Jan 31, 2011

Palin and Bachmann need to read a history book

The brain power of two of the leading potential Republican presidential nominees, half-term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and bat shit crazy Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, is underwhelming.

Bachmann, who apparently speaks for the teabaggers, gave the teabagger response to the President’s State of the Union address last week. Why I have no idea. But in one of her more notable quotes on the Founding Fathers she claimed, “the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States….Men like John Quincy Adams, who would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the country.”

There are, of course, lots of problems with that harebrained statement. About a third of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were slaveholders, as were many delegates to the Constitutional Convention, so the fact is many founders worked tirelessly to make sure slavery continued. Not only that, but John Quincy Adams was not a Founding Father.

Perhaps she got him mixed up with his father, the second President John Adams, who was a Founding Father.

After playing the victim after the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, Palin appeared on the propaganda arm of the GOP, Faux News, last week where she didn’t have to answer any tough questions from real journalists. She gave her take on the SOU address, and she went on a ridiculous rant on the President’s use of the term “Sputnik moment” that embarrassed the U.S. that served as a wake up call that led to the U.S. putting the first man on the moon in 1969.

The name of the SOU speech was “Winning the Future,” and Palin referred it as “one of those WTF moments,” for what The Fuck. This woman wants to be president? It seems she wants to be Ann Coulter.

“That was another one of those WTF moments, when he so often repeated this Sputnik moment that he would aspire Americans to celebrate,” she said. “And he needs to remember that what happened back then with the former communist USSR and their victory in that race to space, yes, they won, but they also incurred so much debt at the time that it resulted in the inevitable collapse of the Soviet Union.”
Now we know why Palin couldn’t tell Katie Couric what she read. It appears not much, and it most definitely was not a history book or a dictionary. The word is inspire, not aspire.

No, the USSR did not win the space race. They managed to put the first satellite into orbit in 1957, but the U.S. took up the challenge and won the space race. In the process, President Kennedy inspired many young people to become engineers and scientists and made the U.S. the world leader in technology for years.

The fact is the Soviet Union fell in 1991, but it was because of a variety of economic and political issues. The biggest reasons were because of the nuclear arms race that almost bankrupted the U.S. in the process and the millions of dollars and manpower it poured into Afghanistan. I hope we don’t repeat the same mistake.

Jan 30, 2011

MDP Gun Ownership Caucus wants common sense gun control

The shooting earlier this month of Democratic U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona that killed six people and wounded 13 others illustrates clearly that common sense gun control is needed, but I heard a brief and interesting debate on Saturday from the chair of the Michigan Democratic Party’s Hunting, Fishing, and Gun Ownership Caucus, Jim Pedersen, that may shed some new light on the issue.

The Democratic Party has a big tent, and many Democrats are avid sportsmen who strongly support the Second Amendment. In fact, many Democrats have been endorsed by the NRA and given an "A rating,” such as former Vermont Governor and Democratic Presidential Candidate Howard Dean.

Pedersen’s point is that we lose voters with a knee jerk reaction to shootings like the one in Arizona, and I think he may be right. We should at least have the debate. He also thinks the sale of multiple, 30+ round magazines that the Arizona shooter used should not be banned because people already have them. I part company with him there, but some of his positions make sense.

We know a few basic facts, and it’s far too easy for mentally unstable people to get handguns. There are controls and restrictions on the 1st Amendment, so I can see no reason not to have some commons sense restrictions on something as deadly as a gun.

Every year in this country guns kill more 30,000 people, and 70,000 more people are shot and injured. Gun zealots to make the false claim that allowing more adults to carry concealed weapons significantly reduces crime in America, but that myth has been debunked by peer reviewed studies. The opportunity for a law-abiding gun owner to use a gun in a socially desirable manner--against a criminal during the commission of a crime--will occur, for the average gun owner, perhaps once or never in a lifetime. It is a rare event. Other regular citizens with guns, who are sometimes tired, angry, drunk, or afraid, and who are not trained in dispute resolution, have lots of opportunities for inappropriate gun uses.

Dean said guns and hunting are part of a way of life in Vermont, as they are here in Michigan and elsewhere.

“But I don't think any Vermonter or gun owners anywhere can argue against common sense changes to our background check system to make our communities safer and more secure,” Dean said in a press release.
Groups like Mayors Against Illegal Guns are proposing common sense changes. They have a two-part goal. First, we already have laws that make it illegal for guns to be sold to felons, drug abusers or the mentally ill. The problem is that states and federal agencies are not required to make sure these prohibited purchasers are included in the background check database.

Second, they say it’s time to stop the sales of guns without a background check at all. They say right now, anyone can go to a gun show and purchase as many guns as they want; no questions asked, no background check, nothing. It seems like common sense to fix these two loopholes and make America safer from illegal gun sales. It in no way infringes on the Second Amendment.

Hundreds of guns bought in Arizona through this loophole make their way to Mexico to help drug cartels destabilize the Mexican Government. This is not only a threat to the people of Mexico. When loopholes in our laws allow drug cartels in Mexico to stockpile guns, it is also a threat to the United States.

The Michigan Democratic Party is holding its Winter convention on Feb. 12 in Cobo Hall, and the Hunting, Fishing, and Gun Ownership Caucus is meeting at 8 a.m.

Senate Democrats go back to work to increase voter turnout

State Sen. Steven Bieda, D-Warren, is on a mission to ensure voting is easier and more convenient for Michigan residents.

On January 20 he introduced Senate Bill 49 that will allow no reason absentee voting. The Democratically-controlled House approved House Bill 4367 by a vote of 79-30 with 12 Republicans joining the entire Democratic caucus in approving the bill last session, but like the previous session, it died because the Republican-controlled Senate refused to take it up.

Under current Michigan law, there are only six reasons for A/B voting: age 60 years old or older, unable to vote without assistance at the polls, expecting to be out of town on election day, in jail awaiting arraignment or trial, unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons or are appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence. If SB 49 becomes law, Michigan will join 28 other states that allow no reason A/B voting.

On Jan. 26, Bieda introduced SB 76 that would require the Michigan Secretary of State to develop a website which would allow electronic voter registration. Voters would also be able to update their registration records online.

“The intent of this legislation is to make it easier for Michigan residents to register to vote,” Bieda said. “Why should a person who moves be required to submit a written change of address? Numerous states run a secure online registration program without problems.”

Both bills were referred to the Senate Committee on Local Government and Elections were they are awaiting action.

Bieda has a history of working on election reform and trying to increase voter turnout and make democracy easier. There sessions ago when he was in the House, he sponsored House Bill 5792 that would allow 16-year-olds to pre-register to vote when they get their first driver’s license. The bill was approved on May 8, 2008 with a bipartisan vote of 88-18, but it died because the Senate refused to take it up. A similiar bill, HB 4261, was also approved with an even larger bipartisan vote of 92-19 in May 2009, but the Senate also refused to take it up.

These bills had the support of the Republican Michigan Secretary of State, The Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks, The Michigan Association of County Clerks, the Michigan Municipal League and The League of Women Voters.

“I think we need to do whatever it takes to encourage voters to get to the polls and ensure their voice in government is heard,” Bieda said. “This is a no-brainer, and something that would ease the burden of registering to vote.”

Senate Republicans have a history of blocking voter reform, despite widespread support. That’s one reason they continue to keep a majority in the Senate.

It’s ironic that they block every attempt to make voting easier, yet they want to make it easier to get and carry a handgun.

Jan 27, 2011

The solution to the epidemic of gun violence is more guns?

Every time I hear of a shooting, whether intentional or accidental, I always joke that the response from some 2nd Amendment zealots will be that the solution to the epidemic of gun violence is more guns, and that is, apparently, one Republican Michigan Senator’s response to the tragic shooting in Arizona; more guns.

Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, introduced Senate Bills 58 and 59 on Tuesday that would repeal so-called gun-free public zones that currently include sports stadiums, schools, university dorms and classrooms, day care centers, churches, hospitals and casinos. The bills would also take away the issuance of concealed carry permits from the local gun board, consisting of the elected county sheriff and other local law enforcement officials, to the Michigan Secretary of State.

Great; let’s arm drunks in Ford Field, and instead of the law enforcement officials who know their community issuing CCW permits, where they have to have a good reason to deny the permit, over to a clerk at the local SOS office. . I find it ironic that Republicans block every single effort to make registering to vote or to vote easier and more convenient, but they have no problem making it easier to get something as deadly as a handgun.

This makes no sense, and incidents continue to pile up that reinforce that. There are far more gun accidents, like the recent accidental shooting in Gardena High School in California, that instances of a gun owner using a weapon in self-defense or defense of others. There are far more murders with guns than instances of a gun owner using a weapon in self-defense or defense of others.

Every year in this country guns kill more 30,000 people, and 70,000 more people are shot and injured. Zealots like John Lott and others continue to make the false claim that allowing more adults to carry concealed weapons significantly reduces crime in America, but that myth has been debunked by peer reviewed studies, like the one called “Comparing the Incidence of Self-Defense Gun Use and Criminal Gun Use" by the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, 2009,”

That study found that “The opportunity for a law-abiding gun owner to use a gun in a socially desirable manner--against a criminal during the commission of a crime--will occur, for the average gun owner, perhaps once or never in a lifetime. It is a rare event. Other Regular citizens with guns, who are sometimes tired, angry, drunk, or afraid, and who are not trained in dispute resolution, have lots of opportunities for inappropriate gun uses.”


Last session, current Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, sponsored Senate Bill 747 that would have allowed concealed guns in classrooms and dormitories on college campuses. Law enforcement and college and university officials came out strongly against it. The good news is common sense prevailed, and the bill never got out of committee and died

Let’s hope the same thing happens to Senate Bills 58 and 59, which are currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee awaiting action.

Jan 26, 2011

The President inspires with his second of eight SOU speeches

President Barack Obama laid out a clear path for continued recovery that will require sacrifice and inspired confidence in his second of eight State of the Union addresses Tuesday night.

“We are poised for progress,” he said to a standing ovation. “Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again.”

But he said that was not enough, and that the times are long gone that, especially here in Michigan, you just showed up at the auto plant and got a middle class jobs. The recovery will be tough for some people, and the recovery will take sacrifice, just like previous generations had to.

“Thanks to the tax cuts we passed, Americans’ paychecks are a little bigger today,” he said. “Every business can write off the full cost of new investments that they make this year. And these steps, taken by Democrats and Republicans, will grow the economy and add to the more than one million private sector jobs created last year.”

The President said future success will take education and innovation as we compete with the world, and that we must encourage American innovation.

“None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be or where the new jobs will come from,” he said. “Thirty years ago, we couldn’t know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution.”

The President said we must act with urgency, like the space race that put the first American on the moon, and we must do that by investing in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology that is tied to national security, protects the planet and creates countless new jobs.

“We’re not just handing out money,” he said. “We’re issuing a challenge. We’re telling America’s scientists and engineers that if they assemble teams of the best minds in their fields, and focus on the hardest problems in clean energy, we’ll fund the Apollo projects of our time.”

The President said to ensure our continued climb out of the recession, we have to reduce the national debt with things like the health care insurance reform that if repealed will add $230 billion in the first decade to the deficit. But the President stuck to his long-running theme of bipartisanship, and he said he is willing to work with Republicans to make the law better.

“Now, I have heard rumors that a few of you still have concerns about our new health care law,” he said. “So let me be the first to say that anything can be improved. If you have ideas about how to improve this law by making care better or more affordable, I am eager to work with you.”

Perhaps his biggest and boldest proposal was to freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years that would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and that move will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was President.

“This freeze will require painful cuts,” he said. “Already, we’ve frozen the salaries of hardworking federal employees for the next two years. I’ve proposed cuts to things I care deeply about, like community action programs. The Secretary of Defense has also agreed to cut tens of billions of dollars in spending that he and his generals believe our military can do without.”

Jan 25, 2011

Republican candidate forced to apologize for lying

Perhaps the ugliest primary election last August and the one with the most extremist right-wingers got a little more weird after former state Rep. Kim Meltzer, R-Clinton Township, was forced by a court settlement to admit and issue a public apology in writing that her campaign lied about the legislative record of one of her opponents in the race, former Rep. Leon Drolet, R-Macomb Township, during the tight 2010 campaign in the 11th Michigan Senate District.

According to the Macomb Daily, “Drolet announced Monday that he has dropped a defamation lawsuit against Meltzer, in exchange for a statement from Meltzer conceding that her campaign’s attempt to paint Drolet as a candidate pushing a radical homosexual agenda was phony.”

The lit hit piece in question claimed that while in the House “Drolet had introduced legislation to legalize gay sex in public places.” Although Meltzer issued the required statement, she put the blame on someone else, claiming she “was unaware of the content of the flier and did not approve it ahead of time.” The joint statement reads as follows:

“A piece of campaign literature distributed by the Meltzer for state Senate campaign contained statements about Leon Drolet’s legislative record that are not true and were unapproved by state Rep. Kim Meltzer. The campaign literature falsely stated that ‘Drolet co-sponsored a bill that would have allowed sexual acts between homosexuals in public places, public parks and public restrooms –- exposing our children to that filth.’

“In fact, Leon Drolet did not introduce or support legislation that would allow such acts or homosexual gross indecency in public places, as was inaccurately stated in the campaign literature. False statements contained in the campaign literature were not approved by state Rep. Kim Meltzer."
According to the newspaper, Drolet issued one parting shot, blaming the incident on “McCarthy-like tactics by Meltzer’s campaign manager, Glenn Clark,” the former Republican Chair of the 9th Congressional District.

Drolet was behind the corruption filled 2008 recall effort against former House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford, where two signature takers were indicted for fraud.

The three way-GOP primary for the 11th Senate District featured charges of carpetbagging, lying, inappropriate sexual behavior and a candidate playing an imposter.

Meltzer was accused of being a carpetbagger because she just rented an address in the safe Republican district just for the race. The eventual winner of the Senate seat, current Sen. Jack Brandenburg, R-Harrison Township, was accused of inappropriate sexual behavior by Jennifer Gratz, who led the crooked Proposal 2 campaign in 2006 that banned affirmative action programs that used fraud to get on the ballot.

Jan 24, 2011

Now is the time to improve health care insurance reform

Now that the U.S. House Republicans have placated their extreme base with a purely symbolic repeal of health care insurance reform, they are being urged to stop wasting time and really try to improve health care insurance.

Former Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who is also a medical doctor, said it was important to consider the bill the "law of the land" and move on from there. Now, I don’t agree with Frist on much, especially after the Terry Schiavo fiasco in 2005, but this is a great opportunity to improve the law.

Getting this historic, ground-breaking legislation through was a major and difficult task, but now that President Obama has accomplished something that U.S. Presidents since TR Roosevelt have tried to accomplish, now is the time to make a compromise bill even better. The Social Security Act was improved over the years to make it as popular and useful as it is now, and this should be no different.

One way would to make it better would be with a public option or better yet, a universal single-payer system like Medicare for all. Medicare is the most popular health insurance program in the U.S., based on patient surveys, and the program operates with less than 3 percent overhead compared to 15-30 percent by for profit providers, meaning that more money goes to actual patient care.

It would allow small business, which is the backbone of the U.S. economy, to compete with huge corporations, and it would allow U.S. corporations to compete with foreign corporations. Health care costs adds hundreds of dollars to the price of a U.S. auto, compared to Japanese, Korean or German made cars that do not have to factor that in because they have universal health care.

The good news is we are not going backward, and the U.S. Senate is not going to waste time and energy to take up something that does not have enough votes to pass and the President has made clear he will veto. However, that has not stopped Republicans from playing politics with it, which is what they do instead of actually governing.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-VA., has been taunting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to waste more time and bring up the bill for a vote.

Even more ridiculous were the comments of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who pledged the Senate would vote on a repeal health care insurance reform. Good luck.

McConnell said “he's "perplexed" Democrats wouldn't want to hold a vote on one of their signature legislative agenda items.” Is he that stupid? I can answer that one, as can anyone with a brain: because they already held a vote and won after enduring threats, violence and lots of hard work. Why would they vote on something they have already won, unless Senate Republicans offer something better, like a public option or Medicare for all?

To quote an alleged Republican leader, health care insurance reform is the "law of the land" and we need to move on from there

Jan 23, 2011

The first assault on the popular and effective workplace smoking is launched

With the start of the 96th Michigan Legislature two weeks ago, the assault on the popular and effective workplace smoking ban has already begun.

Like the last legislative session, Rep. Doug Geiss, D-Taylor, reintroduced a bill to weaken the popular smoking ban that went into effect on May 1. The bill he reintroduced would turn back the clock to ineffective smoking sections, and the bill would allow bars to have “legal smoking rooms.”

Geiss introduced House Bill 4127 on Thursday, and it was referred to the House Committee on Regulatory Reform where it is awaiting action.

This is the same bill he tried last session that died in committee, but two facts stand in the way of passage this time around: the first is that at the beginning of the year, the U.S. Navy Submarine force, with the most sophisticated air exchange and purification system in the world, announced that it will ban all smoking on its submarine fleet because there are unacceptable levels of secondhand smoke in the atmosphere of a submerged submarine, and last month the U.S. Surgeon General issued a report that said “just inhaling smoke from someone else's cigarette could be enough to cause a heart attack and even death.”

The fact that the smoking ban actually increased business in bars and restaurants, as evidenced by sales tax collections in restaurants and bars that were up 2.84 percent over last year, was just a bonus.

Geiss and bar owners tried to sneak this past the many supporters of the ban with a stealth campaign, but supporters caught wind of it and flooded the committee hearing room last November leading the committee chair not to take it up.

Despite the huge turnover in the Legislature because of term limits, there are 10 members of the Regulatory Reform Committee who were in the House when the bill making the smoking bill law was approved in December 2009. Of those 10, six voted for the ban, including the chair of the committee, Rep. Hugh Crawford, R-Novi.

Based on that, I don’t see this bill as having much of a chance, but based on past experience, vigilance is the word.

This probably will not be the only and last assault on the ban that took years of hard work to enact, and the pro-smoking lobby is hoping a new Republican Governor and Republican control of the Michigan House and Senate can win exceptions or kill the popular, bipartisan workplace smoking ban.

The Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA), notorious for using false and debunked information to try and make its case, is again pushing hard to undo the ban.

We need to fight back with the facts.

Jan 21, 2011

The repeal of health care insurance reform is just another dog and pony show

Now that the dog and pony show in the U.S. House is over and Republicans have placated their base and pretended they repealed health care insurance reform, I want to see the other half of their campaign mantra of repeal and replace.

On Wednesday every single Republican voted for the budget-busting repeal of the historic health care insurance reform; another pure show and tell move for the teabagger base that controls the GOP that will add $230 billion in the first decade and over a trillion dollars in the second decade to the federal budget deficit. It will also bar more than 32 million Americans from access to lifesaving health care, raise health insurance premiums, take away prescription drug benefits, allow insurance companies to go back to cutting off coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions and kick millions of young people under the age of 26 off their parents insurance plans.

There is, of course, no plan to replace the reform, but that is typical of Republicans. The good news is we will not go back to the old, broken health care system because the Senate will not take it up, and even if that occurred, the President will veto the budget busting bill that repeals it. So, it was just another political dog and pony show Republicans are famous for.

They can sure campaign well, but they simply cannot govern.

These cuts, of course, didn’t apply to the health insurance plans Republican members of Congress receive, and they had no problem repealing affordable health care for 32 million Americans while gladly accepting generous, federally subsidized government health care insurance.

I would like to call on my Congressman, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, to give up his government health care, as well as the lifetime health care benefits he receives for serving in the Michigan Senate. It's kind of a sad commentary that he has better health benefits for serving in the state Senate for less than eight years than someone who served 20 years in the military.

In fact, I call on all House Republicans and the 14 misguided Democrats who voted to kill health insurance for 32 million Americans to give up their government health care, too.

Jan 20, 2011

DRIC bridge is the highlight of a SOS filled with vague generalities

We waited a year for this?

New Michigan Gov. Rick “Chief Executive Outsourcer” Snyder has been very vague on how he plans to reinvent Michigan since he launched his campaign last year with an expensive Superbowl ad, and people were hoping they would finally hear some actual details when he gave his first State of the State address Wednesday night. Instead, we got very few details and a very general plan that included more corporate buzz words like “dashboards,” “road maps” and “gardening.”

The speech was so general that lawmakers from his own party were wondering and wanting more specifics. Still, it was nice to hear he appears to be a moderate Republican instead of the nasty extremists who hijacked the party, and there may be some common ground to keep the recovery moving in Michigan. There were some great things in the speech, and the most hearting was his support for entering into a public-private partnership with Canada to build the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) bridge. That move drew praise from both sides of the aisle.

“This is the right move for Michigan," said Republican Oakland County Executive Brooks Patterson. “If we all don't stand together behind the DRIC project now, we will all be standing in Buffalo in a few years watching them cut a ribbon on their new bridge to Canada."

The bridge will bring more than 10,000 new jobs to the state. The only cloud on the horizon is that every single Republicans voted to kill it last session, and a camera shot of the crowd when Snyder spoke about DRIC showed the right aside of the House chamber sitting on their hands while Democrats stood and cheered. That could mean a major campaign funding source for state Republicans could be lost in the form of Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun.

More disturbing was in lack of detail on how he plans to close the estimated $1 billon General Fund budget deficit. Senate Republicans are floating a plan to close it on the backs of state workers, but we have heard nothing from Snyder. Even more disturbing was his plan to kill the Michigan Business Tax (MBT) and replace it with a flat 6 percent corporate tax. That will increase the deficit to $3 billon.

Also unsettling for consumers was the proposal to gut Michigan’s item pricing law. Retailers would no longer have to place the price of the item on each individual item. That will require consumers to place their trust in the scanner at the retail outlet and cost consumers millions of dollars.

It will be an interesting year in Lansing.

Jan 19, 2011

First SOS will be another pep talk filled with platitude and no details

Like his campaign and his inaugural speech, new Michigan Gov. Rick “Chief Executive Outsourcer” Snyder’s first State of the State address tonight will be void of any details.

Like the AP said, “Michigan teachers, state workers, business groups and others eager to hear what new Gov. Rick Snyder plans to do are waiting for his first State of the State address” will get a pep talk filled with more buzz words and platitudes like “shared sacrifice” and he will “reinvent Michigan,” but no details, as usual, on how he will do that.

The press has let him get away with it since the last Superbowl when he launched his campaign, but I think their patients may be getting a little thin and want some actual details and answers on how he plans to reinvent Michigan. We already have an idea what "shared sacrifice" means to Snyder: state workers sacrifice but Snyder and his upper management sacrifice nothing.

The Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference took place last Friday, and according to the nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency, “a slowly improving economy in the state and nationally will lead to increased revenue, but the loss of ARRA funding and one time revenue sources combined with revenue lost due to tax policy is expected to lead to a General Fund budget deficit of $1.8 billion.”

The only plan we have ever heard from Snyder on how to balance the budget is that he plans to make it up on backs of state workers alone, and a pair of Republican Senators have crystalized that plan.

Sens. John Pappageorge, R-Troy, and Mark Jansen, R-Gaines Twp., told subscription only Gongwer that “they have a plan that solves the state's $1.8 billion Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 budget deficit without raising a dime of taxes.” Their grand plan includes “saving more than $700 million from employee benefit cuts and $1 billion from a 5-percent public employee pay cut.” Never mind that it takes a Constitutional amendment for some parts of the plan, or that it violates the collective bargaining rights.

Now, here is Snyder’s sacrifice. We already knew that Snyder appointed Michael Finney as president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation a few weeks ago. Finney will be paid $250,000 a year, and he will also receive deferred compensation equal to 18 percent of his salary in lieu of a retirement plan. The person who held the job under former Gov. Jennifer Granholm and was only paid $200,000 a year. After pressure from the media, Snyder finally released the salaries of his cabinet members, and of the 12 members of his cabinet he's appointed Snyder has given raises to five. The rest make what they were making under Granholm.

John Nixon, the new director for the Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) imported from Utah, will join Finney as the highest-paid officials in state government.

Just to make sure the middle class is not the only ones hurting and sacrificing, Republicans plan to go after the working poor too. The new Speaker of the House, Rep. James Bolger, R- Marshall, want to go after the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

The EITC is an effective anti-poverty tool in the form of a refundable tax credit given to working families. People apply for it when they fill out their state income tax forms. The tax credit, in its third year of existence, will pump over $1.50 back into the economy for every $1 that is sent to working families.

So much for shared sacrifices; enjoy the show tonight.

Jan 18, 2011

First order of business for House GOP is to shrink the middle class

It appears Michigan House Republicans are ignoring the wishes of new Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, and one of the first issues they plan to take up is the union busting so-called “Right to Work” law.

Rep. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy, introduced House Bill 4054 on the first real session day of the 96th Legislature on Jan. 13 that would establish so-called “Right to Work” zones. Snyder said something so divisive is not part of his agenda.

The concept of RTW zones would resemble tax-advantaged enterprise zones, and in these zones, employees could decide individually whether they wanted to join or financially support a union. The concept is not new, and last session, former Sen. Nancy Cassis, R-Novi, pushed similar bills.

Republicans claim the law would do away with the requirement that workers must be in a union to be employed at a union shop. However, federal law already protects workers who don't want to join a union to get or keep their jobs, and the law gives workers the right to opt out of a union. But they must still pay union dues. RTW would give them the option of not paying dues while still enjoying the benefits of being in a union.

Unions in RTW states are required by law to defend non-dues-paying members involved in a dispute or charged with a grievance at work, but even those employees do not have to contribute dues. Making Michigan a right to work for less state does not give workers more rights, but instead it weakens unions and their ability to bargain for improved benefits and working conditions, which is the real intent of RTW. The union, by law, must represent all workers equally.

A better name for RTW is right to work for less. Workers in RTW states make an average of $5,900 less in annual salary, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, the rate of workplace deaths is 41 percent higher in RTW states, according to the bureau, and 20 percent more workers in RTW states go without health insurance.

Passing RTW has long been a Republican goal, and in the last four years they have really made a serious push. However, they have failed to pass a state wide right to work for less law, and a threatened ballot initiative has also failed to materialize. The RTW zone seems to be a scaled down assault on the middle and working class that has been ongoing for more than 50 years.

Jan 14, 2011

The real death panels are in Arizona

The false, debunked talking point of so-called “death panels” invented by the right and popularized by former half-term Alaska Governor and failed GOP Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin to kill health insurance reform was a bad fairy tale, but it appears there are real death panels, at least in Arizona.

According to CBS News, second person denied transplant coverage by Arizona under a state budget cut has died this month after Republican Gov. Jan Brewer and the Republican-led Legislature reduced Medicaid coverage for transplants under cuts included to help close a shortfall in the state budget.

Republicans are right in saying that U.S. has one of the best health care systems in the world, but the problem is that only those who can afford it have access to it. That’s what the historic health care insurance reform passed last March was all about, access.

A lack of health care coverage has led to the death of millions of Americans, but this latest example has only led to two. But we can expect more deaths.
Dr. Rainer Gruessner, chair of the University of Arizona Surgery Department, said as many as 30 Arizona transplant patients will die because of this cut this year.
What’s even more disgusting is we are talking about $1.4 million of funding. If you divide $1.4 million by 30 that means each life is worth only $46,000 to Brewer and her death panels. It’s sad that in a budget in excess of $8 billon, they can’t find $1.4 million to save lives.

Those are the real death panels.

Jan 13, 2011

Palin plays the victim; no questions please

“Have you no sense of decency at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

That quote is from Joseph Welch, the lead counsel for the United States Army while it was under investigation by Joseph McCarthy's Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations for Communist activities delivered to McCarthy in June of 1954, but it could also apply to former half-term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin after she broke her silence on Wednesday over the shooting on Sunday of Democratic U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona that killed six people and wounded 13 others by a mentally disturbed college student with anti-government views.

To quote Palin, she didn't retreat, she reloaded and released a statement, of course, on her Facebook page, saying, “But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.”

She also refused, again, to take any responsibility for the possible harm her violent rhetoric and images could provoke in someone who is unbalanced. While she personally probingly didn’t have any effect on the shooter, the violent and hateful anti-government rhetoric from the right most likely did.

Giffords had been targeted by Palin’s PAC after Giffords voted for health insurance reform. Palin had circulated a "hit list" – scrubbed from her web site immediately after the shooting - of political targets, which included Giffords. A map had been circulated with target crosshairs placed over Giffords’ district and others.
Giffords herself had expressed concern over Palin’s actions after her office was vandalized after the health insurance vote last March.

In the seven and a half minutes video Palin released, instead of talking responsibility for her actions, Palin acted as if she was a victim. I would just once like see her submit to an actual interview with a real journalist.

Jan 12, 2011

Editorial board wants activist judges in FOIA witch-hunt case

The Republican controlled editorial board of the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus is falling over themselves to blame the non-conservative majority on the Michigan Supreme Court for something they had nothing to do with.

Late last month the Michigan Supreme Court denied an appeal to overturn an appeals court ruling that would have released thousands emails under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Anti-union activist Chet Zarko, who passed away last summer, filed the FOIA in 2007 with the help of teabagger and former Howell School Board member Wendy Day in a fishing expedition to embarrass the teacher’s union. He claimed the emails were sent on district computers during staff time, and they were used to lobby the public during contract negotiations. The district released some emails, but an injunction was issued stopping Zarko from receive any more of the 5,500 emails.

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in January of 2010 that the emails sent and received on Howell Public School computers between union members were not public record, and they concluded that under the FOIA statute the individual teacher’s personal emails were not rendered public records solely because they were captured in the email system’s digital memory. They also said this was unexamined ground in the law, and that this is an issue for the Legislature to address.

Apparently, the newspaper does not see the fact that teachers are not a public body or public officials, and that the Supreme Court has to have a reason to overturn a solid decision; let alone take it up.

The editorial board did not see it that way, and they want the Justices to be the activist judges they claim they don’t want.

“In one of the last acts of its short-lived Democratic majority, the Michigan Supreme Court did some potential damage to the public's right to know in a ruling about the privacy of what public employees do on public time with publicly provided communications systems The court ought to reconsider this decision before somebody tries to hide behind it to thwart the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.”
Here is another false claim by the paper, “In the Howell case, the e-mails were requested in a FOIA filed by a resident ... who was concerned about ongoing contract negotiations with the teachers union. The resident has since died, but others are keeping the case alive and will request reconsideration by the Supreme Court, which now has a new justice and a 4-3 Republican majority.”

No, Zarko was an Oakland County resident, and his concern was just to find dirt to embarrass the union. There is a reason the anti-union rightwing think tank Mackinac Center is bankrolling the attorney fees.
What the paper and the Michigan Press Association should be doing is asking lawmakers to address the situation, not ask judges to make new laws.

Jan 11, 2011

Local teabgger group sponsoring false attack on the U.S. Constitution

Something called the “912 Liberty Tea Party of Western Livingston County” is bringing us nine straight weeks of misinformation, courtesy of Christian historical revisionist and Republican activist David Barton.

The counterfeit 9-12 movement is a political scheme hatched by deranged hatemonger Glenn Beck launched on Faux “news” in March 2009 , and the local group is holding a screening of Barton’s video series attacking the constitutional principle of separation of church and state that has given Americans more religious freedom than any people in world history.

Baron runs an outfit called “WallBuilders” where he makes a lucrative living traveling the right wing's lecture circuit “where he offers up a cut-and-paste version of U.S. history liberally sprinkled with gross distortions and, in some cases, outright factual errors,” according to Rob Boston, assistant director of communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The local teabagger group ran an ad in the Fowlerville News & Views touting a weekly, nine week showing of Barton’s revisionist history, calling him a historian and inviting people to “Come learn what was taught in our classrooms until the 1940s.”

According to SourceWatch, Barton “has teamed up with conservative radio and talk show host Glenn Beck. On July 7, 2010 Barton taught the first lecture in Beck's online seminar series entitled, "Glenn Beck University." His lecture, entitled "The Black-Robed Regiment," revolved around the idea of teaching the "true" history of America's founding. Beck’s Web site refers to Barton as “Prof. David Barton,” but Barton holds no advanced degrees and does not teach at any legitimate institution. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Christian Education from Oral Roberts University. While Beck is not an actual historian, he has posed as one since the 1990s.

Barton also has a wretched history of supporting racism and prejudice. According to Boston, “Barton addressed the Rocky Mountain Bible Retreat of Pastor Pete Peters' Scriptures for America, a group that espouses the racist "Christian Identity" theology that insist that white Anglo-Saxons are the "true" chosen people of the Bible and charge that today's Jews are usurpers.”

People duped into watching Barton’s “American Heritage Series” can expect, according to Boston, “a compilation of quotes from historical figures discussing the importance of religion or morality to government wrenched from their historical context, and, of course, outright lies; like the one that James Madison is claiming that the future of the U.S. government is "staked upon...the Ten Commandments" that does not appear in the body of Madison's writings.” Or the biggest lie that Thomas Jefferson, who coined the metaphor "wall of separation between church and state,” went on to add that the "wall" was meant to be "one directional," protecting the church from the state but not the other way around. “

Boston also says Barton’s favorite tactic is to “cite obscure legal decisions from state and federal courts in the 19th century that failed to uphold separation of church and state. These magically become "proof" that the concept is mythical. Again, no context is given, and needless to say, the voluminous court decisions that reached the opposite conclusion are not mentioned.”

Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational organization based in Washington, D.C. founded in 1947 dedicated to preserving the constitutional principle of church-state separation as the only way to ensure religious freedom for all Americans.

The Center for Media and Democracy publishes SourceWatch, a specialized encyclopedia of the corporate front groups, PR teams, "experts," industry-friendly groups, and think tanks trying to influence public opinion on behalf of corporations or government agencies for citizens and journalists looking for documented information.

Jan 10, 2011

Ambassador Bridge company president jailed for contempt

Karma ruled the day in the courtroom of Wayne County Circuit Judge Prentis Edwards when Detroit International Bridge Company (DIBC) – that owns and operates the Ambassador Bridge - President Dan Stamper was led off to jail Monday in handcuffs for contempt of court.

The jailing, according to the Detroit Free Press, “came as Edwards issued a contempt ruling against the bridge company for failing to comply with his Feb. 1, 2010, order to rebuild the approaches to the Ambassador Bridge as the Michigan Department of Transportation requires as part of the $230-million Gateway project.”

The Gateway Project addresses the long term congestion mitigation issues and provide direct access improvements between the Ambassador Bridge, I-75 and I-96. The project will also reconstruct I-96 and I-75, accommodate traffic for a potential future second span of the Ambassador Bridge, and access to the Mexicantown International Welcome Center. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) was concerned that the bridge company was dragging their feet on the Gateway Project to endangering the project to kill the planned and needed Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) between Detroit and Windsor about a mile from the Ambassador Bridge.

Last February Judge Edwards ordered the bridge company to tear down the illegally constructed gas pumps and duty-free store built on property owned by the city of Detroit, and that the bridge company had to appoint an overseer to proceed with the removal of the structures, which include a duty free shop, refueling stations and toll booths. Edwards later slapped a show cause hearing against the Bridge Company when it failed to meet his deadline, but the hearing was postponed when the Bridge Company took its appeal to the Supreme Court. In May the state Supreme Court rejected the appeal.

The bridge company tried but failed to transfer the case to federal court instead of complying immediately with Edwards' order, leading to the contempt charge. The Free Press also reported Edwards fined the bridge company $7,500 and ordered the company to begin complying immediately with his order to rebuild the approaches as MDOT requires.

“After a brief conference in chambers with Judge Edwards, both sides indicated they expected the judge would free Stamper possibly as early as later today as soon as the bridge company shows some evidence of complying with his order to start rebuilding the plaza.”

Jan 9, 2011

Words have consequences

Words have meaning and consequences, and once again the anti-governments rhetoric from the right may have again claimed innocent victims.

The shooting on Sunday of Democratic U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona that killed six people and wounded 13 others by an apparently deranged college student may not have been committed by a right-winger, but the hateful anti-government rhetoric launched by tea baggers shortly after the President took office could certainly have violent effects. I don’t see it as much different than the Oklahoma City bombing.

Clarence W. Dupnik, the Pima County sheriff, hit the nail on the head at a news conference when he said it was time for the country to “do a little soul-searching.”

“It’s not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included,” Dupnik said in the New York Times. “That’s the sad thing about what’s going on in America: pretty soon we’re not going to be able to find reasonable, decent people willing to subject themselves to serve in public office.”

I got into a brief exchange with a rightwing on Facebook yesterday, and when I looked at her page, this was her tag line to describe herself: “Our country is in serious distress. There are dangerous people in charge, and every step they take, provides that much more control over the American people. We must stand up to this socialist agenda!”

Constant crap like that could certainly lead a deranged person to violence.

That anti-Obama and anti-government rhetoric took an uglier turn in March when the historic health care insurance reform bill was passed, including cutting the gas line at the home of a legislator’s family, making death threats and violent phone calls, and shouting malicious verbal insults. Several Democratic Congressmen were spit on and subjected to racist and homophobic insults as they prepared to vote on the bill.

In fact, Giffords herself suffered some of that violence when her office was vandalized after the vote. Giffords appeared on MSNBC to talk about being targeted by the PAC of half-term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin after Giffords voted for health insurance reform. Palin had circulated a "hit list" - just removed - of political targets, which included Giffords. A map had been circulated with crosshairs placed over Giffords’ district and others.

Palin should have been called out for using inflammatory phrases like “Lock and load” and "Don’t retreat, reload.”

Giffords’ opponent in the general election was a tea bagger, and he used some of the same symbolism and hateful rhetoric Palin used. In June 2010 her opponent organized an event where supporters could shoot assault rifles with the candidate. A promotional advertisement for the event said, "Get on Target for Victory in November Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly."

Right-wingers are already spinning the shooting, claiming just because the alleged shooter was not a tea bagger they bear no responsibility for their hateful anti-government rhetoric that has created an atmosphere of threats of violence and actual violence.

Over at wrong Michigan they are trying to make the claim that the same kind of rhetoric hateful comes from the left. Simply not true. They are trying to make the claim that Dupnik’s comments are hate speech. Again, not true. Only in their word is calling them out on their MO is it hate speech.

It’s hard for them to find examples to prove that lie, so they dug up a comment on Daily KOS where a campaign volunteer for the Blue Dog Democrat said he will not only no longer campaign for Giffords but will not vote for her because she voted against Nancy Pelosi for House Minority Leader, saying “And is now dead to me.”

Please explain to me how this constitutes a death threat or hate speech. We keep hearing about angry liberals, but I have never heard of a liberal blowing up a building, murdering a doctor or shooting a Congresswoman.

What may be even funnier are right-wingers falling back on the old standby lie of the “liberal media.” That favorite false political strategy will never die, and they can always fall back on it.

Is this a Second Amendment solution teabggers like to talk about?

Jan 7, 2011

House Republicans plan performance art on the House floor

The piece of performance art that will be launched next week on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives by House Republicans in a vain attempt to repeal the historic health care insurance reform bill passed last March will add, if successful, $230 billion in the first decade and roughly one-half of one percent of GDP, or over a trillion dollars, in the second decade, to the budget deficit, according to a report by the independent and bipartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

Of course, Republicans immediately tried to discredit the CBO that they routinely use when they get results they want, and new Speaker of the House John “The crying man” Boehner dismissed the report and released a report of his own. The Boner accused the Democrats of somehow rigging the report. Perhaps he missed the part about the CBO being independent and non-partisan. Instead, the Republicans made up their own facts in a report that got the results they wanted.

Who would you believe; an independent, nonpartisan fiscal agency or the Boner.
This lame attempt to overturn a popular and historic law is another waste of time. If it gets enough votes in the House, which it should, it will never get out of the Senate, and on Thursday, the President made it clear he will veto the bill if by some miracle it gets out of the Senate.

In a statement of administration policy released by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the administration said that repeal would "would explode the deficit, raise costs for the American people and businesses, deny an estimated 32 million people health insurance, and take us back to the days when insurers could deny, limit or drop coverage for any American."

"If the President were presented with H.R. 2, he would veto it," the statement said, emphasizing this with an underline.

But political theatre is nothing new to Republicans; like Thursday when they killed an hour and a half to read the U.S. Constitution line by line, at least the parts they liked, on the floor of the House on opening day of the 112th Congress.

Republicans have a history of performing and pandering for the teabaggers, and this was no different. The farce even had a birther disrupt the proceedings.

Perhaps they are not aware that all laws must pass constitutional muster before the third equal branch of government, the judiciary. Apparently, some Republicans skipped the reading, and they did not hear the part where only members of Congress can vote and make motions on the House floor.

Rep. Pete Sessions, R- Texas, made a motion to open the first act of the GOP’s performance of repealing health care insurance reform, an action that can only be taken by an official member of Congress. Sessions, however, missed Wednesday’s swearing-in ceremony while he and fellow Republican Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Penn, attended a fundraiser.

Jan 6, 2011

What ‘shared sacrifice’ will Snyder make

We have heard very little details from new Gov. Rick “Chief Executive Outsourcer” Snyder, and that’s what we got from him in his inaugural speech where he said, “ It will require shared sacrifice from all of us.”

We’re still waiting for both details on how he plans to balance the state budget and "reinvent" Michigan, as well as what sacrifice he plans to share. The only details we have heard is that state employees, again, are going to have to make a sacrifice and it appears the budget will be balanced on their backs.
The fact is state employees earn less than their private-sector counterparts with comparable educational attainment, and state government is smaller now than it was in 1973.

My friend Judy over at Living Blue pointed out a Detroit Free Press article that Snyder appointed Michael Finney as president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Finney will be paid $250,000 a year, and he will also will receive deferred compensation equal to 18 percent of his salary in lieu of a retirement plan. The person who held the job under former Gov. Jennifer Granholm and was only paid $200,000 a year.

So much for sacrifice.

Like all Republicans the only one Snyder wants to see make a sacrifice are the working and the middle class. The richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of income, up from almost 9 percent in 1976. That means the United States now arguably has a more unequal distribution of wealth than traditional banana republics like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guyana. In 1965 the average CEO was earning 24 times what the average worker was making. But by 2001 the C.E.O.’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 531 times as much as the average worker.

We already know Snyder is the first Michigan governor to refuse to live in the Governor’s residence since the Lansing residence was donated to the state in 1969, and the Chicago Tribune, of all people, is reporting why. His stated reason is he has a daughter in a private high school in the Ann Arbor area and does not want her to move, but the Tribune pointed out that by refusing to move he gets the side benefit of keeping the indoor pool, wine cellar and movie theater that are part of his 10,600-square-foot home.

So much for sacrifice.

The Governor’s residence is no slum. It was renovated and expanded in 2003 and 2004 with $2.5 million in private funds. The 8,700-square-foot residence has five bedrooms, a private family room that includes a kitchenette, a fully commercial kitchen and an exercise room with two treadmills, a weight machine and a weight bench.

As for sacrifice, the Tribune is reporting that “during the early part of the renovation, Granholm lived in a small room above the garage. When her family of five moved in, they ate meals in the garage for months until the construction was done. Granholm recently moved into a rented condominium in the Lansing suburbs so her 13-year-old son, Jack, can finish 8th grade at his East Lansing middle school. “

There’s some sacrifice.

Snyder also promised to establish a blind trust for his personal assets during the campaign to avoid a conflict of interest, but he has not done that. So much for sacrifice.

“This is an important matter of personal integrity and ethics, especially for someone like Snyder who has promised to change ‘business as usual’ in Lansing,” said Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer. “As a multi-millionaire, Snyder could make decisions as governor which benefit him financially.”

UPDATE: The Outsourcer did put his investments into a blind trust. According to the Detroit Free Press,”The Republican signed the paperwork amending his trust two days before he was sworn in as governor Jan. 1.” His spokesperson said she doesn't know how much money the he has in the trust, and a trustee will make all investment decisions now.

Lobbyist press release passed off as news spins the effect of the smoking ban

It’s expected that trade groups and lobbyists will spin the facts, but we don’t expect the conservative mainstream media to do it.

We saw an example of that in the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus on Wednesday when they did a story on the effect of the recently enacted popular workplace smoking ban on bars and restaurants. The story looked like little more than a press release from the Michigan Restaurant Association (MRA) – a staunch opponent of the ban - with some quotes thrown in from local bar and restaurant owners to localize a press release.

The story, called, “Bar, lottery sales down after May 1,” is, apparently, based on a report from the Michigan Department of Treasury released last month called “Early Impact of Michigan’s Smoking Ban.” However, it spins the facts to make it look like the ban has hurt business when the fact is it has increased it.

The analysis of tax receipts found that overall sales tax collections – and hence sales - in restaurants and bars were up 2.84 percent over last year when the ban went into effect on May 1 to September. But the MRA/LCP spun it as liquor sales fell 3.1 percent, and that was just from on premises liquor sales.

True, but the fact is more people spent money in bars and restaurants after the ban went into effect, Now, that may be important, but the most important thing is that the U.S. Surgeon General also issued a report last month that found that as little as one cigarette a day, or even just inhaling smoke from someone else's cigarette, could be enough to cause a heart attack and even death.

The fact is sales in neighborhood taverns that only sell booze fell by just 1.57 percent, a far cry from the false claims of a 60 percent drop and bars closing. Club lottery sales fell 13.7 percent after the ban. That can be attributed to the slow recovery from the Bush recession here in Michigan, as well as at least two – that I know of – highly publicized boycotts of Michigan Lottery games. The amount of free earned media that they received about the boycotts was ridiculous.

Another false claim by the pro-smoking lobby is that bars are going out of business because of the ban, and as proof they claim the number of liquor licenses that wound up in escrow — an indicator of when establishments shutter or stop serving booze – have increased since the ban. Perhaps a good indicate, but the fact is the exact opposite is true. Treasury officials report the number of liquor licenses that wound up in escrow decreased after the ban went into effect. The number fell over the same period last year, down to 240 from 278.

Here is the real bottom line driving the spin by trade associations, according to the report, the sale of cigarettes fell 5.4 percent after the ban, and that is the only product the 22 percent who still smoke in Michigan are using less of after the ban.

Jan 3, 2011

Vain attempt to kill health insurance reform is politics as usual

After the November election, it seemed like the Republicans would actually help in governing the country instead of the same old stuff of doing nothing but obstruction and throwing stones, but the first vote in the new U.S. House shows its politics as usual.

House Republicans plan to hold a vote next week when they take control of the House to kick students up to age 26 off their parent’s health care insurance, allow insurance companies to discriminate, again, against those with pre-existing conditions, kick 32 million Americans off health care and add $100 billion to the federal budget deficit. Republicans plan hold a vote next week on repealing the historic health care insurance reform bill passed last March.

The good news is it will not get passed the Senate, and if by a miracle it did, the President will veto it. This is just one more example of Republicans playing politics while the adults address the problems facing the country and clean up the mess left by Republicans.

It’s sad that Republicans want to go back to the days of families facing bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs, the no. 1 cause of bankruptcy, and hospitals facing insolvency again because of the cost of uncompensated care costing more than $29 million annually.

Just one more example of Republican playing politics as usual and playing to the fringe that controls the GOP.

Jan 1, 2011

Annual list of banished words ‘repudiates’ former half-term Alaska Governor

Happy New Year, and with the New Year comes the annual “List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness” by Lake Superior State University.

The Upper Peninsula public university, one of 15 public universities in Michigan, released the 36th annual list, and it was not kind to the half-term former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. It included a few of her favorite mangled and misused words, like “refudiate" and “mama grizzlies.”

LSSU's popular list began on Jan. 1, 1976, when former LSSU Public Relations Director Bill Rabe and a group of friends each contributed a few expressions that they disliked to form the first list. After that, the nominations stacked up for future lists and Rabe's group, known then as The Unicorn Hunters, didn't have to make up its own list again. LSSU receives well over 1,000 nominations annually through its website.

Here is the 2011 list:
"Adding this word to the English language simply because a part-time politician lacks a spell checker on her cell phone is an action that needs to be repudiated." Dale Humphreys, Muskegon, Mich.
Kuahmel Allah of Los Angeles, Calif. wants to banish what he called 'Sarah Palin-isms': "Let's 'refudiate' them on the double!"

"Unless you are referring to a scientific study of Ursus arctos horribilis , this analogy of right-wing female politicians should rest in peace." Mark Carlson, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

"A stupid phrase when directed at men. Even more stupid when directed at a woman, as in 'Alexis, you need to man up and join that Pilates class!'" Sherry Edwards, Clarkston, Mich.

"Often used to describe the spreading of items on the Internet i.e. 'The video went viral.' It is overused. I have no objection to this word's use as a way to differentiate a (viral) illness from bacterial." Jim Cance, Plainwell, Mich.

More than one nominator says the use of 'epic' has become an epic annoyance.
"Cecil B. DeMille movies are epic. Internet fallouts and opinions delivered in caps-lock are not. 'Epic fail,' 'epic win', 'epic (noun)' -- it doesn't matter; it needs to be banished until people recognize that echoing trite, hyperbolic Internet phrases in an effort to look witty or intelligent actually achieves the opposite." Kim U., Des Moines, Iowa.

One nominator says, "what originally may have been a term for a stockbroker's default is now abused by today's youth as virtually any kind of 'failure.' Whether it is someone tripping, a car accident, a costumed character scaring the living daylights out a kid, or just a poor choice in fashion, these people drive me crazy thinking that anything that is a mistake is a 'fail.' They fail proper language!"

"This buzzword is served up with a heaping of cliché factor and a side order of irritation. But the lemmings from cable-TV cooking, whatever design and fashion shows keep dishing it out. I miss the old days when 'factor' was only on the math-and-science menu." Dan Muldoon, Omaha, Neb.

"All this means is a point at which you understand something or something becomes clearer. Why can't you just say that?" Audrey Mayo, Killeen, Tex.

"This should be on the list of words that don't need to exist because a perfectly good word has been used for years. In this case, the word is 'history,' or, for those who must be weaned, 'story.'" Jeff Williams, Sherwood, Ariz.

"These chicks call each other BFF (Best Friends Forever) and it lasts about 10 minutes. Now there's BFFA (Best Friends For Awhile), which makes more sense." Kate Rabe Forgach, Ft. Collins, Colo.

"These politicians in Congress say 'the American People' as part of what seems like every statement they make! I see that others have noticed it, too, as various websites abound, including an entry on Wikipedia." Paul M. Girouard, St. Louis, Mo.

"'A phrase used to diffuse any ill feelings caused by a preceded remark,' according to the Urban Dictionary. Do we really need a qualifier at the end of every sentence? People feel uncomfortable with a comment that was made and then 'just sayin'' comes rolling off the tongue? It really doesn't change what was said, I'm just sayin'." Becky of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

"Facebook is a great, addicting website. Google is a great search engine. However, their use as verbs causes some deep problems. As bad as they are, the trend can only get worse, i.e. 'I'm going to Twitter a few people, then Yahoo the movie listings and maybe Amazon a book or two." Jordan of Waterloo, Ont.

"It's an absurdity followed by a redundancy. First, things are full or they're not; there is no fullest. Second, 'live life' is redundant. Finally, the expression is nauseatingly overused. What's wrong with enjoying life fully or completely? The phrase makes me gag. I'm surprised it hasn't appeared on the list before." Sylvia Hall, Williamsport, Penn.