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Today's lesson in stuff that isn't libellous

by: Eric B.

Thu Aug 27, 2015 at 13:56:07 PM EDT

Woke up this morning to quite a ruckus on these here Internets. Apparently last night MIRS libeled Chad Livengood or something like that. Checked it out and discovered that the bar for what constitytes libel dropped precipitously the last few days. From the MIRS report.

Attorney Andrew ABOOD, Gamrat's attorney, received an Aug. 17 private investigator report by Dalman Investigations, which used PDJ Services to run a search on the number. 

The data that returned was a "C Livingood" connected to a prepaid AT&T phone connected to AT&T's default address on Preston Road in Dallas, Texas. 

The name would seem to imply Detroit News reporter Chad LIVENGOOD, the author of the original story that broke the Courser/Gamrat scandal, but if that's the case, the name supplied to Dalman Investigations by PDJ was spelled incorrectly. 

I see no reason to believe that this implicated Chad, as a matter of fact. My alternate theory for the crime, detective, is that Courser sent the blackmailing messages to himself and instead of trying to smear Livengood, really meant this very straight forward, as in C for Courser is livin' good. Because if there's anything that Todd Courser is doing right now, it's livin' the dream. He might no longer be getting tucked in at naptime by his beloved and it appears that he is headed to an end of ignominy and disgrace, but right now he's riding high in the public spotlight and Todd Courser gives the impression of a man who likes to hear the sound of his own voice.

MIRS may not have libeled anyone, but the news organization did commit a very serious crime, that of revealing salactious details of one of their own. This is the same sort of thing that happens when a media company reports its own financial condition as all rosy right before it is sold for pennies on the dollar to a different hedge fund while, with finger stabbing in the air, bellowing that everyone else must "open their books to public scrutiny." The fact that this new detail adds yet another humorous wrinkle to this dizzying affair and advances the story for public enjoyment is, in this case, less important than demanding double standard treatment for one of their own.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Pass the popcorn: Courser-Gamrat brings out the Tea Party knives

by: Eric B.

Tue Aug 25, 2015 at 11:18:38 AM EDT

By now, you're all aware that the House Business Office concluded its investigation into Courser-Gamrat (and wouldn't this be a great name for an asteroid) and found misuse of public resources. Cue the pointer finger to the side of the nose and the "Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown" references.  What it appears that most everyone has missed is that our House Speaker, Kevin Cotter, started out as a true and loyal Tea Party guy, who never met a "no tax" pledge he wouldn't sign (so, in fact, did Al Pscholka, who Cotter beat out for House Speaker). He didn't run with the popular Tea Party kidz, of course, so he doesn't get the affiliation in the press. Instead, he rode to town on Engler money, where he heard the siren's song of ambition. Courser-Gamrat isn't just a matter of a Romeo and Juliet story featuring two politicians unmoored from reality and lots of Gadsden flags, it's a living, breathing Spy vs. Spy cartoon.

As with all things Tea Party, it's wildly spun off into something else, a circular firing squad of guys who can't shoot straight. Today (actually Sunday), we get the latest from Bizarro Michigan Liberal (now 2.0!). 

Actually I am 50 years old, and if the yellow media Twit Kathy Hoekstra did even a little bit of Research she could easily verify that I bought MY home (3 bedrooms, all on main floor) and moved in on the 4th of July weekend in 2002. (3111 Fuller ave NE Grand Rapids, called a title search, try doing one Kathy Hoekstra, then do your retraction). My Mother moved to GR from the other side of the state, Approx a year After my Stepfather died of Cancer. She first lived with other Family members then later moved into my Home while I was working with a job that kept me on the rd 48 weeks a year.

And that, sports fans, is how you write a lead. No build up, no exposition, just launch right in with your age, random capitalizations and a light lesson in personal geneology.

The rambling screed, and if you thought Todd Courser's were difficult to follow this one will cause smoke to roll out of your ears, was in response to a single sentence written by Detroit News blogger Kathy Hoekstra.

Through it all, however, there is a piece of ringing truth ... that the Tea Part wasn't actually about fiscal issues. It was about social issues, or as most of us understand it ... it was a bunch of enraged old white people who see power they think they are entitled to slipping through their fingers to whom the final insult was that the Oval Office added to its palette of occupiers one with a darker hue of pigmentation.

People keep pointing to various events as the turning point of the Tea Party. This election or that speech or this gathering where someone said something racist to a sea of silently nodding heads or Donald Trump. I would like to offer a competing theory for the crime, detective. The apotheosis for the Tea Party is yet to arrive, but it appears imminent. It will be that moment when the entire shebang implodes like a black (white) hole and its members turn on each other in a geriatric Night of Long Knives for the grammatically challenged and compentency-light set.

Discuss :: (26 Comments)

Michigan's finest legal mind posts Bush endorsement to Facebook, enrages Tea Party

by: Eric B.

Thu Aug 20, 2015 at 13:44:53 PM EDT

Yesterday, whatever drone the attorney general has running his social media platforms posted a link to a Detroit News story in which Michigan's finest legal mind endorsed a Jeb Bush candidacy. As of right now, the link has prompted more than 350 comments ... none of them positive (disclaimer: I posted a comment about how we've found the last remaining losing cause for him to get behind). They are all a treat to read (the one calling Jeb Bush a "dweeb" is my personal favorite). Embedded is a sample from the middle.

If you follow the "shares," you find that the outrage compounds. Angry Tea Party people posting Schuette's endorsement to their own walls, which elicit angry comments from their friends. I have never seen anything like it, and I hope to never see anything like it again. It's a precious, rare gem to behold.

Discuss :: (9 Comments)

Courser speaks from his underground lair as Gamrat compares life as public adulterer to combat vet

by: Eric B.

Sat Aug 15, 2015 at 11:18:19 AM EDT

L'affaire Gamrat-Courser is spinning off into a life of its own, starting last Monday with an audio response to last Friday's Detroit News article and that said that he was being targeted by the "Lansing mafia." Yesterday, Gamrat finally spoke, said she was sorry but wasn't going to resign and then compared what she was going through to what combat veterans have endured. And, apparently, made up a bunch of shit along the way.

In answer to a reporter’s question Friday, Gamrat said she also received some text messages and turned them over to the Michigan State Police. A state police spokeswoman told The News that Courser approached the agency on Friday for the first time — and that Gamrat had not.

“Rep. Courser did come in to the Lapeer post today of his own accord and spoke to an investigator,” spokeswoman Shanon Banner said. “We have opened an investigation. Given it is an open investigation, I have no other information to share.

“In regards to Rep. Gamrat, so far as we know, she has not provided anything to us.”

It's also notable that during yesterday's press conference that Gamrat didn't mention Courser by name, and that this morning brings word that Courser maybe said that Gamrat was lying when she said she didn't know the contents of the "Todd Courser paid for gay prostitute sex" email. So in addition to the dizzying accusations they are hurling at the Republican Establishment, soon they might be publicly tearing into one another. So, we've got that going for us.

P.S. That one guy who heads that one news service -- Gongwer, Michigan branch -- waxes nostalgic about a world that no longer exists.

EXPULSIONS ARE NOT EASY: This might seem obvious, but it needs repeating repeatedly. Expulsions are not easy, on anyone. Riding the wave of rage that the public and even lawmakers can have toward a miscreant legislators, swimming through a chorus of calls to “throw the bum out,” making such a decision seems easy. Just cut the rope and let the dope sink, one thinks, and save yourself.

But passing judgment, deciding who gets tossed from the lifeboat, is very hard. I have served on five juries (just lucky, I guess). I have even had the task of looking a defendant in the eye and pronouncing him or her guilty. I know what it is to be in a jury room when we concluded all the evidence pointed to guilt, and yet, we still hesitated. We still had to go around the room and be sure we were ready to change this person’s life inexorably. We are the ones doing it. Someone is only guilty because we the jurors say he or she is. In the same way, a legislator is only expelled because his or her colleagues decide the person must be expelled.

Welcome to the world of the 1980s, when lawmakers were actually friends because they'd been around each other for the most part a good long while. It might have been difficult to pass judgment back then, but the rest of us live in a lttle year called 2015, when it's very easy for people to pass judgment on others they've only worked around, in this case, for six months. And learned to loathe them all along the way. I mean, Todd Courser hit the ground bitching about his seating assignment.

Does anyone think Kevin Cotter, himself with only four and a half years in Lansing, is going to have any problems giving him and his chronic headaches and the constant embarrassments of his online statements and the Liberty Response to the governor's State of the State speech and all that the heave ho? What has settled Courser's and Gamrat's hash isn't that they were outed as banging while on the public dime. It's that they made genuine, real enemies within their own party. The only question is what Democrats might be able to squeeze ouf of the Republican majority in voting to expel these two.

Discuss :: (15 Comments)

Gamrat to break silence, calls for independent investigation mount

by: Eric B.

Fri Aug 14, 2015 at 10:29:07 AM EDT

When Todd Courser and CIndy Gamrat finally became Lansing official last week, there were two outcomes to this story that were guaranteed: Todd Courser wasn't going to resign and the House Republican leadership was going to flub how it handled it. The only wildcard to all this was what Gamrat would do, since it's not so obvious whether she possesses Courser's Texas-sized ego. We will learn what she will do today at a press conference. Virtually everyone say she shouldn't go through with it. I disagree. I think she needs to hold this press conference, even if she answers no questions from the press, for the ongoing entertainment of the rest of us. I mean, weird humor is the only real payoff to observing Michigan politics these days.

Courser signaled that he would dig in and let them try to blast him out of his bunker. He did this not by expressly saying so, but in every long, rambling message posted to his website. You don't make yourself look like a selfess martyr over your god damned seat if you aren't prepared to get bloody.

As for the House leadership, their conduct is something that cries ot for an independent investigation. Right now, it appears that it reacted with a kind of, "Jesus fucking christ, this is a god damned headache I don't need this summer" sense. But that doesn't mean that someone shouldn't be asking questions, like whether there indeed was collusion to bounce Courser out of office between Kevin Cotter's office and Courser's aides. If that's the case, then this might be a matter where a sitting House Speaker actively sought to strip one of the state's legislative districts of the person they elected to serve in it. That might, in the long run, be in the state's best practical interests, but it's not how things are supposed to get done.

Update! ... Did you expect Gamrat to resign? That would be silly.

“There’s no question that she recognizes that mistakes were made,” Abood said Friday morning in an interview on the Lansing radio station WILS 1320-AM. “The question is, do they give rise to what some may call for resignation? I think that she doesn’t believe that they do as far as some kind of House rule or criminal law or using state resources.”

Abood added: “She believes that once the investigation is done that it’s going to probably not be as big of an issue as what everybody’s making it out to be.

“I think that ... it will give rise to no criminal charges and that there will be a finding that there was no use state resources for her personal interests or affairs.”

In other words ... no.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Conversion to WordPress: Something that will happen by Oct. 15 ... input appreciated

by: Eric B.

Tue Aug 11, 2015 at 13:46:07 PM EDT

Some of you have asked about MichLib's migration to WordPress. Some of you dropped a little coin in the basket to make it happen. This morning, I got official word that the entire Soapblox network will go dark Oct. 15 of this year, and that there's a form for me to fill out to help make that happen.

That's actually super news for everyone, because by the middle of September, things in the gardens should be slow enough for me to have proper time to get this done properly. Unless, of course, El Nino extends the growing season another two months.

Anyway, starting now and probably weekly, I'll be asking for input from you, dear reader, on what you'd like the new site to have and look like. I'll try to incorporate as much as is possible (I've asked about migrating comments history and got a head shake "probably not" on it). If I can't get all the stuff you want by conversion time, I'll try to add it afterwards since I'm a genius like that.

And, don't be afraid to dream on this. This conversion is taking place the fall before a presidential election. I should have time to do it and you all should have plenty of ideas of how better this site can serve you. And, yes, I'll look into building a working app.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Some people who are running for office next year: Melissa Gilbert

by: Eric B.

Tue Aug 11, 2015 at 10:19:02 AM EDT

It's been making the rounds since last night, when I was off working, so I won't link to any particular story, but Melissa Gilbert is running against Mike Bishop in the 8th Congressional District race. This comes a few days or a week or something after Bishop landed on a list of highly vulnerable Republican incumbent Congresspersons.

The stock joke in these matters is that Laura Ingalls hopes to join Cooter and Gopher as charcters from 70s Tee Vee to serve in Congress. I think I'll let the joke make itself and turn my attention to more critcal matters.

Discuss :: (6 Comments)

State officials seize computers, documents from ill-fated lovers

by: Eric B.

Mon Aug 10, 2015 at 14:24:47 PM EDT

Oh my.

State House officials have seized computers and paper records from the offices of Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat as part of an investigation into whether they used taxpayer resources to conceal their relationship, Speaker Kevin Cotter said Monday.

“All of the evidence is protected,” Cotter told The Detroit News. “Nothing can be deleted. We have the servers. We have all of these things. So there’s nothing that’s at risk of being lost at this point.”


Everyone keeps saying that it's not the crime but the coverup. That's wrong in this case. It's neither the crime nor the coverup. It's that both of these people made powerful enemies within their party and then offered enough rope to hang themselves.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

And now, a word from our sponsor

by: Eric B.

Mon Aug 10, 2015 at 13:00:00 PM EDT

Our latest sponsor is the result of a random encounter in a grocery store. I was on a quick break from gardening and talking to a local landscaping guy, mostly picking his brain for tips and ideas, when Toni Sessoms popped around the corner of the aisle, smiled and said hello before ducking back and continuing her shopping. There might have been a bit more back and forth, but this was a couple of months ago, and I was exhausted from working 13 hour days, seven days a week. Anyway, a couple of days later, a letter and sponsorship check showed up.

I cashed the check, but the summer's been too busy to really attend to a lot of the housekeeping around these parts (including, last week, writing three speeches for Mount Pleasant's mayor to deliver this week while representing the town in Japan). Things have cooled down to the point where yesterday I could clear out enough space out of my schedule to attend to things. So, apologies to everyone for my slack-assedness. Those of you who've seen the photos of the kid at Blue Lake Fine Arts camp probably understand.

The first time I met Sessoms, she was the Democratic candidate for the state House's 99th District. This was in 2010, and everything else considered equal, could have had a decent shot at winning what is a competitive district (although you can probably chalk up Kevin Cotter's near defeat in last November's elections as a sign of his general unpopulatiry more than it's swing-y-ness). Her office was about three blocks from where I am currently sitting, writing this. Since then, she's moved offices ... to about four blocks from where I write this. What can I say ... local in Mount Pleasant really means local. She'd like you to know that she is here to serve the legal needs of mid-Michigan families, including providing services in family law, estate planning, adoption and criminal law. I can also attest to the fact, from following her posts over the years, that she's also done some inspiring growing of food. I actually looked into the feasibility of growing my own black beans a few years ago because of stuff she posted (I didn't, because I put my growing space to use on tomatoes, peppers, and squash).

To thank her for her support of this site, then and now (as well as along the way), please visit her page at the Paula Fisher law firm. They are neighbors of mine.

And, as always, if you'd like to sponsor this website, that's something I'm happy to make happen. The end of the summer is looming, and with that there'll be more free time to do this thing.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Tickets to see America's id selling well

by: Eric B.

Mon Aug 10, 2015 at 11:00:00 AM EDT

Over the weekend, after Donald Trump said that Megyn Kelly was only mean to him Thursday night because she was menstruating, there was a little aimless speculation about whether the Michigan Republican Party would -- like Erick Erickson (he, who said that Cindy Sheehan was a publicity whore because she was protesting the war that claimed her son's death at the Brushcutter-in-Chief's ranch last decade) -- would disinvite Trump from its Birch Run event this week.

The answer?

Fresh off a bombastic debate performance and running feud with the Fox News hosts who moderated the debate, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will sweep into Michigan Tuesday for a speech sponsored by the Republican parties of Saginaw and Genesee counties.

The thing is nearly sold out, they are expecting standing room only levels of attendance. That's your answer. As if anyone expected any Republican Party to disinvite an obvious fund raising draw over a little casual misogyny. This is the guy who said that POWs aren't heroes, folks, and his star has only risen since then.

One hates to generalize about the entire party, but when you can't eject bigots from your midst, your front running candidates are bigots who think you can't rape a marital spouse, and even a salacious cover-up of an affair doesn't bring the immediate resignation of an elected official, it's pretty safe to say that the party to which they belong has lost its moral bearing.

Discuss :: (6 Comments)

Todd Courser releases the "liberty response" to Chad Livengood's Friday story

by: Eric B.

Mon Aug 10, 2015 at 09:18:37 AM EDT

To call Todd Courser's audio statement to Friday's Detroit News story about his affair with Cindy Gamrat "long and rambling" is to undersell both how long and rambling it is. It has transcended mere insanity and has hit that very special place previously reserved for things like Col. Kurtz's "I saw a snail crawls along the edge of a razor" broadcast.

The recording is remarkable is that he starts by acknowledging fault and apologizing to everyone but Cindy Gamrat's kids. Then, however, he descends into madness saying that he is the victim of a vast progressive conspiracy intended to promote big government and more taxes. So, for liberty, he will stay in office to fight this out. The expulsion hearings, and let's face it no one actually expected him to resign, will be the stuff that people talk about for years. That they themselves will serve as a false flag for the continued unraveling of the social safety net and the fact that our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect is incapable of fixing the roads will probably go overlooked, however.

What is great and unappreciated about this is that Todd Courser is just the sort of elected official -- defiantly corrupt -- is precisely the sort of elected official the recall process is intended to deal with. He has been caught doing something very wrong and potentially violated public trust by using public resources to help shroud it. The voters of his district -- who deserve all this, since it was clear from early on that his paranoia was matched only in size by his ego -- should be allowed to seek redress of their reputation by bouncing him from office. It's next to impossible to do that, however, because Courser's own party made it next to impossible to do so because they didn't want to face voter wrath over Right to Work. The chickens, as the poet says, have come home to roost ... and they're shitting all over the nest.

P.S. It would be remiss of me not to mention that this isn't the first time that Courser is alleged to have cloaked himself in the mantle of a sexual deviant to get ahead politically. It either takes tremendous native cunning or astonishing stupidity to allow your sexuality to get dragged through the mud like this just to get ahead. Like the man himself at the end of his half hour confession to the public, I'll let you -- dear reader -- draw your own conclusions about what this says about him.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Why do the very best Christians always seem to wind up being the shittiest of people?

by: Eric B.

Sat Aug 08, 2015 at 10:49:40 AM EDT

This is why I can't stomach your stinking organized religion.

Clem said that the statewide Tea Party meeting this weekend will stay focused on different issues, but likely mark the incident in a small way.

"We normally open our meetings with a prayer anyways, so we'll make sure that we remember them and their families in our prayers," Clem said.

For too many people, faith and religious belief is not a path to spiritual enlightenment but a cheap dodge of accountability. How many of the faithful have I met over the years who tell you to your face that they sin because God made us all terrible people, and that when you do terrible things that you need to seek his foregiveness through praryer. Why did I cheat on my wife? Because I am a sinning wretch who requires God's foregiveness to get into Heaven. Now excuse me while I go pull out my spiritual Get Out of Jail Free card and pray to an invisible sky fairy that otherwise exacts no retribution. There is no special need for me to learn from my mistake, because I am as God made me. Oh, you feel that I am maybe a bad person for not feeling worse? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, mofo.

It's because of this that when I meet someone who self-identifies as a Christian, I tend to suspect -- until proven wrong -- that I need to keep a closer watch on my wallet.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Todd Courser attempted to cover up infidelity by pretending to be a closeted homosexual

by: Eric B.

Fri Aug 07, 2015 at 10:04:36 AM EDT

The weirdest lede paragraph on any political story since that one about the kid who got off to running motors running for office in part on an anti-the gays platform.

Lansing — State Rep. Todd Courser planned the distribution of a fictional email alleging he had sex with a male prostitute in a bid to conceal his relationship with Rep. Cindy Gamrat, according to audio recordings obtained by The Detroit News.

Let's all take a moment to enjoy a little bit of schadenfreude.

This story has been burbling along, just beneath the surface, all summer long. It was really a question not of whether but of when it was going to break into the major mainstream media. Good job by Chad Livengood (a fellow CMU alum, and a fellow alum of CM LIfe, the student paper) for doing that.

I do have to give a quick nod to the native cunning and irony in trying to get bigger than the real story, although it's also a sign of how out-of-touch these people are. I doubt very much that a closeted homosexual who gets outed with a male prostitute is likely to be as damaging and hurting two sets of children through marital infideltiy today.

Discuss :: (6 Comments)

Just in time for Republican presidential campaign season, Dave Agema's homophobia resurfaces

by: Eric B.

Mon Aug 03, 2015 at 12:30:11 PM EDT

The RNC is meeting this week. Dave Agema has something he'd like to talk about.

One resolution, titled “Resolution for Balanced Sex-Ed in Schools,” was introduced by former Michigan State House lawmaker and RNC member Dave Agema. It encourages schools “teaching the homosexual lifestyle in their sexual education class” to “also include the harmful physical aspects of the lifestyle.”

The resolution is based on the belief the Republican Party “supports the institution of traditional marriage,” which is considered code for opposition to same-sex marriage. The proposal is also based on questionable assertions that American culture “is portraying the homosexual lifestyle as an attractive option for school-aged children” and the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes says being gay take up to 21 years off a person’s life.

Tempering the resolution is language saying Republicans believe all people should be treated with respect and dignity. The measure also calls for partnership with parents for, among other things, efforts to “increase adolescent education on the spectrum of risks involved in alternative lifestyle.”

If you're now detecting a strange odor in the air, it's the cognitive dissonance of people who think everyone needs to be treated with respect and dignity while continuing to refer to homosexuality as an "alternative lifestyle."
Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Lansing has a primary election next week

by: Eric B.

Fri Jul 31, 2015 at 10:12:01 AM EDT

Following Lansing politics has, in the past, been more a hobby than actual work, but this year the time hasn't been there to give it any real attention. Whatevs, not my town. Next week's primary sort of snuck up on me. If it's any real consolation, I have a conflict, anyway, with Emily Dievendorf running. I've chatted more with her about Hemingway and fishing and the weird fairy ring in her yard than any of the rest of you losers, so I'm probably biased.

That said, a couple of things pop up, like the race in the third ward where the incumbent has pulled a Dennis Lennox.

Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum said yesterday she is looking into several possible violations of state campaign law. But the bigger issue may be an ethical one over Boles’ use of city funds to send a newsletter to select constituents in the last weeks of the campaign. 

She sent two newsletters with public funds, the first one sent to a random group of absentee ballot voters, and the second to a random group of primary day voters. The timing certainly stinks to high heaven if it's not illegal.

The second thing that pops up does so in this basic, standard piece of campaign journalism ... demonstrating why basic, standard campaign journalism is usually so utterly worthless.

As the only at-large incumbent seeking re-election, Wood has served on council since 2000. She has served on and chaired every council committee..

Ignore, for a second, the crime against grammar. Part of the joy of following Lansing city politics has always been Carol Wood's curious relationship to the English language. It pains me to say this, although there is probably not a chance in hell that she loses (the rap on her is that she does very well at delivering for her constituents), but people's tenuous grasp on language guidelines is an appropriate campaign thing. But, no one ever makes it so. Why? Probably because it's considered mean and elitist. For horrible people like me, who don't care, that's no real impediment; but voters at large should b permitted to take someone's ability to communicate coherently into account. After all, this person respresents them.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)
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