Michigan Voters: Please “Plunk” for Sam Bagenstos for MI Supreme Court on Nov 6

“Plunking” means voting for just one person, even when you could vote for several.

On Nov 6, Please plunk for Sam Bagenstos for Michigan Supreme Court

This is easy to remember, because he’s the only candidate who has a hobbit-sounding name.  Sometimes he wears little half-glasses while reading, which really underscores the hobbit thing, although he’s sort of a tall dude.

Voting for Michigan Supreme Court

This year we have six candidates running for two open seats in the Michigan Supreme Court. This is on the “non-partisan” portion of the ballot—that is, even though the nominees have a party affiliation, that affiliation isn’t listed on the ballot.  As a result, in general, only about 50–60% of voters even bother to vote for a Michigan supreme court justice.  When they do, they overwhelmingly pick the incumbent (who have “Justice of Supreme Court” listed under their names on the ballot—generally, the rational voters have is “Well, I can’t think of anything terrible the supreme court did this year, so whoever is on it must be doing a good job.”)

My point is two-fold: 1) It is a small number of well-informed voters, coupled with a bunch of people who just like ticking boxes, who elect our supreme court justices and 2) once you’re on, it’s easy to stay on.

Why am I asking you to vote for Sam?

  1. He’s a solid dude.  I know him a little bit, personally, and know his wife and kids much better (we’re active in the same congregation). Sam isn’t in anyone’s pocket. He is smart and fair and works his ass off.
  2. He’s a civil rights dray horse. He was a top official in DoJ’s Civil Rights Division under Obama.  In the last couple years Sam has argued and won important victories for pregnant workers and disabled children before the Supreme Court of the United States.  He’s fighting for the people of Flint to hold the state accountable for their poisoned city water.

Why am I asking you to “plunk” for Sam?

You can vote for up to two supreme court justices.  You could vote for both Sam and the other Dem nominee, Megan Cavanagh—with your rationale being that this brings us closer to getting at least one progressive justice on the court.  But this is the midwest, and “Democrat” is not a reliable proxy for “progressive.” Megan Cavanagh has actually spent her career restricting civil rights, representing municipalities, police, and businesses against the sorts of clients that Sam has stuck up for.  (FUN FACT: One time Cavanagh argued before the Michigan supreme court, representing an oil company that accidentally dumped 396 gallons of fuel oil into a woman’s basement, destroying her home.)

So, on the one hand, you have Cavanagh who worked to get an oil company out of paying $100,000 in damages to a woman whose home they destroyed. On the other, you have Sam representing the people of Flint after they suffered heavy metals poisoning at the hands of incompetent city admins.

If you plunk for Sam (voting for him and only him), you essentially double the value of your vote.  This is important because, if trends persist (and there’s no reason they wouldn’t), the incumbents are going to devour the vast majority of the votes.  Effectively, only one supreme court seat is open (if even). Voting for both Sam and Cavanagh is essentially saying that you figure it’s a coin-toss between the two, as to which will better bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice.

That simply isn’t true in this case.  Sam is your justice. Please plunk for Sam.  Please spread the word.

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Face It: If You Were an Immigrant, You’d Be Turned Away from Trump’s America

Hell, I’d be turned away, and I’m a highly educated, highly articulate, decently well-off white(ish) person with some little shred of public notability.

Trump’s “merit-based immigration” is a bullshit system that

favors big-money investors who want to buy citizenship while simultaneously draining all the best technical minds from the developing world and consigning them to being well-paid slaves at the pleasure of major tech companies.

art by DonkeyHotey https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/
(art by DonkeyHotey)

It’s callous, crass, penny-pinching robber-baron capitalism that will to jack-shit to stem illegal immigration, create a class of disaffected young men with weak ties to their American communities and strong ties to their home countries, and leave the average American worker to fight for jobs picking cotton, making Starbucks, and driving Uber.

How Many Americans Would Pass an Immigration Test Endorsed by Trump?

I’ve talked to a few Trump voters in the last several months (I need to get a new roof on my house), and it is precisely bait-and-switch shit like this that has them pissed and cynical as hell.

And those folks have guns, Mr. President.

Dr. Martin Luther King, the Eight Commandments, and Bending the Arc of History

Little things like this are why I love and admire MLK and, by extension, humans in general. I’d like to suggest to you that the first eight items on this list would make an *excellent* daily substitute for the 10 Commandments. If you’re not natively inclined to be Of the Book, then please consider the possibility that this constitutes an acceptable non-sectarian Watchword (if you wanna strike “pray for guidance and” from Commandment #3, I’ve got no beef with that; it all amounts to the same thing as far as me and my Magic(k)al Sky Faerie are concerned).

Remember: The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice—provided that we get up every morning and put our weight towards bending that mutherfucker. It ain’t gonna bend on its own.

The 8 Commandments might read:

  1. Not all people in power are opposed to Justice. Accept goodwill on the part of many.
  2. All resources are for the use of all people. Take a vacant seat.
  3. Pray for guidance and commit yourself to complete non-violence in word and action.
  4. Demonstrate the calm dignity of our people in your actions.
  5. In all things observe ordinary rules of courtesy and good behavior.
  6. Remember that this is not a victory for us alone, but for all humanity. Do not boast! Do not brag!
  7. Be quiet but friendly; proud, but not arrogant; joyous, but not boisterous.
  8. Be loving enough to absorb evil and understanding enough to turn an enemy into a friend.

These are our commandments now. Keep them in your hearts, teach them to your children, talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you rise up. Bind them as symbols on your arm. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Hear, and be careful to obey, so that it may go well with us and that we may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of our ancestors, promised us.

Amen

(document via Slate)

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