Saturday, January 31, 2009


This update focuses on education. Bill Ayers and comrades are using schools to promote socialism. Heterodox views are punished harshly on campus, as illustrated by a recent controversy involving Walter Block.

Phyllis Schlafly: 'Social Justice': Code Word for Anti-Americanism
Education Reporter: 'Social Justice' Education is Already Shaping America's Future
Bill Costello: Where the Education Gender Gap is Leading America
Bill Andersen: Leftist Faculty, Duke, and Campus Realities
Thomas DiLorenzo: Thought Policing 101
Karen Effrem: Evidence of Academic or Emotional Harm of Preschool Education or All-Day Kindergarten
Phyllis Schlafly: Some Change Is a Big Improvement

Learn more about education issues in Education Reporter.

Obama Screws Michigan

President Obama had dealt another blow to Michigan's economic prospects. With the "Big Three" automakers already on the verge of bankruptcy, Obama issued an executive order to allow states including California to regulate cars on the basis of their supposed contributions to global warming.

Elections and Consequences: UAW to get what they voted for, if not what they wanted
West Michigan auto suppliers, environmentalists have mixed reaction to Obama order on emissions

The regulations being pushed by the environmentalists in California would further damage the Big Three both absolutely and relative to foreign automakers. They will damage the economy as a whole, particularly in Michigan.

California, which is so broke that it is planning to start issuing "IOU's" to pay its bills, should not be regulating anything.

As RightMichigan points out, this is what Michiganders who voted for Obama voted for, if not what they wanted. House democrats previously unseated Michigan democrat John Dingell from his post leading the House Energy and Commerce Committee in favor of radical leftist Henry Waxman of California.

(In case anyone is wondering, this plan is not federalism, as the federal government is not giving up any power to regulate business.)

And this is all to support the fraud of global warming. (See this post for more information: The Truth About Global Warming.)

Tax Hike Plans

Local government officials are plotting future transportation taxes.

City, county officials propose new transit taxes, fare hikes

KALAMAZOO -- City and county leaders proposed a two-tiered tax plan Monday for public transit in Kalamazoo County while also recommending that bus fares be increased by 15 cents per trip.

Kalamazoo city taxpayers would pay 1 mill while county taxpayers outside of the city would pay 0.4 mills under the plan proposed by City Manager Kenneth Collard and County Administrator Peter Battani.

The fare hike from $1.35 per trip to $1.50 would be in place by May 1, according to the proposal.


The proposal calls for county voters, including those living in the city, to vote May 5 on a three-year, 0.4-mill levy that would pay for Care-A-Van and bus routes that extend beyond the city of Kalamazoo.

On Nov. 3, city voters would be asked to approve a three-year, 0.6-mill levy to fund Metro Transit.

Before the previous levies expired on Dec. 31, city taxpayers paid 1.38 mills while those in the rest of the county paid 0.38 mills.
This plan is more reasonable than the last one, but the politicians still try to get as much money out of the voters as they think they can. Why should folks in Augusta pay for bus routes they don't use? Why not let the free market provide bus service.

Battani said services would have to be cut drastically if voters do not approve both tax requests.

"If the community knew what was at stake here, they would support it," he said. "There's no question in my mind."
That's what they said last time, too.

Future Tax Hikes?
They Won't Take NO for an Answer
Tax Eaters Are Never Full
The bus routes have been saved
Ax the bus tax
Bus Tax: The Facts
Tax increase for busing?

George for Governor?

State Senator Tom George, who represents Kalamazoo County, is considering a run for governor.

Michigan state Senator Tom George explores run for Michigan governor's office
LANSING -- State Sen. Tom George said Monday that he'll form a campaign committee to explore a 2010 run for governor.

The 52-year-old Kalamazoo County Republican said his campaign would focus on the state's economy.

George, a medical doctor, was elected in 2002 to the Senate after serving one term in the state House. He has supported a statewide smoking ban and wants to require Medicaid recipients to lead healthier lifestyles in return for benefits. He heads the Senate Health Policy Committee and is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
George may lose some support amongst conservatives due to his support for Governor Granholm's sales tax increase, as well as his support for banning smoking and mandating the HPV drug Gardasil for teenage girls.

Self Defense?

From the Gazette.

Kalamazoo County police say self defense may have led to slaying of Cooper Township man

ALAMO TOWNSHIP -- Kalamazoo County police are investigating whether the fatal shooting of a 40-year-old man by a relative Thursday may have been a case of self-defense.

A witness to the shooting told police that John Millard Stafford Jr., of Cooper Township, was making threats and had forced his way into a house in the 6000 block of West C Avenue in Alamo Township before he was shot by a family member, said Capt. Mike Bowen of the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office.


Bowen said Stafford had arrived at the residence with an acquaintance, according to the witness, before he forced his way inside and was shot.

Pfizer Job Losses

Pfizer has announced that it will buy fellow pharmaceutical company Weyth. Along with this purchase, it will cut xxx jobs. It isn't known yet how many job losses there will be in Kalamazoo.

Pfizer: Future strong; But Wyeth purchase comes with job cuts, CEOs say
Pfizer-Wyeth merger to mean job cuts, manufacturing-plant closures

This follows the usual pattern for the company that was known as Upjohn. It merged with Pharmacia, then merged with Monsanto, then was bought by Pfizer. Each time there were significant job losses in Kalamazoo.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Right Agenda: Don't Support Obama

Recently a troubling meme has been echoed by a number of sources, not just in the mainstream media, but also on the right.

The line being peddled is roughly this: "Now is not the time to be partisan. In these troubled times, we cannot afford for Obama to fail. We must come together and support him and hope that he succeeds."

Thankfully, not all conservatives are buying this.

Pray Obama fails
Not all conservatives are singing O-Kumbaya

It's disappointing that it's even necessary to refute something like this.

Conservatives should support America. That means both supporting good policies and opposing bad ones. In the unlikely event that Obama proposes any good policies, we should support them. But supporting America means opposing bad policies.

What about unity? It might be nice if everyone agreed to support the right policies. Back in the real world, that's never going to happen. People disagree about what goals should be pursued. Even when people agree about goals, they disagree about what means should be used.

"Unity" is the same thing as "no dissent". Put that way, it sounds a lot more ominous.

Not only is supporting bad polices bad for the country, but it is also bad politically. Supporting bad policies makes you culpable for their outcomes. It makes it unfeasible to criticize them later. It makes it much more difficult to call for their repeal.

To win back power, Republicans can't just sit around waiting for democrats to screw up. Democrats are a lot better at holding on to power than Republicans are. Instead, Republicans must offer an alternative. They can do so by opposing bad policies and supporting good ones. If they can turn public sentiments against Obama's policies, they can score defensive political victories even without majorities in Congress.

For conservatives, the case is even more clear. Opposing Obama's bad policies is both a moral and political necessity.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


This update focuses on the culture war. Another anniversary of Roe v. Wade has passed, and pro-abortion fanatics are ever more intent on restricting freedom. America's holidays are also under attack.

Don Devine: Merry Newspeak Freedom
Phyllis Schlafly: We Must Educate Leaders To Be Conservatives
Warren Mass: Faith Triumphs Over Persecution
John Eidsmoe: The War on Christmas
James Fulford: The War Against Thanksgiving
Ron Paul: Restricting Freedoms and Choices

POLITICAL UPDATES are archived here.

The Weekly Standard on Detroit

The Weekly Standard magazine has an article profiling the city of Detroit. It's a must-read.

The City Where the Sirens Never Sleep

Detroit is dying. But, it is not dead yet.
by Matt Labash
12/29/2008, Volume 014, Issue 15

Perpetual Student

The Gazette profiles a perpetual student.

Twenty-seven degrees and counting: Kalamazoo man enjoys the 'freedom' of intellectual pursuits

KALAMAZOO -- You might say Michael Nicholson has a passion for learning.
The 67-year-old Kalamazoo retiree has amassed 27 college degrees since 1963, and he's not done yet.

He started with a bachelor's degree in religious education at William Tyndale College in Detroit. That led to a master's degree in theology at Dallas Theological Seminary.

Since then, he has earned two associate's degrees, 19 master's degrees, three specialist's degrees and one doctoral degree.

He's currently pursuing two master's degrees at Grand Valley State University, one in health administration and the other in special-education administration.

Nicholson has 10 master's degrees, a specialist's degree and a doctorate from Western Michigan University, which the registrar's office reported is the most degrees awarded to any one person in the school's history.
There is an interesting discussion in the comments. One person asks the obvious question.

Who's paying for all these degrees?
Learning is a fine hobby, but should you really get state-subsidized degrees if you never intend to use them? Particularly when they are in practical skills like administration. Why not just read books?

Perhaps some day this blog will beat his record.

Local News

Local news around Kalamazoo.

Kalamazoo County commissioners unlikely to ask voters to approve new jail millage in 2009 (Elections have consequences!)

GOP trails in efforts to attract minorities (What else is new? Why not attract blue-collar whites, who Republicans might have a chance of winning?)

Thousands appeal to Obama to stop abortion on 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade
Michigan drivers to pay for state transit bailout

Twenty-seven degrees and counting: Kalamazoo man enjoys the 'freedom' of intellectual pursuits

Obama Wants More Abortion

President Obama issued an executive order to increase government funding for abortion.

Obama reverses abortion aid ban

His campaign promise to reduce the number of abortions was a lie.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Impeach Obama!

It's time to impeach President Barack Obama.

Why now?

Well, Obama has promised to blatantly violate the constitution.

He has lamented that the Warren Court didn't do enough to implement "redistributive change".

As Obama sees it, the Warren Court failed to “break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution.” The judges instead clung to the hoary construction of the Constitution as “a charter of negative liberties” — one that says only what government “can’t do to you.” For Obama, economic justice demands the positive case: what government “must do on your behalf” (emphasis added).
Obama has pledged to implement unconstitutional gun control laws.

He has promised to sign the unconstitutional Freedom of Choice Act.

And that's just the beginning.

Time for impeachment!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bush Does Something Good

President Bush today commuted the sentences of Ramos and Compean, the Border Patrol agents who were imprisoned for shooting a Mexican drug dealer illegally crossing the border.

Bush cuts sentences of Ramos, Compean
Agents convicted of shooting smuggler will be released from prison March 20

Now, they should have been pardoned and it should have happened two years ago. But still, at least they are finally out of prison.

The WMU College Republicans called for this two years ago: Free Ramos and Compean!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Privileged Planet

The Privileged Planet by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards

The debate over the origin of the universe has been one of the most contentious cultural conflicts in recent times. Many scientists insist that the origin of the universe is entirely natural, there is no supernatural, and Earth and humanity are are insignificant and mediocre.

This flies in the face of the beliefs of many people. But it must be true... because it's science, isn't it?

The authors of The Privileged Planet argue that it isn't. The truth is that Earth is unique. While naturalist scientists have assumed that other planets were teeming with alien life, they have repeatedly been surprised to discover more and more restrictive conditions for the existence of life. Beyond this, Earth's position is not only favorable for life, but also for scientific discovery.

Gonzalez and Richards marshal evidence from astronomy, cosmology, physics, climatology, chemistry, and geology. While they cover far too much to list here, they make a very strong case for a "correlation between habitability and measurability".

They then discuss the philosophical implications of these discoveries. They show how the history of the Copernican Revolution has been greatly distorted into something that Copernicus never supported. They discuss what has come to be known as the Copernican Principle, the notion that Earth must be mediocre because most places are mediocre. This is an assumption, not a conclusion, and its predictions have repeatedly been falsified.

They also discuss the Anthropic Principle, which says that conditions necessary for an observer to exist will be observed by the observer. While true, this principle does nothing to explain why such conditions exist at all.

They show that the hopes of the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI), built upon some scientists faith in naturalism, have repeatedly been dashed. Instead, the evidence suggests that the universe has been "designed for discovery".

The book is written from the perspective of intelligent design, including an "old-Earth" timescale. One of the authors was denied tenure due to his views on intelligent design. It offers lots of interesting information and is well worth reading for those interested in its subject.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ordinance Repealed!

The "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" ordinance was repealed by the Kalamazoo City Commission! That's the good news. The bad news is that they want to pass a new "compromise" ordinance instead. One doubts that a compromise is possible on this issue. Since it was repealed, there will not be any public vote on the ordinance.


City repeals gay-rights ordinance; commissioners hope compromise can be found

KALAMAZOO -- The Kalamazoo City Commission voted unanimously Monday night to repeal its new anti-discrimination ordinance, stopping a citywide referendum on creating a protected class for gay, lesbian and transgender individuals.

Commissioners talked individually over the past week, saying Monday they hoped a cooling-off period would allow for talks to negotiate a middle ground.

Monday's vote means there will be no citywide referendum scheduled on whether to keep the ordinance that banned gender-orientation discrimination in city housing, public accommodations and employment.

But Mayor Bobby Hopewell said he expects another ordinance will be offered.


Kalamazoo's religious leaders also took opposing sides.

The Rev. Michael Brown, director of the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission, called the ordinance "polarizing" and confusing, while the Rev. Douglas Vernon, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church of Kalamazoo, said commissioners showed "courage and wisdom in passing this law."

Hopewell appointed Commissioners David Anderson, Stephanie Moore and Don Cooney to lead the new negotiations.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


This update focuses on the economy. America's economic troubles continue as government bailouts only make the situation worse.

Kurt Williamson: Socialism's Success
Michael Telzrow: Socialism's Broken Promises
William Jasper: Bailout Mania!
Charles Scaliger: Bernanke's Money Maneuvers
Gary North: When Trust Runs Out
Alex Newman: Auto Bailout: Lemon or Lemonade?
Ron Paul: Government and Fraud
Walter Williams: Counterfeiting versus Monetary Policy
Ron Paul: Economic Freedom or Socialist Intervention?
Charles Scaliger: Bretton Woods
Gary North: Oldsmobile Nation
Pat Buchanan: In Earmarks Lies Salvation?
Will Grigg: Sovietizing the Economy: The Final Phase
Charles Scaliger: Free-market Thinkers

See also:
The Recession Reader
The Bailout Reader


How did Kalamazoo County Commissioner Ann Niewenhuis thank the Republicans who helped get her elected?

Vice chairwoman survives challenge

KALAMAZOO -- Deb Buchholtz-Hiemstra narrowly survived a challenge from a fellow Republican Tuesday to retain her position as vice chairwoman of the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners.

Democrats, who hold a 9-8 board majority, had recruited newly elected Commissioner Ann Nieuwenhuis to replace Buchholtz-Hiemstra.

But their plan was foiled Tuesday when Democrats David Buskirk and Frank Thompson sided with Republicans to keep Buchholtz-Hiemstra.

Buskirk was unanimously chosen to be the board's chairman for a third straight year. This will also be Buchholtz-Hiemstra's third year as vice chairwoman.

The meeting, which grew heated in the debate over who would work alongside Buskirk, was the first session of the 2009-11 county board.

"I hope to be accepted by the board and not have this held against me,'' said Nieuwenhuis, of Comstock Township, afterward.

She said the Democrats recruited her to run for the position and that she didn't actively seek it.
So much for loyalty.

Democrat Jack Urban, who nominated Nieuwenhuis, said he was dissatisfied because he thinks the board hasn't moved quickly enough to create a new dental clinic or public defender's office.

"It has proceeded entirely too slow in the minds of many of us,'' Urban said.
Since when is dentistry a function of the county commission?

A public defender's office is just a way to make work for democrat trial lawyers, of course.

Local News

Local news in Kalamazoo.

Three from Kalamazoo attend new-judges seminar in Lansing

Backers of gay-rights ordinance mobilize

Vice chairwoman survives challenge

Voters may get final say in gay- rights ordinance

He's retired, but that doesn't mean Robert Snell will quit working

McGrew on That Ordinance

Lydia McGrew has an article in the Gazette about the "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" ordinance passed by the Kalamazoo city commission.


Anti-discrimination ordinance for Kalamazoo MI does not promote tolerance, it forces social change

When a Catholic Vermont innkeeper was asked to plan and host a civil union reception at his family-run inn for a lesbian couple, he did not refuse. He merely said that he would find it hard to put his heart into the work. But that was enough. He found himself facing a charge of discrimination filed with the state's human rights commission.

Elaine and Jon Huguenin, who own a photography business in New Mexico, were found guilty of discrimination and fined $6,000 by a state Human Rights Commission when they refused to photograph a lesbian "commitment ceremony."

In Philadelphia, the Boy Scouts of America found themselves out of a building. Their long-standing lease with the city for a nominal fee was revoked. Why? Because they do not have homosexual scout leaders, their policies violate the city's prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

These are not just isolated examples, nor are they misapplications of the law. Lawsuits and punishments are the intended results of such laws, and similar cases arise wherever they are enacted. Real people who are just trying to continue their ordinary lives are targeted, harassed, and harmed. And now our City Commission wants to bring this legislation to Kalamazoo.

"Non-discrimination" sounds good, but its real meaning in the context of sexual orientation and gender identity is clear: "Endorse our radical social agenda or face the consequences." This is not the language of tolerance but of force.

A successful petition drive has given the Kalamazoo City Commission a chance to think twice. Those who truly wish to promote harmony in our community will not try to force businessmen and organization leaders to violate their consciences. I urge the commissioners to reverse their ill-judged December amendment to the city's non-discrimination ordinance.

Lydia McGrew resides in Kalamazoo.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

WND Article on Kalamazoo Ordinance

WorldNetDaily has an article on the fight over the "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" ordinance passed by the Kalamazoo city commission.


Voters fight back against 'perceived gender' bias ban
Spring election expected on proposal to protect homosexuality

Pro-family organizations across the nation need to watch what is happening in Kalamazoo, Mich., where residents won the right to vote on a far-reaching "gender anti-discrimination" plan that effectively opens women's public showers to men, according to one leader.

Gary Glenn of the American Family Association of Michigan says the case is just one more step in an orchestrated effort by homosexuals to normalize their lifestyle nationwide.

A Kalamazoo ordinance adopted by city officials in December would have banned discrimination based on "a person's actual or perceived gender, including a person's self-image, appearance, expression, or behavior, whether or not that … is different from that traditionally associated with the person's sex at birth."

But the ordinance became the target of a successful petition effort by concerned residents who had only 20 days to collect at least 1,273 valid signatures to force the city either to repeal the ordinance or put it up for a vote.

According to City Clerk Scott Borling, more than enough signatures were submitted, so the ordinance's provisions were suspended immediately. A majority of the city council members said they would not support repeal, leaving a vote as the likely outcome, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette.


Read it all.

Education Freedom

An article in USA Today reports on the growth of homschooling in America. It is likely that the government estimate of 1.5 million homeschoolers is significantly low.

A blog post by Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, discusses the possible future of free-market education.

In California we're facing a severe budget deficit, and this will demand cuts in education among other things. I can imagine a future economy where everyone is home schooled over the Internet, and the average result is an improvement. With the Internet you could leverage the best teaching methods to the entire country. No one gets the bad teacher or the disruptive class. There are no bullies and no cliques.

Obviously you can see lots of problems with this approach. We assume that kids gain a lot from the social interaction of being in school. And of course personal attention from a teacher is important. But we have enough home schooled kids in the world to test that theory. My guess is that as long as home schooled kids have friends in the neighborhood, and siblings, they socialize just fine. The social skills can be learned on sports teams and at Girl Scouts. And I suspect a parent can give better personal attention than a teacher with 20 students.

Poor kids don't have computers and Internet connections. But subsidizing them would be far cheaper in taxes than sending them to school. And suddenly everyone would get the same quality of education.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

New Gun Law

A new law passed by the Michigan legislature goes into effect tomorrow. It eliminates "safety inspections" of handguns, but not registration. This column by Joel Fulton explains the law.


Guest column: Michigan gun law to change Wednesday

Beginning Wednesday, Michigan will no longer require a post-purchase safety inspection of handguns purchased. Currently, every time a handgun is purchased in Michigan, whether it is a commercial sale or a private sale between two individuals, the purchaser must take the pistol to their local police department and present it for "safety inspection." During these inspections, actual checks for safety really never took place. What was accomplished was that the make, model, caliber and serial number of the gun was registered to the purchaser. The Legislature has recognized the hypocrisy of this process and will now trust its citizens to send them the correct information regarding the handgun to be registered.

The process will work like this. After Wednesday, both the Michigan License to Purchase a Pistol and the Pistol Sales Record (the form used for handgun purchasers who possess a Michigan Concealed Pistol License) will become four-part forms rather than three-part forms. The Michigan License to Purchase a Pistol will change in color from green to yellow. When a handgun is purchased, the forms will be filled out as usual and the four forms will be utilized in the following manner: one part will be retained by the seller, one part will be retained by the purchaser, and two parts will be delivered to the purchaser's local police department. It will be the responsibility of the purchaser to make sure the two copies reach the police department. The purchaser may do this by hand delivering them or by sending them via first-class mail. The copy of the sales record retained by the purchaser must be kept and carried any time the purchaser is carrying or transporting the firearm for the first 30 days following the date of purchase of the firearm. If caught, failure to carry this copy of the sales record for this 30-day time period will result in a civil infraction of a $250 fine and disciplinary action from the county gun board.

This change in the law should convenience individuals who work long hours and are currently unable to purchase handguns because they have to use up a vacation day from work in order to fulfill the current requirement to have a handgun safety inspected in the first 10 days following purchase at their local police department. This is difficult because most local police departments do not accommodate the working hours of the average citizen. This new system will greatly convenience the law-abiding citizens of our state.

Saturday, January 03, 2009


This update focuses on government. Government is threatening freedom in the areas of civil liberties, health care, gun rights, and more.

Will Grigg: En Route to Military Rule
William Hoar: Bad Economics & Medicine
William Jasper: Asthma Sufferers Victimized by UN Ozone Madness
Phyllis Schlafly: Obama's Plan to Rejoin the World Community
William Jasper: Rooting for World Government
Phyllis Schlafly: Con Con Is a Terrible Idea
Gun Owners of America: End Of The Year Report
Phyllis Schlafly: "The Doctor Will See All of You Now"
Ron Paul: Gun Control: Protecting Terrorists and Despots
Robert Higgs: Let's Check Marx and Engels's List
Edwin Viera: Bedrock of the Constitution
Edward Rubenstien: The High Cost of Diversity—Due To Go Up Under Obama
William Hoar: Mental-health Parity's Poison Pill
William Jasper: Bush Pushes Foreign Aid, Despite Economic Woes
Laurence Vance: The Flat Tax Is Not Flat
Edwin Viera: Hazards for Habeas Corpus

POLITICAL UPDATES are archived here.

The Right Agenda: Fix the Primary System

It should be clear by now that the primary system for the 2008 election was a disaster.

States competing for influence pushed their primaries earlier and earlier. Some states awarded delegates proportionally, while others gave all delegates to the winner. In many cases, state parties wrote the rules to favor whichever particular candidate their leadership supported. The media devoted most coverage to the candidates that it declared "frontrunners", and ignored or scorned the rest. Exit polls revealed that a significant minority of voters in party primaries were democrats or independents. A significant number of voters also appeared to have no clue what the candidates actually stood for. For example, a fair number of McCain voters listed immigration restriction as their most important issue.

What can be done to fix these problems?

The primary schedule. The scheduling problem is admittedly difficult. States have pushed their primaries earlier and earlier because states that have early primaries have disproportionate influence on the selection of the nominee. This is because the media has created the notion of "momentum", in which a candidate who does well early supposedly is much more likely to win, even if only a tiny fraction of delegates have actually been selected. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, with candidates who don't win the first couple primaries being hounded about when they will drop out and dismissed as unviable.

The difficulty is compounded by the fact that it is state parties and/or governments that actually set the primary dates. They have no incentive to do what is in the "national interest". National parties can allocate delegates, but they cannot stop states from having early primaries. Only the federal government could do that, but that would be an unacceptable and unconstitutional inference in parties' internal business.

One proposal to "fix" the primary system is to create a single national primary. While this might be "fairer", it would be even less likely to choose good nominees than the current system. This is because in a national primary, the media would have more influence over public perceptions of the candidates, as they could not do as much retail campaigning per person. Such a system would also give establishment candidates with large early fundraising an advantage, since advertising would be relatively more important.

Another idea would be to leave the primaries spread out, but rotate the order in which the states go. This is probably the best schedule in theory, but it is unlikely to happen because Iowa, New Hampshire and other states wouldn't go along with it for the reasons mentioned above. A variation on this system that preserved the privileged status of Iowa and New Hampshire would be tolerable.

But as we shall see, the best solution to this problem involves not merely changing the schedule of the primaries, but changing their composition.

Party rules. Some states award delegates proportional the votes received by the candidates, others award all the delegates to the popular winner, and others are somewhere in between these two. Moreover, state party establishments in some states changed the rules at the last minute to benefit their favored candidates. In 2008, several states whose establishments favored Rudy Giuliani made their states winner-take-all. After Giuliani bombed out early, these rules ended up helping John McCain, who won most of the winner-take-all states while Mitt Romney won most of the proportional states.

It is probably unnecessary to attempt to impose uniformity in delegate allocation from the top down. It would be far better for the national party to simply require states to put their primary rules in place early, and not let them change them later on. The presidential primary rules should be finalized at least two years before the first primary is held. For the 2012 election cycle, that would mean by the end of 2009. This is before candidates have declared for office and it would the sort of last-minute shenanigans that happened in 2008. This would also benefit conservatives since party establishments tend to support more moderate establishment candidates than the grassroots does.

Establishment control. While the primary system may appear democratic on the surface, it is actually controlled by a fairly small elite. To see this, consider how the race for the nomination plays out. No candidate can hope to personally reach enough voters to win the nomination. They are largely dependent on media coverage and advertising. The media typically anoints a few candidates as 'frontrunners' who will get most of their attention. The others struggle to get noticed and when they are, it is usually with a dismissive comment that they have no chance of winning.

Polls are often used to justify this treatment. But early polls, months before most voters begin paying attention, simply reflect name recognition. This in turn is a reflection of previous media coverage. For example, in 2008 Rudy Giuliani led polls for months, but he only cracked double digits in one state in the actual primaries.

The other major factor in becoming a frontrunner is fundraising, particularly early fundraising. While candidates may eventually raise a fair amount from small-dollar contributors, their early fundraising usually comes from a relatively small number of large-dollar donors. These donors are particularly concentrated on Wall Street. The relative support for the bailouts of the banks and automakers amongst Republicans, despite the fact that the automakers employ a lot more people, reflects this influence.

Only twice since World War II has the establishment lock on the Republican presidential nomination been broken, in 1964 and 1980 (not counting 1984). Two other times conservatives came close, in 1976 and 1952, when the nomination was actually stolen.

Weakening the establishment hold on the Republican presidential nomination is inherently related to the issue of the composition of the primary electorate.

The primary electorate. Exit polls have revealed several facts about who voted in Republican primaries that ought to disturb conservatives. One is that a substantial minority of the voters in Republican primaries were self-identified democrats or independents. While we don't know the motives of all these voters, we do know that some portion of them intend to sabotage the process. In 2000 in Michigan, there was an organized effort to sabotage the Republican primary by voting for John McCain over George Bush.

The influence of these voters tends to select more moderate and less conservative nominees. This might be tolerable if such nominees had better chances of winning general elections. But the opposite is true. Nominees who run as conservatives consistently do better in November.

The other problem is that many voters seem quite uninformed about the candidates that they are voting on. A fair number of McCain voters cited immigration restriction as their top issue.

Both these problems can best be addressed by narrowing the pool of people who select the Republican presidential nominee. What is needed is a way to screen out most democrat infiltrators and also discourage the entirely uninformed voters. Actually, such mechanisms already exist in several states. There are caucuses, which require voters to actually show up to a meeting. There are conventions, which require being proactive enough to get appointed as a delegate and go to a meeting, possibly in another city. There are also closed primaries, which at least require that you take the trouble to identify with a party before the day of the election.

All these mechanisms, particularly the first two, would increase the influence of the grassroots of the Republican party, who are more likely to be active and informed about the candidates. This would help to nominate more conservative candidates, who are also more electable.

Adopting a caucus or convention would also do a lot to mitigate the primary scheduling problem. More informed voters would be less likely to swing en masse to whichever candidate had 'momentum', according to the media, after winning or doing 'better than expected' in one primary. This in turn would decrease the relative influence of early states over later states and so mitigate the rush to move primaries earlier and earlier.

Adopting a caucus or convention system is particularly necessary for the 2012 election cycle. In 2012, the democratic nomination is all but certain to be uncontested. If Republicans don't fix their nomination system, democrats will be free to sabotage it without missing any elections on their side.

The 2012 election may seem a long way off, but the best time to address this issue is now, when the new leadership of the Republican party is being elected. There are contested races for Michigan Republican Chairman and Republican National Chairman. Has anyone asked the candidates where they stand on this issue?

The Drums of Intolerance

A letter writer is upset with the petition to overturn the Kalamazoo "gay rights" ordinance.

Letters to the Editor

The letter is entitled "Banging the drums of intolerance".

The letter is ridiculous, of course. The "gay rights" movement is completely "intolerant" of anyone who disagrees with them. They are the ones who invade churches and harass supporters of traditional marriage.

But the letter raises an important question. Why is intolerance associated with drums? How about these alternate headlines:

Playing the piano of intolerance
Strumming the lute of intolerance
Tapping the triangle of intolerance
Piping the piccolo of intolerance

How about tolerance? Are there clashing cymbals of tolerance, or a tooting trombone of tolerance?

My church definitely needs to get some drums of intolerance.

Friday, January 02, 2009

VDARE Cites Me!

An interesting item from the blog:

From the VDARE Blog: Four out of Nineteen's not bad!

Our thanks to Conservative Digest Weekly, which has been nice enough to pick four of our articles to be included in the nineteen they list as Best Articles of 2008:

... is pleased with 4 out of 19 (21%) of Conservative Digest Weekly’s Best Article choice. This compares with’s two, and National Review’s zero. (As in 0 - that figures.)
Conservative Digest Weekly is the name of the blog that archives the Political Updates that also appear on this blog.

This author is pleased to finally be acknowledged as the ultimate authority on conservatism.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Petitions Filed to Stop Gay Rights Ordinance

Grassroots citizens opposed to the ordinance recently passed by the Kalamazoo City Commission to ban "discrimination" based on "sexual orientation" or "gender identity" have submitted signatures of Kalamazoo residents to stop the ordinance.

Petitions filed to stop expansion of protected-class status in Kalamazoo

About 1600 signatures were submitted. They still must be verified by the city clerk. At least 1273 valid signatures are needed.

If there are enough valid signatures, the ordinance will be suspended. The city commission will have to either repeal the ordinance or put it on the ballot for citizens to decide. As the initial ordinance was passed 7-0, the latter is likely.

This promises a major battle, as billionaire gay-rights activist Jon Stryker lives in Kalamazoo. An attempt to overturn a "domestic partner" benefits ordinance failed by a narrow 55-45 margin several years ago in Kalamazoo.