Playing coy with Gorsuch will get McCaskill nowhere

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Missouri’s biggest problem is that her Republican politicians burn red hot while the Democrats run lukewarm at best. That contrast is on full display as the zero hour for Judge Neil Gorsuch to be confirmed approaches and our Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill has to make up her mind about whether or not she is willing to reward Republicans for stealing a Supreme Court seat from a first-rate centrist and giving it to a die-hard radical ideologue with an instinct for affable obfuscation.

And make no mistake, Gorsuch is a rightwing advocate in originalist clothing. Analysis of his votes on the 10th circuit indicate that he “is to the right of both Alito and Thomas, and by a substantial margin.” His tenure will be a disaster for working people, the middle class, women and those interested in separation of church and state.

But his views, although important, are not the main issue. The other Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland is. As Gary Legum asserts in an article in Salon, the Republicans’ exercise of raw power to deny Judge Garland a seat on the court and what it presages for democratic government is the challenge that Democrats are facing:

This is not about grabbing back a “stolen” Supreme Court seat. This is about a principle of republican government that the GOP has smashed. Had the party considered Garland’s nomination and then shot him down in a fair and open vote, Democrats would have no argument here. But the unprecedented obstructionism of the Republican Party makes Gorsuch’s confirmation a proxy in a larger fight that is about the nature of political power, not ideology. And the language of power is the only one the modern Republican Party seems to understand.

Sadly, it doesn’t look like Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill is up to dealing with folks who speak that language. As I write this, she’s coyly flirting with both conservatives and progressives. According to Politico , the lady won’t commit. There are rumors that some centrist Democrats are trying to broker a deal that would let them confirm Gorsuch in return for a few scraps from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Whether or not McCaskill is part of that group – who knows? When it comes to Gorsuch, maybe she will or maybe she won’t, she’s not saying.

McCaskill has, of course, been subjected to enormous pressure to give Donald Trump a victory, and she’s not blind to the fact that Missouri went overwhelmingly for Trump – a fact that Missouri’s GOP waves around like a cudgel. As State Rep. Paul Curtman, one-time* Tea Partier extraordinaire, proclaimed, “Sen. McCaskill can show Missourians she understands the message Missouri voters sent last November by voting to confirm Judge Gorsuch.”

Maybe. Though McCaskill might do better to consider those of us who rejected that message. As well as the fact that we may be joined by more than a few disillusioned Trump voters. Along with some of those who sat out the election to protest the picture of Hillary Clinton painted by Russian provocateurs. Lots of those folks realized what they’d done on Nov. 9. Buyers remorse is a real thing.

One thing’s for sure. No one who voted for Paul Curtman will ever vote for Claire McCaskill. And if she votes to send Gorsuch along his merry, aw-shucks way to the Supreme Court, lots of folks who voted for Hillary Clinton might be of a similar mind.

The real shame, though, is that I’m obliged to cast this issue in terms of realpolitik when it’s the moral dimension that is compelling. Missouri blogger Duane Graham makes the case for what this nomination means for those of us who depend on McCaskill to stand up for our values:

In any case, what we need now is a fierce stubbornness in this fight. But we also need a fierce patience to compliment that stubbornness. John Dryden said, “Beware the fury of a patient man.” Kierkegaard said, “Patience is necessary, and one cannot reap immediately where one has sown.” Today we filibuster an injustice. Tomorrow the filibuster may be gone. And some fine day in the future we will decide, with a simple majority, who sits on the Court.

Or, maybe, just maybe, Mitch McConnell will not want what’s left of his reputation to die on a hill with Tr-mp’s tattered and tainted flag planted on it. Maybe he will keep the filibuster, Gorsuch will go back to the Tenth Circuit, and we will have a more moderate, less Scalia-like nominee. We will never know, though, unless Democrats stand up and fight like hell. …

Why doesn’t McCaskill understand that lukewarm won’t do it this time?

*I say “one-time Tea-Partier” because I’m not sure the Tea Party is a thing anymore. Doesn’t tbe fringe of the fringe now label themselves differently? A little embarrassed because of past excesses perhaps?

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (r): about that town hall

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Yesterday, via Twitter, from Representative Vicky Hartzler (r):

Rep. Vicky Hartzler‏ @RepHartzler
I’m holding a telephone town hall tomorrow at 6:30pm CST. Sign up: http://bit.ly/2nCtQxQ  #HartzlerTownHall
[….]
10:03 AM – 27 Mar 2017

Some of the responses:

.@RepHartzler get ready for some angry constituents #resist

.@RepHartzler I signed up for this but why are you afraid to actually face your constituents?

@RepHartzler Hold a real town hall with your constituents instead of this nonsense. #HartzlerTownHall #TownHall

.@RepHartzler why not hold an in person town hall? What are you afraid of?

@RepHartzler Face UR constituents!!!

Not a chance.

They seem a might bit touchy about something.

Previously:

This is what Democracy looks like – Harrisonville, Missouri – March 22, 2017 (March 23, 2017)

Judy Baker (D): speaking up for organized labor

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Yesterday afternoon supporters of organized labor in Missouri gathered in Jefferson for a small rally in the Capitol rotunda. Judy Baker (D) was one of the featured speakers:

Judy Baker (D) speaking in support of organized labor in Jefferson City, March 25, 2017.

Judy Baker (D): ….So, it’s a great day to rally. Why is it a great day to rally? And you are a rally whether you think so or not. Because, just yesterday you saw what could happen when people rise up, stand up for themselves and their neighbors, and this country. While there have been some grim days of late for our Democracy and so much has seemed lost, we must cling to conviction that our Democracy was built for moments like these for us to stand up…

[….]

But times like these require the best of us. It requires that we get up, stand up, rise up, and speak up. And that’s what we are doing today. When we come together as in past days of the labor movement we join hands, we lock arms, we march again and again. And as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, all progress is precarious. All progress is precarious. That phrase has come to live with us this past decade and culminated in the most under represented political system of our lifetime. Do you feel unrepresented? I feel unrepresented. A lot of people, the majority of this country, feels unrepresented.

Well, we’ve come here today, ever so small, but ever so mighty, to tell the powerful that we are awake. We are awake. Because of fear we have seen the rise of those who want to take us backwards. But we are awake. They want to restore some ideal they have in their mind when power was concentrated and they little guy served the master. But we are awake. They want to harken back to a day that never really existed. But we are awake.

[….]

…The tragedy [Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire] brought widespread attention to the dangers of sweatshop conditions in factories and led to the development of a series of laws, and yes, regulations, those terrible God awful things, that save people. The danger of fire in factories like the Triangle Shirtwaist was well known, but high levels of corruption in both the garment industry and city government generally insured that no useful precautions were taken to prevent fires. For a hundred and six years since the labor movement has worked hard to change that using the influence of joining together, leveraging bargaining power, and the power of marching, striking, and speaking up.

We stand here today to do the same, because the times call for it. The defeat of the [Republican] health care bill yesterday proves that we can make a difference. The people of the United States see that the doors are locked and being locked every day, they see that the ladders don’t reach to them, they see that the safety nets are broken. So they stood up, they marched, and they spoke up against the seriously flawed health care bill, a so-called fix, because we are awake.

The assault on worker’s rights is a national movement. It will take a national movement to take it back. While the GOP has had its way on right to work for less in Missouri this is not over. The people have yet to speak up and speak on it. And they will on a referendum. Missouri, prior to the passing of right to work, recently was considered a battleground state on the issue. We’re here today to show it is still a battleground state on the issue. We are here today to show it is still available to the voters to make up their minds.

The average worker in right to work states makes twelve point two percent less than other states. Missouri can’t afford that, frankly. The average worker is less likely to have health insurance. Right to work states have higher poverty, more infant mortality, weaker education systems, and higher workplace fatalities. The decline of unions in this country is directly correlated to the rise in income inequality and poverty. The transfer of wealth has been to the wealthy. Insuring worker’s rights insures all boats can rise together.

We need a Supreme Court that protects worker’s rights. We need to make sure that any changes to health care are not actually just tax breaks for the wealthy, while twenty-four million people get left behind. President Trump himself yesterday lost a two point five million dollar tax break to himself. You can clap. [applause]

We can’t expect the politically connected to give back power now. It will take the coordinated efforts of the many to take back this power. I am here today to do two things. Help rally hard working Missourians to action for the next election, to bring about change, elect people like Michela Skelton [in the 50th Legislative District], and build the wave we need to bring Missouri back to its roots of Democratic and working family values.

The best thing that we can do to rally is remember that rally is a verb. It means to gather, organize, and inspire anew. So, what will rally us? I think it is to refresh, and to commit to what it is we know to be true about our values and spend less talking about what we are against. And stand firm for what we are for. We will make change by empowering people to fight for and build our future.

One of my favorite Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes is, human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle, the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.

You’ve proven today you are. This is us. This is who we are. We’re the ones who by our actions and voices can make a difference. And we must be on the lookout for anyone who’ll put party before people.

When you woke up today you realized you were powerful. You were worthy of standing up. And others were worthy to stand up for. When you woke up today you realized this movement can happen without you, but will be better with you. When you woke up today you remembered what you were passionate about. We are awake. And being so, think of all we can do. There is much to be done and the times demand it. Let’s do this together.

If you can’t go door to door, then write a note. If you can’t write a note, then make a call. If you can’t make a call, then send a contribution. If you can, do all of these things. Just stay awake.

Let’s unlock the doors, extend the ladders, and strengthen the safety nets. We can do this together.

Thank you for being here. Let’s get to work. [applause]

Michela Skelton (D) after speaking in support of organized labor in Jefferson City, March 25, 2017.

Previously:

You got that right (March 25, 2017)

You got that right

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Indeed.

“I am a deplorable” – Trump Teabagger rally in Jefferson City – March 25, 2017

There was a small gathering of Donald Trump supporters on the grounds of the Capitol in Jefferson City this afternoon. There were intermittant showers throughout the day, but the group managed a parade around the Capitol. This being Jefferson City on a Saturday afternoon, there wasn’t a crowd along their parade route.

“Common sense conservative” – Trump Teabagger rally in Jefferson City – March 25, 2017

“Parade” – Trump Teabagger rally in Jefferson City – March 25, 2017

“America First” – Trump Teabagger rally in Jefferson City – March 25, 2017.

“God Bless the U.S.A” – Trump Teabagger rally in Jefferson City – March 25, 2017

There’s a sameness to the rally attendees, not a billionaire in the bunch, but they somehow managed to bring themselves to vote for the interests of billionaires. There’s the same defiance and resentment, directed at whoever, in the memes emblazoned on their t-shirts which we saw in the teabagger days throughout 2009.

Their great leader had a really bad week and will probably continue to do so. That won’t budge their faith in him however misplaced anyone else thinks it is.

Welcome to America in 2017.

They won’t because they’re vindictive and petty

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This afternoon from Tony Messenger, via Twitter:

Tony Messenger‏ @tonymess
Dear #moleg: The only reason you didn’t expand Medicaid was in ridiculous gambit to make #Obamacare fail. You lost. Now do the right thing.
3:34 PM – 24 Mar 2017

Not a chance. Lucy, Charlie Brown, football. I rest my case.

As always, with an impeccable sense of timing

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This afternoon the right wingnut republican controlled U.S. House of Representatives couldn’t muster enough republican votes to repeal the ACA and implement Trumpcare.

This morning from Eric Greitens (r), via Twitter:

Eric Greitens‏ @EricGreitens
It’s time to replace Obamacare now. We can’t wait any longer. Stand with me and President Trump and tell your Representative to act now.
10:31 AM – 24 Mar 2017

Bad timing.

Campaign Finance: it’s too late

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The American middle class is long gone.

Yesterday at the Missouri Ethics Commission:

C161407 03/23/2017 PRESERVE MIDDLE CLASS AMERICA Preserve Middle Class America, Inc. 1850 East Division Springfield MO 65803 3/22/2017 $120,000.00

[emphasis added]

The committee is a PAC:

C161407: Preserve Middle Class America
Committee Type: Political Action
1850 East Division Street
Springfield Mo 65803
Established Date: 12/09/2016
[….]
Information Reported On: 2017 – January Quarterly Report
Beginning Money on Hand $0.00
Monetary Receipts + $0.00
Monetary Expenditures – $0.00
Contributions Made – $0.00
Other Disbursements – $0.00
Subtotal $0.00
Ending Money On Hand $0.00

That $120,000.00 is quite a boost.

Preserve Middle Class America, Inc.? At the Missouri Secretary of State web site:

Name Preserve Middle Class America, Inc.
Address
1850 EAST DIVISION STREET
SPRINGFIELD, MO 65803
Type Nonprofit Corporation
Charter No. N01148054
Domesticity Domestic
[….]
Status Good Standing
Date Formed 6/10/2011
Duration Perpetual
[….]

Well, at least maybe they’re still trying

Ann Wagner’s tele-townhall. Pt. 1: Who made the cut? Why? How?

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Rep. Ann Wagner is showing signs that constituent pressure might be getting to her. Many of us who’ve been writing and calling her, asking that she meet with us and take a little time to hear our concerns and take our questions, learned via her email newsletter that she held a “tele-townhall,” a tried and true dodge to avoid risking a little in person give-and-take. And she clearly thinks that that’s done the trick. Here she is patting herself on the back in a recent email newsletter:

With so much happening in Washington under President Trump’s new administration and our Republican-led Congress, it is important that I continue to hear what is on your mind at home. I am thrilled that more than 9,000 of you joined us for a tele-townhall conversation Thursday night, where we discussed issues ranging from healthcare to pro-life legislation.

Just to give you a little perspective, over 400,000 folks voted in the last 2nd district election but nobody I’ve heard from seems to be very clear about how the 9,000 folks who “thrilled” Annie by “joining” her on the call were selected for the honor from among that 400,000.

I’ve personally called Wagner’s office several times to ask that she hold a public town-hall – she’s right that there’s lots going on that will affect people in the 2nd district in very serious ways and we want her – hell, we need her – to hear and respond to our concerns. The response? I was told that I could sign up for her newsletter if I wanted to know what was going on chez Rep.Wagner – never mind that, as I told her “tele-staffer,” I’ve been signed up to receive them for a long, long time and Annie’s coy little newsletter driblets don’t really do the trick. Nobody mentioned a tele-townhall to me as a possibility. Which makes sense given that the latest event – which is the only one I’ve personally ever heard about, thanks to some generous Facebook info sharing – seems to have been a surprise for even the participants.

Nor are many of us, including, by all accounts, Wagner’s staff, sure about what it takes to get in on these surprise parties, at least according to some 2nd district residents who’ve been calling and asking how to be included. One person said that she called, left contact information, and asked to participate in the next tele-townhall, and, though the actual telephone event Wagner boasts about above was held later that day, the staffer taking her information said nothing at all about it. Nor was she called. Wonder why?

I have read a report from one person who participated in that call and have heard that another just missed the surprise call inviting her to join the event. But the fact that some folks had the opportunity to listen to Rep. Wagner does not mitigate the problem. If these events are meant to substitute for actual town-halls, why can’t constituents sign up for them? Why wait to be selected? An even more basic question is why aren’t constituents being notified ahead of time that one of these events is imminent so they can do whatever is necessary to participate? Why can’t anyone tell us what it takes to be included?

Wagner has email addresses for all of us who subscribe to her newsletter – which itself indicates interest in what she has to say. It would be easy to let us all know in advance and invite our participation when she’s planning to tele-gift  us with her insights into the Trump world she seems to be embracing so wholeheartedly. It would actually be relatively trivial to set up a web-page form we could use to register for the teleconferences. Other folks do such things. I really bet that if Wagner actually cared about communicating with constituents, she could implement some process that would let us decide if we want to participate, rather than leaving us to wait breathlessly to be tapped whenever she feels like getting us – or some of us – on the line.

You don’t think she’s cherry-picking participants , do you?

The news has been full of reports about how “ugly” some Republican town halls have been over the past few weeks, prompting, comparisons to the boisterous town halls that Democrats endured during the nascent Tea Party years. There’s a big difference though, at least for Missourians. I well remember how valiantly, resolutely, and, yes, respectfully, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill handled the worked-up Tea Partiers – and some of them were, to put it mildly, really ugly.

Questions of how to conduct tele-townhalls aside, though, isn’t the real issue still that Rep. Wagner needs to take similar, face-to-face responsibility for what she is doing in Congress if she wants our respect – and our votes? Isn’t answering our questions – especially the ones that have got us hot and bothered – her job? If Wagner’s really a “representative” shouldn’t she do some representing? And if she isn’t going to represent all of us, at least by listening and responding to us, maybe she should retire. Or be retired.