Bits of Tid: July 31, 2009

  • Governor Granholm has issued an executive order allowing Michigan to move forward on becoming more energy efficient.
  • Look at the list of President Obama's first Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients! What an amazing list - stretching from Ted Kennedy to Sandra Day O'Connor, Billie Jean King, to Desmond Tutu!
  • Sen. Max Baucus ('D'-MT) has 'no idea' how he'll vote on Sotomayor's nomination next week. No idea because he's not very smart? Or because he's not very progressive? Either way, it tells me that there are other Finance Committee members who are more deserving of the Chairmanship than Baucus. (And yes, I figured out years ago that the Finance Committee does not handle SCOTUS nominations.)
  • Do the Lions want another 0-16 season? It looks like the answer is yes, as evidenced by their signing of a WMU alum to their roster.
  • Tigers' magic number: 60.
  • Here's something neat:


Bits of Tid: July 30, 2009

  • Is Max Baucus's chairmanship in trouble?
  • "In order to save your life, we need to make sure you didn't make a late payment on your mortgage five years ago."
  • Speaking of which, surely I am not the only one who notices the hypocrisy from many who call themselves "pro-life" yet oppose reforming health insurance. 18,000 people die in this country every year because they lack health insurance.
  • Less money for schools = fewer teachers = bigger classes = less individual attention for each student = students not getting the education they deserve = a less talented workforce = companies choosing to create/maintain jobs in certain places instead of others = a weaker economy.
  • Not all Americans are geniuses, but not many are that naive either.
  • KKK says "White Power," clowns respond in ways humiliating to the KKK.


Bits of Tid: July 29, 2009

  • I've noticed that most of those in Congress who are against a government-run plan for all Americans are themselves beneficiaries of a government-run plan.
  • So you have health insurance, and you like it. What good will healthcare reform do for you? Plenty, if the White House gets its way.
  • An Ontario woman who has made news south of the border by lying about Canada's healthcare system is being sued by the Province.
  • Not saying Chuck Todd is my favorite, but here he is discussing Glenn Beck's accusations of Obama being racist:
    What's most amazing about this episode is that what Beck said isn't a fireable or even a SUSPENDABLE offense by his bosses. There was a time when outrageous rants like this would actually cost the ranters their jobs. But not anymore; if anything, it's now encouraged.
  • They can't discuss issues anymore, so they hang effigies.
  • On food stamps? Know someone who is? More and more farmers markets are taking food stamps.
  • The Republican Party is controlled by far-right southerners, complained Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH). Well, David Vitter validated Voinovich, calling the Ohioan "wishy-washy."
  • Speaking of Vitter, let's buy some sex.


Bits of Tid: July 28, 2009


Bits of Tid: July 27, 2009

  • US home sales went up in June. We're not completely out of the woods - not by a long shot - but things may have bottomed out.
  • Pollution does wonders for your IQ. Which is to say, you wonder why your IQ is so low.
  • Speaking of which: Sarah Palin in late-night comedy.
  • Tomorrow the Senate Judiciary Committee votes on Judge Sotomayor's nomination.
  • Are you a hunter? If so, you might be interested in this.
  • Facebook users: Follow the instructions and post this as your status:
    Facebook has agreed to let 3rd party advertisers use your posted pictures without your permission. Click on SETTINGS up at the top next to the log out link. Select PRIVACY. Then select NEWS FEEDS AND WALL. Next select the tab that reads FACE BOOK ADS. There is a drop down box, select NO ONE. Then SAVE your changes. (REPOST to let your friends know!)
  • Five years ago tonight:


Bits of Tid: July 26, 2009

  • The Free Press has a good article on efforts to promote Michigan-made products.
  • Conservative 'fiscal restraint' at its finest.
  • Here's another article from the Free Press, this one on Isle Royale National Park.
  • Could things be looking up for Ford?
  • Want to save some money? Wash your clothes in cold water. In one year, using hot water to wash your clothes wastes enough energy to drive a car 3,600 miles.
  • Want to save some money? Wash your clothes in cold water. In one year, using hot water to wash your clothes wastes enough energy to drive a car 3,600 miles. Cold-water washing is just as effective as warm- or hot-water washing.
  • Starting today, Governor Granholm has less competition in the Hottest Governor contest. Yep, today's the day Sarah Palin steps down. Of course, Palin was no competition for JG in the Smartest Governor category.
  • Speaking of which, Granholm will appear tomorrow night at 9PM on CNBC's special, Meeting of the Minds. Granholm and four other intelligent people, as well as Bill Frist, will discuss healthcare reform.
  • The Tigers, who came into Friday in a tie with the White Sox for first in the AL Central, have taken the first three games of this weekend's series to leap into a 3-game lead. Going into tonight's game, their magic number to clinch the AL Central is 63.
  • The good news:
  • The bad news:


Healthcare reform: Debunking the myths

From an email.

With baseless claims and misinformation being aggressively peddled by opponents of health reform, it's been a busy couple of weeks for fact-checkers. To help you sort through it all, we've compiled some of the latest and greatest analyses and reports from independent and non-partisan organizations and media outlets. We will be updating this as more and more of the other side’s claims are debunked. Hope you find it useful.

Republicans use “deceptive assaults” to stop health insurance reform. “Republicans in Washington seem to be shifting into overdrive to keep a health system overhaul from passing Congress before the August recess. Yesterday, July 22, brought two more deceptive assaults (that we know of) on the pending bills, one from Minority Whip Eric Cantor and the other from the top GOP member of the House Immigration Subcommittee, Steve King of Iowa.” [Misleading GOP Health Care Claims, FactCheck.Org, July 23, 2009]

Cantor’s video “inflates” cost of bill by “more than 50%.” “Cantor’s is in the form of a video that accuses Obama and the Democrats of being in a “reckless rush” to finalize a reset of the system. “How much will it cost?” the narrator asks, as photos of House Democrats flash onscreen. “$1.6 trillion?” Actually, in a preliminary analysis released July 14 (and updated July 17), the Congressional Budget Office scored the House tri-committee group bill as costing a net $1.042 trillion. Cantor’s video inflates that number by more than 50 percent.” [Misleading GOP Health Care Claims, FactCheck.Org, July 23, 2009]

Cantor’s ad fails to mention there “is no Republican plan.” “In the sunny wrap-up to the ad, the narrator describes “the Republican plan”: “If you like what you have, you can keep it,” he says. “Access to an affordable basic coverage.” But there is no plan around which Republicans have coalesced. Back in May, some GOP lawmakers offered a bill that would have cut the tax deduction that employers get for offering their employees health insurance plans, and given workers tax credits instead. But there’s been little talk of the bill since then. And Missouri Republican Rep. Roy Blunt was tapped to head a GOP health care task force in February, which was charged “with crafting Republican solutions to increase Americans’ access to quality, affordable health care,” but which so far has produced no plan and seems unlikely to do so.” [Misleading GOP Health Care Claims, FactCheck.Org, July 23, 2009]

GOP claim about coverage for illegal immigrants, “not true.” “King claimed that this is what the Congressional Budget Office’s recent analysis of House health care legislation said. But it didn’t. His press release also said that the 5.6 million would be covered “in large part because the liberal proposal does not include any requirements to verify the citizenship or immigration status of those receiving taxpayer-funded health benefits.” That’s not true, either.” [Misleading GOP Health Care Claims, FactCheck.Org, July 23, 2009]

Canadian style health care? A “straw man argument,” based on opinion piece “riddled with errors.” “One ad claims that ‘Washington wants to bring Canadian-style health care to the U.S.’ But the health care bills moving through Congress don’t call for a single-payer system like Canada’s… Obama, too, has said repeatedly that he doesn’t back a conversion to a single-payer system…. But as we've said about other ads, all this sets up a straw man argument, criticizing Canada's health care system despite the fact that a purely government-run system isn't what's being seriously considered in Congress or being proposed by the president.” [Canadian Straw Man, Fact Check.org, June 17, 2009]

Insurance industry “cherry-picks facts” in fight again public option. “Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), invoked the statistic to argue against the creation of a government-run insurance option. But the polls are not that simple, and her assertion reveals how the industry's effort to defend its turf has led it to cherry-pick the facts. The poll Ignagni was citing actually undercuts her position: By 72 to 20 percent, Americans favor the creation of a public plan, the June survey by the New York Times and CBS News found. People also said that they thought government would do a better job than private insurers of holding down health-care costs and providing coverage.” [Health Insurance Industry Spins Data in Fight Against Public Plan, Washington Post, July 22, 2009]

Gingrich claims on cost and taxes of health care plan simply “not the case”. “As for Gingrich’s twittered claim that the legislation would increase taxes on “virtually everyone,” that’s not the case. The proposal would increase taxes on those with adjusted gross incomes above $280,000 a year or $350,000 a year for couples. That’s not a whole lot of people. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center projected a little less than 2.2 million households (1.4 percent of all households) would face higher taxes under the proposal. The surtax for those upper-income folks would start at 1 percent and go up to 5.4 percent with top incomes over $1 million. (This New York Times post explains how the surtax would work.)” [Tax-and-Spend Twittering, FactCheck.org, July 15, 2009]

Republicans use “misleading” facts when analyzing health Care. “A new ad from Conservatives for Patients' Rights says that a public health insurance plan now being proposed in Congress “could crush all your other choices, driving them out of existence, resulting in 119 million off their current insurance coverage.” That's misleading. The 119 million figure comes from an analysis of a plan that would mirror Medicare and be open to every individual and business that wanted it. But that's not the type of public plan President Obama has proposed. Nor is such a plan gaining acceptance on Capitol Hill.” [More Health Care Scare, FactCheck.org, June 11, 2009]

Investor's Business Daily is “perpetuating misinformation” on health care legislation, “page 16 doesn’t allow private insurance.” “Jennifer Tolbert, the (Kaiser Family Foundation) foundation's principal policy analyst, told us that Page 16 doesn't outlaw private insurance. “There will be individual policies available, but people will buy those policies through the national health insurance exchange,” she said. The House bill allows for existing policies to be grandfathered in, so that people who currently have individual health insurance policies will not lose coverage. The line the editorial refers to is a clause that says the health insurance companies cannot enroll new people into the old plans.” [The Truth-O-Meter Says: Private health insurance not banned on page 16 of the House bill, Politifact, July 22, 2009]

Rove “wrong”, “false,” “distorting” facts. “He (Rove) said, “The Lewin Group estimates 70 percent of people with private insurance — 120 million Americans — will quickly lose what they now get from private companies and be forced onto the government-run rolls as businesses decide it is more cost-effective for them to drop coverage.” That's wrong. The report said that people would choose to leave private insurance if given a cheaper option, but the report provided smaller numbers for other options. The debate in Congress over what a public option will look like is fierce and ongoing. So Rove is picking the worst-case scenario and then distorting the cause and effects. We rate Rove's statement False.” [The Truth-O-Meter Says: Rove's op-ed distorts health study, Politifact, June 12, 2009]

120 million deprived of health care is “not correct,” Pence’s statement “false.” “But there's a hitch: We'll grant that Congress could come up with a Medicare-style plan and open it to everyone, but it doesn't seem likely. Pence appears to be picking the worst number he can choose. And he doesn't mention the fact that under the scenario laid out by the Lewin Group, people would still have health care coverage and their premiums reduced by 30 to 40 percent. He says the government would “deprive” people of health insurance, when actually the scenario is that they would choose a different option. Finally, we have to include a caveat about the Lewin Group. The group says it operates with editorial independence, but it is a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, which also offers private health insurance.” [120 million “deprived” of health care is not correct, Politifact, May 19, 2009]

End of life claim, “pants on fire” “outright distortion,” Republicans “spreading a ridiculous falsehood.” “Republicans have found many reasons to oppose the Democrats' health care proposal, but this is one of the oddest. McCaughey incorrectly states that the bill would require Medicare patients to have these counseling sessions and she is suggesting that the government is somehow trying to interfere with a very personal decision. And her claim that the sessions would "tell [seniors] how to end their life sooner" is an outright distortion. Rather, the sessions are an option for elderly patients who want to learn more about living wills, health care proxies and other forms of end-of-life planning. McCaughey isn't just wrong, she's spreading a ridiculous falsehood.” [McCaughey claims end-of-life counseling will be required for Medicare patients, PolitiFact, July 16, 2009]

Lewin Group, frequently cited by GOP, “wholly owned” by “one of the nation’s largest insurers.” Generally left unsaid amid all the citations is that the Lewin Group is wholly owned by UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation's largest insurers. More specifically, the Lewin Group is part of Ingenix, a UnitedHealth subsidiary that was accused by the New York attorney general and the American Medical Association, a physician's group, of helping insurers shift medical expenses to consumers by distributing skewed data. Ingenix supplied its parent company and other insurers with data that allegedly understated the “usual and customary” doctor fees that insurers use to determine how much they will reimburse consumers for out-of-network care.” [Research Firm Cited by GOP Is Owned by Health Insurer, Washington Post, July 22, 2009]

Republicans “break previous promise” to provide health care bill. “GOP Rep. Roy Blunt has now said Republicans won’t offer a health care bill of their own, breaking a previous promise. Worse, it turns out Blunt is chair of something called the “House GOP Health Care Solutions Group.” Blunt’s quote went up online late yesterday evening: “Our bill is never going to get to the floor, so why confuse the focus? We clearly have principles; we could have language, but why start diverting attention from this really bad piece of work they’ve got to whatever we’re offering right now?” That’s a pretty stark admission that Republicans won’t introduce their own bill solely because they think it’s better politics to keep the focus on the Democrats. It gets better. Head over to the House GOP Health Care Solutions Group’s Web site, and you’ll find prominent video of Blunt vowing the GOP is “drafting our own legislation.”” [Leader Of GOP Health Care “Solutions Group” Says GOP Won’t Offer Health Care Bill, Washington Post’s Plum Line, July 23, 2009]

Americans support need to “pay for the cost of health care reform.” “A proposal has been made to raise taxes on those who earn more than $250,000 a year to pay for the cost of health care reform. Do you favor or oppose raising taxes on those who earn more than $250,000 a year to pay for the cost of health care reform? 48% Favor; 44% Oppose; 8% Not sure. Another recent poll found that 60% support taxing the wealthy for reform. So if, as Nelson says, “tax” is a four letter word, the public doesn’t appear to think of it as an epithet when it’s applied to the wealthy in service of health care reform. What’s hard to understand is this reflexive belief that majorities must think the way conservatives do.” [Despite Centrist Claim, People Support Taxing Rich On Health Care, Washington Post’s Plum Line, July 17, 2009]

Bits of Tid: July 25, 2009

  • On the 19th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, President Obama announced that UN Ambassador Dr. Susan Rice will sign a UN treaty which calls upon nations to afford disabled people the same rights as everyone else.
  • In domestic policy news, Obama wants schools to reform by being more welcoming of charter schools while paying teachers based on student achievement. The incentive for doing so? Aid. Of course, student achievement can be measured in different ways, and measuring achievement by test scores alone is about as good of an idea as Obama joining the Republican Party.
  • Bush considered using troops inside the US to capture terror suspects.
  • Republican Kent County Commissioner Dean Agee has been busted for careless firearm discharge.
  • Who wants 36-year-old cake?
  • Tigers' magic number: 65.


Obama Disappoints YET AGAIN!!

Yes. Barack Hussein Obama is a fan of the Chicago White Sox. He even called Mark Buehrle to congratulate him on his perfect game:

After the game he was treated to congratulation from one of the team's biggest fans, President Obama. Obama called Buehrle from his motorcade after an event in Ohio this afternoon and congratulated him on the "extraordinary achievement."
Shame on you, Mr. President! These are very difficult times for our country - the Detroit Tigers are in crisis! They have fallen into a tie with the White Sox for the AL Central lead!

Where is your leadership, Mr. President?????????

Bits of Tid: July 24, 2009


MDP Announces Five Potential Ballot Proposals for 2010

What goes on with the races for Governor, Secretary of State, AG, Congress, Education Boards, Legislature, the judiciary, and local races will be important in 2010. Just as important, however, are what ballot proposals will appear. They often affect voter turnout and can even determine the outcome of other elections.

Well, at least one proposal will appear on the ballot in 2010: Voters will be asked (as they are at least every 16 years) if we should have a Constitutional Convention. But the the Michigan Democratic Party is considering putting one of five other proposals on the ballot.

And the nominees are:

  • Mandating all employers to provide affordable health care for their employees and dependents or pay a penalty.
  • Raising the minimum wage from $7.40/hour to $10/hour and covering all workers with no exceptions.
  • Increasing unemployment benefits by $100/week, making all workers eligible and adding six months to the time one can receive benefits.
  • Cutting utility rates by 20%.
  • Imposing a one-year moratorium on home foreclosures.

Sounds good, right? Well, unfortunately, they probably won't be able to put them all on the ballot. They only have so much in terms of resources, and it takes hundreds of thousands of petition signatures to get it on the ballot.

At any rate, Brewer opted not to mince words:

“While the greedy corporate CEO’s of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Detroit Regional Chamber, and Detroit Renaissance are worried only about their selfish interests, the Michigan Democratic Party is focused on helping all the people of Michigan get through these tough economic times.”

“The corporate special interests are using these tough times to advance the same tired old agenda – cut jobs, wages, and benefits; reduce services; and shift taxes onto the middle class and the poor,” observed Brewer. “These proposals put people first and will help millions of Michigan citizens.”

Hot damn! Here's a guy who knows how to stand up for what it means to be a Democrat! I wish he had more company among the Blue Dogs in Congress!

Bits of Tid: July 22, 2009

  • This is all I'll say about the Obama birth certificate 'issue:'
    1. It's not really an issue. If it was, why weren't questions raised about it during the campaign?
    2. They're criticizing him on this because they can't justify criticizing his policies.
    3. Shame on those in the media who even cover it, even those who slam the conspiracy theorists. Why? The time they spend covering it could be better spent covering serious issues. Like, say his 'mom jeans.'
    4. Where's Reagan's birth certificate?
  • Oakland, CA, will now tax marijuana, thanks to a proposal approved by more than 80% of voters. That's what I've been thinking: Legalize it and tax the hell out of it!
  • Who said it?
    Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
    So said retired General - and Republican Commander-in-Chief - Dwight Eisenhower in 1953. Those words came to m mind as I heard the encouraging word that the US Senate has voted to cut off funding for the F-22.
  • The Public Option: Not only would it be sound healthcare policy, it's also a money-saver.
  • From the State News: "Police absorb info on string of thefts." It's about tampons. And the puns don't stop there.


In his first six months in office, President Obama:

  • Signed executive orders to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within a year, ban torture and end the CIA’s secret overseas prisons and define treatment of Detainees.
  • Reversed restrictions on stem cell research.
  • Signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Reducing discrimination based on gender, age, religion, or race.
  • Signed an executive order reversing the ban that prohibits funding to international family planning groups that provide abortions. Gag rule revoked (Mexico City policy).
  • Creates the White House Council on Women and Girls "to provide a coordinated federal response to the challenges confronted by women and girls and to ensure that all Cabinet and Cabinet-level agencies consider how their policies and programs impact women and families."
  • Signed a Presidental Memorandum extending federal benefits to same-sex partners of federal workers and announced support for the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009.
  • Reverses U.S. position on LGBT Issues at the UN: At the "Durban Review Conference," U.S. supports language condemning “all forms of discrimination and all other human rights violations based on sexual orientation.”
  • Signed executive order requiring federal contractors to offer jobs to current workers when contracts change.
  • Reversed a Bush order requiring federal contractors to post notice that workers can limit financial support of unions serving as their exclusive bargaining representatives.
  • Signed executive order preventing federal contractors from being reimbursed for expenses meant to influence workers deciding whether to form a union and engage in collective bargaining.
  • Created a foreclosure prevention fund for homeowners.
  • Expanded eligibility for the refinancing portion of the Making Home Affordable plan to help Americans struggling with distressed mortgages refinance at lower interest rates, even if they owe up to 25 percent more than their homes are now worth.
  • Established a credit card "bill of rights".
  • Expanded loan programs for small businesses.
  • Extended and index the 2007 Alternative Minimum Tax patch.
  • Expanded eligibility for State Children's Health Insurance Fund (SCHIP).
  • Expanded funding to train primary care providers and public health practitioners.
  • Created a new White House task force on the problems of middle-class Americans, and installed Vice President Joe Biden as its chairman.
  • Appoints Vice President Joe Biden to Oversee Stimulus Plan Payouts.
  • Granted a reprieve to Liberian immigrants facing imminent expulsion.
  • Directed military leaders to end war in Iraq.
  • Allowing Caskets to be photographed when the return from Iraq with family approval.
  • Released nine previously secret internal Justice Department memos and opinions defining the legal limits of government power in combating terrorism.
  • On Arab TV Network, Obama Urges Dialogue.
  • Gave a speech in Cairo engaging the Muslim and Arab world.
  • Bars independent contractors from conducting interrogations of terror suspects.
  • Granted Americans unrestricted rights to visit family and send money to Cuba.
  • Ordered the release of nearly a quarter of a million pages of records from the Reagan White House that were kept from the public during a lengthy review by President George W. Bush.
  • Restored funding for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne/JAG) program.
  • Released presidential records.
  • Required new hires to sign a form affirming their hiring was not due to political affiliation or contributions.
  • Pushed for enactment of Matthew Shepard Act, which expands hate crime law to include sexual orientation and other factors.
  • Invites gay families to the Easter Egg Roll as part of the Obama administration's outreach to diverse communities.
  • Created a White House Office on Urban Policy.
  • Increased funding for the NEA.
  • Appointed an assistant to the president for science and technology policy.
  • Funded a major expansion of AmeriCorps.
  • Banned lobbyist gifts to executive employees.
  • Investment in all types of alternative energy.
  • Enacted tax credit for consumers for plug-in hybrid cars.
  • Support for high-speed rail.
  • Provided grants to encourage energy-efficient building codes.
  • Extended unemployment insurance benefits and temporarily suspend taxes on these benefits.
  • Created the White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers to help auto industry workers transition to new manufacturing opportunities, including jobs in alternative energy.
  • Stopped raids on medical marijuana dispensers.
  • Nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court of the United States. If confirmed, Sotomayor would be the first Hispanic to ever serve on the Supreme Court.
  • Appointed more than 60 openly LGBT persons to positions in the executive branch.
  • Issues Presidential Proclamation for Pride, proclaiming June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.
  • Signed a mercury reduction pact with 140 other nations.
  • Signed the Weapons System Acquisition Reform Act to curb wasteful spending by the Pentagon. Intended to price contracts and budgets lower; may potentially save billions of dollars in defense.
  • Signed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009, which serves to protect two million acres of land and creates a new system of land conservation for the Bureau of Land Management.
  • Phase out government payments to crop producers making more than $500,000 a year and eliminates subsidies for cotton storage to help trim the U.S. budget deficit.
  • Cut funding for a proposed U.S. nuclear storage facility at Yucca Mountain.
  • Restored Endangered Species Act Provision requiring U.S. agencies consult with independent federal experts to determine if their actions might harm threatened and endangered species.
  • Orders The Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration "to protect and restore the health, heritage, natural resources, and social and economic value of the Nation's largest estuarine ecosystem and the natural sustainability of its watershed."
  • Signed the 2009 Omnibus Public Land Management Act designating two million additional acres of public wilderness areas the highest level of government protection from logging and other forms of commercial use and development.
  • Signed the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act which will expedite the search for cures and treatments for millions of Americans living with paralysis caused by spinal cord injury, stroke, MS, Parkinson's and many other diseases and disorders.
  • Established The Joint Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record, a new system for updating medical records of servicemen and women both during and after their military careers.
  • Established the White House Office of Health Reform
  • Created new and stronger safety standards to safeguard the country's food supply.
  • Got his daughters a new puppy!
(from an email)

Bits of Tid: July 21, 2009

  • First of all, a special "thank you" to everyone who offered me support after Swifty's passing. It's been lonely around here, even for her sister, Lucy. But while I don't think anyone can completely get over the death of a companion (human or pet), I am coming to terms with her absence.
  • The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which is in charge of electing Democrats to the US House, raised twice as much money as its Republican counterpart. Good news, to be sure, especially since Republicans used to outraise Democrats by wide margins. Still, let's not let our guard down.
  • Obama's in trouble, right? Wrong. He's actually doing as well as, if not a bit better than, Reagan at this point in 1981.
  • Speaking of which, for all the talk of healthcare reform being on the ropes, Nate Silver tells us it's not.
  • Here's an edited version of Sarah Palin's resignation speech.
  • That's okay, I still support her:

  • And finally, wind turbines on a Meijer store in Grand Haven:


Goodbye, Swifty. I will always love you.

December 5, 2004. It was senior year of high school. The school was being renovated. Christmastime jazz and wind ensemble concerts were fast approaching. Our AP Government's We the People state competition loomed on the horizon after New Year's. Worst of all, Grandpa, and our dogs Bonnie and Cindy, had all died within the previous year and a half. And did I mention that Bush had just been given a second term? All in all, I was a wreck.

Enter Swifty. She was my Christmas present that year. And what a wonderful gift she was.

Swifty passed away this morning. She was about 8 or 9 human years old.

Swifty was a black lab with some husky mixed in. As you might tell, her eyes were different colors - one brown, the other blue! The folks at the Humane Society named her Swiftie, after Dr. Swift, but we changed the spelling.

For the first eight months after we got her, she was my dog. Or so I would have Mom and Dad believe! I let her sleep on my bed each night. I kept thinking to myself, I better get to bed before Swifty gets there or I'm gonna have a rough night! (Make that a 'ruff' night!) She was on my bed wagging her tail when she welcomed me home as a new high school graduate.

Oh, and the walks! For those first several months, the mere utterance of the word "walk" would get her attention! I would take her for a walk every night after Jeopardy! - a tradition that continued almost every night I've been home from college in the past four years.

In August of 2005, it came time to part ways - temporarily. I was off to Central Michigan University. From what I understand, she didn't seem to have a hard time adjusting to my absence. We left her home the day I went up to CMU that August, but when my homesick self was about to come home for Labor Day Weekend, there she was in the passenger seat of the van, panting with excitement!

In January of 2006, with me at school and my brother in Alaska, Mom and Dad felt lonely with just one dog at home. So they gave Swifty a rambunctious, yet adorable, sister: Lucy. Here's Lucy on the left, Swifty on the right:

Swifty was by far the best behaved dog our family has had (at least since I've been alive). I will always treasure the walks we took, the fun we had (with Lucy, of course), and the smiles she brought to our faces. She showed us so much love, and we did the same to her.

We took Swifty to the vets about a month ago because she was having trouble breathing. After a total of three vet visits, a loss of her appetite, and a misdiagnosis of what they thought was a respiratory infection, an X-ray revealed she had dilated cardiomyopathy, which is an enlarging of the heart. Few dogs who have it survive more than a year or two from diagnosis.

She didn't really regain much strength. She slept a lot. Our walks were fewer and shorter. We went for one last one earlier this week.

This morning, I woke up to the sound of my mom sobbing and telling my aunt, "she's gone!" Mom had seen her laying on her belly, perked up, in the back yard a little while ago. She moved under the hammock, which was a favorite spot of hers, and passed away there. We buried her just a little while earlier.

Thank you for being such a wonderful Christmas present, Swifty.

Rest in peace.

Bits of Tid: July 18, 2009

  • Today is Cow Appreciation Day, National Hot Dog Day, and Toss Away the "Could Haves" and "Should Haves" Day. So don't tell me you should have eaten a hot dog while appreciating a cow!
  • While politicians debate the specifics of health care, the President makes sure we remember what's most important in this discussion.
  • Speaking of which, have you checked out the Health Care Action Center on BarackObama.com?
  • Five Republican judges became Democrats. In Alabama.
  • Walter Cronkite:
    "A career can be called a success if one can look back and say: ´I made a difference.´"
    Thank you, Walter, for making a difference for all of our nation. Rest in peace.


Bits of Tid: July 17, 2009

  • For Central students not covered by the CMU Promise guarantee, tuition is going up 4.8% this fall. Another reason for Michigan to keep the Promise Scholarship!
  • Where is our stimulus money going? Check michigan.gov/recovery to find out!
  • Guess who chairs the US Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Energy, Science, and Technology? None other than Debbie Stabenow!
    As Chair, Stabenow will work to ensure that agriculture and forestry play prominent roles in energy and climate policy that invests in new, clean technologies such as biofuels to create well-paying jobs. In addition to the Senate Agriculture Committee, Stabenow serves on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senate Finance Committee, and the Senate Budget Committee, all of which have jurisdiction over a wide range of issues important to Michigan. She also speaks as Michigan’s voice in Senate leadership as the Chair of the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee.
  • This says a lot more about you than it does about her, Glenn:
  • Jimmy Carter has had to make a very painful decision: he is leaving the Southern Baptist Convention after several decades. Why? They say women are meant to be subservient to men - which is contrary to Carter's beliefs. And mine too.
  • Want a public option? Want to be on TV? Head on over here!
  • Might I also remind you about Lake Superior State University's Banished Words List?


Obama in Michigan: Betting on education

While many issues are facing America right now, education is not one that is discussed very often, even though our country's education system consistently ranks lower than most in the developed world.

Luckily, we have someone in the White House who understands the importance of building a stronger education system for this nation.

President Obama talked about education, with a focus on community colleges, in his first visit to the Great Lakes State as President today. He spoke at Macomb Community College, located in Warren. Due to the pain Metro Detroit has suffered with automotive layoffs, MCC was a prime place for him to discuss his American Graduation Initiative and the issue of education as a means of ensuring our long-term prosperity.

As the President said:

Time and again, when we placed our bet for the future on education, we have prospered as a result -- by tapping the incredible innovative and generative potential of a skilled American workforce.

Indeed, almost nobody who reads this blog will doubt that an educated workforce is necessary for our economy to prosper. Companies only create skilled jobs where talent resides, and education is supposed to foster that talent. Which is why a strong education system is a must - especially in today's economy.

So why the focus on community colleges? From CNN:

Obama called the investment in community colleges crucial because "jobs requiring at least an associate degree are projected to grow twice as fast as jobs requiring no college experience" in coming years.

"We will not fill those jobs, or keep those jobs on our shores, without the training offered by community colleges," he said.

To improve our community college system, the President discussed his American Graduation Initiative. According to CNN, the initiative includes such key areas as:

• Community college challenge grants, to help underfunded colleges that are dealing with limited capacity and to build partnerships with schools and businesses.

• The Access and Completion Fund, to provide performance-based scholarships and give colleges the tools to design more programs around work schedules.

• Modernization of community-college facilities, with $2.5 billion to help renovate facilities and keep up with maintenance costs. The renovations will create jobs, Obama said.

• Open online courses, to create options online as a tool that some think can be more effective than classroom instruction alone.

As Obama said, the American Graduation Initiative

will reform and strengthen community colleges like this one from coast to coast so they get the resources that students and schools need -- and the results workers and businesses demand. Through this plan, we seek to help an additional 5 million Americans earn degrees and certificates in the next decade -- 5 million.

But at what cost? He says the plan will be paid for

by ending the wasteful subsidies we currently provide to banks and private lenders for student loans. (Applause.) That will save tens of billions of dollars over the next 10 years. Instead of lining the pockets of special interests, it's time this money went towards the interests of higher education in America

Of course, as some have said, "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance."

When it comes to higher education, the Obama Administration has certainly gotten off to a good start. In addition to this initiative, the Administration has already eased rules on repaying student loans and is working to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

While Obama is right to note the important yet understated role community colleges play in this country, my hope is that he will also work to ensure that four-year colleges and other schools have the tools necessary to educate students who, like me, choose to earn an education at those institutions. While access to affordable, quality health care is critical for our short-term economic health, our long-term prosperity may very well hinge on access to affordable, quality education.

Bits of Tid: July 14, 2009

  • On the one hand, it's sick that some are going after Malia Obama, Age 11, for the way she dresses. On the other hand, what it tells me is how little they have to say about her dad that's actually substantive, legitimate criticism. What does it tell you that instead of talking about his policies, they'd rather obsess over his daughter?
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to Sonia Sotomayor: "Unless you have a complete meltdown, you're gonna get confirmed."
  • From Daily Kos: Things I Learned Watching the News.
  • When someone's in pain, it's not a good time to tell them what the f%$# they can or cannot say.
  • Here's another cool website: Ta-Da Lists. It lets you set up several to-do lists at once. Trust me, it can make your life less chaotic than it sounds.
  • I hope you don't live in Blanding, UT! LOL!
  • Tigers' magic number at the Break: 72.


Bits of Tid: July 10, 2009

  • GM is out of bankruptcy - leaner, meaner, and greener.
  • According to a report I saw on CNN, there has been a "slide" in confidence in Obama. In February, 75% of Americans had confidence in him. Now, it has fallen to...

    wait for it...

    wait for it...


    Three points in five months - talk about a freefall!
  • Meanwhile on CNBC, I flipped through and noticed a story on "Moguls on Obama." See, we as a society have given way too much attention to the concerns of poor and middle-class people. It's about damn time people would listen to the downtrodden billionaires of the world!
  • People who stare at other people's behinds.
  • Speaking of The Onion, here's a headline: "Baseball Fans Delighted By New Between-Innings F***-Cams."
  • And speaking of baseball, the Tigers' magic number has dwindled down to 74.
  • Don't forget United We Serve!




The Kalamazoo City Commission has unanimously passed a nondiscrimination ordinance for sexual orientation:

It will prohibit discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people when it comes to hiring, housing and other accommodations. The ordinance goes into effect in July.


RUN FOR YOUR WIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!

But that's not all. From The Atlantic:

Have you heard that the United States is headed toward socialism? Jonah Goldberg says it is. Alabama Senator Richard Shelby says it is. Phyllis Schlafly says it is. Richard Viguerie says it is. The Republican National Committee says it is. We must be getting pretty close.

How close? This is what socialism looks like:



(End sarcasm)