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Should the Michigan Democratic Party change the name of the Jeff-Jack dinner?

by: Eric B.

Wed Jul 29, 2015 at 09:10:18 AM EDT

The Atlantic had a story yesterday hooked on the Democratic Party in Connecticut dropping Jefferson and Jackson as the namesakes of their annual big fund raising dinner. It's for pretty obvious, straightforward reasons I think most everyone would agree. The question is whether this is something the Michigan Democratic Party will follow up by doing itself*.

The case against Jackson is also pretty much a no brainer. Despite some of the things he did as a chief administrator, he was also racist in a very big, clear way. It's a bit more muddled for Jefferson.

*--If past is any guide, they will take it up, make such an utter hash of it as to drive down voter enthusiasm in 2016, 2018 and 2020 and probably start a dumpster fire along the way.

Discuss :: (12 Comments)

Legal weed a ballot lock, if our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger doesn't fuck it up first

by: Eric B.

Mon Jul 27, 2015 at 13:45:10 PM EDT

This is good news.

ROYAL OAK, Mich. -It looks like Michigan voters will be deciding whether they want to legalize marijuana in 2016.

Nearly 40,000 signatures have been collected in just 12 days as part of a push to get the issue on the ballot. There are two ballot proposals which have seen language approved by the state board of canvassers, but only one has language drafted by the brightest minds in Lansing. And only one has the premier signature-gathering firm in the country on the ground in Michigan.

Accordng to the story, it's above 50 percent wthout anyone tryng to sell it. Anyone remember polling on medical marijuana at this stage of the game? Seems to me that was also above 50 percent, maybe even closer to 60 percent before passing by two-thirds majority (this didn't stop Bill Schuette from trying to legislate against it using his office and an attorneys general rulng and an interpretation of the marketplace that does not jibe with any interpretation held elsewhere on this planet.

There's another story bopping around today about our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect might take a whack at legalizing it or at least liberalizing the rules for medical marijuana dispensaries. My guess is that once they're finished with it, they'll have done such a hash job that possession of half a gram will be a capitol offense.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Money costs for defending same sex marriage bigotry could go up by a cool two million

by: Eric B.

Mon Jul 27, 2015 at 09:51:02 AM EDT

This popped up on social media over the weekend.

Detroit — Lawyers for a Hazel Park couple who helped legalize same-sex marriage across the nation asked a federal judge Saturday to force the state to pay more than $1.9 million in legal fees.

The request puts a price-tag on the state of Michigan’s failed opposition to a landmark case that lasted more than three years. It comes almost exactly one month after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in the United States.

It doesn't quite put a price tag on the state's failed defense of the same sex marriage ban. It puts a potential partial price tag on it. It only represents a request by the plaintiffs to a judge to make the state reimburse their costs in bringing the state. That is, it represents costs above and beyond what Michigan's Finest Legal Mind squandered in taxpayer dollars in directly defending it.

It would make compelling journalism to find out exactly how much money it cost the state's taxpayer's to do that. I wish we had media outlets that claimed to be government watchdogs and that felt that this sort of work was part of their charge.

Discuss :: (8 Comments)

Ken Brock, RIP

by: Eric B.

Fri Jul 24, 2015 at 07:34:08 AM EDT

Consider this an open thread of sorts. I might have met Ken Brock once, but I did it was a long, long time ago in Mark Schauer's office over lunch. Others knew him very well.
Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Of course the Republican Party is happy to have Donald Trump visit Michigan

by: Eric B.

Tue Jul 21, 2015 at 10:30:45 AM EDT

Donald Trump said something inflammatory and stupid about John McCain's military service a few days back, and everyone said it was time for Donald Trump to go away. That won't happen, of course, because the kind of people who think that Donald Trump is wonderful -- based on polls, lots of uneducated white people (the Republican Party base) -- thought it was great back in 2004 to attack John Kerry's military service. They didn't just attack it, they openly ridiculed it by wearing little bandages. For some reason, Michigan's political media is weirded out by this.

Despite his controversial statements over the weekend, presidential candidate Donald Trump will still be the featured speaker at the Lincoln Day dinner put on by Genesee and Saginaw counties on Aug. 11.

“I’ve been hearing from both sides and a lot more people are excited about him coming,” said Michael Moon, chairman of the Genesee County GOP. “I don’t agree with what Mr. Trump said, but I’ll defend his right to say it.”

These are the same people who selected and have retained as their national committeeman a guy who thinks that gays connived to defraud American Airlines into extending same sex domestic partner benefits to homosexuals because they all die of AIDS by 35, who said that no Muslim has made a positive contribution to American society, and made racist remarks to a Tea Party gathering at a casino on a Native American reservation just this year. Why would slurring the military service of a guy hated by a lot of these people as too accommodating be a bridge too far?

The more important question is whether Michigan's political media has paid attention to how the party in control of the state's policy making machinery has unmoored itself from reality and common standards of decency?

Discuss :: (21 Comments)

That thing that happened at Netroots Nation the other night

by: Eric B.

Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 12:44:31 PM EDT

Yesterday morning, most of us awoke to news that out at Netroots Nation a bunch of activists stormed the main event -- a candidate's forum with two people running for the Dem nomination for president -- and essentially took over the thing. The candidates were asked highly insulting and leading questions, more stuff happened and eventually Bernie Sanders got mad. It's not our usual stuff here, since this is about Michigan, even though another Michigan blogger posted something that lots of people were sharing.

The entire thing -- the takeover, the blog post, everything -- was really dumb, mostly because taking a Black Lives Matter message to a convention of political progressives is the very definition of preaching to the choir. On top of that, anyone who says they learned something genuine about the "black experience" sitting through it is every bit as self-delusional as anyone who thought the same after watching The Wire. Anyway, I posted about it to social media, conversed with some folks, and figured that was good enough.

Until Chad Selweski got ahold of it. This is his headline.

Even Bernie Sanders is not liberal enough for the Democratic left

Now, you have to forgive Chad a bit. He's a bit of a centrist bomb thrower from Macomb County. He genuinely believes that both sides are always equally guilty and that both parties are equally subject to pressure from their fringes. In the past, he's accused me of radicalism for some reason, and thinks that anyone who speaks from a clear perspective is a partisan hack ideologue. So it's not terribly surprising that he'd take Saturday night as a sign that Bernie Sanders is not liberal enough tor the Democratic left. Because to a centrist, we are all the same thing.

However, Chad, let me assure you of something. The folks on Saturday night don't speak for the "Democratic left." I know this because I hail from those corners (albeit not from the "Democratic" portion of it). These people mostly were just taken by a foolish impulse (or they could have been pro-Hillary agent provacateurs for all I know). It's not that Bernie Sanders is not liberal enough for the Democratic left. It's that a handful of activists hijacked a convention event for themselves.

And, while we're on that topic, this is one of the biggest reasons why the Netroots has lost almost all of its influence. Sorry folks, but I've watched it happen from the inside. I've never been to a Netroots Nation, but it used to be a must-attend event for everyone else. This year, someone asked who was attending on social media and the response by basically everyone was, "That's still a thing?" Saturday night was a perfect symbol for why ... a lot of misdirected rage. I also understand that it's not uncommon for speakers at the big Saturday night thing to get yelled at. When all you can do is shout, you get tuned out. Also, if guests expect rude treatment from the audience, you can expect fewer of people with any real influence to show up.

I'm hardly a person who'd tell you to sit down and shut up while the adults are talking, especially in the face of injustice. On the other hand, I saw that someone demanded from Martin O'Malley his immediate answer on what he'd do to end systemic racism in the United States. Well, that's a simple question to answer on the spot, isn't it? Why not also ask him how he'd resolve the Arab-Israeli question. And, again, this is a convention filled with (mostly) die-hard progressives. At the end of the day, activists stormed the stage in front of a crowd of the converted and excoriated two people whose careers have mostly been aligned with your message. It's stuff like this that I hold up as reasons why progressives get routinely smoked on Election Day.

P.S. One last thing. Just to revisit this weekend's Open Thread topic ... this is why Bernie Sanders isn't Barack Obama. Bernise Sanders appeal to educated white people because he shares their philosophy. Hillary Clinton appeals to minority groups because she projects concern about the meat-and-potatoes issues that concern them, like education and crime. Barack Obama was able to upend her because a) he appeared across the board and b) he had a superior strategy and organization. That activists felt comfortable humiliating Bernie Sanders is a sign that Sanders is not gaining a lot of traction in minority groups.

Discuss :: (34 Comments)

Some people who are running for office next year: Brian Elder and my man Jake

by: Eric B.

Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 09:46:03 AM EDT

Got a press release last night from Brian Elder's campaign manager. He's running for the Democratic nomination for the 96th House District. I think this is a second attempt for him. Leastways, he bought me coffee once a few years back to talk about his campaign.

Also, Jake Davison, who last week on Off the Record with me, has announced that he is challenging professional loon Todd Courser for the Republican nomination in the 82nd District. Actually, that's a bit off.Courser hasn't actually announced his intentions to run for re-election. He might run for Congress beacause of course.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Open thread: Bernie Sanders popularity with educated liberals will not win him the nomination

by: Eric B.

Fri Jul 17, 2015 at 10:23:04 AM EDT

Update! ... Rather than write up a standalone post for this weekend's open thread, this seems like a decent enough conversation to move things towards. I mean, there's not much new at the garden (except the cherry tomatoes are already turning red), and the kid is now three days at cello camp (and, by Christ was that a stressful experience). So, have at it, and if there's anything else worthy of conversation, post in comments.

It's great that Bernie Sanders is running for the Democratic nomination. Unlike a lot of the Republicans, it's not apparent that he's out for himself and to fleece campaign donors. And, it's always great to force the Democratic Party actually left, rather than the fake left that the Beltway media says it is moving (this is actually moving right a lot more slowly than the Republican Party). But, folks, let's not go nuts.

In a recent Michigan poll, 57 percent of likely Democratic primary voters backed Clinton, compared to 25 percent for Sanders, 5 percent for Lincoln Chafee, 2 percent for Jim Webb and 1 percent for Martin O'Malley.

But the poll was actually good news for Sanders, who remains a major underdog.

No, that poll is not good news for Bernie Sanders. It just means he is getting creamed a lot less bad in Michigan than elsewhere.

Here are two additional reasons why this is not good news for Bernie Sanders: 1. Hillary Clinton is not going to repeat her mistakes of 2008, and 2. Bernie Sanders is not Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders is a lot more like Howard Dean. His candidacy will generate some headlines and some flash, and then Hillary Clinton's campaign will crush it under years of experience and money.

Discuss :: (16 Comments)

Harold Haugh cares not that your sleep was interrupted two weeks ago

by: Eric B.

Tue Jul 14, 2015 at 10:58:35 AM EDT

There are a lot of terrible things about observing and writing about state politics: The crushing number of absolute phonies you meet, the mindless arguments for and against various laws, the convenitional wisdom of the political and media elite, the puffery, the unnecessary dramas, etc... Probably the worst is that oftentimes it falls into cycles that become so god awful boring that it drives a feller to drink.

I give you the evolving pattern on Michigan's liberalized fireworks law: In the run-up to July 4, tents spring up and abandoned buildings take on very temporary tenants, and we hear about the coming holiday. And by the way, the holiday is now being consumed by fireworks. We no longer talk about July 4 as Independence Day. We now talk about it in terms of, "Jesus Christ, where is the dog going to hide this year?" Then, two days before and two days after, everyone talks about the obnoxious neighbors shooting off fireworks at all hours of the night. Yes, I know, the state amended the law to stop that kind of thing so they can wash their hands of it. Out here in the real world, however, people ignore the law and the cops have other things to do at 2 a.m., like arresting drunks driving home from the bar, than go roust kids shooting off fireworks in school parking lots (or in the middle of the fucking street right outside my open window). Then, in the aftermath, the state's editorial boards all -- in unison (including the Detroit News) -- that the law needs to be changed for the sake of the pets, and the kiddos and the war veterans suffering from PTSD. To this pattern, we can probably add the follow up reportage in which Harold Haugh, who authored the new law in 2011, gives everyone the middle finger.

In an interview with Bridge, Haugh said he has no regrets about his legislation, which legalized the sale in Michigan of high-powered, high-volume fireworks previously available for purchase only across the border, in states such as Ohio and Indiana. He noted that the law achieved its three stated goals: Creating jobs, generating new tax revenue, and putting vacant buildings back to use with fireworks vendors.

Yes, the Almighty bar to measure good and bad: Has it created jobs? I'll leave it to you, dear reader, to figure out just how many of those jobs are actually full-time jobs, and how many of abandoned buildings are filled full time with fireworks stores (my guess is that it's as many as there were back in the early 90s when velvet Elvis paintings were all the parking lot vendor tent rage).

Let us pause on our way out of this sad mess to reflect on this.

The vendors who have benefited from the 2011 law assert that, while some people hate the airborne arsenals, the public overall is speaking with their dollars. Business is booming.

Actually, a very tiny minority within the public is speaking with their dollars. If the public at large were doing so, the demand for fireworks would be great enough to warrant vendors to strike their tents and set up shop in storefronts. But, you get the point, to our elected leaders if there's a buck to be made, we want that to happen even if in inconveniences everyone else.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

One plan a stop gap, one plan a fantasy, our benevolent overlord takes no position

by: Eric B.

Mon Jul 13, 2015 at 16:00:00 PM EDT

This is why I drink.

A key difference is that the Senate plan raises the gas tax by 15 cents over three years. The House plan relies mostly on existing revenues. Gov. Rick Snyder has not endorsed either plan – although he has long called for a significant tax increase to pay for roads.

I like raising the gas tax, but as an environmentalist. Making gas more expensive creates an incentive for people to drive less and to be more efficient. But, as a road funding scheme, it seems short sighted. When people drive less, then less money comes in for road repair. So, I don't know.

As for the House plan, when you've lost the Detroit News in referring to it as a work of fantasy, it should probably be DOA. But, these people don't seem terribly put off by the idea that policies they are pushing are unworkable.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

RIP film subsidies

by: Eric B.

Mon Jul 13, 2015 at 14:00:00 PM EDT

I was never terribly hot on film subsidies, because no one could actually demonstrate much value beyond how it made us feel better to have celebrities in the state. So, this gets a "meh."

In signing the bill, Snyder noted that the state still has many attractive venues for film projects. That's true, but it's also true that incentives appear to drive the vast majority of location decisions.

So realistically, that means perhaps only rare sightings of actors such as George Clooney at Cliff Bell's, Ben Affleck at MSU football practice and Michael Imperioli eating ice cream on Main Street in Royal Oak.

We'll miss the fun of that, but there never has been compelling evidence that the economics work. Maybe there will be a way to change that in the future, but ending the program is the right call for now.

The internal conflict to this is that the middle class was created in Detroit. Its genesis wasn't in taking tax dollars and giving them to Hollywood to come shoot here. It was created by giving blue collar workers good paying jobs building products that every other American would want. The film subsidies program always felt, to me, a little like Michigan losing its way.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

State Dems tread in dangerous water by getting involved with redistricting

by: Eric B.

Mon Jul 13, 2015 at 12:30:00 PM EDT

Chad Selweski writes about the Democratic Party and redistricting reform for Dome magazine.

The Dems who took the lead called for establishing a nonpartisan process of shaping objective borders for districts that largely determine the outcome of elections for Congress and the Legislature.

But the Democrats are making a colossal mistake.

Cynical voters will reject any plan that carries the taint of one political party perceptibly trying to gain a permanent advantage over the other. If an election reform plan will have any chance of working its way onto the ballot through a petition drive and winning a majority of the Michigan electorate, it must bear the credibility of an earnest, good-government effort at changing our politics for the better.

He suggests that the League of Women Voters take the lead on this. Probably, except that it's already taken as something of gospel on the Right that the LWV has a liberal bias. Why? Because conservative activists tend to believe that anything that disagrees with their prejudices and whatever is liberally biased. If they believed that the Earth circles the moon, and you said otherwise, they'd insist that you only thought so because of your liberal bias.

I do think to the extent that they are involved that the Democratic Party has to take pains to not try to bake any extra advantage into whatever bill comes about. I think that because they've done this so frequently in the past, that the state party has a credibility gap when it comes to the public and even the media, which is already too willing to play the "Both sides do it equally" card because it's easier than exercising judgement.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Paul Mitchell jumps in race to replace different Republican Congressman

by: Eric B.

Mon Jul 13, 2015 at 11:38:21 AM EDT

Last summer, my mail carrier and I had a running joke. I'd be on my front porch working, he'd come up and hand me my mail and say, "Paul Mitchell really wants to sell you some hair care products." It was Paul Mitchell, running to replace Dave Camp in the 4th Congressional District. He lost the primary to John Moolenaar, and Mitchell went on to help kill Proposal 1 in May.

Mitchell has moved on from the 4th District, apparently.

Paul Mitchell, the businessman who ran the campaign that destroyed Proposal 1 in May, has jumped into the race for the 10th District Republican nomination. Mitchell, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress outstate in 2012, is now apparently a resident of Dryden  Township in Lapeer County.

Lapeer County? This practically makes him Todd Courser's neighbor, which is appropriate since just like Courser, he appears to have no guiding force into politics except that it appears he thinks the nation can't function without him helping to guide it.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

The Cello Fellow heads to Blue Lake next week: Open thread

by: Eric B.

Sat Jul 11, 2015 at 11:55:58 AM EDT

Social media friends are familiar with the nickname I give the kid when I go to one of his concerts: The Cello Fellow. I named him that because plays cello and because it rhymes. Plus, I think that now that he's 13 it gets a little under his skin*, and what's the point of having teenaged children if you can't make them angry for some reason. As some of you might be vaguely aware, he's attending Blue Lake Fine Arts camp this summer on a partial scholarship (actually, more than half his $1,350 was covered by scholarships, but that's just bragging). His session starts Wednesday, and I couldn't be happier to have my apartment (and, because he's always playing Minecraft, my laptop) to myself for the portion of those 10 days he'd be at my house (his mom and I have a very loose and open custody relationship on the grounds that we sorted things out early in his best interests). I'm a little proud, too.

I'm also happy to report that I'll actually get to see him off. I thought his camp session would start on a weekend, when I'm working my day job, but it starts on a Wednesday, which is a day off. I get to see him off ... and stand in line to buy his uniform items, because I've been so busy and ran out of regular checks months ago (I only pay rent with checks anymore, and the landlord doesn't care if they are starter checks or regular checks and would probably happily take a burlap sack with a dollar sign on it stuffed with cash).

Enjoy this open thread. I won't be around at all this weekend, because I work this afternoon, and then work tomorrow morning because tomorrow afternoon there is some kind of garden walk at the other full-time job and I should probably be there to answer questions. Then, I'm taking the rest of the day off to enjoy myself, which is usually when one of you bastards hits me up on chat to inform me of some major, pressing developing news story that demands my immediate attention. The last time I had a Sunday night off, Andy Dillon announced for governor. I still haven't forgiven him for that. And, oh boy, can a man ramble so we'll call it good and declare the thread open. 

*--It doesn't really make him angry. He thinks it's funny, and he also thinks it's funny when I do stuff to aggravate him. His mother says we are the same person, which is no small source of relief for me personally. 

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Programming note: Comments ratings have been abolished

by: Eric B.

Sat Jul 11, 2015 at 07:52:35 AM EDT

Effective yesterday, the comments ratings system has been abolished. In doing so, I have put a halt to something that has been a longstanding source of aggravation, from fielding complaints about people misusing it while I'm out doing real life things to not being able to take steps to correct genuine misuse. At the end of the day, it was a moderately useful tool to rate one user's racist, anti-Semitic rants into oblivious without requiring adult supervision against it being a colossal pain in my ass. Not only do I not have time to deal with it, I shouldn't have to and when I finally have time to sit down and write, which is what I enjoy doing, it is a needless distraction.

So, it's dead and gone and will not ever, ever, ever, ever come back. Don't even ask, and don't ask for some kind of replacement. As long as it leaves open the possibility that someone can accuse someone of trolling when they are, in fact, disagreeing then it's not ground I have even an inkling of interest in entering.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)
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