Nov 30, 2010

Only under a Democrat is TSA security a violation of civil rights


One thing we have learned in the last two years is that any idea or action proposed or implemented by President Obama the right will say is awful or disastrous, even if it’s their idea.

The recent enhanced security at airports implemented by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) involving new full-body scanners and pat-downs has got Republican talking heads going crazy and screaming about the violation of civil liberties.

It’s ironic that the testing of body scanners at airports and the implementation of widespread use began during the Bush administration, but the really ironic part is we had no problem with this kind of security the many times the Bush Administration shredded the Constitution.

It was just a few years ago that any one who complained about security after 9/11 was called a traitor or a terrorist who had something to hide. Its’ also ironic that to get out of the extra security, they want us to truly violate other peoples’ civil rights and use racial profiling; something the courts have clearly said is a violation of civil rights. They want to do it even though there is no reliable profile of a terrorist.

But the Rude Pundit really said it best, so I will let him say it. This has always been a PG rated blog, but the Rude Pundit uses language that may be offensive to some people; that is, after all, why he is called the Rude Pundit. So, if you are easily offended, stop reading.

“Well, welcome to the privacy party, motherfuckers. Come on in to the constitutional protections rave. What took you so long to get here? Oh, yeah. Holding people indefinitely without charges? Who the fuck cares. Wiretapping Americans without a warrant? Oh, blow us. Torturing confessions out of innocent people? Sometimes ya gotta spill a little blood to make security stew.”

It’s clear that if this was a Republican Administration doing this, we would be told to man up. In this environment, what else can we expect? Other countries have been doing similar procedures for years. If someone has a better idea to ensure the safety of airlines, let’s hear it. I’m not crazy about it either, but I can only imagine how much screaming we will hear from the right if an airliner is brought down because of terrorism.

“Yep, all it took for some of the citizens of this country to actually make a stink about civil rights was a black president, a Democratic-controlled Department of Homeland Security, and the fear that barely-trained, underpaid airport security people will see what your Mama's tits look like in a government-ordered x-ray body scan. Or, even worse, that if you refuse having your dick or slit on display, you'll get an "enhanced pat down," as it's being called, just like the extra-special interrogation techniques used at Gitmo or a special new cereal, like corn flakes but now with nuts.”

Nov 29, 2010

Discharge vote on DRIC bridge expected


LANSING – When the final three days of the legislative session – at least in the Senate – get underway on Tuesday, the biggest issue to come out of the lame duck may be an attempt to discharge a bill from committee that would authorize Michigan to enter into a public-private partnership with Canada to build the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) bridge.

Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, told the News Herald last week that he will try to discharge House Bill 4961 from the Senate Transportation Committee to the full Senate floor. Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, has been carrying water for Ambassador Bridge owner and Republican sugar daddy Matty Moroun, and earlier this month Bishop said the bill would not get a vote, reneging on a promise he made earlier this year in May.

The Moroun family has been fighting tooth and nail to keep their monopoly on the aging Ambassador Bridge, the only privately owned border crossing in North America. With that in mind, the Moroun family has contributed nearly $400,000 this year to political action committees (PAC) and candidates controlled by Bishop that helped Senate Republicans, Bishop's unsuccessful attorney general campaign or directly to Senate Republican candidate committees

The DRIC has widespread, bipartisan support, including the last three Michigan Governors, including Democratic Govs. Jim Blanchard and Jennifer Granholm and Republican John Engler, as well as Republican Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. It even has the support of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, long a GOP supporter.

If the DRIC is not built, no bridge will be built at all, and that could cost 10,000 to 35,000 jobs.

The bill would need a two-thirds vote – 26 votes – to be discharged. The bill was approved by the House in May, and the Senate Transportation committee held hearing on the bill in the late spring and early summer. Based on those hearings, the Chair of the Transportation Committee, Sen. Jud Gilbert, R-Algonac, worked with the various groups to come up with a bill that is acceptable to all parties.

After various versions, he was expecting a vote until Bishop killed it. That is the bill Basham will try to get a vote on.

Nov 28, 2010

Another study proves secondhand smoke kills


Another study, this one worldwide, reinforces the more than 20 year-old scientific fact that secondhand smokes kill non-smokers and causes numerous diseases and ailments.

Last week an international research study by the World Health Organization found that secondhand smoke kills more than 600,000 non-smokers and millions more get sick each year from secondhand smoke.

The study was based on data obtained from 192 countries and was published last week in the British medical journal The Lancet. The good news for Michigan, and the more than 37 other states with workplace smoking ban, is that the proper enforcement of smoking bans worldwide would greatly eliminate the risk of secondhand smoke in places such as bars and restaurants by 90 percent.

This news comes on the heels of a Detroit Free Press story trying to blame
a 25 percent drop in attendance and revenue at bingo parlors and charity card games in the most recent quarter on the popular workplace smoking ban that went into effect on May 1 instead of the real drop in disposable income.

The fact remains that there is no credible evidence or study that indicates a workplace smoking ban hurts business. In fact, the opposite is true. There is, however, plenty of antidotal evidence supported by nothing, like the observation of George Saroki, 63, of Commerce Township, who mistakenly thinks he has the right to light up anywhere he wants to.

“Saroki said he has to leave the poker room and walk outside to have a cigarette, a trip that could take five minutes.”

Wow. Five whole minutes. Well then, I can see he has a right to endanger the health of the 80 percent of non-smokers.

But Don Wawrzyniak, who runs the most lucrative charity poker room in Michigan at Snooker's in Utica, has never allowed smoking at the table and has seen no drop in business.

“Wawrzyniak said players never were allowed to smoke at the card tables and had to be a few steps away to light up anyway. Since the ban, they now walk about 50 feet to the front door, where they can smoke on the sidewalk out front.”
"We've got more families coming in now," Wawrzyniak said. "So far this year, we've raised $1.2 million for charity."

Nov 24, 2010

Ensure a peaceful Thanksgiving with the DCCC Cheat Sheet


Tomorrow on Thanksgiving Day, families all across Michigan and the nation will be gathering around the TV to watch the Lions, visit with family and loved ones, eat turkey and give thanks for an improving economy, but there always that one kooky, right-wing uncle in every family who spouts false information gleaned from hours of misinformation and lies from Faux “news” and hours and hours of 30-second TV political ads

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is coming to the rescue with an antidote to that rightwing blow hard to ensure a smooth, family Thanksgiving with its annual “Thanksgiving Cheat Sheet” that offers a few basic and quick answers to shut them down so you can get back to eating, football and socializing. The best antidote to any right-winger is facts, and that usually shuts them up. This free survival kit offers some easy and quick antidotes.

Granted, there are a lot more lies to combat this year than ever before, but the Cheat Sheet will arm you with the real facts so you can answer back with the truth as soon as your Republican relatives start sounding like Sarah Palin or the numerous hate mongers polluting the nation’s airwaves.

The DCC is the official campaign arm of the Democrats in the U.S. House, and you can download the guide today. Do it now, and enjoy the silence, peace and a Detroit Lions’ victory.

Happy Thanksgiving

Livingston Democrats choose new leader


The Livingston County Democratic Party has a new leader after the Executive Committee chose Hartland resident and University of Michigan grad Jordan Genson to succeed Judy Daubenmier at the county convention on Nov. 18.

The committee also chose Genoa Township resident Kelly Raskauskas as vice chair, and rounding out the officers are Annette Koeble as treasurer; Mary Evergreen, secretary; and Judy Volk, vice president for membership.

Judy has done an excellent job in the more than two years she has served as chair. She has planned some unique and inexpensive fundraisers to energize the surprising number of Democrats in the county – like the movie nights and ice cream socials, and she has honored the party’s core values with community events like blood drives, supporting area food banks, helping children and honoring veterans.

She also helped recruit a near record number of quality candidates for political office, and she served as a successful watchdog on the all-Republican County Board of Commissioners.

I don’t know a lot about Jordan Genson, but I’ll venture a guess that he is one of the youngest chairs the party has had in some time. I sat next to him on the floor at the Michigan Democratic Party Endorsement Convention in April, and I am looking forward to the energy he will bring to the job.

Kelly Raskauskas was an energetic county commissioner candidate this election cycle, and I see her at every party function I have been able to attend. She brings lots of energy and knowledge to the position, and she has done some excellent research on the mistakes and gaffes of the board of commissioners. She also has one of the most impressive resumes I have ever seen.

Raskauskas holds a Master’s in Public Policy (MPP) from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a BA cum laude in International Relations from the School of International Service at American University. Raskauskas serves as the President of the Friends of the Brighton District Library, a non-profit group that supports programming, special events and equipment for the BDL throughout the year. She is also a volunteer at the Greenhills School in Ann Arbor.

County Democrats will get a chance to meet the new officers, as well as enjoy one of the great events I talked about, with the best food ever, put on by the party with the annual a holiday potluck set for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 10 at party headquarters, 10321 Grand River Road, Suite 600, in Green Oak Township. All you need to do is to bring a dish to share and a donation for Gleaners Food Bank of either cash or food. I can personally attest to the fact that the food is phenomenal.

In addition to the potluck dinner, the party is also looking to help those in need in the community this holiday season. The party is looking for volunteers to help shop for winter clothing for needy children through the Warm the Children program sponsored by annarbornews.com. The program finds the needy children and provides enough funds to purchase $90 in winter clothing for each child. We provide the volunteers willing to help the families shop for the clothing at Target. If you would like to help, please contact Pam Green, coordinator the county’s Blue Tiger programs, at pgreen1210@sbcglobal.net.

The party is also participating in the Salvation Army's Adopt-a-Family program. We will be buying gifts for a needy family selected by the Salvation Army. If you would like to make a donation to the program, you may mail a check, made out to "Cash," to party headquarters. Contact Pam Green for more information, as well as to volunteer to help with the shopping.

Nov 23, 2010

Columnist makes case for letting the Bush tax cuts for the super rich expire


It appears that the real winners in the Nov. 2 election are the super rich, but isn't that always the case?

New York Times columnist Frank Rich in his Nov. 13 column called “Who Will Stand Up to the Superrich?” really makes the case for letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the top 2 percent.

“The superrich who have gotten spectacularly richer over the last four decades while their fellow citizens either treaded water or lost ground. The top 1 percent of American earners took in 23.5 percent of the nation’s pretax income in 2007 — up from less than 9 percent in 1976. During the boom years of 2002 to 2007, that top 1 percent’s pretax income increased an extraordinary 10 percent every year. But the boom proved an exclusive affair: in that same period, the median income for non-elderly American households went down and the poverty rate rose.“


Rich said it will be the very top earners, “not your garden variety, entrepreneurial multimillionaires, who will be by far the biggest beneficiaries if there’s an extension of the expiring Bush-era tax cuts for income over $200,000 a year.”

It’s clear the tax cuts for the super rich will increase the budget deficit, but Rich thinks that’s not the biggest problem we face as the rich get richer. We have already seen where that means the United States now arguably has a more unequal distribution of wealth than traditional banana republics like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guyana.
“The bigger issue is whether the country can afford the systemic damage being done by the ever-growing income inequality between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else, whether poor, middle class or even rich. That burden is inflicted not just on the debt but on the very idea of America — our Horatio Alger faith in social mobility over plutocracy, our belief that our brand of can-do capitalism brings about innovation and growth, and our fundamental sense of fairness. Incredibly, the top 1 percent of Americans now have tax rates a third lower than the same top percentile had in 1970.”

We Democrats have been accused of fostering class warfare and other ridiculous charges, but it’s simply not true.

“The most constant refrain is that small-business owners who file in this bracket would be hit so hard they could no longer hire new employees. But the Tax Policy Center found in 2008, when checking out similar campaign claims by “Joe the Plumber,” that only 2 percent of all Americans reporting small-business income, regardless of tax bracket, would see tax increases if Obama fulfilled his pledge to let the Bush tax cuts lapse for the top earners. The economist Dean Baker calculated that the yearly tax increase at the lower end of that bracket, for those with earnings between $200,000 and $500,000, would amount to $700 — which “isn’t enough to hire anyone.”


One of the favorite rightwing talking points is, “has a poor person ever given anyone a job.” True, but it appears the super rich are not either. Rich makes the factual argument that while the super rich had the benefit of the full Bush tax cuts, we lost millions of jobs every month, so why would extending them to the top 2 percent change that?

“American companies seem intent on sitting on trillions in cash until the economy reboots. Meanwhile, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office ranks the extension of any Bush tax cuts, let alone those to the wealthiest Americans, as the least effective of 11 possible policy options for increasing employment.”

Nov 22, 2010

District attacks teacher in the media


The Howell Public Schools Board of Education and Superintendent Ron Wilson are taking the low road and attacking a teacher in the media because he is bringing unwanted media attention to the school by fighting his suspension.

Last month Howell High School teacher Jay McDowell, who just happens to be the president of the Howell Education Association (HEA) that represents the teachers, was suspended for one day without pay because he sent two students to the office for disrupting his class. The incident occurred Oct. 20; the day people all over the country wore purple to support the end of anti-gay bullying that led to a rash of suicides by gay teens. Apparently, McDowell asked a student wearing a belt buckle sporting the Confederate flag to remove the symbol of racism, slavery, white supremacy and treason.

McDowell, rightly, has protested the suspension and the attack against him, and it has gained support of people all across the country. They have shown up at school board meetings to support McDowell, and that led Wilson to make the false claim that the media is to fault and that the only people supporting McDowell are outside the Howell community.

That’s simply not true, and as a Howell resident with grandchildren in the district, I’m happy to have a teacher at HHS who will not tolerate bigotry, hate and injustice. Last week Wilson and the school board took the rare action of attacking McDowell in the media by releasing selected statements by students in the class, but the statements released were the only ones that shed McDowell in an unfavorable light.

The district has gone as far as to accuse McDowell of bullying by refusing to accept bad behavior from a student.

One such student who defended McDowell was 14-year-old Graeme Taylor, an openly gay student from Ann Arbor, who came to McDowell's defense at a recent school board meeting. He talked about his traumatic experiences at a school where being gay is much more accepted than at Howell, yet Wilson and school board members want to dismiss it because he is not an HHS student. The video of his speech spread like wildfire, and he will appear on the Ellen DeGeneres Show today.

The HEA defended McDowell on Friday, and the HEA specifically singled out Wilson, school board President Debi Drick and board Trustee Wendy Day, “saying the aggressive nature with which they are attempting to malign McDowell's character is deeply troubling.”

I have to agree. The board has a pronounced anti-union bias, and Day has both a rabid anti-union and anti-gay bias.

In fact, it was Day’s anti-gay bias that brought her the attention she craves. No one had ever heard of her until her and her partner, Vicki Fyke, formed an anti-gay hate group known as LOVE (Livingston Organization for Values in Education) because the HHS diversity club dared to tolerate gays. That attention helped her win a seat on the school board where her rhetoric divided the community and gained the district even more negative national press with an unsuccessful book-banning crusade.

Her anti-union stance is well known, and she conspired with the late rightwing anti-union activist Chet Zarko to embarrass the union with a witch-hunt for emails to embarrass union leaders. On her “blog” – although it can no longer be called a blog because she no longer allows anyone to question her warped views - she calls for McDowell to be fired. Of course she would love to see the president of the hated union go down, but she reveals her real reason for her hatred of McDowell.

“Once again our community is at the center of the culture war,” wrote the person who has embarrassed this community more than anyone since KKK Grand Dragon Robert Miles. “It is time the good people of this community stand up and fight back against the social progressive agenda.”

The district wants to blame the media for doing its job, but they are making sure the local media has their side of the story. Today, the latest wrinkle is that Wilson has turned over e-mails he perceives as threatening to area police.

According to the Daily Press & Argus, “Wilson last week said the district has received more than 1,000 e-mails since Oct. 26 from people outside the Howell community. He said he feels it's ironic the people who say they oppose violence and bullying are using these same tactics to intimidate district elected officials and staffers.”

Wilson continues with the false theme that it is just people from outside the district who support McDowell. There is also no way anyone can interpret the emails as threatening. Are they threatening to blow up or shoot up the school? No, they are simply telling the school t stop discrimination.

In fact, even Wilson admits the emails are not illegal, yet he clings to the fairy tale that they “felt threatened by the tone and content of the e-mail.” One email threatened to publicize the district's discrimination.

Wow, they should feel scared.

Nov 21, 2010

A glimpse of Republican rule


We got a glimpse of what things will look like in Michigan and nationally for the next two years, at least, last week when extremist teabagger Republican Senator-elect Joe Hune, R-Hamburg, announced that the first thing he will do when he takes office next month is make something that’s already illegal illegal.

No one should be surprised at this from a man who thinks the United Nations is coming for U.S. handguns, but in his mad dash to the extreme right Hune told the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus that the first bill he will introduce will cut off the benefits to illegal immigrants in Michigan.

My fellow bloggers over at Michigan Liberal and Blogging for Michigan have done an excellent job of illustrating how insane this is, but it continues to amaze me how extreme Hune has become since he won the seats by two votes in 2002. It also illustrates how ill-equipped Republicans are to acutely govern.

The national economy is finally recovering from the Bush recession, the worst and longest since the Great Depression, with no help from the Republicans, but it’s still a fragile and slow recovery. Republicans have made it clear that they have no intention of working to improve the economy.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY., said recently that his top priority is not the economy, the job recovery or the budget, but to defeat President Obama.

We can expect a similar taxpayer financed witch-hunt that was launched against President Clinton that ground government to a near halt. We really couldn’t afford it then, but we can afford it even less now.

Hune claims that “there are more than 100,000 illegal aliens in Michigan, and that all are potentially collecting taxpayer-funded benefits, including health-care services and welfare.” I have no idea where he got that from, other than pulling it out of his ass, but if they are receiving benefits they are doing it illegally already.

Michigan has a very small illegal immigration population, but Hune thinks his bill will close the $1.6 billon structural budget deficit. The Michigan League for Human Services issued a report that stated only 1.4 percent of the state's total population are undocumented immigrants. League spokeswoman Judy Putnam said “Hune's proposal sounds like "a solution in search of a problem."

"As a matter of course, we already bar undocumented immigrants from receiving benefits, and the state's pretty strict about enforcing it. I don't think there's any savings to be had on this one," Putnam told the Press & Argus.

Nov 19, 2010

Pro-smokers hope to kill popular smoking ban in new Legislative session


The most credit you can give this shrill of the tobacco industry is that they are persistent.

Lance Binoniemi, the lobbyist for the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA) , is hoping that a new Republican Governor and Republican control of the Michigan House and Senate can win exceptions of the popular, bipartisan workplace smoking ban passed last December, according to a story in subscription only Gongwer.

That seems unlikely because a new study by the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) found more than 70 percent of Michigan residents were in support of the smokefree air law, but bar owners who think a drop in business because of the Bush recession is the fault of the ban refuse to quit.

One Democratic State Representative tried to stealthy get a bill through that would basically kill the ban, but supporters of the ban found out and flooded the lawmakers on the committee considering the bill with calls and letters. The MLBA has used debunked studies in the past that say smoking bans hurt business and cost jobs, but that is simply not true.

House Bill 4377 passed overwhelmingly and with bipartisan support, but the MLBA is hoping the new leadership that voted against the bill last December will be friendly to amending the bill next session that begins on Jan. 4. Not likely.

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, was one of the 13 Senators voting no against 24 yes votes. It passed overwhelmingly in the House with a 75-30 vote, but incoming Speaker of the House, Rep. James Bolger, R-Marshall, voted with the losers.

It is very unlikely something that passed with 70 percent of the vote will be revisited, and the fact is as time goes on the bans already in place in 37 other states become more popular and accepted.

In fact, Gongwer cited the example of South Dakota as proof. The state has had a ban since 2002, but in 2009 they extended the ban to bars, restaurants and casinos. Pro-smokers fought back and placed it on the ballot on Nov. 2. Voters there overwhelmingly approved the full ban, 64 percent to 36 percent.

Just in case, contact Richardville and Bolger to let them know there is a reason the ban is so popular.

Senator Randy Richardville
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536
Phone: (517) 373-3543
Fax: (517) 373-0927
Email: senrichardville@senate.michigan.gov


Rep. James Bolger
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48933
Phone: (517) 373-1787
Toll Free: 877-BOLGER-1
JamesBolger@house.mi.gov

However, those phone numbers and are only good through the end of the year.

Nov 18, 2010

Snyder snubs the Michigan Constitution to stay in gated community


Apparently, the governor's mansion in the Capitol is not good enough for Michigan Governor-elect Rick “Chief Executive Outsourcer” Snyder, who is choosing to stay in his million dollar home in a gated community outside Ann Arbor and commute to Lansing.

Some people might say: ‘great, the Outsourcer deciding to become the first governor not to live in the executive residence since it was donated to the state in 1969 will save the cash-strapped state some money,’ but the fact is it will cost us more in the long run.

The mansion must still be maintained at a cost of $40,000 a year, and it will be used for some ceremonial functions and receptions. But the Outsourcer’s decision will be a real headache for the Michigan State Police who are assigned to guard and provide security for the Governor. According to the Detroit Free Press, the Lansing residence has extensive security systems and an MSP facility on-site.

Some people are even upset at the decision, but he admitted the public probably could care less. However, the arrogance of the Outsourcer is amazing.

According the Free Press, Richard McLellan, a Lansing attorney who chaired a foundation that raised money for the executive residence in the 1990s, said the constitutional requirement was added to "enhance the capital city as the seat of government... and increase the dignity of the office."

"It's not up to any one person to reject it,” he told the Free Press. “The constitution doesn't say, 'The state shall maintain a reception hall for the governor's use.' It says, 'The state shall maintain an executive residence.'"

I was lucky enough to attend a reception at the Governor’s residence, and it is something I will not soon forget.

Butt out at the 35th Annual Great American Smokeout


Put out those butts and join the 80 percent of Michigan residents who do not endanger their health on the occasion of the American Cancer Society’s 35th Annual Great American Smokeout today.

The ACS is encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. By doing so, smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life – one that can lead to reducing cancer risk. Quitting smoking is not easy, - I can personally attest to that, but it can be done. To have the best chance of quitting successfully, you need to know what you're up against, what your options are, and where to go for help.

An estimated 46 million adults in the United States currently smoke, and approximately half will die prematurely from smoking. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for men and women and more than 80 percent of lung cancers are thought to result from smoking. Smoking causes nearly one in five deaths from all causes.

The American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout event grew out of a 1971 event in Randolph, MA, in which Arthur P. Mullaney asked people to give up cigarettes for a day and donate the money they would have spent on cigarettes to a high school scholarship fund. In 1974, Lynn R. Smith, editor of the Monticello Times in Minnesota, spearheaded the state's first D-Day, or Don't Smoke Day. The idea caught on, and on Nov. 18, 1976, the California Division of the American Cancer Society succeeded in getting nearly one million smokers to quit for the day. The first national Great American Smokeout was held in 1977.

During the next 34 years the Smokeout was celebrated with rallies, parades, stunts, quitting information, and even "cold turkey" menu items in schools, workplaces, Main Streets, and legislative halls throughout the US.

The Great American Smokeout has been chaired by some of America's most popular celebrities, including Sammy Davis, Jr., Edward Asner, Natalie Cole, Larry Hagman, Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, the first "spokespud" Mr. Potato Head, and many others.

November also marks the six month anniversary of smokefree air in Michigan when the ban on smoking in all workplaces, including bars and restaurants, went into effect on May 1.

Despite lame attempts to weaken and kill the ban, it is both very successful and popular. In fact, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) just released a survey of 6,900 Michigan residents within 76 Michigan counties on their opinions about the new smokefree air law, and more than 70 percent were in support of the smokefree air law. These results show an increase of public support in comparison to results of a 2009 CSA poll that showed 66 percent of Michigan residents were in favor of smokefree air laws.

In addition, more than 80 percent surveyed agreed that secondhand smoke was a serious health threat to non-smokers. Notably, more than 85 percent of participants stated that they dine out just as much or more often than they did before Michigan’s smokefree air law took effect.

Despite claims and attempts by some bar owners to ignore the law, those criminals are in the minority. The study also monitored the number of complaints reported within the first six months of the law. Results showed just over 550 complaints were made about smoking in smokefree places. This is significantly less than our neighboring state, Ohio, where more than 30,000 complaints were received in the first year of its smokefree air law.

MDCH also monitored compliance of the law in restaurants, bars and bowling alleys throughout the state, and they found that 95 percent of these businesses were compliant with the law.

Nov 17, 2010

The SPLC reminds people of Anuzis’ endorsement of a hate group


Former Michigan Republican Chair Saul Anuzis announced last week that he is making a second run to become the Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair to replace clueless Michael Steele, but the Southern Poverty Law Center is reminding people of Anuzis’ past endorsement of a hate group.

The nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry tracks the activities of hate groups and domestic terrorists in the U.S., and one such group it identified as a hate group in 2006 was the Michigan State University campus branch of Young Americans For Freedom (MSU-YAF) and its “leader” right-wing extremist Kyle Bristow, who also served as a Republican precinct delegate.

The MSU-YAF chapter eared its designation as a hate group under Bristow for its 13-point agenda, according to the SPLC, “that would have established a “Caucasian caucus” at MSU and, in turn, eliminated all student government representation for practically every other non-white, non-heterosexual, non-male or non-Christian student group at the university.” The MSU-YAF chapter also “sponsored a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day” contest, held a “Koran Desecration” competition, jokingly threatened to distribute smallpox-infested blankets to Native American students, and posted “Gays Spread AIDS” fliers across campus. Bristow’s YAF also brought several extremists to speak at the MSU campus, including Holocaust denier Nick Griffin, leader of the whites-only British National Party.

Despite this over-the-top hate and extremism, Anuzis endorsed Bristow. Anuzis said on a radio program in May 2007, according to the SPLC, the year after MSU-YAF’s more outrageous activities were made public: “I’ve known Kyle for years and I can tell you I have never heard him say a racist or bigoted or sexist thing, ever.”

He must be deaf.

During the past election, Anuzis issued a press release attacking Wayne State University law Professor Jocelyn Benson, the Democratic nominee for Michigan Secretary of State because she was once an investigative journalist at the SPLC, which the release said used “fear and intimidation” in its hate group listings. This was one of many completely false attacks launched against Benson by scared Republicans.

Nov 16, 2010

Ignore the anti-gay hate group Westboro Baptist Church with a counter protest


The anti-gay hate group known as the Westboro Baptist Church plans to protest at East Lansing High School this Thursday for some unknown reason, but at lest one real church is working to deny the hatemongers the attention and publicity they crave.

All Saints Episcopal Church in East Lansing is sponsoring a counter protest from 2-4 p.m. Thursday at the church parking lot at 800 Abbot Rd. in East Lansing. These counter protests for other publicity seeking hate groups, like the Klan and Nazis, have been very successful because the groups thrive on the free publicity and the confrontation.

As you know, the Westboro Baptist Church is headed by Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kan., and they are notorious for their "God Hates Fags" website and protests. They gained infamy with vulgar and disgusting protests at the funerals of AIDS victims, but they really entered the mainstream when they began protesting at the funerals of servicemen and women killed in action in Iraq.

They claim their deaths are God's punishment for America's "fag-enabling" ways. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), that tracks hate groups like the Westboro Baptist Church, said they have picketed events ranging from theater performances to children murdered or killed in traffic accidents. “These protests share a simple theme: Attacking America's perceived tolerance of homosexuality and celebrating God's perceived wrath as just rewards for "fags" and "fag-enablers."”

The 100 or so followers of the so-called church are primarily members of the Phelps family, and they seek and love violent confrontation with some very personal and vile attacks that they hope will provoke you and will land you in court.

According to the SPLC, “Phelps himself is a disbarred attorney who was long known for massive litigation; at one point, he personally had almost 200 lawsuits pending in federal court. Although his congregation includes only about 22 adults, at least 14 of those have law degrees. In fact, “the church has its own law firm, Phelps Chartered, which is staffed by church members and which has repeatedly filed suit against its perceived enemies.”

Obviously people want to express their distaste for these disgusting tactics, but the best thing to do is to not give them the attention they crave. The good people at All Saints Episcopal Church are expecting up to 500 people at the counter protest, and they are asking for food donations for the protest. They are asking for things like doughnuts, apples, granola bars and other snack type food, and beverages like cider, water tea and coffee. Call the church at (517) 351-7160 to offer help.

Lobbyists will have major role in Snyder Administration


For all the rhetoric about reinventing Michigan and that it won’t be politics as usual in Michigan with the election of Rick “Chief Executive Outsourcer” Snyder as Michigan Governor, his choices for key positions in his administration are signaling that it is politics as usual and that lobbyists will have an increased role.

He has turned the clock back 8-20 years with even more appointments of former staffers from the Engler Administration and lobbyists. On Monday he announced that former Engler staffers Michael Gadola would be his legal counsel and Geralyn Lasher his communications director. Lasher served as deputy press secretary and Gadola deputy legal counsel and director of the Office of Regulatory Reform under Engler.

The Outsourcer has shown an early preference for lobbyists, and he appointed one of the most tenured and powerful Lansing lobbyists as his Chief-of-Staff, Dennis Muchmore. That position is arguably the most important post in any administration because they control access to the Outsourcer.

Muchmore is the founder of the multi-client lobbying firm of Muchmore, Harrington, Smalley and Associates. He was also the former Executive Director of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs.

So far, all six of Snyder's major appointments have ties to Engler or are experienced Lansing hands. In addition to the three appointed yesterday, Snyder also has named House Speaker Andy Dillon D-Redford, as treasurer, former Lt. Governor Dick Posthumus as a senior adviser on legislative affairs and Bill Rustem, president and CEO of the think tank and lobbying firm Public Sector Consultants, as director of strategy. Only the appointment of Blue Dog Democrat Dillon is an out of the box pick.

This comes on the heels of a report by the Associated Press (AP) that lobbyists will have more sway in Lansing; something that has been on the rise since term limits.

According to the AP, “lobbyists could play a bigger role next year as an especially large class of freshmen lawmakers and a governor-elect with little previous political experience take office.” It also reported the nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network says Michigan lobbyists reported spending $17.8 million on public officials' meals, travel, lodging, gifts and tickets to events the first seven months of 2010. Last year, lobbyists spent at least $32.1 million. Secretary of state Figures show the state had 2,783 registered lobbyists last year, 500 more than in 1999.

Ironically, one of the first encounters the Outsourcer had with the so-called bipartisan Freshman Caucus last week was sponsored by lobbyists. The event was held at the lobbying firm of Karoub Associates and sponsored by the Detroit International Bridge Company, which owns the Ambassador Bridge and Nora Moroun, wife of bridge owner Manuel "Matty" Moroun. The bridge company has had a very large presence in Lansing the past year as they fight to keep their monopoly on the aging 84-year-old bridge; the busiest international border crossing in North America.

Nov 15, 2010

There should be no tolerance for intolerance


There should be no tolerance for intolerance and bigotry, and that’s one reason I support the actions of Howell High School teacher Jay McDowell.

McDowell, who also happens to be the president of the Howell Education Association (HEA) that represents the teachers, was suspended for one day without pay last month because he sent two students to the office for disrupting his class. However, it's the subject matter that has, again, put Howell back in the national headlines in an unfavorable light for its prejudice and intolerance and launched a Facebook page with 943 members to date called “Support Jay McDowell.”

The incident occurred, according to the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, on Oct. 20; the day people all over the country wore purple to support the end of anti-gay bullying that led to a rash of suicides by gay teens. Apparently, McDowell asked a student wearing a belt buckle sporting the Confederate flag to remove the symbol of racism, slavery, white supremacy and treason.

Another student, 16-year-old Howell High School junior Daniel Glowacki, “was ejected from McDowell’s classroom along with another student. The ejection occurred after Glowacki and McDowell argued about another student wearing a belt buckle sporting the Confederate flag.”

According to the newspaper, “on Nov. 8, the district’s Board of Education received a report on McDowell’s disciplinary action — which included a one-day suspension the high school economics teacher has already served — during its regular meeting.” District Superintendent Ron Wilson said the district, McDowell and the union are engaged in the grievance process. “Until that process is complete, Wilson said Friday in the Press & Argus, the district will not discuss the disciplinary aspect of the issue because it is a labor issue.”

Support for McDowell has been widespread, and many people have spoken in support of him during public comment at school board meetings. The district caught wind of a protest in support of him at their regular school board meeting last Monday, and they tried to hold them off with a special forum set for 7 p.m. tonight in the cafeteria of the Howell High School Freshman.

I, like many other people, are at a loss as to why a teachers was disciplined for maintaining control of his classroom by sending a disruptive student to the principal's office. “Sending a student to the principal’s office” has long been a discipline option.

The students asked to leave claim that homosexuality is against their religious beliefs. The only way that is true is if he is a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, and it’s still not the case.

Livingston County has an undeserved reputation for racism because Klan Grand Dragon and domestic terrorist Robert Miles once lived in the county near Howell and because of various isolated incidents over the years.

One such incident was the debacle over an anti-gay hate group when the now defunct anti-gay hate group called known as LOVE (Livingston Organization for Values in Education) was formed in 2006. It sprang up like a bad fungus in response to diversity flag they mistakenly labeled a gay pride flag. It gained Howell Public Schools plenty of bad publicity when they launched a long and, thankfully, unsuccessful book-banning campaign.

But it did saddle the district with school board member Wendy Day, who also happens to be a leader of the teabagger farce in Michigan that has it roots in racism. Its early grassroots support, before two Washington, D.C. lobbying groups started funding it, were militias, secessionists and neo-Nazi white supremacist groups.

I’m just happy we have teachers like Jay McDowell at HPS where my grandchildren go to school.

Nov 12, 2010

Jewish leaders call Beck out on his false attack on George Soros


To quote a famous song from Sesame Street: “Three of these things belong together,” and the three things are unhinged, Glenn Beck and George Soros.

Anytime the name of the self-made billionaire and Soros is mentioned the right becomes unhinges, and Faux “news” madman Glenn Beck is unhinged.

With so few liberal billionaires around to attack, unlike the vast number of rightwing billionaires who are politically active, Soros is an easy target for the right. The name of Soros has reached the level of taking point to the right, and anything they want to discredit to their base they just add the words, “Soros-funded,” in front of anything.

Soros is a self-made man, something Republicans claim they admire, but in addition to his humanitarian giving, that includes helping end apartheid in South Africa by giving money for scholarships to black students there and helping end Communism by funding dissident movements behind the iron curtain, he also gives to Democrats.

That is his crime, or perhaps they hate him because he, unlike most GOP millionaires and billionaires, did not inherit his wealth.

But Beck went after Soros again this week with an hour-long smearfest against Soros with the ridiculous claim that he has somehow conspired with Democrats, progressives and the Obama administration to demolish the U.S. economy.

Media Matters, which finally received $1 million from Soros after the right falsely claimed he funded them for years, does another great job of debunking Beck’s lies. But the right will attack and try to discredit them because of the first and only contribution from Soros. It’s a good thing Media Matters lists its sources.

But the Jewish community reacted negatively to Beck’s over the top and false attacks and trivialization of the Holocaust to attack Soros.

Beck claims that as a child in Nazi-occupied Hungary, Soros survived by living with a non-Jewish family, “used to go around with this anti-Semite and deliver papers to the Jews and confiscate their property and then ship them off. And George Soros was part of it. He would help confiscate the stuff.” He claimed Soros never had any remorse even ad an adult.

In an article in the Nov. 11 of the “Jewish Week,” Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman called Beck out on his rant, saying, “it was totally over the top.” Foxman is also a child survivor who lived only because his parents turned him over to his Catholic nanny. He said the issue of the Holocaust “is so sensitive that I'm not even sure Holocaust survivors themselves are willing to make such judgments.”

“For a political commentator or entertainer to have the audacity to say, there's a Jewish boy sending Jews to death camps, that's horrific,” Foxman said in the Jewish Week. “It's totally off limits and over the top.”

Even more Jewish leaders called Beck out.

Elan Steinberg, vice president of The American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants, called the Beck accusations “monstrous; you don't make such accusations without proof, and I have seen no such proof.” Beck's charges, he said, “go to the heart of the instrumentalization and trivialization of the Holocaust."

Even non-Jewish religious leaders called Beck out.

Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy said Beck's “use of the Holocaust to discredit George Soros is beyond repugnant. The Holocaust is one of history’s most tragic events and those who survived it are owed our enduring respect.”

Nov 11, 2010

Supporters of smoking ban kill attempt to weaken it


LANSING -- The members of the Tobacco Free Michigan Coalition proved that calls, letters and emails to their lawmakers work.

On Wednesday the House Regulatory Reform Committee met to stealthy take up House Bill 5803 that would have rolled back the hard fought and hard won workplace smoking ban. The coalition somehow learned that this bill would be taken up, and it urged its members with an email alert late Tuesday evening to contact the members of the committee and tell them not to take up this bill.

When I got to the hearing room at noon on Wednesday, it was packed with supporters of the ban and apparently bar owners. The agenda, even on the day of the hearing, simply said "Agenda to be announced." every committee meeting I have ever seen has the bills listed it will consider, and at the bottom is the throw away line that says "any other matters to come before the committee."

Obviously, the bill sponsor, Rep. Doug Geiss, D-Taylor, knew the bill was going to be taken up because he packed the room with bar owners. Fortunately, the supporters of the ban found out about it and derailed it.

As soon as the meeting began, the committee chair said he knew that so many people were here for the smoking issue, but he was not going to take up the bill. With that, Geiss got up and left, followed by the entire right side of the room.

Since I had no idea what they were taking up, I followed them. There was not room in the first elevator, so as I waited for second, elevator, I listened, with clinched teeth, as they vented with the same old debunked crap.

Once in the lobby of the House Office Building, Geiss was huddled with the bar owners. This bears watching, but I see little chance of it getting traction with just three session days left, at least in the Senate.

Nov 10, 2010

Moroun family sponsoring politicians


Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s disastrous and activist decision last January in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case that opened the flood gates to the flow of secret corporate money pouring into elections, many people joked that politicians should wear stickers like NASCAR drivers to tell us who is sponsoring them.

We saw that play out on Monday when Michigan Governor-elect Rick “Chief Executive Outsourcer” Snyder met with the so-called bipartisan Freshman Caucus. The event was held at the lobbying firm Karoub Associates and sponsored by the Detroit International Bridge Company, which owns the Ambassador Bridge and Nora Moroun, wife of bridge owner Manuel "Matty" Moroun.

You will recall that last week outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, broke an earlier promise and said there would not be an up or down vote on House Bill 4961 that would authorize Michigan to enter into a public-private partnership with Canada to build the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) bridge and take advantage of Canada agreeing to fund Michigan’s share of the bridge and the addition of 10,000 much needed jobs. This occurred after some large contributions to the Senate Republican caucus and to PACs controlled by Bishop.

The Moroun family has been very active in Lansing in the past year, and in fact they are holding a legislative breakfast this morning at Karoub Associates.

Despite the DRIC bridge having bipartisan and international support, including three of the past Governors, the Big 3 automakers and the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Moroun money has managed to fight off every attempt to supplement the aging 84-yar-old bridge and economic lifeline, allowing him to keep his monopoly supplement the aging 84-year-old.

If the DRIC bridge is not built, no bridge will be built; despite the cosmetic and sham attempts by Moroun to claim he is in the process of building a new span next to the old one. First, the Canadians will never give him a permit to land it in Canada, and Moroun has no intention of ever building a second bridge.

Nov 9, 2010

Bill in committee attempts to turn back the clock on the workplace smoking bill


It appears that the House Regulatory Reform Committee is going to consider a bill similar to the “pay to kill” compromise on Wednesday that the Conference Committee soundly rejected back in December 2008 that that will weaken the newly passed workplace smoking ban.

Tobacco Free Michigan issued an urgent alert late this afternoon that the Committee will take up House Bill 5803, sponsored by Rep. Doug Geiss, D-Taylor, that will take us back to the unhealthy way things were prior to May 1 when the workplace smoking ban went into effect with “legal smoking rooms.”

The bill will take us back to smoking sections, as long as the space is completely enclosed and it has a “separate ventilation or air filtration system designed to remove smoke from the air in the room and prevent smoke from infiltrating into the nonsmoking areas.”

Ironically, when the very same committee was taking testimony on the workplace smoking ban back in March 2009, Dr. Greg Holzman, the medical officer from the Michigan Department of Community Health (DCH), testified that there has been no ventilation system that clears out secondhand smoke, and that there is no safe amount of secondhand smoke.

Not only that, but back in April the U.S. Navy announced that it will ban all smoking on its submarine fleet by the end of the year, saying “Recent testing has proven that, despite our atmosphere purification technology, there are unacceptable levels of secondhand smoke in the atmosphere of a submerged submarine.”

Submarines have the most sophisticated air purification system ever invented, and it banned smoking. What bar or restaurant can equal that kind of technology?

The committee will meet at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 10 in room 326 of the Anderson House Office Building, in downtown Lansing. The meetings are open to the public, so please show up to show your support for keeping the smoking ban intact.

This had to be a last minute thing because there is no agenda listed for the committee, like every other committee. This bill has little chance of becoming law. It has to pass the committee, be approved by the House and then go through the same process in the Senate.

The Senate is unlikely to take it up, because the Senate Majority Leader is taking next month off, and there is no lame duck session.Regardless, contact Geiss to let him know how anti-health the bill is. He can be reached at:
Phone: 517-373-0852
Fax: 517-373-5934
Email: douglasageiss@house.mi.gov

If you can’t make the hearing, contact the members of the Regulatory Reform Committee to tell them to reject this attempt to weaken the smoking ban:

Chair Rep. Bert Johnson
Phone: (517) 373-0144Fax: (517) 373-8929
Email: bertjohnson@house.mi.gov

Vice-Chair Rep. Harold Haugh
Phone: (517) 373-0854Fax: (517) 373-5911
Email: HaroldHaugh@house.mi.gov

Rep. Pam Byrnes
Phone: (517) 373-0828Fax: (517) 373-5783
Email: pambyrnes@house.mi.gov

Rep. Tim Melton
Phone: (517) 373-0475Fax: (517) 373-5061
Email: timmelton@house.mi.gov

Rep. Bettie Cook Scott
Phone: (517) 373-1776Fax: (517) 373-8502
Email: bettiecookscott@house.mi.gov

Rep. Woodrow Stanley
Phone: (517) 373-8808Fax: (517) 373-5997
Email: WoodrowStanley@house.mi.gov

Rep. Jon M. Switalski
Phone: (517) 373-1772Fax: (517) 373-5906
Email: JonSwitalski@house.mi.gov

Rep.Tory Rocca
Phone: (517) 373-7768
Email: ToryRocca@house.mi.gov

Rep. Hugh Crawford
Phone: (517) 373-0827
Email: HughCrawford@house.mi.gov

Rep. Rick Jones
Phone: (517) 373-0853
Email: RickJones@house.mi.gov

Rep. Jim Stamas
Phone: (517) 373-1791
Email: JimStamas@house.mi.gov

The growing inequality gap is turning the U.S. into a banana republic


Nicholas D. Kristof, a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a New York Times columnist, is seeing alarming similarities between the banana republics he has spent his stellar career covering and the U.S. because of our growing inequality.

Kristof is widely known for bringing to light human rights abuses in Asia and Africa, such as human trafficking and the Darfur conflict. He has lived on four continents, reported on six, and traveled to 150 countries and all 50 states. However, he said what marks banana republics is the huge gap between the rich and the working class; something that is happening in the U.S.

He said “in some of these plutocracies, the richest 1 percent of the population gobbles up 20 percent of the national pie,” something that is happening in the U.S., but he also said the disastrous mid-term elections could make the situation even worse.

Kristof said “The richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of income, up from almost 9 percent in 1976.” That means the United States now arguably has a more unequal distribution of wealth than traditional banana republics like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guyana.”

I have highlighted the growing gap the average worker and the CEO in past posts, and the fact that CEOs rake in even more millions of dollars if they kill American jobs. But the problem is even worse than I thought.

In 1965 the average CEO was earning 24 times what the average worker was making. But by 2001 the C.E.O.’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 531 times as much as the average worker.

The middle class is disappearing as fast as union membership, which created, the middle class, yet there are people voting to quicken the demise of the middle class by supporting Bush’s tax cuts for the most affluent 1 percent. They sure need all the breaks they can get.

Kristof makes the argument that instead of given more unneeded break to the richest 2 percent, that at a time of “9.6 percent unemployment, wouldn’t it make more sense to finance a jobs program? For example, the money could be used to avoid laying off teachers and undermining American schools.” He also said that an “obvious priority in the worst economic downturn in 70 years should be to extend unemployment insurance benefits, some of which will be curtailed soon unless Congress renews them. Or there’s the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which helps train and support workers who have lost their jobs because of foreign trade. It will no longer apply to service workers after Jan. 1, unless Congress intervenes.”

The growing inequality gap between the working class and the rich can and has suppressed growth.

The column cites the research of Robert H. Frank of Cornell University, Adam Seth Levine of Vanderbilt University, and Oege Dijk of the European University Institute that found that inequality leads to more financial distress. Kristof said that they looked at census data for the 50 states and the 100 most populous counties in America, and found that places where inequality increased the most also endured the greatest surges in bankruptcies.


“Another consequence the scholars found: Rising inequality also led to more divorces, presumably a byproduct of the strains of financial distress,” Kristof said. “Maybe I’m overly sentimental or romantic, but that pierces me. It’s a reminder that inequality isn’t just an economic issue but also a question of human dignity and happiness.”

Nov 8, 2010

The Chief Executive Outsourcer will now have Dumb and Dumber in his cabinet


It appears newly elected Michigan Gov. Rick “Chief Executive Outsourcer” Snyder must love the Michigan film credits because his favorite movie star is one of the biggest proponents of the credits, Chelsea’s Jeff Daniels, starring in “Dumb and Dumber.”

You will recall that early in the campaign the Outsourcer told his hometown “newspaper,” that the creation of Michigan Business Tax (MBT) and the 22 percent surcharge in 2007 was “like Lansing went to the video store and rented ‘Dumb and Dumber.’” Then in August he appointed one of the Republican authors of the alleged “job killer,” State Rep. Brian Calley, R-Portland, as his running mate.

Today in Ann Arbor the Outsourcer is set to appoint the Democratic author of the MBT, current Speaker of the House Andy Dillon, D-Redford, to an unnamed job in his administration. The only question that remains is which one is dumb and who is dumber: Dillon or Calley?

I applaud the Outsourcer in seeking a little diversity in his cabinet by appointing a Democrat, but many people have told me they don’t believe Dillon is a real Democrat. He lost the Democratic Gubernatorial nomination to Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero in the primary, but Dillon never endorsed Bernero after the primary, which is the norm.

Perhaps this is why. Or perhaps it could be a reward for helping turnover control of the House to Republicans on his watch.

Dillon has never been a favorite of Republicans, and they pulled out all the stops in an attempt to recall him in 2007, even using fraud to place it on the ballot. However, it was rejected by voters. Republicans launched a number of recall attempts back in 2007 against Democratic state Representatives who voted for revenue increases to keep the state government going and avoid a shutdown. Only the one for Dillon made it on the ballot, but they used fraud to accomplish it.

The Outsourcer is also continuing his practice of appointing former members of the Engler administration to his team, and he is expected to announce that former Republican Lt. Governor Dick Posthumus will advise him on legislative affairs. Posthumus was Engler’s second Lt. Gov., but he lost his own bid for Governor in 2002, losing to currant Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Nov 5, 2010

Conservative and Republican third party groups flood the election with cash


The many Democratic voters who sat out Tuesday’s elections because they don’t think mid-terms are important don’t share that view with third party special interest groups who spent a near record amount of cash on the 2010 election.

Open Secrets said, as of Oct. 28, that the Center’s research indicates that all outside groups have spent $455 million to influence the election, and that’s more than the money spent to influence the presidential election in 2004. They needed to spend another $130 million during this election cycle to match the record spent in the 2008 presidential election. They may have already done that, and the numbers have not yet been added up.

OS reports that “overall this cycle, outside groups,” including the national Republican and Democratic Party committees, “unions, trade associations, nonprofits and “super PACs” such as American Crossroads, have so far favored Republicans. Conservative-oriented groups have spent $1.34 for every $1 liberal-affiliated groups have spent.”

If you take out the political parties, these independent non-party-committee organizations have also spent more this cycle than they did six years ago: $280 million this cycle versus $200 million in 2004. Not only that, but the gap between Republican-aligned and conservative groups and Democratic-aligned and liberal groups is even larger.

OS reports that so far this election season, third party Republicans spent $2.12 for every $1 that Democratic-aligned and liberal groups have spent, according to the Center’s analysis.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling earlier this year, these groups have been able to raise unlimited contributions for political messages, and OS said numerous corporations and wealthy individuals have invested millions to fund advertisements this year. Funding political advertisements with such high-dollar donations was previously illegal.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce pumped millions and millions of dollars of unregulated and untraceable cash into Republican coffers that most likely came from foreign companies and governments. The chamber refused to tell the American people where it came from; telling us to just trust them. I’m sure lots of the money came from companies and governments where American jobs are being outsourced and going to Republicans who support outsourcing.

Passing a Growing Michigan on to the Republicans in 2011


Tuesday’s election made no sense when you consider that President Obama and the Democrats lifted the country out of the Bush Recession – the longest and deepest since the Great Depression – that created by the Republicans.

Time after time voters said their No. 1 priority was jobs and the economy, and federal Republicans said their No. 1 priority was defeating President Obama in two years. The only good news is we finally have job growth, although not fast enough for voters, but Republicans are already trying to take credit for it, despite blocking every single effort to improve things.

To combat that and so we don’t forget, I am reposting this post from the Muskegon Critic over at Blogging for Michigan called “Passing a Growing Michigan on to the Republicans in 2011.”

As we move into a Republican controlled...well...everything in Michigan, it's important to take a stand on various narratives.

One narrative I'm personally keen on keeping on the burner is that job growth in Michigan began a full year before many of the Republicans in 2011 even got elected in 2010.

From March 2000 on, Michigan lost jobs almost continuously until 2005. From 2000 to 2003 under Governor Engler we lost 283,000 jobs before Granholm even took office.

Job growth picked up in 2005 and 2006 and then the massive recession hit in 2007 and we lost jobs for 37 consecutive months until January 2010 when many of Granholm's efforts to diversify our economy and lure new industries here began to bear fruit.

In the first nine months of 2010, Michigan added 65,204 jobs. The largest January to September nine month jump in job growth since 1997 when we gained 68,535 jobs in the same time frame during the Booming 90s. The largest economic expansion in American history.

Michigan's Democratic leadership combined with a sound partner in the White House helped pull Michigan from the brink and restore us to job growth in 2010.

Ford is making record profits and is hiring again in Michigan.

General Motors is hiring again, setting up a factory in Lansing to make, get this, small price and feature competitive Cadillacs.

Advanced battery manufacturing plants are opening in Michigan, employing thousands.

General Electric is hiring 1100 people in its new R&D facility near Detroit.

So when the Republicans move into Lansing...they're moving into a state that's already growing...already on the mend...already creating jobs.

Hey Republicans! Try not to SCREW IT UP!

Following large contributions, Bishop officially kills DRIC bridge


Outgoing Senate majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, gave Ambassador Bridge owner and Republican sugar daddy Matty Moroun an early Christmas present on Thursday and 10,000 potential Michigan workers got a lump of coal when Bishop announced that there would not be a vote on House Bill 4961 that would authorize Michigan to enter into a public-private partnership with Canada to build the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) bridge and take advantage of Canada agreeing to fund Michigan’s share of the bridge.

Back in May Bishop promised an up or down vote on the bill to allow the new bridge to be built to replace the aging Ambassador, but in September he indicated he might renege on that promise after some large contributions to the Senate Republican caucus and to PACs controlled by Bishop. Despite that threat, work continued on the bill by the Chair of the Transportation Committee, Sen. Jud Gilbert, R-Algonac.

But on Thursday, Bishop put to rest the notion that the bill would get a vote in the lame duck session. In fact, he also said there will be no lame duck session at all, and he’s giving the Senate the last month off.

Bishop said the Senate will adjourn on Dec. 2, meaning there are only five session days left before the new session in January. That means that some good public policy that has been worked on for the past two years will simply die, like the DRIC bill, anti-bullying bills and no reason absentee and early voting bills. It’s unclear if the House will keep working, but it almost seems like a waste of time.

Subscription only Gongwer reported the Moroun family has contributed nearly $400,000 this year to political action committees (PAC) and candidates controlled by Bishop that helped Senate Republicans, Bishop's unsuccessful attorney general campaign or directly to Senate Republican candidate committees to keep their monopoly.

The DRIC has widespread, bipartisan support, including the last three Michigan Governors, including Democratic Govs. Jim Blanchard and Jennifer Granholm and Republican John Engler, as well as Republican Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. It even has the support of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, long a GOP supporter.

Sarah Hubbard of the Detroit Regional Chamber, told Gongwer that the Moroun family's efforts were key, “between money, organizing protests in the Capitol and taking aggressive legal action.”

"That's just the public money you found," she said of the disclosed political donations. "Outside of even the money, they've had significant influence on the process."

Hubbard told Gongwer she was dismayed at Bishop’s decision.

“There are several senators on both sides of the aisle who are very supportive of moving this project forward, but there's always been concern on the part of Mike Bishop," she told Gongwer. "It requires a legislator to really engage to understand this issue fully. You can't understand it at just the talking points level."

It appears no bridge will be built at all to replace the aging Ambassador Bridge because Moroun cannot get permits from either the Canadian or U.S. governments. Canadian officials are adamant that they do not want a bridge emptying into downtown Windsor.

The new DRIC crossing would alleviate frequent traffic jams and long delays on the Ambassador Bridge and through the Windsor-Detroit tunnel caused by the 17 traffic lights semi-trucks must go through in downtown Windsor to reach the highway. The Ambassador Bridge is the busiest commercial border crossing in all of North America.

Gongwer said attempts to reach Canadian officials were unsuccessful, but they “were reportedly furious with Bishop's decision.”

Nov 4, 2010

Whitmer will lead Senate Democratic Caucus


Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, will be the first women to be the leader of a caucus after the Michigan Democratic Senate Caucus unanimously chose her to be the Senate Minority Leader today.

She was chosen before the Senate session today to replace term-limited Sen. Mike Prusi, D-Ishpeming, and to lead the caucus for the 2011-14 session. According to subscription only Gongwer, Sen. Glenn Anderson, D-Westland, was the only other candidate, but he bowed out of the race to make Whitmer a unanimous choice.

“While there will be a lot of changes in the Capitol, the priorities of the Michigan Senate Democrats will be the same, and we have a lot of talented individuals coming in who will fight harder than ever to see that they are addressed,” Whitmer said. “I am eager to work with anyone who is earnestly ready to roll up their sleeves and make the tough decisions necessary to right Michigan ’s ship for the long-term. I hope the new governor and incoming legislators will bring an open mind and a cooperative style to move us forward, and get past the partisanship, gimmicks and games that have been so problematic these last four years.”


Unfortunately, she will lead a caucus that is the smallest since the 1940s. She has worked hard to get Democrats elected, and I walked this summer and fall on a couple of canvas walks she organized and led.

She has been a thorn in the side of Senate Republicans the last couple of years, using procedural moves to make the caucus more relevant and involved in the process. She will need all that procedural magic with the Democratic disadvantage at 26-12.

Snyder dispels the very reason most people voted for him


The election of Rick “Chief Executive Outsourcer” Snyder as Michigan Governor may signal a new way of campaigning, but his choice to head his transition team appears to be politics as usual and he finally admitted government can’t be run like a business.

His campaign proved that you don’t have to debate your opponents or talk to the voters, just have the most money to run TV ads as early and as often as possible, but government is still government.

On Wednesday he met with Governor Granholm, and he announced the members of his transition team. Doug Rothwell will chair the transition team, according to subscription only Gongwer. Joining him as vice-chairs will be his wife, Sharon Rothwell, and Meijer Corporation President Mark Murray. All three were top officials in the administration of former Republican Governor John Engler, who left the state with the current budget mess eight years ago.

Doug Rothwell is the now president of the Business Leaders of Michigan (BLM), a coalition of so-called business leaders. In their alleged "turnaround plan" they advocate for the 2-cent tax on services. He was also president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), something many conservatives say they want to abolish.

Murray was both state budget director and treasurer under Engler. He is currently the president at Meijer's that was fined $190,000 in 2008 for its violation of campaign law by trying to influence an election in Acme, a village outside Traverse City, by illegally funding front groups. However, this past election proved they don’t have to do that anymore.

In his first press conference where he announced his transition team, Snyder debunked the very reason so many people voted for him and said what Democrats and fellow Republican primary opponents have been saying for almost a year: that government cannot he run like a business.

According to Gongwer, “Mr. Snyder rejected the idea that government would be run like a business, saying businesses and government are different entities.”

Exactly.

Snyder did float the plan to balance the state budget with a projected $1.6 billon deficit with the meaningless corporate buzz-word called “value-based budgeting” that no one knows what he is talking about.

Nov 3, 2010

Fired up ready to go


Just when you think it can’t get any worse.

That pretty much summed up Tuesday’s election disaster, and, in fact, disaster may by be a better description; at least for the country and Michigan. I guess lies and big money from foreign companies and governments does trump the facts, truth and hard work. It proves that you don’t have to talk to the press, you don’t have to talk to the voters and you don’t have to defend your positions in a debate to win an election.

It appears that expensive 30-second TV ads are the way to campaign, and only the super-rich can expect to get elected. My current hometown newspaper ran a story that says people are fed up with negative campaign ads.

What pure BS. Then how do you explain a career politician like Bill Schuette winning as Michigan Attorney General on a platform of being tough on crime when he has never, ever prosecuted a criminal case? He attacked the man who actually successfully prosecuted a criminal case as being soft on crime with the most disgusting and false ads I have ever seen.

I have no logical explanation for the Democrats loss, both at the state and national level. The only bright spot is that the people still have control of the U.S. Senate. It’s frustrating that after cleaning up the Bush mess that they give control back to the very people who created the mess and didn’t lift a finger to help clean it up, but like my boss told me, politics is like a pendulum. It will swing back in 2012.

The other good news, actually more satisfying to me, is the victory of U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, over teabagger Republican Rob Steele by double digits. It’s nice to see that an arrogant, dishonest and out of touch guy like Steele is the one retired, at least from politics. Tell me again, Mr. Steele, who is going to retire Congressman Dingell?

One solace is that I know that if this country can survive eight years of Bush it can survive two years of Republican control of the U.S. and Michigan House. I just hope there is a middle class left because that’s what this election is about.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce pumped millions and millions of dollars of unregulated and untraceable cash into Republican coffers that most likely came from foreign companies and governments. The chamber refused to tell the American people where it came from; telling us to just truest them. I’m sure lots of the money came from companies and governments where American jobs are being outsourced and going to Republicans who support outsourcing.

President Obama has lifted the country of the longest and deepest recession since the Great Depression, and I just hope we can keep up the momentum. Jobs usually lag a recovery, and Michigan always lags behind that; that is until the current Governor finally made some progress on diversifying the economy.

The hiring should begin for the corporations that are sitting on record profits. They spent a lot of money getting the election results they wanted. The only problem is that most of the hiring may go on outside of the U.S. where wages are low, and the hiring here will most likely be low wage jobs. But most of the hiring will go on where the wages are the lowest and there are no bothersome safety regulations with the support of Republicans.

I hope I am wrong, and that we will see the kind of economy we had under President Clinton. The biggest hurdle to that is that the Republican strategy of trying to block all progress and blocking everything Democrats tried to do worked, and I see more of the same; at least on a national level.

In Washington, we will get what Republicans promised; going after Obama at any cost; just like in the 1990s against Clinton. That witch-hunt cost millions of taxpayer dollars. We will also see countless, useless and expensive politically motivated investigations on things like the President’s birth certificate instead of the safety of our food supply. How do we know these things; because that’s what Republicans said they will do.

Here in Lansing I’m anxious to see how they plan on balancing the budget on the backs of state workers after they again cut taxes for business.

I wasted a lot of shoe leather on this election, but I would do it all again and more. I’m fired up and ready to go in 20012. In the meantime, I will keep a close eye on the Republicans.

I spent most of my adult life defending this country, and I’m not going to stop now when it’s in the most peril it has been in for sometime. I’m just not wearing a uniform to defend it. The fight starts today.