I need to buy some lottery tickets.
Update: Note to “Let the people have the say” people.. party committees pick nominees in special elections, not the people. Jason Smith speaks of taking the politics out of these offices with his bill. Ha ha, yeah right dude. Update 2: Jason Smith brought up Joe Maxwell as an ‘abuse’ of the appointment system. Update 3: Someone just claimed Bill Morris was appointed Lt. Governor for 2 years after citing historical perspective. Jason Smith also indirectly referenced Chief Wana Dubie on the floor.
Update 4: After a loud debate where Jason Smith kept saying “let the people have the say”, the bill passes perfection 91-52
A lot of deficits have been accumulated over the last 8 years, but the obvious surplus of far-right Todd Akin votes continues in the 111th Congress.
This time around, Akin was one of 17 to vote against HR 577, which is described as follows “To establish a grant program to provide vision care to children, and for other purposes.” This bill would award matching grants to states that are offering “comprehensive eye examinations” for children with identified vision problems, and who are low-income children with no coverage.
The March 30 issue of the New Yorker has an article on the effects of solitary confinement that includes this account of how Britain basically got rid of the need for such inhumane treatment:
Is there an alternative? Consider what other countries do. Britain, for example, has had its share of serial killers, homicidal rapists, and prisoners who have taken hostages and repeatedly assaulted staff. The British also fought a seemingly unending war in Northern Ireland, which brought them hundreds of Irish Republican Army prisoners committed to violent resistance. The authorities resorted to a harshly punitive approach to control, including, in the mid-seventies, extensive use of solitary confinement. But the violence in prisons remained unchanged, the costs were phenomenal (in the United States, they reach more than fifty thousand dollars a year per inmate), and the public outcry became intolerable. British authorities therefore looked for another approach.
I couldn’t help but think of the recent ACLU report about the St. Louis City Jail and Workhouse:
Inmates at the St. Louis City Jail and Workhouse are subject to abuse ranging from assaults by guards and other prisoners to sexual misconduct to systematic covering up of incidents, according to a report released Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri.
The ACLU investigation, prompted by complaints of abuse at the two institutions, included interviews with six corrections officers and nine inmates along with media coverage of an incident where two emergency medical technicians ran into interference while trying to treat a dying inmate.
Follow me below the fold to find how the Brits–and the other European countries–have gotten a handle on the problem.
Beginning in the nineteen-eighties, they gradually adopted a strategy that focussed on preventing prison violence rather than on delivering an ever more brutal series of punishments for it. The approach starts with the simple observation that prisoners who are unmanageable in one setting often behave perfectly reasonably in another. This suggested that violence might, to a critical extent, be a function of the conditions of incarceration. The British noticed that problem prisoners were usually people for whom avoiding humiliation and saving face were fundamental and instinctive. When conditions maximized humiliation and confrontation, every interaction escalated into a trial of strength. Violence became a predictable consequence.
So the British decided to give their most dangerous prisoners more control, rather than less. They reduced isolation and offered them opportunities for work, education, and special programming to increase social ties and skills. The prisoners were housed in small, stable units of fewer than ten people in individual cells, to avoid conditions of social chaos and unpredictability. In these reformed “Close Supervision Centres,” prisoners could receive mental-health treatment and earn rights for more exercise, more phone calls, “contact visits” and even access to cooking facilities. They were allowed to air grievances. And the government set up an independent body of inspectors to track the results and enable adjustments based on the data.
The results have been impressive. The use of long-term isolation in England is now negligible. In all of England, there are now fewer prisoners in “extreme custody” than there are in the state of Maine. And the other countries of Europe have, with a similar focus on small units and violence prevention, achieved a similar outcome.
When I was still teaching, Madeline Hunter’s ideas were all the pedagogical rage. She had the same philosophy as the British, basically. Outline for your classes how good behavior can gain them rewards, and then be consistent–after two warnings–about dealing out penalties for bad behavior. Humans are humans whether they’re trapped in a classroom or a prison (and a few of those students didn’t see much difference).
Ah, but in this state, could we, would we, ever indulge ourselves in such rational behavior? Americans–and Missourians are no exception–can be such hardasses. The attitude would be, “Hey, this guy killed or raped or robbed somebody. Why does he deserve good treatment?” Let me answer a question with a question–two of them actually: “Do we want to train those who will eventually be released to be more violent and hateful than they were when they came in or to be less violent and hateful?” and “Do we want to create conditions where fewer guards are needed so that we taxpayers might be spared some of the expense of running prisons?”
One option involves spending $0 on the selection of a new Senator. The other option involves depriving Missouri of a Senator for months, while taxpayer money is spent on a special election.
Some Republicans have picked the option where Missouri is shortchanged with the introduction of HB 1099. The 32 Republican co-sponsors include the floor leader, the only CPA in the House, and Cynthia Davis.
Once again, as I have said before, the idea of reform here makes sense. But, HB 1099 strips the appointment power completely, which means that if a Senate seat is vacant, Missouri will lose half it’s voice in the Senate for months. When one mentions small government, this is probably not what they meant.
Thumbs down on HB 1099.
Sean has a nice catch at Fired Up. Tim Flook, commenting on the FBI investigation into pay-for-play in our state capital:
“It’s the nature of political cycles that periodically the FBI comes in to check under the hood,” Flook said. “My feeling on it is, for the sake of system, I hope nothing comes of it.”
Yup. You have to love how passively Flook frames this – the FBI comes around once in awhile to “check under the hood.” FBI investigations into corruption aren’t like cops walking a beat, or even like a car owner taking the car in for an inspection. The FBI finds evidence of serious wrongdoing, and they act on that evidence.
Let’s remember that Flook was also the genius who thought SCHIP might lead to hyperinflation and doom.
Chad Livengood had an interesting article in the Springfield News Leader last Wednesday on a pilot carbon sequestration program for a Springfield utility. The article was ostensibly about a push by Missouri utilities to get a cap for legal liability for injuries sustained during carbon sequestration, but as this is a complicated topic, Livengood spent a good deal of time explaining what carbon sequestration is and why it might be needed. But while I think Chad in general is a nice guy and works hard at what he does (and is receptive to questions on Twitter @ChadLivengood), I think he missed the boat here by only talking to the two sides of the utility liability debate.
The power company’s point of view is essentially this:
The Obama cap-and-trade tax on greenhouse gases will double consumers’ energy bills, so we need avoid the tax by sequestering carbon to save our customers money. There’s nothing to be worried about, but if we cap liability for an accident occurring during sequestration, this will allow us to save customers even more money.
In opposition to this, we have the trial lawyers’ point of view, which is that if there’s no risk, there’s no need to waive liability. But there’s another group that might have added a lot more information to the article, the broad coalition of environmental, labor, business, and social justice groups working to curb global warming, a coalition that has widespread public support to act now.
So what did Chad miss by not reaching out to some climate change activists? For starters, he gets the basic idea of the possible need for carbon sequestration right, but he easily falls into the utility companies’ spin on cap and trade. He refers to the cap and trade system as a tax more than once, and he allows the utility representative’s claim that carbon will be taxed at $115 a ton to stand without rebuttal. Needless to say, both are utterly false.
I’ll tell you why below the fold.
Energy companies like to refer to a “cap and trade tax” because that sounds a lot worse than what cap and trade really is – a market-based regulatory system. Basically, there are several different options for ensuring that greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) are curbed on balance. You can tax them directly, forcing emitters to pay a flat rate per ton of carbon emitted into the atmosphere. You can use the blunt instrument of regulation, enforcing a penalty if the regulatory cap is exceeded. Or you can go the cap and trade route.
A cap and trade system is a market-based regulatory system, where a total cap for greenhouse gases is decided (just as you would set a target under another regulatory method,) and then divided up into permits which are allocated to emitters or auctioned off (depending on the proposal – the EU went with allocation, while President Obama proposes an auction.) Either way, a secondary market would give companies coming in over the limit allowed by their already obtained permits the ability to purchase credits from companies who had excess permits because of conservation and/or cleaner energy production.
Because GHGs would be treated as a commodity and traded on an open and transparent market, market efficiencies would determine a lower price per ton of GHGs for a greater effect towards a predetermined cap than crude regulations or a carbon tax. From the beginning, the market would create an incentive to be more energy efficient through conservation and/or cleaner sources of energy. Over time, the cap would be lowered, making GHG emissions more and more expensive and encouraging further switches towards conservation and cleaner forms of energy production. A cap and trade system has already outperformed expectations for sulfur dioxide emissions, which causes acid rain.
And the idea that Obama is imposing a $115 a ton carbon tax is totally without merit. We’ve already established that a cap and trade system is not a tax, and I’ll add that it goes beyond President Obama. There is a bipartisan agreement on cap and trade – McCain offered a plan during his presidential run, and Senator John Warner (R-VA) penned a cap and trade bill last year before he retired. The claim of the price must be a typo – European carbon prices topped out at $30 per ton, and most industry experts peg carbon prices under the Obama plan at around $14 a ton when the cap and trade system would begin in 2012.
Let’s also remember that 80% of the revenues generated by auctioning the emission permits would be rerouted to taxpayers in the form of tax cuts, while the other 20% would go to a mix of research grants, subsidies and tax incentives to research and implement sustainable, renewable, and most importantly non-greenhouse gas emitting forms of energy, as well as retrofitting older housing stock, businesses and transmission lines to be more energy efficient. In other words, pay a little more for energy, but save even more in conservation and tax rebates.
This isn’t even taking on the idea of carbon sequestration as a major piece of the climate change solution, which is problematic at best. Carbon sequestration is expensive, and injecting billions of tons of carbon into the Earth’s crust every year, crust that shifts and buckles constantly under pressure, doesn’t seem like a long-term, safe solution for avoiding climate change, either.
Both the scientific and popular consensus regarding the problem of climate change and the need for action remain strong. Let’s remain aware that industry representatives in favor of the status quo, which is untenable, will try at every turn to inject their talking points into the public discourse. We can certainly listen, but there’s no need to take them at face value.
House Speaker Ron Richard (R-Joplin) is unaware of any of the details reported by the Kansas City Star about the FBI investigation in the Capitol.
Let’s also remember that Richard was also unaware of the details of Governor Nixon’s health care proposal, even after Richard voted against it.
That’s a lot of unawareness.
Introducing HB128, sponsored by Rep. Mike Cunningham of Rogersville. HB128 “designates December 25 of each year to be known as Christmas and requires state agencies, public schools and colleges, and political subdivisions to use the traditional names of holidays”.
What does this bill add?
“9.015. For any holiday observed, recognized, or otherwise referred to by any state department or agency, public school, any public institution of higher education, or any political subdivision of this state, such department, agency, public school, institution of higher education, or political subdivision shall, for all purposes, use the traditional name of the holiday, including but not limited to use of the traditional holiday names of “New Year’s Day”, “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day”, “Lincoln’s Birthday”, “Washington’s Birthday”, “Easter”, “Truman Day”, “Memorial Day”, “Fourth of July” or “Independence Day”, “Labor Day”, “Columbus Day”, “Veterans Day”, “Thanksgiving Day”, “Hanukkah”, “Christmas”, and “Kwanzaa”.”
Finally, a General Assembly standing tall against those who refuse to use the traditional name of Columbus Day.
And the argument for HB128
“Supporters of House Bill 128 say that it is important to provide our citizens with the history that is being lost by using non-traditional names.”
Although the bill does more providing of traditional names than providing of history.
The use of X-Mas is nowhere near the point that people are forgetting what Christmas is called. Seriously. I could have sworn the War on Christmas was just more along the lines of the raging tyranny of people using the phrase “Holiday Break” or “Holiday Tree”.
But in the scheme of things, either this will pass by over 155 votes and by 34 votes, or people will forget to bring it through both chambers by the end of the session. No matter what, the world probably won’t change.
Namely, when you find yourself in one, stop digging.
He seems downright hurt that his constituents have been paying attention to the cynical machinations he has excelled in during his brief tenure in the House, and they remember what he said during the campaign. Now he is miffed that they want him to take a position on HB 645 – legislation that would allow concealed-carry on university campuses.
He was especially steamed about a letter to the editor that ran in The Muleskinner, the student newspaper at
CMSU UCM. He was so upset about it (text below) that he confronted the student in a public setting.
Full disclosure: The student is a Democrat and he is also a politically active PoliSci major who is interning this semester/legislative session in Representative Mike Talboy’s office. Mike is my friend and my representative, and he is also the chief legislative election strategist for the House on the Democratic side. Mr. Wiseman is understandably perturbed himself, because Mr. Hoskins seems to think that he was “put up to” his letter by Representative Talboy. In fact, Mr. Wiseman asked Mr. Talboy if he would mind if he wrote the letter, and Mr. Talboy said “absolutely not” and offered to look it over if Mr. Wiseman wanted him to. After the letter was submitted, Mr. Wiseman told Mr. Talboy what he had written so Mr. Talboy would not be blindsided should Hoskins come after him.
Here is the text of the letter that twisted Denny’s knickers:
Thirty-two people lost their lives by the barrel of a gun at Virginia Tech April 16, 2007. Just over a year ago in a neighboring state, six college students were murdered by a gunman at Northern Illinois University.
After such horrific examples of shootings on college campuses, certain members of the Missouri House of Representatives (including Rep. Denny Hoskins) think it’s a good idea to pass a conceal and carry law for Missouri universities.
After these vicious acts that transpired, Rep. Hoskins wants to make it easier for such atrocities to occur in our state. Shouldn’t our representatives be more worried about limiting the amount of guns on college campuses rather than making it legal to conceal them? This is yet another example of Rep. Hoskins, and the members of his party, catering to organizations, such as the NRA, instead of protecting the citizens of Missouri from the dangers of guns.
Rep. Hoskins may look at these recent shootings and claim the lives of the victims would have been saved if someone on campus would have had a gun.
Multiple studies show the more guns are involved in a situation, the more deadly the outcome. More guns are not the solution to this problem, but the problem itself. Many would argue that citizens have the right under the Second Amendment to carry a gun on a campus. How does that correlate to forming a well regulated militia? These so called “protectors of the Constitution” that would defend the conceal and carry law on Missouri’s campuses should be forced to examine such barbaric acts of violence in which possession of a firearm was the cause.
I ask that Rep. Hoskins reconsider his position on this bill, and for the citizens of this state to understand the shear destruction that propagates from firearms. Out of respect for those who have lost their lives in the Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois shootings, we owe it to them to reject this bill and to vocalize our opposition.
Sophomore political science major
Representative Hoskins was quite miffed by the audacity of the student to assemble facts and statistics and recall the campaign rhetoric and promises made by Hoskins (and maybe even this farcical attack against his opponent) during the race for the 121st legislative district.
So miffed that he confronted the student. In public. In the student union.
Contrary to some of the rumors that are floating around, he did not go to the student’s class and interrupt a lecture to deliver his rebuke.
Here is a description of the exchange in the student’s own words:
Here is what happened:
I was hanging out in the Union at UCM. Rep. Denny Hoskins was in there as well with a Muleskinner in his hand. He saw me from across the Union and walked over to me. He asked me where the Mulskinner office was, and I told him. He asked me if I wrote the article (knowing full well who I am and that I wrote it). I told him I did, and then he was visibly upset because I didn’t talk with him about the article before I wrote it. I told him that we could talk about it then and we discussed the topic. He was upset that I assumed his opinion on the bill and that he has never seen or heard of the bill. I told him that I assumed his opinion based off of his opinion on gun control and the conceal and carry laws. When I talked with him he even said he was in favor of conceal and carry laws, but he didn’t know how he felt about the bill because he hadn’t heard of it yet. I asked him to consider House bill 645, and to vote against it, and he said he would “look it over.” He was visibly irritated with my actions and he walked off to talk with the head of the communications department.
That is pretty much what happened. I hope it helps.
The thing is, Denny’s position is easy to assume. Asking him for a direct answer does not yield one. He knows what is being asked, and he knows that we know that he knows what is being asked, and he knows that we want an answer and there is only one reason he won’t commit…He want’s to play it both ways. That is, after all, this particular republican pony’s one and only trick, since we learned the CPA hates counting. I saw this first hand on Wednesday with my own eyes during the budget perfection debate on the House floor with Meals on Wheels.
Lets just say I came away from watching that bit of political theater thinking that it would be splendid indeed if legislators could be required to put on a shock collar every time they stand up to speak, and the controls should be in the gallery. When they act like Hoskins and Pratt did on Budget-Perfection Wednesday – and I can only assume every other day – we should have the option of zapping them with a mild but unpleasant electrical shock.
We could call this the electric fence method of citizen control over the legislature. I have been a lot of things in my life, but the basis for everything I am are my roots as a sixth-generation Missouri farm girl. I have controlled a lot of half-ton animals with a skinny piece of wire and a battery. I assume that legislators are at least as smart and trainable as my horse and various Angus steers I raised, and could keep a civil tongue in their heads and avoid walking into the fence? Maybe not right off the bat, but eventually…Don’t you think? (Okay, you got me…Maybe not…)
But Hoskins is no where near ready to stop digging and put down the shovel.
He was contacted by one of his constituents and a member of the UCM faculty:
I’m on the Faculty Senate of the University of Central Missouri. When I saw the letter in the school paper, I was concerned. This is legislation about my working conditions.
Here is the email I sent Hoskins Thursday evening.
A letter appeared in the Muleskinner today saying that you support HB 645 that would allow holders of a conceal and carry permit to bring their guns onto university campuses.
Is the letter correct? Do you support this legislation?
Would you explain to me your position on this legislation?
…Asked to take a position, he continued the dance. This is the email I received from the concerned faculty member, reprinted here with his permission:
On Friday afternoon, Hoskins called me at home. He told me that he had no position on allowing conceal and carry on public universities. He said before he would have to talk to students, faculty, and the administration.
I told him that surprised me because universities about the learning and spreading of knowledge. Guns don’t help.
Moreover, there is no evidence that a lot of guns make places safer. I noted if that were true Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Sudan should be some of the safest places in the world.
Finally, I observed the groups he wants to talk to are not equal. Students are on a campus for at best five years. Faculty are on campuses for decades. This legislation is about our working conditions and I urged him to vote against ending the bill.
He did not indicate what he would do.
Hope this helps
Hoskins pleading ignorance is a weak tea indeed. (That is the polite way of saying I think he is most likely lying like a rug when he says he has no opinion on HB 645 and hasn’t even thought about it.) The legislation was introduced in February, by a member of the republican caucus, and written up extensively on this site at that time. Now far be it from me to offer advice to help the MO GOP, but I would think that at the very least he should have a staffer keeping an eye on the likes of us so we can’t blindside him with our pesky facts and stuff and catch him unawares. (But carry on…how he is currently proceeding works just fine for me.)
Now here is the thing…I am what passes for the resident gun nut in these parts. I am a hunter and a big, big fan of the Second Amendment. But I am not stupid or naive enough to think ordinary citizens could challenge our government in an armed rebellion. Those days are long gone, if for no other reason that the side with the Air Force always wins.
Revolutions in this country take place via the power of the ballot, not the power of the bullet. Anyone who insists the latter is even possible is either stupid or crazy, and the two categories are not mutually exclusive.
I am a country girl, a hunter and a deerslayer extraordinaire. I will never – let me repeat – never give up my guns. But I also didn’t stay out-state in the countryside. I spent a couple of decades cleaning up after gun violence on trauma teams in inner-city hospitals – I can’t begin to tell you how many nights I went home from work in the bloody Kansas City summer of 2004 with the blood of murder victims on my clothes, but I can tell you that on at least two occasions that summer, I picked gray matter out of my shoelaces afterwards.
I am not someone you want to get your chickenhawk on with when this is the topic. Anyone who thinks that guns are too regulated is going to get
stiff opposition a face full of claws scattershot from me.
I was appalled by John Derbyshire in the immediate aftermath of the Virginia Tech tragedy when he implied the victims had shown cowardice by mewling “Where was the spirit of self-defense here? Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn’t anyone rush the guy? It’s not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness’ sake-one of them reportedly a .22. A .22 – the preferred weapon of the ruthlessly effective Bosnian snipers in the 90s. A .22 will kill you just as dead as a .45 – and at a greater distance, too. But then, unlike Derbyshire, and most chickenhawks, I know something about guns…
I also know something about contagious gunfire, and I do not think that allowing a bunch of young people who have not mastered impulse control the ‘right’ to carry a concealed weapon on campus is a good idea – and neither do the vast, overwhelming majority of law enforcement officials. More guns is not the answer to public safety. More guns means more violence.
Now I am far from having all the answers, but I do know some of the right questions to ask, so to speak. I am convinced that if we are truly concerned with public safety, and not just pimping an ideology, we can do that and simultaneously strengthen the rights of law-abiding gun owners, but the ideologues don’t want to hear what I have to say about it because it runs counter to the opinion the NRA pays them to have.
We all need a gut-check.
We need to start by fully enforcing the laws on the books, but we also need to bring a basic framework of laws into standard compliance across all 50 states, with common sense adaptations. States need to share information. Thorough background checks for all firearms purchases should be mandatory, including psychiatric/psychological occurrences. I would go so far as to mandate that private sales, those currently unregulated, would have to take place through the county sheriffs office; and any unregistered sale proven in a court of law would carry a stiff penalty, with mandatory prison time.
We can’t make guns go away. And I don’t want them to. But we can make it harder for criminals to get hold of new ones, and we can control the ones that are out there by actually enforcing the laws that are on the books right now and getting serious about bringing the ones that are currently floating around out there untraceable into the system one-by-one. My suggestions are not ideal, but it’s a place to start – until smarter people than me can get serious about this. Which will require standing up to the NRA – so I am not holding my breath.
Let me finish with a bit of unvarnished truth…every last damned one of us who has the proper reverence and respect and can be trusted with the kind of power that a firearm represents – every one of us who really deserves to own a gun – knows some f*cking moron we (at least secretly) wish would give all their guns away and become vegans, because one trip outdoors with them scared the living sh*t out of us and we never went out with that person again. My moment came on Pea Ridge in Mercer County in 1989 when Satellite Bob shot up Mike’s satellite dish with an AK-47 modified to auto, and when he was asked what he was shooting at, he said “who knows???” (And we also all know that the Satellite Bob’s of the world are the ones who think that liberty herself is dependent upon them packing heat.)
Everyone who hunts or shoots knows someone like that, and if you were really and truly honest with yourself, you would have to admit that there are people who, when you think of them with a gun, and you can’t help yourself. You think “there ought to be a law…”