Monday, November 29, 2004

Medical Marijuana or State's Rights?

From Jurist Paper Chase - Monday, November 29, 3:15:

The US Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in Ashcroft v. Raich (case summary from Duke Law School), a California case involving the use of marijuana as a legitimate medical treatment. The court is considering whether sick people in the eleven states which recognize medical marijuana can get around general federal laws which ban the drug. The Bush administration is arguing Congress has not found any acceptable medical use for marijuana and that by allowing such treatment, the government will be unable to eradicate drug trafficking and its related social harms. Paul Clement, the Bush administration's top court lawyer, argued before the court today that medical use of marijuana is potentially subjecting many people to health dangers. Raich's attorney countered by saying his clients are law-abiding citizens who need marijuana to survive. Justice Stephen Breyer said supporters of medical marijuana should take their fight to federal drug regulators before coming to the Supreme Court while other justices repeatedly referred to America's drug addiction problems. The case is an appeal from a decision [PDF] by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit which ruled against the government and found federal prosecution of medical marijuana users to be unconstitutional if the marijuana is not sold, transported across state lines or used for non-medicinal purposes. The Supreme Court ruled three years ago that the government could prosecute distributors of medical marijuana. The case is Ashcroft v. Raich, 03-1454. The Raich plaintiffs legal team has created an extensive website about the case and the isues it raises. AP has more.

This case is very interesting due to the federalism problem it presents the court. In a very broad overview - generally you would expect more liberal justices to sway in favor of medical marijuana and more conservative justices to sway against. This case, however, provides a twist: in general more conservative justices stand up for state's rights - which would allow the states to make the determination of medical marijuana use at a local level. More liberal justices would support the federal government's right under the Commerce clause to ban drugs as a national problem. So there is a real juxtaposition. Chief Justice Rehnquist is a federalism specialist - and his court has been specifically known for its willingness to address federalism issues. Rehnquist is still not present on the bench - but is still participating in decisions using transcripts, etc. This case is such an interesting question - even three very conservative states which do not allow legalized medical marijuana - Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana - filed friend of the court brief in support of the defendents in these cases saying that while they do not agree with legalized drug use - they feel it is a question to be decided on a state level - not at a federal level.

Based on the reports of the oral arguments, it sounds as if the court is going to be unwilling to let this loophole in the criminalization of drugs. But is should be a great opinion to read this summer.

More from
Supreme Court weighs Marijuana as Medicine

Medical marijuana case tests Congress' power

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Clinton Presidential Center

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays!!!

I haven't been able to post as much of late. I've been spending most of my waking free time writing a paper or prepping for my final coming up. In addition, the holiday time has been very hectic for the family, so I haven't had the time to sit down and crank anything out.

We spent the Thanksgiving holiday in Arkansas with family. Since we were reasonably close, Shana and I decided to take Wednesday morning, November 24, 2004 to drive over to Little Rock and visit the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park. The Clinton Presidential library was dedicated on Thursday, Nov. 18 - and I had been reading quite a bit about it in the lead up so we were excited at the opportunity to visit. This was the first Presidential Library complex that either of us had visited.

To start with, it is much smaller than what I expected. Now, the location is beautiful, just on the bank of the Arkansas river, bordering on Little Rock's downtown. Several of the architectural reviews of the building I had read had described it as either a "metaphor for a Bridge to the 21st Century" or a "trailer park home". Personally, we felt it looked much like a railroad car - boxy and rectangular, and much smaller than expected. When you get into the building, however, you are struck by how much room there really is - either the outside is very deceptive, or the interior's design makes an excellent use of the space, there is more to see than would be expected.

After you arrive, clear security and pay your fee, the initial display on the ground floor deals with the Secret Service and the Presidential Limosuine. From there you proceed up a flight of steps to the second level. There you find a display related to the 1992 election - the Comeback Kid, Perot, etc. Looking back, it's almost hard to remember, but Clinton's election that year was an absolute stunner...kind of a shock the world type of moment. As popular as he was to become, and as much as he was to accomplish in office, it's strange to think this was a guy who came - almost - out of no where to win the nomination, then unseat a relatively popular sitting President. An election for the history books truly.

There is a video presentation of the 'Clinton Story' - telling an overview from birth to declaring his candidacy on Oct. 1, 1991 to the White House to the present. It's pretty neat, and has several goosebump-type moments (it got a little dusty in there, if you know what I mean), but much of the info was in My Life, if you've had a chance to read that.

From the video, you move over to the first display - a recreation of the Cabinet Room. This was actually one of the most interesting parts of the entire Center. In fact, on the drive home, Shana and I both agreed that the Cabinet room was the "best" or our favorite part of the Center. The room is recreated in detail, and inset into the Cabinet table were interactive touch-activated computers that enabled you to sit in the same chairs that Clinton or his officials sat in and read detailed histories of the Administration and very interesting timelines of three of the more interesting and challenging decisions that were made by the Admin - Welfare Reform, Kosovo and the Budget Crisis. A really informative and interesting set up. The Cabinet Room was added to the White House by Teddy Roosevelt and in Clinton's term included portraits of TR, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.

Outside the Cabinet Room, there is an enormous video wall dedicated to the 1992 Inaguration - one great quote from that speech:

There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed by what is right with America.

Bill Clinton - Jan. 21, 1993 - 1st Presidential Inaguration Speech

Next there is a small wall dedicated to the State of the Nation under Clinton - statistics related to Employment, Crime, Education, AIDS, Police, Technology and Health Care are listed and visually displayed.

The rest of the second level is a long room - the outside walls are dedicated to kiosks related to specific issues important within Clinton's two terms in office:
The Economy
Making Communities Safer (Crime)
Protecting the Earth (Environment)
First Lady
Global Community (World Leaders, etc.)
Making Peace (Mideast, Ireland, etc.)
Prosperity Abroad (America's ecomomic involvement overseas)
Preparing for New Threats (WTC1 and terrorism)
Fight for Power (Impeachment)
Science & Technology
One America (Race Relations)
Learning for a Lifetime (Education)
Putting People First (Health Care and Welfare Reform)

In the center of this narrow room is a series of eight small walls with displays on each side - one side was a rundown of world, domestic and economic event during each of Clinton's eight years in office. Included in this was the President's daily schedule for every day in office - pretty cool. The other side was dedicated to various things - the State of the Union address, with 'in-progress' drafts with notes to the final speeches; and Letters to and from the President and First lady from the likes of Fred Rogers, Mother Teresa, the Dali Lama, Paul Newman, etc. Some were funny, some really touching. It was a really nice display.

Next, up another flight of stairs to the third level. This level is open in the center - so you can look down upon the 2d level (similar to a mall), with displays only on the outside walls. Along one wall you see displays dedicated to State Events at the White House, State Gifts given to Clinton during his time in office, Making the White House home for the Clinton's, Holidays at the White House, public gifts to the Clinton's, etc. The other side contains personal memorabelia of Bill, Hillary and Chealsea from birth to present, including Chealsea's birth announcement, items from Clinton's failed bid for Congress, Democratic Nat'l Convention speeches in 1980, 1984 and 1988, among other things.

Finally, on the third level is the exact replication of the Oval Office. Unfortunately, you can't walk through, but they have windows in, and you can step into the doorway. It is interesting to see what the office looks like in 'real-life' and how connected and dedicated to history Clinton had it - almost everything in the office had some historical connection.

It was a really intersting couple of hours - definately worth the trip and the $7 entry fee. If you are interested in history, specifically Presidential history, it's an absolute bargain.

I was and am a big fan of Bill Clinton. In my mind, he is the embodiment of the American Story. A poor boy, single mom, raised in large part by family from a tiny town in one of the smallest, ruralest states in the nation - becomes the President - the Leader of the Free World, not through connections or family name or money. But through hard work, committment to a cause, and a dedication to public service. I am not ashamed to list Bill Clinton as a hero. Sure, the man has many flaws - and Shana and I discussed how revered and honored this great President really would have been if he only could have controlled himself. He embarrased himself, his family and in some ways, his supporters. And his Presidency will be forever somewhat tainted because of that - there is no question. But all that given, Bill Clinton had a dream of one day making America a better place for the next generation - and he made that dream into reality. Flaws or no flaws. That's pretty incredible, and it is something that I admire more than I can put into words.

There were certain words or phrases that stood out in our tour of the Clinton Center, either because they were used over and over, or because each display tended to whisper or shout them:
Optimism, Prayer, Change, Peace, Respect, and finally and most of all -
A More Perfect Union

That is a great legacy, if you ask me.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Ball. Game.

I rock my son almost every evening. He's almost two now, right at 21 months, so I know that this time is quickly coming to an end, but I love it - without a doubt my favorite time of the day. We've got a routine.

Either Shana or I will give him a bath, change his diaper and put his PJs on. But then, I get to rock him and put him in bed. He and I go through the same routine pretty much every night:

We read two regular books together in the rocking chair. They can be anything, tonight it was Grover Dresses Himself and Hungry Little Caterpillar.

Then we read our three night-night books - first New Baby's Prayers, then Sweet Dreams, and finally Pat the Bunny Sleepy Bunny. Then we put our hands together and say a prayer, and turn the lamp out.

Then while he snuggles against my chest, I rock him and sing four songs. (Yes, it's the same three books and four songs in the same order each night. I'm compulsive like that...) I sing Jesus Loves Me, Take Me Out to the Ballgame, Jesus Loves the Little Children, and the Star Spangled Banner while we rock together. Yes, I know - those are odd choices for night-night songs. I'm not exactly sure how it happened - the church songs, okay that makes sense and I know I added Take Me Out to the Ballgame in the middle of the baseball season. I remember thinking about wanting to make sure that as Noah grows up I instill in him the right kind (my kind) of patriotism - and I guess that's how the national anthem got thrown in. But somehow this is what has evolved, and it's been this same routine for about six months now.

Suddenly, over the past three or four days, Take Me Out to the Ballgame has become Noah's favorite. It's become a request. I always sing it twice, once with - root, root, root for the home team; once with - root, root, root for the Astros. Between the verses he's taken to saying, "ball game, ball game, ball game" to let me know he wants me to sing it again. Of course, his daddy is stubborn, so after I finish the second time, I move on to Jesus Loves the Little Children. Noah just been continuing to say, "ball game, ball game, ball game" for a while, then gives up when he realizes I'm not going to start singing it again. But tonight, he was a little more adamant. After insisting for a bit while I continued on with the next song. Well, he finally couldn't take it any more. He sat up, looked me dead in the eyes and said firmly, "BALL. ... GAME." I couldn't help but laugh.

And I couldn't help but think - That's my boy!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

MLS Playoff Update III

2004 MLS Cup Champions - DC United

United defeated the Kansas City Wizards 3:2 to win their fourth MLS Cup in club history. DC was led by Cup MVP Alecko Eskandarian who scored two goals in a 5 minute period of the first half.

KC opened the scoring with Jose Burciaga Jr. scoring from distance in the 6th minute of the match. But then Eskandarian put DC on his back, scoring in the 19th and 23rd - that was followed by a KC own goal in the 26th to give United 3 goals in 7 minutes and a 3:1 lead. The Wizards' Josh Wolff got one back, scoring on a penalty kick in the 58th minute, following a handball in the box, and red-card ejection to United midfielder Dema Kovalenko. KC was hoping to level with the man advantage, but DC was able to make the one goal lead stand up the final 30 minutes of the match.

Great season for DC - rookie coach, 14 year old #1 draft pick, and the MLS Cup.

Now MLS immediately begins preperation for the 2005 season - it's 10th Anniversary. 2005 will see "re-branding" of one team (FC Dallas) and the addition of two expansion clubs - CD Chivas USA (Los Angeles) and ReAL Salt Lake. Friday, November 19th at 3:00 is the MLS Expansion Draft (live on ESPNews) where the new clubs will be able to draft 'unprotected players' from the current ten teams' rosters.

MLS also announced this weekend that the 2005 MLS Cup would be played in Frisco, Tx at the brand new home of FC Dallas (the former Dallas Burn). As an FC Dallas season ticket holder - I will see what I can do to get tickets for anyone interested.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Symptoms and Disease

I’ve written this phrase twice in the last few weeks – symptoms and disease - discussing some political topics with friends and acquaintances.

As I have been thinking about this more throughout the past few days, I think that this is a pretty basic difference between a conservative political view and a progressive political view. (I’m going to be generalizing. I realize that not every conservative or progressive would fall within the box I’m going to draw, but I think it’s fair to say that “most” would.)

It seems to me, the general conservative philosophy is that issues such as abortion, gun crime, homosexual marriage, terrorism, education, etc. are the actual problems with society and can be fixed directly. To me, the progressive philosophy (at least, my philosophy) is that these issues are merely by-products of the real problems within our society/culture. I think that the conservative agenda is full of “quick-win” “short-term” thinking – that does absolutely nothing to actually address the real problems. For example, the conservative viewpoint – “let’s overturn Roe v. Wade and ban all abortions”. I have a real problem with that philosophy. Why? Is it because I support abortions and wish there were more? Of course not. It’s because if that is your answer, you’re still left with women who go get abortions in illegal ways. You have refused to address the real issues, which create the demand for abortion. Conservatives don’t want to address those issues, because they are difficult, they are long-term, and they are expensive. What are those “real” issues? Unemployment, lack of a living wage, lack of affordable health care, the devaluation of life (especially the life of the poor and minority) in our country, lack of community, lack of support networks for single mothers, the inability to provide for a family on one salary, so a father works two jobs and therefore isn’t home to provide direction for his kids, the lack of supportive educational systems, urban planning, etc., etc., etc. On and on goes the cycle. To me – those are the problems that need to be addressed to really reduce abortion in our nation. Will it be hard to do? Yep. Will it take longer than “overturn Roe v. Wade”? Yep. Will it cost more? Yep. But – and this is key – will it go to the heart of the problem? Yep. That is what needs to be done.

I feel that the other issues are approached in similar ways from a conservative perspective. If you oppose gay marriage, the easy out is to push for a Constitutional Amendment – then you don’t have to address more difficult questions of community and civil rights. If you advocate gun ownership, the easy out is to push for less regulation and more education and training instead of addressing the issue of prevalent violence in our culture – especially the poor inner-city areas, and the devaluation of poor and minority lives through an inequitable capital punishment system. To fight terrorists, the easy answer is to send a corps of marines into Fallujah – but then you create five new terrorist volunteers to replace each one that you killed in the battle. Instead the harder, longer road is to address the issues which are developing kids into terrorists – devaluation of life, enforcement of a western culture upon an eastern culture that resists those changes, the rape of the lands and resources of poor and non-white cultures. To improve education, it’s much easier to pin funding on districts teaching to tests than to actually address the difficult issues of malnutrition, single parent homes, latch-key kids, urban planning, white-flight, a culture where education means little to an inner-city kid because what hope does he have to use that education.

Personally, a short-term victory means little to nothing to me if I’m treating, or more likely hiding, a symptom and ignoring the disease. I'd prefer to reduce and/or completely end abortions in the United States. But overturning Roe v. Wade doesn’t end it. It is so much more important to end the vicious cycles that actually push women to decide on abortion. Until you’ve done that, you’ve done nothing.

The conservatives in this country can sit back and pop the top of a bottle of expensive champagne (which they can afford with all those “blessed” tax cuts) if Bush can push through a few justices conservative enough to overturn Roe v. Wade. And then they can rest back on their laurels and think about what a more “moral” America they live in, while all the poor girls - whose boyfriends refused to marry them because he doesn’t have a job and can’t support a family; who can’t afford pre-natal care because their $5.25 an hour job doesn’t provide health care; because they’ve lived with the reality of a teen-age mom, no-dad, having dropped out of school because they had to work to help pay for rent; who have no female role models or mentors; have no way to provide for child-care because they still have to work that minimum wage job to get by; who has seen their friends turn to prostitution; who see and live this stuff every day, every day of their lives – they are going to go find a way to have an abortion anyway.

But at least the “moral conservatives” get to celebrate their “victory”. But it’s a hollow, cold victory. It’s no victory at all, if you ask me.

The Wit and Wisdom of TR

I have come to really admire a lot about Teddy Roosevelt. I'm sure that there are a hundred things which I wouldn't agree with him, but I'd consider him much of what I'm looking for in a leader of our nation. A true Progressive. I was recently looking at some quotes by TR, and I thought I'd share some here (my favorites in bold):

To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.
– Theodore Roosevelt

To waste, to destroy, our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.
– Theodore Roosevelt, Seventh Annual Message to U.S. Congress (December 3, 1907)

Unrestrained greed means the ruin of the great woods and the drying up of the sources of the rivers.
– Theodore Roosevelt, on clear-cutting of forests, while governor of New York, quoted in his biography Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris (2001)

We demand that big business give the people a square deal; in return we must insist that when anyone engaged in big business honestly endeavors to do right he shall himself be given a square deal.
– Theodore Roosevelt

Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, "Certainly, I can!" Then get busy and find out how to do it.
– Theodore Roosevelt

Those who oppose all reform will do well to remember that ruin in its worst form is inevitable if our national life brings us nothing better than swollen fortunes for the few and the triumph in both politics and business of a sordid and selfish materialism.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

The true friend of property, the true conservative, is he who insists that property shall be the servant and not the master of the commonwealth; who insists that the creature of man's making shall be the servant and not the master of the man who made it. The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have themselves called into being.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

The one thing I want to leave my children is an honorable name.
– Theodore Roosevelt

The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.
– Theodore Roosevelt

The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value.
– Theodore Roosevelt

The old parties are husks, with no real soul within either, divided on artificial lines, boss-ridden and privilege-controlled, each a jumble of incongruous elements, and neither daring to speak out wisely and fearlessly on what should be said on the vital issues of the day.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at the Progressive Party Convention, Chicago, Illinois (August 6, 1912)

The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.
– Theodore Roosevelt

The men of wealth who today are trying to prevent the regulation and control of their business in the interest of the public by the proper government authorities will not succeed, in my judgment, in checking the progress of the movement. But if they did succeed they would find that they had sown the wind and would surely reap the whirlwind, for they would ultimately provoke the violent excesses which accompany a reform coming by convulsion instead of by steady and natural growth.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech, "The Man With The Muck Rake" (April 15, 1906)

The first requisite of a good citizen in this republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his weight.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at New York City (November 11, 1902)

The government is us; we are the government, you and I.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Asheville, North Carolina (September 9, 1902)

The absence of effective State, and, especially, national, restraint upon unfair money-getting has tended to create a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power. The prime need is to change the conditions which enable these men to accumulate power which is not for the general welfare that they should hold or exercise. We grudge no man a fortune which represents his own power and sagacity, when exercised with entire regard to the welfare of his fellows.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

Probably the greatest harm done by vast wealth is the harm that we of moderate means do ourselves when we let the vices of envy and hatred enter deep into our own natures.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Providence, Rhode Island (August 23, 1902)

One of the fundamental necessities in a representative government such as ours is to make certain that the men to whom the people delegate their power shall serve the people by whom they are elected, and not the special interests. I believe that every national officer, elected or appointed, should be forbidden to perform any service or receive any compensation, directly or indirectly, from interstate corporations; and a similar provision could not fail to be useful within the States.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor.
– Theodore Roosevelt (December 7, 1903)

No man can be a good citizen unless he has a wage more than sufficient to cover the bare cost of living, and hours of labor short enough so that after his day's work is done he will have time and energy to bear his share in the management of the community, to help in carrying the general load. We keep countless men from being good citizens by the conditions of life with which we surround them. We need comprehensive workmen's compensation acts, both State and national laws to regulate child labor and work for women, and, especially, we need in our common schools not merely education in booklearning, but also practical training for daily life and work. We need to enforce better sanitary conditions for our workers and to extend the use of safety appliances for our workers in industry and commerce, both within and between the States.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

It is essential that there should be organization of labor. This is an era of organization. Capital organizes and therefore labor must organize.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Milwaukee, Wisconsin (October 14, 1912)

It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed. In this life we get nothing save by effort.
– Theodore Roosevelt

It is better to be faithful than famous.
– Theodore Roosevelt

In name we had the Declaration of Independence in 1776; but we gave the lie by our acts to the words of the Declaration of Independence until 1865; and words count for nothing except in so far as they represent acts.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.
– Theodore Roosevelt

I am only an average man but, by George, I work harder at it than the average man.
– Theodore Roosevelt

I believe that the officers, and, especially, the directors, of corporations should be held personally responsible when any corporation breaks the law.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do. That is character!
– Theodore Roosevelt

I have always been fond of the West African proverb: "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far."
– Theodore Roosevelt

Every reform movement has a lunatic fringe.
– Theodore Roosevelt (1913)

Don't hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit soft.
– Theodore Roosevelt

A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Springfield, Illinois (July 4, 1903)

A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues.
– Theodore Roosevelt

Americanism is a question of principle, of purpose, of idealism, or character; it is not a matter of birthplace or creed or line of descent.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Washington, DC (1909)

Monday, November 08, 2004

MLS Playoff Update II

Well, MLS Cup 2004 is set, and will see the Kansas City Revolution v. DC United. KC is seeking its first MLS Cup since 2000 when they surprised the league with a dominating defensive performance leading them to the only MLS Cup in club history. DC is seeking their first Cup since 1999, after the United dynasty opened MLS with three titles in the first four years of the league.

The Wizards defeated the LA Galaxy 2-0 at home in Arrowhead Stadium, Friday night. Houston native Davy Arnaud scored the brace which was enough to put KC over the top on the evening. More of the typical suffocating defense from the Wizard back-line make the two goals stand up and send the team to the Home Depot Center in LA for the Cup Final on Sunday.

United held on to defeat the New England Revolution 4-3 on penalty kicks after seeing the score leveled at 3-3 after full time and a thirty minute 'golden-goal' overtime period. Regular time saw an exciting, attacking match for 90 minutes, with the Revs pulling back from a goal down three times. Alecko Eskandarian opending scoring in the 11th minute, with a cracker of a goal - and the DC home crowd was still celebrating when poacher Taylor Twellman found the back of the net to level the match at 1-1 on 17. DC United stuck back quickly themselves behind their two grizzled veterans - Earnie Stewart assisting on Jamie Moreno's goal in the 21st. Just before the halftime break the Revs caught a break, with a DC defender caught with a handball in the box. Steve Ralston coolly buried the penalty kick for an even 2-2 half-time score. In the second-half, Argentinian Christian Gomez sent United to thier third lead with a beautiful header across the goal mouth in the 67th minute. And with time winding down - and the DC crowd wild in anticipation of the chance at the Cup - Pat Noonan scored off a corner kick to draw up the match with only 5 mintues to full time. No goals were scored during the extra time, so the match would be decided by penalties. Rev 'keeper Matt Reis saved the first United effort from Ben Olsen, to give the Revs the immediate advantage, but Ralston, who had buried a penalty earlier in the match, hit the crossbar after beating the goalkeeper to earase the advantage. A series of goals followed - including a beautiful bending shot to the corner by 15-year-old sensation Freddy Adu - until on the sixth round of kicks. DC's Brian Carroll hit his penalty, and rookie-of-the-year candidate Clint Dempsey (whose dad I met about a year ago over breakfast in an English pub here in Houston watching the English Premier League, before he was drafted by MLS) saw his strike saved by Nick Rimando - which sent DC on to their first shot at the Cup in five years. It was a bit undeserved for Dempsey - whose energetic play had led NE for much of the match.

So - on Sunday, November 14th at 2:30 Central (LIVE on ABC) - the MLS Cup will see KC v. DC. Both teams are riding hot streaks, both teams closed the season strong, both teams will be playing at full strength. Both teams play an attractive 3-5-2 creating numerous chances, combined with solid defense. Neither team 'should' have made it this far (KC with injury concerns, and DC with such a young team and a first year head coach). I have felt for some time the the Wizards are the team of destiny this season, having overcome so many obstacles yet retaining such a high level of play. KC are also the 2004 US Open Cup champion. DC will battle, and Adu will get a goal - but the Wizards will come away with the Cup. Prediction: KC 2:1 DC

Friday, November 05, 2004

It's really all too easy...

Texas published the list of those who passed the July 2004 Bar Exam yesterday - and Shana passed! We are both just thrilled.

Personally, I never felt it was in doubt, but she had been nervous about actually seeing the results nonetheless. Probably a large part of that concern is the way that Texas publishes the results. They set a date, and the names of everyone who passed are published on a website. So anyone who knew you were taking the exam can search to see if you passed or not - so there is a fair amount of public pressure in the procedure.

This was a difficult summer for us, due to her concentration and study for the exam. I am so thankful that God blessed her to get through the grueling two month long study ordeal; with the discipline, ability and knowledge to pass the exam; and most of all to NEVER HAVE TO GO THROUGH THAT AGAIN!!! The bar exam is as much about attrition as it is about a testing of legal knowledge - and she persevered.

She will be sworn in at a formal ceremony in Austin, TX on November 15.

Top 5% of her class, Magna Cum Laude, Law Review and now member of the Texas bar. Congratulations to Shana, or should I say, counselor!!!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

"Lazarus ... remains unseen outside the gate"

I hate to just rip off another blog, but I'm going to do it anyway. There are a handful of blogs I read regularly, and Mike Cope's is one of them. He had a moving post on Tue, Nov. 2. It is a piece written by Larry James. James is the former minister at the East Richardson Church of Christ in Dallas and is now Executive Director of Central Dallas Ministries. I searched and searched, and couldn't find the text of this writing directly, so - not knowing the legal ramifications - I'm going to copy it here, with a link to Mike Cope's blog that you can go do directly if you wish. (I certainly hope that I'm not offending either Mr. Cope or Mr. James by copying this here, but I was so moved by the writing, I wanted to share it.)

While it is certainly true that the particular issues associated with injustice in this culture may leave much room for debate, compromise and new agreements and partnerships leading to various solutions, the bedrock theological values clearly and consistently espoused by the witness of Scripture and a significant and influential slice of Christian history refuses to let one comfortably "off the hook" so to speak! Whether one turns to the Law of Moses, the wisdom literature of Israel, the books of history or the prophets, throughout the Hebrew bible one is confronted again and again with the clear outlines of what a just, compassionate and true community culture would look and function like.

Approaching the life of Jesus, the message becomes even clearer. For the sake of this reflection there seems to be no need to rehearse the long list of texts that address this divine mandate. The Messiahship of Jesus is largely defined by a radical, demanding commitment to the values of the Jubilee Year (Luke 4:14ff). Whether one considers the basis of eternal judgment as defined by Jesus (Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 16:19ff) or the consistency of his rabbinic teaching (scan the entire book of Luke!), it is very clear that the issues of compassion, fairness, adequate provision and justice filled his agenda. The early church definitely got this point (Acts 2, 4; James; Paul's work on behalf of the poor in Jerusalem; et al).

Taking its cue from these sacred texts the history of the church is replete with advocates, reformers and community developers who press hard against the various forces of injustice within society and at times within the church itself. God's messengers throughout history have understood the connections between the revelation of God and the reality of life for the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized.

Two undeniable aspects of this struggle for me involve the opportunities presented by life in a post-modern democratic society and the drifting irrelevance of the church, as we know it.

Freedom and the democratic opportunity to craft a truly compassionate community/societal response beyond sound bit rhetoric to pressing contemporary challenges (such as poverty, access to and disparities around health and wellness, livable wages and the results of inadequate skills for marketplace realities, child care, affordable housing and homelessness) hold out great hope and almost endless possibilities. Yet, we are failing miserably in each of these areas. The powerful engines of freedom, choice and democracy currently serve the rich, the healthy and those with access to wellness methodologies, the fully employed, the secure families and the well-housed to the obvious neglect of those left far, far behind.

In a world of opportunity, now plagued by freedom's failures, the church is largely silent as it stands mute like a shallow wading pool reflecting the values of a democratic society that systematically crushes the poor and the marginalized while waving the flags of a rabid patriotism. Ironically, at a time when the church's influence appears to be growing in the public square (even if its membership is declining in real numbers), its prophetic, practical voice comes off muted and shrill. Where is the prophetic word today from the pulpits of Dallas? Who is there to speak a clear word of undeniable truth to power today in a state whose 78th legislature pillaged the poor of the few remaining benefits they could take advantage of? Is there a place for repentance, for fasting beyond the gimmicks of the latest spiritual growth regimen? Where is the biblical understanding that would drive a truly discipled people to their knees because of the suffering of the poor, the imprisoned, the naked, the sick and the stranger? Where are the prophets who would boldly challenge the court of American Royalty?

Today democracy and religion engage in a bizarre dance. The dance hall is brightly lighted. Smoke and mirrors complement the environment to cover a reality that is just out of view by design. The clerics dance with the one who invited them in hopes of securing new funds while creating a truly Christian nation to the glory of God! All the while the numbers of the dispossessed grow. The suffering continues. Important subjects such as programmatic scale in the face of the overwhelming numbers or the efficiency of comprehensive public policy strategies never arises in any of the significant conversations and, thus, is never achieved. The night of celebration ends in prayer and everyone returns home full, honored and satisfied . . . except for Lazarus who remains unseen outside the gate.

-Larry James

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The People have Spoken...

(should we listen?!?)

Bush 286:252 Kerry

If you look below, I was off a bit in my forecasting. The following states came in against my expectations:
Bush won NM and OH (which made all the difference)
Kerry won WI

Shana and I spent the evening glued to the TV and internet. This was my first "on-line" election, and I have to admit to being quite the geek - I was monitoring individual county results in Florida and Ohio all evening, to the point where Shana had to stop me from talking back to the commentators on TV who obviously hadn't seen that Dade county had started to report results when he stated that they didn't know if the more pro-Kerry South Florida had were in the numbers they were discussing.

Another peaceful election is behind us. I am struck by how far to the right the Amercian voting populace really is. I probably shouldn't be surprised, but frankly, I am. Not that W. was re-elected, I had guessed at that for quite a while. But I was surprised at how big a victory it was, and the coat-tails bringing expansion of Republican control of the Senate and House and the overwhelming approveal of anti-gay marriage/benefit propositions in 11 states.

I know people who feel thier faith in the American people was restored last night...and I know people who were terrified by and disappointed in with the American people last night.

Share your reaction to the results or how you watched the election in the comments if you wish.

I pray that God continue to bless America, One Nation Under God.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Day in America

I got my vote in! How about you?

Shana and I got in line at our polling place at about 6:50 am. We were about 40-50th in line at that point, but it flowed pretty quickly. I voted at 7:30am - so it was only about a 40 minute wait (much shorter, I'm guessing, that the wait after work would have been).

We are fortunate enough to have possibly the finest polling location in all of the United States. We vote at a little bed and breakfast about 6 blocks away from where we live. It is a georgous old home that is beautifully decorated. This morning, for us early risers, the bed and breakfast had out complimentary doughnuts and coffee which was welcome with our wait in the wet, chilly weather. I feel like we are 'pampered' voters. I read a humorous list of advice to voters last week that noted if you don't know where your polling precinct is located, look for the oldest, darkest, grungiest building in your neighborhood - that's probably it. Fortunately for us, we get a little luxury in the voting process.

The ballot was quite long - with most of the offices being run unopposed. There were three city propositions on the ballot as well. We use an e-slate electronic voting system, and for as long as the ballot was, the job was finished quickly and easily.

I caught the weather before heading out this morning - and I'm a bit concerned. It looked like Florida was going to be clear, which is positive, but it looked like there would be rain all across Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. That worries me. I just hope that the voters up there get up and get out and get their vote in.

I love election day. I saw Tom Brokaw on MSNBC last night, and he made the comment that as polarized as America is right now, it is a beautiful thing that we are making huge decisions on war, homeland security, economy, healthcare and other value issues - with no tanks in the streets, no guerrillas strongarming, etc. I thought that was such a good point that we all just take for granted. I thank God for the wisdom and foresight that he instilled into the founders of our nation, that they were able to create a system in which we can peacefully transfer power according to the will of massive corporations...sorry, I mean the will of the people. :) I truly thank God that I am an American. Today is a great day - today American can take a step, even if a baby step, forward to being a better country for our grandchildren than it is for us. What a wonderful system.

Monday, November 01, 2004

MLS Playoff Update

Well - I was right on my first round MLS playoff predictions - in one out of four series. Ouch.

In the East, the New England Revolution defeated the Supporter's Shield winning Columbus Crew by a 2-1 aggregate score. DC United defeated Metrostars 4-0 on aggregate.

Out West, #1 seed Kansas City Wizards came from behind to pull out a 3-2 aggregate victory over the defending champion San Jose Earthquakes. In the other matchup, the Los Angeles Galaxy prevailed over the Colorado Rapids 2-1 aggregate.

So, we have the Revs travelling to DC for the Eastern Conference final. It's a one off match, winner to the MLS Cup. The Revs have been really down in 2004, but a final push got them into the playoffs, and they sent off the #1 seed, who hadn't seen a loss since June. United rolled over Metros and is in fine form. But that victory was very costly with key contributor Dema Kovelenko and MLS First XI and New Zealand International defender Ryan Nelson being suspended for the Conference Final due to yellow card accumulation. Those losses will be difficult for DC to overcome and in the end, I think it will prove their undoing. Prediction: DC 0:1 NE (TV = FoxSportsWorld, HDNet, Direct Kick; Sat. Nov. 6, 6:00 Central)

The LA Galaxy go on the road to face the Wizards, where they were 0-1-1 in 2004. This should be an interesting matchup between the #1 and #2 seeds. These were the two best teams in teh conference all year, and both are playing well down the stretch. To me, this matchup is really a pick 'em, but I give the edge to KC because they feel like the team of destiny this year. Overcoming injury to last season's MLS MVP (Preki), last season's leading scorer (Simutekov) and a regular U.S. International (Klein), this squad has just kept getting results week after week. Playing at home should be the edge they need to get the result that will take them to MLS Cup. Prediction: KC 2:1 LA (TV = FoxSportsWorld, HDNet, Direct Kick; Fri. Nov. 5, 6:30 Central)