Aug 31, 2008

Pair of local stories illustrate the ridiculous notion of the ‘Liberal media’

I continue to be amazed that people continue to try and float the ridiculous Nixonsque political strategy of the “liberals media.”

It has worked so well that reporters - I know because I was once one of them - work so hard to disprove that disgusting, false label that their reporting is skewed so far right it’s not funny. When you add the fact that 99.9 percent of the traditional media outlets are owned by a few large corporations, the media can truly be called conservative.

We see an excellent example of that in Sunday’s edition of the Livingston County Daily Press and Argus in a pair of pieces from reporter Kristofer Karol. He does an article on Republican presidential candidate Grampy McSame‘s desperation pick of small time mayor Sarah Palin as his VP.

In the article he quotes all local Republican leaders. Not one Democrat is quoted. That would seem to make the article a little one-sided. But it’s their candidate, so it may be nit-picking to criticize. The best quote is from Bill Rogers, the chair of the county Board of Commissioners and the Republican candidate for the 66th District state House seat. He says the pick of Palin is a political ply. I agree, at least with half of his argument.

“To me, this is all a political ploy," Rogers said. "They're going to say she's a novice, which then we ... see that the (Democratic) presidential hopeful is a novice, so it kind of killed that argument."

That’s in sharp contrast to his brother, Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, who toes the party lie:
"As a popular maverick governor who fought corruption, Governor Palin has demonstrated she shares Senator McCain's independence and dedication to fix a broken Washington.”

Is this the same Washington a member of the Keating 5 has been a part of for almost 30 years?

I don’t agree with many of Bill’s positions, but I respect him. If he’s elected, it will be refreshing to have someone who will represent all of the people in the 66th District, not just Republicans.

Judy Daubenmier, chair of the Livingston Country Democratic Party, has an excellent analysis of the article on her blog LivingBlue

There is also a story in the same edition by the same reporter on Democratic Presidential Nominee Sen. Barack Obama’s historic acceptance speech called “Area Dems inspired by Obama's speech.”

The problem here is the article quotes three Republicans in the story - all three were also quoted in the Palin story - and all three, of course, toe the party lie that Obama is just a good speaker and nothing else. Term-limited state Rep. Joe Hune’s quote is the most ridiculous, who says it was just fluff. This from a man who has done little in he state House besides collect a paycheck for six years.

“"I compare him to (Gov. Jennifer) Granholm: A lot of fluff," Hune said.

The story only quotes three Democrats, and the obvious question is why quote Republicans in this story and not quote Democrats in the Palin story?

The other disturbing thing is the Democratic quotes were collected at the convention watching party held Thursday at Memories Lounge and Restaurant in Brighton. I was there, and Mr. Karol was there too because I saw him. Why not talk about the excitement there, the overflow crowd or the volunteers making calls to undecided voters at the event?

Why the imbalance? I know reporters on small and mid-size daily newspapers have to churn out lots of copy on tight deadlines, buy one more phone call or two less would have added balance to both stories.

Aug 29, 2008

McCain VP choice is just one more example of pandering

The subtext for Grampy McSame's decision to choose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, 44, as his running mate has to be he can no longer criticize Barack Obama for his alleged inexperience or is there anything he will not do or say to win what he calls the prize?

The choice of Palin – who outside of the populace state of Alaska who has heard of her – means he cannot say Obama is inexperienced. The former Miss Alaska runner up has only served a pair of 2-yer terms on the Wasilla City Council – population 5,470 – and six years as mayor. She has then served a total of two years as Governor. Does that make her ready to lead the free world?

Grampy's choice of a woman is the worst kind of pandering to go after the women upset that Hilary Clinton did not win the Democratic nomination. It seems to me he thinks voters, and especially women voters, are stupid, and they just vote for a candidate for their gender.

Convention watching party brings out new faces and volunteers

BRIGHTON – Barack Obama knocked it out of the park, literately, in his acceptance speech Thursday night in front of more than 80,000 people at Mile High Stadium in Denver and millions more watching on TV.

I was one of those watching on TV, but I got to share that historic moment with a room full of dedicated and excited Democrats at a convention watching party – one of thousands all across the country – sponsored by the Barack Obama Campaign for Change at Memories Lounge and Restaurant.

There were more than a 100 people there to watch the historic event, and it was so crowded, it spilled over onto the dance floor where another large screen TV was set up. As you came in and checked in, people were given a package and asked to call 10 people to ask and encourage them to watch the first African-American to accept a major party nomination for President on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech and march on Washington. We combined fun with some campaigning.

It was fun and moving to share that moment with my fellow Democrats. Field Reps from the Obama campaign were on hand, and sales of Obama t-shirts and buttons were brisk. What was even more exciting to me was how few people I knew.

I go to almost every function of the Livingston County Democratic Party, so I know most of the county Democrats – who are currently the minority party in Livingston County – either by name or by face. So, I was pleasantly surprised that I knew so few people. Everyone at my table began the evening as strangers. I met a very nice couple from Pinckney who are loyal Democrats and anxious to begin volunteering. This bodes well for Obama and the future of Livingston County.

The speeches were fantastic. I was even moved by the personal stories of the everyday people who came up to tell their story, like the auto worker from Taylor. The thought that immediately came to mind for me was how calm they were facing 80,000 people and speaking like they were talking to their neighbor across the fence. Is there anything scarier than public speaking? The only thing I can think of is four more years of Bush/McCain.

My favorite was Barney Smith from Marion, Ind., whose job was shipped offshore. My wife lived in that area until her parents had the good sense to move to Michigan when she was just four, but he had one of the best lines of the night: "We need a president who cares as much about Barney Smith as Smith Barney."

Obama clearly made a great case for why he should be president. But I will let my friends at Michigan Liberal and Blogging for Michigan who were there describe the moving and practical speech.

Aug 28, 2008

Ambassador Bridge Company says blame Canada

LANSING – I almost expected to see Sheila Broflovski in the Capitol hearing room on Wednesday during a hearing of the Senate ad hoc panel convened to look into the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) march in and sing "Blame Canada" from "South Park the Movie."

Representatives from the private Ambassador Bridge Company that owns the international crossing blamed the Canadian government for refusing to give them a permit to land the new twin bridge they plan to build, and they accused Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) officials of lying and conspiring to take away their business.

"It's clear to everyone in the room that Canada is driving the bus," said Ambassador Bridge Company president Dan Stamper. "It's clear MDOT succumbed to pressure from Canada."

The conflict over DRIC is holding up the transportation budget, and the committee is supposed to make a recommendation to the Senate Majority Leader by Sept. 5 on DRIC funding and language. Senate Republicans support the for-profit the bridge Company‘s plan, owned by Grosse Pointe transportation billionaire and GOP contributor Matty Moroun, to build a second span adjacent to the current bridge. But officials in Canada have rejected that idea, saying it would add major congestion to Windsor, Ontario's downtown.

The DRIC study is a joint effort by MDOT, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, Transport Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Transport. After studying various locations, the study tentatively recommends a publicly funded bridge be built crossing near Zug Island and the Del Ray area of Detroit and the Canadian crossing will be the Brighton Beach section in west-end Windsor.

"I have talked to anyone who will listen that this project should be a public-private partnership," said Transportation Director Kirk Steudle. "If this is a bad project, the private financial backers will let us know."

The hearing lasted almost four hours, and it basically consisted of charges and counter charges. Steudle was asked to answer some questions that were raised at the first hearing. The rest of the hearing consisted of company officials making charges and Steudle addressing them.

The bridge company said it has already spent $500 million on acquiring property to build a second span, and it will spend an additional $400 million for the bridge. The committee wondered why it would spend the money unless it knew it could land the bridge on the Canadian side. However, Canada law does not allow an international border crossing to be in private hands. But Stamper claims they won the right in litigation to land the bridge in Canada the 1990s, and the Canadian government is simply considering their environmental impact statement before issuing a permit.

"The only people who continue to say Canada will not let us land the bridge is MDOT and federal highway," he said. "That's an indictment of the study."

Steudle disagreed, saying the information given to them by the Canadian Border Security Agency (CBSA)– their customs and homeland security – made the Ambassador site inadequate.

"I would encourage him to talk with the Canadian government and go through the process," he said. "If the Canadian government say they can land it, then that changes the dynamic."

In fact, Steudle said he had no problem with them building a second span, but the study criteria they used did not make a second Ambassador Bridge span the best option.

"However, Senator, I must remind you that this in an international crossing, and Canadian officials have made it clear they will not grant access unless the environmental statement is in place."

Stamper then claimed the Canadians do not want a private bridge crossing, and they are simply using the CBSA as an excuse to build a public bridge. He says Canada is to blame, and they are looking out after their people at the expense of Michigan taxpayers.

The Senate tried to kill the DRIC study in the past, but they were only stopped when they discovered they would have to pay back the federal funds already expended in the study. Steudle told the committee they will need no more money for the study. He also said if the new bridge in the DRIC recommended location were to be built, it would take at least three pieces of legislation from the Michigan Legislature to go forward. Those two facts should make the entire reason for the hearings of the ad hoc committee moot.

"I'm disappointed the debate remains between the department and the legislature when so many people have voiced support for the project," Steudle said.

The DRIC study is expected to be completed by the end of the year and turned over to the federal government for a decision on where a crossing will be built. That decision could take 30 days to six months.

Aug 27, 2008

The choice of Romney as VP to help win Michigan should be a bust

Now that Barack Obama has chosen Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate, attention and speculation has shifted to who Grampy McSame will choose as a running mate.

The early favorite was Paris Hilton for a number of obvious reasons, including she has a much better energy plan than McSame. My source who said Paris was the one was obviously mistaken. There was then speculation that he would choose a pro-choice Republican – which is as rare as snow in July – such as Tom Ridge or Democrat turncoat Joe Lieberman. However, the extreme conservative rightwing element of the party that controls the Grand Oil Party went berserk, and it appears very unlikely that will occur.

However, many people have speculated a pro-choice candidate was never seriously considered, and that was just a ploy by McSame for the extremists to be able to swallow Mitt "Who Let the Dogs Out" Romney as the choice for VP. Romney is a Mormon, and that does not sit well with the extremist evangelicals that have hijacked the GOP. A candidate's religion should play zero role in an election, but this is the GOP.

Before Romney can be named as the VP, his staff is busy trying to find out how many homes he owns.

The conventional wisdom is that Romney, the son of former Michigan Gov. George Romney, will help win the swing state of Michigan that has not gone for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988. To anyone who watched the debates between McSame and Romney it was very clear the two could not even stand to be in the same room together, but the one thing McSame has proved over the years is that he will say anything, do anything, flip-flop on any position and cozy up to anyone that will help him win what he calls the "prize." After all, he embraced Bush/Rove after they smeared and attacked his family in the 2000 primary.

Romney won the GOP Presidential primary here in January, and I hear Republicans claim Romney as a hometown boy. That’s' a stretch, and if that was the case why was he the Governor of Massachusetts and not Michigan?

He was born here and went to high school here, but that was only because that was where his parents lived. In other words, he had no other choice but to live here with his parents. The first time he had a choice to live in Michigan after he graduated from high school, he said no thanks. At anytime he could have moved back here. He has a brother that stayed, why not Mitt?

To say he is Michigan's favorite son is simply not true.

Aug 26, 2008

Cropsey will continue his cross examination on behalf of rich GOP contributor

LANSING - Wednesday will see another episode of “Alan Cropsey, Attorney at Law.

The Senate Majority Floor Leader will continue his grilling of Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) officials and anyone else who interferes with Grosse Pointe billionaire and Republican benefactor Matty Moroun’s plan to build a second Ambassador Bridge and keep his monopoly intact. The Republican controlled Senate’s special ad hoc panel to look into the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) study that’s holding up the Transportation budget will hold its seconds hearing at 1 p.m. Wednesday in room 402 in the Capitol.

The DRIC study is a partnership between the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, Transport Canada, MDOT and the Ontario Ministry of Transport, and it concluded a public funded bridge should be built near Zug Island and the Del Ray area of Detroit and on the Canadian side in the Brighton Beach section in west-end Windsor.

The busiest international border in North America is owned by a private for-profit-company, and Cropsey has worked hard to ensure that continues, despite what an impartial study by the experts says.

Wednesday will see testimony from Transportation Director Kirk Steudle and representatives from the Detroit International Bridge Company. Cropsey has been like a bulldog prosecutor in grilling those who oppose Moroun’s monopoly, and it’s a pretty safe bet Steudle will get the same treatment. That will be in sharp contrast to the softball questions the bridge company lobbyists will receive from the ultra conservative Republican.

The good news keeps on coming for the Schauer campaign

State Sen. Mark Schauer's, D-Battle Creek, campaign for the 7th U.S. Congressional district against Tim Walberg received some good news yesterday.

A new poll released by EPIC-MRA for Detroit News/WXYZ puts the race between the Senate Minority Leader and Walberg is a statistical dead heat. The independent poll released Monday showed a statistical dead heat with Schauer at 40 percent and Walberg at 43 percent, well within the 4.9 percent margin of error.

"This poll reflects the momentum we've been seeing on the ground for the past several months," said B.J. Neidhardt, Campaign Manager for Mark Schauer's campaign, in a press release. "People simply aren't buying what Tim Walberg is selling, and Mark has the message and the momentum to win this race in November."

It's always a question on how much endorsements help in any race, but the endorsement of former Republican state Representative Paul DeWeese demonstrates Schauer's ability to win over Republicans, something he has also demonstrated in winning his West Michigan Senate seat. DeWeese, am emergency room physician, also ran for the very same seat in the 2004 primary. Voters in Livingston County will remember DeWeese from when he represented the western half of Livingston County in the 67th District in 2000 before the GOP gerrymandering.

"The people of Mid-Michigan are ready for change, and Mark Schauer is exactly the kind of leader we need right now to make this state more competitive," DeWeese said in a statement. "Unlike his opponent, Mark would never vote against healthcare for kids, and he would never tell his constituents that people without health insurance should seek basic treatment in the emergency room. You don't have to be an ER doctor to understand that this only drives up costs for everyone else in the system. The 7th district deserves a Congressman who will fight to fix our broken healthcare system, and Mark is the best man for the job."

People are also putting their money where their vote is, and in the second quarter, according to subscription only Gongwer, Schauer's campaign out-raised "incumbent Walberg for the fourth straight filing period, bringing in more than $427,000. Over the course of the campaign, Schauer has brought in more than $1.33 million and raised more than Walberg's total contributions for the entire 2006 election cycle.

Aug 25, 2008

General Election starts in earnest for me

TECUMSEH - Sunday was my first official door-knocking session of the 2008 General Election.

I have already knocked doors in the primary for a House candidate , but this is my first time for the General Election. I knocked on some 70 doors Sunday in Tecumseh for State Sen. Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek, in his quest to unseat extremist conservative Tim Walberg in the race for U.S. House in the 7th District. It was more fun that the extensive walking I did in 2006 because my wife walked with me. She had walked when she was a teen for her dad, but he was a Republican.

The one thing I discovered Sunday was that not many people knew much about Schauer, but we will change that. I had a few people tell me they don’t need to know anything about Schauer they are just sick of Walberg. This is a guy who still thinks Saddam Hussein financed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He’s apparently not a man who will let facts get in the way.

The 7th District has been held by Republicans for many years with Nick Smith and moderate Republican Joe Schwartz. But Schauer has unseated an incumbent Republican before.

The large 7th district covers Branch, Eaton, Hillsdale, Jackson and Lenawee counties and parts of Calhoun and Washtenaw counties. That’s the name recognition battle he faces, but I believe he can overcome it.

The 19th Senate District Schauer represents as the Senate Minority Leader only covers Calhoun County and part of Jackson.

I hope to increase his name recognition in Walberg’s home county of Lenawee door by door. It was once briefly my stomping grounds. I worked as the education reporter for the daily newspaper in Adrian that covers the entire county, and I held that same position with the Blissfield weekly.

Aug 22, 2008

Joint project will televise contested Michigan House debates

If you're a political junkie like I am, you will thrilled to hear the Center for Michigan and Detroit Public TV are teaming up to televise debates between state House candidates representing Southeast Michigan.

This sure beats another episode of some lame reality show, and this is real reality. The plan is to begin taping 30-minute, fixed-format debates at DPTV’s Detroit studios. The candidates will field questions from area journalists, such as Nolan Finley, editorial page editor of The Detroit News, and Ron Dzwonkowski, editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press. Other Detroit-area journalists may serve as hosts and moderators depending on debate schedules, according to the Center's blog.

Apparently, invitations were already mailed out, and debates have been set up in eight districts, including the two open seats that represent Livingston County where I live.

In the 47th District, Democrat Scott Lucas is debating Cindy Denby and in the 66th District Democrat Donna Anderson is debating Bill Rogers.

Also lined up are debate are:
DISTRICT 1 (Detroit-Grosse Pointe) -- Mary Treder Lang (R) vs. Timothy Bledsoe (D)
DISTRICT 2 (Detroit) -- Edith Floyd (R) vs. LaMar Lemons (D)
DISTRICT 19 (Livonia) -- John Walsh (R) vs. Steve King (D)
DISTRICT 40 (Birmingham) -- Chuck Moss (R) vs. Julie Chandler (D)
DISTRICT 45 (Rochester) -- Tom McMillin (R) vs. Randy Young (D)
DISTRICT 56 (Monroe) -- JeanMarie Dahm (R) vs Kate Ebli (D)

It also appears they are trying to cover all 110 House Districts. If you are a candidate and want to get involved you can email John Bebow at

Better yet, urge the candidate in your district to get signed up. No schedule has been promulgated yet for air times, but they will also be available on the Center's web site.

The Center for Michigan was founded by Phil Power, the former owner and publisher of Hometown Newspapers, in 2006. He calls it a "think-and-do tank" The Center's objective "is to assist our state through its current period of wrenching economic trouble and to lay the foundation of informed hope for a better future Michigan. It will help develop and execute comprehensive, long-range and, in some cases, radical policy solutions to transform Michigan's business, economic, political and cultural climate. In so doing, it will work to help reform the structure and workings of Michigan's political system."

Republicans cancel Senate session

Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, canceled the tentative session day set for next Wednesday Aug. 27.

The Governor hoped the Senate would get off its duff and take up the legislation dealing with utility regulation and the use of renewable energy so the House could at least begin action on the final package, but that did not happen. The energy bills are in a joint House-Senate conference committee to iron out the differences between the two versions.

The Senate continues its summer vacation while some 15 House Republicans are copying their fellow minority U.S. House Republicans in Washington, D.C. with their juvenile stunt to try calling the House back into session.

Earlier this month, the state House Republicans held a press conference to urge the Democrats to call the House back into session from their summer break and accuse them of vacationing while the state suffers. This lame campaign stunt ignores the fact that the Republican controlled Senate is on the same vacation, and all 110 House members are up for election.

Both the House and Senate will return to session on Sept. 9.

Deployed troops put their money where their vote is and overwhelming choose Obama

The non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics broke a long-standing myth earlier this month when it released a report that said deployed U.S. troops contributed money to the presidential campaign of Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama by a margin of 6-1 over his Republican rival.

The center operates the web site Open Secrets, and according to the press release, Obama received 134 contributions totaling $60,642 to his opponent John McCain’s 26 contributions for $10,665. McCain was even bested by former GOP challenger Ron Paul who grabbed 99 contributions for $45,512 even though he has been out of the race for some time.

Clearly, the troops know who is concerned about their welfare, both why they are deployed in harms way and when they come back home and have to resume a normal life. The troops put their money where their mouth is and endorsed Obama.

It has to be insulting to McCain who is a former naval officer who has made his experience as a POW in Vietnam a major part of his campaign.

It has long been assumed that the military is conservative and hence Republican, especially in light of it being an all volunteer force for some 34 years, but it appears that is changing or it is simply one more Republican myth. According to the press release, members of the Armed Forces no matter where they were stationed gave Obama the most campaign contributions in 2008, by a $55,000 margin. Still, Republicans got more overall federal contributions in 2008, receiving just over half at 59 percent.

Also, McCain still leads among military donors overall, but if Obama's 2008 numbers hold, that could change.

Whether that converts to votes remains to be seen. The press release notes that seeing political activity of any sort among soldiers is notable, and a lot of the enlisted ranks are apolitical. I have to admit that I did not even vote for the first time until I had been in the military for 15 years.

However, the 6-1 margin speaks volumes.

"That's shocking. The academic debate is between some who say that junior enlisted ranks lean slightly Republican and some who say it's about equal, but no one would point to six-to-one" in Democrats' favor, said Aaron Belkin, a professor of political science at the University of California who studies the military, in the press release. "That represents a tremendous shift from 2000, when the military vote almost certainly was decisive in Florida and elsewhere, and leaned heavily towards the Republicans."

The Center for Responsive Politics is the nation's premier research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy. Nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit, the organization aims to create a more educated voter, an involved citizenry and a more responsive government.

Aug 21, 2008

Man of the people McCain forgets what home he lives in

It never fails to amuse and amaze me when Republicans try to portray Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama as an elitist and arrogant.

It’s amazing to me how a man with a funny name, according to him, was able to accomplish so much. That is in sharp contract to his opponents in the race who have used their family names to great advantage. The name of Bush/McCain opened a lot of doors shut to many of us, and we had to open it with our own hard work.

Obama spent some of his childhood raised in a single family home after his parents divorced at age 2, and a large chunk of it raised by middle class grandparents. He attended college and law school on scholarships and student loans like most people. Then, when he had a change to use that Ivy League degree to make money in the corporate world, but he choose instead to work as a community organizer for three years for a church-based community organization in Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods.

What an elitist.

In an interview Wednesday, Republican presidential nominee John McCain, a real man of the people, could not tell a reporter how many homes he owns. When asked, he had to have his staff get back to the press later that day.

The answer, according to that crack staff, is at least four, located in Arizona, California and Virginia. However, Newsweek estimated this summer that the couple owns at least seven properties.

A true man of the people.

Aug 20, 2008

Share history with fellow Democrats at convention watch party

Next Thursday will be an historic night when Sen. Barack Obama will accept the nomination of the Democratic Party for President of the United States at the Democratic National Convention in Denver on his way to becoming the first African-American president.

American will be glued to their TV sets to view history, and Livingston County Democrats will have the opportunity to share the moment with fellow Democrats. The Barack Obama Campaign for Change is inviting Obama supporters to gather at Memories Lounge and Restaurant, at 7 p.m. August 28 to watch Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Livingston County Democratic Party Chair Judy Daubenmier said Memories will have two large-screen televisions set up for people to watch the convention proceedings. Also, Obama field organizers will be on hand to speak as well. Memories also has a bar and full restaurant menu.

Memories is located at 1840 S. Old U.S. 23, in Brighton Township. Reservations are not necessary, but the party wants to give Memories an estimate of the attendance. To RSVP call (810) 229-4212 or email at

Aug 18, 2008

Cropsey goes to bat for rich GOP benefactor

LANSING - In a rare Friday committee hearing during the summer break, a Republican controlled Senate special ad hoc panel convened to look into the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) grilled representatives of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration for two hours on behalf of the owner of the privately owned Ambassador Bridge.

Grosse Pointe billionaire and Republican benefactor Matty Moroun wants to maintain his monopoly of a international border crossing, and he has begun building a second span right next to the current one. Canada has rejected that idea, saying it would add major congestion to Windsor, Ontario's downtown.

MDOT announced the best location for the U.S. crossing is near Zug Island and the Del Ray area of Detroit. In June Canadian officials announced the location for the Canadian crossing will be the Brighton Beach section in west-end Windsor, adjacent to the U.S. chosen location. Canadian officials say the current location of the Ambassador Bridge in Canada leads to traffic jams and long delays on the Ambassador Bridge caused by the 17 traffic lights semi-trucks must go through in downtown Windsor to reach the highway.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, chairs the ad hoc committee, and he has long been an opponent of the DRIC study on behalf of Moroun. He has tried to kill the study in the past on behalf of Moroun, and he is holding up the Transportation budget as the conference committee tries to iron out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget.

Cropsey tried to knock down the study’s traffic estimates that indicates a need for the new lanes. MDOT officials said the increase resembles the stock market: traffics may go up and down but the trend is always up. Passenger car traffic has fallen off following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, but truck traffic saw its biggest year in 2006. But officials expect car traffic to increase when states go to driver’s license can be used as a passport for egress to Canada and Mexico.

Cropsey said the lanes are not the problem causing delays it’s getting through customs, and MDOT is spending $200 million on the gateway project to improve customs flow on the Ambassador Bridge. But James Steele of the Federal Highway Administration, the top U.S. official dealing with the bridge, said the new custom technology needs extra lanes to be effective.

“If you have 10 lanes or six lanes it’s academic,” he said. “You’re not getting people off of the bridge into the lanes for the unique programs to work.”

After the 9/11 attack, the Ambassador Bridge was closed briefly, and it caused havoc with the transportation system, especially for the Big 3 automakers who depend on on-time delivery. The terrorism threat after 9/11 caused the DRIC study to take security into effect, and the federal government wants redundancy, or in other words if the bridge was sabotaged, another crossing would have to be close by but not close enough to be taken out by the same attack. Cropsey claimed the Blue Water Bridge located 60 miles away in Port Huron provides that redundancy.

But Ron DeCook, MDOT’s director of Government affairs, said some 2,000 trucks cross the bridge a day, and many are carrying auto-related loads.

“If they had to go to the Blue Water Bridge that would be a huge problem for the auto industry,” he said.

Although the Ambassador Bridge Company has already started building the second span, it appears it will have to stop just short of the Canadian side. The Canadian government has said they cannot accumulate land for customs operations in that country. The only permit the company can get in the U.S. is from the U.S. Coast Guard, but they will not issue it one until Canadian government issues a permit.

Cropsey gave MDOT a hard time for not helping the bridge company get the permit, much to the amazement of the MDOT officials.

“It’s a private bridge, we have no control over it at all,” DeCook said. “We can’t even go on it to inspect it. We have more control over carnival rides.”

Despite the Senate Republicans opposition, the DRIC project has the support of many prominent Republicans, including the Bush Administration. Steele said site of the new bridge on the U.S. side would likely be announced later this year with construction to begin in 2009.

“This has been discussed at the highest levels of government, and it has risen to the premier level in Canada,” he said. “This is a project the U.S. government is committed to.”

The committee, consisting of Cropsey, Sen. Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, and Sen. Buzz Thomas, D-Detroit, is expected to hold another hearing on Aug. 27 where the Ambassador Bridge Company representatives will testify and Cropsey wants MDOT Director Kirk Steudle to answer questions.

Aug 14, 2008

The swift boating of Obama has begun

We knew it was coming, and it’s here: the swift boating of Sen. Barrack Obama.

Jerome Corsi, the author of the smear book against Democratic Presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry and every single veteran who ever earned a medial or citation, has just released a similar book targeting Obama. The smear merchant and principal in the smear boat veterans was the co-author with Kerry enemy John O'Neill of “Unfit for Command.” The book attacked Kerry’s service – as well as every single veteran - and his three Purple Hearts during the 2004 presidential election, and the lies helped Bush win a second term.

Corsi’s latest Unfit-style book was recently released. The book is little more than a rehash of the disgusting and false smears that have been floating around in cyberspace and have already been debunked by responsible news agencies and nonpartisan third parties.

Obama is taking the initiative and refuses to be swift-boated. He is already fighting back and correcting the record with what he is calling “The Obama Action Wire.”

Michigan House Republicans pull their own juvenile political stunt

LANSING – Michigan House Republicans took a cue from their fellow Grand Oil Party colleagues in the U.S. House and staged their own political stunt Wednesday by holding a press conference to urge the Democrats to call the House back into session from their summer session.

Subscription only MIRS and Gongwer reported 15 die-hard Republicans held a press conference to have Democrats “call the chamber back into session in order to deal with the serious problems facing the state.” Democrats control the House and Republicans the Senate, and Democrats rightly asked why doesn’t Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop call the Senate back into session.

In fact, environmental and conservation groups also urged the Senate to work on the energy package it has dragged it feet on so it can be voted on and sent onto the governor.

“Michigan's elected officials need to recognize that their delay in passing clean energy is costing Michigan jobs," said James Clift, policy director of the Michigan Environmental Council, in Gongwer. "The state has a great opportunity to diversify its economy, but it is slipping away. Senate leaders need to stop playing politics and get to work on completing this package."

Both the House and Senate had a session day schedule for Wednesday, but it was canceled for a lack of items to act on. The House has a session day set for Aug. 20 and the Senate Aug. 27, and regular sessions being again on Sept. 9, but the minority House Republicans stuck to the ridiculous notion of calling the Legislature back even though they will be back in a week.

The energy bills are in a joint House-Senate conference committee to iron out the differences between the two versions, and environmental and economic development groups are hoping the ridiculously low 10 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) passed by the Senate is improved upon.

All 110 House seats are up for election in two months, but no seats are up for election in the Senate. It’s clear the Republicans have no chance of taking back control of the House after it lost it in 2006, and this stunt is just one more desperate, political sideshow by the GOP to throw up a roadblock to that.

The stunt closely resembles the Grand Oil Party’s juvenile stunt earlier this month where they preached to each other in the dark after the U.S. House and Senate were adjourned for the annual summer break on the false notion that giving oil companies more leases in environmentally sensitive areas will reduce gas prices.

Aug 13, 2008

McCain expected to name Paris Hilton as his running mate

An unnamed source close to the McCain campaign, who wants to remain anonymous, has confirmed McCain plans to announce Paris Hilton will be his running mate in the next couple of days.

The source said the heiress brought so many things to the table she was the obvious choice. Her energy plan, that mirrors Sen. Barrack Obama’s plan, was one major reason for the choice.

“Who knew she knew so much about energy,” said the unnamed source. “Now, we can call Obama’s commons sense plan our own.”

Hilton also adds some much needed youth to a ticket that has caused many people some concerns, especially recently. McCain would be the oldest U.S. president if elected. To be elected president, the U.S. Constitution says you must be at least 35 years old, but there is no such requirement for vice-president.

Hilton is also a favorite of Cindy McCain, saying Hilton reminds herself of her when she was younger. Hilton, like Cindy McCain, is a rich heiress who has never had to work a day in her life. They also share a brush with the law and an addiction.

The cash-strapped McCain campaign is also welcoming with open arms the influx of cash the Hilton candidacy will bring.

To quote Hilton in the now famous video - no, not that one - that won her the spot: “See you at the debates, bitches.

Long shot U.S. Senate challenger begs for free publicity

State Rep. Jack Hoogendyk, R-Kalamazoo, says he wants four debates in his long-shot attempt to unseat popular and respected Democratic U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, according to subscription only MIRS.

Apparently, the only official invitation has come from Grand Rapids public television station WGVU, which has invited both Levin and Hoogendyk to take part in a 60-minute televised town hall debate that would be broadcast on PBS stations across the state. Now, as much as I would love to see Levin wipe the floor with the conservative Republican, the question is why would Levin give an unknown like Hoogendyk the free publicity?

In the latest poll, Levin, the chair of the powerful Armed Service Committee, has a 26 point lead over Hoogendyk. You have to wonder what state GOP chair Saul Anuzis promised Hoogendyk in exchange for being the sacrificial lamb.

Hoogendyk was briefly a Republican candidate for governor in 2006 before perennial GOP nominee Dick DeVos and his money ran the rest of the Republicans out of the race.

Levin is highly respected, and he has even been mentioned as a possible Vice-Presidential candidate. Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic, and an Ann Arbor resident, makes a pretty good case for Barack Obama choosing Levin for the ticket. But the only problem with that is who would run for the Senate seat? Democrats are trying to get enough Democrats in the Senate so they can actually accomplish something over GOP obstructionists.

Aug 12, 2008

Millions of U.S. corporations do not pay federal taxes

I know this is a local blog on Michigan and the media, but this national story really caught my attention.

According to a study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), two-thirds of U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes between 1998 and 2005, and 68 percent of foreign companies doing business in the U.S. avoided corporate taxes over the same period.

I want to hear the take on this from right-wingers who regularly take shots at me here.

Our own Sen. Carl Levin, along with Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., asked for the GAO study that found corporations did not pay taxes on trillions of dollars in sales. More than 38,000 foreign corporations had no tax liability in 2005 and 1.2 million U.S. companies paid no income tax. It’s sad that corporations are making huge profits and pay nothing to support this country.

Local GOP attack on Obama uses age old tactics

The Livingston County Republican Party's letter writing team continues to use the Daily Press & Argus as a launching pad for false attacks against Democratic Presidential nominee Barrack Obama, and the latest false attack is from Brighton Township resident Randy Kniebes.

Although this latest attack from the county Grand Oil Party isn’t as racist as some have been in the past, it has elements of that as well as the misinformation and misdirection that we have come to expect from the loyal opposition.

The misinformation begins with the first sentence: “Most Americans do not know much about the character of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., despite nonstop glowing coverage from an adoring media.”

The reality is the right wants to define his character, and if anyone – and I don’t see how anyone with an email account hasn’t - has seen some of the ugly and racist emails that are floating around cyberspace, you know these experts at character assassination are pulling out all the stops. We have heard he is a Muslim, he attended a "radical madrassa” or he was sworn into the U.S. Senate using the Koran. As for the adoring media, a new study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) found “Barack Obama is getting more negative coverage than John McCain on TV network evening news shows.” It is true that he is getting more overall coverage, but that’s not surprising when you consider the corporate media is in the business to make money above all else, and they obviously want to go where there is a fresh, exciting candidate who is drawing huge crowds and excitement instead of a tired, old politician who has been doing the same things for almost 30 years and is an exact replica of the failed Bush Administration.

What is different is the right is pulling out their old “liberal media” strategy, and the corporate media is criticizing Obama to shake the false tag that they are giving him “glowing coverage.” Hey, it has worked for the last 40 years, why stop now?

Then we get this gem:
“First, even liberal media outlets now acknowledge that the "surge" strategy in Iraq has been a huge success. Obama strongly opposed the surge. When Obama was asked in an interview if, knowing what he knows now that the surge was a big success for the United States, would he have supported it — his answer was "no." Think about that.”

Think about why we started a war that should never have been started, and every single day more and more evidence of the deception the Bush “team” used to con the public into supporting this unnecessary war that hinders are real fight against terrorism comes out. Also, there is no such thing as the liberal media.

“Knowing he had a sure success for the United States (the premise of the question), he would have instead chosen defeat and humiliation for the United States by surrendering Iraq to the terrorists. Having to choose between what is best for the United States or admitting that he was wrong, Obama chose his own interests over his country's best interests. A big warning sign.”

First, Iraq had nothing to do with terrorism. It’s difficult to sum up an unnecessary war that has gone on longer than World War II to a few black and white sentences, but right-wingers do it all the time, I guess I can too. The so-called surge was a temporary measure designed to give the Iraqi government the space and time to make the hard choices and decisions that only the Iraqis can make for themselves. That has not happened. Anyone could have predicted that the sudden infusion of large numbers of the best fighting force in the world would reduce violence, albeit temporarily. No one has yet defined what victory means in Iraq or who decides when we reach victory. The so-called surge is not the only reason violence has fallen off in Iraq, and that was just one factor. However, just last week on one day 87 Iraqis were killed and 288 were wounded. I would call that violence. If it is going so well, when are the troops coming home?

In addition to the so-called surge, ethic cleansing has worked so well it’s getting harder to find targets. The Iraq fiasco has led to segregated neighborhoods where they all once lived peacefully together. In other words, some neighborhoods are now exclusively Shi'ite and others are Sunni.

We are also paying people who once shot at our troops. Some 91,000 former militants called “Concerned Local Citizens” (CLC’s) or “Sons of Iraq” have put aside their anti-U.S. operations in exchange for cash. And of course, these contracts come at a cost. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the U.S. is paying about $16 million a month.

The next salvo is the age old GOP tactic of taking a quote completely out of context to say something else:
“Secondly, Obama told a group of a (sic) Democrats that "his candidacy was the moment the whole world was waiting for." Moreover, Obama declared that "I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to its best traditions." What breathtaking arrogance and hubris from a one-term senator whose only significant accomplishment has not been any legislation but his own biography!”

This is from Grampy McSame’s most recent attack ad known as the Messiah ad that tries to make it seem like Obama thinks he is the second coming of Jesus Christ. Somehow, Grampy’s people think it’s a bad thing to inspire people and have our allies like and respect our leader for a change. But the full quote makes it clear that people are excited about change and restoring the country to what it was before Bush made us the guys in the black hats, who torture people, take away rights, spy on our own citizens and thumb their noses at the law.

We keep hearing this word “arrogance” attached to Obama from the right. Some how it’s arrogant to campaign for president and demonstrate you are presidential. Grampy is doing the same thing, but he has not been called arrogant. I wonder if arrogance is a code word for “uppity?” Below is the full Obama quote:

“It has become increasingly clear in my travel, the campaign, that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, is not about me at all. It's about America. I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions.

Then the attacker ends with the told tried and true attack when he uses this quote out of context.

“For the ordinary Americans who Obama thinks just cling to our guns and religion, these are some things to consider before we vote.”

The full quote is, “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." Obama was talking about the 3 million people who have lost their decent paying industrial job under Bush. To me, it’s accurate because the Republican strategy of fear and dividing people is always at work.

But Mr. Kniebes earns a gold star from party chair Allan Filip for another letter-to-the-editor full of misinformation, false talking points and half-truths.

Aug 10, 2008

Bishop assigns fox to guard hen house

Senate Republicans in Lansing are now holding the Transportation budget hostage in order to help out a rich benefactor.

House Bill 5808 sets funding for the Department of Transportation, and it’s the largest budget left undone for the 2008-09 fiscal year. The conference committee that will work out an agreement between the House and Senate version of the bill is set to meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday in room 426 of the Capitol. However, it appears unlikely an agreement will be reached. The sticking point is how to handle the issue of a new Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC).

Senate Republicans have supported the private, for profit Detroit International Bridge Company‘s plan, owned by Grosse Pointe transportation billionaire Matty Moroun, to build a second span adjacent to the current bridge. But officials in Canada have rejected that idea, saying it would add major congestion to Windsor, Ontario's downtown.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop named a special ad hoc panel to look into the DRIC question, chaired by Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt. Naming Cropsey to head that panel is like naming Strom Thurmond or Jesse Helms to head a panel on Civil Rights.

Cropsey has long carried water for Moroun in his quest to keep his monopoly, and Cropsey appears to be the major obstacle in the budget being worked out in the conference committee. Cropsey said in the past there will be little negotiating unless the House adopts a resolution about DRIC that is sent to Congress and Governor Jennifer Granholm write a letter supporting a second Ambassador span.

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has come out in support of the U.S. location to be Detroit's Delray neighborhood. Canadian law says an international border crossing cannot be held by a private company, and they choose the Brighton Beach section in west-end Windsor as the Canadian crossing, adjacent to where MDOT wants the U.S. crossing to be located.

Even some prominent Republicans have backed MDOT’s and the Canadian proposal, such as Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.

Cropsey’s ad hoc panel has tentatively set a meeting for 10 a.m. Friday in the Capitol.

Aug 7, 2008

GOP calls for protesters against Speaker of the House to bring their own crayons

The Michigan Republican Party and Chair Saul Anuzis are organizing a protest against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi tonight at Borders in downtown Ann Arbor where she will join a panel discussion and sign copies of her new book, "Know Your Power" at 7 p.m.

The intention of the protest is to build on the Grand Oil Party’s juvenile stunt last week where they preached to each other in the dark after the House and Senate were adjourned for the annual summer break on how giving oil companies more leases in environmentally sensitive areas will reduce gas prices. The email blast to supporters says the intention is to “… send her a strong message that she needs to call Congress back into session now, and hold a vote on an energy bill that will allow America to develop America’s oil.” No word on why they don’t just ask the head oil man in the White House to call them back into session since he has the power to do that, or why for all but the last 18 months of President George Bush’s time in office when the GOP controlled both Houses of Congress no real energy plan was adopted.

To help in the protest and to lend an air of authenticity, Anuzis is asking his followers to bring homemade signs, and since he knows they probably can’t think of any catchy slogans for themselves, he sent along some helpful suggestions, such as “Gas b-4 Book Tour" "Bring Congress Back" "We Want Lower Gas $" "End The Shutdown" and "Give Us A Vote."

Bill Nowling and the MGOP communications team have really outdone themselves. That was money well spent.

I have a few slogans of my own for the Grand Oil Party attendees to use: “Food stamps for Exxon,” “We don’t need no stinking books,” “Books are for liberals,” “Tell Bush to tell you to bring Congress back,” “Drill on those thousands of leases you already have,” “oil execs need help to pay for their Bugatti Veyrons,” or “We need our gas prices to go down by 2 cents in 10 years now.”

The Ann Arbor stop will be Pelosi’s first stop on a 13-city book tour, and because there are so many people expected to want to meet the Speaker, Borders began giving out wristbands this morning when the store opened. According to Borders, the wristband guarantees a place in line, but offers no guarantee you'll meet the Speaker.

I have a better suggestion for the GOP: buy a book at Borders to benefit a Michigan company. That may be asking a little too much. Buy a DVD while you are there and do some real good. Make sure you carpool.

Aug 5, 2008

Veteran journalist launches liberal and progressive blog/newspaper

I am pleased to announced I am now contributing to a new blog/newspaper called the “Opinion Artillery” operated by veteran journalist John Beckett.

According to the mission statement or description, Opinion Artillery “offers progressive commentary on U.S. policies and politics, and also keeps an eye on Michigan and Livingston County, the fastest-growing county in the state.“

The site is written and edited by Beckett. He, like me, is a Livingston County resident, but he is from Howell’s arch rival a few miles east down Grand River Avenue in Brighton. He reported and written for the then Brighton Argus - now the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus - for seven years and he spent 18 years at the Ann Arbor News, where he won numerous state and national awards.

It was while Mr. Beckett was at the A2 that I became aware of him. I worked for a few years at the bi-weekly Brighton Argus/Livingston County Press, and the A2 was our competition. It was the A2 work, combined with the decision by the Detroit News to open a bureau in Livingston County, that led to the LCP and the Argus to form the first new daily newspaper in Michigan in 50 years in September 2000. It was an exciting time, and I left a great job at the News Herald in Southgate to be a part of it.

The name of the blog is based on a quote by English journalist, political philosopher and novelist William Godwin: “Usurped powers cannot withstand the artillery of opinion."

Not only does the blog offer the work of contributing articles writers like me, Mr. Beckett accepts and publishes pieces from other writers.

I really like his take on the blog when he writes, “Because we're tired of how "liberal" has been turned into a dirty word. And because we believe our country needs a healthy dose of liberalism or progressivism or whatever you want to call it if we're going to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.”

I could don’t have said it better myself.

Aug 4, 2008

Basham endorses Brandana for State Representative

Jill Brandana, Democratic candidate for the Michigan House of Representatives from the 22nd District, continues to pick up endorsements, and one of the latest is from Democratic State Sen. Ray Basham. He represent the 8th Senate District that coves almost all of the Downriver area.

I am writing to offer my strong recommendation of the Honorable Jill Brandana in her primary election bid this August as your State Representative for the 22nd District. She has served her community well in her position on the Taylor City Council and other boards and commissions.

Jill earned both her Bachelor's degree and her Master's degree in Public Administration (M.P.A.) from the University of Michigan. Jill serves the people of Taylor on the City Council, where she has worked diligently to ensure that public safety and fiscal responsibility are priorities on the Council in their oversight of city business. She has also worked steadfastly to protect our land, air, water and quality of life by helping to defeat the Environmental Disposal Systems attempts to place a hazardous waste well in our community. She is a dedicated and effective public servant, currently serving as Chairwoman Pro-Tem on the Taylor City Council, and is involved in every level of community service. Besides her public duties on the council, Jill also works as an Administrative/Legal Assistant in a successful law firm, where she has worked for over 26 years. Her education and administrative experience are excellent preparation to represent the 22nd House District.

I have known Jill personally for several years and in that time I have come to have only the highest regard for her personally and professionally. She shows great integrity and compassion in fulfilling her duties as an elected official and it is with great enthusiasm that I recommend her for election to the State House of Representatives.

I encourage you to vote for Councilwoman Jill Brandana in the Primary on August 5.

Another tactic to kill middle class set to be launched

Michigan Republicans continue their war on the middle class with its continued push for so-called “Right-to-Work” laws.

Word in Lansing is that Republican Senator Nancy Cassis is set to introduce a bill to establish so called “Right to Work” zones. Republicans have failed to pass a state wide right to work for less law, and a threatened ballot initiative has also failed to materialize. This seems a scaled down assault on the middle and working class that has been ongoing for more than 50 years.

Wizardkitten over at Blogging for Michigan has an excellent take on “right to work for less zones,” and they are similar to tax-advantaged enterprise zones. These laws are meant to simply kill labor unions, roll back workplace protections and depress wages.

RTW bills are before both the Michigan House and Senate, but they continue to remain stuck in committee. In the House, Rep. Jacob Hoogendyk, R-Kalamazoo, introduced House Bill 4454, and Rep. Kevin Elsenheimer, R-Bellaire, introduced HB 4455, both to make Michigan an RTW state. In the Senate, Cassis introduced companion bills, Senate Bills 607 and 608.

Proponents of RTW claim the law would do away with the requirement that workers must be in a union to be employed at a union shop. However, federal law already protects workers who don't want to join a union to get or keep their jobs, and gives workers the right to opt out of a union. But they must still pay union dues. RTW would give them the option of not paying dues while still enjoying the benefits of being in a union.

Unions in RTW states are required by law to defend non-dues-paying members involved in a dispute or charged with a grievance at work, but even those employees do not have to contribute dues. Opponents of RTW say such a provision does not give workers more rights, but instead it weakens unions and their ability to bargain for improved benefits and working conditions, which they call the real intent of RTW. The union, by law, must represent all workers equally.

Workers in RTW states make an average of $5,900 less in annual salary, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, the rate of workplace deaths is 41 percent higher in RTW states, according to the bureau, and 20 percent more workers in RTW states go without health insurance.

Aug 3, 2008

McCain to visit site of near catastrophic meltdown to push for more nuclear power plants

In honor of Republican Presidential candidate Grampy McSame visiting my hometown of Monroe on Tuesday, I am re-reading a book I read several years ago called “We almost Lost Detroit,” by John G. Fuller.

Grampy will be visiting the Enrico Fermi Atomic Power Plant in Monroe County’s Frenchtown Township on the shores of Lake Erie on Tuesday to push for more nuclear power plants. Mr. Fuller’s book is a review of nuclear power in general, but it is also the story of the accident that occurred in Monroe on the afternoon of Oct. 5, 1966. As you may recall, a zirconium plate at the bottom of the reactor vessel became loose and blocked sodium coolant flow to some fuel subassemblies. Two subassemblies started to melt almost causing a catastrophic meltdown. At the time, I was just 8-years-old and I lived just a few short miles from the plant down Dixie Highway in a subdivision near Sterling State Park.

The book was published in 1975, and I read it shortly after that. I just found a copy of the book, at the Book Burrow at the Downtown branch of the Lansing Library. I remember when I first read the book it was a little insulting that it was overlooked that if Detroit would have been lost so would have Monroe.

But it seems ironic that he is visiting a plant that had a near catastrophic accident to promote nuclear energy as safe. The fact is nuclear energy has come a long way since 1966, and the reactor where the accident occurred has been decommissioned. But some danger remains. Perhaps a visit to Three Mile Island might be more fitting.

Sen. Barack Obama also supports nuclear energy, but he also says before, like many people, we expand nuclear energy, we need to address the problem of nuclear waste. That’s an issue no one has found an answer for.

Spent fuel from nuclear power plants is toxic for centuries, and, as yet, there is no safe, permanent storage facility for it. A large nuclear reactor produces 25–30 tons of spent fuel each year, according to the Uranium and Nuclear Power Information Centre. As of 2007, the United States had accumulated more than 50,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel from nuclear reactors. The only solution that has been floated thus far is permanent underground storage at Yucca Mountain.

The fact is renewable energy is the best way to go, but the Bush Administration fought that at every turn.

The high gas prices led to the U.S. House Republicans pulling a juvenile stunt on Friday, and they basically commandeered the House floor after it adjourned and preached propaganda to themselves.

Apparently, Exxon is not content with making $1,500 a second - yes, I said a second - and they want to open up the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) to drilling and lift the ban on offshore drilling. For some reason, the thousands of leases on millions of acres of U.S. land they hold is not enough, and they are using this to get at more to increase profits.

Both oil companies and the Grand Oil Party must know this will have no effect on gas prices. According to the U,S, Energy Department, it would take 10 years before any oil is pumped out of new offshore wells, and about 20 years before those wells would reach peak capacity. There could be no oil production in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge until 2018 and production would not peak until 2027.

As for offshore drilling, there is simply too little oil in these offshore areas to affect global supply. Bush’s own DOE shows that by the year 2025, ANWR drilling would lower crude oil prices by only 75 cents per barrel, which equates to about to about 2 cents a gallon at the pump.