Dave Agema

There’s an odd story you might have missed from the Upper Peninsula. A member of the Michigan Republican state central committee is facing major felony charges in Wisconsin.

Various press accounts quote police as saying Douglas Sedenquist of Escanaba was arrested five months ago after his wife notified police that he was supposedly stalking her with a high-powered rifle and making suicide threats. His wife left him last year; she said he was physically abusing their daughters.

Police in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where she now lives, arrested Sedenquist after, police say, he repeatedly refused their orders to put down the rifle or get out of his truck. Instead, he asked them to let him shoot himself. Eventually they were able to arrest him, and now he faces a variety of charges.

I have gone into this in some detail because I haven‘t yet told you the weirdest part about all this. Nobody, so far as I know, is demanding that he step down from his party leadership roles. Sedenquist, by the way, is also vice-chair of the Delta County GOP.

Two weeks ago, as the U.S. Supreme Court was hearing arguments about the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema posted a shocking and scurrilous article on Facebook titled “Everyone Should Know These Statistics on Homosexuals.”

The piece was a collection of hate-filled, untrue smears, such as that gays commit half the murders in large cities, are riddled with diseases, die young and have a secret agenda to recruit children.

This prompted a sudden outcry. Some young and moderate Republicans called for Agema’s resignation. But he refused, and instead asked people to sign an online petition supporting him.

The petition got hundreds of signatures, which Agema boasted about till a reporter scrutinized them. Among the signers were the names, Osama bin Laden, Adolf Hitler, Goat Killer and “I spit upon thee.” Plus someone claiming to be North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, who wrote “From one dictator to another.”

But while there was a considerable outcry, Governor Rick Snyder has remained noticeably silent. Finally, he was cornered by a reporter Monday and asked his opinion. He refused. “I‘m not going to get in the middle of all that,” he said.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder won't say whether a Michigan member of the Republican National Committee should resign for posting an article critical of gay people on Facebook.

The Republican governor told reporters Monday that he's "not going to get in the middle of all that." Snyder adds that discrimination of any kind is inappropriate and "it's important we stand up for all people."

Yesterday, a Republican National Committeeman, and former Michigan lawmaker, posted an article chock full of anti-gay slurs on Facebook. 

Dave Agema, the Committeeman who posted the article with a byline of "Frank Joseph, MD," has been asked to resign by 21 Republican precinct delegates and young Republican leaders. 

His response?

"Absolutely not."

Did you know there is actually still a Communist Party, USA? They even have a website, so that if, in the middle of the night, you are suddenly seized with a desire to join the party of Lenin and Stalin, why, you can get on line and whip out your credit card.

For $60 a year, you can be a Communist. Not only that, my guess is that if you do sign up, you won’t even lose your job or be visited by the FBI. That’s because the Communist Party today is no threat to anybody, and is, in fact, totally irrelevant.

That isn’t true of the Republican Party. Not yet, anyway. But increasingly, the GOP is beginning to behave like a wacky fringe party. They are offering positions way outside the mainstream. More and more, what one hears from Republican spokesmen is hatred and intolerance, and we got a good example yesterday.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Supporters of an ‘Anti-Sharia' bill plan to put pressure on Michigan lawmakers this week.

They want a vote on the bill, which would bar Michigan courts from citing ‘foreign’ laws in their decisions.   The bill has sat in the State House Judiciary committee for nearly a year and a half.

Irving Ginsburg is a member of the group that supports the bill.   He’s upset it could die without ever getting a vote.

Fasten your seat belts. We are in for another three and a half months in which President Obama and his surrogates will try to make us believe that Mitt Romney’s main goal is destroy the middle class and outsource every last American job to China.

Meanwhile, the Romney forces will try to make us think that President Obama is totally incompetent and single-handedly responsible for the long recession.

Hyperbole and exaggeration have been how campaigns have been conducted since George Washington’s time. But what has been taboo is reckless, vicious and false character assassination. We did have one very infamous practitioner of that kind of politics - Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin, whose name we now use to define them. Back in the early 1950s, McCarthy destroyed lives, careers and reputations by recklessly accusing people of being Communists without the faintest shred of evidence.

Much of the nation was in a grip of terror. Eventually, McCarthy was stripped of his powers and soon drank himself to death. Ever since, there’s been agreement that there was such a thing as too far.

Until now, that is. A form of new McCarthyism has been growing across this nation and this state ever since President Obama was elected. My theory is that this was inspired by racism. There are millions who just can’t stomach that we have a black president.

For many years, there was a big difference between the two major parties when it came to their internal affairs. Democrats often didn’t get along behind closed doors and on convention floors.  And they often didn’t mind letting their disagreements show. Nor did their intra-party brawls usually seem to hurt them. That’s because the Democrats were a collection of different interest groups who didn’t necessarily like each other very much.

About 150 people met in Lansing yesterday to support a bill banning foreign or religious laws in Michigan. The measure would forbid courts from using such laws in their deliberations. A lot of the commentary at the meeting was directed against Sharia laws that are used in some Islamic traditions. 

Tom Craig of Spring Lake attended the rally. “The thing I’m concerned about is foreign influences in our court system. I think the United States was founded on its constitution, not the constitution or the will of some foreign country,” Craig says.

Republican state Representative David Agema sponsored the measure. “It’s just simply protecting your constitutional rights, whether state or federal, from any foreign law that allows you to lose it in a court of law and progressive judges are allowing this to occur, so the purpose is to clarify public policy. That’s what this bill does,” Rep. Agema says.

The rally and the legislation was condemned by the Michigan Catholic Conference. The conference says the law could lead to courts meddling in religious affairs.

State Representative Dave Agema (R-Grandville) is suing officials with the City of Allegan, Allegan Public Schools, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and People for the American Way for allegedly violating his rights to free speech and assembly.

The case stems from an event scheduled at Allegan High School in late January 2012. The evening's guest was billed as a former Muslim terrorist who converted to Christianity.

Police shut the event down; citing safety concerns. But Agema says there were no safety threats.

A city attorney declined to comment for the story. But said this in a written statement:

“This lawsuit is disappointing in many ways.  It is based on conjecture, logical fallacies, and, more disappointingly, factual inaccuracies.  The plaintiffs did not even spell one of the defendants’ names correctly.  It is disappointing that the lawsuit wrongly imputes motives to the police officers.”

The lawsuit names the city manager, police chief and other officers in their official capacities and as individuals. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Supporters and opponents of the new international bridge from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, are still debating the merits of the proposal nearly a week after the bridge plan failed to get enough support in the state legislature.

Fewer than 100 unmarried state employees are expected to sign-up for health care benefits for their domestic partners by the end of this month.

That would mean less than $600,000 would be spent on live-in partner benefits paid for by the state.

The preliminary estimates are well below what some Republican lawmakers said taxpayers would end up paying for the benefits.

Republican state Representative Dave Agema (R-Ottawa Co.) sponsored a measure to end domestic partner benefits for public employees in the future.

"Numbers aside, it really doesn’t make any difference because what we have now, if it doesn’t stop, it will only grow in the future," said Agema. "We haven’t included the colleges and the local governments and so-forth, so it would only be increased to millions and millions of dollars in the future."

Agema’s proposal could not reverse the decision by the state Civil Service Commission to allow for public employee domestic partner benefits.

mickepe / MorgueFile

Amateur mixed martial arts fights may soon be regulated by the state. A bill introduced to the Michigan House would require both promoters and fighters to be licensed by the state. The bill would also create a commission to enforce the rules and investigate complaints.

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