Saturday, January 31, 2009

House GOP: Cutting off their trunks to spite their faces

From the always on-target Tom Toles:

For more details on the utter foolishness of the MI GOP delegation, surf on over to MichiganLiberal...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

When Mike Rogers Calls, Hang Up!

Don't be fooled by a call from Rep. Mike Rogers inviting you to stay on the line to enter into a conference call with Rogers. There is no conference call.

What you will hear is a recorded call with a lot of blathering between Mike and possibly a staffer defending Mike's "no" vote on the stimulus bill on Wednesday, January 28. There is no opportunity to talk with the congressman and, perhaps, ask him some pointed questions. Maybe, for instance, how did it feel today, Mike, when President Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter bill into law? Does it still bother you to think that some women will be suing for equal pay?

I've heard better bull sessions in the company lunch room than the conversation between Mike and Mr. Unknown. Too bad there wasn't a Ms. Unknown. That would have been a tiny bit more convincing that an actual discussion was taking place.

Poor Mike! He's really worried about his job (even if he doesn't care about anyone else's). Given the economic situation in Michigan, he's between a rock and a hard place. If he doesn't do what the Republican leadership tells him to do, he loses their support. If he doesn't vote for the stimulus package, equal pay, and health care for poor children, he loses his constituents' support. He's running out of political tricks so he's down to setting up phony conference calls.

Time for Mike to get a job on K Street with his cronies.

Economic Malpractice

From today's Washington Post

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Granholm on CBS Evening News

Tonight, the "CBS Evening News" with Katie Couric will feature a story about the growing alternative energy sector in Michigan. Included in the segment will be an interview with Governor Granholm and footage from Dowding Industries in Eaton Rapids and alternative energy programs at Lansing Community College.
Check local listings for times, or visit the CBS Evening News site for more details.

See Dillon in Press & Argus

Many of you met Dillon Kuiava last year when he worked on the Obama campaign and enjoyed his hard work and enthusiasm. The Press & Argus has a news article on Dillon. Even those of you who have sworn off the paper because of their lack of news and idealized coverage of certain politicians should take a look. Just click here.

Strike Two

Yesterday, Congress gave its final approval to the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which passed 250-177.

No prizes for guessing how Mr. Rogers voted on the bill, which reduces barriers for workers to bring lawsuits for pay discrimination.   It was his second "no" on fair pay for women.

Ms. Ledbetter was a Goodyear plant employee in Alabama, who 
became a champion of women’s rights and an outspoken supporter of Mr. Obama after the Supreme Court, in a 5-to-4 decision in 2007, rejected her lawsuit against Goodyear.

A jury had found that the company paid Ms. Ledbetter less than male supervisors, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Supreme Court did not deny that she had suffered discrimination, but said she should have filed her claim within 180 days of “the alleged unlawful employment practice” — the initial decision to pay her less than men.

By voting against the fair pay act, Mr. Rogers made it clear that he thinks employees should be psychic -- they should know (and act!) within six months of their initial employment if they are facing pay discrimination.  Never mind that for most of us, it takes six months just to figure out how to get the tech support guys to help you.  

Speaking of "fair pay," though Mr. Rogers wailed at the thought of his automatic $4,700 pay increase,

"Congressman Rogers believes there should be no raises for members of Congress as long as the nation has a deficit, and especially while Michigan families are facing pay cuts, loss of their jobs, rising costs for fuel and groceries, and an uncertain economic future," Warner said.

... there's still no word on whether Mr. Rogers will be donating this extra cash to a local charity...

cross-posted at Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

First Hand Account of the Inauguration

Obama and Biden Inauguration 2009

January 19, 2009

We made our way to The Library of Congress for a Michigan inaugural reception hosted by Jennifer Granholm. We met, conversed, and snapped photos with our beloved Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow. They were friendly and gracious with the crowd of Michiganders. I reminded Carl Levin how much Livingston County adores him. He told me that we are doing a great job here and to keep up the good work. He appreciates all of our hard work and devotion to the Democratic Party. I told Debbie Stabenow that I appreciate all of her hard work keeping our Great Lakes safe and Canada’s garbage out of our landfills.

January 20, 2009

I'll never have a day like today again. We hopped onto the Metro at 4:20 am and returned to our friend’s home in Rockville, Maryland at 7:30 pm. We were outside from 5 am till 6:30 pm. without ever complaining or wishing we were somewhere else. It was thrilling from the time we hit the Metro (met two adorable journalists from Spain), through the 6 1/2 hour wait among the masses of like minded people (just happened to stand next to 4 sisters from Detroit and Redford where I taught for 30 years), to the first appearance of Obama on the big screens, to hearing 2 million people chanting "OBAMA" and watching 1.5 million American flags waving in the crowd, until we reluctantly left DC, exhausted but full of hope and love for our new president, Barack Hussein Obama and his beautiful family. During the chanting, nearly every man and woman had tears streaming down their glowing faces. When Obama raised his hand to take his oath, the crowd fell absolutely silent. No one made a sound during the swearing in ceremony. Two million people from every nation, every race, color and creed, packed into the National Mall and there were no unpeaceful incidents during the entire day. I was pushing my neighbor in a wheelchair and when I needed help getting the chair onto a curb or over a barrier, people stopped to help without even being asked. Some would help lift the chair onto the curb, not even breaking their stride or conversation without expecting a thank you. You could feel the energy of goodness, hope and peace in the air. I tear up every time I hear the chanting in my head. I hope that never goes away. I loved every minute of today and wish you could all have been there with me to be a part of the beginning of a new era of bipartisanship, economic growth, an end to a needless war, prosperity for the middle class and a renewed respect from other nations throughout the world. All the hours spent, meetings held, miles walked, and phone calls made during the campaign lead to one of the greatest days of my life.



January 21, 2009

Barak Obama and Joe Biden want all of their volunteers to remain active throughout their administration. They want to know what the average American thinks, needs, and is willing to do for the next 4 years. Go to and to see what you can do.

Muriel Kaier
Mary Musolf
Michael Qualls
Danielle Mann

For more pics go to

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Rogers Can Still Vote for Working Women

Rep. Mike Rogers will get another opportunity to vote for the Lilly Leadbetter Fair Pay Act. You may remember that Lilly Leadbetter sued because she discovered that for years she had been paid less than males doing the same job. Unfortunately, Ms. Leadbetter could not file a discrimination complaint within 180 days of the first paycheck in which such discrimination took place because she didn't know the men were making more than she. The Supreme Court ruled that she had to file within 180 days of the FIRST offense.

Now Congress is righting the wrong done to Ms. Leadbetter by:

Because the Senate made some minor changes to the House version, the House will vote again on this bill which is expected to easily pass the House. Rep. Rogers can vote for equal pay for women or he can choose to vote "no" again.

Rogers gave the excuse for his previous vote that it would cause too many lawsuits. I wonder what Rogers thinks the purpose of the judicial system is if it is not to right wrongs and injustices. Isn't that the point of making laws and enforcing them with a court system?

C'mon, Mike, follow the lead of the female Republican Senators and vote for the Lilly Leadbetter bill. Remember that women are at least 50% of your constituency and we'll remember how you voted for equal pay.

And the auto industry is still waiting

Could Detroit do a lot of things differently?  Absolutely.  And they know it.  The Big Three are already working to change a lot of their "business as usual" ways, debuting great new cars at the Detroit Auto Show and making a lot of tough decisions.

In the meantime, the TARP program is getting ready to shell out another $350 billion even though the banks aren't sure where the first $350 billion went.  Hey, at least the Merrill Lynch CEO got a nice new office makeover last year (a bargain at just $1.22 million -- and isn't it important to have lovely surroundings when you're firing thousands of employees?).

Let's hope that the final stimulus package shows a little more common sense...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

To a New America

Billions of words have been written about Barack Obama and his Inauguration today. We can only add our promises to continue to be patriotic Americans citizens who participate to the best of our abilities in our democracy.

We will work with President Obama to achieve a New America by supporting his policies when we agree and letting him know when we disagree and by being of service to him and our communities and each other. Together with our new President, under his leadership and governance, we will become once again a model of democracy, peace, and freedom for the world.

"I'm asking you to believe not just in my ability to bring about real change...I'm asking you to believe in yours." Barack Obama

Please add your comments on this historic day.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Proud To Be An American

This week end as I watched the pre-Inaugural festivities, I remembered the flak that Michelle Obama took during the election campaign because she said that “for the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country…” I knew what she meant because I felt so proud of my country. I had tears in my eyes as I watched thousands of young people singing with Pete Seeger “This Land Is Your Land” at the Lincoln Memorial. How did we ever forget that this is “our land”?

I guess I’m a softie because the recent military funerals of my brothers-in law brought the tears, too. Taps is perhaps the saddest and most plaintive melody ever played and that may pushed my sadness over the brink. But more than that, the military salute recognizes the service and valor of these men, who grew up in the Depression, left as frightened boys to fight wars in lands that they would never have dreamed of visiting, had battlefield experiences that they didn’t want to talk about, and returned home, older, wiser and patriotic. Then they set about building peace and America.

We forgot what service to our country meant when we were told to go shopping after 9/11. Instead, I felt shame as we invaded Iraq for no good reason, anger and fright that Americans were being spied upon and even imprisoned on suspicion with no right to legal counsel, and horror at our mounting deficits, trade policies, and alienation of world opinion. I wondered what our Senators and Representatives were thinking as they went along with waging war, bad fiscal policies and all the rest we’ve suffered in these past years.

I have always been an American, however outrageous the actions of our government were. I never claimed Canadian citizenship, as some did, during the Bush years when traveling abroad. Patriotism can be painful when one’s government is scorned by the rest of the world.

To quote Thomas Paine:

‘THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. ‘The American Crisis’, Thomas Paine, 1776

On the other hand, It’s easy to be American when times are good, the economy is growing, there are no wars, the world loves us, and our biggest complaint is that the government is taking our money by taxing us.

I hope and pray that we are on a new road with a government that functions with American ideals and asks sacrifice and service from ALL Americans. It is assuring to see so many young people filled with enthusiasm and the energy to make a new United States. I pray that they and the rest of us will not lose our zeal to turn America around in the tough years ahead.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

There He Goes One More Time! Mike Rogers Votes Against Women!

It’s hard to keep up with this guy. First Rogers votes against the kids and now it's the women. Yesterday, Jan. 16, Rep. Mike Rogers voted against Paycheck Fairness for women and the Lilly Leadbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. His excuse seems to be the same one his Republican colleagues from Michigan who voted against these bills have -- it will lead to excessive lawsuits.

Women earn 77 cents on the dollar that men earn. Shouldn't that fact lead to a few lawsuits? Our representative in Congress has just voted to screw 50% of us out of fair day's pay. Every woman who lives in the 8th District should be calling Mike Rogers to ask him what he has against equal pay for women and the right to sue when we don't get equal pay.

Aren't we entitled to a fair hearing and a fair judgment if we discover that our employer pays a male more than us for the same work and the same job? If we can't reach a resolution with our employer, what recourse do we have? If we don't sue, how we can fight against this discrimination?

Mike Rogers has to do better than this or he can kiss any chance for the governorship goodbye. The 111th Congress hasn't been in session for more than a few days and already Mike has voted against women and children. Who's next? Stay tuned for the health care bills which will likely pit insurance companies and pharmaceuticals against seniors and the rest of us. Whose side will Mike take?

Hint: It's not likely to be residents of the 8th District in Michigan.

There He Goes Again! Rogers Votes Against Children

Rep. Mike Rogers has voted once again against SCHIP, which guarantees that 10 million children of working parents who can’t afford health insurance will receive the medical care they need. What is Rogers’ excuse for such a heartless vote? He claims that SCHIP would pit children against seniors and that the Democrats didn’t give time for a full debate. Even his peer in the 11th District, Thaddeus McCotter, knew better and voted for SCHIP this time.

This bill passed twice and was vetoed by Bush. Rogers voted against it each time. How much more debate did he need? This is the third round and when passed by the Senate, the SCHIP bill will be sent to President Obama who WILL sign it.

Criticism about full and open debate coming from one of Tom Delay’s henchmen is laughable. Remember Medicare Part D and the tactics used then to assure passage of a bill that didn’t give seniors as much help as it gave health insurance companies and pharmaceuticals? Remember Billy Tauzin, who chaired the committee (Commerce and Energy) which has authority over the pharmaceutical companies? He pushed Part D, resigned from Congress and went to work for big PhRMA for $2 million a year, lobbying Congress for the pharmaceutical industry. Our Mike was in the middle of it all. He didn’t have much concern for seniors then.

Rogers is considering a run for Michigan Governor. A recent article in the Livingston Press & Argus damns Rogers with faint praise stating that Mike “is as qualified as anyone else considering a run” forgetting that he needs to prove he will make a better governor than anyone else running. The article claims that “Rogers has served us well in Congress” but provides no proof to back up that claim. The main argument to support Rogers for governor is that he comes from Livingston County, which is worth a bucket of warm spit in the rest of the state.

Rogers brings a lot of baggage to a run for Governor. As a statewide candidate, he will need to reach out to many groups and he will have to be more bipartisan than his Congressional record shows. He has not voted for what is best for the people in the 8th District (rich people aside) nor for the people of Michigan. As a party hack, he has followed the Republican leadership over the cliff into the minority. Mike followed his congressional leaders, Tom DeLay, Newt Gingrich, Denny Hastert and Billy Tauzin and approved their outrageous conduct. There is little future for him in the House now. No wonder he wants to run for Governor.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Details Emerge for Economic Stimulus Package

Democrats in the U.S. House have released a draft of the economic stimulus package designed to get our economy moving again.

Several aspects of the package would immediately benefit Michigan and Livingston County>. Money to increase the federal share of the Medicaid program would help out the state budget. Money for road and bridge construction would help Livingston County's backlog of road projects. Funds to repair schools, increase food stamp payments, and on and on.

There are even funds for mass transit, which Livingston County might have benefited from had our county commission moved ahead with the commuter line to Ann Arbor, known as WALLY.

I'm wondering how Mike Rogers will figure out a way to vote against this.

Re-fighting the Hamburg Township War in the Michigan Legislature

It's not bad enough that Republicans in Hamburg Township are still fighting among themselves over the township clerk position.

Now our brand new, still wet-behind-the-ears state representative wants to take the fight to the Michigan Legislature.

Rep. Bill Rogers has introduced a measure that would ban someone from running as a write-in candidate after losing a primary for the same position.

That's exactly what Hamburg Township Clerk JoAnna Hardesty did in November after she lost the GOP primary to Matt Skiba. She came in third, behind Skiba and Democrat Debby Buckland, who would have been a better clerk than the two Republicans put together.

Rogers claims that running as a write-in after losing a primary subverts the will of the people.

This is a totally unnecessary law. Voters are quite capable of asserting their own will in an election, which is exactly what they did in the Hamburg case. They said no to Hardesty.

This measure is really about making the will of the Livingston County Republican Party supreme in Livingston County.

Someone might lose the GOP primary because they are more moderate than the right-wing Republicans can put up with. This measure would prevent him or her from challenging the Republican-annointed candidate. Such a candidate should have the option of offering themselves as a candidate to people who don't vote in GOP primaries. Apparently, Rogers is worried that such a scenario would split the Republican vote and allow a Democrat to win. Horrors!

This measure is anti-democratic (with a small "d") and an attempted Republican power-grab.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Remember King, Help United Way on Sunday

President-elect Barack Obama has asked his supporters to observe a day of service prior to his inauguration so local Obama supporters will be aiming to help out local United Way organizations.

The Blue Tiger Committee of the Livingston County Democratic Party will hold a potluck on Sunday, January 18, in honor of Martin Luther King's birthday.

The potluck will be 4 p.m. at party headquarters, 10321 E. Grand River, Suite 600 of the Fonda Place office park, east of Brighton. Attendees should bring a dish to share, their beverage, and an item from the United Way organizations' wish list (see below).

A film of King's famous 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech will be shown as well as a short film starring James Earl Jones called Martin Luther King, Jr. – Legacy of a Dream.

In keeping with President-elect Obama’s request for Monday (January 19) to be a community service day across the country, we will deliver the items donated at Sunday's potluck to the United Way on Monday.

For more information, please call the office at (810) 229-4212.

Wish List for United Way Organizations

Ream of 8 1/2 “ x 11” paper, white or colors
Box of pens or pencils
Card or cover stock
Notebook binders
Board games
Coloring books
Coffee Creamer
Sweeteners/Sugar for coffee
Juice boxes
Laminating sheets
Paper products (cups, plates, napkins, etc.)
Plastic knives, forks, spoons
Baby dolls
Small baby diapers
Colored Pipe Cleaners
Jump Ropes
Hula Hoops
Toilet paper, paper towels, Kleenex
Cleaning supplies
Postage stamps
Greeting Cards
Address labels
Books for children and teens
Music CD’s & Movie DVD’s (PG-13 and below)
Manilla folders
Post-it Notes
Telephone message pads
Yellow letter & legal pads
Baby supplies
Baby food
Prenatal vitamins
Non-perishable food
Personal care items (shampoo, etc.)
Extension cords
Paper clips
Movie passes
Gift cards for grocery stores, gasoline, Target, Costco, Meijer, Home Depot, Lowes, local restaurants

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Why Don't They Make Cars People Will Buy?

One of the most grating things about the public debate over the auto industry loan has been the frequent repetition of the notion that Michigan-based automakers don't make cars that people want to buy.

Even Phil Power, who usually is quite well-informed, resorted to the notion in a column in the Livingston Press and Argus for Thursday (January 8, 2009).

So it did my heart good to see the sales figures recently released by all the automakers. Toyota and Honda had bigger monthly sales declines than did Ford and GM.

So why don't they make cars that people want to buy?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Party, Party, Party Over Obama Inauguration

It's time to celebrate the peaceful transfer of power from one president to anot....

Out with the old, in with the ...

End of an error, er, era ...

Oh heck, It's time to party!

Come celebrate Barack Obama's inauguration on Friday, July 16, with Livingston County Democrats and all Obama supporters at the VFW/American Legion Spirit Center, 10590 Grand River Road, east of Brighton. The party will start at 7 p.m. and run until 11 p.m.

Donations of $25 per person in advance, or $30 at the door, are requested for the event. The party includes a buffet of hot and cold appetizers, desserts, a cash bar, dancing to the music of Crystal Clear DJ of Howell, and a special video of presentation of campaign highlights.

Call 810-229-4212 or email for more information. Mail checks made out to Livingston County Democrats, 10321 E. Grand River, Suite 600, Brighton, MI 48116.

You don't have to go to Washington to celebrate. You can do it right here at home!

Republicans Finally Find Business Tax Break to Hate

Michigan Republicans, whose party never met a business tax break they didn't like, have finally found one to hate -- Gov. Jennifer Granholm's tax break for the film industry.

Never mind that film companies have been flooding the state ever since the measure became law. Even Livingston County businesses have seen the benefits, with filming going on here for the movie "High School."

But since this tax break was a Democratic idea and maybe because Hollywood has many well-known liberal stars, Michigan Republicans are doing their best to kill the tax.

Nancy Cassis is leading the charge, claiming this tax break is too generous -- a claim I've never heard from any Republican before about a business tax break.

But timing is everything.

On Monday (January 5, 2009), the Livingston Press and Argus featured a story on her complaints about the Granholm tax break.

On Wednesday (January 7, 2009), the Detroit Free Press featured a story on plans for a $100 million film studio in Allen Park that would employ 3,500 people.

Could someone please call Cassis for comment?

Wizardkitten Says It Better

Seems like the folks over at Blogging for Michigan are a little sick of all the speculating about Gov. Jennifer Granholm's future, too.

Check out wizardkitten's blog on yet another possible post for Granholm.

Well done!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Commerce Opening May Revive Granholm Rumors

Some news reporters report news. Some report speculation. Some fuel speculation.

Tim Skubick falls into the later category. The Lansing news veteran has covered the Michigan Capitol since before the electric typewriter was invented. Politicians come and go. Other reporters come and go. Issues come and go. But one thing stays -- Tim Skubick's speculation machine.

A favorite Skubick ploy for creating speculation is to ask virtually every two-bit politician who comes to Lansing, "Are you running for governor?" Nearly every one says he or she is thinking about it because what politician above the level of county commissioner (and some at that level, too) hasn't thought about it.

Presto! Skubick has a "story" without having to do any real work.

An even better story machine this year has been speculation on whether Gov. Jennifer Granholm will take a job in the Obama administration, enabling Skubick to speculate, speculate, speculate about her chances.

When all the jobs in the cabinet were filled, there was still a judgeship to speculate about, as he did recently in the Lansing State Journal.

While speculating endlessly, Skubick blames Granholm for making him do it. He argues that she should just say yes she's interested in a job or no she isn't, as if that would really end his speculating. If she says she would be interested, then Skubick could speculate on why she was passed over for this or that job (whether or not she really was) or which job she might be interested in. If she says no, then Skubick can speculate whether she really was interested and was spurned by Obama.

Speculation never ends because it is based on nothing but thin air.

So now that New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has bowed out of heading the Department of Commerce, expect the Skubick speculation machine to start up again.

But that's just speculation on my part.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Peace Supporter -- And Proud of It

Mares Hirchert (I know her real first name but won't tell) supports peace. And is proud of it.

The Livingston Press and Argus spotlighted Mares in a story in editions for Monday (January 5, 2009).

Mares has been waging her Pinwheels for Peace effort in support of a Palestinian kindergarten for months, taking many pictures in Livingston County Democratic Party offices with visiting dignitaries to build support for preventing the destruction of the school.

In recent days, Mares has been emailing the media and public officials urging them to try to halt Israel's offensive in Gaza. Israel's aerial bombardment, followed by its ground assault, has so-far killed more than 400 Palestinians, far more than the four people killed in Israel by Hamas rockets.

American media have for the most part ignored the context of the situation -- neglecting to mention Israel's blockade of the Gaza strip which has left the residents -- including innocent women and children -- there starving and without power for months.

The comments to the Press and Argus article are interesting. While most praise Mares for her dedication to peace, some are attacking her. We consider ourselves a peace-loving nation, but if anybody stands up for peace, they are attacked.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

One More Sign of Democratic Leanings in Livingston

As we look back at 2008 and political events in Livingston County, people usually focus on how well President-elect Barack Obama did in our county -- almost 43 percent of the vote compared to John Kerry's 36 percent four years earlier.

There were other important signs of an increaasingly moderate lean in this part of Michigan -- Proposals 1 and 2, dealing with medical marijuana and embryonic stem cell research -- both won the county.

The Livingston Press and Argus wraps up these events as part of its 2008 look-back at political highlights in a storyfor editions of Sunday (January 4, 2009).

The piece does a good job of covering the year's political scene, but one sign of Livingston County's increasing moderation that I would add is this:

Livingston County voted for Diane Hathaway for Michigan Supreme Court and against Republican Cliff Taylor.

Michigan Supreme Court races are supposed to be non-partisan, but Taylor was an extremely partisan Republican, the spouse of former Gov. John Engler's legal counsel and a long-time political operative. Under his reign, the Michigan high court skewed far to the right, issuing rulings that not only trampled on the rights of average citizens but bordered on the cruel.

Plus, he was so contemptuous of the rights of litigants that he fell asleep during the arguments of a case involving a fire that killed six children.

Livingston County said "No!" to another term for Cliff Taylor and voted for Hathaway, who had been nominated by the Michigan Democratic Party.

Livingston County Democrats worked hard to persuade voters that Taylor had to go. The party had three events related to the race, including a visit by Hathaway herself at a "Flip the Ballot" barbeque. We talked to everyone who came into our office about the need to replace Taylor. We handed out her signs and carried her literature door-to-door.

So by the time the "sleeping judge" ads rolled around, people in Livingston County were already well-educated about the need to get rid of Taylor.

It's one of the things Livingston Dems are proudest of from the 2008 election cycle.

Warm-Weather Bowls Feeling Chill from Midwest Economic Woes

Just a few weeks ago, people outside Michigan and other industrial states were asking why the federal government didn't just let the American auto industry fail. They are dinosaurs, whose failure was inevitable and who cares.

But now it's college football bowl season and all those non-industrial states are hoping the sons and daughters of those over-paid autoworkers will come south to cheer their university footbeall teams on to victory. And drop a few thousand dollars into the southern economies in the process.

And all of a sudden, the businesses in the tourism states are starting to figure out why a strong industrial economy should matter to them. The lesson is being learned through the teaching aid of empty seats in football stadiums, empty beds in hotel rooms, and empty chairs in restaurants.

In Orlando, where Michigan State University appeared in the Capital One Bowl, the Orlando Sentinal reports the game was far from a sell-out -- only 60,000 seats filled in a 65,438-seat stadium. And hotel occupancy was down 23 percent.

Michigan State had nearly 1,000 unsold tickets from its allotment, the cost of which were deducted from the team's payout. Wisconsin also failed to sell its allotment for the Champs Sports Bowl, which was also played in Orlando.

And the newspaper also reported only 25,205 people went to the St. Petersburg Bowl, that a "smaller-than-usual crowd" was expected for the Orange Bowl.

Elsewhere in Florida, the Miami Herald reported tickets for the Orange Bowl game, which featured Cincinnai, were selling for as little as $10.

And the New Orleans Times-Picayune admits that the Sugar Bowl also had sluggish ticket sales. The attendance officially was listed at 71,872, short of last year's near-capacity crowd of nearly 75,000.

So what does 4,000 fewer fans mean? A lot in terms of empty hotel rooms and restaurant tables.

The same was true in the Southwest, where Phoenix-area merchants are bemoaning the slow sales for the Fiesta Bowl featuring Ohio State. The Arizona Republic quoted an Ohio travel agent as saying demand was "terrible" for bowl packages to the Phoenix area for the game. In response, Phoenix-area hotels were cutting prices.

Yes, times are tough all over. When you make your living by soaking up extra dollars from the paychecks of people who actually make things, you can't expect to do well if they're all laid off.

What goes around, comes around.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Human Rights-E-Mail Sec. Condoleezza Rice!

Secretary Condoleezza Rice:
Amnesty International USA is deeply concerned about the escalation of human rights abuses following the series of Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip that began on December 27th. Since the beginning of the offensive, some 390 Palestinians have been killed, including scores of unarmed civilians, including some 62 women and children. Some 1,900 Palestinians have also been injured.Amnesty International is also concerned about the rocket fire by armed Palestinian groups including Hamas. These attacks are against international law and have killed four Israelis and injured scores more. But Amnesty International USA is particularly dismayed at the lopsided response by the US government to the recent violence and its lackadaisical efforts to ameliorate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Amnesty International, as indeed other human rights and humanitarian organizations, is concerned about attacks directed at or resulting in harm to unarmed civilians. We expect the US government to share this concern for all unarmed civilians, be they Israeli or Palestinians, who are caught in this conflict, and we urge the US government to spare no effort to pressure all sides in the conflict to immediately cease indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks which cause civilians fatalities and casualties. Without diminishing the responsibility of Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups for indiscriminate and deliberate attacks on Israeli civilians, the US government must not ignore Israel’s disproportionate response and the longstanding policies which have brought the Gaza Strip to the brink of humanitarian disaster. While Israel has the right and the duty to protect its citizens, it must do so in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian law. International law takes security concerns into consideration and allows states to use reasonable means to confront legitimate threats. However, operations must be strictly necessary, proportionate and make every effort to discriminate between combatant and civilian. The least intrusive means must be selected to confront the threat. In its latest bombing campaign, Israel is completely failing to meet these requirements under international law. The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. The attacks also come at a time when the civilian population already faces a daily struggle for survival. According to reports authored by Amnesty International, UN aid agencies, OXFAM, CARE, and several other organizations, the humanitarian crisis is at an all-time high level and is now worse that it has ever been since the 1967 Israeli military occupation. Rising unemployment, crippling prices of food and basic supplies, and inadequate medical facilities have created a man-made disaster. According to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, "The civilian population, the fabric of Gaza, the future of the peace process, stability in the region, and goodwill among people throughout the world: all are trapped between the irresponsibility displayed in the indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas militants and At present there is an urgent need for access to humanitarian aid, food and essential supplies – as both aid agencies and residents of Gaza have long ago run out of provision reserves due to the Israeli blockade which has so restricted the flow of goods into Gaza for months. The quantities which the Israeli army has allowed into Gaza in recent days are nowhere near what is necessary to meet the basic needs of the population of 1.5 million. AIUSA is further concerned that weaponry and military equipment supplied to Israel by the US (or developed with US military assistance) have also been used in the recent Israeli strikes against densely populated civilian residential areas of Gaza, resulting in scores of unarmed civilians fatalities and hundreds of casualties, in violation of US law. The U.S. Arms Export Control Act of 1976 requires governments that receive weapons from the United States use them only for legitimate self-defense. The U.S. government can play an important role in ending this crisis by strongly condemning unlawful attacks by both Hamas and Israel which indiscriminately and/or disproportionately kill and injure civilians.The U.S. must also take an active role in reversing the dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza by exerting pressure on Israel to open the crossings into Gaza to allow adequate quantities of humanitarian aid into the strip – including food, water, medicine and fuel. Humanitarian and human rights workers as well as media must be allowed to enter to aid in the recovery and to serve as neutral, third party observers. Israel must also grant the wounded access to hospitals in Israel and to Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank. The United States should also take steps to insist that the Egyptian authorities open Egyptian hospitals to those in need of medical care which is not available in Gaza and ask that Egypt guarantees that its border guards do not resort to excessive use of force against those fleeing the bombing. Hamas must also ensure that its security forces and militias do not, under any circumstances, hinder or prevent the passage of the wounded or others patients trying to leave Gaza. Finally, it is vital that the United States suspend the transfer of weapons to Israel immediately and conduct an investigation into whether U.S. weapons were used to commit human rights abuses. Thank you for your consideration of the above concerns and recommendations.SincerelyMares Hirchert2641 Sun Terrace DriveHartland, MI 48353-2943

Rogers Blames Detroit for Auto Loan Failure

Mike "I'll fight for Michigan jobs" Rogers is blaming Detroit automakers for the failure of a loan to the auto industry.

That's right. The same Rogers who won re-election to Michigan's 8th Congressional District seat by promising to fight for Michigan jobs. This fighter-for-jobs is not blaming the Republicans in the U.S. Senate who threatened a filibuster against the $25 billion loan package that General Motors and Chrysler said they needed to stay afloat.

No, Rogers is blaming his own fellow Michiganders.

In a story on the area's 2008 economy in the Livingston Press and Argus for Saturday (January 2, 2009), Rogers is quoted as saying about the Congressional hearings on the matter:

"'The Big Three showed up here with a lot of pomp and arrogance and circumstance,' said U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton. 'It almost cost us the deal.'"

Those were the hearings in which auto industry CEOs were subjected to much tougher scrutiny than were financial industry CEOs, who took their bailout funds and then went to spas in California, gave bonuses to executives, and stopped making loans.

What exactly does Rogers mean that the auto CEOs "almost cost us the deal"? There was no deal from Congress because Rogers' fellow Republicans in the Senate killed it. Lame duck George Bush had to limp in at the last minute and make a loan from the bank bailout appropriated earlier.

And what exactly was Rogers doing to make the deal happen anyway? He had to be forced to take a position on the loan in the first place, lamely claiming that he didn't know the details when constituents began calling for his position.

Michigan residents have enough Republicans from other states blaming us for suffering the effects of the recession. We don't need our own congressman picking on us, too.

Boycott Alabama Plan Works--Utah Beats Alabama

My scheme to pull for Utah against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl was a smashing success.

The Utes took all the sweetness out of the bowl game for Alabama by creaming them Friday (January 2, 2009). The game was over before Nick Saban got his earphones tuned to the right frequency. And I didn't even have to paint my face red and white to help out the Utes.

I certainly hope Sen. Richard Shelby was there to watch the Crimson Tide get rolled back.

After all the unnecessary angst he caused the families of autoworkers last month with his opposition to a loan to the audo industry, Shelby deserves to have a little rain fall on his parade.

Friday, January 2, 2009

They Can't Stop Talking About Health Care

The discussion on health care that the Obama Transition Team called for around the country has started a conversation that is continuing long after the meetings themselves ended.

My email box has been the recipient of numerous emails from people who couldn't make any of the events in Livingston County, Michigan, but who still wanted to share their stories and concerns.

From a lawyer came a comment about medical malpractice and how to prevent it. He noted that hospitals where doctors are employees, malpractice is much less frequent.
"With physicians being employees, there is far better organization and business and quality decisions can be better made and enforced," he noted.

A woman who has been laid off twice this year learned her coverage will run out on February 19 and that it would cost her $1,0005 a month for her family to pay for it herself. "Needless to say unemployment benefits will not even begin to cover a thousand dollars a month. So I think we will be joining the ranks of the uninsured.
Anything President Obama can do will be an improvement over this," she wrote.

Another woman wrote that the quality of care too often is sacrificed for profit as insurance company rules aimed at cutting costs handicap doctors. And she worried that doctors over-prescribe medications because of kickbacks they receive from pharmaceutical companies.

What has been interesting about the emails is that these came not from activists but from people whose names I don't recognize and who felt very strongly about the issue. They wanted to contribute their two-cents but for one reason or another they couldn't make the meeting.

Clearly, the Obama Transition Team tapped in to something very emotional, very important, for millions of Americans.

We need to help them answer people's prayers.