Aug 31, 2010

The fake outrage over Islamic community center is just part of a wider hate campaign


The fake outrage ginned up by right-wingers over the proposal to build an Islamic community center close to the site of the so-called Ground Zero in lower Manhattan is grabbing all of the headlines, but it appears that right-wingers don’t want any mosques or community centers built.

It appear this is part of a larger hate campaign, and it’s just one more attempt by right-wingers to pervert the constitution, divide people and use their favorite tactic of fear to increase their base. Mosques and Muslims all over the country are literally under attack; from the New York City cab driver who was stabbed for being a Muslim to an attempt to block the building of a Muslim center in Murfreesboro, Tenn. The propaganda that they are just against building the Islamic community center near the former World Trade Center because it was the site of the 9/11 attacks is just a lie.

What’s sacred about Murfreesboro,Tenn.?

The New York Times has a few examples:
“In late June, in Temecula, Calif., members of a local Tea Party group took dogs and picket signs to Friday prayers at a mosque that is seeking to build a new worship center on a vacant lot nearby.“


“In Sheboygan, Wis., a few Christian ministers led a noisy fight against a Muslim group that sought permission to open a mosque in a former health food store bought by a Muslim doctor. “

We even have a so-called Christian church in Gainesville, Fla. planning to burn a Koran on Sept. 11, the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack. Book-burning? That is just unbelievable.

There is even a sick Facebook group called “International Burn A Koran Day” with 7,000 members that wants to have people burn the Koran on Sept. 11. These freedom haters and bigots need to burn a copy of the U.S. Constitution and a U.S. flag because they obviously hate them

That is one of the most offensive things I have ever heard. What people should be outraged about is the fact that the person who planned the 9/11 attacks have not been brought to justice or that there is still nothing at the actual site of ground zero. Not a building , not a memorial, nothing.

Aug 30, 2010

Selection of Johnson as the GOP SOS nominee kills another teabagger talking point


The selection of Oakland County Clerk Ruth Johnson as the Republican nominee for Michigan Secretary of State at their disorganized and chaotic convention on Saturday busts another teabagger myth.

There near take over of the convention and their uproar over placing a teabagger party on the November ballot dispelled the myth that this was a nonpartisan, grassroots effort that was neither Republican nor Democratic, and that proved that the fake, Astroturf teabagger farce is just the militant arm of the GOP.

One claim the teabaggers have made on many occasions is that they are not fans of "career politicians," yet the majority of teabggers supported Johnson. If you look up the phrase "career politician" you may find her photo.

The question that needs to be asked is what hasn’t Johnson ran for.

I don’t have a problem with career politicians, but the hypocrisy of teabggers is just stunning.

She started out as an Oakland County Commissioner. She then ran and won in the State House and was term-limited there. She then ran as clerk and won. In 2006 she was the Amway’s guy’s Lt. Gubernatorial candidate, and she went back to being the clerk after the two got spanked in the election. Now, she’s the SOS candidate.

That is in sharp contrast to Democratic SOS nominee Wayne State University law Professor Jocelyn Benson, and a first time candidate. The person officially nominating her at Sunday’s Michigan Democratic Parry convention in Detroit said it very well when she said people don’t wake up one day as children saying they want to be Secretary of State, but Benson’s résumé makes it look that way. Her qualifications are very impressive.

Benson graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College. She subsequently earned her Masters in Sociology as a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University, and she received her J.D from Harvard Law School, where she was a general editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. Benson also worked as the Voting Rights Policy Coordinator for the Harvard Civil Rights Project, worked as a summer associate for voting rights and election law for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and she was an investigative journalist for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Lance Enderle is the Democratic candidate for Congress for the 8th District


DETROIT – The Michigan Secretary of State bowed to public pressure and allowed Lance Enderle’s name to appear on the November ballot as the Democratic nominee for the 8th Congressional District.

The 8th Congressional District Caucus at the Michigan Democratic Party Convention on Saturday unanimously voted to make him our candidate. Kande Ngalamulume’s name appeared on the ballot as the Democratic nominee in the August primary, but he pulled out of the campaign in June and moved out of state. But, his name remained on the ballot until he registered in his new state. He finally did that, but Land initially balked at adding Enderle’s name until she finally bowed to public pressure on Friday.

Enderle campaigned as a write in to replace Ngalamulume, but he did not get enough votes to replace Ngalamulume. However, he did not give up.

“People in the state and country gave up on the 8th District, but not us,” he said.

With no opposition, Rogers has been busy raising huge amounts of corporate cash for his fellow U.S. House Republicans. Enderle knows he has a tough row to hoe to win, but he is in it to win it.

“I’m no sacrificial lamb; I’m going t take it to Mr. Rogers in November,” he said. “I have already challenged him to five debates in five counties.”

Rogers has been as scarce from the 8th District as snow in July, and perhaps a challenge will make him accountable to voters again.

“We have got a guy in Congress who doesn’t care about us or the people in the rest of the county,” Enderle said. “I can tell you, Mr. Rogers is the worst enemy of the environment.”

Enderle is a teacher from Clinton County, and he graduated from Lake Superior State University, and has experience managing numerous small businesses and was the director of the Cheboygan County Family Resource Center. He has pledged not to take PACC or corporate money.

“When we give corporations more power than people, we are in trouble,” he said.

Democratic candidates are ready to keep us moving out of the Bush recession ditch


DETROIT- It was a great weekend at the Michigan Democratic Party Convention this weekend, and the party faithful left energized and ready to elect the people that will help the state and country continue the move forward out of the Bush ditch.

Like at all conventions, all of the various constituency caucuses heard from the candidates, and there were so many great quotes and speeches that I eventually put my notebook down and just cheered with everybody else. We heard from many of the candidates at the Environmental and Energy Caucus, like Natalie Mosher, running in the 11th District against “Mad” Thad McCotter. He only won with 51 percent of the vote in 2008, but he outspent his opponent 33-1.

“My opponent, Thad McCotter, has an absolutely abysmal record on the environment,” she said.

Saturday also marked the anniversary Dr. Martin Luther King’s historic Washington, D.C. speech of August 28, 1963 that became famous as his "I have a dream speech." Many, myself included, took part in the massive commemorate march to celebrate the historic Walk to Freedom March that took place in Detroit in 1963 and to advocate for a number of progressive causes, like jobs, health care and worker’s dignity. Dr. Fred Johnson, a former Marine Corps office and candidate for the 2nd Congressional District, took offense at Glen Beck’s teabagger rally on that day.

“We have Glenn Beck in Washington, D.C. thumbing his nose, basically, at Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream speech’,” he said. “They have lies and fear; we have ideas and hope.”

Since it was the energy caucus, one man had a good theory on why Michigan is always the first state to feel a recession and the last to come out of it. He said in 2000 gas was $1.39 a gallon and 13.5 million domestic autos were sold. In 2008 gas was $4 a gallon and only 9.5 million cars were sold. Michigan imports 100 percent of its oil and coal and a majority of the natural gas.

In the Michigan Legislature, former State Rep. Kathleen Law, D-Gibraltar, is running a very active campaign for the Senate in the 7th District against a teabagger.

“It’s a big district, but I’m ready,” Law said. “We bought out all of the stamps at the Rockwood Post office; it’s a small post office, but I’m still proud of that.”

Like most teabggers, her opponent has some extreme views that are out of the mainstream, such as ending Medicare and Social Security.

“I don’t know what’s more frightening,” Law said. “That he wants to end those popular programs, or that he doesn’t know the Michigan Senate does not vote on it.”

Pam Jackson is also running for the Senate in the 15th District, and she is running against a candidate who also has some extreme ideas that will stall the hard fought gains Michigan has gained in recent months.

“We have to take back the Senate; his idea is he wants no tax incentives for new business,” Jackson said. “That would mean that the Ford Wixom plant would not be converted to a new use.”

Sen. Deb Cherry, D-Burton, who is term-limited, knows first hand how much good policy the Senate Republicans block, and even though she can’t run for reelection, she felt it was important to speak because the environment is so important.

“If we want to protect the Great lakes and make sure there is no drilling, we need to elect Democrats,” she said.

Amen.

Aug 29, 2010

Fired up and Ready to go in November


To, again, quote Red Stewart, “every picture tells a story, don’t it.” Here is the winning slate in November; Attorney General David Leyton, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Governor Virg Bernero and Lt. Governor Brenda Lawrence.

It was a great convention, and I have a notebook full of quotes, but not the time right now to empty it. Stay tuned.

Aug 27, 2010

Weaver gives up on reform but helps break up the Gang of Four


Republican heads all over the state exploded yesterday with the news that Republican Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Weaver resigned and Gov. Jennifer Granholm appointed Michigan Appeals Judge Alton Davis from Grayling to the bench, giving Democrats a 4-3 majority on the court for the first time in nine years.

Weaver has been vilified by Republicans with names like evil, a traitor and names I can’t repeat, and even the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus joined in the chorus with a misguided editorial called “Weaver gamed a system that begs for reform.” Reform the system is what Weaver has been pushing for years. She has been a Justice for two terns serving for 16 years and nominated by the Michigan Republican Party for her two terms.

The party indicated that they were not going to nominate the incumbent Justice at their convention Saturday. And exactly what was Weaver’s crime that she was not going to be nominated for a third term? On occasion she exercised some actual independence and did not always vote with the former Republican “Gang of Four.”

The Gang of Four once consisted of the activist judges Cliff Taylor, Robert Young, Stephen Markman and Maura Corrigan. “Sleepy Cliff Taylor” was unseated by Justice Diane Marie Hathaway in 2008, becoming the first incumbent Justice to lose in 24 years.

During that dark time the Gang of Four held sway, no insurance company lost a case, it expanded government immunity so much that government can only be sued if a pot hole is so large you have to climb out of it and destroyed product liability in the state.

The paper calls Weaver a “Maverick,” and claims that Weaver engaged “after years of squabbling that belie the high-court's image of decorum.” I guess if a maverick is someone who doesn’t march in lock-step with the four Republicans then she is a maverick. I don’t know why the squabbling is only Weaver’s fault and not of the Gang of Four (3).

Bur Weaver does agree with the Republican editorial board that the court needs to be reformed, and in fact, she has pushed for a less partisan way to choose Justices for years, including such things as term limits and other reforms. But to say she “gamed the system” is ridiculous, and smacks of sour grapes.

For on example of her attempt at reform, last October Weaver testified in front of the Senate Campaign and Election Oversight Committee in favor of Senate Bill 745 that would elect the state's seven Supreme Court justices from districts instead of on a statewide basis. Currently, most of the Justices are from southeast Michigan, and only Davis from the UP is an exception.

To show you how difficult it is to reform the court, the bill was introduced by a Republican candidate for Secretary of State, Sen. Michele McManus, R-Lake Leelanau, and supported by GOP boosters the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, but it still did not get more than a hearing in committee controlled by Republicans and remains there.

Elizabeth Weaver is my new hero.

Partisan board member attacks those who question airport finances


A letter to the editor in today’s edition of the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus from a member of the allegedly nonpartisan Livingston County Aeronautical Facilities Board has more cheap, partisan political shots than facts.

You will recall that a couple of weeks ago the Livingston County Democratic Party pointed out that, according to county budget reports, the Livingston County Spencer J. Hardy Airport has lost $4.7 million over the last 10 years. The director of the airport Mark Johnson and board member Richard Pine objected to that claim, and promoted Pine, the wife of the former chair of the Livingston County Republican Party, to write the poison letter. At least he didn’t threaten to rip anyone’s “balls off.”

Pine claims, “Judy Daubenmier is wrong about the airport, which isn't surprising. While Democrats understand spending (that's how you buy votes), they don't understand investments anymore than they understand how to stimulate the economy.”

Someone should tell Pine that the Bush recession, the worst since the Great Depression, created this mess and how the stimulus is helping lift us out of it, despite the stalling tactics by members of his party. I disagree with him that you should “buy votes.”

The county and the airport was my beat for a few years beginning in 2000, and I actually agree with Pine when he says the “airport is a great asset for the future of this community.” However, I can assure you that many of his fellow Republicans on the Howell Township Board and people who live, actually once lived, near the airport, do not share that view.

This is a great statement from Pine: “Recognizing its potential, the federal government has invested about $30 million since 2000 to expand the airport. Those funds come from airport users, not taxpayers.”

Really; it’s not tax money? Great, then he should have no problem raising the gas tax because, after all, it comes from users, not taxpayers. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I don’t necessarily object to the use tax, but it is a tax.

Pine also claims that “The decision to expand the airport back in 2000 wasn't made lightly, but it was made. It was an investment in infrastructure. Even with the present economic downturn, the airport generates enough cash to pay back its loan and then some. When economic conditions improve, the airport will attract business and the county will make money. That's what investments are about.”

So, how is that investment by county and federal tax payers any different than the loans to GM and Chrysler or the stimulus in general?

Now, that may be true, but there is absolutely no way of knowing that. Kelly Raskauskas, D-Genoa Township, a candidate for the Livingston County Board of Commissioners made an excellent point.

“If the airport received $30 million in federal and state grants over the last 15 years, why hasn't this income been shown in annual county financial reports,” she said. “The airport website has zero financial information. Why make it so hard for county residents to figure out what's going on with their tax dollars?”

The revelation by the Livingston County Democratic Party earlier this month that the county taxpayers may be on the hook for $101 million in bonds in danger of default because townships used the full faith and credit of the county for special assessment districts (SAD) to build sewers for developers. The county was not very forthcoming with the information, and the newspaper ignored the story, even though a national newspaper had the story. It was the county party that really broke the story locally.

Pine says “The airport expansion wasn't a partisan issue at the time, so it's strange to see it made a partisan issue some 10 years after the decision was made.”” Really? The airport wasn’t losing millions of dollars when this began. There was plenty of opposition then, and I fail to see how pointing out the wasting of taxpayer money is a partisan issue.

But here is where we really understand what Pine is really all about: “But if I were a Democrat, I would be looking to divert attention away from the present economic mess and the trillions of dollars Democrats have added to the national debt. Our national debt isn't an investment, and the only way it will be repaid is through higher taxes and/or inflation.”

He seems to forget that it’s the Democrats that are getting us out of worst recession since the Great Depression created by Republican polices, and that Bush took a budget surplus and created a huge deficit. The Democrats have added to the debt in trying to stimulate the economy, not on a useless and unnecessary war and tax cuts for the rich that did nothing to stimulate the economy. Funny, when sainted Ronald Reagan created a huge deficit it Dick Cheney that said “Reagan proved that deficits don't matter.”

Why do they matter so much now?

But perhaps Pine can tell us what this has to with local races for County Commissioner.

“The question voters have to ask themselves is this: Would we be better off if the federal government behaved more like Livingston County, or if Livingston County behaved more like the federal government?”


The answer is there is much more transparency in the federal government, a huge Capitol press corps in Washington to expose waste and a federal government trying to fix the problems caused by the party that controls the government in Livingston County.

Partisan SOS blocks lawful nomination


EAST LANSING –U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Washington, D.C., was helped to his 111 vote victory in 2000 with the “Rogers law” that kept Michigan State University students from going to the polls in East Lansing, and now he has more help this time around to make sure there is not even a race, leaving him free to stay in Washington and raise even more corporate cash for the party.

A special committee of the 8th District stands ready to appoint Lance Enderle as the Democratic nominee for the 8th Congressional District, but Republican Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land is putting up a roadblock.

Lance Enderle, a teacher from Clinton County, appeared before a special committee on Wednesday night and discussed his plans for a campaign to defeat Rogers in November. The committee recommended that Democrats in the 8th Congressional District endorse Enderle at their caucus on Saturday during the Michigan Democratic Party convention at Cobo Hall in Detroit.

Committee members are prepared to appoint him as the nominee, but they learned that Land has refused to accept that the party’s previous nominee, Kande Ngalamulume, has moved out of state, even though she directed Ingham County officials to remove him from the voter rolls.

Ngalamulume has registered to vote in Pennsylvania and submitted to Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer a copy of his Pennsylvania voter registration receipt along with a notarized letter indicating that he has changed his permanent residency to Pennsylvania.

A copy of the letter was hand-delivered to the Bureau of Elections on Monday by the Michigan Democratic Party. State party Chair Mark Brewer informed the Bureau of Elections that the nomination was vacant and the Michigan Democratic Party would move promptly to fill the vacancy.

You will recall when this issue surfaced back in June that under election Michigan law, when a candidate for Congress moves out of state after the primary, the party may pick a replacement candidate to appear on the November ballot. The law provides that a committee made up of the chairs, secretaries and treasurers of each of the counties in the congressional district make the selection at a meeting convened by the secretary of the party’s state central committee. Nowhere does the law say that the party must wait for the secretary of state to declare a vacancy or remove a candidate’s name.

Committee members said since Ngalamulume was allowed to register to vote in Pennsylvania it is clear that he has moved out of Michigan and that Land is merely fabricating her own hurdles to try to keep a viable Democratic candidate off the ballot.

Land is term-limited, and Democrats this weekend plan to officially nominate Jocelyn Benson, a Wayne State University professor of election law, as their candidate to replace her. Unlike the highly partisan Land, Benson has pledged to take an “Oath of Nonpartisanship” promising to be neutral and non-partisan in administering election laws.

The section of Michigan law in question says that once the party selects a replacement candidate, the candidate’s name “shall” be printed on the general election ballot and does not give Land authority to try to block the party’s action. The law states: “The name of the candidate so selected shall be certified immediately by the secretary of the state central committee to the secretary of state and to the board of election commissioners for each county, whose duty it is to prepare the official ballots; and said board shall cause to be printed or placed upon such ballots, in the proper place, the name of the candidate so selected and certified to fill such vacancy.”

Enderle is a progressive Democrat, and he says he believes in small business, agriculture, tax equality and individual Freedom. He said he believes money has nearly destroyed the political process, and he has pledged he will not take any PAC or any special interest money against Rogers’ chests full of corporate and PAC cash.

Aug 26, 2010

Dumb picks dumber as running mate


Michigan Republican gubernatorial nominee Rick Snyder chose rightwing State Rep. Brian Calley, R-Portland, as his running mate on Wednesday, but its’ unclear which one of the two will be dumb and who will be dumber.

Calley, the former banker and two-term State Representative, helped write the Michigan Business Tax (MBT) and the 22 percent surcharge passed back in 2007 that replaced the hated Single Business Tax (SBT). Ironically, Snyder had harsh words for the work of his running mate, calling the MBT a job killer, just days before he made the choice.

He told his hometown “newspaper,” Ann Arbor.com, that the creation of the 2007 tax is “like Lansing went to the video store and rented ‘Dumb and Dumber.’”

“We’ve got an environment now where we’re killing job creation through the Michigan business tax. It is absolutely awful,” he said.

The teabaggers who appear to control the GOP and are pushing it off the cliff are not happy with the moderate and unknown Snyder, so the pick of a conservative is a move to shut them up and try and get them onboard.

We know very little about Snyder and his plans and policies because he refuses to debate with the Democratic nominee, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, and he appears to be just trying to run the clock out to November before voters really can get to know him.

We do know that he knows absolutely nothing about state government, he’s rich and he outsourced thousands of U.S. jobs while he was in charge at Gateway Computers.

While Snyder was an official at Gateway Computers, the company outsourced nearly 20,000 American jobs to China and other parts of Asia. But Snyder took good care of himself at the same time - cashing-out tens of millions of dollars in stock options while the lives of thousands were ruined. While he served on the board of directors Snyder was sued in 2000 along with two other Gateway executives. The issue was that Snyder cashed in on 355,000 stock options worth $23.7 million at a time that executives admitted they misrepresented the company’s financial outlook.

Now, we know he will do anything and say anything to win, even compromise his alleged principals.

That’s in sharp contrast to Mayor Bernero who has led by example. He's cut his own pay, doubled his health insurance premium, and gave up his city-funded car to share in the sacrifice of Michigan's workers.

His job creation record is outstanding. The Lansing Economic Development Corp. reports that Lansing has created 5,311 jobs and saved 1,722 for a total of 7,033 jobs since Bernero became mayor in 2006. Bernero has leveraged over $500 million dollars in new job-creating investments in Lansing, and he helped launch the area's first regional public-private economic development initiative.

Calley’s selection also sets up an interesting development. He won the primary for the 33rd District Senate seat to replace term-limited Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, the most rightwing member of the Senate. It’s unclear how Calley’s name will come off the ballot and who will replace him.

Aug 25, 2010

Commemorate the historic Walk to Freedom on Saturday and march for justice


Saturday will be a great day for those who love freedom and equality, and there will be at least two ways to demonstrate it.

The Michigan Democratic Party is holding its nominating convention on Saturday and Sunday in Detroit’s Cobo Hall, but many delegates, myself included, are going to take a break from the informative caucus meetings to join Rev. Jessie Jackson and a coalition of organizations and union, community, religious and political leaders to march to demand real change for working families and all of America and to commemorate the historic Walk to Freedom led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Detroit in 1963.

The march will step off at 10:30 a.m. at the UAW-Ford National Programs Center, next to Hart Plaza, 151 W. Jefferson Ave., and it ends at Grand Circus Park.

Dr. King was a long and strong supporter of organized labor, and he saw the rights of workers as part of the fight for Civil Rights.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) archivist Bob Garrett, the Detroit march took place when Dr. King was then in the midst of a tour that began that spring of 1963 from California to New York. His Detroit stop proved the tour's biggest success. Police estimated the Freedom Walk crowd at 125,000. The day after the event, The Detroit Free Press labeled it "the largest civil rights demonstration in the nation's history." The walk began at Woodward and Adelaide and continued down Woodward to Cobo Hall. It lasted about an hour and a half, as marchers carried signs and sang songs, such "We Shall Overcome" and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

The Detroit Council for Human Rights organized the Walk. The Council's director, Benjamin McFall, and its Chairman, Rev. Clarence L. Franklin, marched in a line with King and former Gov. John B. Swainson. That line also included Detroit Mayor Jerome Cavanaugh, United Auto Workers President Walter P. Reuther and State Auditor General Billie S. Farnum.

At the walk's conclusion, King gave a speech at Cobo Hall. According to the Free Press, approximately 25,000 people attended the speech. They listened as King spoke of non-violence and an end to racial segregation. The June 24, 1963 Free Press report notes that King "ended his speech by telling of a dream." According to the Free Press, King described his dream of whites and blacks "walking together hand in hand, free at last."

In his book King: A Biography, David Levering Lewis states that King repeated the phrase "I have a dream" several times during that Cobo Hall speech. Lewis notes that when King addressed a crowd in Washington, D.C. two months later, he "kept the refrain from the Detroit speech: I have a dream."

Saturday will also mark the day of King's historic Washington speech of August 28, 1963 that became famous as his "I have a dream speech." It was a defining moment in the American civil rights movement. In one sense, however, the seeds of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream were planted in Michigan - in Detroit's Cobo Hall.

See you there.

Aug 24, 2010

The ginned up controversy over the mosque that is not a mosque continues


The ginned up controversy over the building of the Islamic community center in lower Manhattan near the site of the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 that is not a mosque continue to go on for some strange, unknown reason.

The controversy is confusing when you consider they have had a mosque in the same neighborhood for many years even closer, located just two blocks away from the proposed community center, city officials support the project and Muslims have been praying at the Pentagon, the other building hit on Sept. 11, for many years. What is planned is really a community center, complete with basketball courts, a swimming pool and cooking schools. It’s essentially, a YMCA, as columnist and author Charlie Pierce pointed out. A YMIA, if you will.

"This is no more a mosque than Logan Airport is a church because it has a chapel,” he said.

Yet, the controversy gets worse and continues to divide Americans and trash the U.S. Constitution. To find out why, you just need to look at how the fear-mongering got started and who is behind it. Salon does a great job summing it up.

When it was first brought to light, even people like rightwing hatemonger and radio host Laura Ingraham endorsed it while guest-hosting "The O'Reilly Factor," of all places. Then she apparently got her copy of the rightwing talking points.

Rightwing bloggger and bigot Pamela Geller then began misrepresenting the facts, and the vast rightwing echo chamber ran with it, and here we are today.

To get a hint at how crazy this woman really is and how much she hates Muslims, she once tried to pass off the lie that President Obama was the illegitimate son of Malcolm X. She is also a member of the anti-Muslim hate group called, Stop Islamization of America (SIOA).

This hate group not only wants to stop the Islamic Community Center from being built, it wants to stop any Mosque from being built.

Aug 23, 2010

Republican hypocrisy is on display with Board of Canvassers vote

The two activist Republican members of the State Board of Canvassers refused to vote to certify the petitions of the Tea Party and place its candidates on the November ballot, resulting in a 2-2 deadlock and sending it to the courts.

The Tea Party had submitted 59,535 petition signatures, and based on sampling, the state found the group had 45,150 valid signatures, well above the 38,013 signatures required by law. The board of canvassers was only charged by law to verify the signatures, not how they were collected; and nothing else.

The fake, Astroturf teabaggers have always claimed this was a nonpartisan, grassroots effort that was neither Republican nor Democratic, and teabaggers are claiming this petition drive was an effort by Democrats to place the “tea party” on the ballot and drain off Republican votes.

That may or may not be true, and I could care less if they are on the ballot or not. However, it has proved that the teabagger farce is just the militant arm of the Republican Party that was bought and paid for by a pair of rightwing, Washington, D.C. think tanks and lobby firms, and not some nonpartisan, grassroots movement consisting of both Republicans and Democrats.

That’s what I and others have been saying since this farce began last year.
This vote by the two board members just displays the hypocrisy of the Republicans. A similar situation occurred in 2006 when fraud and deception were used to place Proposal 2 on the ballot that banned affirmative action programs based on race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin.

Despite widespread allegations of fraud, no other body or office in the state was allowed to look into the fraud committed, In fact, Republicans went out of his way to take powers away from the state Board of Canvassers because they were concerned with the fraud committed.

The Board off Canvassers also voted 2-2 in 2006 to deny putting it on the ballot, but after court challenges, both state and federal courts ruled the board of canvassers did not have the ability to deny ballot access based on how signatures were collected or fraud was used to collect them.

That ruling should have prevailed today.

Bernero knows importance of early childhood education


The Michigan Democratic Party and the Republican Party are holding their state nominating conventions this weekend, but a new party is holding their convention on Thursday: the newly formed Sandbox Party.

The free convention will be held at Michigan State University’s Breslin Student Events Center from 1-4 p.m. on Aug. 26. The convention is free and open to all – kids are especially encouraged to attend with their families -- and thousands of supporters from across the state are expected. There will be family entertainment, exhibitors and special appearances by popular Michigan sports, music and news personalities. Featured entertainment includes the Michigan rock band The Verve Pipe.

The convention guest speakers will be Democratic Gubernatorial nominee Virg Bernero and Republican Rick Snyder.

The Sandbox Party was just formed in June during a new conference at Lansing’s Educational Child Care Center, near a sandbox where several young children were playing. Representatives from the following organizations participated in the event: Michigan’s Children, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Michigan, Children’s Trust Fund, Michigan League for Human Services, Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children, Michigan Council for Maternal and Child Health, Michigan Association of United Ways, the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health, ECIC, the Great Start Collaboratives, the Great Start Parent Coalitions, the state Department of Education, Department of Community Health and Department of Human Services.

Despite Senate Republicans all cuts budgets the last two years, 83 percent of Michigan voters in a poll last year said early childhood development and education programs are an “absolute necessity” for their community, and 75 percent want them spared from state budget cuts. Early childhood education is an investment that will pay dividends later in life for both the child and society, and that investment will save millions of tax dollars in the long run.

It’s cheaper to educate a child at an early age when they are developing than to house and feed then in a prison.

That’s something that Virg Bernero understands. In fact, his wife is an elementary school principal.

He believes that education is economic development and deserves to be a top priority in our effort to return Michigan back to greatness. Bernero also believes in investing in our young people to ensure they are prepared to succeed in a new and global economy, which amounts to a renewed effort to invest in human capital. Michigan is only as strong as its ability to train, educate and innovate. Failure is not an option.

Aug 20, 2010

Cast your vote to improve Michigan State Parks


Michigan is blessed with almost 100 state parks and recreation areas that accommodate a wide variety of activities, and residents have an opportunity to improve them.

Michigan is also home to more than 100 public beaches, some of the highest freshwater sand dunes in the world, stunning multi-colored sandstone cliffs, two National Lakeshores and the only national marine sanctuary in the Great Lakes--the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron. More than 100 lighthouses, numerous maritime museums, 10 shipwreck-diving preserves and historic military fortifications rim Michigan's Great Lakes shoreline.

Lakes, campgrounds, wildlife refuges and 99 Michigan state parks and recreation areas create a wide variety of recreational pursuits. Rivers for water sports, and thousands of miles of hiking, biking, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling trails thread their way among some 100 species of trees. You are never more than half an hour from a Michigan State Park, State Forest Campground, State Recreation Area or State trail system.

The Odwalla Juice Company launched its Third Annual Plant a Tree program, a partnership between Odwalla and America's State Parks to support the environment and help with important reforestation and planting initiatives. The good news is that Odwalla has increased the voting limit to five votes per user. If you voted only once the first time around or missed out on voting entirely, you may now vote up to five times to plant trees in Michigan state parks and recreation areas. The voting deadline has also been extended to Sept. 1, or until the remaining tree funds are exhausted. Michigan will use its dollars to purchase trees for areas heavily affected by the Emerald Ash borer and other invasive pests.

Michigan employees responded quickly to an earlier request and helped push Michigan into the lead, but with the new five-for-one voting, Pennsylvania is beginning to close the gap. There is still roughly $40,000 worth of free trees available for planting – or voting – in the contest. Please take a minute to do something meaningful and long-lasting for Michigan’s great outdoor spaces. Visit the web site and cast your votes today, and encourage your colleagues, friends and family to do the same. Let’s make Michigan the top vote-getter two years in a row.

Last year, Michigan received over $50,000 from Odwalla. This money was used to purchase trees for some of the State Parks and Recreation Areas that have been heavily impacted by the Emerald Ash borer, and other exotic forest pests. This year, Michigan will continue replanting efforts in these heavily impacted areas.

A 6-character tree code is required for each vote, and they are available in Park Visitor Welcome Kits. However, if you have not had the privilege visiting one of Michigan’s beautiful State Parks yet, you can use the code MI5000, but it can only be used for one vote per email address. If you are interested in obtaining a welcome kit for your own use, you can call the DNRE at (517) 373-0399 and request one.

Don't forget to vote.

Snyder trying to run the clock out until November


As expected, Republican gubernatorial nominee Rick Snyder continues to duck and try to weasel out of debates with Democratic nominee and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero.

Like he did in the primary election when he only took part in one of the five debates and held staged “town hall meetings” in front of friendly audiences, he is stalling and using the same strategy in the General Election. He is hoping he can continue to stall and run out the clock until November and con people, praying they do not find out how little he knows about state government and that he has no real plan for Michigan.

Bernero appeared on the radio show “City Pulse On The Air” on Thursday and said the Snyder campaign is more interested in "the size of the table," "the size of the podium" and other assorted "nonsense."

“You've got to face the music,” Bernero said. “We're not running for county commissioner here. This is governor for the state of Michigan. We should be debating over the next two months in every region of the state. We owe that to the public. Let them shop and compare. Let them kick the tires. They're going to be stuck with one of us the next four years."

Snyder spin doctor, Green Oak Township resident and GOP dirty trickster Bill Nowling, is doing his best to spin the Snyder cowardice, but he does not have much to work with.

He told subscription only MIRS that “what the Snyder camp doesn't want is a free-for-all public spectacle that only "Lansing reporters" would enjoy watching. Reminded about the 2006 gubernatorial debate in which Republican gubernatorial nominee and fellow outsourcer Dick DeVos gave a now-infamous blank stare to the camera after being thrown off right out of the gate by a Tim Skubick question, Nowling responded, "Yeah, nobody is interested in that."

Well, Snyder and Nowling are not interested in answering tough questions from people who know what’s going on in the State Capitol, but many voters are. That’s simply Snyder ducking the debates.

Like I have said before, Snyder is wrapped himself so tightly in the outsider blanket that he wants nothing to interfere with that expensive image he bought with the millions he made cheating stockholders; like facts and the fact he has no idea how state government works. His preferred campaign mode is the millions he has spent on 30-scond TV commercials crafting the false image of “one tough nerd” and in front of friendly audiences who someone believes state government can be run like a business where you can fire the elected Legislature if they don’t do what you want.

Good luck with that, but that bought and paid for image will be destroyed after the first debate

Hazardous waste injection well facility may be reopened

A potentially disastrous environmental issue Downriver residents have been fighting against for years and thought was dead may be coming back to life.

A meeting will be hosted in Romulus to discuss the Environmental Geo-Technologies, LLC’s (EGT) hazardous waste operating license application to operate the former Environmental Disposal Services (EDS) facility in Romulus. The meeting will take place Tuesday, August 31 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Crown Plaza Hotel at 8000 Merriman Rd.

The deep injection well for hazardous waste uses the method of disposing of hazardous waste by injecting it to the 4,477-foot well that was designed to bury 100 million gallons of liquid waste per year underground, including chemicals like methanol, acetone and ammonia. The project has been around for 20 years when it was first proposed in 1990 and built in 1993.

Since the EDS facility was shut down in 2006, the Detroit Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS) has partnered with Greektown’s Dimitrios “Jim” Papas, to operate the facility for the pension fund. Jim Papas’ company, EGT, had been seeking to acquire the necessary permits. Decisions on these matters were postponed when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) terminated the UIC permits for the former EDS facility and the Department of Natural Resources and Environment initiated action to revoke the operating license. Due to a recent lawsuit settlement, operators can now proceed in acquiring the necessary approvals to resume operations.

State Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, has been fighting the well for many years, and he encourages the Downriver community and anyone with a vested interest in the fate of the former EDS facility, to speak out in opposition at the August 31st meeting.

“I encourage residents to attend this meeting to address the fate of this hazardous waste facility and voice their concerns on this potential threat to our community,” he said. “I strongly oppose any efforts to re-open this facility and feel it’s important to unite and form a strong voice against these measures.”

Written comments will be accepted on or before the close of the public meeting and may be submitted at the meeting, emailed to EGT at info@envgeotech.com or mailed to EGT at 28470 Citrin Drive, Romulus, MI 48174.

Aug 19, 2010

Replace racist Schlessinger with a liberal/progressive talker


Now that rightwing talk show host “Dr.” Laura Schlessinger has given up her show after her racist tirade last week, perhaps WJR, the rightwing voice of the Great Lakes, can hire a progressive liberal talker and restore just a touch of balance and increase their ratings.

It makes no sense that the most powerful radio station in one of the most liberal cites in America in a Blue state has not a single progressive/liberal voice in the lineup. There are some excellent choices out there that thrive, despite being on fewer stations and on the lower power stations.

My choice is Stephanie Miller, but there are many successful hosts to choose from, like Thom Hartman – with Michigan roots – Ed Schultz, Randi Rhoades, Bill Press and many more.

Call or write WJR and ask them to restore some balance and fairness so they can again be called the “Great Voice of the Great Lakes.”

You can call them at (313) 875-4440 or toll free at (800) 859-0957; email them via their web site at http://www.wjr.net/contactus.asp or even snail mail at
News/Talk 760 WJR
3011 West Grand Blvd.
Suite 800
Detroit, MI 48202
General Information: (313) 875-4440

Majority of restaurants doing fine with smoking ban


According a survey trumpeted and conducted by the less than honest Michigan Restaurant Association (MRA), 42.4 percent of its members say their business has decreased since the workplace smoking ban went into effect on May 1.

The MRA and the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA) have in the past floated debunked studies to make a point, so I would take this with a grain of salt. But what has been missed is that a majority, 57.4 percent, have shown an increase in sales or no change in sales since the ban went into effect three months ago.

The survey found 14.8 percent reported an increase in sales since the ban went into effect while 43 percent of restaurant operators reported no change in sales since the ban was implemented. With only 20.4 percent of the Michigan population, it’s hard to impossible to see how they can have much of an effect on any business, other than the tobacco industry.

The real bonus is that the public and employees have been protected from deadly secondhand smoke and this has always been a public health issue. Even though the media buried the lead on this one, they have been doing an excellent job in reporting how poplar the ban is with 75 percent of Michigan residents supporting it and how well bars and restaurant are doing.

Emily Palsrok, spokeswoman for Campaign for Smokefree Air, summed it up nicely.

"Michigan residents have been overwhelming supportive and pleased with the new smoke-free air law,” she said. “We stand firmly behind our research and data that smoke-free air is good for business and good for our health."

Aug 18, 2010

Democratic candidates vow to reform backward-looking board

The seven Democratic candidates for Livingston County Commission held a press conference on Monday where they outlined their common sense plan want to provide “Smart Leadership, Smart Growth” for the county’s future.

The candidates, six of whom are challenging Republican incumbents, described a platform that includes making county government more transparent, requiring the county airport to pay for itself, improving county infrastructure and seeking realistic solutions to the county’s multi-million dollar debt crisis.

The Democratic challengers also pledged to make the county more welcoming to business with a “one-stop shop” for new companies, more promotion of local businesses, and an improved county website to showcase Livingston as a desirable place to live and work. In addition, they promised to protect funding for needy veterans and create an active parks and recreation department to improve the quality of life for Livingston residents.

“Livingston County is at a crossroads,” said Kelly Raskauskas of Genoa Township, candidate for County Commissioner in District 7. “The decisions we make now have a direct impact on our ability to succeed in the future.”

Raskauskas said there are many instances when the incumbents have not shown “smart leadership.” She cited the County Commissioners’ failure to adequately publicize the availability of $24 million in small business funding under the Federal Recovery Act; allowing the county airport to run up millions of dollars in operating losses, and finally the decision to back millions of dollars in bonds issued by townships for infrastructure in subdivisions that were never finished. The debt has put the county in a financial crisis, leading to requests for a state taxpayer bailout for one of the richest counties in the state.

Keith Tianen of Putnam Township, County Commissioner candidate from District 6, said another example of poor leadership was the incumbents’ failure to respond when MDOT threatened to close a portion of M-36 for a year, putting local businesses and 100 jobs at risk.

“The Republican incumbents sat on their hands when businesses and jobs were on the line, but I stepped up and worked with Stakeholders in Dire Straits to challenge MDOT’s project and forced it to change its plan and protect local jobs,” he said. “Where were the Republican incumbents when local businesses needed their help?”

Dane Morris of Hartland Township, candidate in District 3, criticized the failure of the Commission to develop into parks two parcels of land that were donated to the county specifically for recreational purposes.

“To let our current parks sit idle and unused robs our families and youth of the recreational opportunities that our community so desperately needs, and to let these resources sit idle is an embarrassment and inexcusable,” he said.

The individual planks of the “Smart Leadership, Smart Growth” platform are:

-- Stop bailouts for the county’s Spencer J. Hardy Airport, which has posted $4.7 million in total losses since 2000 and received $2.7 million in funds from the county budget. The County Commission should follow its own policy of requiring business-type operations to pay their own way. The money wasted on the airport could have gone to improve county roads, public health or other projects of benefit to all county residents.

-- Improve county roads. The County Commission’s refusal to support more road funds has left Livingston County with some of the worst roads in the state – some 41 percent are in “poor” condition according to a November 2009 report from the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association. As a result of county inaction, individual townships have been forced to ask voters to approve road millages.

--Improve the business climate with a “one-stop shop” for entrepreneurs; supporting local businesses and encouraging local businesses to work together.

--Support a study into the feasibility of WALLY, the Ann Arbor to Howell commuter rail line that has been endorsed by the City of Howell, Hamburg Township, the Howell Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Brighton Chamber of Commerce.

--Seek solutions to the county’s debt crisis brought on by excessive borrowing for unfinished subdivisions. Special meetings should be held to explain the issue to the public. The commissioners should immediately adopt a new borrowing policy to show they will no longer risk the county’s full faith and credit to support developer hand-outs.

--Insure greater transparency for commission business by using web, media, and other methods to inform the public, and soliciting feedback from residents at least once every two years on county business.

-- Create an active County Parks and Recreation Commission that utilizes all of its properties and resources to the maximum extent so that families throughout the county have access to recreational spaces.

-- Cut pension, health, dental, and life insurance benefits for part-time County Commissioners, whose annual salaries range from $15,325 to $18,114.

--Retain the levy that provides relief for needy veterans in the county, which the current Republican incumbents failed to levy for decades and then only reluctantly approved in 2009.

The seven Democratic candidates are: Thomn Bell, Oceola Township, District 2; Dane Morris, Hartland Township, District 3; Dave Berry, Conway Township, District 5; Keith Tianen, Putnam Township, District 6; Kelly Raskauskas, Genoa Township/Brighton City, District 7; Amir Baghdadchi, Hamburg Township, District 8, and Barry McBride, Green Oak Township, District 9.

There is no reason the Islamic community center in lower Manhattan should not be built


The things the rightwing chooses to make an issue over never ceases to amaze me, as does why people, especially Democrats, listen to them.

One such non-issue is the plan to build an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan. It has been characterized by the right as building an Islamic Mosque at the site of the so-called Ground Zero at the site of the former World Trade Center where the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 took place, when the facts are it is not a Mosque and its three blocks from ground zero.

Even if it were a Mosque being built right over the top of ground zero, so what? This country was founded on religious freedom. Now, some rightwing bigots, like Steve Emerson, have made a career bashing one of the world's’ great religions, but this is just ridiculous.

The reaction is just typical of people like Emerson who promote racial profiling of men of Middle Eastern descent and make the false claim that all Muslim groups are terrorist front groups. The 9/11 terrorists were extremists and not representative of the Muslim religion.

Every religion has extremists that are way out of the mainstream. Christians do not embrace the idiots at the Westboro Baptist Church who claim God hates America because we offer, almost, equal rights to gays. Just because these idiots show up at the funerals of soldiers and sailors killed in Iraq and Afghanistan with signs that say “God hates fags” does that mean all Christens feel the same way or support that action?

To me, building a Mosque or a Muslim community center there sends a clear message to the world and the Muslim extremists that the United States is the greatest and most open and free country in the world, and no matter how hard you try, we will never give up an ounce of our freedom or civil liberties in the face of cowardly terrorism. If it doesn’t get built because of hate, prejudice and intolerance, then the terrorists on 9/11 accomplished their mission.

Clearly, if the community center meets local zoning laws and is approved by the local planning commission it should be built, and there is absolutely no reason it should not be built.

Aug 17, 2010

Teabaggers causing problems at GOP convention

If you would have told me a few years ago that the Republican Party could move any farther to the tight I would have said that was impossible, but the extreme Astroturf Teabaggers are driving the party off the cliff.

Subscription only MIRS is reporting there may be some fireworks at the GOP state convention in Lansing on Aug. 28. Bill Ballanger, editor and publisher of Inside Michigan Politics and one of the most respected pundits in the state, told MIRS that the convention “could be pandemonium.”

“The convention could be pandemonium,” he said in MIRS. “Who gets the lieutenant governor nomination and the secretary of state nomination could be on hold. It could spill over into Sunday."

MIRS also reported that the county conventions on Thursday were a zoo. It appears the same thing even happened in predominantly Republican Livingston County, despite attempts at spin to downplay it, and the tea baggers are causing a split.

Apparently, the state convention is supposed to be a one-day convention without caucus meetings, but MIRS is reporting that Gene Clem, a leading tea bagger, said “a movement is underfoot to have a pre-convention on Friday night” for teabagger delegates.

Clem told MIRS “the group may also take a straw poll at that Friday night caucus over what is expected to be the biggest convention battle -- the race for the party's nomination for Secretary of State.”

The problem is there have been no arrangements for a Friday night caucus.

For all the excessive media coverage of the predominantly racist and fringe tea baggers, they had very little effect in the primary election. But Ballanger said the tea baggers are making some noise at the convention. After all, the teabagger farce has always been the radical and millitant fringe of the Republican Party.

"I would say this is the biggest insurgent wave to hit the Michigan Republican Party since the Pat Robinson takeover in 1987," Ballenger said in MIRS. "I don't think we had a real showing by the Tea Party manifesting itself in the primaries.”

Aug 16, 2010

American Legion Post breaks the law they vowed to uphold


In my 20 year Navy career, I never once thought that service made me above the law or that I didn’t have to follow the laws of the state or nation; someone should tell that to the members of American Legion Post 444 in Baraga at the base of the Keweenaw Bay in the Upper Peninsula.

They are breaking the state’s workplace smoking ban that includes bars and restaurants that went into effect on May 1, making the ridiculous claim that deadly secondhand is “what freedom looks like,” according to auxiliary post member Anita Shepard. No, it’s what flouting and disregarding the law looks like.

Post spokesman Joseph O'Leary claims its “not about the smoking, It's about the right to choose to allow the use of a legal substance on our property.“ No, the workplace smoking ban is a public health issue, and it’s about protecting the 80 percent of the population who choose not to endanger their health.

This is not the first time military veterans have made the claim that their service has earned them the right to ignore the law. Even before the law went into effect, American Legion posts and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) posts launched a petition drive with the claim that the law didn’t apply to them.

Even military leaders have long recognized the harmful effects of smoking, both first and secondhand smoke, and they banned it on ships some 20 years ago. Just last spring the U.S. Navy banned smoking on submarines, despite having the most advanced atmosphere purification technology in the world.

But the post in Baraga has gone farther than anyone in breaking the law, and Post Commander Rick Geroux issued a notice to members and employees that he thinks his post is above the law and would not follow it.

According to reporter Dawson Bell, “several citizen complaints were filed about the post's noncompliance, and local health officials sent notices of violation. Geroux responded with a news release July 16 that described the new law as unconstitutional and un-American.”

That is just per BS. I challenge Mr. Geroux to show me where in the Constitution it says you have a right to smoke. The fact is the government has an obligation to protect the public from poison like secondhand smoke and other deadly substances, and if anything it’s un-American not to protect the public from deadly substances.

The article said “several of the elder statesmen point out the government provided the smokes and hooked them on the habit when they were in the service.” That is simply not true. No doubt the military practically encouraged serviceberry to smoke, but over the last couple of decades it has tried to correct that mistake.

Tobacco companies did provide free cigarettes during World War II, but that was as big a PR move as big tobacco spending billions of dollars to convince people they have some kind of constitutional right to smoke. But it was more than PR; it was an investment by hooking millions of young men that earned them billons of dollars over the years, despite the clear scientific proof of the harmful health effects of smoking.

One more reason not to vote for the party of no ideas in November


The news that General Motors Co. reported a second consecutive quarterly profit on Thursday is just one more reason why we should not give the keys back to the party of no in November that ran the economy into the ditch.

GM’s reported a $1.33 billion profit in the second quarter, but we need to remind people that the majority of Republicans were against the government loans that kept thousands of American workers employed and the economy growing after the Bush recession, the worst since the Great Depression.

The simple fact is Republicans have absolutely no plan for the economy, and when pressed for any idea at all, other than no, they basically want to go back to the disastrous Bush polices that almost threw us into a depression. They even want to go back to Bush’s awful plan of privatizing Social Security, and some teabagger Republicans actually want to do away with Social Security and Medicare.

Social Security is the major source of income for most of the elderly, and nine out of 10 individuals age 65 and older receive Social Security benefits. Republicans want to do away with it? I guess that’s not surprising from a party that blocked unemployment benefits for workers while giving huge tax breaks to the richest 1 percent.

I can’t think of a single reason to vote for a Republican in November.

It was Democrats and President Obama who may have diverted another depression. There is no way that can be known for sure, but Economists Alan Blinder of Princeton and Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics say Democrats diverted a depression.

According to the Associated Press, when “Obama was campaigning for president in 2008, the country was mired in the worst economic downturn since the 1930s.A crisis with subprime mortgages created panic dominos in the real estate, insurance, banking and auto industries, and credit markets virtually froze around the globe. Home values slid by $3.3 trillion in the last three months of 2008, Zillow Real Estate Reports said. The iconic Dow Jones industrial average plummeted from a high of 14,164 on Oct. 9, 2007, to a 12-year low of 6,547 on March 9, 2009. An average of 620,000 Americans lost their jobs every month from October 2008 to May 2009, and unemployment spiked from 5 percent in January 2008 to 10.1 percent in October 2009. The U.S. economy, as measured by gross domestic product, contracted by an annual rate of 6.3 percent in the last quarter of 2008 and 5.7 percent in the first three months of 2009.”

“Today, by contrast, home prices have stabilized, though unevenly by region; the economy is growing again, albeit at an anemic 2.4 percent in the second quarter; stocks are up more than 60 percent; joblessness remains at a painfully high 9.5 percent.”


The goal today, thanks to Democrats, is to keep the economy moving and increase employment, not to save the country from economic ruin because they already did that.

There is no way Republicans should get the keys to the car back, and we do not need to go back to the failed Bush policies.

Aug 13, 2010

GOP wants to abolish the 14th Amendment

Fear mongering has long been a stable of the Republican campaign platform, and illegal immigration from Mexico is the latest issue to the GOP has grabbed onto.

With high unemployment, Republicans and teabaggers have jumped all over illegal immigration with the false claim that they are taking American jobs, while ignoring the people actually hiring them at substandard wages. The recently passed Arizona unconstitutional racist “show-me-your-papers” law is little more than another attempt by Republicans to suppress minority voting.

The fact is deportations are up under President Obama. In fact, the Obama administration is deporting record numbers of undocumented workers and auditing hundreds of businesses that blithely hire undocumented workers. According toe CBS News, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency expects to deport about 400,000 people this fiscal year, nearly 10 percent above the Bush administration's 2008 total and 25 percent more than were deported in 2007.

That begs the questions, where were the teabaggers when Bush was ignoring the immigration problem, just like they were silent was Bush was running the economy into the ground and turning a budget surplus into a deficit?

Not only has President Obama sent the National Guard to patrol the border with Mexico, just today he signed into law a $600 million border security measure that will put more agents and equipment along the Mexican border. It will fund the hiring of 1,000 new Border Patrol agents to be deployed at critical areas along the border, as well as more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. It also provides for new communications equipment and greater use of unmanned surveillance drones.

As expected, that will not sway GOP teabaggers from making the false claim that the federal government is not securing the border nor will Obama get any credit.

Teabaggers and other prominent Republicans, including Senators John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, are now calling for repealing the 14th Amendment, which guarantees citizenship to all people born in the United States to combat the so-called “anchor babies.”

The 14th Amendment is one of the three Reconstruction Amendments, adopted in 1868 to ensure freed slaves are citizens of the United States. Its Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses have gone a long way toward combating institutional racism and equality.

Republicans claim that people enter the country illegally in order to have children who are automatically U.S. citizens and who will "anchor" their parents to America.

Lindsey told Faux “news” that “people come here to have babies. They come here to drop a child. It's called 'drop and leave.' To have a child in America, they cross the border, they go to the emergency room, have a child, and that child's automatically an American citizen. That shouldn't be the case. That attracts people here for all the wrong reasons."

The problem with that rant is that the facts do not bear that out. According to an AP story, “People who study patterns of illegal immigration say that this statement is probably not true in the vast number of birthright citizenship cases. The co-author of the Pew study told Time's Kate Pickert that "well over 80 percent" of the 340,000 births to an illegal immigrant in 2008 were to a mother who had been in the country for at least a year, suggesting they did not come to the country specifically to have a child. And "birth tourism" — in which people purportedly come to America specifically to have a child and then return with the child to their country — seems to be relatively uncommon.”

This is really a non-issue because children have to “wait until they are 21 to seek legal status for an illegal-immigrant parent. According to Politifact, "Only 4,000 unauthorized immigrants can receive such status per year, and the alien has to have been in the U.S. for at least 10 years."”

Clearly, we need comprehensive immigration reform.

I guess if Republicans want to abolish an amendment, perhaps they can look at the 2nd Amendment. After all, a well regulated militia is called the National Guard and the U.S. Army.

Snyder trying to weasel out of debates


Lansing Mayor and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Virg Bernero accepted three debates across the state on Thursday, and he said he would work with Republican nominee Rick Snyder to accept more. However, it appears the Snyder campaign is trying to get out of them just like he did with the Republicans debates during the primary election.

Bernero formally issued a challenge earlier this month to hold eight debates before the November 2 election. However, Snyder is clinging to this “outsider” tag with a death grip, and that’s why the public knows so little about his stand on issues. He has declined to fill out questionnaires from the many groups that endorse or present information on the candidates to the public or their members, and he has ducked GOP debates; instead holding “ town hall” meetings around the state in front of friendly audiences.

Bernero issued a press release on Thursday saying he has accepter the three debates. The three debates Bernero has accepted include a WOOD-TV debate on Sept. 21, a joint WXYZ/WWJ/Crain’s Detroit Business debate on Oct. 21, and a debate that will air on WKAR-TV, WJBK Fox 2 in Detroit, WLNS Channel 6 in Lansing, Michigan Public Broadcasting stations, WWJ Radio in Detroit, the Michigan Radio Network and other commercial TV and radio stations on Oct. 7 at 7 p.m.

"We’ve been inundated with offers for debates, and we appreciate the offers, and will work with the Snyder campaign to schedule more debates to give Michigan voters the opportunity to know what we really stand for, and our vision and plans to put Michigan back to work.” Bernero said. “The people of Michigan are starved for a chance to compare candidates side by side, and we’re committed to giving voters every opportunity to see us debate.”

Not so fast.

According to subscription only Gongwer, “Snyder spokesperson Bill Nowling said Mr. Snyder has not agreed to appear at the three debates cited by Mr. Bernero. No negotiations between the campaigns have occurred, Mr. Nowling said.” Livingston County residents are familiar with Nowling and his problems with telling the truth, so I’m not sure what that really means.

It’s obvious Snyder doesn’t really want to debate, based on how badly he performed in the few he did during the primary and that fact that most of his appearances have been so controlled and only in front of friendly audiences and friendly media.

This could also be a face saving angle for the Snyder campaign to make sure as few people as possible actually see any debate he agrees to. Snyder is wrapped himself so tightly in the outsider blanket that he wants nothing to interfere with that expensive image he bought with the millions he made cheating stockholders; like facts and the fact he has no idea how state government works. His preferred campaign mode is the millions he has spent on 30-scond TV commercials crafting the false image of “one tough nerd.”

Even Nowling’s quote tells us that.

“We will leave the debate about debates to the career politicians,” he told Gongwer.

Fortunately, government is nothing like a private business. He can’t just tell the Legislature what to do and fire them if they don’t comply, and he can’t outsource the jobs of 20,000 state employees to China to balance the budget like he did at Gateway.

Aug 12, 2010

The ignored side of illegal immigration

Here is the part of illegal immigration that right-wingers who support Arizona's unconstitutional racist “show-me-your-papers” law ignore and why we need comprehensive immigration reform.

Jobs with Justice (JWJ) is reporting that a Mexican guest worker named Hilario Jimenez escaped on Aug. 11 from company housing to expose his employers. Hilario and other guest workers were recruited from Mexico and brought to the U.S. on H-2B visas by Vanderbilt Landscaping LLC.

Such a visa is available to employers of foreign workers not working in the agricultural field, and is only available for work that is temporary in nature, such as recurring seasonal needs, intermittent need, peak-load need and one time occurrence.

JWJ said Hilario blew the whistle on a Tennessee scandal. Vanderbilt Landscaping, LLC is receiving millions in federal stimulus money and state contracts put together, and the company is importing guest workers - cheap, captive labor - into public jobs even as local communities are suffering from record unemployment rates. Middle Tennessee Jobs with Justice and members of the Alliance of Guest workers of Dignity have joined to fight human trafficking, forced labor and a company that gets millions in state and stimulus money.

JWJ is urging Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate and prosecute the employers for criminal conduct including but not limited to labor trafficking, forced labor, unlawful conduct with respect to documents, and other crimes in coordination with the FBI. They are also calling on the Department of Labor to “decertify Vanderbilt from further employment of guest workers and pursue high penalties for OSHA violations in the labor camps and at the worksites."

Hilario told JWJ that when workers arrived from Mexico, Vanderbilt seized their passports to ensure that workers would not "run away." The company placed workers under surveillance, and managers carried pistols on site to intimidate the workers. Vanderbilt forced Hilario and others into horrific living and working conditions, isolation and constant threat. Still, the workers organized attempted to organize. When Vanderbilt found out, the company forced one of the organizers onto a bus back to Mexico.

Jobs with Justice is a national organization with the vision of lifting up workers’ rights and struggles as part of a larger campaign for economic and social justice and worker‘s rights.

New website highlights Schuette’s oily record


The Michigan Democratic Party today unveiled a new website called SchuetteOnDuty.com to inform voters of the truth about preferred Michigan Republican Attorney General Nominee Bill Schuette’s oily record.

Has a record of supporting big oil and Wall Street. As a State Senator he sponsored a bill that would allow slant oil drilling under the Great Lakes.

“Bill Schuette has been in the pockets of Big Oil, Wall Street, and other special interests throughout his entire career,” said Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer. “Voters deserve to know the truth about Bill Schuette and his terrible record. SchuetteOnDuty.com will provide those answers and let the voters know that Bill Schuette has been ‘On Duty’ for those special interests and not for them.”

SchuetteOnDuty.com contains videos, press releases, and documents about Schuette’s record, including “Schuette on Duty for Big Oil”, which shows how Schuette has kowtowed to Big Oil through campaign contributions and supporting drilling for oil in the Great Lakes while he was a State Senator.

The site will also include, “Schuette on Duty for Wall Street,” and “Schuette on Duty for Himself” – the most recent video which tells voters how Schuette failed to vote for the Americans with Disabilities Act on final passage while he was a Congressman.

“These videos and press releases only scratch the service of Schuette’s record,” Brewer said. “There will be plenty more to come.”

Aug 11, 2010

Newspaper fails to act as watchdog on GOP good ole boy network

There is no doubt newspapers are in trouble, but the one job they do better than almost any other medium is to sit through a sometimes boring township, village or city council meeting to act as a watchdog on local government and tell the public what is going on. The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus failed, again, miserably at that task, based on a follow up in today’s edition on the possibility of some local townships defaulting financially.

Judy Daubenmier, the Chair of the Livingston County Democratic Party, issued a press release last week on the fact that several local townships may default on several local water- and sewer-assessment bonds backs by the county, and because of that county taxpayers may have to bail them out. The press release prompted a story, but it appeared the newspaper chose more to smear Daubenmier and sensationalize the story than act as a watchdog.

The county’s financial reports have failed to alert the public to the fact that townships are in danger of missing their payments for the $101 million in principal and interest backed by the county, and Daubenmier called for the all-Republican Livingston County Commission to hold a town hall meeting explaining the issue to the public. The $101 million should have been the lead of the story the paper published, but instead the paper chose a quote buried near the bottom of the press release as their lead.

The lead of the article was, “The head of the Livingston County Democratic Party said county commissioners "acted like a bunch of socialists" when they backed water-, road- and sewer-assessment bonds local townships haven't been able to repay.”

Not only was it sensationalized, it was inaccurate. I understand that headlines and leads are designed to get people to read the article, but it still must be accurate. Here’s the full quote from the press release:

“Republicans like to talk about free market principles, but in this case they acted like a bunch of socialists,” Daubenmier said.

The board offices and the newspaper office are almost right across the street on Grand River Avenue in Howell, yet it took the national business publication Bloomberg to break this story. That story called “Bond Defaults Stalk Wealthiest Michigan Communities as Development Crashes,” appeared way back on June 23, but the newspaper of record does not have a similar story until August, and only after being led to it by Daubenmier.

The paper had a chance to redeem itself with a follow-up almost a week later, but it failed miserably. Basically, it let board chair Maggie Jones spout some talking points without ever challenging her.

She claims that the county was diligent with bond projects, and that the board had no way of foreseeing the near collapse of Detroit's Big Three automakers or the housing-market crash that has left half of Livingston County's townships holding the bag for sewer and water districts where growth didn't occur. That is a debatable issue that may or may not be true, but at the very least the county should hold a town hall meeting to let the public know about the problem.

But this statement from the county administrator really illustrates the problem.

“County Administrator Belinda Peters on Tuesday said she didn't have immediate access to data showing which townships have debt from county-backed assessment bonds; when the county pledged its AA bond rating to them; how much is owed on each outstanding county-backed bond; and when the bonds were issued.”

Seriously? And you let her get away with that answer?

Jones went on to claim that just because the county met the legal obligation of posting board meetings it negates the need for a townhall meeting, but if the paper missed the story, how can the public be expected to catch it?

One thing is clear: the Livingston County Board of Commissioners needs an independent voice to, if nothing else, act as a watchdog on the GOP good old boy's network because the newspaper is not going to do it.

Aug 6, 2010

Will the nerd debate or hold townhall meetings in response to debate challenge


The public may finally get to see the real Rick Snyder after Democratic Gubernatorial nominee Virg Bernero formally issued a challenge to hold eight debates before the November 2 election.

Snyder, the GOP nominee, is clinging to this “outsider” tag with a death grip, and that’s why the public knows so little about his stand on issues. He has declined to fill out questionnaires from the many groups that endorse or present information on the candidates to the public or their members, and he has ducked GOP debates.

He blew off two debates sponsored by the Michigan Republican Party, and instead he chose to hold “ town hall” meetings around the state in front of friendly audiences. His excuse was that he isn't interested in following "the typical career politician playbook.” But the truth is he would rather spend his millions of dollars made by shipping 20,000 jobs overseas and from cashing in on 355,000 stock options worth $23.7 million at a time that executives at the company admitted they misrepresented the company’s financial outlook on 30-second TV spots talking about what a “nerd” he is than face real questions from voters and his opposition.

It also has a lot to do with how badly he did in the first televised debate sponsored by the Michigan GOP on April 21 at Michigan State University broadcast by Lansing TV station WLNS.

There is little chance that many debates will actually be held, and not just because Snyder is afraid for people to find out how little he knows about the issues and Michigan government. Generally, gubernatorial candidates only hold three or so debates.

"The people of Michigan are starved for a chance to compare candidates side by side,” Bernero said in calling for the debates. “Only by giving the public a chance to compare their records and ideas can they make a decision on who should be elected governor.”

Aug 5, 2010

Livingston Democratic Chair Demands Town Hall Meeting on County Debts

Livingston County taxpayers deserve a full accounting of the millions of dollars in debt piled up by the all-Republican County Board of Commissioners for roads and sewers built in subdivisions that are sitting nearly empty, Judy Daubenmier, the Chair of the Livingston County Democratic Party, said Thursday.

Daubenmier said the county’s financial reports have failed to alert the public to the extent of the problem the last two years and called on the Livingston County Commission to hold a town hall meeting explaining the issue to the public. She said taxpayers need to know which townships are in danger of missing their payments for the $101 million in principal and interest backed by the county. And she said the all-Republican Board of Commission needs to explain why it backed the bonds for the townships even as the Michigan economy was shedding thousands of manufacturing jobs and the Detroit Three Automakers were bleeding red ink.

“The Republican incumbents on the county commission must have been totally oblivious not to see that the Michigan economy was in trouble and that the building boom was coming to an end, but they went right on backing the bonds and feeding the real estate bubble,” Daubenmier said. “Their reckless borrowing has subjected Livingston County to nationwide embarrassment and put the richest county in Michigan in the position of begging for a taxpayer bailout from the state of Michigan.”

Republican state Reps. Bill Rogers, R-Brighton Township, and Cindy Denby, R-Handy Township, have cosponsored a bill asking the state to set up a $5 million fund to help Livingston County, which is the hardest hit of all the counties in Michigan with debt for infrastructure for subdivisions where many lots are unsold. They also are asking for legislation allowing the Michigan Strategic Fund to set up special “renaissance zones” for these empty subdivisions, but there has been virtually no public explanation of what this would mean.

But Daubenmier said many questions are begging for answers from the county commission before lawmakers even consider such a bailout. She called on the county commission to reveal which townships are unable to pay the county for the bonds, how much money is involved, why the county and townships failed to demand greater security from the developers for the money being borrowed, what attempts are being made to get money from the developers, and whether $5 million is even enough. And of course, the biggest question is why the public financed the developments in the first place instead of expecting developers to rely on private financing.

“Republicans like to talk about free market principles, but in this case they acted like a bunch of socialists,” Daubenmier said.

She said Rogers and Denby in particular need to answer questions. Rogers was chair of the Livingston County Commission when much of the borrowing went on.

“What steps did Rogers take to determine the soundness of the borrowing,” Daubenmier said. “How many of the subdivisions that are now vacant were approved in Handy Township when Denby was supervisor for eight years.

“Rogers, Denby and all the Republican incumbents on the county commission have been bragging about their conservative fiscal values,” Daubenmier said. “Those fiscal conservatives turned out to be fiscal fools who fueled a housing bubble without noticing that the economy around them was imploding. Now they want the state of Michigan to bail them out, but I say, ‘Not so fast,’”

Daubenmier said the looming disaster has been buried in the county’s annual financial reports for the last two years. The financial reports for the years ended Dec. 31, 2008 and 2009 each contain only one paragraph on the debt and interest, even though it amounts to two and a half times the county’s annual general fund budget. The 2009 financial report noted that the county had paid $10.3 million in principal and interest on the bonds and received only $10.2 million from the townships. The 2008 financial report said the county paid $10.6 million on the bonds but the townships contributed only $9.9 million. Neither report explains how the difference was made up. Daubenmier said the report shows the problem existed well before the 2008 national financial meltdown.

Taxpayers are just beginning to see the impact. In some townships, voters on Tuesday were asked to approve millages to pay for basic services such as police protection because most of the township budget has to go to paying off the debt. But the county’s 2010 budget book warns that taxpayers county-wide may end up footing the bill.

”Livingston County may very well find itself in a position where it must fund the debt in order to preserve its credit rating,” said the report. But the county’s report doesn’t say how much the county’s exposure amounts to.