Cynical Synapse

Mon, 07 Feb 2011

Never Underestimate Detroit

Filed under: Bailout, Business, Cars, Congress, Detroit, Economy, Sports — cynicalsynapse @ 7:30 pm

Spirit of Detroit

Detroit, like any urban area, has had its issues, some for a very long time. And some have a considerable way to go before resolution. But never underestimate the spirit of Detroit.

When the Big 3—General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler—were in deep financial trouble, many wanted to write them off. Now they’ve rebounded and it turns out the real quality issues are with one of those much-touted Japanese car companies.

As if with some kind of synergy, Chrysler introduces the 200 model by highlighting the strengths of the Motor City. Don’t dis the D because it will never be out. Not even when everyone wants to write it off.

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Mon, 22 Mar 2010

House Defies the People; Passes Health Care Debacle

Filed under: Bailout, Budget, Citizen rights, Congress, Government, Medicine, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 11:33 am

House passes health care reform

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released 16 March clearly shows US citizens are disgusted with Congress. Only 17% approve, while 77% disapprove of the job Congress is doing. In fact, 50% said they’d replace every single sitting Representative and Senator. We’ll see, come election time. I’ve heard the anti-incumbent rhetoric before only to see the lemings re-elect the same useless baffoons.

Some people blame the tea party movement and Republican opposition to the Democrats’ health care reform bills. Others claim Pres. Obama is pushing the Democrats to takeover health care in what many call a form of socialism. Many also see the Democrats attempting to increase government power at all costs. And let’s not lose sight of the fact Democrats have lost touch with working people.

Congress flips off the people

The health care reform fiasco really underscores the breakdown in Congress and growth of the void between our representatives in Washington and we, the people. There are claims health care reform itself led to the polarization of the two parties and the rift between the elected and the electors. The fact is, Congress has been following its own agenda for some time. Discontent of the citizenry has been bubbling for decades and has come to a head recently. Several factors play into this, including the economic sitation, the lack of responsiveness of our representatives to their constituents, and the magnitude of bills being debated and passed.

In September 2008, Congress passed legislation to bail out teetering Wall Street institutions for $800 billion. Previously, they bailed out AIG to the tune of nearly $200 billion. Of this trillion dollars, there’s been little trickledown to the common man. And, despite tanking the global economy and nearly collapsing, these same financial charlatans have regularly given themselves bonuses. Not surprisingly, this doesn’t sit well with Main Street. Next came the $800 billion dollar Stimulus, another costly program that has not done much for the middle class. In Michigan, its primary benefit has been to allow the state legislature and governor defer hard budget deficit questions, not unlike trying to plug a leaking dike with bubblegum. In seeking to raise public support for the Stimulus, Pres. Obama claimed Caterpillar would benefit, ostensibly from increased sales of the construction equipment it sells. Caterpillar’s CEO contradicted the president’s claims.

picking taxpayers' pockets

Which brings us back to health care. Caterpillar told lawmakers health care reform will cost them $100 million in the first year alone. Last week, a Fox News poll found 55% of voters opposed to the health care bill, with only 35% in favors. While support is about the same as last July, opposition has risen 8 points since then. Then there’s that matter of whether or not those we elect to represent us actually do. My US Senators both failed to answer my questions on the Constitutionality of mandating buying private insurance, as did my US Representative. Forgive the length, but House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) summarized the moral failure of Congress in remarks on the House floor before the vote on the health care reform bill; emphasis added.

Mr. Speaker and my colleagues, I rise tonight with a sad and heavy heart. Today, we should be standing together, reflecting on a year of bipartisanship, and working to answer our country’s call and their challenge to address the rising costs of health insurance in our country.

Today, this body, this institution, enshrined in the first article of the Constitution by our Founding Fathers as a sign of the importance they placed on this House, should be looking with pride on this legislation and our work. But it is not so.

No, today we’re standing here looking at a health care bill that no one in this body believes is satisfactory.

Pelosi shakes fist at the people

Today we stand here amidst the wreckage of what was once the respect and honor that this House was held in by our fellow citizens. And we all know why it is so.

We have failed to listen to America.

And we have failed to reflect the will of our constituents.

And when we fail to reflect that will—we fail ourselves and we fail our country.

Look at this bill. Ask yourself: do you really believe that if you like the health plan that you have, that you can keep it?

No, you can’t.

In this economy, with this unemployment, with our desperate need for jobs and economic growth, is this really the time to raise taxes, to create bureaucracies, and burden every job creator in our land?

The answer is no.

Can you go home and tell your senior citizens that these cuts in Medicare will not limit their access to doctors or further weaken the program instead of strengthening it?

No, you cannot.

Can you go home and tell your constituents with confidence that this bill respects the sanctity of all human life, and that it won’t allow for taxpayer funding of abortion for the first time in 30 years?

No, you cannot.

And look at how this bill was written.

Can you say it was done openly, with transparency and accountability? Without backroom deals, and struck behind closed doors, hidden from the people?

Hell no, you can’t!

Have you read the bill? Have you read the reconciliation bill? Have you read the manager’s amendment?

Hell no, you haven’t!

Mr. Speaker, in a few minutes, we will cast some of the most consequential votes that any of us will ever cast in this chamber.

The decision we make will affect every man, woman and child in this nation for generations to come.

Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)

If we’re going to vote to defy the will of the American people, then we ought to have the courage to stand before them and announce our votes, one at a time.

I sent a letter to the Speaker this week asking that the ‘call of the roll’ be ordered for this vote.

Madame Speaker, I ask you. Will you, in the interest of this institution, grant my request?

Will you, Mr. Speaker, grant my request that we have a call of the roll?

Mr. Speaker, will you grant my request that we have a call of the roll?

My colleagues, this is the People’s House.

When we came here, we each swore an oath to uphold and abide by the Constitution as representatives of the people.

But the process here is broken. The institution is broken.

And as a result, this bill is not what the American people need, nor what our constituents want.

Americans are out there are making sacrifices and struggling to build a better future for their kids.

And over the last year as the damn-the-torpedoes outline of this legislation became more clear, millions lifted their voices, and many for the first time, asking us to slow down, not try to cram through more than the system could handle.

Not to spend money that we didn’t have.

In this time of recession, they wanted us to focus on jobs, not more spending, not more government, certainly not more taxes.

But what they see today frightens them.

They’re frightened because they don’t know what comes next.

They’re disgusted, because they see one political party closing out the other from what should be a national solution.

And they are angry. They are angry that no matter how they engage in this debate, this body moves forward against their will. Shame on us.

Shame on this body.

Shame on each and every one of you who substitutes your will and your desires above those of your fellow countrymen.

Around this chamber, looking upon us are the lawgivers—from Moses, to Gaius, to Blackstone, to Thomas Jefferson.

By our actions today, we disgrace their values.

We break the ties of history in this chamber. We break our trust with Americans.

When I handed the Speaker the gavel in 2007, I said: “this is the people’s House—and the moment a majority forgets this, it starts writing itself a ticket to minority status.”

angry voters

If we pass this bill, there will be no turning back. It will be the last straw for the American people.

And In a democracy, you can only ignore the will of the people for so long and get away with it.

And if we defy the will of our fellow citizens and pass this bill, we are going to be held to account by those who have placed us in their trust. We will have shattered those bonds of trust.

recycle Congress

I beg you. I beg each and every one of you on both sides of the aisle:

Do not further strike at the heart of this country and this institution with arrogance, for surely you will not strike with impunity.

I ask each of you to vow never to let this happen again—this process, this defiance of our citizens.

It is not too late to begin to restore the bonds of trust with our Nation and return comity to this institution.

And so, join me.

Join me in voting against this bill, so that we may come together anew, and address this challenge of health care in a manner that brings credit to this body, and brings credit to the ideals of this nation, and most importantly, it reflects the will our people.

Voting for the Senate ammended version of House Resolution 3590, the health care overhaul bill, were 219 Democrats. Opposed were 34 Democrats and all 178 Republics. The measure passed 219-212; see how your representative voted in Roll Call 165. As for Michigan’s delegation, the Republicans voted no and the Democrats—including holdout Bart Stupak—all voted for the bill. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD), the state’s lone representative, voted no, as did the single Democrats in Idaho, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Utah. Both of Alabama’s Democratic Representatives also sided with their Republican colleagues.

Update:

28 Mar 2010

While it might be hard to believe people are not always truthful, especially in politics, it sometimes happens that people spin things to suit their position. Such is the case with Caterpillar’s claim the health care legislation will add $100 million to their costs. As it turns out, the health care law eliminates a tax cut from which Caterpillar benefited for seven years. While this is an increase in cost to Caterpillar, what they are losing is the corporate welfare of $100 million taxpayer dollars every year.


Sun, 21 Mar 2010

Obama Going for Jobs Trifecta

Filed under: Bailout, Budget, Congress, Economy, Government, Medicine, Politics, Society, Stimulus, Taxes, Unemployment — cynicalsynapse @ 10:30 pm

stimulus signs

On 18 March, Pres. Obama signed what’s been called the jobs bill into law. Touted at $38 billion, it’s really closer to $100 billion in cost over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Besides it’s so-called jobs provisions, it also includes a $60 billion extension of unemployment coverage, an obvious back-to-work program if ever there was one. Titled the American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act of 2010, the bill’s touted tax breaks are really just extensions of already existing breaks and there’s nothing uniquely job-creating in the law.

Earlier, there was the so-called stimulus bill. Officially titled the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the stimulus package was supposed to “create or save” 3-4 million jobs. The national unemployment rate was 8.1% in February 2009 when the Stimulus bill was signed into law. For February 2010, the national unemployment rate was 9.7%. I’m not a statistics whiz, but it seems pretty clear to me that more people are unemployed this year than before passing the Stimulus package. More jobs would likely have been created had the Stimulus money been put to better use.

unemployment line

so, the Stimulus bill has seen job loss rather than job creation, no matter what anyone claims. In February 2009, there were 12.5 million unemployed. With all the jobs “created or saved” by the Stimulus package, February 2010 unemployment stood at 14.9 million and 9.7%. I’m thinking that’s not an improvement.

Next up, and coming to a vote in the House, perhaps as I write, is health care reform, based on the Senate bill and a House “reconciliation” measure. Some have argued health care reform is also a jobs creation bill. This has become a “do or die” bill, as if this is the only opportunity the country will have to fix health care. I don’t think anyone disagrees there are issues with health care. The problem is the Senate bill is a Frankenstein’s monster of vote-buying and gerrymandering. Never mind whether Congress has the authority to require citizens to buy health care insurance. And then there’s House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) saying health care overhaul will create 4 million jobs. She must be spending a little too much time with that medical marijuana. As we approach the final hours, it sounds like the Wicked Witch of the West has gathered the necessary votes to pass health care reform.

While some, such as Pelosi, claim health care reform will create jobs, others claim health care reform is a jobs killer. In fact, Caterpillar Corp. says health care overhaul would cost them $100 million in the first year. I lived in Illinois during times when Caterpillar was struggling. So, if they’re concerned, I’m concerned. And it makes me wonder why the domestic automakers aren’t speaking out, except 2 of 3 are wholly owned subsidiaries of the government.

health care gone to the apes

Let’s see. Billions spent on job creation under Stimulus I didn’t work. The jobs bill under “mini-Stimulus” is actually nothing new for tax credits but counters job creation with extending unemployment benefits.

So, after all this hope and change, why would you support the Stimulus bill, the jobs bill, or health care overhaul? Seems to me Obama is playing a zero-sum game, at best.

Tue, 02 Feb 2010

Toyota Downshifts, Grinds Gears

Filed under: Bailout, Business, Cars, Congress, Greed, Politics, Unions — cynicalsynapse @ 7:07 pm

Toyota rollover

Although, to their credit, the so-called foreign automakers were largely silent on the collapse of domestic US automakers, it seems they weren’t that far above the fray. I don’t mean this as a vindication of domestic auto manufacturers. There’s no doubt their arrogance has been part of their legacy. The Big Three have been working on quality since the 1990s and have made great strides.

It is, therefore, particularly ironic to find that Toyota sacrificed quality, resulting in a major recall action. The recall involves more than 4 million cars across 8 nameplates. This should be a significant emotional event, although the mainstream media isn’t portraying it as such. What if this had been GM, Chrysler, or Ford? They’d be all over it like stink on rice.

Brake, accelerator pedals

Unfortunately, it seems Toyota has been ducking the issue for years. Don Slavik, an attorney representing a California man, said, “I think Toyota is still scrambling to find the root causes of all the sudden acceleration that’s been reported to them.” Slavik’s client’s wife died when their 2005 Toyota Camry crashed off a cliff.

There have been hundreds of complaints about Toyotas’ sudden acceleration, however. The complaints date back at least to 2003, but NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) routinely agreed with Toyota’s data that showed no evidence of defects. Some sources claim the issue dates back to the ’90s.

Since this problem surfaced, Toyota has issued two recalls. One, for floor mats, has been greatly expanded, as has the other, for gas pedals themselves. As part of an agreement with NHTSA, Toyota is applying a software change to shut down accelerator pedals when the brake is applied.

Toyota City

Everyone seemed quite comfortable dissing domestic automakers despite increasing quality gains. Where are those folks now that Toyota is having quality problems? Long-standing ones, I might add. Toyota’s January sales were down 16%, largely due to the recalls. That just adds to the woes of a sluggish economy which is hammering Toyota City, Japan’s own motor city.

Toyota has factories in 8 different US locations. They’re represented by 5 Democratic Senators and 9 Republicans. Of those, one Republic did not vote on the domestic automaker bailout while 7 Republicans voted against saving US-based car companies. They are Richard Shelby (R-AL), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Jim Bunning (R-KY), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Kay Baily Huthison (R-TX), Thad Cochran (R-MS), and Roger Wicker (R-MS). Of these, Hutchison and Wicker voted for the Wall Street Bailout. How does that make sense? The point is half the Senators—all Republicans—from states with Toyota factories didn’t vote or voted against the domestic auto industry. Coincidence? I think not. Question is, what was their motive? Pro-Toyota? Anti-union?

Sun, 03 Jan 2010

What Happened to Good Old-Fashioned Bowl Games?

Filed under: Bailout, Business, Detroit, Greed, Life, Rants, Sports — cynicalsynapse @ 11:23 am

Rose Bowl stadium

For football fans—and their widows—we’re in the midst of college bowl season. Maybe there are too many bowl games. Just as most major league ball stadia have corporate sponsorship under naming rights agreements, so, too, do most of the bowl games. I think this commercialization of our entertainment is a travesty. It highlights our society’s shallowness and could well be one of the reasons those in less fortunate quarters of the world hate the US. But I digress

I’m not a big football fan, nor do I play one on TV. But I am a bit of a traditionalist. I liked the Rose Bowl being played on New Year’s Day. We don’t have that anymore—now it’s the Rose Bowl Game by Citi. And is Citi paying for those naming rights with taxpayer dollars (from the bailout)?

My other issue is if Citi is presenting the Rose Bowl, why do I have to buy tickets? If I have to buy tickets, it’s paid for by me (and everyone else and the broadcasters). To add insult to injury, this year’s game was the 96th Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi. Um, the current corporate sponsor did not present all the previous games, so stop pretending like you did. For the record, I’m not more likely to do business with Citi because they “present” the Rose Bowl nor am I any more likely to attend the game.

Here’s a list of former bowl games that are now under the corporate spell. A spell, by the way, those corporations write off on their taxes just so we have to say longer names for games we’re interested in. Those in bold have no single blatant corporate sponsors in their names or on their web sites. I’m not opposed to sponsors—that’s just advertising. But don’t make it part of the name. Only 5 out of 34 (15%) fit that bill.

Bowl game logos

  • December 19th games
    • St. Petersburg Bowl Presented by Beef ‘O’ Brady’s
    • New Mexico Bowl IV—no blatant single corporate sponsor
  • December 20th game: R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
  • December 22nd game: MAACO Bowl Las Vegas
  • December 23rd game: San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
  • December 24th game: Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
  • December 26th games
    • Little Ceasars Pizza Bowl (formerly the Motor City Bowl Presented by GM, Ford, and Union Carpenters and Millwrights)
    • Meinike Car Care Bowl
    • Emerald Bowl—no blatant single corporate sponsor
  • December 27th game: Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl (Franklin American Mortgage Company Music City Bowl in 2010)
  • December 28th game: Advocare V100 Independence Bowl
  • December 29th games
    • Champs Sports Bowl—no blatant single corporate sponsor
    • EagleBank Bowl
  • December 30th games
    • Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl—any irony in a truck stop chain being associated with humanitarian?
    • Pacific Life Holiday Bowl
  • December 31st games
    • Texas Bowl—no blatant single corporate sponsor
    • Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
    • Insight Bowl
    • Brut Sun Bowl
    • Chick-fil-A Bowl (formerly the Peach Bowl)
  • January 1st games
    • 96th Rose Bowl Game Presented by Citi
    • 75th Anniversary Allstate Sugar Bowl
    • Outback Bowl
    • Konica Minolta Gator Bowl
    • Capital One Bowl
  • January 2nd games
    • PapaJohns.com Bowl
    • Valero Alamo Bowl
    • AT&T Cotton Bowl
    • 51st AutoZone Liberty Bowl
    • International Bowl—no blatant single corporate sponsor
  • January 4th game: 39th Annual Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
  • January 5th game: FedEx Orange Bowl
  • January 6th game: GMAC Bowl—no wonder they got into trouble; the countdown to kickoff says 367 days, but I figure it’s 3 days
  • January 7th game: BCS Championship Bowl in association with Fox Sports

pizza bowl

As if the bankruptcy of two of the Big 3 domestic automakers wasn’t bad enough, Detroit suffers another blow. The Motor City Bowl is now a pizza bowl. Nothing against Little Ceasars, but couldn’t they have gone with the Motor City Bowl Presented by Little Ceasars? Sheesh!

Sat, 02 Jan 2010

Word Czars Unfriend 15 Words and Phrases

Filed under: Bailout, Economy, Government, Humor, Language, Life, People, Politics, President, Society — cynicalsynapse @ 2:42 pm

Unfriend T-shirt

Lake Superior State University, located in Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan’s upper penninsula, released its 35th annual list of banished words. The list started during a New Year’s Eve party in 1975. Since then it has been an annual effort to banish words and phrases from the Queen’s English for misuse, overuse, and general uselessness.

Said a word banishment spokesperson, “the list this year is a ‘teachable moment’ conducted free of ‘tweets. In these economic times’, purging our language of ‘toxic assets’ is a ‘stimulus’ effort that’s ‘too big to fail’.”

Just go away

The List of Banished Words is developed from reader submissions. Here are the 2010 banished words and phrases.

  • Shovel-ready—a project fully designed but waiting for work to begin
  • Transparent/transparency—easily understood and fully disclosed
  • Czar—a specialized, high authority appointment
  • Tweet—sending a message on Twitter; also banned are all tweet’s variations, such as tweetaholic, retweet, twitterhea, twitterature, and twittersphere
  • App—as in applets for the iPhone
  • Sexting—sending sexually explicit pictures and text messages by cell phone
  • Friend as a verb—adding someone to your network on social media sites; also banned are the related friending, unfriend, and unfriending
  • Teachable moment—how about just plain lesson?
  • In these economic times…—aren’t all times economic?
  • Stimulus—it’s just plain overused and has no clear boundaries (or effect, that I can see)
  • Toxic assets—a euphemism for bad investments and debt
  • Too big to fail—no one knows if anything’s too big to fail because we’ve never seen it happen
  • Bromance—a close relationship between two straight males
  • Chillaxin’—a combination chilling and relaxing; a multi-year nominee, it finally wore out its welcome
  • Obama-prefix or roots—such as Obamanomics, Obamanation, Obamafication, Obamacare, Obamalicious, and Obamaland; although it got no nominations, the Word Banishment Committee decided Obamanough already

HT: theblogprof

Fri, 01 Jan 2010

Michigan’s Top Embarassments of 2009

Michigan welcome sign

Michigan is a beautiful state, with lots of great people, and countless things to do. We’ve had our fair share of scandals and otherwise embarassing momements, however. It seems like 2009 had more than previous years in recent memory.

The Rossman Group, a Lansing public relations firm, came up with their list of Michigan’s Top Ten Public Relations Blunders for 2009. I don’t necessarily agree with their ranking. Ostensibly, they developed their list as a result of feedback solicited on Twitter.

Lots of people do top ten lists at the end of the year. Another popular method of summing up a year is the year-in-review format. So here is the Cynical Synapse 2009 Year in Review.

Michael Phelps with bong

January. Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps was pictured smoking marijuana. Not surprisingly, the winner of 14 gold medals lost his lucrative spokesman gig with Battle Creek-based cereal maker Kellogg. On top of that, the former University of Michigan swimming sensation was also suspended from competition.

Pete Hoekstra

February. US Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), who scored 9th on Rossman’s list, actually has a couple of faux pas this year. Hoesktra started by twittering his Iraq itinerary during a Congressional delegation visit there. How does the wannabe-governor square that with his remarks in a 2006 LA Times op-ed?

We are a nation at war. Unauthorized disclosures of classified information only help terrorists and our enemies—and put American lives at risk.

In November, Hoesktra revealed national security information in his haste to criticize the Obama administration for missing the red flags in MAJ Nidal M. Hasan’s behavior. Back on his high horse in December, he blasted the administration for not “connecting the dots” and failing to properly screen Abdulmatallob. Perhaps Hoekstra’s forgotten he voted against TSA funding, including explosives screeners. Republican Sen. Jim DeMint (SC) also has a hold on confirmation of a new chief for the Transportation Security Administration.

Don’t misunderstand. There were three terrorist acts committed on US territory by radical Muslims in 2009. Each case involves connections to Yemen, presumably al-Qaida in the Arabian Penninsula, and each included suspicions by authorities. The MAJ Hasan and Abdulmatallab cases are fresh in mind. The other was the June slaying of a young Soldier at a US Army Recruiting Station in West Little Rock, AR.

Barbara-Rose Collins in Detroit City Council

March. Next up is Detroit City Council member Barbara-Rose Collins and her rendition of “Onward Christian Sodiers” in session. How bizarre is that?

In the same month, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing was accused of inflating his educational degrees.

Dealerships closing

April. The Chrysler Group slashed dealerships in a radical effort to cut costs. General Motors similary sought to eliminate dealerships. While I understand the concept of wanting dealerships to be profitable, I’m confused about how the number of dealerships affects the automakers.

Watson's home

May. Detroit Council Member Joann Watson paid only $68 in property taxes for years. Her neighbors paid between $2,000 and $6,500, but that didn’t stop Watson from evading her tax liabilities. She thought her “reduced” tax rate was due to her imagined tornado damage, or something.

Monica Conyers

June. Detroit Council Member Monica Conyers is indicted on bribery charges for the Synagro sludge contract with Detroit. Conyers pleaded guilty, resigned from Council, and is still pending sentencing.

Sam Riddle

July. Former Monica Conyers aide Sam Riddle was indicted for bribery in the same Synagro fiasco that did his former boss in. He was also charged, along with Mary Waters, with taking bribes from a Southfield jewelry store. That’s the same Mary Waters Riddle pointed a gun at after she caught him with another woman. Riddle has been in trouble with the courts for his updates about the case on Twitter.

Rich Rodriguez press conference

August. Before the start of the season, several University of Michigan football players alleged breaking NCAA rules by being required to practice more than allowed. At the press conference denying the allegations, head coach Rich Rodriguez appeared to tear up. The team finished the season with a record of 5-7 overall and a bottom-of-the-conference 1-7 in the Big 10. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) investigation into the allegations is still on-going.

September. During the Republican leadership conference on Mackinac Island, the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance (MTA) sponsored a debate with Republican gubernatorial candidates. At first, the MTA invited all candidates, then uninvited State Sen. Tom George. They said the problem was limited air time on the radio station that agreed to broadcast the debate. After complaints, the MTA re-invited George to the debate.

Kwame Kilpatrick

October. Former Detroit mayor and felon Kwame Kilpatrick sued his lawyer, Mike Stefani over the text messages that brought about the mayor’s downfall and perjury conviction. Even after serving his sentence and moving to Texas, Kilpatrick continues to embarass the Motor City.

Tina Houghton

November. As proof that Detroit is not the only place with law-breaking politicians, Lansing’s councilperson-elect Tina Houghton owes $3,300 in back taxes but signed an affidavit saying she didn’t owe the city anything. She signed the affidavit in May, when she became a candidate for council. At the time, she didn’t owe the taxes, but she later didn’t pay her summer property taxes. And she didn’t fess up to the electorate during the campaign, either. Shades of JoAnn Watson. There’s hope and change for you.

Another Republican gubernatorial candidate is in trouble. Besides Hoekstra exposing intelligence, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox is backpedalling on the 2003 Manoogian Manson party investigation, which is tied to the Tamara Green murder investigation. Cox was unable to substantiate allegations of former Detroit mayor Kilpatrick’s legendary party at the mayor’s residence during which his wife, Carlita, is said to have hit Green, a stripper, for what she was doing with Kwame. With absolutely no one coming forth to substantiate the party, or provide details into Green’s murder, I’m having a hard time believing the legend is true, personally. That doesn’t change the fact it’s causing political problems for Cox even though Kilpatrick was a Democrat.

Nearly empty Ford Field

The biggest embarassment of November is the Detroit Lions, who saw their lowest attendance against St. Louis, with 40,857 at Ford Field. That’s only slightly worse than the 40,876 who attended the Lions game against DC in September. For the season, Lions attendance ranks 31st out of 32 teams. With a current season record of 2-13, don’t expect this to improve for Sunday’s game against the Bulls. Needless to say, there were a lot of blacked out home gomes.

Kilpatrick testifying

December. Kwame Kilpatrick returned to the D for a restitution hearing. Still not done dissing the Motor City, Kilpatrick unilaterally cut his restitution payments in June when his employer, Covisint, stopped advancing his pay. But wait, there’s more below the surface, and it came out during Kilpatrick’s restitution hearings.

And then there’s Hoekstra, again, blaming Obama for the al-Qaida attack over Detroit. Does this two-faced, non-expert, twittering twat not realize how idiotic he is?

For 2010: Let’s hope it’s a lot better than 2009. Happy New Year!

Update:

02 Jan 2010

Because these guys span the entire year, with certain high points, they didn’t make our year in review. But if I was going to do a top ten style list, they’d be right at the top for their buffoonery and the magnitude of their effects on Michigan.

Dillon and Granholm

Special Mention. Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) has been virtually AWOL (away without leave) during 2009. Sure, she’s been physically present and huffed and puffed, with a little blamethrowing, but nothing of substance. In short, Granholm has exhibited a glaring lack of leadership, especially during the budget debates. In fact, her failure to be involved makes me think Pres. Obama must have turned her down for some big Washington job. I think she’s been bummed out all year.

Working hard not to be shown up by Granholm is State House Speaker Andy Dillon (D-Redford). Despite not having the fiscal year 2010 budget settled, Dillon gave the House most of the summer off. When they finally came back to work, Dillon acted more like a Republican. First, he called Granholm’s September budget proposal showboating. Then he virtually agreed with every cut in the Republican-led Senate’s budget bills. Even then, some departments are still operating on “bridging” budgets rather than actual appropriations bills. Since constituents were against Dillon’s deal, there’s speculation the real deal has to do with 2010 elections. Dillon is considering a run for governor—a tragic error for Michigan if you ask me—and Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) has announced his candidacy for state Attorney General.

Wed, 30 Dec 2009

Hoekstra Uses Christmas Terror Attack for Fundraising

Police arrest Abdulmutallab on NW 253

Politics in Michigan has been a debacle for some time now. And, as the election year draws near, it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better any time soon. Both the Democrats and the Republicans are busy being devisive within their own parties, but that’s a topic for another post.

In the aftermath of the attemped suicide bombing of Northwest flight 253 on Christmas Day, many are outraged at how the attack could take place. US Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) wasted no time blaming Obama’s administration. The President himself called the incident “a systemic failure”.

When our government has information on a known extremist and that information is not shared and acted upon as it should have been, so that this extremist boards a plane with dangerous explosives that could have cost nearly 300 lives, a systemic failure has occurred. And I consider that totally unacceptable.

As the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Hoekstra’s certainly entitled—even expected—to question the failure to “connect the dots” in terrorist Abdulmatallab’s case. While he may be doing that, he seems far more interested in using the incident for political capital. As a Michigan gubernatorial candidate, Hoekstra sent out a fundraising email citing the Dec. 25th terrorist act. You can read the complete text, but here’s what’s relevant.

Hoekstra on CBS' The Early Show

They just don’t get it. The system didn’t “work” here. Far from it! It is insulting that The Obama administration would make such a claim, but then again, these are the same weak-kneed liberals who have recently tried to bring Guantanamo Bay terrorists right here to Michigan!

My promise to you, as your governor, my first duty and most solemn responsibility is to keep Michigan safe!

For almost a decade I have been a leader on National Security and at the forefront of the war on terror. I understand the real and continuing threat radical jihadists pose to our great state of Michigan and our great Nation.

I have pledged that I will do “everything possible” to prevent these terrorists from coming to Michigan.

But I need your help.

If you agree that we need a Governor who will stand up the Obama/Pelosi efforts to weaken our security please make a most generous contribution of $25, $50, $100 or even $250 to my campaign.

CH-47 helicopters at work in Iraq

Talk about being an opportunistic asshole. We already have enough buffoons in political office like that.

You may recall, even though he should know better as the Republican leader of the House Intelligence Committee, Hoekstra broadcast his secret Iraq itinerary on Twitter. This is the guy who included an intelligence leak in an anti-leak op-ed piece he wrote. Never mind that Hoekstra compromised a sensitive intelligence program just for the sake of criticizing the Administration’s handling of the Fort Hood massacre. And these aren’t Hoekstra’s only security-related faux pas.

Hoesktra says he’s a national security expert, but that’s obviously not the case. He also says he’ll be an effective leader for Michigan. How does he define that? The kind that takes advantage of situations for personal or politcal gain? Or the kind that’s easily bought for the right vote? Hoekstra originally voted against the Wall Street bailout bill in the House, but voted for it after the Senate added another $100 billion in earmarks. What did he get to change his vote in just 5 days?

Mon, 09 Nov 2009

Democrats Out of Step; Pass Healthcare Bill in House

Filed under: Bailout, Budget, Citizen rights, Congress, Economy, Government, Medicine, Mental health, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 11:50 pm

US House passes healthcare bill

On November 7th, the US House narrowly passed their healthcare reform bill. The vote was 220 for and 215 against, largely along party lines. In fact, only one Republican, Joseph Cao (LA), voted for HR 3962, titled the Affordable Health Care for America Act. See how your representative voted in Roll Call 887. I can tell you, Michigan’s delegation voted strictly by party, Democrats for and Republicans against. How’s that for independent thinking and voicing the will of their constituents? At least 39 Democrats from other states voted their conscience.

I’m not convinced our healthcare system is the greatest on the planet; I know it has flaws. I also think every human being is entitled to basic health care and that society owes such to its members. But I’m not a proponent of so-called socialized medicine nor do I support mandated insurance. To be honest, I don’t have an answer as to how to reconcile my belief in universal access without the stipulations of the various healthcare reforms under consideration. I think, however, mandating coverage or penalizing individuals and/or businesses for not having such is not the answer. I’m also somewhat disturbed the by the emphasis on “get this done now.”

Advanced imaging system

Frankly, I don’t understand why we don’t look at fixing the issues with the current healthcare system. Once upon a time, every hospital wasn’t supposed to have the latest and greatest, but now they all do. And both Medicare and Medicaid are rife with waste, fraud, and abuse. There aren’t enough investigators to trim this bloodletting, but hiring more investigators has got to be cheaper than HR 3962.

The economics of the House bill are certainly questionable. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office says the unfunded mandate on the private sector exceeds the $139 million cap established by the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA). So, how can Congress pass a bill that violates another law? I also question the Constitutionality of mandating everyone buy insurance. Constitutional lawyers seem to think it’s ok, however. They cite Congress’ authority under the commerce, taxing, or spending powers.

But, if this is such a good thing, why is it so definitively split among party lines? The House plan still won’t insure everyone, achieving 96% at best. Support for the bill in the Senate is questionable. Independent Joe Lieberman threatens to prevent the House bill from coming to a vote as long as it includes a so-called public option insurance plan.

So, how are Democrats out of step? Well, to begin with, HR 3962 was passed, barely, along party lines. Further, the 2009 election results show Obama’s charisma has faded from the minds of voters. On top of that, jobs seem to be a low priority for Democrats. Unemployment keeps creeping up even though President Obama and Congress threw $787 billion at creating or keeping jobs.

No new jobs. No economic revival. No tangible benefit to credible infrastructure from the so-called Stimulus. Has anyone actually read the bill? Democrats are out of step with the priorities of the nation. And since current government healthcare is riddled with waste, fraud, and abuse, why would anyone propose expanding such a program?


Sun, 25 Oct 2009

Racist Tax Cheat Wants Bailout for Detroit

Filed under: Bailout, Budget, Detroit, Economy, Government, Hypocrits, Politics, Racism, Take action — cynicalsynapse @ 5:53 pm

JoAnn Watson's house

I don’t see any tornado damage on the house justifying JoAnn Watson’s property tax bill of $68 for the last 10 years. That’s what the Detroit City Councilwoman has been paying while her neighbors paid $5-6,000. Seems to me a councilmember should be quite aware of what tax rates are, especially with Detroit’s budget shortfalls. For someone who huffs and puffs about tax evaders, Watson was only going to pay the last 3 years, which is all the city can charge her. Media attention and her desire for reelection to council are the only reasons she paid her back taxes in full. Probably no interest, though.

Detroiters mob Cobo Center for federal housing assistance

Although she says she wants a diverse Detroit, Watson’s racist attitudes have oozed out a few times. Just last year, when trying to get former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to resign, Watson said, “Nobody wants a white woman in Lansing to decide the fate of a black man in Detroit.” Watson called for boycotting the suburbs during the time the Detroit Zoo was teetering on the brink of extinction. In fact, her racism pre-dates her tenure on the city council. At the time she was Director of the Detroit Branch—the largest&mdash of the NAACP, Watson refused to help stop the spread of black supremecist literature at Ferris State. I guess it’s just part of that whole “Black people can’t be racist” thing.

Does incumbant council candidate JoAnn Watson have a vision for Detroit? Why yes, she does and she took a whole year developing it. She calls it the Detroit Marshall Plan. She’s calling for rapid transit, renewable energy, re-population, routing housing to families in need from government resources, and providing jobs for heads of households. Since Detroit deserves its share of the Stimulus, she plans to pay for this with a $1 billion Federal handout. Watson also wants a multi-year moratorium on foreclosures in Detroit. Concerning Detroit’s $300 million budget deficit, Watson would’d cut from the top of city departments, including all deputy directors, not from the workers at the bottom.

Councilwoman JoAnn Watson during a session

While the ideas in Watson’s Marshall Plan may make sense, her concept of implementing it is just pie in the sky. No where in her Detroit Free Press council candidate online chat does she propose solutions for Detroit’s systemic problems and inefficiencies. In short, Watson is clueless to how dysfunctional Detroit government is. And she wants to remain part of the problem. Hey, JoAnn. How’s that billion-dollar bailout working for you?

I couldn’t say it any better than this guy. He gets it. Detroiters, vote out all the incumbent city council members except Ken Cockerel Jr. and Kwame Kenyatta. The others all have issues. This is probably the most important election in the city’s 308 years.


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