Plus, whenever something goes horribly wrong, nobody ever says "Why did Mother Mary do this to me?"
I'm not sure what you mean by this.
I mean, as opposed to someone saying "Oh God, why have you allowed this (something bad) to happen?" or "Why has God done this?" Mary is always blameless, She is full of sympathy for the world, someone you can tell your troubles to. That is a very handy sort of intercessionary agent to have.
Rather than decide the traditions are of no use, it should be remembered that they bound the early Christians together well before there was a Bible. Early Christians were told in letters that were later added to the Bible to ask the saints to intercede... for example, in James 5:14 where Christians are told: Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.
Asking for intercessions by the saints are nothing more than that. They are venerated but not worshipped.
There is a lot of entrenched antagonism towards Mary from the Protestants -- it began in the 1500's when they destroyed all shrines to her in England. It is still quite common for protestants to shrink from any interest in her and consider such interest idolatrous.
I'll have to read the article you mention, Boomerang, to find out what this new wave of Marian appreciation is about.