Friday, August 29, 2008

Pictures from Denver


This was my vantage point from last night's speech. With the flags and the signs and the enthusiatic Democrats constantly waving both, all I could do was stick my camera in the air above my head and click away. There are more up at Flicker - check out this page and start scrolling back. Finally got a chance to work on a few from Hillary's awesome speech the other night too. Can't wait to get all this home and look at them on my regular computer.

Been running non-stop. Between that and the spotty internet access (no air card) just haven't had time to put together any kind of coherent diary on all of this - but I will say one thing, it has been an amazing time. I've talked to some very nice people from all over the country, and I've got some great shots of the city of Denver, Michigan and national politicians (I'm collecting them like a kid collects baseball cards), as well as the media people (OMG I am paparazzi. But nice paparazzi), and eventually I will get my thoughts together. But right now, I've got an hour to get out of this hotel room, and I still can't fit everything in the suitcases- so I gotta go.

One note - even though I'm right in the middle of all of this, I'm totally disconnected from the media because I just haven't had time. No blogs, no papers, just a bit of CNN, who has replayed the action every night. It's a strange feeling not knowing what the talking heads are saying about the convention- and it's rather nice.

Happy Labor Day everyone, and I will get more of the view from Denver up when I can...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"The whole world is watching"

So I'm wandering the streets of Denver and I ran across this...







I don't know where this group ended up - it was huge, with police presence to match...

We now return you to your regularly scheduled convention. Sorry I've been gone - been very, very busy taking as many pics as I can, and will get them up as soon as possible.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Monday Night Mosh Pit - Pictures from the Convention

Floor 5384

Check the Flickr set for some pictures from Monday night-

The floor is crowded. As in, I have bruises from trying to get through the masses. No joke. Will try to write more later - have been going non-stop and I am operating on very little sleep right now. Just soaking this all in... and playing paparazzi. Big fun in Denver!

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama gave a great speech - and loved the moment with Barack and the kids.

Ted Kennedy

Ted. What can I say. Very moving. Had a hard time getting pictures - the aisles got very crowded at that point.

Kathleen Sebelius

Kathleen Sebelius was getting interviewed right behind us.

Caroline Kennedy

The stage is absolutely amazing in person. Beautiful. Pink Floyd would be proud.

Jesse Jackson Jr.

Jesse Jackson Jr.

Tom Brokaw

Tom Brokaw. All your favorite media personalities are here.

That's it for now - check back later for more!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Big Tent Bloggers

Big Tent Bloggers

Pictures of Markos, Darryl Hanah, Van Jones and the Rocky Mountains....


All the front facing pics of Kos looked goofy, so you get a profile.

Darryl Hanah

Darryl Hanah talks about how she went off the grid years ago.

Van Jones

Van Jones wrote "The Green Collar Economy". Liberal Lucy from Progress Michigan did an interview with him - check for it over there...


The view from the Michigan delegation hotel, Very nice place. We can see the mountains from our hotel if we look between the buildings. :-)

Will try to have more up later - but it might have to wait until tonight depending on how busy we get....

Stay tuned!

Greetings from Denver

Denver Skyline

The Denver skyline from Coors Field.

Some photos from the trip. The past two days have been a blur - soaking in this beautiful country from the train, to wandering the streets of Denver today - I haven't had much sleep, so I'll just throw out some pics with a description of the journey so far.

Jump over the flip to see a few... or just check the Flickr detail page to see them what I have managed to get processed up to now. There are plenty more, but the pillow looks SO inviting...

(warning: heavy graphics)

Working backwards, here is Denver today...


The city is decked out. From bar marquees and storefront windows to balloons on the parking meters, it's all about the convention, baby. The Democrats have landed...

Repubs Like War

... and so have the Republican protestors. This was downtown near the Capitol building, 20-25 folks with signs chanted and yelled at the cars passing by.


The vendors are out in full force - this guy was outside of Coors Field. And speaking of Coors Field...

Coors Field Game Time

... what a beautiful ballpark. Reminds me of Comerica. The day was perfect for baseball - Rockies win 4-3 in 12 innings. We didn't stay for the whole game, and I will spare you more pictures here - but I can't wait until I get a chance to work on the many pictures I have from the park.

Back to the trip, and a few short impressions. Colorado this morning was foggy, so I didn't get many shots from the train of the scenery. Mostly flat until you get to Denver anyway. Cattle. Farms. Flowers in the fields. Nebraska - we went through in the dark. I have vague memories of the station in Omaha as we stopped and they let us off for a short break. I loved riding the train and looking at the sights - but it is hard sleeping.

Iowa is still recovering from the floods. Was surprised to see a bunch of houses still in standing water around Gulfport (? I believe) - right next to Burlington. The things we forget when they disappear from the news. A lady on the train told us that some folks were allowed to return to their houses just last week. You can see the waterline on this next house...

Iowa Floods - Gulfport

In Illinois, we had the winner of the Joe Biden look-alike contest join us. This gentleman is a delegate - and when he walked down the platform with the media filming him, I had to rub my eyes because I thought I was seeing things. Had a good chuckle over that.

Joe's Stunt Double

Farms and more farms, and some farms of the future are sprouting up across the country. In Illinois, further proof the rest of the world moves on without us....

Illinois Wind Farm

Not the greatest picture because they were quite far away (and this was a fast moving train) - but I was excited to see one. So sorry that Mike Bishop is preventing us from seeing this in Michigan.

I had some time in Chicago to hang around Union Station...

Chicago Union Station

... where I saw that the Sun Times had ripped off the title of my diary.

Sun Times

Oh well.

Stay tuned for more from Denver - I will do my best to get them up as quick as I can. The next few days are going to be very busy and very exciting - and I'm looking forward to it.

But for now... it's late even for Mountain Time, and breakfast comes early. Have a great day everyone, and look for us on the floor...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's Biden

Yesterday, as we were laughing at how the media was being punked by the Obama campaign on the veep selection, I said to my father, "I hope he does it at 3 in the morning".

Let the media frenzy begin-

Ending days of speculation, Obama announced the decision on his Web site, featuring a photo of the two.

"Barack has chosen Joe Biden to be his running mate," the announcement said. "Joe Biden brings extensive foreign policy experience, an impressive record of collaborating across party lines, and a direct approach to getting the job done."

Obama's camp also sent a text message and e-mail to supporters.

Biden, a Roman Catholic originally from the battleground state of Pennsylvania, will bring not only foreign policy expertise to the ticket but strong working-class roots.

My first reaction is, "Sure. OK." I don't have any strong feeling about Joe one way or the other. Probably isn't a good sign when you think about it. Glad it's not Bayh who bores me to tears, so there is that. Joe is entertaining, to be sure.

My second reaction is one of sadness for Hillary and her people - sorry netroots, I know that she is unpopular with most that run in this circle, but she has a great number of fans out in the real world who are going to be very disappointed. I feel like she earned the slot - but ultimately the choice is up to Obama, and I respect his decision.

Off to catch a train. Chat away. And if you don't, Joe will do it for you. ;-)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Big Government Conservative Hypocrisy

Turns out conservatives loves them some big government when it suits their agenda. Wow, what a surprise.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Later she explained the two strands of current conservative thought, “Proudly speaking, there are two strands of conservative thinking in America right now. There’s libertarian conservatism and then authoritarian conservatism. Small leave me alone government here and big intrusive government over here. And of course, nobody calls themselves an authoritarian conservative…Nobody says I am for big, intrusive government, vote for me. They all say they are on the libertarian side, no matter what kind of Republican is running on what kind of platform, they all say they’re for smaller government, limited government, personal freedom. Those are their buzz words.”

She continued by examining the last decade of Republican policies, “But look at the Republican policies over the last decade. Expanding the National Security Agency, NSA, so it has the ability to wiretap phone calls without a warrant and sift through e-mails, look through library records. Is that small leave me alone government or is that big intrusive government? In the last administration, with a Republican president and Republican controlled Congress, they increased the size of the federal government by more than any other time since World War II when they created the Department of Homeland Security. Small government conservatives, supposedly, put in place a policy of indefinite detention, allowing an American citizen to be arrested and held without charges for years and years and years. I mean, they support the death penalty. The government’s right to kill you. You want to talk about balancing the power of the individual versus the power of the government? Sort of doesn’t get more fundamental than that. Republicans all say they are small government libertarian conservatives. But what they have done when they have power is authoritarian big government stuff.

Some Travelin' Music

Join us at Blogging for Michigan for coverage of the Democratic National Convention...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Must See Obama TV Ad - "Seven"

Hat tip to Paddy ~ thanks, this made my day.

Time to fight fire with fire.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Reform Michigan Government Now Proposal Cannot Go On Ballot

Breaking now - court sez, "It's all too much".

The Michigan Court of Appeals says Reform Michigan Government Now proposal cannot go on the November ballot.

In a decision released late Wednesday, the court says the ballot measure is "of a reach and expanse never before seen" in Michigan constitutional initiatives.

It says the state constitution contains specific language requiring that any proposal of the magnitude and enormity of the RMGN initiative petition be submitted to a constitutional convention, and then to the citizens for approval.

Wonder what else we could have spent that money on...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Senate Republicans Still Deny RPS Will Create Jobs

Rumor in the Lansing rags has the legiscritters close to an agreement on the energy bills, but a statement released yesterday from Sen. Cameron Brown, vice chair of the Senate Energy Policy and Public Utilities Committee, shows that the Senate Republicans are still in deep denial about the need for a renewable portfolio standard for Michigan. To show how far they are willing to go to deny the potential to create jobs in Michigan, Brown calls alternative energy job creation a "myth", and uses a disingenous math trick to try to fool the public.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, described as the nation’s primary laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development, estimates that a community can expect between two and five full-time jobs to be created with a 50-100 megawatt wind farm. As the most cost effective renewable energy, wind is expected to make up the majority of Michigan’s proposed RPS mandate.

To meet a 10 percent RPS, it is estimated that the state would require 3,680 megawatts of wind energy. Assuming approximately 73 wind farms producing 50-megawatts each would be necessary to meet the 10 percent mandate, Michigan residents can expect roughly 365 full-time jobs to be created. When taking into consideration the $8 billion in electric rate increases estimated by advocates of the mandate, each new job would cost customers approximately $20 million.

“Certainly, we should do everything possible to encourage increased usage of renewable energies,” Brown said. “But Michigan residents should expect much more than 365 new jobs in exchange for electric rate hikes of $8 billion or more.

By focusing solely on running a wind farm AFTER it is built (at least I believe that is what he is alluding to here), Brown wants you to overlook all the OTHER categories of job creation that the RPS would bring - jobs that manufacture wind turbine parts, jobs that build wind farms in the first place, jobs that maintain and upgrade the power grid to bring this online, etc. and so on. From manufacturing all the way down to customer service, the list is endless of the spin-off industries and jobs that renewable energy would create.

What is astounding is the fact that the Senate Republicans would go so far out of their way to come up with this convoluted formula to try to deny this truth. Need more proof? Doesn't take long to find it. Here is yet another example of the job creation that our Senate Republicans are reaching so hard to deny - take the case of Colorado and their 20% by 2020 RPS. Last Friday, they announced that Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas would be building two more production facilities in the state...

Among the signs is the arrival of Vestas, a Danish wind turbine company, which announced Friday the construction of two more manufacturing plants and 1,350 new jobs, bringing the company's total in Colorado to 2,450.

... and with just one company, Senator Brown's numbers on job creation are shown to be the misleading fallacy that they are. And when you look at the story of Colorado and how its voters had to mandate a RPS for the state because the legislature wouldn't move on it... it becomes clear what needs to be done here.

Xcel, a leading Colorado energy company, fought against instituting a renewable portfolio standard at first. But a funny thing happened on the way to creating jobs and investment - the voters pushed it through, and Xcel now embraces the RPS whole-heartedly, and the Colorado legislature has voted since then to increase that "mandate" that our Senate Republicans claim would be so horrible.

State leaders are thrilled with the economic benefits that have come with the hundreds of new research and manufacturing jobs in pursuit of alternative power.

Hundreds? Now it is in the thousands.

Xcel fought the RPS. They now regret it. The year was 2004 - yet another indication of how far behind we are on this.

After legislative efforts failed, proponents of renewable energy turned to the ballot that year. The initiative, Amendment 37, required the state's biggest utilities to generate 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources. Advocates found themselves facing off against Xcel, which said it feared for its bottom line.

"We ended up opposing that amendment. In retrospect, I wish we hadn't," said Frank Prager, Xcel's vice president for environmental policy. He said utility companies are inherently conservative, yet find themselves facing a transformation in an industry that, as he put it, has changed little since Thomas Edison's time.

Xcel found that federal tax credits worked to their advantage, Amendment 37 (yes, Colorado voters raised their own rates willingly) provided the capital needed to invest in the technology - and the growth in the industry took off. Colorado then said, "More, please. We like mandates." And getting there was easier than they thought.

By the end of 2007, Xcel had met Amendment 37's goal and endorsed Ritter's request to double it to 20 percent by 2020. That measure passed the Colorado legislature easily: With the utility on board and public sentiment clear, the bill collected 50 sponsors in the 65-member House.

Executives at publicly traded Xcel stress their twin desires to make money and to insulate the company from the risks of unproven technology. As Prager put it during an interview in the company's downtown Denver headquarters: "It's absolutely essential that the state offer us something that makes it worth our while to be green."

Amendment 37 allows utilities to collect a fee from customers to invest in renewable fuels; it averages $12.72 a year for a typical homeowner with a monthly bill of $73. When the renewables goal doubled last year, so did the fee. Prager said the fee has provided Xcel $37.6 million between March 2006 and July 2008 for capital investment in wind and solar.

Spent a little money, got thousands of jobs and millions in investment. And for the anti-coal folks out there, an added bonus occurred as Xcel has moved to alternatives.

Meanwhile, Xcel's latest plan, filed with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, calls for retiring two of its aging coal-fired power generators.

Colorado is moving rapidly in the right direction, and it has paid off. Senator Brown may wring his hands over the increased energy cost to Michigan consumers, but no one yet has shown a scenario where energy costs are going to magically decrease anytime soon. Face it people, costs are going to increase no matter what we do - we might as well take that money and create jobs, rather than keep sending it out-of-state to buy coal and other energy needs. And as far as the claims that these bills will create a monopoly for DTE and Consumers by capping competition at 10%, one question still remains: Why aren't we seeing that competition now? Where are these energy providers that would somehow be denied a chance to sell their product? Currently, at last report, alternative providers were at 4%. There is still room for growth here in Michigan, and if we hit the ceiling, this is something that can be revisited in the future. No one likes the idea of handing the keys to DTE and Consumers, but no one has moved towards creating a bigger playing field as it stands now.

Are there questionable things in this energy package? Yes there are. Big ones. And we will have to deal with them as consequences arise. But to do nothing at all would send Michigan further down the list of states that are currently considered by new and existing companies for investment. Bottom line is: Every day that we wait, job providers are going to states that have a renewable portfolio standard. There is no getting around that fact, as much as the Senate Republicans want to deny it. Matt Marsden can cry "politics" all he wants, but it is pretty apparent to everyone just who is playing politics when they have to keep mentioning election season as an excuse for their own inaction.

Maybe we will get a surprise and this will get done soon, but Senator Brown’s elaborate ruse seems to indicate otherwise – and that makes states like Colorado very happy.

“Henry Ford didn’t need a government mandate to sell cars, and Kellogg’s didn’t need a government mandate to sell cereal,” Brown said. “When renewable energies reach a point where they are sufficiently affordable and efficient, they won’t need a government mandate to sell their products either.”

Yes, perhaps Henry Ford should have waited until someone else made the cars first. Sounds like a plan - if you're a Senate Republican.

Granholm & MEGA Announce 9,495 New Michigan Jobs

So, I'm walking to the store to buy cigarettes improve my cardio-vascular health and check out the new spicy sweet chili Doritos locally grown organic fruits and vegetables, and, oh snap!, we are creating jobs in spite of the Senate Republican attempts to obstruct progress. Check out this screaming headline in today's Grand Rapids Press:

Press Headline

In case that is hard to read: "State tax deals clear way for possible 1,100-plus area jobs" , with the companies highlighted in the sidebar and along the top. Checking out the story on the web, we find that MEDC (Michigan Economic Development Corporation) and MEGA (Michigan Economic Growth Authority) and Governor Granholm are announcing tax breaks for 15 company expansions across the state that will create nearly 9,500 jobs.

They won't come all at once; some could take as much as five or 10 years to arrive.

But in a region and state hungry for bright economic news, today's announcement that more than 1,100 jobs could be created through expansions by five area companies was hailed by officials from Grand Rapids to the Lakeshore.

The expansions are among 20 statewide expected to receive Michigan tax incentives today that officials say will create 6,853 direct jobs, plus another 2,600 spin-offs.

As usual, in an attempt to make me crazy drive local interest, these stories tend to break down by region in the state media, and MEDC hasn't put up the full release yet. Here is how the Press describes it -

In West Michigan, much of the growth will be in Zeeland and Holland, where nearly 900 jobs are anticipated through three expansions.

"This is big," said Randy Thelen, president of the Lakeshore Advantage regional economic development organization. "This means 900 new jobs with a payroll of about $40 million to the Holland/Zeeland market. That's a lot of new purchasing power."Holland Mayor Al McGeehan and Zeeland Mayor Les Hoogland both plan to be in Lansing today for the official announcement.

"I'm very excited for our community, which has always been pro-business and pro-expansion," Hoogland said. "Our major industries are doing well, but more good-paying jobs are always welcome."

Alternative energy was a common theme for several of the 20 projects expected to win tax breaks at today's meeting of the Michigan Economic Growth Authority.

Go read the story for the list of companies, projected salaries, and plans they have to create jobs over here in the west.

The Freep covers the Detroit area:

Gov. Jennifer Granholm said today's batch of MEGA projects marks the second straight record month of job-creation projects using an expanded toolbox of incentives designed to diversify Michigan's economy away from its historic reliance on the automobile industry.

Six of the 20 projects are in Wayne and Oakland counties, ranging from an expansion by Troy-based staffing firm Kelly Services that is expected to create 572 jobs, to a new Van Buren Township facility for Ricardo Inc., a high-tech outfit involved in emissions and battery testing. The 45 new jobs at Ricardo are expected to pay an average of $84,000 a year.

Again, check out the Freep story for the list of companies in that area. So far, no one has covered the inevitable complaints from Nancy Cassis, but I'm sure those will be forthcoming.

Keep watching the MEDC press release page for the full details on this announcement. They will have it up there eventually. Until then, check your local listings for the new jobs coming to your area.

UPDATE: Read the full release here - turns out it is 15 companies and 5 brownfield projects. Story above corrected on number of companies.

Monday, August 18, 2008

AP Notices House Republican Political Games

I swear, I want to fall to my knees and weep with joy when the traditional media finally make note of the games that the Michigan Republicans love to play. The House stunt of last week made the papers, and the AP tells it like it is...

Michigan's full-time legislature rarely meets in summer, especially in an election year, but that hasn't stopped political games from being played over whether lawmakers should be in session.

House Republicans held a news conference last week to ask Democrats who control the chamber to immediately return to session and address the state's high unemployment and home foreclosure rates _ issues that have been around for far longer than this summer.

The GOP props included a picture of the Capitol with a "gone fishing" sign slapped across it. Later, the Michigan Republican Party sent out news releases complaining that a handful of House Democrats in districts the GOP hopes to win this fall have "worked only one day this summer" while costing taxpayers $13,000 each.

The fact that the same is true of GOP House members wasn't mentioned. Neither was the fact that the Republican-led state Senate hasn't met much this summer.

Didn't meet much last summer either (remember?) and they were facing a massive budget crisis at the time. This is nothing new to the Legislature - even when they were led by the now complaining DeRoche, summer was always a time to take off.

A check of 2005-06 records, when DeRoche was House speaker, shows the House's summer session schedule wasn't much busier then. The House met with enough members to hold a quorum just twice during July and August 2005 and three times during those two months in 2006.

Democratic Floor Leader Steve Tobocman of Detroit dismissed the recent GOP criticism as political posturing in an election year. Tobocman said he'd stack up Democratic session schedules against the GOP's anytime.

"They'd rather do political stunts than be at the negotiating table," Tobocman said of House Republican leaders. The House held 14 session days in June, although it has met only once since then.

Go read the whole article - very well done, with comparisons made to other states and how they operate. There is a companion piece as well.

Thank you AP. Keep up the good work.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sebelius to Launch Michigan Women for Obama Tuesday

There is a temptation here to read tea leaves... well, never mind that for now. We will know soon enough. Tuesday, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius will join Stabenow, Dingell and Bell here in our state to discuss Obama's platform on "family issues".

Barack Obama’s Michigan Campaign for Change today announced that Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius will be traveling to Michigan this Tuesday, August 19th, to launch Michigan Women for Obama and to hold a town hall meeting with women from across Michigan to discuss issues facing Michigan’s women and their families. Governor Sebelius will be joined by Former Wayne County Commissioner Edna Bell and DNC Member Debbie Dingell for the announcement.

Governor Sebelius will also be joined by United States Senator Debbie Stabenow in a town hall meeting where they will discuss Senator Obama’s commitment to the issues that matter to women and families, including affordable health care, economic security, and equal pay.

No Granholm? Seems odd. Might have previous engagement.

More details as they become available.

UPDATE: Press conference is tomorrow at 10:45 am, town hall will be held at 11:25 am, Macomb Community College, John Lewis Center, K Building, Room 301. Stabenow and Sebelius will be present for the town hall. (No Dingell? She is worth the trip alone.)

Tuesday night, Michigan Women for Obama will hold house parties across the state, and there will be conference call availability with Stabenow and Granholm.

And there you have it.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Denver, We Have A Problem

From the New York Times, of all places -

Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick of Detroit will be allowed to attend this month’s Democratic National Convention after a judge on Thursday lifted an order that had forced Mr. Kilpatrick to wear an electronic tether and stay in a three-county area because of pending assault and perjury charges.

Judge Leonard Townsend of the Wayne County Circuit Court called the restrictions on Mr. Kilpatrick, who spent a night in jail last week after violating his bond by traveling to Canada, “silly” and unwarranted.

“The defendant may go to the Democratic National Convention,” Judge Townsend said during an arraignment for the mayor. “I don’t think the people of the city of Detroit should be represented by a person wearing prison clothes or wearing a tether.”

Kwame, who bowed out of an appearance at Joe Louis, now wants to go to Denver? Oh, joy. Won't that be fun.

And as predicted, the Republicans are going to make a political issue out of this. The governor calls it...

Gov. Jennifer Granholm said Wednesday it would be "incredibly cynical and wrong" for Republicans to use Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's growing controversy as a bludgeon against presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

"I fear they will do that. It's been their practice in the past," Granholm told reporters outside the Capitol. She said Michigan voters should see through any such effort as an unfair attack on Obama.

... and Craig DeRoche steps right up to show everyone how incredibly cynical, wrong and unfair the Michigan Republicans can be. He sees no problem linking the two. When asked about rumors (and please provide proof of this, Mr. Skubick) about the Obama campaign intervening in the Kilpatrick affair, Craig had this to say-

"Wow. It's hard to find the words to respond to that," notes Novi Republican Rep. Craig DeRoche who concedes the mayor is a liability for Obama but adds; it's fair to link the two and judge Obama "by the company he keeps."

Sounds like Craig is being baited here, but he sure jumped right up and took the bait. House Republicans are now pressing for a resolution to remove Kilpatrick amongst other things, and demanding Dillon take a vote. Dillon says that Craig is playing politics, and he is. Here is the rest of his statement-

DeRoche says if Obama "throws another one of his personal friends under the bus" it will have no credibility with the voters.

Now Kwame is a "personal friend". Nope, no politics here from the Michigan Republicans, who never pass up an opportunity to dive right into the gutter. DeRoche shows that they are more than willing to play politics with this situation.

How long until the ads start?

UPDATE: The scumballs from the Tennessee GOP are willing play politics with Kilpatrick - as well as the Republican National Committee.

Republicans are stepping up attempts to connect Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's scandal.

Just as Republican candidate John McCain was in Michigan on Wednesday declining to comment about the Detroit mayor's legal problems, the Tennessee Republican Party was putting a video online criticizing Obama for praising the mayor during a 2007 campaign visit to Detroit. And the Republican National Committee this week included Kilpatrick on a mock Facebook page that highlights Obama's connections to unsavory characters such as indicted Chicago real estate developer Tony Rezko.

"Incredibly cynical and wrong", she said. Um, yeah. But are you really surprised by this?

DeVos vs Hoekstra: A "Healthy" Michigan Republican 2010 Primary

I had promised myself I wouldn't do anymore 2010 diaries yet, especially ones based on MIRS rumor, but this was too good to pass up. The thought of these two tearing each other apart makes me want to laugh and throw-up all at the same time.

Gossip has Dick DeVos running around to Republican insiders and telling them that Hoekstra isn't serious about running for governor. Turtle Power Pete begs to differ - and seems to give confirmation that he is running.

"I don't try to tell people what Dick is going to do," Hoekstra told MIRS. "It doesn't bother me. It doesn't hurt me." Depending on what happens, he adds, "[DeVos] could end up looking silly on this."

The two have not talked but when they do, Hoekstra said he will tell DeVos, "I am very serious about doing this and he can do with that what he wants."

If there is one person who has the chutzpah to take on the DeVos $$ and tactics, it's probably Hoekstra - and that has the potential to cause a major rift in the Michigan Republican Party. Certain folks are going to be forced into taking sides, and my guess is they are going to be afraid to side with either one of them out of fear of some powerful repercussions from the other.

Oh boy. Won't this be fun.

While some in town believe a DeVos candidacy would again force other candidates out of the contest, Hoekstra is not a believer.

"A healthy primary could do a lot to energize the Republican Party," the potential candidate contends. Asked if DeVos running again would scare him out of the race, Hoekstra quickly replied with a "no".

Healthy indeed. I think we should all just stand back at a safe distance and watch these two get "healthy" with each other, although a massive amount of clean-up may be involved later.

Eh, let the Republicans handle it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

DeVos Watch: Dick Admits He Would Break Law in Kilpatrick Situation?

Every single time Dick DeVos opens his mouth he gives us more proof of why the man should never hold elected office. As much as we all want to see Kwame Kilpatrick out of the big chair in Detroit - to arbitrarily yank him out without a hearing would not only be illegal by Michigan's constitution, it would set a dangerous precedent that could be used by other governors in the future to remove elected officials that they deem "unable to serve", for whatever reasons they choose - perhaps even political.

Stop and think about that. You don't want a governor that would overturn the will of the people on their judgment alone - you want a procedure in place so governors can't abuse their power.

Watch Dick put the "dick" back in dictatorship as he jumps on the Remove Kwame bandwagon. Mr. Monday Morning Quarterback tells MIRS...

Former GOP gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVOS told MIRS today that if he'd been Governor, he would have already removed Detroit Mayor Kwame KILPATRICK from office.

"That would be yesterday's news," DeVos said. "The issue isn't whether he's innocent or guilty, it's whether he can effectively serve."

So, is Dick admitting that he would be the final judge and jury on who can "effectively serve"? That he would break Michigan's constitutional law whenever he sees fit? If true, it's a damn good thing he isn't governor. Granholm is going by the book here - and that book says that an elected official is due a hearing before they are removed from office. The governor's lawyer Kelly Keenan spelled it out for the Freep-

Michigan Election Law (1954 PA 116, MCL 168.327) authorizes the governor to remove a city officer for specified reasons but states, among other things, that “[t]he governor shall not take action upon any charges made to the governor against a city officer until the charges have been exhibited to the governor in writing, verified by the affidavit of the party making them, that he or she believes the charges to be true...and an opportunity given the officer of being heard in his or her defense.”

Not only must the governor strictly follow the statute, failure to do so could lead a reviewing court to overturn the governor’s action.

Seeing as how Kwame appears determined to fight this every step of the way - you can be sure that if DeVos were governor, his brash action would open a whole new legal can of worms and the situation would get worse, perhaps tied up in the courts for years, costing us millions in taxpayer money.

If we have to go down this road, and given Kwame's refusal to step down and motions to try to drag this out, it appears we must, we have to do it by the numbers so it can't be overturned later. It would be nice to have the Brady Bunch resolution and pull him now - but we have a system in place for a very good reason: you don't want to give any one elected official that kind of power.

For more than 100 years, the Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that this requirement of notice and a reasonable opportunity to present a defense means an accused public official threatened with removal from public office must be given a hearing at which he may offer proofs in his defense.

As recently as 1968, the Michigan Supreme Court reviewed then-Governor George Romney’s attempt to remove a county officer from office and emphasized that fair and just treatment must be guaranteed in such a process because it is a “quasi-judicial proceeding” and the governor’s power must be exercised in such a fashion as to afford due process.

Due process. What a concept. One that Dick DeVos would throw out whenever he decides that an official, elected by the people, can't "effectively serve". Serve Dick, that is.

Something to keep in mind should a certain someone choose to run for governor in the future.

Monkey See, Monkey Do: MI House Republicans Pull Same Stunt as Congress

"Hey! We can do that too!", proclaimed the Michigan House Republicans. "Let's put on a show for the media and pretend like we actually matter for a change!" And then the House Republicans went out and totally contradicted their colleagues in the Do-Nothing Senate. If it weren't so tragic, it would be comical.

You see, the House Republicans are upset that they are on vacation and can't find new ways to prove to Michigan voters how irrelevant and inept they are. They want to come back and show you once again that they certainly know how to blow up the budget, slashing money that they just got done voting to spend, and generally make a big 'ol mess out of everything they touch! From Gongwer-

With most sporting a summer bronze, a group of 15 House Republicans sounded the cry to have Democrats call the chamber back into session in order to deal with the serious problems facing the state. In response, a spokesperson for House Democrats said Republicans should give their colleagues in the Senate a nudge in working out a deal on the most crucial legislative issue of the day - the energy package.

Oops! Forgot that it is the Senate Republicans that won't come back and deal with the "serious problems"! How embarrassing for you! Here's Matt Marsden to tell you that there is no need to be in Lansing. When asked about movement on the energy package, the one thing that has the potential at creating thousands of jobs for Michigan, Marsden told MIRS that he sees no problem with taking time off.

"The Environmental Council doesn't set the agenda in Lansing. Interest groups don't get to tell the Senate when to come back to session," Marsden said. ". . . We don't come until the 27th unless there's an emergency and I don't think this rises to the level of an emergency. What's the point of people yelling, 'Fire! Fire!' in the theater?"

Dunno, Matt, why don't you run across the hall and ask Craig and Dave why they are doing that. Cause they are making y'all look really stupid at this point. Never the less, House Republicans seem to think it would be a grand idea to ignore that job producing energy package and cut a billon (or more) from the budget! From the Freep-

House Republicans called for a $500 rebate to homeowners -- at a cost of about $1 billion -- along with tweaking the state's new business tax to address exorbitant tax hikes for some businesses.

They also called for agreement on a plan to prevent property tax increases when property values fall. Democrats have introduced a similar plan.

The GOP caucus proposed a constitutional amendment that would cap college tuition rates at the rate of inflation.

"There are things we need to do to help Michigan families, and we should be doing it," said Rep. David Hildenbrand, R-Lowell.

Wow, Dave, and you waited until * looks at calendar * August 13th to complain? Back to Gongwer-

Asked why House Republicans were hitting the back to work issue now since the legislative schedule was released back in July and showed the chamber would be off for July and August save for a few Wednesday sessions, House Minority Leader Dave Hildenbrand (R-Lowell) said Republicans thought the chamber would at least be in session on those days, but for the most part those sessions have been cancelled.

Yes, after the Senate Republicans canceled session, the House followed suit. Better go talk to Marsden, because he can't see any reason why you are yelling about this stuff.

One more smart-ass shot, courtesy of MIRS-

MIRS asked Rep. Brian CALLEY (R-Portland) if the Republicans were now promoting the concept that government is needed to solve problems.

"Actually, there is some legislation we could be passing that would help," Calley responded.

In one press conference, the House Republicans not only contradict the leadership of the Senate, they undermine the whole party's philosophy. All for a silly PR stunt.

A big round of applause is in order here. Congratulations, guys. That was beautiful.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Senate Republicans Cancel Session, No Vote on Energy Package This Month

"Will our Lansing legislators finally find the will to act, or will they wimp out again on energy policy as the jobs exodus from Michigan continues? We'll find out this week." - Tom Walsh, Detroit Free Press 8/10

No, Tom, we won't. As predicted, the Senate Republicans are choosing to kick the can down the road for one more month by canceling today's session - the only one scheduled for August. But hey, what's another month, right? Not like Michigan needs the jobs or anything.

Granholm, back in February -

"We've got to have people understand that every day we wait, job providers are going somewhere else. We just lost one, as a matter of fact. A turbine company took us off their list because we don't have a renewable portfolio standard."

Senate Republicans, famous for springing their legislation at the last minute and holding dead-of-the-night votes without the chance for debate, suddenly need more time to "review" whether or not they want to bring economic prosperity and environmental responsibility to our state. Seems like a no-brainer to the rest of the educated world and the 28 states that have gone before us, but as they tell MIRS...

Some Senate Republicans contend that the complex nature of legislation warrants a thorough review.

"First of all, we need to see it in writing," said Sen. Patty BIRKHOLZ (R-Saugatuck).

Puh-leeze, girlfriend. Not buying that excuse. Not when Republicans have acted with lightning speed before when it came to blowing up the state budget. But we will buy the fact that the Senate Republicans are now using the election as an excuse for their inaction on energy. Watch Marsden give it away with this next statement.

The rumor going around Lansing late in the afternoon was that Senate Majority Leader Mike BISHOP (R-Rochester) had blown up the deal and asked that both sides return to square one.

Bishop Spokesman Matt MARSDEN pointed the finger at Democrats, who he said really wanted the bills passed before convention time.

Yeah, like last April, Matt. Or maybe June. Just who is playing politics here? Senate Republicans have stalled on this package until "convention time", and now want to use that against the Democrats and claim the bills are for political gain only. Which is, of course, complete and utter bullshit, but pretty much par for the course when it comes to Senate Republican obstruction.

The Bay City Times is the latest newspaper that calls for action. They review the tax credits passed to entice Hemlock Semiconductor to expand here, and add this on at the end...

We need another nudge toward this goal from our lawmakers in Lansing - one that would cost the state nothing.

Yet, the 7 percent renewable energy standard for Michigan by 2015 that the state Senate passed last month is laughable. It doesn't even reach the way-too-low standard that the House set in April - 10 percent.

Let House and Senate conference committee delegates exercise those puny targets into something with broad shoulders - 20 percent by 2020, or even a 25 percent renewable standard by 2025.

Bold statements are what are needed in order to move Michigan closer to the top of the new race toward sources of clean, renewable energy.

The only "bold statement" Senate Republicans are willing to make is that they will go anywhere and say anything to deny our state progress, and they are doing it in the name of partisan politics. Although the main players say they are "close to an agreement", this delay, and the excuses that have followed, are all the proof you need.

Birkholz noted there are political conventions and Labor Day weekend to contend with.

"House members are anxious to get back out and campaign," she noted. "They have election year concerns."

Republicans have "election year concerns" as well - preventing Michigan from gaining jobs and investment. They need things to be bad in order for Saul's talking points to stick. Always keep that in mind.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Freep Misses the Mark on Senate Republican Obstruction of Energy Bills

I like Tom Walsh. I really do. He is one of my favorites. But today's Freep column entitled, "Will lawmakers' fears cost state new energy policy?" misses the mark on just who is responsible for the delay in getting this work done. Just like last year's budget crisis, short government shutdown, and the subsequent MBT surcharge mess all of that created, the press erroneously tries to spread the blame evenly between both chambers on the energy bills - and that is just plain wrong.

Michigan's legislators appear poised to blow it again.

Poised to punt away a chance to create thousands of jobs.

Poised to again display cluelessness, rather than leadership, about the need for a bold, new approach to energy policy.

Members of the state House and Senate do have a chance this week to redeem themselves, to earn respect from a citizenry that sadly has come to expect ineptitude.

Walsh goes on to tell us that they can vote this Wednesday for energy bills that "set a target that 10% of Michigan's power come from renewable sources by 2015, boost energy efficiency efforts, and set the stage for construction of new, cleaner power plants by DTE Energy and CMS Energy". Sound familiar? That is because the House passed this back in April with strong bipartisan support.

April. And at the time I was grumpy with the House for taking so long; after all, they had started talking about it in earnest last fall as soon as the budget crisis had passed. Jim Barcia had introduced the RPS in the Senate long ago, Granholm had already been working in this direction for quite some time, publicly called for it to be passed last November, and then toured the state for emphasis - and the Senate Republicans proceeded to indicate that they were going to obstruct progress on the bills, calling mandates "unacceptable", and generally started throwing up every excuse they could think of avoid getting this work done. They passed things like the partial birth abortion ban, they tried to "fix" their business tax mistake by blowing up the budget one more time, they had to leave for spring vacation, whatever they could use to avoid dealing with this issue, they can and did.

Why would the Senate Republicans deny Michigan this job creating opportunity? Could it be that the Mackinac Center was against it? How about Dick DeVos? You know that these are the players that are pulling the strings in the Michigan Republican Party. They are calling the shots, and they didn't want this to happen. Came right out and said so. Mike Bishop got his orders from his owners and decided to drag this out as long as he possibly could. When the Senate finally got around to moving the bills in late June, once again they passed legislation in the dead of night with changes made that they knew would be unacceptable to the House and the governor in a move that was widely condemned by, well, nearly every newspaper in Michigan, and further delayed this process. Time for vacation!

And you know what? It worked. Now, the excuse is "the election".

A Lansing lobbyist told me Friday that the Legislature probably will delay acting on the energy bills until the lame-duck period after the November elections, or until next year.

The reason? Fear of casting a vote that might irk some citizens just before the election.

And if they had done it back in April, that wouldn't be an issue now, would it? No. We could have joined the other 28 states that are already enjoying job growth and investment from implementing a renewable portfolio standard.

Granholm, who has been aggressively recruiting advanced energy and other clean-technology firms to locate in Michigan, told me Friday that she has been embarrassed -- during talks with global energy firms and journalists from national publications -- to admit that Michigan still has no target for renewable energy.

"I keep telling my staff, we have two years and four months left in office," Granholm said. "When we look back at this extended period of economic crisis, will we be able to say we used it to really diversify the economy and change the mind-set of our citizens?"

Even T. Boone Pickens, the legendary Texas oilman and Republican Party activist, is now an outspoken advocate for wind, solar, natural gas and other energy alternatives.

Will our Lansing legislators finally find the will to act, or will they wimp out again on energy policy as the jobs exodus from Michigan continues?

We'll find out this week.

And once again, the blame is spread across the board, even though House Democrats got the job done months ago. It was Senate Republicans who held up the budget process last year, it is the Senate Republicans holding up the energy policy this year. Want proof? Just follow all these links, or hit my diaries and start reading back. It's all there.

Republicans have admitted to their obstructionism on more than one occasion. It's a shame and a grave disservice to the public that the traditional media refuses to point out just who is holding up progress for our state.

Schauer: Drill Responsibly, Create New Energy Jobs

Anyone besides me a little bit ticked that we are falling for the Republicans latest diversion hook, line and sinker? Suddenly they are running around with their hair on fire like drilling is the be-all, end-all answer to our energy woes, when any sensible adult can look at the facts and see that it isn't. New drilling was always on the radar, but it was still a minor issue - until they realized they could use it as an election tactic. Now, I'm seeing a bumper sticker around town that says, "NObama. Drill Offshore Now." I wish I was kidding about that - I'm not. I've seen two. And the Democrats have to follow along, when it would behoove them to change the conversation, and get the upper hand on the specifics we talk about... for example, we should be talking about getting away from oil and moving to alternatives, instead of more oil production. No, it can't happen overnight, but it is the direction we need to go, and everyone knows it.

Maybe someday.

Well, since we have already gone down the drilling road, alrighty then, let's play your game, says Senator Schauer. Time to put up or shut up. From the inbox-

“We need to stand up to the oil companies and tell them to drill or get off the pot, and do it in a way that allows us to move toward a renewable energy future,” said Schauer. “As I've consistently said, drilling alone is not the answer, but while it is a part of the current system we should make sure it's done responsibly and that consumers and taxpayers benefit - not just the oil companies."

Yeah. Sounds good. Why are we talking about giving the oil companies more space to drill when they aren't utilizing what they have now? As we have mentioned before, they are taking their billions in record profits and sinking it into Wall Street, because new production involves risk, and they are adverse to that because it might hurt that precious bottom line. So, oil companies, you want to drill, then go drill. But don't sit and cry about how you need MORE land when you won't even drill what you have now. Use it or lose it.

Here are the highlights of Schauer's plan, keep in mind this pertains to leases in Michigan.

  • Demand responsible oil production in currently leased land
    - If no production in five years, land goes back to state to be re-leased
    - Financial penalties for stockpiling land to profit from reserves without producing
    - No new leases unless current ones are used

  • Modernize lease system to make sure taxpayers and consumers benefit from production
    - Switch from the outdated 1/6 royalty system to a 50/50 "working interest" model – as the federal government and other countries are
    moving toward. Other states like Alaska, Colorado, Texas, Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Louisiana all make more compensation for their taxpayers from production
    - Create fund where additional revenue is used to transition to renewable energy projects and job creation

  • According to the AP, details on this plan are still being worked out. Right now, the royalties from state oil and gas development go to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, which buys land for public recreation, and that's part of the state constitution. So, they would have to work around that by creating this new fund. And - one more little problem that stands in the way, besides the oil companies that would drag their feet on actually spending any of their money - can you guess what it is?

    The Senate Republicans. Of course.

    Since this involves creating jobs and benefiting the Michigan consumer and taxpayer, chances are they won't have anything to do with it. They have a track record to think about, you know. Or, they will screw it up so badly with amendments and changes that in the end the legislation won't bring us any new jobs or royalties, but will somehow find a way to benefit the oil companies.

    Call it a hunch. I hate to be so pesimisstic, but I've been watching these guys...

    Good luck Senator Schauer. It sound like a sensible solution; maybe when prices start to shoot back up again, Republicans will be forced to act for a change, instead of the usual obstruction and whining about how they can't have their way.

    We can always hope.

    Thursday, August 07, 2008

    Cubs Win!

    DeRosa Grand Slam

    Mark DeRosa watches his grand slam home run in Wednesday's 11-4 Cubs victory.

    More pics from Wrigley later...

    Kilpatrick Breaks Bond, Ordered to Jail

    Interesting turn here, wouldn't you say?

    A Wayne County judge today ordered Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to jail for violating the terms of his bond by traveling to Canada on July 23.

    "If it was not Kwame Kilaptrick sitting in that seat, if it was John Six Pack sitting in the seat, what would I do?" said Robert Giles, judge of 36th District Court. "That answers something. I go back to my original keep it simple."

    He revoked his bond and ordered Kilpatrick to jail.

    More as this develops...

    (P.S. - Sorry me no blog - spent all day yesterday in Chicago, and have to leave soon today to go over to the east side of the state... will catch up when I get back!)

    Tuesday, August 05, 2008

    McCain in Michigan : A Sad Display (for Republicans)

    John McCain, appearing in Michigan today, didn't have to worry too much about being inundated with supporters. From the News-

    The McCain visit spurred protesters to outnumber supporters outside the Fermi II plant.

    There were 40 to 50 people ready to welcome McCain at the security gate of Fermi II at about 1:30 p.m. Protestors outnumbered McCain's supporters about 3-1, forming camps on separate sides of the entrance. While the small McCain contingent brought lawn chairs and signs saying "Drill Now" and "McCain for Clean Energy, Good Jobs," the protestors were far more flamboyant. They had a novelty check from "Exxon & Friends" giving $2 million to McCain saying "Thanks for staying in the tank for oil" in the memo. Other signs included "John McCain: 100% Recycled Bush" and "John McCain is Not For Monroe."

    And the Freep made it sound really pathetic. They came up with about the same numbers and described the McCain fan base in greater detail, which turned out to be a group of 12 older women who were snubbed by the candidate.

    Across the street, about a dozen pro-McCain women wearing pins and holding an American flag, held up signs of their own: "McCain for clean energy, good jobs," read one green sign.

    The women were hoping McCain, who didn't stop to say hello on his way into the plant, might stop on his way out.

    Joan Noel, 58, a nurse who lives in Arizona but grew up in Monroe, said, "I had to come out to see our next president."

    Noel said she likes McCain's pro-life stand. The group of women standing nearby applauded that.

    And what can the voters expect out of McCain? Is it a public rally? Maybe a speech explaining his policy? Shaking hands with potential voters? No, McCain's backers have learned to lower their expectations...

    Noel was hoping to take a photo of McCain zipping past in the motorcade to post on a wall at her workplace.

    Wow. That is just... so sad. Get that mental picture in your mind, and compare and contrast this scene with some photos...

    Line at Van Andel 2

    The line for Obama at VanAndel in Grand Rapids.

    Waiting in Troy

    The line for Obama at Troy High School.

    Line at the Joe

    The line for Obama at Joe Louis Arena.

    On all three ocassions, there was no way I could possibly catch the whole line unless I was on top of the buildings, and even then I wonder. Pictures at the LSJ indicate Lansing on Monday was the same as all of the above.

    You could argue that McCain's appearances weren't public appearances and therefore shouldn't count - but the fact that he doesn't even hold public rallies should tell you something as well, shouldn't it? Still, if people were enthused for McCain, they would show up anyway just to try to get a glimpse, public speech or not. And you know it.

    What I can't understand is how these two could possibly be close in the Michigan polls. My lying eyes must be deceiving me.

    Monday, August 04, 2008

    Obama TV Ad "Pocket": McCain = Big Oil

    Senator Obama is outlining his New Energy for America plan in Lansing today, and for good measure, the campaign has released this ad that points out some facts about McCain's love affair with Big Oil.

    John, you got some 'splainin to do...

    Here are some of the highlights of Obama's New Energy Plan for America:

  • Provide short-term relief to American families facing pain at the pump
  • Help create five million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future.
  • Within 10 years save more oil than we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela combined.
  • Put 1 million Plug-In Hybrid cars – cars that can get up to 150 miles per gallon – on the road by 2015, cars that we will work to make sure are built here in America.
  • Ensure 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025.
  • Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.

  • You can read the entire .pdf here - this will probably be the bulk of the speech today.

    Not really crazy about the "energy rebate" idea, but I'm not going to complain if I get a check in the mail, either. The rest of it sounds great - investment in green energy, green cars, green jobs, and of course, a national RPS and caps of greenhouse emissions. Sure beats drilling, doesn't it?

    You betcha.

    Kuipers Changes Rationale For Denying Promise Zones

    Yesterday, the Oakland Press made a plea to Senate Republicans to consider the Promise Zone legislation that the House passed last December, claiming that it would be just the thing to help beleaguered Pontiac. The current legislation is modeled after the Kalamazoo Promise, which gives students free college tuition, and has been such a hit that communities around the country are rushing to copy it. There are a few differences in the state plan, spelled out below-

    The Promise Zone plan contained in House Bill 5375 differs from the Kalamazoo Promise in that it would match private funds raised with public funds.

    It also is limited to areas where the youth poverty rate exceeds the state average of 12 percent. That is, the number of youth in families earning income below the federal poverty standard constitutes 12 percent of the state's population. Pontiac's number is much higher than 12 percent.

    HB 5375 would require eligible districts to raise an amount that would fund the first two years of the program. In Pontiac's case this would come to about $750,000 -- not an impossible task by any means.

    Citing the benefits of higher graduation rates, increased property values, and new jobs brought to Kalamazoo...

    Over the past 18 months, 400 families from 88 Michigan communities, 32 states and nine foreign countries have moved into the Kalamazoo school district, boosting school enrollment 12 percent to 11,530 this year from 10,337 in 2005, according to a report in last Monday's Wall Street Journal.

    Graduation rates have risen, too, increasing 21 percent to 567 students in 2007 from 467 students in 2005.

    In addition, The Journal states that the Kalamazoo Promise was instrumental in Kaiser Aluminum Corp.'s decision to build an $80 million office-and-research center that would employ 150 workers in the city.

    ... the editorial ended with a plea to contact Mike Bishop and tell him to "move the bill along" and give Pontiac a shot at this kind of revival.

    Um, good luck with that. Education Committee Chair Wayne Kuipers can't decide from day-to-day his reasons for denying disadvantaged students a chance at a college education, and denying job-starved communities the economic development that such an idea would bring.

    On June 12th of this year, Kuipers told the GR Press that those darn kids should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

    In addition, Sen. Wayne Kuipers , R-Holland, does not like the idea of free college.

    "It's not so bad for students to exert some of their own resources in funding higher education. My view is they appreciate it more if they have to work for it," said Kuipers , chairman of the Education Committee.

    Today, he's suddenly OK with giving kids the money, but he tells the Flint Journal that the problem is that the students can't use the money "as they see fit", and we need to base this on "market principles".

    The problem is funds don't go directly to students, but to the state higher education system.

    This limits students' opportunities to use funds as they see fit. The "Promise Zone" legislation also provides no incentive for students to stay in school beyond their freshmen year.

    Given the condition of Michigan's economy, we need a bold plan making higher education affordable and rewarding students who attain degrees.

    True, but his idea of a "bold plan" consists of clich├ęd statements such as the one above. In the next paragraph, he wants to give money to the students AND the universities...

    Funds should go directly to students. This lets them use our tax dollars to attend the university that best meets their needs. Each school would be compensated based on how many students it attracts and graduates. This puts the onus on universities to provide programs that help students find careers matching today's marketplace. Ultimately, schools meeting the needs of more students will get higher funding.

    And further down the column, he suddenly jumps to the idea of "loans" after graduation, which kind of defeats the "free college" idea that makes Promise Zones attractive in the first place.

    Under the proposed plan, students who work in Michigan after graduation could get low or interest-free loans to help with college costs. The plan's primary goal, obviously, is to encourage more Michigan students to go to college by making it more affordable.

    Kuipers is all over the board on this one. First, he doesn't like "free college", then the problem is the money goes to the college and not the kid, so he suggests giving money to the college and the kid, and somehow thinks that loans after the fact make things “more affordable”. I think we have traveled all the way from "free college" to "we will give you a loan later".

    I'm confused, but I guess that is what I get for not finishing college. Looks like I'm in good company though; a bunch of kids in Pontiac won't be going to college either.

    Sorry, Oakland County. Maybe next time you should consider electing Democrats.

    Nature Bats Last

    Nature Bats Last

    Yes, that is a telephone pole underneath all of that. Makes you realize what a post apocalyptic America would look like - plants grow up through the concrete and break it apart, they attach themselves to your house (I have groundcover ivy that has sunk roots into the wood shingles as it climbs up to my porch), they can bury something as high as a telephone pole. Given enough time, if left undisturbed they could probably swallow a major city, weather pulling the concrete and steel down as the ground rises up to meet and overgrow the rubble.

    Nature bats last.

    Sunday, August 03, 2008

    Yet Another Republican Confession of Obstructionism

    Just the other day, Peter Luke had an interesting observation about "the troubles" in Lansing. He was talking about the RMGN proposal, and, like many others in the biz, he points to term limits as being the main problem concerning lack of action in the Legislature. While there is truth to that theory, there still is the problematic tendency to overlook partisan obstruction for obstruction's sake as well. First off, here's Peter-

    Partisanship isn't what really ails the Legislature, nor is it divided government. The problem is that lawmakers are summarily jettisoned from office just as they're figuring out how to write complicated tax law, regulatory rules, education policy and budgets that reflect a true understanding of the functions they fund.

    Only thing is, Republicans keep admitting to partisanship being a problem - and anonymously, they will admit that their leadership has been the moving force behind it. Gongwer had a detailed piece on Friday about the upcoming change in House Republican leadership (everyone wave goodbye to Craig!), and the fierce campaigning going on behind the scenes as various R members try to line up support with current legislators and the potential incoming crop of newbies as well. No one can foresee what their numbers will be after the election, but current conventional wisdom holds that they will still be the minority party, and as such, they had better make adjustments to their style if they hope to accomplish any of their agenda. In other words, if they keep up with the same kind of crap they saw from DeRoche, they know they are in trouble.

    Members of both returning classes voiced a need to step away from the tit-for-tat politics, no matter which party controls the House.

    "We want someone who can walk the walk, who fully understands Republican values, and who has a maturity to them," one Republican said.

    Another put it this way, "We need to stop throwing political grenades for the sake of throwing political grenades. There are still going to be disagreements (between the two parties). (But) we have to work together."

    With that last quote, Republicans admit to being obstructionist just for the sake of partisan politics. Let's also return to Phil Power's "Tax Brinksmanship Hurts Business" column from May. When first printed in the Observer & Eccentric's site, it read like this-

    A few days ago, I received a lengthy e-mail from a lawmaker (who wishes to remain anonymous) but who offers some valuable insights. Bottom line: "The service tax was the direct result of the brinksmanship of the GOP leadership in negotiations and (the) lack of GOP members (in) responding to the requests of their traditional supporters in the business community."

    When the column was printed at Power's own Center for Michigan, watch for the extra word-

    A few days ago, I received a lengthy e-mail from a Republican lawmaker (who wishes to remain anonymous) but who offers some valuable insights. Bottom line: "The service tax was the direct result of the brinksmanship of the GOP leadership in negotiations and (the) lack of GOP members (in) responding to the requests of their traditional supporters in the business community."

    We have a confession from a Republican that their caucus is driven by partisanship, so much so they ignored their own base. Phil went on to say-

    But neither Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop nor House Minority Leader Craig DeRoche was willing to step forward. They urged their members to hold back and let the Democrats take the political hit for a vote for more taxes. At one point, it looked as though there were as many as 10 Republican representatives ready to vote for an adequate income tax hike, but DeRoche wouldn’t budge.

    As we've have pointed out before, Republicans are responsible for the whole MBT surcharge/service tax debacle, and they were doing it soley to make the Democrats "take the political hit" - it wasn't inexperience at tax law, as Luke would claim. And let's not forget Senator Schauer's press conference from a year ago, complete with graphs and charts and funny looking birds, that pointed to the sheer number of bills that were being ignored by the Republican Senate. It seems hard to believe that term limits or inexperience could be used as the only plausible excuses for their inaction. There was obviously more to it than that.

    Partisanship is not the thing that totally "ails the Legislature", but it shouldn't be overlooked as a strong motivating factor behind the current dysfunction. After all, Republicans are confessing that it is.

    Saturday, August 02, 2008

    Friday, August 01, 2008

    Alien 1670

    Alien 1670

    Never did learn my flowers. Not a clue as to what this is.

    Mulling over throwing $400 at a good "walk-around" lens. After reading gushing reviews of the Tamron 28-75 f2.8, and realizing the limits of the kit 18-55 I have now... well, I've got a big photo op coming up, and I would hate to lose "that picture" because of the limits of my equipment. Would be a shame.

    Decisions, decisions.