Sunday, September 30, 2007

Enough About Hannah Montana

How about some Bruce Springsteen, instead?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Claire Fights War Profiteering

60 years ago, Senator Harry Truman took on those who sought to profit off of war. Today, Senator Claire McCaskill, holding onto Harry's seat, is doing the same.

Senator McCaskill and Sen. Jim Webb (D - Va.) got passed last night an amendment that would establish a Commission on Wartime Contracting

"As a former auditor, I've seen waste before," McCaskill said. "But I don't think I've ever seen anything as outrageous as what's happening in Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of contracting. This commission is an urgent necessity in order to stop the massive mistakes that are costing us billions of dollars. The military will not do this on its own."

Profiteering of the war is criminal. $88 billion of contracts in the war have irregularities. Who is watching the store? Sen. Claire McCaskill is!! She personally worked over Sen. John Warner (R - Va.)

"I must say having been on this Armed Services committee for 29 years with my good friend Senator Levin, we old bulls, as we're referred to, are very impressed with our new member and her vigor and her foresight and her determination to get things done. You've stirred us up, I think, in a very constructive way if I may say," Senator Warner said on the Senate floor.

Want to be shocked at the arrogance of this administration, read this Time article from 1931 to see how Bush/Cheney/Rove have ignored history to line the pockets of the military establishment that General Eisenhower warned us about.

Values = don't discriminate

Usually I get excited, frustrated (fill in the blank) about political stuff and post on this blog. Occasionally, I do silly things like write letters to the editor. This one was published in the KC Star this morning:

I would like to applaud The Star's Editorial Board for supporting the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (9/24 editorial) .

Opponents of this legislation speak of the alleged horrors of gay marriage, preachers being sued and the end of times. The reality is that this bill has nothing to do with marriage, and it provides protection for religious communities that take issue with homosexuality.

The mantra of the civil rights era was to judge a person on character, and not on the basis of preconceived notions about certain groups. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act continues on that great tradition.

My wife and I were proud of Emanuel Cleaver, who spoke in favor of this bill. The only ordained minister of either party in all of the House and Senate, Cleaver, asked "how protecting an individual's right to pursue a job on an equal playing field with equal consideration is promoting homosexuality and hurting the values within their family."

Treating all Americans as equals does not hurt my family.

Allowing all people to compete for employment based on their merits is about as American as cherry pie.

Congrats to Congressman Cleaver for being a strong advocate for equal justice for all.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

How to Win MO in 2008; Go Sam Page

Blog CCP readers already know of my support of John Edwards and Jay Nixon. I can't pick the Presidential candidate for 2008, no matter how many posts about John Edwards I put up. Attorney General Jay Nixon will be primary free in the race for Governor. The latest - and maybe greatest addition - is Dr. Sam Page.

Dr. Page is a state representative from St. Louis. Sam is the only declared candidate for Lt. Governor. Here's what Sam brings to the table: we all know that women swing voters (who don't vote on abortion) put Sen. Claire McCaskill in DC. Sam is a married, a father of 3 and a real practicing doctor. He is an appealing candidate to swing voters. Jay Nixon gets elected with the help of Sam Page. Sam Page gets elected with the help of Jay Nixon.

Whomever our presidential candidate is will benefit from this one-two combo. I like Edwards, but I vow to help out whomever it is that is at the top of the ticket, and so will Dr. Sam Page.

Republicans Want to Change the Rules and then Bite you in the Butt

Don't like the rules, change 'em. Like a girl, bite her in the butt. Those, my friends, are Republican values.

You will recall that there is a move afoot in California to change the way the electoral college works to benefit Republicans. California, like Missouri, has a winner take all approach. Republicans don't want to go to a popular vote, because that assures Al Gore the presidency. Well, this nasty, undemocratic attack has its roots right in River City!! OK, its really Chep Hurth III in Union, Missouri with Take Initiative America . Watch out girls - he's a Republican values kind of guy - he likes to bit girls on the butt (no, I'm not kidding).

Kudos to Blue Blog for breaking this story in Missouri Blogosphere. The Sacramento Bee is writing some less than nice stuff about these Missouri Republicans. Californians want to know who is bankrolling this attack.
Kevin Eckery, a spokesman for the initiative campaign, was traveling Monday and said he did not know who had donated the money to the group."That's all the information I have," said Eckery, who added that the campaign had disclosed "everything we need to."

The San Francisco Chronicle is also beating them up.
Until this week, Missouri attorney Charles "Chep" Hurth III was best known for a headline-grabbing incident a decade ago in which he bit a young female law student on the butt in a bar. Hurth, then a third-year law student at St. Louis University, was taken to court by a young woman who said he grabbed her in a bar and bit her on the buttocks so hard she required medical attention - then laughed and high-fived his friends.

Hurth testified that he had told her she should take it as a compliment.

The female attorney sued him and took something else instead - a jury's award of $27,500 for damages.

Blogshere is alive with humor. How about this zinger "The GOP breathes a sign of relief - at least he bit a woman's ass. And it wasn't in the bathroom."

Chep is the city attorny for New Haven, Missouri. You can email them

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Blog CCP on list of "Missouri's Most Influential Political blogs"

I don't know how this stuff happens, but someone makes a list of Missouri's Most Influential Political Blogs. Well, the CCP Blog comes through at a very respectable #12.

The Blog Net News describes the basis for the power ratings as follows:

BNN's Missouri Blogosphere Influence Rating combines a variety of data sets to determine which blogs are most powerfully influencing the direction of the Missouri political blogosphere. The exact method BNN uses to calculate influence scores must remain proprietary in order to prevent attempts to game the system. BNN's methodology takes into account the fact that all Internet data is profoundly limited in its reliability by using multiple data sets that, when combined, reveal a fair picture of activity in the blogosphere.

Thanks for the recognition.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Edwards Leads Latest Poll in Iowa

The latest SurveryUSA poll shows that Edwards has the greatest chance of beating a Republican in November of 2008.

The poll shows both Hillary and Obama knocking off Thompson, Giuliani and Romney - but by much smaller margins. Iowa voters - who have an enormous say in who our candidate will be - picked Edwards over Giuliani (39 - 53%), over Romney (38 - 54%) and Thompson (37 - 54%).

Our candidate 4 years ago was John Kerry. Remember that in December of 2003 that Kerry mortgaged his homes to infuse over $6 million into his campaign. Cash is not king in a Democratic primary. Kerry came from behind to won Iowa and went from being 15 points down in New Hampshire to 15 points up. I would argue that Kerry lost because he's an East coast liberal that was unelectable in swing states like Ohio and Missouri. Yes, I have perfect vision in hind sight. Yes, I can't call elections correctly in my own back yard. Let's assume, though, that any D nominee could win the states that Kerry won. Who is the candidate that can win Missouri, Ohio, Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida and South Carolina (the states Bill Clinton won)? This is the state that picked Blunt over Claire in 2004 and then picked McCaskill over Talent in 2006. I would argue that Edwards has a better shot at winning those swing states.

Edwards has a great chance on winning the nomination and may have the best chance to win back the White House.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Are You on the Page List?

Sam Page is running for Lieutenant Governor, and, judging from the list of supporters on this invitation, he's not likely to draw any primary opponents.

Intimidation of Judges is the Real Goal

Ever wonder why Jeff Roe would attack Judge Brown from Cole County even though he never met Judge Brown or the person running against him? Why start the Adam Smith Foundation to pick on Supreme Court judges and the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan? Why would Blunt pick on a Republican he was putting on the Supreme Court? We all knew the answer was intimidation, but who would have thought Jeff Roe would admit it?

Check out The Source, Jeff Roe's blog. There's a post entitled Is Conservative Criticism Correcting the Courts? Yes, there has been lots of criticism. Yes, judges are human and have to think in the back of their mind that they could be next on the hit list for simply doing their job. The Source goes about making the case that conservative criticism has effected two recent decisions by a Cole County judge.

As someone who idealizes a judge's role as to be fair, neutral, apply the law and precedent, I hope that no judge has to consider the political ramifications of a legal decision. That would be, dare I say, judicial activism. At least Jeff Roe, Matt Blunt and his bullies are being honest - they want to intimidate judges to rule their way. I sure hope that is not what is being taught in civics classes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Blunt Keeps Emails Secret

Matt Blunt sure likes to attack the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan for its secrecy.

Well, Blunt sure doesn't want to reveal his secret emails. As you will recall, there is a hub-bub about Blunt's administration not giving up their emails. Blunt won't give up emails regarding his chief of staff working with anti-abortion groups. The Post-Dispatch asked him about emails and Blunt said, "Once requested (under the Sunshine Law), and if they exist, they're definitely a public record." Attorney General Jay Nixon's position is 180 degrees opposite: "This is public business, these are public records, this is what we do."

You might also recall the stir about Mr. Torres writing to Matt Blunt regarding the racist comments by Chief of Staff Ed Martin. I made a Sunshine request for the letter and any related emails or correspondence. So, according to Blunt, then those emails are a public record. I got a letter back from Scott Eckersley, Deputy General Counsel for Blunt. "Our office is working to locate and identify records retained by this office that may be responsive to your request."

I'll keep you posted.

Greenspan to Bush: Quit Spending!

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is highly critical of President Bush.

In Greenspan's book, The Age of Turbulence, Greenspan wrote "My biggest frustration remained the president's unwillingness to wield his veto against out-of-control spending." He goes to criticize a string of tax cuts, which resulted in declining revenues. Let me get this straight, Bush spends more, cuts income and that results in a current debt of over $9,000,461,329,297.77. That's the official department of treasury number. At least Democrats tax and spend. Bush just spends, spends, spends.

What happened to fiscal conservatives? In a time of war, I understand we need to spend on defense. Do we really need to give tax cuts to the wealthy?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Missouri House Republicans: Spend Spend Spend!

Tax & Spend & Giveaway; that's our current batch of Republicans.

First they cut the sick and the poor off Medicaid. Then they give away tax breaks to developers. Finally, it is spend, spend, spend. The Republicans have found $200,000 extra dollars and instead of returning it to taxpayers under the Hancock Amendment they spend it like kids in the candy store.

September 17, 2007

TO: All House Members

RE: House Contingent Fund Postage Credit

Dear House Members:

Effective fiscal management of the House Contingent Fund has resulted in the one-time purchase of an additional $200,000 in bulk-rate postage for use by House members. This will result in an additional $1,227 in bulk-rate postage to be available to each House member for mailings prepared by the House Publications office, separate and apart from your House Member Expense Account. This should help relieve fiscal challenges in your member expense account that have occurred due to recent increases in US Postal Service rates.

Specifically, the House Appropriations office has established a method for separately tracking a $1,227 House Contingent Fund Postage Credit in bulk-rate postage costs for each House member to be incurred from postage purchased through the House Contingent Fund. These funds will not be credited nor deducted from your member expense account, as the funds are separately appropriated. The Contingent Fund Postage Credit will be available to you until such time that you exhaust the $1,227 allotment established in your name.

Because this House Contingent Fund Postage Credit purchase occurred as a bulk-rate postage purchase, members cannot use these funds to supplement a member's need for stamps or metered mail costs nor may the credit be converted to cash. Members may only access this Postage Credit through the distribution of a constituent services mailing that is produced by the House publications office and is authorized to contain the House bulk mail permit stamp. All House Publication Procedures and Guidelines will still apply. Finally, members which currently retain an FY 2007 encumbrance for the purpose of a constituent mailing not yet distributed must first exhaust all FY 2007 funds encumbered in their House Member Expense Account before accessing the House Contingent Fund Postage Credit.

Please do not hesitate to contact Chief Clerk Adam Crumbliss at 1-3829 or Joe Roberts at 1-3972 for additional information on this credit.


Kenny Jones


House Standing Committee on Administration and Accounts

What this means is that with Republicans in the majority, this is just a mini-donation to each candidate (yes, to the D's too). This is incumbent (and majority) protection money. Expect Representatives Will Kraus, Jerry Nolte and Jeff Grisamore to pump out an additional mailing to every voter in the district reminding them of how great they are for not fixing medicare or increasing school funding.

Here's a fiscal conservative challenge to Kraus, Nolte and Grisamore - don't blow the money just because you can. Tell the leadership to use it to restore medicare funding and to increase funding to public schools.

"Federalists Hire Swift Boat PR Firm to Sink MO Plan"

The title ain't mine, its from Missouri Lawyers Weekly. The article details how the Federalist Society has employed CRC Public Relations. "At CRC Public Relations, we recognize that results don’t just happen. CRC dedicates itself to the development and implementation of innovative and strategic public relations programs that maximize positive results for our clients." Great, CRC makes crap up to get their clients a win! Too bad we are talking about something sacred like a fair and independent judiciary.

Fired Up! reported on this issue last month (ok, so MO Law Weekly is just a little behind). Source Watch's investigation of CRC reveals the following:

Creative Response Concepts, an Alexandria, Virginia-based public relations firm, "has many links to the Republican Party and the conservative movement," Eric Boehlert wrote September 10, 2004, in Salon.

"Among its clients are the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee. Its client list also includes the Christian Coalition, National Taxpayers Union, Media Research Council [sic] and Regnery Publishing. Regnery is the firm that published Unfit for Command, the SBVT screed against [John] Kerry's military record," Boehlert wrote.

"Interview requests for CRC's clients are routed through the main switchboard at a single telephone number; extensions 108 and 110 at the same number handle Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, while extensions 109 and 130 are for the Judicial Confirmation Network," Todd Johnston wrote July 5, 2005, in ePluribus Media.

Who is the Federalist Society? They believe that "Law schools and the legal profession are currently strongly dominated by a form of orthodox liberal ideology which advocates a centralized and uniform society." In Missouri, the Federalist Society charge is led by Prof. William Eckhardt at UMKC Law School and Attorney Bill Placke in St. Louis . On the US Supreme Court, justices like Thomas, Scalia, Alito & Roberts are Federalist Society Members. If you are a Republican, just put down that you are a member of the Federalist society and Scholzman would hire you!! Add to the mix the Adam Smith Foundation and you have a storm that has been created by an administration that is watching their ship sink and Jay Nixon's numbers sky rocket.

So, what we have is a bunch of right wing zealots who want to switch our nonpartisan system into a partisan one. Placke and Eckhardt endorse changing the system which would allow the governor to appoint whomever (we have seen how Blunt has rewarded his cronies who donate to his campaign) or to allow the sitting governor to appoint the entire commission. The reality is that the Missouri Federalist Society cannot afford to hire CRC, so the Swift Boat Captain funders are at it again!

Beware of people who want to sell off our neutral judiciary! Many a dictator started with the elimination of the independent judiciary.

Monday, September 17, 2007

UMKC Law School Dean Defends Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan

I'm a proud graduate of UMKC Law School. I remain disappointed that Prof. Bill Eckhardt is attacking the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan with factually incorrect statements, but ecstatic that Dean Ellen Suni, is defending the process. Dean Suni has actually practiced law in the state, has taught Missouri ethics and has experience in courtrooms in our state. In short - she knows what she is talking about.

The following is her submission to the KC Star - we will see if they publish it.

Once again, attacks are being made on the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan. When something is working well, the burden of proof lies with those seeking change. That burden has not been met. We already have a strong judiciary in Missouri, and improvement is more likely to come from increased funding for the courts and creation of a citizenry better educated in the importance of judicial independence and separation of powers than from changes in the judicial selection process.

The current Plan works. Not only is it a national model, but it produces outstanding judges. As a lawyer, dean and moot court advisor, I know many of the appellate judges in Missouri. They are extremely competent and committed jurists who do a fine job of deciding difficult cases. Their opinions are well reasoned and fair. Having both won and lost cases in the appellate courts, I have never questioned the fairness, integrity or competence of the judges before whom I appeared.

Contrary to recent suggestions, the Plan is not a secret system that excludes the public. The nonpartisan judicial Commissions include lawyers elected by members of the state Bar and lay members appointed by the Governor. While the names of those being considered by the Commissions are confidential, this is necessary to attract strong candidates. Most high-level public and private searches today are confidential, and judicial searches require nothing less. With an appropriately selected Commission, confidentiality in the screening process is not an evil.

Finally, the Missouri Plan works to keep partisan politics out of the judicial selection process. It prevents money being spent on judicial campaigns that create name recognition rather than provide information about the qualifications of judges. It also avoids unseemly judicial elections that divert judges from their core functions and encourage political contributions that can lead to skepticism about the impartiality of later decisions.

If we truly want to continue to have a strong judiciary in Missouri, those who think we are not doing enough should shift their attention from attacking the Plan and work instead to increase funding for the courts and improve civics education as it relates to the Third Branch. With improved resources and better citizen understanding, our judiciary can more effectively play the important independent role it was assigned, and which is so necessary, in our unique constitutional democracy.

The defense of the Missouri Plan is coming from Republicans, Democrats and scholarly professors. Maybe, just maybe, if intelligent moderates can agree that the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan is good, then Matt Blunt is wrong.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Red Letter Christians

This month's Esquire Magazine features the Esquire 100, a "register of emerging ideas, trends, discoveries, products, people, and obscene gestures you should know about before everyone else does." One of the entries is Red Letter Christians. Nothing like mixing religion and politics as our friend John Ashcroft and the religious right have done for years, so here I go, again.

No. 91 - Red Letter Christians

The Reverend Jim Wallis suggests this experiment: "Go to a street corner and ask 'What do you think of evangelical Christians?' You'll get a lot of adjectives like angry, hateful, intolerant."

The D.C. based Wallis and his allies across the country say they want to reclaim a gentler Jesus for evangelical Christianity. In 2005, they formed a loose-knit group of evangelical pastors call the Red Letter Christians. (The phrase comes from the color of the words of Jesus in some old Bibles.) Instead of focusing their wrath on, for instance, gay marriage, their issues are poverty, the environment, peace and education.

Wallis and his colleagues, such as the Baptist minister Tony Campolo, say they aren't Republican or Democrat, but their politics are definitely more that Fox News. Bono is an honorary member. And surveys show that up to 35 percent of evangelicals do not consider themselves part of the religious right. Wallis's network alone has almost 700 churches. They are likely to be a small but influential factor in the 2008 election.

Tony Campolo defines a Red Letter Christian as "Believing that Jesus is neither a Republican nor a Democrat, we want to unite Christians who are concerned about what is happening in America." Campolo goes on the say "We are evangelicals who are troubled by what is happening to poor people in America; who are disturbed over environmental policies that are contributing to global warming; . . . and who are broken-hearted over discrimination against women, people of color, and those who suffer because of their sexual orientation."

Here's a challenge find some red letters, the words of Christ, that discuss gays. Looks like Congressman Cleaver is not alone in his desire to see discrimination against gays to end.

Friday, September 14, 2007

No Way Out

"No Way Out" is a film must-see for anyone who loves this Country -- and would like to see how we got into a war of choice, and ran it so badly. Take a Republican friend. Go easy on the popcorn, because this may make you sick. The indictment of these fools comes from the lips of their own guys: Gen Jay Gardner and Asst. Sec. of State Richard Armitage (who must know where every body in DC is buried, to speak so frankly and still keep his job).

What we did to that poor country is criminal in both the moral and legal senses of the word. What we did to our own soldiers is as bad. Four thousand dead troops and an army shattered. Custer took better care of his men. I will never understand how W or Chaney can go to a VFW convention and not get booed -- or tarred & feathered!

Jay Bremer could conduct a seminar on How to Start an Anti-American Insurgency. And you just want to ask Colin Powell "What price honor?"

This Administration better hope the atheists are right, or they will be spending a long time with Osama in some very warm digs.

Nixon to Blunt; Give the Corporate Money Back

Everyone is aware of the Missouri Supreme Court's holding that the unlimited campaign contributions statute is unconstitutional. The Court asked the Ethics Commission to determine on a case by case basis whether candidates would have to return the excess contributions.

First, Nixon has said he is giving the money back.

“When Matt Blunt eliminated contribution limits, he cleared the way for lobbyists and corporations to give millions to candidates,” Nixon said. “This was a clear step in the wrong direction. I believe that we need to reduce, not increase, the amount of access and influence that lobbyists and big corporate types have on our system.”

Now, Jeff Harris, candidate for attorney general, is doing the same. "Missourians want leadership, not candidates who seek to skirt the law by exploiting legal loopholes for their own personal gain."

The Ethics folks are going to require candidates - like Matt Blunt - to prove a hardship. If Blunt applies for a hardship, then Nixon will whack him with whatever excuse he makes for not returning $3 million. If Blunt does return it, then he is on a level playing field with Nixon.

Pressure's on - is returning money to the folks who financed the Swift Boat Captain attack ads a hardship or not, Matt Blunt? How about donating it to Operation Breakthrough?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Grisamore (47th) Weak on Public Education

Rep. Jeff Grisamore (47th) is weak on public education. He can co-sponsor a resolution calling for early childhood education, but falls short after that.

Rep. Grisamore represents much of Lee's Summit. I have many friends in Eastern Jackson County and they love their public schools. The Republicans in Jefferson City sure aren't helping out Lee's Summit's schools. Grisamore told the Missouri State Teachers Association he wanted to find sustainable funding for public schools. What has he done - nothing!! The Federal Government has said Missouri Schools are failing under No Child Left Behind. The Lee's Summit Journal has written about the difficulty in Lee's Summit schools complying with MAP tests and No Child Left Behind. The Lee's Summit School District's own web site discusses the confusion regarding the district receiving a less than desirable rating under No Child Left Behind.

The funding of public schools in Missouri and Lee's Summit is so dire that a new bond issuance was sought in Lee's Summit and this Q & A appears on the Lee's Summit web site.

Q: What percentage of the R-7 budget is funded by the state? How has this declined?

A: The impact of state losses on our local schools is apparent when examining the R-7 budget’s declining percentage of state funds. The Missouri Foundation Formula goal is to fund 50 percent of local school district operating budgets, although Lee’s Summit R-7 has never received close to 50 percent of its funding from the state. During the 1998-99 school year, state funding made up 35 percent of the R-7 operating budget. By the 2004-05 school year, state funding of R-7 schools dropped to 31 percent. Other categories of state aid appropriations have also been reduced significantly, impacting total state funding included in the R-7 budget. Across the state, the average percent of public school district revenue coming from state funding is almost 35 percent.

Grisamore has done little in Jefferson City, including ignoring his important work on the Environmental Committee and ignoring the Catholic church's call to restore Medicaid cuts to the poor and the sick children of our state. What has Grisamore done to improve funding from Missouri for Lee's Summit schools - nothing. He is a member of the majority party, so there is no excuses. Maybe we need a different party in the majority. Former Representative Bob Johnson continues to flirt with running for this seat. Run, Bob, Run.

Jeff Roe = Adam Smith Foundation

There has been some minor debate regarding whether Jeff Roe is the brains (yes, he is intelligent) behind the attacks on a neutral judiciary and behind the Adam Smith Foundation. Let's put that to bed.

Jeff Roe leads the charge to knock off Judge Brown from Cole County.

Jeff Roe tells the KCMBA Bench Bar Conference he knocked off Judge Brown to prove it could be done. He also promises to stay involved in judicial campaigns and to do it again because that is how he makes money (he's honest, too).

The Missouri Political News Service is a TX based group, which is linked on The Source (Jeff Roe's blog).

The Missouri Political News Service's ONLY paid advertisement is for the Adam Smith Foundation. The Missouri Political News Service has blogged nine times favorably about the Adam Smith Foundation.

Jeff Roe rented space from Lathrop & Gage, where Amy Blunt works. Lathrop & Gage did the corporate work to set up the Adam Smith Foundation.

Matt Blunt - who has employed Jeff Roe's Axiom Strategies and attending the open house of Axiom at the Lathrop & Gage building - makes numerous attacks on the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan. Some reports show Matt Blunt, Lathrop & Axiom all in bed together.

Former Blunt Appointment Secretary James Harris is an organizer of the Adam Smith Foundation and set up the Wikapedia entry for the group.

Let there be no doubt, Jeff Roe is the brainchild behind the Adam Smith Foundation and the attack on the judiciary. My congrats go out to Jeff Roe for a well organized, well financed, multi-level attack on this respected intuition of government. You said you could do it and you did.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

How do you screw up so bad, W?

Six years ago today, the headline in the largest newspaper in France was "Nous sont tout Americains!" We are all Americans! The world was with us, ready to kick terrorist butt -- even Iran was on our side.

Six years, four thousand dead troops, thousands of wounded troops, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi casualties later, it is possible we are slightly better respected then North Korea. And nearly as bankrupt. Terrorists recruit by our policy. The Constitution is shreded by his merchants of fear.

That is the Bush legacy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Supreme Court Musings

Gov. Matt Blunt pulled the trigger on the Supreme Court. He appointed Court of Appeals Judge Patricia Breckenridge, with only a minor slap in the face.

Blunt said she was "the best candidate of the three candidates submitted to me." You know what, neither Bond nor Ashcroft when appointing Breckenridge to judgeships back-handed her like that. She is smart, qualified and deserving. She's a R, I'm a D, but as an advocate of good government I am proud that the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan worked well, ONCE AGAIN. It worked for Ashcroft, Blunt, Carnahan and Holden; why is it only broken for Blunt? Maybe because Blunt doesn't understand that everything isn't supposed to be partisan. Blunt said "I believe that Judge Breckenridge can improve the Missouri Supreme Court by replacing one of its most liberal members." Who said it needs improving? If it does, it will be because of intellectual fairness and protecting the Constitution, not by appointments of partisan conservatives (which, Breckenridge is not)

It is important to note that this was a fight started by Matt Blunt and Jeff Roe and financed by folks who want to purchase justice.. Jeff Roe took out Judge Brown in Cole County and this movement grew wings. The opposition is not Democrats. Blunt/Roe's opposition are people who want fair judges, people who want good government (i.e. good Americans, both R & D). Jeff Roe's Missouri Political News Service says Judge Breckenridge is "the best choice with a poor system." OUCH!! The Adam Smith Foundation says she takes "her post on the Supreme Court under a cloud of doubt." BAMMM! Ultra-conservative groups are beating on Blunt stating "Gov. Blunt has evidently caved in and decided to abide by that very process. Too many politicians have suffered the fate of trying to have issues both ways, and this may be the final strike for Gov. Blunt." ZINGGG!

The group that formed to defend our justice system - - has both R's and D's. Chip Robertson was an Ashcroft appointee to the Supreme Court and issued this statement:

Missourians for Fair and Impartial Courts applaud the governor for upholding his duty and exercising his prerogatives under the constitution.

Gov. Blunt has demonstrated his allegiance to the Missouri constitution and to Missouri’s 70-year history of leading the nation in selecting judges according to a nonpartisan selection method. The Governor took an oath to uphold the Missouri constitution and he has upheld that oath by selecting one of the Supreme Court nominees from a panel put forth by the Appellate Judicial Commission.

Well, that's an olive branch. I love a conspiracy, but I can't make sense of this. Republicans attacking Blunt for appointing a Republican. You can bet this only helps out Attorney General Jay Nixon. Let's just hope that the Republican representative who work at Shook Hardy & Bacon (Rep. Pratt and Yates) realize that this is a dead issue and they do not attempt to amend the Missouri Constitution.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Part 2: Blunt's Chief Makes Racist Comments (without apology)

KC Blue Blogger beat me to it. As noted last week, Joe Torres, the legislative liaison for the MHDC, wrote to Governor Matt Blunt about Ed Martin's racist comments. Tony's KC broke this story. I've made a Sunshine Law request (there's a helpful form on soon to be Gov. Nixon's web site). KC Blue Blogger got the letter and here's the good parts:

I am the proud grandson of Mexican immigrants who came to this country to provide a better life for their family and unlimited opportunities for their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. My mother’s family were migrant farm workers. My father’s family were railroad laborers. My uncles all served honorably during WW II and fought for our country on D-Day and during the Normandy invasion; the Battle of the Bulge; Iwo Jima; Guadalcanal and Okinawa. They were highly decorated with two Bronze Stars; a Purple Heart and many other commendations. My father served honorable in the U.S. Navy. He also served in the U.S. Army and fought in three major battles during the Korean War.

I am extremely proud of my Mexican heritage, culture and especially my family and I will not let anyone demean or degrade it, least of all Mr. Martin.

In your letter to MHDC on or about August 29th, you directed the Commissioners of the Missouri Housing Development Commission, and I am paraphrasing, “to address this emotional issue in a dignified manner that shows respect…” If you stand behind those words, I strongly encourage you to take any and all actions to ensure that Mr. Martin’s inflammatory language is never again repeated in a public or private meeting. Lastly, I am respectfully asking you to direct Mr. Martin to issue a public apology at the beginning of the September 14th MHDC Commission meeting and have it included in the official record of the meeting.

The following folks are calling for a resignation and an apology:
Coalition of Hispanic Organizations (COHO)
Kansas City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce- Missouri
Kansas City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce- Kansas
Kansas City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce PAC
Communication Workers of America (CWA)
Teamsters Missouri Hispanic Caucus
Daniel Romero, President of Inter-Faith Workers Justice
Rita Valenciano, President of Coalition of Hispanic Organizations
Mario Rojas, Teamsters Hispanic Caucus
A.J. Villegas Jr., Representative CWA District 6
Lynda Callon, Westside CAN Center
Theresa Garza, Jackson County Legislator-At-Large
Nicholas Moreno, Legislative Assistant to Jackson County Legislator Theresa Garza
Mike Talboy, State Representative
Leonard Hughes IV, State Representative
Paul Rojas, Former State Representative
Lali Garcia, La Raza and Westport Political Club
Enrique Chaurand, Vista Communications
David Moreno, Vice-President UAW Retirees Council

Friday, September 7, 2007

Blunt's Chief Makes Racist Comments

Governor Matt Blunt's Chief of Staff, Ed Martin, is revealing this administration's true colors.

First raised on Tony's Kansas City, Ed Martin was asked at a Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) about how to determine if there are illegal immigrants and he responded "I'll tell you what's available to every developer in order to figure out who's illegal. When there's a bunch of Mexicans out there, there's probably some of them who are not legal." Bunch of Mexicans!?!? Maybe out of the mouth of Semler, the Minuteman, but out of the mouth of Blunt's chief of staff?!?!!?

Tony's KC and KC Blue Blog are all over this story and are calling for heads to roll.

Here's the latest - Jim Torres (who works for MHDC) has written a letter to either Blunt and/or Martin condemning the comments. Torres is not a political hack, just a government servant. He happens to be Hispanic and I am told a very bright, hard working public servant. He's standing there, so apparently there was a "bunch of Mexicans." I have made a Sunshine request (since Blunt is now such a friend of Sunshine) to get a copy of the letter. The results will be posted here. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Cleaver Stands Up for Civil Rights for All

Rarely am I just proud - tickled pink proud - of an elected official. Most of the time they strive to do what is right, but I don't get excited. Congressman Cleaver makes me stand up straight and salute the flag proud.

Yesterday Congress debated whether you should judge people by the content of their character or if we should discriminate. The Bill was HR2015 "ENDA" and would have prevented work place discrimination based on sexual orientation. The only ordained minister in all of Congress - from either party - Rev. Cleaver, spoke in favor of the bill. Here are 3 paragraphs from Cleaver's speech

Before I was elected to Congress, I, very happily I might add, considered my only full-time job to be that of Senior Pastor of St. James United Methodist Church in Kansas City Missouri. Against all odds and Wesleyan Tradition, I have held this appointment for 30 years. However, now I have two full time jobs. I still remain Senior Pastor at St. James while I serve as the Representative of Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District. The role as pastor will never leave me, and I will never leave it. I am compelled to go home and preach every Sunday. I will pastor and counsel all people until I return to my maker. And I say here now, with absolute conviction and confidence, that an individual’s sexual orientation has nothing, absolutely no connection with my God’s issued mandate to minister to their needs, including their right to barrier-free access to employment. Three of the greatest sins, I believe, are indifference to, neglect of, and disrespect for God’s other sheep. I will not delve too deeply into the politico-ecclesiastical details of my position. Suffice it to say, none of the major world religions, certainly not the three monotheistic religions, believes that God endorses discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Opponents of this legislation argue that homosexuality and transgender identity are “unnatural,” “immoral,” or that someone else’s sexual orientation offends my religious senses. Let there be no doubt. I am certainly pro-marriage. As an ordained member of the clergy, I have performed more than 400 hundred heterosexual weddings and I have been happily and fortunately married to the same lovely woman for three decades. Nonetheless, to this I say, those opposing the legislation have their issue confused. We are not discussing whether a state should recognize an individual’s right to marry. That was, is, and shall, hopefully, always fall to the wisdom of the state legislatures around the country. Although it is much too often discussed in Congress, marriage is not a federal issue. Today we are trying to further extend the rights of individuals who have been marginalized and discriminated against and denied legal federal protection for an equal playing field when they seek employment.

Further, the opponents of ENDA are concerned about creating a protected class that promotes homosexuality and thus negatively impacting the institution of marriage and family values. They cite the profusion of local laws on the subject, and suggest that country-wide protection is unnecessary. Again, I ask how protecting an individual’s right to pursue a job on an equal playing field with equal consideration is promoting homosexuality and hurting the values within their family? Moreover, I say to these naysayers the current draft of this legislation goes beyond every previous incarnation of the legislation to protect small businesses and religious-based organizations and institutions that may preach against and hold tenants opposing same sex orientation. There are protections within the measure, so as to exempt these groups who have centralized these values of marginalization and separation.

Free Craig!!!

As strong supporters of the rights of the accused we should all urge Sen. Craig to make every effort to clear his good name. We should all hope that the judge in Minneapolis does the right thing and lets him withdraw his guilty plea and go to trial on these charges.

Preferably a long, drawn-out trial -- through next October, perhaps -- so that all of America can see how truly innocent he is -- or how carefully his Republican pals covered for him when he was being a cowardly hypocrite! Who put the pressure on the House page to withdraw his complaint? What did the Senate Republican leadership know when they gave him the committee assignments that they so publicly withdrew?

Frankly, I'm not sure Craig did anything illegal -- and the libertarian in me questions whether his arrest is appropriate. I hope he beats the rap. But we all know this is not about whether what he did should be a crime or not.

No one should care whether Sen. Craig has an inordinate likeing for Idaho spuds or Idaho studs. But he has gone out of his way to make life difficult for so many people because of their sexual orientation -- and he was such a sanctimonious SOB in the Clinton impeachment -- that he deserves to be roasted. It's not about the "crime". It's not about the sex. It's about the hypocrisy.

Why Edwards Can Carry Missouri and Who is Wes Shoemyer

Who is Wes Shoemyer and why is John Edwards smiling so darn big?

Sen. Wes Shoemyer (D) is the hope for Missouri Democrats. He is the state senator from Northeast Missouri, a farmer and the key to Democrats taking back the majority in Jefferson City. Wes knows what it takes to win in rural Missouri. Wes was asked about the possibility of a Clinton campaign. “I think in rural Missouri, a candidate that is not such a lightning rod would be a candidate that would be much better for rural Missouri,” Shoemyer said. That is why at Hannibal Days that former Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell and Sen. Wes Shoemyer endorsed John Edwards for President.

Daily KO's has focused on Edwards work in Missouri. Edwards is smiling because he knows that folks like Sen. Wes Shoemyer are like the folks that participate in the Iowa caucus. Edwards knows that New Hampshire voters fully understand that you have to win not only the liberal states, but also the swing states (like Missouri). US Senator Claire McCaskill had to neutralize the Republicans in rural Missouri to win her Senate seat (which led to taking back control of DC). Senator McCaskill did so by announcing her campaign for senate at her family's feed mill and promising to "never forget rural Missouri." Whomever the Democrats nominate must do the same in Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Arkansas to win the White House.

Run, John, Run!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Border War Continues - Blunt and Republicans Screw Up Tax Code

In the latest of the ongoing nightmare of Blunt and Senate Republicans screwing with tax policy, it looks like the Kansas Legislature has recruited KS Attorney General Paul Morrison (D) into the fight and Missouri is going to get sued in federal court.

As a refresher, Senate Republicans sneaked into a bill an item that increased by $11 million dollars the taxes on out of state workers. Basically, KS residents who work in Missouri and file Missouri tax returns could not deduct other taxes they have paid, according to the KC Star. Don't get me wrong, as an MU season ticket holder, I like to kick the Jayhawks around as much as possible. Tit-for-tat tax wars, however, is a waste of time.

Here's the embarrassment. First, Matt Blunt says he doesn't care about other states and Kansas Republican Rep. Kenny Wilk says “That’s just an example of Governor Blunt’s youth and immaturity on full display,” Next, Sebilius writes to Blunt asking him to fix it. Then Blunt says he wants to fix it, but doesn't include it in the special session where he just gave away $67 million in tax breaks for developers. Rep. Mike Talboy (D-Mo) did all he could do to get this tax problem fixed in special session, but Blunt didn't care.

This is another sad example of why Matt Blunt and his lack of leadership and inability to get things done is hurting Missouri. Blunt ineffectiveness is causing Missouri to get sued. We need someone with some leadership ability, someone like Jay Nixon.

Missouri's Schools Suffer under Blunt and Nolte

Parents of Missouri school kids have known it for a long time, but now even President Bush recognizes that Missouri's schools have been back sliding under the Blunt Administration.

All the papers in the State have reported that Bush's Department of Education determined that "Missouri has demanded too little of its schools and reprimanded their shortcomings too slowly." Zollie Stevenson, chief of federal Student Achievement and School Accountability Programs, and leader of the team that reviewed Missouri says "The state needs to be more proactive — actually going out and monitoring." The KC Star reports Missouri could lose major school funding dollars.

Not only are our schools not performing, but they underfunded. Missouri legislators, like Rep. Jerry Nolte (R) in Gladstone, did not attempt to 1) increase funding or 2) make a more equitable funding formula. Half the school districts have sued the state for underfunding. Regardless of the outcome of the suit, its a bad thing for half the school districts to know they are underfunded. What does Nolte due to improve our schools? He co-sponsored a HJR1 that would strip Courts of the power to determine under the Missouri Constitution if schools are adequately funded. Nolte sure doesn't want anyone telling him to take care of Gladstone school kids.

So Bush's Department of Education gives our schools a F, half the school districts have to sue the state because they are underfunded and Nolte's solution is to beat up on the Courts. Maybe the solution is to get rid of Representative Nolte and Gov. Matt Blunt. The solution is to elect Terry Stone and Jay Nixon.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Graves Votes to Support Dogfighters Like Vick

Everyone hates dog fights, especially the dogs. The public outcry over Michael Vick and his dog fighting operation is entirely justified.

Everyone, but Congressman Sam Graves. The Humane Society organized a protest outside of Graves office in Liberty (where Jeff Roe is the democratically elected auditor). Graves voted against the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act, the majority of Republicans voted for this bill. Even President Bush signed this law.

What is Sam doing besides listening to Jeff Roe? Both are out of touch with the nation and N.W. Missouri farmers. Time to elect Kay Barnes.

Grisamore (47th) Bucks Missouri Catholic Conference, votes against restoring Medicaid cuts

I have a great fondness for the social justice Catholics. The Missouri Catholic Conference (MCC) and I may disagree on stem cell, but we agree on many things. St. Peters in Brookside actively campaigned to get Medicaid cuts restored - you know the sheep and the goats analogy - care for the sick and the poor. If you take care of sheep, then you are in. Otherwise, you are with the goats. Matthew 25:31

This is the official position of the MCC on HB 444 - "The MCC advocates that the millions lost by providing this tax cut instead be used to restore vital state services such as Medicaid health coverage." The MCC then lists Rep. Jeff Grisamore (R) as being against HB 444. Why would Grisamore buck the Missouri Catholics when all they are wanting to do is in a strong financial year restore health care to the poor? Full disclosure - not every Democrat voted for HB 444, but not a SINGLE Republican voted for it.

"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

Blunt Gives Away Appointments to Big Donors; why not to destroy the Missouri Plan

Gov. Matt Blunt has shown an uncanny ability to give high level appointments to big donors. The best example is Rudy Farber - $50,0000 in donations - Missouri Highway & Transportation Commission. Now let's see, do we really want lawyers seeing who can donate the most to Matt Blunt to get an appointment to the Missouri Supreme Court? Its bad enough that Farber - a rich Republican hack - gets to decide who gets their road paved first. It is down right disgusting to think a rich political hack from either side (let's not forget, Missouri swings back and forth between R and D) would be deciding your case and granting pay backs.

The Missouri Plan is not perfect, but it does not reward campaign contributions. Gov. John Ashcroft was kept in office for 8 years and because the majority of Missourians liked him, he ended up getting to appoint the entire Missouri Supreme Court. Ashcroft never complained about the Missouri Plan of selecting neutral judges. Ashcroft never hired an attack dog like Jeff Roe to orchestrate an attack on the non-partisan court plan. Hard for me to say this, but Ashcroft played by the rules, i.e. the Missouri Constitution. His last appointment was Chip Robertson (Ashcroft's own chief of staff). Chip is no Democrat, but he supports the Missouri Plan.

Justice should be blind (and yes, Attorney General Ashcroft, she's also partially naked). Justice and judges should not be sold off to the highest donor as Gov. Blunt has done with the rest of our state government.