Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Statistics Show DeVos and ABATE are Wrong on Helmets

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a dramatic increase in motorcycle fatalities is partly due to cyclists not wearing their helmets. The NHTSA noted that of motorcycle fatalities in 2005, "almost half of the people who died were not wearing a helmet". Given that a disproportionate number of fatalities come from helmet-less riders, the statistics show that not wearing a helmet increases the chance of a motorcycle death.

This is contrary to ABATE's assertion that motorcycle helmets have nothing to do with safety. That doesn't matter to Dick DeVos, though.

Claiming that "People are free to do what they want to do," DeVos has framed this as an issue of personal choice. DeVos understands that his support of a repeal of the helmet law, no matter how non-sensical, will earn him support from voters that would otherwise not bother showing up to the polls. Seeing how recently DeVos has gotten into motorcycles, his support of ABATE is purely a political gesture.

I believe strongly that government should not intervene in the personal choices and lives of its citizens. However, the problem with a repeal of the helmet law is that its societal costs are imposed upon all of us, despite the fact that wearing a helmet should be common sense. The "personal choice" argument doesn't apply here because we all pay the price for helmet-less riders. The Saginaw News skewered legislators' repeal of the helmet law today, citing some of these costs:
Riding without a helmet is clearly a higher risk and it costs Michigan taxpayers more for catastrophic health claims -- millions more -- and insurance.

And unlike the disingenuous "personal responsibility" argument used in the helmet debate, there's no clamor in the Legislature to repeal Michigan's mandatory seat-belt law. That's because Congress ties seat-belt use in states to federal highway appropriations. So the state would lose some of its transportation funding if it repealed the seat-belt law.
DeVos has shown that he is willing to endanger peoples' lives and cost taxpayers millions of dollars in catastrophic health claims for his own political gain. On the other hand, Granholm opposes a repeal of the helmet law even though it is politically costly, because she knows its the right thing to do for Michigan. Who would you rather have as your Governor?

(cross-posted on Daily Kos)

MI-Gov: More Debate News

DeVos discussed the debates a bit in a bus interview:
On the announcement the Granholm campaign accepted television-station invitations to debate, without completing negotiations with the DeVos camp: DeVos called the governor's actions "disrespectful" and "childish," but said debates likely would happen.
That's not how the Granholm campaign sees it. According to Team Granholm, DeVos was the one to unilaterally accept debate offers without consulting the Granholm campaign.
"Mr. DeVos, while accepting television debates in the Grand Rapids and Lansing area, seems to have completely forgotten about Detroit and southeast Michigan, so we are remedying his mistake by agreeing to a television debate at WXYZ-TV," explained Edelson.

The Granholm Campaign had proposed that neither side accept or reject any debate invitations until campaign representatives from both sides could meet after the party conventions. However, the DeVos Campaign ignored that request and unilaterally began accepting various debate invitations. Therefore, the Granholm Campaign decided it would also announce which debates it was accepting, two of which the DeVos Campaign had previously accepted, at WOOD-TV and on Michigan Public Television.

MI-Gov and the MCRI

The so-called "Michigan Civil Rights Initiative" will be on the ballot this November. U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow could not keep the MCRI from appearing on the ballot because its supporters did not violate the Voting Rights Act. However, he did acknowledge the systematic voter fraud that its promoters engaged in.
Tarnow, however, said voters should be concerned by the supporters' conduct. If it passes, he said, it will be "stained by well-documented acts of fraud and deception."
The bad press is unlikely to hurt Republicans, who want nothing to do with the MCRI. Interestingly enough, even Dick DeVos has publicly stated his opposition to the ballot initiative. Ward Connerly, the California businessman behind the MCRI, has previously bemoaned the impact that DeVos' opposition to the initiative has had on his fundraising abilities. Connerly made these comments last week on "Off the Record,"
Speaking at a taping of the public television program "Off the Record," Connerly said, "People don't want to get on the bad side of Dick DeVos."

Republican DeVos has said he believes the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative goes too far, and has joined his Democratic opponent, Gov. Jennifer Granholm, in opposing it.

Connerly said potential GOP contributors to MCRI fear being on the outs with a DeVos administration if he is elected.
Given that DeVos has a clearly documented history of supporting very conservative causes and his socially conservative positions on many issues in this race, it would stand to reason that he would be in favor of the MCRI. However, this is not the case. DeVos is afraid of the effect that the MCRI will have on turnout in areas such as downtown Detroit, Flint, and Saginaw. It has often been speculated that Engler beat Blanchard in 1990 because of Blanchard's sub-par performance in Detroit. In such a close race, it is in DeVos' interests to keep Detroit from performing well for Granholm.

Thomas Bray of the Detroit News speculated today that DeVos' positioning on the MCRI and other issues may hurt his conservative credentials. In a column on DeVos' decision to criticize President Bush for not meeting with auto executives, Bray had this to say:
Nobody doubts DeVos' credentials as a Republican. But even before turning on Bush, DeVos had endorsed a higher state minimum wage, lectured oil companies to cut prices and come out against a referendum that would put an end to racial preferences in state hiring and admissions.

Maybe voters are beginning to wonder who DeVos really is. If Republicans should have learned anything by now, when voters are presented with a choice between a Democrat and a Republican who acts like a Democrat, they will choose the real Democrat every time.
As WK previously mentioned, many conservatives are likely more concerned with ousting Granholm than thrilled with DeVos.
"I think Dick still has some work to do to excite social conservatives about his candidacy," he said. "I trust at some point between now and November he will talk about the foundational values -- marriage and the protection of life."

He said social conservatives were more focused on ousting Granholm.

"I think there is more energy about removing Granholm than enthusiasm for electing Mr. DeVos," Glenn said.

Michigan Way Of Life

The Stabenow Campaign has released a new ad entitled "Michigan Way of Life." Check it out!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My Friends Need Help

From David:

Hi everyone,

I am writing this because I believe that the blogosphere can impact politics. It did not occue to me until today that I could use it impact issues that affect me. So I am asking for everyone's support in helping me change legislation in Washington. The issue is one, that I feel at least, should have bi-partisan support. Please read and comment and if possible contact Carl Levin's office to support them taking a position on my proposal. Let's prove that America's government can be responsive for positive change. Thank you and I thank you for your support in advance (I promise this is the one and last time I will try to advance an agenda for myself and possibly very few to no one else - thank you!)

Here is the rest from from my blog:

This is a (slightly edited from what I sent them for personal reasons) letter to Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, who has failed to respond to my questions on this issue very dear to me in the past. Ironically the only person who has replied is Congressman Joe Knollenberg but his response showed an obvious lack of understanding of the issue, or the premise of what I was writing as his 'pseudo-form letter' did not address any of my specific concerns. But Senator Levin has stated this is an issue of importance to him and so I am focusing on him.

Dear Senator,

My name is David A Wishinsky. I am an adoptee born in Canada and adopted by two Americans from New York. As I am sure you are aware, our nation's system of immigration is tedious. There are many confusing and contradictory rules and the process does not always run as smoothly as one would hope.

For me, my story with America's immigration system occured very early in life. I was born in Toronto, to biological parents whom I do not know. I was blessed to be adopted by two devoted and loving parents who were always forthright with me which is why I haven't ever not known that I was adopted. I could not have been more fortunate. I am sure that my life is far better than it would have been had the adoption not occured and this is the reason I am sure that both you and I are proponents of adoption.

My parents seeking to include me not only in their family but in their nationality also, attempted to get me American citizenship. They were routinely rebuffed because being adopted, I did not qualify in the same manner that natural born children would. After years and years of this being the case reform came in 1996 when President Clinton signed sweeping immigration reform into place that seems to have changed my circumstances - this reform has allowed my younger sister to become an American citizen. Unaware of this change care of immigration regulation confusion at the U.S. Consulate in Toronto, on April 15, 1999 I turned eighteen and unbeknowest to my family my ability to gain instant American citizenship ended as my parents still resided in Canada. Two months after this date we applied for a green card for me. It still has not been issued because my father (who is my sponsor) still lives in Toronto and is unable to be a financial sponsor.

As I mentioned earlier, American immigration law is full of pitfalls and contradictions and in my situation I found many. For example, the irony that my father when speaking with INS officials in Buffalo, NY found that he could not sponsor me financially even if he were to leave money in a trust for the US government to utilize should I become destitute. Or the irony, that I am living in Farmington Hills with F-1 status and that my parents have demonstrated the ability to pay in excess of $100,000 in tuition to Michigan State University, yet there is concern over their ability to cover my the cost should I ever require food stamps.

I am a political science student at Michigan State University, I have been active in supporting Democrat candidates within the state, as you can see in letters to the editor I have had published in both the Detroit Free Press and Lansing State Journal this summer. I was raised in a politically aware family and American politics has always fascinated me. Yet it was not until today that the idea of using my blog as a message to get my story out was a good idea. So you can find a copy of this letter at also.

Your office has failed to respond to me in the past, I hope this new public plea will help change that. With immigration reform a hot issue in Washington, I ask you this: Please reform America's immigration laws so that adoptees are treated the same as natural born children. As a society we all deplore the idea of abortion whether or not we agree with its availability - everyone sees adoption as the best alternative. Yet the government then counters that with an immigration policy that says, adopted children just are not the same. I ask you to reform this policy so that I too can rejoice in my family's background because whether or not Washington recognizes me, I have been raised to be an American and identify myself as such.

Thank you for your time, I look forward to receiving your


David A Wishinsky

From Jordan over at the Skinner Campaign:

Michigan bloggers, are we up to the challenge? We have been severely underrepresented in the national blogosphere. The netroots is afire over Connecticut, and there are plenty of “Netroots Candidates” from the west and the south. But where is Michigan? We are a solid blue state. As Governor Granholm told us at the blogger caucus, no electoral math gives us a Democratic president but a red Michigan. We have three highly competitive house seats. That is one fifth of what Democrats need to take back the house. Three seats- few enough to concentrate our resources, but still one fifth of what our party needs to take back the house. We have a responsibility to our party to give em hell in these districts, and start laying the groundwork for a strong MI Blogosphere for the ’08 Presidential.

This is a special year, we all can feel it. MI-09 is a statistical tie, we are raising enough money to catch the DCCC’s eye in MI-08, and we have a hell of a candidate in MI-11.

We can use the national netroots to our advantage, if we organize. All of you should have accounts at the two biggest Democratic blogs: http://www.DailyKos.... and I am putting together an email list to build a community of Michigan bloggers who can help strengthen Michigan's blogosphere. If you would like to help Michigan and receive updates let me know: There are only 70 days until the election, if you don’t take the time to read a few emails, recommend a few diaries, and post a few comments you know you’re going regret it if we don’t take the house. So participate, then we can all blame the voting machines!

Some of us have already been trying to make Nancy Skinner MI-09 a netroots candidate. Nancy is the perfect choice of our 3 targets in Michigan. Let’s face it, with 425 Democratic House candidates; the netroots has to be choosy. For example, Jim Marcinkowski in MI-08 is a great guy, and the perfect choice to take on Mike Rogers. I have one of his tshirts, and a sign for my car. However I do not see the progressive blogosphere getting excited about his candidacy.

However Nancy Skinner already has a netroots presence. She attended Yearly Kos, she has written on Daily Kos, and there are plenty of diaries and comments on Daily Kos about her. She won $2,000 in DFA’s Grassroots All Star contest, and $5,000 in Mark Warner’s Map Changers contest, and earned a donation for coming in 3rd in Russ Feingold’s Progressive Patriot contest. Votes mean supporters, and Nancy has them. This sets her apart from Marcinkowski and Trupiano. Having name-id from her talk show past and appearances on cable news and Air America don’t hurt either ;)

Besides, one thing I’ve noticed about the netroots endorsed list is that there is a lack of women. Males outnumber females 16 to 3. Nancy is a candidate pro-choice progressive women everywhere can get excited about.

So- an email list to promote Michigan related news, and a coordinated campaign to get Nancy Skinner endorsed by the netroots. If Nancy does get endorsed, money comes in from nationwide and the Michigan blogosphere can rally behind our other two candidates. Two solid first steps to building Michigan’s blogosphere and our credibility. If we get active and involved, and a Democrat wins in the 9th district, you know we are going to get some credit: the Republicans have had the seat since the 1930’s!!!

I also think we should also follow our Governor’s advice and rally behind MichiganLiberal as THE Michigan blog. Of course anyone with their own blog should write there as well, but cross posting to MichLib gives out of staters an opportunity to stay informed while only checking 1 Michigan blog- great if we want to build support nationally.

Your thoughts?

Edit: In the interest of full disclosure, I am a volunteer on Skinner's campaign. I have also offered to do the same work for Marcinkowski. The arguments I make for trying to get Nancy endorsed by the netroots are accurate, and I believe with only 70 days until the election she has the best shot of getting the endorsement because we have already laid the groundwork. As she told us at the bloggers caucus, she has spoken with Markos of Daily Kos and he said that for her to get endorsed more of her local people must promote her. Markos says now all Nancy needs is more support on national blogs. We can do that. Any other candidate would need more than that.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

MDP Convention Update

A bit more information regarding the convention showed up online after yesterday's post:
  • emptywheel, who did a superb job at the Blogger's Caucus, added a diary on Daily Kos that discusses the AG nomination extensively. From the post:
  • I'll tell you what. Yesterday, I was determiend to work to get Granholm re-elected. But today, I'm really excited to go tell people about our superb candidate for Attorney General.
  • Nancy Skinner's blog has some coverage of her speech on the second day of the convention. Someone post it on YouTube!

  • More discussion of the AG and SOS nomination at Daily Kos ("MI-Dems: We Just Had an Interesting State Convention")

  • Some more pictures are online as well. Sharonrb was nice enough to leave a comment and let me know that she has pictures of the convention. Many of these include more pics from the blogger's caucus. Also, Christine Barry has a lot more pictures from the convention, including some from the CD04 Caucus meeting.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Bloggers and the MDP Convention, Day 1

My (brief) thoughts and observations from the MDP Convention today. I try to avoid "blogging about blogging" as much as possible, but I decided to indulge myself this once. Read on, folks...

The Blogger's Caucus
  • The Blogger's Caucus was really cool. We had a lot of candidates show up, including our Governor and Senator at the same time! Most of the candidates came in, spoke for a bit, and left. This is understandable, especially given the time constraints. It was really great to get so many candidates, but the downside is that it didn't leave much room for conversation.
  • Speaking of the candidates, I apologize if I leave any candidates out!
  • Andy Coulouris, Democratic nominee for the 94th Michigan House of Representatives, showed up to the Blogger Caucus today. I volunteered for Andy's campaign on the weekends and learned a lot about local politics in the city of Saginaw, voter ID, and GOTV in the process. He used MySpace in his campaign to attract volunteers, and he generally shows a lot of love for grassroots activists. I appreciated that he actually spent time observing the Blogger Caucus and listening to everyone, instead of just getting in and rushing out (again, not that there was anything wrong with the candidates that did that, either!)
  • Matt mentioned that the MI Republicans have been trying to make a Republican weblog modeled after Michlib that includes the ability to post diaries and participate with other users. Thanks to blogs like Michigan Liberal, Daily Kos, MyDD, and others, we're way ahead of them on this!
  • Stabenow came early on. I didn't get the sense that she reads blogs regularly (not everyone has the time for that or can make it a priority), but she was supportive enough to grace us with her presence.
  • Granholm "gets it" when it comes to the Michigan netroots. I already knew that she reads Michlib religiously, but it became clear that she also understands the dynamics behind blogs structured like it. I've seen her speak in a wide variety of situations, and I think that she demonstrated her understanding of the blogs through the unique way that she spoke with us. She was on message, but she used some different techniques in conveying it, and gave us some of her suggestions for how we can be more effective as a collective. She notices who posts and what they post, which was made clear through the way that she tried to familiarize herself with everyone in the room. Also, the unsolicited "I have to say hi to who got the gravy here," was sweet.
  • Okay, that was hysterical when Granholm realized who David Boyle was -- I worried about what might have happened. David (very cool guy) has some... creative ways of expressing his dissatisfaction with some of the Governor's policies on dkos and michlib. He also got in an e-mail argument with Dan Mulhern, which he later posted on Daily Kos. She was very gracious and appreciated his role as a dissenting voice. David was very good-natured about it too. I think its one of those things where you had to have been there. I couldn't stop laughing, though.
  • Nancy Skinner was great -- of all the candidates, I think I enjoyed her talk the most. It was a bit wordy and there was a lot of name dropping, but that was perfect for her target audience (a.k.a. us). Like Granholm, she's also demonstrated a clear understanding and appreciation for the netroots, particularly at the national scene. She pointed out that blogs generate buzz and help pick good candidates.
  • The fact that Skinner is a former radio and TV personality was clear in her messaging and the way she views the blogs, which is a good thing. She is very direct and not afraid to say what is on her mind, which is a very refreshing change of pace from the usual. She seemed to imply that blogs provide a good alternative source of information when the regular news fails to pick up on stuff. Her own blog is excellent - Jordan does a great job and her posts are neat too (like the one about her experiences with fundraising).
  • She didn't say it outright, but I think that Skinner wasn't completely happy with the blog coverage of her race at the local level (unhappy that coverage doesn't exist). In particular, the sense that I got was that there is a lack of representation for Skinner by locals at websites like Daily Kos. In terms of MI Congressional Candidates I've always been the most excited about her, but I'm not a resident of the district and I don't want to talk about it without fully understanding the local issues. Understandably, most of the local blogger focus seems to be on the Governor's race.
  • Marcinkowsi lamented the impact that advertising has on the mass media. No argument from me!
  • It looks like David LaGrand has an interesting race ahead of him. It would be awesome if we could take that seat from DeVos' own turf, which makes it a great race to give some attention to. He had a great story about Betsy DeVos too!
  • Rep. Andy Meisner swung by as well. I'm very interested to see how the House leadership race plays out.
  • Rebekah Warren stopped in as well -- she had a campaign blog through her primary. Ann Arbor politics fascinates me.
  • It was explained to us that donating online for Michigan House and Senate candidates using a system similar to ActBlue is complicated. I really wish that we'd have something like that up, but apparently it would be pretty expensive to look into it.
  • Appreciated the talk on how to grow the Michigan Blogosphere -- too bad we ran out of time! Be sure to check out
  • Finally, Matt was the star of the show. He could have easily gone in a completely different direction, but instead Matt effectively explained what makes all of this work: the community. His story was very personal and I'm sure that more than a few people in the room identified with it and were inspired to start blogging.
Convention Speeches and Other General Convention Stuff

  • It was neat to see some real energy and controversy over the AG nomination. We all know how its going to end, but having that floating in the background made things much more interesting.
  • As WK pointed out, so much paper! Most of which probably actually wasn't read.
  • Generally, Democrats seem to be very cheery people and open to conversation. It was exciting meeting all kinds of new random people, especially other fellow activists from Saginaw.
  • Very cool to see many of the Michigan bloggers all assembled in one place at "Blogger's Row."
  • IMO Kwame was the second best speaker next to Granholm in the main auditorium. I've seen Kwame speak and I know how good he is, but he still somehow seems to impress and surprise me every time. Regardless of what people may think of him, he really understands how to turn a phrase and work a crowd. "Some people are saying 'Amway, Amway, Amway'...we're saying 'no damn way.'"
  • One of the things that I found to be the most incredible about Granholm's speech was that she can effectively take anything and infuse it with energy and excitement. Instead of simply reading off a list of businesses in Michigan, she worked the crowd by simply switching up her speech patterns. I know that people didn't know what all of those companies did, but they were still hanging on her every word.
  • My favorite parts of the Granholm speech: "You may not have a lobbyist with a fancy don't need one. You have me." "You can buy a whole lot of blue smoke for two billion dollars...but eventually that smoke is going to clear." The A-Z thing. The crowd spontaneously chanting "four more years."
  • I've heard Senator Stabenow speak a few times and I like her "race to the bottom" message. It is a simple and compelling argument, and it makes for great quotes and soundbites. Still, I don't envy anyone that has to follow Granholm on stage.
  • Kwame introduced UM Dems own Aghogho Edevbie, who introduced the Governor. I was totally caught off guard, but I was thrilled to see a fellow College Dems member up there! I really identified with his message about Michigan being a great place to live.
  • Speaking of the College Dems, it was fantastic to see so many high schoolers and college students out in force at the Convention. One of the things that Kos and Armstrong touch on in Crashing the Gate is how vital it is to make sure that the next generation of Democratic activists stay involved in the party so we continue to remain strong. I definitely saw that going on today.
Bloggers, Michlibbers, and Others

I know I am forgetting some people here. Apologies in advance.

The coolest part of the convention was undoubtedly meeting the other blogger's (and Michlib regulars) that I've been reading and interacting with over the past few months. In a lot of ways it was very surreal, but the cool factor far outweighed that. Shout outs for particular people that I appreciated meeting or running into (again, not a complete list, and in no particular order):

  • djytd. He was kind enough to let me borrow his computer.
  • Jordan, the blogger from the Skinner campaign. Of everyone that I met today, I was the most surprised and impressed by Jordan. From reading his posts online, I totally thought he was thirty or something. It turns out that he's actually a junior in high school. This kid is a rising star and worth keeping an eye on. I'm excited about the day that he'll start his own blog! Also, Nancy Skinner gave him props at the Blogger's Caucus, which must have been cool for him.
  • Jon Koller. Given that we both go to UM, I was surprised that I hadn't ran into him yet -- I was missing out. I'd actually been reading his old blog before I ever discovered Michigan Liberal, and so today it was neat to get his perspective on how the Michigan blogosphere is evolving.
  • LiberalLucy. I met her before at the get-together in Lansing. She's the kind of person that its easy to feel comfortable around very quickly -- its a great quality to have.
  • David Boyle. I always love reading David's stuff because no matter what, I know I'm going to have some kind of reaction to it. I'm always curious about what he's going to say next. In person, David is very relaxed and pretty funny.
  • Wizardkitten. I ran into her real early in the morning, so I first got used to meeting someone in person after already talking to them online with her. Next to Michlib I probably read her the most, so it was great to see that she was able to make it down.
  • Nazgul. He's another one that I've been reading for a while (and doesn't live too far away from me in Saginaw), so it was great to finally meet him. Republicans, watch out for this one!
  • Hy D. From his posts and comments at the convention, you can tell that he's been watching politics for a while. He's a fellow UM guy, which is always a plus!
  • Ron Suarez. He's the guy who knows a lot about RSS and some of the other technical aspects of blogging, and is also from Ann Arbor. I sat next to him at the now infamous "Blogger's Row." I've heard a lot of things from the opponents of Progressives of Washtenaw, so it was interesting to hear from a POW and future City Council member!
  • Cordelia Lear. What a lifesaver. She put together a fantastic guide to convention logistics for us first-timers, which I kept in my pocket through the day.
  • Christine Barry. Her blog is another one of my favorites. One of her blog posts posts (linked from lpackard's "Build the Michigan Blogosphere" posts on Michlib) was helpful in getting me started. Also, she kept my Congressional District Caucus entertaining!
  • lpackard and matt. Its clear that they work really hard to grow the Michigan blogosphere, and they have had a tremendous impact. I met them for the first time at a debate between Mark Brewer and Saul Anuzis, and it was talking with them that inspired me to finally make a concerted effort to have my own blog. Once I made the decision, I went to Michlib for the resources to do it. After I started posting, I went to Michlib to share my opinions, publicize my site, and get feedback. If nothing else, I'm glad to be a part of the blogosphere just to be a more informed participant of the democratic process, and I wouldn't have made a serious effort at it without them and the site.
  • I think that covers it in terms of bloggers. I'd also like to shout out Clint and John from the Granholm campaign (who show the bloggers a lot of love and run a great blog of their own), the Granholm campaign volunteer coordinator Mike Griffith, and everyone else from Team Granholm!
  • Also, shout out to everyone in the UM Dems.
Coverage Around the Internet

In case you're interested, I've put together some links with coverage of the convention from our fellow MI bloggers. This is an incomplete collection of what information is "out there." I'm sure a video of the Governor's speech will end up on YouTube, other people have audio that they recorded, and I know that Julielyn and some others have pics that aren't yet on the Internet.

My favorite post is probably from new blogger Laura Fisher, who has a step-by-step breakdown of the Blogger's Caucus at her blog a later date. She does a great job of capturing the mood of the room and how the focus of the Caucus evolved over time.

We've got some other bloggers commenting on the convention as well. Jordan's got some stuff up at Skinner's blog. Nazgul's got some good stuff too. Let me know if I missed anything -- I'm sure we'll be seeing more tomorrow.

Pics! Christine Barry has some great pictures from the convention online. Skinner's picture doesn't really do her justice -- she was very animated but it was in tune with the mood of the room that she was working up. David Boyle has pics of Granholm at the Blogger's Caucus over at (why can't I think of a clever name for a blog like that!?!?!?). WK's got her own pics and commentary as well.

The Granholm Campaign has a transcript up of her convention speech. She was incredible, but the transcript doesn't do her justice. Trust me, wait for video. My sympathies go out to anyone who has to follow her on any stage.

Finally, Matt and some of the others (like Jordan from the Skinner campaign) were blogging live during the speeches. Here are the threads:
Hopefully we see some exciting stuff tomorrow so we can do a part two! I know Jordan from the Skinner campaign, David Wishinsky, and others are planning on showing up.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Kos coming to Ann Arbor

Via Daily Kos:
I'll be heading out on a short campus tour in September to promote the paperback:

University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI
September 29

I go to U of M, so this is perfect for me! I've been meaning to grab a copy of Crashing the Gate anyway.

HD94: Bob Blaine and Ken Horn Talk Trash... Literally.

Michigan has been vulnerable to Canadian and out-of-state trash for two reasons: we have a lot of landfills and it is very cheap to dump here. Unfortunately, the influx of garbage because of these two factors has a significant impact on our environment and the quality of life in our state. Nobody wants to live or work around a landfill, which makes Michigan a much less attractive place to call home and locate businesses in.

Due to the incentives for dumping in Michigan, over 400 Canadian garbage trucks come to our state every day. According to Clean Water Action Michigan, over one third of all of the trash dumped in Michigan comes from out-of-of state sources. Furthermore, Michigan actually subsidized a large increase in the amount of space for landfills, which has made these problems worse.

Ken Horn (R) and Bob Blaine (D), candidates for the 94th District seat in the MI House of Representatives, clashed for the second time since the primary over the Canadian / out-of-state trash issue on Tuesday. From today's Saginaw News article ("Horn attacks Blaine over import trash fees"):
Horn criticized Blaine, who lives in Swan Creek Township, for advocating a $7.50-a-ton surcharge on trash to clamp down on out-of-state trash flowing into Michigan. The state charges 21 cents a ton today.

"I don't think taxing us out of problems is going to be the answer," Horn said. He said the proposal amounts to a $200 million tax increase a year on Michiganians.

"The powerful waste industry has a good friend, and his name is Ken Horn," responded Blaine, who like Horn is a veteran member of the County Board of Commissioners.

"Ken Horn is trying to keep the Canadian and out-of-state dumpers' free ride going. The only way to stop Canadian trash is to attack the economics of the trash trade. Horn and the trash industry know why trash comes to Michigan, and that is because it is cheap." (emphasis added)

Blaine takes a sensible approach to this issue. By removing one of the incentives to dump here, we decrease the demand for Michigan landfills. Given that it costs $7.25 per ton in Pennsylvania and $3 per ton in Wisconsin, our 21 cent surcharge is pretty low.

Despite all of their rhetoric about Canadian trash, the MI GOP has been completely ineffective on this issue. They appear to be unwilling to address the underlying causes of this problem. The most recent GOP trash "plan" would only stop Canadian trash if Congress gave Michigan the authority to do so (hasn't happened), and completely fails to address out-of-state trash (source). In addition, the House Republicans have done nothing to stop the increase in landfills in Michigan. Neither of these actions address the incentives for dumping in Michigan.

Based on Horn's previous statements, ("Candidates take aim at Canadian trash issue," August 18 Saginaw News) he implies that he would fall in line with his party and not address the root causes of this issue. However, he does make a compelling point about trade agreements as they pertain to Canadian trash.
"We can't stop Canadian trash, but we can't pull in Canadian (prescription) drugs," Horn said. "There's something fundamentally wrong with the trade system that we have."

While we're on the subject of HD94 (my district), it is worth taking a look at this race. Bob Blaine is pro-life, pro-gun, and seems willing to work very hard to try and take this seat. From what I hear, he has a very impressive door-knocking operation and is serious about meeting and connecting with voters. The odds are against him -- my district has an over 50% Republican base and almost always leans very Republican, but he is the perfect kind of candidate to flip the district and turn out some extra voters for Granholm. If you're in the area, consider writing a letter to the editor to the Saginaw News on this issue or contact the Coordinated Campaign about volunteering.

Finally, no post is complete without some shameless self promotion!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Survey USA released its job approval ratings for all 50 Governors. Jennifer Granholm has a 43% approval rating and a 53% disapproval rating, which is consistent with last month and very similar to the previous two months. It is tough to tell what the impact of the Granholm and DeVos ads have been.

In terms of our Senators, Carl Levin has 55% approval and 38% disapproval, and Stabenow has 51% approval and 42% disapproval (neither of which are surprising). More details about age group, race, ideology, education, etc. are available here.

In other news, the Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club released its "Environmental Scorecard" for Michigan Legislators. Any kind of "rating" system based on voting records needs to be taken with a grain of salt because an individual's advocacy for an issue can't just be measured by a series of yes or no votes. My State Representative Roger Kahn and State Senator Mike Goschka didn't do too well, which is not surprising.

Monday, August 21, 2006

SBT letter to the editor

My good friend David's letter to the editor appeared in today's Lansing State Journal. Its short, hard-hitting, and on message!

I find it amazing that the Republican Legislature has rid ourselves of the Single Business Tax in such an irresponsible manner, and I think voters should take note.

While everyone loves a tax cut, we all use services provided by taxes on a daily basis, whether they be roads, schools or the clean water coming out of our taps. The Legislature has decided to slash nearly a quarter of a budget and expects us to believe these services will all remain unhindered.

Ironically, if we are to make up the shortfall, it is now up to Republicans to raise other taxes to balance the budget.

I feel bad for Gov. Jennifer Granholm who worked so hard to pare the state's budget, only to have another Republican-created fiscal mess on her hands.

David A. Wishinsky

Farmington Hills

Sunday, August 20, 2006

More Youtube Fun

I now have my own racial slur, whoo!

Old news, but still hilarious.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Bill Clinton & Jennifer Granholm

Bill Clinton shares his thoughts on Governor Granholm, MI-Gov, and Granholm's economic plan.

Snakes on a Plane

I saw Snakes on a Plane tonight.

Best. Movie. Ever.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

New Stabenow Commercial

I heard that the Stabenow campaign put up its first commerical on TV today -- you can watch it at

My plugins are kinda screwy, so I'm waiting for it to show up on YouTube.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Amway Exposed, Part Four: Amway and Free Speech

The right to free speech is one of our society's most basic values, and one of the many reasons why I'm proud to call myself an American. When groups or individuals act to keep people from speaking their mind, they undermine one of the fundamental values that we all hold dear.

So what does this have to do with Amway?

A Michlib diarist recently explained that Alticor lawyers used ethically questionable legal tactics in an attempt to bully a critic about the way that he discussed a recent lawsuit.

Regrettably, this is not the first time that Amway/Quixtar/Alticor has used these heavy-handed tactics to silence critics. Amway has a long history harassing its critics and taking other extreme measures to keep negative information about themselves from reaching the public.

Let's take a look at a few examples:

Free Speech and Internet Criticism
  • Amway politely requested that a website owner remove negative information about Amway from his site. When this website operator refused to change anything on his website, they came back and threatened him with trademark infringement. These threats had no basis, and appeared to be aimed scaring the website owner into taking down his website (so that this negative information about Amway would no longer be available to the general public). This happened under Dick DeVos' watch at Amway.

  • Another website owner critical of Amway was served an illogical subpoena by Amway to determine whether he had a relationship to Proctor and Gamble, who Amway was engaged in a legal battle with. In a similar case, a District Court judge ruled that Amway's search of a critic's hard drive was a "burden" and "irrelevant" to Amway vs. Proctor and Gamble.

    The site operator was forced to choose between giving over his hard drive or paying over an estimated $3,000 in legal fees. In the end, he felt that it was easiest to just give his hard drive to Amway. It turned out that there was no link between the website owner and Proctor and Gamble, contrary to what Amway accused. This ordeal, which lasted over two years, is detailed in full here. It seemed to be little more than Amway's attempt to harass one of its online critics, and happened under Dick DeVos' watch at Amway.

  • Amway openly slandered another online critic on its website.

  • explains how, in the face of increasing criticism on the internet, Amway changed its policies to allow its distributors to talk about Amway on their own web pages. The rules about what could be discussed on these pages were strict, and their aim was to drown out the negative information regarding Amway available on the 'net. It also details how Amway attempted to secure information off of the hard drive of another critic to look for possible causes of action against that critic. In other words, they wanted the critic's hard drive so that they could punish him for speaking out about Amway. This happened under Dick DeVos' watch at Amway.

  • As mentioned previously, Amway used unfair arbitration agreements to unfairly silence their critics. This happened under Dick DeVos' watch at Amway.

  • An overzealous Amway Diamond made a death threat to a potential critic. While Amway didn't do this itself, it is astounding that they created an environment that could lead to this kind of behavior.
"Google Bombing"

This is related to suppression of Internet criticism in particular. Amway made a concerted effort to push websites critical of Amway very low on the Google PageRank, so that they would show up much later in search results.

From USC Annenberg's Online Journalism Review, "Companies subvert search results to squelch criticism":
To put it simply, Quixtar enlisted various people to help create dozens of Weblogs that linked to each other and were filled with positive stories and key words. The idea is to help put these newer blogs at the top of search results for phrases such as "Quixtar success" and "Quixtar opportunity," while more critical sites such as Quixtar Blog and would drop down.
From Juicee News Daily, "What Is Google Bombing?":
Amway Quixtar leaders told members that the company had "hired geekoids who were spending their time Google bombing positive info about Quixtar so that the negative sites would be buried way down at the bottom of the Google list when a prospect types in Quixtar [in a search engine]. Nobody will even be able to find the negative sites anymore."
Other coverups
  • A former Amway distributor tells us about how Amway refused to put a warning label on its dangerous Amway metal cleaner product. Amway's representatives attempted to bully the victim into not going forward with his case and refused to put appropriations warning labels on their products. This happened under Dick DeVos' watch at Amway.

  • Amway acted to prohibit its distributors from selling their old motivational tapes. Interestingly, Amway did this despite the fact that they neither manufacture nor endorse these tapes. Given that the tapes are an essential aspect of the Amway system and have cheated Amway's distributors out of millions of dollars, it is no surprise that Amway would want to prevent their circulation. It is unfortunate that Amway distributors were deprived of their right to sell their own property in the process. This happened under Dick DeVos' watch at Amway.
Finally, you may be interested in an article on entitled "Amway's Vendetta Against Critics." It has a great summary of some of the things that Amway has done to keep negative information about themselves from getting out to the public. Here's an excerpt:
Has it never occurred to Amway that there is a reason, found in its own behavior and business conduct, which opens the door for all the criticism? Even a cursory examination of the lawsuits, past and present, filed by distributors against Amway and their upline shows an obvious pattern of impropriety, deception, outright fraud or illegalities perpetrated by "big pin" distributors and ignored by Amway Corp.


Neither would Amway's critics -- myself included -- have any reason to maintain these sites if Amway would clean up its own Augean stable and stop trying to blame us for being the messengers.
I agree. The only reason that anyone would engage in this kind of unethical behavior is if they had a history that they wanted to hide. Regardless of the legality or illegality of Amway's behavior, their actions say a lot about Dick DeVos' sense of ethics and his respect for free speech.

(cross-posted on Michigan Liberal... front paged!)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Skinner for Congress Needs Interns/Volunteers!

I got this e-mail, and it looks like a great opportunity. Figured I would pass it along:

The Skinner for Congress team is looking for full-time and part-time
interns for the Finance, Political/Field and Communications
departments. Our preferred goal is to bring aboard ten (10) full-time
interns who will be asked to do more than just answer phones and stuff
envelopes (although you will do that too).

These interns will be assigned and trained in the respective
departments based on their availability of time and their interests.

Finance – (2) Working with the Finance Director to implement and
support all aspects of our finance plan including Internet, Events,
Direct Donor and Mail. The positions are a great way to learn the
fast paced management of finances which are skills good for any other

Communications – (2) Working directly with the Campaign Manager in the
areas of mainstream media as well as internet and blog communication
and outreach. These interns must posses strong writing skills and
working knowledge of surfing internet news and blog websites. They
must also demonstrate an ability to monitor ongoing and breaking news
and bring those to the campaign manager with ideas of how to use them
to advance the campaign.

Political/Field – (6) These interns will work directly with the
Campaign Manager and the Field Director in an aggressive political
leadership outreach program. These individuals will be trained and
assigned to a specific role within the department and will be required
to engage in public events and activities of a political and community
nature on behalf of the campaign.

Any an all interested candidates should email Daren Berringer at

Saturday, August 05, 2006

DeVos Ducks Mercury Contamination Position

From the AP:

Republican Dick DeVos, who accuses the DEQ of over-regulating business, has not said if he will retain the 90 percent standard if he unseats Granholm in November. He probably won't take a position until after the election, spokesman John Truscott says. (emphasis added)

We all know what his stance on mercury contamination really is. It is unfortunate that he won't come out and say it, and that nobody is calling him out on it. What kind of campaign refuses to talk about their candidate's position on the issues?

I think that action on mercury contamination is long overdue, anyway. The fact that so many lobbyists have been rushing to tell us that mercury contamination is not a problem has worried me even further (reminds me of the global warming "debate"). The day that I read an opinion piece in the Saginaw News from a lobbying group in DC affirming that mercury contamination in fish is not significant became the day I stopped eating tuna sandwiches.

(cross-posted on Michlib... front paged!)

Friday, August 04, 2006

Amway Exposed, Part Three: Dick DeVos Doesn't Believe in Workers' Rights

Dick DeVos not only allowed the exploitation of Amway/Quixtar IBOs during his tenure with Amway and Alticor, but he also used unfair arbitration agreements to silence unhappy distributors and prevent them from seeking justice. The Business Support Materials Arbitration Agreement, or BSMAA, forced unhappy distributors into arbitration sessions administered by hand-picked, Amway-trained mediators instead of allowing them to go to court. In other words, Amway distributors were forced to sign their rights away if they wanted to participate in the system.

Since 1998 (while Dick DeVos was the President of Amway), Amway told its distributors that they had to sign the BSMAA if they wanted to keep their downlines. Remember those tools we were talking about? By signing the agreement, distributors waived their right to take complaints about the tools business to court and instead agreed to arbitrate disputes through the "Amway Arbitration Rules". From the text of the agreement:

Binding arbitration. At least 90 days after the notice referred to in the paragraph above is received, or after the conclusion of the Amway conciliation process, whichever is later, any remaining controversy or claim, including any claim a party to this Agreement may make against any publisher, author, speaker, distributor, manufacturer, seller, reseller or marketer of Business Support Materials, or against Amway Corporation or any of its officers, directors, agents or employees, shall be settled by binding arbitration in accordance with the Amway Arbitration Rules contained in the Rules of Conduct for Amway Distributors (emphasis added)


Given all of the problems with the "tools" aspect of the Amway business model, it is unsettling that Amway newcomers would be required to sign these agreements. It seems even more unfair that already existing Amway distributors could either sign their rights away with this agreement, or give up years of hard work developing their downlines. However, after examining another portion of the agreement, it becomes more apparent why these agreements were required:

Confidentiality. Once a notice of claim has been sent, the dispute resolution process, including conciliation and any binding arbitration, shall remain confidential. No party to the claim shall disclose to any person not directly involved in the conciliation or arbitration process (a) the substance of, or basis for, the claim; (b) the content of the testimony or other evidence presented at an arbitration hearing or obtained through discovery; or (c) the terms or amount of any arbitration award.

Much like the DeVos campaign's recent endeavors, it appears that Amway just couldn't stomach all of the negative press that they were getting about the hidden tools business. Although Amway touted the agreement as a superior way of resolving disputes, in reality their BSMAA seems aimed to avoid the negative attention and costs that came from frequent lawsuits over the Amway tools. As notes, if their arbitration system were truly the most effective way to resolve disputes, they would give their distributors a choice about whether they wanted to use it or not.

Shockingly, Amway's supposedly neutral "arbitrators" aren't even actually neutral. Amway contracted out to an alternative dispute resolution company called JAMS to handle its arbitration. These arbitrators were required to attend an "Amway Cultural Training" before dealing with any conflicts. On top of that, Amway reserved the right to decide whether the arbitrators got to keep their jobs or not. Its no surprise that most cases were resolved in favor of Amway. As LawBlawg notes:

What kind of company would do business this way? Seriously. They include an arbitration provision that requires absolute secrecy and confidentiality to protect a business (tools) they claim NOT to be in and claim NOT to be endorsing. The arbitration is rigged because the company's rules allow the people who run the tools businesses to choose the arbitrators and meet in secret with them for "training." And then they pass the BSMAA off as something they've done to "help" their distributors. What are they hiding?

Thankfully, the BSMAA was eventually seen for what it really is. In an antitrust case brought against Amway by "tools" manufacturers outside of the kingpins, here is what U.S. District Judge Richard Dorr said about the BSMAA:

Although this court has found that none of the Plaintiffs have submitted to arbitration, the court also finds that, in the alternative, arbitration with pre-selected JAMS arbitrators as presently set up by Defendants is unconscionable.

While there can be basic education of arbitrators regarding specialized subject matter, there is a point where basic education can be extended to subtle manipulation on issues which could be expected to be considered by the arbitrators. This limit has been passed by Amway’s preparation of the arbitrators at JAMS. While JAMS may be a respected organization, the Defendants have called the neutrality of this particular arbitration arrangement into question. Also telling is the fact that Defendants have never lost in arbitration, with the exception of a few counterclaims. (for more information, see a September 20, 2005 article entitled "Judge declines to dismiss Amway case" in the Kansas City Star)

It is possible that Dick DeVos was so oblivious to the inner workings of his company that he didn't realize that this was going on. More likely, he knew about this immoral agreement and allowed the exploitation of Amway distributors to occur anyway.

Mark my words: If elected governor, Dick DeVos will work as hard as he possibly can to destroy measures that protect employees in Michigan. Through these arbitration agreements, DeVos has shown that his own image and his company's profits are more important to him than the welfare of the countless distributors under the Amway/Quixtar system.

(cross-posted on Michlib... front paged!)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Wikipedia/traffic update, Granholm poll

READ THIS FIRST: Newer Granholm polling data and analysis is available here. Please disregard this old post.

Anyone been following the Colbert/Wikipedia war? Its pretty hilarious.

Amusingly, it appears that my post on Dick DeVos' campaign editing DeVos' Wikipedia page has ended up as a link on Dick DeVos' Wikipedia page itself.

That, combined with cross-posts on Michlib, Google searches for Dick DeVos-related topics, Google searches for Amway and other MLM-related stuff, Google searches for both of these topics together, this post (where there are apparently a lot of lurkers), and Blogger searches for all of the above have lead to a drastic increase in traffic.

It isn't Michlib's 1000, but I'm happy with my 22 visitors/day (according to Sitemeter).

Plus, mad props to Psychology of Compliance & Due Diligence Law for helping to expose the truth about Amway (and linking to me).

In unrelated news, Rasmussen shows Dick DeVos having a 6 percent lead over Governor Jennifer Granholm.

Additionally, efforts by the DeVos campaign to build awareness of the candidate have apparently been paying off: DeVos is pulling support from 86% of GOP voters and 16% of Democrats. Granholm can claim 78% support from Democrats and only 8% crossover appeal among Republican voters.

I trust their methodology more than other polls because they match responses with demographic data for a better measure of how the vote on election day would actually end up.

When looking at these numbers, we need to keep in mind that DeVos has already defined himself and to an extent, already defined Granholm to voters. On the other hand, the Granholm camp really has yet to define themselves and DeVos to the general public. It will be tough to tell how this race is going to turn out until we have a chance to see how both of their messages will resonate with the public.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Replacing the SBT

Oakland County executive L. Brooks Patterson was successful in his drive to put the issue on the ballot. This means Michiganders will be able to vote to eliminate this often derided tax. Furthermore should the Republican-dominated legislature opt to vote in advance on its elimination, it will be eliminated by the end of 2007 (currently it is set to expire by the end of 2009) and there is nothing that Governor Jennifer Granholm and her veto pen can do about it. No one in Michigan likes the SBT, Governor Granholm included. But, it is important to remember it is a major source of state revenue and as such it would be inappropriate to eliminate it without having the funding put in place from an alternate source. Furthermore a key part of this debate is this, Michigan's business climate is far from as dire as Dick DeVos or Republicans in Lansing like to proport it to be.

Naturally many things go into the decision of where to locate your business. Convienience, availability of resources (both human or natural), and so on. This is why agriculture is a big deal in Nebraska and not Alaska or why major investment firms are located on Wall Street and not in Winter Haven. Republicans though would have you believe that the only concern is taxation. Yet does this seem to match the facts? Let's see...

worst five states to do business in are: New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Ohio and Vermont (in that order). Yet, if we look at the state gross state product we see that these states don't seem to be hurting for economic activity as New York (#2), New Jersey (#8) and Ohio (#7) are all doing relatively well. While Rhode Island and Vermont are 44 and 50 respectively they also are far smaller than their counterparts and in per capita rank a much better 22 and 36 respectively.

So we should see that the best five states are doing wonderfully shouldn't we? But Wyoming, South Dakota, Alaska, Florida and Nevada are a mixed bag. Wyoming (#48), South Dakota (#46), Alaska (#45) and Nevada (#31) are not impressive. Yet the four states other than Florida do all perform admirably in per capita, they are tiny states for the most part.

What this goes to show is it is more than just a tax climate that encourages investment. Otherwise we would see far more
Fortune 500 companies in Wyoming (zero) or South Dakota (zero) than we do in New York (54) or New Jersey (21). Despite these hard facts, the bluster still exists that Michigan's business climate is so horrid that we are stuck in (those infamous three words) a "single state recession".

In an article in the Wall Street Journal from Dec. 12, 2005 they declared: "the current U.S. expansion has lifted the fortunes of nearly every state in the country, with the notable exception of Michigan, which is busy reclaiming its 1970s's title as home of the rust belt. Sad to say, politicians in both parties are only making things worse." The line I took away from this piece though (which also was critical of Governor Granholm, though I disagreed with their assessment) is this: "but if you think the Republicans in Washington have bumbled things, take a look at the muddle in Michigan." The problem is that Republicans want to rid themselves of the SBT thinking it will be some cure-all for Michigan's economic woes. Republicans are clear in their distaste for the SBT:

Dick DeVos: "In order to turn the economy around we need to send a clear message that we are willing to work with job providers not penalize them with a job-killing tax... In a DeVos administration, we will not shift the burden to individual taxpayers, instead, we will make the decisions necessary to reduce wasteful spending and give businesses the tools they need to grow and expand so our residents can get back to work,"
source . Thank you Dick for your specific plans on replacement.

Leon Drolet (R - Clinton Twp): "The SBT is a known job-killer with a trail of company corpses,” Drolet said. “I have listened to hundreds of witnesses around the state and their testimony is consistent – the SBT has left a wake of economic tragedy. We, the representatives of the people of the state of Michigan find the SBT tax guilty of being the worst tax in the nation and sentence it to death on Sept. 30, 2007... Too many of our best and brightest are leaving Michigan for jobs and opportunities in other states. By eliminating the SBT, and creating one of the best business climates in America, we will attract the entrepreneurs and investment we need to create thousands of new jobs for Michigan workers,"
source . Again we see a vast amount of specifics on replacement.

Yet when it comes to replacement their pronouncements enter the realm of ambiguity:

Dick DeVos as reported in the Detroit News: "GOP gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos supports the SBT repeal, but has not offered many details on what a replacement tax should look like and how much it should raise."

Craig DeRoche (R - Novi) again from the Detroit News: " "We want to send a message to businesses that we are serious about this," DeRoche said. DeRoche said replacing the SBT revenue is a complex process and that lawmakers will be thorough in their review."

I appreciate the complexity with replacing a tax , yet I have only heard one solution to replacing the SBT that makes any sense at all. One that has a clear message (we want to remove the tax), one that has a clear concept of budgeting (need to provide alternate funding) and one that Michigan voters should find sensible after John Engler's decade of overspending: Governor Jennifer Granholm's opinion on the SBT is the correct one (also care of the Detroit News): "The governor believes lawmakers should not vote to eliminate the SBT unless they also guarantee that individual taxpayers won't end up footing the bill in higher taxes and devastating cuts to health care, education and public safety," Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd said."

What a novel idea, cutting or eliminating taxes after accounting for potential budget problems. I wish President Reagan understood that. I hope Michigan Republicans do too before we have another fiscal mess on our hands. The Republican philosophy of the past has been as follows: making tax cuts forces us into making cost-cutting moves. It doesn't work that way, we need to make decisions regarding our budgets first and then find funding or seeing how much taxation we can eliminate. Regardless, cutting taxes isn't everything. Balancing budgets though is essential to any government and Michigan is no different.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Friends don't ask friends to sell Amway

I normally don't just refer to an article without talking abuout it, but this was just too good to pass up...

From, via Daily Kos:

The voice was familiar. "Hi, Mary Gordon, this is Barbara. Call me back."

Although she hadn't left a last name in her phone message, I recognized which Barbara it was immediately.

Barbara, my college roommate.

At first, I didn't wonder why she had called and assumed that she just wanted to touch base. But after playing phone tag for a few days, I had narrowed down her reasons for calling: 1. Barbara was coming to town and wanted to get together; 2. Barbara wanted me to speak at her district's back-to-school convocation.

I was delighted with either prospect, especially with the one of making money.

I was sitting in my car when my cell phone rang. I heard that familiar, sweet voice. "Oh, Barbara," I said, "I'm so glad we've finally connected!"

"Me, too," she replied.

"What's up?" I inquired, just waiting to hear those words, "I'm coming to see you," or "You're hired!"

(SECTION I: Part A) "Since December," Barbara began, "I've had a home-based business, and I'm pleased to tell you that it's going really well."

"That's great!" I replied. "I'm pleased for you. Are you still a principal?"

"Oh, yes," Barbara answered. (SECTION I: Part B) "But this home-based business is amazing."

(SECTION II: Part A) "I'm supposed to contact creative and outgoing people about my business, and I know you fall into those categories!" Barbara continued.

She was right. After all, I was Miss Friendly of Brownwood High School. I was pleased that Barbara had described me in such positive terms.

(SECTION III: Part A) "What I'd like to do," she continued, "is to send you something about my business to review and then call you to discuss it."

"Barbara, do you want me to review your business plan?" And then it dawned on me. "Or are you trying to sell me something?"

Barbara laughed that girlish, nervous laugh that I remembered from college.

"Barbara," I asked. "Are you selling Amway?"

(SECTION III: Part B) "Absolutely not. I am, however, working with some amazing products. In fact, my (grown) daughters are so impressed that they are involved." (Back to SECTION II: Part A) "I was thinking," Barbara continued, "that you and your daughter would want to be a part of this wonderful business, too."

"Barbara," I replied, trying to mask my irritation. "I can't tell you how not interested I am in being a part of this. In fact," I continued sweetly, "I can't think of anything that I'm less interested in than selling products or being a part of this business. I'm happy, however, that you and your daughters are so happy."

(SECTION IV: Part A) "You know, I felt the same way when I was first introduced to this business." Barbara's speech had become more mechanical. "But it didn't take me long to see how amazing the products are. And . . ."

I cut her off in mid sentence. "I'm not interested, Barbara."

(SECTION IV: Part B) "Well, maybe I'll go ahead and send you the materials, and you can pass them on to your friends who would like to make some extra money." Barbara delivered this without hesitation.

"Barbara," I replied as nicely as I could, considering the temperature in my parked car was 110 degrees, and I was boiling inside, "I'm not interested."

Surely, Barbara had gotten the message by now.

So, I changed the subject and inquired about her family and her life. And then I ended our conversation.

"It sure was good to talk to you, Barbara," I said. "But I've gotta go now."

"Bye, MG," Barbara replied sweetly. (SECTION V: Final Part) "Now, don't forget to keep this wonderful business in mind as you see your friends. And I'm sure your daughter would love to do this."

Just to make certain that I hadn't shortchanged my daughter — the one who works about 60 hours a week, volunteers at Children's Hospital, freelances as a writer and does good deeds for her family and friends — I called her when I got home.

"Hey, Darling," I said. "I want to tell you about a little home business that my college roommate thinks you might be interested in."

"Is it Amway?" My daughter doesn't miss a beat.

"Absolutely not. Barbara is working with some products that are amazing," I said, trying to sound serious.

"What section is that from, Mom?"

Democratic Activists: Why I Believe in Jennifer Granholm

Many progressive activists, including myself, have been talking about Dick DeVos' significant flaws and the horrors of Amway's business model at great length. This is important -- the average Michigan voter is subjected to a barrage of one-sided portrayals of Dick DeVos, which we can help to rectify through grassroots, netroots, and other people-powered efforts that engage voters in a more direct dialogue.

However, we must not give into the temptation of merely trashing DeVos without talking about what we stand for and our unique vision for the future of Michigan. In this light, I want to explain why I find fulfillment in doing everything I can to re-elect our Governor. In doing so, I hope that you will consider donating your free time to both the Governor's re-election effort and equally important efforts to take back the state legislatures.

A good candidate is much more than someone who happens to have the "right" yes or no answers to a variety of policy questions. I believe passionately that Jennifer Granholm is the right choice for Michigan not just because I agree with the vast majority of her policies, but because I see in her the qualities that every elected official ought to have.

Ultimately, Governor Granholm shows a kind of empathy for her fellow citizens that I have rarely seen in my other elected representatives. So many people in positions of power seem to become so wrapped up in their own worlds that they lose touch with the realities that most people face every day. People don't care about political campaigns, attack ads, squabbles between Democrats and Republicans, or the latest polls. They care about whether they can pay for their home heating bills and car insurance. They wonder about whether they have enough money to pay for gas to make it to work and back. They grapple with the difficult choice between paying for food or much-needed medicine. People wonder about whether they'll be able to put their kids through college so that they can find rewarding jobs and grow up to raise their own families.

Governor Granholm has a proven record of being responsive to these issues. When watching her speak with people, I can't help but feel that she understands exactly where they are coming from because she's been there too. For example, I'm a college student. Even though going to college is a fantastic investment, I know firsthand how overwhelming tuition really is. I have faith that Governor Granholm has been working to deal with the the rising cost of tuition because she knows college is really expensive too -- she used student loans to put herself through college, and understands their tremendous value. Try asking Amway Guy about that!

Granholm has shown us that its not just presidents and dignitaries who deserve our respect and appreciation, but ordinary Michiganders too. She has shown us that it is possible for anyone to change society, one youth at a time if their heart is truly in it. Jennifer Granholm has shown us that one person with enough enthusiasm and determination can overcome overwhelming odds to become the Governor of Michigan.

It takes a truly exceptional Democrat to overcome the challenges of working with a Republican State Legislature, Republican state courts, Republican Congress, Republican Secretary of State and Attorney General, Republican Supreme Court, and a Republican President. Governor Granholm has overcome these significant obstacles to extend affordable prescription drug coverage, increase access to higher education, and prevent large-scale water diversions from our Great Lakes.

With all of this in mind, I understand that nobody agrees on every single issue. For example, as an avid video game player, I feel that my fellow gamers and I have been neglected equally by both sides of aisle. However, I refuse to let a single issue control me to the extent that I base all of my decisions on that one issue. We must not allow differences of opinion on individual issues to obscure our commitment to Democratic principles. We all believe in a society that provides an equal opportunity for every child, woman, and man to succeed. We all believe that by looking out for each other and making Michigan a better place to live for everyone, we can improve everyone's lives as individuals.

We are fighting for nothing less than the survival of these values and the future of our state. Despite a failing economy (not her fault) and an obstructionist State Legislature, Jennifer Granholm has stood proudly by her principles to provide a future for Michigan. Governor Granholm has worked to create a setting that will bring the best technology jobs from across the world to our state. She has worked to make us the pioneers in the adoption of alternative energy in spite of all of the challenges from Republicans. However, these changes take time, and cannot be evaluated in such a short period of time. In order to keep our state on the right track, we must win this election.

Its going to be a tough race, and we are looking at the most volatile electorate that we have seen in years. This is why it is more important than ever to go door-to-door and campaign for Michigan Democrats like Jennifer Granholm. We are in a unique position to deliver localized messages to our friends and neighbors in our communities, and we need to be the infrastructure that delivers for our values. This means not only taking a stand against DeVos, but taking a stand for Granholm.

This post was prompted by a discussion with my buddy Chris. Happy birthday bro!

(cross posted on Michigan Liberal... front paged!)

Also, thanks to Zack Pohl for the plug.