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.