Monday, July 31, 2006

Cubs land Izturis, send Maddux to LA
And Walker goes to the Padres for some unknown.

Damnit. Two of my favorite Cubs gone. Maddux deserved to retire here if he wanted. He may have been losing steam, but who else do we have to replace him? Rusch?

And what did we get in return? A whole lotta nothing.

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs have agreed to deal Greg Maddux to the Los Angeles Dodgers for infielder Cesar Izturis, and have sent infielder Todd Walker to the San Diego Padres for a Minor League pitcher.

Maddux, 40, was pursued by Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, who was a Cubs official during the right-hander's first stint in Chicago. Maddux is 9-11 with a 4.69 ERA this season, and has a career record of 327-200 and a 3.06 ERA.

Someone on the Bleed Cubbie Blue blog put it best- "this is part of Jim Hendry's plan to acquire all the useless middle infielders on earth". To go with Perez and Cedeno, we now have this-
"Philosophically, I'd decided that if it wasn't a great package for us, that we would keep Greg," Hendry said. "To get Izturis, a Gold Glove winner, 26 years old, we have his rights through 2008. He was arguably, before his surgery, the best shortstop in the National League."

Izturis had Tommy John reconstruction surgery on his right elbow last September. This season, he was batting .252, with seven doubles and 12 RBIs in 32 games, and had played primarily at third. Ronny Cedeno is expected to move to second base for the Cubs.

And for Walker, who certainly is a head case, but who is also one of the best hitters out there- some untested rook.

The Cubs also dealt Walker to the San Diego Padres for Minor League pitcher Jose Ceda on Monday. Ceda, 19, was 4-2 with a 1.50 ERA in 13 games for the Padres' Dominican Summer League Team in 2005. He limited opponents to a .174 batting average against, while striking out 83 in 60 innings.

This year, Ceda was playing for the Padres' Arizona League club, and he was 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA (four earned runs in 18 innings) over six games.

Walker, 33, was batting .277 in 94 games with 16 doubles, six homers and 40 RBIs. The left-handed hitting infielder stepped in at first base for injured Derrek Lee for two months, making 35 starts, but has played more games at second (46). Sunday's 6-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals was his last game for the Cubs.

And BTW- Garciaparra is batting .327 for the Dodgers. They also have Kenny Lofton, batting .291. (former Cubs we let go, for those who don't know)

Great moves there, Hendry. You are absolutely brilliant.
State Department hid costs of Iraqi projects: NYT
Are they fascists or are they thieves? The battle for the ultimate answer to that question continues...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The State Department agency in charge of $1.4 billion for reconstruction projects in Iraq used an accounting shell game to hide cost overruns and failed to tell Congress about schedule delays, The New York Times reported on Sunday.

Um... shouldn't that be illegal?

A report by the independent Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction said the U.S. Agency for International Development listed project overruns as overhead or administrative costs.

USAID is the agency is charge of administering foreign aid and began working on Iraq reconstruction soon after the 2003 invasion began.

The inspector general's report did not give details on all projects being conducted under the $1.4 billion budget, but noted several examples including a children's hospital in Basra and a power station in Baghdad.

Bechtel, the contractor in charge of the Basra hospital, said in April construction costs would be $98 million, up from an original budget of $50 million, due to escalating costs for security and other problems. USAID pledged to cut contractor overhead, but the inspector general found no effort to do that.

I bet Blackwater wanted more money. And Bechtel is the name that keeps popping up in connection to the phrase "cost overruns". Famous for their "staggering" overruns on Boston's Big Dig, they then went on to loot New Orleans after Katrina. You would think that they are running out of places to store the money by now.
Joseph A. Saloom, the newly appointed director of the reconstruction office at the U.S. Embassy, said in a letter he would take steps to improve the reporting of the costs of reconstruction projects in Iraq.

Well, good. It would be nice to know just how much money Bechtel is stealing from us.

When I read stories like this, I lean towards "thieves".

But wait! Not to be outdone, the fascists make another bold move!

WASHINGTON - U.S. citizens suspected of terror ties might be detained indefinitely and barred from access to civilian courts under legislation proposed by the Bush administration, say legal experts reviewing an early version of the bill.

A 32-page draft measure is intended to authorize the Pentagon's tribunal system, established shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks to detain and prosecute detainees captured in the war on terror. The tribunal system was thrown out last month by the Supreme Court.

Administration officials, who declined to comment on the draft, said the proposal was still under discussion and no final decisions had been made.

Senior officials are expected to discuss a final proposal before the Senate Armed Services Committee next Wednesday.

According to the draft, the military would be allowed to detain all "enemy combatants" until hostilities cease. The bill defines enemy combatants as anyone "engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners who has committed an act that violates the law of war and this statute."

Legal experts said Friday that such language is dangerously broad and could authorize the military to detain indefinitely U.S. citizens who had only tenuous ties to terror networks like al Qaeda.

Yes, you read that right. US citizens denied access to courts.

So much for that Constitution.

I still think "thieves" will win out in the end because they are proving to be incompetent fascists, but it wouldn't take much to tip the balance the other way.

The battle continues...
Muskegon Chronicle "gets it" - Governor's race isn't just about the economy
Signs of life on the editorial pages.

Up for grabs is not only the governorship, now in the hands of a Democrat, but the Republican majority in the Legislature, whose leadership and membership seem more in tune with Pat Robertson, who helped galvanize the Religious Right in Michigan, than the last GOP governor, John Engler.

Ada businessman DeVos, whose family built the Amway/Alticor empire, is in that mold as well. DeVos has yet to address any social issue stands in his multi-million dollar campaign blitz, but if he does succeed in knocking off Granholm, it's a good bet that if he also inherits the same Legislature, the balance of power in Michigan in all ways will take a very sharp turn to the Right.

Which is exactly why I have been screaming about this for months now.
When DeVos spoke before the Muskegon Economic Forum earlier this year, he was asked if he would sign any bills presented to him by the Legislature that would allow for the teaching of any form of creationism in the public schools. DeVos pointedly refused to answer the question. He was equally reticent when asked recently about specifics on the abortion issue, another question that very well may hinge on the next governor's frame of mind.

So there's more to it then economics. In her three-plus years as governor, Granholm has vetoed 101 bills from this Legislature -- that's 100 more vetoes than the guy in the White House has put his pen to. Some of Granholm's veto messages stated: "Constitutional deficiencies ..." "Fails to solve regional problem, instead pitting suburbs against city ..." "Not fiscally responsible ..." "... Does not include exception for life and health of mother ..." "Bill fails to close and instead expands a tax loophole ..." "Would ... reduce public scrutiny and accountability ..."

She has kept the wingnuts at bay- for that alone she deserves a medal. These guys have been a model for fiscal, social and legislative irresponsibility.

But back to the Dick-

How would DeVos wield his veto pen on charter schools, abortion, creationism, open meetings, embryonic stem cell research, business regulation, environmental oversight issues and more? We strongly suspect the differences between the candidates couldn't be more pronounced. The voters need to hear more about them.

If DeVos won't speak to the issues, then I guess that Michigan should look at the list of extreme right-wing foundations and causes that the DeVos family has poured their time and money into over the years to see where they are coming from and which direction they would take us.

During the past quarter century, the DeVos family has funded and supported just about every major right wing think tank and public policy institute. It is not an exaggeration to say that the DeVos' largesse helped change America's political landscape.

The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation has supported a panoply of right wing groups including the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, the Media Research Center, and James Kennedy's Coral Ridge Ministries. Foundation money helped build the State Policy Network, an association of state-based conservative think tanks. In Michigan, the foundation provided funding to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which uses its research to propose and promote various policies in Michigan.

DeVos money has also gone to Paul Weyrich's Free Congress Foundation, the man considered as the godfather of the modern conservative movement and a proud purveyor of America's culture wars.

The Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation provides funding to many of the same organizations as the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation.

And a few other names of note...
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.

Google any one of those outfits and a true picture emerges on the DeVos philosophy.

Need I say more?

Not only will he not answer these questions, he will accuse you of nefarious motives if you even ask.

This is where Truscott clued us in on their "mud" defense; simply pointing these truths out equals "mudslinging". If you ask Dick about his support of the extremists, you're slinging mud. Why is that?

DeVos campaign spokesman John Truscott said Democrats attacking the DeVoses for their contributions amounts to mudslinging.

And when you challenge Dick on job creation, you're slinging mud.
On Wednesday, Brewer said DeVos laid off hundreds of Michigan workers while at the same time creating thousands of jobs in China.

"When Dick DeVos had a choice, he chose to do nothing for the workers and the voters and the people of Michigan, and chose to invest overseas," adds Brewer.

It's a charge that DeVos spokesman John Truscott strongly denies. "I don't think people are ready for this kind of mudslinging this early to begin with."

That was from July of last year.

Apparently we shall have no criticism of the King. Anything you ask about, from his record of supporting radical right wing foundations, to his record on job creation, equates to mudslinging. Question Dick, and there is something wrong with you.

Does this line of defense sound familiar to anyone?

Anyone? Anyone? How about you, Karl?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Former Whitecap Clevlen makes noise in Tiger debut
Brent played for the Caps in 2003.

MINNEAPOLIS -- You're a kid who just arrived from Double-A on Saturday night, you're playing at a position you've played just a handful of times this season, you're judging fly balls against a roof for the first time in your career, and you're facing a former Cy Young winner.

Welcome to the big leagues, Brent Clevlen.

"It's pretty exciting," Clevlen said. "I was surprised when they called me and told me I was coming up."

It's quite a surprise for someone who was hitting .224 at Erie. But with Alexis Gomez ineligible for recall at the moment, Clevlen already on the 40-man roster and the youngster having made an impression on Leyland in Spring Training, Clevlen found himself getting his first Major League exposure.

It didn't take him long to make an impression. He threw out Luis Castillo at the plate trying to score on a fly ball in the bottom of the first inning, then doubled down the left-field line in his first big-league at-bat off Johan Santana. He came around to score on Placido Polanco's ensuing single.

"It was good to get the first one out of the way," Clevlen said. "That was big."

A four-pitch walk in the sixth again set up Polanco for an RBI single, giving the youngster two of Detroit's four runs in a two-hit game.

Gonna have to get me down to Comerica one of these days.

BTW, the Cubs swept the first-place Cardinals in a four game series at Wrigley, making the Cards 0-10 in Chicago this year. Go figure.
Strike Two! LSJ points out DeVos deception in attack ad
Nice to see that the media is working to defend themselves. Maybe they will get around to pointing out all the other ways that DeVos is deceiving the voters.

This ad, designed to erode Gov. Jennifer Granholm's image, does quite the opposite. It illustrates DeVos' unwillingness to play straight with voters.

At issue is a brief TV spot that makes two text references to the LSJ. Citing the newspaper, the commercial says of Granholm, "It's all negative all the time out of the Granholm camp" and "... on a mission to get re-elected ... perhaps at any cost."

But what DeVos' ad conveniently fails to note is the comments were in a April 28, 2006, column by Tim Skubick, a State Capitol reporter who writes commentaries for a number of state newspapers. For the record, in the same column, Skubick wrote " ... on the subject of those DeVos ads, it's truly amazing that viewers have apparently been sucked in."

Just because the LSJ publishes Skubick's column doesn't mean the paper endorses the views therein, anymore than when we publish letters that take diametrically opposed stands on any issue under the sun.

The DeVos campaign could and should have been clear about that in the ad. In fact, after being contacted, the campaign said it would modify the TV commercial to make the distinction.

The fact DeVos wasn't clear to begin with is telling, though. What the ad tried to do was say, see voters, even the Lansing newspaper knows Granholm is doing wrong.

DeVos hasn't been very clear on anything, whether it be how he would replace the SBT, to his stand on abortion, to what programs he would cut when he says he would "cut spending" (except for the job creating Cool Cities, which apparently he would cut out of spite alone), to his views on the environment, to exactly how he would "overhaul state government", to what "jobs" he has supposedly "created".

Time for the media to get in gear and point out that this man had been deceptive in nearly everything that he says and does.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

DeVos outspends Granholm 10-1
Out of all the headlines, this one gives the best perspective.

The man intends to buy this state like it was just another business acquisition. He will then "lay off" some of the "employees" that don't perform up to his standards. You will be working for Dick; Dick will be working for his friends. Remember, Republicans govern for other Republicans, and nobody else.

It would be like voting for your boss. So, when you ask for a raise and he tells you there just isn't enough money right now, so sorry, and oh by the way, we are going to have to cut your benefits too, but can you work late tonight?, just as he is walking out the door to jet off to the Caribbean with his golf buddies, don't say you weren't warned.

LANSING -- Democratic incumbent Jennifer Granholm raised $3.3 million in the first half of 2006. Republican challenger Dick DeVos nearly matched that in a single day when, on June 19, he wrote a $3 million check to his campaign.

In 12 months, DeVos has poured nearly $13 million of his own money into a gubernatorial campaign that has blanketed Michigan TV channels with ads since February. That's $2 million more than Granholm has collected in more than three and a half years of aggressive fundraising since she took office.

So far this year, according to campaign finance reports filed Friday, DeVos has outspent Granholm more than 10-1, or nearly $15 million compared with $1.3 million.

Including his own contributions, the DeVos campaign raised $15.7 million in 2006; $17.5 million total. He has spent more than $2 million per month on average, much of it on TV ads DeVos feels have been vital in boosting his familiarity with voters. Campaign finance watchdogs estimate he now is spending about $650,000 a week on ads.

Granholm raised $3.3 million this year in itemized contributions, $10.7 million since the election cycle started in 2003. She reported having $7.2 million in the bank. Granholm has yet to air a single TV ad. On her behalf, the Michigan Democratic Party has spent more than $2.5 million on ads.

Who gives money to a billionaire? People who want to curry favor for when the goodies are passed out later. They will be lined up at the door for their cut of the state's resources.

Although the former Amway executive has provided 78 percent of the money spent by his campaign, DeVos stressed in a statement, "this campaign has broad support from all over" Michigan, with 18,765 individual contributors.

Christoff's article throws around some celebrity names that have donated on Granholm's behalf- I'm rather curious about who has donated on Dick's behalf. Which wingnuts have stepped up to the plate? Which business owners are looking to catch Dick's eye? The Detroit News names the DeVos family and Meijer.

Aside from his own massive investment, DeVos received $83,825 from his wife, Betsy, among the $5 million given by 18,765 individual donors. His parents, siblings and children gave $35,323, according to a Michigan Campaign Finance Network analysis. The Meijer supermarket family contributed $19,000. Hundreds of contributors gave the maximum $3,400.

This report isn't up on their site yet- I imagine we will find the usual suspects on Dick's list.

And it looks like I should be shopping at Family Fare.
Your GOP Congress in action: Massive tax cuts for the rich in the dead of the night
And the working poor pay the price once again.

WASHINGTON - Republicans muscled the first minimum wage increase in a decade through the House early Saturday after pairing it with a cut in inheritance taxes on multimillion-dollar estates.

Combining the two issues provoked protests from Democrats and was sure to cause problems in the Senate, where the minimum wage initiative was likely to die at the hands of Democrats opposed to the costly estate tax cuts. The Senate is expected to take up the legislation next week.

Still, GOP leaders saw combining the wage and tax issues as their best chance for getting permanent cuts to the estate tax, a top GOP priority fueled by intense lobbying by farmers, small business owners and super-wealthy families such as the Waltons, heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune.

"This is the best shot we've got; we're going to take it," said House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio. The unusual packaging also soothed conservatives angry about raising the minimum wage over opposition by GOP business allies.

The House passed the bill 230-180 before leaving for a five-week recess.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., vowed Democrats would kill the hybrid bill, along with its 10-year, $300 billion-plus cost.

"The Senate has rejected fiscally irresponsible estate tax giveaways before and will reject them again," Reid said. "Blackmailing working families will not change that outcome."

This is DOA in the Senate, and House Republicans knew it. All for show, making them look like the good guys for their campaign ads only. From Nancy Pelosi-

The Republican Leadership has stated that a minimum wage bill will be brought to the floor this evening. . . . The legislation will package three separate bills - minimum wage, estate tax, and the extension of expiring tax provisions - into a single package that will make Senate passage impossible. This is nothing more than a cynical, political ploy to defeat a minimum wage increase because this bill will go nowhere in the Senate. . . .

First, at this time, it appears that the Republican leadership plans to use the estate tax and extenders package as a "poison pill." Senate tax-writers have already rejected, on a bipartisan basis, proposals that combine the estate tax with a tax extenders package.

Second, the cost of the combined tax package the Republican Leadership is proposing is likely to be more than $800 billion for the first ten years that the bill is in effect. This comes at a time when Republican economic policies have already resulted in trillions of dollars in debt.

Third, the Republican Leadership has not yet decided whether they will provide a real minimum wage increase. The amount of the increase, the number of years required for such an increase to take effect, and whether a large swath of workers now covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act will lose their protections is still undecided. There is no reason for any Democrat to support a minimum wage bill that reduces or draws out an increase, or which leaves millions of workers behind in coverage.

While the details of the Republican Leadership plan may change, their intention is clear: make every appearance that Republicans support a minimum wage increase, while ensuring its demise in the Senate by attaching "poison pills."

Color me disgusted. What else is new.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Disembodied Head of Dick DeVos

... reviewed this blog today and sent my hits right through the roof.

Can't wait until he gets around to the others- why should I have all the fun?

Go read. And be warned, you libruls- the Head will be coming for you next!
Free Press calls out DeVos on attack ad
I knew it, I just hadn't gotten around to writing it up yet.

In response to an inquiry from the Free Press, the campaign of Republican Dick DeVos has changed his latest TV commercial, the one that amounts to an attack on Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm for going on the attack against DeVos.

Here's why the alteration is significant. The original ad attributed to the Free Press the words "phony" and "demagoguery," supposedly describing Granholm's rhetoric against DeVos. In fact, those words appeared in a column by Brian Dickerson of the Free Press, which makes them one person's view as opposed to the newspaper expressing an opinion on its editorial page. The revised ad attributes the words only to the generic "press" and to a "Free Press column."

While the distinction may be lost on the general public, it is significant to a newspaper that may hold institutional opinions quite different from those of its columnists.

Even as changed, the ad involves some misrepresentation. The Dickerson column was about Democratic Party attacks on DeVos for building Amway factories in China while DeVos was president of that business. Dickerson actually wrote that "Granholm would be well advised to disavow this phony bit of Democratic demagoguery before it blows up in her face." That's a little different from criticizing the governor for engaging in same.

You calling Dick a liar?

Maybe it's time to investigate the other quotes and put them in context.

Or not. Dick has been "misrepresenting" all along- it gets redundant after awhile. I just wish the media would do more to point it out when it happens.
Senator open to TV chat about Internet "tubes"
Ohpleaseohpleaseohplease... c'mon Jon.... extend an offer...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Mocked by comedian Jon Stewart for calling the Internet a bunch of tubes, U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens said on Thursday he is open to going on Stewart's popular "Daily Show" for a rebuttal.

The comedian has parodied the dean of the Senate Republicans for rejecting calls by some Internet companies for a law to block high-speed Internet providers from charging higher prices to carry certain content. Backers of such a law say it would preserve what they call "Net neutrality."

"The Internet is not something that you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's, it's a series of tubes," Stevens, an Alaska Republican, said last month.

Stewart parodied the senator's remarks on three episodes, which have spread over the Internet and were widely viewed on He questioned Stevens' knowledge of the Internet, and quipped, "You're just the guy in charge of regulation."

Stevens, whose committee has authority over many Internet issues, defended his comments and said he had even received support from experts.

"I have a letter from a big scientist who said I was absolutely right in using the word 'tubes,'" he told reporters. However, Stevens said he had not been invited to appear on the show to respond.

When pressed whether he was willing to go on the show, Stevens slowly grinned and said: "I'd consider it."

That would be Must See TV.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

DeVos Mud: Don't Look Back in Anger

The mud. The mud was everywhere. Ottawa County, in 2002, was covered in mud.

The second Dick DeVos said not to "look back" in campaign ad... what was it... number 67 or so, well, I immediately decided that was my cue to start looking back. I figured the guilt was getting to Dick, causing him to subconsciously reveal his past transgressions into the "mud" of his own making.

And now, I'm really sorry I did. I can't believe what I found.

Did you think Hitler was bad? You are sorely mistaken my friend. Things can get worse. Much worse.

We are not talking evil dictators here.

We are talking... Sesame Street characters.

Yes, you heard me. Oscar the Grouch.

I know. It's shocking. I will give you a minute to collect yourself.

It is enough to make state Sen. Leon Stille a grouch.

An attack campaign flier featuring a mock-up of the disagreeable Sesame Street character Oscar the Grouch asks readers to "dump Sen. Stille."

"I've never seen anything that low, particularly in Ottawa County," the longtime legislator said. "Ottawa County is just not known for that kind of mudslinging. It's well below the belt."

Children wept. Men wandered the streets, dazed and inconsolable. The churches filled with people looking for answers to the horror that had befallen them.

Ottawa County had never experienced anything like this before. Who could be behind such an atrocity?

In the battle for the 89th District House seat, Betsy DeVos' Great Lakes Education Project paid for and mailed the flier against Stille. The flier recounts Stille's recent brush with the law for illegally dumping trash in a Spring Lake school Dumpster and criticizes Stille for accepting campaign funds from the Michigan Education Association.

Sen. Stille cleaned up his trash. Oscar the Grouch could not be reached for comment.

He was not charged for dumping the trash and worked cooperatively with the school to remove the items from the Dumpster. He apologized for the incident.

"I did something that I deserved to be called on, but I don't know what more I can do to correct it," Stille said.

Dumping trash in the dumpster, and he gets Oscar the Grouch from the DeVos'. Harsh.

Dick and Besty's GLEP had their hands in some other "muddy" puddles-

Mike Pumford and Al Gore as playground buddies?

That's how Betsy DeVos' school choice political action committee, Great Lakes Education Project, is portraying Pumford, the Newaygo Republican lawmaker, in a flier.

"Al Gore and M. Pumford have a plan for education in Michigan: Higher taxes. More spending. No accountability," the flier announces.

DeVos' PAC has endorsed Pumford's primary opponent, David Noble, in an effort to rid the GOP caucus of one of its charter schools' foes.

It even tags Pumford with a new name: Liberal M. Pumford.

That's news to Pumford, who has been endorsed by Right to Life, the NRA, Farm Bureau, Small Business Association of Michigan, numerous police associations and other conservative groups.

"If I'm like Al Gore, we have a whole Republican caucus that's like Al Gore," Pumford said. "Too bad they have to stoop to this level."

The PAC has singled Pumford out as captive of the Michigan Education Association.

A recent MEA letter urged members to vote for Pumford "even if you usually vote in the Democratic primary. Mike needs all of his friends to pull the lever for Pumford."

Targeting their enemies, targeting the MEA. Targeting other folks too, using their past indiscretions.

The GLEP also supported numerous other candidates with campaign funds and ads.

In the race for the 24th District Senate seat, Birkholz recently mailed a flier that cited Geiger's February arrest in Charlotte for drunk driving. He later pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of impaired driving.

Birkholz said she decided to go with the flier after members of her campaign committee and "several constituents" told her she had to answer "some of the lies" that she claims Geiger has been telling on the campaign trail.

Birkholz charged that her supporters are getting electronic phone calls from someone in Geiger's campaign criticizing Birkholz for her role in the firing in Mike Murray, a former aide to House Majority Floor Leader Bruce Patterson and husband of Jennifer Murray, Geiger's political consultant.

"We didn't campaign on it until my constituents said they're lying about you, and you aren't pointing out his record," she said.

But Joe Baumann, campaign manager for Geiger, said Geiger didn't know anything about the phone calls and didn't sanction them.

"We're not paying for them," he said.

The Barry County GOP was not amused.

The Barry County Republican Party put out a resolution condemning the Birkholz campaign for behavior that is "reprehensible and beneath the standards of fair campaigning, and is morally and politically unacceptable."

Barry County GOP Chairman Mark Englerth said his cell phone "rang so much I thought it would catch fire. People were outraged. It's disgusting."

He said the arrest record was not fair game, pointing out that Geiger had "apologized, took responsibility, didn't blame anybody else, was held accountable. The guy made a mistake in his life."

"What else do you want? Blood?"

It hasn't come to "blood" yet, but I wouldn't put anything past the DeVos family.

Ask Proctor & Gamble about the mud. They know first hand how nasty it can get.

But that's a story for another day.

Granholm creates online stem cell petition
I almost titled this "Truscott calls stem cells irrelevant", but I backed off.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Wednesday asked citizens to voice their support for easing restrictions on stem cell research in Michigan by signing an online petition.

The move was criticized by a spokesman for GOP gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos, who called it an "irrelevant political stunt."

"She's doing these online petitions to make it appear she's doing something, but they result in absolutely no action," said DeVos campaign spokesman John Truscott.

Well, John, WHY do they result in "no action"? Could it be that Republicans in Washington and Lansing REFUSE to listen to the overwhelming desire of the people? That they kowtow to the whims of the Radical Right and block legislation that could bring relief to millions who suffer from deadly disease? Not to mention the jobs and prosperity that such research would bring to our state?

So, why don't you tell us, John, why these things result in "no action". Perhaps you would care to explain to the public why your Party refuses to do anything on this issue that so many want to see go forward.

We are waiting.

Granholm campaign spokesman Chris De Witt said the stem cell petition is simply a way to enlist citizens to show the Republican-controlled Legislature that people want lawmakers to adopt a law easing restrictions on stem cell research.

The Democratic governor said in a news release that a growing number of families, researchers and education leaders support stem cell research, but Michigan continues to be hampered by a law that bans research on embryonic stem cells while allowing it on adult stem cells.

De Witt said the governor's petition, hosted on a state Web site, is not political.

"The issue of stem cell research is very important ... from a humanitarian standpoint for those who would benefit from the fruits of that research," De Witt said. "Only those with extreme views are opposed to this kind of research being done in Michigan. A large number of other states allow for this kind of research, and Michigan should not be left behind."

I love that she is doing this again in the face of the criticism the Pubs threw at her last time. Absolutely love it.

Earlier this year, Granholm asked motorists upset with high gasoline prices to sign an online petition urging President Bush to take action. She sent the signatures of 275,858 people to Bush in late May.

State GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis this month criticized the Granholm campaign for soliciting support from people who signed the gasoline petition. He asked Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land and Attorney General Mike Cox, both Republicans, to investigate whether it was proper for Granholm to contact signers by e-mail.

Yes, the Granholm people used the same list that the GOP had asked for first, but were too stupid to fill out the paperwork correctly.

The state Republican Party filed a FOIA request for the online petitions before the Granholm campaign.

GOP staff have filed three FOIA requests to the state seeking information from the petitions. After the second request, the party was provided the names of all signers, but not their e-mail addresses. Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd said she believed the state GOP will receive a computer disc containing the addresses in response to its third request.

The Granholm campaign apparently got the list faster because its FOIA request was more precise, Boyd said.

And the MI GOP was going to contact those signers by e-mail, to tell them that their privacy had been violated by being contacted by e-mail.

Wrap your head around that one.

Anderson said Republicans initially sought the names and addresses because they "suspected this was not about gas prices." She said Republicans may send out an electronic message to the gas-price petition signers when they get the list, but only to tell them "they've been used by the Granholm campaign."

So go sign the petition. Not only will you be doing the right thing for mankind, you will piss off Saul Anzuis. Two birds with one stone.

I wonder if we will see the day when initiatives/referendums can be done like this. After all, we voted in the last caucus by internet, could we make it secure enough to petition proposals?

Something to consider.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

EPIC MRA Poll: Granholm regains lead
Yeah, yeah, these numbers don't mean anything, but why do I suddenly feel so much better?

GRAND RAPIDS - A new poll released today shows Governor Jennifer Granholm has regained the lead over her presumed Republican challenger Dick Devos.

An EPIC-MRA poll, exclusive to 24 Hour News 8 in West Michigan, quizzed 600 voters this week.

They give Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm (47) a three-point lead over her presumed Republican opponent Dick Devos (44), with 9% undecided and a margin of error of 4%.

A poll taken just last month had DeVos up 46 - 44 percent over Granholm.

And when you mention Amway/Alticor?

What's interesting is the potential impact Alticor, the direct marketing business Dick DeVos once headed, may have on these and future numbers.

The new poll asked voters what they think of Alticor, and by a margin of 41 - 17, they had a negative view of the company. Additionally, 21 % of the respondents listed Alticor as a reason not to vote for DeVos. But 62 % say Alticor will not influence their decision.

Maybe the "use Amway" people are right- I think that since I grew up with it all around me, I don't consider it's impact as much as others do.

Some other numbers-

The poll showed 90% of those interviewed are "very certain to vote" in November's general election. Only 28% of the respondents said they believe Michigan is headed in the right direction, while 58% said we're on the wrong track.

Improving the economy and creating jobs was far and away the top issue for voters, overwhelming making health care affordable by a margin of 46-16.

George W. Bush did not fare well in the favorability question, with 53% having an unfavorable view of the president. Granholm and DeVos did better, with Granholm holding a 52-40 edge in favorability.

When asked to describe themselves, 42% of the respondents said they were Democrats, 40% said they were Republicans.

Love the favorables. That's a good sign.
First Direct Attack Ad on Granholm from DeVos:

Saw it just now.

Didn't catch it all, but it accused her of demagoguery, complained that her campaign (?) has been negative, used her picture (a first), showed a bunch of "press clippings" to back up his claims, and ended with a stern Dick saying "let's not get down in the mud", or something like that. The hypocrisy is stunning.

I hope like hell there is a strategy going on here, maybe give him enough rope to hang himself with...
Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union Convention Delegates Vote to Endorse Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm
Now that we are moving into a "service job" economy, I hope these guys grow stronger as the years go by. Someone has to fight for the people who make this country run.

ORLANDO, Fla., July 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union/UFCW, announced today that the delegates attending the union's 20th Quadrennial Convention in Orlando, Florida voted unanimously to support Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm's bid for re-election.

Stuart Appelbaum, President of the RWDSU, said, "Our union members will make sure that our enthusiastic support translates into something good for you and your campaign."

Governor Granholm addressed the RWDSU delegates via satellite. She was introduced by RWDSU Secretary-Treasurer Jack Wurm, Jr., a Michigan-native, who noted that the union supported Granholm four years ago believing that she was someone "whose energy and vision would set Michigan on a new course." Saying "history proved us right," Wurm applauded Granholm's track record of "launching a $6 billion economic plan to create new jobs, improve Michigan's schools, provide access to health care and prescription drug benefits for 300,000 Michigan residents, and raise the minimum wage."

Noting that implementing policies benefiting Michigan's working families hasn't been easy, Granholm said being a Democratic governor with a Republican- controlled legislature has made veto "my new favorite four-letter word." She urged RWDSU delegates to remember, when they go to the polls in November 2006, that "Governors can't do it alone" they need legislatures that don't fight their every policy initiative.

I have some favorite four-letter words I can teach you when it comes to our legislature- sometimes I even string a bunch of them together for a very colorful description. You probably couldn't use it in public though. ;-)
Senate passes interstate abortion bill
Any girl who is leaving the state to have this procedure has a DAMN GOOD reason.

This is an election year wedge issue bullshit bill for the red state fundie base and 14 Dems play right into their hands- giving them victories that will embolden them to keep pushing for more restrictions on women's rights.

Very, very pissed off this morning. Thank God for Dick Durbin.

WASHINGTON - An abortion bill aimed at stopping people from helping pregnant girls skirt parental-notification laws has gained passage in both houses of Congress, but sticky political and policy disputes stand between it and President Bush's desk.

Just moments after the Senate passed its version 65-34 late Tuesday — with the support of 14 Democrats — Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., used a procedural motion to halt its progress.

Moreover, there are significant differences between the Senate bill and the House version passed last year.

For his part, Bush urged Congress to resolve the differences and send him the bill.

"Transporting minors across state lines to bypass parental consent laws regarding abortion undermines state law and jeopardizes the lives of young women," he said in a statement.

Both bills are designed to make it a crime to help a pregnant girl cross state lines to get an abortion in an effort to evade parental notification and consent laws in her home state.

Fourteen Democrats and 51 Republicans voted for the bill. Four Republicans voted against it: Sens. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, Susan Collins of Maine, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., was absent.

Bowing to public support for parental notification and the GOP's 55-44-1 majority, Democrats spent the day trying to carve out an exemption for confidants to whom a girl with abusive parents might turn for help. It was rejected in floor negotiations.

Six states — Connecticut, Hawaii, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington — as well as the District of Columbia have no parental consent or notification laws. Legal challenges have blocked such laws in nine states: Alaska, California, Idaho, Illinois, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New Mexico.

No one knows how many girls get abortions in this way, or who helps them. But Democrats say the policy would be dangerous to pregnant teens who have abusive or neglectful parents by discouraging other people from helping them.

"We're going to sacrifice a lot of girls' lives," said Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

I don't know about "a lot" of lives, Hillary, but one is too many, don't ya think?

Here are the 14-

Bayh (D-IN)
Byrd (D-WV)
Carper (D-DE)
Conrad (D-ND)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reid (D-NV)
Salazar (D-CO)

Now, tell me again how it's OK to vote for anti-choice Dems because they will "stick with the Party" and support women over their personal feelings, because I really have my doubts at this point.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Another 5000 jobs from Granholm - roll out those orange barrels
This will make the orange barrel manufacturers happy.

You guys are going to make me go count all these job creation numbers up, aren't you. Do you know how much work that is going to be? 1,000 here, 400 and some there, another announcement every few days or so...

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced her administration is granting $44 million to help 47 counties and 49 cities obtain more than $279 million in federal funds which will be used to jump start 210 local road projects around Michigan.

The grant is expected to create nearly 5,000 jobs, including at least 2,100 in southeastern Michigan. According to Granholm, the program marks the first time state dollars are being used to fund city and county transportation projects.

"People don't care if the road they're driving on is a state, federal or local road - they just want it to be smooth and safe," Granholm said.

"We're putting people to work and making our roads work better. For the first time, we are investing state transportation dollars to create jobs and make improvements to local roads that support the economic development efforts of Michigan cities and counties."

Speaking of dog whistles to the right, I wonder why the Detroit News was the only organization (so far) that has mentioned this in print-

Granholm expects to announce additional funding later this year which will bring the grant total to $80 million. The governor said the grants were similar to efforts taken to stimulate the economy during the Great Depression by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

"We wanted to take a page from history, like FDR when he put the nation to work on its infrastructure through the Civilian Construction Corp and the Tennessee Valley Authority," Granholm said.

Yes, somewhere tonight that commie pinko FDR is smiling.

I am too. Take that, conservatives. You wanted jobs, you got 'em. I don't want to hear any complaints about where they came from.
SBT goes bye bye- grab your wallets, everyone
"Business" must be pretty nervous right now.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson's petition drive aimed at accelerating the repeal of Michigan's main business tax appears to have succeeded.

A review of petitions by the state Bureau of Elections, which was released Monday, estimates the drive collected nearly 292,000 signatures, well above the 254,206 needed to send the issue to the Legislature.

If certified as expected by the Board of State Canvassers on Friday, lawmakers will then have 40 days to approve the measure that would move up the expiration date for the state's Single Business Tax by two years to Dec. 31, 2007.

If the Legislature fails to act, the measure would go before voters in November.

But representatives for House Speaker Craig DeRoche, R-Novi, and Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, R-Wyoming, said Monday they expect to quickly win approval at the Capitol.

Will they act just as quickly to present a plan to replace it? Uncertainty is costing us at this point. From James Epolito, head of MEDC-

We do have issues to address. Uncertainty over a replacement for the Single Business Tax is now a greater concern than the SBT itself. I hear regularly that this is causing delays by businesses that wish to expand here. Gov. Granholm's leadership on this needs to be met with legislative action; the stalemate is costing us time, if not jobs and investment.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the campaign. Will Republicans gloat that they did an end-run around the Guv? Will Granholm hit them over the head with their irresponsible actions that are now creating this chaos? Will I make it through the next three months without going batshit insane watching these guys duke it out?

Stay tuned....

Monday, July 24, 2006

Truscott & DeVos on the economy: Single state illusion?

Time to play "whack a talking point" once again.

Over and over the DeVos people have implied that the country's economic condition is going great, oh boy, let's party, peaches and cream and the streets lined with gold for everybody else, it's only you people in Michigan that are suffering. This has been the main thrust of Dick's campaign: because he can't tell you his radical plans for our state, he will continue to hammer on our economy. To do this, they must leave the impression that only you are being deprived, everyone else in America is living the life of luxury.

Not true.

John Kerry was in Detroit to stump for Granholm yesterday, and he had a few things to say about the Bush administration and the outsourcing of manufacturing and other policies. Truscott, in response to the Senator's remarks, came up with this-

DeVos spokesman John Truscott said, "We expect them to continue their campaign of attacks and misinformation" and that Granholm is "welcome to bring in whoever she wants. It can't cover for the fact that Michigan is in a single-state recession. The rest of the country is doing just fine."

Neat trick. Or, a cheap trick, actually. Accuse your opponent of "misinformation" and in the next breath offer some "misinformation" of your own. It's so... oh, what's the word... Rovian.

Johnny is perpetuating a myth. The "economy" is too big of a subject to really tackle in a blog post, but here are just a few examples of the "Bush recovery" and how it has affected the country-

(first of all, a hat tip to bonddad at Kos for all his excellent economic work. If you need any figures on this economy, he has them. I owe him a huge debt of gratitude here because I'm not so good with the math-e-matics. Most of the information here has been complied by him, I threw a few other things in.)

Let's start with mortgage foreclosures-

RealtyTrac, a California organization that tracks foreclosed properties nationwide, found that the foreclosure rate in March of this year was up 63 percent compared with last year. The company's foreclosure data includes a variety of categories: homes that enter the foreclosure process, homes that are actually foreclosed on and homes that are returned to the banks.

And specifically, on defaults-

RealtyTrac, an industry organization that maintains a nationwide database of foreclosures, says mortgage defaults between January and March of this year numbered 323,102 compared with 188,122 during the same period last year -- an increase of 72 percent.

This is happening all over the country, not just Michigan. For more figures on housing nationwide, check his original diary here, and
indications are that this segment of the economy is starting to slow way down as interest rates rise. Trouble looms ahead if this is true-

Housing is responsible for a conservative 30% of establishment job creation since November 2001. According to a Merrill Lynch analysis, housing is responsible for about 50% of total US economic growth.

So much for your house, on to your bank account. If the economy is so wonderful in this country, why aren't you making more money?

Turns out your boss is getting rich. That trickle down will start any... second... now...

Median 2005 pay among chief executives running most of the nation's 100 largest companies soared 25% to $17.9 million, dwarfing the 3.1% average gain by typical American workers, USA TODAY found in its annual analysis of CEO pay.

Bonddad explains that the 3.1% gain is not what actually has happened for American workers.

Memo to the USA Today: Please adjust your figures for inflation.

Now...onto the show. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, non-supervisory wages (which represent about 80% of the population) increased from $15.88 in January 2005 to $16.35 in December of 2005 for an increase of 2.95%. Over the same period, the inflation figure increase from 190.7 to 196.8 for an increase of 3.1%. So using the BLS numbers gives non-supervisory employees a net decrease of .15 in wages and using the UA Today figure gives the average American an increase of 0. Wow, that's really impressive.

And as corporations are raking it in...

U.S. corporate profits have increased 21.3% in the past year and now account for the largest share of national income in 40 years, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

Strong productivity gains and subdued wage growth boosted before-tax profits to 11.6% of national income in the fourth quarter of 2005, the biggest share since the summer of 1966.

For all of 2005, before-tax profits totaled $1.35 trillion, up from $1.16 trillion in 2004 and just $767 billion in 2001.

... labor is getting stiffed.

Meanwhile, the share of national income going to wage and salary workers has fallen to 56.9%. Except for a brief period in 1997, that's the lowest share for labor income since 1966.

How do they keep wages down? They keep job growth down. Bush's job creation record is dismal.

Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley has labeled this recovery the jobless/wageless recovery. He has a strong point on both of these fronts. Bush's .6% compound annual growth rate for establishment jobs is still the weakest of any president in the last 40 years. The March labor participation rate was 66.1%, which is near the low range of the 1990s recovery. This indicates a large percentage of people are simply sitting on the sidelines. Barring an economic miracle, this trend of weak establishment job growth is already set in stone.

Low unemployment numbers have not increased wages, as is usually the case. Remember the late 90's?

According to standard economic analysis, a 5% unemployment rate is full employment. At that level of unemployment - so the conventional thinking goes - companies will have to increase wages to attract employees from a dwindling supply of labor. However, that hasn't happened. Companies don't feel compelled to offer wage increases beyond inflation. This indicates the economy is probably not at full employment.

Back at home, for most Americans personal debt is soaring as savings are being depleted.

Domestic household debt grew 11.6% in the first quarter of 2006. Since 2003, growth of household debt has increased over 11% each year. In November 2001, at the beginning of this expansion, total household debt was $7,568.1 trillion or 74% of GDP. In the first quarter of 2006, total household debt was $11,840 trillion or 91% of GDP. That's a compound annual growth rate of 11.10%. Mortgage related debt increased from $4,871.9 trillion to $8978.3 trillion over the same period, making this increase responsible for 87% of the increase in total household debt.

At the same time, personal savings was negative - again. This time the figure came in at (-)$119.8 billion. This is the fourth consecutive quarter of negative savings. At the same time, undistributed corporate profits were $606.3 billion - a three-fold increase since 2001's figure of $192.3 billion. In other words, corporations are saving a ton of cash.

As far as "doing fine" in the big picture goes -seems it has been a "credit card recovery", for both the country and it's citizens. The Bush administration has borrowed record amounts of money, driving the national debt to it's highest level ever and forcing us to raise the debt ceiling four times in the past five years.

Like many cash-strapped Americans who have maxed-out credit cards, the federal government has hit its limit for borrowing funds to keep operating. If the limit isn't raised, the government likely will run out of borrowing authority within days, risking a shutdown.

When President Bush took office five years ago, the national debt was at $5.6 trillion; since then, big budget surpluses have collapsed into huge deficits, and the debt has shot up nearly 50 percent.

Borrow a boatload of money and call it a recovery. Sounds like a plan! Maybe no one will notice.

Oops! Looks like they did. According to a FOX news poll in April, 72% of the country thinks the economy is fair to poor, and a recent poll by the Washington Post/ABC News put the economy second to the Iraq war as being the voter's main concern, with 61% of the respondents disapproving of the way Bush is handling the economy.

How can that be? Is this what Truscott means when he says, "the rest of the country is doing fine?" Why are people so concerned if that is true?

Now all DeVos has to do is convince Michigan residents that the Bush economic plan is working everywhere so he can do the same thing here: cut taxes on the rich, increase corporate profits and stop wage growth, bleed the average citizen dry, and don't forget about cutting off the poor from any sort of assistance as poverty and the homeless and the uninsured numbers keep increasing.

After all, when all is said and done, after he takes us down this path and destroys the state, he can then turn around and blame Granholm for his failures, just like the Bush people blamed Clinton. The script almost writes itself sometimes.
Whitecaps - Back-to-back home runs lead comeback win
Yesterday was the kind of day I spent all last winter dreaming about. Sunny, puffy white clouds in the sky, nice breeze, temperature was perfect... if I could freeze time, I would have stopped it right there and stayed forever.

But I cannot. The world still turns, and here I am this morning fighting the urge to start a huge flame war, and I can feel the tension headache starting already.

No. Not gonna do it. Back to peace...

Will Rhymes breaks up a double play.

COMSTOCK PARK – For the second day in a row, the Whitecaps recovered from an early 4-0 deficit and rallied to beat Dayton, 6-5. The win completes the fourth four game sweep by the Whitecaps this season.

Jeramy Laster and Cory Middleton hit back-to-back home runs in the second inning to erase the four run deficit and tie the game, 4-4. Laster’s blast was his sixth of the year and a three-run shot disputed as a foul ball by Dayton catcher Craig Tatum and manager Bill Gardner, Jr.

Matt Joyce put West Michigan in front, 5-4 with an RBI double to drive in Pedro Cotto in the fifth. Mike Hernandez added an insurance run with a single later in the inning to drive in Joyce.

Josh Rainwater survived a rocky start to pitch through the sixth inning and earn the win for the Whitecaps. Rainwater allowed four runs, but only one was earned as the Whitecaps committed a season-high four errors in the game.

I was taking a panorama shot during Laster's home run, so I didn't see where the ball went. I do have his swing as the final picture- I will work on it and try to get it up here. Panoramas are tough when you aren't using a tripod- it's hard to keep your head level as you sweep from left to right, and usually the angle will be a little bit off. The computer chokes and can't stitch it together right. The perspective is also a bit strange as it's hard to flatten a 180 degree view. When I get time I will play with it.

Cameron Maybin gets picked off of 1st base.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Daily Kos: What Did You Expect, America?
This theme needs to repeated over and over this election year, and I would love to see it mentioned here in Michigan in regards to DeVos. People need to realize this is exactly what will we get if he is elected.

Go read the whole thing.

In electing Republicans, America, you put people in charge of institutions they overtly, caustically loathe and proudly proclaim should not exist. Good thinking, USA, and stellar results: Katrina, Iraq, Medicare D, trade and budget deficits, mine disasters and on and on and on and ...

Conservatives have declared officially for decades that they hate public programs and love private business. Why then, do Americans profess shock when these same people run the public credit card up to bunker-busting levels to line the pockets of friendly corporations, leaving taxpayers - current and the as-yet unborn - the bill? It's the dine and ditch mentality writ large, and American citizens are the unfortunate waiters having their lowly pay docked to cover the deadbeat loss - and their future grandchildren's pay docked as well.

We are witnessing an orchestrated, unprecedented transfer of public wealth to private pockets, a national one-party feeding frenzy that's making beggars and beseechers of us all, and yet many Americans stand around muttering in a daze of semi-apathetic befuddlement about gosh darn how did all this come to be and how sure as shit, uh-huh, those Republicans shore were right, government doesn't do a the little guy a damn bit of good, no sirree bob. Better drown it some more. Cut them taxes, privatize something, anything, pronto!

Kee-rist on a pogo stick.

If you put people in charge of running a project they are ideologically committed to proving a failure, it will fail.

Dick says we need to "overhaul state government". That statement- those three words right there- should tell you how he feels about "government" as it currently exists, never mind all the money he has thrown at conservative think tanks dedicated to promoting the "drown government" agenda.

What further proof do we need? Total destruction?
Granholm Opens Campaign Office in Grand Rapids
Very close to my house. Sorry I missed it, but looking at the video- it appears they had a good turnout.

GRAND RAPIDS - Governor Granholm made a stop in Grand Rapids Saturday to open up her campaign office.

The office is located on Cherry Street between Diamond and Eastern.

While in town, Granholm continued to push her accomplishments in bringing jobs to Michigan.

"We have set this plan in motion and we are starting to see that it's beginning to work," said Governor Granholm. "The fact that we were able to attract Google to Michigan is a sign that we have set the right plan in motion, we need to finish the job."

Republican candidate Dick DeVos has had a campaign office set up in the area for almost a year.

It's located on Kenmore just off of Cascade Road.

Really? Right next to Graceland Cemetery. Think I'll drive by and flip him the bird next time I bring a rose out to Kristin. I'm sure she (Kristin, that is) would approve. Matter of fact, she probably would insist...

Every little bit helps, right? ;-)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

US rushes precision-guided bombs to Israel
Of course. It's not like they were picking them up at the 7-11.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, The New York Times reported on Saturday.

Citing U.S. officials who spoke on Friday on condition of anonymity, the Times said the decision to ship the weapons quickly came after relatively little debate within the administration, and noted in its report that its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others who could perceive Washington as aiding Israel in the manner that Iran has armed Hezbollah.

The munitions are actually part of a multimillion-dollar arms-sale package approved last year which Israel is able to tap when it needs to, the officials told the Times. But some military officers said the request for expedited delivery was unusual and indicated that Israel has many targets it plans to hit in Lebanon.

This will please the right-wing loons that are calling for WWIII. Once again I find myself agreeing with the "voice of sanity", Pat Buchanan, when he says-

Are these people nuts? You've got to ask yourself. I certainly hope the president is not listening to them because I really question whether they've got America's national interest at heart. They're calling for wars against people that never attacked us. I don't care how bad they are. There are wicked people all over this world but you don't go after people unless they come after you.

Me and Pat- I've got this weird "thing" goin' on with Pat.... ah, it would take too long to explain. Never mind. Just heed his words. This is some serious shit.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Governor Jennifer Granholm Named NASW Public Elected Official of the Year
Very nice.

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is pleased to name Governor Jennifer Granholm the 2006 Public Elected Official of the Year honoring her dedication to improving the areas of concern for the social work profession for the citizens of Michigan.

Since her election in November 2002 as the first female governor of Michigan, Gov. Granholm has made a public commitment to improving the quality of life in Michigan communities, protecting the most vulnerable populations and addressing social issues in a way that strengthens the state.

“Through her unique leadership, Gov. Granholm has focused on children and families as a priority for her administration,” says Dr. Elizabeth Clark, NASW executive director. “She has ensured that the social safety net is in tact in Michigan, while bolstering health care and educational opportunities.”

Gov. Granholm fought to protect vital support for poor families by vetoing a 4-year time limit for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), ensuring this critical support for those in need.

In order to promote and strengthen early childhood development in Michigan, she formed the Early Childhood Investment Corporation to support early childhood development and to increase licensing requirements in day care.

Gov. Granholm has expanded health care coverage to uninsured Michiganians and has enrolled tens of thousands of children for health insurance through the Healthy Kids and MiCHILD programs. Additionally, she initiated the development of the Mental Health Commission to rebuild the state’s mental health system.

And speaking of mental health, yesterday she signed a bill encouraging Michigan schools to set up suicide prevention programs for kids. This is a subject that hits a little too close to home for me and I really don't have the energy to get into it right now, all I can say is- I wish it was mandatory.
BRIGHTON -- Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed a bill this morning encouraging Michigan school districts to provide information to students and parents about depression and suicide.

Whether districts will voluntarily participate in suicide prevention programs remains to be seen.

The law is named after Chase Edwards, a 12-year-old Brighton boy who committed suicide in 2003. His parents, Jeff and Laura Edwards, worked with state Rep. Chris Ward, R-Brighton, to get the legislation passed.


Nationwide, suicide is the third-leading cause of death, behind accidents and cancer, for children ages 10-14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Michigan, 11 youths ages 5 to 14 died by suicide in 2004, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health. In the same year, 138 people ages 15 to 24 committed suicide, which increased from the previous year's number of 120 deaths, according to the department.

Some officials, including Brighton's former superintendent, have been critical of adding more instruction to already overloaded teachers. Others believe the topic is too sensitive for schools to discuss.

The new law doesn't mandate districts teach the topic, although it requires the Michigan Department of Education to provide a model program and materials on suicide prevention. The state Department of Education has given its support to the bill.

I don't know what moron thinks this topic is "too sensitive to discuss". Better that the kid just kills himself? We can jump up and down about steroids, but the third leading cause of death in kids is taboo?

I just hope school districts can find the money to adopt this type of program. It will save lives.
Whitecaps- Eighth inning rally trumps blown lead in Whitecaps win

Whitecaps pitcher Burke Badenhop. Burke pitched his heart out only to have Claggett steal the win.

COMSTOCK PARK – Mark Haske and Jeramy Laster delivered back-to-back two out RBI’s in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Whitecaps broke a 2-2 tie on the way to a 4-2 victory over Dayton.

Burke Badenhop pitched 6.2 innings for West Michigan and left the game with a 2-0 lead, a runner at first and two out in the top of the seventh. Anthony Claggett came on in relief and for the second time in eight days blew a save.

Claggett allowed an RBI double by Craig Tatum and a game-tying single by Bobby Mosby. The right hander has allowed three runs since last Wednesday after allowing two runs total in the first 13 weeks of the season.

Cameron Maybin scored two of the Whitecaps runs, including the tally that put the Whitecaps in front in the eighth.

Claggett wound up earning the win and Orlando Perdomo picked up his 21st save for the Whitecaps, even though he allowed Dayton to load the bases with one out in the ninth.

Here is catcher Dusty Ryan. The Tigers have drafted some great catchers in the past few years- it will be interesting to see who makes it to the bigs. I'm still rooting for Mike Rabelo (who just made the jump to Toledo- go Mike!), although Ryan has great potential, too.

World's smallest violin plays just for Brooks
Can you hear it? I can.

PONTIAC -- Thirteen years after sweeping into power, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson's ironclad grip on county politics may be loosening.

A vocal, determined group of Democrats on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners has been making life difficult these days for the outspoken executive, who is accustomed to getting his way with the GOP-controlled board. The Democrats held up a school contract for kids at the county's juvenile detention center in June, pushed for a county park in Oakland's southeast end, and are girding for a fight over plans to possibly close or privatize the county's nursing home.

"Our responsibility is to ask questions," said Commissioner Mattie Hatchett, D-Pontiac, during a heated committee meeting in June. "We are supposed to be a checks and balance for the executive branch and not rubber stamp things."

Patterson dismisses the faction as political grandstanders.

Some Democrats "will challenge, ridicule, undermine any proposal put forth by this administration," he said. "Not because it isn't a quality proposal, but because this is a Republican administration. And I resent it."

Karma is a bitch. Poor Brooks.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Aravosis nails the Lamont/Lieberman issue
I (heart) John Aravosis. Although he has a tendency to go off on a tangent here and there (and who doesn't?), for the most part he is right on the money. This is one of those times.

If Lamont wins the primary, and Lieberman runs as an independent, it's going to tear the Democratic party and the grassroots apart. The blogs will, understandably, spend full time helping Lamont, bashing Lieberman, and flailing the party for not doing enough to help Lamont (or worse, for helping Lieberman). The last thing we need is a major war erupting among Democrats leading into the November elections. I'd like to spend my time, I'd like to see all the progressive blogs devoting their time, to helping defeat Republicans, rather than worrying about some guy who lost his primary and now can't take his toys and go home like a good loser. But that isn't going to happen unless the Democratic party, unless Democratic leaders in the Senate, step up to the plate here.

The party needs to tell Joe Lieberman, under no uncertain terms, that if he loses his primary he needs to bow out of the race. Otherwise, there will be open war between the blogs, the netroots and the Democratic party for the next four months. Rather than channeling those resources into defeating Republicans, we will be channeling those resources into fighting amongst ourselves. But the Democratic party can avoid this scenario, if it chooses. The Dems need to make it clear to Lieberman that if he loses the primary, he's out of here.

I'm not saying that I want to see open warfare in the party, I'm saying I see open warfare coming with 100% certainty. It's up to the party to head it off at the pass.

I have been very discouraged and disheartened over all the attention paid to this race- and it is starting to spill over onto other politicians and distract from other important races.

When you have "progressive" people dissin' Barbara Boxer, you know you have a problem. I hope for the sake of the party Joe can put his ego aside if he does lose- it could cost us a lot more than one Senate seat if we turn our guns on each other.

It's all going to blow up over Hillary anyway. Let's wait until 2007 to have this fight; we need to stop the Republicans now.
DeVos & the Environment- Speaking in code
George Weeks had a short column in the Escanaba Daily Press about the environment and the governor's race. While he didn't get into much detail, there have been a few instances where Dick and Saul are using the far-right's talking points lately. Be on the lookout for them in the future- they use this "code" to justify forcing their destructive agenda, whether it be limiting civil rights or destroying the environment in the name of big business dollars or the ever-popular term "creating jobs".

Think "activist judges".

TRAVERSE CITY — They fall far short of making the environment and natural resources front burner issues of Campaign ‘06, but actions and proposals of current candidates are inching along the greening of Michigan politics that got a flickering start in the 1970s.

“I will be a steward of Michigan’s precious environment,” businessman Dick DeVos, Republican challenger of Gov. Jennifer Granholm, said in a vow to protect natural resources “unmatched in the nation and around the world” that is in his 64-page Michigan TurnAround Plan which he trumpets in his statewide TV ads.

But environmental vows don’t make it into his ads (latest estimated cost: nearly $10 million)—nor into those that the Democratic State Party has so far spent an estimated $3 million on to tout Granholm.

DeVos in his printed plan says “we can protect the environment and create jobs at the same time”—but that thought doesn’t work into a 30-second spot crafted around his credentials as a job-creator.

Not surprisingly, given what voters tell pollsters about their priorities, each side uses its TV dollars to emphasize spurring the economy, not saving the environment.

On Friday, DeVos spokesman John Truscott said DeVos will have a more specific environmental agenda, and Granholm Press Secretary Liz Boyd said her boss will build on “her exceptional record “ on such issues.

She does have a great record on this issue. It's too bad more people don't pay attention to her environmental record- she has done a great deal to protect our beautiful state and it's waters. Just this week she attended a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Michigan National Trust Fund, the program started by William Milliken to help fund land acquisition and public outdoor recreation projects, and announced that the state will work on expanding and improving our trail system. Little things like that add up to a quality of life that our state needs to be attractive to tourists and businesses alike.

But turning back to the words Dick DeVos in an attempt to gather clues as to what he would do in regards to our natural resources- he has already used the term "environmental extremist" in a speech to the Detroit Economic Club- unfortunately, again, they didn't go into much detail. Since we don't see members of ELF blowing up SUVs in Michigan, it's hard to tell what "extremists" Dick is alluding to when he uses that term.

In truth, he really doesn't have to explain. These words are like a dog whistle to the highly-tuned ears on the right.

Reiterating his support for abolishing the Single Business Tax by next year, DeVos said he would replace it with a tax on corporate profits or gross receipts.

He said business expansion is impeded by "overzealous bureaucrats and environmental extremists."

"Environmental extremist" is now a talking point for "They won't let us pollute the air and water for profit". It is been used extensively when it comes to describing ANWR, Kyoto, Al Gore, or any other group or person who attempts to protect the Earth from destruction. Countless examples abound on the use of these words- from O'Reilly, to Hannity, to Limbaugh, to any number of talking head "conservatives" who serve only the far-right agenda.

Never one to be left out of the party, Saul Anuzis used a variation of the term this week in Traverse City.

The state's tax and regulatory climate must change in order to bring more jobs back to the state, Anuzis said. He added that Granholm's business policies are swayed by "radical" environmental and union special interest groups.

So, who are these "extremists" and "radicals" that Dick and Saul are talking about? My guess is they are a figment of their imagination, driven by the incessant need to parrot the "code" of the right and clue in those who follow FOX News and the Limbaugh's of the world. It's a wink and a nod to the people that believe that liberals and Democrats are to blame for all their problems.

Watch for the talking points in Dick's words. They are subtle, but they are there. He reveals himself every time he speaks.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

$26.7 Million investment coming to 3 Michigan communities
Isn't it time for a "jobs clock" of our own?

I don't know if the MIGOP is still using theirs (last I heard it was damaged), but almost every single day I see a story like this. It would be nice to see a running total somewhere.

Governor Granholm announced Wednesday that underutilized properties in Grand Rapids, Manistee and Traverse City will be transformed into new housing, retail, commercial and office space at a cost of $26.7 Million.

The Governor says the projects will create more than 80 new jobs and revitalize communities.

"Making our communities attractive places to work and live is critical to growing Michigan's economy," Granholm said. "These projects will revitalize underused sites to draw new investments, jobs and people into these three communities."

The projects are being backed by brownfield redevelopment assistance from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

A total of 7 economic development projects are in the works. In all, they are expected to create and retain a total of 1,666 Michigan jobs.

More help coming to Heartside, including some affordable housing for the disabled. Good deal- the area is becoming pretty upscale, and I worry about the people already there being forced out of that neighborhood.
KBC Limited Dividend Housing Association LP, Grand Rapids: State and local tax capture valued at $385,000 will help make way for the redevelopment of a vacant lot at 40 and 60 South Division Avenue in the city's Heartside Historic District, a Cool City Neighborhood designee. The $16.7-million mixed-use development will include two live/work apartments with attached studio space, 15,375 square feet of commercial space, 116 affordable housing units with supportive services for mentally and developmentally disabled residents and a parking structure. The project is expected to create 11 new jobs.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Message from the Feed the Governor Foundation:

Meet Jennifer.

Unlike that other gubernatorial candidate, Jennifer can’t afford to buy all the airtime that she needs to have a competitive campaign. While the other guy is buying all his ads during the highest rated television shows, Jennifer is stuck purchasing slots during “Michigan Farm Report” at 6:30 AM Sunday mornings. Without your dollars, Jennifer’s message to end tyranny and oppression in our lifetime might not get on the air at all! Won’t you please help?

While others can afford to have super-stick glue on the back of their bumper stickers, Jennifer is being forced to use scotch tape- tape that will need to be replaced every time it rains! If you act today, you can help Jennifer buy some glue so her name can be seen speeding down the highway just like all the other candidates for office, both big and small!

Without your generous donation, Jennifer might have to write her own campaign signs by hand with giant magic markers. The consequences of that would be catastrophic- picture Jennifer wearing an arm brace after she gets carpal tunnel syndrome. Holding a microphone could become nearly impossible! Think of how horrible that would be!

And the sad truth is, Jennifer just might run out of money right there on the campaign trail, perhaps driving up to an event in Alpena or Traverse City, forcing her to hitchhike on the Michigan back roads or maybe even go without lunch. Don’t leave Jennifer on the side of the road, hungry and tired with her thumb sticking out in the air! Help out today!

Imagine! For only $2.37 a day from now until November, you can help Jennifer have the quality of campaign that every candidate deserves. So many of us take it for granted that our politicians have enough to get by- in reality some of them can barely afford to buy a decent set of clothes to wear for their photo shoots or even have their teeth bleached. It’s tragic, but it’s the hard truth of today’s expensive political world.

Act now! Help put a smile on Jennifer’s face. You’ll be glad you did.

(In all seriousness, the July 23rd deadline is fast approaching. For all those that complain about a lack of campaign from Granholm, consider these numbers- Hillary Clinton, probably the heaviest hitter in Democratic fundraising, has a reported $22 million in her war chest. Dick DeVos has now spent $10 million. He has gone into overdrive in my market, both on TV and radio. Dick at this point has spent almost half of Hillary numbers, and it's only July. Imagine what he will do when Granholm goes on the air.

Give. Give today. Give all you can. Your state is on the line.)
Granholm, 7 others urge passage of stem cell research bill
Americans support this legislation by a 2-1 margin, so naturally George Bush will use his veto pen for the first time just to appease his Radical Right base.

Further proof that he is the Worst. President. Ever.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Tom Vilsack and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm joined six other Democratic governors in urging the Senate to overturn President Bush's restrictions on stem cell research.

"Stem cell research holds the potential to cure some of humanity's oldest and deadliest diseases — from Parkinson's to Alzheimer's to multiple sclerosis and cancer," said a letter the governors sent Monday night to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

The Senate voted Tuesday after two days of emotional debate to expand federal funding of embryonic stem cell research and sent the measure to President Bush for a promised veto, the first of his presidency.

The bill passed 63-37, four votes short of the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override Bush's veto. The president left little doubt he would reject the bill despite late appeals on its behalf from fellow Republicans Nancy Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Granholm and her gang of Dem governors sent the Prez a letter, but sometimes I wonder why they even bother. If Reagan and Schwarzenegger can't get through to him, there is no way a bunch of blue-staters will. If anything, he will smile a little wider knowing that he pissed them off.

"Every day thousands of families in our states struggle as a loved one suffers from juvenile diabetes, spinal cord injuries and other conditions that might be cured if the president's restrictions are lifted," the letter said. "The Senate has a vital opportunity this week to do the right thing so science can go forward. That opportunity must not be squandered."

In addition to the joint letter, Granholm sent a separate letter of her own to Bush.

"If our nation is serious about improving both the cost and quality of health care, we must tap the full power of modern science to combat life-threatening illnesses in an ethically responsible manner," Granholm wrote. "The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act enables our nations researchers to do just that."

Granholm has called on the Michigan Legislature to end the state's ban on embryonic stem cell research.

Ah yes, and turning to own our band of wingnuts here in Michigan, it seems that the legislature in Lansing is beholden to the Michigan Right to Life and costing our state plenty. At a time when we need to diversify our economy, we are chained by archaic laws as other states move ahead.

These guys have to go. From Phil Power-

But one big one is the seeming total inability of our elected legislators to do something — anything — competent. As proof, consider how ideological idiocy in Lansing is frustrating progress in a promising area for our economy, not to mention the human race: Stem cell research.

Stem cells are generic cells capable of developing into various kinds of more specialized cells. Stem cells taken from very early human embryos can quickly differentiate into various types of tissue, such as blood, skin or nerves. Virtually every scientist in the country agrees that research using stem cells could produce breakthroughs in treating so far untreatable ailments such as Parkinson's Disease.

Lots of states are vigorously pursuing research into embryonic stem cells. California, for example, recently passed a state ballot proposal allocating $3 billion to stem cell research.

Not surprisingly, this has led lots of very able scientists to move to California to pursue this work.

Wouldn't it make sense for Michigan, with our network of excellent hospitals and research universities, to do the same?

It's OK to throw them away, just don't use them to save lives or anything silly like that.

These are stem cells from nearly microscopic embryos from fertility clinics. If they aren't used for potentially life-saving research, they are washed down the drain. According to University of Michigan professor and stem cell biologist Sean Morrison, fertility clinics discard unused tiny human embryos all the time.

"It's legal in Michigan to discard human embryos," Professor Morrison, who heads stem cell research in this state, told me, "but it's illegal to use them for medical research to help cure disease."

The cost to all of us is steep. Morrison pointed out that Michigan is losing out on research projects because funders are scared of our laws. "The state of Illinois is funding research projects there that we would go to jail for trying here in Michigan. Our laws are some of the most restrictive in the world, far tighter than federal law and equaled only by South Dakota."

It's costing us money, jobs and talented scientists as they flee to other states where this is allowed. Gee, why are those young people leaving again?
The silliness of the present law is compounded by the negative effect all this is having on our economic future. According to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), more than $2 billion is invested annually in life sciences research and development in Michigan. The industry produces $4.8 billion in sales and is one of the few rapidly growing sectors in our economy.

Indeed, the MEDC says the State of Michigan has over the last four years invested $178 million in growing the Life Sciences Corridor running from Wayne State University through the U-M and Michigan State University to the Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids.

So on the one hand we have a rapidly developing scientific field that is terribly important for the health of every citizen, one in which there is great talent at our research universities and has proven to be one of the few bright spots in our economy.

And on the other hand we are suffering under a disco-era law that prohibits exactly the kind of research that needs to be done.


Even in a city as gripped by partisan deadlock as Lansing, don't we have the right to expect our lawmakers to break free of ideology and find a common-sense way to allow our scientists to do the kind of research that an overwhelming majority of people want and need? Especially, that is, when that research would also be a shot in the arm for our troubled economy.

If our legislature doesn't step up to the task, it may be time for all of us to move beyond pessimism ... to outright anger.

Time for us to move our feet to the ballot box and throw out the extremists. Lansing needs a change, and it ain't the Governor that needs changin'.