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Memorial Day weekend open thread

by: Eric B.

Sun May 24, 2015 at 09:52:50 AM EDT

In addition to the other things I do, I manage the neighborhood's community garden. Mostly that means making sure the place appears well maintained and mowed. It also means getting my hands on resources for people to make the most success of their plots. Friday, for instance, I set up two hanging basket polls and bought some hanging baskets in which I plan to grow flowers to make the place look all garden-y. It also means -- uhhh -- community relations.

For instance, there's this old hippie who lives across the street from the place who, being a hippie, has too much time on his hands. So, he spends a lot of time wandering the garden, molesting people's plants. Pretty sure he made off with a bunch of my chard last year, while we're bullshittin'.

One of the people who garden there works with me at the day job. When I went into work Thursday night (split shift!), he cornered me for about 15 minutes complaining about how he'd stopped by the garden that morning and saw this old hippie molesting his plants. I told him that I'd have a talk with the old hippie and let him know not to molest people's plants. Friday morning, I did just that.

The old hippie took it hard.

At the end of the day's second argument over what he perceived as his God-given right to molest people's plants, he mentioned that I frequently drink beer while over there. It was a "hint, hint, wink, wink" passive-aggressive attempt to blackmail me into letting him molest people's plants, because if I harbor a dark, dark secret it's that I drink beer (I have also been known to use foul language). Then, he made some reference to it being my move to "make the peace," whatever the fuck that means. 

This morning, I popped over to the garden to get some chives and mint for my breakfast, and found the embedded note under a rock ... right on top of where I planted chard seeds last week. Apparently, the old hippie is now okay with me drinking beer on private property that he doesn't own and managed according to a contract agreement to which he wasn't a party. What remains unclear is whether this is him acknowledging him that molesting people's plants and stealing food from people's gardens is something he shouldn't be doing.

Fucking hippies.

For the rest of you, the thread is open. 

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Before the corpse cools a degree: A prevailing wage repeal love story

by: Eric B.

Fri May 22, 2015 at 08:48:16 AM EDT

The crazies send a message to our benevolent overlord Rick Michigan.

A group has submitted initiated legislation to repeal Michigan's prevailing wage law and bypass a potential veto from Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. Protecting Michigan Taxpayers announced Thursday the submission of a citizen initiative to the state election board. If the group collects roughly 252,000 valid signatures, the bill will go to the Republican-led Legislature. If lawmakers pass the legislation, the governor could not veto it. If legislators do not act or reject the bill, it would be put to a statewide votein 2016.
As if anything like a gubernatorial veto was ever going to stop these people. Vandals never listen to reason. 

 

Discuss :: (9 Comments)

Harvey Santana is sad that Senate Democrats locked Virgil Smith's office

by: Eric B.

Wed May 20, 2015 at 12:37:33 PM EDT

If you think of our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect as basically half a step better than the Russian parliament, this fits.

While none of the Democrats in the Senate will talk about this, fellow Detroit Democrat Rep. Harvey Santana does.

"This prejudicial action that the Democrats are pushing I think is wrong, " he said. "A whole lot of people are watching, especially in the city of Detroit."

FOX 2: "And what are they thinking?"

"That this is unfair," Santana said. "That this is arbitrary and capricious. To sit there and take your colleague and throw him under the bus is wrong."

I don't pretend to know the minds of most Detroiters. Hell, I don't pretend to know the minds of the people who live next door. But, if Harvey Santana thinks that a naked man running out of his home to shoot up someone's car with a rifle is appropriate conduct for someone serving in the Senate, then it says much more about Harvey Santana than the Democratic leadership.

Also, Skubick (and I can say this with the check from my last OTR appearance now cashed) ... we're letting Harvey Santana speak for the entire city?

Discuss :: (7 Comments)

Proposal 1 Yes campaign overseer fails upward to DeVos Super PAC

by: Eric B.

Wed May 20, 2015 at 10:08:44 AM EDT

Well, now this is very interesting.

LANSING, MI (WHTC) - The Michigan Freedom Fund, which came into prominence during the passage of the Freedom to Work Act more than two years ago, will get a new leader. The Governor’s Director of External Affairs, Terri Reid, will leave the Snyder Administration after four years to become the super PAC’s president following the Memorial Day holiday. Reid had mixed success during her tenure, helping to defeat several constitutional ballot measures in 2012, but was also a leader in the failed Proposal 1 effort.

There was a rumor percolating during the Proposal 1 campaign that Reid was purposefully taking a dive to get a job down the road. The fact that she got a job right after Proposal 1 is probably not going to do anything to quell those rumors. I mean, who goes from a defeat of historical proportions to a job running something else?

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Yes, Rep. Dillon, let's legalize and tax marijuana

by: Eric B.

Tue May 19, 2015 at 13:00:00 PM EDT

Our marijuana laws are out of date, a failure, a drag on society in general and reflective of a thankfully dead age when prohibition was sold to the public as a necessary way to stop black jazz musicians from despoiling our wholesome white women. Let's legalize it, tax it, and use the proceeds to pay for important things that our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect otherwise thinks are less important than cutting taxes for rich people.
Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Auto insurance is one part necessary, one part scam

by: Eric B.

Tue May 19, 2015 at 11:00:00 AM EDT

The greatest phone conversation I've ever had was one morning towards the end of June 10 years ago. I was sitting at my computer, checking e-mails, when my auto insurance agent's office called. I was a month late paying my premiums, but I had no intention of paying them because I'd stopped driving my car the previous month and was getting around entirely by bicycle. The agent's receptionist informed me that if I didn't bring them a check for $250 that day that my insurance would be suspended and I'd be at risk for driving illegally. I told them I no longer needed their insurance, at least for six months.

The entire dynamic of the phone conversation changed on a dime. No longer did the insurance agent's receptionist think them entitled to $250 of my money they could squeeze out of my via threats. She now had to cajole it out of me. Finally, when they said that they could suspend my insurance for six months ... for a mere $250 (I was too late to do this for any cheaper, I was informed) ... I said, "No, I don't think we'll be doing that today," and ended the conversation. I don't remember if it was cloudy that morning, but it certainly felt like the sun was shining directly on me (which, since I was at a west-facing window, was impossible).

And that, boys and girls, is a sign of an industry that has lost its way. In the big picture sense, insurance exists to support risk-taking. If the risks are low, your premiums are low, because no one expects to have to make you whole. If your risks are high, your premiums are high, because you might well need be made whole. But it provides a service because it does make people whole, which helps to encourage people to take responsible risks. You may not like it, but it's very necessary to make any kind of modern economy go.

In this state, things have progressed beyond that. Insurance companies provide a criticial service. They have been allowed to go beyond that to engage in what amounts to legal extortion, bending the law to squeeze money out of people they have no legitimate right to. For a short period of time there was that onerous, obnoxious fine you had to pay if you couldn't prove to a cop on the spot that you had no insurance. There is also that odious, obnoxious nonsense about credit scoring and risk that punishes poor and young drivers, the people least positioned to stand up for themselves. There is now also this.

It's an L. Brooks Patterson piece about the No Fault Insurance catastrophic claims fund money raid that our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect tried to sneak through without anyone noticing. 

This kind of business behavior is not capitalism. It is kleptocracy, and it is a sign of an economy that has overall lost its way badly. The No Fault reforms aren't just bad policy as far as insurance goes, it says something about our way of commerce that at its heart is deeply sick. 

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

America's shoutiest mayor has veto overridden over BWL post

by: Eric B.

Tue May 19, 2015 at 10:00:27 AM EDT

I've been following the issue of Lansing's BWL -- the firing of Peter Lark and subsequent squabbling over how to reform the thing -- since that Christmas ice storm. But, this caught me a bit off guard.

LANSING – After nearly two months of debate, Lansing City Council voted 7-0 to oppose Mayor Virg Bernero's proposed inspector general position for the Board of Water & Light.

This move overrides Bernero's veto made last week of City Council's 7-1 vote to cut the $200,000 for the position and instead spend up to that amount for an audit by an independent agency. Any money left over would be put in the city's rainy day fund.

It's not that he lost a vote, it's that he was supposed to have won a veto override-proof supermajority on the council a couple of years ago. The fact that not only could he not get it but that he lost an unanimous vote is mighty interesting.

Lansing people, take this as your opportunity to discuss. 

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

I am the father of a teen: Open thread

by: Eric B.

Sat May 16, 2015 at 12:33:46 PM EDT

Lordy, lordy, look who's ... 13. That's the boy this morning over breakfast. He technically doesn't turn 13 until sometime this evening. Right this second 13 years ago, his mother and I were still waiting for the doctor to get labor going. Not sure what exact time he was born because the day was all so very surreal.

Anyway, I'm now officially the parent of a teen. I'm not sure what to make of it. On one hand, it's great that I can send him out to run errands various places. On the other, he's now taller than I am and lets me know this at every opportunity. He's also at the age where I need to start really worrying about a) girls, b) drugs, c) beer, d) petty crime, e) a child who no longer talks to me.

Actually, scratch that last bit. He still talks to me. He's taken the last week to calling me a jackass, which might make me angry but it's kind of deserved. It's ... something probably best left unmentioned.

So, Happy Birthday, Sam. He won't actually read it, but I did take him to breakfast and probably said it there or before hand. As for the rest of you, the thread ... she's open.

Discuss :: (8 Comments)

Another media outlet thunders about Cotter's budget fantasy, the state's citizenry yawns

by: Eric B.

Fri May 15, 2015 at 12:00:00 PM EDT

Someone mentioned in comments a few posts down about a certain bitterness at the Detroit Free Press discovering that it is outraged over Kevin Cotter's fantasy road funding proposal. It raises a great point, which is further illustrated by an MLive editorial this morning saying basically the same thing: The plan stinks, should be DOA and is the product of irresponsible lawmaking.

Well, I don't call it the ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect to send people running to the Google machine to figure out what the hell I'm on about.

As to MLive, it reminds us of Very Serious Person Phil Power's column the other day about the eroded influence of the state's editorial pages. Part of that is because no one is reading the state's editorial pages any more. Three decades ago, people started to lose the daily newspaper habit, and nothing useful was done to stanch the reader bleed. So, there are simply fewer eyes looking at editorials than in a very long time.

Even bigger, however, is that they've been beaten into submission by bellowing know-nothings accusing them of bias based on nothing more than ignorant certitude (a relative that Mssrs. Dunning and Kruger would recognize), so to placate those critics liberal-leaning editorial boards hem and haw over taking strong liberal positions while occasionally taking pains to take conservative positions on things, or at least appear to have fully examined it, so they can claim to be open minded. That includes issues where the conservative position is totally insane.

Conservatives don't give a shit, however. They know in their heart of hearts the outlet to be biased, they have no idea how editorial boards actually work, but they are certain they know how journalists do their work. They are not interested in nuance. You cannot soft pedal enough, say, that climate change is real. Once you poke your nose above the surface of the water, they are standing there with a baseball bat to teach you a lesson for committing the crime of being informed.

Most every other person who pays attention to these things understands this to be truth, and when they see media outlets trying to cater to people who already hate them, it causes them to lose respect. It's like watching your friend go to pains to placate the intractable asshole who always tells him how worthless he is. Eventually, you pull your friend aside and say, "Dude, think about your dignity."

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Sen. Dark Money won't give taxpayers a chance to have say on something he thinks they want

by: Eric B.

Fri May 15, 2015 at 10:26:55 AM EDT

Programming note: A couple of months ago, I mentioned that posting might get downright sparse this month because of a job I'm working. We've hit that point. Spent 11 hours working yesterday, matter of fact. So, this was all over everyone's social media feeds two days ago, when I put in a mere 9-hour day., and yesterday when I was off the grid. On a positive note, I've sewn 60 feet of lettuce, 38 feet of chard, two packages of different peas, a shitload of beets and some carrots.

There isn't anything terribly surprising that our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect went after prevailing wage. What is galling, and what would be great if the state's collective media could express outrage over (not that it'd do any good, since no one cares what they think), is the affront to democracy it is.

"I don't think taxpayers should pay more for their buildings than the private sector does," said Senate Majority Leader ArlanMeekhof, R-West Olive, the sponsor of one of the three bills in the repeal package.

...snip...

Added to one of the bills was a $75,000 appropriation, which makes the bill immune from a citizen referendum. Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, tried to get that appropriation removed so that voters could weigh in on the issue should the repeal pass, but her amendment failed and she was the lone vote against the repeal.

So, he doesn't think taxpayers should pay more, but he's not interested in knowing if taxpayers disagree with him, because he took that decision out of their hands.

A citizens' referendum we really need is for a law requiring that appropriations for legislation be made in a separate, standalone piece of legislation. This kind of nonsense has gone from being an occasional thing to a routine to make it hard to get rid of laws that lawmakers know are unpopular. If you have to make a law impossible to get rid of through the referendum process, it's probably a sign that you are passing the wrong law. These people don't give a shit, however. They know they're right and that everyone who disagrees with them is wrong, even if all the evidence in the world is against them. They have faith in ideology, which is a thing more mighty than mere facts.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Good Catholic boy Kevin Cotter wants to punish the poor to fix the roads

by: Eric B.

Thu May 14, 2015 at 08:37:57 AM EDT

By now, probably most of you have heard about Kevin Cotter's delusional plan to fix the roads: Raid special funds and cutting funding for programs that help the poor. Economically speaking, as most of you know, this makes zero sense. But, that doesn't make any difference to the people in our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect. They have their ideology and they're sticking to it.

The Freep, on the other hand, resides in the real world, where balancing the budgets on the backs of the working poor is not only lacking in compassion but also taking the money from the people most likely to use on goods and services. You know, create jobs.

But, as we were reminded last week, newspaper editorials carry virtually no weight, especially with people who live in a fantasy world.

Discuss :: (13 Comments)

Virgil Smith's Senate seat should be vacated, either through resignation or by other means

by: Eric B.

Wed May 13, 2015 at 13:15:20 PM EDT

This happened last night.

DETROIT - State Sen. Virgil Smith has been charged with domestic violence, felonious assault and other charges in connection with a shooting incident involving his ex-wife at his Detroit home.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced the charges Tuesday.

Smith, 35, also is charged with malicious destruction of property and felony firearm.

These charges are serious enough that waiting for a legal outcome is really unnecessary. Sen. Smith should make himself the ex-Sen. Smith and resign his seat. And, this is what leadership looks like.

"We are responsible for ensuring the people of Michigan, and the people of the 4th Senate District, are represented by a Senator who can serve them effectively. To that end, Senator Smith has been removed from his committees and been relieved of his caucus responsibilities, effective immediately," Ananich said in a statement Tuesday.

If he doesn't resign, they ought to take steps to force him out.

Discuss :: (16 Comments)

Very Serious Person unhappy with your Twittering

by: Eric B.

Tue May 12, 2015 at 13:23:08 PM EDT

Very Serious Person Phil Power adds to the pile concerning Proposal 1's failure. His source? Reader comments at under articles under his Very Serious Person media outlet.

First, people increasingly don’t trust politicians ‒ and were angry at what the system offered up this time around. I’ve spent a fair amount of time reading reader comments on Proposal 1 in last week’s Bridge Magazine: ...

You are invited, as always, to go to the source to see what the readers of Bridge had to say about Proposal 1. Probably they are not representative, however, of the -- what was it -- 75 or 80 percent of people who chose not to vote. Still, let's assume that there is something to this, because it certainly strikes as reasonable. It's just sort of humorous. Indicitive, also, that someone from the Very Serious Person class of people who, when he wants to go slumming with the rubes, chooses to do it with the elite among them ... the readers of his niche publication.

The real nugget of gold here, however, is this...

How come? Clearly, in addition to a lack of trust in society’s elites, as a number of readers pointed out, newspapers have less clout. One comment noted, “Studies have shown that the influence of traditional newspaper endorsements has greatly diminished over the years in influencing the public. With so many options to get information on a subject these days, that’s not too surprising.” Readers also pointed out that many, many people get their information these days ‒ not from newspapers ‒ but from social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter.

If you God damned people would put down your God damned iPhones for a second, you might pick up the daily newspaper habit that everyone had when the bowling alleys of Macomb County were still awash with Reagan Democrats. Back then, being a Very Serious Person counted for something.

This is undoubtedly so, although I confess this worries me no end. For one thing, it’s pretty hard to get a thoughtful understanding of a complicated policy issue (let alone Proposal 1) in a 140-character Twitter post. Moreover, nearly everybody who has access to a computer, iPad or cell phone can be a “publisher” if they want, posting their opinions/rants as they please …without any seasoned editor to make corrections of fact or for balance.

Phil Power probably doesn't know this, he being a Very Serious Person and not someone who circulates among the rabble, but his last sentence describes how most newspapers operate today. If you follow any of the industry sites or people documenting changes in the industry (Jim Romenesko, holla!), you know that most newspapers have eliminated their "seasoned editor" and replaced him or her with community engagement specialists (i.e. people who spend their day promoting the outlet on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media). Phil Power is complaining about you, the unwashed rabble, while at the same time indicting the same newspapers whose clout he worries has diminished.

One last.

The real question, and problem, is this: Who’s going to correct factual inaccuracies propagated over millions of posts?

No one, because the hedge fund-owned news industry a long time ago decided that quality control was not something to invest in any longer.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

The Michigan Chamber calls Jim Townsend a communist

by: Eric B.

Tue May 12, 2015 at 10:17:27 AM EDT

Jim Townsend and Jeff Irwin have introduced legislation for a graduated income tax into our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect that will go nowhere. In response, the Michigan Chamber suggested that Townsend is a fellow traveler.

"This sends a clear message about the direction that Michigan Democrats want the state to go: immediate and blatant redistribution of wealth that punishes individuals and job providers for being successful," said the Chamber.

At least "the Chamber" didn't refer to them as "job creators," because that's nonsense. In this case, the job creators -- also known as "people who spend money on goods and services" -- would mostly benefit. Somewhere below that, one of the drones at the Mackinac Center yips and yaps at the ankles of everyone otherwise carrying out an adult conversation.

Discuss :: (10 Comments)

Dear Internet hotheads, we don't demand resignations before people are charged with crimes

by: Eric B.

Mon May 11, 2015 at 14:45:14 PM EDT

Earlier today, I posted that over the weekend that Sen. Virgil Smith was involved in an altercation with his ex-wife that involved gunfire. I posted it mostly because it's a pretty big deal with pretty big implications, with the idea that it was worth watching ... mostly because the prosecutor hasn't filed charges yet. Once the prosecutor gets the police report -- which isn't yet public -- and reads it, and then decides what charges to press, that's the appropriate time to call on him to quit or to get booted from his office or whatever. Until then, let's everyone simmer down and at least give the appearances that we care about due process when it comes to elected leaders whose politics we don't like.

By the way, I'm headed to my day job here shortly. If and when charges are announced later this afternoon (or even now as I'm getting ready for work), don't take my silence as bitter tears at having been proven a terrible pearl clutcher or whatever. I'm not sitting at my laptop, continuously hitting "refresh" to see what happens with this, only to be disappointed if he's charged with a felony.

Discuss :: (7 Comments)
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