Thursday, August 7, 2014

Sally Kohn And The Daily Beast Tries To Rewrite Detroit's History

When is a government takeover a bad thing?  When a Republican does it, according to Sally Kohn.  

Detroit is no longer a city. Sure, it looks like a city. But that’s a fa├žade. [. . .] But Detroit, the political entity, is dead.
That's the crux of this.   Politics.  Not the fact that Detroit has been a craphole of crime and corruption for years.  
In 2011, Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed into law Public Act 4, which gave the state the power to place cash-strapped cities and school districts under the control of state-appointed emergency managers. In 2012, Michigan voters overturned that law. But in 2013, Snyder signed a barely revised version of the emergency manager law—and then used it to take over Detroit.
If Sally was intellectually honest about this, she would be asking, "Why was Detroit turned over to an Emergency Manager?  What lead up to this event?  Who was in charge during this time?" But then those are probing questions trying to find the root cause and not partisan at all.  

So in the fall of 2013, Detroit voters went to the polls to elect a new mayor and City Council, but it didn’t matter. The powers of the mayor and city council have effectively been suspended. Detroit’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, appointed by Snyder, has all the power and then some. A Democratic city that elected Democratic leaders is now controlled by the appointee of a Republican governor.

Or, to put it differently, Detroit—a majority African American city—is now controlled by a governor elected by a majority of white voters in the state. It really doesn’t matter that Kevyn Orr, the state-appointed emergency manager, is black, nor that Mike Duggan, Detroit’s mayor, is white. What matters is that half of the state’s black population lives in Detroit. So through the state takeover, “half of black Michiganders have essentially lost the right to vote,” says Ife Kilimanjaro, co-director of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council.
Kohn goes out of her way to make a point about the make up of race in the city but then disregards the race of Orr.  Besides, this wasn't a willy nilly power grab by Gov. Snyder to take over Detroit.  There are plenty of other towns near the Detroit area that Snyder could have taken over but since Detroit has filed for bankruptcy, the takeover happened.     

Elections have consequences and 40 plus years of democrats at the reigns of Detroit's levers and buttons lead to this.  Or as Ayn Rand has said, "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."   

Also, isn't this an example of the centralization of power?  Transferring controls of a local level of government to a state level of government?  When have liberals been against that?

Wait.  Gov. Rick Snyder is a Republican.  

Within this context, the water shut offs in Detroit are more than just a human rights crisis but an existential one as well, with the state now literally shutting off the means of survival for hundreds of thousands of people in Detroit. And whether the temporary moratorium on shut-offs continues or not, the reality is that the crackdown on water bills is part of a master plan to shore up the finances of Detroit’s water and sewage department for privatization.
What part of "Detroit is in bankruptcy" hasn't sunk in yet with Kohn?  And why an emergency manager was brought in to take over the city.  To help properly manage it's assets and make them functional again. 

Why would any city want to privatize its water system? A report by Corporate Accountability International (CAI) shows that water privatization fairly universally leads to higher prices for cities and consumers and, in many cases, decreased efficiencies. In fact, the track record for water privatization is so abysmal that CAI found more than 20 American cities that had once privatized their water have taken back control of their systems since 2002. If water privatization is bad for the city of Detroit and its residents, who is it good for? Corporations. Which is where the state’s interest comes in.
As to if it's going to work?  Who knows.  Can't be any worse off than before.   Scores of people not paying their water bills and employees in danger of not being paid.

But this is life.  Anywhere else, if you don't pay your water, cable, power, or any other utility, that utility gets shut off.  Detroit isn't that special to receive free water.      
Gov. Snyder has used his emergency management laws, versions one and two, to impose his conservative agenda across the state, including privatization. As Ned Resnikoff writes:

City agencies and entire school districts have been outsourced or privatized; public employees have been laid off in droves; municipalities have sold off vast swaths of public land; and city employee unions have seen their contracts whittled down to nothing. All of this was accomplished in the space of three and a half years. Michigan’s Emergency Manager system is what made it possible. 
Again.  Bankruptcy.  Detroit needed to trim its budget and sell what it can to make it out of the red.  If this was a family of four who owned a boat, four cars, and a couple of motorcycles, they would be forced to sell off  the extra and make due on a minimal budget to get on budget. 
Snyder isn’t just using the emergency management excuse to take over democracy in Detroit and other communities. He’s also seizing their resources. Yet another example is Belle Isle, a gorgeous 982-acre gem floating in the Detroit River. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Belle Isle was the largest city-owned park in the United States—until this past October, when Orr and Snyder signed a deal to lease Belle Isle to the state until the year 2043. The Detroit City Council voted to reject the deal. Snyder and Orr went ahead anyway, under the authority of the emergency management law. Now attendance at the park is down and state policing— and allegations of harassment of Detroit residents — is up. Meanwhile the state is phasing in a fee for visitors to the island.
So Belle Isle is now technically a State Park of Michigan.  The state does a nice job of managing their parks.  As someone who use to visit and camp out in several of the state parks, I've had no complaints.  The fee is part and parcel with that.


 “There's nothing wrong with the city operating its own asset. Belle Isle is a significant treasure,” said Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson. Which raises the question in all of this — broke as it might be, Detroit still needs things like water and other public services. Private companies or the state can take them over, but that won’t change the bottom line unless these new overseers find a way to squeeze out more profit — for instance, jacking up rates or further cutting services. That’s simple math. The state, and its corporate beneficiaries, want to take over Detroit’s assets so they can bleed the people of Detroit for more profits. And there’s nothing the people of Detroit can do to stop it.
You can't declare simple math without proving your work but you can try and re-write history by ignoring facts.   Detroit went into deep, deep debt with their day to day operations and had to borrow money to keep paying the city employees and public unions.  There were no profits to be had.  Resources, yes, but those were being poorly managed at the time.  The city government grew but the population shrank and the city government didn't make the cuts it should have to survive.   It's been happening often.  It just so happened to hit Detroit.   

What's wrong with profits?  Does Kohn offer her Fox News contributions free of charge?   
In the early 1900s, African Americans moved to Detroit to escape the inequality and injustice that persisted in the South. Much of the Detroit as we celebrate it in our national lore sprung from black political self-determination, economic leadership, and cultural expression. Plenty of dynamics conspired to dismantle Detroit’s greatness. But even bankrupt, struggling, falling apart, Detroit could still cling to its identity as a city —whatever price that meant in the past, whatever hope it held for the future. Now because of Snyder, even that is gone.
Shorter Kohn:  Keep pouring money into Detroit, RAAAAACISTS.  

Despite what she says, Detroit will still be there.  Motown will still be Motown and the Motor City will still survive.  And it's obvious that the cultural Detroit is still there. 


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

If You Read One More Thing About The Senate Race In Mississippi. . .

. . .  Let it be this.  Because this guy can say it better than Jeff.

As a reminder, the job of the Republican Party is to be different from the Democrat Party.  When one republican senator is touting his accomplishments of contributing to social programs, where is that difference? 

And don't say "Foreign Policy".  There are 99 other self admitted experts of 'Foreign Policy' in the Senate and 435 'experts' in the House. 

One more note about elections.  They work both ways.  If a candidate smears over half of his voting base as racist bigots in a primary-- as it looks like it happened in Mississippi-- he shouldn't expect them to vote for him in the general.  He isn't entitled to your vote.  He needs to earn it, not spurn it when convenient. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

You Won't Believe What Chelsea Clinton Said About Money


Well, you just might.  

And yes, I Buzzfeeded the title to this. 

Before the quote-- let me clarify this-- Chelsea is now a grown up who is married, living under her own roof and has been stumping for her mom on more than one occasion. 

So she's fair game and open for criticism


“I was curious if I could care about (money) on some fundamental level, and I couldn’t,
 [. . .]
“It is frustrating, because who wants to grow up and follow their parents? I’ve tried really hard to care about things that were very different from my parents … it’s a funny thing to realize I feel called to this work, both as a daughter and also as someone who believes I have contributions to make,”

No kidding.  She has never needed it.  
 
Her professional life she has been cared for via political favors or payback because of her parents.  Hedge-fund manager right after college.  The gimme job at NBC doing puff, feel good stories for a news magazine show that was cancelled.   
 
Her entire upbringing has been in either the Arkansas Governor's Mansion (a double wide on a real foundation with a below ground swimming pool) or the White House.  She went to Sidwell Friends for her primary education.  Hillary can say she has been down with the struggle but Chelsea's upbringing says otherwise.   
 
Would you be the professor who risks his tenure by flunking out the daughter of a president?  
 
So no wonder why she doesn't hold the same value on money like those who struggle month to month to make ends meet.  Her parents vacationed off in the Hamptons and Martha's Vineyard.  Real %1 types of places.  On the taxpayer's dime. She never overheard her parents talking about what extra curricular activities she wasn't able to do in order to make ends meet.  And a 'Staycation' is something unheard of. 

No wonder she doesn't see the value of money the way many other people do. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Pig Trap

Apt allegory for the sign of the times.

We tooled around his property, drinking beer and dumping corn and veggies here and there at strategic points, and then we came to another clearing with a strange metal object. Kevin put the truck in park and told me to hop out with him. There were three eight-foot pieces of crude steel tubular fencing that looked sort of like the metal barricades that get put up at parades for crowd control, but about five or six feet high, and forming half a hexagon They were obviously hand-made; they just didn’t have the finish of a commercial product. Kevin grabbed the last two buckets out of the back of the truck and told me to bring him two more beers.

In front of the steel tubing was a shallow concrete “bowl” that I believe was the top of a large birdbath, sunk into the dirt. Kevin filled it with loose corn and small ears of corn, then dumped in the contents of the second bucket. This bucket contained table scraps, potato peels, onion butts, bacon grease, and other household garbage, and it smelled pretty ripe. I asked Kevin what was up with the fencing, and he told me this was a pig trap. He then opened the two beers and dumped them in the bowl, saying that pigs love beer.

Kevin explained that pigs are highly intelligent animals, and can be quite dangerous. They are powerful beasts, very fast, and armed with fearsome tusks that can gore a man to death in short order. He said that commercial traps are available, but pigs are smart, and will often be wary of a new metal object suddenly appearing in their environment, and his home-made trap was much more effective. He told me that these three sections are left up year round, and over time, the pigs learn that this metal object poses no threat, and there is frequently delicious corn, slop, and beer to be had here. The scent of the slop and beer travels a long way across the property, and over time, the pigs are conditioned to not fear the strange metal object. Kevin showed me how they had formed a soft trail around one end of the fencing as they came in and out to the bowl.

When the time comes to harvest a pig, Kevin adds a section of the fencing, refills the bowl a few times, and the pigs ignore the new section of fencing. A week or two later, he adds another section, and keeps the bowl full. Finally, he puts the last section up right on the trail they created, and this section has the trap door in it. A screw eye is twisted into the end of a corn cob, and a cable is attached to it, and is connected to a pin that drops the door. As soon as a pig picks up the corn, the pin is pulled, the door is dropped, and the pig, and perhaps one or two or three others of his group, are trapped. In the morning, Kevin can simply walk up to the cage and dispatch the beasts with a handgun, without risk of personal injury or spending a lot of time stalking the animals in the woods with a high-power rifle.

Be sure to read the entire piece. He bounces around here and there in a few places but at the end he pulls it all together and you can see the entire picture.   

Thursday, April 17, 2014

To Fulfill An Overdue Obligation

I was challenged to do blog posting a while back by the Sith Lord Darth Aggie so here it is.

As my kids are getting older and needing more attention, a part time job I enjoy while the kids are in school and just plain burned out on politics in general, blogging has become less and less of a priority to me.

That and the last few times I've sat and stared at the screen and couldn't think of a damn thing to type at the time.

But there is good news. AC/DC isn't retiring after all.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Choice Cuts: A Slew Of News Links; American Music Edition

Shocking! Anti-Gun Mayor goes looking for love in all the wrong places using all the wrong ways.

Almost directly related:
Comparatively speaking, Mayors Against Illegal Guns members are almost eight times more likely to be convicted of crimes than Florida concealed firearm license holders – but that number is based off 23 years of licenses versus four years of MAIG.
But in their eyes, they are your betters and know how to live your life for you. Via Insty.

Another Shocker! "Hunting Group" that wants background checks actually a gun control front groupIn the words of Jeff Goldstein, "This is who they are. It’s what they do."

Jake Tapper finally asking some of the right questions about the gun control debate. Shouldn't Bloomberg and company know what they are talking about before arguing about banning it? Short answer: No. It never mattered before.

We're all terrorists now. A U.S. Army training instructor listed Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism as examples of religious extremism along with Al Qaeda and Hamas.

And that's about it for now. I'm trying to get back into the blogging swing of things after a few. . . Issues.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Not Gone Or Forgotten

Merely life has gotten in the way of blogging.  Which has taken more and more space in the backseat after marriage, kids, work, church, life, somewhat active social life, even more active kids life and meals. 

Will work on posting more even if it's just some quick headline links. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Top Ten Tasks The Secret Service Is Doing To Prepare For Joe Biden's Visit To The GOP Convention

Drudge has reports of the Secret Service doing advance work in the case that Joe Biden might try and crash the party, so to speak.  
Of course, like all high ranking officials, the Secret Service needs to take precautions.

So may I present the
Top Ten Tasks the Secret Service needs to do in order to prepare Tampa for a visit from Joe Biden. 

From the home office Scranton, PA.

10:  Re-naming the hotel restaurant 'Katie's Restaurant' so Joe won't get confused about where to eat.

9:  Baby Proofing the Presidential Suit where he's staying at.

8:  Removing the booze out of the refrigerator and replacing it with Prozac spiked apple juice.

7:  Recruit series of interns to stand by Joe's side to listen and nod politely while he's transcribing his memoirs, "The Adventures of Scranton Joe In The High Himalayas" (expect a high burn out rate, recruit as many as you can).

6:  Hire man to carry boom box in Joe's entourage.

5:  Make sure there's a ready supply of Depends.

4:  Secretly replace Viagra with blue Tic-Tacs (Jill Biden's special request).

3:  Have emergency topee and/or can of RonCo Spray Hair in case of emergency.

2:  Remind Joe that he won't need the rain poncho. It's not a Gallagher concert.

And the number one task  the Secret Service needs to do in order to prepare Tampa for a visit from Joe Biden:  Leave note by closet: Socks. THEN shoes.