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January 7, 2009: Opening day of the legislative session – Missouri Senate.

Over the course of the last year we covered a number of government and political events in Missouri (and elsewhere), in the process taking thousands of photographs. Most of them didn’t make it into the blog. Some of the things we saw and heard made us smile, made us think, made us gasp, made us hope, and made us despair. We thought we’d provide a retrospective of some of the pictures and stories we consider to be memorable.

The opening session of the 95th Missouri General Assembly

…We stopped by the House Communications office, signed in, and picked up our opening day press credentials. We then stopped by on the senate side and signed in. We would be announced from the floor and then we could start taking photographs. An aide to Blue Girls’ senator gave us an informative tour and gave us valuable insights much of the protocol.

We both started out at the press table “near” the senate floor, but at the last minute before the ceremonies started an old media personage asserted his turf, so I made my way to the balcony to watch the rest of the proceedings. Blue Girl remained at the press table…

Wouldn’t you know it, stabilizing the economy, protecting jobs, and creating new jobs were concerns of some people in Congress and state government.

February 8, 2009: Organized labor “Save Our Jobs Rally” in Kansas City.

UAW “Save Our Jobs Rally” in Kansas City

Governor Jay Nixon (D) at the UAW “Save Our Jobs Rally” in Kansas City on February 8

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D) at the UAW “Save Our Jobs Rally” in Kansas City on February 8

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver:…These are some difficult times. In times like these you always discover who your friends are. At times like these you find out who is in fact for you and who is neutral and neutrality is opposition…

April 16, 2009: Vice President Joe Biden at the ABB plant in Jefferson City.

Vice President Joe Biden at ABB in Jefferson City

May 2, 2009: Missouri State Treasurer Clint Zweifel at Truman Days in Kansas City.

Truman Days in Kansas City: Missouri State Treasurer Clint Zweifel

May 2, 2009: Missouri Governor Jay Nixon at Truman Days in Kansas City.

Supporting health care reform (for most Democrats) or obstructing it (for most republicans) became a blood sport by the end of the year.

May 28, 2009: Missouri Governor Jay Nixon at the University of Missouri – Kansas City nursing school.

Governor Jay Nixon (D): “Caring for Missourians” at the School of Nursing, UMKC

Governor Jay Nixon (D): “Caring for Missourians” press conference in Kansas City – May 28, 2009

…Sure we need to do more for health care. But if we don’t have the basic backbone of professional services, trained workers, we will never be able to, to move forward in health care. And making sure we have this base done now is vitally important. I also think, not only at the state level, our efforts in health care are far from complete, but also at the national level. We sit here today on the precipice of a national debate about where we’re goin’ on health care. That is clearly gonna move this state and this country forward. Wherever that process ends in the coming months in Washington it will clearly expand access to health care, provide additional resources. We want to be the best positioned state in the country to have trained workers to provide those services. This provision will help us do that…

Missouri Boys State, held annually on the campus at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, is an opportunity for us to cover individuals in government and politics at the state and national level, their speeches, and the question and answer sessions with the citizens attending the week long event. We’ve been doing so for the last two years and wonder why most old media doesn’t bother to show up.

June 13, 2009: Congressman Roy Blunt (r) addressing Missouri Boys State in Warrensburg.

Roy Blunt at Missouri Boys State: opening remarks

Roy Blunt at Missouri Boys State: Q and A, part 1

Roy Blunt at Missouri Boys State: Q and A, part 2

Roy Blunt at Missouri Boys State: Q and A, part 3

…Blunt is right: Lincoln was trying explain the essential differences between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.  However, it was not about the role of government in people’s lives, but the position the Republicans had on slavery and particularly opposition to Douglas’s “popular sovereignty.”  Popular sovereignty ended the Missouri Compromise and allowed territories to vote whether states would enter free or slave. It is why Kansas was bleeding at the end of the 1850s.

The Republican position, and the central issue in Lincoln’s contest with Douglas in 1858, was whether slavery should expand into new territories. The Cooper Union speech was Lincoln’s understanding of the Founding Fathers opposition to slavery’s expansion. The speech was crucial for Lincoln getting eastern support for the Republican nomination.

Thanks, Congressman Blunt, for getting history wrong at Boys State….

June 15, 2009: Former Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage addressing Missouri Boys State in Warrensburg.

Richard Armitage at Missouri Boys State: via Twitter

Richard Armitage at Missouri Boys State: Q and A, part 1

Richard Armitage at Missouri Boys State: Q and
A, part 2

Question: …My question, over the past few months, uh, we’ve seen that Vice President, the former Vice President Cheney’s been doing a lot of public criticism of the new Obama administration. Uh, as a former Bush administration official yourself, do you agree with what the former vice president is saying, and also do you think he’s within his rights to be criticizing him like this, or do you think he should kind of pipe down and stay quiet like, uh, President Bush has?

Richard Armitage: I completely disagree with former Vice President Cheney. I think he should, in your word ‘pipe down’. [applause] I think it’s unseemly. [applause] I think it’s unseemly and very much admire the way President Bush has, has said he owes President Obama his silence. And that’s right. Beyond that, as a citizen, obviously Mr. Cheney has a right to his point of view, but I think the, the burden of being a former vice president trumps it. And it makes him look so mean spirited now as it, it’s, I guess Leon Panetta, uh, the CIA, said it makes Mr. Cheney look as if he’d almost want a terrorist attack to kind of show up Mr. Obama. And look, I’m an out of work Republican right now, but I don’t want our president to fail, I’ll tell you that. And it seems Mr. Cheney’s kind of seen to put a lean in that direction. I don’t like it…

June 18, 2009:  Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) addressing Missouri Boys State in Warrensburg.

July 14, 2009: Air Force One landing in St. Louis.

President Obama flew to St. Louis on Air Force One and then threw the first pitch…

…Yeah, this is a process story. Since we cover politics and government in Missouri and President Obama was here yesterday, we went through the process to be able to cover his trip. Since we don’t cover major league baseball (pace RBH) we weren’t going to get credentials to cover the first pitch along with 2500 other media folks. Instead, we covered the arrival and departure of the President on Air Force One…

August 8, 2009:  Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnhan at the 4th Congressional District Democratic Committee dinner honoring Congressman Ike Skelton (D) in Warsaw, Missouri.

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) in Warsaw, Missouri on August 8, 2009

…And you know this current debate? It seems like it’s just showing up all the time. And I want to say just a little bit about history. I know Ike likes history. And it strikes me that we have this same debate going on right now that we’ve seen through the whole course of American history. If you think about it just for second, sometimes we have leaders and there’s great progress and strides that get made and other times we kind of fall backwards and almost all the time the debate is the same. It’s the debate between progress and the status quo. Isn’t it? And then the arguments that the sides use are pretty much the same, too. The arguments are hope versus fear. Have you heard any fear tactics lately? [laughter] You hear anybody, the forces of the status quo who say, “You’re gonna lose your health care. Government’s gonna take over health care. Everything is gonna to go to hell in a handbasket.” Well I gotta tell you folks it just, I shake my head when I hear these things. You know, particularly this one about government taking over health care. Now, I’m not for government taking over health care and I don’t think anybody here is. And I don’t think anybody here is talking about that. But the notion that there’s not somebody standing between me and my doctor is wrong. I’m somebody who knows about this. You all prayed for me a few years ago when I was going through my breast cancer treatments. And I had my eyes opened about the health care system. And folks I’m telling you there is somebody standing between you and your doctor right now. It’s called the insurance company. They’re making out like bandits. [applause] And it’s time we do something to change it.

So, when you hear these debates just try to step back for a second. Step back and wonder who is it that thinks the status quo is good for what’s ailing America? How is it these Republicans who all the sudden say that it’s a miracle and they want to change health care – well goodness sakes they were in charge for how many years? [laughter]  And what did they do? [voice: “Nothing.”] They didn’t do a thing. And so there are all of these issues, one right after the other we need to stand up about, we need to talk about…

August 8, 2009: Congressman Ike Skelton in Warsaw, Missouri.

Honoring Congressman Ike Skelton (D) in Warsaw, Missouri

Congressman Ike Skelton (D) in Warsaw, Missouri on August 8, 2009

August 11, 2009: The “incident” at Senator Claire McCaskill’s (D) health care town hall in Hillsboro, Missouri.

Senator Claire McCaskill (D): open forum in Hillsboro – photos

Senator Claire McCaskill (D): open forum in Hillsboro – video of the Rosa Parks poster altercation

Senator Claire McCaskill (D): open forum in Hillsboro – more on the Rosa Parks poster altercation

August 11, 2009: Senator McCaskill’s press conference after the Hillsboro town hall.

Senator Claire McCaskill (D): open forum in Hillsboro – press conference

Senator Claire McCaskill: Hi guys.

Voice: Hi Senator.

Question: What was your reaction to the crowd today?

Senator McCaskill: You know, I, I wouldn’t, let me say it this way. This is hard, but, I’m proud of, overall, the people that came out today and that most of them wanted to stay through it and ask questions and answer questions. I think it is a healthy thing for Democracy. And I, I wouldn’t want to do it every afternoon for the rest of my life [laughter in room] because it was obviously contentious. But that’s okay….

August 11, 2009: A satirical sign held by a supporter of health care reform outside after the Hillsboro town hall.

August 11, 2009: Maxine Johnson and her Rosa Parks poster outside after the Hillsboro town hall.

Show Me Progress: So, what happened? What happened, did, after you sat down?

Maxine Johnson:  When I sat down I put my sign in the chair in front of me. It was rolled up. And the reporter kind of, news reporter crawled over there, she was standing up and she asked could she take a picture of the sign. We unrolled the sign laying down in the chair. And she was taking a picture of Rosa Parks. This man comes out of the crowd, snatch my sign, I stood up, they said he pushed me. I don’t remember anything ’cause you know by that time my adrenaline going everywhere…All I’m thinking about is getting my sign back. I got up in…to proceed, go get my sign back. ‘Cause he was crumbling it up. I said, “Give my sign back!” When I said that, next thing I know I had four police officers on me and one on him. I’m the victim here, [laugh] you know. And then as I say, “I’m pressing charges!”…I said, “Obama, Obama!”  So, you know what, you know like I said Rosa Parks fought for our freedom back then, now I’m fighting for our freedom now…So we’re fighting for the next generation…

August 26, 2009: An angry individual in the audience at Senator McCaskill’s health care town hall in Jefferson City. This individual made sure everyone in attendance knew that she was angry.

Senator Claire McCaskill (D) – health care town hall – Jefferson City

…I have to write it. These people are fucking batshit crazy. No sign of rational understanding that “death panels” are a myth. No sign of understanding that the “free market” (as pointed out by Senator McCaskill) is operating now and hasn’t fixed the problems.

They have this completely irrational fear, amplified by who know[s] what, and nothing is going to change that…

Senator Claire McCaskill (D): health care town hall in Jefferson City – press conference

Senator Claire McCaskill (D): health care town hall in Jefferson City – prayer and first Q and A

September 2, 2009: Randy Huggins and his grandson at a pro health care march in Warrensburg.

A health care story

SMP: And, and you’ve told your story in a variety of, of places. Last week you attended a, another forum for, in this area. Could you tell me about that?

Randy Huggins:…Last Thursday I went to a health care information forum, I guess you could call it, Vicki Hartzler [a declared Republican candidate for the 4th Congressional District seat] held here. And she had concerns about the legislation and she had things that she liked about the legislation. Then she said she had solutions. The solution that she offered for the pre-existing condition my grandson had was, she offered to bring the family a, a hot meal. [pause] We’re hungry, but that’s not gonna help his heart, so.

SMP: And so, do you, do you feel some frustration when, when dealing with this, you know, the subject of health care reform and when you feel like people give you solutions that really aren’t solutions?

Randy Huggins: Absolutely it’s frustrating. [pause] I, I just, I don’t understand where they’re coming from. Why they can’t see the need to fix, the system’s broken. And they don’t see any need to fix it or to change it in any way. Just….

September 2, 2009: An opposition sign at the Warrensburg health care march.

“It is time for our voices to be heard.”

“It floors me how absolutely brilliantly broken our system is.”

September 2, 2009: An opponent of health care reform at the Warrensburg march  realizes his sign is upside down

September 2, 2009: The march in support of health care reform from the Johnson County Courthouse to the campus of the University of Central Missouri. Opponents of health care reform joined the march.

September 13, 2009: Senators Al Franken and Tom Harkin at the Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola, Iowa.

Senator Al Franken (D) at the 2009 Harkin Steak Fry – part 1

Senator Al Franken (D) at the 2009 Harkin Steak Fry – part 2

Senators Harkin (D) and Franken (D) in Indianola, Iowa – there will be a strong public option

The 2009 Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola, Iowa – photos

Before anyone gets a shovel and digs a grave for the Public Option, read this

Senator Al Franken:….The truth is, if we don’t fix the system most of us are gonna lose the health care because we’re simply not gonna be able to afford the health care. [applause] And at the Minnesota state fair that’s the question everybody was asking, Democrats and Republicans. But right now in Congress Democrats seem to be the only ones asking it. Republicans are busy asking Washington questions. They’re asking, “How do we break President Obama?  How do we make sure he fails?” That’s what they’re asking…

December 14, 2009: Press conference with Representatives Jason Kander (D) and Tim Flook (r) on their ethics reform bill in the House Lounge at the capitol in Jefferson City.

Kander (D) and Flook (r): ethics reform legislation in Jefferson City

Kander (D) and Flook (r): ethics reform legislation in Jefferson City, part 2

Kander (D) and Flook (r): ethics reform legislation in Jefferson City, part 3

Kander (D) and Flook (r): ethics reform legislation in Jefferson City, part 4

Yes, that was the year that was…