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This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Last month, Pope Benedict XVI visited the United States and promised to do everything he could to rid the priesthood of predators. Before even touching down on U.S. soil, he said, “We will absolutely exclude pedophiles from the sacred ministry.”

This is a good time to assess how his local representative is doing on that front.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The prosecution of Lori Drew in the MySpace cyberbullying case appears to be the first time that a federal prosecutor has tried to make it a federal crime for a computer user to violate one of those "terms of service" agreements that no one reads. As despicable as Drew's alleged conduct was, the prosecutor's legal theory would make most of us federal felons.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Good deeds don't need a holiday.

Sometimes, they happen just because ... it's spring.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: A year later, you can almost see the egg on Terry Jones' face. About 12 months ago, the political scientist at the University of Missouri at St. Louis was among pundits who saw the political campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama as the equivalent of a colt signing up for the Kentucky Derby.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: You won't catch me saying anything provocative in an email, no ma'am. Actually, that is not true. I routinely send missives that provoke and irritate half the recipients, simultaneously titillating the other half. I do not use expletives, which garishly punctuate certain bloggers' tirades and try not to embarrass my wife or my mom. In other words, I will defend every last word I write -- with today's technology you might as well be skywriting.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: More than the honorary degree Phyllis Schlafly is about to receive, the controversy surrounding her is itself fitting testament to the outsized role she's played in the national debate for most of her long life.

Once again, she stands in the spotlight - smiling and quotable - as opponents fulminate about the attention she's getting. This is vintage Schlafly.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The state Supreme Court's 4-3 decision upholding same-sex marriage is likely to face an almost immediate challenge at the ballot box.  Opponents of same-sex marriage already had been collecting names to put the issue on the ballot in November - a move that could affect who comes out to vote in California during the presidential election. (Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says he respects the court decision and will not work in favor of the ballot initiative to overturn it.)

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Political campaigns are often likened to horse races. If you saw this year's Kentucky Derby, you'll understand why. That contest offered the perfect metaphor for the Democratic presidential primary in that the only female running wound up dead in second place, while Big Brown cruised to victory.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Replacing Justice John Paul Stevens with a Thomas/Scalia/Alito clone could move the court more dramatically to the right than any Supreme Court appointment in the past half century. The balance of the court on issues like religious freedom, affirmative action, gay rights and flag burning could switch. Hence the importance of the next president's selection of a new justice.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, two talented, evenly matched candidates, are nearing the end of an epic battle for their party's presidential nomination. It's hard to remember that the Republican contest was even more unpredictable than the Democratic one after three different candidates each had won important contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and Michigan.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When Caitlin Ellis wants to know what Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton has to say about the economy, the war or the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, for that matter, she doesn't tune into CNN or wait for the evening network news. Instead, she's more likely to get her version of the truth by tapping into some of the so-called new media on the Web, such as YouTube, Facebook, and MySpace.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Israel at 60 can be proud of many accomplishments, and one glaring failure: the elusive peace. I have an experience of Israel across its great divide that few people in the world have had. In a country of Jews and Arabs that rarely mix, I have mixed with both.

Melissa (holding Ditto), Derek, David and Steve Squires have Mother's Day together.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Beacon Archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Staff Sgt. Melissa "Missy'' Squires can look at her photos from Iraq now.

The dramatic pictures of her Missouri National Guard unit, the 203rd Engineer Battalion, Company B, digging through the rubble of the U.N. building after a terrorist attack in August 2003.

The dozens and dozens of pictures of life on base, her unit's construction projects and posing with friendly Iraqis.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Missouri House's action on Thursday is the latest in a complicated series of legislative actions and court decisions on the voter ID issue. Missouri and Indiana were among the states where Republican legislatures passed voter ID laws in the name of limiting voter fraud. Democrats claimed the purpose of the laws was to disenfranchise poor voters less likely to have IDs. The Missouri Supreme Court threw out the state law based on the high level of protection that the state constitution provides for the right to vote.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Should the law continue to require all drivers to carry liability insurance?

I think this requirement is one of our silliest and most damaging. Let’s look at the issue from both sides: the side of a person who has assets to protect and who carries insurance, and the side of a working poor person who has enough money for a car to get to a job, but not enough money for insurance.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: It's been quite some time since I was a student in Miss Mary's kindergarten class. My memories of those halcyon days are at best episodic.

I can recall, for instance, that I hated the place. That's an easy recollection because I despised grade school from the day I first walked in the door. I spent much of my formative years wondering what I'd done to offend an avenging God that He would visit the interminable tedium of elementary education upon me. When Miss Mary invited the entire to class her wedding, I was the only kid who didn't go.

While Barack Obama has raised complaints about politics as usual, I've been wondering about political coverage as usual.

Long ago as a Washington correspondent, I learned the rules of the political coverage game. The object, generally speaking, is to be first to recognize that a race has reached the tipping point - the moment when momentum swings decisively to one side. Political reporters study the tea leaves - polls, contributions and endorsements - in hopes of spotting the definitive trend.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Democratic presidential nomination is now Sen. Barack Obama's to lose. That's the view of some political experts after watching Obama pull off a big victory against Hillary Clinton in the North Carolina primary on Tuesday and nearly upset her in Indiana where Clinton was a heavy favorite.

Though Clinton has vowed to continue her campaign, these political experts say nothing short of a major bombshell will prevent Obama from winning the nomination.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: With two weeks left, the Missouri legislature has entered the equivalent of the final two minutes of a basketball game. Not only is the ticking clock paramount in terms of strategy, but the outcome is still very much up for grabs.

Major pieces of legislation dealing with access to abortions, illegal immigration, voter ID requirements, campaign finance limits and various tax credit programs have yet to gain final approval.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In 2008, an African-American is the likely Democratic presidential nominee. Not surprisingly, throughout the primaries and caucuses, analysts have looked to see how much and what part of the white vote Sen. Barack Obama has received. Since Ohio and especially Pennsylvania, his inability to connect with the white working class has become a frequent refrain.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The lawsuit, filed in Cole County, claims that either Blunt or one of his top deputies or someone acting on their behalf suggested to Commission of Administration Rich AuBuchon "that it would be in everyone's best interest" to tape over the files containing backups of emails that had been sought by the Associated Press.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Tax credits are a hot topic in the Missouri Legislature. Fans of these instruments assert that tax credits are necessary for Missouri to compete with other states and to signal that we are “open for business.” Such devotion to helping the state grow is admirable. Fans, however, are not experts and a careful review of the evidence and some basic economics helps us understand why these herculean efforts are misguided. When asked whether Missouri can stay open for business while avoiding the pitfalls of the tax credit, the answer is unambiguously yes.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Wherever workers appeared to gather signatures for the initiative petition to bar state affirmative programs in Missouri, chances are that someone from the WeCAN organization was  standing by with a counter-argument against the petition.

This unusual strategy for defeating a petition before it gets on the ballot apparently succeeded.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Mildred Loving has a special place in my memory.

Almost 20 years ago, I was writing stories about the Constitution. One afternoon, on a whim, I put my sleeping 4-year-old in the car and set off from our Bethesda, Md., hoping to find Mildred Loving at her rural Virginia home.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon:  I've never liked the term colorblind. I think it's problematic and a complete contradiction. How would you feel if I claimed to be unable to see a significant part of you? Even if you wouldn't have a problem with it, the concept is inherently flawed. Being blind to people's differences isn't the answer; not judging them on these differences is.

Editorial cartoon showing rev. wright's shadow over the obama logo
John Sherffius | Boulder Daily Camera | St. Louis Beacon Archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Tuesday’s Indiana and North Carolina presidential primaries will be the first ballot box tests of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s impact: a lifeline for Hillary Clinton, an anchor for Barack Obama or just some flotsam among the waves?

President Bush greets volunteer Jerron Johnson before giving him the President's Volunteer Service award, the highest award for service, at St. Louis Lambert airport on Friday. (300 pixels 2008)
Adam Wisneski | Post-Dispatch (pool) | St. Louis Beacon Archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: President George W. Bush told high-tech workers at World Wide Technology in Maryland Heights on Friday that rebate checks will help counter slow economic growth and that he remained confident that the “economy is going to come on.”

Bush spoke to a receptive audience that interrupted him with applause several times during a session that included a discussion of gasoline prices, the mortgage crisis, slow economic growth and access to health insurance.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Missouri boasts a veritable catalogue of unmet needs. These include education at all levels: Teachers' pay is low; the state's support of secondary and elementary education ranks toward the bottom; and college tuition in Missouri is higher than that in any other state in the Big 12 Conference. Health care is similarly starved for resources, and our transportation infrastructure is deteriorating. The state has yet to face the fact that a modern economy demands improvement in these areas, not a slide to the bottom.

King huddles with Pam Whitcraft of the Human Society in St. Louis. Until the trials are over concerning the dogfights King participated in, he can't be adopted.
Bill Smith | Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In a small, fenced exercise yard off Macklind Avenue, Humane Society of Missouri employee Pam Whitcraft and King -- a 3-year-old male pit bull with a coat the color of yellow sand -- were taking full advantage of the warm sunshine for a few precious minutes of outside playtime.

A strong wind was kicking up clouds of dust inside the pen, but it was not the wind that was bothering the animal this Thursday morning.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The case can be fairly made that the Democratic Party has spent the last 45 years searching for JFK. Like the star-crossed lover who broke your heart that you can never quite forget, Jack’s absence haunts the party faithful with a vague, but gnawing, institutional lament.

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