The WeekEnder: June 29-July 1, 2007

Welcome to the premiere edition of The WeekEnder! The WeekEnder is a weekly series that will provide a hodgepodge of information to fill your soul, make you laugh, make you cry, and inspire you. Highlights of The WeekEnder will include:

  • Some good news;
  • Some bad news;
  • A funny or unusual news item;
  • A highlight from the blogosphere;
  • A Link of the Week;
  • A Photo of the Week;
  • A Video of the Week;
  • A Quote of the Week;
  • A joke; and
  • A random thought from yours truly.
In this week's WeekEnder:

  • A Democratic pickup opportunity in Michigan
  • Scalia et. al. v. Common Sense
  • A rather interesting way to solve the AIDS epidemic
  • A personal reflection on stem-cell research
  • Vice Presidents: America's Second Bananas
  • Old Glory
  • Michigan Democratic chair reaches out
  • William Sprague motivates you
  • How Jesus cools off
  • Where I think Bigfoot really is

Good news:
If you want Congress to do more, the Democratic majority will have to grow. Jordan discusses one race in Michigan where we Dems have the potential to knock off a long-time GOP incumbent despite a GOP-gerrymandered map.

Bad news:
Adam discusses the just-completed Supreme Court term:

In one full term, this Court has severely curbed local efforts to promote racial diversity in schools, upheld a right-wing ban on a necessary medical procedure for women, curbed students' free speech rights, crippled Congress' ability to keep corporate money out of political advertising, prevented taxpayers from challenging the constitutionality of Bush's faith-based initiatives, made it almost impossible for women to prevail on claims of longterm sex discrimination . . . and they're just getting started.
Downright un-American.

Forget Mr. Right - how about Mr. Condom?
Anything to combat AIDS:

India, struggling to promote greater condom use among its population, is looking to hire its own "condom man" to follow the example of a former Thai cabinet minister who successfully pushed for safer sex.

National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) chief Sujatha Rao said that India needed to find someone like Mechai Viravaidya, famous for getting Thais to talk about sex, condoms and AIDS.


"He has to feel passionately about the cause as Mechai does ... have a dynamic personality to change both government policy and public perceptions about HIV/AIDS, sex and condoms," Rao was quoted in The Times of India as saying.

Mechai became famous in Thailand as the "Condom King" for actions such as taking condoms to World Bank talks as well as for the name of his Bangkok restaurant "Cabbages and Condoms," where condoms are a major part of the decor.

Blog highlight of the week: The people who matter to us
Talk about one brace woman. LiberalLucy has been affected by Crohn's disease, requiring countless hospitalizations. Yet she remains a tireless advocate of progressive causes. In one of her latest blog posts, she discusses her suffering and that of a friend of hers whom she lost. Reflecting on his death:

Just as with all things in life, I will not let Dave's life or death go unnoticed. He will be sorely missed by many, many people. I will remember his light, his smile, and his kindness. There are so many things that we can and must take from every single experience, good, bad, and the tragic, otherwise, they are all in vain and we're left asking ourselves 'what's the point?'

Dave was worth more than that, and so are we.

Link of the week
Believe it or not, eight months from now, the crowded field of 19 presidential candidates will be narrowed down to just two... and one year from now the speculation as to whom the nominees pick as running mates will be in full force. Whomever the nominees pick for the #2 slot will vouch for the right to hold an office held by such greats as George Dallas, Thomas Hendricks, James Sherman, and Charles Dawes.

VicePresidents.com has almost everything you want to know about our nation’s 46 Vice Presidents, including biographies, trivia, and news items surrounding Deadeye Dick.

Photo of the Week: Old Glory on Flag Day
In honor of our nation's 231st birthday, I give you the Stars and Stripes, here shown at my house two weeks ago.

Video of the Week: Michigan Dem Chair reaches out
In his fifth video podcast, Michigan Democratic Party Chair and DNC Vice Chair Mark Brewer tells us how he is reaching out to young Michigan Democrats on Facebook:

Quote of the week: William B. Sprague
"Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking."

Joke of the Week: Lie-Clocks
A man died and went to heaven. As he stood in front of St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, he saw a huge wall of clocks behind him.

He asked, "What are all those clocks?" St. Peter answered, "Those are Lie-Clocks. Everyone on Earth has a Lie-Clock. Every time you lie the hands on your clock will move."

"Oh," said the man, "whose clock is that?"

"That's Mother Teresa's. The hands have never moved, indicating that she never told a lie."

"Incredible," said the man. "And whose clock is that one?"

St. Peter responded, "That's Abraham Lincoln's clock. The hands have moved twice, telling us that Abe told only two lies in his entire life."

"Where's President Bush's clock?" asked the man.

"Bush's clock is in Jesus' office. He's using it as a ceiling fan."

Final thought
Researchers are looking for evidence of Bigfoot in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Hey guys (and gals) - let me save you the trouble: If you’re looking for any kind of foot, try Detroit News columnist Nolan Finley’s mouth.


More young people are voting - and they lean left

If politicians are to listen to the concerns of young people, more young people need to make their voice heard. The ballot box is one way this can happen.

To that end, I bear good tidings.

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that, for the second major election in a row, young voter turnout rose in 2006. An analysis of the data from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at the University of Maryland confirms early estimates of increased young voter turnout and finds that 10.8 million 18-29 year olds voted in 2006, a nearly two million vote increase from 2002 levels (8.9 million). This is following young voters' large turnout increase in 2004, when 18-29 year olds cast 4.3 million more ballots than in 2000 and increased their turnout rate by nine percentage points, more than twice the overall electorate's 4-point increase. CIRCLE's analysis also shows that while turnout was up among voters of all ages in 2006 (by 1.7 percentage points), 18-29 year olds yet again increased their turnout by more, jumping by 3 percentage points from 2002 to 2006 - nearly twice the increase of the overall electorate.

"The official figures confirm that a new generation has arrived at the polls and is an electorate to watch in 2008," said Kat Barr, Research Director at Young Voter Strategies. "On Election Day 2006, 10.8 million 18-29 year olds voted, two million more than in the previous midterm election. The increased civic engagement and political interest of the Millennial Generation, outreach from campus and community organizations, and attention from campaigns and candidates in 2006 all came together to build on the momentum begun by big young voter turnout in 2004. Young adults are an electorate that campaigns and candidates must reach out to in order to win on Election Day 2008 and beyond.
So more of them are voting... but for whom are they voting? I bear more good tidings:

Young Americans are more likely than the general public to favor a government-run universal health care insurance system, an open-door policy on immigration and the legalization of gay marriage, according to a New York Times/CBS News/MTV poll. The poll also found that they are more likely to say the war in Iraq is heading to a successful conclusion.

The poll offers a snapshot of a group whose energy and idealism have always been as alluring to politicians as its scattered focus and shifting interests have been frustrating. It found that substantially more Americans ages 17 to 29 than four years ago are paying attention to the presidential race. But they appeared to be really familiar with only two of the candidates, Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, both Democrats.

They have continued a long-term drift away from the Republican Party. And although they are just as worried as the general population about the outlook for the country and think their generation is likely to be worse off than that of their parents, they retain a belief that their votes can make a difference, the poll found.

More than half of Americans ages 17 to 29 — 54 percent — say they intend to vote for a Democrat for president in 2008. They share with the public at large a negative view of President Bush, who has a 28 percent approval rating with this group, and of the Republican Party. They hold a markedly more positive view of Democrats than they do of Republicans.

This is certainly good news. More thoughts on youth activism in a later post.


Congressional Democrats work to fix student loan system

For those who don't think there are differences between the two parties, I give you this:

Less than a year and a half after the then-Republican-controlled Congress raided student financial aid, the new Congress, controlled by Democrats, is working diligently to reverse the raid:

Democrats in Congress are working on sweeping changes to the student loan system, with legislation approved by both the Senate and House education committees that would cut federal subsidies to lending companies by as much as $19 billion, channel most of those savings to student aid, and ease repayment rules for borrowers.

The Senate measure would boost the maximum Pell grant, the nation's main aid program for low-income students, from $4,300 to $5,400 a year. The House measure calls for a smaller grant increase but would cut in half the interest rates on federally backed student loans, to 3.4 percent.

Lobbyists for the student loan industry attacked the legislation, saying that it might force some lending companies out of business. But supporters say that this legislation will aid those who need it most--the students.

Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chair of the House Education Committee, called it, "the biggest single investment in college financial aid since the GI Bill."
As someone who relies on student aid, I applaud Rep. Miller and all of those working diligently on behalf of students across the nation.


Bill in Minnesota Legislature written in rhyming verse

Think Michigan legislators are the only ones who don't do any real work? Think again (hat tip to Snopes):

Section 1. [138.99] POET LAUREATE.
Subdivision 1. Appointment.

The Gov' shall appoint a state poet laureate,
Who shall serve for a four-year term.
Because this appointment will always be great,
There's no need for the Senate to confirm.
In appointing a poet for the public good,
And to ensure there's no unjust omission,
The governor shall consider, if he would
Thoughts of the Humanities Commission.

Subd. 2. Removal.

The poet will be free to write rhyming lines,
With removal only for cause,
But we trust that the bard will promptly resign,
If the verse reads as badly as laws.

Subd. 3. Compensation.

'Twould be fair to provide some just recompense
As reward for the poet's tribulations,
But because at this time we haven't the cents
We're afraid there is no compensation.
But we ask as the poet travels the state,
And the people their ears they lend,
That our learned Commission take the position
To provide the poor poet a stipend.

Subd. 4. Gifts and grants.

To provide the support that needs to come
To support our new laureate,
Gifts and grants received of a generous sum,
We hereby appropriate.


Bits of Tid: June 21, 2007

  • The big story of the week is NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg's decision to bolt the GOP and become an independent. Many speculate that he'll run for the big prize as an independent. According to SurveyUSA, that just might help us win a few solidly red states!

  • 26%.

  • A rising star in the GOP gets busted for cocaine - but that's not all; he used it as a party favor for his GOP friends. AND he chairs Rudy's South Carolina campaign.

  • Editor and Publisher:

    Only one in three Americans rate the economy today as either excellent or good, while the percentage saying the economy is getting better fell from 28% to 23% in one month.

    Gallup adds: For the first time this year, a majority of Americans are negative about the employment market, saying it is a bad time to find a quality job.

    Doesn't sound like a 'single-state recession' to me.

  • He might represent Alaska, but Senator Ted Stevens (R-Series of Tubes) is in hot water. Incidentally, Stevens and longtime GOP Congressman Don Young, who represents all of Alaska, may be in some electoral hot water come next November.

  • Kos puts polling into perspective.

  • State Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer endorses Hillary. Michigan Liberal erupts.

  • The Michigan Democratic Party is looking into doing internet voting. Isabella County Democrats are none too fond of the idea, and neither do I.

  • "Do-nothing Congress," my - you know.


Six more reasons we need a Democrat in the White House in 2009

Supreme Court terms begin in October and end in June. Six of the nine justices are 67 years of age or older - older than many ordinary Americans will be when they retire.

Recent decisions assaulting women’s and employee freedoms have put a new focus on the Court. Given the likelihood that we will once again see at least one, if not two or more, vacancies on the Court during the next president’s term, the Supreme Court is poised to be a very crucial issue in 2008, one that I’d rank as important as Iraq, terrorism, and global warming. Perhaps it is the most important issue in the 2008 election, because it involves the heart of what our nation is all about: our freedoms.

Courtesy of Wikipedia, Here are the six justices who, as of the end of the 2008-2009 term (when justices often announce their retirement), will be at least 70 years old or will be approaching 70.

John Paul Stevens
Leans Left
Age in June 2009: 89
Took office: 1975

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Leans Left
Age in June 2009: 76
Took office: 1993

Antonin Scalia
Leans - well, do I have to tell you?
Age in June 2009: 73
Took office: 1986

Anthony Kennedy
Leans Right, but considered quasi-moderate
Age in June 2009: 72
Took office: 1988

Stephen Breyer
Leans Left
Age in June 2009: 70
Took office: 1994

David Souter
Leans Left
Age in June 2009: 69
Took office: 1990


Russert echoes Ailes's "Debate on Fox or else" rhetoric

Roger Ailes:

"The candidates that can’t face Fox, can’t face Al Qaeda," said Mr. Ailes. "And that’s what’s coming."
Tim Russert:
"It's a TV show. If you can't handle TV questions, how are you going to stand up to Iran, and North Korea, and the rest of the world?"
'Liberal' media.

Election 2008: The Unimportance of Experience

Chief among criticisms of both John Edwards and Barack Obama are that they are too inexperienced to be good presidents - that they're 'not ready for prome time,' as the saying goes.

Let me first of all say that while Obama and Edwards are two of my early favorites for the nod (along with Richardson), there is no guarantee that I'll actually support any of them when caucus time nears.

On that note, here’s a look at the current and possible 2008 candidates and how many years they will have spent in public office as of November 2008:

  • Joe Biden: 38 years - 36 years in the Senate, 2 as a County Councilman
  • Tommy Thompson: 38 - 4 as Health and Human Services Secretary, 14 as governor, 20 in the state Assembly
  • Chris Dodd: 34 - 28 years in the Senate, 6 in the House
  • Duncan Hunter: 28 in the House
  • John McCain: 26 - 22 in the Senate, 4 in the House
  • Al Gore: 24 - 8 years each as VP, Senator, and Congressman
  • Bill Richardson: 24 - 6 as governor, 4 in the Clinton administration, 14 in Congress
  • Newt Gingrich: 20 in the House
  • Ron Paul: 18 in the House
  • Mike Gravel: 16 - 12 in the Senate, 4 in the Alaska House
  • Sam Brownback: 14 - 12 in the Senate, 2 in the House
  • Mike Huckabee: 14 - 3 as Lieutenant Governor, 11 as Governor
  • Dennis Kucinich: 14 - 12 in Congress, 2 as mayor of Cleveland
  • Tom Tancredo: 14 - 10 in Congress, 4 in the Colorado House
  • Barack Obama: 12 - 4 in the US Senate, 8 in the state Senate
  • Jim Gilmore: 12 - 4 as Governor, 4 as Attorney General, 4 as Commonwealth's Attorney
  • Hillary Clinton: 8 in the Senate
  • Rudy Giuliani: 8 as mayor
  • Fred Thompson: 8 in the Senate
  • John Edwards: 6 in the Senate
  • Mitt Romney: 4 as governor
I don't know about you, but somehow I'm more willing to trust Obama with the future of this country than the more-experienced McCain.

Now here are the other 2004 hopefuls (besides Edwards and Kucinich) arranged by the amount of experience they had when they ran:

  • Bob Graham: 38 - 18 years in the US Senate; 8 as governor, 8 in the state senate, 4 in the state house
  • Dick Gephardt: 33 - 28 in Congress, 5 as St. Louis alderman
  • Joe Lieberman: 32 - 16 in the US Senate, 6 as state attorney general, 10 as state senator
  • John Kerry: 22 - 20 in the Senate, 2 as Lieutenant Governor
  • Howard Dean: 20 - 11.5 years as governor, 4.5 as Lt. Governor, 4 in the state House
  • Carol Moseley Braun: 16 - 6 years in the Senate, 8 in the state House, 2 as Ambassador to New Zealand
  • Wesley Clark: 0
  • Al Sharpton: 0
Take your pick: Clark or Lieberman? I thought so.

Now let’s add a twist. Here are the last 12 Presidents of this great country, and how much time they spent in public office before becoming President:

  • Harry Truman: 27 - 10 on the County Court, 10 years as Senator, 3 months as VP
  • Lyndon B. Johnson: 26 - 3 years as VP, 12 in the US Senate, 12 in the House
  • Gerald Ford: Almost 26 - 25 in the US House, less than a year as VP
  • G.H.W. Bush: 17 - 8 as VP, 4 in the US House, 5 in the Nixon and Ford administrations
  • Bill Clinton: 14 - 12 as governor, 2 as state Attorney General
  • John F. Kennedy: 14 - 8 in the Senate, 6 in the House
  • Richard Nixon: 14 - 4 in the House, 2 as Senator, 8 as VP
  • FDR: 13 - 4 years as governor, 2 as state senator, 7 as Assistant Navy Secretary
  • Jimmy Carter: 8 - 4 years as Governor, 4 as state Senator
  • Ronald Reagan: 8 as Governor
  • His Idiocy: 6 as Governor
  • Dwight Eisenhower: 0
Who do you think was the better president: Eisenhower, or the more experienced Poppy?

I have listed 41 different individuals in three different categories: 2008 candidates and potential candidates; 2004 candidates; and former Presidents. Now let’s arrange all 41 of the above-mentioned figures in order of how many years they spent in public office:
  • Biden, T. Thompson, Graham: 38 years each
  • Dodd: 34
  • Gephardt: 33
  • Lieberman: 32
  • Hunter: 28
  • Truman: 27+
  • LBJ: 27
  • Kerry, McCain: 26
  • Ford: Just under 26
  • Gore, Richardson: 24
  • Kerry: 22
  • Dean, Gingrich: 20
  • Paul: 18
  • GHW Bush: 17
  • Gravel, Moseley Braun: 16
  • B. Clinton, Kennedy, Johnson, Brownback, Huckabee, Kucinich, Tancredo: 14 each
  • FDR: 13
  • Gilmore, Obama: 12
  • H. Clinton, Giuliani, F. Thompson, Carter, Reagan: 8 each
  • Edwards, DUH-bya: 6 each*
  • Romney: 4
  • Eisenhower, Sharpton, Clark: Nada
So... Edwards or Newt? Hillary or Duncan Hunter? Clark or Lieberman?

My point? Well, first of all, Obama isn’t as inexperienced as the spin doctors may have you believe. He’s more experienced than the Nobel Laureate in this group!

Second, it’s not how long you’ve been in office that matters, it’s what you’ve done in that time. But more importantly, it’s about what you plan to do once in office. A career politician (read: Biden) does not always cut it like someone who has a record of integrity and hard work combined with a vision of what America could become (i.e. Obama and Edwards).

So is Edwards inexperienced? Compared to Tommy Thompson, sure. But he is still more seasoned politically than either Eisenhower or Clark, two fine people whom I admire well.

I'm not trying to say inexperienced politicians make better Presidents. Gore and Richardson would do a hell of a lot better job than Fred Thompson. And don't get me started about the guy in the White House right now.

But if experience is as important as some would have you believe, then why is it that such figures as Eisenhower, Edwards, and Hillary are more admired than Dodd, Lieberman, or Gephardt?

So maybe we should avoid focusing on someone’s experience (or lack thereof) and look at the big picture. We need leadership in the White House - leadership that may or may not come from a career poilitician.

Introducing JenniferGranholm.com

A new website has been launched to help Michiganders/Michiganians connect with their government.

JenniferGranholm.com is the official website of the Granholm Leadership Fund. John VanDeventer tells us more at Michigan Liberal:

The site will allow Michiganders to get involved with important issues through online advocacy tools, make contributions with our secure online form, and discuss the elections and policies that shape Michigan's future on our new blog, The Conversation.

I encourage you all to take a few minutes to check out the new site and would certainly welcome your questions and suggestions. Starting today, we will also be cross-posting all our blog content at MichiganLiberal.com and will look into other ways to partner with you all to make the Michigan blogging network as strong as possible. Also, for those of you already eager to make a donation (bless you), our contribution form is now online and ready to go!

We have a lot of exciting stuff in the pipeline as we move forward with our new site - including some cool ideas to get users involved in the 2008 election process. Stay tuned as the site evolves and please don't hesitate to contact me if you ever have any questions or comments.


From Media Mouse: Ehlers Introduces Voting "Reform" Legislation

Media Mouse has the scoop:

Last month, Grand Rapids area Congressional Representative Vern Ehlers Republican) introduced the Voting Enhancement and Security Act of 2007 (HR 2360) in the House of Representatives. The bill would amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to establish state guidelines for an independent and verifiable voting record on electronic machines, require state auditors to certify audit plans, and require states to develop contingency plans and emergency ballot protocols.

Republicans on the House Administration committee--on which Ehlers is a ranking member--are urging their colleagues in the House to vote for Ehlers' bill instead of another popular voting reform bill known as HR 811. That bill would require that electronic voting machines generate voter-verified paper trails and require them to be in place by 2008 and would require mandatory audits of a portion of precincts in federal races. A key difference is that Ehlers' bill does not require changes by the 2008 election, nor does it require the paper trails that many voting reform organizations have sought. Lawrence Norden of the Brennan Center for Justice Under Law of New York University said that Ehlers' bill "does nothing to address the serious voting system security vulnerabilities experts have identified" and cites it as an example of Republicans using the tough deadline imposed under HR 811 to ensure that Congress does not address the security and accuracy of voting machines.

However, some critics of HR 811's deadlines have introduced legislation calling for paper trails. On May 25, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced the Ballot Integrity Act of 2007 that would implement safeguards to prevent errors and tampering at the polls, require states to use voting systems with voter-verified paper records subject to public manual audits in the 2010 federal elections, and ensure that voters are not denied the right to vote by faulty purges of voting rolls.


Verlander scores a NO-HITTER!

We interrupt our regularly-scheduled politicking to bring you this very special bulletin:

Justin Verlander pitched the first no-hitter in Comerica Park history,
mixing 100 mph heat with crazy curveballs to lead the Detroit Tigers over the
Milwaukee Brewers 4-0 Tuesday night.

Verlander struck out a career-high 12 and got a huge assist from shortstop Neifi Perez, who turned a possible single up the middle in the eighth into an inning-ending double play.

The 2006 AL Rookie of the Year benefited from several other stellar defensive plays and worked around four walks in the Tigers' first no-hitter since Jack Morris in 1984.

Verlander trotted to the mound for the ninth to a standing ovation. He struck out Craig Counsell and Tony Graffanino before getting J.J. Hardy to fly out to the warning track in right field.


Bits of Tid: June 11, 2007


While the media adores Paris, 40,000 children will die today

...because of malnutrition and hunger. That's according to the Rehydration Project, which also states that one billion people live in inadequate housing.

Another 4,000 children will die for a lack of drinking water.

80 infants will die in Darfur due to poor health.

Roughly 60 die because of violence in Iraq each day.

1,500 people will die of cancer today... in the US alone.

There are so many other grim statistics out there, which you may wish to allude to in responses to this thread. I just wanted to remind people that most of the media seems to care a lot more about what happens to one gorgeous-looking person than what happens to thousands of innocent, although some would say not as attractive, people around the world - and here at home - on a daily basis.


Bits of Tid: June 7, 2007


YouTube videos for your viewing pleasure

We'll start with a hilarious one from the Edwards campaign:

Mark Brewer discusses the 2008 Michigan caucus:

And finally, here's my second posting to YouTube, starring Lucy:


2008 Electoral College tie would likely yield Democratic President

The US Constitution requires that the President and Vice President be elected by a majority vote of the Electoral College. Because the Electoral College has 538 members, a majority would equal 270. However, it is possible to have a 269-269 tie. Here are some ways in which a tie in the Electoral College could happen - and how it would be broken.

How a tie could happen
The states Kerry won in 2004 account for 252 electoral votes. We need 18 more votes to win outright, 17 more to tie. Here are just a few ways in which a tie mighty happen.

1. We win all of the states Kerry win, plus Iowa (7 electoral votes) - which Bush won by just a few thousand votes - and either Arizona (10) or both Nevada (5) and New Mexico (5).
2. We lose Wisconsin (10) but win in either Florida (27) or both Ohio (20) and Iowa.
3. We win Colorado (9), New Mexico, and Iowa, but lose New Hampshire.
4. We lose Pennsylvania (21) but win Florida and Missouri (11).
5. We lose Michigan (17) but win Florida and Iowa.
6. We lose Michigan but win Ohio, New Mexico, and Colorado.
7. We lose Michigan, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania but win Florida, Iowa, Ohio, and either New Mexico or Nevada.

Casting and counting the electoral votes
So as you can see, there are a number of ways in which the two tickets can deadlock at 269 EVs apiece, many of which I haven't even mentioned. So what happens then? Some of you know exactly how the process works, but for those who don't, here's a synopsis.

1. November 4, 2008: When voters vote in presidential elections, they are actually voting for a slate of electors (usually nominated by state parties) who are pledged to vote for a specific Pres/VP ticket.

2. December 15, 2008: Those electors will gather in their state capitals to officially vote for the new President and VP on the Monday following the second Wednesday in December. In some states (but not all), it is entirely possible that one elector will vote for the candidates opposite the ones for whom they were pledged to vote, and thus break the tie.

3. January 6, 2009, or thereabouts: Shortly after the 111th Congress convenes, Congress will meet in joint session to officially count the electoral votes. If a candidate receives at least 270 electoral votes, they are elected.

4. If no candidate receives 270, however, Congress settles the matter. Amendment XII tells us how that would work.

...the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. ...

The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; ... and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice.
In other words, each state's House delegation gets one vote to determine who will become the next President of the United States, while each Senator votes for the next Vice President. This means that one can assume that a state's vote for President will go to the candidate whose party has the majority of Congress(wo)men from that state, while each Senator will vote alonmg party lines.

What this means for 2008/2009
So had the Electoral College deadlocked at 269 apiece in the 2004 election, Bush would still have been declared the winner, receiving the votes of 28 states to Kerry's 19 (assuming Vermont's lone rep, then Independent Bernie Sanders, would've voted for Kerry). However, thanks to the gains Democrats made in 2006, we now hold a 26-21 lead in delegations, with Arizona, Kansas, and Mississippi tied. (Don't ask me how those three states would vote.)

What this tells us is that providing the Democrats do not lose any seats in the House - or that any seats they do lose are in states where it wouldn't cost them the majority in any state's delegation - then we can likely expect a Democratic President in 85 weeks.

Many expect the Democrats to expand their lead in the Senate, winning at least the seat in Colorado, if not New Hampshire, Virginia, or elsewhere. Let's hope this happens, but if there's anything 2005 and 2006 taught us, it's that things can change quite a lot in a short time. (A one-seat majority is not much of a majority!)

Now imagine split control of Congress. Say the Democrats control a majority of delegations in the 111th House, while the GOP wins back the Senate. If they vote on party lines, this would result in a bipartisan split - a Democratic President and a Repub VP - the first time since 1801 that the two have been of opposite parties.

Then there are so many other intriguing possibilities. Ordinarily, a majority in the Senate equals 51 votes, but right now there are only 99 Senators because of the passing of Senator Thomas, so 50 is a majority. In Maine and Nebraska, the winner in each Congressional district gets one vote and the winner of the state as a whole gets two. Then there's the issue of faithless electors - which I barely touched on here.

Confused? I don't blame you. If I had my way, the Electoral College wouldn't exist. But since it doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon, I hope this gives you a better sense of what would happen in the event of a tied Electoral Vote.

Of course, I also hope that a landslide Democratic win will allow us not to have to worry about that.


A Day in the Life of Joe Republican

Here's something I found in an email. It's a reminder of what we Democrats stand for.

Joe gets up at 6:00am to prepare his morning coffee. He fills his pot full of drinking water, which is good and clean because some liberal fought for minimum water quality standards. He takes his daily medication with his first swallow of coffee. His medications are safe to take because some liberal fought to insure their safety and work as advertised.

All but $10.00 of his medications are paid for by his employers medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance, now Joe gets it too. He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs this day. Joe’s bacon is safe to eat because some liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

Joe takes his morning shower reaching for his shampoo; His bottle is properly labeled with every ingredient and the amount of its contents because some liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some tree hugging liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air.

He walks to the subway station for his government subsidized ride to work; it saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees. You see, some liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his work day; he has a good job with excellent pay, medicals benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe’s employer pays these standards because Joe’s employer doesn’t want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed he’ll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some liberal didn’t think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

It's noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe’s deposit is federally insured by the FDIC because some liberal wanted to protect Joe’s money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Depression.

Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae underwritten Mortgage and his below market federal student loan because some stupid liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his life-time.

Joe is home from work. he plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive to dads; his car is among the safest in the world because some liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives at his boyhood home. He was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers Home Administration because bankers didn’t want to make rural loans. The house didn’t have electric until some big government liberal stuck his nose where it didn’t belong and demanded rural electrification.

He is happy to see his dad, who is now retired. His dad lives on Social Security and his union pension because some liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn’t have to.

After his visit with Dad he gets back in his car for the ride home. He turns on a radio talk show. The host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. (He doesn’t mention that his beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day.)

Joe agrees, “We don’t need those big government liberals ruining our lives; after all, I’m a self made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have”.

So the next time you hear conservatives bashing the left, Remember Joe Republican, and how we Americans owe our high standard of living to Democrats.


Twelve facts about taxes in Michigan

Lawmakers in Lansing have been debating a fix to Michigan's budget crisis for several months. While the Fiscal Year 2007 budget is balanced, that for Fiscal Year 2008 (which begins October 1) is not.

A key sticking point in budget talks has been whether to raise taxes. Tax hikes aren't an easy pill to swallow, but neither are poor schools, lousy healthcare, or more potholes.

So to make the tax-hike pill easier to swallow, here are some facts about tax policy in the Great Lakes State for you to ponder.

  1. In February, a bipartisan panel said that Michigan "must develop a fiscal plan that includes a combination of revenue increases, spending cuts, and reform of how public services are delivered." (emphasis added)

  2. For someone earning $50,000 per year, Michigan's income tax is the eleventh lowest in the country (including sttaes which have chosen to fund their revenues through means other than income taxes).

  3. State spending is lower now than anytime since 1974, following several years of budget cuts.

  4. Governor Granholm has cut business taxes nearly one hundred times since becoming governor.

  5. It's not like the state wastes your taxpayer dollars. Michigan has been ranked the third-best-managed state in the nation by Governing Magazine.

  6. Wall Street is watching. Citing uncertainty surrounding the state's budget, particularly with regards to the elimination of the Single Business Tax, Standard & Poor’s recently dropped Michigan’s credit rating. This rating affects Michigan’s ability to attract businesses and create jobs.

  7. Raising taxes isn't all that unpopular either. The people of Michigan believe a tax increase is needed as part of a solution to the budget crisis.

  8. The Chamber of Commerce also supports a tax increase. The Chamber, people, the Chamber!

  9. Republican Kalamazoo County Administrator Don Gilmer recently told the Detroit News that "Taxes are the price you pay for a civilized society."

  10. Well, we need a tax hike right now. Without tax increases, funds for cities and counties are often cut, often resulting in jobs for firefighters and police officers being cut. This not only hurts the economy, it can also cost lives.

  11. Still unconvinced? Without tax increases, funding for education is often cut. This results in higher tuition for college students, cuts to programs in K-12 schools, and layoffs in both.

  12. Finally, it's not like Republicans are completely opposed to raising taxes. When John Engler was governor, the sales tax was raised from 4% to 6%, the gas tax was increased by two cents, and the cigarette tax jumped fifty cents - not to mention numerous fee increases.
The people want a tax increase. Engler wasn't afraid to raise taxes when he was governor. So why are so many legislative Republicans so afraid to do so now?


Ford CEO, Chamber spokeswoman support Democrats' business tax plan

Here's an item from the Detroit Regional Chamber's Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island:

Blue and white stickers proclaiming "Pass the MBT" began appearing on lapels Thursday afternoon, about the same time that Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, told reporters that the House's Michigan Business Tax plan needed work.

Democrats like the House plan because it's a better deal for manufacturers, especially carmakers. Republicans prefer a plan that offers more incentive for small businesses.

Ford said the Democratic plan would create a more competitive tax structure for Michigan manufacturers, shift more of the tax burden to out-of-state companies that do business in Michigan and encourage research and development in the state.


The Detroit Regional Chamber, which helped write the House plan, weighed in to support it. "We really feel the House approach is better," said Sarah Hubbard, spokeswoman for the chamber.
If the GOP was truly the 'pro-business party,' then why are business leaders flocking to the Democratic plan instead?