I just came from a meeting of the Franklin County Commission where the three commissioners voted to change county regs to allow a coal ash landfill in the Missouri River floodplain. I don’t know whether to scream or cry.
Shame on these three bumbling, ignorant jackasses. From the start of this charade two years ago, the public was told not to mention Ameren or the Labadie Bottoms in their public comments because “we’re just talking about changing the regulations, not a specific case.” Of course, the only reason they were discussing the changes was because Ameren wants to build a 400 acre coal ash dump next to their 40 yr old plant in Labadie. Go to http://www.leomo.info to see a photo of the smokestacks in the distance surrounded by lush, beautiful floodplain vegetation and animal habitat. During the 1993 flood, the plant was surrounded by water.
I was so impressed with the testimony and comments by members of the public this morning. Intelligent, powerful, inspiring short speeches that made it even more incredible that these three brainless, heartless jerks could vote AYE.
I said to them as I left, “This will come back to haunt you. Shame on you. You cannot destroy God’s beautiful creation without it coming back to haunt you.”
The fight is not over, but one thing for sure. Those three will never be elected to anything ever again. Of course John Griesheimer doesn’t care because he’s probably got a job already lined up with Ameren. What goes around comes around. And I’ll be happy to see the three of them reap what they have sown.
Many on the Republican side are propagating the lie that government is the enemy. If so, we are on a path of self destruction because the government is us.
Ask the good citizens of devastated Joplin or flooded northwestern Missouri: Do they want the federal government to be inconsequential in rebuilding their lives? Or do they want any relief money they receive be off set by cutting needed aid to others, as Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) cruelly wants to do?
Ask the over 10,000 construction workers hired in Missouri, as a result of the $500 million of Obama stimulus money: Are they against big government doing big things?
Stimulus funds paid for construction on Hwy, 364 in St. Charles
Ask the 600 thousand senior citizens of Missouri: Do they believe Congressman Todd Akin is right that Medicare is unconstitutional or agree with Texas Governor Rick Perry that Social Security is a ‘Ponzi scheme’?
Thirty years ago, Ronald Reagan famously said, “Government is not the solution to the problem. Government is the problem.”
Hypocritical words from a man who grew up in rural Illinois, where most of the farm community around him operated on government rural electrification programs. In addition, in Reagan’s youth, many of the nearby farmers lost their land to the cruel fluctuation of the commodities market. Today, small farmers are kept alive during hard times by the market calming effects of agricultural price supports put in place by the same government Reagan and Republicans rail against.
Even though Texas has over 3,200 miles of federally funded interstate highways, 16 major military bases, the Houston Manned Space Center, a 1000 mile border and coast line manned by federal forces, and need for federal assistance during drought and disasters, Governor Ricky Perry wants to make the federal government “as inconsequential in our lives as possible”.
If we eliminated the hundreds of thousands of “inconsequential” government jobs added to Texas’s economy, Perry’s bragging about Texas job growth would ring hollow.
What Americans want is not an inconsequential government. What Americans want is an efficient, caring government. Let’s not forget: Only government can truly do big things. We here in St. Charles realize this since the interstate highway system started right here.
Why are Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl, of Arizona, ripping government interference while they drink water and light their homes from Hoover and Glenn Canyon dams? Much of the Southwest would be home only to Saguaro cactus and rattlesnakes if it weren’t for the federal government.
The same is true of all the Southern ‘states rights’ advocates who get their water, electric and flood control from the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Sara Palin’s hateful speech against the federal government is completely two-faced because no state takes a bigger federal handout than Alaska. The federal government spends over $15,000 per person yearly to keep Alaska afloat. Remember the “bridge to nowhere”?
Or what about government bashing politicians from the lightly populated arid Western states? If it wasn’t for the federal government, there would be no interstate highway system traveling thousands of miles though states where jack rabbits out number people 100 to 1. Nor would there be farming in their almost desert-like land, if it weren’t for federal water reclamation and irrigation projects.
In addition, no American is safe from tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, massive fires, and other calamities. Whether in Joplin, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, or Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, Americans look to the federal government for help in times of crisis.
The truth is: Government is us. It is our son or daughter defending us in a far-off land. It is our brother-in-law, the fireman, our brethren in church, the policeman, and our neighbor, the teacher. It is the mailman delivering a letter to us for only $.44 that the ‘man in brown’ wouldn’t touch for less than $7.00. It is the Boeing employee machining a part for an F-18 fighter, and the construction worker building our bridges, highways, and schools. All of them deserve more respect than the unwarranted criticism Republicans heap on them.
It is too easy for us to just blame someone else, like the Tea Party does. No personal responsibility on the behalf of Tea Party folks. Can it be Tea Partiers were deceived by George Bush and brought this recession on with their vote for the wrong man?
Americans need to take responsibility for the government they created. In a nation that was born of compromise, it is our fault if we elect those who are completely unwilling to yield, even on the smallest point.
It is time we all became informed, active, and accountable. What America needs is good competent government – not a stubborn, my way or the highway Tea Party’s simplistic “no government”.
Originally posted on St. Charles Democrats site. For more Talking Points for Democrats go to http://www.stcdems.org
My husband and I just returned from a few days in Branson. We were hoping for some nice fall colors, but that part of the state is even duller this year than the St. Louis area. At the last minute I decided not to take my car which is a moving advertisement for all things Democratic because, I’m sorry to admit, I was afraid. SW Missouri has a well-earned reputation for keeping the local folks pretty much in the Dark Ages. I lived in Springfield during the 1970’s and part of the 80’s, so I know whereof I speak.
My mood was probably influenced by something that happened last week as I was coming home after dark on I-44. Even though we were virtually alone on the highway, the driver of a semi pulled up close behind me and then began blinking his lights. I know that rude drivers do that when someone is poking along in the passing lane, but I was in the middle lane. He could pass me on either side easily. He continued tailgating and flashing his lights for a few more miles while I tried to stay in my lane hoping he would pass me. Finally he did pass, on the right, and laid on his horn as he went by. I don’t know if he was trying to tell me to move into the right lane or if he didn’t like my bumper stickers. My husband thinks it was the latter. He’s probably right.
So we took my husband’s very conventional Chevy Malibu, sans bumper stickers, to Branson. Springfield is Roy Blunt’s home base, so it was no surprise to see hundreds of big “ROY” signs. There were also many “Vote No on Prop B” and “Vote YES on Prop A” signs as well. SW Missouri is teeming with puppy mills as well as voters who believe “Let Voters Decide” is a good idea. The Branson area is hosting a huge veterans celebration next week which is a natural extension of many of the year round shows there. During the height of the Iraq war hysteria, we attended a patriotic music show (only because we had out-of-state guests who wanted to go) where the grand finale brought the flag and cross together as one huge symbol of love of country.
The subtle blending of religion and patriotism blankets the hill country like morning fog. Busloads of senior citizens come from all over the country to revel in it and to go home “saved” once again. I thought I was beyond being shocked by all the appeals to emotional servitude, but one gigantic billboard caught my attention. It was a double size sign – enormous and hard to miss – along hwy 76 just outside the actual City of Branson. The letters that spelled out “Book of Revelations” were in the shape of a question mark. Next to that it said, “What Does it Mean?” and “Who is the Anti-Christ?”
I didn’t catch the details about where this “show” was being presented, but I certainly caught the message. And I can guess who the anti-Christ is. This is what rational people are up against. Wingnuts like the tea partiers come and go over time, but this foundation of nativism provides the bedrock for the type of fanaticism that always was and always will be a part of our American character.
The good news is that, according to the executive director of the Greene County (Springfield) Democrats, Springfield now votes close to 50% Democratic. So maybe there is still hope.
Activist Susan Cunningham told us last Sunday about her outrage that a tea party group wanted to use the local high school auditorium in Union to disseminate its lies–and that it wanted the fee waived. Not one to sit home alone and fume, Susan joined 25 or so “take the fight to them” activists and appeared at the Wednesday evening Union school board meeting. One tea party member showed up.
The sign Susan brought that evening built on a recent school bond issue campaign with the theme “Save our schools. She added “from Patriots” because these particular tea partiers call themselves the Franklin County Patriots. (Get a load of their professional looking–not cheap, sponsored by the big bucks?–website.)
The school board was mighty impressed with the arguments Susan’s group presented–including the fact that as anti-tax, anti-government, anti-public-anything citizens, the teabaggers support vouchers over public schools.
The board voted unanimously not to waive the fee for the teabaggers. But it turns out that the district has no policy about who may rent the auditorium, so the tea party event will be there on Oct. 10. The local Dems had just assumed that political groups would not be allowed to rent the place. Now that they know differently, they’ll make use of it, so in a way the baggers did the Dems a favor. And the Democrats may decide to attend on the tenth and participate–but civilly, of course.
There were no other speakers at Obama’s town hall in Arnold, MO, to celebrate his first 100 days in office–just a barbershop quartet singing the National Anthem;
a pastor who delivered a (rather long winded) prayer; a Vietnam vet who led the pledge of allegiance; and a woman who has raised her children in nearby Imperial and who switched last election from voting for Republicans. She introduced … wait for it … President Obama. As soon as the words were out of her mouth, the gym exploded. Twelve hundred ticket holders were on their feet cheering and clapping.
Choosing Linda Pleimann for the intro was a subtle way of reaching out to the half a percent of Missouri voters who kept Obama from carrying the state last November, the Republicans who need a few gentle nudges in our direction. Predictably, the move was part of today’s Post-Dispatch coverage of the event:
Linda Pleimann of Imperial also heard Monday that she would introduce Obama. She had campaigned for Obama and said he was the first Democrat she had voted for since Jimmy Carter.
“At first I wasn’t sure I could get out of work,” to attend Wednesday’s event, said Pleimann, a hairstylist. “When I told my clients, they said, ‘Cancel me!’ No one complained.”
Pleimann, whose stepson, Sgt. Carl Pleimann, is stationed in Germany after having recently finished a tour of duty in Iraq, said the president helped calm her nerves.
“We walked in together and he said, ‘This is going to be fun,'” she recalled. “And just before I walked on stage he said, ‘Go get ’em.'”
Another gentle nudge was Obama’s choice for his last questioner: an angelic looking (check out the pic), articulate fourth grader named Laurel, who wanted to know about his plans to fight climate change.
Laurel was the culmination of the town hall part of the meeting, one of only six people who got to ask questions. After his brief opening remarks about what he hopes to accomplish, Obama announced that he would take questions from the audience, and that he would go “boy, girl, boy, girl” in choosing the questioners. I’ll admit it’s a hasty generalization to say that Democratic office holders conduct their town halls more open handedly than Republicans, but I couldn’t help but remember how scripted was the “town hall” Akin and Leutkemeyer conducted a couple of weeks ago, with questions submitted in advance and carefully screened. Obama and McCaskill are free wheeling, ready to handle whatever pops out of the mouths of their questioners. Claire picked questions out of a fishbowl at her recent kitchen table talk in St. Charles, and the President picked people at random in the crowd. Akin makes me think of the way Bush used to keep protesters in a screened off area a mile away from wherever he was.
The Q & A lasted an hour, but only six people got to pose a question. That’s because it wasn’t a “sound bite” occasion. As a University of Missouri political communications expert puts it:
“He very much takes the professorial mode, explaining the process of decision-making and inviting others to come to conclusions he has come to,” he said. “The public has become comfortable with this style in these unsteady times.”
Case in point: When asked about the solvency of Social Security, he explained how members of each generation pay for those currently retiring in hopes of the same outlay when they retire, and how the bulge caused by retiring baby boomers and the borrowing from the Social Security trust fund have put some strain on the system. He listed four or five ways of dealing with the problem, for example, raising the retirement age. (But he pointed to a retired auto worker who had asked the first question of the day and said that working on an auto line is ha-a-rd work to be doing at 68, unlike, say, working as a senator–with a sly grin in Claire’s direction.) He finally got round to proposing that we raise the cap on Social Security taxes. Bill Gates pays that tax on only 1/10 of 1 percent of what he earns, while most of us pay it on all of what we earn.
But all that was just laying the groundwork for a more important point, that Social Security is an easily fixable problem. It won’t break us. In fact, even the loans to keep the banks from going under are just a few drops in the bucket compared to what will take us under if we don’t deal with it: Medicare and Medicaid. And the way to deal with them is to include healthy people in the insurance pool to bring down costs in the long run.
The president (I just love writing that word now) went into similar depth on every question he answered.
In an audience thick with educators, he garnered applause for ideas like seeing to it that students winning National Science Awards should get as much attention as basketball players, or like increasing teacher training and pay. He pushed for more funding for community colleges, urged parents to turn off the TV set so homework would get done, and pleaded for an environment where people remember that “it’s a privilege to learn.” But he warned the audience that he had one idea they might not applaud, one that is unpopular with teachers’ unions. He wants the best teachers rewarded with more pay but he says that any teacher who, even with continued support, “is not performing up to snuff, we gotta find that person a new job.” The applause was resounding.
Even as a retired teacher, I applauded. Merit pay, if it’s “opt in” rather than mandatory, makes sense to me. It makes even more sense to prune the profession. It can be done carefully. But I’ve seen teachers who, for the sake of our students, needed to be employed elsewhere, and I’ve cursed administrators too cowardly or lackadaisical to document the ineptitude or laziness of a few teachers and send them on their way. It was embarrassing to watch principals dither about their duty, and it was frustrating to listen, year after year, as students complained about the same few teachers.
Sir, feel free to quote me.
When the last question was answered, Obama worked the ropeline–and I wasn’t the only one taking pictures.
But outside, the adulation ended. At the edge of school property were the Tea Partiers, with signs like “100 days of LIES”. And across the street were the anti-abortion folk.
People leaving the town hall streamed past, barely granting them a glance. Even a woman screaming on a bullhorn struck them as irrelevant. Part of the reason was that it was impossible to catch her words, only her furious tone.
One fool Democrat, though, stood across the street yelling back at them. Somebody needed to put a hand on his shoulder and say, “Save your breath. … And quit acting like a moron, would you?”
Hey, if Obama succeeds in most of what he aims to do, those sign-toters will become more and more irrelevant.
[E]ven polls showing lofty favorability ratings contain warning signs. In a Pew Research Center poll last week, 20 percent responded by saying “socialist” when asked for a one word impression of the new president, surpassed only by “intelligent” (30 percent) and “good” (29 percent).
The writer is correct that right-wingers are having some success tagging Obama with the “socialist” label. But, so? The name callers either have no idea what a socialist is or they’re cynically fear mongering the word. Both, probably. Here’s the thing, though: if Obama gets the economy on track, passes health care reform, and shifts us to alternative energy, he could inadvertently give “socialism” a good name in this country. If he doesn’t, we’re all screwed anyway.
Until the last few days, the only celebrity status Charles “Chet” Hurth from Union, MO had enjoyed was for being sued ten years ago when he was a law student at St. Louis U. for biting a female law student on the butt–so hard she had to seek medical treatment. Now Hurth, the city attorney for tiny New Haven is embroiled in something that’s grabbing headlines in the San Francisco Chronicle.
You’re probably aware by now of the latest dirty trick the Republicans are up to, a petition initiative drive in California. They want Californians to vote in June on whether to split California’s electoral votes in the 2008 presidential election by awarding electoral votes by each congressional district rather than by the winner-take-all rules that have applied.
Under its proposed district-by-district system, Kerry – who won California’s popular vote in 2004 – would have received just 33 electoral votes, and Republican President Bush would have earned 22 votes – more than the number awarded in Illinois (21), Pennsylvania (21) or Ohio (20).
On September 24th, the group running the petition drive, Californians for Equal Representation, recorded its first and only contribution, $175,000 received on September 11th from Take Initiative America LLC in … Union, MO? The registered agent for TIA is Hurth.
An anomaly immediately jumps out: TIA was formed on September 10th, and the only thing it has ever done is pass that 175 thou to Californians for Equal Representation. It seems unlikely in the extreme that Hurth, who’s never had any interest in politics, much less those in California, would suddenly form a “grassroots group” to contribute a hefty sum to a petition drive in that state. In fact, until last March, he had never contributed to a political campaign. And who got that contribution last March? Hurth gave $2300 to Rudy Giuliani’s campaign.
He is one of several people connected to the California petition drive who are Giuliani supporters. Democratic groups assert that the petition initiative drive itself is a Republican effort, probably backed specifically by Giuliani. Giuliani’s campaign denies any connection to the petition.
Democrats further believe that the contribution from TIA LLC is money laundering. It is illegal in California to contribute money through an intermediary without disclosing the true donor. California’s Fair Political Practices Commission is looking into the matter.
Democrats further insist that it is not all that surprising that Hurth would be serving clandestine interests. They note that in 2004, he fronted for Choices for America, a conservative group that worked to get Nader on the ballot in key states where Kerry might win.
Kevin Eckery, the spokesman for the proposed ballot measure, said “whether it’s a front for presidential candidates – even if it was, what’s the big deal?”
“We’ve said all along that some of the people we would approach for fundraising are contributors to various presidential candidates,” he said. “If somebody wants to support us because we’re trying to create a voting system that’s fairer … what’s the problem?”
It matters, say the Dems, for two reasons. First, the petition organizers have been vociferously repeating, up and and down the state, that the drive is “by Californians, for Californians.” And yet their only contribution so far is from Union, MO (population 7700), from a company that is almost certainly a front group for Republican interests.
It matters, secondly, because money laundering is taken seriously in California politics. Two major fines have been levied in recent years ($95,000 in one case, $135,000 in another) for exactly this kind of offense. In fact, the Sacramento attorney who wrote the proposed ballot measure, Thomas Hiltachk, unsuccessfully defended the woman who was fined $135,000. So he ought to know better than to be up to the same tricks in this case.
The Democrats who are publicizing this illegal and underhanded funding are issuing a challenge to Californians for Equal Representation: Come clean by noon on Monday (high noon!), or we will file a legal complaint forcing you to reveal who is the hidden hand behind this contribution.
Meanwhile, Hurth is lying low and refusing to answer his phone. All we know about him is that he bit that law student in the bar that night ten years ago, then high fived his friends. Hurth opined that he didn’t mean to hurt her and that she should have considered it a compliment. After all, he had done the same thing to women at two fraternity parties at Vanderbilt and nobody sued.
The jurors didn’t take it as lightly. They gave her $2,500 in actual damages and $25,000 in punitive damages. This case may eventually make that one look like peanuts.