Sunday, October 08, 2006

I've moved.

I have moved to a new location.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

DeVos and Anuzis Mislead on Financial Disclosure

UPDATE (Oct 5, 10:00 AM): Common Cause MI came out with an opinion on the financial disclosure. Perfect timing on this bill!

Dick DeVos has refused to disclose his tax returns, an unprecedented move in modern day gubernatorial elections. Instead, he has opted to release a "financial disclosure statement". This so-called financial disclosure contains serious omissions, such as DeVos' involvement in nursing homes that allowed the abuse of patients with Alzheimers. This shocking revelation has caused many of us to ask, "what else does he have to hide?"

On the other hand, the Republicans would have you believe that DeVos' financial disclosure is actually comprehensive. To back up their claim, they cite an assessment of his disclosure by Michigan's Common Cause. This is a lie. In fact, the MI Common Cause hasn't even looked at DeVos' financial disclosure, much less commented on it.

At yesterday's debate (around the 42:33 mark of the audio file), Dick said:

My disclosure, called by Common Cause here in Michigan as the most complete disclosure of anything that any previous candidate for Governor, laying out all of the ownership interests that I have... (audio clip)

On his blog today, Saul said:

This Governor is willing to say just about anything to get re-elected. She also had the audacity to complain about Dick DeVos' financial disclosure statement when Michigan's Common Cause called it the most extensive financial disclosure of any candidate for public office...ever.

My "gut feeling" was that these statements were either somehow distorted, or completely untrue. I couldn't find anything on the subject after a quick Google search. DeVos says that his disclosure was "complete," but it somehow conveniently left out Alterra.

I decided to e-mail the chair of Common Cause Michigan, who also happens to be a professor here at U of M. While making it clear that he hadn't actually seen the disclosure and therefore couldn't comment on its adequacy, he did say that his organization had never actually reviewed it. From his e-mail:

I'm trying to track down that quote. As chair of common cause in Michigan I didn't say it. And there isn't much to the organization other than me at this point. I have a friend who is talking with campaign people to see where this came from.

I haven't seen the statement so I'm agnostic on whether it's a model or not.

There you have it -- Common Cause Michigan never said that about DeVos' financial disclosure. I find it ironic that in a post about how Granholm will supposedly "say anything to get re-elected", Saul demonstrated that he is the one that will stoop to any level to win.

If there was nothing to hide in his tax returns, they would be upfront about all of this and told the truth from the beginning. What are they hiding? More importantly, what do these falsehoods and cover-ups say about whether we can trust DeVos or not?

(cross-posted on Michigan Liberal)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Granholm / DeVos Debate on Michlib

Check out WK's diary. These were my comments:

Once again, this guy is just going through his con man routine. Anyone who has run Amway for around a decade knows how to spin the heck out of anything and sound convincing. He may be a little awkward, but I can almost guarantee you that he isn't new to this kind of thing. Plus, he's got all of his expensive Amway-purchased consultants telling him what to do.

I'm more interested in seeing how this debate format goes over more than anything else. This is all assuming that the debate format is actually going to be what Skubick said it is in one of his columns ("open" format with no rules):

If its true, I'm happy to see an environment that could potentially throw them off their game and off of their scripted talking points. Will it turn into a shout match? There is clearly an incentive to try and monopolize the time / shout louder than the other person.

If the similarly formatted Brewer/DeWitt/Anuzis/Truscott debate on "Off The Record" is any indication, counter-arguments are going to be a lot more important than usual IMO. Having more counter-arguments means that you have more "stuff" to fill time with than the other candidate. This means that while you're talking, they're not. In an "open" format, this is the ideal position to be in.

Counter-arguments are also more important because a topic of discussion can continue on indefinately (until Skubick decides to force a change of subject, basically). Typically, the order is: moderator gives question, candidate 1 answers, candidate 2 answers, and sometimes afterward candidate 1 follows up, candidate 2 follows up after that, and then the subject is done. The advantage of this format is that each candidate has an equal amount of time to fully develop an argument and convey a message the way they want to. The disadvantage is that we don't get to really see how each of these messages stack up against each other. With this proposed format, we won't necessarily have an equal amount of time for each candidate or as fully developed messages, but the candidates could need more than just one or two counter-arguments if the discussion carries on past one rebuttal.

If Skubick is good, he'll also make them actually answer the question that is being asked. Normally in debates, the moderator asks a question and then the responder can say anything they want, so candidates are able to keep really "on message" and not get distracted. In this case, he can ask follow-up questions in the middle of their monologues and hopefully hold them accountable for what is actually being asked. I don't know if he's actually going to do that, but at least there is that potential.

Like most debates, it is the "spin war" that needs to be won. Most of the people actually watching are already decided anyway. What the debate really does is help to define the "story" that is told by the media.

Friday, September 29, 2006

New Republican Governors' Association Ad -- this is the best you can do!?

So, the Republican Governor's association has unleashed a new ad attempting to tie Governor Granholm to Michigan's failing economy. You can watch it here (Quicktime format). Hat tip to Saul Anuzis for the heads up.

I can see what they're going for here, with the wind noises and Granholm saying that "you'll be blown away" and such. Very cute.

That being said, I think they're wasting their money here. Despite how desperately DeVos and the MI GOP have tried to hammer it in, voters simply don't accept the idea that Granholm is responsible for the current state of our economy, because they know its just not true.

Aside from their focus on a failed strategy, Granholm comes off as the best part of this ad. Her optimism, energy, and dedication all shine through in their clips. Sure, people that think she's full of hot air are going to have their beliefs reinforced by this ad. However, those people are already convinced anyway -- I don't see how this is going to help their turnout or convince any new voters.

Kos came to Ann Arbor, other updates

UPDATE (6:00 PM): Matt has audio and a partial transcript on Michlib. Go check it out.

Also, here is my comment in response to another (thoughtful) post in the diary about the Kos visit:

Very gutsy comment to make here! I'm glad to see some controversy about this.

To an extent, I understand and agree with what you're saying. Kos clearly favors challengers that are "sexy" enough to tell a good story and keep his readers engaged. I think that another factor in his decision-making process is that Michigan is considered to be a "swing state," and they feel that swing states get enough attention as it is (to the detriment of the rest of the party). Kos hasn't really covered Michigan proportionately and probably doesn't have the interest in it anyway. When he does cover it, its pretty superficial and doesn't convey an understanding of what's really going on in Michigan. I also agree that MI-Gov will have a significant impact on the future of our party at the national level, and merits the full attention of national organizations.

However, I would argue that it is the role of the DNC, Democratic Governors Association, and the MDP to deal with this race accordingly, not kos. Kos doesn't work under the Democratic Party and doesn't owe anyone anything, including us. He generated his readership through his own unique approach and philosophy, and (although I don't want to speak for him) I would assume that's where his loyalties lie. That's why people like me flock to him.

Ultimately, its not kos' job to win Michigan -- its ours. Kos has a limited amount of "real estate" on his blog and can only really focus on a few races. What kos does is show us the way to affect the change we want through our own activism. I think that's part of what the "netroots" philosophy is about, and why local and state-level blogging is so important.

In that sense, I think we actually have something a lot more powerful than what kos could ever offer us -- our own organized network of progressives talking about the things we care about. A front page article on Daily Kos may give us some short-term gains, but after that its gone. On the other hand, what we do here on Michigan Liberal has substantial long-term benefits.

We methodically chip away at the MI GOP's attacks and misinformation, while supporting our own candidates and values. We have our own group of local bloggers that understand the issues that matter to Michigan and are more well-suited to talk about Michigan than what kos could ever conceivably do for us. We've networked ourselves and will sustain this infrastructure even after the election is over, which provides long-term benefits to our party and our causes. Unlike the national websites, we can maintain a constant narrative that opinion makers (like newspapers) in Michigan tap into on a daily basis for elections to come. For example, the organization that Paul Hackett and Mark Warner's supporters developed in Ohio and Virgina have continued to make gains in those areas long after the national attention from the blogs faded and these candidates personally left the scene. That's part of what kos was trying to explain to us, and I think we can help accomplish the same kind of thing here.

Personally, I don't think that having kos' attention would help us in terms of what we need to do. Especially given that the Governor's race deals with state issues, we're much more suited to understand and influence the ongoing debate. However, if we really want to nationalize our races, we need to get onto kos and start creating a buzz to make it an attractive race to talk about and get behind. The "system" is organic: we don't get attention by whining, begging, or posturing, but by conveying our excitement and enthusiasm about the race while working to support our candidate. Ironically, part of why I don't think we have that kind of presence on Daily Kos is because Michlib (and the rest of our network here) is such a fantastic venue to talk about "our" issues -- none of us have any incentive to go to dkos because our system is much more well suited for our own needs.

Maybe I was blinded because I was star-struck, but I truly believe that kos was interested in us and trying to help us. He really does value the local bloggers, and conversed with us in a way to get a better sense of what's really happening on the ground here. Yes he did talk about "his" races, but that was all in the context of what he was trying to teach us. He showed us what made those races "work," and brainstormed with us based on what we told him to try and develop our own strategy. In the end I think he gave us some very instructive advice.

So basically: Its not that kos doesn't care, but he just doesn't have the time/space to focus on MI-Gov and we didn't generate the kind of excitement to justify nationalizing our race. He doesn't work for us and doesn't owe us anything, but does take his cues from bloggers on the ground who do the work to make nationalizing an issue possible. We don't need dkos coverage because we are shaping the media coverage and working at this on a daily basis (thank you matt, wizardkitten). Despite the fact that its not his job to win Michigan for us, kos was interested in us and used his experiences to give suggestions to us about how to refine what we're doing here.

Ultimately, we have the power to lift ourselves up, and that's what the "netroots" is all about.

Hey all,

Firstly, I just wanted to apologize for the state of this blog recently. You might have noticed that I have barely posted any substantive content over the past couple weeks. I've gotten pretty busy with school and haven't been able to post like I used to -- I'm not sure if I'll be "on point" again until after the semester (and election) is over, unfortunately.

Secondly, Kos came to Ann Arbor, and it was sweet. If nothing else, it was great to chill with all the MI bloggers again. Hy Dudgeon, Cordelia Lear, John and Clint from the Granholm campaign, lpackard, matt (thanks for the beer), djtyg, David Boyle, and later emptywheel were all in the house. It was good to see others there that I knew from working at the Granholm campaign, UM Dems, and so on at Drinking Liberally. Drinking Liberally is a great concept, and I might swing by in the future.

Kos talked a lot about the stuff that's been on the front page of dkos recently -- including the Virginia, Montana, and CT races. He also touched on a lot of the same themes from Crashing the Gate (if you haven't, you have to read it). I wasn't going in aiming to beg kos to pay more attention to Michigan (that's not how it should work), but he had some great insight into how we can become more effective as bloggers.

What was more new from him was his talk about how in a race, both candidates have a chance to define themselves and their opponent, creating a narrative for the campaign. What makes an effective narrative/story is how that relates to peoples' values. I'm not explaining this very well, I don't think. A lot of what he said on the subject of winning elections was very similar to what Lynn Rivers said in a class I took on campaigns, as well as a couple books I've read (an election strategy book by Ronald A. Faucheux and a book on how to win a local election by Lawrence Grey).

Finally, kos was really down to earth. He talked to the MI bloggers for 20 mins or so before the Shaman Drum event, and was very chill at the Drinking Liberally event. I don't know how to describe it, but he just seemed so... normal. He was also very interested in what we had to say and getting a sense of how things are locally for us. It was pretty surreal -- I couldn't believe I was crammed in the same little car as kos!

Anyway, that's enough rambling for the moment. I'll try to bang something out this weekend. After I go read CTG again.

CORRECTION: Laura informs me that her car isn't "little." She is correct -- my apologies.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Kos in AA today!

via Daily Kos:

ANN ARBOR, Thursday, September 28th

Shaman Drum Bookshop
7 - 8 p.m.

Book discussion and signing with Markos. Sponsored by Young People for the American Way.

311-315 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI, 48104

Leopold Bros

Libations and debauchery with the local Drinking Liberally crowd.

523 S. Main Street
Ann Arbor, MI, 48401

Also, don't forget to come hang with the Michlib crew.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

MI-09: Nancy Skinner Liveblogging Right Now!

Stop by, check it out, ask a question...see who has offered to do a TV spot with Nancy!

Monday, September 25, 2006

"Women on the Road to Victory" pics

The event, a rally on the Diag (in Ann Arbor) featuring six women Senators, happened a couple Sundays ago. Sorry its been so long to upload the pics:

College Dems Chair Jamie Ruth

Amos Williams (our AG candidate... short speech, but it was very cool)

Our SOS candidate

State Representative Chris Kolb

Senator Barbara Boxer

Yes, this is the "Debbie Kills Babies" sign that caused the College Republicans to pull Morgan Wilkins from campus. As far as I have seen, this is the only existing picture of her actually holding the sign. Although it doesn't change the fact that what she did was wrong, she was very nice when I spoke with her and I feel bad about the way things went down for her.

The Michigan Daily's initial article on "Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day" eventually landed on CNN and other major outlets. You can read Howard Dean's letter to the RNC at Mojo Blog. A Daily Kos diary provides some insights to the situation as well.

DeVos at the Spartans Game

Here's what DeVos had to say on Saturday at MSU.

"Priority number one has got to be getting rid of the job-killing single business tax," DeVos said. "It's driving business out of Michigan, and it's punishing job creation."

Ummm... didn't your buddies in the state legislature already do that? As usual, DeVos is being deceitful by implying that he'll work eliminate a tax that is already scheduled for termination.

It would be more useful to know how, if at all, he plans to fund the 1.9 BILLION DOLLAR HOLE that is now in our budget as a result of the policies that he's advocated. Of course, we don't hear about that because campaigns are about fooling voters, not educating them.

Also, that's really cool, talking about the SBT at a football game. I'm sure the kids were real excited to hear about that.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Tony Trupiano Live on Firedoglake

Tony Trupiano is responding to comments live on firedoglake. Its an interesting read, especially in the context of how the DCCC decides which races to get behind.