Harvey Santana is sad that Senate Democrats locked Virgil Smith’s office

May 20, 2015 by  
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If you think of our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect as basically half a step better than the Russian parliament, this fits.

While none of the Democrats in the Senate will talk about this, fellow Detroit Democrat Rep. Harvey Santana does.

"This prejudicial action that the Democrats are pushing I think is wrong, " he said. "A whole lot of people are watching, especially in the city of Detroit."

FOX 2: "And what are they thinking?"

"That this is unfair," Santana said. "That this is arbitrary and capricious. To sit there and take your colleague and throw him under the bus is wrong."

I don't pretend to know the minds of most Detroiters. Hell, I don't pretend to know the minds of the people who live next door. But, if Harvey Santana thinks that a naked man running out of his home to shoot up someone's car with a rifle is appropriate conduct for someone serving in the Senate, then it says much more about Harvey Santana than the Democratic leadership.

Also, Skubick (and I can say this with the check from my last OTR appearance now cashed) ... we're letting Harvey Santana speak for the entire city?

Proposal 1 Yes campaign overseer fails upward to DeVos Super PAC

May 20, 2015 by  
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Well, now this is very interesting.

LANSING, MI (WHTC) - The Michigan Freedom Fund, which came into prominence during the passage of the Freedom to Work Act more than two years ago, will get a new leader. The Governor’s Director of External Affairs, Terri Reid, will leave the Snyder Administration after four years to become the super PAC’s president following the Memorial Day holiday. Reid had mixed success during her tenure, helping to defeat several constitutional ballot measures in 2012, but was also a leader in the failed Proposal 1 effort.

There was a rumor percolating during the Proposal 1 campaign that Reid was purposefully taking a dive to get a job down the road. The fact that she got a job right after Proposal 1 is probably not going to do anything to quell those rumors. I mean, who goes from a defeat of historical proportions to a job running something else?

Yes, Rep. Dillon, let’s legalize and tax marijuana

May 19, 2015 by  
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Our marijuana laws are out of date, a failure, a drag on society in general and reflective of a thankfully dead age when prohibition was sold to the public as a necessary way to stop black jazz musicians from despoiling our wholesome white women. Let's legalize it, tax it, and use the proceeds to pay for important things that our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect otherwise thinks are less important than cutting taxes for rich people.

Auto insurance is one part necessary, one part scam

May 19, 2015 by  
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The greatest phone conversation I've ever had was one morning towards the end of June 10 years ago. I was sitting at my computer, checking e-mails, when my auto insurance agent's office called. I was a month late paying my premiums, but I had no intention of paying them because I'd stopped driving my car the previous month and was getting around entirely by bicycle. The agent's receptionist informed me that if I didn't bring them a check for $250 that day that my insurance would be suspended and I'd be at risk for driving illegally. I told them I no longer needed their insurance, at least for six months.

The entire dynamic of the phone conversation changed on a dime. No longer did the insurance agent's receptionist think them entitled to $250 of my money they could squeeze out of my via threats. She now had to cajole it out of me. Finally, when they said that they could suspend my insurance for six months ... for a mere $250 (I was too late to do this for any cheaper, I was informed) ... I said, "No, I don't think we'll be doing that today," and ended the conversation. I don't remember if it was cloudy that morning, but it certainly felt like the sun was shining directly on me (which, since I was at a west-facing window, was impossible).

And that, boys and girls, is a sign of an industry that has lost its way. In the big picture sense, insurance exists to support risk-taking. If the risks are low, your premiums are low, because no one expects to have to make you whole. If your risks are high, your premiums are high, because you might well need be made whole. But it provides a service because it does make people whole, which helps to encourage people to take responsible risks. You may not like it, but it's very necessary to make any kind of modern economy go.

In this state, things have progressed beyond that. Insurance companies provide a criticial service. They have been allowed to go beyond that to engage in what amounts to legal extortion, bending the law to squeeze money out of people they have no legitimate right to. For a short period of time there was that onerous, obnoxious fine you had to pay if you couldn't prove to a cop on the spot that you had no insurance. There is also that odious, obnoxious nonsense about credit scoring and risk that punishes poor and young drivers, the people least positioned to stand up for themselves. There is now also this.

It's an L. Brooks Patterson piece about the No Fault Insurance catastrophic claims fund money raid that our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect tried to sneak through without anyone noticing. 

This kind of business behavior is not capitalism. It is kleptocracy, and it is a sign of an economy that has overall lost its way badly. The No Fault reforms aren't just bad policy as far as insurance goes, it says something about our way of commerce that at its heart is deeply sick. 

America’s shoutiest mayor has veto overridden over BWL post

May 19, 2015 by  
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I've been following the issue of Lansing's BWL -- the firing of Peter Lark and subsequent squabbling over how to reform the thing -- since that Christmas ice storm. But, this caught me a bit off guard.

LANSING – After nearly two months of debate, Lansing City Council voted 7-0 to oppose Mayor Virg Bernero's proposed inspector general position for the Board of Water & Light.

This move overrides Bernero's veto made last week of City Council's 7-1 vote to cut the $200,000 for the position and instead spend up to that amount for an audit by an independent agency. Any money left over would be put in the city's rainy day fund.

It's not that he lost a vote, it's that he was supposed to have won a veto override-proof supermajority on the council a couple of years ago. The fact that not only could he not get it but that he lost an unanimous vote is mighty interesting.

Lansing people, take this as your opportunity to discuss. 

I am the father of a teen: Open thread

May 16, 2015 by  
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Lordy, lordy, look who's ... 13. That's the boy this morning over breakfast. He technically doesn't turn 13 until sometime this evening. Right this second 13 years ago, his mother and I were still waiting for the doctor to get labor going. Not sure what exact time he was born because the day was all so very surreal.

Anyway, I'm now officially the parent of a teen. I'm not sure what to make of it. On one hand, it's great that I can send him out to run errands various places. On the other, he's now taller than I am and lets me know this at every opportunity. He's also at the age where I need to start really worrying about a) girls, b) drugs, c) beer, d) petty crime, e) a child who no longer talks to me.

Actually, scratch that last bit. He still talks to me. He's taken the last week to calling me a jackass, which might make me angry but it's kind of deserved. It's ... something probably best left unmentioned.

So, Happy Birthday, Sam. He won't actually read it, but I did take him to breakfast and probably said it there or before hand. As for the rest of you, the thread ... she's open.

Another media outlet thunders about Cotter’s budget fantasy, the state’s citizenry yawns

May 15, 2015 by  
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Someone mentioned in comments a few posts down about a certain bitterness at the Detroit Free Press discovering that it is outraged over Kevin Cotter's fantasy road funding proposal. It raises a great point, which is further illustrated by an MLive editorial this morning saying basically the same thing: The plan stinks, should be DOA and is the product of irresponsible lawmaking.

Well, I don't call it the ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect to send people running to the Google machine to figure out what the hell I'm on about.

As to MLive, it reminds us of Very Serious Person Phil Power's column the other day about the eroded influence of the state's editorial pages. Part of that is because no one is reading the state's editorial pages any more. Three decades ago, people started to lose the daily newspaper habit, and nothing useful was done to stanch the reader bleed. So, there are simply fewer eyes looking at editorials than in a very long time.

Even bigger, however, is that they've been beaten into submission by bellowing know-nothings accusing them of bias based on nothing more than ignorant certitude (a relative that Mssrs. Dunning and Kruger would recognize), so to placate those critics liberal-leaning editorial boards hem and haw over taking strong liberal positions while occasionally taking pains to take conservative positions on things, or at least appear to have fully examined it, so they can claim to be open minded. That includes issues where the conservative position is totally insane.

Conservatives don't give a shit, however. They know in their heart of hearts the outlet to be biased, they have no idea how editorial boards actually work, but they are certain they know how journalists do their work. They are not interested in nuance. You cannot soft pedal enough, say, that climate change is real. Once you poke your nose above the surface of the water, they are standing there with a baseball bat to teach you a lesson for committing the crime of being informed.

Most every other person who pays attention to these things understands this to be truth, and when they see media outlets trying to cater to people who already hate them, it causes them to lose respect. It's like watching your friend go to pains to placate the intractable asshole who always tells him how worthless he is. Eventually, you pull your friend aside and say, "Dude, think about your dignity."

Sen. Dark Money won’t give taxpayers a chance to have say on something he thinks they want

May 15, 2015 by  
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Programming note: A couple of months ago, I mentioned that posting might get downright sparse this month because of a job I'm working. We've hit that point. Spent 11 hours working yesterday, matter of fact. So, this was all over everyone's social media feeds two days ago, when I put in a mere 9-hour day., and yesterday when I was off the grid. On a positive note, I've sewn 60 feet of lettuce, 38 feet of chard, two packages of different peas, a shitload of beets and some carrots.

There isn't anything terribly surprising that our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect went after prevailing wage. What is galling, and what would be great if the state's collective media could express outrage over (not that it'd do any good, since no one cares what they think), is the affront to democracy it is.

"I don't think taxpayers should pay more for their buildings than the private sector does," said Senate Majority Leader ArlanMeekhof, R-West Olive, the sponsor of one of the three bills in the repeal package.


Added to one of the bills was a $75,000 appropriation, which makes the bill immune from a citizen referendum. Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, tried to get that appropriation removed so that voters could weigh in on the issue should the repeal pass, but her amendment failed and she was the lone vote against the repeal.

So, he doesn't think taxpayers should pay more, but he's not interested in knowing if taxpayers disagree with him, because he took that decision out of their hands.

A citizens' referendum we really need is for a law requiring that appropriations for legislation be made in a separate, standalone piece of legislation. This kind of nonsense has gone from being an occasional thing to a routine to make it hard to get rid of laws that lawmakers know are unpopular. If you have to make a law impossible to get rid of through the referendum process, it's probably a sign that you are passing the wrong law. These people don't give a shit, however. They know they're right and that everyone who disagrees with them is wrong, even if all the evidence in the world is against them. They have faith in ideology, which is a thing more mighty than mere facts.

Good Catholic boy Kevin Cotter wants to punish the poor to fix the roads

May 14, 2015 by  
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By now, probably most of you have heard about Kevin Cotter's delusional plan to fix the roads: Raid special funds and cutting funding for programs that help the poor. Economically speaking, as most of you know, this makes zero sense. But, that doesn't make any difference to the people in our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect. They have their ideology and they're sticking to it.

The Freep, on the other hand, resides in the real world, where balancing the budgets on the backs of the working poor is not only lacking in compassion but also taking the money from the people most likely to use on goods and services. You know, create jobs.

But, as we were reminded last week, newspaper editorials carry virtually no weight, especially with people who live in a fantasy world.

Virgil Smith’s Senate seat should be vacated, either through resignation or by other means

May 13, 2015 by  
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This happened last night.

DETROIT - State Sen. Virgil Smith has been charged with domestic violence, felonious assault and other charges in connection with a shooting incident involving his ex-wife at his Detroit home.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced the charges Tuesday.

Smith, 35, also is charged with malicious destruction of property and felony firearm.

These charges are serious enough that waiting for a legal outcome is really unnecessary. Sen. Smith should make himself the ex-Sen. Smith and resign his seat. And, this is what leadership looks like.

"We are responsible for ensuring the people of Michigan, and the people of the 4th Senate District, are represented by a Senator who can serve them effectively. To that end, Senator Smith has been removed from his committees and been relieved of his caucus responsibilities, effective immediately," Ananich said in a statement Tuesday.

If he doesn't resign, they ought to take steps to force him out.

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