8/29/2007

Message from Gov. Granholm to college students

Governor Jennifer Granholm has issued an open letter to college students across the state regarding the budget crisis. It reads, in part:

August is underway and that means friends are moving into their first apartments in Ann Arbor and Mt. Pleasant, parents are taking their sons and daughters to back-to-school sales in East Lansing and Grand Rapids, and freshmen are finalizing their first classes in Marquette and Kalamazoo. All across our state, this is a time when students should be excited for the start of another year at Michigan's top-notch colleges and universities. But, instead, recent spikes in college tuition rates have left Michigan families worried about how they're going to afford school and still keep gas in their tanks and food on the table. Many of you are just plain mad.

You should be. And I am, too.

As a parent, I'm mad about the dent these tuition hikes will put in our pocketbooks. Like many of you, my own daughter is starting college this fall. The dramatic rise in tuition and fees was an unwelcome surprise for our family and, most likely, for yours.

When you're opening your tuition bill in the coming weeks, it might seem easy to blame your school for the sharp increase. But the real problem is in Lansing. Michigan is in the middle of an urgent budget crisis and, so far, our legislature has failed to act.
The full letter is available here.

Here are a few other ways you can take action:

Things you have to believe to be a good Republican

I like what people send me via email:


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


Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him, and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.

Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is Communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony. The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.

A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.

The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money.

Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy. Providing health care to all Americans is socialism.

HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.

Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

A president lying about an extramarital affair is a impeachable offense. A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.

Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.

Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.

What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80s is irrelevant.

8/27/2007

Late-night YouTube anyone?

Let's start with Jon Stewart combining little-told facts with his wit:



Speaking of Stewart, remember this classic?



And finally, Bill Maher has a series on his show called "New Rules" (some of which were compiled into a book that was published in 2005). His latest one is quite hilarious:

8/25/2007

Bits of Tid: August 25, 2007

The Big Move Edition

  • It's been a few days! I moved back to CMU on Thursday, and yesterday I had a retreat for church and a College Democrats Executive Board meeting. Tomorrow is MainStage, which is the big recruitment event for CMU student organizations.
  • As for the WeekEnder: Again, it's been another busy weekend. So rather than post the WeekEnder all in one post, I will post items from each segment of the WeekEnder over the course of the next week or so. Meanwhile, don't forget to check out Coffee Talk on MichLib!
  • Sen. Obama got a 'Zbig' endorsement. If Obama was really as naive as some of his critics suggest, I don't think we could expect to see Brzezinski endorse him.
  • Florida is very close to losing its DNC delegates. Could Michigan be close behind if our primary is moved to January 15?
  • Has Fred Thompson been a bad boy?
  • Daily Kos has an article about two key races for Congress in Michigan.
  • Pete Hoekstra says its time for Bush to give up on creating a democracy in Iraq.

8/20/2007

Stock market report for August 20, 2007

Hat tip: Democratic Underground

Helium was up, feathers were down.
Paper was stationery.
Fluorescent tubing was dimmed in light trading.
Knives were up sharply.
Cows steered into a bull market.
Pencils lost a few points.
Hiking equipment was trailing.
Elevators rose, while escalators continued their slow decline.
Weights were up in heavy trading.
Light switches were off.
Mining equipment hit rock bottom.
Diapers remain unchanged.
Shipping lines stayed at an even keel.
The market for raisins dried up.
Caterpillar stock inched up a bit.
Sun peaked at midday.
Balloon prices were inflated.
And Scott Tissue touched a new bottom.

8/18/2007

Bits of Tid: August 18, 2007

Three Times in One Week Edition

  • Long story here, but no WeekEnder this weekend. Perhaps I'll try to make up for it with a two-parter next weekend; don't hold your breath, though, because like I said, I move back up to Mount Pleasant and it may be quite a busy weekend.

  • Just a reminder: Be sure to check out Coffee Talk om Michigan Liberal each day; I post each Saturday's Coffee Talk abd will also be subbing for LiberalLucy this coming Tuesday. Check it out!

  • This almost flew under my radar: House Democrats passed some important energy legislation just before summer break:

    The bill includes the Udall Renewable Energy Sources Amendment, which requires utilities to produce 15 percent of their electricity from clean and renewable sources like wind and solar by 2020.

    Other highlights include making the federal government carbon neutral by 2050, creating "green collar" jobs in solar panel manufacturing and green construction, investing in biofuels, and paying for green initiatives by repealing $16 billion in tax breaks for oil and gas companies.

    Sounds good, although I don't see why they have to wait 43 years to go carbon-neutral.

  • Barack Obama won't be participating in as many debates. His campaign manager explains:

    Unfortunately, we simply cannot run the kind of campaign we want and need to, engaging with voters in the early states and February 5 states, if our schedule is dictated by dozens of forums and debates. Ultimately, the one group left out of the current schedule is the voters and they are the ones who ask the toughest questions and most deserve to have those questions answered face to face.
  • This week's Democratic Radio Address was given by, of all people, a waitress. She discussed the impact of the recent increase of the minimum wage.

  • It looks like Michael Bloomberg won't run after all.

  • Don't think I've forgotten about LSSU's Banished Words List. I still have plenty of suggestions in my noggin. My latest:

    Pro-life - This is one of many code words politicians use to make themselves or policies they support look good. Most people who call themselves ‘pro-life’ aren't quite as ‘pro-life’ on some issues as they are on others.

    Don't forget to submit your picks for the 2008 list.

January 15 Presidential primary?

(Nirmal has included a couple updates on my cross-post at Michigan Liberal. It looks like it will be moved.)

The Presidential primary process could get interesting really fast. Daily Kos quotes this bit from The Atlantic:

Michigan could hold a statewide primary on Jan 15, if a deal reached this morning by top Republicans and Democrats in the state passes muster with state legislators. Michigan political sources say that Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Sen. Carl Levin are very close to a deal with House Speaker Andy Dillon (D) and Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R). It's not clear whether the state parties are on board, yet, but if the legislature decides to pass a bill changing the primary date, and then Gov. Granholm signs it, there's not much dissidents can do.

Markos adds:

The DNC can threaten the state with not seating its delegates, but similar threats hurled at Florida have fallen on deaf ears. It really doesn't have that much power to prevent this sort of thing from happening.

So this means that New Hampshire would have to move its primary into the first week of January (featuring hung-over voters), while Iowa would have to revisit its decision to keep its caucus in 2008. Yet moving it up to 2007 would turn it into a glorified straw poll.

Well, what are your thoughts?

I see this both ways. I have not been happy about Michigan's caucus being later than most state's. For many reasons (beyond vanity), our state deserves more influence in the process: Environmental, economic, and other major issues affect Michigan more than they do most other states.

On the other hand, I'm starting to question which is crazier: Bruce Patterson, or the presidential primary process.

8/17/2007

Bits of Tid: August 16, 2007

Hello/Goodbye Edition

Goodbye Karl Rove, but don't think for a moment that Conyers and Leahy are done with you just because you're resigning.

Goodbye Dennis Hastert, Deborah Pryce, and Chip Pickering. You're leaving Congress next year. Don't let the door hit you on the way out; as one Kos commenter said, it's be pretty hard for the door not to hit Hastert!

Goodbye Tommy Thompson; Kos’s Trapper John pays tribute to you in the form of a parody called "O Tommy Boy."

Goodbye common sense priorities in the media. Which is the bigger story to you - Edwards’s hair, or Giuliani claiming he was a 9/11 worker? Most pundits probably disagree.

Hello Al Gore? Hello? If you were in the race, 36% of Michigan Democrats would pick you as their top choice for President. Republicans’ top pick: Nope, not George Romney’s son, but Fred Thompson.

Hello Michigan jobs. Or so I hope. Democrats in Lansing want to encourage more firms to "Hire Michigan First."

Goodbye Jennifer Granholm. Best wishes on your trip to Sweden, where you hope to attract businesses to follow you home.

Goodbye single life, says Jenna Bush. Best wishes to both Jenna and her fiance. I must say I feel sorry for him; While most people can't stand their in-laws, I bet none of your in-laws have started unnecessary wars.

Hello CMU! In one week I'll be heading back to the Mounty for my junior (!) year in college. I may or may not blog much during ther semester, but we shall see..........

8/14/2007

Protest Gonzales in Grand Rapids

Media Mouse is sponsoring a protest tomorrow morning. I don't know if I will be able to make it, but if you can, please feel free to do so!

From an email:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez is speaking at a luncheon at the Eberhard Center on the downtown campus of GVSU.

Protest his visit on the grounds that
1) he unjustly fired US Attorneys across the country, including Michigan US Attorney Margaret Chiara. These firings were political in nature and many in Congress have called for Gonzales to resign - see the video at http://impeachgonzales.org/;

2) Gonzalez is also an architect of torture in the US so- called War on Terror; and
3) Gonzalez has supporter the administration's efforts to illegally spy on people in the US.

We will meet at the walking bridge by the Eberhard Center at the downtown GVSU campus at 11:15am.

The luncheon begins at noon, so we want to greet people going to the luncheon coming from the main campus building.

Bring signs, we will have flyers to hand out. If you can't come sign the Impeach Gonzalez petition online at http://impeachgonzales.org/

The war's toll on Michigan

As you undoubtedly know, the cost of the Iraq war has gone through the roof - in terms of dollars, American and Iraqi lives lost, and wounded servicemembers, among many other statistics. Furthermore, with the money that has gone to fight this catastrophic war, millions of children could have been insured, or thousands of schools could have been built.

The National Priorities Project has released a two-page PDF document detailing the cost of the war to the state of Michigan as a whole as well as to each Congressional District.

According to the NPP, this war has cost our state roughly $12,100,000,000 - more than $1,200 per person - so far. That money could have been used to insure more than two million uninsured children. Or it could’ve paid for the construction of nearly 1,100 elementary schools.

How much has the war cost your congressional district? Click the link to find out. (You won’t be surprised at which district has paid the heaviest price.)

8/13/2007

Bits of Tid: August 13, 2007

It's Gettin' Hot In Here Edition

  • Get your Iowa Republican straw poll results here. Romney couldn't even take 2% of the vote against second-tier candidates (Thompson, McCain, and Giuliani opted not to participate). But what I find really interesting is that results of the straw poll were delayed.... by voting-machine issues!
  • The saddest part of the aftermath of the straw poll: Tommy Thompson is out of the race. (Sarcastic sobbing)
  • Rudy Giuliani's daughter seems to be supporting Barack Obama - and, as it turns out, so are a number of Iowa Republicans.
  • Anyone for a Keyes Presidency? (This is the guy who got annihilated in the 2004 Illinois US Senate race by some guy named Barack Obama.)
  • Have Oklahomans had "Inhofe" of one of their US Senators? What about Texans? Idahoans? (More on US Senate races soon.) I guess we'll find out in 450 days; it probably won't be quite that long until Kentucky gets a new Governor.
  • "No one has worked harder on" emergency communications issues than Debbie Stabenow, says Harry Reid.
  • West Michigan is receiving just shy of $350,000 for anti-gang programs, while Detroit will see a similar amount for crime control and prevention.

8/12/2007

GR Press: Anti-war campaign in town to work on Ehlers

Here's The Grand Rapids Press with more:

They have been in town several weeks now, organizing meetings, attending demonstrations, handing out lawn signs, and writing letters, all aimed at changing one man's mind.

"The only person around here who can do anything about this is Vern Ehlers," said Bryan Finken, 46, a part-time philosophy professor from Denver, about the war in Iraq.

...

Their effort is part of a national campaign by a coalition of anti-war groups called Americans Against Escalation in Iraq. The effort is targeting 40 Republican members of Congress they believe may be wavering in their support for the war.

Those 40, if they change their minds, would give the war's opponents a veto-proof majority in Congress, organizers said. They call their campaign Iraq Summer, modeled after the 1964 Freedom Summer, which registered black voters in the South, and the summer of 1967 protests against the Vietnam War.
West Michigan - and America - is speaking; is Vern Ehlers listening?

8/11/2007

Saturday Coffee Talk/Open Thread for Michigan Liberal

Happy weekend everyone!

National:

  • WMU Dems: The Draft? Gen. Douglas Lute says the option of the draft is on the table.
  • MDP: Walberg Brings Controversial House Republican leader for Fundraiser. Since when do 'Walberg' and 'controversial' fit in the same sentence?
  • GR Press: Anti-war campaign in town to work on Ehlers. They're trying to get Rep. Vern Ehlers to vote against Iraq War spending.


State:

  • Blogging For Michigan: And here come the editorial pages... Well Senator Bishop, now do you wish you had blocked BFM?
  • Blogging for Michigan: Sen. Hunter to Senate Republicans: Support must come soon. Here's the latest in Senate Democrats' articles on the issues Michigan faces that Senate Republicans are ignoring.
  • Houghton Mining Journal: Governor declares state of emergency with fire. Let's hope this doesn't get too much worse.
  • Senate Dems: Renewable and Alternative Fuels -- Not just the right thing, but the SMART thing. And the economically sound thing.
  • AP: Appeals Court judge worries Supreme Court may be seen as partisan. Really? This Michigan Supreme Court? Riiiiight.
  • GR Press: State wants your help in creating 2008 map. MDOT officials want your input on what should and shouldn’t be included in the 2008 map.


Local:

  • Kalamazoo Gazette: Sturgis rebuffs English-only petition. War? Messed-up economy? Environmental policies out of whack? Fuhgeddaboudit, we have a more pressing concern: People not speaking English! Oh please.
  • Adrian Daily Telegram: Solar, wind, and biomass energy proposed for county buildings. They say it should pay for itself within a few years - monetarily and environmentally.


Others:

  • Stone Soup Musings: It’s time to redefine compassion. What hath 'compassionate' conservatism wrought? Kathy quotes a list from Mother Jones.


So what's on your radar this weekend?

8/10/2007

The WeekEnder: August 10-12, 2007

We are 81,000 hours away from Election Night 2016, so it must be time for Issue #7 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.

  • Making America more competitive
  • Weapons not accounted for
  • Is it really a crime to steal that?
  • Lieberman's inevitability
  • The #1 guide to electoral politics
  • Raindrops
  • Obama clears things up - and then some
  • Use your talents
  • Bush is no Treasury bond
  • Good for Barry


Bush signs America COMPETES Act

Another accomplishment of the Democratic Congress:



"Today, the President signed into law the America COMPETES Act – yet another American priority put forward by the Democratic-led Congress that has taken our country in a New Direction after years of stalled progress in Washington. In the past few weeks, the President agreed to finally implement the independent 9/11 Commission recommendations – signing into law the first bill we voted on in the House, helping us make America safer – and the first federal minimum wage increase in a decade took effect, giving millions an overdue pay raise.

"Nearly two years ago, House Democrats launched our bipartisan Innovation Agenda. It helps guarantee our national security and economic prosperity, expands markets for American products, reasserts our leadership throughout the world in the decades to come, and gives future generations greater opportunity to achieve the American Dream. The America COMPETES Act fulfills much of the Democrats’ Innovation Agenda.

"By focusing and investing in four key areas – math and science education, research and development, energy independence, and small businesses – the America COMPETES Act will launch new thriving industries that will produce millions of good jobs here at home and a better future for the next generation."

Pentagon loses track of weapons
Proof that you can't trust Republicans with money or weapons:

The Pentagon has lost track of about 190,000 AK-47 assault rifles and pistols given to Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005, according to a new government report, raising fears that some of those weapons have fallen into the hands of insurgents fighting U.S. forces in Iraq.

The report from the Government Accountability Office indicates that U.S. military officials do not know what happened to 30 percent of the weapons the United States distributed to Iraqi forces from 2004 through early this year as part of an effort to train and equip the troops. The highest previous estimate of unaccounted-for weapons was 14,000, in a report issued last year by the inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.


Man accused of stealing urine samples

Urine good hands:

A man confessed to breaking into a Porter County probation office and stealing two urine samples, including his own, police said.

...

"He'd been in a few hours before and gave a urine sample," Balon said. "He saw they were testing for a drug he didn't think they were testing for. He panicked."

...

Chief Probation Officer Neal Hannon said he had never seen such a theft in his 37 years on the job.

"Generally, people don't have a desire to retrieve their own urine," he said.


Really?

Blog highlight of the week: Lieberman's Commanding Lead
Polling at this stage in the election cycle is very unreliable. A user at Daily Kos looks back at a 2003 poll and notes:

The Iowa Caucus may be five months away, but Joe Lieberman is walking away with the Democratic nomination. According to a national, August CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll:

August 2003, Likely Democratic Voters:
Howard Dean: 12
Wesley Clark: 2
Joe Lieberman: 23
John Kerry: 10
Dick Gephardt: 13
John Edwards: 5


With a lead like this in a national poll, what could possibly stop Lieberman? In fact, nearly every national poll shows Lieberman as the inevitable nominee.


Link of the week: Politics1
Have you ever wondered who, exactly, is running for Congress or Governor where you live? Politics1 has complete lists of everyone who holds and is running for office in the next election cycle. Owner Ron Gunzberger also provides a rundown of electoral news on the home page.

Photo of the Week: Raindrops



Video of the Week: Obama v. Dodd v. Hillary
This is the second-biggest highlight of the AFL-CIO Debate, next to Steve Skvara asking how the candidates intend to fix what's wrong with America:



Quote of the week: Henry Van Dyke
Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.

Government bonds vs. Bush
What's the difference between George W. Bush and government bonds?

Government bonds mature.

Final thought
I watched Barry Bonds hit #756 on Tuesday night. Let me just say this about the whole Bonds/steroids issue: He's innocent until proven guilty - if not in the court public opinion, than at least in my own opinion.

One year ago today

Let's look down Memory Lane:

Welcome to my newly created blog! Here you'll find my thoughts on politics, life at Central Michigan University (where I am a sophomore), the Tigers, and more.

A little about me:

I live in Kentwood, MI, with my parents, two dogs, and bird.

The Communications Director for the College Democrats at CMU, I recently became a card-carrying student member of both the Michigan Democratic Party and the Kent County Democratic Party. I have written letters that have appeared in Central Michigan Life and The Grand Rapids Press. I just became a precinct delegate in Kentwood. During this election season I hope to help with not only College Democrats, but also the Kent County Coordinated Campaign, David LaGrand for State Senate, and the Isabella County Democratic Party. I hope to someday serve as an elected official other than precincct delegate.

While not studying for my major in Political Science and minor in Accounting, I work at the Carey Residential Restaurant. I am also a senator in SGA, secretary of Kulhavi Hall Council, student member of an Academic Senate General Education Subcommittee, and member of ReachOut at St. Mary's University Parish.

I am a Catholic, and am not afraid to profess my love for God and the teachings of Christ. I hhave been involved with St. Mary's Church in Grand Rapids, and with St. Mary's University Parish in Mount Pleasant. I've also been active with the Knights of Columbus Council 4362, where my dad is a past grand knight.

Feel free to say hi anytime!

So began an adventure of sorts for me. Little would I realize that a year later, I would own another blog and post on many others, or that this blog would garner so much attention (i.e. MichLib's Coffee Talk). What started out as an impromptu little corner of the Web where I could share random thoughts about politics, school, and life has grown into, well, much more than that. A year ago I wouldn't have imagined that I would be posting here several times a week, or that as a blogger, I would be part of a trend that is re-shaping American politics, helping to bring the system back to We the People.

It has also been quite an active year in the world of politics as well! Among other things I have used this blog to:

Where do I see myself and this blog one year from now? It's hard to tell. We will be in the final hundred days of the 2008 election season (unless 2000 repeats itself). I will have just been re-elected Precinct Delegate, and I just might be getting ready for a trip to Denver. Much of the rest is still a mystery, but this next year promises to be very interesting.

An update: I'm now a junior at CMU. I am no longer in Student Government (but I may return) and have stepped down from the A-Senate Subcommittee and from Hall Council. I an no longer Communications Director, but am now Blogmaster of the College Dems. Other than that, I am still involved with the Party, of course - perhaps even more so now than a year ago!

8/08/2007

BREAKING: Urbanowski to run for re-election as Precinct Delegate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Swifty Urbanowski, Director, Canines for Urbanowski, (616) 555-WALK

KENTWOOD - Michigan Democratic Party member, Kent County Democratic Party member, Isabella County Democratic Party member, five-time voter, owner of the Eye on Ehlers and Great Lakes, Great Times, Great Scott blogs, contributor to the Michigan Liberal, Daily Kos, Street Prophets, Swing State Project, Blue Chips, and ICDP Dispatch blogs, author of numerous letters to the editor, LaGrand for City Commission volunteer, Central Michigan University junior, former CMU Student Government Association Senator, former CMU College Democrats Communications Director, 2005 East Kentwood High School alumnus, 2004 EKHS Quiz Bowl MVP, alumnus of the EKHS Marching and Jazz Bands and American Political Thought team, late-night TV addict, game-show fan, Wait, Wait... Don’t Tell Me! listener, and all-around funny and arguably mildly attractive guy Scott Urbanowski announced Wednesday that he would seek re-election as a Democratic Precinct Delegate for Ward 1, Precinct 3, City of Kentwood, County of Kent, State of Michigan, United States of America, Western Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere, Planet Earth, Milky Way Galaxy, in the August 5, 2008, primary election.

Urbanowski made the decision on the first anniversary of his election as Precinct Delegate, one day after voting in Tuesday’s primary election.

"People are hungry for change at all levels," said Urbanowski. "For proof of this, one need look not only at the fact that Democrats not only won control of both houses of Congress and the Michigan House, but also the two seats Democrats picked up on the Kent County Commission."

"West Michigan is a Republican stronghold, but Democrats are making gains here," noted Urbanowski, who serves a precinct in which Governor Jennifer Granholm received 44% of the vote in 2006, just four years after receiving 38% in her first election for Governor and two years after John Kerry received 39% in his bid for the White House.

"When it comes down to it, the saying ‘all politics is local’ is true," said Urbanowski. "Helping not only our Presidential ticket, but all Democrats up and down the ballot - from Congress to county office - will be my top priority in my second term."

Urbanowski first filed to become a precinct delegate at 2:45 PM on May 16, 2006, just 75 minutes before the filing deadline. He was one of three Democrats elected Precinct Delegate for his precinct in the August 8, 2006, election.

The same week he filed to become a precinct delegate, Urbanowski also became a member of the Michigan Democratic Party; those two events culminated a three-month period in which, among other things, Urbanowski voted for the first time, was elected to CMU’s Student Government Senate, and was elected Communications Director of CMU’s College Democrats.

He has since become active in the Democratic Party in other ways. He volunteered with the ICDP and KCDP in last year's election campaign. He has been active with the MDP Youth Caucus and has also been a proponent of the Michigan Blue Tiger Democrats.

Election Redux

First the bad news: Grand Rapids Community College's second attempt at a millage failed by 361 votes.

As the numbers started rolling in, I figured that it would be likely be another nailbiter; around 10:00, most of the precincts outside of Grand Rapids had reported, and I figured that the 6,000-vote margin would close when Grand Rapids came in with its numbers. Well, it did.... but not enough.

So is the GRCC millage hike just not meant to be? For now, it seems, yes. It would be nonsense for GRCC to come back a third time in November, and every indication from GRCC President Juan Olivarez's brief interview with 24 Hour News 8 is that it won't come back in the near future. But he didn't rule it out for later on. (Prediction: Look for it next May.)

Now for some better news: Congratulations to Mayor George Heartwell on his re-election. I don't know if I would have voted for him; he hasn't been perfect. But I wish him well.

I also congratulate Walt Gutowski on his election to the Grand Rapids City Commission and wish him well; I can't say I expected him (or anyone) to get 50% or more in that race! If circumstances permit, I will likely volunteer once again for David LaGrand's campaign in the fall; look for a nailbiter between him and Ruth Kelly.

Complete Kent County results can be found here.

I willl also be pulling for Dayne Walling for Mayor of Flint. Don Williamson is, let's just put it this way, a conservative. We'll see if Williamson's getting less than a third of the vote as the incumbent is a sign of weakness on his part.

8/06/2007

Election Eve thoughts

Mayor of Grand Rapids:
A poll published in the Grand Rapids Press had Heartwell at 44%, Tormala at 25%, GRPS Board Member/2006 Congressional nominee Jim Rinck at 8%, and Jackie Miller at 2%, with 20% undecided and 1% refusing to answer. If we are to believe this poll, Heartwell has less than half the vote, which would force a runoff with Tormala. HOWEVER, Heartwell has more than half of the vote (about 55% or so) amongst people who have settled on a candidate.

Two common rules of thumb are that (a) the incumbent usually has an advantage and (b) undecideds often end up breaking 2-1 for the challenger(s). In that case, if Heartwell attracts 1/3 of the undecided vote, that would give him roughly 51% - just barely enough to win outright. But again, this was just one poll; had other polls been taken, perhaps this would be seen as an outlier.

Grand Rapids City Commission:
On the GR City Commission, three candidates are vying for the right to replace likely 2008 State House candidate Roy Schmidt in the First Ward. They are businessmen Walt Guutowski and Ed Kettle, and former County Commissioner and 2006 Drain Commissioner candidate Tom Postmus (R). Meanwhile, four candidates are seeking to succeed Tormala in Ward 2: Michael Booker (more here!), community actiuvist Ruth Kelly, former County Commissioner Dan Koorndyk (R), and businessman/2006 State Senate candidate David LaGrand (for whom I did a literature drop over the weekend).

Grand Rapids Commnity College:
The Grand Rapids Community College millage is the only thing on the ballot in Kentwood this election. It failed by just a few hundred votes in May. This time it has a couple more things going for it, among them a lower request - .49 mills vs. .56 mills requested in May - just might catch a few more voters who were a bit squeamish about supporting the first millage but would support a slightly smaller increase.

Moreover, expect higher turnout in Grand Rapids and lower turnout elsewhere in the county. Unlike most of the rest of Kent County, Grand Rapids voters did not have a school board election to in May; this likely contributed to lower turnout in GR, a city where a majority of voters supported the GRCC millage. This time around, however, turnout will likely be higher in GR, with multiple races on the ballot, while few communities outside GR will have primaries for offices this Tuesday. That said, I’m going to hedge my bets and say that it will only pass by a narrow margin.

Letters to the Editor
I did an informal survey of Letters to the Editor over the past couple of weeks tallying how many such letters supported each candidate. The unofficial results:

Mayor:
Tormala: 17
Heartwell: 5

Ward 1:
Gutowski: 7
Kettle: 6
Postmus: 3

Ward 2:
LaGrand: 14
Kelly: 9
Koorndyk: 4
Booker: 1

GRCC Millage:
Yes: 15
No: 9

Predictions:
Heartwell 48%, Tormala 38%, Rinck 11%, Miller 3%.
Gutowski 38%, Kettle 34%, Postmus 28%.
Kelly 39%, LaGrand 37%, Koorndyk 19%, Booker 5%.
GRCC millage: 53% Yes.
Turnout: 20.4% in Grand Rapids, 7.6% in Kentwood, 13.4% through Kent County.

Happy voting!

PS: Warren has six candidates for Mayor, five for City Treasurer, four for City Clerk, and 42 individuals seeking nine City Council seats!

8/04/2007

Saturday Coffee Talk/Open Thread for Michigan Liberal

Just three days from now, voters like me (and you?) will be partaking in primary elections. I, for one, will be doing a lit drop today.

Meanwhile:

Congress:

  • AP: Senate passes Bush terorism spy bill. Sometimes in life, it is best for one to bite one's tongue. I will do so in this case, except to say that thankfully, Carl and Debbie voted no.
  • Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood: Who does Mike Rogers Really Work For: Part XXVIII. How much does it cost to be a Congressman these days? Click to find out!
  • Vote No on Joe: The New "Ask Joe" Feature. You folks in the Ninth can have fun with this - but you only have seventeen months to use it!!
State budget:


  • Monroe News: Senate moves to create efficiency panel. Let me do some of the panel’s work for them: State lawmakers ‘earn’ some $80,000 per year. It would've been considerably lower if not for Republican Dan DeGrow deciding not to let the Senate vote down a massive pay hike in 2001. How about slashing lawmaker pay?
  • WKAR: House chair claims progress on cost-cutting. According to Rep. George Cushingberry (D), $300 million has been cut. "He says that is being ignored in the debate over tax increases."
Odds and ends:


  • Detroit News: Ron Gettelfinger (UAW): Union auto plants beat competitors. Read this gem and arm yourself with talking points to use when you run into someone whoo isn't all that pro-union.
  • Mount Pleasant Morning Sun: Great Lakes aren’t priority for Bush. Given the Administration's committment to the environment, aren't you just shocked? {/sarcasm}
  • Blue Chips: Dodd-1, O'Reilly-0. Watch Billo get pwned.
Oh, and one more thing:


  • AP: Blogs make their political mark. Heck yeah we are!

So how's life in your corner of the state?

8/03/2007

The WeekEnder: August 3-5, 2007

We're just four days away from the primaries here in Michigan - and it's time for the sixth installment 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.

  • Freshman senators seek to check use of private contractors in Iraq
  • Senate leader supports censorship of opposition blog
  • A different kind of communion
  • Are the Tigers being cursed?
  • The premier progressive blog
  • I Scream for Howard Dean
  • Can this kid play soccer!
  • LuberalLucy's words of warning
  • How would they respond?
  • For Freedom?

Senate's Freshman Democrats seek to curb private contracting

Don't tell me that freshmen don't get it:

The Senate’s nine freshman Democrats announced a new effort Wednesday to rein in the use of private contractors to rebuild Iraq and to do an array of war-related jobs normally assigned to the military, The Virginian-Pilot reported Thursday.

According to the report, the group will ask Congress to create a "Commission on Wartime Contracting" that would assign auditors already employed by the federal government to ferret out waste and mismanagement in the more than $300 billion Iraq reconstruction effort.

A special inspector general on Iraq reconstruction reported two years ago that $9 billion of $32 billion spent by the State Department on Iraq reconstruction “could not be accounted for,” Jim Webb, D-Va., is reported as saying. “I think we all deserve better than that.”

The panel also would explore legal questions surrounding the use of contractors to do such jobs as interrogate prisoners and provide security for top U.S. generals, Webb is reported as saying.
State Senate GOP leader blocks Blogging for Michigan
What is Mike Bishop afraid of?

Apparently bankrupting the state isn't all Michigan State Senate Republican Leader Mike Bishop wants to do. This time he's gone after one of Michigan's best lefty blogs, Blogging for Michigan.

After a post went up today on BFM about the wrong-doings one of Bishop's cronies, out-of-touch Senator Bruce Patterson (R-Canton), Mike Bishop's Chief of Staff Matt Miner, called Secretary of the Senate Carol Viventi and instructed her to block access to all blogs from the Senate offices.

Pastor serves marijuana as communion
Can we get the Pope to bring this to Catholicism?

The mail-order minister of a Hollywood church that burns marijuana during services and allegedly sells it to members says that’s protected under federal law because the drug is a religious sacrament.

But Judge Mary Strobel has ruled that the Reverend Craig X. Rubin can’t use federal law as a defense because he faces only state charges.

Rubin, who’s representing himself at his drug trial, says members of his Temple 420 believe that marijuana is the tree of life mentioned in the Bible.

Blog highlight of the week: The Decider Curse?
Last year Michigan gubernatorail candidate Dick "Amway Guy" DeVos cursed the Detroit Tigers. Now is his pal Dubya Bush doing the same?

The Red Sox had the Curse of Bambino it took them 86 years to shake that. The Cubs still have the Curse of the Billy Goat that has been running since 1908. Now we have the curse of the "Decider." After the 2007 Allstar break President Bush once again proved he could F*ck a junkyard. He took one the hottest team's in baseball heading into the break and turned them into the Bad News Bears. The "Decider" must have realized he cannot do anything right and new picking our Tigers to win the World Series would of course send them into a spiraling trend crushing the hearts, of all those, Union loving, Clean air appreciating, Blue Staters in Michigan.

Lets just hope he manages this Curse like he manages the Department of Justice. If that is the case I think Jim Leyland can overcome this.

Link of the week: Daily Kos
What can I say for Daily Kos? In five years the site has grown into being the premier blog for the Left. A community of over 100,000 persons, Daily Kos (AKA Kos or dKos) is one of my favorite blogs, if not my favorite, besides my own (of course). In addition to several stories and open threads, some of my favorite Kos features include (but are not limited to) Diary Rescue, Presidential Straw Polls, Cheers and Jeers, Teacher's Lounge, Forgotten Founding Fathers, and many, many more.

Many Kossacks are currently in Chicago as part of YearlyKos2007; Presidential candidates, Howard Dean, and many othes are speaking at YearkyKos.

Photo of the Week: Dean at YearlyKos
And speaking of which, this appeared on Kos's front page:




Video of the Week: Soccer Prodigy
Related story here.



Quote of the week: LiberalLucy (a.k.a. Julielyn Gibbons
"Hell hath no fury as a lefty blogger scorned."

Joke of the Week: How would Hillary and Barack react?
(Hat tip: JustWinBaby at Daily Kos)

Both Obama and Clinton were asked what they would do first if a major US highway bridge collapsed while they were President.

Obama said he would make sure first responders had everything they need.

Clinton said the first thing she would do is retaliate.

Final thought
The so-called "Young Americans for Freedom" may be young, and they may be Americans, but they're not for freedom... at least not freedom of religion.

Bridge collapse redux

What follows is a compilation of articles surrounding Wednesday's collaps of a highway bridge in Minnesota.

Officials were warned about the bridge's vulnerability:

Minnesota officials were warned as early as 1990 that the bridge that collapsed into the Mississippi River was "structurally deficient," yet they relied on a strategy of patchwork fixes and stepped-up inspections.

"We thought we had done all we could," state bridge engineer Dan Dorgan told reporters not far from the mangled remains of the span. "Obviously something went terribly wrong."

Questions about the cause of the collapse and whether it could have been prevented arose Thursday as authorities shifted from rescue efforts to a grim recovery operation, searching for bodies that may be hidden beneath the river's swirling currents.
...and Nick Coleman of the Minnepolis Star-Tribune is not happy about how little was done to fix the problem:

The death bridge was "structurally deficient," we now learn, and had a rating of just 50 percent, the threshold for replacement. But no one appears to have erred on the side of public safety. The errors were all the other way.

Would you drive your kids or let your spouse drive over a bridge that had a sign saying, "CAUTION: Fifty-Percent Bridge Ahead"?

No, you wouldn't. But there wasn't any warning on the Half Chance Bridge. There was nothing that told you that you might be sitting in your over-heated car, bumper to bumper, on a hot summer day, thinking of dinner with your wife or of going to see the Twins game or taking your kids for a walk to Dairy Queen later when, in a rumble and a roar, the world you knew would pancake into the river.
One Daily Kos member suggests that Republicans move next year's Republican Convention out of St. Paul:

And we have a collapsed bridge in Minneapolis, symbolic of the years of neglect in infrastructure spending. What a horrific reminder on the necessity of government spending, awfully staring the party of small government in the face.

My suggestion to Republicans: find a new convention site. Now.
The author then proceeds to suggest a few cities, starting with - you guessed it - New Orleans.

Because your only selling point is this:

We'll do for your town what we did for New Orleans.
And if you thought that bridge in Minneapolis was the only deficient one:

More than 70,000 bridges across the country are rated structurally deficient like the span that collapsed in Minneapolis, and engineers estimate repairing them all would take at least a generation and cost more than $188 billion.

That works out to at least $9.4 billion a year over 20 years, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. The bridges carry an average of more than 300 million vehicles a day.

It is unclear how many of the spans pose actual safety risks. Federal officials alerted the states late Thursday to immediately inspect all bridges similar to the Mississippi River span that collapsed.

In a separate cost estimate, the Federal Highway Administration has said addressing the backlog of needed bridge repairs would take at least $55 billion. That was five years ago, with expectations of more deficiencies to come.
People are sad about the loss of life, angry that more wasn't done, and fearful about where this could happen next. Whatever your thoughts on this tragedy, Let us keep the victims and their families in our thoughts and prayers - particularly those who are still missing.

8/02/2007

You Are Cordially Invited

You are cordially invited
To help determine the future of your community


Who: The voters of Michigan who were registered to vote by July 9

What: Primary elections for Mayor and City Councils, as well as millage questions.

These primaries are non-partisan. In a partisan primary, voters narrow down the number of candidates to one candidate per party. Nonpartisan primaries only occur when three or more candidates are running for one seat. In a nonpartisan primary, if one candidate receives 50% of the vote, that candidate is declared the outright winner; otherwise, the top two candidates advance to the November election (which is called the general election or runoff).

When: Next Tuesday, August 7. Polls are open from 7AM to 8PM.

Where: Communities across Michigan. Click here to see if yours is among them.

Why: City officials make important decisions. Funding for police and fire departments, as well as parks, usually comes from city and township governments. Decisions made by local governments often have an even bigger impact on our day-to-day lives than those made by federal or state government.

What's more, your vote has a greater impact. Voter turnout in city elections is far lower than it is in, say, Presidential or gubernatorial elections.

Not convinced? Many future political leaders are running. Today's City Councilperson or Mayor is tomorrow's state lawmaker. My Republican State Senator, Bill Hardiman, was mayor of my hometown of Kentwood for many years. State Senate Democratic Leader Mark Schauer was a Battle Creek City Commissioner, while Senators Martha Scott, Liz Brater, Glenn Anderson, and many others have served on City Councils.

Please RSVP by August 7, 2007 at 8 O'Clock P.M.

Note: Some cities, such as Kentwood and Grand Rapids, call their city councils 'city commissions.' Though the names are different, they essentially serve the same purpose. For simplicity's sake, I have decided to use the term 'city council' throughout this post.

Michigan's Ninth Congressional District Race: An Outsider's Thoughts

The following is my reply to a post on Michigan Liberal about the 9th District Congressional race. In it I address a number of fallacies that I saw in the post, in replies thereto, and in campaigns and politics in general, so I decided to repost it here.

(I live in the Fighting Third - a district, which, if we win it next year, I'll eat my computer. But getting back to the point.)

There are positives and negatives with both Peters and Skinner - as there are with any candidate, politician, etc. It's called 'being human.'

Nazgul35 said that he doesn't buy the 'electability' argument anymore - and neither do I; I feel that often (not always!) that argument is used to scare people into not voting for a candidate. I'm not implying that it's being used as such here; but people do need to beware of how that argument is used.

I also disagree with the idea that we must not nominate Skinner just because ‘she’s had her chance.’ Richard Nixon ‘had his chance’ in 1960, he lost, but in 1968 he got another chance - and won. In 2002, Congressman John Thune (R-SD) lost a US Senate bid in a very red state in a Republican year. Two years later he got another chance - and defeated Tom Daschle.

Furthermore, I strongly disagree with the suggestion that Skinner shouldn’t run for Congress just because she underperformed the base. For one, it’s one thing to say she shouldn’t get the nomination for that reason; it’s another thing to say she shouldn’t run just because of that. People should have a choice.

What’s more, voters in 2002 were probably more familiar with Peters than Cox, and thus voted accordingly, in a year which saw no big-name Democrats run for any of the statewide board races. 2006 saw Debbie Dingell, wife of a Congressman (surely that name is familiar to many in the Detroit area, whether or not they live in his district), run for WSU Governor while Rochester Hills’s own Casandra Ulbrich kicked behind in the Board of Education race.

Moreover, was Skinner well-known in 2006? No. Peters in 2002? He was a State Senator. Skinner will surely be more well-known in 2008 (if she is the nominee) than she was in 2006. Why? For one, she has more name recognition. Two, the DCCC has already said that they will get involved with this race helping out our nominee, whether it be her or Peters.

Which brings me to my next point. Skinner did quite well despite having about as much support from the DNC and DCCC as Granholm has had from Nolan Finley. We will have support from them in 2008, so money will be less of a factor. In the past, I’m sure some Democrats and independents have voted for Knollenberg simply because they liked him - or they didn’t see the need to turn an incumbent out of office. (Ehlers and Camp benefit from that same "oh, but we like him, why get rid of him?’ attitude.) Yet people are learning the truth about Knollenberg - and will learn more as the campaign gets into gear.

In the strongest of terms, I urge those of you in the Ninth District to support the candidate whom you think would do the best job in Congress. To support someone based on any lesser reason rather than that would be cheating not only Oakland County, but America. (And yes, that does mean I think Americans are being cheated - a lot.) While I don’t know much about either Peters or Skinner, we surely all agree that either would make a fine Member of Congress - certainly better than Joe Knollenberg.

8/01/2007

Bits of Tid: August 1, 2007

Happy New Month - it is August 2007!!! "Should Al Gonzales be forgot..."

  • Is impeachment in the near future for Gonzales?
  • Oh, but don't feel lonely, Gonzo. Senator Ted "It's a Series of Tubes" Stevens is also in trouble.
  • Bill Bradley:
    "Racial profiling seeps so deeply in our society that a wallet in the hand of a white man looks like a wallet, and the wallet in the hand of a black man looks like a gun."
    Hat tip: My Left Wing
  • First Dick DeVos cursed the Tigers - now is Dubya doing the same?
  • A man in Wisconsin won an award for bad writing:

    Gerald began — but was interrupted by a piercing whistle which cost him ten percent of his hearing permanently, as it did everyone else in a ten-mile radius of the eruption, not that it mattered much because for them 'permanently' meant the next ten minutes or so until buried by searing lava or suffocated by choking ash — to pee.
    Of the contest, the article states that
    Entrants are asked to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels.

  • Heck, I think I just might submit something for that award. Or maybe I should just stick to Lake Superior State's Banished Words List.
  • Speaking of which - my latest pick for banishment:
    Having your work cut out for you - On the surface, it sounds like someone’s done something nice for you: "Hey, I cut out your work just for you." Uh, not exactly.

    A mention of the LSSU list on Daily Kos provoked a lot of responses.