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"We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately"

by: Eric B.

Thu Feb 26, 2015 at 10:56:42 AM EST

From a policy standpoint, exempting the police and fire fighters unions from Right to Work made next to no sense. Yes, I know ... public safety public safety public safety public safety. It's the same inane argument made every time some new law is passed enshrining the police into some special class of citizen: infallible, legally entitled to take your shit without a criminal conviction and that you are expected to show deference to in every situation. It only makes sense from a political standpoint (anyone else remember Lisa Posthumus Lyons trying to get her husband's union exempted?), which is basically the way anything ever gets done in on ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect. I mean, Right to Work is not really effective policy, but it is a good way to attack the traditional primary funding mechanism for the opposing party. Anyway, it's handy to have cops on hand when you need Mark Schauer pepper sprayed on the lawn of the Captol and when you want the endorsement of the local police union because ... tough on crime.

Speaking of which, this has been making the rounds today.

LANSING, MI -- A newly-elected state representative from Midland has drafted legislation to extend the reach of Michigan's Right to Work law to public safety personnel, the only union members exempt under the 2012 law.

State Rep. Gary Glenn is currently courting co-sponsors for the legislation. He said he hopes to accomplish that goal and introduce the bill sometime in early March.

You hate to see anyone's access to collective bargaining harmed, but there is considerable fairness in treating everyone the same. For rebuttal, we go deeper into the story.

Dan Kuhn, a former Saginaw police officer, now works as a business agent and serves as an executive board member for the Police Officers Association of Michigan, a union that represents many of the state's police personnel.

Kuhn said Glenn would not be doing police officers any favors by extending Right to Work to the exempted group. He said there was a reason police were exempted in the 2012 law.

"We don't have any ability to strike," Kuhn said. "It's not like the police can walk off the job and protest for better wages. The legislature and leaders in the state wanted to make sure that never happened."

Know who else can't, by law, walk off the job and strike for better wages? Teachers.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Ronna Romney McDaniel, latest protector of the shield

by: Eric B.

Mon Feb 23, 2015 at 11:12:26 AM EST

There's been precious little coverage of substance from this weekend's Michigan Republican Party convention, where the election of members to the state central committee made it more difficult for the party elders to get rid of Dave Agema. After years of unrelenting negative media attention and a growing public awareness that party officials who say that he can't be gotten rid of are full of shit, delegates to the convention decided not only to not clean up their internal mess, but decided to make it harder to do so in the immediate future.

That was reflected in a statement by the Romney thrown at the job of party chairperson.

"The over-riding theme of my campaign is unity," McDaniel told reporters. "We have a lot of different factions in our party. We need to get them to coalesce if we're going to be successful."

Among the points of division is Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema, whose comments and social media postings have been widely condemned as racist and anti-gay. McDaniel had refused to be drawn into the controversy while on the RNC, though RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and outgoing Michigan Republican Party Chairman Bobby Schostak are among those who have called on Agema to resign.

"Dave and I have had private conversations; I'm going to keep them private," McDaniel said Saturday. "There is no mechanism for removal. He's not going to step down, so we're going to move forward."

Well, first off, good luck healing divisions within the party by refusing to deal with a racist and a homophobe (and, since bigotries tend to run in packs, who knows what else) in an important party post. I'm sure the party faithful who are homosexuals and Muslims feel much more welcome after all this.

Understand this: Ronna Romney McDaniel was not brought in to clean house of the party's bigots. The primary job of the party chairman -- both Republican and Democrat -- is basically the same as the commissioner of the NFL: Protect the brand.

For the NFL, that's mostly an external thing. The people the commissioner has to deal with internally -- the players -- are few in number and there are always (a lot) more people willing to join them. So, he has to worry about the public at large. Party chairmen have to worry more so internally to maintain cohesiveness as an organization.

We all know that her comment that there is no mechanism for removal is horseshit. We know this because they claim to follow Robert's Rules of Order, which overtly permits removal of members, and we also know this because the Michigan Republican Party is a private organization. You don't have a right to belong to it, and you don't have a right to represent it to national committees. You do so at the pleasure of the organization, and if you damage it too badly they can get rid of you ... either through existing means or by simply interpreting their rules in a way that gets rid of you. As has been said time and again regarding this, an effective leader knows how to use internal rules to get what he or she wants done, an ineffective leader -- or one who doesn't want to do something unpopular -- blames the rules. This is true in every human endeavor.

Bobby Shostak made an error in very early on closing the door on forcible removal. His people told the press that they had no means to get rid of Agema. This was untrue, and I hope that the media is beginning to realize that they were bamboozled. Schostak's mistake, probably based on thinking that Dave Agema would shut himself up for the good of the party, was in taking every piece of leverage off the table. With no threat of forcible removal (how can they, after telling the media for two years that they can't), the only incentive Agema has in remaining quiet is his own good sense ... which he appears to have in very short supply. Ronna Romney McDaniel could have reversed that error, but she would have had to admit to it. That would have risked turning off the considerable number of people within the party who have no problem with what Agema has said, and it would have required admitting to a lie to the media.

The only thing that will pull the Michigan Republican Party's collective chesnuts out of the fire at this point is electing someone else as national committee man next year. In fact, because the Michigan Republican Party's leadership has screwed this up so badly, their best option is probably to just let Dave Agema off his leash. His bigoted tirades didn't appear to cost his party anything at the polls last year, and there won't be the chance of that happening until after their convention. The more he talks, the more Republicans he makes angry. The more angry that other Republicans get by his conduct, the more likely that they will become energized and toss him out. Then, the party leadership can tell the media that the Republican Party has spoken with a firm voice that they will no tolerate a bigot within their ranks, and bank on our media having gotten so terrible that they will simply write all that down without asking why it took four years to get rid of an unpopular cancer.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Joe Munem maybe has a future in micro-blogging: Open thread

by: Eric B.

Sat Feb 21, 2015 at 11:40:34 AM EST

In private group correspondence a few years back, one of the participants referred to the Republican Party as "the enemy." It felt like a very strange thing to read, especially about another American. It might be that I genuinely regard hatred and perpetual anger as a waste of time and focus, but calling someone in the other political party "the enemy" is, well, overwraught. In fact, I have a hard time calling anyone "the enemy." It goes back to my last days in the service.

We launched missiles against Sudan and into Afghanistan, and the whole of Naval Operations Base, Norfolk went into a soft lockdown. On my ship, that meant standing up an extra watch: handing an E-5 or E-6 qualified in pistol use a kevlar vest, a 9mm pistol, and telling him to hang around near the quarterdeck. If any terrorists tried to shoot their way onto the ship, you were expected to hold them off until real security forces arrived. I got the impression that "expendable" was how they considered the person standing that watch. I stood it twice.

Fortunately, no terrorists ever tried to shoot their way past the quarterdeck of the USS Wasp. But it was instructive in how I define my enemies. Unless you are trying to shoot your way through me, probably I wouldn't define you as an enemy. I might say that you're an asshole, but that's a damn sight different.

Over the last few years, there've been a few members of "the enemy" that I've interacted with and gotten to be friendly with. It's especially the case for the number of them who've been highly critical of Goat Killer's frequent unpunished bigoted tirades. It's very easy to bash from without, but difficult to try to affect change from within, and for that these people have my respect.

One of those people is Joe Munem, who co-hosted the Two Joes podcast with Joe D., friend of Michigan Liberal (and husband to Teh Demas). He's doing a microblog of this weekend's Republlican Party convention, and it's a damned hoot. It's part performance art and part micro-journalism. Go read it.

For the rest of you, the thread ... she's open.

Discuss :: (28 Comments)

And now, a word from our sponsor

by: Eric B.

Thu Feb 19, 2015 at 15:44:59 PM EST

Y'all might have heard that the Michigan Democratic Party is in the middle of a membership drive. 'Tis true. In fact, we'll be resetting the number of w's in the standard, "Hey, we ain't got no one sponsoring this website" posts, because we now have a sponsor -- the Michigan Democratic Party -- over it. See inset. Also, see the picture up and to the right? It'll be there for a whole month. Please see this link for more information.

For even more information, please see the Michigan Democratic Party's Facebook page, and check out their Twitter feed. And, of course, check back the next month for updates on what the party is up to. This space is theirs!

Once that month is up, of course, it means we'll be sponsor-less here. Anyone paying attention the last few lean months can imagine what it was like ... a website resorting to eating leather shoes and picking nits off its neighbors to stay nourished, melting ice from the front yard for water, huddling around the smoking cinders of its antique bed to stay warm. Let's make sure a return to those days doesn't happen. Get out ahead of them and sign up for a sponsorship.

Rates are $25 a day, $100 a week and $360 a month. For more information or if you want a little of what the Michigan Democrats are getting the next month, contact me at ebaerren@michiganliberal.com, via text message at 517/881-8008* or over social media.

*--Warning: The last day I worked, I left my phone charger plugged into the wall. When I woke up this morning, my phone was dead, dead, dead and couldn't be revived by plugging it into my laptop. So, until I get my charger back or find one to borrow, don't text or call, 'cause then you won't get me and I won't return your call, which will leave you feel sad and abandoned.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Finalists named to replace Derrick Quinney on Lansing city council

by: Eric B.

Thu Feb 19, 2015 at 11:13:14 AM EST

From the LSJ.

Lansing City Council members on Wednesday settled on six finalists for an open seat on the panel.

Joseph Lee Yang, Joseph Graves Jr., Colin Maguire, Rico Neal, Dulles Copedge and Vincent Delgado are scheduled to be interviewed during a committee of the whole meeting on Thursday night.

Most of the chatter I've seen on this is that Delgado, who is a former reporter at the Lansing State Journal, has the inside track and is reportedly Virg Bernero's choice.

UPDATE by ScottyUrb: Delgado it is, as expected. 

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Schauer named to lead DLCC effort

by: Eric B.

Thu Feb 19, 2015 at 10:19:47 AM EST

From Ye Olde Inbox.

WASHINGTON, D.C. –– Today Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) Executive Director Michael Sargeant announced that former U.S. Representative and state lawmaker Mark Schauer is joining the organization as Director of Advantage 2020 and its new related super PAC leading the effort to position Democrats nationwide for success in the next round of redistricting.

“We are excited to welcome Mark Schauer as Director of our effort to analyze and target state legislative races across the country through the 2020 election cycle as we launch our Advantage 2020 super PAC,” said Sargeant. “The coming round of congressional redistricting will shape the political landscape for the next decade, and Mark’s leadership of Advantage 2020 is crucial to empowering us to win the state legislative seats critical to that process.”

Submitted without comment.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Chad Selweski puzzles over why someone running unopposed won re-election

by: Eric B.

Tue Feb 17, 2015 at 10:35:34 AM EST

I'm actually pleased that Democrats re-elected Lon Johnson to the party chairmanship. It's not because I have any particular affinity for the guy. It's because it would have been very easy, considering what happened last fall, to have jettisoned him for someone different (or someone old) and gone back to doing all the same shit that ended in repeated election disasters. It's not a matter of rooting for a losing team. It's a matter of it just being painful to watch.

As bad as last November was, it wasn't nearly as bad as 2012 was, when despite Barack Obama winning re-election to the presidency, Michigan Democrats won jack shit. Democrats and their "allies in labor*" dumped all their money into dumb ballot proposals that all went down in flames because the state's Very Serious Person's Union decided that changing the constitution was the worst, most horrible thing that anyone could ever imagine doing. (The same Very Serious Persons then tut-tutted the rushing of Right to Work through our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect, something else anyone capable of fogging a mirror knew was going to happen, as an uncivil usurpation of the democratic process**.) Rather than toss the guy out on his ear and then go back to failing in the same, old ways, they opted to risk failing in new, exciting ways before possibly finding a way to win***.

Not only did they re-elect Johnson to the party chairmanship, no one came forward to challenge him, which apparently has confused Chad Selweski.

Rookie Democratic Party Chairman Lon Johnson somehow re-captured the crown over the weekend at the state convention in Detroit even as the grumbling among the party faithful that spilled out on election night in November continued right into the Dems’ biennial confab.

Let's be frank here. The real problem isn't Lon Johnson. The real problem are the party faithful. Well, not the party faithful, but the people operating behind the scenes. These are the people who threw the 2010 gubernatorial election by hurling America's Shoutiest Mayor at the state because they didn't want Andy Dillon to get the nomination and have any juice in remaking the party. They didn't do it because they thought Virg had the best shot at winning. They did it to protect their perch as Democratic Party insiders.

The risk of elevating Johnson over Mark Brewer was that in doing so, you weren't really going to the root of the problem. As obsolete as the party had become under Brewer, he wasn't the real problem. Getting rid of him without also marginalizing the people behind the scenes risked changing very little.

Since the election, there's been second guessing on veering away from tried and true failures and towards stuff that it new. People have said that if they'd only put the minimum wage on the ballot, Mark Schauer would have won, or that if they'd have knocked doors instead of created the absentee ballot app, Mark Schauer would have won.

Bullshit. Mark Schauer was never going to win that race. It's not because the MDP did this and didn't do that, or because they didn't have their ballot question on (when will this zombie -- after failing over and over ... Bush in 2004 with same-sex; MDP to win *anything* in 2012 -- finally stop shambling forward?). I hate to, again, say this: Poll after poll from Detroit showed that while bankruptcy and emergency management are reliable red meat for Democrats and progressive activists, regular people liked the way the governor managed Detroit. The fact that Schauer came within four points is nothing short of a miracle (also, despite the legislative losses in a Republican year, they came within 700 votes of beating the guy who is now House Speaker).

*--Code for, "The people who run the Democratic Party behind the scenes, but we can't say that because we can't find anyone to go on record as saying it even though anyone capable of fogging a mirror knows it to be true".

**--Very Serious Persons, as we know, pride themselves on "civility in politics" to the point where they are ineffective and mostly just useless.

***--Here, we have to again note that mid-term elections like last November are more than anything a referendum on the sitting president, and the current one is both a Democrat and of dark skin pigmentation, so we knew the unhinged, angry Tea Party base would turn out, and that enthusiasm for Democrats -- as it was in 2010 -- would be tempered.

Discuss :: (60 Comments)

Michigan Radio on Gretchen Driskell's early "I'm in" announcement

by: Eric B.

Mon Feb 16, 2015 at 14:44:48 PM EST

Michigan Radio, on why Gretchen Driskell's announcement that she's running for Congress is not a big deal.

With 631 days to go until Election 2016, some political watchers were surprised at how early the former Saline mayor announced her campaign to unseat Republican Tim Walberg in Michigan’s 7th Congressional district. In fact, it’s only been a month since Driskell was sworn in for her second term in Lansing as a state Representative.

The early announcement has some outraged (outraged, we say!); it’s got talking heads bemoaning the fact that the 2016 campaign season is already underway.

Certainly there is truth in the fact that election cycles in modern times continue to begin earlier and earlier but, fear not, this is not the signal of the beginning of the campaign season. This is, rather, the beginning of the fundraising season, unseen and unheard by most voters.

Also, let's be honest about something. Michigan's finest legal mind, we assume, is already angling for his party's nomination to run for governor. I mean, we all assume it because a) he's been tossing red meat to his party's base (a base that claims to hate Establishment Republicans even as Bill Schuette is as Establishment as they come), and b) he hasn't done an honest day's work since the early 80s. In fact, most of us assume that to some degree every lawmaker is running for some new office right now based on what they are doing right now. For people who aren't term limited out of office, we all assume that they are running for re-election basically all the time. If Driskell weren't running for Congress, we'd all assume that she was already planning a re-election campaign for her final term in the House.

The only thing that Driskell is guilty of in this regard is being upfront and honest with the public about her intentions. She's trampled the sensitivities of people who believe there are actual rules to this game, certainly, but who cares?

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

And now, a word from our ... a, nuts

by: Eric B.

Mon Feb 16, 2015 at 11:36:27 AM EST

Dagnabit it. I finished up that freelance assignment last week, and sometime during the drunken stupor I fell into to celebrate, the v busted through the gate to the pen that I keep the headlines in. Now, in the middle of this dad blamed cold, I've got to go out and repair that stupid thing. Plus, I've got to shell out money for the materials to patch it together until I can do a total makeover once the spring thaw arrives.

That's why I'm asking for your help today. You can help me put this thing back together by sponsoring this website. The more that I get in sponsorship money, the stronger the materials I can repair the pen and the better I can keep the headlines properly corralled. Plus, I can go out and get some proper w's so I don't have to rely on v's, which tend to be more skittish and more prone to stampede.

How do you sponsor? Contact me at ebaerren@michiganliberal.com, or by text message at 57/881-8008, or over social media. There's also a link off to the left to just go ahead and dump money into the MichLib Paypal thingy (if it doesn't work, don't be surprised, but contact me if you still want to help, because I can make magic).

Rates are $25 for a day, $100 for a week, or $360 for a month.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Burn in Hell, all of you: Open thread

by: Eric B.

Sat Feb 14, 2015 at 11:04:49 AM EST

Today is February 14, which means that most of you are right now scrambling to make it look like you remembered that you celebrate Valentine's Day. Last year, around this time, I decided that it's a stupid holiday and should be replaced with something better, so I started Second Halloween. My next-door neighbor occasionally brings me eggs his wife gets from a co-worker, and when he did it last year, the plastic Meijer bag he brought them in had "Burn in Hell" written on it. I'm not sure if that was already the official Second Halloween greeting, or if it was part of an ongoing work of jackass performance art that last summer embroiled the entire neighborhood, but it cemented "Burn in Hell" as the official greeting of Second Halloween. I haven't figured out what other traditions Second Halloween encompasses (my son has forbidden me from mooning people as they walk past, however), but I just talked my neighbor into bringing over eggs later today. So that might be a Second Halloween thing, although to be honest I just need more eggs because I ran out this morning, am too lazy to go to the store to get more, and have half an avocado leftover from dinner last night and want one of those "eggs baked into an avocado half" things for breakfast tomorrow (I'm thinking that this might be a good thing to try that Vulcan's Fire salt I was talking about the other week). So maybe it's coincidental.

Anyway ... Burn in Hell. All of you. Please feel to spread the Second Halloween cheer today. Especially with strangers, loved ones you haven't seen in a long, long time, and -- naturally -- your spouse or significant other.

Oh yeah, I was told that at the Democratic Party convention this morning that the MDP Progressive Bloggers Caucus voted itself out of existence and to rejoin the Progressive Caucus. I don't know what any of that means, mostly because I'm terrible at joining clubs and even more terrible at being a member of clubs, but it seems vaguely like a People's Front of Judea thing. I might be wrong on that last bit.

Beyond that, this thread is open for business. And giving each other the business.

Discuss :: (20 Comments)

Michigan's least necessary columnist has a peculiar idea of what constitutes intolerance

by: Eric B.

Fri Feb 13, 2015 at 12:01:14 PM EST

The customer is always right, except when they don't want to watch Nolan Finley's television network of choice.

There’s no escaping liberal intolerance, even in the gym. An Ypsilanti couple recently joined the Ann Arbor rec center and was immediately offended that one of the TV stations in the workout room is tuned to the Fox News Channel.

One imagines Nolan Finley watching the series finale of Breaking Bad going apoplectic near the beginning when Walter White asks that the Charlie Rose interview be left on rather than switch to sports and the bartender doing it. 

This explains much about the persecution complex held by conservatives. They think it's a matter of "liberal intolerance" that people who are not conservatives don't want to be held captive to their beliefs while on the stationary bikes. I mean, what did these people want to watch? No one says. Perhaps they preferred to watch ESPN rather than have their workout politicized.

In true Ann Arbor form, the center is now putting the matter to a vote, and will let gym users decided which channels should appear on the screens. Fox News fans can count on losing that option. Ann Arbor, apparently, is not schooled in the tyranny of the majority.

How awful a place Ann Arbor must be if their fitness centers are allowing paying customers pick which television stations they watch while working out. I mean, we all know that there was another man who ran a fitness center and who allowed his paying customers to select which television stations were on.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

From the Party of Law and/or Order

by: Eric B.

Fri Feb 13, 2015 at 11:43:26 AM EST

The Michigan Republican Party is a deeply flawed organization.

The revelation that a state party committee member has a criminal past that includes prison time for one of the largest financial frauds in Michigan history is the latest controversy to shake the Michigan Republican Party as it heads into its state convention next weekend in Lansing.

William Rauwerdink, 64, of West Bloomfield Township was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison and ordered to pay $285-million restitution in 2007 after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy and false statements in a federal indictment related to his role as chief financial officer of Lason, Inc. He was also sentenced to two years of supervised release following prison, records show.

These are the same people, mind you, who are always droning on about how we need to get tough on crime or else Western civilization will crumble into the oceans.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Programming note: I'm still here

by: Eric B.

Wed Feb 11, 2015 at 16:37:46 PM EST

I got an e-mail this afternoon from someone asking why there hasn't been new content in a couple of days and why Monday was light on content.

The reason is pretty straightforward. I'm currently finishing up what I would define as a major freelance journalism assignment this week. What is the project, you ask? The only thing I'll say is that the other day, I added up the years in operation of three of mid-Michigan's landmark diners and taverns and discovered that if you combined their ages into one place that it would have opened its doors just three years after the Founding Fathers declared us an independent nation.

Let that rattle around your brain a mnute.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Some people who are running for office next year: Gretchen Driskell

by: Eric B.

Mon Feb 09, 2015 at 09:31:32 AM EST

Woke up to a press release or something. I might have been caught in that haze between sleep and wakefulness, so maybe it was a delivery raven from the deepest bowels of George Soros' lair bearing news that Gretchen Driskell, who is currently a state representative, will challenge rustic yahoo Tim Walberg for his seat in Congress next year.

I don't know the first thing about Gretchen Driskell other than that a lot of people who I know respect her, that she won a couple of surprising races and that she's chosen a good time and a good year to run. Also, I likes me a candidate who is going to just come right out and say, "I am running for this," rather than hemming and hawing and talking about exploratory committees.

Discuss :: (12 Comments)

Where we kick back and open a thread

by: Eric B.

Sat Feb 07, 2015 at 10:29:11 AM EST

I love to cook. Perhaps that was telegraphed by last week's story about The Spice House near Chicago. One of the things that came in that gift package, in fact, were nice long sticks of beautiful cinnamon. If you've ever used freshly grated cinnamon, you know the difference between it and that powdered shit that comes in jars. The abiity to grate cinnamon is probably why we developed opposable thumbs and the ability to problem solve. Since then, I've alternated between opening the plastic sack and sniffing the cinnamon and cloves and looking for ways to add more of both to my diet. As luck would have it, I also had a butternut squash from our local farmers market sitting around. I don't bother cooking these way conventionally, because the kid refuses to eat it no matter how much maple syrup and brown sugar I load it down with. But, he will eat it if it comes in pie form. So, from time to time, I bake butternut squash pie. But, since it's an occasional thing, I have to look up the recipe each time I do it, and I wind up trying out a new one. This week, I found this one.

I have no idea what it means to be a southern cooking expert, but over the year's, I've borrowed this person's recipes on a number of occasions and the results are usually pretty pleasing. But, the most excellent part of this page isn't the recipe. It's the comments below, which appear to have been opened for exactly one, which starts thusly:

I can't find anyone who really knows how to cook winter squash. Therefore, I will instruct you. ...

The Internet ... she's a thing of beauty.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)
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