Monday, December 21, 2015

Last minute bait-and-switch by Michigan legislature will gag schools and local communities trying to inform their electorate

UPDATED: From the Detroit Free Press, 12/20/15
"But it wasn't just the voting process Republican lawmakers were out to re-engineer. They also made some 11th-hour changes to campaign finance laws, making it more difficult for voters to find information about ballot issues and preserving reporting requirements that allow so-called independent political donors to delay disclosing their political expenditures on behalf of candidates until after the election has taken place. 
"When (Rep. Lisa) Lyons' committee voted unanimously to recommend its passage a week ago, SB 571 was a 12-page bill that reduced paperwork, but not disclosure requirements, for political action committees across the state. It had breezed through the state Senate with nary an objection from lawmakers of either party. 
"But when it emerged from a Republican caucus room Wednesday evening, SB 571 had metastasized into a 53-page behemoth that included GOP-friendly amendments to 10 different sections of Michigan's Campaign Finance Act. It was adopted by both houses late Wednesday night without a single Democratic vote or amendment, and after the Republican majority voted to clear the Senate chamber of Democratic staffers and lock the senators themselves inside."

Moments before recessing for the holidays, the Michigan House and Senate rushed through a bill intended to improve campaign finance reporting, but included somebody's pet amendment designed to silence school districts and communities who want to provide factual information within sixty days of an election. The original bill as reported by the House Committee earlier did not contain this restriction.

Below is an excerpt of the final bill (SB 571, H-3) passed by both bodies and headed to the Governor for signature. In addition, I've included excerpts of both the House and Senate journals so you can see how this unfolded and who supported it. Click on any item to enlarge it for viewing.

From the House Journal:

From the Senate Journal:

Friday, December 11, 2015

And the #1 signal that we've become even more self-centered...

If you want to do a quick study of our growing self-centeredness, just watch how many drivers around you fail to use their signals whether turning or changing lanes.  I ran across a study not too long ago that alleged a number of "reasons" drivers fail to signal turns and lane changes, but after reading it and paying closer attention to this growing danger, I'm more convinced its simply self-centeredness and lack of empathy for others.  You can say you just simply "forget" to use them but what that really means is that you think you're the only one on the road and could care less what happens to the other drivers. The study indicated about two million crashes per year are the result of not using signals.

This makes sense because in many ways over the past half-century, we've become more detached from the needs and concerns of others and more focused on our own. I don't think it has anything to do with what political party we align with or what religion we practice, most of what we do throughout the day"signals" our desire to drive in whatever lane we want, when we want and it's none of your business what I do as long as I get what I believe is rightfully mine. After all, "rugged individualism" is what America supposedly was built on, right?

So stop making excuses why you do or don't do this or that. When it comes to driving and choosing not to use your turn signal, you're actually signaling to the rest of us precisely what your attitude is about others.

That is if you even bother to have an attitude about others.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Theodore Roosevelt on confronting the dangers we face

We Americans have many grave problems to solve, many threatening evils to fight, and many deeds to do, if, as we hope and believe, we have the wisdom, the strength, the courage, and the virtue to do them. But we must face facts as they are. We must neither surrender ourselves to a foolish optimism, nor succumb to a timid and ignoble pessimism. Our nation is that one among all nations of the earth which holds in its hands the fate of the coming years. We enjoy exceptional advantages, and are menaced by exceptional dangers; and all signs indicate that we shall either fail greatly or succeed greatly. I firmly believe that we shall succeed; but we must not foolishly blink the dangers by which we are threatened, for that is the way to fail. On the contrary, we must soberly set to work to find out all we can about the existence and extent of every evil, must acknowledge it to be such, and must then attack it with unyielding resolution. There are many such evils, and each must be fought after a separate fashion; yet there is one quality which we must bring to the solution of every problem, -- that is, an intense and fervid Americanism. We shall never be successful over the dangers that confront us; we shall never achieve true greatness, nor reach the lofty ideal which the founders and preservers of our mighty Federal Republic have set before us, unless we are Americans in heart and soul, in spirit and purpose, keenly alive to the responsibility implied in the very name of American, and proud beyond measure of the glorious privilege of bearing it.

Theodore Roosevelt, April 1894
Essay on True Americanism