Category: Missouri Politics

Republicans in Wisconsin and Missouri disrespect the American flag

On June 14, 1777, exactly two years to the day of the founding of what is now known as U.S. Army, the Second Continental Congress officially adopted the first version of the national flag of the United States of America. In 1916, then-President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation declaring June 14 to be Flag Day.

Sadly, some politicians have used Flag Day to disgrace the American flag.

First off, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican, sent out a Flag Day tweet featuring a 48-star flag, which hasn’t been in official use since July 3, 1959:

The U.S. flag has officially featured 50 stars since July 4, 1960, the first Independence Day since Hawaii became the most recent state to join the Union.

Even more disgraceful, in my opinion, was a decision by two of the three members of the Republican-controlled Cole County, Missouri commission to not lower the U.S. flag on county grounds to half-mast, as ordered by the president to commemorate the terrorist attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Cole County, Missouri includes Jefferson City, which is Missouri’s state capital:

Following this weekend’s shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, President Obama ordered that, “as a mark of respect for the victims,” the United States flag be flown at half-staff “upon all public buildings and grounds” through the end of the day Thursday. Officials in Cole County, Missouri decided this didn’t apply to them.

The three-member commission that governs the county voted 2-1 against lowering the flag. “We (the commission) still have control over how the flags are displayed,” Commissioner Jeff Hoelscher (R) told the Jefferson City News Tribune. “Lowering it too much takes away from the honor. I feel for these victims and for their families, but I don’t feel this was a time for the flag to be lowered.”

Commissioner Kris Scheperle (R) similarly suggested that the Orlando shooting just doesn’t rise to the occasion. “I want to honor those who have served our country,” he said, “but we can’t lower it for every event like this that occurs. I do feel for those who were gunned down, but I don’t think it warrants lowering the flag.”

After public outcry, the Cole County commissioners decided to reverse their original decision and obey the president’s orders to lower the U.S. flag to half-staff after all.

While America celebrates our national flag, Republicans are busy disgracing our flag.

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ENDORSEMENT: NO on Missouri Personhood Amendment

The Republican-controlled Missouri House of Representatives advanced a so-called “personhood amendment” to the Missouri Constitution out of committee on a party-line vote. If placed on the ballot by both houses of the Missouri General Assembly and approved by voters, the so-called “personhood amendment” would grant more legal rights to zygotes, embryos, and fetuses than women, and, in effect, ban abortion, many forms of contraception, and stem cell research in Missouri.

Should the so-called “personhood amendment” be placed on the Missouri ballot, I strongly encourage Missouri voters to vote NO on the proposed amendment.

The so-called “personhood amendment” effectively grants more legal rights to fetuses, which are dependent on the would-be mother for survival, than women. Unlike what Republicans and bible-thumping bigots claim, life legally and biologically begins at birth, not conception or at any other point before birth. The so-called “personhood amendment” would strip Missouri women of their legal right to control their own body and make their own health care decisions.

Voters in states like North Dakota and Mississippi have rejected similar measures in recent years, and I believe that Missouri voters should, if it appears on their ballot, vote NO on the so-called “personhood amendment”.

Senate Republicans evade their constitutional duty

Earlier today, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia died. Even though I strongly disagreed with the vast majority of Scalia’s opinions, I offer my condolences to Justice Scalia’s family.

However, Republicans who hold the majority in the U.S. Senate, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and presidential candidates Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), couldn’t wait for Scalia to be cremated before showing that they are more than willing to evade their constitutional duty, with McConnell flatly saying that the Senate should wait until a new president is in the White House before confirming a new Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

This stands in sharp contrast with President Barack Obama, who intends to fulfill his constitutional duty by appointing a new associate justice to this country’s highest bench, even if Republicans obstruct his nomination.

By fulfilling one’s constitutional duty, I’m referring to, in this specific instance, Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution:

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

(emphasis mine; in Article II of the Constitution, “he” refers to the president, regardless of the president’s gender)

The President has the power and constitutional duty to nominate an individual to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, however, the Senate has the power and constitutional duty to either affirm or reject the president’s appointment. It’s clear to me that one party to the process to appoint Supreme Court justices intends to do his constitutional duty (the President), whereas the other party does not (the Republicans who control the U.S. Senate).

The Senate is not required to approve of the president’s pick for the Supreme Court vacancy. The Senate can, if they wish to, establish a process to determine whether or not to approve or reject the president’s pick, and can opt to vote the president’s pick down, either in committee or in the full Senate. However, for the Senate to not establish any kind of process for accepting or rejecting the president’s pick amounts to completely evading the constitutional duty of the Senate.

From an electoral standpoint, it would be absolutely foolish for Republicans to obstruct the president’s pick to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. If the Republicans go through with their threat to obstruct the president’s pick until, at the earliest, a new president is sworn into office, that would, in effect, put control of both the White House and the Supreme Court on the line in the 2016 presidential and senatorial elections. That is the poker equivalent of going all in with a likely losing hand. This strategy could very easily backfire on Republicans, and they would not like the nominees that either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders (I’m a Bernie supporter) would pick. Hillary would likely nominate Obama to the Supreme Court, and Bernie would probably appoint someone who is ideologically similar to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the most progressive of the current Supreme Court justices, if not even more progressive than Ginsburg. If Democrats were to retain control of the White House and regain control of the Senate, stalling on filling the Scalia vacancy on the Supreme Court could end up resulting in a more progressive justice than someone that Obama will pick being seated on our nation’s highest bench (I’m guessing that Obama will pick someone to his ideological right for Supreme Court). Furthermore, U.S. Senate races where Republicans are thought to be safe or favored, such as Indiana, Iowa, and Missouri, would become more competitive for Democrats, and U.S. Senate races that are either competitive or where Democrats are favored, such as Illinois and Wisconsin, would become even more favorable for Democrats.

ENDORSEMENT: Maria Chappelle-Nadal for 1st Congressional District of Missouri

I proudly endorse Maria Chappelle-Nadal in the U.S. House Democratic primary in Missouri’s 1st Congressional District, which includes the city of St. Louis and northern parts of St. Louis County.

Maria isn’t just part of the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s a way of life for her. During the Ferguson protests that were sparked by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson shooting and killing unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, Maria was hit with tear gas that was fired by law enforcement. Make no mistake about it, Maria herself has been a victim of police brutality, and, if she’s elected to Congress, she’ll fight to end police brutality in America. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is more passionate about racial justice issues than Maria.

Maria is running against incumbent Congressman William Lacy Clay, Jr., a backbencher who was virtually silent while chaos erupted in his congressional district.

Ending workplace discrimination against LGBT people should be the next fight in the LGBT rights movement

Thanks to a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision issued earlier today, same-sex couples across the entire United States of America can now enjoy the same legal right to marry that heterosexual couples have long enjoyed. To put it mildly, this is a huge victory for love and equality in America.

However, in 32 states, some, if not all, LGBT workers, can legally be fired simply because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity:

  • In 21 states (Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming), all workers can be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • In 3 states (Arizona, Missouri, and Montana), state employees cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation, but state employees can be fired on the basis of gender identity, and private-sector workers can be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • In 5 states (Idaho, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio), state employees cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity, but private-sector workers can be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • In 2 states (New Hampshire and Wisconsin), all workers cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation, but all workers can be fired on the basis of gender identity.
  • In 1 state (New York), state employees cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and private-sector workers cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation, but private-sector workers can be fired on the basis of gender identity.

If the source I linked to above has inaccurate and/or outdated information, please leave a comment on this blog post with accurate information for a particular state.

While it is a huge victory for the LGBT movement to secure marriage equality in all 50 states, the fight for full equality for gays, lesbians, bisexual people, and transgender people is far from over. The next big fight in the LGBT rights movement should be to push for laws prohibiting public and private employers from firing people based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Israel and our own country’s warmongering politicians are the biggest threats to the United States

Earlier today, a framework was announced in the ongoing talks between Iran and the P5+1 nations (the United States, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany) in an effort to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons that could be used against the United States and its allies. There is a June 30 deadline for a final nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 nations.

Already, Republican politicians have used the announcement of a framework in the Iran nuclear talks to threaten to blow up any Iran nuclear deal. Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a likely Republican presidential candidate, has, once again, promised to blow up any Iran nuclear deal if he’s elected president. Not to be outdone by Walker, Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, one of 47 U.S. Senators to sign the traitorous Tom Cotton letter, compared the P5+1 framework with the Iranian government to the 1938 Munich Agreement. The Munich Agreement allowed German dictator Adolf Hitler to annex the Sudetenland, or areas of what is now the Czech Republic that had a large percentage of German-speaking people prior to World War II. Not to be outdone by his own false equivalence, Kirk went as far as to call for a nuclear attack on Iran, saying that anything that would result in sanctions on Iran being lifted would “end with a mushroom cloud somewhere near Tehran”.

It’s not just hawkish American politicians who are trying to sabotage diplomacy with Iran. Yuval Steinitz, a member of the Benjamin Netanyahu-led Likud party and the Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister, reiterated Israel’s commitment to sabotaging any Iran nuclear deal, saying that Israeli officials will continue their efforts to “explain and persuade the world in hopes of preventing a bad (final) agreement”.

Make no mistake about it, Israel and our own country’s warmongering politicians are the biggest threats to the United States. People like those U.S. Senators who signed the traitorous Tom Cotton letter, people like those in Israel who support their own country’s self-destruction, and people like those Republican presidential candidates who call for the U.S. to “stand with Israel” by opposing diplomacy with Iran are putting America at risk of a nuclear attack by Iran. That’s because sabotaging any Iran nuclear deal would allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons that could be used against the United States and its allies.

If you’re standing with Israel and opposing diplomacy with Iran, you’re effectively opposing the national security of the United States of America.

Racism in the Democratic Party: Missouri State Representative Keith English wants to ship anti-racial profiling protesters to Mexico

Protesters calling for an end to racial profiling by police officers in Missouri and elsewhere in the United States who are marching from Ferguson, Missouri, where unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by then-Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, have been the target of racist attacks.

However, this time, those racist attacks are coming from a Democrat.

Keith English, a Democratic member of the Missouri House of Representatives from Florissant (located near Ferguson in northern St. Louis County), posted a map to his Facebook page showing a line from somewhere in or near Kansas City, Missouri to somewhere in or near Monterrey, Mexico, located in the Mexican state of Nuevo León. In his Facebook post (which has since been deleted, although a screengrab of the Facebook post was posted on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website), English remarked that he was giving the map to the protesters to “help in their cause”.

I’m certain that the protesters have zero use for English’s map and view his map and Facebook post as racist. For Keith English to publicly state that he thinks that people who want to eliminate racial profiling by police officers in Missouri and elsewhere in this country, including many of his own constituents, should be shipped to a foreign country is extremely offensive. Racism should not be tolerated in the Democratic Party, and English should be expelled from the Democratic caucus of the Missouri House of Representatives. Should English run for another term in office in 2016 as a Democrat, progressives should run a Democratic primary challenger against him.

Just like how Scott Walker has gotten away with corruption, Darren Wilson gets away with murder

By any reasonable standard, Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker should be behind bars and not in public office now. Walker has, among other things, illegally solicited $700,000 from an iron ore mining company to a right-wing political organization and has had public employees campaign for him on government time. Despite that, the justice system in Wisconsin and at the federal level has protected Walker, even allowing his right-wing cronies to argue that corruption is a form of free speech, an absolutely absurd claim.

Ferguson, Missouri Police Officer Darren Wilson, earlier tonight, quite literally got away with murdering Michael Brown, Jr., an 18-year-old black teenager. That’s because a grand jury in St. Louis County, Missouri, where the shooting occurred, decided not to press any charges whatsoever (not even for manslaughter) against Wilson. In fact, the St. Louis County, Missouri Prosecuting Attorney, Robert McCulloch, basically gave Darren Wilson’s side of the story to explain why the grand jury decided not to press charges against Wilson.

The reason I’m trying to compare Walker and Wilson is this: If you’re a white man in a position of power in this country, you’re going to get considerably more favorable treatment from the justice system than anyone else. I think that’s wrong, and there needs to be real reform of the justice system in this country.