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

by: Eric B.

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

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

Open thread-a-me.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

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

by: Eric B.

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

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

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

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

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

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

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

by: Eric B.

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

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

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

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

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

CapCon drone misses point on climate change, misrepresents USGS work

by: Eric B.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also, has nothing to do with bottled water.

Meanwhile, more dishonesty.

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

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

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

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

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

So far there has been no response.

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

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Vandals, nihilists and anti-government whackjobs

by: Eric B.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which is essentially what has happened here.

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

Death threats? Let's follow the embedded link.

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

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

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

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

by: Eric B.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

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

by: Eric B.

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

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

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

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

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

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Michigan's finest legal mind compares same sex marriage to abortion

by: Eric B.

Thu Apr 16, 2015 at 12:00:00 PM EDT

Michigan's finest legal mind said that he's only defending Michigan's same sex marriage ban because he has to. Michigan's finest legal mind is lying. Michigan's finest legal mind said that if the Supreme Court rules against him, he'll continue to fight against it.

Schuette said it's possible that the nation's highest court will not have the final word on the issue even after its ruling, which is expected by the end of June.

"There will be more cases about this depending on what the justices rule," Schuette said. "Look at Roe v. Wade," the historic case that legalized abortion.

"Whatever the outcome, we will be prepared," said Schuette, adding how much finality there is to the issue will depend on what the justices say in their decisions on the two questions before the High Court.

Well, yes, look at Roe v. Wade, which has been followed by a 40 year campaign to scale back the right of medical self-determination by women. An instructive comparison, one that tells us that this is not just a legal fight for Michigan's finest legal mind, but either a sop to the dwindling, aging part of the Republican base that determines who the party's gubernatorial nominee will be in 2018 or simply part of a moral crusade. It's too bad the reporter didn't ask the interesting question of which one it is.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Tomorrow: Me, on the Tee Vee

by: Eric B.

Thu Apr 16, 2015 at 10:45:48 AM EDT

Don't forget: Starting tomorrow, you can download the latest "Blogger's" edition of Off the Record, where I have to stifle the urge to leap down the row of panelists and choke the shit out of Dennis Lennox. Tim Skubick assured us that it makes for compelling television.

Two appearances ago, Skubick sent around download statistics from that appearance after the fact. We totally crushed everyone else, including appearances that probably had actual educating value!

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

And now, a word from our sponsor

by: Eric B.

Wed Apr 15, 2015 at 13:23:25 PM EDT

Hey, lookee, we have a sponsor! It's the good people at McConnell Communications, Inc., run by Darci McConnell. They are sponsoring us for the next month, which is great. What's even greater is that they've sponsored this webste several times before, and if there is something better than an excellent, long-standing relationship, I haven't heard of it.

For as long as it's been going on, McConnell Communications, Inc., has been front and center in the drive to hike wages of service industry workers. Just yesterday, they sent out press materials for a workers demonstration in Detroit featuring low-wage workers. McConnell Communications, Inc., helped get the word out last year about hiking the minimum wage to $15 only to see our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect do just that. In fact, memory tells me they were in the fight stretching back to the 2012 RNC convention in Tampa.

But, McConnell Communications, Inc., does more than just agitate on behalf of better pay and working conditions for the working poor. They also do campaign work. Last year, in fact, they did communications for Warren Evans before his August primary win as Wayne executive and consulted with all board of education canddidates ... taking part in seven of eight winning campaigns. Considering last year, that's a pretty good record.

So, please show your appreciation for their support for ths website by visting their website and taking a little time to get to know them.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Tax Day bleg: Give a small portion of your return to make the Internet a better place

by: Eric B.

Wed Apr 15, 2015 at 09:50:14 AM EDT

I'm a getting ready to fill out my tax returns even as we speak. A little late, you say? I have the forms in my hot, little fist, which puts me ahead of last year. Plus, my income and deductions are straightforward enough that it'll only take an hour or so of dedicated work. In totally unrelated news, I've learned since Sunday that someone leaked the first five episodes of this season of Game of Thrones to the Internet. So, it's not like I've got anything tempting me to spend time on enjoyable things or anything.

Anywho, this is just a reminder that we're stll in the middle of our annual donation-a-thon. If you've gotten your tax return and are wondering how to spend it, tossing a little coin into the open fiddle case at my feet would be greatly appreciated. It would also help to make the Internet a better place, since some of the proceeds will be used to finance our migration from Soapblox to Wordpress. Out with the old and in with the new and all that sort of thing.

Why support this website? Because last year, and the year before, it's been one of only a few places to document the campaign by our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect to kill your wolves and take away your rights as property owner to dipose of them. I mean, these guys aren't just interested in killing animals, they are so adamant about doing it that they are willing to shred hundreds of years of Western tradition and the bedrock principles of our society to do it. It's barbarity and vandalism, but Ye Olde Emm Ess Emm only wants to reduce it to he said/she said nonsense. Money donated to this site supports the alternatve view that animals shouldn't be treated poorly for the sake of sport and that our rights as property owners of said animals should be respected by our political institutions.

To donate, click on the little button up and to the left. Or, you can mail me money directly to (make checks out to Eric Baerren) 319 S. Oak St. Apt. A, Mt. Pleasant, MI, 48858.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Lack of data helps rape apologists pretend college sexual assault problem is no biggie

by: Eric B.

Tue Apr 14, 2015 at 11:36:43 AM EDT

Over the years, I've become friends with a lot of people who've attended CMU, most of whom I've met through my day job. That includes a fair share of women. Listening to their stories, I've concluded two things: A) You couldn't pay me enough money to go through my 20s again ... I'm very happy where I am at, thank you very much, and B) You really couldn't pay me enough money to go through my 20s again as a woman. From the sounds of it, it's really nothing but a non-stop fending off of gross men trying to stick their penises into you.

I am not sure why we as a society have not integrated this into our widely understood truths. I mean, we accept that men in their early 20s are impulse-driven knuckleheads, but we don't extend that into how they treat women, or what it means as they get older and want to pretend that they aren't. In fact, as a society we make pains to trivialize this, especially as it pertains to our universities, places where thousands upon thousands of people going through that are collected into the same small piece of geography. And yet, when you point out that mixing this with a culture given over to consumption of intoxicants creates a ready environment for sexual assault, a significant number of people wave it off and say something, "It's an overstated problem." And, well, no it isn't. None of this, by the way, is aided by the way our universities in general have treated it.

For the past three months, CMU Insider has sent four Freedom of Information Act requests asking the university for the number of sexual assault complaints CMU has received in the past three years and the outcomes of those complaints. All of them have been denied. (For more on Michigan’s FOIA law, click here.)

You may be aware that, as of last year, both U of M and MSU had open sexual violence investigations. The reason for this is that both places are alleged to have tried to sweep things under the rug.

Why? Last year, for a freelance project, I interviewed the guy who runs CMU's sexual aggression program. His answer was simple: No one wants to be known as the "rape school." Report freely and widely, and your public reputation suffers.

The problem is not just rape, mind you. The problem also encompasses things like sexual harassment and stalking. The figures tossed around are like 20 percent of women attending our universities are subject to this. My guess is that it's a lot more common than that, and that it normally doesn't get reported because it feels like just a normal part of life (As a for instance, I have a friend who during a Halloween week a couple of years ago posted on social media that she'd started dancing with someone at a bar only to have the costumed partner try to start groping her on the dance floor. She did not file a police report over what was a very clear act of sexual aggression, probably because what's the point).

What's to be done? I really have no idea, because you really are dealing with large populations going through a period in their lives where impulse control meets the heaviest use of intoxicants in most people's lives. But, the problem is not aided by universities that are less than transparent in sharing information about it. It is currently impossible to have an adult conversation about this very adult problem because the opaque institutions of higher learning see it in their best interests to obfuscate the problem, which enables people politically disposed to deny it.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Goat killer bites man

by: Eric B.

Mon Apr 13, 2015 at 13:57:48 PM EDT

(h/t Joe D.)

Open ass, insert head.


Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Emily Dievendorf resigns as head of Equality Michigan

by: Eric B.

Mon Apr 13, 2015 at 12:34:01 PM EDT

She posted the announcement to Facebook about 15 minutes ago. I would have posted this sooner, but I was working out when she broke the news. Best of luck to Emily in the future, best of luck to Equality Michigan.
Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Michigan Dems start lining up behind Hillary

by: Eric B.

Mon Apr 13, 2015 at 12:00:00 PM EDT

Debbie Stabenow has tossed her support to Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic nominee for president. I think I saw something about Dan Kildee doing the same. And, if this comment from Ronna Romney McDaniel is any indication, we're in for a long, stupid 18 months.

Michigan GOP Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, in a statement released Sunday evening, noted recent controversy regarding the former Secretary of State's use of personal email and lingering questions over the administration's handling of the 2012 attack on an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi.

I think she also had Vince Foster killed to cover up Whitewater, and then had Ron Brown killed to cover up that she murdered Vince Foster.

Seriously, though, if you're in the media, you can feel free to write stories without publishing these kinds of dumb, discredited talking point attacks and do something a lot more substantive instead. In fact, don't just feel free, feel encouraged to do that.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)
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