Bits of Tid: October 26, 2009

  • We're getting closer and closer to meaningful healthcare reform! Senator Reid is backing a public option with the option of allowing states to back out of it. While I can't say I agree with the opt-out provision, what is being offered now is certainly a lot better than what we have currently in our healthcare system.
  • How's that No Worker Left Behind program working for Michigan?
    Of the nearly 34,360 people who finished training between August 2007 and February 2009, about 24,700, or 72 percent, either retained work or got a new job, while about 9,660, or 28 percent, were still looking for a job, according to the report being released Monday. It found more than 16,840 kept their jobs and about 7,860 found new employment.

    No Worker Left Behind offers up to $10,000 over two years to workers who attend community colleges or other training programs. It's overseen by the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth, which compiled the review.


Bits of Tid: October 15, 2009


Our President, the Nobel Laureate

"The whole of my remaining realizable estate shall be dealt with in the following way: the capital, invested in safe securities by my executors, shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind. The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts... one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."
-from the Will of Alfred Nobel

According to the Norwegian Nobel Committee:

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama's initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population.

For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world's leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama's appeal that "Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges."

Who in the past year has done nearly as much as President Obama to advance the cause of peace in our world?

As Americans, we are truly fortunate to be led by someone who has dedicated himself not only to making our country better, but making our world more peaceful.

Congratulations, Mr. President! You have earned this. May your work continue to benefit the cause of peace for all mankind!


Matthew Shepard Act on fast track to becoming law

Found in my inbox, from Senator Carl Levin:

This week, Congress took an important step to protect those who have been targeted because of the color of their skin, their religion, their disability, their gender, or their sexual orientation.

Yesterday, the Senate and House Armed Services Committees agreed to a final version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 that included the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This legislation will likely be passed by both Houses of Congress and signed into law by President Obama in the coming days.

As Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am delighted that we were able to include this landmark legislation in the National Defense Authorization Act because it embodies values of diversity and freedom that our men and women in uniform fight to defend.

As Senator Ted Kennedy said in 2007 when we debated this legislation:
"We want to be able to have a value system that is worthy for our brave men and women to defend. They are fighting overseas for our values. One of the values is that we should not, in this country, in this democracy, permit the kind of hatred and bigotry that has stained the history of this Nation over a considerable period of time. We should not tolerate it. We keep faith with these men and women who are serving overseas when we battle that hatred and bigotry and prejudice at home."
According to the FBI, between 1998 and 2007, more than 77,000 hate crimes incidents were reported. The trend is up for hate crimes based on sexual orientation - with a six percent increase in such crimes in the most recent year for which statistics are available, from 1,195 in 2006 to 1,265 in 2007. This is a major new category of hate crimes that would be covered, for the first time, by this legislation.

This law would punish violent acts, not beliefs. It would provide federal protection for victims of violent crimes where the offender intentionally selects the victim because of his or her actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation.

I want to emphasize that this legislation only applies to violent, bias-motivated crimes and does not infringe on any conduct protected by the First Amendment. The right to organize against, preach against and speak against any way of life is left intact with this legislation.

We must make America a fully inclusive nation, a country that does not tolerate violent acts against individuals because of who they are. I am proud to be able to report that this week we have taken a very important step toward that goal.
While I can't say I agree with putting it in the Defense Authorization Bill, I'm glad this is going to become law soon.


Bits of Tid: October 3, 2009

  • Brianne Hovey, whom I knew from CMU's College Democrats, passed away this week. She had such a warm smile, and her personality always made it delightful to be with her. I am grateful to have known her. My thoughts and prayers are with her and her entire family.
  • From a letter in The Wall Street Journal recently:
    If a corporation is indeed a "person" under the law, then let's just elect Goldman Sachs as president and the Fortune 500 to Congress, and eliminate the middleman.
  • There's a great rant on Daily Kos about those who say they're patriotic, but celebrated the fact that the Olympics won't be in the USA in 2016.
  • Speaking of which, whaddya say we bring the Winter Olympics to Wasilla, AK, in 2018? I'm probably the first person to toss that idea around. Still, how can you not say 'You Betcha!' to that idea? :-)
  • Here's a humble suggestion: At least once a year, check out a high school football game. Not necessarily one in which your alma mater is playing, just any high school game. I had the chance to go to a Mt. Pleasant game last weekend and a Sacred Heart Academy game this weekend. Both were pretty neat.