Obama's and Granholm's Courage Pays Off for Michigan

Thus saith the Crain's:

The Detroit metropolitan area was rated seventh among U.S. metro areas in economic growth from 2009 to 2010, according to a new global study by the Washington-based Brookings Institution.


Detroit was rated 147 out of 150 during the "pre-recession" period from 1993 to 2007, then rated 146 during the "recession" period from 2007 to 2010.

In the "recovery period" from 2009 to 2010, Detroit was rated 46, and trailed just six other U.S. cities.

And to what can we credit this rise? Emphasis mine:

Ranked 46th in the world in the study, Detroit was mentioned as a metro area undergoing a recovery based on a rise in U.S. manufacturing.

Huh. Manufacturing. And they said those jobs weren't coming back. I sure as heck believed that!

But Thank Goodness our President had the guts to step in and save the auto industry during its darkest hour. Politically speaking, that may not have been the best move for him to make. But policywise, that was one of the best, most courageous decisions this President has made in his first 22 months as leader of the strongest nation on earth.

And as Governor, Jennifer Granholm has done for the last eight years what almost no other leader would do before 2003: Focus on diversifying our economy. By the time she took office, Michigan was already losing countless manufacturing jobs. And we were bearing the brunt of the economic disasters of 2001 and 2008 because our economy relied more on manufacturing than did other states' economies. But given the growth we're already seeing in Michigan in such areas as renewable energy, our outgoing Governor deserves a lot of credit for sticking her neck out and here in Michigan.

Thank you, Mr. President! Thank you, Madam Governor!


The Things for Which We'll Wait

Okay, I'll admit it: Even I vote in American Idol and Dancing with the Stars every now and then.

This week, spent a good twenty minute on the phone, trying to get through so I could vote for Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough. Unable to get through, I went ahead and voted online.

Yes, I was persistent. And for me and other fans of Jennifer and Derek, our persistence paid off.

But while many of us were willing to wait as long as it took to vote for Jennifer and Derek, or Kyle and Lacey, or That Other Couple, I wonder how many of us would have waited to vote in a 'real-world' election.

One of the few benefits of being unemployed is that if you have things to do and errands to run, you can do them during the day, while other people are at work. I've voted twelve times since I turned 18, for everything from President to School Board. Six of those times have been by absentee ballot, while the other six have been in person at a voting booth on Election Day. During each of those times I have either been unempoloyed or on summer break (and away from the job I had in college) - and what summer jobs I did manage to get, weren't during the day.

This has meant that whenever I have voted in person, I have done so during the afternoon, after the lunchtime rush and before the evening rush. Result? No waiting in line. Even this month, when I voted around 2PM on Election Day, only three of the five booths were in use when I got my ballot. On a general election day, when the weather was nice, I got to choose which of two voting booths I would use.

But here's the thing: While I haven't waited in any lines at the polling place, I would if I had to. Quite happily, in fact.

See, sometims, when we really, really, really want something, we'll be more than happy to wait as long as it takes. This morning, thousands of people lined up at shopping malls and other stores across America to get their hands on great 'doorbuster' deals. Almost a million people will stand for several hours, without food or bathroom breaks, to watch the ball drop in Times Square on New Year's Eve. Many of us wait hours to get their hands on a newly released smartphone or video game, or for the premier of the latest movie in a popular franchise (i.e. Harry Potter or Twilight).

But at other times, when we really, really, really want something, most of us can't seem to wait. It's been nearly seven months since I graduated from college, yet so far, no full-time job - despite applying for countless jobs, making who-knows-how-many follow-up calls, having quite a few interviews. With student loan bills coming due soon, I am not all that patient. But other people are even less patient; I'm speaking of those who wish things would change faster than they have. Never mind that it took eight years for things to get this bad, and that this kind of change takes many years.

But sometimes, someone else can say something much better than I can. I'd like to direct your attention to this op-ed that appeared in the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun. It's by Louise Plachta, whose husband served eight years as president of my alma mater, Central Michigan University.

I am impressed that students would stage an all-night vigil to be the first to purchase "Call of Duty: Black Ops," as reported in Central Michigan University's school newspaper, and with the long lines of moviegoers who waited for hours outside and inside Celebration Cinema's theatre to be among the first to view the latest Harry Potter movie. What fortitude! What stamina! What excitement!

I don't remember ever waiting in line that long for anything and I don't have an issue with those who did and do. I just don't have the patience or desire to do so. I'd be thinking of all the other things I could be doing, i.e., sleeping. It's just that after reading those stories I thought of the long line that I encountered on a recent Saturday when Sacred Heart Church hosted the Compassionate Community Network's "Food Truck."

Hm. On the one hand, you have these people who will do anything to get their hands on a video game or a good seat in a movie theater. Then you have all these other people who will do anything to get their hands on... some food.

Paging Dr. Maslow, Dr. Abraham Maslow.

Hopefully by this time next year, I will have a well-paying job. And maybe I'll be one of those waiting in line at 5AM to get my hands on something.

But for now, I'm just glad I'm not waiting for the basic necessities of life.



Found this online - and I had to share it with you!

I was at the corner grocery store buying some early potatoes... I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily apprising a basket of freshly picked green peas.

I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes.

Pondering the peas, I couldn't help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller (the store owner) and the ragged boy next to me.

'Hello Barry, how are you today?'

'H'lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus' admirin' them peas. They sure look good.'

'They are good, Barry. How's your Ma?'

'Fine. Gittin' stronger alla' time.'

'Good. Anything I can help you with?'

'No, Sir. Jus' admirin' them peas.'

'Would you like to take some home?' Asked Mr. Miller.

'No, Sir. Got nuthin' to pay for 'em with.'

'Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?'

'All I got's my prize marble here.'

'Is that right? Let me see it' said Miller.

'Here 'tis. She's a dandy.'

'I can see that. Hmm mmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?' the store owner asked.

'Not zackley but almost.'

'Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble'.. Mr. Miller told the boy.

'Sure will. Thanks Mr. Miller.'

Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me..

With a smile she said, 'There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes, or whatever.

When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn't like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one, when they come on their next trip to the store.'

I left the store smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A short time later I moved to Colorado , but I never forgot the story of this man, the boys, and their bartering for marbles.

Several years went by, each more rapid than the previous one. Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I was there learned that Mr. Miller had died.. They were having his visitation that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them. Upon arrival at the mortuary we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could.

Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts...all very professional looking. They approached Mrs. Miller, standing composed and smiling by her husband's casket.

Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and
moved on to the casket. Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one; each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary awkwardly, wiping his eyes.

Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and reminded her of the story from those many years ago and what she had told me about her husband's bartering for marbles. With her eyes glistening, she took my hand and led me to the casket.

'Those three young men who just left were the boys I told you about.

They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim 'traded' them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size....they came to pay their debt.'

'We've never had a great deal of the wealth of this world,' she confided, 'but right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho ..'

With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three exquisitely shined red marbles.

The Moral:
We will not be remembered by our words, but by our kind deeds. Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath.

Today I wish you a day of ordinary miracles ~ A fresh pot of coffee you didn't make yourself...

An unexpected phone call from an old friend.... Green stoplights on your way to work....

The fastest line at the grocery store....

A good sing-along song on the radio...

Your keys found right where you left them.


Coming Soon to a Ballot Near You, Part I: Comeback Kids

Welcome to a post-2010 election, pre-2012 election miniseries titled "Coming Soon to a Ballot Near You." Part I focuses on which candidates might run for which offices in the near future.

With each election, there are winners and losers. But many people often forget that those who lose one election, often come back to win later on. In fact almost every successful politician has lost at least one election in his or her lifetime:

  • Barack Obama was soundly defeated in a run for Congress in 2000.
  • George W. Bush missed out on the chance to serve in Congress in 1978.
  • Bill Clinton lost a race for Congress in 1972, and lost his re-election bid for Governor of Arkansas in 1980 (before coming back two years later and winning re-election each time until his election as President).
  • Georhe H.W. Bush lost a race for US Senate - to Lloyd Bentsen, the same Lloyd Bentsen who ran for Vice President 18 years later while Bush was running for (and elected) President.
  • Ronald Reagan ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1976, but lost to sitting President Gerald Ford.
  • Jimmy Carter lost a race for Georgia State Senate in 1962.
  • Also in 1962, Richard Nixon lost his race to be governor of California just two years after his narrow loss to JFK.
  • Lyndon Johnson lost his bid to be the Democratioc presidential nominee in 1960. Of course, JFK picked him to be his running mate, and the rest is history.
  • Franklin Roosevelt was denied the Vice Presidency in 1920, twelve years before being elected President.
Meanwhile, here in Michigan:

  • Five of the last six unsuccessful nominees for Michigan Lieutenant Governor are currently serving in elected office: Olivia Maynard (1990) is a University of Michigan Regent; Debbie Stabenow (1994) is a US Senator; Loren Bennett (2002) is a Wayne County Commissioner; Ruth Johnson (2006) is Oakland County Clerk and will soon be Secretary of State; and Brenda Lawrence (2010) is mayor of Southfield. Note that three of those five have been elected to statewide office.
  • Congressman Gary Peters originally sought to be Governor during the 2002 campaign, but dropped out because he diodn't have nearly enough support. He narrowly lost the race for Attorney General that year - the first Democrat to lose a race for that office in 50 years.
  • Attorney General-elect Bill Schuette lost a race for US Senate against Carl Levin in 1990.
  • State Senator-elect Tom Casperson ran for Congress and got trounced by Bart Stupak in 2008.
  • Tim Walberg is now only 2 for 4 in Congressional elections, losing in 2004 and 2008.
  • Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard was re-elected in 2008 after losing the US Senate race to Debbie Stabenow two years later.
  • Congressman-elect Hansen Clarke finished a distant third in the 2005 race for Mayor of Detroit. Kwame Kilpatrick did much better than him.
Okay, I think I've made my point.

So who are some of the 2010 runners-up who we may see again in 2012, 2014, or beyond? Well, here are some of the people who had good runs in 2010, and where I think they should run in the future:

  • Virg Bernero: A race for Congress against Mike Rogers (if they are still in the same district). There has been a lot of grumbling that Democrats haven't run a striong candidate since Dianne Byrum's narrow loss in 2000.
  • Brenda Lawrence: A run for Gary Peters's Congressional seat if and when Peters steps aside (more on him in a minute). Or perhaps another run for Oakland County Executive -- she'll have better name recognition than she did in 2008.
  • Jocelyn Benson: Another run for Secretary of State in 2014, or perhaps spend some time in the Legislature while another person runs against Johnson in 2014. If Johnson wins in 2014, then Benson could run again in 2018. While I'd be surprised to see a Democrat besides Benson elected Secretary of State in 2014 (at least if office-hopper Johnson runs again), if that does happen again, Benson could run again in 2022, when she'll still be only 45.
  • Mark Schauer: Another run for Congress in whichever Congressional district he finds himself after redistricting.
  • Pat Miles: Another run for Congress in 2012, or State Senate or Attorney General in 2014.
  • David LaGrand: Mayor of Grand Rapids in 2011 (if George Heartwell decides against a third term) or Kent County Prosecutor in 2012.
  • Lupe Ramos-Montigny: Another run for State Board of Education in 2012.

Among those who did win in 2010 - and yes, there are some - I see some bright futures for these fine folks:

  • Gary Peters and Hansen Clarke: Re-election in 2012, then in 2014, one can run for Governor while the other runs for US Senate. (I'd be shocked if Carl Levin ran for another term in 2014.)
  • Gretchen Whitmer (Senate Democratic Leader): Congress in 2012 and/or 2014, or Attorney General in 2014.
  • Glenn Anderson: (Senate Democratic Whip): Congress against Thaddeus McCotter (we almost beat McCotter in 2008) or Governor or Lieutenant Governor in 2014.
  • Richard Hammel (House Democratic Leader): Congress when Dale Kildee retires.
  • Kate Segal (House Democratic Whip): Re-election in 2012, then State Senate against Mike Nofs in 2014.
  • Robert Ficano: Governor in 2014 or Congress against Thaddeus McCotter in 2012 or 2014.


Bloodbath post-mortem

This has been The. Worst. Election. Of. My. Lifetime. Worse than 1994. Much worse than 2002 or 2004. I didn't think it would be this bad. I truly believed that more of the first-time voters from 2008 would show up again. Sadly, this 'enthusiasm gap' was all too real. Damn shame.

  • Davis becomes the third incumbent Justice in Michigan history to lose re-election. It now appears that incumbency does not carry with it the same advantages that it did just four years ago.
  • Republicans swept the statewide education board spots for the first time since 1984. (Dems swept them in 1986, 2006, and 2008, while 1988-2004 each side won some seats).
  • Even Colleen McNamara - who won her seat on the MSU Board in 1994 of all years - has lost.
  • Their 21-seat gain in the state House is the biggest for any party since... actually, I don't even have a clue when.
  • There will be more Republicans in the State House and the State Senate than at any time in at least 20 years (and probably much longer).
  • This marks the first time since 1994 that Democrats have not been able to flip a single US Senate seat from red to blue.
  • There will be more Republicans in the House than at any time since Truman's first term (when my parents were not even a year old).
  • Democrats have held at least one of the top four statewide offices (Governor, LG, Secretary of State, AG) since after the 1948 election. Not anymore.
As for why this all happened, it can all be summed up in three words: Turnout, turnout, turnout. Of course, there are a myriad of factors that go beyond turnout, but let me just say that turnout was horrible where I lived. It was 48% in Kent County, vs. 60% in 2006 and 53% in 2002.

And most of the drop-off is from Dems staying home. Republicans didn't getting many more votes than they usually do. For all this talk about how Snyder apoparently appeals to moderates, indies, and Dems, he's only getting about a quarter million more votes than conservative hero DeVos. Eileen Weiser didn't get many more votes in her election to the State Board of Education than she did four years ago.

My read on the election is that it wasn't about Republicans being more energized than before, though that was a bit of a factor. It wasn't about independents and others changing their minds and voting for Republicans two/four/six years after voting for Democrats, though a few probably did. It was about too many Democrats not voting, period.

Too many Democrats/Obama supporters have become cynical about the process. "Where's my change I voted for?" they wonder, and they see no reason to vote - so they decide not to.

It really comes down to that age-old problem Democrats have had: Messaging. Republicans kept consistently hammering home the message of lower taxes, less spending, less government, and more jobs. And while my belief is that 'less spending' and 'more jobs' are two ideas that conflict with each other, we all know that it doesn't really matter in the minds of John and Jane Voter.

There's lots and lots and lots of blame to go around. Certainly the President himself is partly responsible, but I'm more apt to blame certain people in his administration for not showing him a better way (since a President is VERY busy and can't do it by himself). Rahm's departure last month was a start.

You know what they say: Lower turnout favors Republicans. And "bad politicians are elected by good citizens who don't vote." That's what happened here.

There are still more of us than there are of them, but too many of us stayed home. Hence, this bloodbath. I believe we will look back at this election as a 'low water mark,' if you will. I don't think we will have a worse election than this for many years/decades. Hopefully we can learn from this, figure out what to do next, and do our best to swing the pendulum back our way.



  • Snyder 55%, Bernero 41%.
  • Benson 51%, Johnson 46%.
  • Schuette 53%, Leyton 45%.
  • Democrats maintain US Senate majority, 53-47.
  • Republicans win control of US House, 222-213.
  • Republicans maintain State Senate majority, 21-17.
  • Democrats maintain State House majority, 59-51 (net loss of 8).
  • Unfortunately, I predict that Young and Kelly will win the Supreme Court seats.
  • Proposal 1 is defeated, 37-63%.
  • Proposal 2 passes, 71-29%.
  • In US Senate races, of Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wisconsin, Democrats will win 4 of those 6.
  • Democrats will win 3 of the 4 hotly contested House races in Michigan - in the 1st, 3rd, 7th, and 9th districts.
  • Either Florida or Minnesota will be subjected to another recount this time, in their Governor's race.
  • Turnout in Michigan: 49%.