Posts filed under Elections

Gas Prices Drop Below $2.00

Filed in PoliticsTags: Democrats, Economy, Elections, Missouri, Republicans, Saint Louis

Democrats' worst post-Labor-Day nightmare, Part I:

Gas Prices 002

Gas Prices in the St. Louis area fall below $2.00. Here is the gas station nearest my house.
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

Great timing, Claire [emphasis added]:

“Considering that Jim Talent thinks giving tax breaks to oil companies raking in record profits is the best way to lower gas prices, it’s difficult to see how keeping him in the Senate will result in cheaper prices at the pump,” DSCC spokesman Phil Singer said. “Claire McCaskill thinks it makes more sense to eliminate those tax breaks so that we can invest in alternative energy sources like ethanol. That’s the kind of change that’s needed to deal with the record gas prices.”

Getting Past The Deception

Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Elections, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

The deceptively named Missouri Coalition for Life-Saving Cures (the Coalition) isn't going to get away with their equally deceptive attempt to re-define cloning in order to pass a constitutional amendment to protect cloning.

I can appreciate an open, honest, intellectual discussion - and I think that, generally, those actually performing Somatic-Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT - i.e. cloning) research espouse that intellectual honesty. For instance, as reported by the Columia Missourian, the pro-SCNT Diana Schaub, a member of President Bush's bio-ethics committee and the political science chair at Loyola College of Maryland, says the language in Missouri’s proposed constitutional amendment to protect stem-cell therapeutic cloning is deceptive:

I certainly agree that banning cloning to produce children is a good idea, but I disapprove of deceiving voters into thinking that embryonic stem-cell research by means of SCNT (somatic cell nuclear transfer, the common method for stem-cell research) is not cloning.”

(Emphasis added)

Money section:

According to Schaub, the scientific definition of cloning is: “the asexual production of a new human organism that is, at all stages of development, genetically identical to a currently existing or previously existing human being.”

Somatic cell nuclear transfer, says Schaub, is the procedure for cloning a somatic cell, or body cell, and putting it into a nucleated [sic] egg (an egg in which the nucleus has been removed) and then stimulating that egg to produce cell division. The result is a clone, or an organism that has the identical genetic makeup to the donor of the somatic cell.

In both cloning for children and cloning for cures, the initial process is the same,” Schaub said. “SCNT is a cloning technique.

The deception, she says, is that the amendment defines cloning as involving implantation.

“It pretends to ban human cloning in total, when in fact, it only aims to ban the cloning of a live born human child,” she said. “We should have an honest discussion about whether human cloning for research purposes, should it become possible, whether that’s a good idea or not.”

That last sentence is the whole key: opponents of the Coalition don't want to prohibit the vote; we simply want to have an honest discussion and a vote based on facts, not deception.

Faced with this straight-forward statement, proponents of the Coalition can do nothing but admit their deception, and sound sophmoric doing so:

Alex Bartlett, a panelist and lawyer who was involved with writing the initiative’s language, disagreed with Schaub’s assessment. He said the ballot language, which seeks to ban the cloning or the attempt to clone a human being, outlines very specifically what cloning is and what it is not.

“I think John Smith on the street or Joe Blow, when they think of cloning they are thinking of creating a human version of Dolly the sheep (the first cloned animal),” Bartlett said. “We tried to get at that and that’s we were preventing.”

Translation: we're trying to dumb-down Missourians, in order to pass an amendment protecting the very thing that Missourians are against.

I can think of at least two means for the Coalition to be intellectually honest:

  1. Clarify that the Initiative bans reproductive cloning, while protecting therapeutic cloning.
  2. Clarify that the Initiative does not ban cloning, but prohibits implantation of cloned embryos.

The reason that the Coalition won't choose either of these options is that they know that neither, having truthfully identified the intent of the Initiative, would garner the support of Missourians required to pass a constitutional amendment.

While the Columbia Missourian gets the facts out in a mostly unbiased manner, the Jefferson City News Tribune is still getting it wrong, and reporting with bias:

The proposed ballot measure, entitled the Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative, includes language that would “ban human cloning,” which it defines as an attempt to implant into a woman a scientifically created embryo that did not come from a sperm and egg.

But opponents call the title and ballot language deceptive and misleading for failing to classify a certain form of embryonic stem cell research, known as somatic cell nuclear transfer, as the scientific equivalent of human cloning.

SCNT isn't a "certain form" of embryonic stem cell (ESC) research; it is the form of ESC research. SCNT isn't the "scientific equivalent" of human cloning; it is the definition of cloning - it is the method of cloning, period. These qualifier phrases clearly portray the pro-ESC research bias of the reporter, and it is against this very bias that obscures the facts that I will continue to fight. But the mis-information doesn't stop there:

Under that procedure, the nucleus of an unfertilized human egg is replaced with the nucleus from a skin or nerve cell. The altered egg then is stimulated to grow in a lab dish, and researchers remove the resulting stem cells.

This last statement is wrong; missing is that the researchers can only remove (embryonic) stem cells because the result of SCNT is an embryo, and it is from this embryo - which is destroyed in the process - that stem cells are extracted.

And on top of biased reporting, we see just plain wrong reporting:

Not all the panelists supported the type of stem cell research likely to be voted upon in Missouri in the fall.

Diana Schaub, a political science professor at Loyola College in Maryland and a member of the President's Council on Bioethics, sided with opponents of the proposed November initiative. She called the ballot language a “definitional sleight of hand.”

Yes, that's the same Diana Schaub quoted above - very much in favor of SCNT and ESC research. The irony here is, Schaub is in favor of the research, but opposed to the language of the Initiative. Though, perhaps Schaub here is incorrectly identified as an opponent of the Initiative in order to discredit her criticism of that language?

And in related news, the Coalition is suing a rival organization to have its web site taken down. Apparently, they don't like being Google-bombed:

"They've stolen our Web site," said Donn Rubin, chairman of Lifesaving Cures. "They've stolen our codes, our pictures, our graphics" in what he alleged was an attempt to confuse Internet search engines and the public.

In the words of Glenn: heh.

Good luck with that...

All sources via John Combest.

Filibustering to Facilitate Fraud

Filed in PoliticsTags: Democrats, Elections, Missouri, Republicans

Missouri Senate Democrats intend to filibuster a bill requiring government-issued photo IDs in order to vote. Their justification? Typical democrat non-sequitur:

Democrats say the Republican aim is to suppress turnout among the poor, elderly and disabled — many of whom lost their Medicaid coverage last year and would be more likely to vote Democratic this fall.

Someone make me smart; what does being poor, elderly, or disabled have to do with obtaining and presenting a government-issued photo ID when voting?

Now, the real constituency in danger with this bill is the deceased vote (the Democrats' strongest voting bloc in the Saint Louis area). Given the difficulty of providing photo IDs for dead people (and the additional provision in the bill, repealing the state law allowing people to appeal their removal from voter rolls - something intended to cull voter rolls of those who have already assumed room temperature), I can completely understand why state democrats would want to block passage of this bill.

The final nail in the coffin (so to speak) to the democrats' fraud-vote efforts is the bill's provision eliminating Missouri's early voting.


For reference: Senate Bill SB1014 Summary:

Under current law, election authorities shall arrange registration cards in binders or authorize the creation of computer lists to document voter registration. This act requires election authorities to use the Missouri voter registration system to prepare a precinct register of legally registered voters for each precinct.

The act bars persons from compensating others for registering voters. Those who agree to or offer to submit a voter registration application for another person shall not knowingly destroy, deface, or conceal such an application and shall submit the application to the election authority within seven days of accepting the application. Those in violation of these provisions are guilty of a class four election offense.

Persons paid for soliciting more than ten voter registration applications, other than those paid by the government, must register with the secretary of state as a voter registration solicitor. A solicitor must be eighteen years old, registered to vote in Missouri, and register for every election cycle. Penalties for the failure to register are provided in the act.

The act allows anyone who believes a violation of the Help America Vote Act has occurred, is occurring, or is about to occur may file a complaint with the elections division of the secretary of state's office. Complaint requirements are established.

The act amends personal identification requirements to be shown to gain voter eligibility at polling places. The identification must be issued by the United States or the state of Missouri, include the individual’s name and photograph, and must have not expired before the date of the most recent general election. Voters with physical or mental disabilities, handicaps or sincerely held religious beliefs who do not have sufficient identification are exempt from the requirement if they execute an affidavit stating such a sufficient reason. These individuals may cast a provisional ballot.

The act allows for issuing non-driver's licenses with photographic images to fulfill the identification requirement. The state of Missouri shall pay all the legally required fees for applicants for non-driver's licenses. Persons residing in convalescent, nursing, and boarding homes shall be issued a non-driver’s license through a mobile processing system operated by the department of revenue at no cost.

Procedures to be followed to establish a voter's eligibility to vote at a polling place are established. Provisional ballots are allowed in some circumstances. Prior to counting provisional ballots, the election authority must determine if the voter is registered and eligible to vote, and the vote was properly cast. Procedures for this determination are included in the act.

Under the act, state courts shall not have jurisdiction to extend polling hours.

Procedures for inspecting ballot cards are established.

The act makes the engaging in any act of violence, destruction of property having a value of five hundred dollars or more, or threatened act of violence with the intent of denying a person’s lawful right to participate in the election process, and knowingly providing false information about election procedures for the purpose of preventing someone from going to the polls, a class one election offense and a felony.

This act repeals provisions requiring election authorities to establish advance voting plans. This act also repeals current law allowing voters to appeal the removal of their name from voter registration records.

This act contains an emergency clause.

SB1014 Full Text

Regular reader Dwayne comments:

As far as why the requirement for a government issued ID (beyond, I assume a voter registration card) is discriminatory is because the population that you describe is much more likely than the general population not to have such a card already. You've most likely already got a driver's license. Odds are much greater that the poor, elderly, and disabled do not. So they would have to invest time and money for something of very limited value to their subsistence lives. Yes, they can get one. But if you're worrying about having enough food for the day, you're not going to "waste" any money and effort on getting a silly card.

As these arguments are fairly common for such legislation, I'll address them here, rather than in the comments.

I don't find the argument very persuasive that the poor, elderly, or disabled are especially disadvantaged or disinclined to have or get a government-issued photo ID in order to vote.

First, voting is both a privilege and a responsibility. Ensuring that voting is free of fraud and an accurate reflection of the will of the citizenry is of such paramount importance that some inconvenience toward that end on the part of the voters is acceptable.

Second, the requirement itself does not present an undue burden, since in order to vote, a person must have first made the effort to register and second made the effort to vote. Making an effort to obtain a government-issued photo ID falls in line with these activities. Presumably, if someone is able to do what is required to register to vote and to do what is required to cast a vote (namely, being able to travel to the required location), then that person is equally able to do what is required to obtain a government-issued photo ID (again, being able to travel to the required location).

Third, I believe that most/all states that have enacted similar photo-ID requirements have made provisions to allow for the impoverished to obtain an ID (in order not to violate the poll-tax laws). If the state were to charge $50 for an ID, I would agree with your argument. However, according to this Post-Dispatch article:

Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, replied that there's no intent to "suppress voter turnout." He said free photo IDs would be made available to those who need them, and he envisions teams of state workers sent out to help photograph voters who are home-bound or in nursing homes.

The bill also makes provisions for other potential forms of discrimination:

The bill also contains an exception for disabled voters, or those who object to a photo ID on religious grounds, if they sign an affidavit at the polls verifying their reason.

Two other key points from the article:

Hearne said he believes that a photo ID will "increase voter participation," because voters will face fewer questions at the polls since they could easily prove their identity.

He emphasized that Missouri will foot the bill for the free photo ID cards.

Note the unhinged rhetoric of the bill's opponents:

But Mary A. Ratliff, president of the Missouri NAACP, called the bill "just another attempt by Republicans to keep African-Americans and people of low and middle incomes off the rolls."

Photo IDs are racist? What?

A photo ID "erects another barrier to people with disabilities," said Michelle Bishop with the Missouri Disability Vote Project.

A barrier is only erected for dead people and non-people to get a photo ID.

"This bill seeks to solve a problem that doesn't exist," said state Democratic Party spokesman Jack Cardetti. "These are the same people who the Republicans threw off Medicaid. Now they're taking away their right to vote."

Ah, yes; those EEEEEEVIL Republicans! Took granny's food and medicine away, and now they're coming for her voting rights...

The Rev. Gil Ford, regional director for the NAACP, said he was amazed that Missouri legislators were seeking to make it tougher for residents to cast ballots "at the same time that they're trying to make it easier for our soldiers to vote in Iraq."

"In preacher terms," Ford said, "we call that hypocrisy."

Hypocrisy? To make it easier for US soldiers fighting abroad to defend your right to live, vote, and make asinine statements like this one? No, sir; what is hypocritical (and unconscionable) was for Al Gore to go to court to disenfranchise those same soldiers due to absentee ballot technicalities. What is hypocritical is for you to attempt to lend moral authority to your statement by appealing to "preacher terms" while speaking as nothing more than a spokesman and political hack for a racist and ideologically discriminatory organization.

Vote fraud in Missouri is well-known and rampant. See this excerpt from a floor statement made by Senator Kit Bond in 2002:

Now our friends on the other side made fun of the fact that we had dogs registered to vote in Missouri and in Maryland. Well, that sounds kind of crazy, but the system is so sloppy, the motor voter law has made it possible for people to register dogs. I will guarantee there are a lot more fraudulent votes than just the dogs.

Some have objected and said we have not shown widespread fraud in St. Louis. Oh, yes, we have. Wherever we have looked, we have found fraud. Wherever we have looked, we have found ineligible people voting, dead people voting, felons voting--in Virginia, Wisconsin, California, Colorado, North Carolina, Indiana, Florida, and Texas.

What we found that in Missouri they had judges ordering people to be registered to vote. They went before a judge, and he said: Why are you not registered? One said: I am a Democrat. Another one said: I want to vote for Gore. Another one said: I have been a felon and forgot to re-register. Thirteen hundred people were registered by judge order. The secretary of state went back and did an exhaustive search on those 1,300 and found 97 percent of them were not lawful votes.

In the mayoral primary in 2001, 3,000 postcard registrations were dumped on the election board on the last day. At that point, my colleagues in the other party in St. Louis, who were a lot more concerned about stealing a mayor's race than they were about stealing a Governor's race or President's race or a Senate race, raised cane.

When those postcard registrations were looked at, they were all found to have had the same handwriting--many of them had the same handwriting. They were on one or two blocks. Those have all been turned over to the prosecuting authorities. We have not gotten any convictions yet.

We also know that right before the general election in November of 2000, 30,000 postcard registrations were dumped on the St. Louis city election board. Nobody has gone back and reviewed them, but the guess is that at least 15,000 of them were fraudulent. Is it not a little bit beyond credibility that St. Louis, which had 200,000 registered voters, would on the last 2 days of registration register 30,000 people, equal to 15 percent?

That is one of the reasons St. Louis has almost as many registered voters as it has adults. It would be truly remarkable if each one of those registrations equaled a registration of somebody who was an adult human being entitled to vote in Missouri. I do not believe it. We have not had the resources to go back and check.

St. Louis RNC 2008?

Filed in PoliticsTags: Elections, Missouri, Republicans, Saint Louis

Saint Louis was among 31 cities invited to bid for the 2008 Republican National Convention:

Cities that received requests for convention proposals are: Anaheim, Calif.; Atlanta; Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Denver; Detroit; Houston; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Kansas City, Mo.; Memphis, Tenn.; Miami; Minneapolis; Nashville, Tenn.; New Orleans; New York; Orlando, Fla.; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Pittsburgh; Portland, Ore.; Sacramento, Calif.; San Antonio; San Diego; San Francisco; Seattle; St. Louis, Mo.; and Tampa.

I think the Gateway City would be a great place for then convention. TexasRainmaker wants it in Houston; others think that idea is full of crap.

Conservatives Love Condi

Filed in PoliticsTags: Elections, Republicans

Glenn Reynolds links to a straw poll indicating Condi Rice would kick the snot out of Republican contenders in the '08 primaries.

The best part of the post, though, is the comments section, which demonstrates just how much Democrats just don't get it. They still think that mainstream America holds the opinion that Republicans are the party of racists, sexists, and bigots in general:

Joefrommass: Just out of curiosity, why would R.W. republicans want to sink Condi? I thought she was their poster child.

Dude, no way. The Paleoright and the Christian Right have about as much time for her as they do for Arnold Schwartznegger. She's black, she's a woman, she's an intellectual, she's a social liberal, she's single, she's not detectably religious at all, etc. She's a certain kind of right-winger's worst nightmare. (Trent Lott, James Dobson, and Pat Buchanan for starters. Henry Kissinger and Brett Scowcroft probably can't stand her either, for different reasons.)

Moderates and formerly liberal neocons like her, though. If you haven't yet figured out that neocons are the left-wing of the Republican Party, not the right wing, well, I don't know what to tell ya.

...posted by the original poster, and summarily rejected and corrected by other commenters.

Nominating - and electing - Dr. Rice could very well be the final and ultimate triumph of the Republican right over the Democrat left. The two remaining bastions of support for Democrats - women and blacks - are already beginning to erode. (And black support will continue to erode as they realize that they are nothing more than the pawns of the Democrats: used for their votes, with nothing substantive coming back in return. The values of the black demographic, in general, are much more in line with the Republican party, and Condi Rice on the Rep. ticket may very well open their consideration of the Republican Party.

Again, for the record, history demonstrates that the Democrat party has always been on the wrong/losing side of every meaningful civil rights debate, especially women's suffrage and equal rights for blacks.

But lest anyone claim that a Rice candidacy would be used as only a "tool" or "trick" by the Republicans, Republicans - across the entire spectrum - adore Condi for who she is, what she believes, and what she has accomplished. We support her because we believe she is one heck of a Presidential candidate - in my opinion, the best of the field (even if she currently stands by her statement that she is not going to run).

Grassroots support has already begun: Draft Condi is attempting to do just that, and Condi Blogs is collecting an alliance of bloggers supporting Condi.

W Does St. Louis

Filed in PoliticsTags: Elections, Missouri, Republicans, Saint Louis

President George W. Bush is in St. Louis this evening, helping raise funds for Senator Jim Talent.

Talent ’06

Filed in PoliticsTags: Elections, Missouri

On the way to turning the seat into a red-lock: Talent is building a war chest and the Dems are struggling to find a worthy contender:

President Bush will headline a St. Louis dinner that is expected to raise more than $1 million for Sen. Jim Talent's re-election bid next year...

Talent, R-Mo., has already raised more than $1.3 million this year, with slightly more than that in the bank, according to campaign finance reports. Thursday's $2,000-a-plate fund-raiser would be Talent's largest single haul since the 2002 race, when he ousted incumbent Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan...

Democrats hoping to turn back the tide have struggled to find a prominent candidate to take on Talent in 2006. National Democratic leaders have spent months courting State Auditor Claire McCaskill, who narrowly lost the governor's race to Republican Matt Blunt last year, but she has been reluctant so far to enter the fray.

Talent is popular, solidly conservative, and making a good name for himself. He's easily raising money while the Democrats scrape the barrel for someone to run against him. Off to a good start...

(Hat Tip: John Combest)

Talent ’06

Filed in PoliticsTags: Elections, Missouri

Challenger #1 is wooed. According to ArchPundit:

This will be a meeting where Chuck Schumer and the DSCC try and court her and convince her they can support her bid well enough to win.

Which is exactly why I'm already on TalentWatch. One of the first things I did when moving to St. Louis in September 2002 was change my voter registration, so I could be sure to help Jim Talent beat that political hack, Jean Carnahan. My involvement in the '06 race - whether officially or, more likely, unofficially, will be considerably more than simply casting my vote. More details to come...

UPDATE: The Kansas City Star covers the same story.

Bayh: Making a Run?

Filed in PoliticsTags: Elections, Indiana

Mark at Decision '08 doesn't even have him on his RADAR yet, but could Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) be positioning himself for a White-House run?

All the signs are there: a stuffed campaign war chest, frequent mentions by the political pot-watchers. Even his dad said it: Democrat Sen. Evan Bayh is seriously considering a 2008 run for the White House.

In incumbent Democrat who runs well in a heavily Republican Red State would be an infinitely more difficult challenge than the New-England Liberal John Kerry, and Bayh, unlike boy-wonder John Edwards, actually has experience and credibility. He is the chairman of the Clinton-wing Democratic Leadership Council, a quasi-centrist wing of the Democrat Party.

Can he win? Against George W. Bush, no; against an untested Republican candidate, possibly.

Vote Fraud Theorists Battle Over Plausibility

Filed in PoliticsTags: Elections

Stones Cry Out reports on much ado about nothing in the Washington Post:

Yet there's lots of chatter in the blogosphere, but little coverage in the mainstream media, of a study that suggests the early exit polls that showed Kerry beating Bush may have been accurate after all. The study, conducted on behalf of U.S. Count Votes, a non-partisan but left-leaning non-profit organization.

Let's have a look at their conclusions, shall we?

But in some ways they seem to be playing a game, too, because the study clearly leaves the impression that the authors believe there was wholesale fraud in the 2004 presidential election.

The methodology and math of the study are far too complicated to get into in detail here. But here is a link to the entire study for your reading pleasure.

Among other things, the study reports that some of the largest discrepancies between exit polls and final vote tallies occurred inexplicably in battleground states.

I'll revisit this post after reading the report, but here are my initial thoughts:

We have a case in which a sample varied significantly from the population. On the face, we are faced with three possibilities:

  1. The sample was accurate, but a statistical outlier
  2. The sample was accurate, and the population inaccurate
  3. The sample was inaccurate, and the population was accurate

It appears that the first goal of this report is to rule out option #1. Fair enough; I'll agree whole-heartedly with ruling out option #1. However, I suspect the report spends the rest of its pages supporting option #2 over option #3. To wit:

Among other things, the study reports that some of the largest discrepancies between exit polls and final vote tallies occurred inexplicably in battleground states.

"This discrepancy between exit polls and the official election results has triggered a controversy which has yet to be resolved," according the report.

If true, this analysis again has multiple explanations. The report chooses to favor option #2 (above), and probably goes to great length trying to support that conclusion. However, what the report implies as "wholesale vote fraud" I propose is actually "wholesale exit poll fraud". Which is more plausible? Top-to-bottom coordination across state lines to throw the election to Bush through vote fraud, or misleading exit poll data?

Looking at the 2000 election, incorrectly - and prematurely - calling Florida for Gore suppressed the Bush vote in the yet-to-close Florida panhandle precincts, and in a ripple effect suppressed the Bush vote across the rest of the country. Might it be plausible to think that someone concluded that a similar tactic could be used to "throw" the election for Kerry, by reporting biased exit poll data indicating a Kerry victory, with the assumption that such flawed data would become a self-fulfilling prophecy by once again suppressing the Bush vote across the country? If I recall correctly, the 2004 exit poll data over-sampled demographics that indicated biased results in favor of Kerry. (Which, if true, would really be more Option #1, with intentional, malicious intent.)

More later...

(Temporary: original Haloscan Comments - Comments)