For the past few weeks an old radio colleague and friend, Nicole Sandler, has been railing about a bizarre story unfolding in south central Michigan, in the 8th CD-- Lansing all the way to northern Oakland County. It smelled like another one of those cases where an entrenched Republican incumbent was able to insert a "challenger" of his own choosing. Keep in mind the 8th was one of three Michigan congressional districts represented by Republicans, and where Bush won in 2000 and 2004 but in which Obama managed to rack up substantial wins in 2008. It looked ripe for the plucking-- until the Debbie Wasserman Schultz strategy prevailed at the DCCC and it was decided to abandon the offensive in these blue-trending districts and instead try to hold onto the seats of anti-Choice, antigay, anti-healthcare Blue Dogs in deeply red districts where McCain won. At Wasserman Schultz's direction virtually all DCCC resources is going into the pointless task of contesting seats of Boehner supporting Democrats like Bobby Bright (Blue Dog-AL), Travis Childers (Blue Dog-MS), Frank Kratovil (Blue Dog-MD), Chris Carney (Blue Dog-PA), Harry Mitchell (Blue Dog-AZ) and other Democrats whose default positions on key legislation is to just follow Boehner. Democratic challengers, even in districts that have been proven winnable for Democrats, are being completely starved, not just in Michigan but everywhere in America. (Ironically, if the Democrats lose control of the House, Wasserman Schultz expects to be rewarded with the DCCC chairmanship; it's how things work Inside-the-Beltway.)
Anyway, from the first I heard Nicole talking about the race in MI-08, it reminded me of another race we covered in 2006, but here in California. At the time one of the most egregiously corrupt Republicans in the House, Jerry Lewis, looked to be on the verge of indictment on bribery charges. He moved aggressively to make sure his "opponent" would be someone with no chance of winning-- not unlike Jim DeMint managed to do in South Carolina this year. In 2006 Jerry Lewis managed to manipulate the system so that non-campaigner Louie Contreras would be the Democratic nominee. It's an interesting story and I suggest you read it (at the link). This year, Lewis' close friend Mike Rogers seems to have tried the same stunt and managed to guarantee that a shadow candidate from Pennsylvania, Kande Ngalamulume, would be his "opponent." Eventually Ngalamulume withdrew, but not until his name was officially on the ballot. It was with great effort that local Democrats-- with help from Nicole, but none whatsoever from the DCCC-- were able to replace him with a real Democrat, Lance Enderle. The other day I called Lance to talk about this but wound up getting into more fertile, but not unrelated, areas of discussion. I asked him to put together a guest post for DWT which you will find below the photo of him in the Alan Grayson tie:
Even Americans who don't understand basic civics class details get it; something in Washington is badly broken.
Democrats sent Barack Obama to the White House with sixty Senate votes and a nice margin in the House. The President has made dramatic strides as an executive, particularly in pushing rule making across the board in Federal agencies that will thwart Republican mischief if they do take back the House in November. The House itself has been a legislative engine, pushing through effort after effort-- some 330 of which await the attention of the Senate where those bills either perish, or get the interests of the people squeezed out of them by lobbyists.
We say; "health care reform," and we get a bill that cures some of the worst abuses. But its health insurance reform, not the health care access we need to be globally competitive. The United States is number one in costs, and 37th of the 38 industrialized nations in terms of quality of care. The health insurance industry is a social parasite that has bled this nation dry. The President should cut Congressional health benefits by executive order and dare them to offer anything less to all Americans.
If the war in Iraq is over bring the troops home! If the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable, which many military analysts have long thought was the case, hang the responsibility around George W. Bush's neck and get our troops home alive, instead of bringing them home in flag draped caskets flown into Dover. The reality is we will likely have some long term, low intensity commitment to keeping some semblance of order in Afghanistan. And if that's the case, let our troops keep order-- not murderous foreign contractors who create more problems than they solve.
Why haven't we repealed "Don't Ask/Don't Tell?" Every other western military has gay and lesbian troops. The problems aren't operational; they're attitude issues from the top. Last I knew the military in this country was under civilian control; the will of the people in this matter is clear.
Why haven't we passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed, and the Uniting American Families Act? These rational and just acts have been allowed to linger instead of being passing because Democrats play the LGBT community just as the Republicans use those who are passionate abortion opponents-- lots of chatter but no results. I need LGBT support, but I can understand if the community simply decides to stay home after the hard work they did in 2006 and 2008 campaigns which put Democrats in office.
Why haven't we passed the Employee Free Choice Act? Income inequality today is as bad as it was in 1929, unions were the obvious cure back then, but now, 60% of our GDP is in the hands of the wealthiest 1% in our country. The rich buy politicians and laws like purchasing snacks from a vending machine. We need jobs, and Congress can make that happen, but not until we put lobbyists in the unemployment lines.
I'm a teacher. I cannot write about "No Child Left Behind" without using words I could never say in a classroom. This law isn't about improving schools; it's about punishing teachers unions. The voters need to punish Congress by instilling political chopping blocks starting in November, and continuing until the school systems serve the needs of children-- not the whims of ideologues.
Dangerous coal mines have collapsed, killing dozens. British Petroleum, who receives 97% of all serious safety citations, has made a mess in the Gulf of Mexico to an extent that it will take generations to clean it up, and longer to recover economically. Hydraulic fracture to produce shale gas makes profits for a year and ruins groundwater for a geological age.
If we had any sense at all we'd be focusing on renewable energy production. Instead, fossil fuel industries, subsidized by taxpayers, are using a sliver of their profits to purchase all the politicians they need to keep their noses in the public trough. Portugal gets 45% of their electricity from renewable sources while we get nonsensical excuses as to why we can't do the same here.
Starting with Pilgrims in 1620, America is a nation of immigrants. Every time a new ethnic group arrives they're mistreated by those who came before them. The Irish were reviled when they came during the potato famine. The Italians got the same treatment when they came. Now anyone with brown skin and a Muslim sounding name is branded a terrorist, and anyone with a Hispanic name is called 'an illegal.' Nonsense! Americans are judged by their character and their deeds-- we cannot smear entire ethnic groups because a few foreign funded fanatics perpetrated terrible violence to us.
Privatization of Social Security is not the answer. I'm not willing to let Wall Street gamble with our retirement funds. With a watchful eye, and proper planning, Social Security will be just fine. But, if you get a check from this program it's going to happen because someone with a "Z" or a vowel at the end of their name is paying into it. If we don't do the right thing on immigration we'll end up with the same problem that Japan has now-- a shrinking, aging population, and young people increasingly burdened by supporting older generations.
Send me to Congress and I guarantee I'll be too busy pushing good policies to notice if you speak with an accent. If my office gets a Christmas card with a photo of Adam and Steve in the living room of their new home, I'll personally tack it on my office door with all the rest, at eye level in the center.
Mike Rogers has $1.4 million in the bank. Lance's campaign has $137.52. If you're unemployed and live in Michigan's 8th District, you can phone bank or canvas. If you're out of the district you can follow Lance's campaign at Facebook and Twitter and if you've managed to keep your job in the middle of this economic crisis and you've got some coin to spare, please consider donating to his campaign at the DownWithTyranny ActBlue page.
HuffPost Politics brings you the top political stories three days a week. Learn more