Friday, October 31, 2014

Spooktacular Halloween Michigan PoliLinks

Mrs. Curmudgeon loves Halloween, considering it the most sacred holiday of the year. This should scare her devoted husband, but the Curmudgeon is especially fond of taking candy from babies. Maybe that's why he became interested in politics!


Free Press Endorses Totten

What makes this endorsement important is the high level of undecided voters. Mark Totten, trailing Schuette by just 4.3% in the latest Detroit News poll, needs to pick up the bulk of the 22.5% undecided voters. 
This comes despite the fact that Schuette has a 30-year history of running for public office, and Totten came into the race virtually unknown.
Three factors come into play for the undecideds in down-ticket races:
  • Challengers generally do better than incumbents
  • Party leanings
  • Recommendations of newspapers, friends and relatives
Totten has the edge in the first two, and the Free Press endorsement (it's Michigan's most-read newspaper) gives him in the third.

Schauer Gets Major Ethnic Paper Endorsement

It's the Arab-American News. And if you didn't know it, the largest middle-east population in the nation is in Wayne County.
Part of their reasoning is a demonstration of what we have seen repeatedly throughout the Snyder term: his words don't always match his actions, and sometimes he simply takes a pass on important issues:
While Gov. Snyder has a pro-immigration record and has spoken volumes about promoting diversity, his record on inclusiveness does not match his word. He has not appointed Arab Americans to high positions in his administration, although our community has qualified individuals whose expertise can contribute to the state in any field. In contrast, in an interview with The Arab American News in July, Schauer pledged to include Arab Americans in his administration.
"I'm going to make sure that my administration looks like the people of our state. I will have members of the Arab American and Muslim community that comprise the leadership within my administration," Schauer said. He repeated this promise at the AAPAC dinner last week and at a reception at the Arab American National Museum on Monday.


Two Columns Worth Reading

mLive has a pair of political columns worth some cogitation today:
Susan Demas declares, rightly, that election of Mark Schauer will mean repeal of the hated Snyder Pension Tax. The reason is simple: Republicans instinctively vote for tax cuts, and Democrats instinctively stand up for middle-class families. Repealing the pension tax fits both agenda.
(Demas also reports on her own family tax situation, noting that she and her husband both own small businesses ... and had a net tax increase despite the Snyder business tax cuts. More importantly, neither of them has expanded their business because of the Snyder agenda.)
Timothy Coulson Skubick proclaims that the election may have already been decided – by absentee ballots. Since Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson has made reducing the normal mid-term-election dropoff by Democrats his organizational priority, that's a pretty reasonable assumption. And even GOP consultant Matt Marsden sees potential good news for Dems with high rates of AV ballots coming in from seniors and women which could be bad news for the governor who has, some believe, a slight problem with senior voters who don’t much like his pension tax. (O
f course The Curmudgeon Family has sent in its ballots which consist of one senior and two women...!)

Another Great Column...

...by Michigan Public Radio's Lester Graham
analyzes the "Michigan Comeback" that Rick Snyder proclaims is the result of his policies.
The reality, Graham reports, is that Michigan's modest recovery from the depths of the Great Recession began in the last 18 months of the Granholm administration and continued into the Snyder administration. Tellingly, the recovery slowed down each year of the Snyder term.
Graham interviewed Don Grimes, who says virtually all of Michigan's recovery is the result of the national (Obama) recovery and the resurgence of the auto industry (with GM's recovery the result of the Obama bailout).
"You're probably looking at about a 10,000 to 15,000 job gain each year that cannot be explained by the national economic growth or cannot be explained by the strong performance of the auto industry. And that's sort of a maximum that Governor Snyder can be really claiming...", Grimes told Graham.
And during the Snyder "Comeback" Michigan's household income has continued to drop. It's down 13% (not adjusted for inflation) from the peak in 2006.

Today in Ebola

The daily update on how the Obama administration has put us all at risk with the incredibly incompetent handling of the ebola threat. As any viewer of cable news can tell you, WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!!!!!!
  • Number of Americans being treated for Ebola: 1 (unchanged from yesterday)
  • Number of Americans who have died from Ebola: 0 (unchanged)
  • Number of people, other than medical professionals treating Ebola patients, who became infected: 0 (unchanged)
  • Number of ignorant Governors ignoring science to lock up American citizens: 10 (unchanged)
  • Number of Africans who may die because healthcare workers don't want to subject themselves to mandatory quarantines: unknown, but probably a lot
Clearly the CDC, NIH and Obama White House continue to mangle the government's response to this health menace.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thursday's Michigan PoliLinks

Twas the day before Halloween, and The Curmudgeon is fighting the urge to preview some of the candy stocked up for the panhandlers who go door-to-door rather than stand with signs at intersections. 


Today in Polling

EPIC/MRA, a really good non-partisan polling outfit, has consistently shown Rick Snyder leading Mark Schauer by larger margins than most other polls. But the latest from EPIC/MRA shows a statistical dead heat. In other words, the numbers are shifting in Schauer's favor.
The trend lines are pointing up for Mark Schauer
The poll, conducted for several media outlets, shows a 45-43 Snyder lead which is well within the margin of error. (Snyder has an 8-point lead in last week's EPIC/MRA poll.)
More significantly the undecided voters lean 8%-to-1% in favor of Schauer, with 3% saying they'll vote for third-party candidates. Pollster Bernie Porn says factoring in the "leaners" makes the race a 46-46 tie.
In the other races, Republicans Bill Schuette and Ruth Johnson have leads but neither has support of 50% of voters. Schuette leads Mark Totten for Attorney General 47-35%, Ruth Johnson holds a 41-37% lead over Godfrey Dillard for Secretary of State.
The key to the Schauer surge is the Democratic Party's highly organized get-out-the-vote effort.
"This is going to change the way we practice politics in Michigan forever," chairman Lon Johnson told the Detroit Free Press. And the paper reports metro-area clerks are seeing increases in people seeking absentee ballots. In Detroit, the A/V vote in 2014 could be nearly double that of 2010, with City Clerk Janice Winfrey predicting total voter turnout will increase by one-third from 2010.
An informal survey of mid-Michigan clerks in highly Democratic Ingham County by The Curmudgeon also indicated a higher-than-usual turnout for a mid-term election, with A/V ballot applications up significantly.

The Rout Continues

Why is this woman smiling? Really!
Gary Peters now leads "I'm a Mom" Land by 15 points according to EPIC/MRA. The woman is so clueless she just dumped another $650,000 of her own (husband's) money into the campaign. Michigan television stations should be pleased; hubby Daniel Hibma not so much.
Land has proven so pathetic a candidate that even the Detroit News, a bastion of Republicanism, was forced to endorse Gary Peters yesterday. "Land came into this race unprepared and never caught up... Still, we could forgive (her) ... if Land were better versed on the issues."

House GOP Candidates: Lots of Lies

Multiple Republican candidates for the state House are running broadcast ads which, according to the House Democratic Campaign Committee, contain out-and-out lies. 
One of the broadcast lies has been pulled from Lansing-area radio stations. It's in the most hotly contested race in the state: Eaton County's 71st district, where Republican Tom Barrett lied by charging Rep. Theresa Abed with missing up to one-quarter of the meetings of the House Education Committee. Abed actually had a perfect attendance record. (Barrett's campaign has received substantial support from the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity to help spread his false claims.)
Similar lies are being used in campaign ads against Representatives Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) and Collene Lamonte (D-Muskegon).
House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel charges that "House Republicans are apparently so scared of losing this contest of ideas that they are willing to lie to voters in order to sway the election. The people of Michigan have the right to the truth, so that they can decide what’s best for our state.”
Other Republican low-lights from the campaign:
House Republicans and their candidates have done the following:
  • Lied to media group MLive about a drunk driving conviction: Candidate Brandt Iden (61st House District) lied when he told MLive he had never been convicted of a crime. He was convicted of driving while intoxicated and sentenced to 180 days of probation.
  • Lied to MLive about an open container in a vehicle conviction: Rep. Kevin Cotter (99th House District) lied when he told MLive he had never been convicted of a crime. He pled guilty to having open intoxicants in a vehicle and paid a $255 fine.
  • Lied to MLive about paying taxes: Candidate Jason Sheppard (56th House District) lied when he said he paid all his taxes on time. He amassed a $4,693 property tax debt on a second house that was only paid as MLive prepared to do a story about the debt.
  • Urged voters to harass a woman in hospice care. A mailer for Iden urged voters to call a phone number to talk to Democratic candidate John Fisher about the Affordable Care Act. The number rang through to Fisher’s mother, who is in hospice care.

The Cost of a Newspaper Endorsement

What's the cost for a newspaper endorsement? It would appear that, in the case of the Michigan Chronicle, the price is $5-million. Zenobia Jeffries of Michigan Citizen reported a year ago that the Chronicle received a $4.1-million advertising contract, plus another $900,000 contact, from Detroit Emergency Manager Kevin Orr back in August of 2013. Since that time the paper has played nice with both Orr and the whole idea of an Emergency Manager.
This week the newspaper, which historically has fought for minority empowerment and mostly endorsed Democrats, issued a tepid call to reelect the man who recruited and appointed Kevin Orr: Rick Snyder.
The ad contract was big enough to allow multi-page ads in the weekly paper for a full year. The second contract goes towards building new office space for the paper's parent company. It isn't the first time the paper has received massive government largesse. It also got a $7.5-million deal from the criminal enterprise that was Kwame Kilpatrick.
The newspaper, which targets an African-American audience, ignored in its editorial the fact that the Snyder Emergency Manager law has resulted in more than half of Michigan's black population living under local dictators in cities where democratic rule has been suspended.

The Comeback State? Try "Bottom Ten"

A stunning new report from Lou Glazer at Michigan Future makes the case pretty clearly: calling Michigan the "Comeback State" is mostly political malarkey. Michigan is in the BOTTOM TEN when it comes to per capita income that does not come from the government, 18% below the national average, and last among the Great Lakes states.
There used to be a time when Michigan flourished during good times nationally because of our dominance in automobile manufacturing. Those days, says Glazer, are "long gone."
Michigan doesn't just rank low when it comes to income. We're also near the bottom in adults working, the number of unemployed, wages, proportion of citizens in poverty, proportion of children in poverty, education attainment, K-12 education outcomes and other measures of child well-being.
So when you see Tweets from the Michigan Republican Party with the hashtag #ComebackState, or you a campaign bus tour labeled the "Comeback State Bus Tour," think #PartisanBullshit.

New Court Effort to Overturn "Right to Work" Law

Motions filed yesterday by the ACLU allege that the infamous lame-duck enactment of the "Right to Work (for Less)" law – you know, the one that wasn't on Snyder's agenda – was done in violation of Michigan's Open Meetings law, and thus must be overturned.
Thousands of demonstrators swarmed the Capital to protest
"Right to Work" legislation ... until they were locked out of
the building at the order of GOP leaders
The original lawsuit was filed in 2013 on behalf of two Democratic state representatives and multiple labor unions. Wednesday's motion cites e-mails, text messages and sworn depositions in challenging the enactment.
One of the emails quoted in the motion relates to the stacking of the public gallery of the House to keep protesters out:
The House is having Republican staff report to the House gallery for the day – something to consider for our side wrote Senate GOP Policy Director Peter Langley. Multiple emails and texts from House Republican staffers back up the contention of packing the gallery with partisan shills to keep the public out.

Voter Suppression, Part 17

When everyone votes, Democrats more-often-than-not win. At least, that appears to be the belief of Republican officials in a bunch of states that they managed to takeover during the 2010 electoral massacre.
So they do everything they can to make sure people more likely to vote for Democrats don't (or cannot) vote: restrictive voter ID laws, reducing voting hours, ginning up long lines by reducing the number of polling places, and ... as  last resort ... voter purges.
Al Jazeera America which, in the opinion of The Curmudgeon, is by far the best cable news network, has conducted a wide-ranging investigation into that last method. 27 states are using some thinly veiled race-based systems to strip hundreds-of-thousands of people of their right to vote.
They use a database from "Interstate Crosscheck" which matches names on registration lists in multiple states. The claim is that the system has come up with 7-million people who have voted in multiple states. That includes one out of every seven African-American voters in the 27 states.
The problem is that the error rate for "matches" is high. If you have a common name, you can be tagged just because someone else has the same name.
(The Curmudgeon has a unique name - Walter Sorg - yet a database check several years ago found two other Walter Sorgs in Ohio and Maryland. The latter was my dad ... and I still get political mail intended for him.)
After lots of trying, three of the states finally gave the network their lists of "suspect" voters.
It is no surprise that Al Jazeera America discovered that a lot of the lists focused on people with surnames like Jackson, Garcia, Patel and Kim: names common among minorities that vote overwhelmingly for Democrats.
Names are only supposed to be flagged if there is an exact match of full name (first, middle initial, last), dates of birth, and the last four digits of the Social Security. But what AJA found was
the actual lists show that not only are middle names commonly mismatched and suffix discrepancies ignored, even birthdates don’t seem to have been taken into account. Moreover, Crosscheck deliberately ignores Social Security mismatches, in the few instances when the numbers are even collected. The Crosscheck instructions for county election officers state, “Social Security numbers are included for verification; the numbers might or might not match.”
This, friends, is about rigging elections.
Thankfully, Michigan does not participate in this election-rigging scheme. Yet.

Today in Ebola

The daily update on how the Obama administration has put us all at risk with the incredibly incompetent handling of the ebola threat. As any viewer of cable news can tell you, WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!!!!!!
  • Number of Americans being treated for Ebola: 1 (unchanged from yesterday)
  • Number of Americans who have died from Ebola: 0 (unchanged)
  • Number of people, other than medical professionals treating Ebola patients, who became infected: 0 (unchanged)
  • Number of Governors ignoring science to lock up American citizens: too many (unchanged)
Clearly the CDC, NIH and Obama White House continue to mangle the government's response to this health menace.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wednesday Michigan PoliLinks

Just six days until D-Day ... and the final arguments are being made by the candidates and (more importantly) by the dark-money-funded "independent" PACs who are so desperate to buy our votes. The Curmudgeon will be watching HBO and listening to Sirius/XM for the next few days....

Corporate underwriting works for NASCAR –
and it's working for the GOP, too.
Thanks to Progress Michigan for the art!
Snyder Claims of Increasing K-12 Spending Ignores the Realities of the Classroom

This ad makes it very clear: Snyder's claim of increased K-12 funding is true to an accountant, but rings hollow to people in the classrooms of public schools. The American Federation of Teachers says it very clearly in this up-to-election-day TV ad.


Schuette Campaign: It Lies About Totten, Exaggerates Schuette's Accomplishments

The Michigan Truth Squad has thrown a rare double-foul against Bill "On Duty" Schuette: a foul both for what he says about his opponent's record, and a foul for what he says about his own record.
Mark Totten being sworn in as an
Asst. U.S. Attorney by Donald Davis
First, the claim that Mark Totten "never was a real (federal) prosecutor. He was a volunteer in the office. One day a week. Only on Fridays. For a little over a year."
Whistle! Flagrant Foul, Center for Public Integrity. 15 yards for pure bullshit.
The guy who was the U.S. Attorney in Grand Rapids at the time, Donald Davis, has publicly stated that Totten held the title of Special Assistant U.S. Attorney and "as such was a federal prosecutor."
Second, a Schuette ad implying he was responsible for putting "a thousand new cops" on the street to enforce increased mandatory minimum prison sentences for repeat violent offenders.
Whistle! Warning! Five years for claiming something that didn't happen. While Schuette did, in fact, call for more cops, the increase never happened. Actually the number of police officers has dropped during Schuette's tenure by more than 1,000 (about 5%).

Throwing Good Money After Bad

Silent Terri Lynn Land has been consistently silent about damned near everything, especially her own finances. The legally required federal financial disclosure forms show she doesn't have nearly enough money or assets to dump $3-million into her own campaign. Yes, her husband has that kind of loose change, but it is illegal for him to donate unlimited sums of money. But Silent Terri has been silent on this issue, letting hisher money do the talking for her.
Now we learn she's dumping another $650,000 of "her own money" into the campaign even though she has filed a federal form claiming she doesn't have $650,000.
And the crazy part is that she's going to lose. Polling shows her numbers going south. Quickly.
She's either delusional or is trying to settle some unknown score with her husband.
But don't expect any investigation into her apparent lies about finances, or what appears to be her husband's illegal campaign contributions. Millionaires generally don't have to obey the law, because they are job providers and they are special.

Don't Tell the Tea Party, But Calley is an Ivy League Elitist

The Lieutenant Governor of Michigan has two official jobs: check daily to make sure the Governor hasn't died, and preside over the Senate.
Brian Calley has performed the former very well. But he's been a little derelict on the latter, missing one-third of state Senate session days. Seems he's been improving his mind by studying at that bastion of liberal thought, Harvard. At the JOHN F. KENNEDY School of Government, no less. Apparently the GERALD R. FORD School of Political Science at the University of Michigan wasn't good enough for him.
Other than missing a lot of work, there doesn't appear to be anything wrong here. Calley pays his own tuition and transportation, and doesn't take a state police guard with him.
He isn't the first prominent politician to combine higher education with elected office. As a state Representative, John Engler attended Cooley Law School and ultimately became a lawyer. Of course, the Cooley campus is two blocks from the Capital and Engler took night classes.
The Free Press notes that Mark Schauer took college (night) classes while working in the Calhoun County planning department, and more night classes at MSU while head of a non-profit agency in Battle Creek. Not the same thing, of course, since Schauer took night classes, and the latter job wasn't with the government. But it was important for the paper to pretend they were equivalent to show their "fairness" when it is, in fact, a false equivalency.

Why Fred Upton is Sweating

Dr. Paul Clements holds degrees from
Harvard (B.A.) and Princeton (M.A., Ph.D.)
The increasingly conservative west Michigan congresscritter has never had to battle hard to win reelection ... until now. Upton's path to a 10th term in Congress faces a real roadblock: Paul Clements. A new poll commissioned by the Clements campaign shows him within the margin of error: down 4%. (Sample size 400, margin of error 4.9%.)
The closest anyone has come to Upton in recent elections was 2012 when he beat Democrat Mike O'Brien by "only" 11 points. Upton has polled under 60% only twice, and that was before his district was gerrymandered for maximum comfort on 2011. 
The poll shows Clements may be helped by Gary Peters, who is trouncing Terri Lynn Land 48-39 in the normally red district (which was carried by Willard Romney in 2012). And Rick Snyder's lead over Mark Schauer in the district is just 50-43.
Clements is being helped as well by the MayDay PAC, a group with the sole mission of fighting big-money from special interests. It has targeted a small number of Congressmen who are especially beholden to PACs, including Upton who has taken $1.25-million in contributions from polluters including oil and gas companies, and fought against environmental crackdowns impacting those industries. He has also benefited mightily from contributions of the insurance industry which, in turn, would profit by converting Medicare into a privatized voucher system ... something championed by the Whirlpool heir.
MayDay PAC has already spent $1.25 million on Clements' behalf, and announced it will spend another $650,000 into the race this week. 

Ad Watch

Today we see the latest from another congressional race that could be a Democratic pickup: the 11th district, where Bobby McKenzie is taking on Foreclosure King Multi-Millionaire David Trott. Trott's ruthless path to wealth is the subject of McKenzie's ad



UPDATE: The attacks on the Foreclosure King were reviewed by the Michigan Truth Squad which decided "no foul."

Weather Matters

The Curmudgeon's father, an activist Republican in Illinois, always used to hope for bad weather on Election Day because that meant a lower turnout ... and lower turnout, even back in the '60s, was good news for Republicans. (Some things never change!).
So the long-range forecast for next week in metro Detroit is good news for Republicans, but not great: showers, temperatures in the 50's. The GOP would prefer freezing rain and temps around 20. Makes it harder for those "urban" voters lacking cars to get to the polls, and makes standing in line outside much less enjoyable.

Details of Saturday's Obama Campaign Visit

President Obama will campaign on behalf of Mark Schauer and Gary Peters at Wayne State University in Detroit on Saturday:
Doors at the Matthaei Physical Education Center, 5101 John C. Lodge will open at 4 p.m. Free tickets are required, and can be picked up beginning today (Wednesday) at 5:00 PM at Michigan Democratic Party Coordinated Offices across the Greater Detroit area:
  • Detroit Eastside: 17243 Mack Ave., Detroit
  • Canton: 7309 Lilley Rd., Canton
  • Detroit Livernois: 18409 Livernois Ave., Detroit
  • Southfield: 17100 W. Twelve Mile Rd., Lower Level, Southfield
  • Pontiac: 4 N. Saginaw, 2nd Floor, Pontiac
  • Dearborn: 23918 Cherry Hill St., Dearborn
  • Ann Arbor: 3810 Packard Rd., Suite 230, Ann Arbor
  • Brownstown: 18708 Telegraph Rd., Suite C7, Brownstown
  • Warren: 29136 Ryan Rd., Warren
  • Lansing: 2842 E. Grand River Ave., East Lansing 

Today in GOP Economic History

October 29 is the anniversary of Black Tuesday, the crash of the New York Stock Exchange which triggered the Great Recession. It was the result of a decade of non-existent government oversight of the financial industry. The market expanded during the '20s as investors speculated more and more, convinced that the only direction for stock prices was "up." That's called "free-market" or "Republican" economic theory.
Economists will tell you it is no coincidence that the second-worst economic recession of the last hundred years – the Great Recession of 2008 – was also caused by a decade "free-market" policy that continually reduced government oversight of the financial industry.
And it is no coincidence that the two greatest economic disasters of the last 100 years came under Republican presidents: Herbert Hoover and George W. Bush. And the recoveries came under Democrats: FDR, and Barack Obama.
Just sayin...

Today is also a happier anniversary: 16 years ago, national hero John Glenn became the oldest person in history to go into space (age 77). At age
93, Senator (and onetime presidential candidate) Glenn is the last living Mercury 7 astronaut.

Today in Ebola

The Curmudgeon is launching a daily update on how the Obama administration has put us all at risk with the incredibly incompetent handling of the ebola threat. As any viewer of cable news can tell you, WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!!!!!!
  • Number of Americans being treated for Ebola: 1
  • Number of Americans who have died from Ebola: 0
  • Number of people, other than medical professionals treating Ebola patients, who became infected: 0
  • Number of Governors ignoring science to lock up American citizens: too many
Clearly the CDC, NIH and Obama White House have lost control of this health menace.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday Michigan PoliLinks

The charges and counter-charges are flying fast and furious. It's like Top Gun for political geeks – and reality is as upside-down as that Russian jet that Viper stared down. Welcome to the last week of campaigning. (And if you happen to own a TV station, congratulations on the windfall!)


Maggots

A lot of voters have short memories. Progress Michigan is making sure people get reminded about the incredible mess created in our prisons by the privatization zeal of The Accountant in Chief who continues to "work with Aramark".



Totten: Experience vs. Partisan Crusades

The new Mark Totten TV ad goes to the heart of the campaign: it pits an experienced, capable prosecutor who focuses on protecting Michigan's citizens against a career politician who uses his office for Quixotic political lawsuits.

“This ad points to the core issue of this race,” said John Keig, Totten's campaign manager, “The voters of Michigan have a clear choice between a candidate with a proven record of serving the public and keeping them safe, or a politician using this office to pursue his own right-wing agenda.”
In the ad, Totten highlights two examples from his time as a federal prosecutor that have kept Michigan families safe and helped give victims justice. Mark helped put away Timothy Sims, convicted of trying produce child pornography, and Eric Wendlandt, who ran a fraudulent scheme stealing from seniors and families.
This is sharply contrasted with Bill Schuette's work on the Hobby Lobby case to deny women access to contraception and his lawsuit against the federal government that could raise taxes on half a million Michigan families by $5,000. The ad concludes with Totten asking “His experience or mine? You decide.”
One week out from Election Day, recent polls have shown that Bill Schuette has been unable to earn the support of more than 45% of voters, let alone a clear majority. Having that little support is remarkable for an incumbent, and often attributed to Schuette's prominent focus on cases that score political points with the far right of his party.



Polls 'R' Us

The latest Detroit News polls:
Gary Peters locking up what could become a landslide victory over What's Her Name the Mom, with a 15-point lead (48-33%) but with 12% undecided just a week out (7% of those polled selected a third-party candidate). The margin of error is ±4%. Peters picks up the support of 23% self-identified Republicans, and a 23-point lead among independents.
Mark Schauer trailing Rick Snyder 45-40%. Schauer holds a six-point lead among seniors, a group that typically turns out in high numbers. 10% remain undecided: 30% of them Democrats, 52% independents. Undecided voters generally break in favor of the challenger.
Mark Totten is closing in on Bill "On Duty" Schuette. Totten, unknown to virtually all voters a few months ago, trails the 30-year career politician by just four points (38-34%) with 21% undecided.
Godfrey Dillard trails incumbent Ruth Johnson 41-33% for Secretary of State, with 22% undecided.
Meanwhile, the latest Rasmussen polls show the gubernatorial race within the margin of error (49-46% Snyder), and Peters ahead of Land 51-42%. The Rasmussen poll of 1,000 likely voters was conducted October 20-22.

GET OUT THE VOTE

The big unknown remains voter turnout. Early indications are for higher-than-normal absentee voting, with a significant number of A/V voters low-frequency voters. That group generally leans heavily Democratic.
Michigan Democratic Party chair Lon Johnson has placed huge resources into getting Democrats to the polls in numbers approaching the turnout that gave Barack Obama a 10-point victory over Mitt Romney in 2012. A big part of the strategy is neighbor-to-neighbor contact.
This week, thousands of party members are receiving lists of 10 neighbors to contact. The 10 have been identified as likely Democratic voters who voted in 2012 but did not vote in 2010. Included in the package are flyers denouncing the conservative agenda's impact on Michigan.


Rigging the Presidential Election

If you can't win by following the rules, change the rules. That's the operating philosophy of the Republican Party. Voter suppression is a part of the plan: make it tougher for seniors, urban dwellers and college students to vote.
Gerrymandering is another tactic: since they control state government, they were able to draw legislative and congressional districts in a way that gives them the ability to get fewer votes but still win more elections. In 2012, Democrats received 54% of the votes for the state House of Representatives (to 46% for Republicans), but Republicans won 54% of the elections (59-51 majority). In the vote for Congress, Democrats won the popular vote 50.3%-46.2%, but Republicans won 9 out of 14 races (64-36%). That's legalized fixing of elections.
Another way to rig elections will likely be enacted in the "lame duck" session. Instead of awarding all of Michigan's 16 electoral votes to the candidate who gets the most vote, Republicans will award electoral votes district-by-district (with 2 votes going to the overall winner).
In 2012, Barack Obama won Michigan 55-45% (450,000 vote margin) over Mitt Romney. But had the GOP plan been in effect, Romney would have received nine electoral votes to Obama's seven. Why? Because the congressional districts are rigged to let Republicans win even when they lose.
Susan J. Demas' column today in mLive talks about this latest election rigging, and the impact it will have on Michigan's influence in the 2016 presidential race. It isn't a pretty story.

The Rise of the Gray Wolf

The Legislature did everything it could to take away our right to vote on the issue, but there are TWO ballot proposals relating to hunting of the once-endangered species.
Here is the most important thing to know: the ballot language is confusing. If you oppose allowing the Legislature and appointed DNR to approve wolf-hunting for the sheer fun of killing the animals, vote NO on both proposals.
Now, pro-hunting types will say that language is prejudiced against "sportsmen." 
No. 
To me, a sportsperson is someone who hunts for either 1) food (think venison), or 2) to control a significant nuisance (think rodents).
It is has always been legal to hunt wolves that are killing livestock or pets, or that pose a threat to humans. That's not the issue. And you don't eat wolf meat. A limited wolf hunt won't have an impact on the economy. So shooting an animal that isn't posing a threat is hunting for the fun of killing the animal.
The story of the recovery of the wolf population is complicated, much more complicated than the simplistic (and generally false) claims of wolf-hunting proponents. Two years ago, Lansing State Journal reporting Louise Knott Ahern wrote an outstanding extended story on the gray wolf's history in Michigan.
It is well worth the read.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday Michigan PoliLinks

As The Curmudgeon rejoices in the ability of the Ann Arbor football team to actually score a touchdown against the East Lansing football team, we ponder the weekend's finest from the internet and beyond...

The Endorsement That Isn't
The Detroit Free Press, in Sunday's lead editorial, says it supports the reelection of Rick Snyder as Governor.
And then it devotes the rest of the editorial to building a case for why Snyder shouldn't be reelected. A few direct quotes from the "endorsement":
 ...caving to radical elements of the GOP-led Legislature, (and) going back on his word about transparency
...balanced the budget at the expense of cities and school districts
...deficiencies as a deal-maker have sometimes resulted in terrible consequences for Michiganders
...Snyder's move to eliminate or pare back most tax credits hit middle- and low-income earners hard. Overall, individuals pay about $900-million more each year than they did before Snyder was governor.
...If Snyder's (economic reform) scheme had jump-started job creation the way he predicted, there'd be little to criticize today. But each year since the new tax system has been in place, Michigan has added fewer and fewer jobs...
...Snyder's tax structure badly needs alteration. 
...When it comes to education, Snyder just doesn't seem to get it.
...Snyder...has failed to propose a plan to substantively increase our state's (college) degreed ranks.
...Michigan, during Snyder's tenure, has become a less tolerant state – with more restrictions on reproductive rights and fewer labor protections.
...Snyder's self-fashioned profile as a champion of transparency has become a joke.
...The governor's record of protecting Michigan's natural assets is pretty sorry...
...The governor's leadership failures include his inability so far, to get a roads package through the Legislature, and his many refusals to stand up to his own party when its instincts run to the politically obnoxious or vindictive.
The endorsement really is about three issues:
  • The Freep thinks the pension tax is a swell idea.
  • Snyder's role in reshaping the finances of Detroit. Yes, he did it by suspending democracy and installing a state-appointed dictator. But it worked, and the ends always justify the means (at least, in the minds of the Free Press editorial board members).
  • Republicans will definitely continue to control at least one house of the Legislature, so electing Schauer would lead to gridlock. (If that's the argument, why bother electing a Governor? We should have a parliamentary system instead.)
If this is a Governor the newspaper thinks should continue to guide this state, Michigan is in big, big trouble.

Another Day, Another Poll

The latest is from CBS News/YouGov.com. It shows
  • Mark Schauer leading Rick Snyder 41-40% (within the margin of error) (with leaners split 4-4%, and 11% undecided)
  • Gary Peters leading What's Her Name 45-38%, with leaners 4-3% for Peters.
The most interesting findings of this poll is that Schauer leads Snyder among self-identified "moderates" 44-32%; Peters swamps Land 56-26% among moderates.

Hell Freezes Over - Livingston County Edition

The oh-so-conservative Livingston County Press endorses Democrats about as often as University of North Carolina athletes go to class. Well, not quite that rare, but you get the idea.
The paper is true to tradition this cycle, endorsing the entire Republican ticket...
EXCEPT...
the paper urges the election of Eric Schertzing to Congress. The Curmudgeon doesn't think all that much of newspaper endorsements, but this one could be important.
The voters of Livingston County are the "swing" voters in the 8th Congressional District. East Lansing's Eric Schertzing will easily sweep Ingham County, and Rochester's Mike "The Obstructionist" Bishop should carry the well-gerrymandered portion of his home count (Oakland) that is in the district. 
So the low-information voters in Livingston may well turn to their newspaper for a little guidance in a race between two guys they don't know.
The reason for the endorsement?
It could have easily been Bishop's role as Senate Majority Leader in shutting down Michigan government twice, or his non-stop obstructionism which only served to make things worse during Michigan's "lost decade". It could be his obsequiese subservience to Ambassador Bridge millionaire Matty Maroun, with Bishop leading the charge in the Legislature to scuttle the much-needed new International Bridge Crossing between Detroit and Windsor. But it isn't.
The issue is his promises to "repeal" Obamacare (ain't gonna happen), and what that signals:
To make the repeal of the Affordable Care Act the top priority would be to continue the political gridlock that has paralyzed Washington for another two years. It's time to move on.
The paper points to Schertzing's unflagging support for Social Security and Medicare, "programs that many in the district rely on and would be impoverished if they had to do without That is a much more worthy goal."
The paper also cites Schertzing's level-headed resume of public service, leadership with creation of the highly successful Ingham County Land Bank, and support for the International Trade Crossing Bridge.
Throughout the campaign it has been clear that Eric Schertzing is a pragmatic public servant who is focused on getting things done, while Mike Bishop is a right-wing ideologue focused on stopping things from getting done. And, despite clame>ims of the Detroit Free Press in its editorial page Sunday, the 8th District is only marginally Republican (Obama carried it in 2008, 52-46).

We're All Going to Die

Republicans (and some Democrats, like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo) and the cable networks are having a pre-election orgy of doomsaying and fear-mongering over ebola. Let's get real for just a moment.
To date no American has died of ebola. The only persons who have caught the disease in the United States are healthcare workers who have treated Ebola patients. Nobody on the outside of the healthcare bubble has been infected, including the relatives of Thomas Eric Duncan who lived with him just before he was readmitted to the hospital.
Yes, it is a horrible disease if you catch it. But you ain't gonna catch it unless 1) you are a careless caregiver, or 2) you travel to Liberia
Before we get our panties in a bunch, we should put it in context. In an average U.S. day:
  • 30 people die of gunshot wounds
  • 1, 634 will die of heart disease (much of it preventable)
  • 1,580 will die of cancer (often curable if diagnosed early)
  • 233 will die of Alzheimer's disease
  • 202 will die of diabetes (often preventable)
  • 147 will die of the flu or pneumonia
  • 108 will intentionally kill themselves
  • 65 infants will die (we have one of the highest infant mortality rates in the developed world)
  • NOBODY dies of ebola
    (Source: Centers for Disease Control)
Remember the swine flu? SARS? Those were two diseases that put us in a panic. The epidemics never happened, because our public health system works pretty well. Still does.
I'll put a lot more trust in the public health professionals in the CDC and NIH than I will in pandering politicians like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.

Snyder Transforms Executive Residence to a Club House

The Governor's official residence was donated to the state during the Milliken administration. The Blanchard, Engler and Granholm families all lived (and worked) there. The Curmudgeon spent many evenings at the residence as a part of the Blanchard economic development team at what we recognized as working receptions. And all governors have used the residence for political entertaining.
But it was first-and-foremost the home for the First Family. It was expanded by both the Blanchards and Englers to make it a little more workable for a family with kids, setting up a family-only section which provided some level of privacy to the spouses and children. The kitchen was also converted from upscale residential to commercial-grade in recognition of all the entertaining conducted at the residence. All of the improvements were funded by donations.
Rick Snyder considered moving to the 8,700-square-foot home slumming, so he commutes from his Ann Arbor mansion which offers more privacy and (probably) more luxurious surroundings. It also allows his children to continue to attend their pricey private schools in Ann Arbor rather than transferring to Lansing-area public schools. (Jamie Blanchard attended Okemos High School; the Granholm/Mulhern kids enrolled in East Lansing public schools; the Engler twins were pre-school during Dad's reign.)
Common Cause of Michigan has raised some red flags over a new "best practice" from our Accountant in Chief: loaning out the state's home to private groups, including lobby groups and (certain) political parties.
Mind you, there is no rental fee. Donations to the tax-exempt foundation which maintains the house are encouraged. Says Snyder's mouthpiece, Sara Wurfel, told Free Press reporter Kathleen Gray the groups "may offer donations" for the use of the most exclusive home in Lansing.

Today in the Ad Wars

The latest TV ad supporting Mark Schauer for Governor, from the Michigan Democratic Party, hones in on the Snyder tax record: higher taxes on seniors, lower taxes for businesses, sweetheart deals for family and friends.


Taking Big Money Out of Politics

MayDay PAC is devoted to one issue: reforming our campaign finance system in hopes that the billionaires (and richer millionaires) will let us common folk control our elections and elected officials again.
As part of the effort, it sponsored a competition for production of a TV ad exemplifying the organization's goals, as well as a candidate-specific spot. Sadly, the latter competition winner is not a supporter of Paul Clements (endorsed in his battle with Whirlpool heir Fred Upton) ...but both spots are pretty good.




Friday, October 24, 2014

Totten Call Shadow Political Group's TV Ads a Lie


Bill Schuette's campaign strategy seems to be based on two tactics:
  1. Lie about his opponent's qualifications, and
  2. Lie about his own achievements

Earlier this week a federal judge said Schuette was missing-in-action on fighting human trafficking, even though Schuette is carpet-bombing Michigan TV with an ad praising him for a fight he did not wage.

Today, Mark Totten's campaign called on TV stations around Michigan to take down an advertisement paid for by the shadowy Michigan Advocacy Trust, a dark money group funded by unknown sources. The ad lies about Totten's experience as a federal prosecutor, taking its lead from Bill Schuette's desperate attempts to direct the narrative away from his career of pursuing right-wing crusades that leave everyone less safe.

“These lies show just how desperate Bill Schuette and his shadowy right-wing friends have become,” campaign manager John Keig said in a statement, “Because poll after poll shows that afters 30 years in office, Bill Schuette can't get a majority of Michiganders willing to vote for him. They will try anything, and they are willing to lie in the process.”

The ad lies by saying Totten was not a “real” prosecutor, when former U.S. Attorney Don Davis previously said in very clear terms that Mark Totten was a federal prosecutor. (Gongwer, 9/26/14) The ad also claims that Mark Totten never handled a criminal case, but his arguments before the United States 6th Circuit are also on the public record. (U.S. v. Sanford, 2012; U.S. v. Woods, 2013; U.S. v. Sims, 2013; U.S. v. Young, 2012)

In addition to these established facts, Donald A. Davis, former United States Attorney also released a statement today reiterating his previous remarks: “Mark Totten served as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, and as such was a federal prosecutor. He performed at a high-level, like all our attorneys, and handled the challenging cases assigned to him well.”

The Michigan Advocacy Trust is a 527 group, meaning that it does not disclose its donors. It is run by Richard McClellan, secretary of the board of directors for the extreme, right-wing Mackinac Center. The MAT spent lavishly on Bill Schuette's first run for attorney general, and has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars from undisclosed sources for ads this cycle.

Mark Totten has been endorsed by over thirty top law-enforcement officials across the state. In addition, he has been endorsed by the Michigan Association of Police and the Police Officers Labor Council, representing thousands of uniformed officers.

Go Green - MichiganState PoliLinks

The Curmudgeon is getting geeked for a big weekend of partying in East Lansing and environs - including a week-early Halloween bash where the spirits will be drinking spirits. Yummmm!

Obama Campaigns Here on November 1

The President will campaign in the Detroit area on behalf of the entire ticket. His mission: motivate the base vote in southeast Michigan. If Democrats vote, Democrats win.
Details TBA. You can bet he'll draw a larger crowd than Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie combined.

Terri Lynn Land: Officially Toast

The gap keeps growing. Gary Peters now leads Silent Terri 53-39% in the latest PPP poll of 723 likely voters. The same poll shows an absolute dead heat for Governor: 48-48%.
TLL have proven to be her own biggest problem. The survey showed her a whopping -17% on favorability (35-52%). Peters was a +9 (45-36%).
Here's the most interesting takeaway from the poll: the survey is of likely voters, and they said they broke 51-43 for Barack Obama two years ago (an 8-point victory). The actual results were a 10-point Obama victory, which indicates the makeup of the 2014 electorate will be similar to 2012. If that happens, Democrats have a good shot at surprising the pundits up and down the ticket.

Schauer & Snyder: Tied

The same PPP poll shows it dead even in the race for Governor: 48-48%. It's all about getting out the vote.
it's also an indication that the most recent EPIC/MRA poll (showing Snyder with an 8-point lead) is probably an outlier. Every other recent poll has shown the race within the margin of error. (This conclusion gives The Curmudgeon great pain - the very competent people at EPIC/MRA are longtime friends and colleagues.)

Schuette Ignores Human Trafficking for 3 Years

Bill Schuette is running a TV ad praising the perpetual candidate for his crackdown on human trafficking. First of all, it would be malpractice to not crackdown on human trafficking ... so basically the ad says he's doing what he is supposed to do.
More significantly, he apparently isn't doing it very well. On Monday, a federal judge blasted Bill Schuette's lack of action for three years on this case. Schuette's office claimed they didn't know about it, despite the case being prominent in the media and involving the Michigan Department of Human Services.
  • Teachers first notified Children's Protective Services in 2009, and again in 2011, leading to the federal charges.
  • The federal government charged Toviave with forced labor, but an appeals court in August 2013 ruled that the crime was actually child abuse, and should have been prosecuted by the state. 
  • Despite putting the protection of abuse victims at the center of his re-election campaign, Schuette's office took no action until filing charges of child abuse yesterday.
Mark Totten has responded by calling out Schuette for being AWOL on the case:
“Bill Schuette had all the power he needed three years ago to protect these children and he refused to act. Instead, he has spent his time waging extreme political crusades like fighting to deny women coverage for contraception.  The fact that he's waiting until two weeks before an election to do something is political grandstanding at its worst.”

2014 GOP Strategy: Dodge Debates

We're seeing it in multiple races in Michigan and across the country: Republicans are so ashamed of their record and their ideas that they simply refuse to debate their Democratic opponents. 
Behind the scenes at the Republican State Convention
Just this week, Secretary of State candidate Godfrey Dillard faced an empty chair when Ruth Johnson refused to show up for a debate sponsored by the Michigan Election Coalition. (Dillard has been difficult, we concede, in agreeing to details of a joint visit with Tim Skubick which makes no sense at all - he's got nothing to lose.)
Yesterday we learned that Congressman Fred Upton is just too busy to compare his views with Bobby McKenzie, perhaps because he's actually worried about McKenzie's challenge.
Bill "On Duty" Schuette has been way too busy fighting marriage equality and relitigating the Affordable Care Act to have a debate with Mark Totten. 
Rick Snyder managed to carve out an entire hour to debate with Mark Schauer and has ducked anymore joint appearances, preferring instead to hold stage-managed "Town Hall" campaign rallies.
In the 8th Congressional District Mike Bishop, the man who orchestrated two shutdowns of Michigan state government, doesn't want to be in the same ZIP code as Eric Schertzing. He rather tell lies and half-truths in his TV ads.
Of course, we all know the saga of Silent Terri Lynn Land who avoids Gary Peters, reporters, and anybody who might ask her a question unrelated to sipping coffee.
And it's not just in Michigan. All across the country Republicans are afraid to debate ... because the more voters know about them, the less they like them.
The strategy is simple: if we aren't held accountable for our records and our positions, all the people will know is the crap we shovel at them in our high-priced TV ads. And since we have lots and lots of money, that's all we're going to do.
Cowards all, unworthy of the public trust.
Yes, another one. It reminds The Curmudgeon of the Four Tops' classic "Same Old Song".
A third Aramark prison food worker has been canned on suspicion of smuggling marijuana into a prison. One assumes it wasn't for medical purposes. The Michigan State Police are investigating.
Rick Snyder keeps saying privatizing is a great idea because the private sector does things more efficiently and effectively than the state. Here's the problem: the primary mission of private sector companies is to maximize profits for its shareholders. The primary mission of government is to serve the public, doing things well which really cannot profitable. Trying to turn many government functions into private industry profit-centers too often results in cutting corners. The companies skimp on staff pay, shave costs of materials/supplies by compromising on quality, or simply don't perform at the same level.
How else can they 1) make a profit, 2) pay the always higher management salaries, and 3) charge a price lower than the cost of doing the work with public employees?
Charter schools. Prison cafeterias. Privatization is a nice theory (like trickle-down economics), but it doesn't always work.

Michigan's Koch Connection

Thanks to OpenSecrets.org, we now know how much America's favorite billionaire brothers have invested to buy Michigan's support for their political/business agenda, things like the Keystone Pipeline, denying climate change, killing unions and all that good free-market stuff. Turns out virtually every Republican running for federal office (somehow the Foreclosure King, David Trott, didn't make the cut). And two retiring members, Dave Camp and Mike Rogers, each scored a contribution for campaigns they are not running:

  • Terri Lynn Land – $30,800
  • Justin Amash  – $5,000
  • Dan Benisheck – $10,000
  • Dave Camp – $5,000
  • Bill Huizenga – $5,000
  • Candice Miller – $2,500
  • John Moolenaar – $5,000
  • Mike Rogers – $1,000
  • Fred Upton – $11,000
  • Tim Walberg – $15,200


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Schauer Doubles Down on Snyder Class Warfare

The latest ad in the ongoing TV battle between Mark Schauer and The Comeback Kid One Tough Nerd The Accountant focuses on the issues that resonate most with middle-class voters: a tax shift from the wealthy to the rest of us, cuts in the classroom, a recovery only for the wealthy. It's sponsored by the Democratic Governors Association, and packs a wallop.

Thursday MI PoliLinks

Yup. The always creative Curmudgeon has come up with a spicy name for the daily posting of internet links: MI PoliLinks.
Of course this has absolutely nothing to do with the weekly Michigan PoliCast, a half-hour chat involving the Curmudgeon and two great ladies, Amy Kerr Hardin and Christine Barry. Purely coincidental.

No explanation needed
Another Aramark Mess: Raw Meat for Dinner

Governor Rick Snyder stands behind his decision to privatize prison food services, turning it over to the Philadelphia-based company Aramark. You see, Rick Snyder is a businessman, and he knows the private sector always does things better and more efficiently because government is inherently wasteful and evil and all that. Their laser-sharp focus on making big profits means they will spare no expense in doing the job right.
Except, time and time again, Aramark screws up.
Tonight's entree: undercooked chicken
The latest revelation: a fired Aramark prison food worker has filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA, stating she was canned for complaining about phony record-keeping practices and poor kitchen health and food safety standards.
She specifically claims that she was forced to serve meat that was raw or undercooked.
A company spokesperson told the Detroit Free Press the allegations are "another example in the long-running series of manufactured attacks against our company."

Snyder Shell Game Exposed

Yah, we've heard all the charges and counter-charges on funding for K-12 education in the state. Michigan Public Radio got to the bottom of the story with someone who, for years, was trusted by everyone in the Michigan House of Representatives to tell it straight: retired House Fiscal Agency Director Mitch Bean.
And Mitch says all the shuffling and rewriting of line items has allowed the Governor to basically hide cuts in support for K-12 classrooms that amounts to around $1-billion a year ... more than half of what was lost in the Snyder business tax cut.
Snyder is a CPA and, apparently, a really good one. Good CPAs can both reveal and hide the truth about finances (just ask any Hollywood star whose profit-participation in a movie never materialized thanks to accounting gimmicks).
You can listen to the interview here.

David Trott: Merchant of Misery

Lawyer David Trott made multiple millions of dollars evicting people from their homes. Working on behalf of oftentimes crooked, moral-free banks, Trott processed evictions. Sometimes he did it by cutting corners or forging signatures or misplacing critical paperwork, but he got the job done.
Now this protector of banks wants to represent the people he victimized ... and the other good souls of southern Oakland County ... in the U.S. Congress. Bobby McKenzie is making sure the voters know about the ethics, morals and priorities of his millionaire opponent with a stunning TV ad.

Mike Bishop: Bought and Paid For

Jack Lessenberry pulls no punches in recounting the history of former state Senate GOP Leader Mike Bishop, who fought tooth-and-nail against a new international bridge linking Detroit and Windsor. Virtually everybody who isn't on Ambassador Bridge billionaire Matty Maroun's payroll has supported the new bridge (how many times to the automakers, UAW, Detroit Chamber, AFL-CIO and Rick Snyder agree on a major issue?).
The Bridge Billionaire is good at writing checks if it
helps him get his way
The problem is that Bishop, as a senator and beyond, has been on the Maroun payroll through the legalized bribery of big-time campaign contributions.
Bishop, you may recall, was the obstructionist who triggered two shutdowns of state government to make a point. He didn't like Jennifer Granholm's budget proposals to tide Michigan over during the state recession and Bishop wanted to make that point. Both times, after a brief shutdown, Bishop finally was willing to build a compromise with the Governor.
Just what we need in Congress: an ideologue who can be bought with campaign contributions, and who thinks shutting down the government is a great bargaining tool.

Mike Bishop: Fabricator of Half-Truths and Lies

The Michigan Truth Squad has issued a "Foul" for Bishop's TV ad in the congressional campaign, taking issue with everything Bishop claims in the 30-seconds ... both the nice things about his own alleged accomplishments, and his attacks on Democrat Eric Schertzing:
If Truth Squad could create the category, "incredibly extreme warning," it would do so for nearly every statement in this video. This ad almost brilliantly straddles the line between eye-rolling warning and slam-dunk foul.
Most of the ad, the Truth Squad says, is overstated hyperbole. And the claim that Schertzing tripled his own staff is an out-and-out lie: it was an increase approved by the Ingham County Commission before Schertzing took office.

Upton Has Some 'Splainin to Do

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Whirlpool) has been threatening donors to the MayDay PAC, which is running TV ads blasting him because
Fred Upton has failed to hold oil companies like BP and Enbridge accountable when they spilled massive amounts of oil in the Gulf and in the Kalamazoo River, instead leaving taxpayers to pay for the clean up. At the same time, Upton owns as much as 250 thousand dollars in BP and Exxon stock and he’s taken over one-point-six million dollars in campaign money from big polluters like oil and gas companies.
Upton voted to give tax breaks to companies that ship American jobs overseas to countries like China and India. He also supports unfair trade laws like NAFTA that have sent thousands of Michigan jobs overseas.
Upton puts himself and his wealthy donors ahead of regular folks in southwest Michigan. Upton voted to protect perks for himself like taxpayer-funded health care for life, first class airfare, and he voted to give himself and the rest of Congress pay raises even though Congress isn’t getting the job done. He even voted to exempt Congressional insiders from insider trading laws, so his political friends can get rich quick from their work in Congress.
Upton voted to slash Medicare benefits in order to pay for tax cuts for the millionaires who fund his campaign. He voted to replace Medicare with a voucher that would not fully cover medical costs and force seniors to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket to insurance companies, a huge gift to the insurance companies that fund his campaign.
Fred Upton is best known as
Kate's uncle ... and for inheriting
millions as a Whirlpool heir
Upton (and staffers) reportedly have been calling executives of Silicon Valley tech companies to whine about their contributions of MayDay PAC. Since he chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee has a lot of clout, the those calls would seem to be, uh, illegal or at least in violation of House Rules.
Now, the American Democracy Legal Fund is calling for a full investigation. In a letter to the Staff Director of the Office of Congressional Ethics Ethics, the ADLF says:
These calls appear to violate House rules. As you know, the House Ethics Manual states that members and staff are "not to take or withhold any official action on the basis of campaign contributions or support of the involved individuals or their partisan affiliation." Members and staff are also "prohibited from threatening punitive action on the basis of such considerations."
It shouldn't matter what party is in power when it comes to the running of elections. 
Fair elections are fundamental to our democracy. Elections should be all about allowing ALL citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote without intimidation, and without unnecessary impediments to discourage them. Politicians should not have the power to meddle with that fundamental right.
Chris Christie, the ethically challenged Governor of one of the more corrupt states ... and chairman of the Republican Governors Association ... feels otherwise. He vetoed legislation which would have allowed early voting in New Jersey, he is critical of same-day registration, and he manipulated last year's Senate special election (at great cost to the taxpayers) to make it easier for him to win reelection. 
Christie asked the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington on Tuesday:
“Would you rather have Rick Scott in Florida overseeing the voting mechanism, or Charlie Crist? Would you rather have Scott Walker in Wisconsin overseeing the voting mechanism, or would you rather have Mary Burke? Who would you rather have in Ohio, John Kasich or Ed FitzGerald?”
Implicit in Christie's question is the supposition that governors should meddle in the administration of elections for the benefit of Republicans. Sadly, this is the mindset that allowed George W. Bush to "win" in Florida (and thus become President) in 2000 and, according to critics, allowed a Republican administration to manipulate Ohio voting precincts in 2004 to allow Bush's reelection.
Michigan has a history of elections relatively free of overt political manipulation. Even our Voter I.D. law, which is totally unnecessary since it fixes a problem that never existed, is relatively liberal when compared to other states (you can vote with an I.D. by simply signing an affidavit attesting to your identity).
Yet Michigan still doesn't have early voting, nor "no-reason" absentee voting. When Terri Lynn Land was Secretary of State, she attempted to purge up to 800,000 voters from the registration lists. Her efforts were rebuffed (in part) by a federal court.
Elections need to be taken away from elected politicians. A presidential election shouldn't be supervised by a state official who doubles as campaign chair for one of the candidates (e.g. Florida 2000, Kathleen Harris; Ohio 2004, Ken Blackwell). And Congress needs to enact laws requiring basic standards for voting in federal elections relating to:
  • registration requirements
  • absent-voter requirements
  • early voting options
  • safeguards to prevent long lines at polling places
  • uniform procedures for audits and recounts
  • readability standards for physical ballots
  • certification of vote-counting equipment
If we lose faith in the honesty of our elections, we lose our democracy. It's that simple.

Fighting Corporate Tax Dodging

They make their profits in the United States, then move the profits to another country to avoid paying taxes. These companies are O.K. with using the services of the government to train their employees, provide them with protection, build roads, bridges and sewers, and even protect their stuff from Somali pirates when it's being shipped. They just don't want to help pay the bills.
If you or I did it as individuals, we'd have the IRS all over us and might even end up in jail for tax evasion. Multi-national corporations get away with it because they have the lobbying/political clout to get special treatment in the tax code.
State Representative Andy Schor (D-Lansing) has introduced House Bill 5920 to would prohibit the allowance of a loan, grant, incentive or other economic assistance to a business that has undergone a tax inversion within the previous 10 years. Tax inversion means that a business has relocated its corporate headquarters to a lower tax country while maintaining its material operations in the United States.
“Tax inversion is nothing more than dodging taxes, and we should not provide economic development incentives to any company that would practice this,” Schor said. 
“Abuse of the system is something we shouldn’t stand for in Michigan, especially as our economy starts to get on its feet. Financial assistance in Michigan should be reserved for companies that pay taxes in Michigan, assuring appropriate state and local services can be provided. This proactive legislation will ensure that bad actors in the business community are not rewarded with financial advantages over businesses that are paying their taxes and helping provide education, public safety and services in Michigan.”
One recent prominent example of tax inversion is Burger King, which is in talks to buy Tim Hortons and will result in moving their headquarters out of the United States to a lower tax country. U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.) has spoken out against tax inversion since the Burger King deal was announced in August, pushing for reforms at the federal level. He has sponsored legislation, but that has not yet been taken up by Congress.
While Schor doesn't mention it, there is some irony in the fact that one of the largest Burger King franchise owners in Michigan is a company co-owned by Michigan Republican Party Chair Bobby Schostak.  (The Schostak restaurant empire also helps explain why the Michigan GOP has fought efforts to raise the minimum wage.)