Inside and outside of Oakland

Super Bowl Hail Marys: Politicians throw them too

  No Super Bowl is complete without a talk about the Hail Mary pass, that last-second toss of desperation that, in the words of comics character Charlie Brown, can make you the hero or the goat.
  Just think of last year's Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and New York Giants, when Patriots' QB Tom Brady's Hail Mary throw with 9 seconds left was deflected, giving the Giants a comeback 21-17 win in the annual football classic.
  But not all Hail Mary tosses happen on the field.
  There's a growing trend for politicians to throw their own Hail Marys on Super Bowl Sunday.
  Political Hail Marys don't happen on the field, however. They're part of the mostly amusing advertising produced for the annual event.
  Sometimes the ads are used to jumpstart a political campaign. Sometimes, as in football, it's to shift the momentum.
  As in football, sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.
  Here's a look at three recent Super Bowl Sunday political Hail Marys:

The great toilet paper debate: Michigan public education funding

  The partisan debate over public education funding in Michigan has come down to this: There's no money for toilet paper — or textbooks that can be used as a substitute.
  So says Michigan state Rep. Tim Greimel, an Auburn Hills Democrat and minority party leader in the state House. Greimel says funding cuts by the Republican-controlled Legislature are so severe that the school district in Pontiac, Mich., can't afford toilet paper or the textbooks to use in its place.
  "It might be funny if it weren't true," Greimel said in a Friday email.

Repealing Michigan Right-To-Work law as likely as palm trees on Lake Superior shoreline

    An effort to repeal Michigan's new right-to-work law has about as much chance of passing as:
  • Palm trees growing on the Lake Superior shoreline,
  • The satirical website The Onion publishing a straight news story,
  But the effort is underway anyway.

Michigan Supreme Court: Time to change selection of justices and campaign finance laws?

  At least two organizations think so.
  The Michigan Campaign Finance Network and the League of Women Voters say the November campaigns for supreme court and the amount of undisclosed money spent to influence the outcome of those races signal time for a change.
  Rich Robinson, from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, says as much as three-quarters of the millions of dollars spent on supreme court races for issue advertising was exempt from dislosure.
  It's a phenomenon that reached down to the race for two Oakland County Circuit Court seats.
  The two groups want greater transparency in Michigan campaign finance when it comes to "issue ads" they liken to "drive-by shootings" because of their inaccuracy. They argue most voters don't know who is running for judge and deserve to make informed decisions when picking their judicial candidates.

In Washington and Michigan, guns and debt top the agenda

  The U.S. House is tackling legislation to let the federal government borrow enough to pay three months’ worth of bills to avoid a U.S. default on its debt and the ripples it would send through the economy.
  But one local Republican thinks Congress should let the government default:

  The legislation before the U.S. House also includes a provision to withhold the pay for House or Senate members if they fail to pass a budget. The Senate hasn't acted on a budget since 2009.
  In Lansing, the Republican-led Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee was considering three gun-related bills.

Inauguration 2013: The day after and what it may mean

  There's no doubt that the weather in Washington was chilly for President Barack Obama's second inauguration, even though it wasn't particularly cold by northern standards of January. But it was cold enough to be noteworthy by people in attendance.
  The day after the inauguration, pundits are weighing in on its significance, from Obama's address to the political challenges ahead. The online Politico put together a wrap and snapshot of the day after.
  Here's what Politico's Morning Score had to say:

Inauguration Day: It was SO cold that ....

....politicians were putting their hands in their own pockets.
  Actually, the temperatures in Washington for the second-term inauguration of President Barack Obama fell on the high end of the historical norm — upper 30s to low 40s.
  The average high is 42 and the average low is 28, meaning the president had above average ratings from the weather gods.
  But the temperatures at the high end aren't all that much lower than the president's approval rating as he begins a second term.

Gun Control: Many facets to the debate

  The already polarized debate over gun control will likely become more so in the aftermath of President Barack Obama's $500 million proposal for greater controls announced Wednesday.
  The president issued some 23 executive actions and wants Congress to take additional steps to control guns in the wake of the massacre a month ago at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.

  Obama wants Congress to ban assault weapons, require background checks for gun purchases, limit high-capacity magazines and put an additional 1,000 police officers in schools.
  By executive order, he authorized tougher penalties for people who lie on background checks, required federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations, authorized community grants to keep guns from people who shouldn't have them and gave schools flexibility to use federal money to improve school safety.
  In images, here's a look at some of the key facets to the gun control debate:

Democrats respond to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's State of the State address — before it happens

  Michigan Democrats typically respond to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's annual State of the State address.
  This year, they're jumping the gun and responding BEFORE the governor's annual address at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Capitol Building in Lansing.
  State Rep. Tim Greimel, the leader of the Democrats in the Michigan House, held his own short speech Tuesday, called the "Real State of the State," in which he criticized Snyder and the Republican-controlled Legislature for policies over the last two years that have harmed the middle class.
  Republicans dismissed Greimel's remarks as a "slash-and-burn political ploy."
  Snyder's address will be carried live at

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to seek a second term?

  Michigan's Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has two years to go in his first four-year term as governor. There's signs his political opponents, i.e. Democrats, won't be happy with him in two years (not that they're pleased with him now.)
  Though the 2014 gubernatorial election is still two years off, Snyder is indicating he's up for a second term.
  In an email Saturday to Republicans urging them to re-elect Michigan Republican Party Chairman Bobby Schostak as party chairman in February, Snyder let slip twice that he plans to be around for a second term.

Michigan right-to-work debate settled? Not by a long shot

  It might be a new year and new legislative session, but Michigan's debate over right-to-work laws continues.

Ssshhh! Don't tell anyone but it's official....Obama won

  The new Congress seated in Washington Thursday had to perform one of their required tasks Friday — counting the Electoral College votes to certify Barack Obama's Nov. 6 election as president.
  The official counting of electoral votes by four members of the House and Senate gave Obama 332 electoral votes to 206 for Republican Mitt Romney, paving the way for Obama's inauguration Jan. 21, and well above the 270 electoral votes needed to certify Obama as the winner.
  The Electoral College equals the number of representatives and senators from each state and the District of Columbia for a total of 538.
  With a couple of exceptions, electors are pledged to back the winner of the popular vote in each state. A slate of electors are picked in each state for each candidate prior to the popular election. Michigan's 16 electors, for example, were pledged to Obama after the Nov. 6 voting.
  Nationally, Obama received about 5 million more votes than Romney for a 51-47 percent victory in the Nov. 6 voting.

Voters catch a break in 2013 after a hectic 2012 election year

  Oakland County voters get a break in 2013 after a 2012 election year packed with the contested Republican presidential primary, the presidential race itself and a November ballot jammed with everything from the presidential race to constable in one community.
  Along the way, they endured an unexpected congressional vacancy in western Oakland County and an intra-party fight to fill the seat in a saga that included criminal prosecutions and special elections.
  By comparison, 2013 promises to be a snoozer of an election year.