Thursday, February 25, 2010

Powerful Part 2

After watching the Countdown commentary on health care, I told Billy about the tears and the realization that the anniversary of Dad's death is only days away.  More tears.  While I blogged, Billy searched my website and found the exact day.  Neither of us could recount the right day right then.....
I thought that Billy's serendipitous discovery was worth sharing again.  It seems to be timely.

From September 1, 2006:


The other day I was searching online for confirmation that a particular quote attributed to Franklin Delano Roosevelt had indeed been uttered by him. As I was reading through some of his famous fireside chats, I found a particular passage that made me immediately think of Karl Rove and the Republican Party of today. The passage seemed to be part of the Rovian stratagem that can be adopted by any organization seeking contributions from their supporters. Scare them – then ask for the funds to battle the supporters of _____________. (Flag burning, gay teens and gay men serving or working with the Boy Scouts, dismantling Social Security, removing “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, the attacks on Christmas, cutting veteran benefits, “special” rights for gay folk, etc.) Those loathsome groups will continue ranting about whatever real or made-up controversy --as long as it enriches them and insures that their people will vote in the November elections.

In 2005, I read through many fear mongering letters that were sent to my father’s house. Dad received many many solicitations for contributions from bogus police and firefighter associations, veteran groups, senior citizen groups, religious groups, concerned this, and concerned that. In the latter months of 2005, I began to sort out those letters from the daily piles of mail that I retrieved from the mailbox. The lotteries in Australia and East Wherever were also vying for a piece of my father’s modest bank account.

The letters from the smear and fear groups bothered me the most. Dad was not a soft touch and he dutifully shredded each and every one. He usually kept the American Flags (Nothing grabs folks better than a patriotic appeal.), pens, window decals and stickers, and other so-called gifts. Dad would give away most of the “complimentary” crap but, once in awhile, the old Buick or the front and backdoors would demonstrate the fact that he supported our troops, the striking newspaper workers, or some human and/or civil rights organization. He surprised me sometimes with his social liberalism. But, not really.

You see we have an eclectic sort of family. My father was of Canadian/British descent. He married a stubborn and fiery woman of Prussian/Canadian/Welsh descent. They had five children (four boys and one girl). He welcomed his daughter’s husband into the family without reservation and equally the wives of his sons. Dad “adopted” the companion of his gay son and introduced him to friends and family as just another one of his boys. His grandchildren presented him with great-grandchildren of Anglo, African-American and Hispanic decent. He loved them all.

Anyway, as I was looking through the FDR materials and quotation websites, I read many inspiring, challenging, and encouraging words. I may refer to some of those gems in coming days and months. Indulge me, folks. I will always be a student, a teacher, and my father’s son.

From William Shakespeare –

My Father

His life was gentle; and the elements
So mixed in him, that Nature might stand up,
And say to all the world, THIS WAS A MAN!

Cortland C. Harris
March 26, 1924 – February 28, 2006


Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I just saw the iTunes podcast of Keith Olbermann's Countdown on MSNBC.  I cried.  It was difficult to watch and listen to Keith talk about his father.  Dad passed away 4 years ago.  Dad was well taken care of by the Veterans Administration and Medicare.  The supplemental insurance that Dad religiously maintained had only to pay for a very small part of his medical expenses.  Unfortunately, not everyone has access to the government health care programs that my father had and the money to buy a supplemental health care policy.  In America, to survive the American health care system, as it is now, you either have money and/or you have insurance.  If you have neither, you die..........  No one should have to die for the lack of "insurance" or money.

And a Note to the Politicos:  Saving American lives at home or abroad should be the right thing to do, not a partisan issue.


Missionary Position

What is it about me that makes talking to folks about living in Mexico so enjoyable?  Ahhhh, am I bragging?  Am I seeking approval?  Am I seeking permission to be ecstatically happy about our decision to move to Mexico nearly 3 years ago.  I just don't know.  Two weeks ago, we started a conversation with a nice opposite sex couple from Seattle, Washington.  We were shameless in our boasting about the village of Ajijic, the people, the food, the bus system, the sites to see while visiting, etc.  And, we told a story or two.  Poor folks.

I am not a missionary for Mexico by any means.  I will tell you though, that Mexico and the Mexican people have a bad reputation for no good reasons.  The folks around here are industrious, friendly, and genuine.  The kids are well-behaved in public.  Lots of folks speak English and the ones that don't are patient with our improving use of Spanish.  People are people.  We are fortunate to live in a friendly -- especially "gay friendly" -- town.

The key to survival here, as in every life situation and location, is to practice courtesy and patience.  If you are in a hurry, visit Canada.  If you want to relax come to Mexico.  No one...absolutely no one is in a hurry in Ajijic.  You will learn that the food you just ordered will be made in due time.  You will appreciate that everything is made to order and made in turn.  Relax, chat, and enjoy a bottomless glass of iced tea or your favorite beverage.  And, of course, be polite.  We are guests in this country and are appreciative of every day that we are privileged to live here.

Rent.  I recommend that if anyone is considering a move to Mexico that you plan on renting.  Everyone needs a little bit of time to discover exactly where they want to spend the next 6 months or 6 years.  Will you be happier living in an exclusive gated community with a clubhouse and pool or living somewhere in the village with few or no amenities?  The village can surprise you.  One never knows how dreary or cheerful a house may be behind our colonial walls.

Come visit.  The very fact that we have a diverse expat community should be enough for the hesitant to at least visit our parcel of Paradise.  Sure, why not come for the tequila and stay for the adventure of your lifetime?

I've written lots about our move to Mexico.  Please review some of it and/or visit this commercial website by a local real estate professional that has many helpful links about the Lake Chapala area.  This is not an endorsement of his business or person.

Michigan Republicans Must STFU

Michigan Republican lawmakers do not have the right to demand that current or retired public service employees give up salary or health care benefits to help save Michigan government.  The Republican obstructionists in Lansing have failed the citizens of Michigan.  They have failed to lead.

The Republican controlled Michigan Senate voted today to end the more than generous "health care benefits for life after 6 years of service" provision in their more than generous salary and benefits plan that they have given themselves.  The lifetime health care benefit is eliminated ONLY for those lawmakers elected in the future.  Both the Democratic "controlled" House and Senate failed to address the overly generous health care plans that they currently have and refused to consider making any personal sacrifices for the sake of the State of Michigan.

The Republicans in Michigan have claimed that all the cuts and so-called reforms in Michigan would bring in more businesses.............  They have been spouting this propaganda for over a decade and what have we seen as the result?  Where are those businesses and jobs?  Republican leaders have consistently bashed unionized labor over the years and have publicly stated that Michigan workers are overpaid.  And, even as Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike Cox calls for unionized state workers to take pay cuts in an act of "shared sacrifice", Michigan lawmakers, Republican and Democratic, fail to lead the effort to save, fix, reinvent, or improve the State of Michigan.

Put up or shut up, as the old saying goes.........The Dillon Democrats and Republican obstructionists should be ashamed of their hypocrisy and personal and political cowardice.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Move to Mexico

FEEDJIT is a fascinating little gadget that gives you an opportunity to keep track of who is visiting your website.  Gadgets from FEEDJIT allow you to see what is seen on this page (Live Traffic Feed) or a live traffic map or recommended reading or page popularity.  Recently, I have been noticing repeat visitors (folks following Fuhrwerk's folly) and I have been tracing how some visitors have found my site using searches with various search terms.  At least, if no one is commenting on my posts, I get some satisfaction watching the live traffic feed.  It is interesting to see how many pages of search results that I have to scan through before finding my blog referenced in some stranger's internet search.

"Move to Mexico" is one search phrase I've seen numerous times.  It seems that some folks are still interested in moving to Mexico to retire regardless of all the bad press given to the northern Mexican states where it may certainly be dangerous.  Here in the Lake Chapala region, things are relatively peaceful.  There is a large expat community here along the shores of Lake Chapala and in the big city of Guadalajara.  Snowbirds from Canada and the United States call the area home for 3 to 6 months a year.  Many retirees from the United States, Canada, and several countries in Europe enjoy one of the best climates in the world year-round.

My best advice to those Michigan teachers considering the retirement incentive being proposed by Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm -- take it and move to Mexico.  Do you have a mortgage?  Sell the house, rent it, or walk away.  Do you have Credit Card debt and the only income that you'll have when you retire is your pension?  Learn about your rights to a garnishee-free pension check -- Move Your Money, then move to Mexico.  Tired of being tied down to a car that wastes gas and costs too much in insurance, vehicle licensing, and maintenance?  Sell it and Move to Mexico.  You can live in a friendly village within walking distance of everything you actually need.  And, when living in the villages or in the "exclusive" gated communities near and along the Lake you are always close to great public transportation.

Really folks, Michigan is an expensive place to live.  Moving to a place with great weather and the possibility of many wonderful retirement adventures is worth considering.  The costs of rent, food, and other household expenses are low.  Imagine actually saving some of your hard earned retirement income for more travel.  Imagine buying into the Mexican health insurance program for less than $300 per year and having all of your medicines and medical needs taken care of at no additional costs to you.  (Pre-existing conditions are not covered in the first two years.....)

What?  You can't imagine any of it?  Okay.  Come visit for the tequila and stay for the __________!

CPAC 2010: This Year's Festival of Whites

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
CPAC 2010 - Rage Within the Machine
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Days Late and Too Many Dollars Short

Give it up, Andy.  Your attempt to explain your cold reception of the Governor's budget and tax revenue plans is pathetic.  It is a little too late to walk back your damning comments and actions.  Preparing a cuts-only budget as a "tool" to demonstrate the foolishness of cut after cut after cut is plain dumb.  It is just as dumb as making cut after cut after cut and calling it "reform".  Is this how you bargain with the Republicans in Lansing?  Do you always start at your bottom line and pray for other stupid folks to gift you more?

Instead of "Yes, Governor, let's get it done!", we have Speaker of the State House Andy Dillon saying, "Nope."  Come on, Andy!  Get your head out of your behind and get in the game.  Better still, just leave the field of play.  Someone in Lansing must still have a spine.  Or, maybe someone in Flint......

Photos of the Day

We have a beautiful sunny day here in central Mexico.  The coldest part of our winter is over.  And, the unusual rain storms we've experienced since mid-January seem to have moved on.  In the first photograph the crown of our jacaranda tree awaits the purple blooms that will soon crowd out the view of the rooftops below us on the mountainside and what little view of Lake Chapala that we are afforded.  The second photograph was taken with the zoom engaged.  Lake Chapala may be seen through the branches of our tree.

The third photograph is of a wasps' nest being built on the side of our mirador.  It had dozens of wasps crawling over it before I moved the fence and was stung on the hand and face.  Billy took revenge on the wasps with bug spray......

Monday, February 22, 2010

Conserving America

The League of Conservation Voters has published the 2009 National Environmental Scorecard grading our dear Senators and Representatives for the first session of the 111th Congress, as well as providing us with the grades each congresscritter received in past years.  Michigan's 10th Congressional District's own Candice Miller (R-MI) has a grade of 50% for the first session of the 111th Congress.  Mrs. Miller earned scores of 27% (110th Congress), 13% (109th Congress), and  6% (108th Congress) in her previous evaluations.  Hmmm, at least it would seem that after nearly 4 terms in Congress, Candice Miller has slowly been learning about how important it is to understand the key issues:

such as public lands, water quantity and quality, forest management, offshore drilling, wildlife conservation at home and abroad, chemical security and population.

Yes.  All children can learn.  Mrs. Miller is learning slowly, but learning nevertheless.


I think that Dan Kildee is worth a good long look.  While being away, I've missed reading about the amazing thing he did with founding the Genesee County Land Bank.  He has been proposing the shrinking of Flint.  I like what I'm reading and hearing from this possible Democratic candidate for Michigan Governor.

Bios here and here.


Hat tip:  Max Blumenthal, author of "Republican Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party.”

Music Video Monday


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dan Kildee for Governor

This WOOD TV8 interview is worth taking the time to learn about Dan Kildee.  He is exploring a run for the Democratic Party's gubernatorial nomination.  He sounds like he has a few good ideas and the experience with innovation that the State of Michigan needs.

Hat tip:  WizardKitten via Blogging for Michigan

What Do CPAC'rs Care About?


It is interesting to see what that group of attendees sees as important to them.  Hmmmm CPAC 2010.......

Hat tip:  Joe.My.God.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Meet The Future of the Republican Party

Meet The Future of the Republican Party --  Ryan Sorba from the Young Americans for Freedom


Miller Challenged

Wow.  Other than a surprisingly snarky jab at United States House of Representatives Member Candice Miller (R-10), the news today is that Ms. Miller has a Democratic challenger for her gerrymandered seat for life she has held for far too many years.  The Chairman of the 10th Congressional District Democratic Party, Henry Yanez of Sterling Heights will challenge Miller in November.

According to the Michigan Messenger:

In a press release by the Michigan Democratic Party Yanez said that Miller “has lost the trust of the average citizen. She has served the interests of powerful lobbyists and corporate special interests rather than her constituents. I would be honored to represent the citizens of the 10th Congressional District to put their interests first.”

Your Moment of Zen

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth

The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Get Out and Shout!

Children in Berlin, Germany may now go out and play LOUDLY.  The city's strict anti-noise pollution laws now exempt children being children.  Loud play, including noise from playgrounds and pre-schools, is now okay.  From the BBC:

Axel Strohbusch, from Berlin's Department of Noise Protection, said it was "the first time we have it written in law that we have to consider the rights of children to shout and make noise while they are growing up and this must be considered by all the neighbours".

Germany's organisation for child protection told AFP news agency it welcomed the move, saying: "We live in a city and children should be allowed to play and make noise."

Hat Tip:  Brendan Kiley from the Slog

News and Views for Today

What an interesting day!  We have so much news on so many issues that I hardly know where to start.  Please forgive the potpourri of posted pieces.

News from Michigan:

1.  It seems that two Republican (and perhaps Christianist?) candidates for Michigan Secretary of State are trying to "out conservative" the other.  Michigan House Representative Paul Scott (R-Grand Blanc) has promised to stop transgendered folks from being able to change their genders on Michigan drivers' licenses.  From the Michigan Messenger:

"""I will make it a priority to ensure transgender individuals will not be allowed to change the sex on their driver’s license in any circumstance. It’s a social values issue. If you are born a male, you should be known as a male. Same as with a female, she should be known as a female"


And, also battling for the conservative vote is state Senator Michelle McManus (R) who introduced a bill in the Senate to eliminate no-fault divorces in cases where there are children involved.  Ms. McManus would further involve the government in the lives of its citizens.  Is there a slippery slope here?  Will she next propose to regulate marriage as only between two fertile opposite sex couples?  Or, will she propose to completely eliminate divorce?  Doesn't she know what the Bible says about divorce?


2.  Governor Jennifer Granholm has proposed opening current State Health Care Plans to all local governments, school districts, and universities.  (Hat tip:  WizardKitten)

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today issued Executive Directive 2010-1 that clears the way for local units of government and other public entities such as school districts and universities to participate in state of Michigan health-care benefit plans offered to state employees.  The action is part of a series of government reforms proposed by the governor in January. "A state health-care benefit plan recently negotiated with a number of state employee groups reduces the state's cost of providing health-care coverage to every newly hired state employee by 21.3 percent," Granholm said.  "By offering other public employers and their employees the option of participating in this new state health-care benefit plan, we are in essence allowing them to reduce their costs, too, which will benefit all Michigan taxpayers."
The executive directive gives the director of the Department of Management and Budget (DMB) and the director of the Office of the State Employer (OSE) until June 30, 2010, to identify and remove any barriers to participation in the state's health-care benefit plans by local units of government and other public entities.      
Local units of government include cities, villages, townships and counties.  Other public entities include school districts and public colleges and universities.
All the state's health-care benefit plans would be open to participation, including the state's PPO plan, health maintenance organization plans, prescription drug coverage programs, dental-care plans and vision-care plans.

This is an idea that has merit and is a whole lot less controversial than forcing public sector employees to give up hard fought for benefits.

3.  What she said:  WizardKitten --  "Michigan Legislature Passes Burden of Raising Revenue Down to Local Communities"  AND "Dillon Working on a "Cuts Only" Budget"

Medical Marijuana:

Four years after the State of California approved the use of medical marijuana they commissioned studies to prove or disprove the claims that marijuana has medicinal uses.  Some results are in and ABC News has the story:

The first U.S. clinical trials in more than two decades on the medical benefits of marijuana confirm pot is effective in reducing muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis and pain caused by certain neurological injuries or illnesses, according to a report issued Wednesday. Igor Grant, a psychiatrist who directs the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego, said the five studies funded by the state involved volunteers who were randomly given real marijuana or placebos to determine if the herb provided relief not seen from traditional medicines.
"There is good evidence now that cannabinoids may be either an adjunct or a first-line treatment," Grant said at a news conference where he presented the findings.

So, aside from anecdotal evidence we continue to find scientific proof to support the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Heroes Among Us

Did anyone else catch this report from Rachel Maddow about the lying hypocrite Glenn Beck?  Watch.  Its great reporting.


Will You?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I Want One!

The cats would go crazy and I've always wanted a remote controlled flying machine...  (Hat tip: The Daily What via Star Wars Blog)

Hasbro’s remote-controlled flying Millennium Falcon.

Must See TV

Politico Wages

While reading about the Atlanta Community Schools' decision to implement a 4 day school week for students, I was reminded of the political decision made in Lansing a few years back that changed the school calendar.  No, not the controversial one mandating all Michigan school districts to schedule their first day of school to follow the Labor Day holiday.  Never mind that calendar conformity ends with the first day of school and makes little sense from district to district thereafter.  The Lansing State Journal editorial "Four-day School Week Draws Interest" comments about the school calendar:

Michigan's changing school calendar injects another complication: Actual class time.
The state used to require districts to offer a set number of days. A few years ago, the Legislature made the ill-advised decision to allow schools to calculate class time by hours, not days. This was supposed to enhance flexibility.
But a review of state documents by the Center for Michigan found that the hour system all too often led to less time in class.

Oh, yes.  Does anyone remember all those time-on-task slogan mouthing Republican politicos?

They Are At It Again



Today's Port Huron Times Herald editorial --  "Ideas Must Define Race for Governor" -- mimics much of what I've written in the last week or so.......

Money quotes:

As uncertain as Michigan's fortunes have become, there is one reason for hope: A new governor will be elected in November. Whoever the next governor is, the expectation is he or she will lead the Michigan out of its malaise.

Michigan's gubernatorial race ought to be a turning point. It should be full of candidates with ideas to forge the state's turnaround. It should be defined by a thorough public discussion about Michigan's challenges and how they must be overcome.

If there's one thing the governor's race doesn't need, it's a descent into cheap shots and dirty politics. Sadly, the beginning stages of the contest already have been marred by such practices.


and finally:

Michigan doesn't have time for this. The state's double-digit unemployment rate leads the nation. Its exodus of manufacturing jobs and high foreclosure rate demand fresh ideas and effective leadership.

This state desperately needs candidates who are willing to tackle the challenges it faces, instead of attacking each other. If ever there was a time to focus on the issues, this is it. 

Monday, February 15, 2010

Obama to Medical Marijuana Growers: DADT?

Despite President Obama's pronouncement that the Federal government will no longer pursue users and suppliers of medical marijuana as long as they comply with the state laws where medical marijuana use and its production are allowed, a medical marijuana growing operation was raided in Colorado.  Colorado citizens approved Amendment 20 in 2000 giving people the right to use marijuana for medical reasons.  The bust may prove to be very controversial.  The Denver Post has the story here.

It seems that the production of medical marijuana is still a Federal offense even if you are growing it under the laws of a state that allows it.  News reports partly credit the arrest of the grower as due to his bragging about his operation and its potential profit.  The fact that the growing operation was only a block away from an elementary school is also significant.

Currently, fourteen states allow some use of marijuana for medical purposes:

Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

Medical Marijuana was just approved by Michigan voters in 2008.  I'm not aware of any similar stories in Michigan.  We'll just have to wait and see how this all shakes out.

The Game

The gridlock in Washington is great theater.  Unfortunately, most Americans don't understand that what was once an honorable citizen's volunteer duty has become an ever untrustworthy, promise-breaking, Baby-kissing, smarmy profession of bad actors.  Jumping on stage like attendees at some mad midnight matinee are the political pundits and main stream media personalities.  And, tossing crap at the crowd from the balcony are the Christianists.  Me thinks, the theater is really a circus.

And, while the actors make certain that their antics are You Yube'd and their inactions ignored, the rest of a very real America continues to worry about paying their bills, holding the jobs they have, and providing their families with health care.  Too many worry that they are one paycheck away from disaster if someone gets sick or injured.  Too many are finding themselves in the line at food banks.  The cost of everything has gone up and no one's wages are keeping pace.  And, now they tell us the insurance companies that have been spending millions of dollars over the last year fighting with our Congress over heath care reform have  made huge profits this year? --- in the middle of the great recession?  Is it possible that it helped that insurance company's profits when your neighbor lost his health insurance?

It seems that as the media has joined this grand old production the only folks left to write a review of this play in D.C. are the bloggers and internet pundits.  Alas, we may never get past our partisan rhetoric...

For another view from the not-so cheap seats read John Amato's take on the gridlock in Washington, D.C. --- Elections

Money quote:

If Democrats in Congress behaved like the Republicans have after being trounced for the last four years, the media and the Village would be screaming bloody murder at them. The Washington Post led by David Broder would be lashing out every day: 'How dare they be such obstructionists," Broder would say, and all of his colleagues would follow suit.
And like clockwork, the Dems would be afraid of a backlash from voters and would once again pass legislation like Medicare Part D, the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and the bankruptcy bill, to name a few.
They must pass health care to get the ball rolling on their side. You want a commission? I got one. They should put together a Procedure Commission to investigate every nook and cranny that is available to them to pass legislation.

NOT Cutting Health Care Benefits for Michigan Lawmakers

Michigan Radio reports on the coming vote in the Michigan Senate to end Michigan's overly generous health care benefits for ONLY the future lawmakers in Lansing:

The measure to eliminate retirement benefits for lawmakers would only apply to future lawmakers, and not current or former lawmakers. Majority Leader Bishop says he knows that leaves current legislators wide open for criticism from the public.

"Sure. Sure it does," says Bishop, "We'll never do enough in terms of legislator health care, pay - unless legislators somehow work for free and have no benefits."

The measure has already been approved by the state House, and the Senate is expected to pass it as well.

Unfortunately, Michigan lawmakers are still considering a proposal to make all public employees pay 20% of their health care benefits.

Bad Hair Day


Rachel Maddow deserves better recognition for her in-depth reporting of the news on her MSNBC Rachel Maddow Show.  She is one of the few news show interviewers that doesn't allow her guests or any politician making news to lie.  She challenges their political talking-points.  She points out there errors.  Rachel Maddow is thorough and honest when she skewers the liars and hypocrites.

Yesterday, on the Sunday "news" and opinion program Meet the Press, Rachel took to task a young Republican freshman congressman from Illinois.  Representative Aaron Schock (R-IL) was confronted by Rachel for his hypocricy regarding the Stimulus Bill.  He voted against it and seems to take every opportunity to rail against it.  But, that didn't stop him from posing for pictures back home in his district when they celebrated the savings of jobs by a Stimulus Bill project grant.

Rachel Maddow also raked Mr. Schock over the coals for his erroneous statements made about the Christmas Day bomb attempt.  Poor poor Aaron Schock.

Videos and stories about Representative Aaron Schock's performance are here and here.

Saving Our State

In Michigan, Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm has proposed a statewide early retirement incentive for teachers.  Unlike the cash buyouts that individual school districts have offered eligible teachers over the years, the proposal changes how an individual teacher's pension is calculated.  This is significant as it is a permanent raise in the pension amount that lasts the life-time of the pensioner.  The buyouts offered by school districts, such as the $45,000 payout offered Port Huron teachers the year after I retired, only temporarily supplement retirement incomes and have no impact on the amount of one's pension.

The early retirement incentive proposal for educators is meant to help the State of Michigan save money.  In Utah, state Senator Chris Buttars has proposed filling the gap in Utah's funding of public schools by eliminating the 12th grade of school.  That's an interesting idea coming on the heals of the Federal government's cash incentives offered to the States for various school "reforms", including increasing the age of mandatory school attendance.  Utah, like the State of Michigan, already has programs in place for academically advanced students to graduate high school sooner and enter college.  It seems to me that state Senator Buttars's proposal is a bit extreme and runs counter to any efforts to maintain or create a world-class school system.

Any other ideas?

Music Video Monday


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Let's [blank] Michigan!

Their campaign messages seem to agree that it is all about Michigan.  From there, the candidates' begin to vary in focus and tone.  There are Democrats and Republicans that are looking toward the future of Michigan.  One candidate seems willing to fight alone for that future.  Another declares to everyone that we begin the future...  Whatever the heck that means.....  And, another would just have us move forward together without explaining how exactly, or how far and how fast we must go into that future.

We also have the candidates that are bound and determined to enumerate what's wrong so they can tell us we need to fix it.  Or, at least, pretend to care about fixing it without ever having to take any action, thus leading to more deadlock.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

About Candice Miller (R-MI)

Serving Michigan's 10th Congressional District

Official House of Representatives Website

Re-Election Website

Information from

On The Issues

Congressional Voting Record

Campaign Finances

From the archives of WMTN:

Sarah Palin and Mrs. Miller

What She Said!

Hey Hoekstra and Miller!

Candice Miller:  Political Opportunist

Miller Called Out for Hate Rally Participation  --  Times Herald Editorial

Republican Dirty Tricks

Republican Dirty Tricks:  Fighting the Economic Royalists with Truth and Humor

Republican Dirty Tricks:  Be Prepared to Protect Yourself and Fight Back

Republican Dirty Tricks

The sites listed may or may not be approved by this website's owner.  They are provided for information purposes only.

Somebody Call The Whambulance!

Another great posting from Wizardkitten and cross-posted at Blogging for Michigan:

"You have to pity the Republicans, such delicate flowers are they. One harsh word and they wilt immediately, busting out in tears as they run to file a frivolous lawsuit" check with their lawyers to see if there is any recourse to heal the wounds caused by the mean, mean things... that other Republicans are saying about them. So, while the MI GOP makes YouTube videos attacking Granholm and Bernero that your local pre-teen girl clique would be proud of, keep a kind thought for those broken-hearted and discouraged GOP candidates for governor. Life is so unfair!

Seattle Has All the Fun

Valentine's Bash with Dan Savage:

For 12 effing years, The Stranger's annual Valentine's Bash has provided Seattleites with a one-of-a-kind bullshit-holiday catharsis, as audience members present host Dan Savage with tokens of failed relationships along with the stories behind them—after which the tokens are destroyed onstage before your very eyes. Previous years have seen sledgehammered mix tapes, blowtorched engagement rings, massa-cred jade plants, and imaginatively befouled love letters. You'll scream, cry, drink, and laugh your ass off.

Hat tip:  Slog

We Are The World 25 For Haiti

We Are The World 25 For Haiti - Official Video

Innovations in Politics

There is always something new.  I still remember when I saw my first phone-tree machine.  The PHEA had purchased it to use for mass telephone call announcements to the membership of the union.  The machine was handy during those heady years when teacher strikes were still legal in Michigan.  It never dawned on me until now that the same technology is behind the annoying robocalls that many politicians, political parties, and special interest groups use today.  The invention of the political robocall may be the lowest point in the use of intrusive technology for political purposes.

Of course, we have the mailer and the other paper fliers that are used door-to-door and at campaign events.  Most of them that I've seen are innocuous and ordinary.  Once, a truly grotesque anti-Democratic candidate mailer came to the house with dark photos and graphics attempting to link the candidate to terrorists.  The mailer came from the state party.  It was so hideous that the chairman of the local Republican party resigned.

Now, in the age of musical greeting cards and recorded greetings for cards and picture frames, we have the "Talking Mailpiece".  Personally, I like it.  Thankfully, or maybe regretfully, my mailbox here in Ajijic rarely sees any mail........

Hat tip:  Daily Kos

Watch this:


I'm always fascinated by obscure bits of news, especially if it sounds to be just this side of a hoax or a money making scheme.  These were my thoughts when I began to spend a few hours reading and researching the claims made in an article about the American political news and opinion website -- POLITICO.  According to stories that I found on the Huffington Post, the Daily Kos, and there exists a site owned by a private citizen in Great Britain that has been ordered by the legal firm representing to cease and desist the use of his wholly owned domain name,; transfer his domain to POLITICO; and compose a letter to promise not to phuck with POLITICO again.....Really.  How would any sane person confuse Tory Politico with POLITICO? also related that another site, The College Politico, has received a similar letter demanding an end to

My first response was to go to the site and see what all the fuss was about.  Unfortunately, a hundred zillion other folks may have been trying to do the same and the site crashed or no site existed or the lawyers for POLITICO won and the site was taken down.......  So, I continued my research, which included checking out the definition of the word politico from

–noun, plural -cos.
a politician.

1620–30; < It or Sp

politico-a combining form representing political in compound words: politico-religious.

pl. po·lit·i·cos
A politician.

[From Italian or from Spanish político, both from Latin polīticus, political; see politic.]

Teachers like dictionaries.  I particularly like the dictionaries that tell you the dates and origins of words.  The dictionary reference to compound word use is also very interesting.  That compound word reference and the quote from the owner of ToryPolitico planted another suspicion in my mind.

"in the next couple of days I will be considering my option, this could involve launching a “Save Tory Politico” campaign and a fundraising operation to fund a defence."

Gee, could this be a scheme by a domain name reseller to promote a slew of politico-[your word].com or [your word] websites.  Is there money to be made here?  For a moment, or two (or three), I considered that the whole controversy may be contrived.  Then, my better angels got hold of me and I wondered what I or anyone else could do to support the Save Tory Politico or Save College Politico movements.


Blog, write letters, complain to POLITICO, and?  (.....maybe...)

Who will stop POLITICO?  Who is next on their list?  Look out Soho Politico -- a greedy American may be reaching for you from across the pond.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Did you see this Super Bowl commercial?  Please watch it, then watch one woman's response.  (Hat tip:


Is This Why The Republicans Tanked the Economy?

What She Said!

From WizardKitten:  House Democrats Already Rolling Over For Republicans on the Budget

And, DEMOCRAT Speaker Andy Dillon:

Even House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford Township, snubbed Granholm's call for a broader sales tax that includes services and entertainment tickets to generate an additional $554 million for schools -- an earmark Granholm hopes is a selling point.

"It's time, first and foremost, to do the hard work of reforming and streamlining state government," Dillon said. "Tax increases should be a last resort, not a first option.

Who's It?

As I was reading about Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) a quote struck me as quite appropriate and ironic at the same time.  Seemingly tired of being affiliated with the Party of No., Paul Ryan states:

"I think we as a party need to begin our transition from an effective opposition party, which we needed to be because health care and cap and trade were horrible ideas that would bankrupt our country, and move toward becoming the alternative party, the adult party, the party of real ideas that turn our economic and fiscal situation around."

That's kinda funny.  First, Representative Ryan said that health care and cap and trade are horrible ideas that would bankrupt our country.  It may be true that the cost of those "worthy ideas" may be extremely expensive, but the usual procedure is to make some cuts somewhere and/or levy taxes or fees to pay for the government expense.  Those concerns were addressed in the legislation.  But, you must also remember that George W. Bush already bankrupted the country with a tax cut for the rich that wasn't balanced with a reduction in expenditures.  President Bush then grew the Federal Government without paying for it.  The Iraq War and the prescription drug benefit that was added to Medicare were not funded -- they weren't put in the budget......At least it now seems that the adults in the room understand how ALL items in the Federal Budget have to be paid for with tax monies, fees, etc.

Second, it seems to me that a winning strategy employed by the Democratic Party in 2006 and 2008 was to paint themselves as the party with ideas and the party of fiscal responsibility.  As the presidential election neared and the country found itself floundering in a sea of debts and obligations many voters decided that a Republican had screwed it up and maybe a Democratic president could do something about it.  Candidate Obama enumerated many ideas, perhaps, too many.  And, even now, as the blame game continues about health care, jobs, and the budget, it seems only the Democratic members of Congress have actual ideas written down.  They don't have some lame road map or vague plan that just says we're going somewhere without any -- any -- specific ideas/programs/rules that add to the debate.  In fact, when pressed for what things they wanted in the health care bill, we find that it had already been included in the proposed legislation.  Read the bills before you attack them.

Even if Republicans don't want to admit the mistakes made in the last Administration is still seems rather hypocritical and/or ironic that most of the Republican rhetoric heard today are echoes of the Democratic grousing during the Bush presidency. You know, all except for the insane socialist labels and the Hitler/Nazi bullpucky.

Actually, both political parties and the fringers need to raise the level of discourse.  We need a return to civility.  We need a return to a real "back and forth" about the issues that are important to the American people, not the corporations.  When we were in our government classes back in high school the teachers always had round-table discussions and/or debates about things.  We learned how to listen to one another and we learned how to put together coherent and logical arguments.  As a "side" on some topic would be assigned by the luck of the draw, we often found ourselves arguing for something we didn't believe in -- it was a valuable learning experience.

Today, it seems as if the Republican Party simply refuses to even debate the issues.  They do not bring to the table their opposing viewpoints with documents, experts, or anything else to help bolster their arguments.  Imagine if you played "Republican Obstructionist" in Mr. Cy Smith's PHNHS Problems of Democracy class.  You would disrupt the lesson for everybody, cause the exercise to be worthless for yourself, and receive a failing grade.  All the other folks in class would think that you're nuts.  We're not in school.  And, the Republican shouldn't be standing next to the sandbox flinging sand while the rest of the elected try to build something.  Help or get out of the way.  Govern or go find a corner and pout.

In Michigan, the political climate is as combative as it is in Washington, D.C.  Governor Granholm's legacy will be that she presided over the sinking of the Ship of State while the Republicans rearranged the deck chairs and the Democrats happily joined in with the fun.  Both parties have brought the State of Michigan to the brink.  Both parties regard the act of compromise as losing power for themselves and their party.  No one wins.............everybody loses.  Even when Governor Granholm presents the Republicans with tax relief plans that they always supported in the past, they now reject them.

Stop asking when a bill is brought forward if voting one way or the other will hurt you in your reelection campaign.  The question should be, "Will this help the people in the State of Michigan".  Dear Legislator, you were elected to serve the people of your district and the rest of Michigan.  Please stop worrying about your political future while our prosperity, health, and welfare suffers.

This nonsense must end.

Race for Michigan 2010

UPDATE -- Hat tip:

The former Michigan State Treasurer, Bob Bowman, filed paperwork Thursday for a run for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Michigan.  Mr. Bowman has not officially declared his candidacy.  And, if he has a website, it is not readily found as of today.

It is not official yet, if Speaker of the House Andy Dillon will run and if Dan Kildee, former Genesee County Treasurer, will run for the Democratic nomination.  Denise Ilitch is out of the race.

So, officially declared on the Democratic side of the Race for Michigan 2010 are Alma Wheeler Smith and Virg Bernero.

The officially declared candidates for Governor on the Republican side of the Race for Michigan 2010 are Mike Bouchard, Mike Cox, Pete Hoekstra, Rick Snyder, and State Senator Tom George.  Mr. George's candidacy was unknown to me until today when I saw him listed in the Free Press online article.  A quick look at his website leads me to question whether or not Tom George is running away from or with the Republican Party.  I am not finding any mention of his party affiliation.

Your Moment of Zen

Thursday, February 11, 2010

From Fox News

What They Said

From the Grand Rapids Press Editorial Board via, "End Lifetime Health Care Benefit for Lawmakers":

Michigan’s lawmakers are pondering big reforms to public employee compensation, and rightly so. Salary and benefit costs represent the vast majority of spending at every level of government. Getting a handle on unruly budgets means getting a handle on those expenses.

But legislators won’t be credible voices in that cause until they trim their own lavish benefits. If Lansing’s policy setters aren’t first in line for sacrifice, other public employees will accuse them of hypocrisy.

And they’ll be right.


...the savings from denying lifetime health care to lawmakers would be small. In the 2007-2008 fiscal year, the Michigan Legislative Retirement System spent $4.72 million on health and dental care for 341 retired members, according to the House Fiscal Agency. Against a $1.7 billion budget deficit this year, that prospective payoff pales.

But that’s not the point. The measure isn’t aimed primarily at saving the state money. Ending this comfy benefit is simply the right thing to do.

Lawmakers should lead by example, recognize what Michigan workers have faced, and share the pain.

Once they’ve done that, state leaders can legitimately ask other public employees to sacrifice, too.

Move Your Money

In the news again this week is the "Move Your Money" protest movement that has captured the imagination of folks nationwide.  The good people over at the Huffington Post have a recent article -- an update on the call in New Mexico for the State government to move $5 billion of state funds from big banks to small community banks.  This is an important step in helping those banks that are too big to fail to get smaller.  It also puts more money out there for the local banks to lend to local businesses and regular Joes for mortgages and other needs.

When I first read about the Move Your Money project I checked the website to see if the community bank back home where my meager pension flows in and out was on the list of "safe" banks.  It is.  Nothing more to see here...... move along.

Except, in a surprise move, the City Council in Port Huron made a grand gesture to help save a local bank on Monday night.  This action followed a rather compelling editorial in the local paper calling for efforts to save Citizens First bank.  The motion to transfer $5 million of city funds from Chase Bank to the Citizens First bank was made by Councilman Brian Moeller and supported by all of the council members present.  I applaud Mr. Moeller for his act of leadership in support of a vital community institution.

Citizens First was once known as the Citizens Federal Savings and Loan.  It has gone through some name changes over the years but has never failed serving the community.  Its CF Community Foundation is helping with varying needs in the Blue Water area.  Way back in 1973, I was a recipient of a Citizens Federal Savings and Loan tuition scholarship to the Saint Clair County Community College.  CF's generosity helped me pay for the first year of my college career.  They helped me get started in life and I will always be grateful.

So -- Move Your Money if you are so inclined.  But also consider moving your money to help save a local bank.  It seems to be the right thing to do........  Our communities need our support.

UpdateTimes Herald editorial -- "Tactics aside, Moeller does right thing"