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Friday, December 14, 2012


Michigan's New Corporate Servitude Law: It Takes Away Worker Rights


Posted: 12/13/2012 9:00 am Huffington Post
Michigan has just passed a corporate servitude law. It is designed to take away many of the worker rights that unions have conferred throughout their history: the right to a living wage. The right to equal pay for women. The right to deferred payments in the form of pensions. The right to negotiate workplace standards and working conditions. The right to overtime pay.
 
The law is intended to destroy unions, or at least make then ineffective. It says simply that workers do not have to pay union dues to take a job -- even if they get benefits previously negotiated by a union. Most workers who don't have to pay dues won't pay, and that will defund the unions, killing them and taking away rights unions have fought hard for over generations. Without workers negotiating as a unified group, corporations will not have to grant those union-created rights. Corporations will have take-it-or-leave-it power over individual workers. In short, this is corporate servitude: You do what you are told and take what you are offered.
 
The deeper truth about unions is that they don't just create and maintain rights for workers; they work for and create crucial rights in society as a whole. Unions created weekends, the eight-hour workday and health benefits. And through their politics, they have been at the center of support for civil rights and other social justice issues. In short, unions don't just work for their members. They work for all of us. Including businesses: Workers are profit creators.
 
Since Democratic candidates tend to support the same progressive views, defunding unions would take away their power to campaign for Democratic candidates. The new Michigan law is thus also a partisan law supporting the Republican party.
 
Language matters. Republicans understand this better than Democrats. Republicans have called their corporate servitude law a "right to work" law, as if the law conferred a right instead of taking many away. The first principle of political and social communication in cases of conflict is: avoid the other side's language. The Democrats keep violating this principle, using the Republicans' name for this law. In this way they are helping Republicans, because using the Republican language activates Republican framing, not just for this law, but for conservative ideology at the deepest level.
 
Progressives and conservatives have opposing views of democracy. For progressives, democracy is based on citizens caring about each other and acting responsibly on that care, with both individual and social responsibility, to provide through the government protection and empowerment for all. Government thus becomes a means by which citizens pay for public provisions to benefit all: public infrastructure (roads, bridges, hospitals, public buildings), public education, public health and safety (clean air, clean water, safe food, disease protection), a patent office to protection innovations, a justice system, and networks for energy, communication, and transportation. Without all these public provisions, we are not free: Business cannot thrive (if it can operate at all) and we cannot live decent, civilized private lives. It is a deep truth about our democracy: our freedom depends on such public provisions and the private depends on the public. Unions both defend these freedoms and add to them the worker rights unions have created.
 
Conservatives don't accept this truth, if they perceive it at all. They tend to see democracy as providing "liberty" -- the liberty to pursue one's own interests and well-being through personal responsibility, without being responsible for the interests or well-being of others and without others being responsible for them.
From this conservative perspective, businessmen should have the liberty to run their businesses as they please to maximize their profit, and workers should rely on only their personal responsibility to get and keep a job. Unions, for conservatives, thus violate (1) the liberty of business owners to offer workers what is most profitable for the business, (2) the personal responsibility of workers, and (3) the liberty conservatives think workers should have to work without paying union dues.
 
From the progressive perspective, the new Michigan law is a corporate servitude law, while from the conservative perspective, the law is a "right to work" law.
Language works so that the conservative name "right to work" evokes the conservative political ideology in the brains of those who hear it without wincing. The more an idea is activated in the brain the stronger it gets. Thus, the use of the conservative name strengthens the conservative ideology in the brains of the public.
 
The press is not being neutral in using the Republican name for the law. Journalists too, in just using the name, are supporting both the Republican framing of the law and conservative ideology. The press is not being balanced -- which is what journalists typically claim to be. Balance would be to use both the names "corporate servitude law" and "right to work law" and to explain the differences in the progressive and conservative understanding of what the law is and does.
 
Of course, to do so would change a false view of language that journalists too often internalize, namely, that language is neutral. To see that it isn't, just try speaking or writing of "Michigan's corporate servitude law" and listen to conservatives scream bloody murder over a truth that does fit their view of democracy. And listen to them keep screaming because it is important to keep repeating the true name of the law if the public is to understand what the law really does.
George Lakoff is Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author, with Elisabeth Wehling, of The Little Blue Book: How to Think and Talk Democratic.

Monday, December 3, 2012

February School election - Critically Important

Millage needs to pass for Alcona Schools

November 26, 2012
Andrew Westrope - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News
Alpena-Montmorency-Alcona Educational School District's proposed regional enhancement millage was the topic of the Alcona school board's work session meeting on Monday, at which Thornton laid out the stakes of the pending millage election. On Feb. 26, 2013, voters of Alpena, Alcona, and Montmorency counties will decide whether to give AMA ESD three mills ($3 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for 10 years, from 2013-22, to compensate for recent state cuts in education funding that have put AMA's constituent districts in dire financial straights. AMA would not keep any of the funds but would distribute the total among Alpena, Alcona, Atlanta and Hillman based on student population.
Thornton said Alcona schools' annual revenue declined by about $1.834 million from 2004 to 2012, partially due to a 24 percent reduction in enrollment during that period but aggravated by the fact minor revenue increases have not kept pace with expense increases. Since 2004, the school has cut teaching and support staff nearly in half, leaving only a single custodian in the entire district, and eliminated band, choir, the district's middle school, its guidance counselor, almost all elective courses, paid field trips, at-risk student support, its police liaison, district-operated food service, its media specialist, dozens of other clubs and positions, and bus routes to an extant that has made the average one-way bus ride two hours long.
Thornton said she believes the school has done an "outstanding" job under the circumstances, but she and the board supported AMA's proposal for a millage election because AMA is the only entity that can legally hold one, and because it is the only viable option left to them.
"It's not that we have not been, as a district, responsive to declining enrollment. We were ... aware of the fact that we were going to experience declining enrollment, and we planned for that. It's all the other stuff on top of that that has been absolutely financially crippling to the district," she said. "We will go into deficit at some point unless I cut things, and quite frankly, when I look around, I am a little flabbergasted about what would be next."
The school's auditor recommended maintaining a fund equity equal to at least one month of operating expenses, or about $738,000. Maintaining its current level of services, revenue, and expenses; and accounting for an allegedly optimistic $220,000 carryover from the previous year; the school would see its fund balance drop to about $13,200 in the 2013-14 school year, a fraction of a single day's operating expenses. Thornton said the enhancement millage would generate about $780,000 for the school preventing it from falling into deficit and possibly allowing it to restore programs that have been cut. If the millage fails, the school would need to cut about $600,000 more from its budget to approach a safe fund balance.
"This enhancement millage is not a windfall for our district," she said. "This enhancement millage is necessary for our district, for us to even be able to stay where we are and continue to provide quality education."
Steering committee members Bob Petrovich and Robyn Hart said they would attempt to inform the public about the millage over the next few months.
Andrew Westrope can be reached via e-mail at awestrope@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693.

Mich. Senate Bill 975 would allow doctors to refuse care

 
Michigan's Senate has a variety of topics before it.
Medical providers would be able to refuse care to patients care based on their religious beliefs - under a bill before the state Senate.
Emily Dievendorf is with the gay rights group Equality Michigan. She says Senate Bill 975 would sanction discrimination. "Under this bill, a doctor in a public hospital could refuse, because of religious beliefs, to provide health services to anybody seeking medical care based on any kind of arbitrary criteria that he feels can be supported by his or her strongly held religious belief or moral conviction. "


Critics of the bill are worried it could get pushed through in the end-of-the-year "lame duck" session.
They say the bill would also protect against civil, criminal, and administrative liability and action.
But the bill's sponsor, Senator John Moolenaar says it would all be transparent to a patient. "The goal is to try and encourage those kind of conversations, and a conflict resolution mechanism in place, preemptively, so that the patient enjoys the best possible medical care."

Moolenaar also noted that if there were an emergency – patient care would be first priority.

- Chris Zollars, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Senator Stabenow re : Medicare & Medicaid ...

United States Senator Debbie Stabenow - Michigan

November 27, 2012
Gary D. Horn
PO Box 328
Lincoln, MI 48742
Dear Gary,
Thank you for contacting me about making changes to Medicare and Medicaid. I understand your views.
Since the enactment of Medicare in 1965, America's seniors have been guaranteed affordable, comprehensive health insurance when they retire. The budget passed by the House of Representatives would end Medicare as we know it and throw seniors into the private market, putting insurance company bureaucrats between seniors and their doctors. Benefits would be cut and seniors' out-of-pocket costs would double. When this proposal came before the Senate it was defeated by a vote of 40-57.
Instead of ending Medicare, we should look at common-sense ways to save taxpayers and seniors money. It is actually illegal for Medicare to use its buying power to get the best prices on prescription drugs, which results in taxpayers spending billions of dollars more than they should on medicines. I support legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies to get lower prices for seniors, strengthening Medicare for years to come.
The House of Representatives budget would also cut Medicaid. I am committed to protecting and strengthening Medicaid by cutting waste, fraud and abuse-not by cutting health benefits for seniors and kids. As Congress continues to work on the federal budget, I will keep your views in mind.
Thank you again for contacting me. Please continue to keep me informed about issues of concern to you and your family.
Sincerely,

Debbie Stabenow
United States Senator
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow
The United States Senate• Washington, DC 20510
stabenow.senate.gov

Monday, November 26, 2012

15 topics to watch during the Michigan Legislature's 'lame duck' session - from unions to abortion to personal property taxes

By Tim Martin | tmartin4@mlive.com
on November 26, 2012 at 6:50 AM
 
 
  housefloor (26).jpg
 
The Legislature's "lame duck" session should begin to heat up this week.
LANSING, MI - At least in theory, there’s no need for the Michigan Legislature to cram too many weighty issues into its so-called “lame duck” session – which begins in earnest this week.
Republicans will maintain majorities in both the House and Senate when the 2013-14 Legislature convenes in January. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder will still be in office. Issues that aren’t resolved by the end of this year can be resurrected later with many of the same key players involved.
But “lame duck” sometimes takes on a life of its own as lawmakers push for their priority projects. That makes it difficult to pinpoint exactly what lawmakers will – and won’t – accomplish over the next few weeks.
Lawmakers are likely to pass dozens of bills between now and the end of the year. Here are 15 topics bound to at least be discussed at the state Capitol over the next few weeks:
Right to work: How deep will Michigan lawmakers dive into this politically charged labor relations issue? Republican leaders say a discussion about right-to-work is likely over the next few weeks. But that doesn’t necessarily mean action on any specific proposal is forthcoming – particularly since Snyder has repeatedly said right-to-work isn’t on his agenda. Right-to-work laws prohibit labor contracts that require workers to pay union dues. Indiana’s move to become the nation’s 23rd right-to-work state has intensified the debate in Michigan. So has union-backed Proposal 2, which would have guaranteed collective bargaining rights in the state constitution and short-circuited a right-to-work movement. Voters rejected Proposal 2 in this month's election. Supporters will continue to push for right-to-work, but it's difficult to tell how much attention the issue might get during lame duck.
Emergency manager law: Voters also rejected Proposal 1, which means Public Act 4 of 2011 is repealed. That leaves lawmakers wondering if they should pass a different measure aimed at giving emergency managers more powers to fix the financially troubled cities and schools they’re appointed to run. It’s a tricky balance. Lawmakers say they don’t want to be seen as trying to override a vote of the people. But while Public Act 4 may be gone, the financially troubled cities and schools that sparked its passage remain. It will at least be a significant discussion item – and possibly an action item -- during lame duck.
Personal property tax: Phasing out or eliminating the tax paid by businesses on some types of equipment is a priority for many Republicans. But they’ll have to reach agreement on how to replace revenue that would be lost to some local governments and schools relying on the money. Supporters say shedding the personal property tax could spark more business investment in Michigan.
Abortion: Remember “Vaginagate” and protests at the state Capitol after the Michigan House passed a sweeping proposal that would add regulatory and insurance requirements for some facilities that perform abortions? House Bill 5711 is likely to be taken up in the Senate sometime in the next few weeks. The bill also would enact screening requirements aimed at making sure women aren’t forced into having abortions, among other provisions. Critics say they think the goal of the legislation is to make abortions more difficult to get and more expensive by forcing some abortion providers out of business. Supporters of the measure say it seeks to improve safety for women.
Medical marijuana: Attorney General Bill Schuette says the state’s voter-approved law allowing marijuana use for medical purposes has “more holes than Swiss cheese” – and the Legislature is likely to try and plug some of them. One bill would more strictly define the relationship needed between a doctor and a patient in cases where medical marijuana is recommended. Another would allow law enforcement officers or other officials to access medical marijuana patient information. Critics are worried the legislation may go too far and unjustifiably limit access to pot.
Health care: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan – the state’s largest health insurance provider with more than 4.4 million Michigan subscribers -- has long played a unique role in the state’s health care system. A plan pending in the Legislature would transition Blue Cross into a nonprofit mutual insurance company and make multiple changes. Also: How will federal health care reform or “Obamacare” factor into Michigan’s decisions? Republicans aren’t happy that Obamacare remains on the books, but they may have to figure out what to do about an online health insurance exchange and Medicaid coverage anyway.
Auto insurance: Michigan requires drivers to carry no-fault insurance and is the only state in the nation that provides unlimited lifetime medical care for auto-related injuries. Some lawmakers say that makes Michigan’s auto insurance rates too expensive and makes the funding system unsustainable. Legislation is pending that would allow motorists to buy potentially less expensive insurance in exchange for limited personal injury protection coverage. Critics say motorists opting for less coverage could wind up underinsured and in big financial trouble if they are seriously injured in an accident. It’s difficult to tell if lawmakers will come to agreement on the issue during “lame duck.”
K-12 education: Snyder wants to put the Education Achievement Authority into state law so it will be easier to expand it beyond Detroit. Plans call for the district to eventually include the lowest-achieving 5 percent of Michigan public schools. The EAA bill might get some action within the next few weeks. But a broader school choice bill may be more likely to wait until 2013, along with a school finance proposal that is now in draft form.
Cell phones and teen drivers: A measure that would ban cellphone use by novice drivers – those with Level 1 or Level 2 licenses – has passed the Senate and is pending in the House. It’s one of the dozens of items that possibly could be taken up by year’s end, but action is not guaranteed. It would be called Kelsey's Law – named after a 17-year-old who died in a car crash while using her cellphone. The measure is aimed at helping prevent distracted driving.
Juvenile lifers: The U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled that mandatory sentencing of minors to life in prison without the possibility of parole is a form of cruel and unusual punishment that does not take into account a young person's potential for cognitive and character development. So is Michigan going to revamp its laws in response? Cases already are in the state court system as the Legislature ponders the issue. A bipartisan group of state lawmakers has introduced bills seeking to address the retroactivity issue and rewrite state law in anticipation of future cases. But it’s not clear if the issue will be resolved by the end of the year.
Medical malpractice: Personal injury lawyers and their clients contend proposals in the Legislature would make it harder to win medical malpractice cases and make it tougher to hold bad doctors accountable. Bill supporters say the legislation would address inequities in liability statutes and improve access to care by creating a more welcoming environment to help address a looming physician shortage. The bills are likely to get some action in the Senate, but it’s unclear if enough support exists for final legislative passage by the end of the year.
Detroit/southeast Michigan issues: As of August, only about 35,000 of Detroit’s more than 88,000 streetlights actually worked. Legislation aimed at allowing the Motor City to move forward with a plan to improve its streetlight system has stalled in the Senate. Expect attempts to forge a compromise and get the deal done. Also, Snyder is still pushing for a regional transit authority that would serve Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties.
Indigent defense: The House has approved a plan to create a full-time commission tasked with improving the system for providing lawyers to criminal defendants. The legislation’s future in the Senate is unclear. Michigan is just one of seven states where counties are fully responsible for funding indigent defense. The goal of the legislation is to crack down on counties that don’t spend enough on legal assistance for low-income defendants.
Community college degrees: A bill pending in the Legislature would allow community colleges to award four-year degrees with baccalaureate programs in certain fields such as nursing, maritime technology, energy production technology and culinary arts. Final passage of the bill may depend on whether lawmakers are able to work out a compromise palatable to both community colleges and universities.
Wolf hunting: Some farmers and livestock owners in the Upper Peninsula want Michigan to at least consider allowing a limited wolf hunting season now that the animal is no longer classified as an endangered species. But the measure has opposition, and with a crowded lame duck agenda, it could be a longshot to be taken up by the end of the year.
Email Tim Martin at tmartin4@mlive.com. Follow him on Twitter: @TimMartinMI

Friday, November 23, 2012

Republicans say they don't have to change to win -- and they could be right

By Susan J. Demas | Political columnist for MLive.com
on November 22, 2012 at 10:30 AM, updated November 23, 2012 at 12:37 PM

 
The Republican Party doesn't need to moderate. It needs to modernize. That seems to be the lesson most GOPers have learned after their thrashing in the Nov. 6 election.

082211-rick-snyder-taxes.jpgMichigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, second from left, is joined by, from left, House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, announcing the 2011 tax deal./AP file photo
And I think they could be absolutely right.

So do Republicans in Michigan, who are making noises about shoving through in the coming weeks retrograde legislation like Right to Work, school vouchers and tax credits for fetuses (after they axed said tax breaks for children living and breathing outside the womb, like my beautiful, 10-year-old daughter).

Can't make this stuff up.

Yes, I know, the idea that Republicans should hold fast to unpopular ideas but simply sell them better doesn't seem rational after Mitt Romney lost by more than 4 million votes to a very beatable incumbent due to adopting a hard-right, deport-'em'all immigration stance and a plan to voucherize Medicare.

And it doesn't seem reflective after the GOP blew its second shot in a row to flip the U.S. Senate, after nominating Tea Party candidates who declared "legitimate" rape victims can't get pregnant (Todd Akin in Missouri) or if they do, that's a blessing and God's will (Richard Mourdock in Indiana) or what America really needs is a Birther Office to validate candidates' citizenship (Pete Hoekstra in Michigan).

And it doesn't seem strategic after both the Romney and GOP congressional campaigns based their polls and electoral projections on completely false assumptions and data.

I mean, if there's ever a time for soul-searching, it's after you lose winnable elections. But questioning the Republican Party's sharp right turn seems to be verboten for many so-called conservatives in good times and bad.

It's kind of like the right-wing economic theory (which is as sound as creationism, GOP '16 savior Marco Rubio) that taxes can never be raised in good times or bad. Either way, we'll kill the economy. It's a neat party trick -- and sounds eerily as though a smart-ass adolescent had dreamt it up.

But that's why even though we're hurtling toward the fiscal cliff, Grover Norquist is still yanking on Republicans' chains, ordering them not to hike taxes to reduce the deficit -- even though the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts are a big reason why we have said deficit.
But as an increasingly cranky Nolan Finley, who only clings to his statesman image only because he's surrounded by Michigan View blowhards like crayon jockey Henry Payne, writes, there's "no need for the GOP to panic."

Nolan also sniffs right off the bat that Republicans are "getting a lot of advice from those who would never vote for them," which, I guess, is his way of telling us independents that we're not wanted here (which has worked out brilliantly in the last two presidential elections).

So what's Nolan's prescription?

"Republicans do need a tune-up. They have to communicate better with Hispanic voters and other ethnic groups ..."

Ah, yes. Let's just communicate our message better and folks will come around (even though Nolan has already dismissed any input from them in his lead).

Sure, it's selling the same moldy wine in a different bottle. But Republicans are counting on the fact that voters don't have the sophisticated palette to notice.

The problem is, as NBC First Read points out, is Republicans didn't just lose on demographics, but "got crushed on the issues, too." A majority of 60 percent said they support tax increases, whether it's on those making $250,000 or more or on everyone, according to national exit polls. And 59 percent support abortion being legal, while voters by 3 points back gay marriage.

Anyone who's been paying attention in Michigan knows that the agenda of Gov. Rick Snyder and the GOP Legislature has been, well, the exact opposite of that.

Remember Vaginagate, when the GOP House leadership silenced Rep. Lisa Brown for protesting draconian anti-abortion legislation that could result in mothers who miscarried not being able to get a basic D & C procedure? Snyder also signed legislation barring gay partners of state employees from being able to get health insurance. And his tax plan cuts business taxes by $2 billion.

What can we expect in the coming Michigan lame duck session and the next two years? More of the same -- and maybe even further lurches to the right. Republicans still control both chambers and Snyder has two years left on his contract. They're under no obligation to listen to what people want.

I'm sure many Republicans believe the exit polls are skewed, too, and are happy to ignore the fact that President Obama took Michigan by about 10 points.

So won't voters toss them out in two years for not listening? Maybe, maybe not.

Democrats have pointed out that their party actually won the popular vote on Nov. 6 for both the U.S. House and the Michigan House. But thanks to gerrymandering -- in this case, the unfair way Republican legislatures drew districts -- the GOP still controls both.

There's something to be said for that -- although parties do overcome gerrymanders. But Democrats tend to be clustered in big cities (like Detroit), which gives them a disadvantage even in blue states like New York and California.

But there's a bigger advantage for Republicans. The dirty little secret is that Democrats don't vote in off-year elections like in 2014, when the president isn't on the ballot. Republican pollster Steve Mitchell estimates that more than 500,000 Michigan Dems sit at home.

President Obama also built the most high-tech, grassroots get out the vote operation in history. This is not an exaggeration, as Sasha Issenberg writes in The Victory Lab. Anyone who tells you the Republicans have anything close to that, especially in Michigan, should be forced to submit to drug testing.

But that machine wasn't around in 2010. All of this helps explain why the GOP wave was so crushing. They would have won a lot even if Obama was engaged and Democrats woke up, but there's no way Republicans would have taken a supermajority in the Senate or Snyder's margin would have approached 20 points.

Republicans have another midterm election to look forward to in '14. Obama's team is apparently looking to keep its machine alive this time and Michigan Dems will likely rally around a ballot initiative to get their faithful to the polls.

But GOP strategists and lobbyists are already whispering to nervous lawmakers that they don't have to worry. Go ahead, pass Right to Work. The numbers still work in your favor for '14. There won't be consequences.

And you know what? They could be right.

Susan J. Demas is a political analyst for Michigan Information & Research Service (MIRS). She can be reached at sjdemas@gmail.com.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Thanksgiving Letter to the Republican Party


Dear Republicans:
Thank you.
 
Thank you for your class warfare, for your bull-headedness on taxes, your contempt for the poor and middle-class, your racism, your bigotry, your cluelessness about gender politics, your sneering hostility toward immigrants and minorities.
 
On this Thanksgiving Day, a personal request: Please don't change.
Please keep digging in your heels about not raising taxes on the top one percent even if it means sending the country into a second recession, so that the rest of us can see, once and for all, who your masters are, whose interests you really serve.
Please keep talking endlessly about the wealth-makers and the "small business owners," and never breathe a word about the waitress mom who works long hours at the small restaurant, the clerk who labors at the small insurance company, the teachers who work heroically in crumbling school buildings, the workers who toil in factories whose owners constantly threaten to take their business overseas. Keep doing this until people see, as they did in this month's election, that your loyalties are not with the workers who fuel our economy.
While you're at it, please keep pissing off women by talking about them in infantilizing terms, by not trusting them to make mature, adult, informed choices about their own bodies, by expanding your 40-year-old war against abortion into a war against contraception. Keep unleashing people like Akin and Mourdock onto the people, who are already scratching their heads, wondering if they have suddenly woken up in the 1950s -- in Russia.
Keep trying to convince us that a Republican who believes that abortion should only be legal in cases of saving the life of the mother or in cases of rape and incest, is a progressive Republican. That position will put you only slightly to the left of the Taliban.
Oh, and please don't forget to insult immigrants every chance you get by referring to them as "illegals," and talks of rounding them all up and self-deportation. Doing so will ensure that you stay out of power for at least another generation.
And remember, it is your birthright and solemn obligation to shun the reality-based universe and continue to exist in the world of your own making. In this world, unicorns exist and human beings and dinosaurs lived side-by-side and global warming is a hoax or a left-wing, anti-American plot, and the president is a Marxist Muslim who was born in Kenya and traipses around the world constantly apologizing for America, until foreign leaders plug their ears and please tell him to take his apologizing-for-America ways home.
And that's the polite version. In the more sinister version, the president is the anti-Christ or the Manchurian candidate, planted in the White House to destroy American from within. (I'm guessing he was dropped into the White House by those black U.N. helicopters that have haunted so many a Republican nightmare.)
Yes, please keep shunning reality because it will liberate the rest of us to live in 2012, where we understand that the way to improve our own marriages is really not by stopping gay couples from marrying, that just because of a clever marketing campaign coal doesn't really become "clean coal," and that speaking of dinosaurs, at least one political party in America seems about to become one.
Now, to quote Marco Rubio, the new Great Brown Hope of the Republican Party, "I am not a scientist." Still and all, I do believe in science. It's sort of like, I'm not a doctor but I do believe that T.B. exists. Because people who are doctors, have told me so. So I'm willing to stick my neck out and say, I believe global warming is real and that finding alternatives to fossil fuels seems like a pretty prudent and rational thing to do.
But rationality is of course, a four-letter word in certain circles. And so, I beg you, please continue your campaign against President Obama. Please don't be embarrassed when your presidential candidate courts the blessings of that old, adorable mop-top, Donald Trump. Be brazen enough that your toes don't automatically curl with embarrassment every time the Donald opens his mouth. Keep referring to the president as a wild-eyed radical, a socialist, a Muslim, an atheist. And for heaven's sake, don't acknowledge the contradictions inherent in each one of these slurs.
Blithely ignore the fact that the rest of us see a mild-mannered, earnestly decent man who at times seems to be the only American left standing who still believes in bipartisanship. Or that we see nobility and grace in the manner in which he disregards racist insinuations; that this a man who is never mean-spirited or angry, who seems more interested in policy rather than posturing, a man who has run a mostly no-nonsense, scandal-free administration, a leader who has kept more of his campaign promises then any president in recent history. Unlike you, we see a man who treats his wife as his equal, whose affection and love for his children seems heartwarmingly genuine, who doesn't suffer from any of the dysfunctions and neediness that have marked so many of our leaders. Above all, we see a man who does not cause us to wince each time he says the word "nuclear."

You see, we do not think our president is leading us into permanent decline, or heading a nation of losers and takers. We refuse to disparage our fellow citizens who are on disability or Social Security or food stamps or Medicare or veterans benefits, as somehow sucking the country's coffers dry. We prefer to reserve those labels for the corporate raiders and bankers and unscrupulous mortgage lenders, who actually brought our country to the point of financial collapse.
On this Thanksgiving Day, I am so grateful that we can count on you to learn exactly the wrong lessons from your recent election debacle. I hope that you will continue down the path that you are on for a long time to come.
Oh, I know that this will not last forever. I know that at some point simple self-preservation will kick in and you will have to tackle the illegal immigration problem in a humane, civilized way that is worthy of the greatness of this country. I know the day will come when you will pretend that you were always on the side of marriage equity, that you always knew that discrimination against gay Americans was morally wrong. After all, it is very hard today to find a Southerner who would argue against the civil rights movement, or who would brag of his or her role in disenfranchising fellow citizens. This is the trouble with the arc of the moral universe -- it has this inconvenient way of bending towards justice.
Speaking of disenfranchising fellow citizens. Ahem. Please start raising money immediately from your billionaire supporters so that you can run more billboards in 2016 in predominantly African-American neighborhoods, reminding them that voter fraud is a felony. It was such a wonderfully visual reminder that the only way you can win national elections is by suppressing the turnout. Not to mention how much those billboards and other efforts by you pissed off black citizens, who were reminded anew of how precious their right to vote was -- and how much their elders had sacrificed to earn it.
So, my dear Republicans. Happy Thanksgiving. Don't let me down. Remember, I am counting on you to stay wedded to the same myopic, ahistorical, mean-spirited, irrational, xenophobic, discriminatory policies and tactics that gave us the great presidential election of 2012.
And for this, a grateful 51 percent/332 electoral votes nation thanks you.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Moving Forward ... Where will the MDP find New Voters ?

Well, it's over, for now. However, the mid-term elections of 2014 will either strengthen or weaken President Obama's administration. The Republicans are busy trying to decide where to begin to re-craft their image/message without changing who they are. This means the Democrats have some lead time to begin creating a strategy to take out more Republicans in 2014.
 
Here in Northern Michigan the "target" remains Dr. Dan Benishek.
 
Having lost the election against Benishek by less than a full percentage point, Democrats are anxious to have another go at him. The sooner a candidate emerges the sooner the fund raising can begin - again.
 
Key to the Dems strategy has to be using this time to register new/ emerging voters. A strategic demographic has to be the Native vote as many remain unregistered.  How to accomplish this ? Well, first of all the Native American population continues to be largely distrustfull of the government for many reasons and prefer to remain on Reservation and detached.
 
This is not apathy - this is anger - generations of it.
 
The Democratic Party needs to find a way to reach and engage these potential voters with a message that resonates but more than that a message that represents a change in their lives. Where to begin ? Who should the messenger be ? Does the MDP State Central Committee even have a Native American member to it's credit ? Hello MDP ... are you listening ?

GDH

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I'm Just sayin' ...

It's the opinion of this NORTHERN voter that much of Northern Michigan remains conservative - but in an independent sort of way. The independent Northern voters find things in both Partys that appeal to them - that's why they can re-elect a Democrat from 1993-2010 and then elect a Tea-Publican in 2010. There isn't even a real sense of who we are or what actually constitutes a Northern voter's interests. Northern Michigan is a "region", not simply a couple of peninsulas. The downstate and out of state interests push their brands here and flood Northern media into households without even trying to understand - to know- what the North is all about. This why some things don't fly with voters up here.
The trick going forward, in my opinion, will be to identify "Michigan's True North", give voters a sense of belonging that they don't already have, analyze Northern politics from a deep down approach, propose a "yes WE can" campaign that emphasizes how the broadest population can benefit from a Democratic Representative vs an "owned" Republican extremist whose affectioante funding is more "southern" in orientation.
There needs to be intense investment in education in the Northern Region - not where colleges already exist but on high school campuses in RURAL areas. Tip O'Neil said it ... " all politics are local". When you save our RURAL post offices and bring public/private community colleges into the country - that's local.
There's nothing "community" about a community college if it's in someone else's community.
I spoke to a distinguished educator 2 YEARS ago who had just returned from CHINA. He said that the Central Government there just ordered 1,000 new colleges to be opened !
Government is part of OUR solution and this can happen here too. The question I would ask is if your government isn't working for you - LOCALLY - then who is it working for ?
I've met one man who has a sense of these things, an understanding that transcends the covetted politics of the national partys in an independent region - Derek Bailey. He leads from the front, builds coalitions, seeks common ground, informs, educates and has a record of accomplishments. He is ... " True North".

GDH

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Northern Michigan Democrat 2012 Voting Guide

Northern Michigan Democrat 2012 Democratic Voting Guide
Tuesday November 6th

Print & Take With You to VOTE ...

Federal Candidates:
President BARACK OBAMA and Vice President JOE BIDEN


 

U.S. Senate Candidate
Senator DEBBIE STABENOW
  • Your Democratic Congressional candidate

1st Congressional District - GARY McDOWELL
 
 
 
 
106th State House District – KEN HUBBARD


Michigan Supreme Court: Vote for 3
Connie Marie KELLY, Shelia JOHNSON, Bridget Mary McCORMACK


Education Board Candidates:
State Board of Education – Vote for 2
  • Michelle FECTEAU and Lupe RAMOS-MONTIGNY

MSU Board of Trustees- Vote for 2
  • Joel FERGUSON and Brian MOSALLAM

U of M Board of Regents – Vote for 2
  • Mark BERNSTEIN and Shauna RYDER DIGGS

Wayne State Board of Governors Vote for 2
  • Sandra Hughes O'BRIEN and Kim TRENT


*************************BALLOT******PROPOSALS*****************************************************


#1 – Governor Snyder’s Emergency Manager Act – A “NO” vote will repeal it


#2 – Guarantees collective bargaining rights in the state Constitution and repeals some anti-union laws already in place. A “YES” vote is recommended


#3 – 25% of state’s energy to be by renewables such as wind, solar, hydro, etc. by 2025. A “YES” vote is recommended.


#4 - Establish Michigan Quality Home Care Council & provide for collective bargaining for in-home care workers. A YES” vote is recommended.


#5 - Change voting rules of the Michigan House & Senate and state wide referendum questions concerning taxes, requiring 2/3 majority. A “NO” vote is recommended.


#6 - Require vote of the people on all international bridge projects. A “YES” vote is recommended.