Saturday, March 29, 2008

Senator: Budget likely to be finished by July 1

This is worth a sigh of relief following last year's intense budget battle:
The Senate finished a productive week in Lansing, finishing 7 of 8 budget bills. While the spotlight has been on the Mayor of Detroit and the Presidential Campaign, Michigan legislators have been quietly doing our jobs. In March, we moved the budget bills through subcommittees, full Appropriations committees, and finally through the full Senate this week. We reached consensus on most budgets. Even when we did have disagreements, particularly on the K-12 School Aid Budget and the Community Health Budget, we kept the debate on the issues and not on a partisan or personal basis.


We are on target to finish our budget ahead of time this year, well before July 1st. You may recall that we didn’t finish last year until November, and the Government actually shut down for a few hours in October before we could reach any agreements. The constant bickering, the all-night sessions, the dueling press conferences are all so last year.

There is a new spirit of cooperation and mutual respect between the parties and the chambers this year. It’s like when you finally have the big fight in the schoolyard, the antagonists bloody each other up and then become friends.

It is kind of like that in the Michigan Legislature. Once you’ve gone through an ordeal like last year’s battle, you know whom you can trust and you also gain respect and understanding of where colleagues are coming from. Even when you disagree, you find a way to argue without losing your temper. You concentrate reaching a conclusion, not fighting for its own sake.

Alan Cropsey was in my class last Monday. He agreed that lawmakers will probably be done with the budget around the Fourth of July.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

George Bush– A Funny Kind of Christian

On this most Christian of holidays, it seems appropriate to have a message from a Vicar in England who writes about George Bush’s version of Christianity. You can find the article here

Take note: if you prefer to spend your Easter thinking about Easter eggs, white lilies, the Easter bunny (all, by the way, symbols of the goddess of fertility, Eoster), this is not the article for you. 

If, on the other hand, you are concerned about a president who has no problem with removing the wall of separation between church and state and using religion for political ends, or being the first (and hopefully the last) American president to tout the benefits of torture, then you might find the good Vicar’s comparison of water-boarding and the crucifixion to be most fitting. 


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

ICDP's Tim Caldwell featured in CM Life article for Vietnam memoirs

Our own Tim Caldwell - who posts as JT here on the Dispatch - was featured in an article in Central Michigan Life today.
"We live in a society that demands disclosure: This is mine," said Caldwell, a music professor and Vietnam veteran.

Caldwell's book "The Chaplain's Assistant: God, Country, and Vietnam," tells of things that happened to him, other soldiers and things that never really happened during the war.

"That's how I make sense of the world - through writing," Caldwell said.

John Barker is also quoted in the article. I hope to get a copy of the book soon!


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The White House is the “White House” For a Reason

Ever since our government started the white house it has been “White.” Does this eliminate officers of color, or ideas of color? Challenge yourself to see this next election. The White House has always been run by white men. Some historically strong leaders and diplomatic fighters who fought for the common good. It did not matter if they were either Republicans or Democrats. But never have we had so much color in an election, than what we see today.

It’s been a long time since our candidates have dumped millions into a campaign that in the long run will educate and motivate voters, unify all Americans, and challenge the ideals of racism and shovinism. But Americans need to understand that the mainstream media does not care about all that. They don't care about a change or supporting ideas that can help America. All they care about is controversy and viewer ship. You know the "Ballot Bowl" mentality.

But, the Obama Campaign has done their best to avoid the issue of race. Because of ruthless media control over this election, we find Obama addressing the issue like he did today in Philadelphia, I am sure against his own will.

Should that be what his possible nomination pivots on? Should we let the ignorant conservative radio talk shows blast this issue out on our airways? Blasting Obama about his relationship with his church pastor? The answer is no. But I need not explain the reasons why. All you had to do was listen to his speech today and how he handled it. It could not have been explained so eloquently.

The question is, are Americans going to try new colors or not? Being part of America (one of the most wonderful democracies in the world) it is possible to make a color change. But let's make that choice to change the White House without the question of the racial divide. Let's focus on the issues of slain service men and women trapped in an immoral war. The need for health care systems that reach out to everyone in need. The need to repair the degradation of our constitution that this current administration has brought us. Lets not let the White House just be a symbol of nepotism, patriarchy, and white power. The White House is the "White House" for a reason. But today that reason is in question. Finally it is. We need to embrace this opportunity to unify Americans of all colors. And yes, something is in the air! That is the element of change. A color change that is!

Andrew Thibodeau
Political Advisor for the ICDP

Friday, March 07, 2008

Isabella County Dems Vote for Do-Over

At their regular monthly meeting on Thursday, members of the Isabella County Democratic Party voted in favor of a resolution asking state and national party leaders to hold either a caucus or primary to select Michigan's delegation to the national party convention in August in order to restore party unity.

After a lively discussion at the Isabella County Office Building, the resolution approved by a majority voice vote of those local party members in attendance at the March meeting read in its entirety:

In the interests of fairness and of not changing the rules of the game during the process of selecting the Democratic Presidential nominee,


In support of party unity that will be indispensable for waging the November 2008 Presidential election campaign,

The Isabella County Democratic Party hereby resolves that national and state Democratic Party leaders should work together to devise and implement either caucuses or a primary for the purpose of selecting Michigan's delegates to the 2008 national convention.

The vote on the resolution came after a prolonged discussion of the dilemma the Michigan Democratic Party finds itself in after a confusing January 15 state primary that now has national party leaders refusing to seat a disputed Michigan delegation in August.

Isabella County Dems will be hosting the Fourth Congressional District Convention on March 29 and local party members wondered whether the effort later in the month would still be going ahead and have any meaning at all. The district conventions are part of the process to select which individual party members will actually get to attend the convention in Denver.

"Is this going to a supercilious exercise?" County Commissioner Chairman David Ling wondered about the March 29 event. Ling, the county's highest local elected Democratic official, got his answer from others in the room when it was clear that noone really knew as the drama about Michigan and Florida continues to unfold.

The ICDP meets on the first Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. in Room 225 at the Isabella County Office Building in downtown Mount Pleasant.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Dave Camp Scores Perfect Zero on the Environment

Rep. Dave Camp, the Congressional champion of the Dow Chemical Company, has had a perfect record of defending our area's worst polluter and now comes official word on just how bad a Congressman he really has been for the environment.

The League of Conservation Voters, an independent watchdog on environmental issues has just issued its latest National Environmental Scorecard that rates Camp a perfect zero, a distinction that only he earned for his dismal environmental voting record. That's right, no other Michigan member of Congress earned a perfect zero.

Many of our Democratic friends continue to vote for Dave because they "don't think he is THAT bad." Well, my friends, Camp is as bad as it gets.

When it comes to voting for the rich and powerful, Rubber Stamp Camp is always there. When it comes to supporting the Bush administration and Halliburton, you can count on Dave's vote.

But when it comes to clean energy, preserving our natural heritage and saving our planet, Dave Camp votes against it -- not just some of it -- but ALL of it.

Here's a complete rundown of the LCV scores for Michigan's Congressional delegation.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Clinton Campaign Now Just Spitting Into The Winds of Change

Hillary Clinton is a strong admirable woman who fought the good fight for a while, but the campaign now for the Democratic presidential nomination is no longer about her or Obama, if it ever really was.

There is a new wind blowing in America that has more to do with the gross injustices of the Bush administration than it has to do with Hillary or Barack. Tax cuts for the rich, high prices for the drug companies that pillage pocketbooks of poor seniors, a war for profiteers, secret energy polices written by oil and energy price gougers and the list of greed goes on. And people --most of us -- feel we have had enough of the race, sex and other divisions and it is time to focus on where the problems really are.

We don't need a wind vane to show us which way the winds of change are blowing, but Obama is hang gliding with the wind and the Clinton campaign is spitting into it. Why doesn't she see that?

She didn't notice the wind change as early as the rest of us. But she is not alone.