Friday, August 31, 2007

TX Republicans Beating up Missouri Democrats

Don't mess with Texas!! The Swift Boat Captains in Texas aren't satisfied with just messing with John Kerry, they are quickly coming to the aid of Matt Blunt, too.

Congrats to KC Blue Blog for taking the time to track down these crazy Texans. They started a group called Missouri Political News. The clear intent of Missouri Political News Service is to be a neutral looking front for Texas right wing attacks on Missouri Democrats, like Claire McCaskill and Jay Nixon. The only ad running on the site is for the Adam Smith Foundation. The Adam Smith Foundation is a right wing group attacking Missouri judges. These same folks took out Judge Brown in Cole County. Jeff Roe admits to taking out Judge Brown to just prove he could do it and Jeff Roe promised to do it again. Well, looks like his Adam Smith Foundation and Missouri Political News are attempting to fulfill that promise.

How do we know these Texans are Swift Boat Captains and attempting to influence Missouri politics through excessive donations to Matt Blunt and Jeff Roe? Who is Bob Perry? Check out the Wikipedia entry on his donations, including swift boat contributions and being the largest donor to the Texas Republican Party. KC Blue Blog did a great job of tracking Bob Perry's connections to Missouri Political News and Matt Blunt. It is really sad when Tom Delay and Karl Rove get donors to give to Roy Blunt and Matt Blunt. Go back to Texas. Leave us alone!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hypocrisy in a toilet stall....

It is hard not to have some pity for Sen. Craig of Idaho, having to seek sex in an airport toilet. Ordinarily, his sexual activities and preferences (which apparently involve a "wide stance")should be of interest only to him and his wife.

That having been said, Craig is one of those hypocritical right-wingers who appeal to the worst instincts of homophobic Americans and who, I suspect, voted to impeach Bill Clinton over his hanky-panky.

Poetic justice? Hooked on one's own petard?

Liberty Environmental Improvement?

Fired Up! Missouri is reporting that Jeff Roe has relocated from Liberty to Kansas City. Normally, this blog would not bother to play along with Jeff's relentlessly self-promotional attempts to stay in the public eye, but it's worth noting that Roe's move appears to put him in violation of his duties under the Liberty City Charter.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Blunt not quite truthful on state's education facts

Matt Blunt's hometown newspaper is calling "bullshit" on the governor's recent tour touting his pro-education policy.

In an op-ed, the Springfield Newsleader says that Blunt is not truthful. The Southern Baptist preacher of my youth always said "a half truth is a complete lie." The Newsleader's summary is WHAT: Gov. Blunt's self-congratulatory speeches are less than honest. WHY: State's higher education funding is nothing short of tragic.

Funny that Attorney General Jay Nixon has made improving education in Missouri the cornerstone of his campaign, Matt Blunt attempts to pull a Jeff Roe fast one by saying that he is good on education and it is Blunt's own newspaper that cries "BS."

"I could never hurt you, Berto...."

Some irony: The same day Michael Vick pleads guilty to a felony of doing to dogs what Alberto Gonzales said it was OK to do to POWs (so long as we call them something different), Berto calls it quits.

The AG's resignation comes five days after Bradley Schlozman's -- the anti-civil rights head of the Civil Rights Division & the first "permanent interim US Atty" appointed under the Patriot Act II provision allowing him to bypass Senate approval -- who has become the poster boy for political abuse of the Justice Department (everywhere but in KC.) It comes three days after Sen Leahy told Schlozman he was not off the hook to provide documentation to the Senate concerning his actions.

Berto's sudden departure does make one wonder what might be coming up in the hearings when they resume in September. The House has asked for information on some specific cases that reek of political influence to prosecute for political purposes. The real question may be whether Democrats in Congress will have the courage to follow Leahy & Conyers' lead.

Another irony: It may turn out that the Bush Justice Department , itself, will be the worst case of public corruption in the history of the Republic.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Republicans Stand up to Blunt to Protect Impartial Judicary

Gov. Matt Blunt and Jeff Roe (Matt's version of Karl Rove) have massively miscalculated their attacks on the neutral and independent judiciary in Missouri. Blunt/Roe are taking a page out of the Bush/Rove book - attack a neutral governmental group (Blunt picked the judges, Bush picked the Department of Justice) and then destroy it for political gain.

KC Blue Blog and the St. Louis Post Dispatch are both reporting on a split in the GOP over the attacks on judges. Former Representative Mark Wright (R) from Springfield (Matt Blunt's hometown) says Republicans like Blunt can't identify a single "activist" opinion by the Missouri Supreme Court. He says his fellow Republicans really just think that liberals are on the Court (don't tell Rush Limbaugh, his cousin is on the Missouri Supreme Court).

Gov. Blunt didn't hold open meetings under the Sunshine Law when he hired his lawyer, Ed Martin. Yet, Gov. Blunt released the text of some of the 111 questions he asked to the three people interviewing for the Supreme Court opening. Some of the better answers to the questions: Worst Missouri Supreme Court opinion - "Scott v. Emerson (The Dred Scott case)" - Judge Ron Holliger. Member of the group that discriminates based on age, religion or sex - "the Girl Scouts" - Judge Judith Baker. Have you ever worked for an employer that hired illegal aliens - "The State of Missouri" - Judge Judith Baker. Who appointed you to judge - "Gov. Ashcroft & Gov. Bond" - Judge Patricia Breckenridge. How is it the someone appointed by both Bond and Ashcroft isn't considered Republican enough? Is Blunt so much more of a Republican that he is better than a sitting senator and a former Attorney General?

What can you do? Join That is the no-partisan group committed to keeping the Missouri courts fair and neutral. Keep informed. The first step to totalitarianism is to pack the court with your judges.

Bob Johnson to Run in 47th

The rumors continue to swirl that former state representative Bob Johnson will join Senator Chris Koster in dumping the Republican Party. Bob Johnson was a Republican state representative that ran against Sen. Matt Bartle.

Now we hear that Bob Johnson is considering running against Rep. Grisamore (R) to be the state representative in Lee's Summit (47th). Rev. Tom Haley (D) has confirmed that he is not running again. Bob Johnson enjoys very, very strong support of the labor community. We all know that when labor gets on your side, they are really on your side.

Grisamore has built a strong record of ignoring the environment, not running an effective campaign, having questionable relationships with highly controversial political freaks, and being nothing more than a party hack in Jefferson City. Bob Johnson has built a strong record of being a leader, standing by his convictions and working with Democrats to help his district.

Bob Johnson - you will be welcomed to the Democratic party. Come on in, the water is just fine. You run and win, you might be in the majority!!

DOJ Totally Corrupt - Scholzman Quits

OK, I'm an NPR junkie. I love Nina Totenberg. Her insight into the Supreme Court and legal issues is amazing. So, when I hear her voice on KCUR, I perk up.
I was shocked this morning to hear Nina Totenberg talking about the Western District of Missouri, our former US Attorney Brad Scholzman, our fired US Attorney Todd Graves and the corruption in the Department of Justice. Brad Scholzman is resigning, the latest in a long list of political hacks going day as the corruption scandal spreads through the Department of Justice.
Its amazing how the Republican scandals make even some Republicans look "normal." Take Ashcroft - on death's door in a hospital bed - standing up to Gonzales to stop illegal wiretaps. Ashcroft - of all the Republican radicals - appears "normal" compared to Rove/Bush/Gonzales Now, take Todd Graves - brother of Congressman Sam Graves - getting fired from being a US Attorney. Why fire Todd Graves - because he wouldn't go after Democrats and ACORN. Well, Scholzman would, so they brought him into KC, he filed charges and "It surprised me," Graves said in June. "It surprised me that they'd been filed that close to an election." Some may say that the political objectives of the Scholzman caused the prosecution of Shields. So, Todd Graves looks almost "normal."
The arrogance of the current occupant of the White House is amazing. Why fire the brother of a congressman (unless Sam Graves is hated by Kit Bond) and then lie about it? Why send in Kit Bond's relative to take over the US Attorney's Office (unless he needs his resume built up a little more so he can run for Kit's job)? Why turn one of the most respected organizations on the face of the Earth - the US Dept. of Justice - into political hacks? Why would President Bush - but for an inner party feud - take Congressman Graves and Senator Bond to breakfast at the Corner Cafe in Riverside (always ask them to bring out the biscuits or rolls first, they are great as an appetizer)? Does Bush think some scrambled eggs can fix the anger over Kit Bond quasi-endorsing Mayor Barnes in her race against Graves?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Nolte (33) - Abortion Causes Illegal Immigration

As the Immigration issues continue to draw attention and as we discuss Rep. Jerry Nolte's (33rd) lack luster performance in Jefferson City, it is important to examine these issues along with abortion. What, abortion & immigration? Those two things are unrelated!!!

Recall that Rep. Nolte (R) - Mr. "limited activity"- is the vice chair of the immigration committee. That committee did not pass a single bill into law in 2007. 2006 wasn't a banner year, either. That was the year the immigration committee decided that abortion caused illegal immigration. This was the Special Committee to study immigration reform. Not a single Democrat signed the illogical report, but felon Nathan Cooper did, along with Rep. Nolte. Check out page 9 of the offical report by Nolte & Cooper.

Right there in black and white - 30 years of abortion causes illegal immigration. What about before Roe v. Wade? What about Nathan Cooper working for trucking companies to get illegal aliens into the US?

Rep. Nolte - we want to know where you stand!! You should either publicly take your name off this report, stating your disgust for your friend and felon Nathan Cooper or not run for office. Which one is it?

Giuliani Can't Be Elected

For good or for bad, Rudy Giuliani can't be elected for President in a swing state like Missouri (or Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas, or South Carolina).

Missourians voted down gay marriage by over 70%. That vote broke my heart. I saved my "No on 2" sign and look at it in my garage sadly. That vote also pushed a new crop of leaders to the top of the heap, i.e. Sen. Jolie Justus. Giuliani may have ticked off his kids by dumping their mom (at least it wasn't for a tobacco lobbyist like Congressman Roy Blunt did to Governor Matt Blunt's mom), but at least Rudy believes that "all men are created equal" applies to gays. Rudy has been an active leader in the NYC GLBT community.

KC Blue Blog has done a great job of tracking down the Giuliani videos that show Rudy dressing in drag, marching in gay pride parades and doing all the things a good liberal should do in NYC. It would have been nice to put a D up against Rudy because the religious right already feels upset with the Missouri Republican Party over stem cell. The Republican Party created the folks who believe that two gays living together is bad, but two gays getting married will destroy our country and is more important than the war on terror. They created this stem cell fight that divides their party.
Well, you invited them to the party, now you are stuck with them.

Monday, August 20, 2007

AG Race Gets Endorsements

The race for the Democratic Nomination for Attorney General continues to stay hot and endorsements from candidates and political groups seem to be of huge importance.

We've got 3 Dems in the race - Jeff Harris (Columbia), Margaret Donnelly (St. Louis) and Chris Koster (Harrisonville). Some thought that Jeff Harris would pull Columbia, Koster would get KC and Donnelly would pull St. Louis and lots of "women" votes. Well, Harris recently picked up the endorsement of Gov. Roger Wilson (which means state-wide appeal). Harris previously had the endorsement of the State Senator from Boone County.

Koster was recently endorsed by the St. Louis County Prosecutor. Here's the big shocker - Sen. Maida Coleman (St. Louis), the elected D leader in the Senate, has come out early for Jeff Harris. “I have no doubt that Jeff Harris is the best person to hold the office of Missouri Attorney General. Jeff has proven himself to be a smart and adept leader, with integrity and intelligence. He is honest and forthright and has never wavered from who he is and what he stands for. Jeff has the conviction to respect justice and the rule of law and the courage to stand up for what is right”, said Coleman. Sen. Coleman has to sit down with Koster in the Senate D caucus; very bold move. This gives other state senators room to do the same.

That leaves St. Louis wide open. What remains next is to see what the Kansas City delegates to Jefferson City do. No doubt that Sen. Justus carries lots of influence in the hard-core D voting districts of KC. Rep. Low has lots of followers and is popular, as well. These two elected officials can probably tell you the names, addresses and eye color of every voter who will request the D primary ballot in mid-town, Brookside & Waldo.
Nothing like an interesting race for AG.

Terry Stone to Challenge Nolte in the 33rd

Rep. Terry Nolte (R) is in for a rematch from Terry Stone(D)!!!

The 33rd District, just North of the River in the Gladstone area, is a Democratic seat. Sen. Claire McCaskill carried this district by 56.7%. Terry Stone ran against Nolte, an incumbent, and lost by only 74 votes in 2006. Nolte has not been out raising money and reported "limited activity"on his last MEC filing. Nolte's immigration committee in Jefferson City has literally passed no laws. Nolte supports vouchers and open enrollment - ideas that are not popular in his district. Nolte's "limited activity" is not just limited to fundraising, he's done nothing for his district in Jefferson City besides serve as a rubber stamp for Blunt.

Before Nolte, the seat was held by Rev. and Rep. Phil Willoughby (D). Before that is was held by Insurance Commissioner and Rep. Scott Lakin (D). A fundraiser was recently held that was headlined by Jay Nixon, the current Attorney General and the Democratic candidate for Governor. Listed on the invite, in addition to Willoughby and Lakin, were the widely popular father and son duo of Councilman Bill Skaggs and Rep. Trent Skaggs. The fact that Terry Stone has such heavy hitter support so early clearly indicates this is a Top 5 race in the State. If the Missouri House is going to switch to a Democrat in the Speaker's chair, it will require that Terry Stone be in Jefferson City.
Good Luck, Terry Stone.

Felon Nathan Cooper to give Money to Charity

You will recall that Blog CCP reported on State Representative Nathan Cooper pleading guilty to a felony. KC Blue Blog started the beating of the drums to give the ill-gotten proceeds from a shady golf tournament to charity. Congrats, KC Blue Blog - it worked.

It was reported yesterday that Felon Nathan Cooper (R) is going to give the $65,000 in donations he squeezed from folks to charities. Also in the news is that the Missouri Supreme Court - a non-partisan group - went ahead an punched Nathan Cooper's ticket and took his law license. Cooper wanted to hold onto it until he was sentenced.

This is an interesting story because the U.S. Attorney that is handling this case is none other than the former Speaker of the House, Catherine Hanaway (a Republican candidate for the Missouri Attorney General). The time between the plea and the sentencing indicates that Cooper is looking for a deal - which means he needs to roll over on someone. Who will it be? Will Hanaway go light on a felon/lawyer/legislator? Will Hanaway let Cooper rat someone out or use this to score political points (and if so, points for the primary or points for the general)?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Sands of Iraq and Dover Beach

I don't know what's going on in Iraq. Neither do you. Each of us must rely on information that is gathered by others, condensed by others, and presented by others. Even if you're visiting this blog from a laptop in the Green Zone, you don't really know what's going on 20 miles away.

For months, though, we've been promised that we will be getting a status report from General Petraeus. While I didn't really have high hopes for the impartiality of a report that amounts to a self-evaluation, I was at least looking forward to a report that would be a military assessment instead of a political argument. After 4 plus years of rightwing cheerleaders telling us how wonderful things are, and 4 plus years of lists of dead American soldiers every week, it would be nice to have someone in command stating his view of where things stand militarily.

We learned earlier this week that the Petraeus Report will not happen. There will be no Petraeus Report. The White House will write the report. And it's even worse than that. The White House will write the report "with inputs from officials throughout the government," which means that we will get a thoroughly vetted and processed version with every spun nuance to be found within the Bush Regime.

This morning, I am as disgusted by our federal government as I've ever been. From Powell's bogus photos of chemical trucks during the marketing campaign to the embedded reporters at the beginning of the war to the suppressed photos of coffins and casualties all the way up to the White House Report (f/k/a Petraeus Report, and any news outlet that refers to the "Petraeus Report" after this news will be playing along with an Administration lie), the American public has consistently been denied access to the unvarnished truth.

I am not an informed citizen. You are not an informed citizen. When you vote, you do so based upon deeply flawed and biased presentation of controlled information. If you're a rightwinger, you might believe that the mainstream media are the source of misinformation. If you're a progressive, you believe that the Bush Administration is lying to us.

We're both correct, and Matthew Arnold comes to mind:
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
Welcome to Dover Beach.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It's Not About the Judges

One of the bits of "wisdom" that both parties have picked up on over the past decade or so is the importance of "wedge issues" to excite "their" voters and get them to show up at the polls on election day. The ideal wedge issue is one that your people are passionate about, but the other side is less interested.

The battle over the Missouri Plan is a wedge issue.

Stem cells are a decent example. If you believe that stem cell experimentation is murder, you are motivated to show up at the polls and save lives. If you believe stem cell research is simply a promising area of medical advancement, the accepted wisdom is that you're less motivated to get up and vote. Preventing murder with God on your side ought to generate more votes than supporting a bunch of nerds in lab coats doing stuff you don't really understand. So, if you want religious conservatives to show up at the polls, put stem cells on the ballot as a wedge issue. Other examples include the minimum wage, gun control and gay marriage.

This year, the Republicans are relying on activist judges instead of stem cell-murdering scientists to get their voters to the polls.

They've started laying the groundwork for their attack on the Missouri Plan already. They've tried to paint Chief Justice Laura Stith into a corner by making silly requests for meaningless documents. They've tried to falsely accuse the Nominating Commission of being "secretive". They've run billboards raising the specter of "activist judges", without being able to name a single Missouri state judge who qualifies for that flexible label.

The funny thing is, life without the Missouri Plan would be worse for all of us, Republicans and Democrats. That's why we're seeing Republican ex-judges and lawyers doing their best to stop this wedge issue. That's why Republican ex-Chief Justices have come out in favor of the Missouri Plan. That's why Lathrop & Gage evicted Jeff Roe from their offices after they started to get calls questioning their smelly alliance with the loudest opponent of the Missouri Plan.

Now, imagine for a moment that you are a conservative republican (I hope that's a stretch for you). Think for a second about having elected judges interpreting our laws and running our courtrooms. Think about the scoundrels and rascals those democrats have gotten elected statewide in the past, and think about the trends in republican popularity. Think about Chief Justice Bob Holden running our Supreme Court. Think about who would get elected to be our trial judges in Kansas City and St. Louis - where most big trials happen. Do you want Judge Coe handling your divorce?

Nobody intelligent really wants the Missouri Plan to go away. Not even Jeff Roe. But they are willing to risk damaging Missouri's judicial system for a one-time shot at motivating some ill-informed voters to the polls so they can vote against non-existent activist judges.

Let's hope that those who care about our judicial system more than about the next election win this round. Our judicial system is too important to be reduced to a wedge issue.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Even Republicans Want a Neutral Judiciary

Given the level of attacks on the Missouri judiciary by Gov. Matt Blunt (R), it is hard to believe that even sane Republicans want a neutral, fair judicial system. It's true, not all Republicans are nuts.

Dan Margolies from the KC Star wrote an article about how 3 former chief judges from the Missouri Supreme Court - all appointed by then Gov. John Ashcroft - have come out to defend the Missouri Non-Partisan Court Plan. Judge John Holstein - who ran for trial judge in S.W. Missouri as a Republican - is one of those guys and he now works at one of our biggest firms in the state. He was a smart, intelligent and fair judge, literally a poster child for why we want the Missouri Plan. Ashcroft picked a Judge Holstein to sit on the Supreme Court, not a partisan hack with the most money. Ashcroft never complained about the Missouri Non-Partisan Court Plan.

Another one of the former chief judges is Judge Ann Covington. Again, not a party hack. She was intelligent and worked hard. She, too, has gone on to one of our biggest firms in the state. Now, would plenty of Democrats disagree with Holstein and Covington's votes - you bet. Does that make Holstein and Covington activist judges - nope. It means that our judicial branch is designed to protect individual rights, not to enforce majority rule. It means that we have come up with the best plan in America to select judges, which is why 38 states have adopted parts of our plan. Even Blunt's hometown newspaper, the Springfield Newsleader, says our system is fair. Blunt is in deep political doo-doo, he needs an issue to save him and get his base out to the polls in November of 2008.

We should all join in the battle to defend our courts. Go sign up as a supporter. Knowledge is key on this issue and getting our friends, neighbors and family in the loop is the only way to combat this issue. Mark my words, Jeff Roe and his Karl Rove game playing will have this on the ballot in November of 2008 to get his base happy. If you listen to Rush, you hate judges. They have the AM airways, we have the blogs. Let's win this fight!

Hillary a Drag

We mid-westerners aren't arrogant, but we aren't dumb, either. We know how the Electoral College works. We know Missouri and Ohio are swing states that the Democrats must win to take back the White House. As a Midwestern Democrat, I desperately want to put a D back in the White House.

Here's my beef - Hillary Clinton cannot win the swing voters in Missouri that U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill won. When the top of the ticket in 2004 sported a liberal from Massachusetts, Claire lost her bid for governor. When she was the top of the ticket in 2006, Claire won and helped push the majority in the US Senate over to the Democrats. Democrats need Missouri!!

In Missouri, the presidential primary will be decided without our input. We are left to work with whomever Iowa and New Hampshire give us. Fortunately, Iowa and New Hampshire take their jobs seriously. Maybe they give us John Edwards, who is leading in the Iowa polls. Missouri can build a ticket around Edwards. Attorney General Jay Nixon will be our governor if Edwards is the presidential candidate. Hillary - although extremely smart - is horrible divisive in the swing districts that put Claire into Harry Truman's senate seat. Our Missouri swing voters are in suburban counties, they are women, they don't vote on abortion and they don't like Hillary.

Apparently, others around the country believe the same. Check out Clinton a Drag? Dems Fear Her Negatives. Things like "in more than 40 interviews, Democratic candidates, consultants and party chairs from every region pointed to internal polls that give Clinton strikingly high unfavorable ratings in places with key congressional and state races" scare the crap out of me as we try to take back Missouri's governor's mansion. Quotes like "the chairman of a Midwest state party called Clinton a nightmare for congressional and state legislative candidates" ring true in Missouri as we attempt to take back control of the Missouri house.

The Country needs Missouri if we are to win the White House. Missouri needs a candidate that will allow us to compete. Iowa and New Hampshire – give us someone who can win in more than the Kerry 2004 states.

MO Attorney General Race - It will be HOT

It's August in Missouri, so it is hot. Seems a little early for a Democratic primary battle for 2008 to heat up, but the Missouri Attorney General's race is sure to be a good one.

We had what looked like a clear race for Rep. Jeff Harris (D), then we had Rep. Margaret Donnelly (D) jump in. Sen. Chris Koster (?) jumped off the sinking ship and joined the Democratic Party (WELCOME!!). Some unions on the western half of the state love Koster for his stand to get the Cass County Justice Center built with union labor. Those unions have endorsed with large contributions to Koster (they are a loyal bunch). Jeff Harris has worked hard for Democrats across the state in his role of House Minority Leader. This is a primary, so only the die hard liberal voters will show up. That means KC, St. Louis and Boone County.

This race is getting hot because Jeff Harris is getting some key endorsements. Key as in former Governor Roger Wilson, a beloved D in this state. The CCP's endorsement process in this race is going to be very enjoyable from a political junkie's perspective. See the press release below:

It's Official: Governor Roger Wilson Endorses Jeff Harris for Attorney General

Columbia – Governor Roger Wilson announced his endorsement of House Minority Leader Jeff Harris for Attorney General today in Columbia. Wilson, who most recently served as Missouri Democratic Party Chairman, said he’s endorsing Harris now, more than a year out from the 2008 elections, because “Democrats need to elect the next generation of leaders, and Jeff, at 42 years old, represents what’s best about that generation.”
Jeff will be our next Attorney General because he has a message that will appeal statewide. “As Attorney General, count on Jeff to initiate new efforts to keep Missouri families safe in their communities and on the Internet, to crack down on consumer fraud and to defend the environment from polluters,” Wilson said.

“Governor Roger Wilson is a leader of the Democratic Party and one of the finest public servants in our state’s history,” Harris said. “I am truly honored to have earned his endorsement.”

Jeff Harris was the first Democrat to announce his candidacy for Attorney General. Harris is currently a member of the Missouri House and represents part of Columbia – which is also the hometown of Governor Wilson. Harris has served as House Democratic Leader and has a proven record of standing up for Democratic values and fighting for working families. Learn more about Harris by visiting

Blogress Report

Back in February, members of the Committee for County Progress began discussing the advisability and feasibility of launching a group blog to host and stimulate intelligent political discussion with a progressive flavor. At the time, the KC Buzz Blog was a highly visible but deeply flawed venue, and the local political landscape was otherwise populated by personal or single-issue blogs. It seemed that the local political scene could benefit from a lively, frequently-updated site featuring an intelligent, informed group of writers on a variety of political topics.

A few months later, the Buzz Blog converted into a $400/year irrelevancy, and we decided that it was time to stop talking about Blog CCP. The site launched on May 26, totally without fanfare, since we weren't sure we had worked out all the technical bugs.

Today, less than three months after the launch of Blog CCP, the CCP has extended its reach and influence far beyond what it could have accomplished without the blog. We started tracking statistics a month and a half ago, and, in that time, we've had over 1400 visitors and almost 4500 visits. While most of our hits are from local sources, we get lots of visits from computers in Jefferson City and in Washington, DC. Visitors have come to our site from 5 continents.

All those visitors have found an interesting site. We've hosted a blog post by a United States Senator. We're averaging a post a day, and we have a lively commenting community that is growing. We've had 8 people author posts, and expect that number to grow as CCP members see how easy it is to voice their opinions.

During a period without any Jackson County elections, the Committee for County Progress has hosted a conversation that has reached over a thousand people. As we move toward 2008, we expect to continue our steady growth in both participation and audience. For over 40 years, the CCP has been encouraging and supporting progressive change in our county, state and nation. Blog CCP can support and amplify that impact, and has already begun to do so.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Barnes is Graves Toughest Challenger

Mayor Barnes is putting the squeeze on Congressman Graves like no other candidate ever has! Check out this AP article. Expect lots of dirty things to be thrown her way from Jeff Roe, Missouri's own Karl Rove. Graves/Roe try to act like Barnes is out of touch since she ran City Hall successfully. It is more that hypocritical that Graves fundraising office is not even in his district, rather it is located in the offices of Lathrop & Gage (a silk stocking law firm in Crown Center).

Graves facing formidable challenger in Barnes By SAM HANANEL, AP
WASHINGTON (Map, News) - Missouri Rep. Sam Graves has cruised to easy re-election victories since he was elected to Congress in 2000, building a powerful Republican political machine in the process.
But he's facing a formidable opponent next year in Democrat Kay Barnes, the former two-term mayor of Kansas City.
Barnes outpaced Graves by a wide margin in fundraising last quarter, and Democrats believe her popularity and name recognition give the party a solid chance at winning the seat.
It won't come without a fight. Graves, a farmer from Tarkio, already is labeling Barnes an urban liberal with little connection to the values and priorities of rural voters in the sprawling 6th Congressional District.
"The bottom line is she's a big-city mayor and her constituency is downtown Kansas City," Graves said in an interview. "Nobody pays attention to agriculture or rural concerns until they're running for office. She's a perfect example of that."
Barnes calls the charge nonsense, though she has spent much of the past three months trying to counter that image. She announced her candidacy standing in front of her mother's home in St. Joseph, the city where she was born and raised, and has made repeated trips to smaller communities north of Kansas City.
"I'm really enjoying getting out in the district and getting back in some parts where I spent time when I was growing up," Barnes said in an interview. "I have strong roots throughout much of the district, including rural portions."
Her focus in courting rural voters mirrors the successful strategy that brought victory to Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill last year. McCaskill spent hundreds of hours traveling in a rented RV to campaign in rural communities across the state, and defeated Republican Sen. Jim Talent by about 2 percentage points among voters in the 6th District.
McCaskill had lost the same district to Matt Blunt by double digits in the 2004 governor's race, when many believe she neglected the rural vote.
"We have a saying around here: 'You have to learn to speak farmer,'" said Alan Holiman, a political science professor at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo. "You have to identify with those folks because they vote up there. Agriculture and farm concerns are a huge deal in that part of the state of Missouri."
McCaskill helped persuade Barnes to run for the seat and speaks with Barnes or her staff every few weeks about the campaign. McCaskill's former deputy finance director now works as Barnes' finance director, and McCaskill recently sent a letter to supporters encouraging them to back Barnes.
Barnes says she also hopes to take advantage of the friction between Graves and more-moderate Republicans like Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., who earlier this year praised Barnes for her work revitalizing downtown Kansas City.
"There are divisions within the Republican party related to Graves," Barnes said. "I know already that I will garner some moderate Republican support in the race."
Graves scoffs at Barnes' rural strategy and he predicts she will have trouble connecting with rural voters. The Republican Party already has focused on Barnes' support for gay rights issues, including her support for resolutions that created domestic partnership benefits for gays and lesbians in Kansas City.
"She likes to talk about her roots in the rural areas, but she left that area in the Korean War," Graves said. "It's been a long time and there's been lots of changes since then."
Indeed, Graves has played a key role in turning the once Democratic-leaning district more conservative over the past six years. Democratic Rep. Pat Danner held the seat from 1993 until she retired in 2000. That was the year Graves eked out a narrow 51 percent victory over Danner's son, state Sen. Steve Danner.
At the time, most elected officials in the district were Democrats. Most are Republicans now, thanks to Graves' efforts in recruiting GOP candidates, offering strategic advice and helping raise money.
One reason for Graves' past success has been a fundraising prowess that helped scare away serious opponents. Graves raised more than $1 million to defeat Democrat Sara Jo Shettles in 2006, and more than $1.6 million to beat Democrat Charlie Broomfield in 2004.
If the last quarter is any indication, Barnes may be the best-funded opponent Graves has faced. She raised nearly $330,000 in just six weeks after declaring her candidacy May 14, while Graves pulled in about $248,000 during the entire quarter.
Graves dismisses Barnes' initial haul as "low-hanging fruit," but he has hired a professional fundraiser to help ramp up contributions.
"Graves has been really lucky in his opponents," Holiman said. "It's been very hard to entice a competitive candidate. Barnes is ambitious, has a decent record in Kansas City and won't have any problems with name recognition."
Graves has been a reliable conservative vote in Congress, with a focus on farm issues. He has been a firm supporter of the Iraq war and lately has spoken out strongly against Bush's immigration reform plan and in favor of increasing border security. Barnes often points out that Graves has voted with President Bush 94 percent of the time.
She says Graves hasn't focused enough on health care reform or questioning the Iraq war. Barnes is not ready to suggest a particular time frame for withdrawal, but says she agrees with Democrats that there should be more evidence of progress.
Graves spokesman Jason Klindt said a comparison of Graves' record with the White House's Statement of Administration Policy - where the president recommends how House members should vote - shows Graves has voted against the president 40 percent of the time this year. That policy statement reflects only a fraction of all House votes.
"They disagree on things like farm bill, immigration, vouchers and veterans care," Klindt said.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Republican Representative Cooper a Felon - Give the Dirty Money to Charity!!

Representative Nathan Cooper (R), from Southeast Missouri, has plead guilty to a felony for lying about immigration paperwork. Kinda of ironic that Republicans, especially Rep. Nolte from Gladstone, are harsh critics of the immigration, yet pass no substantive laws, and one of their own is breaking immigration law for Republican donors. Representative Cooper (R) will be resigning his political office.
Two days before pleading guilty to a felony in federal court, Representative Cooper (R) transferred over $65,000 from his campiagn account to the "Friends of the 158th." There is symbiotic relationship between the "Friends of the 158th" and the "Friends of Nathan Cooper." They have the same treasure (Victor Gunn), they write checks back and forth, they jointly hosted a golf tournament.
Nathan Cooper (R) served on the Joint Committee for Government Accountability. You can tell he learned alot there. According to Missouri Political News, Democrats were quick to respond to the incident. "First they started trading tax credits for campaign contributions, then they sold fee offices to political allies, and now we learn that Rep. Nathan Cooper — one of Matt Blunt’s top lieutenant in the legislature — has been handing out visas to illegal immigrants for personal gain," said Jack Cardetti, Missouri Democratic Party spokesman. "Today’s guilty plea pulls back the curtain on the culture of corruption created by Matt Blunt and his legislative allies. It’s no wonder that Missourians are ready for change." The Missouri GOP has issued no official response regarding the incident. According to the Associated Press, Cooper took in at least $50,000 from trucking industry clients in the scheme between 2004 and 2005.

Many folks are calling for Cooper's tainted money, which now sits in the "Friends of the 158th" to be donated to charity. I cannot imagine that any Republican would want to get a donation from the "Friends of the 158th." Why not refund the money to the donors? Because even before pleading guilty to a felony, Cooper wanted to help his Republican friends. Victor Gunn and Rep. Cooper made sure they got refunds from the "Friends of Nathan Cooper" committee for the federal guilty plea.
Give the money to charity!!! Where is Blunt?

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Grisamore (47th) Ignores the Environment

Lot's of Eastern Jackson County and Lee's Summit are represented in Jefferson City by Rep. Jeff Grisamore (47th). Rep. Grisamore (R) just completed his first year of a two year term in the Missouri House. Grisamore serves on the Special Committee on Energy and the Environment. Taking care of the world around us is important - so Grisamore's record on the environment is important to examine.

Recall that Gov. Blunt handed out tax cuts to business interests and saved money for the rainy day fund. Missouri is experiencing good financial times. When Holden took credit for the ups and downs in the economy, I said HUMP. When Blunt takes credit for the ups in the economy but not the downs, I say HUMP HUMP.

In Missouri, during good financial times, when tax cuts are being handed out to corporations, surely we can give an individual an income tax deduction for the purchase of hybrid motor vehicles? Nope, HB 53 never got out of the Missouri House. Okay - how about all entities which ship radioactive waste through or within the state to be assessed a fee since Missourians have to pay for additional security? Nope, HB 71 never got out of the Missouri House. How about a tax credit to help Missouri farmers by getting ethanol facilities and vehicles going? Nope, HB 357 never got out of the Missouri House. Clean American Fuel Board - nope, HB 479 never got out of the Missouri House. If your power is out should you get a credit on your next electrical bill? Nope, not according to Grisamore since HB 637 died in his committee.

So, what about all the other environmental bills that came through Grisamore's committee, all the ones that were signed into law? Only ONE house bill which came through Grismaore's committee was signed into law and that dealt with rate cuts for common carriers from the Highways and Transportation Commission (HB 28). Doesn't sound like an environmental bill to me. HB 28 had a single sponsor - Rep. Jane Cunningham. Grisamore and Cunningham have a stinky relationship in that Cunningham (who is sitting on over $120,000 in cash) gives money to and then takes money away from Grisamore (who is sitting on a whopping $1,500 in his campaign account).

Grisamore's environmental committee passed ZERO, ZILCH, NADDA, NO environmental laws. The only law that was passed was to help out Grisamore's friend and contributor. We all need a better protector of the environment than Rep. Grisamore.

Nolte (33rd) - Doing Nothing About Immigration

Representative Jerry Nolte (R) - state representative for the 33rd District just north of the river in Clay County - is busy taking on problem if illegal immigration. He's chair of the special committee on immigration.

Thank goodness someone is going to punish employers who hire illegal immigrants. Without a demand, there is no supply. HB 85, which makes it illegal (i.e. a crime and felony) for an employer to knowingly hire an illegal alien, was sent to Rep. Nolte's committee and was never passed into law. The Republicans control the Senate, the House and the Governor's mansion. What's Nolte's excuse for failure on this issue of great importance to him?

Rep. Nolte gets appointed the chair of a special committee and gets nothing passed. Criminalizing people doing the hiring - law and order, baby - is what the Republicans are all about. Why can't the chairman Nolte get things done? Maybe Clay County folks need a new state representative in the Missouri House.

Where's Will Kraus (48th)

Remember that old kid's book - "Where's Waldo." It's South of Brookside!! The new question is Where's Will Kraus (R), the state representative from Lee's Summit?

Rep. Kraus is a non-player in Jefferson City. He doesn't take leadership roles. He's not out in the community. He didn't sponsor a single bill on his own, rather he put his name on bills that others had filed. For example, the very first bill listed on his house website was to restrict claims made by people who were not wearing their seat belts.
Let's get this straight - you are riding along as a rear seat passenger in a car. State law does not require you to wear a seat belt in the back seat. You don't believe the government should be interfering in your decision to wear a seat belt, anyway (Republicans stand for less government interference in your life, right?). Some drunk hits the car you are riding in and you are injured. You make a claim against the drunk's insurance company. The insurance company hires an expert to say your injuries were caused by the lack of a seat belt. Your lost wages and health care bills get reduced because you didn't wear a seat belt, even though the accident was 100% the fault of the drunk. I can see why this would be the very first bill Rep. Kraus would sponsor in 2007.
Is this some big issue in Lee's Summit or just for the insurance lobby? I thought Lee's Summit was facing problems with urban sprawl, providing high quality education to kids, helping the working poor get health care for their kids. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying Will Kraus is evil. As a fellow veteran, I am proud that Will serves in our military. I am confident that Rep. Kraus loves his wife and kids.
I simply think that Lee's Summit deserves more active representation in Jefferson City. Eastern Jackson County deserves better that Kraus being on the Special Committee on Utilities and sponsoring bills that helps big utility companies.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Look Out for "Republican Reform"

When today's Republicans talk about reform, keep one hand on your wallet and the other on your Constitution. They have discovered the old addage that "You don't need to fool all of the people all of the time, just 5o% plus 1 on any given election day."

We are going to have a hell of a fight on our hands defending an independent judiciary in Missouri. Meanwhile, while no one's looking, they are trying to steal the '08 presidential race in California by changing the allocation of electoral votes to a district-by-district system in a June 6 initiative election. See the New Yorker article this week. Same political law firm that got Gov. Davis recalled.

While the wisdom of a winner-take-all rule for EVERY state (including Texas) might be debatable, the effect of doing it ONLY in California would be to let the Republican candidate start out with 20 extra electorial votes!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Say it ain't so, Claire!

When we heard that the Democratic-controled Congress had caved to Bush on the warrantless surveillance, my son asked me "Did Claire vote to let them do that?" I assured him that she would not.

But she did. Ouch!

And in the first year of a six year term -- so there isn't even an election year excuse. (Not that an election is supposed to be a good excuse to trash the Constitution.)

No wonder the people are angry at the Democrats -- and at a Congress that is increasingly seen as "invertebrate". We may have an excuse with the filibuster rule for the Repubs to block good legislation -- but the MAJORITY Party has no excuse to allow bad legislation. We talk a good game, then W whispers "9/11" and we fold like cheap umbrellas.

Not everyone. Rev & Dennis Moore & even Nancy Boyda (far more vulnerable)
stood fast.

I fear that some of our Party have convinced themselves that 2008 is in the bag, and all we need do is nuance our way to victory with a few billion here & there and a bit of posturing on committees. WRONG! We need to give people a reason to get out & vote for us, not stay home or go Naderish. Do you think it may send a bit of a mixed message to attack Alberto Gonzales as untrustworthy and corrupt one day -- and authorize him to tap our phones the next day?

At the very least, our Party leaders need to show some of the courage we demand of the kids we send to Iraq. We send them out in 110 degree heat in body armor, dodging bullets & bombs. You would think the Congress could take a litle political heat to defend the Constitution those kids are risking all for.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Neutral Judges Under Attack from Radical Right

The Columbia Tribune recently published a great article on "Blunt Judges the Judges."

The article traces how the Missouri non-partisan court plan worked for Gov. Ashcroft - including the appointment to the Supreme Court of his chief of staff, Chip Robertson. The Missouri Plan allows lawyers to elect three members from around the state in non-partisan races. The sitting governor appoints for 6 years three lay members to the commission. The governor will obviously appoint lay people of similar political ideals. Add to those six folks the chief judge of the Supreme Court, you get seven people who review the applicants and send three qualified folks to the governor. When Ashcroft packed the Missouri Supreme Court with 7 Republicans (all of whom were qualified), it was after the citizens of the State of Missouri had decided to allow back-to-back Republican administrations. The citizens of Missouri have decided that they wanted 12 years of Democrats and then to elect Gov. Matt Blunt. The Missouri Plan does not allow a governor to come in and change the administration of justice. What a great accomplishment - take the partisan politics out of selecting neutral judges.

The right wing sees the selection of judges as the new gay marriage. You have to give it to the religious right, they know their issues. The greatest victory for for the far right is the appointments of Roberts and Alito to the US Supreme Court. Rev. Pat Robertson had his followers pray for the retirement of liberal supreme court judges so that Bush could appoint conservative ones. Rev. Robertson has even said federal judges are worst than al Qaeda. The Christian Broadcast Network has tons of posts related to the selection of judges.

The Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution stating "WHEREAS, This cherished freedom of self-government has been, and continues to be, threatened in recent years by certain unelected judges, who, presuming to legislate from the bench, have issued decrees that subvert the very foundations of our democratic republic." The Assemblies of God, with their headquarters in Springfield, love to talk about judges, including conversations about how judges stole Christmas. The two biggest religious right faith organizations in Missouri - Southern Baptists and Assembly of God - are laser focused on this issue. Just so happens that the two ministers to speak at Matt Blunt's pre-inauguration ceremony were from the 2nd Baptist Church in Springfield and the James River Assembly of God in Springfield.

How does this play out in Missouri? The Republicans are clearly losing it. Sen. Chris Koster dumped the Republicans because of their crazy positions on stem cells and the attacks on judges. Koster fired Jeff Roe - the lead attacker of the neutral judicial system. Jeff Roe is also employed by Gov. Matt Blunt. Blunt is in trouble with the religious right because of his pro-stem cell position. Missouri Right to Life says Blunt can't call himself pro-life. MRL says "the Governor has broken faith with the tens of thousands of pro-life volunteers around the state who helped elect him. He has broken his pledge not to support using public money to pay for cloning or embryonic stem cell research. He has broken his pledge not to allow any research that uses human embryos created by in-vitro fertilization (IVF)."
So, to get the religious right back in his camp - to play to his base - Blunt is going after the judges. Jeff Roe has started the Adam Smith Foundation to attack neutral judges. Everyone associated with the Adam Smith Foundation, according to Fired Up Missouri, is a Blunt/Roe person. There you have it - the attack on judges is not about good government, it's about getting Gov. Blunt re-elected when the religious right has had enough.
It is really too bad that God has been drawn into politics like this. If Jesus came back today, he would say the same thing now: "give unto Cesar what is Cesar's." Don't worry about the politics, just feed the hungry, care for the poor. I don't see anything in the red letters of the new testament addressing the Missouri non-partisan court plan.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

KC Star: Jeff Roe Gets the Boot

Some may say I have a "man-crush" on Jeff Roe since several posts on the CCP Blog have focused on his nasty tactics, but I really just believe in a healthy discussion about good government. As reported on by the Missouri Politcial News Service, Dan Margolies over at the KC Star made this report about Jeff Roe getting kicked out of Lathrop & Gage:

Lathrop to Roe: 'See ya'

Republican political operative Jeff Roe will soon be looking for new digs.
The law firm that houses his consulting firm, Axiom Strategies, is terminating his sublease.
Lathrop & Gage said it was doing so because it determined that it no longer needed Roe's second-floor space. The move, coincidental or not, comes as politicos allied with Roe, including Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt, heat up their attack on "activist judges." That may not sit well with Lathrop, which boasts several former bar presidents and other legal eminences among its members. Earlier this year, Roe told lawyers at a Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association conference that "... there will be negative campaigns against judges in 2008. That is reality." Lathrop simply said it no longer needed the space it leased to Roe and that it had given its landlord, and Roe, notice of its intent to terminate the lease.

Roe said that his lease runs until March or April and that he'd been dealing directly with the building's owner, an out-of-town outfit. He said he'd only signed a two-year lease, not knowing how successful his firm would be. Roe said he hoped to remain in the space by negotiating directly with the landlord but planned to remain there in any event until the sublease expired. The space houses nine employees, according to Roe, who has his own 20-by-25-foot glassed-in corner office. He said he had two other offices in the metro area but declined to disclose their locations.

Among Roe's notable clients: Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt and U.S. Rep. Sam Graves. Blunt's sister, Amy Blunt, works in Lathrop's government relations department. Like other large and influential law firms, Lathrop boasts both heavyweight Democrats and Republicans on its roster, including Jack Craft (Republican) and Harold Fridkin (Democrat) in its Kansas City office.

Submitted by Dan Margolies on August 2, 2007 - 4:26pm.

Friday, August 3, 2007

GUEST EDITORIAL - Open Letter To Chris Koster from Jason Kander

Dear Senator Koster,

I congratulate you on your excellent decision to become a member of the Missouri Democratic Party. You'll find it liberating, I think, to fight unapologetically for those who need your advocacy most, working families. That said, I urge you not to seek our party's nomination for Attorney General. My hope is that you will instead run for re-election in the 31st District.

I am the last person to talk about the importance of "paying dues," but I do prefer that you contribute to our side of the aisle for a time. I appreciate very much your positions on life sciences, collective bargaining, and the judiciary, and I hope that you'll also find your way to our positions on other important issues, such as reproductive choice, medicaid, and equal rights regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

But before you don the banner of my fine party in pursuit of one of this state's most important offices, I would prefer that you brave a few of the experiences that we in the Missouri Democratic Party have come to know. For instance, while going door to door in the 31st Senate district, how will you answer voters that call you a "baby killer" for your support of women's rights? What will you say to your Republican opponent who calls you a "tax and spend liberal" for your desire to provide healthcare to the working poor? And on civil rights, will you speak up for your fellow Democrats as they champion equality for those in the LGBT community, or will you attempt to fly below the "value debate" radar?

My aim is to give you the benefit of the doubt. I choose to believe you when you say that this is a deeply personal decision and not a case of political opportunism. But that doesn't matter. What matters is that though you regret your actions, such as the punishment of my State Senator and her constituents for her principled stand on MOHELA, you are unable to undo them. And therefore I welcome you to our party with open arms, but I ask that you fight from within our ranks for a time before asking us to fall in behind you.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Jackson County Finances

The Audit Report was released for Jackson County on July 31 -- it had been due on June 30. You may recall that we were told that the County was in the red on Jan. 1, 2007, when 45 merit employees (including the entire environmental program) were terminated. The Audit Report shows on p. 23 that as of 12/31/2006, the General Fund had a balance of $12.56 Million, just as former County Executive Katheryn Shields had said it would.

This is not to say that there is no cause for concern. Remember: For 2005-6 then County Executive Shields recommended employee raises that totaled $4.5 Million (and would have a "forward cost" of $3 Million per year.) The Legislature (approving & matching the raises given by the Prosecutor to his professional and clerical staff) authorized raises totaling $12.5 Million (with an annual "forward cost" of $6 Million per year therafter.)

Because it is primarily a service-provider, a very large percentage of the County's budget is in salaries. And County revenues grow very slowly. Over the first ten years as Exec, Shields had done salary studies, and steadily raised the salaries of County employees to be comparable to private business -- but was always careful that the cost not exceed the increase in County revenues. That is the policy her 2005-6 recommendations would have continued.

Unfortunately, the slow growth in County revenues probably cannot absorb the massive expendatures resulting from the Legislature's 2005-6 salary actions. That means the surpluses in County funds painfully accumulated over the years can be quickly exhausted.

If Jackson County is in financial trouble, the painful truth is that those now in charge are the ones who created the problem -- over Shields' objections. It is important not to amend history on this.

Sen. Chris Koster Switches to a Democrat

Sen. Chris Koster apparently has had enough of the Republican games and is switching to become a Democrat. Koster is running for attorney general. His last financial reports reveals that he took $125,000 from stem cell research supporter Jim Stowers and took in over $100,000 from unions. Looks like his contributors were Democrats anyway.

Maybe Koster has had enough of Republicans and Matt Blunt kicking kids off health insurance. Maybe he felt like crap for calling the previous question (the PQ has been used less than 10 times in the history of the Missouri Senate to stop debate) on Sen. Jolie Justus. Maybe it is the Republican party's constant attacks on the judicial system, since Chris Koster is a practicing lawyer. Maybe the 3-way Republican primary with Hanaway and Gibbons was too much (remember, in primaries, the most liberal wins the D's primary and the most conservative wins the R's primary). Whatever it was, it sure will make a potential special session this fall a political circus.

Republicans are calling on Koster to resign his state senate seat. Some people are calling for Koster to fire Axiom and Jeff Roe (the political attack dog for Congressman Graves). Democrats in Boone County (the home of my favorite AG candidate, Jeff Harris) are crying foul. The Boone County Democratic Party has detailed Koster's votes on corporate pig farms, voter photo ID's, the sale of MOHELA and children's health insurance. For some great quotes from political folks from around the state, check out the Post's page.