Friday, August 24, 2012

MIssouri GOP Insider Reveals Disdain for Party Base

A recent Columbia Tribune article about Akin included an amazingly honest quote from a Missouri GOP insider:
The anger at Akin is intense. With his refusal to step aside, they see serious damage to GOP chances in many races this year. "I, personally, and a lot of people like me, want to punish Todd Akin," one insider said. "This is about getting you freaking people out of our party."
In my opinion, the positions of the extreme religious Right are ridiculous and I can see why someone wouldn't want them "in their party." But of course, the reality is that Republicans do want them in the party, as they want them voting for their Big Business candidates like Mitt Romney. They just don't want them in positions of leadership or influence.  Hence, when a True Believer like Todd Akin gets elected, the GOP party bosses are quick to try to destroy him and push him out in favor of an insider like John Brunner or Ann Wagner.

The quote, I think, reveals a core truth about the modern GOP; it's controlled by the super-wealthy and Big Business who use social issues to manipulate hordes of people into voting against their own self-interest.  The Roy Blunts, Mitt Romneys, and "grassroots Ambassador" to Luxembourg Ann Wagners of the world run for office for the purpose of putting more money into their and their friends' pockets, and they manipulate evangelicals into thinking that they care about social issues. The Religious Right should have their own party, and they should try out their own views in the free marketplace of ideas, but there's really no reason for them to keep giving away votes to people who only want to plunder the middle class.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Three St. Louis Area Tea Party Blogs Defend Akin Against GOP Establishment

Three bloggers from that one group that used to be tea party but now has some other acronym recently published blog posts defending Todd Akin and attacking the GOP establishment that tried to push him out.

Virginia Kruta:
If Akin stays in this race, it is possible that he has been damaged enough that we could lose this seat. And that is a scary thought, especially for Missourians, who would be saddled with another six years of Claire McCaskill. But how does that compare to grassroots losing *all* seats that boast candidates who have angered the GOP? Think of Todd Akin as the canary in the coal mine - if he falls to this strategy, who is next? Every election from here on out, we will not only have to fight the left and the media, but also the pseudo-right. 
If we continue to support Todd Akin, we have the ability to hit the national establishment where it hurts. Sadly, many who claim to be fighters have already fallen prey to the narrative. There may not be enough of us left to cripple the establishment this time around, and every time we fail they get stronger.
So wait for Todd Akin's response. And if he intends to fight, I say we fight with him.

Yet political players far and wide now wish to overturn the legitimate winner of a primary election; party players and powers that be, wish to disenfranchise all republican voters of Missouri, in order for these power players to put who they would like to see him replaced with. These are the same people who didn't want Akin to run for the Senate, the same people who didn't support him during the election, the same people who did their best to undermine him in order to get a less conservative candidate to run... And yet, after the people of Missouri, who knowingly voted for the more conservative candidate - are very likely going to have their votes overturned, by party players who didn't approve of their votes to begin with.
On the pretext of a politically sensitive gaffe, the candidate nominated in a statewide election, is potentially going to be removed from the race, and replaced by someone the GOP would have preferred to have been (s)elected in the first place.

While supporters in both John Brunner’s and Sarah Steelman’s camp gnared their teeth at the opportunity to snag the seat, should Akin vacate, those dreams were quickly dashed by the time they finally finished reading through Missouri’s Sore Loser Law....
It is clear that the people voted, and Akin’s primary win should be upheld. It is also clear that the Missouri Establishment GOP was quick to stand next to the progressive extremists in throwing Akin under the bus, over and over again. 
Guess that's the last time the GOP establishment will ever try "gnaring" their teeth. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Todd Akin's Horrible Rape Comments Are Part of A Pattern

In case you somehow missed it, Todd Akin made unbelievably ignorant and misogynistic comments on the Jaco Report, claiming that women who are the victims of "legitimate rape," won't get pregnant:

(crazy comments start around the 4 minute mark)

Akin's quote:
“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
This isn't a simple one-time mistake based on talking to a couple nutty "doctors."  This is part of an incredibly disturbing pattern from Akin when it comes to rape.  Some of the lowlights from Talking Points Memo:

Akin is perhaps the boldest among a crop of conservative 2012 nominees who could hamperGOP efforts to take back the Senate in the fall. Akin has called for an end to the school-lunch program and a total ban on the morning-after pill [even in cases of rape].

His claim about “legitimate” types of rape is not completely foreign to the current Republican Congress, however. In 2011, the House GOP was forced to drop language from a bill that would have limited federal help to pay for an abortion to only victims of “forcible rape.” Akin was a co-sponsor on the bill.

Nor is this Akin’s first time suggesting some types of rape are more worthy of protections than others. As a state legislator, Akin voted in 1991 for an anti-marital-rape law, but only after questioning whether it might be misused “in a real messy divorce as a tool and a legal weapon to beat up on the husband,” according to a May 1 article that year in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Right To Life Without A Right To Eat

Todd Akin somehow thinks that no one has a right to food, even though they have a right to life: 

And shame on you, Mr. or Ms. Commie, for thinking otherwise.

Todd Akin Teaches Poor Kids A Lesson By Not Allowing Them To Eat

Hearts starve as well as bodies.  But Todd Akin doesn't care about either.  That oughta teach those poor kids for being born poor.  Bet they won't try that again.

A New Level Of Cynicism From Todd Akin

I'm pretty sure there was a time in politics where people at least attempted, to some small degree, to have their claims at least remotely line up with reality and with their previous comments.  This is no longer true of the modern GOP.  For any documented negative consequence of their policies, they will simply spend millions of dollars on ads accusing the Democrats of doing the same thing in hopes of muddying the waters enough that low-information voters will simply shrug their shoulders and look for other reasons to vote for one candidate over the other.

Todd Akin has now taken this strategy to a new low.  Despite the fact that he claims that Medicare is unconstitutional, he's up with new advertisements, he's up with a new ad claiming that he's fighting to "protect and strengthen Medicare" and  claiming that Senator McCaskill is trying to weaken it.  It's the absolute height of cynicism, and shows clearly how little Akin thinks of voters.

On the other hand, Akin at least stood by his comments that offering students loans to go to college is "stage 3 cancer of socialism," saying he was "calling a spade a spade." But of course, in GOP minds, his standing by this comment now doesn't really matter at all.  If they decide this is a bad issue for them, they'll just drop a few million on ads next week claiming that "Akin is working hard to protect student loans, while Claire McCaskill destroys them."  They think Missouri voters are too stupid to know the facts.  I hope we prove them wrong.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Today In Crazy Things Todd Akin Actually Believes

Todd Akin thinks student loans are part of a "stage 3 cancer of socialism:"

Students loans are not like cancer.  They're not even like a hangnail, or a headache. They have been a godsend to millions of people, and are a crucial component of keeping the United States economy going forward in the modern age.  But then, Todd Akin doesn't really seem to be of the modern age, does he?

Photo via the Post-Dispatch.

h/t Politico.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Guy Who Said Conservatives Should "Kill The Claire Bear" Can't Figure Out Why Democrats Think Akin's Views Are Outside the Mainstream

When we last heard from St. Louis-based tea party activist Scott Boston, he was telling a Missouri tea party audience the following about Senator McCaskill:
“She walks around like she’s some sort of Rainbow Brite Care Bear or something but really she’s an evil monster.” “We have to kill the Claire Bear,” he added.
This prompted additional security at Senator McCaskill's events and a harsh rebuke from the Post-Dispatch.

Today, as you can see from the above tweet, Boston is absolutely shocked about a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee email that stated the following:
From his record to his rhetoric, everything about Todd Akin’s Tea Party policies are outside of the mainstream and dangerous for Missouri families.
Noting first that the email was referring to Todd Akin's policies, rather than "conservatives," why would anyone think that Akin's policies are "dangerous" and "outside the mainstream"?  Well, aside from the fact that Akin refused to condemn Boston's "kill the Claire Bear" comments, here are a few reasons:

  • The Hill: Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) voted against the creation of a national sex offender registry and against reauthorizing a program that assists runaway and homeless children.
  • On CSPAN: In March 2011, Akin said he doesn't like Social Security. "Now, Social Security through the years, for many, many people, has been a terrible investment. It's really a tax, that's all it is. Social Security is a tax. The government has taken the tax. There's been more money coming in than going out. And we spend it. That's not been responsible. I don't like it. I didn't design Social Security. It actually came from Bismarck, FDR put it in place." [CSPAN Washington Journal]
  • Fired Up Missouri: ...when giving an interview to Greg Knapp on KCMO, republican extremist Todd Akin stated that he would ban emergency contraception because he "believes it is abortion," and he would ban it for everyone, with no exceptions.
  • The Washington Post: In 2012, Akin was one of 24 to vote against the Training and Research for Autism Improvements Nationwide Act; 147 Republicans voted for it. A GOP press release described this as an effort to “advance training and education for autism service providers” so that “autistic children and adults can lead fuller, happier and healthier lives.”
  • And: In 2010, Akin was one of only 13 to vote No on a motion “expressing the support of the House of Representatives for the goals and ideals of the National School Lunch Program.” 155 Republicans voted for it.
  • And: In 2009, Akin was one of 11 to vote against a measure “expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that providing breakfast in schools through the National School Breakfast Program has a positive impact on classroom performance.” 152 Republicans voted for it.
  • Buzzfeed: Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin drew fire from fellow Republicans in the '90s for praising a private militia group associated with extreme anti-abortion actions, according to a 2000 St. Louis Post-Dispatch article.
  • MediaiteRep. Akin, a veteran and father of three Marines, clues us in about his confusion on the issue with very inarticulate language:
    There is a misunderstanding. If people are gay, they can serve in the military now. It’s just that they can’t allow their ‘gayness’ to get in the way of getting the mission done.

I could go on, but life is too short.

So yeah, even if you don't think that conservatives are "dangerous" and "outside the mainstream" you certainly have reasons for thinking that Akin's policies are.

Danforth Doesn't Seem to Think Akin Can Appeal To Independents

Fired Up Missouri reports on former Senator John Danforth's comments about Todd Akin to the News-Leader:

“Akin is pretty scary to a lot of mainstream Republicans,” [Kenneth Warren, a political science professor at St. Louis University] said, pointing to Akin’s habit of lacing his speeches with religious references, among other things. That can put off business-minded Republicans, not to mention independents. 
Former Sen. John Danforth, R-Mo., is a case in point. Asked whether Republicans would unite around Akin now that the primary is over, Danforth said: 
“The real question isn’t divisiveness among rock-ribbed Republicans — the real question is, who is going to be able to appeal to the independents and the undecideds and the more centrist voters. I think that really is going to be the challenge for both congressman Akin and Senator McCaskill.” 
Asked whether Akin could or would make a successful pitch to those [independent and centrist] voters, Danforth said: “I just don’t know.”

Missouri Todd Akin Establishes New Olympic Record for Inserting His Foot in His Mouth

On Todd Akin's first day as the official Republican Senate candidate in Missouri, he made sure to remind people that he hates Medicare and wants to privatize Social Security.

Transcript via the McCaskill campaign from Akin's KCMO interview:
AKIN: Well, I think what we need to do is, what we have to do with Medicare is... It's a typically flawed, big government solution. In Medicare you have got the government setting prices for things. Anytime the government sets any price for anything you've got trouble. You need to have that done in the marketplace. So, first thing off I think you want to get rid of all of those government set prices for healthcare things and allow people to just bid on that business. So, people that are in Medicare will have the opportunity to choose somebody that's going to provide services for them and they can choose between different things, different providers. So, if somebody doesn't do a good job for you, boom, you move to something else. So, that's one of the first things that's in Medicare that's got to be done is to get rid of all the government price setting.

KNAPP: Are you still looking to partially privatize [Social Security]?

AKIN: Well, I think the first thing in Social Security, I don't know if you'd call this privatizing, I think, and this is where I think FDR was cheating on this system, that would be if you put money, and your employer puts money into Social Security for your retirement, why should that be in a little account that you can see the money and watch it grow? Why should be just take that money and spend it on general, all kinds of things that the government wants to spend money on it. We're spending other people’s retirement. Why shouldn't that money go into some account? Maybe it's held by the government; maybe you can’t get your hands on it very easily. But at least the money should go into your account instead of just sort of disappearing in the vapors as big government boys want to spend it all now and forget about what's going to happen tomorrow.

Why yes, you would call that privatizing. Please keep talking Todd.

As a reminder, here's video of Akin saying he doesn't "like" Social Security. And he's not just talking about the facebook group.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

St. Louis Tea Party Blog Endorsed Ed Emery Because His Opponent Associates With "Liberal Democrat Lesbians" and "Black-Owned Newspapers"

From the 24th Rate Blog, endorsing far right-wing state senate candidate Ed Emery:
Conservative voters in the 31st District who may be "fuzzed" into confusion about whether Ed Emery, the endorsed conservative is a better candidate than Scott Largent may be interested to know that Largent has a uniquely close relationship with a liberal Democrat lesbian from St. Louis who boasted about this relationship in a black-owned City of St. Louis newspaper.  
 Why, exactly, would they be "interested to know" that?  Anyway, it was good enough for the St. Louis Tea Party.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Endorsements For Tuesday's Primary

My 1 and 1/2 cents (in order of which races I've been thinking about the most):

Russ Carnahan vs. Lacy Clay

I fought against Democrats selling out and giving away one of St. Louis's congressional seats.  After that happened, I argued that Carnahan should run in the 2nd District against Ann Wagner, even though it would be difficult.  But now that we have Clay vs Carnahan, I have to go with the person I think would be the best Congressman representing the 1st District.  I think Russ Carnahan would be a better congressman, for two primary reasons.  First, as I wrote previously, Carnahan had to withstand a lot of nasty, despicable personal attacks when he chose to do the hard work of fighting for healthcare and talking to constituents about it.  Clay, in a completely safe district with nothing to lose, could have advocated for healthcare reform without any risk, yet he did very little.  Second, when I've met with Carnahan, he was well-informed on the issues we were discussing but also willing to take new ideas into consideration.  The two meetings I've had with Clay as part of groups were really discouraging experiences.  I'm not going to get into why, because I think whatever happens Tuesday we should be uniting and working on important races in November.  But I think Carnahan would do a better job representing the district, and so I'm supporting him.

Missouri Senate District 5 : Jeanette Mott Oxford vs. Jamilah Nasheed vs. Robin Wright-Jones

Wait, why did St. Louis and the Democrats lose a congressional seat again? Oh yeah, because several "Democrats" in the state legislature sold out and sided with Republicans to overrule Jay Nixon's veto of Republican's dream map.  And one of the most bombastic and unapologetic of that group of sell-outs was Jamilah Nasheed.  I used to like Nasheed because she was an activist turned politician, but since she's been in office, in addition to giving Republicans an additional Congressional seat they can use to try to undermine President Obama while wrecking the country, she also threw liberal St. Louisans under the bus on a payday loan industry supporting bill and on the puppy mill cruelty bill rollback, she took donations from Republican House Leader Steve Tilley, and she worked with right-wing extremist Rex Sinquefield.  In fact, Fired Up Missouri recently reported that the right-wing Club for Growth, bankrolled almost entirely by Sinquefield, is now sending out mailers attacking Nasheed's opponents. There are enough Republicans bought by Rex in the state legislature; we don't need any more Democrats who are as well (especially since Sinquefield is pushing crazy ideas like abolishing the income tax in favor of a ultra-regressive huge sales tax).

I like both Robin Wright-Jones and Jeanette Mott Oxford and I think both are strong progressives.  However, it's my impression that Wright-Jones no longer has much of a chance of winning after getting some bad press over alleged ethics scandals.  So I support JMO, and honestly think that she's exactly the kind of progressive legislator St. Louis needs more of.

Missouri House District 79:  Michael Butler vs Martin Casas

I mentioned a good reason for voting against Nasheed is that she's worked with and is taking money from right-wing extremist Rex Sinquefield (by the way, I'm not sure if there is *anybody* who works with Rex *without* also taking his money).  That same logic provides a good reason for not voting for Martin Casas, who was paid by a Sinquefield group while apparently building up Rex's statewide email list.  I haven't really been making much noise about this, but since the St. Louis American brought up some of my previous points about Casas in a recent column, I guess I'm committed. Actually, though, my views haven't changed.  As I said above, I don't really trust politicians who are beholden to Sinquefield, and since the Missouri House and Senate are already so close to being a purely veto-proof majority for extremist Republicans, I think it's just too dangerous to put a Democrat in office who might owe some favors to Missouri's Koch Brother from Another Mother.  I endores Butler.

State Senate 13th District: Reddit Hudson vs. Gina Walsh 

My labor friends really like Walsh and I know she's a great candidate, but I really like Reddit Hudson. I got to meet him when he participated at a panel at my school, and as a former police officer who went on to work for the ACLU I think he's got a really interesting story.  He's also an excellent speaker. As I mentioned, some union friends are apparently worried that he doesn't sufficiently support labor unions, but the only evidence they produced in support of this claim was his quote in the Beacon:
Hudson contended that north St. Louis County’s influential labor community has “dictated the political process” for years. While emphasizing that he's pro-labor, Hudson said he opposes "a relatively small group of people dictating the political process to a majority community unchallenged.”
However, the same article points out that Hudson is opposed to anti-Union "Right to Work For Less" bills, and I think his comments were more about the process of selecting a representative than about the actual issues unions fight for.  I really don't think he would underestimate the value of unions to his constituents if he was elected.  I support Hudson but I think the 13th District will have a great senator no matter what happens on Tuesday.

Missouri House District 84: Mike Owens vs. Karla May vs Hope Whitehead

Owens is a former news reporter and the husband of alderwoman Lyda Krewson, and from what I've heard from people in that district, she's part of the St. Louis Democratic establishment and not especially progressive.  I'm all for political power couples, but not ones that are part of the whole conservative Democrat/media establishment status quo of St. Louis.

Karla May voted for the initial Republican map that gave away a U.S. Congressional District, but didn't vote for the veto override.  I'm not entirely sure what was going on, but Hope Whitehead is a safer bet.

Missouri Senate 1st District: Sue Schoemehl vs. Scott Sifton

Sifton is pro-choice, while Schoemehl is not. And I agree with the Post-Dispatch that Sifton's record of not taking lobbyist gifts gives him a great message against the lobbyists best friend Jim Lembke, one of the biggest extremists in the state senate.

Missouri House District 73: 

Doug Clemens is a great guy who fights for working people.  He's someone who is out on the streets supporting good causes, so I can't wait to see him in the state legislature.

Last but definitely not least: 

A special shout-out to Ferguson Democratic Committeewoman Patricia Bynes.  I don't actually know if anyone was crazy enough to run against her, but I know that I'd vote for Patricia in a heartbeat if I lived there.  If I had to guess, I'd say Patricia will have a long and productive political career ahead of her, so you might as well start following her on Twitter or Facebook now.

Update: A friend on facebook reminds me that in keeping with the rule "Vote against Democrats who shamefully gave away a St. Louis/Democratic U.S. House Seat," I should also endorse Ruth Ehresman over Penny Hubbard in House District 78.  She is absolutely correct on that.

Update #2: As Caleb Michael-Files points out on Facebook, supporting Mike Colona is a no-brainer in House District 80.  He's a great progressive.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Taking on Climate Change in Saint Louis

Last August over a thousand people were arrested in a 2-week long action outside the White House protesting the Keystone XL pipeline. Then in November over 10,000 people, myself included, made the symbolic act of forming a human chain around the White House to show our combined rejection of the pipeline. Fours days after that Obama announced that he would not be approving the pipeline plan he was presented with bringing about widespread and well-deserved euphoria. This was all very short-lived as a few weeks later Obama approved the southern leg of the pipeline, setting the stage for the entirety of its construction to move forward piecemeal. Tens of thousands of people began to reassess their tactics.

Take the pipeline as a line in the sand, something that a large segment of the population (you don’t get 10,000 people to Washington on one issue that often) understand the consequences of crossing. Many see the implications of not crossing that line: they know nearly everything in this industrialized society is brought to them by oil, they know how they were able to travel to DC in order to stop the monstrously destructive tar sands projects. Yet despite all this, they are willing to say “enough, we must stop this and move in a different direction.” Many of the tens of thousands of people will put their bodies and possibly their lives on the line to stop the Keystone XL pipeline from existing. They won’t do this because they are selfish, they will be doing it out of deep-seated love for this planet and everything that inhabits it. They’ll do it because they understand that if the pipeline isn’t stopped, we’ll be doing far more as a species than just shooting ourselves in the foot.

Missouri is currently facing droughts and record heat. Crops are being decimated causing the government to have to step in to assist. Over twenty-five people have died in the St. Louis-area from issues related to heat. These events are bound to become more common as we continuously “load the dice” when it comes to the climate.

Last summer, hundreds took the streets in Saint Louis for the Midwest Rising Convergence in order to make clear how local corporations are directly responsible for leading us to the edge when it comes to our climate. With the Convergence and the actions outside the White House, we witnessed an escalation for the climate movement. This summer, this escalation has continued. Just this past Saturday, Texas landowners and activists were trained in how to do soft and hard blockades, in preparation for the attempted building of the southern leg of Keystone XL. On the same day, over fifty people in West Virginia stopped mining for three hours on the Hobet Mine, the largest mountaintop removal mine in the county. They used soft blockades, hard blockades and tree sits, with a handful of people locking themselves to machinery. And then they faced intense scare tactics from Friends of Coal, purposeful ignorance from State Police and for one West Virginian-native, a bloody beating while in jail.

This heightened level of conflict is scary. I was in West Virginia last weekend and when the gun shots went off near our campsite, I was not feeling particularly brave. However, there is a benefit to bringing conflict into the open, to forcing a level conversation that has not been had in this country about what climate change means for our futures. At the end of the day, those gun shots were nowhere close to enough to scare people away from Appalachia because we all have intense moral clarity on why we were there: to fight for the health and well-being of the people of Appalachia, the mountains that surround them and the climate that impacts us all. Conflict is an inherent component of social movements; it is individuals unwavering belief in what is right in the face of the Bull Connors or the KKK that forces others to choose a side and pushes them to action.

In St. Louis, we do not have coal mining or oil drilling or gas fracking. We do have a tar sands pipeline, trains and barges running through our city that transport coal, and refineries and corporations - many of the most important corporations. We have the headquarters that make the decisions on how to mine, where to ship, how much to pay their workers and who to lobby.

Because we do our organizing work locally we know that Saint Louisans are increasingly worried about climate change. Extreme weather such as we are facing now forces us to contemplate all manner of future scenarios, both for the well being of our planet and the people that inhabit it. We know that people are looking for ways to empower themselves in order to leave a healthy planet for future generations (and quite possibly even their own).

We invite everyone to a community discussion on ways to fight back against the causes of global warming this Thursday, 6 PM, at Central Reform Congregation (5020 Waterman Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108). We are confident that working together we have the power to create the just and sustainable world that we so desperately need.

See you in the future,
Arielle & Chris
Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) and Mud Lab

For more info please contact: