Thursday, November 30, 2006

One last shot...



...of the beach. Kiss it goodbye.





Until next year...

Meet the MBT: Let the spin begin


Tom Walsh at the Freep has a concise story on this. Kathy Barks Hoffman provides a more detailed write up. The Lansing State Journal comes up with a great editorial. All worth a read.



I'm going to riff off of Walsh. He had the best line. See if you can spot it.



Call it Gov. Jennifer Granholm's almost-excellent plan for a Michigan Business Tax to replace the hated Single Business Tax.



And call state lawmakers a bunch of slackers and crybabies if they don't agree on a business tax replacement for the SBT next month in their lame-duck session.



Problem is, it's a pretty significant almost that keeps Granholm's plan from being a slam dunk -- and may provide Republican legislators, still smarting from losses in November's election, an opportunity to keep aggravating the Democratic governor.


Then we go after them. If all they want to do is aggravate, doesn't it become obvious (again) that they only serve their special interests and not Michigan as a whole?



The significant "almost"-



A big chunk of the $2.4 billion in annual Michigan Business Tax revenue -- about 43% of it -- would come from a 0.125% tax on the assets of a business, ranging from its cash to its buildings to accounts receivable and such ethereal valuables as amortizable intangible assets. These might be trademarks, copyrights, customer lists and other things that have a finite lifespan but that many companies carry on their balance sheets as "goodwill," an intangible asset not taxable under the proposed MBT.



-snip-



And if a company's foreign assets are exempt from the MBT -- as they would be under the Granholm plan -- would this provide an incentive for a company to move assets overseas? We certainly don't need more of that.


Seems to me I remember Levin addressing this at the federal level back in August, perhaps with help from Washington (snicker) that concern will be abated. As far as hiding assets here, well, that is definitely something to consider.



Patrick Anderson is the Republican go-to guy for all things economic, cited many times by the conservatives as they push their slash and burn policies, and even he likes this plan. Whether that is cause for rejoicing or concern remains to be seen, but it might be a good sign.



East Lansing economist Patrick Anderson of Anderson Economic Group praised the plan overall.



"This is a clever approach at recreating the original benefits of a Single Business Tax, which was a very low rate and a broad base, and it would have relatively smaller disincentive effects on investment and employment in Michigan," he said.



Sikkema wants this done. He has a legacy to think about.



Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, R-Wyoming, said he is reserving judgment on the governor's proposal but called it "a serious and credible plan that deserves immediate review."



He added that he'd like to see the personal property tax on equipment eliminated or phased out, something other GOP lawmakers echoed Wednesday afternoon during a Senate Finance Committee meeting where the plan was discussed.


DeRoche is being cagey. He is the one to watch- the puppet of the insurance companies and the "more tax cuts" crowd.



House Speaker Craig DeRoche, R-Novi, has pushed for a sizable cut in business tax revenue. He said he planned to look at the governor's plan with an open mind, but said, "For me, the priority will be reform, not revenue for the government."



Nancy Cassis seems to think it's not going to happen this year.



Sen. Nancy Cassis, R-Novi, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee that will consider the five-bill package, added: "We are more together than we are apart." Cassis said it's "possible but not probable" for lawmakers to approve a new business tax scheme by year's end.



Rick Albin seems to think there should be some horse-trading involved. Sounds like extortion.



It may not be so much about the plan - which Republicans say addressed many of the problems they had with the governor's first offering - but rather what she is willing to give up in exchange.



Teacher pensions and insurance, or welfare reform, for example, could be bargaining chips.



The question many are asking in Lansing may well be - do you want to make a deal?



Let's see, Granholm has presented two plans in two years. Republicans nixed the original plan last year. Republicans promised to work on the plan this year, they did not. Republicans then promised to work on the plan "after the election", and then tried to back out, saying it shouldn't be done in such a short period of time. Here is a plan that is being praised- and they want to "make a deal"? Are you kidding me?



Walsh had it right when he said "slackers and crybabies". If they refuse this without coming to the table with an alternative, or telling us what programs they would cut, they deserve all the scorn we can throw at them. Enough is enough.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Frist will not seek presidency in 2008

Damn! I had all kinds of jokes lined up for Bill. Why is it the fun ones always drop out?

WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist will not run for president in 2008, Republican officials said Wednesday, as the field of White House contenders continued to shrink more than a year before the first convention delegates are chosen.



Frist's formal announcement was expected later in the day.



His decision caps a 12-year stint in electoral politics in which he rose from an underdog in his 1994 Senate campaign to the position of majority leader a mere eight years later.


Guess I'll have to concentrate on Brownback now. *sigh*



Two years out and I'm bored already.

Medical marijuana bill dies

Our legislators have no desire to ease the suffering of sick people. That has been made pretty clear by their refusal to address stem cell research, so denying this bill should come as no surprise.



Must we do everything by ballot proposal?



LANSING -- A bill to allow people with "debilitating medical conditions" to legally use marijuana to ease their symptoms died in the Michigan Legislature on Tuesday, and backers say the issue will likely be left up to voters to decide.



Following an often emotional, 90-minute hearing before a state House committee, the panel broke without taking a vote. It was the first and only hearing on the legislation, introduced a year ago.



The inaction means the bill will have to be reintroduced in a new session in January.



Supporters of the legislation, many battling diseases, packed the standing-room-only hearing room wearing red buttons that said: "Stop arresting patients for medical marijuana."


Other states have made progress, but they also had to take it to the ballot box.



Eleven states -- Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington -- have adopted laws to provide pot for patients with cancer, glaucoma, AIDS and other serious medical conditions.



Most laws were put on the books by a vote of the people, not legislative action.


This proposal is coming to Michigan for 2008, provided they can collect enough signatures. Along with medical, the proposal calls for decriminalization on personal use. That, of course, would be the smart thing to do, but it might just mobilize the Reefer Madness crowd into a frenzy.



Michigan residents could legally use marijuana on private property for recreational or medical purposes under a measure proposed for the 2008 statewide ballot.



The Board of State Canvassers on Monday approved the form of a legislative petition proposed by Medical and Recreational Peace, an Eaton Rapids-based group backing the proposal.



The measure would make it legal for those 18 and older to use marijuana on private property. Those found using the drug in public would be guilty of a civil infraction punishable by a $50 fine.



The measure also would allow people to grow marijuana at their residences.
Medical and Recreational Peace must gather about 304,000 valid petition signatures over a six-month period to get on the November 2008 ballot.


They flew in an "expert" from Washington for the medical bill, what do you think they will do for recreational use?



Scott Burns, the deputy White House drug czar, flew in from Washington to oppose the bill.



He said the Food and Drug Administration, which for the last century has had the role of testing and approving new medications, has determined that marijuana "does not meet existing standards of safety and efficacy for modern medication."



Burns said legalized marijuana would send a confusing signal to the nation's youth.


Uh huh. Here we go again.



How long will it take until they realize that Prohibition doesn't work?

Governor's business tax plan to lower rates

Annnnnnd they're off! I hope they came up with a different name. I never want to hear "SBT" again.



LANSING, Mich. - Michigan businesses would see their overall tax rate drop to what the Granholm administration says is the nation's lowest under a new tax plan the administration plans to release Wednesday, The Associated Press has learned.



Businesses would be taxed at one rate - 0.125 percent - on their gross receipts and assets, while profits would be taxed at a rate of 1.875 percent, according to two of the people who were briefed on the plan by administration officials. Both spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the plan had not yet been released.



Unlike the current Single Business Tax, the new tax wouldn't include payroll or benefits such as health insurance in calculating what's due.



It's designed to bring in the same amount of tax revenue that businesses now pay, but it lowers the tax rate and broadens the base. Businesses with $350,000 or less in gross receipts wouldn't have to file, the same as under the SBT.


The Detroit News has the best breakdown on the plan.



Big winners in the redrawn tax scheme would be manufacturers, construction and trucking companies, and most service businesses, sources said. They would see equipment tax reductions. They'd also benefit from the shift to taxing sales and profits rather than taxing company payroll. and away from current taxes on company payroll.



Losers would include insurance companies, banks and other financial service businesses and real estate firms. They would gain little from the equipment tax cut and some would take a hit from the levy on assets. Insurance companies would face pay a $90 million tax increase.



-snip-



Those familiar with the proposal said 111,000 businesses across the state would pay lower taxes as a result of the plan, while 32,000 will pay more. Also, out-of-state businesses would pay $150 million more, while businesses located in Michigan would pay $150 million less under the reconfigured tax.



Overall, the new business tax scheme would generate revenue of $2.4 billion a year. Those receipts would replace the $1.74 billion yielded by the current Single Business Tax and it would also cover the $660 million equipment tax cut.



This break-even part of the proposal is certain to raise concerns among some Republicans, economists and business leaders who say the state needs a net business tax cut to make it more competitive. Granholm has said the state budget canĂ‚’t absorb a business tax cut without hurting education, public safety and human services programs. "We are simply uncompetitive in our business tax burden and must take steps to remedy that," said Tricia Kinley, a tax expert at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which backs a plan that would cut business taxes by $500 million.


If the screaming gets too loud from the insurance industry or Republicans who still insist on cutting our revenue, they should be pressed for some cold, hard examples of exactly what spending they would cut. Force them to come up to the table and tell us what they would do.



Who gets the ax under a major tax cut for big business? Schools? Prisons? Health care? The DN just recently tried to blame Granholm once again for problems in the foster care system, complaining about funding cuts for programs, but what do you want to bet they will howl with outrage at this new proposal? (Hint: They have already started.)



It's put up or shut up time. Don't let the Pubs weasel away again. If they don't like this, they can propose an alternative. If they won't do that, the least they can do is stop complaining about cuts to revenue sharing, foster care, prison health care, schools, and all the other quality of life issues that have suffered under their pathological need to avoid paying for the world they live in.



EDIT 1:54 pm: Well, knock me over with a feather. This afternoon the DN actually sounds sane. Must be they got their prescription filled.


Gov. Jennifer Granholm's proposed new business tax is an improvement on the current Single Business Tax -- if for no other reason than it doesn't tax a firm's payroll.


But they challenge the legislature to change it, too.



But ultimately, the total tax burden for all companies doing business in Michigan remains the same. Is this enough of a change to make Michigan stand out as it vies with other states for economic growth?



Not really. But it's a good first step toward tax reform. It's up to the Legislature to tweak it now to make it enough of a change so that firms and investors will really notice a change in direction for Michigan.



Define "tweak". But at least the DN isn't going totally overboard with criticism. It's a good first step towards reality.
NFL Week 12 Results and about that move to Word Press...



I get these done and keep forgetting to publish them. Since I blew up my template, this has become difficult because I have to manually put all the breaks in and sometimes it doesn't work. Which brings up another point- I know I threatened to move to Word Press, but after playing around over there I realized I'm only trading one set of headaches for another. Many times it has been very slow, I can't get it to do what I want... so, I'll stick with Blogger, God help me.



"I've created my own prison."



Miami 27, Detroit 10

Dallas 38, Tampa Bay 10

Kansas City 19, Denver 10

Minnesota 31, Arizona 26

Washington 17, Carolina 13

Cincinnati 30, Cleveland 0

N.Y. Jets 26, Houston 11

Buffalo 27, Jacksonville 24

New Orleans 31, Atlanta 13

Baltimore 27, Pittsburgh 0

St. Louis 20, San Francisco 17

San Diego 21, Oakland 14

New England 17, Chicago 13

Tennessee 24, N.Y. Giants 21

Indianapolis 45, Philadelphia 21

Seattle 34, Green Bay 24



11-5. Damn those Giants.



Monday, November 27, 2006

Queen - Killer Queen

Think I'll fill this blog up with videos.



Why? Because I can!



So much better than yelling at Lansing all the time.

BRIAN DICKERSON: Tell us whom you're playing for, legislators

Yes. How I love having an ally in the media. Dickerson does me one better in the cynicism department and brings up a point I hadn't really thought about until now.



Gov. Jennifer Granholm has asked the outgoing Legislature to act, during its upcoming lame-duck session, on her proposal to replace the SBT with a broader, flatter business levy. Granholm is operating on the quaint theory that the same mischievous frat boys who trashed Michigan's fiscal house ought to be responsible for cleaning up now that their toga party is over.



But outgoing Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, R-Wyoming, and House Speaker Craig DeRoche, R-Novi, say the process of restoring solvency to state finances should proceed slowly, methodically and on someone else's watch. After all, the fun part was over months ago.


Zing! Sounds familiar.



Now, to the question of who is pulling the strings. I'm putting my money on Big Insurance.


But before they go home for the next holiday, outgoing state senators should at least vote on the campaign-finance and lobbying reforms the House adopted by a nearly unanimous vote last September. That way, when the new Legislature gets down to the nitty-gritty of replacing the SBT, voters will at least have a better idea which special interests are in charge of the process.



See, I couldn't help but notice during the election campaign just concluded that the state's top 150 political action committees raised 60% more than in the 2004 election cycle. I know most of the donors are only interested in good government, but I suspect a few of them are going to want seats at the table when lawmakers start making tax policy.



The 11 bills adopted by the House two months ago (and studiously ignored by Sikkema ever since) won't stem the flood tide of campaign cash. But passage of the package would make it a little easier for voters to figure out who's squeezing which legislators for what outrageous tax break, as well as which independent groups are funding all those annoying robo calls.


Wouldn't you like to know who these guys work for? I know I would. But does it matter?



You see, legislators, no one really expects you to tackle anything as difficult as replacing the SBT. Heck, we don't even expect you to pretend that you're working for us, now that the next election is nearly two whole years away.



We know you've got more important things to worry about than the voters who elected you. All we're asking for is a better scorecard, so we can follow the action like the hapless spectators we've been reduced to.


I'm beginning to believe it is never about the voters- it is all about the games, the power, the money. While there are exceptions to that rule, for the most part the struggle for cash and partisan control are the main motivation for these folks- the voters only matter in the three months prior to the election. The quotes on the SBT I highlighted below prove the attitude rapidly changes once its over. Can you imagine them saying those things before you went to vote for them?



We need campaign finance reform, now!, but it is like asking the fox to give up the keys to the henhouse. They will write all sorts of loopholes and it will be business as usual.



Let's hope I'm wrong.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Detroit News editorial staff runs out of Thorazine

We have an obvious medical emergency at the Detroit News. They have completely taken leave of their senses and are displaying that they have truly and irrevocably left the realm of reality. It is a cry for help that should not be ignored.



I usually dismiss the Detroit News editorials like one would dismiss a screaming child throwing a fit after being sent to their room for a time-out. You let them cry it out because further attention only encourages the behavior, right? Nap time. But today's editorial indicates that they may be a danger to society. Professionals should be called in.



Yes, I'm kidding. Sorta. You tell me.


We had hoped Gov. Jennifer Granholm would move out of campaign mode after her election victory and start showing some leadership.



We should have known better. Granholm returned from her post-election vacation sounding the same partisan, confrontational tone that defined her first term.



Now she's taunting the Legislature's lame-duck Republican leadership to come up with a replacement for the Single Business Tax, saying that since they killed the tax, they have the responsibility to replace it before they leave their posts in three weeks.



The governor knows that won't happen. This is sheer vindictiveness, one last opportunity to get a dig in at the GOP leaders who blocked her efforts to run the state completely into the ground.


"Run the state completely into the ground"? Are they seriously suggesting that is what she had in mind all along, and that by asking the Legislature to behave in a responsible manner she is "taunting" them and being vindictive?



"You're ruining my life!", cried the teenager denied.



And are they really suggesting that is was the GOP who valiantly stopped her efforts to destroy the state when they acted to slash our revenue without a replacement?



Really?



Pop psychologist diagnosis: This statement shows the Detroit News is suffering from mixed-type Delusional disorder, leaning heavily toward Persecutory Type with a touch of Grandiose Type. Medication will be required. Look it up.



Consider the previous statements from the DN when they endorsed DeVos a little over a month ago. Their complaints at that time were radically different from the complaints of today, proving that the DN is suffering from acute differences in perception, molding the circumstances of reality to fit their particular delusion on any given day.



We don't fault Gov. Jennifer Granholm for the collapse of the domestic auto industry or for the resulting avalanche that continues to decimate Michigan's economic base.



No matter who was sitting in the governor's office the past four years, the forces roiling Michigan's bread-and-butter industry could not have been turned back nor their impact on the state muted. The challenges the governor has faced have been immense, and we have often sympathized with the enormity of the task she faced.



But in measuring her performance in leading Michigan through this crisis, we find her lacking. She was too slow to implement policies to change the state's economic future, too ineffective in dealing with the Legislature to push through urgent legislation and too uninspiring in rallying citizens to the extreme challenges of transforming the state's economy and breaking its culture of entitlement.


"Slow, ineffective and uninspiring". But when she acts today to "implement policies" to address those "extreme challenges", she is "partisan and confrontational". And the "sympathy" the News claims to have had a month ago was obviously a smokescreen of epic proportion, for now they accuse her of trying to "run the state into the ground".



So, which is it? Victim of circumstance who was to slow to act, or purposeful partisan destroyer?



The News goes on with some misdirection to support their delusion, the classic behavior of those suffering from this illness.



Tax policy should not be formed by a lame-duck legislature. Lawmakers crafting tax policy should be still accountable to voters, not headed out the door.



Denial of responsibility comes first. It paves the way for what comes next in an attempt to justify the thought process.



The governor in four years couldn't create a broadly endorsed tax alternative. Yet now she wants lawmakers to rush through a plan in a few days.



False statement. They had an agreement last November that was scuttled at the last minute. The GOP promised to work on the issue this year. They did not, and I think we all know the reason why now.



Doing so would deprive those impacted by the business tax of input in the process. The business community has the right to voice its opinion about how the new tax should work.



The "business community" was asked for its input starting in 2004. To suggest that they weren't part of the plan offered last year is disingenuous.



Granholm says she will offer her own plan to the lame duck session. Most likely, she will reintroduce her discredited tax shuffle that the Legislature shot down last year.



And again, they had an agreement on the previous plan. Repeating the charge that it was a failure or was discredited does not make it true.



What is really fascinating to me is that the DN and others who repeatedly called for immediate and radical action throughout the year are now saying that we can take our time.



There's no reason to rush. Michigan has several months to devise a new business tax plan before the Single Business Tax expires at the end of 2007.



The governor and the new Legislature must work together to first establish the goals of the new tax, and then create a plan that best meets those goals.



But the cooperation and compromise necessary to reach consensus won't happen until the governor loses the chip on her shoulder.


I think we have identified who has the "chip on the shoulder" here, and we have identified who needs to compromise.



The Republicans have had plenty of time to present their ideas, and so far they have refused to do so. Here is their opportunity to have a strong say in what happens next, and yet the DN and others are suggesting it is best left to the Democratic House. While that may be true, it sure sounds like a set-up so they can continue to deny their responsibility to the citizens and businesses of Michigan.



The delusion must go on, or it might shatter their tenuous grip on reality.



I'm not sure if they prescribe Thorazine anymore, but the need for it seems to be indicated here.

The rest of NFL Week 12:



Arizona at Minnesota

Carolina at Washington

Cincinnati at Cleveland

Houston at N.Y. Jets

Jacksonville at Buffalo

New Orleans at Atlanta

Pittsburgh at Baltimore

San Francisco at St. Louis

Oakland at San Diego

Chicago at New England

N.Y. Giants at Tennessee

Philadelphia at Indianapolis

Green Bay at Seattle



Saturday, November 25, 2006

Duck Lansing





What are you looking at?





This movie scene keeps coming back to me. Over and over again. All year long. I finally had to write it.



"You guys. You lollygag when it comes to proposing legislation. You lollygag when it comes to getting bills out of committee. You lollygag when it comes to taking a vote. You know what that makes you? Larry?"



"Lollygaggers!"



"Lollygaggers."



- with apologies to the writers of Bull Durham.



Sensing a bit of reluctance from West Michigan lawmakers when it comes to actually doing any hard work during the "lame duck" session.



Maybe we should follow their lead. Maybe everyone should take the last two months of the year off, put away the difficult stuff, just skate through the holidays. Your boss won't mind. Honest.



What do you think? Would that fly at your place of employment?



The K-zoo Gazette feels it, too.



We hope the governor doesn't have her heart set on an SBT replacement before this legislative session ends. Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema warns he has some priorities of his own for these last few weeks that the GOP controls the House. And current House Speaker Craig DeRoche doesn't sound especially enthusiastic about Granholm's proposal to replace the SBT with something that would bring in equal revenue.



DeRoche is probably too busy trying to figure out a way to screw up the Merit Scholarship. He strikes me as the kind of guy who can only think about one malevolent behavior at a time.



To his credit, Ken "It's too hard" Sikkema is perhaps the only one who has shown a sense of responsibility here. He is willing to work on the SBT, as long as he can mess with the teachers. Was that part on the petition drive? I don't think it was.



The rest, well, they seem happy to leave Michigan businesses and job creation up in the air for now.



Businesses considering a move to Michigan have virtually no way of estimating what their future tax costs would be without knowing how the next business tax is going to be structured. It is telling that, shortly after the Legislature hastened the end of the SBT with no replacement in sight, one Wall Street bond-rating firm immediately downgraded Michigan.



You see, it wasn't about job creation. It wasn't about making a better business climate. It was all about having something to print on the campaign literature.



The thought that the SBT work might go down easier with a Democratic House keeps coming up, but people seem to forget they weren't the most energetic and trustworthy bunch, either. Watch as Michael "I'm not a Republican, but I play one on TV" Sak displays his lack of will for meeting this challenge.



"I wouldn't be supportive of it, unless you could really draft and craft a reasonable plan that would address the issues and replace the $1.9 billion dollars that would be lost, and in my opinion I don't think it would be acceptable to do it during that period of time".



Bzzzt! Wrong answer, Mike! The correct answer is, "We will work hard to address this important issue because it relates directly to job creation and we will do everything in our power to help the citizens of Michigan". See, that way, it looks like you actually care about what is going on, even if you can't get it done in this time frame!



I've been called the "Betsy DeVos of the left" by one person in my life, which is flattering and scary all at the same time, more scary than anything else because I don't really want to be like that. Besides, I'm funnier and I provide pictures. But, sometimes I wish I were calling the shots like Betsy used to do (still does?) - Mr. Sak would be on speed dial.



Jerry "I'm outta here" Kooiman rolls over for the cameras, also.



"From what I've seen, from what I've heard, it's basically what she proposed last year, that the legislature rejected, even members of her own caucus were opposed to it, and if that's the package she presents in terms of the single business tax I wouldn't give it very good odds at all."


That's the spirit, Jerry. You keep denying those companies that overall tax cut that was proposed. You won't have to deal with it if you can just run out the clock.



Glenn Steil Jr. wants to "work", but he doesn't want to face the music his band wrote, either. Keep in mind he wants to do away with the SBT altogether, an idea that even DeVos didn't dare give full support to.



"It's my opinion that we should look at not replacing it, but that's a radical thought, but I think that our conversation should start there. I don't believe that we should pass anything that large in such a small amount of time".



So, did you believe those campaign promises about bringing more jobs to Michigan? All those concerned legislators telling you how hard they were going to work for you? How important it was to take care of business back in August when they jumped off this cliff?



Ha ha. Fooled you again.



If they don't want to do the job, perhaps we can just take back 3 months of salary from them and tell them to go home for the year.



Same goes for Rick "Isn't this rushing it?" Albin. Let's put him back anchoring the weekend news. Seems I remember him cheering these guys on back then, but is questioning the wisdom of working now. Twice this week he seemed to be taunting the idea that the Governor should expect anything to get done.



The quacking begins in earnest next week. I better go take some more pictures of ducks.

Thursday, November 23, 2006




This morning, somewhere east of Grand Rapids...



Happy Thanksgiving!



Miami at Detroit


Tampa Bay at Dallas


Denver at Kansas City




EDIT 7:42 pm:






This evening, somewhere west of Grand Rapids...



Hope everyone had a great day. I know Joey did. ;-)



Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Peter Tosh & Mick Jagger - Don't Look Back

From Saturday Night Live...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Grand Rapids Mayor wants to fight Prop 2

George, you do this and I'll forgive you for all that brouhaha over the strip club. Seriously.



GRAND RAPIDS - Mayor George Heartwell wants the city to file a federal lawsuit against Proposal 2, the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative voters approved earlier this month.



Heartwell said the measure, which ends affirmative action and other racial preference practices at the government level, violates federal civil rights laws. He said the measure could have a drastic effect on city policy on hiring, minority contracting and other practices.



Heartwell, who will discuss the proposal with the city attorney, hopes to bring the issue before the city commission in December.


Go get 'em Mr. Mayor.
Granholm presses outgoing Republicans for SBT replacement

Big stick. Whack! Get to work, you morons.

LANSING – Gov. Jennifer Granholm called on lame-duck Republican lawmakers to “fish or cut bait” and enact a new state business tax before the end of the year to replace the Single Business Tax (SBT), which expires Dec. 31, 2007.



She also expressed confidence that the House will approve her plan to expand the Michigan Merit Award college scholarship from a $2,500 grant to a maximum $4,000 for those who complete at least two years of college.



Granholm, in her first Capitol news conference since she won re-election Nov. 7, said that since the current Legislature voted this year to accelerate the demise of the SBT, it should replace the tax before a new Legislature is seated Jan. 1.



Because this Legislature created the hole, this Legislature ought to replace the business tax,” Granholm said.


Yes. Or go down in history as the Worst. Legislature. Ever.



She added, “We need to take this up quickly. If this legislative session doesn’t do it, obviously it will be a top priority for the next.” Republicans now control both the House and Senate. Next year, Democrats assume control of the House and will have one additional seat in the Senate.



Granholm said she will propose a new business tax plan next week that would tax profits more than the current SBT, and spread taxes to more businesses than the current system – with no overall reduction in state revenue. Business groups and Republican leaders have called for an overall cut in business taxes that would cut state revenue.



She said her plan also will reduce the personal property tax, which taxes businesses for the equipment and machinery they own.


Wouldn't it be funny if it was the same as the one shot down last year? I would get a chuckle out of that.



DeRoche had this to say, that spirit of cooperation just oozing from his words-



"If the governor is pushing a plan that fails to offer job providers relief and workers hope, she is pushing a plan that will fail in the Republican House," he said in a release.



OK, Craig, let's try it this way... come real close so you can hear me...



WHERE IS THE REPUBLICAN PLAN?



Who do you want to throw off the bus, huh? Tell us. You have had months to figure this out.



*crickets*



Yeah. Thought so. Moving on-



As for the college scholarship program, Granholm said she has assurances from House Speaker Craig DeRoche, R-Novi, to allow a House vote on her Merit Scholarship plan changes. The Senate has already passed the changes.



Got that in writing? ;-)
Effort to dislodge Anuzis as GOP chairman losing steam

I have resisted writing about this here because I find Saul to be as stupid as he is evil, and I'm tired of having my head in such a negative space all the time. Not good for me.



But, I thought it important to note that the MI GOP obviously has no intention of changing their ways- keeping DeRoche as minority leader, keeping Saul as the head of the party, kind of tells you that they are happy with the nasty, extreme, obstructionist agenda that has marked their existence the past few years.


LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- The push to replace Saul Anuzis as head of the Michigan Republican Party may be over now that the GOP activist who wanted to replace him has backed off.



Third District GOP Chairman Dave Dishaw of Wyoming sent Anuzis an e-mail this weekend and called him to say he would not challenge Anuzis when party delegates meet in early February to elect a chairman for the next two years.



Dishaw said he got into the race because it seemed to be worth having a discussion about possible change, given Republicans' defeats in the state and nationally.



"As I began to see where the support was going to be, it became evident to me that it was going to be a down-to-the-wire horse race," Dishaw told The Associated Press Monday in a telephone interview. "I've endorsed Saul. ... I want the party to function, I want it to work, and if we can do it without tearing the party apart, I'm all for that."


So the discussion never happened, at least not in public. Methinks the big money people weighed in, and it was a done deal. Funny how the Pubs thought Granholm should lose her job over "lack of performance", but here their best boy had a dismal showing and they want to keep him. Hmmm.



The movement to replace Anuzis became public the day after the Nov. 7 election, when it became clear Republicans had failed to unseat the Democratic governor and U.S. senator, lost control of the state House and nearly lost control of the state Senate.



Anuzis defended the job he did leading up to the election, noting that the Michigan GOP held onto all nine of its congressional seats while Indiana lost three seats that had been held by the GOP.



"We made more phone calls, we knocked on more doors, we put out more literature, we identified more Republican voters and we raised more money" than previous GOP party heads in Michigan, Anuzis said Monday.


Yes, weren't the Republican tactics charming this year? Paragons of virtue they were with their numerous daily negative robocalls, divisive and nasty attack literature, endless TV ads that twisted the truth. Wasn't that fun? Wasn't that productive to the debate about our future? Did ya feel the love emanating from the Republican Party?



Race to the bottom, indeed.



The following people approve of this message.


Several prominent Kent County Republicans came to Anuzis' defense, including major GOP contributor and former U.S. ambassador to Italy Peter Secchia; GOP gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos; state Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema; and former Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus, who had Anuzis as his chief of staff when he was in the state Senate.



Anuzis also got the backing of Attorney General Mike Cox and U.S. Senate candidate Mike Bouchard.


Notice the far-right names and the big bucks that lead that list. Just a hunch, but I think that when the DeVos family weighed in, Dishaw quickly backed down. Sorry, Chuck. Nice try.



I'm not sure when Dick came to Saul's defense, but I still hold that none of things listed above were done without Dick and Betsy's approval. No way Saul acted on his own here with so much at stake. This campaign had Betsy's fingerprints all over it.



I guess we can expect more of the same from the MI GOP. While that ultimately may be a good thing for Democrats as the public grows increasingly tired of the push towards extremism, it's a bad thing for our state if they decide they want to be the obstructive force they have been in the past. We are facing some serious financial issues and all they can suggest is "more tax cuts!"



Will they continue to hold us back? Does a zebra ever change his stripes?

NFL Week 11 Results:




Baltimore 24, Atlanta 10


Buffalo 24, Houston 21


Chicago 10, N.Y. Jets 0


Cincinnati 31, New Orleans 16


Miami 24, Minnesota 20


New England 35, Green Bay 0


Kansas City 17, Oakland 13


Pittsburgh 24, Cleveland 20


Carolina 15, St. Louis 0


Tennessee 31, Philadelphia 13


Tampa Bay 20, Washington 17


Arizona 17, Detroit 10


San Francisco 20, Seattle 14


Dallas 21, Indianapolis 14


San Diego 35, Denver 27


Jacksonville 26, N.Y. Giants 10


9-7. Boo.





Sunday, November 19, 2006

IE 7:


Today was the day that Microsoft strong-armed gently suggested that I upgrade to IE 7.



Somehow I got the "clean text" option (I purposely didn't choose it, but here it is anyway) and everything looks really, really weird. But better somehow.



Tabs are nice- I could get used to that.



Don't yell at me Firefox people.
Happy Birthday Dad!


Just think, now you can "officially" retire.



I hope you have many, many more.



Someone has to be here to endure the Cubs with me. ;-)







Atlanta at Baltimore

Buffalo at Houston

Chicago at N.Y. Jets

Cincinnati at New Orleans

Minnesota at Miami

New England at Green Bay

Oakland at Kansas City

Pittsburgh at Cleveland

St. Louis at Carolina

Tennessee at Philadelphia

Washington at Tampa Bay

Detroit at Arizona

Seattle at San Francisco

Indianapolis at Dallas

San Diego at Denver

N.Y. Giants at Jacksonville

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Blue Tiger Democrats pushing civic involvement

Much applause. Reaching the people where they live is crucial.





LANSING, Mich. -- The Michigan Democratic Party's TV ads played a key role in Gov. Jennifer Granholm's successful re-election bid, but now the governor and the party are saying Democrats must do more.



State party Chairman Mark Brewer on Friday announced that the Michigan Democratic Party will become the first to make the principles of a group calling itself the Blue Tiger Democrats a permanent part of its party structure. The group, based in New York City, has called for making civic engagement the first priority of Democratic organizations.



"It starts with attacking the culture of the 30-second commercial," Blue Tiger Democrats founder Bill Samuels told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "We're tired of the 30-second commercials, we're tired of the lobbyists. ... We've got to go back to our communities through civic engagement."



Samuels and Brewer were to give a presentation to the Association of State Democratic Chairs around 7 p.m. EST Friday on Michigan's success with a Blue Tiger pilot project it ran this year. Brewer is president of the national organization, which is meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyo.



The state party helped low-income Michigan residents in 10 of the poorest areas of Detroit and nearby Macomb County learn ways to be more energy efficient and lower their utility bills. The program reached more than 28,000 people, helping some families save more than $1,000 each, Brewer said.



He noted the outreach is important because too many people think the political parties don't care about them except to get their votes. He wants to make the Democratic Party appealing not just for its candidates and principles but because it's involved in improving citizens' lives.


Not only should there be physical involvement such as this, I hope the MDP becomes move active online, too. Take the North Carolina Democrats, for example, reaching out to the blogging community for suggestions on who should run against Elizabeth Dole.



State Democratic Chairman Jerry Meek has turned to the Web to get names of someone who can beat Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole in 2008. The plea is part gesture to the power of political blogs and part acknowledgment that he has no strong candidate in sight.



"Who Should I Recruit to Defeat Dole?" Meek asked in a Saturday posting, which in three days has drawn almost 100 replies in a lively conversation with suggestions ranging from Gov. Mike Easley to former UNC-Chapel Hill basketball coach Dean Smith to Elizabeth Edwards.



Meek writes that Dole may not seek re-election because she is battered by her unsuccessful effort to keep the U.S. Senate in Republican hands.



"But even if she does run, we can beat her," Meek writes. "So, who should I recruit to take her on? Don't limit yourself to politicians. Are there good business people or community leaders out there who share our vision and can win?"


Powerful tool here. I've been told that Brewer really doesn't care for it, but the MDP should get someone in there and run a blog. Yes, it is a lot of work and time, but, hey, it might be a way to raise money, too. Just another way to get people involved- and the MDP at this point is missing a big opportunity.

WKAR - Off the Record w/Jill Alper


Watch Granholm campaign strategist Jill Alper shoot down the Republican talking points parroted by Dawson Bell and Tim Skubick. "Michigan would be better off if a company like Alticor didn't exist?" WTF? Please, Dawson. Such a stretch. No one ever said or even implied that. And Skubick- "Governor was too agressive" in the debate. Yeah. The only people saying that were the Pubs who wanted to make excuses for Dick's poor performance. Too easy.



Alper rises above all of this with such aplomb that it makes for a good watch if you are interested in a inside view of the race and a gracious rebuttal to some of the complaints that were voiced after it was over. She couldn't believe some of the things the DeVos campaign did, she probably felt the same way about some of the questions she was asked here. They obviously still do. not. get. it.



I only wish they would have let Luke ask more questions- something tells me that he would have had sensible and pertinent points to make rather than rehasing the standard whine of the right-leaning media. But, whatever, slam dunks are good, too.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Governors place friendly wager on Michigan-Ohio State game

Starting to think our Governor has some sort of gambling issue here. Wasn't wearing a Cardinals jersey enough? (Warning: graphic link. Not Cub-fan friendly)

LANSING, Mich. - It's not just sports teams that will have bragging rights after Saturday's big clash between the Wolverines and the Buckeyes. The Michigan and Ohio governors are getting in on the act, too.



Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm promised Thursday to send Ohio Gov. Bob Taft a University of Michigan sweat shirt, Gerber baby food, Faygo pop, Jiffy Mix and a selection from Zingerman's Delicatessen in Ann Arbor if the No. 2 Wolverines fail to take down No. 1 Ohio State. The basket of goodies will be donated to charity.



If the Buckeyes fall, Taft will send Granholm a basket containing Ohio food products, including chocolate buckeyes.



Granholm seemed fairly confident the Wolverines would succeed.



"Shouts of `Go Blue' will be heard throughout Michigan on Saturday," the Democratic governor said in a news release. "We are confident the Wolverines will return home to Ann Arbor to the chants of `Hail to the Victors.'"


Are we going to have to stage an invervention? We are lucky the Lions aren't going anywhere- we might lose the whole state if this keeps up.



Oh, and GO BLUE!

MI Republicans still stalling on the SBT

Gutless wonders. Oh well. They finally kicked the can right down the road into the hands of a Democratic House.



LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- The incoming state Senate majority leader said Thursday that he needs to meet with fellow Republicans before laying out priorities for 2007, but he listed the economy and health care as top issues.


Translation: "I haven't received my orders yet".



You would think the "priorities" would have been set before the election, you know, to present to the voters. But then again, that might have cost them the Senate, too, had their real plans been revealed.



Probably busy running them through the shredder right now.



Sen. Mike Bishop of Rochester was elected as the GOP leader this week and will be the Capitol's most powerful Republican, since Democrats won control of the House and Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm won a second term.



Bishop said lawmakers have plenty of time to work on alternatives to the state's Single Business Tax, which will die at the end of 2007.



"We don't want to rush to any conclusions, and certainly there are a lot of ideas out there," Bishop said of a new business tax. "But this is all too important to rush to a final decision too quick."


Yes, way too important to rush to any decisions. We might ruin our good name on Wall Street or something.



Back in August, when the MI GOP was dancing on the grave of the SBT and thinking they were so clever that they pulled off this end-run on the Governor, we heard Craig DeRoche say, "This is a signal to Michigan taxpayers and workers that the GOP wants to reform how our state operates."



Except the GOP would never tell us how they planned to do that. Still waiting on that committee report, I guess.

Oops. Too late. Time to let the adults figure it out.



What would we do without the Democrats to clean up the Republican's fiscal mess?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The new Grand Rapids skyline...



The first was taken Oct. 30th-





I imagine they are farther along now- but it has been so dark and gray that I haven't been motivated to go take any new pictures.



Here is the view on the 4th of July. I call this the "flying saucer" photo- bit of a different angle, but it shows how altered the skyline is...





Ch-ch-ch-ch- changes...



My little town is really growing up.

Phil Power: The real winners? Moderates

That has yet to be seen. If you go back and read the stories from late 2002- early 2003, the promises of cooperation were made back then, too.



"Today is not partisan," Ken Sikkema said. "Frankly, I don't think the next four years will be." - Jan 2003, at Granholm’s inaguration. We saw how that turned out.



The "moderate" voters may have spoken out in force, but will Lansing reflect their wishes? Phil looks at some of the numbers-



So now that the votes are counted, the victors promoted and the losers sent off to weep, what do we make of the election results?



A lot. Let's start with a quick look at the numbers. Turnout was way up: A total of 3,833,535 people voted, nearly half a million more than predicted. The turnout was higher still than in 2002, and Gov. Jennifer Granholm won five out of six of those new voters.


Someone needs to really sit down and crunch this, figure out what exactly happened here. The spending by DeVos seemed to benefit Granholm- how can that be? Granted, Granholm and the MDP dropped a good chunk of change, too, but they were easily eclipsed by Dick. His spending did not translate into votes. There is a lesson here.



I'd guess the increased turnout was a result of massive spending by all parties (it was the most expensive election in Michigan history, hands down.) GOP gubernatorial challenger Dick DeVos spent more than $41 million of his own money. Ironically, it appears the new voters his spending brought out voted overwhelmingly for Granholm.



I wonder if Dick's excesses only accentuated the failings of the GOP in general- the negative ads, the divisiveness, the extremism. By highlighting the Rovian tactics, they reminded voters of what was wrong with the direction of this country in general. They stuck to the 2004 playbook, and it backfired. The new voters and the independents said "enough".

So was the election a "tsunami" in favor of the Democrats? Only ... sort of. Though Granholm won re-election by a whopping 56 percent to 42 percent and Democrats overall were hot to vote against the Bush administration, elections expert Mark Grebner thinks the core Democratic vote was not much larger than usual.



If anybody can be said to have won, it was the moderates, the centrists, the muscular middle, the sensible center — take your pick of names. One compelling fact: Of voters who call themselves independents, Granholm and Stabenow took around 70 percent.



For the last several election cycles, the prevailing wisdom amongst politicians has been that you should concentrate on turning out your committed partisan base and forget about the folks in the middle. Wrong! Swing voters do matter. Persistently disrespecting them is a recipe for political trouble, as this year proved.



Phil has a warning for both parties.



The big mistake Democrats could make from this big win is to figure they've got a lock on the future and they can go back to being subservient to their traditional labor and liberal paymasters. Wrong again!



Many of the successful Democratic candidates were moderates, not ideological lefties. Democrats may have banked the majority of votes, but those votes were loaned by middle-of-the road voters. That loan can be called in, pronto, if the Democrats screw up.



I think Phil is overstating that last part- I think the electorate wants to pull back toward progress on populist ideas, things such as stem cell research, protecting the environment, investing in education, cities, people. I wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing more sympathy for "labor", given that everyone is tired of being at the mercy of corporate masters who will toss you in the street to protect the bottom line. If you want to call those things "liberal", it is only because we have moved too far to the right.



As for the Republicans, there appears to be an emerging split between those who think it would be wiser to moderate their approach and try a little bipartisanship and those who think the GOP conservative message needs to be sharpened, if anything.



Tom Shields, a smart Republican pollster and strategist, told the annual post-election "pundit summit" in Lansing last week that "Republicans really have to sharpen the differences between the two parties in order to succeed."



Yes, you do that, GOP. You keep calling for massive tax cuts for the rich, social policy driven by the extreme religious members of your base, the fiscal recklessness that threatens our stability and puts more people in poverty and/or uninsured, the "us vs. them" mentality that served you so well this last time around.



Please, keep it up. Sharpen that message, keep ignoring the wishes of the masses, and we will see what happens in '08.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

MI House: Dillon says he will not block stem cell research

But the SBT will be the biggest hurdle these guys will face. Will a Republican Senate continue to make progress difficult?



Democrats completed their House takeover Tuesday, choosing Redford Township Rep. Andy Dillon as House speaker with a new Legislature poised to act on Gov. Jennifer Granholm's plans for health care, taxes, education and economic growth when it convenes in January.



Dillon, who turns 45 next week, is considered a conservative Democrat who's pro-business and anti-abortion. He works well with Republicans. But now, the University of Notre Dame law school graduate will be point man in a House suddenly aligned with the Democratic governor after voters gave the party a 58-52 advantage over the previously controlling GOP.


The "conservative" tag bothers me, but he has to be better than DeRoche. A houseplant would be better than DeRoche.



Dillon said he'll create a task force to draft a catastrophic health insurance plan for uninsured Michigan residents, as well as an expanded prescription drug plan.



Dillon opposes abortion and embryonic stem cell research. But he said he would not block a House vote to loosen Michigan's laws that prohibit the use of embryonic stem cells for medical research, which Granholm and others promote as a way to attract more research-related jobs to Michigan.


We need to hold him to this.



And as far as that Republican Senate goes, we have a leader who says they won't be obstructionist. I'll believe it when I see it.



Meanwhile, in the Senate -- still controlled by Republicans -- Sen. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, was named majority leader and pledged to advocate a GOP agenda without being an obstructionist.



The SBT accounts for nearly $2 billion in state revenue. Granholm insists the revenue should be replaced entirely, while business groups and Republicans have called for a net tax cut with less revenue.



Bishop's Senate leadership could prove even more significant for Granholm. Republicans will control the Senate, 21-17, and could quash the governor's proposal to make up the money.



Granholm has frequently blamed Republican lawmakers for blocking her initiatives, such as a plan to boost the Michigan Merit Award scholarship for college-bound high school seniors to $4,000 from $2,500, by adding more requirements.


The Merit is through the Senate, DeRoche held it up in the House. I believe that will get done now that the election is over... but the SBT debate will be the one to watch. If Republicans insist on "less revenue", they should be the ones to come up with the cuts.



Tell us what or who you want to throw overboard, guys. We are taking notes for 2008.

Democrats to elevate global warming, other environmental issues

Happy day.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Democrats who will steer environment issues in the new Congress are polar opposites of their Republican predecessors, but changing environmental policy is like turning around an aircraft carrier — it's very slow.



Sen. Barbara Boxer, a liberal California Democrat and one of the biggest environmental advocates on Capitol Hill, was named Tuesday to chair the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. She replaces Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe, who says global warming is a hoax and wanted to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency established by President Richard Nixon.



Read the proceeding paragraph again. It feels real good. Savor it.



And bye, bye to Richard Pombo, a guy who was all for drilling the oceans, selling the parks, threatening the critters, and stuffing a bunch of money in his pocket, all at the same time.



On the House side, the approach to endangered species and opening public lands to private development will do an about-face with Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., expected to take over the House Resources Committee. He would replace GOP Rep. Richard Pombo, a California rancher, defeated for re-election last week after environmentalists spent nearly $2 million against him.



"Our long national nightmare is close to being over," said Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust, paraphrasing Gerald Ford on assuming the presidency after Nixon's resignation over Watergate.


Our girl Nancy will be looking at the oil companies, and Dingell will check out Cheney's sweetheart deals.



Energy companies will likely be put on the defensive. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the presumed next speaker of the House, has already promised to repeal oil industry subsidies.



Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., the likely next chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, plans to investigate Republicans' oil subsidies included in the energy bill Bush signed into law last year. Dingell said he also was interested in revisiting Vice President Dick Cheney's secretive energy task force.


Why do I get the feeling that we have only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the horror that is this administration?



Let the investigations begin.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

GOP, Dems choose new Lansing leaders

And the crying from the West Michigan media commences...



LANSING - The first real fallout from the midterm election became apparent Tuesday as Republicans chose their new Senate leader, and the Democrats made their choice for the House.



A definition of "fallout": Any adverse and unwanted secondary effect; The radioactive particles that settle to the ground after a nuclear explosion.



These words come to you from Rick Albin. Already he has painted a negative picture in the very first sentence.



The GOP chose Mike Bishop to replace term limited Ken Sikkema as their new Majority Leader. Bishop, from Oakland County, bested Wayne Kuipers from Holland for the spot.



The new Democratic Senate Minority Leader is Battle Creek's Mark Schauer, who explained what it is that job entails.



"Well, my job is to corral all the Democrats in the State Senate and make sure we're focused and headed in the same direction."



In the House, the new Speaker is Andy Dillon, a Redford Township Democrat who got the nod after a spirited battle with Rep. Andy Meisner. Dillon pledged to work with the Republicans to move Michigan forward.



The Republicans re-elected Craig DeRoche to be Dillon's counterpart as House Minority Leader.


I'm hearing some rumbling about Dillon being too conservative; I'm willing to start off giving him the benefit of the doubt.



Granholm II: This Time I'm Paying Attention. And if the Legislature continues on with their previous nonsense, I'll yell louder. Granholm herself has to reach down and find her "inner Engler" and whip these guys into shape. We've had some problems with House Dems in the past- I don't expect this to be a breeze, either.



Dillon said he's not motivated by revenge for when the Democrats were in the minority. "They'll have an agenda every day and they will be recognized on the floor. We look forward to a very bi-partisan House of Representatives."



Revenge? Gee, Rick, are you admitting here that maybe some revenge needs to be taken for previous Republican actions? Is this a confession that they were acting in an extreme partisan manner?



And this ominous closing-



Of the top four leaders, only Schauer is from West Michigan. Come January, there will be a decidedly east-side influence in the Michigan Legislature.


The video emphasized the east-west divide a bit more, but late word tells us that Cropsey (gag) and Sak (no comment) will also have leadership roles.



The Press has yet to weigh in on this, but I already know what their response will be. I can probably even write it for you...



Here's a message to the West Michigan media- time for you guys to have a big 'ol cup of "STFU". We don't need to hear your incessant whining about how the west side of the state is ignored. They are not going to totally cut us off, even though they probably should after we tried to foist DeVos on them.



So, knock it off. You embarrass me.



And besides, you will be very happy when Madonna is appointed head of the Michigan Council on Family Values, won't you?
Stabenow expected to have new leadership role in Senate

The redemption of Debbie Stabenow? She has a long way to go in the eyes of some.



WASHINGTON -- Sen. Debbie Stabenow is expected to run a Democratic committee that encourages dialogue between the party and community leaders on issues such as retirement, jobs, education and health care, the Michigan Democrat's office said Monday.



Stabenow is expected to be named Tuesday to lead the Senate Democratic Steering Committee, succeeding Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y. The group works as a liaison with labor and community groups to discuss policies under development by Democrats.



"This is definitely going to help her continue to shape the direction that Democrats go in," said Stabenow spokeswoman Angela Benander.



Stabenow had served as the secretary of the Senate's Democratic caucus, but will still have a seat at leadership meetings in her new role. Benander said the steering committee post will complement her new position on the Senate Finance Committee, which deals with issues such as pension costs, Social Security, Medicare and health care.



The steering committee post has its own staff and budget, giving Stabenow additional clout in the Senate.


I'm thinking this morning of all those people who said they would withhold their vote from Debbie, and then I think about a 50-50 Senate without her. How tragic that would be. There is also the problem of those Democrats that seem to jump the aisle at every opportunity (yeah, I'm looking at you, Landrieu) and sometimes Debbie was one of them. Will that stop now?



My hope is that the divisive Bush agenda will cease and the Democrats will pull together to work on legislation that actually matters. Stabenow might surprise us, and the calls to Lamont her will cease.



Make us proud, Debbie.

NFL Week 10 Results: Damn Lions...!



Baltimore 27, Tennessee 26

Indianapolis 17, Buffalo 16

Cleveland 17, Atlanta 13

Green Bay 23, Minnesota 17

Houston 13, Jacksonville 10

Miami 13, Kansas City 10

N.Y. Jets 17, New England 14

San Diego 49, Cincinnati 41

San Francisco 19, Detroit 13

Philadelphia 27, Washington 3

Denver 17, Oakland 13

Dallas 27, Arizona 10

Pittsburgh 38, New Orleans 31

Seattle 24, St. Louis 22

Chicago 38, N.Y. Giants 20

Carolina 24, Tampa Bay 10



10-6.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

State to hunters: Help eliminate feral swine

Bet you didn't know we had a wild pig problem here in Michigan. There is probably one in your back yard RIGHT NOW. Better go check.



Lansing - Officials from the Michigan Departments of Agriculture (MDA) and Natural Resources (DNR) today encouraged hunters with a valid hunting license of any type to shoot feral swine (free-ranging wild pigs) in 23 Michigan counties.



In states where feral swine have become established, they have caused crop damage, pose a serious threat to the health and welfare of the domestic swine, endanger humans, impact wildlife populations, and impact the environment by disrupting the ecosystem.



"We will take aggressive enforcement action to protect the health of legally imported swine used in hunting preserves and eliminate feral swine from the wild in Michigan," said State Veterinarian Steven Halstead. "Our goal is to safeguard the livestock industry as well as the environment from these unwelcome invaders."



"Hunters, as always, have to be certain of their targets before shooting," said Alan Marble, Bureau Chief of the DNR Law Enforcement Division. "Feral Swine are unfamiliar targets to most Michigan hunters, and sportspersons need to make sure they are shooting at hogs and not black bear, dogs, or any other animal."


Unfortunately the state does not provide pictures of these rampant wild swine, but if you can't tell a pig from a bear you probably shouldn't have a gun in your hand.



The state does provide free testing in case you were looking to make feral swine BBQ. Here are some handy tips on what to look for, but, alas, no recipes.



While there is no indication that these animals are carrying pseudorabies or any other disease, precautionary testing will be conducted. Feral swine may also transmit diseases such as brucellosis, bovine tuberculosis (TB) and trichinosis to people and other livestock.



A person field-dressing swine, especially in the Northeastern Lower Michigan TB area, should wear gloves. If the lungs, ribcage or internal organs from wild pigs look abnormal (multiple tan or yellow lumps), the meat should not be eaten. The carcass should, however, be removed from the environment and brought to a DNR field office to prevent disease transmission to other animals.



It is highly unlikely a person will contract bovine TB, brucellosis or trichinosis by eating thoroughly cooked meat of feral swine. These pathogens and parasites are very rarely found, as a precaution however, all meats, including that of feral swine, should be thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 170.6 degrees F.


And here you wanted to shoot doves...
The Granholm campaign knew all along....

So why do we listen to the so-called experts?



In the weeks leading up to the election, polls showed Gov. Jennifer Granholm leading Republican Dick DeVos, but usually by narrow margins.



Not so with Granholm's internal polls, said her chief strategist, Jill Alper.



Their polling showed Granholm with a double-digit lead throughout the fall.


Never, ever again, Ed. Did those independents break for DeVos yet?



One word for Sarpolus and Mitchell: Worthless.
Feingold rules out 2008 run for president

There goes my hero, watch him as he goes.



Washington - Sen. Russ Feingold will not seek his party's presidential nomination in 2008, the Wisconsin Democrat told the Journal Sentinel on Saturday.



"I never got to that point where I'd rather be running around the country, running for president, than being a senator from Wisconsin," Feingold said in a phone interview from Madison.



Feingold, 53, conceded that he faced long odds of winning the nomination.



"It would have required the craziest combination of things in the history of American politics to make it work," he said.



But Feingold said waging an underdog campaign appealed to him. What didn't appeal to him, he said, was "the way in which this effort would dismantle both my professional life (in the Senate) and my personal life. I'm very happy right now."


Part of me is disappointed, part of me is happy to have him focus his full attention on the Senate. An even bigger part of me really doesn't want to start talking about this yet, but it seems we don't have much choice, do we? I knew the media and the potential candidates would be off and running (ha) the second the clock hit midnight on the 8th.



Feingold's thinking about the race crystallized in the last few weeks, he said. The Democratic takeover of Congress on Tuesday was a final factor because it added to the appeal of focusing entirely on his position in the Senate, he said.



Feingold is the second Democrat to seriously explore a campaign before opting out. Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner announced last month that he would not run.



Both went into the process as dark horses but showed signs of stirring interest among Democratic activists: Warner because of his centrist politics and success in a "red" state; Feingold because of his distinctive opposition in the Senate to a whole series of Bush policies highly unpopular with grass-roots Democrats, from the war to trade to wiretapping.



But Feingold confronted obvious obstacles. The potential field includes New York Sen. Hillary Clinton - the financial and political colossus in the party - former vice presidential candidate John Edwards and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who has rapidly emerged as the Democrats' most celebrated political "fresh face."


Rumors of "The Return of Al" are surfacing again at Kos, thanks to David Gregory. I could get behind that.



And I'll make a statement right now that is sure to get me thrown out of the "liberal" club once and for all (always the rebel, aren't I?)- I'm even willing to listen to what Hillary has to say. I don't rule out supporting her, although I'm more inclined to a Gore or Edwards or even Obama run.



I'm going to be open-minded about this. Too much time, too many things can happen between now and then to make any solid decisions at this point.



P.S. There. I posted something. Everyone happy now? ;-)
NFL Week 10: Now I can watch football again! Edition



9-5 last week. Sorry I didn't post results, got all caught up in other things. As you know.



Baltimore at Tennessee

Buffalo at Indianapolis

Cleveland at Atlanta

Green Bay at Minnesota

Houston at Jacksonville

Kansas City at Miami

N.Y. Jets at New England

San Diego at Cincinnati

San Francisco at Detroit

Washington at Philadelphia

Denver at Oakland

Dallas at Arizona

New Orleans at Pittsburgh

St. Louis at Seattle

Chicago at N.Y. Giants

Tampa Bay at Carolina


Thursday, November 09, 2006

George Harrison - Here Comes The Sun [live]

A song for you...
Mission Accomplished:



I need to say something here.



First of all- to everyone that offered your support and encouragement and constant readership on this journey- I say "thank you" from the bottom of my heart. The responses to my writing have been phenomenal. I am literally "blown away". When I mentioned who I was to people at that party in Detroit, the reaction to the recognition of my "pen" name just stunned me. It was thrilling.



I am so glad that (most) people like it, and I hope that I have helped bring about this victory in my own small way. My heart soars at the thought. It was such an honor to serve- and it has been quite a ride. A year I will never forget. I can't begin to tell you what it means to me.



In the past few days the question put to me by numerous people has been, "What now? Are you going to continue?" The answer is, "I honestly don't know." I know that I can't keep cranking out the posts with the intensity that I have had this year. This is not a valid career option. I have gone in debt to the tune of thousands of dollars to focus on this effort. That was my choice- and I gladly did it. It was worth every penny.



But now, I have to stop digging the hole.



The house is a mess, the car has a loud rumble, my camera is broken. (Thank God Mom has the same make and model as me or you wouldn't have had those pictures from the party) The backyard is full of leaves, the cats want attention, the creditors are asking for their money. Eh, life on the edge is really nothing new to me, but now I have to start being a responsible adult again. (damnit- hate it when that happens)



Everything is way out of balance- and I have to get that balance back. Being the little people-pleaser that I am, I am feeling a lot of pressure to continue to write- and it is starting to weigh on me. I need for people to chill out a bit.



I'm sure I will continue to post because I am addicted to this and I am excited by the brand new future I see on the horizon. But if I take a break here- don't be too upset. You don't want to see me homeless. I can't post from the street. I also get tired of hearing myself talk, and I want to read what other people have to say.



So, I encourage everyone to start your own blog, write your own thoughts, participate in this process. If I can do it, everyone can. Head over to Michigan Liberal or Daily Kos and start laying it out there.



We need your voice to speak up.



Let's make this happen- for our state, for our country.



A special thanks goes out to my Mom, who has supported me with her time and money and car so I could do this. Thank you, Mom. You're the best.



I promise I'll pay you back. :-)



EDIT 6:01pm- Almost forgot- UNICORNS RULE!





I admit that I will miss the Head. Too bad we had to let all the air out of him, but it was for the best.



Granholm, Dems want to tackle scholarships, taxes, stem cells

It's a brand new day in Michigan.



LANSING, Mich. - Bolstered by their big success in the election, Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Democratic lawmakers hope they have a better shot at increasing the size of college scholarships, revamping business taxes and easing restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.



"We know that there's a lot of work to do, and we're not going to slow down," Granholm said Wednesday, a day after she easily won re-election and Democrats took control of the state House for the first time in eight years.



In preliminary vote counts, Republicans appeared to lose one seat from their current 22 but maintain their 23-year reign in the state Senate. Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, R-Wyoming, said the election created a chance for more cooperation between the parties.



"The next two years could be an incredible era of bipartisan cooperation and progress," said Sikkema, who is leaving office at the end of the year because of term limits. "To make progress, you're going to have to govern from the center."


Or what, Ken? You'll lose even more seats in '08?



Granholm has been governing from the center, so much so the left was pissed off at her. Time for the Michigan Republicans to get back to the center and stop being the puppets of the right-wing forces that control the party.



You guys ready to get rid of the DeVos influence now? Going to stop being the obstinate little obstructionists that you have been for the past few years? Hmmmmm?



The biggest issue that faces the governor and legislators is replacing nearly $2 billion in lost tax revenue by the end of 2007, when the Single Business Tax will die.



Sikkema said he wants to craft a new business tax during the "lame-duck" session between the election and Jan. 1. He stressed that he is more concerned about the structure of the new tax than whether there is a net tax decrease for businesses, which some other Republicans have called for.



Granholm, who insists all the lost tax dollars must be replaced, said she would not rule out any attempt to revamp the SBT before the end of the year.



But she added her No. 1 priority in the final two months is increasing the state-funded Merit Award college scholarship to $4,000. High school graduates who do well on standardized tests now can earn up to $3,000 for college. The proposal has passed the Senate but awaits consideration in the House.


Seems to me DeRoche said he had some lovely ideas for the Merit Scholarship- let's hear 'em, Craig. Or we move on without you in '07. Your choice.



This is gonna be fun. I am so happy for my state- we can start to move forward again.



Granholm asked to be "set free" from the Legislature. Well, Governor, we did it. Show 'em what you can do. And if they give you any static, call their bluff.



I know I'm going to.

Democrats win control of Congress

Is this really happening? Someone pinch me.



And let's talk about that nuclear option now....



WASHINGTON - In a rout once considered almost inconceivable, Democrats won a 51st seat in the Senate and regained total control of Congress after 12 years of near-domination by the Republican Party.



The shift dramatically alters the government's balance of power, leaving President Bush without GOP congressional control to drive his legislative agenda. Democrats hailed the results and issued calls for bipartisanship even as they vowed to investigate administration policies and decisions.



Democrats completed their sweep Wednesday evening by ousting Republican Sen. George Allen of Virginia, the last of six GOP incumbents to lose re-election bids in a midterm election marked by deep dissatisfaction with the president and the war in Iraq.



Democrats had 229 seats in the House, 11 more than the number necessary to hold the barest of majorities in the 435-member chamber.



Democrats will have nine new senators on their side of the aisle as a result of Tuesday's balloting. Six of them defeated sitting Republican senators from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, Rhode Island, Montana and Virginia. The other three replaced retiring senators from Maryland, Minnesota and Vermont.



Their ideologies are as varied as their home states. Bernie Sanders, an independent who will replace Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords, is a Socialist who has served in the House and voted with Democrats since 1990. Bob Casey Jr., who defeated Republican Sen. Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania, is an anti-abortion moderate. Webb once declared that the sight of President Clinton returning a Marine's salute infuriated him.


Are we counting Leiberman as a Democrat? Because, technically, he is not.



One thing is for sure, the turncoats will stand out like a sore thumb now. Anyone who crosses the aisle and votes for crap legislation is going to become a target. No more excuses.


In the House, 10 races remained too tight to call, with three of them leaning to the Democrats. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who would become the first female speaker in history, called for harmony and said Democrats would not abuse their new status.



She said she would be "the speaker of the House, not the speaker of the Democrats." She said Democrats would aggressively conduct oversight of the administration, but said any talk of impeachment of President Bush "is off the table."


Awwww, she's no fun. If ever a President needed some impeachin', it's this one.



King George had some words for us.



"The American people want their leaders in Washington to set aside partisan differences, conduct ourselves in an ethical manner, and work together to address the challenges facing our nation," he told a news conference on Wednesday.

Just figure that out, George?



The temptation to verbally drop-kick this statement to the moon is so strong right now I can't stand it.



Trying to be a gracious winner here, but the hurts of the past five years are still fresh in my mind, and the desire for payback is powerful. We will see what happens. If the Pubs drop their nasty tone, we can play nice. If not...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

More pictures from the RenCen victory party





Tim Skubick talks to Mark Brewer before the big show.





Democrats watch election returns roll in. They had six flat screen TVs set up on the sides of the floor to watch the Blue Wave roll over the country.






Matt works on election results in the blogger war room.






Carl Levin looks on as Stabenow gives her victory speech.






Debbie thanks the crowd as her husband Tom beams in the background.






John Cherry. I went for the halo effect like they do with the Rotunda pictures in Washington.





Had a split screen thing going. Made for a couple of nice pics.






Watch Dick say bye. Bye, Dick, bye. Please go away now.






Thumbs up from the Guv.






A very happy Debbie Stabenow.





A very happy Jennifer Granholm.


Definitely a night I will remember forever.