Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday Michigan PoliLinks

As The Curmudgeon rejoices in the ability of the Ann Arbor football team to actually score a touchdown against the East Lansing football team, we ponder the weekend's finest from the internet and beyond...

The Endorsement That Isn't
The Detroit Free Press, in Sunday's lead editorial, says it supports the reelection of Rick Snyder as Governor.
And then it devotes the rest of the editorial to building a case for why Snyder shouldn't be reelected. A few direct quotes from the "endorsement":
 ...caving to radical elements of the GOP-led Legislature, (and) going back on his word about transparency
...balanced the budget at the expense of cities and school districts
...deficiencies as a deal-maker have sometimes resulted in terrible consequences for Michiganders
...Snyder's move to eliminate or pare back most tax credits hit middle- and low-income earners hard. Overall, individuals pay about $900-million more each year than they did before Snyder was governor.
...If Snyder's (economic reform) scheme had jump-started job creation the way he predicted, there'd be little to criticize today. But each year since the new tax system has been in place, Michigan has added fewer and fewer jobs...
...Snyder's tax structure badly needs alteration. 
...When it comes to education, Snyder just doesn't seem to get it.
...Snyder...has failed to propose a plan to substantively increase our state's (college) degreed ranks.
...Michigan, during Snyder's tenure, has become a less tolerant state – with more restrictions on reproductive rights and fewer labor protections.
...Snyder's self-fashioned profile as a champion of transparency has become a joke.
...The governor's record of protecting Michigan's natural assets is pretty sorry...
...The governor's leadership failures include his inability so far, to get a roads package through the Legislature, and his many refusals to stand up to his own party when its instincts run to the politically obnoxious or vindictive.
The endorsement really is about three issues:
  • The Freep thinks the pension tax is a swell idea.
  • Snyder's role in reshaping the finances of Detroit. Yes, he did it by suspending democracy and installing a state-appointed dictator. But it worked, and the ends always justify the means (at least, in the minds of the Free Press editorial board members).
  • Republicans will definitely continue to control at least one house of the Legislature, so electing Schauer would lead to gridlock. (If that's the argument, why bother electing a Governor? We should have a parliamentary system instead.)
If this is a Governor the newspaper thinks should continue to guide this state, Michigan is in big, big trouble.

Another Day, Another Poll

The latest is from CBS News/YouGov.com. It shows
  • Mark Schauer leading Rick Snyder 41-40% (within the margin of error) (with leaners split 4-4%, and 11% undecided)
  • Gary Peters leading What's Her Name 45-38%, with leaners 4-3% for Peters.
The most interesting findings of this poll is that Schauer leads Snyder among self-identified "moderates" 44-32%; Peters swamps Land 56-26% among moderates.

Hell Freezes Over - Livingston County Edition

The oh-so-conservative Livingston County Press endorses Democrats about as often as University of North Carolina athletes go to class. Well, not quite that rare, but you get the idea.
The paper is true to tradition this cycle, endorsing the entire Republican ticket...
EXCEPT...
the paper urges the election of Eric Schertzing to Congress. The Curmudgeon doesn't think all that much of newspaper endorsements, but this one could be important.
The voters of Livingston County are the "swing" voters in the 8th Congressional District. East Lansing's Eric Schertzing will easily sweep Ingham County, and Rochester's Mike "The Obstructionist" Bishop should carry the well-gerrymandered portion of his home count (Oakland) that is in the district. 
So the low-information voters in Livingston may well turn to their newspaper for a little guidance in a race between two guys they don't know.
The reason for the endorsement?
It could have easily been Bishop's role as Senate Majority Leader in shutting down Michigan government twice, or his non-stop obstructionism which only served to make things worse during Michigan's "lost decade". It could be his obsequiese subservience to Ambassador Bridge millionaire Matty Maroun, with Bishop leading the charge in the Legislature to scuttle the much-needed new International Bridge Crossing between Detroit and Windsor. But it isn't.
The issue is his promises to "repeal" Obamacare (ain't gonna happen), and what that signals:
To make the repeal of the Affordable Care Act the top priority would be to continue the political gridlock that has paralyzed Washington for another two years. It's time to move on.
The paper points to Schertzing's unflagging support for Social Security and Medicare, "programs that many in the district rely on and would be impoverished if they had to do without That is a much more worthy goal."
The paper also cites Schertzing's level-headed resume of public service, leadership with creation of the highly successful Ingham County Land Bank, and support for the International Trade Crossing Bridge.
Throughout the campaign it has been clear that Eric Schertzing is a pragmatic public servant who is focused on getting things done, while Mike Bishop is a right-wing ideologue focused on stopping things from getting done. And, despite clame>ims of the Detroit Free Press in its editorial page Sunday, the 8th District is only marginally Republican (Obama carried it in 2008, 52-46).

We're All Going to Die

Republicans (and some Democrats, like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo) and the cable networks are having a pre-election orgy of doomsaying and fear-mongering over ebola. Let's get real for just a moment.
To date no American has died of ebola. The only persons who have caught the disease in the United States are healthcare workers who have treated Ebola patients. Nobody on the outside of the healthcare bubble has been infected, including the relatives of Thomas Eric Duncan who lived with him just before he was readmitted to the hospital.
Yes, it is a horrible disease if you catch it. But you ain't gonna catch it unless 1) you are a careless caregiver, or 2) you travel to Liberia
Before we get our panties in a bunch, we should put it in context. In an average U.S. day:
  • 30 people die of gunshot wounds
  • 1, 634 will die of heart disease (much of it preventable)
  • 1,580 will die of cancer (often curable if diagnosed early)
  • 233 will die of Alzheimer's disease
  • 202 will die of diabetes (often preventable)
  • 147 will die of the flu or pneumonia
  • 108 will intentionally kill themselves
  • 65 infants will die (we have one of the highest infant mortality rates in the developed world)
  • NOBODY dies of ebola
    (Source: Centers for Disease Control)
Remember the swine flu? SARS? Those were two diseases that put us in a panic. The epidemics never happened, because our public health system works pretty well. Still does.
I'll put a lot more trust in the public health professionals in the CDC and NIH than I will in pandering politicians like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.

Snyder Transforms Executive Residence to a Club House

The Governor's official residence was donated to the state during the Milliken administration. The Blanchard, Engler and Granholm families all lived (and worked) there. The Curmudgeon spent many evenings at the residence as a part of the Blanchard economic development team at what we recognized as working receptions. And all governors have used the residence for political entertaining.
But it was first-and-foremost the home for the First Family. It was expanded by both the Blanchards and Englers to make it a little more workable for a family with kids, setting up a family-only section which provided some level of privacy to the spouses and children. The kitchen was also converted from upscale residential to commercial-grade in recognition of all the entertaining conducted at the residence. All of the improvements were funded by donations.
Rick Snyder considered moving to the 8,700-square-foot home slumming, so he commutes from his Ann Arbor mansion which offers more privacy and (probably) more luxurious surroundings. It also allows his children to continue to attend their pricey private schools in Ann Arbor rather than transferring to Lansing-area public schools. (Jamie Blanchard attended Okemos High School; the Granholm/Mulhern kids enrolled in East Lansing public schools; the Engler twins were pre-school during Dad's reign.)
Common Cause of Michigan has raised some red flags over a new "best practice" from our Accountant in Chief: loaning out the state's home to private groups, including lobby groups and (certain) political parties.
Mind you, there is no rental fee. Donations to the tax-exempt foundation which maintains the house are encouraged. Says Snyder's mouthpiece, Sara Wurfel, told Free Press reporter Kathleen Gray the groups "may offer donations" for the use of the most exclusive home in Lansing.

Today in the Ad Wars

The latest TV ad supporting Mark Schauer for Governor, from the Michigan Democratic Party, hones in on the Snyder tax record: higher taxes on seniors, lower taxes for businesses, sweetheart deals for family and friends.


Taking Big Money Out of Politics

MayDay PAC is devoted to one issue: reforming our campaign finance system in hopes that the billionaires (and richer millionaires) will let us common folk control our elections and elected officials again.
As part of the effort, it sponsored a competition for production of a TV ad exemplifying the organization's goals, as well as a candidate-specific spot. Sadly, the latter competition winner is not a supporter of Paul Clements (endorsed in his battle with Whirlpool heir Fred Upton) ...but both spots are pretty good.




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