Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best of The Western Right: 2012

This blog was fairly busy this year, covering many topics. We had 190 posts this year. Many of the posts covered the 2012 election, particularly the 6th district congressional primary. Here are some of the best posts of 2012.

2012 Analysis: Michigan
2012 Analysis: Senate
2012 Analysis: Ballot Propositions
2012 Analysis: Kalamazoo
2012 Michigan General Election Preview (selective)
2012 Michigan General Election Preview (comprehensive)
2012 Michigan August Primary Preview (selective)
2012 Kalamazoo Primary Election Preview (comprehensive)

Right to Work is Right for Michigan
Ban "Gun Free Zones"
Bus Tax Never Dies
Right to Work Passed in Michigan
Tea Party Versus Establishment Senate Candidates
6th Circuit Disenfranchizes Voters
Shocker: Gazette Endorses Obama
Jeffrey Getting's Bad Math
Nullification by Thomas Woods
Is Mitt Romney Repeating Dick DeVos' Mistakes?
2016: Obama's America
2012 ACU Michigan Legislature Ratings
Fred Upton's Smear Campaign
The Complete Infidel's Guide to the Koran
Obama Lied, Mexicans Died
A Brief History of the WMU College Republicans
Michigan Redistricting: Court of Appeals

The Best of The Western Right: 2011
The Best of The Western Right: 2010
The Best of The Western Right: 2009
The Best of The Western Right: 2008
The Best of The Western Right: 2007
The Best of The Western Right: 2006

2012: The Year at Western

2012 was a busy year on campus, though more in terms of construction than politics.  Planning for the new medical school continued to progress.  The new Sangren Hall opened, along with an expanded Honors College and many road changes.  There was only a little political news on campus.

A professor converted his car to be electric.  Graduate assistants complained.

Western graduates found jobs--but not jobs that required college degrees.  The ominous Office of Sustainability replaced the former University Bookstore.

This blog surveyed the many changes to roads and parking on campus.  The Western Herald ceased publishing, going totally online.  The new Sangren Hall opened.

The Students for Life had an event on campus. The Students for Liberty featured Jack McHugh discussing ballot propositions.

Freedom of speech remains an issue on campus.  Governor Snyder appointed two new trustees, neither of whom are Republicans.  The University proposed a plan to tear down most of East Campus, while saving East Hall.

2013 is here, whether we wanted it or not.

2011: The Year at Western
2010: The year at Western
2009: The Year at Western
2008: The Year at Western
2007: The Year at Western
2006: The Year at Western

Conservative of the Year: Ted Cruz

2012 was a tough year for conservatives.  There were few victories, and our nominal leaders, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, gave precious little to cheer for in defeat.  The biggest conservative victory was Scott Walker's defeat of the recall attempt in Wisconsin.  Human Events honored him for this this year, but this blog already did so last year.

The path to conservative victory all too often lies in defeating the Republican establishment.  Nowhere was this clearer than in Texas, where a very solid and very impressive Tea Party conservative, Ted Cruz, defeated the candidate of the Texas Republican establishment, David Dewhurst.

Cruz united the national conservative movement behind his candidacy.  He fended off the vile attacks from Dewhurst and won 57% in the runoff.  Conservatives should expect big things from Cruz.  He is this blog's conservative of the year.

Previous winners (including retroactive):
2011: Scott Walker
2010: Jim DeMint
2009: Glenn Beck
2008: Sarah Palin
2007: Ron Paul
2006: Jerome Corsi
2005: Tom Tancredo
2004: John O'Neill
2003: Roy Moore
2002: John Ashcroft
2001: George W. Bush
2000: William Rehnquist

Friday, December 28, 2012

Jeff Getting Purges Political Rivals

Newly-elected democrat prosecutor Jeff Getting has wasted no time taking on the greatest threats to the citizens of Kalamazoo County.

Incoming Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting dismisses 2 veteran assistants, including election rival

He fired Assistant Prosecutor Scott Pierangeli, his Republican opponent, and Assistant Prosecutor Stuart Fenton.  What did Fenton do?
Fenton said he believes his work on Pierangeli’s campaign may have been a factor in Getting's decision not to retain him, and possibly also that Fenton played a role in Getting’s dismissal by Gregart in 1998.

Getting’s personnel file from the prosecutor’s office contains two memorandums authored by Fenton in 1998 in which he told Gregart and then-Assistant Prosecutor Joe Skocelas of an incident, also witnessed by a Kalamazoo Township Police detective, in Fenton’s office during which Getting became “visibly hostile, and shortly after that he unleashed a verbal tirade that one had to witness to believe.”

“He started yelling loudly, using repeated profanity in the hallway near the copy machine and my office, whereby anyone within the back part of the office could easily hear him.” Fenton wrote. “He lost complete control of himself.

“The substance of the tantrum was not to bother asking his ‘F--- opinion if we were going to ‘F--- argue with him; that he didn’t have the ‘F--- time, etc … It was easily the most professionally embarrassing situation I have witnessed since joining this office.”

Said Fenton on Thursday: “Because of his conduct that occurred with me where he lost his temper and his explosive temper came out, he was fired.
Wait a minute.  What was it that Getting said about his firing during the campaign?

Candidates for Kalamazoo County prosecutor differ on visions for the office
Getting says his departure had nothing to do with job performance and stemmed from disagreements he and Gregart had “about the goals of the office, the people that were being brought into the office and what people’s roles should be.”

“I was challenging him and the way he was leading the office and that resulted in my political appointment being withdrawn,” Getting said.
So basically Getting is a big stinking liar.  And now he's the most powerful person in Kalamazoo County.
Fenton also surmised that Getting's decision to jettison him and Pierangeli may stem from promises that Fenton said Getting made of “some position to some of the people that have been helping him on his campaign.”

“There were no current openings in our office, so he had to make some room for them,” Fenton said.
We will see if Getting appoints people with ties to his campaign or the local democrat party.

Previous: Jeffrey Getting's Bad Math

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Right to Work is Right for Michigan

The argument for Right to Work in Michigan isn't complicated, but unions and democrats have been putting out lots of misinformation, trying to confuse people.

The case for Right to Work is simple.  You should not be forced to join or pay dues to a union as a condition of employment.  Unions claim to support workers, but they want to fire workers who refuse to give them money.

Unions argue that they are providing a benefit to the workers, and that the workers who don't pay dues to the union are "free riders" who deserve to be coerced into paying them money.  But this argument is false.  First, the unions are free to set up non-exclusive agreements so that they only represent their members and not non-members.  But unions overwhelmingly refuse to set up this sort of agreement, choosing instead to coerce people who don't want to be in the union.  The people who don't want to join a union are 'captive passengers', not 'free riders'.

The second problem with this argument is that the union may not actually benefit the worker, or the benefit may not exceed the cost of membership.  Under the unions' argument, THEY decide unilaterally that they benefit the worker, rather than the worker deciding for himself what benefits or does not benefit him.

Unions also argue that mandatory union dues are no different from taxes.  But only government can collect taxes.  Are unions claiming to be units of government?  Effectively, that is what they are.  In any case, this argument does not provide any reason not to eliminate these taxes, which is what Right to Work does.

Some libertarians might argue that unions and employers should be free to agree to contracts that require union membership.  That argument would only be valid for private sector employers in a truly free labor market.  But virtually no employer would agree to such an arrangement.  The reason why they do is because of government coercion (banning firing strikers, requirement to negotiate in good faith, etc.) and union coercion (threats of violence, property destruction, and blocking access).  These government policies are mostly federal, which states can't change, but states can pass Right to Work laws.

Curiously, the left decries monopoly businesses, but is all for monopoly unions.  But unions basically businesses that sell negotiation services and related products.  They may not call themselves businesses, but they provide services in exchange for money, which is the essence of a business.

The economic effects of a monopoly (which in free-market terms, can only exist through government coercion) are well-known.  Monopolies lead to higher prices and worse service, since competition allows people to choose lower prices and better service and forces businesses to improve their services to stay in business.  Thus we would expect monopoly unions to give worse service at higher prices.  Conversely, if there were competition among unions, workers would get better service at lower prices.

Coercive unions are actually worse than monopoly businesses, since they not only restrict competition, but also force people to buy their product on the penalty of losing their job.  This coercive power makes them tempting targets for outside interests who seek to capture control of them for other purposes.  In the heyday of communism, many unions were controlled by communists.  Many unions have been controlled by organized crime.  Some union bosses use the unions for their personal benefit.  Many unions these days are controlled by left-wing activists who push politics unrelated to workers' interests.  These interests push employers and politicians to provide benefits to themselves, rather than the workers.  If workers sense that something is wrong in their union, they should be able to leave, not be forced to keep paying it money.

Thus workers should have nothing to fear from Right to Work. It not only benefits those workers who don't want to be part of unions, but it also benefits those workers who like and want to be members of unions. The people who don't benefit from Right to Work are union bosses who have to provide better, cheaper service to workers.

What economic effects should we expect from Right to Work?  Without coercive unions making unreasonable demands and enforcing inflexible work rules, we would expect businesses to benefit.  They would make larger profits, create more jobs, invent more new and better products, and ultimately expand the whole economy.  Union bosses will certainly suffer, and some overpaid union workers may not do as well, but workers as a whole will benefit from more jobs, growing demand for labor, and more accountable unions.

Indeed, we find that states with Right to Work laws have better economic growth and create more jobs.  But unions deride these jobs as low-paying and claim that Right to Work is a "right to work for less".

First of all, there is nothing wrong with a "right to work for less".  To the extent that unions do increase their members' wages, they do so by shutting out other workers who are willing to work for less.  Why should some workers benefit by discriminating against other workers?

Economic statistics need to be interpreted carefully.  Unions point out that states without Right to Work have higher wages than those with it.  Now this cannot prove that Right to Work caused this gap, since there are numerous factors that affect wages.  Indeed many southern (Right to Work) states have had higher poverty and more minorities before they had Right to Work.

Furthermore, such statistics fail to take cost of living into account. When wages are adjusted for cost of living, Right to Work states actually have higher wages than non-Right to Work states.

But the real measure of the effect of Right to Work on wages is what happens when a state switches from one policy to the other.  Oklahoma became a Right to Work state in 2001, and wages did not suffer.

Thus Right to Work is morally and economically the right policy for Michigan.

See also: The Economics of Labor Unions

Bolger on Concealed Carry

In his most recent newsletter, Speaker Jase Bolger explains the issues surrounded the Governor's veto of concealed carry reform.


Changes to Michigan's Concealed Carry Law Vetoed

Senate Bill 59 which was passed by the legislature was later vetoed by the Governor. The bill would have allowed Concealed Pistol License (CPL) holders who wished to take additional training the ability to carry a concealed weapon in the current Pistol Free Zones. It is currently legal to carry a weapon openly in those areas, however SB 59 would have eliminated open carry in those areas and allowed only concealed carry by specially trained license holders. Under the bill, an organization (like a school) wishing to remain gun free could declare itself so and post a notice of same; in that case licensed persons would not have violated gun laws but could have been asked to leave the premises and charged with trespassing if they refused. The same practice is in place today in many establishments.

According to the Governor's press release his veto was primarily based on what he feels is the bill’s failure to let designated public entities such as schools, day care centers and hospitals opt out of the new concealed carry provisions. He had urged that SB 59 be modified to more significantly restrict pistols in those zones by not only prohibiting open-carry in such places, but for allowing only concealed pistols to be carried if license holders receive additional training, subject to the right of the property owners to prohibit concealed carrying if they desire. Under the bill as passed, only private venues can opt out, as can college universities with constitutional autonomy.

Much of the debate surrounding this bill has come just as the horrific events of Newtown Connecticut unfolded last week. As the father of two children, I cannot begin to imagine the heartbreak and horror for those in Connecticut. The sad truth is that signing or vetoing Senate Bill 59 would have had no impact on that tragedy. With regard to this specific legislation, it is unfortunate a compromise was not reached that the governor could support, and I understand the governor exercising his authority. It also is unfortunate that this veto does not make Michigan citizens safer in gun-free zones. Neither the governor's approval nor his veto will stop evil from preying on innocent people. With this veto, however, open-carry still exists in schools, churches and other public areas, and we know that criminals do not respect gun-free zones. For these reasons, we will continue to work with the governor to best protect our law-abiding citizens' Second Amendment rights, as well as the safety and security of all of our citizens.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

GOP War on Christmas?

Last year, this blog covered the fact that many Republican politicians refuse to say "Merry Christmas" in their Christmas cards.

GOP Leaders: Merry Christmas Happy Holidays!
Christmastime for conservative activists brings lots of spam emails from GOP leaders in Michigan. These provide a curious sidebar in the "War on Christmas", the leftist effort to eliminate traditional symbols of Christmas as part of the broader culture war.

The chief symbol of the War on Christmas is the battle between the greetings "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays", with "Season's Greetings" making an occasional appearance. Of course, there wouldn't be "Holidays" without Christmas. The bizarre argument for using "Happy Holidays" is that some tiny fraction of the population would be offended by "Merry Christmas", so we must use a phrase that annoys far more people. (But they're the wrong people, so who cares are them?)

Two recent polls have shown that 69% and 77% of Americans prefer "Merry Christmas". The percentages of Republicans was 88% yet another poll.

Yet some Republican leaders have taken a cowardly stand with the forces of political correctness rather than the vast majority of the Republican base.
Here is this year's list.  Local Republicans seem to have gotten the message, unlike statewide Republicans.

Rick Snyder: "Happy Holidays"
Brian Calley: "Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays"
Bobby Schotak: "holiday season"
Saul Anuzis: "Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays"
Bill Scheutte: "Happy Holidays" (Christmas and Hanukkah both mentioned)
Ruth Johnson: "Happy Holidays"
Fred Upton: "Merry Christmas"
Jack Hoogendyk: "Merry Christmas"
Senator Tonya Schuitmaker: "Merry Christmas", "Holiday Season"
Rep. Margaret O'Brien: "Peace, Love, and Joy"
Speaker Jase Bolger: "Merry Christmas"
Kalamazoo GOP: "Merry Christmas"

Please post any additional data you have in the comments.

See also: WAR AGAINST CHRISTMAS 2012: The Eight Stages Of Christophobia

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hide Your Blueberries from the Indians

In the middle of a story about an "archaic" law banning adultery we find this gem.

Adultery a felony under 'archaic' law, a fact brought to light in case of fired Portage police sergeant
In fact, Klein said that in her 27 years in the county prosecutor’s office, there have been zero prosecutions under the statute.

“It’s just not done in this day and age,” Klein said. “… Those archaic and, possibly, unconstitutional statutes could still exist, but they’re something that’s not enforced.”


Other examples of out-of-date statutes still on the books, Klein said, include the felony an offender could face for “trampling blueberries in season” or “inciting Indians to riot.”

“There’s lots out there that aren’t going to be prosecuted because societal norms change and you have better statutes,” she said.
Wait, so is Klein saying that "trampling blueberries in season" and “inciting Indians to riot” are OK now?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ban "Gun Free Zones"

After the terrible shooting in Connecticut, the left immediately exploited the massacre to call for gun control.  They see every crime as an excuse to punish responsible gun owners and take away freedom.  Of course, the school already banned guns, and murder is illegal everywhere, but laws didn't stop the shooter.

There are lots of problems in the world with no good solutions, but this isn't one of them.  There is a simple policy change that could be implemented tomorrow that would nearly eliminate mass shootings.  It wouldn't cost any money and it wouldn't take away anyone's freedom.

The answer is to eliminate "gun free zones" and allow citizens to carry everywhere, without fear of prosecution.  John Lott reports the startling fact on mass killings:

Appearance on NPR: Sandy Hook Massacre Changes Gun Control Conversations
I'm just saying, you look around the world, at some point if it's just randomness, you know, and - you know, you would expect to see more than zero, right, in these cases, and the United States has only one case since 1950 where one of these multiple-victim public shootings, where more than three people have been killed, that's occurred in a place where guns were allowed.
There are two simple reasons for this.  One is that shooters pick locations where they can kill the most people, which means places where people are defenseless.  For example,
And I'll give you a simple example from this year. I mean any of the ones you point to from this year or past years are going to follow that, but look at the Colorado shooting that the governor is going to be coming on to talk about. You had seven movie theaters showing the Batman movie within a 20-minute drive of the killer's apartment.

Only one of those seven movie theaters posted a ban on concealed handguns. The killer didn't go to the movie theater that was closest to his home. There was one that was only 1.3 miles away. He didn't go to the largest one. In fact, one advertises itself quite openly as having the largest auditorium in the state of Colorado.

And you'd think if you wanted to go to one that would kill a lot of people, he'd go to the largest one on premiere night for the Batman movie. Instead, the one he went to was the only one that banned concealed handguns. And that happens time after time.
The second reason is that people who do try to commit mass shootings in locations that allow guns get shot or captured by citizens with guns.

Armed civilians really do capture, kill, stop mass shooters

Unfortunately, many people never learn no matter how much evidence there is.  Most states used to be "gun free zones" outside private property.  Many of these states have passed laws allowing concealed carry.  In every case, anti-gun folks howled about blood in the streets, but crime went down.  When the Supreme Court overturned Washington DC's gun ban, crime went down.  When Britain and Australia banned guns, crime went way up.

Israel has armed teachers and they eliminated terrorist shootings at schools.  Utah has allowed concealed carry in schools for years with no problems.

I laid out the same basic facts in 2007 after the Virginia Tech shooting.

End the Campus Gun Ban

But as Thomas Sowell writes, anti-gun folks never learn.

Invincible ignorance
If gun control zealots had any respect for facts, they would have discovered this long ago, because there have been too many factual studies over the years to leave any serious doubt about gun control laws being not merely futile but counterproductive.
The invincibly ignorant include Governor Snyder, who vetoed a bill that would have allowed people with concealed weapons permits to carry in previously prohibited locations if they received extra training.

Snyder vetoes concealed weapons bill; Bolger disappointed

The bill passed the state senate 27-11 and the house 68-41. All but one Republican (Matt Lori) and a few dems voted for it.

Between this and the gutting of the bill to repeal handgun licencing and registration (which he signed), we can officially conclude that Rick Snyder is anti-gun.

UPDATE: Coulter: We know how to stop school shootings

Saturday, December 15, 2012

New Kalamazoo GOP Leadership

Kalamazoo County Republican Party elects new officers, including David Worthams as chairperson

KALAMAZOO, MI – The Republican Party of Kalamazoo County elected new leaders at its executive committee meeting on Thursday night.

David Worthams, of Kalamazoo Township, was elected chairperson.

"I am excited about the opportunity to lead Kalamazoo County Republicans," Worthams said in a statement. "We have a chance to build our party and make it competitive in the 2014 elections. We will show our friends and our neighbors how important it is to elect candidates who will be good fiscal stewards of our community so that everyone can have a strong qualify of life and be able to make the American Dream come true."

Melanie Kurdys of Portage was elected vice-chairperson, Stan Runyon of Portage was elected treasurer and ... was elected secretary. The appointments are for two year terms.

Friday, December 14, 2012

How Right to Work Happened

Here are a few good articles on how right to work came to be in Michigan.

Insight: How Republicans engineered a blow to Michigan's powerful unions
Lawrence Reed: From long shot to victory
UAW chief admits some mistakes in pushing Prop 2 despite Snyder's warnings

Bushouse in the House

So, how's Oshtemo's new board doing?

Oshtemo Township board appoints former trustee David Bushouse to fill board vacancy
Coleman Lutz submitted a letter of resignation citing "unforeseeable circumstances" in his first month of service as an Oshtemo Township trustee. The board accepted his resignation at its Tuesday meeting.
Were the "unforeseeable circumstances" that he got elected by straight-ticket democrat voters despite having absolutely no campaign?

The board appointed former longtime trustee Dave Bushouse, who was defeated last month, to fill the vacancy.  There will be a special election in 2014.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Half Measures for Gun Rights

From the NRA:

Michigan: Bill Repealing Permit-to-Purchase Passes State Senate, Goes to House for Concurrence Vote
The amended version of HB 5225 has many incremental improvements for which gun owners across the state will benefit, including:
  • Streamlining private sales to allow people to apply for a purchase license at any law enforcement agency rather than those in the city or county of their residence
  • Repealing the prerequisite handgun safety test currently required to obtain a purchase license
  • Extending the time that a purchase license for private transfers is valid from ten days to thirty days
  • Repealing the requirement that local law enforcement agencies maintain paper copies of purchase licenses
So the state police, with the support of the governor, succeeded in cutting the heart out of this bill.  That is, to repeal the licencing and registration of handguns in Michigan.  This is similar to what happened in 2008, when the bill was stripped to only repeal the phony "safety inspection" requirement.  This issue needs to be hammered until the full bill finally passes.

Snyder Still Stalling
Snyder Stalling Gun Rights Bill?
Michigan House Repeals Handgun Registration
NRA Alert
Gun Bills in Michigan
New Gun Law
Ending Registration

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

East Campus Plan

Western has announced a plan for East Campus.  They will renovate East Hall and tear down North Hall, West Hall, and the Speech and Hearing Center.  This is probably for the best, though a little sad.

WMU's East Hall to undergo renovation for alumni center; 3 surrounding historic buildings to be demolished
WMU plans to renovate, raze historic buildings bittersweet to East Campus supporters
WMU students have mixed emotions about school's plan to renovate, raze buildings on East Campus

Preservationists are upset.  But nobody has ever come up with a practical plan to save East Campus, for reasons explained in an earlier article.

Poor East Campus

Bus Tax Never Dies

For years now, the county elites have been trying to raise taxes to fund a county bus system.  The Kalamazoo County Transportation Authority (KCTA) was established by the county commission with the power to put tax hikes on the ballot (conveniently shielding commissioners from having to vote for them).

This blog first covered the issue in May 2006, laying out the problems with government bus systems.  The tax hikers succeeded in convincing 53.4% of county voters to pass a countywide tax by focusing on the Car-a-van (now Metro Connect) service for disabled people.  In 2007, Western cut two bus routes, but when students complained, Western privatized the routes and saved 25%.  The 2006 tax hike was intended to transition to a permanent countywide bus system, but in 2008, voters rejected the tax, with 58% opposed.

After this setback, the tax-hikers had to come up with a new plan.  They went back to the city of Kalamazoo, which never met a tax it didn't like, to fund the bus system. An extension of the Car-a-van program was passed countywide in 2009.

The tax-hikers convinced local legislators to pass a bill allowing an authority to cover part of the county, rather than all.  The idea was to focus on the areas that actually use bus service, though many people in the proposed district still live miles from the nearest bus stop.  Presumably they also want the largest district they can get that will pass their tax hikes.  So far as this blog knows, the new district has not been finalized.

This time, the bus-taxers are putting a tax proposal, possibly an increase, on the ballot in May 2013.  This appears to be a renewal of the Car-a-van tax, although the article isn't clear on this.

Kalamazoo County Transit Authority will ask voters to approve tax request in May

Bus Tax Zone
More Bus Taxes
Taxes on the Ballot
Tax Hike Plans
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
Tax increase for busing?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Great Day!

Michigan is a right to work state!

Synder makes Michigan 24th right-to-work state

Meanwhile, a federal appeals court will force Illinois to allow concealed carry!

Appeals court overturns Illinois concealed carry law in gun rights victory

Texas Township Still Divided

Over the past few years, Texas Township was divided between Supervisor Dave Healy and the other six members of the township board.  In the August primary, voters delivered a mixed verdict, voting out Healy and three of the board members critical of him.

It seems that the rift has not healed now that the new board has taken office.

Texas Township Board votes 4-3 to limit when public comment is allowed at meetings
Supervisor Greg Pendowski, Clerk Linda Kerr, Treasurer Paul Cutting and Trustee Joyce Neubauer supported the motion, which was opposed by trustees Wendy Mazer, Jeff Vander Roest and Trish Roberts.
The first four were critics of Healy, the last three were supporters.
The board followed the same 4-3 split in approving Pendowski's recommendations for planning commission appointments.
Texas Township employees to get cost-of-living wage increase for 2013
Trustee Trish Roberts, who voted against the cost-of-living increase along with trustees Jeff Vander Roest and Wendy Mazer, questioned the cost to the township of the raises and requested more information on actual compensation, employee evaluations and what private companies are doing.
Don't Mess With Texas Township
Trouble in Texas

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Kalamazoo Election Spending

Fritz Klug has several articles in the Gazette looking at local election spending.  Local Republicans were outspent in most key races.

Prosecutor race was Kalamazoo County's most expensive in November election
Over $800,000 spent on ads for Jase Bolger and Bill Farmer in 10 days before Michigan House election
Congressman Fred Upton raises more than $4 million this campaign, more than double than any previous

Ann Coulter's Election Analysis

Ann Coulter has the best analysis of the 2012 election.  Her latest column is particularly brilliant and important.

America Nears El Tipping Pointo

Both that and an earlier column focus on demographics, particularly the democrats' strategy to undermine America by importing Third World immigrants.

Demography is destiny

Right to Work Passed in Michigan

The Michigan House and Senate passed Right to Work bills on Thursday.  The bills were very quickly introduced and passed, but there was obviously a lot of work and planning behind the scenes to make it happen.

Right-to-work bills pass in Lansing

Pressure has been building for right to work for a while.  Six years ago, it was only discussed in active conservative circles.  In 2008, house dems held a vote to ambush Republicans.  Republicans in safe districts voted for it, while the others voted against.  Following the Republican sweep in 2010, activists pushed the issue within the Republican party, and support for Right to Work became the default GOP position.

Rick Snyder dodged the issue, saying it was "not on his agenda".  I can't really blame him for not wanting a big Wisconsin-style fight disrupting his other priorities.  But pressure continued to build and issue continued to be discussed, even as bills had not been introduced.

The key factor was likely Proposal 2, where the unions disastrously overreached in their attempt to hijack the Michigan Constitution.  The Michigan Chamber of Commerce spent a lot of money defeating it.  The key to passing Right to Work has never been the legislature, it has been whether the Chamber was willing to put up the money to defend it on the ballot.  With the recent news that Dick DeVos and Ron Weiser, key GOP funders, were advocating for it, the answer now is yes.

The bill still has to be passed again, probably on Tuesday.  Unions have been engaged in their usual tricks of being as obnoxious as possible, yelling, storming meetings, and threatening violence.  Do they really think this works?  Old habits are hard to break, I guess.

A handful of Republicans in each chamber defected.

Rep. Pat Somerville of New Boston
Rep. Ken Goike of Ray Township
Rep. Anthony Forlini of Harrison Township
Rep. Ken Horn of Frankenmuth
Rep. Dale Zorn of Ida
Rep. Ed McBroom of Vulcan
Sen. Tom Casperson of Escanaba
Sen. Mike Green of Mayville
Sen. Mike Nofs of Jackson
Sen. Tory Rocca of Sterling Heights

Keep in mind that legislative leaders will often let members in tough districts defect when their votes are not needed.  The six reps are all in union-heavy areas (Downriver, Macomb, Macomb, Saginaw, Monroe, UP).  Horn is term-limited and likely running for state senate in 2014; the others were all elected to their second terms last month.

Casperson (UP) has a tough district and Green's (Bay, Huron, Lapeer) is somewhat tough, but he is also the leading gun rights advocate in the senate.  Similar excuses don't hold for Rocca (Macomb) and especially Nofs (Calhoun), both of whom saw significant improvements to their districts.  Rocca and Nofs both deserve to be primaried.  Leon Drolet should run against Rocca.  There isn't an obvious challenger for Nofs, but maybe Dick DeVos and Justin Amash could find someone.

Assuming the bill is finally passed, Governor Snyder has indicated he will sign it.  Unions will file lawsuits, which are not likely to go anywhere.  They will probably try to recall members of the legislature, and may succeed in a few cases, but not enough to change control in Lansing.

They will also put the issue on the ballot.  The bills include appropriations to make them referendum-proof (though this will probably be challenged).  The unions can and will put either an initiative or constitutional amendment on the ballot.  The reason for avoiding a referendum is that a referendum would require voters to vote yes to affirm Right to Work, while an initiative would require voters to vote yes to block it.  Undecided voters usually vote no, so that side has an advantage.

The battle is just beginning, but Michigan becoming a Right to Work state is finally in sight.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Streamlining Concealed Carry

The Michigan Senate may be sitting on the bill to repeal handgun registration, but it did pass another bill to streamline the concealed carry process.  From the NRA:

Michigan: Legislation to Expand Concealed Carry and Eliminate Concealed Weapons Licensing Boards Approved by the state Senate, Sent to House

New WMU Trustees

Governor Snyder appointed two new members of the WMU Board of Trustees.  They will replace Granholm appointees Dennis Archer, former mayor of Detroit, and Larry Tolbert, a union official.

Gov. Rick Snyder appoints two new members to Western Michigan University Board of Trustees
New WMU trustees Michelle Crumm and Ron Hall both have business backgrounds, CEO experience

The new trustees are Michelle Crumm and Ronald Hall.
Crumm, appointed to replace Tolbert, is owner and CEO of Present Value LLC, which provides business strategy, forecasting and planning services. She co-founded and is former chief business officer of Adaptive Materials Inc., where she worked for 12 years.

Crumm is a board member for the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation and Arbor Hospice, and chairs the Ann Arbor Hands On Museum board. She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Purdue University and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan.

Hall is chairman and CEO of New Center Stamping and president and CEO of Bridgewater Interiors, both Detroit-based automotive supply companies. He worked for Ford Motor Co. for 15 years, and served as president and CEO of the Michigan Minority Business Development Council and as director of the Minority Economic Development, Detroit Inc.

Hall, who will replace Archer, earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from WMU and a master’s degree in business administration from Wayne State University.
So both live in the Detroit area.

Where are they politically?  Searching Open Secrets, we find that Crumm has one federal contribution, $1000 to democrat John Dingell in 2006.  Hall has one federal contribution, $250 to Debbie Stabenow in 2003.  Wonderful.

Two years ago, Snyder appointed Dana Debel, a lobbyist who didn't go to Western, worked for Governor Granholm, and lives in Ann Arbor.

Business backgrounds are nice, but is it too much to expect some appointees who are actually Republicans and live in the Kalamazoo area?  How about Dale Shugars, Tom George, Cameron Brown, or John Balkema?  We need some Republicans after eight years of Granholm appointees.  And trustees who live in the area are more likely to actually know what is happening on campus.

Snyder Appoints Democrat WMU Trustee
New Trustees

Michigan Senate Still Stalling Gun Rights Bill

The NRA has another alert reminding citizens that the Michigan Senate still has not acted on a bill to repeal handgun registration in Michigan.

Michigan: Time Running Out to Repeal State Handgun Registration and Permit System

Read the whole thing. Apparently, the bill is being stalled due to pressure from Governor Snyder and the Michigan State Police.

What good are "pro-gun" legislators if they won't actually vote on pro-gun bills?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Freedom of Speech on Campus

Michigan Capital Confidential reports on FIRE's ratings of campus speech codes.

Vague University Policies Punish Students For Jokes, 'Obnoxious' Comments, 'Insulting' Phone Calls or Texts
FIRE: Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University gets a "red light" rating.
Western Michigan University says that students cannot use the school's internet to "post or send material that is contrary to the mission or values of the University."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tea Party Versus Establishment Senate Candidates

One of the arguments you often hear against the Tea Party from liberals and establishment Republicans is that Tea Party candidates cost Republicans control of the US Senate.  But does this claim stand up to scrutiny?  Let's examine race-by-race to determine whether it is true.


Delaware:  There is no question that Christine O'Donnell was a terrible candidate.  It isn't quite so clear that she was Tea Party candidate. The race was mostly ignored until a few weeks before the primary, when many national conservatives endorsed her to stop moderate Republican Congressman Mike Castle (ACU life 52%) from winning.  O'Donnell was more a traditional conservative than a Tea Partier, but I won't split hairs here.

Castle was definitely a stronger candidate, but it is a myth that he was a shoo-in.  The CNN exit poll showed that Castle would have lost to democrat Chris Coons 44-43.  And that's without the democrats having spent millions attacking him, as they undoubtedly would have.  Instead, the left spent a lot of time and effort attacking a Republican who was going to lose anyways.  So even in what would seem to be the strongest case for the anti-Tea Party side, the facts don't support them.

Nevada: Sharon Angle won the Republican primary to face Harry Reid over Danny Tarkanian and Sue Lowden.  She lost by 6% to Reid. Angle was a weak candidate, though not in the same category as O'Donnell.  On the other hand, her primary opponents were hardly strong candidates either.  Tarkanian has now lost four bids for office (state senate, SOS, US Senate, congress).  Lowden was a one-term state senator whose campaign lost steam after derisible chicken-bartering comments.  It is far from obvious that either of them would have outperformed Angle by 6%.  I agree that Dean Heller or Jon Porter would have won, but they chose not to run.

Colorado: Ken Buck beat Jane Norton in the Republican primary before losing to democrat incumbent Ken Bennett.  As far as I can tell, Buck was a decent candidate, but he was smeared as anti-woman for not prosecuting an alledged rapist due to lack of evidence.  Perhaps Norton would have done better, but it is worth noting that she was elected Lieutenant Governor of Colorado on a ticket with incumbent Bill Owens, not on her own.  There is no evidence that she was an electoral powerhouse.

Alaska: Joe Miller beat Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary.  Murkowski ran as a write-in candidate and won the general election.  Murkowski was a stronger candidate, but from what I have heard, Miller still would have beaten the weak democrat nominee.


Missouri: Congressman Todd Akin beat Sarah Steelman and John Brunner in the Republican primary before losing to democrat incumbent Claire McCaskill.  Akin was a bad candidate who destroyed his campaign with rape-related remarks.  But he was not a Tea Party candidate; he found his strongest support from social conservatives.  Steelman had some Tea Party and establishment support, and Brunner had some Tea Party and libertarian support.

Indiana: Richard Mourdock, state treasurer of Indiana, defeated incumbent senator Richard Lugar in the primary 61%-39% before losing to democrat congressman Joe Donnely.  Mourdock was a Tea Party candidate who also had some local establishment support.  He was twice elected state treasurer, winning 62% in 2010.  I am not aware of any widespread claims that he was a weak candidate before the primary.

Lugar had long won by large margins, but he had not faced a serious challenge since first being elected to the senate, and was unopposed in 2004.  He was out of touch with Indiana, had no residence in the state, and ignored clear signs that his campaign was in trouble until it was too late.  He could have (I believe would have) experienced a similar collapse in the general election if he had coasted through the primary.  Joe Donnely could have run to the right of Lugar on guns (Lugar had an NRA F rating), immigration, and possibly foreign policy, just as Mourdock had done.

Incredibly, there is not a single clear case of the Tea Party costing Republicans a US Senate seat.  Possibly some of their primary opponents would have won, but it is easy to imagine fantasy candidates doing better than real-life candidates.  Real candidates are imperfect and make mistakes.

Moreover, the "O'Donnell and Angle cost us the senate" argument is disingenuous because it cherry-picks evidence.  It ignores the Tea party candidates who did win, and the establishment candidates who collapsed.

Tea Party candidates who won:
  • Kentucky: Rand Paul was at least as strong as his primary opponent.
  • Florida: Marco Rubio beat RINO turned independent Charlie Crist and became a national star.
  • Pennsylvania: Pat Toomey pushed out Arlen Specter and narrowly won a dem-leaning state.
  • Wisconsin: Ron Johnson found the right appeal to win a swing state.
  • Utah: Mike Lee won the primary in a state to Republican would lose.
  • Texas: Ted Cruz easily won the general after a tough primary.
Establishment candidates who collapsed/underperformed:
  • Colorado governor: Scott McKinnis imploded in a plagiarism scandal.
  • Kentucky governor: David McWilliams ran a terrible campaign.
  • North Dakota senate: Rick Berg was establishment all the way, and lost a state other Republicans won easily.
  • Wisconsin senate: Tommy Thompson ran a listless campaign and lost to leftist Tammy Baldwin.
  • Montana senate: Denny Rehberg ran a weak campaign.
It would be just as disingenuous to say "Establishment candidates Berg and Thompson cost us the senate, so we should never support an establishment candidate again!"  That would also be cherry-picking.

Beyond specific races, the Tea Party infused volunteers into the Republican party and provided a boost in many races where no Tea Party candidate was running.  But I doubt this would have happened without Tea Party candidates on the ballot.

The lesson here is not that Republicans shouldn't nominate Tea Partiers, but that Tea Partiers should make an effort to find stronger candidates.  Now that they have proven that they can beat incumbents and establishment favorites, that should be easier to do.  Both Tea Partiers and social conservatives need candidates who are experienced at defending conservative beliefs to unfriendly audiences, not just "preaching to the choir".  They found such candidates in Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Pat Toomey, and Marco Rubio, and they can find and elect more.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

6th Circuit Disenfranchizes Voters

The full 6th circuit court of appeals has struck down the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative by an 8-7 vote.  This follows a three judge panel's 2-1 vote to strike it down last year, and a federal judge upholding it in 2008.

This decision will be appealed to the Supreme Court, which will soon decide another racial discrimination/affirmative action case from the University of Texas.  It is possible that they will use this case to finally end affirmative action in this country.

The actual argument the court used to overturn the MCRI is ludicrous.  Even the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press (!) agree on that point.  They essentially say that the MCRI is too hard for minorities to overturn, which discriminates against them.  This assumes that the  position of minorities is to oppose equal treatment and support racial discrimination, which is not necessarily true.

Moreover, the MCRI was passed using the normal procedures for passing a constitutional amendment in Michigan.  Opponents of any constitutional amendment have significant advantages, since undecideds mostly vote no.  In addition, opponents significantly outspent supporters, most special interests (including the Chamber of Commerce), most politicians (including Dick DeVos and Mike Bouchard) and most newspapers opposed it.  Despite all this, the MCRI passed 58%-42%, winning all but three counties.

Opponents of the MCRI could use exactly the same procedure to repeal it, if they could convince a majority of Michigan citizens to agree.

Compare this to the difficulty of overturning a judicial decision.  If any procedure imposes extraordinary hurdles to overturning it, a judicial decision is it.

We should all wish good health for Justices Scalia and Kennedy.  In the mean time, the Republicans in the Michigan legislature should pass the MCRI as a statute as well.

Sailer on MCRI
MCRI Upheld
MCRI Battle

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2012 Analysis: Michigan

The 2012 election was rough on the top of the ticket in Michigan.  Mitt Romney lost 44.8%-54.3%, improving significantly over John McCain's performance, but not enough to overcome the democrat lean of the state in presidential years.  He actually won 63 of 83 counties, but Obama won six of the largest seven.

Michigan Presidential Results: County Map

The results were much worse in the Senate race, where Pete Hoekstra was destroyed by Debbie Stabenow 38%-58.8%.  This race is the subject of this separate post:

2012 Analysis: Senate
Michigan Senate Results: County Map

Beyond these races, though Michigan Republicans held up pretty well, though. We held all our congressional seats, maintaining a 9-5 edge.

Michigan Congressional Results

1: Benishek 48.2%, McDowell 47.5%  This one was a lot closer than in 2010, though it was never lean democrat, as some national pundits claimed.  Redistricting saved Benishek.  He will probably have an easier time winning his third (and final?) term in 2014.
2. Huizinga 61.1% German 34.4%
3. Amash 52.7% Pestka 41.1% Libertarian 3.1%  I told you Amash was safe. Democrats ran their best possible candidate in a fairly dem year and it still wasn't close.  Amash should settle in, but he still needs to repair his relationships with Right to Life and the NRA.
4. Camp 63.1% Worth 35.5%
5. Slezak 31.4% Kildee 65%
6. Upton 54.5% O'Brien 42.7%  Upton's committee chairmanship fueled a tougher challenge from Mike O'Brien, who won most of the democrats who have padded Upton's margins in past years.  Upton has lost some of his luster, but this seat is still his as long as he wants it.
7. Walberg 53.3% Haskell 43%  Walberg will never win huge margins, but he is finally settling into this seat.
8. Rogers 58.6% Enderle 37.3%
9. Volaric 34% Levin 61.9%
10. Miller 68.7% Stadler 29.8%  Macomb loves them some Candi.  Run for Senate, please?
11. Bentivolio 50.8% Taj 44.4%  One of the strangest house campaigns ended with Tea Party candidate Bentivolio holding this seat against Muslim socialist Syed Taj.  Bentivolio will have to do a good job, or risk defeat by a primary challenger who is not a write-in.
12. Kallgren 29% Dingell 67.9%
13. Sawicki 13.6% Conyers 82.8%
14. Hauler 15.6% Peters 82.2%

Republicans were wiped out in the education board races.  Incumbent MSU trustee Melanie Foster came the closest.  Foster and one of the State Board of Eduation candidates could have won if they had received the votes that went to the Libertarian and Constitution party candidates.

Republicans won a big victory in holding their Michigan Supreme Court seats.  Steven Markman (R) was reelected to his final term with 23%, and Bridgit McCormack (D, 23.8%) captured the seat of age-limited democrat Marilyn Kelly.  They defeated Connie Kelley (D, 21.6%) and Colleen O'Brien (R, 21.3%).

Brian Zahra (R) won a 2-year partial term fairly easily 49.5%-41.7% over Sheila Johnson (D). The incumbency designation likely saved Markman and helped Zahra.  Zahra will have to run again for a full term in 2014, when Republicans will also try to capture the open seat of age-limited democrat Michael Cavanaugh.

Michigan State Rep results

Republicans held their majority in the state house despite a net loss of five seats.  Redistricting eliminated three dem seats in Detroit, which were replaced by dem seats in Macomb, Monroe (17), and Kent (74).  Dems held the first two and the latter was a safe GOP pickup.  But Republicans conceded 55 in Washtenaw, so there was no net gain from redistricting, though some existing seats were strengthened.  Six incumbent Republicans lost (52, 71, 76, 84, 91, 110) and the GOP picked up an open dem seat (39).

23 Somerville 50.5% Boritzki 49.5%
25 Clark (R) 48.6% Yanez  51.4%  Better redistricting could have won this seat.
39 Kesto (R) 53.3% Jackson 46.7% A pickup of a dem seat improved by redistricting.
41 Howrylak 50.5% Kerwin 49.5%
52 Ouimet 47% Driskell 53%  Huge redistricting fail.
57 Jenkins 52.5% Schmidt 47.5%
63 Bolger 50.9% Martin 49.1% This seat was close due to Speaker Bolger's knowledge of Roy Schmidt's party-switching scheme.
67 Oesterle (R) 43.6% Cochran 56.4%
71 Schaughnessy 46.6% Abed 53.4% Big upset in Eaton.  Not sure why.
76 Schmidt 31% Brinks 59.3%  Roy Schmidt switched parties at the filing deadline and recruited a patsy to run as a democrat. The scheme blew up in his face and destroyed his chances of reelection.
84 Dan Grimshaw 38.2% Terry Brown (D) 52.6% Grimshaw beat embattled incumbent Kurt Damrow in the primary.
91 Hughes 47.3% Lamonte 48.1%  Holly Hughes lost her RNC post in May, and now her state house seat.  A libertarian cost her some votes.
101 Franz 51%, O'Shea 49%
106 Pettalia 52.2% Hubbard 45.3%
110 Huuki 48.6% Dianda 51.4% Western UP is tough for local Republicans.

Notably, my rankings were pretty good, with all safe races correct, and only three "lean R" races going the opposite way. My tossups split 3-3.

2012 Analysis: Ballot Propositions

In the ballot propositions, conservatives won big victories by defeating propositions 2, 3, and 4.  Notably, 2 and 4 won only two counties (Wayne and Genesee) and 3 won only Washtenaw.

2012 Analysis: Senate

Debbie Stabenow was reelected to a third term in the US Senate. She destroyed Pete Hoekstra 58.8%-38%.  Hoekstra won only 22 of 83 counties, mostly in West Michigan. (Romney won 63/83.)

Michigan Senate Results: County Map

This race was sadly reminiscent of the 2006 senate race. Back then, Keith Butler was recruited to run.  After running for a while, someone in Washington recruited Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard to run.  Jerry Zandstra also jumped in, though he was eventually disqualified for not getting enough signatures.  The primary absorbed money and time that could better have gone into other races.  Bouchard won, but he had trouble raising enough money to be competitive.  He ran a lackluster campaign and failed to take the conservative position on the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.  He lost 41.3%-56.9%.

This year, there were five Republican candidates who submitted signatures, plus a couple more who never got close to the number of signatures required.  Peter Konetchy was disqualified for lack of signatures.  Konetchy, Gary Glenn, and Randy Hekman were all solid conservatives who drew support from the Tea Party.  Glenn dropped out a few weeks before the election.

A bit of history is in order. The last time Michigan elected a Republican senator was in the 1994 midterm, when Spence Abraham won an open seat in a Republican wave.  The last time before that was Robert Griffin's reelection in 1972.  The last time a Republican defeated an incumbent democrat senator was 1952, when moderate Charles Potter beat appointee Blair Moody.  The last time a Republican beat a democrat who had been elected to his seat was in 1942 when Homer Ferguson beat Prentiss Brown. These are the only times since 1900 that a Republican has beat an incumbent democrat for a US senate seat in Michigan.

Frankly, a lot of Tea Party folks were very unrealistic about this race.  Any Republican candidate faced an uphill climb, and no unknown stood a chance.  Konetchy, Glenn, and Hekman wouldn't have gotten within 20 points of Stabenow.

The two top Republican candidates were Hoekstra and Clark Durant.  Hoekstra was supported by much of the establishment, including Governor Snyder, and the Yob faction of the state party.  Durant was supported by the anti-Yob faction of the party, and picked up some national conservative support and some Tea Party support after Glenn dropped out.

Hoekstra was attacked as not conservative enough by his primary opponents.  He had certainly cast some bad votes over the years, but this has to be balanced against the fact that he had a 91% lifetime conservative rating from American Conservative Union.  He would have been the most conservative senator from Michigan in a long time, certainly more than James Couzins, Arthur VanderBerg, Charles Potter, Homer Ferguson, Robert Griffin, or Spence Abraham.

Hoekstra won the primary 54-34 over Durant. As in 2006, the primary sapped money and time better spent elsewhere, and created ill will that hampered Hoekstra's chances in the general.

Hoekstra held the safe 2nd congressional district 1992-2010.  He lost the primary for governor in 2010, finishing second.  He announced his candidacy relatively late after having previously declined to run.  He apparently was talked into running, and it seems his heart wasn't really in the race.

Hoekstra's campaign lacked much of a message.  His one big attack against Stabenow was his infamous "China ad", in which a Chinese woman speaking broken English thanks Stabenow for spending so much money that must be borrowed from China.  The ad was attacked as racist, and while that certainly wasn't the intention, it didn't send the message that Hoekstra hoped it would.

After that, Hoekstra dropped in the polls, and fundraising was tough.  Later in the campaign, he ran a couple amusing web ads in which people debate why Stabenow is the worst senator ever.  (In my opinion, she isn't the worst senator Michigan has right now.)

Hoekstra failed to make an effective case against Stabenow.  He had no appeal beyond the Republican base.  In particular, he offered nothing to the white working class voters that Republicans need to win statewide in Michigan.

Michigan's 2012 senate race was a mess from beginning to end, and neither Hoekstra, the Republican establishment, nor the Tea Party acquitted themselves well in this campaign.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Texas Township is more Republican than Texas

Texas Township two-party presidential results:
Mitt Romney 58.37%
Barack Obama 41.63%

Texas two-party presidential results:
Mitt Romney 58.03%
Barack Obama 41.97%

Friday, November 09, 2012

2012 Analysis: Ballot Propositions

All six 2012 Michigan ballot propositions failed.  Most of them weren't even close.  Here are the numbers.

Michigan ballot issues and judicial races

1. No 52% (emergency managers)
2. No 58% (collective bargaining)
3. No 63% (energy mandate)
4. No 57% (SEIU forced unionization)
5. No 69% (2/3 to raise taxes)
6. No 60% (Detroit/Canada bridge)

The "Vote NO on everything" campaign was very effective.  The message was that special interests were trying to hijack Michigan's constitution.

Newspaper endorsements were also helpful. They don't change many votes in partisan races, but they can make a big difference when people don't know what a proposal is really about. The Detroit News, Free Press, and Mlive papers all endorsed yes on 1, no on the rest.

Proposal 1 came close due to newspaper endorsements and support from the Governor.  The weaker emergency financial managers will return (though there may be lawsuits on that point).  The legislature can always pass a new emergency manager law.

Michigan isn't all that into unions anymore.  The unions put everything into proposal 2 and got destroyed.  The Chamber of Commerce did great work on this issue.  It was slightly disappointing that they chose to focus on the issue of background checks in schools rather than the main issue--whether government employee unions should be able to override laws in their contracts.  Still, given how the unions were trying to trick people, I suppose they had to go with whatever issue was most effective, even if it was somewhat tangential.

Proposal 4 was SEIU's last-ditch effort to save its ripoff of home healthcare workers.  Now that it failed, the end of this scam is finally in sight.

The failure of proposals 2 and 4 has raised some talk of passing a Right to Work bill.  Realistically, this is only going to happen if the Chamber of Commerce is willing to spend 50+ million defending it.  It would have to be put in the Constitution, since the unions would either force a referendum or try to pass another constitutional amendment stopping it.  Perhaps proposals 2 and 4 will inspire Michigan's business leaders to actually make it happen.

Proposal 3 was funded by California environmentalists and "green" corporations seeking handouts.  Thankfully, the (monopoly) energy companies were willing to spend a lot to defend their profits and keep rates down for consumers.

Proposal 6 was Matty Moroun's effort to prevent government competition for his privately-owned bridge.  The bridge would be primarily funded by a loan from Canada paid back by tolls.  Moroun argued (persuasively) that the bridge would not be entirely free, though.  Some supporters of the new bridge on both sides of the border seemed hostile to private ownership of bridges.  Ultimately, Moroun's campaign was ineffective.

Proposal 5 seemed to get lost in the shuffle.  The yes campaign wasn't very visible.  All the special interests that want to raise taxes came out against it, along with many politicians and most newspapers.  Support started at 68% in one poll, but dropped like a rock.  Conservatives were mostly focused elsewhere.

Once again, special interests tried to hijack Michigan's Constitution, and once again they failed.  Past attempts were
No matter how much they spend, if every newspaper and the majority of politicians come out against a ballot proposal as a special interest power grab, it isn't going to pass.  Will special interests finally get the message and stop trying to hijack Michigan's Constitution?

Thursday, November 08, 2012

2012 Analysis: Kalamazoo

Local elections were very mixed for Kalamazoo County Republicans.  The following results come from

The top of the ticket was tough for Republicans.  Democrats won the Presidential race in Kalamazoo County for the sixth straight time.  Obama and Stabenow got almost the same number of votes, 69045 and 69067.  The difference between Romney  and Hoekstra was the larger number of third party votes in the Senate race.  Romney got 42.9% and Hoekstra got 39.4%.

Congressman Fred Upton won the 6th district by a smaller 55%-42% margin, with 3% going Libertarian and Constitution.  Democrats ran a stronger campaign, and got most of the democrats who previously voted for Upton to support Mike O'Brien.  In Kalamazoo County, Upton won by 11 votes, 58619-58608, (48.66% to 48.65%).

Democrats won all the education board races in the county, as they did statewide.

Mike Perrin lost to Sean McCann in house district 60 25.8%-74.2%. Margaret O'Brien won district 61 58.2%-41.8% against Michael Martin, who did not campaign.  Aric Nesbitt also won the part of the county he picked up in redistricting.

Jase Bolger actually lost the Kalamazoo portion of the 63rd district (47.8%) but won narrowly thanks to Calhoun.  The furor over Roy Schmidt's party switch and dems flogging the issue with half a million in spending almost cost us, but Speaker Bolger held on.

Results for the countywide offices were mixed.  Mary Balkema was the Republican champion.  Her 59866 votes topped Fred Upton.  She beat Grace Borgfjord 53%-47%.  Mary worked her heart out, showing what a candidate needs to do to win countywide.

Tim Snow nearly lost the clerk race to Brian Johnson, winning 50.9%-49.1% thanks to a lackluster campaign.  Ward Lawrence lost to incumbent Sheriff Richard Fuller 44.6%-55.4%. Nasim Ansari lost to incumbent Drain Commissioner Pat Crowley 39.6%-60.4%.  None of the incumbents had done anything to anger the voters.

Scott Pierangeli lost a heartbreaking race 48.6%-51.4% to Jeffrey Getting for the open prosecutor seat vacated by Jeff Fink.  Pierangeli worked very hard and raised a lot of money.  Unfortunately, he failed to make use of information about the real reason why Getting was fired from the prosecutor's office in 1998.  His decision not to go negative probably cost him the election.

In the county commission races, we have
1. Thompson 13.9% Alford 86.1%
2. Buskirk unopposed
3. Dugal 31.1% Taylor 68.9%
4. Weber 32.2% Seals 67.8%
5. Worthams 44.3% Rogers 55.7%
6. Heppler 54% Novak 46%
7. Tuinier 50.9% Crabtree 49.1%
8. Maturen unopposed
9. Iden 53.9% Kildea 46.1%
10. Stinchcomb 52.8% Farrell 47.2%
11. Zull 52.2% Jager 47.8%

The Republicans who won all underperformed 4-5% compared to typical elections.  Much of this was due to a bad environment.  Some was also due to new territory acquired in redistricting, and to a lack of campaigning by Heppler and Zull.  Apparently neither Tuinier nor Crabtree ran strong campaigns.  Iden campaigned much harder than in 2010. He's running for something, and I don't mean county commission.

Julie Rogers won what should have been a Republican district.  She campaigned very hard, raised a lot of money, and had a lot of supporters left from from her two previous runs for state representative.  Her position as a physical therapist was probably more attractive than Dave Worthams' work for the Michigan Bankers Association.

Republicans won a 6-5 majority on the county commission, following their 10-7 majority in 2010.  Republicans got 47557 (45.3%) votes total compared to dems 57400 (54.7%) but were saved by a solid redistricting plan. (Each party had one unopposed candidate, so the results are comparable.)

Most townships are still Republican, while Kalamazoo Township is now solidly democrat.  The two battlegrounds were Oshtemo and Comstock.

In Oshtemo, dem Libby was easily (57%) reelected Supervisor over John Nieuwenhuis.  Republican Deb Everett was narrowly (50.5%) reelected clerk over Jeff Parsons. Republican Nancy Culp won reelection (50.9%) over Grant Taylor.  Dems Larsen, Farmer, and Lutz, and Republican Nancy Carr won the trustee seats.

Parsons, Taylor, Larsen, and Farmer only had signs at vacant corners, and Lutz didn't even have that.  Oshtemo leans dem, at least in presidential years.  Carr had the fewest signs of the four Republicans running.  Could she have won since she was the only woman of the seven running for trustee?  Dems won a 4-3 majority, compared to 4-3 Republican in 2008 (dems would have won then if they had run a full slate).

In Comstock, Republican Ann Nieuwenhuis won 51.6% to dem Randy Thompson's 40% (there were two independents).  Republican clerk Anna Goodsell was narrowly reelected, while dem Brett Padgett won the treasurer's position.  The four trustee positions were run by dems Sandra Bloomfield and David Burgess and Republicans Jeffrey Bogema and Jerry Amos.  Amos was a rare Tea party candidate to win a swing district.  Republicans won a 4-3 majority, following the dems 4-3 majority in 2008.

Lorence Wenke lost his third straight election, this time for Gull Lake school board.  Chelsea Herriman almost won a Portage School Board position.

Republicans have been doing better at campaigning, but there are still several candidates who nearly lost for lack of campaigning.  Republicans were out-fundraised in most races.  Kalamazoo County is tilting democrat, and it will take stronger efforts by the county Republican Party to fight back.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Doomsday Reading

If you want to read more about the future of America, check out the following books.

We Are Doomed by John Derbyshire
After America by Mark Steyn
Suicide of a Superpower by Pat Buchanan

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Bellwether Precincts

The idea of a bellwether precinct is that whoever wins it wins the larger jurisdiction in question.  My calculations are that the following precincts are the best bellwethers for Kalamazoo County.

Comstock 6 (Gull Road area)
Cooper 3 (Riverview Drive area)
Kalamazoo Township 6 (Grand Prairie area) (presidential years only)
Kalamazoo Township 9 (Northwest)
Texas 3 (KVCC)
Portage 15 (state streets)
Portage 20 (W Milham)

Saturday, November 03, 2012

I Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself

Mary Balkema is cleary the best choice for Kalamazoo County treasurer (Letter)

Mary Balkema is clearly the best choice for Kalamazoo County treasurer. She has been doing the job for six years, and is doing it well. She established the Kalamazoo County Land Bank and has managed our county's money wisely. She is honest, smart, and a tireless worker for our county. She has experience in business and on the Kalamazoo City Commission that adds to her effectiveness.

Balkema's opponent, Grace Borgfjord, does not have anywhere near the same financial experience. She also twice supported massive tax hikes in the Mattawan school district that were twice rejected by the voters. She is out of touch with the citizens of Kalamazoo County and she should not be put in charge of Kalamazoo County's financial resources.


Friday, November 02, 2012

Damaging Michigan

How Obamacare hurts Stryker (via Michelle Malkin):

Obama’s Layoff Bomb
And it’s an innovation issue, too. As I reported in February, Obamacare’s impending 2.3 percent medical device excise tax has already wrought havoc on the industry:

Stryker, a maker of artificial hips and knees based in Kalamazoo, Mich., is slashing 5 percent of its global workforce (an estimated 1,000 workers) this coming year to reduce costs related to Obamacare’s taxes and mandates.
The cost of illegal aliens in Michigan:

Illegal Immigrants Cost Michigan Taxpayers $1 Bil A Year

The history of Devil's Night in Detroit:

Diversity Is Strength! It’s Also…Devil’s Night In Detroit

How Competitive are 5 and 7?

Fritz Klug of the Gazette looks at how competitive Kalamazoo County Commission districts 5 and 7 are.  Unfortunately, his methodology is bad, at least in district 5.  He averages together the results of county commission elections from 2006, 2008, and 2010.  However, there were several uncontested elections in the average, which produces misleading results.

Southwest Michigan Politics: What way will the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners go?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Shocker: Gazette Endorses Obama

All kidding aside, it actually is a bit surprising. Despite the Gazette's liberal editorial positions, 1996 was the last time they endorsed a democrat for President.

Recent endorsements:
2012: Obama
2008: no endorsement
2004: Bush
2000: Bush
earlier: many democrats

Let's break it down.

Barack Obama has earned four more years as president of the United States (Kalamazoo Gazette Editorial)
Four years ago, when Barack Obama stepped into the presidency, our nation’s economy was in shambles, we were at war in Iraq, and the way we financed health care in America was flat out broken.

Today, the economy is on the mend, the war in Iraq is over and the historic Affordable Care Act is the law of the land.
The President doesn't make the economy recover.  Economies recovered on their own long before governments tried to fix them.  What is notable about the "recovery" is how weak it has been, and how long it has taken.  Obama's policies are to blame.

We still have have troops in Iraq (not combat troops).  But we were already drawing down and ending the war under Bush. Obama inherited that!
Yes, the Affordable Care Act is flawed. But after years of hand wringing and do-nothing by Washington, a president finally came along who had the vision and the guts to force major changes in a health-care system that should be a jewel for America but is instead a disgrace because it is out of reach for so many.
And he made it much worse.
There are some who have said they wished Obama could have made his historic run for president at another time, that he could have claimed his presidency in an era of peace, calm and economic certainty. That, however, was not his destiny.

His destiny was to lead us through our current economic crisis, and he has done this work diligently in the face of enormous obstacles. We believe his work is not yet finished and thus we endorse Barack Obama for another term as president of the United States. Against tremendous odds, Obama has earned another four years in office to continue crafting his vision for our nation.
Diligently?  Everything that has come out about his work ethic says that he is not a particularly hard worker.
In 2008, the banking system was collapsing, the housing market was in upheaval and General Motors and Chrysler were heading toward catastrophe. America continues to reel from the worst financial crisis to face this nation since the Great Depression.

Job growth has been nominal, the deficit looms large and only now is the housing market beginning to come back. But, we believe we would be in a worse position had Obama not been in the White House, where he was able to stabilize our free fall through use of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, mortgage relief programs, the stimulus package and the bailout of General Motors and Chrysler.
TARP was passed under Bush.  So were the mortgage programs.  So were the GM and Chrysler bailouts.  Who is the Gazette endorsing again?
The last two programs had very visible impacts in Southwest Michigan with the widening of I-94 coming out of the stimulus package and numerous automobile parts manufacturers being able to stay afloat with the rescue of the auto companies.
The economy has done far worse than Obama projected that it would, both with and without the stimulus.  By their own standards, it failed.  Most of the money did not go to "shovel-ready jobs" (I-94 being an exception.)
While maneuvering through the troubled financial landscape, Obama has managed several other notable accomplishments. In foreign affairs, he has repaired strained relations with key allies, ended the war in Iraq and has begun to draw down troops in Afghanistan.
He made relations worse with our real allies, Britain and Israel.  Casualties are way up in our increasingly pointless war in Afghanistan.
Following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the administration of President George W. Bush kept the issue of terrorism at the forefront of its public policy, including using it as a pretext to launch the Iraq War. But let’s not forget that it was under President Obama’s watch that the true culprit of 9/11, Osama bin Laden, was finally tracked down and killed.
By Obama?  Obama cancelled the mission three times and drafted a statement blaming the military if it failed.  He also left our Libyan ambassador to die.
There are other accomplishments we could cite, but perhaps the greatest is that President Obama managed to get anything done at all in the face of ongoing hostility from Republican members of Congress, whose main legislative goal — perhaps their sole objective — has been to undercut his every move.
Which the voters massively rewarded in 2010.
Some of the best evidence of that can be found in the debt reduction talks between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner. They were well on their way to reaching a compromise when the Republican Party forced the speaker to walk away from the talks.
No, Obama sabotaged the near-deal.
Have there been failures in the Obama administration? Yes. In his first campaign, Barack Obama promised more than he could — or did — deliver. He has failed to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. He has not been able to repeal the Bush tax cuts for higher incomes. He has not been able to ban companies in bankruptcy from giving bonuses. He has not supported the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.
He failed to be left-wing enough!
Perhaps these will make their way to the top of Obama’s agenda if he is re-elected, although we have to believe that the economic recovery of the country would remain his primary concern. The recovery would have to be the main focus for Mitt Romney, should he win the election on Nov. 6.

And, that is our concern with the Republican nominee. Romney echoes the failed economic philosophies that have brought us to this point in history.

We simply do not believe the relentless arguments that protecting the assets of the wealthy and cutting social programs for everyone else provide the only hope America has for economic recovery and growth.
What a distortion of what Romney advocates. Conservatives support property rights for everyone. "Social programs" promote dependency and punish individual responsibility.
To ask the wealthy to help fund a government that invests in education, health care, infrastructure and other essential services is not socialism — it is asking all members of our society to be socially responsible. Indeed, it is in the interest of the wealthy to have a strong middle class.
Ask?  What if they say no?  You want to put a gun to their heads.  Of course, it is not "the wealthy" who will be "asked", but high income earners (not the same group).  "Invests" is liberal propaganda-speak for "spend".  Education and health care could be provided far better by the free market.  Raising taxes is "responsible" for increasing poverty.  Capitalism gave us the middle class.
President Barack Obama has led with a steady hand for the past four years, opting to invest not in big government but in active government that will use its power to guide us toward a healthy future. We believe Obama deserves another four years to continue that work.
Not big government?  How much bigger would our "active government" have to be for the Gazette to consider it big?  The future Obama is guiding us toward is anything but healthy.

2012 Michigan General Election Preview

Cross-posted at The Western Right, Right Michigan, and Red Racing Horses.

This is an overview of competitive November 6 general election races in Michigan in 2012. More detailed profiles of some of the races are linked within the article.

President (Michigan) Leans democrat
Michigan leans slightly to the left in Presidential elections. This means that democrats need to win Michigan to win the White House, but Republicans don't. Michigan still has a weak economy thanks to eight years of democrat Governor Jennifer Granholm. Mitt Romney can still win here (current RCP average is Obama +4), but if he does, he's already won elsewhere.

US Senate Likely democrat
Democrat Senator Debbie Stabenow is seeking a third term. The Republican nominee is Pete Hoekstra, former congressman who represented the 2nd district in West Michigan 1992-2010. He won a contested primary that sapped resources.  Hoekstra aired a controversial China ad and labeled Stabenow the worst senator ever, but never found support beyond the Republican base.  The RCP average is Stabenow +13.

US House of Representatives
Only a couple 2012 Michigan Congressional Races are competitive.

District 1 (Upper Peninsula, Northern Lower Peninsula) Leans Republican
In 2010, Dr. Dan Benishek won an open seat vacated by democrat Rep. Bart Stupak against democrat state Rep. Gary McDowell 52-41. The new district gets more Republican, adding areas around Traverse City. McDowell is back for a rematch, but Benishek will be difficult to beat as an incumbent.

District 3 (Kent, Calhoun) Likely Republican
Moderate democrat former state rep. Steve Pestka defeated leftist Trevor Thomas, and faces Congressman Justin Amash.  Amash has had some scrapes with Right to Life and the NRA, neither of which endorsed in this race.  Still, the district in Republican enough that it likely won't matter.

District 11 (NW Wayne, SW Oakland, Troy) Safe Republican
Republican Thad McCotter saw the most improvement in his district, trading increasingly democrat suburbs of Detroit in Wayne County for Republican areas of Oakland County. But McCotter's staff committed fraud, leading to his being disqualified and dropping out. Tea Party Republican Kerry Bentivolio won the Republican nomination over write-in candidate former state senator Nancy Cassis. Democrat Canton Township Trustee Taj Syed defeated William Roberts, a "LaRouche democrat".

Michigan Supreme Court Lean Markman/Tossup, Lean Zahra
Conservative Republican Steven Markman was renominated, and Colleen O'Brien was nominated for the seat of age-limited democrat Marilyn Kelly. They face democrat (Irish women) Connie Kelley and Bridget McCormack.  Appointed Republican Brian Zhara is seeking to fill a two years partial term against democrat Sheila Johnson.  Republicans currently have a 4-3 majority on the court, so this election could result in anything from 5-2 D to 5-2 R.  On the ballot, races are nonpartisan and incumbents are designated as such.

Education Boards
Two seats on each of four boards will be up. These races usually follow the top of the ticket.  More details here.

Ballot Proposals
1. A referendum on the expanded emergency manager law passed by the legislature last year. The law allows emergency managers in distressed municipalities to rewrite union contracts; opposition comes mainly from public sector unions. Tossup.

2. Unions are behind an effort to amend the state constitution to enshrine mandatory collective bargaining, precluding a Right to Work law. It would also overrule a number of other laws that the unions don't like, including the emergency manager law, pension reform, and more, costing the state billions. Likely fail.

3. Various out-of-state alternative energy companies are behind an initiative to mandate that Michigan get at least 25% of its energy from alternative sources by 2025. Since alternative energy costs more than traditional energy (that's why it's the alternative), this would raise energy prices. Lean fail.

4. The SEIU is behind this proposition take union dues from home health care providers, disguised as a measure to protect the elderly. Tossup.

5. A proposal to require a 2/3 majority in the legislature or statewide vote to raise taxes. It's supported by Tea Party groups and opposed by the government class.  Polling has been all over the place.  Tossup.

6. The Detroit International Bridge Company, owned by Matty Moroun, is funding a proposition to require voter approval for any new bridge to Canada. This would create a roadblock to the Canadian-government funded bridge agreement recently signed by Governor Snyder. Tossup.

Michigan State House
Democrats will probably gain a few seats, but Republicans should retain the majority. Races to watch with fundraising totals: (I=incumbent)
1. (open) Brian Banks (D) may have committed eight felonies and been evicted from his campaign headquarters for not paying rent, but that's not going to stop Detroit from electing him.
23 Somerville (RI) 148K, Boritzki (D) 71K Tossup
25 (open) Clark (R) 74K, Yanez (D) 108K Tossup
39 (open) Kesto (R) 163K, Jackson (D) 54K Lean R
41 (open) Howrylak (R) 79K, Kerwin (D) 59K Lean R
52 Ouimet (RI) 333K, Driskell (D) 179K Lean R
57 Jenkins (RI) 141K, Schmidt (D) 106K Lean R
63 Bolger (RI) 259K, Martin (D) 20K Lean R Democrats have been spending heavily attacking Speaker Bolger for his knowledge of  Roy Schmidt's party-switching scheme.
67 (open) Oesterle (R) 81K, Cochran (D) 102K Tossup
70 Outman (RI) 176K, Huckleberry (D) 78K Lean R
71 Schaughnessy (RI) 199K, Abed 95K Lean R
76 Schmidt (D/RI) 120K, Brinks (D) 106K Safe D Roy Schmidt switched parties at the filing deadline and recruited a patsy to run as a democrat.  The scheme blew up in his face and destroyed his chances of reelection.
84 (open) Dan Grimshaw (R) 29K, Terry Brown (D) 96K Lean D Grimshaw beat embattled incumbent Kurt Damrow in the primary.
85 Glardon (RI) 78K, Ray (D) 20K Lean R
91 Hughes (RI) 199K, Lamonte (D) 125K Lean R
101 Franz (RI) 98K, O'Shea (D) 113K Tossup
106 Pettalia (RI) 129K, Hubbard (D) 55K Lean R
108 McBroom (RI) 113K, Gray (D) 99K Tossup
110 Huuki (RI) 118K, Dianda (D) 97K Tossup

Overall Ratings:
Safe D: 44
Lean D: 1
Tossup: 6
Lean R: 10
Safe R: 49