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Hightower writes: "Michigan is no longer a state. It is now 'Michiganistan,' an autocratic czardom in the hands of Emperor Rick Snyder."

Texas' progressive political curmudgeon, Jim Hightower. (photo:
Texas' progressive political curmudgeon, Jim Hightower. (photo:

Welcome to 'Michiganistan'

By Jim Hightower, Other Words

20 December 12


With no warning, no hearings, no public input, no floor debate, and no time for citizens to even know what was happening, Michigan's Republicans rammed a union-busting bill into law.

ichigan is no longer a state. It is now "Michiganistan," an autocratic czardom in the hands of Emperor Rick Snyder.

Formerly the Republican governor, Snyder has been enthroned by the GOP's lame-duck, legislative supermajority to rule with an iron fist - democracy, rule-of-law, fairness, and the people be damned.

Ironically, voters had given Snyder and his cohort of right-wing corporate ideologues a spanking for this kind of nastiness in a November referendum. The GOP cabal in Lansing had conspired last year to usurp the local authority of city governments and allow Snyder to send in unelected, unaccountable autocrats to fire elected officials and seize control, but last month, Michigan voters overthrew this absurdity.

This month, however, Snyder and gang doubled down on their dumbfounding, anti-democratic zealotry. With no warning, no hearings, no public input, no floor debate, and no time for citizens to even know what was happening, the same legislative czarists rammed a union-busting bill into law. Even though he had publicly rejected such a proposal earlier this year as being "very divisive," Emperor Snyder gleefully signed this measure.

Who's behind this madness? Say hello to two infamous, anti-union, billionaire plutocrats: the Koch brothers. They had funneled as much as a million dollars into Snyder's 2010 gubernatorial election, and three Michigan front groups funded by the billionaire brothers aggressively pushed the exact same anti-worker proposal that the Republican thugs just bullied into law.

Two things not long for this world are dogs that chase cars and politicians who deceive and cheat the people. Already, Michiganders are organizing a petition drive for another referendum to overturn the law and return the Czardom of Michiganistan back to democratic rule. Stay tuned.

National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, "Swim Against The Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow," Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be - consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks. your social media marketing partner


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+78 # tswhiskers 2012-12-20 15:05
As far as I know the state of the stat of Mich. has not been in the news very much. My concern is that the Mich. model of governance may well spread as Rep. governors and legislators become blinded by Koch $$$$. It is obvious that many Rep. politicians don't care a damn for our liberal democratic form of government and it is still shocking to me and I hope to most U.S. citizens that state Reps. are so naked in their contempt for it. Is it not ironic that on the one hand we have gun rights activists who are obsessively fearful that 'government' wants to take all guns and on the other hand these same gun maniacs in all probability gave their votes to the likes of Rick Snyder and other control freak Reps. They want to keep their guns but don't mind giving up their democratic way of life. I hope Michiganders will find it this easy to overturn the law by referendum. I suspect that when the public overturns one law, Gov. Snyder will just pass it again with the same stupid legislature that passed it before. I hope that we the public will not turn a blind eye to the 2014 midterm elections as we did the 2010 midterms.
-26 # MidwestTom 2012-12-20 23:36
tswiskers, Please explain how the so called Right to work law forces one to"give up their democratic way of life". What freedom is it taking away?
+18 # dkonstruction 2012-12-21 10:30
Quoting MidwestTom:
tswiskers, Please explain how the so called Right to work law forces one to"give up their democratic way of life". What freedom is it taking away?

In this case, it's not the heinous "right to work" law in and of itself but rather the process used to ram this bill through:

"With no warning, no hearings, no public input, no floor debate, and no time for citizens to even know what was happening"

Hardly a democratic process.

At the same time, right to work laws have their root in the pro-segregation anti-union south and were very much a part of Jim Crow (not to mention the overall right-wing backlash against the New Deal). As Martin Luther King Jr. observed in 1961:

"In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone…Wherev er these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights."
+11 # tswhiskers 2012-12-21 12:05
Midwest Tom, apparently you have not heard about Michigan's "emergency managers." The Gov. of Mich has been given the power to declare fiscally insolvent cities, e.g. Benson Harbour, Flint, possibly Detroit and certainly others, no longer capable of governing themselves. He, the Gov., appoints an emergency manager to run that city or town as if it were the managers own private fiefdom; city councils are disbanded, mayors are let go, the citizens of that town or city lose ALL their democratic rights. This is no exaggeration. Google emergency managers and see what you get. These municipalities are entirely at the mercy of their emergency managers and the Governor. As i see it, right to work laws are just the icing on the cake.
-8 # FatEddie 2012-12-23 19:42
The freedom to be forced to join a union.

Just like the freedom to be forced by health insurance.

The freedom to be forced to send your kids to public school.

The freedom to be forced to violate your religion if you're an employer.

Tom, you just don't understand freedom. It isn't free you know.
-53 # fredboy 2012-12-20 16:23
I have met so many from Michigan who, despite 30 years of crappy vehicles, know everything. When I lived in Tennessee those who poured in to work at the Saturn plant told Tennessee neighbors they were superior, and their kids were superior. Sad that they, such superior beings, have a state that is now in shambles.
+21 # Doll 2012-12-20 17:17

I do not know how the Saturn workers treated other people. But I do know that Saturns were and are mighty fine vehicles.

After about twelve years of use, I traded my 1994 Saturn, which was still running and in reasonable shape for its age and mileage, in for a 2001 model last January which looks and runs like new.

Maybe they really were "superior beings".
+29 # Reductio Ad Absurdum 2012-12-20 18:24
Who caused those vehicles to be crappy? The guys on the line or management that supervised inferior design, cheap parts and pathetic marketing? Saturn was supposed to be GM's answer to Japanese-qualit y manufacturing. It never was. Whose fault was that, the guys from Tennessee?

I go to local car shows and see better craftsmanship from guys who build cars in their own garages than I see from large manufacturers. Many specialty aftermarket suppliers deliver legendary superior quality with American workers.

To your point, I once was on a conference call to a GM marketing team in Detroit, and they were unbelievably arrogant jerks (we didn't get the job). Whether that attitude filters down to the guys on the line, I don't know. My brother worked the line at Ford in St. Louis for over 30 years. He's a pretty conscientious guy when it comes to cars, and he would gripe about how management wasn't.

I'd blame management before I'd blame workers.
+21 # Third_stone 2012-12-20 20:07
Detroit has made many very good cars. They still do. We have seen shifts in management which would result in better or worse cars, but the working man kept on showing up. It has always been a seasonal business, and some would routinely get time off when sales were slow. The workers faced some of the largest corporations of their heyday, and before they formed a union they were being crushed. They ended up in a partnership with management, and they gave back when the company was down. Now their own state government comes to break those unions, who have been the economic foundation of Michigan.
+2 # RLF 2012-12-21 05:51
Detroit had 40 years to figure out how to compete with the Japanese cars but instead they decided to pretend their cars were better. Emphasis on the word pretend. Fords are better now because of German engineering.
+7 # dkonstruction 2012-12-21 10:32
Quoting fredboy:
I have met so many from Michigan who, despite 30 years of crappy vehicles, know everything. When I lived in Tennessee those who poured in to work at the Saturn plant told Tennessee neighbors they were superior, and their kids were superior. Sad that they, such superior beings, have a state that is now in shambles.

Workers don't decide what cars were made nor their quality. This was the decision solely of management so to use Detroit's crappy cars (and i agree with you here they were being built like shit) as an excuse and or justification for pushing anti-union right-to-work laws simply doesn't follow logically. Why not call for getting rid of management instead of punishing the workers who bore the brunt of the fallout from management's decisions.
+70 # Barbara K 2012-12-20 16:26
What this maniac and his lunatics in the Legislature here should be against the law. Not that it matters, they don't care about the law. They are only interested in their drive to continue to rape and pillage my once wonderful State of Michigan. There are so many Tbaggers in the government here now that it is impossible to have a democracy any more until the next Session begins and a bunch of the lunatics leave the seats they didn't deserve. They are doing all this now for pure revenge because they don't like being voted out of office. We still have more to dump, but I think we took away their supermajority at least. We need to get the Recall petitions out of the hands of the Tbagger court so we can vote this dufus out. They have been holding them for 1 1/2 years, and that is ridiculous. We have more than enough signatures to dump this fleabag, but he uses every dirty trick he can think of to keep us from having democracy in this state. We need lawyers to come here and get this Tbagging Congress and Czar straightened out and charged with the crimes they are getting away with. They are worse than the Mafia.
+3 # RLF 2012-12-21 05:51
You get what you vote for!
+6 # AMLLLLL 2012-12-22 19:04
The point is that Snyder ran under one platform and switched after he got elected; similar to Gov. Walker. Definitely worthy of recall, or getting voted out of office next time around.
0 # FatEddie 2012-12-23 19:38
I believe Snyder said it wasn't on his agenda, yet he would sign it if it were to arrive at his desk.

It's funny that everyone is astonished about this.
+61 # nancyw 2012-12-20 18:03
I just don't understand how people who back these conservative rats don't get how they are destroying this country. They are either illiterate or they are sheep following the most crazed loud mouth or they're not too bright. The US of America is in big doo doo. Scary.
+13 # DurangoKid 2012-12-20 18:22
Doesn't Detroit rhyme with Bastille? Just wondering.
-2 # FatEddie 2012-12-23 19:47
Thinking that Detroit rhymes with Bastille is, in itself, and argument against teachers' unions.
+13 # ward29800 2012-12-20 18:47
Supposedly the law was written in such a way that a referendum can't overturn it.
+20 # mdhome 2012-12-20 19:12
How much money did the governor get for this?
+19 # moonrigger 2012-12-20 19:28
Any bad law can be overturned. It just takes the concerted, organized will of the people. Now, if you really care, organize, and do it soon. I know, I know, easier said than done, but still...the efforts made today will pay off tomorrow.

Pull together, and get 'er done.
+8 # RLF 2012-12-21 05:53
People are too busy working three jobs to spend another jobs-worth d it was planned that way!
+35 # Trueblue Democrat 2012-12-20 19:33
"Ironically, voters had given Snyder and his cohort of right-wing corporate ideologues a spanking for this kind of nastiness in a November referendum."

Jim, I have some even more stupendous irony: Democrats won the White House, gained seats in both houses of Congress, and Obama starts throwing in the towel on Social Security and Medicare before the first shot is fired.

Who was it said: I don't mind losing when I lost, but I sure hate losing when I won.
+11 # Vardoz 2012-12-20 20:05
If the people put up with this than they will only get the ststus quo.
+30 # Susan1989 2012-12-20 20:40
One os the traits of a fascist state is destruction of unions. Another is enormous power to corporations.
+14 # MainStreetMentor 2012-12-20 22:23
Tyranny hides behind many veils … this time the veil sports an emblem of an elephant on the front.
+10 # cordleycoit 2012-12-20 23:23
These products of the Rethugs think tanks are the new warlords in the Order of the New Feudalism. In states where the people have no future. Looks like it's time for Wobbles with their brand of industrial unionism with teeth to start moving into the lumpen market. When a working man is worthless what's to lose? Come together: unite and fight.
+4 # HerbR 2012-12-20 23:37
The Reuther Brothers are surely turning in their graves !
+10 # Regina 2012-12-21 00:41
The Michigan governor, like the Wisconsin governor, is not acting alone. The perp is the whole Republican Governors Association. Watch out for more such shenanigans in other R-states.
0 # cafetomo 2012-12-21 00:43
The Koch brothers are formulating a model, the proper combination of distraction & disinformation for export to every other state in the union, with minimal tweaks. This shill is just the latest patsy, perfectly interchangeable with the next Judas feeling entitled to cash in on the trust he has worked for.

With that in mind, they do seem to be in a rush to ramrod this dick in without the usual romance.

Or even a bit of K Y, for chrissake.
+7 # kalpal 2012-12-21 06:44
I would suggest that the oath of office of legislators and the goevrnor be used to create a movement that will quickly eliminate any office holder who kowtows to the bidding of a donor over the well being of the voters. By passing a law without any public discussion as these people did, they are in fact betraying the citizens of the state and most probably reneging on their oaths of office.
+10 # kalpal 2012-12-21 06:46
Without labor there is no wealth yet labor is consistently betrayed in favor of the wealthy.
+11 # genisys1 2012-12-21 06:54
Wake up America! Don't you realize how many of the wonderful things you enjoy were made possible by Union worker's blood and sweat and sacrifice. The 40hr work week, child labor laws, plant safety rules and regulations to keep workers safe, to name just a few. The laws in Michigan can be changed but it will take putting people that care, Democrats back in charge of the government of MI.
0 # FatEddie 2012-12-23 19:45
I enjoy the dividends I receive from union blood, sweat, and tears. The Pinkertons got expensive after a while, so I just settled for a steady 5% return.
+7 # moby doug 2012-12-21 12:45
Don't forget that Vos, the rightwing Mormon unionbusting CEO of Amway, also contributed big bucks to engineer Gov Snider's 4th Reich. It's time to boycott Amway AND Koch Industries.
-1 # FatEddie 2012-12-23 19:31

Amway was not founding my Mormons -- there is a huge difference between the LDS and the Christian Reformed Church. What does a person's religion have to do with RTW anyway?
+4 # DerProfessor 2012-12-22 08:56
In the 1920s, the nationalistic movement to unite the power of corporate industry with the power of the state was called fascism, and it dominated Japan, Italy, and Germany until the free nations of the west allied with the communist Soviet Union to destroy it. Now the beast rises again, with corporate industrial power openly purchasing the power of the state.
0 # FatEddie 2012-12-23 19:36

It sounds like you're referring to the auto-bailout, Solyndra,health care exchanges, AIG, "too big to fail," and other so-called public-private partnerships. I agree that the union of the state and private sectors is a bad idea. Oh yeah, and the cartelization of the economy during the National Recovery Act.
+2 # spenel334 2012-12-25 20:55
Do people not realize that the unions are the institutions that raised a middle class? After WW2, unions allowed workers all over the country to earn a living wage. Why do people think there is now such a huge gap between the super rich and everyone else; why is the middle class feeling so much heat? It's due to the war on unions, by the Koch brothers and their buddies. And why are they doing this? So they can continue to take in their millions and billions, they who don't give a damn about anyone else's needs. And why do they want so much money, more than they can spend? So they can gain more and more control over the country, pay their lobbyists to do their bidding, and then make more money. It's a circle.

And that gap is deadly. All the money that goes to the rich, in low taxes, no estate taxes, (so their children can keep the circle going), gifts to big oil, big pharma, big agriculture etc., that's the real problem. All that money could be going to, for example, repairing the infrastructure, along with all the jobs to do the repairs. But without unions to support workers, it ain't going to happen. That's what the war against unions is all about. And until workers can earn a decent living, our economy won't recover.

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