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A quick poll heading into the last bits of lame duck!

by: Eric B.

Wed Dec 17, 2014 at 17:37:40 PM EST

In case you've haven't been following along from home, road funding appears as if it will go down to the wire with Jase Bolger essentially holding things up because Jase Bolger is a dick. Probably something will happen, but let's start taking predictions of -- in case nothing happens -- who Jase Bolger will blame (h/t Josh Pugh with the MDP for the idea).

Either in comments or in our exciting poll.
Discuss :: (6 Comments)

Carl Levin says goodbye

by: Eric B.

Wed Dec 17, 2014 at 16:56:54 PM EST

This is sad, because Carl Levin has always been my favorite elected official.

...

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

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

by: Eric B.

Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 14:00:00 PM EST

The other day, I went to a local department store and visited with Santa. I actually cut in line to see him, citing that my religious beliefs didn't permit me to stand behind children in a line for anything (huzzah for closely held personal religious beliefs!). My intention was to ask Santa for a MichLib sponsor for Christmas, but when I tried to sit on his lap, one of his elves pulled a knife on me. I kicked the knife out of the elf's hand and then punched him in the throat, but while my back was turned Saint Nick kidney punched me and down I went like a sack of potatoes. Then, the lights went out. When I came to, I was in an alley out behind the store, where a vagrant was relieving himself on a nearby dumpster.

Point is that I never got a chance to ask Santa for a MichLib sponsor. So, that leaves you, dear reader, for me to put the bite on.

Usually, I embed some kind of harrowing photo in these posts solicting sponsors to tug at your heartstrings. My presumption anymore is that very few of you have hearts of any kind, let alone hearts with strings. And, besides, a stringy heart suggests a very serious medical condition best not joked about. If you have heart strings that can be tugged, my suggestion is that you immediately seek care for it.

The rest of it, the stuff about soliciting a sponsor, that's real enough. This site doesn't run itself. Okay, it mostly does, but the content doesn't generate itself. I mean, I suppose you could program a bot of some kind to generate this site's content, but what fun would that be.

So, yeah, a sponsor. Our last sponsor, Archie Bailey, reported success in his efforts to reach out to friends who read this site. I am always happy to be part of a success like that, since usually everything that I get dragged into wind up as miserable failures (I was the guy who focus grouped the Coca-Cola company into dropping its old formula about 25 years ago; I also canceled Star Trek). Anyway, our sponsor before him was Richard Bernstein. Or, should I say, Supreme Court Justice-elect Richard Bernstein. I think you see where this is going.

Sponsorships are by the day, by the week or by the month. And I'm open to alternative time lengths. Rates are $25 by the day, $100 by the week, and $360 by the month. To take part in this, please contact me at ebaerren@michiganliberal.com, by text message at 517/881-8008, or via social media. As the man says, I'm not hard to find. Just lift any rock.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

From today's rally in opposition of religiously-based discrimination

by: Eric B.

Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 13:16:34 PM EST

Some lows are almost too low.

Neither has the Speaker had the state police "disappear" the guy with the Nickelback sign nor has he ordered the releasing of the hounds, so we can take this as a tacit acknowledgement that Jase Bolger does, in fact, like Nickelback.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

The Capitol lawn: This year's latest battlefield in the War on Christmas

by: Eric B.

Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 13:00:00 PM EST

So, by now, we can all agree that Christmas isn't a Christian holiday, that it's a series of rituals and traditions stolen from other religions to help ease Christianity into the lives of pagans by the holy rollers who wanted to convert them. I think we are all mostly in agreement that not only does this apply to Christmas, that in fact based on stuff written in the Bible that Jesus' birth was actually in the spring (based on the cycles of plant life), and that Easter happened on a specific day that wasn't tied to the lunar cycle's relationship to the vernal equinox. All of this stuff was originally stolen from other religious expressions in order for Christianity to spread and anyway Jesus very specifically told his followers that his birth was an unimportant event, but that salvation would come through his death. That means, that as a Christian holiday, Christmas is a giant load of horseshit.

This widespread agreement that the notion that Christmas is not, in fact, a real religious holiday (instead of the commercial one it's become) has not stopped people from trying to insist that it is.

John Truscott, a member of the Michigan State Capitol Commission, confirmed that The Satanic Temple has been granted approval for the temporary outdoor display. It will be limited to 3-feet by 3-feet in size and must be removed each evening because of a pre-existing ban on overnight displays.

"We are restricted by the Constitution and bound by the Constitution to recognize their First Amendment rights," said Truscott. "We don’t have the ability to reject them if they meet the guidelines of the Capitol."

But on a personal level, Truscott said he thinks it is "absolutely disgusting to hijack a Christian holiday," and he expressed hope that the public will "just completely ignore these negative forces."

This is great on a whole lot of levels, like that we assume that Truscott, who I've always thought of as one of the more advanced Republicans, said it without a sense of irony. In every way, including that the same people who think that mucking up public property with Nativity scenes also tend to be the same people who think that everyone needs to live according to their religiously-based values.

As to the Satanists, I'm also not sure that he understands what Satanism is these days. It is not about worshipping some dark, anti-Lord, although waving it off as such continues in a fine Christian tradition of denigrating the spiritual competition. People who today call themselves Satanists think of it as a matter of free expression and enlightenment. It's mostly bullshit hippie woo, and this is the reason why we don't leave the decision of what religious displays are allowed on public property in the hands of people like John Truscott ... the only reason he said they voted to allow the Satanists to erect this is because they were forced to by the competition.

The greatest part of this is that there might not be any Christian competition for the Satanists display, because the guy who wanted to put up the Nativity scene is from out-of-state and couldn't find anyone to put it up and take it down every day. There is an update in the MLive story that some state senator is hoping to rectify this (the link for the update is dead). Still, considering the amount of whining we hear from Christians about how their religion is under attack, its a sad statement that a religion once spread by men and women willing to risk death and dismemberment to do it can't drum up someone willing to spend 10 minutes a day putting up and taking down a Nativity scene.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Coming to a Legislature near you soon: The Republic of Gilead!

by: Eric B.

Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 11:23:11 AM EST

Back when she was in the Senate, Michelle McManus had a fine, long tradition of introducing bills aimed at curtailing no-fault divorce, a favorite of the religious right since it became a thing. Their attack on no-fault divorce is back, with a twist: It allows couples without children to divorce without cause. If you have a kiddo, they want to make it a lot harder.

The argument is supposed to be that easy divorce has led to a decline in traditional moral values because it creates broken families. This is a horseshit argument. Couples that stay together when they don't want to don't instill traditional moral values in their offspring. What they teach is how to have dysfunctional relationships. But, more to the point, what this sort of thing does is makes it harder for victims of spousal abuse to get out of abusive relationships because it requires the absued to document the abusive behavior in order to leave. And if there's one thing that abusive people like, it's having someone point out to them that they are being abusive.

Anyway, it was introduced too late to really get any movement on it this term. But, with a more rightwing Legislature next term led by World's Worst Representative and Senator Dark Money, it's probably a glimpse into the future of Michigan. What might be fun and exciting is watching this become law through petition drive if the governor vetoes it.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

The GOP and its Tea Party problem, pt. 7 million

by: Eric B.

Mon Dec 15, 2014 at 13:45:40 PM EST

I think this should be encouraged.

The tea party is expected to mount another challenge as elements of the party failed to boot out Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and then failed to eliminate Gov. Snyder. So the Schostak seat is next on their radar screen as some tea partiers continue to gripe about the Snyder folks being just a tad too moderate for their tastes. They don’t want to go zero for three.

By all means, the few remaining people who claim to be moderates must be purged from the Republican Party. They must stand for principle and liberty alone.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Your thread, she's open for the weekend

by: Eric B.

Sat Dec 13, 2014 at 10:07:27 AM EST

Did I mention I got threatened with arrest last weekend? The kid was doing a sleepover, so I walked to a party thrown by a friend who lives three blocks away. Our local cops showed up around 11 p.m., because there were some punk bands playing and it was loud. Did I mention that I've got a lot of friends who are in their late-20s and early- and mid-30s? Anyway, as I was leaving I walked up to the guy who was hosting the party to say goodbye (because I'm old and polite that way). He was standing next to a cop, who asked for my identification. I had none on me because ... three blocks away from my home. I asked him what he'd do if I didn't produce any and he said that he'd arrest me. I repeated this scenario back to him to make sure he'd said what I thought he'd just said, got his business card, lied to him about my ID being in the house and then left along a different route (at this point, because the kid's mother was in California, I was thinking about the kid being turned into a temporary orphan because a police officer had drawn an immediate hardline over identification that was three blocks away).

I don't draw any big picture conclusions from the encounter, like that all cops are terrible people or even anything about our local cops (since I live in Mount Pleasant's crack house district, I have the privilege of watching them work all the time). I pass this along mostly because after 44 years of arrest-free living (and a traffic record spotless for almost a decade and a half), the closest I come to a night in the pokey was when I was old and boring and trying to go home and play a little Minecraft on the kid's Xbox before going to bed.

Enjoy yourselves, my little dumplings, while I go puzzle over mysteries of the universe.

Discuss :: (13 Comments)

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

by: Eric B.

Fri Dec 12, 2014 at 15:59:11 PM EST

Just a real quick word here while I'm still translating The Book of Bill and before everyone leaves for the weekend: We're still sponsorless and have been so since last month's election. Usually, I post some kind of picture trying to make this a sad, painful event for everyone concerned, but I don't have the time for that today. So, consider the absence of a picture to be the saddest, most depressing picture possible.

What I can confirm is that if you'd like to sponsor Michigan Liberal, it's all wide open. Rates are a low, low $25 a day, $100 a week, or $360 a month. If you're interested, contact me at ebaerren@michiganliberal.com, via text message at 517/881-8008 or on social media.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

An important announcement: Eric B. has found religion

by: Eric B.

Fri Dec 12, 2014 at 14:25:34 PM EST

We're moving towards a glorious new future of patchwork enforcement of laws that the courts will have to sort out thanks to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act moving through the Senate right now. I've seen some people argue that it will mean that EMTs will be able to deny service to gay people, which is probably a stretch. The legislation has language in it that establishes a test as to whether the state has a compelling interest in telling people to quit being stupid in this regard, and probably emergency medical care is one of those areas. Because this legislation is different than the federal statute (and it is) and places the burden of belief not on the religion itself but on the individual, it means running this test not to some confirmable code of religious beliefs and ethics, but based on what an individual says he believes.

What am I talking about? How the bill defines Exercise of Religion, which is thusly:

(b) "Exercise of religion" means the practice or observance of religion, including an act or refusal to act, that is substantially motivated by a sincerely held religious belief, whether or not compelled by or central to a system of religious belief.

You can see the purpose of this language, by the way. Refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding is not central to the belief system of any religion. That's what is driving this bill, the fear that if same-sex weddings become a thing that bakeries are going to be compelled to make cakes for them. So, they wanted to make sure that wouldn't happen, probably assume that Michigan's finest legal mind's efforts before the Supreme Court defending Michigan's discriminatory constitutional amendment will go down in flames and have to get these protections in place before anyone is forced to bake a gay wedding cake against his or her will. That's why we have this.

Anyway, the headline: This morning, I started wading through the ocean of empty beer cans from this week's end-of-semester binge drinkfest and ran across a little leather-clad book. I brought the book home currently have it in a box. I'd let you all see it and read it, but I was told by an angel that I couldn't and that I'm allowed only to transcribe its contents.

I've been doing this all morning, and man does the world make so much more sense now. It turns out that all of you have gotten all of it wrong. I alone am in possession of mankind's true work of divinity. I am happy to share with anyone who mails me $10. You don't get nothing in this world, including enlightenment, for free, folks.

What I can tell you is that there is one god, and his name is ... oh, I don't know ... Bill. Bill is something of a hippie, and when you cut your grass and rake your leaves it makes him angry. Bill teaches that he put the grass and trees on the planet for purposes known only to Bill and when you cut and clean it up, you are messing up his plans. Remember last year's Polar Vortex events? Two words: Vengeful wrath. So, probably you all should stop cutting your lawns and raking your leaves, even if your local government threatens to fine you for an unkempt lawn. Who is the local code enforcement officer before Almighty Bill?

Bill also hates pants. Don't ask why, for it is arrogance to presume to know the mind of Bill. He does understand that pants have value when it is cold out, so you may wear pants ... only until it gets warm enough outside to not wear them. After that, you must eschew pants or surely risk Bill's wrath.

As you might expect, Bill is also a little miffed that he's currently so far behind Yahweh. He feels that Yahweh has the market cornered in such a way to in effect be a monopoly. Not only does Bill want you to go around to all of your neighbors (pantsless, preferably) and tell them all about Bill ... by the way, Bill would prefer that you do this at 2 a.m. so as to be most likely to find them at home; but he thinks it would be a good idea if you showed up at Yahweh's places of worship and stand outside, bellowing at the parishoners that they are following a false god.

There are other things that Bill wants to you understand, but I'm not done traslating his book yet. By the way, Bill is looking for priests to help spread the word. You're required to do things to make this happen. First, send me $50 and I'll send you a badge identifying you as a follower of Bill. The other thing is that you're required to build onto your home a dedicated worship space. This worship space can take the shape and form of anything that you prefer -- Bill is big on individual choice -- just as long as you tell people that you built it in his name. Seriously, if you've been meaning to dig a pool and patio in your backyard or add on to your garage, just go ahead and do it. And feel free to ignore the Cease and Desist letters from the local planning office. Those people are simply Yahweh stooges trying to stop you from spreading The Word of Bill.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Ananich named to DLCC board

by: Eric B.

Thu Dec 11, 2014 at 16:03:37 PM EST

From Ye Olde Inbox.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 11, 2014) – At their annual winter meeting today, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) Board of Directors elected seven new Board Members and its national Executive Board officers for 2015. Drawn from legislative leaders in every region of the country, the DLCC's Board of Directors is the national governing body of the organization, whose leadership are deeply involved in legislative campaigns in their states and drive Democrats' nationwide strategy to win elections in state legislatures.

As noted in the headline, state Sen. Jim Ananich is one of those people.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Michigan's vaccination problem

by: Eric B.

Thu Dec 11, 2014 at 15:33:30 PM EST

Here is a very serious problem: MIchigan's vaccination rate. Over the last year, there've been a few stories about preventable diseases breaking out around the state and tied to reduced rates of vaccination against childhood disease. It's a crying shame because the people choosing against the vaccinations are not actually the people hurt worst by it. The people hurt worst are their kids and the kids of other people who have to be around those kids.

At this point, we're all supposed to be adults and say that it's time for our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect to take action and make it a lot harder to opt out of getting vaccinations. And while I think that ought to happen, right now our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect is busying itself with making it even easier to get out of getting kids vaccinated through that dumb religious liberties bill. If that goes through, you don't have to get a waiver. You can just send your kid to school and when someone asks for a vaccination record, you can just tell them that the entire thing is an affront to your religious beliefs and that what shots your kid has gotten is between you, your kid and God. So, color me deeply skeptical that this isn't an issue that our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger couldn't take up and actually just make it worse.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Bill enabling Sharia Law taken up in the Senate

by: Eric B.

Thu Dec 11, 2014 at 13:43:56 PM EST

As I understand it correctly, the upper chamber of our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect will take up the "right to discriminate for religious reasons," which would also happen to be the "Creeping sharia" law.

Why "Creeping sharia?" Simple. In a world where your religious beliefs trump state law, that applies to Muslims, too.

Did any of this bill's sponsors actually think this through as it applies to other religions? Who knows. What I can say is that for a law-making body with a storied history for poorly conceived, poorly authored legislation, this could be its finest hour.

Discuss :: (6 Comments)

Jack Lessenberry says Democrats need a new game plan

by: Eric B.

Wed Dec 10, 2014 at 17:38:33 PM EST

Two things are happening right now: It appears that Randy Richardville is introducing his bill to amend term limits, and Margaret O'Brien won the recall contest in the 20th Senate District.

Both bring to mind Jack Lessenberry's column from earlier this week about the Democratic Party and the future.

Twenty years ago, Newt Gingrich led the Republicans to recapture control of both houses of Congress with a simple, easy to understand program called “A Contract With America.”

Democrats ought to look at their playbook. Two of their most popular politicians are Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

Sanders even calls himself a socialist. Yet they win by landslides and people love them, because they stand for something.

Standing for something and a healthy dose of populism might not hurt, but one thing is clear. Democrats need to do something new.

He says that Democrats can't win by being anti-Republicans. I think you can argue with that, because that's how the Republicans keep winning when they have no earthly business doing so, but I think the way they've won has been almost as unhealthy for us as a society as have been their policies. But, I think there is certainly something to the fact that Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are really popular Democrats because they are very articulate in telling people what a more prosperous, egalitarian American society looks like. I think what Lessenberry is calling for here is to give the death sentence to the triangulating of your Bill Clintons and your Jennifer Granholms.

Discuss :: (15 Comments)

Well that was unpleasant

by: Eric B.

Tue Dec 09, 2014 at 14:52:00 PM EST

Some of you might have noticed what was, in effect, a "Closed for business" sign hereabouts the last couple of days. If you follow me or are friends with me on Facebook, you might have seen a more in-depth explanation. If not, suffice to say that there were "technical difficulties" that had the site down for a couple of days (to be truthful, I didn't move on the issues very quickly yesterday because I've been picking up a lot of extra hours at my day job, was sharing a harrowing tale from my weekend, and frankly needed a bit of a break). Also, a very special thank you to David Holtz for messaging me about it at 8 a.m. this morning and waking me from a rather peculiar dream. Much love, bro. Anywho, the issues have been fixed and that steps have been taken to make sure that the same issues don't arise in the future. So, go us.

The episode has prompted me to dust off a pair of long-standing technical goals I've had for the site. The first is to explore leaving the Soapblox platform for WordPress. A longtime friend is currently helping me behind the scenes to explore if we can easily achieve this, what it has to offer and how much user functionality we might lose. So, if you visit the site one day and it looks entirely different, it's because we've done that. No doubt there will be a diary.

The other is entirely behind the scenes. The domains for this website have always been registered with Go Daddy, which has been a source of mild embarassment for me, because of that company's support for SOPA and its cringeworthy Super Bowl ads. That you probably won't notice, but if you have suggestions, I'm happy to entertain them.

Oh yeah, one other thing. I've had a brief conversation or two with yet a different longtime friend about how to further monetize this website. It's been traditionally hard to scrounge up sponsors on off-election years, but that's also unfortunately when the stuff I'm strongest on -- watching legislation -- tends to happen. And, over the years, there've been about half a dozen little thingys that I've tried out that have dried up for one reason or another. We are still doing sponsorships, of course, and if you're interested I'm a pretty easy guy to contact.

Meanwhile, I mentioned picking up extra shifts where I work. Going there right now, matter of fact.

Discuss :: (10 Comments)
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