Monday, December 31, 2007

Edwards Leads Latest Poll in Iowa

Here's what I know about polls in Iowa - they don't count for much. Nevertheless, if your candidate is in the lead, your shout it from the mountain top. Here's the latest poll from McClatchy/MSNBC:

Edwards 24%
Clinton 23%
Obama 22%
Richardson 12%
Biden 8%
Dodd 2%
Kucinich 1%
Gravel >1%
Undecided 8%

For an interesting read on how Edwards has spent the last four years securing rural caucus votes, check out Newsweek's Edwards: A Sleeper Candidate?

For months, Edwards has been rounding up support in the state's rural precincts where the front runners have paid less attention. While Obama and Clinton have drawn crowds in the thousands in places like Des Moines and Ames, Edwards has been winning over people in tiny towns like Sac City (population: 2,189). Even if he loses to Obama and Clinton in the state's bigger cities, he hopes he can still win by wrapping up smaller, far-flung precincts that other candidates have ignored. "The bulk of our support is in small and medium counties," says Jennifer O'Malley, Edwards's Iowa state director. O'Malley says Edwards has visited all 99 counties in the state; the campaign has so far trained captains covering 90 percent of all 1,781 precincts. Rural voters are sometimes reluctant to caucus, so the campaign has been enlisting respected community leaders to encourage first-timers to get past their apathy or fear.

One thing you can bank on, Iowa will give both the Republicans and Democrats a surprise. My uneducated, out of touch, biased predication - the first vote in the urban caucus meetings will go like the poll above. Rural voters are all sporting a "Hogs for Edwards" bumper sticker due to Edwards opposition to corporate pig farms, so the rural caucus numbers will be big for John. Since you have to have 15% of the vote to survive to round II (which Richardson and Biden won't get), the Richardson/Biden votes will split between Edwards and Obama because these voters want big change. Edwards wins Iowa, Obama a close 2nd, Hillary is 3rd.

Kline for Jo Co Judge

Think that the folks running the Johnson County, Kansas Republican Party went too far by putting Phil Kline in as prosecutor, wait till they make him a judge!

Yesterday's KC Star had an informative article by Diane Carroll on attempts in Kansas by the same extreme conservatives who gave Johnson County Phil Kline as prosecutor to rid the state of nonpartisan judges.

In Kansas, voters elect judges in 14 of the state’s 32 judicial districts. In the 18 other districts, including the 10th Judicial District of Johnson County, judges are appointed by the governor after input from lawyers and citizens. The judges face a retention vote every four years.

Tim Golba of Lenexa led the petition drive to place the judicial issue on the ballot, as well as the one that seated a grand jury to investigate Planned Parenthood. He said he wants judges who are fair. But he also thinks judges should share their views on issues such as abortion and school finance and be held accountable to the public.

So instead of nonpartisan judges, the anti-abortion crowd wants judges to preview their judicial opinions. Screw the facts of the case, who cares about applying controlling law - tell us how you will rule and we will elect you passed on that. Who cares if it violates the ethics rules for judges.

Thankfully, there is some intelligent opposition that points out there is not a single decision by single Jo Co judge that merits dismantling a successful nonpartisan plan.

Attorney Greg Musil, who leads a citizens group formed to oppose the measure, called Johnson Countians for Justice, said switching to elections might sound good at first blush. But once people understand that the motivation behind it is to fill the courts with conservative judges, they might feel differently, he said.

Musil said he has asked ballot proponents numerous times to point to one outrageous decision made in the last 20 years by any one of Johnson County’s 23 district court judges, four of whom serve in the more limited role of magistrate judges.

“To date, I’ve not heard one from anybody,” Musil said.

Attacks on the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan - whether it is in Kansas or Missouri - are designed solely to get partisan hacks with agendas on the bench. Let's hope that Johnson County voters beat this initiative into the ground like they did Kline's attorney general campaign.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Funk Open for Pot Shots

Don't just take cheap shots on a blog at our mayor, do it in person! Here's an exciting press release. The questions are which town hall meeting will require security and will he be bringing his wife(y) and will he do one on the West side?

Mayor Mark Funkhouser will hold two town hall meetings in January. The hour-long town hall meetings begin with a 15-minute introductory address followed by 45 minutes of questions and comments from the audience.

Wednesday, January 16 at 6 p.m.
1709 Highland
Hosts: Memorial Missionary Baptist Church

Wednesday, January 30 at 6 p.m.
14 West 10th St.
Central Library 5th Floor Auditorium
Hosts: Downtown Neighborhood Association

If you are interested in hosting a Town Hall Meeting, please contact Crispin Rea in the Mayor's office: 816-513-3503, or

You do have to tip your hat to Funk for having the spine to show up and take the spanking that he knows is coming.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

KC Star Praises Mike Sanders

In the feel good political article of the year, the KC Star simply praises County Executive Mike Sanders.

While pointing out a few bumps with the firefighters union, the article notes that Mike has developed excellent working relationships with members of the Jackson County legislature. Balancing the budget, lots of communication and open government is what the county government has been about this last year.

After years of discord, the County Legislature and the county administration got along in 2007 — which may be the most notable achievement of County Executive Mike Sanders’ first year in office.
Sanders made some tough decisions in 2007, not all of them well-received. He is most proud of bringing spending in line with revenue, although he slashed 142 jobs and took heat for backing tax support for agencies outside county government. But Sanders has quietly ushered in a new era, said Legislator Dennis Waits.

Congrats to Mike on this great article

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Religious Right Tears Apart Republican Party via Huckabee

The Buzz on A2 of the KC Star had this little tid bit:

Arianna Huffington writes that Huckabee's poll surge is partly the result of decades of Republicans capitalising on evangelical voters as "just a resource to be cynically exploited every few years in demagogic anti-gay get-out-the-vote campaigns.

"But now the holy-rolling monster the GOP's Dr. Frankensteins have created has thrown off the shackles, fled the lab, and is currently leading in Iowa. And the party doesn't know what to do."

In Missouri we are all too familiar with the religious right's hold on the Republican party. Right here in Jackson County we see Senator Matt Bartle attacking on Warren Erdman (former chief of staff to Senator Kit Bond) for an appointment to the board of curators because of right to life issues. We see Sen. Chris Koster quiting the Republican party based, in part, on the stem cell issue. We also see the far right's favorite political consultant, Jeff Roe, being retained by Huckabee to push him on his blog, The Source. It should also be noted that the religious right - who is already disenchanted with Gov. Matt Blunt - can't be happy with Blunt backing Mitt Romney. There are too many examples of the religious right dictating Republican policy to even mention.

The Republicans have a problem here in Missouri. Folks are tired of Jeff Roe attacks. They are sick of extreme candidates. In Missouri, swing voters decide every election and suburban women ain't going to vote for a Huckabee. Here's hoping Huckabee gets the nod.

Monday, December 24, 2007

God Bless the Family Farm

It is Christmas Eve and it will be a white Christmas. One of the small highlights is making cookies with my kids. We needed eggs, so we use Campo Lindo eggs, with the little note tucked inside.

Good day from Campo Lindo Farms,

Old man winter sure is coming in with a bang, isn't he?! Since we're just a little north of Kansas City, we really got a lot of ice last week and it certainly made some chores more challenging! Imagine carrying around a crate with 360 eggs while walking on slippery ice. Amazingly enough, we've only had one incident (so far) of slipping on the ice and breaking several eggs. Believe me, the only one smiling when that happens is Michel Angelo, our barn cat, who gets to clean up the mess. Thanks for supporting a local, very sparkly because of the ice, family farm.

Carol, Jay, Brando & Isabel.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Koster Receives National Attention: New Republic Magazine

Our little attorney general race is catching national media play. Below is a very informative article from the New Republic on Chris Koster.

Meet the moderate who proves the GOP is losing the heartland.

"As much as we would all like to believe the General Assembly is a 'Mr. Smith' kind of entity, the reality is that these institutions are far more like a tug of war," says State Senator Chris Koster, as we sit over coffee at the Courtyard Exchange. "If you are going to go down there, you have to get on one side of the rope or the other, and I realized I was on the wrong side of the rope."

Koster was elected a state senator in 2004 as part of a swing to the Republican Party in Missouri. The Show-Me State, once considered the archetypal swing state, seemed to be going Republican, with the GOP taking the governorship and both houses of the General Assembly. Koster quickly rose to become the chairman of the Republican caucus and the vice-chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, and was widely thought to be the Republican choice to succeed Democrat Jay Nixon as attorney general in 2008. But on August 1 this year, Koster suddenly announced that he was switching from the Republican to the Democratic Party; he is now trying to win the Democratic nomination for attorney general.

Koster's defection comes on the heels of party switches last year by prominent Republicans in neighboring Kansas. Like Kansas Attorney General and former Republican Paul Morrison, Koster is a self-identified moderate who found himself at odds with what he calls the "religious extremism" in the Republican party. His defection is further evidence that in the Midwest, Democrats, once seen as left-wing extremists, are beginning to capture the coveted center. They are the party to whom "moderates" have begun to gravitate.

Koster, 43, is a red-haired and lanky former prosecutor with a deep baritone and a commanding presence. He's not the kind of person one would want to face in a courtroom, though he is still learning the skills of talking to political reporters. He repeatedly prefaces his sentences with the telling adverb "candidly," as if to suggest that he is about to reveal dark secrets.

After graduating from the University of Missouri and its law school, Chris Koster landed a job in the office of Republican state attorney general Bill Webster. "Candidly, that is how I ended up a Republican," he says. While in Jefferson City, Koster became friendly with lawyer and later judge Barbara Crancer, the sister of Teamster President Jim Hoffa. In 1994, when Koster ran for public prosecutor in Cass County, he won partly on the strength of an endorsement from the Teamsters Union's powerful Local 41. Koster was a very successful prosecutor--working with Paul Morrison, who was then a prosecutor in Kansas's neighboring Johnson County, to convict serial killer John E. Robinson.

When the Democratic State Senator retired in 2004, Koster ran for the seat, winning on the strength of his record as public prosecutor and the support of organized labor. In Cass County, which had been Democratic since the Civil War, he became the first Republican to hold that office in over fifty years.

But Koster was by no means the kind of conservative Republican that has reigned in Washington since 1994. Instead, he was the kind of Republican once very common in the Midwest: pro-business, but also friendly to labor; nominally conservative, but not pious or punitive on social issues. Think, for instance, of retiring Ohio congressman Ralph Regula or former Illinois Governor James Thompson or current Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter.

While backing Republican tax and spending proposals, Koster broke with colleagues who opposed increases in the minimum wage and were seeking to repeal the legislation that provided prevailing wage agreements. Koster, who, with the state senate only a part-time gig, took a job with a Kansas City law firm specializing in personal injury suits, also opposed Republican efforts to reduce awards for workers' compensation and to protect insurance companies from lawsuits. But his disagreement over these issues wasn't what finally convinced Koster to switch parties. It was the debate over stem cell research that consumed Missouri Republicans after the 2004 election.

With the Republicans in charge of the governor's mansion and of both houses of the General Assembly in the wake of the '04 election, Senate Republicans, prodded by Missouri Right To Life, introduced a bill that would have made it a felony to engage in basic kinds of stem-cell research. Koster, by his own admission, was "very close to the issue." His father, who died at age 58, had suffered from diabetes, one of the diseases for which stem cell research may develop a treatment, and had lost his eyesight in his last years. Even today, Koster chokes up when talking of his father's early death. Koster was also worried about the growing reluctance of the multi-billion dollar Kansas City-based Stowers Institute to invest in medical research in the state because of the hostility toward stem cell research.

Koster, breaking with many of his fellow Republicans, led the opposition to the anti-stem cell bill, and with Democratic support, was able to kill it. Then in the 2006 election, Koster was the only Republican State Senator to back Amendment Two, which allowed any kind of stem cell research in Missouri that was legal under federal law. But the controversy didn't end with the passage of Amendment Two. This year, Koster has fought attempts by his fellow Republicans to put an amendment on the ballot in 2008 that would repeal it. "In 2007," Koster said in his August 1 statement, "the issue of stem cell research has clearly divided along partisan lines. The Republican Party is against embryonic stem cell research. The Democratic Party is in favor of the research. I choose to fight alongside those with whom I agree."

Koster had initially planned to run for attorney general as a Republican, but he recognized that he would face the determined opposition of Missouri Right-to-Life, perhaps the most powerful interest group in the Missouri Republican Party. Political advisers told him that if he wanted to win the Republican nomination, he would have to stop talking about stem cell research. That was clearly a factor in his decision to switch parties. He was inspired, too, by the example of Morrison, in Kansas, who had switched parties to run for attorney general. "Candidly, you know the fact that Paul jumped first and that he and I were the same kind of centrist politicians, gave me a comfort level."

But there is a difference between Morrison and Koster. As I found when I interviewed him in Topeka, Morrison is above all a lawman. He doesn't like to discuss anything that impinges on political ideology. But Koster is much more of a politician, and in the months after he has made the switch, Koster--no longer constrained by his desire to rise within Republican ranks--has become a full-fledged Democrat. He talks about being "progressive" rather than "conservative." Koster, following the lead of many scientists, reserves judgment on whether the new method of creating stem cells from skin cells will work on human cells, but he acknowledges that by the fall of 2008, stem cell research may no longer be an issue in Missouri. He touts his support for worker rights and the minimum wage and for an independent judiciary--against a proposal by the state's Republicans to replace the non-partisan method of choosing judges. He has won the endorsement of the Teamsters and the Building Trades and is receiving financial support from the state's trial lawyers, who see him as one of their own.

Much of the changes in Koster's views are subtle, demonstrating how in the face of the Republican shift to the far right, moderate Republicans can easily become moderate Democrats. When he ran for state senate in 2004, Koster, who is Catholic, described himself as "pro-life." But in explaining what that means, he told the Kansas City Star that he "would limit abortion to the boundaries set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court." When he arrived in Jefferson City, he says, he discovered that "the term 'pro-life' means something different inside the Capitol than outside. There are a lot of Catholics who would say they are pro-life, but if they were asked whether they would criminalize abortion, they would say they wouldn't go that far. In the assembly, [pro-life] means you would criminalize." Accordingly, Koster the Democrat now describes himself as "pro-choice," but his views on abortion have not changed. He supports Roe v. Wade, but would also support "some common sense restrictions," including parental consent.

Koster could very well lose the Democratic nomination. Missouri is not Kansas, where Morrison, after he switched parties, had an easy path to the nomination. Missouri has always had a competitive Democratic party. Koster has two serious challengers who, among other things, are trying to brand him as an opportunist and to tie his views to those of a wealthy Republican who has contributed to his campaign. That might work in the Democratic primary, even though Koster would make a formidable general election candidate. But regardless of the outcome, Koster's defection is a blow to a Republican party in Missouri that had once counted him among its leading lights--and another nail in the coffin of Karl Rove's long-term dreams of a Republican realignment in America's heartland.

John B. Judis is a senior editor at The New Republic and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Missouri Plan - just the Honest Truth

The Missouri Non Partisan Court Plan is frequently attacked by some on the far right wing. One of the best summaries of the plan can be found at Gone Mild in a post entitled: The Complete Honest Truth About the Missouri Plan

Jeff Roe Backs Huckabee, with Rep. Yates

OK, call me a conspiracy theorist.

Here's a post by Steve Kraske on Buzz Blog:

The Mike Huckabee bandwagon appears to be racing through Missouri.

On Monday, Missouri backers of Huckabee are set to announce endorsements from 27 state lawmakers. Among them are a slew of Kansas City-area Republicans, including state Sen. Matt Bartle of Lee’s Summit and state Reps. Brian Baker of Belton, Will Kraus of Raytown, Brian Yates of Lee’s Summit and Bob Nance of Excelsior Springs.

Those endorsements, his supporters say, will give the former Arkansas governor the endorsement lead in Missouri. In second place, the Hucksters say, is Rudy Giuliani with 13 legislative endorsements.

Many of those Missourians will invade Iowa for the final two weeks of the campaign. At the helm of Huckabee’s Missouri campaign: Jeff Roe of Axiom Strategies in Kansas City

In a sign of what may be coming down the road when State Senator Matt Bartle is term limited out in 3 years, Jeff Roe and Rep. Brian Yates seem to be on the same team. That leaves Rep. Bryan Pratt out in the cold. Recall that both Rep. Pratt and Yates work at the same law firm and enjoyed some joint publicity in an article entitled "Devil's Advocates; Two Shook Hardy lawyers continue the firm's dark legacy."

Like him or love him, Sen. Bartle has the Eastern Jackson County Republican primary voters on his team. Bartle's endorsement will mean a lot. Those Eastern Jackson County Republican primary voters like Sen. Bartle and Gov. Huckabee. I bet Rep. Yates has already hired Jeff Roe and that he wins the Republican primary.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Corporate v. Family Farm

The fine folks over at Gone Mild had an interesting post - "Koster the Imposter Brought Home the Bacon." The post discussed corporate pig farming (CAFO's).

Some of the comments discussed local farms, in particular Campo Lindo. I am big fans of their eggs, and chickens. Why buy their eggs, which are expensive (even without the costly antibiotics)? Because every carton of eggs includes a note from the people who own the farm. On this Sunday, when snow covers the ground, the little note I discovered in my egg carton made me feel warm.

Hello from Campo Lindo Farms,

Someone mentioned to me yesterday that they had been told that we are currently getting eggs from other people and selling them in our cartons. I just want to let you all know that we do not do that. "Our ladies" are the only ones doing the work for us, hence the recent shortages. Our young layers are finally getting with the program, so hopefully we'll be in good shape in time for Christmas cookies! Thanks for being patient with and supporting a local farm where "the ladies" do a lot of the work.

Carol, Jay, Brandon & Isabel

Friday, December 14, 2007

KC MO Council Revolts!

We have seen all the banter back and forth about the Funk(y), Mammy, Semler(y), police escorts to the "black side of town(y)" and IPhones(y). One of the most thoughtful responses from a member of City Council, Cindy Circo, is below:

A message from Cindy Circo
December 14, 2007
Dear Friends,

I wanted to provide you an update on the issue regarding the City Manager, Wayne Cauthen. I know many of you have called my office this week regarding this issue.

Yesterday, myself, along with eight of my colleagues on the city council, approved a new 3 ½ year contract with the City Manager. Since early summer, we have been in negotiations with the City Manager on a new contract. I was under the impression that these were good faith negotiations.

However, on Monday, when the Mayor unilaterally stated that he was not going to sponsor the ordinance to renew the city manager's contract, I was stunned. I believe the council has not sought nor want discourse with Mayor Mark Funkhouser. What I firmly believe is that the Mayor's action set a precedent for any future action of this administration and more importantly the future of Kansas City's form of government. I do not believe that the City Charter granted the Mayor the authority to act in the manner that he did. Any City Manger in Kansas City not only works at the pleasure of the Mayor but also the pleasure of the Council.

This issue is not about the Mayor. And it is not about Mr. Cauthen. It's an issue that gets at the very core of the council-manager form of government and I believe that was threatened by the Mayor's actions earlier this week. My vote was cast on behalf of the citizens of Kansas City in order to protect our charter, our form of government, and yes, our democracy.

I will encourage the Mayor and Council to continue to work together and do what is best for Kansas City. I am committed to serving you and will work hard to make Kansas City an even better place to live, work and play. We have too much at stake and we must continue to move this city forward.

As always, please don't hesitate to contact me if there is ever anything I can do to assist you.

Happy Holidays to you and your family.


Agree or disagree with Councilwoman Circo, you have to give it to her that she is intelligent, thoughtful and right on about the need to work together to move KC ahead.

Boy Governor's Latest Plot Against Children

Hold the presses! After three years in office, the Boy Governor has just noticed that raping children is a bad thing.


He wants to execute child rapists -- a really bad (if emotionally satisfying) idea. First of all, the death penalty is both expensive and useless as a deterrent. BUT IT GETS WORSE! If you make any crime but murder a capital offense, it provides an INCENTIVE to murder the victim, to reduce the chances of ever being charged & convicted. Eliminate the victim as witness, since you can only be executed once.

That is where the old saying "As well be hung for a sheep as a goat" comes from, Matt. It's in all the law books. Ask a lawyer -- if you can find one still talking to you. Even proposing execution for such a crime actually endangers the children we want to protect -- even if we never get around to executing anyone.

So is the Boy Governor so dumb he does not realize that he is actually endangering child victims -- or so desperate to be reelected that he does not care?

Or does the answer really matter?

President Claire McCaskill

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's blog is reporting on a great new book, "The Political Brain, the Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation."

The theory is that people vote with their hearts, not their heads. We need passion, not just an alternative to George W. Bush. To get Americans out to vote, they have to have something they are excited about. The author of the book, Drew Westen, threw in this little tid bit about Missouri's favorite Senator:

“Personally, I think if Hillary Clinton is not our first female president, my money is on Claire McCaskill, who has a wonderfully folksy way about her — along with a very sharp mind — and who manages to blend traditional femininity with the toughness of a prosecutor, in a way that allows us to activate both of our models of womanhood: the more unconscious ones that come from (most of) our experiences being raised by a woman, and our more conscious values, which are more egalitarian.”

Those of us from Jackson County already know that she is all that and more. Senator McCaskill would be a great president, whether she is the first woman president or not. Heck, she be a great choice for a VP, too. She's sitting in Truman's chair, might as well follow his path to the White House, too.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Representative Nathan Cooper (R) gets 15 months in the big house

You will recall that Republican State Representative Nathan Cooper pled guilty to federal charges that he steered temporary work visa to illegal aliens for his clients in in the trucking industry. Republicans love profiting off illegal aliens!!

This blog discussed Nathan Cooper several times. You know, things like Rep. Nathan Cooper and Rep. Jerry Nolte determining that abortion is the cause of illegal immigration. KC Blue Blog was the first to call on Cooper and the Republicans to give the tainted money he raised in a single golf tournament (65,000) to charity.

Fired Up pointed out the Cooper got half the sentence recommended by the federal sentencing guidelines, passed in part of 32 letters of support that were filed under seal. Don't you wonder which Republicans went to pat for their pal? Which Republican with ties to Blunt think we should go light on an attorney who uses his political power to help corporations profit off of low wage illegal immigrants?

I think Matt Blunt, who called for openness during Supreme Court nominations, should call for openness during the sentencing of some one who supports profitable illegal immigration. Surely Blunt's buddy, U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway, would listen and petition the court to make the letters open.

She's Back . . .

Sen. Jolie Justus is back to blogging. Check out her blog, Fresh Meat. Her insights from session are insightful, honest and refreshing.

The Missouri Senate is much more interesting (and liberals have a much stronger voice) with Jolie in Jefferson City.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Barnes Plaza at Sprint Center

In 2003 Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes put forth a vision for a downtown arena. A public/private partnership formed among AEG, Sprint and the the National Association of Basketball Coaches resulted in Kansas City's newest landmark, Sprint Center. In recognition of Mayor Barnes efforts, the City of Kansas City and AEG have named the plaza in her honor.

The dedication ceremony is December 15th from 1:30 - 2:15. Come join is this great celebration. Congratulations Congresswoman Barnes!

New Democratic Blog

The Jackson County Democratic Committee is becoming extremely active. They have hired a new executive director, Jessica Podhola. They have also started a blog - go check it out.

Republican Poll Shows 71% of Missourians Like the Nonpartisan Court Plan

This blog spends lots of time talking about the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan, mostly because it is being attacked by the radical fringe of the Republican Party, including Governor Matt Blunt, Jeff Roe and the Adam Smith Foundation. Who can blame Blunt, his ship is sinking and judges are easy to pick on. Attorney General Jay Nixon is raising just as much money as Blunt in the governor's race (now that campaign contribution limits are back in place) and Blunt's choice of Mitt Romney isn't selling well with the Religious Right in Missouri.

Public Opinion Strategies - a Republican organization - conducted the study for Justice at Stake, Missourians for Fair and Impartial Courts, and the Missouri Institute for Justice.

A few highlights of the poll:

Bipartisan majorities oppose many of the proposals to change the system recently floated by critics, while 73 percent of those surveyed want Missouri judges to be independent of elected officials like the Governor and state legislature.

By a ratio of more than two to one, voters believe that the Supreme Court of Missouri makes its decisions based on the state’s laws and constitution, not the personal beliefs of its seven members. Self-identified Republicans are the most likely to feel this way – 68 percent of Republicans polled feel law trumps ideology for decisions made by the state’s highest court.

Only 1 of every 50 Missouri voters see changing the way state judges are selected as a top priority for the Governor and state legislature. Voters are far more likely to cite health care, taxes and government spending, and public education as top priorities.

Don't look for the fringe to give up - until they can get thier wackos on the bench, they won't be happy. The Rule of Law is not the goal, its obtaining thier version of justice (which ain't justice for all).

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Crime & Punishment; Koster gets FOP endorsement

Koster, who is running a campaign for Missouri Attorney General based on being an experienced prosecutor, picked up a key endorsement from the Fraternal Order of Police.

Koster was the Cass County Prosecutor before running for Missouri Senate. Voters love police officers - “I am honored to receive the endorsement from the state’s police,” said Koster. “Law enforcement is the top job of Missouri's Attorney General and I am proud to have the support of those who know law enforcement the best.” While prosecutor, Koster made national talk shows for his work in the John Robinson case (the guy who was killing women and putting them in barrels). I'm anti-death penalty, but if a guy ever deserved it, its John Robinson. Current KS AG, then Johnson County KS prosecutor, Paul Morrison, was the first to try Robinson (securing the death penalty). Koster entered a plea that allowed Robinson to get life in prison.

Crime and Punishment - general voters love it. Congrats on this important endorsement.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Environment Takes Lead in Politics

The Democratic Party has always been the home of environmentalists. Global Warming issues have propelled Al Gore pack into the spotlight with his Nobel Prize. The Sierra Club has been a constant critic of the Bush Administrations pro-oil policies. Democrats and environmentalists go hand in hand.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr recently endorsed Hillary Clinton and is spending time in Iowa. In Missouri, those involved in helping keep our world clean and safe are keenly aware of politics, not just green house gases. For example, the Missouri Coalition for the Environment recently emailed its members urging them to contact Sen. Kit Bond to help save wilderness areas of the Mark Twain Forest. The Missouri Sierra Club has opposed coal burning plants.

A key issue for all of these environmental groups is CAFO - large corporate pig farms. According to an EPA study, a CAFO with 4,000 hogs can generate as much waste as a city of 16,000 people. A Class 1A CAFO (17,500 hogs and above) can generate as much waste as the city of St. Louis. The Sierra Club opposed pro-CAFO measures in Missouri. The Missouri Farmers Union (the anti-Farm Bureau) opposed CAFOs. The Missouri Rural Crisis Center, progressive, statewide membership organization that works to empower farmers and other rural people, opposed CAFOs. A group called Concerned Citizens of Platte County opposed CAFOs. National groups such as FactoryFarm.Org are even focused on Missouri.

Here's how this becomes an issue. In Iowa, the #1 bumper sticker is "Hogs for Edwards" because John Edwards has come out strong against CAFO. The issue gets Democratic primary voters energized. In Missouri's AG race, Koster supported CAFOs, Harris and Donnelly opposed. We will see if this turns into anything or not.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Bush in History

In 408 days, the Bush presidency will end. (That is, barring some wild Cheney/Rove spasm of historical exceptionalism, on a scale beyond even the Supreme Court appointment that marked the beginning of the regime.) And, we will blink in the dawn of a new era, wondering what in the hell that was about. And the Bush regime will begin to be placed into historical context.

Ironically, the proverb "History is written by the victors" has many attributions, reflecting the uncertainty and even falsity of much we accept as "history". A few more colossal military screw-ups, and our greatest President may have been recorded as the final and most inept President of the formerly United States. "What if" games can lead to all kinds of altered visions, with history's villains triumphant, and history's heroes vilified.

But the process of assessing presidents in the popular mind is far less binary. Nixon has become a paranoid, flawed master of foreign policy. Reagan is widely viewed as a dim-witted simpleton with a sunny smile who surrounded himself with corrupt thugs (though a few hold-outs still remember him as "morning in America"). Kennedy, well, heck, you can't even mention him in some circles without genuflecting, though serious study reveals a far less saintly Jack.

A common theme in presidential assessments is that truly negative views cannot hold. As Americans, we cannot stomach the thought that one of our leaders was actually a bad person. As noted above, even Nixon, who resigned when he hit the depths of disapproval to which Bush has sunk, has gained a more generous stature than anyone thought possible when he left office. At the time, he was a slimy, despicable crook, but now he has risen to a competent president with a flair for talking with the Chinese, whose fatal flaw was too much concern about being reelected.

The truth is that W needs an upgrade in reputation. The truth is, grade school students in 2050 aren't going to look at the large sheet of oval portraits, focus on Bush (he may attract attention for being the last in that consecutive string of white males) and learn what really happened. No teacher is going to stand there and say "At the turn of the Century, Democrats fell under the control of a bunch of incompetent, gutless party leaders, and the Republicans fell under the spell of the Christian right, and the voters elected Gore, but the Supreme Court preferred Bush, the war-criminal, who soon launched one understandable war and then one inexcusable, evil debacle that destroyed our country's standing in the world."

America in 2050 will not believe how bad Bush has been. We, as a country, need to believe that our path has been righteous, and always toward the light. We even gloss over the Spanish-American War these days, as a 6 month adventure in helping other countries gain their independence from Old Europe. In a few more years, the Bay of Pigs will either drop entirely out of mainstream history books, or be upgraded to a valiant effort that inspired the Cubans to hold on for another 50 years until Castro died.

My imagination fails me as to how we can remake W, though. He launched a brutal, bloody war against a country that had not attacked us and posed no threat to us, reprising the role of Hirohito. He gave us secret prisons and people "disappearing", ripping a page out of what we had thought was Stalin's playbook. He made us torturers, and rendered the Geneva Conventions "quaint", drawing from the Pol Pot genre. He accepted a presidency that wasn't his to accept, in the best tradition of tin-horn third-world "presidents". He played guitar while New Orleans drowned, like a modern-era Nero. How do we cobble together an acceptable portrait out of this historical Frankenstein of ill-chosen parts?

My suspicion and hope is that Bush will be remembered in the manner of Lyndon Johnson - a kind of forgotten war-time president whose focus was on a war he couldn't win or end. We'll have to forget that, unlike Johnson, Bush started his war, and chose it with an eagerness that led him to skew intelligence. We'll have to forget a whole lot about Bush.

It's going to be a slow, painful process to forget about Bush. Forgiveness of the person, of course, is going to be beyond the ability of many of us, but fixing what he has done to us will be difficult enough that it will provide plenty of distractions.

Some will read this and complain that it's not fair that Bush will get off lightly for his misdeeds. I agree - he's a war-criminal and an uncaring leader serving the interests of the wealthy. But history has never been a fair and just narrative. It's about creating a story we can live with. America will not be able to live with the truth of George W. Bush. In 408 days, we must begin to reinvent him.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Koster - "A Man Without A Country"

Tim Hoover from the KC Star penned a very interesting article; Koster's party switch in Missouri leaves hard feelings on both sides of partisan fence.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans are happy with Chris. From all I can tell, and based upon human experience, the R's are really ticked and the D's are glad he's on our team, but open arms are not yet extended. Think of it as if the QB from your high school arch rival (in my case, Ozark), moved into your town (i.e. Republic) and challenged your QB for the starting job. You are glad he's not the QB for Ozark any more because he's really talented, but you have known your QB since 4th grade.

To carry the analogy too far, now Koster is running for Football Homecoming King in Republic. Kids from Ozark certainly don't get to vote. Heck, Nixa and Rogersville don't get to vote. That is why Dr. George Connor of Missouri State University is right - Koster is "a man without a country." Here is what you need to know about Dr. George Connor - he wears ties made out of wood. Bow wood ties; regular length wood ties. So, he's unstable which makes him a good person from which to get a quote. Second, he is an extremely tough professor who works folks so hard that they never want to go to law school (which is his stated purpose). Finally, he tried to talk my wife - the smartest, prettiest girl ever to be in the SMSU political science department - out of marrying me (but, he was not alone in that unsuccessful effort).

Hoover's article is insightful because it points out that both the Republicans and Democrats are gunning for Koster. Gov. Matt Blunt is weak because the first thing he did was kick 100,000 off Medicaid. Koster was with him. The two other D candidates (Rep. Jeff Harris and Rep. Margaret Donnelly) for Missouri AG opposed Blunt's effort. Donnelly (who has hired D political stud Richard Martin) and Harris (who has the deadly one/two/three combo of Roy Temple, Julie Gibson and Vince Currao) are going to clip Koster at every chance. Republicans in the Missouri Senate can only see their old QB lined up on the other side of the ball. The Republicans will take an unsportsman like conduct penalty for the chance to put a helmet in Koster's back.

Here's hoping this fight doesn't ruin our chance to take back the governor's seat and keep the AG in the D column. Also, when I (very poorly) played football in Republic, we didn't have those cool stripes on our helmets, which is why we were called the pumpkin heads.

Rats Abandon Sinking Ship - Herschel Resigns

The KC Star is reporting Henry Herschel, the general counsel for Gov. Matt Blunt, has followed former Chief of Staff Ed Martin out the door.

Henry Herschel presided over the Sunshine Law debacle of destroying emails, Scott Eckersley being trashed by his own party, Ed Martin making a fool of himself and the entire administration being knocked off track. I'm sure Henry will be welcomed back to Jefferson City for his deposition in Eckersley's case.

Makes perfect sense that he is exiting stage left, but do you really want a new chief of staff, a different general counsel and a bunch of strangers running around while Matt Blunt has the biggest race of his life on the line?