Michigan Hullabaloo

Things have been a bit crazy up here in Michigan as Republicans are attempting to pass some right to work legislation. Obviously, Michigan has a long history with unions so this topic is even more contentious here than in many other states. The manner in which the bill is being passed (no committee meeting, public banned at one point, in the lame duck session) only fans the flames. Here are the basics and here is an article from Michigan State Senator Gretchen Whitmer. Keep an eye on her. I would not be surprised to see her run for Governor. Governor Snyder signing this bill has given her significant publicity and will motivate the Democratic base for the next election.

Getting less attention than the right to work legislation is piece of education legislation also being considered in the lame duck session. We have had several discussion at this blog regarding public schools, private schools, and the role of the government in education. Fortunately we have a diverse view on the subject and people, I’m thinking Kevin in particular, with some great knowledge in the subject area. With that said, I am interested in people’s thoughts on quite the hullaboloo that has arisen here in Michigan over a couple of laws being considered by the lame duck state legislature.

In short, the legislation would expand the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) to become a super-disctrict of underachieving schools (the bottom 5%). The two primary criticisms relate to the lack of oversight, the head of the EAA is not elected and reports only to the governor, and the absence of much evidence that the EAA improves things.

One of the interesing aspects of the debate is that the superintendents from some rather wealthy and successful districts are strongly opposed to the proposals. A couple have drated letters and various PTA organizations had a letter published in The Washington Post

Work is pretty busy, but I’ll try to keep an eye on comments to answer any Michigan specific questions.

Being a Muslim in America

I thought that this piece by Rany Jazayerli was amazing. I usually balk at web pieces that make me click through five pages to read it (just put it all on one page, dammit, or do what Salon does and give me the option of seeing it on multiple pages or scrolling down one), but his writing is excellent and I think his point resonates.

It was with some reservation that I voted for Obama last Tuesday. I have found his presidency to be a disappointment in many ways. He wasn’t nearly aggressive enough about addressing the financial crisis he inherited, nor did he press for a public airing of what caused the crisis in the first place. His sustained use of drones to fight the war on terror has been both utterly immoral – an inordinate number of innocent victims, including children, have been killed – and completely counterproductive, because the obvious immorality of these attacks has ignited more terrorists than it has killed. Obama’s weak and unfocused response to the horrors being committed every day by the Syrian government is appalling.

But — third parties aside — the alternative was Mitt Romney, and I could not vote for Romney. There was simply no way that I could justify voting for a party that denies the very legitimacy of my identity as an American. And there was no way that I could justify voting for any member of that party that does not, in the strongest possible terms, denounce that view. Nor could most other members of the American Muslim community, who just happen to be clustered in swing states like Ohio, Virginia and Florida.

As it turned out, with the Muslim community voting overwhelmingly against him, Romney lost Ohio, Virginia and Florida by narrow margins, and lost the election. Joe Walsh lost his bid for reelection in Illinois’ 8th district, which frees up his schedule to start looking for the terrorists in Elk Grove and Addison. Also losing his bid for reelection was Florida congressman Allen West, who claims that “Islam is a totalitarian theocratic political ideology, it is not a religion.” Well, that’s one way to get around that pesky 1st amendment.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The Muslim community still shares many core values with Republicans, the same core issues that attracted most Muslims to the Republican Party in the first place. Muslims haven’t changed their views on limited government, or the superiority of the traditional nuclear family, or the importance of encouraging entrepreneurship. A Republican Party that focused on its core principles rather than on demonizing a minority as a way to score cheap political points would find support among the American Muslim community again.

Look, I don’t want to be a party-line voter. It does Muslims no good to be identified with a single political party – we run the risk of being taken advantage of by the Democratic Party, while having our needs completely ignored by the Republicans. And I look forward to the day, hopefully in the near future, when I once again vote for a Republican candidate. If Chris Christie — who unlike Romney has forcefully denounced “the crazies” (his term, not mine) — runs for president, I’ll give him full consideration.

But first, the Republicans have to stop insinuating that I’m alien to this nation. They have to stop implying that I support terrorists. They have to stop accusing me of being anti-American. And they need to denounce anyone in their ranks who does those things. That, I’m afraid, is not negotiable.


well, jnc4p  was prescient.  And I’m glad it was as relatively clear cut as it was last night, in that Florida is still deadlocked but, as yello points out, irrelevant.  What do you want to see happen in the next four years–and for purposes here let’s not say gridlock (although I know a couple of you think that’s a good thing when it comes to federal government!  :-))

I, for one, am very glad that the PPACA is safe. . . although it’s too much to hope that it can be modified.  I’d like to see the DREAM Act actually become law and I’d like to see one actually liberal Justice get appointed to the SCOTUS.  I’m sure I’ll come up with more as the day goes on.

Plus, what happened with your various states?  I see that pot is now legal in Washington and Colorado (and that last I’m betting had something to do with CO going for Obama last night).

And about that fiscal cliff. . .


P.S.  And I’m very glad that ATiM is around to see it happen.

Election Day Open Thread

I’m going to go ahead and put this post up tonight, since I’m going to go vote before work tomorrow and don’t know when I’ll be able to get it up.  Do any of you have big plans for the morrow?  After I reminded her that tomorrow is Election Day my boss moved our staff meeting back to 10:00 and told everybody to go vote before coming in to work; I don’t anticipate huge lines here (voter turnout in UT is abysmally low), but you never know.  Then tomorrow evening I’m going to some friends’ house to watch the returns with them and a couple of other folks.  Thanks to you guys, I’ve become the Recognized Expert among my friends on all things political. . . hoot!

Remember–vote early and often!

Electoral vote predictions

Picking up on a comment by nova, here’s a link to a website where you can design your own electoral map. Then you can copy the URL into your comment for everyone else to see. Overall vote percentages, including minor party candidates, can be used as a tiebreaker.

If someone finds a better site to link, please add it into this post (or replace my link above).

Storm Fallout

Here in Maryland we seem to have escaped the brunt of Hurricane Sandy but with New Jersey and New York taking the greatest damage. I was living in West Palm Beach when Hurricane Andrew sliced through south Dade County, making it twice that I have been on the fringe of major storms.

Whenever I hear of hurricanes heading for New York I always think of the cautionary tale of the Citicorp Building where the structural engineer, through a series of propitious events, discovered that the building was susceptible to collapse under certain wind conditions. The New Yorker has one of the most succinct and lucid accounts of the event.

This resulted in a crash program to remediate the building’s structure which was successfully completed before any major storm struck the building. This one example is a cautionary tale about engineering professionalism. One should always do the right thing regardless of the consequences.

And no discussion of wind and structures is complete without a reference to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse which is shown in about every freshman engineering class ever.

Open post for storm and disaster stories:

3rd (and final) Presidential Debate — Foreign Policy


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