Friday, May 30, 2008

Graves Attacks "GAY" Barnes

Congressman Sam Graves has pulled a Fred Phelps-like attack on Kay Barnes, including the voice over calling her "Gay Barnes."

KC Blue Blog broke this story and we join with that group in calling for an apology by Congressman Graves and for him to fire Jeff Roe. The dirt is flying, like we knew it would, but this is disgusting.

Claire Makes Us Proud

Once again, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill makes all of Missouri proud.

McCain Says Economic Problems are Only in Our Minds

McBush says our economic problems are all in our heads. $4 gas is not in my head. The low value of the dollar compared to the euro or a barrel of oil is not in my head. Kids in Haiti eating mud is not in my head.

Everyone in the world (including the Chinese who hold the note on America's $9 trillion in debt) knows that George Bush cares about oil more than the dollar, so a barrel of oil is a better investment than the dollar. All that will change when Obama gets to the White House.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain (R-AZ) suggests much of America's economic woes may be merely 'psychological'.

In a recent interview with Fox News, McCain said the fact that America's oil and gas prices have reached all-time high has deeply concerned him.

"I'm very concerned about it…. And obviously the way it's been going up is just terrible," claimed the Arizona senator.

"But I think psychologically - and a lot of our problems today, as you know, are psychological - the confidence, trust, the uncertainty about our economic future, ability to keep our own home," he added.

McCain explained that his proposal to eliminate the federal gas tax for three months would provide Americans the necessary 'psychological boost' to deal with their economic problems.

"Let's have some straight talk. It's not a huge amount of money, but it might be nice to be able to save a few bucks and maybe buy something else the next time that they have to fill up their gas tank, and say, you know, I'm going to be able to afford that little extra expense now," he concluded.

Political pundits remain skeptical of McCain's prescription for US gas problems, arguing that most of the tax break will go to corporations, not families.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

CCP Executive Committee Recommendations for Endorsement

The CCP Executive Committee met this evening. We are proud to make the following recommendations for endorsement:

Attorney General: Jeff Harris
Treasurer: Clint Zweifel
Lt. Gov.: Sam Page
44th State House: Amy Coffman
Prosecutor: Jim Kanatzer
Sheriff: John Bullard

All CCP voting members who have paid their dues are eligible to vote at our endorsement meeting on June 4th at Screenland (1656 Washington) at 6:00. Thank you for your enthusiastic support of your favorite Democratic candidate and the Committee for County Progress.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Judicial Elections are Bad

Because it is that important, below is the complete article on judicial elections from the New York Times.

Rendering Justice, With One Eye on Re-election

Last month, Wisconsin voters did something that is routine in the United States but virtually unknown in the rest of the world: They elected a judge.

The vote came after a bitter $5 million campaign in which a small-town trial judge with thin credentials ran a television advertisement falsely suggesting that the only black justice on the state Supreme Court had helped free a black rapist. The challenger unseated the justice with 51 percent of the vote, and will join the court in August. The election was unusually hard-fought, with caustic advertisements on both sides, many from independent groups.

Contrast that distinctively American method of selecting judges with the path to the bench of Jean-Marc Baissus, a judge on the Tribunal de Grand Instance, a district court, in Toulouse, France. He still recalls the four-day written test he had to pass in 1984 to enter the 27-month training program at the École Nationale de la Magistrature, the elite academy in Bordeaux that trains judges in France. “It gives you nightmares for years afterwards,” Judge Baissus said of the test, which is open to people who already have a law degree, and the oral examinations that followed it. In some years, as few as 5 percent of the applicants survive. “You come out of this completely shattered,” Judge Baissus said.

The question of how best to select judges has baffled lawyers and political scientists for centuries, but in the United States most states have made their choice in favor of popular election. The tradition goes back to Jacksonian populism, and supporters say it has the advantage of making judges accountable to the will of the people. A judge who makes a series of unpopular decisions can be challenged in an election and removed from the bench.

“If you want judges to be responsive to public opinion, then having elected judges is the way to do that,” said Sean Parnell, the president of the Center for Competitive Politics, an advocacy group that opposes most campaign finance regulation. Nationwide, 87 percent of all state court judges face elections, and 39 states elect at least some of their judges, according to the National Center for State Courts.

In the rest of the world, the usual selection methods emphasize technical skill and insulate judges from the popular will, tilting in the direction of independence. The most common methods of judicial selection abroad are appointment by an executive branch official, which is how federal judges in the United States are chosen, and a sort of civil service made up of career professionals.

Outside of the United States, experts in comparative judicial selection say, there are only two nations that have judicial elections, and then only in limited fashion. Smaller Swiss cantons elect judges, and appointed justices on the Japanese Supreme Court must sometimes face retention elections, though scholars there say those elections are a formality. “To the rest of the world,” Hans A. Linde, a justice of the Oregon Supreme Court, since retired, said at a 1988 symposium on judicial selection, “American adherence to judicial elections is as incomprehensible as our rejection of the metric system.”

Sandra Day O’Connor, the former Supreme Court justice, has condemned the practice of electing judges. “No other nation in the world does that,” she said at a conference on judicial independence at Fordham Law School in April, “because they realize you’re not going to get fair and impartial judges that way.” The new justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court is Michael J. Gableman, who has been the only judge on the Burnett County Circuit Court in Siren, Wis., a job he got in 2002 when he was appointed to fill a vacancy by Gov. Scott McCallum, a Republican.

The governor, who received two $1,250 campaign contributions from Mr. Gableman, chose him over the two candidates proposed by his advisory council on judicial selection. Judge Gableman, a graduate of Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, went on to be elected to the circuit court position in 2003. The much more rigorous French model, in which aspiring judges are subjected to a battery of tests and years at a special school, has its benefits, said Mitchel Lasser, a law professor at Cornell and the author of “Judicial Deliberations: A Comparative Analysis of Judicial Transparency and Legitimacy.”

“You have people who actually know what the hell they’re doing,” Professor Lasser said. “They’ve spent years in school taking practical and theoretical courses on how to be a judge. These are professionals.” “The rest of the world,” he added, “is stunned and amazed at what we do, and vaguely aghast. They think the idea that judges with absolutely no judge-specific educational training are running political campaigns is both insane and characteristically American.”

But some American law professors and political scientists say their counterparts abroad should not be so quick to dismiss judicial elections. “I’m not uncritical of the American system, and we obviously have excesses in terms of politicization and the campaign finance system,” said Prof. David M. O’Brien, a specialist in judicial politics at the University of Virginia and an editor of “Judicial Independence in the Age of Democracy: Critical Perspectives from Around the World.”

“But these other systems are also problematic,” Professor O’Brien continued. “There’s greater transparency in the American system.” The selection of appointed judges, he said, can be influenced by political considerations and cronyism that are hidden from public view. A working paper from the University of Chicago Law School last year tried to quantify the relative quality of elected and appointed judges in state high courts in the United States. It found that elected judges wrote more opinions, while appointed judges wrote opinions of higher quality.

“A simple explanation for our results,” wrote the paper’s authors — Stephen J. Choi, G. Mitu Gulati and Eric A. Posner — “is that electoral judgeships attract and reward politically savvy people, while appointed judgeships attract more professionally able people. However, the politically savvy people might give the public what it wants — adequate rather than great opinions, in greater quantity.”

Herbert M. Kritzer, who was until recently a professor of law and political science at the University of Wisconsin, said judicial elections had deep roots in the state and the nation. “It’s a remnant of the populist Jacksonian image of public office,” he said. “We’re crazy about elections. The number of different offices we elect is enormous.”

There is reason to think, though, that the idea of popular control of the government associated with President Andrew Jackson is an illusion when it comes to judges. Some political scientists say voters do not have anything near enough information to make sensible choices, in part because most judicial races rarely receive news coverage. When voters do have information, these experts say, it is often from sensational or misleading television advertisements.

“You don’t get popular control out of this,” said Steven E. Schier, a professor of political science at Carleton College in Minnesota. “When you vote with no information, you get the illusion of control. The overwhelming norm is no to low information.” Still, judges often alter their behavior as elections approach. A study in Pennsylvania by Gregory A. Huber and Sanford C. Gordon found that “all judges, even the most punitive, increase their sentences as re-election nears,” resulting in some 2,700 years of additional prison time, or 6 percent of total prison time, in aggravated assault, rape and robbery sentences over a 10-year period.

In common law countries, judges are generally appointed by executive branch officials, though lately judicial commissions made up of lawyers and lay people are taking a larger role in the initial selection of candidates. Scotland adopted that method in 2002, and England and Wales in 2006.

Alan Paterson, a Scottish law professor who serves on the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland, said his country’s system was transparent and worked well, though he acknowledged that the idea behind judicial elections was attractive.

“Part of me likes it,” he said. “It follows from the separation of powers. But in practical terms, it’s very difficult. They have to raise a lot of money.” “The theory is a nice theory,” he said. “The practice of it is unworkable. We’re not going to do it.” In some nations, of course, the judiciary is neither independent nor accountable to the public.

“Take a country like Vietnam,” Professor O’Brien said. “Those poor judges are controlled by party officials even at the trial level. That’s even worse than we have in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas, where the cost of judicial campaigns has just escalated over the last couple of decades.”

Judge Gableman did not respond to phone messages seeking comment. In answer to a question about his qualifications in an online forum on The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Web site, he acknowledged that he had no appellate court experience but said he had argued a case, concerning zoning, before the state Supreme Court.

In the recent election, Judge Gableman’s campaign ran a television advertisement juxtaposing the images of his opponent, Justice Louis B. Butler Jr., in judicial robes, with a photograph of Ruben Lee Mitchell, who had raped an 11-year-old girl. Both the judge and the rapist are black. “Butler found a loophole,” the advertisement said. “Mitchell went on to molest another child. Can Wisconsin families feel safe with Louis Butler on the Supreme Court?”

Justice Butler had represented Mr. Mitchell as a lawyer 20 years before and had persuaded two appeals courts that his rape trial had been flawed. But the state Supreme Court ruled that the error was harmless, and it did not release the defendant, as the advertisement implied. Instead, Mr. Mitchell served out his full term and only then went on to commit another crime. In an interview, Justice Butler — a graduate of the University of Wisconsin law school who served for 12 years as a judge in Milwaukee courts — said the past few months had tested his commitment to elections.

“My position historically has been that there is something to be said for the public to be selecting people who are going to be making decisions about their futures,” Justice Butler said. “But people ought to be looking at judges’ ability to analyze and interpret the law, their legal training, their experience level and, most importantly, their impartiality,” he continued. “They should not be making decisions based on ads filled with lies, deception, falsehood and race-baiting. The system is broken, and that robs the public of their right to be informed.”

Judge Baissus, the French judge, said his nation had once considered electing its judiciary. “It’s an argument that was largely debated after the French revolution,” he said. “It was thought not to be a good idea. People seeking re-election would not be independent. They are indeed close to the electorate, but sometimes uncomfortably so.”

Monday, May 26, 2008

Lest we forget...

It's OK to get lost in all the Barbeque & good times of the weekend, but we should also take a moment to reflect on the guys who made it possible for us to enjoy all this.

I had the privilege of officing for many years with a guy named Bill Ergovich. Some of you may remember him as Katheryn's long time campaign treasurer. But we only got to know him in his secret identity. In real life, Bill was a superhero.

You see, in WW II, a teenager named Bill Ergovich enlisted in the Marines, and became a naval aviator. There he went on to fly very small planes over a very large ocean while being shot at a lot -- so you and I would not have to learn Japanese, which is a very difficult language. (In that very different War, a child of privilege like George H.W. Bush or Joseph and John Kennedy also signed up. That's why I never gave Bill too much trouble for voting for Bush 41 or Bob Dole -- They had a bond I could not begin to imagine.)

On the other side of the world, a Lousiana good ol' boy named Dempsey Williams -- Marcella's hubby -- went ashore in Normandy. About 8000 of those boys died on the beaches. In one day.

That's twice as many as Bush 43 has managed to get killed in Iraq in five years.

But, I digress.

Bill & Dempsey, George H.W. & Bob, Joe & Jack -- and all the rest of our troops -- were in a War that really mattered a lot. Nobody made up Hitler, Mussolini & Tojo. Forget Star Wars. The Axis really was an Evil Empire -- so evil, we could not even imagine. And a bunch of very normal guys went off and -- literally -- saved the world!

Then these superheroes came home, and reassumed their secret identities -- and, for those of us who have been very lucky, became our friends.

Thank you, Bill.
Thank you, Demps.
Thank you all.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Nixon Rocks

Survey USA Poll
General Election:

Jay Nixon (D): 57
Kenny Hulshof (R): 33

Jay Nixon (D): 58
Sarah Steelman (R): 33
(MoE: ±2.5%)

24 Weeks to Election, MO Democrat Nixon Defeats Either GOP Challenger for Governor: In an election for Governor of Missouri today, 05/20/08, 24 weeks to the vote, Democrat Jay Nixon defeats both likely Republican opponents, according to this SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for KCTV-TV in Kansas City and KSDK-TV in St. Louis. Today, Nixon, Missouri's Attorney General, defeats Republican Congressman Kenny Hulshof 57% to 33%; Nixon defeats Republican State Treasurer Sarah Steelman 58% to 33%. Against both, Nixon carries all regions of the state and all demographic groups. Against Hulshof, 18% of Republicans cross over to vote for Nixon; against Steelman, 25% of Republicans cross over.

CCP Questionaires - Attorney General

Tomorrow night is the only scheduled debate where all 4 filed Democratic candidates for the MO Attorney General's office will appear. Invitations were sent to all 4 candidates and they have each confirmed their attendance. As a prelude to this debate, I would like to point out that we have posted the questionaires received from three of the four candidates on the CCP home webpage. We have just received the fourth questionaire and will be posting that shortly.

The four candidates are:
Margaret Donnelly
Jeff Harris
Chris Koster
Molly Williams

Three of the four candidates currently serve in elected office. Donnelly and Harris currently serve as state representatives in the 73rd and 23rd districts respectively. Koster currently serves as the state senator for the 31st district. Williams is currently working as a Junior High School teacher in Kansas City.

To learn more about each of these candidates, please review their posted questionaires and you can visit their websites at:
There is no current website for Molly Williams; however, according to her questionaire, it is forthcoming.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

AG debate & priorities

I hope that in the upcoming AG debate, there will be some time to address the appropriate priorities for an Attorney General.

I hope we will remember that the AG is the State's LAWYER, not the Top Cop and not the Grand Inquisitor. And those who wish to be Prosecutors should run for that office in their home County. While the AG has some duties related to criminal law enforcement, those are not his primary duties.

Under no circumstances should he or his assistants ever tell a judge that the actual innocence of a defendant is "irrelevant" to putting that person to death.

Nor should the AG's office provide traveling guns for hire to make death penalties easier to obtain for rural prosecutors in less than deserving cases.

When DNA shows a person to be innocent, don't stall and keep them locked up, just to avoid embarrassment to law enforcement. Do what is morally and legally right, even if hard.

It would help to have an AG who is willing to speak the truth about long drug sentences and the amount of state resources we spend on prisons for the non-violent. Don't tell us we cannot afford to fund education when you tell use we must spend millions warehousing dopers. Tell us how you can help spread Jackson County's successful Drug Court diversion program across the Stateand prevent the destruction of young lives.

And try to bear in mind that the actual chief law enforcement duty of the Attorney General is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States -- even, and sometimes especially, against the wishes of "Law Enforcement."

Because sometimes a good lawyer has to be willing to tell his client "No".

Sen. Byrd Endorses Sen. Obama

The wonderful thing about the human spirit is that it can change. Case in point is that Sen. Robert Byrd has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Sen. Robert C. Byrd, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan and a one- time opponent of civil rights legislation, is endorsing Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Obama is vying to be the nation's first black president.

The West Virginia senator says Obama has the qualities to end the Iraq war.

In a written statement, Byrd called Obama "a shining young statesman, who possesses the personal temperament and courage necessary to extricate our country from this costly misadventure in Iraq."

Byrd is the longest-serving senator in history and third person in the line of presidential succession.

See, there is hope for our Country and World. If a former KKK member can endorse a black man, think of what is possible in our world.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bob Barr on Gay Marriage

How's this for an interesting and thought provoking response to the Califorina gay marriage ruling; apparently state's rights really means something to some Republicans.
For Immediate Release – May 15, 2008
To schedule an interview, contact Audrey Mullen at 703-548-1160


Bob Barr, former Member of Congress from Georgia and current candidate for President for the Libertarian Party, today issued the following statement in reaction to today's decision by the California Supreme Court allowing for the recognition of same sex marriage in that state:

"Regardless of whether one supports or opposes same sex marriage, the decision to recognize such unions or not ought to be a power each state exercises on its own, rather than imposition of a one-size-fits-all mandate by the federal government (as would be required by a Federal Marriage Amendment which has been previously proposed and considered by the Congress). The decision today by the Supreme Court of California properly reflects this fundamental principle of federalism on which our nation was founded.

"Indeed, the primary reason for which I authored the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 was to ensure that each state remained free to determine for its citizens the basis on which marriage would be recognized within its borders, and not be forced to adopt a definition of marriage contrary to its views by another state. The decision in California is an illustration of how this principle of states' powers should work."

Donnelly Roasts Koster

I never thought that Margaret had this much fire in her belly, but here is her latest press release:

Koster's Priorities are Sex Shops and Special Interests over Missourians
Successful filibuster helps Speaker Jetton, Sex Shops, and not much else

JEFFERSON CITY - As the legislative session comes to a close, it is usually the final opportunity for lawmakers to pass bills helpful to their constituents. However, one tag team of lawmakers, Senators Chris Koster, D-Raymore and Senator Victor Callahan
D-Independence used the final hours of the legislative session to filibuster the "Village Law Repeal" bill in the State Senate. The legislation had two major provisions: the first repealed the "Village Law"; the second placed tougher restrictions on sex shops and pornography. After a long filibuster a compromise was reached. The bill passed, but without the emergency clause allowing it to become law immediately.

Numerous newspaper editorials have condemned the "Village Law" because of the proliferation of so called "villages" popping up in many areas of the state as a way for developers to avoid accountability to county government. The provision was inserted at the last minute last year and permits development to occur regardless of the impact on neighboring communities. This has been a pet project of Missouri House Speaker Rod Jetton, a close friend of Koster's.

State Representative Margaret Donnelly commented on the filibuster saying, "It is outrageous that in the final days of session Senator Koster has made it a priority to filibuster a bill in order to help his friend Speaker Jetton. The repeal of the village law provision is essential to protecting the wishes of neighboring citizens from projects such as gaming or CAFOs. He must also be against putting regulations on sex shops, since his filibuster resulted in that portion being stripped from the bill. Although the repeal of the village law finally occurred, without the emergency clause it will be the "Wild West" for developers from now until August.

"I expect more from a candidate for Attorney General. He should be ashamed," said Donnelly. "This shows once again that Koster values his special interests and Republican friends over the best interests of all Missourians."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Barack on Faith

Presumptive Democratic Nominee Barack Obama spoke with Disciple's World, a publication of the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ. They interviewed all the candidates, Barack's was published in the May, 2008 issue. A few highlights:

What makes you a better choice: As an individual, I don't claim any superiority to the other candidates. I am an imperfect person and an imperfect candidate. And if elected, I won't be a perfect president. Like all of us, I am a flawed human being relying on the grace of God to get me through each day.

How does your faith influence your public life: My faith in Jesus Christ influences every aspect of my life, public and private. I pray, I read the Bible, I try every day to follow his example of loving our neighbors and work for "the least of these" in our country and our world.

Is there a particular message you want to share with people of faith: Yes I strongly believe that people of faith can and must work together to bridge the political and religious divisions in America, Our nation faces serious challenges and there are no easy solutions. And all of us - people of all religions and none, and people of all political persuasions - have a shared stake in solving these problems. Often, my politically progressive friends fail to fully appreciate the role of values and culture play in addressing some of our most pressing social problems. For my friends who are political and religious conservatives, I think it would be helpful to remember the critical role that separation of church and state has played in preserving not only our democracy but also the freedom and richness of our diverse religious traditions

Well, there's some humility, there's some loving your God and there's some loving your neighbor.

Monday, May 12, 2008

An insult by a Republican is a compliment to a Democrat

When Republican Matt Blunt insulted Democrat Jeff Harris, candidate for Attorney General, he takes it as a compliment. You will recall that Gov. Blunt is being investigated and sued by just about everyone for not giving up his emails. His solution - go after a real to life Democrat, Rep. Jeff Harris.

Why Jeff? Because for all of the last 4 years, Jeff Harris has been a pain in the side of Matt Blunt. When Jeff was in charge of the House Democrats, he held Blunt accountable for such evil things as cutting the poor off health care and the sale of MOHELA. So, Blunt is giving a dig back.

Here's an email I got from the Harris campaign.

Last week, Governor Matt Blunt sunk to a new low. For the past several months Governor Blunt has been the subject of an investigation into whether he ordered two state employees to destroy public records, a clear violation of the Sunshine Law.

As a strong believer and proponent of this law, I spoke out on the House floor last Tuesday, in defense of the two employees who refused to buckle under pressure from the Governor to destroy public records. Too often, state employees are used as scapegoats, and I wanted to commend them for doing the right thing.

So what was the Governor’s response to my speech? He had his office issue a Sunshine request for every document created in my office and every email ever sent or received since 2003.

The Kansas City Star said this was “a childish stunt,” and the Joplin Globe said Blunt is making a “mockery” of the Sunshine law.

This is a clear attempt to distract, bully and intimidate me.

But I've never been intimidated by this Governor. My office will fully comply with his request, because I have nothing to hide.

It's pretty obvious who this Governor does not want as our next Attorney General. Me. I consider that a badge of honor. I fought him when he slashed health care for thousands of Missourians, and he knows that I won't let this email scandal die when he leaves office. He knows that as your next Attorney General, I will make it a priority to find out exactly what happened in this Governor’s office with regards to any order to destroy public records.

As a Missourian, I am disappointed in what we’ve seen from this Governor, and I know that like me, you expect better than vindictive partisanship from your state’s elected officials.

If you agree with me, that Missouri needs a strong champion for open government in the Attorney General’s office, then please join our campaign today. By making a modest contribution of $5 or $10 or whatever you can afford, you can help demonstrate that you won’t back down when it comes to fighting for what’s right.

I’m ready to take on Governor Blunt or anyone else who stands between you and your right to a fair, open and accessible government. Please join us today, and help me put some real teeth behind the Sunshine Law.



CCP Questionaires - 44th State Rep race

CCP gives out endorsements in most county and state races. As part of our endorsement process, a questionaire was sent to every filed candidate and we have posted each received questionaire on our website. The questions are detailed towards each office the candidate is seeking although some of the same questions are asked of every candidate. We invite you to read through these questionaires to learn more about each candidate. Although you can certainly read them all at once, we will be highlighting races individually in the next few weeks.

First on the list - the race for the MO state representative of the 44th district. The current officeholder, Rep. Jenee Lowe, is unable to run again due to term limits so it is an open race. There are 3 filed candidates: Amy Coffman, Jason Kander and Mary Cosgrove Spence. Each candidate returned their questionaires so you will be able to compare their answers. The 44th district includes Brookside, Waldo, the Ward Parkway corridor and a portion of Hickman Mills.

Each candidate for the 44th has a website and they are respectively

Friday, May 9, 2008

Barnes Race in 6th Upgraded by Cook

Kay Barnes race for Congress in Missouri's 6th District has just been upgraded as one of the top races in the entire nation.

Charlie Cook, and before that Stu Rothenberg, have pointed out this is one of the top races to watch. 85% of the districts are safe for incumbents (whether R or D). There are very few, maybe as few as 10, where an incumbent has a chance of being knocked off. Congressman Graves way be the most vulnerable incumbent in the entire nation.

#1 - Graves is in the pocket of Big Oil. With $4 per gallon of gas, that ain't gonna fly with the rural tractor drivers.

#2 - he's attached at the hips (and pocket book) with Bush/Cheney. Graves is the only Congressman in the entire nation to have fundraisers thrown by both Bush and Cheney.

#3 - Kay is a great leader. She is originally from St. Joe. This district includes Clay and Platte Counties, where the voters are used to her successful leadership. The 6th voted for Sen. McCaskill (D), Auditor Montee (D) and to support stem cell research. Democratic state representatives have been winning in Northwest Missouri and the areas North of the Missouri River, but still in Kansas City, are electing Democratic city council people.

The common sense voters in Clay, Platte, Eastern Jackson and Buchanan Counties will vote for Kay Barnes

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Why We Need Strong Federal Judges; Republican Earl Warren

Wonder why folks on the far right hate reasonable federal judges of all political stripes? Because they strike down unconstitutional laws. The New York Times carried this obituary:

Mildred Loving, a black woman whose anger over being banished from Virginia for marrying a white man led to a landmark Supreme Court ruling overturning state miscegenation laws, died on May 2 at her home in Central Point, Va. She was 68.

Not many folks remember Mrs. Loving, but the Times provides a nice refresher course on this ugly part of our history.

By their own widely reported accounts, Mrs. Loving and her husband, Richard, were in bed in their modest house in Central Point in the early morning of July 11, 1958, five weeks after their wedding, when the county sheriff and two deputies, acting on an anonymous tip, burst into their bedroom and shined flashlights in their eyes. A threatening voice demanded, “Who is this woman you’re sleeping with?”

Mrs. Loving answered, “I’m his wife.”

Mr. Loving pointed to the couple’s marriage certificate hung on the bedroom wall. The sheriff responded, “That’s no good here."

Eventually, the case wound its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where Chief Justice Earl Warren struck down Virginia's law that prevented people of different races from being married. Virginia trial Judge Leon M. Bazile, in language Chief Justice Warren would recall, said that if God had meant for whites and blacks to mix, he would have not placed them on different continents. Judge Bazile reminded the defendants that “as long as you live you will be known as a felon.”

You will recall the race riots in Little Rock, the protests around Brown v. Board out of Topeka. The Loving case faced a similar outcry from the racists. Since those decisions, the far right wing has figured out that they only way to have unconstitutional laws upheld is to pack the federal courts at all levels.

When McCain talks about appointing judges like Scalia, what he is saying is that he is not going to appoint folks like Chief Justice Earl Warren. Warren is viewed as a turn-coat. Despite being elected as the Republican Governor of California and the Republican VP candidate in 1948, Warren did such crazy things as saying separate was not equal (Brown v. Board), that people should be told their rights (Miranda v. AZ) and that all humans are created equal and can marry people of different races (Loving).

I'm holding my breath for McBush to say he's going to appoint the next Earl Warren.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

McCain Appeases Religious Right With Promises to Appoint Activist Judges

Have you ever heard a Democratic candidate talking about appointing activist judges to the bench? Of course not, we have too much respect for a neutral, third branch of the government. The judicial cannons require judges not to pre-judge cases, but McCain is promising to appoint activists to the bench who will do his bidding.

McCain, in a speech in Winston-Salem, promised to support judges like Alito and Roberts. This is nice code language for ignoring previous case law and deciding cases the way the religious right wants. McCain has previously said he would appoint judges like Scalia and would Sen. Sam Brownback (R - KS) help pick the judges. Under Altio & Roberts, the decisions have all been focused on a erosion of civil liberties. McCain bashed various opinions, bashed the entire 9th Circuit and said there is systematic abuse by our federal judges. Lest he forget, Alberto Gonzales made it his #1 priority to appoint right wing judges to the bench. For the last 8 years, Bush has been packing all levels of the federal bench with ultra-conservative judges. Are they the systematic abusers McCain is talking about?

Here's the real deal - the religious right doesn't trust McCain. The religious right has been focused on taking over the Supreme Court. Here's how the Houston Chronicle puts it:

By speaking about judges, McCain offered an olive branch to the Christian right, which as been deeply suspicious of McCain.

He has clashed with its leaders and worked against them on issues like campaign finance reform. He also joined the "Gang of 14," a group of senators — seven Republicans and seven Democrats — who avoided a showdown over judges by agreeing to preserve the minority party's right to block President Bush's nominees with the filibuster.

At the time, Republicans held majority control of the Senate; today, they are in the minority. McCain told reporters Monday he would be hard-pressed to find a Republican opposed to the deal "now that the numbers have changed."

Despite his rocky relations with the right, McCain's record on their top priorities — cultural issues like abortion — is very conservative.

McCain doesn't want judges who will apply the law, he wants activist judges who will side with the religious right, regardless of the Constitution, precedent or the law.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Stem Cell Wars

The Stem Cell wars have made it through the second round with hope and good science on the winning side.

Last Friday the Court of Appeals affirmed the ballot language written by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan. The anti-stem cell forces wanted misleading language on the ballot, but a Court of Appeals affirmed what we all know was going on - they were attempting to ban stem cell research. The Missouri Cures website has a great article on this issue.

Even better news came on Sunday when the anti-stem cell forces failed to get the 150,000 signatures needed to get a amendment to the constitution on the ballot, AGAIN. However, Round III has been promised. Lori Buffa, the leader of Cures Without Cloning (the anti-stem cell group with the misleading name) told the Columbia Tribune the following:
"CWC will continue our educational efforts throughout this year and resubmit our initiative in November. Hopefully, by this time next year our vast organization of trained volunteer circulators will be collecting signatures for the 2010 election cycle."

So, another win for sanity, respecting the voters wishes and Missouri not being the only state in the union to criminalize stem cell research.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Bush + McCain = McBush

Want to know the differences between Bush and McCain? Take the Bush/McCain Challenge. The first question - Who said "I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned"?

Festival Licensing Bill

Below is the unedited email from Councilwoman Beth Gottstein regarding KC Festival Licensing. Please contact Senators Koster and Callahan today and tell them to support Democratic Senator Jolie Justus' bill, SB 1001.

You live, work or play in KCMO. You contribute to the Missouri taxbase and have a stake in our quality of life issues. You are a stakeholder. I ask that you exercise your voice.

The clock is ticking. Please help us pass the festival licensing. Please contact the following and urge your family and friends to do the same. Remind them that when the Kansas City local tax base grows, it strengthens Missouri's revenues. Ask them to stop placing the interests of Baltimore big business before Missourians.

Senator Koster:
Capitol Phone: 573-751-1430/ Capitol Fax: 573-751-9751

Senator Callahan:
Capitol Phone: 573- 751-3074/ Capitol Fax: 573- 751-4551

Other senators contact information:

With housing starts dipping, gas prices climbing and the highest percentage of Missourians without health insurance since the great depression, the proposed festival licensing might not seem like a high priority to the Council and to me. Yet, for these reasons, and others, I am fighting for it in Jefferson City. The Baltimore-based Cordish Company is a crucial player for Kansas City's economic future. However, it is not the lone player. If we cannot protect our local businesses, and merely shift revenues from other parts of the City, to downtown, there is no net gain for KCMO. It is essential that our Power and Light district succeeds, but not at the expense of our local business community's progress.

Our local businesses pay earnings, profits and sales taxes, encourage dollars from regional communities, provide employment opportunities, and supplement our basic services. Festival designation could offer support to Kansas City entertainment districts Local, established entrepreneurs, like those in the West Side, 18th & Vine, Crossroads, Shoal Creek, Martin City and Waldo. With input and oversight from the City Council and our neighborhoods, the designation creates a means for established Kansas City business districts, to reduce administration and direct resources to pressing demands, such as security and service. Yet, state passage is not a simple endeavor. Our efforts have failed in the past.

Predictably, as we get closer to achieving our goal, we are now faced with serious claims and the threat of a lawsuit from the Cordish Company. They incorrectly allege its established festival legislation is exclusive to Kansas City's Power and Light district and was guaranteed by the City of KCMO. Furthering the debate, Cordish has engaged a powerful, experienced lobbyist to fight us in Jefferson City, with traction. While our Baltimore partner has significantly invested in our downtown, so has the City.

The Power and Light district is a unique experience. Nothing can threaten this. I traveled to Baltimore and met w the Cordishes on the matter. I spoke with leaders from St Louis, Louisville, Pittsburg and others areas with Cordish development. Many factors contribute to the promise of the Power and Light district, the least of which is its festival designation. If our other business districts obtain the festival designation, the result will create a environment which raises the overall attractiveness of Kansas City, but does not mirror the Power and Light district's. It will not upset the Power and Light district's competitive advantage or distinctive qualities.

As you may have read, Cordish has contacted the City alleging that:

*the City's supp of the Festival Dist Bill may lead to a lawsuit from Cordish;

*the City remains bound to support an exclusive legislative privilege to Cordish; although this exceptional promise is not outlined or suggested in the entire development agreement or subsequent amendments;

*the current City Council cannot supp a bill which bens the City's numerous small business districts, although both the prior and current Council resolved that the festival designation for all KCMO business districts is one of our priorities; and

*the Festival District Bill is "motivated solely by individual political contributions to individual Council persons." This one is so far-fetched, it does not merit comment.

A sustainable competitive advantage based on Missouri statute is not a right that the City could have offered during negotiations, and it was not. The Festival District legislation provides, separate and apart from the P&L Entertainment District Statute, subject to City approval, limited but important opportunities for the numerous small KCMO business districts. In no way does the proposed legislation impact the state statute upon which Cordish relies.

I encourage you to contact your Senators and especially Senators Koster and Callahan. It must be impressed on them to support local business, the Missouri taxbase and ultimately, their constituents. It is crucial that the senators understand their efforts place Baltimore big business profits ahead of Missourians'. If they do not understand that Cordish has benefited from millions in KCMO and state TIF support, please help send the message. For Cordish to prevent KC's local businesses from receiving the same designation that it enjoys, counters the collaborative spirit on which the Power and Light district plan was generated.

Again, please contact your state legislators, and urge your friends to do the same. Let them know that while Cordish is a valued player in KCMO, Jefferson City should not let them call the shots for all of KCMO's businesses.

Candidate Questionnaires Online!!

Over at the main CCP website, the Committee for County Progress continues its commitment to good, clean government by publishing the results of the questionnaires it sent to the candidates for the positions for which the CCP will be issuing endorsements.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Koster Opposes "Festival Liquor Licensing"

Here's an interesting tid bit. Go to Gone Mild for an interesting post on "Koster Defies Kansas City Priorities."

Several folks on KC City Council would like to see a Festival Liquor License. It could be used for events at 18th and Vine, Waldo Pub Crawl, Brookside Art Fair, Westport Art Fair, Crossroads Art District, etc. Right now, only the Cordish owned Power and Light District allows folks to walk around with a beer in their hand.

SB 1001 is sponsored by Sen. Jolie Justus (D - KC) and co-sponsored by Sen. Victor Callahan (D-KC) and Sen. Yvonne Wilson (D - KC). Why would Koster fight his fellow Democrats? With the Democratic primary for Attorney General coming up in August, with Jeff Harris already having an in with Democrats, while Chris is trying to prove his Democratic ties, why fight with 3 life long Democratic senators from KC?