Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Friendly Suggestion...

Do you read blogs on a regular basis? Find it a pain in your arse to keep typing in the url's of each one?

Consider a feed-reader service like Bloglines or the one that Nirmal recently clued me into - Netvibes.

Consolidate all of your favorite blogs onto one blogroll and only have to check one website.

I use Bloglines and I love that I can just go log in, and see all 40+ blogs that I read regularly on one page. Bloglines lets me know if there's been any new posts since my last log in. If there are, I simply click on the name of the blog, and Bloglines features the post for me.
You can also share your blogroll with others, if you'd like.
While you're there, check out your local weather info, search blogs, websites and newsgroups. I like it because it's easy to use, and it's instantaneous!

I don't use Netvibes, but Nirmal shared some of his experience with me. It's literally everything available on one page. Email, instant messenger, blog roll, news, weather, everything. Being a bit skittish of Big Brother, it's too much of my info on one site. Still, it looks very cool.

Did I mention that both sites are free? :-)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog-reading. :-)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Deafening Silence of Grief

In the last 24 hours -

  • I've lost a family member

Which of these was preventable?

We're almost up to 3,000 American deaths in Iraq.

How many more must die before we stop sending our brave men and women to the slaughter?

It Only Takes a Spark

Blogging is a labor of love, without a doubt. Any semi-serious blogger will tell you that. Community blogs, such as Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood can be less ardous and in some ways, more fulfilling than traditional one-man blogs.

Since my venture into the world o' blogging little under a year ago, I have become deeply passionate about this venue and its potential for the political sphere. The internet is the place to be seen and heard, and it's only fitting that politics has its place here.

I've recently been promoted to front-page contributor at MichiganLiberal, a huge honor and even bigger responsibility that I refuse to take lightly. Within the core group of bloggers that call MichLib home, the running joke is that I'm the cruise director of the group. It's not so much a joke as it is fitting. I'm a networker, I bring different people, groups, and organizations together. I'm more than just a social person, I'm a connector.

I believe the best writers are the ones who stay true to their passions and their strengths. It is my hope to help connect voters to the information they need to be the best informed about their government. I've seen how various watchblogs can be extremely effective at this if managed properly and updated regularly.

I don't believe that blogs need to be flashy or nasty, just informative. If it's entertaining and informative, all the better because it makes for an even more enjoyable read. In the end, blogs are simply an educational tool that the public can utilize to stay informed.

In the coming weeks and months expect to hear a lot of grassroots information from me both here and on MichLib. I firmly believe that there are many readers and lurkers of blogs just waiting for the perfect opportunity to jump in. I'm going to be meeting with a lot of folks all over the state, working hard, continuing to get the word out, and providing the nudge that we all need in order to get started.

If you've got a desire to learn more, to make your own mark, and do your part, drop me a line.

A community starts with one person working with another.
It's about what's best for MI, not just for me.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Boxing Day - not just for the Commonwealth

December 26th is the day celebrated in Britain and Canada as Boxing Day. It is a day with a meaning that I think should be practiced by everyone, and not only on this day. Being of British heritage, and raised by very British parents and grandparents, my family has incorporated many traditional British customs into our own.

Despite its name, Boxing Day does not involve a ring or gloves, but rather a day when you do something extra for those who are less-fortunate.

Snopes has this to say about Boxing Day:
...its origins are found in a long-ago practice of giving cash or durable goods to those of lower classes. Gifts among equals were exchanged on or before Christmas Day, but beneficiaries to those less fortunate were bestowed the day after.

Stop by Wikipedia to get the full scoop. It's also known as St. Stephen's Day (as mentioned in the Christmas carol Good King Wencelas).

When it comes down to it, Boxing Day is about doing something good for others. I think too many of us call off the good cheer of the season when the last drop of eggnog is drank and the wee ones are put to bed after a happy Christmas Day. Just because the red kettles are gone and we return to life as usual, we shouldn't forget those who still need our assistance the other 11 months of the year.

Remember when politics was about serving the people? I still believe that's what it's supposed to be about. I know plenty of elected officials and volunteers who still hold that motto high, but there's plenty of reasons why politics still has a bad reputation. These tenets are especially true to those of us who subscribe to the democratic/progressive/liberal philosophies.

As we go through the next 364 days, let's all keep a little Boxing Day spirit going. Whether it's donating clothes or food, giving money to a worthy charity, volunteering for a cause or a campaign that truly does some good, keep doing and giving to others. Following the motto of my blog, it's about what's best for MI, not just for me.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Milestone, Some Thanks, and Best Wishes

I find it fitting that this post marks the 100th post of this blog since it's creation on October 13th, 2006.

It's been a wild ride since that first post. Through the highs and the lows, the hours spent scouring the tubes of the Internet researching, the panic of putting together the now-famous 25 Reasons Why List, and now the creation of a congressional district watch-blog, every moment has been worth it. Thank you for hanging in there with me, for continuing to stop by and share your thoughts.

With the season upon us, I'd like to wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season. Have fun, be safe, and never stop keeping Michigan great!


Granholm's Early Christmas Gift to You

If you don't succeed at first, try, try again.

Words that our great Governor has definitely taken to heart, particularly in dealing with the Republican-controlled Legislature these past 4 years.

Since 2002, Governor Jennifer Granholm has called for legislation that increases patient confidentiality of medical records and ensures their proper disposal. Today, she was able to finally sign that legislation into law.
"As technology increases in the 21st century, we have a duty to help citizens protect their privacy," Granholm said. "This legislation will ensure that citizens' personal information remains between them and their health care provider when they seek medical treatment and assistance."
Senate Bill 465 requires medical records to be maintained for a minimum of 7 years and provides a system for health facilities or agencies to dispose of records older than seven years, while ensuring patient information remains confidential. The bill requires health facilities to notify patients if their businesses cease, or if they plan to transfer or destroy existing medical records. The bill also imposes fines of up to $10,000 if businesses fail to comply.
Senate Bill 468 amends the Freedom of Information Act to make is clear that "protected health information" as defined by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is exempt from disclosure, giving patients protection against unwarranted invasion of personal information.
"Patients deserve the utmost respect and privacy as they seek medical attention," Granholm said. "This legislation will provide that privacy for patients and their families."
The two bills signed today are Senate Bills 465 and 468. The bills were sponsored by Senators Gilda Z. Jacobs (D-Huntington Woods) and Deborah Cherry (D-Burton), respectively. Governor Granholm is also expected to sign similar legislation, Senate Bill 466, sponsored by Senator Bruce Patterson (R-Canton). --Office of the Governor

This legislation might not sound flashy, life-altering, or exciting, but as a client of the health care system, I can assure you it's much needed. Consider filling out one form at your doctor's office. On it you have your home address, your birth date, your SSN, your driver's license number, your insurance information, emergency contact information, among other things. Think about how many people handle that information once you hand over that form. It's not just your doctor's office, it can be outside laboratories, your insurance carrier, hospitals, drug companies, etc.
Identity theft is quickly becoming a growing problem for more and more people and an expensive one at that. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the most common ways for thieves to obtain access to your personal information include:

  1. stealing records from their employer,
  2. bribing an employee who has access to these records
  3. hacking into the organization's computers.
  4. They rummage through your trash or the trash of businesses or dumps in a practice known as dumpster diving.

Knowing that this legislation will make it even harder for thieves to get a hold of my personal information makes me feel a little more secure. It also reaffirms the faith I hold in our government, particularly in Governor Granholm and our Democratic legislators such as Senators Jacobs and Cherry.

What a great gift, and right before Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Your wish for Michigan in 2007

It's that time of year again...time for the tree, the menorah, the feast, or just a couple days off of work. It's also the time when we make our wish list and check it twice. For some it's a new toy, the latest electronic to hit the shelves, or that tool you've been drooling over for months. For others, it's a roof over their head, a couple extra dollars to keep the heat on, or a soldier's long awaited return. It's a time when we all have a wish.

What's your wish for Michigan in 2007?

Head on over to MichLib and check out my post...

It Just Doesn't Make Any Sense

Iraq seems so far from Michigan. That is until you realize that here in Michigan we've lost 116 men and women to the war in Iraq. The U.S. has lost 2,962 American troops, and worldwide, the total is at a staggering 3,209 coalition deaths.

My father has canceled his subscription to Time Magazine and no longer watches the news on a daily basis. The constant news about Iraq inundates him with too many painful memories of his time in Vietnam, now almost 40 years ago. He doesn't understand why we haven't learned our lesson yet.

Polls from the November elections showed that more voters voted against the Republicans because of the situation in Iraq more than any other reason.

Now the Detroit News suggests we should send another 10,000 troops to the slaughter. Why?

How many more must die? How many of our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers must we sacrifice?

Just a thought, perhaps we should take a page from President James Monroe who advised:

In the wars of the European powers, in matters relating to themselves, we have never taken part, nor does it comport with our policy, so to do. It is only when our rights are invaded, or seriously menaced that we resent injuries, or make preparations for our defense.

Substitute European for Middle Eastern, and you've got yourself some free advice, Dubya.

Let's focus on another key word there - defense, apparently these days confused quite often with offense.


I don't have answers, but I do know that staying there, and continuing to send our loved ones there is not the answer either. Surely with all the brilliant minds in D.C. we can come up with something better than the status quo.

Our brave men and women deserve more than a magnet on our car or a yellow ribbon tied around the mail box.

Don't they deserve us fighting for them?

Friday, December 15, 2006

You Should Be Blogging (Part 1)

The '06 Elections demonstrated one clear thing. Blogs work. They are powerful, far-reaching, and their potential is endless.

Laura recently posted about the need for new folks to step forward and start blogs in their district. She's right. There's an ever clear and present need that exists.

As someone who barely read blogs over a year ago, much less was a visitor here on MichLib, I never would have imagined starting two of them. I lurked here, day after day, reading what everyone else had to say and watching the successes of the blogosphere grow. It was exciting. Starting my own individual blog was a huge undertaking, and is a big time commitment, even to this day. I love it, but I know it's not for everyone.

When I joined forces with 7 other people all across the 8th Congressional District (CD) to kick off Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, it was fun, it was relatively easy and we got noticed by our target audience right away.

So why should you start a community blog?
  • Smaller time commitment per individual contributor. You can go a couple days without posting because you can rely on your other contributors to chime in.
  • Different strengths represented by different contributors (i.e. photoshop skills, research ability, social connections within the district, html knowledge)
  • More thorough coverage of your district. Face it - you can't be everywhere, know everyone.
  • Varied interests of contributors (Health care, Military, Environment, Education, etc) You literally have a shop with invested, passionate policy specialists.
  • Pure Motivations. We blog because we care. We don't make money, we typically write under pseudonyms so there's no professional motivation, and our fuel is the most renewable out there - passion!
Got 20 Reasons Why You Can't be a Part of a Blog? So did I. Let me dispel some of the myths...
  • You need to know HTML Code. False. With blogging software/programs like Blogger and Wordpress, they do all the code work for you. You literally have to write and hit 'Publish'.
  • Blogging's a full-time job. Definitely false. Blogging's like any activity. You can put as little or as much time into as you want. True, you want to keep your blog fresh. If you have at least one other contributor, you share the load.
  • They cost money. Also false. If you have access to a computer and the internet, then you can blog for free. Both Blogger and Wordpress are free. If you want to get your own domain/url like Pohlitics, Capital Viewpoint, or ChristineBarry, then you're talking under $50 a year in costs.
  • You have to have journalism skills. Not true. Blogs are a means of transmitting information. Put the facts up there and let them speak. If you're a little more eloquent than some, consider it a bonus.
  • Blogging's a new-fangled thing for the youngsters. Complete and utter baloney. If you made it to MichLib to read this, then you're not too old. :-)
  • Blogging cuts you off from the real world. Couldn't be more false. If anything, I've met more people and more friends (yes, in person!) through blogging than I have in most other hobbies of mine. We're a dedicated, loyal bunch. We take care of our own and are always there to help each other out. We are so much more than just an "online community". We're a community of friends united by a common thread spread across the state. To really dispel the myth - we've actually met each other, and have been known to gather in groups to enjoy excellent food and drink (we're all talented outside of blogging, of course!)
Of course, members of our community have all posted some extremely helpful tools and guidelines for liberal bloggers, no matter the skill level. Check out these additional helpful tools -
Got your interest piqued? Excellent. Then you'll definitely want to wait for You Should be Blogging (Part 2) coming soon...

My apologies to the BeeGees for the title. :-)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

See the Truth Movie Party - East Lansing

See the Truth Movie Party

On Saturday, December 16, 2006 thousands of us are going to get together in living rooms around the country, watch the blockbuster documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," and press Congress to take action to solve our climate crisis.

If you haven't seen the movie, you have to. If you have, you can help raise awareness and push Washington to take action on the biggest crisis facing our planet. In America, political will is a renewable resource and together we can build the will to do what has to be done.

Join local residents/activitists Bob Alexander and Heather Ricketts as they sponsor this very important film.

Saturday, December 16th
9:30 A.M.
Hannah Center - Rm. 235
819 Abbott Road (corner of Abbott and Burcham)
East Lansing

click here to RSVP.

You owe it to yourself to see this film. If you do not, and you have grandchildren, you should explain to them why you decided not to. - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Ingham County Democratic Party Executive Committee Elections

Monday, December 11th saw the election of the new Executive Committee for the Ingham Country Democratic Party.

Congratulations to the following officers:

Griffin Rivers - Chair
Sandy Zerkel - 1st Vice Chair
Nathan Triplett - 2nd Vice Chair
Betty Markham - 3rd Vice Chair
Pete Vargas - 4th Vice Chair
Jim Ramey - Treasurer
Heather Ricketts - Secretary

Members of the Statutory and Executive Committees were informed of the recent press of the 8th Congressional District Watch Blog for U.S. Mike Rogers - Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and were quite pleased to hear about how well it is going. Many promised to stop by and by all traffic reports, it seems they did, and they keep coming back!

Stay tuned for the latest ICDP news....

Sunday, December 10, 2006

This Blogger's Passion

Much of politics is standing up for what you believe in. Standing up when the sun is shining, the clouds are grey and foreboding, or even in the head-pounding hailstorm. Watching those publicly involved in this process for years, that is one of the first lessons I quickly learned.

So now it seems as if my time has come to stand up and wait for the weather to roll in. The new RogersWatch Blog has gotten folks talking on both sides of the aisle, and as usual, the press isn't far behind. Tomorrow morning will bring a story about the blog, and a couple comments provided by myself. It was a scary step, to publicly out myself as a blogger for the first time. I thought more than once about not doing it, but I knew that it would happen sooner or later, and here it is.

I am someone who has dedicated my life to serving those who have no voice and standing up for what I believe in. As a blogger, as a citizen, as someone who cares about others, I feel an obligation to keep speaking up when I see someone wronged, or when there's another candidate/official championing a cause that deserves recognition. Standing up for my writing as a blogger, even without the mask of anonymity that blogging provides, is an act of civil disobedience. It started with the Boston Tea Party, On Walden Pond, the Suffragettes, Edward R. Murrow and the anti-McCarthy movement, the conscientious objectors of Vietnam, and now it comes to people like me, those who blog.

Within the community of bloggers, there's a wide spectrum of who we are and what motivates us. Personally, I feel that I can't be an effective voice of change if I sit back and always write behind a pseudonym. The very essence of who I am wills me to get up, get out and speak up, in all facets.

I accept that for each thing that I believe in, many more will disagree with it and some may even personally attack me for my beliefs. As a blogger, I believe in and uphold the right of Free Speech. I exercise it every time I disagree with an action or a statement made by someone in government. It's my right, just as it is their right to say what they believe in. It's a vital part of what keeps our country so incredible.

It's still difficult to take that next step, opening yourself up to criticism and becoming readily available as a poster-child for everything that a group or a person stands against. It's already happened to me, both as a blogger and as someone who is active politically, and regardless of the thickness of your skin, it's never pleasant.

Despite that, I will continue to stay true to myself to the public and the people who deserve tireless advocators on their behalf. I know that my community, both online and off, are full of many like-minded individuals, and that gives me pride and hope. We may not always agree on the issues, but as long as we're staying true to ourselves and working for those who need us the most, then we must continue to speak up and out, regardless of the reception we may receive.

Well Done Mr. Mayor Representative Meadows

Today the City of East Lansing celebrated 11 years of public service by former council member and mayor Mark Meadows. With over 100 people in attendance, including friends, families, and colleagues, the reception lasted several hours and was a real success.

If you recall, Mr. Meadows was elected in November to fill the seat left vacant by now Senator Gretchen Whitmer in the 69th State House District. Rep. Meadows was sworn in immediately to fill the vacancy, so unlike most other newly-elected representatives, Rep. Meadows won't have to wait till January to start serving his district.

On hand to celebrate his tenure and note his many accomplishments, State Senator Gretchen Whitmer (D-23), East Lansing City Council members, City Manager Ted Staton, Police Chief Tom Wibert, Fire Chief Randy Talifarro, Representatives from Michigan State University, a spokesman for U.S. Rep Mike Rogers (MI-08), and a letter of congratulations and thanks was read from Governor Jennifer Granholm. All who spoke touched on Rep. Meadows' high dedication to the people of the City.

Of most significant note, I was impressed with a few of the closing words by Rep. Meadows. He remarked that as time goes on, people will forget their public servants. Those who serve the public should always remember this - It's not about me, but about what we can do as a community.

If those words are truly an example of his attitude of public servitude, than his constituents can expect great things in the years to come.

Welcome aboard, Representative Meadows!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Whoda thunk it?

I never would have thought that within just a couple hours of the new RogersWatch blog (Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood) going up, that it would receive so much attention. But it did.

I'm no dummy.

That tells me that I'm not the only one sick of Mike Rogers using my district as a pulpit for his extremely conservative agenda. That tells me there's hope for our district in 2008.

I'm much more politically active than most folks I know. Sometimes when I have a strong feeling on something, I try to gauge the rest of the world's temperature to mine, to see if I'm really just out in left field, or if I'm just the only one willing to stick my neck out there and speak up. On this issue, I know it's the latter.

I would like to clarify something though. Just because I'm a staunch liberal/Democrat/progressive, doesn't mean I'm against all Republicans. There's a lot of tenets of the republican platform that make sense. (Notice I said republican, not Republican - big difference these days.) There's some Republicans who do good work in office on behalf of their constituents. Mike Rogers is not one of those.

Identified time and time again as one of the most conservatives in D.C., it's hard to understand how Rogers claims to be working for us, his people. His campaign finance reports don't lie. It's the special interest lobbying groups that he works for.

Check out his voting record, how many times has a vote of his aligned right up with the Bush policy? More times than not. I'm not saying Mr. Rogers hasn't done some good work in D.C. I'm saying that most of his work has not been for the people, but rather for the special interests. That's where the problem lays.

That's why there's so many of us who are going to work feverishly between now and November 2008 to make sure the people of the 8th District Neighborhood see how out of touch Mike Rogers really is.

So during the next two years, keep tabs on LLP and The Neighborhood. The great thing about The Neighborhood is that it's not just one person spouting ideas. That blog is a community, made up by different folks from all across the District. Men and women, from the newly employed to the retired and everywhere in between. We're military veterans, homemakers, blue-collar workers and policy wonks, and everything in between. We want the same things you want, to have our government work for us the way it should - for the people and by the people. We don't all agree on the same issues, but we do agree that no matter where we stand, Mike Rogers stands against us.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Something's Brewing in the Neighborhood...

Who Is This Man?

He carries a big stick.

He doesn't wear a yellow sweater.

He preaches war and hate.

He openly discriminates against the very people he's supposed to be working for.

He narrowly missed getting downsized last month. (too bad!)

He's good buddies with two of Washington's most corrupt players (Abramoff and DeLay)

He got more airtime with this child molester (Mark Foley) on CNN than he probably has his entire career.

He lives in Our Neighborhood.

That's right, he's the one and only U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (MI-08), your very own public official.

We're going to hold him accountable and
  • Watch every vote,
  • Count each dollar collected from special interests and
  • Record each time he continues to wreak havoc on us, the people of the 8th Congressional District.

Stop on by The Neighborhood and join us as we take back Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Taking Care of One of Our Own

The most important part of being a community involves acting as a community. Here at LLP, we strive to discuss those things that are most important to keep our Mid-Michigan community the best we can be.

The health care situation in both Michigan and the U.S. has a long way to go, but far be it from us to not do our part. Being a person with more than her fair share of health problems, I've seen the ugly side of being sick, the battles that occur on the emotional, social, physical and of course, financial fronts.

I was particularly touched with the cover story of the LSJ's Sunday paper. Caroline Thomas is a darling 5 year-old girl from Lansing who has faced a seemingly up-hill fight from her very first day. Her latest struggle comes in the form of brain cancer, and a tumor the size of a golf ball.
Little Caroline has had several surgeries at Lansing's own Sparrow Hospital, the most recent just this past Friday. Undergoing chemotherapy and having her put life on hold while she recovers will not be easy, but Caroline's parents, family and friends all remain optimistic. Caroline still faces 45 weeks of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation treatments.

*It's not quite clear whether or not a fund has been set up to assist Caroline and her family with medical expenses, but I'm waiting a return call from the article's author and will keep you posted.

You can help keep up Caroline's spirits and send her a card -
Caroline Thomas
1417 Jerome St.
Lansing, MI 48912
Friends have also arranged for the local Red Cross to put on Blood Drives in Caroline's honor.
Every third Sunday of each month for an entire year, you and I can head down to the Lansing Donor Center (1729 E. Saginaw, Lansing) and donate blood or platelets for those who desperately need it, like Caroline.

While you're there, you can sign a card for Caroline. Even if your blood isn't a perfect match for Caroline, the chances are quite good that your gift of life will go to someone in our community who desperately needs it, particularly with the holiday season upon us.
Red Cross spokeswoman Ann Kammerer said Caroline may be receiving specialty blood products, such as platelets.

"We have seen blood donations go up and down to the point where we've had some pretty severe shortages during the summer and also during the winter months," Kammerer said.

"With the holidays coming up, we need to keep that momentum going to ensure that the blood is on hand to help people."

Dine said there are cards at the Red Cross to send well-wishes to Caroline. "She likes to read mail and get little things," she said.

For the Saturday blood drives in Caroline's honor, Dine makes a giant card for people to sign and draw little pictures.

"Not everybody is going to be compatible (with Caroline), but everybody feels like they are contributing," she said. "They are going to be compatible with someone.

"If (the blood) doesn't necessarily get used by Caroline, it will get used by somebody, and most likely right here in the community."

There's also contact information for the area Red Cross on the right side of this blog. If your health, fear of needles, or whatever prevents you from giving blood, plasma, or platelets, you can always give money.

As they say "Tis the season to give". Why not take 5 minutes out of your day, give the gift of life, bring a little love to someone's life and feel better knowing you helped take care of one of Mid-Michigan's own?