A country that loses its values, its principles, has lost its heart.
A country that loses its sensible center, its common ground, has lost its mind.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Romney McDaniel repeats falsehood about Gov. Romney and MLK

UPDATE: Romney McDaniel also sent this message in an email, from her ronna4chair account, to GOP activists across the state.

As Ronna Romney McDaniel continues to dodge questions about Dave Agema's series of bigoted comments, she made a fairly significant gaffe today on her Facebook page when she repeated a claim -- first voiced by her uncle, Mitt Romney -- about Martin Luther King that was discredited years ago.
Romney McDaniel, the frontrunner to become the new Michigan Republican Party chair next month, saluted Martin Luther King Day in her post by saying that her grandfather, former governor George Romney, "marched side by side" with King during the civil rights movement. That never happened. Her uncle initiated this canard when several times in 2007 during his first presidential run he claimed that he "saw" his father march with King. Media reports and experts found that Romney and King never appeared together.
It would seem very likely that Romney McDaniel knows all of this. But she resurrected the myth again today. Her post includes a photo of George Romney marching in a 1963 civil rights protest in the Grosse Pointes. But MLK is clearly not in the picture.

PolitiFact scrutinized the issue in 2007, found the claim "Mostly False," and reported this:
"The (Boston) Globe interviewed Susan Englander, associate director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University, who said, 'I researched this question, and indeed it is untrue that George Romney marched with Martin Luther King.'
PolitiFact added this: 
"... But it's also clear that George Romney, who served as governor from 1963 to 1969 and died in 1995, supported King's goals at a time when few politicians did. ... (In 1965), Romney led a march of 10,000 people in Detroit to protest events in Selma, Ala."

The information in that last paragraph is what Romney McDaniel probably should have mentioned in her post. It's also noteworthy that she chose to quote this MLK comment: "Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
Agema, of course, is accused of blatantly engaging in -- and promoting -- hate speech against blacks, gays and Muslims. A tea party favorite and Romney McDaniel's Michigan colleague on the Republican National Committee, Agema has defiantly rejected calls for his resignation from the RNC.
Numerous high-level Republicans at the state and national level have either demanded that Agema step down, or that the party remove him from his position.
Romney McDaniel has done neither. She has not even taken the basic step of condemning Agema.

As she walks this tightrope, cozying up to the tea party while also embracing the GOP establishment, today's Facebook post certainly won't help her keep her balance.

Agema's 'racist' post: Here's the other side of the story


Is it possible that Republican National Committee member Dave Agema's online post of a "racist" screed has been substantially misinterpreted?
Former congressman Allen West (who is black) certainly thinks so. In fact, one of West's closest confidantes asserts that the controversial essay posted by Agema on Facebook, after being discovered on West's website, is far from racist.
Critics say the essay is "a blanket statement about all black people. Clearly that is an absurd premise," said Michele Hickford, editor-in-chief of West's site. 
The essay, she said, is a first-person account of urban black criminals written by an attorney who serves as a public defender in a big city.
West was widely criticized by pundits (including me) for some of the far-right, caustic comments he made while serving in the House. But Hickford points out that, in the midst of the widespread condemnation of Agema in the media and by GOP officials, "Oddly, the press has not attacked Col. West for the article (essay)." The colonel title she bestows on West refers to his past military service. 

While Agema gives the state and national GOP fits by refusing to step down from his RNC position, he recently made a statement insisting that he saw the essay on West's site and found it intriguing because it was posted by a black man who grew up in inner city Atlanta.
"I believe Col. West's purpose for reposting this was to demonstrate the breakdown of the family and how it effects (sic) crime in our society and the fact that these things must be addressed and changed to solve the problems that presently exist," Agema wrote.
Liberals -- and quite a number of Republicans -- protested loudly when Agema suggested that he didn't necessarily embrace all facets of the essay but gave it online exposure because it amounted to a black man sharply criticizing urban black culture.
On his Dec. 31 Facebook post, Agema called the essay "very interesting" and "very enlightening."

Subsequently, numerous critics have pointed out that West posted the essay under the headline "Quite possibly the most racist article you will ever read."
It turns out that the headline was written by Hickford and intended as an attention-grabber, while West, a conservative Republican, made it abundantly clear in his introduction to the essay that he agreed with the author's premise whole heartedly.
Those who never read beyond the headline of West's short commentary missed this:
"It will take you only five minutes to read this article — and I would bet you’ll read it again. Then ask yourself, is this something you hear Al Sharpton addressing? Or President Obama, Eric Holder, Jeh Johnson or Jesse Jackson?
"I’m quite sure the progressive socialist left will criticize me for sharing this article – that’s just who they are, they hate the truth. But if there is a war to be fought, it is for the soul of the inner city and the black community. The facts and observations in this are not shocking to me. They are quite well known, but the manner in which the writer so eloquently presents them is quite commendable."

So, why has the press condemned Agema but not West? Indeed, that is a good question.

Has Agema repeatedly made comments -- verbally, in print or online -- that suggest bigoted stereotypes of blacks, gays and Muslims? Absolutely.
But his Dec. 31 post (since erased) recommending this essay doesn't qualify as "the straw that broke the camel's back." Maybe all of this is more about timing and political embarrassment, with the winter session of the RNC just completed and the party's state convention coming in February. GOP officials can magnify this straw, but they can't seem to get rid of Agema before he becomes more of a thorn in their sides.

To be clear, the first strike against the May 2014 essay is that it was published on a website produced by American Renaissance, which is linked to white supremacists.
The second strike is that it was written under a pen name, Michael Smith, and there is no way to verify if the author is a public defender who has dealt first-hand with the ugly side of the American judicial system, as he claims.
But there is no third strike.

The essay essentially adds another chapter to the long debate about nature vs. nurture, whether dysfunctional black families can be lifted out of poverty and crime, and whether anyone can break the cycle of a seemingly permanent black underclass in the inner cities.
The tone of the writing is confessional, not hateful, as the author -- a self-described liberal do-gooder -- lays out his intense disillusionment with urban crime and his conclusion that blacks play a dominant role. This lengthy piece could be fiction, but the writer sounds too credible for readers to dismiss this essay as a hoax.
The details are harsh and the contention that the vast majority of crime and dysfunction -- based on the writer's clientele -- is associated with blacks, not whites, Hispanics or Asians, seems forced. But this essay is clearly not a Klan leader's hate-mongering rant.

Unfortunately, writings such as these only strengthen the pre-determined, racist views of too many Americans.
Yet, the Republican Party, at the state and national level, may want to catalog Agema's many grievances before they attempt to lay out a lawful means of removing him. The GOP has had numerous reasons to oust Agema in the past for intolerance and baseless stereotyping. But this newest post by their RNC man is not a clear-cut, black-and-white example of menacing racism on Agema's part. There are a few shades of gray.

Here is the email response I received from Hickford when I asked about West's views on the controversy:

I’ve been following the controversy. It seems Mr. Agema has on more than occasion made comments that some found offensive. Oddly the press has not attacked Col. West for the article. 

As it happens, I chose the headline for the post. I generally write all the headlines for Col. West’s articles. I was quite certain many people would find that article "racist.”

I personally do not doubt the veracity of the experiences the public defender recounted regarding those charged with crimes. Neither I or nor Col. West saw this as a blanket statement about all black people. Clearly that is an absurd premise.

But as a nation, we cannot have “an honest discussion about race” until we acknowledge because of nurture - not nature - there is a large portion of the urban black community growing up without a father in the home, expecting the government to take care of them and in fact feeling entitled, without any sense of personal responsibility for their lives. They are kept on this economic plantation by liberal progressive policies and have their anger stoked by race-baiters like Al Sharpton.



Sunday, January 18, 2015


Looks like Jim Harbaugh is counting down the minutes until he has to give up his secret stint as Colts quarterback under the Andrew Luck pseudonym and has to concentrate on coaching Michigan.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rand Paul, Mitt Romney and tea party could get blame for failing to oust Agema

The ongoing GOP soap opera starring the party's resident racist, Dave Agema, has taken a few interesting twists and turns in the past 24 hours that could have an impact on 2016 presidential politics.
The actions by the Republican National Committee on Wednesday to censure Agema for his bigoted online posts called on the Michigan GOP to "explore options" to remove the state's hyper-controversial RNC member.
But, given the tea party's influence in the MIGOP, it's quite possible that two key figures with ties to Rand Paul and Mitt Romney may quietly try to block attempts to oust Agema.

First, we have Ronna McDaniel Romney, an RNC committeewoman and the odds-on favorite to win the election for state party chair next month. Romney McDaniel is making efforts to cozy up to the tea party as she lines up support to succeed Bobby Schostak as leader of the MIGOP. Far from addressing the prospect of finding a procedural means to oust Agema, Romney McDaniel has yet to criticize or condemn her infamous colleague on the RNC.
As the niece of Mitt Romney who played a key role in his Michigan presidential campaign of 2012, her actions in the next few weeks could complicate Mitt's apparent effort at a third presidential run.

The first item on her agenda if she's elected party chair at the state GOP convention in February may be the sticky situation of removing Agema -- a potential process that earned an endorsement from RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.

Second, we have John Yob, member of a prominent Michigan Republican family and the national political director for Sen. Paul’s RANDPAC presidential fundraising organization. Yob (the top supporter of the disastrous Terri Lynn Land Senate candidacy) chose to speak at the tea party "Pow Wow" in Mount Pleasant last weekend even as Agema's keynote status at the event caused Heritage Action and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy to boycott the event.
That event produced a torrent of hate speech and fear-mongering, according to a report by the liberal website Progress Michigan. Key players at the event were the GOP trio of new state House members, pro-Agema tea party extremists Todd Courser, Cindy Gamrat and Gary Glenn.

Here are some of the observations of Progress Michigan about the second annual Pow Wow, held at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort:
“The problem is, the only [Muslims] in Dearborn or anywhere else in America that have a voice are the ones who want to destroy this country and they want Sharia to be the law of the land,” said Lt. General William “Jerry” Boykin to a gathering of the Michigan Tea Party on Saturday in Mount Pleasant.
That was just one of many Islamophobic and xenophobic rants made over the weekend by speakers at a gathering of state tea party leaders, including incoming State Reps. Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser, who spoke and helped emcee the event. Incoming Rep. Gary Glenn was also in attendance, as was Lt Gov.Brian Calley, who swore in Gamrat to her position.
Boykin, who has an “extremist file” on the Southern Poverty Law Center website and is classified as having “Anti-Muslim” ideology, went on a tirade about Muslims in Dearborn — and Islam in general — during his hour-long speech. He also claimed that the Council on American and Islamic Relations (CAIR) was a “terrorist group.” 
How long before Paul, who has had a rocky relationship with the black community, is forced to condemn the Pow Wow and Yob's appearance there?
One more dynamic must be pointed out. The Agema mess could also impact the 2018 race for governor. Calley, who has a reputation as a pragmatic, "compassionate conservative," has a disconcerting habit of desperately trying to become buddy-buddy with some of the ultraconservative tea party types. These actions, obviously an attempt to outflank another likely GOP gubernatorial contender, Attorney General Bill Schuette, could backfire.
When the lieutenant governor shows up at the Pow Wow, despite condemnation of the event, and swears in Gamrat, who is sure to embarrass the House GOP at some point, I have to believe that Calley will regret his decision at some point in the future.
One other aspect of the substantial national media coverage of the GOP's Agema Anxiety that is particularly delicious is the ancillary connection between the RNC member now known as the Grandville Dragon and Trucker Randy Bishop.
In one of the national media reports that featured a screenshot of an Agema racist screeds on Facebook, there in full view was Trucker Randy's "Like" for Agema's message that blacks are culturally incompatible with American life. I'm told that Trucker Randy, who was convicted of two felony fraud charges during his time in Macomb County, also "Shared" the Agema message and urged others to do likewise.
When Romney McDaniel issued her initial call for support for the chairmanship, she specifically listed Trucker Randy, Antrim County GOP chair and notorious knucklehead on talk-radio, as one of her backers.
Trucker Randy went on to provide comments to the media that he -- who in 2013-14 declared war on the GOP -- was now a unifying force within the party.
The question remains: Did Romney McDaniel make a deal to keep Trucker Randy as Antrim County chair, despite his criminal past, in exchange for his endorsement, knowing that his backing would be prominently noted by right-wing members of the Michigan tea party?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Will RNC go far enough with Agema to satisfy Mich. GOP?

In the curious case of Dave Agema's stubborn refusal to resign, the question now becomes: Will the Republican National Committee go far enough to satisfy Michigan Republicans when a subcommittee meets today to pass an anti-Agema resolution -- or two?
Virginia GOP chairman Pat Mullins has proposed that the RNC pass a measure calling on Agema to resign and, if that brings no response from the infamous RNC member, then a second resolution should be approved that declares Agema ostracized from the party for his bigoted ways.
But Mullins sent his letter to the RNC members within hours of a second letter, sent to the RNC  by GOP members of the Michigan Legislature. And therein lies the party's problem.

The legislators' letter put forth the argument, shared by many MIGOP activists (here's one example), that the RNC can expel Agema from all RNC activities. Mullins and others who are congregating today at the committee's winter meeting in San Diego aren't so sure. The RNC will hash this out at a subcommittee meeting today and a meeting of the full committee on Friday.
The voices from Michigan are loud and clear: parliamentary procedures, Roberts Rules of Order, a change in bylaws -- take your pick, RNC, but take action.

The Grand Rapids Press, the west Michigan paper that covers the area that Agema represented when he served in the state House, was blunt in an editorial about the situation:
"To those leading the charge, we say, don't miss your chance. Do not simply call for his resignation, get rid of him. He has utterly failed to be a representative for the party, for the state of Michigan and for West Michigan.
"As long as Agema holds his post, the GOP is allowing him to speak for the party and abuse the national platform to spread his hateful beliefs."

MLive is reporting that the 14th Congressional District Republicans, on Tuesday adopted a resolution urging the RNC to "repudiate Mr. Agema in the strictest of terms for his inappropriate conduct."
The resolution, approved unanimously with one member abstaining, calls on Agema to resign. And if he doesn't, it urges the state central committee or RNC to use their "authority to terminate his membership."

The text of the letter sent to the RNC by state lawmakers -- Sen. Mike Kowall of White Lake, Sen. Jim Marleau of Lake Orion and Rep. Jim Tedder of Clarkston -- is here:

13 January 2015  
Dear Republican National Committee members, 
As leaders of the Michigan Senate, we are writing to implore you to take all necessary action  to  end  our  party’s  long nightmare involving your fellow RNC member Dave Agema. 
Chairman Priebus summed up the view of most Michigan Republicans when he told Slate magazine:  “I’ve  previously  called  for  Dave  Agema  to  resign  and  my  position  remains  the   same, he should step aside. The tone and rhetoric from Agema is consistently offensive and  has  no  place  in  politics  or  any  rational  conversation.” 
While we applaud Chairman Priebus for his statement, the reality is Mr. Agema refuses to resign his seat on the RNC. Therefore, it is necessary for the RNC to declare Mr. Agema persona non grata. 
The RNC has the authority to do so either on a temporary basis at each of its meetings or permanently under parliamentary procedure. 
While we are disappointed it has come down to this, we believe this course of action is the  only  way  to  stop  Mr. Agema’s  hateful  rhetoric  from further tarnishing our party. We urge RNC members, our colleagues and like-minded Michiganders to join us in stepping up and acknowledging that enough is enough. 

Is Friday the end for Agema? Here's the RNC letter calling for his resignation

This is historic. Here is the letter from Virginia's Pat Mullins officially calling on Dave Agema to be removed from the Republican National Committee by the RNC membership. Mullins, the Virginia GOP chairman, is calling for a vote on a resolution at the Friday RNC meeting that would demand Agema's resignation. Mullins also proposes a follow-up resolution, if Agema does not respond, calling for the censure of Agema.
These actions, while unprecedented, will not satisfy those who are convinced the RNC has the power to remove Agema due to his many bigoted comments.
But it will be interesting to see if Agema can now withstand the growing national attention on his hateful views now that he has received coverage from Time magazine, National Journal, Red State, MSNBC, Slate and other publications.

Here is the Mullins letter:

January 13, 2015

Dear Fellow RNC Member,
It is time for us to take a stand against Dave Agema, the national committeeman from Michigan, who continues to disgrace our Republican Party.
This is not about Establishment or Tea Party. This is about one of our colleagues acting in a unbecoming manner that destroys the reputation and standing of not only the RNC, but also Republicans everywhere.
We need to listen to our colleagues from Michigan. Michigan Republicans, including the Governor, state Chairman and the Republican Congressional delegation, have called for Mr.
Agema’s resignation as National Committeeman. So has Chairman Priebus. Unfortunately, Mr.Agema refuses to listen to the voice of reason.

Here in Virginia, we’ve worked with Chairman Priebus and RNC to grow our Republican Party into every community, including many who have been ignored for far too long — and we’ve made significant progress. Mr. Agema’s abhorrent comments are an anathema to those new, and in many cases fragile, relationships.
As such, the voice of reason must be louder. At our meeting on Friday, I hope that we will pass a resolution calling for his resignation. Mr. Agema may be able to ignore the voice of his home state, but I am hopeful he will not be able to ignore the voice of the entire country.

However, should the combined voices of Republicans from Guam to Maine, Virginia to California, be insufficient to convince Mr. Agema to resign, I would suggest that we act as one and pass a resolution making it clear that Mr. Agema's abhorrent views and words have no place in our party — and that he in no way speaks for us. While he might retain his post, he has lost the respect and esteem of his colleagues. Indeed, his actions have made him a pariah.
Anything short of this will allow Mr. Agema to continue disgracing our Republican Party and further impugn the integrity and good standing of the RNC.
Thank you for your consideration.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

RNC will try to remove Agema this week

The National Journal is reporting that an effort will be made at the Republican National Committee's winter meeting this week in San Diego to remove Dave Agema from the RNC after his most recent racist post on Facebook.

Here's a portion of the NJ report:
Virginia GOP Chairman Pat Mullins is circulating a letter to RNC colleagues recommending that Agema be expelled from the meeting in San Diego and then permanently removed from the RNC, National Journal has learned.
It's unclear at this point whether Mullins's proposal is permissible or whether it would have the requisite support for approval. Priebus issued a statement Tuesday that simply reiterated his desire for Agema to step down. "I've previously called for Dave Agema to resign and my position remains the same, he should step aside," Priebus said. "The tone and rhetoric from Agema is consistently offensive and has no place in politics or any rational conversation."
... Because of the unprecedented nature of the situation, it remains unclear—even to the group's members and longtime officials—whether the RNC can forcibly remove one of its own.
... Against this backdrop, the RNC will convene this week for its Winter Meeting. And Agema, who's expected to attend, will lurk menacingly as Republican leaders emphasize their efforts to broaden the party's outreach to minority voters. "
More to come

Friday, January 9, 2015

Since 9/11, have right-wingers killed more Americans than the terrorists have?

The battles with terrorists in France this week and the countless condemnations of Islam prompted one liberal American pundit, Sally Kohn, to make this incendiary assertion on Twitter: "Since 9/11, right-wing extremists (including anti-abortion, anti-gov) have killed more Americans than Islamic extremists."
Sounds a bit absurd on its face but PolitiFact took a look and found that there's quite a bit of truth to the claim.

Statistics compiled by the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank that promotes data-driven policy innovations, show that in the time since the 9/11 attacks, jihadists have killed 26 Americans on U.S. soil, while those with right-wing leanings have killed 39. The single-most deadly event by an Islamic extremist was the 13 people killed at Fort Hood. On the right-wing side of the ledger, the worst was the six people slain at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin.
But the categorization of these killings is complicated and a bit dicey, which prompted PolitiFact to deem Kohn's claim "Half True."

Here's a bit of the fact-checkers' analysis:
"If this exercise shows nothing else, it is that the number of post-9/11 deaths in the United States from either cause is low, and drawing firm conclusions is dicey. A single event or a change in definitions can shift the balance.
"The matter of definitions makes a big difference because most of the killers acted on their own. Experts in terrorist and extremist violence told (sister website) PunditFact that in these cases, it can be difficult to draw the line between ideological and purely personal motivations."

Among those PolitiFact interviewed was Alex Schmid, a research fellow at the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism in the Netherlands.
"Mental illness plays a role in up to 40 percent of the lone wolf attacks," Schmid said. In contrast, he said most organized terrorists are "clinically normal."
Clinically normal? Maybe by way of a medical definition. But I'm sure the people of France would tell you the terrorists are definitely crazier and scarier than those with mental health problems.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Why is Congress broken? Who's right, former Rep. Mike Rogers or Jon Stewart?

Criticism of the do-nothing Congress is not news, but we should sit up and take notice when conservative Republican ex-congressman Mike Rogers and liberal comedian Jon Stewart start to sound the same cry, though in different language.

As he was heading out the door, embarking on a new career in radio, Rogers of Brighton authored an Op-Ed for Politico that bluntly repudiated his former colleagues, Republicans and Democrats.
"The level of pettiness and small-minded meanness in political discourse is disheartening at best. It works against our national interests, at its worst. It is hard to solve big issues with small politics. America is facing huge challenges. So is America’s political discourse," he wrote.

Those words might inspire a cringe from the many right-wing Michigan Republicans who had hoped Rogers would run for the Senate seat opened up by the retirement of Carl Levin. Those words also might chagrin the liberals who had gathered up their hopes biennially to defeat Rogers by portraying him as a close-minded ultraconservative.
In this guest column, he sounds like a closet centrist, offering this advice: "Consensus may not be possible, but constructive cooperation is." And he rightfully takes aim at all the hyperventilating and hyper-partisan forms of media that obsesses Washington.

"The 24-hour news cycle has become a 24-second news cycle," the former lawmaker noted. "A member used to hope for a 15-second clip in a news story. Now it’s 140 characters in a tweet. And if you want someone to read it, best be clever. Newsworthiness comes second. The first one out there on a topic wins, and accuracy is an afterthought, if a thought at all. Nothing has made me appreciate real journalists more than (antagonistic) anonymous bloggers and partisan tweets."

Stewart, who has taken shots repeatedly at the 24-hour cable channels and at partisan social media, would certainly agree with Rogers on all these points.
The other day, the Comedy Central star, in true populist form, noted that, after missing several weeks on the job, members of Congress returned on a Tuesday at noon -- not exactly the schedule kept by their working constituents.
Stewart, in his own irreverent way, then unloaded on Capitol Hill by pointing out two simple statistics: Congress has a 14 percent approval rating but 95 percent of the members seeking another term were re-elected. Just 14 percent like the job these people are doing, but nearly all are back on the job.
“[F]ourteen percent approval to 95 percent incumbency is the same disapproval to recurrence ratio currently enjoyed by the Herpes virus,” Stewart said.
Funny? Yes. Language that Rogers would use? Certainly not.
But Rogers' broader point fits here nicely. Just as outlandish tweets and Facebook messages should not drive the political conversation, neither should TV comedy programs such as Stewart's "The Daily Show," which is relied upon by a disconcerting number of Americans for their news.

All this political clamor, Rogers wrote in his Op-Ed, "takes away from the time a member needs to spend getting smart on issues that matter. The only way to do that is read, question and dive deep into all of the often unsexy issues of legislating. I’ve gotten into trouble with my fellow conservatives for saying this—after all, our party believes, often justifiably, that Washington is usually the problem—but I do think elected officials need to devote more time here on Capitol Hill engaging in governance. It won’t get you on the 11 o’clock news, but it will make for a better-functioning legislature.
"I believe real governing must begin in the committees, where members must spend long, unglamorous hours on panels crafting budgets and performing oversight."

Those are the nuts-and-bolts that lack the entertainment value or the partisan punch to ever make an appearance on Twitter or Facebook or TV or talk-radio. But who decided that politics and policy must be entertaining?
I think the folks over at the Independent Voters Network said it best when they described the gridlock that results when two sides square off: "Partisanship is a disease and unfortunately the nation cannot just take a shot of penicillin and everything will be alright."

Rogers, a former FBI agent, tells the story of how in 2011 he, as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and the panel's ranking member, Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, quietly reached agreement on an intelligence budget while working in a room reserved for classified information. It marked the first intelligence budget agreement in six years.
Rogers revealed that, as the two lawmakers reached across the table to shake hands on the pact, the room shook. At that moment, Washington was hit by a rare earthquake.
That's the kind of material that Stewart could have run rampant with for several minutes of his program.

Yet, I was surprised that he didn't take a big bite when Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday offered Stewart and his comedic colleagues a jokefest on a platter.
In an awkward, farcical moment just prior to the House swearing-in ceremony, Minority Leader Pelosi urged her colleagues to give their constituents a round of applause for voting them into office.
Her audience complied, though such a suggestion was ridiculous given Congress' ingrained ability to fail -- or to fail to try -- when addressing big problems at home and abroad.
Hey, everybody, let's have a round of applause for Herpes.

Website offers fascinating look at Detroit, now and then


I came across a fascinating website today called DetroitUrbex.com that provides dozens of then-and-now photos of the Motor City dating back to the late 19th Century.
The compelling aspect of this site is that it is interactive, allowing users to roll their computer mouse over a photo and instantly see a particular building or location in Detroit now and how it looked decades ago.

Some of the before-and-after shots are disheartening, as anyone familiar with Detroit's decline would expect. But some pics are quite uplifting, such as the two photos above of the Book-Cadillac Hotel, once one of Motown's most famous and glamorous hotels.
According to Detroit Urbex, everyone from Katharine Hepburn to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stayed there. Baseball legend Lou Gehrig collapsed on its grand staircase, marking the beginning of the end of his career. The hotel closed in 1984 and was left to rot. Today, the site declares, it has been reborn, a symbol of the city's latest renaissance.

After you've scanned the photos, there's a back story to this site that is intriguing. The photographers who put it together remain anonymous, apparently to avoid complaints about trespassing but also to avoid claims that the site blatantly engages in "ruin porn."
If you want, check out the irreverent FAQs page (foul language warning) that explains what DetroitUrbex is all about.

As a reporter once targeted for firing, I appreciate this commentary

As a journalist who once was nearly the victim of a politician demanding that I be fired, I can genuinely appreciate the commentary by Tamar Charney on today's Michigan Radio website.
While certainly not making direct comparisons, Charney points out that, while the Wednesday terrorist attack on a French newspaper was horrific, the public fails to realize that news reporters  across the board, including in Michigan, face intimidation from the politicians and their PR minions on a regular basis.
In the rough-and-tumble world of Macomb County politics, it's nearly standard procedure among many officials to bully a reporter who writes a hard-hitting piece, a piece that hits a little too close to home.

Here's a portion of Charney's column:       
"In today’s newsrooms, there are frequent threats and attempts to get reporters fired and some reporters have lost their jobs because they didn't toe the line and were unlucky enough to work at a media outlet that wasn't committed to journalism. Fighting back against the pressures of spin doctors isn't for the faint of heart.
"While no one has been hurt, it's no picnic to have a member of the Granholm administration try to get political analyst Jack Lessenberry fired over something he wrote. Sports commentator John U. Bacon was shut out by former University of Michigan Athletic Director David Brandon for not being a booster. And more than a few spokespeople for state officials have tried to bully our news director and reporters. Despite these efforts, it is our practice to resist attempts to influence our coverage.
"Unfortunately, many journalists and news organizations capitulate and play the game."

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

It's time for GOP's Romney McDaniel to come clean: Should Agema go?

The Michigan Republican Party has a growing "Agema problem" and it's up to the next state party chairman to solve it.
Romney McDaniel
 But the likely 2014-15 chair, Ronna  Romney McDaniel, Mitt Romney's niece, seems eager to avoid the issue.
The Agema problem, of course, refers to Michigan's Republican National Committeeman, Dave Agema, who has quite a political resume -- homophobe, white supremacist, anti-Muslim bigot.
None of this, at least publicly, seems to bother Romney McDaniel, the frontrunner in the competition for new party chair. In fact, she has proudly accepted the endorsement of one of Agema's biggest fans -- "Trucker" Randy Bishop, the tea party bloviater who last year declared war on the GOP establishment.

Nonetheless, Romney McDaniel, with limited experience as a political activist but facing two or more lesser-known candidates, seems likely to win the chairmanship in a walk thanks to her name recognition and potential star power.
Meanwhile, the party's ball and chain, Agema, remains on a mission to spit in the faces of all his detractors. Just days after posting a blatantly racist article on his Facebook page, this morning he piled on by posting a screed that warns that Muslims, in Michigan and across the globe, are on a mission to kill Christians and Jews and control the world.
Romney McDaniel should be campaigning for Agema's ouster just as she campaigns for the top spot in the MIGOP.
But the initial message to her supporters that Trucker Randy, chair of the Antrim County GOP, is among those party officials backing her is a troubling aspect of the upcoming convention election for chair.
Trucker Randy
Beyond his oafish behavior, Trucker Randy was hit with two felony convictions in 1999, back in his days in Macomb County. Based on his fraudulent activities in attempting to resurrect a proposed subdivision, an administrative law judge revoked Trucker Randy’s builder’s license and said that the deviance “illustrates (Bishop’s) inability to serve the public in an open and honest manner and his lack of good moral character.”

Newly term-limited state representative Pete Lund, a possible party chair candidate who would emerge as better qualified than anyone in the field, said he did not want to comment on Romney McDaniel's association with Trucker Randy.

But the Shelby Township Republican did say this about including the Bishop endorsement in her first public statement on her candidacy:
"Those would not have been the first words out of my mouth."

In the media, Ken Braun and Kathy Hoekstra have emerged as a dynamic duo, keeping the Republican Party honest and true to form. In the last several hours, as the February state convention approaches, they have pounced on Agema's latest racist rant and again insisted that the GOP cut all ties with the former state representative.
In a blog written today for The Detroit News, Hoekstra points out that the remarks on blacks and criminal tendencies that Agema posted because he found them "enlightening" were written under a pen name and can be traced back to a "white supremacist think tank." In the past, Agema has posted remarks by a former neo-Nazi Holocaust denier.

Here's a bit of Hoekstra's take on the party's Agema problem:
"The leader entrusted with growing the Republican base in Michigan, in other words, finds himself enlightened by a fake name and a racist website.
"If he really wants enlightenment on crime in America, Agema should quit citing questionable sources and then passing them off to friends and supporters, and instead consult a few of his most vocal defenders.
"For enlightenment on ... computer crime, extortion and police stand-offs, Agema can turn to Doug Sedenquist, a former state Republican committee member and Upper Peninsula radio talk show host.
"Sedenquist sympathetically offered Agema his airwaves to defend the first round of Facebook spew regarding gays. For that enlightenment though,  Agema would have to travel up to the Ojibway Correctional Facility in the far western U.P. That’s where Sedenquist will be for at least the next two and a half years following his 2014 convictions."

Braun, in his column for MLive, noted that many months ago top Republicans called for Agema to step down from the RNC: outgoing state party Cairman Bobby Schostak, GOP national Chairman Reince Priebus, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, six Republican members of Congress from Michigan, and numerous other GOP officials at the state and county level.
Braun warned of the harmful effects extremists can impose on political organizations:
"The Republican, tea party and free market movements are regularly (and otherwise falsely) accused of having a racial motivation for disagreeing with the left-wing policies of an African-American president. In its original form, the modern tea party was concerned with economic liberty, not social issues, and certainly not racism. Just as legendary Big Labor leaders Walter Reuther and George Meany purged communists from their ranks, supporters of free markets have an obligation to protect their principles and reputations from a supposed fellow traveler repeatedly spewing hateful screeds."

And yet, one of the current candidates for party chair openly defends Agema, particularly the anti-gay remarks. Joel Poynter of Baldwin said this week that Schostak and GOP leaders were wrong to criticize -- and attempt to ostracize -- Agema.
“Dave didn’t say anything that really wasn’t part of the (party) platform,” Poynter said in an interview. “But yet some at the state level really tried to crucify him. I have a problem with that. If it’s in the platform, why are you crucifying this guy?”
Poynter seems ready to dismiss all of Agema's ugliness as a simple confirmation of the RNC committeeman's support of traditional marriage.
But those Agema sycophants better be careful when they reference the GOP platform.

The platform does not say that "filthy" homosexuals are prone to orgies, murderous behavior and suicide. But Agema endorsed those thoughts.
The platform does not say that blacks, as a race, cannot reason or communicate well and they fail to control their impulses. But Agema found those claims "very interesting."
The platform does not say that  Muslims, engaged in a global plot, are killing Christians and Jews at a rate approaching Hitler's Nazi Army. But Agema issues those warnings about Islam.

The obvious danger for the GOP is that voters will begin to blend the platform the party stands on with the intolerant views that Agema sinks to, and the two categories will become one.

Is Dave Agema on a kamikaze mission?

Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema, after recently posting a blatantly racist Facebook post a couple of weeks ago, is at it again.
This time, it's all in the west Michigan Republican's own words. The topic of the day? Islamaphobia, as in: Why don't our state officials treat all Muslims as the enemy.
He also claims that he is on a hit-list of radical Muslims that is published for the benefit of lone-wolf terrorists. Who knew that anyone took Agema seriously?
The former fighter pilot, infamous for his ignorant, homophobic post of 2013, now claims that Christians and Jews are being killed by Muslims in the Middle East at a rate approaching Hitler's Nazi Army.
Here's the entire post (unedited), which went up earlier this morning: 

Another terrorist attack in France. France, England, Germany the U.S. , Christians and Jews being killed in the Middle East in numbers approaching or exceeding Hitler's regime.- why? Islam demands that no one can criticize (tolerance) their faith; however, they are free to decapitate , enslave , rape and mutilate all in the name of Islam ( intolerance). Organizations like ISNA and CAIR who have terrorist ties are alive and well in the USA. CAIR even put out their list of peop...le they dislike ( for lone wolf attackers) on which people like Huckabee, Gen. Boykin, myselff, Kamal Saleem( former Muslim turned Christian) etc. are listed so as to put fear into anyone who speaks truth about the threat of radical Islam. In America you can be any religion you wish, but those that seek the destruction of our country and citizens are not to be tolerated.
Its high time the people of American realize we are at war with a 6th century religion bent on world domination, elimination of Christianity and the Jewish religion. Our first Navy was formed to fight Muslims that held our ships for ransom and killed our crews. Those ransoms were paid
during the time of Jefferson until the time he formed a Navy to defeat them ( leathernecks- Tripoli). We have been a war for years with Islam including in WWII.
Their goal is a world Muslim leader with Sharia law. Sharia law is anathema to our countries constitution. They can't both exist. In America there have been over a hundred cases of our lower court judges using foreign law to adjudicate cases causing American citizens to lose their constitutional rights- many were Sharia law.
The state of Michigan had, and has, the opportunity to stop such abuse of law via ALAC (American Laws for American Courts), yet political leaders have failed to act FOR fear of the large amounts of Muslims in Michigan and their monetary clout. They do not understand the threat.
Truly, to stop terrorism and the fear they feed on, they must be exposed and dealt with. You can't win a war and and not identify your enemy. That is done by admitting the problem and forcefully eliminating the terrorist. Political correctness is killing this country. It is preventing identification of our enemies and our ability to talk about the very threat that is sworn to our destruction. Wake up America. We are under attack by an ideology that has no respect for the lives of opposing faiths and considers it an honor to kill in Allah's name in order to attain their view of heaven.