Spread the word
On Feb. 16 of this year, the Congressional Budget Office (the federal agency within the Legislative Branch of our federal government that provides economic data to Congress) reported that unemployment is really 15 percent. This figure includes those who have given up the job search and those who are working part-time but would like to work full time. The CBO also reports that, in the last three years, we have suffered the longest stretch of high unemployment since the Great Depression.
Keep this in mind as the Obama administration celebrates and broadcasts its success (?) in bringing the nation "back from the brink" of financial ruin. Obama is counting on his ill-educated followers to be ignorant of these truths as he continues his march toward Third World status.
Those who really care about the future of our nation should spread the word.
We have just witnessed one of the best examples of presidential leadership in my lifetime. Women employed in Catholic businesses were in need of reproductive health care that violated Catholic teachings. Obama proposed that Catholic businesses provide this health care through their insurance policies just like every other business.
Instead of working with the president to solve this dilemma, Republicans responded by declaring that the president was waging a war on religion. Obama was left to solve this problem himself.
Within a week President Obama came up with a brilliant solution that addressed all reasonable concerns. Insurance companies would be required to provide this insurance and actually save money in doing so because birth control is much cheaper than the expense of pregnancy and abortion. Women would get the health care they needed for free, and Catholic businesses would not be required to provide it.
All this in spite of Republican politicians who have spent the last three years as negative do-nothing obstructionists who are willing to sacrifice the best interests of their constituents to bring down Obama.
Abstain if you want
The Catholic Church, run by men who presumably are unmarried (there are exceptions to this requirement), is feeling persecuted because responsible women who struggle to pay basic expenses can't afford to give birth — let alone raise another child — and want to use contraception.
Granted, the Vatican approves natural family planning — just none of the more reliable methods available. Find out how well this method works when your husband has taken his Viagra — yes, thank you, that was covered by insurance, and he's in the mood but the calendar says no. Rather than a cold shower, send him to church.
What alternative is being proposed? I don't hear conservative religious organizations (it's not only Catholics) making the offer to lobby for better wages so families can support more children, or for longer paid maternity/paternity leaves, or for lower health-insurance premiums so when children get sick parents can afford medical care.
No one is being forced to go against their faith. Abstain if you want.
However, if this cry of "persecution" results in no insurance coverage for contraceptives, don't whine about out-of-control kids whose parents work multiple jobs to feed their families and pay basic bills and thus aren't home to parent.
Mary Jo Zazueta
A spotty record at best
The Michigan House Education Committee just passed a bill that would expand online education for Michigan students.
This would allow for-profit, cyber schools to receive the full foundation allowance for each student they enroll, but unlike public schools, there would be no oversight or accountability.
They also wouldn't need to comply with the same transparency, curriculum or grade level content standards as public schools.
It's hard for me to understand why cyber schools should be deemed special by our Legislature, especially when they're funded by tax dollars.
In addition, this type of school has a spotty record, at best, in states where they have been allowed to flourish.
For example, an analysis of online programs made by the I-News Network, a nonpartisan, Colorado-based news consortium, showed that half of the students who attend cyber schools in Colorado leave within the first year and are further behind than when they started.
This puts additional pressure on brick-and-mortar schools, which then must find money in their already depleted budgets to educate students who enroll mid-year.
Senate Bill 619 now moves on to the full House for a vote.
Levin: NDAA architect
In his Feb. 12 letter to the editor, Jack Taylor, of Alanson, was correct in saying that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) recently passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama, "coupled with the Patriot Act ... for all intents and purposes, completely nullifies a good portion of the Bill of Rights, turns the United States into a war zone, and places U.S. citizens under military rule."
More specifically, as the ACLU has said, "the law would authorize the president to send the military literally anywhere in the world to imprison civilians without charge or trial. Prison based on suspicion alone. The power is so sweeping that the president would be able to direct the military to use its powers within the United States itself, and even lock up American citizens without charge or trial."
Of special interest to Michigan citizens is the fact that the architects of the objectionable provisions of the NDAA in the U.S. Senate were those legendary defenders of civil liberties, John McCain and (get ready) Carl Levin.
Ever heard of him?
The writer is a longstanding member of the board of the Northwest Branch of the ACLU of Michigan and the State Board of the ACLU of Michigan.