5/29/2007

Presidential Bits of Tid: May 29, 2007


75 weeks from now, America will elect its 44th President and its 47th Vice President. But before we get to that, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention an important birthday.

That handsome young man in the photo was born ninety years ago today, May 29, 1917.

You may know that at 43, Ted Kennedy's brother was the youngest person ever elected President (Teddy Roosevelt became President at age 42 after William McKinley was assassinated). You may noty know that Bill Clinton was just 46 when he was elected in 1992. Barack Obama will turn 47 in August 2008, at which time John Edwards will be 55. Now who's the youngster? ;-)

Turning our attention back to those who wish to count themselves among JFK's successors:

  • Many of Obama's supporters say that, like JFK, he symbolizes hope - hope that a black person can become President, hope for an end to the era of bitter partisanship, hope for, well, better days and years ahead. Critics say he's all style and no substance. While certainly no one can doubt that he has inspired a great many people, I must say his issues page is the most comprehensive of any of the candidates' issues pages.

  • Look what John Edwards wants to do for our servicemen and women. The entire plan is great, but I especially like his "Plan for Coming Home" and Military Families Advisory Board ideas.

  • Bill Richardson is known among the 2008 hopefuls for being probably the most experienced of the 2008 hopefuls But he also has a lighter side:

    "My favorite team has always been the Red Sox. I'm also a Yankees fan... This is the thing about me. I can bring people together."
  • Does Hillary have a front-runner for VP?

    Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack "has assumed a role in Sen. Hillary Clinton's Presidential campaign unlike any of the New York Democrat's other national advisers. He campaigns for her in Iowa and other key states, spends hours each week on the phone with donors and elected officials and has helped forge policy ideas Clinton presents on the campaign trail," the Des Moines Register reports.

    "In this way, Vilsack has made the quick and seemingly effortless transition from a one-time Clinton rival for the 2008 nomination to a go-to player in her campaign. Aides acknowledge privately that Vilsack's work for the campaign has the look of a rehearsal for the role of running mate, should Clinton win the nomination."

    I'll be honest: A Hillary/Vilsack ticket doesn't appeal to me very much.

  • On the other side of the aisle, Sam Brownback is having trouble in his home state, taking just 18% in solidly red Kansas.

5/28/2007

R.I.P.



Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar drawing nigh,
Falls the night.

Day is done, gone the sun
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest;
God is nigh.

Then goodnight, peaceful night;
Till the light of the dawn shineth bright.
God is near, do not fear,
Friend, goodnight.


This is for all who have died in the line of duty, as well as for all veterans who have left us, including:

Grandpa Julius J. Young: January 9, 1919 - September 27, 1985
Grandpa Edward C. Urbanowski: March 10, 1923 - April 29, 2004

5/27/2007

Carpe Diem

"I'd like to thank Emma Simson, past SGA president, Andrew Friedson, incoming SGA president. You might ask why I thank these people. I just want to show that I respect Presidents." House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), at the commencement for the University of Maryland-College Park

------------

As I reflect on Dr. Leiker’s retirement, I also reflect on my graduation from East Kentwood High School two years ago today: lining up inside the school (494 graduates made that line quite long and winding!), the Sun setting behind the bleachers, Mr. Beel reading his top-ten list of pieces of advice, the choir and band (the latter of which I was a part) performing, walking across the ‘stage,’ the all-night party, and then coming home to see Swifty lying on the bed waiting to greet me.

High school wasn’t a particularly remarkable time for me. Sure, EK is a Blue Ribbon School, and sure, I did get involved in a few extracurriculars - Band, Quiz Bowl, and American Political Thought. Yes, our bands are pretty good - amazing, I’d say - and Quiz Bowl did go to the state tournament during my junior year. And the American Political Thought team finished third in the state.

Still, one critical element was missing from my life: A strong network of friends.

As I mark two years as an alumnus of East Kentwood, I recall an essay I wrote for my Freshman Composition class at CMU in December of 2005 - my last of the class - noting the changes I had undergone since graduating from EK six months earlier. These changes include schedule changes (i.e. getting up at 10:30 instead of 6:30!), the fact that I don’t have parents there to watch me (and how that can be a double-edged sword), and the many new friends I have made since coming to college.

Since writing and turning in that essay, I have noticed something else that’s much different: I am much more extroverted now than I was in high school, and I have many more friends now than I dreamed I would You see, I came to CMU as just another person, not intent on much more than getting a degree in political science and accounting, then graduating and entering the world of work as ready as one can be.

Yet from the time I entered Leadership Safari, a five-day program for entering freshmen at CMU, I came out of my shell. Gone was the old Scott Urbanowski, introverted and in many ways self-centered; in was the new Scott Urbanowski, maybe not quite ready to take on the world, but sure as heck ready to make this world a better place.

Less than a month after Safari ended, I found myself sitting in Dow Science Complex, representing the biggest residence hall on campus in the Student Government Association. All the while I was beginning my involvement with the College Democrats at CMU, of which I would later become Communications Director and now Blogmaster.

As I look back at the last two years, I reflect on some of the many people I have met at CMU: ICDP leaders; Mark Brewer; numerous political candidates; Bishop Carlson; Dick Enberg (Class of 1957); David McCullough; and Cedar and Kyle, twins who lived down the hall from me in my freshman year. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Not bad for a kid who, just two years ago, seemed intent on just going to college for four years, getting a degree, and moving on into the ‘real world.’

So as I consider the many changes during my life over the last 730 days, I would like to thank those of you who have entered my life - both offline and online. My life is much richer for knowing you. I especially want to congratulate Emily, Coree, Rob, and everyone else I’ve known from CMU who graduated earlier this month.

And to everyone who reads this, I encourage you to take the opportunity every so often to appreciate what you have in life: Friends, family, a blogosphere ;-) . And as any commencement speaker would tell you, seize the day! "Carpe Diem!" Whether through politics or community involvement or business, each of us has a chance to make this world a better place. I hope and pray for the courage to dedicate my life to doing so. Won't you?

5/26/2007

Have you contacted your elected officials lately?

Oftentimes it can seem as though our elected officials ignore our opinions and treat us as meaningless and indifferent - like we don't matter to them, because we don't care.

But the fact remains, as it has for more than two centuries, that this is our government. Elected officials must answer to us. Many of them understand that if they ignore the wishes of We the People, they do so at their own peril.

Likewise, we citizens have a responsibility to let our members of Congress know where we stand on issues we feel important. I think one of the many reasons members of Congress and others in government often ignore our wishes is because we don't let them know what's on our minds. If elected officials don't hear from us, how will they know whether they're voting with the wishes of their constituents?

In that spirit, earlier this week (before the Capitulation) I took the opportunity to contact the office of Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, to discuss some of the goings-on in Washington. Below lies a very rough transcript of what I, Scott (S), discussed with the Senator's aide (A).

A: Senator Carl Levin’s office.
S: Hi, my name is Scott Urbanowski, and I'm calling because I wanted to share a few of my thoughts and ask a couple of questions regarding some of the goings-on in Washington.
A: Okay.
S: First of all, could you please send my kind regards to the Senator for his efforts to end credit card abuse, and also for the American Manufacturing Initiative.
A: Sure will.
S: Now, I understand the Senator voted against Feingold-Reid, and wanted to know why.
A: Feingold-Reid was actually an amendment to a water resources bill. Had it passed, President Bush would have vetoed the entire water resources bill, and Levin didn’t want the entire bill vetoed just because of that. The Senator does remain committed to ending the war
S: Also, what is the status of the 100 Hour Plan bills passed by the House in January? Have any of them passed the Senate?
A: Do you have a specific one in mind?
S: Yes, I was wondering about the status of the bill that would reduce student loan interest rates.
A: Let me look that up.
(a moment later)
A: My computer is running a little slow. I'll give you a website where you can check the status of any piece of legislation: It's at Congress.gov.
S: Okay, I'll check it out. Thank you very much.
A: You're welcome.
Silence is assumed to equal assent. Don't be silent. Our elected officials need to hear from us. Pick up the phone, write a letter... just do something to let your members of Congress how you feel. Start by visiting Senate.gov and House.gov Otherwise, you're just giving them an excuse to neglect you.

Farewell to a Leader

I will love you more than me
And more than yesterday
If you can but prove to me
You are the new day
Send the sun in time for dawn
Let the birds all hail the morning
Love of life will urge me say
You are the new day


That song was sung at my graduation from East Kentwood High School on May 27, 2005.

I sometimes forget, if only for a little while, that I am a student at Central Michigan University, that I served three semesters in SGA, that I am active with St. Mary’s and the College Dems, and reminisce to a time before I heard of Fancher Street, Bill Caul, Anspach Hall, the RFoC, the UC, the ICDP, and the idea that Cedar could be a first name... back to my days as a K-12 student in Kentwood Public Schools.

I recently attended a farewell reception for Kentwood Superintendent Dr. Mary Leiker, who is retiring after 16 years. She took the reins of KPS the year before I entered kindergarten. Here’s an idea of how long she’s been here: When she came to Kentwood, Bush was President, the Democrats controlled Congress, the economy was in the tank, and Iraq was the big story in the news!

Anyway, other than refusing to call many snow days ;-) , Dr. Leiker did a tremendous job with the district. She was a visionary, understanding how our changing world demands adaptation from our schools. I liken her to FDR, Bill Milliken, or Pope John Paul II: Each spent many years in a leadership role and used those years to the fullest, becoming great leaders whose memory will carry on long after their time in leadership has ended.

Under Leiker’s leadership, five of the district’s 16 schools have won prestigious Blue Ribbon Awards. In elementary schools, Spanish is now as common a subject as PE or art were when I was in elementary school! Thanks to a 2003 millage, many schools have seen extensive renovations, the high school has a new football stadium, and the district has new buses. And that’s just for starters.

What’s more, Dr. Leiker and my mom have been close friends for a number of years. Leiker would help out with the Knights of Columbus ‘Tootsie Roll Drive’ to benefit special education, while Mom helped with the nearly year-long preps for KPS’s Celebration of Freedom Week, which was held in March 2003 and culminated in a ceremony that included a speech from Debbie Stabenow. (Ironically, that was the week Bush invaded Iraq.)

At the end of the reception - which, like my commencement, included the above song - I gave Dr. Leiker a hug on behalf of myself and our entire family. I told her that Mom likes to visit her sister in Littleton, Colorado, so they might meet up again out there. Her son, meanwhile - a rabid Democrat - told me to email him if I ever come to the Colorado area (which I just might next year; more on that soon... :-) )

So as Dr. Leiker prepares ready to close out her career, I can't help but to wonder how she, her family, and KPS will adjust to the fact that she will no longer lead the 9,000+ student school system. Her successor (who actually hails from within the district) was named several months ago; she just attended her final commencement as superintendent; her final School Board meeting will be coming up soon; and she will officially step down in five weeks. Nor do I know for sure if I will be able to go out to Colorado and see their family.

I do know, however, that my family and I will miss her, but that her influence with KPS will be felt for many years. I wish Dr. Leiker and her family an enjoyable retirement in Colorado. What's more, I wish that everyone who reads this blog will come to know of leaders who, like Dr. Leiker, go above and beyond, who, whether their leadership lasts for 16 years or 16 weeks, strive for excellence in themselves and in others.

Better yet, may you become such a leader yourself.

5/24/2007

House passes bill outlawing gas price gouging

Unless you've been sleeping under a rock, you know that the price of gas has passed $3 per gallon. Some worry it will eclipse $4 per gallon.

In response, US Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) introduced HR 1252, the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act. This bill would provide penalties for those who take unfair advantage of consumers at the pump. (Read more here.)

The bill passed 284-141 - a veto-proof majority - with 56 Republicans joining all but one Democrat in supporting the bill.

How did Michigan's members of Congress vote?

YES:
Bart Stupak (D)
Dale Kildee (D)
Candice Miller (R)
Thaddeus McCotter (R)
Sander Levin (D)
John Conyers (D)
Carolyn Kilpatrick (D)
John Dingell (D)

NO:
Pete Hoekstra (R)
Vern Ehlers (R)
Dave Camp (R)
Fred Upton (R)
Tim Walberg (R)
Mike Rogers (R)
Joe Knollenberg (R)

Two Michigan Republicans joined all six Michigan Democrats in supporting the bill. The other seven - including Vern Ehlers - don't seem to care about the pain being inflicted on American drivers. Yet Republicans in the State Legislature oppose the idea of raising taxes to fix the state's budget crisis. (While painful, a tax increase would go a long way in avoiding the alternative: cuts to education and higher tuition. More on that later.)

I don't know about you, but I'd rather see my money go to help our schools than help oil industry executives who don't need it.

Oh, and so much for Ehlers being a moderate.

5/22/2007

URGENT - Tell Carl & Debbie to Save Our Troops ASAP

Our troops desperately need us.

If you go to Daily Kos or Democratic Underground, the big story on both of those websites is ‘the deal’ in which certain Democratic leaders abandoned their party, the troops, and our country by backing down on benchmarks for bringing our troops home to safety.

Some would have us give up and concede that this bill will be passed without a fight.

The fact is, the battle is not over yet. The spending bill has not yet been passed. We cannot be like those aforementioned leaders and cower. Our troops need us.

We must make one last-ditch effort to support our troops. While our brave men and women fight over there in a war that was not of their choosing, we must fight for them back here.

Call Carl’s Washington office at (202) 224-6221.
Call Debbie’s Washington office at (202) 224-4822.
And don’t forget your Representative.


Carl and Debbie supported our troops at the beginning, opposing this war when it wasn’t popular to. Now the American people want our troops home; indeed our country needs them home.

So Please, folks, I implore you: For the sake of our brave men and women overseas, urge Carl and Debbie to oppose this ill-conceived spending bill.

5/18/2007

Actual bloopers from patients' hospital charts

Got this in an email. :-)

  1. She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.
  2. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.
  3. On the second day the knee was better, and on the third day it disappeared.
  4. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.
  5. The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.
  6. Discharge status: Alive but without my permission.
  7. Healthy appearing decrepit 69-year-old male, mentally alert but forgetful.
  8. The patient refused autopsy.
  9. The patient has no previous history of suicides.
  10. Patient has left white blood cells at another hospital.
  11. Patient's medical history has been remarkably with only a 40-pound weight gain in the past three days.
  12. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.
  13. Between you and me, we ought to be able to get this lady pregnant.
  14. Since she can't get pregnant with her husband, I thought you might like to work her up.
  15. She is numb from her toes down.
  16. While in ER, she was examined, X-rated, and sent home.
  17. The skin was moist and dry.
  18. Occasional, constant infrequent headaches.
  19. Patient was alert and unresponsive.
  20. Rectal examination revealed a normal size thyroid.
  21. She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life, until she got a divorce.
  22. I saw your patient today, who is still under our car for physical therapy.
  23. Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.
  24. Examination of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.
  25. The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.
  26. The patient was to have a bowel resection. However, he took a job as a stockbroker instead.
  27. Skin: somewhat pale but present.
  28. The pelvic exam will be done later on the floor.
  29. Patient was seen in consultation by Dr. Blank, who felt we should sit on the abdomen and I agree.
  30. Large brown stool ambulating in the hall.
  31. Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.

5/16/2007

White House opposes pay hike for troops - so much for 'supporting' them

One has to wonder how some people like to proclaim their ‘support’ for the troops when in reality, current Administration policy reeks of being anti-troop.

First there was the idea to go to war in Iraq in the first place - a decision which has cost nearly 3,400 American lives and God knows how many Iraqi civilians’ lives, not to mention our standing in the world and several-hundred-billion-dollar jump in the national debt.

Then came the Abu Ghraib scandal. Then Walter Reed. Then Bush’s recent veto of a bill that would have brought our troops home to safety.

And now comes this:

Troops don’t need bigger pay raises, White House budget officials said Wednesday in a statement of administration policy laying out objections to the House version of the 2008 defense authorization bill.

The Bush administration had asked for a 3 percent military raise for Jan. 1, 2008, enough to match last year’s average pay increase in the private sector. The House Armed Services Committee recommends a 3.5 percent pay increase for 2008, and increases in 2009 through 2012 that also are 0.5 percentage point greater than private-sector pay raises. (emphasis added)

The slightly bigger military raises are intended to reduce the gap between military and civilian pay that stands at about 3.9 percent today. Under the bill, HR 1585, the pay gap would be reduced to 1.4 percent after the Jan. 1, 2012, pay increase.

Bush budget officials said the administration “strongly opposes” both the 3.5 percent raise for 2008 and the follow-on increases, calling extra pay increases “unnecessary.”


I added some bold to show yet another difference between Republicans and Democrats - the Democratic-controlled Armed Services Committee voted to pass a pay hike, while the Administration opposes it. Actually, truly supporting the troops would involve bringing them home, but since such efforts haven't worked yet, this will have to suffice for now. Anyway, back to my rant.

Mr. President, do you really believe it unnecessary to treat our men and women in uniform to a fair wage? These people are putting their lives on the line in a war that you started, and your idea of 'supporting' them is to oppose giving them just a 3.5% pay hike?

What exactly is your idea of 'suporting the troops,' Mr. President? Because evidently it's not the same as mine.

Richard Bernstein for Attorney General in 2010?

I know we still have more than three years until we have nominating conventions for Secretary of State and Attorney General. That said, I would like to toss out the name of someone whom I think would make an excellent AG: Richard Bernstein, member of the Wayne State University Board of Governors.

From his biography on WSU's website:


Governor Richard Bernstein works as a trial attorney, who represents victims of personal injury or disability discrimination. He also is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Governor Bernstein graduated summa cum laude from the University of Michigan, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He went on to earn a Juris Doctor degree from the Northwestern University School of Law.

He now practices law in Michigan State and Federal courts, and is a member of the Michigan Trial Lawyers Association, American Trial Lawyers Association, and American Bar Association.

Public service is an important part of Governor Bernstein's life. He created and hosts the CBS-Detroit television segment called Making a Difference, which highlights exemplary community service programs. In addition, he is a contributing editorial columnist to the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press.


So here is someone who has some name recognition, having been elected to a statewide office in 2002 (though most have likely forgotten his name in the 4 ½ years since), and being the son of Sam Bernstein of 1-800-CALL-SAM fame. So he has some name ID, though not much; then again, since when does a non-incumbent AG candidate have much name recognition?

Oh, and one more thing:



























He's attractive.

5/15/2007

Bits of Tid from My Life: May 15, 2007

  • My brother returned to work full-time today!
  • We went to see my paternal grandmother for Mother’s Day. Unfortunately, she isn’t doing all that great. My dad has had to spend each night with her for the past couple weeks. I haven’t seen much of him lately.
  • Yesterday (May 14) also would have been my maternal grandmother’s 91st birthday. She died in 2001 at 84.
  • My Mother’s day card for my mom:
    -Front: "I know I wasn’t an easy child to live with." (Picture of a baby in a high chair with a cigar in his mouth and a glass of beer on the table!)
    -Inside: "The great ones never are."
  • My bit on Kassel got a mention on MichLib!
  • From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department: The Nancy Grace show on CNN Headline News showed a clock that indicated how long - to the second - until Paris Hilton goes to jail.
  • I submitted a nomination to Lake Superior State University's Banished Word List (and you can too). I will submit a few more between now and the end of the year, but for now, here's my first nomination for the 2008 list:
    GINORMOUS - "One of the most pathetic compound words to pollute the English language. Why can't you just say 'enormous' or 'gigantic?' "

5/12/2007

Bits of Tid: May 12, 2007

In 13,000 hours we should have a president-elect.

  • It's time to de-authorize the war, say Biden, Richardson, and Clinton.
  • Some big names are backing Chris Dodd's energy plan.
  • The governors of Maryland and New Jersey are endorsing Hillary.
  • Edwards is proposing an $8 billion program to make college more affordable. A drop in the bucket compared to the $425.1 billion price tag for the war.
  • On the other side, Rudy Giuliani and Ann Romney (Mitt's wife) have both donated to Planned Parenthood. And you thought Rudy was the only pro-choice Republican out there?
  • State Senators Alan Cropsey (who 'represents' Mount Pleasant) and Bill Hardiman (ex-mayor of my hometown of Kentwood) have each been featured recently in Michigan Liberal's Better Know an Obstriutionist series. (Don't forget to let your state legislators know your thoughts onm the state budget!)
  • I don't care about the whole Paris Hilton thing, so shut up, media.

Hello Kassel, Germany!

Thanks to Google Analytics, I can tell not only how many people are visiting this blog and Eye on Ehlers, but where they are viewing these sites, how they got to the site (i.e. by clicking the link on MichLib, using Google, etc.)

People have visited my blog from such places as Mount Pleasant, Bay City, Tallahassee... and Beijing, Tokyo, and Prague.

Some have even visited this wonderful blog from unheard-of places in different countries. So I thought I'd pay homage to those obscure towns and cities in the far reaches of the globe by featuring them on this blog. Perhaps, in so doing, I might even help fill the void that GW has left in America's foreign relations. (Okay, maybe not, but still.)

So let's start with Kassel, Germany, a city of roughly 194,176 people (roughly the size of Grand Rapids).

Wikipedia notes that Kassel has quite a long history:



The city's name is derived from the ancient Castellum Cattorum, a castle of the Chatti, a German tribe that has lived in the area since Roman times.


Kassel as such is first mentioned in 913 as the place where two deeds were signed by king Conrad I. The place was called Cqasella and was a fortification at a bridge crossing the Fulda river. A deed from 1189 certifies that Kassel had city rights, but the date of their conveyance is not known.

Still not intrigued? Germany's first public museum, theater, and observatory were all built in Kassel. The Brothers Grimm, Napoleon's brother, and the founder of Reuters all hailed from Kassell.

So here's a shout out to you, Kassel! Tell Mayor Bertram Hilgen that the people of the USA say "Guten Tag!"

5/08/2007

School Election Day!

Ah, the joy of democracy.

A little earlier today (at 3:40 PM) I voted for the fourth time in my life (having voted for a sinking fund renewal in February 2006; last August's primary; and of course the general election six months ago). This was my second time voting in person nat a voting location.

Four items appeared on my ballot. I voted for two of the three candidates for Kentwood School Baord; two of the four candidates for Grand Rapids Community College Trustee; and Yes on a GRCC millage increase as well as an Interurban Transit Partnership millage.

Voter turnout is expected to be light today, as it usually is in this type of an election. But here's the shocker: I was the 352nd person to vote at my voting place. 352! Granted, two voting precincts vote at Glenwood (at least that's how it usually works; perhaps it's different in a school election), and both appearedto have voted in the same place this time (as opposed to when they voted in different parts of the gym in August. But I was #120 in my precinct in the primary, and we ended up with 20% turnout in our precinct.

Predictions
Based on the level of campaigning I have seen, I predict that Bill Joseph and Mimi Madden will win re-election to the Kentwood School Board, as will GRCC Trustee Margo Anderson. As my upset pick, Fran Pepper will oust Terri Handlin from the GRCC Board. The GRCC and ITP millages will pass with 64% and 73%, respectively. (If this scenario plays out, I will be a perfect 6 for 6 in terms of voting for winning candidates and sides of proposals.)

Polls close at 8... so if you haven't voted, do so now! Then check Election Magic for results.

5/06/2007

Twelve more US soldiers died in Iraq today.

Not one. Not two. Not three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, or even eleven. Twelve innocent American lives lost. Not to mention almost 50 Iraqis (so much for 'liberating' them).

Twenty-five of our troops have died this month alone. An average of three have died each day this year. And they said the surge was supposed to fix the problem.

Nearly 3,400 have died since the war began - 3,200 since Bush declared 'Mission Accomplished' four years ago last week, and hundreds more than the number who died on September 11.

War is not pro-life.

I'm just glad my Marine Reservist friend Cliff is back from Iraq. He came home last week and I saw him in church earlier tonight.

5/05/2007

Ehlers featured on front page of Daily Kos

Vern Ehlers is famous in the progressive blogosphere now:

Another failure to plan:

In a grim sign of the times, the "Wall of the Fallen," set up by House Republican leaders in June, is almost full. The mounting death toll from Iraq has forced U.S. House staffers to study how to reconfigure the display in the lobby of the Rayburn Building - the largest office building for members of Congress - to squeeze in more names.

...New names are added to the display every few months, but none have been added since November. [...]

In the current format, there is space for about 130 more names, but 506 Americans have died since mid-November.


Apparently a member of the, "no one could have anticipated" club, Republican Rep. Vernon Ehlers said that he recently realized:

Boy, we could have a problem. More space is needed.

More space. Yes, that's the problem.

School and local elections this Tuesday!

Many people believe that young people simply do not care about politics - or if they do, they only do so during presidential campaigns. But every election is important, including elections for governor, state legislature, city office... and school boards. And other than K-12 students and teachers, I don’t know of any group that has more at stake in these school elections than people our age.

This Tuesday, many communities will be holding elections for School Boards, while others will be voting on tax issues (i.e. millage requests) and the like. Click here to find out if there’s an election going on where you live.

If there’s an election where you live, but you’re not sure if you will vote, here are a couple of reasons why you should.

1. K-12 schools do matter to us. If you're reading this, you are probably a college student, and you probably don't care what goes on in your communities' K-12 schools (unless you want to be a teacher). Here's why you should. Companies generally choose to create jobs in areas where potential employees are well-trained to work for them. This means that in order for Michigan to emerge from the economic doldrums brought on by the decline in our auto industry, workers need to be well-trained and well-educated. It’s up to our schools to educate young people and to equip them with the skills they need in the 21st century world. Gov. Jennifer Granholm understood this, and was thus able to push a stronger high school curriculum into law last year.

School board members - including those who will be elected Tuesday - have the responsibility of making the schools in their communities educate children as best they can. The better the schools in your communities are, the smarter their students will be, the better prepared they will be for the workforce and the more attractive our communities will be to businesses.

2. Your vote has a big impact (relatively speaking). About 60 million people vote for the American Idol in a typical week. 3.8 million people voted in Michigan’s gubernatorial race six months ago. By contrast, no more than a few thousand people vote in School Board elections in many places. This means your vote will have a much greater impact on who wins.

3. Today’s School Board members = Tomorrow’s political leaders. A number of School Board members go on to serve as city council members, mayors, and state legislators. Former Grand Rapids Public School Board member Robert Dean now serves in the Michigan House, having won a hotly contested race last fall. The 2006 Democratic nominee for Congress in the Grand Rapids area, Jim Rinck, currently sits on the GRPS Board. Those are just a couple of examples. So if you see a candidate whom you know is a conservative... well, you know who not to vote for.

Polls are open from 7 AM to 8 PM on Tuesday. If you can, educate yourself (no pun intended) about the candidates running in your area... then be sure to vote!

5/04/2007

Ehlers, other MI Republicans oppose expansion of hate-crmes law

The US House Thursday passed a bill designed to expand the nation's hate-crimes laws to include those crimes that are based on gender or sexual orientation. 25 Republicans joined with 212 Democrats (including each of Michigan's six Democratic Representatives) in votng for the bill, which President Bush is threatening to veto.

CNN has more on the bill:

Under current law, hate crimes are subject to federal prosecution only if the acts of violence are motivated by race, religion, color or national origin. Federal prosecutors get involved only if the victim is engaged in a federally protected activity, such as voting or participating in interstate commerce.

The White House says there is no need for the expanded bill because state and local laws already cover the crimes it addresses, and there is no need for federal enforcement.

In addition to allowing greater leeway for federal law enforcement authorities to investigate hate crimes, the House bill -- which was passed on a 237-180 vote --provides $10 million over the next two years to aid local prosecutions.

According to the article, critics of the hate-crimes legislation say it will target pastors who preach against homosexuality. Two points in that regard. First, the bill targets those who commit crimes based on gender and sexual orientation, NOT those who believe homosexuality is wrong.

Second, I'm a straight man, and I personally believe marriage is between one man and one woman. But if one of my friends from the GLBT falls victim to a hate crime, I would expect nothing less than for the perpetrator to receive swift justice.

But Congressman Ehlers and 179 of his colleagues - including every Republican member of Michigan's congressional delegation - do not see it that way. They believe that the current law, which criminalizes hate crimes perpetrated based on religion, race, national origin, or color, is sufficient enough.

But a hate crime is a hate crime, regardless of the basis on which it is perpetrated. Until Mr. Ehlers realizes this, he will probably keep receiving zeros on the Human Rights Campaign's Congressional Scorecard.

5/02/2007

Buckley agrees with Kissinger that the war cannot be won

Wait until the folks at YAF hear about this piece:

The political problem of the Bush administration is grave, possibly beyond the point of rescue. The opinion polls are savagely decisive on the Iraq question. About 60 percent of Americans wish the war ended — wish at least a timetable for orderly withdrawal. What is going on in Congress is in the nature of accompaniment. The vote in Congress is simply another salient in the war against war in Iraq. Republican forces, with a couple of exceptions, held fast against the Democrats’ attempt to force Bush out of Iraq even if it required fiddling with the Constitution. President Bush will of course veto the bill, but its impact is critically important in the consolidation of public opinion. It can now accurately be said that the legislature, which writes the people’s laws, opposes the war.

[SNIP]

But beyond affirming executive supremacy in matters of war, what is George Bush going to do? It is simply untrue that we are making decisive progress in Iraq. The indicators rise and fall from day to day, week to week, month to month. In South Vietnam there was an organized enemy. There is clearly organization in the strikes by the terrorists against our forces and against the civil government in Iraq, but whereas in Vietnam we had Hanoi as the operative headquarters of the enemy, we have no equivalent of that in Iraq, and that is a matter of paralyzing importance. All those bombings, explosions, assassinations: we are driven to believe that they are, so to speak, spontaneous.

[SNIP]

Students of politics ask then the derivative question: How can the Republican party, headed by a president determined on a war he can’t see an end to, attract the support of a majority of the voters? General Petraeus, in his Pentagon briefing on April 26, reported persuasively that there has been progress, but cautioned, "I want to be very clear that there is vastly more work to be done across the board and in many areas, and again I note that we are really just getting started with the new effort." The general makes it a point to steer away from the political implications of the struggle, but this cannot be done in the wider arena. There are grounds for wondering whether the Republican party will survive this dilemma.

So who wrote that article? Some 'left-wing surrender monkey?' Nope... That, my friends, comes to us from William F. Buckley, father of modern American conservatism.

He's not the first of his ideology to say that the war is lost; Henry Kissinger has also said so. Again I ask, as I did last week: Where are all the war hawks criticizing Kissinger and Buckley for saying essentially the same thing Reid has said.

5/01/2007

100 Posts!

This is my 100th post to Great Lakes, Great Times, Great Scott (formerly known as Scott Does Politics)! Let's celebrate with a few videos...



This is my very first YouTube video posting! It features Tim (whom I've known since middle school) and a couple others getting pied in the face for a good cause here at CMU. That's me saying "Having trouble there Tim?" at 1:13.

Here are a couple videos from British TV shows just after last November's elections.




And finally some late-night humor:

“A total now of eight people have announced that they want to be president. It's George Bush's fault. He has lowered the standard." --David Letterman

"As it does every year, this State of the Union matches up two bitter rivals: the president of the United States and words." --Jon Stewart

"31 million people watched the president -- many, I suspect, in hopes that he would get voted off. ... One of the big topics, of course, was the war. The president said he understands that Americans are losing patience, but he would like us to give his new plan a chance to work. In other words, all he is saying is give war a chance" --Jimmy Kimmel

"I'll give President Bush credit though. He addressed the problems troubling Americans -- the war in Iraq, the economy, the need to develop alternative fuels. He seemed to know what we were thinking. It's almost as if he was reading our mail or listening to our phone calls." --Jay Leno

"Seriously, the stakes are very high. And in this high stakes game, the president of the United States made one simple request [on screen: Bush asking Americans to give the new Iraq strategy a chance]. He's right. Everyone deserves a seventh chance." --Jon Stewart, on Bush’s State of the Union address

"During an interview with '60 Minutes' on Sunday, President Bush defended the invasion of Iraq, saying, 'We liberated that country from a tyrant. I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude.' Said the Iraqi people, 'We've been meaning to send a card, but our Hallmark store keeps blowing up.'" --Amy Poehler

"Some good news. Finally, President Bush is going to do something about global warming. He became alarmed when another chunk of ice fell off his mother." --David Letterman

"President Bush is still on the road trying to drum up support for his new Iraq program. ... This time, Bush has an exit strategy for the Iraqi war. In January of 2009, he will escape to Crawford, Texas." --David Letterman