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While you were away, a mockery was made of democracy

by: Eric B.

Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 11:26:03 AM EDT

Actually it was while I was away, and I heard about it via e-mail. Thanks for ruining part of my vacation, jerk (you know who you are), and thanks for sapping my phone of precious battery juice that might have otherwise allowed me to snap a photo of the toilet at the trailhead.

Anyway, this happened.

Has the will of the people been usurped by the Legislature so that we no longer have a voice? This happened recently with the minimum wage petition, which prompted the Legislature to raise the minimum wage in a ploy to thwart Democrats from coming to the polls to vote on raising minimum wage. The Legislature’s pending vote on hunting wolves will thwart Public Act 21, rendering the voice of the people, on the separate ballot issue to protect Michigan’s wolves, pointless.

We need transparency, not further deception. A rushed vote is reminiscent of how Michigan’s right-to-work legislation was passed. This Legislature seems to forget that it works for the people, not the other way around. I am hoping that the initiative submitted by the Citizens for Wildlife Management will be voted down, restoring confidence to the voters that this state is still a democracy.

It's a letter ot the editor written by Linda Samelson of West Bloomfield, not an actual unsigned editorial.

Where are the state's editorial boards on this? This wasn't just about allowing people to kill animals for fun, which it is. This is also about a concerted campaign to prevent people from making use of a democratic process specifically built into the state constitution to redress grievances with shit done by our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Another day, another scandal involving former NERD-paid, Skunk Works mastermind Richard Baird

by: Eric B.

Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 08:17:33 AM EDT

So, this broke last night.

LANSING — A top aide to Gov. Rick Snyder says he’ll immediately pay local property taxes that he says were “inadvertently” exempted on his Lansing-area house at the same time he took a similar exemption on a long-time home in the Chicago area.

Not just that, but he also appears to be registered to vote in both Illinois. It's some of that voter fraud the Republicans have been warning us about for years.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Like professional wrestling, except with more colorful characters and less believable story lines

by: Eric B.

Thu Aug 21, 2014 at 13:00:00 PM EDT

You can tell that this weekend's Michigan Republican Party convention is going to be great when the selection of delegates prompted this sort of news copy.

Waterford Township sent at least six uniformed police officers and an undisclosed number of plainclothes officers, which the county party will pay for, Thienel said.

“The tea party people have advocated throwing chairs if they don’t get what they want,” Thienel told The Detroit News before the meeting.

It's hard to know if he's serious or if he's posing for the cameras, so to speak, and playing to the Tea Party's reputation for getting on with others ... but, damn, doesn't it sum those people up nicely? As Charles Pierce notes, we have to assume that he's talking about the chairs themselves and not the people occupying them.

Presumably, when Mr. Thienel says that the Tea Party people advocated "throwing chairs," he meant furniture, and not the people sitting in them, as in, "The Chair rules that Delegate Crackbottom is out of order and should get down off the damn chandelier."

Keep in mind that this is coming out of Oakland County, which is not just our most prosperous county but also supposed to be the most refined one in the state.

And, of course, what will these people be asked to decide this weekend, besides to leave the furniture alone?

“Brian is an outstanding lieutenant governor,” Snyder said Tuesday evening after addressing supporters at a new Republican Party office in the Ann Arbor area. “I believe he’s the best in the country. He’s a strong voice in our administration, and he’s made a difference on a lot of important things.”

Calley will be challenged Saturday by tea party organizer Wes Nakagiri, who contends the lieutenant governor has not done enough to move the Snyder administration in a more conservative direction.

Yes, our current lieutenant governor was most effective in getting lawmakers to pass an expansion of Medicaid while his boss was in Israel. Of course, with the loon crowd who want him tossed off the ticket, not being able to move the governor's agenda through the Legislature, which is what he was sold as in the first place, is probably not a reason to bounce him off the ticket, since Medicaid expansion is one of the reasons Nakagiri thinks that unless he's given a job of serious importance in government -- a job he is otherwise unqualified to hold -- the Republic will implode into a neo-Roman supernova.

This all is great, especially if you don't live in this state where you have to deal directly with the fallout of this clown show.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

The taste is ever sweeter when the flesh you feast on be that of your own

by: Eric B.

Thu Aug 21, 2014 at 11:18:10 AM EDT

Social conservatives are outraged that business interests aren't terribly enamored with their "Gays burn in Hell" routine. From MIRS.

Social conservative activists raised questions this morning about a combined $100,000 in contributions given to House Speaker Jase BOLGER's leadership PAC by a pair of prominent business executives involved in promoting gay rights issues.

MIRS reported last month that Bolger's "Restore Michigan Fund" received $50,000 from Tim GILL, a Denver software entrepreneur known for his support of LGBT issues (See LGBT Activist Gives $75K To Bolger, Foster Leadership PACs," 7/25/14). Days after the state closed the books on the reporting period, Bolger reported a $50,000 late contribution from Wall Street investor Paul SINGER, founder of the American Unity PAC. 


Detroit Pastor Stacy SWIMP and others within his "Black Christian Pastors" wrote in a press released today that Bolger and the Michigan Republicans "dance with the devil" on Elliott Larsen.

The pastors said Gov. Rick SNYDER and other Republicans risk losing the votes of Christian families in the upcoming 2014 general election "if they rush to hop in the same political bed with homosexual activists."

I'll let you make the jokes about Rick Snyder jumping into bed with homosexual activists. That sort of precision humor is currently beyond me. As for Stacy Swimp. I'm glad to see that they've stopped referring to him as The Rev., since there are legitimate questions as to whether it's a title he's earned. The next step, the next logical step, is to just simply stop referring to him altogether, since it appears that he mostly just speaks for himself.

If you have access, you'll get the added privilege of seeing Mad Jack Hoogendyk make a reappearance. This is gratifying, since I think most of us assumed that he died during the massive implosion of his last campaign to win office.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

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

by: Eric B.

Thu Aug 21, 2014 at 10:29:40 AM EDT

Another day without a sponsor is like a cup of coffee with no coffee, or a cup of tea with no cup. It's just a puddle of liquid sitting around on the counter. In another day or so, I'm going to break out photos of sad clowns and puppies and stuff if we don't get a sponsor for MichLib for the next while. And, if there's one thing you people can count on, it's me making good on threats to punish you. It's what I live for.

What does your sponsorship get you? Aside from a prominent place on a website read by media and political people -- activists, elected officials, journalists, staffers, etc... -- and a cheap introduction, you get to contribute to our efforts here not just to point out the harrowing inconsistencies and hypocrises in the media, but why things we generally think are important are important and why things we generally think are unimportant are unimportant. That includes our ongoing efforts to stop the media from making big deals out of trivialities, and to ridicule the stupider side of politics. Also, I'm mostly recovered from last week's backpacking trip, so content should be rolling by this afternoon. You support that, too.

How much does it cost? $360 a month, $100 a week, or $25 by the day. It's peanuts, but they're peanuts that this circus clown would be most gratified to have.

If you're interested, please drop me a line at ebaerren@michiganliberal.com, via text message at 517/881-8008 or over teh social medias [sic]. As past sponsors with special requests can attest, I'm really very flexible in working with people.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

No, Gary Peters' investment in a French oil company does not raise eyebrows

by: Eric B.

Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 17:25:09 PM EDT

Chad Selweski found a post at the Detroit News opinion blog thing that he linked to because it was supposed to do what Chad Selweski like to do, pretend that everyone is equally terrible so you don't have to take a position on someone's awfulness. In this case, it's Terri Lynn Land's awfulness as a candidate and the mysterious $3 million and whatnot. Or, in the case of the original post that Selweski links to, a portion of Gary Peters' investment portfolio.

Kudos to Brandon Helderop, a New Hudson freelance writer, who has reportedly uncovered a glaring bit of hypocrisy in Senate candidate Gary Peters’ personal finances.

A Republican activist, Helderop wrote on his blog that the Democratic congressman, who paints himself as pro-environment and anti-Keystone pipeline, has a large investment in a French oil company, Total S.A. France. According to the company’s website, they are the fifth largest publicly-traded international oil and gas company in the world.

How large an investment, what percentage of his total portfolio is invested in oil? We're never actually told, only that it's large. So, what about the hypocritical nature of this particular investment? It's pure "Al Gore flies in jets, so he doesn't care about climate change" nonsense. It's expecting someone to hold themselves to a standard that you yourself set for them and that is arbitrary and unrealistic.

First off, Total S.A. isn't behind the Keystone pipeline. A Canadian pipeline company is. Second, petroleum isn't the same thing as the petroleum-like substance synthesized from Canadian tar sands. Third, the only way this smacks the slightest of hypocrisy is if Gary Peters has ever in his life said that we need to stop burning all petroleum right this instant, which not only hasn't ever happened but would be, well, an insane thing to say (we should stop burning petroleum, but we are currently dependent upon it).

So, there's no "glaring hypocrisy" or anything else here. It's just that Gary Peters' investment portfolio includes holdings in energy, which if you want an investment portfolio that is, you know, successful, you probably want.

This is great stuff for rightwing bloggers to flog. These people are mostly bellowing and shouting the same kind of thing about Tom Steyer just as they did it when they discovered that Al Gore's house used a lot of electricity (also that Al Gore at one point was heavy). This is the sort of thing that works to whip the rubes into a right frenzy and into believing that they're on to something. In some circles, Al Gore's energy use is still considered a reliable excuse to say that climate change is a myth.

Chad Selweski isn't a rightwing blogger, however. He's a centrist columnist who should know better than to fall for this sort of thing. Hopefully anyone who reads his post will be smart enough not to join him.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Bridge says that governor was lying when he lied about pension tax

by: Eric B.

Tue Aug 19, 2014 at 12:30:00 PM EDT

The thing I hate the most about Very Serious Person-driven political truth squading is the tendency to try to parse things down to finite details rather than just simply coming out and saying something. For instance, when our benevolent overlord Rick Michigan helped scale back Michigan's pension tax credit, everyone recognized that while it was technically ending a tax credit that it was in fact a new tax on pensions, which had been previously safe from taxation. Everyone understood this because of the very simple cause-and-effect relationship involved: Income from pensions that was previously untaxed because of a tax credit were now subject to the income tax.

Earlier this summer, our benevolent overlord Rick Michigan tried to get out from under that by telling a room from olds that it wasn't actually a pension tax. Everyone kind of laughed because it was so bald faced and obvious. Bridge this morning finally got around to flagging it as a "foul."

For those keeping score at home, it was a more significant lie than last year's PolitiFact's lie of the year, which was the president saying that if you like you insurance that you could keep it. What makes these different is that when people's health insurance got canceled, it was mostly the insurance companies doing the canceling and not the president. This is a public official who is actually responsible for something and trying to duck accountability for it by passing it off as something that it ain't.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

If'n you please, no longer refers to Michigan simply as "a dump"

by: Eric B.

Tue Aug 19, 2014 at 12:11:12 PM EDT

"Too much proximity to folly tends to make it seem normal."--Ed Abbey

As some of you already know, I just got back from backpacking yesterday afternoon. I was gone a week, which was apparently just long enough for this to strike me as idiocy of the highest order.

As other states ban landfills from accepting low-level radioactive waste, up to 36 tons of the sludge already rejected by two other states was slated to arrive in Michigan late last week.

Let me sum up the story for you: A landfill in Wayne County is accepting low-level radioactive fracking waste that other states won't accept and that, in the case of Ohio, the state's were recommending Michigan as a destination. Among the many WTF questions from that previous question is just how much radioactive waste is created through fracking that doesn't actually get removed from the well?

This is your addiction to fossil fuels, people, and it's killing humanity's future one day at a time.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Terri Lynn Land: A taker, not a maker

by: Eric B.

Tue Aug 19, 2014 at 11:37:09 AM EDT

Today we learn what Terri Lynn Land's effective tax the last three years: Less than 3 percent.

Land’s payments to the tax man are less clear. In July, Land released her 2012 and 2013 tax records to The News, showing she filed separately from her husband, Daniel Hibma — a wealthy west Michigan developer — and earned $44,726 in 2012 and $89,729 in 2013. Her effective tax rate was 2.7 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively.

On Monday, Land defended her low tax rate, saying it was due to her substantial contributions to charity.

The average Michigan taxpayer paid an effective tax rate of 12.9 percent of adjusted gross income in 2012, while the national average was 13.7 percent, according to the most recently available Internal Revenue Service data.

That's effective tax rate on her earned income, mind you. She was able to get away with an effective tax rate of below 5 percent -- below 5 percent -- because a lot of the money she made came by way of capital gains from an apartment building she owns. The entire story, by the way, should be required reading by all members of the media as it relates to issues that are of actual substantive importance in understanding who it is that we're being asked to vote for. It's a useful alternative to the mishmash of horse race nonsense and summaries of political ads that have constituted political campaign coverage the last couple of cycles. Who these people are is how they will help govern.

In this case, Terri Lynn Land doesn't have much use for a day job. She can literally give away most of her income to charity because most of her money comes in via investment. How many people do you know who live like this?

Her communications strategy on this is also just plain terrible. It is one dash "Making an issue out of Terri Lynn Land's income tax returns is as terrible as that time we said that Gary Peters wants you to pay for his daugthers' elective abortions," and one dash "Terri Lynn has such little use for her middle class income that she can donate most of it." The one is bizarre and stupid on its face; the other simply sends the message that she is out of touch with how most people live.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

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

by: Eric B.

Tue Aug 19, 2014 at 09:31:43 AM EDT

Thanks to TJ Bucholz and the team at Vanguard Public Affairs for sponsoring Michigan Liberal this last little while. In fact, they did such good work, that one of their team dropped off my son and I at the trailhead last week, but also picked us up yesterday. That's service!

The space is open and empty right now. It's a sad little space begging for some attention.

Are you a campaign hoping to introduce yourself to media and political people across the state? Are you the sort of person who reads the content here and says, "I can get behind this to the tune of X-number of dollars."? Are you sick of my whining already and just want it to end? If so, a sponsorship is probably a thing you should do.

Cost is $360 a month, $100 a week or $25 by the day. If you sponsor for the next month, it's my happy privilege to report that you'll be sponsoring this website on my birthday. What better gift could you give (a nice bottle of bourbon, perhaps).

Contact me at ebaerren@michiganliberal.com, or via text at 517/881-8008 or over Teh Social Medias to reserve space or find out more.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Today in campaign news: Dems' 3rd Supreme Court nomination

by: ScottyUrb

Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 18:11:22 PM EDT

Brace yourselves - Eric will be back to tormenting enlightening us on these here pages in the coming days. You've been warned.

*-- We've known that Richard Bernstein would likely be nominated for one of the eight-year terms on the Court, with Deborah Thomas to be nominated for a two-year term. But what about the other eight-year term? Late last week, it was announced that the Michigan Association for Justice is supporting Jucge Bill Murphy for that slot. Murphy is the chief judge on the Michigan Court of Appeals. However, now there are concerns from a number of individuals regarding Murphy's views on choice. I have not been able to find anything that would corroborate those concerns - but long story short, we may have a contest at the Democratic convention this weekend. 

*--We're still months  away from the start of the next Legislature, but already there's posturing among Republicans to see who will be the new House Republican leader. Al Pscholka announced that Lisa Lyons is supporting him, with Lyons likely to take another leadership role. Kevin Cotter says he's got the support of 25 lawmakers - but he's in danger of losing his own seat to Bryan Mielke this fall. Which begs the question: If he does lose, will Cotter's supporters back Pscholka? If not, who will they back?

*--Mark Totten has a new video.

Discuss :: (19 Comments)

Today in campaign news: Tense times for Republicans

by: ScottyUrb

Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 19:15:53 PM EDT

*--#JustLikeTheDetroitFlood is a thing on Twitter.

*--Republican county conventions are taking place tonight. The one in Oakland County will feature extra security.

“The tea party people have advocated throwing chairs if they don’t get what they want,” Thienel told The Detroit News. “At the first sign of unruly behavior, we will recess. ... I will do everything in my power to ensure that nothing happens.”


Maddock, a bail bondsman, said Thursday he is prepared to be arrested.

Gongwer and Chad Livengood are there.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Today in campaign news: Snyder's Katrina?

by: ScottyUrb

Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 20:31:18 PM EDT

*-- Since when is damage to your vacation house anything like having your only home flooded? Since this morning, apparently.

"I've been through a lot of things like that, Frank," Snyder said on WJR. "We just recently had holes in our roof from storm damage to our lake house. We have a vacation place, and we had a limb come down, put holes in the roof and had water running through the whole place. Those experiences are not pleasant ones."

Should be worth noting that in addition to his lake home and his place in Ann Arbor, he's got a mansion on the Grand River in Lansing and a cottage on Mackinac Island. Granted, he'll be losing the latter two on New Year's, but still.

*-- Michigan's unemployment rate jumped from 7.5% to 7.7% - a contrast to the national figures which show that June had the highest percentages of job openings since 2001.

*-- The wolf hunt thing passed the Senate today. 

Discuss :: (10 Comments)

Today in campaign news: On the tube

by: ScottyUrb

Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 21:12:14 PM EDT

First and foremost, I hope all of you affected by the flooding are okay. It appears lots of folks throughout the metro Detroit area were affected in one way or another. I can't imagine what you all are going through. We actually had a small tornado come through last month, but all that happened here was a loss of power. On a totally different note, can I just point out how cruel the Grim Reaper is for taking both Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall in about 24 hours of each other? Okay, back to campaign stuff.

*--The Schauer campaignDGA, and Michigan Nurses Association all have new ads.

*--Meanwhile, the Koch Brothers' ads have been put on hold for the time being. On the other hand, "Ending Spending" and the NRSC are ramping up their ad buys. It appears that they realize that the Koch brothers have a bad name here in Michigan.

*--Retired Justice Marilyn Kelly looks to be running for Wayne State Board of Governors, according to MIRS. Nominees for those posts will be decided at the convention next weekend.

*--Bill Schuette has $1.9 million in the bank to Mark Totten's $150,000. No word on if any of that was raised at a funeral. Either way, Schuette's going to need it - he'll struggle to get young people to support an anti-equality AG.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Absentee Voting Data From the Primary

by: Grebner

Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 22:18:34 PM EDT

I've put together a set of charts showing how quickly absentee ballots were returned, along with an examination of the characteristics of people who failed to return their ballot at all.

My goals:

1) Convincing everybody that people do not generally return their absentee ballots right away - the supposed rule of thumb that half the ballots are returned in the first week is completely bogus.  And

2) A very important and overlooked GOTV target should be voters who request a ballot but never actually return it.  Among some groups of voters, 15% or even 25% of their votes are lost, because campaigns fail to understand that the battle for votes isn't over when the ballot is requested, but only when it's filled out and returned.

Updated August 12, showing when ballots were returned according to when they were sent. 

There's More... :: (8 Comments, 3603 words in story)
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