Missouri: Figuring Out How to Take Back the House

Crossposted from Show Me Progress:

When Jake Zimmerman spoke at the last West County Dems meeting, he made a point of the fact that last year, for the first time since 1976, Democrats picked up some seats in the Missouri House. A realignment is underway here and nationwide, and it was a great year for the Ds. You'd expect another one in 2008.  After all, Jake said that this time around we have:

"potentially the same dynamic, potentially people just as angry at Republicans, just as angry at the terrible governance that this country and this state have, just as furious with George Bush.  Last time I checked, George Bush was just as bad a president today as he was two years ago. And last I checked, Matt Blunt was just as bad a governor today as he was two years ago, if not worse."
So you would think it's going to be a great year for us, but even supposing there isn't the same harmonic convergence of voter anger over Republican misrule, Zimmerman is optimistic about the picture for Dems in Missouri.

Even if it's just an okay year instead of a great one for our side, he's convinced we'll pick up seats. And that's because of "the MAP". "The map" is better for us this year.  To understand what Jake means by "the map", first you have to know that, in politics, demographics is destiny.

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In Missouri: Jake Zimmerman: Tasked with Becoming a Cynic

Crossposted from Show Me Progress:

When Jake Zimmerman spoke at the last West County Dems meeting, he painted himself as a one time St. Louis County Council candidate and then "party-unifying state rep candidate".  The crowd laughed, knowing that Temporiti had talked him out of running against Barbara Fraser in the primary for the Council seat and into running for her just vacated state rep seat. Jake joked, "I'm sorry, did I just pat myself on the back?" But joking aside, his point was that Democrats have to find ways to work together to get as many Dems elected as possible.

Don't misunderstand Jake's character. He's not into increasing our numbers just as an exercise in power.  Rather, he's thrilled to help write the laws that govern this state. It feels like a childhood dream come true to him, but that dream would be "a heck of a lot more vivid, and in bright, beautiful colors that involve good public policy, if we had a majority in the House of Representatives." It's because he wants the possibility of a passionate debate about policy where he actually has the chance to win, to keep thousands of children from being cut from the Medicaid rolls, for example, that he--and Rachel Storch--have allowed themselves to be tasked with becoming cold and calculating cynics. Think of Rachel as Nancy Pelosi and Jake as a slightly chubby Rahm Emanuel. His job is to look at Mike Garman and to look at Byron DeLear, both running for Akin's seat, and see--not a person in either case--but a turnout machine.

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Missouri: Fighting for Resources in an Election Year

Crossposted from Show Me Progress:

Last Monday, Jake Zimmerman, the Democratic rep from Olivette in St. Louis County, spoke at the West County Dems meeting.  But he had nothing of substance to say.  He announced that to begin with.

He and Rachel Storch are heading the House DCCC, and, on the assumption that he was speaking to people who already understood the importance of getting Ds elected in this state, he spoke not about policy issues but about his new responsibility to be "a cynic", to calculate coldly what moves will get the most Democrats elected to the Missouri House in 2008.

What follows is close to being a transcript of the first ten minutes of his talk, but his words and mine are so intermingled that I gave up on putting in quotation marks.

The last election showcased a grand strategic debate within the Democratic Party at the national level, and that debate is important to understand, not only for its national implications but also because the same debate is currently playing out at the state level.  

The debate involves three universes of people. The first universe is represented by Nancy Pelosi and Rahm Emanuel.  Their goal before the 2006 election was short term, to get the Democrats into the majority in the House.  The only thing we care about, they'd have said, is immediate victory, because if we control the House, we can stop the Bush agenda and change the direction of the country.

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Memo to Missouri Crotch Legislators: Make Yourselves Useful

Crossposted from Show Me Progress:

Senator Matt Bartle (R-Lee's Summit) hates, hates, hates the sex industry.  In 2004 he got legislation enacted to prevent strip clubs and businesses that sell adult sex merchandise from advertising on billboards.  Two years and many legal briefs later, the courts ruled it unconstitutional.  The businesses are legal in Missouri, the court said, so it would be illegal to discriminate against them in the billboard industry.  The state wasted mucho dollars defending that law and yet Bartle plans to rewrite the legislation in hopes of getting it by those "activist judges."  Bartle has also tried to pass legislation banning lap dances and full nudity in gentlemen's clubs, as well as legislation adding an extra tax on stores that sell adult toys.


Representative Cynthia Davis (R-O'Fallon, pictured at left) wastes her time and that of the legislators trying to give school districts the option of teaching abstinence only sex education.  Any such law would gag teachers in districts that chose abstinence only from even mentioning contraception.  Her focus, unlike Bartle's attempt to get rid of sexually suggestive billboards, is actually harmful.  Dozens of studies show that pregnancy rates are higher among students who don't have accurate information about contraception.


Jane Cunningham (R-Chesterfield, pictured at right) is working herself into a dither over teachers guilty of sexual misconduct with students.  Between 2001 and 2005, 87 licensed teachers lost their credentials in Missouri because of such behavior.  What's got Cunningham's knickers in a twist is the sort of situation involving a teacher named Greg Crowley:  he quietly resigned from the Kingston District in 2000 after allegations of sexual misconduct, and he managed to work in three more districts before losing his license.


It's not like I'm recommending that we ignore the Greg Crowleys, but it's a relatively minor problem in the big picture of state issues, a minor problem that Jane Cunningham plans to exploit to the fullest.

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Missouri Corps of Engineers: Criticism Revisited

Crossposted from Show Me Progress:

Reviews of my earlier posting lambasting the Missouri Corps of Engineers got mixed reviews.  Among the negatives was this reaction from a reader at Daily Kos:


A full tow  of river barges can carry two trainloads of grain. A train can carry 400 truckloads of grain. So for each of those barge tows you want to get rid of, you propose to replace them with 800 more trucks on our overcrowded and deteriorating highways. It's stupidity like that that gives us environmentalists a bad name- please research the consequences of your bird brained ideas before you dump them on us.

--SlyDi


Ouch!  A reply is called for.

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The Missouri Connection to California's Petition Drive

Crossposted from Show Me Progress

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).
 

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Missouri Corps of Engineers (aka Big Ag)

Crossposted from Show Me Progress

Any knowledgeable birder in St. Louis will tell you that there are no waterfowl on the Missouri River:  no ducks, no herons, no gulls.  That's because the Missouri isn't a river anymore.  The Corps of Engineers has turned it into a big ditch with a deep, fast flowing main channel.  It has no sloughs anymore, and it's not suitable for waterfowl. 


It is suitable for barge traffic.  In addition to its locks and dams, the Missouri has rock jetties that jut out into the river forcing the water to flow quickly in the deepest part of the channel.  That's good for barges.  If you've ever been down to the confluence of the two major rivers, you'll see how much more quickly than the Mississippi the Missouri moves.

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A Summary for Dummies of Missouri Health Care for the Poor

Crossposted from Show Me Progress
You say you can't keep track of all the health care plans for the poor popping up in Missouri lately?  You say that a news article about the pros and cons of them causes your eyes to cross?  You ought to be ashamed to find yourself in the lower ... what? 98 percent? ... of the citizenry.  That makes you--and me, until tonva brought me up to speed--dummies.


But now that she's educated me, I'm here to do the same for you.  Succinctly.  Before your eyes glaze over.


When it was just Medicaid, we dummies could grasp the situation.  Essentially, the state paid 40 percent of medical bills for uninsured people below a given income, and the feds paid 60 percent.  Then a couple of years ago, Republicans knocked more than 100,000 poor Missourians off the Medicaid rolls.  Ah, but they promised to come up with something better than Medicaid in a year or so.

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Missouri GOP: Chutzpah Pays

Crossposted from Show Me Progress: If there's one thing Republicans know, it's that chutzpah pays.  I swear to god, they're missing the embarrassment gene.  The most recent example is their attack on the Missouri Ethics Commission for failing to have a public discussion before ruling that candidates should return their over-the-limit campaign contributions unless they can prove that doing so would be a hardship.


"THE COMMISSION VIOLATED THE STATE'S SUNSHINE LAW!" Republicans screeched in voices that rose to a range above the hearing of bats, frothing and flailing at the injustice of it all--this just a couple of days after the governor's office blithely defended deleting thousands of e-mails as a matter of course.  The Sunshine Law they're so eager to pounce on forbids doing that, and they know it too, because Matt Blunt signed the requirement into law.

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Where Missouri Legislators Stand on CAFOs

Crossposted from Show Me Progress

On few issues is the line dividing Democrats from Republicans 100 percent pure and obvious, and the CAFO issue is not one of them. 


Democrats don't always behave as I would have them do.  Democratic Rep. Ike Skelton (pictured), for example, is sponsoring House legislation (a companion bill to one being offered by Kit Bond) to have CAFO (Contained Animal Feeding Operation) waste declared non-toxic.  Such a law would effectively remove CAFOs from EPA oversight.


To pretend that animal waste in those concentrations isn't toxic is horse hockey.  McDonald County, in the very southwest corner of the state, is dotted with CAFOs, and every water body in that county is on the impaired water bodies list.

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