Feb 28, 2007

Rogers silent on tainted terrorist money


Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood got some national mention on the Stakeholder, the official blog for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Online Editor Brandon English used a quote from our post about Mr. Rogers accepting money from a suspected and indicted terrorist financier. Rogers is one of 22 Republican lawmakers – and one of three Michigan lawmakers - who has taken money from suspected terrorist financer Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari.

Alishtari was indicted on terrorism charges last week, accused of transferring $152,000 to fund the purchase of equipment for use in a militant training camp in Afghanistan. He was charged with financing terrorism and with money laundering for accepting an unspecified payment to secretly transfer $152,000 for equipment including night-vision goggles in the second half of 2006.

According to the Boston Herald, from April 2002 until August 2004, Alishtari gave donations ranging from $500 to $5,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), according to Federal Election Commission reports and two campaign donor tracking Web sites, www.politicalmoneyline.com and www.opensecrets.org. Alishtari’s was named a National Republican Senatorial Committee ”Inner Circle Member for Life” in 2003.

Most people would expect the NRCC and the other Congressmen to give the money back or at least donated it to charity, but they refused and will not give back the blood money used to help kill U.S. Servicemen and Women. The silence from the Rogers camps has been deafening.

Rumor has it that Roger’s spokesperson is saying it’s really the Mike Rogers from Alabama that took the tainted money. We stand by our source, and if he can prove that’s the case we will do a retraction. At the very minimum Rogers should ask the NRCC to donate the money to charity.

The so-called “liberal media” strategy is alive and working just like it was designed some 40 years ago by Dick Nixon. This huge story has not had much coverage in the corporate media. The Republicans call anyone who disagrees with Bush’s failed Iraq policies a terrorist and appeaser, but they take money from an alleged terrorist financer and we barely hear a peep.

I guess if you just shut up and say nothing it will just be forgotten, and that strategy appears to be working very well for Rogers and the NRCC.

Why is that?

Could you imagine the hype from faux “news” and the corporate media if Alishtari had donated money to the Democrats? I can just see Sean Haity’s scrunched up face and little beady eyes calling Democrats traitors, terrorist sympathizers and murders.

Oh wait, he does that now.

Feb 27, 2007

Top Secret budget plan stays secret


Deep Throat speaks, sort of. Actually, he speaks, but he says nothing.

The much-ballyhooed article in the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus today on the Senate Republican’s Top Secret, for-your-eyes-only proposed budget plan is long on rhetoric and short on specifics. The plan is so secret and the Republicans are so afraid of the public to see what they plan to cut that Republican members of the Appropriations Committee and GOP staffers have been told not to write any of it down to keep it as confidential as possible. On penalty of death, I assume.

However, our own Sen. Valde “Deep Throat” Garcia – AKA Colonel Obvious – spilled the beans. Without divulging specifics, Garcia said the Republican plan relied on spending cuts as well as "accounting procedures" such as spending delays and shifts.

The article was written by Rich Perlberg, the executive editor for the newspaper and the former general manger of Hometown Newspapers, and it’s surprising that a good, veteran journalist let him get away with not revealing a single program they plan to cut.

“Our proposal protects the foundation allowance (for schools), but I can't guarantee that it will stay that way," Garcia said. That's because some of the Republican-recommended cuts are in areas the governor may want to protect.

As part of a plan to make-up a $3 billon shortfall in the state budget without even deeper cuts in essential services that residents depend on, the Governor proposed her budget almost a month ago that calls for a combination of spending cuts and a 2 penny investment on previously untaxed services. For the average family that will mean an increase of about $65 a year, or a $1.33 cup of coffee a week. The Senate Republicans rejected the plan without one of their own more than two weeks ago, and the actual cuts the GOP plan must make on top of the $4 billon in spending cuts the governor has already made since 2002 is the closest guarded secret since the Manhattan Project.

Tell us what the planned cuts are. Is that so hard? The Governor told the public what she must cut, and she has been battered by the press, interest groups and the public for it, yet the Republicans refuse to tell us what cuts they will make that will be much deeper and painful than the Governor’s cuts.

I guess me know why they are keeping it a secret as long as they can.

Feb 26, 2007

Agents Maxwell Smart and Austin Powers in charge of Senate Republicans secret budget plan


Since I retired from the Navy 10 years ago, I have not had much need for the Top Secret security clearance I once had, but apparently Senate Republicans and their staffers needed one just to get a glimpse of their Top Secret, for-your-eyes-only proposed budget plan.

Since the Senate Republicans rejected the Governor’s Executive Order to balance the current budget two weeks ago without, again, a plan of their own, they have been telling us they will soon have a plan to balance the budget with spending cuts alone. But exactly what those cuts will be is as big a secret as the parentage of Anna Nicole Smith’s baby. They are keeping those cuts from the public for as long as possible.

According to subscription only Gongwer News Service, "Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop was preparing today to send a letter to Governor Jennifer Granholm calling for a face-to-face meeting to outline the proposal that apparently calls for as much as $500 million in cuts."

Hey Mike, this is the most important issue facing the state, and time is of the essence because we are already half way through the current budget year. Pick up the dam phone and call the Governor. Do you have a cell phone?

Gongwer went on to say, “The letter was not apparently sent on Monday, but that it was being prepared was the most public aspect of the proposal gained so far. The proposal has so far been held so secret not even all members of 21-member caucus have seen the plan, according to sources.”
“Only GOP members of the Appropriations Committee have seen the full proposal, the sources, who did not wish to be identified, said, and even then they are being told not to write any of it down to keep it as confidential as possible.” (If they did they would have to eat the paper to dispose of it, and it will self-destruct in 30 seconds)
“And a spokesperson for Mr. Bishop said the hope on the part of the GOP is to begin negotiations with Ms. Granholm in closed sessions before making the proposal public.”

The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus ran a teaser in its breaking news section that said, “State Sen. Valde Garcia, R-Marion Township, (A member of the Senate Appropriations Committee) told the Press & Argus today that the senate plan called on program cuts and "one time fixes" that would buy time to solve the budget crisis.”

Gee, I wonder if this means Valde’s security clearance will be revoked for playing Deep Throat?

This cloak and dagger stuff is just ridiculous and sad. Show the public your alleged plan. It’s kind of funny that Bishop, an elected official, wants to meet in secret behind closed doors to talk about his cuts, but just a month ago Saul Anuzis, the chair of the Michigan Republic Party, was complaining that the Governor’s appointed Emergency Financial Advisory Panel was meeting behind closed doors. That makes him more than a hypocrite because no one on the panel was a current elected official.

Get the facts on Michigan’s budget crisis at Town Hall meetings


The Michigan Senate Democrats are holding a series of four Town Hall meetings beginning Tuesday on the state budget crisis.

The first one will be held from 6:30 – 8 p.m. – the times for all four seminars - at the Burnham Brook Center, 200 Michigan Ave. West, in Battle Creek, and the second event will be held at Baker College, 2800 Springport Rd., in Jackson on Wednesday. Next month on March 19, the third town hall meeting will be held in Oakland County at the Southfield Library, and on March 22 the final meeting will be held in Genesee County at a location to be determined later.

Senate Minority Floor Leader Sen. Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek, will lead the first two meetings in his district. Local officials and experts will be on hand to answer questions and provide information about how the crisis is affecting local communities and services.

On hand in Battle Creek will be Cindy Ruble, Superintendent of Lakeview Public Schools; Greg Purcell, Calhoun County Administrator; Rob Behenke, Pennfield Township Supervisor; Gary Olson, Director of the nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency; and Ed Haring, President of Kellogg Community College.

On hand in Jackson will be Emily Kress, Superintendent of Northwest Public Schools; Olson; Mike Jester, Public Safety Director for Blackman Township; Randy Treacher, Jackson County Administrator and local leaders and state officials have also been invited.

Take the opportunity to hear the real story from the nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency, and to learn the cuts will effect local government and ultimately you before the Senate Republicans have a chance to spin their still secret budget plan.

Feb 25, 2007

LIVCO Dems sponsoring fundraising trip


The Livingston County Democratic Party is sponsoring a fundraiser that includes a motor coach trip to Casino Windsor on March 10 for just $20

The $20 cost includes a voucher for $15 in coin that can be used for gambling or $15 that can be redeemed in one of the casino’s restaurants. The bus will leave from VG's Food Center, 9870 E. Grand River Ave., in Brighton, at approximately 11:45 am. and return at 7:15 p.m.

To cross the border you must bring two pieces of ID that includes a picture ID and a stamped birth certificate or your passport. Come out and have some fun and help the Livingston County Democratic Party make your community, state and country a better place to live. You do not have to be a member of the party to go and have some fun.

Payment must be made in full to confirm reservation. Call JoAnn Murphy at (810) 229-4401 for information.

Still time to listen to Stabenow interview on the Stephanie Miller Show


In case you missed it Friday like I did because I was working the House Office building, you can still hear the interview with Sen. Debbie Stabenow on the hilarious, entertaining and informative Stephanie Miller Show.

The show saves the highlights of the last show on the web site, but I don’t know how long they keep it up. So hurry and listen to it. Stabenow, only one of the 23 lawmakers who had the foresight to vote against the Iraq resolution in 2002, talks about the current Iraq resolution against the U.S. escalation of the Iraq civil war occupation.

Rogers decides pollution is bad but there is no such thing as global warming


Apparently Mike Rogers has added scientist to his long and growing list of expertise and subject matter expert.

In a story in the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus on the special slide show on Al Gore’s Academy Award winning movie "Inconvenient Truth" making an appearance in Republican-Livingston County on March 10 in Brighton, Rogers said pollution is bad, but the 400 scientists from 113 nations who say humans are causing global warming do not know what they are talking about. If pollution is bad, then how is it bad, Professor Rogers?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change just released an authoritative and disturbingly scientific report in Paris a few weeks ago that said global warming is “very likely” caused by mankind and that climate change will continue for centuries even if heat-trapping gases are reduced. It was the strongest language ever used by the panel. The document was a collaboration of hundreds of scientists and government officials, and it was approved by 113 nations, including the United States.

Evidence is mounting every day, and more and more scientists are coming to the conclusion that humans are causing climate change. The words “very likely" means they agree that there is a 90 percent chance that global warming is caused by humans. The report issued in 2001, said global warming was "likely" caused by human activity. What will it take to convince Mike Rogers; the disappearance the Alpine glaciers?

Just a few days after the IPCC report came out, 45 nations answered France's call for a new environmental body to slow inevitable global warming and protect the planet. However, the world's heavyweight polluter, the United States, and booming nations on the same path as the U.S. — China and India - declined. Even though the U.S. agrees humans are causing global warming, they do not want to do anything to address it.

To show you the level of misinformation, lies and the political pressure that is trying to force scientists to alter their findings that global warming is occurring the article offers up one fountain of right wing propaganda: Dan Wholihan, who runs the Republican Michigander blog. Anyone who has ever read this guy’s misinformation knows he would not believe man landed on the moon if a Republican told him it never happened. He says Gore “…has an agenda and he wants to implement his agenda.” Of course he does, and so do the millions of other concerned people all across the world that care about the planet and do not want to see it disappear or be fouled.

Gore personally trained some 1,000 presenters last year in Nashville who are traveling across the country with copies of his 330-slide climate slide show customized to the state the presentation is held in. The unpaid volunteers are setting up projectors in living rooms, church sanctuaries and VFW halls to show the presentation.

Dr. Kathryn Savoie, environmental program director with the Dearborn-based Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS), will present the slide show at 2 p.m. March 10 at the Brighton Education Center, 125 S. Church St., located just a couple of blocks south of downtown Brighton and about a quarter mile from the I-96 Spencer Road Exit.

Britt and Anna overshadow Iraq and MDP convention


Michigan’s Democrats heard from its national leaders at the Michigan Democratic Party Convention Saturday at the Cobo Center, but the news from Washington, D.C. was not nearly as earth shattering as what’s going in a Florida Probate courtroom.

“I usually talk about the important news in the headlines, but the two most important issues are who is the father of Anna Nicole’s baby and why did Brittany Spears shave her head,” said U.S. Sen. Carl Levin. “So, we will have to talk about less important issues.”

The convention was the first time Democratic leaders, party faithful and activists got together since last summer’s convention in August, and it was the first time we had to celebrate the stunning November success that saw Democrats take control of the U.S. House and Senate and state House.

“We need to pat ourselves on the back, but as we go out the door we need to start recruiting candidates and begin working hard again,” said U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

Levin, who is up for reelection to his sixth term in 2008, echoed the sentiments of his Senate colleague, and he acknowledged the hard work of the party volunteers and the forward thinking of the American people.

“If you want to go backward you put the car in R for reverse,” he said. “If you want to go forward you put the car in D for drive; last November the America people put the car in drive.”

Stabenow talked about the successful first 100 hours of Democratic leadership of Congress that included implementing the 9/11 Commission recommendations, increasing the minimum wage, approving funding of stem cell research and the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation. She also talked about her two most memorable moments of her six years in the Senate; seeing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales actually being sworn in when he gave Congressional testimony and seeing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi take the gavel.

“Nobody has been sworn in for the past six years,” she said.

Stabenow said the non-binding resolution denouncing the plan to send 21,500 additional troops to Iraq would continue to go forward until they get the necessary 60 votes to bring it to a vote. The House has already passed it, but the Senate fell four votes short to bring it to the Senate floor for an actual vote. But Stabenow said the tide is turning as more people see the folly of the Iraq civil war occupation. The first vote only had two Republicans cross over and vote for the resolution, but the latest vote saw seven Republics come to their senses.

“The 23 of us who voted no on the Iraq Resolution authorizing the war are going to go back and stop the escalation,” she said. “It’s not about resolve; it's about votes.”

Feb 24, 2007

Democrats leave state convention energized and ready to defend Michigan against the nay sayers


Like many of the Democrats in the solid blue state of Michigan, I left Cobo Hall and the Michigan Democratic Party Convention Saturday energized and ready to save and defend the state I call home.

Gov. Granholm gave an impassioned speech in defense of her common sense budget plan that erases a $3 billon hole in the budget with a combination of even more spending cuts and a 2-penny investment on goods and services that will cost the average family about $1.33 a week, or the price of a cup of coffee a week.

“Are you willing to invest a cup of coffee a week to save Michigan,” she said. “Our choices are we will invest in Michigan and move Michigan forward, or we will cut and gut Michigan.”

The Governor has signed 93 tax cuts since she took office in 2002, and she has had to do this while making spending cuts to erase the $4 billon budget deficit left in her lap from the previous Governor. Taxes have been cut every year for the last 15 years, and there is simply nothing left to cut and still stay competitive and provide the essential services residents depend on and draws people and business to the state. We have less state employees now then we did in 1973, despite having more than a million more residents. That also includes 1,600 less police officers on Michigan streets since 9/11 because of the budget cuts required by the governor to balance the budget. Business taxes have been cut for the past seven years. Study and after study has shown it is a high quality of life that draws companies and businesses to the area, and it is not rock bottom, slave wages that attracts companies to the U.S.

“If it was true that cutting taxes was the way to prosperity we would have a robust economy,” the Governor said.

Earlier this month, the Senate Republics rejected the governor's executive order that balanced the current budget, and we are still waiting for a plan from the Senate. Secrets are usually hard to keep in Lansing, but exactly what the Republics plan to cut is a better-kept secret than the Manhattan Project.

“We know what they are against, but what are they for,” the Governor said. “Put your plan out to the public.”

Experts have said we will never win a race to the bottom with wages, and why would we even want to win such a race. We can’t pay Third World wages in the U.S., so we must invest in quality of life issues; like good public schools, quality colleges and universities, safe streets and solid infrastructure to stay competitive.

“If we won’t invest in Michigan, no multi-national corporation is going to invest in Michigan,” said Rep. Fred Miller.

Democrats will be forced to make the tough choices to keep Michigan competitive and moving forward because the Republics simply do not have the backbone or courage to make them. They do not even have the courage to tell us what they plan to cut, and that goes back as far as last summer when they voted to end the Single Business Tax (SBT) early without a replacement. The Republics did so in order to make the false claim on the campaign trail that they cut taxes and then leave it to the Democrats to clean up the mess they created by making the tough, hard and responsible choices.

“We have to run against sound bites,” said Speaker of the House Andy Dillon. “We have to run against sound bites that we raised taxes and cut this or that popular program.”

Perhaps the best news to come out of the convention is that Dianne Byrum will be staying on in a position of leadership. After being term-limited out of the House in December, the former Minority Floor Leader - who was one of the people responsible for Democrats taking control of the House for the first time since 1998 - was elected Treasurer of the MDP. Byrum was the first woman to ever lead the House Democrats, and she helped swing 13 seats to the Democratic ledger, the most since the 1930s. The change in the House in the short time it has been controlled by the Democrats has been dramatic, and for the first time since perhaps 1998 there was actual debate on the House floor Thursday when the House approved a package of bills that repeals a 1996 law granting legal immunity to drug companies.

“We were able to beat the Republicans in their own gerrymandered districts,” Byrum said. “Republicans were so desperate to hang onto their power they used shameless tricks like squashing debate at every turn.”

Feb 22, 2007

Rogers accepts money from suspected terrorist


U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers is one of 22 Republican lawmakers – and one of three Michigan lawmakers - who has taken money from suspected terrorist financer Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari, according to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

When are you going give the tainted money back, Mr. Rogers?

According to Reuters, Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari - AKA Michael Mixon - a New York businessman, was indicted on terrorism charges on Friday, accused of transferring $152,000 to fund the purchase of equipment for use in a militant training camp in Afghanistan. He was arrested Thursday and charged with financing terrorism and with money laundering for accepting an unspecified payment to secretly transfer $152,000 for equipment including night-vision goggles in the second half of 2006, said an indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Alishtari, 53, is a U.S. citizen born in the United States.

Remember Afghanistan? That’s where the actual 9/11 terrorist plot that killed thousands of Americans was actually hatched, supported and nurtured

According to the Boston Herald, from April 2002 until August 2004, Alishtari gave donations ranging from $500 to $5,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee, according to Federal Election Commission reports and two campaign donor tracking Web sites, www.politicalmoneyline.com and www.opensecrets.org.

Alishtari’s resume says that in 2003 he was named a National Republican Senatorial Committee ”Inner Circle Member for Life” and was appointed to the NRCC’s ”White House Business Advisory Committee.” The resume also says Alishtari was named the NRCC’s New York state businessman of the year in 2002 and 2003.

It seems ironic that Republicans call anyone who does not support Bush’s failed polices in the Iraq civil war occupation a terrorist and a traitor, yet the Republicans actually accept money from terrorists and refuse to give it back.

Rogers joins fellow Republicans Joe Knollenberg and Thaddeus McCotter in accepting the blood money.

Sen. Stabenow to guest on Stephanie Miller Show


U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow will be a guest on the Stephanie Miller Show Friday morning, Feb. 23.

The show airs from 9 a.m. to noon, and for those who have never had the opportunity to listen to the show, it’s three hours of hilarious comedy with liberal political commentary mixed in.

Unfortunately, if you are in your car the only station that carries the show is WLBY-1290 AM out of Ann Arbor, and it has a rather weak signal. However, you can go the show’s web site and listen live.

Actual debate is back in the Michigan House

News Flash!!!!!

There is actual debate on the Michigan House floor, as we speak. When was the last time that happened?

The House is debating House Bill 4044 that will no longer give drug companies legal immunity against lawsuits against the harm their drugs call. The bill repeals a 1996 law granting legal immunity to drug companies. Passed by then-Governor John Engler and the Republican-controlled Legislature, the law gives companies complete immunity from legal action. It includes big drug companies in the Consumer Protection Act, from which they are currently exempted.

Republican after Republican stood up and gave long speechs against the bill. Many stood up and said it’s a job issue, ignoring the simple fact that we are the only state in the union to give this immunity to drug companies. After 1996 they should have been flocking here. Have they?

But the most important thing is there is actual debate. When Republicans controlled the House that was not allowed. There certainly seems to be no limit on the time either. The House is also debating the entire package of bills that includes HB 4044, 4045 and 4046.
Check it out.


UPDATE- The bill - 4044- passed easily with a 70-39 vote and moves to the Senate.
HB 4045 passed by a vote of 60-49.
HB 4046 passed by a vote of 58-49.

Democrats introduce real campaign finance reform


The Michigan House Democrats are taking a real step forward in campaign finance reform with the introduction of a bill that requires elected officials to file personal financial disclosure statements.

Majority Floor Leader Steve Tobocman, D-Detroit, introduced House Bill 4285 yesterday that will require “candidates for state office or judge, state department heads and current office holders to file personal financial disclosure statements that include the names of all family members; his or her employer; the source and amount of earned income and other or her spouse; a list of assets including real and personal property, stocks, bonds; a record of transactions involving the previous items; a list of liabilities over $10,000 of the candidate or a family member; any business ownership; any trustee, director, etc. positions held by the individual in a business, union, non-profit, educational or other institution; any future employment agreement, including leave-of-absence agreements; any honoraria received by the office holder or spouse; and more.”

The House Democrats introduced an eight-bill package last spring that included the financial disclosure that died in committee, but now that the Democrats are in the majority chances are very good this bill will finally become law.

Michigan has the worst record for financial disclosure in the country, according to the Center for Public Integrity. The Center for Public Integrity - a nonprofit, non-partisan organization dedicated to producing original, responsible investigative journalism on issues of public concern – has consistently ranked Michigan among the worst in the nation for its public financial disclosure laws. In addition, many laws in Michigan don’t apply to all state elected officials in the same way, creating different standards for different officials.

The bill was referred to the Committee on Ethics and Elections, chaired by Rep. Marc Corriveau, D-Northville.

Anti-gay hate group claims are ‘baseless’


One of the cardinal rules journalists live by is to say something and convey the story with as few words as possible using clear concise language. The editorial in today’s edition of the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus on the book-banning situation in Howell Public Schools does precisely that.

The leader of the anti-gay hate group known as “LOVE” PAC (Livingston Organization for Values in Education) sent a letter to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox and Livingston County Prosecutor David Morse claiming the books in question violate child pornography laws and further makes the ridiculous claim that the books' presence in high school classrooms violates the law by disseminating sexually explicit material to minors.

The “LOVE” group has been waging a losing book banning battle for the past four months against “The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them,” Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison's first novel, "The Bluest Eye," an acclaimed memoir written by Richard Wright in 1945, "Black Boy " and the classic Kurt Vonnegut novel "Slaughterhouse Five.” The group claims they are pornographic.

The editorial from the conservative Press & Argus Editorial Board clearly calls for an end to the “LOVE” nonsense in no uncertain terms.

“The allegation is baseless. Those who received a complaint about it need to reject it quickly. It does not require detailed analysis.
Surely, we can have reasonable debates about our school curriculum without stooping to these shabby tactics. It's shameful to suggest that these books are pornographic. It's deplorable to suggest that our teachers, administrators and school board members are distributing pornography.”


Truer words were never spoken.

The editorial ends with somewhat of a question.
“There is no reason for the prosecutors and the attorney general to sit on these complaints.”

We seem to forget they are all Republicans, and although the “LOVE” group is a small but vocal minority, they are making baseless and unproven claims that they have more than 1,900 members. These are still politicians, and they are most likely looking for a way to dismiss this ridiculous claim without making the “love” group look any more silly than they really are.

Feb 21, 2007

Book banners are not concerned parents


I ran across this excellent post about book banning and censorship, and in light of the disgraceful situation we have going on with the attempted book banning in Howell, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to post it.
Camille, who runes the blog, told me all of the examples of censorship by what she calls “book banning know nothing nutters” actually happened and are “ripped from the headlines,” for you “Law and Order” fans. We know that’s true because we here in Howell have seen some of these very things happen from the so-called “LOVE” group.
If you love to read, love books and love to talk about them check out her blog the “Book Moot.”


It occurs to me that I should be clear. There is a difference between a concerned parent and a book banning know nothing nutter.

I love concerned parents.

Both a Concerned Parent and a BBKNN may not have read a children's book since their Betsy & Tacey / Go Dog Go days and are genuinely distressed by something in a children's or YA book

*******
A Concerned Parent reviews the book their child has checked out of the library

whereas

A BBKNN is working from a list they found on the internet and checking to see if the school library has any of the titles.

*******
A Concerned Parent talks to their child's teacher, librarian or principal about the book. They have a discussion with the librarian and others about the book.

whereas

A BBKNN goes directly to the school board demanding the book be banned.

*******
A Concerned Parent is genuinely worried about the effect a book has on their child and should be applauded for taking an interest in their child's reading life.

whereas

A BBKNN is primarily interested in the newspaper article about their school board appearance.

*******
A Concerned Parent works with the librarian to offer alternative reading choices to their child and the parent talks to their child about the books they expect them to read.

whereas

A BBKNN sends their kid into the library to check out yet ANOTHER controversial book so they can add it to their list of grievances.

*******
A Concerned Parent may determine that their child's reading selections need exploring and realize this is an opportunity to discuss certain issues with their child.

whereas

A BBKNN begins an email campaign maligning the librarian and expressing outrage over the presence of the book in the library and on the planet Earth.

*******
A Concerned Parent realizes that they can make reading choices for their own child but have no right to determine reading selections for other people's children.

whereas

A BBKNN complains about the book to people where he/she works and vows to "take the book down."

*******
A Concerned Parent may still honestly feel a book needs to be reconsidered after they have read it and they file paper work to have the book reconsidered.

whereas

A BBKNN files paperwork to challenge the book without reading the book in its entirety and goes through and picks words and scenes out of context to include in the complaint.

*******
A Concerned Parent reads the report of the reconsideration committee and finds a) the committee has agreed with the concerned parent or b) accepts that others have found value and merit in the book and is resigned that the book will remain on the shelf.

whereas

A BBKNN reads the report of the reconsideration committee and finds a) the committee has agreed with the BBKNN or b) shrieks in frustration that others have found value and merit in the book and is NOT resigned that the book will remain on the shelf.

Instead they immediately escalate and file an appeal vowing to take their complaint all the way to the state board of education.

*******
Concerned parents are concerned with the welfare of their own child.

whereas

BBKNNs' own children are not part of the equation because they don't let their kids read “those kinds of books” anyway.


I love concerned parents.

I also want to urge people to “Take the Banned Book Challenge” as part of Freedom to Read Week that begins Monday. Pelham Public Library in Fonthill, Ontario is sponsoring the challenge, and they are asking people to set a goal to read as many banned or challenged books as you wish between Feb. 26 and June 30, 2007. Readers can visit the Pelham Public Library’s Fahrenheit 451: Banned Book Blog to set your goal and report on your progress with an online form.

Fringe group wants janitors and bus drivers to set curriculum


Just when you think the Howell book-banners censorship quest can’t get any more absurd it does.

The anti-gay hate group know as the “LOVE” PAC (Livingston Organization for Values in Education) - led by Vicki Fyke, the advisor of the Livingston County Teen Age Republicans and school board member Wendy Day – has been waging a book banning battle against “The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them,” Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison's first novel, "The Bluest Eye," an acclaimed memoir written by Richard Wright in 1945, "Black Boy " and the classic Kurt Vonnegut novel "Slaughterhouse Five.” The group claims they are pornographic.

After getting shot down by the school board, Fyke fired off a hail Mary earlier this month by sending a letter to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District,Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox and Livingston County Prosecutor David Morse claiming the books violate child pornography laws and further makes the ridiculous claim that the books' presence in high school classrooms violates the law by disseminating sexually explicit material to minors.

That was on Feb. 9, and since they have had a response they have tried another ploy. According the the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, the complaint has been expanded to include whether support staffers — bus drivers or janitors, for example — could be breaking any laws if they give the books to students. I’m not sure what that means. A janitor or bus driver is supposed to decide what the child should read? Can someone explain that to me?

Fyke has also asked the Republican county prosecutor to see whether any laws on racial slurs or violent material may apply.

Let’s see: one of the books is an autobiography from a black author growing up in the south in the 1920’s to the 1940’s and the other one is from a black Nobel Prize winning author about racial prejudice in the north. Do you think there might be some violence and racial slurs in the book? I have read both the "The Bluest Eye” and "Black Boy” and I would like Fyke to point out to me the obscenity.

The article quotes another former Republican county prosecutor, Tom Kizer, who said he couldn't see any justification, other than politics, for prosecutors to pursue the issue. Exactly.
"I would be astounded if any prosecutor did that, and if one did, I would wonder what his motivations are," he said. So would I.

I guess when the attorneys are through laughing they will respond, unless they are actually busy with real crime.

As I have said numerous times before, this fringe extremist group will accept no compromise other than controlling what other people read. It’s not about children it’s about control, politics and censorship.

This is what Fyke says if their latest stunt fails, and it will. “We do have backup plans," she said, but declined to say what they were. "We'll have to decide on what 'Plan B' would be. We're certainly not going to let it go."

Of course you will not let it go. Sounds a little obsessive to me.

To further show how out of touch with reality she is she claims the so-called “LOVE” hate group is the majority in the county. "This still is something the community is incensed and outraged about ... I don't think we are (in the minority)."

She clearly has not been paying attention. If what she claims is true, then maybe Howell really deserves its reputation as a close-minded racist community. I don’t believe it does.

Monday is the start of Freedom to Read Week, and I urge everyone to “Take the Banned Book Challenge” and read one of the many excellent books that people have tried to ban over the years. You will be shocked at some of the great books that people like Fyke and Day and groups like the so-called “LOVE” group have tried to ban and censor over the years.

Feb 20, 2007

Special presentation of "Inconvenient Truth" coming to Brighton


A special slide show on Al Gore’s movie "Inconvenient Truth" is making an appearance in Republican controlled Livingston County next month in Brighton.

According to the Detroit Free Press, a dozen Michiganders are helping Al Gore carry the message of his movie "Inconvenient Truth," preaching the gospel of global warming with his slides and their words.

Gore personally trained some 1,000 presenters last year in Nashville who are traveling across the country with copies of his 330-slide climate slide show customized to the state the presentation is held in. The unpaid volunteers are setting up projectors in living rooms, church sanctuaries and VFW halls to show the presentation.

The steep rise in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere is trapping more of the sun's energy and heating up the earth. The changes are most dramatic at the poles, where glaciers and sheets of ice are melting. Expected results in Michigan include hotter summers, and the levels of the Great Lakes are expected to fall by at least 5-feet.

The Brighton presentation is set for 2 p.m. March 10 at the Brighton Education Center, 125 S. Church St., located just a couple of blocks south of downtown Brighton and about a quarter mile from the I-96 Spencer Road Exit.

I hope to see a lot of people there. Also, "Inconvenient Truth" is also up for an Academy Award for best documentary this Sunday.

Feb 19, 2007

Conservative editorial wants to turn the clock back even farther to 1930

It wasn’t much of a surprise, but the Detroit News came out against the Governor’s 2-cent plan on services to balance the budget and save essential services.

It amazes me how right wing their OP-ED page and editorial board is. This is a newspaper located in one of the most liberal cites in America and the biggest newspaper in a blue state. Have they ever endorsed a Democrat or a Democratic position?

There reason for rejecting the levy seems to me to be the very reasons for approving it. The OP-ED says the sales tax is limited in the state Constitution, and the Governor’s plan is and end around the Constitution.

But they never envisioned a sales tax on services. The state Constitution discusses a limit on the sales tax rate on "tangible personal property." It says nothing about a sales tax on services because no one in 1962 or 1963, when the Constitution was debated and adopted, thought of such a tax.
And there is Granholm's opening. She can propose a 2 percent sales tax on services without the necessity of a public vote to change the Constitution. But the possibilities are limitless. After all, the current sales tax rate began in the early 1930s with a 3 percent rate. It has since been doubled to 6 percent -- even given the difficulties inherent in getting voter approval to amend the Constitution.


Exactly. No one envisioned in 1930 or 1962 that our economy would change from a primarily manufacturing-based one to a service-bases economy. It makes no sense for one segment of the economy to pay its fair share, but another segment dos not pay its fair share.

They also failed to mention why the sales tax went from 4-cents to 6-cents. It was because of Proposal A that went away from local property taxes to fund schools to the state sales tax. How convenient.

Republican lawmakers, who still control the Senate, should reject this tax ploy. At the very least, they should demand a statewide vote on it.

Forget the cost of an election. The Detroit News and the Senate Republics then need to tell Michigan residents what they plan on cutting because there is no way a statewide vote can be held in time to balance the current budget.

Why elect leaders if we do not allow them to make decisions? Just think of the money we can save if we don’t have a governor or a Legislature. We can just govern by the ballot box.

Feb 18, 2007

Why isn’t the Republic Party rejoicing over layoffs


I’m a little perplexed about all the fuss from Republicans over the possible layoff of 30 Michigan State Troopers by April 1 if a fix of the estimated $300 million hole in the current state budget isn’t patched.

Isn’t this what the Republicans want? Don’t they want less government and less state employees? Isn’t turning the clock back to the 1970’s what they want?

Just last Thursday Senate Republicans rejected the Governor’s executive order to cut almost $200 million in spending from the current budget because it did not include enough cuts. Of course, last summer’s early repeal by the Republic Party of Single Business Tax without a replacement demonstrated how irresponsible they can be, and the rejection of the EO without a plan of their own on the table is just one more irresponsible, grandstanding move on their part. They want more cuts, but they just don’t have the guts or backbone to tell Michigan residents what they are.

Of course, we knew they were not going to tell us what they planned to cut because of the SBT repel because it was an election year. What’s their excuse now for a lack of a backbone this time around?

If an agreement is not reached on budget cuts by April 1 the 30 Trooper layoffs would drop on-the-road trooper strength close to 1,000, the lowest in more than 30 years, said officials at the Michigan State Police Troopers Association in the Detroit News. This will be the first round of trooper layoffs since 1980. I say so what?

Isn’t this what the Republic Party wants?

Taxes have been cut every year for the last 15 years, and the Governor has signed 93 tax cuts since she took office in 2002. She has had to do this while making $4 billon in cuts to erase the budget deficit left in her lap from the previous Governor. There is simply nothing left to cut and still stay competitive with other states and provide essential services.

So what if we have fewer troopers on the road than we did 34 years ago? Isn’t that what the Republic Party wants?

We have less state employees now then we did in 1973, despite having more than a million more residents. The state work force has declined by about 9,000 over just the past six years alone. Because of cuts in revenue sharing to local governments since September 11, 2001 when all we can talk about is being safe, protecting our borders and keeping us safe from terrorists we have 1,600 less police officers on the street. What’s 30 less going to matter?

Isn’t that what the Republic Party wants?

Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s 12-person, bipartisan Emergency Financial Advisory Panel - made up of two former governors and state budget directors, legislative leaders and longtime Lansing policy experts from both political parties – said cuts alone would not fix this budget crisis, and the governor has proposed a 2 penny levy on services to help keep police on the streets and other essential services. For the average family that will mean an increase of about $1.33 a week, or the cost of a cup of coffee. Apparently, that’s too much for the Republic Party, yet they still squawk at the real cuts their stinginess will cause.

Fine. Where’s your plan?

It seems ironic that that Sen. Valde Garcia, R-Howell, who chairs the subcommittee that handles the State Police budget, said, "I'm a little concerned. The main job of the Legislature and the governor is to ensure public safety. Laying off troopers makes that much more difficult."

Are you not the same Valde Garcia who voted against the Governor’s commons sense Executive Order last week, and instead of offering an alternative plan played politics with people’s lives and engaged in political grandstanding? The obvious answer is yes.

Feb 17, 2007

Grant will bring courageous labor struggle to life again


I wanted to congratulate a friend I have known since I was in elementary school, a loyal Democrat who has worked hard for Democratic candidates and a labor leader on receiving a grant from the Michigan Council of Humanities to mark the most violent labor strike in the City of Monroe’s history and a pivotal point in American labor history.

Bill Connor, the president of the Monroe/Lenawee AFL-CIO Central Labor Council, is also the curator of the Monroe County Labor History Museum, and he almost single-handedly raised the money and organized the museum located in the historic Phillip Murray Building in downtown Monroe that has long been a landmark site for local unions.

The grant the museum received on Friday will create a permanent display at the museum and a satellite exhibit at the River Raisin Battlefield Visitors Center marking the bitter and violent attempt by the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) to organize the Republic Steel plant in Monroe in 1935.

According the Monroe Evening News, during a bitter strike in 1937, workers and police clashed. Strikers were beaten and tear-gassed. Cars were overturned and dumped into the River Raisin. A deputized goon squad that included citizens and vigilantes chased and beat workers, injuring 11 people. Republic fielded a security force that joined forces with numerous citizens "deputized" as special police and issued billyclubs lathed in Loranger Square downtown.

This display will illustrate the rich labor history of my hometown, and organized labor’s role in creating the middle class and giving workers some basic human rights and dignity. These same labor unions are under attack today much like they were 70 years ago and beyond, but now the tactics are much more covert and subtle but no less evil.

One interesting thing about the article to me was one of the last paragraphs where it says even though the CIO failed to organize the plant in the face of the brutal attack, it survived and it learned. The CIO went on to organize the area's paper plant workers in the 1940s and made possible unions in other industries.

My grandfather worked and retired from one of those paper mills, located near where the Republic Steel plant was located that is now an ice-skating rink and a housing development.

My grandfather came up from a place called Tazewell, Tenn. to Monroe, where I believe at one time it seemed like half of Monroe's residents hailed from, to work in the plant. He told me stories of going to work before Consolidated Paper, Co. was organized and not knowing if he and his fellow workers would come home from work alive or with all of their fingers, toes or limbs. He was a loyal union Democrat his entire life.

He and my grandmother raised six children during the Great Depression, and when he died a few years ago in his 90’s he left behind a healthy estate. My grandmother never threw anything away, and every thing could be used more than once or for another purpose.

If you are ever in Monroe visit the museum at 41 W. Front St., and visit the exhibit called "The Nation's Eyes Are on Monroe: Second Conflict on the River Raisin" when it’s unveiled in early May to mark the 70th anniversary of the strike.

Feb 16, 2007

Fahrenheit 451: Banned Books: Take the Banned Book Challenge


Fahrenheit 451: Banned Books: Take the Banned Book Challenge

The only good thing to come out of the censorship and book-banning campaign by the anti-gay hate group, the so-called “LOVE” group, is people are reading some quality literature and classic American novels. The books being challenged by the group are hard to come by at the Howell Carnegie District Library and area bookstores.

I ran across an excellent blog on banned books and censorship operated by Pelham Public Library in Fonthill, Ontario, and they have heard of our plight here in Howell. As part of Freedom to Read Week that begins Feb. 26, the blog is urging people to “Take the Banned Book Challenge.”

They are asking people to set a goal to read as many banned or challenged books as you wish between Feb. 26 and June 30, 2007. Readers can visit the Pelham Public Library’s Fahrenheit 451: Banned Book Blog to set your goal and report on your progress with an online form.

With the online form they plan to generate a report, and they will likely do a weekly entry on who is registered using first names only to protect readers. Lot of libraries and school districts visit the blog regularly.

As people read, they can go back to the form and report their progress by giving the title and they can tell what they liked about the book or why they thought it was banned. A final report will be posted at the end of June.

Basically, it’s a global book club for banned and challenged books. The blog owner told me this is the first time they have tried this, so there may be some glitches.

If you don’t know what book to read, the blog lists all of the banned and challenged books.

Feb 15, 2007

Rogers turns somersault in biggest flip-flop in recent memory



The latest position Mike Rogers is taking on the Iraq occupation illustrates one of two things: President Bush’s approval ratings are so low that Rogers will no longer be an apologist for the occupation, or he is the biggest flip-flopper ever.

In a floor speech on the debate over the non-binding resolution opposing the escalation of the Iraq occupation, Rogers said he will vote against the resolution and introduce one that suggests reassigning some troops within Iraq to the Anbar province to combat al-Qaida forces; giving Iraqi forces the primary responsibility for quelling sectarian violence in Baghdad; reopening state-run factories that were closed; and clarifying U.S. forces' rules of engagement.

In the understatement of the year, the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus said this about the resolution, “In a rare break from President George W. Bush, Rogers' nonbonding resolution states that Congress disagrees with the administration's troop surge — just as the Democrats' resolution does.”

Is this the same guy who was the biggest Bush cheerleader who said just last summer that anyone who did not support Bush’s failed Iraq polices was a terrorist and an insurgent. Now he’s breaking ranks with Bush. I don’t know if that says more about Bush’s policies or Rogers flip-flopping.

It would be nice if he finally saw the light like more and more Americans are everyday, but obviously that’s not the case because he’s not joining members of the Republic Party and endorsing the Iraq resolution.

There were a few things interesting in the speech, but other than that it sounded like a typical Rogers’s stump speech.

He said there were admittedly mistakes, such as not enough troops when the invasion bean and disbanding Iraq forces right after the occupation began. How about we never should have invaded a sovereign country in the first place?

He used his standard of ploy of someone coming up to him and tearfully telling him his position is the best one. In this case it was an unnamed wounded solider who wanted his leg amputated so he could regain the full range of motion in order to pass the Army physical fitness test so he could go back to Iraq. He was willing to lose a leg to go back because he supported the mission so much. With that kind of dedication it makes you wonder why they have a backdoor draft and involuntary extend tours and use other stopgap measures to keep troops in country.

This is a typical Rogers emotional speech, but these people are never identified or ever named. I think if a man were that dedicated I would remember his name and tell as many people who would listen about his determination and courage.

This reminds me of a story he told in a speech last summer at a chamber of commerce luncheon in Howell about how an undercover CIA agent working in Afghanistan who supported the mission so much that he came up to Rogers and told him so, just like the unnamed solider. He so wanted to tell Rogers this he was willing to blow his cover, and he also asked him to telephone home for him. The only problem was his opponent in the Congressional race was a former CIA agent and knew that would never happen.

Young teen challenges people to support the troops with more than a bumper sticker

This letter appeared in the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus today from a young man I know very well. I also know his family. He has a healthy respect for the military, and he’s a member of the Livingston Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol here in Howell.

In response to the Rev. Richard Alberta's comments on Cpl. Mark Kidd's sentiments (article, "Community grieving for fallen Marine," Jan. 28):
Kids carrying cardboard boxes full of scrap rubber sent to the local collection center by their parents who are too busy working their victory gardens and giving their empty cans to their neighborhood Boy Scout to do it themselves. This is what supporting the troops meant back over 60 years ago, a stark contrast to today where people buy a sticker and put it on the back of their car.
Sure, some churches and schools organize small drives to support our troops, but is it enough? What we need are city-wide drives that show the troops that, whether we support the war or not, we still stand behind our troops all the way.
During World War II, people at the home front showed support and adoration to the troops. In Vietnam, people actually showed dislike and shunned the troops. Now, in 2007, people just show indifference! If the troops don't realize that people really do care then the war will already be lost. Think about it!
In World War II, we actively backed the troops and won despite staggering losses that would have (and did) make many other armies retreat so fast they were falling over one another. When people actively showed their dislike to the soldiers in Vietnam, my uncle told me a long time ago, "When I got off the plane, I walked toward the car waiting for me when I exited the terminal, and stepped out onto the street, I had food thrown at me." We pulled out. The first war that people showed dislike to the troops was also the first war we lost.
As for Iraq, well, things aren't looking too good. If morale is low, 21,000 troops aren't going to have as much as an impact as one would hope. So, think about your own involvement. How active are you? Has anyone reading this done anything to help the troops with in the last month? How about the last two months? If not, we have a problem, and I have just the remedy. Send a letter to a soldier at www.amillionthanks.org. Or sponsor a care package by going to www.usocares.org, or donate your old or used cell phones at www. cellphonesforsoldiers.com. You can also go to www.letssaythanks. com to send a postcard to a soldier for free!
All these suggestions are very easy and can make a huge difference in the day of a soldier. So I want every single person reading this article to go to the nearest computer as soon as possible and do one of the above things. I also challenge you to research other ways you can help because the soldiers can't win this war alone — they need us to back them up.

Brian David Bigelow, 13

Howell


Supporting the troops also means ensuring the civilian leadership only makes judicious use of the troops with a clear mission and benchmarks for success, and if they place them in harm’s ways they are properly equipped and trained. And when they come home we must keep our promise to them and ensure they are taken care of.

None of that is happening in Iraq. One thing is for sure, supporting the troops means much more than putting a bumper sticker on your car, waving the flag or tying a yellow ribbon made in China you bought at Wal-Mart on a tree.

School board elections take on a partisan bent

The filing deadline to run for school board passed Tuesday, and all but one of the five Livingston County school districts will have competitive races.

The book-banning controversy in Howell Public Schools by the anti-gay hate group known as the “LOVE” PAC (Livingston Organization for Values in Education) ensured the races will be antagonistic. The group started early last year, and they actually managed to get one of their candidates elected in May. They are recruiting more candidates. The unprecedented decision by the Livingston County Republic Party to recruit, train and throw their resources behind candidates in what has always been a nonpartisan school board election is also drawing attention to the races. The so-called “LOVE” group is also sure to have its candidates in there somewhere, at least in Howell. I just hope there are some competent, independent candidates in there too fro the community’s sake. Here’s my roundup.

In Howell there are two seats being contested by five candidates, including the incumbent, Jeannine Pratt. Long-time incumbent Ted Parsons, Jr., chose not to run for another four-year term after 12 years. The candidates include, Dan Fondriest, 49, Genoa Township; William T. Harvey, 44, according to sources a strong Republican from Oceola Township; attorney Edwin J. Literski, 52, Genoa Township, a strong Republican; Pratt, 46, City of Howell, and Douglass Moore, 54, from Oceola Township.

Brighton Area Schools will have a healthy race with eight candidates vying for the two open seats. The good news is that incumbent Miles Vieau did not file. He’s a member of the Livingston County Republic Party’s executive committee, and he’s responsible for recruiting Republic candidates for the nonpartisan school board races.
Here are the candidates,
Wesley R. Armbruster, 61, of Green Oak Township; Jared Geist, 24, a law student at Michigan State University from Genoa Township; Irene Besancon, 62, Brighton Township and a Republican-recruited candidate; Patricia Bradley, 50, Brighton Township; Winnie Garrett, 60, Genoa Township; Beth Minert, 57, Green Oak Township; Gregory Rassel, 47 a Genoa Township Republican; and Keith Vanhentenryck, 51, Green Oak Township.

The race in Fowlerville Community Schools is uncontested. This has to be the best-run district in the county, and one reason is incumbent President Mike Brown, who is running again, and the other is Superintendent Ed Alverson. The new board member for the seat vacated by long-time, dedicated incumbent Elaine Esch is Sheila Burkhardt, 41, of Iosco Township.

In Pinckney Community Schools, three people have filed for two seats, including both incumbents. Running is incumbent Anne Colone, 59, Hamburg Township, and apparently the first lady of Hell, Michigan by virtue of being the wife of the unofficial mayor of Hell, Incumbent Michelle Crampo, 45 of Putnam Township; and Jason Reifschneider, 24, Pinckney.

At Hartland Consolidated Schools there is one seat up of election, and the candidates are incumbent Elsie McPherson-Brown, 53 of Oceola Township; and Dennis M. Tierney, 44, a Republican from Hartland Township.

Feb 14, 2007

The Adventures of CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS Adventure No.1: The Expert Military Tactician


The first installment in this exciting serial was sent to me by a good friend, and asked that I share it with the readers. Hopefully, this will not be the last in the series.

Look! Up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS! Yes, CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS! A mild-mannered, chisel-jawed congressman; raised by a secret Chamber on a nearby planet and returned to mid-Michigan as a young child; afforded earthly protection by Gannett and nurtured by the Press-Argus; self-styled super-hero to the working family! He’s faster than a sleight-of-hand magician with ADD, able to change colors so fast as to make a chameleon blush, more powerful than a corporate PAC, able to control the press with a single release! Yes, it’s CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS, the unabashed symbol for spin, injustice and the multi-national corporate way!

And now on to our hero’s latest adventure….

It was a somber Tuesday morning deep below the White House in the Situation Room. Prior to the invasion of Iraq, Pentagon military brass predicted that between 300,000 and 400,000 troops would be needed to control the aftermath of removing Saddam Hussein. The president and vice-president, with cheerleader Don Rumsfield completing the unparalleled circle of arrogance, ignored the professionals and decided to invade on the cheap. Now, some four years later, with the “not really a civil war” raging in Iraq and the recent Democratic takeover of Congress, the White House inner circle was in trouble.

They couldn’t announce any kind of withdrawal, since it would be perceived as an admission of error and everyone in the administration knew that they were never wrong. The war was increasingly unpopular; even the old GOP warhorses in Congress were turning against the President. The mood in the Situation Room was dark indeed. The Administration was nearing rock bottom. What to do? Sighing, the President knew he could no longer rely on Dick Cheney for guidance. The ongoing trial of Cheney’s friend and confidante Scooter Libby had brought the Veep close to the breaking point. Clearly off his medication, Cheney sat near the large television screens in the corner repeating, “I am the Vice-President of the United States and I don’t have to answer your question. Would you like to go hunting?”

“Dick,” the President said, “we have no choice. It’s time to make the call.” He reached for the hotline and heard a calm, confident voice with a gee-whiz accent saying, “You can always count on me, Mr. President. I’ll be right over.”

Hanging up the shiny red phone, The Captain felt a swell of pride at being called to serve again. He rushed out of his congressional office and arrived unnoticed at the loading docks. Slipping into a small janitorial closet, he emerged seconds later, red cape waving, red and white Joe Boxers adorning his ample midsection. He’d had to give up the tighty-whities a few years back, since he, like most middle-aged K Street beneficiaries, had to contend with the spreading waistline that resulted from the pounds of filet, lobster and other lobbyist-sponsored treats. Gosh, he thought sadly, why can’t all those free lunches be calorie-free, too?

The Captain had sensed the president’s fear, and knew just what to do. After all, The Captain was an Expert in All Things. It was his special gift, the result of his upbringing on the secret planet. The Chamber had spent years honing his ability to respond instantly, with a confident tone and a small-town grin, as an expert on any topic at all. Defense policy, football, currency manipulation, medicine, agriculture, chemistry – it didn’t matter what the subject was. The Captain knew that with his special skill, his fact-free statements would be reported without any pesky questions.

The uninitiated, especially the media, saw him only as being “a great politician,” but he and The Chamber knew better. How could it be explained otherwise? The press and all the media were not capable of understanding. Their attention span lasted only as long as the last edition or yesterday’s news. It was actually easier this way. Keep it simple. They could always be relied on to not ask the real questions. And they could certainly be relied upon not to ask how he came to be an expert in so many, even very complex areas.

Back in the Situation Room, the president’s tension began to ease. He knew that he could rely on The Captain. A few years ago, as the situation in Iraq was just beginning to deteriorate, The Captain helpfully declared that the streets of Bagdad were as safe as those in any major American city! And that Iraq was going to be a virtual “gold rush” for American business! Neither statement was true, but the press didn’t notice. And they certainly didn’t remember it when reality later contradicted The Captain. The president smiled, remembering The Captain’s quick responses during the recent mid-term elections, when the party was in trouble. The Captain had proclaimed for all to hear that the war in Afghanistan and Iraq was going very well, and the media nay-sayers could safely be ignored. After all, The Captain was a military expert.

The president’s smile grew into his trademark smirk as he recalled a report on The Captain’s daring triple-expert morph. At a local Chamber of Commerce meeting in mid-Michigan, The Captain first transformed himself from an aw-shucks local boy to an ambassador-at-large, bravely wading into the complex conflicts of the Afghan-Pakistan border to negotiate agreements with local tribes. Then he became a secret agent, carrying a secret message from a CIA officer secretly working in Afghanistan back to the officer’s family in the U.S. He rounded off this dazzling display by becoming a world historian with a map of Europe and Asia illustrating al-Qaeda’s dastardly plan to take over a third of the known world. The audience shivered with fear as he described how the world’s supply of Chianti would be drastically affected with al-Qaeda’s takeover of Italy. They nodded somberly as he told them how their Riviera vacations would be disrupted by radical mullahs swarming into France. Mesmerized, the audience ate it up. The Captain is an expert, they told themselves, so it must be true! Of course, the basic facts he’d presented wouldn’t have survived the scrutiny of an eighth-grade geography student, but once again The Captain’s expertise left no room for doubt. No one asked how a CIA officer could conceivably not be in direct communication with Washington. No one asked how al-Qaeda would unite Islam and take over the world, even though it was plain that Sunnis and Shias were increasingly killing one another. All were under the spell of The Captain and his expertise.

Nodding to himself, the president realized that he really didn’t know how The Captain could so convincingly transform himself into an ambassador, secret agent, or world historian. All he knew was that it worked. And more importantly, he needed The Captain once again.

Cape and boxers swirling in the breeze, The Captain arrived in the Situation Room. He found the leader of the free world seated at the head of a large table, wearing his usual smirk. The President could relax, knowing that all would soon be well.

“So Captain, you know where we’re at. What do we do?” “Gee, Mr. President, it’s pretty darn simple” replied The Captain, completing his instantaneous transformation into an expert military tactician. “We need to rearrange the troops. Just move 4,000 of our troops from Bagdad out to Anbar province and turn the security situation in Bagdad over to the Iraqi army. That will eliminate the need for any escalation, um, I mean ‘surge’.”

The president looked puzzled. “But didn’t you say the streets of Bagdad were as safe as any of our major cities? Won’t it look like we are merely ‘rearranging the deck chairs’ on the Titanic?” “Mr. President,” replied The Captain soothingly, “that’s not how it will go. Look. The public is increasingly opposed to escalation, sorry, I mean ‘surge.’ We can’t afford to be seen screwing this up and not supporting the troops, so we can’t withdraw. And we can’t answer any real questions, so we just attack the questioner. Call them unpatriotic. Talk about how we have to all work together. Drop the shrill politics. The election is over. Work together for a solution. I mean, come on, sir -- has it ever NOT worked before? I’ll have my ventriloquist, um, assistant issue a press release and they’ll eat it up. No questions asked. And most importantly, they’ll look the other way and we’re off the hook. ”

And so it was done. Captain Underpants issued his press release and thereby saved the President. He was immediately lauded by the media for his insightfulness and military expertise, and the people once again proudly proclaimed throughout the land what a fine representative they had in Washington, D.C.

STAY TUNED FOR ADDITIONAL ADVENTURES OF

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS!!!!!!!!!

Senate Republicans play politics with budget


In just one more case of playing politics with people’s lives and grandstanding by the Republic Party, the Senate Republics voted to reject the Governor’s Executive Order of Feb. 8 that outlines the spending cuts to balance the budget with no plan of their own to address the shortfall.

We saw this very same cowardly and irresponsible act last summer when the Republic Party killed the Single Business Tax (SBT) without a replacement in sight. Again, we see them playing politics and rejecting a responsible but painful proposal that cuts almost $200 million from the current budget.

The Senate Appropriations Committee just rejected it by a vote of 10-7 along party lines. Livingston County’s own, unfortunately, Senator, Valde Garcia, made the motion to reject the EO.

I agree with Sen. Liz Brater, D-Ann Arbor, when she said, “If we are going to reject this, then we need to see some alternatives.”

Well said.

Feb 13, 2007

The long local nightmare is prolonged by hate group


The long national – (actually local) nightmare is over. Not.

I’m afraid it’s not. However, cooler heads, sanity and the open minds prevailed Monday night when the Howell Public Schools Board of Education voted 5-2 to approve three books for the high school English curriculum, over the objections of a small but vocal anti-gay hate group.

The anti-gay hate group know as the “LOVE” PAC (Livingston Organization for Values in Education) - led by Vicki Fyke, the advisor of the Livingston County Teen Age Republicans and school board member Wendy Day – has been waging a book banning battle against “The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them,” Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison's first novel, "The Bluest Eye," an acclaimed memoir written by Richard Wright in 1945, "Black Boy " and the classic Kurt Vonnegut novel "Slaughterhouse Five.” The group claims they are pornographic.

After two stormy meetings and hours wasted on this when the board really needs to be addressing the school’s looming budget problems, they wasted hours and hours on this ridiculous “problem.” It would seem the issues is over, but the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus reported Day said she had filed a form to ask for an official review of the Morrison book. It will remain in the class while the review takes place.

Just a few says ago on Friday Feb. 9 Fyke sent a letter to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District, Stephan J. Murphy; Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox and Livingston County Prosecutor David Morse claiming the books violate child pornography laws and further makes the ridiculous claim that the books' presence in high school classrooms violates the law by disseminating sexually explicit material to minors.

As I have said many times: even though parents have always had the option of choosing another book to read and the books have been through a lengthy review process, this group will never quit their self-appointed quest until the books have been banned.

The approval by the board is, supposedly, the end of the long approval process. The books have already been approved for the curriculum by a group of teachers from the particular school, a district wide subject-specific content committee, a district wide curriculum and assessment committee, the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and finally Superintendent Chuck Breiner before it made it to the board.

Let’s examine what this book-banning quest has accomplished. It reinforced Howell’s image as a small-minded racist community, it distracted the board from addressing the much more pressing problems with the budget and it completely divided this community. That’s a little hard to do when you consider the Republic Party controls every partisan office in Livingston County, but “LOVE” managed to divide the community and create discontent.

The only good thing to come out of this fiasco is the backlash against this hate group. It was nice to see the anti-“LOVE” buttons being sported by many people at the meeting. It also got many people reading some good books. I just finished reading "The Bluest Eye,” and I am currently reading “Black Boy.” There’s a waiting list for both books at the Howell library, and I had to go to Lansing to get one of them.

Obviously, Day voted no, but I was disappointed that Philip Westmoreland voted with the lunatic fringe. I mistakenly voted for him last May.

We need independents, progressives and liberals to run for school board to combat groups like “LOVE” and the naked power grab by the Republic Party that has decided to throw its resources into this nonpartisan race. Nominating petitions and affidavits for anyone 18 or older wishing to run for a four-year term are available at their county clerk’s office, municipal clerk’s office or school board office. The filing deadline for local, nonpartisan school board elections in May is 4 p.m. Today, Feb. 13.

Feb 12, 2007

Back the Governor’s plan


I normally post all of the material on the blog myself, but this Letter-to-the-Editor that appeared on the editorial page of the Lansing State Journal Monday is from a very good friend of mine. She is a Genoa Township resident here in Livingston County, and she has been very politically active in both the county and state. She is also a very active environmentalist where she serves as the Vice-President of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. Irene Cahill is also a forester for the City of Lansing, and I think she personally knows every tree in the city. It is also in that capacity that I hitch rides to Lansing with her.
Posting this excellent letter is payback for all of those free rides to Lansing.
Thanks Irene.

Back Granholm
The people of Michigan have always been committed to a first-class society; one that raises up all the people. Fifteen years of tax cuts have caused deep wounds in the fabric of Michigan's environment (parks, forests, water and natural resources), education, health care and roads. Michigan cannot continue on the path of tax cuts. Tax cut advocates are only interested in themselves and what they can get.

Help Gov. Jennifer Granholm fund essential and other services. The severe cuts looming upon us are real - just about every facet of daily life will be affected.

We deserve excellent education, roads and an environment with clean water, air and public lands. We may have to put up with taxes on services to ensure services we need. We also need the proper level of enforcement personnel to collect the revenue.

Support our governor. We need and deserve responsive effect government.

Irene McDonnell Cahill
Howell

Feb 11, 2007

New Michigan sales tax on services could hurt Britt and Paris


The businesses that have gotten away for years without paying for the public services they consume are up in arms over Gov. Granholm’s proposed 2-percent tax on services, and they are using the lame excuse that the tax is extremely complicated for businesses and consumers with increased paperwork, according to an article in the Detroit News business section Friday.

But at lest one group, the 884-member Independent Accountants Association of Michigan, says the tax is needed and won't be too much hassle.

As part of a plan to make-up a $3 billon shortfall in the state budget without even deeper cuts in essential services that residents depend on, the Governor proposed her budget that calls for a combination of spending cuts and a 2 percent levy on services. For the average family that will mean an increase of about $65 a year, or a cup of coffee a week. But business groups like the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the State Bar of Michigan are opposing the investment in the state’s future because for the first time many of their members will be taxed.

They are obviously ignoring the fact we are moving from a manufacturing-based economy to a service-based economy, and they are only worried about protecting their bottom line at the expense of the rest of the state. Some of the reasoning they are floating for opposing the tax that calls for 2 cents on the dollar is laughable.

Henry Cooney, president of the Metro Detroit Bar Association, is quoted in the article as basically saying attorney’s fess are so expensive they should not be taxed. "A legal service is not discretionary. When you have to hire an attorney for a divorce or a bankruptcy, it's unfair to ask your client to pay tax on top of a service that is not inexpensive."

Many groups, including the Michigan Institute of Laundering & Drycleaning, will inform members the cost will be "much higher," said Kelly Johnston, the institute's director of government relations. It doesn’t really matter if it’s not true.

But this is perhaps the most ludicrous excuse so far:

The cost increase will cause customers to think twice, said John Lieberman, owner of the Bark Busters Home Dog Training franchise in Oakland County. "It increases the effective price of our service, and it's a disincentive for people to have their dogs trained."
With basic dog training starting at $495, the sales tax would add at least $10 to his services, Lieberman said. "If you're providing a premium service that costs more to begin with, people need to build a case that it's worth the extra cost."


If you can afford to pay $495 to have someone else train your pooch for you then I seriously doubt $10 is going to break the bank. Maybe we can call it the Paris Hilton or Brittany Spears tax because if we enact it they will not be able to carry those little French Poodles into nightclubs and premiers with them.

The Michigan Chamber Commerce - that represents more than 7,000 employers, trade associations and local chambers of commerce in the state – is obviously against the tax. Has this group ever endorsed a Democrat? This group is perhaps the biggest hypocrites of all. They are in the process of lobbying state Legislators for a business tax reduction of $500 million. Where to make that up? This farsighted group is saying cut it from education. Great idea. Not.

They are also advocating a 3-cent increase in the gas tax. Apparently they do not represent gas stations.

Feb 10, 2007

Ward grandstanding bill would add government he claims he wants to cut


State Rep. Chris Ward has earned a deserved reputation for introducing grandstanding legislation that he knows will go no where but allows him to say he is address a problem during campaign season, but he out did himself with the planned introduction of a bill that creates a state-level office to enforce the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The story was in Friday’s edition of the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, and it raises more questions than it answers. The first one is why didn’t he introduce the bill just a few months to four years ago when the Republic Party was the majority party in both Houses of the state Legislature and would have no trouble getting such a bill passed. For the past two years Ward was the Majority Floor Leader, and he was the sole person able to decide what legislation would go before the full House for consideration.

Obviously, the Republic Party is settling into its minority role quite nicely, and Ward can say he addressed a problem.

The second question is why are we talking and writing about something that has not even been introduced yet. It does not take much to get a bill introduced. You simply tell the nonpartisan Legislative Services Bureau what you want, and they promptly return it to you in bill and legal form. You take it to the nonpartisan clerk’s office who simply reads the title of the bill at the end of the session day when no Legislators need be present where it is assigned a bill number and it’s then referred to a committee.

Now, the hard part is getting the assigned committee to give the bill a hearing and get it discharged out to the full House. That would have been no trouble when Ward was in the majority party, but it apparently was not a big enough problem for him to address then.

Ward claims to be a conservative who supports small government, yet he wants to create another layer of government with an ombudsman that apparently would mediate disputes between government units and people making requests under the FOIA.

This is the same person who irresponsibly voted last summer to end the Single Business Tax (SBT) early without a replacement in sight. This the same man who supports the Senate Republics proposed SBT replacement that cuts $300 million out of the tax in the face of a $3 billon state budget deficit. This the same man who wants to make unspecified cuts in government spending, but he still wants to add more government.

He claims the Michigan Press Association, a trade organization that represents some 300 Michigan newspapers, supports the idea, but if you look at their legislative priorities all it says about FOIA is to examine the changes that have taken place to the act since it was enacted and roll back some of the exceptions.

Now, I don’t think this is a bad idea, but when we are facing huge budget deficits our legislators should be addressing and all the Republic Party wants to do is cut, why is Ward proposing more government?

Again, I think FOIA enforcement should be increased because I strongly support open and transparent government, but why can't an existing agency take up the enforcement?

Feb 9, 2007

Self-appointed censors call Nobel-Prize winning literature criminal


The most ludicrous news item of the day goes out to Vicki Fyke, the leader of the anti-gay hate group known as the LOVE PAC - (Livingston Organization for Values in Education) and the advisor of the Livingston County Teen Age Republicans.

The so-called “LOVE” group started a book banning controversy some two months ago by trying to ban a book from Howell High School called “The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them.” Since then, they have also tried to ban Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison's first novel, "The Bluest Eye," and an acclaimed memoir written by Richard Wright in 1945, "Black Boy, " as well as the classic Kurt Vonnegut novel "Slaughterhouse Five.”

Local radio station WHMI is reporting Fyke has sent a letter the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District, Stephan J. Murphy; Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox and Livingston County Prosecutor David Morse claiming the books violate child pornography laws and further makes the ridiculous claim that the books' presence in high school classrooms violates the law by disseminating sexually explicit material to minors. The self-appointed community censor, along with school board member and “LOVE” member Wendy Day, is asking for an investigation and prosecution of any violations of the law. The book burners apparently have also added a new book to the list, “Running with Scissors,” a madhouse memoir of a 13-year-old boy raised by his mother’s psychiatrist by Augusten Burroughs. The book was just turned into a motion picture this past fall starring Alec Baldwin and Gwyneth Paltrow, to name a few. Gee, maybe that’s why they object to it.

The books have already been approved for the curriculum by a group of teachers from the particular school, a district wide subject-specific content committee, a district wide curriculum and assessment committee, the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and finally Superintendent Chuck Breiner. The Board will have final approval at its regular meeting Monday night.

Obviously, these people are not smart enough to come up with that ridiculous idea on their own, and they got it from one of the most well-known and notorious anti-gay hate groups in the state, the American Family Association of Michigan, led by Gary Glenn.

Apparently, Glenn passed on a legal opinion from the national AFA to Fyke that’s forming the basis for the ridiculous witch-hunt.

Parents have always had the opportunity to have their student opt out of any of these selections and read another title, but that has never been good enough for this group of vigilante censors. In addition to helping brand Livingston County with an image of small-minded intolerance that ban books, now they are going to make us the a joke to the rest of the state.

I’m currently in the middle of reading the “The Bluest Eye,” and it has been a great read. I keep waiting to read the alleged objectionable material, but the nearest I have come, so far, is almost 90 pages into the book when they talk about sex between a husband and wife. If that’s supposed to be erotic, stimulating, titillating or pornographic these people are very immature and have led very sheltered lives. It’s simply part of the story.