Friday, October 31, 2008

Failure of Imagination

It was one of those questions designed to catch politicans off guard, to make them think on their feet, and say something spontaneous, rather than an answer they had rehearsed.

It came up during the Livingston Press and Argus debate on Thursday (Oct. 30, 2008) featuring candidates for 8th District Congress, the 66th and 47th House seats, and district judge.

It asked the candidates to name the Democratic and Republican politicians they most admire.

The Democratic candidates had a variety of answers -- FDR, Dwight Eisenhower, Bill Milliken, Abraham Lincoln, L. Brooks Patterson, Lana Pollock.

Two of the Republican candidates and the Libertarian (actually a Republican) favored one name -- Ronald Reagan. None of them mentioned either George Bush, or even Michigan's own Gerald Ford. Or Abraham Lincoln or Theodore Roosevelt. (Mike Rogers named his mother, but his brother Bill didn't.)

Just Ronald Reagan. And mainly for his "ability to communicate."

Talk about lock-step thinking. Maybe that's why the party is where it is this year. It's stuck in a 1980s way of thinking while the nation has moved on.

Scary? You Betcha!

from today's

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Free and Fair: It's the Law

Sadly, there are some people out there who don't believe in free and fair elections.

Happily, there are a lot of people who DO believe, and are working hard to protect your right to vote:

*Thanks to the efforts of the ACLU, the Advancement Project and the law firm of Pepper Hamilton LLP, Michigan voters who were removed from the voting rolls simply because they hadn't received their voter ID in the mail had their right to vote reaffirmed by U.S. District Court Judge Stephen J. Murphy.

*Thanks to Michigan Messenger for exposing a plan by Macomb County GOP officials to disenfranchise voters who had lost their homes to foreclosure. The Michigan GOP huffed and puffed, said it was a lie and threatened to sue ... then, um, admitted it was true and reached a settlement that prevented them from using foreclosure to disenfranchise voters.

There are plenty of everyday heroes out there who make sure that American citizens can exercise their right to vote. You can be one of them!

* Confirm that you are registered and find your local polling place, check out the Secretary of State's Voter Information Center.

* Take a peek at the ACLU Voting Rights Guide for Michigan, which has a step-by-step guide to making a complaint.

There are also a number of organizations keeping an eye on things, including the ELECTION PROTECTION HOTLINE: (866) OUR-VOTE; the Michigan Bureau of Elections: (517) 373-2540; the U.S. Department of Justice:(800) 253-3931; the ACLU Voting Rights Project: (877) 523-2792 ; and the ACLU of Michigan:(313) 578-6800

Knowledge is power -- be well-armed!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Down to the (Concertina) Wire

Rolling into the last week of the campaign, it's not a stretch to imagine that the GOP will be scraping the bottom of the slime barrel even harder.

Since the "domestic terrorist," "socialist," and "secret Muslim" smears aren't sticking (while the Palin wardrobe flap seems to be), it's a safe bet that McCain's Rove-inspired campaign crew will default to foreign policy scare tactics: "He's willing to talk -- gasp -- with our enemies!"

This morning's Wall Street Journal has the perfect rejoinder for Obama supporters when faced with McCainiac scaremongering:

U.S. Mulls Talks With Taliban in Bid to Quell Afghanistan Unrest: Gen. Petraeus Backs Effort to Win Over Some Elements of Group

The U.S. is actively considering talks with elements of the Taliban, the armed Islamist group that once ruled Afghanistan and sheltered al Qaeda, in a major policy shift that would have been unthinkable a few months ago.

Senior White House and military officials believe that engaging some levels of the Taliban -- while excluding top leaders -- could help reverse a pronounced downward spiral in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan. Both countries have been destabilized by a recent wave of violence. [skip]

The idea is supported by Gen. David Petraeus, who will assume responsibility this week for U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Gen. Petraeus used a similar approach in Iraq, where a U.S. push to enlist Sunni tribes in the fight against al Qaeda in Iraq helped sharply reduce the country's violence. Gen. Petraeus earlier this month publicly endorsed talks with less extreme Taliban elements. [skip]

Current and former officials attributed the White House's policy shift to the influence of Gen. Petraeus. "I do think you have to talk to enemies," he said Oct. 8 during a speech to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. "You want to try to reconcile with as many of those as possible while then identifying those who truly are irreconcilable."

So when wild-eyed Republicans yell about Obama's dangerously naive foreign policy plans, just smile and calmly remind them that a four-star General thinks that talking to your enemies is actually a smart thing to do.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Granholm Plugs Livingston's 'Wall-to-Wall' Democrats on National TV!

Livingston County Dems showed Gov. Jennifer Granholm a little love Monday (Oct. 27, 2008) and she showed it right back -- on national television, no less.

The governor came to the headquarters of the Livingston County Democratic Party and the Barack Obama Campaign for Change in Brighton to kick off a canvass with just over one week to go until the Nov. 4 election. She fired up the canvassers crowded into the office with a vision of how an Obama administration's energy policy could bring jobs to Michigan. And the canvassers fired Granholm up with rousing applause.

Later, Granholm told the audience of MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show" why Obama has a double digit-lead in Michigan.

"We understand what is really important here," she said. "We are all about jobs. I just left a county, Livingston County, which is a fairly conservative county (by the way, they made sure they told me to say hello, they love you). It was a packed Democratic kick-off. They were wall to wall, and this county should never be up for grabs, or at least certainly we shouldn't have any Democratic House seats that are in play."

Granholm said the McCain pull-out from Michigan left the field open for negtative attack ads against Obama and "it's just not working."

As Granholm put it, George Bush pulled out of Michigan eight years ago by ignoring Michigan's auto industry and the nation's manufacturing sector. John McCain, she said, "keeps trotting out the same old policies" and that's not working either.

Guess the Livingston Dems made an impression on our great governor.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Livingston Republican Concedes Defeat

The Livingston Press and Argus is full of newsy bits this morning (Oct. 26, 2008).

Let's start with the story on the $20,000 advertising buy for the local Republican Party. You've probably seen the billboards and maybe even the cable television ads touting all the "accomplishments" of local Republicans. Never a mention of the mess in Hamgburg Township or the Mission Hills matter in Green Oak. How I wish I had $20,000 to spend explaining all the effects of Republican rule in our county.

But most interesting is an admission from Mike Murphy, county Republican vice-chair.

According to the Press and Argus:

"Murphy said it's possible Republicans could 'lose a seat or two' this election to Democrats, and that the advertisements, which will run through Election Day, are intended to remind residents of 'how Republican leadership has made the county what it is today.'"

Twenty-thousand-dollars to avoid losing only "a seat or two" to Democrats?

Next item up is, of course, the Press and Argus' editorial endorsing Sen. Barack Obama for president. A key portion of the endorsement says:

"It is Obama who has acted more presidential, resisting the temptations to react to cheap taunts tossed by his opponents.

"Some of Obama's positions need to be challenged. He relies too much on government solutions. His energy policies need to expand to fully use all sources, including nuclear, clean-coal, and oil-drilling both offshore and in Alaska.

"He has by far the better health-care plan, providing for the coverage of all children. His tax plan, far from socialist (more name-calling from the Republicans) is reasonable. McCain's plan is fine if you earn millions of dollars. It's not so good for the rest of us.

"While the McCain-Palin ticket seeks to benefit from a divisive campaign, Obama seeks to unify a nation needing solutions, comfort, confidence and leadership.

"'The true test of the American ideal,' said Obama, 'is whether we're able to recognize our failings and then rise together to meet the challenges of our time.'"

The newspaper endorsed John Kerry four years ago, but generally it prefers to endorse Republicans, especially at the local level. It probably will take a hit from many of its readers for endorsing Obama so it was a brave thing to do. Also the right thing.

Neither the Republican admission of their fear of losing seats to Democrats nor the newspaper endorsement of Obama will matter, though, if local Democrats fail to get out and work this last week before Election Day.

Don't let up now. Let's make Mike Murphy's admission come true -- in spades!

Bizarre Hardesty Ad Rehashes Hamburg Troubles

Just when you think relations among Hamburg Township Republicans can't get any more bizarre, this happens.

An apparent supporter of Township Clerk Joanna Hardesty has begun running ads on the Livingston Press and Argus website quoting Ronald Reagan and rehashing the troubles on the township board that led to the defeat of incumbents in the August primary.

Addressed to "Livingston Reagan Republicans," the first segment of the website ad blames local Republican Party leadership and/or Rick and Cindy Pine, township supervisor defeated in the primary, for stirring up trouble on the Hamburg board. Three more segments are promised.

The details of the whole Hamburg Township situation are too messy to go into here. Sort of like the details of a really dysfunctional family. Hardesty is now running a long-shot write-in campaign against Matt Skiba, a Republican so unimpressive that even the Livingston Press and Argus could not endorse him, and Democrat Debby Buckland.

The only way to end this long-running soap opera is to break up the Republican gang on the township board and replace some of them with people who care about the community more than about stabbing each other in the back.

Hamburg Township voters should put some Democrats on the board -- Debby Buckland (clerk), Linda Taylor (treasurer), and Shannon Piper (trustee) -- to babysit with the Republicans and make sure the work gets done.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Is Rogers In Trouble?

When long-time incumbents begin attacking their opponents, they either have no class or they think they're in trouble.

So it was with no little sense of surprise that supposedly secure Republican Mike Rogers was caught conducting a negative push-poll earlier this week to smear Democratic challenger Bob Alexander in the 8th Congressional District race.

Now, the Michigan Republican Party has been caught sending negative fliers to voters in the 8th District attacking Alexander for supporting health care for all.

If Rogers' job is so secure, why he is attacking Alexander? If he has done so much for the people of Livingston County and elsewhere, why doesn't he just run on his accomplishments?

The answer is pretty clear, isn't it?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

GOP Diversity Stops at VP Level

Republicans seemed to embrace the concept of diversity in leadership when John McCain picked Sarah Palin as a running mate.

But it appears at the local level, the Grand Old Party is still the Good Old Boys' Party.

I'm talking about the Hamburg Republican Team -- a group of seven men -- mostly in the same age group -- who appeared at the Hamburg Candidates Forum Monday night (Oct. 20, 2008) at the Hamburg Township Hall.

Could they not have had found room for one woman on their seven-member slate? After all, this isn't 1950. Women aren't confined to the kitchen anymore.

Gender aside, the Republican team fell short in comparisons with the Democratic candidates. Debby Buckland came off as warm, confident, ready to get to work, knowledgeable, and not part of the past nasty problems with the board. Republican Matt Skiba seemed a little lost, twice misstating when he had moved to the township.

In the matchup for treasurer, Democrat Linda Taylor was strong and confident, clear about her abilities and what she would bring to the job. Republican Patrick Evon just rambled.

Unfortunately, Democrat Shannon Piper could not attend the forum, but she would have been a sharp contrast to the chummy Boys Club of Republican candidates for trustee.

County Commission candidate Dave Buckland also starred with his knowledge about the county budget, the issues he raised about plans for a new jail, and his support for WALLY. Buckland would have looked even better had his opponent been able to be present.

Voters have until election day to watch the forum on cable television. They will be impressed with the Democratic candidates.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Incumbent Rogers Going Negative

Mike Rogers, an incumbent congressman with a huge war-chest, is going negative against an under-financed Democrat.

Is he worried?

Democrat Bob Alexander's campaign is receiving reports that voters in Michigan's 8th congressional district are receiving calls in what appears to be a negative push poll.

The calls are from an organization that identifies itself as either "Wilkerson Associates" or "Vanguard" which claims to be conducting a poll. One of those voters receiving such a call made a return call to the number, which turned out to be one of the GOP's "Victory Centers."

The calls generally start out asking who the person plans to vote for, and then asks a "question" containing false allegations about Bob Alexander.

Anyone receiving such a call is asked to make a note of the content, ask who the caller is working for, and then contact Bob Alexander for Congress by calling 517-367-7400 or emailing

After all his years in Congres, is this all Mike Rogers has to talk about -- lies about his opponent? Shouldn't he be bragging about his accomplishments for the people of the 8th District?

The silence speaks volumes.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Press and Argus Coverage -- Mixed Bag

Sen. Barack Obama out-raising Republican John McCain in Livingston County? The Livingston Press and Argus says it's true, in a piece for Sunday (Oct. 19, 2008).

The article goes on to suggest that the money race may mean many Republicans are "jumping ship" and supporting a Democrat for president.

Could that explain the billboards that Livingston County Republicans have erected around the county bragging about the county's bond rating and tax rates? Local Republicans having to spend money to defend their turf is a new development in Livingston County.

The Press and Argus is doing what it can to help shore up the GOP base, however. What it giveth with one hand, it taketh away with the other. For while it mentioned Obama's lead in fund-raising here, the Sunday paper also featured a big spread on the local Republicans' unity dinner featuring Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Funny, but I don't remember seeing such a story when the Livingston County Democrats had a similar dinner two weeks ago featuring Sen. Carl Levin, Lt. Gov. John Cherry, and former Michigan Congressman Dave Bonioer, as well as many local candidates.

Local Republicans get together=Big News! Local Democrats get together. Not so much.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Anderson Stars in Detroit Public Television Forum

Bill Rogers ran away from a debate with Democrat Donna Anderson in the race for Michigan's 66th House seat, refusing to appear with her in the Center for Michigan's Great Debates series on Detroit Public Television.

Anderson's performance in a DPTV forum for candidates shows why Rogers refused to show up for a debate with her.

Check out the videos of the forum, sans Rogers, here and here.

It also will be broadcast on Detroit Public Television on Sunday (Oct. 19, 2008) at 3 p.m.

MLive: Buckland Race Is Hottest in Hamburg

Hot, hot, hot.

That's the way MLive, the on-line version of Livingston Community News, describes Democrat Debby Buckland's race with Republican Matt Skiba for Hamburg Township clerk.

Buckland is running a classy, well-thought-out campaign for the post.

Check out the MLive race summary here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

More Good News About Alexander Race!

It's time to start believing in Bob Alexander.

I've been a believer for a long time in Bob's chances against Mike Rogers in Michigan's 8th Congressional District. But now Mark Grebner has done a mini-poll of ticket-splitting voters in the district to find Bob close to Rogers in what is expected to be a big Democratic year in Michigan.

Check out Grebner's post on Michigan Liberal.

This confirms what I have been hearing from people for months who have come into the Livingston County Democratic Party office looking for yard signs and other information. When Rogers' name is brought up to them, they recoil. But when asked if they support Bob, they ask for more information. Lately, some people have come in expressly asking for Alexander yard signs.

The word is getting out.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Enjoy Breakfast with Bob Next Week!

Have questions about how Bob Alexander would represent you in Washington, D.C.? Want to know what he would do about the financial crisis, about health care, or about any of the several other crises eight years of Republican rule have brought us?

Then you will want to join him at a Livingston County edition of "Breakfast with Bob" at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 23. Bob will be at the Breakfast Club, 676 W. Grand River, Brighton.

Alexander's campaign is catching on. Russ Feingold recently named him one of his ten "Progressive Patriots." A progressive patriot is someone who has made his or her race competitive but isn't getting much support from the Democratic Party and other major donors. Feingold is trying to raise $50,000 to give each of the candidates $5,000 each.

That's good news for Bob. So come and hear his message!

Anderson Lays Out Full Agenda for House

It's common knowledge that Bill Rogers is avoiding a debate with Democrat Donna Anderson in the race for Michigan's 66th House seat. He recently backed out of a debate on Detroit Public Television sponsored by the Center for Michigan on the grounds that he was too busy because he does not have the "luxury" of being unemployed.

But he did have time to show up at WLNS in Lansing to tape a message to the voters, at the invitation of the television station. At least, he had a little time. He taped only a 30-second message.

Anderson, on the other hand, spoke for five minutes about her priorities as a future lawmaker -- education, the environment, job creation, health care, and stem cell research.

You can view Anderson here.

So Wall Street Likes Socialism Now?

After months of hearing uninformed Republicans deride Sen. Barack Obama as a socialist for reasons that have never been clear to me, imagine my surprise to learn that the stock market went up like a rocket Monday after the Bush administration agreed to buy a stake in some of the nation's banks.

So Wall Street, that bastion of American capitalism, likes socialism now?

Is that kind of like the old canard that there are no atheists in fox holes?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Not Enough Info on Candidates? Are You Kidding?

It's no secret that television has dumbed down the world, especially television news. Brief quotations, an emphasis on the visual over the cerebral, a stress on conflict rather than consensus -- these are just some of the ways that television news coverage has impoverished our public discussion of important issues. The medium is the message, we are reminded yet again.

The presidential debates are in many ways a microcosm of those trends. In the world of television, 90 seconds or two minutes to answer a question is a relative eternity, but it's still not enough.

So in a way, I agree with the Livingston Press and Argus' complaint in an editorial for Sunday (Oct. 12, 2008) that the last presidential debate between Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain left many questions unanswered.

For example, the editorial complained that Obama's position on the "surge" in Iraq is unclear and asked if he thought there were better alternatives. "Some voters might want to know if Obama can learn and be flexible, or will he stick to his position no matter what?" the editorial asked.

It's true that the debate did not go deeply into the issue. (Why it was even raised at all during a debate on domeestic policy issues is another question.) The moderator failed to exercise his discretion to follow up.

But the editorial leaves the impression that voters have to rely solely on these debates for their information. In the internet age, that's just not so.

Obama has a comprehensive website that discusses the surge and notes that while it has contained the violence, there has been no progress toward a political settlement. That, afterall, was the goal of the surge. Would he have proposed an alternative strategy? Yes. Getting out and requiring the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own affairs.

Obama also has written two books, which are very well thought-out and well-written discussions of who he is and what he believes.

A ton of information exists on Obama, for anyone who wants to go looking for it. Just don't expect it to show up on television.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Too Horrible to Think About--But for the Wrong Reasons

The news that General Motors and Chrysler are considering a merger should send cold chills down the spines of everyone in America.

It's yet another sign of our shrinking ability to make anything, to buy anything, to compete in the world, and to produce what we need to defend ourselves.

The Detroit Free Press describes the merger possibility, in a story in editions for Saturday (Oct. 11, 2008) as a "landmark moment" in Detroit auto industry history because it would "reshape" the global auto industry.

The Freep's business mouthpiece, Tom Walsh, offers his own take on the matter, describing it as "too hard to think about."


"All the plants to close, all the tortuous discussions with the UAW, all of the possible litigation with dealers. It's too horrible to contemplate," Walsh wrote.

Good grief, man. Thousands of people are likely to lose their jobs, their homes, their futures. And all you can do is whine about having to cover the "tortuous discussions with the UAW"?

Can't you explain why the negotiations might be "torturous"? Can't you even acknowledge the pain that job losses could cause the working families represented by the UAW?

In any of the coverage by the Free Press, was there even a working person asked for his or her opinion of the matter?

Oh, there was a nice piece on a Ford executive retiring.

That'll have to do.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dick Morris Came, Went. So What?

Dick Morris is famous for two things -- hating the Clintons and sucking on a prostitute's toes.

Those two things were apparently all it took to earn him an invitation to speak in Livingston County Monday as part of Cleary University's Economic Club luncheon series.

I'm still waiting to see how it improved our local economy.

More importantly, it's interesting to note what a small blip Morris' appearance made.

It wasn't just because local Democrats are too busy working for Sen. Barack Obama's campaign to bother worrying about what Morris said.

It's more that Morris is totally irrelevant. He made his money attacking Bill and Hillary Clinton, after taking money to work for President Clinton.

And guess what? There are no Clintons on the ballot this year.

The spotlight is on Barack Obama and Morris has no "expertise," no inside gossip, to trade on about Obama.

The nation is turning the page on Morris.

Good riddance.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hamburg Clerk Candidate Buckland Brings Class to Race

Check out the Livingston Press and Argus piece from Thursday (Oct. 9, 2008) for a peek at someone who promises to be a great clerk for Hamburg Township.

Debby Buckland is featured in the article, which touts her suggestion that township officials themselves spend a few hours at the reception desk greeting township residents who come in for service.

There is a lot more to Debby than that great idea, however. Although a strong Democrat, she has a great deal of respect for people on both sides of the aisle. She often comments that she likes a particular person regardless of whether he or she is a Republican.

That's the kind of attitude Hamburg Township government needs right now -- someone who wants to get along with people and help everyone work together.

Golf for a New Congressman!

Would you like to see Mike Rogers go down to defeat on Nov. 4?

Then come play golf on Sunday!

Bob Alexander's campaign is hosting a golf outing/fund-raiser to raise money for his campaign.

The event is Sunday, Oct. 12, at 12:30 p.m. at Bramblewood Golf Course, 2154 Bramblewood Dr., Holly, MI. The course's number is 248-634-3481. The $60 outing includes golf, contests, prizes, and more.

For more information, contact Lydia Mitchell at or call her at 517-242-0320.

With your help, Alexander will have the funds to get his message out prior to the Nov. 4 election!

Why Don't We Just Let the Banks Fail? We Tried That Once

As people get increasingly edgy about the state of the economy, it's important to remember that we are not exactly in uncharted territory. We've been here before. It was at the start of the Great Depression.

We let the banks fail then -- by the hundreds. And boy, we sure showed those bank owners, didn't we?

That's what came to my mind when I read the Livingston Press and Argus story for Thursday (Oct. 9, 2008) regarding Republican Mike Rogers' discussion of his vote against a $700 billion plan to recapitalize the American banking system.

Why not just let the banks fail and teach them a lesson, he was asked.

Rogers' reply was, "I felt we were rewarding the very same people who got us into this mess."

The first thing we need to do is get out of this mess. I didn't hear an alternative plan from Rogers for doing that. All we got was optimism that we had reached the bottom, and no plan for getting us up off the bottom.

While it might feel good to teach bankers a lesson, many other innocent people may get hurt in the process.

General Motors and Ford were not to blame for the credit crisis, but won't they suffer if the banks are "taught a lesson" and people can't borrow money to buy a car? How does it help our local economy if people who do have money to buy a house can't get a loan?

Sometimes what makes us feel good really isn't good for us in the long run.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

County Commission Candidate Urges End to One-Party Rule in Livingston County

A candidate for Livingston County board of commissioners says what a lot of people have been thinking. It's time to end one-party rule in Livingston County.

Dave Buckland of Whitmore Lake discusses his views in the Livingston Press and Argus for Wednesday (Oct. 8, 2008).

Dave is one of three Democrats running for county commission. Pam Green is running from Brighton Township (district 1) and Adrian Campbell Montgomery is running from Hartland Township (district 3).

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Day 14 -- And Counting -- Since Bill Rogers Has Refused to Debate

Looks like voters in Michigan's House District 66 are getting the message about Bill Rogers.

It is now Day 14 since Rogers bowed out of his debate with Democrat Donna Anderson on Detroit Public Television sponsored by the Center for Michigan on the grounds that he is too busy. He was supposed to re-schedule but still hasn't.

A potential future constituent wrote the Livingston Press and Argus on Sunday (Oct. 5, 2008) with this advice for voters:

"Republican state House candidate Bill Rogers (66th District) made it quite clear that he is far to busy to fulfill the duties of a state representative should he be elected.

"He was notified in advance about a 30-minute taped debate but opted out the day before the event because he didn't 'have the luxury of being unemployed or retired.'

"Donna Anderson, his Democratic opponent, will be able to make the job of being our representative in the state House her priority. Be fair to Mr. Rogers; do not vote for him."

Not only is he too busy to be bothered with speaking to voters, but he also thinks being unemployed is a "luxury." What an insult to hard-working Michigan citizens who have been laid off.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Monthly Stats Reflect Election Excitement

Traffic on our Living Blue blog is reflecting high excitement over the Nov. 4 election.

For the month of September, total visits to the blog were up 18.9 percent over the previous month, while the per day average was up 22.9 percent. Visitors came from 33 countries, 46 states and American territories, and 98 cities in Michigan.

New visits were up 7.73 percent, while the number of unique visitors was up 26.9 percent.

All the numbers are heading in the right direction. Let's keep them that way through Nov. 4!

Not Sure I'm Believing This

Republican John McCain's surprise announcement that he is pulling resources out of Michigan to concentrate on defending territory elsewhere probably cheered a lot of Barack Obama supporters.

But I'm not completely buying it now that I've thought about it a little.

I wouldn't put it past Republicans to use this announcement as a voter suppression tactic, reasoning that sporadic voters or first-time voters might decide not to venture out to vote if the weather is bad on November 4.

Or they might believe that volunteers will take a few days off instead of feeling the pressure to knock on every possible door.

The tactic is especially suspicious in light of John McCain's announcement that he was "suspending" his campaign during congressional negotiations on the credit crisis bill. Turns out, he kept running ads during most of the time of this "suspension." And he had announced similar "suspensions" numerous times before in his political career.

Then comes a desperate email from Michigan Republican Party chair Saul Anuzis begging for donations to fill the gap in the GOP get-out-the-vote effort. He's seeking to raise $100,000 in the next week.

"...If we’re to remain competitive, if we’re to put the programs in place that Joe Knollenberg, Tim Walberg, Cliff Taylor and our other candidates need for victory, if we’re to show the nation that you can’t count Michigan out, your Michigan Republican Party needs to fill a significant hole."

Hmmm. Just $100,000? Seems like a small amount for helping all the candidates he listed. Either McCain wasn't spending much to begin with here or Republicans think they don't need to do much to get their vote out. And we know the nasty 527 ads are still running even if McCain's own ads are not.

Either way, it makes me think the pull-out is not as significant as they want us to believe.

Update at 1:15 p.m.

Saul's latest email asks for money once again and notes: "ALL of our victory centers were open this weekend—they’ve never closed."

In other words, Barack Obama supporters should not let up.

Friday, October 3, 2008

'Lord of the Rings' Star Coming to Brighton for Obama!

As John McCain beats a retreat out of Michigan, the Barack Obama campaign is adding some star power to its efforts to carry the state in November.

Sean Astin, who starred in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, will kick off a canvass for the Obama campaign at 11 a.m. Saturday (Oct. 4, 2008) at the headquarters of the Livingston County Democratic Party and the Barack Obama Campaign for Change, 10321 E. Grand River, Suite 600 of the Fonda Office Park, in Brighton.

Besides playing the sidekick to Frodor, Sean Astin also starred in the title role of the film "Rudy," about a student at Notre Dame University who fulfilled a dream to play for the university's football team despite long odds. His other credits include "The Goonies" and "Memphis Belle."

People wishing to participate in the canvass should RSVP to Fahad Faruqi, field organizer for the Obama Campaign for Change, at

Let your younger friends know about this opportunity. This is a great chance to turn out even more canvassers for Obama!

Thousands Hear Obama in East Lansing

The dedication of supporters of Sen. Barack Obama is something to ponder.

To all those who think Obama's young supporters won't show up on Election Day, I say, think again.

I made it to Adams Field on the campus of Michigan State University around 11:30 a.m. Thursday (Oct. 2, 2008) and the line to get into the field stretched for blocks and blocks down Circle Drive. By the time I got to my spot around noon, thousands of people already were pressed up against the fence around the stage. Some had begun waiting in line at 8:30. It was chilly and breezy. It was crowded. There was no place to sit. And they waited three hours more after I got there for Obama's scheduled speech.

That's pretty impressive. That's dedication. That, to me, means they'll make it to the polls on Nov. 4.

Palin -- Like a Student Who Never Read the Book

Watching Sarah Palin try to debate Sen. Joe Biden during the vice presidential debate Thursday night (Oct. 2, 2008) must have had a familiar ring to a lot of teachers in the audience.

Wasn't it just like a student writing a review of a book she never read?

At least students try to be a little subtle about it. They don't usually note that they don't want to answer the question that the teacher asked and then try to fake it. They know that's a failing grade right off the bat. They usually just try to fake it by writing about something they do know something about and hope their phony rhetoric will carry the day.

Palin didn't even give the moderator, Gwen Ifill, that courtesy. Several times she flat out said she wouldn't answer the question and instead trotted out the lines she memorized the last few days alongside the creek in Sedona. Ifill was way too tolerant of that kind of behavior. She would have been within her rights to press a little harder for an answer since Palin did agree to the debate format, which entailed answering questions from a moderator.

I never thought Palin would fall totally flat, but the question remains why she did not. The questions in a debate are fairly predictable -- Iraq, Iran, the economy, health care. Palin could be prepped for those. Interviews are a little harder to prep for. No one thought Palin would be asked such tough questions as what newspapers do you read, what Supreme Court decisions do you disagree with, and so on. No one thought to prep her for those.

No one thought they had to, either.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden performed not like a student giving a review of a book he had actually read. He performed more like the guy who wrote the book.

He was a class act from start to finish, not condescending, just knowledgeable, mostly ignoring Palin and going after John McCain's record and policies.

Joe Biden will be an outstanding vice president.

Why Dick 'Toe-Sucker' Morris Is Coming to Livingston County

The Conservative Media guy has a nice piece explaining why Dick Morris, infamous for his bizarre encounters with a prostitute, is the next speaker in the Cleary University Economics Club series.

And it has nothing to do with how to make our local economy stronger.

Read it here.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

How to Watch Tonight's VP Debate

Watching the vice presidential debate tonight (Oct. 2, 2008) between Sen. Barack Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, and Republican Sarah Palin takes a little preparation, almost as much as watching your favorite game on the weekend.

First of all, you need to watch the debate with friends -- like fellow Obama-Biden supporters at Memories Lounge (1840 S. Old U.S. 23, Brighton). Supporters will gather there beginning around 7 p.m. and will be invited to make calls to undecided voters.

Then, you need to know what to watch for. We already know that Joe Biden will do a great job. Expectations for Palin range from the McCain spin (if she shows up with a pulse and speaks in complete sentences most of the time, she wins) to the Obama camp's belief that she will do as well as she did in her gubernatorial debates in Alaska, which was pretty good according to the clips that are all over the Web.

There's no reason to think Palin won't do at least as well as she did in those gubernatorial sessions. She does, after all, have a college degree, experience as a broadcaster, and experience as a political speaker. And she has spent three solid days practicing by that creek in Sedona, Arizona.

Personally, I don't expect her to crash and burn. Instead, I expect that she will be glib, but general, filling her answers with a few phrases that she will repeat over and over. These will include "the surge is working," "country first," "maverick," and so on.

To a casual viewer, she will sound OK. But for voters look for a reason to support her, she will be short on specifics about our nation's challenges and how McCain will address them.

That's where she will fail and that's why McCain-Palin will come up short in November.