Sunday, March 28, 2010

Thank You Democrats

Good to see taxes are healing peopleMarch 28, 2010 I'm disappointed that 8th Congressional District Rep. Mike Rogers voted against health-care reform. His ideology of treating health care as a business instead of a right is consistent with his business mentality. He reported on the Iraq war the same way, commenting that the war was going well because business was good when he visited there.I feel better today living in America because of the courage of the 219 Democrats who voted to use their political capital to bring health care rather than warfare to our country. We've spent over $737 billion in the last nine years killing/hurting people. It feels good to finally see our taxes go to healing and helping people.My thanks to the 219 who voted March 21 to pass this historic legislation that will start our country on the path to joining the other industrialized nations who provide universal health care coverage to their citizens.Thirty-two million is a good beginning. I hope the Republicans and independents will work with the Democrats to eventually pass legislation to cover everyone.Mares HirchertHartland Township

Friday, March 26, 2010

Pres Obama needs to stand up for US Troops

Bibi's Hollow Victory - by Pat Buchanan, March 26, 2010"The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago, and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital."

With this defiant declaration, to a thunderous ovation at AIPAC, Benjamin Netanyahu informed the United States that East Jerusalem, taken from Jordan in the Six Day War, is not occupied land. It is Israeli land and Israel's forever, and no Palestinian state will share Jerusalem. Israel alone decides what is built, and where, in the Holy City.

With his declaration and refusal to walk back the decision to build 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem, which blew up the Biden mission, "Bibi" goes home a winner over Barack Obama.

But it is a temporary triumph and hollow victory -- over Israel's indispensable ally. For the clash revealed that the perceived vital interests of Israel now collide with vital U.S. interest in the Middle East.

We have clarity. There is now visible daylight between U.S. and Israeli policy for all the world to see. And America cannot back down without eviscerating her credibility in the Arab and Muslim world

What are the major points of contention?

To Netanyahu, withdrawal from Gaza was a strategic blunder that led to a Hamas takeover and rockets on Israel. That blunder will not be repeated with the West Bank. Israel had a hellish time forcing 8,000 Jews to leave Gaza and will not force 250,000 Jews to leave ancestral lands on the West Bank to create a Palestinian state where the possibility will always exist that Hamas will win at the ballot box and become the government. As for Jerusalem, its city limits are now Israel's permanent borders. Annexation is irreversible.

The American position?

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is occupied territory. Building there violates international law. Peace requires a sharing of Jerusalem, return of almost all of the West Bank and withdrawal of the Jewish settlers. And any land annexed by Israel must be compensated for with Israeli land ceded to the Palestinians.

That the U.S. position is not anti-Israel is attested to by the fact that Prime Ministers Ehud Barack and Ehud Olmert came close to a peace with the Palestinians based on these principles.

Netanyahu, however, does not accept them. For he won office denouncing them, and in his ruling coalition are parties that not only opposed withdrawal from Gaza, they oppose a Palestinian state.

Given the irreconcilable positions, the deadlock, why will Israel not prevail as she always prevails in such collisions? Why would Bibi's "No" to Obama's demand for a halt to the building of settlements and a cancellation of the 1,600 housing units in Jerusalem not be the final and irrevocable answer that Obama must grudgingly accept?

Answer: There is a new party to the quarrel: the U.S. military, in the person of Gen. David Petraeus.

According to Foreign Policy magazine, in January, a delegation of senior officers from Petraeus' command were sent to brief Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen.

"The briefers reported that there was a growing perception among Arab leaders that the U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel, that CentCom's mostly Arab constituency was losing faith in American promises, that Israel's intransigence on the Arab-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region, and that (George) Mitchell himself was ... 'too old, too slow and too late.'"

Mullen took this stark message -- that America was seen as too weak to stand up to Israel, and the U.S. military posture was eroding in the Arab world as a result -- straight to the White House. Hence, when Joe Biden was sandbagged in Israel, he apparently tore into Bibi in private.

"This is starting to get dangerous for us," Biden reportedly told Netanyahu. "What you're doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Yedioth Ahronoth further reported: "The vice president told his Israeli hosts that since many people in the Muslim world perceived a connection between Israel's actions and U.S. policy, any decision about construction that undermines Palestinian rights in East Jerusalem could have an impact on the personal safety of American troops."

Biden was saying Israeli intransigence could cost American lives.

Each new report of settlement expansion, each new seizure of Palestinian property, each new West Bank clash between Palestinians and Israeli troops
inflames the Arab street, humiliates our Arab allies, exposes America as a weakling that cannot stand up to Israel, and imperils our troops and their mission in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As this message has now been delivered by Gen. Petraeus to his commander in chief, Obama simply cannot back down again. If he does not stand up now for U.S. interests, which are being imperiled by Israeli actions, he will lose the backing of his soldiers.
U.S.-Israeli relations are approaching a "Whose side are you on?" moment. Either Bibi backs down this time -- or Obama loses his soldiers.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

130 Student Kindergarten in Al Aqaba, still no valid building permit issued!

No kindergarten, but 1,600 homes?March 25, 2010 In the March 15 article “Israeli leader regrets U.S. flap,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he told his Cabinet that he was sorry about the diplomatic fiasco with the United States. What he did not say is that he is sorry that his government is planning on building 1,600 homes for Israelis in eastern Jerusalem, which is against international law.The Palestinian town of Al Aqaba in the West Bank has a 130-student kindergarten with demolition orders against it. The Israeli Supreme Court ruled in April 2008 that it could not lift the demolition orders due to the lack of a valid building permit. Through The Rebuilding Alliance,, we have been trying to get a valid building permit ever since. The United States needs to stop sending $3 billion of our tax dollars each year to the Israeli government. Maybe then, the Israeli government will realize that there won’t be peace or security for any of the area’s children until they treat all the area’s children equally. Why can’t this kindergarten have one building permit if the Israeli government is giving out 1,600 illegal ones?Mares and Chuck HirchertHartland Township

Published in the Livingston Cty Press & Argus, March 25, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cox Fighting for Insurance Companies -- Not You

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox is charged with consumer protection. Instead, he's using his office for insurance company protection -- and to try to promote his own political future.

Cox's decision to go to court to try to block the health care reform measure is designed to get him all kinds of publicity during his campaign for the Republican nomination for governor. It's not about you. It's not about the constitution. It's about him.

Instead of protecting consumers, Cox will punish them.

This is what Cox wants to do:

Deny health care coverage to sick kids.

Block health care coverage through high-risk pools for people of all ages who are sick.

Let insurance companies drop you if you get sick or file too many claims or your care costs too much.

Take away coverage of young adults instead of allowing them to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26.

Take away help for senior citizens who fall into the Medicare prescription drug donut hole coverage gap.

Deny preventive health care such as annual physicals without co-pays and deductibles.

Block tax credits for small businesses equal to 35 percent of the cost of insuring their employees.

If you'd like to let Cox know how you feel, call his office at (517) 373-1110. Ask him to represent you, not himself.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Does Wall Street Think It's Socialism?

If the historic health care measure passed by the House and signed by President Obama (with a "fix-it" bill soon to follow) is truly a government take-over of health insurance, if it truly is socialism, if it truly is communism, then why is it stock prices went UP Monday (March 22, 2010) on the strength of increases in health-related stocks?

One would think that all those great minds in the Republican Party who are supposed to understand the business world so much better than the rest of us could explain this to us.

But they haven't mentioned it. Not even Michael (It's Armageddon!) Steele.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Congratulations to Dedicated Supporters of Health Care

Congratulations to all those who stayed the course and worked for health care reform even though it wasn't exactly what you wanted passed. Today I am ethusiastic about living in America-we are making the first steps in joining the other industrialized countries that have universal health care coverage for their citizens. I am proud of the 219 Democratic members of the House who voted for this measure that will benefit 32 million more of our fellow Americans who currently don't have any health insurance. We've spent almost 737 Billion dollars on WAR in the last 9 years, today I'm grateful to be spending on bringing HEALING and HEALTH to our country. I'm proud that the Democrats got it done, I wish the Republicans and Independents had joined them. Going forward I hope that Congress will work together to bring universal health care to our country-that would bring the best security to families who deal with sickness and suffering daily.

Whose Waterloo Is It?

President Obama and the Democratically-led Congress have just scored a historic legislative victory. And Republicans think they've got them right where they want them.

Not so fast, says one Republican strategist -- David Frum, former speech writer for George W. Bush, whose comments were highlighted on Huffington Post.

It is likely the Republicans who have met their Waterloo. By refusing to negotiate, the Republicans shut themselves out of having any input into the legislation at all. Like all health care legislation before it, the measure will provide popular with the public. And any idea of repealing it is a mirage, Frum says.

"No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the 'doughnut hole' and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage? And even if the votes were there – would President Obama sign such a repeal?

"We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat."

Frum points the finger at right-wing radio and TV hosts for stirring up hysteria among the base for their own financial gain.

"Talk radio thrives on confrontation and recrimination. When Rush Limbaugh said that he wanted President Obama to fail, he was intelligently explaining his own interests. What he omitted to say – but what is equally true – is that he also wants Republicans to fail. If Republicans succeed – if they govern successfully in office and negotiate attractive compromises out of office – Rush’s listeners get less angry. And if they are less angry, they listen to the radio less, and hear fewer ads for Sleepnumber beds," Frum wrote.

"...For the cause they purport to represent, it’s Waterloo all right: ours."

Bet he won't be invited to many Lincoln Day dinners.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Why Hasn't Rogers Condemned Tea-Bagger Abuse?

Anybody heard Mike Rogers condemn the tea-baggers use of abuse racial and homophobic epithets against members of Congress on Saturday (March 20, 2010)? Anybody heard our 8th District member of Congress chastise the tea-bagger who had to be forcibly removed from the House chambers on Sunday (March 21, 2010)?

My email in-box regularly shows a Rogers email full of lies about the health care reform bill. If he was upset by any of these tactics, I would have expected to receive an email from him by now.

But there's nothing. The party of No can say No to everything except racism and homophobia.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Was Rogers Hiding from the Public?

Either Rep. Mike Rogers is taking a lot of heat for his opposition to the health care reform bill. Or he is so afraid of his constituents that he refused to answer the phone.

Rogers' Washington, D.C., office line was busy all day Friday.

And why shouldn't people in the 8th District be upset with Rogers? After all, the bill only helps 150,000 families and 15,100 small businesses in the district with tax credits and other help affording insurance.

It also closes the prescription drug donut hole for 90,000 senior citizens.

And it provides health insurance coverage to 20,000 people who don't have it now -- people who are clogging our emergency rooms and seeking expensive health care that hospitals are never reimbursed for.

And it allows 63,000 young adults get health insurance coverage, allowing them to stay on their parents' insurance plans until age 26.

And it provides $29 million to area hospitals for care they give to the needy, costs that the hospitals have had to pass on to other people.

It does all that, while cutting the budget deficit $1.3 trillion over the next 20 years.

No wonder people were jamming Rogers' phone lines.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mike Rogers Sounding Desperate on Health Care Bill

Rep. Mike Rogers' interview in the Livingston Press and Argus is a low-point, even for him. He piles one lie on top of another to justify voting for big insurance companies and against his own constituents, and then tops it off with a stunning who-gives-a-damn-about-anybody-else statement.

The whole performance has a desperate-sounding tone, as if he knows that once health care reform passes, he is going to have to explain voting against his own district's best interests.

Rogers lies when he says the bill will cut Medicare. He knows its only the private Medicare Advantage programs, that are exorbitantly wasteful, that are being cut. He knows that in fact seniors will receive a big bonus when the Medicare prescription drug donut hole is closed by the bill.

Rogers lies when he says small businesses will face heavy taxes, when it fact the bill includes subsidies for small businesses -- including more than 15,100 in his district alone.

Rogers lies when he says the bill is too expensive. It actually cuts the deficit -- by $1.3 trillion over the next 20 years. And cutting the deficit is something that Rogers and the Republicans never managed to do, not once, when they were in power under George Bush.

Rogers lies when he says some states get special deals in the bill, when he knows those are being stripped out.

Rogers lies when he says letting small businesses join "pools" would be a better alternative, when he knows that the bill's exchanges will create far bigger pools and thus greater savings than any group of small businesses could achieve on their own.

But Rogers is downright stupid when he says, "I don't really care about the other 49 states when people are losing their homes in the state of Michigan." Apparently, he doesn't understand that the reason people are losing their homes here is that people in the other 49 states aren't buying cars and other products Michigan sells. Is he really so stupid that he doesn't understand that Michigan needs a healthy American economy to thrive?

I'm used to lies from Mike Rogers. But the stupidity is breath-taking.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Law-Abiding No Longer Fits with Conservatives

Remember when "law-abiding" was something conservatives prided themselves on? When they screamed at anti-war protesters for disrespecting the government? When their cars sported bumper stickers reading, "America -- Love It Or Leave It?" When they railed about the necessity to apply "the rule of law" to President Clinton?

Well, those days are long gone, along with bell bottoms and tie-dyed t-shirts.

Now, conservatives are all about attacking our government, advocating violence against it, and encouraging people to ignore laws.

For example, Michelle Bachmann has urged people not to fill out the 2010 census, despite the fact that filling out the forms is required by law. Republicans have tried to cool her off on that because it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that if people in GOP-dominated districts fail to fill out the forms, they will be underrepresented compared to Democrats when the new district lines are drawn in 2011. But after all Bachmann's campaigning, it will be hard to get that genie back into the bottle.

More recently, Bachmann said people don't have to pay taxes or obey the health care reform bill if it passes because a handful of people in Washington D.C., can't impose their will on the American people. In other words, the U.S. government and the constitution are illegitimate.

Then there is Rep. Steven King of Iowa who called for overthrowing the government of the United States in a speech to a tiny tea-bagger crowd.

Some conservatives are hailing violence against the government -- like those who call Joe Stack a hero for killing an IRS employee when he flew his plane into an IRS office building. A couple Republicans even voted against a resolution condemning the attack. And messages of support for the terrorist-pilot have poured in in the wake of the attack.

But Rep. Steven King went even farther -- encouraging conservatives to "implode" IRS offices.

King and Bachmann aren't part of the lunatic fringe in this country. They are elected officials who are part of what used to be considered the "loyal opposition" -- the out-of-power party in a democracy. But now, they are not so loyal.

Passion certainly has a place in politics. But politicians play with fire when they undermine the legitimacy of government. Consensus about the legitimacy of government is a fragile thing and when it's gone, it's hard to get back.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

More Bad News for Critics of Movie Tax Breaks

The Detroit Free Press Wednesday (March 17, 2010) had some bad news for the critics of Michigan's film industry tax breaks.

Another film studio is starting up in Detroit -- this one bringing 413 jobs to Ford Field.

This is bad news because it is something Gov. Jennifer Granholm has created by sticking with the tax credits. No matter how many jobs are created, Republicans will attack, attack, attack.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions against Israeli Occupation

U.S./Top News1) The Petraeus briefing: Biden's embarrassment is not the whole storyMark Perry, Foreign Policy, Saturday, March 13, 2010 - 11:05 PM

The US is giving 3 billion dollars a year to the 4th largest military in the world-Israel. Israel is now arresting peaceful, non-violent protesters against the illegal wall and illegal settlements in Palestine. The PR coming from the Israeli Gov't's think tank is to discredit human rights activists and peace advocates. There apparently is a connection to Christian Zionism due to Glen Beck's recent directive to leave Christian Churches if they advocate for "social justice."

American values of fairness, human rights, justice, equality under the law, and free speech are not being respected by Israel nor Glen Beck. Let's stop paying Israel for this type of treatment and if you currently listen to Glen Beck, give him your opinion of his latest rant.

More of that Nasty Stimulus Money Coming to Livingston County

Our local lawmaker voted against it -- twice.

But the Livingston County Commission has its hands out for some of that stimulus money that Rep. Mike Rogers tried to stop.

WHMI reported March 11 that the county commission passed a resolution authorizing the county to issue up to $40 million in bonds for municipal, commercial, and industrial projects. The federal government will pay up to 45 percent of the interest on the bonds. About $15 million will be set aside for municipal projects including road and sewer work, while the balance will be preserved for private sector projects.

Why are the Republicans on the Livingston County Commission voting to take stimulus funds if their party opposes the stimulus package? Isn't that just a little dishonest?

Of course, Rogers himself has been more than a little hypocritical on the subject himself. After voting against the stimulus package twice, he signed a letter to Ed Montgomery, director of Recovery of Auto Workers and Communities, saying that stimulus bill provisions expanding employment insurance, health care, training, weatherization, and education were "important first steps for individuals and their families."

A first step that Mike Rogers didn't want them to have.

Just like he didn't want Livingston County to have the $40 million in bonds our local Republican leaders are snatching up.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Kande Rocks!

Kande Ngalamulume rocks!

The East Lansing Democrat seeking to challenge Rep. Mike Rogers now has a sort of unofficial campaign song. You can sing it to the tune of "I want Candy" (even though Kande pronounces his first name KON dee.)

"I know a guy who's tough but neat
He's so fine, he can't be beat
He's got everything that I desire
Sets the campaign trail on fire

"I want Kande, I want Kande

"Not a special interest tool
Kande wants us in the health care pool
You're my guy, just what the doctor ordered
Fight the incumbent, take no quarter!

"I want Kande, I want Kande

"Don't need a Rep. who lives on K Street
We need someone to turn up the heat
Lookin' for a guy who doesn't mind fight'n
Send Mike Rogers back to Brighton!

"I want Kande, I want Kande
I want Kande, I want Kande"

When it comes to an 8th District candidate who can beat Mike Rogers -- that's what we're talking about!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How to Take Part in Historic Democratic Convention

The jobs of Michigan Secretary of State and Attorney General are vitally important for the state's residents.

Yes, the state's residents renew their drivers' licenses and get their license tabs from the secretary of state's office. But the office also makes sure that elections are carried out properly in the state. And that's crucial if a democracy is to live up to its name.

And the attorney general fights crime, and that's important. But used properly, the office can also be an advocate for consumers against corporations and can protect Michigan's precious environmental resources.

But too often, the election contests for these posts can short shrift in Michigan. Under state law, the major parties cannot nominate their candidates for these offices until late August. That leaves the candidates only a few months to try to put together statewide campaigns and visit as many of the state's 83 counties as they can.

But this year, the Michigan Democratic Party will try to heighten the visibility of these races by holding a special convention April 17 to endorse candidates for attorney general and secretary of state. The endorsed candidates will then be officially nominated in August, in keeping with state law, but they will have and extra four months to criss-cross the state and talk to voters about the importance of these jobs.

The candidates for secretary of state contending for the endorsement are Wayne State University law professor Jocelyn Benson and Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey. Seeking the attorney general endorsement are Farmington Hills attorney Richard Bernstein and Genesee County prosecutor David Leyton.

You can have a say in which candidates are endorsed at the April 17 convention if you are a party member by March 19. Memberships cost as little as $10 for retirees and students or $20 for others. Forms are available here.

The convention will be your chance to hear all the candidates in person and then voice your preference. Don't miss out on democracy in action!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Mike Rogers' Worst Nightmare May Come True in 2010

The last thing Michigan's 8th District Republican Rep. Mike Rogers wants this year is a strong Democrat to run against him. After all, Rogers wants to be free to run around the country and help elect other Republicans to Congress, rather than bother having to explain to the citizens of this area why he deserves to be sent back to Congress for another term.

But a vigorous Democrat with strong, appealing credentials already has appeared -- Kande Ngalamulume. Kande, who grew up in East Lansing, is young and energetic. With a background in business and financial services, Kande also has a strong commitment to public service. He has tutored children in reading and writing, mentored young orphans, and volunteered at church camps.

Kande has put continued economic growth at the top of his agenda. Financial reform -- pushing bailed-out banks to begin lending again, protecting families from foreclosure, and reforming regulation of the financial sector to prevent reckless behavior by banks -- is part of the answer Kande offers.

In the short term, Kande also calls for more federal investment in Michigan's infrastructure to create jobs. In the long run, Kande wants Congress to institute "pay as you go" budgeting.

Kande says he got interested in politics when he realized how many students from his high school graduating class had left Michigan for jobs. He wants that to stop.

So do we all.

Monday, March 1, 2010

John Dingell Still Inspires on Health Care Reform

John Dingell has been working for health care reform longer than just about anybody else in America. Despite all the setbacks of the last year, he is still out there fighting.

That was obvious on Saturday (February 27, 2010) at the Michigan Democratic Party State Central Committee meeting in Livonia. Congressman Dingell brought people to their feet with a stirring call for reforming a system that is both the most expensive in the world and ineffective.

He laid out the case for reform: Health insurance premiums now average $25,000 a year for American families. They have doubled in the last 10 years and are expected to double again in the next 10 years. Yet we still rank 19th in the world in infant mortality. The number of people without insurance is at 47 million and growing.

Dingell admitted the bill doesn't do everything he would like. It doesn't even do everything Teddy Roosevelt wanted. Teddy Roosevelt pushed for national health care in 1912. That's TEDDY Roosevelt.

But Dingell said it does a lot of good things -- extending the solvency of the Medicare trust fund for nine years, ending discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions, ending the ability of insurance companies to just cut off your coverage even as you are being wheeled into the operating room, expanding coverage to 31 million people, and ending the extravagant subsidies to the private Medicare Advantage programs.

Dingell says it's time to end Republican obstructionism in the Senate, where he said Republicans "vote No on everything from the prayer to the motion to adjourn."

The rules of the Senate, he said, shuold not "deny the American people the right to have a simple majority vote on one of the most pressing issues of our time."

Amen to that.