Wednesday, November 29, 2006

HB 6456

In Michigan right now there is HB 6456 that is being talked about. This bill didn't get much attention until Google called for net neutrality to be added to the bill.

I have to say Michigan badly need more competition in terrestrial video services. Right now Comcast has franchising rights to most of Michigan, meaning most of the places you go in Michigan they will have Comcast cable. As things stand right now only one cable operator is allowed to operate in a given town. The reason behind this is that more than one cable company operating in the same area meant that each company would need to run their own cable on the poles. Things are changing. There is now IPTV which more or less sends TV over the Internet. People are used to choices, you can even choose your phone company now, and people want a choice in who they get their terrestrial video services from. Cable companies right now are able to operate as legal monopolies and they want to keep it that way.

There was a bill offered up in the Michigan House to allow multiple video services in the state, however Comcast fought it tooth and nail and it didn't make it very far. HB 6456 was later offered as a compromise. The bill, which made it through the House, gave the power to the state, rather than local communities, the power to grant franchising rights. The underlying goal of the bill was to lay the ground work for multiple terrestrial video companies to compete.

Google saw this as an opportunity to work in something very near and dear to its heart, net neutrality. They warned that if net neutrality was not added to the bill, when the cable operators decided to move to a two tiered internet they would be able to affect the entire state, including Google's new offices in Ann Arbor.

We need net neutrality, but we also need competition in terrestrial video services. That being said, I'm not sure if net neutrality needs to be addressed in this bill, it could be addressed in it's own bill and still have the same affect.

Michigan is not the first state to take on this problem. Eight other states have enacted a bill allowing multiple video services to compete for customers. I haven't found any hard information on this (basicly because I get tired if sorting through Google results) but is looks like the other states that have passed a bill like this have not included net neutrality in them, but rather have introduced other bills to cover that issue. The way I look at it is that I would love to see net neutrality added to this bill, however I will take the victory of having multiple competing services over nothing. As I said I see net neutrality as a very important issue, but not necessarily one that has to be addressed in this bill.

I'm not saying that this bill is perfect, or even that it needs to be passed, but we do need competition in terrestrial video services in Michigan. Please don't get me wrong, I am all for net neutrality, I have even writen a letter to Senator Levin about the issue, but let's not try to make this bill into something that it is not. If passed this bill will not kill a neutral internet in Michigan. It only creates the potential of network abuse statewide if the Telecos decided to take up war against the consumers.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Higher Ed overhaul

I really think higher education needs an overhaul in this country. I feel a little ripped off from my higher education experience. Less than half of my classes had to do with my chosen subject, there wasn't enough sections of the classes I had to take, and there wasn't even close to enough equipment.

Let's put all that aside right now and talk about the useless general education requirements. I understand the thinking behind them, they are supposed to make us more well rounded and better informed. That's a great goal, but the gen-ed requirements that most people take fall very, very short of it. What use is a class on astronomy in the the real world? What about a class on linguistics, how am I going to use that? Why don't we rethink these classes and make them more useful for the people taking them.

What I suggest is something a little more practical. Instead of a class on theoretical mirco-economics, how about a class that talks about economics that we will see in our everyday life. (Someone in my micro-econ class asked the question “How is any of this used in the real world or business world?” My professor's answerer was: “Nothing in this class has anything to do with the real world, this is all theoretical economics.”) This class could talk about world trade policies, how raising or lowering the interest rate a certain times helps or hurts the economy. How about how raising or lowering taxes effects the economy? There are any number of things that could be talked about in an economics class that deals with real world, day-today economics.

How about a class that talks about the history of war. A class that talks about American politics. What about a biology class that talks about biology in reference to health. You know stuff that we will actually use. Stuff that will help us to make informed decisions at the polls, or about what car to buy, or any number of other things that impact every American much more than any of the stuff you get in the gen-ed classes now. Maybe if people had some of these classes rather than a class about the history of sentence structures people would be able to choose better politicians and demand we only go to war as a last step and that when we do things are planned out.

I'll most likely come back to this topic in the future because I think we need to make education work for us and should actually try to accomplish the goal of helping people be more informed and well rounded in their day-to-day lives.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

With all that needs to be fixed in this country, it's important to remember how lucky we are compared to the rest of the world. Freedom of speech is at least squashed some what covertly. Most of us have food to eat and clean drinking water. We don't have a war being waged here at home. And of course the thing that we can all be thankful of is that we only have two more years of the Bush Administration.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Detroit News Vs. Teachers & Education

The Detroit News needs to be run out of town. Now they are bitching about Detroit not fining teachers for striking, and are bitching, albeit not directly, for school vouchers.

In this article The News bitches about how the court won't up hold the anti-teacher strike law. My guess is the reason this law wasn't enforced is because the judge knew that if the law was ever challenged in the Supreme Court they would side with the teachers, and the school district and the state would waste money pursuing it.

This is a stupid law, and I don't think it is even constitutional. The state doesn't out law auto workers from striking. All they would have to do is say the auto industry is too important to Michigan, a strike would cripple the manufacturer, which would then be in trouble of going under, which would cripple Michigan. There is no law like that, and there never will be a law like that because the court understands that workers have rights. So why should they be able to pass a law outlawing a teacher from striking? All that does is say that state employees rights are less important that every other worker's rights, and that just isn't true.

You don't make education better by punishing teachers, all you do is lose teachers. If you want to make education better, ask for good teachers. If you want good teachers, you have to pay them well. Teaching is a thankless job to begin with; the people who are teaching right now could make much more money if they went into the private sector somewhere and left teaching. They call the teacher's union "militant", when really it is just doing its job; making sure that teacher's rights don't get trampled.

A teacher's job never ends throughout the year. When they come home they have papers to grade. They have to go back into school at night for meetings. They have to have conferences with parents. They have to put up with asshole students and parents. They have to put up with people like the assholes at the Detroit News telling them they make to much money and are ruining education.

Teachers are people just like every one else, they need money to live. Just because they are teachers doesn't mean that they get free food to eat, or a free car to to drive to work with. They don't get a free house to live in, or any other special perks just because they are teachers. They have all the expenses that everyone else has, and sometimes more. Teachers are required by law that they continue to get more education even after they have a degree and a job. Teachers have to go to conferences about different teaching techniques throughout the year. The school they work for will pay for part of this additional education and training teachers have to take, but a good deal of this costs still comes out of the teacher's pocket. Not to mention all the little odds and ends that the school district doesn't pay for that the teacher buys for their class room.

I think these Detroit News hacks should have to live on what teachers make for a year and then see if they say teachers make to much. I swear, if these people had their way teachers would be making minimum wage, with no health care. Their idea of helping schools is treating teachers like slave labor, and taking money away from public schools and giving it to private schools. All these people do is rag on education, yet they refuse to give it any more money and insist that teachers be treated like crap.

Here's the article:

Cross-posted at Michigan Liberal

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Why we must win the correct elections

In my posting “Beyond the All district strategy” I talked about how important it was for Democrats to win not only as many seats as they can but the correct seats. I argued that it is important to win the races where the Republican would actively work against us in congress. Well, Tim Walberg won Michigan's 7th district and has vowed that he will see his agenda through, even with Democrats in control of both houses of Congress.

He has stated that he will vote against any repel any of Bush's tax cuts. He also states that we will pursue “rolling back abortion rights” and banning gay marriage even if it is only bit by bit. He at least acknowledges that it will be hard to push his agenda with the Democrats controlling both houses, but he says that won't stop him.

This man will work against everything The Democrats try to do. I don't just see him voting against any bill the Dems try to past, but actively working against them. I can't waite to get rid of him.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Way to go Corporate America

What is this world coming to? Eaton Corp is planning on cutting up to 190 jobs in the Jackson Michigan area and sending them to Mexico. The important thing to realize about this is that Eaton Corp is a defense contractor and makes much needed parts for our military. In order to work at either of the two Jackson area plants, one must under go a background check and be given a security clearance. Each part that is made is stamped with a number that tells exactly who made the part and who inspected the part (my understanding, and I could be wrong, is that the Government can hold those people accountable if the part fails in combat use).

So now this company wants to close one of it's plants in Jackson and send those lines to Mexico, even after Eaton Corp's third quarter profits rose 25%. It's it great that we can send jobs, making important parts for the US Military, to Mexico.

How isn't this a National Security issue?

Solar Power to the rescue, maybe

I watched Who Killed the Electric Car today, it's good movie that you should all check out. It highlighted one part of what got GM into trouble, their inability to have any foresight, but it also highlighted something that be a huge help to Michigan- solar energy. There is a plant right here in Michigan that make thin film solar panels.

What needs to be done now is Michigan needs to start giving tax brakes to businesses and home owners that use these solar panels (and those tax breaks need to be widely known in the state). Michigan needs to start driving the demand for a product that is made right here in our own state! We need to show the rest of the country how it is done so they too will start to buy solar panels made right here in Michigan. As a state we need to stand up and start yelling from the roof tops that the country, and the world, needs to embrace solar energy; and oh by the way we know some really good solar panels you should look into. Once the demand goes up there will be a need for higher production rates and more workers. We can help solve the country's energy problems, and build the Michigan economy.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Get talking about health care

There is a great discussion going on over at Michigan Liberal about a state health care plan. Head over there now and participate. A buddy of mine who is in med-school right now told me that universal health care was most likely to start at the state level (I believe he got that info from the American Medical Association).

Get over there and talk about it! The only way to get the ball rolling is to get people talking about this issue.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Dear Dr. Dean and Mr. Brewer

Dear Dr. Dean and Mr. Brewer,
I am writing to you in hopes that you can help my district. I live in Tecumseh Michigan, which is part of Michigan's 7th congressional district. Last week our district was dealt a hard blow, ultra right-winger Tim Walberg was elected as our US Representative. Tim Walberg unseated a moderate Republican, Joe Schwarz who lost The Republican primary.

My plea to you is to make an example of our district in the next election circuit, make a red part of a blue state blue. Part of the problem this time is that some people felt that the Democratic candidate, Sharon Renier, wasn't a strong candidate. My plea to you is help us to find a strong candidate, someone the people of this district can take seriously. This year our district became purple, and many of us here would like to see it become blue, please help.

This district is a middle class district of hard working Americans. We have seen a lot of our high paying manufacturing jobs disappear to be replaced with lower paying, less attractive jobs. We want someone to work for us; we don't expect miracles, just someone who will look out for us. Michigan has gone through some hard times these last few years and we want someone to help change that. We want someone who is going to help us afford health care. We want someone who can help the economy grow strong enough so it doesn't just help those at the top.

This year Tim Walberg heavily out spent Renier. A few weeks before the election he was was out spending her 45 to 1, and while she started to close that gap a little in the week before the election, it wasn't enough. I don't think it would take a large sum of money if we had a strong candidate. This has been a district the GOP has taken for granted in the past, but this year they had to put it on their last push list.

I have heard you, Dr. Dean, say that it is a sign of respect to ask for the electorate's vote, well, ask for our vote. Our district isn't as conservative as Walberg is and we want a strong Democratic candidate to vote for next election cycle. Please ask for our vote.

Thank you both for your hard work.

Education in America

Well since prop 5 didn't pass in Michigan last week (somehow I knew it wouldn't), it makes me wonder what Americans really think of public schools. Now I know that just because this prop didn't pass doesn't mean that American's don't want to fund public schools, but what do people think public schools role is in society, and how do they think they schools should be funded?

To me it is always interesting how politicians always talk about wanting a better eduction system in this country, but seldom do anything to help it that matters. Instead, they come up with all sorts of tests for students and if the students do poorly on those tests, the schools don't get any additional funding to help better those test scores. Politicians come up with all sorts of rules regarding the degrees teachers have to have to become teachers, making it harder to become one and more costly.

Education is still in the stone age in this country. Technology, science, and the world in general change at a very rapid pace and schools are not able to keep up. I graduated college fairly recently and I feel like I got riped off (I'm sure I will have more about this in future posts). It's not the school's fault, or the professors I had fault. I blame the system. I blame the politicians who raised our tuition every year by cutting our funding every single year I was in college. I blame the system that didn't give the school enough money to buy enough equipment. I blame the system that has a backwards idea of what a college eduction should be.

I think that the classes that I did have that had to do with my chosen concentration were quite good. My problem is all the other classes I had to take, and the classes that didn't, but should have existed in my program area. A few of us in one of my classes even asked once about why there weren't more classes in our area of study; we were told the professors wanted a lot more classes to be offered, but the school didn't have the money for the teachers or the equipment. How bad is that when the teachers and the students both want more classes, but the school can't give it to them for budgetary reasons.

I'm out of school now, so why should I care about the quality of schools? I care because some time down the road someone in school right now is going to impact my life in the future. I care because someone who is in school 10 years from now is going to change the world. I care because it is in this country's best interest to have the best education system. I care because I am an American.

If you want to be selfish and do something that you are going to befit from, demand a better education system. It won't pay off right away but it will pay off, it will make your life better in some way.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

We need to fix the economy

Whether this President wants to admit it or not, the economy is in trouble. There are article swirling all over the net with titles like “Bush's Chernobyl Economy; hard times are on the way” and “Can Anyone Steer This Economy?” Just saying the economy is great doesn't make it so; the US has to find a way to better compete in a global market place.

The thing I have been advocating for a while is an over haul of our health care system and installing some sort of universal health care system. The whole universal health care system debate should not be whether it is a human right, but rather it should be that this is a huge economic issue. Health care is crippling this country in the world market.

From Business Week:
"Politicians and economists have mainly thought of health care as a cost that is dragging down competitiveness. Health-care spending is the main source of long-term federal, state, and local budget deficits, the prime gobbler of national savings, and one of the biggest tax distortions, in the form of the tax exemption for company-provided health insurance."
Health coverage for every American wouldn't help just those with out insurance. If every American were covered it would left a huge cost off the backs of American employers. It would effectively give more money schools (everybody says better education leads to a better economy) again by lifting a huge cost of the backs of schools.

I love the idea that Howard Dean has to give everyone under the age of 25 health care (even though it doesn't help me). That would be a huge step in the correct direction, even though The President would probably veto it. Another idea that has been kicked around is national emergency health care coverage, meaning that the national coverage would only kick in after medical costs reach a certain amount. Again I think that is a great idea, it would help ease the transition. Maybe each year the amount that it kicks in could lower a bit.

There are a lot of smart people in this country, some of them should be able to figure this out. Start brainstorming on how to get this ball rolling!

Here is the Business Week article called “Can Anyone Steer This Economy?”

Monday, November 13, 2006

Detroit News and the Auto Industry

Every once and a while, I have to question if the Detroit News is the print edition of Fox News. They are clearly very conservative and don't have a problem letting people know that.

In an article this Sunday titled “Michigan Democrats must protect autos,” the News states that with Democrats in control of Congress, Michigan's auto industry could be in danger. The article states that it is up to the Democratic representatives from Michigan to “rein in the ultraliberal Democrats who are beholden to environmentalists, unions and other special interest groups that promote their agendas without consideration of cost or common sense.” Is the Detroit News saying that Unions are bad? And if they are, they are saying in MICHIGAN?

“[Michigan Democrats will] have to work from the top. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has supported anti-automotive proposals at every opportunity. She has lobbied for plans that would force stricter fuel economy standards for her home state of California, and she's supported lawsuits by environmentalists that blame the automakers for contributing to environmental damage and global warming...Fortunately, at least for now, parties on all sides are promising to get along and set aside impractical legislation that could force the automakers -- and heavy manufacturers in general -- to adhere to unrealistic environmental or safety standards.”

Damn those Democrats trying to make a safe working environment. Damn them for trying to save the American people money by raising fuel economy standards. Damn them for looking to the future and trying to stop the globe from turning into an oven. What are these Democrats thinking?

Come on News get with the program here. Do you really think Democrats want to kill manufacturing in America? It seems to me that they are the ones fighting for fair trade agreements so all the manufacturing jobs don't get shipped over seas. It seams to me that they are the ones fighting for wages so the American people can afford to buy the things that they themselves manufacture.

Are you really saying that better fuel economy is a bad thing? I know I think it is. I love going to war for oil. I love not having enough money for other things because I have to spend it all on gas. And man-oh-man am I thankful that the oil companies are making record profits at my expense. I think it is great that everything is shipped now days because that means the cost of goods will go up when the cost of gas raises. Thank God someone isn't trying to raise fuel economy standards!

Yes it is true, Michigan's automakers need help (and I doubt they will get any from their meeting with Bush), but that is not to say they should be allowed to do whatever they want. What they need is to be able to better compete in the global economy. They need to be pushed to better themselves. They need huge help when it comes to health care costs.

Here is the article:

Friday, November 10, 2006

Now is our chance

Well, a couple of days have pasted since the election, the time for celebration is over. Now it's time to get to work. The Democrats in congress will have to fight an uphill battle for the next two years. They have to over come the distrust of public officials that has been brewing, partisan fighting that has taken place, and oh yeah, a President that will probably veto a good number of bills they pass.

Also a very important thing for The Democrats to remember when they start this new congress is that this election wasn't a huge win for them, but rather a big defeat for The Republicans. The Dems did not win by a landslide in the individual elections, most were very close. There was a large amount of the electorate that did not vote for us, but simply voted against them. When The Dems take over, they have to prove themselves, they have to show the people that it is ok to vote for a Democrat because he is a Democrat and not just because of what he is not. This is our chance to prove ourselves. We have to show that we are not going to go to the far left as The Republicans have warned, but instead we are going to try and make the government more in line with the American people.

If the Democrats truly want to have a Democrat win the White House in 2008, then they not only have to nominate the correct candidate, they have to prove that they know how to get things done. They have to put pressure on The President to figure out Iraq and get us out of there as soon as possible and without leaving the place a mess. They have to make strides to lower health care costs, they have to work to make the lives of every American better, not just the super rich.

I think right now most of the country wants what the Democrats have to offer. People want a better foreign policy, they want better and cheaper health care, they want an American economy that is more competitive globally; I don't think that is the problem. Right now however, The Democrats still have a bit of a P.R. Problem. They need to inform the public about what these issues really mean, not just what the right says they mean. Right now people still aren't sure what stem cell research is about. These people aren't stupid, far from it, it's just that nobody has ever told them what it really is; the only thing they hear are from the ultra right-wing talk show hosts spewing misinformation about it.

Right now The Democrats have a lot working against them, a lot of the States in the country are still red states. It is sometimes a stigma to be be a Democrat in certain areas. They have huge hurdles to over come in these areas, hurdles that have to be over come if they want to bring this country together and move forward. The next couple of years are going to be very important for the Democrats.

I know this is nothing new, but for some reason I still felt I had to write something on this subject.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Campaigning at the poling place

When I went to go vote today at about 4:30 there was quite a few people there, more than the last election. When we pulled into the parking lot however, there was a lady there handing out “right to life ballots.” When we walked in, an election official came in right after us. I over heard her tell the poll workers that there was a complaint about the women out there passing out those fliers, and while she was far enough away to be legal, the poll workers were told to keep an eye on her and that she could not tell people they were ballots. The woman handing out the fliers told the election official when she drove in (the woman must not have known she was an elections official) that she was with a non-partisan group. When the official was talking to the poll workers she told them that she did not consider the fliers she was handing out to be non-partisan (all the “suggestions” were for Republicans). Apparently someone went out to talk to her because by the time I was leaving the woman was leaving as well.

Cross-posted at Michigan Liberal.

By the way, so far we have gotten 3 different robo calls for DeVos today.

DeVos's robo calls

I just got a robo call from DeVos's daughter, asking for me to vote for her dad. It's a really bad robo call too. It sounded like the tape got played to many times or the computer file got corrupted because there were dropouts in it. I will be very happy when the robo calls finally stop.

Monday, November 06, 2006

More on Proposal 5

I gotta say I am a little surprised about people's reaction to Prop 5. Over at Michigan Liberal, matt lays out how he plans on voting on the ballot proposals, including voting down prop 5. In the commits section there are both people for the prop and against it. The part that surprises me, is that I thought funding schools is one of the things that liberals are all about. This has always been a mainstay of the Dems platform, which is why I am just a little confused why Dems would be against this proposal. The main goal of this proposal is to keep funding for school on par with inflation.

Granted this prop isn't the best ever drafted, it has it flaws (such as stating how it will be funded), but it is a huge step in the correct direction. Funding schools isn't just good for schools, it's good for the whole state!

Now don't get me wrong, everybody is entitled to their opinion. I find it very, VERY hard to believe that people would think that this could take funding away from emergency services. That just would not happen, and besides try getting elected after you cut funding for police and fire/rescue operations.

I dunno, this just seems like it is an odd post to be making in response to a post on a self proclaimed liberal site.

For full discloser, my mom is a teacher at an under-funded public school.

Cross posted at Michigan Liberal.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

More Robo calls

Yesterday it was Rush Limbaugh, today the GOP is calling bitching about Kerry! Give it up!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Rush Limbaugh robo call

Got a funny robo call today from Rush Limbaugh. HA! The call basically said the good old Republican line, “Liberals” are weak on terror. He states “Thank God the liberals aren't in control and only you can keep it that way.” What a tool!

I hope the Republicans keep spending their money on people who aren't going to vote for them!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Tim Walberg is feeling the heat.

Timmy Walberg is feeling the heat!! Haha, this is good news! So I guess the GOP is a little worried about Mr. Walberg where before they thought that it was a sure seat. It seems like the whole possible illegal campaign funds and volunteer coordinator beating his foster-son thing made the GOP do a double-take at Michigan's 7th district, and put Timmy boy on their “Final Push List” which targets 33 national seats across the country.

I also found an article saying the reason that Laura Bush's visit to Michigan in support of Mike Bouchard (BOOO, HISSS) was moved from Lansing to Battle creak because they wanted to give support to Walberg as well.

I think this is pretty funny.

By the way, we got a thing in the mail today saying vote for Tim Walberg, HA. I wish they would have sent more stuff here and waste their money on people who will NEVER vote for them. This is pretty funny to, they sent a mailer to my mom today saying vote Republican, the funny thing is my mom is a teacher (they had to know this because on the address thing it send her name and MEA by it which is the Teacher's union). Why would they think a teacher would vote Republican? Republicans are the ones that want to take all sorts of money away frm schools. I thought these Republican people are supposed to be great at digging out the people most likely to vote Republican and go after them. These guys aren't so smart.


I gotta say, I'm glad that the elections are just around the corner, and not just because we are going to kick out a lot of Republicans. I'm happy it's coming up because I'm getting tried of all of it. I am getting tried of all the attack ads, I am getting tried of the lies, the spin, all of it.

Elections aren't about trying to get elected any more, they are about trying to stop the other guy from being elected. That's not the way the system is supposed to work! Facts don't matter any more, only what you can make (Force) those facts to say for your cause. Spin is king.

Things can get so out of control these days. People start to spin the facts, that spin gets spun again, and once again that spin gets spun and finally instead of reporting on the facts, the spin gets reported on as fact. We have gotten so used to it that sometimes it is hard to tell fact from spin. They are able to make facts say anything, ANYTHING, they want to to say; even the exact opposite of what those facts mean.

Spin happens on both sides of the spectrum but one side seems to take it a little farther; guess which side I'm talking about. This side is deeply versed in the art of the spin. They even have a spin-master that is a chief adviser to The President. Someone that is advising The President is doing so with spun information, information that has been filtered, polished, and of course tailored to their agenda. Even if congress was trying to make informed oversight, and they aren't, they would be doing so with the pre-spun information that the administration is giving them.

It is one thing to spin, and quite another to lie. These people may start out with spin, but it gets spun so far that the truth gets trampled over again and again. Sometimes you even have to wonder if they realize that they are flat out lying, or if they have just gotten so lost in their web of spin that they forgot what the truth really was. Even when they are confronted with the truth, they don't recognize it any more since they have been living in their own world of mis-facts and spin.

Laws are getting passed on these mis-facts and spin as if it were truth, and that is beyond dangerous.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ann Coulter, is there jail time in her future?

I don't care if this is news, I don't care what it is; I just think it is great that Ann Coulter might go to jail. In case you haven't heard Ann is under investigation to see if see voted at the wrong precinct and could face up to 5 years in prison if found guilty.