Michigan Republicans List Things They Forgot to Do

On the heels of successfully passing an SBT replacement, in a bewildering announcement, Republicans released a laundry list of government reforms and cuts they forgot to implement while they controlled the Governor’s seat and both houses of the Legislature over five years ago.

“We apologize to our constituents for the oversight. But amid all the tax-cuts, and the cutting and privatization of state services, we forgot to implement this list of fixes,” said Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop.

Republicans want Governor Granholm to agree to all the items on their list before they will consider a tax increase of any kind. They suggested she mull the items over while the Senate takes a two-week vacation.

Asked why these items weren’t all implemented during the John Engler Administration, Senator Bishop replied, “We did a lot of things that were good for us, including the Roger’s Law. Unfortunately, we didn’t fix our spending problem, even though we said we did. This list is our final step in doing so. After this, I swear, there won’t be anything left to reform or cut. We will have the bare bones government the citizens of Michigan want and deserve…Until we privatize all public education that is.”

Among the cuts and reforms on the Republicans’ list are a pay freeze for all state employees, a freeze on a new state earned income tax credit for low-income workers, a change in work requirements for welfare recipients, and the privatization of part of the prison system.

Acknowledging that the list makes Republicans look irresponsible or even downright forgetful, Senator Bishop said he was confident though that Michigan voters would understand and forgive them. “They know how hard we work on their behalf.”

Senator Bishop then added, “Anything the Governor and my buddy Speaker Dillon could do to help us implement these items would be a big help not only to [Republicans], but to me especially when I run for Governor in 2010.”


That Hitchens Person

Everytime I read an article about Christopher Hitchens like this or come across anything about his book “God Is Not Great”, I can’t help but think of the following passage from the opening pages of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”,

Not only is [the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy] a wholly remarkable book, it is also a highly successful one–more popular than the Celestial Home Care Omnibus, better selling than Fifty-three More Things to Do in Zero Gravity, and more controversial than Oolon Coluphid’s trilogy of philosophical blockbusters, Where God Went Wrong, Some More of God’s Greatest Mistakes and Who Is This God Person Anyway?

and I feel absolutely no need to read anything by that Hitchens person anyway. I’m sure the “Hitchhiker’s Guide” sells much better than “God Is Not Great.”

Michigan Capitol Notes

A round-up of action at the state capitol, Lansing…

At-Will Legislative Calendar
Senate Republicans today passed a measure designed to increase their productivity by not locking their chamber into a set calendar, allowing them to break for vacation or recess at the will of the chamber. Their next break, despite a large number of unresolved budgetary issues, commences Thursday June 28. Senator Mike Bishop indicated he is not interested in canceling his vacation to resolve the budget issues, even though it leaves school districts around the state scrambling to approve monies for the next fiscal year without knowing how much revenue the state will actually provide.

Meanwhile, the Senate also passed a measure requiring intermediate school districts and their member schools to adopt a single, common school calendar, with defined breaks for Holidays.

Asked about the chances of passing the At-Will Calendar and the Common School Calendar bills in the House of Representatives, a spokesman for Speaker Andy Dillon said, “It’s too early to comment on the legislation.”

Michigan Not Exotic Enough to be Junket Destination
Sen. Michelle McManus says Michigan is not a junket destination. The issue arose when asked about a charter fishing trip she and several other lawmakers are taking next week, paid for by the Michigan Legislative Sportsmen’s Foundation. McManus, who chairs the Senate Campaign and Election Oversight Committee, said, “Let’s be clear: This is a donation from the charter boat fishermen. It would be no different than if a friend offered to take me out (fishing).”

“If I was going to go on a junket, I’d go to Hawaii and all those other places with everyone else,” she said.

Asked whether he or other Democrats would accept such a sport fishing trip, a spokesman for Speaker Dillon said, “No comment.”

Reward for Missing Spine
Michigan House Democrats made the stunning announcement today that their Leadership’s Spine was missing. Anyone with information leading to its recovery will be eligible for a cash reward of $20,000.

When asked how the spine of the Democratic House Leadership could be missing in the first place, Speaker Dillon said through a spokesman, “I’m not going to comment on an ongoing search and rescue mission.”

Despite the seeming urgency, canceling vacations to look for their spine would be a waste of time now said Rep. George Cushingberry because there wasn’t enough interest in doing so. “I don’t know what the point is.” He also pointed out that the Senate is going on vacation. So if the Senate is going on vacation, the House might as well, too.

Anyone with information on the missing spine is encouraged to contact the House Leadership.

No Spokesman Necessary
In related news, Speaker Dillon fired his spokesman. In a written statement he said, “Whenever I am asked how I respond to the latest criticism leveled at the Governor by Senator Mike Bishop, or what I think about any other matter, it is far easier to for me to simply say No Comment than it is to waste taxpayer dollars paying someone to say it.”

Asked how he thought the increased spokesman duties would impose on his already busy workload, Speaker Dillon said, “I’m not going to comment on personnel issues.”

Wanted: Copy Editor

Wanted: Copy Editor for the MIGOP Blog
Status: Full-time
Relevant Work Experience: N/A
Education Level: N/A
Location: Lansing, MI

The Michigan Republican Party is a rapidly growing, cutting edge, political organization based in the state capitol of Lansing, focused on three things: increasing its membership, widening the reach of its influence, and winning elections. We will accomplish our goals by demanding smaller government at the expense of needed services, decrying illegal immigration while allowing our corporate contributors to employ illegal immigrants, denying homosexuals the right to anything but conversion therapy, and claiming the ongoing Iraqi Civil War is the forward march of democracy.

As a Copy Editor you will edit the State Republican Party Chairman’s blog posts before they go on the web site every day, sometimes 7 days a week. (No comment monitoring will be necessary as the Republican Party does not believe commentary is necessary on the party’s site. That function has been outsourced to the Detroit News web site at considerable savings.) You must be able to work in a fast-paced reactionary environment and have knowledge of Microsoft Word and web development tools (Dreamweaver, etc.). Experience with strident spastic shriekers is a plus. Previous membership in the YAF is an even bigger plus.

Responsibilities include;

  • Nominal English writing ability. No writing samples are necessary.
  • A passion for the Party Message, oversimplifying concepts, and confounding readers’ understanding of political problems and processes.
  • An ability to work passively with other employees as a part of a team.
  • An appreciation for unique forms of punctuation.
  • An incurious mind without the capacity to think critically.
  • An ability to communicate stridently with others.

Pay is competitive. Health and 401k plans are also available. The Republican Party is not an EOE.

Persons who have previously held this position have gone on to greater prestige as fact-checkers for such distinguished Republican party supporters as Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh, and the scrupulous speechwriters of President George W. Bush.

My To Be Read (TBR) Pile

Below is a picture of my TBR pile. It just keeps growing. By some standards it’s not very high. By mine, it’s too high. And it’s about to get higher now that my wife was kind enough to get me a gift card to a certain chain bookstore that also sells music and DVDs. So unless I buy some operas or DVDs, I’m liable to increase the height of my pile.

This stack doesn’t necessarily represent my priorities, though the ones at the top are the ones I’m most likely to read first. That could change based on a whim. Here they are and why they’re in my pile.

Boy Gets Girl by Rebecca Gilman – I haven’t seen any of Gilman’s plays yet. I picked up Blue Surge at a used book store, tore through it, and parts of it still linger in my mind. So I went back and bought Boy Gets Girl.

The Salon by Nick Bertozzi – Read a spirited review of it in the Sun-Times and ordered it. I read the first 30 or so pages and was transfixed by its images and its humor. Then put it down because I was still reading another book that I needed to finish and review first. The only graphic novels I’ve read so far are Persepolis 1 and 2 by Marjane Satrapi. (Those are excellent.) I was not a comic book kid. Skatepunks were into comic books and graphic novels. Metalheads like me were into Dungeons and Dragons and science fiction. But based on the Gen-Xers and Gen-Yers who review movies and books these days, it seems not to many of us old Metalheads ever climbed their way into the upper echelons of the Culture Critics.

The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O’Neil – Impulse checkout at the library while picking up a few children’s books to read to my 2-year-old son. Haven’t seen it performed or read it before. Feel like I should because I liked Long Day’s Journey into Night and O’Neil is one of the giants of American Drama.

The Tears of Autumn by Charles McCarry – Classic political thriller about a CIA agent who thinks the Vietnamese were behind the JFK assassination. So far it’s a fun and highly intriguing read. I got the hardcover first edition at a used book store this past weekend for 5 bucks. You can see the price tag on the spine.

Divine Days by Leon Forrest – This beast of a tome (1100 pages) has been my “Currently Reading” book for months now. It is rich, dense, bawdy, astute, Faulknerian, and Joycean all at once. It can not be read quickly. My initial reaction is that it’s the final gasp of Modernism as developed and practiced by Faulkner and Joyce. Besides, it’s set in Chicago by a Chicago writer, and I’ve been doing my best to read anything by and about my home city. (Would still like to get to Sara Peretzky.)

The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy – This mention by Maud Newton made me order it. It is published by the New York Review Books, which is an excellent source of rescued books that deserve to be in print.

Words Without Borders – This anthology put out by the people behind the web site Words Without Borders was an impulse pick up by me a month or so ago at Everybody Reads Bookstore. I’ve been dipping into it occasionally and so far, the handful of stories I’ve read have only made me wish that those authors’ complete works had already been translated into English…so that I could buy them and add them to my TBR pile.

At the Same Time: Essays and Speeches by Susan Sontag – read this review in PopMatters and combined with that amazing essay by her in the Guardian (no longer available on their site), I bought it.

Oh Pure and Radiant Heart by Lydia Millet – Bought directly from Softskull Press (along with Everyone’s Pretty) when they were having their Being Bought Out Sale. I liked Everyone’s Pretty. So I have high hopes for this one.

Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys – Because my friend Sarah Kate Levy has an essay in it. So far I’ve only read her essay, which was very good, funny, and tender. When I was at USC, I was in the same poetry class as one of the anthology’s editors Tom Dolby, who wrote the novel The Trouble Boy. (His poetry was much better than mine.)

The Tin Flute by Gabrielle Roy – I visited Montreal last summer and read Mordechai Richler’s The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. Then I wanted to read some Quebecois writers. Yes, in English because my French is nowhere near good enough to tackle a whole novel.

The Known World by Edward P. Jones – Much-revered work published only a few years ago.

Dear Digby by Carol Muske-Dukes – My wife picked this up for me a year ago from the USC bookstore, before we left L.A.

A House for Mr. Biswas by V. S. Naipaul – Been meaning to read something by Naipaul for some time…

Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros – Her early book The House on Mango Street is a classic that I have enjoyed reading a few times.

Gates of the Sun by Elias Khoury – Palestinian writer whose 1998 book was recently translated. We don’t get much opportunity in the States to read works in translation. So I jumped at this highly-recommended one.

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner – I’ve read it before. But this book can not be reread enough. I’ve been known to reread just the Addie Bundren section.

And so when Cora Tull would tell me I was not a true mother, I would think how words go straight up in a thin line, quick and harmless, and how terribly doing goes along the earth, clinging to it, so that after a while the two lines are too far apart for the same person to straddle from one to the other; and that sin and love and fear are just sounds that people who never sinned nor loved nor feared have for what they never had and cannot have until they forget the words. Like Cora, who could never even cook.

A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain – This is on loan from my sister. She’s going to want it back at some point. Kitchen Confidential was fantastic. And I love Bourdain’s show on the Travel Channel “No Reservations.”

So, how many is that? 18.

Shoot. I forgot Clayhanger by Arnold Bennett. An English friend loaned this to me a few months ago. Not sure when I’m going to get to this one either. Argh. That makes 19.

This past weekend a former professor of mine from undergrad recommended Tolstoy’s Anna Karennina. Which I still haven’t read. There are a number of classics I haven’t read…I won’t list them here…Which just leads me to think and despair, as always, that there is never enough time to read all of the books I want to read…

Enough kvetching.

Back to my pile. I’ve got to make it lower.

Journalism’s Digital Future

Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down and Killing Pablo, has a very interesting piece up at PopMatters about the digital future of journalism.

I wrote recently that I believe newspapers, despite their current hard times, will ultimately survive. I think the print edition will probably endure to some extent, but, without any doubt, the future of daily journalism is digital, not because it is the latest thing, but because it is, quite simply, a far better medium than paper and ink.

He goes on to say.

The old idea of reporters covering a beat might well be replaced by an online reporter/editor who oversees a subject area driven by the entire community—a constantly updating police blotter or transit map, for instance. Digital thinkers refer to this as a pro-am (professional-amateur) model, in which the reporter is corrected, tipped off and guided—just as I was with “Black Hawk Down”—by the expertise of his readers. Blog sites offer a rudimentary working model.

Old fuddy-duddies like me will still want their news on paper and in the driveway every morning, but we won’t live forever, and already two of the biggest newspapers in America—the New York Times and the Washington Post—are reaching more customers online than in print.