LSSU Banished Words List: The American people refudiate the Mama Grizzly!

Each year around New Year's, Lake Superior State University releases a just-for-fun List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness." Originally designed as a publicity grabber for this small university of about 2,500 students (as of 2009), this tradition is now in its 36th year.

A couple of words and phrases inspired by Palin and McCain - "maverick" and "First Dude" - were banished two years ago following the election.

Well, thanks to (ahem) the American people, "Mama Grizzly" Palin has been "refudiated" twice more, as "Mama Grizzly" and "refudiate" have been included for the 2011 Banished Words List!

Here's the complete list:

  • Viral
  • Epic
  • Fail
  • Wow Factor
  • A-ha Moment
  • Back story
  • BFF
  • Man up
  • Refudiate
  • Mama Grizzlies
  • The American People
  • I'm Just Sayin'
  • Facebook and Google (when used as verbs - "I'm going to Google this")
  • Live Life to the Fullest
I'm just sayin', let's man up and make this viral so that everyone can have an a-ha moment when they Google or Facebook Palin's latest epic fail!

(Oh, and why not submit a word for banishment in the 2012 list? ;-) )



"Facts are stupid things." - Ronald Reagan


83% of liberal Democrats approve of how President Obama is doing his job.

You might not believe that from reading a lot of the loiberal blogs - Daily Kos or Democratic Underground, etc. - but according to Gallup, he's still doing really well among his base.

In fact, the three demographics that give Obama his highest ratings are Blacks (89%), Liberal Democrats (83%), and Democrats as a whole (78%).

A couple more points: First, this poll suggests that the more liberal you are, the more likely you are to support the President. So much for the left being 'enraged' with him.

Some may say, "Well, the more educated, informed voters know what's going on, and they know what Obama has done - and they are none too pleased with him." It's hard to measure how informed/in tune with the news someone is, but as far as education, the more formal education someone has, the more likely they are to approve of our President's job handling. 54% of those with a postgraduate degree approve of his performance.

I, for one, have had my qualms with the President - or at least certain people within his Administration.

But this belief that the left is planning an 'uprising' simply does not bear fruit in the polls.


Obama's and Granholm's Courage Pays Off for Michigan

Thus saith the Crain's:

The Detroit metropolitan area was rated seventh among U.S. metro areas in economic growth from 2009 to 2010, according to a new global study by the Washington-based Brookings Institution.


Detroit was rated 147 out of 150 during the "pre-recession" period from 1993 to 2007, then rated 146 during the "recession" period from 2007 to 2010.

In the "recovery period" from 2009 to 2010, Detroit was rated 46, and trailed just six other U.S. cities.

And to what can we credit this rise? Emphasis mine:

Ranked 46th in the world in the study, Detroit was mentioned as a metro area undergoing a recovery based on a rise in U.S. manufacturing.

Huh. Manufacturing. And they said those jobs weren't coming back. I sure as heck believed that!

But Thank Goodness our President had the guts to step in and save the auto industry during its darkest hour. Politically speaking, that may not have been the best move for him to make. But policywise, that was one of the best, most courageous decisions this President has made in his first 22 months as leader of the strongest nation on earth.

And as Governor, Jennifer Granholm has done for the last eight years what almost no other leader would do before 2003: Focus on diversifying our economy. By the time she took office, Michigan was already losing countless manufacturing jobs. And we were bearing the brunt of the economic disasters of 2001 and 2008 because our economy relied more on manufacturing than did other states' economies. But given the growth we're already seeing in Michigan in such areas as renewable energy, our outgoing Governor deserves a lot of credit for sticking her neck out and here in Michigan.

Thank you, Mr. President! Thank you, Madam Governor!


The Things for Which We'll Wait

Okay, I'll admit it: Even I vote in American Idol and Dancing with the Stars every now and then.

This week, spent a good twenty minute on the phone, trying to get through so I could vote for Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough. Unable to get through, I went ahead and voted online.

Yes, I was persistent. And for me and other fans of Jennifer and Derek, our persistence paid off.

But while many of us were willing to wait as long as it took to vote for Jennifer and Derek, or Kyle and Lacey, or That Other Couple, I wonder how many of us would have waited to vote in a 'real-world' election.

One of the few benefits of being unemployed is that if you have things to do and errands to run, you can do them during the day, while other people are at work. I've voted twelve times since I turned 18, for everything from President to School Board. Six of those times have been by absentee ballot, while the other six have been in person at a voting booth on Election Day. During each of those times I have either been unempoloyed or on summer break (and away from the job I had in college) - and what summer jobs I did manage to get, weren't during the day.

This has meant that whenever I have voted in person, I have done so during the afternoon, after the lunchtime rush and before the evening rush. Result? No waiting in line. Even this month, when I voted around 2PM on Election Day, only three of the five booths were in use when I got my ballot. On a general election day, when the weather was nice, I got to choose which of two voting booths I would use.

But here's the thing: While I haven't waited in any lines at the polling place, I would if I had to. Quite happily, in fact.

See, sometims, when we really, really, really want something, we'll be more than happy to wait as long as it takes. This morning, thousands of people lined up at shopping malls and other stores across America to get their hands on great 'doorbuster' deals. Almost a million people will stand for several hours, without food or bathroom breaks, to watch the ball drop in Times Square on New Year's Eve. Many of us wait hours to get their hands on a newly released smartphone or video game, or for the premier of the latest movie in a popular franchise (i.e. Harry Potter or Twilight).

But at other times, when we really, really, really want something, most of us can't seem to wait. It's been nearly seven months since I graduated from college, yet so far, no full-time job - despite applying for countless jobs, making who-knows-how-many follow-up calls, having quite a few interviews. With student loan bills coming due soon, I am not all that patient. But other people are even less patient; I'm speaking of those who wish things would change faster than they have. Never mind that it took eight years for things to get this bad, and that this kind of change takes many years.

But sometimes, someone else can say something much better than I can. I'd like to direct your attention to this op-ed that appeared in the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun. It's by Louise Plachta, whose husband served eight years as president of my alma mater, Central Michigan University.

I am impressed that students would stage an all-night vigil to be the first to purchase "Call of Duty: Black Ops," as reported in Central Michigan University's school newspaper, and with the long lines of moviegoers who waited for hours outside and inside Celebration Cinema's theatre to be among the first to view the latest Harry Potter movie. What fortitude! What stamina! What excitement!

I don't remember ever waiting in line that long for anything and I don't have an issue with those who did and do. I just don't have the patience or desire to do so. I'd be thinking of all the other things I could be doing, i.e., sleeping. It's just that after reading those stories I thought of the long line that I encountered on a recent Saturday when Sacred Heart Church hosted the Compassionate Community Network's "Food Truck."

Hm. On the one hand, you have these people who will do anything to get their hands on a video game or a good seat in a movie theater. Then you have all these other people who will do anything to get their hands on... some food.

Paging Dr. Maslow, Dr. Abraham Maslow.

Hopefully by this time next year, I will have a well-paying job. And maybe I'll be one of those waiting in line at 5AM to get my hands on something.

But for now, I'm just glad I'm not waiting for the basic necessities of life.



Found this online - and I had to share it with you!

I was at the corner grocery store buying some early potatoes... I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily apprising a basket of freshly picked green peas.

I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes.

Pondering the peas, I couldn't help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller (the store owner) and the ragged boy next to me.

'Hello Barry, how are you today?'

'H'lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus' admirin' them peas. They sure look good.'

'They are good, Barry. How's your Ma?'

'Fine. Gittin' stronger alla' time.'

'Good. Anything I can help you with?'

'No, Sir. Jus' admirin' them peas.'

'Would you like to take some home?' Asked Mr. Miller.

'No, Sir. Got nuthin' to pay for 'em with.'

'Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?'

'All I got's my prize marble here.'

'Is that right? Let me see it' said Miller.

'Here 'tis. She's a dandy.'

'I can see that. Hmm mmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?' the store owner asked.

'Not zackley but almost.'

'Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble'.. Mr. Miller told the boy.

'Sure will. Thanks Mr. Miller.'

Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me..

With a smile she said, 'There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes, or whatever.

When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn't like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one, when they come on their next trip to the store.'

I left the store smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A short time later I moved to Colorado , but I never forgot the story of this man, the boys, and their bartering for marbles.

Several years went by, each more rapid than the previous one. Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I was there learned that Mr. Miller had died.. They were having his visitation that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them. Upon arrival at the mortuary we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could.

Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts...all very professional looking. They approached Mrs. Miller, standing composed and smiling by her husband's casket.

Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and
moved on to the casket. Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one; each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary awkwardly, wiping his eyes.

Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and reminded her of the story from those many years ago and what she had told me about her husband's bartering for marbles. With her eyes glistening, she took my hand and led me to the casket.

'Those three young men who just left were the boys I told you about.

They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim 'traded' them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size....they came to pay their debt.'

'We've never had a great deal of the wealth of this world,' she confided, 'but right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho ..'

With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three exquisitely shined red marbles.

The Moral:
We will not be remembered by our words, but by our kind deeds. Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath.

Today I wish you a day of ordinary miracles ~ A fresh pot of coffee you didn't make yourself...

An unexpected phone call from an old friend.... Green stoplights on your way to work....

The fastest line at the grocery store....

A good sing-along song on the radio...

Your keys found right where you left them.


Coming Soon to a Ballot Near You, Part I: Comeback Kids

Welcome to a post-2010 election, pre-2012 election miniseries titled "Coming Soon to a Ballot Near You." Part I focuses on which candidates might run for which offices in the near future.

With each election, there are winners and losers. But many people often forget that those who lose one election, often come back to win later on. In fact almost every successful politician has lost at least one election in his or her lifetime:

  • Barack Obama was soundly defeated in a run for Congress in 2000.
  • George W. Bush missed out on the chance to serve in Congress in 1978.
  • Bill Clinton lost a race for Congress in 1972, and lost his re-election bid for Governor of Arkansas in 1980 (before coming back two years later and winning re-election each time until his election as President).
  • Georhe H.W. Bush lost a race for US Senate - to Lloyd Bentsen, the same Lloyd Bentsen who ran for Vice President 18 years later while Bush was running for (and elected) President.
  • Ronald Reagan ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1976, but lost to sitting President Gerald Ford.
  • Jimmy Carter lost a race for Georgia State Senate in 1962.
  • Also in 1962, Richard Nixon lost his race to be governor of California just two years after his narrow loss to JFK.
  • Lyndon Johnson lost his bid to be the Democratioc presidential nominee in 1960. Of course, JFK picked him to be his running mate, and the rest is history.
  • Franklin Roosevelt was denied the Vice Presidency in 1920, twelve years before being elected President.
Meanwhile, here in Michigan:

  • Five of the last six unsuccessful nominees for Michigan Lieutenant Governor are currently serving in elected office: Olivia Maynard (1990) is a University of Michigan Regent; Debbie Stabenow (1994) is a US Senator; Loren Bennett (2002) is a Wayne County Commissioner; Ruth Johnson (2006) is Oakland County Clerk and will soon be Secretary of State; and Brenda Lawrence (2010) is mayor of Southfield. Note that three of those five have been elected to statewide office.
  • Congressman Gary Peters originally sought to be Governor during the 2002 campaign, but dropped out because he diodn't have nearly enough support. He narrowly lost the race for Attorney General that year - the first Democrat to lose a race for that office in 50 years.
  • Attorney General-elect Bill Schuette lost a race for US Senate against Carl Levin in 1990.
  • State Senator-elect Tom Casperson ran for Congress and got trounced by Bart Stupak in 2008.
  • Tim Walberg is now only 2 for 4 in Congressional elections, losing in 2004 and 2008.
  • Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard was re-elected in 2008 after losing the US Senate race to Debbie Stabenow two years later.
  • Congressman-elect Hansen Clarke finished a distant third in the 2005 race for Mayor of Detroit. Kwame Kilpatrick did much better than him.
Okay, I think I've made my point.

So who are some of the 2010 runners-up who we may see again in 2012, 2014, or beyond? Well, here are some of the people who had good runs in 2010, and where I think they should run in the future:

  • Virg Bernero: A race for Congress against Mike Rogers (if they are still in the same district). There has been a lot of grumbling that Democrats haven't run a striong candidate since Dianne Byrum's narrow loss in 2000.
  • Brenda Lawrence: A run for Gary Peters's Congressional seat if and when Peters steps aside (more on him in a minute). Or perhaps another run for Oakland County Executive -- she'll have better name recognition than she did in 2008.
  • Jocelyn Benson: Another run for Secretary of State in 2014, or perhaps spend some time in the Legislature while another person runs against Johnson in 2014. If Johnson wins in 2014, then Benson could run again in 2018. While I'd be surprised to see a Democrat besides Benson elected Secretary of State in 2014 (at least if office-hopper Johnson runs again), if that does happen again, Benson could run again in 2022, when she'll still be only 45.
  • Mark Schauer: Another run for Congress in whichever Congressional district he finds himself after redistricting.
  • Pat Miles: Another run for Congress in 2012, or State Senate or Attorney General in 2014.
  • David LaGrand: Mayor of Grand Rapids in 2011 (if George Heartwell decides against a third term) or Kent County Prosecutor in 2012.
  • Lupe Ramos-Montigny: Another run for State Board of Education in 2012.

Among those who did win in 2010 - and yes, there are some - I see some bright futures for these fine folks:

  • Gary Peters and Hansen Clarke: Re-election in 2012, then in 2014, one can run for Governor while the other runs for US Senate. (I'd be shocked if Carl Levin ran for another term in 2014.)
  • Gretchen Whitmer (Senate Democratic Leader): Congress in 2012 and/or 2014, or Attorney General in 2014.
  • Glenn Anderson: (Senate Democratic Whip): Congress against Thaddeus McCotter (we almost beat McCotter in 2008) or Governor or Lieutenant Governor in 2014.
  • Richard Hammel (House Democratic Leader): Congress when Dale Kildee retires.
  • Kate Segal (House Democratic Whip): Re-election in 2012, then State Senate against Mike Nofs in 2014.
  • Robert Ficano: Governor in 2014 or Congress against Thaddeus McCotter in 2012 or 2014.


Bloodbath post-mortem

This has been The. Worst. Election. Of. My. Lifetime. Worse than 1994. Much worse than 2002 or 2004. I didn't think it would be this bad. I truly believed that more of the first-time voters from 2008 would show up again. Sadly, this 'enthusiasm gap' was all too real. Damn shame.

  • Davis becomes the third incumbent Justice in Michigan history to lose re-election. It now appears that incumbency does not carry with it the same advantages that it did just four years ago.
  • Republicans swept the statewide education board spots for the first time since 1984. (Dems swept them in 1986, 2006, and 2008, while 1988-2004 each side won some seats).
  • Even Colleen McNamara - who won her seat on the MSU Board in 1994 of all years - has lost.
  • Their 21-seat gain in the state House is the biggest for any party since... actually, I don't even have a clue when.
  • There will be more Republicans in the State House and the State Senate than at any time in at least 20 years (and probably much longer).
  • This marks the first time since 1994 that Democrats have not been able to flip a single US Senate seat from red to blue.
  • There will be more Republicans in the House than at any time since Truman's first term (when my parents were not even a year old).
  • Democrats have held at least one of the top four statewide offices (Governor, LG, Secretary of State, AG) since after the 1948 election. Not anymore.
As for why this all happened, it can all be summed up in three words: Turnout, turnout, turnout. Of course, there are a myriad of factors that go beyond turnout, but let me just say that turnout was horrible where I lived. It was 48% in Kent County, vs. 60% in 2006 and 53% in 2002.

And most of the drop-off is from Dems staying home. Republicans didn't getting many more votes than they usually do. For all this talk about how Snyder apoparently appeals to moderates, indies, and Dems, he's only getting about a quarter million more votes than conservative hero DeVos. Eileen Weiser didn't get many more votes in her election to the State Board of Education than she did four years ago.

My read on the election is that it wasn't about Republicans being more energized than before, though that was a bit of a factor. It wasn't about independents and others changing their minds and voting for Republicans two/four/six years after voting for Democrats, though a few probably did. It was about too many Democrats not voting, period.

Too many Democrats/Obama supporters have become cynical about the process. "Where's my change I voted for?" they wonder, and they see no reason to vote - so they decide not to.

It really comes down to that age-old problem Democrats have had: Messaging. Republicans kept consistently hammering home the message of lower taxes, less spending, less government, and more jobs. And while my belief is that 'less spending' and 'more jobs' are two ideas that conflict with each other, we all know that it doesn't really matter in the minds of John and Jane Voter.

There's lots and lots and lots of blame to go around. Certainly the President himself is partly responsible, but I'm more apt to blame certain people in his administration for not showing him a better way (since a President is VERY busy and can't do it by himself). Rahm's departure last month was a start.

You know what they say: Lower turnout favors Republicans. And "bad politicians are elected by good citizens who don't vote." That's what happened here.

There are still more of us than there are of them, but too many of us stayed home. Hence, this bloodbath. I believe we will look back at this election as a 'low water mark,' if you will. I don't think we will have a worse election than this for many years/decades. Hopefully we can learn from this, figure out what to do next, and do our best to swing the pendulum back our way.



  • Snyder 55%, Bernero 41%.
  • Benson 51%, Johnson 46%.
  • Schuette 53%, Leyton 45%.
  • Democrats maintain US Senate majority, 53-47.
  • Republicans win control of US House, 222-213.
  • Republicans maintain State Senate majority, 21-17.
  • Democrats maintain State House majority, 59-51 (net loss of 8).
  • Unfortunately, I predict that Young and Kelly will win the Supreme Court seats.
  • Proposal 1 is defeated, 37-63%.
  • Proposal 2 passes, 71-29%.
  • In US Senate races, of Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wisconsin, Democrats will win 4 of those 6.
  • Democrats will win 3 of the 4 hotly contested House races in Michigan - in the 1st, 3rd, 7th, and 9th districts.
  • Either Florida or Minnesota will be subjected to another recount this time, in their Governor's race.
  • Turnout in Michigan: 49%.


Small Margins, Big Impact: Why GOTV Matters

17,595. 5,708. 5,200. 4,963. 3,800. 2,074. 1,154. 1,149. 720. 537. 450. 323. 312. 133. 128. 121. 91. 87. 28. 21. 15. 4. 2. 1.

Giant IP address? Nope. All of those numbers are margins of victory in some of the closest elections Michigan and America have seen in recent years. Many of those close races have had significant consequences:

  • 17,595: John Engler (R) over Jim Blanchard (D), Governor of Michigan, 1990. Do we need to go over the consequences of this one?
  • 5,708: Ruth Johnson (R) over Sheila Smith (D), Oakland County Clerk, 2008. And guess what Johnson is doing now? Running for office for the 12th consecutive even-year election. Would Republicans have nominated her for Secretary of State had she lost? And polls show her slightly ahead of Jocelyn Benson (by margins similar to Bill Schuette's lead in the AG race) - would Benson be leading the Republican nominee if it wasn't Johnson?
  • 5,200: Mike Cox (R) over Gary Peters (D), Michigan Attorney General, 2002. Cox's 8 years as AG have led to a severe downgrading of the role of Attorney General as protector of consumers and individual rights.
  • 4,963. Nancy Danhof (R) over Herbert Moyer (D), State Board of Education, 2004. Two candidates are elected each even-numbered year in State Board of Education races; winners serve 8-year terms. In 2004, Danhof came in 2nd, Moyer 3rd. This means that Democrats now have a 6-2 lead in the State Board instead of a 7-1 lead - and it also means we will not have an 8-0 sweep after the election. (If you think the SBE race isn't important, let me remind you of the Texas curriculum rewrite.)
  • 3,800: Woodrow Wilson (D) over Charles Evans Hughes (R), President (California - 13 electoral votes), 1916. Had Hughes won California, he would have scored a 267-264 victory in the Electoral College. Instead, in his second term, Wilson led America to victory in World War I and won the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • 2,074: John McCulloch (R) over Brett Nicholson (D), Oakland County Drain Commissioner, 2008. We came that close to electing a great young Democrat to countywide office in Oakland County.
  • 1,154: G. Mennen Williams (D) over Harry Kelly (R), Governor of Michigan, 1950. After beating ex-Governor Kelly by such a small margin, Williams won his third term by beating Frederick Alger in 1952 by 8,618 votes. He was one of the more popular Governors Michigan has had.
  • 1,149: Grover Cleveland (D) over James G. Blaine (R), President (New York - 36 electoral votes), 1884. New York helped Cleveland to an electoral-vote voctory of 219-182 over Blaine; had Blaine won New York, Blaine would have been elected with a 218-183 margin.
  • 720: John Pappageorge (R) over Andrew Levin, Michigan State Senator, 2006.
  • 537: George W. Bush (R) over Al Gore (D), President (Florida - 25 electoral votes), 2000. Again, let's not rehash the consequences. (Incidentally, this is the number of votes by which Bush was declared the winner. As to who really won... I have my suspicions.
  • 450: Roger Kahn (R) over Carl Williams (D), Michigan State Senator, 2006. Had both Williams and Levin won, the Democrats would have controlled the state Senate with Lt. Gov. John Cherry's tiebreaking vote. Republican control of the Senate (while Dems haev controled the Governorship and House of Representatives) resulted in two state government shutdowns in the following three years.
  • 323: Bob McDonnell (R) over Creigh Deeds (D), Virginia Attorney General, 2005. McDonnell defeated Deeds by a larger margin in the 2009 race for Governor, likely due in part to his increased name recognition that resulted from his time as AG.
  • 312: Al Franken (D) over Norm Coleman (R), US Senator from Minnesota. The period from when Franken was seated in July 2009 to the election of Cosmo Brown the following January (I refuse to let him sully such a good name as Scott) was remarkable in that that's when the healthcare reform package cleared the 60-vote hurdle. It later passed by reconciliation in March, two months after Brown was elected.
  • 133: Christine Gregoire (D) over Dino Rossi (R), Governor of Washington, 2004. Gregoire is still Governor, while Rossi is now running for Senate against Patty Murray. Murray is the slight favorite at the moment; would she still be ahead if Rossi had won that race six years ago?)
  • 128: Shelley Goodman Taub (R) over Karen Spector (D), Oakland County Commissioner, 2008. Because of this, Republicans hold a 13-12 majority on the Oakland County Commission.
  • 121: Mike Rogers (R) over Dianne Byrum (D), US Representative from Michigan, 2000.
  • 91: Karl Rolvaag (D) over Elmer Anderson (R), Governor of Minnesota, 1962. This election was finally settled the following March.
  • 87: Lyndon Johnson over Coke Stevenson, US Senate Democratic Primary in Texas, 1948. Johnson became an accomplished legislative leader before serving as Vice President and President.
  • 28: Barbara McIlvaine Smith (D) over Shannon Royer (R), Pennsylvania state representative, 2006. This gave Democrats a 102-101 majority in the State House. Yes, it was that close.
  • 21: Sam Gejdensen over Edward Munster (R), US Representative from Connecticut, 1994.
  • 15: Dan Benishek over Jason Allen, Republican US House primary, 2010. The general-election matchup between Benishek and Gary McDowell (D) is seen as a tossup in a district currently represented by retiring Rep. Bart Stupak (D).
  • 4: Frank McCloskey (D) over Rick McIntyre (R), US Representative from Indiana, 1984. McCloskey was seated in May 1985.
  • 2: Louis Wyman (D) over John Durkin (R), US Senator from New Hampshire, 1974. The Senate ordered a revote, which Durkin won.
  • 1: Mike Kelly (R) over Karl Kassel (D), Alaska State Representative, 2008. Not as consequential as the one in Pennsylvania - at least in terms of who has the majority - but Republicans have only a 22-18 majority in the Alaska House, which would be 21-19 had Kassel won. (No, Kassel's not related to the NPR personality. :-) )

Whether or not you help with GOTV these next few days will likely have a much bigger impact on the direction of our state and country than you may realize. Just a little more effort would have put Democrats in charge of the State Senate in 2006. Consequently, the people of Pennsylvania were spared a Republican state House thanks to the dedication of Democratic GOTV volunteers in the 156th state House district in 2006. A few hundred more votes may have meant that Al Franken would have been seated long before July 7, 2009. (Incidentally, Coleman led by 5 points in a SurveyUSA poll released the Saturday before the 2008 election.)

2010 will almost certainly have its share of close races in Michigan and throughout the country. With a couple polls now showing Democrats tied with or slightly leading Republicans among likely voters in the generic ballot for Congress, it's clear that control of the US House may depend on a few votes in a few districts.

But if absolutely nothing else convinces you to help GOTV for our fine Democratic candidates, I give you this:

On 18 January 1961, in Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania), the Afro-Shirazi Party won the general elections by a single seat, after the seat of Chake-Chake on Pemba Island was won by a single vote.

If Democrats lose the state House because of a tiny margin in one district... and it was because you did not help... are you ready to deal with the regret?

So please, head on over to your local campaign office or make some GOTV calls from home.

(PS: Information found by browsing the US Election Atlas, Michigan Department of State, Oakland County, and Wikipedia websites.)


A birthday wish

So here's the deal:

  • Today's my 23rd birthday.
  • Jocelyn Benson's birthday is tomorrow. Pat Miles's birthday was this past Tuesday.
  • I'm not expecting much in the way of birthday presents - my family is not doing well, financially speaking.
  • I'm still very much underemployed (I bartend once or twice a month).
  • One third of our state's population lives in a competitive or quasi-competitive Congressional district (1, 3, 7, 9, 15).
  • About a quarter of the state's population lives in a competitive State Senate district.
  • About a third of the state's population lives in a competitive State House district.
  • Whatever you think about the races for Governor and Attorney General, the Secretary of State's race is very competitive. And if Jocelyn doesn't win this time... well, I don't know what to say.
  • The Republicans are going for revenge for their 2008 Supreme Court loss, targeting Justice Davis and airing slick "Young and Kelly, Kelly and Young" ads.
  • Many people, good and otherwise, have been elected by a small number of votes, including John Engler, Mike Rogers, Roger Kahn, John Pappageorge, Al Franken, LBJ (to the US Senate), and I could go on.
I would really, really, really like it if you could give me - and Pat and Jocelyn - a birthday present. One that will help our entire state. And, for that matter, our entire country.

I ask each of you to give 23 hours of your time over the next couple of weeks to help get out the vote.

23 hours over 12 days. Sounds like a lot, right? Well, consider that there are many campaign staffers across the state who work 12- to 16-hour days during campaign season, seven days a week, all for very little pay. And they'll be doing that for twelve more days!

If they can do it, so can you. And each of those staffers would hate, hate, hate for their candidate to lose after all the effort they invested in this election. Especially if it's very close - like recount-close.

So stop by your local campaign office and sign up for a few shifts of GOTV work. And don't forget what else you can do: Let the Justice Caucus know you'd like to help with their Supreme Challenge campaign. Maybe even give a few bucks. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. (As Election Day approaches, many papers have LTTE cutoff dates; any LTTEs submitted after that date will not be considered for publication - so get your letters in ASAP!)

You will help Democrats win races up and down the ballot. You will make new friends in the campaign office. You will help boost your chances of getting a leadership role in your local Democratic Party after the election (if you're into that kind of thing).

And you will help stun the pundits.

23 hours. That's not much of your time, when you think about it. And it's well worth the investment.

No regrets.

Let's leave it all on the field!


Bits of Tid: October 18, 2010

  • First, let us bid a sad farewell to Robert B. Jones. The State Representative and nominee for Senate District 20 died Sunday morning at 66.

    Many people are conditioned to think that ALL politicians are the problem, or that they are ALL out of touch. I think this comes from the bad-news-first/if-it-bleeds-it­-leads culture evident in so much of the media (though not conveyed in this piece by Rick, thankfully!), as well as by people's own closed-mindedness.

    The reality is, most people in public office are decent people who are passionate, yet civil. Among them was Robert Jones.

    Thank you, sir. You have helped open opportunity for many people; may you be welcomed in Heaven with open arms!

  • Robert Creamer lists Nine Reasons Why Democrats Will Keep Control of the House.

  • Not to brag, but I've signed up for FOUR Get-Out-the-Vote Shifts in the days leading up to the election.

  • Okay, does Senate nominee Joe Miller (R-AK) not think the First Amendment applies to journalists? Or does he just want to punish those who want to use their First Amendment rights against him? Either way, it's hard to argue that he supports freedom.

  • This is the 12th general election (i.e. Presidential or gubernatorial election) in which Ruth Johnson has appeared on the ballot. This is the fifth office she has sought in that time, having been elected to the County Commission for ten years, State House for six years, and Oakland County Clerk since 2005, while losing as Dick DeVos's running mate in 2006 in the middle of her first four-year term as Clerk (she's now in the middle of her second). Career politician? Nah, of course not!

  • Then there's Bill Schuette, who served six years in Congress, a couple years in the Engler administration, eight years as a state senator, and six years as a judge. Career politician? Nah, of course not!


EXCLUSIVE: Is Justin Amash violating the law? He's at least wasting taxpayer money

I got this in the mail today:

Notice that it's from Justin Amash. It lists his name and that he's currently State Representative.

Nothing wrong with that, you might think. State and federal lawmakers send these kinds of things to their constituents all the time. There probably would be nothing wrong with it had he not been running for anything this fall, or if he had lost the primary earlier on. If my state senator, Bill Hardiman, had sent it, I would not be making an issue out of it since he will not appear on this fall's ballot.

Except that there is something wrong with what Amash sent. He is the Republican nominee for Congress, we have just three weeks until the election, and people are voting absentee now. It's very difficult to believe that this mailer was not intended to benefit his campaign - to get people to believe that he wants them to be informed. Never mind that the ballot language is exactly the same as what voters will see on the ballot this fall. There's nothing that clarifies anything, or provides background, or does anything else besides repeating what the ballot will say anyway.

According to Michigan Compiled Law 169.247, emphasis mine:

(1) Except as otherwise provided in this subsection and subject to subsections (3) and (4), a billboard, placard, poster, pamphlet, or other printed matter having reference to an election, a candidate, or a ballot question, shall bear upon it the name and address of the person paying for the matter.

Well, it definitely has reference to an election! What it doesn't have is the required disclaimer.

A big issue here is how it was paid for. Was it paid for by the campaign? If so, it does not have the required disclaimer. Was it paid for by his State House office? If so, an argument could be made that he's using taxpayer dollars for campaign purposes - a BIG no-no. (Also, if it was from his State House office, one could make the political argument to the voters that he does not care about fiscal responsibility. But that's another matter altogether!)

I should note that we also received a perfectly legal campaign mailer from Amash today. Now, the fact that I received both items on the same day does not mean that they were sent at the same time or that they were meant to be delivered on the same day. But that could raise a few questions too.

UPDATE: I have heard from several sources that this perfectly legal. Fair enough. But still, it raises the question: Why is Amash wasting OUR tax dollars printing and mailing something that contains little more than the ballot questions as they will be worded on the ballot anyway?


Late-night jokes

From about.com:

"Christine O'Donnell was caught lying about her educational background. She may not believe in pleasuring herself, but she thought her resume needed massaging." —Craig Ferguson, on O'Donnell claiming she attended Oxford University

"Today we found out that a third college Christine O'Donnell said she attended has no record of ever knowing her. I'm starting to wonder if she ever really went to Hogwarts." —Bill Maher

"Sarah Palin was considering running for president, until she heard it was a four-year deal." —David Letterman

"Rahm Emanuel is leaving the Obama administration. He wants to become mayor of Chicago. If you're mayor of Chicago, that means you report directly to Oprah." —David Letterman

''Of course, a lot of right wingers are very upset about this because they believe this health care bill will cost a lot of money. You know what I think? Just pretend it's another unnecessary war. You'll feel better about it already.'' —Jay Leno

''Everyone is talking about Steven Slater, the flight attendant who cursed at a passenger, grabbed two beers, and slid down the escape slide, in what may be the best resignation ever. In fact he's so good at quitting, they're thinking about making him the next governor of Alaska.'' —Jimmy Kimmel

''Sarah Palin made her debut as a Fox News contributor tonight on 'The O'Reilly Factor.' I tried to record it, but my DVR quit halfway through.'' —Jimmy Fallon

''They say there are about 12 million illegal immigrants in this country. But if you ask a Native American, that number is more like 300 million.'' —David Letterman


Registering to vote and voting absentee - it's that time of election year again!

(Cross-posted at Michigan Liberal, Blogging for Michigan, West Michigan Rising, and Great Lakes, Great Times, Great Scott)

If you're reading this, you're probably registered to vote. Yay!

But you most likely have a few friends, relatives, coworkers, neighbors, roommates, etc., who are not registered.

You have two weeks to change that!

October 4 is the last day to register to vote in time for this fall's elections. Here's your voter-registration form, and here's the place to go to check to see if you're registered, so even if you know where you're registered, be sure to pass the word!

Speaking of voting, absentee ballots should be available this week, so if you haven't gotten your absentee application in, do so soon! (Okay, you can apply for an absentee ballot anytime between now and the Saturday before the election, October 30, but the sooner, the better!)

(PS: Anyone who has not registered to vote before should definitely register in person at their clerk's office, if possible. If they don't, they'll have to either vote in person on Election Day or apply for their absentee ballot in person at the clerk's office.)


Dems hit the airwaves

I have a couple of thoughts: One, the background music seems a little too relaxing, too cheery, if you will, to get the message across. Two, they should use more personal stories in their ads. I know the MDP is just launching their ad wars, but think about the personal story that was involved in the Sleeping Judge ad from 2008.

This ad by US Rep. Mark Schauer (D-MI-07) is also on the air, this time with the faces of some of the people who would be affected by Tim Walberg's policies:


Be It Further Resolved that It Is Hot and Humid Outside

We Precinct Delegates are delegates to three County Democratic Conventions between our election in August and early- to mid-February.

Saturday was the first such Convention, and at this one we elected individuals to serve on three State Convention Committees: Rules; Credentials; and Platform. We also adopted resolutions to be forwarded to the state Platform Committee for their consideration.

As I did last year, this weekend I introduced two resolutions that were adopted by the County Convention and forwarded to the State Platform Committee:


WHEREAS, the Michigan Democratic Party proudly supports the ideals of equality and freedom;

WHEREAS, it is through the internet that people become informed about issues, communicate with others, and learn what they need to know;

WHEREAS, internet neutrality, also known as ‘net neutrality,’ is the principle by which all website content is provided to internet users fairly. Under net neutrality, all websites are guaranteed a level playing field in terms of how quickly their content is delivered;

WHEREAS, net neutrality puts small businesses with limited resources on a level playing field with their larger competitors as it allows their website content to be delivered at the same rate at which other companies’ content is delivered;

WHEREAS, a number of large internet companies have lobbied Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to do away with net neutrality. If they succeed, these companies would be allowed to charge companies to allow their websites to load faster than others;

WHEREAS, allowing internet providers to do this would put businesses with limited financial resources at a disadvantage while inhibiting internet users’ ability to quickly and easily access the information they need;

WHEREAS, United States Senator Al Franken has called net neutrality “the First Amendment issue of our time,” while a wide range of companies and individuals, including President Obama, the Teamsters, the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft, all support net neutrality.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Kent County Democratic Party supports the principle of net neutrality and urges all members of Michigan’s congressional delegation to resist attempts to do away with this important provision.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Kent County Democratic Party encourages the Michigan Democratic Party Platform Committee to include language in the 2010 platform in support of the principle of net neutrality.


WHEREAS, the Kent County Democratic Party supports economic opportunity for all citizens, particularly the disadvantaged;

WHEREAS, Michigan’s current income tax rate is 4.35%;

WHEREAS, 34 other states and the federal government have a graduated income tax structure, by which individuals with lower incomes pay a smaller share of their income in taxes. All 34 states have lower unemployment rates than Michigan;

WHEREAS, Article IX, Section 7 of the Michigan Constitution prohibits the implementation of an income tax that is “graduated as to rate or base;”

WHEREAS, Michigan has dealt with significant budget shortfalls in recent years – shortfalls which may be addressed in part by a graduated income tax structure.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Kent County Democratic Party supports a Constitutional amendment to allow for a graduated income tax structure in Michigan;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Kent County Democratic Party encourages the Michigan Democratic Party Platform Committee to include language in the 2010 platform that supports such an amendment.


Bits of Tid: August 6, 2010

21 more weeks until Governor Bernero's inauguration!

  • Who's gonna be the next Lieutenant Governor? My favorite at the moment: Buzz Thomas. He has been a leader in the Legislature and has worked with more than a few of the lawmakers an LG is often expected to work with. But then, there are other good choices, including progressive favorite Alma Wheeler Smith. Had soon-to-be County Commissioner Ray Basham (author of the minimum-wage and smoking laws) or future Congressman Hansen Clarke (who has quite a rags-to-riches story to tell and is a genuinely wonderful public servant) lost their nomination bids Tuesday, I would've suggested either one of them.
  • Now, if Rick "Politicians got us into this mess" Snyder picks a politician to be his second banana, that might make him look like a hypocrite - thus solidifying his suppoort among the far 'right.' Perhaps it will be Cassis? Birkholz? Even Cox or Hoekstra to unify the Party of Palin? Heck, maybe Terri Lynn Land or Ruth Johnson - they know what it's like to be a running mate on a losing ticket. Actually I'm thinking he might pick McManus to throw open the race for Secretary of State (I remember Posthumus doing the opposite and picking Loren Bennett to unite the party behind Land for SOS in 2002). But again, to not look like a hypocrite he ought to pick someopne other than a politician - like Dick DeVos!
  • I tell you, it's an anti-incumbent, anti-politician year! Anyone else notice how many incumbents lost their renomination bids on Tuesday? Like, for example, um... uh... let me think here... Wait, the only two I know of are Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick and Kent County Commissioner Jim Vaughn, the latter having been convicted of a crime and the former having been Kwame's mother. And 100% of Democratic primary voters (not including write-ins) and 63% of Republican primary voters voted for a politician for governor, while politicians Bill Huizenga and Justin Amash won congressional primaries in which most Republican primary voters voted for, well, politicians (like Wayne Kuipers and Bill Hardiman). Upton, Kildee, Levin - all won convincingly as well.
  • Andy Dillon isn't quite endorsing Bernero yet. Here in West Michigan, the so-called 'liberal' media is making a big deal of this; which is no surprise, given how much they like to push the 'Democrats in disarray' meme without highlighting divisions within the Party of Palin. At any rate, I highly doubt that a lack of a Dillon endorsement would hurt Bernero that much (at least not enough to cost him the election).
  • Keep in mind that hardly anyone has a negative view of Snyder right now. When people learn about who he really is and what he's done, don't be surprised if people start liking Virg more and more (or at least becoming disenchanted with Snyder).
  • Tell me again how coming off as angry is supposed to hurt a candidate at a time when people are themselves angry?
  • Hey newly (re-)elected precinct delegates! Is there an issue about which you are dying to get your voice heard? Start writing your resolutions now for consideration at your County and District Democratic Conventions so that they will benoticed by those who write the State Party Platform! I plan on writing one for net neutrality, for instance.


Primary Highlighted by Urbanowski Wins

KENTWOOD, MI (ScottyUrb News) - Scott Urbanowski and his mother won their races for Democratic Precinct Delegate on Tuesday, the Kent County Clerk said Thursday.

Scott Urbanowski, 34 votes, was re-elected to a third term, while his mother, Karen Ann Urbanowski, received three votes as a write-in candidate. James Chase, who has been a precinct delegate at least as long as the younger Urbanowski, won with 28 votes.

"I'm humbled, I'm gratified, I'm happy, I'm delighted, and I'm good-looking," said Scott Urbanowski.

Scott thanked all of his supporters as well as the three people who voted for his mom - Scott himself, Scott's mom herself, and Scott's dad.

"I'd especially like to thank my parents, as well as my bird, Sniffles, and our dogs, Lucy and Phoebe."

"Given that my dad and I helped Mom win, we both expect her to repay us for helping her win," Scott said.

"Otherwise, we'll run a smear campaign next time!"

Critics, however, said Urbanowski relied too much on rookies for their support.

"He got his mom to run!" complained Betsy DeVos. "I would never get a relative to run for anything!"

"Not to mention that their new dog, Phoebe Hussein Osama, has been living with them for just three weeks! I wonder if she's here legally?"

Urbanowski said he got involved in the Democratic Party because "doing something is better than sitting on your McManus and doing nothing," referring to state Sen. Michele Bachmann-McManus, whom Republicans may nominate for Secretary of State.

"Democrats have a great slate of candidates running this time, including the populist mayor of Lansing, Virg Bernero, our next Governor; future Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson; future Attorney General David Leyton; our next 3rd District Congressman, Patrick Miles, Jr.; State Senator-to-be David LaGrand; and incumbent Kent County Commissioner Peter Hickey.

"Now if only we could do something about Socialist Kenyan Muslim Barry Husein bin Obomba."


Precinct delegate and convention deadlines are TODAY!

You know that song, "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to?" Well, if you want your crying to be heard throughout our local and state Democratic Parties, today - July 30 - is your last chance.

Today is the last day you can file to run as a write-in candidate for Precinct Delegate. Remember, many precincts have at least one or two more Precinct Delegate spots than candidates running, making it very easy for a write-in candidate to win. Mine is one such precinct, and Mom is running as a write-in. Grandma's precinct has zero Democrats running for four spots; if she was in better shape, I would have prodded her to run herself.

It's also the last day to join the MDP or renew your membership in time to vote at next month's Democratic State Convention.

I have been an MDP member and a Precinct Delegate for four years now, and I gotta say: It's a lot more fun to get involved than it is to sit on the sidelines whining.


I haven't made you laugh in a while

So let's do something about that! We'll start with some one-liners.

  • The first Ten Commandments are the hardest.
  • People who are wrapped up in themselves are overdressed.
  • An expert is someone called in at the last minute to share the blame.
  • A word of advice...don't give it.
  • If we made it illegal, do you think more people would vote?
  • I am logged in...therefore, I am.
  • A journey of a hundred miles starts with an argument over how to load the car.
  • Justice is blind and in some cases...deaf and dumb.
  • To belittle is to be little.
  • When fear knocks at the door, and you answer, there will be no one there.
  • Poverty is a condition with but one advantage, it doesn't take much to improve your lot.
  • The first rule of tinkering is to save all the parts.
  • I'm retiring in Mexico. Sunny, affordable and no predatory reverse mortgages.
  • A pessimist is a man who looks both ways before crossing a one-way street.
  • Management's job is to keep 'em too busy to look for other jobs.
  • Heredity is what sets the parents of a teenager wondering about each other.
  • Why are lawyers not sworn to tell the truth like all the witnesses in a jury trial?
  • Those who jump off a bridge in Paris are in Seine.
  • A man's home is his castle, in a manor of speaking.
  • A man needs a mistress just to break the monogamy.
  • A hangover is the wrath of grapes.
  • Reading while sunbathing makes you well red.
  • A bicycle can't stand on its own because it is two tired.
  • A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
  • When a clock is hungry, it goes back four seconds.
  • The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.
  • He often broke into song because he couldn't find the key.
  • He had a photographic memory that was never developed.

And finally, in honor of Phoebe, a golden lab whom we are adopting this week: Rules for dogs!
NEWSPAPERS: If you have to go to the bathroom while playing in the front yard, always use the newspaper that's placed in the driveway every morning for that purpose.
VISITORS: Quickly determine which guest is afraid of dogs. Charge across the room, barking loudly and leap playfully on this person. If the human falls down on the floor and starts crying, lick its face and growl gently to show your concern.
BARKING: Because you are a dog, you are expected to bark. So bark -- a lot. Your owners will be very happy to hear you protecting their house. Especially late at night while they are sleeping safely in their beds. There is no more secure feeling for a human than to keep waking up in the middle of the night and hearing your protective bark, bark, bark...
LICKING: Always take a BIG drink from your water dish immediately before licking your human. Humans prefer clean tongues. Be ready to fetch your human a towel.
HOLES: Rather than digging a BIG hole in the middle of the yard and upsetting your human, dig a lot of smaller holes all over the yard so they won't notice. If you arrange a little pile of dirt on one side of each hole, maybe they'll think it's gophers. There are never enough holes in the ground. Strive daily to do your part to help correct this problem.
DOORS: The area directly in front of a door is always reserved for the family dog to sleep.
THE ART OF SNIFFING: Humans like to be sniffed. Everywhere. It is your duty, as the family dog, to accommodate them.
DINING ETIQUETTE: Always sit under the table at dinner, especially when there are guests, so you can clean up any food that falls on the floor. It's also a good time to practice your sniffing.
HOUSEBREAKING: Housebreaking is very important to humans, so break as much of the house as possible.
GOING FOR WALKS: Rules of the road: When out for a walk with your master or mistress, never go to the bathroom on your own lawn.
COUCHES: It is perfectly permissible to lie on the new couch after all your humans have gone to bed.
PLAYING: If you lose your footing while chasing a ball or stick, use the flower bed to absorb your fall so you don't injure yourself.
CHASING CATS: When chasing cats, make sure you never quite catch them. It spoils all the fun.
CHEWING: Make a contribution to the fashion industry. ...Eat a shoe.

By the way, these were emailed to me.


Robert C. Byrd, Independence, and Change

(Fourth of July thoughts - sorry they're a few days late!)

Life is change. Life is what? Change. - Judson Laipply, speaking at Leadership Safari at Central Michigan University in 2005

Much has been said about Robert Byrd, his career, his life, and his longevity. There may not be much that I can add to the discussion, except for a few thoughts of my own.

Every life can teach us a lot. Senator Byrd's life is no different. Here's a man who was born into poverty, who lost his mother when he was a year old (and who himself could have easily fallen victim to the same influenza outbreak which killed her), and who transformed himself from leading his Ku Klux Klan chapter to leading the fight to preserve our Constitution.

The most important thing we can learn from Byrd's life and career is that nothing is permanent. People change, things change - change is the law of life.

A Changed Man

If you had told me that a former Ku Klux Klansman who would have rather lost his freedom than fight with blacks was in the US Senate, I would have been appalled. Likewise, I was quite disappointed several years ago to hear that Robert Byrd, whom I had already come to respect at that time, had a rather dark past.

But yes, it was true. Also true is that once in the Senate, he tried to filibuster the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and opposed Thurgood Marshall's nomination to the Supreme Court, among many other things.

Yet who else was there to stand up for the Constitution when it suffered abuse after abuse after abuse in his later years? And what a courageous stand he took in the run-up to the Iraq War - joining just 22 of his colleagues in saying no to one of the worst foreign-policy blunders any President has made. And he did vote to confirm our first Latino justice, Sonia Sotomayor.

It may seem that, in many respects, Byrd changed with the country - as other Americans became more accepting of minorities, Byrd himself shifted. I would agree, though I would also argue that Byrd shifted much more in the direction of liberty and justice for all than most people. Here was a man who went from the Klan to being one of the more liberal members of the Senate. But while blacks are no longer sprayed with firehoses, they still find it more difficult to thrive in our society than whites. And of course, they are not the only group to be denied equality.

A Changed Country

Yet, as hard as it may be to see it, change has happened. Just look at who's in the White House. Or consider that 150 years ago, people who looked like him were enslaved. Or what about the fact that some of the Founding Fathers were themselves slave-owners, including Thomas "All men are created equal" Jefferson.

We can be thankful that participation in our representative government is no longer limited to the aristocratic class - not being a property owner, I probably wouldn't have been allowed to vote in 1810, and even if I could vote, I wouldn't have been able to elect my state's US senators.

Yet I can still remember the chill that ran down my spine the first time I found myself in a voting booth. It was the primary election in 2006. Our fine Governor, Jennifer Granholm, and our smart Senator, Debbie Stabenow, were unopposed for renomination, though both faced potentially tough fall campaigns. I was happy to support them and other Democrats running unopposed, as well as a neighbor of mine who was running for Congress in the only contested Democratic primary on the ballot that year. I also voted for a judicial candidate and in favor of three ballot proposals in Kentwood.

Of course, I also got to vote for myself for the first time. I was one of three people running for three spots as Democratic precinct delegate that year. Needless to say, I won - and I'm glad I took my friend's advice to run in the first place.

Through voting and getting involved, I felt a sense of power - power to help choose our leaders, power to make my voice heard, power to make our community and country better.

Our Republic, Our Power, Our Responsibility

"But ScottyUrb," you might say. "Look at what's going on. Our government is broken. Congress is dysfunctional. Greed and arrogance reign supreme. Since when do we have any sort of power?" Well, I understand that sentiment. I'm ticked off about a lot of things related to government right now. But as the Declaration says:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The point? The government gets its power from us. Even the wealthiest, most entrenched politicians depend upon you and me for their continued (mis)use of power. It's up to us to choose whether they can keep that power, or whether it should be lent to someone else.

Change Will Happen - Good or Bad

The lesson of that history is that you must not despair, that if you are right, and you persist, things will change. -Howard Zinn

Zinn was right - except that I believe things will change no matter what. The world simply does not go on without changing. Times change. People change. Leaders change. Heck, even forms of government change. Life is change!

The question is whether or not that change will be for the better.

Just as Senator Byrd changed for the better, America has changed for the better since Mr. Byrd went to Washington. (Incidentally, he was a US Representative when Rosa Parks refused to take a back seat - literally and figuratively.) Yet we are still right to want more change for the better. Freedom to serve, regardless of who we love. Freedom of marriage. Freedom to be paid the same as our colleagues for doing the same work. Freedom of privacy.

How will we get that change? It all starts with believing that we can make that change. That's how we got Obama in the White House. It's how they ended segregation. it's how our Founders successfully broke apart from the Crown. Cynicism and pessimism aren't how we get things done; knowing that we have the ultimate power is how we will accomplish this change.

What kind of change will you help create? What will you do to bring about that change?

Will you sit around and complain that things are rigged, or that we're screwed?

Or will you actually take charge - like our Founding Fathers, and like those who have fought for equality over the years?


BREAKING: LeBron puts on socks, shoes; restroom visit imminent? (UPDATE: Now eating something)

SOMEWHERE (SNARX News) - NBA All-Star free agent LeBron James has put on some shoes and socks, sources close to the superstar tell SNARX News.

Meanwhile, there are unconfirmed reports that James may be heading to the bathroom in the immediate future.

James, whose contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers is expiring, has been courted by a few teams.

We will have more on our continuing nonstop coverage of every little move LeBron makes and every little word he says as LeBronathon 2010 continues, here on SNARX News.

UPDATE: Major breaking news!!! LeBron is currently eating. More on this pressing situation as it develops.


Bits of Tid: June 29, 2010

  • The 2nd quarter of fundraising ends at 11:59:59 tomorrow - don't forget to make a small contribution to your favorite candidates!
  • Rachel, how do I love thee?

    Of course, we learned today that the financial reform bill has had a couple of setbacks. But still, they say it is more likely than not to pass. And with Elena Kagan likely to join Sonia Sotomayor on the Supreme Court, the enormity of Obama's impact on our government is just now becoming apparent.
  • "Michigan NOW likes Virg," declares a headline from the Detroit News. Of course, they speak of the National Organization for Women:
  • Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero continues to rake in endorsements from traditional Democratic Party constituencies.
    Which goes to show who has more support from involved grassroots Democrats. At any rate, the article continues:
    But it remains to be seen whether the endorsements translate into campaign cash. Bernero has yet to run any TV ads, while his opponent in the Democratic primary, House Speaker Andy Dillon, on Monday launched his second spot.
    Ah, yes - reminders of how Dick DeVos got on the air early and was easily elected over Granholm. Oh wait - didn't happen like that, did it?
  • More reason to like Daily Kos: Time Magazine thinks it's "overrated." Kind of reminds me of when Carl Levin was talking about the Washington Post attacking him - he said that was "a badge of honor. I never made Nixon's Enemies list, and I wanted to make up for it ever since."
  • I'll have some thoughts on Robert Byrd in a few days.


Democrats still in solid contention for governor's race

Or at least that's what Rasmussen says.

Before I say anything else, let me state that I'm hardly a fan of polls. After all, only two of them will matter: The one taken on August 3, and the one taken on November 2.

But if even rRasmussen says the Democratic candidates are not trailing the Republicans by very much at this point, I do believe there is something that we ought to take from this polling.

It ain't over yet.


MI-Gov: Rick Snyder (R) 42%, Virg Bernero (D) 30%
MI-Gov: Mike Cox (R) 40%, Virg Bernero (D) 34%
MI-Gov: Peter Hoekstra (R) 39%, Virg Bernero (D) 36%
MI-Gov: Rick Snyder (R) 41%, Andy Dillon (D) 33%
MI-Gov: Mike Cox (R) 39%, Andy Dillon (D) 37%
MI-Gov: Peter Hoekstra (R) 40%, Andy Dillon (D) 35%

It's safe to say Dillon and Bernero don't have as much name recognition as Cox, Hoekstra, or Snyder. On that alone, they should be doing a lot worse in these head-to-head matchups.

Notice, also, that the Republicans are also polling significantly under the all-important 50%. They also do so in other polls. Normally that's not a good sign for an incumbent to be under 50%, I would also argue that given their name recognition, this is not good And for much the same reason: Just as voters usually know a thing or two about an incumbent, they should also know a thing or two about these three Republicans.

So why am I mentioning all of this? After all, I just said that I'm not a fan of polls!

Well, what it says is that this election is not over yet. When people know more about Virg and/or Andy, one can reasonably expect that their numbers will rise. Right now it's"the devil you kind of know or at least have heard about" versus "the devil you don't know." When it's "two devils you kind of know or at least have heard about," our "devils" will fare better.

Gone are the days of many Democrats fearing that the governor's race was all but lost. Instead, the focus in Democratic circles seems to be upon the candidates themselves.

Speaking of polls, I read somewhere that 70% of Michigan Republicans say they are more excited about voting in 2010 than they were in 2008. Meanwhile, "only" 42% of Democrats feel that way. Kind of surprising that a full 42% on our side say they are actually more eager to vote this year than in the Year of Hope, Change, and a 15-point win for Obama in Michigan. (Don't tell the Press, which considered that "grim" news for Democrats.)


Some jokes I've received via email

This may come as a surprise to those of you not living in Las Vegas, but there are more Catholic Churches than casinos in Vegas.

Not surprisingly, some worshippers at Sunday Mass will give casino chips rather than cash when the basket is passed.

Since they get chips from many different casinos, the Churches have devised a method to collect the offerings.

The Churches send all their collected chips to a nearby Franciscan monastery for sorting and then the chips are taken to the casinos of origin and cashed in.

This is done by the chip monks.

One bright, beautiful Sunday morning, everyone in tiny Smithville wakes up early and goes to their local church. Before the service starts, the townspeople sit in their pews and talk about their lives, their families, etc.

Suddenly, at the altar, Satan appears!! Everyone starts screaming and running for the front entrance, trampling each other in their determined efforts to get away from Evil Incarnate.

Soon, everyone is evacuated from the church except for one man, who sits calmly in his pew, seemingly oblivious to the fact that G~d's ultimate enemy is in his presence. This confuses Satan a bit.

Satan walks up to the man and says, "Hey, don't you know who I am?"

The man says, "Yep, I sure do."

Satan says, "Well, aren't you afraid of me?"

The man says, "Nope, I sure ain't."

Satan, perturbed, asks, "And why aren't you afraid of me?"

"Well, I've been married to your sister for 25 years."

One of my husband's duties as a novice drill instructor at Fort Jackson, S.C., was to escort new recruits to the mess hall. After everyone had made it through the chow line, he sat them down and told them, "There are three rules in this mess hall: Shut up! Eat up! Get up!"

Checking to see that he had everyone's attention, he asked, "What is the first rule?"

Much to the amusement of the other instructors, 60 privates yelled in unison, "Shut up, Drill Sergeant!"

The dessert chef was very smart. He had graduated Pie Baker Kappa.

You gotta be careful of corn at night. They can be early creepy with their husky voices and seedy appearance. Why, they even cob right out and tell you to shuck it right to your face.

Cheddar is as Gouda cheese as any American could wish for, and while we Edam all that is something one could never Provolone.

The Alpine Skiing competition started poorly and went downhill from there.

My girlfriend scares me, so every time we go to dinner it's intimi-dating.

I thought the telescope was broken, but after looking into it further, I found out it was not.blockquote>


Bits of Tid: June 5, 2010

  • John Fugelsang has some good tweets on Twitter. One good one recently:

    The spill isn't Bush or Obama's Katrina. It's Deregulation's Chernobyl.

  • Steve Benen raises an important question: Why is President Obama being criticized for doing what other Presidents were not criticized for doing? Examples Benen cites include bowing; appointing 'czars;' and even casual dress.
  • Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Rep. John Dingell have taken steps to declare on a governmental level that Andres Gallaraga did, in fact, pitch a perfect game. Normally I'm against that kind of thing, but if this is all Dingell or Granholm had done this year, they still would have done more to stand up for what's right than certain other politicians.
  • Alice Corey died this week at 59. Those of you who live in Michigan's 3rd Congressional district, she was one of our delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. I won't soon forget the passion she showed when she was elected as a delegate in April of that year.
  • John Wooden, who also died this week at 99, gave us so many good quotes that I can't decide which is my favorite. One I like:

    Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.

    Wooden would know.
  • Finally, for some good news: I have been elected the new Grand Knight for Knights of Columbus Council 4362! That means I will be in charge of the Council starting on July 1.


Bits of Tid: May 27, 2010

Lots of Good News Edition

  • First of all: Sorry I haven't been blogging much recently. I recently experienced a significant event in my life - an event best known as 'graduating from college.'

    It was pretty neat - I mean, minus the minute or two of hail and the holding-on-to-my-hat-so-the-wind-wouldn't-blow-it-off part. But I'm proud to have joined the ranks of about 180,000 other people in becoming alumni of Central Michigan University. Fire Up Chips!
  • Speaking of which, a random fact: I graduated from East Kentwood High School five years ago today - May 27, 2005.
  • In other good news: Unlike in 2008, when I was one of three candidates on the ballot for two positions as Precinct Delegate in my precinct, this time it's the other way around. I'm one of two people running for three spots - which means there's a 99.999% chance I will be re-elected!
  • After my one-vote re-election victory in 2008, one of the things I did in my role as Precinct Delegate was to introduce two resolutions - one of which deals with the ban on gay men from giving blood, while the other discussed higher education funding. Both resolutions were adopted by the Kent County and Michigan Democratic Parties.

    Well, I probably shouldn't take too much credit for this, but the feds may be on the verge of lifting that ban!
  • BP might be facing criminal charges.
  • Bill Schuette hasn't even been nominated for Attorney General by the Republicans - yet the Michigan Democratic Party is already going after him. Why? I don't know for sure, but click the link to see my thoughts.
  • Finally - speaking of giving blood - let me remind you that there is always a need for blood. Have you given blood lately? If you haven't given blood since April 1, head on over to Michigan Blood's website and find a blood center or blood drive near you.


A Big Weekend for the Granholm Legacy

undefinedI was watching Off the Record a couple of months ago when they were reviewing Governor Jennifer Granholm's State of the State address. Tim Skubick said that the governor had "made history" by becoming the first governor to preside over an economic downturn, but not an upturn. Never mind that we still had 11 months to go, or that, by most accounts, the downturn began in earnest under Engler.

Still, it's no surprise to se that the economy is weighing on people's minds, both when it comes to this year's election, and when it comes to looking at the legacy of the incumbent.

However, if you ask me, this governor's legacy extends beyond the latest unemployment figures. It strikes at the heart of what she has been able to do, despite stiff opposition from greedy opponents in the Legislature hell-bent on stopping her at every turn

To me, this governor's legacy has a great deal to do with the pledge she made in 2002: To fight to protect our families and educate our kids. despite all of the obstacles she has faced, she has fulfilled that pledge. And this weekend shows why.

THURSDAY: The Canadian government has made a rather generous offer: They have agreed to pick up Michigan's tab for the new DRIC bridge that is being proposed for Detroit. Estimates indicate that this new bridge could mean some 10,000 new jobs for Michigan.

FRIDAY: I'm not the biggest fan of Oprah Winfrey, but when I heard that our esteemed Governor would sign Michigan's new anti-texting ban on Oprah's show, I knew I had to watch. Here's the magic moment for you to enjoy. The law takes effect July 1.

SATURDAY: Today is the day Michigan's no-smoking ban goes into effect. Like the DRIC bridge and the texting while driving ban, the smoking ban is good for our state - and has been supported by nearly all Democrats and even a few Republicans.


While I definitely don't think she has been perfect (no governor is), I am proud of our Governor for all she has done in the past 88 months top protect our families and educate our kids. Thanks to her efforts, more jobs have been created and retained, our air is a little bit cleaner, and Michigan is a safer place in which to drive.

And that's not a bad legacy to leave!


ScottyUrb faces stiff challenge in re-election bid for Precinct Delegate

KENTWOOD, MI (Unassociated Press/Snarx News) - Scott Urbanowski, the funny and mildly attractive blogger known on the series of tubes as ScottyUrb, has filed to run for a third term as Democratic Precinct Delegate in Kentwood - beginning what is expected to be a contentious campaign for re-election for the 22-year-old activist, blogger, and soon-to-be Central Michigan University graduate.

"There has been no greater spokesperson for truthiness, justice, and the American way," said Urbanowski, who ran as Stephen T. Colbert's vice-presidential running mate.

While Urbanowski is used to facing competition - he won by one vote in the 2008 election - this time will be different. In the wake of the controversial Citizens United v. FEC decision, he expects many serious contenders in his bid for re-election.

Among them are:

HAL E. BURTON - Comes from, ahem, a well-oiled machine.

CARL ISLE - See above.

WALLY MART Known for sexist tendencies. Claims foreign-policy experience; takes credit for supporting economy of Communist China.

AL TICOR - Formerly known as Amway. Dream Job: Host of The $100,000,000,000 Pyramid Scheme.

GOLDMAN SACHS - HUGE campaign war chest.

TOY OTA - Campaign slogan: "No Slowing Down!"

DOM INOS - Campaigning on its "new taste" and "pizzazz."

J.P. MORGAN CHASE - Notably quiet on the bailout issue.

AL COA - Campaign slogan: "We Deserve A Metal."

CAT R. PILLAR - Accused of dirty deals, they say they're well-grounded.

MIKE ROSOFT - Slogan: "Voting for librulz doesn't compute!"


Why I'm Supporting David Leyton for Attorney General

One thing about being a Democrat is, when it comes to candidates for offices, we often have an embarrassment of riches. Deciding which candidates to support for the Democratic nomination can be a difficult - albeit exciting - task! In 2008, for instance, I was so impressed with Edwards, Obama, and Richardson that it took me quiote a while to finally back the Obama campaign.

Such is the case with this year's race for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General here in Michigan. I have had the chance to hear both of them speak, and each has a solid record of standing up for the people - which is something I like in a Democratic candidate! Each is also impressive in his own way and, I believe, is capable of taking on whichever excuse for a candidate the Republicans put up.

But after much thought, David Leyton has earned my vote at tomorrow's MDP Endorsement Convention.

Great leaders are willing to make difficult decisions that will benefit the people they lead. Leyton has served as Genesee County Prosecutor for more than five years; in this role he has had to tackle crime in one the most crime-ridden locales in the state, while managing a prosecutor's office that has not enjoyed the easiest time when it comes to the budget. Right now, Michigan needs an Attorney General who will do more with less - and the fact that Leyton has that prosecutorial and public-administration experience under his belt is what, in my mind, separates him from Bernstein.

Speaking of Bernstein, what really amazes me is that he has done all he has done - becoming an attorney, winning countless cases for regular folks, and, oh yes, running 12 Ironman triathlons - while blind! And, to quote from his website:

Bernstein appears frequently in court where he commits entire case files to memory.
That takes a lot of hard work - but we could use a few more hard workers in state government!

But Leyton has time and time proven that he too is a hard worker and a champion of the people. And when I heard each of the talk, both of them spoke extensively about many different issues -including protecting seniors, the disabled, the less fortunate, consumers, and the environment. As I said, they are both very capable public servants.

But while I think Bernstein's future remains bright, tomorrow my vote will go to Prosecutor David Leyton to be our Party's endorsee for Attorney General.

Help support our troops at the MDP Endorsement Convention!

I hope you are looking forward to this weekend's Michigan Democratic Party Endorsement Convention like I am!

As you know, we have an important duty to fulfill on Saturday, as we endorse candidates for Secretary of State and Attorney General. But while we fulfill this important obligation in Detroit, we would do well to remember the selfless service of our troops thousands of miles away, whose job it is to protect the very freedom that allows us to choose our leaders.

Thanks to the Michigan Democratic Party Youth Caucus, Saturday will present us with an excellent chance to make life easier for some of our men and women in uniform!

The Youth Caucus will have a table set up at Cobo Hall on Saturday so you can drop off some items that will be sent to a unit overseas.

Among the items most needed and wanted over there are:

• Wet wipes/baby wipes (in high demand)
• Magazines
• Non-perishable snacks
• Non-perishable canned food (small cans, please!)
• Packets for coffee and hot chocolate
• Lemonade/Kool-Aid/Gatorade mix
• Hygiene products
• Toiletries - toothpaste, mouthwash, etc.
• Comics
• CDs and DVDs
• Playing cards
• Paperback books
• Calling cards
• Envelopes

These are just some of the items that would help greatly. The major restrictions are that we cannot send alcohol, pornography, weapons, or perishable food.

Given all that our troops are going through for us, helping to make their deployments easier is the least we can do. So, on this Saturday, as we take advantage of our right to endorse two of our Party's nominees, please take this opportunity to thank those who serve our country. Please consider bringing a few of the aforementioned items to the Convention, and pass the word to everyone you know who plans on coming!


Why I Support Jocelyn Benson for Secretary of State

Over the next couple of days, I will be sharing with you which candidates I am supporting for the Democratic nominations for Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General. We will, of course, be voting to endorse candidates for Secretary of State and Attorney General at this weekend's Endorsement Convention, but while we don't vote on the Governor's race until August, I have settled on a candidate. I'll share my preferred candidates for Governor and AG later in the week.

First off is the race for Secretary of State. We have two Democratic candidates, but one of them stands out and has shown that she is capable of being a solid Secretary of State. That candidate is Jocelyn Benson.

She has been a national leader in advancing fairness and justice in our elections and our society as a whole. She has worked for the DNC, the SPLC, the Harvard Civil Rights Project, and - like Jennifer Granholm - she was a clerk for Judge Damon J. Keith. She has also fought off one attempt to close a Secretary of State branch and an attempt to prevent victims of foreclosure from voting. She also achieved tenure as a professor of election law at Wayne State University and has published a book on best practices of secretaries of state.

Benson's broad platform includes removing barriers that often face would-be voters; cracking down on election fraud and intimidation; easing voter registration; supporting consumers' rights; improving customer service at the Secretary of State branches.

More importantly, however, seems to be her dedication to listening to people and making good use of their input. I'm involved with both the Kent and Isabella Democratic Parties, and Jocelyn has met with both County Parties more than once. She demonstrated very early in the campaign that unlike many politicians, she is a listener.

No wonder she's racked up so many endorsements: more than half of the county parties; countless state lawmakers and local officials; and several caucuses, unions, and other progressive organizations are joining Jocelyn's campaign.

On paper, Janice Winfrey does have some accomplishments about which she can boast. She has served as City Clerk for Detroit and has done some things to ensure election integrity in Detroit. However, her Vision page on her website is lacking.

It is Jocelyn Benson whose record and vision are what Michigan needs now. She is the one who has the ideas, dedication, and willingness to listen and understand that, if elected, would make her a truly remarkable public servant. That is why I will be proud to vote for her this Saturday.