Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Does Redistricting Threaten Democracy?

Is it possible that the greatest threat to democracy in our country is our redistricting processes? Juliet Eilperin has a good article on which explores ways to fix the system. One of the great quotes from the piece:
'As a mapmaker, I can have more of an impact on an election than a campaign, than a candidate,' says Republican consultant David Winston, who drew House seats for the GOP after the 1990 U.S. Census. 'When I, as a mapmaker, have more of an impact on an election than the voters, the system in out of whack.'
One can hope that there will be some courageous politicians that will put principle ahead of pure partisan gain before the redistricting cycle starts again.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Medicaid changes do harm

Ruth Ehresman gets it right with her op-ed piece in the Kansas City Star "Medicaid changes do harm."

Wait, We Need More Room on the Bumper Sticker!

Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons in a recent GOP E-mail outlines the main goals for the Missouri Senate regarding healthcare.
The first is that everyone should have available, affordable healthcare through a market-driven approach focused on the patient'’s right to know about the quality and cost of their care with individual responsibility.
Wow, I can't imagine a message that will sell better to the voters. Could they add more buzz-words? Is there any way to judge what will be a success? Perhaps everyone should have available, affordable healthcare--but do they? Hardly.

Back in January of 2005, then Governor-elect Matt Blunt said, after this first year in office "Missourians should notice a difference in their lives."” reports an AP Story published in the Jefferson City News-Tribune. Blunt is quoted as saying:

I think they'll notice an entrepreneurial climate that has improved, that makes it easier for people to get good family-supporting jobs in their state with health care benefits attached to them.

As we approach the end of the second legislative session under a Republican General Assembly with a Republican govenor, can we start to judge them on their efforts? The governor thinks it is enough time. What will the people of Missouri think?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

What is a Family? Let them tell you . . .

Is it hard to define what a family consists of in the 21st century? Apparently not according to officials in Black Jack, Missouri. The St. Louis suburb is giving notice to an unmarried couple with three children they can't live in their community because they don't meet the definition of what a family is, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: The mother, Olivia Shelltrack says:
I refuse to run down to the courthouse and get married just so I can live in my own home,' she said. 'I love my house. I love the area. I love the schools. We wouldn't have bought the house if we didn't think it was what we wanted.
It was silly of Ms. Shelltrack not to realize that she needed to get the rest of the city's blessing before she decided how to live her life!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Long-Distance Journey of a Fast-Food Order - New York Times

Some McDonalds restaurants are trying out the idea of out-sourced call centers for their drive-through service, according to the New York Times. It is a strange concept, made possible by cheap communication technology. Right now, all the drive-through call centers are in the US, but why not place them in India eventually? Order local. Think global.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Massachusetts Plan for Universal Health Care Coverage

A reflection on the bill mandating individuals purchase universal health insurance in Massachusetts is nicely done by Andrew Sullivan. He praises Republican Gov. Mitt Romney for having the courage to back the plan. Sullivan asserts the plan will:
empowers individuals to take control of their own health insurance, rather than putting all the emphasis on employers.
I think it is a fascinating experiment. The plan provides help for low-income residents to purchase insurance. I'm not convinced that the market will drive down costs if everyone is covered, however the plan will lead to universal coverage. Some interesting coalitions between right and left have formed during the crafting of this bill. I hope this might be a good model for the rest of the nation (or least some significant learnings).

Who is the Religous Left?

Over at Slate, Steven Waldman gives a basic primer on The Religious Left (hat tip to Andrew Sullivan). It is a nice article for those wanting to understand religous progressives. I don't agree with him that you can put the National Council of Churches, in the category of "Pious peaceniks;" the Council is a very diverse organization made up of many religous denominations, however, on balance it is a worth a read.

Will the Real Todd Elkins stand up?

According to the Corvallis Gazette-Times a number of people are helping to restore family photos damaged in Katrina "including Todd Elkins and Betty Coulman." Yes, I do have an extensive volunteer life, but this isn't one my projects. It is also strange to see your name in print, but it isn't you.
Of course the top-ranked "Todd Elkins" according to is the owner of, a realtor in Dallas, who targets the gay and lesbian market. I think the Todd of Dallas bears a slight resemblance to me and wonder if any of my former classmates have wondered if that is me. I would find that idea to be highly offensive, I mean I would never go into real estate ;-).

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Speakeasy - Speed Test

Speakeasy - Speed Test is one of the coolest sites I've seen in a long time. A very elegant solution to test the speed your broadband connections (For me, Download Speed: 9607 kbps and Upload Speed: 352 kbps using Comcast Cable Modem in Independence, Missouri).