Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Defining Michigan's Failure in One Sentence: Volume 5

From Mlive:

The Michigan Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled the cash-strapped Detroit Public Schools district will not have to reimburse taxpayers for $259 million it collected over the course of three years without voter approval.

Health Care Reform Great for Government

At the federal level there were more than 100 new commissions, departments, councils, organizations, or other bureaucracies created by the recently passed health care reform. All of these departments will need to be staffed and housed.

In addition to these bureaucracies it has also been revealed that the IRS will have to hire an additional 16,000 agents to make certain that citizens conform to the new health care regulations.

Now it is Michigan's turn to step forward. Governor Jennifer Granholm today signed an executive order creating two additional state bureaucracies to help administer the reforms on the state's end; the Health Insurance Reform Coordinating Council and the Office of Health Insurance Consumer Assistance.

The new Health Insurance Reform Coordinating Council that Granholm's executive order created will be headed by state community health director Janet Olszewski and include seven members from other state agencies. The council's discussions will involve representatives from outside groups that play a role in health care.

The order also creates an Office of Health Insurance Consumer Assistance within the state agency that oversees insurance companies and state banks. The Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation also will be in charge of setting up an insurance exchange to allow individuals and small businesses to buy health care coverage.
The HIRCC appears to be little more than an assembled council that will get together every so often to discuss operational issues and in the process accomplish very little. It will probably cost very little as the people involved already have their noses in the state trough. However, while these noses are at the council meeting they will not be snuffling about the offices for which they were originally hired and will distracted from their primary duties.

The OFIR does appear to be an office that will need an expansion of resources whether that comes from money borrowed from the Chinese to be paid back by taxpayers, or whether it is financed by Michigan taxpayers directly. This will be an office heavy on administration and will not run efficiently and will not be cheap.

Perhaps all these expenses have been figured into the bottom line of the reform bill that is supposed to save us billions of dollars over the next 20 years, even if those savings can only be reaped by raising taxes on every thing that walks, crawls, or breathes oxygen. Perhaps not. In any event, it is an expansion of government at exactly the worst time possible.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Defining Michigan's Failure in One Sentence: Volume 4

[...] the Detroit Public Schools district is suing a group of former employees and the companies to which they paid more than $57 million over four years for allegedly doing little or no work.
Rochelle Riley in the Freep.

Men Who Deserve Better

Fred Phelps, that upstanding leader of the Westboro Baptist Church and perpetual Democratic candidate for public office, has been awarded $16,510 in court cost reimbursements after defending himself from a lawsuit brought against his church by the grieving father of a fallen soldier after Phelps and company picketed his son's funeral.

A man should be able to bury his son without the disrespectful clatter of Fred Phelps in the background and certainly should not be burdened with the legal costs of Phelps.

A fund has been set up to help with the costs.

h/t Ace and Jawa Report

Earmark Bart

It was absurd, after all, for people to have accused Bart Stupak of selling out an entire pro-life political career for a tow truck and a fence. Bart would never sell out for such frivolity. Bart knows Bart, and he says NO WAY!

But, just one short day after changing course on that long held moral campaign against abortion, Stupak submitted earmark requests that topped a half billion dollars.

Stupak requested more than $578 million in earmarks, including $125 million for a replacement lock on the Sault Ste. Marie, $25.6 million to build a federal courthouse in Marquette, Mich., $15 million to repaint the Mackinac Bridge and $800,000 to preserve the Quincy Mining Company smelter near Hancock in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
He was joined by the other ten members of the AAAC (Almost Anti-Abortion Coalition) in requesting a total of $3.4 billion in earmarks.

Who can say whether these earmarks really represent the sell out, or whether the addled lawyer believed he had already gotten a great deal in trade for his reputation--long waiting lines at the doctor's office, larger deficits, and higher health care costs.

Principles, particularly the firm kind, cannot be purchased on the cheap. Regardless, he sold out one way or the other.

Monday, March 29, 2010

There Must Be Anger at the RNC

It goes with the territory. If you're going to plead for money through phone and mail solicitations and otherwise badger the crap out of people who work too hard for their money only to be rewarded right about dinner time by a Republican looking for a painful donation, don't get too analytical when you're caught wasting that donated change on a few leather leavened welts.

I want to see anger at the top. I want to see an egg fry on Michael Steele's forehead.

I don't want to see or hear anything else out of the top brass at the Republican National Committee over the next few days since it was just reported that the committee reimbursed nearly $2000 for entertainment at a bondage themed strip club in California last month. Mom didn't donate part of her Social Security so some pervert could drink $89 cocktails while getting his rocks polished by Misty or Cherri.

Michael Steele had the proper reaction by blowing a gasket when he learned of the expense. He did the right thing by demanding that whoever made the charges would repay the committee and then be summarily shot at dawn.

However, it was alluded to earlier today by someone from the RNC that the DNC has been guilty of similar events in the past and didn't receive nearly as much scrutiny. I cannot attest to the truth or falsity of that claim, but I don't give a rat's ass about any of that and I doubt that Mom cares much either.

The RNC is supposed to act according to standards that are higher than those held by the DNC. Otherwise what's the point of all those $1000 suits at the convention and all those perfect manicures?

If the RNC wants to get to the bottom of this and fire a few people I will hesitantly bite my tongue, but if it chooses to engage in silly relativism they can expect to get hung up on whenever they phone my residence looking for whatever I can spare.

I don't expect Republicans to be just the same as Democrats, and if they do, I don't want that to be the justification.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tomato, Tomato

Jennifer Granholm is perhaps years away from that point in time when school districts in her adopted state will be able to afford new Michigan history books lauding her Gubernatorial legacy. She has, after all, presided over a state mired in a recession through nearly all of her years on the Michigan throne and consequently the districts are broke.

Certainly this cannot be her legacy. She knows a lot better.

It would not be fair to blame all of Michigan's many problems on Granholm though some have tried to do so.

She is certainly not to blamed for Michigan's long history of adversarial relations between big labor and big business. She is not the person who sat in the business boardrooms negotiating suicidal labor pacts with unionized industry. She is also not to be blamed for all of the crazy regulations that have been placed on our major industry by denizens of the DC swamp. She did not put into place all of the burdensome regulations and taxes that have made Michigan a difficult place for businesses to relocate to, expand in, or in which to be born.

Yet, during her many years in office she has in philosophy and in practice encouraged a continuation of all the economical negatives that predated her reign. She has consistently come down on the side of expanding regulations and greater taxation that has served to cripple business and job growth.

If Michigan's economy were an orchestra she would be the conductor coaxing ever more discordant screeching from the string section. Granholm is a believer in big government's ability to mold an economy into one that is at once robust and socially conscious. After seven bumbling years in her quest to achieve these goals she is left to ponder how her legacy will be perceived in the future.

"I know that I won't be able to cut the ribbon on the new economy that we are building the foundation for. But I hope people see at least that we are moving Michigan into entirely new ground," she told the Michigan Public Radio Network on Friday. "It's not anything that anyone could come in and wave a wand for and do overnight."

The Democratic governor said she hopes the move to more businesses connected to alternative energy, homeland security and defense and biotechnology will allow the state to rebuild its shattered economy. Michigan has been in a slump for the past decade, and took an especially heavy hit last year as the domestic auto industry dramatically downsized.

The state unemployment rate of 14.1 percent is well above the national average.

"I know people don't see the steps that I see or the planks of this new foundation that have been laid, because of course the unemployment rate is still so high," Granholm said. "You're not going to be able to see the full benefit of it by the time we leave office. ... But I believe that will occur."
As the governor so patronizingly points out, we lowly and one-dimensional citizens cannot see the solid foundation on which she has built this state's economy because all we plebs can see is that pesky unemployment rate. (And perhaps plummeting income, declining property values, blight, closed prisons, laid off policemen, stricken schools, and an occasion outbound U-Haul.)

Yet, it wasn't so many years ago that Granholm boasted that Michiganders would be "blown away" by the advances of her vision and, while she is less specific as to when the blowing away will occur, it appears she is still clinging to that mantra.

That day of success will be welcomed by all. Provided, of course, that the rest of us haven't already packed up and moved to other states that errantly pursued worse visions over the past seven years and, as a consequence, have businesses that are hiring.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Perhaps Mike Prusi Should Resign

"Maybe you can look (state employees) in the eye and tell them their jobs aren't worth what we negotiated, but I can't do that," said Sen. Michael Prusi, the Senate's top-ranked Democrat.
Well, maybe he shouldn't be in the Michigan State Senate.

Maybe Mike didn't take economics while he was at Lansing Community College. If he had, perhaps he would have learned that a gaggle of people in expensive suits cannot arbitrarily decide what something is worth.

Maybe he skipped government class in high school. Looking state employees in the eye is part of Mike's job. Making decisions that affect millions of people is what politicians do. He should have been aware of that before he ever ran for office. (If nothing else, maybe they should have covered that at freshman senator orientation.)

Businesses cut back when they fear going belly up. That is also what taxpayers do when they can no longer live by a previous budget. Why can't Mike Prusi do so? Is the allure to unwisely spend other people's money too irresistible to withstand?

Perhaps this helps to explain why voters should never elect a union local president into public office. He is in Lansing supposedly representing the taxpayers, but he is there instead representing the union.

He sits his butt in high office in a state with over 14 percent unemployment, plummeting property values and tax receipts, declining residents, and facing a potential $1.7 billion deficit, and he is still unable to cut whatever costs he can.

He solemnly says he cannot do it. Perhaps it is time for a man who admits he is incapable of doing his job, to go home.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


cross posted at Right Michigan

The first effigy hanging I ever witnessed was during my college years. It did not take place within the progressive bubble of CMU's journalism department but rather hung by the side of M-33 in rural Oscoda County but a few miles from where then Gov. William Milliken had pledged to bury thousands of cattle tainted with PBB.

It was not a popular decision with the locals who feared illness and birth defects if PBB from the rotting carcasses ever leached into the groundwater. Energetic activists took the time to erect a makeshift gallows from which they hung a stuffed life size cloth replica of the governor. A rock and roll band played on in the background.

It was all for naught. The cattle were indeed buried. Thankfully, Milliken was never hanged. The band, I think, played wedding gigs for a couple of years despite how unpopular punk was with the in-laws.

Much is being made the last couple of days over the death threats and harassment being hurled at people like Bart Stupak. One such threat contained a drawing of a gallows with Bart's name written on it.

A call to his office went like this:

"Congressman Stupak, you are one big piece of human [bleep.] And think about this, there are millions of people across the country who wish you ill. And all of those thoughts projected on you will materialize into something that's not very good for you. We don't have to do anything but sit back and wish. Go to hell, you piece of [bleep.]"
"Stupak you're a low life baby murdering scumbag pile of steaming crap. Bleep. You're a [unintelligible] punk, Stupak. That's what you are. You and your family is scum. You ought to fill your pockets with lead and jump in the Potomac. Punk. That's what you are, Stupak. You're a piece of crap. We hate your guts here in real [unintellibible] America. We despise you and every punk like you, Stupak. Get out of office. Get off our property."
Pleasant? No.

Harassment? Perhaps.

Death threat? Where?

This is the cause of the maelstrom? A prepared and carefully read statement from someone who apparently believes she, with the help of millions of others, can think long and hard enough to stricken Mr. Stupak with "ill." And another from a guy whose grammar and accent would place him somewhere in the lowest quartile of his junior high Mississippi special ed class. It sounds like this doofus, who does nothing more than suggest that Stupak might want to commit suicide in a very dirty river, almost tries to give his home address away before he stumbles out the word "America."

"Get off my lawn," though not a death threat, would sound pretty mean if my Dad was yelling it, at least until my Mom backhanded him one. The biggest possible threat coming out of this guy's mouth would be the accidental discharge of a tobacco plug.

What we have here are death threats to be carried out by some very well concealed weapons. So concealed in fact that they do not exist unless, of course, Stupak takes Mr. Tobacco seriously and does load his pockets with a heavy metal and jumps.

Conservatives and particularly the Tea Party movement are being accused of heavily damaging political discourse in this country. By inserting the term "death panels" into the health care debate, Sarah Palin and the conservatives were ridiculed for fear mongering. Contrarily, when Stupak and company embrace a nationalized socialist health care program that will force the denial of health services due to insufficient capacity, its a money saver! Meanwhile, someone has to make the decision of who gets the care. But its not a DEATH PANEL! LIAR!

When pro-life groups point out that abortion ultimately means the death of a baby they are accused of damaging the conversation. Really, what else was going to come out of there? A turnip? Where do these people take biology?

When Pete Stark addressed President George W. Bush from the Congressional podium and accused him of amusing himself with the deaths of American soldiers, was he engaging in kind political discourse? When Bart Stupak himself accused oil companies of obscene profits while his constituents' families were crippled, was he engaging in honest debate, or was he using unfair character assassinations for his political purposes? Does Stupak not realize that even oil executives can get ugly drawings?

Politics is a rough and tumble game. People make big decisions that impact the lives of millions while steering the course of a country. People get upset. Sometimes people say things and do things that aren't particularly smart or commendable. Sometimes people get violent as witnessed when union thugs roughed up tea partiers at a political rally.

People who choose to live their lives in the spotlight of political office should expect to get a little flak when they make a controversial stand--particularly when they make a highly visible final stand that is exactly opposite of the one they've made a career out of championing.

How does the old saying go? If you stand in the middle of the road you can get hit by traffic heading both directions.

In a manner that would make a chipmunk proud, Stupak waited until the last possible moment before announcing which side of the road he was going to scurry to. His ultimate decision angered the pro-life crowd, while his hesitancy to openly endorse a pro-abortion stance ticked off feminists and a befuddled Joe Biden who didn't like anyone standing in the way of something he thought was a big bleeping deal.

If Bart Stupak gets plausible death threats he should report them to the FBI and the morons making them should spend many years in jail. No legitimate voice on the conservative side would tell you any differently.

If however, a mewling Stupak claims death threats against his person and all he can produce as evidence is a gallows drawing, an allusion to concentrated negative thoughts, and a suggestion to commit suicide while getting off the lawn, he is merely adhering to an old Saul Alinsky tactic of discrediting the opposition. Look! They are frothing at the mouth!

At this late point in Stupak's political career, it just might be time for him to finally grow himself a pair. After all, his effigy is still unblemished while that particular band ain't ever getting back together.

Defining Michigan's Failure in One Sentence: Volume 3

A nonprofit run by Kwame Kilpatrick's family paid more than $100,000 to a consulting firm formed by Christine Beatty after she resigned as his chief of staff.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bart Loses RTL Endorsement

Not that he ever should have gotten it in the first place.

Defining Michigan's Failure in One Sentence: Volume 2

The head of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation offered his resignation to Gov. Jennifer Granholm after last week’s embarrassing disclosure that his agency approved a tax break for a convicted embezzler.

Under John Dingell's Thumb

John Dingell on Monday, prior to the health care vote:

We are bringing it to a halt. The harsh fact of the matter is when you're going to pass legislation that will cover 300 [million] American people in different ways it takes a long time to do the necessary administrative steps that have to be taken to put the legislation together to control the people.
That would include, I suppose, the hiring of the additional 16,000 IRS agents necessary to properly cower the American public into health care submission.

What brazenness has inflicted the hearts and minds of progressive control freaks to make them believe that they can force all Americans to succumb to this steaming pile of crap legislation that is universal health care? They might very well have the legislation in place, but they certainly do not have the mechanisms available to, as John Dingell so aptly put it, "control the people."

We are Americans, John. And many of us, at least those of us that don't spend most of our days coveting their neighbor's bank account, are not going to forget the Constitution or the founding principles of our country.

We became the greatest country on the face of the Earth not by emulating Europe, but by becoming unlike them. Millions upon millions of Americans are not going to take this laying down like the good little citizens you want us to be.

The American spirit may have fled your soul during those fifty years you spent living with your snout in the taxpayer's trough, but it is still alive and well inside most of the rest of us.

h/ts Jason Gillman and Hot Air

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Defining Michigan's Failure in One Sentence: Volume 1

Unions say Michigan can't afford to lose more state workers.

Teabagger, Anyone?

Oh, politicians and the press were up in arms over the racial, cultural and sexcentric taunts leveled at members of Congress who supported the health care bill. There were cries of nigger, spitting, jeers of "baby killer", and the generic taunts of anti-gay judgment mongers.

Except I don't believe a lot of it. First of all, in all the camera coverage of those representatives who have leveled accusations of racial slurs, there has not been one verified charge. This is not to say that some cretin didn't belittle the congressmen out of reach of the camera, but until it can be proven and unlike the press, I will not accept it as fact. There were too many cameras around. There were too many microphones. There were too many witnesses who heard nothing. Believing these charges based on the sole comments of Alinski soldiers demands a naivete that I will not casually assume.

The baby killer comment was not leveled at Bart Stupak but at the bill a rudderless Stupak limpwristedly accepted. Who should we believe, Stupak, who has the convenient opportunity to deflect criticism by playing the victim, or Rep. Randy Neugebauer who is the sole owner of the words he inappropriately yelled? We should never allow someone other than the speaker of words to define the intent behind those words.

However, the most implausible suffering felt this weekend by anyone was by Barney Frank.

Also targeted over the weekend was Rep. Barney Frank, the openly gay congressman from Massachusetts. Protesters used common anti-gay slurs against him.

"It doesn't hurt me, but it was sad to see this level of vituperation," Frank said Monday.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, speaking Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," called the racial and anti-gay remarks to Democratic members of Congress "reprehensible."
Frank has a pretty tough skin no doubt thickened by the uncomfortable disclosure that a one time lover was running an escort service out of the Frank's congressional office.

What is not so easy to understand is how the press and leftist politicians can use the term teabagger so frequently to describe conservative activists and protesters. Teabagging is a term that is used in a derogatory manner that associates the protesters as people who engage in a gay sex act. Where is Barney's outrage when Anderson Cooper or Jennifer Granholm or Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi use teabagger to describe a protester?

Where is the outrage from democrat leaders when Pete Stark accuses Republicans of intentionally killing American soldiers for politics? Where is the outrage when democrats charge that Republicans want to starve the children or deny the children health care? I don't see a lot of difference other than the level of protestations.

It is all just another sad chapter in feigning a greater level of insult and hurt than the previous salvo of hurtful words brought. Of course, Rep. Neugebauer quickly came forward, owned up to his words, and clarified that he was not calling Stupak a baby killer. He also apologized for losing his cool amid a fiery confrontation.

Apologies from those chanting "teabagger." Crickets.

Me? I'm agnostic toward the whole thing. Until leftists issue an apology for using the term teabagger to describe protesters, and until the press stops coyly pretending to be in on the joke, this whole feigned indignity act will remain just what it is, an act.

I feel really, really, really bad for you guys who've been insulted. Buzz off.

Monday, March 22, 2010


...that 52% of the electorate can give our socialist president a mandate strong enough to push for a health care reform package disliked by 59% of Americans.

Guantanamo Saves Lives!

Or, at least it would if its legitimacy as a terrorist detainment camp were recognized. Oh well, at least Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan didn't have to choke down any of that horrible lemon rice pilaf.

Without a location outside the United States for sending prisoners, the administration must resort to turning the suspects over to foreign governments, bringing them to the U.S. or even killing them.

In one case last year, U.S. special operations forces killed an Al Qaeda-linked suspect named Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan in a helicopter attack in southern Somalia rather than trying to capture him, a U.S. official said. Officials had debated trying to take him alive but decided against doing so in part because of uncertainty over where to hold him, the official added.
Odd that the killing of a terrorist is okay by leftist standards, but capturing him and giving him three squares a day, a Koran, and a prayer mat in Cuba is unacceptable.

Because in America we travel the high road.

Stupak Folds His Hand...Dreams of a Bright Future Where Fetusus Don't Come Back To Haunt Him and, FREE HEALTH CARE!

As it has been predicted for months all over the internet, Bart Stupak folded up like a cheap accordion on the health care bill.

He loves this bill. And, what's not to like?

It has everything that a big government trial lawyer likes, while at the same time it ignores many needed changes that would positively impact insurance reform.

It gives the government more power over the lives of everyday individuals in exchange for the mere promise that everything will get better. Never mind that there has never been a successful implementation of socialized medicine in the history of mankind. On the bright side, our bureaucrats are a lot smarter than the ones of previous generations.

This bill rebukes insurance companies while paying them off. It vilifies pharmaceutical giants while managing to get many of them on board. It refuses to address tort reform and leaves in place restrictions on competition. This bill does very little to contain simply puts a cap on payments to health care providers. In effect it places arbitrary price controls over a very important aspect of our lives...gas lines anyone?

This bill falsely promises a contribution toward a balanced budget while it specifically puts high cost portions of reform off the books, uses double dipping accounting methods, includes one of the largest tax increases in history which itself will contribute to a sluggish economy and reduced tax receipts, sloughs off huge cost increases to the states, and still needs ten years of tax collection in addition to these accounting slights of hand to get the bill below a trillion dollars.

Bart Stupak champions himself a pro-life Democrat, but he also champions himself a pro-union, pro-environmentalist, pro-government socialist who believes that big government provides the best solutions to all things icky in life. In other words, he cannot be trusted to do what the Founding Fathers would have wanted. Something had to give, and as was predicted over and over again, it was his tentative support of pro-life issues that gave way to his yearning for a Euro-style socialist state.

I am pro-life and make no bones about it. However, I am not a one issue voter, and I know a number of people who are conservative but who voted for Stupak because of their belief in his stance on abortion. Today I say to those people and the millions like them that you own this bill. This is your baby.

Tom Casperson ran against Bart Stupak this last year. He is staunchly pro life, yet his campaign was an afterthought to so many pro-life voters who simply became used to blackening the box next to Stupak's name because of all the Right To Life endorsements he has received through the years.

Right to Life was duped, just as the one-issue Right to Life helped to dupe thousands of voters in Bart's district.

Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing said, "We are deeply disappointed and dismayed that Rep. Bart Stupak (D) approved of a compromise in the form of an executive order. With the compromise, some prolife U.S. House Democrats supported the health care bill."

Lawmakers who voted for this bill voted to require federal agencies to subsidize and administer health plans that will pay for elective abortion and voting to undermine longstanding prolife policies. This was a key, defining vote.

The executive order promised by President Obama was issued for political effect. It changes nothing. It does not correct any of the serious pro-abortion provisions in the bill. The president cannot amend a bill by issuing an order, and the federal courts will enforce what the law says.

The question of Rep. Bart Stupak's endorsement is one for the Right to Life of Michigan Political Action Committee. As stated above, this vote was scored as a pro-abortion vote and will certainly be a defining factor in present and future endorsements.
Meanwhile, what should we learn from a socialism pandering big government progressive foolishly endorsed over and over again by Right to Life?

Never again fall for his propaganda! Socialists have no principles beyond those that get them a more powerful government. Ever.

Here are two simple rules to follow in the future.

Rule number 1: Don't ever climb into bed with socialists.

Rule number 2: It's the same as rule number one but comes with a smack to the back of the head.

Friday, March 19, 2010

We need to turn the tide

I am beyond frustrated over the upcoming vote on health care and the methods being used by nanny minded socialists to close the deal. We have fuzzy accounting, underhanded political maneuverings, obfuscations, payoffs, and a an outright disregard for what is desired by the people who will actually have to pay for this monstrosity.

A few moments ago I heard a newscast that regurgitated the results of a study conducted by the CBO on this monstrosity. Once that finely adjusted machine produces a number or an analysis it is too often perceived to be the final answer.

Of course, that is not the way that the Congressional Budget Office works. The CBO produces projections based on the parameters and information it is given. It is not allowed to make assumptions because these are supplied within the parameters. If the CBO does not receive plausible parameters it will still issue an answer that is based on what it has received.

Bruce at QandO:

Again, remember – the CBO’s scoring assumes absolutely no changes in the bill, revenue streams or projected spending over those 10 years. That’s absolute nonsense on a saltine cracker and we all know that. There is no way those revenue streams remain constant, there’s no way the spending on health care – if this is enacted – won’t be increased as the bill is built upon and despite the CBO’s guess for the following 10 years in which it says it will continue to “save” money, there’s very little to support that premise. In fact, the most telling line in the whole CBO report is this one:
Our analysis indicates that H.R. 3590, as passed by the Senate, would reduce federal budget deficits over the ensuing decade relative to those projected under current law—with a total effect during that decade that is in a broad range between one-quarter percent and one-half percent of gross domestic product (GDP).3 The imprecision of that calculation reflects the even greater degree of uncertainty that attends to it, compared with CBO’s 10-year budget estimates.
The parameters supplied are too ridiculous to be plausible but the CBO must do the best that it can with what it is given.

Of course, that only deals with the implausible fuzzy numbers, it does not address the any of the other problems.

For instance we have the political maneuverings of house Democrats that includes the use of the Slaughter Rule. This is an unconstitutional maneuver that would allow House members to vote on amending a bill on which it has never voted. From the WSJ via Powerline:
The Slaughter solution attempts to allow the House to pass the Senate bill, plus a bill amending it, with a single vote. The senators would then vote only on the amendatory bill. But this means that no single bill will have passed both houses in the same form. As the Supreme Court wrote in Clinton v. City of New York (1998), a bill containing the "exact text" must be approved by one house; the other house must approve "precisely the same text."

These constitutional rules set forth in Article I are not mere exercises in formalism. They ensure the democratic accountability of our representatives. Under Section 7, no bill can become law unless it is put up for public vote by both houses of Congress, and under Section 5 "the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question . . . shall be entered on the Journal." These requirements enable the people to evaluate whether their representatives are promoting their interests and the public good. Democratic leaders have not announced whether they will pursue the Slaughter solution. But the very purpose of it is to enable members of the House to vote for something without appearing to do so. The Constitution was drafted to prevent that.
What of obfuscations?

Ever heard of the Medicare Doctor Fix? Depending on who you talk to, this will add $250-$350 billion to the cost of health care over the next ten years. Yet, there is no way that the current Obamacare legislation, even with the rest of its smoke and mirrors, can stay under the $1 trillion threshold if the Medicare doctor fix is included in the current bill. So, it is simply is not.

Another wonderful idea that has attached itself to Obamacare is a capacitor of sorts. A capacitor is an electrical device that stores an electrical charge until a sudden burst of energy is needed. The capacitor contained within Obamacare takes four years to charge--that is, four years of tax collection to provide enough capital in which to jump start the program. That is correct...Obamacare, in its first ten years of tax collection, will only provide six years of medical care.

Despite the fuzzy math, the political maneuverings, and the slights of hands employed by socialists, there are still a number of congressmen unwilling to pull the trigger on this deal without a little pork. Michelle Malkin is keeping track of the bacon grease. Deals for Tennessee, North Dakota, and California are new ones to watch, and you can always dig through the links to find the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase, Christopher Dodd's hospital helper, etc.

Finally, there are the polls. A majority of the American people are not in favor of this bill. To those wanting to finally put a stake through the heart of this great experiment we call America, a little polling makes not a bit of difference.

There are rallies taking place all over the country tomorrow. The big one and even citizens from the People's Republic of Michigan are getting in on the act.

America...this is a big deal. We need to turn the tide.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Despite Temporary Setback, MEDC Still Exploring Exciting Opportunities

For the record, our illustrious governor and the leadership at the MEDC is not going to let the discomfort of a simple misunderstanding hold it back. They are working on several other exciting opportunities both here in Michigan and around the globe.

One such opportunity arrived by email just this week.















Arrangements for a formal ceremony to introduce leaders of the NIGERIAN NATIONAL PETROLEUM CORPORATION (NNPC) will be made as soon as someone in Lagos finally picks up the phone.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Michigan is the Comedy of Errors

Michigan is the Comedy of Errors.

Under the wise leadership of Jennifer Granholm the state has determined the best way to flee its decade long depression is to make it more difficult for viable businesses to survive through punitive taxation and heightened regulations, in favor of making multimillion dollar tax credit deals with other companies who are willing to expand here, relocate here, or start up here.

Taking money away from struggling businesses to be used as a lure to attract speculative ventures is a tactic often questioned by naysayers such as the Rougman and his Mom. Many of the jobs promised by such deals are very slow to be created, some are never realized, while there are also measurable job losses as a result of increased taxation and regulation placed on existing employers and consumers.

Another potential problem with any large grant or credit is the possibility of fraud. That is why due diligence has to be maintained at the state's end of the bargain to make certain that rare money resources aren't wasted on fly-by-night scam artists.


Michigan and its control freak, socialism loving Governor have entered into a tax credit deal with a start up company represented by a man currently on parole with three felony convictions under his belt including both embezzlement and fraud.

LANSING — A convicted embezzler has snagged a $9.1-million tax credit from the state for a company it says will use renewable energy to provide electricity, clean drinking water, sanitation and Internet service to developing countries.

RASCO CEO Richard A. Short shared the stage Tuesday with Gov. Jennifer Granholm as she introduced the leaders of companies awarded tax credits. Short spoke briefly.
There is no way on Earth that Michigan officials can catch every criminal that tries to sidle up to the public trough for a little nourishment, besides, most of them were elected to be there. However this guy was publicly exposed as being a convicted criminal on the same day that Granholm walked with him on stage.

Based on the speed with which his unseemly history was exposed, this could not have been that difficult to uncover. Which leaves us with two options...either Granholm and company knew of his previous legal difficulties and decided to pull the trigger on the deal anyway, or they ignorantly bungled their way into a business relationship with a person who habitually defrauded at least one past employer and has the lengthy criminal record to prove it.

My guess is that Michigan accidentally decided to do business with a convicted felon because it was so intent on promoting the successes of the Granholm administration that it didn't adequately investigate who they were actually passing thickly stuffed envelopes to. The other option is too mind boggling to contemplate.

So, on a sunny Wednesday afternoon, here's praying for ignorance over obstinance!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

When Pot Smokers Boycott

Beyond the immediate fallout from the boycott -- such as a sharp decline in the sale of snack foods -- the story raises questions about how employers are to reconcile their drug policies with laws regarding the use of marijuana, particularly medical marijuana.
At the risk of sounding callous, is it really any surprise that the first casualty of a marijuana supporters' boycott would be in the munchie aisle?

Monica...Sell Your Stuff

One can assume that Monica Conyers did not qualify to receive unemployment compensation when she quit her job at the Detroit City Council last June after admitting guilt in the midst of a bribery investigation. Bummer.

When Conyers left her job on the council she was knocking down in the neighborhood of $81,000 a year. Of course this does not include any under the table loot (estimated to be in the $50,000 range) she received through a networking model promoted in a self-help book co-authored by Tony Soprano and Sam Riddle.

Less than nine months after voluntarily leaving her office and admitting her guilt, she is appealing the process through which she was sentenced to serve 37 months in prison. The appeal will be conducted by attorneys paid for by the taxpayers because Ms. Conyers now claims to be destitute.

For the record, Ms. Conyers' husband receives an annual compensation of $174,000 for his stellar work in the US Congress.

Perhaps Ms. Conyers blew all her well earned money during her months of salary deprivation, and rumors are that she really likes her some gaudy jewelry. I have a hard time believing however that Ms. Conyers would be unable to sell some of the valuable items she acquired through her years on the take in order to defend herself from accusations that she acquired valuable items through her years on the take.

I have no problem with taxpayer money being paid to attorneys who represent indigent defendants or those incapable of funding a reasonable defense. I do have a problem with well paid government bureaucrats receiving borrowed Chinese money on the taxpayer dime so that they can protect assets plausibly collected through schemes that victimized the taxpayers to begin with.

Once Ms. Conyers sells all her stuff I would be more inclined to chip in a little bit and after almost twenty years of marriage with her beloved hubby, I'm not against her selling some of John's shit either. After all, it wouldn't be the first time she sold something that didn't technically belong to her.

Oh Great, More Corn Ethanol

Nextgen ethanol might very well become a viable component of an energy cocktail that helps solve tomorrow's energy problems. Today it is not, and its forced consumption by Americans under the guise of beneficial environmentalism and oil independence are great leaps in logic that border on fraud. There simply isn't enough corn adaptable acreage in America to significantly impact our oil importation, and purported substantive environmental benefits are becoming less rosy by the day.

Wow, who could have possibly guessed that when government busybodies shoved their emotional noses into an economic equation in which they had no expertise or business, that the unfortunate results of their intrusion might be counter to their own arguments for implementation?

The corn ethanol industry in the United States today has primarily degenerated into a massive welfare program for large corn and ethanol producers. While there are still advancements being made in the ethanol industry, most of these advancements are being made with biomasses other than corn.

Corn ethanol is not efficient. On a per acre basis, corn produces a marginal energy benefit and some scientists point out that when the processes of planting, harvesting, and transporting ethanol are added to the equation, the usage of corn ethanol results in a net energy deficit.

Corn ethanol is also a huge user of water with an estimate of the expending of 1,700 gallons of water per one gallon of fuel produced.

Corn ethanol has also served to change the food delivery chain. Acreage that was once used to produce corn for food is now being diverted for usage in our gas tanks. This has not only made corn based foods more costly for consumers, it has also impacted the costs of wheat, barley, oats, etc., as fewer acres are being dedicated to these crops in favor of higher priced corn. Iowa, our largest corn producing state, has gone from being a huge exporter of corn into a net importer of corn because of all of the ethanol production taking place there. Corn from Illinois, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, and elsewhere now travels to Iowa to be turned into fuel instead of traveling on trains and ships to food processors elsewhere. This has contributed greatly to a world food shortage by weakening supplies and making foodstuffs more expensive to countries that can not afford higher prices.

In addition, studies are now beginning to show that the expanded production and usage of corn ethanol might have a net negative impact on CO2 levels.

From the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) via Watts Up With That:

In the March 2010 issue of BioScience, researchers present a sophisticated new analysis of the effects of boosting use of maize-derived ethanol on greenhouse gas emissions. The study, conducted by Thomas W. Hertel of Purdue University and five co-authors, focuses on how mandated increases in production of the biofuel in the United States will trigger land-use changes domestically and elsewhere. In response to the increased demand for maize, farmers convert additional land to crops, and this conversion can boost carbon dioxide emissions.

The analysis combines ecological data with a global economic commodity and trade model to project the effects of US maize ethanol production on carbon dioxide emissions resulting from land-use changes in 18 regions across the globe. The researchers' main conclusion is stark: These indirect, market-mediated effects on greenhouse gas emissions "are enough to cancel out the benefits the corn ethanol has on global warming."
If ethanol was a viable alternative to gasoline, ADM and their inbred cousins would pursue its production on the basis of its viability alone. Economics would dictate a substantial private investment in anticipation of lucrative returns on that investment. That has not occurred. Indeed, the only thing keeping the ethanol industry alive today is the taxpayer subsidies lavished on corn growers and nearly bankrupt ethanol producers.

Bureaucrats of both major political parties have shown a willingness to subsidize constituencies across many industrial and social spectra for the sake of being reelected. They have mandated that ethanol be poured down the throats of an abused public in the form of higher energy and food costs, higher taxes, reduced fuel efficiency, and ultimately in the starving of many across the globe.

It is interesting to me that on the same day that I saw the AIBS report I read this at Mlive:
A push by industry to increase the amount of ethanol blended with regular gasoline got a boost today from Underwriters Laboratory.

UL, as it's called, has approved the use of a dispenser to pump up to 25 percent ethanol blends into cars and trucks. Currently, gasoline sold in the United States is 10 percent ethanol. Industry groups want that number increased to 15 percent or higher, citing the possibility of new jobs at places like the POET plant in Caro.

The Renewable Fuels Association calls the certification "an important step forward" that will "help expand the use of ethanol."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to approve a 15 percent ethanol blend standard sometime this year, according to Robert White, an RFA director.

What it comes down to is: How much ethanol is safe for use in gas-powered engines, how does the continued use of corn-based ethanol affect food prices and what does the driving public think?
The ethanol industry wants more of your tax dollars to support it. And why not, we keep electing people who make it possible.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Detroit Union Pushes Back Against Dave Bing

Detroit union members are not the most adept at keeping up with current events. Heck, lets throw history and economics in there as well. Detroit is hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, and this is before you throw in the Detroit Public Schools.

Revenue streams into Detroit are decreasing. Fewer businesses and fewer taxpaying citizens means lower sales receipts, lower property values, lower income taxes and a higher percentage of people who must depend on government services. The government unions have existed in a bubble for too long and are finally suffering from some of the negative consequences of their own selfish behavior.

Detroit cannot choke its dwindling businesses with more taxation as it will help to drive what little is left out of the city. That leaves city expenses as the most likely portion of the budget that can be addressed. That was not always the case.

Past generations of city managers had no difficulty in taxing businesses and residents in an ever increasing spiral of confiscation. As costs of business rose, employers looked outside the city and the state (another entity of taxing genius) for expansion and relocation.

While the economy crumbled around them, city unions continued to hammer out more and more unsustainable deals with a city machinery that was too short sighted to see the iceberg in the mist. Holding hands in a death march, unions and city management arrived at this point in history with union attitudes besmirched by the memories of how things used to be--when they could count on entrenched politicians and bureaucrats for unrestrained salary increases for the paltry cost of maintaining a well greased turnstile in front of the voting precinct.

Cold reality is now setting in with the recognition that businessman Dave Bing is not going to govern like his predecessors. Bing, unlike those before him, knows what is necessary to create a job and to balance a budget. He has witnessed the damage first hand that unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy can do to a local economy. In the operation of his businesses he had to deal with all things Detroit.

Now Bing is faced with the task of balancing the Detroit city budget.

Bing is asking all city workers to take a 10 percent pay cut in the form of 26 furlough days, and also has discussed the need for additional benefit cuts.

Frustrated with months of unproductive negotiations, Bing last month accused AFSCME of purposefully delaying the process. "Either they can't read, they can't add or they can't comprehend," he said. "It has to be one of the three."
In what has to be a case of unintended irony, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) will be addressing the Detroit City Council at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center on Wednesday, the building named after one of the most corrupt and union pandering mayors in the history of the solar system.
“Bing’s doing nothing but union-busting," Catherine Phillips, AFSME's chief negotiator, told the Citizen. "I’ve been telling the press for a month that we’re willing to give up 26 furlough days but nothing else. However, our international union’s research and economics expert just told us only 13 furlough days are necessary, with agreements to mandatory generic drugs and the elimination of coverage for fertility drugs and Viagra.”
I applaud Catherine Phillips for speaking out for the past month on a problem that took decades to metastasize into the grotesque mass it is today. That leaves her and her membership with only a couple hundred months of silence to answer for.

I wouldn't be so quick to take the generic drugs and Viagra off the table either. The city is going to have to cut hundreds of millions of dollars over the next few years just to break even--that is if the federal government doesn't decide that US taxpayers owe Detroit a bailout for decades of corruption and sloth.

If the municipal union gets busted in Detroit it will be merely the symptomatic result of a city that had to cut costs to survive. It might be time for the AFSCME to shut up and take its generic medicine.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tom Hanks has Salad for Brains

What should we expect from a guy whose best professional work was done in Bosom Buddies?

Pushing a Bad Economy Uphill

cross posted at Right Michigan

"Oh, it doesn't bother me one bit. I love it."

That is my response to a question asked by MSU labor and industrial relations professor Richard Block.

"The question of compensation is always a difficult one. What is the right amount?"

"Levels of compensation are a function of the responsibility of the person, the culture of the organization as well as what other local officials are getting."


"It may not bother the membership, and the membership is paying the bills, so why should it bother us?"
Like I said, it doesn't bother me. But, it is still worth documenting for the sheer chance of enjoying a delicious future irony.

You see, Michigan teachers are paid much higher than the national average. (The same could be said of Michigan's legislators.) This despite the fact that Michigan's economy and the state budget on which it is dependent is in a virtual free fall. Education represents a huge portion of the state budget and as it has been pointed out by the Mackinac Center, a mere reduction of teacher's salaries and benefits to near the national average would cut our most gloomy budget deficit projections in half.

Much of the reason that Michigan educators are currently paid more than the national average (and also much of the reason why rectifying this situation is exceedingly difficult) is the success of the Michigan Education Association. Let's make no bones about it, the MEA is not an organization whose main objective is to help Michigan efficiently and effectively educate its children--instead its sole goal is to assist educators in receiving higher salaries and benefits.

It is very good at what it does.

However, economic realities have the ability to eventually penetrate even the most imposing of citadels.
Lansing teachers got a half-percent pay increase last fall and took a hit on health care to help the cash-strapped school district.

After two years without a contract, Leslie teachers settled last fall for a 50 percent cut in so-called step increases, or annual raises for increasing seniority.
Districts are struggling and they are making all the possible adjustments that they can. This includes attempting to rein in the compensation of teachers, though most of the non-teachers I know would still be thrilled with the prospect of a 1/2 percent pay increase.

This sacrifice being made by some teachers is one that has been pushed uphill.

While the teaching profession in Michigan has for years enjoyed benefits that are nearly unheard of in the private and non unionized sectors, most taxpayers began feeling the bite of a struggling Michigan economy some ten years ago. As affected taxpayers struggled and cut back on their consumption of donuts, coffee, 4-wheelers, and weekly trips to the campground, this affected a wider and wider group of people.

Businesses, hurt by the loss of revenue, had to make cut backs and layoffs. Those who were laid off cut back even more on consumption, became a burden on the unemployment system, started watching The View, and sent in even fewer taxes. Per pupil funding began to fluctuate from year to year and sometimes even more radically from season to season.

While the hurt being felt by taxpayers has been pushed uphill far enough to impact school districts, and even farther up the hill to impact some teachers, economic realities have yet to reach the summit, that being MEA headquarters.
And some staffers and officials of the Michigan Education Association got pay boosts last year ranging from 6.8 percent for the mailroom coordinator to nearly 15 percent for President Iris Salters.

At a time when local teachers' unions are struggling to maintain salary and benefits and the union's statewide membership is declining, many MEA negotiators and executive director Luigi Battaglieri also got hefty pay increases.

That's the cost of doing business, said Doug Pratt, MEA director of communications.

"Do we compensate our officers well? Do we compensate our managers well? Yes," he said.

"We believe in attracting and recruiting the best possible candidates."
Which must explain why the MEA got itself one of the best mail room coordinators on the face of the planet (for a paltry $64K plus bennies.)

To this point there has been little if any squawking from rank and file union members over the continuation and expansion of lavish compensation packages for their MEA administrators. Like the good professor asked, if we don't pay it directly, why should we care at all?

The more interesting question is this, when I start to hear the grumbling can I judiciously ask: "There, how do you like having your plight ignored while getting screwed over like the rest of us have been?"

Oops, maybe I already have.

No Disrespect...I Love the National Anthem in Chicago

I bristle when left wing lunatics try to control my behavior. I believe that individuals should have the choice to monitor their own salt intake, to smoke if they like, to run their own noncriminal businesses without the long arm of regulators getting their noses in the way, to fry their food, and to drive a gas guzzler.

Each and every one of these behaviors might or might not be damaging to those who engage in them, but as individual members of a country based on freedom, we not only should be allowed to make them for ourselves, but we must be allowed to make them for ourselves.

This cuts both ways. If I want to express myself in a way that is not popular with a certain element in this country, so what?

There is a bit of a ruckus developing these days over the singing of the National Anthem in Chicago before Blackhawks' games. There is a tradition that goes back some twenty five years that during the National Anthem fans in the crowd cheer, and clap, and celebrate the anthem in a way that is not done at any other venue.

There was a segment on Fox News this morning where they interviewed people on both sides of this issue, one person who loves the celebration surrounding the singing of the National Anthem in Chicago (Jeffrey Bartl), and another (Rob Otto) who said such celebrations are against the law. A recent article at Mlive written by Otto criticized Chicago's celebration saying " makes my skin crawl every time I hear it."

I can understand how a person would find the celebration annoying. My parents hate any music at church that isn't sung out of the hymnal in true a capella. Dad refuses to sing altogether as Mom mouths the words while staring at him in disgust.

I am a huge Red Wings fan, and watching the National Anthem being celebrated in Chicago doesn't make my skin crawl, it sends a chill down my spine, even on television. To see 20,000 people standing and cheering and celebrating the National Anthem of the greatest country on Earth is nothing less then spectacular as far as I'm concerned.

No one I know agrees with everything going on in this country today. No one. Yet, for a minute or two before the dropping of the puck, thousands madly celebrate our country, most of them sober, most of the respectful, and most of them believing that America is the greatest country ever conceived.

Ya, I know that some of the people there have already sucked down a couple too many beers by the time the game has started, and a few others scream and yell out of no consideration at all over our great country...they simply like to yell and scream.

I don't care. I've seen the spectacle and I've watched the appreciation of America being unashamedly expressed by a vast majority of the thousands on hand. The thrill I feel is no less important than the skin crawling felt by others. And, just for the record, I'm not going to sing out of the hymnal either, I don't care how much Mom stares.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"What about my children?"

Funny thing that, when faced with a stint in prison, Monica Conyers finally took the time to consider her children.

Were her thoughts on her children when she begged for "loot," when she squeezed businessmen, and when she shoved her city even farther down a rat hole? Was she thinking about her children when she turned city council chambers into a circus? Was it her children she had in mind when she threw punches at hotel bars or created other public relations disasters? I really don't think so.

In fact, in her role as a public servant she should have considered more than just her own children, she should have been considering all the children that live within Detroit. She did neither. While her children may have innocently gained the benefits of a few thousand of their mother's illegally obtained dollars, did the children from her city gain by its extortion? Did they benefit as businesses fled, as neighbors boarded up their homes, as whole neighborhoods turned feral?

I'm sick and tired of politicians victimizing those whom they are supposed to represent. This one cries for her children's welfare after she alone endangered it, yet she doesn't cry a tear for the children of other parents whom she helped to victimize.

Monica Conyers should have asked that very important question before she took office. She should have ample time now to consider it anew.

Another Glittering Example of UN Success

This time it is in Somalia.

From the USA Today:

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Up to half the food aid intended for the millions of hungry people in Somalia is being diverted to corrupt contractors, radical Islamic militants and local U.N. workers, according to a U.N. Security Council report.

The report blames the problem on improper food distribution in the Horn of Africa nation, which has been plagued by fighting and humanitarian suffering for nearly two decades, according to a U.N. diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity because the report has not yet been released.
Somalia is a cesspool of Islamism. Its economy is incapable of supporting itself and it must therefore beg foreign entities to feed its masses--to which, admirably, the UN has tried to step to the plate.

The problem is, of course, that it is impossible to peaceably inject sustenance into a poverty stricken backwater under the firm control of Islamic radicals who seek to, on one hand, control much of the population through the control of resources, and on the other hand, reject all potential economic advancements for its people because these advancements are considered inconsistent with Islam.

Through its efforts the UN has managed to shove less than half of its targeted aid to the places it wishes it to reach, while a majority of its resources have been gouged away by Islamists, corruption, and UN workers. A majority of the aid, as a result, further empowers those who have power, and further enslaves those who are at the mercy of the corrupt.

The moral question is this: Should the UN continue to feed all the malnourished people that it can in Somalia knowing full well that most of the aid it sends well help to perpetuate the problem? In other words, is paying perpetual extortion a worthy charity?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Virg Bernero: "Hey, let's make a bank!"

If you love the efficiency of the post office, or of Amtrak, or of any other highly taxpayer subsidized enterprise that competes with the private sector on a daily basis, you are absolutely going to love the latest proposal by Michigan gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero on Tuesday proposed having Michigan follow the lead of North Dakota and open a state-owned bank that could make low-interest loans to businesses and college students.

The Democratic gubernatorial candidate said the state bank also could ease the foreclosure crisis by buying down mortgage portfolios held by smaller banks in Michigan and partner with other private banks on economic development projects.

"Hundreds of job-creating projects are still on hold because Michigan businesses and entrepreneurs cannot get bank financing. We can break the credit crunch and beat Wall Street at their own game by keeping our money right here in Michigan and investing it to retool our economy and create jobs," Bernero said in a release.
Expletive deleted.

What Virg seems to be unable to fathom is that the credit crunch is the result of stupid government busybodies like himself not only enacting regulations that enticed lenders to play Texas Hold 'em with depositor's money, but also pronounced the gamblers too vital to the American economy to fail. Their wise intrusions into what should be a private enterprise have tightened the credit markets so thoroughly that even the Chinese are starting to tire of our panhandling.

Who is Virg going to put in charge of this bank? Will it have employees? Will the new bureaucracy compete with private sector banks, or will it instead lend money only to bad risk clients like the ones that the Community Reinvestment Act favored? (You know, the ones that that people like Washington Mutual and Citibank wouldn't have touched with a ten foot pole had not the government incentivized the risky lending.) Will it operate efficiently, or will it, like every other facet of state government, be manned by the efficient and friendly thugs of some government service union? Will businesses owned by friends of bureaucrats be favored? If it makes a profit, will this profit be distributed to taxpayers as a dividend, or will it be used to pump money taken from the private sector into the pipe dreams of bureaucrats?

There are an infinite amount of reasons to not like this proposal. If the government truly wants to let businesses and entrepreneurs achieve, CUT THE FRIGGEN REGULATIONS DOWN IN THIS STATE! Don't instead enter the lending business to not only compete with private banks for viable customers, but to lend money to people whom the banks think are too risky!

This is a lose/lose situation for Michigan. No wonder Virg loves it.

Expletive deleted!

Bart Stupak Optimistic on Health Care Plan but Woefully Ignorant on Economics

Bart Stupak once again finds himself reluctantly at the center of a political storm. The umpteen term liberal democrat from Northern Michigan would love to pull the trigger on Barack Obama's health care plan, but he is hesitant to do so if passage of the bill would allow for public money to be used to fund abortion.

He is being pressured on both sides. The liberal wing of his party would love to have all the bells and whistles the bill would provide including long waits for medical treatment, a rationing of services, a stunting of medical advances, and the delicious irony of pro-lifers helping to foot the bill on abortion procedures. Many of those who oppose abortion voted for Bart Stupak solely because of his hard line rhetoric against the procedures.

Honestly, I don't trust Bart Stupak any farther than I can throw him. While he has continued to remain adamant that taxpayer funded abortion should continue to remain illegal, he is hinting that certain language within the bill would be enough to secure his vote and the votes of 10-15 democratic lawmakers for whom he has become an unofficial spokesman.

This is not a good sign.

"I'm more optimistic than I was a week ago," Stupak told The Associated Press between meetings with constituents in his northern Michigan district, including a crowded town hall gathering where opinions on health care and the abortion issue were plentiful and varied.

"The president says he doesn't want to expand or restrict current law (on abortion). Neither do I," Stupak said. "That's never been our position. So is there some language that we can agree on that hits both points — we don't restrict, we don't expand abortion rights? I think we can get there."
But what about the remainder of the bill? Does Stupak have no concerns with the economic calamity this bill portends?

As Jennifer Kuznicki points out, Stupak's constituency is concerned with more than just the abortion angle. Many of Michigan's residents are concerned with the economic impact of a bill on a district in which many individual counties have employment rates hovering at around 20 percent.

Will placing an additional 15 percent of the US economy in government hands be a long term boost to Michiganders? Will rationing medical care, which economics dictates the Obama plan will do, benefit those who seek medical care? Will reducing the number of American trained doctors, which economics dictates the Obama plan will do, benefit Americans? Will further reducing competition among health care providers, which economics dictates this bill will do, help to lower costs? We could go on and on.

Stupak seems to have no qualms about any of these issues.

Michigan voters have done themselves no favors by electing to office someone as ignorant on economic issues as is Bart Stupak. For now Stupak is tenuously leaning against this bill, but he does so solely for a reason that is but a small part of why he should.

This is neither firm footing for Stupak nor those he represents. Votes matter.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The BBC Is Astounded

The BBC is astounded:

A conservative US state senator who has regularly voted against gay rights measures during his 14 years in office has confessed he is gay.
I don't get it.

Why is it that every gay person in America must vote in lockstep with the radical gay lobby? Not all gay people believe that the marital religious contract should be stepped on by the government.

Now that I think of it, not all women believe that women should have the right to choose abortion, not all black people think that Obama is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and not all unemployed people want unemployment compensation extended indefinitely.

I cannot tell you whether State Senator Roy Ashburn will renounce his voting record on gay rights issues or not, but the fact is that his admission of being gay is not an admission of voting hypocrisy regardless of how the gasping BBC paints it.

Maybe, as he paints it, he was simply trying to vote the way he believed his constituents wanted him to vote. In today's American political climate, that might be the more worthy angle.

Monica Conyers' Recommended Jail Sentence

is 46-57 months. If the judge is to agree with this recommendation Ms. Conyers will serve within a stone's throw of the maximum allowed as a condition of her guilty plea.

I think it would be incomplete to think of her crime as being wrapped around the illegal collection of some $60,000 or $70,000 in various shake downs. It would be more fitting to define it as her one small part in a multi-generational larceny that took a once proud city and removed from it its viability and with it, its self esteem.

I'll let others decide if this is justice for Conyers, but the city of Detroit, if it is ever to receive justice, would need a lot more jail time to be served by thousands if not tens of thousands of corrupted public officials, businessmen, teachers, and other various thugs that absconded with the peoples' trust, money, and futures through much of the past five decades.

Many of the guilty lay moldering in the grave while many of their victims still live within a crime riddled and service starved city incapable of raising the bare revenues needed to haul its own waste. It would be justice, I suppose, to think of Conyers as having suffered the fate of her own actions--yet this justice benefits few souls still living among those mean streets.

What she did is already done, and who she did it to is already a victim. Forty six to fifty seven months might very well be justice for Monica Conyers, but her city and her victims, deserve her to receive a whole lot more.


I had planned to leave my humble abode on Friday morning for a weekend that would provide the perfect mix of orthodontia and fun.

At the last moment I left on Thursday afternoon and was unable to properly notify my loyal readers. (Sorry, Mom.)

I had an unexpected thrill while I was away. (No, Mom, you can continue reading.)

Living in northern Michigan, I am able to hear coyotes quite often. Coyote territory includes most if not all of North America. Despite this, most Americans rarely if ever see them. Personally, I have never seen a single coyote in my life when I wasn't behind the wheel of a car either near or after dark. This typically makes for quick glimpses of the elusive animals rather than an opportunity to really watch them.

That all changed on Friday morning when this beautiful animal sauntered into the yard behind a friend's house. He was in no hurry.

Isn't he beautiful?

As for my first day back, I have a lot of running around to do today but should be online later this afternoon/evening to do some posting.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Notably Silent Gretchen Whitmer

cross posted at Right Michigan

Despite some of my better efforts as a child, it was hard for me to avoid looking at the collection plate in church as it passed from hand to hand. I loved to take wadded bills from my parents so that I could be the one that dropped the crumpled green. Later, when I was a teen and had just gotten my first job, I felt it an important right of passage to do what the adults did and present my tithe--it was even cheaper than smoking!

Some offerings were given beneath furtively cupped hands as if to conceal the transactions. (Who could be really sure...maybe that was a wad of ones.) Other more distracted givers would plop that money in without a concern over who might be watching--and believe me, I knew who was holding out. More established church veterans had specially printed envelopes provided to them by the church in which to stuff their tithes and offerings, making it easier for both the church and churchgoer to track charitable contributions. I hated those things.

As I remember it, there were no high fives or chest bumps as the plate got a bit heavier. The usher didn't ring a bell every time a particularly generous effort was made. There were no chants of "We're number one!" or "Daddy needs a new pair of shoes!" Big givers were not issued a plaque and given a special seat in the front pew, besides everyone knows that the choice seats are in the very back. On the contrary, offerings were collected while hymns were sung or special music was played as if the offertory process itself needed shrouding within a larger distraction.

Much philanthropy these days, however, is not quite so personal.

Viable political candidates not only have to be in the news, but they must also be seen as motivated, caring, wise, and good stewards of the people's money. This combination of attributes is a tough pose to present on any given day, and the opportunity to strike them all at one moment is too good an opportunity to let go unspent.

In October of last year, Michigan Sen. Gretchen Whitmer was running for Attorney General. She had a lot to gain by being in the public spotlight, and what better way to garner some positive attention than donating her October expense account stipend to a worthy charity?

“I will continue to donate my expense account each month until we finally get some action on common-sense reforms in Lansing,” said Whitmer. “Hopefully my colleagues will do the same so we can start restoring some public confidence and begin fixing what’s seriously broken in this town.”
Amen to all of that. We needed some serious reform in Lansing.

Whitmer's generous donation to the East Lansing Education Foundation was more than welcome to that organization. Few areas of our state's assumed responsibilities have suffered more dynamic drops in state supported revenue than has public education.

True to her word, when there was insufficient reform in Lansing during Whitmer's candidacy over the next couple of months, November's stipend was donated to the YWCA of Greater Flint SafeHouse.
“Despite my efforts, the Senate Republicans continue to ignore any reforms to help offset their devastating budget cuts,” said Sen. Whitmer. “Our neighborhoods and communities throughout Michigan have taken huge hits over the years and I cannot in good conscience sit back while police officers and fire fighters are pulled off our streets.”
December's was directed to Home Repair Services of Grand Rapids.
With this donation, Gretchen Whitmer continues her push for a wide-ranging government reform plan that includes cutting legislative perks and pay, ending automatic lifetime health benefits for lawmakers, closing the ‘bonuses for politicians’ loophole, and demanding that candidates and lawmakers disclose their income and assets.

“It’s about time lawmakers share in the sacrifice and hopefully actions like mine will help people hang on to their homes and make other politicians take notice,” Whitmer said. “It’s a shame that Lansing isn’t moving faster to help real people.”
Ms. Whitmer was still dissatisfied with the pace of reforms in January.
LANSING – Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) today released the following statement in response to Sen. Mike Bishop’s proposals to end lifetime health care benefits that only impact future legislators, not current ones:

“Apparently for Mike Bishop, ‘reform Michigan government’ means ‘reform everybody but me.’ If Sen. Bishop is serious about reforming government, he must make sure that these reforms also impact himself and all current legislators. The Senate must lead by example and we must not give ourselves a free pass on this important issue. I urge the people of Michigan to hold Sen. Bishop accountable and demand that he include himself in any government reform.”
The next day and for reasons that we all can respect, Whitmer dropped out of the race for Attorney General. At the time she ended her candidacy she was considered one of the front runners for the democrat nomination.

I do not begrudge politicians for collecting reasonable expense accounts--working on behalf of the state, like working on behalf of any business, can cost money and it adds up quickly. We have citizens from all over our state who, once elected to the legislature, must travel to Lansing to work. For most people serving, that means a lot of overnight travel, a lot of restaurants, and either a lot of hotel rooms or the maintenance of a second residence. That would be a lot to ask of someone if they did so without compensation.

For Whitmer, this wasn't a big issue. She lives in East Lansing but a few minutes from the state capitol. While senators representing the UP, northern lower Michigan, the thumb, Detroit and downriver, southwest and west Michigan were all being upstaged by a conspicuously loud and generous AG candidate, Gretchen Whitmer could afford to effectively donate her monthly expense account to her own AG campaign and still eat breakfast, lunch and dinner within the confines of home sweet home.

Please understand, I do not criticize Whitmer for her donations, just for the self serving way in which she promoted them. Normally an individual's charity would be none of our business, but in this case Ms. Whitmer made her charitable giving the business of every potential voter within Michigan by tooting a horn whenever she dropped something in the plate. In my opinion, regardless of what good came from the donations, they were not donated for a selfless reason; these monies were, for all intents and purposes, spent on her campaign for higher office.

Now we are in March and the state legislature has still passed no meaningful reform. We are still dead last in employment, dead first in citizen flight, and dead set against tackling the tough economic issues that got us into this mess in the first place. In Whitmer's absence, the attorney general's contest is still up in the air with the new democratic favorite being an ambulance chaser from metro Detroit.

All of which makes me miss you, Gretchen Whitmer. Where have you gone? I've come to expect the monthly press releases from you that document your disgust with Republican obstructionism while you also highlight your selfless benevolence. Oddly, these things seem to have disappeared at the same time that you abandoned your AG campaign.

While I'm certain that the expense account you've demonstrated that you don't really need is still, absent of meaningful reform in Lansing, being given to a worthy charity every month, it seems to be finding a much quieter fate.

Private giving is the best kind, even though it makes it tough to keep score.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Mike Prusi Looks Out For His Own

If Mike Prusi was stone cold broke and was having trouble paying his bills, would he offer his employees a 3% raise?

The problem with Michigan bureaucrats, other than the fact that so many of them are abjectly stupid, is that they spend taxpayer money as if it grew in a garden. It has no meaning to them.

They do not answer to the taxpayers that still remain in this state. They answer instead to the well cemented union employees that have better pay and benefits than their struggling counterparts that work in the private sector.

But Senate Minority Leader Mike Prusi, D-Ishpeming, led the opposition, saying state employees have already given large concessions and are working harder, with fewer employees.

“When is enough enough? I think now is enough,” Prusi said.
Prusi cries about union employee sacrifices like they've stormed the beaches of Normandy. Hey, I know they've made sacrifices. So what? To even live in Michigan these days means you have sacrificed. Everyone here has made sacrifices.

Mike, why don't you look out for me, the taxpayer?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

IAEA Cannot Confirm Iran's Peaceful Nuclear Intent. Duh.

The IAEA says that it cannot confirm that the Iranian nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Wow, that was a tough call.

The IAEA's main purpose over the past few years has been to monitor the Iranian nuclear program. Led for years by Mohamed ElBaradei, Iran was able to rope-a-dope the international body through tactics of intermittent feigned compliance, periodic defiance, stalls, negotiation, and an occasional taunt.

The Bush administration never cared much for ElBaradei's style of buddying up to the mullahs while hoping that the terrorist state they controlled would miraculously drop its nuclear program out of a newly discovered love for mankind. Firmly supported by Russia, China, and France, for his efforts, in 2005 he shared the Nobel Prize with the IAEA.

Despite the wonderful cash and prizes, nothing has changed. Years later we are still faced with an Iran that is inching closer to a deliverable weapon powerful enough to set the Middle East on fire.

From the Christian Science Monitor via Jihad Watch:

Istanbul, Turkey - The UN's top nuclear official on Monday said the Islamic Republic was not providing the "necessary cooperation" to guarantee that the Iran nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) assessment comes as Iran has been stepping up uranium enrichment levels and expanding its nuclear fuel cycle plans in recent weeks, moves that have prompted President Barack Obama to warn of tougher sanctions against Iran.

"The agency verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran, but we cannot confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities because Iran has not provided the agency with the necessary cooperation," Yukiya Amano, the new IAEA chief, told the agency's governing board at the start of its meeting in Vienna this week.
It does not take a genius to figure out that the biggest obstacle between Iran and a deliverable nuclear weapon is nothing more than time. Yet, each and every stalling tactic that Iran has employed has been swallowed by an impotent international community too afraid to appear heavy handed.

We've already written too many letters that outlined our serious concern. We've talked too much and we've delayed too much. Putting off tough sanctions amounts to nothing more than kicking the can down the road. Exactly what Iran wants.

Bernstein Running for Michigan Attorney General

I've had just about all of the Bernstein family I can take. You know, "call Sam," and all that.

Sam Bernstein has himself a quaint little ambulance chasing law firm down in Farmington Hills that inundates the Michigan airwaves with advertising. His three children are also attorneys at the firm.

When I was a kid I was taught that good friends would always be there for you, and as a good friend you should be there for them too. Later in life I learned that good friends don't let friends drive drunk. Now, thanks to Sam Bernstein, I've learned that good friends will tell a friend who is injured to go find himself a lawyer.

Now, I find out that it isn't bad enough that I have to watch the Bernstein clan on every Red Wings telecast, it appears for the next several weeks at least I'll also have to watch Richard Bernstein, the youngest son, as he mounts a campaign for Michigan attorney general.

Sorry Richard, I'm sure you are a nice guy, but there is no way on Earth I'm going to support a shameless ambulance chaser in the attorney general's office. Your firm is already making a mark on the Michigan business climate by helping to drive up insurance rates for everyone and making it more expensive to do business here in Michigan when our state needs exactly the opposite influence. Besides, you bug me during hockey.

It hurt me to have had to say it. Now, who can I sue?

Monday, March 01, 2010

Michigan: Third World Roads

I am from Michigan. This means that I drive on the same crappy roads through much of the year that the rest of you Michiganders do.

Michigan drivers have always had to travel on roads where conditions vary between heaved, potholed, and blockaded for repair. It simply goes with the territory of living in a state where heavy road traffic is channeled onto surfaces that must also withstand a four season onslaught that includes snow, salt, freeze, thaw, rain, sun, rinse, and repeat.

Birgit Klohs, president of the Grand Rapids-based economic development group The Right Place Inc., says the state of Michigan roads makes it difficult to attract business.

“You bring a company in, you put them in a car and the first thing they do is hit potholes,” Klohs said. “We drive roads that are Third World, and that’s supposed to be the impression they have of us?”
Third world? Methinks Ms. Klohs hasn't done her fair share of traveling in third world nations lately.

I've traveled many roads in this first world nation and despite what you are being led to believe by state officials and industry advocates, Michigan is not the sole victim of bad roads. Roads are crappy coast to coast.

When MSN published a report on the 10 worst stretches of highway in America, not one Michigan strip of asphalt made the cut. Admittedly, their criteria for what made a road one of the worst included everything from bottlenecks, moose, poor signage, dangerous drivers, and road repair.

I was scandalized. While we might not have every one of those things, I nearly hit an elk a few years ago, and my idiot neighbor ought to count for something!

To my disappointment, even if we whittle our definition of "worst roads" down to include only the heaved, potholed, and cracked, Michigan is still not at the top (or bottom) of the list, at least if the 2007 TRIP (a highway analysis group) analysis is of any good.

That analysis places Michigan's roads at exactly average when compared to the rest of a potholed nation. The report takes into account all interstates, freeways, and major urban routes.

Now, we should also note that Michigan falls comfortably within the range of its region. While its average rating of 51% of good roads doesn't sound very high, it is only slightly worse than Ohio's rating of 59%, Indiana's rating of 56%, and Wisconsin's 53%, and it is still a bit better than the Minnesota, Illinois, and Pennsylvania ratings that came in at 47%, 46% and 33% respectively. I don't know about you, but I'm willing to trade 5% of road condition in just so I don't have to be called a Hoosier.

And, while Michigan officials publicly lament their inability to maintain roads unless they are infused with billions of additional taxpayer cash, they are a bit more haughty when describing their accomplishments to the rest of the nation.

From page 30 of the Rough Roads Report:
The Michigan DOT Asset Management program encompasses all the physical transportation assets in the state, including more than 9,700 miles of road, 5,679 bridges, 450,000 signs, 4,025 traffic lights, 8 million linear feet of guardrails, 83 rest areas, 13 travel information centers, 85 roadside parks, 27 scenic turnouts, and more. The program is built around five major functions: policy goals and objectives; information and date collection; planning and programming; program delivery; and monitoring and reporting.

Steudel said the program begins with setting a broad policy about the current condition of the asset and then setting a goal for where you want that asset to be within a specific time frame. For Michigan, the goal was to increase the condition of all its roads and highways, moving from 65 percent of state roads in good condition in 1997 to 90 percent in 2007. Pavement preservation was the primary tool for achieving that goal.

The department met its 90 percent goal and improved to 92 percent in 2008. A similar goal-driven asset management process is now underway for the state’s bridges.

Michigan has a statewide Transportation Asset Management Council, which brings together all the agencies in the state that have jurisdiction over roads. Its purpose is to broaden the use of transportation asset management throughout the state and ensure that groups are working together, sharing methodology, collecting the same data, and speaking the same language.

Other state DOTs are developing asset management programs as well.
Like I said, I know a rough road when I ride on one and Michigan has its fair share. I'm not even averse to paying road taxes if those taxes actually go to repairing roads at a price that doesn't require the taxpayer get shaken down by Jenny's union supporters.

What I cannot support is a government that is unable to discern that businesses seek out locations in which they are able to make good profits. Good roads, and good talent pools, and good schools, and good libraries, and nice parks, and safe prisons, and every thing else that bureaucrats want to provide our state in order to attract businesses here, are really only sustainable as the result of a profitable and growing business environment, not the other way around.

As always, bureaucrats have their carts lined up in front of the horses. Which, come to think of it, isn't even a good way to travel in a third world nation.