Dirty Little Secret - Universal Healthcare? Social Security?

US Comptroller on 60 Minutes: America is facing total collapse

Leveling the playing field

"The Missouri Supreme Court on Monday ordered candidates to refund any oversized campaign contributions they accepted this year unless they could show such refunds would create a serious hardship.

The court ordered the Missouri Ethics Commission to give any candidate a hearing to show why refunding the money would be overly burdensome.

Such hardship, the court wrote, would depend on the amount of contributions that exceeded the limits in effect before Jan. 1, 2007, and the extent to which those contributions already had been spent.

“Depending on the amount of money involved, it could become prohibitively difficult and expensive to require candidates to refund this money,” the decision said. “It might also be futile, as donors could skirt the limitations on direct contributions” by giving the money indirectly through political party fundraising committees.

However, to allow candidates to keep thousands of dollars in huge contributions, the court said, would be unfair to candidates who have yet to raise money or even declare their candidacy.

“In balancing these variables in an election such as this, one must endeavor to avoid doing so in a way that creates a political advantage for one candidate over another,” the court said.

However, no refunds will be required of candidates whose elections already have been held, such as municipal races and other local contests held in the spring. To require refunds of money already spent would constitute a “manifest injustice,” the court said.

The unsigned decision was a follow-up to the court’s July 19 ruling that reinstated contribution limits that the legislature adopted in 1994. The legislature repealed the limits in 2006, but the court ruled unanimously that the legislative procedure was invalid.

Under the limits, statewide candidates could accept a maximum contribution of $1,275. Candidates for state Senate were limited to $650 and candidates for the House maxed out at $325.

With the limits gone, some candidates for state Senate received contributions as large as $40,000. Gov. Matt Blunt accepted $300,000 from a wealthy Texas couple. Attorney General Jay Nixon, who plans to challenge Blunt next year, received $100,000 from a single labor union.

Paul Sloca, spokesman for the Missouri Republican Party, stopped short of saying the decision was a loss for the GOP.

“We believe that candidates and contributors should not be punished for obeying the law, and we sincerely hope that the Missouri Ethics Commission will take the people, and not politics, into consideration when deciding the fairest way to apply the law the people’s representatives enacted,” Sloca said.

Democrats rejoiced at the ruling.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for those Missourians who believe elections should be fought on a level playing field,” party spokesman Jack Cardetti said. “It will be hard for Matt Blunt to argue that returning $350,000 from the Swift Boat benefactors creates a hardship.”

Nixon’s office said the decision “clears the way for the ethics commission to order refunds of contributions in excess of limits.”

Bob Connor, the Ethics Commission’s executive director, said the agency’s attorneys would present their recommendations and analysis to the full commission on Thursday. The commission might adopt policies to comply with the court ruling, Connor said.

But Connor said the ruling appears to require the agency to conduct a case-by-case review of every candidate for office. The agency will have to weigh each hardship that is claimed on all the other candidates in a race, he said.

“If X says, ‘I have a hardship for these reasons,’ ” the commission will have to consider it, Connor said. The commission will then determine how that affects every person in the same race.

After the decision to reinstate the limits, the Supreme Court invited legal arguments on whether contributions in excess of the limits should be refunded or whether the limitation should be enforced only after the July 19 ruling.

Monday’s ruling clearly fragmented the court. Four judges agreed with the decision, but two others dissented, saying the proposed remedy was unworkable."

The Star’s Jefferson City correspondents


Inch by Inch - Part 1

I am begining a short story, that will continue until completion on a daily basis. It will not be the cleanest, most grammatical piece of work you've ever seen, but hopefully it will construe my feelings in a meaningful way to my readers. So please, follow along to learn my feelings about politics of the past and future of America.

Growing up in the US can be the greatest or worst experience, depending on which side of the street you live on, who your parents are, or what you decide or don't decide to do for yourself.

Take a second and regress, you're a child again. Remember getting in trouble every other day in the summer? Then, one time, you didn't do something wrong, but you were smacked across the head for it? No matter how much you try and convince your parents to listen, they won't. They've heard it all before, and damn well know you are wrong. Trying to convince them otherwise is futile. Well, this story is kind of like that. You cannot expect the blind to miraculously see again. Well, it is possible I suppose – so I will try.

People are so engrossed in the moment, they can't listen to you. Like the friend of the friend that says all he wants is his golf and his wife and his daughter, as long as you don't take that nothing else matters. Yeah, OK pal. Your average American today is concerned with the now. What will hurt them, what will put shelter over their heads, what will put food on their plates? There is little time for common sense or watch what is going on in government, hell we have politicians for that. Well, what if those politicians were just as dumb as the average American.

However, my aim is not to alienate my reader, it's not to name call, rather seek an objective mind. I wish not push political ideologies on my friends, rather critical thinking. Maybe Alexander Hamilton said it better in his Federalist Papers.

"It is not, however, my design to dwell upon observations of this nature. I am well aware that it would be disingenuous to resolve indiscriminately the opposition of any set of men (merely because their situations might subject them to suspicion) into interested or ambitious views. Candor will oblige us to admit that even such men may be actuated by upright intentions; and it cannot be doubted that much of the opposition which has made its appearance, or may hereafter make its appearance, will spring from sources, blameless at least, if not respectable--the honest errors of minds led astray by preconceived jealousies and fears. So numerous indeed and so powerful are the causes which serve to give a false bias to the judgment, that we, upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the wrong as well as on the right side of questions of the first magnitude to society. This circumstance, if duly attended to, would furnish a lesson of moderation to those who are ever so much persuaded of their being in the right in any controversy. And a further reason for caution, in this respect, might be drawn from the reflection that we are not always sure that those who advocate the truth are influenced by purer principles than their antagonists. Ambition, avarice, personal animosity, party opposition, and many other motives not more laudable than these, are apt to operate as well upon those who support as those who oppose the right side of a question. Were there not even these inducements to moderation, nothing could be more ill-judged than that intolerant spirit which has, at all times, characterized political parties. For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution."

What defines a country's prosperity? Just because I have more money than my neighbor, does that make me better or happier? I think not. Happiness is derived from freedom, individual rights, liberty and justice. Are we free from our government's tyranny? Are we truly free?

The US was built upon and became extremely prosperous on some very wise men's experience and visions, that of our Founding Fathers. They agreed upon several fundamental rights to ensure their kids would grow up without the tyranny of a corrupt government, like one they had just escaped. They agreed upon the Constitution and several amendments known as the Bill of Rights of the United States. They carefully chose those things most fundamental to individual rights and means to protect those rights from the government taking them away. These things were created to ensure "Life, Liberty, and Justice for all."

The Constitution details the separation of power between the three newly created governing bodies. It speaks of states rights and the process to amend and ratify the constitution. Whereas, the amendments or the Bill of Rights articulates the protection "We the people" have from the government.

We have strayed so far from the original intentions of our Founding fathers, we are creating our own failure. However, we are so blind, we don't even know it is happening.