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There is no due process in the court of public opinion

by: Eric B.

Fri Nov 28, 2014 at 16:38:04 PM EST

Kathleen Parker* is supposed to be the best columnists conservatives have these days, with George Will's mind slowly ossifying and Charles Krauthammer quickly losing what's left of his mind. Parker's column in today's Detroit News is a sign that what depth conservatives had on their columnists bench might have one day had is today a mud puddle. It's about Bill Cosby and there's a paragraph about Ferguson slipped in there by way of a, "It's okay for 'libs' to be all non-judgey when it's about a 'lib' cause but not when it's about guys accused of drugging and raping semi- or unconscious women" thing. Parker's conclusion: Probably Cosby did something terrible, but it's also certain that he was deprived due process in our rush to judgement.

We know these things based mostly on the women’s media interviews. Five revealed their identities and talked openly in The Washington Post’s exhaustive story of the history and allegations.

Even so, these are accusations rather than confirmable facts as required in a true court of law. Otherwise, there’s no real evidence — no tapes or letters. No rape kits or photographs. One woman once did file charges against Cosby, but settled.

Enablers of the wealthy and powerful and generally loathsome are always quick to say that we should hold off on judgement until someone is found guilty in a court of law. In most cases, where it involves a private person charged by the state with a crime, that's okay. People in the public eye, however, make a living off the credibilty of their public persona. They are not entitled to that right, nor is arriving in judgment about them somehow a violation of their due process if it happens without a finding of guilt. We can simply say that someone is probably a very horrible ass -- as Parker admits is probably the case here -- and then collectively shunt these people out of the public eye. Either they can retire on what they have or go work at Burger King.

I have to confess that early on, when it was a matter of old revelations being made all over again, that some people rushed to judgement. It's true that people are targeted by these kinds of allegations, not just famous people. In addition, Cosby himself was the target of an alleged extortion racket in he mid-90s, something which is rarely mentioned. So, it's not outside the realm of possibility that someone might want to exploit a famous person whose dime is made on a public persona based on sobriety and responsibility (as opposed to, say, trying to extort Artie Lange on the grounds that he engaged in questionable and lacivious behavior). As more women came forward, however, and as their story varied very little in the general narrative, it became more appropriate to think that maybe Bill Cosby had done something horrible and that maybe the Clif Huxtable of our youths was a fairy tale.

For some reason, probably out of proximity in time, Parker also penned this:

This column is not a defense of Cosby but a reminder of our rule of law. We see in Ferguson, Mo., what happens when respect for our legal process is lost: Arsonists and looters expressed their outrage that a grand jury didn’t act as they thought it should. Yet we hear people trying to defend these actions as somehow acceptable, or at least non-criminal, because of historical injustice.

Ah, yes, Ye Olde "They's thugs in Ferguson, they's all thugs." First off, it would be wrong to say that lots of people say that looting and arson are permissible under any circumstances. It's also wrong to say that protestors in Ferguson are rioting and looting. Some people are, but not all of them. The distinction is important, especially when you listen to what people are really saying about the Ferguson protests: The protests are okay because of a long national history of racial oppression, but no one is excusing rioting or burning down store fronts. Conflating the looters with the people protesting, however, provides a nice neat and easy way to dismiss why people are protesting: Once you dismiss them as loot-hungry thugs, their reasons are unimportant, because you assume you what they are really up to.

What is similar in both cases, however, is that the accused is likely to escape the justice of a courtroom. The stories of Cosby's women have been accompanied by stories of aggressive attempts to prevent their allegations from ever seeing a courtroom. In Ferguson, a botched job by a prosecutor -- presumably on purpose based on the way it's been shredded (including by professional vampire Nancy Grace) -- has allowed an accused killer to escape a jury of his peers.

Did he do these things as alleged? With so many women speaking out, it seems likely that he did. His pattern of behavior toward women as related by others, not just his accusers, was not that of the guy we thought we knew. Indeed, indeed, we struggle to reconcile the disparity between the persona of Dr. Cliff Huxtable and the allegations against Cosby.

Cosby not only has a pattern of trying to silence his alleged victims, he has a pattern of trying to bully media networks into not bringing the stories before. In saying that we have to reconcile what is possibly a human monster with Dr. Cliff Huxtable, what Parker acknowledges is that Bill Cosby was once a product marketed to the rest of us by a Tee Vee network and packaged as the good Dr. Huxtable. What she's suggesting is that we shouldn't reject products based on impression, but only for fact-based reasons. Kathleen Parker must be a laugh riot at Coke vs. Pepsi taste tests.

Finally, there is this weird paragraph.

Buried deep in our craws, meanwhile, lurking like a slimy Gollum, bug-eyed and deformed by envy and self-loathing, lies a second thought or three: Someday it could be thee or me.

What exactly is she getting at here, that people who have judged Bill Cosby likely to be a scumbag and unworthy of further public adulation are actually driven by envy of his success, or that secretly we're all afraid that more than a dozen women will come forward to accuse each of us of drugging and having forcible sex with them. I can attest personally that nowhere in my person dwells no thought, much less three, that someone will come forward and say that before having sex with them that I slipped them a roofie. I have confidence because it never happens. Having gone through something similar with a "thee" however, I can say with all confidence that knowing the parties involved that I was left unsurprised by the original allegations and came away uncertain whether I'd gotten all or none of the truth.

*--Yes, I know this website is supposed to be about Michigan issues or Michigan people or Michigan whathaveyou, but in this case this is on my mind and the state on Black Friday is a boring place for political news. At least, I'm not terribly interested in statewide political developments today. So, suffer along as I work the "It's in a Michigan media outlet, so it is therefore of interest to Michigan people," exemption.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

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

by: Eric B.

Fri Nov 28, 2014 at 09:51:57 AM EST

It's Black Friday, y'all. Are you out shopping? If so, you, sir, are worse than Hitler. Are you staying in to gorge on leftovers from yesterday's feast? If so, you, sir, are worse than Hitler. Are you coming down from the high of three games within the sporting organization called the National Football League, which covered up domestic abuse to protect its marketing position and that profits from twisting and tearing apart the bodies of young men for entertainment and profit? If so, you, sir, are worse than Hitler. Perhaps you can see a pattern emerging, related to yesterday's holiday.

As for me, I'm guilty of the two. It's not that I refuse to go shopping on Black Friday, mind you. It's a) that I don't have the money to go shopping, and b) loathe crowds of people. Plus, apparently I caught a sniffle. So, hopefully if the kiddos go to a movie today with the rest of the family I can get a nap in and finish Dharma Bums, which I borrowed a month ago through this. All hail MeLCat!

As you can probably sort out, Archie Bailey's sponsorship has come to an end. Did you get a chance to go check out his bio page? If you know him, did you take the opportunity to send him a, "Just checking in..." email?

That also means we're sponsor-less right now. It's like flying a zepplin without a guy forward to scream in German that you're about to run into a mountain, or a thunderstorm, or the ghost of the HIndenburg. You can stop that madness now. How?

Contact me at ebaerren@michiganliberal.com, or via text message at 517/881-8008, or on social media. I am not a hard man to contact (although I might take a nap later, so there is that). Rates are a low, low $25 a day, $100 a week, or $360 for a month.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Thanksgiving weekend open thread

by: ScottyUrb

Thu Nov 27, 2014 at 12:43:01 PM EST

We can be thankful that:

1. Gary Peters won.
2. Winnie Brinks, Scott Dianda, and Gretchen Driskell won.
3. We won 7 of 8 statewide ed board races.
4. Obamacare is a thing.
5. The Lions won't lose this Sunday.
6. U-M is about to commence a 9-month unbeaten streak.
7. Dave Brandon is no longer AD. 

Add your own in the comments. Or, you know... speculate, kvetch, whatever. Thread's open.

Discuss :: (7 Comments)

Taxpayer-funded part of Schuette's 2018 guv campaign continues

by: ScottyUrb

Tue Nov 25, 2014 at 14:56:48 PM EST

Not content with meddling in the affairs of people who love each other or want affordable health insurance, Bill Schuette is now meddling in the affairs of other states.    
Court records from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals show Michigan filed an amicus brief on Nov. 12 in the case along with 20 other states.

The brief is asking the appeals court to overturn a federal district court ruling that a Maryland law banning 45 types of assault weapons and limiting magazine size to 10 rounds as constitutional.
 Oh, and which other states are participating?  
Michigan joined West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming in filing friend-of-the-court briefs in favor of repealing the ban on weapons and magazine sizes.
 FWIW, Schuette was recently named to head the Republican Attorneys General Association.
Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Michigan makes list of least friendly states to LGBT people

by: Eric B.

Tue Nov 25, 2014 at 11:34:23 AM EST

This is a God damned disgrace ... Michigan joins the Deep South in hostility towards the LGBT community.

This wave of anti-LGBT violence is part of the reason why Detroit was named the most dangerous city in the nation for gay travelers, and the survey also cited the metro area's dwindling number of gay bars and high poverty rate. Dave Garca, the executive director of Affirmations LGBT center, told CBS that the state's legislature isn't helping matters. "It is still legal to fire people in Michigan for being gay, we can not marry, cannot adopt, and the governor signed away domestic partner benefits for LGBT public employees," Garcia said. He argues it has "created an anti-gay environment across the entire state."

Garcia has a point: The Guardian's 2012 survey showed that Michigan has almost no protections for LGBT people at any level, putting it on par with Mississippi. Whereas fellow Midwestern states Ohio and Kentucky at least allow LGBT people limited adoption rights, Michigan law even goes so far as to ban surrogacy. A recently introduced bill hopes to change the tide of Michigan's LGBT politics by championing employment non-discrimination­ – but only on the grounds of sexual orientation, leaving transgender Michiganders out in the cold. Michigan might be America's mitten, but it's beginning to look a lot like Texas.

We also have an attorney general dead set on fighting marriage equality to the U.S. Supreme Court and a Repulblican Party that named the state's most notorious homophobe to the job of national committeeman, and who refuse to fire him after posting rambling, semi-coherent rants about gays and Muslims on social media.

It's what the suits call, "Competing for talent in a talent-driven economy."

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Does Harvey Santana plan to vote no on a Harvey Santana sponsored bill? (Eliot-Larsen)

by: Eric B.

Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 10:24:43 AM EST

Emily Dievendorf with Equality Michigan was on Off the Record (P.S. How many Democrats actually went up to Bill Ballenger this year and said, "Hey, this was our plan?") this weekend talking about the bill that would expand the Eliot-Larsen non-discrimination law to include LGBT folks. After the show was taped but before it aired, state Rep. Harvey Santana took to Twitter to let her know that anyone who thinks that every Democrat is on board with it has perhaps jumped the gun.


For the record, Emily didn't say she had Harvey Santana's vote. She said they have enough votes to expand Eliot-Larsen, not that they will do it with Harvey Santana's assistance.

More to the point, Harvey Santana is a listed sponsor of the enabling leglslation. Santana has a reputation for occasionally going off the reservation, but who sponsors legislation and then says that he'll maybe vote against it? I asked him, on the very same Twitter in which he made this statement, but he has yet to respond.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Pre-Thanksgiving weekend open thread

by: Eric B.

Sat Nov 22, 2014 at 11:28:06 AM EST

This is y'alls chance to get your open thread on, although I'm not sure what you'll discuss. As for me, I launched a major anti-clutter campaign yesterday in my apartment that is going to involve, hopefully, halving the amount of shit I have laying around. For some reason, the prospects excite me far more than they should.
Discuss :: (4 Comments)

And now, a word from our sponsor

by: Eric B.

Thu Nov 20, 2014 at 23:37:25 PM EST

Off to the left is a photo of Archie Bailey, Genesee County Commissioner for District 7. He's been a Genesee County Commissioner for 12 years, but his public service started with the Berkley school board in 1962. This is also his last year of serving the people of Genesee County District 7 ... at least, he said, for the time being. Next year, he will retire from that seat and although the future for his is an uncharted map, he said he'll get involved with the Innocence Project. He's also spoinsoring Michigan Liberal this week. Please thank him by following the link to his official Genesee County Commission page.

Speaking of thanks, Bailey said he has a lot of people to thank especially his two mentors, Sandy and Carl Levin. With his retirement pending, Bailey also said that he'd like to get in touch with his many friends across the state. If you know him, take this opportunity to reach out, because I think he'd like to hear from you.

As for me, this sponsorship lasts a week, so by Black Friday we'll be sponsorship-less and in the middle of the holiday season. If you think this means I'm going to act all depressing and pathetic and try to play on your sympathies to sponsor this website, then we're probably good, close friends because you know me very well. If you've thought about sponsoring Michigan Liberal before, this is a good time to do it to spare everyone a heaping helping of indignity. Cost is $25 a day, $100 by the week, or $360 for one whole month. Contact me at ebaerren@michiganliberal.com, via text message at 517/881-8008 (there is nothing on earth I hate more than talking on the telephone) or via social media. I'm not a hard man to get ahold of.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

SD-20: McCann requesting recount

by: ScottyUrb

Thu Nov 20, 2014 at 14:35:33 PM EST

The 20th State Senate race was one of the heartbreakers of this election - perhaps the lowest-hanging fruit for us, yet we still lost.

Or maybe not.


After much thought and consultation with my family, my team and supporters, I have decided to request a recount of the election results in the 20th Senate District.

More than 80,000 ballots were cast in the race, and the results showed a difference of only 59 votes, or 0.07% of the total votes cast, less than one vote per precinct. We think that this extremely close margin warrants a recount.

We also heard from many voters who expressed concerns about their votes being counted. Multiple issues with finalizing the local results give us enough concern that we believe a recount is appropriate.

Discuss :: (18 Comments)

And we have an answer as to whether the monkey house will be controllable next term...

by: Eric B.

Tue Nov 18, 2014 at 15:30:00 PM EST

Anyone remember that election thing we had a few weeks back? Sure we all do. Immediately afterwards came words, full of wisdom and sobreity, from all corners of Very Serious Personville that the governor had earned a mandate and that all we needed to know is whether a more conservative Republican majorityin the House of Representatives (with weaker, more inexperienced leadership) could be tamed and bent to his will. Today -- the day after one member of that soon-to-be caucus (and who has yet to officially take office) demanded partisan investigations into how the state handled one consultant -- we get the answer.

Tea party darling Todd Courser, now a state representative-elect, wasted little time going on the offensive against his Republican colleagues.

What's more, he's calling for the ouster of House Speaker Jase Bolger -- who only has about nine session days left in his reign -- if the speaker pursues a measure that would prevent discrimination against gays.

Answer: No.

I look forward to watching the reaction -- probably equal parts muted and confounded -- of Very Serious Personville next year when these people start offering up legislation commemmorating the South's victory at Chancellorsville during the War of Northern Aggression.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

CapCon picks up Gary Glenn's ball and runs, immediately clotheslined by real reporting

by: Eric B.

Tue Nov 18, 2014 at 14:41:28 PM EST

Yesterday, we noted that Gary Glenn was demanding an investigation into the high crime committed by the state in paying an expert in healthcare economics to consult on implementing a heathcare product. What we didn't note was that Tom McMillin the committee chairman he wants to investigate this, implied that Jonathan Gruber, the consultant in question, is a fraudster. Today brings word that one of the drones at CapCon has taken up the banner of trying to make this an actual news story

A consultant considered an architect to the federal health care law who said a “lack of transparency” and “stupidity of the American voter” were critical to getting it passed reportedly received $481,050 from the state of Michigan, and a recently elected state representative said he wants an investigation.

Unfortunately for said drone, someone did take him up on this, MLive's Emily Lawler.

A 2012 Michigan contract included $481,050 in state money related to a health exchange under the Affordable Care Act, said Michigan Department of Community Health spokesperson Jennifer Smith, and represented all the money that the state itself spent on state exchange-related activities.

“Regarding state funding, $481,050 in state funds was spent and that money went to the consulting firm Health Management Associates. HMA then had several subcontractors of their own,” Smith said.

It’s clear from the contract that Gruber was to be one of those subcontractors.

In other words, Gruber did get money. Just probably not half a million, the figure being whipped out of shape by people demanding what are thinly veiled attempts to beat on Obamacare in the state Legislature. If McMillin gets shut down, of course, Glenn will actually become a state representative next term with a House Speaker who will probably be more open to catering to the knuckle draggers of his caucus.

For added hilarity, here's the guy from CapCon -- the guy whose "reporting" was corrected by MLive -- talking trash today about MLive.

Psst, Tom ... MLive is in ur base, killin' ur d00dz.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

A hearing today into how to make Michigan less relevant in election years

by: Eric B.

Mon Nov 17, 2014 at 11:53:36 AM EST

They're having a hearing today to advance Peter Lund's silly electoral vote idea. I don't suppose it'll have any impact, because I really don't think the leaders of our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect really care what people think, but Jack Lessenberry writes about it today.

But now State Representative Pete Lund, a term-limited Republican from Macomb County, wants to change that in Michigan, replacing it with a complex system that could have dire national consequences. Lund doesn’t like the fact that Democrats have been winning Michigan in recent presidential elections. Earlier he tried to get a bill through that would have given Republicans most of Michigan’s electoral votes even when they lost the popular vote.

That was seen as too unfair to fly. So now he has a new bill that is almost impossible to understand, but is designed to give Republican presidential nominees a chunk of Michigan’s electoral votes even when they are badly defeated statewide.

This has the potential of doing two things: Making Michigan almost irrelevant in presidential elections, and causing a ripple effect that destroys all public trust in how we choose our leaders.

I don't think people actually have that must trust in how we choose our leaders. I think people are turned off at what politics has become, and have done it mostly because one party has gone batshit insane and the other is too cowardly to fight for anything. What Lund's bill will do is guarantee that the state will become totally irrelevant in presidential elections, because candidates will already basically know how many votes they'll pull out of Michigan and will spend their time campaigning in states with higher payout.

But, we all know that Lund's scheme has nothing to do with increasing Michigan's clout and everything to do with making sure that Republican candidates get something from Michigan ... contrary to how everyone has always done things.

As to the idea of a national popular vote, which is the alternative to an Electoral College vote, it's a worthy idea; and by worthy, I mean it's one that is probably good but might have some unitended consequences that would make it even worse. I just can't think of them. What I am certain of is that if we go to that system, we should do it as a whole country rather than piecemealing it and that if we piecemeal it Michigan shouldn't be leading the pack because that makes us less relevant.

People keep saying that Randy Richardville will kill this thing. I hope so, because the governor has given us zero reason for confidence that he'll do it. I think that as long as he can cobble enough votes together to get road funding that he won't particularly care what has to get broken to get that done because at the end of the day you get the impression that the actual governance part of being governor bores him and that he'd rather spend his time being a CEO.

Discuss :: (42 Comments)

Gary Glenn already using office he doesn't yet occupy to grandstand

by: Eric B.

Mon Nov 17, 2014 at 11:07:35 AM EST

Congratulations, Midland, on being taken to the cleaners two weeks ago.

If outgoing lawmakers don’t have time to investigate the matter during the waning days of the current legislative session, Glenn said he will ask for an investigation when new lawmakers take office in January.

“Taxpayers and those of us entrusted with spending our tax dollars deserve to know why (Gruber) pocketed more tax money from Michigan than from any other state, even more than the Obama administration itself paid him,” Glenn said. “Why did Michigan taxpayers get (stuck) for nearly half a million dollars paying for Gruber’s propaganda pitch for an ObamaCare state health care exchange, which the Michigan House correctly refused to even set up? And who’s responsible for approving this waste of nearly half a million of our tax dollars to justify implementing ObamaCare in Michigan before it was determined the exchange would ever even exist?”

This is all related to the revelation from the Washington Post that Jonathan Gruber, who is the latest Republican anger and fear bogeyman because he said that people are stupid, got nearly half a million dollars from the state of Michigan. Is it true? No, although the Midland Daily News reported it as if it were true (great reporting, guys). Someone was good enough to post the contract to the Internet.

Project Team
The Michigan Insurance Market Modeling Project will be completed through a collaboration of three firms with experience in analysis related to health cost and coverage.

It was noted in the original reporting that sometimes Gruber wasn't the sole beneficiary of these state contracts, that sometimes he worked in collaboration with other people, which is what happened in Michigan ("Not all of the contracts could be found on public Web sites, but here is a sampling. In some cases, Gruber worked with other consultants, so the fees were shared. These figures also might not represent the final payout, and of course these are gross figures, before expenses. But it’s safe to say that about $400,000 appears to be the standard rate for gaining access to the Gruber Microsimulation Model."). How much did the state pay him? The contract doesn't say, only that the project he worked on with two other firms was almost a half million dollar payout. While that ain't chicken feed, it also ain't all that out of line with what he got paid in other states for access to a computer model used to predict health insurance access.

What it certainly isn't worth is the coming months of grandstanding by the Gary Glenn caucus in the state House over Obamacare this and Obamacare that. And that's what this is all about ... Gary Glenn grandstanding because his career has never been about proper governance but about building his own career through grandstanding. He did it for years as the state's foremost homophobe, at the end reduced to meddling in local human rights ordinance conversations and finally getting elected to the House. Congratulations, Midland ... you own this sham.

Update! ... Ezra Klein on this.

In that way, Grubergate is really Obamacaregate. What you think about it isn't based on what Jon Gruber said. It's based on what you think about Obamacare.

This is exactly right. Gary Glenn isn't grandstanding for hearings over a state contract. Gary Glenn is grandstanding for hearings about Obamacare. That's what he really wants, to put Obamacare on trial in the state Legislature by holding hearings into someone closely tied to it. This is about Obamacare, but even more so Gary Glenn trying to buff up his public persona by making it about Obamacare.

Discuss :: (8 Comments)

Humor is a good thing: Open thread

by: ScottyUrb

Sat Nov 15, 2014 at 15:03:55 PM EST

Never underestimate the power of satire to make a point. Examples: 

  • The Onion: Republicans Poised to Retain Control of Senate 
  • Borowitz:  Obama Urged to Work Closely with People Suing Him
  • Free Wood Post: American Voters: Things Were Getting Too Good, Time To Crash The Economy Again
  • Borowitz:  McConnell's Election as Senate Majority Leader Annouced with Puff of Toxic Black Smoke

Thread is open for satire, speculatuion, or whatever the heck else is on your mind.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Fear of a gay wedding cake

by: Eric B.

Thu Nov 13, 2014 at 12:36:04 PM EST

Our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect strikes again!

LANSING, MI — Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger on Wednesday proposed a Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act, calling it a necessary companion to new gay rights legislation designed to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Both bills were met with immediate opposition from advocates pushing for broader LGBT protections and face an uncertain future in Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature.

“I believe workers should be hired and fired based solely on their work ethic and their work experience,” Bolger told reporters during a media roundtable. “And nobody should be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation or their religious beliefs.”

See, now there's the thing ... discrimination against religious beliefs is already covered somewhere else. We don't actually need a separate law allowing this, unless what you want to do is undermine the companion law that you're running with it. So, why do people's religious beliefs need protection?

Bolger, offering an analogy, said he does not think a baker should be able to fire an employee for being gay or refuse to make a birthday cake for gay customer.

But that same baker should not be forced to make a cake for a same-sex wedding if such a union would run counter to his or her religious beliefs, according to Bolger, who said courts would ultimately draw that line.

Got that ... Jase Bolger wants to prohibit bakeries from refusing to bake birthday cakes for gay people, but is okay with bakeries refusing to bake wedding cakes. Gay birthday cake? Okay. Gay wedding cake? Not okay.

Discuss :: (7 Comments)
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