Oct 31, 2008

McCain supporter plays Trick or Treat Grinch

Happy Halloween.

Even though I live next to a large park with few houses on my side of the road, I got a fair amount of kids knocking on my door for treats. Between them and my grandkids - and myself, I must admit - I was cleaned completely out of candy. I moved my Obama sign, Schauer sign and Vote yes on Prop 2 yard sign so the kids would not trip over them.

Relaxing on the sofa, I caught the 10 p.m. news on Fox 2, and I saw a disturbing story. This shrew of a woman named Shirley Nagel of Grosse Pointe Farms refused to give kids candy unless they said they were voting for John McCain.

She had a handmade sign on her door that said “No handouts for Obama supporters.” She had candy taped to McCain door hangers. Wow, what class. I had no idea 4 and 5-year-olds could vote.

Making kids cry is how she wins vote for McCain? The door hangers were a great idea, but they should have gone in every bag. I can’t imagine how you can turn a little 4-year-old child away from your door empty handed because they won’t say they support McCain. Most don’t even know who McCain or Obama is.

You’re all class, Shirley. Keep up the good work.

Michigan Republican Party now paying for false Willie Horton-like attack ad against Judge Hathaway

The right is emptying the sewers in attacking Judge Diane Marie Hathaway, but the good news is that it means she has a good chance of winning the seat over an incumbent on the Michigan Supreme Court.

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce took a shot at Hathaway with a vile ad of their own in order to prop up their stooge on the court, Cliff Taylor, the leader of the three other extreme rightwing activist judges known as the "Gang of Four." The ads are false, attacking her sentencing record as a Wayne County Circuit Court Judge.

The latest pair of false attack ads are being paid for by the Michigan Republican Party. I'm happy to see they are spending money on this trash they didn't expect they would have to spend and will not be able to spend elsewhere. We can only hope voters are smarter than the GOP give them credit for, and they will see through the lies. I think they are or the race would not be this close.

The vilest ad features a sinister mug shot of Dearborn resident Hussein Ali Zorkot in a Willie Horton-like ad. The third-year Wayne State University medical student was arrested on Sept. 8, 2007 in Dearborn's Hemlock Park with a loaded AK-47. He was sentenced in a plea deal on July 29 to two year's probation.

The Republicans are, of course, using their tried and true tactics of fear and racism, and trying to label him as a terrorist. He has not been identified as a terrorist or linked to any terrorist group, according to law enforcement officials. It was a plea deal, and if Hathaway went against the deal the prosecutor made there would be a trial.

The next ad is built around one single quote that appears to be taken out of context. This is the quote: "most of the Winter on the Sunny Beaches of Florida." That's it. It has to be taken out of context because it's not a complete sentence. It references the Oct. 25, 2006 issue of the Michigan Chronicle. The ad features beach scenes, and uses the incomplete quote as the reason Hathaway ran for Michigan Appeals Court Judge in 2006.

Most vocal opponent of Proposal 2 may not really oppose it

The deliberate deceptions by the opponents of Ballot Proposal 2 that will allow embryonic stem cell research continue.

Prop 2 proposal opponent Sen. Tom George, R-Kalamazoo, has been traveling the state debating the proponents of Proposal 2. Clearly, the head-to-head debates are a great idea, but the only problem is George, an anesthesiologist, is the only person the opposition can find to debate for their side. This time, George debated former Republican Congressman and medical doctor Joe Schwarz, of Cure Michigan, at a forum at Wayne State University, according to the Detroit Free Press.

One of the biggest deceptive talking points that has been repeated time after time is that as written, Proposal 2 would prevent the state from regulating a science that critics believe could lead to human-animal hybrids and other "chimeric" creatures.

According to the Free Press, George told "the seemingly pro-stem cell crowd, he said, "You can be in favor of embryonic stem cell research and still oppose this measure." He refused to say if he personally was in favor of embryonic stem cell research.

Schwarz called out George on the false talking point that the Legislature could do nothing to regulate stem cell research.

"I maintain that if this passes, that Tom George and the health committee in the Senate will be setting up a regulatory framework around which this research could be done," Schwarz said.

Better yet, if George is not against embryonic stem cell research and wants to ensure it's regulated properly, then he can vote for House Bill 4616 that will allow the creation of embryonic stem cells for research and HB 4617 and 4618 that would increase the penalties for engaging or attempting to engage in human cloning.

HB 4616 was introduced by Rep. Andy Meisner, D-Ferndale, on April 19, 2007 and is stuck in the Judiciary Committee. HBs 4617 and 4618 were introduced by Rep. Mark Meadows, D-Lansing, and are also stuck in the Judiciary Committee. George can get an assurance from the Senate Majority Leader that the bills will be taken up by Senate during the Lame Duck session so they can be moved out of the House Committee. He can then rewrite them any way he pleases to ensure proper regulation.

Oct 30, 2008

Every picture tells a story don't it

Sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

I had no intention on adding words to this post; just the photo. Back in the day when I was an award-winning photographer, a stand alone photo went a long way to filling the news hole. This photo, apparently, was the header of an email Mr. Anuzis was sending to supporters to push the so-called "Fight to the Finish Tour." I decided to take a look at the Youtube video from the so-called "Victory Center" in Livingston County to see if I recognized anyone.

I was surprised to see stacked next to where Mr. Anuzis and county Grand Oil Party chair Allan Filip were speaking along with the stacks of "Rogers for Congress" signs were stacks of orange signs urging people to "Vote no on the Brighton School millage." We have seen county Republicans try and do away with nonpartisan races in the county, but I had no idea they were campaigning against Brighton Schools. It seems ironic an anti-school measure is using Brighton High School's color. Go Bulldogs.

The Brighton Area School district is seeking a $15 million bond for buses and technology, and a separate capital projects sinking fund on the Nov. 4 ballot. With the bond funds, the school will purchase 1,600 new computers and 46 new school buses. While this is not entirely a new millage, it replaces an old one with a slightly higher millage.

According to the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, "The combined building millage and the technology/bus bond would equal about 1 mill, which is slightly higher than the building/sinking fund millage rate that expired in 2007. That millage rate was 0.9 mills, or 90 cents in taxes per each $1,000 of taxable value." According to the paper, it will cost the owner of a $200,000 house $100 a year or about 28 cents a day.

I had no idea they are campaigning against this. Can somebody tell me why?

I know the GOP does not care for public school teachers, but none of the bond money collected would go toward pay or benefits for teachers. All of the money would go into purchasing technology for the classrooms. Brighton is a relatively affluent area, but the computers there are more than eight years old. The bond money would also go into buses, which seems like a basic safety issue. The state does not provide any additional money for buses. The district actually dropped busing for high school students a few years ago, but the public demanded they bring it back.

Sleepy Taylor one man show gets rave reviews

For a great piece of performance art that reflects real life, check out the touring show sponsored by Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer with a staff member portraying Sleeping Judge Cliff Taylor when he fell asleep during a Michigan Supreme Court hearing for the case of two mothers who lost six children in an apartment fire owned by the Detroit Housing Commission.

In a press release, Brewer said Taylor, who leads the conservative majority of activist judges known as the "Gang of Four," has been snoozing while Michigan families have been devastated by rulings that changed Michigan law and unfairly protected special interests, corporate polluters and drug companies.

"Just like you wouldn’t want a driver asleep at the wheel, you wouldn’t want a judge asleep on the bench,” Brewer said. “Cliff Taylor has repeatedly turned his back on Michigan families and changed Michigan law to protect special interests and corporate polluters. Michigan families need Supreme Court justices that will put our families first, not their excessive pay and perks.”

Brewer unveiled the show yesterday on the steps of the Michigan Hall of Justice in Lansing. Brewer outlined some of the most egregious Taylor rulings that unfairly protected corporations and polluters, at great expense to Michigan citizens and families. During the press conference, the young thespian playing Sleepy Cliff jerked awake when Brewer mentioned his perks, his salary and how he has protected the status quo.

Among the more horrendous cases, Taylor refused to hold a landlord liable for faulty wiring that sparked a fire in which six children were killed. During arguments in that case, eyewitnesses said Taylor fell asleep. He wrote the opinion upholding Michigan's unique drug immunity law, which allows drug companies to avoid responsibility when their products hurt or kill someone. Taylor also changed Michigan’s Environmental Protection Act in the Nestle case, making it harder for citizens to protect the environment. The state House Judiciary Committee is investigating Taylor for abuse of power and misconduct.

The one man show is currently touring the state. Be sure to vote for Judge Diane Marie Hathaway for Michigan Supreme Court in the nonpartisan part of the ballot.

Oct 29, 2008

Quote of the Week: What part of America do you live in

I wonder what part of America I live in? The pro-America or the anti-America part?

We have just one more week of ridiculous, dumb and disgusting quotes from Republican Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin, so I chose her as the Quote of the Week. We know the Republican strategy of fear and finding an issue that divides the country has worked so well for Republicans in the past, but it will fall short this year.

Back to the all important question of what part of the country I live in. I live in a Blue state, but I wonder if Howell is a small enough of small town to qualify as the "real America" and the "Pro-America Area?" I also wonder what I have to do to be patriotic? I pay my taxes, I served in the military and I vote in every election. Perhaps someone can tell me what else I can do.

"We believe that the best of America is in the small towns that we get to visit, and in the wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation." Republican Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin at a fundraiser in Greensboro, NC. on Oct. 16.

Debate over embryonic stem cell research centers on ideology versus science

The debate over embryonic stem cell research and Michigan's Ballot Proposal 2 is simply an attempt to trump science and progress with blind ideology and politics.

We have been hammered by false and misleading TV ads funded by anti-choice groups, Catholic groups and far rightwing organizations like the Family Research Council.

Embryonic stem cells have the potential to cure countless diseases, such as autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis; cancers; cardiovascular diseases; circulatory and respiratory diseases; spinal cord injuries; infectious diseases like HIV; metabolic diseases like cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease; muscular dystrophies; neurological diseases of adulthood like Alzheimer's disease and Lou Gehrig's disease; and neurological diseases of childhood like Asperger's syndrome and autism. The embryos are never implanted in a woman’s body, and the embryos are routinely discarded by fertility clinics.

The bottom line is this: instead of using the embryos for anything useful and helping the more than 770,000 Michigan residents who are suffering from the above mentioned diseases, opponents of embryonic stem cell research would rather see them thrown in the trash. That is just sad.

Cure Michigan, proponents of the ballot proposal, have done an excellent job of putting a human face on the 770,000 Michiganders this could help if passed. One is a friend of mine, Julielyn Gibbons. Her very personal video makes me proud she grew up and her parents still live in my home county of Livingston County in Green Oak Township.

I met her through blogging and politics, and the "Cruise Director" – as she is affectingly known in the liberal blogging world - is one of the people responsible for the success of liberal blogs. She works hard for what she believes in, and that's why she is working hard in this campaign. I have never seen her in a bad mood, despite the pain she has been in. But her story is just one of many personal stories, and the web site has many more.

For another good piece of video, check out the "Off the Record" episode with Tim Skubick that features an opponent and a proponent of Proposal 2, as well as Prop 1, debating the issue. For me, this is the best way to reach a decision instead of a one-on-one interview where statements can go unchallenged when they are facing off.

It speaks volumes about the two side's agendas by who were the spokesmen, and it was science versus politics and ideology. The anti-stem cell proponent was Republican state Sen. Tom George. The proponent was Dr. Sean Morrison, the Director of the University of Michigan Center for Stem Cell Biology. Granted, George is also a medical doctor, but he is playing the role of politician. It's worth watching.

What we have seen from the opponents of Prop 2 is false, misleading and even disgusting ads from the opponents of stem cell research. They have pushed falsehood after falsehood. They have falsely claimed it will raise taxes. Only 12 states have chosen to publicly fund embryonic stem cell research, and this proposal does not do that. The fact is Michigan is losing out on millions of dollars in federal funding and grants.

They also falsely claim it will open the door on human cloning, but they are, of course, ignoring the fact that a 1988 Michigan law already bans human cloning. Opponents also claim Proposal 2 would allow unrestricted research. Not true because the research conducted in Michigan meets existing strict federal laws and guidelines.

The newest one I heard says even if Proposal 2 is voted down embryonic stem cell research will still go on. That ignores that research here is severely limited to existing stem cell lines, many of which are contaminated and unsuitable for study, and any attempt to create new ones is a felony. Michigan has three of the best research universities in the country, but we have already lost some of brightest minds to states that allow embryonic stem cell research.

To see how politicized this has become we have the Catholic Bishop for the Lansing Diocese criticizing Gov. Jennifer Granholm for her support of Proposition 2. Now, I'm not a catholic, but apparently the Governor is a Catholic. I don't see why that even matters, and the Bishop's opinion is just one more opinion and that's not based on fact or science.

What the Catholic Church thinks is irrelevant, and I don't understand why their opinion carries any more weight than supporters of Prop 2, like the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, the American Dental Association or the Unitarian-Universalist Association of Congregations.

This reminds of the issues raised when President Kennedy, the only Catholic President, was running. It was feared he would take policy direction from the Vatican. He put that to rest in a speech in 1960 to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association: "I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president - should he be Catholic- how to act."

Make that Governors, too.

Vote Yes on Proposition 2.

Oct 28, 2008

Delivery of 300th commuter MichiVan marks mass transit milestone

A major milestone in mass transit in Michigan was reached today when the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), along with its partner, VPSI, Inc. of Troy, delivered the 300th commuter van to employees at the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit.

The MichiVan program is statewide vanpool program operated by VPSI, Inc. of Troy managed through a contract with MDOT that began in 1980. A vanpool is a group of five to 15 people who commute on a regular basis. Usually, one person volunteers to be the driver or coordinator of the vanpool and normally rides free, or the riders can as a group choose to rotate drivers. The passengers pay a low monthly fee to VPSI and share the cost of fuel among the riders, and that gas cost is decided by the riders. The more people, the less gas cost. MichiVan typically pays for insurance and repairs to the vehicle.

“One of the best values for your money is riding in a vanpool," said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. "Vanpooling with MichiVan is a cost-effective alternative for commuters who enjoy the convenience of sharing a ride to work. The 2,224 people served by commuter vans each day means there are fewer vehicles on Michigan roads. This is good for the environment - - and good for the pocketbook."

As I have said previously, I ride the Michivan to Lansing, along with 11 other state employees. When we meet in the morning in the park-n-ride lot, there are Michivans coming and going. However, I think we are the only van going to Lansing, and we are the largest. But once in Lansing we are one of about four vans that pick up at the newer Cooley Law School building in downtown Lansing, but we are the smallest van. That will change soon, and we are on the list to get a new, larger van. There is a van that also goes to Livingston County, but it goes to Brighton.

The cost savings and comfort are great, but the benefits to the environment and national security are huge.

Vanpooling saves approximately 152,000 gallons of fuel, reduces about 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and takes 40,430 vehicles off the road each month in Michigan. The typical vanpooler has at least a 30-minute drive or travels more than 10 miles one-way to work.

It’s easy to find a van just by searching online or by calling (800)VAN-RIDE (826-7433).

Oct 27, 2008

Laughable chamber attack ad against Hathaway reads like a bad parody

Here’s a surprise. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce is endorsing extremist rightwing activist judge Cliff Taylor over Judge Diane Marie Hathaway in the race for Michigan Supreme Court.

Not only that, they are running commercials statewide for Taylor to the tune of $2.5 million. The chamber endorsement is not surprising when you consider no individual has won a case against an insurance company or corporation in a decade in the court ran by the “Gang of Four.”

These ads are such a cliché they seem like almost an SNL parody, right down to the voice at the end that tells you to call the candidate and tell them to stop abusing puppies, stop pulling tags off of mattresses, stop stealing candy from babies or fill in the blank. The only difference in this ad is it has a woman narrating instead of a deep-voiced man trying to scare you.

The gist of the ad is Hathaway allegedly gave a sexual predator a light sentence. The last line is hilarious:
“Tell Diane Hathaway don’t give sexual predators light sentences.”

Apparently, the chamber missed the endorsement of the Michigan Association of Police Organizations who did so because of Hathaway's record on drug and sex crimes. She also has the endorsement of the Detroit Police Officers Association, Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans, Wayne County Prosecutor, Kym Worthy, Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith, Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel and Marquette County Prosecutor Gary Walk.

Newspaper editor ridicules campaign volunteers

As somebody who has spent countless hours phone banking and knocking on doors for political candidates over the last four years, I was both disturbed and offended at a recent opinion column by the General Manager of the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.

At the end of an opinion column by Rich Perlberg that covered a number of different topics, he tells us how he handles political volunteers who call his home advocating for their candidate:

The family gets a kick when a telemarketer calls our house, especially when its for a political family. Lately, I interrupt the scripted sales pitch to tell the caller how much we appreciate having our dinner conversation disrupted. It's not like we were talking about anything important.
Then I tell the caller that his or her boss (or political party) supported a law that makes it illegal for my company to make the very call that they are still allowed to make. If they are still listening, I tell them how I feel about politicians who make laws that they don't have to follow.
They generally hang up before I can tell them that their call has persuaded me to vote for their opponent.
It always breaks my family up. We are easily entertained.

Now, for full disclosure and before I am called a disgruntled former employee, I once worked for this company for six years, but I was let go four years ago.

But this really bothered me. I have been on the receiving end of those calls, I have made them and I have been a journalist covering politics. In 2006 I spent two days a week in Monroe, a battleground county, calling people for eight hours a day and then knocking on doors in the evening for another four hours. So I know how it feels to be insulted and called names on the phone. It’s not as bad at people’s doors, but it does happen. It takes an enormous amount of patience and self-control, but there is no better way to get your candidate elected than personal contact.

Here’s the difference, Rich, between a volunteer advocating for their favorite candidate and an out-of-state telemarketer you hire and pay to make more money for the corporation that happens to own the newspaper at the time.

The person calling on behalf of the political candidate is giving up their time to volunteer - unless it’s a robo call or push poll - to become involved in their community and wants a better place to live for them and their children. That goes for both political parties. Republicans are wrong on 99 percent of the issues and I question their tactics, but I know they love their country just as much as I and other liberals do. I will never be rude to a campaign volunteer who calls my home or come to my door, no matter who the candidate is.

I would suggest to Mr. Perlberg that if in the future a dedicated campaign volunteer calls his home, just politely say no thank you before they go into their “scripted sales pitch” so they can go on to the next person. Why waste your time and theirs if you are not interested? I would also suggest that if a paid telemarketer calls to do the same, so they can go on to the next person. After all, they are just trying to make a living.

Your family will have to find some different entertainment.

Halloween fun demonstrates how popular mass transit can be in Livingston County

Howell -- A fun seasonal weekend in Livingston County demonstrated why Washtenaw Livingston Line (WALLY) commuter rail line will be successful.

The plan is to establish a Howell-to-Ann Arbor rail link using the existing tracks owned by the Great Lakes Central Railroad. A coalition consisting of Washtenaw County, the City of Howell and the Greater Brighton Chamber of Commerce are behind the project.

Downtown Howell was overrun Saturday evening with more than 7,000 children and families dressed in their Halloween costumes for the 6th Annual Legend of Sleepy Howell. Grand River Avenue and the surrounding streets were closed down and kids went trick or treating, and there was a haunted alley, costume contests for both canines and people, hayrides, broom ball, scary story telling and even marshmallow roasting. One of the most popular attraction was the “Dreadful Depot and Terrifying Train.”

The train was actually one of the 10 stainless-steel bi-level passenger cars that will be used on the WALLY line. One half of the car was decorated, and one was not. People could tour the car, and many, like me, took advantage of the opportunity to see what it could be like reading the newspaper while traveling to work in comfort. I can’t wait to get a seat on the upper level. I already commute to work in Lansing with the Michivan, and I am just one of 12 people who ride the van. I like it, and it saves me money and hassle. It is so popular, that starting this week we are getting a larger van. Since I started riding in November, we have added two new riders.

I know the WALLY train will travel north and south, but someday, hopefully, the rail line will travel east and west.

Getting the train on line will not be easy, and the Livingston County Board of Commissioners decided not to provide any money to the project or to be a part of the coalition that wants to form a taxing authority. The shortsightedness of the all Republication board is just stunning. It seems ironic that the Livingston County GOP is spending some $20,000 to brag that the county has the lowest tax rate in the state and second highest bond rating with TV ads and billboards.

They should also get one that says the county has virtually zero services, and they are ensuring Livingston County is a bedroom community where people do little more than sleep here. If their children want post-secondary education they have to leave, if they want to go to a county park or want any of the other things neighboring counties like Washtenaw, Oakland or Ingham offer they must get in their car and drive out of the county. If gas had not fallen dramatically below the peak of $4 a gallon the county would have started to lose population as people had to move closer to their jobs out of economic necessity.

The good news is some people realize the benefits of mass transit, and they are putting their money where their mouths are. Howell Mayor Pro Tem Steve Manor and Council member and former Mayor Paul Rogers are paying for some 4,000 brochures with information on the WALLY line out of their own pockets that they will distribute.

They know that for every $1 invested in transit projects, $6-$8 is pumped back into the local economy. Among the things the brochure talks about is the $74 million of development that has taken place within three blocks of a new Grand Rapids transit center since 2004. Public transportation also reduces auto fuel consumption by approximately 1.5 billion gallons annually, lowering the nation’s trade deficit and reducing dependence on foreign. The fuel efficiency of a fully occupied rail car is 15 times greater than the average commuter single-occupant auto.

To see what kind of opposition the project is up against we have this quote from Livingston County Commissioner Dave Domas. He’s against the project even before the study was started. Domas is usually a very level-headed official who I have a lot of respect for. This is just further proof we need an alternative voice or two on the board.

"I was opposed to WALLY almost from the earliest phase when it was presented to us," Republican Commissioner Dave Domas said in a recent interview. "I don't mean to suggest the people who proposed or supported it were not being responsible or anything like that — in my judgment, a railroad line that runs, what, 27 miles with several stops in between is like a toy train system."

Oct 25, 2008

Schauer gives solid performance in first televised debate

In the first of three televised debates, State Sen. Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek, made a strong case on why he should be the next U.S. Congressman representing the 7th District, and his opponent offered nothing but his debunked attack ads.

The two squared off on live TV Saturday night in a debate at Jackson High School sponsored by Lansing TV station WLNS.

“There is a clear choice in this election,” Schauer said. “The choice is between the same old failed policies and my hands on approach. As your congressman I will wake up everyday trying to turn the economy around one job at a time.”

His opponent, extremist Republican Tim Walberg, used his opening statement to attack Schauer instead of talking about his polices and positions, and he used the same old debunked attacks, like the giving illegal immigrants driver’s license lie, Schauer was the deciding vote for the largest tax increase in history lie and even that he supported affirmative action. His closing statement was basically a rehash of the opening statement.

The questions came from a panel of three journalists and some from taped man-on-the- street interviews.

Walberg blamed the financial meltdown on President Clinton, falsely claiming he pushed legislation requiring lenders to give minorities loans they were not qualified for. He also voted against the bailout bill, but he had no alternative to solving the financial meltdown.

“One thing the Congressman is famous for is voting no, but hot having an alternative solution,” Schauer said.

One panelist asked what they would do about the $10 billion that is being spent a month in Iraq. Walberg still believes Saddam Hussein had something to do with the 9/11 attacks.

“That just demonstrates to me that the Congressman is not in touch with the facts,” Schauer said. “I have attended the funerals of five soldiers from Jackson and Calhoun Counties. We need to start getting out troops out of Iraq.”

A constituent asked the candidate’s position on the workplace smoking ban, including bars and restaurants, that’s before the Michigan Legislature. Schauer voted for the total ban that passed the Senate.

“I voted for this measure because it’s a public health issue,” he said.

Walberg, of course, is against the smoking ban, spouting blather about “Big Government” and “nanny state.”

Oct 24, 2008

Saturday offers opportunity to see and hear from Mark Schauer

Lenawee County residents have the opportunity to meet their next U.S. Congressmen with a pair of town hall meetings set for Saturday with current state Sen. Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek.

Schauer is leading his extremist opponent in the far-flung 7th Congressional District, but he is not quite as well-known in Tim Walberg's home county of Lenawee. But dedicated volunteers like me are changing that with the grunt work of going door-to-door.

You can meet Mark and still have time to see the MSU-Michigan football game on Saturday. Bring your friends and family, and especially undecided voters. He will be at the Lenawee County UAW Labor Hall, 1360 W Beecher St. in Adrian, at 12:30 p.m. Saturday Oct. 25. He will be in Blissfield at 2:30 p.m. at Beckey's Kountry Kitchen, 631 W Adrian – or US 223 across from the Coachlight Plaza. They have very good food; I have eaten there a few times.

Schauer will actually start the day in Hillsdale at the Hillsdale Community Library, 11 E. Bacon St., at 10 a.m.

The town halls will be a preclude to the first televised debate sponsored by Lansing TV station WLNS at 8 p.m. Saturday at Jackson High School, 544 Wildwood Ave, Jackson. It can also be viewed live at the station web site.

Other Town Hall meetings will be held Monday, Oct. 27 at 5:30 p.m. at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) hall at 7920 Jackson Rd. in Scio Township. He will be appearing with U.S. Sen. Carl Levin.

He will be in Battle Creek at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Barista Blues Cafe, 21 W. Michigan Ave. He will be with U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow at 5 p.m. Wednesday in Delta Township, 7711 W. Saginaw Hwy. He will be in Jackson at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Jackson Coffee Company, 201 S. Mechanic.

Who are the scheduling wizards who picked the same time as the Backyard Brawl

A group calling itself "The Our Country Deserves Better" PAC is trying to make up for John McCain's decision to abandon Michigan and is conducting a bus tour with 10 stops in Michigan.

The next to last stop will be a rally in my backyard on Saturday at the Mill Pond in downtown Brighton at 3:30 p.m. I do agree with the bus tour's premise that our country deserves better, especially after eight disastrous years of Bush "leadership," but it will not get it with Bush clone Grampy McSame.

As just one more example of how out of touch McSame and his supporters are, I kind of doubt they will get that big a crowd. I would be there just to show my support for Sen. Barack Obama, but I will be sitting in my Lazy-Boy chair in Howell at 3:30 watching the kick-off of the Michigan-Michigan State football game at the Big House. I suspect quite a few of my fellow Michiganders will do doing likewise. It makes you wonder who schedules that stuff.

If you want to see a real bus tour, today is the last day to see the National Bush Legacy Bus Tour when it rolls into Ann Arbor from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at South State Street and South University.

You would expect the McSame tour will find a big crowd in predominantly Livingston County, but a couple of recent stories in the local daily are showing Obama is leading McSame in raising money in GOP-rich Livingston County.

The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus reported another story that says Obama has increased his money lead, raising some $53,000 compared to McCain's $39,000 from November 2006 through Oct. 1, 2007. In the earlier story, county GOP chair Allan Filip used the ridiculous excuse that Obama is charging for yard signs. With a bigger money difference this time, Filip dropped that ridiculous excuse and has found another alibi. I know his job is to spin bad news like this – and like the news yesterday that the EPIC/MRA poll shows Obama's lead in Michigan has increased by 14 points –but give me a beak. At one point does spin become a lie?

This time Filip used the excuse that most county Republicans probably gave more money to Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. That may be true, but he is, of course, ignoring how close the race and how late it went between Obama and Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton. That race went all the way to April, and like Romney, she won in Michigan; granted, Obama's name was not on the ballot, but technically she won.

Speaking of former Republican Massachusetts Governors, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld endorsed Obama, citing the senator's steady leadership, good judgment and ability to unify Democrats, Republicans and independents. Weld was governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997. In fact, Weld campaigned for the Mittster before he yielded to McSame in February.

Weld joins other prominent Republicans endorsing Obama over McSame in the campaign's final weeks, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson and Scott McClellan, former press secretary to President Bush.

TV station bows to political pressure and censors political ad in Supreme Court race

CBS affiliate WWMT-TV in Kalamazoo censored political speech Thursday when it pulled the ad pointing out rightwing activist judge Cliff Taylor fell asleep when hearing the case of two mothers who lost six children in an apartment fire owned by the Detroit Housing Commission.

The add, called "The Fairly Tale of the Sleeping Judge," features the two mother's saying Taylor fell asleep during their case. They also filed an affidavit stating what they saw. But the attorney representing the Detroit Housing Commission also filed an affidavit saying he did not see Taylor nod off. The Housing commission, of coursed, won the case; no individual has won a case against an insurance company, municipality or corporation heard by the four activist judges known as the "Gang of Four" led by Taylor in a decade.

According to subscription only Gongwer, the decision to pull the ad came after station discussions with Alan Wilk, counsel for the Taylor campaign, and the Michigan Democratic Party. The campaign had asked all stations in the state to pull the ad, but only WWMT in predominantly Republican West Michigan bowed to political pressure and censored the ad.

I have already sent an email protesting the station's decision to censor political speech and knuckle to political pressure, and I urge you do the same. General Sales Manager James Wagner can be emailed at wagner@wwmt.com. To phone the station call (269) 388-3333 or toll free at (800) 875-3333.

Taylor's opponent, Judge Diane Marie Hathaway, continues to rack up endorsements, and yesterday she received several endorsements from local law enforcement leaders, each citing Hathaway's record on drug and sex crimes. Those endorsements include Detroit Prosecutor Kym Worthy and the Michigan Association of Police Organizations.

Oct 23, 2008

Walberg takes a dip in the sewer to try and keep his grip on his House seat

The spinning from extremist Tim Walberg and his rich alley, the Club for Growth, is spinning out of control as they see the 7th Congressional seat slipping away to Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek.

The latest attack has hit rock bottom for both taste and outright lying. The latest despicable ad goes even lower than the last one and it ads the new lie to the others that Schauer voted to send pornography to children. Walberg continues to try and draw comparisons between Schauer and Academy Award winning filmmaker and Michigan resident Michael Moore. I can guarantee you this: Michael Moore has done more for Michigan than Walberg has, and that includes Walberg's 16 years in the state House and two in the U.S. House. He has accomplished virtually nothing.

I debunked the last ad where Walberg lied and said Schauer voted to give illegal immigrants a driver's license in Michigan. That lie was easy to debunk, and this one will just as easy too.

In the 1990's when Schauer was still in the Michigan House he voted with the majority against a bill that would have made it more difficult distribute pornographic material over the Internet. It was a good thing he voted in the majority because he saved Michigan taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal fees defending a bill that was overturned as unconstitutional.

This is contrast to Walberg's dismal record in protecting children. He has repeatedly voted against health care for children. I guess he figured they can just go to the emergency room like he tells the other 47 million uninsured Americans.

In every commercial Walberg claims Schauer was the "deciding vote on the largest tax hike in Michigan history." There is absolutely noting true about that statement, and it contains two lies.

You will recall that the Legislature had to make up a $1.8 billion budget deficit last year. The Legislature finally had to confront the constant tax cuts over the years with no corresponding cuts in spending. After painful cuts had been made across the board, the only other cuts would have had to have been made to vital public services like healthcare, education and public safety. After a brief government shutdown in the wee hours of Oct. 1, 2007 the Senate voted 19-19 for a slight increase in the state income tax and a since repealed sales tax on services.

Schauer is the minority leader in the Senate, meaning the Democrats are the minority in the Senate. That, of course, means Democrats cannot get anything passed in the Senate on their own, and in order to get anything passed Republicans had to vote for it. In a tie vote, the President of the Senate has to cast the tie-breaking vote, so the Lt. Governor actually cast the deciding vote.

Second, it's not the "largest tax hike in Michigan history." That actually occurred under Republican Gov. George Romney when the state income tax was implemented in 1960.

If you want to talk about tax increases, look at the crazy scheme Walberg co-sponsored. The National Sales Tax that would have placed a 30 percent sales tax on everything from food and prescription drugs to cars and homes. The dangerous plan would have had a devastating effect on senior citizens, working families and the auto industry.

It's easy to see why Walberg is taking a swim in the gutter. A new internal GOP tally of U.S. House races has all but conceded the 7th District seat to the Democrats. The poll rates 66 House Republican seats, and the 7th District seat has been rated as "likely gone" and placed on the death list.

Quote of the Week: Ann Coulter-like Congress critter channels Joe McCarthy

If you ever wondered what would happen if anyone would be dumb enough to ever actually vote for rightwing hatemonger Ann Coulter we just need to look at the example of Minnesota rightwing Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

She is really out there, and she showed that on a recent episode of "Hardball with Chris Matthews" where she voiced the McCain campaign strategy that Sen. Barack Obama is somehow "un-American" because he doesn't share her extremist views. Unfortunately, her view is held by too many people who somehow believe if you don't agree with them you are un-American.

Bachmann apparently wants to bring back the Committee on Un-American Activities that made Red-baiter Joe McCarthy infamous. Apparently, Bachmann also worships the disgraced Senator just like Coulter does.

Bachmann has tried to deny the comments and blame it on the media because it may cost her the election. This Quote of the Week is dedicated to Michele M. Bachmann

"Absolutely. I'm very concerned that he may have anti-American views. That's what the American people are concerned about. That's why they want to know what his answers are. That's why Joe the plumber has figured so highly in the last few days."

"What I would say -- what I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America? I think people would love to see an expose like that."

Oct 22, 2008

Newspaper editorial board wants to throw out the primary election vote

The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus is apparently trying to undo the primary election for Hamburg Township Clerk.

Challenger Matt Skiba beat long-time incumbent Joanna Hardesty in the August Republican primary in Livingston County's most populous township. Voters were apparently unhappy with how the township is being run; only one incumbent will be coming back to the seven-person board next month; two if you count the trustee who unseated the supervisor in the GOP primary.

Apparently not happy with the primary loss, Hardesty filed to run as a write in, and after apparently taking the primary election campaign off and hoping to cruise on her incumbency, she is now campaigning and raising money. Why didn’t she do that in June, July or August? Hardesty is now claiming Skiba ran a "false and malicious" campaign designed to mislead voters.

In a stunning development, the paper is actually endorsing Hardesty in the General Election. Can someone please tell me the last time a write-in candidate won an election, especially in a municipality with some 22,000 people?

The paper said "voters made an error in August." So what the paper is saying is you dumb Republicans who took your civic responsibility seriously in August and took the time to cast your vote it should just be thrown out.

It goes on to attack Skiba, saying "running up $9,000 in credit card debt just before declaring individual bankruptcy in 2006 — should give voters pause when they are filling a job that handles taxpayer dollars."

What's' really amazing is they don't even bother to mention the name of the Democratic candidate that earned the right to run against the Republican until the last sentence (. Democratic challenger Debby Buckland is the most qualified candidate in the race, and it's amazing that the GOP-leaning editorial board not only failed to mention her, it backed a candidate that will not win.

Buckland has the work experience to do the job and the personal attributes to be successful. Her campaign has been clean, and she is a team player, an experienced administrator, has a positive outlook and can work with a diverse group of people. This board dearly needs another voice and a non-rubber stamp.

LSJ Journal urges readers to oust Taylor from broken Michigan Supreme Court

The Lansing State Journal is the latest newspaper to endorse Judge Diane Marie Hathaway to help fix the broken and politicized Michigan Supreme Court.

Hathaway is squaring off against rightwing Republican Cliff Taylor, and he leads the partisan majority of activist judges known unaffectingly as the "Gang of Four" that have slammed the door to the courts shut to all but insurance companies and the richest corporations. If fact, the LSJ endorsed Hathaway's candidacy "as a way to protect the rights of Michigan residents against the assaults of the Taylor-led court."

The newspaper also said "The most important vote a Michigan resident can cast this fall is to oust Chief Justice Clifford Taylor from the Michigan Supreme Court." That would be a blow for justice, so be sure to flip your ballot over and vote in the nonpartisan section for Judge Hathaway.

Michigan Republican Chair Saul Anuzis is doing more than spinning over a TV ad that accused Taylor of sleeping during oral arguments on the bench in a case where six children died in a house fire. In the case, McDowell vs. City of Detroit, the two mothers of the dead children said that Taylor fell asleep during their case. What's Anuzis's answer? The mother's are lying.

He's all class.

ACS Bus Tour will make a stop Downriver to fight against smoking

For those pushing for healthy, smoke free air, increased cancer research and quality health car for all Americans, an opportunity to show your support for those worthy goal will come Thursday when the Fight Back Express Bus Tour will be making a stop in Southgate from 1-1:30 p.m. Thursday as part of six-month, 48-state tour carrying the message "We’ve waited long enough. It’s time for Michigan to go smoke free in 2008."

The bus will stop at Carrabba’s Italian Grill, 14805 Dix-Toledo Rd., where State Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, will speak briefly and a brief ceremony honoring Carrabba’s commitment to smoke free dining will be held. All supporters of clean, healthy air should come out and show their support for the ban and urge the Michigan Legislature to take up and pass House Bill 4163 that will ban smoking in all workplaces, including bars and restaurants.

The Fight Back Express Tour is sponsored by the American Cancer Society, and the tour kicked off in Ohio in early May and will travel across the 48 continental United States through Election Day, Nov. 4. The ACS CAN Fight Back Express is a mobile action center. At each bus stop, visitors will have the chance to share their story with their local lawmakers through the Picture A Cure program.

HB 4163 than bans smoking in workplaces failed to get enough votes to be approved and sent to the governor last month, despite getting a majority of votes. The vote was to concur with the Senate passed version of HB 4163 approved in May that had no exceptions to the bill. It needed a majority of those 110 members elected and serving - 56 votes - to pass, but it only passed 50-49 with 10 not voting and one abstaining. The bill is expected to be taken up in the Lame Duck session following the election.

Oct 21, 2008

The Great Debates continue for those candidates flying solo

With just two weeks before the historic General Election, The Center for Michigan and Detroit Public TV are winding down their inaugural series of televised debates between Michigan House candidates dubbed "The Great Debates."

The series began last month with candidates squaring off in 30-minute, fixed-format debates taped at DPTV’s Detroit studios with a panel of state journalists moderating and asking the questions. The debates are being aired on PBS and available on line at the sponsor's web sites. It was hoped to feature all of the 110 contested House seats. They fell short of that goal, but the concept is a good one and can be called a success.

As the election approaches, the format has changed as some candidates declined to appear for various reasons, and the format has evolved into a panel discussion for those candidates whose opponent has decline for whatever reason.

The current debate airing features Livingston County Democrat Donna Anderson running for the open 66th District House seat. As you may know her opponent, Republican Bill Rogers, backed out of an earlier commitment. Anderson is accusing Rogers of ignoring voters and coasting on the fact that Livingston County is predominantly Republican and on his family name. His excuse is that that work commitments caused him to cancel, but that seems flimsily.

I understand that often the front runner prefers not to debate in order not to give their opponents any free publicity at their expense, but this does not seem to fit that bill. If U.S. Sen. Carl Levin can agree to debate a nobody like Jack Hoogendyk, then Rogers can surely carve out 30 minutes of his busy schedule to speak to voters. Plus, it's a public service.

Regardless, you can watch Anderson on line now appearing in a panel with Republican Sandra Eggers and Democrat Robert Murphy running for the open 36th District 36 seat that covers Romeo and Shelby Township.

Also on tap is a separate forum featuring Republican Neil DeBlois, Republican Edith Floyd, Republican Eric Lielbriedis and Democrat Mark Venie running for the open 44th District seat that covers parts of Highland, White Lake and Clarkston.

Next week will feature Democrat Rep. Tim Melton, D-Pontiac, Republican David MiCola and Republican Jason Balaska. That will air from 3-5 p.m. on Oct. 26 and online.

Oct 20, 2008

Obama raises more cash from individuals in predominately Republican Livingston County

The Livingston County Press & Argus did a nice piece of journalism using Open Secrets to report that Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama has raised more money in predominantly Republican Livingston County that GOP nominee John McCain.

According to the report, Obama had raised $35,637 through Sept. 21; more than $3,300 that McCain‘s $32,267 in individual donations. It’s rather surprising because the county has long been a GOP stronghold, and the last time the county went for a Democrat was in 1964, choosing President Johnson over conservative icon Sen. Barry Goldwater.

The joke, originated by an editor at the newspaper itself, was that Livingston County Democrats could hold their meetings in a phone booth. It appears we will need a larger and more lavish phone booth.

The county’s Representative in Congress since 2000 has been a Republican, both state Representative and the state Senator are Republicans, all the members of the County Board of Commissioner are Republicans, all county-wide partisan offices are held by Republicans and only some five partisan township offices are held by Democrats. In light of that, Obama winning the money race is huge.

The spin Livingston County GOP Chair Allan Filip put on it is embarrassing. Since taking over as the chair of the county party less than two years ago, he has come out with some unbelievable whoppers, but this one is right up there. He claims it’s because the Obama campaign is charging for yard signs,

All I have to say to that is a lot of people must be paying a lot of money for those signs.

"What I do know is what could be contributing to some of that is he was charging for collateral, such as yard signs," Filip said. "Just out of speculation, that could be a part of it. I think the reason why he was doing it was because he was trying to get his total number of small donations up.

You are embarrassing yourself. The McCain campaign also charges for yard signs as well. I like their classy “nobama” signs, and for a mere $8.95 you can have one.

Better buy a lot of make up that $3,000.

Rightwing anti-union blogger may get more ammo to attack Howell teachers

Livingston County Circuit Court Judge Stanley Latreille ruled that an estimated 5,500 e-mails written by Howell Education Association (HEA), the union representing the teachers, on school computers are public record and can be released at the discretion of Howell Public Schools administrators, according to the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.

You may recall that rightwing Republican blogger and anti-union activist Chetly Zarko filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to get copies of the emails written by union leaders on school computers. The district released the emails he was not supposed to receive without regard to student confidentially or attorney-client privilege. The HEA filed suit to stop the illegal release of the emails in May 2007.

Zarko used the information to claim the union was using school property illegally and other baseless attacks, but that was quickly debunked because the distinct has a “recognized right” to use the computers.

Zarko has come up with a new charge, and according to the P & A:

“Zarko said he expects to find communications about a small percentage of teachers who wanted to accept an additional 1 percent pay increase on top of what was offered instead of the union-affiliated health benefits, which was a sticking point during negotiations and resulted in HEA protests at school board meetings. This is a matter facing many school districts in Michigan, he said.”

Who cares? There is nothing more democratic in the workplace than a labor union. The union leaders who negotiate the contract are elected by the union membership and the actual contract must be ratified by a vote of the membership. What does it really matter what a “small percentage of teachers” said or think; other than to other HEA members?

What is even funnier is how the newspaper describes Zarko. It calls him “an Oakland County researcher.” His two main goals are to get ink and to bust unions. When he does get mainstream media coverage, they all fail to mention his anti-union ties and his ties to the racist “Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.” He runs a Facebook group pushing the union busting so-called “right to work” law.

As Election Day gets closer volunteers get going

MADISON TOWNSHIP -- With just two weeks until election day, its nitty-gritty time, and I experienced some of that while knocking doors for the Mark Schauer for Congress campaign in his opponent’s home county of Lenawee County on Sunday.

The Michigan Senate minority Leader is leading extremist Republican Tim Walberg in the polls in the spread out 7th U.S. congressional District, but the going is beginning to get tough. Most elections are won in the trenches, on the phones and on the doorsteps of voters. This late in the game, volunteers are going back to doors that have already been knocked on and the people were undecided or were not home. That made it less pleasant for me than in other trips in Adrian and Tecumseh, but worth every minute to elect a person like Mark Schauer.

Generally, people are not rude when you are at their front door, but I had three or four people tell me they were not interested. That was also worth it because it just means we will not contact them for get out the vote. Getting down to the nitty-gritty also makes it tough on the legs, and I got my daily dose of exercise. Houses are now further part, and because I walked in a township that is more rural, there are no sidewalks with large setbacks. That gives you a long walk up a long driveway.

I also saw the orange Walberg yard signs for the first time. There weren’t nearly as many as there were Schauer signs, especially when you consider this is Walberg’s backyard.

There was some positive press for Schauer here in Livingston County. The Daily Press & Argus finally caught on to Schafer’s ties to Livingston County. I know they have known about that for some time. Plus, a press release earlier this month announced Howell’s last two Republican state Representatives were endorsing the 1980 Howell High School graduate. I guess they were waiting to use the information until they could find a positive story for their favorite son Mike Rogers, who represents the 8th Congressional District.

The paper did a cutesy story about how both Rogers and Schauer were on the same football team at Howell.

The Schauer campaign is gearing up for the all important get out the vote activities beginning November 1, and they are looking for volunteers to knock on doors, phone bank, be a poll watcher, be a driver or runner or host volunteers. For those who want to volunteer in the eastern part of the 7th District can call (517) 417-6275. For those in the western part call (517) 316-7887

Oct 17, 2008

Hamburg Township candidate debate features some interesting races

Just 15 days before an historic election, the Pinckney, Hamburg, Lakeland and Hell Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a Candidate Debate at 6 p.m. Monday at the Hamburg Township Hall, 10405 Merrill Road.

The ambitious debate will feature all party candidates, or their representatives, from the U.S. Senate down to township candidates and District Court Judicial candidates. The debate will be moderated by local realtor Rick Beaudin, and the debate will be divided in half hour blocks by races all the way until 10:30 p.m. It will also be broadcast live over Channel 18, Hamburg Township Television. It will be re-broadcasts over Channel 18 periodically beginning October 27 and running November 3. DVD copies can be purchased at the township hall for $15 after completing a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request.

The debate will feature candidates or surrogates for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House races. It will also feature the race for the state House in the open 47th District; the County Commission seat for the 8th District featureing Democrat Dave Buckland and Republican Dennis Dolan; the 53rd District Judicial race featuring Judge Theresa Brennan and Jay Drick; and Hamburg and Putnam Township Boards.

One of the more interesting races is the race for the Hamburg Township Clerk. That seat features Democrat Debby Buckland and Republican Matt Skiba. Skiba unseated long-time Clerk Joanna Hardesty in the August GOP primary in a contentious race. Hardesty is running as a write in campaign, and she will be part of the debate.

Hardesty claims Skiba ran a "false and malicious" campaign designed to mislead voters. There is a massive effort underway from her volunteers, and they have raised a decent amount of money. I have never heard of a write in candidate winning a race, especially after losing to the same person when both of their names were on the ballot. The best thing that could happen for the township would be if Hardesty and Skiba split the vote and Buckland wins the office. They could use some diversity on the board. I have seen Buckland's ability up close, and she is more than qualified to do a good job.

In other debates, the Livingston County Press and Argus is sponsoring a candidate’s debate at 6 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Brighton Center for the Performing Arts at Brighton High School, 7878 Brighton Rd.

Shortsighted Township Board refuses to pitch in fair share for mass transit rail line project

The Hamburg Township Board followed the shortsighted example of the Livingston County Board of Commissioners and turned down a request to kick in $1,0000 last week for an environmental review of the proposed site of a train depot for the Washtenaw Livingston Line (WALLY) commuter rail line from Howell to Brighton.

The all-Republican Board of Commissioners voted last month not to contribute any funds, and to also not be a part of the coalition that wants to form a taxing authority. The all-GOP Township Board was asked to pitch in a mere $1,000 for the station proposed for the Featherly Road extension east of Hamburg Road, and the reaming $6,488 would be picked up by the other entities in the project. The answer was apparently, thanks but no thanks to the $6,488.

Partners in the project include the City of Howell, the Greater Brighton Chamber of Commerce, Washtenaw County and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority.

Before any of the $500,000 in federal funds for station design and improvements can be spent, environmental clearance is required. It would consist of, according to an October 8 memo from Hamburg Township Supervisor Cindy pine, a review of historical documents and a limited field survey or dig to rule out any archeological remains.

A move to establish a mass transit hub in Howell and Livingston County has been ongoing since the mid 1990's, but there was hope this latest effort would succeed because of the strong commitment of the coalition members, high gas prices and the backups experienced along U.S. 23, the north/south highway to Ann Arbor where many Livingston County residents work.

Plans for a rail line between Ann Arbor and Detroit are steaming along, and the Ann Arbor to Detroit Regional Rail Project could see its first train hit the rails in just over a year. The effort in Livingston County remains derailed by shortsighted government officials, and a link all the way to Detroit remains a dream. With these two boards we see the danger of having just one party on the board for so long, and another voice would be a breath of fresh air.

Oct 16, 2008

GOP and their allies are pulling out all the stops to bust unions

With Senator Barack Obama taking a wider leader after last night's debate and poll results showing that the Democrats will maintain control of the U.S. House and Senate Democrats poised to pick up a veto proof 60-seat majority in the Senate, Republicans and their allies are panicking and doing their best to fool people over the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).

The Grand Oil Party and their bankrupt cronies are using the false mantra "Protect the workers' right to a secret ballot" to pull the wool over people's eyes. Michigan GOP Chair Saul Anuzis uses that line in his daily dose of propaganda that he posts on his "blog." No wonder he does not allow comments on that thing he calls a blog.

The U.S. House passed the EFCA with a clear majority vote of 228-183 in March of 2007, but the minority Senate Republicans blocked a vote in the Senate.

Under current U.S. law, if more than 50 percent of employees certify their desire for representation, then a union can choose to form using card check procedures by signing a card and the employer would have to recognize the bargaining unit. However, the employer does not have to recognize the card check petition of the majority and can veto the majority and require a secret-ballot vote overseen by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and it does every single time. Under the proposed Employee Free Choice Act, an employer could only challenge a card check petition if fraud or illegal coercion was alleged.

Once the workers indicate they want a union, the employer calls for an election, and then the intimidation, threats of closure, threats of firing and actual firing begin. Many companies have special teams or flying squads that come in and work to defeat the vote. That includes actually firing organizers, forcing employees to go to mandatory meetings where the union is bashed and threats are made to actual physical violence. They also offer token raises and befits that can easily be rescinded after the union threat has passed.

Union organizers are left to try and reach employers with flyers as they zoom out of the parking lot while the employer has unfettered access.

A union is the most democratic institution in the workplace where the leaders and the contract are voted on. What the GOP and its lackeys want to do is to keep the playing field title to their advantage, and the Employee Free Choice Act works to level it.

In addition to the MIGOP propaganda, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been flooding the airwaves with ads that parrot the GOP mantra in an attempt to stifle union organizing efforts. The Chamber has long been leading the cause of union busting, and this is just one more link in the chain. It's funny that GOP VP nominee Sarah "Spiro" Palin is trotting out her husband's union membership at rallies, but she is leading the charge to bust unions. She knows that the majority of Americans know unions helped create the middle class and raised the standard of living for all.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, has gone so far as telling its employees not to vote for Democrats in the 2008 election, especially Obama. The giant, anti-union and anti-worker retailer uses its regular meetings with employees to drive that message home. Wal-Mart is one company notorious for flying squads that come in at the slightest whiff of workers organizing.

The EFCA also addresses companies simply refusing to bargain in good faith and dragging their feet until workers must come back to work or take what ever is offered or starve. If the company and union are not able to reach agreement within 90 days, either party may ask the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) to step in. If after 30 days of mediation the FMCS cannot resolve the dispute, it gets referred to an arbitrator whose ruling is binding for two years.

The EFCA also protects those workers who were targeted by anti-union employers who fire them for union activities. There are currently no consequences for a company who illegally fires an employee who supports the union. The new law will require the NLRB to take legal action to immediately reinstate workers fired for union activity. Companies that punish or fire employees for lawful union activity would have to pay triple damages.

Oct 15, 2008

Cox used AG's office for partisan attack

If you want to see a double standard at work, just take a look at Republican Attorney General Mike Cox.

He announced yesterday in media all across the state that he is charging Antonio Johnson, a former employee of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), with six felony forgery charges for allegedly submitting false voter registration forms to the city of Jackson. Cox claims that Johnson, 23 of Hamtramck, filled out, signed and submitted to the Jackson city clerk six voter applications using two Jackson residents' names without their permission between May 20 and June 2. If convicted, Johnson faces up to 14 years in prison for each of the six counts.

The question is why hasn't Cox brought charges against Leon Drolet - the former Republican state Representative, current Macomb County Commissioner and executive director of the so-called Michigan Taxpayers Alliance (MTA) - for his illegal activities in the misguided recall attempts against primarily Democratic lawmakers who voted to increase taxes to avoid a government shutdown and eliminate a $1.8 million budget deficit in October.

Drolet used - or at least those he was responsible for used - fraud and forgery – going so far as to copy names from phone books – to launch a successful recall against Speaker of the House Andy Dillon. The Department of State turned all evidence of forgery and fraud over to Cox and the Wayne County prosecutor’s office, yet we have not heard a thing from him.

This is part of the Grand Oil Party's war on ACORN, and this is happening for two reasons. They hate ACORN for daring to help make it easier for people to exercise their Constitutional right to vote, and the party that has made voter suppression an art form is setting up ACORN as a scapegoat for when they lose the White House next month by claiming the election was stolen.

As I have said before, ACORN hires people to collect voter registrations and pays them for each one. The crime of the people collecting registrations is padding their pay check, and they should be fired or charged with a misdemeanor, not imprisoned. The unofficial blog of the GOP is even going as far as claming Johnson is a convicted felon on parole. I'm not a 100 percent sure that is correct because there are a few Antonio Johnson's out there, but the one pictured from the MDOC offender tracker web site did some three years for addiction. It seems the idiot who runs that blog wants offenders thrown into prison forever with no chance of rehabilitation or a job when they get out.

That seems surprising when you consider how the GOP makes heroes of convicted felons, like Oliver North, convicted terrorist G. Gordon Liddy and Rush Limbaugh.

The GOP is even trying to tie Sen. Barack Obama to ACORN as they vilify the organization. This is an organization that has worked to improve the lives of low- and moderate-income people since 1970, and it's being unjustly smeared in the name of politics. It’s funny that Grampy McSame was the keynote speaker at an ACORN-sponsored Immigration Rally in Miami in 2006 where he praised ACORN, and now he is smearing them. Is there anything he will not do to get elected?

What we have seen against ACORN is the unprecedented politicization of the U.S. Justice Department and the attorney firings, and now the Michigan AG's office is being turned into a partisan attack mechanism.

Quote of the Week: McCain pals around with terrorists

This installment of Quote of the Week is dedicated to Grampy McSame and his fading memory.

He apparently forgot that he actually "pals around with terrorists" not just serve on a board with a person where he has no control of. I am referring, of course, to McSame's friendship with convicted Watergate burglar and domestic terrorist G. Gordon Liddy. The convicted terrorist has even gone as far as hosting a fundraiser for McSame in his home.

Former Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein, who with Bob Woodward broke the Watergate story that revealed the corruptness of the Nixon White House, wrote in his syndicated column recently that when respected University of Illinois at Chicago Professor Bill Ayers was a member of the Weather Underground, Liddy was making plans to firebomb a Washington think tank, assassinate a prominent journalist, undertake the Watergate burglary, break into the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist and kidnap anti-war protesters at the 1972 Republican convention.

"Well, you know, I'm proud of you. I'm proud of your family. I'm proud to know your son, Tom, who's a great and wonderful guy. And it's always a pleasure for me to come on your program, Gordon. And congratulations on your continued success and adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great," Republican Presidential candidate Grampy McSame to convicted Watergate burglar and domestic terrorist G. Gordon Liddy when he appeared on Liddy's radio show in May, 2007.

Oct 14, 2008

Political pundit predicts huge seat advantage for House Democrats next month

Michigan House Democrats will build on their 58-52 seat lead next month, according to Bill Ballanger in the latest edition of Inside Michigan Politics.

Ballanger is the editor and publisher of IMP, and the former state lawmaker and respected political pundit is going even farther on predictions he made in January and June that the Democrats will retain control of the House by an astounding margin of 70-40. Ballanger said according to a quartet of micro polls commissioned by East Lansing based Practical Political Consulting, the decision by Grampy McSame to abandon Michigan will have a negative effect on some vulnerable Democratic seats.

The Republicans went from controlling the House for more than a decade and wining one of the largest majorities in many years in 2002 to suffering the worst back-to-back election cycles since the early 1940s that culminated with the loss of the House in November 2006.

The McSame pullout is also having some positive results in the race for the U.S. House. The non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report upgraded the race between Democrat Gary Peters and Joe Knollenberg to "Tossup/Tilt Democratic." The race had previously been rated “Lean Republican.” A separate poll conducted by Grove-Insight for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) shows Peters ahead of Knollenberg 46-37 percent.

The race between Democrat Mark Schauer and extremist Tim Walberg is a toss up, and a recent poll by Myers Research & Strategic Services shows the Senate Minority Leader is leading Walberg by ten points, 46 to 36 percent.

Same old smear, different format

One good thing – or bad depending on your point of view – of being a former journalist is I get lots of emails that I would not normally get. I always wanted as much information from as many sources as possible because you never know if something will trigger a story. Sometimes I get the ugly, false and outright racist emails that are floating around smearing Sen. Barack Obama. This one is typical. Although this is a new smear, it plays on the same old prejudices that are now being whipped up by opponents of Sen. Obama.

Can you pick witch(sic) name doesn't belong ?

1.. George Washington, 1789-1797
2.. John Adams, 1797-1801
3.. Thomas Jefferson, 1801-1809
4.. James Madison, 1809-1817
5.. James Monroe, 1817-1825
6.. John Quincy Adams, 1825-1829
7.. Andrew Jackson, 1829-1837
8.. Martin Van Buren, 1837-1841
9.. William Henry Harrison, 1841
10.. John Tyler, 1841-1845
11.. James Knox Polk, 1845-1849
12.. Zachary Taylor, 1849-1850
13.. Millard Fillmore, 1850-1853
14.. Franklin Pierce, 1853-1857
15.. James Buchanan, 1857-1861
16.. Abraham Lincoln, 1861-1865
17.. Andrew Johnson, 1865-1869
18.. Ulysses Simpson Grant, 1869-1877
19.. Rutherford Birchard Hayes, 1877-1881
20.. James Abram Garfield, 1881
21.. Chester Alan Arthur, 1881-1885
22.. Grover Cleveland, 1885-1889
23.. Benjamin Harrison, 1889-1893
24.. Grover Cleveland, 1893-1897
25.. William McKinley, 1897-1901
26.. Theodore Roosevelt, 1901-1909
27.. William Howard Taft, 1909-1913
28.. Woodrow Wilson, 1913-1921
29.. Warren Gamaliel Harding, 1921-1923
30.. Calvin Coolidge, 1923-1929
31.. Herbert Clark Hoover, 1929-1933
32.. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933-1945
33.. Harry S. Truman, 1945-1953
34.. Dwight David Eisenhower 1953-1961
35.. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1961-1963
36.. Lyndon Baines Johnson, 1963-1969
37.. Richard Milhous Nixon, 1969-1974
38.. Gerald Rudolph Ford, 1974-1977
39.. James Earl Carter, Jr., 1977-1981
40.. Ronald Wilson Reagan, 1981-1989
41.. George Herbert Walker Bush, 1989-1993
42.. William Jefferson Clinton, 1993-2001
43.. George Walker Bush, 2001-
44.. Barack Hussein Obama, Jr

And he says he is not a Muslim????? Please think about America: "IN GOD WE TRUST'S! Future.........or it will be, America: "IN ALLAH WE TRUST" Will his oath be taken on a Bible? or on the Koran? Will he say, One Nation Under GOD? or will he say, One Nation Under Allah?

America was created by our forefathers UNDER GOD! NOT ALLAH!

The answer is clear to me: Number 43 does not belong. There's no sense in defending Sen. Obama against the charges of being a Muslim because it does not, or should not matter. However, it seems ironic that he was hammered because of the views of his Christian minister, but in the same breath he's now called a Muslim.

I'm far from a religious expert, but the notion pushed by the rightwing that the U.S. was founded by Christians as a Christian nation does not ring true. I seem to recall early settlers fled here for religious freedom, and that includes freedom from religion. I have also read that the early presidents and founders were generally Deists or Unitarians, believing in some form of impersonal Providence but rejecting the exact teachings of the Christian church. I have also read that no where in the U.S. Constitution - other than the 1st Amendment that bars establishing a state religion - Christianity, God or Jesus are not mentioned anywhere.

PS. The national motto is "In God we Trust."

Oct 13, 2008

Palin shares abuse of power gene with Bush Administration

If we need any more proof that a Grampy McSame administration will be nothing but a repeat of the crooked, secretive and incompetent Bush Administration, we now have the results of the investigation of the Alaska Legislative Council that found that Sarah “Spiro” Palin violated state ethics laws and abused her power by trying to have her former brother-in-law fired as a state trooper.

Like Bush, Palin ignored the Constitution and did whatever it took to get what she wanted, and we see the absolute vindictiveness against people she and her husband perceived as wronged them. Granted, this is not illegal wiretapping, torture of prisoners or starting an illegal and unnecessary war, but given how small Alaska is, this is the best - or worse - Palin could do.

Could you imagine the havoc Palin and her husband Todd would cause with the power of the IRS and the already politicized Department of Justice in their hands? It’s as scary as having a totally inexperienced person like Palin as the Commander-in-chief.

Palin is also following the example of the incompetent Bush Administration by releasing a much anticipated report on a Friday when it’s hoped not as many people are paying attention and news rooms only have skeleton crews.

According to the Associated Press, the report said the inquiry looked into Palin's dismissal of Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan, who was fired because he resisted pressure to fire a state trooper involved in a bitter divorce and custody battle with the governor's sister. The retired prosecutor hired to conduct the investigation, said Monegan's firing was lawful. But the pressure Palin and her husband put on him was not.

According to the report, it was her husband, Todd, who led the charge. “Todd Palin had extraordinary access to the governor's office and her closest advisers and he used that access to try to get Wooten fired Gov. Palin knowingly "permitted Todd to use the Governor's office and the resources of the Governor's office, including access to state employees, to continue to contact subordinate state employees in an effort to find some way to get Trooper Wooten fired," Branchflower's report reads.

It’s kind of funny, Palin is McSame’s attack dog spreading hateful lies and whipping the crowds up into a frenzy of hatred, and apparently Todd Palin is the attack dog for his wife.

The McSame campaign failed in its attempt to block the report until after the election, but they immediately tried to spin it as politically motivated and an attempt to tarnish the GOP VP candidate. That ignores, of course, the fact that the investigation began when no one had any idea Palin was even being considered as a VP candidate.

This is just more proof that conservatives cannot govern. I’m reading a great book by John Dean, the former Richard Nixon legal counsel, called “Broken Government.” The gist of the book is how Republican rule has destroyed the three branches of government.

This report shatters the farce that Palin is a reformer, and what she really is, is the queen of earmarks, and Dean’s book highlights how the Grand Oil Party used earmarks as bribes.

In the book, Dean talks about how earmarks increased under GOP rule and how it was used to pay off lobbyists for their role in the K Street scandal. Dean says over the past 50 years there have been 9,242 earmarks in highway bills. Of those, 8,505 or 92 percent have been inserted in the three highway bills enacted since Republicans took the House 10 years ago prior to 2007. That’s how we got the infamous bridge to nowhere that Palin lied about when she said she said, “Thanks but no thanks” failing to revel she took the money anyway.