Wednesday, January 31, 2007

It's Official - Drinking Liberally is Coming to Lansing!

After much wait and anticipation, it's finally here!

The Lansing Chapter of Drinking Liberally will have it's very first meeting -

Thursday, February 15th
7:00 p.m.
The Nuthouse Sports Grill
420 E. Michigan Ave.
Lansing MI., 48933 Map It!

While we get started, the plan is to meet every Third Thursday of the month. Depending on the crowd and the desire, it may happen more frequently.

Have questions? You can email the Chapter founder for more details.

So what exactly is Drinking Liberally?

An informal, inclusive progressive social group. Raise your spirits while you raise your glass, and share ideas while you share a pitcher. Drinking Liberally gives like-minded, left-leaning individuals a place to talk politics. You don't need to be a policy expert and this isn't a book club - just come and learn from peers, trade jokes, vent frustration and hang out in an environment where it's not taboo to talk politics.

Bars are democratic spaces - you talk to strangers, you share booths, you feel the bond of common ground. Bring democratic discourse to your local democratic space - build democracy one drink at a time.

While drinking liberally, always remember to drink responsibly, and make liberal use of designated drivers. Drinking and driving is reckless and irresponsible, like a neocon war or corporatist tax cut. Liberals, don't do it.

Come join us for a pint, good conversation, and great friends!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Northern Reflections from Home

I made it. There and back. In this weather, well, at times it was nothing short of a small feat.

Arrived back to Lansing this evening, glad to be home, but sorry the trip was at an end.

While I was there I managed to add a new word to my vocabulary - DownState.

I'm assuming it refers to anywhere below Clare/Mt. Pleasant and/or the 45th Parallel, which I crossed, by the way. I'm told that the folks up there use it like we say Up North. Hmmm, seems fair I suppose. :-)

While I was bit worried about how the LucyMobile would do, I'm pleased to report that all's well, and with the exception of my window washer level being quite low, she did fine.

Several roads gave me a couple scares here and there, and I'm convinced that on a select few, there's locals who sit and laugh as us DownState folks are put thru a vigorous cardiac workout. There were some hills that are so high and so steep, that I would consider them exhilarating even without being completely snow-covered. I discovered that some stop signs are really only able to be followed when there is not snow on the ground. Best you can do is honk and let 'em know you're coming. :-)

Tonight as I gaze out my window at a beautifully-lit Capitol Dome, I know I'll miss the sheer beauty and tranquility of the North. How lucky are we to live in a state where you can go from the icy shore to the bustling city in just a few short hours?

No matter where on the Mitten we call ours, we are all blessed to call Michigan home.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A Green Lesson from Northern Michigan

As the icy wind blows, the cold bites, and the boots are the only suitable footwear, I fall in love with Northern Michigan, again.

It's been a while since I've been to the North in the winter, and I realize how "stuck" in the Mid/Southern portion of the state that I've been. Growing up in the Metro Detroit Area, and living in Lansing for a good part of the last decade, trips to the North have been few and far between, and usually require packing the swimsuit and flip-flops.

I was granted the opportunity to grow my passion for our state. After spending several days here, I realize once again how incredible this portion of our state is, and how precious it is. My visit here has renewed my dedication to continue to fight to keep Michigan environmentally great, because it is a delicate ecosystem that hangs in the balance.

Climbing a frozen sandy beach to view the icy shore of the Great Lakes and having my breath taken away equally by the cold and the view, I was struck with a sudden sense of being incredibly humbled. Michigan is not about our cars, our sports, or our schools.

Michigan started with and continues to stand out against the other 49 states by our environment. Unlike any other state, Michigan is known for its two peninsulas, our massive shoreline, and the extraordinary beauty that lines our land from Houghton to Pigeon and everywhere in between.

It's easy to laugh and dismiss the Tree-Huggers in their stereotypical Birkenstocks and hybrid cars, but you open to your eyes to the real Michigan, and you realize they are right. Everything in Michigan revolves around our environment one way or another. If we take care of our land and our lakes, our economy will follow.

In our environmental stewardship, we will continue to grow and develop technologies to protect and preserve this great land. Isn't it ironic that our state's greatest manufacturing accomplishment, the automobile industry, is now one of the most harmful components of our society? The Big Three's race for survival has turned into the Green competition. First one to the finish line has the most environmentally-friendly vehicles. I don't think it's just a coincidence.

I get by each day believing that everything happens for a reason. In Michigan's economy, it is the industries and people who are going green that are succeeding. With a growing mountain of evidence from our universities, businesses, and our government, is it really that surprising that green is the way to go for the sake of our health, our pocketbooks and our lives?

We need to keep fighting the good fight, the right fight. We keep our government and legislators, our businesses and our own hearts on the right track, protecting the most precious of assets, our environment. I'm convinced that everything else will follow.

Living in our beautiful state comes with a price, and that's keeping it great and green.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

On the Road Again...

Many thanks to Willie Nelson for providing the perfect lead-in for today's post. :-)

If the ground was green and the flowers were out, I'd say that I was heading to Wine Country, but given the many inches of white stuff on the ground and the need for many layers, I'd say I'm headed to Snow Country.

That's right. I'll be traveling across this great state of ours for a good part of the day, and I'll be sure to check in later this afternoon after I arrive. I'm not quite sure how I'll ever survive because I just discovered that my lodgings don't include a facility with internet connection *gasp, shudder*. Thanks to my Uber-Dork phone and my day-time accommodations, I have a feeling that nothing will come between me and The Tubes. :-)

I had a sinking feeling that I needed to have the LucyMobile checked out before my trip, and I'm glad I did. After taking it to one of Lansing's finest shops for a going-over with a fine tooth comb, and a lot of money later, I'm the proud owner of a new S-belt. The daughter of one of the Automobile Industry's Hardest Workers, you'd think my car knowledge would be a little more extensive than it is. Unfortunately it is not. Here's how car repairs figure in my mind...

Something Broke = $$$
...and that's about it.

Needless to say, with the wallet a bit lighter, the plastic a bit more worn, and a few more frequent flyer miles banked, I should be okay.

Staying true to my Mitten roots, I'll stay well-nourished today thanks to one of Michigan's finest delicacies. Pop it in the oven, wrap it in foil and eat and enjoy while I'm on the road. Mmm!!!

Enjoy the day, the snow, the cold, the beauty of it all, and think good travel thoughts for me. If you're lucky, I may even snap some photos of the Great White North and add them to my favorite Michigan photo pool.

Happy Trails!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A New Year, A New Michigan, A New You - The State Senate

It's a new year, a New Michigan, and time for a New You to get involved in your government. We need to continue to keep Michigan Great! (Many thanks to those who helped make this piece possible, despite the difficulty I ran into before)

The Michigan State Senate, the other half of the Legislative Branch of Michigan's government. Compared to the House's 110 districts, the Senate only has 38 districts, each representing approximately 212,400 to 263,500 residents. State Senators serve 4 year terms, compared to the House's 2 year terms.

The Democrats may not have won the Senate, but you can still count on Minority Leader Mark Schauer to keep our interests well represented. Known for his ability to reach across the aisle while still keeping strong to the Democratic Agenda, Michigan's citizens can have complete faith in his abilities.

Speaking of working hard, today the Senate is back to work. You can view the session schedule and if you're so inspired, you can watch the Health Policy Committee starting this morning at 10am.

Find your senator according to the district map or look them up on the Senate Directory. You never know, you may find that your senator serves in the Leadership!

Each senator serves on several committees. Senate Leadership appoints senators to either standing committees, appropriations sub-committees, or both.

One of the unique privileges of serving in the Senate includes the power to Advise and Consent.
The Michigan Constitution grants the State Senate the power to reject various gubernatorial appointments. The Senate Government Operations Reform Committee is the committee that makes recommendations to the full senate on whether to confirm or deny any given appointment.
You can view appointee questionnaires and their answers for some of the major offices like State Treasurer and the Department of State Police.

Like the House, the Senate helps decide how to divide up the State Budget, and they couldn't do it without the Senate Fiscal Agency. The SFA provides unbiased assistance in the matters of fiscal and legislative analysis.

Each senator is provided with assistance with press and outreach through either the Republican or Democratic Caucus, depending on their affiliation.

The Senate website is full of interactive trivia and games for the entire family. Click on Kids Page on the website (link not provided), and you can explore the Art of the Senate, print out pages to color, brush up on your trivia, or play puzzles and games.

Come back tomorrow as we delve into the third branch of Michigan's government, The Judicial Branch.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Blog o' the Day - Pohlitics

It's been a while, so I thought it was only fitting to bring back the Blog o' the Day feature back with my morning favorite - Pohlitics.

We all have morning habits. Mine happens to include reading the daily "Outside it's America" post from Zack. It's literally the Morning Roundup of all Michigan liberal Blogs.

Zack reads all the latest posts, and then summarizes and recommends his favorites each morning. I never cease to get excited when a post from LLP makes it on there. Here's the first time we made it big on Pohlitics, and I'll never forget how excited I was.

Don't be fooled into thinking that Pohlitics is just a morning round-up. If you are a missing a little humor in your life, check out one of his regular funnies, as they are sure bring a chuckle or two.

Always setting the bar high, Zack continues to expand his website, and since the creation of Mr. Rogers' Watch, he's helping everyone in the 8th Congressional District keep tabs on wily Mike Rogers with his aptly-named Rogers Probe.

Take it from this liberal, Pohlitics is not only about to be your favorite morning destination, but it's one-stop-shopping for everything progressive happening on the Michigan blogosphere. Do yourself a favor and stop by today!

Monday, January 22, 2007


The mere mention of Roe v. Wade often strikes a certain amount of discomfort for many. For others it invokes a sense of justice, and then there are those who are overcome with rage. Clearly it's one of the most publicly tumultuous decisions ever handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

With yesterday marking the 34th Anniversary of this landmark case, I was looking for a way to discuss it that felt right. Because it is still such a controversial issue for so many, I feel that dialogue about the subject must also be carefully tempered.

I am grateful for the right to be left in charge of my own body by my own government. I believe it's an issue that each woman has the right to decide on her own, period.

Many times when I struggle to find the right words to express my feelings, I turn to others. This time is no different. This was written today by LLP contributor, Mensch71. It is republished in it's entirety with her permission.

Growing up in the Casa de Mensch, I regularly embarrassed (and now grateful) for the frankness with which MommyMensch discussed sex, drugs and alcohol. By the time I'd reached puberty, not only did I know the proper names for most everything, I knew how things worked. Mom was absolutely determined that HER daughter would not find out about reproduction from a book or a health class. She dispelled every sex myth ("you can't get pregnant if you do it in a swimming pool!") and made sure that I knew the consequences of drinking while doing anything, including breathing.

As I got older, I became the Sex Guru among my friends, simply because my Mom made sure that I was informed. It's not that I had much personal experience, but I was prepared. When I leapt into the fray, I was smart and safe.

At some point during high school (or maybe a little earlier), Mom told me about a college acquaintance of hers who found herself in the family way. Now, this was the 1960s when unmarried and pregnant were Just. Not. Done. Her options were to drop out of college and to drop out of college. I don't remember all of the details here, but what I do recall is that this desperate woman had a "coat hanger abortion".

She died.

She died because she had no choices. Yesterday was the 34th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. On January 21, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling that upheld a woman's right to make choices about her own reproductive health.

Contrary to some opinions, Roe v. Wade doesn't encourage abortions, it simply provides woman with the right to have one. For nearly my entire life, this right (along with the right to vote, drive and serve in the military) has been part of my world. I can't imagine a time where it wasn't ok for me to be the master of my own ship, the captain of my own destiny.

That said, there are many who would like to see a world where reproductive health choices are the purview of the church and there are others who believe that women shouldn't have the vote or be allowed to own property or be the CEO of a company. As absurd as that sounds today, remember that only decades ago... this was the case. So be grateful for the rights that we have today and work to protect those that others would take from us.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Introduction and Analysis of the House Standing Committee Leadership

On Friday, subscription-only MIRS and Gongwers announced that the House had selected the new leadership for the Standing Committees. The list contained a few surprises, but for the most part, it was true to the path that Speaker Andy Dillon has set in motion since his election.

The list is below, and some analysis of the appointments below. Given that I wasn't old enough to vote the last time that Democrats held power, my analysis is humbly offered. Feel free to add your two cents.

Agriculture: Rep. Jeff Mayes (D-Bay City)
Appropriations: Rep. George Cushingberry Jr. (D-Detroit)
Banking & Financial Services: Rep. Andy Courlouis (D-Saginaw)
Commerce: Rep. Andy Meisner (D-Ferndale)
Education: Rep. Tim Melton (D-Auburn Hills)
Energy & Tech: Rep. Frank Acciavatti (D-Eastpointe)
Ethics & Elections: Rep. Marc Corriveau (D-Northville)
Family & Children Services: Rep. Brenda Clack (D-Flint)
Government Operations: Rep. Lisa Wojno (D-Warren)
Great Lakes & The Environment: Rep. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor)
Health Policy: Rep. Kathy Angerer (D-Dundee)
Insurance: Rep. Virgil Smith (D-Detroit)
Intergovernmental, Urban and Regional Affairs: Rep., Barb Byrum (D-Onondaga)
Judiciary: Rep. Paul Condino (D-Southfield)
Labor: Rep. Fred Miller (D-Mt. Clemens)
Military, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security: Rep. Gino Polidori (D-Dearborn)
New Economy & Quality of Life: Rep. Ed Clemente (D-Lincoln Park)
Oversight and Investigations: Rep. Steve Tobocman (D-Detroit)
Regulatory Reform: Rep. Barb Farrah (D-Southgate)
Senior Health, Security & Retirement: Rep. Robert Jones (D-Grand Rapids)
Tax Policy: Rep. Steve Bieda (D-Warren)
Tourism, Outdoor Recreation and Natural Resources: Rep. Joel Sheltrown (D-West Branch)
Transportation: Rep. Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-Taylor)


Jeff Mayes - (Agriculture) Mayes has long been a fan of alternative fuels and has a good history during the last 2 years of his tenure of being a progressive supporter of Michigan's agricultural economy. Out of all of the Dems in the House, he probably has the strongest ties with the Agri-Business community, and is highly thought of as a public servant who is very effective.

George Cushingberry Jr.- (Appropriations) Grandfathered in by the state term limits, Cushingberry has entered his final term in the House. Previously he served on multiple committees while he was in the House from 1974-1982, including Appropriations.
While he's got a legal matter concerning the filing of campaign finance statements hanging over his head, technically Cushingberry's got the most qualifying experience to head up Appropriations, where all the money is handled. Dillon's appointment of Cushingberry is a resounding approval and trust in this man known as an extremely smart and savvy legislator.

Andy Coulouris - (Banking and Financial Services) Coulouris is one of only six freshmen representatives chosen to chair a committee. Coulouris was an assistant prosecutor for Saginaw County, and held a seat on the Saginaw City Council. Rep. Coulouris is a member of the Saginaw Downtown Development Authority, the Saginaw Community Enrichment Commission, and the Saginaw County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Let's hope that his youth and impressive political resume add a fresh but grounded perspective to this important committee.

Andy Meisner - (Commerce) Meisner's appointment is no big surprise. He's served as the Vice-Chair of the House Commerce Committee and Ethics, Oversight and Campaign Finance Committee, and was a member of the Tax Policy Committee. Given Meisner's experience in the public, non-profit and private sectors, he should do exceedingly well with this committee.

Tim Melton - (Education) Melton's another one of the Freshman Six, appointed to chair a committee. Back home in Auburn Hills, he sits as a member of Oakland University's Political Science Alumni Board. No other relevant information was available online after an extensive search regarding Melton's educational experience.

Frank Accavitti - (Energy and Technology) Accavitti was a natural choice, most recently serving as Minority Vice Chair of the committee for the previous session.

Marc Corriveau - (Ethics and Elections) The third of the Freshmen Six, the irony is not missed that Corriveau was one of the surprise winners from the 20th District, where there quite a few ethics issues with the Republican primary candidates, particularly Beth Stewart, wife of former Representative John Stewart. With his legal background, Corriveau maybe a fresh face to Lansing, but he's a hard worker and dedicated public servant with a strong set of ethics that should do well.

Brenda Clack - (Family and Children Services) Clack's tenure of 32 years as an award-winning teacher was not missed when she was selected as the Minority Vice Chair of this committee last session. Known as strong family and children advocate, Clack is the natural choice.

Lisa Wojno - (Government Operations) Wojno's a third-term representative who most recently served as Minority Vice Chair of the Regulatory Reform committee, and held a seat on the Insurance committee. This committee is often used as a catch-all for bills that really don't fit in any other committees, and Wojno could potentially see some heavy-hitters.

Rebekah Warren - (Great Lakes and Environment) As the fourth member of the Freshmen Six, Warren's long been held in high regard across Michigan for her strong record of progressive activism. Her appointment as Chair could signal the Democrats turn towards getting aggressive on issues like renewable energy standards, and more regulated energy use through efficiency standards and incentives. It also must be mentioned that with Warren being such a strong Pro-Choice advocate, this could be Speaker Dillon's way of reaching out to the Pro-Choice delegation. Regardless, expect her to be one of the Democrats rising stars.

Kathy Angerer - (Health Policy) A previous member of the committee, Angerer is a good choice, but an interesting one. Hailing from the typically conservative 55th district (Monroe and part of Washtenaw) her Anti-Choice background must be mentioned, but despite that, she's had a very progressive record of working for the patients. The hot-button statewide issue has been stem cell research. Angerer's got a favorable voting record on the issue, but it will be interesting to see how she reacts when Andy Meisner re-introduces his stem cell research bill, anticipated early this year. Further up the chain, will the Speaker hold true to his promise not to block any introduction of stem cell legislation? Let's hope so.

Virgil Smith Jr. - (Insurance) Smith's appointment was welcome news to the Detroit-area Democrats. Long the issue of Detroiters, Smith has worked hard to bring more equity to the insurance system for auto owners, and to fight excessive rates.

Barb Byrum - (Intergovernmental, Urban and Regional Affairs) Yet another of the Freshmen Six, Byrum was a smart choice for the position. She has an extensive history of regional economic development issues. That coupled with her law degree and experience as a small business owner, Byrum brings a unique mixture to the committee. She's got big shoes to fill, but Dillon's faith in her abilities seems apparent with the selection.

Paul Condino - (Judiciary) Condino's extensive legal background and previous experience on the Judiciary Committee makes this change a smart and seamless one. With a proven record of fighting for progressive legal rights, let's hope Condino takes his experience into the Committee room with him.

Fred Miller - (Labor) Miller's a second-term representative from Mt. Clemens. Since serving a stint as former Congressman David Bonior's aide, Miller's had strong ties with the labor community that he's held on to.

Gino Polidori - (Military, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security) Another no-brainer. Polidori's an Army veteran, and Dearborn's retired Fire Chief. Previous committee assignments include Senior Health, Security and Retirement, Education, and Family and Children Services.

Ed Clemente - (New Economy and Quality of Life) The choice of Clemente is not too surprising considering his long history of business development Downriver and within the Greater Wayne County area.

Steve Tobocman - (Oversight and Investigations) For the new Majority Floor Leader, this committee seems like a good fit. With the whispers of scandals that tainted the previous session, the House is in good need of a firm hand with the gavel. Tobocman's professional legal and policy experience should bode well in this powerful committee.

Barbara Farrah - (Regulatory Reform) Entering her third-term, Farrah joins the important Regulatory Reform committee following a strong background serving on the Tax Policy, Employment Relations, and Insurance committees. Expect powerful but fair leadership from Farrah.

Robert Jones - (Senior Health, Security and Retirement) The final member of the Freshman Six, Jones was elected after serving as the mayor of Kalamazoo, and served on the Executive Committee for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, appointed by Gov. Granholm. After spending over 30 years as a chemist, he has strong ties to the scientific and economic communities.

Steve Bieda - (Tax Policy) Now in his third term, Bieda has a thorough background as an attorney specializing in tax policy, and served as a Senior Policy Analyst for the House back in the 90's before being elected. Last term he served as the Minority Vice Chair on this committee, so his succession seems natural and should be a seamless transition.

Joel Sheltrown - (Tourism, Outdoor Recreation and Natural Resources) Sheltrown is a popular Democrat among the heavily-Republican laden northern Lower Peninsula. Sheltrown served on the former Conservation, Forestry and Outdoor Recreation Committee. He has a very pro-environment stance, and should be a good fit.

Hoon-Yung Hopgood - (Transportation) While Hopgood has not served on Transportation previously, he is known as an extremely effective legislator. Transportation is a very important committee and expect him to use his previous legislative experience to be equally effective here.

(Cross-posted on Michigan Liberal and Daily Kos)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Come See Sen. Levin Speak Today

Today I'll be back in my old haunts as I attend a very special event.

The Livingston Co. Democratic Party is hosting

U.S. Senator Carl Levin
12:30 p.m.
Whispering Pines Golf Course
2500 Whispering Pines Dr., Pinckney
Cost: $55 each

I'm honored to have been asked by the Livingston Co. Dems to come out and attend. If the facilities permit, I'll be live-blogging from the event on MichiganLiberal.

Sen. Levin will speak on the Iraq war and the Democratic Party's successful First 100 Hours Agenda. It will be very interesting to hear what he has to say.

See you there!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Why is Our State Senate Website Inaccessible?

I'd love to continue my series on A New Year, A New Michigan, A New You by focusing on the State Senate, but if only the Senate website would let me do it.

Unfortunately, the way that the Senate website is set up is not user-friendly. Navigating in and around the website is difficult. The way that the Senate website is set up, you cannot click on the different features and have a separate address (link) for each feature. Most of the features that are provided by the website are featured on the top, and include info about the Senate, committee information, Senate rules, employment, legislative links, Senate TV, and the kids page.

It wouldn't be noticeable to most people, because it all looks the same as you navigate within the site. Because linking directly to specific pages within the website is impossible for people like you and I, it's even more difficult for those with disabilities. According to a source within the Commission for the Blind, a blind person using a text reader would definitely not be able to link directly to a page within the Senate website.

Being a health and disability advocate for many years, I have a serious problem with this. Two things should be inherent within our government - transparency and accessibility. The two go hand-in-hand, and without one, you cannot have the other.

Not to be one to just ring and run, I called the Senate and after pointing out the inaccessibility, I asked when they thought it might be fixed. I was told that they are aware of the problem, but that there is no immediate time line and the hope is for it to be fixed by June.

I'm glad that they are aware of the problem, but is June really soon enough?

If you're interested in addressing this problem, you can contact your senator, or you can call the Senate directly and ask them to prioritize this project. Their number is 517.373.2400.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Help Lansing's Princess Caroline

A little over a month ago I shared the story of Caroline Thomas, a darling 5 year-old girl from Lansing who was fighting brain cancer.

Since then, Caroline, also known as the Princess of Jerome Street, has undergone several surgeries, six weeks of radiation and must undergo 45 weeks (nearly a year!) of chemotherapy.

As someone who faced over 10 straight years serious illness and hospitalizations (over 70) and has had 35 surgeries, I understand all too well the pressures that Caroline and her family face. It's not a pretty picture.

An on-going illness of any sort doesn't just affect the patient. It affects every member of the family, Caroline has 2 older brothers and two mothers who must bear the burden with her. It's not just the sickness, but the constant trips to the hospital and doctor's offices, the never-ending pain, the fear of what tomorrow will bring, the answering "How are you doing?" twenty times a day, and of course, the medical bills. Families who remain intact after such an emotional battle all deserve credit and respect.

Because I can identify with Caroline and her family, my heart not only aches for them, but staying true to who I am and the passion that fills within me, I want to help them. I was pleased when Mensch71 passed along the news that a fundraiser had been planned for Caroline.

If you're in the area, please stop by, say hello, and give of yourself what you can for Caroline and her family.

Caroline's Cut-a-thon @ Chroma

Saturday 1/27/07
10 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.


615 E. Michigan Ave.
Lansing, MI 48912
Cost: $25

Come and get your haircut by one of Chroma's 8 stylists. All proceeds will go to the Thomas family for Caroline's medical expenses.
Donations will also be taken for Locks of Love.

There will be hourly door prizes and light snacks and beverages.

Come out on Saturday, get yourself lookin' spiffy, and help out one of our own.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Just as it Belongs

The Frozen Winterland
Originally uploaded by LiberalLucy.
Today I take time to celebrate and rejoice in the beautiful Michigan winter that lies outside of my humble abode this morning.

For far too long I have heard the grumbles and complaints of Michigan residents and visitors alike regarding the winter weather. Everything from how much they hate the snow and cold to how certain people seem to lose their ability to operate a vehicle when the white stuff starts to fly. For many, winter seems like the season to complain.

I'd like to offer my minority opinion to the chorus of voices.

I love Michigan winter!

In fact, my favorite days of the entire year are the ones where you find yourself short of breath as you step outside simply because it's so cold. It might sound odd, maybe even a little crazy, but Michigan just isn't Michigan without snow, skating on the pond, snow boots, ice scrapers for your car, remembering not to leave any cans or bottles of pop in your car overnight, and everyone's morning hero, the snow plow.

These past few months have been strangely disconcerting for me. Temperatures in the 50's and 60's, I don't know whether to blame El Nino, global warming or both. Either way, it's not been the same.

As the thermometer dipped last week and the flurries began to descend, I literally breathed a sigh of relief. Snow in Michigan means we're okay. Just like Spartan football isn't the same without the falling leaves, a July afternoon belongs paired with a cool glass of lemonade and sunblock, and the morning frost is a pleasant sight in March and April, living in Michigan means going through each of the four seasons, in all their glory.

There's something right about donning the winter gear and bracing for the cold as you step outside. Today as I grab my shovel and heave the heavy snow off of the sidewalk, you can be sure that a smile will be present on my face and in my heart, because I know I've got my winter back, here in Michigan, exactly where it belongs.

Monday, January 15, 2007

West/Mid Michigan Meet Up - This Friday!

Come one, come all, to the West/Mid Michigan Meet Up -
this Friday, Jan. 19th @ 7:30
at Beaners - 2500 E. Beltline, Grand Rapids.

Your hosts, LiberalLucy and Angrybird, will be joined by numerous others from the Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Mt. Pleasant areas.

Combined with readers/writers/lurkers of, and Daily Kos, a good time is promised for all.

Email me with any questions or to RSVP, but more importantly, we just hope to see you there!

Wishing everyone warmth and happiness!

New Democractic Leadership Reaches Out to Bloggers

Welcome to 2007! A year of change, a year of a new majority, and a year to continue to make Michigan great! It's encouraging to see that Michigan's Democratic leadership is reaching out for our assistance in shaping that future.

Come join Speaker of the House Andy Dillon, Majority Floor Leader Steve Tobocman, and Representative Barb Byrum as they meet with folks like you from the Michigan progressive/liberal/democratic blogosphere on

Friday, Febuary 16th
6pm - 7pm
Livingston County Democratic Party Office
10321 E. Grand River Suite 600
Brighton, MI. 48116

Of course, far be it from the folks in the Senate to miss out. Many thanks to Minority Leader Mark Schauer for offering to meet up

Wednesday, Febuary 21st
7pm - 8:30pm
Lansing Off-Site Office
3230 S. Pennslyvania
Lansing, MI 48910***
(Please RSVP for this event)

If you live in the Lansing area, (either the 67th, 68th, or 69th House Districts, or in Senate District 23), then Reps. Barb Byrum, Joan Bauer, Mark Meadows and Senator Gretchen Whitmer ask you that you join them

Thursday Febuary 8th
6:30pm - 8:30pm
3499 E. Lake Lansing Rd.
East Lansing, MI 48823

Of course, don't forget to attend the Michigan Democratic Party State Convention with Blogger's Caucus 2.0 on

Saturday Febuary 24th
10 am - 12pm
Cobo Hall
Detroit, MI

Many thanks to the above-mentioned legislators for reaching out to all of us.

For questions, concerns, or to schedule a Bloggers Meet-Up in your area, contact me.

From Cruise Director to Chief of Protocol?

My reputation as Cruise Director of the Michigan Liberal Blogosphere has become widely known, and will continue to grow as my Outreach duties grow (see the morning post on MichLib).

For those of you looking around for the Carnival ship, put your binoculars down. No ship, well at least not yet. :-)

It's been a running joke now for a couple months, as I seem to find myself the social butterfly/gatherer of bloggers/connector between bloggers. It's a role I love, because it gives me the opportunity to stay in touch with such a diverse and richly-talented group of individuals who are similarly driven to keep our state great. (If you want proof, check out the blogroll to the right)

This evening as I was prepping the morning's post, I had a chat with MichLib frequenter Count VonBob. The Count and I were musing over my ever-growing role, more formally known as the Outreach Coordinator. That's when he suggested the perfect goal for me - Chief of Protocol, and sent me to Wikipedia.

Hmm...Chief of Protocol. As a girl who always reaches for the stars, I decided to poke my nose around the CoP's office and see if the digs suited me. That's when I discovered the top 5 duties
1. Plan and execute detailed programs for foreign leaders visiting the President and accompany them during their official travel in the United States, including their visit with the President at the White House.

2. Accompany the President on all official visits abroad; coordinate planning with the White House advance office, the First Lady's staff and host country officials.

3. Make arrangements for and accompany delegations named by the President to represent him at inaugurals, funerals, weddings, Independence Day celebrations, and similar ceremonies abroad.

4. Certify and pay the expenses of the foregoing and other diplomatic activities authorized by Congress.

5. Oversee the accreditation of foreign Ambassadors and organize the presentation of their credentials to the President and the Secretary of State.

Well, the more I think about it, it's not too different from my volunteer duties as Cruise Director. Of course, then I stumble upon #4 and that nonsense about "certify and pay the expenses".


I may not earn much (i.e. nothing!) as Cruise Director, but I'll be damned if I'm paying for chocolate mints on a pillow and $400 bottles of wine for someone else to eat and drink.

Well, so much for that idea. Looks like it's back to the shuffleboard deck for me. Besides, muscles like these shouldn't be wasted on just anybody.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Michigan's Democratic Leaders Get It

What does the House, the Senate, and the Executive Office all have in common?

They realize the importance of the Net Roots community and they want to work with us!

Get your calendars, some very important dates are headed your way. Stay tuned to here and MichiganLiberal for more to details to be announced on Monday!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A New Year, A New Michigan, A New You - The State House of Representatives

It's a New Year, a New Session of Government, and we're pleased as punch, because it's a New Majority!

It's a government for the people, and by the people, which means that now, more than ever, it's time for you to get involved!

The Michigan House of Representatives - the largest half of the state's legislative branch.

I think today's segment is especially fitting because all 110 members of the House are being sworn in for the official start of the 94th Session.

Speaking of representatives, do you know who represents you? The House website offers several ways to locate and contact your representative. There's also a full listing of your representatives here.

Got to give credit to the government. Between wireless access for visitors at the Anderson House Office Building, and at the Capitol Building, you can also watch your representatives in session on Michigan Government Television via your computer. It's not likely to win any Oscars anytime soon, but what better way to keep tabs on your public servants than by actually watching them? Heck, you can even gear up the DVR or TiVo if there's a session or committee you really want to watch with this detailed schedule. ***Watch the swearing in today starting at 12pm.

Ever thought about visiting your legislator? Contrary to popular belief, your legislator is available to you. If you're in the Lansing area, why not stop by and say hello? It's not very often that constituents like you and I directly speak to your our representatives, and believe it or not, they love to hear from us! Check the session calendar and see when they'll be available (typically Tuesdays - Thursdays). Mondays and Fridays are traditionally considered in-district days, meaning that you can probably find them in your neck of the woods. While you're visiting your rep, be sure to stop by the Capitol, see if you can snag a tour (free for the public) and watch session in progress from the gallery.

Each representative is assigned to several committees, which are selected by their party's leadership. Committee assignments are based each legislators' seniority, previous experience, and professional background. Good news for us, the Democrats are back in charge, and hence, each committee is chaired by a Democrat.

Speaking of Democrats, each party has it's own Caucus. The Democratic Caucus is here, and well when the Republicans get theirs back up, it will be here.

The most essential part of the House website is the Citizen's Guide. This is the website that has all the information just for you. There's everything from ideas on how to contact your representative, to a kids page to how a bill becomes a law and a pdf version of the free government guide, A Citizen's Guide to State Government. Check them all out.

Stop on by again tomorrow as we head on over to the State Senate and see what's cooking there.

Remember, it's your government, get involved and make it work for you!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A New Year, A New Michigan, A New You - The Office of the Governor

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm, Michigan's first female governor, and only one of nine female governors currently serving in the entire U.S.

The Governor's website can be seen here.

Don't let the subdued appearance fool you, this website is chock full of interactive features, including various video clips of important state addresses, and conversations outlining her growth plan for Michigan.

Did you know that the Gov is one hip lady? You can listen to her weekly radio addresses (guaranteed to be more interesting, grammatically correct, and uplifting than that guy in D.C.) through the website or you can download a podcast.

Check out the list of executive orders, and executive directives, special privileges granted only to the Governor. (I'm an especially big fan of this executive directive, I think you might be too.)

Here's a little factoid - There are 21 members of the Cabinet, that are responsible for everything from Education to Agriculture, to the State Budget and the State Police.

Never forgetting who she works for, Governor Granholm has a very large constituent services program. Whether it's sharing a comment/suggestion, a request for assistance, requesting a birthday greeting for a loved one, or recognition of an achievement (Eagle Scout, Retirement, Wedding Anniversary, etc) the Governor is there to help you. Probably one of the most important divisions of the Executive Office, Constituent Services is there to provide an outlet for you, the citizen to make your voice heard.

Of course these are only a few of the different features found on the Governor's website. Be sure to check them all out, and to get to know your government a little better.

Monday, January 08, 2007

A New Year, A New Michigan, A New You

It's a new year, a new session of Michigan Government, with new legislators, a new majority, and a great Governor with a plan for a New Michigan.

Start new with you... get involved. Make your tax dollars work for you. Let your legislators hear from you.

Keeping Michigan great starts with you.

Our government is elected by, paid for, and serves us.

It takes the people to dictate how the government is run. It starts on election day by voting for those you think best represent your interests. It continues with each of us communicating our agenda to our public servants, the elected officials. Face it, if they don't hear from us, how are they going to work for us??

Over the next week, I'll be reviewing the various branches of government, and their websites. Stay tuned, and get involved.

It's your government.

First up in the series...The Lady Gov and her Executive Office.

Lansing/Grand Rapids Blogger's Meet-Up

Following the great success of the Ann Arbor/Ypsi meet-up, a bunch of bloggers/lurkers/fans from Daily Kos and Michigan Liberal will be congregating in Grand Rapids on Friday, Jan. 19th.

Will you join us?

We're tenatively looking at a 7pm kick-off time, and unlike Drinking Liberally, we won't be having it in a bar. There's been several suggestions, including a coffee house or a restuarant, but we want to keep it informal, inexpensive and smoke-free.

If you have any questions, you can always email me. Otherwise, feel free to reply below!

Thursday, January 04, 2007


While checking my blog this morning, I was greeted by two very interesting comments left on two separate posts. While I encourage diversity of thought, I also encourage such diversity to be factual and presented in a mature manner. I deleted the comments because I felt that they were rants and non-educational.

Not too long after deleting the comments, I received an email from the commenter. Sent from an yahoo email account identifying themselves as Jamie Hope -
What's the matter liberal Lucy I thought you wanted an
educational experience not an indoctrination
experience. Are we trying to silence the opposition by
not posting my comments. I tell you what, how about
we have a blog debate. I work with Republicans and
Democrats alike - for a living! You are wrong by not
posting other peoples comments.

Check your facts are seriously
misinformed. Oh and by the way.....I am sure you were
not even alive when Gerald Ford was President so stop
regurgitating information from other peoples work.
You sound like a parrot restating the already spoken.
Oh and question for you......what did you think of
Gerald Ford pardoning Richard Nixon for his acts in
the Watergate Scandal?
This wouldn't be a big deal, but for the fact that Jamie Hope stopped by 4 times today spending over an hour and a half of her day here.

A simple Google search reveals that there is a Jamie Hope that works as a legislative aide to Rep. Stahl. State Representative John Stahl (R) is from the 82nd district. A quick check of my site traffic reveals that all of these visits were done from the House, presumably while Jamie was at work for Rep. Stahl.

I won't lie, I find it slightly disturbing that a comment accusing the left as wreaking genocide against African Americans by means of abortion comes from an employee of the former chair of the House Standing Committee on Family and Children Services. This of course, was just one of the many rants she made in her 5 comments now posted on my blog.

As I write this, I've discovered that Jamie's come back to the blog and spent another 25 minutes sending me an email, asking me to publish her previously deleted comment on this post (which unfortunately I can't due to software restrictions, but I can publish the text here, since she wants you to see this.)
Ok....first of all.....regardless of weapons of mass destruction....oil...personal greed...whatever reason you want to give for the true motives of why we are in Iraq.....SADDAM HUSSEIN WAS KILLING PEOPLE BY THE MASSES. He was experimenting on the Sunni muslims with gases that killed them not to mention many other reasons he found for killing his citizens. Many of you say....well...he wasn't a direct threat to our country...are you kidding me? Aren't liberals supposed to be the humanitarians that want to help their fellow "global citizen". Yet you cower in the face of giving up your life for the life of your fellow man. Here is a little history knowledge for you. Did you know the Baath party was started in the 1930's-40's by a man who studied Hitler to a tee and formed his party in the image of the Nazi party? They even had a similar symbol to the Nazi symbol. They hated the jewish people and wanted to work with the Nazi party to do the same thing to Jews in the middle east as Hitler did to his people-and still would like to. That is the basis for the whole Baath party and you are going to tell me that this party - Saddam's party - it was ok for them to kill and plan to destroy not only their own people but the Jewish people. Try explaining that one to the Iraqi people and the Jewish people. Go ahead....tell them you don't care if they live or die because the people killing them or attempting to kill them are not a direct threat to you. Our troops are willing to die to save a strangers life over there - how about you? No - you would rather sit behind your computer and blog about what everyone else is doing or not doing. Coward! My uncle was a World War II spy - ever heard of the Jed Burgs? They were an elite group of military operatives that Winston Churchill credited for turning the tide of the war in favor of America. These men risked their lives. My uncle was a prisoner of war in the foothills of China for months and his wife who was with child did not even know if he was alive (different mission after Germany). Did he complain about being at war against these barbaric people that needed to be stopped no. Bone up and get a back bone and stop sitting around the fireplace singing peace songs - there are people that want to kill us and will kill us when given the chance. Our President is being proactive, instead of putting out fires after they happen, which is what you apparantly like to do, he is ensuring that these people are put down before they do further harm. And we wouldn't be in the predicament in the first place if your good ol' boy slick willy clinton had killed Osama Bin Laden when he had the chance...however decided to let him go because he was to busy committing non-integrity, non-great generation acts in the White House Oval Office.
Both emails have been published on here, without any editing by me.

I'm not sure what to say to Jamie. She's entitled to her opinion, and if she wants to be heard, then by all means, she's free to post where she'd like. Of course, we bloggers also have that same right, and to do with our blog as we'd like. While I'm appreciative of all the attention she's paying towards my blog, I certainly hope the citizens of 82nd District aren't missing out on all the work that she could be doing for them, particularly given that today is a day when the House is in session.

Update: Check out some other thoughts on Jamie and her words at Among the Trees. Many thanks to Eric B. for weighing in.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft

If You Believe You Are the Victim of Identity Theft:

1. Contact the fraud departments of any one of the three consumer reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to place a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert tells creditors to follow certain procedures before open any new accounts...

2. Close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Use the ID Theft Affidavit when disputing new unauthorized accounts...

3. File your complaint with the FTC. You may print a copy of your complaint to provide important standardized information for your police report...

4. File a report with your local police or police in the community where the identity theft took place. Give the police a copy of your FTC ID Theft complaint form. Get a copy of the police report (or, at least, the police report number)
(Source: FTC)

Be smart, be safe, and be thankful you live in Michigan.

Granholm Continues to Protect Against Identity Theft

Every 19 minutes a person becomes the victim of identity theft.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice Statistics, identity theft is now passing up drug trafficking as the number one crime in the nation.

About 10 million people each year are victimized by identity theft.

Identity theft cost U.S. businesses and consumers $56.6 billion in 2005. (Source: Identity Theft Resource Center)

Something must be done.

Michigan citizens can rest a little easier knowing that Governor Jennifer M. Granholm has signed legislation today continuing to protect us from identity theft.

Granholm signed Senate Bill 309, sponsored by former Senator Shirley Johnson (R-Troy), which requires that Michigan residents be notified if the security of a database containing their personal information is breached.

The legislation stems from measures called for in Granholm's 2006 State of the State Address.

“Today’s technology has taken commerce and communication to new heights, but it also puts citizens at additional risk of identity theft as ever-increasing amounts of personal information are stored and transmitted electronically” Granholm said. “While I am pleased to sign legislation that provides critical information to consumers, we must do more to provide our citizens with the tools they need to truly protect themselves.”

The legislation signed today requires that individuals and government agencies notify consumers when a security breach puts personal information, including social security numbers, drivers license numbers, and financial information, at risk. Failure to properly notify consumers of a security breach can result in a fine of up to $750,000.

The new notification requirement is similar to one part of the legislative package Granholm called for last year. That proposal would have allowed consumers

  • to freeze their credit reports in the event of identity theft,
  • broadened the amount of data covered by the notification law and
  • increased penalties for identity theft crimes.
“I am confident the new Legislature will build on this new law to provide consumers with the protection they need to guard against identity theft,” said Granholm.
(Courtesy: Office of the Governor)

(See post below for what to do if you believe you are the victim of Identity Theft)

Take a lesson from a Real President, Mr. Bush

Michigan's own son, Gerald R. Ford. A man of integrity, humility, servitude.

Not words I'd associate with our current Commander in Chief. But I certainly appreciate his words today about the late President.

Now only if he'd take a lesson of his own and follow in Ford's example.

There were several points throughout the speech that I found surprising, particularly considering the speaker.
He (Ford) belonged to a generation that measured men by their honesty and their courage.

Has that generation left us? Is it a generation that we willingly walked away from or did it simply disappear? Who took us away from that generation and why aren't we walking back to it instead of just referencing it as a historical event?
In President Ford, the world saw the best of America -- and America found a man whose character and leadership would bring calm and healing to one of the most divisive moments in our nation's history.

Today the world seems to see the worst of America. From Jakarta to Mexico to Iraq and Afghanistan, we're known as the big schoolyard bully, that one that everyone allies with out of sheer fear and desperation.

And why is that?

Because of our leader. Where is that man/woman who can lead us back to a time of calm and healing? Think about our country today and you think of war, economic slumps, living in a constant state of panic and anxiety.
Gerald Ford showed his character in public office. As a young congressman, he earned a reputation for an ability to get along with others without compromising his principles. He was greatly admired by his colleagues and they trusted him a lot. And so when President Nixon needed to replace a vice president who had resigned in scandal, he naturally turned to a man whose name was a synonym for integrity: Gerald R. Ford. And eight months later, when he was elevated to the presidency, it was because America needed him, not because he needed the office.

Dick Cheney, Tom DeLay, Haliburton, Karl Rove, Bush v. Gore, Mark Foley - what integrity is left in today's politics? America longs for it back at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Do we really have to wait till 2008 to see it again?
Gerald Ford assumed the presidency when the nation needed a leader of character and humility -- and we found it in the man from Grand Rapids. President Ford's time in office was brief, but history will long remember the courage and common sense that helped restore trust in the workings of our democracy.

What will Bush be remembered for? (Hint - see above.)

Typically in times of reflection and grief, one is able to find pride and admiration. That seems to be the reoccurring theme for our country (for the most part) up until 2000. Now all that comes to mind is strife and scandal, fear and death.

Where is the courage and the common sense?
Where is the integrity and stewardship?
Where have all the Gerald Ford's gone?

Bloggers Get Real or The Next Book You Need to Read

There's a book that's due out that I can't wait to read.

Written by fellow Michigan blogger emptywheel, Anatomy of Deceit: How the Bush Administration Used the Media to Sell the War and Smear a Critic is already listed on, although it won't be out for a couple more weeks.

Here's a great description of the book from Amazon:
What happens when Washington, D.C. pundits and journalists run in the same social circles as the people they cover? When the President and his administration trade press access for loyalty? The public gets a complicit, uncritical press greasing the skids to a brutal war, outing a CIA agent, and muddying the waters of a grand jury investigation. In the fearful aftermath of 9/11, much of America’s pride — its free press — became an unquestioning propaganda arm.

Marcy Wheeler’s Anatomy of Deceit documents how the media promoted the Administration’s justification for war — that Iraq was on the verge of acquiring weapons of mass destruction — even though it had no basis in reality. And it provides a play-by-play account of how Vice President Dick Cheney’s office first used the media to target a critic, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, and then to avoid criminal charges in the CIA leak case.

While the media was beating the drums of war and cozying up to the administration, citizen journalists were digging for the truth. Wheeler's compelling account tells the story, as it needs to be told — from outside the Beltway's cocktail circuit.

Firedoglake will be featuring emptywheel on a discussion about her book, the process of uncovering the real facts, and what's next for her and the book. Join her at Firedoglake this Sunday, Jan. 7th at 5pm EST. I'll see you there.

I'm excited because the publication of this book further displays the power of the "alt-media" as bloggers are now being called. The world is just starting to grasp how we bloggers are able to change the face of the media. We don't have partisan editorial boards to report too, we don't write because we depend on a paycheck (although it would be nice!) we write because we believe in what we do, and the potential that educating others holds.

Many thanks to emptywheel for her hard work and dedication. I'm expecting many more great things out of her!