Monday, March 31, 2008

Professional Thinkers

I try not to read, it only makes me think. It also makes me question my opinions and beliefs. No wonder Republicans are cutting funding for schools.

The latest text has been Porch Talk: Stories of Decency, Common Sense, and Other Endangered Species by Philip Gulley. The author is a Quaker minister and is on Indiana PBS. Despite Mr. Gulley having written several books, this is my first. The ministers at my church occasionally suggest books to read and somehow this Quaker's musings made the list.

One chapter relates the story of how when Gulley is asked his profession, rather than admit to being an author and then being faced with the response of "I've never heard of your book," Gulley simply responds that he is a professional thinker. With his homespun, Midwestern story telling ability, the Quaker pastor hits one home:

Despite our need for professional thinkers, our country has lately been relying on amateur thinkers. They populate radio, television, and the Internet, spewing their invective in the name of wisdom and common sense. Though wearing the guise of the thinker, they care less about knowledge and more about propaganda, trading in the party line, the half-truth, the telling wink. They speak with forked tongues and crossed fingers, ask God to bless their efforts, wrap the flag about their shoulders, and then strangle the freedoms they claim to love.

There ought to be a law that all thinkers, professional and otherwise, must foreswear all allegiances, resign from all factions and parties, and abandon all preconceptions before undertaking their work. Except for me, of course, who alone of all the professional thinkers is able to remain above the coarse partisanship of human exchange

How quickly I can read this passage, yet jump to criticize the religious right or even praise Obama. The passage from Matthew suggesting that I worry about the speck in my neighbor's eye when there is a 2X4 stuck in my own surely comes to mine.

Lembke's Latest Attack on Neutral Judiciary Fails!

Rep. Lembke attacks the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan and neutral judges at every corner. It is good to see some of his attacks rejected by even his fellow Republicans.

Frequent readers will recall that Rep. Lembke (who is running for state senate) sought to have a judge impeached because he did not like her ruling. Rep. Lembke started writing the judge and using his influence as a state legislator to help a friend. When we tried to get the documents, the Republicans would not release them in response to a Sunshine request.

Well, Speaker Rod Jetton has shut down the impeachment effort. Even Republicans think Rep. Lembke is nuts!

From the Lake Sun Newspaper:

An attempt by a state representative from the St. Louis area to have Associate Circuit Judge Christine Hutson investigated for possible impeachment failed. . . Lembke said the Nolands approached him after hearing him speak at a meeting last year. Lembke is one of several Missouri legislators pushing for more control over judges. Lembke attempted to use the case as an example of why judges need more oversight. The issue, he said at the time, was the decisions made by the judge. In particular, Lembke disagreed with the custody settlement.

From Rep. John Burnett:

Rep Jim Lembke (R-St Louis) dealt major setback in impeachment effort

Lembke has been one of the loudest and most outspoken critics of lawyers and the Judiciary in the past few years in the House. And in that atmosphere to be one of the louder critics of judges requires some lung strength. He had recently requested impeachment proceedings be started against a Laclede County Judge because of what he felt were mistakes in a divorce case. Speaker Rod Jetton denied the request to begin impeachment proceedings. Remains to be seen what his next move will be on that case. Lembke's Resolutions attacking judges and the Missouri Court Plan to choose judges remain alive and well and lurking in the wings awaiting further action any day now.

When you hear about the far right wing Republican attacks on the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan, know that this is what they want. Rep. Lembke wants to be able to influence judge's individual decisions. Let's hope that the voters in St. Louis don't put him in the Senate. Fired Up Missouri reports that Lembke's race for the 1st Senate District is facing problems because he is not cozy enough with Missouri Right to Life.

I am supporting Former State Representative Joan Barry in her race against Lembke for the 1st Missouri Senate seat. Please contribute to her campaign, we don't need to see Lembke in the senate where he can do even more harm

Dueling Endorsements in the 44th

The 44th State House Seat is being vacated by Rep. Jenee Lowe (a wonderful Democrat!).

Two of the three candidates have brandished some dueling endorsements. Jason Kander has had a fundraiser headlined by City Councilwoman Jan Marcason (a CCP member). Amy Coffman has long held the endorsement of Rep. Beth Low (a CCP member). She recently picked up the endorsement of Sen. Jolie Justus (a CCP member).

So, for all you political science junkies, what effect will these endorsements have on this race?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Long Defeat

An interesting take on the Presidential primary from David Brooks:

Hillary Clinton may not realize it yet, but she’s just endured one of the worst weeks of her campaign.

First, Barack Obama weathered the Rev. Jeremiah Wright affair without serious damage to his nomination prospects. Obama still holds a tiny lead among Democrats nationally in the Gallup tracking poll, just as he did before this whole affair blew up.

Second, Obama’s lawyers successfully prevented re-votes in Florida and Michigan. That means it would be virtually impossible for Clinton to take a lead in either elected delegates or total primary votes.

Third, as Noam Scheiber of The New Republic has reported, most superdelegates have accepted Nancy Pelosi’s judgment that the winner of the elected delegates should get the nomination. Instead of lining up behind Clinton, they’re drifting away. Her lead among them has shrunk by about 60 in the past month, according to Avi Zenilman of

In short, Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects continue to dim. The door is closing. Night is coming. The end, however, is not near. Last week, an important Clinton adviser told Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen (also of Politico) that Clinton had no more than a 10 percent chance of getting the nomination. Now, she’s probably down to a 5 percent chance.

Five percent. Let’s take a look at what she’s going to put her party through for the sake of that 5 percent chance: The Democratic Party is probably going to have to endure another three months of daily sniping. For another three months, we’ll have the Carvilles likening the Obamaites to Judas and former generals accusing Clintonites of McCarthyism. For three months, we’ll have the daily round of résumé padding and sulfurous conference calls. We’ll have campaign aides blurting “blue dress” and only-because-he’s-black references as they let slip their private contempt.

For three more months (maybe more!) the campaign will proceed along in its Verdun-like pattern. There will be a steady rifle fire of character assassination from the underlings, interrupted by the occasional firestorm of artillery when the contest touches upon race, gender or patriotism. The policy debates between the two have been long exhausted, so the only way to get the public really engaged is by poking some raw national wound.

For the sake of that 5 percent, this will be the sourest spring. About a fifth of Clinton and Obama supporters now say they wouldn’t vote for the other candidate in the general election. Meanwhile, on the other side, voters get an unobstructed view of the Republican nominee. John McCain’s approval ratings have soared 11 points. He is now viewed positively by 67 percent of Americans. A month ago, McCain was losing to Obama among independents by double digits in a general election matchup. Now McCain has a lead among this group.

For three more months, Clinton is likely to hurt Obama even more against McCain, without hurting him against herself. And all this is happening so she can preserve that 5 percent chance. When you step back and think about it, she is amazing. She possesses the audacity of hopelessness. Why does she go on like this? Does Clinton privately believe that Obama is so incompetent that only she can deliver the policies they both support? Is she simply selfish, and willing to put her party through agony for the sake of her slender chance? Are leading Democrats so narcissistic that they would create bitter stagnation even if they were granted one-party rule?

The better answer is that Clinton’s long rear-guard action is the logical extension of her relentlessly political life. For nearly 20 years, she has been encased in the apparatus of political celebrity. Look at her schedule as first lady and ever since. Think of the thousands of staged events, the tens of thousands of times she has pretended to be delighted to see someone she doesn’t know, the hundreds of thousands times she has recited empty clichés and exhortatory banalities, the millions of photos she has posed for in which she is supposed to appear empathetic or tough, the billions of politically opportune half-truths that have bounced around her head.

No wonder the Clinton campaign feels impersonal. It’s like a machine for the production of politics. It plows ahead from event to event following its own iron logic. The only question is whether Clinton herself can step outside the apparatus long enough to turn it off and withdraw voluntarily or whether she will force the rest of her party to intervene and jam the gears.

If she does the former, she would surprise everybody with a display of self-sacrifice. Her campaign would cruise along at a lower register until North Carolina, then use that as an occasion to withdraw. If she does not, she would soldier on doggedly, taking down as many allies as necessary.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Not just 4000 "troops" died in Iraq.

4000 sons and daughters, fathers and mothers.

4000 hopes and dreams and plans.

We must not forget this. All of us -- those of use who were right on the foolishness of this war from the beginning and those who came late to the realization that we were misled (in every sense of the word) -- must unite to end this madness.

When we asked these kids -- and from my age, all were kids -- to risk their lives for our country, we made a tacit promise to spend those lives wisely, to never trade their blood for oil. It is a promise we broke.

We are so far in that getting out will be slow and difficult. We cannot just "declare victory and run for the boats." But our duty to those who gave their lives is not to spend more lives foolishly seeking a military "victory" that cannot exist. No one wins a hundred year war.

Our duty to the dead is to keep faith with the living.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Statewide Democratic Primary fights

Although tomorrow is the last day to file for the August primary, there certainly has been a lot of recent activity for the Democrats. We now have in the Lt. Gov race: Michael Carter of St. Charles, Dr. Sam Page of St. Louis, Richard Tolbert of Kansas City and Becky Plattner of Grand Pass. In the Treasurer's race: Dr. Charles Wheeler, Clint Zweifel, Andria Simckes and Mark Powell. In the Attorney General's race: Jeff Harris, Margaret Donnelly, Chris Koster and Molly Williams. What are the chances that the MO Democratic party chairman John Temporiti will be able to talk any of these individuals out of running in order to avoid a potential nasty primary season?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

More Proof Geraldine Ferraro is an Idiot

Those of us who are paying even a little bit of attention hardly needed more evidence that Geraldine Ferraro's recent comment that Barack Obama is "lucky" to be an African American was, well, let's just say . . . "uninformed." However, I got it today when I looked at the Kansas City Star website's breaking story on a running gun battle that ended up at 63rd and Brookside Boulevard - an incident that apparently had its start near Prospect and Swope Parkway. The comments posted after the article were, to say the least, shocking in their racist vitriol - so shocking that the Star apparently decided to pull the plug on the "discussion" by deleting all the posts.

Periodically, especially when we start feeling so smug and self-satisfied about the fact that an African American is actually poised to be elected President of the United States, it takes moronic comments like those of Ms. Ferraro juxtaposed with the spew that found its way onto the Star's website today to quickly remind us that there is nothing "lucky" about being anything but white in America.

Corporate Pig Farms

Attorney General candidate Rep. Jeff Harris has filed a bill to protect our water ways from corporate pig farms (CAFO's). He's also produced this little video that explains why KC MO folks need to be worried about this environmental issue.

Here's the summary - the crap from a corporate pig farm in St. Joe spills into a stream, the stream leads to the Missouri river, KC MO Water is pulled from the Mighty MO and then I have fecal matter in my water.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Towards Separation of Church and State

The words of a preacher being used to taint a politician makes me sad, almost as sad as priests prohibiting imperfect sinners from sharing in communion. Some of Obama's preacher's words I disagree with, some I don't. Some of the things I heard growing up in Republic First Baptist Church I strongly disagreed with, some I didn't. As I sit in the pews of church on Sunday, I don't always agree with my minister - I'm much more liberal.

I want to hear a little more Rev. Wright on Sunday mornings; I want to hear that if we are not feeding the poor then, like the goats in the parable in Matthew 25:33, we are doomed to eternal fire. My Southern Baptist church preached that Catholics, gays and folks visiting Disney were all going to hell, yet people stayed in the pews.

A few political/religious mixings I don't agree with:

Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) and Rev. John Hagee: If you live your life and don't confess your sins to God almighty through the authority of Christ and his blood, I'm going to say this very plainly, you're going straight to hell with a nonstop ticket.

Rev. John Hagee, who endorsed Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), and who allowed Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) to take the pulpit and who the Catholic League calls a "veteran bigot": "The Roman Catholic Church, which was supposed to carry the light of the gospel, plunged the world into the Dark Ages.... The Crusaders were a motley mob of thieves, rapists, robbers, and murderers whose sins had been forgiven by the pope in advance of the Crusade ....The brutal truth is that the Crusades were military campaigns of the Roman Catholic Church to gain control of Jerusalem from the Muslims and to punish the Jews as the alleged Christ killers on the road to and from Jerusalem."

Rev. Fred Phelps and ??: God Hates America. This is a profound theological statement that any God-fearing person will recognize as truth. America is on a path to sure destruction, and there is no remedy available to Her anymore.

Rev. Jerry Falwell & US Atty. John Ashcroft (R-MO) at a Regent Law School event: “Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for Him. Christianity is a faith in which God sends his son to die for you.”

Rev. Jerry Falwell and Rev. Pat Robertson: Sept. 11th Terrorist attacks were caused by ". . . I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say "you helped this happen.""

That last little tid bit was on the 700 Club. Where's the lynching of the 700 Club along with Rev. Wright? How come that hate speech is still allowed on publicly owned airways? Where's the call to have Assembly of God veteran John Ashcroft run out of our country? Thank goodness for the 1st Amendment!

Obama is correct - race still divides our country and the most segregated hour in America is on Sunday morning. Preachers should preach the bible and to love your God and love your neighbor. Politicians should stick to public policy. While I cannot divorce my political views from my moral traditions (and the sheep/goat parable), I don't want my elected representatives equating religion to patriotism. If every word every preacher said was examined and thrust upon an elected representative, no one would be fit for public office.

Monday, March 17, 2008

"Supreme Court Inc."

The right wing gets it - if you want to keep unconstitutional laws in force, you have to pack the Supreme Court.

Folks like the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights have recognized the successful efforts of the Bush administration to pack all levels of the federal judiciary with right wing judges. The current Supreme Court has taken bites out of almost every constitutional principle that has come before it and even Time Magazine has noted that the Robert's Court is pro-business.

All this cheery news of the right wing high-jacking the federal courts gets even more gloomy when reading "Supreme Court, Inc." by the NY Times. The Times article highlights how cheery the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been with the Robert's Court's pro-business/anti-consumer decisions.

"Ever since John Roberts was appointed chief justice in 2005, the court has seemed only more receptive to business concerns. Forty percent of the cases the court heard last term involved business interests, up from around 30 percent in recent years. While the Rehnquist Court heard less than one antitrust decision a year, on average, between 1988 and 2003, the Roberts Court has heard seven in its first two terms — and all of them were decided in favor of the corporate defendants."

The next U.S. President will likely appoint 3 U.S. Supreme Court judges!! President Bush has rewarded his most loyal supporters - the religious right wing - with appointments of justices that will erode civil liberties. Bush has rewarded his most loyal contributors - Chamber of Commerce folks - with justices who disregard consumers in favor of corporations. And, Bush has done it intelligently - pick the young guys. A life time appointment is all the more meaningful since Alito and Roberts will be there for 40 years.

Democrats can have have 3 life time picks or they can allow McCain to pick the new justices. McCain is already sucking up to the extreme right wing promising to pick more Scalia and Thomas-like justices. If there is a civil liberty that you like, get united around a Democratic candidate for President now!

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Truth About Obama

Because there is so much mis-information about Barack Obama - including 15% of Americans who only watch wrestling who think Obama is a Muslim - a little truth never hurt anyone. Let's not allow the uneducated and uninformed define our nation or our future. 8 years of Bush is enough of being led around by fear and untruth. In addition to checking on on Barack, check out these facts:

- Did you know that Barack Obama is a Christian? He has been a member of the same United Church of Christ congregation for 20 years, and was married there to his wife Michelle in 1992. [1] [2] [3]
- Did you know that Barack Obama often leads the US Senate in the Pledge of Allegiance? [4]
- Did you know that Barack Obama is a strong friend of Israel and has spoken out strongly against anti-Semitism? [5] [6]
- Did you know his grandparents from Kansas were part of the "Greatest Generation"? His grandfather served with Patton's Army during World War II, and his grandmother, a real "Rosy the Riveter", worked in a bomber assembly plant back home. [7] [8] [9]
- Did you know that Barack Obama was opposed to the war in Iraq from day one, before we invaded, even while he was running for the Senate, and knowing his opposition might be politically unpopular? [10]
"I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world and strengthen the recruitment arm of al Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars." --Barack Obama, 2002

- Did you know Obama favors transparency over secrecy in our government? Did you know that Obama worked with Republican Senator Tom Coburn to pass one of the strongest government transparency bills since the freedom of information act? He's calling it "Google for Government", and you can see the results at . Sen. Obama has also released his own tax returns for public review. [11] [12] [13] [14]
- Did you know that after graduating with honors from Harvard Law School, Barack practiced civil rights law and also taught Constitutional Law for 10 years at the University of Chicago, one of the nation's best law schools, where he was consistently rated by his students as one of their best instructors? Did you also know that he was the first African-American elected president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review? [15] [16]
- Did you know that Barack Obama is an outspoken advocate for women's rights and has been a principled defender of the civil rights of women? [17] [18]
- Did you know that despite the grueling schedule of running for President, Senator Obama remains a devoted family man, making time to do things like pick out a Christmas tree with his wife and two young daughters, or hurrying home to spend Valentine's Day with them? Did you know he hasn't missed a single parent-teacher conference while running for President? [19]
- Did you know that Barack Obama has a stellar environmental record, including having the highest rating from the League of Conservation Voters (96%) of any Presidential candidate, Democrat or Republican? [20]
- Did you know that Barack Obama has been an elected legislator longer than Senator Clinton? [21]
- Did you know that Barack is a member of all of these Senate Committees: Foreign Relations; Veteran's Affairs; Health, Education, Labor & Pensions; Homeland Security and Government Affairs?
- Did you know that Senator Obama has sponsored or co-sponsored 15 bills that have become law, and has introduced amendments to 50 bills, of which 16 were adopted since he joined the Senate in 2005?
- Did you know that Senator Obama sponsored legislation working together with Indiana Republican Senator Richard Lugar, to keep Americans safe by keeping dangerous weapons out of terrorist hands? The two senators also visited the former Soviet Union to inspect the decommissioning of nuclear weapons. Sen. Lugar said of Sen. Obama, "He does have a sense of idealism and principled leadership, a vision of the future." [22] [23]
- Did you know that Barack Obama is the only candidate running for president who voted against using cluster bombs in Iraq and the only candidate who supports banning the use of landmines?
- Did you know that, as an Illinois state senator, Barack Obama succeeded in passing legislation requiring the videotaping of police interrogations, gaining the respect and support not only of fellow legislators but that of the police, who had initially opposed the legislation?
- Did you know that Theodore Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland, Ulysses S. Grant, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton were all younger when they took office than Barack Obama will be?

During election season many emails are circulated about the candidates. Some are true, some aren't. It's often difficult to determine the truth. We encourage you to visit the following non-partisan sites that do a good job of fact checking the candidates.

Choose your nutty minister wisely...'cause Pat Robertson ain't alone

The appearance of Sen. Obama's minister on UTube shouting "damn America!" is a preview of what we can expect next October if Obama heads the ticket. (In context of his sermon he was apparently trying to communicate that it is difficult for African Americans whose community have been victimized by our legal system to feel that God should bless the US, but somehow context gets overwhelmed by the rhetoric.)

The problem -- historically -- with unvetted candidates -- new to the national scene or otherwise not closely drilled by the press -- is that they can only "self-define" so long. Then others get to start defining you: Snoopy in a Tank, Friend of Willie Horton, Swiftboat Coward,etc.

13% of Americans are convinced Obama is a Muslim. His response is that he is a Christian whose minister inspired his book, married him, baptized his kids -- and shouts damnation down on America -- but only as a rhetorical device. Preaches like the ayatollahs, but doesn't really mean it.

(Exerpt of sermon damning US, Pix of Obama in (any) pew. "You can't choose your family, but you do choose your minister .. and you choose your minister because you share his beliefs...." How will that commercial go over in Missouri in October? Someone already heard the line on talk radio.)

It is possible that the Repubs can screw up the economy so badly that we can win anyway, but the truth is that surprises like this are why we have superdelegates.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Barnes Added to Top Races in the Country

We all knew Mayor Kay Barnes was going to run one of the top races in the nation. According to this Roll Call Article, the DCCC has determined the same. Of course President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney already knew that Graves was the most vulnerable incumbent in the nation, why else would Graves be the only Congressman in the country to have fundraisers with the President and the VP?

DCCC Expands Its ‘Red to Blue’ Program
March 12, 2008
By David M. Drucker,
Roll Call Staff

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is scheduled today to unveil the next slate of candidates it has chosen to participate in “Red to Blue,” a fundraising and infrastructure program that focuses on flipping Republican-held House seats. While the first batch of candidates — unveiled in January — are running in 11 Republican-held open districts, this second group includes 13 Democrats who are set to challenge GOP incumbents this fall. The DCCC’s national network of donors is encouraged to contribute to Red to Blue candidates, as are sitting House Democrats, with the committee providing strategic advice and infrastructure reinforcements directly to the participants’ campaigns.

“These candidates have come out of the gate strong, and the Red to Blue program will give them the financial and structural edge to be even more competitive in November,” DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) said. Julie Shutley, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, did not appear all that concerned, referring to the DCCC’s latest group of Red to Blue candidates as “fatally flawed and doomed to failure no matter how much money they spend on their campaigns. In fact, four of the 13 Democrats selected for the second round of Red to Blue lost their House bids in 2006, arguably the best environment for the Democratic Party in a generation.”

The 13 new Red to Blue participants include former Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes, challenging Rep. Sam Graves (R) in Missouri’s 6th district; former Senate aide Anne Barth, challenging Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) in West Virginia’s 2nd; 2006 nominee Darcy Burner, seeking a rematch with Rep. Dave Reichert (R) in Washington’s 8th; and Clark County Chief Deputy District Attorney Robert Daskas, challenging Rep. Jon Porter (R) in Nevada’s 3rd.

Additional participants include Ohio state Rep. Steve Driehaus, challenging Rep. Steve Chabot (R) in Ohio’s 1st; Greenwich Democratic Party Chairman Jim Himes, challenging Rep. Christopher Shays (R) in Connecticut’s 4th; 2006 nominee Christine Jennings, challenging Rep. Vern Buchanan (R) in Florida’s 13th; 2006 nominee Larry Kissell, challenging Rep. Robin Hayes (R) in North Carolina’s 8th; and former state Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, who is competing for the Democratic nomination and the right to challenge Rep. Tom Feeney (R) in Florida’s 24th.

Also added to Red to Blue were 2006 nominee Eric Massa, challenging Rep. Randy Kuhl (R) in New York’s 29th; former Michigan Lottery Commissioner Gary Peters, challenging Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R) in Michigan’s 9th; state Sen. Mark Schauer, challenging Rep. Tim Walberg (R) in Michigan’s 7th; and marketing executive Dan Seals, challenging Rep. Mark Kirk (R) in Illinois’ 10th.

The DCCC credits Red to Blue with raising $22.6 million for 56 campaigns during the 2006 cycle, an increase of $15.1 million over what was spent in the 2004 cycle, when 27 Democratic House candidates benefited from Red to Blue at an average clip of $250,000 per campaign. The infrastructure and strategy component of the program is lauded for stabilizing the campaigns of several 2006 House Democratic candidates, ensuring they could capitalize at the ballot box on a political environment that favored the Democrats, and helped the party take control of Congress for the first time in a dozen years.

Democratic Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), Artur Davis (Ala.) and Bruce Braley (Iowa) are co-chairmen of the Red to Blue program this cycle. The DCCC continues to maintain a significant financial edge over the NRCC, and this advantage could come in handy as House Democrats seek to expand their 17-seat majority. As of Jan. 31, the DCCC possessed a hefty $30 million lead over the NRCC in cash on hand, having outraised the Republican committee by $18 million since the beginning of the election cycle.

But Republicans are clearly banking on money not being everything. “With the weight of the Democrat Congress’ approval ratings and the Democrat majority’s lack of accomplishments on their backs, these challengers are going to be facing a steep uphill climb,” Shutley said. “Our Republican incumbents are battle tested.”

Vote on April 8!

The residents of Kansas City, Missouri get their chance to vote on April 8. Exercising your right to vote is a fantastic gift in this Country, so get off your butt!!

Two issues I believe are important are the bus tax and the smoking ban. The bus tax is an economic issue. People need to be able to get to jobs. Without public transportation, many folks can't get to their jobs. The pennies of the tax are important in allowing people to pursue the American dream. And, all those folks who take the bus to the Chief's games, they benefit, too.

Shall the City of Kansas City continue a city sales tax for the purposes of developing, operating, maintaining, equipping and improving a bus transit system by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority for Kansas City, Missouri, as authorized by Section 94.605 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri at a rate of 3/8% for a period of 15 years? _X___ YES ____ NO

The next issue is a public smoking ban. I believe that the ban enacted by City Council is soft. The voter led initiative is tougher. This is not a human rights issue, as the bar owners would have you believe. No one has the right cause others injury through second hand smoke. As to the stadiums, no one smokes in their seats. I can't take my kids to the Chiefs because of the drunks who stand up the whole game, not the smokers.

Shall the City of Kansas City prohibit smoking in enclosed places of employment, enclosed public places and on public sidewalks abutting acute care hospitals, while allowing it in casino gaming areas until all casinos located in the Missouri counties of Jackson, Platte and Clay, and the Kansas counties of Johnson and Wyandotte are obligated by ordinance, statute or law to prohibit smoking within the casino areas where gambling games are allowed for the purpose of promoting public health by decreasing citizen's exposure to secondhand smoke and creating smoke free environments for workers and citizens through regulation in the work place and all public places? __X__ YES ____ NO

See you at the polls or no complaining about the direction of our government.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pratt Calls Voice Vote on Court Bill

HRJ 41 is a bill that would limit the power of the Missouri Supreme Court to hear certain types of cases. The official description is it "Proposes a constitutional amendment prohibiting state courts from levying or imposing new or increased taxes, licenses, or fees without legislative or voter approval."

The sponsor - Rep. Jane Cunningham - says it is to prevent courts from questioning the funding for schools. No one can point to a Missouri court that has attempted it, but you can never be too safe. No court has ever ordered that all trees be cut down, let's amend the constitution for that too!!

In presiding over the House, Representative and Speaker Pro Tem Bryan Pratt from Blue Springs and a lawyer at Shook Hardy & Bacon, used the highly unusual move of calling a voice vote to end amendments to the bill. According to the St. Louis Post, at least ten Democrats were standing up to add amendments, including one protecting the Second Amendment, per Rep. John Burnett. Rep. Pratt's hearing is so darn good that he could hear the very slim majority of his party crying out. Nothing like democracy in action - you think they teach strong arm tactics in civics class in Blue Springs?

Pratt is safe in his state representative seat until he is term limited out. The rub between him and some in the legal profession (including his own firm) comes when he is done and runs for Sen. Matt Bartle's seat. Pratt didn't vote for pay raises for judges (after they have been stagnant for ten years). He's helping push the amendment of the constitution to limit the power of the Supreme Court to even review tax cases. His former managing partner at Shook is in Jefferson City lobbying one way, Rep. Pratt goes the other.

Throw into the mix that Pratt's fellow Shook lawyer - Rep. Brian Yates - is much more aligned with Matt Bartle & Jeff Roe. Yates has made it clear that he wants Bartle’s seat, too. It’s going to be an interesting primary for this Senate seat and the halls of Shook Hardy & Bacon.

Republican "Hit" on Democrat Fool

Lost amid all the jokes is the fact that this did not start as a Federal investigation of prostitution, but as a fishing expedition to get any dirt available on Spitzer, a very prominant Democrat official.

Is he stupid beyond comprehension for doing this?


Should the Feds -- who claim to need more resources to track terrorists -- be wasting their resources on what or whether a guy pays for a blow-job?


Is the political misuse of the Justice Department more of a threat to America than al Qaida?


Let's not forget that the major difference between Beria and J. Edgar (dresses aside) was that Hoover was a nonpartisan blackmailer and empire-builder. The present Justice Department has a very partisan bent that is used against troublesome Democrats -- sometimes under direct orders from Karl Rove (as with the exGov of Alabama), but more often by less direct and easily traced ways that direct policy: Fire the USA who indicts Republicans or who does not indict enough Democrats, appoint your Justice Dept hitmen to the empty spots.

When Henry II asked his knights "Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?" even the dullest of them understood it as an order to kill the Archbishop. And when Rove & Gonzales spoke or sent e-mails in disappearing ink, it was to USAs and FBI agents with lots of IQ points on Henry's hoods.

Fascism does not come with undemocratic acts by criminals. It comes with popularly-supported misuse of the law. The question is: Will history record 9/11 as our Reichstag fire? (For everyone who thinks "history" is who won Survivor last season, try looking it up.)

No More Right Wing Judges

I'm sick of Republicans talking about the need to appoint strict constructionists to the bench. The far right makes no bones about saying they want more of judges like Altio and Roberts, all up and down the federal bench. Finally, someone is fighting these knuckleheads.

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights is a group of 200 organizations - folks like the NAACP, NEA, League of Women Voters, AFL-CIO, National Council of La Raza, AARP, National Council of Churches - that has been around since 1950 to fight for civil rights. "LCCR is the unifying force for national organizations representing people of color, women, children, older Americans, gays, workers and religious groups. We are leading one of the most important fights in our history the fight to stop the right-wing takeover of the courts."

Here's an example of the positions that LCCR takes:

The Senate recently held a hearing on the controversial nomination of Attorney Richard Honaker to a lifetime position on the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming. Honaker is one of many controversial nominees who threaten to weaken established constitutional rights and civil rights protections for ordinary Americans. Given the damage already done to the courts because of the President's partisan engineering, the Senate must refuse to confirm any more controversial nominees. Call your senators today at (202) 224-3121 and tell them to stop confirming controversial nominees, including Richard Honaker!

The #1 priority of Alberto Gonzales when he ran the Department of Justice was to pack every level of the federal bench with Alitos and Roberts. They pack them when they are young, so they can be there forever. They get those on the very far right to serve as lifetime federal judges because the religious right knows that every civil liberty this country has ever got (after the Bill of Rights) has come through the federal courts - Right to vote without Jim Crow laws, interracial marriage, choice, etc. The LCCR gets it "because the Supreme Court takes such a small percentage of cases, lower federal judges often represent the only shot at justice individuals get."

The right wing gets it, does the left?

Friday, March 7, 2008


Want to know who Missouri's super delegates are voting for? Check out this neat web site.

It becomes all the more interesting given today's Star article about Mayor Funk attempting to become a super delegate with the backing of Missouri's biggest Democratic donor, James B. Nutter, Sr.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Florida and Michigan are not equal in blame...

The Democrats in Florida had no control over when the Republican-controled Legislature and governor would set the primary, so it is unreasonable to penalize them for that. Besides, both candidates were on the ballot in Florida, & neither campaigned (although Obama did run ads as part of his "national" advertising campaign, which should have been to his advantage). Maybe all elections might benefit from less campaigning. But it makes no sense to allow the Repubs to disenfranchise the Florida Dems. -- or make us spend $25 M to pay for a do-over.

Maybe Michigan should have to do a do-over primary, but Florida should not -- and the DNC should not allow itself to be backed into that corner by the Florida Repubs -- who will use this against our Party in the general election for that swing state. It's dumb to stand on principle when the Repubs have backed you into quicksand. The legitimacy of any convention nomination that hinges on refusing to seat Florida is going to be in serious question.

Given the proportional allocation of delegates, does this even help HRC that much? If Texas & Ohio are any gauge, it can't be but a handful of delegates difference. Hardly worth the potential down-side in Nov.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Missouri’s judiciary is under attack, AGAIN

From an editorial by Skip Walther in the Columbia Tribune about unfair attacks on the judiciary by SOME Republicans:

I remember the agony of studying into the early-morning hours for that all-important civics exam in seventh grade. How many members in the House of Representatives? Who succeeds to the presidency if the president and vice president suddenly die? Which branch of government must overturn an unconstitutional law? Remember the answer to that question? It’s OK if you don’t; neither does the governor of Missouri.

Unfair, you say. OK, let’s see. Go back to 1820. That is the first year when our soon-to-be state adopted its first constitution. In that year, in that constitution, is found the idea that no law retrospective in its operation can be passed. Our state cannot pass a law that creates a disability for past actions. That makes sense, doesn’t it? It has made sense since 1820, which is the year before Missouri became a state. That has been the law without interruption.

Fast-forward to Feb. 19, 2008. The Missouri Supreme Court published an opinion on a law deemed to be retrospective. The law relates to sex offenders, who are not a popular group in any setting. In 2006, the Missouri General Assembly passed and our governor signed a law that prohibited sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school. Unfortunately, the law applied to anyone who, since 1979, moved to a house after the school was built. In other words, even sex offenders with the same residence address for two decades must move if that address is close to a school. Failure to move is a felony. Our Supreme Court said the law violates the state constitutional provision in effect since 1820 that prohibits retrospective laws. In so deciding, our Supreme Court took a path that it must take, which is to say it followed the rule of law, regardless of the political consequences and regardless of public opinion. Our society demands nothing less.

Gov. Matt Blunt wasted no time in denouncing the Supreme Court. Mere hours after the opinion was published, our governor decried the "outrage that our state’s highest court has ruled in favor of sex offenders." I can honestly say I do not think I have ever read a more ignorant statement from an elected official, ever. Our Supreme Court did the job it has done since statehood, which is to elevate the constitution above any law passed by the legislature.

Those who paid attention in junior high civics remember the case of Marbury v. Madison (1803), in which the U.S. Supreme Court decided legislative enactments that violate the U.S. Constitution must be struck down by the judiciary. This is not rocket science. It is called separation of powers. The people adopt the Constitution. The legislature passes laws, and the executive enforces the laws. If a law violates the Constitution, the judiciary strikes down the law. So the answer to the seventh-grade civics exam question is: The judiciary is the branch of government that overturns unconstitutional laws.

In striking down the sex offender law, our Supreme Court gave life to the Missouri Constitution, which the citizens of this great state adopted long ago. Attacking the judiciary on this elementary example of constitutional law is a political ploy that Gov. Blunt is using once again in an attempt to re-energize a disinterested political base. He wants our judges to be subservient to politics instead of the law.

Unfortunately, this attempt is one of many. At this moment, members of the Missouri General Assembly are trying to close the courthouse doors to our citizens (HJR 41); attempts are under way to politicize the judiciary (HJR 49 and 52); and to give the legislature control over the courts and disrupt the flow of serious and intelligent lawyers seeking a judicial position (HJR 66 and SB 968). The legislators who are trying to pass these laws do not seem to understand the role judges play in the separation-of-powers scheme that has made our country the greatest on Earth.

This is not a minor event, nor is this an insignificant problem. Ignorance of the separation-of-powers concept is creating needless tension among the branches of government. This tension has led to the introduction of a number of bills that threaten the integrity of our courts. Until we, as citizens, tell the legislature to learn that its job is to pass laws that are consistent with the constitution and to respect the co-equal role the judiciary plays in our system of government, the agony of studying for a test will pale compared to the pain all of us will experience when our courts become dominated by politics.

Bill to exempt the Economic Stimulus Refund copied & recopied

From Rep. John Burnett's e-newsletter about how the Republicans plagiarized a bill from some local Democrats -

Quite a bit of attention has been given this week to House Bill 2178 it would exempt from Missouri tax any advance refund the Feds sent out on the Economic Stimulus program. If and when the checks come from the IRS we wouldn't have to pay Missouri tax on that windfall. Seems like a great idea.

In fact it seems that it was such a good idea when introduced first by some KC area Reps Holsman, Grill, LeVota and Talboy that it was immediately copied not once but twice. Two teams of Republicans copied it word for word and introduced it as House bills 2189 and 2208. 2189 has 25 sponsors all Republicans and 2208 has ten sponsors all Republicans.

Will be interesting to see if they follow the long standing tradition of rolling similar (in this case identical) legislation into the same bill and give the first sponsor the credit. But with 35 Republicans many of whom are running for reelection or higher office?????????

Corporate Pig Farms Get Added Scrutiny

Corporate Pig Farms (CAFO's - concentrated animal feeding operations) continue to be a big environmental and local control issue.

The Joplin Globe recently can a story on the desire of local governments to control these enormous feed operations vs. the efforts by some Republicans to force these operations on folks.

“The problem with Missouri is that it’s wide open for CAFOs. Missouri’s laws, when compared to other nearby states, permit far larger numbers of animals to be confined under one roof with little or no regulation,” said local farmer Zach McQuire. “What these corporate farms can do with these small CAFOs, with just a few thousand animals, is put them right against their neighbor’s property line and drive them out to buy their land.”

Rep. Jeff Harris, a candidate for Missouri Attorney General, is sponsoring legislation that would allow local governments - like Clay and Platte counties - to determine what restrictions are appropriate. Farm Bureau, the voice of corporate farms and a group that supports Republicans like Gov. Matt Blunt, opposes the legislation. Several environmental and pro-farmer groups - like Missouri Rural Crisis Center - are in favor of the bill.

A bill recently introduced by state Rep. Jeff Harris, D-Columbia, would give rural communities greater power to limit CAFOs near their property. House Bill 1931 would allow local residents to use the initiative-petition process to put approval of a proposed CAFO to a public vote.

Existing law only requires notification of those living within 4,500 feet of the proposed CAFO. Nor does the law require the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to take local opposition into account when reviewing a permit application.

Harris, who wants to be the Democratic nominee for Missouri attorney general, said, “This legislation will give the people forced to live with the smell, pollution and waste caused by a nearby CAFO a powerful voice in the licensing process.

The Globe followed up with a strongly worded editorial.

Big ag will take proposals by state Rep. Jeff Harris as a slap in the face. Don’t. Take them rather as a boot to the butt.
. . .

The need for this is so self-evident it doesn’t even require justification. One can’t wander too far around Southwest Missouri before discovering that factory farms have overplayed their hand at the expense of neighbors’ property values, our environment and quality of life.

House Bill 909, meanwhile, would prohibit CAFOs near state parks and historic sites by setting up a five-mile buffer. Arrow Rock and the Battle of Athens state historic sites already are threatened by hog CAFOs, and a 65,600 chicken CAFO already is operating not far from Roaring River State Park.

What's the big deal? Who cares about corporate pig farms in Joplin? Well, the folks in Clay and Platte Counties - folks with a Kansas City, Missouri address - are concerned enough about having a million tons of pig crap in a lagoon to support this legislation. And for the folks who take thier families canoeing on the North Fork, the Joplin Globe points out that the lagoons are getting closer and closer to the springs that feed that crystal clear river in Pettis County.

Additionally, this becomes even more important in the tight Attorney General race when Chris Koster filed the pro-Farm Bureau/CAFO bill and Jeff Harris filed the anti-CAFO bill. The Globe pointed out that a huge voter turnout - 80% against CAFO - was reported in one recent local government election dealing with these corporate pig farms. This could sway an election.