Bridge says that governor was lying when he lied about pension tax

August 19, 2014 by  
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The thing I hate the most about Very Serious Person-driven political truth squading is the tendency to try to parse things down to finite details rather than just simply coming out and saying something. For instance, when our benevolent overlord Rick Michigan helped scale back Michigan's pension tax credit, everyone recognized that while it was technically ending a tax credit that it was in fact a new tax on pensions, which had been previously safe from taxation. Everyone understood this because of the very simple cause-and-effect relationship involved: Income from pensions that was previously untaxed because of a tax credit were now subject to the income tax.

Earlier this summer, our benevolent overlord Rick Michigan tried to get out from under that by telling a room from olds that it wasn't actually a pension tax. Everyone kind of laughed because it was so bald faced and obvious. Bridge this morning finally got around to flagging it as a "foul."

For those keeping score at home, it was a more significant lie than last year's PolitiFact's lie of the year, which was the president saying that if you like you insurance that you could keep it. What makes these different is that when people's health insurance got canceled, it was mostly the insurance companies doing the canceling and not the president. This is a public official who is actually responsible for something and trying to duck accountability for it by passing it off as something that it ain't.

If’n you please, no longer refers to Michigan simply as “a dump”

August 19, 2014 by  
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"Too much proximity to folly tends to make it seem normal."--Ed Abbey

As some of you already know, I just got back from backpacking yesterday afternoon. I was gone a week, which was apparently just long enough for this to strike me as idiocy of the highest order.

As other states ban landfills from accepting low-level radioactive waste, up to 36 tons of the sludge already rejected by two other states was slated to arrive in Michigan late last week.

Let me sum up the story for you: A landfill in Wayne County is accepting low-level radioactive fracking waste that other states won't accept and that, in the case of Ohio, the state's were recommending Michigan as a destination. Among the many WTF questions from that previous question is just how much radioactive waste is created through fracking that doesn't actually get removed from the well?

This is your addiction to fossil fuels, people, and it's killing humanity's future one day at a time.

Terri Lynn Land: A taker, not a maker

August 19, 2014 by  
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Today we learn what Terri Lynn Land's effective tax the last three years: Less than 3 percent.

Land’s payments to the tax man are less clear. In July, Land released her 2012 and 2013 tax records to The News, showing she filed separately from her husband, Daniel Hibma — a wealthy west Michigan developer — and earned $44,726 in 2012 and $89,729 in 2013. Her effective tax rate was 2.7 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively.

On Monday, Land defended her low tax rate, saying it was due to her substantial contributions to charity.

The average Michigan taxpayer paid an effective tax rate of 12.9 percent of adjusted gross income in 2012, while the national average was 13.7 percent, according to the most recently available Internal Revenue Service data.

That's effective tax rate on her earned income, mind you. She was able to get away with an effective tax rate of below 5 percent -- below 5 percent -- because a lot of the money she made came by way of capital gains from an apartment building she owns. The entire story, by the way, should be required reading by all members of the media as it relates to issues that are of actual substantive importance in understanding who it is that we're being asked to vote for. It's a useful alternative to the mishmash of horse race nonsense and summaries of political ads that have constituted political campaign coverage the last couple of cycles. Who these people are is how they will help govern.

In this case, Terri Lynn Land doesn't have much use for a day job. She can literally give away most of her income to charity because most of her money comes in via investment. How many people do you know who live like this?

Her communications strategy on this is also just plain terrible. It is one dash "Making an issue out of Terri Lynn Land's income tax returns is as terrible as that time we said that Gary Peters wants you to pay for his daugthers' elective abortions," and one dash "Terri Lynn has such little use for her middle class income that she can donate most of it." The one is bizarre and stupid on its face; the other simply sends the message that she is out of touch with how most people live.

And now, a word from our … awwww, nuts

August 19, 2014 by  
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Thanks to TJ Bucholz and the team at Vanguard Public Affairs for sponsoring Michigan Liberal this last little while. In fact, they did such good work, that one of their team dropped off my son and I at the trailhead last week, but also picked us up yesterday. That's service!

The space is open and empty right now. It's a sad little space begging for some attention.

Are you a campaign hoping to introduce yourself to media and political people across the state? Are you the sort of person who reads the content here and says, "I can get behind this to the tune of X-number of dollars."? Are you sick of my whining already and just want it to end? If so, a sponsorship is probably a thing you should do.

Cost is $360 a month, $100 a week or $25 by the day. If you sponsor for the next month, it's my happy privilege to report that you'll be sponsoring this website on my birthday. What better gift could you give (a nice bottle of bourbon, perhaps).

Contact me at, or via text at 517/881-8008 or over Teh Social Medias to reserve space or find out more.

Today in campaign news: Dems’ 3rd Supreme Court nomination

August 18, 2014 by  
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Brace yourselves - Eric will be back to tormenting enlightening us on these here pages in the coming days. You've been warned.

*-- We've known that Richard Bernstein would likely be nominated for one of the eight-year terms on the Court, with Deborah Thomas to be nominated for a two-year term. But what about the other eight-year term? Late last week, it was announced that the Michigan Association for Justice is supporting Jucge Bill Murphy for that slot. Murphy is the chief judge on the Michigan Court of Appeals. However, now there are concerns from a number of individuals regarding Murphy's views on choice. I have not been able to find anything that would corroborate those concerns - but long story short, we may have a contest at the Democratic convention this weekend. 

*--We're still months  away from the start of the next Legislature, but already there's posturing among Republicans to see who will be the new House Republican leader. Al Pscholka announced that Lisa Lyons is supporting him, with Lyons likely to take another leadership role. Kevin Cotter says he's got the support of 25 lawmakers - but he's in danger of losing his own seat to Bryan Mielke this fall. Which begs the question: If he does lose, will Cotter's supporters back Pscholka? If not, who will they back?

*--Mark Totten has a new video.

Today in campaign news: Tense times for Republicans

August 14, 2014 by  
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*--#JustLikeTheDetroitFlood is a thing on Twitter.

*--Republican county conventions are taking place tonight. The one in Oakland County will feature extra security.

“The tea party people have advocated throwing chairs if they don’t get what they want,” Thienel told The Detroit News. “At the first sign of unruly behavior, we will recess. ... I will do everything in my power to ensure that nothing happens.”


Maddock, a bail bondsman, said Thursday he is prepared to be arrested.

Gongwer and Chad Livengood are there.

Today in campaign news: Snyder’s Katrina?

August 13, 2014 by  
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*-- Since when is damage to your vacation house anything like having your only home flooded? Since this morning, apparently.

"I've been through a lot of things like that, Frank," Snyder said on WJR. "We just recently had holes in our roof from storm damage to our lake house. We have a vacation place, and we had a limb come down, put holes in the roof and had water running through the whole place. Those experiences are not pleasant ones."

Should be worth noting that in addition to his lake home and his place in Ann Arbor, he's got a mansion on the Grand River in Lansing and a cottage on Mackinac Island. Granted, he'll be losing the latter two on New Year's, but still.

*-- Michigan's unemployment rate jumped from 7.5% to 7.7% - a contrast to the national figures which show that June had the highest percentages of job openings since 2001.

*-- The wolf hunt thing passed the Senate today. 

Today in campaign news: On the tube

August 12, 2014 by  
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First and foremost, I hope all of you affected by the flooding are okay. It appears lots of folks throughout the metro Detroit area were affected in one way or another. I can't imagine what you all are going through. We actually had a small tornado come through last month, but all that happened here was a loss of power. On a totally different note, can I just point out how cruel the Grim Reaper is for taking both Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall in about 24 hours of each other? Okay, back to campaign stuff.

*--The Schauer campaignDGA, and Michigan Nurses Association all have new ads.

*--Meanwhile, the Koch Brothers' ads have been put on hold for the time being. On the other hand, "Ending Spending" and the NRSC are ramping up their ad buys. It appears that they realize that the Koch brothers have a bad name here in Michigan.

*--Retired Justice Marilyn Kelly looks to be running for Wayne State Board of Governors, according to MIRS. Nominees for those posts will be decided at the convention next weekend.

*--Bill Schuette has $1.9 million in the bank to Mark Totten's $150,000. No word on if any of that was raised at a funeral. Either way, Schuette's going to need it - he'll struggle to get young people to support an anti-equality AG.

Absentee Voting Data From the Primary

August 11, 2014 by  
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I've put together a set of charts showing how quickly absentee ballots were returned, along with an examination of the characteristics of people who failed to return their ballot at all.

My goals:

1) Convincing everybody that people do not generally return their absentee ballots right away - the supposed rule of thumb that half the ballots are returned in the first week is completely bogus.  And

2) A very important and overlooked GOTV target should be voters who request a ballot but never actually return it.  Among some groups of voters, 15% or even 25% of their votes are lost, because campaigns fail to understand that the battle for votes isn't over when the ballot is requested, but only when it's filled out and returned. 

Chart #1 shows that people who fail to return their ballots tend to be political independents / ticket-splitters. The strong partisans are driven by their clear opinions to make sure their voices are heard.  The conflicted middle of the spectrum includes a larger number of ditherers. 


Percentage of AV ballots not returned by August 5, 2014

By partisan orientation of voter


 0-4     156075      10%    

 5-14     42468      14%    

 15-24    20805      16%    

 25-34    15819      16%    

 35-44    14422      17%    

 45-54    15183      18%    

 55-65    15871      19%    

 65-74    17731      18%    

 75-84    19223      16%    

 85-94    30473      17%    

 95-100  143048      11%    


Chart #2 shows that failing to return their ballot is mainly a problem among people who don't have much experience with absentee voting, especially people who have NEVER previously voted absentee. This ought to be especially noted by the MDP which is constantly trying to convert Michigan's "absentee voting" laws into "early voting", by soliciting people who aren't traditional absentee voters to apply. Even if they succeed, they ought to keep the pressure on, or else much of their effort will prove to be in vain.


Percentage of ballots not returned by August 5, 2014

By number of previous absentee ballots cast


    0  18043   29%    

    1  27734   21%    

    2  27701   19%    

    3  24465   17%    

    4  22734   17%    

    5  21478   16%    

    6  20471   15%    

    7  19581   14%    

    8  19540   13%    

    9  18738   12%    

   10  17822   12%    

   11  16559   11%    

   12  15819   10%    

   13  14964   10%    

   14  14480   10%    

   15  13812   10%    

   16  12946    9%    

   17  12628    9%    

   18  12342    9%    

   19  12091    9%    

   20  11888    8%    

   21  11867    8%    

   22  11804    8%    

   23  11689    8%    

   24  12162    7%    

   25  12012    6%    

   >25 55748    6%    


Chart #3 shows that returning the absentee ballot to be counted is an inverse U-shaped curve, with both younger and very old voters failing to return their ballots.  Among the very elderly, of course, the issue is likely to be declining health among people who were previously completely dependable.  Among the youngsters, the problem is more likely to be lack of experience with AV ballots, and lack of interest and/or knowledge about the election.

Both of those problems can be substantially reduced by applying money and volunteers to the problem.  And knowing the shape of the curve can help free up the needed resources, since they aren't much needed among voters aged 62-80, who make up the bulk of absentee voters. 

Percentage of ballots not returned by August 5, 2014

By number decade of birth.


1900's      14    21%    

1910's    4242    18%    

1920's   62904    13%    

1930's  147536    10%    

1940's  182319    11%    

1950's   61674    16%    

1960's   17525    23%    

1970's    7179    27%    

1980's    4554    28%    

1990's    3169    27%    


Finally, chart #4 shows that relatively few ballots were returned promptly; in reality the returns started slow, and picked up week-by-week as the election approached.

Part of this pattern might be explained by Prop 1, whose language was a model of murkiness.  But the same pattern appears in almost every even-year August and November election, because there are generally enough complexities to force the conscientious to phone around and ask for advice.  If it isn't a tangled tax proposal, it's a primary for Probate Judge, or a Library District renewal. 


Date Ballots were returned


06/18     109   

06/19     257   

06/20     285   

06/23    1053   

06/24     997   

06/25    1190   

06/26    1309   

06/27    2078   

06/28     110   

06/30    5519   

07/01    5416   

07/02    6329   

07/03    5316   

07/05     125   

07/06     114   

07/07   13457   

07/08   11971   

07/09   11467   

07/10   12397   

07/11   11623   

07/12     398   

07/14   22388   

07/15   18606   

07/16   18140   

07/17   15380   

07/18   11275   

07/19     454   

07/20     230   

07/21   19572   

07/22   15981   

07/23   15824   

07/24   14438   

07/25   12521   

07/26     701   

07/27     194   

07/28   21342   

07/29   23206   

07/30   21490   

07/31   21470   

08/01   22831   

08/02   16019   

08/03     638   

08/04   44622   

08/05   22655   


From the same people who were only moderately upset by maggots in prison food

August 11, 2014 by  
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Our benevolent overlord Rick Michigan's people: The same people who said that it was no big deal to craft eduction policy in the shadows with people paid for by a anonymously-funded slush fund; the same people who said that there was no connection between campaign donations and a backdated pollution permit; the same people who excuse lavish spending by education and housing executives as part of the cost of doing business; the same people who said ... well, you get the point.

On a related note, the Au Sable river has a reputation as a trout fishery that extends well beyond Michigan.

In yesterday's Freep.

The permit allows Harrietta Hills Grayling fish hatchery owner Dan Vogler — who is leasing the property for $1 a year from Crawford County — to increase fish production on the nearly century-old facility from 20,000 pounds to about 300,000 pounds.

Vogler’s fish farm in the Upper Peninsula was contaminated with whirling disease, an invasive parasite that thrives in the sludgy environment created by phosphorous fish feces. Anglers are concerned that could happen again on the Au Sable. Whirling disease triggered failures in rainbow trout out west, and some streams have lost up to 90% of their trout.

The punchline...

“What if something happens? Will he abandon the facility and let it go bankrupt, letting the citizens deal with the mess? A performance bond makes sense,” said Baird.

The DEQ rejected the request, stating, “If there was a catastrophic failure of the waste management system that resulted in significant negative impact on the Au Sable River or fishery, and the permittee was financially unable to remedy the situation, the state of Michigan would be able to utilize its resources, knowledge, and experience in operating aquaculture facilities to restore facility, the river and fishery.”

So, yes, Baird is right. It would fall on taxpayers.

Socialized costs, privatized profits. The free market is a great idea. We should even try it out someday.

It would be wrong to lay the responsibility for this solely at the feet of our current governor. It's his people who are ultimtely responsible, including the statement that we should all just relax and stop complaining because if this guy screws up the state will land on him with a pair of iron-toed sized 12 boots. Of course, things didn't quite work out that way for Aramark, but that's a different story.

Really, though, the way these people approach the environment and really everything evokes this memories of this line.

Wilfred responds only to things that have weight and bulk and value! He FEELS books, he doesn't read them! He APPRAISES paintings, he doesn't seek out their truth or their beauty!

It comes straight to us from a Tee Vee show that was perhaps the best written in that medium's history, The Twilight Zone.

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