail passes for 1,200 employees.

"The beauty of this whole thing is we've got public-private, cross-county, local, state and federal people supporting it," he said. "We're pushing as hard as we can ... we're still getting letters of support."

Officials said the goal is twofold — ease traffic congestion while U.S. 23 is under construction, and start up a permanent rail service that could stretch up to Traverse City.

The Michigan Department of Transportation has pledged some funds to upgrade the tracks. The plans right now call for the northern terminal to be at Eight Mile Road and U.S. 23, but Bagwell said the line could be extended to Howell relatively quickly.



I'm not completely against this, but I'm not sold on it for several reasons. Pro's and cons, assuming it expands to Howell. (It's worthless if it doesn't)

Pros
1. Less traffic on US 23 South of Whitmore Lake.
2. More environmental friendly than cars.


Cons
1. Costs. How much to build? How much to operate? How much charged to the consumer.
2. This isn't New York, Chicago, or Toronto. It's not even Detroit. Is there enough people in the area to use this? Washtenaw and Livingston Counties combined number under 500,000 people, and the population is spread out.
3. The Detroit People Mover is far from a success.
4. Parking. People would have to drive to the stations. Brighton is left out unless they drive (on US 23) to Whitmore Lake - 8 miles from Ann Arbor. For that much trouble, it's easier to drive. For me, and the stop is about 2 miles away from me, it's easier to drive.
5. Customers - While many, including myself, commute to Ann Arbor from the county, how many commute to Detroit, Oakland County, Flint, and Lansing? Livingston commuters travel in all directions. Secondly, I'm assuming more Ann Arbor commuters live in Pinckney, Hamburg, Brighton, Hartland, and South Lyon than elsewhere in the county. The proposed route covers only Hamburg. Brighton is left out, and that is a likely customer base.
6. US 23 traffic - If the main stop is in Whitmore Lake, the traffic problem from M-36 Northward is not even slowed.
7. Police presence required. Added costs.


Wildcards
1. Parking. Will there be enough?
2. Service - how quickly do the trains run
3. Expansion - Does the rail expand to Brighton? Hartland? Fenton? South Lyon? I can not see this succeeding at all if Brighton is not covered. That gets some people off US 23. Does this go to Oakland County? I've heard of proposals of a Detroit-Lansing link.
4. Private funding. How much?
5. How much public support is there for this?

Right now, I oppose this. I can be convinced to support this if it is not subsidized, and correctly planned. However, I'm not convinced that this is not the people mover pt II. Based on the population and how spread out it is, it will be a hard sell.

Candidate Mike Huckabee - fiscal conservative?

Considering his past support for tax increases, I'm suspicious.

From Forbes Magazine

Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee is paying a tax penalty - not the kind you get from the IRS.

During his 10 years as Arkansas governor, Huckabee supported numerous tax increases. Now that he's left office and is running for president, the Southern Baptist minister is struggling to convince fiscal conservatives - who wield significant sway in the GOP nomination race - that he can be trusted not to sin again.

Huckabee recently signed a no-tax pledge, but anti-tax activists remain wary of his claim to have reformed his ways.

The Club for Growth, which advocates limited government and lower taxes, has repeatedly criticized Huckabee since his formation in January of a presidential exploratory committee. It notes that as governor, Huckabee increased taxes on sales, gasoline, cigarettes and nursing homes.

"I'm glad to see he signed the pledge, but as a given matter what politicians have done is a better indicator than what they say they're going to do. His record clearly does not indicate a strong commitment to limited government," said Pat Toomey, president of the Club for Growth

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

More on the Parker v DC case (Second Amendment)

Gura and Possessky, The law firm for the successful appellants in the DC gun ban case posted all of the public documents pertaining to this case. They posted some background. This is a gold mine of information that all legal begals and 2nd Amendment advocates should read. All the legal briefs, letters, and decisions at both the District and Appellate level involved in this case are posted online at Gura and Possessky's web site.

My opinion of the NRA dropped dramaticly. Why? Well, I'll let Alan Gura explain one with the overview of the litigation.

(snip)
Before the court could rule in our case, the National Rifle Association sponsored a copycat lawsuit entitled Seegars v. Ashcroft (subsequently Gonzales), and immediately sought to have their lawsuit joined with ours. The NRA had tried to dissuade the filing of Parker. Having failed in that effort, they lobbied unsuccessfully to alter our litigation strategy. Seegars was designed to raise issues we had rejected in our case, in an attempt to have the courts avoid interpretation of the Second Amendment. Seegars counsel was an attorney who had been involved in the early stages of our case, but who was not retained to proceed with us much further.

It was not a coincidence that the NRA had failed to defend the Second Amendment rights of Washington, D.C. residents in court for over twenty-five years, but suddenly sponsored a copycat action immediately upon our having filed suit. We successfully defeated the NRA’s attempt to use Seegars as a vehicle to muscle in on our litigation. The District Court agreed with us that the behavior of Seegars counsel raised substantial ethical and attorney-client issues that would delay and complicate the litigation. Unfortunately, he was not disqualified from continuing to work on the Seegars matter as we had requested, and each case proceeded independently, on separate tracks before separate judges.

Meanwhile, the court excused the defendants in our case from compliance with their deadlines, allowing them generous extensions of time to file their pleadings, and allowed participation by various amici.

The NRA’s tactics in Seegars triggered the defendants in that case to raise substantial standing issues which were not raised by the defendants in our case, or their amici. Consequently, at oral argument in Parker, in October, 2003, the court asked the parties to submit additional briefing on the question of standing. However, during the course of the argument, the defendants’ attorney vowed that our clients would be prosecuted if they were to break the law.
(snip)


The NRA's attorneys need to take a procedure course.

Congratulations to the Gura and Possessky firm on their excellent victory, and good luck to them in any future appeals of this case if it goes that far.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

NCAA betting pools soon to be legalized?

One thing that really chafes at my libertarian side is the laws against gambling here. Basicaly, all gambling outside of the casino or government run lottery is illegal unless you give government their cut (license). It's protection money against prosecution.

If you go to the casino, it is legal. If you buy a lottery ticket, it is legal. If you go to Cleary's Pub and play keno, it's legal. If you are at a friendly poker game, you are a criminal. If you are involved in a Super Bowl wager - you are a criminal. If you are in an NCAA betting pool, you are a criminal. The penalty is $1000 fine and up to a year in the county lockup. Government can't get their cut that way...

The Argus has a story out about an attempt to decriminalize the NCAA betting pool. Personally, I'd go much further than that and legalize most gambling (even though I'm not a big gambler), but this is a good first step.

“What makes March Madness unique is that all kinds of people and sports fans of all levels fill out their brackets and enjoy the tournament,” Rep. Kim Meltzer, R-Clinton Township, said in a statement. “It’s a crime we consider that a crime, and I want to change it.”

Meltzer plans to introduce legislation that would decriminalize participation in an NCAA tournament office pool.

(snip)
Her proposal would exempt NCAA college basketball tournament brackets from the definition of gambling under Michigan law. The maximum allowable entry fee would be $20 and the pool could not exceed 100 people. The revenue from the pool could be divided only among its participants.

NCAA tournament office pools are increasingly popular in Michigan and elsewhere in the U.S. NCAA surveys suggest more than 10 percent of Americans participate in them.

A few years ago, the FBI estimated that more than $2.5 billion is wagered on the tournament each year. The vast majority of the wagering is outside of the legal Nevada sports books.


I'm not sure this will pass because all of the Chippewa and Detroit Casino interests, along with the Michigan Lottery will certainly oppose having to deal with this for competition, even though a large number of people break the law on this anyway. I hope it passes. We have too much government in this state, and this is one major example of it. This is a good first step at repealing stupid laws. I'd go further, but I'll take what I can get. Kudo's to Kim Meltzer (R - Macomb County) for a good first start.

Concerned Taxpayers Group featured in Argus

Dan Meisler wrote a good feature on Bill Johnston, the founder of the Concerned Taxpayers Group. I encourage everyone to read the full article.From the Argus

Activist sticks up for taxpayers
By Dan Meisler
DAILY PRESS & ARGUS

Bill Johnston says he has been a political conservative his whole life — "That's the way I was raised."
But when Livingston County's five main school districts proposed a countywide millage in 2005, Johnston took the next step and formed a political action committee called the Concerned Taxpayers of Livingston County.

"That pushed us over the cliff. We had to defeat it," Johnston said. "It wasn't going to accomplish anything for the kids."

The millage failed, and the Concerned Taxpayers gathered about 120 supporters.
"There was a definite need" for a group like his, said Johnston, 66. "I am really surprised at how easy it is to accomplish something — a little bit of patience and not offending people is all you need."


It was a 2-1 victory, and we were outspent 4-1. A small correction is that the PAC wasn't involved in the millage which uses a different committee (ballot question). Times are tough in this economy and have been for a while. All units of government need to live within their means, just like the rest of us.

The PAC was formed the next year, so we can make sure our school boards are fiscally responsible. The Concerned Taxpayers Group will be conducting interviews soon, and endorsments decisions, if any should be out soon afterward.

When Johnston started scaling back his workload, he had more time for political endeavors. He said he's worked for Republican presidential candidates going back to Bob Dole, but at heart considers himself more of a Libertarian — "smaller government, lower taxes, protecting rights."

But he said he backs Republican candidates because Libertarians don't have the support to win many elections.


I'd like to see more of the republicans get back to smaller government, lower taxes, and protecting rights. That's another article.

Friday, March 09, 2007

DC Gun Ban Unconstitutional - Second Amendment Victory in Washington D.C.!!!!

UPDATE - My mistake. Griffith was GW Bush appointee. Henderson was GHWB appointee.

Big news out of the US Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit. Drudge Report has the PDF file on it.

Thumbs up for the attorneys on a big victory. Alan Gura in arguements and Robert A. Levy and Clark M. Neily, III on the briefs.

The following AG's or their office Supported us. Let's remember that election time. Mike Cox in particular came through for gun owners once again.

Greg Abbott, Attorney General, Attorney General’s Office
of State of Texas, R. Ted Cruz, Solicitor General, Troy King,
Attorney General, Attorney General’s Office of State of
Alabama, Mike Beebe, Attorney General, Attorney General’s
Office of the State of Arkansas, John W. Suthers, Attorney
General, Attorney General’s Office of the State of Colorado,
Charles J. Crist, Jr., Attorney General, Attorney General’s
Office of the State of Florida, Thurbert E. Baker, Attorney
General, Attorney General’s Office of the State of Georgia,
Michael A. Cox, Attorney General, Attorney General’s Office of
the State of Michigan
, Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Attorney
General’s Office of the State of Minnesota, Jon Bruning,
Attorney General, Attorney General’s Office of the State of
Nebraska, Wayne Stenehjem, Attorney General, Attorney
General’s Office of the State of North Dakota, Jim Petro,
Attorney General, Attorney General’s Office of the State of
Ohio, Mark L. Shurtleff, Attorney General, Attorney General’s
Office of the State of Utah, and Patrick J. Crank, Attorney
General, Attorney General’s Office of the State of Wyoming,
were on the brief for amici curiae States of Texas, et. al. in
support of appellants.

Amicus briefs:
Second Amendment Foundation
Congress of Racial Equality
NRA
ACRU

For the other side:
Todd S. Kim, Solicitor General, Office of Attorney General
for the District of Columbia, argued the cause for appellees.
With him on the brief were Robert J. Spagnoletti, Attorney
General, Edward E. Schwab, Deputy Solicitor General, and Lutz
Alexander Prager, Assistant Attorney General.

Ernest McGill, pro se, was on the brief for amicus curiae
Ernest McGill in support of appellees.
Thomas F. Reilly, Attorney General, Attorney General’s
Office of Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Glenn S. Kaplan,
Assistant Attorney General, Lawrence G. Walden, Attorney
General, Attorney General’s Office of the State of Idaho, J.
Joseph Curran, Jr., Attorney General, Attorney General’s Office
of the State of Maryland, Zulima V. Farber, Attorney General,
Attorney General’s Office of the State of New Jersey, were on
the brief for amici curiae Commonwealth of Massachusetts, et
al. in support of appellees. John Hogrogian, Attorney,
Corporation Counsel's Office of City of New York, and Benna
R. Solomon, Attorney, Corporation Counsel of the City of
Chicago, entered appearances.
Andrew L. Frey, David M. Gossett, Danny Y. Chou, Deputy
City Attorney, Office of the City Attorney of the City and
County of San Francisco, and John A. Valentine, were on the
brief for amici curiae The Brady Center to Prevent Gun
Violence, et al. in support of appellees. Eric J. Mogilnicki
entered an appearance.


I have one question. How the hell can the AG for IDAHO argue for the DC gun ban. I hope 2a groups remember him and help the voters send him home for his opposition to freedom.

UPDATE - I found that Idaho's AG withdrew their brief awhile back.

Judges Laurence Silberman wrote the court's opinion, joined by Judge Thomas Griffith. The decision was from the "Individual Rights" model of the 2nd Amendment. It is a very well written opinion, throughly backed up with facts, original intent, and case law precident. Judge Karen Henderson dissented on two grouds, the "Collective Right" model and on the fact DC is not a state. Judge Silberman was a Reagan appointee. Judge Griffith was a George W Bush nominee. Judge Henderson was a George HW Bush appointee.

SILBERMAN, Senior Circuit Judge: Appellants contest the
district court’s dismissal of their complaint alleging that the
District of Columbia’s gun control laws violate their Second
Amendment rights. The court held that the Second Amendment
(“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a
free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall
not be infringed”) does not bestow any rights on individuals
except, perhaps, when an individual serves in an organized
militia such as today’s National Guard. We reverse.


This case may soon go to the Supreme Court, or it could be heard by a full panel of the DC Circuit. It is far from over, but it is a good step forward for freedom.

MESSA fight in Howell

One of the big underlying issues in the School Board elections in Howell is the labor contract. MESSA will be a contentious point. The latest from the Detroit News.

The union representing about 460 teachers in Howell Public Schools says negotiations with the district are at a crisis point.

"We are preparing to file an unfair labor practice complaint (with Michigan Employment Relations Commission) against the district for regressive bargaining, and we've applied to be on the MEA critical list," Doug Norton, president of the Howell Education Association, said Thursday.
(SNIP)
Negotiations have been at a standstill since the school board voted Feb. 12 to become policyholder for insurance benefits for teachers and support staff represented by the Michigan Education Association's insurance carrier MESSA


This will be followed closely and is probably issue #1 for Howell.

WSJ : High taxes lead businesses to flee the Wolverine State.

A sobering editorial from the Wall Street Journal. Moveonoutofmichigan.org This is the legacy of Jennifer Granholm, aka the Matt Millen of Governors.

Comerica Inc. was founded in 1849 in Detroit and the Detroit Tigers play in Comerica Park, but this week the bank holding company announced it is moving its headquarters to Dallas--where, it said, the bigger growth opportunities are. Consider it one more vote of confidence in the state the national expansion forgot, and especially in Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm's economic agenda.

Re-elected last year, Ms. Granholm recently rewarded the voters by announcing some $1 billion in new fees and tax increases. The plan would charge Michigan residents higher levies for almost every activity inside the state with a moving part. She would tax trucking, shopping, smoking, hunting, fishing, drinking beer and liquor, using a cell phone and, yes, even dying.

Her plan does complete the phase-out of the state's hated "single business tax," which the Tax Foundation has called one of the most anti-growth business taxes in the nation. She should have stopped right there. Instead the Governor wants to create a new corporate income tax as well as a new 2% excise tax on upwards of 100 business services. The net effect would be to raise Michigan's overall business tax burden. She'd also impose a 5% death tax on estates valued at more than $2 million--which is a sure way to encourage even more Michigan retirees to relocate to Florida.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Granholm's sin tax plan bad for small business

It flat out amazes me that anyone would continue to vote for the Matt Millen of governors. Granholm's tax crusade continues. Bars are next on her hit list. Last one to leave Michigan, please turn out the lights. I need to check out the recall laws.....

From the AP

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A pack-a-day-smoker in Michigan pays about $730 a year in state cigarette taxes.

Polish off a $22 bottle of vodka once every two weeks or so with some friends, and that costs roughly $65 in state liquor taxes each year — not counting the state's general sales tax, which would push the total closer to $100.

Michigan's liquor and cigarette taxes tend to be higher than those in many neighboring states, and the price tag soon could go up. Increases in those markups are part of Gov. Jennifer Granholm's plan to shake state government out of its ongoing financial doldrums.

(snip)

"When times are good, we don't mind sharing. But times aren't good," said Richard Smith, owner of Leo's Lounge in downtown Petoskey. "The cost of everything is up. Heat is up, insurance is up, gas is up. Adding this ... we would look at that as a slap in the face."

The Granholm plan to balance the state's books, unveiled last month, includes an increase to the liquor tax that could raise shelf prices by about 5 percent, adding roughly $1 to the cost of a $20 bottle. Beer and wine products have escaped the proposed tax hike.

The extra money from the so-called sin tax would be earmarked for the state's school aid fund. It could raise an additional $28 million for schools each year as the state tries to wiggle out of a budget deficit projected at more than $900 million for the fiscal year that began last October. The markup was last raised in 1993.

Some bars and restaurants could see the cost of their liquor licenses triple under Granholm's proposal. The last time those rates were raised was 1976.
(snip)

Granholm also has proposed raising the state's cigarette tax another nickel per package to $2.05, which would be the third-highest in the nation behind Rhode Island and New Jersey, based on rates from early 2006.

Granholm also wants to double the tax on smokeless tobacco and cigars. The new tobacco taxes combined could raise about $57 million a year.

Michigan's cigarette and other tobacco taxes most recently were raised in 2004.


How about some cuts. We can start with Dan Mulhern and his secretary's $80,000 salary.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Howell Schools: Case Closed

The Feds and AG Mike Cox are not going to prosecute.

"The material complained of was thoroughly and carefully reviewed by the FBI and this office. We have concluded that the material submitted, nor its inclusion as part of the schools required English curriculum constitutes a violation of federal law," the decision stated.


And on the state level, the decision on the Argus website.
Posted here

That ends the legal fight over this issue.

The Ann Coulter and Cleary University Controversy

As we all know, Ann Coulter is scheduled to be a speaker at Cleary University in Genoa Township on October 1. This is causing a controversy after her comments at the last CPAC convention. The controversial comment is as follows:

“I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, but it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word faggot, so I kinda of at an impasse, can’t really talk about Edwards, so I think I’ll just conclude and take your questions. Thank you.”


Ann Coulter is known for her blunt sense of humor, a more political version of Sam Kinison. She's somewhat like the Al Franken or Bill Maher of the right. Her schitck is writing blunt controversial columns and books pissing off the left, while making money as a speaker and book writer. That is what Ann Coulter is about. Every three months or so, she makes an outrageous statement that gets a lot of press. Then a book comes out around the same time.

Am I surprised by her statement? No. Do I agree with it? No. Am I offended by it? No. It is what I expect. At certain events, we should all know what to expect. I expect violence and one liners in a Bruce Willis movie. I expect bad football from the Matt Millen led Detroit Lions. I expect bad refereeing when watching Big Ten Basketball. I expect tax increases and poor leadership from the Matt Millen of governors, Jennifer Granholm. I expect controversy from an Ann Coulter speech.

So now she is scheduled to speak this October at Cleary University in Genoa Township. The democrat party is showing their "tolerance" for "diversity" by supporting censorship. From the Argus.

The Livingston County Democratic Party, meanwhile, will petition Cleary University to have Coulter cut from the series. If that fails, the local Democrats will protest, party Chairman Matt Evans said.
"We feel really strongly about this, and if they decide to go ahead with her, we'll be organizing protests. This is ridiculous," Evans said. "There is a perception due to the Klan activity that was out here so many years ago that this is just an area of white bigots, and we need to change that."


Matt, I thought you dems supported diversity. I thought you democrats supported free speech. I have no problem with a protest, but why are you people trying to shut her up? Where is the diversity of thought? Where is the tolerance of views that you don't agree with? More on that later.

As for the Klan comment, that's crap. Robert Miles has been dead for almost 20 years. The only reason that keeps being brought up is due to white guilt and leftists who always need to throw that out there. This is the fastest growing county in the state. Activity from 20 years+ ago doesn't really matter anymore.

Cleary University is like most universities. They invite speakers, and some of them controversial. Kwame Kilpatrick is one of the more well known speakers they had there. At Michigan State, there were several speakers from both the left and the right. Jesse Jackson, David Horowitz, Tom Tancredo. Western Michigan had Pat Buchanan.

Lastly, truth be told, the left has as much tolerance for free speech as they do for the 2nd Amendment. Very little.

At MSU, when Tancredo spoke, the "tolerant" left showed their support for "diversity" when they pulled firearms and disrupted the speech. Bill O'Reilly has a good videoclip. Here and also viewed there


At Western Michigan - Dan Flynn has the story about the left's tolerance of Pat Buchanan.

With the behavior of the "tolerant" left and their fascist wing, maybe we need some concealed pistol license holders ready on hand in case of emergency. Who knows to what lengths the left will resort to in their assault on diversity.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Morse : Howell Schools didn't break law

From the Argus

Morse: Books don’t break law

County Prosecutor David Morse has ruled that the books causing a controversy at Howell High School do not violate any state law.

He was asked to investigate several books by Vicki Fyke of the Livingston Organization for Values in Education last month. But in a letter to Fyke sent Monday, Morse said the teachers disseminating the books are exempt from laws against distribution of sexually explicit material to minors because the curriculum was approved by the Howell Public Schools Board of Education.

(snip)


I think Dave Morse and his staff handled this well. While the paper, which has a clear agenda on this, will give him hell for waiting a couple of weeks, I'm glad he and his staff took their time to research the facts and did not make a rash decision.

I didn't look at the school code since it would take too much time. Morse believed that the exception covered the law. He also covered the non-exemption and used a standard similar to the legal definition of pornography. He either read the statute different than I did, wanted to use that standard to gain a conviction if he prosecuted, or wanted to make sure it could survive a constitutional challenge. I do not know which. There is no legal case law on the state level that I saw defining "explicit matter." An attorney I know has the following saying to gun owners when there is a unclear law "Don't be a test case". It looked as Morse was cautious here and did not want Howell Schools and Livingston County to be a test case. I agree with him on his decision not to prosecute as I do not believe it would withstand a constitutional challenge. I'll take his word for it on the school code exemption as I was not sure of that and didn't have enough time to find out.

I have not read the federal statutes. If I have extra time, I will.

As for appropiateness of the books themselves for school curriculum - I believe some are and some are not. I do not believe "Bluest Eye" belongs as part of the curriculum. I don't have a problem with "Slaughterhouse 5". My own stance is somewhere in the middle between the LOVE Group and the School Board. My major problem is with the process involved in the approval. All the reviews are from "professionals" and from the ivory towers and there is not the checks and balances from the citizenry. If there was, I doubt we would have the controversey to begin with and we can get back to the meat and potatoes issues facing the schools - budgetary and financial concerns. I also think part of this was due to personal animosity between the Board/Admins and LOVE Group. If all sides got together and sat down and discussed these matters coming to an agreement, I don't think this would have been the media circus it turned out to be. A little leadership, especially by the school, would have gone a long way.

At worst, this was a good learning experience for law school.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

As Howell Schools Turn

The Feds are now investigating.

From the Argus
Allegations that Howell Public Schools teachers are violating pornography laws by assigning certain books to high school students have been referred to the FBI.
The office of U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Murphy III has sent the matter to the FBI, spokeswoman Gina Bilaya said, after receiving a letter from Vicki Fyke of the Livingston Organization for Values in Education, or LOVE.

Bilaya said it was a routine move; "We do it with all complaints," she said.

But she also said Fyke was right in assuming that federal prosecutor was taking the issue seriously.
"Absolutely," Bilaya said. "We're going to look into it."

She estimated it would take a couple of weeks or a month to finish the investigation.


An advocacy group is firing some warning shots Here

I haven't checked the Federal Statutes yet. Federal law is different than state law. There's a few things I'd have to look at to see if there's (in my own opinion) a federal case under that statute. A big hoopla is being mentioned about the FBI getting involved. That's a bunch of bluster for nothing. All that is being done is an investigation to see if there is a federal case or not. We want our prosecutors and US Attorneys to make informed decisions on matters, don't we? If there's no case under the law, then I have no objections to a dismissal.

Personally, I am concerned from a 10th amendment (the one everyone disregards due to abuse of the Commerce Clause) standpoint as this should be a state level issue. That's a whole other discussion however. Whether one thinks the law itself is badly written or whether the penalties are appropiate are another discussion as well.

As far as the state issue - there's also a misconception in the papers and elsewhere about state statute 722.675. The statute itself does not mention Obscene matter or Pornography. It mentions explicit material. That's a big difference and needs to be mentioned.

In the end on this legal matter, it doesn't matter what I think, what the public thinks, what the papers think, what the Love Group thinks, or what the School Board thinks. The big key is what the prosecutor thinks, and what the judges and jury - if any - think. This is now a question of law, not a question of policy.

Voters are clear - do not raise taxes

I just got back from Up North and find that I missed some major developments. The first is this interesting editorial from the Lansing State Journal.

First off - A warning shot is heard from the Lansing State Journal when it comes to tax increases. If you are tired of all these "retry" attempts, we can fix it by electing fiscally responsible school board members in all districts.

Voters in three mid-Michigan school districts Tuesday considered - and rejected - bond proposals.

We detect a substantial chill in the air when it comes to requests for tax increases. Other school districts looking to property tax plans best take a good long look at these results, and others in recent years, for guidance on how to appeal to voters.

Take Portland's request this week. The LSJ reported that the bond proposal was for $3.2 million to conduct roof replacements.


Roofs are hardly luxury items. And, as all homeowners know, they do finally wear out - no matter how well you attend to them.

Nevertheless, Portland voters rejected the plan by a nearly 2-1 margin. That's not just "no," but "No way!"

More troubling to advocates is the history behind this vote. Last May, Portland barely rejected a similar proposal. But later it was found that people living outside the school district had been given ballots.

This re-try, you would think, would have been close, too. But it wasn't.

Similarly, the votes in Fulton and Webberville this week were hardly of the razor-thin variety. The "no" was clear.

Last May, Okemos, Grand Ledge and Maple Valley also rejected bond measures