Michigan Republican Watch

Tea Party candidates are bat-shit crazy

There’s a strong tendency among liberals, progressives, and others not actively hostile to intelligent thought (or at least literacy) to believe the Tea Party is destroying the state Republican Party.

Destroying them, that is, as far as ability to win elections is concerned. Certainly the Teabaggers couldn’t care less about that. Their fast-emerging leader is a scarily bizarre character named Todd Courser, who nearly got himself elected chair of the Michigan Republican Party last February.

Incumbent Bobby Schostak, a pretty typical business/country club/pander-when-necessary type, barely survived — and only after Gov. Rick Snyder intervened. Courser, an accountant and tax lawyer from Lapeer, then gave a positively creepy speech in which he said he believed that Jesus wanted him to run to save the party.

Yet, even though those sinners turned their backs on the Lord, Courser doesn’t intend to give up. He doesn’t believe in democracy, really; he would fit right in with the Iran of the ayatollahs, if you substitute “Jesus” for Mohammed.

His website says he went to law school to preserve the “Christian heritage of America,” and a steady stream of rambling essays and blog posts make it clear where he stands: “When looking at the uprising in Egypt and our role in the world, remember this is what democracy looks like. It’s ugly. Democracy is mob rule. We were set up as a republic, not a democracy. Democracy is tyranny by the majority.”

Courser, who sports a Lenin-style beard and an intense, almost frightening blue-eyed stare, prefers tyranny by the minority. Looked at in terms of things that are real — like Right to Work legislation, taxing pensions and slashing funds for education — Gov. Rick Snyder is the most hard right governor we’ve had in modern times. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley is more so.

But reality and common sense don’t matter in the Tea Party world. They hate Snyder because he has evidently found a way to build a new Detroit River bridge, one every business interest wants and needs, except Matty — slumlord and predatory vulture — Moroun, who owns the Ambassador Bridge.

Tea Partiers hate Snyder because he supported saving the state billions of dollars by expanding Medicaid, something that will also make for a healthier workforce. They want him gone, but they know they can’t beat him in an open primary.

That is to say, they know this in their more lucid moments, which in Courser’s case, seem to be few and far between.

So they want to make a statement by overthrowing Calley. Candidates for lieutenant governor aren’t nominated by a vote of the people, but by the delegates to next year’s GOP state convention.

These are the folks who almost chose Courser as state party chair last year. The Tea Party even has a candidate, one Wes Nakagiri, who vaguely identifies himself as an engineer for an automotive company his website declines to name.

Todd Courser is not quite as bad a writer as Otis Mathis, the illiterate former Detroit School Board president; but he does gives Mathis a run for his money and is always utterly defeated by the apostrophe. In an essay, “A Few Thought’s Before Mackinac,” Courser says, “We need a credible candidate to challenge Brain [sic] Calley, because he supported Medicaid expansion … and supported Obamacare exchanges.”

But alas, “I’m just not certain Wes Nakagiri is that choice … because of his past ties to the establishment.”

What’s that mean? Simple. Wes didn’t vote for Toddy when he was running for party chair, since he had never met or heard of him and he had promised Schostak his vote.

Makes no difference. Todd’s god is a jealous Todd — whoops — God. What happens now? Says Courser: “There are people encouraging me to run for that position myself and I am considering that possibility.”

Ah, the truth at last. What we don’t yet know is what Jesus and the other voices in Courser’s head think of this idea.

What we do know is the idea of any governor saddled with a running mate who hates him and vows to sabotage his program is just crazy. But if you think all this necessarily hurts Snyder’s re-election chances, you may be wrong.

For Snyder to hold on to enough independents to win re-election, he has to convince some that he is still somewhat moderate. He hopes that’s exactly what will happen, when folks see Snyder fighting to overcome Crazy Todd Courser.

And, who knows? Todd is now hinting he might decide to “primary” the governor after all. He has convinced himself Democrats “would flood in to assist in eliminating Snyder in the primary in order to have a better shot in the general election.”

Yup, he’s a regular Machiavelli of the thumb.

Still, it’s all up to Jesus, don’cha know?


A Cheer for Pete Karmanos


OK, LET’S FACE IT … nobody would advise the Man Who Made Compuware to think about a second career as a diplomat. He made headlines and caused a lot of angry controversy last weekend for remarks he made when the Goodfellows made him their man of the year.

Karmanos, who is now retired, beat up on the people now running Compuware for being more interested in running the stock price up to sweeten possible takeover bids than taking care of business, the company and the employees.

What should matter, he said, was “community, employees and then the owners.” He added that, “the present management of Compuware needs to get their heads out of their ass, all right, and understand they have more responsibility than playing some kind of silly game with some jerks in New York City.”

That sent blood pressures racing over at Compuware. A company spokeswoman sniffed that “such disparaging and uninformed comments do not dignify a response.”

Well, yes they do, for a number of reasons. Pete Karmanos and two buddies founded that company during another recession 40 years ago. He built it up, made it a success, put thousands of suburban Detroiters to work.

Then, a decade ago, long before Dan Gilbert was on the scene, he pioneered the revitalization of Detroit by building a glittering new headquarters and moving thousands of workers downtown. That was long before that was seen as cool.

Yes, Pete can be somewhat of a bull in a china shop. And yes, he has raised a few eyebrows with his flamboyant and pretty young wife, and the fact that, at age 70, he is the proud father of four little boys with names right out of ancient Greece.

Far as I am concerned, he can father a legion and send them to conquer Sparta if he wants to. What Karmanos understands is what many new billionaires have forgotten: Successful ethical businesses are supposed to be about more than making money. They are supposed to be about giving added value, taking care of customers and their community.

Karmanos doesn’t think much of hedge funds or sharp-elbowed merger-and-acquisitions-types who buy companies, run up the stock price, then strip and sell them piecemeal.

That’s what he fears may happen to Compuware. Months ago, he said he feared someone would acquire the firm and “make as much money as they can as fast as they can … if that means breaking it up, throwing the pieces into the wind and eliminating a company in Detroit, they don’t mind that.”

No wonder he got so much heat for saying what he did. I don’t know anything about the folks running Compuware today.

But you need not have gone to the Wharton Business School to know that everything Pete said about business today, in general, and Wall Street in particular, is absolutely, completely true.

Jack Lessenberry opines weekly forMetro Times. Send comments to [email protected]