John Oliver notes Aramark’s unique maggot-based prison menu

July 21, 2014 by  
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This is great.

Remember, what Michigan has done is part of a nationwide trend. So when he talks about privatized medical service in Arizona using sugar to prevent infection in a C-section, he's talking about something that could happen in Michigan should we take privatizing Corrections to the logical extreme.

Detroit suspends water shutoffs; Fried Chicken Frank has a sad

July 21, 2014 by  
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Just as the headline reads (except for the Fried Chicken Frank part, which I made up).

Detroit — The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is suspending water shut-offs for 15 days starting Monday.

The department is facing criticism worldwide for mass shutoffs that have turned off water to 15,200 customers since March, but department spokesman Bill Johnson said the move is not a concession in the high-profile political fight.

“This is a pause. This is not a moratorium,” he said. “We are pausing to give an opportunity to customers who have trouble paying their bills to come in and make arrangements with us. We want to make sure we haven’t missed any truly needy people.”

Saw a different report this morning about how there are a bunch of abandoned buildings in Detroit with water flowing unchecked into their basements. If true, perhaps what they ought to focus on is preventing those losses to the system rather than shutting off water for inhabited homes and apartments.

With six you get Gadsden flag

July 21, 2014 by  
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I suppose attention needs to be paid around these parts to this summer's nonsense in Vassar. I was going to a week or o ago, because someone published a story with a bunch of hilarious photos of people walking around with Gadsden flags and guns and a sign that said that Jesus wouldn't break laws (apparently someone has confused Jesus with Ward Cleaver, which I guess is pretty understandable). That opportunity came and went, but there was another one this morning. I think this quote from the story sums up America, 2014 excellently.

“I don’t understand the guns,” said Jake Jacobson, a retired airline pilot from Lake Odessa.

That's in response to people walking around the town heavily armed saying things like this:

“If you allow the immigrants to take over, the country will be destroyed,” said Krol, 56, a building contractor from Linden.

and this:

“My rattle is rattling,” Krol said. “Next is the bite.”

What in Hell does any of that mean? Fuck if I know. But, I think we can enjoy the joke built into the first one.

We have a problem with child immigrants, and not only do these clowns go to a town they don't live in and start trying to strong arm local merchants into sharing their opinions but they've made it all about firearms.

Weekend open thread

July 19, 2014 by  
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I realize probably many of you are right now at Netroots Nation. I'm not. I've had a few people ask why not and the answer is pretty simple: I work weekends, have a child and hate crowds. Instead, I spent time in my garden this morning: Six zuchinni, a pepper, a crown of broccoli and the season's first green beans were my reward. One of the zuchinni I immediately gave to a neighbor to bribe her for her continued support in an ongoing Facebook feud with another neighbor (one of the other zuchinni I gave to him). I've got a friend who is a poor college student who I've been giving excess produce to all summer, and she'll probably get one or two more (if you have any impoverished millenials in your neighborhood, consider starting your own Feed a Millenial program ... the heartfelt thanks from one member from the Most Fucked Generation in Mankind's History will gladden you).

For the rest of you not at Netroots Nation (or are, but are taking breaks) and not stealing from my garden, the thread is hereby open.

Nancy Kaffer writes something smart about Detroit’s water crisis

July 18, 2014 by  
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Fried Chicken Frank's column this morning on the Detroit water thing was the awfulest thing written about it yet. It's about how the real victim in the shutoffs are suburbanites and if you had any lingering doubts that Fried Chicken Frank is something of a racist this should erase them. We can debate the merits of whether the water department should just be up and shutting off people's water, especially since there are apparently two different policies regarding residential water and water for businesses but attacking a bankruptcy judge because he didn't take the time to listen to suburbanite whining is the very essence of white privilege.

I would advise skipping the column. It adds nothing of value to this issue and will only make you think about those two minutes you'll never get back, plus the one minute thinking about those two minutes.

Go instead and read Nancy Kaffer's column, which unlike both the columns written by Nolan Finley and Fried Chicken Frank, appears to have involved research and thought.

Let’s be absolutely clear about a few things: Water isn’t free. Nor should it be. It takes money to treat and deliver water to residential and commercial customers. In Detroit, water shutoffs continue, despite international criticism, and strong words from the federal judge overseeing the city’s municipal bankruptcy case. After shutoffs, most residents pay up promptly, restoring service. Those numbers notwithstanding, it’s unavoidably true that some Detroiters can’t pay what they owe.

The only quibble I have is that water is free. If you live in Detroit, you can walk to the Detroit River and help yourself to as much water as you'd like and no one will ask you for a red cent. What costs is treating it and transporting it to your home.

But, beyond that it's an excellent column that does more than just stake out a stark position, either that poor people shouldn't have their water turned off under any circumstances or that the people who are getting their water turned off deserve it because they are terrible.

It asks this question: Should we deliver water as a fee-for-service, or do something else. These paragraphs are especially helpful.

Residential consumers are a small part of total water consumption (agriculture sucks down the most). Indoor residential use is defensible as essential, Beecher said, but not so with outdoor uses, such as watering lawns.

Fee-for-service, she said, serves a purpose apart from funding the system: Paying by volume encourages responsible water consumption.

That second is something everyone who thinks that water service should be free needs to remember. We in Michigan have a lot of water. We're blessed with it, but it also does the disservice of convincing us that water conservation isn't important.

Some media outlet ran a story pretty recently on the plight of Las Vegas that highlights this. Their main source of water is going dry and they're still talking unrestrained growth. It's idiotic. It's also admittedly not Michigan, but whether an approach to paying for something encourages wise usage or waste is important to sorting it all out.

Terri Lynn Land ad says Gary Peters a creature of Wall Street money

July 18, 2014 by  
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What a strange week to release this ad:

Keep in mind that in talking about BIG MONEY behind Gary Peters, Terri Lynn Land is the same person who had a mysterious $3 million show up in her campaign account (how long until someone who runs with Fried Chicken Frank starts speculating some kind of nefarious donation by Tom Steyer?).

It's not a bad ad, all things considered, but it also frankly smells of desperation.

Goat Killer says homosexuality is sexual perversion

July 18, 2014 by  
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Set the "Goat Killer says something offensive and moronic" clock back to zero. Courtesy a Progress Michigan press release that says the following was posted around 9:30 a.m.

Families are the most important element in a nation. Sexual perversion ruins a nation. Political correctness allows it. Silence out of fear by our politicians perpetuates it. What are your representatives and senators saying about it?

Because the Michigan Republican Party refuses to get rid of him as its national committee man, instead blaming its internal documents for having to keep around such a public embarrassment, this statement can be interpreted to be an official position of the Michigan Republican Party.

Yes, Nolan Finley, you do in fact have a right to water

July 17, 2014 by  
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Nolan Finley decided to write something about the Detroit water shutoffs. It's something that, like a lot of what Nolan Finley writes, did not in fact need to be written, but he doesn't understand that so went ahead and wrote it anyway.

We start with the headline.

There is no right to free water

Well you do have a right to free water if you live in Michigan. The reason why you have a right to free water is because, if you are a resident of Michigan, you have rights of ownership over water. If you want to do something with the water -- drink it untreated -- then you have the absolute right to free water. And, by the way, if you live in the country and have a well, you don't pay anyone for access to the well water. You pay to have the well sunk. The water is yours for free.


Water is not a human right. It’s a human need.

Air -- specifically oxygen -- is also a human need. Does Nolan Finley argue that access to breathable air, without which you'd die in minutes, is a human right? I guess we'll find out once someone has figured out a way to make money off selling clean air to people who live in shitty neighborhoods.

Ever since Adam and Eve got booted out of Eden, people have devoted most of their energy and labor to meeting the basic needs of food, water, clothing and shelter. It’s the origin of work — you’re hungry, you’re thirsty, you need some decent threads and a roof over your head, you have to get up in the morning and do something constructive.

"Decent threads," a phrase not heard since 1986, are not human need. Depending on the climate you live in, you may require clothing to keep the weather off you, but nice clothes are a want, not a need.

There will be a lot of folks in the streets of Detroit Friday afternoon challenging that truth. The legion of lefties in town for the Netroots Nation gathering have scheduled a march to protest the water shut-offs underway in Detroit as inhumane and a violation of civil rights.

Netroots Nation actually has nothing to do with Detroit's water shutoffs or the horrible face it is giving the city. But, what's a pointless slur among friends.

Fully half of the water customers in Detroit don’t pay their bills. Advocates of free water for all blame the city’s 38 percent poverty rate for the high level of delinquency.

Well, the water has been free all along so people who advocate for it are advocating for the literal, legal truth. I mean, even poor people get to enjoy the rights of ownership.

But nearly all of those with incomes below the poverty line receive public assistance. That’s money provided by their fellow citizens to help them pay for their basic needs — food, water, clothing, shelter.

This sounds an awful lot like there is broad societal agreement that people have a right to food, water, clothing and shelter. If that broad soceital agreement didn't exist, then we wouldn't provide people with resources to acquire them.

And yet barely 50 percent of Detroiters pay their water bill. Meanwhile, up to two-thirds of city residents pay to keep their cable or satellite television service current. And 72 percent do the same to maintain their cellphones.

What he's really talking about here are the costs associated with making sure that the water that the water department delivers to your home is treated to prevent the spread of waterborne pathogens. People are choosing to spend money on cable Tee Vee rather than for the chlorine treatment for their otherwise free water. While you can make a good argument that this is a poor choice, what this means is that several decades ago, a social contract was drawn up by which the city decided to treat everyone's water and charge them by the gallon for it. It doesn't mean that people don't have a right to free water, because that social contract doesn't undercut the fact that even poor people own the state's water.

It’s not a stretch to guess the reason delinquency rates are lower for cable and cellphone service is that the cable and telephone companies cut off customers who don’t pay their bills. The Detroit water department hasn’t done that much, until now.

Cable and cellphone service, as Nolan Finley has so ably demonstrated, are not human needs. Without water, you die in days. Without cable television ... well, I haven't had cable for five years.

So instead of using what resources they have to cover their needs, many water customers instead have chosen to service their wants. That’s what happens when people are conditioned to think someone else is responsible for taking care of them.

No, that is not what happens when people are conditioned to think that someone else is responsible for taking care of them. That is what happens if people don't take seriously that you might shut off their service.

In Detroit, the someone else is the half of residents who do pay their water bills, and this year were hit with an 11 percent rate increase that was largely necessary to cover the unpaid bills of scofflaws.

8.7 percent, actually.

Since the cut-offs began, more customers are paying up. The overwhelming majority of households hit with a shut-off are settling their debt to get the water flowing again, suggesting they could have been paying all along. The desperate cases are being offered a variety of assistance programs to make sure no one who truly can’t pay for water is shut off.

If he'd thought this through, he'd realize that the first sentence of this paragraph conflicts with his assertion that people don't pay bills when they are conditioned to think that someone else will take care of them.

This is not a humanitarian crisis, as the Netroots entitlement nation proclaims. It’s a necessary forced reordering of priorities.

That's a very strange way of looking at things. When we have major storms that disrupt water service, we generally regard this as a humanitarian crisis and charities take donations to get water to the affected area to minimize the hardship. If you extend this line of thinking to, say, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, then we wouldn't have sent supplies to the people stuck there on the grounds that the storm was Mother Nature's way of reordering their priorities.

Water, food, clothing, shelter were never bestowed on us because we exist. It costs money to purify water and deliver it to homes. That’s why early on people began forming communities to share the cost of meeting that common need, and others.

The first two sentences are the truest thing he's written on this. It does cost money to treat water and deliver it to homes. The water itself, however, is otherwise free.The last sentence is not true. Water treatment didn't become a thing until we figured out the Germ Theory of Disease, thousands of years after the fit cities were founded.

Charitable minded citizens have never objected to helping care for neighbors who are unable to care for themselves. But they understandably don’t have much appetite for carrying on their backs those who choose to indulge their wants before their needs.

While potentially true, this doesn't nothing to diminish the fact that the people of Detroit own the water and have a right to it. He could have done the rest of us a favor and spared us an ill-informed lecture on rights and needs and wants and deleted the entire column up to this paragaph ... and then, realizing that this is mostly self-evident, just finished the job.

MDP unveils smartphone app to let you apply for an absentee ballot

July 17, 2014 by  
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This seems really smart.

Detroit will become the first city in Michigan to allow residents to apply for absentee ballots by touch-screen-enabled phones, officials announced Wednesday.

Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey and Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson announced the initiative at the city’s elections headquarters, saying the effort is to reach out to people ages 18-35 who might otherwise not get involved in the electoral process.

People in that age group “are the least engaged, yet they have cell phones attached to their hips,” Winfrey said. “So why not allow them to use their cell phones to apply to vote” by absentee ballot?

Here's the website.

Like I said, this seems like a really smart idea and obviously rolling it out in Detroit is a way to boost voter participation by the Democratic base.

Terri Lynn Land and the mysterious $3 million

July 17, 2014 by  
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I hate it when this happens.

WASHINGTON — Republican U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land has given her own campaign nearly $3 million this year and last, but nowhere in her federal financial disclosure form has she listed any bank accounts or other assets in her control worth that much.

Her campaign says it’s an oversight, claiming Land — who for two terms as Michigan’s secretary of state oversaw the enforcement of election laws — inadvertently failed to disclose a joint account she has with her husband, Dan Hibma.

Remember four months ago when the Beltway press was saying she had a shot to win because she was such a terrific candidate? Yeah, don't believe anything those people say.

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