The current president has all of the undesirable male characteristics known to man and then some. Let’s try something else.
“The next president should not be a man,” was the headline for a May 8 opinion piece by New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo.
My sentiments, exactly.
Manjoo argues that a “dispiriting dynamic” has taken hold in the Democratic presidential primary and that voters are perceiving female candidates as “unelectable.” And, in recent days, there have been studies and polls cited and published suggesting that: female candidates still face bias in 2020; sexism is going strong; and about one in eight Americans think men are better suited emotionally for office.
Yet, Nate Silvers’ FiveThirtyEight column concludes, as I do, that research has documented that gender has no effect on election results.
For some in the #METOO movement, this piece may seem like just more mansplaining. But my observations and conclusions are based on my life’s experiences (89 years) and my work over 65 years as an elected official, assistant in the Michigan Office of the Speaker and Office of the Governor, university professor, campaign consultant, and Director of the NC Institute of Political Leadership. Thousands of students, candidates and officeholders have crossed my path, including Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians. They have led me to several observations and conclusions about women in politics and government.
Women are more spiritual than men. Note that I did not say more religious (although I could argue that, as well.) Women are more concerned about the spirit of life, that is, living. After all, women carry, birth, care for, teach, guide their own children, grandchildren and often those of others — with a family life orientation.
Women have more respect for life when in public office and do more to protect our society, whether it is gun control or military action. Wouldn’t you feel better about a Congress controlled by women rather than by old, white men when it comes to declaring war? I would.
Today, we have had 45 men as president in a country that now has more female than male voters. Indeed, the current president has all of the undesirable male characteristics known to man and then some. So, let’s try something else, as many of us believe that a woman in the White House will bring uniqueness, class, morality, competence and empathy for American children and families
If the 2018 Congressional elections proved nothing else, it was that women candidates can win, especially with a strong female vote.
The declared female presidential candidates are: Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. Marriane Williamson is also a contender. With the exception of Williamson (and Rep. Gabbard, who represents part of Hawaii), all have run statewide campaigns and won in large, competitive, target-rich states (New York, California, Minnesota and Massachusetts). They know how to campaign and have already proven they can win.
From my point of view, any one of the four female senators is qualified to be president. So, of course, are several of the male Democratic candidates, but not the male, graybeards, Sanders and Biden.
Now, a final caveat. Don’t we already know that a woman can win and serve in the White House?
Yes, we do.
Hillary Clinton won the support of a majority of 21st century American voters, only to have Donald Trump selected by an 18th century Electoral College representing a minority of American voters.
Electing a woman to the White House is in a sense a fait accompli. So the arguments that women are disadvantaged because of their gender (remember when it was said Catholic and black candidates could not win?) has lost its resonance and power.
Let’s put a woman in the White House.
Wilmington resident and longtime political consultant Walt de Vries is author of “Checked and Balanced: How Ticket-Splitters are Shaping the New Balance of Power in American Politics.”
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday blocked lower court rulings that had ordered Republican legislators in Michigan and Ohio to redraw U.S. congressional maps ahead of the 2020 elections after finding that the current districts were designed to illegally diminish the power of Democratic voters.
The lawsuit in Michigan was filed in 2017 by the Michigan League of Women Voters (MLWV), with heavy support from the Michigan Democratic Party and its satellite groups. Two months ago, a three-judge federal panel in Detroit sided with the MLWV, but that decision has now been put on hold and may never in fact go into effect.
A five-justice majority of the high court granted requests from Republican lawmakers in both states to stay the Michigan and Ohio decisions. The lower courts found that the electoral maps had been drawn to entrench the majority party in power, a practice known as partisan gerrymandering, in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
While both disputes involve U.S. House of Representatives districts in the two states, the Michigan case also challenges districts in the state legislature as well.
The decisions in Michigan and Ohio that were put on hold by the justices were the latest rulings by federal courts determining that electoral maps designed by a state’s majority party unconstitutionally undermined the rights of voters who tend to support the other party.
Two other gerrymandering challenges are already pending at the Supreme Court, with rulings due by the end of June. In one case, Republican legislators in North Carolina are accused of rigging congressional maps to boost their party’s chances in that state. In the other case, Democratic lawmakers in Maryland face similar allegations over one U.S. House district.
(Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham)
Whitmer breaks mold with early, often veto threats
Lansing — Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is lobbing veto threats early and often as she seeks leverage in negotiations with the Republican-led Legislature, breaking with recent predecessors who rarely telegraphed their intentions in public.
In her first five months in office, Whitmer has promised to reject anti-abortion legislation, budget bills she says lack a “real” plan to “fix the damn roads” and sweeping no-fault auto insurance reform she argued would preserve “a corrupt system” allowing insurers to discriminate through rates.
Experts say her aggressive public approach has little precedent in modern Michigan politics. It is a stark contrast with former Gov. Rick Snyder, who vetoed several GOP bills but usually refused to discuss “hypotheticals.” He rarely went further than to say whether a bill was on his agenda.
“I don’t believe in beating around the bush,” Whitmer said last week between tense auto insurance negotiations with Republicans, who are pushing for quick action but working with the governor to craft a potential compromise.
Whitmer is presiding over a state government that is politically divided for the first time in eight years. But Capitol observers do not recall former governors, such as Jennifer Granholm, making as many veto threats under similar circumstances.
“Maybe they did so behind the scenes — definitely in a couple of cases — but the idea of making so many public statements, that’s a novelty.”
Granholm, a Democrat who served with a Republican-led Legislature for her first four years and just a GOP-controlled Senate for the last four years, typically avoided “using the v-word” publicly until a bill reached her desk, said former communications director Liz Boyd. But Granholm would make her position known privately to lawmakers and offer amendments she could support, Boyd said.
A downside of signaling a veto is it gives lawmakers “a pass on voting one way or another, knowing the end game,” she said.
Whitmer has a different style, “but if people are focused on what she’s saying about vetoes, they’re kind of missing the point,” Boyd said. “Her point is she wants to get things done. Let’s not play games.”
Granholm vetoed 133 bills over her eight-year tenure, but the “vast majority” of them came during her first term when Republicans sent her several bills they knew she would veto just to make a “political statement,” Boyd said.
Republican lawmakers last week approved controversial legislation that would ban the most common form of second-trimester abortion. Whitmer had already vowed to veto anti-abortion legislation and was quick to confirm the advancing proposal would be rejected.
But on other issues, including road funding and auto insurance, Whitmer has signaled a willingness to work with Republican lawmakers to craft a bipartisan solution despite threatening to spike their initial volley.
The governor served a combined 14 years in the state House and Senate before term limits forced her out of office at the end of 2014. Her experience shows, said Jen Eyer, a Democratic strategist with Vanguard Public Affairs who worked on Whitmer’s gubernatorial campaign in 2017.
“She knows how the process works and she knows how legislators are going to approach negotiations,” Eyer said. “I see (her veto threats) as a sign of strength. … She’s showing she’s going to be a strong leader, and they need to come to the table.”
But Whitmer’s threats have irked some Republican lawmakers and prompted criticism from the state party, which recently blasted the governor for what it called a “veto vendetta” on auto insurance.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield have maintained open lines of communication with Whitmer despite the public confrontations.
“From the outside, it would seem to indicate a broken relationship, but I don’t think that’s the case,” said John Sellek, a Republican strategist with Harbor Strategic who worked on former Attorney General Bill Schuette’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign.
Whitmer, Shirkey and Chatifeld are all “pretty smart politicians” who know how to “rattle their sabers” in public to energize partisan activists without jeopardizing personal relationships that could prevent gridlock, Sellek said.
Whitmer’s upfront approach is “reflective both of the confrontational political environment we’re in today but also reflects her personality,” he said. “Whitmer wasn’t one to back down in the Legislature, and she hasn’t changed her tune now.”
One veto … and counting
The governor turned heads this month with her first line-item veto, rejecting a $10 million appropriation to compensate wrongfully convicted inmates because it was tucked into a policy bill, which would make it immune from voter referendum. Her administration wants the funding in a separate supplemental budget measure.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Steve Johnson, R-Wayland, called the veto “disgraceful.” But the governor was honoring her campaign pledge to reject an increasingly common GOP maneuver to make more controversial legislation referendum-proof, Eyer said.
In 2012, Michigan voters overturned a controversial emergency manager law, but Republicans quickly approved a slightly different replacement that included implementation funding. It also attached an appropriation to the state’s right-to-work law.
“It’s the principle of the matter,” Eyer said of Whitmer’s veto. “She made it very clear by doing so on a bill that everyone basically agrees on that she’s sure as heck going to do it on a bill that’s more controversial.”
While Whitmer can reject any law proposed by the Legislature, her early threats have prompted two potential petition drives from groups that could seek to cut her out of the equation.
Right to Life of Michigan last week said it plans to collect enough signatures to send the GOP-led Legislature a bill banning dilation and evacuation abortions, which lawmakers could enact without the governor’s signature.
Billionaire Detroit businessman Dan Gilbert is also considering a petition drive to reform the state’s auto insurance laws if Whitmer and GOP leaders do not agree on a plan to drive down high rates.
Gilbert’s threat is “every bit as much” of a negotiation ploy as Whitmer’s threat of a veto, Eyer said. “It’s good for everybody to have these discussions out in public so people know where everyone stands.”
After eight years of Snyder demurring, Whitmer’s veto proclamations come across as somewhat “refreshing,” Ballenger said.
“But whether it’s smart politics for the governor to do this,” he said, “I think that’s really an open question, particularly if she later comports herself in such a way that it looks like she’s going back on her word.”
The scientist who discovered that DNA carries the genetic Code of Life will be honored today with a Michigan Historical Marker at his birthplace in Owosso, Michigan.
Dr. Alfred Day Hershey won the Nobel Prize in 1969 for his pioneering work. The marker will be unveiled at his birthplace in 1908 at 515 E. Mason Street in Owosso at 2 p.m. The effort to honor Hershey was fueled and financed by more than a dozen state and federal legislators, current and former, along with Owosso historian Shaffer Fox.
Hershey was born in Owosso on Dec. 4, 1908. He lived his first four years in Owosso, then moved with his family to Lansing, where he graduated from the old Lansing Central High School before attending Michigan State College of Agriculture & Applied Science (now MSU), where he received a B.S. degree in bacteriology and a PhD. in chemistry. Following graduation, Hershey served on the faculty and as a researcher (1934-1950) at Washington University in St. Louis, MO, and later as a researcher (1950-1972) and Director of the Genetics Research Unit (1962-1972) at the Carnegie Institution’s Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, New York.
In 1952, Hershey and his lab assistant discovered, demonstrated, proved and confirmed that DNA carries the genetic Code of Life. Lauded as one of the greatest discoveries of the modern age, it serves as a foundation for advances in over 100 branches of biology, medicine and anthropology.
Hershey made additional discoveries, including the growth stages of viruses, spontaneous mutations in viruses, viral hybridization, the chemical later identified as messenger RNA, the genetic volume of viruses, how to weigh DNA, how to accurately divide and break DNA, and that some DNA is single-stranded and some circularized.
For his achievements, Hershey, already a PhD., was made an Honorary Doctor of Science by the University of Chicago (1967), and an Honorary Doctor of Medical Science by Michigan State University (1970). Additionally, Hershey was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (1958), was co-winner of the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Science Award (1958), was winner of the Kimber Genetics Award (1965), and in 1969 was co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for “discoveries concerning the replication mechanism and the genetic structure of viruses.”
In 2018, Owosso historian Fox, with financial support from current state Rep. Ben Frederick (R-Owosso) and former state legislator William S. (Bill) Ballenger, produced a 212-page application for a Michigan Historical Marker to honor Hershey. It was approved by the State of Michigan. This was a full half-century after Hershey had been honored with a House Concurrent Resolution (#277) passed unanimously by the Michigan Legislature back in 1969.
Other former state and federal lawmakers who supported the project, financially and otherwise, include ex-state Representatives Richard J. Ball, Ben Glardon, Clark Harder, Larry Julian, Francis R. “Bus” Spaniola and ex-state Senators Alan Cropsey, Joe Hune, and Rick Jones. Also contributing were current U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar, state Senator Tom Barrett, former Congressman Dave Camp, and former Attorney General Bill Schuette. All represented Owosso and all or part of Shiawassee County at some point in their tenures in public office. Owosso native daughter Virginia Lee (Bunny) Woodard Matthews and her husband, Terry, of Binghamton, New York, also supported the enterprise.
Worried that time is running out to mount a successful petition drive should the negotiations fail, the head of the Rock Ventures empire has formed a ballot committee, hired the state’s top election lawyers and will be out on the street gathering signatures within a matter of days.
A source close to the situation told me Saturday that Gilbert’s team is crafting a citizens initiative for a law that would closely mirror the bills passed by the Republican-controlled Michigan House and Senate over the past two weeks.
He’ll need to collect 340,000 signatures within six months. Once the names are gathered, the measure will go to the Legislature for an up or down vote. If the House and Senate then approve the initiative on a simple majority vote, it becomes law without the need for the governor’s signature. If they don’t, the proposal will automatically go on the 2020 fall ballot for voters to decide.
The governor has also said she would veto the Republican-sponsored no-fault insurance reform bills, which would replace Michigan’s unlimited personal injury protection in favor of a system that allows consumers to choose various levels of coverage, or none at all. Lawmakers contend the uncapped, lifetime health benefits are what has made Michigan the highest cost state for auto insurance. Republicans say their reforms will cut annual premiums by $1,200 or more per policy.
Despite making concessions designed to win Democratic votes, the governor still objects to the bill, saying she wants to require at least $250,000 of personal injury coverage and wants a mandate that insurers slash premiums by 40 percent.
She also wants no-fault reform tied to a fuel tax to fix the roads, and passage of her budget.
Under a new voter approved law approved that went into effect Jan.1, signatures on ballot initiatives must be gathered from all 14 Michigan congressional districts, proportional to population.
The optimum period for collecting names is spring and summer when more people are outdoors in public places. The concern is that if negotiations drag on all summer, it will be difficult to circulate petitions in northern Michigan once the colder weather comes this fall.
Estimates suggest it will cost $3 million to collect the required number of petition signatures. Gilbert is prepared to fund the committee, called Citizens for Lower Auto Insurance Rates, but also will attempt to raise money from others.
And since his proposal will mimic the language of the no-fault reform bills that have already passed the Legislature, he expects approval of the initiative from lawmakers, sparing the cost of a ballot election campaign.
To get the job done, he’s recruited three of the top election law firms in the state — Honigman, Dykema and Lansing-based Doster Law Offices. The nation’s leading signature gathering outfit, National Petition Management, which has a 100 percent success rate in Michigan, has also been hired.
Gilbert’s move will likely influence negotiations between lawmakers and the governor. Since his proposal will be nearly identical to theirs, Republicans have less incentive to bend to Whitmer’s demands.
The source said Gilbert has done extensive polling on the issue, and believes the measure has strong support.
Gilbert has threatened in the past to bypass the policy-making process and go directly to voters if Michigan’s elected leaders refuse to deliver no-fault insurance reform’
His belief, shared by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, is that the high cost of auto insurance, which in Detroit typically runs three to four times the national average of $1,400 a year per vehicle, is a major impediment to repopulating the city. Gilbert has spent billions redeveloping downtown, and has begun to move his investment dollars into the neighborhoods.
In moving forward with the ballot measure while negotiations in Lansing are still underway, he makes it less likely the aggressive cost-cutting reforms passed by the Legislature will be surrendered to get a deal with Whitmer.
Maximum Security: At first, I wasn’t sure where we were going. I remember being in a small, like, shed, with gates. But the gates were locked. I remember a very loud bell and the gates opened really fast and everyone was running. So I ran. I assumed it was a fire alarm. Also, there was a small man clinging to my back. I don’t know why.
Country House: When the bell rang, I wet myself. It was so loud. The gates flew open and I screamed. Everyone was running like mad. On my back was a tiny man dressed like a bumblebee. He had a stick and he was hitting my ass. Which was weird.
War of Will: There was a party. It was crowded. It was very hard to meet anyone, since we were all in little rooms and then we were running, like, crazy fast. I don’t know why we were running or whose idea it was to run, especially so fast. I also didn’t know where we were going. Also, my name is Greg, not War of Will. I don’t know what that even means or why people call me that.
Code of Honor: At first, it seemed like we were running somewhere. It was straight for a while, and then we turned. And I kind of expected there to be something there. Like a barn. Or a pond. Or a Roy Rogers. But it just kind of kept going exactly the same. And then there was another turn. Same thing. At first, I thought it was kind of funny. By the second turn, though, I was, like, This is ridiculous. I kept thinking of that Steve Winwood song “Can’t Find My Way Home.” The live version, with Clapton, at the Crossroads Guitar Festival, 2007.
Gray Magician: I had no idea what was going on. I just remember a lot of women in ridiculous hats.
Country House: There was a horse that was in front. He looked really familiar. I think his name is Duane. But I wasn’t sure. They were calling him Maximum Security. I guess he works in security. But I was trying to catch him, because I think he knows my friend Bob. I’m, like, “Hey! Hey! Do you know Bob?” But he didn’t slow down. He seemed super eager to be in the lead. To this day, I don’t know if he knows my friend Bob. His loss, because Bob is hilarious.
Gray Magician: I was looking around trying to figure out where we were going. I assumed it was a surprise party. I don’t know why I thought that. Maybe because of the hats.
Long Range Toddy: The irony for me is that I don’t love running. I think walking at a brisk pace can give you the same kind of cardio with much less stress on your body.
Country House: It was very crowded and muddy, and I’m thinking, If we have to run around this circle again, I’m going to slap myself.
War of Will: You know how when you’re running for a while your mind wanders? Well, this is kind of embarrassing, but I had just heard this joke the day before, and I decide to tell it to this one horse in front of me, the one leading everyone. I say, “Hey! Hey!” And he says, “What?” But, like, kind of annoyed. And I go, “Why the long face?” Now, I think it’s hilarious, but he says, “Seriously?” And that’s when he put his butt in my face.
Maximum Security: I may have put my butt in his face. But it wasn’t intentional. I was trying to get away from him, like at a party when you’re, like, “Oh, I see someone I know.”
Country House: When I heard him say, “Why the long face?,” I thought, He can’t have just said that. But I looked at him and he’s, like, “What?” And I said, “You know that’s the oldest joke in the world, right?” And I honestly think he had no idea.
War of Will: That’s what made me laugh. And then I stumbled, because it was so funny. I was hoping the little sadist on my back would fall. Unfortunately, he didn’t. And then everyone slowed down. I assumed it had something to do with my joke, and I felt really bad. I’m on the insecure side, and I have a hard time meeting new people—and all of a sudden they’re running away from me.
Long Range Toddy: I was incredibly tired. And really dirty. Everyone was around Duane. I don’t know why. And then I just felt sad, like, what’s the point of it all? Like, why are we here? Why run around and around in circles? And all the hats. I just wanted to go home.
Country House: Then some people came over and put, like, a huge bush on me, with flowers, and they were smiling, like, “Isn’t this great?” It was incredibly strange.
War of Will: I was thinking of telling the joke again but had second thoughts. I’m really glad I didn’t.
Gray Magician: Would I do it again? I’d walk it, if that were an option. I don’t know why they were in such a rush. But, then, I finished last. And I’m O.K. with that. ♦
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has called for responses to applications for stays from Republican state legislators in Michigan and Ohio by next Monday, May 20, at 3:00 p.m. The stays would be in response to the ruling of a three- judge federal appeals court panel last month that both states have been subject to unconstitutional gerrymanders of their Congressional and legislative districts since 2011.
At the end of March, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in two cases challenging federal congressional districts in North Carolina and Maryland as the product of unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering. A key question in both cases was whether courts should review partisan-gerrymandering claims at all, or instead leave the issue to politicians and the political process. Citing the uncertainty surrounding that issue, Republican legislators from Ohio and Michigan today asked the Supreme Court to put lower-court rulings that found partisan gerrymandering in those states on hold while they appeal.
The first two requests came from Republican legislators in Ohio, which enacted a new federal congressional map in 2011 after the state lost two seats in Congress. On May 3, a three-judge federal court struck down the plan, holding that it was the product of unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering by the state’s Republicans, and ordered the state’s general assembly to come up with a new plan by June 14.
In emergency applications filed today, the legislators asked the justices to block the lower court’s ruling while they appeal to the Supreme Court. (Cases involving redistricting are among the narrow set of federal cases with an automatic right of appeal from the three-judge district court to the Supreme Court.)
Emphasizing that the map was approved by “bipartisan supermajorities,” the legislators complained that the state’s general assembly was being “coerced into repealing and replacing a duly enacted law on a needlessly rushed basis, all to follow an alleged constitutional imperative” that the Supreme Court may determine “does not exist” when it issues its decisions in the North Carolina and Maryland cases, which are expected by the end of June. The Supreme Court may decide that partisan gerrymandering claims do not belong in court at all, the legislators suggest; even if it ultimately concludes that courts can review such claims, the legislators add, the justices are likely to send the Ohio case back for the lower court to reconsider it “in light of whatever standard” the Supreme Court eventually establishes.
The second set of requests came from lawmakers in Michigan. On April 25, a federal court barred that state from using portions of its legislative and congressional maps, concluding that they too were the product of unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering by Republicans. The court ordered Michigan legislators to draw new maps by August 1. The lawmakers urged the justices to put that order on hold, telling them that the lower-court’s order “is on the brink of throwing Michigan’s political system into unnecessary chaos.”
All four requests will go initially to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who handles emergency appeals from the geographic region that includes Ohio and Michigan. Sotomayor can act on the requests herself or refer them to the full court; she can also order the other side to respond before either she or the court takes any action.
This post was originally published at Howe on the Court.