Saturday, August 06, 2005

Ann Coulter's Light Voting Record


Here's a story for Bob Novak:

According to Lexis-Nexis, Ann Coulter of Connecticut, 12-8-61, has not voted since 1996. The only thing better would have been to discover that she is registered with the Green Party.

Suprising isn't it? Although she has long toed the line between comedy and commentary, according to her rhetoric, one might think that she would participate in the process that would get her the leaders that she believes Americans need.

Perhaps politics is just a game to Coulter. However, it's probably the same with more moderate analysts as well, such as James Carville and Mary Matalin, who are happily married, despite living a lifestyle that consists largely of demonizing each other's opinions and ideology.


If Novak had chosen Coulter's voting status over Plame's CIA status, perhaps he'd be in trouble with FOX, but at least he'd have the government off his back and he'd still be employed by CNN.

It's amazing that Coulter is deemed important enough to speak with conservative United States senators and former mayors: Check it out at Edward Sanders Blog.

On an even less important note, Britney Spears, of Louisiana, is also a registered Republican, and also did not vote in the last election.

Section Five Sounds Good For GOP

Section Five of the Voting Rights act requires nine southern states to gain approval from the Federal Government on all changes in the voting process, including congressional redistricting.

It'd be interesting, if Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act isn't renewed, to see the results of southern congressional redistricting. Would Louisiana, which has a legislature that is over two-thirds Democratic, send a completely Democratic delegation to Congress? Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, and North Carolina are similarly Democratic.

Could there be a Democrat in Congress who is thinking along similar lines? Imagine if the sides did indeed switch? Democrats staunchly arguing the meaningless presence of Section Five, which does indeed discriminate against southern states, while Republicans argue for the long cherished civil rights provisions sought by the Voting Rights Act. If the Republicans know what's good for them, they will support Section 5, because as long as the federal government is controlled by the GOP, so will the Southern Congressional Caucus.

Partisan Fight Over Voting Rights Act

Despite what this man from CITZCOM believes, the Voting Rights Act should be an fiery issue.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the reauthorization of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, has emerged as a heated partisan issue, especially in the South, which has long felt discriminated against by the law. (Go to Democracy Cell Project for a comprehensive discription of the legislation)

Democratic Chairman Howard Dean has used the opportunitiy of reauthorization, which is anticipated in 2007, to castigate the GOP, who has not shown the same vocal support for reauthorization as the Democrats have. However, Abigail Thernstrom, vice-chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, opposes the act, citing the controversial Section Five, which requires nine states, all in the South, to get approval of all changes in the voting process by the federal government.

The "changes" of course, include congressional redistricting. As always, the philosophy that almost every politician shares emerges: "redistricting is fine, as long as you are in charge". Unfortunately for the governments of Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, and several others, they are not allowed engage in shameless redistricting techniques to create the types of radically partisan congressional delegations like the other 41 states*.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Katherine Harris Gears Up For Senate Race

Despite what Peat Blog says about Katherine Harris's "plastic face", Bob Novak (the man of the hour)says Harris's allegations that newspapers doctored her picture to make her appear "overly made-up" are reasonable, as he reportedly has had similar problems with obnoxious newspapers. An interesting story anyway, below:

Florida Republican, Katherine Harris, has officially started her campaign for the U.S senate seat presently occupied by a Freshman Democrat, Bill Nelson.

Harris is most widely known for her participation in the 2000 presidential election, when she was then the Florida Secretary of State under Governor Jeb Bush, and her efforts to halt the re-count were seen as a display of politics at its worst. However, the congresswoman has rejected the concerns of the GOP as well as the White House and has emerged as the only Republican candidate for senate in Florida.

Interestingly, Harris has alleged that much of her unpopularity comes from doctored images of her that portrayed her on television as very "heavy on the makeup". It seems absurd, but who knows, since when was it unrealistic for some lowly intern at CBS or FOX to add a little rouge to a political opponent?

The White House is rumored to be rooting for the Speaker of the Florida House, Allan Bense (R-Panama City), to emerge as a challenger to Harris. However, during the episode of "Inside Politics" that got him suspended indefinitely from CNN, Bob Novak warned the audience that Katherine Harris could very well represent another Republican to win without the support of the establishment, similar to Tom Coburn of Oklahoma or oddly enough, Ronald Reagan, the late president.

Let's see if the GOP can do better than Harris. Of course, if she wins, the race could offset the anticipated loss of Rick Santorum (R-PA), another oddball conservative. While the North would be solidifying its role as the Democratic base for the next century or so, the GOP could also take pride in kicking out the last remnants of the once Democratic South.

Here is the most original commentary I could find on Harris. Yes, I believe he's serious.

Our 2 Cents On Novak

Anyone on the blogosphere who hasn't seen the recent CNN clip with Robert Novak ought to. Although it doesn't provide the kind of shock value that the John Stewart appearence on Crossfire did, it's amusing because James Carville, the ragin cajun, seems to successfully get under Novak's skin and cause him to not only swear on live television but to earn a suspension from CNN, commonly referred to amongst conservative bloggers as the Communist News Network.

Although Carville was probably being his usual obnoxious self, which is becoming of TV hacks, what he said was very witty: "He’s got to show these right wingers that he’s got a backbone, you know. It’s why The Wall Street Journal editorial page is watching you. Show ‘em that you’re tough."

Isn't it odd that a mainstream newspaper such as the Wall Street Journal has such a partisan, hateful editorial page? If you read the editorial page day after day, you'll realize that its rhetoric is really just the gilded version of the Rush Limbaugh show. They use bigger words and they maintain the paper policy of referring to people with a prefix (Mr., Ms., Senator etc.). However, their positions are considerably more venomous than is to be expected from this blue blooded, Dow Jones establishment. Moreover, when reading the Journal Op-Ed section, it seems that in order to apply for a column, one must identify himself as a Republican, a Conservative, or a Right-Winger.

This is unbecoming for the most circulated paper in the U.S. The Journal should take a note from its cross-town competitor, the New York Times, and balance its own ideology with its obligation to show different sides of issues. Opinions are a major part of the news. However, excluding one type of opinion is denying a large part of the news to the public.

Right Wing Concerned About Roberts

If you've recently tuned into some quality right wing hackery on 770 AM, you'll probably notice the recent concerns voiced by commentators such as Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Mark Levin about John Robert's participation in a gay rights case in Colorado, during his time as a lawyer at the Hogan & Hartson law firm. (Here is whole story, via real clear politics)

Roberts, who did not personally argue the case, helped with the strategy of the gay rights advocates, who were fighting a ballot initiative that would have outlawed legislation seeking anti-discrimination measures for homosexuals in the Colorado constitution. According to sources at the law firm, Roberts helped colleagues who were arguing the case by playing the role of anticipated critics, such as Antonin Scalia, who were bound to try and trip up the gay rights lawyers during the supreme court hearings.

Sean Hannity yesterday voiced skepticism over Robert's stance on the issue, noting that "this has nothing to do with gay rights, simply the constitution". Unfortunately for Hannity, the court ruled 6-3 that a law preventing homosexuals from seeking the equal anti-discrimination laws that other groups are granted would indeed, conflict with the 14th amendment "equal protection" clause.

It would be heartening to see mainstream conservatives reject the rhetoric of right wing hacks such as Hannity and inform the public that Roberts was on the side of the constitution, not the special interests. How could it possibly be constitutional to distinguish one group of people as inelligible for government protection? This is why gay marriage, which is a legal contract recognized by the state, should be available to same sex couples, as marriage is a form of government protection, as seen by the rights given exclusively to married couples, such as exemptions from testifying against one another as well as hospital visits reserved for family.

Liberal Blogger "The Republic of T" comments on the story.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Codey Announces Stem Cell Initiative

Acting Governor Dick Cody announced $10.5 million in stem cell research, reports NJpolitics.

The funds are meant to be spent on research grants, leading scientists, and clinical trials, says Cody. Of the $10.5 million, $5 million will go to implement competitive research grants, which of course, brings up the perpetual question of the word "competition" in New Jersey. The governor assured that an ethics panel would review the grants and how they were awarded, however, conservative New Jersey will likely use the situation to find an example of favortism in government grants.

One aspect of this story reveals the power that the office of the governor has that is unique to this state. The Acting Governor is still technically the president of the senate, and hence, has the authority to introduce legislation, which is how the larger stem cell project, of over $380 million, is being brought before the legislature.

Forrester hasn't spoken against this decision yet, however, if he does, he is unlikely to denounce stem cell research, and hence align himself with the right wing of his party, but to come out against the spending that will "certainly go to the usual suspects".

Bush Changes Education Stance...No, Not Really

At Sloppy Dawg, Danny reports on President Bush's endorsement of "intelligent design", the theory that gives credit to a creator rather than an evolutionary process, in addition to evolution in science classrooms across the country. The president cites a need for a diverse and open minded curriculum.

It's not an unreasonable idea for a science department to examine the possibilities of a force greater than the ones we understand every day. However, how would the curriculum be directed? It's easy to endorse a policy that will allow children to understand the possibility of a creator's existence, but how is it to be taught? Who determines the theory which is presented as "the scientific truth"? I'd be interested to understand the specifics of Intelligent Design.

Nonetheless, the most interesting part of Sloppy's post comes in his question at the end. He asks if the president, in stating support for multi-cultural education, now endorses other forms of sex-education besides the "abstinence only" school of thought he has previously held true to.

Now that the election is over, it will be interesting to see if Bush moderates his stances on several social issues, namely this one. Although it's easy to dismiss this as a fringe issue for groups like NARAL and the Family Research Council, an effective contraception campaign could contribute greatly to reducing poverty and disease, especially in areas that are already afflicted by these problems, specifically the inner cities.

More Presidential Politics - Hillary's Dilemma

Hillary Clinton, New York's junior Senator, seems to have nothing standing between her and the Democratic nomination for President in 2008. Between April and June, she raised $6 million and now has $12 million in campaign funds on hand. Every single poll conducted by an established group - Zogby, Fox News, Marist, Gallup - since the November election has shown her atop the potential Democratic candidates. The latest Zogby poll shows her ahead of runners-up John Kerry and John Edwards (each with 14%) by 19 percentage points and a Fox survey from the middle of June yields the former First Lady a 27-point advantage.

For Hillary fans, this is all good news. But there is one potential stumbling block, and it - like the reasons she has for feeling confident about a potential Presidential run - is made evident by polling. A Quinnipiac University poll released today shows that New Yorkers overwhelmingly - by a 2-to-1 margin - would want Hillary to pledge to serve her full six-year term if she is re-elected in 2006. Now, this is understandable. As Senator, she has secured tremendous amounts of homeland security money for the state and has a 63% approval rating. But what's curious is that nearly as many New Yorkers who want Mrs. Clinton to serve out the full term also acknowledge that she is likely to run for President in 2008 and say that they'd be likely to vote for her if she were the Democratic nominee.

This is all confusing, to say the least. Do New Yorkers really, truly care whether she serves out the full term or not? Clearly they would like her to, but it seems that if she announced her Presidential candidacy after winning in 2006, they wouldn't be all that turned off to her. Republicans, who will no doubt pour cash into the Senate race next year, will likely use Hillary's presidential desires as ammunition against her, as they should. She'll be pressed hard to answer the inevitable question of whether or not she'll run for the White House and it could get uncomfortable and her response may be wishy-washy. But given the weak slate of names being tossed around as potential Hillary opponents, when it comes down to it, are New Yorkers really going to vote for a lesser candidate just because the incumbent is an ambitious politician?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Another Massachusetts Flip-Flopper

So who, exactly, is Mitt Romney? Is he the man who supports and "will protect a woman's right to choose," or the one who wrote an Op-Ed piece in The Globe and said that abortion should not be legal? Is he the man who checked 'Yes' on a Planned Parenthood survey question that asked if he supported a woman's right to take a morning-after pill, or the one who called that pill an "abortion pill" and vetoed legislation that would allow a woman to obtain such a medication without a prescription? It seems that it depends on the electorate. If Romney needs the support of the majority of voters in the state of Massachusetts, where just 14% of those registered are registered Republicans, he's the former man. When he seems to be gearing up for a national election in which he'll have to appeal to the most far-right members of his party, Romney uses the latter set of talking points. The difference between Romney One and Romney Two, by the way, is all of three years.

Blogger Will Bardwell chimed in on Romney's recent conservativization, if you will, and isn't particularly optimistic about the results the Massachusetts will ultimately experience if he chooses to run for the office of the President in 2008. Who would be? Polls show that at this point no one outside of his own state even knows who he is, which may not hurt him given the weakness of his stances. What kind of primary-voting Republican is likely to support Romney - a Massachusetts politician, let's remember - over even the stem-cell supporting Bill Frist or the slightly more moderate George Allen just because Romney vetoed a bill and wrote an Op-Ed article? These voters - and most others who lie closer to the center of the political spectrum - look for consistency, not timely pandering, on such crucial issues. Who is this guy kidding?

We Thought We'd Heard Them All

John Bolton, Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell, Richard Lugar...Zell Miller.

As of now, these are some of the people that have been endorsed as possible ambassadors to the UN. Three of the above are considered diplomatic in nature, four are registered Republicans, five have been accused of serving as lackeys for the Bush administration, and one is a certified lunatic. (For the individual's endorsement please visit Modern America)

The language is harsh, and this blog doesn't pretend to diagnose medical conditions. However, Zell Miller's performance at the Republican National Convention, where he went on a rant that gave him a stronger resemblence to a Star Wars senator than a U.S senator suggests some kind of condition that certainly disqualifies him from the post of United Nations ambassador. I understand the idea of "reform", but sending a man that the other delegates would certainly perceive as insane does not show diplomacy, it shows disrespect.

However, Brandon Brewster, the head of a staunchly Democratic, and bitterly partisan (no offense Brandon) blog, writes that if he were president, he would probably appoint Zell Miller because he's a sensible and down-to-earth individual. We thought we'd heard them all. However, this does not mean we don't look forward to Brandon's defense, and explanation, that may perhaps allow us to see the sane bit of Miller's brain that we don't usually.

A common misperception among Democrats and Republicans a like is that Miller is moderate. Many believe that many of his core beliefs are aligned with the Democratic Party but that he happens to be a maverick in an increasingly partisan senate. This is not the case. Miller went through a political transformation while he was in the senate, becoming increasingly conservative and eventually becoming only a nominal Democrat. Since 2001 he caucaused with the GOP and voted the Republican Party line. In his last year of service in the senate, he received a 96% rating from the American Conservative Union.

Coulter vs. Kos

Ann Coulter, a rabid right wing columnist, has been known to argue opinions that most Americans would be hard pressed to defend. In fact, the homepage of her website, which gives dozens of examples of federally subsidized forms of "anti-American" or "pro-terrorist" free speech, in the form of college professors, museums, or monuments, should come as little suprise to those readers familiar with her rhetoric. However, while browsing the blogosphere, I encountered the liberal response to the Coulterish rhetoric in the form of a list composed on the Daily Kos, a well known liberal blog.

The Coulter list is largely absurd. Although it's reasonable to question why the National Endowment of the Arts would fund an exhibit depicting Jesus Christ, a figure of great importance to many Americans, in a jar of urine, it's rediculous to take offense at a Smithsonian exhibit which said that "In America, sugar meant slavery". Slaves were a valuable component of the American economy before the civil war and to ignore that is to rewrite history. The exhibit at the Smithsonian was not a display of opinions, but of facts.

It's harder to comment on the Kos list because the "religious right" is not a set organization. However, I'm skeptical about Kos's comments about the Taliban's stance on stem cell research. It's hard to imagine that in a country that, until the U.S occupation, had only one internet connection, stem cell research was a major issue.

Bush Gets His Guy

The economist commented on the recent appointment of John Bolton to be ambassador of the United Nations.

The man George Bush appointed this week to represent America at the UN isn’t boring, and he certainly isn’t bewildering. What he thinks is never hard to guess, because he uses the bluntest, most vivid language available. Life in North Korea, he has said, is a “hellish nightmare”. Of the body to which he is being sent, he has said it would make no difference if its New York secretariat building lost ten storeys, and that “There is no such thing as the United Nations.”

Although Brandon Brewster is correct in citing the constitutional significance of the phrase "advice and consent", recess appointments are not unusual. In fact, every president makes scores of them and Bush has already made over 100 in his first term.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Baffling Quotes From Brownback

Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), a leading conservative in the senate responded to the issue of embryonic stem cell research curiously. In an interview, the Kansan said "This will be one of, I believe, the first time we've ever used taxpayer money to pay for the intentional destruction of human life and that's what this does."

Supposedly the next question for the senator would be "Have you ever heard of a practice called Capital Punishment?" At a blog called Nobody Could Have Predicted.., the blogger says that the U.S spends more taxes on intentional killing than anything else.

Although one could obviously argue the point that defense spending isn't "intentional killing", which this blog would, defense does not represent as large of a percentage of the budget as social security.

However, the blogger brings up a good point, whether it be intentional or not. It's suprising that more people don't object to their taxes funding technology and wars that kill thousands of people. I am not suggesting a movement, it's just that so many people identify themselves as pacifists, yet they don't object to the high taxes they pay, largely because of high defense spending.

"Most-Fit" Executive Ever?!?!?! Physical Well-Being and Politicians

The Drudge Report (not a real blog - I know, I know) gives details on the much-reported Presidential physical examination conducted late last week. As you've read, President Bush by and large passed his physical with flying colors.

Now, this is a true radio talk-show issue, and little more. Hannity and Limbaugh no doubt spent time lauding President Bush as a man who - astoundingly - is able to dedicate so much time to making the hard decisions and leading the war on terror while still qualifying as in the 99th percentile for physical fitness of men his age. A few notches down the dial, Al Franken's callers probably raged that President Bush is focusing on his fitness at the expense of tending to far more important issues and issues more relevant to his job. After all, some caller no doubt said - or should have if he wanted to get a laugh - that if we wanted a president who religiously rode the bike each morning, Lance Armstrong would be sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom.

In the end, the question to be asked is: Who really cares? Forty or fifty years ago, before C-SPAN or, more importantly, Fox News and MSNBC, physical fitness and even appearance were far lesser concerns among politicians. Now, though, with 'likability' ranking high on the list of voters' concerns, this weekend's news has most certainly had an impact on how people see President Bush - and probably not just how they see him as a private citizen. Some people - and this writer is one of them - see the development as just a little bit depressing.

A little historical perspective, if I may: one of the most tirelessly hard-working politicians in recent times, Lyndon Johnson, was known for having tremendous physical crises during his most grueling periods in the House, the Senate, and the White House. During his first successful Congressional racein 1937, Johnson campaigned for weeks through nearly unbearable abdominal pain. It turned out that his appendix was on the verge of bursting. LBJ also had a massive heart attack in 1955 as he was adjusting to the sometimes 19- or 20-hour work days that accompanied his new position as Majority Leader. During those first months on the job, he gained 35 pounds. The point? Just that a lack of physical fitness is probably more indicative of a hard worker than the opposite physical condition.

What "Liberal" and "Conservative" Means

At Right Wing News, conservative bloggers put out their least favorite conservatives. Pat Buchanan took the prize overwhelmingly. When one examines the list, it's almost comical how many crazy commentators, such as Sean Hannity and Anne Coulter made the list next to legitimate politicians, such as Arlen Specter and John McCain.

People often refer to others as liberals or conservatives. But what do they mean?

Traditionally, in a political context, a liberal is somebody who supports change and a conservative is more satisfied with the status quo. Now, although words evolve over time and we can't expect the words liberal and conservative to mean what they did during the French Revolution, when the revolutionaries sat on the left and royalists sat on the right (hence the association of liberals with the left and conservatives with the right), the terms have become far too broad, and often encompass conflicting opinions and philosophy.

For instance, many refer to Republicans who do not support ammending the Constitution to outlaw gay marriage as "liberal on the gay issue". However, when John McCain (R-AZ) voted with senate Democrats to prevent a vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment, he did not do so out of a rare streak of liberalism, but instead, out of disgust with the efforts to amend the nation's most sacred document with what he probably considered political demogoguery. Similarly, Barry Goldwater, possibly the most conservative presidential candidate in modern history supported gay marriage because he believed that the 14th Amendment gave the same protection that marriage laws grant heterosexuals to homosexuals.

Are the above men true conservatives or are they simply "mavericks", who have no distinct political philosophy?

Raffael Palmeiro

Despite what Don's Attic says, at this point, Rafael's not guilty of perjury, as Jose Conseco's claim that Palmeiro took steroids back in the day are not proven. All we know currently is that for some reason, at the twilight of his career, the future Hall of Famer decided to jeopardize everything he had acquired in terms of records, honor, and a place in Cooperstown, by taking steroids.

In March Palmeiro testified in front of a Special House Committee in response to Jose Conseco's book, which had explicitly announced Palmeiro, McGuire, and many others, as users of steroids. Palmeiro, at the hearing, looked up from his written statement, pointed at the committee members and said in dramatic fashion: "I have never used steroids..period".

Palmeiro now maintains that he has never "intentionally used steroids". He has been suspended for 10 days.

Pataki and Romney Are Feelin the Heartland

A week after Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) vowed to veto a bill passed by the Massachussets legislature that allowed women access to the morning-after pill without prescriptions, Governor George Pataki (R-NY) has promised to do the same to similar legislation passed in the New York legislature (via Tim Saler).

Both of these vetoes show a serious inclination to gain support among the Republican base, which is certainly not in New York or Massachussets. While Romney openly cited the abortion issue when he called the pill a "type of abortion", Pataki described his decision in more moderate language, saying that he did not support the bill because of the access to the pill it grants to minors.

Nevertheless, both men are going against the sentiments of their states, as well as their past opinions on the issues of contraception, and apparently, abortion. While Romney's opinion about abortion has apparently evolved, his veto is token, as the bill passed the legislature with overwhelming support that will certainly override his veto. However, the New York legislature does not provide the same types of majorities for the pill, and hence, New York women will have to get prescriptions for the it.

As intelligent as these men are, they are also delusional. No matter how many stances they change, they will never be conservative enough to win the support of the heartland base, but unlike John McCain, their states will not welcome them back with open arms. Pataki was getting crushed in the polls by Elliot Spitzer before he decided not to run again and Romney's support is flailing too, according to Hedgehog Report.

Tim Saler gives good commentary on the issue. He writes that Pataki will have to change more than a vote to get serious consideration with the GOP. However, he says, Pataki could become a VP candidate if he moderated his social positions. Perhaps..there's no harm in a New Yorker on the Republican ticket. Perhaps the party will get greedy and try and win the Empire State, to no avail. After this past election, New York won't vote Republican until Strom Thurmand's Dixiecrats return.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Alaska Congressman Brings Home the Bacon

Don Young, the representative-at-large of Alaska, is taking home over $1 billion of pet projects to the last frontier this summer, according to CNN.

The most astounding aspect of the article details the project that will take over a quarter of that funding: a bridge that goes from the town of Ketchikan, population of 8,000, to the island of Gravina, which has 50 inhabitants. Perhaps he's one of 50, and hence, he's used his position as chairman of the transportation committee wisely.

However, all humor aside, what exactly has the GOP become? It would be crude to simply point to one Republican that engages in pork barrel spending and blame the party, however, especially in an individualist state such as Alaska, Republicans are supposedly sent to Capitol Hill to combat large government, not to encourage it. If money is wasted on initiatives such as welfare, which are deemed anti-capitalistic, then what exactly is a $250 million bridge? I dare guess that if Mr. Young was asked for the reasoning behind the bridge he would tout the use of bridges as "economic development".

From our urban-biased perspective, it seems that every kind of economic development that's meant for the inner cities is dismissed by Republican leadership as a "government giveaway". Now, these projects aren't subject to the type of bigotry that they endured under Newt Gingrich, instead, the current Republican speaker, Dennis Hastert (R-Il,) recently boasted to the press of the hundreds of millions of dollars he was taking back to his Illinois district. Tom DeLay got over $1.5 billion for Sugarland.

The Louisiana Libertarian puts it succinctly: "Why worry about Democrats when the Republicans pass this garbage?"

Go to Grist Magazine for more insight on specific projects.

Stem-Cell Politics, With a Jersey Twist

The national attention has been on Bill Frist's stem-cell change of opinion. But New Jersey's rekindled debate on the issue represents a microcosm of the national fight. To begin with, who even knew that the debate was still ongoing in this state? More than a year ago, then-Governor McGreevey signed legislation establishing a state-funded stem-cell research center - the first of its kind in the country. Today, 14 months later, little visible progress has been made on the institute and the groundbreaking ceremony at Rutgers University scheduled for tomorrow has been postponed indefinitely, and it isn't because of the weather forecast.

The State Assembly didn't appropriate the $150 million needed to build the center and get it going after the Senate passed the legislation by a vote of 21-14. There are questions of excess. Even Assembly Democrats who favor the center are opposed to the cost of construction and would that the $150 million goes towards actual research, and not the facility that will house the research. Neil Cohen, a Union County Assemblyman, helped create a research foundation with UMDNJ and NJIT that has already begun to raise money. "We can start tomorrow at N.J.I.T.," Mr. Cohen was quoted as saying in today's New York Times. "Harvard is putting all their money into getting researchers, not into stained glass windows, carpets, oriental rugs and chandeliers." Still, one gets the sense that, given the nature of the fight and the issue that it's over, construction costs aren't really what's holding this up.

There's fear among Democrats here that Republicans could make this a referrendum item, putting it on the ballot as Republicans in 11 states did last November with the same-sex marriage issue, and bringing out the right-wing voters en masse. Stem-cell research, an apolitical issue, is essentially being used as a political football. Deep Thought makes a great observation about the recent history of government-supported science, saying "when we think of the biggest scientific breakthroughs of the past century-- the splitting of the atom, landing a man on the moon, the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA, all of these were accomplished with the support of government, not of private industry."

Who has some insight on when Republicans in government - and it is mainly Republicans - will leave religious philosophy and "morality" behind and come onto the side of science and, not to mention, public opinion? Since when is life-preserving and live-saving research not a part of the "culture of life"?

"The Anti-Anti-American" Bandwagon

According to Slant Point, a right wing, New York blog, the California Department of Justice is doing the public a disservice by funding anti-war artwork.

Now, funding for art and culture is always a controversial issue. It's tough to draw the line on funding for art the same way it's difficult to decide spending on any legislation. However, it seems that if the California people elect politicians to represent them and spend their money, the artwork is, theoretically, representative of their opinions.

It would be interesting to see if the blogger at Slant Point is in favor of subsidized "pro-war" art work. Does the Vietnam Memorial, which reflects the tragedy of war, fall into the category of an anti-american liberal boondoggle? Although many would respond to this question by declaring the Vietnam Memorial a symbol of respect, not tragedy, many of the offending artists that Slant Point writes of might have similar messages in their art.

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