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Today in campaign news: The race to replace Koo-Koo Kerry makes a list

by: Eric B.

Tue Sep 23, 2014 at 16:30:00 PM EDT

*--Specifically, The Hill's list of sleeper races around the country. This paragraph is a thing of beauty

Bentivolio also seems ready to kamikaze into Trott’s campaign as vengeance for his primary drubbing, telling The Hill last week that he’s “seriously considering” a write-in bid for the seat that would steal votes from Trott and could make the difference in a close contest.


Discuss :: (1 Comments)

CapCon sees Talk Like a Pirate resolution as a good excuse to bayonet the wounded

by: Eric B.

Tue Sep 23, 2014 at 15:52:25 PM EDT

Headline and sub-header on a CapCon post from earlier today.

Senate Approves 'Talk Like a Pirate' Resolution

Good thing they have all the important stuff solved

The second paragraph.

Fiscal Policy Director Michael LaFaive wrote about this very issue last year, noting that such meaningless resolutions are the best evidence yet that Michigan should have a part-time Legislature.

Today in cognitive dissonance.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

WDIV does a climate change webcast that everyone should go watch

by: Eric B.

Tue Sep 23, 2014 at 15:12:55 PM EDT

One of the most aggravating political developments from the last couple of decades has been the poitization of science. It annoys me just as much when liberals and progressives talk about climate change as a partisan issue without being able to actually talk about the science behind it as it does when conservatives point to a cold weather forecast and bellow, "See! See! Where's your climate change now, homos!" It's an important issue, and beyond that the science is actually really interesting, and it deserves better than to be carved up into partisan talking points.

Early this afternoon, Paul Gross, a meteorologist with WDIV in Detroit hosted a webcast that is about the most stellar thing I've seen a mainstream media outlet do on climate change. It's archived here. Everyone, even people who think they are very knowledgeable about it because of stuff they've read in left-leaning media, should watch this.

What's the point of the webcast? It's a simple, basic explanation of the science behind climate change, what it is, what it means, and -- while avoiding getting all jargon-y (like referring to things as negative and positive feedbacks) -- what is happening and might happen. The only thing I would add to any of this (besides referring to Fried Chicken Frank's media contribution on this issue as "deeply childish and ignorant") is that global warming is the cause nd climate change is the effect. That is, we're loading up the atmosphere with heat trapping gases that causes it to warm, which results in changes to global climate patterns. But, beyond that, it's stellar science journalism.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Every independent, undecided voter across the state breathes a deep sigh of relief

by: Eric B.

Tue Sep 23, 2014 at 11:12:52 AM EDT

I got a terrifying email last night while I was at my day job. Very Serious Persons won an important victory in the War of Political Theater.


Michigan voters won't be deprived of a proper discussion between the men who want to be their chief executive, thanks to a late-hour effort to move both campaigns into the same space on how, where and when a structured, televised town hall forum could take place.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and his challenger, Democratic former congressman Mark Schauer, deserve credit for being open enough to the possibility that this could get done.

So, we'll spend a bunch of time leading up to this "debate" talking about the "debate," and then everyone who is interested in politics wil watch the debate while everyone else -- 95 percent of independent, undecided voters -- will watch something else. After it's over, everyone who is interested in politics and has already mostly made up their minds about who they're going to vote for will talk endlessly about who won the debate and who scored points, while everyone else -- 95 percent of independent, undecided voters -- will yawn and get on with their lives, making up their minds based on vague perceptions of the political environment and how they are doing personally at the moment. A week after it's done, the polling numbers will gradually start to slip back to what they were post-debate (if they were moved in the first place) and by the election it will be as if no debate had ever been held.

The End.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Won't anyone think of the reactionary Christian fundamentalist?

by: Eric B.

Mon Sep 22, 2014 at 16:00:00 PM EDT

The Goat Killer wing of the GOP strikes again!

Bolger, who says business should not be able to fire a person because they are gay but is not supporting the bills introduced by Democrats, said he will not rush the process. He's also trying to strike a "necessary balance" between individual rights and religious liberty.

“I think this is an issue that’s present in our society and will be for some time until we figure out, as a society not just as lawmakers, how to respect one another,” Bolger said.

“I’m not going to be forced by any artificial calendar, including my own term limits. Right now, I’m undertaking the debate and we’re undertaking the research on how we achieve this within our law.”

Let's be clear on this: Religious people's religious freedoms are not at risk here. This doesn't prevent deeply religious people from attending church or worshipping. It doesn't tell them in any official way that they are second-tier citizens or anything like that. It simply says that if they are involved in a hiring process or renting an apartment that they can't remove people from their pool of candidates because they suspect that they are homosexuals (it shouldn't come up, so there's no reason why anyone should know for certain). The same goes for transgender people. I do not know, in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Fourteen, what is so difficult about this.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Your daily disgrace: State's poor people lose food benefits thanks to the Lansing bubble

by: Eric B.

Mon Sep 22, 2014 at 13:35:33 PM EDT

The Dunning-Kruger effect strikes again!

The new farm bill requires LIHEAP beneficiaries to get at least $20 a year in heating assistance to also qualify for the increased food stamps. That leaves states with a choice: They could make up the gap between $1 and $20 of heating assistance, to assure that no one loses food benefits, or they could sit idle and do nothing, which would mean some families lose the money they need to feed themselves.

Guess which route our state lawmakers chose.

The Legislature did nothing to add money to the heating program to help soften the blow. And the Department of Human Services, which could have reallocated existing heating assistance funds, said the state didn't want to "create a new loophole."

People who live and work inside the Lansing bubble -- that is, people who work inside elected state government -- probably have no idea how universally they are held in contempt, and it is for stuff like this. That especially goes when you have the happy duty to tell them that the elder chamber of our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect spent a good deal of time last week on Roger KAAAAAAAAAHN's resolution for Talk Like a Pirate Day. It's almost as if the Senate thinks that managing a food assistance program is less important to their mission than ensuring that Michigan residents can talk like a pirate on Sept. 19, knowing full well that they've got the backing of the state Senate..

By the way, once again, it has to be pointed out (and this is pointed out in Nancy Kaffer's column) that cutting the amount of food benefits for poor people not only makes it harder for them to makes ends meet, it also drives food choices thanks to the utterly insane way we've structured food subsidies. It is cheaper to buy a ton of salt-laden, processed, high salt, high fat food than it is to buy nourishing foods. That, in turn, drives up the costs of Medicaid and other government health programs, since people on food stamps are also likely to receive government health. And, since there's a wee more than casual link between diet and health, that means in turn driving up costs associated with government health.

So. good going guys. Way to be.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Today in "Debates are a lazy substitution for doing journalism"

by: Eric B.

Mon Sep 22, 2014 at 02:30:00 AM EDT

The Toledo Blade, a newspaper in Ohio of all places, is calling out our benevoent overlord and his many administration of many scandals. It was going great, right up to this point.

If Mr. Snyder expects Michigan voters to give him a second term, he would do well to apologize to them, and provide a full explanation of these missteps. He should also agree to televised debates with his rival, as his two predecessors did.

Mr. Snyder’s campaign says he has a brilliant record and nothing to hide. Michiganians deserve to hear the governor himself, questioned by journalists and by his challenger, to make his own case and defend his record before they vote.

It's cute when people demand that the governor apologize for an administration full of overpaid, sleazy operatives. What in the last four years has given anyone even the slightest inkling that he has a firm enough understanding of public service to know that a) people have a right to be included in your decision-making process and b) when your people screw up, you owe the people paying your salary and who have -- through our common social contract -- empowered you to administrate state government an apology.

As for debating his opponent, can we stop pretending that he'd actually answer for what has been sloppy administration, and wouldn't just dodge the questions? He's not going to admit to any wrongdoing, because these people are a combination of "could not care less what you think" and "in addition, I am never wrong."

The only way you're going to get him to answer to anything is to do journalism. That's why the head of MSHDA is out. Getting broomed with little public fanfare is as close as these people come to explaining themselves. If the polls weren't close, he would probably still be employed.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Open thread: A handy guide in how to spot a shitty winter weather forecast

by: Eric B.

Sat Sep 20, 2014 at 10:32:07 AM EDT

The last month or so, people have started posting to social media super early winter forecasts. As we all know, last winter was a bit harsh, and I think most people assume that every winter will just be worse, so most of what everyone is posting says that it's going to be cold and awful. That includes a story in Ye Olde Emm Ess Emm, the headline for which said that the odds of it being a cold, snowy winter had just gone up. The problem is that the story said no such thing. The story said that the odds of it being a moderate winter had gone down slightly, because El Nino in the Pacific wasn't looking like it was going to develop the strength that people thought it might.

To avoid further setting our hair on fire on social media, here are a few handy tips on how to spot a winter forecast that is worth ignoring (and I've seen all of these):

  • It predicts food and heating shortages.
  • It is on a site that also includes a story with the headline like, "Child steps on a crack, breaks his mother's back."
  • It is making solid predictions right now (predicting now what winter will be like is like predicting what campaign polls will look like four months out).
  • The people making the prediction have titles like "Senior administrator of meteorologists."
  • It does not mention that El Nino has developed, or that El Nino affects Michigan winters, or even says that El Nino is connected to colder, snowier Michigan winters (the opposite is true).
  • It predicts that we are going to see a bunch more returns of the Polar Vortex.
For the record, the latest prediction from the Climate Prediction Center, which is a real thing, is a higher chance for a milder winter. For the rest of you, the people who haven't made this post necessary by freaking out on social media, enjoy the weekend and this thread.
Discuss :: (10 Comments)

Solar-powered talking Bible charity Land claims not tied to stumping for Land

by: Eric B.

Sat Sep 20, 2014 at 09:56:17 AM EDT

This is almost an NFL-level of incompetence at covering something up.

Well, on Thursday night, I swung by the World Mission Thrift store in Lansing. Right there in the breezeway of the facility were Terri Lynn Land for Senate yard signs. That, says Rich Robinson, director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, is likely a violation of federal rules and laws which govern non-profits.

"World Mission Thrift is an assumed name for World Mission, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. Using its facilities to promote a political candidate is a clear violation of its tax status as a charitable organization," Robinson tells Between The Lines in an email. "It's like a church endorsing a political candidate. Charitable organizations are subsidized by taxpayers because contributions to them are tax deductible. They are not allowed to endorse political candidates."

Ho, ho, ho ... in addition to being illegal, they've got some explaining to do why the Christian charity that referred to Muslims, Buddhists and Hindu people as "obstacles" is not in fact connected in any way to the Land campaign.

The solar powered talking Bibles are just the cherry on top of this.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Been caught stealing, twice, when I was old

by: Eric B.

Fri Sep 19, 2014 at 16:40:51 PM EDT

Chad Selweski wrote another piece about Gary Peters' investments. It's ... worse than his previous foray. Worse on so, so many levels ... starting with the fact that he stole quotes from Detroit News journalist Chad Livengood without attribution.


Peters’ response has been consistent: “It’s clear that stocks that I may have in my retirement account have nothing to do with my public positions that I take.”


“It’s clear that stocks that I may have in my retirement account have nothing to do with my public positions that I take,” Peters said. “I’ve been outspoken on inversion, we need to change the law. I co-sponsored legislation to do that. I introduced legislation to say we have to figure out ways to store pet coke properly to make sure we’re using best practices, we have to regulate it.”

And, Selweski again:

“She’s trying to distract from the fact that the Koch brothers, who are responsible for piling up pet coke along the Detroit River, blowing into people’s homes, blowing into the Great Lakes, that they’ve invested $6.5 million in her campaign,” Peters said earlier this week.

And, Livengood again:

“She’s trying to distract from the fact that the Koch brothers, who are responsible for piling up pet coke along the Detroit River, blowing into people’s homes, blowing into the Great Lakes, that they’ve invested $6.5 million in her campaign,” Peters said.

Kindly note, dear reader, that in the first case, he didn't even steal the entire quore. He lifted part of it, leaving off the important context that really spears Selweski's entire point, which is that Gary Peters is a hypocrite on the environment because of these investments.

The question we're left with is this: Is Chad Selweski dishonest, stupid, or both? (He does have lots of awards!) P.S. The quote theft was caught and raised by Livengood on social media. I have yet to see Selweski respond.


There's More... :: (5 Comments, 244 words in story)

It's time to reassess privatization, which we won't do because belief in it is a matter of faith

by: Eric B.

Fri Sep 19, 2014 at 10:51:54 AM EDT

The Freep has an editorial this morning calling on the governor to cancel the state's contract with Aramark, because Aramark has done a spectacularly shitty job of managing food service in our prisons and hasn't reaped us -- the taxpayer -- the savings they promised. He should cancel the contract, because that's what a responsible executive would do if contracted help continuously underserves and puts your people at risk. Remember, Aramark's terrible service helped spark a prison riot.

Why won't he? Because it's a matter of faith among the people who run Michigan's government -- both the executive branch and our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect -- that privatization works. That belief is predicated on the belief that government is inherently inefficient and that people who operate according to the profit motive are inherently efficient. That's not true, of course, as anyone who's ever worked for a major corporation can unhappily explain to you, but nobody cares about actual results when you can go off the powerful evidence of raw theory. Plus, there's a healthy amount of mindless animosity towards government.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the people who are behind this are invulnerable to evidence. They don't care about whether something is working, because they believe that if there's a little hiccup that it's not a flawed theory but the fact that you simply haven't tried hard enough. These people won't change their minds, so the alternative is that they need to be turned out from being in charge of things. But you can't do that because they aren't interested in honest contests of ideas and continually try to rig the game in new, novel and depressing ways (tamp down voter turnout, gerrymander districts, put obstacles in new ways to register voters, generally speaking be dicks to everyone but their core demographic). And, every six years, they have to leave office because 20 years ago, Michigan's voters were dumb enough to enshrine the idea that experience is a terrible thing to have in elected government. The people who have replaced them have, with each new generation of lawmakers, have declined in quality.

So, Aramark isn't going to go anywhere, and neither is the idea that privatizing something will cause the deserts to bloom with prosperity for all. The people who could change it don't care about your "facts" or ideas about government, because at the end of the day they know in their heart of hearts that they are right and you are wrong. The End.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Happy Birthday to all the Sept. 18th-ers who aren't named Graham Davis

by: Eric B.

Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 16:41:15 PM EDT

I was just reminded of one of the most pernicious frauds perpetrated on the citizens of Michigan annually on this day. This year, it even snared the Dean of the House, John Dingell.

I'm talking about the announcement many of you have seen today on social media that it is the birthday of Graham Davis. Lots of you have no doubt wished him a Happy Birthday on his Facebook wall and perhaps even via text message.

It is my unhappy duty to report that aside from a Facebook notification and perhaps the random party thrown for the guy that there exists nowhere hard documentation that this is indeed Graham Davis' birthday. It is my assertion, that he has in fact faked his own birth.

What's my evidence? Every year, I ask the same question: Graham, can we see your birth certificate. Every year, I get silence. This year, he even tried to go cutesy and post a photo of a Barack Obama birth certificate coffee mug. 

I can also report that earlier today, he confided to me that he looked for his birth certificate last night, but was unable to find it. His insinuation was that agents acting at my behest raided his home while he slept and stole it. As you can imagine, I find these allegations ludicrous. The longer these questions go unanswered, the more I think there might just be something to them.

As some of you may know, today is actually my birthday. I find this fraud an offense to myself and all the other Sept. 18-birthed people. That includes former state Rep. Richard LeBlanc, who is now a Wayne County Commissioner. Where is the justice for the September 18th-ers?

P.S. Someone sent me a Happy Birthday text message from an unfamiliar phone number. I expressed thanks and then inquired as to their identity. The text I got in response said: "Screw you then." Was this the work of History's Greatest Monster? Only time will tell.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Dems: MSHDA director violated conflict of interest rules when not living high on the hog

by: Eric B.

Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 15:00:00 PM EDT

From Ye Olde Inbox, an MDP press release.

Documents obtained by MDP show that at the time that Gov. Snyder named Woosley to the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority in May of 2012, Woosley’s firm Labor-Management Fund Advisors (LMFA) was receiving $1,042,538 in federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant funds. In that role, Woosley would have been responsible for administering those funds, at the time he was hired as executive director of the agency four months later.   

While MSHDA director, Woosley was ultimately responsible for ensuring that LMFA was using the grant money properly and fulfilling its agreements with MSHDA. Federal conflict of interest rules forbid government officials from administering programs in which they have a financial interest. 

MSHDA grant funding continued to flow to Woosley’s company for 10 months, during which time Woosley continued acting as Managing Director of LMFA. Further, as he stated to the Detroit News, he "continued to share in the profits while working for the state.” At the same time, Woosley was living a high-flying lifestyle that led to his resignation in disgrace, in the wake of disclosures of more than $200,000 in travel spending abuses involving Woosley and other MSHDA staff.

If you play it jaded, you see this as an attempt to tar the governor by his friends. You might also say that both sides do it or something lame like that. If you play it straight, you say that an organization reflects the values of the guy at the top, who apparently is pretty cavalier about how to deliver public services while enriching yourself (he did defend this dude, originally, remember) and that regardless that a captain is responsible for everything that happens on his ship.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Polling data is a lot more useful when the pollsters' thumb isn't on the scale

by: Eric B.

Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 13:47:46 PM EDT

Vanguard Public Affairs, the PR firm run by TJ Bucholz, released results from a poll yesterday that I couldn't get to. He used Denno Research. The results tell us what we already knew all along ... Mitchell is full of shit.

LANSING, MI — It’s been "a great summer" for Mark Schauer, according to TJ Bucholz of Vanguard Public Affairs, which released a new poll on Wednesday showing the Democratic challenger within striking distance of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.


Snyder, who on Wednesday announced a series of town hall meetings but has downplayed the need for a public debate against his challenger, leads Schauer 43.2 percent to 40 percent, according to the Vanguard phone survey conducted by Denno Research from September 11 to September 13.

Those townhalls that the governor has been "pressured" into setting up? Worse than debates, which are worse than not holding debates. In other words, the media made a huge stink about the lack of debates that the governor decided to deflate the balloon of criticism by holding press conferences where the questions are asked from stage managed audiences. In other words, things are steadiy getting worse.

The story notes that the governor is staying positive in his campaign. For instance, he's taking about all the new people who have healthcare through Medicaid expansion. It would be great if someone fleshed out that little narrative by pointing out that all those people could have been enrolled earlier if the governor had insisted that they revote Immediate Effect after doing such a lousy job navigating it through our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect in the first place. Also, that Medicaid expansion is really the result of a little piece of health care reform called Obamacare, which the governor's own party wanted desperately to see repealed.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Land linked to charity that calls Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism "obstacles"

by: Eric B.

Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 10:37:53 AM EDT

Three words: Solar-powered talking Bibles.

"Unbelievably, there are over 2 billion people who have yet to hear the gospel for the first time," says the narrator of a World Mission video called "Intro to UPG (Unreached People Groups)." "If you were to place them side by side, they would surround the globe 25 times."

In the same video, World Mission lists what it calls "the obstacles" to its goal: Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism.


The spokesman, John Truscott, initially told The Huffington Post that the company had "absolutely no relationship" with World Mission. He added that it was Land's husband, Dan Hibma, who was the charity's major supporter -- not the real estate company.


Land & Co., also loaned World Mission millions. When asked about the loans, Truscott said he was unaware of them. But after a conversation with Land & Co. executives, Truscott told HuffPost that World Mission borrowed the money from Land & Co. in order to make improvements on buildings and purchase equipment for processing used clothes.

World Mission never repaid the loans. ...

If they'd just come right out and admitted all this, there wouldn't be much of a problem. I mean, organized religion operates in a kind of spiritual marketplace, and everyone knows this. The idea is to convert as many people worldwide to your religion as is possible, and doing that means winning a competition. That would necessariy make Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism "obstacles" in achieving your goal.

The problem is that no one is very honest about this aspect of organized religion. We all want to pretend that there is only good Christian charity and that people come to know Christ through individual journeys of self-exploration, none of which started with an act of tremendous personal hubris and spiritual insolence (i.e. someone who says, explicitly or implicitly, "I know that you believe X, but you are wrong.").

The other problem is that it's pretty clear that Land et. al. simply don't have the courage of their convictions. If they believe this, they ought to get behind their beliefs. I mean, it's what their God tells them to do in order to save the unsaved from an eternity of torment. Instead, we get this mealy-mouthed hemming and hawing to distance this charity from the candidate. Within the Christian theology, this means putting your own personal ambitions before the cause of God. To those of you who profess the Christian religion, I'll leave it to you to weigh whether this conflicts with the basic point of getting saved.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)
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