Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday Michigan PoliLinks

The Curmudgeon is thinking it's probably too late to rake the leaves from the lawn, currently buried under several inches of white precipitant that's not supposed to be here for another month or more. But inclement weather doesn't stop our hardy politicians from doing their thing (which, for the hard-working Legislature, means going deer hunting).

Condemning Electoral College Vote Rigging Scheme

The Republican drive to make Michigan irrelevant in presidential politics moved forward Monday, Despite overwhelming negative testimony from witnesses, the Republican-dominated House Elections Committee appears poised to move the bill for a floor vote. Bill sponsor Rep. Pete Lund said he wasn't surprised by the negative outcry, but he could care less: he's not changing his bill.
Lund claims presidential campaigns ignore Michigan because it is reliably Democratic. The reality is something quite different: Michigan received 17 visits from presidential campaigns and ranked 10th in campaign spending.
The bill does for Republican presidential candidates something they haven't been able to accomplish since 1988: win some electoral votes in Michigan. It awards a portion of Michigan's votes for President to the general election loser if the second-place candidate gets as little as 41% of the state's vote.
On Monday dozens of citizens, watchdog groups and members of the Michigan Election Coalition presented testimony at an Elections and Ethics Committee hearing in opposition to House Bill 5974, sponsored by Rep. Pete Lund, which would effectively rig presidential elections in Michigan.
Sharon Dolente, director of the Michigan Election Coalition: “This bill is an effort by politicians to change the rules to benefit themselves at the expense of the people. It is the role of the citizens of this state, and not legislators, to determine who governs our state and our country.”
Philip T. Shepard, Professor Emeritus at Michigan State University: “Real democracy requires that the will of the people, a majority of the people, can effect desired changes in government. When the will of the people is systematically blocked, say by an oligarchy masquerading as something else, the people’s will will find other ways to express itself.
Attorney Patrick Levine Rose: “This bill will not increase democracy. It does the opposite. It magnifies the Electoral College’s most basic flaw – namely, it increases the chance a President will be elected without having won the national popular vote.”
Scott Foval of People for the American Way: “I implore you to reject this type of electoral rigging. Rather, I would humbly suggest that if candidates wish to win the presidency that they – and I am referring to all candidates not just one party – begin to represent all of the people, promoting ideas and policies that bring about full equality and fairness, re-enfranchisement of every voter, and reject extremist ideas such as this legislation.”
Walt Sorg of the Michigan Election Reform Alliance: “As a unilateral action, this bill only serves to reduce Michigan’s national influence and reduce the impact of Michigan’s voters on national policy. We urge its defeat.”

Republicans Love Uber, But A Divorce is Pending

The growth of peer-to-peer commerce through such internet ventures as Uber, Lyft, AirBNB et. al. is a good fit for the GOP mantra of entrepreneurism and removing the shackles of government regulation. All of the companies were created in conflict with traditional regulatory/business models: Uber and Lyft challenge traditional taxi and limousine services; AirBNB allows individuals to compete with motels and hotels.
But Uber's CEO has laid down a meme that will drive the GOP nuts: the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is important to their business model. From Buzzfeed:
The CEO of Uber said Friday that Obamacare has played a crucial role for his army of drivers, an unusual, partial endorsement of the president’s signature policy from a man often cast as a hero of anti-government libertarianism.
BuzzFeed News reported in October that the new, subsidized market for health care has been a boon to companies like Uber, which are essentially digital middlemen relying on armies of independent contractors. Figures ranging from Uber drivers to Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber called the health care overhaul crucial in the emergence of the sharing economy, but Uber had remained officially silent on the subject until Friday.

Any company that says Obamacare is good for business is, well, probably personna non grata with the GOP faithful. To be continued...

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