welcoming dingell back to the district

Today, instead of taking a lunch break, I joined a bunch of people outside Congressman John Dingell’s office in Ypsilanti. The event, set in motion by a Greenpeace organizer, was ostensibly to welcome Dingell back to his district after a long legislative session in DC. We even had gifts and a cake! The subtext, of course, was that we expect more from him when it comes to global warming legislation. (One of the gifts was a copy of “An Inconvenient Truth,” a film the Congressman, I’ve heard, claims never to have seen.)

The first thing that I heard upon arriving at noon was that the Congressman’s office had already issued a press release on the event. In it, they implied that the event had already taken place, and they took the opportunity to take a jab at Greenpeace, pointing out that their representatives here weren’t from Michigan. (They also gave the impression that the Congressman was there, which he wasn’t.) It was another billiant political move. They ignored the fact that a good-sized number of constituents are coming together to urge the Congressman to do more, and, instead, they shifted the story to those no good outsiders who are coming in from God knows where to tell us what’s good for Michigan. And, by stating that the event had already taken place, they pretty much eliminated any chance we might have had to get the press out. Here, because I think you’ll appreciate it, is the entire press release. You’ve got to hand it to the man for being a brilliant politician… I guess you don’t make it 50 years in the House without learning a thing or two.

Congressman John D. Dingell (D-MI15) today welcomed out-of-state Greenpeace staff, as well as his constituents to his Ypsilanti Office, and thanked them for the welcome home cake they graciously brought to the office. The Congressman also presented a Michigan welcome basket to those Greenpeace staff members that have temporarily relocated to the great State of Michigan.

“As they are new to our state, and to Michigan’s 15th Congressional District, I want to welcome Greenpeace’s field organizers and provide them with some of our finest Michigan-made products and information on the great people I serve and the wonderful area we call home,” Dingell said.

Included in the gift basket are some of the wonderful products made in Michigan including, Vernors and Faygo pop (or, as many of the Greenpeace members might say, ‘soda’), Better Made Potato Chips, Saunders hot fudge, and Zingerman’s cookies.

The Congressman included brochures on a kayaking tour of the Huron and Detroit Rivers, the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum, brochures on birding tours of Southeast Michigan and Southwest Ontario, the Ypsilanti Firefighter Museum, the Monroe River Raisin Battlefield, The Henry Ford and pamphlets on the Detroit International Wildlife Refuge in addition to a map of Michigan.

“Sometimes it can be overwhelming to come to a new place, but the people of Michigan’s 15th district are the best in the world, and it is a great privilege to represent them in Washington. Welcome to our home, I know that you will enjoy your time here.”

And his spin is working, at least in the very Dingell-friendly local press. Here’s a clip from the “Ann Arbor News.”

Dingell, who has been involved in recent legislation to increase fuel-economy standards, has been targeted recently by local environmental activists for his strong support of the automotive industry.

I love how these “environmental activists” are angry with Dingell because of his “strong support of the automotive industry.” I’m sure that’s exactly what it is. They’re pissed because he wants to see the big three succeed. Clearly that’s what it is. It doesn’t have anything at all to do with the fact that the earth is literally cooking and that Dingell is dragging his feet on reform that could save life as we know it… For the record, I talked with a number of people at the event today, and none of them — not one — said they hated the American automotive industry. In fact, what I heard several times, was that people wanted American companies to embrace the reality of the situation, lead the world, and be successful in the process. No one here, regardless of what the “Ann Arbor News” might imply, wants to see Michiganders lose their jobs. The truth is, the auto indsutry is going down the tubes in America, thanks in part to the leadership of Dingell and others, and we want to see it saved.

I’ve got a lot more to say, but that’s going to have to be it for tonight. If you can, please come out Tuesday or Wednesday to hear Dingell, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, speak about global warming, and tell him in person what you’d like for him to do. Here are the to times and locations:

Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Pioneer High School
Schreiber Auditorium
601 W. Stadium Blvd
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Wednesday, August 8, 2007
University of Michigan – Dearborn
Social Sciences Building
4901 Evergreen Road
Dearborn, MI 48124

And, if one of you out there could come with a video camera, it would be greatly appreciated. I have a feeling that this is going to be extremely YouTube-worthy.

Oh, and thanks to all the MM.com readers who showed up at the event, and the hundreds of people who honked in support of our demonstration on Michigan Avenue. It was incredible to hear… At first I had reservations about holding up a sign that read, “Honk If You Want to Stop Global Warming,” but I eventually warmed up to the idea. I even found myself smiling back at all the SUV drivers who were honking in support… If we really want to save the world, we’re going to need everyone we can get, and we can’t afford to be alienating people with signs that say, “If You Really Wanted to Stop Global Warming, You’d Be Walking,” regardless of how right or clever it might be.

See you tomorrow.

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  1. mark
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    The picture on the bottom left was taken in the Congressman’s office, after we came in to hand over the letters. We were told he wasn’t in. His representative, however, offered us coffee and said that he would relay our messages… I’m wondering where our “Welcome Back” cake is right now.

  2. Steve Love
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    My understanding about Saturday’s vote on the renewable energy amendment is that it came from Pelosi’s group and not from the Energy Committee. Dingell claims to have voted against it because they weren’t following procedure. In his view that legislation should have gone through the committee that he chairs. So it looks like a petty turf war, which Dingell, by the way, seems to be losing.

  3. Citizen Blogger
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Think it’s possible to FOIA the receipt for Dingell’s Faygo and Better Mades? It would be really satisfying to find that he bought them at Kroger, rather than down the street at the Rocket…

  4. Posted August 7, 2007 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    I’m so thankful that he’s no longer my Congressman. The Sportsmen for Dingell bumper stickers during the last election made me sick – appealing to the gun-lovers. I was upset at first because I wanted to vote for his challenger, now I’m just thankful.

  5. Steady
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    The Detroit News:

    Greenpeace pressures Dingell

    Group demonstrates at Dearborn congressman’s office to push him to toughen stand on fuel standards.

    Christine Ferretti / The Detroit News

    YPSILANTI — A junk food-fueled war of words is heating up between U.S. Rep. John Dingell and his environmentalist critics over his stance on global warming and automotive fuel standards.

    As chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the longtime Dearborn Democrat has been targeted by Greenpeace on accusations he hasn’t done enough to stop global warming.

    Some 25 activists and constituents rallied outside his Ypsilanti office for an hour Monday with a Michigan-shaped cake covered with wind turbines. They brought an oversized greeting card exhorting him to go “back to Washington to stop global warming,” said Rebecca Sobel, a Greenpeace field organizer.”He needs to start working yesterday on this issue he’s moving us backward,” Sobel said.
    Dingell is on a month-long recess and wasn’t at the office during the protest, the second of its kind recently.

    But he had his staffers present the “out-of-state Greenpeace staff” with Michigan welcome baskets with Better Made potato chips and Sanders hot fudge, a map of the state and brochures for kayaking and the Detroit International Wildlife Refuge.

    Greenpeace opened a field office about two months ago for its Project Hot Seat campaign to pressure Dingell and others to pass tough legislation to boost fuel economy standards.


  6. Steady
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Bush is going to veto the renewable energy legislation.


  7. Posted August 7, 2007 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    The sad thing about this spin is.. this isn’t about me (ONE Greenpeace organizer, BTW), it isn’t about Greenpeace – it’s about Dingell standing in the way of good global warming policy.

    If Congressman Dingell actually supports a National Renewable Energy Standard, then he should not have voted against it this weekend. Good policies need good votes from our representatives, and he’s showing he’s not ready to lead our nation toward a better energy future.

    This isn’t about ego or jurisdiction, this is about averting catastrophic climate change.

    I think the <1,500 handwritten messages from constituents of Michigan’s 15th might illustrate that the call for global warming action comes from more than “environmental activists.”

    Gotta keep up the fight, guys. It should be your voices getting to the media. This is a Michigan issue, and it’s Michiganders that are fighting back.

  8. egpenet
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    An email from my Dad tells me that another 175 people from GM’s in-house communication group in Wixom have been fired. Merry Christmas!

    Used to be a customer of mine. I was part of two other similar in-house groups at Ford that were dissolved during similar crises in the 70’s.

    We can’t make cars that don’t pollute in this country. So, we fire the people we hired to make’em and promote them. These lose their houses. Take their kids out of our schools. And they leave Michigan. Hence, all the foreclosures and for sale signs in town. Of course, that hurts EMU enrollment and … more for sale signs go up.

  9. Dr. X
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    I was there yesterday, Citizen Blogger, and I can tell you that the Congressman was also serving Starbucks coffee, even though his office is just a block away from a locally owned coffee house.

    (In their defense, Starbucks does make it really easy with their to-go jugs. I don’t think Bombadil’s has anything like that.)

  10. maryd
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    the workers of the state hurt because of the management of the big three could not see the handwriting so plainly written on the wall. Why can’t they build a green auto here? Didn’t we put men on the moon, can’t we do this too? egpenet I hear your pain. My kids education depends on GM’s survival. I could of told them but nobody there listens to me…

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