While we await the reports on Obama’s latest Missouri visit from Blue Girl and Michael, take a look at Obama’s latest Missouri ad.
What do you think?
This week is a bit slower than some recent ones, probably because of the 4th of July, but there are still some cool events coming up:
Tuesday, July 1 7 PM
A really exciting event at Left Bank Books tonight with David Sirota, author of the new book “The Uprising.” In addition to being a New York Times bestselling author and this year’s winner of the “Colorado’s Best Columnist” award from 5280 Magazine, Sirota is an awesome blogger on Openleft.com. You can check out some of his posts here. One of my personal favorites is Sirota kicking Neil Cavuto’s arse in a debate over NAFTA on Fox . More info here.
Tuesday, July 1, 7 PM
The St. Louis County incarnation of Drinking Liberally is having their monthly gathering on Tuesday; here’s the official announcement: “We’ll be Drinking Liberally but responsibly at our new venue, Mike Duffy’s at 124 W. Jefferson in Kirkwood (right across the street from the old venue) this Tuesday, July 1, from 7 to 9 pm. ” DL has been a smashing success across the country and is a great way to meet fellow liberals.
Wednesday, July 2, 7 PM
The Latin American Forum is showing a really cool-sounding movie about Chiapas and the battle against NAFTA at 7 PM: details at the IOW calendar page.
Friday, July 4th: arrange your sparklers in the shape of a peace sign?
Update: We now have a real event for the 4th! The Obama campaign will be registering voters. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in helping.
Saturday, July 5th:
The first Saturday of each month, St. Louis SpeaksOut protests the war in front of the St. Louis Zoo’s giant sculpture. Details here.
Sunday, July 6th 12 – 5 PM.
A really interesting event commemorating the 1877 General Strike and the important role St. Louis played in it. There is a lot of fascinating history surrounding St. Louis’s role in the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, and some of the origins and practices of Fair St. Louis. You can find out more at the facebook page .
Finally, I’d like to ask those of you who will be supporting Obama in the Presidential elections to consider the following action. Senator Obama is in a difficult position regarding the FISA bill, but its important for progressives to continue to pressure him to do the right thing. Please join the mybarackobama group to let Obama know that we don’t want congress to grant retroactive immunity to the telecom companies who illegally spied on Americans (note: to do this you have to join mybarackobama.com, which is a tacit indication that you will be supporting Obama. I of course think this is a perfectly logical thing for progressives to do, but don’t want anyone to think that I was tricking you into joining the group). Here’s some helpful background about retroactive immunity . If anyone else has a helpful background synopsis, perhaps you can post it on the Wall or a discussion board for the group. Thanks to Eric Hoffpauir for the suggestion. Important: Since signing up for the group, I got about 15 emails in less than an hour. Unless you want this, make sure you click “Do not receive emails” or “Receive a daily digest” at the bottom right of the group page after you sign up for the Telecom Immunity group.
Have a patriotic and meaningful week,
Last week, Ronny Richardson, the executive director of the Missouri House Democratic Campaign Committee, talked to me about the House races that the Committee considers its top priorities.
He started with two incumbent seats that will be a challenge to hold, both in the north central part of the state, both heavily Republican and yet both won by Democrats in ’06–by narrow margins. Rebecca McClanahan’s race in District 2 (Putnam, Sullivan, and Adair counties, butting up against the Iowa border) was a squeaker. She got 50.7 percent of the vote and pulled that off because, as a nurse, she emphasized the health care issue in a poor district that had been hit hard by Republican health care cuts. She also capitalized on her ties to the one liberal stronghold in the area, Truman State University. Perhaps Republicans didn’t take her seriously enough. They won’t make that mistake again.
Tom Shively, a former educator, is running for re-election in District 8 (directly beneath the 2nd, Linn, Macon, and Shelby counties). Like McClanahan, he emphasized the health care issue in his ’06 victory (51 percent of the vote) in a county hurting from the Medicaid cuts. Ronny tells me that a contributing factor in Tom’s win is that he’s a “super nice, likable guy”, whereas the Republican incumbent he defeated was … not. Kathy Chinn alienated lots of people, and in rural areas, that kind of reputation gets noticed.
Those are the only two Democratic incumbent races Ronny focused on, but he did mention that a top priority is to see that Jill Schupp keeps the seat Sam Page is vacating (HD82) in the Dem column. And he believes she will succeed. She and her volunteers have been knocking on those doors.
As far as seats that have been in Republican hands, the St. Louis Metro area has five that the HDCC is particularly focused on. Jeanne Kirkton, whom I wrote about last month, is running for an open seat in HD 91 (Webster Groves, a well-to-do suburb of St. Louis).
Until 2006, Webster was a safe seat for the Rs:
2000: Fares(R) 54.1, Webb(D)45.9
2002: Fares (R) 57.5, Sifton (D) 42.5
2004: Fares (R) 82.6, Henry (Green) 17.4
But last time around, Jim Trout came within a hair: Fares–50.7, Trout–49.3. He lost by 149 votes out of 17,275–against a well established incumbent. Now it’s an open seat. And there’s this to consider, as well: Jeanne ran for Gibbons’ state Senate seat in 2004. She lost the race 51.9 to 46.4, but in HD 91, she got 51 percent of the vote.
The other St. Louis County candidate with a good shot at taking a Republican seat is Vicki Englund (HD 85). Vicki has worked on campaigns for other people, most notably Representative Pat Yaeger, so she has a good grasp of what she needs to do to win, and she has surrounded herself with experienced staff.
Her opponent, Cloria Brown, is a low profile candidate, one of those loyal Republican footsoldiers who got the nod because those in charge figured it was her turn. The seat has been held by Republican (hoo boy, is he Republican) Jim Lembke, who is running for the Senate, in one of the most hotly contested Senate races in the state. He’ll pull a lot of conservative voters to the polls, which can only benefit Cloria Brown. On the other hand, even when he held the House seat himself, he only managed to pull 52 percent in ’06 against Bob Burns–and that was when Lembke was an incumbent.
Tuesday and Wednesday I’ll write about the top tier races in St. Charles County, Columbia, and the western part of the state.
Many of us in this community are angry and felt royally betrayed after Claire McCaskill voted for cloture for the FISA Amendments bill last week, and although the final vote has not yet been taken, few of us have any real expectations that she will redeem her past votes to gut the 4th amendment.
There has been lots of soul-searching because she is fine on some issues, just not the most important issues like protecting the rule of law. Many of us, myself for sure, have tried to figure out how she can be made to suffer some consequences so that she will maybe think more carefully before she betrays Democratic principles in the future.
However, I havn’t heard much about Barack Obama’s volte face on the FISA issue here, grievious as it is–especially to those of us like me who supported him enthusiastically during the primary. Many suspected that he would moderate his rhetoric and make the move to the so-called “center” as part of his reelection strategy, we just didn’t expect it on this particular issue since he had seemingly addressed it so emphatically earlier; and, of course, the Constitution just seems too important to provide a Sistah Souljah moment.
So if we’re all over McCaskill for her FISA votes, shouldn’t we be all over Obama as well?
There are, however, a few propositions that have to be examined when we approach the problem of Obama and his FISA sell-out:
1. Obama’s stance on FISA is no more than political expedience.
Well duh! He is very careful in his statement on FISA Amendments Bill not to actually endorse any of its content. But he just as clearly wants it to go away as an issue during the campaign. Fasaha on Dailykos argues that he is responding to his polling:
I think the answer is in his presidential polling. Barack’s deficit on terrorism leadership in recent polls is actually worse than I thought: according to TIME Magazine’s June 26 poll’s internals, he trails McCain by 22 points, Moreover, 81% of the country rates this as “extremely” or “very important” to their vote.
To take this argument a step further, his past record and his stated beliefs show that Obama has always been first and foremost a pragmatist, as Tom Daschle noted in a recent Washington Post article:
Those who accomplish the most are those who don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good, … Barack is a pragmatist. In that sense, he has a larger vision but oftentimes knows that we can’t get there with one legislative effort. When these occasions arise, he is willing to accept progress, even marginal gain, as a step toward that vision.”
The fact that Obama’s main opponent, Hillary Clinton, began her rightward shift much earlier in anticipation of her presidential run, affirms the common wisdom that such a shift to the center is necessary to win the presidency. Her Iraq votes and her sponsorship of the Flag-Burning Amendment come to mind most immediately.
2. Political expediency during a presidential campaign where so much is on the line justifies an awful lot of drek.
I actually buy this up to a point. I believe that when a political goal is defined, one expects one’s political representative to work to achieve that goal as effectively as possible. In this case the goal is the presidency. This election in particular is too important to cede to Republicans because we insist that our candidate’s rhetoric reflect a progressive agenda that does not necessarily have wide purchase among the electorate as a whole.
I did not attack McCaskill for some of her expedient campaign postures, and I will refrain from lavishing opprobrium on Obama now. If Obama’s weak stance on FISA is intended as a platform on which to play out his stated intention to bring the campaign fight to formerly red states–states that might welcome economic populism coupled with a “strong” national security stance–then I just hope that it’s successful.
The only problem that I have is that I am not sure that this tactic will really be effective. As the Washington Post observes, Republicans have jumped on Obama’s FISA stance with lug-soled boots, loudly proclaiming a sighting of the infamous “flip-flopper” first sighted to great effect in Kerry’s 2004 campaign:
“It does seem to reflect a willingness . . . to change on positions, to be more liberal in the primary, to moving more conservative in the general election,” said Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.). “I guess I should welcome that, but it looks like, to me, either inexperience or incredible flip-flopping.”
The Post notes that, in addition, Obama also risks disillusioning a large segment of his base when he most needs their support:
But even some who should be his core constituents — in the Democratic Party’s progressive wing and the liberal blogosphere — have taken his recent maneuvers as a wake-up call. They are warning the senator that in his quest to reach voters in the middle of the political spectrum, he risks depressing the enthusiasm of the voters who clinched the nomination for him.
Apart from the of risk destroying his “brand,” as the The Huffington Post put it, Obama’s facile response to this issue may really indicate a serious misreading of the politics of the issue and thus fail as a pragmatic response to the political situation. This case is best made by Glenn Greenwald hereand can be summed up as follows:
… The very idea that Bush/Cheney policies are the “center,” or that one must move towards their approach in order to succeed, ignores the extreme shifts in public opinion generally regarding how our country has been governed over the last seven years.
One could argue that national security plays a larger role in presidential elections than in Congressional races, and that very well may be. But was John Kerry’s narrow 2004 loss to George Bush due to the perception that Kerry — who ran as fast as he could towards the mythical Center — was Soft on Terrorism? Or was it due to the understandable belief that his rush to the Center meant that he stood for nothing, that he was afraid of his own views — the real hallmark, the very definition, of weakness?
As M.S. Belows, Jr. puts it in an essay on The Huffington Post:
On the FISA legislation, Obama is coming very close to failing both the expediency and principle tests.
What is the Right Response?
We have to win this election. McCain is a continuation of the nightmare of the last eight years–vote for him if you want to see the last fifty years of progress completely dismantled. Consequently, we have to continue to support Obama, and work as hard as we can to see him elected. We have to hope that he knows what he is doing, and is not so overcome by the gravity of the race to be President that he succumbs to bad advice.
This is not to say, however, that we should roll over and play dead. Whether or not we can change his response to the FISA Amendments Bill, we need to let him know that we are out there in force. We need to keep the letters coming–and, for those in this community who are not Face-Book phobic, we might consider joining this group: Senator Obama – Please Vote NO on Telecom Immunity – Get FISA Right. According to SusanG of the Dailykos, it now has 2300+ members who have joined just since Thursday, making it one of the ten largest groups on the site.
If he wins this election though, our job will not be done. We will need to watch and make our voices heard; if we find that our President crosses the lines in the sand that, as progressives, we need to draw, then we can give him the response we long to give to McCaskill.
To do this we need a strong progressive movement. A movement that may well take years to build. We need to make sure that nobody defines the center on the right side of the line in the future. As McJoan of Dailykos says on this topic:
Our job … isn’t go off sulking in a fit of pique because our leaders let us down. Blustering, whining, refusing to play anymore is the least helpful and productive of avenues. I keep coming back to Howard Dean and his admonition to us at Yearly Kos in Chicago that we are working on a long term project here to take our party back. Making this party ours again is going to take a lot of work and a long time. We do that by staying engaged. We do that by telling our representatives, including our presidential candidate (who is STILL head and shoulders better than the alternative) what we expect of them and by making their decisions matter.
So to answer the question I posed above when trying to state the problem I have been struggling with: Yes, we tell Obama, just as we tell McCaskill what we believe, and, no we don’t go after Obama full-throttle with every punishment we can think of–yet.
UPDATE I. Maybe all the pressure is paying off? This report is not confirmed, but sounds good. Of course, now we have to be ready to get Obama’s back since it is not good political mojo to open oneself up to further “flip-flop” charges.
UPDATE II. In the light of the possible change of heart on Obama’s part indicated in the article above, see this article in the Nation. Proves that sufficient pressure can be effective–coupled with all the other high-profile brouhaha such as the most recent Olbermann commentary. We have just got to keep it up until after the vote.
Great advance work won’t necessarily win an election. Bad advance can help you lose. It’s all in the details. Don’t believe me? Ask the guy from the 1996 campaign who approved that fake railing.
The venue starts to take shape.
Barack Obama will be speaking in Independence, Missouri tomorrow. If it’s news to you now and you want to attend, you’re out of luck. The free tickets for the event reportedly went in two hours.
The local NBC affiliate does a “standup” for the 5:00 p.m. news.
We received a media advisory today which stated:
…Chicago, IL – On Monday, June 30, 2008, United States Senator Barack Obama will visit Independence, Missouri. Unfortunately, tickets are no longer available.
This afternoon at the Truman Auditorium, workers will begin construction on the site of Monday’s event with Senator Obama. The open site build is a chance for members of the media to catch a behind-the-scenes glimpse of everything that goes into making a presidential campaign event.
SUNDAY, JUNE 29
EVENT WITH BARACK OBAMA SITE PREPARATION
When: 3:00-7:00 pm
Where: Truman Memorial Building…
So, Blue Girl and I drove to the site and spent a few hours watching the goings on as the space for the event was slowly transformed.
The auditorium looks to be able to hold approximately one thousand people, hence the advance ticketing.
The backdrop has to look just right.
We had the opportunity to have a pleasant conversation with a volunteer, and “organizing fellow”, who was waiting for her meeting to start:
…MB: Do you have sort of a guideline? What do organizing fellows do?
Volunteer: Yeah, we basically are organizers. I mean, we get people to host house meetings and bring all their friends and we try to get them to volunteer for the campaign.
MB: And so they’re bringing you out for this event tomorrow to…
Volunteer: Help out.
Volunteer: Because, you know, they don’t have a huge staff here…we’re sort of like the first line volunteers…
…MB: …Are you sort of new to activism now?
Volunteer: I’ve been active in, well like I used to be on the board of the Women’s Political Caucus, so I’ve been more active in local type things, not, you know, like I said, not on a presidential campaign, so.
MB: And what made you decide to do that?
Volunteer: Oh…eight years of being really pissed off.[laughter]
BG: That’ll do it.
Volunteer: You know, and then you hear, you finally hear a voice that makes you get your butt up off the couch and do something and I’ve heard the right voice…
Volunteers are briefed by a staffer (left).
The logistics for an undertaking like this are staggering. All of the campaign staffers we saw are relatively young. You’ve got to be to be able to take the long hours and the life on the road.
We’ll return to Independence early tomorrow morning to cover the actual event.
( – promoted by Clark)
I know that Missouri doesn’t have a U.S. Senate race in 2008. But 33 other states do. And anyone following the news over the last year-and-a-half has read about Senate Republicans filibustering anything and everything that moves, breaking the record for filibusters in a two-year Congressional session in less than one year!
It is critical that we expand our majority in the U.S. Senate to reduce this historic rate of Republican obstructionism, so that an Obama administration can proceed with an agenda that helps rather than hinders American progress. I have been following this on my blog, Senate Guru, very closely and have been pushing for us to expand the map of competitive Senate races.
To that end, I have established the Expand the Map! ActBlue page, raising much needed funds for Democratic Senate candidates in uphill but competitive (or very-close-to-competitive) Senate races. Every one of these Democratic Senate candidates who wins her or his race means one less Republican filibustering progressive legislation. And every one of these Democratic Senate candidates has a message that will resonate with voters – all they need are the resources to get their messages out to the electorate and prevent the Republican incumbents from muddying their records.
With Monday night being the deadline for the second fundraising quarter of 2008, it is critical that we get funds in to help these Democratic candidates show strength. So, please, please, please contribute if you can to any of the terrific candidates for Senate on the Expand the Map! ActBlue page. Even though these candidates don’t represent your state, if elected, they will defeat the Republican obstructionism that very much impacts you and your state.
Sally Quinn wanted to bond with Tim Russert at his funeral?
You might remember this:
By Sally Quinn
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 2, 1998; Page E01
…”He came in here and he trashed the place,” says Washington Post columnist David Broder, “and it’s not his place….”
…Actually, it could be said that Sally Quinn has been floundering around for the last couple of decades, when she failed first as a journalist, then as a novelist, before emerging as a hostess in a Washington society that even she admits is in its death throes. Which brings us to a central question: Who appointed Quinn as the mouthpiece for the permanent Washington establishment, if there is such an animal? A peek into Quinn’s motives reveals a hidden political agenda and the venom of a hostess scorned, and ultimately, an aging semi-journalist propped up by a cadre of media buddies, carping at the Clintons because they wouldn’t kiss her ring…
That was then, this is now.
Apparently Sally Quinn, a non-Catholic, reported that she took Communion at Tim Russert’s funeral. A Catholic religious service.
Apparently a few people aren’t too happy about that.
…People who take their worship seriously don’t care for that. She went to their church and trashed the place. And it’s not her place.
We are not worthy.
I’m beginning to believe in karma.
People accept plastic bags without a thought. You’d accept one to carry a box of cough syrup out of Walgreens, right? Why not? They’re free. Not.
They cost at both ends. They cost petroleum in the making–enough to drive a car a mile for every fourteen bags you make.
And they cost cities when it comes time to dispose of them–up to 17 cents a bag–wasting millions of taxpayer dollars. Of course, they don’t all get disposed of properly. Some areas of the ocean have as much as six pounds of plastic bags for every one pound of fish.
But cloth bags are such a nuisance. I’ll just go with paper instead, you may think. Bad idea. Paper bags are no better. They take just as long to biodegrade in landfills and take up more space while they’re doing it. It takes 70 percent more greenhouse gases to make a paper bag and creates 50 times more water pollution.
So, be a good doobie and get some cloth bags. If you use one twice a week for a couple of years, you’ll save 832 plastic bags. That’s enough petroleum to drive a car sixty miles.
Jeanne Kirkton tells me that she and Jeanette Mott Oxford have discussed the plastic bag problem, and if Jeanne’s elected to the state rep seat in the 91st, she and Jeanette may well sponsor legislation to limit their use. I don’t foresee them trying to ban all plastic bags: people might still be using them to get their grapes home. But if so, they’ll be encouraged to recycle.
Was Jimmy Carter right? Uh, yes.
A (now) very old protest sign.
Oh, no, they told us, Iraq isn’t a war about oil. That’s cynical and simplistic, they said. It’s about terror and al Qaeda and toppling a dictator and spreading democracy and protecting ourselves from weapons of mass destruction. But one by one, these concocted rationales went up in smoke, fire, and ashes. And now the bottom turns out to be….the bottom line. It is about oil…
Go. Read the whole thing.
I had a conversation the other day about how we got here. We’re 27 years behind where we should be:
…And Ronald Reagan’s first official acts of office included removing Jimmy Carter’s solar panels from the roof of the White House, and reversing most of Carter’s conservation and alternative energy policies…
What was the conversation like back then? Who was selling what?:
October 28, 1980
…HARRY ELLIS: Mr. President, as you have said, Americans, through conservation, are importing much less oil today than we were even a year ago. Yet U.S. dependence on Arab oil as a percentage of total imports is today much higher than it was at the time of the 1973 Arab oil embargo, and for some time to came, the loss of substantial amounts of Arab oil could plunge the U.S. into depression. This means that a bridge must be built out of this dependence. Can the United States develop synthetic fuels and other alternative energy sources without damage to the environment, and will this process mean steadily higher fuel bills for American families?
MR. CARTER: I don’t think there’s any doubt that, in the future, the cost of oil is going to go up. What I’ve had as a basic commitment since I’ve been President is to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It can only be done in two ways: one, to conserve energy – to stop the waste of energy – and, secondly, to produce more American energy. We’ve been very successful in both cases. We’ve now reduced the importing of foreign oil in the last year alone by one-third. We imported today 2 million barrels of oil less than we did the same date just a year ago. This commitment has been opening up a very bright vista for our nation in the future, because with the windfall profits tax as a base, we now have an opportunity to use American technology and American ability and American natural resources to expand rapidly the production of synthetic fuels, yes; to expand rapidly the production of solar energy, yes; and also to produce the traditional kinds of American energy. We will drill more oil and gas wells this year than any year in history. We’ll produce more coal this year than any year in history. We are exporting more coal this year than any year in history. And we have an opportunity now with improved transportation systems and improved loading facilities in our ports, to see a very good opportunity on a world international market, to replace OPEC oil with American coal as a basic energy source. This exciting future will not only give us more energy security, but will also open up vast opportunities for Americans to live a better life and to have millions of new jobs associated with this new and very dynamic industry now in prospect because of the new energy policy that we’ve put into effect.
MR. SMITH: Would you repeat the question now for Governor Reagan?
MR. ELLIS: Governor Reagan, Americans, through conservation, are importing much less oil today than we were even a year ago. And yet, U.S. reliance on Arab oil as a percentage of total imports is much higher today than it was during the 1973 Arab oil embargo. And the substantial loss of Arab oil could plunge the United States into depression. The question is whether the development of alternative energy sources, in order to reduce this dependence, can be done without damaging the environment, and will it mean for American families steadily higher fuel bills?
MR. REAGAN: I’m not so sure that it means steadily higher fuel costs, but I do believe that this nation has been portrayed for too long a time to the people as being energy-poor when it is energy-rich. The coal that the President mentioned – yes, we have it – and yet one-eighth of our total coal resources is not being utilized at all right now. The mines are closed down; there are 22000 miners out of work. Most of this is due to regulations which either interfere with the mining of it or prevent the burning of it:. With our modern technology, yes, we can burn our coal within the limits of the Clean Air Act. I think, as technology improves, we’ll be able to do even better with that. The other thing is that we have only leased out – begun to explore – 2% of our outer continental shelf for oil, where it is believed, by everyone familiar with that fuel and that source of energy, that there are vast supplies yet to be found. Our Government has, in the last year or so, taken out of multiple use millions of acres of public lands that once were – well, they were public lands subject to multiple use – exploration for minerals and so forth. It is believed that probably 70% of the potential oil in the United States is probably hidden in those lands, and no one is allowed to even go and explore to find out if it is there. This is particularly true of the recent efforts to shut down part of Alaska. Nuclear power: There were 36 power plants planned in this country. And let me add the word safety; it must be done with the utmost of safety. But 32 of those have given up and canceled their plans to build, and again, because Government regulations and permits, and so forth, take – make it take – more than twice as long to build a nuclear plant in the United States as it does to build one in Japan or in Western Europe. We have the sources here. We are energy rich, and coal is one of the great potentials we have.
MR. SMITH: President Carter, your comment?
MR. CARTER: To repeat myself, we have this year the opportunity, which we’ll realize, to produce 800 million tons of coal – an unequaled record in the history of our country. Governor Reagan says that this is not a good achievement, and he blames restraints on coal production on regulations – regulations that affect the life and the health and safety of miners, and also regulations that protect the purity of our air and the quality our water and our land. We cannot cast aside these regulations. We have a chance in the next 15 years, insisting upon the health and safety of workers in the mines, and also preserving the same high air and water pollution standards, to triple the amount of coal we produce. Governor Reagan’s approach to our energy policy, which has already proven its effectiveness, is to repeal, or to change substantially, the windfall profits tax – to return a major portion of $227 billion back to the oil companies; to do away with the Department of Energy; to short-circuit our synthetic fuels program; to put a minimal emphasis on solar power; to emphasize strongly nuclear power plants as a major source of energy in the future. He wants to put all our eggs in one basket and give that basket to the major oil companies.
MR. SMITH: Governor Reagan.
MR. REAGAN: That is a misstatement, of course, of my position. I just happen to believe that free enterprise can do a better job of producing the things that people need than government can. The Department of Energy has a multi-billion-dollar budget in
excess of $10 billion. It hasn’t produced a quart of oil or a lump of coal, or anything else in the line of energy. And for Mr. Carter to suggest that I want to do away with the safety laws and with the laws that pertain to clean water and clean air, and so forth. As Governor of California, I took charge of passing the strictest air pollution laws in the United States – the strictest air quality law that has even been adopted in the United States. And we created an OSHA – an Occupational Safety and Health Agency – for the protection of employees before the Federal Government had one in place. And to this day, not one of its decisions or rulings has ever been challenged. So, I think some of those charges are missing the point. I am suggesting that there are literally thousands of unnecessary regulations that invade every facet of business, and indeed, very much of our personal lives, that are unnecessary; that Government can do without; that have added $130 billion to the cost of production in this country; and that are contributing their part to inflation. And I would like to see us a little more free, as we once were.
MR. SMITH: President Carter, another crack at that?
MR. CARTER: Sure. As a matter of fact,. the air pollution standard laws that were passed in California were passed over the objections of Governor Reagan, and this is a very well-known fact. Also, recently, when someone suggested that the Occupational Safety and Health Act should be abolished, Governor Reagan responded, amen. The offshore drilling rights is a question that Governor Reagan raises often. As a matter of fact, in the proposal for the Alaska lands legislation, 100% of all the offshore lands would be open for exploration, and 95% of all the Alaska lands, where it is suspected or believed that minerals might exist. We have, with our five-year plan for the leasing of offshore lands, proposed more land to be drilled than has been opened up for drilling since this program first started in 1954. So we’re not putting restraints on American exploration, we’re encouraging it in every way we can.
MR. SMITH: Governor Reagan, you have the last word on this question.
MR. REAGAN: Yes. If it is a well-known fact that I opposed air pollution laws in California, the only thing I can possibly think of is that the President must be suggesting the law that the Federal Government tried to impose on the State of California – not a law, but regulations – that would have made it impossible to drive an automobile within the city limits of any California city, or to have a place to put it if you did drive it against their regulations. It would have destroyed the economy of California, and, I must say, we had the support of Congress when we pointed out how ridiculous this attempt was by the Environmental Protection Agency. We still have the strictest air control, or air pollution laws in the country. As for offshore oiling, only 2% now is so leased and is producing oil. The rest, as to whether the lands are going to be opened in the next five years or so – we’re already five years behind in what we should be doing. There is more oil now, in the wells that have been drilled, than has been taken out in 121 years that they’ve been drilled…
It’s a more than a little ironic that they named an airport and a turnpike for him as part of their legacy project. And people voted for the guy who said, “…the only thing I can possibly think of is that the President must be suggesting the law that the Federal Government tried to impose on the State of California – not a law, but regulations – that would have made it impossible to drive an automobile within the city limits of any California city, or to have a place to put it if you did drive it against their regulations…”
Yep, that airport and that turnpike are going to be monuments to our collective stupidity.
Put your hand on your wallet. You might want to keep it there as long as Kenny Hulshof is talking about “reforming” the Second Injury Fund. In fact, my warning about Hulshof’s shady motives is a corollary of this general rule: Count the silverware anytime Republicans propose to save the government money.
Hulshof says the Second Injury Fund, which compensates workers when an on-the-job injury exacerbates an already existing injury, will become insolvent in 2009. He blames Jay Nixon for that because second injury payouts have gone up from $20 million in 1993 to $63 million now. Hulshof proposes to save the fund by lowering the cap on onetime payouts from $60,000 to $40,000.
Naturally, Hulshof declines to mention, much less blame, Republican legislation in 2005 that capped the amount of the surcharges that could be levied against employers to keep the fund solvent. And although Hulshof accepts the PricewaterhouseCoopers study that backs up state auditor Susan Montee’s assertion that the fund is about to go broke, he conveniently skips the part of the study that he doesn’t like: to wit, that lowering the caps of onetime payouts would be poor business practice. (Inducing claimants to accept one time payouts instead of opting for lifelong payments saves the state money in the long run.) Oh and, by the way, PricewaterhouseCoopers also mentions that Nixon is doing a good job of administering the fund.
Oops. How inconvenient. And Hulshof believes in ignoring inconvenient information. He wants those caps on awards reduced because he doesn’t give a rat’s ass whether he saves the state money in the long run; he just wants to keep the Second Injury Fund underfunded enough so that he can, a la Norquist, drown it in a bathtub someday.
Ever since the Republican Golden Boy, Attorney General William Webster, got sent to the pen in the early nineties for treating the Fund as his private warchest, the state GOP has had it in for SIF. Anything to please Wal-Mart and Ameren UE. Screw the little guy.
Webster, in case you’ve forgotten your state history, was caught promising attorneys for plaintiffs in Second Injury Fund suits that if they’d put some goodies in his campaign warchest, they’d get favorable treatment from lawyers defending the Fund. Ever since then, SIF has been both a sour reminder of an embarrassing moment and a symbol of all the bleeding heart sympathies of Democrats. Republicans hate it.
Last year they tried to sneak the management of the Fund out of the AG’s office and put it in the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. Nathan Cooper–who’s since been sent to the pen for infractions of a different nature than Webster’s–defended the move, once the tactic came to light. Jeff Harris called the attempted stealth legislation a reminder of “the tawdry reign of William Webster as Attorney General of Missouri”.
Bad enough that Republicans won’t give up on their sneak attacks, but to paint them as altruistic concern for the little guy? Hey. Kenny. I’ll believe you’re serious about preserving the Fund so it can help injured workers. Sure I will. Just as soon as octopi speak English.