Tuesday, February 27, 2007
This wasn't much of a surprise. Senator Bishop is a big follower of the Tax-Cutting Guru Grover Norquist, who believes using taxes to help those in need is a form of theft. Seriously. If you don't believe me, here's an exchange between Alain de Botton and His Non-Benevolence:
"Why shouldn't the state help the needy?" asked de Botton.
"Because to do that," said Norquist, "you would have to steal money from people who earned it and give it to people who didn't. And then you make the state into a thief."
"You're suggesting that taxation is theft?"
"Taxation beyond the legitimate requirements of providing for justice is theft, sure."
Bishop even signed Norquist's famous Taxpayer Protection Pledge (TPP). It reads as follows:
I, ____________, pledge to the taxpayers of the _____ district of the State of _________ and to all the people of this state, that I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.
It's pretty simple and straight-forwarded. President Bush has signed it. So have lots of other Michigan Republicans, including Congressmen Mr. Grin Mike Rogers, the Club for Growth's Tim Walberg, and Non-Smoking Seminar Advocate Joe Knollenberg. You can see how it's done wonders for cutting the Federal Deficit. The pledge is not yet as famous as the Communist Denial: I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of the Communist Party. But it does have a devoted following.
I must confess, that just like Norquist and his followers, I hate paying taxes. I also hate paying revenue enhancements, fees, service charges, and even for parking, too. Who doesn't? Like the New York Yankees, taxes are an easy thing to hate. But they pay for many things I like and many things I don't. That's the bargain I've made with my fellow citizens.
Unfortunately for Senator Bishop and TPP signatories, balancing budgets that pay for services many people want is not simple. Hence all the silence and secrecy surrounding the details of the Senate Majority Leader's plan to plug the fiscal hole in the budget. Not to mention the diversionary tactics of setting up a subcommittee to investigate the state's prisons and the Corrections department (announced after the Governor said she would close a prison in Jackson to save money) and holding hearings to find out what the Michigan Economic Development Corporation is doing (apparently, Senate Republicans had no idea that the state of Michigan has a public/private partnership that has been successful in luring businesses here).
Yet another day went by and yet another story quoting Republicans appeared in a local paper in which they claimed they can fix the shortfall with cuts alone (but none to education) and no tax increases. But not even so much as an outline for a non-tax-increase plan was revealed.
Then yesterday Senator Bishop sent an open letter to the Governor asking to meet with her to resolve the budget crisis.
While there were clearly areas of common ground in your initial Executive Order, we have stated publicly on several occasions, that raising taxes without an exhaustive review of all other options is not a path we are interested in pursuing.
Again with the no tax increase. You see, if Senator Bishop votes for any kind of tax increase (no matter how small), he will be put in Norquist's Hall of Shame.
Which might not be such a bad thing. Norquist and his people believe that government is inherently evil, and that it should never try to do anything more than keep a standing army and lock up people who break laws. The fact that a government program like Social Security has worked and continues to work drives them crazy because it points to a big gaping hole in their narrow ideology. (Note: it is scientifically impossible for any person who supported or voted for Amway Guy last year to make the criticism that Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme.)
It might help Senator Bishop if he remembers what he said when he took the oath of office. Here's what the Michigan Constitution requires you to pledge, from Article 18:
Sec. 1. Members of the legislature, and all officers, executive and judicial, except such officers as may by law be exempted, shall, before they enter on the duties of their respective office, take and subscribe the following oath or affirmation: "I do solemnly swear (of affirm) that I will support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of this state, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of ________ according to the best of my ability." And no other oath, declaration or test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust.
That's pretty simple, too. Plus, last time I checked, taxes and tax increases were constitutional. Seeing as how it's the taxpayers of Michigan who pay Senator Bishop's salary, it would be reasonable to expect him to uphold his pledge to us before following the intellectually and morally bankrupt path being slashed by Norquist and his followers.
So the question is: Where do you stand, Senator?
Monday, February 26, 2007
He said (and I'm paraphrasing much less eloquently) fiction is about lying and using those lies to show the hopes and passions of people at points in history. What history can't do. History having a moral obligation to sticking to the facts. But the writer, working from his or her own memory and personal conflicts, in using these lies to create fiction, affirms the sovereignty of the individual.
Here's an excerpt from another essay:
Removing blindfolds, expressing indignation in the face of injustice and demonstrating that there is room for hope under the most trying circumstances, are all things literature has been good at, even though it has occasionally been mistaken in its targets and defended the indefensible.
The written word has a special responsibility to do these things because it is better at telling the truth than any audiovisual medium. These media are by their nature condemned to skate over the surface of things and are much more constrained in their freedom of expression. The phenomenal sophistication with which news bulletins can nowadays transport us to the epicentre of events on all five continents has turned us all into voyeurs and the whole world into one vast theatre, or more precisely into a movie. Audiovisual information-so transient, so striking and so superficial-makes us see history as fiction, distancing us by concealing the causes and context behind the sequence of events that are so vividly portrayed. This condemns us to a state of passive acceptance, moral insensibility and psychological inertia similar to that inspired by television fiction and other programmes whose only purpose is to entertain.
I have only read "Death in the Andes" which I thought was excellent. Now, some more books to go get to add to my TBR pile.
Friday, February 23, 2007
What is Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop's response?
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop has said the bills won't be a priority in his chamber.
I hope that means he's hard at work on his counter budget proposal. But something tells me that's not the case.
So he doesn't want to help Michigan consumers and he still doesn't have a list of programs he would like to cut from the budget. What is Republican Senator Mike Bishop doing?
He's been sending out press releases like this one (PDF), with quotes like this:
“Michigan is currently in a state of economic crisis, but closing prisons, reducing our state police force and putting the public’s safety in jeopardy is not the way to solve our budget shortfalls.
“For our part, Senate Republicans have no interest in playing politics with public safety. Despite no warning from the governor’s administration, Senate Republicans will do what we were sent to Lansing to do - to find solutions to serious problems like these without endangering Michigan families and neighborhoods.”
And we're still waiting for those solutions, Senator Bishop...hello?...hello?...Michigan to Senator Bishop...Budget proposals needed from you...All we see is vapor...
[Update: Your colleague Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer (D) is sitting across the aisle Senator Bishop, eagerly awaiting your proposals.]
[Update again: Senator Bishop says the 2% sales tax on services is not the solution. But he still doesn't offer any specifics. He sticks to his mantra: government bad, taxes bad. (This reminds me of "Napster Bad!".)
“We honestly believe it can be done,” said Bishop calling for the consolidation of services to make the required budget cuts.
Advocating substantial reform, Bishop was seemingly short on specifics.
His faith in his own party's ability to make budget cuts without raising taxes is not matched by any empirical evidence so far that they have the skills to do so.
“This is not about Republicans or Democrats, it is about common sense,” said Bishop. “I can't get over the fact that this idea of a tax increase is even on the table.”
I can't get over the fact that this man has the unmitigated gall to spout on and on about what he's against, but yet he provides not one solution. And what's an even bigger act of passive idiocy is the way the press in this state is letting him get away with it!]
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Remember, just last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee rejected Granholm's EO for dealing with this year's budget shortfall.
"The Republican caucus has said we can get it done with cuts and we're going to put our money where our mouth is," Bishop said. He didn't specify where the cuts would be made but said school aid reductions are on the table.
It was a budget in which they concurred with 90% of the budget cuts.
“Our communication broke down between each other but not in a negative way. We just didn’t have time to sit down with the House,” [Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Shirley] Johnson said, noting that lawmakers agreed with 90 percent of Granholm’s proposed cuts.
The entire state of Michigan is still waiting for Bishop and the Senate Republicans to come up with their list of cuts...We're still waiting...So far, it doesn't look like a whole lot is getting done.
Note: If you want a window into just how uninformed the Republican leadership apparently is, take a look here.
The practical uses it offers in the editing and production of books aside, in the current reality, the Internet is a tremendous tool for publishers to reach those readers who want something besides the designated book of the season. This will become even more the case so long as review inches are shrinking in the print media (which I fear will be right to their complete disappearance). And as the influence of the literary bloggers grows — as I think it will once they convince those readers who are not bloggers that the blogs are the source of information about What to Read — that is, once readers recognize that bloggers have an authority that the reader reviews on Amazon do not — then the Internet will be an even more powerful tool for publishers.
[Bold emphasis is mine]
This is not just what literary bloggers have to do. It is especially true for political bloggers. In 2004, Dean showed how you could organize and raise money over the Internet. The 2006 elections showed the influence of bloggers in keeping certain issues at the forefront of the news cycle, debunking slanders or myths, or getting information out to the public ignored by the MSM. (Bloggers have often highlighted where the MSM has failed to do its watchdog job in the political arena.)
Most of the audience for political blogs are those people who are activists, over-informed, or all-around political junkies to begin with. The next step is to convince the public that blogs are a source of information about who to trust in a given debate or campaign.
In both the literary world and the political world, blogs are picking up the large amount of slack left by the MSM (for an innovative example, see the litblog co-op.) Book review pages have shrunk in newspapers. (Don't even get me started on the lack of authors on television outside of the Designated Book on Oprah and the occasional Today Show appearance.) Political coverage has shrunk too. Or should I say, meaningful political coverage has shrunk. There are plenty of partisan shoutfests on cable TV. But even those shows that attempt at being informative and meaningful, like Meet the Press, have been compromised as the Libby Trial has shown. From Tim Rutten's column in the LA Times [hat tip to Transient Reporter for this one]:
[Tim] Russert came off looking particularly bad when, under cross-examination, it emerged that he made a public show of resisting a grand jury demand that he testify about his conversation with Libby, while secretly providing information to the FBI. Maybe that's how sophisticated Washington journalists navigate "the system," but an ordinary person with no more than the sense of right and wrong that they learned at Mother's knee would call his conduct what it is: sleazy double-dealing.
The picture that emerges here is of a stratum of the Washington press corps less interested in the sort of journalistic privilege that serves the public interest than in the kind of privileged access that ensures prominent bylines and good airplay.
Bloggers wear their biases on their sleeves. We might not claim objectivity, but we're not making any attempt to fake it either. Most bloggers write out of an honest passion for their subjects, be it literature, politics, sex, cooking, science, economics, entertainment, you name it. A passion that I hope will poke through the blogosphere and out to the general public someday soon. And then, who knows what changes will be brought to our political system or publishing? Given the dissatisfactory state of both, I have to believe the net effect will be positive.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Okay, here I make a confession: I have not read a single one of the nominees.
Does that make me a bad person? Or just someone who can't afford to buy too many hardcovers in a given year? Or someone who is still playing catch-up, trying to read the big books from the past few years? Or someone who just doesn't have as much time to read as he would like. Or someone who just makes excuses for not reading more new fiction?
And what big tax raise is that? A whole 2% on services. Which is estimated to cost the average family earning $57,000 a year approximately $65. That's right, $65 per year. That's $1.33 a week. You can't buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks for that. Republicans the country over complain that taxes like this are too much. Ridiculous.
But Sen. Jelinek was not done. Here's what else he said:
We cannot ask Michigan families to cover more than 50% of the deficit with new taxes. Senate Republicans want government to live within its means, which will mean cutting more than just 4.5% of costs.
Being responsible means crafting a plan that is right for Michigan and working with all interested parties to do so. Cooperation and compromise will be key to balancing the budget quickly but not balancing it on those who can least afford the added burden.
He makes that 50% of the deficit sound like it's too much to be handed off to a small service tax. He also fails to note that there have already been significant cuts made to the budget since Granholm took office. Then he accuses the Governor of being irresponsible, because she didn't craft the right plan for Michigan.
Well, Senators Jelinek and Bishop, we're still waiting for your budget proposal. You guys have been claiming over and over to want to cut cut cut the government and cut cut cut taxes because it can easily be done with minimal pain. To these refrains you often add that not enough has been cut from the budget.
Governor Granholm put out her plan. You guys said no. A week after the State of the State we're still waiting. That's irresponsible.
Note: If you want to read more about how the budget cuts will be felt on people, you can read a lively and informed debate on Michigan Liberal between Eric B. (who writes the blog Among the trees) and Jack McHugh of the Mackinac Center.
Monday, February 19, 2007
In his first days on the job as the top Republican inside the Capitol, Mike Bishop is fighting for a bedrock GOP issue: not raising taxes.
If Republicans who control the state Senate can fend off a tax increase in 2007, Bishop says, the year will have been a success.
"If we can deliver that for the citizens of this state, I think that's a major victory," the new Senate majority leader from Rochester said.
I think it would be a major victory for the residents of Michigan if we decided to increase funding for education. There is no shortcut to bringing back prosperity to this state. It is going to take time and there's going to be pain in order to wean ourselves off the manufacturing-heavy auto industry and develop high-tech and bio-tech industries. Other states have already done this (for example California, New York, Minnesota, and Illinois). High-tech industries require a highly-educated workforce. Dollars toward education are an investment in the state's future. Cutting education is going to push us down toward becoming a Banana Republic.
And this is not helpful either:
"We can throw all kinds of money at subsidizing health care," Bishop said. "It doesn't solve the problem. It really treats the symptoms. We want to get toward those costs, and one of the ways you do it is trying to encourage people to take control of their own health."
In other words: get your own health care. Which is no different than, "I've got mine. Go get yours." The typical attitude of the Family Values Republican party. I find it particularly appalling when a Republican who has his health care paid for by the state government says he wants to let people buy affordable health care. Hello, Free Market Experts! If health care was actually affordable, there wouldn't be over 40 million uninsured people in this country.
While Granholm convened a group of experts and crafted a solution to our budget problems (both long-term and short-term) Bishop and the rest of his allies can only say "no." And when they do hint at what their plan is, it's nothing more than the old politics of greed and exclusion.
First it came out he was a smoker, who is trying to quit.
Then it came out he once bought land from a corrupt wheeler dealer by the name of Tony Rezko.
Then he was acccused of attending a madrasa as a child, which turned out to be completely false. And even if it was true, so what? He considers himself a Christian now anyway.
Then he was accused of not being black enough.
Then it came out that Obama was stiff and arrogant (and also "uppity") during his run against Rep. Bobby Rush for a Congressional seat.
Now he's a liar, according to this article in the LA Times, because he did not provide all the excruciating details in his memoir about a particular community organizing campaign he was involved in 20 years ago. Okay, he's not called a liar outright, but that's the clear implication.
You can always gauge the fear of a candidate's viability by the number and implausibility of the charges thrown at him or her. (Remember the Whitewater Big Nothing Scandal?) We're all hearing the same garbage about Hillary Clinton (she's too calculating, blah, blah, blah...as if no politician is calculating...Is the country even ready for a woman President?...clearly implying that we're too chauvinist a society to vote for a woman. What's next for her? That she's not woman enough? Oh, wait, they already smeared her with that in the early 90's because she wanted to reform Health Care and not sit back and be a prim Barbie Doll First Lady.)
If these are the worst things that can be said about Obama, and we're a year away from the first primary, then the right-wing smear machine is going to be working over-time to manufacture more sleaze to throw at him. To paraphrase Bette Davis "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy campaign."
Friday, February 16, 2007
Bonnie Nadel, a veteran Los Angeles literary agent, is weary of the questions she's constantly getting from Hollywood industry types: "They want to option a book for a movie or TV, and they'll ask how many copies the book has sold," Nadel said. "And I'll tell them I really don't know the exact number. I would need inside information, which is very hard to nail down."
The flabbergasted looks Nadel gets from people who are accustomed to poring over weekend movie grosses or overnight TV ratings underscores a telling reality about the not-so-modern book business. Publishers are notoriously reluctant to divulge sales numbers, and the complex, arcane nature of bookselling makes it hard to determine how well or badly a title is doing.
It makes Print On Demand (POD) look better by the day.
In the aftermath of 9/11 Americans became aware of the paucity of their knowledge of the Middle East. This is surprising given that the United States has been involved in the Middle East since its founding as a nation.
Michael B. Oren’s very readable and lengthy Power, Faith, and Fantasy—the first comprehensive history of America’s military, political and religious involvement in the area—should fill this gap. The title derives from the fact that America’s interest in the Middle East is as much the story of Protestant missionaries who helped shape our attitudes and policies in that turbulent part of the world as it is a history of America’s pursuit of its economic and political interests in the region.
You can read the full review here.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
"Congressman Mike Rogers office," says a woman's voice.
"Hello," I say, "I'm calling because I want Congressman Rogers to support the Democrats' resolution condemning President Bush's escalation in Iraq. I don't understand why he's equivocating. He says he's against Bush's strategy but yet he won't vote for the resolution condemning the strategy. I don't understand his position."
"Can I have your name and address?"
I give her my name and address. When she's done she says, "I'll forward your concerns to the Congressman and he'll be in contact with you about his position." Click.
I am assuming future contact about his position on his opposition to the resolution that opposes the escalation/surge strategy he also opposes will take place through the mail. Now that I write it out, it sounds like he opposes himself. Not sure how that works. Regardless, I'm looking forward to seeing him clarify his complicated position on a simple resolution.
For those of you that want to tell the Congressman how you think he ought to vote on this resolution, call 202-225-4872.
Meanwhile, I'll be checking my mailbox for that clarification, Congressman.
[Cross-posted on Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood]
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
What does the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce want?
They want companies that produce drugs to remain free from product liability lawsuits. They also want companies that produce drugs or herbal supplements to remain free from having to accurately describe the risks involved in taking such drugs or herbal supplements.
Their reasoning? It would be bad for the business climate in a state that's losing so many jobs from the auto industry downturn. Nice try. Pfizer is laying off people right now. Whether or not they can be liable the same way any other industry can is not the issue. Michigan hasn't seen the promised rush of pharmaceutical companies here since the "tort reform" bill passed in 1996, despite the fact that other states don't "protect" pharmaceutical companies in the same way. There is no cause and effect with the previous bill, other than to take away a form of legal recourse and justice for consumers.
Instead of attempting to play on Michigan citizens' anxieties about the job climate, the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce would be better off (and the state of Michigan better served) by continuing to focus its energies on enticing businesses to relocate here, encouraging businesses to grow, and boosting tourism. Not on a pet-peeve of the Republican party. So-called Tort Reform always means consumers lose out to the interests of well-funded Big Business.
You can read the full summary of House Bills 4044 and 4045 here. It says in part:
Together, the bills would eliminate the current ban on product liability lawsuits involving prescription drugs approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and would create a three-year window in which claims could be filed for injuries attributable to FDA-approved drugs during the time the ban was in place.
For House Bill 4046:
The Michigan Consumer Protection Act contains a list of actions that constitute unfair, unconscionable, or deceptive methods, acts, or practices in the conduct of trade or commerce, and that are unlawful. House Bill 4046 would add to that list:
Failing to accurately represent the risks involved in the intended use of a prescription or over-the-counter drug or medication or an herbal product, dietary supplement, or botanical extract.
You can read the full summary here.
These bills should pass through both houses and be signed into law by Governor Granholm. It's the right thing to do.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
There's a scene in C.S. Lewis' The Voyage of the Dawn Treader when Lucy, the hero, finds a magical book in which the pages come to life as she reads them. As a nerdy little kid, the idea enchanted me, and I desperately craved to have my own, real-life magic paperback.
So I was thrilled when Nintendo began advertising its new title Hotel Dusk: Room 215 not as a game but an "interactive mystery novel." Sure enough, it's pretty much what I'd dreamed of: You hold your DS sideways like a book, and watch as the pages come to life. Specifically, Hotel Dusk tells the noir tale of Kyle Hyde, a 33-year-old cop who shot his turncoat partner, hit the bottle and now works as a washed-up private dick who "finds things that don't want to be found." In the eponymous hotel, Hyde finds clues that seems to lead to his former partner.
Maybe I can convince my wife to buy me one just to check the game out for myself...
Monday, February 12, 2007
[L]anguage in it self is not genetic but a device within the brain capable of producing and understanding language is (often called the "Language Aquisition Device"). The "LAD", with the right environment, will provide a "Faculty of language". This "FL" will contain the syntax and grammar of any language a human is exposed to. Human beings devoid of human contact will not learn a human language. This has a certain bearing on the genetic component of language acquisition; a good genetic foundation will provide a base for good communication. The communication in it self is a social and cultural phenomenon. The emphasis on the genetic component of human language is often misunderstood to mean that languages are inherited within the brain. This is not the case. Languages exists primarily in a cultural environment; but our brains evolve to handle the rate and complexity of the languages "d'jour".
Saturday, February 10, 2007
It was here, in Springfield, where North, South, East and West come together that I was reminded of the essential decency of the American people - where I came to believe that through this decency, we can build a more hopeful America.
And that is why, in the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a divided house to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States.
I recognize there is a certain presumptuousness - a certain audacity - to this announcement. I know I haven't spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I've been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change.
The genius of our founders is that they designed a system of government that can be changed. And we should take heart, because we've changed this country before. In the face of tyranny, a band of patriots brought an Empire to its knees. In the face of secession, we unified a nation and set the captives free. In the face of Depression, we put people back to work and lifted millions out of poverty. We welcomed immigrants to our shores, we opened railroads to the west, we landed a man on the moon, and we heard a King's call to let justice roll down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
Each and every time, a new generation has risen up and done what's needed to be done. Today we are called once more - and it is time for our generation to answer that call.
You can read the entire text of his speech here. I watched it. It was great. He's such an inspiring speaker and leader.
His campaign web site is here.
Friday, February 9, 2007
A "very damning" report by the Defense Department's inspector general depicts a Pentagon that purposely manipulated intelligence in an effort to link Saddam Hussein to al-Qaida in the runup to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, says the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"That was the argument that was used to make the sale to the American people about the need to go to war," said Sen. Carl Levin (news, bio, voting record), D-Mich. He said the Pentagon's work, "which was wrong, which was distorted, which was inappropriate ... is something which is highly disturbing."No weapons of mass destruction and over 600,000 dead Iraqis. Was the war worth all that?
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
Afterwards, I heard the first naysayers begin their babbling...I tried to watch Tim Skubik's roundtable discussion about the speech when I had to turn it off. Not one of the old white guy panelists (Bill Ballenger, Ron Dzwonkowski from the Detroit Free Press, Detroit News blogger George Bulland, and Jack Spencer from MIRS, including Skubik himself) thought there was anything substantive in Granholm's speech. They granted that she admitted Michigan was in a tough spot, but that she remained absolutely positive about what she will do for Michigan. (It was as if they wanted her to be more negative and include more doom and gloom. Whatever. As if people in Michigan don't see it everyday with yet another announcement of a factory closing or the operating loses of one of the Big Three.) They complained there were no details about how to fix the fiscal mess we find ourselves in. They didn't like that they would have to wait two days before they would see the actual budget. They thought it wasn't even a state of the state address. They likened it to a campaign speech.
As annoyed as I was by the five, I was prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt. They are, afterall, professionals. And I am a newbie to the state of Michigan.
Then yesterday I read the speech for myself.
How wrong those five guys are.
(You can view the speech and the grumpy old men here. Before the speech starts, Tim Skubik sets his dubious tone by saying 53% of women approve of the job Granholm is doing and 44% of men don't. Actually, Tim, that's incorrect. 44% of men approve and 50% don't. See the poll here. )
Granholm touted all of the programs that are currently in place that are working (like the 21st Century jobs program that is a big success). Those are the basis for the new programs she's proposing, like the expanded job-retraining program for laid-off workers. It also fits with her theme of not cutting, but expanding education to the people of this state, arguing that a highly educated workforce is what will attract new businesses and create new jobs. She offered a mix of tax cuts and tax hikes.
Yet, the five old white guys were ambivalent at best about the speech and her remedies for what ails this state.
I haven't even gotten yet to the Republicans. They are in a class of Naysayership unto themselves. Let's start with this from the South Bend Tribune:
"You're trying to fix a problem by increasing government spending by $1 billion," Jelinek said. "I don't think that'll fly very high" in the GOP-controlled Senate.
On the House side, state Reps. Neal Nitz, R-Baroda, and Rick Shaffer, R-Three Rivers, both took shots at Granholm's tax hike proposals.
"Taxing our way out of the current budget crisis is not a permanent fix. We need to focus on reforming government bureaucracy to create a smaller, more efficient government," Shaffer said.
Hasn't reforming the bureaucracy been going on the last four years? Also, if you're in the hole for over $800 million, wouldn't gaining around $1 billion cover that shortfall?
Then today we find out some of the details about the mix of tax cuts and hikes, including a 2% sales tax on services. But again, the Republicans are not impressed:
Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, said in a news release that the governor was working in the wrong order.
"Before we consider the governor's proposed new taxes, there must be a serious focus on restructuring government to find revenue savings," he said.
"We must determine what government services are essential for the safety and well-being of Michigan citizens. Then we determine the revenue necessary for those services."After a few years in the House, you'd think by now that Sen. Bishop, the Tax Cut Advocate, would have a few inessential services at the tip of his tongue to rattle off. You would be wrong. Just echoes of the Anti-Tax Hike dogma of his Republican comrades.
And then there's this from the Detroit News: "Granholm's $1.5B tax hike will suck life out of Michigan"
And at a time when businesses are under economic siege, the governor wants to create a new business tax system that would encourage companies with branches here to move their operations out of Michigan, and those considering locating here to choose another state.
That doesn't seem like a smart plan to revive the economy.
Granholm is calling her tax hikes an "investment" in Michigan. But they would be more aptly described as another nail in the state's coffin.I like how the tax hike is now a half a billion more. Next to this opinion piece, is a picture of Granholm with her hand up with the caption "Gov. Jennifer Granholm wants to raise taxes to help balance the state's budget." Nice way to bring the point home. Other than screeching about a tax hike, this befuddled rant offers nothing on what the increased revenue would fund. Is the Detroit News against education for Michigan citizens?
BTW, if passed, this would be Granholm's first tax hike. Engler raised taxes more than a few times. Not to mention that more jobs were lost under Engler's watch than Granholm's.
As far as creating a hostile business climate, I don't buy any of what the Naysayers are telling people. Having recently moved here from California, I can tell you there are many more places to do business that are a lot less expensive than California. But yet, Silicon Valley, the Bay Area, and Southern California manage to create lots of jobs through new and expanding businesses. Why? A big reason is the readily-available educated labor pool that's there (helped by a number of universities like Berkeley, Stanford, UCLA, USC, UC Irvine, to name a few). Judging by the logic of Jelinek, Bishop, the Detroit News, and the rest of the Naysayers, California (as crazy as it can be sometimes) should be losing vast numbers of businesses and jobs. It's not. Businesses go where the talent is. Google set up an outpost in Ann Arbor for good reason.
Unless these Naysayers have specific ideas about how to increase funding for education and where the State Government needs to be "restructured" (code word for cut, meaning laying-off workers), they have no credibility when it comes to solving the very serious problems the state of Michigan faces.
I'm with Governor Granholm on this one. Not with the Naysayers.
I want to ask what reading would look like if we were to reintroduce, forcefully, the matter of time. Let's leave Evelyn Wood behind, and let's leave Franco Moretti behind, too. The mighty imperative is to speed everything up, but there might be some advantage in slowing things down. People are trying slow eating. Why not slow reading?
[Hat tip: Bookninja]
Nowak, a mother of three who recently separated from her husband of 19 years, faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree attempted murder .
"What we have is a desperate woman who wanted to have a conversation with the other woman," Nowak's attorney Donald Lykkebak said in court. "What they have charged her with is premeditated, ."
But police said Nowak intended to kill Shipman, 30, when she bought a knife, BB gun and other supplies, got in her car in Houston and made the nearly 1,000-mile drive to Orlando, wearing diapers so she would not have to stop along the way.
Monday, February 5, 2007
Consisting of 3,300 manuscripts in 11 languages — many of them richly illuminated in gold leaf and bright, jewel-like colors — the library's collection is second in number and importance only to the trove at the Vatican. With manuscripts made as early as the 6th century, the Sinai cache consists mainly of scriptures, sermons and texts for religious services, but it includes classical Greek literature and a few medical texts with herbal remedies for various afflictions.
Sunday, February 4, 2007
Friday, February 2, 2007
I tried to check out the Million Penguins site, but it's currently down.
Update: It's up now. You can view it here.
Thursday, February 1, 2007
Just type the words "Wal-Mart" and "sues" into any search engine and you'll see a bunch of results. Try the same with Target or K-Mart, or just about any other big-box retailer and you won't get much at all. Somehow, Wal-Mart's competitors manage to build what they need on land they own without having to sue the local municipalities to do it.
Apparently, Wal-Mart likes to sue the small towns they claim to be helping by providing jobs and delivering low prices.
- In 2005 Wal-Mart sued Turlock, CA for denying its request to build a Supercenter.
- In 2005 Wal-Mart sued Miramar, FL for denying its request to build a Supercenter.
- In 2003 Wal-Mart sued Macomb, IL for denying the store a liquor license.
- In 1999 Wal-Mart sued Chandler, AZ for denying its request to build a Supercenter.
- In 2006 wal-Mart sued Hercules, CA for the city's use of eminent domain against them.
This last suit galls me in particular. In my original hometown of Northlake, IL, where I was raised, the town used eminent domain to level hundreds of homes, a public playground, and the 72-lane Town & Country bowling alley so that a Wal-Mart and Sam's Club could be built. This was back in 1991. So, let me get this straight: Wal-Mart likes eminent domain when it allows them to kick people out of their homes and build what they want. But when a town like Hercules uses eminent domain to reclaim land Wal-Mart owns, then suddenly it's not okay?
As for all those claims about Wal-Mart's benefits in a given town? The impact is likely to be mixed according to this study.
You can find a lot more negative information about Wal-Mart here and here.
You can find a nice long article extolling Wal-Mart's virtues here.
Meanwhile, every dollar my township has to spend defending itself, is a dollar that could go to improving roads, sidewalks, parks, and any number of other things. So when some entity forces my community to change its spending priorities, instead of the ones decided on by our elected officials, I really don't appreciate it. Wal-Mart didn't elect our Township Board. The residents of Meridian township did. So Wal-Mart won't be getting any of my business anytime soon because I won't shop at a place that's suing my community. I don't appreciate being sued. I guess I'm kind of funny that way.