Category: Missouri

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.

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.

BREAKING NEWS: University of Mizzouri president Tim Wolfe resigning, Mizzou graduate student Johnathan Butler ends hunger strike

AUTHOR’S NOTE: In this blog post, “Mizzou” refers to the University of Missouri-Columbia, and “Mizzou System” refers to the entire University of Missouri System.


Tim Wolfe, the President of the University of Missouri System, is resigning amid a hunger strike by Mizzou graduate student Jonathan Butler, a strike by 32 members of the Mizzou football team, and a pervasive racist culture at Mizzou. Upon Wolfe’s resignation, Butler ended his hunger strike and has stated that Wolfe’s resignation should be the first step towards ending racism in the Mizzou System:

However, the president of the Mizzou System stepping down should be only the first step when it comes to ending the racist culture at Mizzou and in the Mizzou System.

Make no mistake about it, racism is a serious problem at Mizzou. The student body at the flagship Mizzou campus, located in Columbia, Missouri, is predominantly white, and black students have had to deal with racial slurs directed at them regularly. In one instance, someone drew a swastika, a symbol on the flag of Nazi Germany during Adolf Hitler’s fascist dictatorship, on a dormitory wall using human feces. That is just one of many racist incidents at Mizzou.

Just because Tim Wolfe stepped down doesn’t change the fact that racism is still a problem in the Mizzou System. The next Mizzou System president should take racism a lot more seriously and fight to make the Mizzou System campuses welcoming to all Mizzou System students and faculty.