Friday, June 30, 2006

Governor’s Webchat, Wednesday July 5, 7pm - 8pm
Cool idea.

Governor Granholm will be live on the campaign blog on Wednesday, July 5 from 7pm - 8pm. The campaign is inviting supporters to join the discussion and ask questions. Please spread the word, and feel free to submit questions or comments in advance right here.

Racking my addled brain- here is what I have come up with so far-

If I donate $50 dollars to your campaign, will you lock the Legislature in chambers and turn a fire hose on them? And, if this is possible, will someone please film it for me? Is there money in the General Fund to replace the carpet?

If a train left Detroit going 40 miles an hour, and another train left Grand Rapids going 35 miles an hour, how long would it take DeVos to blame you for the condition of the tracks?

Arm wrestling: Who wins, you or Betsy?

Bottom of the 7th, tying run at third, 1 out. Do you:

A.) Trade Phil Nevin for someone with some actual talent?
B.) Fire Dusty Baker on the spot?
C.) Punt?

Oh, wait, that question was for Rod Blagojevich. Never mind.

I'll keep working on it.

The questions I'd really like to ask would never make it past the politician veneer. You wonder what's really going on in their heads, and you realize that they can never, ever tell you, at least not while they are in office.
Meddlesome Kids: Did uncertainty over business tax climate cost us Honda?

I don't have time to source all of this right now. Got things I have to do. And I'm exhausted from spending the day in Chicago yesterday (more on that later).

Still, all the ink on DeVos needling Granholm on the Honda deal is bugging me this morning, and I wanted to throw this out there. (because, after all, I am a bomb thrower at heart. You should realize that by now.)

I can't help but think that our tax situation being up in the air, courtesy of DeVos and the foot-dragging Republicans in the legislature, might have had something to do with Honda's decision. Maybe not a lot- it seems they were set on Ohio or Indiana no matter what we did. Many factors went into their decision, I'm sure.

In any event, it was a missed opportunity to punch back on SBT and the DeVos/Patterson team messing up our tax affairs for political purposes. DeVos' tampering with the SBT and the legislature's refusal to deal with it is a prime target. If he is going to make direct criticisms, perhaps it is time for us to do so also.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

New state program to provide health care to 200,000 women
WTG, Jennifer. Common sense solutions that actually help people live better lives and saves us money at the same time. That's leadership.

DETROIT (AP) — A new state program, which will kick off this weekend, is geared toward providing health care to about 200,000 low-income women throughout the state.

The program, called "Plan First," is under the Michigan Department of Community Health and will provide coverage to women ages 19 to 44 who otherwise would not have medical coverage for these services.

"Investing in more preventive health care for women will help reduce health care costs," said Gov. Jennifer Granholm in a statement, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Enrollment in the plan begins Saturday for all Michigan women living at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level who meet Medicaid eligibility.

Granholm also said if the state can reduce the number of unintended pregnancies by only 10 percent, it would save the state more than $27 million in Medicare expenditures annually.

And a healthy society is a productive society, something that the money-grubbing Republicans don't seem to understand. Why they don't see that is beyond me.
House GOP to focus on abortion, guns
Prime example of why I've tried to tune out Washington. Republicans spend their time appealing to their fringe base, trolling for campaign ads, and distracting people from their failure to lead on the issues of importance.

Why do we continue to fall for it?

WASHINGTON - House Republicans intend to hold votes this summer and fall touching on abortion, guns, religion and other priority issues for social conservatives, part of an attempt to improve the party's prospects in the midterm elections.

The "American Values Agenda" also includes a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage — which already has failed in the Senate — a prohibition on human cloning and possibly votes on several popular tax cuts.

Here is a page that shows you the latest polls on America's priorities- and, well, human cloning didn't make the list. It seems the top concerns are the war, the economy, and rising energy costs. The "Values Agenda" falls towards the bottom of the pack, but that won't stop Denny from launching the "Weapons of Mass Distraction"-

"Radical courts have attempted to gut our religious freedom and redefine the value system on which America was built. We hope to restore some of those basic values through passing this legislative agenda and renewing our country's commitment to faith, freedom and life," Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said Tuesday.

Back to the Big Three- Guns, God and Gays. Let's start by repealing the law on gun locks! Yes! That is the burning issue that keeps us all awake at night! Why, that will solve everything! I feel so much better now.

It seems the Pubs couldn't even drag themselves to protect the words "under God" in the Pledge, though. Maybe the "agenda" is ringing hollow with some of them, too.

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans failed Wednesday to advance a bill protecting the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. Only a day earlier, the GOP had placed the measure on its "American Values Agenda" in hopes of bolstering the party's prospects in the fall election.

But Republicans could not muster a simple majority on the issue in a committee where they outnumber Democrats by six.

The legislation tries to strip federal courts of jurisdiction over cases challenging the pledge. It responds to a federal appeals court ruling in 2002 that the pledge is unconstitutional because it contains the words "under God." A district court judge made a similar ruling last fall, citing the appeals court precedent.

Because nothing says "freedom" like stripping the courts of their power.

We do have some relief for a group of Americans that has suffered from terrible oppression over the years. Finally, there is justice.

House Republicans, who have the ability to dictate the floor schedule, got a head start on their agenda during the day, winning approval of legislation designed to guarantee members of condominium associations or similar groups the right to display the American flag. The measure cleared with no dissent.

Condo owners everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief this morning. To hell with the heat bills, those didn't really matter, now, did they? You can just wrap yourself up with that flag when you take it down at night.

Democrats are trying to bring light to some real issues- but I fear the media, which always goes for the lowest common denominator of sensationalism, will ignore them. That is just fine with the Pubs- why, it's almost like they planned it that way. Somewhere, Karl Rove is smiling.

Still, political strategists argue that by bringing controversial issues to a vote, one party can broadly emphasize differences with the other on an issue such as abortion, and increase the determination of its own supporters to go to the polls. Several GOP aides, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Republicans were hoping to increase voter intensity among conservatives.

At the same time, a vote on a controversial issue can occasionally present individual lawmakers in difficult races with a politically tough choice.

Ask Debbie Stabenow, who is getting raked over the coals from the left for her vote on flag burning- I didn't like her vote at all, but I understand why she did it. Still, it has left the door open for the Young Turks to play "Whack a Democrat" once again, and I'm so tired of the negativity. It's no wonder we can't seem to muster up any support. These guys are getting to be a real drag- and I don't feel like fighting them anymore. I spent five years on a bipartisan board arguing with people, and it just gets so tiring after awhile. (and, damnit Marybeth, if I ever needed you, I need you now. You were the master at this. God I miss you so much.)

The Republicans yell at the Democrats, we yell at the Democrats, and it's no wonder they act like a bunch of abused dogs. Yes, everyone has the right to bitch, Dems deserve it sometimes (probably most of the time) - BUT - we keep falling for these same tricks over and over again. I'm frustrated, but most of all, I'm bored. Always on defense. I want to play offense.

I feel like it's time to unite, time to stand up and call the Republicans out on their lack of attention to the things that really matter- and we need to do it vociferously. Their failures on the big issues are glaring. Let's make it a priority to point that out.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Taking a Break:

Bonus baby Cameron Maybin.

Staring at this computer way too much lately- must go outside now. You guys be good while I'm gone- don't start the revolution without me!
"Cheers and leers" for Governor in Greenville
Speaking of the lazy media and the English language... did you really mean to use the word "leers" here, 13? Really? Am I going to have to send a dictionary to Keith Baldi?

Since they have left this up for a day now, I must assume that, yes, that is what they meant. Funny, his story doesn't say anything about that. While I don't doubt that she received some "leers" because some people can't get past the "she's a hottie" issue (it's a blessing and a curse at the same time), I think what Keith really meant was "jeers".

Keith didn't even address the "jeers", so we have to turn to the GR Press for the complete story. Turns out the jeers were few, and the applause was abundant.

GREENVILLE -- Gov. Jennifer Granholm drew some criticism and plenty of applause Sunday when she met with about 1,600 former Electrolux workers for lunch and small talk at Klackle Orchard's pavilion in Greenville.

Most of those at the picnic, a final farewell for United Auto Workers members at the former appliance plant, thanked Granholm for her efforts to save the company's 2,700 jobs. But a small group of about 10 people booed her, yelling "go home."

Wonder if those UAW boys realize how tenuous their position really is. Even in progressive circles, there really isn't a lot of love for the UAW. They have an image problem, and stuff like this doesn't help. Thankfully, one of their leaders set them straight.

Talking from the podium, Dan Pellow, bargaining chairman for UAW Local 137, defended the governor, who he said fought with union leaders in negotiations with Electrolux.

"It was great to have somebody who cared," he told fellow union members. "This lady cares about Michigan. She's a friend to all of us"

Many agreed.

Gary White, 55, worked for Electrolux for 32 years before the plant closed in March. He has not found another job.

"Others, they just give you a lot of lip (service). She's shown all along she wants to do things right for the state," he said.

Theresa Bozung, 44, said the critics were just plain rude.

"That was uncalled for," she said of the calls for Granholm to leave. "She's had a lot of work made out for her. It can't all be done in one night."

Granholm dismissed her critics, saying many employees didn't recognize efforts to keep Electrolux in town or the effects trade agreements can have in the local economy.

I think most people understand what is happening, but apparently the TV news isn't going to tell us the story. I'm getting to the point where I just listen to music and mute the television- that way I avoid all the DeVos ads AND the bad reporting.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Granholm For Governor: Fight Back! Put Michigan First!
Oooo... so smart. Position as the underdog in the face of the Republican money juggernaut. ('cause, basically, it's true)

They had me at the first question- why, it's almost like these guys are reading my mind! Scary place, isn't it?

Q: What’s at stake in this election?

A: The future of our state is at stake and the future of the nation is at stake. In Michigan, Governor Granholm has been working to beat back Republican efforts to impose their conservative agenda on Michigan’s citizens.

Love that sentence.
In fact, since 2003, Governor Granholm has vetoed 105 bills sent to her desk by the Republican Legislature.

Need specifics on this. Might have to smack some people over the head with them. I remember a few choice ones... but I need more links. Don't make me Google, dammit!
Without a Democrat in the Governor’s Office, our schools, our environment, our jobs and our families would all be at risk.

Without Granholm, this state would be wingnut heaven by now. Mondo tax cuts for the rich and a plastic Jesus on every street corner. I don't even want to think about it. They would probably have people like me breaking rocks up at the punk prison in Baldwin.
But the future of America is at risk, too. If Democrats want to elect a Democratic president in 2008, we need to keep Michigan blue. It’s clear that Republicans view this state as a key to another eight years in the White House.

No time to worry about America now. Let's save Michigan first, just like you said. Then we can put a big 'ol fence at the border if things go bad elsewhere. Maybe Canada will take us in.
Michigan has Republicans in control at every level including Attorney General, Secretary of State, both houses of the Legislature and at the Supreme Court.

And they probably were all funded by the DeVos clan and dance like puppets on strings whenever Betsy snaps her fingers.
Governor Granholm is our last line of defense.

I have no doubt about that.
Daily Kos: Meet the People-Powered Movement
This is the phenomenal georgia10. If you read one piece about the "netroots", read this one.

She is 23. She is prepping for the bar. And she makes me look like I barely speak English.

For years, the press has focused with laser-like precision on the Republican base. After the 2004 election, the media's focus on the Republican base reached a nauseating fever pitch as we were subjected to fawning coverage of the "political" power of Evangelical Christians; we saw networks hire "faith and values" correspondents," and we saw them hire commentators straight out of the conservative movement. Liberal voters? They were barely mentioned, let alone mentioned as a cohesive and influential body within the party itself.

But something has happened lately. For various reasons, the media have ceased lovingly gazing into the navel of the Republican Party. They have lifted up their heads, tilted them slightly to the left, only to see a massive sea of people that previously existed only in their blind spot.

Yes, the Democratic Party does have a base.

And boy, judging from the reaction from some quarters of the press, it was like they stumbled upon a New World filled with an undiscovered indigenous people. Who are these members of the "netroots"? How do they interact? What are their goals? Who is their leader? Do they light bonfires and eat their young?

We saw it as the media descended upon YearlyKos, armed with cameras and notepads ready to "observe" this strange phenomenon, this corporeal gathering of the newly discovered Democratic base, as if they were filming a Discovery Channel documentary. For quite a while, their coverage of us focused not so much on us as much as on our reaction to things--such as our reaction to Colbert's speech.

We have always been here, of course. The only difference is that the internet has allowed us to meet in a 21st century public square of sorts. And yeah, like people do when they get together for change, we (gasp!) organize and we (holy shit!) debate strategy. We argue. We support each other. We raise money. We spend money. We make miracles happen, and we make mistakes. And, unlike the Republican base, we do this all publicly. Our debate is online, naked and raw. Millions attend our town hall meetings, and each participant speaks out in her own unique (and yeah, usually anonymous) voice.

I suppose it's only natural that when presented with something so unconventional, the media have tried to understand it in conventional terms. The fundamental flaw in the media's discovery of the Democratic base though is that they presume that the same traits they have observed in the Republican base apply equally to us as well. Thus, we have seen the effort to shove our movement into the jello-mold form of the Republican grassroots movement that has dominated politics thus far.

The Republican grassroots, of course, are characterized by a lemming-like herd which is purely reactionary. There exists a hierarchy on the right, characterized at the bottom by a scared shitless base huddled together in a FOX-induced stupor, awaiting the clarion call of one hate-mongerer after the other, whether it be blubbering idiocies of one Jerry Falwell, or the logically-impaired tirades of one Rush Limbaugh, or the shrill and maniacal rants of one Ann Coulter. What should we fear today? The gays or the Hispanics? The Muslims or the abortion doctors? Ted Kennedy or Jane Fonda? The New York Times or The New York Times? Theirs is a world filled with proud "Dittoheads" who take the word of those with the loudest and most obnoxious voices as Gospel.

That formula, as the media will eventually come to realize as it familiarizes itself with the new Democratic base, simply doesn't work on this side of the aisle. Square peg, meet round hole.

Let the media search for a leader. Heck, if they find one, can they let me know? Because I along with 90,000 or so of my friends have been thirsty for some real leadership. But a leader of this people-powered movement?

Try as they might, they won't be able to find much of a hierarchy on our side of the aisle.

It is, after all, a "people-powered movement," and the press has yet to fully comprehend the implications of that phrase. Where the Republican grassroots are pulled toward a goal by specific (and at times, self-appointed) "leaders," the netroots push towards their goals by their own volition and passion for change.

The form of our movement isn't a spear, with a single trajectory and a single tip inflicting a political blow. It is a tidal wave, stretching both left and right as far as the eye can see. It is composed of millions of drops of individuality riding currents of change, building stronger and stronger in the storm, dead-set on crashing against the shore.

Those who don't understand the nature of our movement will realize our force soon enough. Those who do understand us and our potential are those who are most vocally trying to still the political waters. It's futile, really.

Let some gaze upon us, mesmerized with curiosity. Let others cast their verbal pebbles at the roaring waters of our movement. It's all irrelevant. We existed before they took notice of us, and we'll exist long after their comments about us are forgotten.

In the meantime, we push forward. All of us--a whole movement greater than the sum of its parts, powered by ordinary people who are pursing an extraordinary concept of change.

The only quibble I have about this is that people keep throwing around the word "base" like this is the be-all end-all of the Democratic Party. It is not.

Not yet.

OK, enought meta. We are getting a bit enamored with ourselves, too. Not cool.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

To The Point: Jennifer Granholm
Watch Jennifer run circles around Rick Albin. I guess one way to keep him quiet is to take the microphone out of his hand.

I was left with one question- If the Legislature succeeds in eliminating the SBT, it has been said that our bond rating will tank. If that happens, what happens to all those Jobs Today plans that are now funded on our good credit?

Will the elimination of the SBT without a replacement cost us jobs?

Something to think about, but actually this stuff- bonds, taxes, credit ratings, federal funding, yada yada yada, starts getting over my head very fast, and I probably wouldn't understand the explanation even if I heard it. I doubt many people do.

The difference between her and DeVos is night and day. Competence vs. platitudes. If you watch these shows back to back, you will see what I mean. She should be able to wipe the floor with him in a debate.
Can Daily Kos Control Dems?

It's like herding cats at Kos. While there are factions that band together and get things done and money raised, and that power is growing (especially with all the media attention lately), people don't seem to understand that there are more than 90,000 registered users- and that means 90,000 different opinions and all that entails.

It's like one big, on-going bar conversation. Complete with the occasional brawl.

Fact: Markos is not a "kingpin". He has no control over these people- he might suggest things, but ultimately the mob will decide if he is right or not. Anyone who has witnessed the "pie fights" that go on will see that there are actually a bunch of people who don't even like Markos.

Fact: Daily Kos is not "left", it's actually very centrist. The "left" fled from there and calls us "sellouts". The real left hates Daily Kos and screams "DLC!" all the time...

A poster named Bob Johnson summed it up perfectly. This cat can write.

... but the very thing Markos has been both lauded for and derided for here -- having a laissez-faire attitude in terms of controlling what gets posted in the diaries -- undercuts the very notion that this place = Markos.

Besides, I and many others here took him to task recently for being too seemingly cozy with Warner.

These writers are ignorant. So ignorant, in fact, that they don't give folks here credit for being independent thinkers.

Here's a simple exercise for these lazy bastards... Review the archives of this site from the last Dem presidential primary season.

Even though Markos worked for Dean (fully disclosed), this place was a hotbed of vicious battles over candidates.

Here's what the uninformed media thinks:

Markos says, "Jump!" and we all shout, "How high?"

Here's what happens in reality:

Markos says, "I suggest that we jump," and about three thousand voices shout, "Fuck you!" and another three thousand voices shout, "Should we jump now or later?" and three thousand more voices shout, "Is jumping the right thing? What about walking fast, instead?" And so on.

So, note to the media: get off your dead asses and do some real reporting for a change. Not only on this place, but also on the corrupt, greedy criminals currently in charge of our government.


So go read the Newsweek article if you wish, but remember they have totally missed the point on what is going on here at Kos, and at other blogs, too.

This is not something anyone can control. This is the American people, the very diverse Democratic voice, all shouting at once, and it's impossible to shut them up or even get them moving in the same direction sometimes. We are not the lock-step right. What we have to figure out how to make that a strength, instead of the weakness that the right claims it is. It requires a total change in framing; embracing diversity as opposed to creating division.

There is a war looming... if Hillary gets nominated- Daily Kos blows up. You are going to see online fireworks like you have never seen before. My guess is- if they actually succeed in taking out Lieberman, she cozies up to the "blogosphere". If she's smart. And I think she is.

It's a brave new world, kids. Let's get ready to rumble.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Cubs' Derrek Lee hopes to return on Monday
FINALLY some good Cubs news.

DES MOINES, Iowa - The most miserable stretch of Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee's career appears to be coming to an end.

Lee, who has been sidelined since fracturing his right wrist on April 19, is scheduled to play for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs on Saturday and Sunday. If Lee's wrist holds up, Chicago is expected to activate him in time for Monday night's game against Milwaukee at Wrigley Field.

"I want to be in Wrigley on Monday. I just want to come and see some pitches and take some full swings with the adrenaline flowing and make sure I'm ready. But I feel like I am," Lee said. "I think Monday I'll be in Wrigley."


Here's a picture of Derrek I took last year-

New Granholm campaign website coming Monday
How very cool. Can't wait to see it, especially the "promote her record" part. All of my old links to news stories are dead- I need links to facts that I can whip out on these people when the situation warrants.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — When it comes to campaigning for governor these days, it's all about the Internet.

On Monday, Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm's campaign plans to unveil a new Web site that gives her grass-roots supporters ways to promote her record and defend her against attacks through letters to the editor, house parties and other tactics.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm starting to shoot at everything that moves out here- including other Democrats and liberals. I don't like that feeling.

The new Web site's slogan is "Fight Back! Put Michigan First." It builds on the theme in ads the Michigan Democratic Party is running promoting the governor's jobs plan.

Lt. Gov. John Cherry said the new Web site will help the campaign communicate directly with supporters.

"To win elections, you have to campaign on a person-to-person basis," he said. "Now the relationship can be much more direct. ... It allows for a great deal of two-way communication with people right in their neighborhoods."

Right in their own homes, actually. Armchair activism for shy people like me.

I also think they have figured out that the Internet is a cash cow, too. So easy to just click a button and send $$.

Granholm campaign manager Howard Edelson said the constant stream of television ads the DeVos campaign has run since mid-February has caused many Democrats to call the Granholm campaign asking what they can do to help.

"One of the ways we'll be able to compete with that (the ads) is people," he said. "I think people fundamentally understand that we're going to be outspent."


The gubernatorial candidates and the parties also are using the Web to raise money.

Edelson said the Granholm campaign has raised $50,000 to $100,000 so far from donors over the Internet.

McNeilly declined to say how much the DeVos campaign has raised in total through Internet donations, but he noted the campaign reported at the end of 2005 that it had raised more than $92,000 from those giving over the Web.

One misconception that people have about the Internet and blogs is that it is just a bunch of kids and radicals typing out their angry missives. (who, me?) If you look at the demographics at Kos, you will find it's actually a bunch of middle-aged professional people that have disposable income. They can raise bucks in a heartbeat.

BUT- I hope everyone realizes that we are still a small part of the "base", and most folks don't go to the Internet to look at political sites. It's growing, to be sure, but we aren't there yet.

I can see a day when direct mail will be a thing of the past, though. There still is a need for it now (put bumperstickers in those mailings, someone!)- but eventually it will be gone. We will all be on the 'net.
DeVos says wealth shouldn't be issue
He's right. It shouldn't. But what is an issue is how you acquired the wealth, and what you intend to do with it. Brewer gets it right-

"The fact that he is rich is irrelevant," said Mark Brewer, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party. "It's what he's done with the money that's important. He's used his money to advance political causes that we think have been harmful to the people of Michigan."

And now Dickie wants to buy himself a political office. That is the issue. Any other person of Dick's caliber (no experience, no real vision or plan, and the word that keeps coming up is "vapid") would have been laughed out the race.

Click the link for a fabulous picture of Dick's spread out in Ada. Gotta sell a lotta soap (or motivational tapes) to build something like that.

Ahh, Forest Hills. I couldn't wait to get the hell out of there. I'd much rather live in the city, odd as that may sound.

This is where it all turns very personal to me. Dick is 10 years older than I am. We went to the same schools, roamed the same halls, had the some of the same teachers, sang in the same choir. (Was Dick in the Honors Ensemble? I was. Ha. Take that, Dick.)

I had spent a few years in the city schools before I moved out to lily-white Ada, so I had a basis for comparison. I knew the city kids, I knew poor. Actually, I owe a lot of my leftist views to growing up in Forest Hills- so maybe I should say "thanks" to people like Dick. Ever see "The Breakfast Club"? That was my era. And that's exactly what it was like. A school populated with a bunch of over- privileged brats. All they cared about was money. They had no concept of misfortune, no concept of what it was like to struggle. They had zero compassion for others, and they thought that was a good thing.

One anecdotal story that kind of wraps up the mentality of the place- one day I was sitting in Math, and this kid looked straight at our teacher and said-

"My Dad can buy and sell you. How does that make you feel?"

And then he laughed.

I will never forget the look on that teacher's face. It was a mixture of sorrow and anger that was heartbreaking.

That was Forest Hills Central in a nutshell. I thought, "If this is success, I want no part of it". So I hung with the stoners and gave up on the idea of college. Now there is a lot more to it than that, of course. There were some cool kids, too. I'm painting with a real broad brush- but this was the general atmosphere.

They had no soul.

Should Dick DeVos have to move his family into the ranch-style Michigan governor's residence in south Lansing next January, the new digs would clearly be a comedown.

And so would the $177,000 annual paycheck.

While the multimillionaire candidate has declined to reveal his tax returns or his net worth, his trio of Michigan homes valued at about $7 million signal that he's probably the wealthiest man ever to run for governor of this state.

He's the son of Richard DeVos, a co-founder of Amway, who with a $3.4 billion net worth is the 65th richest man in the country -- just behind "Star Wars" creator George Lucas, according to Forbes magazine.

The elder DeVos is the second-wealthiest man in Michigan, second only to William Davidson, owner of Guardian Industries, the Detroit Pistons and The Palace of Auburn Hills.

There can be little doubt that Dick DeVos and his family have been successful. Property tax records show candidate DeVos' main home in Ada Township near Grand Rapids, a multistory brick house with a gabled roof set off from neighbors by a gated fence is valued at $2.6 million.

And the house is in Betsy's name, too. That struck me as strange. But what do I know about the tax games of the uber-wealthy.

The sprawling 16,000-square-foot mansion sits on 16.8 acres of rolling, wooded land near the Thornapple River. By contrast, the Michigan governor's residence has 6,000 square feet of living space along the Grand River on the south side of Lansing.

Amenities at the DeVos homestead include an indoor underground swimming pool, a tennis court with a $22,000 lighting system, a wine room, a billiards room, seven fireplaces, a Jacuzzi, eight bathrooms, five bedrooms and a four-car garage connected to the main house by a covered walkway.

I cannot wrap my mind around this kind of wealth. I think I'd be incredibly uncomfortable with so much space and stuff.

I would love to give it all away though. That would be fun.

One disturbing note: this article says that Dick has invested in the Whitecaps. Damn. Hate to think my money is going to him in any way, shape, or form- so I guess I just won't think about it. ;-)

Something tells me Dick wouldn't live in Lansing- he would hop in the 'copter and commute. If he bothered to show up at all.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Granholm veto keeps helmets on motorcyclists
Too bad Craig. Guess you'll have to go out of state to smack your head against the pavement at a high rate of speed.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Friday vetoed a bill that would have allowed adult motorcyclists to ride without helmets.

Granholm said repealing the mandatory helmet law, which dates back to the 1960s, doesn't make sense.

"The social and economic costs of this legislation simply are too high," Granholm wrote in her veto letter to lawmakers.

The veto disappoints American Bikers Aiming Toward Education of Michigan. The group had successfully urged both the House and Senate to pass the bill, getting the mandatory helmet repeal as close to final approval as it has ever been.

ABATE said Granholm succumbed to false claims and insurance industry pressure.

"Her veto isn't about safety but about money," ABATE legislative director Jim Rhoades said in a statement.

Rhoades said the group would hold Granholm accountable for her veto in the November election and will continue to advance its freedom-of-choice and safety education efforts.

Down in Illinois, guys would fly by me on the highway doing better than 100 without a helmet on- it's one of the scariest things you'll ever see in your life. Not being a motorcyclist, I guess I just don't understand the appeal...
I'm Still Schroeder:

You are Schroeder!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

I've been digging back through the archives of this blog and ran across this little quiz. Decided to take it again, and I got the same result.

The description fits me really well- except I play the guitar.

Lately, people have asked, "Who are you?" and "What do you do?".

I honestly don't know how to answer that anymore. Everything that I was, everything that I wanted to be, and the people I wanted to be with- all gone now. It's a long story, and I won't bore you with it. I thought about writing up a little bio, but, why bother? In a state with 10 million or so people, we all have our story, we all have our opinions. I'm just one out of the many.

I guess the question today is- "Who am I going to be?"

Well, I'll always be Schroeder. As far as the rest of it- I'm a bit of a lost soul right now. If I figure it out, I will tell you. OK? OK!

One of these quizzes said that I was Joe Stalin, too, so make of that what you will... ;-)
Granholm on mass transit
The GR media made a huge deal out this story back when she vetoed the bill that excluded Detroit from the funding. Rick Albin and the GR Press went a bit nuts trying to point the finger at her- I went a bit nuts back at them and actually got a LTE printed in the Press. Follow the links for all the details if you are so inclined.

Fast forward to June- here she is, the deal went through, we got our pork, and where is the media? Small story on 13. Rick Albin didn't cover it at all. We will see what the Press does later today.

But here you go Grand Rapids- you got your money. Good luck trying to tear up East Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids - Governor Granholm came to Grand Rapids Thursday to promote public transportation.

She held a ceremonial bill signing ceremony at the Rapid's central bus station.

The bill extends the time transit agencies can tax citizens from 5 to 25 years.

That allows agencies to take advantage of federal funds for long term projects like light rail systems.

Rep. Kooiman says, “So they can continue to study and design a fixed guide way system in Kent County that will go a long way towards improving our mass transit system here.”

Now you might understand why I jump on Albin so much. He does this sensationalist bullshit (he's Ted Baxter, without the humor) back in January, and then he won't give credit when credit is due in June.

Perhaps the Press would like to write a big Sunday editorial on how wrong they were, too. Let's throw in the 131 extension on top of it, yet another issue they screamed their heads off about.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm said clamoring from West Michigan persuaded her to take the U.S. 131 improvement project in St. Joseph County off the shelf and fund it.

Granholm told the Kalamazoo Gazette Thursday that "loud voices" from the region trumped the Michigan Department of Transportation's recommendation to defer a project that includes a U.S. 131 bypass around Constantine and eventual improvements from the Indiana line to north of Three Rivers.

"I sent the new MDOT director down (to St. Joseph County) and told him, `Look at the situation for yourself,' when we were hearing so much from people," Granholm said during a meeting with Gazette editors and reporters.

Granholm said construction won't begin this year on a westerly bypass around Constantine, but she said a commitment to accelerating a statewide, 10-year infrastructure program to take place over three years will push along the project's design phase. She also reiterated the state's commitment to planning and land purchases that will allow for upgrading the two-lane highway to four lanes "as the need dictates."

Everyone happy now? Can't tell by the news.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Politicians all over my Inbox...

Thought I'd put in a pitch for Debbie and Carl here-

Stabenow has a new campaign website. Very nice job- although the green is a little bright for me. Love the rotating pictures-

Carl Levin also has a new site, separate from his regular site. Sounds like he might get some conversation going.

New Granholm ad out from the MDP- color is so much better than the black & white. Nice shots, whoever took them. Check it out.

Mark Brewer makes it sound like the DeVos "plan" should have come with a box of crayons.

LANSING-Today Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer responded to the release of Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos' supposed "plan," a sixty-five page book that contains twenty-six pages of pictures, graphs and filler. The plan itself doesn't start until page 18 and lacks specifics, and details. Everything DeVos does propose is out of the same Republican playbook as President Bush and former Governor John Engler.

"Dick DeVos did what any lazy student who waits until the last minute to write a paper; he uses large font, wide margins and pictures to inflate the volume of his supposed plan," commented Brewer. "His so-called action steps are laughable and leave the reader baffled on what the 'action' is and how it will be executed. Action steps such as 'Work with agricultural producers to solve problems' or 'Hit the ground running – creating jobs from day one' say nothing and do nothing. Michigan voters should do what any teacher would do when reading a report of this quality, give this 'plan' an 'F'."

Heh. You guys think I'm mean...

And BTW, Dick already has an ad out touting this "plan". Looks like it was done on the fly, uses a lot of old shots previously used in other commercials. Something dawned on me- he was just on "To The Point" last week and didn't say a word about this. If this was such a wonderful, thought-out plan that is going to change our economy, wouldn't you take the free air time to promote it? Especially in your hometown?

Wouldn't you?

Tells me that even Dick doesn't believe in what he is saying.
Senate defeats Democrats minimum wage increase
Odd title. Should be "Senate shafts the working poor again" or something along that line.

Nice try Ted.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Wednesday defeated a proposal pushed by Democrats to raise the federal minimum wage in increments from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour by January 1, 2009.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, unsuccessfully tried to attach the proposal raising the wage for the first time since 1997 to a defense authorization bill that is expected to be passed by the Senate soon.

While a majority of the Senate, 52 senators, backed the move to increase the minimum wage, it failed to win the 60 votes needed for passage under a procedural agreement worked out earlier.

Operating under those same rules, the Senate was expected to also defeat a Republican-backed amendment that would raise the minimum wage in two steps to $6.25. But that measure also would change some work rules, drawing Democratic opposition.

House Democrats, like their Senate counterparts, are pushing a $2.10-per-hour minimum wage increase. Last week, the House Appropriations Committee voted to include the wage hike in a fiscal 2007 labor and health spending bill.

House Republican leaders, who oppose raising the minimum wage, have put that bill on a backburner because of the amendment.

House Republicans have MUCH better things to do, such as - you guessed it- an emergency meeting to try to rush through more tax cuts for the rich.

Rep. Louise Slaughter brings us this-

The House Republican leadership scurried up to the Rules Committee hearing room for an EMERGENCY meeting they convened with 5 minutes notice. Literally.

Wonder where the fire was? Well the topic Republicans chose for EMERGENCY consideration ... H.R. 5638, the Republican Estate Tax Relief bill, designed to further reduce the estate-tax after the year 2011. Yes, estate-tax reduction, which would benefit less than 1% of the population, was more important to this Republican Leadership than passing a minimum wage increase, extending the voting rights act, or having a real, substantive debate on the war in Iraq.

Follow the link above for some facts on the estate tax repeal. Follow this link to find out who is behind it-

The multimillion-dollar lobbying effort to repeal the federal estate tax has been aggressively led by 18 super-wealthy families, according to a report released today by Public Citizen and United for a Fair Economy at a press conference in Washington, D.C. The report details for the first time the vast money, influence and deceptive marketing techniques behind the rhetoric in the campaign to repeal the tax.

It reveals how 18 families worth a total of $185.5 billion have financed and coordinated a 10-year effort to repeal the estate tax, a move that would collectively net them a windfall of $71.6 billion.


The stakes of the campaign are great, not only for the super-wealthy families, but for the public. If the families’ repeal bid succeeds, it will cost the U.S. Treasury a trillion dollars in the first decade – roughly what it would cost to provide health insurance for every uninsured person in the United States.

Yes, the DeVos family is one of the 18. Wipe that look of shock off your face.
Sikkema, Granholm debate scholarship plan
Say wha...?

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Republican Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema said Wednesday he would consider approving Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm's plan to give college students $4,000 scholarships if she would agree to a limit on welfare benefits and a change in health care plans for teachers.

Not seeing the upside here, Ken. Are you really suggesting trading one group of children for another? Are the Pubs going to campaign on blocking money for college students?

I am utterly confused now.

Granholm isn't interested in linking the three issues, spokeswoman Liz Boyd said.

Sikkema, of Wyoming, proposed trying to accomplish the three initiatives in response to Granholm's request that the state Legislature endorse her revamped Michigan Merit Award scholarship plan before lawmakers leave for their summer break in a week or so.


Boyd called the Sikkema proposal a political ploy he knew the governor wouldn't accept.

"They should not be holding college tuition scholarships hostage for political maneuvering," she said.

Strange maneuvering at that. Next week should be fun.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

DeVos presents economic plan for tax, spending cuts
"And when you look long into the abyss, the abyss also looks back at you." - Nietzsche

Why is it every time I hear Dick speak, or read about his "plans", I feel like I'm looking into the abyss?

Run! Save yourselves!

Dick DeVos, businessman and Republican candidate for governor, unveiled a sweeping, if somewhat unspecific, plan for job creation Wednesday, calling for a mix of tax cuts, reduced government spending and entrepreneurial dynamism to rouse the state from its economic doldrums.

DeVos plan, dubbed "The Michigan Turnaround Plan: Version 2.0," included many ideas he has endorsed earlier, like elimination of the state Single Business Tax and a 4-year time limit for welfare benefits.

Dick would cut off funding for 36,000 children. Every time they say "cut welfare"- they are generally talking about families with children. From the Free Press last December-

Boyd said a strict cutoff would jeopardize an estimated 36,000 children who are eligible for welfare but might lose it because their parents don't comply with the new rules. Public assistance is generally available to families with children, and not for single, able-bodied adults.

Still waiting for the "job creation" part of Dick's plan...

Along with many borrowed from traditional Republican playbooks, like curtailing health insurance costs in public schools, merit pay for teachers and tort liability for health care providers.

DeVos also proposed eliminating state income taxes for families earning $14,000 or less, cutting business equipment taxation and spending more on higher education and in public school classrooms.

The plan contains 134 "action steps" and comes after months of criticism from Democrats that DeVos was asking voters to turn out Gov. Jennifer Granholm but not presenting a credible alternative.

Still waiting for the "job creation" part of Dick's plan...

Among the innovations he suggested, was the creation of a "bureaucracy override" for the governor, cutting through red tape and getting government decisions made.

A "bureaucracy override" sounds a bit like "unitary executive power" to me, but, anyway... still waiting for the "job creation" part of Dick's plan...
He declined, however, to offer detailed ideas about how the hundreds of millions of dollars in cost savings his plan envisions could be achieved, and said he probably would not do so before the election in November.

Ah, Dick isn't going to tell us his plan. How convenient. For Dick.

Maybe the Free Press will divulge the "134 steps", but I have this feeling that it's more of the above. Lots of vague notions, looting of the treasury, and hurting the poor. You know, the "traditional Republican playbook". That will create lots of jobs, I'm sure.

This guy is a joke.
Judge spares life of Lewis the Cat
Bo is breathing a sigh of relief this morning. (for those who don't know, Bo is my elderly hyperthyroid cat who, "mood" issues. She even takes a swing at my ankles every once in awhile. I don't let her run loose to terrorize the neighborhood, but visitors will get a surprise sometimes)
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - A state judge spared the life of alleged neighbor-assaulter Lewis the cat on Tuesday, but ordered that he remain inside his owner's Fairfield home at all times.

"There are no exceptions. None," said Judge Patrick Carroll, who also granted accelerated rehabilitation to Lewis' owner, Ruth Cisero. That means her record will be expunged if she successfully completes two years of probation.

Cisero had faced a charge of reckless endangerment because neighbors complained that the cat's long claws and stealth have allowed it to attack at least a half-dozen people and ambush the Avon lady as she was getting out of her car.

Cisero had fought to keep Lewis alive and in Connecticut. She rejected a previous offer of accelerated rehabilitation if she agreed to euthanize Lewis.

Carroll said Lewis cannot leave the house, even if he gets out accidentally. He said the case is not about a cat, but about people having the right to live in safety in their neighborhoods.

The case drew national attention. Lewis has appeared in People magazine and his own page on the social networking site

But Cisero said Tuesday she would prefer to have never had the attention.

"I never thought it would come to this," she said. "It's been an absolute nightmare. It's ruined my life."

Long live Lewis. Inside.
State House passes bill limiting OT eligibility
Rushing to clean up the mess they made when they rushed this bill through last April.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- The state House passed legislation Tuesday that would keep some salespeople, nurses, truck drivers and others ineligible for mandatory overtime pay when Michigan's revamped minimum wage law kicks in.

The bill passed 57-49 along party lines, with Republicans supporting the bill and Democrats opposing it.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

The legislation, introduced last week, moved through a House committee and the full chamber in the same day. Supporters say the legislation is needed to make sure the same workers who do not qualify for mandatory overtime now will remain exempt when Michigan's new minimum wage law takes effect Oct. 1.

Several business representatives and workers who operate partly on flexible schedules or commissions testified in a House committee Tuesday that making more employees eligible for overtime could eventually hurt them. If forced to pay overtime, those businesses may lay off workers or cut back on hours, they said.

Always the threat of job elimination. Just another excuse to hold down wages. Ask for more money, we will cut your hours or cut your job.

Democrats weren't buying it.

Union representatives and Democrats said they are upset about the legislation because it was rushed through the House without proper negotiation and debate. Many Democrats who co-sponsored the bill voted against it Tuesday.

"In these tough economic times, overtime pay is how thousands of working men and women make ends meet so they can better care for their families," House Democratic Leader Dianne Byrum of Onondaga said in a statement. "Republicans should stop protecting the status quo and stand up for our working families instead."

Liz Boyd, a spokeswoman for Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, said the administration is "still assessing the impact" of the bill but does not "see a need for this legislation."

Funny thing is, the Republicans knew about this quirk last April when they pushed the original bill through. At that time, they chose to ignore it.
House Republicans were aware of the bill's impact on overtime -- business groups quietly cautioned them -- but they decided to pass it quickly and deal later with fallout, said GOP spokesman Matt Resch.

"We'll see what we need to do to address it," he said. "It all happened so quickly."

Obviously your wages and overtime aren't a big concern to Republicans. If they actually cared about workers, they would put a little more time and effort into their legislation- instead they ignore the problem they were warned about and then waste more time trying to cover their own ass.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Senators Debating Iraq Measure
No, the Senators are debating what they are going to use against their opponents in their campaign commercials this fall. It seems like that is all they have been doing lately, thus, I have been ignoring them.

I did want to highlight one particular item from today though.

Earlier today, Republicans defeated a Democratic proposal for an investigation into waste and fraud in military contracts. The proposal, made by Senator Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota, called for a panel like the one led by Harry Truman when he was a Senator, which uncovered many abuses in military spending during World War II. It failed by a 52-to-44 vote.

Mr. Dorgan said that military spending is the worst it has ever been "right now - right now! I think the American taxpayers are being fleeced."

He offered several anecdotes, including one about 25 tons of nails that he said had been buried in the sand simply because "someone ordered the wrong-sized nails," adding, "It doesn't matter - the American taxpayer is going to pay the bill."

The senator focused on Halliburton, the huge company once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, which has become a favorite target of Democrats alleging favoritism and waste in the awarding of Pentagon contracts in Iraq. But Mr. Dorgan said there was plenty of blame on both sides of the aisle. Supervision of military spending, he said, is "the one area where all of us have failed."

The vote followed party lines almost exactly, with Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island the only Republican to vote yes. No Democrats voted against the Dorgan amendment.

Let the fleecing continue.

Glad to see the Dems stick together on this one.
Progressive Patriots Fund - Go Vote for Granholm
Right now.

Senator Russ Feingold's Progressive Patriots Fund wants your help identifying a candidate for Governor to support in this year's elections. The candidate chosen by the grassroots as a Progressive Patriot will receive a $5000 contribution from the Progressive Patriots Fund. These candidates were selected by you through the candidate suggestion form, and we hope to do more of these events in the future.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Dying gunshot victim runs SUV off road
I heard this shooting Saturday night. This was just a few blocks from my house.

Things are getting scary in GR- 33 shootings already this year.

GRAND RAPIDS -- A man who was shot on the Northeast Side died Saturday night after he collapsed as he tried to drive away in his SUV, which contained six children and his girlfriend.

Mack Charles Brown, 24, who was shot at least twice, ran into a tree on East Fulton Street near Eastern Avenue after collapsing behind the wheel around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, police said. No one else was injured.

Before passing out, he said, "Hey, I think I've been shot," Grand Rapids Police Sgt. Terry McGee said.

Brown's girlfriend, 21-year-old Jasmine Johnson, said she had to climb behind the wheel to step on the brakes to prevent the out-of-control SUV from running into a concrete retaining wall on Fulton Street.

Brown was shot on Diamond Avenue NE, just north of Fulton.
Granholm reassures Democrats of victory
Who says she's not out campaigning?

Gov. Jennifer Granholm offered Washtenaw County Democrats several details on her plans to overcome an onslaught of early campaigning by her opponent to win re-election.

Her first order of business to the party faithful during a weekend appearance here was sending a message of reassurance.

"I want to start by saying, Democrats: Don't worry, we're gonna win,'' Granholm told the more than 250 people attending the Washtenaw County Democratic Party's annual fundraising dinner Saturday night at the Ypsilanti Marriott at Eagle Crest.

OK then. Still nervous.

"It has me on edge as a Democrat,'' said Bonnie Truhn of Milan. "Because people don't know what DeVos is about other than what they see on television, and he has unlimited funds. They'll have to do their research to know he's not all about jobs and education.''

Truhn, like many of those in a crowd that organizers declared a record draw for the event, hoped to hear a dynamic Granholm motivate them to work hard for her re-election.

The governor didn't disappoint them, sprinting up to the stage and slapping her hands on the podium as the crowd chanted "four more years!'' with vigor.

Barely a minute into her speech, Granholm ditched her navy blue blazer and rolled up her sleeve cuffs.

And out came the rock star.
Using the economy as a common thread, Granholm wove education, social services, health care and the environment into her speech, saying each will play a critical role in Michigan's rebound.

Jobs will be created with $1.1 billion in road and bridge construction across the state, along with investment in technology and future industries, such as alternative fuels and life sciences, she said. Job retraining and placement programs will become more aggressive and effective, and a combination of higher graduation standards and additional funds for public education will also make Michigan's workforce more attractive to businesses, Granholm said.

The crowd rose to applaud after Granholm announced that she will unveil a special message to legislators today, proposing a new $4,000 scholarship for every student in the state who completes two years of schooling after high school. The scholarship is not tied to standardized test scores and applies to community colleges and technical training schools as well, in an effort to make two years of post-secondary education the state standard.

I keep reading about these things- I hope the regular public gets a chance to see it, not just the folks that can afford fundraisers.

One person hit on something that I have said all along-

Leslie Rollins of Chelsea said Granholm's plans won't mean much without emphasizing the importance of getting more Democrats elected to the Legislature.

"People have been looking at the last four years and blaming her for all the problems and not the Republican-led Legislature, which blocks her on almost everything,'' Rollins said.

Blunt Parallels: DeVos and Medicaid

Although Dick DeVos has denied that he would cut Medicaid, it seems he still has some things in common with Matt Blunt and the Missouri GOP.

Here is Dick's original statement, as reported by the Detroit Free Press-

"Let's look at what Matt Blunt, who's the governor of Missouri did ... he said, 'We're simply going to end the program,' " DeVos said on Michigan Public Television's "Off the Record."

OK, let's take Dick up on that and look at what Matt Blunt really did. How could Missouri manage to throw 100,000 people off of Medicaid without some public uproar? According to an editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, it seems Mr. Blunt and the Missouri GOP didn't simply say "end the program". They justified it by saying this-

MISSOURI GOV. MATT BLUNT and the GOP Legislature say that one of the main reasons they are cutting Medicaid health benefits is that the program is rife with "waste, fraud and abuse." At best, this is misleading. At worse, it's a lie.

For every person who cheated to get Medicaid health coverage last year, the governor and Legislature are cutting off 400 people who didn't cheat. For every dollar lost to cheaters last year, the state is taking away $600 from honest, needy recipients.

Apparently they over-exaggerated the problem, and then went on to claim a need to "restructure" to stop the waste, fraud and abuse.

Still, GOP lawmakers repeat the misleading mantra: "waste, fraud and abuse." Writing last week in the Cape Girardeau Southeast Missourian, House Speaker Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, described the House Medicaid measure as "a bill to substantially restructure our Medicaid system in order to reduce spending by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse."

Mr. Blunt, in his State of the State speech, also relied on waste, fraud and abuse as a predicate for the cuts. "There are well-documented instances of individuals defrauding the Medicaid system and costing taxpayers millions of dollars each year. I am committed to stopping this theft of taxpayer dollars . . .," he said.

Back to Michigan. If you ask Dick about Medicaid today, he will say something like this- (no, I'm not linking. It's under "Issues" on his campaign website)

It is clear that Michigan's current Medicaid system desperately needs reform. Today's Medicaid is no longer providing the poorest and neediest with the coverage they need. Dick's reforms will help the needy, not the greedy. Dick will provide more accountability and oversight to a system that spends much of its money on fraud, waste, and inefficiency.

In Michigan, we don't have abuse, we have "inefficiency". We also need to "reform", not restructure.

Dick DeVos. Smart enough to change a couple of the words.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

To The Point- A few questions for Dick...

Yes, I watched To The Point this morning (and it wasn't nearly as painful as I thought it would be), and I have some follow-up questions for Mr. DeVos.

  • Mr. DeVos- You are perpetuating the myth that the state has received a "windfall" from the gasoline sales tax. But on May 13th, it was reported by the non-partisan House Fiscal Agency that there has been no growth in tax collections over last year, no "windfall" at all. In fact, your plan would have cut $285 million dollars in revenue to the schools and local cities. How would you have made up for that lost revenue had your plan been implemented?

  • Moving on- your new TV ad states a figure on job loss that your own party discredited some time ago. Why are you still using that figure when it's been proven that it is untrue?

  • You say your plans, that you still refuse to talk about, would cause some "painful changes" with an eye towards "long term results". Are you saying that your ideas deserve a "long term" time frame, but Granholm was supposed to instantly transform our economy? You also mention that these problems were evident at the time she took office. Would you then say that John Enlger was ineffective as a governor after 12 years in office? Do you hold him to the same standards as you do Granholm? Would you hold yourself to those same standards? And BTW, since you brought up the transition period at Amway that you claim as a success, would you care to tell us how long that took to provide positive results?

  • You say that Granholm was "forced" into changing the SBT, but you also give her credit for trying to work on it. Is it true that the deal that was struck on the SBT last November was scuttled a week later by phone calls from you and Betsy to the Republican legislature? If not, why do you think the legislature pulled out of that deal if this issue of business tax cuts is so important? Any guesses? You also say a "majority" of the SBT will be replaced. Care to tell us exactly what programs you would cut due to lost revenue?

  • Dick rattled off a bunch of figures on school funding. I'm not even going to touch that one, but it wouldn't surprise me if some of those were incorrect given his other statements.

    He also claimed that Jobs Today had gotten "no results", but yet I could link to a whole bunch of articles that prove that isn't true. Here's one from Friday telling of 1,111 jobs created recently right here in West Michigan. Hope someone is keeping a running total on these, I can't keep up.

    It will be interesting to see if Rick tries his "gotcha" questions on Granholm next week after he let DeVos slide on the items above.
    Truth about DeVos hits the Free Press
    Chris Christoff rides in with a cavalcade of facts on DeVos and his background. Suddenly I can breathe again.

    Spending millions of dollars of his fortune on a relentless flow of TV campaign ads, Republican Dick DeVos has turned a quixotic quest for governor into one of the nation's hottest races.

    While smashing spending records and gaining early momentum, DeVos is reshaping Michigan's political landscape in the 2006 election season with a personal mission closely linked to the nation's most politically and culturally conservative niches. Thus far, he's spent more than $5 million. That's the most ever spent this early for TV ads in the governor's race. DeVos' TV image shows a nonpolitical successful businessman.

    In fact, he and his family have been among the nation's biggest donors to Republican and religious-conservative causes -- a partisan generosity that could both reap returns for Dick DeVos' candidacy and make him a very large target for Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm's reelection team.

    Large target, indeed. An overwhelming one in fact. There is a reason I quickly backed off from doing a blog on Dick- there was just too much. Looking at Dick is like looking at the whole illness of the modern GOP- he is but a symptom of the disease that currently afflicts this nation, tearing the country apart with divisive "moral" issues, funneling all the money to the wealthy, and at the same time spending us into bankruptcy.

    Christoff goes on to talk about the big political stars that will be drawn to Michigan to campaign for the contenders; I want to highlight more of Dick's GOP involvement and extremist ties.

    But in political circles, the DeVos family is known for its close ties to the Republican Party.

    In the 2004 election cycle alone, the DeVos and Van Andel families gave more than $4.7 million to GOP causes in Michigan and Florida.

    Alticor's family owners and affiliates are ranked among the country's top 100 political contributors to national campaigns -- all of it to Republicans -- according to the Center for Responsive Politics, based in Washington.

    The DeVoses have supported such right-wing advocates as the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, Council for National Policy and the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty in Grand Rapids, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and Michigan Right to Life.

    The organizations promote conservative economic and social agendas: free trade and less government regulation, school choice including vouchers, the infusion of Christian beliefs into public life and opposition to abortion and gay marriage.

    I still want to know more about the Council for National Policy. I want some reporter to ask about it, I want to know why they have to keep their agenda and membership a big secret. That link above takes you to an ABC story about them- and this story drops the names of a bunch of ultra right-wing members. It's the All Star Team of the Radical Right.

    Do we want a governor who is involved with some "secret" cabal that won't tell us their plans for the people of Michigan? And, when you think about it, we have seen the "conservative economic and social agenda" of the folks of the CNP on parade in Washington, and look at the country now. Imagine the damage they could do here.

    Chris DeWitt hits a home run with this next statement.

    "Dick DeVos is so far to the right it would make Rush Limbaugh blush," DeWitt said. "He has supported groups that oppose all abortions, oppose stem cell research, oppose affirmative action, support outsourcing and unfair trade agreements, school vouchers, worked against the environment.

    "The DeVos camp has gone out of its way to avoid answering any questions. What they can't hide is the fact that DeVos' actions in support of these groups speak very loudly."

    Now, I doubt anyone could make Rush Limbaugh blush- the man is totally delusional and shameless. But, Truscott goes on to do just what DeWitt said he would do, avoid answering any questions, and tried to paint DeVos as some kind of generous philanthropist. You know, helping all those starving, underprivileged souls in the GOP's divisive pet causes.
    "I don't think anybody can question the DeVos family's philanthropic efforts to help the underprivileged," Truscott said. "They're giving their money to people and causes they believe in, and which will improve people's lives."

    Yes, the Family Research Council has improved so many lives hasn't it. I'm sure they have improved the lives of the members of the Westboro Baptist Church. When you round up their quotes, you would almost call them a hate group.

    What I want to know is- what has DeVos done with the past four years besides try to influence politics with his money and racing his yacht? He quit Amway abruptly in 2002, saying he wanted to pursue "other interests"- and at the time he said that did not include public office.

    Where are those jobs he supposedly created? Why doesn't the media ask him to prove that statement? How, exactly, does he propose to create jobs? "More tax cuts" doesn't count, I want details. Yeah, yeah, I know- patience.

    Christoff also has a sidebar story highlighting the DeVos family money flooding into the GOP. My mind keeps going back to Betsy's now famous quote-

    "I know a little something about soft money, as my family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party," Betsy DeVos wrote in an op-ed for the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call. "I have decided, however, to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect some things in return.

    Quite simply, they are trying to buy the government for their own return. Not the for the good of the people, for themselves and their radical agenda(s).

    Get a clue, Michigan.

    And thank you, Mr. Christoff, this is a great start.

    Saturday, June 17, 2006

    Whitecaps - Big inning puts the Whitecaps in the driver's seat

    Whitecaps play Hacky Sack with a baseball before the game last Thursday.

    It's too hot to write the Great American Blog Post, so you get more baseball news.

    FT. WAYNE, IN - For the third game in a row the Whitecaps used a big inning on their way to a victory over Fort Wayne. With six runs in the seventh, West Michigan cruised to a 7-3 triumph over the Wizards and took control of their own destiny in the race to win the first half title in the Eastern Division.

    Lansing lost 4-2 at South Bend to fall a game behind the Whitecaps with one game to play in the first half. Therefore, if the Whitecaps win or the Lugnuts lose on Sunday, West Michigan claims a first half division title for the first time since 2000.

    At stake is the right to face the lowest seeded second half team from the East in first round of the playoffs, plus the opportunity for the coaching staff to guide the Eastern Division all stars in the Midwest League All Star Game next Tuesday in Davenport, Iowa.


    Notice how I'm conveniently ignoring the Cubs...
    Granholm, Republicans squabble over scholarship plan
    Truce over. Gotta go back to yelling again. That lasted a whole, what, 24 hrs?

    Starting to think she should use some reverse psychology on these guys.

    Granholm: "Let's cancel the Merit Scholarships".

    Republicans: "What? How horrible! We're shocked and appalled! Let's give them $4000!"

    Give them enough rope and let them hang themselves.

    LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Jennifer Granholm renewed her call Friday for the state Legislature to pass one of her educational scholarship plans. She got a frosty response from Republican leaders.

    What a surprise.

    Granholm, a Democrat, wants to revamp the state's Merit Award Scholarship. Her plan would make up to $4,000 available for college students. Those who do well in high school would get some money up front to help start paying college bills, but others would have to wait until they completed some post-high school education or training to get the cash.

    The plan is different from the current Merit Award that provides up to $3,000 to college-bound high school students who perform well on state standardized tests.

    And here it comes again... the Kings of Hypocrisy make their move... wait for it...
    "The governor's proposal is not acceptable and needs more discussion," Sikkema, R-Wyoming, said in a statement. "I'm willing to work with her on this, but we haven't made any progress because she has yet to find a way to pay for it or address the other problems."

    Matt Resch, spokesman for Republican House Speaker Craig DeRoche of Novi, called the Granholm plan "irresponsible" because it is too expensive.

    Nice Rove move there, Craig, projecting your weakness onto others. Pot, meet kettle.

    Let's keep in mind that these are the guys who are going to blow a $2 billion hole in the budget without a "way to pay for it".

    Big tax breaks for business? A-OK! Money for struggling college students? Too expensive! The ads just write themselves sometimes.

    Granholm said Friday that she wants lawmakers to pass the plan before they take their summer break later this month. She plans to push the matter further by sending what is known as a "special message" to lawmakers early next week.

    Yeah, I'd like to send them a "special message" too, but I'd probably find myself in a whole heap of trouble. ;-)

    Friday, June 16, 2006

    It's All About Me: A Thank You

    I have received many compliments from people lately for my writing here, and I just wanted to acknowledge my gratitude for that.

    I'm still not quite sure what y'all are seeing, I figured I was just some babbling idiot over in the corner. But, somewhere my 7th grade English teacher is smiling and saying, "I told you so". Thank you Mr. DeBoer, wherever you are today. Maybe you were right.

    I'm just me, I'm just writing whatever strikes me at the moment. Like most bloggers, I guess.

    So, thank you all, from the bottom of my heart. It means a great deal to me, and I am truly honored.

    Now get back to work. :-)
    Democrats vote to remove Jefferson from committee
    Good. I'm sorry the guy didn't voluntarily step down.

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - House Democrats voted on Thursday to remove Rep. William Jefferson from a powerful committee while federal investigators weigh possible bribery charges against the Louisiana Democrat.

    Jefferson will not be forced off the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee unless the entire House of Representatives votes to do so.

    The secret vote demonstrated Democrats' determination to distance themselves from the New Orleans lawmaker at a time when they hope to capitalize on Republican corruption scandals to win control of Congress in November's elections.

    The scary thing is people don't give a damn about corruption. I think they expect it now.

    Our quote of the day goes to Nancy Pelosi-

    "Passing judgment on your peers is very, very difficult, but it is necessary," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. "I told all my colleagues -- anybody with $90,000 in the freezer, you have a problem at that point."

    So let that be a lesson to all you politicians- don't keep the money in the freezer!

    You'd think they would teach them that in politician school.
    Gubernatorial candidates face off on main issues
    Watch Rick go for the drama. Ask yourself if you learned anything about "issues".

    LANSING -- There are two main issues in the Governor's race this year: jobs and the economy.

    Democrat Governor Granholm has laid out what she calls the most comprehensive economic plan in the nation. Republican Dick DeVos said it's a little too late.

    Here comes the blame game. Rick's going for confrontation, not education.
    When 24 Hour News 8 sat down with DeVos and asked about the Governor's economic plan he was quick to imply that a plan is only good if it works. "These are not new problems," DeVos said "These are not new issues that we're confronting. These are issues that were readily apparent 3 ½ years ago."

    Yes, 3 1/2 years ago when we had a REPUBLICAN governor who had been there for 12 years. Good on you, Dick. Thanks for pointing that out.

    Once again, Dick won't say what he would do.

    On Sunday morning's "To The Point" program, tune in to hear what DeVos had to say about Granholm's plan and when he will unveil a plan of his own.

    Apparently Dick isn't going to give us any insight on his brilliant ideas. Again. Wonder why he wants to keep it such a big secret. Sunday will be a "bash Granholm" show. Thanks, think I'll pass. I'm out of Compazine.

    Jennifer has some blame game, too, and suddenly that is all that is coming across in Channel 8's reporting. A clip from her visit to GRCC Thursday showed her going after Bush, Rick's clip has her going after the legislature.

    24 Hour News 8 spoke with Granholm and when asked to reply to that criticism she quickly and adamantly recited a list of accomplishment from a 2 billion dollar fund to invest in new businesses and jobs, to education and job training and a tax cut for manufacturers.

    Rick chose not to show that, of course.
    She said she did it fighting every step of the way with a Republican legislature. "These are significant results despite the fact that I've had to deal with a hostile legislature," Granholm said, a legislature that's been controlled by the opposition party. Let's be very clear about what has gone on here."

    So, what have we learned from Channel 8 about the "issues"?

    Not a thing.

    It's no wonder we have an uninformed electorate. If they don't read the papers, they don't have a clue as to what these people are all about, and even the papers are pretty lax on that. I have hope the print media will get better. I don't have any hope for Rick though. I've watched him for too many years now.

    BTW, Granholm will be on "To The Point" June 25th.

    Thursday, June 15, 2006

    Michigan AFL-CIO puts out leaflet knocking DeVos
    Sometimes mistakes work in your favor.

    LANSING, Mich. -- A leaflet being mailed to union members in the state says GOP gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos has been a major contributor to President Bush and once used his influence to win a tax break benefiting Amway Corp.

    There's only one problem with the leaflet prepared by the Michigan State AFL-CIO: It says the tax break was "signed into law by President Bush in 1997."

    The former Texas governor, a Republican, didn't become president until 2001. Democrat Bill Clinton was in the White House in 1997.

    Denise Cadreau, political director for the AFL-CIO, says the union made a mistake.

    "The date is correct, based on Common Cause. It's just somehow a `by President Bush' got tossed in there," she said Tuesday.

    Oops! That was silly. Gee, sorry. But you have to ask yourself, would this have made the news if the leaflet had been correct?

    The colorful leaflet displays the headline "The GOP's Culture of Corruption" over images of Bush, DeVos and former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. DeLay, a Texas Republican, stepped down from the House last week and is awaiting trial on money laundering charges he says are politically motivated.

    Or this?
    The leaflet says the DeVos family has been a major contributor to Bush, that disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff has been a longtime friend of the DeVos family and that Dick DeVos gave DeLay $5,000 for his legal defense fund.

    Or how about this-
    DeVos and his family have been major contributors to Republican causes for many years, including the Bush campaign.

    According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, the DeVos family _ which includes Dick DeVos's father, Amway founder Richard DeVos _ gave nearly $2.6 million to federal candidates and political parties from the 1989-1990 election cycle through the 2005-06 cycle. All but 4 percent went to Republicans.

    That includes $5,000 Dick DeVos gave in 1999 to DeLay's political action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority, and $1,000 he gave to DeLay's campaign committee in 2000, according to the center.

    "This guy's been a huge political player for a long time. He's one of the major funding families for the Republican Party," Cadreau said. "He's not a newbie to politics, that's for sure."

    So, even if a slight error was made on one sentence, the truth of the leaflet was spread in black and white print and living color on your TV set all over Michigan.

    All because of a simple mistake. Heh.

    Shame on you guys. Don't ever let it happen again.
    Unemployment rate plunges in May to 6.0 percent
    Eye-popping drop. But, if these numbers are always coming out with qualifiers- what good are they? It seems every month there is always a reason as to why "this number really isn't true".

    LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan's unemployment rate plunged in May to 6.0 percent, the lowest rate since February 2002 and a major drop from April's rate of 7.2 percent, state officials said.

    But economists warned against reading too much into the numbers released Wednesday, saying Michigan's economy remains weak as the domestic auto industry continues its contraction.

    "(I) wouldn't take any encouragement from this unemployment number. I think it's just a badly measured number this month," said Dana Johnson, chief economist for Comerica Inc. in Ann Arbor.

    Michigan State University economics professor Charles Ballard said he thinks the actual state unemployment level is somewhere between the April and May rates, at about 6.5 percent or 6.6 percent.

    "It's not completely surprising, given that you have this long-term decline ... in the relative size of manufacturing," Ballard said. "Michigan is heavily into a sector of the economy that's been shrinking."

    From the comments- Kathy points out a piece of this story I missed.

    Charles Ballard, professor of economics at Michigan State University, said that month-to-month fluctuations in the unemployment rate are often due to a "weird blip" in the survey data rather than solid evidence of change.

    In reality, he said, the state's jobless trend "wasn't that bad in April, and it didn't improve so much in May."

    Michigan's ailing labor market has emerged as the top issue in this year's campaign for governor. The race pits Gov. Jennifer Granholm against Republican businessman Dick DeVos.

    But Ballard said neither candidate could rightly claim to have any magic solutions for Michigan's hard-hit manufacturers. He pointed out that the state's job losses began under former Gov. John Engler, a Republican, and continued under Granholm, a Democrat.

    "If Dick DeVos had been elected four years ago, the Michigan economy would look very much as it does now," Ballard said. "The percentage of the economy that's in manufacturing has been declining for half a century. That's not a blip, that's a trend. And if you're in a state like Michigan, which is much more involved in manufacturing than the average state, that's going to cause problems for you."

    Speaking of shrinking- the Detroit papers are reporting a disturbing story about Ford planning a huge expansion in Mexico. This is basically speculation at this point, a "wish list" as it were, and that is reflected in the varying accounts between the two papers. The News story emphasizes scary figures (150,000 jobs in the next decade!) in their usual sensationalist way, the Free Press doesn't go into as much detail. The UAW fight, talk of a southern US plant, all key components in both stories. Go read- you figure it out.

    The one thing that struck me out of both these stories is the hint of attempting to influence the Mexican presidential election.

    From the News-

    In addition to postponing any public discussion of the plan until after the UAW convention, Ford also planned to time its announcement with an eye toward Mexican politics.

    Mexico's presidential election is scheduled for July 2. Some within Ford wanted to announce the plant deal before that date to provide a boost to Felipe Calderà n, the candidate of the ruling National Action Party candidate and incumbent President Vicente Fox's hand-picked successor. The conservative Calderà n is locked in a tight race with leftist candidate Andràs Manuel Là pez Obrador, who is seen as less friendly to U.S. corporations.

    However, others in Ford worried such a move could provoke a backlash against the company if LÃ pez Obrador wins, and the company decided to hold off until after the election. That may not be possible now.

    From the Free Press-
    Because of the sensitivity, Ford hoped to announce the new investment after the UAW convention in Las Vegas, which ends today, and before the Mexico presidential elections on July 2, according to the document.

    If the announcement were made before the union elections, the Ford-UAW relationship "could be jeopardized," the document says.

    And if Ford waits until after the Mexican elections, the grants being offered to Ford, which are valued at between $500 million and $1.4 billion, could be threatened.

    I can't begin to wrap my mind around what this might mean, but in a very simplistic way it comes off as, "Elect the right guy, we give you lots of money."

    Perhaps this has always been done by America and American corporations to a certain extent, but ever at the expense of so many American jobs?

    This all goes down, and they build a plant in the southern US as opposed to Michigan, I'll never buy another Ford again. I promise. Oh, and my Mom? Huge Ford consumer. They have had a total four Escorts and currently have a Ford pick-up. I'll do everything in my power to dissuade them from Ford also. (Besides, I think I have them sold on Saturn now.)

    Ask me if I've eaten at Domino's in the past 20 years- I stick to my boycotts. :-)