Saturday, April 28, 2007

Wacky Legislator Week Continues



Things are fun all over. Maybe it's spring fever.



This guy makes Mike Bishop look like a charm school graduate.



With the threat of a special session looming over a Legislature on Day 88 that has ground to a screeching halt on Montana’s biggest issues, Majority Leader Mike Lange of Billings tore into Gov. Brian Schweitzer at Wednesday’s House Republican Caucus meeting.



“I will never let this guy (Schweitzer) or anybody else cross the line that we set on Day One,” Lange said. “So my message to the governor is ‘Stick it up your ass!’ That’s my message to him. Stick it up your ass!”



Some Republicans applauded, others looked sheepish.



Montana's problem? A billion dollar surplus that they don't quite know what to do with.



Life is hard.



Lange’s remarks to fellow Republicans came after a failed early-morning attempt to negotiate a tax relief plan with Schweitzer and his staff, and offered a glimpse into the intense strain on lawmakers utterly unable to reach a plan balancing the state budget for the next two years while providing some tax relief.



“I give a crap about honor and dignity and sticking up for what you believe in. Today’s the day I’m pissed off at that S-O-B on the second floor (Schweitzer) that thinks he’s going to run the state like a dictator,” Lange said. “So I want each and every one of you to get pissed off today because your way of lifestyle is under threat. It isn’t about a few million bucks in the budget or a deal for a thousand-dollar bill or any other of that crap. It doesn’t mean anything.”



Lange’s quotes come from video shot by Beartooth NBC.



This has made it to YouTube. Technology is a wunnerful thing. Now we can watch asshole legislators from all over the country!



Schweitzer said he is still hopeful a deal can be worked out by Friday, the session’s final day, but if not he will call a special session without pay for legislators “as soon as possible.”



If the Legislature does spill over into a special session, Schweitzer added, “it’s only because they wanted to, not because they couldn’t get it done.”



Without pay. Maybe we should check into that here...

Friday, April 27, 2007

Bishop and the Republicans are running for bipartisan cover



Watch the shift. It's happening now.



Bishop is using his friendship with Dillon to put Granholm and responsible Democrats on the outside of this process so Republicans can continue to stonewall on this year's budget deficit, and the media is starting to pick up on it and oblige this talking point.



Why? Because it's partially true. Without an answer from the House Dems as to what they would do to solve this year's crisis, it will work.



From the Freep, and again this is Christoff-



Senate Republicans have opposed tax hikes for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, although they hinted they would consider new or higher taxes for 2007-08 along with more cost-cutting. Many House Democrats also have shunned a tax increase unless significant numbers of Republicans agree to one.



Bishop uses this to his advantage.



Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, dismissed Granholm's label as unproductive name-calling. Bishop, in a statement, said the House and Senate have cooperated to erase part of the budget deficit.



"The governor seems intent on derailing the bipartisan progress via her obsession with a massive tax increase on Michigan families," Bishop said. "Republicans and Democrats have both demonstrated in legislation that the current-year deficit can be balanced with cuts."



The House has rejected those cuts, but that doesn't stop Bishop from repeating this fallacy over and over.



In the AP story, he also pits the entire Legislature against Granholm-



“I think she’s at a point now where she feels like she can’t live up to her promises,” Bishop said. “That’s not the responsibility of the Legislature to try and cover her on what she said politically.”



And you just knew the Detroit News would jump at this opportunity. From Howes-



You'd be irritated, too, if you'd been re-elected governor in a landslide last November.



And your party, in control of the state House for the first time in a decade, dissed your plan for a 2-percent tax on services in about as much time it took you to propose it.



And your speaker, a private equity shark-turned-Democrat, didn't buy it either. Then he and the guys heading the tax policy committee recast a replacement to the Single Business Tax that Republicans, automakers, key chambers of commerce and other business leaders greeted with the kind of respect and qualified consideration that made you look, well, like an outsider.



Howes then proceeds to go to the Republican be-all, end-all answer to all our problems, gutting teacher health and retirement benefits. If we could just get rid of those, everything would be swell.



Point is, he is reinforcing the new Republican theme, and that is to divide the Democrats.



Every sane person from here to the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula has said that this cannot be addressed with cuts alone, and so far the only action anyone has agreed on is more accounting shifts and payment delays that solve nothing. This is giving the Republicans cover as they continue to fault Granholm.



Bishop has found an opening, and he is exploiting it.



"I remain committed to working with Speaker Dillon in a cooperative manner to solve the problems before us today."



He won't work with the Governor. That much has been made clear. He is using her as a wedge and an excuse for the Senate's lack of action.



Question now is- how will the House Democrats respond to this immediate crisis? Will they continue to back Bishop's play and ultimately share the blame for devastating cuts to schools and health care?



Some schools will be pushed over the edge.



State schools chief Mike Flanagan said the cuts could push more than 100 of Michigan's 554 districts into the red. He said if he were a local superintendent, he'd eliminate non-essential services such as transportation.



"It's devastating," he said, adding that districts have less than two months in the 9½-month school year.



Cuts up end costing you, as schools will try to recoup losses in other ways. Whether it be larger class sizes or fee increases or loss of transportation, you and your kids will pay.



Pinckney High School Principal Jim Darga said his district likely would have to adjust next year's budget to absorb this year's cuts. Pinckney already has eliminated several teaching and staff positions, and increased high school pay-to-play fees from $150 to $170 per sport.



Same goes for health care. One thing that hasn't been trumpeted in the media yet are the cuts to Medicaid, which ultimately you will pay for in the form of higher hospital costs/insurance fees, not to mention the loss of jobs.



Hospitals were spared in last year's budget, but have seen more than $686 million in cuts since 1996, according to The Partnership for Michigan's Health, a coalition of organizations representing the state's doctors and hospitals. Further cuts would spell disaster on several fronts, and could mean more hospital closures, fewer doctors accepting Medicaid payments and less access to care for the poor and uninsured.



"We do not issue this warning lightly. If lawmakers cut health care again, they will be voting to eliminate good jobs and deny health care to residents across Michigan," said Spencer Johnson, president of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.



And let's not forget your local police and fire departments. Mayors are threatening loss of essential protection if their revenues are cut again.



Members of the Michigan Association of Mayors said lawmakers' tax-cutting and tightfistedness in the face of shrinking state revenues have hurt cities and endangered the police and fire protection they provide. Most urged lawmakers to consider tax increases, rather than additional cuts.



-snip-



Largely as a result of those (previous) cuts, there are 1,600 fewer police officers and 2,400 fewer firefighters in Michigan today than there were in 2001, the Municipal League says.



True to form, the Senate Republicans refuse to face reality and point the finger at Granholm for that, too.



Matt Marsden, press secretary for Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, said Republicans suspect the mayors' statements are part of an orchestrated effort by Gov. Jennifer Granholm to ratchet up the pressure for tax hikes.



"We can only spend as much money as the state has," Marsden said. "We've got major problems we need to address, and we all have to tighten our belts. That includes cities."



House Democrats need to address this, and put the ball back in the Senate. Now.



If not, they are going to share in the blame.



This is a no-win situation. The public will be upset with cuts, the public will be upset with taxes. Better to get the revenue and proclaim yourselves the savior of cities and schools, rather than face devastating charges that you did nothing and let you local constitituents down.



First they came for the Governor...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Now with video!- Granholm: Cut schools by $125 per child



(Re-posted to drive the Lefty Blogwire crazy. WOOD now has the video here.)





Not a happy Governor.



LANSING -- Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced this morning she will order a $125-per-pupil cut for public school students to deal with the state's growing fiscal problem.



Letters to school superintendents informing them of the cuts will go out on Monday, the governor said.



The Legislature would then have 30 days to react. Lawmakers could accept or reject the cuts, or come up with the money to avoid the reductions.



"I'm angry at the Senate Republicans for having an extremist ideology. No matter what happens to Michigan, they won't consider revenues," Granholm told reporters this morning.



Go get 'em. Time to call these guys out.



Christoff at the Freep has more. Glad to see him doing this story and not Bell. He is much more thorough and leaves out the editorializing.



A visibly angry Granholm accused Republicans of stonewalling budget negotiations with “extremist” antitax positions that she said are harming schools.



“We need revenues to be able to save our schools,” Granholm told reporters, after she announced the $125-per-pupil aid cut to hundreds of school officials from around the state gathered here for a conference.



“I’m angry at Senate Republicans for having a purely extremist ideology of never, no way ever, regardless of how it impacts Michigan, will they ever consider revenues. That philosophy is damaging to Michigan.“



"Waaaah! She called us names!", said Bishop's Best Boy. (I certainly leave in the editorializing. But I'm not a reporter. Keep that in mind.)



Marsden called Granholm’s remarks “excessive and unnecessary” and said Senate Republicans have moved legislation to erase the current year’s deficit without tax increase – cuts he said Granholm has refused.



“She can throw out all she wants, call us names,” Marsden said. “But Senate Republicans are leading the way in solving the 2007 budget deficit with cuts and reforms.”



And those cuts were rejected by the House also, so you aren't really "leading" anything, are you, Republican mouthpiece? What part of "no" don't you understand?



And notice how we have two different quotes here from Granholm already. That is why these press conferences need to be up on the 'net. If someone puts it up, I will link to it. (edit- and WOOD did, see above)



Just yesterday there were rumors of the Senate Republicans accepting some sort of increase- but Bishop was there singing his "cuts" song, too, so who knows what is really going on at this point.



There have been all kinds of mixed messages in the media as to what the Republicans will do; they don't want to be responsible for these horrific cuts, but yet they don't want to pay for anything either. Perhaps it's best to just sit back and see how this plays out.



Push is coming to shove now. Fingers crossed that some sort of sanity prevails.





UPDATE: 6:44PM- Well, my hope for sanity is probably in vain. I'm sitting here wondering if any Democrats are going to stick up for the Governor or for the rest of us at all. This issue also needs to be addressed-



The House has voted to close some of what they call tax loopholes, which could raise more than $60 million. House Democrats have proposed some other tax increases but haven't voted on them, and it's not clear if any of the suggestions have enough support to pass the chamber.



The House hasn't taken much of a stand. And we've got Bishop taking repeated swipes at the Governor while he proclaims that he and Dillon are "Best Friends Forever!"



Bishop said he and Democratic House Speaker Andy Dillon are making progress on fixing the budget, without Granholm's involvement.



"For some reason, she feels the need every once in a while to explode and just act absolutely like a child," Bishop said.



That statement is unconscionable, and I hope that the MDP (not holding my breath there) or the Senate Dems say something about it.



The Senate Republicans are insisting on massive cuts to schools, cities and health care, and I'm not seeing a lot of life out of the Democrats (besides the Guv) to point this fact out.



C'mon guys. You will be blamed for this also. Just watch what is happening to Granholm. Next they will come for you. I guarantee it.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Baseball and Sunshine...





Meet some possible Tigers of the future...



Chris Cody

Whitecaps pitcher Chris Cody





Whitecaps Catcher James Skelton

Catcher James Skelton. Love the mask.





Louis Ott at 2nd

Louis Ott dives back to 2nd.






Santo DeLeon

3rd base Santo DeLeon





... and one Tiger of the past.



Whitecaps Manager Tom Brookens

Whitecaps manager Tom Brookens





It's so good to be home.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Thousands gather in peaceful Bush protest in East Grand Rapids



Signs and Balloons

Signs and balloons.





Wow. What a crowd.



EAST GRAND RAPIDS -- Between 1000 - 2000 people gathered in John Collins Park along Reeds Lake to protest the appearance of President George W. Bush, far more than police officials expected.



East Grand Rapids Director of Public Safety Mark Herald told 24 Hour News 8 the unusually large number or protesters was unexpected, but not unruly.



It would be impossible to count- they were in the park, up and down the street toward Gaslight Village, in front of the high school... just everywhere.




Ray McGovern

Ray McGovern points towards the "aircraft carrier" on Reeds Lake. He was joking.





Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst who once confronted Donald Rumsfeld in a press conference about the conduct of the war, was the main speaker at the protest, organized locally by the group Activate GR.



Many students from both East Grand Rapids High School and Aquinas College were at the protest, shouting their displeasure about the US war in Iraq. The crowd was loud, banging drums at one point.




Make (Heart) Not War

Make (Heart) Not War





There were a wide range of ages there- lots of kids to be sure, but plenty of older people too.



And lots and lots of cops.



Security was very visible, but the demonstration was peaceful. Many of the crowd moved from the park to the front of the school in an effort to glimpse the president as he left. A scroll was unrolled with a list of Americans who died in Iraq.




Front of East Grand Rapids High

In the front of the school. George saw this as he left, assuming he didn't have his eyes closed. Which is a big assumption.





More pictures located here. Will be adding more later...



WOOD's story on the speech itself is here.



Beautiful day. Was very happy to be there.





End of an Error

End of an Error





House Democrats take up embryonic stem cell research issue (again)



This is one to watch. If it makes it through, I will consider taking the House Dems off my shit list. Until then...



LANSING, Mich. -- A group of Democratic state lawmakers is reviving efforts to try and remove barriers on embryonic stem cell research in Michigan.



The long-running debate over the research at the state and federal levels has exposed a philosophical rift about the research. Many Republicans and some Democrats would rather focus on stem cell research that doesn't involve embryos, which they say raises ethical concerns. But the group announcing the reintroduction of legislation Thursday insists that embryonic research holds the most promise for medical research related to diabetes, spinal injuries and a host of other maladies.



Michigan has some of the most restrictive rules in the nation for embryonic stem cell research. Supporters of the research say it would help Michigan attract life science companies and boost the state's economy.



Restrictions will be lifted at the federal level. This will happen eventually. We might have to wait until George is gone, but my guess is that soon after we put a Democrat in the White House(!), it will be one of the first things Congress will pass.



Will Michigan be prepared? Or will we have to turn away jobs and federal $$ because of our restrictive laws?



Sure like Andy Meisner. Wish he was Speaker.



Rep. Andy Meisner, D-Ferndale, introduced similar bills in the last session of the Legislature, but they did not advance in a chamber that then was under Republican control.



Democrats hold a 58-52 advantage in the chamber this year, but that is no guarantee Meisner's bills will pass. House Speaker Andy Dillon, a Democrat from Redford, has said he would not block a vote on embryonic stem cell research but that he would vote against the bills as introduced last session.



Meisner has changed the bills this year in the hopes of getting broader support.



Which Democrats are going to vote against legislation that has such wide support? It will be interesting to find out. If the Bush veto stands, watch for this to be a big issue in '08- and the votes here in Michigan will be under scrutiny.



Other states will be moving ahead with this research, Michigan shouldn't be left behind.

Reminder: Bush Protest Today- EGR 12:15PM



Bush Protest

These posters were all over my blue world today





Collins Park is right on Reeds Lake in East Grand Rapids, a bit of a distance from EGR High.



This protest is getting a lot of play in the media- from WOOD-



An antiwar group known as ACTIVE is planning a protest for 12:15 p.m. Friday at John Collins Park on Reeds Lake, near the school. The group has their own guest speaker, retired CIA officer Ray McGovern who is known for challenging former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld during a 2006 speech in Atlanta.



Some East Grand Rapids students plan to wear black on Friday in their own form of protest.



Roads will be blocked, so get there early-

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Support Your Local Street Musician



Street Serenade

He's good. Drop a buck in the box.





Hi! Before I get another e-mail- yes, I'm alive, I just have some life issues that are demanding my attention right now. Posting will be sporadic until things get settled.



On April 12, 1999, I signed up for a forum called US Politics at about.com because I "just had to say something". Thus began "wizardkitten" as an online political entity...



Eight years. Eight years now I have been doing this in one form or another.



There have been times during those eight years where I had to drop out for awhile- either I just got bored and wanted to do other things, or, more often, serious troubles demanded my time. I always manage to make it back eventually. I am reading, just not a lot of time to write lately.



So, don't be alarmed when I disappear, OK? OK.



I might have some Bush protest pictures for you on Friday- not sure if I can go or not at this point, but I will try.



Peace.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Fido Immortalized



Fido Immortalized


Plans to fit dogs with cement shoes were scrapped by House Democrats after it was determined that it would be "too expensive at this time" and that it would tear up the carpet.






Yeah, yeah, yeah, you want me to say something, I know. What can I say at this point? I had a post started that was titled, "Dems do nothing wrong, admit guilt anyway", but it quickly dissolved into such a bitter rant fest that I lost the heart to write it.



Look, I'm a Cubs fan, OK? I'm used to watching "my team" douse themselves with gasoline and striking a match. It's kind of a tradition. But this isn't a ballgame, this is some very serious business, and it's getting worse every day, and to continue to focus on this petty stuff is unproductive. So, I let it go. Let's hope they have learned a lesson.



Moving on to the important issue here, I will say one thing- I agree with Mike Bishop. Yes, you read that right. I agree with Mike Bishop when he says this-



"It is time for House Democrats to come to the table with a proposal to address the current fiscal crisis."



That was supposed to be this week, a little fact that got lost in the whole "iPod shuffle". As of this writing, they have about three hours to announce something, but I'm not holding my breath here.



The fact that Bishop said that, and not his usual "we did our cuts and you have to accept them" spiel, tells me that the Senate might be amenable to a plan to raise revenue. Also, there was this very interesting story out of the K-zoo Gazette this week that no one picked up on-



Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer says fixing the state's nearly $700 million deficit will require some tax increases, and he says enough Republican senators will break party ranks to support them when the budget is presented.



The next part of the story is a framing script I would dearly love to hand to Dillon and have him read at the next press conference, but perhaps we shouldn't let the House Dems have any more press conferences at this point.



Just go read the whole story. It ends with this-



Republicans control the Senate, 21-17, and Schauer said Democrats would need three Republicans to support a plan with tax increases. He said there are more than three who would endorse such a proposal.



"What we've heard from a number of members is encouraging things, statements that they understand it will take a comprehensive approach to solving problems," he said.



"I think there will be a number of (tax) loophole closings and some other smaller pieces, some of which the governor's proposed."



Schauer believes replacing the Single Business Tax, creating a services tax, raising the income tax, or some combination of the services and income tax, are the most likely choices facing legislators.



Let's get these guys in the Witness Protection Program, and let's get to it. We don't have the time to mess around anymore.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

There were no iPods, only bad journalism



Here is an interesting bit of information on the iPods from WOOD's Rick Albin-



Democrats talked about bringing technology to education during a press conference with House Speaker Andy Dillon last week. In that discussion, the idea of buying iPods or mp3 players for students came up.



But quickly, the question "How can the state afford to buy iPods for students when there isn't enough money to go around right now?" was asked.



In reality, there was never a plan to buy all students iPods. There is a $38 million line item to pay for technology, far less than it would take to buy mp3 players for 1.65 million students.



If I'm not mistaken- and someone please correct me if I'm wrong about this- the iPod story broke with the Detroit Free Press in this Kathleen Gray/Dawson Bell write-up about the press conference-



Also on the table, and playing a more prominent role Thursday, were expensive new programs, including $100 million for investments in Michigan's downtowns and a $38-million proposal that would provide iPods or MP3 players for all Michigan students to use as learning tools.



The Detroit News made no mention of iPods in their story, so I have to believe it started with the Freep, although the News did run a scathing editorial the next day that reinforced the idea.



So, my apologies to Mr. Dillon, although it would have been nice to a) have the press conference up on the web for all to see, or, b) have a statement from the House Dems clarifying exactly what was said.



After watching the full video of Granholm's "put the cuts on the table" press conference in February, I'm beginning to understand how the press chops up quotes to use out of context to fit their narrative. It would be very handy if we could see these things in their entirety and call them out when they do stuff like this.



Seems the Freep is turning into a righty blog that would make RedState proud. Perhaps we should start questioning them as a source for information if they make errors of this caliber.



UPDATE: From the front page of today's GR Press-



State Rep. Tim Melton, D-Pontiac, said he has been unfairly criticized for the plan, which he says focuses more on teacher training than buying the popular hand-held devices, which hold music, video and data and are used by some colleges, including Grand Valley State University.



Melton, chairman of the House's Education Policy Committee, dismissed reports that he wanted the state to buy an MP3 player for each of the state's 1.7 million students as an exaggeration. But he said the state needs to push the use of popular technology to keep up with colleges.



Dawson Bell, please report to the principal's office. Dawson, to the principal's office immediately. Thank you.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Remember These?



More Crocuses

Because I wanted something pretty to look at





Just a few quick thoughts on some things I can't ignore...



  • Before we have a "I was for the iPods before I was against them" moment from the House Democrats, someone needs to grab them by the collar and give them this frame-



    "Democrats want to give our children the tools and education they need to succeed in the 21st Century job market. It is time to remind people that Republicans want to cut funding for our schools and that would make our state less competitive for the jobs of the future".



    Repeat as necessary. Turn this right back to the reality of the situation.



    Do you think you guys can handle that? Or are we going to see Andy Dillon in a tank sometime this week?



    C'mon people. If I can figure this out, so can you.





  • Thanks to the Isabella County Dems for putting up video of Granholm's convention speech. You were right, Christine- it's a good one.





  • Thanks go to Mark Schauer for his great editorial in the Detroit Free Press. He "gets it"-



    For Michigan to emerge strong from the current economic crisis, we need to modernize our tax structure so that investment can and will happen. We need to fix the parts that no longer work, to ensure that Michigan's taxes and revenues are both fair and predictable.



    Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Democrats in the Legislature have a shared goal of giving our children every advantage in the new global economy, providing training and opportunities for workers whose jobs have been shipped out-of-state, and creating a health care system that is second to none.



    Michigan Republicans have shown time and again that they are more concerned with political maneuvering. The easy route is to rail against tax increases and ignore the structural problems inherent in our current budget.



    Republican leaders in Lansing have stuck to that mantra for far too long. Their refusal to recognize the gravity of the problem is a major factor in the mess we face today.



    Mark needs to give some framing lessons to the House.





  • Thanks go to Kos, Nirmal and Zack for pointing out this article in the Nation. Can only dream about what we could do if we were supported in this endeavor. Thanks go to Zack for listening to me whine. ;-)



    Maybe someday...





  • Thanks again to Paddy who secured me a permanent picture link on Cliff's blog- that is just too cool. I love it when people love da pictures. Makes me all smiley and stuff.





    Here's another reminder of spring- hope it comes back soon. I've got a ball game to go to tomorrow...





    Red Yellow Pretty

  • Saturday, April 07, 2007

    Mike Bishop's Marching Orders- The Norquist "No"



    Much is being made over at Michigan Liberal about Mike Bishop signing a pledge to the Norquist folks saying that he would never, ever vote to raise taxes.



    It calls into question just how closely Bishop will follow Grover Norquist's philosophy. Maybe the next available reporter who isn't named Dawson Bell should take Mike aside and ask him about that pledge, and while they are at it, maybe they should also ask him if he agrees with this statement that Norquist gave to the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 1st. (courtesy of Think Progress)



    NORQUIST: Nothing good happens in the next two years out of this Congress. Nothing good.



    If you read in the newspaper that there’s a bill with a nice sounding name, and it sounds in the first sentence like the bill is good, you haven’t read the whole bill.



    Nothing good happens. They’re not going to cut taxes.



    Look, get married, develop a hobby, learn to belly dance, learn to golf — you know, we got two years free, but we gotta spend some time and effort playing defense here.



    Because the Democrats are going to be like young men on prom dates — they’re gonna keep asking the same question of us over and over and over again. And our job is to say “no, no, no, no” for two years.



    It doesn’t do us any good to go “no, no, yes” okay? It has to be “no” for two years in a row. It’s going to be tiresome, it’s going to be boring. People are gonna go, “oh maybe this bill isn’t as bad as it looks.” Don’t eat it, don’t swallow it, don’t touch it. Nothing good passes this Congress.



    Plan for the future and read novels.



    When you look at the bills that have passed in the Michigan House so far, and the statements/media impressions from Bishop's office that have followed, it appears that this is exactly the tactic the Republicans will take here in our state.



    Which of the following bills have a chance to get through the Senate? Let's start with the auto accident damages bill-

    Under the measure passed Wednesday, an injured person could sue for lost wages and noneconomic damages under broader terms than now defined in state law and through court decisions, making it easier for people injured in auto accidents to sue.



    The response from the Republicans?



    The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it may not be a high priority and may likely face opposition from Republicans who control the chamber.



    -snip-



    A spokesman for Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop said the House-passed bill would require extensive review and added that Bishop's top priority is resolving the current budget deficit, making it unlikely the bill will come up for consideration in the Senate any time soon.



    That would be the budget deficit they "resolved" in one night. I'm sure they had to put some prior thought into which citizens they would cut the deepest, but it probably didn't take all that much time to read from the master list entitled, "Get the Poor". Just had to fill in the numbers.



    OK, moving on. How about that drug company immunity bill? Jack Lessenberry had the best take on that in an article worth reading in its entirety, but here is the pertinent point-



    Write, call, scream at or otherwise put pressure on your friendly homegrown state senator — especially Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, a Republican from Rochester. Here's why: Naturally, Bishop is going to oppose any bill that puts people ahead of corporations.



    -snip-



    What the Republican leadership will try to do is to bury this bill in committee and prevent it from ever coming up for a vote. Big Pharma has plenty of lobbyists who are working hard to help them do this, by the way.



    And no way the anti-bullying law gets through as written. It struggled in the House as the Republicans objected to protecting those gay kids- what do you think All-Pro Homophobe Cropsey is going to say if it ever hits the Senate floor?



    While the Democratic-led state House passed anti-bullying legislation the day Cheatham and 200 supporters visited the Capitol, it was opposed by Republicans and may die in the Senate, which is controlled by the GOP.



    How about tax breaks on home purchases?



    Allowing purchasers over the next 18 months to inherit the lower, constitutionally capped property tax bills paid by the sellers could be approved by the Democrat-controlled House as early as today. The House Commerce Committee approved it Tuesday.



    Republicans are wary, and some local government groups are opposed. Leaders in the Republican-run Senate say the bill is not high on their list of priorities.



    Noticing a pattern?



    Watch for the phrase "not high on the list of priorities" from now on. There is a really good chance that we will hear it quite often. As we have learned from the recent budget negotiations, about the only thing that Mike Bishop seems to be able to say to the citizens of Michigan is "no".



    Oddly enough, when someone says "no" back to the Republicans, it fails to register.



    "The governor has said to force cuts that would hurt people is not acceptable. ... The Republicans have not taken steps to resolve the problem responsibly," Granholm's spokeswoman said.



    "If they aren't aware of what this financial crisis is all about, I think the problem is bigger and deeper than we realize when it comes to the Senate Republicans. We've made it clear that we're in a financial emergency."



    Republicans countered that they've laid out a plan for dealing with the deficit.



    "We've not seen the House or governor accept the cuts by the Senate to balance a $900 million shortfall," said Matt Marsden, spokesman for Republican Senate Majority Mike Bishop of Rochester.



    And you're not going to. And you've been told that. You would think that you would've learned that lesson from the last election.



    "No" works both ways out here in the real world, whether Grover Norquist likes it or not.

    Tuesday, April 03, 2007

    Paddy's Subterranean Homesick Blues



    Skate Kids 1

    Skate kids in the Eastown





    You know you want a Yesterdog. You know you do. Better get up here and get one.





    (For my friend Paddy, who has been posting my pictures on Cliff Schecter's blog and driving my hits right through the flippin' roof, relatively speaking)

    Sunday, April 01, 2007

    Baseball is life....



    ... the rest is just details really annoying right now.



    Starting Wednesday, you can find me here-



    Laster Home Run Pan

    Jeramy Laster hits a three run homer, 7-23-06. Laster will be back with the Whitecaps this year.



    1000px wide version can be found here .



    It won't look like that on Wednesday, but I don't care. Just to be back there is all that matters.



    Happy Opening Day!