Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bishop By The Numbers

Attitude. Mike Bishop recently put his on display for the entire state to see. Again. With the Michigan economy on edge (putting it politely), and the clock running down on the 94th edition of the Michigan Legislature, Bishop inexplicably decides that if things get too hard for him to handle, more vacation is definitely in order.

“We don’t want to stick around for non-essential items,” Bishop told reporters. “We want to get the job done and get out of town before the mischief-making begins.”

Bishop indicated that they would stay longer than the (tentative) nine days they are scheduled for this month, as long as they are "productive", meaning, "do what Senate Republicans want" or they shut it down. Any legislator that wants to move items of importance to them (and their constituents) better meet the approval of Bishop, or be branded as a “troublemaker”. Perhaps we should start the “Mark Schauer Memorial Mischief Maker Award” for the legislator who succeeds in getting Bishop to throw a fit and walk out.

But until then, Mike will stay as long as Mike deems it’s “productive” to do so, rest of the lawmakers and the state be damned. Problem is, Mike Bishop wouldn't know "productive" if it hit him upside the head with a two-by-four. Thanks to the handy numbers presented to us by the Michigan Legislative Website, we can check out the 94th’s production, as of 10/16/2008. Let’s first compare the number of completed Public Acts of this legislature to previous legislatures. These are the laws that were signed, sealed and delivered to the governor for approval or rejection. Here are the basic numbers:

And we can have some fun with the Excel chart maker. Pretty! Or not, if you expect to get the most bang out of your taxpayer buck:

Quite a drop on the bars, numbers down by 50%. Now before anyone looks at their feet and mutters something about "term limits make us stupid", keep in mind previous lawmakers were term-limited as well, and they somehow found a way to keep things moving, even if they only made Granholm wear out all her red pens with the vetoes she had to issue. We can assume, however, that part of the explanation may rest with the fact that this is a politically divided legislature, so we need to take a look at the Senate production only. Here is Bishop’s version of “getting the job done”:

53% of the bills introduced were passed in the Senate, a percentage well below previous Republican-controlled Senate sessions. But the most revealing number is the final percentage on enrolled bills, showing us that Bishop doesn’t play well with others.

The enrolled bills are the ones that are the final copy of a bill passed by the Legislature, both House and Senate, which are submitted to the Governor for signature. Of the 1656 bills introduced in the Senate, only 16% made it to the point were they could be reconciled with the House. Divided legislature? Sure. But here is another fun statistic - Granholm only vetoed an average of 7% of legislation passed by the previous legislatures, which, if you remember, were under Republican control.

The point of all this is - those Republicans found a way to get the job done. Bishop, well, you have to wonder why he insists on more vacation when he can’t touch the production of those who have gone before him.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

May 23rd 2008

May 23rd 2008

Just in case you have forgotten...

Turkeys Away

"As God as my witness... I thought turkeys could fly."

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

NFL Week 13

Tennessee at Detroit
Seattle at Dallas
Arizona at Philadelphia
Miami at St. Louis
NY Giants at Washington
New Orleans at Tampa Bay
Indianapolis at Cleveland

San Francisco at Buffalo
Baltimore at Cincinnati
Carolina at Green Bay

Atlanta at San Diego
Denver at NY Jets
Pittsburgh at New England
Kansas City at Oakland
Chicago at Minnesota
Jacksonville at Houston

9-7. 126-66. Sinking fast!

Last Quarter

Last Quarter

Marking the end of something started long ago in another place, another time, another life.

The set is now complete.

All I Want For Xmas Is...

Check this baby out.

The Canon EOS 5D Mark II began shipments to U.S. dealers Tuesday, possibly ushering in a new era in digital imaging: a device that's both a first-rate digital still camera and a first-class high-definition video camera.

As a digital SLR (DSLR), the Canon 5D Mark II has a 21-megapixel sensor with a resolution of up to 5,616 x 3,744 pixels. Quick math: That's a 56-inch x 37-inch, 100 dpi wall poster, a 19-inch by 12-inch magazine page, at 300 dpi resolution. The Canon EOS Mark II has a $2,699 suggested price for the body and $3,499 with a 24-105mm IS f/4 image stabilized lens.

On the video side, the Canon 5D Mark II shoots 1,920 x 1,080 progressive scan video, or at VGA resolution. According to the Canon 5D manual, the camera uses sensor cropping while shooting video, describing a masked area for framing shots, that may be confusing to some users.

And more from the full review-

If the camera has a perfect niche, it's for bloggers working for websites paying enough to allow them to buy expensive cameras. (None currently exist.) Now you can carry just one camera for both stills and videos, switch back and forth, and in the middle of filming, press the shutter button to take a still photo. Video pauses then resumes about a second later. It will also likely find a strong following among wedding photographers.

I expect this technology to filter down to the D-Series eventually, so I can wait. Not like I have much choice on that anyway. :-)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Did Paulson Just Raid the Cookie Jar for Another $800 Billion?

Or, when is a "loan" not a "bailout"?

Seriously confused here. Someone explain this one to me, please.

The government introduced a pair of new programs Tuesday that will provide $800 billion to help unfreeze the market for consumer debt and to make mortgage loans cheaper and more available.

"Will provide"? Go on.

The Fed program for consumer debt will lend up to $200 billion to the holders of securities backed by various types of consumer loans such as credit cards, auto and student loans. The goal is to provide greater demand for these securities as a way of lowering interest rates consumers are paying and to make these loans more available.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson had signaled that the government was working on this new program. It will be supported by $20 billion of credit protection provided by the $700 billion government rescue fund.

The Fed also said Tuesday it will buy up to $600 billion in mortgage-backed assets in a separate attempt to deal with the financial crisis.

The Fed said it will purchase up to $100 billion in direct obligations from mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as well as the Federal Home Loan Banks. It also will purchase another $500 billion in mortgage-backed securities, pools of mortgages that are bundled together and sold to investors.

$700 billion here, $800 billion there, pretty soon it all adds up to real money.

No reaction out of the market about this, so perhaps I am missing something here, but it sure sounds like they once again just opened the cash drawer to the banking industry and said "have at it". While I understand the importance of getting consumer lending flowing again, I thought that is what the original $700 billion was for.

They can do this without Congressional approval?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hey Steny. Got Your Justification Right Here.

Question of the Day: Is Congress responsible for obtaining the knowledge they need to make sound decisions about fiscal policy? Or does it really come down to putting on the best dog-and pony show for lawmakers who will spend their time talking about the broken cup holder in their car while they nervously glance at their watches so they can catch the plane back to their latest six week vacation?

I must say, as a citizen who is sitting in the state that currently has a gun pointed to its head over this issue, I'm starting to get more than a little offended by the attitude coming out of Capitol Hill.

"My expectation is that we are going to see something, that the auto companies are going to respond in a way that I think will give confidence to the Congress and to the American public that we need to assist these companies," said the House's second-ranking Democrat, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland. Asked in a broadcast interview about passing a bailout in December, Hoyer replied, "I'm hopeful that we will come up with the information that will justify doing so."

Here is your info, Congress, right in the same story I pulled that quote from. And if you can't get past the corporate jets to see just what is at stake here...

Detroit's car makers employ nearly a quarter-million workers, and more than 730,000 other workers produce materials and parts that go into cars. If just one of the automakers declared bankruptcy, some estimates put U.S. job losses next year as high as 2.5 million.

... then you better pray that Obama rides in on his horse and saves this economy, because those people who turned out in droves to turn this state and this country blue are probably not going to be around next time to keep you in your cushy jobs and your majority status. Call it a hunch.

Is that justification enough? Or do you need some more facts and figures as to why this is so important?

Better yet, why don't you do the homework on this and get back to us. You've got a couple weeks off to get caught up. See you in December.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Michigan Forecast: Mostly Cloudy with a Chance of Recovery by 2011

Watching the figures from the U of M's 56th Annual Economic Outlook Conference come out in real time this morning. Today the focus is on Michigan, and the news is pretty grim; unemployment expected to peak at 10.5 and hover over 10% for a couple of years, and the number of jobs lost is staggering.

Rick Haglund had something already prepared and offers more proof of why we desperately need to diversify our state's economy away from the auto industry.

The state will lose 108,000 jobs in 2009 and 24,000 in 2010, resulting in a full decade of job losses for auto industry-dependent Michigan.

"The confluence of recession in the U.S. economy and the tenuous position of the domestic nameplate automakers is a troublesome gateway to the year ahead," said U-M economist George Fulton. "Regardless of how we feel about it, stability in the state's core industry is essential for the economy as a whole to grow and prosper."

This is assuming that Congress will pass a loan package for the automakers of course. If they don't, all bets are off.

Fulton and fellow economist Joan Crary predicted that Michigan, which has lost 74,000 manufacturing jobs over the past two years, will lose 53,000 more manufacturing jobs in 2009 and another 24,000 the year after.

Nearly two-thirds of these job losses will be in the auto industry, which by the end of 2010 will employ less than a third of the workers it had just a decade earlier.

Forecasters are predicting growth in education and health care, and see a turnaround by 2011.

"We expect that 2010, although not an especially good year, will nevertheless be much better, with employment declining at a more modest rate," Crary and Fulton wrote in their forecast. "And an extrapolation of our forecast suggests that we may see modest job gains in 2011."

But as any prognosticator will tell you, outside influences can and will change this outlook. Like it or not, we are tied to the fortunes of the national economy. We were on our way to recovery until this wave hit us; just as recently as August, these numbers weren't as drastic.

This national downturn and loss of local revenue means our state budget will take a huge hit. These numbers will be finalized based on the forecast released today, and earlier this week, it wasn't looking good. The budget battle of '07 put us on solid ground for '08 and provided some carry-over to stabilize '09 - but massive cuts are once again in the mix, and there is no way this Legislature (or the next) will have the guts to raise revenue for '10. So, kiss your extra local government and school money goodbye.

With the school's economists saying the nation is in recession and no upturn is likely until mid-2009 or later, Olson said it's clear the state won't be getting as much tax revenue as predicted at the May revenue estimating conference.

He has been telling state senators to expect a $450 million to $900 million revenue shortfall in the current budget year, which started last month. He said some of the deficit will be covered by around $400 million carried over from the past fiscal year, and added that $650 million could come to Michigan from a stimulus package Congress is expected to pass after Barack Obama becomes president in January.

But Olson said the state can't rely on those one-time fixes and has to make cuts or raise taxes this year to avoid dealing with a "massive hole" in the fiscal 2010 budget, which starts Oct. 1.

Granholm has already told state department heads to get their ducks in a row and be prepared to make cuts - we will find out just how much soon enough. Gear up for yet another battle in the Legislature over who gets the ax this time.

If anything, this shows we need to continue to position ourselves for the future. That means retaining whatever quality of life we can right now, and pursuing every possible opportunity to bring alternative energy companies and other high-growth industries to this state. One industry is swamping our boat, and if we are smart, we will never let that happen again.

Pelosi and Reid Release Text of Demands to Automakers

This reads like an overdue notice from a utility company. They give a shot to Bush and the Federal Reserve for their failure to act, which was a nice touch, and then proclaim "it is critical" that the automakers meet the December 2nd deadline so they can pass around the information to various agencies for review. Did they think that the automakers would stall them off? (would they dare?)

Here is the info that the companies must provide to Congress:

· Provide a forthright, documented assessment of the auto companies’ current operating cash position, short-term liquidity needs to continue operations as a going-concern, and how they will meet the financing needs associated with the plan to ensure the companies’ long-term viability as they retool for the future;

· Provide varying estimates of the terms of the loan requested with varying assumptions including that of automobile sales at current rates, at slightly improved rates, and at worse rates;

· Provide for specific measures designed to ensure transparency and accountability, including regular reporting to, and information-sharing with, any federal government oversight mechanisms established to safeguard taxpayer investments;

· Protect taxpayers by granting the most senior status for any government loans provided, ensuring that taxpayers get paid back first;

· Assure that taxpayers benefit as corporate conditions improve and shareholder value increases through the provision of warrants or other mechanisms;

· Bar the payment of dividends and excessive executive compensation, including bonuses and golden parachutes by companies receiving taxpayer assistance;

· Include proposals to address the payment of health care and pension obligations;

· Demonstrate the auto companies’ ability to achieve the fuel efficiency requirements set forth in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, and become a long-term global leader in the production of energy-efficient advanced technology vehicles; and

· Require that government loans be immediately callable if long-term plan benchmarks are not met.

Sounds reasonable and doable. I would imagine that the manufacturers already can answer a lot of this with the plans they already have in place, anything else the lawyers can probably provide a boatload of legalese for Congress to chew on - although that always leaves open the possibility that this can get more complicated that it needs to be.

"Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter."

Hey, no problem, Nancy. Glad to do it to save 3 million American jobs and the national economy. Our people will be in touch soon.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Deal Reached on Auto Bailout?

Reports are starting to emerge...

Auto state senators reached a deal on a last-ditch agreement to provide $25 billion in quick aid to automakers today, but it was unclear if the Senate and House would approve it before they adjourn for the year, congressional aides said.

A press conference is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. today.

Sen. Carl Levin , D-Detroit, has been negotiating with Republican Sens. Kit Bond of Missouri and George Voinovich of Ohio on a plan, favored by Republicans and the White House that would draw the money from the $25 billion retooling program, which was approved in September. The companies would be required to adopt limits on executive compensation and bonuses and wouldn't be able to use the funds to pay dividends. An oversight board would be appointed to watch how the money is spent.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: CNBC reports that this won't fly in the House, and that they are looking at coming back in December to work things out. Will link when available.
UPDATE 2: December it is - Pelosi is on the TV asking for a plan from the automakers before they go forward.

Democratic leaders have decided to put off a bailout vote for the auto industry until December and insist that the Detroit Three first come up with a plan showing how the money would help transform their industry.

Barney Frank is pointing out that the banking industry bailout ruined it for everybody - and he is right.

See y'all after Thanksgiving, and we can do this dance all over again.

NFL Week 12

This week I remember!

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh
Minnesota at Jacksonville
Philadelphia at Baltimore

New England at Miami
Chicago at St. Louis
Carolina at Atlanta
Houston at Cleveland
San Francisco at Dallas
Tampa Bay at Detroit

Buffalo at Kansas City
NY Jets at Tennessee
Oakland at Denver

NY Giants at Arizona
Washington at Seattle
Indianapolis at San Diego

Green Bay at New Orleans

9-7. Ack. 117-59.

Archer Not Running For Governor in 2010

Another bombshell. I really need to stop listening to media speculation, because I thought for sure that Dennis was in the running.

Dennis Archer, the city's former mayor and a former state Supreme Court justice, ended speculation this morning and announced he will not run for governor.

Speaking at a press conference, Archer said a campaign would involve giving up too much of what he loves -- family and law.

"There will be a need for shared pain and shared sacrifice," he said.

That puts Cherry in the catbird seat for now.

2010 is a long way off. I have no desire to play "endless campaign season", and hope we keep our attention on solving Michigan's current problems rather than always looking at who is running in the next cycle.

Yeah, I'm dreaming, I know, because I do it too. But still...

Lt. Governor Cherry Answers Romney in Today's NYT

Anyone see Mittens on the TeeVee this morning? He's suddenly the new Republican face of the "let them just die" crowd. Why Mitt is the go-to guy on this is not really clear - after all, he hasn't lived in Michigan for nearly 40 years, and has nothing to do with the current auto industry. On top of that, the guy has no idea of how to fix this problem, other than to take it out on the workers of America.

"Don't just write a check," Romney told Matt Lauer of the Today Show. Instead, without providing details, Romney said the government should help the companies "shed their costs immediately."

What costs could they possibly shed, Mitt? Materials? Energy? Anyone giving that stuff away for free?

Of course not. Mitt has his eye on making the "little guy" pay the price.

In an opinion piece in the New York Times on Wednesday, Romney suggested the companies seek bankruptcy protection, a move that would allow them to restructure and trim billions in labor, pension and health-care costs. He also advocated selling excess real estate.

"These costs have to go," Romney said on Thursday morning. But he did not talk about the impact those decisions would have on hundreds of thousands of workers and retirees who depend on the automakers.

Of course he didn't. When do Republicans ever stop to consider how their slash-and-burn policies affect the people that they serve? They don't. That's the hard part, and they will not do the heavy lifting when it comes to solving actual problems. Ask Bush, DeVos, Shelby, Bishop, or any of the Free Lunch Crowd that got us here in the first place - destroy first, complain about the mess later, but never, ever, provide a solution. Mitt is just a pale imitation of the philosophy that we just got done throwing out of office, but for some reason, the media takes him seriously on this issue. Go figure.

John Cherry answered him today, citing the new Michigan unemployment numbers, the projected loss of 2.5 million jobs nationwide, and the crushing economic figures of the "loss of $125 billion in personal income, $17 billion in Social Security receipts and $20 billion in personal income taxes" to the American economy.

Nonetheless, bankruptcy advocates like Mr. Romney would pile these kinds of losses onto the shoulders of a nation already struggling under the weight of record mortgage foreclosures, a recessionary slowdown across economic sectors, a credit crunch and decreasing global demand for American products.

There are no human benefits to Mr. Romney’s you’re-on-your-own approach, only continued loss of jobs, homes and health care for millions of people.

A bankruptcy in the auto industry will cripple our economy and worsen the human toll of our current economic challenges.

Now is not the time for Mr. Romney or his supporters in Congress to advocate for experiments with intriguing financial techniques on some grand scale. It is time to work cooperatively on a solution that invests in security for American workers and in our technological strength.

Yes, Mitt, let's let the adults handle the problem now, OK? We realize that probably excludes a lot of members of Congress, but we are hoping that cooler heads can prevail here and find a rational solution to this issue. Burning down the entire house isn't it.


Janet Napolitano

... is reportedly being tapped to lead Homeland Security. Here's Janet in Denver. I always thought she seemed pretty cool - although I was kind of hoping she would take on McCain in 2010 for Senate.

I wish I could have stayed at this vantage point for the two nights I was at the Pepsi Center. This was taken from the aisle way that separated the floor seating from the bowl. I was waiting for my governor to lead her town hall segment on energy, having gotten permission to enter the center aisle and get closer to the stage when she came on. Until then, I (and a bunch of other photogs) jockeyed for position in that row, fighting to stand in one place in the massive crush of people trying to move around. In hindsight, I think the Pepsi Center was actually too small for the number of folks and media that they tried to get in there; by designating the whole arena as "floor", you had a number in the bowl area seating that came down to the actual floor, and that made for an almost paralyzing congestion.

Anyway, at first, they let us stay. Then, they came and kicked us out, and you should have heard the arguments that some of those guys put up when it came to leaving. I'm pretty good at crowd-surfing, having spent so much time on the floor of Wings Stadium for general admission rock concerts, so I could move in and out fairly well. I did get some good shots from here - Napolitano, Leahy, Hoyer, Boxer, and eventually the Governor, but after that it was back to the Michigan seats to wait on Hillary.

I'm revisiting the pictures from Denver from time to time. It helps to put some distance from the event, and then go back and look at them with fresh eyes, so I will probably add more to the collections in the future as I find new things to publish.

All I know is - I wish I would have taken more. :-)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Michigan's Possible Nuclear Winter

Brooks Patterson used those words to describe what will happen to Michigan should one or all of the Big Three go under.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said communities and schools would be devastated without the automakers. The county northwest of Detroit -- one of the nation's most affluent -- is home to Chrysler's sprawling headquarters, GM's Technical Center campus and a slew of auto plants and foreign and domestic suppliers that employ more than 40,000 people.

"If GM or Chrysler goes under, or both go under ... it will be a nuclear winter. We'll lose tens of thousands of jobs," Patterson predicted.

You think, well, that's just Brooks running his mouth again. That is the problem with Patterson; he tends to, let's say, exaggerate quite a bit. He's "colorful". No big deal.

Except Jack Lessenberry used the same description - and it wasn't in the Metro Times, where he tends to let loose.

Last night, I got a copy of the Center for Automotive Research’s new report on what it would mean to our economy if one or more of our domestic automakers were to go out of business.

What it reminded me of was the reports that used to describe what the United States would look like after a nuclear war. We are talking about millions of unemployed. Michigan would suffer far worse than any other state.

In today's Metro Times, Jack spells it out clearly, and this time he used the words "Great Depression" at the end. He concedes to the past mistakes of the automakers, but also correctly points out the actions of Republicans in Congress seem ludicrous in the face of the potential disaster of "near-instant loss of almost 3 million jobs nationwide". Take it away, Jack-

Incredibly, Congress is balking at using less than 5 percent of the bailout money to save this crucial manufacturing sector of our economy. That is, the Republicans in the current lame-duck session are the ones trying to do us in. Despite his party having been smeared in this month's elections, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama basically said Detroit could go impregnate itself.

"The financial problem facing the Big Three is not a national problem, but their problem. The legacy of the uncompetitive structure of its manufacturing and labor force," he said.

What that really means is that he hates unions; his state voted overwhelmingly against President-elect Obama; and he couldn't care less about what happens to any goddamn Dee-troit.

Will Congress allow itself to be bullied by the White House and Republicans that would love to hang this disaster around the necks of Democrats, seeing as how the full fallout will hit next year when the Democrats have control of government? That is the 25 billion dollar question. Shelby couldn't be more wrong when he says it's not "national problem" - that is what he wants you to believe in an effort achieve his goals. He's either being deliberately obtuse, or he's lying. An analysis today spells out in detail how many states are affected and what they stand to lose in both jobs and dollars - including Shelby's own state of Alabama, which receives around $2 billion from Ford.

While the automakers are often portrayed as a Michigan industry, more than half the states, ranging from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from the borders of Mexico and Canada, would lose more than 10,000 direct auto company and dealer jobs if the Big Three go under; with suppliers added, the number is likely to be more than 30,000 jobs in each of those states.

You really need to read the whole story to get the entire scope of what this means to states across the nation; but once again, Michigan will be Ground Zero of a Big Three collapse.

A doomsday scenario would put 157,000 Michigan residents currently employed by the Big Three out of work, plus an estimated 300,000 more who work for auto suppliers.

Granholm claims 400,000 jobs lost since the year 2000; now we are talking over 400,000 workers within a year if we get the full impact. These workers could eventually be absorbed by anyone who survives collapse, either domestic or international, but that hole will take us years to climb out of. What happens in the meantime will make all the problems of the past few years seem like a walk in the park.

Kathy Barks Hoffman gives us a bit of historical perspective from the early 80's, when unemployment shot up during a recession that hit the automakers exceptionally hard. Michigan experienced a decline of 2% a year in jobs from 1979-1983, and for comparison, we have experienced a decline of 5% overall from 2001-2008.

Back then, state unemployment nearly doubled from an annual rate of 7.9 percent in 1979 to 15.6 percent in 1982, including one month -- November -- where it hit 16.9 percent.

The auto woes caused state general fund revenues to drop nearly 7 percent in a single year from fiscal 1980 to '81, a loss of $335 million -- or $2 billion in today's dollars, according to Jay Wortley, senior economist for the nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency.

Michigan's automotive workforce is currently at 3.6% of our total employment. (another report puts it at over 10%) A failure of the Big Three is expected to push Michigan back into the double-digits in unemployment in very short order, and $2 billion is roughly the size of the budget deficit we fought so hard to overcome in 2007. This comes on top of reports that put our current budget deficit anywhere from $300 million - $600 million, (and even up to $1 billion dollars, if you believe MIRS). What does that all mean? It means that Mike Bishop just might get to make his cuts after all. And then some. Quality of life in this state will be non-existent. Kiss your schools, your cops, your health care, all that we fought so hard to keep, goodbye.

You can throw numbers around all day, paint all the possible scenarios, but in the end, it all adds up to Congress throwing Michigan into in disaster like we have never seen before. "Nuclear winter" is not an exaggeration this time, and quicker than you can say "Hello Governor Cox!", we will bear the brunt of this Congressional cowardice – and whatever fallout that entails. They can point to the past mistakes of the Big Three all they want, but does it make any sense to make Michigan, and the entire country behind it, pay this kind of price?

Brace yourselves.

Happy Birthday Dad!


One of your favorites.

Hope you have a great birthday!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Just So We Are Clear

The word from the US Senate Democrats today-

Joe Lieberman: Yes!

Millions of working people and the precarious state of the American economy: Eh. Not so much.

Now, I wasn't all that bent out of shape about what they did with Traitor Joe, although I'm not sure how any Democrat in their right mind could ever trust him again, but hey, I don't have to work with the guy, and there were much more important issues on the table this week. Like, you know, stopping the slide into the deep, dark recession that we are headed for, that we might already be in. Seems you might want to alleviate that. You would think, anyway.

But when you take into account the news...

The Democrats' plan to carve out $25 billion from the $700 billion Wall Street rescue package was all but dead Tuesday, while the Senate's top Republican endorsed the White House call to rewrite the rules speeding up the Energy Department's retooling program.

... that some Senate Democrats weren't all that interested in saving 3 million American jobs...

Even Democratic allies of the auto industry like Sen. Claire McKaskill, D-Mo., declined to endorse the proposals to shift $25 billion from the Troubled Asset Recovery Program. Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., also said he was undecided. "The Republicans seem to be pretty united against it," McKaskill said. She wants to support it but has asked to see the financial records of the Big Three first. "At a minimum I want to see cash flow. How quickly this money is going to go away and what it is going to be used for."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said there wasn't enough support to get over the 60 vote hurdle to end debate. She said she didn't support the bailout.

... and realizing that they essentially caved in to the White House and Republican demands on this issue...

"We'd prefer that Congress take the responsible, bipartisan route of using the existing $25 billion in the auto loan program to assist automakers while insisting that the firms make the difficult choices to make themselves viable instead of raiding the TARP program for an extra $25 billion," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said.

... and couldn't muster the votes for get a $25B “raid” from the $350B that is just going to sit there anyway until Obama shows up...

The Bush administration told congressional aides it won't ask lawmakers to release $350 billion remaining as part of the $700 billion U.S. financial- rescue package, people familiar with the matter said.

The administration of President George W. Bush ends in less than 10 weeks, and a delay in submitting a request to lawmakers would leave it to President-elect Barack Obama to tap remaining funds in the bailout fund.

... you start to wonder whether the UAW should have campaigned for McCain as well.

Yes, I'm being snarky here - but apparently I'm really missing the end-game when it comes to strategy, because I just can't see how you throw the country overboard on the same day you save a Joe Lieberman.

So, take the re-tooling money for now, and hope that these guys can muster up the spine to get it back to the automakers once Obama takes office. The need for fuel-efficient "green" cars was on the top of his list, and I believe he will make it happen - provided we can get Senate approval for his agenda.

Sometimes I wonder.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy 60th Howard

Howard Dean

Thanks for everything.

Republican Senators in Taxpayer-Funded Glass Houses

Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) has been the go-to guy for all things "no" on the auto bailout/loan issue. Yesterday, he appeared on "Meet the Press" as the counterpoint to Carl Levin, and he had some very strong words about the auto industry and the use of taxpayer dollars.

SHELBY: If--they would be in a lot of people's judgment a lot better off to, to go through Chapter 11 where they could reorganize, get rid of the management, get rid of the boards, the people who've brought them to where they are today. This is a dead-end, it's a road to nowhere, and it's a big burden on the American taxpayer.

Turns out that Senator Richard Shelby has some authority to speak on being a "big burden on the American taxpayer". As of 2005, his home state of Alabama is No. 7 on the list of beneficiary states of the federal taxpayer dollar - and that amount has grown over the past decade or so. Shelby cries that this loan to the Big Three is "just the beginning", and if Alabama is any indication, perhaps he is right. They take in more and more federal taxpayer dollars, but yet keep falling behind the rest of the country.

Alabama taxpayers receive more federal funding per dollar of federal taxes paid compared to the average state. Per dollar of federal tax collected in 2005, Alabama citizens received approximately $1.66 in the way of federal spending. This ranks the state 7th highest nationally and represents a rise from 1995 when Alabama received $1.33 per dollar of taxes in federal spending (ranked 9th nationally).

And what has our investment in Alabama brought us? Senator Shelby seems to be a fountain of advice on business practices, so let's take a look at how his state fares amongst the competition. According to CNBC's "Top States for Business 2008", Alabama ranked No. 42, earning it a mention in their "Worst of the Bunch" category, scoring exceptionally low in education and quality of life. Alabama fell 5 places in one year alone - down from an overall ranking of 37 in 2007.

As far as management goes, the people that "brought them to where they are today", reports show that Shelby would do well to turn his attention to how his own state manages all that federal taxpayer generosity. Alabama earned an overall grade of C+ in the Pew Center "Grading the States '08" management report card, showing weakness in long-term outlook, structural balance and contracting/purchasing in their monetary affairs. Is this the place that America wants to look to as a model of fiscal responsibility and innovative practice?

SHELBY: We don't need government--governmental subsidies for manufacturing in this country. It's the French model, it's the wrong road, we will pay for it. The average American taxpayer is going to pay dearly for this, if I'm not wrong.

Since the "average American taxpayer" is paying dearly and subsidizing the failed policies of the state of Alabama, maybe Senator Shelby would like to refuse that extra 66¢ on the dollar and help us all out.

No? Didn't think so. "It's Still OK If You're A Republican". Thought we got rid of that sentiment on Nov. 4th, but apparently there is a bit more cleaning up to do.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Toyota's Labor Costs Could Exceed The Big Three By 2011

There is conventional wisdom, and then there is reality. Take, for example, David Harsanyi at the Denver Post, who gets on his mile-high high horse with Governor Granholm:

We're still going to buy cars, Madame Governor, but perhaps we will buy them from companies that have the temerity to say "no" to unions and crushing legacy costs associated with them. These corporations may not even be headquartered in Michigan.

So goes the subtle and not-so subtle battle cry arising from the voices on the right: unions, legacy costs, labor force, the Big Three always deemed to be uncompetitive with foreign automakers who have located in the southern states and pay their workers less money. Expect to hear this a lot in the coming week - but as the kids say, reality bites. Someone might want to clue these folks in that by the end of 2009, the auto factory with the highest labor costs in America could very well be the Toyota assembly plant in Georgetown, Kentucky.

Some of Toyota's U.S. plants are now more than 20 years old, and a growing number of its workers are paid the top wage of about $25 an hour. That's less than Detroit's veteran union hands make now, but a contract inked last fall will enable U.S. automakers to replace many highly paid employees with cheaper workers. By 2011, Toyota's cost advantage over Detroit could disappear. "The Japanese automakers have been here for almost 30 years," says Michael Robinet, an analyst at CSM Worldwide, a Northville (Mich.) research firm. "They'll start to have Big Three-like costs creeping in."

The Big Three has already shed 40% of its hourly workforce in the past three years alone, and, as anyone paying attention to the news in Michigan knows, they are moving to eliminate more. The new contract signed with the UAW came with major pay concessions for new hires, creating a two-tier wage system that will pay some workers substantially less than their older counterparts.

Advantage: Detroit. In a very short time.

The savings add up. General Motors (GM), for instance, has 74,500 workers. By 2011 GM will have about 68,000, and up to one-third of them will be earning the lower wage, predicts McAlinden. If GM can get all the buyouts it needs and hire cheaper labor to replace them, the company could cut its wage bill by $2.7 billion annually by 2011, he says. That adds up to $841 a car, or about half of the current cost differential with Toyota. A retiree health-care deal, which will give the United Auto Workers union $36 billion in exchange for taking over medical insurance, should save GM an additional $699 a car. That would turn Toyota's labor cost advantage over GM of $1,394 per car to a $108 disadvantage by 2011, McAlinden says.

There is a reason Gettelfinger pitched a fit when it was suggested that the UAW give up more; they already gave up quite a bit in the last go-round to help the automakers stay competitive. Pelosi will only say "restructure", and who knows what that will entail when they hash out the details. Look for fireworks in the testimony to Congress next week.

Toyota's response to the new reality of labor costs was to delay raises, lower starting wages, and look at putting medical care on-site. (Acute leukemia? Naw, it's just the flu. Get back to work.) That is all fine and dandy - if you want to play the "race to the bottom". Continue down that path and chances are eventually labor will rise up again and form unions that will demand better pay and working conditions - even at Toyota.

The pendulum swings both ways, as we recently found out. There are probably more savings to be squeezed out when it comes to labor costs, but it would might be better to look at other ways to structure pay and benefits, rather than the slash-and-burn method that those who secretly want to break the unions are suggesting.

NFL Week 11

Dammit - forgot Thursday again. Well, I would have lost that one anyway...

NY Jets 34 at New England 31 (OT)
Denver at Atlanta
Oakland at Miami
Baltimore at NY Giants
Minnesota at Tampa Bay
Detroit at Carolina

Chicago at Green Bay
Philadelphia at Cincinnati
New Orleans at Kansas City

Houston at Indianapolis
Arizona at Seattle
St. Louis at San Francisco
Tennessee at Jacksonville
San Diego at Pittsburgh

Dallas at Washington
Cleveland at Buffalo

13-3. Much better. 108-52 overall.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Your Weekly YouTube Address From President-Elect Barack Obama

Another historic first from Barack Obama. There is something very quaint about the weekly radio address from elected officials, but technology demands we move forward with "the new media".

For the first time, the weekly Democratic address has been released as a web video. It will also continue to air on the radio.

President-elect Obama plans to to publish these weekly updates through the Transition and then from the White House.

Check out for all your Obama transition needs. Wonder if they move this whole operation to once he takes office. Whatever he does next, the face of communication with the American people is obviously going to change for the better.

Falling Five Stories 11/15/08

Decided to start dating these. Stuff on my mind today:

  • This bill goes nowhere in our Senate but the numbers in the House make me proud.

    Gay rights advocates are praising a measure to broaden protection for victims of hate crimes as a long-overdue expansion of civil rights.

    A bill to revise the ethnic intimidation law was approved this week 82-18 by the state House, though four West Michigan representatives voted against it.

    Under the bill, a person could be charged with a bias-related offense for a crime based on disability, sexual identity or expression.

    The four? Meekhof, Green, Huizenga and Agema. You know, the ones we put in the minority for a reason. I mean, My God, even Hildenbrand decided to be on the right side of history here.

  • The Freep has a picture gallery of Detroit's 25 best burgers. Yum.

  • Granholm hits the New York Times. Poignant quote:

    “Sometimes leadership is planting trees under whose shade you’ll never sit,” she said. “It may not happen fully till after I’m gone. But I know that the steps we’re taking are the right steps.”

    Damn straight. The things we do today, like bringing in the alternative energy industry, will bear fruit tomorrow. Watch and see. And thank you, governor, for planting them. I'll remember who started us down the right road.

  • President-elect Obama releases the weekly radio address on YouTube. Change, indeed.

  • Having fun watching heads explode over the thought of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. It's entertaining, to be sure, but get a grip, people, and come back to reality. The conspiracy theories are quite embarrassing to bloggers everywhere.

    I would hope anyway.
  • Friday, November 14, 2008

    Senate to Take Up Auto Bailout Bill on Monday

    Debate starts Monday, procedural vote on Wednesday, with much begging and pleading to take place between now and then.

    Chris Dodd says not enough votes. Carl Levin disagrees. The word "loan" doesn't seem to stick, and an interesting numbers game plays out in the Senate with Obama's resignation.

    The House returns to work Wednesday and will likely have an easier time passing an auto bailout because they have a larger Democratic majority.

    Senate Democrats have a 51-49 majority -- and President-elect Barack Obama plans to resign Sunday and Vice President elect Joe Biden -- a Delaware senator -- doesn't plan to take part.

    A new poll by Peter D. Hart Research Associates says the majority of Americans support the bailout. Hart is a Democratic pollster, and this poll was paid for by GM, but they had "no input or review of the design, methodology, content or interpretation" in the findings. So, take it for what it is worth - one snapshot of public opinion.

    By nearly two-to-one, Americans said the U.S. government should provide loans to American automakers, according to a poll released today by Peter D. Hart Research Associates.

    "Americans' broad support for providing government assistance to the auto industry is built mainly on a genuine fear that a failed GM, Ford, and Chrysler could lead to a depression," said Peter Hart, chairman of the firm. "But their support also is grounded in the hope that a revitalized auto industry could mean good things for the manufacturing sector and the country as a whole."

    The Hart poll, conducted Nov. 11-12, found that 55 percent of Americans believe that the government should provide loans to American automakers "so they have the money to manufacture vehicles," while 30 percent opposed it.

    WOOD added up the damage on what this could mean to Michigan in the way of job loss and the consequences to suppliers, and points out that we are not just talking about the Big Three here - we put the whole system at risk with a domestic collapse.

    "Some very prominent analysts have said that if General Motors does go this way and it's not handled properly, Ford's not very far behind," said analyst Kim Korth, president of IRN. "And if Ford's not very far behind then you do put at least Honda if not Toyota at risk."

    That's because the firms making cars in the U.S. -- whether foreign or domestic -- use many of the same suppliers. A GM failure could put GM suppliers at risk, and if those suppliers can't stay in business it could threaten the other domestic and foreign firms.

    "To think that it's just at the General Motors level is phenomenally naive," Korth told 24 Hour News 8.

    The industry employs 443,700 people in Michigan, according to the latest numbers from the state. That's a number roughly equal to the populations of Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Walker, Wyoming, Kalamazoo and Holland.

    The governor has been using "400,000 manufacturing jobs lost in Michigan" on her blitz of the national media, and I believe she was referring to the past eight years as a time frame. While we probably wouldn't lose all 443 thousand jobs with a Big Three collapse, we might lose a substantial number of them. Just what will that do to an already struggling state economy?

    Right now I'm trying not to have knee-jerk reactions to all the progressives that want to argue about CAFE standards and let the industry just die - so I think I'll just ride this out and see what happens. There are lots of valid arguments going on out there to be sure, but I can't imagine taking the gamble of letting the industry fail and throwing all these people out of work.

    Patience. Let's see where this goes.

    Dodd: Dems Can't Pass Auto Bailout This Year

    Given the increasingly dire economic news that seems to have come out on an hourly basis this past week, I thought for sure that Congress would come up with a way to get $25B to the automakers to keep millions of Americans employed and the country's manufacturing base, or what's left of it anyway, at least somewhat intact. After $700B to Wall Street, $25B looks like a small price to pay, right? Right?

    Well, Chris Dodd decided to blow all my happy thoughts right out of the water tonight.

    An architect of the original bailout bill said Thursday Democrats lack the votes to pass bill giving auto companies a piece of the $700 billion bailout pie next week.

    "I want to help them if we can, but I'm not going to give anyone a blank check, so we're going to try and do something if we can next week. I don't think the votes are there. Candidly, I don't think we have the votes to get that done. With no big change between now and next Wednesday, I'm skeptical," said Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., who chairs the Senate Banking Committee.

    Uh oh. Republican cooperation is key, and as of today, that is starting to look less likely.

    But, Republicans Thursday indicated they will be less willing to sign a big new check for Detroit than they were to prop up the financial industry earlier this year.

    "People up here don't get it," fumed one Senior Republican Thursday. "Bailouts are less popular than Congress."

    Besides "being popular", Republicans still are overly focused on the unions. Although the UAW has renegotiated contracts and the automakers have cut over 40% of their workforce in the past three years alone (an astonishing figure), one starts to wonder if the Republicans are looking for a way to bust the UAW once and for all. Knowing that the specter of the over-paid union worker is still out there, they conveniently deny that the Bush recession/credit crunch has pushed the automakers to this critical point and keep trying to play pin-the-blame-somewhere-other-than-the-Bush-legacy.

    And there remain questions whether Republicans still stinging from Election Day defeats and the public outcry against the earlier bailout bill could doom this one. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said the domestic automakers' problems are "not the product of our current economic downturn" but "the legacy of the uncompetitive structure of its manufacturing and labor force."

    So, we will just push the country into that Depression that the free-market crowd is clamoring for, "eliminating up to 3 million jobs and depriving governments of more than $150 billion in tax revenue". Amongst other assorted really scary economic figures. I hate to sound so incredibly cynical, but that sure would tie the hands of a brand-new president quite nicely, wouldn't it?

    Barney Frank always soothes my shattered nerves.

    But Frank said Democrats are betting that Republicans will not want to be responsible for the collapse of the auto industry.

    If Congress passes a bill, Frank said of the White House, "we don't think they'll kick it back".

    Sure hope he is right, and I sure hope they get something passed next week. Put some reasonable conditions on there, and let's get this done, or we can remind everyone in 2010 just who was responsible for the collapse of the US economy.

    I'm guessing America will remember anyway.

    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    Prusi to Take Over Democratic Leadership in the MI Senate

    Details of the dogfight to come out later, I'm sure. Still trying to get used to the fact that Schauer won't be there to kick Mike Bishop in the shins anymore (pass the tissues, please), but Prusi strikes me as a good guy, and I look forward to seeing what he can do.

    From the inbox-

    LANSING—Senator Mike Prusi (D Ishpeming) was selected today by his Democratic colleagues to take over as Senate Democratic Leader when current leader Mark Schauer (D Battle Creek) heads to Congress in January. Prusi was honored by the support and confidence of his caucus members and expressed his determination to get things done for Michigan families struggling in this difficult economy.

    "The challenges before us are great, but by staying focused on what's best for the people who sent us here we can turn Michigan's economy around," said Prusi. "We must be united in making changes that will help our children and grandchildren find jobs and raise their families' right here in this great state."

    Prusi has served in several leadership positions within the caucus, including as the lead Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee and previously as the lead Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee. The Senator also serves on the Energy Policy, Judiciary and Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs committees. Before being elected to the Senate, he served three terms in the Michigan House of Representatives. Prior to his legislative career, Mike worked for over twenty years as an iron ore miner for the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company at various Marquette County mining operations, including five years as an underground miner.

    Good luck, Senator Prusi! Let's hear it for the Yoopers!

    Dick DeVos Not Running For Governor in 2010

    Bombshell. Glad I didn't place any bets.

    Here is Dick talking to RightMichigan. Listening to him trash Michigan again, showing that he still "doesn't get it", I really wanted him to run. He still is as vapid and shallow as the day is long, and he obviously hasn't learned any media skills yet. My guess is that he saw the writing on the Bush Republican wall, and that writing says that there is no way this state would elect him espousing the policies that he does. Or he got word that Hoekstra was going to run and he knew that he would get his ass kicked, one of the two.

    Here is Dick in an e-mail -

    After considerable thought, prayer and consultation with Betsy and our family, I have concluded that my ability to impact the future of Michigan will be more significant at this time from outside government, instead of inside. So to allow me to do what I have always done best, that is to create jobs and opportunity in the private sector, I will not be a candidate for Governor in 2010.

    This has been an especially difficult decision since so many of you have been encouraging of me, both during my prior campaign, but also since the 2006 election. Your encouragement and friendship have been tremendous gifts to me.

    Just how many jobs has the "jobs maker" produced in the past two years? Anyone?

    Bye Dick. Thanks for playin'.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    Blogging For Michigan Troop Care 2008

    The Blogging For Michigan community is excited to announce that holiday Troop Care time is here again! The goal of Troop Care is to provide support to Michigan troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    From November 11 through November 25, bloggers at (BFM) will be publishing articles to raise awareness of the unique challenges faced by our troops and our veterans, and we will be BEGGING YOU, dear readers to contribute to the Troop Care fund. 100% of this fund will be used to purchase and ship items such as socks, hand lotion, soap, shampoo, magazines, DVDs, dried foods, etc., to Michigan troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. BFM does not make any money from this effort.

    We are proud to say that we are once again joined in our efforts by Troop Care Partner Tri-City Local, who was instrumental in securing approximately $2,000 worth of donations last year, along with those wonderful cards from the kids at Bangor Elementary.

    Troop Care will be shipping to Michigan units who have requested items through the website,  By using, we can be reasonably assured that the items requested by the troops will reach their intended recipients.

    Click here to donate to Troop Care now.


    Are you a charity?

    No, we're a business under the name of BFM Media LLC, proud to do something good for our soldiers.  In addition to collecting, we are also contributing.  We hope you will join us in this effort.

    Is my contribution tax deductible?

    No.  It is not tax deductible.  We are sending items to service members in Iraq and Afghanistan, which means that contributions are not being used for a "charitable purpose" as defined by law.

    Do you have a solicitation license?

    No.  We have a letter of determination from AG that none is necessary.  You may read that letter of determination here.  (pdf format)

    Will all the funds be used for the troops?

    Yes. Absolutely 100% of all funds collected between November 11 and November 25, 2008, will be used to purchase and ship items to Michigan units deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Where are the names/contact info of soldiers coming from?, which is recommended by the National Military Family Association.  Our own blogger and Iraq Vet, djtyg, says is "the real deal."

    I want to send something to the Michigan troops directly.  How can I do this?

    Just visit and follow the link, "Where To Send."  On the left side, there is a drop down link labeled "view contacts sorted by" ... use the drop down list and select "where unit is from."  A second drop down list will appear.  Select "Michigan", and then "go".  Each name that appears is a link to information about that person's unit.  Click on the names to find out more about the unit and what they need.  (See the image to the right)

    You will need to fill out a form to get their contact information.

    I want to contribute, but I don't want to do business online.  Can I send you a check?

    Absolutely!  Make checks payable to:

    BFM Media LLC
    PO Box 62
    Corunna, MI  48817

    We have to receive it by November 30, in order to use it for Troop Care.

    I'm not a Troop Care Partner, can I still contribute?

    Yes, anyone can contribute to Troop Care by clicking here.

    What is a Troop Care Partner?

    Troop Care Partners are people and organizations who are collecting funds for Troop Care, or who are blogging and publicizing the Troop Care Program on BFM. 

    To become a Troop Care Partner, just let us know that you want to participate!  We will get in touch with you to give you more details. 

    As a Troop Care Partner, we'll give you prominent mention on the site, and make sure your name is visible throughout the two week program.  And, you'll know that you're doing something excellent for our Michigan troops!

    I have a story to tell or a message of concern for the public.  Can I make it a Troop Care post?

    Absolutely, if it's relevant to our troops, veterans, or their families. is a community site, and anyone can sign up for a free account and start posting diaries.  If you submit a post that is Troop Care material (and comprehensible, please), we'll put the Troop Care logo in it and tag it, 'troop care'.

    If you're a new user, make sure you sign up with an email where we can reach you and verify details. Your diary will get every consideration for front page status.

    You can also send us your stories, at, and we can publish them for you.

    We reserve the right to reject material that is not appropriate.

    I have a question not answered here.

    Contact us at

    Enough with the FAQs!  I'm ready to contribute!

    Excellent!  Our troops thank you!  Click here to donate to Troop Care now.

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    Happy Birthday K

    For K


    Miss you always.

    Obama Wants to Take Away Your Car!

    Got a new rumor to spread to the paranoid wingnut crowd. Someone get to work on getting a copy of McCain's e-mail list, and let's see if we can duplicate the success of this-

    The scene Saturday was a retailer's dream: Wall-to-wall customers, skyrocketing sales. But the approaching holiday season didn't spark this rush. Barack Obama did.

    His election triggered concerns by gun enthusiasts that his administration would push restrictions on firearms. Gun stores across the country noted increased business.

    Here is a sample of what might rile the masses:

    "Barack Obama will be the most anti-car president in American HISTORY! It is a well-known FACT that Barack Obama and his liberal allies in Congress will take away OUR RIGHT to purchase and drive automobiles! Therefore, it is more important than ever that EVERY American with a drivers license who values our liberties takes IMMEDIATE action to go out and purchase a new car for ALL the members of your family! The threat is REAL, and the consequences of this election will be felt for years to come!!!"

    Could work. Worth a shot anyway.

    GM By Year's End

    Um, kids, better get some money into the hands of the Big Three soon, because if they go bankrupt, you don't want to see what happens next. Some scary rumbling from GM that tells us the collapse could come sooner than we think.

    GM warned that its cash reserves could sink below the minimum level it needs to operate by year's end unless it gets federal aid or can tap other resources.

    The key words here, "by year's end". If they do hit the floor, massive ugliness ensues. Watch what happens. The auto industry wants $50 billion on top of the $25B, and it needs that $25B right now. Reaching that "minimum level to operate" for GM looks like this-

    Perceptions of running out of cash can quickly turn into reality at a company like GM. At year's end, GM's outside auditors have to say whether there's substantial doubt about the company's ability to be, in business parlance, a going concern. If the auditors make such a statement, GM will violate a number of credit agreements, including at least $6 billion in loans -- which banks could call back immediately. The automaker would either have to get a waiver from its lenders or secure even more loans.

    Or bankruptcy? Don't know about the possibilities of a waiver, and "more loans" seems unlikely, so if the unthinkable happens-

    GM and other U.S. automakers need such aid or the domestic auto industry will fall, taking with it nearly 3 million jobs and demolishing the retirement funds of people throughout the country, analysts said. For every job in an assembly plant, there are 7.5 jobs with auto parts suppliers and other companies.

    3 million jobs and "demolished retirement funds". Gone. On top of the rapid acceleration of job losses that are already occurring. You can hazard a guess that the ripple effect doesn't stop at 7.5 jobs when you add in things such as consumer confidence and other peripheral factors; the total number is probably incalculable.

    Urgent, wouldn't you say? Apparently not if your name is George W. Bush or Henry Paulson.

    Obama pressed the Bush Administration to speed the disbursement of $25 billion in retooling loans for automakers that were approved by Congress in September. But the Energy Department said in a conference call this week that it was "doubtful" that any money would be released before next year. Automakers can start applying for loans on Monday under the rules released this week.

    Conflicting reports are appearing about the speed at which the $25B can be dispersed. Democratic leaders want to extend the Wall Street bailout to automakers through the TARP program - giving taxpayers a stake in the auto companies - and apparently that option is available under the discretion of the Federal Reserve chairman and the Treasury Department. And considering the fact that they just threw $40B at AIG, it seems that getting the already approved $25B shouldn't even be a question when you look at the consequences of delay.

    What say you, Bush people? Want to put the brakes on the impending collapse of the American economy?

    The White House said Friday it wasn't planning to extend the Wall Street bailout to automakers without direction from Congress. Paulson has preferred that automakers get aid from the Energy Department program first.

    No? Well, alright. Let the legacy be that the Bush administration could have stopped or slowed the freefall, and chose not to. Call it a farewell present to the American people, and the card will read: From the Worst. President. Ever.

    Team Obama has stopped short of calling for the current bank bailout to be extended. Perhaps there is a different way to get the $50B, now being labeled as a loan as opposed to a bailout, to the automakers. Both the left and the right sides of the political spectrum have, IMO, callously suggested to "let them fail" - and yes, that is an option... if you want to ensure the possibility that we bring about the next Great Depression. And yes, the automakers and the unions have made mistakes in the past that have helped contribute to the current problem - but none of that really matters now, does it?

    We can pay now, which would save an untold number of jobs and help the auto makers move towards retooling for fuel efficient cars that will eventually sell as we provide other forms of stimulus to the consumer and the credit markets loosen up, or we can let the "backbone of manufacturing" collapse and pay later, when millions of workers hit the system through unemployment and other social programs as they lose their retirement and health care and are unable to find a job. Oh, and don't forget the national security implications as well - a country without manufacturing cannot adequately defend itself should the need arise.

    The word "urgent" is being tossed around the media, no one has really picked up on the term "by year's end". Maybe that description doesn't really apply - I honestly don't know if GM could skate through an outside audit and delay that "perception" that was mentioned earlier.

    Obama meets with Bush today - let's hope that sanity prevails and they all find a way to stop this before it gets even worse.

    Sunday, November 09, 2008

    Falling Five Stories

    The point at which a cat reaches terminal velocity and then relaxes its body, creating air drag and in turn softens the impact of its landing.

    Stuff on my mind:

  • Obama on the Web. The Freep's Todd Spangler shows how Obama utilized this medium for the election. The thing that struck me is that he did it on his own, bypassing posting on the traditional progressive sites such as Daily Kos. Instead of leaving this campaign in the hands of ideologues with their own agenda who would dilute and/or destroy his inclusive message with their mob-like mentality (and underlying desire for their own power and influence with an ATM atmosphere that raised mobs of cash for candidates they deemed worthy), in a stroke of brilliance, the campaign took control and created their own space for people to express themselves. It was a subtle but important move to create balance on the internet - the bloggers on the left still have their own place, and Obama had his, which showed the world that he is not under their control, but still willing to play the game. Perfect.

    The internet interaction will continue at from the "Office of the President-Elect", complete with blog, space for your posts, and promises of future government transparency. Yeah, Obama's cool and all, but I would hope that independent verification will still come into play.

  • The Next Great Depression. Um, kids, better get some money into the hands of the Big Three soon, because if they go bankrupt, you don't want to see what happens next. Some scary stats from GM-

    GM warned that its cash reserves could sink below the minimum level it needs to operate by year's end unless it gets federal aid or can tap other resources.

    Massive ugliness ensues. Watch what happens. The auto industry wants $50 billion on top of the $25B, and it needs that $25B right now. Reaching that "minimum level to operate" bottom at GM looks like this-

    Perceptions of running out of cash can quickly turn into reality at a company like GM. At year's end, GM's outside auditors have to say whether there's substantial doubt about the company's ability to be, in business parlance, a going concern. If the auditors make such a statement, GM will violate a number of credit agreements, including at least $6 billion in loans -- which banks could call back immediately. The automaker would either have to get a waiver from its lenders or secure even more loans.

    Don't know about the possibilities of a waiver, and more loans seems unlikely, so then this happens-

    GM and other U.S. automakers need such aid or the domestic auto industry will fall, taking with it nearly 3 million jobs and demolishing the retirement funds of people throughout the country, analysts said. For every job in an assembly plant, there are 7.5 jobs with auto parts suppliers and other companies.

    3 million jobs and "demolished retirement funds". Gone. On top of the rapid acceleration of job losses that are already occurring. You can hazard a guess that the ripple effect doesn't stop at 7.5 jobs when you add in things such as consumer confidence and other peripheral factors; the number is probably incalculable.

    Urgent, wouldn't you say? Apparently not if your name is George Bush or Henry Paulson.

    Obama pressed the Bush Administration to speed the disbursement of $25 billion in retooling loans for automakers that were approved by Congress in September. But the Energy Department said in a conference call this week that it was "doubtful" that any money would be released before next year. Automakers can start applying for loans on Monday under the rules released this week.

    Democratic leaders want to extend the Wall Street bailout to automakers through the TARP program - giving taxpayers a stake in the auto companies - and apparently that option is available under the discretion of the Federal Reserve chairman and the Treasury Department.

    What say you, Bush people? Want to put the brakes on the pending collapse of the American economy?

    The White House said Friday it wasn't planning to extend the Wall Street bailout to automakers without direction from Congress. Paulson has preferred that automakers get aid from the Energy Department program first.

    No? Well, alright. Let the legacy be that the Bush administration could have stopped or slowed the freefall, and chose not to.

    Call it a farewell present to the American people, and the card will read: From the Worst. President. Ever.

  • I don't know how long this picture will stay up, but the shot of all the winning Democratic candidate's lawn signs at the spot of the (disputed) "birthplace of the Republican Party" in Jackson, Michigan is one to savor. Go take a look.

  • Overall national voter turnout Tuesday didn't hit the numbers they had predicted, lack of Republican participation seems to be the culprit. George Weeks tells us that Michigan set a record with 5.1 million voters. Participation was at 68%, eclipsed by a 73% turnout in 1960. Nobody is sure just what is wrong with Detroit, where only just over half the city's eligible voters turned out for this historic election. Someone should look deeper into the reasons why.

  • Jack Lessenberry adds up the Michigan facts from the election - and wow, lookit all the record-setting blue, blue, blue, every where you turn in this state. One for the ages. A must read. The AP/Detroit News has the national party identification breakdown - the "biggest partisan shift in a generation" rejects Republicans but doesn't necessarily embrace Democrats. There is a warning in there somewhere, but chances are Saul will miss it.

  • John Engler is still a pig. A deluded one at that. Harsh, but true. Sorry, I call 'em like I see 'em, and Big John will forever be on my shit list unless he improves his attitude.

  • Lame Duck Legislature. A big list of legislation will expire unless they take action, but the news that we are facing deep cuts (sigh) in the budget might spoil the party. Stay tuned to see what they get done before the fresh crop of legiscritters takes office in January.

  • NFL Week 10

    Arrrrgh - they started those Thursday games and I didn't notice, so I'll take the loss on this first one. Hey, it was a busy week, what can I say.

    Out on a limb today, picking the Lions to get their first win. Stop laughing.

    Denver 34 at Cleveland 30
    Jacksonville at Detroit

    Tennessee at Chicago
    Baltimore at Houston
    New Orleans at Atlanta
    St. Louis at NY Jets
    Buffalo at New England
    Seattle at Miami

    Green Bay at Minnesota
    Carolina at Oakland
    Kansas City at San Diego
    Indianapolis at Pittsburgh

    NY Giants at Philadelphia
    San Francisco at Arizona

    Bye: Dallas, Tampa Bay, Washington, Cincinnati

    9-5 again. 95-49 for the year so far.

    Friday, November 07, 2008

    Obama's First Press Conference

    Intelligent. Intelligent guy who cares. Intelligent guy who cares about Michigan and the auto makers. Understands. Gonna help. Gonna help us. We have someone who is going to help us. And look who is in the background, getting some help for us.

    Makes me want to weep for joy. Seriously.



    Saw this on my walk today. Thought it was rather poignant.

    Wednesday, November 05, 2008

    Say Hello To Congressman Mark Schauer

    Congressman Mark Schauer

    The Congressman-elect is busy giving interviews to the press at this moment. I have just one question - what does he say to Mike Bishop tomorrow?

    Big smiles tonight in Battle Creek. :-)

    UPDATE 11/5 9AM : Here is the Battle Creek Enquirer story-

    U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, all but conceded Michigan's 7th Congressional District race to Democratic challenger Mark Schauer, who declared victory about 2 a.m. today.

    "It's a tough district. A Democrat has never held this seat," Schauer said. "It's difficult to unseat an incumbent and we knew we'd have to run a near-perfect campaign to do it."

    Schauer said there is a clear contrast between candidates and he expected the race to be close.

    "I think it was really a story of turning Michigan's economy around one job at a time," he said. "I think we really had a great ground game."

    Right after I put this up, we had to clear out of the room and then I had to drive home, so I wasn't able to add more to this last night. Got to bed around 4, and needless to say, I'm exhausted after being up for 24 straight hours. Here is the link to the Flickr set; I have more pictures that I will be adding as the day goes on.

    It was a wonderful evening and I'm so glad that I was there to share in this hard-fought victory. Congrats to Senator Schauer and his whole team, and thank you so much for everything! On to Washington!

    Tuesday, November 04, 2008



    Election Night Open Thread - Live From Battle Creek!

    Mark and Kate 6020

    Here was the scene just a few moments ago from Mark Schauer's election shindig in BC. People are coming in, watching election results on two big screen TV's at either end of the room, chatting, very happy about the Obama results do far...

    Will bring you updates and photos when I can - the internet connection is moving kind of slow...

    Here is an open thread to continue the celebration!

    Yes We Can - Vote! Open Thread 2

    "Nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change."

    This video has been around for quite some time - uploaded on Feb. 2, 2008, according to YouTube. I had seen bits and pieces of it in the spring, never really stopping to watch the whole thing, never really registering with me on an emotional level until I saw it on the big screen at Van Andel Arena, the day Edwards endorsed, the first time I saw Obama speak live, May 14th, 2008.

    It gave me chills. I got it.

    DKos posted it earlier and reminded me of it, and I've watched it a few more times again today - and it still gives me a rush. The anticipation is a bit overwhelming right now.

    Here is another open thread - report your voting experience, post some pics, hang out and chat, whatever you want. It is now less than 5 hours until the polls in Michigan close. If you haven't voted yet - well, get off the computer and get out there right now and do it!

    Yes, you can. Go vote!

    It's A Beautiful Day - Go Vote!

    "after the flood all the colors came out..."

    Go vote. It feels really, really good.

    Dixville Notch Turns Blue

    Can't sleep, so I thought I'd throw out the first results of the big day-

    Barack Obama came up a big winner in the presidential race in Dixville Notch and Hart's Location, N.H., where tradition of having the first Election Day ballots tallied lives on.

    Democrat Obama defeated Republican John McCain by a count of 15 to 6 in Dixville Notch, where a loud whoop accompanied the announcement in Tuesday's first minutes. The town of Hart's Location reported 17 votes for Obama, 10 for McCain and two for write-in Ron Paul. Independent Ralph Nader was on both towns' ballots but got no votes.

    Notable because this is a Republican stronghold.

    Hart's Location started opening its polls early in 1948, the year Harry S. Truman beat Thomas Dewey, to accommodate railroad workers who had to get to work early. Hart's Location got out of the early voting business in 1964 after some residents grew weary of all the publicity, but brought it back in 1996.

    Dixville Notch, nestled in a mountain pass 1,800 feet up and about halfway between the White Mountain National Forest and the Canadian border, followed suit in 1960, when John F. Kennedy beat Richard M. Nixon. Nixon, the Republican, swept all nine votes cast in Dixville that year, and before Tuesday, the town had gone for a Democrat only once since then. That was in 1968, when the tally was Democrat Hubert Humphrey eight, Nixon four.

    And here is the final Michigan graph from -

    Pretty, huh? Well, the ONLY way this happens is if you GET OUT and VOTE! Take nothing for granted. Get in line, be patient, and turn this into reality.

    Let's make some history!

    Monday, November 03, 2008

    Walberg Sending False Robo-calls Out Today

    This just landed in my in-box, just passing along the info:

    Delta Twp.—Delta Township Democrats called on Congressman Tim Walberg and his supporters to immediately stop robo-calls that have gone out to voters that imply local Democratic Eaton County officials support Walberg. Several voters complained about receiving the calls on their home answering machines today.

    "These are exactly the kinds of dirty tricks voters are tired of and will reject at the polls tomorrow," said Sherry Freeman, Delta Township Trustee whose name was used in a Walberg robo-call without her permission. "Congressman Walberg is resorting to these underhanded tactics because he and Bush have failed to accomplish anything that would help our economy. He should be ashamed of this last minute attempt to mislead voters."

    Congressman Walberg refused to accept Mark Schauer's challenge earlier this year to stop using robo-calls altogether.

    Tim Walberg? Misleading voters? I see the face of an older gentleman in one of the commercials, and it always cracked me up because the delivery was soooo perfect...

    "Seems like Congressman Walberg only cares about himself."

    Yup. Fake robo-calls is just the icing on the whole lying Walberg cake. Vote accordingly.