Wednesday, February 25, 2004

It looks like the Supreme Court has decided, in a 7-2 decision, that states may deny students a scholarship if they are studying theology. I'm not sure what to think of this...At first it seemed okay, but a lot of private universities are religious and require studying theology to graduate, and many students receive scholarships and loans. It's just a bit grey.

``Training someone to lead a congregation is an essentially religious endeavor,'' Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote for the court in Washington. ``That a state would deal differently with religious education for the ministry than with education for other callings'' is not evidence of ``hostility toward religion,'' he said.

Story here.
It looks like the Supreme Court has decided, in a 5-2 decision, that states may deny students a scholarship if they are studying theology. I'm not sure what to think of this...At first it seemed okay, but a lot of private universities are religious and require studying theology to graduate, and many students receive scholarships and loans. It's just a bit grey.
`Training someone to lead a congregation is an essentially religious endeavor,'' Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote for the court in Washington. ``That a state would deal differently with religious education for the ministry than with education for other callings'' is not evidence of ``hostility toward religion,'' he said.

Story here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

"The American people will decide between two visions of government: a government that encourages ownership and opportunity and responsibility -- or a government that takes your money and makes your choices," he said at the Washington Convention Center, at a $1,000-a-person fundraising reception for the Republican Governors Association. "The security and prosperity of America are at stake."
From the Washington Post.

Of course, this is opposed to the Bush Adminstration, which just takes your money.....and gives it to corporations and the top tax bracket.
Jack Balkin, a Yale law professor, takes the grossly mis-named "Constitutional Restoration Act" to out to the woodshed in a piece on his blog.
A little bit further down the page he takes a look at the marriage amendment floating around. In his opinion it is so badly written it wouldn't pass mustard. He also add the interesting tidbit that former supreme court nominee Judge Robert Bork had a hand in the writing of the proposed amendment.
Overall, if you want to gain some insight into the law and the many bunglers tossing it around these days, you have to check out his blog.
A little sanity and clarity is always welcome. Matthew Yglesias over at Tapped brings some much needed clarity on the Bush tax cut.
This is, of course, a topic the Bush administration would love to have remain unclear. It's hard to hoodwink the people when they can see through the charade.
Even House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX) is backing off the marriage amendment. When even your congressional partners (from your home state no less) back off support for you, you know you've got some trouble ahead.
Even Signers of Marriage Ammendment asked to sign fidelity pledge.
I have read recently a lot of comments to the effect that this years election has come down to “handicappers”, and the rise of the civilian pundit. The argument is that the election is now about the process and strategy and not about substance. This is a continuing trend, of course, but this year’s election has seen its peak.
In general I agree, I think the substance is extremely important. Voting for someone simply because you think they’ve had the best campaign strategy is like going to war to test a strategy, regardless of its moral or ethical considerations. While you can certainly admire the strategies (and I do) you still have to make a decision as to whether you agree with what’s being sent your direction.
In this particular election, however, I believe such an argument can be set aside. To an extent whichever democratic candidate gets the nomination will be (“I can predict it,” said Sen. Boxer last night on Tavis Smiley, “It’s going to be a John.”), for most democrats, acceptable. The questions of delectability and strategy are relevant when the main idea is to remove the incumbent.
If you ask me I think people have been considering substance as much as style. Edwards’ jump in Wisconsin was not simply a last minute blast of attention and energy on the part of his campaign, but I think it also reflected the fact that a lot of people looked at Kerry and said, “you know, my feelings about trade are more in line with Edwards.”
That and the ladies love him.
Edwards’ ideas appeal to people while Kerry looks to be a great candidate to run against Bush (although, the way Rove is running things, they might be able to get away with just about anyone). Personally, I prefer Edwards, but I never thought Edwards would get this far. Still, if the Bush campaign keeps up its goofball routine, Edwards could run right over him; he’s young, southern, and has a good if brief record. The experience question could hurt him a bit, but it wouldn’t be the first time a relatively inexperienced candidate beat his more experienced opponent.
The perfect response for a perfect goof...
Tuition assistance at Burger College? Think the Republicans will go for it?
Atrios over at Eschaton has a good post on the benefits that come with marriage.

Andrew Sullivan nails the issue here
President Bush has decided to make his opening campaign salvo, but it's not about his record. President Bush has decided to kill two birds with one stone, by taking his stand today he has launched himself into the contentious issue of gay marriage and fired his first shot in his campaign for re-election. Bush urged congress to pass an ammendment to ban gay marriage today after earlier hints that he would do so.
Rather than tout his record, the President has instead chosed to take a stand that will reassure his conservative backers and is garaunteed to irritate his opponents.
Using a constitutional ammendment to address this issue is, to say the least, excessive. The issue of marriage is complicated (legally) in that the individual states create their own definition of marriage, but it must be respected by other states. That's why people used to go all the way to Reno to get a divorce, they had the most lax rules about divorce. So while there is no federal definition of marriage, there is a federally backed endorsement of the marrital contract, the full faith and credit clause (article IV section 1).
Of course, you could make a basic argument that this is the ultimate example of the federal government inserting itself into people's lives. (The definition of "marriage" is a whole other discussion, marriage is what you do in a church, the marriage license is simply a legal contract between two parties. The amendment can't affect the church side of things, but it can mess with the legal issue. In other words, it can't prevent people from getting married, but it can deny you any legal rights based upon that marriage.) An ammendment barring gay marriage is an example of the federal government stepping into and directly affecting state-sanctioned contracts.
While moral traditionalists are excited by the prosepect, traditional conservatives should be climbing the walls.
This is nothing, of course, compared to the basic rediculousness of the whole idea.
There is absolutely no reason why gay marriages shouldn't be legal. Conservatives scream that it's a threat to the "institution" of marriage. My question is always, "Have you ever been divorced?"
If two people care about each other so much that they want to not only publicly announce it but make it legal, i'll be there throwing rice.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

This is a copy of a letter I sent to the Ralph Nader exploratory website a while back, before I thought he was serious about this.

"I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. At the time, I thought it was more important to bring more diversity to the possible selection. A third party whose views I agreed with would be, I thought, a positive addition. About 2 years later I realized that until an active and representative third party is present at the state level, there is _no_ place for a third party at the Presidential level.
I think independent parties are a great idea, however, given the nature of and the history of political parties in the United States it is something that will not be beneficial until they can demonstrate that they can bring 10 million plus votes to the table. The majority of those votes have to be new voters. If they can't then they are taking them from one or the other candidate. Perot sucked off enough votes from Bush (and created enough political dissonance) so that Clinton was able to win the election. Nader did not lose the election for Gore in 2000. Gore and his inept campaign lost the 2000 election. However, the fact that it came _so_ close and will come as close this election means that the non-conservative groups in this country need to get behind one candidate.
It is far too important.
People do not realize the extent to which the Republicans will go to cement their position. The reason Jeffords created so much anger with his switch was natural. Any and every method legal or otherwise will be taken to ensure the Republican control in this country. If you don't believe me read the National Review (who aren't the worst lot, they just hang out with bums), Wall Street Journal op-ed page and talk to any republican state or national (mostly national). The lawsuits over the redistricting are a prime example. It's about controlling the country. It's about controlling the electoral votes and to do that you need to control the states. THey have been biding their time. They couldn't take out Clinton and his bunch with a frontal attack, they had to rewrite the rules.
Defeating the Republican party is too important to have a third party pull of any time, attention or votes from that purpose. I supported a third party (green) in the recent mayoral election. I have supported one for the state house, but I will not do so for the president. Not unless he can show me 50+ percent of the vote. Otherwise, forget it.
If you are concerned about the attitudes and actions of the current administration, you will not allow your candidate to run. There is more at stake than diversifying the electorate. If Mr. Nader would like to seek a position in the house or a governership I would support him all the way.
Perot was able to bring 15% of the electorate to his side, many of whom hadn't voted before, most of whom voted republican the next time.
If Mr. Nader can not bring at least that much, he shouldn't come.
I have the greatest respect for Mr. Nader and I believe he has changed this country for the better in a lot of ways. He is truly working to help this entire country a step at a time. At this time, however, a run for the President is not the way to help this country.
The best way to help would be to endorse the Democratic candidate after the primaries. Bring the votes together with the Democrats. Once there the Democrats can work from a position of strength to change the "reforms" the republicans put in place.
This election is too important. The electorate is too close. There is no 15-20% undecided vote any more. This election is coming down to fractions of a percent again.
The Republicans want to bring the fight to Florida again. But if they get Cali they won't need to.

If Mr. Nader would like to help, have him endorse after the primaries. It's too important to make a run this year."

Ralph, dont run!

Ralph Nader has been a consistent voice opposing the complete corporate takove of the American political process. He has spent the several deades working to improve this country. I supported his effort to create a third party in 2000 and I continue to support his efforts to move the party away from corporate interests. I even met the guy and had a nice conversation with him back in 2001.

Back then I thought he got a raw deal from the Democratic Party, I told him so when I met him. He agreed, but he believed it had less to do with personal feelings than with corporate support. I doubt many people dislike him personally, or professionally but it is easy to see how Democrats could be angered by his Presidential run in 2000.

That being said, Ralph Nader's candidacy in 2004 is a mistake. He is running with no support, no base and not only is it questionable whether anyone will take him serious, but it idoubtfulll that he will be able to get on the ballot in any state, let alone all 50.

From the Chicago Sun-Times, ''I think if he does choose to run as an independent -- and that's a big 'if' -- he will be a weaker candidate than if he had worked with the Greens,'' said Ben Manski, a party co-chairman.

New York's Green Party urged Nader to reconsider, saying in a statement Tuesday that a separate run could be ''disastrous'' for both Nader and the party because it could divide supporters."”

Nader has done a good job bringin up important issues, however, this election is the wrong time for him to make a statement. This election is going to come down to an election about Bush. The question is do you support the work administrationtion has done in the past four years or is it time for a change?

In 2000, electiontion was Gore's to lose, and he lost it. It was not due to Nader's campaign. If Nader hadn't run, Gore probably would have won, but there were a large number of voters that Nader himself brought it. Nader's support in many states was within statistical invisibility. Gore lost the election because he let it come down to ahundred hundren thousand votes.

The argument continues to this day, but my basic argument is that Gore forgot to trumpet one of the greatest economies in history and to create himself as his own man. If Gore had been as likeable and laid-back as he was on Saturday Night Live 2 years ago, he could have, would have won.

It is almost a certainty that this election will come down to a fraction of a percent. Nader's candidacy does threaten to mess with the final total. His lack of endorsements from anyone, including former supporters, will leave him hanging in the wind.

In a way, however, the more important issue is that Nader's candidacy threatens to discredit the work he has achieved. He is in the process of writing himself into irrelevancy. His opinions and approach may continue to be strong, but he stands a chance to become a public pariah. His efforts are to important to undercutting them with an unpopular and unrealistic presidential candidacy.
Nader on Meet the Press today....

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Got this from the StLouIST mailing list:


HB 893 (Icet) and SB 791 (Yeckel) – Tax credits for anti-abortion harassment. Allows a 50% tax credit – up to $50,000 per taxpayer per year – for contributions to crisis pregnancy centers that are mandated to provide only directive, anti-abortion counseling to women with unintended pregnancies.

HB 915 (Portwood) and SB 1071 (Bartle) – Teen isolation. Seeks to limit who may assist a minor to navigate the complex judicial bypass process releasing her from the parental consent requirements for an abortion, making it harder for her to obtain the abortion.

HB 1000 (Crowell) – Provider gag rule. Prevents any agency from receiving state funds if they provide pregnant women with all options information. This is very broadly written and would devastate many small health or social welfare agencies.

HB 1293 (Deeken) – Omnibus ‘after the fact’ act. Includes 50% tax credits up to $50,000 for contributions to anti-abortion harassment; defines ‘alternatives to abortion’ (ATA) agencies and services, and the term ‘medical emergency’; establishes a ‘Respect Life Commission’ of members recommended by anti-abortion groups, and appointed by the Governor with advice and consent by the Senate; requires that the informed consent process include information – prepared by this new anti-abortion commission – about ATA agencies and services, and that women be given ‘sufficient time to assimilate this information’ and be given ‘the opportunity to contact agencies like these’ before undergoing an abortion (failure to comply with this vaguely worded requirement could result in civil liability against the physician, and the loss of the physician’s license); requires the materials used during the informed consent process be developed by the new commission; establishes an ‘Alternatives To Abortion Support Fund’; establishes anti-choice license plates, with the funds disbursed according to the new commission; and, removes the cap on Special Needs Adoption tax credits

HB 1278 (Luetkemeyer) and SB 805 (Loudon) ‚Äì Elimination of preventive health services for women.  HEARD IN COMMITTEE

NOTE: Elimination of mandated programs was removed from the House bill but is still in the Senate Bill.

This bill has the stated goal of providing cheap health insurance to small businesses but, to do so, its authors have removed from Missouri statute nine mandated procedures that insurance companies are currently required to cover. Those nine include:

Automatic coverage of newborn children


Coverage of adopted children on the same basis as other dependents

Maternity must comply with minimum coverage standards

Pelvic exams and Pap smears for women

Cancer screenings like colorectal exams and prostate exams for nonsymptomatic insureds

Childhood immunizations

PKU coverage (requires coverage for physician directives to deal with phenylketonuria)

It also adds a two year moratorium on additional mandated services which must be provided by health insurance companies doing business in Missouri.

This bill undercuts the ability of Missourians to get much needed health care, often preventive care, which in the long term saves money.

SB 738 (Loudon) and HB 1339 (Cunningham) – VOTED OUT OF COMMITTEE

Teen endangerment. Imposes civil liability on anyone helping a minor avoid the Missouri parental consent law by crossing state lines for an abortion. This bill could seriously endanger those very few teens who, for good reason, cannot involve a parent; this could place them in serious physical danger.

SB 790 (Yeckel) – Physician restrictions & burdensome clinic regulations. Imposes unnecessary burdens on physicians who perform abortions and would require any provider to become licensed as an ambulatory surgical center if they perform as few as 5 first trimester abortions per month, whether surgical or using the pill. This would prevent private physicians from offering medical abortions in the privacy of their offices.

SB 798 (Steelman), SB 862 (Cauthorn) and HB 1374 (Crawford) – Anti-choice license plates. The $25 charge for these special license plates (‘Respect Life’ and a red rose would replace ‘Show Me State’ on the plates) would be put into the Alternatives To Abortion (ATA) fund. Monies could be used to fund crisis pregnancy centers that are established to intimidate women from having an abortion.

SB 904 (Gross) – State mandated reporting of why women seek an abortion. Requires physicians to ask, and report, why a woman is seeking an abortion. This is an invasion of privacy designed not to improve access to pregnancy prevention services, but to further intimidate women.

SB 1119 (Cauthorn) – Prescription denial. Mandates that pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions with which they disagree may not be discriminated against by their employer in hiring or termination based upon that refusal.


SB 1002 (Bray) and HB 1335 (Hilgemann) – Freedom=Choice License Plates. The $25 charge for these special license plates (‘Freedom=Choice’ and a pro-choice symbol would replace ‘Show Me State’ on the plates) would be put into the Freedom=Choice fund. Monies could be used to fund family planning services.

SB 1067, the MoSP's single payer bill, sponsor Mary Bland.

Barbara Fraser is sponsoring it in the House and is seeking cosponsors. Please read it on line. If you like the bill, please ask your legislator to cosponsor it. Barbara intends to file this on 2/17.

SB 1158 (Bray) – Women’s Right To Know. Requires the division of maternal, child, and family health within the Department of Health and Senior Services to raise public awareness about all FDA approved contraceptive drugs and devices, including emergency contraception, and to inform women that if their health plan covers prescription drugs it must also cover contraceptives.

"Fund the Cure" stamp

The US Postal Service recently released its new "Fund the Cure" stamp to help fund breast cancer research. The stamp was designed by Ethel Kessler of Bethesda,Maryland. It is important that we take a stand against this disease that affects so many of our Mothers, Sisters and Friends. 

The St. Louis Public School board sold Theresa School to Amy and Amritt Gill. Jake Wagman at the Post wrote it up.
The Gills picked up the building for $610,000 and have three years to complete the project. They plan on converting the building into 30 loft units. The Gills are also the couple behind the restoration of the Coronado Hotel at the corner of Lindell and Spring in Midtown. They also own and run Lindell Towers next door, and are behind the rehab of the historic Moolah Temple further West on Lindell. The St. Louis Business Journal has an in-depth piece on Amy Gill for their "40 under 40" project.
George W. Bush's military history is becoming more and more problematic. The repeated inquiries of of the Press (which have become rather aggressive in their White House briefings, better late than never), as well as the continuing public statements of former Gaurd officers (senior officers and other pilots who would have served with Bush), as well as Bush's obfuscations (if not flat out lies) in his Meet The Press interview, have begun to cloud an issue that could (and should) have been handled in 2000. The political directors in the White House have started dropping things, and they are making a lot bigger sound than they used to.
The Boston Post as well as the Associated Press have been keeping up with the story very well. The Globe published a story today that states the President's missed physical is a much more serious issue that it has been made out to be. Missing the flight physical is tantamount to violating your oath of service.

David Niebert over at Ornicus has been doing a good job covering this story.
Military preparedness. Despite pre-war assurances, it seems as though the U.S. military is overstretched, and overtired. Recent criticism is based not on a moral stance for or agains the war, but is from reasonable questions as to whether the military was even capable of a sustained presence in Iraq. The president took the military into a war in which it could certainly defeat the opposing forces militarily, but was questionably capable of the long-term rebuilding, advising and security aspects that were inevitably necessary.
Apparently four divisions, nearly half the U.S. military's strength, is at the lowest readiness level as they work to repair equipment and rest the men.
For an administration who lives on holding rallys at military bases, they certainly ask for a great deal of the young men and women who fight for this country and who constantly find themselves to sacrifice more and more. Reinlistment is down although no one is talking about it. The men and women in the military, particularly in the reserves (which makes up nearly half of the force in Iraq), are making their decision. Staying in doesn't seem to be the popular option.
Over at Tapped, The American Prospect's blog, Nick Confessore wrote a good piece addressing just this issue.
(Confessore has also been writing some great pieces over at The Washington Monthly.)
It looks like the Bush/Rove campaign machine might have miscalculated when they dropped Bush into the Daytona 500. The stop was an ealy step into the campaign season. Bush was obviously attempting to help reinforce the people the Republicans believe should be a solid base. However, the base that Rove feels is a lock, may not be as monolithic as the Republicans believe.
Matt Thompson, writing for The American Prospet visited the Daytona 500 and talked to the racefans. His on the ground report is certainly something that must worry the Republican campaign machine.
Bush spoke those immortal words, "Gentlemen, start your engines!", but will they be headed in his direction?

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Always informative and insightfull, the Talking Points Memo is a great place to keep up on national politics. Marshall covers everything from the 2004 campaign to good books on history and policy.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Say it aint so Ralph! Say it aint so!!
Looks like everyone's favorite third-party candidate is going to run again.
Okay.....just trying this thing out.
Ahem....Mr. Bush....Marine One is ready to take you back to the Ranch....