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Endorsement Elite: Michigan Republicans

It's a testament to the uncertainties still present in the Fast Track Campaign there are at least three potential dates still in discussion for Michigan's Republican presidential primary.

Currently, no primary date is set. Two bills are sitting in the state legislature -- one that would set the primary on Feb. 5 -- the new Super Tuesday --and the other that would hold it on Jan. 29, the same day that Florida and South Carolina are scheduled to vote. Still others in MIchigan want to move the primary up even earlier in an attempt to trump New Hampshire with whom Michiganders have long feuded about the nominating calendar.

Whenever the vote happens, it will be an important test for the Republican field. Despite its population losses over the past few decades, Michigan remains a large state in the politically crucial middle of America. And, it is also a state where two of the better-known Republicans in the race have political bases. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won the state over President George W. Bush in 2000 and former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) was born in Michigan and his father, George, served as the state's governor.

Regardless of the exact date, it's a near-certainty that Michigan will again be central to the fight for the Republican nomination. With that in mind, we offer The Fix's Endorsement Elite -- the five individuals seen as most influential within the state's GOP. (For past Endorsement Elites, click here.)


Betsy/Dick DeVos: The DeVoses are the unquestioned first couple of Michigan Republican politics. They are a couple who can bring not only grassroots know-how but also carry strong connections in the donor world. Dick DeVos stepped from behind the curtain in 2006, running and losing a race against Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-Mich.) but that defeat has done little to tarnish him within the ranks of the party. BOTH UNCOMMITTED

Pete Hoekstra: Hoekstra's western Michigan 2nd district is the strongest Republican enclave in the state, having gone for President Bush with 60 percent in 2004. Hoekstra has held the seat since 1992 and is quite popular among Republicans in the west. One other potential side benefit: Hoekstra is Dutch (he was born in the Netherlands) and as such could be a a potentially powerful surrogate in areas of Iowa with large Dutch communities. COMMITTED TO ROMNEY

Teri Lynn Land: Land, Michigan's Secretary of State , was re-elected last November with nearly 1.9 million votes -- a small bright spot in a very dark election night for Republicans. Reports about her influence and vote-delivery abilities differ widely among the operative class in the state. Some see her as the biggest unhooked fish; others see her as decidedly overrated. But, she makes our Endorsement Elite thanks to her proven vote-getting power coupled with her interest in moving up the state's political ladder. UNCOMMITTED

Candice Miller: Miller is regarded as perhaps the most politically savvy of the Michigan Republican delegation (with the possible exception of Rep. Mike Rogers) and has her eye on a statewide race down the line. Miller represents roughly two-thirds of Macomb County, a fast growing population center in the state and has a reputation as a political brawler -- a necessity in a tough nomination fight. COMMITTED TO GIULIANI

Chuck Yob: A longtime Republican National Committeeman, Yob's influence is acknowledged even by those who don't like him all that much. Yob has built a reputation as a kingmaker in Republican party politics thanks to his grassroots pull and willingness to work diligently behind the scenes to get things done for his preferred candidate. COMMITTED TO MCCAIN

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 10, 2007; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  '08 Endorsement Elite  
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I find it funny, and by funny I mean absurd for Reps Miller and Hoekstra to be labeled part of the Mich GOP Elite OVER Rep Joe Knollenburg, who is, in my opinion Michigan's most influential congressman. Thats not a knock on Miller/Hoekstra, but rather an observation that these two are given the term over someone with more experience and party leadership within the Great Lakes state.

Posted by: DSB | July 16, 2007 9:21 AM | Report abuse

I wonder, as the campaigns switch into high gear, if anyone will notice how Gov. Romney used a delay of pay raises negotiated with Mass. state employees to balance his budgets. The monies were held for more than 2 years, paid out in installments over 2 more years, and all without any consideration of losses by said employees. No interest or other compensation for those state workers was ever discussed or offered. Because he could and because he disdains any who - unlike himself - are not beyond the need to work for a living.

Posted by: Jazzman | July 11, 2007 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Did Michigan Readers notice that Joe Knollenberg was on the Republican protection list that Chris published recently?

I heard grumbling asking "why wasn't Tim 'Baghdad-is-as-safe-as-Detroit' Walhberg" on the list?"

What do people think about these two? How do they reflect on the larger trends in our state?

Oh, and did anyone catch Andrew Raczkowski talking to MiPR yesterday? He sounds like he is putting out feelers for another run against Sen. Levin. Seems Rocky enjoyed his quixotic journey.

Posted by: hrhqod1 | July 11, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

1) No Republican can win a state race without taking Oakland county. I agree that Brooks Patterson can't win a statewide election but his endorsement will bring in a lot of money and organization in Oakland County.
2) Thou shalt never underestimate Jennifer Granholm's ability to win an election.

Posted by: Michigan Mike | July 11, 2007 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the response Colin. These are good discussions.

Granholm would make a strong candidate, I just think the baggage she would bring in by being Governor during a failing economy would be to great to overcome (My remark as to her being "toast" would only be if she engineered her appointment if Levin retires mid term, which I think is unlikely).

I agree that some of the 9-6 disparity in the congressional delegation is because of how district lines were drawn. However, it still indicates that Michigan is more evenly divided than recent presidential elections would seem to show.

Finally, as to Granholm's resonsibility for Michigan's failing economy, it is not all hers. The auto industry is going down. But she does have the responsibility to act. Aside from some comparatively insignificant spending cuts, her major action is to call for increased taxes. In a falling economy, not only is that wrong, it is IMMENSELY unpopular, and the last time it occured, 2 or 3 state legislators were recalled. It will be interesting to watch.

Mike C.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Mike C. -- I think you're a little too optimistic about Republican chances in Michigan. The Congressional delegation has 9 republicans largely b/c of gerrymandering in the state when the GOP controlled the the state house. The next census will likely change that.

As far as Granholm goes, you can disparage her all you like but the idea that she wouldn't/won't make a very strong Senate candidate eventually seems more than a little silly to me.

Finally, Michigan's economy has been declining along with the auto industry since Republicans controlled the entire state government. Fixing that will take time -- just ask states like Ohio and Pa, which have been going through similar economic transformations since the late '70's, when their own industries (steel largely) evaporated. I mean really, do you think 4 1/2 years is sufficient to transition an economy that's been trending downward -- along with its primary industry -- for decades? That just doesn't make any sense.

Posted by: Colin | July 11, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

1. I had not read the speculation that Levin would take a cabinet position after the election. If that did happen, Gov Granholm would get the appointment. I don't think she would have the chuztpah to arrange to get the seat herself. If she did, she would be toast in the next election. In a special election, the Repubs would field a strong candidate against whoever was appointed.

2. I did not include L. Brooks Patterson because I did not think of him. Besides, he has never held a statewide office, and he is too old and too polarizing to win any nomination, let alone any election.

3. Granholm is a gifted politician but a lousy governor. The blame Engler mantra is getting old. She has been governor for 4 1/2 years. The state is getting nowhere. Deservedly or not, she will get (and is getting) the blame. Her negative job rating is 66% according to a late June poll.

4. While Michigan has gone Democratic in the last several Presidential elections, and its 2 Senators and governors are Democrats (and the state house), the state senate is Republican, 9 of the 15 US House seats are held by Republicans, and the other 2 major statewide offices, atty general and secretary of state, are in Republican hands. It would not take too much for the Relpublicans to make this a contested state in a national election.

Mike C.

Posted by: Mike C. | July 11, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Colin: The thought came to me during the discussion on the Libby commute thing. The parole/probation part is still confusing to me [not a lawyer] in that by reading the denied appeal, I fail to see how any parle/probation could even be enforced, since the fine has been paid, while the case is still on the way to the Supreme Court. Let us know how your research turns out.

Posted by: lylepink | July 11, 2007 1:22 AM | Report abuse


I like pictures of my endorsement elite.


Posted by: jojo | July 10, 2007 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Michigan is definitely trending more and more Democratic. That's because white-collar people, who lean Republican, are fleeing the state en masse to look for jobs in low-tax states, leaving behind a core constituency of Democratic voters who worship at the altar of the unions. Younger people are leaving Michigan at a very high rate because they cannot find jobs. So what you have left is a coalition of public sector government employees, ex-campus radical hippies, militantly secular upscale voters, and people who think the unions should get everything they want, even if it drives up taxes and drives business out of the state. The Detroit area is a shell of its former self, it's simply depressing. One commentator even referred to it as the nation's first real ex-city. The schools are the worst in the country, crime is still rampant everywhere, the city government and school board are completely corrupt, there are record home foreclosures, there is almost zero manufacturing left - it's horrible. The unions run everything and jack up the taxes sky-high to the point where anyone who can afford to get out usually does. Detroit has a deservedly horrible reputation, and its problems have spilled over into the suburbs, and now even those are rotting from economic decline and just overall despair.

So I think it will be a long time before a Republican carries Michigan. The Democratic union mentality rules Michigan and continues to run the state into the ground.

Posted by: Dominic | July 10, 2007 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Lylepink -- Agreed, very interesting question. I'd have to re-read Justice Stevens majority opinion in the Paula Jones case to figure out if the S. Crt addressed that particular scenerio already. If not, perhaps I'll research it myself. I fantasize about teaching someday myself and could use a publication. :) Cheers.

Posted by: Colin | July 10, 2007 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Colin: I was the one that asked Mark about the charging of a POTUS with a crime without impeachment, while still in office and even tried. I was basing the question on the years ago Justice of The Peace and Constables system, where I think a Constable was the only person that could arrest the POTUS. I doubt such a law exists and it would be a good research project for law students.

Posted by: lylepink | July 10, 2007 8:35 PM | Report abuse

back again. had to add a few points.

1)the migop may have a deep bench but still have to contend with the metro detroit area. to my knowlege none have actually campagined in the city of detroit.also the surronding counties are also dem leaning so if you cant win in detroit or the surrounding counties. you dont win michigan. ask Devos about that.

2)sen levin has repeatedly stated that he's running for re-election, being head of the armed services is a pretty good incentive. plus should he not run or get a cabinet position, say hello to senator jennifer grandholm.

3)Michigan is mostly a centrist state with grand rapids being the conservative center and metro detroit as the union liberal stronghold. oakland co.(a upscale county outside of detroit) voted dem in the last 4 elections. is it hard for a gop canidate to win in michgan. yup.

4)the only reason mi is in a state recession is due to the actions of gov engler cutting the tax base here and ruining the state. and not to mention the fact the big 3 shot themselves in the foot in continuing to make bad decsions. while im not uptodate on the recall rumors, i agree it would be a blood bath for both sides if new taxes are raised.(paging club for growth) maybe cc could do a friday line on potental michigan races.

g2g-all star game is on.

Posted by: spartan | July 10, 2007 7:53 PM | Report abuse

1) I agree with all of the commenters above that there is no one stupid enough to run against Carl Levin. However I do have a sneaking suspicion that he is fed up with Washington and ready to move on. I am not saying that he won't run but it wouldn't shock me if he accepted an offer to be in Hillary's cabinet. Say Labor Secretary. If that happens you can get used to saying Senator Gilda Jacobs.
2) Since the Democratic primary will still be in full swing I doubt many Democrats or even Independents will be voting in the Repulican primary.
3) How could you leave out L. Brooks Patterson?

Posted by: Michigan Mike | July 10, 2007 6:11 PM | Report abuse

The last post was from me.

Mike C.

Posted by: Mike C. | July 10, 2007 5:35 PM | Report abuse

As a Michigander, a few observations:

1. No one of any substance w will run against Levin. Although he is old, this term he is invulnerable.

2. Michigan Republicans have a much deeper bench than the Democrats. Cox, Miller,and Land have all held or hold statewide offices. There are no comparable Democrats.

3. Michigan is a blue state for presidential races, but is one of the more conservative states on social issues, with a ban on affirmative action and gay marriage, and probably the strongest Right to Life organization in the country. Most of the Democratic Reps to congress are pro life.

4. Michigan is in a 1 state recession, with no hope of getting out soon. With a Democratic Governor and the state House controlled by Dems, there is a tax increase in the works. If a tax increase passes without significant Republican support (and Repubs would be fools to support it) there will be a bloodbath. The last time that happened there were successful recalls (comparatively easy to get on the ballot in Michigan) and given the state of our economy, it will happen again.

5. Great board. I just found it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2007 5:33 PM | Report abuse

hrhqoud1, spartan, and Marty, thanks for the home-state insights.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 10, 2007 5:29 PM | Report abuse

As far as why Engler isn't on the list, he isnt involved in the state at all. The battles between him and Yob/DeVos soured him along with the embrassment of Bush losing after Engler called "Michigan a Bush firewall." He's happy with his job at the Manu. Association and being inside the beltway. The MI GOP has never been the same since 98 when Yob and Engler feuded over Romney/Smietanka.

Posted by: Marty | July 10, 2007 4:28 PM | Report abuse

The Romney name does still have some pull, but not much. It is primarily good for fundraising and media attention. Ronna Romney ran for Senate in 1994. She is Mitt's ex-sister in law. She was divorced but still ran, hoping the Romney name would help. The family endorsed Spencer Abraham in the primary and Ronna was trounced.

Scott Romney - Mitt's brother and the former husband of Ronna, has had some elected success. He's been elected and re-elected the the Michigan State Board of Trustees.

Scott did try to run for AG in 1998 but in a power struggle between Yob and Engler (who supported Romney,) Yob won and Romney was defeated at the convention. This had a trickle down effect as the candidate Yob supported, Johm Smietanka, an underfunded attorney who had run for AG before would be the nominee. Smietnaka would be trounced by Jennifer Granholm, who was an unknown at the time. So, yes Yob is not very brilliant and has had his share of embarassing moments, primarily helping Granholm become a household name. If Scott Romney had run against Granholm, she wouldve faced a much tougher opponent and perhaps would not be governor today.

One more note, I do not see any credible Republican candidates running against Levin. They know they will be trounced and they will not take that chance. If you cant be competitive against Stabenow, you have no chance with Levin at all.

Posted by: Marty | July 10, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

@ hrhqod1: spot on commentary. i also live in the great state of michigan, and i have a few thoughts on the gop instate.

1)having a nominating convention would really open up old wounds left by the betsy DeVos/engler spat. DeVos, a former state gop chair quit when when engler refused to support a school voucher ballot proposal,which went on to be defeated by voters. the state party have been turning hard right recently,but the state has strong dem roots with the uaw,and metro detroit area coming out to vote.

2)romney is a non entity in this state. my parents who moved here remembered governor miliken more than they did mitt's dad. the mittster is going to re introduce him self again instate.

3)Atty.General mike cox,secstate terri land and others are gunning for the open governor's seat when grandholm finally leaves office. no one and i repeat no one is dumb or rich enough to take on a powerhouse like levin. too much union support and has deep roots in metro detroit. cc dont even think about putting him on friday's line, that senate seat is beyond safe. a better bet would to target sen stabinow in 2012,which is also becoming a safe seat.

Posted by: spartan | July 10, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how many Americans understand that you can't pass legislation in America with 50% of the votes in Congress? How many of them understand that, outside of budget resolutions, you need 60 votes in the Senate? That a filibuster isn't a matter of Jimmy Stewart talking himself ragged for hours on end, but of merely declaring an intention to filibuster? And that this is done for all but the most routine matters? With the result that the 60-vote minimum is no longer reserved for occasional high-profile issues, but has been institutionalized for virtually all legislation of any consequence?

I figure maybe 2%.

It's why I think Dems really need to focus on exposing the Republicans' drive to block everything that moves. Voters hear Dems vow to tackle various legislative proposals, and then they hear that the bill failed. As far as Americans know, there's a Democratic House and a Democratic Congress -- why couldn't they pass the legislation they said they'd pass?

Senate Republicans, in the most cynical part of all of this, are basing their strategy on the notion that voters won't know better. They're counting on public ignorance and confusion to conceal their tactics.

The GOP has created a mess in the Senate. Dems need to make an effort to help expose those responsible.

Posted by: | July 10, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Mark -- Off the top of my head, I think you are absolutely correct that a sitting president could not be criminally prosecuted till they either left office or were removed from it. I'm not sure if indictment would be possible or not. If it was, are you positing that speedy trial rights, etc would be equitably tolled till prosecution could go forward? That could be right, but I actually tend to think it's an open question -- and an interesting one. Sorry I missed it the first time you raised the question.

Posted by: Colin | July 10, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Some thoughts from a Michigander.

1) The Michigan Republican Party has an open primary, mainly because they have been in the past too cheep to pay for a closed caucus (which is what the Michigan Democratic Party hosts). Thus good and loyal Democrats flock to the polls and vote for the candidate viewed as the weakest.

In 2000 Democrats soundly voted for McCain, simply to poke a finger in the eye of our reviled Governor Engler, who was the 2000 Chair of the Bush campaign in Michigan. (I note that Engle is NOT on your list of political elites, which in itself is an interesting commentary.) While the national pundits waxed poetic about how the Michigan McCain Democrats harkened back to the Reagan Democrats, Michiganders sat back shaking our heads.

Given this history, the Michigan Republican Party is kicking around the idea of having a nominating convention. This nominating convention would be a really ugly moment in the state party's history, once again, pitting Republicans from the east side of the state against the social conservatives of the west side of the state.

If this nominating convention occurs, I predict that the candidate viewed by the state's western social conservatives will pick the candidate they view as most strongly conservative on social issues.

2) I too echo the idea of Romney's feeble support. As noted by JimD, Frm. Gov. Romney was beloved by moderate Republicans. He lost their affection as he became more and more outspoken about social issues. These comments, of course, reflected the Christian Conservative movement which was taking over the Michigan Republican party during the 1980's and 1990's.

Moderate republicans who believed in low taxes and good governance, have mainly been forced out of the Michigan Republican party. Many have become conservative Democrats, or have abstained from voting. (And, as noted by Joyce, many have died, it is a span of more than three decades...)

For this reason, I would not assume that Romney has Michigan tied up, simply because his father was the Governor. However, if he can position himself as THE cultural conservative, and there is a nominating convention, Romney may be the favorite.

3) Reason poses a good question regarding who will run against Carl Levin next year. This is quite unclear. In 2002, the Michigan Republican party pushed a term-limited State Representative, Andrew Raczkowski into running, as an exercise in party loyalty. When he was predictably trounced, the Michigan Republican party turned their backs on their defeated candidate. Having seen this scenario, very few legitimate candidates wish to carry the party's banner against Levin. Certainly AG Mike Cox, and Rep Candice Miller don't want to give up their current positions of power, for what would ultimately be a losing run. While these two both have their eyes on bigger and better things, it is easier to run as a sitting officeholder, than a failed Senate candidate.

4) A note to Chris. I echo Veronica's assessment of Chuck Yob. He is a blowhard who is best kept in Washington so as to keep his nasty --oftentimes foolish-- comments out of the local papers. He forever alienated Michigan voters when he continued his personal attack-oriented campaign against Bart Stupack, while the Stupack family was grieving the loss of their son. You should view much of what Yob says with a skeptical lens.

Posted by: hrhqod1 | July 10, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse


"The cold hard facts show that smaller, lighter cars are generally less safe than larger heavier cars"

"Larger sized cars provide better protection in a crash than small cars, passenger vans and sports cars."

"The laws of physics dictate that larger and heavier cars are safer than lighter and smaller ones. Small cars have twice as many occupant deaths each year as large cars."

Posted by: JD | July 10, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Colin and lylepink -

On Saturday, lylep asked me if I thought a Prez could be tried for obstruction of justice without first being impeached. I said I thought the implication of the Paula Jones case was that a Prez could not be tried, but that he could be indicted - although that took analogy from a civil case.
I said that maybe Colin would know.

Colin, what do you think?

I have to work now and will look in later.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 10, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Drindle says:

"Detroit already builds small, fuel-efficient cars for the European market, so there are no new costs associated with that. What they refuse to do is sell them here, because they are less profitable -- and they also block importation of competitors.

There is nothing 'free market' about that -- Americans are being denied more cost-effective choices."

Drindle, refusing to sell the prodect that your business sells is never profitable.

Second, you say there is nothing "free market" about blocking importation from competitors. You are exactly right about that. You seem to falsely associate my positions with some corporatist position that is very negative to you. You shouldn't assume that because I in some ways defended Detroit that I agree with them on anything else. I defended Detroit on the basis of consumer choice, which is the exact same reason that I am for free trade, and have consistently and vigorously been free trade on this blog.

Posted by: Razorback | July 10, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

I know JimD was NOT advocating inaction.

Joyce, thanks for the tidbit about George Romney.

Razorback, if you get back here tonight, I
agree with much of what you wrote at 12:40p. When I called fission a "stopgap", I meant it too was a finite resource, although I think we are in no danger of using it up in a century.

My own experience as a management side lawyer gives me more hope than most for corporations, but less than you - I have seen a "kid" MBA hotshot lay off just about everyone as a cost cutting tool only to hire new people months later.

I was taught that it makes sense to hold onto a core [perhaps a corps] of good employees in lean times because they are not mere interchangeable parts. I have seen very short term thinking be pervasive in good times, as well.

The larger the company, it seems the less control stockholder elected directors have over management, which is often self-serving. The corporation is a great invention for attracting capital to produce a service or a thing. It is not necessarily a rational entity, and it can live for years making stupid choices if it is strongly capitalized, or has patents, or owns oil fields, or sells insurance.

In the 80s I had dealings on behalf of a small company with counsel for two of America's very largest chemical companies. One was efficient and smart in its dealings and the other was wasteful and stupid. They had both survived and thrived for more than 50 years. The wasteful stupid company has since merged into a bigger company. I do not know its corporate habits.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 10, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

My take is that the Big 3 generally bring out innovations in mileage, safety, etc about as fast as they can, in order to make money. With the sad state of their financial affairs, they cannot afford to wait, monopoly style, to slowly introduce innovations, as some have suggested.

Colin I'm not against introducing fuel efficiency standards, or even raising them; my point is, that there are many hidden costs involved in doing so. A slimy, cowardly politician may be loathe to introduce a $2/gallon tax on gas, but it's easy to pass a bill to mandate, for example, 45 mpg minimum. And when the cost of cars jumps 25% to enable that CAFE standard, who pays? And who can least afford it?

Hidden costs and mucking with the market. Not the best thing. All I'm saying is, if you're a politician, don't be a GW hypocrite. I see more Dems than Repubs with this status wrt this issue (since the Dems tend to have the greener go-to-market message), but the GOP certainly is certainly not immune.

Posted by: JD | July 10, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

I'd agree with Joyce, that Michigan might be a decent fundraising state for Romney, but only because of OLD family connections. The Romneys essentially became political non-entities in Michigan after George's time in the Nixon administration, and Mitt hasn't exactly put down roots there. I think that there's a fundamental shift in party politics going on in Michigan, too, with their Republic party experiences under John Engler, Republic party control of the Legislature for many years, and the pain of the Shrub administration effectively letting conservative politics write itself out of the picture. Michigan voters don't mind government, as long as it is GOOD government without blunders and without gold-plating. My home county was once about as reliably Republican as you could get, long represented in the Michigan Senate by Johnny Engler himself...the 2006 elections resulted in a county commission flipping from what once was Republican with a lone Democrat to Democratic with a lone Republican. THAT says something about how fed up the average Michiganian has become with Republican "look-out-only-for-yourself/do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do/business-means-golden-parachute-then-declare-bankruptcy" politics.

Posted by: Dean | July 10, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Razor - For the most part Republicans have been in denial instead of hypocritical on global warming. My "duh" was a generic since virtually all politicians are hypocritical on at least some issues. Just look at positions both sides took on Clinton's impeachment versus Libby's commutation.

Mark/drindl - I hope you realize I was not advocating doing nothing until we are in exremis. I just think that given our political system, that is what will happen.

Joyce - I did not realize George Romney even lived that long and, although I have always followed the news fairly closely, I did not know that about him.

Posted by: JimD in FL | July 10, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Detroit already builds small, fuel-efficient cars for the European market, so there are no new costs associated with that. What they refuse to do is sell them here, because they are less profitable -- and they also block importation of competitors.

There is nothing 'free market' about that -- Americans are being denied more cost-effective choices.

Posted by: drindl | July 10, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

JD -

As an aside, I think I would support, in principle, both a "carbon tax" and "cap-and-trade" as influencing decision making rather than nationalizing [socializing] an industry or industries.

But I also think I would support more NSF r&d money into our university graduate schools of science and engineering to support alternative energy source development.

I see the bang-for-the-buck out of the grad schools as enormous - because grad students are highly skilled and lowly paid for what they do, because universities license at reasonable rates, etc.

I know that NASA says one shuttle load of He3 could power America for a year - with safe thermonuclear reactors that do not, of course, exist. So NASA wants a moonbase to sort He3 out of the dust. China and Russia are both thinking to establish bases on the moon for the same reason. Congress is reluctant to fund. I simply do NOT know.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 10, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Mark in Austin:

I will be gone most of the afternoon and must go soon, so this is a quickie response:

1. I think US corporations react to the known, which is mostly but not entirely short term.

2. I do not think nuclear is only stopgap. I think nuclear is one of the things that the Europeans have right.

3. Its all about the costs. You cannot plan rationally without knowing the costs. If US corporations are facing known costs, they will respond rationally. Whether nuclear is cost effective depends on the amount of the carbon tax. The debate is not honest unless its clear to all that its the consumer that ultimately pays.

4. The market will work while we wait for technology. We do not need congress to tell us to buy smaller cars, our pocket books tell us that when we fill up. The consumer will drive the technology. In the mean time, lets not get sucked in by subsidies that will mostly benefit the shareholders of large corporations. For example, Arnold (CA gov) wants to build hydrogen distribution stations. This is risky. Hygrogen might not work. Why put the taxpayers out on that limb, when private persons who take risks and profit from them are the ones who should be out on that limb.

Posted by: Razorback | July 10, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I think with the rising price (and no pertinent rational criteria) for natural gas, oil, and gasoline prices ,we might have an issues campaign. It will be like Pero, who as an Independent went on TV and did a budget for us. Then, everything was about money. And debt.

But even with the EIA (Energy Information Administration) under the Dept of Energy saying we have massive reserves, the hedging and futures money markets still find a "doom and gloom" scenario to increase fuels. Even beyond what most Public Utility Commissioners and energy attys and consultants will tell you is rational.

And so what happens, one day many moons before an election, when a label is slapped on Romney that says "Bush's Oil and Gas man?" And people start reading about Distrigas and El Paso's failed LNG gas project from Algeria 30 years ago and a BILLION DOLLARS in defaulted Export Import and MARAD shipbuilding loans?

Romney resurrected the beast that would cause our country to go into a severe recession that LNG foreign gas (Distrigas) FERC dockets are going to produce. The blue states had a Red Republican Governor do a deal in Md Mass and Florida and Ca. Arnold had to kill the LNG "beast". Romney's favor in Massachusetts he p[assed before leaving the Governorship will cost him the presidency.

Posted by: peggy | July 10, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Razorback: I have stated before many times I would call anyone on a "Flat out Lie" against anyone. That is what you are doing to Hillary by your 11:39 AM post.

Posted by: lylepink | July 10, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

1] Motor fuel. Exponential increase in consumption in India and China will dwarf the increased availability of petroleum from Canada and the former Soviet Republics, probably within the next ten years. The tripling of oil prices in the last decade is due more to Chinese and Indian demand increase than to curtailed supply from OPEC,
Iraq, and Nigeria, or any claimed decline in refining capacity. I suppose, like JimD, we will do little or nothing until the ratio of supply to demand is so small that most consumers will not be able to afford motor transportation, but it sure is worth a discussion, first. JD [and Razorback] put your analytical talent to work assuming the dynamics I am suggesting, rather than using a snapshot of supply and demand in a single moment. An American corporation will generally be pressed to consider profit right this minute, rather than optimizing its profit over a century.
It does not mean we the citizens cannot force longer range thinking about limited resources.

2] Stationary power generation. Coal is the most plentiful fossil fuel and China is sure using it. Japan and Korea are complaining bitterly,
and there is some hope
that international pressure will lead to cleaner burning coal plants, already well within technological grasp.
Nuclear power is another stopgap.
But, again, unless we can do something bold like bring He3 back from the Moon, we are facing an optimization-over-time problem.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 10, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Drindle says:

"Yes, the solutions are complicated and possibly expensive. So let's just give up and do nothing, and let the rest of the world completely outpace us in technological innovation, as they already are.

Whatever happened to the American spirit? Whatever happened to wanting to take on hallenges and fine solutions? Good thing the 'free marketers' weren't around when we wanted to go to the moon, they would never have gone for it -- might cost something, you know."

Possibly expensive? Dingell says 50 cents a gallon. Former Sen. Bradley says $1 a gallon.

I have never stated we should do nothing. I have stated the solution must be rationally related to the problem. An engineer could calculate the expected benefit of Dingell's carbon tax and new mileage standards.

The benefits of those policies could be measured in terms of how many weeks worth of Chinese coal plants our sacrifice was offsetting. My very rough guess is that it might be 1.5 years worth of Chinese coal plants.

The free marketers were all for going to the moon. It helped to develop rocket technology which Reagan used to start an arms race which was won by superior capitalist technology, thereby placing the Soviet Union on the ash heap of history and bringing about the worldwide spread of capitalism.

The American spirit is not served by cutting our own throats to benefit the ChiComs.

Posted by: Razorback | July 10, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

JimD in FL,

I understand that virtually no politician supported abortion or gay rights in the 1960s. My point is that, in retirement and as a former governor, George Romney spoke out against abortion and gay rights throughout the 1980s and up until his death in 1995.

And while you may remember George Romney's presidential campaign despite not being of voting age, I'd bet you are a very distinct and small minority among the voting-age population.

Posted by: Joyce | July 10, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

What a great day to be a Republican -- NOT

Vitter banging (more) hookers.

Gonzo lying (now there's a surprise).

GOP poll numbers hitting new lows.

Former GOP icon McCain's campaign imploding.

Love it!

Posted by: Loudoun Voter | July 10, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

"Cars (and trucks) will have to greatly shrink in size...there is no doubt this will cause more deaths on the highways."

JD, I don't think that's entirely true. Yes, in a collision between a small vehicle and a large vehicle, the small vehicle will take more damage, and the driver of the small vehicle is more likely to be injured/killed. But if vehicles in general were made smaller, that wouldn't be as much of a problem.

But more importantly, small cars are actually safer than large cars, because they're more maneuverable. The stopping distance and handling are much better for small cars, because of simple physics. A Beetle is less likely to get into an accident than a Suburban, so it doesn't matter that a Suburban is a safer place to be during an accident.

Malcolm Gladwell had an article about this a few years ago in the New Yorker. You can read it on his website,, if you're interested.

Posted by: Blarg | July 10, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

JimDinFL says:

"Neither party has been a profile in courage when it comes to advocating sacrifice and unpopular measures. I am afraid that, barring a revolutionary technological breakthrough, we will not implement meaningful measures until we are in extremis.

As for all the accusations of hypocrisy on the part of politicians - well, duh!"

Where the Republican hypocrisy on global warming? Their advocacy has been ineffective, not hypocritical. Republicans have been largely silent on the costs of a global warming solution, and have instead focused on the minority of scientists who question global warming. Republicans should have known that Dingless

On the other hand, Al Gore and the other Hollywood types have reaped financial and public relations riches talking about the global warming problem, yet they are too gutless to talk about the costs of a solution.

John Travolta is on the board of an environmental adovocacy group, but parks his 707 outside his house:

Posted by: Razorback | July 10, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse


Virtually no politician supported gay rights and few supported abortion in the late 60's. I am old enough to remember Romney's abortive presidential campaign - even though not of voting age at the time. I also remember Ted Sorenson saying JFK thought George Romney would be a formidable presidential candidate.

Posted by: JimD in FL | July 10, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Yes, the solutions are complicated and possibly expensive. So let's just give up and do nothing, and let the rest of the world completely outpace us in technological innovation, as they already are.

Whatever happened to the American spirit? Whatever happened to wanting to take on hallenges and fine solutions? Good thing the 'free marketers' weren't around when we wanted to go to the moon, they would never have gone for it -- might cost something, you know.

Posted by: drindl | July 10, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Any appeal that Romney has in MI because of his father will be extremely limited.

Most people in MI under the age of 50 have never heard of George Romney. No one under the age of 60 would ever have been eligible to vote for George Romney for Governor.

George Romney, while considered a "Rockefeller Republican" at the time of his governorship because of his support for civil rights, fair housing, and moderate economic policies, was actually quite conservative on social issues. Unlike his son, George Romney was strongly and consistently pro-life on abortion, and he publicly opposed gay rights. Neither of these issues were prominent during his governorship (Romney left office four years before Roe was decided), but in his retirement years he was an outspoken conservative on social and moral issues and would be considered much more consistently conservative than his son is today.

Mitt Romney will be able to raise more money in MI than the others because of his family's history in the state, but as far as primary votes are concerned, the connection is almost meaningless, and the comparison to his father on the social issues may actually be a drawback for him.

Posted by: Joyce | July 10, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Razorback -- AIDS rates ARE higher in minority communities, in part b/c contraceptives are not used as often by such individuals. This is particularly true amongst gay african american men, who -- b/c of the stigma of homosexuality in the black community -- are less likely to be open about their sexuality. That's the issue she's addressing, and it's factually accurate. Regardless, the discrimination she's challenging is WITHIN the african american community.

Posted by: Colin | July 10, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Of COURSE there will be costs associated with change, including costs that will hit certain groups quite hard. There are ALWAYS costs associated with change...just as there are costs associated with failing to act till we're in crisis. What I would suggest, to both JD and Razorback, is that the country engage in a dialogue regarding what changes we can make now that will produce positive outcomes without destroying any particular industry or group.

Now, Detroit will scream that ANY change will preclude them from competing. That is, of course, BS. Some of the more vitriolic environmental groups will argue that anything short of eliminating cars is insufficient. This too is, of course, ridiculous. But I am confident, even if I don't know the specific formula off the top of my liberal arts educated head, that there is a healthy middle ground between doing nothing and changing everything all at once.

JD -- out of curiosity, are are you against any changes to fuel efficiency standards? Some of the costs you cite are unavoidable, but not all of them. A good friend of mine - who is quite conservative, incidentally -- is a lawyer AND engineer for Ford. According to him, it's quite possible to maintain high safety levels in smaller cars today -- it just requires more inovative designs. Personally, I think that the US market is capable of building of producing more technology to solve such problems -- especially if the government incentivises that kind of thinking.

Posted by: Colin | July 10, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Colin says:

"Likewise, not sure how saying that IV drug use is a cause of Aids is really impressive truth telling. Remind me again -- what powerful political constituency is it that is driving the pro-IV drug use agenda? EVERYONE is against drug use -- "

Hillary was before a minority audience and chose to imply to them that the problem was related to discrimination, rather than IV drug use. She pandered in a manner that pretended the problem was cause by something other than what it is acually caused by.

Posted by: Razorback | July 10, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Drindle, its NOT about what government does, its not about what Detroit does, its about what the CONSUMER does.

The sole criteria for a profitable business is to provide a product that the consumer finds value in.

The only reason Detroit makes Humvees is because that is what some consumers want.

The reason why its so fashionable to bash Detroit is that it enables politicians to
say its bad for consumers to buy big cars without losing the votes of those who want big cars. Drindle, the only way to solve the problem, if you are in fact right about it, is for you and those who agree with you to stand up and tell the American consumer YOU CANT HAVE BIG CARS, this is the new policy.

This will never happen. Instead, politicians will use the "mileage standards" to force Detroit into making smaller cars, without being direct about the fact that this is a policy to deprive consumers of choice.

Forcing Detroit to make smaller cars is like telling the Boston Red Sox that you might be a good baseball team, but now you are going to have to try to play football.
The Japanese excels in the small car market, Detroit excels in other segments of the market. When you take those segments away,and tell Detroit to compete at something the others are best at, you KILL UNION JOBS. Unions are too stupid to realize that, but that is exactly how it works.

For example you mention like tax breaks for insulating your home.

Posted by: Razorback | July 10, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

'David Vitter's involvement in the D.C Madam scandal could have consequences for the presidential race: It has been noted that Vitter was one of the first Southerners to endorse Rudy Giuliani's campaign, and was going to serve as Rudy's main liaison to social conservatives. But as it stands now, Vitter's admitted past involvement with prostitutes doesn't make him awfully credible at reaching out to the Christian Right on Giuliani's behalf.'

Interesting how it's always the moralizers, the preachy, smug do-goodies, 'family values' moralizers, pointing fingers at everyone else, who end up getting caught in bed with the dead girl or live boy... a case of 'thou doth protest too much'

Anyway, Rudy's hypocritical supporters appear willing to shut their eyes and swallow whatever he does anyway, so what difference should this make?

Posted by: drindl | July 10, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Re global warming - barring some revolutionary breakthrough in filtering technology, solutions will be painful and expensive. That means they will be unpopular and politically dangerous to advocate. Neither party has been a profile in courage when it comes to advocating sacrifice and unpopular measures. I am afraid that, barring a revolutionary technological breakthrough, we will not implement meaningful measures until we are in extremis.

As for all the accusations of hypocrisy on the part of politicians - well, duh!

Posted by: JimD in FL | July 10, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

while it's true that we could raise the fuel economy standards for Detroit, we cannot pretend it won't have costs (if only hidden costs).


- the cost of new cars will rise, to fund the technology, R&D, space age composites, etc necessary to make that happen

- cars (and trucks) will have to greatly shrink in size. Having read many FHWA reports on this subject (my company produced some of them), there is no doubt this will cause more deaths on the highways.

Yes Detroit makes high-efficiency cars for the European market; but Euros are used to buying those golf carts - we like our behemoths as you call them. And isn't there already a gas guzzler tax? Maybe we need to triple it, or make it 10x bigger. Of course, now you greatly distort the market for used cars if you do that.

So many unintended consequences....

Posted by: JD | July 10, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Vice President Dick Cheney's popularity has hit an all-time low, with recent polling by The New York Times and CBS News suggesting that he has replaced Dan Quayle as the most unpopular vice president in recent history.

Mr. Cheney's favorability among Americans fell to 13 percent in May.

The polling shows that he is even having trouble among his conservative base. Just 31 percent of Republicans and 26 percent of conservatives say they have a favorable opinion of Mr. Cheney

Posted by: 13% | July 10, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Everyone needs to go see CNN's hit piece on Michael Moore. First they introduce Moore, then unleash a TOTALLY false and misleading hit piece on SiCKO called a "Reality Check" that was totally factually incorrect and tried to call Moore out for "fudging". So after the hit piece they have Moore on and he is (understandably) BALISTIC.


I encourage EVERYONE to stand up to the insane, ludicrous lies by Wolf Blitzer and Sanjay Gupta. PLEASE WRITE TO CNN after watching the piece on Michael's site. Thanks.

Write to CNN here:

Situation Room

Wolf Blizter

Sanjay Gupta

Please demand (nicely) that they correct the record, apologize to Michael, and apologize to the CNN viewing audience for lying to them.

Posted by: F&B | July 10, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I'd say Hoekstra is less than thrilled about tagging along on the Romney bandwagon. Anybody seen his subdued pro-Romney cable/Sunday news appearances? He's not the biggest Mitt cheerleader.

"Tipping point in Iraq debate?"

Posted by: mp | July 10, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Razorback -- So telling a roomfull of african americans that their community has sometimes been guilty of homophobia is pandering? Not sure I follow your logic. Likewise, not sure how saying that IV drug use is a cause of Aids is really impressive truth telling. Remind me again -- what powerful political constituency is it that is driving the pro-IV drug use agenda? EVERYONE is against drug use -- that's actualy one of the least controversial stances I can think of.

Posted by: Colin | July 10, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, had said on Monday, "What many of us are looking for is a new strategy that would not be a precipitous pullout with all of the problems that would cause, but rather a plan to exit over the next year."

--before the elections, would be my guess

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2007 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Another very important energy-efficiency auto improvement would be ADJUSTABLE SEAT BELTS FOR SMALL CHILDREN.

The only reason why car seats are needed for children past a certain (low) age is that shoulder seat belts do not adjust for small riders. This is stupid.

Why should families have to buy a gas guzzling SUV or minivan just because they have multiple small kids who all "need" car seats?

Simple adjustable shoulder seat belts qould eliminate the need for those bulky car seats for the kids above toddler age.

Posted by: Golgi | July 10, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

having razorback enter the room is like having a quiet chat with a small group at a party, and then a huge, red-faced bully slams open the door, rudely shoves people aside, starts screaming and calling everyone names, then vomits all over the furniture.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Charles said:

"Obama is the true 'Straight Talker':

Some of Obama's recent statements and where he made them:

•Asked about AIDS at a minority issues forum June 28 at Howard University, Obama said homosexuality still carries "a stigma" in black communities. "It has been an aspect of sometimes a homophobia, that we don't address this issue as clearly as it needs to be," he said."

At the same debate, Hillary made some statement about how if the AIDS rate among white women was the same as it was among minorities, that it would be a big deal and the problem would be addressed.

NEITHER of these positions are "straight talk", actually, its the worst kind of pandering.

AIDS in the minority community has nothing to do with stigmatism of gays, or with discrimination. It has everything to do with the use of needles to inject drugs.

Straight talk on AIDS is this:

I believe we have an obligation to help the less fortunate. I believe we should formulate policies to attack the AIDS virus and to help reduce the suffering of those who have AIDS. But let me tell you this, there is no policy and no program that can protect you from AIDS if you continuously inject yourself with needles while doing drugs.

Posted by: Razorback | July 10, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Chuck Yob is a blowhard. His influence in "delivering votes" among the "grassroots" is vastly overrated, unless you're referring to losing elections:

- In 1998 he backed the losing candidate for Attorney General.

- In 2000 he barely managed 40% of the vote as a candidate himself in a race for Congress. He also backed Bush in the Michigan presidential primary. Bush was trounced by McCain in Michigan.

- In 2002 he claimed credit for "recruiting" the winning candidate for Attorney General, as soon as it appeared that candidate was going to win.

- Also in 2002, he suggested that a female candidate was preferred on the Republican ticket for Secretary of State, because "women like that kind of work." Then he questioned whether the Democratic nominee for Secretary of State was really African-American, saying that he thought the candidate didn't look African-American and was really "Hawaiian."

- In 2004 he backed two candidates for state party chairman, both of whom withdrew for lack of support.

- In 2006, he tried to oust the incumbent state party chairman, and his effort blew up in his face.

"Endorsements" themselves are overrated in Michigan primaries. Ask former Governor John Engler about this sometime.

Posted by: Veronica | July 10, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

'A complete idiot said:'

razorback's idea of a civil converation. let me see, in this post, alone, he used the word 'idiot' what is it? 6 times.

oh well, rational conversation is over for the day. the con steamroller is here.

'If I was in charge of the debate, the only topic of discussion on any conservative media of any kind yesterday would have been Dingell's gas tax proposal.'

there's no attempt at discussion, no search for a solution -- it's all about partisan ranting and trying to find a way to blame liberals for all the world's problems.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

'One of the tactics from the right wing bloggers that annoys me is constructing some ludicrous straw man argument composed of caricatures of liberal positions on a range of issues.'

Thank you for putting that so well, JimD. That seems to be the way almost all of them work. It's not a conversation -- if you engage them, you don't get a dialogue, you get a diatrabe and an assault [on Reason, if you will]. Yesterday, this razor person flipped out on me and I wasn't even the person he had been arguing with.

I appreciate your opinions and hope i haven't been rude, as I sometime get ... overenthusiastic.

I agree with you JD, that some market solutions like carbon tax, etc, sanctions on China, etc, should be discussed, but even things we did 20 years ago [and Reagan defunded] like tax breaks for insulating your home, installing solar, manufacturing more energy efficient appliances, etc. should be brought back.

And why not slap a big tax on huge gas guzzlers like Humvees? Raising the fuel economy standards on ALL cars is a must. Cars get worse mileage now than they did 20 years ago. We are going backwards. And it's not because Detroit can't do it. They make very fuel efficient cars for the European market. They don't WANT to sell those here, because there's much more profit in the behemoths. But it's time for those who pollute the most to pay the most.

We have to tell Detroit to stop whining and build better cars, and to stop blocking foreign imports with better mileage [which they also do]. Even China and South have higher fuel efficiency standards than we do... the rest of the world is leaving the US behind technology--we need to catch up.

Posted by: drindl | July 10, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

A complete idiot said:

"Because razorback is a nasty, hectoring, bully. All he does is push the talking points of the rightwingers -- we better not try to do anything about climate change because it might cost someting."

This complete idiot is right that SOMETIMES I am a nasty, hectoring, bully. I am a nasty hectoring bully when someone lies or brings nothing to the debate except an ill informed deeply held opinion. I am not a nasty hectoring bully when it comes to Bokonon, Mark in Austin, JimDinFL, Blarg and some of the others who often disagree with me on issues, but are well informed and rational in their positions.

What makes this poster a complete idiot is that they misrepresent my position on global warming. I have repeatedly stated that I think global warming is a serious problem. This complete idiot lied about my position.

This complete idiot also uses the standard "talking points" response.

I use no talking points published by any special interest group. I am not affiliated with any special interest group, period. I challenge any of the 15 or 20 idiots who continually posted that I use talking points to find ANY talking points that are similar to what I post.

I think the right has completely misunderstood the global warming debate. Some in the right have sought to prove that global warming isn't happening or is greatly exaggerated. This is a tactically ignorant debate methodology.

The real debate should focus on what is a solution, assuming the center/left is correct in its description of the problem. Rush/Hannity/Bush/Zouk/
Inhofe/RNC/Cato/Heritage all miss this point. I do not use their talking points, they should use mine.

It is completely idiotic and false to suggest that I use talking points. And just for the record, I wish some of the idiots who post on here would use talking points, then at least there would be some facts to rebut in what they post.

Any time anyone says global warming is problem, they should be asked this question "Assuming you are right as to the problem, what do you propose as a solution".

The left's "scientific consensus" argument disappears, because there is no scientific consensus on the SOLUTION. Kyoto is rendered ignorant, because it exempts China and India. As MarkinAustin pointed out:

"Every week to 10 days, another coal-fired power plant opens somewhere in China that is big enough to serve all the households in Dallas or San Diego."

A solution is irrational if it doesn't address the problem. Any solution that does not address China is irrational.

If I was in charge of the debate, the only topic of discussion on any conservative media of any kind yesterday would have been Dingell's gas tax proposal. This is because liberals have attempted to argue that the cost of global warming will be paid by corporations. Sen. Dodd calls his carbon tax a "corporate carbon tax". This is a BIG LIE. Consumers pay the cost, and Dingell finally acknowleged that.

Find me a talking point anywhere that says what I just said, or shut up about talking points.

Posted by: Razorback | July 10, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

JimD -- Without a doubt, folks that are left of center can be irrational and resort to name calling just like folks to the right. I actually like this blog precisely b/c it allows for generally civil discussions from multiple points of view - yours included.

JD -- I'm happy to discuss the merits of a carbon tax or any other proposed measure that will help address environmental concerns. And in point of fact, I may support a carbon tax as part of a package of reforms. My point, however, is that there are a variety of measures that the government can take to help spur the move towards more environmentally friendly technologies that don't include taxes that would disproportionally fall on middle class and working class families. Responding to a straw man about how Democrats want to "tax tax tax," however, doesn't allow for much of a conversation about those kinds of issues.

Personally, I think it makes a heck of a lot more sense to significantly raise mileage requirements on new cars and increase government investment in cleaner fuel technologies, in the form of a modern dan Manhattan project at this stage. Such changes would hurt the auto industry in the short term, but some of that pain could be reduced by relieving the industry of its health care obligations by passing a free-market based health care plan. But that's just one idea. The point is, there are LOTS of ways to move towards a more environmentally friendly economy that are distinct from a carbon tax.

Posted by: Colin | July 10, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

With all of these states proposing moving up primaries, is it possible we could see the Iowa caucus the 2nd week of January or so? That would make an incredibly long political year. Hell, it already is an entirely too long political year. If this happens, by November 08', we may have the lowest voting turnout in history. What does everyone else think a long political year will do to an election? Increase? Decrease? or keep voter turnout the same?

Posted by: reason | July 10, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Obama is the true 'Straight Talker':

Some of Obama's recent statements and where he made them:

•Asked about AIDS at a minority issues forum June 28 at Howard University, Obama said homosexuality still carries "a stigma" in black communities. "It has been an aspect of sometimes a homophobia, that we don't address this issue as clearly as it needs to be," he said.

•At a National Education Association meeting last week in Philadelphia, Obama reiterated his support for merit pay for teachers. The teachers union says merit pay forces teachers to compete rather than cooperate and doesn't solve the underlying problem of low pay.

•A couple of days before Father's Day, at Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Spartanburg, S.C., the senator spoke about the responsibilities of fathers: "There are a lot of men out there who need to stop acting like boys, who need to realize that responsibility does not end at conception, who need to know that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one."

•In Detroit, Obama scolded the auto industry for failing to develop "clean cars" and unveiled a plan for tough fuel-efficiency requirements.

Posted by: Charles | July 10, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse


One of the tactics from the right wing bloggers that annoys me is constructing some ludicrous straw man argument composed of caricatures of liberal positions on a range of issues. The blogger then challenges "the enemy" to justify these positions - regardless of whether those positions are even germane to the topic under discussion.

The annoying left wing bloggers tend to call you a liar and impugn your motives. Anyone who disagrees with them must be a paid corporate shill or a deluded follower of Rush Limbaugh. Some get quite hysterical.

Since I am a centrist who sometimes agrees with the right and sometimes the left and sometimes with neither - I get it from all sides. Most of the regulars here though, with one or two notable exceptions, do try to respond rationally to me.

Posted by: JimD in FL | July 10, 2007 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Colin and M in A,

I know that you don't want the carbon tax proposed because of the danger it will be used as a weapon, but if the Dems claim to be on the side of addressing GW (Global Warming, not Bush), and don't propose a carbon tax or something similar, they open themselves up to the hypocracy charge.

Although some Repubs are GW skeptics, others are far more pragmatic about it (Samuelson at this paper, e.g.) and have proposed such a tax.

As a non-Repub libertarian, I believe that anything short of engineering market conditions to make this happen, including carbon tax, cap-and-trade, and sanctions on both China and India to step up to their obligations, is just posturing.

Posted by: JD | July 10, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Obama gets N.H. endorsement from the Stonyfield Yogurt folks ... read full article at to see why this is a big deal.

Here is a very revealing clip from that article.

"The Hirshbergs made it clear that their choice would be a tactical one. Their main concern? Finding someone who can defeat Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the state's primary, by custom the first in the nation. 'It would be hard enough for any woman,' Meg Hirshberg explains. 'But she has higher negatives than anyone on either side of the aisle. I don't believe we can start out with someone who, at the starting gate, is disliked by so many people. I'm not justifying their dislike. I think a lot of it is unfair, but I can't make it go away and neither can she.'"

Posted by: Golgi | July 10, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Golgi -- I must have missed the specific Arnold speech you're referencing, but I agree that he's really come around on environmental issues and has a commendable forward looking approach to how environmental technology can serve as an economic plus for states like California. I'm skeptical of Arnold largely b/c he pushed a decidedly more conservative agenda before it looked like he might not get elected, but I generally like his current policy views. And honestly, it's good to see ANY GOP moderates today. Unlike Collins and Snow, Arnold will actually lead on some Center-Left issues instead of being either the 49th or 51st vote for something. That's something.

Posted by: Colin | July 10, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

The boost in troop levels in Iraq has increased the cost of war there and in Afghanistan to $12 billion a month, and the total for Iraq alone is nearing a half-trillion dollars, congressional analysts say.

All told, Congress has appropriated $610 billion in war-related money since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror assaults, roughly the same as the war in Vietnam. Iraq alone has cost $450 billion.

The figures come from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, which provides research and analysis to lawmakers.

For the 2007 budget year, CRS says, the $166 billion appropriated to the Pentagon represents a 40 percent increase over 2006.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Duh, I typed Colin in that signature because I had just typed Colin...
And for the paranoid out there, no, Golgi does not equal Colin :)

Posted by: Golgi | July 10, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I don't think there are too many people left in Michigan that care about Republican politics and who their sorry nominee is.

Posted by: Sara B. | July 10, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Hey Colin, That is interesting. I think I heard Schwarzenegger give a speech in Detroit with similar content (or else it was a speech elsewhere ABOUT his impressions of Detroit, I can't remember... but anyway the point was exactly the same). So Obama and Schwarzenegger are on the same wavelength here!

It's always noteworthy when a D and an R (who both get crossover votes themselves) feel the same way about an issue.

Posted by: Colin | July 10, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone see the Shankar Vedantam article covering that economist who figured out that big fluctuations in crime rates follow big fluctuations in lead levels?

Here is the gist. There was a lead removal program in NY City that predated Giuliani's favorite crime drop by the right number of years (i.e., when a lot of the fresh law-abiders-to-be were little kids living in places that had just stopped being poisonous with lead). The same finding happened in a lot of other locations at different times associated with lead changes.

The economist (Rick Nevin) isn't saying that lead causes ALL crime, of course. He is saying that if you look at all the available data, fluctuations in lead predict that there will be fluctuations in crime.

If this is right, it is very conceivable that Giuliani was just riding a wave that was already there.

Here is the article

Posted by: Golgi | July 10, 2007 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Mark -- I agree with your comment about civility and, personally, am happy to talk about the trade-offs that inevitably have to be reconciled when you talk about environmental changes. The problem, from my perspective, is that many (certainly not all) on the Right seem unwilling to even consider the possibility that pursuing environmentally sustainable solutions will also produce new avenues of economic growth, even while it closes others.

Now, will that equal a net economic plus in the short term? I would say probably not, but ironically my view is that LONG TERM the market will actually reward the type of inovation that is needed.

In contrast, posting 400 times about how Democrats need to "embrace the carbon tax" so that one can then label progressives as evel "tax raisers" really isn't my idea of a legitimate conversation. There's plenty of room for debate regarding how we should address environmental concerns, but demagoging on tax issues really doesn't move the conversation forward. Just my two cents.

Oh, and for what it's worth -- Obama gave a speech in Detroit in which he told the auto industry it was time for them to quit crying about their losses and to start producing the cars people want in the future. In terms of speaking truth to power, it was quite inspiring. Ultimately, SOMEONE nees to take that kind of action if we're going to move forward.

Posted by: Colin | July 10, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

This is what you are paying for at the pump:

'ASPEN, Colo. -- Some brokers have to shout to sell real estate in a glutted market, or employ ever more tortured elocutions of spin. Joshua Saslove whispers.

Joshua Saslove, a real estate broker, at the indoor swimming pool at Hala Ranch. The home was built for Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia.

His company's premier listing, called Hala Ranch, is a 95-acre estate built in 1991 for the family of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former ambassador to the United States from Saudi Arabia and the home's only (occasional) occupant.

At $135 million, Hala, just northwest of downtown Aspen, is the most expensive single-family residential property in the nation on the market, Mr. Saslove said. Selling it mostly consists of saying no.'

So bush's best buddy the prince can buy the most expensive home in the US. remember 9/11? These people are sh*tting in america's face.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

'In a USAT/Gallup poll, the president received a record-low approval rating of 29 percent as more than half of Americans say that the increase of troops in Iraq hasn't made a difference. More than 70 percent believe troops should come home by April.

Military officials don't think troop levels in Iraq can be maintained much longer than March or April.'

Sounds pretty broken to me.

Posted by: Zane | July 10, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

As a result, Doug Duncan, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), is expecting as many as 600,000 home owners will get into trouble with perhaps half of them actually losing their homes.

One of the reasons for the worsening situation, according to Zandi, is that just as the number of subprime ARMs being underwritten was reaching a high, the quality of loans was hitting new lows.

"There were increasingly poor quality loans made starting in the spring of 2005," he said, "with the poorest of all made during the fall of 2006."

Lenders approved many borrowers who had little chance of being able to afford the payments two and three years out. They approved applications without any proof of income or assets ("liar loans") and others that barely could make the low teaser-rate payments. Some borrowers chose interest-only ARMs, which left the principal of the loan untouched. Regulators are urging tighter standards.

"Lenders wanted to keep the pipeline flowing," said Zandi.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

NEW YORK ( -- More than two million subprime adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) are poised to reset at much higher rates in coming months, worsening an already suffering housing market.

Borrowers who took out hybrid ARMs in 2004 and 2005 to secure low "teaser" rates for the first two or three years of the loan may see their monthly mortgage payments climb by 35 percent or more.

Consumer groups and politicians fear that hundreds of thousands of subprime ARM borrowers will be unable to keep up with their mortgage payments and will lose their homes.

"In October alone more than $50 billion in ARMs will reset," according to Mark Zandi, chief economist and co-founder of Moody's That's a record, according to Zandi.

Posted by: the fruits of deregulation | July 10, 2007 9:42 AM | Report abuse

If Michigan moves up to near or ahead of New Hampshire look for New Hamphsire and Iowa to move there votes up even more. Those two states rely on the attention and the Money that comes with being the first primary in the nation, and I don't see them giving it up.

Posted by: Andy R | July 10, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, apologized Monday night for "a very serious sin in my past" after his telephone number appeared among those associated with an escort service operated by the so-called "D.C. Madam."

Sen. David Vitter apologized after his telephone number appeared among those linked to the "D.C. Madam."

Vitter's spokesman, Joel Digrado, confirmed the statement in an e-mail sent to The Associated Press.

"This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible," Vitter said in the statement. "Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling. Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there -- with God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way."

No problem -- he asked God for forgiveness! Why do these creeps always drag religion into their sexual excapades?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

'Razorback certainly played the important role of a classic conservative by pointing out, from published sources, that the environmental and energy policies being discussed would be costly. Some treated that message as worth engaging, but some wanted to shoot the messenger. Why berate the messenger?'

Because razorback is a nasty, hectoring, bully. All he does is push the talking points of the rightwingers -- we better not try to do anything about climate change because it might cost someting.

As if not doing anything were NOT going to cost us anything, like our future and our lives. People like him [and the oil companies that back them] refuse to acknowledge the tremendous costs of doing nothing-- but even now the insurance industry is panicking at the costs of the tremendous numbers of wildfires, floods, heat waves, hurricanes, etc. that are now occurring. That will be passed on to us.

You live in Texas, Mark-- how's the weather been? A little extreme lately, right? It's like that all over. And agriculture. The agricultural sector is taking a beating. If you've been in a produce section lately, you'll notice that a tomato is about 6 bucks. And that's true of a lot of categories. The citrus industry in California is in big trouble because suddenly it freezes in the winter. Didn't use to. This year's corn crop is mostly wiped out all across the Midwest. The effects are spreading.

But those who have their own reasons for obscuring and fogging the issue keep pushing their phony statistics and further delaying any action, when the truth is that the effects are accelerating and there may not be much time left in which we can do anything to slow down the process.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

A lansing newswire has recently reported that some Republican leaders are considering dumping the primary if they cannot get it scheduled before Super Tuesday. Instead they would replace it with a nominating convention. Such a change would make the endorsements you mention that much more important. If they stick with the open primary, I can tell you from experience that there will be a backlash against whomever is seen as the preferred party candidate. That's what drove McCain's vote is 2000. People were tired of then Gov. Engler telling them who to vote for.

Posted by: fetzer | July 10, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I have been to 46 of the 50 states - Michigan is one of the 4 I haven't visited. However, I wonder if Romney would really do that well there in his incarnation as a hard line conservative. His dad was a part of the now extinct "Rockefeller Republican" wing of the party. Michigan was an open primary in 2000 - which was of great assistance to McCain and I believe it still is open. I think that the nature of the primary might really help Giuliani.

Posted by: JimD in FL | July 10, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

De Vos is the soap salesman with the pyramid scheme if memory servers me correctly. The only thing he and the others mentioned have in common are deep pockets. Michigan will go dem in 08, and I can't think of any repub that would change the margin very much. I was at Selfridge AFB [SAC] in 60 and 61, and was discharged from active duty there. Mt. Clemens was a nice town, very diverse.

Posted by: lylepink | July 10, 2007 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Of all of these names mentioned, I thought AG Mike Cox would be on the list. He has already committed to McCain, and from what I have heard Terri Land will be endorsing McCain as well. Hoekstra is a big pick up for Romney. Truly though, isn't Michigan for the Republican nomination a 2 person race: McCain vs. Romney?

Someone from Michigan tell me this: who is going to run against senator Levin in 08? Will Candice Miller finally act on her ambitions and run? Will she bow out and Mike Rogers step up and run? Or will it be someone else? If it's someone else, unless AG Mike Cox runs, it probably won't be a competitive race with Levin walking through. What do you think?

Posted by: reason | July 10, 2007 8:28 AM | Report abuse

If the race is still competitive by the time we reach Michigan, I don't really see how Romney loses given his dad's roots there...

Posted by: Greg-G | July 10, 2007 8:17 AM | Report abuse

I hope we get some Michigan commentary on this issue.

Late last night I read through yesterday's @300 posts. I have 2 cents to add for the cause of civility.

We should want "new" ideas, however bold and promising, to be analyzed for prospective cost and for prospective effectiveness. Razorback certainly played the important role of a classic conservative by pointing out, from published sources, that the environmental and energy policies being discussed would be costly. Some treated that message as worth engaging, but some wanted to shoot the messenger. Why berate the messenger?

The differences between the EU and the USA, and indeed among EU members, are surely notable and potentially informative. MikeB, challenged on his statistical sources by the citation of other statistical sources, responded with personal insults. What could possibly be "personal" about unemployment stats?

"Michigan" connection:

the "Tesla" is a dreamboat car that runs on lithium ion batteries and must be plugged in every 200+ mi. As it went through its NHTSA and EPA testing, reps from the Big 3 auto makers that had turned down the investment opportunity in this alternate vehicle, were present. They criticized and picked nits. They were allowed to do so because of their "relationships" with the agencies. Nevertheless, Tesla passed all its certifications, hit the market, and is doing well.

A free market may wither if government actively stifles innovation in collusion with existing concentrations of power that maintain a goal of raising barriers to market entry.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 10, 2007 7:20 AM | Report abuse

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