RSVP with regrets.

I’m missing the TEDxDetroit event as we speak. I came down to the wire on my reservation before finally taking a look at my calendar and saying, eh, not this year. Last year’s event was a mixed bag, to be expected in a daylong conference, but by the end, I grew tired of marketers with jokey, goofy websites that describe themselves as “networking ninjas,” not to mention many conceptual artists and anyone with “incubator” or “empower” on their resume.

Last year’s event ran the gamut from Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. to some woman who, as near as I could tell, was a presenter because she runs an aerobics studio that uses Bollywood film-score music as the soundtrack. When she led the stage in a group dance to “Jai Ho,” I checked my watch, noted the lovely day in progress outside, and left.

I wish the conference well. Might try to watch it on the live stream.

I see Fort Wayne had a TED this year. Glancing at the speakers list, looks like a lot of the same phenomenon. Well, Nathan Myhrvold has only so many dates on his calendar.

Today is the last ridonkulous day of my week. If I can motor through it, tomorrow should be an improvement, and Friday a downright coast. We’ll see. In the meantime, a little bloggage:

In today’s Daily Snicker, a headline that would go a long way toward making me forgive the Free Press for Mitch Albom.

David Letterman’s Top 10 Chris Christie fat jokes. Eh, not funny enough.

I’m pleased to report that only one person in my Facebook network copied and pasted THAT STUPID ALL-CAPS THING ABOUT FACEBOOK CHARGING. (Favorite line: IT’S TRUE THIS WAS ON THE NEWS.) I would only like to point out that Facebook already charges. And they’re the ones getting the better end of the deal.

A final word: Amazon just sent me another gift card, my monthly skim from you kind people, shopping through the Kickback Lounge. It’s never a lot of money — $38.82 this month — but it’s always enough to remind me how lucky I am to have such great readers. Of course the money is re-spent with Amazon, which gives me cool things to read and talk about here, contributing to a loop of wonderfulness. Thanks to all of you who take the time to do so.

Posted at 8:57 am in Current events, Detroit life |

58 responses to “RSVP with regrets.”

  1. brian stouder said on September 28, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Facebook, blech

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  2. coozledad said on September 28, 2011 at 10:00 am

    I like this version of Rick Perry better. He’s like a guy who spent a little too much time with Gram Parsons at Joshua Tree.

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  3. Judybusy said on September 28, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Cooz, that was brilliant. Shared. On Facebook.

    People still find fat jokes funny, huh? Tacky.

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  4. Connie said on September 28, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Caliban/Pros and others. Please no librarian stereotypes. Please.

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  5. Kim said on September 28, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Cooz, that’s good. I’d like to be the person with that kind of time to devote to such amusements. Cheesecake. Tamale. See ya.

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  6. Julie Robinson said on September 28, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Glad to help in a very small way.

    It’s no TED, but there will be a Maker Faire in the fort this weekend. My sister-in-law has been helping the organizers and she got us intrigued enough to sign up for a volunteer shift. My hubby has notebooks full of invention ideas so it may be hard to tear him away.

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  7. Dexter said on September 28, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Letterman 2,4, and 5 numbered fat jokes were funny, but the rest were lame.

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  8. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 28, 2011 at 11:10 am

    I love being in a loop of wonderfulness. It’s kind of like Black Elk’s sacred hoop.

    Julie, I wish we had a Maker Faire near here; I’d love to get a column out of the experience. What I’ve heard reminds me of the spirituality(ies) glancingly described in the world of Robert Silverberg’s “Shadrach in the Furnace,” which is a greatly underappreciated piece of speculative fiction.

    And may I note, from yesterday, being worried about something is not the same as thinking it can’t be tried. And I don’t, in any way, shape or form, want a wholly non-union world, let alone Ohio. I do think the “SB 5 is the end of collective bargaining” statements are untrue, and I think you can support having public employee unions while still affirming SB 5. Many, many union employees are respected, in education & public service, but there’s still a strong reaction out among the populace that is getting weary with hearing that property tax increases are necessary. Unions, especially public employee and teachers’ unions, are putting themselves in that unenviable spot, and property owners are pushing back hard.

    Obviously, one solution is to get Ohio off of its reliance on property taxes, but that would take a State Supreme Court deci . . . what? It happened already? Well, it might need to be reaffirmed as . . . huh? Five times? Oh.

    As with the Reid Senate refusing to either submit a budget (pushing three years now) or schedule even their own President’s tie-me-to-these-railroad-tracks Jobs Bill, the problem is that the legislative bodies are well-nigh hopeless, federal or Ohio (you may speak for your own states). I blame gerrymandering more than 24-hour-cable; we’ve had weird districts since Elbridge Gerry himself, but only recently did we have district maps drawn with block-by-block computer aided design and census data out the proverbial wazoo. Our incumbent protection program is twice as effective as the witness protection program, and three times less known.

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  9. Linda said on September 28, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Sorry, JTMMO, you are just wrong here. In SB5, binding arbitration would be done away with, and replaced by a cumbersome contraption. If both sides don’t agree to the cumbersome thing, the employer can unilaterally impose a contract. Sorry, but what you will eventually get out of that is a non-union world. Who wants to pay dues to an organization that will get rolled every time? And since when are unions the sole cause of high property taxes? Before our union came into existance, we had a well-financed library…and librarians who qualified for food stamps. Kasich would like to take us back to that world.

    Oh, and for gerrymandering–Kasich is pulling out all the stops. Republicans have sliced up districts so that #9 will be partly in Toledo, partly in Cleveland, and all points between. And…the Repubs have put a rider in to make sure THAT cannot be repealed by public vote, as SB5 is likely to be. Their belief in democracy is touching.

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  10. Suzanne said on September 28, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Funny with all this talk of unions/non-unions that Diane Rehm is having a discussion on Sinclair’s “The Jungle”.

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  11. Sue said on September 28, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    MMJeff, what’s going on with Linda is also going on in WI, just a slightly different road to get there.
    There is no way what happened in WI just suddenly came about when the Republican stars aligned in January. It was very carefully thought out, covered all the bases and was too similar with what other Republican states were putting into place. It effectively killed the unions [edit: public employee unions] in their current form although I will be interested to see how useful the non-certified versions are.
    Similar things are happening with women’s reproductive rights (no, it’s not just abortion folks, start stockpiling your birth control) and voter suppression bills. State by state circumvention.
    After watching this for awhile I believe one of the un-noticed issues with Obama’s presidential hopes is that liberal/Dem activists have figured out what the Republicans have known for at least 15 years – getting what you want at the state level has the same and sometime a better affect than working to change things federally. Lots of energetic people will be taking their fight to a more local level and when you’re doing that you’re not going to be manning the phone banks and going door to door for a president whose reaction to Wisconsin and Ohio last winter was a mild comment about how he’s busy with his own stuff.
    Right now, the big fights (for just about everything) are at the state level.

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  12. coozledad said on September 28, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Sue: Most of these “grassroots” groups were directly funded by the NC based banks who triggered the economic failure. They’re behind all the Americans For Prosperity and Tea Party Potemkin riots. If you have any money in any of them, get it out. They’ve been emboldened by the last round of thefts, and they’re going to pull some more heists once they get their beloved kleptocracy back.
    Credit unions are a better option, until someone finally drags some of the bankers out and drives them naked through the streets with a bullwhip and a can of mace.

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  13. Bitter Scribe said on September 28, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Once this community paper in my area ran a photo of someone shoveling out after a big snowstorm, with the caption:

    “John Smith digs out his car blah blah blah. Although a shitload of snow fell on the area, it was mostly cleared by…”

    Turns out the guy who wrote the caption put in “shitload” thinking the editor would catch it, chuckle, then put in the correct amount. Didn’t happen. Moral: Do not put jokes in your copy unless you want them to run.

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  14. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 28, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    I truly would love to see, and would vote for, a computer generated equal representation redistricting plan. As William F. Buckley said about the first five hundred names in the Boston phone book, it really couldn’t be worse than what we’ve got.

    I condemn, renounce, deplore, and otherwise repudiate wackdoodle redistricting by either party, including the Statehouse Republicans in Ohio currently making Seussian creatures with the proposed Congressional districts.

    Linda, I dispute none of your points except for “you will eventually get,” a formulation I mistrust on a bipartisan basis as well. And I still stand by my on-the-ground assessment that collective bargaining is not helping us govern our state or municipalities; I don’t want to damn the unions out of hand, but I think they dance the do-si-do with the Statehouse maroons to defer actual governance to contracts that boil down to “hey, don’t look at me, it’s in the contract.” We can debate all day what appropriate staffing levels or benefits are, the point is that there is no management being done by mayors, councils, boards, or trustees, and that’s by design. A design which is showing its flaws with steadily increasing costs and dramatically decreased service levels — the latter of which is NOT the fault of unions, but the fact that no solution other than tax increases is currently viable under the existing system is partly their intention.

    Again, if mayor and council can’t shift district boundaries to better reflect fire service needs, or stop paying for pagers; if school superintendents can’t change bus routes or move secretaries between buildings; if programs can be zeroed more easily than modified, and bumping is a mindless pachinko game from the former program head’s office all the way down to firing the last hired recycling board staffer — all because of collective bargaining, then I say yes to Issue 2. Then let’s work on justice and fairness and efficiency from there.

    Republican stupidity on libaries and school funding is a whole nother topic, and I’m sure my observations there would be much more in keeping with our neighborhood’s general tone. If it makes anyone feel better, I’m going to the lounge now to order my Kindle Fire. Sorry, Mr. Jobs.

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  15. Dorothy said on September 28, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    I’ve been cranky nearly all day because I’ve been awake since 2:00 AM but just got some wonderful news I feel like sharing, even though y’all don’t know this person. I have a dear friend here in town whose daughter lost her full-term baby boy 23 months ago, her first baby. But 3 hours ago she gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Charlotte Marie. I’m so dang happy for them I really don’t feel too sleepy anymore! Kate, Lee and Charlotte – congratulations to all (and to my friend Chris who is now a Grandma!).

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  16. James said on September 28, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Regarding fat jokes…

    We need another name to call jokes about a morbidly obese, bury them in a piano case enormity like Chris Christy. Fat can apply to the merely overweight, which can include middle-aged people like you and me.

    Maybe “Limbaugh” jokes? “Karl Rovian” jokes?

    I must admit I snorted when I saw headlines the other day about Christy “weighing” a run for the presidency.

    Hey… Maybe it’s time for a new Harding!

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  17. Bitter Scribe said on September 28, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    James–You had me until “Harding.” ??? — did you mean Taft?

    As for Christie, I don’t care what he looks like. So far he’s shown me nothing but vague Obama-bashing.

    It’s interesting that his so-called vulnerability comes from his takedown of those “oooooh Sharia law” types, just like Romney’s is statewide health care and Perry’s is refusal to punish children of illegal immigrants. IOW, their flashes of humanity.

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  18. Jeff Borden said on September 28, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    I’m no fan of fat jokes, but if Chris Christie ever did make it to the White House, he’d be our largest president since William Howard Taft. In his book about building the Panama Canal, “Path Between the Seas,” author David McCullough tells the story of an inspection of the construction zone by Taft, who was a huge supporter of the project. Aware of his size and weight, the host of the visit presciently had a special chair designed and built to accommodate Taft, who was suitably pleased.

    One of the things we study and teach in my public speaking classes is the way our appearance influences how we are perceived. Taller, handsomer people are seen as more honest, competent and trustworthy than shorter, less attractive people. We live in a nation with a pretty serious weight problem and most of us see large folks on a regular basis. Yet we still maintain our generally negative outlook on those who are overweight. Christie’s tough-talking, Jersey-tinged speech might balance out his girth. . .I would hate for him to be discounted just because he is a big guy just as I loathe the idea that pseudo-handsome hairdos like Rick Perry and Mitt Romney attract attention because they’re more photogenic.

    I don’t think Christie will run. It’s awfully late in the process and he has no political mechanism yet, though as the WSJ made clear the other day, there are some huge donors who could pony up tens of millions to build it quickly. He’s smarter to wait until 2016 if he really wants to seek the job.

    It’s going to be Mitt. I see no other alternative for the GOP. Oh, and SheWho won’t run either. She’s too busy grabbing with both hands to be bothered.

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  19. Sue said on September 28, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Checked my mail and found that Sports Illustrated is running excerpts on the new Walter Payton book. Oh, goodie! Let’s read a bit about an all-around classy guy.
    Sigh. Another ideal dented.

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  20. Joe Kobiela said on September 28, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    James how about calling them Ted Kennedy jokes? or that Fatslob Ed Shultz? Sue,I wouldn’t waste the time on that book. Just some poor sob trying to make a buck of of someone who is not here to defend himself, what a gutless piece of shit.
    Pilot Joe

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  21. Linda said on September 28, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Christie will not run, because you have to want the job so bad that you are willing to wreck your life for it. If you’re coy and have to be talked into it, you ain’t gonna make it.

    Jeff, if SB5 passes, you will have the satisfaction of seeing some other excuses made for public work being crappy and expensive, while public workers make less cash.

    ***I deleted something that I said that was just mean. I’m sorry.

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  22. Bitter Scribe said on September 28, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Linda–It’s interesting (to me, anyway) that Rick Perry occasionally tries to do the Cincinnatus-at-the-plow routine. He doesn’t want to run, doncha know, but all these people are forcing him into it, starting with his wife, who supposedly told him he has no right to sit on the sidelines while his country is in peril.

    Call me a cynic, but I don’t think so.

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  23. coozledad said on September 28, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Christie’s not going to take that nomination, because dragging a post and beam crucifix and a Browning automatic rifle around on the campaign trail will just suck all the wind out of him. His only hope is to set up a lawn chair on a street corner in Newark, wedge himself into some golf pants and a wife beater, crack a six of Zima and insult hookers using Italian hand gestures. It’ll capture the zeitgeist of the Party, and yet offer something slightly exotic for the jaded.
    Right now, he could be walking around scratching his arse for the cameras and Fred Hiatt would want a whiff of his finger.

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  24. caliban said on September 28, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Chris Christie is a vulgar stereotype of a NJ politico, and deserves every joke, fat or not, aimed at him. His brilliant rejection of fed cash to put Jersey workers to work on the Hudson R. train tunnel was a perfect example of blind Republican anti-Obama idiocy. He’s also a flamboyant bully that threatens people that disagree with him. When is he going to do the mandatory ride-along and frisk Mandingo? Jesus, what a jerk.

    Actually, his hair is funnier than his Tub o’ Guts. But Jesus, he is an obesity poster child. Who picked up the tab for Gov. Lardbutt’s recent obesity-related heart attack scare? Taxpayers he wants to protect from paying for SCHIP.

    Non-union, to GOPer minds means no middle class. They’re right about class warfare taking place, just lying their asses off about who is waging it, on whom.

    Librarians: I didn’t stereotype librarians, I commented on movie stereotypes. I believe there is a difference.

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  25. caliban said on September 28, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    If Chris Christie were diagnosed with a flesh-eating disease, the doctor would give him 45 years to live.

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  26. Bob said on September 28, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    I still have high hopes for the local TED events, even though a lot of the speakers in the early versions seem to be Mensan Zig Ziglars.

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  27. Linda said on September 28, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Caliban: you’re right. There IS a difference. We get it.

    And Christie cutting out a much-needed public work, while loaning a mall developer over $100,000. Sometimes the cartoons just caption themselves.

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  28. brian stouder said on September 28, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Dorothy, marvelous news indeed!

    Jeff, sincerely I say to you – I would not want your job. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be, to try and work effectively within “the system”, with young people who are essentially powerless – except for their ability to badly damage their futures (or have their futures foreclosed by the adults in their lives).

    With regard to public service unions, I will say that I have become a student of our local school board, and I have found their efforts on behalf of the public to be far-sighted, effective, and refreshingly transparent. And not for nothing, but the teachers unión has been an active partner in the successful efforts to reform, upgrade, and improve our school system….so it can be done.

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  29. Sue said on September 28, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Linda at 21, what you said wasn’t mean. He’s heard worse in very polite ways around here.
    Your blog is interesting and I’m thinking useful. MMJeff might find the information useful for some of his clients.

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  30. James said on September 28, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Taft! Taft!

    That’s why I came in third on my Jeopardy experience.

    Pilot Joe: OK… I’ll do you one better. Another piano-box fella is Michael Moore, someone with whom I agree 98% of the time, but who presents a terrible image. Does he have to wear that damn ball-cap all the time? Sheesh!

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  31. Bitter Scribe said on September 28, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Christie for some reason reminds me of a grown-up version of Flounder from “Animal House.”

    (He got left out of those what-happened-to-them vignettes at the end of the movie, didn’t he? Well, if Bluto could be a senator, I guess Flounder could be a governor.)

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  32. LAMary said on September 28, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    I always get the feeling that Michael Moore is a real jerk. I too agree with a most of what he’s saying, but something about him bugs me, and it’s not his looks.

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  33. Linda said on September 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Sorry. My bad. Christie ordered a much bigger finance package:

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  34. Dexter said on September 28, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    As Governor-General of the Philippines, William Howard Taft once sent a telegram to Washington, D.C. that read, “Went on a horse ride today; feeling good;” Secretary of War Elihu Root replied, “How’s the horse?” (lifted from Wikipedia)

    While Taft weighed around 335 pounds while President of the USA, and died weighing 244 pounds, he would hardly stand out as extremely fat in today’s world. Especially at the Big Boy breakfast buffet in Columbus, Ohio, where I felt right at home, and thin, amongst all those fat food shovellers. I ain’t never done seen nothing like it.

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  35. Brandon said on September 28, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    “I always get the feeling that Michael Moore is a real jerk. I too agree with a most of what he’s saying, but something about him bugs me, and it’s not his looks.”

    One might say the same about Keith Olbermann.

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  36. Judybusy said on September 28, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    And now, something for the juvenile-humored among us.

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  37. Dexter said on September 28, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Michael Moore has lost about 100 pounds or so…I give him credit.
    He can do it, going to Pritikin clinics and the like, because of the way his financial windfall is structured regarding his films. Moore is a very rich man. His films are extremely low-budget and he benefits greatly as almost all the money flows directly back to him. I don’t have any links to prove this, I simply heard it explained by other film makers one day on the radio.

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  38. Jeff Borden said on September 28, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Umm, actually, Flounder did get his biography at the end of the film. He was a therapist for Encounter Groups of Cleveland or somesuch. It was the usual cheap shot joke at the expense of poor Cleveland. The funniest was probably Otter, who was said to a gynecologist in Beverly Hills.

    I’m a big lefty, but I don’t care for Michael Moore and really haven’t since “Roger & Me.” The people in Flint he focused on were treated quite cruelly, I thought, particularly the lady eking out a living raising rabbits “for pets or food.” And the people at GM who were humiliated and treated badly by Moore were not upper-level executives or even mid-level folks, but security guards and the like in the company’s lobby.

    He’s a clever man and I agree with a lot of what he says but I still count him as a creep.

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  39. moe99 said on September 28, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    A report from someone who is working the SB5 issue in Ohio.

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  40. alex said on September 28, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    I think I’ve said it here before, but I lost all respect for Michael Moore when I learned that he was trying to manufacture labor/management conflict where none existed so that he could exploit the situation for a movie narrative. This was in a Border’s store in Chicago where I personally knew one of the managers, who had the unpleasant task of escorting Moore and his people off the premises multiple times when they showed up trying to pick a fight and make cinematic hay out of it.

    Moore actually managed to organize a union in this particular store. Within months, almost all who voted the union in had moved on. This meant that new employees were stuck paying union dues and getting nothing for it. They couldn’t receive merit raises, as was customary. And management had a much more difficult time getting rid of bad employees. When the statutory three years had passed before employees could vote on union membership again, the employees unanimously voted it out. During that time it was the one location nobody wanted to be hired into.

    I’ve always thought that Moore’s tactics were heavy handed. I thought he was a churlish ass at the Oscars when he used his award speech as an opportunity to spew incendiary sentiments. I think he’s almost as much of a discredit to liberals as Rush Limbaugh is to the right: Unsympathetic, self-righteous and dishonest. And I don’t think he’s doing unions any favors with his antics.

    My two cents’ worth. And a big fuck you to all the trolls who accuse those of us here of never criticizing our own.

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  41. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 28, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Linda, no worries. A little mean is going to be in the mix for everyone to get candid before we get to the constructive conversations. I don’t worry about a little cussing and accusations (within reason) early in a mediation; it’s often the only way to get to a calmer place. I am almost certainly wrong in many of my perspectives, I just want to speak up to say that being supportive of SB 5 is not the same as wanting flogging and indentured servitude brought back. If it’s defeated, we all still have work to do to get the education funding puzzle figured out, let alone county & city budgets. I’m not campaigning either way, frankly, for Issue 2. Mugwump to the end. The hard part, pass or fail, is after. And we can’t cut enough positions to fix the funding gap.

    Meanwhile, my (primary) congregation is looking at one month under current weekly offerings before the reserves run out. Then we have to choose: five fulltime, twelve parttime (from $1600 to $22000) employees, eight with various benefit packages. Do we cut benefits, or positions; do we cut whole jobs, or cut across the board 10%? But would the 10% include the $8K & under people? And do we keep the newest hire, a youth ministries person? Who just arrived in town, with a 12 month rental and two kids, wife still not employed? But if we don’t touch him, then . . .

    Unlike the last twenty years in state and local government, by month’s end, right choices or wrong, we will have done something. Which weighs on me, and if I could vote to kick the can another year by drawing on imaginary funds, I surely would. So I don’t quite blame the legislators, and yet . . .

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  42. Jeff Borden said on September 28, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Thank you, Alex. You eloquently note why so many of us have misgivings about him. I think the Rush Limbaugh comparison is quite apt, though Moore would have to travel a far ways to match the accumulated racist, sexist, homophobic bile El Rushbo has served up steaming for the past 20 or 25 years.

    Somewhere, Father Coughlin is looking down (or maybe up) at Rush and saying, “Attaboy!”

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  43. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 28, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Noted: I’m not staff, I’m “laity” for leadership purposes at this Methodist congregation, even though I’m credentialled to the UMC as an ordained Disciples of Christ pastor. Anyhow, my pay isn’t on the line, but with no raises in six years, I’m not able to give more than my current tithe, either.

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  44. moe99 said on September 28, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Our Presbyterian church is looking to furlough our 4 employees for one month next summer to try to balance our budget. This is what happens and this is how you do it when membership is dying off and not being replaced by younger members. But just because we are going through this process does not give me the right to bash state workers and call for the same draconian measures.

    Although with a required balanced budget for the state and the lack of an income tax to bring stability to government revenues, we have had to give back 3% of our salaries and take furlough days ourselves.

    I’m rather in favor of unions as protecting workers. I’ve seen it up close and personal with agency employees other than attorneys (we cannot organize). Without the union, the folks who work for the program at the Department that I represented, would have had no protection against their supervisor, a certified asshole. You’d be interested to know Jeff, that his heavy handedness on one assessment case, caused a small Methodist church to go out of business. The Department audited the church and claimed that someone working there, who was actually funded by the county, was an employee and they owed several thousands of dollars in unpaid workers’ comp premiums, penalties and interest. The litigation supervisor who handled the appeal was aghast at this but the supervisor was adamant that the Department would not drop or settle the case. The church did not have the money to pay and went out of business. Mind you this is just one of a host of stories I have from working with this jerk for over two years. He downgraded those on his staff who tried to settle cases–initiating adverse actions against them. Good thing that these folks had their union to protect them–without that they would have been up the proverbial shit crick.

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  45. Linda said on September 28, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    I’m glad you’re not sore at me. I can get some of the anger at some public unions. Like one in the Toledo area that won’t pay ANY co-pays on medical treatment. That’s crazy. But I’m most angry at the race to the bottom, where until very recently, the Beltway unofficially decreed that it is forbidden to criticize low tax rates on investment income for the wealthiest (class warfare, you know), but o.k. to declare open season on cops and firemen because they have good pensions. How did we get to abusing people for not eating catfood in their old age, after they spent their lives climbing into burning buildings or getting shot at? Someday, this will be seen as an incomprehensible period in American history. I hope.

    Oh, and LA Mary–I think the thing you hate about Moore is summed up in “self-serving attention whore.”

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  46. brian stouder said on September 28, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    Well, the young folks and I enjoyed the lecture that Governor Daniels delivered this evening at IPFW, and the Q&A that followed. He exudes Hoosier friendliness, and he simply doesn’t do the “angry visionary” thing that the national Republican party is so enamored of, lately.

    I DID think it was funny that he hammered away at how terrible our national debt and national deficit is, and how dire the situation is becoming; and the implicit blame he was heaping onto our current president.

    If I was going to ask a question, it would have been “Did you make ANY of these principled arguments to the president YOU served, when our nation plunged out of budget surplus and into budget deficits?”

    We did buy a copy of his book, but there was an old fellow at the end of our row who we did not want to disturb in order to leave during the the Q&A at the end – the better to get into line to have our book inscribed…so that mission got scrubbed.

    One big highlight of the evening? As Grant and Shelby and I took our seats, the fellow just in front of us turned and shook my hand, and introduced himself saying that he felt he knew me from Nancy Nall’s blog; it was Bob Caylor, of the good ol’ News-Sentinel! (I confessed to him that this place is a bad habit!)

    Then as the evening proceeded, I could see him taking notes “old school”, writing with a pencil and turning page after page in a pad of paper. (That’s MY kind of “iPad”, b’gosh!) All in all, a very pleasant evening, and an honest-to-God good natured national-level Republican political figure (which is about as rare, nowadays, as a brass monkey’s bollocks)

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  47. alex said on September 29, 2011 at 6:41 am

    As Dubya’s budget director, Mitch Daniels was the engineer of the tax cuts that sank our economy. His “trusting Americans” schtick is as cynical as Sarah Palin and her “death panels.” He thinks Americans—and Hoosiers—are a bunch of yutzes and it’s unfortunate but he’s largely correct.

    I think his reticence about running for president has less to do with his wife’s extramarital shenanigans than it does with the likelihood that his Hoosier economic miracle would be revealed as a house of cards if he were to campaign on it as a model for the nation. His book sounds as self-serving as the one Dick Cheney just penned—a defensive attempt to sway some popular opinion in his favor before the other shoe drops.

    Of course, Indiana will probably elect Mike Pence as the next governor, and he’s as big a whack job as Michele Bachmann but better spoken. I despair for my state and my country.

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  48. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 29, 2011 at 7:16 am

    Looking again at Linda’s blog as I think Sue suggested, I’m reminded of what’s to me the flip side of this discussion. Every year, every blinkin’ year, I have conversations with church folk who draw me aside, once in a while declaim loudly in the narthex, to let me know “there are people going to the Christmas Angel program who don’t need it, and are just getting stuff to resell.”

    Sometimes, to be fair, it’s from a person who’s decided to try to help, with no experience of the complicated world of poverty, and they just spent a day at the distribution site; less creditable, they have a friend who did so, and told them some stories of what they saw that evening.

    I’ve tried a number of tacks over the years, and the one I stick to sailing now is this: I immediately come back with “I know.” That usually gets their attention, because they’ve become enamoured of how they’re going to let me know something I’m not aware of.

    “Yes, I know, and here’s the problem. We all know, working with this effort, that as many as 10 percent of the people making application misrepresent or leave out information, and falsely qualify for children’s gifts, for whatever purposes. But we’ve never been able to figure out how to screen that factor out, without certainly screening out some of the 90% you agree are ‘deserving’. Yes, we’ve made a conscious choice: we can let 10% take advantage of us, and leave it to their own conscience how they deal with that, or we can focus on ensuring only the ‘truly deserving’ are served, and screen out another twenty percent along with them, thereby only serving 70% of what we currently do, but go home feeling better ourselves because we absolutely didn’t get taken advantage of by anyone. Personally, I sleep better doing it the way we do.”

    That usually resolves it, unless they’ve got one more technical, “OK, but what about . . .” We can talk about the pro-s and con-s of screening at all, and we can pretty much agree you have to screen some, because if you just say “free cupcakes for all” you’ll get swamped and probably end up with lots of cupcakes on the ground and tossed in the trash just down the block. But I hold to the idea that the less, the better. An unfair trump card that can be played (since we’re talking private charity and not governmental benefits, after all) is “I don’t recall Jesus telling the disciples to set up a means-testing bench before stepping to the head of the line for bread and fish.”

    So I don’t want to throw out all unions just because of some cretins, but I will keep arguing that both parties have gotten used to using vastly detailed contracts to avoid governing, and there has to be some way to reboot the system and then build back from there. A minimum 7% growth annually in federal & state budgets (that’s baseline budgeting in a nutshell, with any growth less than that being called “a cut”) has been long outstripping the actual growth of the economy, and it’s not likely to change anytime soon. Without step-back devices like SB 5 in Ohio, I don’t see any other way of getting back to a rational conversation that can become sustainable. And the only reason people like me don’t just cave quickly on “tax the rich at Clinton era levels” which, I’ve said, I’d be fine with, is that it doesn’t even come close to solving the problem.

    At which point people just want to say “what about Bush’s prescription drug program? what about the wars?” Right, and again: increasing taxes on the rich/raising the top tax rate from 35% to 39.5% doesn’t fix our insolvency. That, and cutting defense about a third would, and I just don’t see it. So dead armadillos like me don’t concede the “tax the rich” argument too readily because it’s gonna be “increase taxes right down the line” in a big hurry.

    Practical discussions of how/in what way we could cut Defense spending by a third I’ll have all day; it’s the “if we closed the Pentagon and spend that money on the poor” response that leaves me thinking there’s nothing to talk about (which no one here tends to say casually, I should add). But all my clergy friends are as upset with me as Moe and Linda are because I won’t go picket for Issue 2, even though I’m “right” on so many other issues of the “left” as they see it.

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  49. Linda said on September 29, 2011 at 8:06 am

    Ah, well, when SB5, Allah willing, is in the grave, we will have to figure out another reboot. 🙂 The more popular parts of SB5 will probably become law in some other legislation (the bigger kick-in of public employees towards their pensions and health care). And the evolution of PERS will continue (the public employee retirement system in Ohio), which has already been in the process of raising retirement eligibility and cutting back bennies for the last several years.

    Likely, it will involve reforms to the overall health system, which is firing much of the growth in government–and way bigger than public pensions. Some of the reboot will have to hit Big Pharma and hospitals, which are peddling pharmaceutical and invasive medical procedures as a way of financial growth. Medical costs are eating both the public budget and private benefits. .

    We need to see what is really eating budgets. Texas’s state budget was in the hole for over $20 billion dollars earlier this year, with very few if its employees (16%) unionized. Having poor folks in your jurisdiction will sink your budget, too, with or without a unionized workforce. And, of course, cutting taxes heavily like Gov. Goodhair doesn’t help.

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  50. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 29, 2011 at 8:28 am


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  51. basset said on September 29, 2011 at 8:53 am

    I’ll agree with the majority on Moore.

    Meanwhile… I have been donating blood since 1973 and have over eighty donations just at the Red Cross center where I live now, no telling how many altogether. Red cells, pheresis, plasma, if they can get it out of my veins I’m there.

    So… tried to do a directed donation yesterday for a friend who has breast cancer. Thirteen phone calls and three left messages later, I finally broke through the voicemail and reached a live human at the local Red Cross who promptly put me on hold because “I have to transfer you to St. Louis.” And it’s been this way for years – I quit doing red cells and pheresis because our blood center here was so disorganized and it was so hard to book appointments, and I only do whole blood now if I happen to be driving past the place or see a blood drive somewhere.

    Finally got the donation set up but it was way harder than it needed to be. And I just had to vent, thanks for bearing with me.

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  52. brian stouder said on September 29, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Basset – I believe I am just into the 90’s, of platelet donations (pheresis); I should be able to break 100 early next year, and get a cake (or whatever).

    I think I’ve given whole blood maybe twice in my life, but it was very unpleasant (turns out that I’m a passer-outer, or at least I was 30 years ago); and in any case, being A Positive, my platelets are more worthwhile to them than my whole blood would be.

    As for your local Red Cross, I guess this is yet another thing I take for granted here in good ol’ Fort Wayne. If I have an appointment, often as not they call and remind me the day before; or if I miss an appointment or it’s been awhile since we’ve made one, they call to schedule one.

    Really, I don’t think I could stop donating now, if I tried

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  53. nancy said on September 29, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Fort Wayne’s blood center was extremely well-run, in my recollection, very professional and pleasant. I don’t know how Red Cross collection centers are graded, but I would imagine it has to be at the top of any objective list.

    I now give blood at my gym, which hosts a bloodmobile on major holidays. My last one was on Labor Day, and was typical: I made an appointment online, which did not save me from three phone calls, two of them robo, informing me of the drive and asking me to donate. I had a time conflict that day and arrived 30 minutes before my appointment, hoping they could take me as a drop-in, and they could — I was in and out quickly. When I got home, Alan said the Red Cross had called, wondering why I missed my appointment.

    I miss odd things about Indiana, and I guess I have to add that one to the list.

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  54. basset said on September 29, 2011 at 9:35 am

    I’m A-Positive myself… every fifty-some-odd days I get an aggressive, in fact borderline rude, call from someone in another state insisting that I come down and donate that day because people will die if I don’t. Two out of my last three pheresis appointments I got there and they weren’t ready, machine was broken, double booked, something like that, so I finally said the hell with it. I don’t want to stop donating entirely, don’t want to fight their system every time either.

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  55. Julie Robinson said on September 29, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Universal donor O neg here, and as the appointment ladies always sweetly remind me, I have that special blood they give to babies*. Try to turn that one down.

    *There’s a normally benign virus whose name escapes me now, but if you’ve had it, they don’t risk your blood on newborns.

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  56. basset said on September 29, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Just got a call from the Red Cross, some middle manager or other wanted to talk with me right away about yesterday’s frustrations and get everything sorted out.

    Called back… you guessed it, voice mail. “We will return your call within 24 hours…”

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  57. brian stouder said on September 29, 2011 at 11:52 am

    “There will be Blood”, as they say!

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  58. basset said on September 29, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Wonder of wonders, he did call back. Our conversation will be summarized “on paper,” which will be sent “up the chain of command” and if anything happens I will hear from them “within thirty days.”

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