Monday, December 31, 2007

Wrapping Up a Great Year for LivingBlue!

The year 2007 was a great time to be a Democrat in Livingston County. If you've followed what has been happening here, you already know that we began the year by hosting U.S. Sen. Carl Levin at a January fund-raiser. Then we heard from State Sen. Hansen Clark of Detroit in May. Lt. Gov. John Cherry joined us for a picnic in September, and state party Chair Mark Brewer joined us in anticipating 2008 in October.

We marched in two parades, socialized at the Howell Opera House, held three movie nights, and heard a presentation on the vitally important issue of stem cell research. We sent our own cook book to the publisher and launched a blast email for keeping members informed. And on top of all that, we brought new vigor to our blog, Living Blue.

There's no doubting that last point.

Statistics from Google, which we began collecting only in October, show we had 1,228 visitors from 17 countries. Those countries include Canada, Turkey, France, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand, India, Fiji, Mexico, Lithuania, Slovenia, Australia, South Africa, and Costa Rica. Within the U.S., our readers have come from 36 states and the District of Columbia, including Florida, Iowa, New York, Arizona, Minnesota, Illinois, Nevada, Maryland, California, and on and on.

Within Michigan, our readership extends beyond Livingston County to 84 communities, taking in Detroit, Lansing, East Lansing, West Bloomfield, Southfield, Livonia, Dearborn, Ishpeming, and many others.

Many of our readers have come to us from our friends at Michigan Liberal.

So thanks, readers, for helping put LivingBlue on the map!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Livingston Democrat to Aid Clinton Campaign

A Livingston County Democrat has been chosen to mobilize Minnesota voters for Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign for the Democratic nomination for president.

Debby Buckland, an active member and leader of the Livingston County Democratic Party, will be state field director for the state of Minnesota. Minnesota holds its primary on February 5, along with 21 other states.

Debby is a campaign veteran. In 2004 she worked for the Michigan Democratic Party's Coordinated Campaign helping to carry the state for John Kerry. She also has been a valuable member of the local party. She serves on the party's Finance and Strategy Committees, having organized the fall event at the Opera House in Howell as well as participating in the planning and execution of several other events throughout the year.

Hurry back, Debby. Livingston County needs you!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Don't Be Fooled by 'Right to Work for Less ' Petition

By this point in life, you've learned not to judge a book by its cover; that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

All those cliches fit the so-called Right to Work ballot initiative that Republicans are expected to begin circulating at polling places on the day of Michigan's presidential primary, Tuesday, January 15, 2008.

The ballot initiative really should be called the "Right to Work for Less" proposal. It does not guarantee anyone a job, despite its alluring title. Instead, it threatens the standard of living of Michigan workers by undercutting unions, depriving them of the support of workers by requiring them to represent everybody in the bargaining unit regardless of whether they pay dues.

Once you get behind the title, though, the ballot proposal doesn't sound quite so good. According to Michigan Liberal:

"Workers in Right to Work states earn on average $6,590 less than workers in free-bargaining states. That’s the equivalent to a 17% pay cut! On average, Right to Work states have a 16% higher poverty rate and job fatality rates are also 54% higher. The average employee in a free bargaining state is 24.1% more likely to have health insurance than a worker in a Right-to-Work state. These statistics are staggering and we cannot afford to be fooled by a false slogan that is being forced on us by outside special interests. The University of Michigan Institute for Labor and Industrial Relations calls Right to Work 'a veiled assault on wage-earners.'"

Does that sound good for Michigan?

The Michigan Democratic Party plans to have volunteers at every polling site warning voters against signing the petition.

People who would like to volunteer to work at a polling site are asked to email Luke Canfora ( at the Michigan State AFL-CIO. Volunteers will be assigned to a polling site and given training and literature.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Last Day to Register to Vote in January 15 Primary

If you are not registered to vote and want to cast a ballot in the January 15 presidential primary, today (Monday, December 17, 2007) is the last day to register.

To be eligible to vote in the primary, a voter must be 18 years old by the time of the primary, be a U.S. citizen, and be a resident of Michigan and of the township in which he or she wishes to register.

The Secretary of State's Office has the details here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Holiday Party Postponed

Livingston County Democrats have cancelled the holiday party scheduled for today (Sunday, December 16, 2007) due to the heavy snow and windy conditions.

The event will be rescheduled.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Blabbing on Her Blog

Wendy Day doesn't get it.

The Howell school board member goes to a meeting with a group of high school students, writes about it on her blog, and then is surprised when students complained that she had violated their confidentiality.

No one told us the meetings were confidential, Day whined.

Most people with a lick of sense would know that teens would feel betrayed by such an act. Most people could figure it out on their own, especially when the teens are criticizing their fellow students for a lack of school spirit. It's not like figuring out who goes to the "Hot Topics" events would be difficult for any student who is half-interested in finding out.

I get the impression that Day and others of her ilk consider themselves superior parents, better than the rest of us who don't parade our phony Christianity around in public. After all, on her blog Day lists her occupation as "Mom."

So wouldn't you think such a great "Mom" would know that teens value their privacy? Wouldn't you think that she wouldn't need to be told that the teens to whom she is listening don't want to have what they are telling her repeated, let alone published on the Internets for everybody to read, for like forever?

Day had better stick to decorating Christmas cookies.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Twelve Days of Christmas, Rogers Style

On the first day of Christmas, special interests gave to me
A gerrymandered di-i-strict

On the second day of Christmas, special interests gave to me
Two photo ops

On the third day of Christmas, special interests gave to me
Three big checks

On the fourth day of Christmas, special interests gave to me
Four K Street pals

On the fifth day of Christmas, special interests got me off
Mark Foley’s Christmas card list

On the sixth day of Christmas, special interests took me out on
Swell Potomac cruises

On the seventh day of Christmas, special interests gave to me
Scary Pakistani pals

On the eighth day of Christmas, special interests gave to me
“No” votes on S-CHIP

On the ninth day of Christmas, special interests gave to me
Money for my CHOMP bash

On the tenth day of Christmas, special interests gave to me
Money for MIKE R PAC

On the eleventh day of Christmas, special interests gave to me
Californians to blame

On the twelfth day of Christmas, special interests gave to me
Lots of trips to Iraq

cross-posted at Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood

Jingle Bells a la Mike Rogers

Dashing through DC
With a gang of lobbyists
Love that K Street cash
Forget constituents

How can I get one more
Gerrymandered term?
What fun it is to wheel and deal
And watch the voters squirm.

Oh, incumbent, incumbent
It’s really quite a scam
Voters pay, you get to play
Off in Afghanistan

Blaming all the Dems
For our country’s ills
You say no to S-CHIP
And you laugh at CAFÉ bills

You say you’re Intel Guy,
Know lots ‘bout terrorist stuff
In Pakistan, you are the man
But you don’t come home enough

Oh, incumbent, incumbent
It must have been a bummer
The NIE says Iran’s nuke-free
No photo ops there in your Hummer

Cross-posted at Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood

Friday, December 7, 2007

Opposing Views Surfacing at Press and Argus

Looks like Buddy Moorehouse didn't get the last word at the Livingston Press and Argus on the appropriateness of using Native Americans for sports masacots.

Dan Meisler is wishing one and all a "PC holiday" in a column in editions for Friday (December 7, 2007) in which he says Native American mascots are a "remnant of an outmoded way of thinking."

Check out the full column here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Party, Party, Party!

Livingston County Democrats are bringing a successful year of programming to a close and to celebrate, they will gather Sunday, Dec. 16, for their annual holiday party.

The event will run from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., with dinner served at 5 p.m. The party will provide ham, wine, coffee, tea, and other beverages, as well as table service. Please bring a dish to share as well as donations (in the form of cash, check, or canned goods) for Gleaners' Food Bank.

The party will be at Livingston County Democratic headquarters, 10321 E. Grand River, Suite 600 of Fonda Office Park, Brighton, just east of U.S. 23. For more information, please call party headquarters at (810) 229-4212.

See you there!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Amway = Security?

Dick (Mr. $26.22 per Vote)DeVos will be the keynote speaker at the Second annual Michigan Homeland Security Venture and Angel Capital Symposium, which takes place tomorrow at Cleary University.

The Press & Argus article noted that
While not an expert in homeland security, DeVos is a Grand Rapids-area businessman, president of Windquest Group and the son of one of the founders of Amway Corp.

DeVos' talk is expected to focus on the value of investment in protecting the homeland, and about Michigan's growing role in the field.

[For a much funnier take on what promises to be theater of the absurd, I tip my hat to Eric B. at Michigan Liberal for his post "How to Wage War... and Make Money!"]

Now, you probably know that Mike Rogers is never far away when there's a big, steaming serving of pork 'n' cash available. So let's count the connections:

1.) Rogers is a major supporter of Cleary University ("Semper Coulter"). For FY08, he asked for the following goodies for Cleary:

* $1,040,000 for road construction at Cleary University

* $461,000 to Cleary University for equipment upgrades & technology instruction for high school students through Cleary's partnerships with local public and charter schools

* $225,000 to construct a community recreation center on the Cleary campus

Pretty sweet for a satellite campus of a university with less than 800 students!

Both Rogers and Cleary University are founding partners of the Livingston Economic Club , which ponied up $30,000 for Ann Coulter to speak last October.

2.) Moving right along, we come to the Michigan Homeland Security Consortium. For those of you unfamiliar with the MiHSC, it's a kind of Chamber of Commerce for security companies. Mike Rogers was the keynote speaker at its kickoff meeting on September 11, 2006. The MiHSC mission:
To drive the development and growth of the Homeland Security Industry within the State of Michigan, placing it at the forefront of the State’s economic revitalization.

Fair enough. We need something to revitalize our state's economy. And yet... I always get a little queasy when folks start to talk about national security as a growth industry. Mike Rogers, for one, is an old hand at linking security and profit. In 2004, the City Pulse carried this story:

“I believe there’s a great opportunity for Michigan companies in Iraq,” Rogers told a dozen businessmen at a Michigan Manufacturers Association meeting in Lansing on Monday, May 17. “This economy has the potential to give out $600 billion a year. The Iraqis are fast becoming a consumer population. In my entire life, I’ve never seen so many satellite dishes on roofs.”

Rogers, a former FBI officer and strong supporter of the Iraq invasion, has traveled to Iraq three times since the country’s government was overthrown in April 2003. During a one-hour briefing on “Doing Business in Iraq” with Bush administration senior official William H. Lash as guest speaker, Rogers painted a glowing picture of the prospects for economic gain in this combat-scarred country. [skip]

But during a discussion prior to the business briefing, Lash and Rogers downplayed reports about rising security concerns for foreigners. “It’s just like walking in a rough neighborhood anywhere in America,” Rogers said. (5/19/04)

3.) DeVos' brother-in-law Erik Prince is the CEO of Blackwater USA, which is intimately familiar with the amazing profit opportunities offered by the security industry (see this helpful House Oversight graph of Blackwater contracts during the Bush administration).

4.) DeVos has contributed to indicted former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's campaigns AND his legal defense fund. He also spent quite a bit of time hanging out with uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who now resides in a minimum-security federal prison after being convicted of fraud, tax evasion & conspiracy to bribe public officials. (H/T to Liberal Lucy for an earlier post that showed us the money.)

Interestingly, Mike Rogers has also spent some quality time with Messrs. DeLay and Abramoff. During the tenure of former Majority Leader DeLay, Rogers served as a hand-picked deputy whip in the Republican leadership & raised record-breaking amounts of moola as chair of the RNCC finance committee. In 2006, Rogers’ PAC, the MIKE-R Fund, made $10,000 worth of donations to DeLay's PAC. Rogers is also one of six Congressmen who accepted money from Abramoff’s PAC and refused to return it.

Isn't it nice that Dick & Mike have so many things in common?
    (cross-posted@ Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Blackwater Founder's Brother-in-Law Speaking on Homeland Security

The brother-in-law of the founder of Blackwater USA, the notorious mercenary firm whose guards are the subject of a grand jury investigation for allegedly shooting and killing civilians in Iraq, will be speaking in Livingston County Tuesday on issues regarding business opportunities in the area of homeland security, also known as patriotism for profit.

His name: former GOP gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos.

DeVos' appearance was announced in editions for Monday (December 3, 2007) of the Livingston Press and Argus. The article describes DeVos this way:

"While not an expert in homeland security, DeVos is a Grand Rapids-area businessman, president of Windquest Group and the son of one of the founders of Amway Corp."

The fact that DeVos' wife, Betsy, is the sister of Erik D. Prince, founder of Blackwater USA, was not mentioned, but it seems mighty relevant.

The head of the Michigan Homeland Security Consortium claimed that DeVos was invited because of his "business acumen." I'll bet dollars to donuts that he was invited in part because he can pass people's business cards on to his brother-in-law.

Musings on January Primary

People around the blogosphere are weighing in on what the January primary means, both for Michigan and for the national picture. Take a look at:

Juan Cole, ever astute.

Peter Luke, of Booth Newspapers.

Luke is suggesting that Michigan Democrats might skip their party's primary and vote in the Republican one, perhaps supporting Ron Paul, and thus mucking up the works as they did in 2000 with John McCain and George Bush.

I'm not suggesting that. I'm just saying that's what Luke is saying.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Racism by Any Other Name ...

Everytime I think I should spend a few bucks and subscribe to the Livingston Press & Argus, instead of reading it on line, I read something by Buddy Moorehouse, and the urge vanishes.

On Sunday (Dec. 2, 2007), it was Moorehouse's lament on the passing of the Ypsilanti High School's racist mascot, the Braves.

Moorehouse described complaints against the mascot as the work of a "just a handful of complainers making a lot of noise" and accused the district of giving in to the "silly tide of political correctness." In other words, he first marginalized the critics and then ridiculed them. So much easier than having to deal with the intellectual content of their arguments against use of Native Americans as sports mascots.

If Moorehouse thinks Native Americans are fit subjects for mascots, why aren't other racial groups suitable? Can he explain why only one of the following figures is acceptable as a sports mascot in 21st Century America?

The key part of Moorehouse's analysis of the mascot controversy lies in this paragraph:

"And, yes, I've heard all the arguments that these nicknames are offensive to American Indians. I can certainly see that a nickname like 'Redskins' is a problem, but I don't see 'Brave' as an offensive word. And what's wrong with honoring an Indian tribe by proudly wearing the tribe's name on your uniforms?"

Moorehouse's admission that "Redskins" is "a problem" is a pathetic attempt to minimize the significance of the term. It's not "a problem" -- it's vile racism. Why won't he call it that?

What's wrong with honoring an Indian tribe? Which tribe, exactly, is being honored by Ypsilanti? There is no tribe named "Braves." It is a generic term that treats all Native Americans the same, regardless of tribe, that lumps them all into one category despite vast differences among them. It essentializes them, creating the impression that because they all have similar skin tones, they are all alike. That's racism, pure and simple.

The Central Michigan Chippewa nickname, on the other hand, does honor a specific tribe. And the Saginaw Chippewa community has given its approval to use of their name. The same is true with the Florida State Seminole nickname, whose mascot is an actual historical figure, Chief Osceola, who led the Seminole resistance against the U.S. Army.

Despite Moorehouse's claim that most Sioux in North Dakota support the University of North Dakota's "Fighting Sioux" name, the tribal council of the Standing Rock Sioux has gone on record opposing the name. And he appears to have distorted the contents of the poll. Although a majority of Native Americans said they did not find the name "offensive," a majority of them still said the university should drop the name if the tribes do not want it used.

But besides the way it lumps all Native Americans together, there are other problems with the name "Braves" as it applies to Native Americans. It paints Native Americans as violent, warlike people who are to be feared. War was only one aspect of Native American life and their relationships with Euro-Americans, European governments, and the U.S. government. Remembering Native Americans as warlike helps white Americans justify the massacres that occurred as the American government pursued its expansionist policies of the 18th and 19th centuries. The names "Braves" carries a lot of ideological baggage.

Perpetuating the warlike image of Native Americans also freezes Native Americans in the past. It makes contemporary Native Americans invisible. If the only images of Native Americans that people see are those of fighting warriors of the past, they will overlook Native Americans who live among us as teachers, computer programs, carpenters, doctors, and nurses. And they'll overlook any Native American students who happen to attend Ypsilanti schools and don't fit the stereotype of "Braves."

Moorehouse says the "Braves" name is an honor, but if the people supposedly being honored don't see it that way, why persist? In the past, schools and universities persisted because they had the power to do so. And that's really what it boils down to -- power. Whites have it, others don't.

If Moorehouse wants Ypsilanti to honor a tribe, why not honor one of the biggest, most powerful tribes of all? Why not name Ypsilanti's athletic teams after white people -- "The Fighting Whities."

Actually, some students at the University of Northern Colorado did name their intramural team the "Fighting Whites" in response to a nearby school's use of "Fighting Reds," and has been selling t-shirts and bumper stickers with the name to raise money for scholarships.

I'll bet Moorehouse would feel honored to hear the opposing team's fans shout, "Beat the Whities" and to see images of "whities" hung in effigy on banners before the game. And to read sports page headlines about the "Fighting Whities" being "gunned down" by another team.

All good, clean fun.