Friday, September 28, 2007

Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights

On Saturday, October 13, everyone is invited to Plymouth Congregational Church, 2001 East Grand River Avenue, Lansing, MI 48912 for the Michigan premiere of the award winning documentary, "For the Bible Tells Me So." This film reconciles homosexuality and scripture in a manner that everyone can understand. It features the faith journey of five families as they discover that the Bible does not condemn what we know as homosexuality as sin.

The event will begin at the church with a potluck dinner (please bring a dish to pass, table setting and beverages will be provided) at 6 p.m.

At 7:30 p.m. the documentary will be viewed in the sanctuary.

After the film you will have four choices of activities in which to participate: remaining in the sanctuary to discuss the film with a facilitator, join folks to make a group collage with the focus of the collage being the film's message (the collage will be hung in the Unity of Greater Lansing Church when finished), join Rev. Kent Lederer in a candlelight vigil outside of the church, or individually mediate, pray or journal.

For further information contact Nancy English at: or (517) 484-5120.


Apparently, Mike Rogers (or someone on his staff) reads this blog. After Tuesday night’s post about his attempt to block the S-CHIP bill, an interesting thing happened.

A heartwarming press release was posted on Mr. Rogers' website, in which he assures us that his opposition to the S-CHIP bill on Tuesday was a result of the nasty Democrats messing around with an otherwise swell bill. As evidence of this, Mr. Rogers trotted out the Bush talking points almost word for word. Apparently, those Blue Meanies were going to:

-- make "massive" cuts to Medicare benefits (Though he neglects to mention that the cuts will come from payments to insurance companies, not coverage for seniors.)

-- give taxpayer-funded health care to families making up to $83,000 per year (Nope. Roughly 70 percent of children who would gain coverage are in families earning half that amount, and the bill contains no requirement for setting income eligibility caps any higher than what already exists in the current law. For details, visit

-- and provide taxpayer-funded health care for illegal aliens (This provision was not part of Tuesday’s version of the bill. In fact, the bill didn't even include benefits for children of LEGAL immigrants. The WaPo reports that House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) will push Democrats to come back at Bush with a new version that restores those benefits.)

A brief aside: Mr. Rogers has been receiving taxpayer-funded paychecks for the past couple of decades -- and very nice taxpayer-funded health insurance coverage to boot! As a result, he really has no idea of what health insurance costs an average family (especially if they have to buy an individual policy)...

Mr. Rogers said that he voted against this hideously flawed bill on Tuesday. He went on to say that he voted for the bill to extend S-CHIP funding on Wednesday... but the bill had passed 265-159 on Tuesday night and went over to the Senate the next day.

Perhaps he stood alone in a darkened room on Wednesday, recognized himself, introduced a bill to himself and voted for said bill. At least he feels better about it.

Another interesting thing
is that the Freep’s coverage of the subject has changed quite a bit. The original story by Todd Spangler came out early Tuesday evening (I got the Google news alert at 5:37 p.m.). The piece was titled Mich. congressman balks at children's insurance legislation, and it included this line:
Mike Rogers, a Brighton Republican, failed in his effort to block the legislation, at least temporarily, by noting another improper earmark – this one for ...See all stories on this topic

The next day, the story had a new title: Congress debates whether Michigan is getting a break in children’s insurance bill and Mike Rogers was mentioned zero times, as was the improper earmark.

Rogers certainly isn't shy about his opposition to earmarks -- just ask Rep. Murtha!
So why isn't Rogers sticking to his original beef? Maybe he did the math and realized that

Nice Guy Image -
NO on (vaccines for low-income kids + $$ for MI health care) =
Political Firestorm
When I contacted the Freep reporter to ask about the change, he noted that the story had indeed shifted to focus on the $1.2 billion earmark for Michigan. They didn't return to the Rogers angle because they chose not to write a story for the next day's paper. Now this does happen, especially with web versions of newspapers. But it still was a bit galling to see Rogers completely off the hook and out of the story.

Just for fun, let's review the long list of crazy knee-jerk liberal types who have publicly supported this bill. Ready?
Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas)and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), business interests, the Catholic church, the health insurance industry, children's advocates, most of the nation's governors, the AARP and the American Medical Association.
With a weaselly flip-flop on the reason for his "no" vote and his bogus claim of voting in favor of some mysterious other children's health care bill, Mr. Rogers once again has shown that he places loyalty to George Bush over serving the people of MI-08.

Cross-posted at Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Did Bush Reject Deal to Have Saddam Leave Iraq?

Disturbing news from blogger Juan Cole that the entire Iraq War could have been avoided.

Cole, a professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan, writes on his Informed Comment blog today (Thursday, Sept. 27, 2007) that Bush told Jose Maria Aznar of Spain that a deal brokered by Egypt before the Iraq invasion called for Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq with $1 billion and some documents on weapons of mass destruction.

But Cole writes that Bush rejected the deal without attempting to negotiate, saying,
"Saddam won't change and he'll keep on playing games. The time has come to get rid of him. That's the way it is. We'll be in Baghdad by the end of March."

Cole, who simply has the best blog around regarding Iraq and the mess we've created in the Middle East, has the rest of the story.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

And the Winner Is ...

Results are in from the first Livingston County Democratic Party straw poll in the 2008 presidential campaign season and the winner is ...

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, by a landslide. Clinton won with 35.1 percent of the votes cast.

Her closest competitor was former Sen. John Edwards, with 18.9 percent. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson was third with 13.6 percent.

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who usually is in the top tier in national polls, finished a disappointing fourth with 10.8 percent.

Tied for 5th, each with 5.4 percent, were Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, and undecided.

Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd received no votes.

Balloting was conducted with paper ballots. Every ballot was counted.

The Livingston County results are slightly different from a Sept. 5 presidential preferences poll taken by American Reseasrch Group. The Michigan results (from a sample of 600 likely primary voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent, were:

Biden 2%
Clinton 43%
Dodd 1%
Edwards 14%
Gravel -
Kucinich 2%
Obama 21%
Richardson 5%
Undecided 12%

Statewide, it's Clinton, Obama, Edwards, the same top three that prevails nationally. But in Livingston County, Richardson's third place finish, pushing Obama to fourth place, was a little surprising. Obama gets more press and is from a neighboring state. Does Richardson have a stealth organizing campaign going on here, operating under the radar?

A second round of balloting might produce different results. The county party's "Anticipate '08" event October 20 at Whispering Pines would be a good time to repeat the poll.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Health Care for Poor Kids? The Terrorists Will Win!

I was sad but not surprised to read that Rep. Mike Rogers tried yet again to block reauthorization for the State Childrens' Health Insurance Program.

Apparently, ol' FBI Guy found nefarious evidence of an earmark that wasn't "properly disclosed" and tried to bring the whole thing to a halt. The improperly disclosed earmark in question? It was $30 million in funding for Tennessee hospitals that provide a large percentage of care for low-income patients. Funny, that sounds vaguely related to health care for low-income kids...

Here's the kicker -- the same bill had a provision that would do a tremendous amount for Michigan:
Speaking on the floor today, Rep. Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, says the bill
includes what amounts to a $1.2 billion earmark for health care in Michigan over 10 years’ time.

As we stand at the brink of a state government shutdown -- or draconian cuts to state services -- Rogers was willing to chuck $120 million a year over the next decade just so he could carry water for the Bush administration.

Let me repeat this:Mike Rogers tried to block a bill that would give Michigan $120 million a year for health care.

From a strictly economic perspective, health care is one of the few positive sectors in the MI economy. My better half, Dr. Kelster, noted that for every physician hired, seven direct downstream jobs are created (things like xray & lab techs, office staff, etc.).

From a less charitable perspective, you have to wonder just who it is that Mr. Rogers thinks he represents. He has time to chat with national media about the Looming Iranian Threat. He has time to write a letter urging state legislators to "hang tough" on no new taxes -- even though he's happily voted for irresponsible federal spending time and again. He's worried about counterfeit pharmaceuticals, though he hasn't done much of anything to make the genuine ones more affordable for retirees.

Yet when Rogers had a chance to get $1.2 billion for Michigan health care in a bill that has strong bipartisan support (Orrin Hatch and Joe Barton both think it's a good bill!), he decided it was more important to be a hall monitor.

The sort of happy ending? Rogers' attempt to stop the bill failed, and it passed with bipartisan support (265-159). The not-so-happy ending? Bush is threatening to veto it, and there are doubts that the House will have enough votes (290) to override the veto. I don't hold much hope for Rogers doing the right thing any time soon.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Bringing a positive voice to Livingston County!

Jonathan Cohn will discuss his new book, SICK, and the health care crisis in the US at the Howell Opera House, 123 E Grand River, Monday, October 1, at 7 pm.

Donations suggested. Proceeds to benefit VINA Community Dental Center - Livingston County's free dental clinic for children. Contact Julie Bohnhorst for more info: 586-924-3303 or

View Larger Map

Food for fun, food for thought

The sun was out and so were Livingston County Democrats of all ages, welcoming Lt. Governor John Cherry to the LCDP BratFest at Huron Meadows Park today.

Bratfest guests started off by choosing their favorite Democratic Presidential candidate in the county's first straw poll; they were also able to add their signatures to a letter of support for Governor Granholm, urging her to stay strong in the current budget crisis.

A quick stroll away from the political table brought the aromas of brats, hot dogs and vegetable burgers on the grill. These were complimented by a buffet of baked beans, potato salad, veggies & dip. Of course, LCDP functions always offer an outstanding choice of desserts and today was no exception. It was a delicious way to support the local party, and a bargain at just $10 per person /$25 per family.

As tasty as the cookout was, it's clear that the star of the afternoon was Lt. Governor Cherry. A 20-year veteran of state politics, John Cherry offered a healthy perspective on the Lansing political situation. He noted that today's Democrats and Republicans have profoundly different ideas of the government's function. Republicans, increasingly suspicious of all government, see it as unnecessary; anti-tax guru Grover Norquist has often referred to shrinking it down "until you can drown it in a bathtub." Democrats understand that funding effective government programs like education, public safety, environmental protection and public health will actually make our state stronger.

Cherry spoke about the media's treatment of the Governor. In addition to sexist comments about Gov. Granholm "changing her mind," the mainstream media has also ignored her notable accomplishments -- like managing to trim $4 billion in her first term after inheriting a budget deficit from her Republican predecessor.

The LG went on to applaud the great work done by Livingston County Democrats to get the word out. Blogs like this one and Michigan Liberal, the LCDP website and the steady streams of letters to the editor are making a difference. In fact, the only two GOP legislators to have openly shown flexibility on the budget are from Livingston County, Rep. Chris Ward (R-Brighton) and Sen. Valde Garcia.

Cherry stayed to take questions from the audience, with topics ranging from health care to public employee pensions and, of course, the budget mess.

The LCDP Bratfest was a wonderful way to spend an autumn afternoon -- good food, good ideas and an appreciation for the values of good government.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Picnic Tomorrow--Noon Start-Time

The Ann Arbor News gave us some nice advance publicity on the picnic Sunday (Sept. 23, 2007) with Lt. Gov. John Cherry, but they misstated the start time, ikn both the main newspaper and the Livingston Community News.

The picnic run s from noon to 4 p.m.

Get the latest on the budget maneuverings in Lansing. See you there!

Does a State Shutdown Matter?

If state government shuts down at the end of the month, would you notice?

If you have a child in school, have to renew a driver's license, drive on the highways, run or work at a business, or visit state parks, you might. And that's just the beginning.

The Free Press has a good rundown in editions for Saturday (Sept. 22, 2007) on what a state government shut-down would look like. You might be surprised how far-reaching it could be, especially if it were prolonged.

It's not just a matter of state employees not getting paid. It's a matter of them not doing work that affects the way our economy runs, our children get educated, our elderly are cared for, and our public safety is protected. How many other people will be thrown out of work if state road projects are halted, if businesses can't get the permits they need, if schools close for lack of state aid payments?

Meanwhile, Livingston County Republican Chair Allan Filip is telling his members that any tax increase is "totally intolerable."

What is intolerable is Republican obstructionism to a modest tax increase. It also is dangerous -- to public health, public safety, and our already fragile economy.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Doing the Right Thing

I just read Liberal Lucy's post over at MichiganLiberal -- early this morning, Rep. Chris Ward (R-Brighton) voted in favor of HB 5195, raising the state income tax from 3.9% to 4.6%.

We're in the middle of a constitutional crisis. We have to come together and make a compromise.

I'm going to pay a very heavy political price for doing this. But I feel some solace in knowing I'm doing the right thing.


My public schools are feeling a terrible crunch. Cost of public education is sky-rocketing, as are retirement, health care costs, etc. Good public schools mean a lot to me.

I abhor taxes, but this is a fair way to do it with the least impact on state services. This is the first of many, many difficult votes necessary for this chamber to move on from this crisis.

Citing constituent opinion "3 to 1 against tax increase", Ward temporarily stepped aside from his leadership position within the House Republican Caucus because he joined ranks with Speaker Andy Dillon (D-Redford Twp.) and Majority Floor Leader Steve Tobocman (D-Detroit) in voting for this bill.

No one likes higher taxes, but I think people dislike our state's financial mess even more. Let Rep. Ward know you appreciate his vote -- email or call 517-373-1784.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Bad advice

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers has been very busy lately. Fresh from shilling the Iranian Threat and taking credit for literature programs he didn't develop, he's now turned his attention to the Michigan budget crisis.

Apparently, Mr. Rogers "took the lead" in a letter from five MI GOP Members of Congress to Senator Bishop and Minority Leader DeRoche, urging them to hang tough against a tax increase and reminding them of all the swell things they're working on in Washington:

The letter highlights the Congressional delegation’s efforts at the federal level to help Michigan’s economy, including a battle to support the struggling U.S. auto industry, and moving forward a crackdown on illegal Chinese trade practices like currency manipulation, counterfeiting products, and stealing intellectual property.
Perhaps there would be more resources available to support the auto industry (or even something frivolous, like better funding for children's health care or secure borders) if our nation wasn't spending over $453 billion -- and counting -- on the Iraq War. Mr. Rogers even had the temerity to roll out an old Friedman/free market chestnut:

“Keeping taxes low will stimulate the economy and help create jobs to keep Michigan citizens living, working and raising families in Michigan,” Rogers said. “You cannot tax your way to prosperity.”
A quick reality check:

(1) Michigan's income tax was last cut in 2000, from 4.3 to 3.9%. Remind me again how the Michigan economy has been doing in the last seven years?

(2) The federal budget has a global current account deficit of roughly $800 billion -- almost 7% of our GDP.

(3) The rosy scenario that our budget deficit is "on track" to decline from a record $412 billion in 2004 to $244 billion this year leaves out the fact that Bush blew a several billion dollar surplus when he took office in 2001.

Mike Rogers also took office in 2001. Since then, he has unwaveringly supported the Bush administration's adventures in finance AND in Iraq. With a track record like that, he has no business giving budget advice to the Michigan legislature.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Timing Running Out to Sign Up for Casino Trip!

Time is getting short to get on board the Livingston Democrats' bus trip to Casino Windsor.

The trip is scheduled for this Saturday, Sept. 22. The bus will leave from the parking lot of the VG's grocery story on Grand River in Brighton at 11:30 a.m. It will return at approximately 7:30 p.m. Please bring photo ID PLUS proof of citizenship (a birth certificate or passport.)

The cost is $20, but the casino will furnish each participant a $15 voucher good for lunch or gambling, for a net cost of $5.

Seating is limited, so to make sure there still is room for you, please contact JoAnn Murphy at (810) 229-4401 to arrange payment in advance.

Act quickly. You won't want to miss this day of fun and games at the beautiful Casino Windsor, a non-smoking facility!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Lt. Gov. John Cherry Coming to Livingston Sunday!

Lt. Gov. John Cherry will be making a special visit to Livingston County Sunday as state lawmakers continue to try to find a compromise for the state's budget problems.

The lieutenant governor will visit the Livingston County Democrats' picnic, scheduled from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at Huron Meadows Metropark, off Rickett Road south of Brighton.

“We are so excited that the Lieutenant Governor will be able to attend,” Party Chairman Matt Evans said. “Of course, the progress of negotiations over the budget will determine how long he can stay. If the lieutenant governor is needed in the Senate for urgent budget matters, he may have to cut short his stay.

“But given the importance of a budget resolution to all Michigan residents, this is a great time for Livingston Democrats to come out and show Governor Granholm’s team that we are behind them 100 percent.”

In an age of term limits, Cherry is a rarity among public servants. He had more than 20 years of experience as a legislator before becoming lieutenant governor, which gives him a long-term view of Michigan’s current budget impasse.

Evans said the price of the event – a suggested donation of $10 per person or $25 for a family – was deliberately kept low to make sure as many people as possible can attend.

The event also will feature a presidential straw poll, giving Livingston County Democrats their first chance to gauge the support of the party’s field of presidential contenders.

The picnic will feature snacks, bratwurst and hot dogs, chips, baked beans, and dessert. Wine will be available for a suggested donation of $1, but people are asked to bring other beverages. The party will furnish table service.

The park features a fishing pier, playground, volleyball net, and horseshoes.
Huron Meadows Metropark is located at 8765 Hammel Road, south of Brighton off Rickett Road, between Maltby and Winans Lake roads.

People wishing more information about the picnic may call party headquarters, (810) 229-4212 and leave a message or email us at

Monday, September 17, 2007


By the Associated Press, September 17, 2007

BAGHDAD (AP) -- The Iraqi government said Monday that it was pulling the license of an American security firm allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of civilians during an attack on a U.S. State Department motorcade in Baghdad.
The Interior Ministry said it would prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force in the Sunday shooting. It was latest accusation against the U.S.-contracted firms that operate with little or no supervision and are widely disliked by Iraqis who resent their speeding motorcades and forceful behavior.
Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul-Karim Khalaf said eight civilians were killed and 13 were wounded when security contractors believed to be working for Blackwater USA opened fire in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood of western Baghdad.

Not many Americans know about Blackwater and its abuses in Iraq. Blackwater is a company who employs and trains mercenaries. The U.S. government pays Blackwater millions of dollars for its supposed security work in Iraq including guarding American big shots such as General Petraeus, the U.S. ambassador and, previously, Paul Bremer.

If we support our troops, we should be insisting that our government pull Blackwater and other “security firms” from Iraq. These mercenaries are so hated by Iraqis because of their killing and abuse of civilians that it makes our troops work more difficult and exposes them to more danger.

Remember Fallujah and the horror of those burnt bodies hanging from the bridge? Those were Blackwater employees. That’s why we went into Fallujah and leveled the city. Should the U.S. military be taking revenge on Iraqis because of Blackwater?

Blackwater is a danger to democracy because they are beginning to use their thugs in the United States. They were part of the “security” after Katrina but with little publicity. Arnold Schwarzenegger has recently been talking with Blackwater about contracting with them for projects in California, including keeping order after major earthquakes.

Oh, yes, I need to point out that the owner and CEO of Blackwater is Erik Prince, from the well-known Holland family, brother-in-law of Dick DeVos and brother of Betsy DeVos. Do you think that Dick DeVos might have used Blackwater to privatize our State Troopers, for example? Far-fetched? I don’t think so. When Bush went into Iraq, did anyone think that mercenary troops would go along with our soldiers? And would be guarding our top generals? I wonder why Petraeus doesn’t trust our troops to guard him?

One more reason to be grateful that Dick DeVos lost the election.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Counter GOP's Dirty Tricks During Crucial House Session

As Democrats in the Michigan House struggle through a marathon session to deal with Michigan's budget crisis, the head of the Michigan Republican Party is doing his best to put up roadblocks, all in the name of partisan politics.

Even as the session dragged, Saul Anuzis, chair of the Michigan GOP, emailed Republicans throughout the state Sunday (Sept. 16, 2007) urging them to call or email GOP House members and tell them to sit on their hands instead of helping solve the state's budget problems.

In his email, Anuzis says Republicans are doing the "right thing" in opposing a tax increase (without bothering to propose a real alternative other than phony budget cuts), and that Democrats should come up with all the votes instead of asking for GOP help.

"They are playing politics and want Republicans to give them the votes the need," claimed Anuzis in the email.

But by insisting that a tax increase pass only with Democratic votes, it's Anuzis that's playing politics with our state's future.

The marathon session, which began Friday morning, could help avert a state government shutdown in the next few weeks.

Outwit Anuzis. Call or email the GOP legislators, just as he asked. But tell them you want them to join with Democrats in bipartisan support for a tax increase to save important government programs -- like schools and health care -- from draconian budget cuts.

Start with Chris Ward and Joe Hune.

Daniel Acciavatti (517) 373-8931
David Agema (517) 373-8900
Fran Amos (517) 373-0615
Richard Ball (517) 373-0841
Darwin Booher (517) 373-1747
Jack Brandenburg (517) 373-0113
Brian Calley (517) 373-0842
Tom Casperson (517) 373-0156
Bruce Caswell (517) 373-1794
Bill Caul (517) 373-1789
Craig DeRoche (517) 373-0827
Kevin Elsenheimer (517) 373-0829
Judy Emmons (517) 373-0834
Edward Gaffney (517) 373-0154
John Garfield (517) 373-2277
Goeff Hansen (517) 373-7317
Dave Hildenbrand (517) 373-0846
Jacob Hoogendyk (517) 373-1774
Kenneth Horn (517) 373-0837
Bill Huizenga (517) 373-0830
Joe Hune (517) 373-8835
Rick Jones (517) 373-0853
Marty Knollenberg (517) 373-1783
Phillip LaJoy (517) 373-2575
David Law (517) 373-1799
Jim Marleau (517) 373-1798
Arlan Meekhof (517) 373-0838
Kim Meltzer (517) 373-0820
John Moolenar (517) 373-1791
Tim Moore (517) 373-8962
Chuck Moss (517) 373-8670
Neal Nitz (517) 373-1796
Mike Nofs (517) 373-0555
Brian Palmer (517) 373-0843
David Palsrok (517) 373-0825
John Pastor (517) 373-3920
Phil Pavlov (517) 373-1790
Tom Pearce (517) 373-0218
John Proos (517) 373-1403
David Robertson (517) 373-1780
Tory Rocca (517) 373-7768
Tonya Schuitmaker (517) 373-0839
Rick Shaffer (517) 373-0832
Fulton Sheen (517) 373-0836
John Stahl (517) 373-1800
John Stakoe (517) 373-2616
Glenn Steil Jr. (517) 373-0840
Howard Walker (517) 373-1766
Chris Ward (517) 373-1784
Lorence Wenke (517) 373-1787

Assassination Shoots Holes in Rogers' Rosy Anbar Scenario

After George Bush's phony speech last week about bringing home from Iraq the troops next year that already were scheduled to come home, 8th District Republican Rep. Mike Rogers gave the Livingston Press and Argus his usual "me, too" line about how great things are going there.

In a written statement (guess the issue isn't important enough for Rogers to actually talk to his hometown newspaper) reported in Friday's newspaper, Rogers said:

"The bravery and dedication of our troops has had a positive impact in al Anbar Province where communities are now standing up against the brutality of al Qaeda. By bringing local leaders together to reject al Qaeda’s violent ideology, stability and security in that region has improved and as a result we are seeing a draw down of troops coming in the next three months. The President’s shift in strategy must reflect the lessons learned in al Anbar. As we confront the sobering challenges that remain, solutions must take on, more and more, an Iraqi face."

What Rogers failed to mention, of course, is that one of the U.S.' most important allies in Anbar province had just been assassinated. The Sunni shiek, Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi, was killed by a bomb along with two of his guards -- just a week after shaking hands with Bush when Bush sneaked into the country for a brief visit.

Why did Rogers ignore this development in his statement? It occurred early enough in the day for The New York Times to carry a full story on it, and The Times noted that Bush issued a statement on the killing on Thursday.

Even more telling is the information reported Sunday (Sept. 16, 2007) in The New York Times in an Op-Ed piece by pollster Gary Langer titled, "What They're Saying in Anbar Province."

Here's the nut graf:

"In a survey conducted Aug. 17-24 for ABC News, the BBC and NHK, the Japanese broadcaster, among a random national sample of 2,212 Iraqis, 72 percent in Anbar expressed no confidence whatsoever in United States forces. Seventy-six percent said the United States should withdraw now — up from 49 percent when we polled there in March, and far above the national average.

"Withdrawal timetable aside, every Anbar respondent in our survey opposed the presence of American forces in Iraq — 69 percent 'strongly' so. Every Anbar respondent called attacks on coalition forces 'acceptable,' far more than anywhere else in the country. All called the United States-led invasion wrong, including 68 percent who called it 'absolutely wrong.' No wonder: Anbar, in western Iraq, is almost entirely populated by Sunni Arabs, long protected by Saddam Hussein and dispossessed by his overthrow."

Stunning, isn't it. Every Anbar person question called attacks on coalition forces "acceptable." And Mike Rogers says we're making progress there.

The American people don't want our troops there. The people we are supposedly helping don't want us there.

Who does want us there and why?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Refuting Nonsense Against Universal Health Care

The vice chair of the Livingston County Democrats has been writing letters to the editor again, and this time the Livingston Press and Argus decided to publish it.

Donna Anderson has a great letter in the newspaper today (Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2007) on universal health care.

Anderson's letter is in response to a previous writer, who cherry-picked a few statistics about Italy's health care to claim that national health care would be a mistake for the U.S.

Anderson refutes all the writer's points with some well-researched statements, and then closes with:

"It doesn't make sense to have our health care rely on for-profit insurance companies. We need to set up a system where the right to health care is respected for everyone and everyone gets health care. Other industrialized countries have done this for the last 50 years with success.

"It's time the United States puts away the bugaboos and fears of the past about 'socialized medicine' and moves to a single-payer universal health-care plan such as HR 676 in the House of Representatives."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

BTW, a shout-out to Livingston County Chair Matt Evans for his cogent comments in yesterday's Press & Argus about Gen. David Petraeus' testimony on Iraq war "progress."

Tonight's the Night!

Don't forget to stop by the Howell Opera House after work this evening for a special get-together.

This after-work gathering, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., will feature food and beverages for your enjoyment, as well as jazz provided by the Tree Town Quintet, all set against the backdrop of the Opera House itself.

Don't miss this chance to see the inside of the Opera House while enjoying good conversation, some special guests, and great music!

The Livingston County Democratic Party is sponsoring the event and will be accepting donations.

See you there!

Monday, September 10, 2007

How Will Rogers Respond to Iraq Testimony?

Gen. David Petraeus begins his testimony to Congress today (Sept. 10, 2007) on the results of the "surge" in U.S. troops in Iraq. Supporters of the war have been using this anticipated report from Petraeus as an excuse for continuing the war, claiming no change in policy could even be discussed until we knew whether the surge is working.

Before getting the White House spin on the war (the White House previously has said it will produce the written report this month, not Petraeus), take a look at what others are saying about how well the surge has gone.

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo notes that Bush Administration officials won't even say how they arrived at numbers showing a decline in civilian deaths in Iraq.

And Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor of Middle Eastern history, has highlighted on his Informed Comment blog a McClatchy News Service article on civilian deaths and other statistics that undermines the administration view of the surge.

So armed with that information, we will all wait with baited breath to hear what Rep. Mike Rogers has to say about the surge, in the same way that he has waited all summer for the Petraeus report before budging on his position on the war. He's already called the surge a mistake but says we should stick with it. And he's said that we've turned the corner militarily, but not politically.

So what now? If Petraeus and the White House say the surge is succeeding, does Rogers have to admit he was wrong? If they say it's not succeeding, what is he waiting for now? The American people have made up their minds about this war. Too bad a supposed leader like Rogers won't listen to them.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Good news, bad news

The bad news? Still no budget. (Over at MichLib, LiberalLucy has excellent coverage of last night's shenanigans at the State Capitol).

The good news? Apparently, Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (a/k/a The Staller in Chief) is working really hard to improve his golf game:

The Speaker [Andy Dillon] also remarked that the House was sill in the chamber and ready to work through the weekend if necessary, but the Senate had adjourned.

"Mike Bishop has a golf outing to raise funds," Dillon said.

No kidding.

If you think that Senator Bishop should get off the golf course and onto the Senate floor, let him know:

Office Address:
S-106 Capitol

Mailing Address:
Senator Mike Bishop
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536

By Phone: (517) 373-2417

By Fax: (517) 373-2694

By Email:

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Mixed-up Priorities

Our State Legislature managed to get it together -- easily, apparently cordially, and quickly -- to pass a bill moving the Michigan primary to January 15th. The House vote was 67 to 34; the Senate’s was 36 to 0. The Governor signed it just as fast.

What did we get out of this?

The national parties are threatening to not seat our delegates; none of the Dem candidates will campaign here; local election workers have serious concerns; the data will be available to state political parties but not to the citizens whose taxes will foot the bill; and last but not least

Now, I'll agree that New Hampshire and Iowa aren't exactly representative of our country as a whole. I'd also agree that the existing primary system is pretty goofy. But it's a major leap to assume that scheduling a January 15th primary will result in oodles of campaign dollars coming to Michigan, or that it will put our dire economic situation on the national radar screen.
What would help our state attract and keep businesses here? Oh, I don't know. Maybe a BUDGET? Our state's credit rating keeps on sliding and there's no end in sight. Standard & Poor's had a recent article which included this observation:
"the nature of the cuts that may be required at the end of 2007 because of failed negotiations on previous gap closing measures all suggest that the state could struggle with fiscal imbalances even beyond 2008." And that "...2007 actions that only defer needed budget adjustments rather than address them will make true fiscal balance in 2008 more difficult. Further downgrades are possible without economic stabilization and real action to restore fiscal balance."
(emphasis mine)
Memo to Lansing: do the job you have been elected to do. Do the job you are paid to do. Do the right thing for our state and make the budget a priority.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Best Time and Place for Protest -- When People Will See It

Muddy Borehouse has weighed in recently on whether Livingston Democrats should have carried signs during the Howell Melon Fest protesting Republican policies and actions. Not that it's any surprise, but the Livingston Press and Argus columnist says we should not have done so even though we have a right to do so.

Apparently, we violated the sanctity of the Melon Fest, which is reserved exclusively for melon-worship. As Borehouse said, "There's a time and a place for protests like that, and I don't think the Melon Fest parade was the time or the place."

The time and place for protests is when and where people will see them. And they saw them at the Melon Fest.

What the public didn't see, of course, was the letter that Livingston County Democratic Party Vice Chair Donna Anderson sent to the Press and Argus in response to a Republican letter. Although Borehouse found the debate over the signs fascinating, his newspaper didn't think it was worth more than one letter pro and con. (The newspaper did publish Party Chair Matt Evans' very well-written response to the GOP letter.)

Here's Donna's letter:

"After I read Allan Filip’s letter and finished laughing, I had to respond to his comments. It’s hilarious that the Chair of the Republic Party wishes the Democrats 'would show a little more class.' Is this the same Allan Filip whose wife arranged to bring Ann Coulter, the hate spewer, to Livingston County? Ann is such a 'class' act in her thigh high skirts barely covering her anorexic body, tossing her waist-length hair about while she promotes her poisonous ideas with hate speech. It’s small wonder that Senator Hansen Clarke (D) won election over her at Cornell. She hasn’t run for office since.

"The Democratic signs were expressing democratic views in language that children could read. No one was called a 'faggot' or 'raghead' nor did we call for assassinations of political figures. The Republic Party’s girl, Ann, has used all of these hate speech words plus numerous others.

"Our signs were messages calling for change in policies and our government. The parade watchers certainly liked them because we were applauded all along the parade route. Our inexpensive handwritten signs, unlike Coulter, didn’t cost us $30,000. either.

"Children love a parade and it’s good that the Jaycees provide the MelonFest parade. Caring about children, however, is more than throwing a parade that makes kids happy for a few minutes and pretending the nation doesn't have any problems. It's also about making the tough choices to protect our children's future, including saving them from the draft and huge deficits and providing them with health care. It’s a class act to carry signs with those kinds of messages.

"For the readers of the Press and Argus, here is a list of the messages on the Democratic signs:

"Senate GOP quit stalling on State budget
"We want universal healthcare!
"No spying on Americans!
"Mike Rogers voted against children's health
"Support the troops, bring them home!
"State Senate: Don't balance the budget on our student's backs!

"I leave you, the readers, to judge for yourselves whether these messages are 'hateful slogans.'"

Donna is right, especially by noting that caring about children means more than throwing a parade and pretending the nation has no problems.

The only regret I have about the signs is that they weren't melon-themed. Next year, I'm going with, "Bush is a melon-head." On the other hand, that's a slander on melons.