Sunday, April 30, 2006

Picture of Dow Mess

If one picture is worth a thousand words, not much needs to be said. (Click on the picture for a better view). The Saginaw Bay is at the top left and Midland, the International Headquarters of Dow Chemcial is in the left foreground. That is the Tittabawassee River flowing to the right where it connects up to the Saginaw River that drains into the Bay. This illustration is in the MDEQ's latest report about dioxin pollution in the state's largest watershed. The locations in yellow exceed state dioxin safe levels more than 100 times. The locations in red exceed state safe levels by much more than that. Concerned citizens along the river are suing Dow to clean up the mess, while some citizens are just hoping they can dump their properties before anyone realizes how bad things are. Read below for more details.

Can Dow win the Battle of the Tittabawassee? Or will the world’s largest chemical company have to clean up the mess it made nearby?

Polls show clearly that most voters support efforts to clean up the environment and the opposition in Lansing knows it. That is why Republican legislators who feel environmental regulations are a drag on corporate profits, are using Michigan’s environmental watchdog agency as a whipping boy.

But the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is getting tired of claims that somehow it is running amuck by doing it’s job. The wildest of the MDEQ running amuck claims relates to one of the state’s largest employers, which is trying to get off the hook for cleaning up a mess it created years ago.

The Dow Chemical Company first claimed that it wasn’t responsible for the dioxin contamination of the Saginaw Bay watershed. But when tests conducted by the MDEQ clearly showed through chemical fingerprints that the world’s largest chemical company was responsible, the company has tried its best to weasel out of cleaning up the mess it created.

We teach our children to clean up their messes, but we still have difficulty teaching the largest of our corporations and their political apologists to play by our environmental rules. But they dare not claim the environment doesn’t matter, because most Americans agree it does. So instead they claim the MDEQ is running amuck, when it applies environmental laws the way they are supposed to be.

The MDEQ has found dioxin levels that are not just a tad high of the 90 ppt, the safe level for humans, but a hundred times higher and more. The state pollution watchdog has moved to protect the public interest by issuing warnings on eating fish and game from the area and has declared that properties along the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers are to be considered contaminated facilities until further study clarifies the situation.

But Republican legislators all with direct or indirect ties to Dow chemical are slandering the MDEQ and are introducing new legislation to minimize and delay the necessary remediation of what could become Michigan’s most expensive environmental clean-up. If the state would only change it’s regulations to call 1,000 ppt the safe level for dioxin, then there would be no problem or at least not as much of a problem in so many places. That’s exactly what Sen. Tony Stamas and his Republican buddies in the state House, Rep. John Moolenaar and Mike Gotshka had proposed and Gov. Granholm vetoed. Now these champions of Dow pollution are coming at it again with some new legislation pretending to “protect property rights” of people who are living along the river.

Incredibly, there are many property owners who don’t want to know how bad the pollution is in their backyards fearing their life savings will be going down the tubes if their properties are labeled as contaminated facilities and Dow leaves them holding the bag. But most of the contaminated property owners just want Dow to clean up the mess.

But Stamas, Moolenaaar and Gotshka have reintroduced only slightly changed legislation, again claiming that property owners rights are at stake, instead of Dow having to forfeit a chunk of corporate profits to clean up the river. Our local Congressman, Republican Dave Camp, who has received more than a quarter million in campaign contributions from Dow has even tried to pressure Congress and Gov. Granholm to cut Dow some slack. Thus far Dow has been able to drag its feet and pretend it’s trying to reach a remediation agreement with the state. Meanwhile, the dynamic trio of Republicans with deep Dow connections is working to keep Dow from having to do anything.

Property owners along the river are fed up and are suing, but also getting petitions signed to keep the laws that would get Dow a pass on pollution from ever being passed. As long as Republicans control the state legislature, what do you think will happen along the Tittabawassee?

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Republicans at Maple Syrup Festival Have Bush Problems

It was surprising to hear so many Republicans stopping by our table at the Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival yesterday and today telling us that they can't stomache George W. Bush. While many local Democrats and Democrats from Lansing, Detroit, Swartz Creek and Jackson stopped by to give us encouragement and purchase our buttons and cookbooks, there were a surprising number of Republicans who told us they normally vote with the GOP, but not this year.

Several older Republican women said they couldn't stand Dick DeVos and will vote for Jennifer over him. "What did he do with Amway?" said one Republican matron. "He ran it into the ground and then laid people off. What does he know about creating jobs?" Of course, the Maple Syrup Festival poll is not scientific, but there sure seems to be a lot of wisdom coming out of Maple Syrup Town.

Quite a few folks also glanced at our brand new Isabella County Democratic Party cookbooks and asked us where the Republican cookbooks were. We told them the Republican cookbook had gone out of business because the recipes were too hard to swallow.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

ICDP-TV Schedule for AG Candidate Lipsey Starts Friday

Rep. Alexander "Sandy" Lipsey, who is seeking the Democratic Party nomination for Michigan Attorney General, impressed quite a few Democrats when he appeared at our county party meeting in early April. Now you can see why on Charter Cable Public Access Channel 3 in Clare, Gratiot and Isabella County.

ICDP-TV crews videotaped Lipsey's appearance which will be seen beginning on Friday, April 28 at 8 p.m. and again the following morning on Saturday, April 29 at 9 a.m. The hour long show can also be seen on Tuesday, May 2 at 9 p.m. and on Wedneday, May 3 at 11 a.m.

If you should miss it during it's first run you can catch the Lipsey appearance on Channel 3 on Friday, May 5 at 8 p.m. and the following morning, Saturday, May 6 at 9 a.m. and then again on Tuesday, May 9 at 9 p.m. and on Wednesday, May 10 at 11 a.m.

Following that stretch will be the video of the appearance of Scott Bowen, another AG Candidate, who will be speaking at out May party meeting on Thursday, May 4 at the County Office Building at 7 p.m.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Use the Internet? Want to keep it free?

You are reading this blog on the Internet, probably on a broadband connection. Do you like the speed of your broadband? What if your ISP (Internet Service Provider) managed to limit all competition, then inform you that they were going to charge you whatever they wished because “it’s us or dialup.” Would you be happy about that?

What if your ISP decided to block you from visiting certain sites because they were critical of your ISP, or, maybe the sites didn’t express your ISP’s preferred political opinions. Would that disturb you? (It has already happened in Canada with the Canadian version of AT&T.)

You think this can’t happen here? Well, it just might happen, and it could happen soon unless we do something to stop it. Representative Joe Barton, (R-Texas) and Representative Bobby Rush, (D-IL), have proposed legislation that does away with “network neutrality,” the fundamental principle that the Internet was founded upon. Simply stated, network neutrality says that the Internet is open and available to everyone. This is not a Republican or Democratic issue: it is an issue of big businesses like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast taking control over the last major free-speech bastion that exists for us.

Almost all other sources of information (radio, television, newspapers, and magazines) are controlled by a handful of multinational corporations. The corporations control what stories are made public, and what “dirty laundry” is uncovered by investigative reporters (the few who are still working). Curious about what corporations own what networks, newspapers, radio stations? You can find it on the Internet, at least for now. But that could change.

This is an election year: unless you just arrived from Mars, this should not be news to you. So the corporations–the champions of government deregulation–are spending millions to buy (excuse me, “influence”) politicians to regulate the Internet. The corporations wish merely to be gatekeepers, which means they want to make money controlling the traffic and usage of the Internet.

What might this mean for Internet users? Anyone who works from home, runs a small business, writes a blog, supports political organizations, sends pictures to family, maintains websites, keeps in touch with friends and family online–in other words, any of us who use the Internet–we are the ones who will be affected. The Internet was built by scientists, universities, and various governmental organizations and primarily funded by the government (with our taxes). Corporations saw the potential for huge profits, so they jumped on the bandwagon. Now they want to not only be on the bandwagon, they want to drive it. And they are paying Congress for the privilege by making large campaign contributions (in other countries this would be called bribery), and Congress is responding. Barton, Rush, et al, are hoping no one will notice, but we have. An ad hoc organization calling itself “Save the Internet” has formed. Whether or not you agree with their campaign and logic, they have done a good job of pulling together a map that shows how various Representatives on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have voted on this issue: (

You will see that Representative Dave Camp is not on the committee. However, if the committee report and recommendation reaches the floor of the House, Camp will be voting on it. As you know, Camp does a fine job of voting exactly as his party tells him, a record that has earned him the nickname, “Rubber Stamp Camp.” So who do you think the Republicans will side with: 1) citizens, or 2) Big Business? If your answer was 2, then you know how Camp will vote; if your answer was 1, this means you really have just arrived from Mars.

Contact Dave Camp now and let him know that you want him to uphold network neutrality. His contact information is:
137 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3561
Fax: (202) 225-9679

Let him know we want to keep the Internet free.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

People Aren't Buying Camp/Bush Nonsense on Drug Plan

Our local Congressman, Rubber Stamp Camp, is having a hard time selling Bush's snake oil of a drug program, Medicare Part D. Congressman Dave Camp always does exactly what the Bushies want and they've told him he has to go out and tell folks just how wonderful the boondoggle for drug companies is and how it is the best thing since sliced bread.

But the folks in good old reliable Republican territory - Gratiot County - are having none of it. The Alma edition of The Morning Sun carried the story by Linda Gittleman, "Seniors Confront Camp."
While Camp tried to explain what a great program it was, he heard nothing but complaints in Gratiot County. I guess Camp never heard the quote from Republican Abraham Lincoln about trying to fool all the people.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Granholm: Let's Cut SBT Now, But...

Gov. Jennifer Granholm offered Republican legislators a compromise and an opportunity to do the right thing today by eliminating the controversial single business tax, but only if they replace the revenue lost with a better business tax and not ask Michigan families to bear the burden.

Here's the exact wording of the Governor's proposed agreement:

We agree to enact a bill that both:

1. Repeals the Single Business Tax for tax years beginning after December 31, 2006; and

2. Assures adoption of a better business tax that does not raise taxes on individuals and protects healthcare, education, and public safety by fully replacing revenue generated by the repealed tax.

The ball is in the Republicans court. Nice serve, Jennifer.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Republicans Still Selling Snake Oil With SBT Voodoo Economics

Irresponsible. Illogical. Cynical. Ignorant. Naive. Stupid. Arrogant.

Pick an adjective for youself to describe the Republican push to kill Michigan's Small Business Tax. At some level anyone will do. First our Republican controlled Michigan legislature rammed through a bill to kill the SBT two years before it is due to expire. Of course, the Republicans didn't bother to describe how the 22 per cent of state revenues could be made up without an SBT and Gov. Granholm vetoed the measures as any fiscally responsible governor would do.

Now, it appears, Republicans are getting a ballot proposal together to kill the SBT outright to get around another veto. But again, there is no provision to replace the tax.

Cutting business taxes has been the battle cry of the GOP in Michigan since John Engler first started paying attention to the right wing propaganda that is passed off as research from the Mackinaw Center to Benefit the Rich and Powerful. Voodoo Economics with its trickle down theory that tax cuts for business and the rich eventually raises all boats has always been and still is total BS.

Killing the SBT without replacing it with an alternative tax is simply irresponsible. Can Michigan voters who don't have a clue what business taxes are all about be fooled by a multi-million dollar campaign? Maybe the Republicans will sink so much money into their cockamamie ballot proposals they won't have enough for their candidates. One can only hope!!

The immigration deal...

If I may step in with some federal level rant. Immigration has been all the talk in DC. It infuriates me to my core. First of all, we need to have a much easier way to let people in, "give me your tired, your hungry" is not passe.

Then this struck a nerve.
The first soldier to die for the United States in the current war in Iraq was Marine Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, an illegal immigrant from Guatemala.

He died for you.
Somos todos Americanos. Todos Americanos.

Monday, April 10, 2006

ICDP-TV Schedule For Williams Appearance

Public access Channel 3 in Clare, Gratiot and Isabella Counties will be airing the appearance of Michigan Attorney General Candidate Amos Williams this week and next beginning Tuesday evening.

The Williams tape will air on Tuesday, April 11 and 18 at 9 p.m., on Wednesday, April 12 and 19 at 11 a.m., on Friday, April 14 and 21 at 8 p.m. and on Saturday, April 15 and 22 at 9 a.m. Immediately following that schedule ICDP-TV will announce the showing of the April guest speaker, AG Candidate, Rep. Alexander Lipsey.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Republican Dave Camp Thinks He Can Fool Us Again on Tax Cuts

The Republican mantra on tax cuts has always been that they are good for everybody, when in fact, they merely shift the tax burden from the rich to the rest of us. That giant sucking sound you hear is taking money out of your pocket and giving it to the rich and ultra-rich.

Rubber Stamp Camp, who parrots the Bush party line on tax cuts, was caught red-handed by the New York Times's David Kay Johnston on Wednesday with his facts down. With the party's head liar resigning in disgrace, Camp got shoved in front of the spotlight on the House floor to mouth the party line that cutting investment tax credits would help most people with incomes under $100,000. Problem is, that was pure BS.

Faced with tough questions from the New York Times economics expert did Camp just back down and say, " Sorry, my mistake?" Nope. He blamed the error on Congressional staffers, but brushing aside the errors, still thinks the policy is good for our country.

Now let's recap. The facts supporting the policy are wrong, but we are still going ahead with the tax cuts that benefit the rich at the expense of everybody else. Here's exactly how it went down, according to the Times:
Mr. Camp, who had said in an interview that his figures were correct, said Monday through a spokesman that he had been misinformed by the staff of the House Ways and Means Committee. But his office said he supported making the investment tax cuts permanent because cutting these rates was "good policy and good for our economy."
Good for the rich who Dave Camp represents anyway.

Lipsey or Williams for AG?

When Detroit Attorney Amos Williams came to Isabella County back in March he instantly won a lot of friends with a straight-talking no-nonsense style. But the more serious approach and steady voice of Kalamazoo state legislator Alexander Lispey also had a lot of Isabella Democrats wondering if he might be their favorite choice to be Michigan's next attorney general. The Morning Sun's Mark Ranzenberger did another fine piece on Lipsey's appearance here. He had also covered Williams appearance last month. Coming up in May, Scott Bowen, a pro-life candidate for AG and allegedly the choice of Gov. Granholm, will be appearing as a guest speaker at the ICDP monthly gathering. Since most of the key local party activists and elected officials are pro-choice, Bowen will have his work cut out for him to win any support here.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

AG Candidate Lipsey Here Tonight

Rep. Alexander "Sandy" Lipsey, who is seeking the nomination for Michigan Attorney General, will be the guest speaker this evening at 7 p.m. at the ICDP regular monthly meeting at the Isabella County Office Building. Rep. Lipsey has represented the 60th leigsilative district in the Kalmazoo area since he was elected in 2000. Previously he had served on the Kalmazoo City Council and has been active in local and state politics. More information about Rep. Lipsey is available at his campaign website.

ICDP-TV will tape his presentation for reshowing on cable public access TV in Clare, Gratiot and Isabella Counties

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

More Editorial Support for Granholm: DeVos is a Drama Queen

(cross posted to Michigan Liberal)

The Morning Sun in central Michigan is giving more support to Granholm's veto of the SBT repeal. They even call out the Republican Dick running for governor, for being a drama queen.

So, the rhetoric appears to more heated than realistic.

Why is that? The answer could be as simple as election-year politics.

While on the stump in Mt. Pleasant last week, presumed Republican candidate for governor Dick DeVos hit on one underlying theme again and again. The SBT is a job killer. It will be hard to forget, too, since he slapped his hand on the table repeatedly in emphasis. It not only got the point across, but made for memorable political theatrics.

That was two days before the governor sensibly vetoed the bill. The two appear headed for the blissful wedding in a campaign narrative – Jennifer Granholm won't do what it takes to put Michiganders to work, but businessman Dick DeVos will.

If there's something to that, let's see some real evidence. But, next time, let's skip the campaign drama and get to work on real solutions.

The next dramatic job killer: The Estate Tax...buh,buh,dummmmmmm.

DeVos needs to learn something, corporate taxes are not going to resonate with the Michigan public. We all know what is killing our jobs: Health Care. No amount of table smacking is going to change that.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Dick DeVos's Best Buddy Tom DeLay gave Amway $283 million tax break

Tom DeLay will be leaving Congress before summer sets in!! Hallelujah!!

I'll bet Dick DeVos will miss him, because Tom DeLay, who was also a former Amway salesman, has done well for himself playing the Amway pyramid scheme that biased courts called a company. The relationship for DeVos and DeLay has been a very lucrative one for both of them. Way back in 1997 Molly Ivins (God bless that woman) reported the Republicans had given Amway a $283 million sweetheart deal.

While Republicans were cutting benefits and privatizing everything they could get their hands on they've been giving away our taxpayer dollars to the likes of Dick DeVos to salvage a company which is exporting jobs to China.

Imagine using taxpayer dollars to run for office. Might as well have campaigns publically financed. We are paying for the DeVos campaign anyway.

Yup, that Republican Dick who wants to be Michigan's next governor will miss Tom DeLay. The rest of us won't.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Cropsey Story Stinks - Cropsey Needs to Be Investigated

We haven't heard all of the other side of the story yet (the DEQ side) , but we think it smells and it is not just the rotten sewage we are talking about. Here's the whole story.

Sen. Alan Cropsey, a board member of a church in Clinton County, may have been involved in a violation of state law. The Grove Bible Church, where he is a board member, has been operating without a valid permit -- meaning the church is operating its sewage system illegally -- a fact as a board member, he would or should have known about.

How does our state senator propose to solve the problem that's been going on for several years? By telling his church they need to work quickly to bring the church into compliance with the state law? Think again.

By making Michigan taxpayers pick up the tab. Yes, that's our state senator's answer to his church's problem. It's not our church's fault, it's the fault of those darned bureaucrats who think every nit-picking little state law needs to be enforced, Cropsey's thinking goes.

Let me see now, the next time I get a speeding ticket in Michigan, my senator, will put money into the state budget to pay my ticket and scold the state police for being out of control. Or maybe that's just for his own church members that he will do that.

We think our senator might have forgotten when he was sworn in the last time he actually promised to uphold state laws and the Michigan Constitution, not try to find ways around them. We think the Republican state attorney general needs to look into this one. I'd be willing to bet that Mike Cox won't do a damned thing about it.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Morning Sun Blasts Cropsey

"Unbelievable." That's the word today's Morning Sun uses in an editorial about our Republican state senator's attempt to get Michigan taxpayers to fix his churches sewage system at a cost of $50,000.

When we wrote last Wednesday about Sen. Alan Cropsey's shenanigans, we were outraged about the whole situation. Now we are pleasantly surprised the local mainstream newspaper took a similar position. Most of us had written off Cropsey's gerrymandered seat as a solid lock for the Republicans. It's time to take another look.