Thursday briefing and open thread

Once again, I have the pleasure of posting the daily story rundown filling in for the unsinkable Christine Barry (been watching too much RMS Titanic stuff on PBS).

Did you know that the White Star Line immediately fired the crew of the RMS Titanic? Even as the victims were just settling into their graves on the ocean floor or still floating in lifeboats the company sent out pink slips, most received by hundreds of bereaved relatives. This was a company effort to avoid liabilities, lawsuits and payouts of insurance. That’s free enterprise adherence to upholding core traditional values and the social covenant of big business for you, not. Same now as 100 years ago for some folks – Profits and the rich first – social responsibility, workers, women and children last.

Even though it seems like all non-billionaire Michiganders, those without the suites on B-C Decks, are locked into steerage berths on F Deck under these Tea Party (AFP) Republicans and Captain ‘Bligh’ Snyder, there is always a mutiny afoot here on BFM.


We all need to think like 27 year old Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. “DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP” was the battle flag of Perry in the Battle of Lake Erie flown on his flagship the USS Lawrence on September 10, 1813 memorializing his friend killed in a previous action, Capt. James Lawrence and his dying words. Perry shocked the world two centuries ago through a series of daring and innovative exploits, with very limited resources, by forcing the only surrender of an entire British fleet in Royal Naval history.

In the News:

Hundreds of current and retired teachers converged on a State Senate hearing over legislation to further cut benefits and pensions for those trying to make Michigan’s kids into adults that can handle the higher education requirements for future better jobs and careers. From the AP:

Republican lawmakers say the state can’t afford to continue offering the benefits without higher employee contributions. Retiree health care benefits make up the bulk of the $45 million hole Michigan finds itself in for unfunded school employee liabilities. (break) But many current and retired teachers said the changes are unfair, especially because many teachers already saw their pension contributions increased in 2007 and now will have to pay state income taxes on their pensions under legislation passed last year.

“It’s just attack after attack after attack, and it just doesn’t stop,” said Gary Scott, a recent Michigan State University graduate who’s doing a teaching internship and is dismayed by how much of his future salary would go to pay for benefits under the bill. Retired teacher Lyn Hotia said she fears she may end up on food stamps if she’s constantly asked to pay more.

The Coalition for Secure Retirement-Michigan held a news conference before the hearing to say the measure would undermine the retirement security of current and future school retirees and “dramatically” increase employee contributions.

Shanda Willis has filed her papers for her run for the 66th State House District yesterday against Republican incumbent Bill Rogers to give the Brighton area a chance for someone with an interesting background and new talent and energy.

EclectabloG continues to breAk news (dang it… lets try that again)

Eclectablog continues to break news on the font size troubles and unbelievable situation with the conflict of interests of members of the Board of State Canvassers with Repeal of PA 4 or Emergency Manager Law petition. Hope his site upgrade to handle the additional traffic went well, cause this story is going to go on quite a while.

An Emergency Manager & GOP related court cases run-down on Lansing City Pulse by Kyle Melinn is worth a read.

Republican Attorney General to Bill Schuette’s office has some troubles as the case of assistant AG James (Jim) Shell bought up on gun charges continues. Shell pleaded ‘no contest’ this week in Eaton County District Court based on a Tuesday news report:

“The guilty plea comes after an intoxicated Shell was allegedly firing off his rifle near his Delta Township home, (break) He had been working within the transportation division of the Attorney General’s office at the time of the incident. He is still suspended from his job and resigned from his post as president of the Grand Ledge School Board. Shell’s attorney told MIRS in January that he is going through alcohol rehab.”

This would not be a story, if Michigan Republicans would give up on their pushing of whacky gun law bills led by State Rep Mike Green even in the wake of the Trayvon Martin tragedy. Michigan passed the same ALEC/NRA Gun Model bill back in 2006.

The same American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Model in “Stand Your Ground” legislation is giving two Michigan State Legislators unwanted attention. State Rep. Mike Shirkey (R- District 65 Clarklake south of Jackson) and State Sen. Mike Nofs (R- Battle Creek) were listed along with 12 current Republican State Representatives and 12 current / 2 former State Senators in a posting on Monday here on BFM by Progress Michigan entitled “Corporate Backers quit ALEC, Lansing politicians should follow suit” which called on all Michigan ALEC members to drop their memberships. From the Jackson News portion of MLive in a story investigating local legislators with ALEC ties by reporter Bob Wheaton:

Shirkey, who paid for an ALEC membership in 2011 using funds from his officeholder expense account, said he uses its materials as a resource. He declined to comment on ALEC’s push for “Stand Your Ground” legislation. Michigan is among the states that have laws similar to the one in Florida.

“I’m not going to comment on that specifically because I haven’t even frankly studied the Michigan law to have an opinion,” Shirkey said.

In a follow-on comment by the ‘reporter’ (nice to use that term and mean it):

[Bob Wheaton]: I did ask Mike Shirkey about whether he used ALEC’s wording in legislation. [Shirkey] said: “I have not used anything of ALEC’s that I’m aware of. There can be some similar language that I’m not aware of.”

Nofs decided not to respond in the article:

Nofs, whose Senate district includes part of Jackson County, declined comment through a spokesman. “He said he’d rather not get involved in that nonsense going on down there,” said Greg Moore, legislative director for Nofs.

Busted: the fact is that a study of all “Stand Your Ground” laws in the US States was conducted by the Sunlight Foundation that found that Michigan’s HB 5153 or Public Act 310 of 2006 most closely matched the Florida Law the basis of the ALEC and NRA produced model legislation with “146 fragments matched”. This also was posted on BFM two weeks ago.

Note: An UPDATED VERSION “Progress Michigan calls on GOP lawmakers to cut ties to ALEC” of this late breaking story was posted this morning. The tougher ORIGINAL VERSION was “Mike Shirkey, Mike Nofs drawn into Trayvon Martin debate by liberal group”. Significant differences between the two.

Does this make any sense to anyone?
The Michigan auto industry bashing Mitt Romney campaign, along with Republican and Tea Party types continue their attacks on General Motors and their new all-electric vehicle the Volt by bashing Bob Lutz who has been speaking out, one of the most respected leaders (a real leader, not the fake kind) in the auto industry. Why? Simple, Obama was involved in the government programs where GM and Chrysler (and their suppliers too by the way) got loans to avoid going out of business putting a million plus people out of work.

One latest of these couch ‘car experts’ spinning straight politics at GM is Dan Calabrese over at the Mackinac View:

After the bailout and bankruptcy, GM was supposed to have shed enough costs that it could price products to sell profitably. So what is it doing now? It’s touting – as its signature technological achievement – a car with sky-high costs and poor sales, and ramping up production of the thing even though sales to date don’t come anywhere close to justifying such a move. This is the kind of business practice that got GM in trouble, and in need of a taxpayer-funded bailout.

If Bob Lutz can’t handle people criticizing GM now for doing more of the same, I suggest he stick to gearhead-type stuff in his column, because he doesn’t understand how to recognize a sound business practice – probably because he’s spent his entire career in the domestic auto industry, where sound business practices have been more rare that a person buying a Chevy Volt.

Not only is this guy dead wrong, but it’s the pure amateur “I drive a car, so I know how to build one” poppy-cock auto professionals hear all the time in SE Michigan. There is virtually no one who knows more about the car business than the 79 year-old former BMW/Ford/Chrysler/GM executive who has been making the rounds even appearing on The Colbert Report. Various groups including Media Matters have been tracking the right-wing anti-GM / anything Obama related campaign. The tiff continues as Lutz this week is still fighting back in a story about the Hamtramck UAW built GM Volt:

As former GM executive Bob Lutz sarcastically put it, the Volt had become “the poster child for President Obama’s socialist meddling in the free automotive market.” Lutz responded with special anger to a recent Bill O’Reilly Fox News show in which the host condemned the Volt as “an unmitigated disaster.” Joshing over the disappointing Volt sales, O’Reilly’s guest Lou Dobbs said, “It doesn’t work.” Also, “It catches fire.” None of this happens to be true.

In the NY Times on April 7, 2012:

“It’s nuts,” said Lutz, when I [NYT] spoke to him earlier in the week. “This is a significant achievement in the auto industry. There are so many legitimate things to criticize Obama about. It is inexplicable that the right would feel the need to tell lies about the Volt to attack the president.”

General Motors and Ford are still both Michigan ALEC Corporate members (sorry can’t help it).

It’s a dangerous thing to make products and brands into Red and Blue political ping bong balls. No longer citizens, libertarian/conservative big money wants us to be just consumers. Just think what would happen if people really shopped according to their political and social values?

Did you know? There is a feed of Michigan related AP Wire stories posted on MLive, of course most of the stuff progressives want to read rarely makes the AP.

Remember once that a major Michigan Protest of George W. Bush at Calvin College in 2005 had 700-800 people, the AP stringer (brought back from retirement specifically to slant the story) said “a couple dozen protested”. AP is where the story starts, the real story ends on BFM.

It is a crime for a citizen to shrink from service to one's society. Contact thru Kos or DU messaging.
Hector Solon
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  • Hector Solon

    It’s a MIRACLE! Michigan has gained 7 slots in the ALEC “Rich State, Poor States” index. Break out the champagne… no wait, that report is just an artificially contrived ranking of what State best matches ALEC/Tax Foundation/Heritage politics and profitability for their mega-rich funders like the Koch Brothers.

    Watch this story hit the Mackinac/Detroit News noise machine. Snyder will be bragging this fake improvement within 48 hrs, mark my words.

    Unfortunately, no big debunking report on that index… yet.

  • Hector Solon

    Haglund on GOP high-volt-age politics surrounding GM Volt vehicle worth a read in “Why Republicans are foolishly fighting the Chevrolet Volt” CLIP:

    “My gearhead friends are aghast. They can’t understand why a political party is demonizing a vehicle that represents some of the best automotive engineering innovation to come out of Detroit in decades.

    But in this highly politicized nation of ours, it’s easy to understand why conservatives are railing against the Volt, even though they have to ignore a few facts in spewing their outrage.”

    The GM Volt is actually a “Technology Lead Platform” something GM never really had before Bob Lutz got there. Naturally, a TL Platform is not normally a big money maker in the beginning.

    The righties… sigh. This is how they improve our state’s rep nationally? Attacking new technologies for future generations, a BIG risk for Larry Burns and Lutz to take BTW. Idiots.