Nate Smith-Tyge (@smithtyge):
Item 1: School "reform" discussion on Mackinac Island. Not to toot my own horn or anything but as I predicted the first thing two panelists on the Detroit Schools panel that was simulcast on Detroit Public TV talked about was the Ed Trust-Midwest's nonsensical report. It shouldn't surprise me that one of them was Sandy Baruah President of the Detroit Regional Chamber and the other John Rakolta the CEO of Walbridge. After all, this report was designed to appeal to exactly these type of guys - people with no real understanding of what the data actually means and no real interest in actually regarding teachers and educators as professionals. We have a long way to go in this discussion but let's start with real data and research.
Item 2: If Bob Labrant's mouth is moving, he's lying. Rep. Jim Townsend's efforts to change Michigan's income tax to a graduated tax are already meeting stiff opposition from the Michigan Chamber. In a story for Lansing's WLNS Tim Skubick tracked down former Michigan Chamber President Bob Labrant, now conveniently titled as a GOP Consultant, who claimed that most people would pay more under a graduated income tax. Either Mr. Labrant does not understand basic math (5% is not greater than 95%) or he was out-right lying. Given his history, it's safe to assume it's the latter. It would serve Tim Skubick to remember that his greater responsibility is to the truth and not a false sense of "balance" that allows clearly false statements to go unchallenged. Not to be outdone Nolan Finley filed an op-ed on road funding and was sure to include a vapid anti-graduated income tax talking point from Rich Studley the current Michigan Chamber President (and Mr. Labrant's long-time protege). This shows just how much of an uphill battle the graduated income tax will face in Michigan - the truth needs some help when it's up against the Chamber's deep pockets and lie-machine.
Item 3: Maybe they should have gone with Bob Livingston. So, it turns out that Denny Hastert was to Illinois high school wrestling what Jerry Sandusky was to Pennsylvania college football (Too soon? I apologize). What a disgraceful situation and really pretty surprising. Hastert was chosen to be speaker by Dick Armey and Tom DeLay because he was safe. After it came out that their first choice Bob Livingston was the freak of the week they quickly settled on Hastert as he was a safe and nondescript entity within the House. Turns out Hastert was just better at keeping his skeletons buried. Everyone is talking about the irony of Hastert being anti-LGBT while being a secret pedophile, but should that really surprise anyone anymore? What I want to know is how does Hastert get $3 million in hush money? He's a former teacher and while being Speaker pays well, it doesn't pay that well. The Member to Lobbyist gravy-train in DC is so engrained in the DC culture it doesn't even cause a blink of the eye. We all agree the sex abuse is terrible and want justice for the victims. However, we must also include the underlying culture of basically open and legal corruption in DC (and Lansing). Real representative democracy can only be restored by the overturning of Citizens United, real lobbying reform and most fundamentally by public financing of campaigns and free access to airwaves and cable lines by all candidates (the people own the airwaves and right-of-ways - it's time they were put to a meaningful public use).
Item 4: Mosquitoes - damn Mosquitoes. They must be eradicated from the face of the earth. That is all.