Bits of Tid: February 28, 2007

It's the end of February. I've found it odd that Black History Month happens to be the shortest month. But tomorrow commences both Women's History Month and (not quite as important) Spring Break.

See you next month! ;-)

You absolutely MUST see this video (Olbermann SLAMS Rice)


McCain challenges Romney for flip-flop supremacy

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney - son of former Michigan Governor George Romney and brother of MSU Trustee Scott Romney - is trying to brand himself as the right choice for conservative Republicans. Which is surprising, given his many flip-flops on issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and taxes.

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer slammed Romney in a press release as Romney prepared to declare his candidacy in Michigan:

"Today, the prodigal son returns. Throughout his entire career Mitt Romney has done nothing for Michigan, a state he abandoned decades ago. Romney is only announcing in Michigan because he is so unpopular in Massachusetts. Just like his flip-flops on abortion and gay rights, he is only coming back to Michigan because of a calculated political decision,” Brewer said. “Michigan’s voters are too smart for his cynical politics. They do not want a Bush clone on the escalation of Iraq. Michigan voters do not want a person who will support the same failed Bush policies of outsourcing and unfair trade that have severely hurt Michigan’s manufacturing jobs.”
Which isn't to say Romney isn't a genuine conservative; as Brewer said, he does support President Bush's plan to escalate the war by sending more troops to Iraq, as does John McCain.

McCain, however, appears to want to challenge Romney' flip-flop superiority:

McCain, until recently, was pushing for a reform law that would require conservative groups to reveal their financial donors. But, after fielding protests from evangelical Christians and antiabortion activists, McCain decided last month to strip out the provision.

McCain in 2000 assailed Bush's proposed tax cuts as a sop to the rich, and a year later, with Bush in office, he voted against those cuts, declaring that "the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle-class Americans." But a year ago, he switched sides and voted to extend tax cuts for the wealthy.

McCain in 1999 said that, "even in the long term," he would not support the repeal of Roe v. Wade because "thousands of young American women would be performing illegal and dangerous operations." But last November he said that he now favored repeal because "I don't believe the Supreme Court should be legislating in the way that they did on Roe v. Wade."


McCain in 2006 suggested that creationism was not a fit topic for the schoolroom: "I respect those who think the world was created in seven days. Should it be taught as a science class? Probably not." But he suggested the opposite in 2005 ("all points of view should be presented"), and next Friday he is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at a confab sponsored by the Discovery Institute, a prominent creationism advocacy group.
For all the GOP's talk in 2004 about the need for "unwavering leadership," Mitt Romney and John McCain sure like to waver.

US generals "will quit" if Bush orders Iran attack

From The Times in London:

SOME of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources.

Tension in the Gulf region has raised fears that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely before President George Bush leaves office. The Sunday Times has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack.

“There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” a source with close ties to British intelligence said. “There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible.”

A British defence source confirmed that there were deep misgivings inside the Pentagon about a military strike. “All the generals are perfectly clear that they don’t have the military capacity to take Iran on in any meaningful fashion. Nobody wants to do it and it would be a matter of conscience for them.


Bits of Tid: February 23, 2007

Third day of Lent. Hope to see some of you at the convention tomorrow.

  • Trailing three other Democrats in his home state, and lacking sufficient funds to continue his campaign, Tom Vilsack is out of the running. The first candidate to drop out of the 2004 Democratic competition, Bob Graham, didn't do so until that fall.
  • State Senate Democratic Leader Mark Schauer is wondering whiat I've been wondering: Where's the GOP plan for fixing the state's budget situation?
  • Dick Cheney says Nancy Pelosi wants to "validate" Al-Qaida's strategy. If you think Bush is bad, he's a saint compared to the man who's just one heartbeat away from the presidency (no pun intended). Oh well, only 697 days until Bush and Cheney are gone.
  • Again, so much for the GOP supporting our troops, past and present. Things are also bad at Walter Reed; more on that in a few days.
  • Former state Sen. Gary Peters (D) - who briefly ran for governor in 2001-02 before dropping out of that race to instead run for Attorney General (a race he lost to Mike Cox by oh, so few votes) - may run for Congress against Joe Knollenberg in Michigan's 9th District.
  • Not really a single-state recession, huh MIGOP?
  • Former US Reps. Arlen Erdahl (R-MN, 1979-83) and Michael Forbes (D-NY, 1995-2001) are coming to CMU on Monday.
  • CMU's student paper has the latest on a couple of recent fires in Wheeler Hall, the most populous residence hall on campus. I lived on the eighth floor of Wheeler last year.

Iraq and Iran - a few things you can do

If you're feeling helpless about the situation in Iraq and Iran, I have a few quick things you can do to voice your opinion.

  • Senator Barack Obama – who opposed going to war in Iraq back in 2002 (though he was only a state senator back then) – has introduced the Iraq War De-Escalation Act.
    The Iraq War De-Escalation Act makes U.S. policy crystal clear. It stops the escalation now and begins a redeployment to bring U.S. combat forces out of Iraq by March 31, 2008.
    You can become a 'citizen co-sponsor' by signing the petition here.

  • Wes Clark, meanwhile, has started a new website, StopIranWar.com.
    Cannot the world’s most powerful nation deign speak to the resentful and scheming regional power that is Iran? Can we not speak of the interests of others, work to establish a sustained dialogue, and seek to benefit the people of Iran and the region? Could not such a dialogue, properly conducted, begin a process that could, over time, help realign hardened attitudes and polarizing views within the region? And isn’t it easier to undertake such a dialogue now, before more die, and more martyrs are created to feed extremist passions?

    Please join the Iraq War veterans at VoteVets.org and me and sign the petition to President Bush today. Military force against Iran is not the solution now, and if we adopt the right strategy, perhaps it need never be. Urge him to work with our allies and use every diplomatic, political, and economic option at our disposal to deal with Iran. War is not the answer.

  • You can also sign a petition at John Edwards's site demanding that Congress not fund the escalation.
  • And be sure to check out Joe Biden's PlanForIraq.com and NoMoreTroops.com.
For the sake of our troops and our country, please take a few minutes to make your voice heard regarding the situation in the Middle East. America is depending on us.


My brother was hit by a car earlier today.

I don't know many of the details, except that he will be okay.

Mom got a call earlier today from a hospital in Oregon (where he lives), saying that Dereck was hit by a car. He was released a couple hours ago after they had performed some tests. He was slowly starting to walk again, but he's in immense pain.

Please keep Dereck in your thoughts and prayers.

Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day returns (albeit in New York)

Last fall the U-M College Republicans were chided for their "Fun with Guns" (where people can shoot cardboard cutouts of Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and the like) and "Catch an Illegal Immigrant" (where players try to find people throughout campus who are labeled 'illegal immigrants'). Well now it has arrived on the campus of New York University.

"They're making a mockery out of immigrants and immigration issues, when you've had thousands of people die at our borders," said protestor Chester Asher of Transform America. “To make a game out of that is sheer mockery.”

The Republican Club says they just want to spark debate amongst students about illegal immigration.

“Sometimes it feels that the only way you can get people out is to ruffle some feathers and give people something to shake their fists at,” said Laska. “Now this is not a politically correct event, but it is not racist. It is not that offensive.”
But what does Republican New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg think about it?

“I think we spend too much time worrying what college kids do, but this is distasteful and downright stupid. That's the nice way to put it,” said Bloomberg.


Wesley Clark is headed to CMU!

CMU scores big:

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark will be speaking on campus April 2.

The Speaker Series Committee had narrowed its selection to three candidates in
January, with Clark as its top choice.

"Gen. Clark has a very broad and impressive background," said Martha Logsdon, political science professor and Speaker Series committee chairwoman. "It seems to us so many people are interested in world affairs."

BTW: Don't forget to check out WesPAC.


ELECTION NOTICE: February 27 local elections

Some communities and school districts in Michigan will be holding elections next Tuesday, February 27. Click here to find out if you are in one of them. (For those of you in Kent County, this only applies to you if you live in the Wyoming School District.)

If you need an absentee ballot, be sure to apply for one ASAP!

You must have been registered to vote at your current address by January 29. If you are reading this, you probably voted in November, but if this is your first time voting, you must do one of the following in person: 1) Register to vote at the clerk's office; 2) Request an absentee ballot in person; or 3) Vote at your voting place on Election Day.

Every election is important. Every vote counts... and it counts even more when fewer people vote. So if you have an election where you live next week, take these next several days to find out what will be on your ballot, inform yourself on the issues, and of course, vote between 7AM and 8PM next Tuesday.

(Incidentally, my first vote was to renew a school district sinking fund, and that took place a year ago.)

Bits of Tid: February 18, 2007

I have an exam, a presentation, and a big paper due all this coming Wednesday. And I'm helping out with Ash Wednesday services at church. Wish me luck. In the meantime:

  • Eye on Ehlers is even more prominent now: It is now mentioned on the Stakeholder, the official blog of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
  • Something to look forward to: Sometime next week I'll post a couple items about a couple lesser-known reasons why the Democrats' victories last November are beneficial to us come 2008.
  • Now look who supports government waste.
  • And look who opposes war profiteering.
  • So much for the GOP supporting the troops.
  • Nirmal at Capital Viewpoint found an interesting piece about web tools for college students. I currently use Wikipedia and Google Docs, and will probably look into some others.
  • Got myself a Polaroid a500 digital camera. Maybe I'll post some pictures soon.
  • 6 days until the MDP Spring Convention
  • 11 days from Spring Break
  • 49 days from Easter (BTW: Lent is actually 46 days, not 40. The 40 days comes from teh fact that the Catholic Church doesn't count the six Sundays as part of Lent, even though it is during the Lenten season.)
  • 245 ays until I turn 20
  • 625 days until Election 2008
  • 702 days until the world is liberated from the Bush Administration.


Ehlers refuses to oppose Iraq escalation

Congressman Vern Ehlers was one of 182 members of Congress who voted to oppose standing up to President Bush's plan to escalate the war in Iraq. Congressman Fred Upton of St. Joseph was one of 17 Republicans to join almost every Democrat in supporting the non-binding resolution, but Ehlers just didn't have the gumption to say yes.

A full text of Ehlers's speech to the House can be found here.


Black History Month

We are halfway through Black History Month, and admittedly I haven’t been updating you on tributes to African-Americans as much as I should.

The Democratic National Committee has a section on its website dedicated to this month, featuring bios of prominent African-Americans, among other things.

The future of this country, like the inextricable threads of history, is linked to the condition of its entire people. As we commemorate and celebrate and look to the contributions of African-Americans, Democrats will continue to work to fulfill the unfinished promise and ensure that the rights and privileges and opportunities of our nation are accessible to all Americans. We honor the accomplishments of our great African-American innovators and challenge the world to remember, daily, that black history is American history.

Here's a blurb from Mark Brewer and the Michigan Democratic Party:

“It is vitally important to remember the struggles of the past to thrive in the future. While the United States has made great strides since Black History Month was first celebrated, we must not go backwards,” said MDP Chair Mark Brewer. “Unfortunately, Michigan took a step backwards last November by passing Proposal 2. This month is the perfect time to reflect on civil rights accomplishments and on a strategy to overcome Michigan’s current challenges.”

Michigan has had many civil rights pioneers and prominent African American leaders throughout its history. From civil rights icon Rosa Parks to the first African American in Michigan to hold statewide office, Secretary of State Richard Austin, to current leaders such as Congressman John Conyers, Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick, Congressional Black Caucus Chair, and Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

The importance of black history has been recognized annually since 1926 when "Negro History Week" was instituted. Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard scholar, is recognized as a primary reason “Negro History Week” came into existence. Woodson was a man who devoted his life to furthering the knowledge of Black people as a participant in history as opposed “to a lay figure.” He chose the month of February because it contained the birthdays of Fredrick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. “Negro History Week” later evolved into “Black History Month.”


Ben & Jerry's names new ice cream "Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream"


Stephen Colbert may have no taste for the truth, but he does have a sweet tooth. Ben & Jerry's has named a new ice cream in honor of the comedian: "Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream."

It's vanilla ice cream with fudge-covered waffle cone pieces and caramel.

Announcing the new flavor Wednesday, Ben & Jerry's called it: "The sweet taste of liberty in your mouth."


"I'm not afraid to say it. Dessert has a well-known liberal agenda," Colbert said in a statement. "What I hope to do with this ice cream is bring some balance back to the freezer case."

From Senator Chris Dodd: Restore Habeas Corpus!

Democatic Presidential Candidate and Lover of the Constitution Chris Dodd has launched a new website, Restore-Habeas.org. There you can become a 'citizen co-sponsor' of the Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007.

Today, I plan on re-introducing the Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007. The bill will restore Habeas Corpus protections to detainees, bar information acquired through torture from being introduced as evidence in trials, and limit presidential authority to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions.

Become A Citizen Co-Sponsor:

Please take a moment to watch the video and read the text of the Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007, sign on as a citizen co-sponsor, and forward the bill to your personal networks. While you and I are acutely aware of the damage President Bush has done to our country's national reputation, too many of our family, friends and neighbors have no idea how far this Administration has gone.


On my grandmothers

Today is the sixth anniversary of the death of my maternal grandmother. She would have turned 90 last spring. Sunday the 11th would have been her wedding anniversary. What's more, her mother (my great-grandma) died on Valentine's Day one year, and less than a year later my great-grandfather died the following February 12th. So this is a tough week for my mom.

As the pain of her death has passed, I fear it may not be long before my paternal grandmother leaves us too.

On a Thursday night a couple weeks ago (I don't have classes on Friday) I went home to Kentwood for a three-day weekend. That Friday afternoon I went to my grandmother's condo because she had fallen and needed someone to help her up. (She has one of those CareLink buttons that someone can push for help when they fall. CareLink called my Dad, but he was the only person at his place, so he couldn't go; instead he called me.)

While I was at Grandma's, a sad truth dawned on me: She can't be with us forever. At some point, my grandmother whom I love so much will pass from this earth - as have my other three grandparents, and as we all will.

This past weekend I went home again. On Sunday, Dad and I decided to stop by grandma's to say goodbye and to tell her that I'd be home in three weeks. Lying in her bed, she took my hand and, in a frail tone, said "I love you." I responded, "I love you too." I recalled my mother telling me those were the words she used to finish what turned out to be her last conversation with her 'Daddy' nore than two decades ago.

On our way back to Mount Pleasant, Dad told me that it will be more of a blessing for her as well as for us when Grandma goes. For her, she will be happy in Heaven, free from worldly pain and suffering. For us, a burden will be lifted from our shoulders - especially my dad's - for we will no longer have to care for her; God will care for her as only He can.

This is quite hard for me. As I said before, Grandma is my last surviving grandparent. My maternal grandfather died two years before I was born, not even seventy years old. The death of his widow six years ago at age 84 was my first experience with the loss of a family member (other than pets). Then my paternal grandfather unexpectedly left us in April 2004 a few weeks after his 81st birthday.

Soon after 'Poppa' died, Grandma's health began to deteriorate (likely due to the emotion of losing a husband of 58 years). She needed help, and the man who helped her so much for so many years was suddenly gone. So my dad has had to fill in the past three years to help her. We had basically no choice but to take her to a nursing home, where she stayed for eight months.

Last week Grandma turned 83, having been nursing-home-free for two years. Incidentally, she was born on Ronald Reagan's 13th birthday, and Congressman Vern Ehlers was born on her tenth birthday.

For all I know, Grandma could be like Pope John Paul II: Just when people thought Pope John Paul was about to pass away, he stuck around for a couple more years. Something similar happened with columnist Art Buchwald, who was 'supposed' to have died last year but held on until last month. Or maybe Grandma's time is imminent. As far as I know, hospice care hasn't entered the picture yet.

When the time comes... whenever that is... I will surely let you know. Grandma has told me not to feel sad when she goes, because she will be back with Poppa in Heaven. My family and I will still need your thoughts and prayers, of course. In the meantime, my thoughts and prayers go out to all of you who have dealt with loss recently.


GOP Congressman chooses golf over doing his job

Just in case you ever had doubts as to which party is more committed to working to solve America's problems, along comes word from Indianapolis that one Republican congressman isn't exactly earning the $165,200 per year salary:

U.S. Rep. Dan Burton this morning apologized for missing 19 votes to play in a golf tournament in January.


Burton missed votes to reduce college costs and cut oil industry tax breaks so he could play in the Palm Springs, Calif. golf tournament in January.

Burton also missed hearings on Iraq and North Korea to play in the event, which pairs top golfers with politicians and celebrities such as actor and director Clint Eastwood.

A review of House votes for the past decade shows the Indianapolis Republican has been absent every year votes coincided with the tournament: 2007, 2005, 2004, 2003 and 2001. This year in January, he missed a total of 20 out of 73 votes.

Funny how Republicans complain about waste in government. Do you think the people of Burton's district feel the $165,200 Burton gets per year is money well spent?


Anuzis Wins!

Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to announce that...


But state GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis tried to dampen the competition between the candidates' supporters after he was re-elected to a second two-year term.(emphasis added)

Anuzis was endorsed by Michigan Liberal in a landslide.

Saul got a lot done in his first term:

- Unable to defeat a single Democratic incumbent in a state or federal election in 2006.

- Worst performance by a Republican candidate for Governor in 20 years, despite unlimited resources.

- Lost 6 seats in the Michigan House of Representatives to the Democrats, despite a Republican gerrymandered map.

- Lost 1 seat in the Michigan Senate to the Democrats despite a Republican gerrymandered map.

- Fewest Republicans and most Democrats in the Michigan Senate in 15 years.

- Lost control of Michigan House of Representatives to the Democrats, producing a Democratic Speaker for the first time in 12 years.

- Mailings to voters in Kent County helped Michigan Democrats send a second state representative to Lansing from Grand Rapids. Apparently Saul is even more effective at turning around Grand Rapids than Dick DeVos!

- Total Democratic sweep of all elected educational board seats for the first time in 20 years.

- Lost control of numerous county boards to Democrats.

- Endorsed Republican incumbent in 7th Congressional District defeated in primary.

- Urged the Republican National Committee to spend $1 million late on failed Senate campaign of Mike Bouchard rather than devote precious resources to defending Republican incumbents in Montana and Virgina, who in turn lost close races and swung control of the United States Senate to the Democrats!


Bits of Tid: February 10, 2007

633 days from the 2008 election! (BTW: I haven't received a reply to any of my posts in several weeks!! I feel lonely when no one replies!)

  • I went to the Kent County Spring Democratic Convention today. Kinda light turnout; only 60- or so people, compared to the 200 or so people at the one in August (granted, that was just before the last election). The high point was getting a warm reception after discussing Eye On Ehlers. I posted a blurb about that on Daily Kos.

  • The 2006 State of the State was Tuesday. As usual, another great speech by our Governor, as she did her best to outline the crisis Michigan faces, and how we can get out of it. I'm especially glad she discussed the importance of taxes, and how cutting them doesn't help the economy as much as some would have you think. If you didn't get a chance to see the address, read the transcript or watch the video.

  • The Guv has proposed a 2% tax on services (excluding healthcare and education-related services). Look for my thoughts on that later.

  • Barack Obama has officially joined the race. I like him. More thoughts on that later. Also, Mitt Romney came to town for the state GOP Convention. More on Mitt's flip-flops later.

  • Congressman John Murtha (D-PA) - known for his strong opposition to the Iraq War - wants the Guantanamo prison closed.

  • The head of the Michigan Young Republicans has been charged with rape. I donb't care who you are or which party you support... rape is absolutely inexcusable. Then again, he is innocent until proven guilty.


From the Governors Office: State Board and Commission Vacancies

I got this in an email from the Kent County Democratic Party. Perhaps you may be interested.

The Governor's office is looking for general public members to fill spots on thefollowing boards.

If you would like to play a role in the Governor’s administration, please submit your name to Joan Bowman at bowmanj@michigan.gov or call 517-881-2170.

In general public spots, the applicants should not have any professional affiliation with the industry they would be regulating as a member of the board.

  • Elevator Safety – usually general public spot is held by a person who uses a wheelchair or other individual with a disability(note the use of “person first” language)
  • Landscape Architects – 3 positions
  • Barber Examiners – 3 positions
  • State Carnival Amusement Safety Board – 1 position
  • Board of Cosmetology – 2 positions
  • Board of Plumbing – 1 position
  • Interviews are being held this week for the new Athletic Trainer Board
Meanwhile, I'm still waiting to hear whom the Governor plans to appoint to the CMU Board of Trustees.


'Early Spring' my @$$, Punxsutawney Phil

Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow yesterday:

A new pair of hands pulled Punxsutawney Phil from his stump this year, so it was only fitting that the groundhog offered a new prediction.

Phil did not see his shadow on Friday, which, according to German folklore, means folks can expect an early spring instead of six more weeks of winter.

Since 1886, Phil has seen his shadow 96 times, hasn't seen it 15 times and there are no records for nine years, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. The last time Phil failed to see his shadow was in 1999.
Early spring? Funny. Because that's not what the forecast says:

West Michigan is under a blizzard warning, Parts of US 131 are shut down, the roads in Allegan County are a mess, malls are closed, flights are being delayed or cancelled, and Central Montcalm Public Schools' Snowball Dance has been postponed. (Not that I care about CMPS, I just found it ironic that the Snowball Dance is off due to snow.


Bits of Tid: February 2, 2007

Happy February!

  • The US Senate has passed a minimum wage increase!
  • The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has launched an online series on Black History Month. Maya Angelou is the first to be profiled.
  • Senator Carl Levin is featured on the website of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
  • The DSCC's House counterpart, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, will likely invest money toward beating Reps. Tim Walberg of southern Michigan and Joe Knollenberg of Oakland County.
  • Al Gore, Nobel Laureate? He's been nominated. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised to see Bill Clinton get it (possibly jointly with George H.W. Bush), but if that ever happens, it likely won't be until Hillary's career is over.
  • Al Franken is running for US Senate in 2008.
  • The watchdog blog Eye on Ehlers - which I founded just before the New Year - has earned a mention in a page dedicated to Congressman Ehlers in the newly expanded GOP Watch section of the Michigan Democratic Party's website. I feel special.