Cynical Synapse

Sun, 31 Jan 2010

Michigan Politicians Don’t Make the Grade

Filed under: Budget, Detroit, Economy, Education, Government, Hypocrits, Life, Michigan, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 2:23 pm

Contrary messages

It’s no secret Detroit Public Schools have serious problems. In fact, they’re the worst in the country. It’s also not news the city of Detroit is in decay and has been for decades. Since moving to the metro area in the mid-80s, I’ve believed fixing education is the solution to Detroit’s problems. Now, according to the Detroit Free Press, Michigan is spiraling downward as well.

The Freep charts Michigan’s falling educational levels and prosperty. In 1970, Michigan ranked 32nd educationally and 13th in per capita income. Back then education was less important to income. It was also the height of manufacturing in Michigan. By 2007, Michigan’s education ranking dropped 3 places to 35th, but per capita income plummetted to 28th, a full 15 point drop. In fact, today the top 10 states in education are also the top 10 in per capita income. The message is clear and validates my perspective on solving Detroit’s problems.

3 stooges

With such clear evidence, I have to wonder why the 3 stooges in Lansing don’t seem to get it. In June 2009, the Republican-controled Michigan Senate proposed cutting Promise grants, which award up $4,000 to Michigan college students. Senate Majority so-called Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) is the first buffoon in the latest war on education. The next, State House Speaker Andy “Two-Faced” Dillon (D-Redford) agreed to the Promise cuts as part of rather one-sided deal to balance the 2010 state budget. Never mind that Dillon repeatedly said he wouldn’t agree to cutting the Promise grants. Many think Bishop and Dillon became best buds in the interests of their political ambitions.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) continues to call for restoring Promise grants. The third buffoon, she claimed she would veto budgets that came to her without funding for the Promise grants.

The triad of idiots

So the Republican-led State Senate cut Promise grants, effectively making it harder for Michigan students to get college degrees. And the Democratic-controlled State House and Governor were complicit and willing accomplices. Colleges are not the only educational institutions under attack, however. The State Senate cut per pupil funding by $165 for K-12 schools during the budget process and the House went along. Then Granholm slashed $52 million from the state’s richest districts. Another $127 per pupil cut by Granholm is on hold. That’s not a reprieve, though, and there are rumors more may be coming.

Now, I’m not a math whiz, but the way this adds up to me, Michigan’s politicians are against maintaining, let alone improving education. As a result, they want to continue to drive Michigan and its citizens to the bottom. Party affiliation has nothing to do with it. Throw them all out next election.

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Sat, 30 Jan 2010

Transportation in Michigan Kicked to the Curb

Filed under: Budget, Driving, Economy, Government, Life, Michigan, Politics, Railroads, Stimulus — cynicalsynapse @ 7:28 pm

Kicked to the curb

This has not been a good week for transportation in Michigan. Between the feds and the state, Michigan has lost a lot of traction on improving transportation. First, the US Department of Transportation only gave $40 million to Michigan, far less than the requested $993 million. Then the Michigan Transportation Commssion cut 243 road projects because the state doesn’t have the matching funds to get Federal money.

On the high speed rail initiative, Gov. Granholm (D) had signed an 8-state cooperation agreement to support the Midwest High Speed Rail Corridor, with Obama’s home town of Chicago as the hub. Granholm claimed the Stimulus money for high speed rail would create 7,000 permanent jobs and hundreds of temporary ones. How did she figure that? Whether trains from Detroit to Chicago go 79 mph or 110 mph, unless you add additional trips, there’s no change in permanent jobs. And even if you add another round trip trainset, how many jobs is that? 20? 50? Certainly not 7,000. I don’t understand.

High speed rail grants

But Granholm’s guesses on new jobs is all mute anyway. Obama’s Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, announced a Michigan’s share in high speed rail is a paltry $40 million. That money’s going to pay for new Amtrak stations in Troy and Dearborn, as well as renovations to the Battle Creek station. It’s far less than Michigan’s requested $993 million and hardly shows up on the radar screen in the overall $8 billion Stimulus bill high speed rail program. The only good news here? Illinois and Indiana got $204 million to upgrade the Detroit-Chicago corridor.

I’ve ridden the Detroit-Chicago (actually Pontiac-Chicago) line several times. I can verify the Indiana segment is a real problem with conflicts between freight and passenger rail, despite this being the great “Broadway”, an area of great competition between the New York Central and Pennsylvania railroads. But no track upgrades in Michigan, which is the bulk of the run, means no real high speed for this corridor any time soon. Once again, Michigan loses out.

Bad roads

Besides the bad news in high-speed rail, which also affects efforts on starting commuter rail in southeast Michigan, Michigan’s highways also got dissed this week. Since the Governor and State Senate and Representatives decided to apply Stimulus money to the general fund, there’s none left for road projects. Rather than admit this and do the right thing, many are claiming the gas tax isn’t adequate to meet Michigan’s needs. Thus, they’re calling for tax increases. The net effect of canceling the 243 road projects is the loss of hundreds of millions of Federal funds. Penny-wise and dollar foolish.

I won’t argue about whether roads are adequately funded or not, but I will tell you there’s no need to increase the gas tax. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Many use the current economic climate to argue for more taxes, but Michigan’s tax system is faring very well compared to most others. As a result, the imbalance must be on the spending side of the equation, since no once questions the state has a definite problem with income and expenses. While there are certain government services I expect to receive as part of my taxes, I expect them to be provided efficiently and prioritized over non-essential services, such as legislative staffs or state bureaucracy. Unfortunately, there seems to be a growing interest in raising gas taxes to pay for roads when the real issue is deciding on priorities for spending. Michigan is not revenue deficient; rather, it’s over spending.

Politicians usually like to slash public safety for their desired effect, but this week transportation is on the chopping block. Has anyone figured out slow trains and lousy roads will negatively impact trade in and through Michigan?

Mon, 25 Jan 2010

Collapse of the Democratic Onslaught

Filed under: Congress, Humor, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 7:34 pm

There are dozens of parodies of the scene from the German movie Downfall about Hitler’s last 10 days in the bunker below the Reichs Chancellery. This one, however, has to come pretty close to summing up how the Democrats and Pres. Obama feel after Republican Scott Brown’s election to finish Sen. Ted Kennedy’s (D-MA) term.

Pundits are busy huffing and puffing about the meaning of Brown’s victory in staunchly Democratic Massachusetts. It seems to me the Democrats have been mad with power. Witness Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid’s handling of the healthcare bill. But polls suggest the people are tired of being ignored by their elected representatives. Incumbents of either party should fear if they’ve failed to faithfully represent the will of their constituents. Otherwise, come November, they face the same fate as those in the video.

HT: Dvorak Uncensored

Thu, 07 Jan 2010

Michigan Legislators Not Earning Their Pay

Filed under: Government, Michigan, Politics, Take action — cynicalsynapse @ 6:12 am

Michigan legislators during budget negotiations

State legislators in Michigan have the second highest pay in the country. Who’s highest? California, probably the only state with a worse budget problem. So, this is a well-paid gig and the only thing the legislature must do is pass a budget.

Are they any good at the one thing they have to do? Well, actually, no! The Democratic-controlled State House took the summer off in 2009. The fiscal year 2010 budget is still not finalized, with some departments working under so-called continuation budgets. In fact, Michigan experienced a less-publicized, shorter duration government shutdown than 2007. The state shut down for 4 hours in 2007 over budget issues

.

Ok, so they’re not too good at their one key responsiblity. How about all the other stuff they do? Most might be pretty good, but 7 Michigan legislators missed 100 or more roll calls. I’m not sure about your workplace, but if I missed 15% or more of the time I was supposed to be working, I think I’d be out of a job. Remember, this is the second highest paid state legislature in the country. Never mind all their perqs and benefits.

Speaker Andy Dillon and Majority Leader Mike Bishop

How’s it all break down? Let’s look at the top guys first. In the Senate, Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) missed not a single roll call. On the other hand, House Speaker Andy Dillon (D-Redford) missed 91 roll call votes, or 13.8%. Not a very impressive record for a Governor-wannabe. Just sayin.

The only 2 in the Senate to miss more than 100 votes were Martha Scott (D) and Valde Garcia (R). Scott missed 141 roll call votes, or 19.7%. Garcia, however, missed an astounding 304 votes, equalling 42.4% of the roll calls. He was missing from nearly half the votes but drew full salary! What’s up with that?

Michigan legislature

In the Michigan House, every one who missed more than 100 votes was a Democrat. Doug Bennett leads the pack, having missed 311 of 682, or 45.6%, of roll call votes, besting even Garcia’s poor record. Keeping company with him were Mike Simpson, absent from 28.4% of the votes, Judy Nerat who missed 25.2%, George Cushinberry, who didn’t vote in 16.2% of roll calls, and Bettie Scott, who missed 100 roll call votes (14.7%).

With the Mole’s (John Cherry’s) withdrawel from the Governor’s race, there’s been speculation about who might be the next best Democratic candiate. Speaker Dillon’s had a foot in the ring since early fall, making me wonder if he didn’t sell his soul on the budget deal for the gubernatorial campaign. Voters should bear in mind, the so-called leader of the State House was just under my artificial threshold of 100 missed votes. Dillon missed 91 roll calls in the House; that’s 13.3%. What workplace can you think of where missing a day every 2 weeks is acceptable?

Two other potential Democratic contenders, Sen. Hansen Clarke and Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith, missed 2.9% and 2% of the roll calls. From eye-balling the statistics, that’s probably within the average. In the interests of fair play, Republican State Sen. Tom George, another guvernatorial hopeful, missed 3.6% of roll call votes.

If 43 Michigan lawmakers can be present for every vote, why can’t they all? Since stuff happens, some will miss some votes, but why did anyone miss more than a percent or two? You had best not re-elect anyone to any office who missed more than 15 roll calls because they’re just stealing time and money from you. We cannot allow these people to continue to subjugate us, fail to represent us, and abdicate the responsibilities of the office we’ve entrusted to them.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010

Cherry Opens Eyes, Bows Out of Governor’s Race

Filed under: Government, Michigan, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 6:30 am

Lt. Gov. John Cherry

Lt. Gov. John Cherry (D) announced he was not running for Michigan governor in the 2010 election. Despite union support, he cited fundraising issues as his reason.

Speculation is Cherry was seen as too close to Gov. Granholm’s administration and the woes Michigan has seen under her tenure. The state has had the highest unemployment rate for about 4 years. Then Granholm set her heir apparent up for failure by putting Cherry in charge of reforming Michigan government. In a no-win situation, Cherry angered state employees and failed to satisfy anyone else. The initiative essentially withered on the vine.

Dough Rothwell, Sen. Mike Bishop, Rep. Andy Dillon

Cherry has shown me absolutely nothing. I call him the Mole since I’ve never seen him with his eyes open. But, if this is a set-up for House Speaker Andy Dillon (D-Redford), as theblogprof suggests, then I’m even more revolted. Dillon is an even bigger opportunist than my least favorite Republican candidates, Mike Cox, current Attorney General, and Mike Bouchard, Oakland County Sheriff.

Speaker Dillon sold his soul to Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rocherster) in the recent Michigan 2010 budget fiasco, essentially agreeing to Republican Cuts to education and revenue sharing. To many, this wasn’t a well-concealed mutually beneficial deal, however. There has been anticipation of Dillon announcing a run for Governor; Bishop has already declared his candidacy for Attorney General.

Tue, 05 Jan 2010

Granholm’s New Year’s Resolution

Filed under: Government, Humor, Michigan, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 5:24 am
Gov. Granholm's New Year's resolution

The Freep‘s first cartoon contest of 2010. The point? Suggest what belongs in the bubble above Gov. Granholm.

Personally, I think it’s perfect just the way it is. This is her last year in office. There’s no reason to expect Granholm to be any more effective in 2010 than she was last year. She was virtually absent from the budget debate, except to blamethrow, exhibiting a total lack of leadership.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010

Obama’s First Year Anti-Terrorism Record Sucks

US embassy in Yemen

Starting the New Year—and new decade—off with the wrong message, the US closed it’s embassy in Yemen in the face of threats from al-Qaida in the Arabian Penninsula. Granted, the embassy in Osama Bin Laden’s ancestral homeland has been attacked before and al-Qaida threats shouldn’t be dismissed. But enhancing security, increasing raids on suspected al-Qaida cells, and closer work with Yemeni authorities seems better than throwing up your hands and going home. Evacuating non-essential staff seems prudent, but just shutting down is giving in to the jihadists. To me it smells like taking the safe option to avoid another potential terrorist success. Well, no loss of life here, but it’s a terrorist success nonetheless. And it knocks a leg out from under the Yemenis in their antiterrorist efforts.

Pres. Obama’s expert on homeland security and counterterrorism, Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan appeared on Fox News Sunday on Jan. 3 and spoke with Chris Wallace. Discussing Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s attempt to blow up NW flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day, Brennan said:

There was no single piece of intelligence—a smoking gun, if you will—that said that Mr. Abdulmutallab was going to carry out this attack against that aircraft.

What we had, looking back at it now, were a number of streams of information.

NW 253 sequence

Brennan added “It’s much different than prior to 9/11,” meaning agencies were territorial and weren’t willing to share information. While that may be the case, the result is the same from my perspective. Agencies simply didn’t share information and, as Obama himself said:

There were bits of information available within the intelligence community that could have—and should have—been pieced together.

Had this critical information been shared, it could have been compiled with other intelligence, and a fuller, clearer picture of the suspect would have emerged. The warning signs would have triggered red flags, and the suspect would have never been allowed to board that plane for America.

Thomas Kean, former head of the 9/11 Commission, told CNN that Abdulmutallab’s father going to the authorities with his concerns should have been smoking gun enough. “We had an administration that’s not focused as it should be on terrorism,” Kean said. Noting health care reform and climate change, Kean added, “They weren’t giving this enough attention. It’s understandable but unacceptable.”

Undie-bomber

I’ve already discussed a number of missed red flags in the Undie-bomber’s case. The bigger issue, which Kean spoke to, is Pres. Obama doesn’t understand the nature of terrorist threat. Charles Krauthammer makes a very good case on this in his Detroit News column. While Obama speaks of addressing the rule of law, which is admirable, there are some disconnects.

Many, including some senior politicians, have called for Abdulmutallab to be declared an enemy combatant and subjected to military interrogation. The Obama Administration did away with “enemy combatants” in March 2009. In fact, the administration changed a lot of terms in the interests of political correctness. Krauthammer cites these changes to the lexicon as responsible for “linguistic—and logical—oddities that littered Obama’s public pronouncements following the Christmas Day attack.” Thus, the terrorist is a suspect. Now he’s all lawyered up and awaiting charges and trial in the comforts of Milan Federal Prison. Krauthammer’s perspective:

This is all quite mad even in Obama’s terms. He sends 30,000 troops to fight terrorism overseas, yet if any terrorists come to attack us here, they are magically transformed from enemy into defendant.

The logic is perverse. If we find Abdulmutallab in an al-Qaida training camp in Yemen, where he is merely preparing for an attack, we snuff him out with a Predator — no judge, no jury, no qualms. But if we catch him in the United States in the very act of mass murder, he instantly acquires protection not just from execution by drone but even from interrogation.

Other lexiconic changes that permitted the Administration’s distraction from its core responsibilities—defense of the Constitution, the nation, and its people—include the end of the Global War on Terror. In its place, we have the more pubic relations friendly term of Overseas Contingency Operations. Perhaps that’s another reason why Abdulmutallab isn’t an enemy combatant—he committed his jihadist attempt to join the virgins in US airspace. He wasn’t trying to perpetrate a terrorist act; rather, he was attempting to induce a man-made disaster, according to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s way of thinking. Three Mile Island was a man-made disaster. Blowing up a plane is terrorism. And Obama’s repeated referred to him as a suspect and an extremist. He’s a jihadist, pure and simple.

Obama honors Fort Hood fallen

You may think it’s just politics, and it’s probably not surprising, but former Vice President Dick Cheney said “Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war” with terrorists. The problem is, Obama’s reactions to two other jihadist attacks on US soil during 2009 bear this view out and I’ve said so before.

The military tradition of placing a Soldier’s empty boots with his rifle muzzle in the ground and helmet on the rifle butt is a means of honoring comrades who have fallen in battle. There were 12 sets of these for Pres. Obama to see when he paid tribute to the 13 fallen. Still, he sought to negate, or at least minimize the jihadist nature of MAJ Hasan’s attack at Fort Hood. Although thousands of Muslims serve honorably in the US military, willing to give their lives in defense of their country, family, freedoms, and way of life, MAJ Nadal Malik Hasan is not one of them. Hasan’s case is another with missed red flags. He received poor evaluation reports, was known to speak out against the Global War on Terror Overseas Contingency Operations, frequented Islamist websites, was pen-pals with a radical Imam in Yemin, and made no secret about not wanting to deploy to Iraq before the end of the year. Hasan’s job? He was an Army psychiatrist whose duty was to help Soldiers get over Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), yet he berated some, if not all of them.

Obama’s initial response to the Fort Hood tragedy? He made a statement during a press conference at the Department of the Interior. Obama started with a shout out and schmoozed his cronies. He doesn’t get to Fort Hood until 2:28. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up! Video at the end of this post.

I want to thank my Cabinet members and senior administration officials who participated today. I hear that Dr. Joe Medicine Crow (ph) was around, and so I want to give a shout out to that Congressional Medal of Honor winner. It’s good to see you.

I might add Texas Gov. Rick Perry visited survivors that evening. Former President George W. and Laura Bush spent time with the victims the following day. Obama made it to Fort Hood Nov. 10th, 4 days after the Republican leaders.

West Little Rock recruiting station

Earlier this year, another domestic jihadist killed Army PFC William Long, 23, and wounded Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula, 18. The two were shot outside an Army-Navy recruiting station in West Little Rock, AR, by a lone gunman. The shooter? Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, 24, who had changed his name from Carlos Leon Bledsoe after converting to the Muslim faith. He, too, was under FBI investigation, having told others he was going to kill as many Army personnel as he could. Sadly, Obama didn’t comment on the West Little Rock attack for two days. In his statement, the President expressed his deep sadness, condolences, and wishes for a speedy recovery following the “senseless act.” What Obama is missing is a committed jihadist doesn’t see killing Soldiers as senseless.

So, to summarize. There were 3 terrorist incidents committed by Islamists on or over US territory in 2009. In all 3 cases, the jihadists were know to authorities as having extremist views. The victims include 13 military personnel killed in the Global War on Terror outside the designated combat zones. Will their families get the benefits they would be entitled to if they had died in Iraq or Afghanistan? They certainly deserve them. There was one civilian victim at Fort Hood. NW flight 253 nearly added 290 (11 crew and 279 passengers) to the death toll, not counting any potential carnage on the ground. All 3 incidents had red flags and the attention of the authorities. Yet, each time, authorities failed to react. And, in the Flight 253 case, Obama’s top counterterrorism/homeland security appointees have made buffoons out of themselves. Napolitano’s “the system worked” quote will go down in history and Brennan’s “no smoking gun” only makes sense because he caveats it with “no single piece of intelligence.”

The simple truth is the system failed miserably in all 3 cases. And, since none of them is related at all to “Overseas Contingency Operations” (except the Fort Hood Soldiers getting ready to deploy), we are still very much engaged in the Global War on Terror. Don’t get me started on the 90 days it took the Ditherer=in-Chief to decide if he was going to support his Commander on the ground. It’s time to fulfill that Oath you took.

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The Oath military personnel take upon enlistment or commissioning includes defending the Constitution “against all enemies, foreign or domestic.” That’s certainly implied by the Constitution for the Commander-in-Chief.

HT: theblogprof


Sun, 03 Jan 2010

What Happened to Good Old-Fashioned Bowl Games?

Filed under: Bailout, Business, Detroit, Greed, Life, Rants, Sports — cynicalsynapse @ 11:23 am

Rose Bowl stadium

For football fans—and their widows—we’re in the midst of college bowl season. Maybe there are too many bowl games. Just as most major league ball stadia have corporate sponsorship under naming rights agreements, so, too, do most of the bowl games. I think this commercialization of our entertainment is a travesty. It highlights our society’s shallowness and could well be one of the reasons those in less fortunate quarters of the world hate the US. But I digress

I’m not a big football fan, nor do I play one on TV. But I am a bit of a traditionalist. I liked the Rose Bowl being played on New Year’s Day. We don’t have that anymore—now it’s the Rose Bowl Game by Citi. And is Citi paying for those naming rights with taxpayer dollars (from the bailout)?

My other issue is if Citi is presenting the Rose Bowl, why do I have to buy tickets? If I have to buy tickets, it’s paid for by me (and everyone else and the broadcasters). To add insult to injury, this year’s game was the 96th Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi. Um, the current corporate sponsor did not present all the previous games, so stop pretending like you did. For the record, I’m not more likely to do business with Citi because they “present” the Rose Bowl nor am I any more likely to attend the game.

Here’s a list of former bowl games that are now under the corporate spell. A spell, by the way, those corporations write off on their taxes just so we have to say longer names for games we’re interested in. Those in bold have no single blatant corporate sponsors in their names or on their web sites. I’m not opposed to sponsors—that’s just advertising. But don’t make it part of the name. Only 5 out of 34 (15%) fit that bill.

Bowl game logos

  • December 19th games
    • St. Petersburg Bowl Presented by Beef ‘O’ Brady’s
    • New Mexico Bowl IV—no blatant single corporate sponsor
  • December 20th game: R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
  • December 22nd game: MAACO Bowl Las Vegas
  • December 23rd game: San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
  • December 24th game: Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
  • December 26th games
    • Little Ceasars Pizza Bowl (formerly the Motor City Bowl Presented by GM, Ford, and Union Carpenters and Millwrights)
    • Meinike Car Care Bowl
    • Emerald Bowl—no blatant single corporate sponsor
  • December 27th game: Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl (Franklin American Mortgage Company Music City Bowl in 2010)
  • December 28th game: Advocare V100 Independence Bowl
  • December 29th games
    • Champs Sports Bowl—no blatant single corporate sponsor
    • EagleBank Bowl
  • December 30th games
    • Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl—any irony in a truck stop chain being associated with humanitarian?
    • Pacific Life Holiday Bowl
  • December 31st games
    • Texas Bowl—no blatant single corporate sponsor
    • Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
    • Insight Bowl
    • Brut Sun Bowl
    • Chick-fil-A Bowl (formerly the Peach Bowl)
  • January 1st games
    • 96th Rose Bowl Game Presented by Citi
    • 75th Anniversary Allstate Sugar Bowl
    • Outback Bowl
    • Konica Minolta Gator Bowl
    • Capital One Bowl
  • January 2nd games
    • PapaJohns.com Bowl
    • Valero Alamo Bowl
    • AT&T Cotton Bowl
    • 51st AutoZone Liberty Bowl
    • International Bowl—no blatant single corporate sponsor
  • January 4th game: 39th Annual Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
  • January 5th game: FedEx Orange Bowl
  • January 6th game: GMAC Bowl—no wonder they got into trouble; the countdown to kickoff says 367 days, but I figure it’s 3 days
  • January 7th game: BCS Championship Bowl in association with Fox Sports

pizza bowl

As if the bankruptcy of two of the Big 3 domestic automakers wasn’t bad enough, Detroit suffers another blow. The Motor City Bowl is now a pizza bowl. Nothing against Little Ceasars, but couldn’t they have gone with the Motor City Bowl Presented by Little Ceasars? Sheesh!

Sat, 02 Jan 2010

Word Czars Unfriend 15 Words and Phrases

Filed under: Bailout, Economy, Government, Humor, Language, Life, People, Politics, President, Society — cynicalsynapse @ 2:42 pm

Unfriend T-shirt

Lake Superior State University, located in Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan’s upper penninsula, released its 35th annual list of banished words. The list started during a New Year’s Eve party in 1975. Since then it has been an annual effort to banish words and phrases from the Queen’s English for misuse, overuse, and general uselessness.

Said a word banishment spokesperson, “the list this year is a ‘teachable moment’ conducted free of ‘tweets. In these economic times’, purging our language of ‘toxic assets’ is a ‘stimulus’ effort that’s ‘too big to fail’.”

Just go away

The List of Banished Words is developed from reader submissions. Here are the 2010 banished words and phrases.

  • Shovel-ready—a project fully designed but waiting for work to begin
  • Transparent/transparency—easily understood and fully disclosed
  • Czar—a specialized, high authority appointment
  • Tweet—sending a message on Twitter; also banned are all tweet’s variations, such as tweetaholic, retweet, twitterhea, twitterature, and twittersphere
  • App—as in applets for the iPhone
  • Sexting—sending sexually explicit pictures and text messages by cell phone
  • Friend as a verb—adding someone to your network on social media sites; also banned are the related friending, unfriend, and unfriending
  • Teachable moment—how about just plain lesson?
  • In these economic times…—aren’t all times economic?
  • Stimulus—it’s just plain overused and has no clear boundaries (or effect, that I can see)
  • Toxic assets—a euphemism for bad investments and debt
  • Too big to fail—no one knows if anything’s too big to fail because we’ve never seen it happen
  • Bromance—a close relationship between two straight males
  • Chillaxin’—a combination chilling and relaxing; a multi-year nominee, it finally wore out its welcome
  • Obama-prefix or roots—such as Obamanomics, Obamanation, Obamafication, Obamacare, Obamalicious, and Obamaland; although it got no nominations, the Word Banishment Committee decided Obamanough already

HT: theblogprof

Fri, 01 Jan 2010

Michigan’s Top Embarassments of 2009

Michigan welcome sign

Michigan is a beautiful state, with lots of great people, and countless things to do. We’ve had our fair share of scandals and otherwise embarassing momements, however. It seems like 2009 had more than previous years in recent memory.

The Rossman Group, a Lansing public relations firm, came up with their list of Michigan’s Top Ten Public Relations Blunders for 2009. I don’t necessarily agree with their ranking. Ostensibly, they developed their list as a result of feedback solicited on Twitter.

Lots of people do top ten lists at the end of the year. Another popular method of summing up a year is the year-in-review format. So here is the Cynical Synapse 2009 Year in Review.

Michael Phelps with bong

January. Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps was pictured smoking marijuana. Not surprisingly, the winner of 14 gold medals lost his lucrative spokesman gig with Battle Creek-based cereal maker Kellogg. On top of that, the former University of Michigan swimming sensation was also suspended from competition.

Pete Hoekstra

February. US Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), who scored 9th on Rossman’s list, actually has a couple of faux pas this year. Hoesktra started by twittering his Iraq itinerary during a Congressional delegation visit there. How does the wannabe-governor square that with his remarks in a 2006 LA Times op-ed?

We are a nation at war. Unauthorized disclosures of classified information only help terrorists and our enemies—and put American lives at risk.

In November, Hoesktra revealed national security information in his haste to criticize the Obama administration for missing the red flags in MAJ Nidal M. Hasan’s behavior. Back on his high horse in December, he blasted the administration for not “connecting the dots” and failing to properly screen Abdulmatallob. Perhaps Hoekstra’s forgotten he voted against TSA funding, including explosives screeners. Republican Sen. Jim DeMint (SC) also has a hold on confirmation of a new chief for the Transportation Security Administration.

Don’t misunderstand. There were three terrorist acts committed on US territory by radical Muslims in 2009. Each case involves connections to Yemen, presumably al-Qaida in the Arabian Penninsula, and each included suspicions by authorities. The MAJ Hasan and Abdulmatallab cases are fresh in mind. The other was the June slaying of a young Soldier at a US Army Recruiting Station in West Little Rock, AR.

Barbara-Rose Collins in Detroit City Council

March. Next up is Detroit City Council member Barbara-Rose Collins and her rendition of “Onward Christian Sodiers” in session. How bizarre is that?

In the same month, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing was accused of inflating his educational degrees.

Dealerships closing

April. The Chrysler Group slashed dealerships in a radical effort to cut costs. General Motors similary sought to eliminate dealerships. While I understand the concept of wanting dealerships to be profitable, I’m confused about how the number of dealerships affects the automakers.

Watson's home

May. Detroit Council Member Joann Watson paid only $68 in property taxes for years. Her neighbors paid between $2,000 and $6,500, but that didn’t stop Watson from evading her tax liabilities. She thought her “reduced” tax rate was due to her imagined tornado damage, or something.

Monica Conyers

June. Detroit Council Member Monica Conyers is indicted on bribery charges for the Synagro sludge contract with Detroit. Conyers pleaded guilty, resigned from Council, and is still pending sentencing.

Sam Riddle

July. Former Monica Conyers aide Sam Riddle was indicted for bribery in the same Synagro fiasco that did his former boss in. He was also charged, along with Mary Waters, with taking bribes from a Southfield jewelry store. That’s the same Mary Waters Riddle pointed a gun at after she caught him with another woman. Riddle has been in trouble with the courts for his updates about the case on Twitter.

Rich Rodriguez press conference

August. Before the start of the season, several University of Michigan football players alleged breaking NCAA rules by being required to practice more than allowed. At the press conference denying the allegations, head coach Rich Rodriguez appeared to tear up. The team finished the season with a record of 5-7 overall and a bottom-of-the-conference 1-7 in the Big 10. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) investigation into the allegations is still on-going.

September. During the Republican leadership conference on Mackinac Island, the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance (MTA) sponsored a debate with Republican gubernatorial candidates. At first, the MTA invited all candidates, then uninvited State Sen. Tom George. They said the problem was limited air time on the radio station that agreed to broadcast the debate. After complaints, the MTA re-invited George to the debate.

Kwame Kilpatrick

October. Former Detroit mayor and felon Kwame Kilpatrick sued his lawyer, Mike Stefani over the text messages that brought about the mayor’s downfall and perjury conviction. Even after serving his sentence and moving to Texas, Kilpatrick continues to embarass the Motor City.

Tina Houghton

November. As proof that Detroit is not the only place with law-breaking politicians, Lansing’s councilperson-elect Tina Houghton owes $3,300 in back taxes but signed an affidavit saying she didn’t owe the city anything. She signed the affidavit in May, when she became a candidate for council. At the time, she didn’t owe the taxes, but she later didn’t pay her summer property taxes. And she didn’t fess up to the electorate during the campaign, either. Shades of JoAnn Watson. There’s hope and change for you.

Another Republican gubernatorial candidate is in trouble. Besides Hoekstra exposing intelligence, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox is backpedalling on the 2003 Manoogian Manson party investigation, which is tied to the Tamara Green murder investigation. Cox was unable to substantiate allegations of former Detroit mayor Kilpatrick’s legendary party at the mayor’s residence during which his wife, Carlita, is said to have hit Green, a stripper, for what she was doing with Kwame. With absolutely no one coming forth to substantiate the party, or provide details into Green’s murder, I’m having a hard time believing the legend is true, personally. That doesn’t change the fact it’s causing political problems for Cox even though Kilpatrick was a Democrat.

Nearly empty Ford Field

The biggest embarassment of November is the Detroit Lions, who saw their lowest attendance against St. Louis, with 40,857 at Ford Field. That’s only slightly worse than the 40,876 who attended the Lions game against DC in September. For the season, Lions attendance ranks 31st out of 32 teams. With a current season record of 2-13, don’t expect this to improve for Sunday’s game against the Bulls. Needless to say, there were a lot of blacked out home gomes.

Kilpatrick testifying

December. Kwame Kilpatrick returned to the D for a restitution hearing. Still not done dissing the Motor City, Kilpatrick unilaterally cut his restitution payments in June when his employer, Covisint, stopped advancing his pay. But wait, there’s more below the surface, and it came out during Kilpatrick’s restitution hearings.

And then there’s Hoekstra, again, blaming Obama for the al-Qaida attack over Detroit. Does this two-faced, non-expert, twittering twat not realize how idiotic he is?

For 2010: Let’s hope it’s a lot better than 2009. Happy New Year!

Update:

02 Jan 2010

Because these guys span the entire year, with certain high points, they didn’t make our year in review. But if I was going to do a top ten style list, they’d be right at the top for their buffoonery and the magnitude of their effects on Michigan.

Dillon and Granholm

Special Mention. Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) has been virtually AWOL (away without leave) during 2009. Sure, she’s been physically present and huffed and puffed, with a little blamethrowing, but nothing of substance. In short, Granholm has exhibited a glaring lack of leadership, especially during the budget debates. In fact, her failure to be involved makes me think Pres. Obama must have turned her down for some big Washington job. I think she’s been bummed out all year.

Working hard not to be shown up by Granholm is State House Speaker Andy Dillon (D-Redford). Despite not having the fiscal year 2010 budget settled, Dillon gave the House most of the summer off. When they finally came back to work, Dillon acted more like a Republican. First, he called Granholm’s September budget proposal showboating. Then he virtually agreed with every cut in the Republican-led Senate’s budget bills. Even then, some departments are still operating on “bridging” budgets rather than actual appropriations bills. Since constituents were against Dillon’s deal, there’s speculation the real deal has to do with 2010 elections. Dillon is considering a run for governor—a tragic error for Michigan if you ask me—and Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) has announced his candidacy for state Attorney General.

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