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In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Carrying The Auto Flag

       It sounded like a great idea.  The four legislative leaders from Lansing would invade the nation's capitol to help save the battered and bruised domestic car industry and make a strong pitch to save auto suppliers who are on the ropes, too.
       Who better to carry the flag than House Speaker Andy Dillon, House GOP Leader Kevin Elsenheimer, Senate GOP Leader Mike Bishop and Senate Democratic Leader Mike Prusi?
       With much fanfare the gang of four met with the Lansing capitol scribes to underscore the urgency of the trip and off they went.
       Just so he could not be accused of traveling in luxury, Elsenheimer drove to D.C. while the others hopped on a commercial jet…no state planes please.
        Well as you might expect, Washington did20not come to a stand still for the arrival of the Big Four appearing on behalf of the Big Three soon to become the Big who knows what?
        They didn't get in to see the prez, nor the top brass in Congress and had to settle for some undersecretary of something or other and the third assistant to the whatever.  They did huddle with the Michigan Congressional delegation but that was like preaching to the choir.
       However, the four leaders get good marks for the effort and Speaker Dillon has been successful in convincing 16 of his counterparts around the country to get on board to save the industry.
        But there still remains a recalcitrant attitude toward the auto industry in D.C and chatter about bankruptcy remains on the radar screen.  Amazingly some believe letting the autos go under is the best long-term policy for this country.
        Gov. Jennifer Granholm says that option is "illogical."  But then when did logic ever rule the day in Washington?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What Were They Thinking?

   Somebody pass the barf bag!
   For decades regional cooperation on anything in Southeast, Michigan has been only a dream that quickly turned into a nightmare anytime anyone was foolish enough to try for it. But then wonder of wonders and miracle of miracles, it finally came true with a deal to expand Cobo Hall and supposedly keep the North American Auto Show in Motown.
    All of the warring factions in Lansing, Oakland, Macomb and Wayne Counties came together only to be stymied by you know who.
    Enter the Detroit City Council with a stunning 5-3 vote to kill the proposal, to kill regional cooperation and to breath more life into the anti-Detroit sentiment that already exists.
    Critics wonder what were they thinking?  Or were they?
     Unsuccessful Mayoral Candidate Freeman Hendrix, in an 11th hour pandering attempt to squeeze more votes for his ailing campaign, got the anti-Cobo ball rolling last week when he suggested Detroit was giving up too much, and he found five members on the council who agreed.
     The essence of a good compromise is that nobody gets everything they want and in the end, you give a little to get a little.  It's a time-honored tradition in politics, but apparently Mr. Hendrix and his friends on the council slept through that class.
     Now what?
     Some council folks hope Obama's federal stimulus money can be used.  The governor says nope.
     Maybe everyone will come back to the legislature to try again.  Legislative leaders seem open to that.
     Maybe tremendous business and political pressure will descend on the gang of five and they will flip their votes.
     Or maybe everyone who signed off on the Cobo deal will eventually see the wisdom of the council's actions?
     Right, and you know what will freeze over, too.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

All Hands On Deck

     The ship of state in Michigan is on the rocks.  It is taking on water as the unemployment rate steadily climbs toward 12 percent and the captain on the bridge sees a $1.4 billion iceberg straight ahead.
      So where is the Michigan senate this week?
      Down on the poop deck playing euchre.
      In the midst of the worse recession since the 1980's, the republicans, who run the senate, and their democratic colleagues are on break.
      On what?
      Yep on vacation.
      Maybe it's because t hey broke their backs on all these problems during January and they needed a breather.
      If that was true, you could cut the 38 senators a little slack, but as noted in this space before, there was no back breaking last month because no one lifted a thing.  January was a waste.
      Now comes yet another hiatus with this lame excuse:  Senators are taking the week off to talk with local officials about how to spend the billions of dollars flowing into state coffers thanks to Barack Obama and company who are working this week as is the Michigan House controlled by democrats.
      Nice try, but it doesn't wash.
      The decision to scrub the senate session this week was made last October when senators were polled to find out what week in February they wanted off.  There was no hint of a federal stimulus package last October and certainly no indication that it would be up for review this week.
      Nope.  It's just another example of legislative indifference, arrogance, stupidity, and knuckle-headedness, pick your adjective.
      It should be all hands on deck with no time to "go it alone" in that euchre game down below.

Monday, February 23, 2009

New Vs. Old

   Out with the old and in with the old.
   In a nutshell there's the lead out of a pair of state party conventions staged during, hopefully, Michigan's last ugly snow storm of the year.
   Down in Motown the democrats stuck with the old and unanimously reelected Mark Brewer for the umpteenth time making him the longest serving state Democratic chair in the nation.
   Up in the capitol city, the battered and bruised state GOP huddled to send out the old chair, Saul Anuzis, and installed the new one, Ron Weiser, a really rich guy with deep party connections.
    Weiser out hustled what feeble competition there was for the job and rode home on a theme of winning.  Something this state party has not done for years although Weiser told the scribes 70% of the elected folks in Michigan have an R after their name.  Unfortunately for him, not enough of those are in the legislature and in the governor's office.
    The new chair promises to change. What else would you expect him to say?
    Weiser has his work cut out as 2010 slowly rolls into view.  Everything is on the line including the gov's office, the state house and senate and all the congressional seats.  Another bath at the polls could send the GOP into the dark ages as 2010 is all about redistricting.
     Based on new census data, the new legislature and governor will redraw the voting district lines that will stand for the next ten years.  Suffice it to say, the party in power will construct the lines to make sure more of its candidates are elected over the next decade thus giving that party control of the legislature and gov's executive suite.
    Democrats are on a hi gh.  Republicans, despite their Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow smiley faces, are worried.
    Brewer vs. Weiser.  The old vs. the new.  Let the games begin.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rogers For Dad

      Mr. Rogers will stay in his neighborhood.
      For years the name Mike Rogers has been on everyone's list of potential candidates for governor and with an open seat for that job in 2010, his moniker was on the list again.
      Not anymore.
      Two months ago when it became clear that Rogers was "seriously considering" getting into the thing, he laid down two cards:  One, he had to determine if he could raise the money, put together a team and broaden his political base from his home town of Livingston County.
      The GOP congressman says he was surprised by how quickly that came together.  Based on that element he was a go.
      But then came the second element: Family.  Rogers is a divorced dad with two young kids moving into those sometimes challenging teen years.
      After they children gave an initial "go-for-it-dad" reaction, Rogers sat down and explained the political facts of life i.e. you won't see me for two years.
      That sunk in and the decision was made.  Rogers picked family over politics something that is rarely done these days.
      There is no right or wrong reason on this front.  Each family is different. Each must decide if the sacrifice of being on the campaign trail 24-7 is worth the risk and the potential reward of higher office.
       Barack Obama and his wife tussled with it and the kids got on board with the promise of bringing a new dog to the White House.
       Ironically Gov. Jennifer Granholm and First Hubby Dan Mulhern made the same deal with their three kids when they were uprooted from their comfortable home in Oakland County.
       There was no dog issue with Rogers.  It was about time together and time apart which is already part of his congressional life.
       Rogers for Governor had appeal, but in the end Rogers for Dad carried the day.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Breaking Unwritten Rules

  There was an unwritten rule that politicians who were in office seldom got challenged by someone from their own party---call It the "Honor Among Thieves" rule if you want.
   Unless an incumbent did something really awful, they were safe.  Not anymore.
   Exhibit A:  Detroit Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, mother of you-know-who, had a nasty scare last November when she was reelected with only 32% of the vote.  The reason she won was because she had two other democratic opponents who divided up the rest of the electorate.
   Then came a dust up between the veteran congresswoman and the even more veteran congressman named John Dingell.  Dingell did not endear himself to Ms. Kilpatrick when he called for the resignation of her son as Mayor of Detroit.  You know how mom's can be about protecting thei r offspring.
   So when it came time for Mr. Dingell to fight for the chairmanship of an important congressional committee, word has it Ms. Kilpatrick stiffed Mr. Dingell.
   Can you say, bad blood?
   Now the word is, that some folks in the Democratic Party want to get even with her and assuming she runs in 2010 "there will be a single candidate who is well financed" to take her on.  This could get nasty.
   But there's more.
   Oakland County veteran Congressman Sandy Levin would be a shoe-in for reelection under normal circumstances, but a fellow Macomb County State Senator, democrat Mickey Switalski, is "considering" taking on the incumbent Mr. Levin.
   It's not that Levi n has done anything wrong.  It's just that Switalski is going to be term limited out of his senate seat and is looking for work.  Mind you, he doesn't want to talk about this but the ambitious Switalski will decided within thirty days whether to break that unwritten rule of about leaving incumbents alone.  Sandy Levin take note. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bishop For A.G.?

      Does Oakland County's favorite son really have a shot at being the next state attorney general?  We're about to find out.
      If you are just recovering from the 2008 election cycle, you are not eager to play the 2010 election but the folks running for this and that, are.
      Take the senate GOP leader Mike Bishop. With the formation of an exploratory committee Bishop puts his toe, maybe two toes, in the A.G. water.
      Already immersed in that H2O is Bill Schuette who has run for just about everything on the GOP side and now after a stint on the state appeals court, he is now firmly running for A.G.
     Mike Bishop on the other hand has never dived into statewide politics.  He thought about running for governor and for20Congress but extricated himself from both. He flirts with the A.G. contest but enters as an underdog to Schuette who still has a pretty good grassroots operation.  Bishop has none.
     But he has a shot anyway.  The A.G. nomination is secured at a party convention in August of 2010, so there is plenty of time to get his name out there and raise the money to prove he can raise the money.
     Already the Schuette folks have taken notice and in a snarly response to the Bishop committee, a source reminds everyone that Bishop permitted a vote in the senate to raise the income tax.
     Now mind you, the income tax has nothing to do with being Attorney General, but in an ultra conservative GOP state convention, delegates may not cotton to a guy who opened the door for that to happen.
     At least that's what the Schuette folks are hoping which is why they played that card even before Bishop gets his tanned bod into the pool.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fingers In The Soup

      For years lawmakers and this governor have had very little  new money to splash around.  Soon they will be swimming in $7 billion, if not more, compliments of the new guy in the White House.
     Talk about your Christmas in February.
     The question is who gets what?
      They tell us that the most important factor in the decision making process is the "shovel in the ground notion" i.e. the money will go where the jobs can be created yesterday.
     But even before the money arrives, there's an internal dispute over who has the final say.  Senate GOP Mike Bishop wants his republican controlled appropriations committee to weigh in.
     However when Bishop approached the subject in a public forum the other day, the House Democratic Speaker demurred. 
     Rep. Andy Dillon said he wanted to see more facts which is legislative code for, "No way, Jose." He told an audience of association executives he had seen the budget process two years ago disintegrate and he did not want to wait around until September to spend this money.
     "Use it or lose it," was his mantra.
     If the governor thinks she should have the final word on the allocation, it's safe to say the R's will object to that. 
     When you have $7 bil to spread around the temptation is to funnel a hunk of it into legislative districts where local lawmakers may have a tough time getting reelected next time.
     There is nothing like a nifty ribbon cutting ceremony for a new project to help cement a local pol's future with the voters back home.
     The gov. knows that, the Speaker and Majority leader know that and so do the 148 lawmakers.  Which means everyone will want their fingers in the federal stimulus soup and what's that old saying about too many cooks spoiling the broth? 

Monday, February 16, 2009

Emotions Over Brains

      If somebody put it on the ballot today, most Michigan voters would vote to abolish the full time legislature and cut lawmaker's salaries almost to nothing.
      And all the yes votes would justify their actions based on the cost savings. 
      After all if you cut paychecks and get rid of the full time house and senate, taxpayers would save but the sorry fact is, the savings are chump change.
      The state has a $1.4 billion deficit.  The $12 million saved by paying lawmakers nothing, doesn't soak up much red ink and a PTL would save only about $50 million.
      Despite that, voters would still vote yes because citizens have to hate somebody and adding politicians to the list of Wall Street fat cats, b ankers who foreclose and corporate executives who want to redecorate their offices, just seems logical if not cathartic.
      The mantra of "don't confuse me with the facts my mind is made up," may be understandable but not  smart in the long run.
       You get what you pay for.  If you pay lawmakers $30,000 a year, who will serve?  Nobody with any brains or under the age of 75, that's who.
        Send legislators home for half the year and what do you get?  Nobody to answer the phone when you want your lawmaker to help you navigate state government.
        One can understand the emotions of common citizens who have had it up to here with the lousy economy and all the political bickering in Lansing and D.C.  But this is not a quick fix.
        Emotions are what created term limits and now, many yes votes have flipped.  You might get a chance to pass a part-time legislature down the road, but engage your brain before you engage your emotions for the good of our democracy, please.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Obama Help's Michigan R's

       Michigan republicans were jumping for joy when they picked up some unsolicited support from an unusual source the other day:   The democratic President of the United States.
       For years legislative R's have battled with democrats over lifting the cap or restrictions on the number of charter schools in the state.
      And for years, the R's lost.  Even with the bullying tactics of former Gov. John Engler the cap has remained as tight as the lid on a jar of contaminated peanut butter.
      Now comes Barack Obama in last week's news conference chiding his own party. 
      "Some in my party have been too resistant to reform and have argued only money makes a difference,=E 2 he explained and then pointed to the need for more charter school experimentation especially in the inner cities.
       Come to find out that is exactly what some legislative republicans want to do.  Sen. Wayne Kuipers from West Michigan wants to help the Detroit schools and he's molding an impressive bi-partisan coalition to do it.
       Obama's call to experiment could be used to rally more democrats in the legislature to lift the charter cap.
       But the wily Kuipers is not so sure.  He recalls that former democratic President Bill Clinton joined the charter movement but Kuipers adds, "I'm not sure that helped much with members of the democratic caucus."
       While Kuipers is glad to have Obama on his side, it may not change much in Lansing although he adds, "It certainly won't hurt."
       Watch for this reform of Detroit and other urban schools to pop up within weeks and watch for the R's to invoke Mr. Obama's name in the process.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Only Your Hairdresser Knows For Sure

      Speaking for the first time since the infamous incident, Saginaw County Commissioner and hair stylist to the governor Cheryl Hadsall confesses, "It wasn't my place to talk for her."
      Does she regret it?  "Absolutely," she concedes.
      In case it's slipped your memory, Hadsall made statewide headlines when she revealed that Gov. Jennifer Granholm had told her that if the "right job" came along Granholm would leave for the Obama administration.  It was the most definitive and honest evaluation the governor ever shared on the question of her possible departure.
       But when the story hit  Democrat Hadsall says, "I didn't like it in the meat grinder" and then the phone rang.  With the governor on the other end of the line, she asked, "Cheryl, what are you doing?"
       "I didn't know it was going to be printed," she explains.  The question came at the end of a newspaper interview that had nothing to do with the governor's future.
        She thought the remark was off the record, and when she learned it was not, she labeled it "a great learning experience for me."  Translated be careful what you say to reporters.  Sometimes that stuff ends up in print.
        Hadsall is pleased that the governor is staying in Michigan.  "She is a great voice," Hadsall suggests.
       And she is equally pleased that her ten-year hair styling gig has not ended despite the flap.  In fact that nifty hair do the governor was sporting at the State of the State was compliments of you know who.
       Cornered the other day at a conference in this town, she confirmed what she originally said was true which underscores the notion that only your hairdresser knows for sure what's going on...even in politics.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Grand Kids Vs. Being Governor

      Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson is being urged to run for governor, but in the end family considerations may be the deciding factor.
       Patterson spoke on the second anniversary of the death of his 28-year-old son.
     "When you lose a young man…it changes your whole perspective.  Politics is not the end all and be all while we're here," he reflects.
       He notes that he has eight grand children, "Who think I'm pretty cool," he smiles. Clearly that aspect of his decision-making process weighs heavily on the 70 year-old would-be candidate especially on that anniversary date.
      "I'm not prepared to sacrifice so much t ime that I separate myself from the family I have left," he confesses.
       So if it is a choice between kids and doing every Kiwanis's club between Monroe and Marquette, you'll pick the kids?
       "I will," he admits adding, "I've got a lot of mulling over to do."
         In another interview the same day he conceded he wanted to be governor but didn't want to run to be governor.  That fits just about every potential candidate.  The slog to get to the front office is just that.
        A source says Patterson is going around saying, "I don't know if I will do it, but what can you do for me" if I do run?
         He still pegs a possible run at only=2 050-50 adding, "I'm certainly not printing any bumper stickers as we speak."
         But he could end up there.  "I'm leaving the door open for a couple more weeks and I'll let you know."
         Then you'll close the door?
          "I'll let you know," he smiles again.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sock It To SOCC

   It's called the State Officers Compensation Commission and it's a grand experiment that has failed. Miserably.
   The panel of seven "private" citizens was a creature of the legislature.  For years lawmakers faced a Hobson's choice:  On one hand they wanted a pay raise but on the other, they had to cast a vote to get it.  And if they voted "yes", they faced the potential wrath of the voter during the next election.
   Political survival in this town being what it is spawned a scheme, and it is exactly that, to give the illusion that this seven-member group would independently make the pay decision and if there was a boost in pay, lawmakers could blame the commission.
   This concept was sold to the voters as a way to "reform" the way salaries are set.  Backers never explained the "real0 reason lurking beneath the "reform" which was to protect their backside.
   The electorate took the bait, hook, line and sinker and voted for the scheme, which unknowingly provided cover for the 148 lawmakers.
   Since then the "private" citizen panel has been unduly influenced by, what else, former legislators who were appointed to the commission.  They brought with them a sympathetic ear to the pay plight of their former colleagues. 
   The governor, who appoints the panel, did make sure there were private citizens, just for looks, but often times even they had indirect liaisons with the legislature and they often turned to the lawmakers on the panel for guidance.  Pretty neat, hey?
   For the most part the public, as it often does, never paid much attention to SOCC until the group came up with a whopping 38% pay raise in 2000.  Some how that got everyoneE2s attention and when lawmakers had a chance to reject the recommendation, they did not while blaming SOCC for making the decision in the first place.
     The guy who engineered the raise was former House Speaker Lew Dodak who is also a lobbyist.  Need we say more other than; it is time to Sock it to SOCC.  Agree?

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Star Is Born?

      If you've watched the TV broadcast Off the Record, over the years upwards of 1700 politicians have paraded across the screen.  Very few light up that screen, but that was not the case last week.
       He's 26 years old making him the youngest guy in the Michigan House. He's an African-American-Harvard educated Republican from Genesee County…you read that right, Republican. 
       Rep. Paul Scott has a future in this game as he gave a buffo performance.
       He answered all the questions, which is not the norm.  He showed the poise of a seasoned veteran.  He joked with the panel and call all the capitol correspondents by their first names, even though he just met them.  And when the heat was turned on, he buttoned up his asbestos sui t.
       Take the abortion issue. Scott is decidedly pro-life which makes the anti abortion lobby applaud.  But it won't be applauding at what he said.
       "If a candidate was pro-choice and sought your endorsement, would you do it?
        A died in the wool pro-lifer would have said no with a capitol "N."
        Scott said instead, it was not a deal breaker and he would consider the endorsement if the candidate aligned with him on a majority of issues.
        Most politicians live and die by the pride of authorship thing i.e. you have to introduce a bill with your name on it, pass it, and then boast to the folks back home.
        The crafty Scott was first in line to sponsor the total smoking ban in public places that went up in smoke last year.  But he'll let the democrats take the bill away from him as long as it passes.
         Even the Michigan Education Association, with its pro-democratic predilections, endorsed Scott even though he is for vouchers and charter schools which the teacher's union detests.
        What planet does this guy come from?
        To see his performance go to and hit the Off the Record icon.  You're in for a rare treat.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

On A Scale Of One To Ten

     Barack Obama had it.  John McCain did not.
     Jennifer Granholm has it in abundance while none of her two challengers even came close.
     We're not talking about money, innovative ideas, or even brains.  Nope, it's the c-word: Charisma.
     Seems you can't go anywhere in politics these days without it and TV is to blame.  TV news coverage of office seekers is so thin in content, that the only thing that shines through the tube is the personality and whether it sparkles or just lies there.
      Think the aforementioned Mr. McCain.
       It was not always thus.   Forty years ago it was an accepted practice for candidates to issue White Papers.  These were in-depth dissertations on their view on the economy, war, energy, you name it. 
       Now the only white paper you see is the T.P. in a candidate's commode.
       In a candidate forum the other night sponsored by FOX2, the MIRS newsletter and the Michigan Education Association, you had Lt. John Cherry on the stage.
       He waxed on and on about what the Granholm administration has done about jobs. (Please, however, ignore the 10.6% jobless rate on its way to 12%.) And at the very end, the anchor tossed out one final question: On a scale of one to ten, what is your charisma score?
        To be charitable to John Cherry, who's named is often mixed up with the Hockey Night in Canada Cherry, to be charitable, h e does not exactly knock your socks off.  He has lost 55 pounds and is getting down to running-for-governor weight, but you know Jennifer Granholm and Mr. Cherry is no Jennifer Granholm.
        Yet he was not bashful about awarding himself a nine.  And then he laughed, the anchor laughed, and the audience, who had seen his act, joined in.
        He gets one white lie per campaign, and he just used his up.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

And That's The Way It Is

     "This is Walter Cronkite reporting in front of this Hollywood theatre and we're hear to interview all the stars going in for the Grammy's."
      Cronkite interviewing recording stars?  If he was dead, and he's not, he'd not only be spinning in his grave, he would send a nasty email to Katie Couric who is hosting a special Grammy broadcast.
      Katie. Katie. Katie.
      Once again that illusive line between hard news and entertainment is crossed and Couric's credibility takes a hit as a result.
      Sure it is old school to keep your anchors and correspondents out of the show biz milieu, but the new school says, viewers like celebrity news so why not give them what they want and apparently anchor person Couric agrees.
       In TV news these days you do anything to boast your ratings
       In a feeble attempt to justify this we-don't-care-anymore-what-uncle-Walter-did, the CBS network points out that on the well respected 60 minutes broadcast, there are lots of profiles on celebs. With all due respect to the so-called Tiffany network, two wrongs don't make a right, and they should change the Tiffany label to Wal Mart.
      Heck if their major anchor can do the Grammy's, why stop there?  She could co-anchor Entertainment Tonight, Inside Edition and all the other pulp show biz broadcasts masquerading as news shows.
     In the grand scheme of things, "Couric does Hollywood" is a blip, but for folks who deeply care about journalism, it's just one more nail in the credibility-loss coffin.
     And, unfortunately, that's they way it is.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

To Study Or Not To Study

       There she goes again.
       Gov. Jennifer Granholm continues with the "care and feeding" of her bud and candidate for governor John Cherry.
        As she has done in the past, she has plucked the lt. governor from obscurity to place him front and center on revamping and downsizing state government.
        "The lt. governor wants to hear from the people," advised media secretary Liz Boyd.
         You know what that means: The John Cherry road show.  It will take him to all parts of the state gathering first hand knowledge from the electorate on how to reinvent state government.
       A 0  Oh yeah. He will also pick up a ton of free media in every little Podunk town he visits to help promote his bid to replace his current boss.
          Is that the only reason she taped him for the job? Of course not. He's a 20-some year veteran of state government and will do a good job, but there is that hidden political agenda, too.
         But here's the problem with the Cherry commission.  The GOP asks, do we need a six-month to a year study on how to eliminate 10 of the state's 18 departments which is the governor's charge?
        Instead of a study, why not just do it? The governor could tell lawmakers to do it now, but she won't.
        But be careful of what you wish for.  Legislative republicans figure if the governor wants to downsize government but wants to wait, they will do it without the wait.
         When the new budget is introduced next week, watch for the R's to take a shot at slipping in the department elimination stuff without waiting for Mr. Cherry to do is thing.
         And if democrats rail against that and call for more study, the republicans will argue, if she wants the cuts, just get'er done.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hoekstra Nixes No Tax Pledge

    They warn you in this biz never to make assumptions, but sometimes you just can't help it.
    Take the bumping into Pete Hoekstra the other day.  The likely GOP candidate for governor, the assumption was, must be like every other republican in that he favors adding his name to the no tax pledge.
    You know the pledge that reads, "If elected, I will not raise taxes."
     Wrong assumption.
     Will you sign the no tax pledge?  "No. I don't think so," he says on camera for FOX2.
     "Signing pledges only gets you into trouble," as he breaks ranks with his friends in the GOP.
     Wow.  This is news and he wasn't done.
     "What may look good today" could tie a governor's hands down the road to the point that it could stand "in the way of getting something done," he reflects calling it a "bad pledge."
      Now don't be mistaken:  Hoekstra is not running on a "I'm going to raise your taxes" platform.  In fact he says if elected he will "reduce the tax burden" in Michigan, but he's smart enough to know that things change and there might come a time for this reason or that, that a tax might have to be hiked.
      Rest assured his potential opponents in a 2010 GOP primary for governor will save this blog and use it against Hoekstra.  He must be aware of that but was not chicken about sharing his views.
      On that he is in sync with the current governor who also refused to sign the pledge for the very same reasons.
      However, the West Michigan Congressman is worried that the governor will "blow" the federal stimulus money once it arrives in state coffers.
      He says the funds should be used to restructure government and based on the last six years, he's not so sure Gov. Jennifer Granholm will do that.

Monday, February 2, 2009

If This Love, Forget It

      The Associated Press recently ran a story about the new "cool and casual" atmosphere in the Oval Office and accompanying the story was a picture of the new prez and the White House press corps.
    The pic shows Mr. Obama during a tour of the press corps digs and he's smiling and almost everyone around him is smiling, too and there's the rub for the anti-media gaggle.
    It will argue, the photograph is proof positive that the media is in love with the new president.  It's a theme that weaved its way throughout the campaign as the R's griped about all the favorable media coverage of the Obama phenomenon.
    It is always amazing how readers and viewers often believe a vast majority of reporters are liberal.  You know what, that may be true, but here's the part folks won't even consider let alone believe.
     The successful correspondents are very adept at putting those leanings on the shelve when they are doing their reporting thing.  If they didn't, they'd be fired.
     Liberal readers share the same bias with the right-wingers.  It's amusing to read their diatribes when the media criticizes Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
     "Obviously you are a conservative republican otherwise you would not treat her that way," is the most common observation.
       What those folks forget is that when John Engler was governor, he faced the same criticism which the left did not gripe about but the right did.
       Unfortunately for the media, which really strives to be fair, it gets whacked by both sides if they don't like what you are reporting.
       So while everyone in the pic with the prez was yoking it up and it looks like they adore Obama, don't kid yourself, when it comes time to cross exam him, they will not pull their punches.
       To wit, everyone is writing about how the Obama folks screwed up the nominations of the new Treasury Secretary and the pending Human Services Department director who both had tax problems.
       If this is love, the Obama gang wants no part of that.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

SOS Memories

         After covering 40 State of the State addresses the obvious question is what do you remember the most about them?
         Sorry to report most are memorable for not being memorable.  It's not quite, "You heard one, you've heard them all" but there is a certain sameness to each message.
         Bill Milliken, Jim Blanchard, John Engler and now Gov. Jennifer Granholm have each promised to "diversity Michigan's economy."  40 years and counting and we ain't there yet.
         Each embraced bi-partisan cooperation, which is standard boilerplate for the SOS.  It's a feel good notion that resonates with folks at home, but once the applause dies, its back to partisan politics as usual.
         There is always a laundry list of "to-do" stuff including improving education for our kids, creating more jobs, fighting crime and don't forget about protecting the environment.
          But there are certain aspects from each governor that still reside in the ole memory bank.
          In the midst of the 1970 energy crisis, then Gov. Milliken called for everyone to turn off his or her Christmas lights.  Who every heard of such a thing?  Wait a minute he did do that but it wasn't in the SOS.  Oh well.
           The Gov. Blanchard speech that re-echoes was the one in which he called for an income tax hike and in the back of the chambers you could hear one lonely person applauding.  That turned out to be the erasable Sen. Basil Brown from Highland Park.  Blan chard acknowledged the applause with some trepidation.
           John Engler's final SOS was the most emotional as he almost cried when he talked about how important is family was to him.
           Which brings us to the current governor.  She regrets ever saying it, but the phrase, "In five years you will be blown away" still gets tossed back at her as the economy has not blown anyone away during her six, now going on, seven years in office.
           So Tuesday night at 7 p.m., she gets another shot at delivering that memorable phrase that will appear in another blog years down the road.