Michigan's energy future is in the crosshairs. Our state is threatened with an onslaught of at least seven more dirty coal-fired power plants that will keep Michigan locked in the energy dark ages, dependent on imported fossil fuels and producing more dangerous global warming pollution. More outdated dirty coal plants will hamper the development of clean energy and the good paying jobs that come with it.Governor Granholm has been working tirelessly bring renewable energy to the state, which will help improve the health of both our environment and our economy. Increasing coal production will hurt our environment without offering much promise for many more new jobs. So be sure to visit NoCoalRush.com and let your lawmakers know that you support our environment and our economy and oppose the building of coal-fired power plants in Michigan.
But the Legislature can stop this from happening NOW by passing a NO NEW COAL PLANT policy until Michigan has a strong Clean Energy Plan that would:
Enact a strong renewable energy standard that requires energy providers to generate 20 percent of their electric power from renewable sources by 2020. Enact strong statewide utility funded energy efficiency programs that result in at least 1% energy savings per year. Protect consumers from having to absorb the skyrocketing future costs of coal burning. Implement a long term energy plan that guarantees energy efficiency and renewable power are used before any more outdated coal plants are built. Develop new standards for controlling the emissions of CO2.
And while you're at it, visit SmallStepBigChange.com and take the pledge to do your part.
(It gets hilarious about 35 seconds from the end as the ref announces the penalty.)
Here's a funny one starring Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings:
And speaking of Jeopardy!, well of course, Sean Connery!
When's the last time you heard someone say, "Every ___ seconds someone is diagnosed with cancer," or "Every ___ seconds someone dies of ___ disease"?
The World Clock is an eye-opening website that estimates several vital statistics, including the earth's temperature, population, incidences of disease, and more. Open the website, and you will see constantly updated stats for many categories for this year. Clicking each of the buttons at the top will give you data pertaining to this month, this week, and today.
- The earth's temperature rises by one billionth of a degree every three seconds.
- One thousand barrels of oil are pumped every second.
- We lose a hectare of forest about every 2.5 seconds.
- More than fifty species have become extinct today alone.
- The world's population has grown by more than five million this week - nearly the population of Colorado.
- Well, here we are, the day after Thanksgiving, and we just lit our Christmas tree for the first time this season. We'll probably add some lights and ornaments before I go back to CMU this Sunday - and I may just post a few photos..........
- Let me repost here a comment that I first posted on this Daily Kos bit:
If Dems want to win the center...
...then they need only appeal to the base. I think most people who consider themselves moderate or centrist would find a progressive platform quite attractive (for lack of better words).
If a guy like me can become a progressive Democrat, then so can others.
- Two items of note for those concerned about the transgendered: First, Governor Granholm has added gender identity to a non-discrimination policy for state employees. Second, next week at CMU is Transgender Awareness Week.
- Congressional Democrats want to include a requirement in the war funding bill that most US troops leave Iraq by a little over a year from now. They are backed by one Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez (ret.), who himself was a commander in Iraq.
- Would an uptick in violence result if US troops left Iraq? Well, Basra has seen a 90% drop in attacks since British troops left the region, so decide for yourself.
- Shh, let's try to keep this on the 'down-low' from the Republicans (I like to surprise them): Indiana just might be a swing state next year. So what? you might ask. Well, not only does the Hoosier State have 11 electoral votes, but Lyndon Johnson was the last Democrat to carry Indiana. (If you didn't know, outside of the Southeast, LBJ won every state not named Arizona.)
- Just a few weeks remain until Lake Superior State University releases its 2008 Banished Words List! Here's my latest entry:
War on Christmas - Does this mean we can expect Santa Claus to ride in on a Bradley fighting vehicle and deliver cluster bombs to all the little girls and boys?
- Just a reminder about Blogging for Michigan's Troop Care program - it ends Sunday!
- And don't forget Michigan Liberal's daily feature, Coffee Talk. Remember that I am in charge of Coffee Talk most Sundays.
I am thankful for my family. Which is ironic, because I only have one brother, I don’t have many aunts, uncles, or cousins (not nearly as many as Dad), one of my grandpas died before I was born (as did all of my great-grandparents), and I only have one surviving grandparent (I’m 20). Still, I know that some have never met their families, while others are in very tumultuous family situations.
I am thankful for my health. Which is ironic, because as I write this, I have a sore throat, cold, and fever. Still, I don’t have cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer’s, or any other life-threatening condition. What’s more, I am pretty able-bodied. Not everyone can say that.
I am thankful for my financial well-being. Which is ironic, because I’m nowhere near wealthy. I mean, not to reveal anything private, but at least a couple of my former roommates have indicated how much they have, and it’s a lot more than is to my name. Still, not everyone can say they have as much as me.
I am thankful that I have a job. Which is ironic because it’s only a part-time job that pays $7.25 an hour, and it’s only 7 hours per week. Still, I am more fortunate than the nearly 8% of Michiganians on the unemployment rolls. And the many more who are unemployed, but aren’t counted as such. And the many who work more hours and get less in return.
I am thankful for my home. Which is ironic, because it’s no mansion. It has many of the amenities, but no dishwasher, fireplace, or dining room. I live in a suburb (Kentwood, Michigan), but you can’t accuse us of being extravagant. Still, not everyone can even afford an apartment, much less a house. And a vast majority of the world's population lives in substandard housing.
I am thankful for my cell phone, digital camera, DVD player, computer, TV, and other technological gadgets. Which is ironic, since my phone isn’t fancy, my camera doesn’t have very good resolution, my internet connection at home is slo-o-o-o-ow, and I don’t watch as much TV as I used to. Still, so many in this world go without having a single one of these gadgets.
I am thankful that I am a student at Central Michigan University. Which is ironic, given that it’s no Ivy League school. Still, how many people can say they attend an eco-friendly and gay-friendly college? And that's barely the tip of the iceberg.
I am thankful that I am a Democrat. Which is ironic, given its many flaws and my occasional frustrations with certain Democratic leaders. Still, what other party can say it has done so much for America - from the New Deal, to financial aid for college students? Strengthening this party - and returning it to its progressive roots - is by far our best hope for real change in America.
I am thankful for those who have consistently fought for racial minorities, women, the GLBT community, the mentally ill, the disabled, and others. Which is ironic, given that I am an able-bodied, white heterosexual male who is not classified as mentally ill. Still, I realize that the fight for equal justice marches on - and we must join that march if we haven't already.
I am thankful that I live in the United States of America. Which is ironic, given what has happened to this country over the last several years. Yet I know that it is We the People - all 300,000,000 of us - who matter, not merely the extremists in the White House. It’s up to us to show that we truly care about America - not merely through our words, but through our actions - by taking it back and once again making it easier for other countries to look up to us.
I am thankful for all the people who have had a positive impact on my life. Which is ironic, since they are too many to name and I have forgotten many of them. Many I have met in real life, some I have known only through the "series of tubes." But they have impacted me all the same. And yes, I am talking about the Daily Kos community and the overall lefty blogosphere, among many others.
Finally, I am thankful that I am alive. Which is ironic, because I’m only 20, and most people expect to live a lot longer than I have. I am definitely younger than most of the people who read this post. Yet countless millions don’t even get the chance to live to half my age. I hope and pray that I will be inspired and encouraged to use the remainder of my life in a way so that, when I die, my family and friends will be able to truthfully and sincerely eulogize me by saying, "The world is a better place because Scott Urbanowski lived in it."
I am thankful for so many other things that I cannot name, lest this post be a several-hour-long read. Which is ironic, seeing as how I take them for granted so often.
You see, folks, so many of us want so much more than we have. And don't get me wrong, there are many things I want that I don't have. Yet I believe that knowing that we are so fortunate is key to contentment and happiness in life.
So whether or not you plan to spend time with family, eat turkey, see the Lions win, or just enjoy the day off, be sure to pause and remember just how lucky you really are.
I bet you're a lot more fortunate than you realize.
In celebration of the recent override of President Bush's veto of a water projects bill, let's take a look at the presidential vetoes and overrides through the ages.
(NOTE: In case you're wondering why I'm posting this now instead of right after the override: I have been working on this post for a couple weeks now, but I've been somewhat busy.)
The word veto comes from the Latin for 'I forbid.' While not mentioned specifically in the Constitution, it has come to describe the President's right to reject a bill. The president's veto power - and Congress's power to override such vetoes - are two of the most well-known examples of checks and balances in US government.
Only seven US Presidents cast zero vetoes during their Presidencies (and two of those died early in their terms). James Garfield was the last President to not veto a single bill; that may have to do with the fact that he died of an assassin's bullet six months into office.
Thomas Jefferson is the only President never to have cast a single veto in two full terms in office. Bush's first term marked the first time since John Quincy Adams that a President went through a full four-year term without vetoing a single bill.
Only eleven Presidents went through their tenure without a single pocket veto. Pocket vetoes account for 42% of all Presidential vetoes.
By overriding Bush's veto of the water-projects bill, Congress used its override power for the 107th time in history - the first time in ten years (almost to the day). In so doing, it has made Bush the 24th US President to see Congress override at least one of his vetoes.
While five of America's first nine Presidents cast a total of 23 vetoes, none of those vetoes were overridden. Congress first used its power to override a veto on March 3, 1845, the day before President John Tyler left office (Inauguration Day back then was March 4). LBJ was the last President who never saw one of his vetoes overridden.
Here's a complete list of US Presidents, the number of vetoes they cast, and the number of vetoes which were overridden:
Yes, this is from an email. Apparently it's real, and happened in Pennsylvania!!
Dear Mr. DeVries:
It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Qualitythat there has been recent unauthorized activity on the above referenced parcel of property. You have been certified as the legal landowner and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity:
Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond.
A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity.
A review of the Department's files shows that no permits have been issued. Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Pennsylvania Compiled Laws, annotated.
The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially failed during a recent rain event, causing debris and flooding at downstream locations. We find that dams of this nature are inherently hazardous and cannot be permitted. The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free- flow condition by removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the stream channel. All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 2006.
Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so that a follow-up site inspection may be scheduled by our staff.
Failure to comply with this request or any further unauthorized activity on the site may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement action.
We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter. Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any questions.
David L. Price
District Representative and Water Management Division.
Here is the actual response sent back by Mr. DeVries:
Dear Mr. Price,
Your certified letter dated 12/17/02 has been handed to me to respond to. I am the legal landowner but not the Contractor at 2088 Dagget Lane, Trout Run, Pennsylvania.
A couple of beavers are in the (State unauthorized) process of constructing and maintaining two wood "debris" dams across the outlet stream of my Spring Pond. While I did not pay for, authorize, nor supervise their dam project, I think they would be highly offended that you call their skilful use of nature's building materials "debris". I would like to challenge your department to attempt to emulate their dam project any time and/or any place you choose. I believe I can safely state there is no way you could ever match their dam skills, their dam resourcefulness, their dam ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam determination and/or their dam work ethic.
As to your request, I do not think the beavers are aware that they must first fill out a dam permit prior to the start of this type of dam activity.
My first dam question to you is:
(1) Are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers?
(2) Or do you require all beavers throughout this State to conform to said dam request
If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, through the Freedom of Information Act, I request completed copies of all those other applicable beaver dam permits that have been issued. Perhaps we will see if there really is a dam violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Pennsylvania Compiled Laws, annotated.
I have several concerns. My first concern is; aren't the beavers entitled to legal representation? The Spring Pond Beavers are financially destitute and are unable to pay for said representation -- so the State will have to provide them with a dam lawyer. The Department's dam concern that either one or both of the dams failed during a recent rain event, causing flooding, is proof that this is a natural occurrence, which the Department is required to protect. In other words, we should leave the Spring Pond Beavers alone rather than harassing them and calling their dam names.
If you want the stream "restored" to a dam free-flow condition please contact the beavers -- but if you are going to arrest them, they obviously did not pay any attention to your dam letter, they being unable to read English.
In my humble opinion, the Spring Pond Beavers have a right to build their unauthorized dams as long as the sky is blue, the grass is green and water flows downstream. They have more dam rights than I do to live and enjoy Spring Pond. If the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection lives up to its name, it should protect the natural resources (Beavers) and the environment (Beavers' Dams).
So, as far as the beavers and I are concerned, this dam case can be referred for more elevated enforcement action right now. Why wait until 1/31/2006? The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice then and there will be no way for you or your dam staff to contact/harass them then.
In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention to a real environmental quality, health, problem in the area. It is the bears! Bears are actually defecating in our woods. I definitely believe you should be persecuting the defecating bears and leave the beavers alone.
If you are going to investigate the beaver dam, watch your step! The bears are not careful where they dump!
Being unable to comply with your dam request, and being unable to contact you on your dam answering machine, I am sending this response to your dam office.
RYAN DEVRIES & THE DAM BEAVERS
From CM Life:
Central Michigan University Police are questioning students and employees after someone found four hangman nooses hanging inside a classroom.Of course, this is not the first recent incident involving harrasment of certain groups on campus. Let's not forget last spring's anti-gay chalkings, as well as the Columbus Day and anti-Muslim flyers.
A student came across the nooses earlier this week while walking into Room 228 inside the Engineering and Technology Building, said Police Chief Stan Dinius.
The student reported his findings to a staff member, who then forwarded the information on to police at 1:15 p.m. Monday.
"At this time, we have no idea why someone would put them up there," Dinius said. "There are several people who operate in that room. It's an open lab where people can go at any time."
What the hell is going on here? (I don't use language that strong very often.)
Said President Rao in his most recent update to the campus community:
Reported incidents on campus in recent weeks targeting specific groups of people have prompted me to reflect on the apparent decline in respect displayed for certain members of our community.
On at least two occasions this month, written material was distributed on campus expressing improper generalizations about people based on their ethnicity, gender, or religious beliefs. Rather than dignifying the deplorable actions of a small number of individuals, it serves as a reminder to us all to maintain an ongoing open and appropriate dialogue on issues associated with respect, acceptance, and inclusion.
UPDATE: The story has now reached CNN. I must say, I am somewhat queasy about the prospect of this incident giving CMU a bad reputation (in addition to being p1$$ed about the incident itself).
The phrase "Support the Troops" is often used as somewhat of a cliché that isn't usually backed by action. While some like to say they support the troops, not many people actually do anything to back up their words with deeds.
Now, thanks to Blogging for Michigan's Troop Care fund, we have an excellent opportunity to put our words into action. Now through November 25, BFM is taking donations which will be used to help provide material support to Michigan-based troops currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Donations are being accepted online or by mail. They will appreciate any donation, large or small. If you don't feel you can afford to donate, please be sure to spread the word so that more people know about Troop Care.
"Support the Troops" should be more than a phrase - it should be a way of life. Here's your chance to show that you really do care about those who are serving their country in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As someone who has been angered by the disproportionate share of the nominating power held by four states whose combined population just barely exceeds Michigan's, I also know that having a small amount of influence is better than having zero influence.
Michigan is supposed to send 156 delegates to Denver next year. Holding the primary on January 15 will put in doubt the likelihood of Michigan having voting delegates. If we lose our delegates, not only would this deny 156 good Michiganders the chance to represent our state at the largest, most prominent quadrennial gathering of Democrats, it would also impede Michigan's ability to have an impact on the Democratic platform.
Each state gets a certain number of delegates to the Convention's Rules, Credentials, and Platform committees (Michigan will have 6). If we lose our delegates, we will have less of an opportunity to shape our party's platform in a manner that will favor the concerns of our state.
Furthermore, holding the primary on January 15, I believe, will only make Michigan look worse, thus reducing, not increasing, the likelihood that the primary calendar will be changed to benefit Michigan in the future. Who wants to cater to the wishes of a group that has broken the rules - which this primary would do?
Moreover, it makes no sense to me that we in Michigan should have only four candidates from whom to choose, as opposed to eight, as the rest of the country has. The fact that four of the eight candidates for President have said they won't participate in the caucus - and that a fifth one tried to remove his name from the ballot - is reason enough for the Michigan Democratic Party not to partake in the early primary.
But this is a risk we shouldn't be willing to take. The MDP needs to focus on changing the primary calendar in future election cycles.
I urge you to take action by letting the MDP know that you want a February caucus instead of a January 15 primary. Please see this post on Michigan Liberal for more on how you can let the MDP know your thoughts.
- The Employee Non-Discrimination Act was passed in the House! Now on to the Senate!
- Here's a question for you:
What do you love about our state? What do you want to change? What's your best vision for Michigan's future?Have an answer to that? You might want to take part in the Center for Michigan's Envision Michigan competition.
- Part of saving our planet involves changes in government policy; part of it involves making businesses and institutions more eco-friendly (see previous post); still another part will involve personal action by each of us. Are you living a sustainable life? American Public Media's Consumer Consequences game can help you find out.
- Looks like Mike Bishop could be the target of a recall attempt.
- Some serious issues are facing our world, as evidenced by the Latest News section of CNN.com. As of 8PM Saturday, the seventh and eighth stories in that section were "It's a boy for 'View' co-host Hasselbeck" and "Thirsty? Try a refreshing ham soda."
Thank you, CNN, for raising awareness of these very volatile issues we face in America. Not.
- Here's a new phrase I like: Green collar jobs.
- And here's one I don't like: "Get real." Yep, it's my latest submission to Lake Superior State University's Banished Words List. My reasoning?
Do you ever hear people telling you to "get fake" or "get unreal?" I know I haven't.
- I haven't been blogging much. I realize that. I've had a lot on my plate. However, my academic load between now and Thanksgiving is as light as a college junior could expect, so maybe I'll post more. I am working on posts which will include:
- A unique spin on this past week's elections;
- A preview of 2008 Congressional elections;
- An item discussing presidential veto overrides through the years;
- Energy efficiency tips;
- A few more photos from around campus;
- Thoughts on young voters, incl. my ideas on how to actually get more of them voting; and
- Another late-night humor post!
- A unique spin on this past week's elections;
A couple of months ago, I posted about Grand Rapids, MI, Mayor George Heartwell's vision of making Grand Rapids a 100% green-powered city, despite inaction from Washington on the energy crisis. So when I read about my university's efforts to make the school more energy-efficient, my interest was piqued.
As a junior at Central Michigan University, I like to make sure that CMU's administration is not only spending my tuition dollars wisely, but also making this school a socially responsible institution - that is, one that encourages people not only to take action to improve our communities and our world, but one that actually does so itself.
From CMU's online newsroom:
The use of woodchips as a renewable fuel source for steam requirements saves the university up to $2 million annually in fuel costs. An additional $1 million or more, over the course of the four-year contract, will be saved as a result of a university contract with Wolverine Power Marketing Cooperative to purchase electricity.But it's not just the higher-ups at CMU who are doing their part for our environment - students, faculty, and staff are getting in on the act:
Facilities management and residence life also are in the process of modifying nearly 11,000 bathroom fixtures by installing special water conservation aerators and discs in order to reduce water and sewer costs. The new faucet diffusers will reduce water flow from 2.0 gallons per minute to 0.5 g.p.m.
Last year, it was decided that all future new buildings and major renovations would follow the U.S. Green Building Council guidelines. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program provides very specific guidelines that buildings must meet in order to become certified. According to Lawrence, the new education building will be the first on CMU's campus to follow the LEED criteria.
Meanwhile, recycling on-campus has doubled. In June 2007, CMU averaged 38 tons of recycling materials per month, a 19-ton increase from August 2003.CMU: Saving tuition dollars and saving the environment at the same time.
I had the chance to attend the semi-annual Griffin Policy Forum, put on by the Robert and Marjorie Griffin Endowed Chair in American Government at CMU. (One Gary Peters currently holds that chair.)
This fall's Griffin Forum was titled "Now What? Managing the budget crisis while promoting a positive future for Michigan." Their panelists were Andy Dillon, Mike Bishop, Craig DeRoche, and Mark Schauer, with Tim Skubick as moderator. Seeing as how the panel consisted of four titans in Michigan politics, there was no way I was going to pass up the chance to go.
Few points were made by either side that I hadn't heard before then. Schauer discussed the uncertainty of the budget process and how that likely scared off businesses that would have otherwise invested in Michigan. Dillon called out the Repubs for not doing their jobs. DeRoche kept parroting the old GOP talking points: 'Taxes are bad!' 'We need reforms!' 'Why did I go to CMU? Go Broncos!' (Okay, he didn't use that last one.) All in all, not much besides what both sides have been saying for months now.
That said, not many of the hundreds of people in attendance had followed the budget battle as closely as I have, so for them to argue the same points was understandable.
They all agreed that extending the 6% tax on services was not a good idea; they disagreed as to where the new revenue should be replaced. Mike Bishop said he supports increasing the sales tax to 6.5%. Schauer supports retooling the new Michigan Business Tax. I'll have more on Republican tax hypocrisy in an upcoming post.
Tim Skubick seemed to take his job as a journalist seriously. Not that I haven't been unhappy with some of the things he's said and done, but props to him for giving the panelists some tough questions. After DeRoche went on about reforms, Skubick p0wned him by asking, "Where were all the reforms when Engler was governor?" He's also good for a few laughs, though: "Here's the score of the game: Western 3, CMU 102." While discussing a forum on political stability which he moderated: "At the time, we were all in favor of it."
Mark this down: When asked if they would take a pay cut, all four of them said they would. Schauer and I believe one other person said they and some of their colleagues return a portion of their salary to the Treasury. (While you might think this recent proposal offers hope in that regard, this proposal affects future lawmakers, not themselves.)
Another thing to mark down: When asked if they would run for governor, Dillon, DeRoche, and Schauer all said No. Bishop's response? "You never know." Expect more definitive answers on this following next year's Presidential election.
Following the forum, Bill Ballenger, the previous Griffin Endowed Chair, congratulated Peters on a job well done. I second Ballenger's remark. For him to get these heavyweights in Michigan politics under one roof is a rare feat. Peters should be commended for helping to enhance our education at CMU by bringing these titans to Mount Pleasant.
City officials make key decisions that impact our day-to-day lives in a more profound and direct way than do the folks in Washington and Lansing. Funding for police and fire departments, roads, and parks often come from city and township governments.
Because of this, it is important that citizens make their voice heard by participating in community affairs. Perhaps the best way to do this is by voting.
And tomorrow, people in many locales throughout the state and nation will have the opportunity to do that. Voter turnout in city elections is significantly lower than it is in elections for President or Governor - meaning your vote has a greater impact.
Many future political leaders are running in these races. Today's city councilperson or mayor is tomorrow's state lawmaker or member of Congress. My Republican State Senator, Bill Hardiman, was mayor of my hometown of Kentwood for many years. Mark Schauer was a Battle Creek City Commissioner, while Gary Peters served on the Bloomfield Hills City Council. Both would become state Senators, and both are running for Congress in the 2008 election.
So if you get the chance, and you haven't voted by absentee ballot, stop by your hometown and vote tomorrow between 7 AM and 8 PM. To help you out, here's a short list of candidates endorsed by the Michigan Democratic Party Youth Caucus:
- Dayne Walling for Flint Mayor
- Maureen Brosnan for Livonia Mayor
- Nathan Triplett for East Lansing City Council
- Jason Bauer for Auburn Hills City Council
- Kevin Hrit for Troy City Council
- Ryan Hersha for Battle Creek City Commission