Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bill McClellan Presents an Terrible Solution to a Terrible Problem

Bill McClellan recently wrote a column supporting racial profiling.

McClellan compared the problem of St. Louis smog in the 1930s to the problem of crime in the 2010s.

He outlines how the solution to the smog problem was to ban dirty Illinois coal.

His solution to the present crime problem is to suspend the constitution and then mandate intensive racial profiling. He wants to target young black men. He wants them all frisked. He wants their mothers to go to jail if they are found with weapons.

Basically Bill McClellan has compared young black men to dirty Illinois coal.

Does he think that he has come up with a new idea when he suggests the labeling of all young black males as a suspect criminal class and then targeting them for police harassment, detention, arrest and imprisonment? It might be useful for Bill to read The New Jim Crow to get a better idea of what has been going on during the last 30 years with the so called War on Drugs.

Punishing an entire class of people based on the crimes of some of these these people is called collective punishment. It is an assault on the constitution that McClellan wants to suspend. Of course, why should Bill care? He is an old white man, not a young black man. He's not part of the suspect group. He's not advocating that police harass him - he's asking police to harass other people. I guess he would still want the constitution to apply to him, just not to young black people. Now there is a new, modern idea - a constitution for one race but not another race.

I do read Bill McClellan's columns. I realize that his ideas here are not motivated out of hatred, but rather a desire to stop killings. I do realize, as he states in his column, that the majority of murder victims in the St. Louis area are also young black people and McClellan's heart aches for victims like Anya Cook who he wrote about recently.

Regardless of the reason why, the ideas he presents are appalling - he suggested suspending the constitution for a category of people based on their age and race.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Missouri Democratic Party Declares Victory While Losing All Control Over Lawmaking Process

The Missouri Democratic Party is out with a statement today cheering how successful they were in the elections:
The Missouri Democratic Party rose to the challenge in the 2012 election cycle, with victory in five of six statewide races on the ballot. This electoral success shows the Party is alive and well, even when Republicans outnumbered Democrats at the polls and Mitt Romney carried the state.
Don't get me wrong; Missouri Democrats did win important contests.  They prevented Rex Sinquefield from buying the Secretary of State's office.  They put themselves in good position for the next gubernatorial contest.  They soundly thumped Ed Martin. And thank the holy heavens Claire McCaskill beat Todd Akin!

But the real problem is that Republicans won seats in the Missouri House of Representatives, and now have a veto-proof majority in both the house and senate.  So even though we have a Democratic governor, Republicans can basically pass any law they want, provided they can get their caucus to support it.  

And this flop is after a disastrous 2010 election where Democrats lost seats as well.  I just don't understand how Missouri Democrats can be so bad at losing house and senate elections in a state where Democrats can win 5 out of 6 statewide races.  Yes I realize, as the Post-Dispatch editorial board pointed out,  that the redistricting process is less-than-ideal.  But even so, it makes absolutely no sense that Republicans would control 67% of the House Seats and 70% of the Senate seats in a state where Obama wins 44% of the vote.  

Who is in charge of recruiting and training good house and senate candidates, if not the Missouri Democratic Party?  Is there any indication that they're even paying attention to this part of the political process?  Their statement of "victory" doesn't indicate that they are.  If Democrats don't want  the state completely in control of birthers like House Speaker Tim Jones, they need to start figuring out how to compete at the House and Senate level.

Update: Jeff Mazur weighs in on Twitter:

So to clarify, based on Jeff's point, the legal institution known as the Missouri Democratic Party shouldn't be blamed for the disastrous situation in the Missouri legislature, as that's not really their responsibility.  However, there's clearly disfunction in the leadership of the Missouri Democrats, which has now led to Republicans having virtually unchecked power.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Missouri Jobs with Justice Says Vote NO on Proposition A. I agree

Supporters of the bill are flat out falsely claiming that this will make it easier to get a civilian review board, even though the ballot language explicitly prevents this.  Jobs with Justice, and pretty much all of the activists who have worked on this issue for over 10 years, are opposed to the phony version of "local control" expressed in Proposition A.  The people pushing this bill are working for multi-millionaire right-wing extremist Rex Sinquefield, who sees Missouri as his personal chess board.  Here's the text of the message from Missouri JWJ:

Jobs with Justice has supported local control of the St. Louis City Police Department, collective bargaining rights for police officers, and a civilian review board for our neighbors for over a decade.

However, the current ballot initiative proposing local control of the police unnecessarily undermines the power of a civilian review board and threatens good community/police relations.

Therefore we endorse a NO vote on Prop A, but continue to support other efforts to return control of the St. Louis City Police Department in a way that protects the rights of our police force and our neighbors by protecting collective bargaining rights for officers and the establishment of a civilian review board for our city. For more information check out:

Proposition A

Official Ballot Title:

    Shall Missouri law be amended to:

However, the current ballot initiative proposing local control of the police unnecessarily undermines the power of a civilian review board and threatens good community/police relations.

Therefore we endorse a NO vote on Prop A, but continue to support other efforts to return control of the St. Louis City Police Department in a way that protects the rights of our police force and our neighbors by protecting collective bargaining rights for officers and the establishment of a civilian review board for our city. For more information check out:

Proposition A

Official Ballot Title:

    Shall Missouri law be amended to:

Therefore we endorse a NO vote on Prop A, but continue to support other efforts to return control of the St. Louis City Police Department in a way that protects the rights of our police force and our neighbors by protecting collective bargaining rights for officers and the establishment of a civilian review board for our city. For more information check out:

Proposition A

Official Ballot Title:

    Shall Missouri law be amended to:

Proposition A
Official Ballot Title:
    Shall Missouri law be amended to:
 allow any city not within a county (the City of St. Louis) the option of transferring certain obligations and control of the city’s police force from the board of police commissioners currently appointed by the governor to the city and establishing a municipal police force;
establish certain procedures and requirements for governing such a municipal police force including residency, rank, salary, benefits, insurance, and pension; and
prohibit retaliation against any employee of such municipal police force who reports conduct believed to be illegal to a superior, government agency, or the press?
    State governmental entities estimated savings will eventually be up to $500,000 annually. Local governmental entities estimated annual potential savings of $3.5 million; however, consolidation decisions with an unknown outcome may result in the savings being more or less than estimated.

For the Full Text of Proposition A, visit this page on this Secretary of State's website. For the Fair Ballot Language, visit this page on the Secretary of State's website. To see the full list of MO JwJ's recommendations on this election's Propositions and Amendments, click here.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Rex Sinquefield's Radical Agenda For Missouri, and the St. Louis Democrats Who Will Help Him

The Wall Street Journal has a new story out about Rex Sinquefield, and it's a doozy. Among the revelations: Rex was in New York City recently hanging with his buddy Karl Rove:
Liberals who suspect that wealthy businessmen and political masterminds are colluding to hijack democracy might have fainted had they walked into the St. Regis hotel's lobby restaurant in New York the other day. There was Rex Sinquefield, a deep-pocketed St. Louis, Mo., native and big-time political donor, sitting across from the Republican Rasputin himself, Karl Rove. The not-so-vast right-wing conspiracy in plain public view.
In fact, Rex is apparently a major funder of Roves' dishonest "dark money" smear advertisements that are trampling democracy:
He won't say how much money he has donated to political causes in general, or specifically to Mr. Rove and his Super PAC, American Crossroads, but it's safe to say it's more than a pittance.
Mr. "libertarian" Rex is rooting for Todd Akin in the Missouri Senate race:
In this year's U.S. Senate race, Mr. Sinquefield's support for Missouri Treasurer Sarah Steelman wasn't enough to defeat Todd Akin in the GOP primary. But he's still quietly hoping Mr. Akin wins, despite the candidate's comments about "legitimate rape" and pregnancy, which Mr. Sinquefield calls "crazy." He hardly relishes taking Mr. Akin's side, and lapses into prayerful French asking for forgiveness ("Pardonnez moi, mon dieu")...
Oh, and just like he was rooting for St. Louis public schools to fail, he's rooting for Kansas to take Missouri jobs. Did I say "rooting for?" I meant he's bankrolling Kansas initiatives to take Missouri jobs:
This year he spent more than $2 million collecting signatures to eliminate the state's corporate and personal income taxes and replace them with a sales tax capped at 7%. Mr. Sinquefield decided to postpone the initiative until next year because it wasn't polling well. Then again, he says, smiling, he may not need to put the initiative on the ballot in 2013 after all—because of some unexpected help from Missouri's next-door neighbor. Earlier this year, Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law a significant tax cut, reducing the Kansas income-tax rate to 4.9% from 6.45% and eliminating taxes on 190,000 small businesses. "Unbelievably brilliant," Mr. Sinquefield says of the Kansas approach. He expects that businesses, especially S corporations and limited liability companies, will flock across the border. "You go into Kansas City and you stand on State Line Road, right in the heart of the metro area," he says, and watch businesses jump from the Missouri side to Kansas. "The doctors are going to move. The lawyers are going to move. It will be a little harder for manufacturing to move, but they'll move too. There will be a cloud of dust at the Missouri-Kansas border." No surprise: Mr. Sinquefield bankrolled—he won't say how much—a group called Kansans for No Income Tax that helped get the law passed.
And even worse is that Rex is planning to spend bucketloads of money in 2014 demonizing public school teachers in a bid to get rid of "teacher tenure." What's truly sad, however, is not that deluded right-wing millionaires are trying to impose their ideas on the rest of the world by throwing cash around, but rather that so many St. Louis "Democrats" are willing to do their bidding in return for table scraps. Just this past week, an employee of one of Rex's groups wrote a blog post for the Huffington Post using touchy-feely language to set the stage for attacking teacher tenure in just the way Sinquefield suggested. And of course many St. Louis Democrats are all-too-willingly pushing the phony "local control" ballot initiative funded by Rex in exchange for who-knows-what favors. He already knows he can buy any and all Missouri Republican politicians; if we allow him to buy St. Louis Democrats as well, it will be next to impossible to stop his misguided agenda for the state.

Sloppy Polling Memo By Mason Dixon Says Akin's Getting Closer to McCaskill-Updated

Update: McCaskill campaign poll blows the Mason Dixon poll out of the water! (see below) A new poll paid for by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Kansas City Star, and KMOV and conducted by Mason Dixon is out claiming that Senator Claire McCaskill is only leading Todd Akin by 2 percentage points. However, the polling numbers are strange and the memo, if not the poll itself, is very sloppy. As Brandon H notes, they spelled Jason Kander's name "Kandor:"
Brandon also pointed out that the memo used "Conservative Party" instead of the correct name "Constitution Party" on the question about the Presidential race. But what's really strange, and possibly a larger problem if the sloppiness goes beyond just the memo, is that the poll questions as written on the document asked about third party candidates by name in all of the races *except* the Senate race (h/t Alexandra). For example, here's the wording for the question about the Treasurer's race, which includes the Libertarian Party candidate:
On the other hand, for the Missouri Senate race, the question on the memo only lists Claire McCaskill and Todd Akin, despite the fact that Libertarian candidate Johnathan Dine has been polling at anywhere between 6 % and 9 % in recent polls:
Note that Dine is listed as getting 4% of the vote, so perhaps he was included on the original question (despite what the memo says), but 4 % is lower than his averages in other recent polls. I'll also point out that in the two most recent polls Todd Akin's unfavorables have been waaay over 50%. In a poll taken on Oct 17, Rasumussen found 62% of respondents had an unfavorable view of Akin. And on a poll conducted from Oct. 19 through 21, PPP had his unfavorables at 57%. But on the new poll, conducted only a few days later from Oct 23 to 25, only 42% of respondents viewed Akin negatively. So yeah, after Todd Akin said that women's bodies can magically shut down pregnancies from "legitimate" rapes, after suggesting that McCaskill was "unladylike" because she was aggressive at a debate, after comparing McCaskill to a "dog," not to mention his crazy policy positions, only 42% of Missouri voters have a negative impression of him? I have a hard time believing this poll ended up with a representative sample. Anyway, what's always important to note is that individual polls should never be taken as perfectly describing the elections. Polling averages are generally much more accurate, and every once in a while even a well-conducted poll will end up with an average that's off the mark. And if the race was really genuinely close, would the RNC be acting like this:
An NRSC spokesman said it is a keeping "a close eye on this race" and hopes Akin can win.... But two Republicans with knowledge of the situation said the committee has looked at the race several times in the aftermath of Akin's remarks and decided he is too far adrift of McCaskill for them to get involved with the contest. The committee has instead poured money into other states. The Republicans spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the committee's decision-making.
Update:Scott Charton is tweeting out the results from an internal poll from the McCaskill campaign showing her with a lead of 53-39. And (cough cough) it shows Akin's unfavorable rating at 58%. So, if you're trying to decide which poll is more plausible, consider that the Mason Dixon poll requires us to believe that within a period of 3 days, 1 out of every 5 voters (20%) previously had an unfavorable opinion of Akin but then changed their mind. On the McCaskill poll, Akin's numbers stayed exactly where they have been in two other polls taken earlier this week.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Incompetent Akin Campaign Is Dialing Phone Numbers in Kansas

What's truly unique about Todd Akin among Republicans is not that he has offensive views or that he's completely clueless about science (although both of these are true).  It's that he's so amazingly bad at hiding his crazy views, and continues to act offensively when everyone knows he should be keeping his mouth shut.  Throughout the campaign, and particularly after Akin's "legitimate rape" comment, his campaign has exuded an aura of complete incompetence, and not just because of their never-ending stream of tone-deaf, offensive statements.  For example, after Akin's campaign spitefully leaked an email from the Post-Dispatch, the reporter Kevin McDermott said the following:
“I shared the top of it with the campaign in an effort to give them an opportunity to fully respond, not to allow them to hurl an incomplete story out there under my name,” McDermott wrote in an email to Roll Call. “Unfortunately, I assumed I was dealing with a professional.”
A letter to the editor in today's Kansas City Star provides further support for the idea that Akin's campaign is not being run by professionals:
Now I really have a reason to detest those automated political phone calls. I received a phone call from former Arkansas governor and current Fox News personality Mike Huckabee asking for my support for Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin.
Mr. Akin should be glad he could not hear my unladylike response. You see, I’ll never vote for Mr. Akin despite his calls to my home phone. 
I live in Kansas. 
Kathyrn Bach
Of course this is just one letter, but it certainly fits with a pattern of incompetence that permeates every single aspect of his campaign.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Todd Akin says McCaskill is "Like a dog" who "fetches" bureaucracy

Politicmo has audio of Todd Akin at a fundraiser tonight saying that Senator Claire McCaskill is "like one of those dogs" who "fetches" red tape and bureaucracy:

Here's the exact quote:
“She goes to Washington, D.C., it’s a little bit like one of those dogs, ‘fetch,’” he said. “She goes to Washington, D.C., and get all of these taxes and red tape and bureaucracy and executive orders and agencies and brings all of this stuff and dumps it on us in Missouri.”
I guess we should give Todd Akin the benefit of the doubt though, since he supports equal pay for women, doesn't accuse his opponent of not being ladylike just because she kicked his butt in a debate, and doesn't have insane views about pregnancy fueled by his religion fanaticism.  Oh wait, he actually doesn't support equal pay for women, said Claire McCaskill wasn't "ladylike" after he lost a debate to her, and claimed that women can magically shut down pregnancy in the case of "legitimate" rape?  Wow, he's got some real issues!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Student Debt Conference this Saturday!

a message from YSTL:

Concerned about rising student debt? Concerned about the affordability and accessibility of college for the next generation? Young Activist United in Saint Louis (YSTL) is holding a Conference on Student Debt, Saturday September 29th from 9-4 at the Regional Arts Commission on the Delmar Loop. Join us to talk about this growing national problem, and how it impacts individuals and our economy. Also, help YSTL shape their campaign on student debt in the coming year.

The event is free and open to the public, and lunch will be provided. Please RSVP at Also, visit us on the web to learn more:


Broadly speaking the schedule will be: milling around / eat bagel, panel discussion, lunch, small group discussions, action planning!

Hope to see you there.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Blowing the Whistle on Peabody's Coal Train

I'm reposting this from Dave Scott, a teacher in Saint Louis and former resident of West Virginia. It's a great piece on the city, Peabody, and the very real harm that being in bed with corporations can wreak on communities. If you want to fight back then please try and make it out to a meeting this Thursday at 6:30 PM at the World Community Center (438 North Skinker). We'd love to see you there!
            I’m writing to you today as a transplant to the great city of St. Louis. It’s been almost ten years since I said goodbye to the country roads and green rolling hills of West Virginia where I lived the first 29 years of my life. Since then, I’ve spent nine years in our schools getting to know the city through the eyes of my students. This is the time of year when I’m typically arranging new music, and planning performances for my high school band; however, I received some sad news this week that's turned my attention back to the Mountain State. I write to you today in memoriam of the longtime environmental activist, Larry Gibson, from Kayford Mountain, WV.

            Larry Gibson spent his entire life on the property that had been passed through his family for generations. During the late 1980’s, when Mountaintop Removal became the primary mining technique used in the region, Gibson found himself surrounded by the constant blasting and toxic dust storms created by coal companies as they forever change the Appalachian skyline. It’s fair to say that he didn’t become an activist by choice. Watching the life on his mountain home explode into a dusty moonscape was just the beginning of his ordeal.

You see, coal isn’t the only thing that lies under the surface in West Virginia. Through the process of blasting away the mountaintops, many toxins and carcinogens are pulverized into one poisonous mixture which is either discharged into the wind, or simply bulldozed onto the rivers and valleys below. The latest study conducted by Dr. Michael Hendryx at West Virginia University suggests that the airborne sulphur, silica, and other particulate matter that drifts miles away from the surface mines is responsible for increases of cancer, kidney disease, and other ‘unexplained’ illnesses that are plaguing the coal fields. Other studies conducted by Duke University and WVU have also found high levels of selenium, cadmium, chromium, lead, and arsenic downstream from the mountaintop removal sites, and in well water nearby. Over 1,200 miles of Appalachian streams, which were once home to a diverse population of fish and wildlife, have been covered by these valley fills. In many cases, ground water that had been depended upon for more than a hundred years has been contaminated.

            According to the research performed by Appalachian Voices in 2006, there is a very direct correlation between mountaintop removal sites and the most poverty-stricken counties of the region. This is no coincidence; the more affluent people of New York and Pennsylvania would never stand for the permanent destruction of the Catskills or the Poconos. The state of West Virginia, which has been characterized for generations as having the most corrupt politicians in the country, has allowed coal companies to operate without paying taxes for several decades. Of all the characteristics of my home state that I would love to see here in St. Louis, it’s a shame that political companionship with the mining industry offers the most remarkable similarity.

One of the responsible parties for the environmental destruction throughout Appalachia is a familiar name in the St. Louis region, and a part of our own skyline. It’s from behind the tinted windows above Keiner Plaza that Peabody Energy operates the corporate machinery used for drilling away at EPA regulations and the pensions of retired miners. Don’t believe for one second that this apparatus isn’t being used on St. Louis. According to the analysis attached to the Peabody tax abatement proposal of 2012, our city’s public schools are expected to lose 1.96 million dollars over the next decade. That money would be very useful in hiring more reading specialists, more math specialists, and more classroom teachers.

As a teacher, it pains me to tell you how these coal companies have demonstrated their disdain for public schools in West Virginia. Their operations around Marsh Fork Elementary forced teachers to remove coal dust from the chalkboards every morning. In this small rural school, there were four teachers and two former students diagnosed with cancer over a six year span. In 2012, the school was forced to relocate due to the building of a containment pond which houses millions of gallons of heavily polluted water known as coal slurry directly adjacent to school property. According to, these earthen dams that are built to hold this toxic sludge have failed sixty five times over the years, leaving those local communities and wildlife habitats devastated.

Here in St. Louis, our public schools may not be in eminent danger of a coal dust explosion or a flash flood of coal slurry, but they are victims of the mining industry nonetheless. Allowing Peabody to exist in our city with a free pass on school funding is nothing short of depraved indifference. While our schools have been concentrating their efforts on accreditation, they are also responsible for serving the ten meals that many of our students count on each week in addition to their one shot at the American dream. Our schools aren’t failing, as much as our local leaders and businesses are failing them. It’s not the intentions of this corporate giant to answer the prayers of those who hope that their children will escape the poverty and crime that curse our city. However, it is our mayor’s duty to protect us from corporations who would take a government freebie with one hand while stealing opportunities from our children with the other.

It’s evident that the Peabody Corporation has actually found a source of renewable energy here in St. Louis. It’s called political power. The utility rates may run a little higher during the election cycle, but buying elections is what keeps the lights on at Peabody- that is unless we, the taxpayers of St. Louis, decide to throw the switch. Just like Larry Gibson from Kayford Mountain, we have no choice in St. Louis. We can no longer afford to support a mayor who will offer this company a tax shelter five hundred miles away from the destruction along Coal River, or within one mile of the poverty here in our city. The people of St. Louis expect corporations to pay their fair share in taxes like the rest of us. That new banner atop the Peabody Building boasts of the company’s record of ‘helping people’; it seems feasible that someone in the city government could demand that they live up to the simplicity of that slogan and pay their share in municipal taxes.

 Larry Gibson, the man affectionately known as the Keeper of the Mountains said, “They tell us we’re collateral damage. Well, I ain’t collateral damage. I’m somebody.” As a parent and teacher, I’m here to tell you that the students of Saint Louis Public Schools are somebody too. They don’t deserve to be left behind by City Council, or the financiers of Mayor Slay’s reelection campaign. Please, make your plea to end Peabody’s tax abatement in the City of St. Louis. Call the Board of Aldermen at (314)-622-3287, or Mayor Slay’s office at (314)-622-3201.

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: