Michigan considering suspension of democracy

Thanks to Kirk Anderson for putting me on to what is happening in Michigan, which is considering passing a bill that would allow the Governor’s office to replace elected local officials.

Kirk explains:  “There’s a bill working its way through the Michigan legislature that would give the governor authority to place “emergency managers” in financially troubled localities to help get their governments back on the fiscal track.  The thing is, these managers have the power to remove elected officials like country administrators and school board members, fire employees, cut benefits, slash services, merge districts, etc etc.  I think it might be an interesting discussion since it pits financial responsibility vs. local governance, both conservative principles.”  From the linked article:

A day after facing hundreds of rowdy, pro-union protesters that filled the state Capitol, the Senate voted on Wednesday to grant broad new powers to emergency managers who oversee financially struggling cities and schools, including the authority to void union contracts and remove elected officials.

The controversial bills are expected to head to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk for signature shortly, after the House and Senate, both controlled by Republicans, work out some language differences.

The Senate passed the main bill in the package by a 26-12 party-line vote, drawing an immediate rebuke from union leaders across the state, who called it an assault on collective bargaining rights. In the Macomb County delegation, Republican Sens. Jack Brandenburg of Harrison Township and Tory Rocca of Sterling Heights supported the measure, while Democratic Sen. Steve Bieda of Warren was opposed.

Brandenburg said several urban areas of the state, especially Detroit, are in “bad shape” and will need a state-appointed emergency financial manager, or EMF, who can impose strong medicine.

“He has to have the backbone, he has to have the power, to null and void a contract,” Brandenburg said.

The senator also rejected claims by Democrats that the bill will destroy Michigan’s long history of local control by allowing the EMF to remove top administrators and elected officials, put millage increases on the ballot, lay off employees, slash services, and merge the city or school district with a neighboring government entity. Brandenburg said the EMFs will be deployed in communities that need “financial martial law.”

“Local control? I’ll tell you what, I think that in a lot of these places there is no control,” he said.

via Michigan Senate passes emergency manager bills – dailytribune.com.

The unions are worried about losing collective bargaining rights?  What about citizens being worried about losing their voting rights?

I read this on the Ides of March, the day the Roman Republic–a free, constitutional, representative government that lasted 500 years–made its last futile effort to stay alive, slipping instead into an authoritarian absolutist  Empire.

The thing is, the jettisoning of the republic was for good reason. It had become corrupt, incompetent, and ineffective in dealing with the problems of Rome, including its financial problems.  Julius Caesar made himself into a dictator to address those problems.  He was very effective.  The people loved him for it.  And so were willing to give up all of their political freedoms.

Is this where we are headed?  Does political freedom just not work anymore, being unwilling to make hard and painful decisions?

Am I missing something?  Can anyone–preferably including people from Michigan–justify this on other than purely pragmatic grounds?

I am completely sympathetic to the comment on local control that in these cases of runaway spending “there is no local control.”  Can’t citizens be motivated to govern themselves, or is representative democracy hopeless and we had better find ourselves a Caesar who can get things done?

The Cranach Nuclear Watch

As Japan and the rest of the world worry over what will happen to the earthquake and tsunami damaged nuclear power plants, you should know that here at the Cranach blog we are getting some expert commentary.  MarkB used to work with nuclear power plants, and Carl Vehse–whom you might know merely on this blog as a conservative flamethrower–is by vocation a nuclear chemist.

I appreciate their ongoing explanations of the information that is coming out.

See what they say here and here.

Learn apologetics

If you are interested in Christian apologetics–that is, the defense of the Christian faith–I urge you to attend the summer program of the International Academy of Apologetics, Evangelism, and Human Rights, which will be held in Strasbourg, France, July 5-16.

You will study under the great John Warwick Montgomery, a giant in the field.

Also teaching this summer will be Craig Parton (author of The Defense Never Rests), my friend and co-director of the Cranach Institute Angus Menuge, Concordia Theological Seminary professor Adam Francisco, and Australian theologian Ross Clifford.

Here are the topics for this summer:

The Apologetic Task Today
Philosophical Apologetics
Scientific Apologetics and Medical Issues
Historical Apologetics
Legal Apologetics & Human Rights
Literary and Cultural Apologetics
The Apologetics of C.S. Lewis
Cults, Sects, and the World’s Religions
Biblical Authority Today

The cost is $2,995, which includes lodging at the University of Strasbourg, most meals, and extras, such as a tour led by Dr. Montgomery of the Alsace region in northeastern France, close to the German border.   This includes visits to the local vineyards and wine-making operations, a viewing of the Grunewald Crucifixion and Resurrection, and sampling of some amazing French cuisine.

I taught there last summer, lecturing on Literary and Cultural Apologetics, and I can say that a good time was had by all.  I love Strasbourg, the historic center of French Protestantism.  The university goes back to Johann Sturm’s original Reformation academy. Calvin taught there; the Huguenot Cross is still worn; and lots of Lutheran churches can still be found.

The teaching is high-level, but accessible to a wide range of backgrounds.  Last summer there were college students, laymen, and lots of pastors.  There was a high school student, married couples, folks of all ages.

And if you can’t go, this would make a great gift from a congregation to its pastor.

Go here for more information.

Yet another new step in open communion

Thanks to nqb for alerting us to yet another new horizon of open communion:  not just communing other Christians, not just communing non-Christians, but communing people who are not even setting foot in a church:

Wednesday morning pastors from the Community United Church of Christ offered communion to any one who wanted to receive it on the corner of 6th and Daniel streets.

The church, which is located on 805 South Sixth Street, plans to set up every Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. for the rest of the Christian season of Lent, which goes until Easter.

“We decided we needed to bring the open table out to the people,” explained Rev. Leah Robberts-Mosser, who is the pastor of Community United Church of Christ (Community UCC).

The church said some churches restrict who can get communion.  Rev. Robberts-Mosser said they wanted everyone to have the opportunity to do so, and that’s why they took it out to the streets.

via Champaign Church Offering Communion On Street Corner – IllinoisHomePage.net.

Beware the Ides of March

For the Romans, the 15th (or sometimes the 13th) of every month was called the “Ides,” marking the full moon.  Today is the Ides of March.

On this day in 44 B.C., Julius Caesar was assassinated by a group of Senators led by his friend Brutus, who was trying to preserve the Roman Republic by killing the man who was turning Rome into an empire.  The action only delayed briefly the fall of the republic.  (We tend to fixate on the fall of the Roman empire, but we need to worry more about parallels with the fall of the Roman republic.)

See Ides of March – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

So this Roman centurion goes into a bar and orders a martinus.  The bartender asks, “Do you mean a martini?”  The centurion says, “Look, if I wanted a double I’d tell you!”

Let us observe the Ides of March with Latin jokes, reasons why Latin should be taught in school, parallels with the transition from republic to empire, predictions of doom, or whatever else seems appropriate.

More on Japan’s earthquake

Officials estimate that at least 10,000 may be dead–with thousands more still missing–due to the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan.  Meanwhile, more nuclear power plants are in danger of meltdown.

See 10K dead in Japan amid fears of nuclear meltdowns – Yahoo! News.

Japan has been a world leader in the design of earthquake-resistant structures.  Read this confident–but now ironic–account of all that Japan does to ensure safety during an earthquake.

But this goes to show that all of the ingenious engineering does little if the earthquake is powerful enough.

Go here to help.

What does this mean for California, midwesterners along the New Madris fault, and other potential earthquake zones in the U.S.A.?


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