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Opinion

Coach John Beilein | Michigan Wolverines Men's Basketball. You can lose a game and still be a victor
John Auchter

I saw an interview with John Beilein after the Michigan loss to Villanova in the men's NCAA championship game on Monday. It was a fairly standard "what went wrong, what would you do differently, how do you feel about it?" sort of exercise, which Coach Beilein handled graciously. But when the interviewer asked Beilein about his team, he visibly brightened.

 

When the law is an ass

Apr 5, 2018
The MDEQ's Bay City Business Center
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

There’s little doubt that the most appalling part of the Snyder administration has been the laughably misnamed Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

You have to give the MDEQ this: It never misses an opportunity to show that it doesn’t care about the environment, or what the citizens of Michigan think, unless they happen to be executives of large corporations.

Whitmer's plan to rebuild Michigan

Apr 4, 2018
profile shot of Gretchen Whitmer
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Four years ago, I went to see Mark Schauer, then the Democratic nominee for governor. He had rightly criticized the Republicans for letting the roads fall apart, and vowed to fix them.

But when I asked how he was going to get the money for that, he really didn’t have an answer. My guess was that he didn’t want to risk losing votes by saying he was going to raise taxes. I left wondering if he deserved to win.

Romney McDaniel’s disgraceful tweet

Apr 3, 2018
RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel holding a microphone
www.migop.org

George Romney was only governor of Michigan for six years, but he was one of the most important figures in our modern political history. He was the moving force behind our current State constitution. He had the brains to recognize that a modern industrial state needed a state income tax, and the guts to fight to get one enacted.

As college costs rise, low-income students hurt the most

Apr 2, 2018

I was struck by something buried in an article in the Sunday New York Times that began by noting that students who go to Princeton often marry each other.

Elites, in other words, tend to marry elites.

This was not exactly a world-shaking revelation. People have always tended to marry people they grow up with, work with and live among, and despite the movies, of pretty much the same socio-economic and,
increasingly, educational status.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The Detroit auto show isn’t dead.

It just feels that way.

The latest casualties are the princes of the German auto industry. First Mercedes-Benz won’t be attending next year’s auto show. Neither will its Bavarian brother, BMW.

Bets on how long until Audi follows, if only to prove parity with the other two? Sooner rather than later, unless that Volkswagen luxury brand sees opportunity staying with Detroit.

Play ball. But not this early.

Mar 30, 2018
Comerica Park
Kevin Ward / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1f2P1w6

Yesterday was supposed to be the Detroit Tigers’ opening game, except that it was rained out. Well, of course it was. This is March in Michigan and trying to play baseball here and now is an abomination unto the Lord.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Among the many things to admire about the youth who led the March for Our Lives events this past week is their patriotism. That may sound a little off because their detractors have gone to some lengths to question that very thing.

When the internet becomes deadly

Mar 29, 2018

I had an intensely painful lunch earlier this week with a woman who is a mid-level executive of one of the auto companies. She used to be concerned about the future of the auto industry. She is also deeply religious, and is appalled by what was going on in Washington.

Appalled in theory, that is. In reality, she no longer cares. For her, life as she knew it has been destroyed by a growing epidemic you may never have heard about.

MSU’s worsening nightmare

Mar 28, 2018
Dr. William Strampel
Michigan State University

In a way, the news that the longtime dean of Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine has been charged with criminal sexual conduct may be even worse than the revelations about Larry Nassar. MSU’s line all along has been that Nassar, the former sports medicine doctor who molested hundreds of women, was an anomaly.

Journalism’s dilemma in the age of Trump

Mar 27, 2018

One of my morning rituals is that after I have written for a while, I wake up my Australian Shepherd and we engage in a vigorous game of tug of war while I watch the headlines on CNN.

When I did this yesterday, the screen was filled with Anderson Cooper, one of the best interviewers in journalism today, with an excerpt from his interview the night before of a porn star. He was asking her whether her most famous contact had used a condom during their sexual encounter, and as she said no, I turned the TV off.

The Great Lakes, the budget, and you

Mar 26, 2018
satellite map of Michigan, the Great Lakes
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Congress passed a budget that gets us through the summer, Donald Trump has signed it, and it contains good news for all of us. For one thing, it means we have again dodged a government shutdown, at least till September.

For another, for the second year in a row, Congress has mostly reversed all the bad things the Trump administration wanted to do to Michigan. That would have included eliminating funds to protect the nation’s most important source of fresh water, a $300 million dollar program called the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

So Bill Ford wants the Blue Oval to buy the decrepit Michigan Central Depot. You know that toothless edifice, empty and decaying since 1988, towering over Detroit’s Corktown. It’s an 18-story high reminder of the industrial and financial decline that has been synonymous with this town.         

Until very recently.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

The songwriting credit for the majority of Beatles songs is listed as "Lennon-McCartney," but in truth most of the songs were composed individually by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. One of the more famous examples of actual collaboration in the later years of the band is the song "Getting Better." In the refrain, the more optimistic and positive McCartney wrote the lyric, "It's getting better all the time," and the more pessimistic and negative Lennon contributes the next line, "Can't get no worse."

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley
Michigan House Republicans

Once upon a time, there was a Republican governor of Michigan who enthusiastically endorsed his lieutenant governor as his successor. The governor was very popular.

His lieutenant governor was also respected and well-liked. He was good-looking and had an impressive background as a lawyer, FBI agent, and president of Eastern Michigan University.

Dropping pennies into potholes

Mar 21, 2018
Roads
Wikimedia Commons

Governor Rick Snyder was all relentlessly positive smiles yesterday when he signed a bill adding $175 million dollars to this year’s state’s road repair budget.

“There are roads that actually will get fixed because of this investment. You are going to see a lot of barrels in every corner of Michigan because of this,” the governor added.

Doctor's stethoscope
Pixabay.com

Five years ago, Governor Rick Snyder got the legislature to agree to accept a federal program that expanded eligibility for Medicaid to some of the poorest people in this state. Prior to that, except for seniors, only people at or below the poverty level were eligible. The new program increased that to include those just a bit better off.

Another view of the guns and schools debate

Mar 19, 2018

Thousands of students in Michigan walked out of their classrooms last week to protest gun violence. They don’t want guns in schools, and they especially want assault rifles banned.

Personally, I would probably go even farther. I don’t think anyone should be allowed to own an assault rifle, except if it were kept under lock and key at a shooting range.

But the tragedy of the student protests is this:

Nobody wants to say this, but they aren’t going to go anywhere. The lobbyists of the NRA can count votes. They are mostly silent now, except for the stupidest among them.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The Blue Oval has seen the future, and it looks a whole lot like its past.

Ford Motor claims a rich heritage building the nation’s best-selling pickup and the best-selling three-row SUV. Its Mustang is an American icon. And its performance pedigree is enjoying a renaissance under product planners who understand emotion still matters in the business.

Why Michigan Radio matters

Mar 16, 2018

 

Albert Einstein was born on this day in 1879. He died, after a lifetime of discoveries that transformed the world, in 1955.  National Public Radio wasn’t around in his lifetime, but I have to believe he would have loved it. After all, he spent his later years searching vainly for a “Grand Unified Theory” that explains everything.

Michigan Radio, with support from its national partner, does indeed try to explain everything, or at least everything we can, to our listeners.  

Engler looks quite unsympathetic during House testimony

Mar 16, 2018

Twenty years ago, John Engler was by far, the biggest figure in Lansing, and perhaps the most powerful governor Michigan has ever had. He understood the legislature better than anyone, largely because he had been in it for twenty years before becoming governor.

He was both respected and feared, and lawmakers in both parties thought twice before taking him on. Times have changed, however, and yesterday Engler, now interim president of Michigan State University, found himself testifying before a skeptical senate subcommittee.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

When I was in college, I played broomball. Broomball is basically ice hockey but instead of skates, sticks, and a puck you use tennis shoes, brooms, and a semi-deflated volleyball. It was a way for Michigan Tech students without winter sports skills to play a winter sport. Because there is a lot of winter in Houghton.

An unlikely hero for Michigan journalists

Mar 15, 2018
FOIA
Vincent Duffy / Michigan Radio

There’s nothing wrong with having principles. Not everyone does; back in the bad old days, there was a U.S. Senator from the South who supposedly used to tell audiences, “Well, them there’s my positions, and if you don’t like ‘em – well, I can change ‘em.”

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Doesn’t matter to Donald Trump what his fellow Republicans say.

Or what Wall Street and America’s closest allies say.

The president wants tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, and this week he got them, along with some last-minute carve outs for those national security threats known as Canada and Mexico.

David Bonior at podium
John Edwards / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

You don’t have to be that much of an old-timer to remember that August night 20 years ago this summer when President Bill Clinton addressed the nation and admitted that he had engaged in behavior with Monica Lewinsky that was “not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong.”

Congressman David Bonior, then the House minority whip, had just loaded up his Chrysler van back in Macomb County and was starting to drive back to Washington when his primitive, clunky car phone rang. A labor leader told him the news, and also that at least one top member of the House Democratic leadership was suggesting they abandon the President.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Next week, March 11–17, is Sunshine Week. For us Michiganders, the timing may seem a little off. It is squarely in the hopeless stage of our long, gray winter — what's this talk of "sunshine"? That's just mean.

Nevertheless, the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press use this week each year to promote the importance of access to public information. Sunshine is a symbol for our communities to have transparent access to what's going on in our government. The tagline is: "It's Your Right to Know."

Michigan's infrastructure is falling apart

Mar 8, 2018
Repair trucks on a Michigan road.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

I’ve always been leery of people obsessed with a single issue, who see the world entirely through some narrow prism. Marxists tend to be like that, if there are any left.

Single-issue people tend to be terribly boring. But I find that I too am becoming more and more obsessed with a single issue, and I think you should be too. I’m not talking about the coming workers’ revolution, however, but something else: Michigan’s infrastructure. 

mike duggan shaking a woman's hand
dugganfordetroit.com

We’ve had such a dearth of leadership in Michigan for so long that it seems amazing when you actually do see it. This is a state, after all, where nobody can seem to come up with a way to fix the roads, despite overwhelming public demand that they do so.

Looming financial disasters for Michigan

Mar 6, 2018

Our legislators in Lansing have just enacted a tax cut that will be relatively meaningless for most, great for the rich, but which will leave our cash-strapped state with less revenue.

That wasn’t much of a concern for our lawmakers, all of whom will be gone within a few years, thanks to term limits. It ought to be more of a concern for citizens who have to worry about their kids’ educations, or dodge potholes the size of Lake St. Clair. We also know that our neglected infrastructure is fast falling apart, something we try hard to ignore.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

There’s a new automaker in town.

Mahindra comes from India. It’s been assembling Jeep-derived vehicles in Mumbai for 70 years. Now, it’s got its own version for the off-road utility market of hunters, farmers and groundskeepers, and it’s going to be rolling off a metro Detroit assembly line.

All just a few miles from Jeep’s headquarters.

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