Monthly Archives: March 2010

Going Hoosier

This Friday, I drove to Indiana to help Travis Hankins (R-Columbus)  in his campaign for Congress. I’ve known Travis – and his brother, Aaron – for about five years, and I believe he possesses the personal character we need among our elected officials. He’s also a conservative who genuinely believes in the values he talks about with Hoosiers every day, including a more limited role for the federal government. Several Republicans are vying for the chance to take on Rep. Baron Hill (D-Seymour).

Hill talks like a moderate, but all too often walks the liberal line in Washington, D.C. Most recently, he voted with Speaker Nancy Pelosi in favor of President Barack Obama‘s health care plan. The new law imposes costly new mandates and taxes on individuals, employers and insurance companies, greatly expanding the federal government’s role in the nation’s health care system.

IN-9 is conservative, but also a classic swing district. Hill has served all but two years since 1998, and Lee Hamilton, a Democrat, served for many years before that. However, John McCain earned 56% of the vote here in 2008, and Hill has faced closed races before, including in 2004 when he was knocked off by a Republican challenger. Like other Democrats representing moderate and conservative districts, Hill is vulnerable and should be running scared this year, particularly in light of his yes votes on the stimulus and health care packages.

Having been out of proper politics for a while, it’s good to be volunteering on a campaign. I lived in Indiana for two years so it’s also good to be back, especially given the chance to see some of the beautiful country in the Ninth, which stretches from Columbus on the North end to the rolling hills and forest patches of the Ohio River Valley in the South. I’ll wrap it up here but will try to post once more before I head back to Missouri in a couple days.


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Filed under 2012 Presidential Election

Castro cheers Dem health care passage

On one level, this tells you all need to know about health care “reform.” Thanks to AP, via Yahoo, via Drudge.

This addition to the entitlement structure seems very likely to permanently alter the character of our nation. What happened this week is that big a deal.

When America is no longer the world’s superpower, no longer exceptional in its freedom and dynamism, we may look back on this as one of the moments that furthered our decline. That moment may be thirty or fify or one hundred years from now, but our present course no doubt undermines our greatness.

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Feed the hungry (something good)

If you’re going to feed the hungry, you might as well give them good food. That’s what Sustain Mizzou aims to do this week, by purchasing natural foods from local farmers to then donate to the Central Missouri Food Bank. The student organization is conducting its Food Drive on the MU Campus at Speakers Circle this week, every day from 10am-3pm. I noticed them yesterday and stopped to fish some change out of my backpack while chatting briefly with one of the club members. Today, the group’s event was included in the MU listserv announcement.

I’m not an vegetarian, a vegan, a food activist or even an all-0rganic type of guy. I’ll probably always eat red meat and I don’t think every single chemical additive used in modern food products is a terrible thing. What I do know is that by eating more fruits and vegetables in the last several months, I’ve really improved by health and general well-being (more on that later). I also believe that if you can get that produce locally, there’s a good chance it will be fresher, among other benefits.

If you’re around Columbia, check out the Food Drive and give it your support. I’ll be the first one to condemn Sustain Mizzou if they want to get political and try to ban trans-fat in Columbia or something like that. As long as they’re rolling up their sleeves to get some good food to some local people in need, I’ll support them all the way.

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Travis Hankins files suit against health care action

I’m posting this email from Travis Hankins, who is running to take on Rep. Baron Hill (D-Indiana), a Blue Dog who voted for last night’s health care measure. Before the bill was passed I heard a few things about legal challenges – this is the first actual suit of which I’m aware.

Columbus-Today, Travis Hankins has announced that he is in the beginning process of filing legal briefs petitioning the courts to repeal “health care reform” on grounds that the legislation is unconstitutional.

Hankins will file a federal suit naming President Obama and every member of Congress that voted for the legislation alleging that they violated every American citizen’s constitutional rights. Hankins believes that Congress did not have the legal right to pass this bill.

Hankins is particularly concerned about the universal individual insurance mandate. Hankins believes this provision is very unconstitutional and would grant the government new powers that they have never had before.

Hankins comments, “When the President and Congress abandon their oath of office to preserve and protect the Constitution, then the Citizens must first look to the courts to restore and revive what the politicians failed to protect.”

Hankins continues, “We can’t wait until the elections in November. We need this legislation reversed now and my petition calls on the courts to do that.”

The Congressional Budget Office has commented on the historic expansion of Government power that the universal individual insurance mandate would usher in:

“A mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action. The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States. An individual mandate would have two features that, in combination, would make it unique. First, it would impose a duty on individuals as members of society. Second, it would require people to purchase a specific service that would be heavily regulated by the federal government.”

Hankins comments on the universal individual insurance mandate, “This is a tax on citizenship. If we give the politicians this power over our lives simply as citizens then it will never end. Someday they will be mandating what cars we MUST buy, what food we must eat, where we must live and on and on. We must put a stop to ever increasing government intrusion now.”

Hankins continues, “The Congress has limited, enumerated authority and they have to justify to the people that their bill is Constitutional and legal before they pass it. For Congress to make any law they must first point to the provision that gives them the right to take action. There is no provision in the Constitution authorizing Obamacare.”

Proponents of Obamacare will point to interstate commerce clause, but even in the Supreme Court’s most liberal interpretation, interstate commerce never gave the authority to regulate inactivity or to mandate inactivity to become activity. If illegally granted this power, there is no limit to potential government intrusion in our lives.

Hankins wants to make it clear that this is not a partisan issue for him. Many Republicans have strongly supported the concept of a universal individual insurance mandate including one of Travis’ primary opponents (another primary opponent supports something eerily similar). Travis has no problem saying that some Republicans are very much a part of the problem when it comes to a universal individual insurance mandate and if any of them had voted on it then their name would be included in the petition.

Hankins supports other petitions by the states and others but Hankins feels to many of them are watered down and not focused on the right Constitutional questions. Hankins’ petition will focus on the Unconstitutionality of the Universal Insurance mandate and Tax Payer funded Abortion.

Travis Hankins believes the court should be valuable piece of the puzzle in restoring and reviving the Constitution from the politicians and bureaucrats who are destroying it. The court must not follow the path of Congress, the President, and activists courts…but they must be the protector of the Constitution.

Hankins plans to file his petition one day after the May primary.

Travis Hankins is a real estate investor and conservative activist seeking the GOP nomination in Indiana’s ninth Congressional district. More information can be found at

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Filed under 2010 House Elections, Health Care

Rome must spare no effort against abuse

In recent weeks a new round of stories has surfaced about child sex abuse in the Roman (“Catholic”) Church. This time, much of the news comes from Europe, and Germany and Ireland in particular. The Associated Press reports today that the diocese in Munich – formerly lead by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict XVI – has established a sex abuse task force to deal with daily accusations that are now being leveled against it. The subject is an unpleasant one, to say the least, but also an immensely important one.

Beyond the abuse itself that has taken place in the Church, one part of this larger story particularly bothers and confounds me. That is the idea that some Church officials ignored or excused what happened, or was likely to happen, under their watch. The AP story cites the 1971 case of a diocese in Switzerland knowingly hiring a priest who had sexually abused children. Such action is inexcusable.

In other instances, problem priests have been removed from direct care of children to other positions, or worse, simply transferred to another diocese. Any Church official who brushes abuse or potential abuse under the rug joins in the moral culpability of the offender. In a clear case of abuse, refusing to condemn is tantamount to a rush to condone.

When a malignant cancer is removed from the human body, surgeons attempt to remove it in its entirety. Church officials who look the other way when they learn of abuse that has taken place, or may be likely to take place, are part of the cancer that afflicts Rome. Their presence must be extracted and terminated as strongly and swiftly as the direct offenders themselves. Only when the Vatican treats those who aid and abet abusers as abusers themselves will it be free of this horrible and deadly disease.

The big question on the table right now is whether then-Cardinal Ratzinger ever had direct knowledge of abuse that he did not fully address. Certainly, there are those who would like to prove that he did. What I’m interested in is the facts, and I don’t know whether they have yet fully emerged. For the moment, I give Benedict the benefit of the doubt because from what I know (and as a non-Catholic I can’t say that I follow these things in close detail) he has long maintained a strong personal reputation.

* “Roman Catholic Church” or “Catholic Church” do not well describe the denomination (catholic means universal, and the Roman church is by definition not), so here I have used “Roman” or “Church,” etc. For an informative treatment of this topic, see Loraine Boettner’s Roman Catholicism. Incidentally, Boettner was born in Linden, Missouri; he lived from 1901 – 1990. There are some valid criticisms of this book but on this point of nomenclature I found his distinction useful and interesting.

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Lessons from a journalist

Tony Messenger spoke to a “News Media Ethics and Social Responsibilities” class at the University of Missouri today, and said that a good journalist must do three things:

1) Be courageous. A journalist be willing to confront those in positions of power, even if doing so could be an intimidating experience, as might especially be the case for a younger journalist.

2) Be persistent. Stay on the story until you have the full story, even if the facts are not immediately forthcoming, or certain people try to get in your way.

3) Get it right. Knowing and reporting the facts serves not only the public but also gives you credibility with sources and subjects. Whenever possible, rely on documents to prove your case.

Good lessons from a veteran Missouri reporter.


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More of the same….

Missouri State Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) wants to ban K2, an artificial alternative to marijuana. Having passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, and a companion bill passing in the House, yesterday SB887 passed an initial test in the Senate. A final vote is still required. I don’t recall statements from Gov. Jay Nixon on this issue, but my guess is that he would sign such a measure.

There are a variety of reasons not to smoke K2, chief among them that not much is known, scientifically, about its short and long term effects on the user. However, before lawmakers rush to ban this questionable substance – and Schaefer’s bill, like similar measures passed in Pettis County and St. Charles County, contains an emergency implementation clause – let’s consider one of the direct causes of its existence and proliferation.

Obviously, that would be the prohibition of marijuana. K2 is in demand because it is a legal, available and effective substitute for the organic original, cannabis. To address a problem by banning a substance, itself the result of banning another substance, is an exercise in questionable logic, to say the least. It may make about as much sense as smoking either of the substances in question!

Schaefer seems sincere, and no doubt much of the concern is well-intentioned. Yet, I think before lawmakers rush to action, it would be wise to consider how we got here. Oddly enough, anti-K2 activists haven’t seemed to talk much about why we are confronted by this emerging issue.

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