Thursday, January 31, 2008

Romney stiffs Southwest Missouri

Mitt Romney will not bring his presidential campaign to either Joplin or Springfield as had been promised earlier this week:

But state Sen. Gary Nodler of Joplin said scheduling became difficult.

Nodler said he is hearing that Romney will campaign Saturday in St. Louis and then go to Nashville.

This one was the best debate yet

The pundits probably hated it, but tonight's Democratic debate was the best debate we have seen thus far in the 2008 election cycle.
It was civilized, substantive issues were discussed, and for the most part, the reporters stayed out of the way and let the candidates have the spotlight, even though it appeared that the reporter from made more plugs for the website than moderator Wolf Blitzer made for CNN.
Immigration, health care, the war in Iraq, it was all about the issues and the viewers were treated to an absorbing discussion.
As for the winner of the debate: I would have to say the viewing audience. That being said, Obama had a smooth, polished performance and had a winning line during the Iraq portion of the debate when he contrasted Mrs. Clinton's continuing claim that she is the best candidate to run the country from day one, by noting that Americans want someone who can "get it right" on day one.
Hillary Clinton came across as tough, but at the same time displayed a winning personality that has been noticeably absent from some of the earlier debates.

Obama, Clinton take shots at Romney, CEO type of president

"The United States government is much more than a business- it is a trust," Hillary Clinton said, debunking Mitt Romney's contention that the president should serve more like a CEO.
Mrs. Clinton noted that the current president also was promoted as a CEO and look how that turned out.
Obama quesioned the return Romney has received on his investment, referring to the millions of dollars the former Massachusetts governor has sunk into his own campaign, and has left him still in second place, looking up at John McCain.

Lembke, Ruestman lead battle against human/animal hybrids

No one ever tells me about these things.
Rep. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis, introduced a bill today that would make it a crime to create "mixed human/animal individuals." Recognizing an immediate problem that threatens life the way we know it, naturally Rep. Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, is one of HB 1953's 11 co-sponsors.
The bill includes the following:

Section A. Chapter 565, RSMo, is amended by adding thereto one new section, to be known as section 565.325, to read as follows:

565.325. 1. As used in this section, the following terms mean:

(1) "Human chimera", any of the following:

(a) A human embryo into which a nonhuman cell or cells, or the component parts thereof, have been introduced that render its membership in the species homo sapiens uncertain through germline or other changes;

(b) A hybrid human/animal embryo produced by fertilizing a human egg with a nonhuman sperm;

(c) A hybrid human/animal embryo produced by fertilizing a nonhuman egg with human sperm;

(d) An embryo produced by introducing a nonhuman cell nucleus into a human egg;

(e) An embryo produced by introducing a human nucleus into a nonhuman egg;

(f) An embryo containing haploid sets of chromosomes from both a human and a nonhuman life form;

(g) A nonhuman life form engineered such that human gametes develop within the body of a nonhuman life form; or

(h) A nonhuman life form engineered such that it contains a human brain or a brain derived wholly or predominantly from human neural tissues;

(2) "Human embryo", an organism of the species homo sapiens during the early stages of development, from one cell forward.

2. No person shall knowingly perform any of the following acts:

(1) Create or attempt to create a human chimera;

(2) Transfer or attempt to transfer a human embryo into a nonhuman womb;

(3) Transfer or attempt to transfer a nonhuman embryo into a human womb; or

(4) Transport or receive for any purpose a human chimera.

3. Any person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a class D felony. Any person who violates the provisions of this section and derives pecuniary gain from such violation shall be subject to a civil fine of the greater of one million dollars or an amount equal to three times the amount of the gross gain resulting from such violation.


Is this really the kind of pressing issue that our House of Representatives needs to be addressing?

Obama suggests openness in devising health care plan

Barack Obama says he would have discussions to devise a health care plan broadcast live on CSPAN so that those who are "making profits on the backs of senior citizens" can make those arguments in front of the public.
As moderator Wolf Blitzer noted, that appeared to be knock against Hillary Clinton, who held meetings behind closed doors to come up with a health care plan during the early days of her husband's administration.

More differences between Obama, Clinton

Barack Obama hit Mrs. Clinton (politely this time) as he was noticing differences between his policies and hers, noting that he does not accept lobbyists' money and that he, unlike Mrs. Clinton, was opposed to the war in Iraq from the beginning.

And the second question from a reporter from, asking Obama to explain why his health care proposal is better than Mrs. Clinton's is continuing along the same vein, asking meaningful questions.

It will be interesting to see how the ratings turn out for this debate. Last night's Republican debates were the most watched in cable television history, drawing more than four million viewers.

Clinton: Our biggest differences are with the Republicans

"The differences between Barack and I pale beside the differences we have with Republicans," Hillary Clinton said after Los Angeles Times political reporter Doyle McManis asked her about differences between her and Barack Obama.
It appears the tone of tonight's debate is going to be far different than the last Democratic debate in which Obama and Mrs. Clinton were rude to each other the entire evening, while Edwards came across as the one who was most concerned with the issues, not that it did him any good in the end.
Mrs. Clinton and Obama calmly discussed their health care policy differences.
If McManis' first question is indicative of the type of questions that are going to be asked in this debate, the viewers may actually get a chance to see a substantive debate rather than a barroom brawl.

Obama's opening statement: He and Hillary will remain friends

It has been hard to tell it for the last few weeks, but in his opening statement in tonight's Democratic presidential debate on CNN, Sen. Barack Obama said he and his rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, are friends, have been friends, and will be friends when the race is over.
Obama also complimented former Sen. John Edwards, who dropped out of the race Wednesday.
Hillary Clinton hit the same notes saying that she believed the audience was looking at the next president and that "either Barack or I" will raise his or her hand to take the oath of office.
She also thanked John and Elizabeth Edwards.
The return of opening statements to a debate, rather than opening with some journalist trying to trap a politician on something rather than the issues, is a welcome approach.

Former Greenfield Vedette publisher dead at 64

Larry Brownlee, 64, former publisher of numerous Missouri newspapers, including the Greenfield Vedette, died Jan. 6, according to an item in this month's Missouri Press News.

Cooper begins serving sentence

The Cape Girardeau Southeast Missourian reports former Rep. Nathan Cooper, R-Cape Girardeau has begun serving his sentence after pleading guilty to immigration fraud charges:

The former lawmaker is confined to the minimum-security camp adjacent to the main prison in keeping with his request when sentenced in December. Under federal law, Cooper could receive up to 54 days off for good behavior for every year he is in prison, meaning he could be released in as little as 13 months.

Newton County Republicans stand up to Blunt

The inside story of how Jacob Skouby became Newton County prosecuting attorney is a case of political courage at the local level.
Newton County political sources told The Turner Report a tale that shows that Matt Blunt is continuing to employ the play-for-pay method of making political appointments, even during the waning months of his only term as governor.
After Prosecuting Attorney Scott Watson opted to resign and take a position with St. John's Regional Medical Center, the Newton County Republican Central Committee refused to back down to Gov. Matt Blunt's demand that it help him pay back one of his major contributors by nominating the man's daughter to replace Watson.
The attempt to install attorney Anne Wells, daughter of Moark bigwig Jerry Wells, into the prosecuting attorney's office was first noted by Fired Up Missouri blogger Howard Beale in a Jan. 8 post, which was quickly brushed aside when Skouby's appointment was announced.
Beale had it right on the money...and that is exactly the way to phrase it. Beale wrote:

Insiders familiar with the situation believe the appointment will go to Anne Wells. Why? Why else: because she, her family and their business have a long history of giving cash to Matt Blunt in large quantities.

­ In fact, since 2003, Anne Wells has given no less than $29,750 to Missourians for Matt Blunt. Most notably, Wells gave Blunt a massive $25,000 check in June 2007. This in addition to checks of $1,200 in 2005, $1,200 in 2004, and $2,350 in 2003 ($1,175 came from her law firm) which means Blunt is into Wells for nearly thirty large.
And this barely scratches the surface, as it doesn't include the tens of thousands given to Blunt by Wells/ father, Jerry Wells, both personally and through MOARK, at which he is an executive.

When Blunt asked the Newton County Republican Central Committee to recommend possible replacements for Watson, the governor let it be known that he wanted Ms. Wells' name to be on that list.

In an act of political courage, especially considering how brutally the Blunt administration has dealt with Republicans who get in its way (see Scott Eckersley), the committee, rightly ascertaining that no one else would receive any consideration on a list that included Ms. Wells' name, refused to nominate her, instead submitting the names of Skouby and longtime Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Bill Dobbs. Committee members also made it understood that their preference was for Dobbs, who not only has been an efficient prosecutor, but also has been a heavy lifter for the Newton County Republican Party.

Blunt, irritated by the committee's action, reportedly considered appointing Ms. Wells anyway, but instead opted to punish the committee by not going along with its recommendation, and appointing Skouby rather than Dobbs.

Though it was an undeserved blow for Dobbs, who has worked hard for the position, Newton County Republicans attempted to make sure by submitting Skouby's name that they would have a qualified prosecuting attorney rather than someone who bought the office with campaign contributions.


Find out the scoop on Missouri politics in The Turner Report book, available at


The Turner Report will live blog the Democratic debate tonight.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Huckabee coming to Springfield

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee will hold a rally 4 p.m. Friday at the Springfield/Branson National Airport:

Sinquefield: Blunt announcement took me by surprise

Retired billionaire Rex Sinquefield, who has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for candidate who favor his pro-educational voucher beliefs, especially Gov. Matt Blunt, told Columbia Tribune political reporter Jason Rosenbaum he was caught off guard by Blunt's decision not to seek a second term:

Now, Sinquefield said that he’ll have to have conversations with the candidates for governor before he makes a decision on who to back. Sinquefield gave $100,000 directly to Blunt’s campaign last year and provided tens of thousands of dollars in financial support through a series of political action committees. He said it is completely up to Blunt's campaign about refunding the cash given through his PACs.

“I think they’re all good,” Sinquefield said of the candidates. “I can’t get specific because I haven’t sat down with any of them since the decision Gov. Blunt made. So I really need to talk to them and find out where they are.”

Sinquefield said one candidate has contacted him about starting such a conversation. He wouldn’t, however, reveal whether it was Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, state Treasurer Sarah Steelman or U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof, R-Columbia.

The hard-working Rosenbaum also confirmed that Sen. Charlie Shields and Secretary of State Robin Carnahan will not run for governor.

Cunningham proposes bill requiring steroid tests for high school athletes

Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, filed a bill today that would require all schools to require drug testing, including tests for steroids, for all student athletes in Missouri public schools.
HB 1913, which has Rep. Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, among its three sponsors, says, "The board of education of any school district shall adopt a policy, pursuant to rules and regulations adopted by the department of elementary and secondary education, for the random testing of the district's students in grades nine to twelve who participate in interscholastic athletics for the unlawful use of controlled substances..."
Students who fail the tests would not be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities for the remainder of the academic year and the next year, according to the bill.

Find out the scoop on Missouri politics in The Turner Report book, available at

Huckabee shines during concluding moments of debate

Mike Huckabee was given more time in the waning moments of tonight's debate from the Reagan Library and he blew away his opponents.
The final question posed by moderator Anderson Cooper asked the four remaining GOP candidates if Ronald Reagan would have supported their candidacies.
Mitt Romney, never one for modesty, said Reagan would have supported him.
John McCain, never missing an opportunity to get in a dig at Romney, said Reagan would never have supported someone who changed their views at the drop of a hat.
Ron Paul said Reagan told him he supported a return to the gold standard, something Paul also supports.
Huckabee, the final candidate to speak, said it would be "presumptous" to say Reagan would have supported him, but Huckabee said he wanted to make it clear he supported Reagan, then closed the debate with a stirring recitation of Reagan's belief in the goodness and greatness of America.
For a candidate with little or mo cash on hand, Huckabee continues to know how to get the most out of his free media opportunities.
Now, I will sit back and listen to the pundits exclusively devote their discussion to the testy exchanges between McCain and Romney.

Former Bank of America vice president fined $1.2 million plus

Former Bank of America Vice President Robert Conner will have to pay dearly for the bank and credit card fraud scheme that appears likely to send him to prison.
Conner, whose sentencing on 17 counts of bank fraud and 19 counts of unauthorized use of an access device is scheduled for 11 a.m. Feb. 20, was fined $1,213,970.58, according to an order filed today in U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. He also will have to forfeit his 2006 GMC Yukon XL.
Conner was the ringleader in the scheme, which also resulted in a guilty plea last month from Rep. John Bowman, D-St. Louis, on a misdemeanor bribery charge.


Find out the scoop on Missouri politics in The Turner Report book, available at


The Turner Report will live blog the Democratic debate tonight.

Cooper pays $50,000 fine

Prison-bound former Rep. Nathan Cooper, R-Cape Girardeau, has one less worry.
Documents filed today in U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri indicate Cooper has paid his $50,000 fine.
Today's documents said the fine was satisfied. The check was received by the court Jan. 15, according to court records.
Cooper pleaded guilty to immigration fraud charges and was sentenced to 15 months of prison, less than half of what the federal government had requested.


Find out the scoop on Missouri politics in The Turner Report book, available at


The Turner Report will live blog the Democratic debate tonight.

Huckabee making the most of his brief moments

Mike Huckabee has returned to the successful style of the early presidential debates and is making the most of the brief moments Anderson Cooper and CNN have given him in the debate.
Unbelievably, it appears CNN is about to ask Huckabee another question.

McCain to Romney: Your negative ads have set the tone for this campaign

Continuing on the attack despite facing a seemingly pro-Romney audience at the Reagan Library, John McCain told Mitt Romney, "Your negative ads, unforuntately, have set the tone for this campaign."
Congressman Ron Paul is speaking now...the first time CNN has allowed anyone other than McCain or Romney to speak for quite a while.
I might add, it appears Ron Paul has his supporters at the Reagan Library, also.

McCain, Romney attacking each other

The verbal sparring between John McCain and Mitt Romney has begun with McCain attacking Romney's lack of support for the surge and Romney claiming McCain is misquoting him and distorting his record.
Romney has never been particularly good when he is under the gun and McCain appears to be enjoying this greatly. As usual, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul have been pushed to the sidelines.

GOP candidates split on Reagan choice of Sandra Day O'Conner

President Ronald Reagan made history by naming Sandra Day O'Conner as the first female Supreme Court justice, but two of the four remaining GOP presidential candidates said a few moments ago they would not have made the same selection.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas indicated they would not have made the same selection. Romney said he preferred justices like Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas, while Paul opted for strict constructionists.
With Reagan's widow, Nancy Reagan, in the audience, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, neatly sidestepped the question while Arizona Sen. John McCain alone backed O'Conner, who is also from Arizona.

Schwarzenegger to endorse McCain

The Los Angeles Times reports California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will endorse John McCain Thursday:

The California governor just told CNN he had nothing to say on the subject "today." But The Times' Evan Halper and Mark Z. Barabak have learned that an event is planned tomorrow when the Arizona senator will be endorsed by the California governor. Only recently Schwarzenegger had said he would stay out of the endorsement business until after the GOP primary season. That was out of deference to friends in the race.

But McCain's victories in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, and Rudy Giuliani's withdrawal today changed the circumstances, according to the governor.

"Both guys have been very close friends of mine," Schwarzennegger told The Times' Seema Mehta this afternoon.

Transcript of Edwards withdrawal speech provided

Thank you all very much. We're very proud to be back here.

During the spring of 2006, I had the extraordinary experience of bringing 700 college kids here to New Orleans to work. These are kids who gave up their spring break to come to New Orleans to work, to rehabilitate houses, because of their commitment as Americans, because they believed in what was possible, and because they cared about their country.

I began my presidential campaign here to remind the country that we, as citizens and as a government, have a moral responsibility to each other, and what we do together matters. We must do better, if we want to live up to the great promise of this country that we all love so much.

It is appropriate that I come here today. It's time for me to step aside so that history can blaze its path. We do not know who will take the final steps to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but what we do know is that our Democratic Party will make history. We will be strong, we will be unified, and with our convictions and a little backbone we will take back the White House in November and we'll create hope and opportunity for this country.

This journey of ours began right here in New Orleans. It was a December morning in the Lower Ninth Ward when people went to work, not just me, but lots of others went to work with shovels and hammers to help restore a house that had been destroyed by the storm.

We joined together in a city that had been abandoned by our government and had been forgotten, but not by us. We knew that they still mourned the dead, that they were still stunned by the destruction, and that they wondered when all those cement steps in all those vacant lots would once again lead to a door, to a home, and to a dream.

We came here to the Lower Ninth Ward to rebuild. And we're going to rebuild today and work today, and we will continue to come back. We will never forget the heartache and we'll always be here to bring them hope, so that someday, one day, the trumpets will sound in Musicians' Village, where we are today, play loud across Lake Ponchartrain, so that working people can come marching in and those steps once again can lead to a family living out the dream in America.

We sat with poultry workers in Mississippi, janitors in Florida, nurses in California.

We listened as child after child told us about their worry about whether we would preserve the planet.

We listened to worker after worker say "the economy is tearing my family apart."

We walked the streets of Cleveland, where house after house was in foreclosure.

And we said, "We're better than this. And economic justice in America is our cause."

And we spent a day, a summer day, in Wise, Virginia, with a man named James Lowe, who told us the story of having been born with a cleft palate. He had no health care coverage. His family couldn't afford to fix it. And finally some good Samaritan came along and paid for his cleft palate to be fixed, which allowed him to speak for the first time. But they did it when he was 50 years old. His amazing story, though, gave this campaign voice: universal health care for every man, woman and child in America. That is our cause.

And we do this -- we do this for each other in America. We don't turn away from a neighbor in their time of need. Because every one of us knows that what -- but for the grace of God, there goes us. The American people have never stopped doing this, even when their government walked away, and walked away it has from hardworking people, and, yes, from the poor, those who live in poverty in this country.

For decades, we stopped focusing on those struggles. They didn't register in political polls, they didn't get us votes and so we stopped talking about it. I don't know how it started. I don't know when our party began to turn away from the cause of working people, from the fathers who were working three jobs literally just to pay the rent, mothers sending their kids to bed wrapped up in their clothes and in coats because they couldn't afford to pay for heat.

We know that our brothers and sisters have been bullied into believing that they can't organize and can't put a union in the workplace. Well, in this campaign, we didn't turn our heads. We looked them square in the eye and we said, "We see you, we hear you, and we are with you. And we will never forget you." And I have a feeling that if the leaders of our great Democratic Party continue to hear the voices of working people, a proud progressive will occupy the White House.

Now, I've spoken to both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. They have both pledged to me and more importantly through me to America, that they will make ending poverty central to their campaign for the presidency.

And more importantly, they have pledged to me that as President of the United States they will make ending poverty and economic inequality central to their Presidency. This is the cause of my life and I now have their commitment to engage in this cause.

And I want to say to everyone here, on the way here today, we passed under a bridge that carried the interstate where 100 to 200 homeless Americans sleep every night. And we stopped, we got out, we went in and spoke to them.

There was a minister there who comes every morning and feeds the homeless out of her own pocket. She said she has no money left in her bank account, she struggles to be able to do it, but she knows it's the moral, just and right thing to do. And I spoke to some of the people who were there and as I was leaving, one woman said to me, "You won't forget us, will you? Promise me you won't forget us." Well, I say to her and I say to all of those who are struggling in this country, we will never forget you. We will fight for you. We will stand up for you.

But I want to say this -- I want to say this because it's important. With all of the injustice that we've seen, I can say this, America's hour of transformation is upon us. It may be hard to believe when we have bullets flying in Baghdad and it may be hard to believe when it costs $58 to fill your car up with gas. It may be hard to believe when your school doesn't have the right books for your kids. It's hard to speak out for change when you feel like your voice is not being heard.

But I do hear it. We hear it. This Democratic Party hears you. We hear you, once again. And we will lift you up with our dream of what's possible.

One America, one America that works for everybody.

One America where struggling towns and factories come back to life because we finally transformed our economy by ending our dependence on oil.

One America where the men who work the late shift and the women who get up at dawn to drive a two-hour commute and the young person who closes the store to save for college. They will be honored for that work.

One America where no child will go to bed hungry because we will finally end the moral shame of 37 million people living in poverty.

One America where every single man, woman and child in this country has health care.

One America with one public school system that works for all of our children.

One America that finally brings this war in Iraq to an end. And brings our service members home with the hero's welcome that they have earned and that they deserve.

Today, I am suspending my campaign for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency.

But I want to say this to everyone: with Elizabeth, with my family, with my friends, with all of you and all of your support, this son of a millworker's gonna be just fine. Our job now is to make certain that America will be fine.

And I want to thank everyone who has worked so hard – all those who have volunteered, my dedicated campaign staff who have worked absolutely tirelessly in this campaign.

And I want to say a personal word to those I've seen literally in the last few days – those I saw in Oklahoma yesterday, in Missouri, last night in Minnesota – who came to me and said don't forget us. Speak for us. We need your voice. I want you to know that you almost changed my mind, because I hear your voice, I feel you, and your cause is our cause. Your country needs you – every single one of you.

All of you who have been involved in this campaign and this movement for change and this cause, we need you. It is in our hour of need that your country needs you. Don't turn away, because we have not just a city of New Orleans to rebuild. We have an American house to rebuild.

This work goes on. It goes on right here in Musicians' Village. There are homes to build here, and in neighborhoods all along the Gulf. The work goes on for the students in crumbling schools just yearning for a chance to get ahead. It goes on for day care workers, for steel workers risking their lives in cities all across this country. And the work goes on for two hundred thousand men and women who wore the uniform of the United States of America, proud veterans, who go to sleep every night under bridges, or in shelters, or on grates, just as the people we saw on the way here today. Their cause is our cause.

Their struggle is our struggle. Their dreams are our dreams.

Do not turn away from these great struggles before us. Do not give up on the causes that we have fought for. Do not walk away from what's possible, because it's time for all of us, all of us together, to make the two Americas one.

Thank you. God bless you, and let's go to work. Thank you all very much.

Rod Smith endorses Obama

Denver Broncos wide receiver and former Missouri Southern standout Rod Smith has endorsed Barack Obama's presidential candidacy:

Bronco great and future hall-of-famer Rod Smith has endorsed Barrack Obama for President at Denver University rally for the Illinois Senator.
Mayor John Hickenlooper joined Smith at the rally.

Smith, who had previously not been politically active, took the stage. "Something has to change, something's gotta change. I have to go, I have to be a part of it," said Smith.

"I think we have the right person who can make that change for us."

Edwards drops out

Monday's campaign stop in Springfield turned out to be just about the last one for John Edwards, and that is a shame.
Published reports indicate Edwards will close shop on his presidential candidacy this afternoon.

With his departure, Democrats are left with either Barack Obama's politics of hope or Hillary Clinton's politics of pandering and pessimism.

Undeniably, the Obama candidacy cost Edwards a genuine shot at the presidency. The plan was to eliminate the competition and set up a one-on-one between Edwards and Mrs. Clinton. Obama's success doomed that plan.

Hopefully, either Mrs. Clinton or Obama will become that voice for the poor and the working class that Edwards has been throughout his campaign.

It would also be nice if someone, most likely Obama, continued Edwards' fight against the lobbyists and special interests who have set the agenda for our nation for far too long.

(AP Photo)

Transcript provided for McCain Florida victory speech

Thank you. Thank you, Florida Republicans, for bringing a former Florida resident across the finish line first in -- as I have been repeatedly reminded lately -- an all Republican primary. I have always loved this beautiful state, from the time I was a young naval aviator learning my trade in Pensacola to the time I commanded the largest air squadron in the United States Navy at Cecil Field. Most of all, I have always been indebted to Florida friends and neighbors in Orange Park for taking such good care of my family while I was away on a longer than expected tour of duty. Florida has always been a special place to me, and it is all the more so tonight. Our victory might not have reached landslide proportions, but it is sweet nonetheless. And I am deeply grateful to everyone who worked so hard to make it happen.

Time will only allow me to thank a few of our Florida supporters by name, but to everyone who, in good times and bad, devoted so much time, energy and hope to keeping our candidacy competitive, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Thank you, of course, to the great governor of Florida, Charlie Crist; to my dear friend, Senator Mel Martinez; to Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; Congressmen Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart; Representative Marcelo Llorente; Commissioner Mildred Fernandez; Representative Adam Hasner; Senator Durell Peaden; Representative Bogdanoff and Council President Durell Davis. And thank you so much to our tremendous statewide volunteer leadership who stuck with us for eighteen long, very long months.

And as always, I want to thank my family for their extraordinary support and encouragement: my wife Cindy, daughter Meghan and son, Doug, who are here, and my children who are not here. It is obvious to me, as it should be to everyone, that I could not have done this without you.

This was a hard fought election, and worth fighting hard for, but I've been on the other side of such contests before, and experienced the disappointment. I offer my best wishes to Governor Romney and his supporters. You fought hard for your candidate, and the margin that separated us tonight surely isn't big enough for me to brag about or for you to despair. Governor Huckabee and his supporters, as always, brought to this campaign conviction and passion and something we don't always have enough of in these contests, good humor and grace. And I want to thank, my dear friend, Rudy Giuliani, who invested his heart and soul in this primary, and who conducted himself with all the qualities of the exceptional American leader he truly is. Thank you, for all you have added to this race, and for being an inspiration to me and millions of Americans.

My friends, in one week we will have as close to a national primary as we have ever had in this country. I intend to win it, and be the nominee of our party. And I intend to do that by making it clear what I stand for. I stand for the principles and policies that first attracted me to the Republican Party when I heard, in whispered conversations and tap codes, about the then Governor of California, who stood by me and my comrades, and who was making quite a reputation for standing by his convictions no matter the changing winds of political thought and popular culture. When I left the Navy and entered public life, I enlisted as a foot soldier in the political revolution he began. And I am as proud to be a Reagan conservative today, as I was then. I trust in the courage, good sense, resourcefulness and decency of the American people, who deserve a government that trusts in their qualities as well, and doesn't abrogate to its elf the responsibilities to do for the people what the people can and want to do for themselves.

We Republicans have always known that the first responsibility of government is to keep this country safe from all enemies foreign and domestic, and the American people unburdened by the heavy hand of government that spends too much of their money on things they neither want nor need, while failing to do as well as we should the things none of us can do individually. Government must defend our nation's security wisely and effectively, because the cost of our defense is so dear to us, measured in losses so hard to bear, and in the heartbreak of so many families. Government must respect our values because they are the true source of our strength; and enforce the rule, which distinguishes successful democracies from failed societies, and is the first defense of freedom. And the judges we appoint to federal benches must understand that is their only responsibility, and leave to elected officials their responsibility to make the laws that they enforce. We believe government should do only those things we cannot do individually, to tax us no more than necessary, and spend no more than necessary, and then get out of the way of the most industrious, ingenious and optimistic people in the history of the world so that they can build an even greater country than the one they inherited.

My friends, as I said the other week in South Carolina, there is nothing in our country that is inevitable. We can overcome any challenge as long as we keep our courage, and stand by the principles that have made our party and our country great. Our party has always been successful when we have, like Ronald Reagan, stood fast by our convictions. And we have only suffered when our allegiance to our principles has not been as steadfast as it should. I intend to make my stand on those principles, and I am confident we will succeed in this contest and in the bigger one in November against anyone the Democratic Party nominates.

Most importantly, I promise you again, I will always put America -- her strength, her ideals, her future -- before every other consideration.

Tonight, my friends, we celebrate. Tomorrow it's back to work. We have a ways to go, but we are getting close, and for that you all have my profound thanks. Goodnight and God bless you.

Huckabee: Missouri is a must-win state

The success of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's longshot presidential candidacy depends on Missouri's vote, he said Tuesday:

With 58 delegates at stake, Missouri is the third biggest prize for Republicans on Super Tuesday behind California and New York. Adding to Missouri's clout is the fact that Republicans use a winner-take-all approach in the state, as opposed to allotting delegates based on congressional districts or a proportion of the total vote. New York uses a similar approach, but California does not.

"Next week, with the Southern states and many of the Midwest states that are in play, we have an opportunity to truly be on our way toward the nomination and White House," Huckabee told about 200 people at a capital city campaign stop. "But let me be very clear, we need Missouri to do it."

Live blogging planned for Republican debate tonight

I plan to live blog tonight's Republican Presidential Debate. The field is down to four candidates now, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Ron Paul. This will be the first debate since Rudy Giuliani's departure from the race. Giuliani is expected to drop out of the race today and endorse McCain's candidacy.

President Truman's daughter dead at 83; wasn't thrilled with 1944 visit to Lamar

Margaret Truman Daniel, the daughter of Lamar's most famous native son, President Harry S Truman, died Tuesday in Chicago at 83.
Mrs. Daniel, achieved fame in her own right as a the author a series of mystery novels:

Most Americans first knew Margaret Truman as the young woman with blue-green eyes, ash-blond hair and dimpled cheeks who was the only child of the somewhat obscure vice president from Missouri who had ascended to the presidency on the sudden death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt on April 12, 1945, as World War II neared its end.

Before long, they were following her career as the aspiring singer whose doting father sprang to her defense with a memorably scorching letter to a Washington music critic who had had the temerity to belittle her talent.

In time there was her headline-making marriage to a dashing newspaperman, Clifton Daniel, who eventually became the managing editor of The New York Times, and the birth of their four sons.

As the decades passed, Americans by the hundreds of thousands knew Mrs. Daniel, too, as Margaret Truman, the author of 32 books, including biographies of both her parents and 23 mystery novels in her popular “Capital Crime Series,” all set in and around Washington.

The confrontation that in retrospect became the climax of Mrs. Daniel’s singing career took place in December 1950. She had been singing professionally since March 16, 1947, when she made her debut as a coloratura with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in a radio broadcast that drew an audience estimated at 15 million and, afterward, mixed reviews from the critics.

Later that year, in her first appearance on a concert stage, she sang before a huge audience — estimates range from 15,000 to 20,000 people — at the Hollywood Bowl, accompanied by the 90-piece Hollywood Bowl Symphony, led by her favorite conductor, Eugene Ormandy. In the next few years she sang in more than 30 cities, appeared at Carnegie Hall and signed an exclusive contract with RCA Victor Red Seal Records.

And so she came to Constitution Hall in Washington.

“Because of my father, I was more easily able to obtain important engagements,” she wrote in her book “Letters From Father: The Truman Family’s Personal Correspondence” (Arbor House. 1981). “But I also received more attention by first-string critics and more demanding audiences, who felt that because my father was the president, I had to be not better than average, but better than the best in order to justify my appearing on the stage.”

Mrs. Daniel thought her performance at Constitution Hall to be one of her better ones. But Paul Hume, the music critic of The Washington Post, while praising her personality, wrote that “she cannot sing very well.”

“She is flat a good deal of the time,” Mr. Hume added, concluding that she had no “professional finish.”

Incensed, President Truman dispatched a combative note to Mr. Hume, who released it to the press.

“I have just read your lousy review,” it said, adding, “I have never met you, but if I do, you’ll need a new nose.”

In the ensuing uproar, reporters pressed Mrs. Daniel for her reaction to her father’s letter. “I’m glad to see that chivalry is not dead,” she told them.

Mrs. Daniel did not have much of an affinity for Lamar, according to Chad Stebbins' biography of longtime Lamar Democrat publisher Arthur Aull, All the News is Fit to Print

When Truman accepted his vice presidential nomination in Lamar on Aug. 31, 1944, Mrs. Daniel was not impressed with the city. "The senator's daughter recalled in 1973 that the event was too much for a town the size of Lamar to handle. "Toilet facilities and the sewage system broke down," she wrote. "The parking field was turned into a huge mudhole by the heavy rainstorm the previous day." Aull, however, reported that the entire Truman Day went off without a hitch. "The day was made to order and everything moved merrily as a wedding bell," he wrote.

A bit late, but Globe article notes venue change requests by men charged with Rowan Ford's murder

The article is a bit late, but the motions filed by the two men charged with killing nine-year-old Rowan Ford of Stella, her stepfather David Wesley Spears, 25, and Chris Collings, 32, for a change of venue, are noted in today's edition:

Michael King, a Carthage-based public defender representing David Spears, 25, said he requested a change of venue last week because of the “extreme publicity” generated by the case. Spears is charged in Barry County with first-degree murder, forcible rape and statutory rape in connection with the death of his stepdaughter, Rowan Ford.

The motion calls for the case to be tried in a different county or for jurors from outside Barry County to be imported to hear the case, King said.

Chris Collings, 32, of Wheaton, faces the same three charges. Collings’ attorney, Clate Baker, a public defender from Monett, also has requested a change of venue for his client.

Both men were bound over to Barry County Circuit Court for trial after waiving their preliminary hearings within the past two months. Bond amounts have not been set for either man, King said.

Investigators believe Rowan was abducted early Nov. 3 from her home in Stella in Newton County, murdered in Barry County, and her body disposed of in McDonald County. The body was found in a sinkhole after a nearly weeklong search by authorities and volunteers.

Edwards outlines campaign strategy

In an article datelined Springfield, today's Los Angeles Times outlines John Edwards strategy and reasons for remaining in the presidential race:

In the Edwards campaign's scenario, neither Clinton nor Obama will have enough delegates to win the nomination outright at this summer's Democratic National Convention.

That will leave an opening for Edwards to appeal to Democratic delegates. Although some analysts speculate otherwise, the candidate insists he is not trying to play broker or force other candidates to hew to his views. He says he has not given up on the ultimate prize -- the presidency.

Veteran Democratic consultant Bill Carrick said Tuesday that it's "hard to imagine" Edwards passing Obama and Clinton to win the nomination. But, Carrick said, conclusions are difficult to draw because there is no recent precedent for this year's seesaw battle.

The ability to raise money on the Internet can help sustain campaigns that might have stalled in the past, and Edwards' campaign reported bringing in more than $3.2 million since the start of the year, money that it plans to use to place ads in 10 states.

"I strongly believe no one gives up a presidential campaign; they just run out of money," said Carrick, who helped run Rep. Richard A. Gephardt's 1988 presidential campaign.

Because delegates can be won in each congressional district without winning an entire state, Carrick said, Edwards has a chance to "have some real influence on the convention."

The pundits keep on dismissing John Edwards on the Democratic side and Mike Huckabee on the Republican side, but there is no reason (other than to make these self-styled experts feel good) to drop out of the race. In the past, when the race was winnowed down to two, there was no possible scenario through which the second ranked candidate was going to emerge the winner, but with three candidates remaining viable in each party (and Ron Paul continuing to make mischief on the Republican side), there is no certainty to the outcome of the 2008 presidential campaigns.

Washington Post: McCain nomination may be inevitable

In an analysis in today's edition, Washington Post reporter Dan Balz says the nomination of Sen. John McCain may be inevitable:

Strategists noted that Romney's tenacity and ability to write a check from his personal fortune to keep his campaign going make him a formidable opponent, but the landscape appears stacked against him -- beginning with the aftershocks from Tuesday's results.

Romney will probably receive support from parts of the party's conservative base, which has never warmed to McCain and now has perhaps one final chance to stop him. But McCain will benefit from other developments in Florida.

Tuesday's primary eliminated from serious contention former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who stunned his rivals by winning the Iowa caucuses 26 days ago, and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, long the national front-runner until he dramatically faded over the past two months.

Giuliani is set to quit the race and endorse McCain before Wednesday's debate at the Ronald Reagan presidential library in California. Huckabee said he will remain in, and by doing so will help McCain by frustrating Romney's efforts to attract more of the conservative votes he needs to overtake the front-runner.

Post article examines collapse of Giuliani candidacy

An article in today's New York Post examines the collapse of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's presidential candidacy. Giuliani, of course, went from leading in all of the polls to finishing a distant third place in the primary that was supposed to send him on the way to the White House:

After nearly a full year of leading in the polls and dodging early fumbles, his image of electability sank as his poll numbers tumbled.

He faced mountains of negative stories about disgraced ally Bernie Kerik, and spent two weeks punching at shadows over reports alleging that, while mayor, he deliberately hid security expenses related to his then-mistress.

His campaign never got its arms around the story, and it took a visible toll on Giuliani - who then wasted another week dodging questions about a health scare aboard his campaign plane.

When voter concerns shifted from the war to the faltering economy, Giuliani's rationale faded. His bogeyman, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, lost her aura of inevitability.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

KY3 Notebook: Scott considering statewide run

Dave Catanese at KY3 Political Notebook writes Sen. Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City, is considering a run for secretary of state:

"I'm not sure the shake-up is complete," Sen. Scott said Tuesday. "I'm waiting to see who all gets in, and then I'll look at what's open and interesting. I'm not sure of all of the statewide office that are open and will be open," Scott said. "There may be some other statewide offices that could come open."

Scott is referring to the Secretary of State's office. With Robin Carnahan's recent comments about a possible run for Governor, Scott said he is keeping his options open to see if she makes the jump.

"We're just looking at what's out there, and we'll see what would be a good fit. It's an interesting time," said the Lowry City Senator.

Jetton says no to race for governor

Speaker of the House Rod Jetton will not add his name to the already crowded race for the Republican nomination for governor:

Jetton says he came very close to entering the race. He says he talked with his family at length over the weekend and had gotten the go-ahead from both his wife and his children.

Jetton says he has been personally torn by the race. He is friends with both Hulshof and Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, who announced earlier he is a candidate for governor. All three grew up in southeast Missouri. Jetton adds that Kinder helped him when he first ran for office. He says he believes Kinder would be a good governor, but that Hulshof is the best candidate for Republicans to retain the governor's office.

State Treasurer Sarah Steelman also has declared her candidacy for governor. Still weighing their options are former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway of Warson Woods and Senate Majority Floor Leader Charlie Shields of St. Joseph.

Shields files bill to eliminate campaign contribution limits

Having been rejected once by the Missouri Supreme Court, it appears supporters of the removal of campaign contribution limits are ready to try again.
A first reading for HB 1038 offered by Sen. Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, to eliminate campaign contribution limits, was held Monday. Shields' bill contains a new wrinkle- it requires all contributions in excess of $5,000 to reported within 48 hours.
I am constantly amazed at the hypocrisy of elected officials, who always claim to follow the will of the public...unless, of course, the will of the public is at odds with their personal needs.
Missourians made it clear in the 1990s that they wanted limits. Shields and other supporters of removing those limits say they eliminate the type of money laundering committees that are formed to get around the limits.
Why not plug the loopholes and keep on plugging them as they come up and actually try to follow the law?

McCain delivering victory speech; Giuliani will endorse McCain

One of the first things John McCain noted in his Florida victory speech tonight was the fact that it came in a primary in which only registered Republicans were allowed to vote, allowing him to overcome a barrier that he was never able to surmount during his 2000 candidacy.

As McCain is speaking, NBC has put a "breaking news" message at the bottom of the screen saying it has confirmed Rudy Giuliani will end his campaign and endorse McCain tomorrow.

KODE, KSPR hit with heavy fines for NYPD Blue nude scene

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has fined hundreds of ABC stations, including KODE in Joplin and KSPR in Springfield, $27,500 each for a 2003 episode of NYPD Blue, in which a woman is shown nude in a bathroom scene. The scene is described in this portion of the FCC decision:

The complaints refer to a scene at the beginning of the program, during which a
woman and a boy, who appears to be about seven or eight years old, are involved in an incident that includes adult female nudity. As confirmed by a tape of the program provided by ABC, during the scene in question, a woman wearing a robe is shown entering a bathroom, closing the door, and then briefly looking at herself in a mirror hanging above a sink. The camera then shows her crossing the room, turning on the shower, and returning to the mirror. With her back to the camera, she removes her robe, thereby revealing the side of one of her breasts and a full view of her back. The camera shot includes a full view of her buttocks and her upper legs as she
leans across the sink to hang up her robe. The camera then tracks her, in profile, as she walks from the mirror back toward the shower. Only a small portion of the side of one of her breasts is visible. Her pubic area is not visible, but her buttocks are visible from the side.
The scene shifts to a shot of a young boy lying in bed, kicking back his bed
covers, getting up, and then walking toward the bathroom. The camera cuts back to the woman, who is now shown standing naked in front of the shower, her back to the camera. The frame consists initially of a full shot of her naked from the back, from the top of her head to her waist; the camera then pans down to a shot of her buttocks, lingers for a moment, and then pans up her back. The camera then shifts back to a shot of the boy opening the bathroom door. As he opens the door, the woman, who is now standing in front of the mirror with her back to the door, gasps, quickly turns to face the boy, and freezes momentarily. The camera initially focuses on the woman’s face but then cuts to a shot taken from behind and through her legs, which serve to frame the boy’s face as he looks at her with a somewhat startled expression. The camera then jumps to a front view of the woman’s upper torso; a full view of her breasts is obscured,
however, by a silhouette of the boy’s head and ears. After the boy backs out of the bathroom and shuts the door, the camera shows the woman facing the door, with one arm and hand covering her breasts and the other hand covering her pubic area. The scene ends with the boy’s voice, heard through the closed door, saying “sorry,” and the woman while looking embarrassed, responds, “It’s okay. No problem.” The complainants contend that such material is indecent and request that the Commission impose sanctions against the licensees responsible for broadcasting this material.

Giuliani graciously congratulates all candidates

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has just offered his congratulations to all of his fellow competitors in the Republican primary, even singling out Ron Paul for winning all of the call-in votes after each debate.

"We ran a campaign that was uplifting," Giuliani said, his use of the past tense making it obvious that he is pulling out. His "uplifting" campaign was hampered by his early decision to pull out of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.

NBC projects McCain as Florida winner

NBC News just projects John McCain as the winner of the Florida Republican primary. McCain has 36 percent of the vote to 31 percent for Mitt Romney, 15 percent for Rudy Giuliani and 13 percent for Mike Huckabee with 62 percent of the counted.

Giuliani, widely expected to exit the race and throw his support to McCain, is speaking now.

Overlooked part of baseball history, Johnson suffering from lung cancer

Odds are, you have never heard of Willard "Billy" Johnson, but the former Baxter Springs baseball standout played a huge role in major league history.
Reading about people will Billy Johnson is one of the thrills of going through former Carthage resident John Hall's regular KOM League reports. Hall was a batboy for the Carthage minor league team in the KOM League in the early 1950s, and has made a second career over the last several years of chronicling his youthful heroes and keeping the spirit of the minor leagues alive.
Today, he told his readers about Johnson, who played a secondary role in one of the great stories of baseball history. It was Johnson whom the legendary Tom Greenwade was scouting when he was distracted by another player in the same game...Mickey Mantle. Johnson later signed a minor league contract but never reached the majors.

Hall reported today that Johnson is suffering from lung cancer. Hall writes:

Over the past few years it has been a source of joy to have gotten to know Julia (Johnson's wife) and Billy. They attended a KOM League reunion in Carthage when the late Dave Newkirk convinced a number of his Air Force baseball team, from the early 1950's, to join him for that reunion. The Johnsons attended and seemed to enjoy the event. In 2005, when the Mantle book was released, the Johnsons again attended and spent three unforgettable days with former Mantle teammates from Commerce High, the Baxter Springs Whiz Kids, the Independence Yankees (KOM League) and the Joplin Miners (Western Association."

Many of the readership of these Flash Reports know Johnson and a card or letter at this time would be appreciated, I'm sure. I'm enclosing the address. The family would also appreciate your prayers. I don't have the address for offering up prayers but I'll leave that to the individual reader to figure out...just don't forget to do it.

Cards to Billy Johnson can be addressed to:

Mr. Billy Johnson
304 Poplar
Pataskala, Ohio 43062

Lobbyists bundling big bucks for McCain, Giuliani, Clinton

It is not receiving much attention, but a new report issued by Public Citizen indicates John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, and Hillary Clinton are among the candidates who are relying on lobbyists to bundle sizable cash contributions for their presidential campaigns:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has 59 lobbyist-bundlers raising money for him, almost twice as many as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has the second-highest number. Among Democrats, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) has garnered the most support from lobbyists, 20, a predictable outcome because her two main remaining competitors have eschewed support from individuals currently serving as lobbyists.

"The increasing involvement of lobbyists in fundraising is a worrisome trend," said David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. "It underscores the need to update the presidential public financing system so that presidential candidates won’t rely on influence peddlers to fuel their campaigns."

The roster of known lobbyist-bundlers for McCain grew substantially on Monday, when his campaign held a fundraiser at a tony Washington steakhouse. Among 29 co-chairs listed on an invitation for the event were 24 registered lobbyists.

The link above goes to a Public Citizen news release which includes a link to the full report.

McCain hanging on to slim advantage in Florida

With 47 percent of the vote counted, John McCain continues to hold on to a slim three-point advantage, 35 to 32 percent, over Mitt Romney in the Florida Republican primary.
Rudy Giuliani, who had counted on a win in Florida, is a distant third with 15 percent, barely ahead of Mike Huckabee, who has 13 percent. Ron Paul has three percent for fifth place.
Huckabee, who just spoke from Missouri, indicates he will concentrate on a number of states in the south and the midwest, many of which he is leading in the polls or at least doing well in them.
Giuliani is expected to drop out of the race.

Hulshof to run for governor

Ninth District Congressman Kenny Hulshof today- he is running for governor. So far, three candidates, Hulshof, Lt. Go Peter Kinder, and State Treasurer Sarah Steelman are running on the GOP side:

In a statement, Hulshof says, "In the coming months, I look forward to outlining my vision of a state government that makes Missourians proud, a government that always remembers that the people of Missouri are in charge."

Rowan Ford's stepfather asks for change of venue

David Spears, 25, Stella, the stepfather of nine-year-old murder victim Rowan Ford, has joined his co-defendant, Chris Collings, in asking for a change of venue. The motion was filed Jan. 24 in Barry County Circuit Court.
Spears and Collings are charged with first degree murder, forcible rape, and statutory rape in connection with Rowan Ford's murder.
Their next hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. March 18.

Edwards: I'm in it for the long run

Former Sen. John Edwards told an audience of more than 800 at Springfield Monday that he is is the presidential race for the long run:

"There have already been enormous ups and downs just in the four contests we've had. I expect there will continue to be ups and downs, and I'm going to be there working. That's what I'm going to do."

He told reporters his is a viable campaign and financially strong, having had the best fundraising month online since he began.

"And secondly," Edwards added, "I know when I get heard, this message works."

The approach seemed to work during the Springfield rally, where he essentially told Ozarkers that he is like them and their worries are his worries.

In the only reference to Bush's State of the Union address that night, Edwards said Bush would lay out an economic stimulus package that leaves out tens of millions of Americans who need help now. It's not expected to produce any results for months, he said.

Edwards also told the crowd that many Americans fear losing their jobs because they would lose health insurance, while millions live in fear of getting a serious illness because they have no health insurance at all.

He said some women will do their monthly breast exams and find a cancerous lump, as his wife did. But unlike the Edwards, who have health insurance, these women won't be able to get lifesaving treatments, he said. "You can't get chemotherapy at the emergency room."

"The only answer is real universal health care," he said, stirring more applause. His plan would cost $90 billion to $120 billion a year, he said, "But I've got a way to pay for it. Get rid of George Bush's tax cuts ..."

When asked how he would return jobs to America — such as hundreds in Springfield lost to Mexico when Zenith Corp. left — he blamed lost jobs on "terrible trade deals ... and NAFTA is one of the worst."

He said America needs to change its trade laws before it loses more jobs.

"That bleeding has to stop," Edwards said.

(Springfield News-Leader photos)

Column: the meaning of Kennedy's Obama endorsement

In a column in today's New York Times, David Brooks attempts to explain the importance and meaning of Sen. Ted Kennedy's decision to endorse the presidential candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama:

How could the septuagenarian Kennedy cast the younger Clintons into the past? He could do it because he evoked the New Frontier, which again seems fresh. He could do it because he himself has come to live a life of service.

After his callow youth, Kennedy came to realize that life would not give him the chance to be president. But life did ask him to be a senator, and he has embraced that role and served that institution with more distinction than anyone else now living — as any of his colleagues, Republican or Democrat, will tell you. And he could do it because culture really does have rhythms. The respect for institutions that was prevalent during the early ’60s is prevalent with the young again today. The earnest industriousness that was common then is back today. The awareness that we are not self-made individualists, free to be you and me, but emerge as parts of networks, webs and communities; that awareness is back again today.

Sept. 11th really did leave a residue — an unconsummated desire for sacrifice and service. The old Clintonian style of politics clashes with that desire. When Sidney Blumenthal expresses the Clinton creed by telling George Packer of The New Yorker, “It’s not a question of transcending partisanship. It’s a question of fulfilling it,” that clashes with the desire as well.

It’s not clear how far this altered public mood will carry Obama in this election. But there was something important and memorable about the way the 75-year-old Kennedy communed and bonded with a rapturous crowd half a century his junior.

The old guy stole the show

Romney, McCain attack each other on eve of Florida primary

There is no love lost between the two top candidates for the Republican presidential nomination.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Arizona Sen. John McCain ripped into each other Monday as they battled for Florida's 57 convention delegates:

Mr. Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, began attacking at dawn, accusing Mr. McCain of allying himself with liberal Democrats in the Senate and betraying conservative principles on legislation involving immigration, the environment and campaign finance.

“If you want that kind of a liberal Democratic course as president, then you can vote for him,” Mr. Romney said at a Texaco gas station in West Palm Beach at 6:30 a.m. “But those three pieces of legislation, those aren’t conservative. Those aren’t Republican.”

Mr. McCain volleyed back by describing Mr. Romney as a serial flip-flopper who had taken multiple positions on a variety of issues, including gay rights, global warming and immigration. “People, just look at his record as governor,” Mr. McCain said at a shipyard in Jacksonville. “He has been entirely consistent
. He has consistently taken two sides of every major issue, sometimes more than two.”

Giuliani indicates today may be last stand

Today may mark the end of the line for the presidential candidacy of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani:

Rudy Giuliani hinted yesterday that he might quit the race for president if he loses badly in today's Florida primary.

"When it's Wednesday morning, we'll make the decision," he said aboard his plane.

But while campaigning through the Gulf Coast and South Florida, the ex-mayor insisted he'd do fine if only his supporters would hit the polls.

Unfortunately, yesterday's early rallies near Orlando and in Clearwater and Fort Myers drew sparse crowds.

And, later, he gave reporters covering his campaign souvenir autographed baseballs - perhaps signaling that his daily interactions with the media were coming to an end.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Not much on the table from final Bush State of the Union address

Anyone expecting President Bush to go out with a bang on his final State of the Union message had to have been disappointed by tonight's insomnia cure.
I heard some analysts call it a "greatest hits" summary, but one would have to have hits in order for that to be true.
If the president's greatest hits were No Child Left Behind, the war in Iraq, jobs outsourced overseas, and deficits that are very much counter to what his party stands for, I would hate to hear what he considers to be his disappointments.
This was a president who had the nation solidly behind him on Sept. 11, 2001, and most of the world, and in a few short months squandered a fountain of good will.

This was a president who pushed through tax cuts for the wealthy, many of whom shipped workers overseas, and then had the nerve to brag about creating many lower-paying jobs.

This was a president who had the opportunity to do something to improve the lot of students across America and instead backed the horrendous No Child Left Behind, an anti-public school measure that imposes impossible benchmarks and has virtually sacrificed the teaching of history, government and the fine arts as schools have trimmed those subjects to concentrate on the federally-mandated math and reading.

This was a president who never showed any inclination to listen to anyone outside of his inner circle and did a horrible job of selecting those who were in that inner circle.

Even the Republican presidential candidates are not invoking President Bush's name.

When historians look over the last few decades, they often cite Richard Nixon as the Republican who brought shame to the White House. Maybe so, but Nixon also brought the Environmental Protection Agency, federal revenue sharing, and diplomatic initiatives to China and Russia.

Even with Watergate, Nixon stands taller than the current occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Live blogging planned for Florida primary

The pundits are expecting Tuesday's Florida GOP primary to mark the end of the road for "America's Mayor" Rudy Giuliani and another battle to the finish between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain.
Toss in former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Rep. Ron Paul and you have the makings of another fun night for political junkies. The Turner Report will be live blogging the primary coverage, plus adding stories on other subjects throughout the evening.

Wouldn't it be fun if Giuliani or Huckabee upset the top two and really threw a curve to the pundits and pollsters?

Make it three: It appears Hulshof will join Kinder, Steelman in GOP governor battle

Published reports indicate Rep. Kenny Hulshof will declare his candidacy for the Republican nomination for governor Tuesday, joining Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and State Treasurer Sarah Steelman in a battle royal:

He’s going to make a major announcement about the future of Missouri tomorrow,” John Hancock, a Missouri GOP consultant, said Monday night.

Hancock declined to say what the congressman’s plans were, but other Republicans said he was in the race and had begun calling top donors.

Many Republicans expect Hulshof to be a significant player in the race and regard him as an early favorite for the GOP nomination

(Kansas City Star photo)

Bond: Fighting terrorism is the challenge of our time

Sen. Kit Bond issued this release following President Bush's State of the Union message:

“As Republicans, we are a party of strong principles and good ideas. We understand the values that have made our country great, including freedom and responsibility. Tonight, with his theme of trust and empowerment – which is about giving Americans more say in the lives – President Bush echoed those principles.

“President Bush addressed the American people from the heart about the most pressing issues facing our country, like the economy and the war on terror.

“Families in Missouri, and across the nation, are struggling to pay more to put gas in their cars, heat their homes, put food on the table, and send their children to college. President Bush challenged Congress to help ease the burden on these families.

“Unless Congress is willing to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, more than 2 million Missouri families will face higher tax bills in 2011. Through common-sense tax relief, we can help small businesses create more jobs and working families keep more of what they earn.

“President Bush also talked about the importance of American leadership and resolve in the war on terror. In Iraq – the central battleground – General Petraeus’ counter insurgency strategy, backed up by the surge, is working.

“American troops are coming home on success – like my own son who recently returned from his second tour of duty. We can expect more and more of our men and women in uniform to return home as the conditions on the ground continue to improve.

“Fighting terrorism – in Iraq and around the world – is the challenge of our time. Because of the hard work of our intelligence operators and law enforcement officers, we have prevented another terrible tragedy on American soil like 9/11.

“As vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I can tell you that now is not the time for America to grow complacent. Terrorists will not quit trying to attack us here at home and democratic and freedom loving people around the world.

“It is critical that over the next year, Congress provide the tools, resources and freedom needed to continue to take the war to our enemy — and win.

“As the president stressed, one of the most important tools is our ability to track terrorist communications. On Feb. 1, the short-term law I sponsored – the Protect America Act, an early warning system that allows us to listen in on terrorists planning attacks – will expire.

“It is critical that we act now to pass long-term legislation to give our intelligence operators and law enforcement the tools they need prevent attacks here at home, protect our troops in the field and keep American families safe.”

Blunt: We stand ready and able to fight

Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt released the following statement after President Bush's seventh and final State of the Union address:

"The president used his final State of the Union address tonight to
bring a number of important issues to the forefront, none more important
than the challenge of keeping the American people safe and secure in a
dangerous, increasingly divisive world.

"To that end, I share the president's strong belief in the continued
need for good, sound intelligence. That can only be achieved by equipping
our intelligence community with the tools and authority they need to do
their job.

"One way Congress can provide those tools is to pass a long-term and
comprehensive plan to finally fix to our nation's foreign surveillance
laws. Unfortunately, all the majority appears willing to do is bring up a
short-term, short-sighted patch - as if the business of securing our nation
can be accomplished through a series of temporary extensions.

"As critical as strengthening our nation's security, the president also
talked about securing our economic future as well - both in the near-term,
as well as in promoting long-term growth. It is my hope that we can get the
economic stimulus package negotiated in the House to the president in next
several weeks. As it moves through the Senate, its focus should remain on
providing tax relief to individuals and businesses rather than finding new
ways for the government to spend money.

"As we look to strengthen our country's economic and national security,
international trade must be a part of the discussion. The president tonight
refocused attention on the importance of building relationships with our
friends in Latin America, and I couldn't agree more.

"Congress should respond by bringing forth the pending free trade
agreement with Colombia - a country of 45 million would-be consumers of
American products.

"The president insisted we must leave Iraq on our own terms, not those
of our enemy: a point of serious disagreement between Republicans and
Democrats in Congress. More than 60 separate votes were called on Iraq this
past year - few of them substantive, and even fewer put the needs of our
men and women in uniform first. It's my hope this new year will reveal a
new approach on this crucial issue from the majority.

"In the president's last year in office, I believe he stands behind the
podium in a much stronger position tonight than he did last year. He has
demonstrated his ability to lead our nation and take tough stands when
needed. We will not see President Bush coast to the finish - we will see a
strong sprint.

"Congress has a unique opportunity to finish the work of years past,
while creating the conditions necessary for Americans to succeed in the
future. We must work with the president to advance an agenda that keeps
taxes low, freedom intact, and our nation secure. To the extent possible,
Republicans look forward to working with our colleagues across the aisle on
these and other issues as the new year takes shape. Where necessary,
however, we stand ready and able to fight."

Old lion of the Democratic party Kennedy backs Obama candidacy

Sen. Ted Kennedy came out strong for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign today. Following is a transcript of Kennedy's speech:

Thank you, Caroline. Thank you for that wonderful introduction and for your courage and bold vision, for your insight and understanding, and for the power and reach of your words. Like you, we too "want a president who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again." Thank you, Caroline. Your mother and father would be so proud today.

Thank you, Patrick, for your leadership in Congress and for being here to celebrate and support a leader who truly has the power to inspire and make America good again, "from sea to shining sea."

Thank you, American University.

I feel change in the air.

Every time I've been asked over the past year who I would support in the Democratic Primary, my answer has always been the same: I'll support the candidate who inspires me, who inspires all of us, who can lift our vision and summon our hopes and renew our belief that our country's best days are still to come.

I've found that candidate. And it looks to me like you have too.

But first, let me say how much I respect the strength, the work and dedication of two other Democrats still in the race, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. They are my friends; they have been my colleagues in the Senate. John Edwards has been a powerful advocate for economic and social justice. And Hillary Clinton has been in the forefront on issues ranging from health care to the rights of women around the world. Whoever is our nominee will have my enthusiastic support.

Let there be no doubt: We are all committed to seeing a Democratic President in 2008.

But I believe there is one candidate who has extraordinary gifts of leadership and character, matched to the extraordinary demands of this moment in history.

He understands what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the "fierce urgency of now."

He will be a president who refuses to be trapped in the patterns of the past. He is a leader who sees the world clearly without being cynical. He is a fighter who cares passionately about the causes he believes in, without demonizing those who hold a different view.

He is tough-minded, but he also has an uncommon capacity to appeal to "the better angels of our nature."

I am proud to stand here today and offer my help, my voice, my energy and my commitment to make Barack Obama the next President of the United States.

Like most of the nation, I was moved four years ago as he told us a profound truth - that we are not, we must not be, just red states and blue states, but one United States. And since that time I have marveled at his grit and his grace as he traveled this country and inspired record turnouts of people of all ages, of all races, of all genders, of all parties and faiths to get "fired up" and "ready to go."

I've seen him connect with people from every walk of life and with Senators on both sides of the aisle. With every person he meets, every crowd he inspires, and everyone he touches, he generates new hope that our greatest days as a nation are still ahead, and this generation of Americans, like others before us, can unite to meet our own rendezvous with destiny.

We know the true record of Barack Obama. There is the courage he showed when so many others were silent or simply went along. From the beginning, he opposed the war in Iraq.

And let no one deny that truth.

There is the great intelligence of someone who could have had a glittering career in corporate law, but chose instead to serve his community and then enter public life.

There is the tireless skill of a Senator who was there in the early mornings to help us hammer out a needed compromise on immigration reform - who always saw a way to protect both national security and the dignity of people who do not have a vote. For them, he was a voice for justice.

And there is the clear effectiveness of Barack Obama in fashioning legislation to put high quality teachers in our classrooms - and in pushing and prodding the Senate to pass the most far-reaching ethics reform in its history.

Now, with Barack Obama, there is a new national leader who has given America a different kind of campaign - a campaign not just about himself, but about all of us. A campaign about the country we will become, if we can rise above the old politics that parses us into separate groups and puts us at odds with one another.

I remember another such time, in the 1960s, when I came to the Senate at the age of 30. We had a new president who inspired the nation, especially the young, to seek a new frontier. Those inspired young people marched, sat in at lunch counters, protested the war in Vietnam and served honorably in that war even when they opposed it.

They realized that when they asked what they could do for their country, they could change the world.

It was the young who led the first Earth Day and issued a clarion call to protect the environment; the young who enlisted in the cause of civil rights and equality for women; the young who joined the Peace Corps and showed the world the hopeful face of America.

At the fifth anniversary celebration of the Peace Corps, I asked one of those young Americans why they had volunteered.

And I will never forget the answer: "It was the first time someone asked me to do something for my country."

This is another such time.

I sense the same kind of yearning today, the same kind of hunger to move on and move America forward. I see it not just in young people, but in all our people.

And in Barack Obama, I see not just the audacity, but the possibility of hope for the America that is yet to be.

What counts in our leadership is not the length of years in Washington, but the reach of our vision, the strength of our beliefs, and that rare quality of mind and spirit that can call forth the best in our country and our people.

With Barack Obama, we will turn the page on the old politics of misrepresentation and distortion.

With Barack Obama, we will close the book on the old politics of race against race, gender against gender, ethnic group against ethnic group, and straight against gay.

With Barack Obama, we will close the door on the old economics that has written off the poor and left the middle class poorer and less secure.

He offers a strategy for prosperity - so that America will once again lead the world in better standards of life.

With Barack Obama, we will break the old gridlock and finally make health care what it should be in America - a fundamental right for all, not just an expensive privilege for the few.

We will make the United States the great leader and not the great roadblock in the fateful fight against global warming.

And with Barack Obama, we will end a war in Iraq that he has always stood against, that has cost us the lives of thousands of our sons and daughters, and that America never should have fought.

I have seen him in the Senate. He will keep us strong and defend the nation against real threats of terrorism and proliferation.

So let us reject the counsels of doubt and calculation.

Let us remember that when Franklin Roosevelt envisioned Social Security, he didn't decide - no, it was too ambitious, too big a dream, too hard.

When John Kennedy thought of going to the moon, he didn't say no, it was too far, maybe we couldn't get there and shouldn't even try.

I am convinced we can reach our goals only if we are "not petty when our cause is so great"-- only if we find a way past the stale ideas and stalemate of our times – only if we replace the politics of fear with the politics of hope – and only if we have the courage to choose change.

Barack Obama is the one person running for President who can bring us that change.

Barack Obama is the one person running for President who can be that change.

I love this country. I believe in the bright light of hope and possibility. I always have, even in the darkest hours. I know what America can achieve. I've seen it. I've lived it - and with Barack Obama, we can do it again.

I know that he's ready to be President on day one. And when he raises his hand on Inauguration Day, at that very moment, we will lift the spirits of our nation and begin to restore America's standing in the world.

There was another time, when another young candidate was running for President and challenging America to cross a New Frontier. He faced public criticism from the preceding Democratic President, who was widely respected in the party. Harry Truman said we needed "someone with greater experience" - and added: "May I urge you to be patient." And John Kennedy replied: "The world is changing. The old ways will not do…It is time for a new generation of leadership."

So it is with Barack Obama. He has lit a spark of hope amid the fierce urgency of now.

I believe that a wave of change is moving across America. If we do not turn aside, if we dare to set our course for the shores of hope, we together will go beyond the divisions of the past and find our place to build the America of the future.

My friends, I ask you to join in this historic journey -- to have the courage to choose change.

It is time again for a new generation of leadership.

It is time now for Barack Obama.

(Photograph by Mannie Garcia, AFP)

Kansas governor delivers State of the Union response

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius delivered the response to the State of the Union address tonight. The transcript of that address follows:

I'm Kathleen Sebelius, Governor of the State of Kansas.

And I am grateful for the opportunity to speak with you tonight.

I'm a Democrat, but tonight, it really doesn't matter whether you think of yourself as a Democrat or a Republican or an Independent. Or none of the above.

Instead, the fact you're tuning in this evening tells me each of you is, above all, an American, first.

You are mothers, and fathers. Grandparents and grandchildren. Working people and business-owners. Americans, all.

And the American people - folks like you and me - are not nearly as divided as our rancorous politics might suggest.

In fact, right now, tonight, as political pundits discuss the President's speech - chances are, they'll obsess over the reactions of members of Congress.

"How many times was the President interrupted by applause? Did Republicans stand? Did Democrats sit?"

And the rest of us will roll our eyes and think, "What in the world does any of that have to do with me?"

And, so, I want to take a slight detour from tradition on this State of the Union night.

In this time, normally reserved for the partisan response, I hope to offer you something more:

An American Response.

A national call to action on behalf of the struggling families in the heartland, and across this great country. A wakeup call to Washington, on behalf of a new American majority, that time is running out on our opportunities to meet our challenges and solve our problems.

Our struggling economy requires urgent and immediate action, and then sustained attention. Families can't pay their bills. They are losing their jobs, and now are threatened with losing their homes.

We heard last week and again tonight that Congress and the President are acting quickly, on a temporary, targeted stimulus package. That is encouraging. But you and I know that a temporary fix is only the first step toward meeting our challenges and solving our problems.

There is a chance, Mr. President, in the next 357 days, to get real results, and give the American people renewed optimism that their challenges are the top priority. Working together, working hard, committing to results, we can get the job done.

In fact, over the last year, the Democratic majority in Congress has begun to move us in the right direction - with bipartisan action to strengthen our national security, raise the minimum wage, and reduce the costs of college loans.

These are encouraging first steps. But there is still more to be done.

And, so we ask you, Mr. President - will you join us? Let's get to work.

We know that we are stronger as a nation when our people have access to the highest-quality, most-affordable health care. When our businesses can compete in the global marketplace without the burden of rising health care costs here at home.

We know that caring for our children, so they have a healthy and better start in life, is what grownups do. Governors in both parties, and a large majority of the Congress are ready, right now, to provide health care to 10 million American children, as a first step in overhauling our health care system.

Join us, Mr. President, sign the bill and let's get to work.

Sitting with the First Lady tonight was Steve Hewitt, the city manager of Greensburg, Kansas. Many of you remember Greensburg - our town nearly destroyed by a tornado last year.

Thanks to Steve's efforts, and hundreds of others in our state, and across the country, Greensburg will recover. Folks rolled up their sleeves and got to work, and local, state and federal governments assisted in the effort.

But more than just recover - the Kansans who live in Greensburg are building green - rebuilding a better community for their children and grandchildren; making shared sacrifices, and investments for the next generation.

Greensburg is not alone. You and I - stand ready - ready to protect our environment for future generations, and stay economically competitive. Mayors have committed their cities to going green; governors have joined together, leading efforts for energy security and independence; and the majority in Congress is ready to tackle the challenge of reducing global warming and creating a new energy future for America.

So we ask you, Mr. President, will you join us? It's time to get to work.

Here in the heartland, we honor and respect military service. We appreciate the enormous sacrifices made by soldiers and their families.

As Governor of Kansas, I am the Commander in Chief of our National Guard. Over the past five years, I have seen thousands of soldiers deployed from Kansas. I've visited our troops in Iraq; attended funerals and comforted families; and seen the impact at home of the war being waged.

We stand ready in the heartland and across this country, to join forces with peace-loving nations across the globe and to fight the war against terrorists, wherever they may strike. But our capable and dedicated soldiers can't solve the political disputes where they are, and can't focus on the real enemies elsewhere.

The new Democratic majority of Congress and the vast majority of Americans are ready - ready to chart a new course. If more Republicans in Congress stand with us this year, we won't have to wait for a new President to restore America's role in the world, and fight a more effective war on terror.

The last five years have cost us dearly - in lives lost; in thousands of wounded warriors whose futures may never be the same; in challenges not met here at home because our resources were committed elsewhere. America's foreign policy has left us with fewer allies and more enemies.

Join us, Mr. President, and working together with Congress to make tough, smart decisions, we will regain our standing in the world and protect our people and our interests.

I know government can work to benefit the people we serve, because I see it every day, not only here in Kansas, but in states across the country. I know government can work, Mr. President, because like you, I grew up in a family committed to public service. My father and my father-in-law both served in Congress - one a Republican and one a Democrat. They had far more in common than the issues that divided them - a love for their country that led them from military service to public service. A lifetime of working for the common good, making sacrifices so their children and grandchildren could have a better future.

They are called "the greatest generation." But I believe, like parents across America, that our greatest generations are still to come. That we must chart a new course, at home and abroad, to give our future greatest generations all the opportunities our parents gave us.

These are uncertain times, but with strength and determination, we can meet the challenges together. If Washington can work together, so quickly, on a short-term fix for families caught in the financial squeeze, then we can work together to transform America.

In these difficult times - the American people aren't afraid to face difficult choices.

But, we have no more patience for divisive politics.

Tonight's address begins the final year of this presidency, with new leaders on the horizon and uncertainty throughout our land. Conditions we face, at home and abroad, are results of choices made and challenges unmet.

In spite of the attempts to convince us that we are divided as a people, a new American majority has come together. We are tired of leaders who rather than asking what we can do for our country, ask nothing of us at all.

We are Americans sharing a belief in something greater than ourselves, a nation coming together to meet challenges and find solutions; to share sacrifices and share prosperity; and focus, once again, not only on the individual good but on the common good.

On behalf of the new American majority - the majority of elected officials at the national, state and local level, and the majority of Americans - we ask you, Mr. President, to join us. We are ready to work together, to be the America we have been - and can be once again.

Thank you for listening. God bless and sleep well. And in the morning, let's get to work.