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John Oliver notes Aramark's unique maggot-based prison menu

by: Eric B.

Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 13:48:04 PM EDT

This is great.

Remember, what Michigan has done is part of a nationwide trend. So when he talks about privatized medical service in Arizona using sugar to prevent infection in a C-section, he's talking about something that could happen in Michigan should we take privatizing Corrections to the logical extreme.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Detroit suspends water shutoffs; Fried Chicken Frank has a sad

by: Eric B.

Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 12:00:00 PM EDT

Just as the headline reads (except for the Fried Chicken Frank part, which I made up).

Detroit — The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is suspending water shut-offs for 15 days starting Monday.

The department is facing criticism worldwide for mass shutoffs that have turned off water to 15,200 customers since March, but department spokesman Bill Johnson said the move is not a concession in the high-profile political fight.

“This is a pause. This is not a moratorium,” he said. “We are pausing to give an opportunity to customers who have trouble paying their bills to come in and make arrangements with us. We want to make sure we haven’t missed any truly needy people.”

Saw a different report this morning about how there are a bunch of abandoned buildings in Detroit with water flowing unchecked into their basements. If true, perhaps what they ought to focus on is preventing those losses to the system rather than shutting off water for inhabited homes and apartments.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

With six you get Gadsden flag

by: Eric B.

Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 11:05:25 AM EDT

I suppose attention needs to be paid around these parts to this summer's nonsense in Vassar. I was going to a week or o ago, because someone published a story with a bunch of hilarious photos of people walking around with Gadsden flags and guns and a sign that said that Jesus wouldn't break laws (apparently someone has confused Jesus with Ward Cleaver, which I guess is pretty understandable). That opportunity came and went, but there was another one this morning. I think this quote from the story sums up America, 2014 excellently.

“I don’t understand the guns,” said Jake Jacobson, a retired airline pilot from Lake Odessa.

That's in response to people walking around the town heavily armed saying things like this:

“If you allow the immigrants to take over, the country will be destroyed,” said Krol, 56, a building contractor from Linden.

and this:

“My rattle is rattling,” Krol said. “Next is the bite.”

What in Hell does any of that mean? Fuck if I know. But, I think we can enjoy the joke built into the first one.

We have a problem with child immigrants, and not only do these clowns go to a town they don't live in and start trying to strong arm local merchants into sharing their opinions but they've made it all about firearms.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Weekend open thread

by: Eric B.

Sat Jul 19, 2014 at 12:52:44 PM EDT

I realize probably many of you are right now at Netroots Nation. I'm not. I've had a few people ask why not and the answer is pretty simple: I work weekends, have a child and hate crowds. Instead, I spent time in my garden this morning: Six zuchinni, a pepper, a crown of broccoli and the season's first green beans were my reward. One of the zuchinni I immediately gave to a neighbor to bribe her for her continued support in an ongoing Facebook feud with another neighbor (one of the other zuchinni I gave to him). I've got a friend who is a poor college student who I've been giving excess produce to all summer, and she'll probably get one or two more (if you have any impoverished millenials in your neighborhood, consider starting your own Feed a Millenial program ... the heartfelt thanks from one member from the Most Fucked Generation in Mankind's History will gladden you).

For the rest of you not at Netroots Nation (or are, but are taking breaks) and not stealing from my garden, the thread is hereby open.

Discuss :: (12 Comments)

Nancy Kaffer writes something smart about Detroit's water crisis

by: Eric B.

Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 14:00:00 PM EDT

Fried Chicken Frank's column this morning on the Detroit water thing was the awfulest thing written about it yet. It's about how the real victim in the shutoffs are suburbanites and if you had any lingering doubts that Fried Chicken Frank is something of a racist this should erase them. We can debate the merits of whether the water department should just be up and shutting off people's water, especially since there are apparently two different policies regarding residential water and water for businesses but attacking a bankruptcy judge because he didn't take the time to listen to suburbanite whining is the very essence of white privilege.

I would advise skipping the column. It adds nothing of value to this issue and will only make you think about those two minutes you'll never get back, plus the one minute thinking about those two minutes.

Go instead and read Nancy Kaffer's column, which unlike both the columns written by Nolan Finley and Fried Chicken Frank, appears to have involved research and thought.

Let’s be absolutely clear about a few things: Water isn’t free. Nor should it be. It takes money to treat and deliver water to residential and commercial customers. In Detroit, water shutoffs continue, despite international criticism, and strong words from the federal judge overseeing the city’s municipal bankruptcy case. After shutoffs, most residents pay up promptly, restoring service. Those numbers notwithstanding, it’s unavoidably true that some Detroiters can’t pay what they owe.

The only quibble I have is that water is free. If you live in Detroit, you can walk to the Detroit River and help yourself to as much water as you'd like and no one will ask you for a red cent. What costs is treating it and transporting it to your home.

But, beyond that it's an excellent column that does more than just stake out a stark position, either that poor people shouldn't have their water turned off under any circumstances or that the people who are getting their water turned off deserve it because they are terrible.

It asks this question: Should we deliver water as a fee-for-service, or do something else. These paragraphs are especially helpful.

Residential consumers are a small part of total water consumption (agriculture sucks down the most). Indoor residential use is defensible as essential, Beecher said, but not so with outdoor uses, such as watering lawns.

Fee-for-service, she said, serves a purpose apart from funding the system: Paying by volume encourages responsible water consumption.

That second is something everyone who thinks that water service should be free needs to remember. We in Michigan have a lot of water. We're blessed with it, but it also does the disservice of convincing us that water conservation isn't important.

Some media outlet ran a story pretty recently on the plight of Las Vegas that highlights this. Their main source of water is going dry and they're still talking unrestrained growth. It's idiotic. It's also admittedly not Michigan, but whether an approach to paying for something encourages wise usage or waste is important to sorting it all out.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Terri Lynn Land ad says Gary Peters a creature of Wall Street money

by: Eric B.

Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 11:06:47 AM EDT

What a strange week to release this ad:

Keep in mind that in talking about BIG MONEY behind Gary Peters, Terri Lynn Land is the same person who had a mysterious $3 million show up in her campaign account (how long until someone who runs with Fried Chicken Frank starts speculating some kind of nefarious donation by Tom Steyer?).

It's not a bad ad, all things considered, but it also frankly smells of desperation.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Goat Killer says homosexuality is sexual perversion

by: Eric B.

Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 10:37:40 AM EDT

Set the "Goat Killer says something offensive and moronic" clock back to zero. Courtesy a Progress Michigan press release that says the following was posted around 9:30 a.m.

Families are the most important element in a nation. Sexual perversion ruins a nation. Political correctness allows it. Silence out of fear by our politicians perpetuates it. What are your representatives and senators saying about it?

Because the Michigan Republican Party refuses to get rid of him as its national committee man, instead blaming its internal documents for having to keep around such a public embarrassment, this statement can be interpreted to be an official position of the Michigan Republican Party.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Yes, Nolan Finley, you do in fact have a right to water

by: Eric B.

Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 17:11:00 PM EDT

Nolan Finley decided to write something about the Detroit water shutoffs. It's something that, like a lot of what Nolan Finley writes, did not in fact need to be written, but he doesn't understand that so went ahead and wrote it anyway.

We start with the headline.

There is no right to free water

Well you do have a right to free water if you live in Michigan. The reason why you have a right to free water is because, if you are a resident of Michigan, you have rights of ownership over water. If you want to do something with the water -- drink it untreated -- then you have the absolute right to free water. And, by the way, if you live in the country and have a well, you don't pay anyone for access to the well water. You pay to have the well sunk. The water is yours for free.


There's More... :: (2 Comments, 1176 words in story)

MDP unveils smartphone app to let you apply for an absentee ballot

by: Eric B.

Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 16:03:28 PM EDT

This seems really smart.

Detroit will become the first city in Michigan to allow residents to apply for absentee ballots by touch-screen-enabled phones, officials announced Wednesday.

Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey and Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson announced the initiative at the city’s elections headquarters, saying the effort is to reach out to people ages 18-35 who might otherwise not get involved in the electoral process.

People in that age group “are the least engaged, yet they have cell phones attached to their hips,” Winfrey said. “So why not allow them to use their cell phones to apply to vote” by absentee ballot?

Here's the website.

Like I said, this seems like a really smart idea and obviously rolling it out in Detroit is a way to boost voter participation by the Democratic base.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Terri Lynn Land and the mysterious $3 million

by: Eric B.

Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 15:10:38 PM EDT

I hate it when this happens.

WASHINGTON — Republican U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land has given her own campaign nearly $3 million this year and last, but nowhere in her federal financial disclosure form has she listed any bank accounts or other assets in her control worth that much.

Her campaign says it’s an oversight, claiming Land — who for two terms as Michigan’s secretary of state oversaw the enforcement of election laws — inadvertently failed to disclose a joint account she has with her husband, Dan Hibma.

Remember four months ago when the Beltway press was saying she had a shot to win because she was such a terrific candidate? Yeah, don't believe anything those people say.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

It's tough to keep the maggots out of the food when the workers are getting busy in the cooler

by: Eric B.

Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 09:40:14 AM EDT

Smell the savings.

LANSING — In a development a Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman said was “unprecedented,” four Aramark prison workers at Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia were fired today for having inappropriate sexual contact withinmates inside a walk-in cooler, a Corrections Department official confirmed.

This is excellent. File this, and the shit wages these people are no doubt paid, in the folder marked, "To attract talent, you need to pay talent."

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

John Dingell tweets something hilarious

by: Eric B.

Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 10:19:36 AM EDT

Abot a minute ago, John Dingell -- or whoever in John Dingell manages his social media feeds -- sent out this Tweet.

House GOP now officially the dog that caught the car. Suing POTUS for a policy they oppose in a bill they oppose. Knaves & know-nothings.

It's the greatest John Dingell comment since he told Fried Chicken Frank that he was spreading useless terror about Obamacare.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Today in campaign news: Byrnes challenges Tim Walberg to debates

by: Eric B.

Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 16:00:00 PM EDT

*--That thing in the headline. It's true. She wants to debate Tim Walberg seven times, which should make Graham Davis very happy.

*--Bobby McKenzie's campaign has announced that it has been endorsed by Jim Blanchard, former governor.

*--Lil Fella has been endorsed by Ted Cruz.

Discuss :: (11 Comments)

Vanguard poll has our benevolent overlord up by 8; Marist poll says things are closer

by: Eric B.

Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 14:40:17 PM EDT

Two polls are out today on the governor's race.

First things first, the one poll that everyone was sharing this morning comes courtesy Michigan Liberal's current sponsor, Vanguard Public Affairs, which is run by T.J. Bucholz, who is a personal friend of mine (I stood in his wedding, matter of fact). I've been meaning to do a sponsorship post for him, and hit him up yesterday to ask him if he's got anything interesting for me to share about his new launch. He told me that he was releasing this poll and I thought maybe putting the polling information in a sponsorship post to make it more interesting. But, it's legitimate front page content, so I opted to do a post. A second poll came out showing a different result, so there are two of them in this post. Point is that this post is totally unrelated to a money relationship.

Just so that's out there.

Vanguard Public Affairs' first statewide poll is out and it has our benevolent overlord up by 8 points. Meanwhile, a separate poll from Marist says that the race is a statistical dead heat. At that second link, it says that both the Cook Report and Real Clear Politics have moved the race into the Tossup category.

As I've mentioned previously, I'm not a big fan of horserace coverage. I think reporters who do it should focus on telling people something more substantive about the campaigns and what impact each candidate might have on our lives. I also think that they are better are predicting outcomes if everyone behaves exactly as they did the last cycle, which isn't the case this time. I've also been told that Lon Johnson thinks that if the Democrats can hold the race to within five percentage points that he likes his chances of toppling our benevolent overlord. My response is to arch an eyebrow and pop a little corn, 'cause things might get interesting.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

The difference between opinion journalism, having an opinion and propaganda

by: Eric B.

Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 14:14:38 PM EDT

Last week or something, Bridge Magazine published a column from Greg McNeilly responding to the Freep's year-long investigation into whether charter schools are working and how they spend tax dollars. McNeilly, by the way, works for Dick DeVos' school voucher organization, so it's safe to assume that he's got strong biases simply coming to the table. Lots of people complained, most prominently Jack Lessenberry, and today Bridge responded to those critics essentially by saying that opinions are like assholes.

Bridge has two missions. Our primary mission is data-driven, in-depth policy and current events reporting – covering the how and the why of the news in an era of media retrenchment, where traditional journalists don’t always have time to dig deeper. The second mission is very different: to provide a diverse, blunt and vibrant soapbox for smart thinkers in our state.

Data-driven journalism used to go by a very similar term: Journalism. Not sure when this all changed.

The larger question revolves around what Bridge is seeking in opinion writing. We view these columns as an online speakers’ corner, where folks across the political spectrum can sound off on issues of the day, whether they’re policy experts, political leaders or ordinary residents who happen to care deeply about Michigan.

Here's the problem with this: Columns and unsigned editorials are still a form of journalism. That is, even if they are strong and passionate, they still need to be rooted in facts. That is, opinion journalism is still supposed to be what we today call data journalism. It's not just some guy with something he'd like to blow out of his nose.

This is where McNeilly's "column" was such a disappointment. His rebuttal to the Freep's investigation was to simply say, "You're wrong." So, it wasn't journalism. It was partisan shouting. And, since he works on behalf of the same basic thing as charter schools -- replacing traditional schools with something else (and far worse) -- then it doesn't even rise to having an opinion. We call it propaganda.

And, finally, we get to an affirmative action program conservatives can finally get behind.

We demand clear writing, delivered with passion. The best columns provoke a response. They address policy issues but in a way that is engaging. If i’m being honest, not every commentary will meet this bar. Some may be less than inspiring, others overly wonky or lacking in fresh perspective. I also believe we must do more to attract conservative voices in our guest writings.

That last sentence is a terrible, unfortunate approach to journalism. It guarantees that what you get is terrible journalism, kind of like what Bridge published in the McNeilly column. It also usually means that the person you get to write for you assumes that everything they write has to be from a particular partisan point of view rather than how they interpret facts.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)
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