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Thu Dec 18, 2014 at 05:47 AM PST

Recount Math

by memiller

This diary will likely have a very small audience. It takes off from my recent experience as a Democratic challenger in the 2014 recount of the 20th Michigan Senate district election.

The Democratic candidate, 60th District Rep. Sean McCann lost to Republican 61st District Rep. Margaret O’Brien by 60 votes on election night, reduced to 59 following the county canvass. McCann decided to ask for a recount, which in Michigan is not automatic, although the cost to the candidate requesting a recount is minimal, only $10 per precinct recounted. The recount took place Dec 8 through 10. O’Brien picked up and additional 15 net votes in the recount, and McCann 13, so the final margin was 61 votes.

There are many interesting anecdotes and experiences that are not part of this diary. This intends to lay out the mathematical aspects of a recount. The numerical conclusions reached probably do not apply beyond Michigan, but the mathematical basis will apply anywhere actual ballots are recounted.

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Here we go:

Michigan would divide its electoral college votes in presidential elections rather than award them all to a single candidate under legislation being introduced Thursday in the state House.

Sponsoring Rep. Pete Lund, R-Shelby Township, says the bill would make Michigan more important in presidential elections, but Democrats argue it would only benefit Republicans, who haven’t won a presidential election in Michigan since 1988.

Lund says this would make candidates pay attention to the Mitten state. Yeah, right. Details below the curlique.
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Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 01:31 PM PDT

I just took down my poster

by memiller

I put this poster in the window next to my front door, so everyone coming to my house would see it. I put it there around the first inauguration.

I left it there through all the bailouts, and the treatment of the banksters as though they were not responsible for what had just happened to our economy. I left it there through 'cash for clunkers', which to me was an extremely cost-ineffective way to improve fleet gas mileage.

I left it there through the health care debate, even though I preferred single payer. I realized this was probably the best we could do, and a big step forward for millions of Americans, even though it was also a giveaway to the insurance companies.

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Letter from Debbie Stabenow, signed by the entire MI Dem Congressional delegation -- just hit my Inbox, endorsing Lon Johnson for MDP Chair.

"Turn out the lights, the Party's over..."

Eclectablog has written the background of Mark Brewer's tenure as Michigan Democratic Party Chair. This is a quick diary, without going into all of that again, sharing what will almost certainly determine the outcome of this race.

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Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 12:58 PM PST

Why I hate Windows 8

by memiller

Here is my rant on Microsoft Windows 8. It may be not as detailed as possible since I no longer have a working example in front of me as I write this – of course, I would be writing it in any case on a different computer than the one with Win8, since I have found Win8 to be unusable.  But the details of my travail with Win8 are still reasonably fresh in my mind, and if I have mercifully already forgotten a few, there are still enough to raise my blood pressure now, a month after I returned the damn thing.

(Note:This was not written for Daily Kos, and I do not see many if any computer diaries here, but we do see diaries on everything from birdwatching to ancient history here, and I want to see what my community has to say about this. I would appreciate any responses, even if "You're a hopeless curmudgeon", as long as you read the whole (long) diary.)

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Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 06:29 PM PST

The President and Scripture

by memiller

I just listened to the President speaking at the memorial service in Newtown.

I heard a better sermon tonight than I usually hear on a Sunday morning (no offense, Pastor).

I remember being highly critical of Bill Clinton when he quoted Scripture. One time he said "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard... what WE can do." No, sorry. That's not how to do it.

But this President knows Scripture. I mean, he knows what it means, and how to let it speak. I don't have a transcript, or a link to video, but DO find it and read or listen.

I don't know in detail how he knows Scripture so well. He certainly didn't grow up in church, which is where many of us get our bone-deep familiarity with where to look for what we need to find there. He was not part of Pastor Wright's church for that many years, I think? We know that he read deeply from theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, and his theology informs the President's view of the world. But it is obvious that this President has spent his time in the Bible.

Anyhow, he read from 2 Cor 4:

   16Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.17For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,18while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
I caught my breath. This passage is very special to me.

My father, who is still living at the age of 97, served in both the European and Pacific theaters in WWII. When we were breaking up my parents' household four years ago as they transitioned to assisted living, I came across a pocket New Testament, water-stained, that was issued in 1941 by President Franklin Roosevelt. In it there was one passage, and only one -- the verses the President quoted tonight, and a few others nearby -- that my father had underlined in red pencil. The water stains came from a typhoon he endured along with his platoon, 40 men in an 8 man tent, in Okinawa.

And now I was hearing them once again, as I have so many times in church, from our President. And they fit the moment precisely.

God bless President Barack Obama.


UPDATE: Just got a Tweet from MI Dems:

Election dictator: @MichSoS Johnson ignores Snyder veto & unilaterally changes voter application to advance @MIGOP voter suppression effort
Don't have details, but if SoS does this on her own, you could have a legal crisis within the MI-GOP.


Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed 11 election-related bills, most of them positive, though narrow, but made news by vetoing three of the most controversial bills that would have taken Michigan along the path towards voter suppression that other GOP-led states are traveling. In doing so, he has enraged part of his base, and earned the (grudging?) respect of Progressives who were only recently engaged in a doomed effort to recall him.

Former Democratic Secretary of State candidate Jocelyn Benson: "This is a victory for every voter in this state, and a great nod to tomorrow's holiday. Congratulations to all who worked to amplify peoples' voices and emphasize the negative impact the vetoed portions of this package would have on our citizens and elections officials. Happy 4th of July, everyone!"

Spokesman for Republican Speaker of the House Jase Bolger: "Speaker Bolger appreciates Gov. Snyder signing many election reforms today, but is deeply disappointed in the vetoes of other very reasonable reforms designed to protect the integrity of one of the most sacred rights in the United States, ...”

Many of us have not agreed with many of the initiatives Gov. Snyder has undertaken, but he has never struck me as a movement conservative. That is, he always has thoughtful reasons for what he does, and does not let himself be guided by an inflexible ideology. After these vetoes, I must give him due credit for not falling for the fake voter fraud stories, and seeing these bills for what they were. I may not agree with what he does next, but I respect him a lot more after today.

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Yesterday evening, the Kalamazoo Bach Festival under the direction of Jim Turner performed the St. John Passion of Johann Sebastian Bach.

I’ve been looking forward to singing the St. John Passion for quite a while. Several times I’ve told Jim that singing one of the Passions was on my life list of things to do before I die.

I would say it was a good performance. You can read a review here. We had some great soloists. The venue, at Kalamazoo's First Presbyterian Church, has acoustics that made it difficult for the audience to hear all the words, even though we were singing it in English expressly so that our listeners could hear the story in their own language.

Obviously I don't have a recording of this performance to share (yet), but below the fold are a few YouTube clips.

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Wed Apr 18, 2012 at 02:02 PM PDT

Meet Mike O'Brien

by memiller

Mike, Teresa, and daughter Rose
Mike, Teresa, and daughter Rose

If you are anywhere near Southwest Michigan this Saturday, come join us for the O’Brien for Congress Announcement Tour.

Mike O’Brien is our Democratic candidate to take on Fred Upton in the Sixth District this fall — or, if fate and the Republican primary voters decree, Jack Hoogendyk.

Mike O’Brien of Douglas, Michigan, will announce his candidacy for Michigan’s Sixth District in the U.S. House of Representatives in a series of events to be held in every county of the District on Saturday, April 21.

There will be a rally in Kalamazoo at Democratic Party Headquarters, 3254 S Westnedge Ave., from 10 to 11:30 AM. Speeches from local candidates, Mark Bernstein, candidate for U of M Board of Regents, and 60th District Rep. Sean McCann. Julie Fletcher, wife of late Congressman Howard Wolpe, will introduce Mike.

Mike O’Brien is a former Marine, who enlisted twenty-eight years ago, about the time that Congressman Fred Upton was becoming part of the entrenched Washington establishment.

Mike said:

   I felt I had a debt to repay, and that service to others in the defense of our nation was a noble calling. I rose through the ranks, and served with pride and distinction as a Reconnaissance Marine, always mindful of the honor of serving one’s nation.
After the Marines, Mike put himself through college (Washington University) while working full time.
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Tue Apr 03, 2012 at 10:33 AM PDT

Taking Back the Michigan Supreme Court

by memiller

We've just had another demonstration of what having a Republican-controlled Michigan Supreme Court is like.

"The Michigan Supreme Court - in a decision that breaks along party-lines -  has upheld a state law that will let Republicans on the Oakland County Commission redraw their district lines. The Supreme Court says the law complies with the state constitution, regardless of whether it was designed to give one party a political advantage. The Supreme Court's three Democrats dissented from the decision," Rick Pluta reports.
The Court held that this was not a "local law", which would not be legal, in spite of the fact that it affects only Oakland County, and there is strong evidence that the law was passed for partisan reasons.

This follows a long string of decisions in which the Republican majority has twisted logic into pretzels and denied the plain language of Michigan statutes in order to achieve a partisan result. Most notably, in my mind, is their holding in the Nestle Waters case in 2007 that "any person" (has standing to sue to protect the environment, in the Michigan Environmental Protection Act) does not mean "any person", but "any person with a particularized injury".

For 30 years, there was no question that MEPA empowered private citizens to enforce the environmental laws and to protect the natural resources of this State. The Michigan Supreme Court itself previously considered MEPA significant legislation which gives the private citizen a sizable share of the initiative for environmental enforcement. Eyde v. State of Michigan and the Charter Township of Delta, 393 Mich 453, 454 (1975). Sadly, the present majority of the present court, Justices Taylor, Markman, Young and Corrigan, have essentially struck down MEPA's citizen suit provision. -- Justice4Michigan

It has to be said plainly -- these folks simply make up the law to suit themselves and their corporate sponsors. They ought to wear corporate logos on their robes like race car drivers.

We have the opportunity this fall to take back the majority on the Michigan Supreme Court from the Mackinac Center, ALEC, and their ilk, and give it back to the people of  Michigan. This is a significant opportunity, that won't be back for some years, to elect three progressive justices in one election.

Uploaded with
left to right: Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Connie Kelley, Southfield District Judge Shelia Johnson, University of Michigan Law Professor Bridget Mary McCormack

Follow me past the squiggle for more on these great candidates.

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We’ve been living with the Citizen’s United decision for two years now, and the results have been every bit as bad as I imagined on that Thursday in January, 2010, when I first heard it on the radio. Untraceable corporate money has swollen the new ‘Super-PACs’, and we are left to wonder who is trying to hijack our elections. I mean, we KNOW who, in general, but we can’t prove it.

What can we do about it? We can’t fully reverse the effects of Citizen’s United without either waiting for a new US Supreme Court majority, and then a case on which they would be willing to reverse themselves, or a Federal Constitutional Amendment declaring that money is not speech, and not protected by the First Amendment. Move to Amend has been promoting the latter approach, and while I’m all for it, it is a project of years, requiring a change in the way conservative voters in red states see the world to ever become part of the Constitution.

Today, I got an email from Jocelyn Benson announcing the Corporate Accountability Amendment, a proposed amendment to the Michigan Constitution. The one thing that Citizen’s United does allow states to do is to require that political advertising disclose its funding sources. And that is what the CAA does. If it passes, it would not mean that corporations still cannot attempt to buy our elections. It just means that if they support unpopular legislation or candidates, they must risk citizen and consumer backlash. Transparency is not everything — but it would be a big step forward.

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Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 11:09 AM PST


by memiller

Sorry, couldn’t resist. (For you kids, that’s a reference to an ancient scandal from the 20th Century)

Saul Anuzis (former Michigan Republican Chair, and member of the Credentials Committee that awarded both MI at-large delegates to Romney) tries to put the controversy to bed:


  Statement by Saul Anuzis:

    At the February 4th State Committee meeting held in Lansing, the Credentials Committee unanimously passed the procedures for allocating Michigan’s delegates to the National Convention in the event that the RNC imposes the 50% penalty on our delegation.

    We agreed that if only 30 delegates would be designated as voting delegates, the Michigan Republicans would send 2 from each congressional committee and 2 at large. We agreed that the two at large delegates would be taken from the top of the slated delegations as submitted by the candidate who received the most votes statewide.

    Last night the Credentials Committee met via teleconference and voted to apply the rules as passed unanimously on February 4th which results in the 2 at large delegates be awarded to the statewide winner, Mitt Romney.

    There were no changes in rules or procedures, the Credential Committee only ratified the existing rules as previously passed after some made erroneous claims to the media that the at-large delegates would be split.

Oh yeah? That might satisfy readers out there who are willing to take the word of Republican spokes-critters as Gospel, but not your intrepid kossack reporter! Below are excerpts from the rules that Saul is referencing. See if they line up with his statement. I found these at Jack Hoogendyk’s blog, Core Principles. Jack Hoogendyk is a former MI state Rep. and SW MI Tea Party leader. I am assuming Jack is reporting the real rules. The business about substituting 2 for 14 is due to the RNC cutting the Michigan delegation as punishment for holding the primary early. Emphasis below is mine.
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