Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Blogger Down All Day:

... and I forgot what I had to say. Couldn't have been too important then, right? Is it ever?

Happy to see that the Michigan Democratic Party's website now features... Democrats! 'Bout time. So refreshing to see Jen's smiling face rather than Dastardly Dick.

I probably was going to ramble on about the stupid SBT and the Cover Your Ass Committee set up by the MI GOP so they can have an excuse for the irresponsible move of gutting the budget when they hit the campaign trail. "But...but... we have a committee! Conveniently scheduled to reveal the plan after the election!" For all their protesting that we have to "jump start the economy", I find it curious that they can put off the actual "jumping" for such a long time.

Bah. Same shit, different day.

Baseball more fun. Here's another picture-



Since the post directly below this one- the 'Caps have won two games and are now tied for first place!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Whitecaps - Another comeback yields fourth straight Whitecaps win



Dragon relief pitcher warms up.

Game time temperature one week ago- 51 degrees with a wind from the north putting the wind chill in the 40's. I had on five layers of clothes. Game time temperature yesterday- 90. I came home sunburned, dehydrated and dizzy.

Ahhh, Michigan in the springtime.


COMSTOCK PARK – Will Rhymes delivered the go ahead single in the bottom of the seventh inning of a 6-5 Whitecaps victory over Dayton. West Michigan has won four games in a row for the third time this season even though the Whitecaps have trailed in three of the last four games.

Josh Rainwater threw four shutout innings of relief to earn his first victory of the season.

Starting pitcher Ramon Garcia, who had not allowed more than two runs in a single game this year, was touched by the Dragons for four runs in just four innings of work. It was also the shortest outing of the season for Garcia, who had allowed just two run in his last 39 innings pitched before Monday.

Closer Orlando Perdomo earned his 14th save in 15 opportunities for West Michigan by keeping the Dragons off the scoreboard in the ninth.

Justin Justice drove in one run in each of three different innings for the Whitecaps. The last Justice RBI came in the seventh when he tied the game with a run-scoring triple.

What a fun game. Those pesky Lugnuts keep winning- 'Caps still 1/2 game out of first.

Monday, May 29, 2006



Granholm's flag order for fallen soldiers draws fire
"It is unknowable how long that conflict will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."- Donald Rumsfeld 11/14/02.

What Don neglected to tell us is that this was the beginning of the perpetual "War on Terror", a war that will have no conceivable end. I wonder if Granholm knew that when she started lowering the flag for Michigan soldiers.

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Criticism of Gov. Jennifer Granholm's order that U.S. and Michigan flags be flown at half-staff to honor soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan caught a top aide by surprise.

Granholm has ordered the flags lowered 67 times since December 2003. Governors in more than a dozen states, including Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota, have issued similar orders.

But critics say the policy violates the U.S. Flag Code, which they say was intended to honor only high-ranking government and elected officials, not soldiers or National Guard members.

"The world seems to be caught up in this frame of mind where it's not enough to say we're sorry (for a death) to show our compassion and our patriotism," said Bruce Butgereit of Kentwood, national patriotic instructor for the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

"We are now taking it upon ourselves to use our national symbols to stretch the Flag Code to its limits," Butgereit told The Flint Journal for a story published Sunday.

Because to these folks, symbols are more important than people. After all, I'm not hearing a big protest about slashing veterans health benefits, giving them inadequate protection on the battlefield, or forcing them to do two or three or four tours of duty and then ignoring the mental and physical problems they might have when they come home, problems that drive some of them to live in the streets.

We won't speak of those things, because it's not the soldiers themselves that concern these people, it's that piece of cloth they hold above everything else, so much so that someone like Bill Frist thinks a flag burning amendment is job one for the US Senate right now. (Well, that and denying a certain group of Americans equal rights. I guess our soldiers are only fighting for some folks to be free.)

Granholm spokeswoman extraordinaire Liz Boyd seemed to be taken aback by all of this. I don't blame her. I doubt a Republican governor would have been questioned in this way. If the positions were reversed, Granholm would have been tarred as being "unpatriotic" or "unAmerican" or a "Saddam lover" or any of the other names that were bandied about when the war started. She would be looked at with disgust, and it would be said that she "didn't support the troops".

"The U.S. (flag) code provides the governor with that option, and the governor has chosen to exercise it," Boyd said. "Where is the controversy in honoring brave men and women who are fighting for our freedoms in Iraq and Afghanistan? The controversy is lost on me.

"We are not the flag police. Our focus has been in honoring the fallen heroes," Boyd said.

And, of course, Dick doesn't agree, and would change the policy. Seems Dick would only honor "important" people.
Granholm's Republican opponent, Dick DeVos, would reverse the governor's policy.

"Dick would take a more literal approach," DeVos campaign spokesman John Truscott said. "While he certainly believes that honoring veterans who have given their lives is extremely important, lowering the flag has typically been reserved for heads of state."

Because the "little guy" doesn't count in Dick's world. It never does. While Granholm is calling soldier's families as they fall and spending time with them this Memorial Day, Dick would take away their special day of state honor and reserve it only for the most powerful of this world.

She said there would be striking differences in this campaign- here is but one of them.

I wasn't even going to write about this in terms of the governor's race, but since Dick opened his yap, it's only fair that I point it out.

This next statement takes the prize for callousness though, and I am embarrassed that this is originating from my hometown.

History buff Jeannine Trybus of Grand Rapids said fallen soldiers deserve honor and respect, but not at the expense of tradition.

"I think every time that flag comes down it cheapens the gesture," said Trybus, a member of the Grand Rapids Civil War Roundtable. "I don't believe the soldiers expect this. There are so many people denigrating the United States. I don't think we should be part of that by denigrating one of our own symbols and its meaning."

Honoring a fallen soldier is "denigrating" to the flag.

Now I have heard everything.

This whole episode enraged me at first, but now I am only saddened by the fact that there are people who hold symbols more important than human beings. But I have to remember- these men and women died for that woman's right to speak her mind.

So be it.

I know I stop and think everytime I see that flag at half-staff. I remember that there is a kid behind it, a grieving family behind it, and I pause and silently thank them for their sacrifice, and I dream of a day when war is no more.

Given the nature of mankind, I don't think that day will ever come.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Daily Kos: So Now, Everyone Gives A Damn About The Constitution
I want to be georgia10 when I grow up.

Pardon my cynicism for a moment. But in the wake of the raid on Congressman Jefferson's office, all the flutter in the legislative and executive branches about concepts like the "separation of powers" and "constitutionally protected areas" has a tangibly synthetic feel to it, does it not?

So Dennis "Don't Tell Anyone I'm Under Investigation" Hastert suddenly dusted off his copy of the Constitution. And Bill "Ongoing SEC Investigation" Frist wants procedures in place to know "exactly what will happen if there is a similar sort of thing." Of course he does.

And James Sensenbrenner, who didn't move an inch of his miserable body when the President chose to ignore 750 laws passed by Congress, has now scrambled to arrange a hearing next week titled, "Reckless Justice: Did the Saturday Night Raid of Congress Trample the Constitution?" So Sensenbrenner finally woke up to a constitutional crisis...after six years. What, did his Ambien finally wear off?

And let's look at Alberto Gonzales, who didn't resign over Bush's domestic spying program, who didn't resign over his laughably dishonest definition of torture, who didn't resign when he was caught perjuring himself before Congress--he now threatens to resign if he has to hand back a few papers? Please, spare me the political theater. I agree with Steve Soto over at the Left Coaster. This is all utter bullshit.

This uproar over the raid smacks more of self-preservation than preservation of the Constitution. When all this hype dies down, all of these political ostriches will go back to sticking their heads in the sand. And what will remain? An imperial Presidency, a tattered Constitution, and the painful, continued silence of a Congress that doesn't give a damn about democracy as we know it.

There is a reason I didn't even bother getting upset at Hayden's confirmation- I have given up on these guys.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Saul's "Blame Granholm First Tour 2006" goes over like lead balloon in GR
I'm starting to think that Anuzis is the "gift that keeps on giving".

GRAND RAPIDS -- Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis came to throw cold water on Cool Cities.

But his attack on one of Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm's signature programs got a chilly reception from those who know economic development in West Michigan. They think Granholm's effort has been a boon to long-neglected urban centers.

Oops. Wrong message Saul.
"They can dismiss the governor all they want, but this is a project, this is a program that is helping in business districts in our city and in cities all over Michigan," said Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell.

The grants -- four of them worth $100,000 each -- have made a big difference in Grand Rapids, Heartwell said.

"Anybody who's simplistic enough in their thinking to believe there is some one single answer, a silver bullet out there, is just sorely mistaken," Heartwell said. "It's going to take a lot of little initiatives."

Speaking of simplistic thinking...
Anuzis made a five-city tour Wednesday.

"You can't make a Cool City by fiat, by press release or designation," Anuzis said during a press conference on Calder Plaza. "A press release is not a plan."

... said Saul, at a "press conference".

I'll let that bit of irony sink in for a minute.

Saul proceeded to dig the hole deeper.

"Governor Granholm has tried to make everybody happy, and she, in effect, has made no one happy."

Well, as stated above, our mayor is happy. GR has seen benefits from this program.

In Grand Rapids, the money helped renovate buildings, improve streets and develop loft apartments along South Division Avenue. The grants have been used to revitalize the Turner Gateway on the city's West Side and refurbish part of Grandville Avenue.

Developers are happy.
Birgit Klohs, president of Right Place Inc., a local economic development body, said the program -- like tax-forgiving Renaissance Zones and incentives for redeveloping old properties called brownfields -- has helped draw attention to urban centers.

"We truly are, as a nation, beginning to understand that our urban centers are like our heart," Klohs said. "If it dies, the rest of us won't survive, either."

Cool Cities grants "build on that theme" and leverage money from other programs, she said.

Heck, even the mayor of the Republican stronghold of Holland is happy.
Holland Mayor Al McGeehan, who leads a strongly Republican city, agreed. Holland received a Cool Cities grant to revitalize the downtown Park Theater.

"Michigan cities are in peril," McGeehan said. "Thank God there are those who are still doing what they can do to lift cities and celebrate cities."

So who, exactly, is "unhappy"? Apparently just Saul and the Republicans who have no plan of their own.
He called the governor's Cool Cities initiative "little more than a public relations stunt."

As opposed to this little tour, which offers, well, nothing, not even good "public relations".

Keep on keeping on Saul. You're doing a heck of a job.
Granholm ready to replace doomed tax


And just think, it could have been over and done by now. Too bad a certain someone needed a campaign issue and is choosing to create economic chaos at a time when we can least afford it.



Gov. Jennifer Granholm conceded for the first time Thursday that she expects Michigan's much criticized Single Business Tax is history and said she wants to negotiate by year's end a new business tax to replace all $1.9 billion the SBT generates annually.



Republicans, who hold a majority in both houses of the Legislature, have said they want a replacement business tax that results in an overall tax cut.



Granholm's comments in a Free Press interview came on the same day that Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said he will turn in 360,000 signatures on Tuesday to force the Legislature to vote on eliminating the SBT. That amount is 106,000 more than he needs.



If he has enough signatures from his petition drive, the Legislature -- which passed a bill to eliminate the SBT that Granholm rejected earlier this year -- can vote again to get rid of the tax, and this time it would be veto-proof.


Time to remind everyone she would have signed the original legislation had it been amended to protect Michigan from "massive cuts to education, health care, and public safety" and protect average citizens from a tax increase.



"I will not sign House Bill 5743 in its current form," Granholm wrote. "House Bill 5743 can be amended to guarantee Michigan families and citizens needed and effective protection. Amend the bill to include such safeguards, and I will sign the bill."



That was March 27th. The legislature could have been working on a replacement for the past two months. (actually they could have been working on a replacement for the past 15 years or so, but who's counting?) Instead they have been dragging their feet for political purposes, and, as I noted in a story below, it is starting to have consequences on new development.



Republicans like to say that this will "force a negotiation". What they neglect to tell you is that she has been willing to negotiate all along.



Ari Adler, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, said Granholm's willingness to negotiate is just what the campaign to eliminate the SBT intended -- force a discussion of a new business tax.



"The only way to start taking it seriously is to show the alternative, which is a $2-billion hole in the state budget," Adler said.


That line has to be the biggest crock that has come out of the legislature's mouth. Granholm takes this seriously, businesses that want to invest in Michigan certainly take it seriously, the citizens that will be affected take it seriously (and that would be ALL of us). Seems the only people who aren't taking it seriously are those in the legislature. Always ready with an excuse NOT to work on it. At first they didn't want to do it in "an election year". Now, here comes more foot-dragging from Adler-



He said it's premature for Granholm to restrict the debate by insisting that a new tax produce the same revenue as the SBT.



"There's a wide range of options that need to be explored," he said.


Such as? They won't say. They never say. Not before the election anyway. To tell the truth might hurt their chances in November.



"There's a reason talks are not going on, which is they want to have it as a campaign issue," Granholm said. "But the minute that campaign is over, I think we're going to see proposals from Republicans about what they will put in place.


Will we? Sometimes I'm not so sure. I don't think they have a clue.



Oddly enough, Republicans are running around talking about increasing spending on top of this tax cut. They want increased spending for education, increased revenue sharing for cities, "merit" raises for teachers and state employees. They are promising all kinds of goodies, and at the same time they are talking about gutting the revenue that provides said goodies.



They also won't mention the tax cuts that have already happened at both the state and national level. Wonder why.


"This election is going to be a choice between someone who believes you should have tax cuts for the wealthy or the big corporations and that trickle-down will work, and somebody who is going to invest in all of people," (Granholm) said. "I am all about putting people first and investing in us in order to grow."



She added: "We've already seen $1.7 billion in cuts for businesses, and it has not done the job. Enough. Let's invest in our workforce, in our education system."


Does that include the Fed cuts, Jennifer? I don't think it does. So far, "trickle down" has been a "trick". Corporate profits are at their highest level in 40 years, and that has not lead to increased wages or investment. They take the money and stuff it in their pocket, expecting us to keep believing that the pay-off is coming.



The choice is obvious- more tax cuts for the rich on top of more spending, because that sort of fiscal policy has worked so well in Washington (for the wealthy, anyway), or, fiscal responsibility and stability. You decide.



Just think, if you choose the former, you can wait for your "trickle down" once again. How is that working out for you?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Column: Race for Honda plant offers some painful lessons


Did Engler's budget cuts of yesterday cost us jobs today? Will DeVos and the MI GOP's current actions and rhetoric do the same for tomorrow?



Yes, during her recent trip there the governor wrapped up deals with 12 Japanese companies that will invest $84 million in Michigan and create 400 much-needed jobs here.



But during her trip Granholm was blindsided by an announcement from Honda Motor Co. The Japanese automaker said it will build a $400 million assembly plant, which would employ 1,500 workers, somewhere in the Midwest by 2008.



Honda's new-plant announcement -- made from Japan on May 17, while Granholm was in the same country hunting for jobs -- must have embarrassed her, to say the least.



A visit to Honda's headquarters wasn't even on Democrat Granholm's itinerary. Trying to recover, she instructed the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to quickly draft an investment proposal, which was delivered to Honda on May 19.


Seems to me I heard rumbling about Honda before Granholm's trip, but I might be confusing it with all the media focus on Toyota. I find it hard to believe that she was actually "blindsided" by this- but, maybe she was, I don't know. Perhaps it wasn't on the radar due to Honda's long relationship with Ohio- it seems we lost them long ago.



Ohio, where Honda has been building cars since 1982, and neighboring Indiana are considered front-runners in the race to capture the new plant. Even Granholm is downplaying expectations Honda will select Michigan.



Honda's lengthy and profitable history with Ohio gives the Buckeye state an edge. And analysts say Indiana's low taxes make the Hoosier state a tough competitor.



But Ohio and Indiana share another important competitive advantage over Michigan. Both states have maintained trade offices in Japan for years, allowing them to continuously tout their strengths to Japanese automakers.



Indiana has kept a trade office in Japan for 20 years, staffed with three trade professionals, said Jane Jankowski, Gov. Mitch Daniels' spokeswoman. Ohio has operated a three-person trade office in Tokyo for more than a decade, according to the Ohio Department of Development.



Michigan used to have a trade office in Tokyo. But Republican Gov. John Engler closed it and several other foreign offices in a budget-cutting move in the 1990s.


This move obviously had future repercussions.

"The biggest mistake we made was closing our Tokyo office," said Marc Santucci, who ran Michigan's international trade operation in Gov. James Blanchard's administration in the 1980s.



That's not a partisan shot at Engler. Santucci, who now heads Elm International Inc., an East Lansing-based auto industry research firm, said he's a conservative Republican who just happened to work for a Democratic governor.



To be fair, Granholm visited Honda during a trade trip to Japan last year. And she's worked hard to court any number of Japanese companies, including Toyota Motor Corp., which is building a major technical center near Ann Arbor.



But convincing a skittish Japanese automaker to locate an assembly plant here in the home of Big Labor and the Big Three is no short-term challenge.



"That takes years of work, and it doesn't pay off until years later," Santucci said.



Ohio or Indiana will likely soon see a big payoff from their years of staying the course in Japan.


Fast forward to now. As Governor Granholm scrambles to make up for lost time, the Republicans in Michigan are still insulting foreign investors and trying to thwart attempts to create jobs, sending the constant message that Michigan is a bad place to do business.



Saul Anuzis called Granholm's trip a "publicity stunt". Wonder what those companies that did choose to invest here thought about that. I hope that it didn't get back to them- it's a statement that shows the GOP doesn't appreciate their investment and commitment to our state. Instead of welcoming these companies, Saul insults them.



Dick, a man who created jobs in China instead of Michigan (tell me Dick, why aren't you manufacturing product here for export to China? Hurt the profit margin, does it?), had this to say-


GOP gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos says last week's trade trip to Japan by incumbent Democrat Jennifer Granholm wouldn't "do any good" without fundamental changes in a business climate that has Michigan in "economic misery."



DeVos also told the Detroit Economic Club Tuesday that he's opposed to state financial incentives Michigan has used for more than a dozen years to lure and retain jobs.


How does eliminating incentives help our state? It doesn't. It will hurt us. Engler himself "created the Michigan Economic Growth Authority in 1993 to compete for business projects that other states were throwing tax breaks at". We needed to be competitive then, we need to be competitive now- and this is the standard. Ohio and Indiana are offering these incentives, and, good or bad, we have to also. From a CBS News story on the battle for the Honda plant-



"Indiana has a long tradition in manufacturing and a skilled work force to bring to Honda," said John Sullivan, director of Purdue University's Center for Advanced Manufacturing.



Sullivan said Honda's decision may come down to the financial incentives offered by the two states.



"With the current (Indiana) administration, these sorts of things are a very big priority," he said. "I think they will be very aggressive."



As the Indiana case shows, "low taxes" aren't enough. More "incentives" are what these companies now expect. Dick wants to throw that all away- which would presumably take us out of the running for future investment.



Dick also attacks Granholm's efforts to promote our state.

"A better sales job isn't what we need," DeVos told a luncheon audience of about 400. "It doesn't do any good for state officials to traipse around the world, selling Michigan, if what we're selling doesn't meet the needs of buyers"



What Dick ignores, as far as "meeting the needs of buyers", is we obviously can do that, or these trips Granholm has made would have been totally fruitless. Instead, she created thousands of jobs and millions in investment just by reaching out. Apparently the GOP doesn't appreciate that, either. I bet that the Michigan citizens who got jobs and the Michigan cities that benefit from this investment appreciate it a great deal.



One wonders how many jobs we lost due to Republican indifference and rhetoric that actually discourages foreign and domestic investment. They keep running around talking about how "bad" everything is here- it's no wonder companies look to other states.

Second challenge to anti-nudity ordinance filed
Apparently it's OK to try and shut down someone else's business based on your prejudices, but the second there are consequences to that action you get to cry "victim".

Grand Rapid-The Little Red Barn Theatre and Bookstore is the second adult business to challenge the new Grand Rapids anti-nudity ordinance.

The Red Barn's federal lawsuit doesn't just charge the city with violating the U.S. Constitution.

It also wants damages from leaders and members of the community group and non-profit organization that lobbied for the law and everyone who pledged to a legal fund set up to defend the ordinance.

"Talk about restraint of free speech," says Dar VanderArk, executive director of the Michigan Decency Action Council. "We're all in trouble if that is successful. It's scary when you think about it. Really scary."

Cry me a river, Dar. What a hypocrite. Is it "really scary" that someone actually fought back this time?

Typical bully. He can dish it out, but he can't take it.

The Red Barn lawsuit accuses the city of acting as the government agent for private citizens who want to close adult businesses.

Good. I don't want my city government, my tax dollars to be able to be "bought" on a whim and used to further the Radical Right's goals, especially by people who insist on remaining anonymous.

They want to sue on their own? Go ahead. Leave my money out of it.

Rick Tormala seems to be the city official with his head on straight.

City Commissioner Rick Tormala was the only commissioner to vote against the ordinance. Tormala says he's worried the city will run out of money trying to fight the lawsuits and says he refuses to authorize the use of additional taxpayer money.

"Mark London has 100 thousand dollars from Duane Faust that he can use against us," Tormala said. "There's going to be tons of money coming from that industry and we've got limited funds. I hope it lasts. You're going to have to ask the mayor what will happen when we run out of money," Tormala said.

Heartwell says he believes the lawyers. (hahaha!) I really like my mayor, but I think he's foolish to think this will only cost 100 grand.
"I remain convinced that 100 thousand is adequate. That is what our outside council told us, and I am relying on that," Heartwell said.

Did the lawyers take in account this new lawsuit? My guess is no. I wonder if there is any case law on this- can a group private citizens fund a city's (public) legal actions? This can't be the first time this has happened. I alaso wonder if the discovery process will reveal the names of these "anonymous" people.

Better get that agreement from the MDAC in writing, Mr. Mayor.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Job growth healthier than thought
Here is some good news. The title of this article in the Press is, "The recovery has come".

GRAND RAPIDS -- Put on a happy face, West Michigan. We're growing after all.

The latest, and most accurate, measures of 2005 job growth show this region is healthier.

"We really did do very well last year. The recovery has come," said George Erickcek, senior regional analyst for the Kalamazoo-based W.E. Upjohn Institute.

An early morning crowd of 70 took in the latest data at Van Andel Public Museum, during a quarterly review titled "Engineering Growth; Economic Trends 2006," hosted by the Business Review of West Michigan.

"In the Holland-Grand Haven and Niles-Benton Harbor regions, jobs grew instead of declined," Erickcek said.

Ottawa County added 1,000 jobs, instead of losing 2,000 as a preliminary analysis had shown.

The positive definition came from unemployment insurance data, compared to preliminary figures drawn from a sampling of companies.

"Grand Rapids and Wyoming basically rocked," Erickcek said.

The region's actual job growth was three times the earlier estimate, boosting the pace from 0.4 percent to 1.2 percent, a net of 3,200 jobs.

Despite the upbeat report, the economic boosters have some concerns:

-Although manufacturing jobs are not growing, output is up.

-Skilled labor will become harder to find, as baby boomers retire and population growth stagnates.

-Uncertainty over the state's Single Business Tax and its replacement is hurting development efforts.

-Lack of a low-cost airline and few nonstop flights are impacting corporations.

Hettinger, still suffering from jet lag after a trade mission to Japan, and Klohs, just back from 15 company visits in Germany, agreed West Michigan's abundance of mechanical know-how is looking better to foreign firms.

"The No. 1 issue is skilled labor," Klohs said.

Companies that have sites in the Deep South are finding "it's not all it's cranked up to be," she said. "They're understanding, sometimes you get what you pay for."

Back to you, Dick.
Ennui:

My state of mind today.

Main Entry: en·nui
Pronunciation: "än-'wE
Function: noun
Etymology: French, from Old French enui annoyance, from enuier to annoy -- more at ANNOY
: a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction : BOREDOM


Datsa where I'm at with the news this morning- so you get another picture of a guy in a pink jersey! Lucky you!




Oh sure, I could go off on the Hypocritical DeVos Quote of the Day, that being-

"Nor is it fair to taxpayers or to businesses that are already here that Michigan has to hand over fat subsidies and tax breaks to attract customers."


I could dig up the millions of dollars in tax breaks the DeVos clan has enjoyed; it's easy enough. I would ask Dick if he plans on giving that money back if that is the way he feels. Or, I could talk about this paragraph...

DeVos also called for an "overhaul" of state government that would include merit pay for teachers and state workers. He said "thanks to overzealous bureaucrats and environmental extremists run amok" in agencies like the Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan families are paying the price in lost jobs and smaller paychecks.


... and ask Dick how he intends to pay for these merit increases after he guts the budget, or I could show that the "overzealous bureaucrats" he speaks of have been under Republican control in this state and this country for years now. (Don't make me dig up Engler's record on the DEQ. Or DNR. Whatever the hell it was called when he screwed it up.) Or, I could point out that if we continue to destroy the environment, it costs us more money in lost tourism and increased health issues, dummy. To put it bluntly, you don't shit where you eat, Dick.

I could do all that. Maybe I just did.

Back to ennui and pink jerseys though. Sometimes paying attention to politics has all the appeal of watching a bunch of junior high school kids in a nasty food fight. They're loud, they're obnoxious, and they make a big mess. It's fascinating at first, but after awhile it gets old. And annoying.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Premarital bill shows GOP has lost its hands-off role
Geez, ya THINK? Are you just now figuring that out? Where have you been these past few years?

Republican politicians used to be hands-off when it came to meddling in the lives of citizens, and the Democrats just the opposite.

But we've seen a dramatic role reversal in Lansing recently.

Republican Rep. John Stahl of North Branch is pushing a bill that would require a couple to attend a premarital class or be counseled before they can get a marriage license.

Taxpayers would pick up the tab, an estimated $1.5 million a year.

Stahl predicts the counseling would result in fewer divorces and save money for the state in the long run. Among other things, broken marriages too often result in children on welfare.

But Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, is against the bill. In vetoing similar legislation two years ago, she wrote, "State government should not expand its role into such private affairs when such expansion is neither effective nor appropriate."

The governor was right then, and she's right now. As this was written, she intended to veto Stahl's bill, too.

Shelli Weisberg, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, sharpens the governor's point in saying the legislation is "an unwanted and unwarranted intrusion of privacy."

-snip-

As noted above, the GOP traditionally has been the party that preaches hands-off government. In recent years, too many of its members have made the morality of the populace their business.

Government's role should be minimal.

Granholm wisely is defending what Republicans used to: the "right to be let alone."

Yes. Imagine my confusion when I find myself arguing for what used to be considered "conservative" talking points- fiscal responsibility and getting government out of your personal life. Good grief, it's no wonder my head hurts.
Lansing State Journal: Call 'em in: Governor, test legislative resolve on SBT with special session
Seems I heard this somewhere before- :-)

The options are narrowing for Gov. Jennifer Granholm on repeal of Michigan's Single Business Tax.

And that's bad news for the state, since Granholm's been one of the few state officials to take a responsible stand on the tax: Repeal it if necessary, but also create a new levy to protect the roughly $1.9 billion it generates for state services.

Granholm can hesitate no longer. She should call a special session of the Legislature this summer just to deal with the SBT.

Last week, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson announced his petition drive had collected the minimum number of signatures necessary to push SBT repeal by the end of 2007. If this petition drive is successful, Granholm becomes a spectator on SBT policy: Either the Legislature would vote in repeal on its own, or state voters would decide the matter.

The petition is scary stuff for responsible government. It would allow the Legislature, or the voters, to vote in repeal without having to immediately deal with the financial consequences.

-snip-

The House and Senate plan to work about another month, then take their traditional summer break for July and August. Wouldn't it be better for Michigan if lawmakers spent that time in session, dealing solely with the SBT?

The Michigan Constitution allows the governor to call such special sessions. In the past, the Legislature has argued it can't be forced into special session unless it adjourns its regular session. Some independent experts disagree.

Let's test that point - and the commitment to SBT reform - with a summer special session that keeps lawmakers at work, and away from their recreating.

Feet to the fire. Let's roll. Of course, it's not our job on the line if it all goes bad. Better think of every single consequence of this move and be ready to counter all attacks. These guys are going to react like you are poking them with hot sticks (oooo, there's an idea). You are going to hear whining and screaming like you never have heard before, but, it would be worth it. Call their bluff. It's put up or shut up time.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Granholm: 7100 new jobs coming
Yea! More press! This story got a nice slot on the noon news-

LANSING - Back from her trip to Japan, Governor Granholm this morning signed legislation she says will create 7,100 jobs in the state.

The governor's plan, "Jobs Today, Jobs Tomorrow," will use $80 million from the state to leverage $320 million of federal money to move road projects scheduled for 2007 to this year.

"It will be a slam dunk rapid process so that we can get people to work," Granholm said. "Everyone who sees an orange barrel, as I continue to say, please remember that it represents a job, or more jobs."

Well, next they will probably bitch because there is "too much road construction". These folks are never satisfied. ;-)
The Go-Go's have still got the beat
This made me smile.

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Here's a fact to make music fans of a certain age cringe: The Go-Go's debut release, "Beauty and the Beat," has just turned 25.

To celebrate the occasion, the hugely popular female pop group has joined forces for yet another tour. As several previous reunions (most recently in 2001) proved, there is no shortage of fans eager to either relive their youthful memories or see what the fuss was about.

While there was no new material on display (or apparently in the works), the group proved at least two things. First, that they still look damn good. As guitarist Jane Wiedlin put it, "We may have some junk in our trunks, but we think we're hot." And second, that their new wave-era pop holds up remarkably well.

Beginning with their classic hit "Our Lips are Sealed," the Go-Go's first performed "Beauty and the Beat" in its entirety. Any initial skepticism -- the album is not exactly "Exile on Main Street," after all -- was quickly dissipated by the procession of sterling numbers that followed. In addition to the propulsive "We Got the Beat," such songs as "Lust to Love," "Automatic" and "Skidmarks on My Heart" demonstrated that the album is indeed well worth celebrating. At the conclusion, singer Belinda Carlisle wryly commented to the wildly cheering crowd, "Not bad for a bunch of old broads, huh?"

Anyone who has seen them live knows what a great rock band they really are. I was skeptical walking in when I first saw them back in '82- moved by their powerful performance, I bought a guitar soon after. The rest is history...
DeVos economic plan light on detail
Dick admits that he will give a tax cut to "business" (i.e. the rich) and destroy state government.

DeVos' "seven steps to a turnaround" speech, set for noon Tuesday at Burton Manor in Livonia, appears long on philosophy and short on specifics. He calls for abolishing the "job-killing" Single-Business Tax and replacing it with a "broad-based business tax on profits or gross receipts."

No, a campaign spokesman says, the replacement levy would not fill the $1.9 billion annual hole left in the state budget. And, yes, that means it would be a net tax cut that also would be offset by other "efficiencies and program cuts," but not a tax on services.

Still, a Democratic governor, with her deeply partisan inner circle, isn't the only reason Michigan is in the fix it is. DeVos's fellow Republicans have controlled the state Legislature throughout -- and well before -- Gov. Jennifer Granholm's term, and Republicans have shared her timidity when faced with tough, unpopular choices.

WHAT ELSE would you cut? Funny how they will NEVER answer that question.
Twentieth-century Michigan, with its big companies paying big management and big unions fat paychecks and Cadillac benefits, built a society that a 21st-century Michigan in a competitive world simply cannot afford.

In the late '90s, Detroit's automakers were rolling in the dough, Michigan was leading the nation in job creation and college graduates were staying because good jobs could be had feeding an industry enjoying a brief, SUV-fueled renaissance.

The auto industry likely to emerge from today's restructuring will be smaller and will employ fewer people in a space shared with an increasing number of foreign-owned automakers, suppliers and other industries.

"My message," DeVos says in his prepared remarks, "is simple -- if we do not change, Michigan's best days will remain in our past. What I am talking about is not just tinkering under the hood, tweaking the tax code or revising some regulations. What I am talking about is a complete overhaul of state government."

Dick's "philosophy" is simple. Give the money to the rich- cut the services that help people. So we should elect him, a man who has no experience and no real plan, to completely overhaul the government. Oh my God. This has disaster written all over it.

Dick goes on to talk about spending more money on top of this.

He's talking about rewarding great teachers for great results; spending more on K-12, higher education and skills training; speeding business permitting and rewarding accountability in government -- all of it the political equivalent of Mom and apple pie.

Spending cuts and increases. Neat trick, Dick.

What a big, bad, scary joke this is. I'll let Markos finish this up- he had some words the other day that are very pertinent to the thought of electing more "conservatives"- this applies to Washington, this applies to Michigan and DeVos' "philosophy".

What you are seeing is the failure of right-wing conservatism. The failures since 2000 are not Bush, or Cheney, or incompetence; they are the logical end result of their philosophy of government. When you vote for people who believe government is the problem, this is the government you get. When you vote for people who believe corporations are more important than people, this is the government you get. If you vote for these people, you will get more of the same. It is time to say, "We tried it, and we don't like it." It is time to stop voting for the right-wing Republican agenda, and start voting for progressives who believe in government of all the people, by all the people, and for all the people.

Amen. Haven't we learned our lesson yet?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

5th3rd:



Yeah, it's pretty, but it was COLD out there today.

Here's Juliet working on her new career as a vendor. Kid has potential.



All my action shots turned out grainy. Ugh. I talked to one of the Press dudes today- he's walking around there with 20 grand in gear around his neck, and he doesn't even LIKE baseball. Found out that the telephoto lenses- the big ones- are around $8,000 new. So much for that. Still want a Digital Rebel XRT- bet I could get some nice shots with a cheaper telephoto, or even the kit lens. Not gonna happen anytime soon though.

Sorry I haven't blogged- a bit burned right now. Bummed about Barbaro. Reminds me so much of Ruffian. Even dead horses haunt me. Bummed that the Guv isn't engaging in the campaign- now that is becoming an issue; the screaming headline of my paper today. Bummed the Cubs suck so bad- but at least they did win today. Now I hear that Kerry Wood has some "soreness" and might miss (yet another) start.

I'll snap out of it, I always do. I'm not so sure about Woody though.

Friday, May 19, 2006

House votes to keep offshore drilling ban
Gotta praise 'em when they do something right.

Good House. *pats on head* Good, good House.


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In a big win for environmentalists, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on Thursday to keep the congressional ban on natural gas drilling in most federal offshore waters that start just a few miles from state coastlines.

Energy companies have complained for years they need access to the trillions of cubic feet of natural gas in federal waters where drilling is banned to help meet growing gas demand that has lifted natural gas prices amid tighter supplies.

High gas costs have forced many energy-intensive industries to scale back or move their operations to other countries where energy is cheaper. Higher natural gas utility bills have also pinched consumers.

The full House voted 217-203 to reverse last week's move by the House Appropriations Committee to include language in the $26 billion interior and environment spending bill that would have ended the congressional ban on gas drilling in federal waters.

The committee did not change the congressional ban on oil drilling, nor did it address a separate presidential ban in place until 2012 on oil and gas production in most federal offshore waters.

House lawmakers earlier rejected by 279-141 an amendment to the spending measure that would have also ended the drilling ban on oil.

Currently, only the central and western Gulf of Mexico and limited areas off Alaska are open to drilling. The committee's action would have allowed companies to search for gas in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the eastern Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast.
Granholm brings home 402 jobs
Time for a big, splashy press conference. Jimmy Hoffa is stealing the headlines.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm has won commitments from at least eight Japanese firms to invest $85 million in Michigan, creating 402 jobs, and laid the groundwork for more deals during a three-day trade visit to Japan.

"We are in Japan to build stronger relationships with business leaders and bring jobs home to Michigan," Granholm said in a statement.

JTETK, a partnership of Toyoda Machinery and Koyo Seiko, will expand its facilities in Plymouth.

Takao Metals, one of Honda Motor Co.'s suppliers that has an engineering facility in Wixom, is investing in a new facility in Canton Township.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America will locate a facility in Wixom, while Mitsui Chemical will consolidate its regional production in Adrian, transferring jobs from its plant in Indiana.

The investments announced Wednesday total $51 million.

On Monday, the governor's office announced investments totaling $34 million from Konica Minolta Holdings, heavy electrical equipment maker Meiden America, seating manufacturer Taichi-S and Shikoku Cable Co.

Granholm also met with executives of Toyota Motor Corp. and its major suppliers Aisin and Denso -- all of which have a presence in the state.

Granholm is also asking Toyota to choose Michigan as the site of the automaker's next North American plant. The automaker is looking at Michigan and other states.

This was tucked away in the DN business section- and not mentioned at all in the Free Press. (or, at least on the "front page" of their web site)

Maybe it's too soon and I'm just ahead of the curve a little bit. Need more press!
House passes plan to restrict access to welfare benefits
The politics of exclusion. What would the Republicans be without their divisive issues?

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - People convicted of certain crimes - including murder, rape and some drug offenses - would not be able to receive welfare benefits under a bill passed Thursday by the state House.

The House plan also would restrict the amount of time able-bodied people could get welfare benefits to two consecutive years and a lifetime limit of four years. People would have to show proof they are legally living in the U.S. to get benefits.

Recipients would lose some of their benefits if they don't fulfill work or training requirements. In a pilot program, welfare applicants could be drug tested if there are indications of substance abuse.

Republicans have taken the bill she originally vetoed as having gone "too far" and pushed it even farther. They have no intention of actually working with the Guv to get "reform" passed- they are looking for yet another veto so they can have some juicy sound bites for the upcoming campaign season- never mentioning that they are doing this at the expense of poor children.
Opponents said the bill will hurt children most by throwing their parents off the welfare recipient list.

"This bill started off bad and is going downhill fast," Rep. Chris Kolb, a Democrat from Ann Arbor, said as the bill was amended several times to push stricter changes in the system. Amendments addressed the welfare eligibility of parole violators, fugitives from justice and others.

Not only are the Pubs playing politics with poor children's lives, they are risking federal money to do so.

Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm vetoed legislation with some similar time-limit themes in December. Granholm said in her veto letter last year that she supports limiting the amount of time welfare recipients can receive cash if there is nothing keeping them self-sufficiency. But she said last year's proposals went too far.

But supporters said this plan is different, and that action is needed now - in part to avoid federal penalties for not having enough welfare recipients moving toward work participation goals.

Kolb said the bill would not help meet those goals. He said the time limits are so strict it would throw people off welfare "even if they are doing everything they're supposed to be doing" as part of the program.

Michigan had about 74,000 welfare case families involving about 230,000 people, many of them children, at the end of last fiscal year.

75% are children, if I'm not mistaken.

Moving on from the "punish the poor kids" legislation, we have this little gem also- English as the "official" state language. Just as in Washington- more useless nonsense designed to exclude minorities as we wave our flags and pat ourselves on the back for our pseudo-patriotism.


LANSING, Mich. (AP) - English would become the state's official language under a bill passed Tuesday by the state House.

If the legislation becomes law, state agencies would not be required to provide documents in languages other than English. However, supporters of the bill said nothing in it would prohibit an agency from printing documents in a foreign language if it so desired.

The bill passed by a 73-32 vote and now goes to the Senate. The bill had bipartisan support, but it lost a few votes when it was changed on the House floor to remove some clarifying language that had been suggested by Democrats at the committee level.

More than 8 percent of people in Michigan who are at least 5 years old speak a language other than English at home, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

More than half the states have designated English as their official language, according a national group called ProEnglish, which favors the measures.

The House bill as passed states that "except as otherwise provided by law, a state agency is not required to provide documents, publish written materials, or provide website content in any language other than the official language of this state."

Supporters said that means a state agency could still publish materials in a foreign language if it decides it is warranted. But some Democrats argued that the legislation as passed could deny immigrants and others who may not speak English vital documents in their own language.

Red meat for racists. God I hate election years.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

State rejects Meijer's $1 million gift, saying it can't put his name on park
Seems a true philanthropist wouldn't care whether his name was on the gift or not.

COMSTOCK PARK - When retail magnate Fred Meijer recently pledged $1 million toward the completion of White Pine Trail State Park, Michigan officials turned him down.

Meijer's offer was rejected because it hinged on adding his name to the 92-mile hiking and bicycling trail built on a former rail bed.

It would go against state policy to rename the trail the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park, said Jim Wood, administrator of the Michigan Natural Resource Trust Fund.

"It's one thing to name a wetlands-viewing platform after a donor, another to rename an entire state park," Wood told The Grand Rapids Press.

He and other Grand Rapids-area philanthropists, such as the families of Amway Corp. co-founders Jay Van Andel and Rich DeVos, say they believe attaching their names to buildings and other projects made possible by their donations encourages others to give.

Bullshit. It's an arrogant attempt by a bunch of rich, vain old men to flaunt their wealth and perhaps defeat mortality in some small way. If these people really cared about the community, really just wanted to give something, they would do it.

Prove me wrong, Fred- give the money anyway. Or prove that it really was "all about you" in the first place.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

DeVos & the Republicans- Forcing You to Give Up Your Doritos

Doritos are buy one, get one free at your local Meijer this week. Do we need to make this against the law? The current crop of Republicans might be so inclined.

In response to the Governor's plan to "get these people some health care, for God's sake, before they drive up insurance costs some more", the Republicans have been forced to actually, like, address the issue, for a change. The way they are addressing it might cause some concern if you value your freedom to take advantage of the free Doritos offer and still get health care through the state.

It seems the Republicans would require that you be healthy.

Ari "Fleischer" Adler had this to say on behalf of Sikkema's office-

Ari Adler, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, R-Wyoming, said any state insurance plan should require participants to lead healthier lifestyles to avoid medical problems. "If you continue to focus on treating people once they are sick, you will never get out from under the health care burden," Adler said.


Because actually treating sick people is the main cause of health care costs. It's a fact. Or, maybe not. Maybe it's the paperwork, I don't know.

But the key word in that sentence was "require". Given that a whole bunch of us Michigan citizens are overweight, and a whole bunch of us smoke and drink, too- that is a pretty tall order. You eliminate damn near everybody, or you create a monstrous bureaucracy. We will get to that in a minute.

Here's Dick, using hearsay as proof that we should just believe what he is saying is true. He does that a lot. He also thinks doctors should just give away medical care for free. Bet they are going to be happy to hear that.

DeVos said he would look at encouraging physicians to provide more free medical care to uninsured individuals, but that those patients in return should be required to take their medications and follow other doctors' orders.

He said physicians who have given free medical care complained to him that those patients often did not follow up on their instructions or take their medication as directed.

"There has to be some compliance," DeVos said.


Just a guess, but I think that the people who are getting anything for "free" right now are those that can barely take care of themselves as it is- mostly the homeless and the mentally ill. Wouldn't you think? Getting them to "comply" might be difficult. Perhaps the "free doctor" can take care of that, too. And, exactly which doctors are giving care away for free? (I'm serious- I need to know. Please tell me. I screwed up my knee mowing my lawn today- I promise I will take medication.)

How can they actually pull that off, "requiring" you to live a "healthy lifestyle"? I've got a few ideas, and the technology is already in place!

Any debit/credit card purchases at the grocery store should be transmitted directly to the state. (I'm sure ChoicePoint has this information already in their database. They know what flavor of Doritos you like and how often you buy them.) The state can then calculate the amount of "fat points" on your grocery bill, sort of like Weight Watchers. Go over a certain limit and before you can say, "Get the door- it's Dominos", a state official will be there with a search warrant for your cupboards and refrigerator. Any food deemed to be bad for you (under the "Bad For You Act of 2006") will then be confiscated, no refunds, you got the "bad for you" list and yet you still bought it anyway. Naughty you.

And speaking of Domino's- since we are already collecting data on the domestic calls of "tens of millions of Americans", chances are the state can just get that information from the NSA! If you have been found to call your local pizza place more than once a month, a list of the toppings you ordered will then be scrutinized for total fat content. You could find your phone blocked from calling any take-out/delivery food places; you'd just get a busy signal and figure they were swamped and give up, perhaps prompting you to get in the car and head for the nearest late night drive-thru to satisfy those carb cravings.

GPS tracking systems can take care of that little problem! The state would require you to install one on your car; they could map out all the fast food joints, and a little alarm will go off at headquarters when you drive in. As you pull up to the order speaker- boom! your airbag is triggered by remote and knocks you out before you can get that Triple Whopper. Employees would then be instructed to push your car out of the lane, damnit, you are holding everybody else up. You can sleep it off in the parking lot. Bet you won't try that again.

Proving that you have been exercising wouldn't be that difficult. Once every six months you could show up at your local Secretary of State office and they will put you on a treadmill, kind of like the "Treadmill to Bucks" in the "Running Man", except they could call it the "Treadmill to Healthcare". They could make you run for the amount of time they deem to be healthy for your age group, maybe do some sit-ups and pull-ups. You remember school Phys Ed, right? Your old teacher probably already works there. They will write down your scores and keep track of your results. If you drop dead from a heart attack during the tests, well, you don't have to worry about health care anymore, do you? See how easy that is? Dress comfortably.

And you smokers- even though you are already paying the big, big tax dollars for the pleasure of killing yourself 15 minutes at a time, thereby saving the government money in the long run 'cause you won't be alive to draw Social Security, well, you're just out of luck, period. We don't care that you have already funded a small town's fire department with your addiction, we will be administering urine tests for nicotine. To get your "Body License" from the SOS, you must "drop clean". Ask your kid what that means. No drinking that funny "clean me up" stuff from the skateboard shop, either, we can tell. Unfortunately, there will be no "renewal by mail" for this one. Make sure and put your tab on a clean, dry area on the lower right portion of your body. Having an expired "Body License" will subject you to fines and/or jail time. And you wouldn't like that.

Of course, all of this will require big spending on the part of the state to actually enforce a "healthy lifestyle", so maybe we should just encourage people in that direction instead of making up a bunch of rules and regulations that people won't follow or will lie about anyway. Kick 'em off any plan because they aren't "healthy", and they just show up at the emergency rooms, with no insurance, once again. We are right back to square one- uninsured Michiganders standing in the chip aisle of the grocery store, deciding what flavor of Doritos to buy.
Internet addiction can harm lives, marriages
What? Who, me? I can quit anytime I want. Nope, no problems here. ;-)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - - For some, the Internet it has become an addiction, adversely affecting their lives and their family's lives.

While not yet defined as a true addiction, many people are suffering the consequences of obsession with the online world, warns Dr. Diane M. Wieland, who treats patients with computer addiction in her practice in Lansdale, Pennsylvania.

"Obsession with and craving time on the computer results in neglect of real-life personal relationships to the point of divorce," Wieland says.

Well, it's a good thing I'm not married then, isn't it?

The prevalence of Internet addiction is hard to gauge at the moment, Wieland notes. Extrapolating from prevalence rates of other addictions, she thinks that 5 percent to 10 percent of Internet users will most likely experience addiction.

Signs and symptoms of Internet addiction include a general disregard for health and appearance; sleep deprivation due to spending so much time online; and decreased physical activity and social interaction with others. Dry eyes, carpal tunnel syndrome, and repetitive motion injuries of the hands and fingers are common.

Internet addicts may also get the "cyber shakes" when off line, exhibiting agitation and typing motions of the fingers when not at the computer.

Many Internet addicts have a history of depression, alcohol or drug abuse, and anxiety disorder, according to Wieland, who is an associate professor at the La Salle University School of Nursing.

Uh-oh.

I didn't get the shakes this morning, I swear.
300 more jobs for Kentwood
Jobs, jobs, jobs. Maybe I should get one one of these days, huh?

KENTWOOD – Three different companies are bringing 300 new jobs to Kentwood, bringing to 600 the total number added since March.

Roskam Bakery, Konica-Minolta and Kentwood-based Advanced Packaging will be adding jobs very soon.

Advanced Packaging, which designs and makes cardboard packaging and displays, will create 120 new jobs. They're building a new 425,000-square foot facility on 40th street, and will consolidate two other plants.

Tuesday night, the Kentwood City Commission approved a tax abatement for Roskam Bakery. They plan to add 100 jobs.

Also yesterday, Governor Granholm, in Japan for talks with business executives, announced Konica Minolta will create 81 jobs over the next year. Konica Minolta recently purchased American Litho.

Kentwood Mayor Richard Root believes the city has now replaced all the jobs they lost during the economic downturn in 2001. "We honestly believe we're ahead of the count now, and areawide, we believe that's the best thing that can happen for this entire community."
Ford shareholders uphold LGBT rights
Bigots get blasted. Film at 11.

The movement to erase pro-gay corporate policies at Ford Motor Co. suffered another blow as 95 percent of shareholders last week defeated a motion to remove LGBT worker protections at the company.

At Ford's annual meeting Thursday in Wilmington, Del., Tom Strobhar urged fellow shareholders to vote to remove gay men and lesbians from the automaker's nondiscrimination employment policies.

"Ford is paying domestic partner benefits while cutting retirement benefits. Our company is closing plants while building gay and lesbian centers," he said. Strobhar also blamed Ford's loss of market share to its support of gay men and lesbians.

Ford's chairman and CEO, William Ford, recommended defeating Strobhar's proposal and reiterated the company stance that Ford's workplace should be free from discrimination.

Kathleen Vokes, a spokeswoman for Ford, underscored the automaker's long-standing anti-discrimination stance. "Ford is proud of its tradition of treating all with respect, and we remain focused on what we do best -- building innovative cars and trucks worldwide," she told the PlanetOut Network.

Anti-gay Ford shareholders are undeterred by garnering only 5 percent of the vote. Don Wildmon, founder and chairman of the American Family Association, claimed to be pleased. "We're very grateful that we got that 5 percent and that this issue can come back up again next year," he said in a written statement.

Yeah, you run with that 5% there, Don. Probably keeps you in a nice home and car, doesn't it- making a living off of hate. Jesus would be so pleased.
Just Got My Internet Back:

... at noon. I need to catch up with the news.

Here's a nice sign- I have seen three Granholm stickers on cars in the past 24 hrs. Of course, I am in a strong Granholm area, you know, Dick's hometown.

Just thought I'd pass that along.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Japan deal to bring 81 jobs to Kentwood
Lookee here. More jobs. Wonder how many jobs the "jobs maker" made today.

KENTWOOD -- In just seven months, Japanese-based Konica Minolta Graphic Imaging USA is growing like wildfire at its new American Litho subsidiary.

Earlier today, Gov. Jennifer Granholm was in Japan signing a deal for Konica Minolta's second expansion at its Kentwood plant, a $13.3 million investment creating 81 jobs.

That's on top of the $8.7 million and 30 jobs the company added after acquiring American Litho in October, when the company employed 45.

Granholm said today she and her delegation expect to meet with 70 Asian companies on this trip.

"Today we met with nine companies," Granholm said. Four of them are expected to open shop in Michigan, with an estimated investment of $30 million and 150 jobs. Konica Minolta is the largest of those.

"Many of them are very eager to develop a presence in the U.S.," Granholm said. "We're just helping them."

She meets Wednesday with Toyota Motor Corp., to renew her pitch for an engine or assembly plant here. Early today, Honda Motor Co. announced a new hunt for another U.S. assembly plant site.

"We didn't have them on our list for this visit," Granholm said. "But we're making a note of that."

And in my mailbox, coming soon to a news outlet near you, are the names of the rest of the companies planning to expand in Michigan.

• Heavy electrical equipment manufacturer Meiden America that plans to expand its Michigan presence. The company will open a new facility which is expected to create 50 new jobs and $10 million in private investment. The company currently employs seven people at their Novi office.

• Shikoku Cable Company that plans to expand its sales operations in Novi. The company manufactures coaxial cable for the satellite and cable television industry. The project is expected to invest $250,000 and create two new jobs.

• Automotive seating manufacturer Taichi-S that is planning to expand its existing engineering facility in Farmington Hills. The project is expected to create $700,000 in private investment and 20 new jobs. The company also operates a subsidiary know as Technotrim in Livonia that makes automotive seat covers.

Granholm also met with officials of Hitachi Automotive Products and Nippon Piston Ring. Both companies are currently expanding in Farmington Hills and Grand Haven, respectively. She announced the projects during her investment mission to Japan last July. Hitachi officials indicated they are looking to partner with Michigan businesses on upcoming projects and will be holding a seminar in Michigan this July to advance that goal.

You go girl.

Let's see, for May 16th, the total of jobs announced are:

Granholm 553
DeVos 0
Whirlpool to create 400 jobs in state
Good news for Benton Harbor.

Whirlpool Corp.'s purchase of Maytag Corp. has led to a $5-million investment and the creation of 400 jobs at the company's headquarters in Benton Harbor.

The infusion of new jobs, facilitated in part by the Michigan Economic Development Corp., is a boon for the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph area. The MEDC approved a $10.4-million tax credit over 13 years, which is expected to create an economic ripple throughout western Michigan.

An economic analysis conducted by the University of Michigan estimates that Whirlpool's purchase could generate 433 "indirect Michigan jobs" and more than $600 million in personal income for workers over the life of the tax credit.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm is scheduled to hold a telephone news conference from Japan today to make the announcement.

"Whirlpool's decision to invest and bring jobs to Michigan is a testament to our aggressive strategy to attract new business investment, grow new jobs and build strong communities," Granholm said in a statement.

And, on another topic- Governor, you call it the "northern border", I call it the "escape route". Don't give the Canadians any ideas. Thanks.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Federal Source to ABC News: We Know Who You're Calling
But... but... but... I thought we were just tracking the terrorists!

I'm going to have to watch ABC tonight, apparently. I wonder if this will finally light a fire under the media.


Brian Ross and Richard Esposito Report:

A senior federal law enforcement official tells us the government is tracking the phone numbers we call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.

We do not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.

One former official was asked to sign a document stating he was not a confidential source for New York Times reporter James Risen.

The official who warned ABC News said there was no indication our phones were being tapped so the content of the conversation could be recorded.

A pattern of phone calls from a reporter, however, could provide valuable clues for leak investigators.

"I'm back in the U.S.S.R. ... you don't know how lucky you are, boy, back in the U.S.S.R. ..."
BRIAN DICKERSON: Rove rumor red meat to blue state audience
Oh crap. Look kids- one important truth about the blogs and Interent news such as truthout is that you had better verify before you start running with their rumors. Sometimes they are right (actually, I've found a lot of the time they are right), but sometimes they are dead wrong. Proceed with caution.

I hope this one is true, but I will believe it when I see the Rove Frog March. Where are you Patrick?

Was it an improbable outside-the-Beltway scoop on the ultimate inside-the-Beltway story? A criminal leak concerning the grand jury investigation of a criminal leak? Or just a red-hot rumor that caught fire in the dry tinder of too many trial attorneys?

Whatever it was, the news that White House adviser Karl Rove had been indicted for perjury electrified the 700 or so lawyers, judges and elected officials (including featured speakers Gov. Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.) gathered at the Dearborn Hyatt Regency for Saturday night's annual banquet of the Michigan Trial Lawyers Association.

Until they found out that maybe he hadn't been.

MTLA Vice President Robert Raitt was heading toward the podium to introduce Clinton, the banquet's keynote speaker, when Gerald Acker, a Southfield trial attorney and prominent Democratic fund-raiser, mentioned Rove's indictment.

Raitt didn't question the report. "Gerry is pretty connected," he explained Sunday, "and I thought, well, that'll get this crowd going."

A couple of minutes later, Raitt brought the heavily Democratic audience to its feet with the, um, news.

Among those who declined to join the standing ovation was Michigan Court of Appeals Chief Judge William Whitbeck, one of the few Republican officeholders in attendance. He said it struck him as odd that federal prosecutors had chosen to announce such a significant development on a Saturday night, but he left the banquet convinced that Rove's indictment was a fait accompli.

Twenty-four hours later, that was still in doubt. A few Democrat-friendly Web sites, including www.truthout.org, reported as early as Saturday afternoon that Rove's arrest was imminent. But by Sunday evening no reputable broadcast or print outlet had published the rumor.

This incident has erupted into quite the firestorm on the blogs- all I know is that truthout is on the line here. If they are right, they are heroes. If they are wrong, they will have set the blogosphere's credibility back a thousand yards- and that's not good for anyone who does this, both right and left.
Granholm returns to Japan
One constant reader of this blog complained that I hadn't said anything about Granholm's trip yet- so here you go. What he doesn't realize is that I was waiting for Repub reaction so I could shove it back down their throat when it proved to be false. There is a method to my madness here. Sometimes. :-)

The Detroit News focuses on a Toyota engine plant rumor- while that would be a sweet deal, there are many other companies that she and the MEDC team will be visiting.


ROMULUS -- Gov. Jennifer Granholm left Sunday on a trade trip to Japan, where she will meet with Toyota Motor Corp. executives to lobby the automaker to build its first factory in Michigan.

"They know we are interested and we know that Michigan is high on the list," Granholm said Sunday at Detroit Metropolitan Airport just before she left on her three-day trade visit to Japan. Granholm declined to say which Toyota executives she would be meeting with or when.

It is Granholm's second visit to Japan in 10 months. Her first helped Michigan become a serious contender for a planned Toyota engine plant. And in the past few months, Toyota executives have reportedly scouted several sites in Michigan and other states for the facility.

-snip-

The governor and her economic development team plan to meet with 11 companies in Tokyo on Tuesday, then travel to Nagoya, where they will meet with eight companies on Wednesday.

In addition to automotive companies, she plans to meet with company executives from the chemical production, banking and electronics sectors in hopes of luring skilled, high-paying jobs.

The governor is traveling with several Michigan Economic Development Corp. officials, including CEO and President James Epolito. After the governor returns from Japan, Epolito will spend another week and a half in South Korea and China visiting about 50 more companies.

Question is: Why does the MI GOP hate bringing jobs to Michigan?
Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis criticized Granholm's trip, saying the "taxpayer-funded trip is nothing more than a publicity stunt."

Well Saul, last time she went she brought back a boatload of jobs and money. Did you call that a "publicity stunt", too?
Granholm's last trade visit to Japan resulted in 10 Japanese companies expanding their presence in Michigan, creating 630 new jobs and $160 million in investment.

Don't forget Germany.

The Democratic governor's trade trip to Germany in 2004 resulted in eight companies announcing they would invest about $30 million and create about 150 new jobs.

Granholm- bringing jobs and investment to Michigan. That's a "publicity stunt" we can live with.
Bush to call for National Guard on Mexico border
When George has a problem, guns are the answer.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush is expected to call for thousands of National Guard troops along the U.S.-Mexico border to help curtail illegal immigration as debate over the divisive issue heats up.

Bush backs a guest-worker program that would let immigrants work temporarily in the United States, which has cost him support among some conservatives who view the idea as a type of amnesty for illegal immigrants -- a characterization Bush rejects.

The president is expected to outline immigration reform proposals, including deployment of several thousand National Guard troops in a support role along the 2,000-mile border, but less than the 10,000 that had been talked about at the Pentagon, a U.S. official said on Sunday.

I'm surprised that we even HAVE any troops to spare for deployment in the US (and that phrase gives me chills when I think about it).
The idea of sending Guard troops to the border has gotten reviews on Capitol Hill, where some lawmakers have expressed concern that the National Guard is already stretched too thin to take on major additional duties.

But Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, who helped broker the compromise immigration legislation to be debated on the Senate floor this week, said he was skeptical.

"We have stretched our military as thin as we have ever seen it in modern times," Hagel said on ABC's "This Week." "And what in the world are we talking about here, sending a National Guard that we may not have any capacity to send, up to, or down to, protect borders?"

My hero georgia10 at Kos finds the painful truth. Somebody get this girl a Pulitzer. Are there Pulitzer's for blogging yet?

So only now--when the President has hit 29% and W-brand Republicans are freaking out--has the President decided to send more guns to the border in another one of his carefully orchestrated photo-ops. Will anyone in the media bring up the fact that the President has refused to fully fund the border patrol?

Officially approved by Bush on Dec. 17 [2005] after extensive bickering in Congress, the National Intelligence Reform Act included the requirement to add 10,000 border patrol agents in the five years beginning with 2006. Roughly 80 percent of the agents were to patrol the southern U.S. border from Texas to California, along which thousands of people cross into the United States illegally every year.

But Bush's proposed 2006 budget, revealed Monday, funds only 210 new border agents.

The shrunken increase reflects the lack of money for an army of border guards and the capacity to train them, officials said.


There wasn't enough money to fully fund the border patrol with 10,000 agents in his budget, but there was more than enough money available to keep giving the wealthiest Americans their tax cut.

She nails him again- this is just a photo-op for the racist redmeat base of the Republican Party. They always need an "enemy", and if George can play with his toy soldiers, all the better.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

IFILM - User Video: Al Gore as President
Priceless. Go watch.
WikiThePresidency
Remember the other day when I said someone should break Bush down by category? Here ya go.

People For the American Way believes that a healthy democracy is an informed democracy. We have created WikiThePresidency.org to establish a single place for the public to both acquire and share information about Executive Branch wrongdoings and rightdoings.

Trying to find the "rightdoings" and coming up a little short. Here's the list so far-
Assault on Science
Bush Family History
Constitutional Violations
Corruption in General
Detentions
Economy
Education - NCLB
Environment
Fascism
Gay Marriage
Health and Safety
Interference with Investigations
Iran
Judiciary
Karl Rove
Katrina
Medicare and Social Security
Money in Politics
Moral and Ethical Corruption
National Security
Neo-Conservatives: Project for A New American Century
"Odd" Coincidences
Oil Profiteering
Political Abuse of Power
Political Appointees and Cronyism
Separation of Church and State
Signing Statements - Where the President "Legitimately" breaks laws
Suppression of Information
Taxpayer Funded Propaganda
Torture
Treaties / Agreements Annulled
Untruths
Voting
War and Occupation
Jeff Gannon Scandal
Voter Fraud
Developers, leaders: Not so fast on tax repeal
Duh.

GRAND RAPIDS -- Did GOP state legislators and gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos nearly shoot themselves in the feet in their campaign to repeal the state's Single Business Tax?

Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell and real-estate developer Sam Cummings think so. So does the lawyer who set up millions in tax credits for DeVos-connected projects such as the Michigan Hill Medical Towers and Alticor Inc.'s new J.W. Marriott Hotel.

While pro-business interests want to repeal the so-called SBT, developers have taken advantage of a state program that gives them an SBT credit worth up to 10 percent of an industrial or urban "brownfield" redevelopment project.

So if the much-criticized tax is eliminated, why would there be a need for a credit?

Developers and city officials say the credit is a vital tool to get brownfield projects off the ground. If the credit is eliminated, they say some other incentive will have to be created.

-snip-

In Grand Rapids, the tax credits have been used to spur $600 million worth of construction projects, according to city officials. Since 1997, those 52 projects have created 5,000 new jobs.

In the zeal to yell "tax cuts!" and find something that would stick it to Granholm, Republicans weren't thinking of the consequences of their actions. Again.

Yet, Heartwell said West Michigan legislators were surprised when he informed them their votes to repeal the SBT could threaten some of the city's biggest job-creation projects.

"That was simply something that was not on their radar screen," he said.

As chairman of a state group that promotes brownfield redevelopment, Heartwell added: "I have to take some responsibility for that."

George, I don't think it's your responsibility to watch the legislature. They should know these things because it's their job to know these things. Besides, chances are they would have plowed ahead anyway. You see, Big Republican Sugar Daddy and his merry band of sycophants needed an issue to wail about because, let's face it, they are a party devoid of ideas and innovation- all they can do is say "tax cuts".

Dick, as usual, doesn't have any answer for the problem.

Although repealing SBT is part of DeVos' campaign platform, the candidate believes the state should honor the credits offered to developers, said John Truscott, DeVos' spokesman.

DeVos "is aware of the issue," Truscott said.

While DeVos wants any replacement to honor SBT credits already issued, he will not commit to credits for future projects.

The credits are vital to the bottom line of most brownfield projects, said John Byl, a Grand Rapids lawyer who has prepared dozens of SBT tax credits, including those for Michigan Hill and Alticor hotel projects.

"In many cases, it's made the difference between a project happening and not happening," he said.

Dick's family has already cashed in, why should he care about anyone else?
For DeVos' family and business interests, the tax credits have been worth millions.

The $120 million Michigan Hill project stands to reap $9 million worth of SBT tax credits. The project is being developed by a partnership including RDV Corp., a real-estate firm owned by DeVos' family.

The $60 million J.W. Marriott Hotel stands to reap $5.9 million in SBT tax credits. It is being developed by Alticor, the Ada-based direct sales company DeVos once headed.

The party of "fiscal responsibility" strikes again.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

State: No Windfall From Gas Sales Taxes
Remember this next time DeVos makes claims about "windfall tax gouging". Just as with business tax rates that I mentioned before, Dick is not telling the truth.

Grand Rapids - Michigan is one of only ten states in the nation that collects a sales tax on gasoline sales. With gas priced so high, for so long, one would think that would that would help fuel the state's coffers, but that's not the case.

In fact, WZZM 13 news has learned that the state Monday will report that overall sales tax collections for the fiscal year are flat - with no growth over last year. The problem is, the non-partisan House Fiscal Agency was projecting a 3% increase. Mitch Bean, the agency's director, said Friday "It's really down pretty significantly...we think it's due to declining auto sales."

It will be interesting to see if Dick changes his tune now that this fact has come to light. My guess is no.
Spy Agency Watching Americans From Space
But it's just for hurricanes and other disasters, right? Just like those phone calls were all from overseas.

WASHINGTON - A little-known spy agency that analyzes imagery taken from the skies has been spending significantly more time watching U.S. soil.

In an era when other intelligence agencies try to hide those operations, the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper, is proud of that domestic mission.

He said the work the agency did after hurricanes Rita and Katrina was the best he'd seen an intelligence agency do in his 42 years in the spy business.

"This was kind of a direct payback to the taxpayers for the investment made in this agency over the years, even though in its original design it was intended for foreign intelligence purposes," Clapper said in a Thursday interview with The Associated Press.

Yes, thanks for reminding me that I'm actually paying the government to spy on me.

Geospatial intelligence is the science of combining imagery, such as satellite pictures, to physically depict features or activities happening anywhere on the planet. A part of the Defense Department, the NGA usually operates unnoticed to provide information on nuclear sites, terror camps, troop movements or natural disasters.

Spy agencies historically avoided domestic operations out of concern for Pentagon regulations and Reagan-era executive order, known as 12333, that restricted intelligence collection on American citizens and companies. Its budget, like all intelligence agencies, is classified.

On Clapper's watch of the last five years, his agency has found ways to expand its mission to help prepare security at Super Bowls and political conventions or deal with natural disasters, such as hurricanes and forest fires.

With help, the agency can also zoom in. Its officials cooperate with private groups, such as hotel security, to get access to footage of a lobby or ballroom. That video can then be linked with mapping and graphical data to help secure events or take action, if a hostage situation or other catastrophe happens.

Privacy advocates wonder how much the agency picks up — and stores. Many are increasingly skeptical of intelligence agencies with recent revelations about the Bush administration's surveillance on phone calls and e-mails.

Among the government's most closely guarded secrets, the quality of pictures NGA receives from classified satellites is believed to far exceed the one-meter resolution available commercially. That means they can take a satellite "snapshot" from high above the atmosphere that is crisply detailed down to one meter level, which is 3.3 feet.

So what is order 12333, and, does it really matter when these guys routinely ignore the law? Probably not worth the time to research it, eh?