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Open yer thread like it ain't gonna never open thread again

by: Eric B.

Sat Apr 25, 2015 at 11:11:48 AM EDT

I bought a new phone last Friday, which was rather timely since on Saturday my Droid 2 died for good. Borrowed an old flip-style phone from a co-worker Sunday, but by Wednesday a Samsung Galaxy 4 had arrved.

This is the same model of phone the kid has been using the last few years. Well, used it on and off. He went through I think three of them, all of them ending in broken screens. The last time, he got grounded for not telling either his mother or I that he'd broken it. He also got grounded because the story he told us about how it got broken felt sketchy. When he replaced hs phone last time, he also bought a waterproof, shockproof case to protect the screen.

I bought the exact same model of case, in fact, because, well, he inherited his clumsiness from someone. True to form, Wednesday evening while I was preparing dinner, I knocked my phone off the kitchen table. It landed flat.

The case arrived yesterday. Same model and same color as his. Aside from the fact that our phones have different apps in different places, you wouldn't be able to tell them apart. Well, there's one distinct difference. My screen is cracked.

The thread, she be open.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Local attorney goes off his nut, alleges conspiracy, sues everyone

by: Eric B.

Fri Apr 24, 2015 at 15:28:55 PM EDT

This isn't politics, per se, but it is damn funny.


Mount Pleasant attorney Todd Levitt filed a civil lawsuit Thursday against The Morning Sun, Digital First Media, two Central Michigan University professors and attorney Gordon Bloem.


Lisa Yanick-Jonaitis, community engagement editor of The Morning Sun, College of Business professors James Felton and Kenneth Sanney and Bloem are named in the lawsuit. Levitt is accusing the defendants of libel and slander, false light invasion of privacy, intentional interference with business expectancy, infliction of emotional distress and reckless conduct through the published work of The Morning Sun. Levitt is seeking $1 million in damages for each count.

Lisa Yanick-Jonaitis is, among other things, mother to my son, so I've been in on the ground floor of this since it broke a couple of weeks ago. She's also a lot more pleasant to be around than I am, so it's sort of surprising that if anyone was going to get sued it would be her. Anyway, I share this for two reasons: A. A lot of readers of this blog in Michigan's journalism community came through Mount Pleasant during college, and know who she is, and B. It's been one of the most popular ongoing stories I've shared through social media the last couple of years. People all over the state and in fact all over the country have been entertained by it.

I'd be remiss if I didn't share the full backstory, which is that this started out as a lawsuit over a parody Twitter account. The attorney in question represents a lot of CMU students who get DUIs and minor drug possession cases. He's also never quite fully matured and acts like he is still in his 20s (what a shit age to get stuck on).

The Twitter lawsuit got dismissed, although for some reason the judge never ruled that Levitt is a public figure, which he very much is (at one point, he had his own IMDB page). So rather than walk away, he's responded by suing absolutely everyone, alleging a conspiracy ... among other things. My guess is that he's hoping to squeeze some money out of the newspaper company during an out-of-court settlement. In the old days, the newspaper would have told him to go fuck himself, but the thing ultimately is owned by a hedge fund today and the possibility that they'd throw their people under the bus isn't one you should entirely discount.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Rustic yahoo says his god demands that he interfere in others' lives

by: Eric B.

Fri Apr 24, 2015 at 11:02:30 AM EDT

In case anyone had forgotten that the 7th District is represented in Congress by a religious zealot, Tim Walberg would like to remind you that it is.

“It is clearly taught by Jesus the Christ himself,” Walberg preached to members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, “for those of us who believe in him — and I understand and I accept the fact that there are those who don’t — but he said render unto Caesar what’s Caesar’s and God what’s God’s, and I think that’s an important consideration for us on this committee tonight.”

Claiming Jesus in a political dispute is inflammatory, particularly when you accuse your opponents, as Walberg did, of “a continued attack on religion.” The appeal to theocracy Tuesday night was even more incendiary because it was used to justify a bid to strike down a new District of Columbia law protecting women from workplace discrimination if they receive fertility treatments, use birth control or have abortions.

Disagree with that, by the way, and you're not just holding a different opinion; you're attacking his faith. It's how these pocket edition authoritarians get away with it all the time ... no one wants to appear to be on record attacking someone else's religious beliefs because we've convinced ourselves that this is a bad thing.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

These people are still on about "the gays" and it makes no sense whatsoever

by: Eric B.

Thu Apr 23, 2015 at 10:37:11 AM EDT

The Lansing Bubble at work.

LANSING, MI — A Michigan Senate panel on Wednesday advanced controversial legislation that would allow adoption agencies who contract with the state to deny service to prospective parents based on sincerely held religious beliefs.

Supporters say the three-bill package, approved by the Republican majority in a series of 4-1 votes, would codify existing policy and protect faith-based agencies from any future regulations that may conflict with their religious tenets.

This is a movement in the process of flaming out. These people have no idea how much people are tired of this kind of shit happening. It blew up all over Indiana, and the people who passed that law were utterly clueless that it was about to happen before it did. It's because they are oblivious to the world around them, getting their information for a very confined set of sources. They have no idea how out of touch their internal values are, or how little interest most people have in seeing them codified. They are in desperate need of someone taking them aside, smacking them, and telling them to focus on their jobs ... instead of the job they imagine they have.

Discuss :: (6 Comments)

Media coverage of me calling Ted Cruz a clown

by: Eric B.

Mon Apr 20, 2015 at 13:43:08 PM EDT

In case you haven't, you can download last week's episode of Off the Record -- on which I was paneled with Tony T. and Dennis Lennox and Brandon Hall -- here. A lot of people have given Tony high props for his performance. I thought he was letting Dennis Lennox off the hook. I thought he should have not let Dennis Lennox talk over him quite so much. But, whatever.

Anyway, Chad Selweski watched the show and wrote a centrist thing about it. My favorite part?

Baerren also ignited the free-for-all with this simple description of Cruz: “A clown.” 

This is something that I'm proud of having had the opportunity to so publicly and prominently say that if it wound up on my tombstone I'd be satisfied with that.

Discuss :: (8 Comments)

The grift that keeps on giving

by: Eric B.

Mon Apr 20, 2015 at 13:38:04 PM EDT

I think we're seeing a pattern emerging: Rightwing loonie says or does something very loony and pays a very public social cost for doing it. Other rightwing loonies see this as a violation of his or her god-given right to say loonie thing without fear of consequence and dumps money into that person's bank account. Except with the guy who won't fix gay cars in Grandville, it didn't work.

Next test case: Livonia.

A Michigan tree trimmer and one of his employees set up a display featuring a Confederate flag and a pair of nooses – and they don’t care about neighbor complaints.

Of course they don't care. In fact, there's good reason to bank on them hoping that their enraged neighbors give them a money bomb pay day.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Rick Snyder is not going to run for president

by: Eric B.

Mon Apr 20, 2015 at 10:50:47 AM EDT

Our benevolent overlord Rick Michigan has created another slush fund, which people are saying might be a sign that he will get into the GOP clown car of presidential aspirants. This is the second of today's posts of "Things that are not going to happen."

First off, let's just simply be honest about the occupants of that clown car: Most of the people who we are today talking about as potential presidential contenders are not, in fact, serious. They are doing something else. Some, like Ted Cruz, are simply out to bilk as many rubes as is possible before things get serious and they bail ... with whatever cash they can walk off with. Teh Nerd certainly isn't one of these people. No, you can read this as him trying to raise his profile for some other reason ... like maybe serving in the next presidential administration.

I am peering into my crystal ball right now, to late 2016 ... say, mid-November. President-elect Hillary Clinton, and right now I see no reason to think that any of the clowns is going to beat her, is putting together her administration. For his role in turning Michigan around, the name Rick Snyder is being seriously bandied about as transportation secretary ... because Michigan and because bi-partisan and also because not batshit crazy. That is, if he's not tapped by whatever clown gets the Republican nomination to be the vice presidential candidate.

But, let's be clear ... we should be speculating on what he's really doing, not that he's taking a serious shot at being the top seat in the corporation.

Discuss :: (11 Comments)

Freep does an article on water diversions to the desert Southwest

by: Eric B.

Mon Apr 20, 2015 at 09:48:04 AM EDT

I'm not sure why we're all of a sudden seeing an uptick in articles about Great Lakes water and diversions and whatever the Hell it was that Jack Spencer was on about the other day. The Freep had another one over the weekend that's kinda, sorta interesting. It seems like the thing, however, once a region of the nation goes into drought the Great Lakes states start to go into a mild panic because we assume that they're coming for our water. Back when there was a drought in Georgia and the deep South a few years back, there was some very loose talk here and there about trying to raid the Great Lakes via the Mississippi, but it wasn't anything terribly strong. In fact, when my friends who live in the deep South taunt us during the winter, I return fire by wishing them luck during their next drought. Like most droughts, it's about 25 percent Mother Nature and 75 percent human use wastage.

Let's all just settle down over this. The most efficient way to move large amounts of water from one region to another is via pipeline. Those bladder ships wouldn't be able to carry enough, fast enough to make any real difference (they'd be enough for the wealthy, however, and since there is no better American than one with ALL THE MONEYS, we might have to reconsider this). And, to pipe all that water to the Southwest would require moving it uphill, and water is heavy, so that would be a hugely energy intensive effort. And, we're talking about how we're already going to be in an energy deficit because our electrical infrastructure is old and wasteful and no one has bothered to invest in new generation a whole lot.

By the way, just to rip off the bandage over a healing wound ... this is why the last governor, to her credit, was none too keen on bottled water. It was about setting a legal precedent about diverting water from the Great Lakes Basin, not a fear that Nestle is going to drain the Great Lakes. You'd have to be a disingenuous person to say that's what they were arguing.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Open thread weekend: And here comes Eric with stories of gardening

by: Eric B.

Sat Apr 18, 2015 at 11:05:54 AM EDT

This summer, I've taken over gardening duties at our local brewpub. The thing is owned by Mount Pleasant's mayor, who happens to be a local Republican (and one who voted in favor of expanding our human rights ordinance). I was there yesterday afternoon, tilling and weeding one of the tomato beds in preparation for planting lettuce. I worked the bed a quarter at a time, and halfway through had gotten so thirsty that I walked up to the back of the restaurant and asked the owner -- who was coming out -- where I could get some water. After answering, he told me not to talk politics to his employees because he didn't want them unionizing in his absence. He was just joking ... I think.

Open thread-a-me.

Discuss :: (21 Comments)

We're this ][ close to reaching our Donation-a-thon 2015 goal ... let's get 'er across the line

by: Eric B.

Fri Apr 17, 2015 at 13:00:00 PM EDT

This is the final weekend for Donation-a-thon 2015, and we're only about $100 away from meeting our paltry goal of $700. Let's not end on sad, depressing failure. Let's go out with a bang!

Next week, out of respect and admiration for everyone who has donated, I'll release the choice of theme that we're going to migrate MichLib to, and I'll start soliciting ideas for how to make it more accessible for you, the MichLib community.

Why should you support this migration and the future of this website? For a testimonial, we go to the post I wrote this morning about Jack Spencer's dishonest piece on bottled water, climate change and the variability of lake levels. With so many contractions in the news industry, a lot of institutional memory has been lost, making it all the more possible for people to think they can get away with dishonest work. Well, I was around back then, covering the issue as a columnist for the local paper and then through this blog as water bottler lost on the merits and the Taylor court had to diminish standing for the Michigan Environmental Protection Act in a way never intended by the people who passed it. You support this site and its move to new digs, you support the existence of memory that says, "Umm, sorry, no. You're facts are all wrong."

Donate through the button, or mail money directly. Make checks out to Eric Baerren, and send them to 319 S. Oak St., Apt. A, Mount Pleasant, MI 48858. This weekend, I'll be doing those hand written thank you notes for everyone who sends stuff in via snail mail.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Tim Walberg says repealing the estate tax creates jobs, declined to say how

by: Eric B.

Fri Apr 17, 2015 at 12:30:00 PM EDT

Rustic yahoo Tim Walberg sent out a press release this morning, calling for the repeal of the "death tax." Annnnnnd, back to 2002 we go.

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tim Walberg (MI-07) released the following statement after voting to repeal the death tax. In a letter to Congress, 81 organizations in the Family Business Coalition write that this “legislation will help America’s family businesses create jobs, expand operations, and grow the economy.”

Ignoring that the entire case for repealing the estate tax is both built on a foundation of flimsy, documented lies and that doing so also attacks the meritocracy that it supposed to be a bedrock principle of a free market society that practices self-rule, not rule through established dynasties, it's also underpants gnomes tax policy. It would be great if reporters doing this story actually asked how this creates jobs and demanded specific answers.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

CapCon drone misses point on climate change, misrepresents USGS work

by: Eric B.

Fri Apr 17, 2015 at 11:08:11 AM EDT

Life is just a lot easier when you simply make shit up.

Michigan legislators once tried restricting the sale of bottled water for fear of running out. Today, water levels are once again high and rising.

This is a complete and utter fabrication on Jack Spencer's part. "Legislators" did not try restricting the sale of bottled water because anyone was afraid that we were going to run out of water. The attempts to restrict the sale of bottled water was based on the belief that a private company taking water -- a resource owned communally by all the people of Michigan -- and shipping it out of the basin constituted a diversion of Great Lakes water. People who disagreed simply applied to them the position that we have a lot of groundwater in Michigan so it's no big deal ... because precedent and context and actual legal tradition are nuisances to them.

The thing -- the "article" -- winds its way through natural variability and climate change, hinting that maybe it's a giant fake-out in the same way that people who say that because it's cold in January that there is no such thing as global warming, until it gets to bottled water. The bottled water wars of the early part of last decade had nothing to do with climate change, or course, and had nothing to do with the Great Lakes, excepting the legal argument that setting a precedent by which one private company diverts water from the geologic basic could lead to large scale withdrawals to help parched regions of the nation is a bad idea. But, what are facts but things that get in the way of a harrowing narrative.

Legislative hearings were held in the Michigan Capitol, at which testimony attesting to the severity of the alleged crisis was taken. A bevy of laws — some quite draconian – were passed, supposedly to address the situation. A coalition led by the group Clean Water Action demanded that Michigan bottled water companies be required to sell at least 95 percent of their water within the Great Lakes basin.

The "draconian" law he linked to doubled the fines for people who violated the terms of their water withdrawal permit, which were established according to a new groundwater mapping tool that let people know how much water they could safely withdraw without harming neighboring wells or surface water in lakes and rivers. It's hardly establishing the death penalty for people guilty of hoarding water or anything. But, you know, the narrative...

By the way, the sponsor of that law? Patty Birkholz, who within the confines of the Lansing Bubble was considered an eco-friendly Republican, which considering how bad the Lansing Bubble gets it wrong on most environmental issues, is kind of like saying that Ted Bundy was the warmest and fuzziest of serial murderers.

Geologists, such as those at the United States Geological Survey say that fluctuations of Great Lakes water levels were far more extreme in the past than in modern times. However, these geologists and other experts who have spent their careers studying the sedimentary evidence (going back centuries) of changing water levels were not invited to speak at any legislative hearings.

Here, he just completely misrepresents what the United States Geological Survey reported and had the chutzpah to link to the study in which they said it. Since he glossed over it, I'll share.

Prehistoric variations in lake levels have exceeded by as much as a factor of 2 (that is, more than 3 meters) the 1.6-meter fluctuation that spanned the 1964 low level and the 1985-87 high level. One such high level occurred in the 17th century before the Great Lakes area was widely settled by Europeans. Greater lake-level fluctuations related to future climate change are not only possible, but are probable. However, the impact of possible future global warming on the magnitude and frequency of water-level cycles remains uncertain. Ice ridges along the lakeshore, sometimes as high as 7 meters, do not protect the shoreline from winter erosion, as previously thought.

Emph. mine, while acknowledging that the next sentence points to an uncertain future, which is really the point. We don't know what the future we are creating is going to look like, but it looks like it is not going to be a positive future.

Also, has nothing to do with bottled water.

Meanwhile, more dishonesty.

In September 2005, the Granholm administration was trying to restrict the ability of the Nestle Ice Mountain water plant in Mecosta County to export its product outside of the Great Lakes basin. Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, stopped over in Michigan and criticized what was going on.

“You're surrounded by the largest collection of water in the world,” Gingrich said. “Do you know how ideologically out of touch with reality you are if you've concluded that Michigan could run out of water?”

Quoting a blowhard con artist like Newt Gingrich is always a dicey proposition, and that goes double on issues he can just sort of parachute into. Like this, which was never about running out of water. It was about setting a precedent by which Great Lakes water could be diverted outside the basin. So, no, Newt Gingrich didn't criticize what was going on. He criticized a fabrication of what was going on, because that's what Newt Gingrich does.

And we end where we started, with Jack Spencer speaking to a reality crafted entirely in his imagination.

Clean Water Action of Michigan was contacted and asked: In light of the rebound of the Great Lakes water levels, could it now be said that your call to limit bottled water sales outside of the Great Lakes basin was shortsighted?

So far there has been no response.

Why would Clean Water Action of Michigan respond to such an asinine question. It bears no resemblance to their position on bottle water sales outside the Great Lakes Basin.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Vandals, nihilists and anti-government whackjobs

by: Eric B.

Fri Apr 17, 2015 at 09:16:06 AM EDT

And, no, I'm not talking about our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect, either. It's that guy who everyone has heard about, who said that he wouldn't fix gay cars.

At this point, it's nearly impossible to sort out which of these people is being very serious and which of them are simply running a grift on easily duped right wingers. Say something that enrages everyone, and when everyone responds, claim victimhood and watch the cash roll in. Like those pizza people in Indiana, who probably make really shitty pie and then got famous and then got rich for doing no work. It's an asshole subsidy.

Anyway, the Michigan auto shop dealer is unlicensed and thinks that licensing rules violate his Constitutional rights. Because of course.

Brian Klawiter earlier this year told the City Council that requiring a license violates his constitutional rights because it authorizes city inspectors to enter his property without a warrant.

"This is a blatant and intentioned violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution," Klawiter told the council on Jan. 26. "I dispute your lawful ability to do what you claim. I will not sign the application. I cannot and will not give up my civil rights, especially when requested by a government entity for which the Constitution was designed to limit the power of.

"Would you sign something giving me the right to search your home as I pleased?"

These guys don't believe in the Constitution. These guys don't believe in anything. They are political nihilists. Let's all of us stop referring to them as patriots or liberty lovers or freedom fries or whatever they call themselves because they aren't. They don't believe in any sort of social contract. If they felt the urge, if by the aggregate they weren't all so uptight that you could smoothly insert a broom handle into their backsides, they would sit naked in their front lawns, waving their little willies at passers by, and when someone complained accuse them of attempted censorship.

Which is essentially what has happened here.

Klawiter earlier this week posted on Facebook that he wouldn't hesitate to refuse to do business with openly gay customers, prompting threats of death and damage to his business and home. At least one attempt to egg the building at 2875 Ottawa Ave. SW was thwarted.

Death threats? Let's follow the embedded link.

Brian Klawiter, who runs DieselTec, 2875 Ottawa Ave. SW, posted on Facebook Thursday morning that his family had received death threats and that others had threatened to burn down his business and home.

Back in the day, when news agencies had things called copy desks -- quality control for you sinners not in The Biz -- the previous snippeted paragraph would, without confirmation of the existence of said death threats, have been corrected to say that the business owner had posted to Facebook that he has received death threats, because boy I just suspect that the sort of person who becomes outraged at being asked to pay $100 for a city business license might just invent death threats to shift the blame of him saying something else incredibly stupid.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

GOP House caucus gives Cindy Gamrat, but not because she's a nut

by: Eric B.

Fri Apr 17, 2015 at 08:45:09 AM EDT

Someone informed me of this yesterday. Thought I'd share.

LANSING, MI - Freshman state Rep. Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, has been indefinitely removed from the Michigan House Republican caucus.

Gamrat, a tea party favorite, allegedly broke caucus confidentiality rules by posting a comment on Facebook during an off-campus budget workshop on Wednesday afternoon.

I look forward to Rochelle Riley's forthcoming column about how Gamrat is brave and a real elected leader for breaking ranks with her party's leadership to pursue her beliefs or whatever.

On second thought, that is not a thing I am looking forward to.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Donation-a-thon 2015: Just short of our goal ... help if you can!

by: Eric B.

Thu Apr 16, 2015 at 15:53:14 PM EDT

We're enterng the final days of Donation-a-thon 2015. And, we're about $150 short of the $700 goal set at the start of this. Who are you to not us reach our goal?

Seriously, the support is appreciated. And a little more would certainly help. Remember, this year's Donation-a-thon is supporting our eventual migration to Wordpress. The theme I've been looking at is $50, Soapblox said consulting fee through them on how to do the work will probably cost around $150 and I've a good, old friend who said he'd also consult and I'd like to get him something nice for his efforts. We're also going to make a few other tweaks, like find a new hosting service and the ongoing search for an alternative to Go Daddy. So, your donations are an investment in the site and in general making the Internet a better place. Might even wind up with a working MichLib smartphone app out of the deal. Who knows.

If you haven't, you can drop a little coin by clicking the embedded button. As in years past, donations have ranged from $10 to $100, with most people between $25 and $50. I'd take a sack of hickory nuts as currency, and devote the money I would otherwise spend on food that day.

You can also mail checks (make them out to Eric Baerren) to 319 S. Oak St. Apt. A, Mount Pleasant, MI 48858. Anyone who sends money that way will receive a hand written thank you note from me. My signature will be on the letter, so later on in life you can fold it up and use it as a cheap coaster before tossing it into a fire.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)
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