Blogs > Skoop's Blog

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.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pass The Soap

      Please  wash your hands before you read this blog.  The writer was in Kansas City last weekend and may have come in contact with the dreaded and media-hyped Swine flu.  After all there were two cases in K.C. and maybe both of them were on the plane coming back to Detroit.
      You can never be too safe about protecting yourself from being killed.
       TIME OUT!!
      The news media has fallen in love with the Swine flu story and has now overstepped its responsibility to keep the public informed.  Instead, the over coverage has created so much fear that you would think somebody put a box of anthrax in every newsroom in the country.
      Ignore the story?
      Of course not, but unless there are new developments that are news worthy, the news hounds should take two steps backward and chill the hell out.
      The sensationalization of this story came up in the Granholm inner circle on Tuesday and when she stepped out in public, the governor confessed that the cable news guys "do have to fill some hours" on the air. She added if you watched over an extended period of time you would conclude, "we are in a pandemic."  She quickly added, "We're not there yet."
      And until we get there, Swine flu is just another story.
      Jon Stewart on the Daily Show did a marvelous tongue in cheek analysis of the media coverage as he lambasted the overkill.
      He showed a clip of John King on CNN reporting there were six new cases in Canada and the graphic had the=2 0entire country covered in ominous red.  Six cases out of how many millions of hockey lovers north of us?
      On a local news channel in this neck of the woods, where the median age of a reporter is about 15 years and six months, viewers were told to stay at home if you are sick, cover your mouth when you cough, and for God's sake, wash your hands.
      In three separate stories all that stuff was repeated…in the same newscast.
      Maybe this is a clever attempt by the soap makers to sell more soap?
       Or maybe the TV guys are about to move into the May sweeps and they want to boost their ratings?
       Naw, responsible journalists would never do that.
       Would they?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cone of Silence

        Cone of Silence
         The usually talkative lobbyist for Right to Life of Michigan entered a cone of silence this week when asked to comment on the recent comments of a GOP candidate for governor.
        During Congressman Pete Hoekstra's appearance on Off the Record three weeks ago, he confided that he could "probably vote for a pro-choice candidate."
        RTL lobbyist Ed Rivet confirms he read those remarks but that is about all he would confirm during a humorous interview for WWJ NewsRadio 950 in Detroit.
        "What is your reaction to Hoekstra's comment?0
         There is a three second pause on the tape and Rivet finally says, "stone silence."
         Rivet is reminded that you can't put that on the radio.
         He is unphased.  "That's what you're going to get to put on the radio," he laughs.
         Obviously drilling a dry hole with regard to his reaction, the interviewer tried, "Well, were you surprised by the remarks?"
         Another four seconds of silence after which Rivet asks, "How am I doing?"  The interviewer notes that he is still getting stone silence to which Rivet chuckles and ads, "That's what you're going to get."
         Why the no comment?
         "It serves his interest and mine," Rivet concludes noting that sometimes it's best to just "move along."
          While another GOP source concludes the Hoekstra comment was "not going to help him" in a GOP primary where RTL does hold some sway, the thinking in the RTL camp is that candidates often say stuff so that they don't "look extreme" and Hoekstra's comments at this read are not a "deal breaker"  as the anti-abortion group is willing to give him the "benefit of the doubt" for now. 

Monday, April 27, 2009

Stop It!

      Enough already with the GM plant closings, layoffs, downsizing, and all the other machinations this company has put Michigan through.
     For the 21,000 soon to be ex-GM workers it's another black and bleak day in the sordid history of this once auto giant now gasping for air to stay alive.
     The Obama administration wanted Draconian action and this latest announcement should produce smiles in the White House but certainly not on the auto assembly lines.
     But there is a silver lining in all the pain, if this is the end; if this is the bottom of the barrel and from here on out, GM will begin its long comeback.
     However Michigan0Aeconomist Patrick Anderson reports, "This doesn't mean that we have bottomed out.  And it doesn't mean GM can avoid bankruptcy."
     Unless consumer confidence in the auto sector makes a significant comeback, Anderson figures no amount of federal assistance can save GM from its possible doomsday.
    He blames the Obama folks for sabotaging that confidence, which he argues, has left buyers "sitting on their hands" and wallets we might add.
     However in a brief note of optimism, Anderson says this latest move could signal more help is on the way from the feds.
     "The manner in which the announcement was made, implies that the (U.S.) Treasury Department's team and the GM management are on the same page.  If that's the case, it's definitely a positive…"
      Tell that to the Pontiac worker in Oakland County. 

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sports Vs. Politics: No Contest

       If you put all the political columnist  in a room for a day and asked them if they were jealous of their counterparts who write for the sports pages, the answer would be a resounding yes.
       Oh sure, political scribes have a higher calling. Their job is to inform citizens so they can be better participants in the democracy.  But tell that to all those citizens and sports writer who are more inspired by the final score on the field rather than in the political arena.
       For example, a ton of readers can tell you whom the Lions selected as their first draft choice.  But ask them to name the three branches of government and watch them stumble.  (Judicial, Executive, Legislative btw.)
       In fact reader interest in the selection of Matthew Stafford in the Detroit News was off the charts. Four of the most read columns were on that and in fifth place was how the Tigers crushed the Royals.
       Over in the Freep, the Lions/Stafford stuff got eight of the top ten stories including numbers one through seven.
       Lost in the shuffle was the remarkable story about the kid from Canton who aced the ACT, SAT, and PSAT and oh yeah, some readers actually wanted to know what was happening with GM and Pontiac.  That finished ninth in reader interest.
      Just think of all the other compelling stories that have a greater impact on our lives:  The first 100 days of the new presidency; our failing urban school system and let's not forget Michigan's economy going to you know where in a hand basket.
      None of those made the top ten.
      Maybe readers are just tired of all the bad news and a little escape journey into the sports world is one way to drown out all their sorrows?
      Or maybe most readers/citizens could give a hoot about the health of our democracy. Hence, maybe instead of Mr. Stafford getting banged around playing for the lowly Lions, maybe he should just run for President. 

Friday, April 24, 2009

What Do You Think About Term Limits

     It makes for a fun time when the term limit issue arises in public forums. It's a teaching moment.
        Correspondents normally don't take positions on issues, but if asked it's easy to share some insight on term limits.  Audiences are told: "They suck!"
        After the laughter and the shock value dies down, you commence a discussion about what's right and wrong with the concept.
        What you quickly discover with each audience is that very few used their brains when deciding the issue in 1992.  They voted from the gut and desperately wanted to send a message to Lansing and Washington.
        They did not weight the impact that the lack of experience would have on the legislative process.  Voters were angry, they were fed a bill of goods that somehow inexperience would be good for the process and by God they wanted new blood in the system.
        Now when you ask for a show of hands, a majority of the yes votes would change their vote given a chance to see it in action and to learn that, by God, you do want experience in our legislative halls.
        Invariably there is at least one malcontent In the audience who still believes in the concept.  They are asked to stand and asked what they do for a living?
        "I'm an accountant."
        "How many years have you been accounting?"
         "Are you a better accountant today tha n you were, say, ten years ago?"
         "I'd like to think so."
         "So experience counts?"
         "Well, yes…"  And now they know where this is going.
          "So why doesn't experience count in the legislature?"
          Game, set, match.  They get the point.
          Do you?

Lottery Money

    Out on the rubber chicken circuit, you can set your watch by it.  Somewhere in the question and answer segment, you will eventually get, "Where does the lottery money go?" and "What do you think about term limits?"
          In today's installment, we tackle item number one. Term limits gets the once over tomorrow.
          This lottery thing is a fascinating story that dates all the way back to 1972 when it as first proposed. It also turns out to be a case study in how the public doesn't pay close attention.
         During the lottery debate and before it went to the citizens for approval, there was all sorts of chatter about where the profits should go.  Everything under the sun was considered including using it to fund our schools.  That earmarking however was never included in the ballot proposal, but the mere fact that it was even discussed somehow got locked into the collective mind of the entire state.
          The people said yes to the lottery. The money started flowing into the state's General Fund which is similar to your family checking account. But the public perception was imbedded:  The lottery would fund our schools and no other dollars would be needed.
         Of course, that was never the case and besides, the lottery, while successful, could not generate the billions of dollars needed to teach Johnny and Janey.  Yet the perception lives on.
         Lawmakers kept running into, "What happened to the lottery money?"
         Finally, after years of this, they changed the lottery law to send all of the profits into education. There still wasn't enough to cover all the costs, and it did not end the incessant questions about where the money went.
         So, hear ye, hear ye:  The lottery money goes to education. But we still need more dollars for schools. Now stop asking, please?


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Why Waste The Time?

        The "new" state Republican Party recently sent out a survey to get a feel for the attitudes of the Michigan GOP rank and file. Nine of the twelve questions were so slanted that this "poll" can hardly be called an objective tool for measuring sentiment. 
          Besides, the party could have saved the money, as it knows the answers to loaded questions such as: Do you agree that Americans want more socialism in government?
          Should bureaucrats in Washington be in charge of making your health care choices?
          Should Republicans unite to fight judicial nominees who bring a personal, left-wing agenda on social issues to their jobs?
          Or should we stop Democrats from cutting our intelligence agencies or bringing back Clinton-era restrictions on inter-agency communications?
        Geez if any good Republican can't get those questions right , they should be booted out of the party.
        From a journalistic viewpoint, you would want to see the answers to questions such as:  Should fighting terrorists be our top military priority?
        Should Republicans focus on supporting democratic movements in oppressive states such as Cuba, Venezuela and Iran?
        If this is an attempt by new state GOP chair Ron Weiser to reinvent the party, the survey appears to be an attempt to reaffirm the same old policies that have keep independent voters away from the GOP in droves.
        How about a question such as this:  Should GOP candidates who are pro-choice be allowed to run for office?
        Apparently Mr. Weiser doesn't want to uncork that can of worms.

Getting Down To Biz

          Tanned, refreshed, and just off a two-week hiatus, Michigan's full time legislature returns to action this week with the same list of nasty issues to tackle that they had on the table when they hi-tailed it out of town.
             The agenda is no walk through the park:  Whopping budget deficits for this year and next; raising more money for the roads; banning smoking in public places, and spending more of those Obama-bucks flowing in from Washington.
             The spending part is the easy part; the rest of the agenda will challenge these folks to get it done by the summer break in early July.
            Oh, did we mention the House Speaker also wants debate on an omnibus tax-restructuring proposal, pieces of which, may be on the November ballot for you to decide this year?
            By now lawmakers are old hands at slicing up state services to balance the books.  Problem is all the low hanging fruit was plucked years ago and now it's crunch time where some lawmakers may have to sacrifice their pet projects at the budget cutting alter.
            Some of the federal stimulus money will be used to ease some of the pain, but the Granholm administration and the legislative republicans agree it cannot be used to wipe out the entire deficit.  That's because when the fed money dries up, the budget hole will simply reappear.
            Raising money for roads is a top priority for the road-building lobby for obvious reasons: More money means more jobs.  Only problem is lawmakers have to provide yes votes to do that and eliminating the gas tax and replacing it with another tax which will grow with the price of gas will not be an easy vote.
          The smoking ban remains an enigma.  Seems like everybody and his uncle in the real world favors the ban.  Except some of those uncles own casinos, cigar bars, or tobacco shops and they want an exemption and the battle over that is gumming up the debate.
          So now they get down to business and what the end product on all these issues will be in three months, is anybodies guess.

Cox Speech No Home Run

        You've seen a ton of political convention speeches in your day and the only thing you remember about them is that you can't remember anything about them.
         The orator faces a crowd of delegates who are talking, wandering around and seemingly doing anything they can to ignore the speaker.  In that light, very few talkers hit a home run.
         Say hello to Attorney General Mike Cox who got up to bat, fouled off a couple of good pitches but was only able to eek out a single.  Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land in the same forum actually never got to first base.
       Normally you would pretty much forget about the Cox and Land messages at the state GOP convention last February, but since both are in the race for governor next year, it was worth watching the videotape.  (Land's speech was critiqued here earlier.)
         Cox tried to ingratiate himself to the partisan crowd by popping the unpopular Gov. Granholm.  Talk about your easy pickin's.
         The A.G. confessed that he and his wife felt that maybe Mikey had been a little too harsh on the governor. "Maybe she's not all that bad," he deadpanned in a sarcastic tone.
          Then he talked about her "left coast ideas" and her "culture of do-nothing-ism" and concluded, "We haven't been half as tough on her as she has been on us."
          That was one of his fouled off pitches which some in the crowd actually heard.
          He then took a swipe at Lt. John Cherry who wants to replace Granholm.
          Like Land, Cox promised better days ahead and finally ripped his single up the middle with a line he wrote himself: "So if you and sick and tired of over taxing, under performing, over spending, zigzagging, job killing, do nothing governor and lt. governor, now is the time to act."
          If everyone had been listening, he could have actually stretched that into a double.

Friday, April 17, 2009

They’re Back

      The Amway ads are back on the tube, but this time for a completely different reason.
       If you ever lack for something to talk about when you and friends get together, here is a sure fire topic to get everyone up in arms.  Just ask if anybody has ever had an Amway salesperson in his or her home... then duck for cover.
      The vile commentary that flows out of that conversation may surprise you. The gist of it will be something like, "Yeah, my brother-in-law came over with his soap suds to sell and he would not leave.  We had to kick him out!"
      Such is the public perception of the Amway Company which for a time, because of this gawd awful image, actually changed its moniker on the eve of the 2006 contest for governor.
      Here's why.  Dick DeVos who was the GOP nominee is the son of the co-founder of the Amway brand. The Democrats knew if they linked DeVos to Amway, they could tap into the reservoir of resentment from all those families who could not get rid of that relative in the living room.
      Sensing this, Alticor, the reincarnation of Amway, ran a series of positive TV spots in the midst of the campaign hoping against hope that the ads would insulate Dick from Amway fallout.
    Of course, the ads did not, the Democrats continued to play the DeVos/Amway card and you know who beat DeVos going away.
       But now they are back on the air. No campaign to worry about this time other than the campaign to re-brand Amway as a positive company ready to sell you "quality" products. 
       "Just contact an Amway sales representative" the ad concludes.
        Yep, that's when the fun begins.

Why the roads might not get fixed

              On the rubber chicken circuit the other day, the audience wanted to talk about the lousy roads in Michigan.  Hey, ya gotta be number one in something.
                And one guy, who obviously didn't want to raise new revenue to fill the pots holes shouted out, "That money is going to the People Mover."
              OMG. Was this guy for real?  The People Mover controversy dates back to Mayor Coleman Young and funding for the thing has not been an issue for years, yet this "well-informed" citizen still thought it was.
             The worst thing in our democracy is an uninformed citizenry and that guy in Midland was exhibit A, and it's that situation that dogs efforts in Lansing to raise more bucks for the roads.
             The road-building lobby is lying in the weeds waiting for lawmakers to return next week when a huge push will be made to find those dollars but the road coalition is fighting an uninformed public.
              With the state spending just over $800 million in federal stimulus money, many motorists figure that will get the job done so why the clamor for more?
             Now to be sure the road builders always have their hand out but they contend Michigan needs $3 billion in new road money to get the job done.
             The road lobby is also fighting the clock.  If they are going to pass this thing, they have to get it done before this fall.  Because by then, the 2010 election cycle will be in full swing and lawmakers, at election time, somehow or other get antsy about voting higher taxes for anything.
           Public ignorance on one side and anxious politicians on the other equals: Get use to the lousy roads.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Land boots first speech

             Good thing nobody saw this one.  Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land was not on her game when she delivered her first speech declaring her desire to be the next governor.
             On a scale of one to ten, it was a minus one.
             She delivered the thing at a state GOP convention during a blizzard last February.  Both the weather and the speech left everyone cold.
             Now first speeches do not a campaign make and if the Land folks were savvy, and they should be, they went to work immediately to clean up her act.
            Granted giving a public speech is a tough assignment especially if your audience is not listening and that perhaps was the most embarrassing thing about it.
            As she read the address, at one point the crowd noise was so loud that a party official literally took the microphone away from Land in mid-sentence and pleaded with the crowd to pay attention which only drew attent ion to the fact that they were not paying attention.
            If looks could kill, Land plugged Hank Fuchs right between the eyes as she said, "Thanks Hank."
            Her message, based on a review of the tape, was basically this:  I've done a great job as Secretary of State and now "I'm ready for my next step."
            Well to be charitable, being SOS is not necessarily a training ground to be governor just as being Attorney General was not one for Jennifer Granholm.
             Just because you can speed up the line at driver's license office does not qualify you to deal with 148 lawmakers in the House and Senate.
             Land did hit all the right chords about uniting the party, bringing about sweeping change and bringing Michigan back.  All very nice, very predictable, very ordinary and mucho ho-hum.
             She'll need to do better than that, and she's got time to find her voice and a message that is not leftover Obama stuff.

Andy for governor?

           Will he or won't he?  As the 2010 field for governor slowly takes form, one unanswered question centers on House Speaker Andy Dillon.  The Redford democrat is on the bubble about making a bid next year.
           Several things are clear.  He is deeply thinking about it, and lots of folks are whispering in his ear that he should do it.  But if Dillon is smart, and he is, he will not let the whispering cloud his thinking.
          While it's a nice ego stroke to have all that backroom support, just because folks tell you to run, that is not the right reason to run.  You have to have the fire in the gut to run and it's unclear if he does.
           His family has given him the green light.  In fact a former democratic member of the House says he talked to Dillon's wife years ago and she predicted he would be governor.
           If one was betting today, put some loose change on him not getting in.  But when you run that by the "whisperers' who want him in, they recall that Dillon is notorious for waiting until the last minute before making a critical decision.
           With the clock ticking, he filed for his house seat hours before the deadline and when faced with running for Speaker, he held out until the last minute before doing that, too. 
            Is there a pattern?
            Dillon getting in means a democratic primary because Lt. Gov. John Cherry is not getting out.  Usually the party likes to avoid a confrontation and Dillon is probably weighting that, too.
            So will he or won't he? 
             He says he'll call when he answers that, but don't expect the phone to run real soon.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

More Time Off

        While most working slugs will enjoy Easter Sunday, eat a couple of chocolate bunnies and head back to the grind stone tomorrow, Michigan's "hard-charging" legislature will take one more week off for good behavior before returning to the state capitol.
       It's not as if they have anything to do so why not another five days of R and R?
       Lawmakers returned here on January 14th and proceeded to take the next few weeks off.  They returned to hear the governor's State of the State message on February 3rd.  She then sent them her new budget a couple of days later.  Lawmakers did hang around for several weeks working on this and that and than everyone left on April 2nd for a two week Spring break.
       Sorta takes your breath away doesn't it.
       In fairness, they did tackle some issues and teed them up for possible passage later this year and by far their biggest accomplishment was spending $800 million in Obama-bucks to repair the roads.  And they got it done ahead of the deadline.
        During this break time, key lawmakers and the Granholm administration have been working the budget deficit, which is mushrooming by the minute.  Last January the red ink was $300 million deep. It's now almost a billion smackers.
        And if this economy stays in the tank, who knows how many services will be cut and how much of the federal stimulus money will be used to balance the books?
        But there is no sense worrying about that stuff until next week.  It can wait. So lawmakers, enjoy that extra five days at the beach.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Brooks Stays On The Bench

       Oakland County executive L. Brooks Patterson won't confirm this but take it to the bank, he is not running for governor.  Period.  No second-guessing.  No way.
       It's been a great couple of months for the affable Mr. Patterson who kept everyone and his uncle guessing about what he might do.
       He played it like violinist Itzak Pearlman.
       On the eve of a major fundraiser earlier this year, he deftly trotted out the notion that he might run for governor.  He and the media dutifully listed all of his attributes:  He had business attracting prowess, he was well known, he presided over a county that actually had economic growth surrounded by 82 other counties that did not, and on and on it went.
       It was a great tease, but even from the get-go you could just tell his heart was not in it.  Sure he would love to be governor but he was not in love with earning it.
       Yet he steadfastly refused to kill the speculation.  You could just see him smiling, maybe even laughing with his buds, about how the media loved this story and would not put it down even though, if you thought about it, it was a long shot at best.
       Pressed several weeks ago to either run or get off the pot, Patterson confessed that his attitude was based on "who talked to me last."  Some whispered run; others whisper don't and in the end Patterson listened to the latter and his own heart.
       It is a slog to run all over the state, shaking hands, posing for the cameras and submitting yourself to another round of media scrutiny on your way to t he GOP nomination. And while he would have been anointed the front-runner, that doesn't mean he would have won.
      If former Gov. Jim Brickley was still with us, he could testify to that.  He was the front-runner to replace Gov. Bill Milliken and ended up losing to Dick Headlee.
     The Brookster knows he has a great job, a great family including all those grand kids who adore him. He also knows he'd
 have to leave both to really run for governor.
      He did not want to do that, so he won't.

Tea Party Amnesia

      Give them credit.  The anti-tax crowd is doing a masterful job of orchestrating a series of nationwide "Tea Parties" to protest the tax policies of the new Obama administration. They'll have all the right visuals for the TV news hounds and they'll hit all the "right" rhetorical buttons to whip up the masses into an anti-government fervor.
       Plus our capitol steps will be graced by Joe the Plummer.  Be still our hearts.
       While it may be appropriate to take a shot at the new president, where were these folks when the Bush administration was in office?
       Guess their grievances only count when a democrat is in the White House.
       For example the Tea Party crowd complains about 8 0selling our debt to China."  This did not start on Mr. Obama's watch.
       For example, they grip about "earmarks for special interest groups."  This did not start on Mr. Obama's watch.
       For example, they complain about leaving a debt to our great grand children. Wow. This did not start on Mr. Obama's watch and neither did their complaint about lawmakers not reading the $500 billion tax bill.  Come on.  Not reading a bill is a time-honored tradition in the nation's capitol hardly unique to this administration.
        And then in a fitting rage of anger, the anti tax bunch is upset that they are "taking from your family budget to pay for their federal budget."
        First of all it is "our" federal budget and=2 0secondly taking money from your budget and giving to the feds is hardly a new concept.
        So it will be grand that the Tea-types exercise their right of free speech on April 15th, but while they are at it, they should tell the media and the public that they have a bad case of amnesia, too.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

We're Number One

     Michigan is finally number one in something that counts.  We have lots of number ones that don't i.e. jobless rate, out migration of families, urban schools on the ropes, and let's not forget the auto industry which is obviously not number one.
     But with the signing of legislation this week, the state emerges as the most lucrative state offering hefty tax breaks for companies trying to design and build batteries for cars.  If the governor has her wish, Michigan will stay there as other states are far behind in the battery race.
    "There's been a lot of vision here," U.S. Senator Carl Levin beamed at the bill signing ceremony.  In fact Michigan anticipated this sweepstakes three years ago long before anyone else thought battery technology would be the wave of the future.
     Now to be sure Gov. Jennifer Granholm's record on this20subject is shaky. She gloomed onto ethanol at the get go only to see the price of corn skyrocket which cut into whatever energy savings there were from that.
     But she has on her smiley face as she touts $500 million in tax credits to lure battery folks to Michigan and indeed next week some major announcements on that front will be released.
     "We are ahead of the curve," chimes in Greg Man the new job czar for the Granholm administration.  He and she have their eye on $2 billion in federal battery grants that the Obama administration has teed up for distribution later this spring and Michigan is at the front of the line for that, too.
       But look out for those lawmakers in Congress from the south who have it in for Michigan.  Asked if there was someway they could screw this thing up, Congressman Sandy Levin shouted out, "No," while big brother Carl tacked it, "It will not be for lack of trying."

Monday, April 6, 2009

He And She Disagree

       Although he never mentioned her by name, it's clear that President Barack Obama has two areas of disagreement with Gov. Jennifer Granholm that emerged during two Detroit TV interviews last week.
       The White House offered one on one interviews with anchors at TV-2 and TV-7.  During the exchange with Stephen Clark at WXYZ-TV, Clark noted that the governor saw a double standard in the way the president was treating Wall Street and the auto sector.
       Obama responded, "That's not a correct assessment."  He went onto to explain that on his watch there is a new head of AIG.  He also noted the leadership change at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
       On several occasions the governor has noted the double standard and again lsst week she observed that while the president was demanding more concessions from autoworkers, she felt those on Wall Street needed to take concessions as well.  She called it "tough love."
       During the one on one exchange between the president and TV-2 anchor Murray Feldman, he asked about the bankruptcy option for GM and or Chrysler.
       Recall the governor has said, "We should reject that and I hope they (White House) rejects it, too."
       Obama told Feldman he did not favor a "liquidation bankruptcy" where parts of the autos were sold off, however he said if the two automakers could not find a solution within 30 days at Chrysler and 60 at GM then you might have to "find some legal tools" to reduce the debt burden in the industry.
      In stories in the Wall Street Journal and the Bloomberg publication there's speculation about a "structured bankruptcy" that would be quicker than the usual Chapter 11 route, but the president did not use that term in his TV interview.
     The president promised in both exchanges that he would revisit Michigan noting that, "I have faith in auto workers" and "I'm thinking about them everyday…We'll be back." 

Sunday, April 5, 2009

MSU To The Rescue

         Having trashed the auto industry, let's see if anybody outside of Michigan has the guts to trash our basketball team, too.
         Michigan State University is grabbing the kind of national headlines and positive attention that the car guys would love to have but maybe, just maybe going to the NCAA Finals will create a hallow effect that helps everyone in this battered state.
         It could not have come at a better time.  To say the least this state needed the morale booster that comes with watching the Green and White.
         The auto industry is on its knees.
         State government is wallowing in a sea of red ink.
         This eight year recession is unprecedented as it continues a strangle hold on economic growth.
         Families are leaving the state every twelve minutes.
         But here come the Spartans.  If nothing else, collectively we can forget about all that other stuff.  There will plenty of time to go back to that, but for now its time to dream that impossible dream.
         Remember they said MSU could not beat number one ranked Louisville.  Wrong.
         They said  MSU would lose to a bigger and higher ranked Connecticut.20Wrong again.
         And you know what they are saying about the final game against North Carolina.  Could the pundits be wrong three times in a row?
         "Thank you Michigan State.  Thank you Detroit" a raspy voiced Tom Izzo shouted out on national TV after sending the Huskies to the showers.
           The thank you's go both ways.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Who's The Bad Guy Here?

  Here's the headline that should have come out of the president's chitchat on Monday concerning the viability of the domestic car industry:  Obama Orders More Layoffs at GM and Chrysler.
    Instead most of the coverage of President Barack Obama's auto speech focused on the ouster of Rick Wagoner, now GM's former CEO.
    Poor Rick, but what about the poor autoworkers?
    In fact when the anchor guys at TV-2 and TV-7 had a chance to cross exam the president, the first question was, "Why let Wagoner go?"
   They should have asked if Mr. Obama would shoulder the responsibility for more layoffs because he didn't like the recovery blueprints written by GM and Chrysler.
   Obviously somebody in the Obama administration concluded that the cost cutting measures the companies have already taken and were prepared to take in the future did not go far enough.
   As a result Michigan will bleed even more jobs.  The nation leading jobless rate of 12 percent will mushroom.  The only question is how high will the mushroom cloud go?
    Without admitting it, the president must have known that he was causing more job losses or he would not have installed a job recovery czar.
    Dr. Ed Montgomery came to Michigan this week with the promise of more federal aid for the soon-to-be displaced workers and the local communities that play home to auto plants and suppliers.
    Asked if he would also promise to reduce that jobless rate, Montgomery sort of smiled, paused for a moment and opined, "It would be disingenuous of me20to say tomorrow the unemployment rate is going to fade because I came out for a visit. I'm not a magic wand."
    Honest answer, but what about the day after tomorrow?  If you can't promise to lower the jobless rate, why bother?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Games We Play

   There's a little game we play up here called:  Get the Governor To Say Something Nasty About the President or GTGTSSNATP for short.
   It's usually a fruitless game for the capitol press corps  because governors know we are playing it and they don't want to get in Dutch with the Commander in Chief.
   It has worked however.  Former Gov. Bill Milliken often took the bait when talking about Tricky Dick or his felon sidekick Spiro T. Agnew author of the infamous line to describe journalists:  Nattering Nabobs of Negativism.
   Current Gov. Jennifer Granholm was never bashful about taking a swipe or two at George W.
   But alas with a democrat in the White House, she is now on her best behavior but one sensed this week, she might take the bait.
   When President Obama fired the CEO of General Motors, you could read between the lines when the governor called Rick Wagoner a "scapegoat" and she told the national media that she was "not sure it will do much good."
   She never really slapped the White House, but you could tell she was not pleased.
   Let the game begin.
   She was asked, "Do you completely support everything this president has done to the auto industry?"
   A dead-on question which she ignored.
   She waxed on about how the president wanted to help the industry, bla, bla, bla.
   However she did confess she did not like the bankruptcy option laid out by the president but that was nothing new and certainly didn't move the GTGTSSNATP needle.
   There was one last attempt as she walked out of the capitol.
   Did you support the removal of Wagoner?
   No she did not.
   Did they call you and ask for your advice?
   No they did not.
   So it was a cheap shot wasn't it?
   And the answer was?
   A smile which is very tough to put on the radio or in print.
=0 A
   Oh well, she wins.